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Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?

Related threads:
Atheist Hymns (94)
Lyr Req: For the Godless March on Washington (72)
Can a believer sing Atheist songs? (141)
Godless March on Washington - looking for songs (5) (closed)
Atheist Hymnal (71)
Lyr Add: Godless America (13)
Can you sing 'Gospel' without Belief? (108)


Cruiser 21 Dec 03 - 02:18 AM
DonMeixner 21 Dec 03 - 02:22 AM
Bill D 21 Dec 03 - 12:48 PM
John Hardly 21 Dec 03 - 01:12 PM
GUEST,Gene Burton 21 Dec 03 - 01:24 PM
mack/misophist 21 Dec 03 - 02:59 PM
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Big Tim 22 Dec 03 - 12:33 PM
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Subject: BS: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Cruiser
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 02:18 AM

I was perusing the BS threads and noticed the one titled "Can a believer sing Atheist songs" and thought: Can an atheist sing believer songs?

As an atheist, later in life, I often sang "believer" songs to my young son while I rocked him when he was sick (Amazing Grace) or 'He's got the Whole World' we he tagged along while I worked. At the table I taught him to say Grace by reciting "Our Hands We Fold, Our heads we bow, For food and drink We thank Thee now". For fun when he was learning to talk we would sing Who Built The Ark? (Noah, Noah! Talk about a religious song earworm!), Onward Christian Soldiers, Do Lord, and 'I'm In The Lord's Army'. To help keep him from getting into trouble and avoid time-outs, I taught him Jesus Sees Me (…"when I sleep, play, all the time", and I took some lyrical liberties and expanded them to include "Jesus sees me when I'm bad").   Whisper A Prayer was sometimes sung in the evening I would sometimes help him recite the old standard 'Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep' as a bedtime prayer. I still often think of those good old church hymns, spirituals, and country music "gospel" standards. They will forever be part of my "mental song" repertoire even though I may never sing them again. I must add that the world of music would be much less rich without these songs penned by ecclesiastically inspired lyricists and songwriters.   


I knew and loved all those songs (and many more, especially 'The B-I-B-L-E') as a lad going to Sunday School and church with my Mother and sometimes by myself. I looked forward to singing those "Jesus" songs:
'Jesus Loves The Little Children', 'Jesus Loves Me', and 'Oh, How I Love Jesus', and 'What A Friend We Have In Jesus'. I was baptized a Christian in a Southern Baptist church. I often got attendance pins for not missing any scheduled functions, including choir practice (which I loved), for the whole year.

While in college I began to question my faith partly because of the freethinking atmosphere. My science courses made me wonder how an anthropomorphic God could exist without credible, objective, empirical evidence. I slowly became an agnostic but still wanted to believe after my college graduation and through my tour of duty in the Army during the Viet Nam era. I lost my brother, a fine Green Beret Officer, in Laos and that was the turning point for me.

Even though I consider myself a "strong atheist" I am tolerant of religious belief though I don't see why a belief in the "God Hypothesis" should be necessary. All of my relatives are bible-belt Christians and I respect their beliefs and customs but don't participate in prayer before meals though I stand or sit quietly while other heads are bowed and grace is spoken. My relatives can't understand how I can be the moral person I am with out being a believer. It is very clear to me because I know I am solely responsible for my actions with out guidance from a voice or image "up above" but from a conscience within.

I reason that if humans knew this was their only chance at life (no afterlife) they would treat their fellow man justly based on moral grounds instead of the threat of holy punishment (fire and brimstone) or for reunion with loved ones as a reward for obedience. One would also realize that punishment (including death for serious crimes) would be meted out here and now instead of at the improbable pearly gates. Often you will hear a criminal that is guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, (and others that probably got away with murder) say "God and I know I am innocent and he is the only one that can judge me". What bothers me is Christians and other believers think that God will punish the person later and he avoids the real "he can feel" punishment on this earth. He therefore never receives what he deserves and his crimes are forever unavenged while his victims and their families suffer. I also don't see the logic of wasting mental and physical energy asking for holy forgiveness for "sins" committed or sins one might be capable of committing in the future.

The conundrum: I am not sure I would have become the same decent, moral man if I had not been exposed to the Christian teaching as a young boy and young man. So, and to finish the reason I started this thread, an atheist can sing believer songs. The reason I did was to give my son the opportunity to experience many sides of the issue and let him make up his own mind as to the value of believing in a deity or not. He now is a Christian, goes to church, helps out at many ecclesiastical functions, and is a drummer in a church band. He, like his old man did, is asking some of the same questions about the existence of God. I simply tell him my reasoned opinion, to read all he can on the subject, and reach his own researched conclusions. I would prefer he follow the science and reason out the evidence for himself. I told him whatever conclusion he reached that to berate the other view maliciously or with contempt is unjustified. However, I mentioned fringe religions espousing irrational martyrdom and "if you don't believe in Christ the way we do you are going to …" proclamations are radical and deserve complete skepticism and measured criticism. Finally, that the separation of church and state is crucial. As a registered Republican who voted for Mr. Bush, I abhor his preachiness and the omnipresent "may God continue to bless America" valediction after his speeches (especially the day after September 11 were we could use less of those kinds of "continued blessings").

To close, an important lesson I learned from the powerful Scientific Method is "right or wrong, the God hypothesis is untestable". Simply stated, "the concept of God is outside the domain of science and science cannot legitimately say anything about "him".

Ron

Humming "Beyond the sunset, oh blissful morning, when with our…" as I prepare for the night and another beautiful sunrise tomorrow, the first day of winter.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 02:22 AM

A good song doesn't care who sings it.

Don


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Subject: RE: BS: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Bill D
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 12:48 PM

Bok, Trickett & Muir once introduced a song called "The Middle Class Life is the Best of All" with the comment "...you don't have to believe everything you sing."

Why, I sing "The Stern Old Batchelor"

("..I do believe I'll never live with women anymore.."

so, sure...I have sung in Christian gospel workshops with Baptists, Episcopalians, Jews, agnostics and atheists. Each felt inwardly whatever was right for them...but the songs were wonderful and made everyone happy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: John Hardly
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 01:12 PM

there is a difference between "empirical" and "real". Both mythos and logos are held in esteme by most thinkers. The choice of one over the other is quite possibly choosing ignorance, regardless of which of the two you choose to exclude.

...Oh, and I don't mind if you sing Believer songs.

"...she said, 'Are you a christian?'......I said, 'Man, I am tonight!'" M. Cohn


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Subject: RE: BS: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST,Gene Burton
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 01:24 PM

Obviously, yes. Whether they understand them is another matter (although admittedly that goes for some believers as well).


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Subject: RE: BS: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: mack/misophist
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 02:59 PM

If you're truly serious about the question, my answer would be "Treat the songs like booze. Keep them away from children." Wait until the child is old enough to understand that they're only songs, and what the difference is.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 03:14 PM

If you come to the South Yorkshire Carols (se other thread) then you will undoubtedly meet many people who sing sogns they don't believe in. And they are great songs.

Regards,

Dave
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 06:22 PM

Sure an atheist can sing believer songs. I've known atheists who would do practically anything for money... :-)

The real question is: Can he enjoy doing it?

- LH


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Ebbie
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 06:42 PM

"I grabbed her by her golden curls
And dragged her round and round
I threw her into the river
That flows through Knoxville town"

I sing it with fervor but with the proviso that I ain't likely to do it.

:)


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: freda underhill
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 07:49 AM

..i wanted to become an athiest, but they don't have any holidays.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Willie-O
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 08:41 AM

Sure we do Freda. We take 'em whenever we like and there are no social obligations attached. ;)=

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Rapparee
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 12:16 PM

Don't see why not. Lots of those who profess to be "Christian" and aren't sing 'em.

