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Does Religion Affect Politics? If so, Why, and Should it?

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The proper interaction of religion and politics (or government, which is what politics is mainly about) is an important question and hotly debated in the blogosphere. However, much of the debate tends to be dogmatic. Those who are "religious" seem to argue that religion is good while those who are not religious seem to argue that religion is bad. I have occasionally expressed the view that when I get promoted to God, and have to decide what scourges to eliminate, I will first look at religion and cancer and then eliminate religion first, because it has done more harm than has cancer. I now have a few doubts about this position, and the purpose of this article is to stimulate some discussion of the matter.

A suit was recently filed claiming that the Federal Government

violated the Constitution by contracting [with] a Roman Catholic entity to help victims of human trafficking.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was imposing its beliefs on victims of human trafficking by not allowing federal grant money to be used for contraception or abortion. . . .

The suit asks the court to stop the department from allowing its grants being spent in a way that is restricted by religious beliefs.

Contracting with a religious organization to provide humanitarian assistance which is consistent with its religions doctrines, even though the organization declines to provide ancillary services which are inconsistent with those doctrines, strikes me as neither bad or unlawful; there are doubtless many other organizations, religious and otherwise, willing to augment the organization's services along those lines. More to the point, I don't understand how Governmental support for an organization which declines to do something contrary to its religious beliefs (as distinguished from insisting on doing something solely religious in nature) constitutes anything approaching an establishment of religion. The situation would be quite different if an organization required, for example, that recipients of Governmentally supported benefits attend mass, confess their sins, or pray in order to receive those benefits. Still, there must be some valid basis for the notion that religious doctrine should have absolutely no impact on Government. Right?

This subject cannot reasonably be discussed (should that even be possible) without first attempting a working definition of religion. That is difficult, because it is quite easy to be excessively inclusive or exclusive. The following attempt at definition is based primarily on my perceptions of Christianity because, although I am not one, I think I have a better understanding of Christianity than of any other religion. And, of course, in the United States Christianity is at the moment and has historically been the most widely professed (if not all that widely followed) religion. For the purposes of discussion, Christianity will serve as an exemplar for religion, although it is not the most widely professed in the world. This is also useful because for most of us Judeo-Christian tradition is probably the most familiar.

My offered definition is:

A dogmatic attachment to and acceptance based solely on faith of statements of "fact" as expressed in or somehow derived from a Holy Text or other recognized authority, such as the Old and New Testaments, the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed, coupled with specified moral prescriptions and proscriptions, such as those expressed in the Ten Commandments and in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Some moral prescriptions and proscriptions are taken more seriously than others, but nevertheless widely recited. This also appears to be true of the dogmatic but amoral beliefs. Expressions of the dogmatic beliefs seem not to change very often, although some of the moral views do change somewhat with time.

The moral precepts of religion in the United States appear to have a far greater impact on social issues than do the related dogmatic precepts. The doctrine of the Trinity, although an integral component of Christianity, appears to have little if anything to do with practical morality or how people interact. The other doctrinal teachings seem to have equally little to do with practical morality, with the exception of the existence and purposes of Heaven and Hell. These are seen as rewards and punishments for good and bad moral conduct, and hopes and fears of going there can be powerful inducements toward morality for those who seriously believe in them.

I have nevertheless included in the definition of religion acceptance of matters of doctrine, as in the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds, because without at least some of those or similar doctrines, I can see little to distinguish Christianity and other sects from several (but not all) other religions or, indeed, secularism. I recognize that many people consider themselves Christians despite rejection of such doctrines as the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, Heaven, Hell, etc. Thinking that words need to have at least some discernible meaning, they don't fit my definition and I therefore do not consider them Christians. I ask that this definition, like a marriage performed on a cruise ship and good only for the duration of the voyage, be accepted for the purpose and duration of this article.

Issues of Good vs. Bad are commonly seen through the lens of religion, even by the non-religious. This is probably natural, since many — and perhaps most — of the principal notions of good and evil generally accepted in the West are derived from religion and, more remotely, from the cultures in which those religions evolved and from which they were taken. They also became major parts of the cultures in which those religions became dominant. This also seems to be the case in non-Western countries. For one very simple example, most Christians and others in the West disapprove of the stoning of adulteresses (I understand that Jesus spoke out against it) even more than they disapprove of adultery (also viewed as sinful), while some Muslims appear to think stoning appropriate under and indeed commanded by Holy Writ*. Suppose for a moment that a religious organization's opposition to the stoning of adulteresses caused it to decline to provide services to assist (e.g., medically) those engaged in the gathering of stones for that purpose. Like a refusal to provide abortion and contraceptive services, this refusal would be based on a less than universally accepted religious view, and could be seen as the establishment of religion — far fetched, perhaps, but not ridiculously so.

The ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians similarly has substantial religious connotations. The threads of recent BC articles on the conflict involving Gaza amply demonstrate this, should there be any doubt.

It has been argued that "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." What religion? Do religions the adherents to which demand the conversion or slaughter of the adherents to other religions require freedom or, indeed, even permit it? Do such religions promote freedom? I think not. This leads to the discussion of whether the links between religion and politics in Western society can be avoided and of whether and the circumstances under which they should be.

Religion seems to be an important factor in the current debates in the United States on numerous contemporary social issues. A few examples are:

Abortion
Homosexuality
Capital punishment
War
The environment
Evolution and Creationism
Prayer in schools
Christmas trees
Display of religious symbols in public places
Medical care — euthanasia, blood transfusions and taking the case out of the hands of the Deity in general.

Religion also seems to be a significant but possibly less dispositive factor in debates on other contemporary issues. For example:

Corporal punishment
Charity and
Smoking and drinking

Indeed, it seems (at least to me) that it would be impossible to separate religion and its teachings from these and other matters of contemporary morality because, aside from concepts based on religion, there seem to be few readily accessible concepts of good and evil beyond, perhaps, the advice to "do no harm" and the Kantian Categorical Imperative, "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." Both are neat ideas, and the world would possibly be a better (albeit even more confused) place, were they to be universally accepted. However, the negative advice to do no harm provides little useful guidance as to what should be done, as just about everything — eating and even using a computer to write this article, for example — causes some harm to someone or something; the advice provides no guidance as to what constitutes cognizable good and evil. The positive Categorical Imperative is rather a complex notion, but not all that helpful either. The various precepts and proscriptions of standard religions are set forth simply and in some detail (e.g, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"), and are therefore easier to figure out (if difficult to follow) and more practically useful than Kant's idea, although it seems quite similar to the Golden Rule. Nevertheless, various religious notions of morality can lead to total disarray and mayhem when conflicting religious perceptions, prescriptions and proscriptions intersect.

I do not mean to suggest that religion provides the only useful, or always useful, guidance for society and therefore for Government. Those of us who consider ourselves non-religious seem able to get along OK without its multiple doctrinal trappings. However, our societal notions of good and evil are inextricably intertwined with religious perceptions, prescriptions and proscriptions, and that is not necessarily bad.

Or, perhaps it is a bad thing. As explained above, the purpose of this article is to get a discussion going on whether religion can or should be excluded from politics and Government; perhaps a discussion going beyond the common but rather dogmatic assertions yes, it must, and no, it must not.

____________________

 

*It is said that in some Muslim countries women get stoned when they commit adultery, while in some Western countries women commit adultery when they get stoned.

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About Dan Miller

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Interesting and thought-provoking piece once again, Dan. Just one thing (for now, anyway – provoking thoughts at this hour is like trying to provoke a lion who’s just eaten a zebra):

    “The other doctrinal teachings seem to have equally little to do with practical morality, with the exception of the existence and purposes of Heaven and Hell. These are seen as rewards and punishments for good and bad moral conduct…”

    Actually, no – not with Christianity. Although Christians are encouraged to do good and emulate the example of Jesus, good deeds by themselves will not get you into heaven. The primary and only qualification for entry through the Pearly Gates is the acceptance of Christ as your lord and savior. Fail to do that, and even if you lead an impeccably selfless, charitable, philanthropic, ethical life – it’ll still be Mordor for you.

    I’m speaking in broad terms, of course – there are some Christian denominations with a less rigid view. But that is mainstream Christian doctrine.

  • Brunelleschi

    Well written and thoughtful.