'Tain't what ya believe, but what ya live, that matters.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Pied Piper
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 12:29 PM

I don't have any problem singing hymns even though I'm a vehament Athiest.
I play Pipes at a lot of funerals and some times I stop in through the service, and not to stand up and sing in the hymns would be disrespectfull.

"I've known atheists who would do practically anything for money"

Whareas the new age cristal waving, crop circling mudcat Sanyasi do everything for higher reasons and would not soil there hands with the petty trinkets of Maya.

TTFN
PP


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Big Tim
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 12:33 PM

I still love singing the Catholic hymns that I learned as a child, eg, Faith of Our Fathers, even though I no longer have the slightest tincture of religious faith.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 12:34 PM

But can a blue sing the whites?


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST,Nancy King at work
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 12:55 PM

We had a really good discussion of this topic here.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 01:27 PM

All those gospel songs about bloody lambs and the war imagery don't jive with my beliefs as a liberal Catholic, and the technology metaphors like the "Royal Telephone" and "Turn Your Radio On" and "Life Is Like a Mountain Railroad" strike me as silly - but I love those old gospel songs because they're so colorful. I wonder, though, if I am disrespectful in singing those songs - since I sing them for fun and not for faith. I admit that sometimes I ham them up, but believers who sing with me don't seem to be taken aback.

I don't agree with the theology in most "negro spirituals," but I have no problem singing most of them seriously, because so many are so darn beautiful. I think that if I find a song beautiful or interesting, I have no trouble singing it seriously, even if I might not agree with the ideas expressed in it.

For me, my personal moral code is far more important than the moral beliefs of my church, although the two usually coincide. My moral code dicates that I must tolerate almost everything but hatred and intolerance. I can't think of any "atheist songs" that are intolerant of believers - I suppose there are some, and I probably would have trouble singing those. There are lots of Christian songs (and some Roman Catholic ones) that are intolerant of other beliefs, and those I either can't sing, or I sing with a bit of trepidation. Great Speckled Bird is a good example - it's such a good song that I hate not to sing it, but it shows a lot of intolerance for ideals that are sacred to me. I suppose I also have trouble singing Christian songs that are drippingly sentimental, since they portray Christianity in a light that is embarrassing to me.

In fact, I may have more trouble singing songs of my own faith that I think misrepresent that faith, than I do singing songs of other beliefs.

-Joe Offer-



I think this is a valid musical issue, and I'm going to move this thread up to the "music" area of the forum.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Amos
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 01:37 PM

Personally I think it is a non-issue; any singer worthy of the art is capable of singing songs he does not personally believe in. I could probably do a convincing rendition of Deutschland Uber Alles if I knew the lyrics, but I wouldn't deign to, in general. Not that I could not, but that I would not choose to do so.

I can certainly sing believer songs, because although I do not share the Christian faith, nor its iconophilic passions, I am replete with faith and passion of my own, and I am sensitive to human situations, or at least try to be.

A


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Cruiser
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 01:41 PM

Thanks Nancy (and the other posters as well).

I did a Search before I started this thread and did not find the one you just linked, thanks. That thread does not occur on the "Related Threads:" section at the top of this page either, as I would expect.

Mudcat never ceases to amaze me. Thank you all for your reasoned responses and to Joe and/or the other "clones" for the "behind the scenes" work (like removing the BS designation I put on this thread and I guess since there is some "philosophizing" it is appropriately placed here in the BS section since it is probably borderline).

I must admit that I only infrequently venture into the BS section "down there below the Music posts" but realize from perusing the articles, as opposed to just skimming them, it should not be summarily dismissed.

Ron
    Thanks for pointing out the Gospel/Belief thread, Ron. I added it to the crosslinks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Cruiser
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 01:45 PM

Joe,

Our posts crossed through cyperspace, or I am just a slow typist.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 04:12 PM

Hey, what about us agnostics? We can sing just about any damned (or blessed) thing!

I have no more use for the mindset that is *sure* that nothing exists beyond human understanding than I do for the most fundamentalist systems that claim specific knowledge of God, and presume to know what He thinks of me.

And in this season of goodwill, on the very date of the equinox, let's not forget that we humans have been celebrating Yuletide since long before the birth of Christ. Roast poultry and alcohol for everyone!


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 04:36 PM

"Treat the songs like booze. Keep them away from children."

I don't think that's the right way to treat either songs or booze. But be sensible about it.

...................

The Great Speckled Bird - seems to me that all that needs to ease out the sectarianism Joe finds worrying is to change the one verse from

All the other churches are against her
They envy her glory and fame;
..."


to something like

All the wide world is against her
It laughs at her glory and fame..."


And so forth. That's called being Ecumenical with the truth...


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Cruiser
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 06:33 PM

Hey McGarth, I thought ecumenicalism was something about promoting unity among churches or religions, ergo a worldwide Christian church. However, I guess it can mean "universal" as it seems to apply in your phrase: "Ecumenical (universal) with the truth".

Those many English words that have more than one (often broad) meaning are often a source of confusion to me.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 07:32 PM

And in this season of goodwill, on the very date of the equinox, let's not forget that we humans have been celebrating Yuletide since long before the birth of Christ. Roast poultry and alcohol for everyone!

ER - scuse me but -

Isn't it a solstice? - the equinox is the other one, when the clocks change, the solstice is when the years change.

No body ever wrote a song about an equinox - did they?

Anne


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Subject: Lyr Add: EQUINOCTIAL AND PHOEBE
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 07:53 PM

Well, there's EQUINOCTIAL AND PHOEBE:

Equinoctial swore by the green leaves on the tree
That he could do more work in a day than Phoebe could do in three, three,
That he could do more work in a day than Phoebe could do in three.

"If tha be so," Phoebe said, "then this you must allow:
You must do my work for a day, and I'll go follow the plow, plow,
You must do my work for a day, and I'll go follow the plow.

"You must milk the Tiny cow for fear that she go dry,
And you must feed the little pigs that live in yonder sty, sty,
And you must feed the little pigs that live in yonder sty.

"You must watch the speckled hen that she does not run astray,
And you must wind the hank of yarn that I spun yesterday,
And you must wind the hank of yarn that I spun yesterday."

Phoebe took the staff in her hand and went to follow the plow,
The old man took the pail in his hand and went to milk the cow, cow,
The old man took the pail in his hand and went to milk the cow.

But Tiny hinched and Tiny flinched, and Tiny buckled her nose,
She hit the old man such a blow that the blood ran to his toes, toes,
She hit the old man such a blow that the blood ran to his toes.

And when he'd milked the Tiny cow that she would not go dry,
He went to feed the little pigs that lived in yonder sty, sty,
He went to feed the little pigs that lived in yonder sty.

But while he fed the little pigs, the hen did run astray,
He forgot about the hank of yarn that sh'd spun yesterday,
He forgot about the hank of yarn that sh'd spun yesterday.

He looked to the east, he looked to the west, he looked to the setting sun,
He swore to his heart it had been a long day, and Phoebe would never come, come,
He swore to his heart it had been a long day, and Phoebe would never come.

He swore by all the stars in the sky and all the skies in heaven
That Phoebe could do more work in a day than he could do in seven,
That Phoebe could do more work in a day than he could do in seven.

....................

"Ecumenical with the truth" is a reference to a famous quote from an English Civil Servant, who'd been caught out trying to deceive people in behalf of his political masters, when he said that he had been "Economical with the truth". Perhaps it never made it across the Atlantic.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Peace
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 07:54 PM

Oh, equinox,
Oh, equinox,
The turkey's on the chopping block.
Oh, solstice time,
Oh, solstice time,
The equinox verse doesn't rhyme.
Oh, Christmas tree,
Oh, Christmas tree,
Forget me not and I'll forget not thee.
Oh, think a bit,
Oh, think a bit,
The verse above don't scan for sh#t.

And to all a good night.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 08:16 PM

Good brucie, Real good.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 09:27 PM

Next year the Spring Equinox is on March 20th, so here is a song we all know in a Spring Equinox version -

Th Greenland Whale Fishery

It was the year of eighteen five and March the twentieth day
When our gallant ship from her anchor swayed
To the seas she bore away, brave boys, to the seas she bore away...


Easter is an Equinox, Santa comes on a Solstice.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Peace
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 10:22 PM

Thank you GUEST. It was an inspired moment. No applause necessary. It's a gift.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST,MC Fat
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 05:59 AM

I agree with Foliedave. I'm a second genration atheist and there's nothing better I like than singing the South Yorkshire Carols and it's fair to say that if you mentioned religion I think they'd throw you out.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 07:45 AM

Isn't an agnostic a gutless atheist?


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: John Hardly
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 09:08 AM

no. An agnostic is one who isn't sure if there is a God...

...but is ABSOLUTELY convinced that you can't know either.

The atheist is just a little angrier at God than that. *BG*


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 09:27 AM

a priest friend of mine once told me that he thought the vehemence of some atheists belief that there is no god was the best rational he had for the existance of god. illogical - but then faith is illogical.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: John Hardly
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 09:45 AM

MMario,

That's not too illogical. When someone is comfortable with what they believe (it seems to me) that they feel little need for "vehemence". If those "vehement" atheists were comfortable in their own atheism, they wouldn't care, one way or the other, whether others did believe in a god.

The converse would somewhat be the same way except that those coming from the perspective of faith are often evangelical -- not because of their weak faith's need to convince others in order to fully believe themselves, but rather, because when someone has something good, and that good is percieved to be in other's best interest, they wish to share it.

Of course, there are those who are evangelical exactly because of their weak faith (and a need to convince others in order to fully believe themselves)...

...and those guys just kinda piss you off.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 09:55 AM

Just as I was falling off to sleep last night, I realized that I had posted "equinox" when I meant,of course, "solstice." I briefly considered jumping out of bed to post a retraction, but . . . naaaah!

I suppose it shows I'm about as serious about paganism as I am about my cast-off Catholicism (not much).

Anyway, I'm glad to see y'all had so much fun with it -- well worth any slight embarrassment I might be feeling. (I'm not usually that stupid/careless.)

Also, I suppose I'm not a true agnostic; I do believe in a higher something-or-other, and that we humans can aspire to union with said Divine by transcending our egos and caring for others. I'm just very skeptical of any doctrine or organization that claims to have all the answers about That which surpasseth all human understanding.

Also, speaking of agnosticism: DId you hear the one about the dyslexic agnostic insomniac?

He kept himself awake all night wondering whether or not there's a dog.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 10:41 AM

Also, there are nautical songs about the equinoctial (sp?) gales, like the one where the fine young man went overboard... married to a mermaid at the bottom of the deep blue sea. Good song, will check the db or post lyrics...


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Subject: LYR.ADD.:Trouble in Heaven
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 10:52 AM

Having scanned this thread I'm thinking that maybe we just need some well written aethist songs. My mother was never one to find any comfort in the newer gods. She respects nature and has fought to protect the environment, and sometimes she communes with the older, some would say, pagan gods:

TROUBLE IN HEAVEN
(Words by Dahlov Ipcar, Circa 1975 Tune: "The Falcon" by Richard Farina)


The archangels we meet all carry spears
And have an angry look as if to say,
"Though God's been dead in Heaven these long years,
Don't be trying to put us away!"

Chorus:

The lessor angels form protective bands,
They dare not go out late at night;
They speak in whispers of "trouble" in this land,
They, no longer seek the light.

Our prophets say He was a God of Love,
And speak of a freedom we never knew;
But by their every action seem to prove
That God was a tyrant and a bigot too.

Chorus:

The lessor angels form protective bands,
They dare not go out late at night;
They speak in whispers of "trouble" in this land,
They, no longer seek the light.

Final (spoken):
Lucifer smiles as patiently he waits,
Until the day we open wide the gates.

In these troubled times, I find this song worth musing over again.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 01:44 PM

" When someone is comfortable with what they believe (it seems to me) that they feel little need for "vehemence"."

Well, John Hardly, I see the point...but I also at least think I see why some DO feel strongly...and often vehemently..about the issue.
MMario noted that "faith is illogical", a position treated in great detail by philosopher Sören Kierkegaard in "Fear and Trembling" and other works. Since history is full of abuses, wars, hate and intolerance done in the name of religion, there are many who get very irate that what they consider an 'illogical' position to begin with can lead to so much suffering. "Why", they say, "if God exists, and is so great, does so much evil happen?"
....Well, we know that there are various theological answers to that oft asked question...and we also know that a lot of good is done through religion....but these days, when there is a great deal of ill will being espoused and violence being done, fueled by religious fervor, I can see why some would be tempted to "vehemence" in their opposition.

I had a friend tell me once, many years ago, that "the conflict in Ireland is not 'about' religion"....but I replied to him.."yeah, but it sure is the identifying marker when they want to shoot or bomb each other"....

it is simply that some think that(if they think at all), if logic and reasonable debate do not make men aware of the folly of their positions, then 'perhaps' vehemence will get their attention


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 01:54 PM

In Northern Ireland, as in many (most?) "religious" wars, it's not about religious belief, it's about about religious affiliation. As in the old jokes about "Are you a Catholic Atheist or a Pritestant Atheist?" Or even "Are you a Catholic Jew or a Protestant Jew?"


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: John Hardly
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 02:21 PM

Faith may or may not be logical...

...but it is inevitable.

It is equally illogical (seems to me) to make your life's judgement about generalized "religion" when "religion" is not general. Each religion is quite specific. You may decide that, given the scope of what is out there to discover and analyze, "I ain't got time for this!" or even admit that you're too lazy to give a damn (that'd be me most of the time!). But to ascribe collective behavior to something that is not "collective" is not good logic.

If A does not equal B does not equal C does not equal...

They ain't zackly all wrong. They MAY be (all wrong).....but the same empirical method that would demand that one dismiss God because of his "unprovability", should require the application of that same standard for your "collective religion" theory.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 04:47 PM

Ho! Ho! I am such a troll at times. I knew some aggrieved atheist out there would flip out over that "do anything for money" comment, and SURE I could just as well have said the same thing about some ( or many) evangelists or baptists, couln't I? You betcha! :-) With bells on. I was an atheist myself until about age 23, and figured I already knew just about all there was to know about reality, in a general sense. It's great to be 23 and know everything.

Greed for money? It's commonly found in every category of both believers and non-believers. My point was that it might weigh larger in the mind of the hypothetical singer of the religious song than the choice about which song to sing.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Peace
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 05:13 PM

"Can an Atheist Sing Believer Songs?" Does this thread or does not this thread have a punchline? I've been waiting for two f##kin' days.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 05:34 PM

I'm still waiting for the song, brucie.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Peace
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 05:50 PM

I sing to those of little faith,
A question in the telling;
I sing to Thee or thee, you see,
The answer's in the spelling.

Now, what's the punchline?