    I would only take issue with the part about notions of good and evil coming from religion. Religion adopted and grew by taking those subjects on.

    Western ethics came from Aristotle, about 350 BC. You don’t need any religion to do ethics.

    As far as the general question from the article-is separation of church and state really so important, I would say yes, very much so. Government must get religion at arm’s length and remain secular.

    In some regions, religion and politics are the same thing. Look at Jerusalem and the mess Israel is in right now. That is what happens when religion and politics overlap.

    Religion can not possibly guide government because there is no chance everyone in society will follow the same religion.

    In America, the overwhelming majority claim to be Christians, and Christianity basically asks it’s members for a pledge of allegiance one way or the other. That means these believers will put their allegiance to church or god ahead of their responsibilities to the public should they hold office. That’s dangerous.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Dan (Miller),

    Just a preliminary comment. I’ll have read your piece much more closely, so my present take on it may wrong. Still, food for thought.

    Notice, please, your opening sentence:

    “The proper interaction of religion and politics (or government, which is what politics is mainly about) is an important question and hotly debated in the blogosphere.”

    Having said that, you then go on – in that very first paragraph, mind you – setting yourself on the business of dealing with that question fairly and, to the extent possible, as objectively as can be, for a very good reason of course: people tend to get dogmatic/emotional, etc. whenever religion becomes the topic of the conversation. And then, when you throw politics into the pot, it’s surely a double-whammy. Let’s clear the air, you say, and think about these matters in a reasoned way.

    All fine and good, Dan, except. . . . You start with a thesis concerning a relationship between R & P; and if that wasn’t enough, you even bring in the idea of a “proper” relationship. I submit that the very relationship you speak of is, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent in present-day American politics. It may have had some validity going back to past civilizations and cultures, perhaps even to the early beginnings of American polity (though I’m not certain even of that and would have to re-think it) but it certainly would seem to me that it is absent from the current political scene.

    Your listing of topics and hotly-debated issues – abortion vs. pro-choice, gay rights, etc – doesn’t signify at all that some such relationship exists, only that a great part of the voting populace is still conflicted about those and other issues; and furthermore, that the divisions in question seem to (and perhaps even do) reflect divisions in with respect to religion (i.e., whether they’re Christians, Protestants, atheists or agnostics). The fact that politicians are posturing to these widely divergent views is no proof either that the relationship in question exists; nor does the fact that these matters often find their way to the courts for resolution.

    As I said, these are just preliminary comments based on a very superficial reading of your article, and I may well be wrong. I will do my homework and retract if and when I see that I was wrong. I hope you don’t mind, however, my having posted them – in all likelihood prematurely – in case there be a need to strengthen your argument. Will get back to you soon.

    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Doc,

    You are, of course, right correct, that belief in the trinity, acceptance of Jesus as one of the three parts of the trinity, the virgin birth, resurrection of the body, etc. are essential to Christianity. That’s why I included those doctrinal aspects in the definition. True also, under my proposed definition, one can’t properly be considered a Christian and therefore get into Heaven without belief in those things. Still, I consider them subordinate to belief in Heaven and Hell, since belief in them is the way to get into the one and to avoid the other; although I am told that passage into Heaven can be obtained by saying on one’s death bed (and presumably meaning*) “I believe all that the Church believes and the Church believes all that I believe.” So, in that sense I yield the point to you.

    However, it still seems to me that the need to get one’s ticket punched doctrinally as a requisite to getting into Heaven and avoiding Hell has substantially less impact on morality than do the non-doctrinal teachings of Christianity. I don’t see how belief in, e.g., the trinity can be a stimulus to doing good works or refraining from doing bad things, while acting on the precept “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” can be. Of the doctrinal teachings, only the promise of Heaven and the threat of Hell seem to impact upon actual conduct.

    *Really meaning this would seem to require an exceptionally sophisticated knowledge of all that the Church believes and of all that one believes; a pretty high hurdle on one’s death bed.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Mark Eden

    If a religion boils down to dogma plus precepts, then how does it differ from a government? That is, aren’t we actually looking at competing governments?

    Mark

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Dan(Miller) – When I was a kid they always taught us in catholic school about this place called purgatory. A place where all the little BS sins were basically, burned away. Kind of a medium heat hell, if you will. Sometime during my kid days they (the church, the nuns, the priests, I’m not really sure who) did away with this “theory”.

    But I’ve always heard the argument that without religion there’d be no morality.

    So, I guess the real question is, where do our morals come from? I don’t think we’re born with them. I think if you took a couple of Tarzan type people, you know born and raised in the wild, that they’d act just a bit differently than those of us raised in “civilized” society. That morality, at least what most people consider to be morality, doesn’t really exist without the concept of religion, does it?

    In the animal kingdom there’s no do unto others, it’s survival of the fittest…

  • Brunelleschi

    Andy-

    It’s only “survival of the fittest” IF it has evolutionary value.

    A tiger doesn’t eat it’s cubs. It protects them. Why?

    Not only does man have morality/ethics, you can see examples of animals making decisions about others too.

    BTW-read above. Aristotle developed what we call ethics about 350 BC. He was not religious, and could not have been a Christian.

    Why do people try so hard to hang on to this notion that morality/ethics belong to faith? Faith just borrowed those concepts from philosophy.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I said religion, not christianity as the basis for morality….just to clarify. I use christianity as MY basis, because that’s the way I was taught.

    Some tigers will eat cubs, if they see that cub as a threat…or if that cub is not “fit” for survivial. Male tigers have been known to attack the litters produced by other males.

    And it’s all fine and dandy to say Aristotle developed ethics and all, but let’s be real…how are they communicated to MOST people today? In this country and many others it’s through religion. People aren’t spewing Aristotle, they’re spewing Christ!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Or some other diety…Buddha, whatever…but not Aristotle.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Christianity will serve as an exemplar for religion,

    Dan, Christianity is NOT the exemplar for all religion on the planet.

    You would have been wiser to name this article: “Does Religion Christianity Affect Politics? If so, Why, and Should it?”

    You were once a Christian, and most Americans claim to be Christians. And your understanding not only of “religion” but also of the division between “religion and state” comes from Christianity and the examples provided by the United States, Canada and Western Europe.

    If there is a real problem with this piece, it comes from the sentence set in italics at the top of this comment.

  • Mark Eden

    Dan, my guess is that folks will be unable to use your definition of religion as requested for the purposes of this discussion as it neglects the concept of deity that Andy raises. Is there something fundamentally different between the statements: “I believe in God…” and “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”?

    Mark

  • Brunelleschi

    Andy-

    Christ led a small-time Jewish traveling magic show that got into too much trouble by predicting the end of Roman rule and the overthrow of church power.

    He had 12 followers who he had promised a share of the kingdom to when “dad” steps in to wipe the slate clean.

    Instead, the Romans killed him and left the 12 with no “401K,” to use the modern term. So, they made up stories and kept going. The rest changed history, unfortunately.

    Yeah, I want the whole world to get their morality from nutjobs like that! Not!

    Face it, you are wrong. Religion and morality are not the same thing. Morality came first. Religion just markets morality for it’s own agenda. It’s been successful, but their morality is bullshit.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Brunelleschi,

    I agree that religions adopted moral (and also doctrinal*) teachings from the cultures in which they evolved, carried them forward and further adapted them to the societies in which they became dominant. To gain acceptance in various cultures, Christianity also took on much of the doctrinal baggage of those cultures.

    It strikes me that religion, by acting as a vehicle to carry forward moral (as distinguished from doctrinal) prescriptions and proscriptions from earlier times, has produced more socially useful than pernicious results; there have clearly been some of the latter, but it seems likely that most have had more to do with doctrinal than with ethical matters.

    Admonitions against homosexuality can probably be found in most religions, even in the parts dealing with practical morality: be fruitful and multiply is difficult (but no longer impossible, due to modern technology) for female homosexuals. In modern Christian society, it is not one of the more widely followed admonitions. The teaching that engaging in sex for any purpose other than procreation is evil seems no longer to have much impact on how people behave. I suspect that the animosity many people feel toward homosexuality has more to do with the doctrinal than with the moral teachings of religion.

    You say that Religion can not possibly guide government because there is no chance everyone in society will follow the same religion. I agree insofar as the doctrinal teachings are concerned, but not insofar as the generally accepted moral teachings are at issue. I think that Government is and can properly be guided by commonly accepted moral teachings as embraced by the dominant religions even though not everyone may agree with them. For one possibly far-fetched example, laws against murder do and (I think should) apply to human sacrifice, even when practiced by adherents to religions which encourage it. Ditto laws against assault and battery, even when beating wives into submission as permitted or even encouraged by some religions. The same is true, I think, regardless of whether a law has anything to do with religious teachings. Freedom of speech is a fundamental concept in the United States even when it involves attacks on religion, despite the problem that not all religious sects think much of the doctrine. Some who have disparaged religious view have, even recently, been condemned to death by religious leaders for doing so.

    You also say, believers will put their allegiance to church or god ahead of their responsibilities to the public should they hold office. That could happen, but I haven’t seen much of it in the United States. The notion was largely abandoned with the election of JFK. The main area where I think this is currently a problem involves the dogmas of the secular religion of man made global warming, the questioning of which has come to be viewed as heretical and the promotion of which has become public policy.

    *I understand that virgin births were part of several pre-Christian religions.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Brunelleschi – you need to come up with a shorter name!

    I like that…travelling magic show bit! No 401K…guess they shoulda held on to those baskets with the loaves and fishes!

    I never said religion and morality are the same thing. I said people get their morality FROM religion…and yeah, some of it is really perverted! As a matter of fact, the way I stated it was as a question…where do we get our morality from?

    For the most part people get their morality from their parents or lack there of and for the most part, those parents, whether you like it or not, got their morality from a church, mosque, synagogue or whatever….

    I don’t dispute that, as Jesse the Gov said, “Organized religion is a sham!” Yeah, I spent to many years in catholic schools and churches, but the right and wrong I learned, I learned from those places and my living room at home growing up, not from Aristotle.

    They, meaning the church, may have taken Aristotle’s ethics and used them for their own gains, and twisted them and warped them for their own gains, but that’s still where they get disseminated! It probably would be better if it said In Aristotle we trust on a dollar bill, but…it don’t!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Ruvy, what I said was,

    For the purposes of discussion, Christianity will serve as an exemplar for religion, although it is not the most widely professed in the world. This is also useful because for most of us Judeo-Christian tradition is probably the most familiar.

    I recognize the difficulty you raise, but my focus was mainly on the United States where Judeo-Christian tradition is predominant, and what little I understand about religion is mainly based on Christianity.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Brunelleschi

    Dan-

    Well put. So you clearly see a distinction between religious doctrine (the company line) and moral teaching.

    Why insist on allowing that doctrine in politics? It will only lead to Jerusalem-type problems.

    Everyone has their own opinion on how well religion has carried the “philosophy ball.” I think they have done a bad job and should be replaced. Religion has brought us countless wars, executions, and guilt trips. We can’t shut them down, but we can at least hold the line and keep these dangerous people out of government.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/heloise Heloise

    This article is way too long. If you have that much to say about it then write a book or get a hotel room with your opinions.

    The age of Aquarius is still hundreds of years off. This is the age of Pisces and that means that zealotry and bigotry will be with us for a long time to come…we better get used to it.

    The true idealism of brotherhood is yet a long way off. Obama’s presidency won’t change minds but it might change habits. Many white people (religious and political) will “act as if” there is racial equality. Heloise says “perish the thought.” So before we get our butts in a bunch we better first fight the battle of keeping state and religion separate. Besides I thought that was already taken care of in the constitution.

    And no I only read the first page because this is more like a tome than an article.

    Heloise

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/heloise Heloise

    Translation of my above comment: Why do we have to debate separation of politics and religion? Why should anyone care, I mean it just is. I don’t get it. And I am not about to read four pages to find out.

    Heloise

  • Clavos

    And no I only read the first page because this is more like a tome than an article.

    Then you’re really not entitled to an opinion about the article, even as to its length.

    Why do we have to debate separation of politics and religion? Why should anyone care, I mean it just is.

    Perhaps because it’s one of the most important aspects of our politico/cultural system — one which doesn’t even exist in much of the contemporary world?

    I don’t get it.

    Obviously.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Because based on this “separation” some people don’t want the gov’t to give money to religious based shelters and things of that nature…how far does the separation need to be?

    Don’t take offense to this folks, but liberals want the gov’t to help the needy, Personally, I don’t give a damn, but when the gov’t tries to use the organizations that help the needy the most and that already have infrastructure in place, it’s somehow a bad thing because they’re religious organizations. A soup kitchen feeds the homeless, who gives a shit if it’s run by the local baptist church?! They can do more with $5 than the gov’t can!

    Personally, I say to hell with ‘em all! But the bleeding heart types that want the gov’t to do more should leave stuff like this alone.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Heloise,

    I agree with you entirely. It IS there one the theoretical level, which is the ONLY point of interest. But Dan seems to discuss it on the level of practice – e.g., why Christians or other religious groups tend to vote this one rather than another, and what if anything should be done about that. I don’t think there is anything to be gained from such a discussion.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Dan,

    You do not recognize the difficulty I raise at all.

    Christianity is the only set of “religious” beliefs that contemplates a split between the civil and religious authority where both have legitimacy.

    Islam (real Islam, not the hate-filled Wahhabi shit that poses as Islam) prescribes a unified faith/government. So does the faith of the Children of Israel, which is its governing code of law. What is commonly called Hinduism is actually know as Dharma, 14 principles by which all people are expected to live (there is a lot more, but this is basic). For a Hindu, it is ridiculous that a governing authority would not embody these 14 principles. Buddhism is a way to rid oneself of pain and is not concerned with governance per se. If you want to understand Buddhism at all in western terms, it is a “protestant” movement against what Hinduism developed into.

    Confucianism is a code of ethics which are expected to infuse Chinese society. While the philosophic concepts differ from Dharma, the same the basic approach to society is – of course the Confucian ethics will govern Chinese society and governance.

    So, Dan, the split that is the basis of your article is found only in Christianity.

    If you look at your article, you will see that in it, you negate that split, in essence asserting that “of course Christian ethics will infuse governance and politics…” what you do not add is the essential phrase “in Christian societies”. The fact that you yourself do not subscribe to the religion of Christianity does not negate your recognition that Christianity is related to governance in the Americas, Western Europe and Australasia in much the same way that Dharma relates to governance in India, or Confucianism relates to governance in China.

    Your problem is that you do not really understand what Christianity is. And neither does Brunelleschi, as his comments show.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    If you want to get a clear view of what Christianity really is, read the works or Dr. Eugene Narrett. You won’t find it pleasing, but that is not the point. It will give you a clear view of why this argument between “religion and state” is possible in Christian societies.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    I think Ruvy’s description of where these matters are at is pretty accurate.

    I would go further and say that Christianity is the first time religion has been successfully largely removed from governance, which is a big plus in its favour. Hopefully it won’t be too many more years before the rest of the world starts to catch up.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    I actually had a quick look at Eugene Narrett’s site, where I saw lots of evidence of how religion corrupts the thinking of even quite intelligent people, rendering them babbling in incomprehensible tongues. Kinda.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Clavos (#19):

    You entirely off. Judeo-Christian thinking may have permeated every important facet of Western Civilization, including hotly-debated and still unresolved matters like abortion, freedom of choice, etc. And in that sense, it does affect how some people or groups of people tend to vote or not to vote. But once you said that, what else is there to say? What is there not to understand? As I said in my earlier comment, the only level of interest is theory, and Dan cannot discuss this topic in theory because the separation of the Church and the State is part of our Constitution, de facto and de jury. So unless we’re talking here about Constitutional Amendment – which I don’t believe we are – you tell me: Where is this discussion going?

    Unless of course Dan major undertaking here is to offer us a primer on the nature of religion, ethics and their possible interconnections. And if such is the case, then what we need is an article of far greater length, as Heloise has indicated.

  • Clavos

    Judeo-Christian thinking may have permeated every important facet of Western Civilization, including hotly-debated and still unresolved matters like abortion, freedom of choice, etc. And in that sense, it does affect how some people or groups of people tend to vote or not to vote. But once you said that, what else is there to say?

    Well, for starters, one could debate whether or not this state of affairs is a good thing.

    One could also discuss what, if anything, should be done about it.