Have a good Christmas, Robin. BM


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Cruiser
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 06:18 PM

I am not sure if this will satisfy as a punch line but I will restate what I wrote in my original thread opening this discourse:

"So, and to finish the reason I started this thread an atheist can sing believer songs. The reason I did was to give my son the opportunity to experience many sides of the issue and let him make up his own mind as to the value of believing in a deity or not".

I would prefer that brucie would be willing to wait another, er, period of time so the many philosophies, beliefs, opinions, etc. would flow from the people whom chose to contribute. With the excellent archival abilities of the Mudcat Café, people can respond whenever possible.

I still have believer songs in my head and I will never forget what they meant to me and I will probably join in with a chorus of believers when 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken' is sung. At least I might attempt to back them up on the fiddle if not join in on the vocals.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Peace
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 06:47 PM

Cruiser: I was joking. Have a good Christmas time. BM


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 06:53 PM

John Hardly...I sorta feel I should debate with you, but I ain't 'zactly sure what you said..

"..faith is inevitable"? hmmm??

" "religion" is not general."... I don't know what that means. I know 'not all religions are the same'...but that doesn't seem to be what you mean. IF you mean that one cannot apply a 'general' belief/attitude to *religion* in general, I think I'd have to disagree.
One can say "I believe that there IS some guiding, spiritual essence to the universe, though I haven't picked a set of rules" or one can say the opposite.."I think the Universe just is with NO sentient force behind it." You may be wrong, either way, but those are ways to 'generalize' about religion...unless I have totally missed your point...


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Peace
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 07:49 PM

One of the great truths is this: God exists or doesn't exist. Not very profound, but I'm aging.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: John Hardly
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 08:40 PM

Yup. Faith is inevitable. Faith is usually accepted as the domain of the religious but that just ain't so. Whatever philosophy drives your life is based primarily on faith.

Nobody has the where-withall to empirically test all the stuff in which they believe -- all the stuff that make rhyme and reason of their lives.

So, like a house of cards, all these life-driving philosophies still, ultimately, are taken on faith.

And of course you knew what I meant about generalizing about religion.

When it is convenient, all religion is lumped into one steaming pile of shit and dismissed as irrational. Then one merely has to walk away with their superior intellect, having soundly dismissed the greater percentage of thinkers that have lived or currently live.

...and all based on "provability" not "truth" or "reality".

The same mind that will dismiss God as "unprovable" believes unswervingly in "string theory".


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 09:25 PM

"When it is convenient.." for whom? I don't 'lump & dismiss', and I seldom meet anyone who does. THAT seems like a pretty broad generalization to me.

I think you are using a pretty loose concept of 'faith'. Faith usually refers to not even trying, to test one's beliefs. If I say I follow the Scientific Method, and try to test my hypotheses, do you call THAT 'faith'?

And that "...greater percentage of thinkers that have lived.." notion...what did THEY dismiss in order to arrive at what I assume you mean is a 'religious' position? In any case, I don't do that either.

"The same mind that will dismiss God as "unprovable" believes unswervingly in "string theory".....well, like your other examples, it seems like you are postulating extreme examples, and then ridiculing them suggesting that this is common behavior.

There are some folks who act as you say on both sides of the issue, but there are careful, thoughtful, reasonable folks who simply do NOT take their positions on faith alone, unless you hold to a pretty simplistic notion of 'faith'....but *shrug*..., it's like 'folk', I can't force anyone to accept narrow definitions.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: NobleSavage
Date: 24 Dec 03 - 02:22 AM

Mr. Hardly--

Might one ask you to explain the difference between "faith" and "belief"?

Just curious.

NS


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Dec 03 - 07:11 AM

In America consumerism is the Guiding Light. More Americans worship at Walmart on a Sunday than in churches, imo.

Freda and Willie-O, there's no money in anything which does not have holidays, so...if Walmart etc. can't make a go of it, it just won't catch on!**bg**

Ron, I love some of the old songs, too, although they were not emphasised much when I was growing up. We were left to figure out what we believed in on our own with some guidance from my mom and dad. Now, though I am pagan(ish), I do still sing Nearer My God to Thee (sung at every Job's Daughter's "do",) Amazing Grace, and a few others.

Interesting thread, thanks for starting it.

kat


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 24 Dec 03 - 11:33 AM

Flat-out atheism is completely different from skepticism or doubt -- it is an absolute assertion that nothing beyond human understanding could possibly exist. As far as I'm concerned, that's as arrogant and irrational as the most intolerant brands of religion.

As for me, I don't know what to expect when I pass away from this plane of existence to the next, but I'm sure it'll be a big surprise, something I could never possibly have imagined. I hope, and pretty much expect, it'll be a pleasant surprise - which is a form of faith, I suppose. (Faith in my own efforts to seek after truth and to behave as well as can be expected, anyway.)

Of course, if I don't maintain or regain consciousness of any kind, that'll be OK as well -- I'll never know the difference, right?

In the meanwhile, let's keep on arguing and discussing, and better yet, singing and playing.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: NobleSavage
Date: 24 Dec 03 - 09:32 PM

PoppaGator,

. . .it is an absolute assertion that nothing beyond human understanding could possibly exist.

I find myself confused by this statment.

In the first place, athiests that I have any experience with tend not to assert anything regarding existential claims without solid evidence to support those assertions. It seems to me that for an assertion to be seen as absolute it must indeed be supported by evidence. You seem to be claiming that this is not so.

I admit the possibility that some people at the extreme end of that philosophy might hold that belief, but not as many as you seem to believe.

Secondly, human understanding of what? It seems to me that since I am human, that any understanding that I am capable of regarding anything at all would be human understanding.

Now for the on-topic answer--

I, myself am agnostic. I am comfortable singing some believer songs, as long as the core message of the song is something I can agree with, or if it is just too good a song to resist--(I will confess a weakness for shape-note songs.)

I prefer to cultivate music that is more secular/humanistic in nature, though.

NS


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Dec 03 - 10:01 PM

Belief in God is based on experience (of various sorts) and faith. Disbelief in God is likewise based on experience (of various sorts) and faith. Belief in party politics is based on experience (of various sorts) and faith. Belief in anything you can be bothered debating about is based on experience (of various sorts) and faith.

Yes. Faith is inevitable. Only...faith in what? is the question.

As for God, the concept termed "God" can be defined in so many different ways that there is simply no end to it. To disbelieve in all of them would be virtually impossible...except as an act of faith.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: NobleSavage
Date: 24 Dec 03 - 10:34 PM

Little Hawk--

How are you defining faith in such a way as to say we all have it?

NS


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 01:34 PM

Yep. Faith is not confined solely to outwardly "religious" people, but goes right across the board, and is a key factor in the practices and attitudes of all people.

It is therefore ironical that the non-religious, seemingly pragmatic person ridicules the faith of the religious person, just because it happens to be a different variety of faith than his own...and probably equally ironical when it happens the other way around.

Since we are quite incapable of knowing everything, we must base a great deal of our beliefs and actions upon nothing more substantial than faith...or what might at best be called a hunch or an educated guess.

Everybody does it. It is because people have a great deal of faith in the value of money, for instance, that all kinds of patently insane and destructive things are going on all over this planet at this very moment.

Destroy their faith in the value of money, and they would behave quite differently...though not necessarily any better.

Money, you see, is a reigning god...one that was invented by people a long time ago, and has since grown into the largest, most dominating false idol on the face of the Earth. Treat it as a god, and it becomes a monster. Treat it as a mere tool, and it can be quite useful and beneficial.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 01:44 PM

Heavy stuff for Christmas Day...


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: harlowpoet
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 02:00 PM

True Kevin. Though technically its not Christmas day, as there is no evience Jesus was born on 25th December. He may have been anyway, by coincidence.