    There are, in fact, a number of discussions about the issue which could be fruitful. This, I would surmise, is probably why Dan(Miller) wrote this very erudite piece in the first place.

    In a “free” society, open discussion about all matters should always be an option.

    Always.

    If you and Heloise see no value in discussing the issue, no one is forcing you to participate…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger,

    The typical syllabus for instruction in the Army is

    I. Tell them what you are going to say;
    II. Say it; and then
    III. Tell them what you said.

    I think it is pretty effective.

    At the beginning of the article, I said that I wanted to open a discussion of the proper place, if any, of religion in politics. In the body of the article, I presented my somewhat tentative views. In the last part of the article, I reiterated my desire for a more focused discussion than often occurs. I think that that discussion is well underway. I find myself in agreement with some of the comments, and in disagreement with others.

    I am reminded of a story told by an Army captain during a course on military history which I endured as an ROTC cadet:

    Mr. Lion was walking through the jungle and encountered Mr. Rabbit. He asked Mr. Rabbit, “who is the king of the Jungle?” Mr. Rabbit replied, “you are, sir.” As Mr. Lion walked further, he encountered Mr. Monkey. He asked, “who is king of the jungle?” Mr. Monkey replied, “you are, sir.” Mr. Lion continued his stroll, and encountered Mr. Elephant. He asked, “who is the king of the jungle.” Mr. Elephant wordlessly grabbed Mr. Lion with his trunk and hurled him through the air and into a tree. Upon regaining his voice, Mr. Lion said, “Gosh Darn, Mr. Elephant, you don’t have to get pissed off just because you don’t know the answer.”

    I don’t pretend to know the answers, and don’t have the ability or resources to present a definitive tome on the subject. If I did, a BC article of several hundred pages probably wouldn’t work. Hence, the attempt to stimulate a discussion of a topic which I consider important.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    To what end should we debate such a thing? It’s like, forgive the expression, jacking off. What Are the options? Are we going to tell people now not to vote their conscience or what they misconstrue as their conscience? Or perhaps we should stop such people from voting altogether? That would solve “the problem,” wouldn’t it?
    I admit the piece is erudite, but other than than, I really don’t see the point. Honestly, I see nothing of interest coming out of this discussion.
    But you’re perfectly right. It is a free country, so I do have the option not to participate. It’s just a great wonder to me where all this excitement is coming from.

    If you notice, however, in my very early remark to Dan, I wanted to give him the opportunity to re-think. The fact the he chose to ignore my comment is his problem, not mine. But he (and you, I suppose) keep on defending this piece and the issues it raises without giving a thought to the possibility that it was misconceived in the first place. I think it would be refreshing if people were more ready to admit they made a mistake, if they did make a mistake, and go on from there. I’d have a far greater respect for them, rather than sticking to your guns no matter what. And since you are one of the editors in the Politics section, your responsibilities in this area, I should think, than the average participant. So if I mar this thread with what you or Dan apparently see as not very constructive comments, there may be a reason for that: I’m trying, believe me, trying as hard as I can, to appeal to reason.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Dan (Miller(.

    Please pardon my previous comment: I still had no response from you as I wrote it, and therefore regarded the matter as closed. I’m sorry I was wrong.
    I do believe, Dan, in some of the things I said in the first place (at the top). The only area of interest here, as far as I am concerned, is theory, but that issue is effectively foreclosed by our Constitution and bylaws. So unless we’re discussing matters at that level, I really so no great value to be derived from focusing on the observation that in a great many cases, people’s religious or ethical beliefs affect what they do in the ballot box, or any number of things, whether it be related to politics or not. In other words, Dan, I really don’t see what the puzzle is about. And in view of the fact that there’s nothing really we can do to change that – like stopping them from voting, or whatever other measures one might want to institute, – even abolishing Christianity and all other religions as they’ve done in the Soviet Union – really, what else is there to say.
    To tell you the truth, I have stayed away from all threads which featured religion as a topic, and for good reason. I find the discussion tends to deteriorate at times to absurdity, and I certainly don’t want to add to the confusion. People just have too many hang up about it – not just those who believe but even more so, those who don’t or profess that they don’t. All I see behind the smoke screen are their emotions, so I just let it be.

    Perhaps it’s kind of ironic that we haven’t freed ourselves from the grip – in 300 years, wouldn’t you say, since the Enlightenment – but we haven’t. Even in this secular, society, religion and discussion of religion seems to haunt us. The reason may well be because we all seem to want to reject it but haven’t done it yet: we’ve done on on the intellectual level but not deep down where the emotions are concerns. That’s how I read the confusion which almost with no exception permeates all such discussions. If you’re afraid of something, your reasoning and thinking is surely going to be affected by your fear.

    I have no horse in this race, believe me. And I’ve been on both sides of the fence; have even been to a theological seminary for a number of years. And part of the problem is – there are some valid things about “religion” as an important aspect of human experience – William James, for instance. And so I find I cannot even restore the discussion to a level of sanity, because of some unexpressed fear that people have with respect to anything connected with religion.

    Please forgive this diatribe, and I am glad you responded. Let’s keep the dialog going.

    Roger

  • Clavos

    Roger, you may be right. Certainly from your perspective, you’re convinced that you are.

    But the larger issue here, it seems to me, is whether or not debate, even if only for its own sake, is appropriate. Though, as I stated above, I see this debate as much more than being simply for its own sake, I submit that debate is always appropriate, even for no reason other than the debate itself, for one of the more desirable results of debate is education and information.

    In fact, I will go so far as to say that, in a free society, any attempt to squelch debate (as you seem to be doing) for any reason, including perceived irrelevance, is anathema, and dangerous; it smacks of totalitarianism.

    You refer to my being a Politics editor; it is precisely in that role that I see the necessity of encouraging all debate in a free and open society. Just because you fail to see any purpose to the debate doesn’t mean others will also see no purpose; I see my editorial role as ensuring that all viewpoints are given equal consideration.

    My role as a writer and commenter on the site, on the other hand, is personal and much more likely to follow a narrower (and not necessarily objective, as many here will tell you) perspective.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    OK, Clavos,

    I stand corrected as to the proper role of an editor and your official position with respect to Dan’s article. And I didn’t really mean or want to foreclose the discussion, only to get at – perhaps by less than fair means – what Dan was trying to do – to push him as it were and make him think.

    Finally, the last thing I want to do is discourage others from participating. My only motive was to stimulate thinking.

    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/heloise Heloise

    Roger I think you are a first to agree with Heloise. Thank you.

    Yes, one can have an opinion without wearing the damn dress Clavos. Reading is on a much deeper level than you probably have a clue about.

    My dismay is that all the articles in the world or on the blogosphere are not going to change the practice of religion as Roger points out. Philosophical discussion and the religious right are mutually exclusive if that discussion is about anything other than what their precious Jesus or St. Paul said.

    Dan obviously thinks too much of his opinion or has NEVER, I mean NEVER met those who hold the relgion banner most closely. I know them very well, up close and personal and for them there exists no philosophical discussion of relgion and politics. Their politics is religion as handed down by the Bible.

    He is then preaching to the choir, I don’t have to read what he wrote for that reason alone.

    If he wants to impact those who have no use for anything extra-Biblical my opinions is that ain’t happening, no how, no way. Otherwise he is preaching to the choir. It’s like trying to talk to those who are super conservative or far right to see the right of Obama’s election vs a McCain or McOther. It ain’t happening.

    Heloise

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger, you say

    unless we’re discussing matters at . . .[the theory] level, I really . . .[see] no great value to be derived from focusing on the observation that in a great many cases, people’s religious or ethical beliefs affect what they do in the ballot box, or any number of things, whether it be related to politics or not.

    You continue,

    And part of the problem is – there are some valid things about “religion” as an important aspect of human experience – William James, for instance. And so I find I cannot even restore the discussion to a level of sanity, because of some unexpressed fear that people have with respect to anything connected with religion.

    Perhaps the “unexpressed fear” has something to do with lack of understanding, which is one of man’s greatest sources of fear. It would be very presumptuous for me to attempt to pontificate on religion to a greater extent that I already have. However, there seem, to me, to be some aspects of religion which are reasonably to be feared, some which are not, and some which should be given at least a modicum of respect. There is a tendency to claim, “religion sucks and is an evil parasite” or “religion is good and guides my life.” It strikes me that other positions are more viable and should enter into the discussion of the place(s) of religion in society.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Heloise,

    You’re right not only with respect to religious/moral beliefs – which serve as an object lesson and the most radical expression of emotions at work – but even when it comes to our less well articulated or expressed prejudices and beliefs, those, in other words, we may not even be aware of.

    The trick of course is, to become aware where we’re coming from: only then one can be freed from the emotional stronghold, the first step. But until that happens, people are going to be doing what they’ve been doing for ages; and no amount of discussion is going to change that.

    Roger

  • Clavos

    Heloise,

    You cannot cogently and effectively discuss with someone if you don’t consider (read) their stance on the issue under discussion.

    To try to do so is not only arrogant, it’s insulting and makes you look like a fool.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Of course it has to do with lack of understanding, or to put it more bluntly, if I may – ignorance. I further agree with you that the practice of religion – to be distinguished now from its value as human experience – has definitely did not contribute very much to alleviating those fears; in fact, it only compounds it.

    So if your object had anything to do with how to deal with that, on the individual level, I see your point. Perhaps that ought to have been your opening statement.

    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger, you say,

    The trick of course is, to become aware where we’re coming from: only then one can be freed from the emotional stronghold, the first step. But until that happens, people are going to be doing what they’ve been doing for ages; and no amount of discussion is going to change that.

    I suggest, kind Sir, that you thereby put the cart before the horse. Don’t you find that discussion is useful in becoming aware of from whence we came and where we had best go? In college, our large lecture courses were supplemented with seminars where discussion would occur. I found that both the lectures and the seminars were quite useful.

    I hold out very little hope for the intensely committed religious far right; and, for that matter, not much more for the intensely committed far left. The former don’t often participate in such discussions, and the latter tend to take the unalterable position that “religion sucks and is (inevitably) an evil parasite.” I have read several comments on other BC threads to the latter effect, and find them disheartening.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Dan,

    I don’t disagree with you, of course; and intelligent, well-focused discussion is one of the tools. But as I said in earlier comments, it wasn’t my purpose to quash dialogue, only to redirect it along, what I perceive, as more fruitful lines. And if that had been your purpose, then I stand corrected. But it wasn’t apparent to me, initially at least, as to what you were trying to do. Perhaps now we can make some progress.

    Roger

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Heloise’s comments are too long. If you have that much to say about it, then write a book or get a hotel room with your opinions.

  • http://loftypremise.blogspot.com/ Tommy Mack

    Dan,

    Re: “the purpose of this article is to get a discussion going on whether religion can or should be excluded from politics and Government”

    I am afraid the premise is faulty since religion cannot be excluded from politics and, thereby, goverment. Religious speech is protected by the Constitution even when it is objectionable or just plain stupid.

    I can understand your sensitivity to the issue of religion’s influence in politics, especially in your Republican Party by the so-called Christian Right — the Rove/Bush base.

    In this country, as opposed to much of the world where political parties and religions are interchageable, the seperation of church and state only means we have no official, state religion and that is all it means.

    Tommy

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    # 41,

    Well put. One question though:

    How does your statement that “religious speech is protected by the Constitution” equates to saying (obversely) that “religion is INCLUDED in politics”? If all you mean by that is that we have the freedom to use religious speeches for political purposes, no disagreement there. But I hope you don’t mean anything beyond that!

  • http://loftypremise.blogspot.com/ Tommy Mack

    Roger,

    Re: #42

    You read my comment correctly.

    For example, I recently quoted San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer in an article saying,”Proposition 8 simply recognizes that there is a difference between traditional marriage and a same sex partnership.”

    One can interpret that as supporting “seperate but equal” treatment under the law which is unconstitutional. Nonetheless, Father Neiderauer’s opinion is protected speech under the 1st Amendment.

    Tommy

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Great, Tommy:

    I consider this issue as closed. And thank you.

    Roger

  • Zedd

    Ruvy,

    “Christianity is the only set of “religious” beliefs that contemplates a split between the civil and religious authority where both have legitimacy.”

    Nowhere in the ball park Ruvy.

    Christianity is a belief of the individual. It is not an experience for the collective. People cant believe together. They can say they believe together but its impossible to believe for another person. You can only believe as an individual. You can’t love FOR someone…. So Christianity (real Christianity not the political garbage) only deals with the individual; his self analysis; his soul.

    The problems (violence and hatred) comes when you loose focus off of yourself (minding your own spiritual business) and your journey and concentrating on what others are doing (or not doing).

    It’s impossible to have a Christian country. A country does not have a soul or conscious. Saying you are a Christian nation, allows you personally to hide; ride the Christian train and not do any work on yourself. What you then end up with is a nation of non Christians, just busy bodies who wag their fingers at everyone. So your religious nation becomes a nation of the spiritually weak, who spend their time focusing on what everyone else is doing wrong other then themselves RUVY. Sounds familiar?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Christianity is a belief of the individual. It is not an experience for the collective. People cant believe together. They can say they believe together but its impossible to believe for another person. You can only believe as an individual. You can’t love FOR someone…. So Christianity (real Christianity not the political garbage) only deals with the individual; his self analysis; his soul.

    Whatever turns your crank, Zedd. Bottom line – Christianity is the only set of “religious” belief that contemplates a split between the civil and religious authority where both have legitimacy.
    All the other faiths/nationalities listed below do not.

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Dan –

    You are, of course, right correct, that belief in the trinity, acceptance of Jesus as one of the three parts of the trinity, the virgin birth, resurrection of the body, etc. are essential to Christianity.

    WRONG! Say instead that they are essential to mainstream ‘Christianity’, and you’ll be right.

    The Church of which I am a member believes that trinitarian doctrine is base heresy, and we have Worship Services in eighty-five countries and territories.

    When it comes to religion and government, our belief is that it is a sin before God to break secular law, as long as that law does not clearly conflict with Scripture.

    To give a prime example, as you know it is against the law for a tax-exempt organization (such as a church) in America to endorse a candidate. However, many (perhaps most) churches get around this by saying who NOT to vote for – thus following the letter of the law, but I’m sure you’ll agree that they are still endorsing by exception, as it were. The Church of which I am a member instead follows the spirit of the law, which means that politics is never mentioned in the Worship Services in America. At no time are we told how to vote in any respect whatsoever.

    When it comes to the more divisive issues, we are – as in most other religions – told that this or that is what the Bible says…saying, in so many words, that “you know what the Bible says, and you know what the law allows, so be prepared to answer to Him.” We believe that such strictures apply to us, but we are not to impose our beliefs on those who are not of the Church.

    Just wanted to show you a different belief that may be outside your experience….

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Zedd,

    But that was the innovative element of Christianity, especially further down the line in accord with Reformation, where Pauline theology of doctrine of salvation by faith became prominent, especially among the Protestants. But prior to that, in the biblical or ancient history of the Jewish people, it was a collective experience appertaining to the chosen people, the entire nation.

    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Glen,

    Thanks for the comment. I thought it appropriate to draw the definitional line somewhere, and that’s what I did on page 2. As you suggest, some who are outside “mainstream” Christianity don’t accept the various doctrines but nevertheless consider themselves Christians. Others, Unitarians for example, reject the trinity and many other Christian doctrines and (I understand) do not consider themselves Christians.

    Why someone who rejects the basic tenets of Mainstream Christianity would want to claim the name is puzzling to me, but perhaps that’s just me.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Cindy D

    They believe that Christ is the lord? Just a guess.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy D

    If by “they” you mean Unitarians, I attended Unitarian services off and on for a year or two back in the late 1950s and (very) early 1960. My impression is that they, individually, believe whatever they want to. Generally, however, I think they consider Jesus to have been a very good but flawed person, no more divine than the rest of us.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Cindy D

    Dan(Miller),

    I meant Glenn. But, really I have no idea what I’m talking about. My friend is a religion scholar. I just ask him when I nee to know something. Saves me the trouble of learning too much about beliefs I’m not interested in.

    BTW, if you get a chance some time, could you have a look at the post I made to you in the Chris Jones’ Torture thread? I think I put those two statutes together correctly, based on what I read elsewhere. But, a legal opinion would be appreciated.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy D,

    I will try; tomorrow. I promise.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Cindy D

    TY Dan(Miller) :-)

  • Brunelleschi

    Ruvy-

    re #22.