My view is that you should show good will all the year round. Otherwise Jesus was born and died for nothing.

I just get fed up with the Santa version of it. Who is this god called santa, which Cliff Richard sings about to get another chart hit?

Sorry, I'm just fed up with the commercial manisfestations of Christmas. Drunk though.

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 02:21 PM

No, Simon. Technically it is Christmas Day. Unless you are Russian or Greek Orthodox and so forth, in which case it isn't until 6th January.

Whether, in either case, it also happens to be the anniverary of Jesus's birth is quite another matter. Today's the day for celebrating the event. (And then maybe do it all over again on 6th as a gesture of friendship.) Dates don't matter.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Peace
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 03:52 PM

Well, let me be the first to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and I mean that whether I'm late, on time or early.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Cruiser
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 04:00 PM

The following may seem to some folks as purely semantical or contextural uses of the words faith versus belief. Nonetheless, their usage is very important to me.


The words faith and belief are difficult to differentiate because they are synonymous, by definition, in most dictionaries. I would define Faith as a subset of the belief system, a special kind of belief. I use a capital "F" to distinguish it from another common usage of faith. I prefer to use the words Faith and belief in different contexts. While dealing with scientific issues over the years, and often struggling with the proper usage of the two words, I've tried sorting them out this way:

Faith: Confident, loyal, belief in the truth, value, or trust of an idea, person, place, or thing. However, Faith denotes a belief that is not based on logical, empirical evidence. In the strictest sense, Faith is untestable by the rigorous scientific method. Examples are Christian Faith or other religious dogmata (not of the negative, insulting, connotation as some incorrectly apply to dogma). These are the doctrines relating to morality and faith principles that are often considered absolutely true by church authority.

I know, have read of, admire, and respect many people in all walks of life who have a deep, abiding faith in God. However, I don't know why they must give credit to a God, usually an unlikely anthropomorphic one, when their good, often heroic, actions are the result of their own inner strength, goodness, hard work, and fine conscience. But, that is Faith!

We all know Faith can result in enormous good for mankind as well as bringing untold misery.

It is how one exhibits or uses Faith, not that one has Faith, which matters. Saddam's Islamic Faith in Allah, his Faithful answer to God, and Mr. Bush's Christian God, who's Faith in and prayers from, have brought unwarranted recent misery and destruction:

Faith is not to blame here, but the purveyors of misguided Faith-based ideologies are.

Belief: I believe or disbelieve in many ideas, persons, places, or things. I try not to use the word Faith except as a special belief associated with religion, in some way. I believe the sun will rise and set on the morrow, but I do not have Faith that it will. My belief on that occurrence is based on Natural Law, supported by repeated observations, not on Supernatural miracle. My belief is never absolute because someday the world many stand still. I will momentarily digress to include a musical connection to this thread so Joe might let it remain in this musical section of Mudcat. ('The Day the World Stood Still' 1968 Charley Pride, peaked @ #4).

Some famous scientists have said (or might say) that their adherence to the scientific method is a matter of faith; some would even say a strong faith (uncapitalized "f" here). I would not go that far. I say that I strongly believe in the scientific method. That belief, and this is important, is based on stated degrees of probability that any event or concept is determined likely or unlikely to happen after it has passed through the "sieve" and rigors of the scientific method. My belief would not be based on pure faith (Faith) of that events happenstance.

My beliefs can be fleeting things ('My Elusive Dreams' David Houston, 1967 @ #1). They are subject to change, based on new contrary evidence. My scientific beliefs are never absolute! Faith-based beliefs are often absolute (the many, often beautiful, doxological hymnals praising unwavering, unconditional, allegiance to God).

This world and all its wonderful knowledge have progressed often by insightful scientists who were able to reconcile their Faith along with their application of Science. I mostly do not always understand how that reconciliation is possible, but it has, and will, continue to be so:

Gregor Johann Mendel, the Austrian monk known as the father of genetics. He did his science in the confines of a monastery. Sure, the secular world would have likely come up with the same answers, but Mendel's thesis, initially ignored, has scientific priority.

Sir Isaac Newton. For centuries millions of people world-wide observed apples, and other things, falling earthward, but it took a genius thinker-scientist to devise the theory, now the law, of gravitation. Could he have had his genius without his Faith in God, perhaps not?
I would not however say I had Faith in the law of gravitation. I would say I have a strong belief in it because it is not certain (absolute) and some day, as irrational as it may seem, that apple could rise from the tree. 'Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree [With Anyone Else But Me]' Glenn Miller 1942 #1 and the Andrews Sisters 1942 #16.

The modern-day many astrophysicists and professional astronomers who are believers (many are not or are agnostic). One in particular, a Jesuit Priest, I cannot remember his name, does his scientific investigations while wearing his habit! Now there is a man that has reconciled his Faith and his applied science.

"I think; therefore I am" René Descartes (Holy Cow! another famous, scientifically intelligent, believer).

This is what I think:

I have a strong belief in science and its bedrock foundation, the scientific method. I would NEVER say I had faith (or especially Faith) in it.

Ron

An atheist singing the refrains of this absolutely (I thought he just said nothing was absolute!) beautiful waltzing country gospel:

Farther along we'll know all about it,
Further along we'll understand why;
Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine,
We'll understand it all by and by…


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 04:58 PM

Understood, Cruiser. It's essential in any conversation to know what the other person means when he uses a given word. Your definition of "Faith" is a little more specific than mine, but perfectly understandable.

I see all people as being religious, but each in their own particular manner...and they are virtually all given to using logic and reason as well, up to a point. The place where faith (or belief) and logic and reason meet is an interesting one.

But it all depends how one defines the words in the first place.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 05:51 PM

Can a believer sing atheist songs?

Can an actor play a killer without being one?

Can a writer write about characters he doesn't agree with?

Can many believers believe the same thing?

Which one is the true believer?

Can a preacher preach a dynamic sermon without believing a
word of it? (Answer to the last question, yes).


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: toadfrog
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 06:15 PM

1. Little Hawk: Atheism is not the assertion that there is "nothing beyond human understanding." It could be, for example, the belief that it is extremely improbable that the universe was created with humanity in mind, by a Supreme Being who places humanity before all else and sounds very much like a human on steroids. Or an atheist might feel that the idea of a "supreme intelligence" unduly exalts a trait of which humans are already unduly proud. Or that it is extremely doubtful that an "all-wise Creator" would hold some of the astoundingly unwise views often attributed to Him. Or that a benevolent Creator would create not only the wonderful things that exist in the universe, but also the many horrible ones as well. Or that He would endorse the cruel things often done in His name.

2. I sing all kinds of songs that stand for things I don't believe in. I sing religious songs, mostly, when the feeling in the song is one I share, even if I don't share the theology. Songs that give comfort in adversity have something in them that gives comfort, and does not require that there is an all-powerful being out there that takes a personal interest in protecting one's well being.

3. And "Amazing Grace" is by no means the best there is.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Cruiser
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 06:17 PM

Yes, to all except #5, but I should recuse myself from that one. It is probably unanswerable anyway.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Cruiser
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 06:20 PM

Little Hawk

Thank you for the reasoned response. I must disagree with you on your use of religious. I am probably once again defining my terms too narrowly, but specificity is important here.

The Latin root religio means religion. The definition of religion, among others, is the personal commitment to and serving of God. There are of course many varied definitions but God is always a major component.

To be fair, the Latin root religio can also refer to reverence and piety. I have a reverence for science but never could or would say that the awe I have for science is a religious belief or faith. The problem is I might slip up and use a common variant of religion on some occasions. I might say, tongue in cheek, that I perform my scientific tasks religiously. I would mean in a zealous, conscientious, devoted manner. I would never say I was a religious human being.