    What do I not get about Christianity, short version? :)

  • Brunelleschi

    Ruvy-

    I looked at Dr. Eugene Narrett’s site and didn’t see anything on Christianity like you mentioned.

    The guy looks like a full on nutjob!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I looked at Dr. Eugene Narrett’s site and didn’t see anything on Christianity like you mentioned.

    Well, Brunelleschi, you did try, though like Chris Rose, finding a rocket in a haystack may be difficult for you. You get credit for trying….

    So let’s drag out a few links and drive some points home….

    This little essay is one of Dr. Narrett’s looks at the rise of Nazis philosophy and its influence of the west presently. A lot of the “New Age” trash floating around today is directly linked to the trash the Nazis followed.

    Here, Dr, Narrett looks at the “Four State Solution”, another method the west has to destroy Israel.

    But while not quite the pièce de resistance I sought, this tough essay to read is is about how Romanticism, a product of Christianity, shows itself as the enemy of the Jewish people.

    Western civilization is sick, terribly so, and the root of its sickness is its hatred of the concepts that are in the Torah – a humane moral code. The history of western “civilization” has been a history of rebellion against these concepts. Western civilization is divided against itself, on the one hand seeking to embrace the pagan stupidities of the Romans and the Greeks, and on the other, seeking to embrace the basis of the humane code of behavior, while cutting itself off from the roots of that code, the faith of the Children of Israel. This second element is Christianity. And this split is at the root of Dan Miller’s article.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, are you aware that every time you try to put down the intelligence of people who are actually having the decency to engage with your endless mystical stuff, you actually make yourself look even more bigoted and stupid than the usual remarks you come out with do?

    Moving on, I have bent over backwards to give this Narrett loon another fair reading rather than simply dismissing his work but I can’t even find a haystack’s worth of sense in his ramblings, let alone a rocket. I loved his prediction form 2007 that Barack Obama couldn’t win the presidency though, shows how clued in he is quite effectively I thought.

    Ruvy, if that guy is the best you’ve got, all you’re proving is the depths of your delusions…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Ruvy,

    Comment #58: This second element is Christianity. And this split is at the root of Dan Miller’s article.

    I must admit that I hadn’t thought of it quite that way before, but you may well have something. Would you please elaborate? Thanks.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Chris,

    I loved his prediction form 2007 that Barack Obama couldn’t win the presidency though, shows how clued in he is quite effectively I thought.

    Most folks, myself included, dismissed out of hand the chances of the “messiah man” winning the election during a good part of 2007. Narrett is an analyst, not a prophet.

    But you took the trouble to attempt to read Narrett. I appreciate that. He’s not the easiest guy to read – he is a lot more effective as a lecturer, being a university professor. It is he who drove this point home…

    Western civilization is sick, terribly so, and the root of its sickness is its hatred of the concepts that are in the Torah – a humane moral code. The history of western “civilization” has been a history of rebellion against these concepts. Western civilization is divided against itself, on the one hand seeking to embrace the pagan stupidities of the Romans and the Greeks, and on the other, seeking to embrace the basis of the humane code of behavior, while cutting itself off from the roots of that code, the faith of the Children of Israel. This second element is Christianity.

    at a Root & Branch lecture a couple of years ago. It was this article I was really looking for.

    I feel bad for not having found it for you….

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    If there is one thing Narrett is not, it is an analyst. He has long since left logic behind, which is like losing the one thing you really need to analyse anything. Just because he is a university lecturer is no proof of his rationality.

    As to the quote you provide, I reject it thusly: I don’t believe that Western civilization is sick or that there is a humane moral code in the Torah, so the starting point is based on false assumptions and everything that follows is based on bogus and unsubstantiated assumptions.

    On the contrary, despite what has happened in the last eight years, Western civilization is strong and healthy and a shining beacon in a troubled world. That is one of the reasons so many people want to move to the West from other parts of the world.

  • Brunelleschi

    Ruvy-

    You are making a mistake as old as faith.

    Just because YOIU accept a law or laws, it does not make them “THE” law, God’s law, or moral.

    You don’t even need Dr Nutjob. That guy is a real piece of work!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Dan,

    This second element is Christianity. And this split is at the root of Dan Miller’s article.

    I must admit that I hadn’t thought of it quite that way before, but you may well have something. Would you please elaborate? Thanks.

    I’ll try. I may not do this right.

    A lot of Christianity is the outright theft and twisting of Jewish concepts of justice – coupled with the attempt to cut itself off from its Jewish roots. So, in Christianity, you have a dualism, a dualism also present in Greek thought – which divides the mind from the body. Christianity, reaching out to the then pagan population of Rome, took Greek concepts and incorporated them into the new religion. These concepts combined then overcame a decadent Roman culture and usurped it.

    But the point is that the replacement was dualistic in nature, never entirely divorcing itself from the pagan Greek culture it pretended to absorb.

    This dualism was later expressed in law, with “caesar” as the state, and the “bishops” representing G-d. This became the source of the fundamental legal division between actions at law (what “caesar” says is just) and appeals to equity (what the church deems “fair”).

    This is why I stated that Christianity is the only “religious” set of beliefs that contemplates both secular and religious worlds having legitimate authority.

    Had you used the Faith of the Children of Israel as your norm, rather than Christianity, you might have found yourself seeking to argue the other side of the coin – that there must be a clear division between religion and its influence, and the state and its influence.

  • Brunelleschi

    Ruvy2-

    I looked at the 3rd link you provided, the one about Romanticism and all that.

    Dr Nutjob is making a tirade against psychology/Romanticism (as an era in philosophy a few hundred years ago)

    It’s easy to see through this nonsense.

    Dr Nutjob is just attacking thought that doesn’t match scripture.

    Philosophy did not stop thinking 2,000 years ago. I’m sure if you convinced yourself that all scripture is fixed and true, anything that someone thought up in the last couple thousand years is defective.

    It’s a lot of work trying to beat back thinking and prove that something old is better.

    This is what happens when you put religion ahead of common sense.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    CR,

    I don’t believe that [____]. . . so the starting point is based on false assumptions and everything that follows is based on bogus and unsubstantiated assumptions. (emphasis added)

    Great logic; I must remember to use it. For example, I believe in the tooth fairy, so the notion that He does not exist is based on false assumptions and everything that follows is based on bogus and unsubstantiated assumption.

    Gosh Darn! I like that.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Brunelleschi

    If christianity “stole” Jewish law and thought, does that mean Judaism “owns” the concepts if wrote down?

    Where did Judaism get/steal it’s thoughts?

    From philosophers!

    Where did philosophers get their ideas? By thinking.

    So someone wrote down what they thought 2,000+years ago and you people think that thought is frozen in time.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Brunelleschi

    So someone wrote down what they thought 2,000+years ago and you people think that thought is frozen in time.

    You have Jews mistaken for Samaritans – who accepted the Torah and the Book of Joshua and rejected everything else. There are about 300 of them left in Israel, still making sacrifices on Mt Gerizim.

    When you stop thinking you cease to exist.

    The Torah was revealed to Moshe about 3,300 years ago, not two thousand years ago. Much of this revelation probably took place in what is now northern Arabia, at the mountain Jebel el-Lawz. That is probably where Horev (Mt. Sinai) was actually located.

    The rest of the Hebrew Bible was written over the next thousand years or so. But after the destruction of the Temple, during the ongoing Roman genocide of the Judean people, the remnant of the Sanhedrin worked on the Talmud Yerushalmi, and after a Roman attempt to kill them all off, they fled to Babylon and worked on the Talmud Bavli, which has been the standard operation manual for Jews (the Judean people) – particularly in exile – since. There has been an ongoing development of law and judgment which continues to this day.

    Where did Judaism get/steal it’s thoughts? From philosophers!

    Jews did not steal or copy their laws from philosophers. The whole concept philosophy is alien to Judaism and to the Children of Israel generally, a product of Greece.

    Before the revelation of the Torah to the Children of Israel, they lived according to the Laws of Noah, as modified by Abraham (circumcision) Isaac, (an afternoon prayer and sacrifice) and Jacob (prohibition from eating the sciatic nerve in cattle), and as they understood them from Sumer, which is where Abraham had originally come from. They used the solar calendar of Egypt, and the holidays in the Torah is described according to a modified version of that calendar, the Calendar of Jubilees.

  • Brunelleschi

    Nonsense-

    Judaism is just Jewish philosophy.

    It’s old and tired and you need to accept that fact.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Dan, I can only assume from your comment that you don’t actually know what logic is, what I was referring to or what you are trying to say. And you don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy either…

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I know what logic is…Spock is my hero!

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    I already knew that Andy, on account of all the many highly logical statements you have made in the past!

    Live long and prosper.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy D,

    My thoughts on the Minnesota statute are at Comment #57 here.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Is that more of that British humor Chris???

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Andy – yes!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    CR,

    And you don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy either… DO TOO! Not only that, I believe in all of my invisible friends.

    Dan(Miller)

    sneaks off to take his invisible meds . . .

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I think I may be starting to get the hang of it CR!

    Back in the day I thought you were always serious…now I realize, all this time, that you’ve only been trying to be funny!

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Well done, Sir Andrew of the Marsh!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I was wondering why I just felt a tap on each shoulder!

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    That was indeed my ghostly and lengthy sword!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    This is even more scary (and perhaps more believable) than the Tooth Fairy. It seems that North Korea now claims that it has sufficient weaponized plutonium for five bombs and that

    North Korea’s army said on Saturday it would assume an “all-out confrontational posture” against the South and wipe out the conservative government in Seoul for refusing to cooperate.

    Perhaps we will need all of the help we can get from the Tooth Fairy and all of the other gods to deal with this problem.

    Dan(Miller)

  • zingzing

    ruvy: “A lot of Christianity is the outright theft and twisting of Jewish concepts of justice – coupled with the attempt to cut itself off from its Jewish roots.”

    yep. that’s a perfectly succinct explanation of christianity’s beginnings. it’s just an evolution of an idea with some added b.s. to make it “different.” same thing happened when judaism had its start. and before that and before that and before that. somewhere back along the line, some freshly evolved homo sapien ate a damn root or mushroom because he was hungry and had a vision of sun gods and praying to them for more food… and then slowly started adding ceremony, dogma and ever-changing ideas of morality… and flash-foward a few thousand years and we’ve added oil and money to the equation where x=power.

    yep, some bubbling fool who couldn’t get his plants to grow (or maybe didn’t even know how to try, such were the mysteries of life) tripped out on some shrooms and saddled us with religion. good going, goofball. fuckin hippies always stinkin up the place.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Uh, Zingzing, based on considerable biblical research and prayers for divine guidance, I am convinced that you are wrong. It was the damn apple. The mushrooms and roots came later.

    Dan(Miller)

  • zingzing

    oh yeah, the apple… which day was it that god created the apple? tuesday? well, strike tuesday and all that came with it. maybe we’d be left without the fire ant and the state of south carolina as well, but them’s the breaks.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    And what did poor ole’ South Carolina do to deserve your wrath zing?

  • Cindy D

    RE# 80

    Now I feel sick.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Is that because you are deeply concerned about the North Koreans or that you just found out about the Tooth Fairy?

  • zingzing

    andy, i was born in north carolina. therefore, they didn’t do anything, other than be just south and named the same thing. we have a joke about south carolina: in north carolina, we fuck our cousins; in south carolina, they fuck their sisters. and that makes all the difference.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    CR,

    I am just a wee tad more concerned about South Korea, where I spent a couple of years during my misguided youth, before during and after the Pueblo crisis.

    As to the Tooth Fairy, He has been my guiding light and source of truth and wisdom for many, many years. I thought you had figured that out, already.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Cindy D

    LOL Big C :-)

    Hey and thank, you know.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Brunelleschi,

    Nonsense-

    So much for discussing anything with you.

    Note to self – ignore this guy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Zing,

    You’re so right. My first wife was from SC, then in Oregon You wouldn’t believe the family reunion. I was young and handsome then. Everyone was all over me – from thirteen-years old on up.

    Roger

  • Brunelleschi

    Ruvy-

    Haha. Funny.

    Backed you into a corner and you gave up.

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Dan –

    In reply to how a group that does not agree with the beliefs of mainstream ‘Christianity’ can call itself Christian, the answer is simple, if not socially acceptable: we believe that mainstream ‘Christianity’ is not Christian.

    This belief is repugnant to many…but I would say people should look at both sides of the issue. For instance, just as we hold mainstream ‘Christianity’ as not Christian, they see us as ‘not Christian’ in return. After all, every religion sees itself as THE true religion, and most see themselves as the ONLY true religion.

    But when it comes to mainstream ‘Christianity’, please realize the schisms therein:

    There’s the Catholic/protestant schism, where the Pope referred (@ 2-3 yrs ago) to protestants as those whose faith in Christ is ‘wounded’…and the spectrum of protestant beliefs which variously hold Catholicism to be anything from true Christians to the great whore of Babylon.

    And then there’s the differences between protestant faiths – like the Episcopalians who believe in baptism by sprinkling at birth, and the Baptists believe in full immersion at the age of understanding…both believe theirs is the ONLY true way to baptize – yet both believe that the others are also true Christians.

    So that begs the question – since baptism is central to Christianity, and each obviously believes the other guy’s way is the wrong way, then how could one believe the other is still truly Christian?

    …and yet these are “mainstream Christianity”.

    (I should note that I was baptized Episcopalian, Southern Baptist, and Methodist, and at other times was also Presbyterian and Lutheran before I was led to the Church of which I am a member)

    The Church of which I am a member teaches – and I believe – that while we are not to hinder those who have different beliefs, one cannot be truly Christian unless one is part of the one true Church – and to be in the Church one must follow the teachings of the Church, all of which are strictly Biblical.

    We strongly believe that trinitarian doctrine is NOT found in the Bible (I’ve debated the Arian controversy many times – and the hardest part for trinitarians to defend are the mistranslations that they hold as valid even though they are obviously mistranslations). We are not affiliated with any denomination or other religion, and though there are those whose strict monotheistic belief (that ONLY the Father is God and that Jesus was and is only a man) is the same as ours (Jews, Muslims, Christadelphians (but NOT Jehovah’s Witnesses)), we believe they are NOT part of the Church and that their only hope for salvation is found in Romans 2 (but that’s for another time).

    I hope this helps.

  • Brunelleschi

    Glenn-

    I think you should have picked “none of the above” a long time ago.

    How do you accept anything “biblical” when it contains writings of political propaganda that only really applied 2,000 years ago? The bible is riddled with flaws and nonsense. Tying on to it is foolish.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Thanks, Glen

    I think (and hope) I understand your position. I still have lots of problems with labels, though.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    The Tooth Fairy is a guy?!!! That just ruined a whole slew of pre-adolescent wet dreams for me. Damn!

    B

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baritone,

    I feel under an obligation to set the record straight, regardless of the consequences.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    This has been quite a discussion. While Dan’s (Millerse’s^&*) article went pretty deep into the topic, it seemed to me at the outset that he was simply trying to determine whether having government money made available to religious organizations to provide help to those in need should be permitted.

    Within the context that Dan (Miller) shapes it – that help is provided without mandatory indoctrination – should it matter to whom any such money goes?

    On a practical level, in the absence of any other viable sources, I’d say no. Many religious organizations provide services – filling a void – for people in need.

    It seems to me some years back here in Indy (and perhaps elsewhere) the Salvation Army was extending help to the indigent – food, shelter, clothing, etc. – but required those receiving those benefits to sit through religious services and/or receive individual religious indoctrination. Anyone refusing to do so would be refused assistance.

    Somewhere along the line someone – probably the ACLU – stepped in and filed suit against the organization for this practice and won. Afterwards, the SA continued to provide aid as before, but offered religious instruction only as an option.

    A problem I have had with more recent instances – that is federally financed faith based initiatives – is that the proscription established above is no longer enforced. The various religious organizations providing aid to people could in fact require recipients to set a spell and get religion.

    In colonial times here in good ole America the founding fathers had the wisdom to understand the rats’ nest that would likely ensue if the Constitution recognized any one religion. While most pre-revolutionary settlers here would have responded in the positive when asked if they were “christians,” there were then, as there remain today, a fairly large number of different “christian” denominations. Any mention of religion in the Constitution could well have set off a “war” between factions attempting to position themselves as “the” state recognized religion. Such a battle would have likely torn the fragile nation to shreds.