As for piety, which usually means religious devotion and reverence to God, I can also have a non-religious atheistical devotion and reverence to my parents and family: filial piety.

I will concur. A writer or speaker must define their terminology beforehand. Word meanings are often difficult because the English language is full of synonymity, obscure etymologies, and varied, often broad, definitions.

Ron

Give me that old time religion…


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST,TK The DJ
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 09:31 PM

I'm agnostic.. Agnostic-(noun)- Athiest who is afraid of pi##ing God off.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 09:33 PM

toadfrog - No problem. There are probably as many different kinds of atheism as there are different kinds of religion. :-) I myself was an atheist until my early 20's, but that doesn't mean I would necessarily have seen eye to eye on it with various other atheists... I think what atheism usually is...is it's a reaction to various forms of traditional religion by people who can see through the more irrational and primitive aspects of those traditional religions. Or else it's just a learned attitude, picked up from atheistic parents. That's what mine was. Monkey hear, monkey do. You can see the same about kids who learn Catholicism or some other religion from their parents. Or it's both of those. Communists were usually atheists because they were trained to be from an early age. Lakota Indians were usually believers in spiritual things because they were trained to be from an early age. And so on....

I think one of the requirements to becoming a truly free being is this: Question everything you've ever been told by your parents, your culture, your peers, and your society. Re-examine it in the light of your own experience. See if it works. Question every common assumption and every habit and tradition. It's a lifelong process. Otherwise, you just let other people do your thinking for you, and surrender much of your own potential in the process.

Cruiser - Yeah, the reason that I give broader than usual definitions to words like "religion", "faith", etc...is that I am by nature a philosopher. I see people playing a few really basic and vital games in life (survival, mating, seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, forming familial and tribal groups, ego-enhancement, self-expression, working with Love...or fear, and finally...asking WHY?), and clothing them with different complicated symbols, which then get divided up into supposedly separate categories which aren't really separate.

Accordingly, I believe everyone has a religion (or several of them), and everyone relies to a certain extent on faith, and so on... I even consider party politics to be a form of organized religion, and a mighty stupid one, too! :-) I don't believe a religion presupposes the existence of "a supreme being"...just of a supreme concern. The supreme concern of political parties for instance is to gain power and hang on to it...by whatever means possible. The supreme concern of Communism (another "godless" religion) was to replace all other social systems with itself...kind of like the Catholic Church was trying to do for the last 15 or 20 centuries.

Primitive religions deal in the most primitive of human motivations...simple win-lose scenarios...and they rely heavily on FEAR/reward as a motivator. The whip and the carrot.

Advanced religions and advanced philosophies ask WHY? And "who am I?" And "who would I wish to be?" And then they ask HOW? And then they apply what they have learned through asking those questions, step by step...and their strength and their purpose arises out of LOVE. This is as true of great science as it is of great philosophy or great religious faith.

But that's just my own peculiar view of things. Most people don't use those words the way I choose to.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 06:23 AM

Actually the root of the English word "religion" and the Latin word "religio" is the verb "religo" meaning "tie up" or "fasten". The idea being, religion incorporates a system of rules for living.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 06:42 AM

And now you come knocking on my door
To tell me it's your God who saves
But for too many years
You've brought nothing but tears
And the crosses to plant on the graves


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Mr Red
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 07:40 AM

With beliefs, being individual rather than statistical, it is very much an individual thing. I went carolling round a village this Xmas and I have to say it is a very involving thing for caroller and carollee. The real problem with modern society is the trend towards self and flick-a-switch, as opposed to community and particitpation.

AND you get mulled wine, mince pies, sloe gin (yummy) and a lot of communal camaraderie. Mind you I might not do it if it wasn't for the fact that Joy (a believer) gardens for a goodly few houses in the village. She only works for those she likes, and we only sing for those that would never think in terms of Bah! Humbug!

I was asked to read the lesson at the church carol service and felt that was one step too far. I missed the serice this year but would go to be with Joy (metaphorically and physically). There is more to this singing religious songs than religion you know! I guess I am worshipping a Goddess.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: annamill
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 07:59 AM

Interesting thread. I am wondering if those that believed that the "Sun" was a deity, or worshipped "Cats", would feel Christians were "Atheists". Funny, huh? I'm an Atheist, but I don't feel vehement about it. I'm an old 60's person. You do your thing, I do mine. Simple.

I do, however, believe in people. Now, there is something that requires faith.

Happy Holidays!!

Love, Annamill


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: annamill
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 08:03 AM

Actually, what I should have stated was that I believe in the goodness of people. That requires faith.

Again, Love Annamill


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Cluin
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 12:04 PM

Go ahead. If Neil Diamond was happy to have the Monkees record I'm a Believer, he can't be too particular. Have a bash. Then try Sweet Caroline too.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 12:50 PM

Well, for Christmas, I took the day off from all this philosophical discussion. I just now observed that I was challenged/questioned immediately after my last post, but at this point I'm just gonna let that slide. Little Hawk, with whom I more-or-less agree on most of these issues, covered whatever I might have said nicely enough.

In my work as Santa Claus, I feel that I'm representing the pre-Christian (but by no means anti-Christian) celebration of Yuletide: good fellowship, coupled with delight in the consumption of food and drink and worldly goods. The aftermath of the equinox promises that the sun is coming back -- spring will come eventually even though the coldest part of winter is still ahead of us -- so we can chow down on this year's harvest with impunity.

The Church was smart enough not to even try surpressing this ancient holiday, instead grafting on a commemoration of the birth of Christ. The result we see today is something that can be enjoyed by all, and is open to all: Christians, secular humanists, and even believers in other faiths.

Of course, there's also an aspect of the Santa role where you're inevitably working in service of Mammon, the worst kind of commercialism. This is usually just a subtext, but on occasion it becomes unhappily obvious and can hit home pretty hard. When encountering some kids, and some parents, this distasteful aspect can be much more evident than usual. I just try to remain friendly while interjecting a note of moderation ("well, we might not be able to get you *everything* on that [overly long and detailed] list."), and hope for an immediate elevation of the mood upon the next vistor's arrival.

Enough drift! Peace to one and all, whatever you do or don't believe in, and best wishes for another 12 months and more.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 05:41 PM

Who's going to stop him/her?

Surely the real question here is whether people should be prepared to participate, or should be prepared to refuse to participate in propaganda for causes in which they do not or should not believe - or to which they are opposed.

Should an ordinary member of the English middle class be sufficiently offended by Irish terrorist songs to refuse to sing them?

Should a Jew be prepared to join in "Die Lindenbaum"?

Should an Irish rebel be prepared to join in an Orange song - or "the Soldier"?


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 06:04 PM

Pretty provocative questions, Richard.

I guess a lot depends upon how threatened the potential singer feels by the alien belief system presented by the song in question.

I don't imagine many atheists are so militant that they would feel threatened by the words of a hymn. Turning the question the other way around (as in the original earlier thread "Can a Believer Sing Atheist Songs?"), it's probably a bit more likely that some religionists would find explicitly atheistic lyrics to be offensive and therefore unsingable.

However, neither case seems to carry the same emotional weight of singing the patriotic anthem of your sworn ememy, as in your examples.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 06:46 PM

No reason any Irish Republican should feel any reluctance to sing "The Soldier".


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 27 Dec 03 - 04:21 PM

I believe that context is everything. If a religious song is sung with the understanding that unlies it, I don't believe you have to be religious to sing it convincingly. For example, Simple Gifts can be sung with conviction by a non-Shaker. Hebrew texts may be sung by Gentiles. Early pro-musica antiqua was predominantly Catholic and masses are done by Protestants and Jews.

I think that most of the performers on this list are kind of like actors in that the songs they sing have a limited bearing on their cultural backgrounds. Can you sing a sea chantey without having served on a vessel or a cowboy song without being at home on a cutting horse? I think so.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Mr Red
Date: 27 Dec 03 - 08:54 PM

annamill
I always state I have faith in human nature. The faith guarrantees that there will be bastards in the bunch. You can spot most of them, and occasionally nice guys get shit on. Honing observational skills (or doing ablutions) is a full time religion for me.
Mind you faith nearly was swept aside in the deluge (ney lahar) that was D.I.V.O.R.C.E. (mutter, mutter, mutter........) BUT FWIW I never sang till the wife left home and I have been singing religiously ever since - you never know when the magic will wear off!



a lahar is a mega-mudslide with serious momentum - boulders float along in one.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: NobleSavage
Date: 28 Dec 03 - 02:11 AM

Hey, Cruiser--

I just wanted to say thanks for the well thought-out post regarding faith, Faith and belief. I quite agree with what you said.

Poppa Gator--

It was not my intention to show any disrespect to you--it was your post and not you personally I was questioning. After reading your subsequent post I find that we agree more than disagree. Besides, it wouldn't do to agravate Santa Claus. . .

NS


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Dec 03 - 03:05 AM

Anatheist can mouth the words but if it doesnt come from the soul then listeners/observers see.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: freda underhill
Date: 28 Dec 03 - 08:35 AM

re
Farther along we'll know all about it,
Further along we'll understand why;
Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine,
We'll understand it all by and by…

woodie guthrie made a version of this song, which still has all the hope and power, but leaves out the religious references. it's a powerful, moving song.

freda


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 28 Dec 03 - 11:26 AM

Noble Savage:

No hard feelings. *I* should apologize to *you* for not elaborating upon my argument about "beyond human understanding." There were probably a few more points I could have made, but I've lost the impetus to do so.

Everyone:

To all those who still argue that theism is disproven by science, let me recommend a remarkable book with a stranger-than-science-fiction premise: "The Physics of Immortality," published about five years ago by Frank Tipler, professor of mathematical physics at Tulane University. A really thorough reading requires deeper understanding of math and physics than I have, but you can skip over the more complex formulae and still read and "get" about 95% of the book. Whether you *buy* his argument or not is quite another thing. I would think conventional church-going belivers would disagree more strongly with Tipler than academic nonbelievers.

For reader reviews & comments, as posted on Amazon.com, click here and scroll down about one-third of the way.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: NobleSavage
Date: 28 Dec 03 - 10:45 PM

Poppa Gator--
The same back to ya. . . consider your hand shaken in a friendly manner.

As far as I know, the existence of Diety is beyond the ability of science to falsify or confirm while remaining true to the scientific method.

It seems to be one of those 'direct experience' type of events; either you have a direct experience that convinces you of Diety, or you accept the word of someone who has. I have not had such an experience thus far, and I prefer not to take anyone elses's word for it--so the question still remains unanswered as far as I am concerned.

NS


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Two_bears
Date: 05 Mar 04 - 03:12 PM

The words faith and belief are difficult to differentiate because they are synonymous, by definition, in most dictionaries. I would define Faith as a subset of the belief system, a special kind of belief. I use a capital "F" to distinguish it from another common usage of faith. I prefer to use the words Faith and belief in different contexts. While dealing with scientific issues over the years, and often struggling with the proper usage of the two words, I've tried sorting them out this way:
-----

Faith and belief are not as synonomous as you think.

I can lay hands and ease the suffering. I KNOW for a fact that real healing will occur if it is in the person's highest good. I have seen it happen many times, and to people that did NOT believe in energetic healing.

I do not believe healing will occur. I KNOW healing occurs. That is a difference between belief and faith.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: johnfitz.com
Date: 05 Mar 04 - 10:34 PM

It is killing me to remain quiet, though it is a pact I made many years ago. My need and desire to break this vow makes that vow all the more important.   My challenge to you; how do you shut up?


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Donuel
Date: 05 Mar 04 - 10:43 PM

There is but one thing that matters and comes through in the work of anyone, artist and laymen alike, and that is caring.

Caring is supremely powerful and apparent in its presence as well as absence.

Religion and trust without reservation (otherwise known as faith)is but another form of caring and in no way can claim sole dominion of caring or love in this world.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST,Pat C ooksey.
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 02:19 AM

I was raised a Catholic in Ireland, for me heaven and hell are here
on earth, I have no beleif whatsoever in the hereafter, floating around on clouds strumming harps seems extreemly boring to me, and
I cannot imagine any friend of mine joining this throng, I don't
think my friends would be there anyway, for me life is the only
heaven there is, many gospel songs are great, but the devil has all the best tunes.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Bill D
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 06:44 PM

"I can lay hands and ease the suffering"
...what suffering? Anyone's? Physical AND mental? Every time?

"...if it is in the person's highest good."
.. ummm..interesting disclaimer.

"I KNOW healing occurs."
   and is this 'healing' like 'curing'? as in cancer, or heart disease? Or something more abstract like 'malaise'? And would I, as a sceptic, also KNOW that healing had occurred?

That's a lot of claims, and you say nothing about where you draw this ability from...How many more like you are there, and why aren't you getting more attention, since there seems to be so much 'healing' that needs to be done?

Sorry, but those of us who have no such power and have never BEEN healed remain a bit sceptical.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Amos
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 06:53 PM

Jphnfitz:

Could you lift your vow long enough to explain what it is that it is killing you not to talk about? That would be a good start.


Shutting up is most often the wrong solution.


A


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST,Demonicus
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 01:43 PM

Have your religious friends ever sung "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer"? If so, did they really BELIEVE there is such a reindeer? If they don't believe it, they shouldn't sing it, or even allow their children to sing it. Tell then that.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Acorn4
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 02:25 PM

You don't have to be a psycopath to sing a murder balled. I know of some singers who disapprove of fox hunting but deliver a great song on the subject.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 02:36 PM

I have not plodded through all of the above but no I will generally not sing the propaganda of a cause to which I am opposed (unless there is a very very good reason).


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: autoharpbob
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 02:52 PM

I have plodded through the above, and a couple of other related threads, and noticed that nothing had been said on this subject since about 2003. I joined Mudcat way after that, so feel very pleased that this has surfaced again, and I have the chance to raise how I feel.

I would probably be better described as an agnostic - I don't know. Atheists are as confirmed in their beliefs as Christians. I am too much of a scientist to be able to either accept or disprove the existence of God.

But I do enjoy singing many Old Time/ Carter Family songs - kind of goes with my instrument - and a lot of these are very religious songs. "Resurrection Day" by Joe Newberry is a more modern example that I have sung recently as well. I have anguished over whether I have the right to sing these songs. It is a bit like going to Christmas Midnight Mass - its fun, its enjoyable, but you are not there to celebrate the birth of Christ, you are there because its what your family and friends do once a year. I guess the conclusion I have come to is that as long as I respect the song, and sing it with feeling and do the best I can, it is OK. I have to put myself in the shoes of someone who believes - in the same way that I put myself in the position of a 19thC female weaver when I sing "Poverty Knock", or of a spurned lover when I sing "Green Grows the Laurel". I find I can accept that position. I don't sing fox-hunting songs because I don't feel comfortable in the shoes of a hunter. But I do apologize to believers who feel that I am "lying" in some way. I do not intend to mock anyone's beliefs and just want to make beautiful music, which a lot of religious music is.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Acorn4
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 03:29 PM

If you're an agnostic, and you're not familiar with Les Barker's "Church of the Holy Undecided" do try and find a copy.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: olddude
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 03:38 PM

I sing cowboy songs, and I was never a cowboy nor ever will be ...
so why not


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 04:12 PM

We've had many folks visit our home who have come along on Sat. night to sing with us in our weekly goofy gospel service. I never asked for their credentials, any more than a community choir at a Catholic college asked for mine to sing several beautiful requiems and other oratorio-type stuff. It's too personal!

Was I a believer when I sang those-- yes, in great music. The Latin texts-- did their "propaganda" influence me? I don't care! :~) Prolly not any more than the anti-religion propaganda does, actually.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: beeliner
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 04:17 PM

Can blue men sing the whites?

Or are they hyp-o-crites?


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Ebbie
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 07:07 PM

I like to say that if it's a murder ballad I will deliver it as mournfully as I can feel it, if it's a love song- for those few minutes I will be in love, if it's a gospel song, for that moment I will enter as deeply into belief as I can manage.

For me, it depends a great deal on the music itself, how the words fit and the ambiance they create together.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Stower
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 08:23 AM

Some years ago I sang an arrangement of Down In Yon Forest / Corpus Christi Carol / Bells Of Paradise, which has the refrain, "I love my Lord Jesus above anything". I'm an atheist and was happy to sing it. After all, I sing shanties and I'm not a sailor, I sing murder ballads and I've not intention of killing anyone, I sing lots of stories in the first person about things I've never done. Strange thing was, the folk club audience - who are always lusty singers - were strangely muted in this song and seemed really uncomfortable singing the refrain. I'd never seen them like it before, and I didn't sing it again.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 08:40 AM

'Down in yon forest' would probably never be sung if the singer had to believe in all the imagery.

But the idea, at the top of the thread, of an atheist teaching his children all the 'Jesus' songs he was brought up with sounds strange. Seems like setting him up to believe. Very emotive, those songs and prayers learnt at a mothers knee.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 09:05 AM

Ever since it was founded in 1897, the Yiddish newspaper Forverts (Forward) has run a column called "A Bintel Brief"--"A Packet of Letters", one of the first advice columns in any newspaper, and the forerunner of "Ann Landers" and "Dear Abby."

One of the classic Q&As:

Q: Can a freethinker go to the synagogue?
A; Of course--Izzy goes to the synagogue to talk with G-d, and I go to the synagogue to talk with Izzy.

--Charlie Baum


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 02:46 PM

I think an atheist can sing whatever he wants to sing--like anyone else.

I've underlined the word THINK because I most always never use the word believe. ""Believe" infers a leap of faith--an irrational act -- I think.

Yes, I do try to THINK things through. Pretty much I don't merely believe anything.

Art


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Genie
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 03:18 PM

Barry Finn did a right fine, convincing job singing the prison song "Ol' Dollar Mamie," but I don't think he ever lived that life.   As has been said, lots of people play roles - in songs, plays, film, etc. - that are totally unlike their own lives and personalities.   

I also think a singer can connect, spiritually and emotionally, with the underlying feeling of a religious song without having to believe in the particular icons and dogma that some lyrics may refer to.      

Now, the question arises: Can a hellfire and brimstone 'fundamentalist' Christian (who thinks all gays and "infidels" can and should burn in hell) convincingly sing songs about the unconditional love of an omnipotent God?


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 07:08 AM

Hello there, Mr. Baum, Charlie--
I'm writing you here because at about 6:30am my late cousin Susan (Garber) danced down my brain again, as she often has in the nearly 10 years since her death. She was likely the best friend I may ever have, I met you only a couple of times.
I googled her name and 'Sacred Harp' and found your most beautifully written tribute to her that you wrote just 3 days after her death in the year 2000. I know it would have made her cry with happiness and gratitude. She loved you a lot. Many times she would somewhat breathlessly mention 'Charlie' to me and I know that your friendship meant so much to her.
I wish I'd seen your gorgeously heartfelt tribute to her 10 years ago, but I'm just as happy to see it now, when she popped into my head.
She and I spoke every day, and I had spoken with her just 4 hours before I got a phone call from my Dad that she was gone. One of Susan's favorite aunts, Theresa, just passed away last month at the age of 105. How I wish that Susan could have had such longevity.
In your writing of Susan, you most certainly were spot-on about the inseparable 'Dot-Susan' bond. My Aunt Dot outlived Susan by nearly 7 years, she died in June of 2007 and I truly hope that she and Susan are somewhere beautiful together now, chatting happily as they often did, and, once again, your name was one I often recall that they mentioned with great happiness at having such a good friend in you. So, I bet they're still talking about you, and when I read your obituary/tribute, I said outloud 'Oh, Susan, you won't believe what I just read'. Thank You so much, Mr. Baum.
Susan called me 'Kolya' usually, most of the family called or calls me Nick, I first met you when I was about 19 years old at a party Dot and Susan had at their house, I know I was annoyingly vacuous. Sorry. 19 will do that to you. I think I finally outgrew it somewhere around 35. Susan was very dear to me, always, and I thank you again for your most touching, wonderfully written tribute to her.
Best Wishes,
Nikolaj Mikita


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 06:37 PM

Sure. A pacifist can sing a song about war. A non-killer can sing Sam Hall. Any song can be sung by anyone anywhere. I wouldn't sing the Wessel-Horst song without a helluva lot of context to explain why I sang it. The same would be true for Dixie (which is a great tune corrupted by Southern bigots).

African-American spirituals and gospel music are beautiful and don't require any belief in them.

Amazing Grace is a lovely piece of music and requires no belief in it whatever except that
I like the anti-slavery sentiment and agree with that part of it.

Can a non-political person sing a political song? Is there any such animal as a non-political person? (Questionable).

You don't have to be a Calvinist to appreciate the majesty of St. Mathews Passion by J.S. Bach.

I can't get into sacred harp shape note stuff, though. It sounds like a lot of yelling
signifying nothing but that's my take. Others may not agree.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: buddhuu
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 08:20 PM

As a very staunch (but not evangelical) atheist, believe me, I can sing whatever the heck I like - believer, atheist, pop...


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 08:30 PM

Beeliner:
"Can blue men sing the whites?
Or are they hyp-o-crites?"

That would be Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell on bass guitar, then :-)


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Apr 10 - 11:17 AM

Well, Bach wrote some pretty good masses, though he was never a Catholic...


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Cruiser
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 09:49 PM

Interesting new comments. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: Rowan
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 12:02 AM

At the (Oz) National Folk Festival, every Easter, Sunday morning is the occasion for a Hymn Singing session, scheduled to occur at the same time as the Poets' Breakfast and the judging of the new dances in the TSDAV Dance Competition.

I'm sure there are a few believers there but I can assure you that many of those who lead the singing are atheists/agnostics/non-believers. Some years ago a few preachifiers sought to proselytise but were politely asked to take their proselytising elsewhere, as this was a singing session where love of harmonies was paramount.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Can An Atheist Sing Believer Songs?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 02:03 PM

if you have issues, then it is simple...

As there is nothing to believe, there are no such thing as believers. Hence, anybody can sing anything...

For instance, I did that old Stan Crowther classic The Vicar and the Frog the other night. I changed it slightly to call it The Priest and the Frog, to make it a) topical and b) factual...

Ok, not a believer song, more a song about believers...

In a free society you can sing about anything, superstition included. And the best bit is, blasphemy is a victimless crime.


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Mudcat time: 19 June 12:45 PM EDT

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