    Why this issue is a concern and worthy of discussion today, as I see it anyhow, is that there remains a strong element mainly amongst christian fundamentalists, evangelicals and charasmatics bent on creating a christian theocracy displacing our constitutional republic. In that effort, any inroads they can make toward enlarging the christian community’s weaving itself into the web of government is a plus for them.

    There are of course non-religious organizations which offer a laundry list of help to people without means. It’s simply that many religious organizations are ideally set up to provide aid in ways that others are not.

    I am obviously not a supporter of religion or religious organizations, but neither am I such an ideologue that I would insist, or even suggest that federal aid provided to people in need through faith based organizations should be rescinded. People need help in the present. They need food today! They need a place to sleep tonite! They can’t wait around while a bunch of pin heads like us banter the issue back and forth. The discussion is worth pursuing, but not to the detriment of those in need.

    I’m sure Andy, in his benevolence, would heartily agree.

    B

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baritone,

    Thanks for the comment. The issue on which you focus is not the only one mentioned in the article which I find of concern, but it is a big part of it. As to that issue, we agree.

    As to the a bunch of pin heads like us reference, I think you do yourself a substantial injustice. I don’t consider those who try to defend the U.S. Constitution “pinheads,” even though I occasionally though rarely disagree with their focus and consider them misguided.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Bru –

    How do you accept anything “biblical” when it contains writings of political propaganda that only really applied 2,000 years ago? The bible is riddled with flaws and nonsense. Tying on to it is foolish.

    Twenty years ago I would have agreed wholeheartedly with you. At that point I was agnostic verging on becoming an atheist…but then something was shown to me that I wouldn’t have dreamt – the fulfillment of prophecy that I could actually verify for myself.

    I know how that sounds to you, for I know how I would have received that claim two decades ago. You see, I only go with what I can prove in hard-and-fast terms. If it ain’t provable, then it ain’t believable. But what I was shown was provable, and it led me on a path of discovery, of finding out what was true, what was false…and just how very deep the rabbit hole goes.

    You’ve a right to believe – or not believe – as you will. Hopefully your cynicism will help you should you begin your search once more. If you’re curious, I’d be happy to direct you to the nearest locale so that hopefully you find what I did. But if not, I truly wish you well.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Dan (Miller),

    The “pin head” remark was a bit of slap dash, I suppose. I do believe we have to practice in our minds at least a balance between the value of such discourse as we do here and elsewhere, and concomitantly, be aware of its limits, that what we do here is largely a cerebral exercise having little if any practical impact. Nothing I’ve written here has put food in anyone’s mouth or a roof over anyone’s head.

    (Well, as to the roof thingy, I am a real estate appraiser. I guess some of what I’ve written has to a degree enabled a number people to call someplace home, but none of that effort has taken place on BC.)

    B

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius,

    Yeah, but it’s fun; even if sometimes I do put food foot in mouth.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Clavos

    Mumble, mumble…

  • Brunelleschi

    #100 Glenn-

    Whatever happened to make you believe is your business. If you think a prophecy or miracle occurred, it didn’t.

    I’ll pass on “the path.”

    I’m interested in this stuff but only for historical interest. Belief in old myths is not logical, and a little bit comical.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    D (M),

    You got the wrong “B”.

    BarITONE

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Backed you into a corner and you gave up.

    Give up?

    Fuck that! But, having had enough of Chris Rose’s contemptuous dismissiveness to make me vomit, I certainly don’t need yours. And I see you practice that same contemptuous dismissiveness on Glenn.

    The nice thing about the internet is that we get to CHOOSE who to talk with. And given that you do not discuss at all, it is waste of time engaging with you.

  • Brunelleschi

    I discuss, you preach and rant.

    Big difference!

    Happy Obama day!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baritone — Gosh darn! Sorry about that.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Zedd

    Roger,

    I think you are reiterating my point. Prior to the evaluation of the message of Christ, there was no Christianity, off course. Prior to his birth, there would be no Christianity. There was the Jewish faith, of which no one other than Jews could partake. While individuals were still held to the same standard as they are today, they experienced or understood faith to be a collective engagement, yes, however, if we look at the repercussions that were issued in the Old Testament, they were often issued to the individual. Throughout the journey of the Children of Israel, the individual had to adhere to the laws, or they would suffer the consequences.

    The collective element (my people), represents Gods love for humanity. It represents his egalitarian love, and equal expectations for all. However the responsibility is the individuals.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, as usual you are re-writing the facts in order to preserve your image of yourself as the victim.

    The only reason anybody dismisses your arguments is because they don’t make sense outside of the magical thinking you are so wedded to.

    The contempt comes later, when you continually ignore reason and espouse the kind of one-eyed fanaticism that has lead you to enthusiastically support the idea of Israel turning on its long-suffering allies, the countries that have donated billions in currency and tens of thousands of lives to protect Israel, by nuking Paris, London, Berlin and probably the USA too.

    Instead of argument to support your position, all you come up with is selective slices of history and an entirely subjective view that always places your fantasy as the only reality, despite the complete lack of evidence to support your position.

    Given the hatred and bloodlust you regularly post on this site, I think you are getting off pretty lightly in terms of how you are treated here. Certainly if a Muslim fanatic came onto the site and proposed the kind of mass murder you support, they would rightly be shouted down in no time.

  • Brunelleschi

    So the magic man in the sky loves you, and He can do anything, except help you ” responsibility is the individuals..”

    What is the reason people line up for this nonsense again?

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Believing in one or more gods is the one thing about which virtually every society on earth willingly allows its citizens to openly practice delusion. I suppose it provides a common outlet for our penchant for fantasy and make believe.

    Despite Ruvy’s obvious intelligence and knowledge of history, he is a poor spokesman for his country or his faith. To read his rants one might assume that the world revolves around Israel and its people. Amongst his many delusions, he, and presumably others of his ilk still believe they are god’s chosen, and are in consequence superior to all others. That in a nutshell is why jews have, since long before the advent of christianity, been the object of suspicion and persecution. They are always the victim.

    Ruvy’s scathing condescension against pretty much everybody works against him. He apparently believes that Israel can and will prevail on its own without anyone’s help – presumably owing to god’s grace or whatever, so he has no qualms about insulting and even threatening everyone within reading distance. Frankly, IMO, his raw hatred and broad accusations go well beyond the worst written here by the likes of JOM, Moonraven or even Shark. They simply practiced gutteral name calling – referring to other commenters as assholes, fuckheads, cocksuckers, etc. Ruvy wishes us all dead, and gleefully predicts our eminent demise.

    I guess he gets a pass, because to censor or even censure him would be taken as anti-semetic.

    B

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Zedd,

    Well put. Which remark of mine, by the way, are you referring to?

    I think what you are saying is an enlightened – or perhaps I should say, “more comprehensive” reading. Which is why those who believe in the continuity between the Old and the New Testament speak of “types,” precursors, that is, of things to come: e.g., the lamb sacrifice being a precursor of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross. (Northrop Fry has a couple of great books on the subject) And I believe that the mainstream Christianity, with the exception of some cults and sects, subscribes to this view.
    I don’t believe that the Jewish people as a whole do. Of course, not accepting the New Testament as a “sacred” book is the reason, so in a sense this is a moot point.

    The Covenant was of course the key concept of the Hebrew Bible, and the covenant was the the children of Abraham, later called Israel, and they were “the chosen people.” Their mission (outreach) was to bring other peoples (like the Caananites) to Yahweh) and thus spread the laws of God to all nations. Paul, of course, was the first to take this mission to heart and made it into the cornerstone of his theology: spreading the word of God to the gentiles.

    I am not certain to what extent salvation in Jewish faith was an individual experience. Even in the collective sense, the notion of salvation is not as clearly defined as it is in the New Testament. It’s been long time I have been in a seminary, so I’m hazy about it;besides, I haven’t studied any Jewish theological texts by rabbis, like Talmud, for example. But from my limited understanding, the idea of salvation was more concrete than it is in Christian theology, having more to do with actual historical circumstances, like freeing the Jewish people from the Egyptian bondage. “The Promised Land,” in my thinking, referred to obtaining some such freedom, although I have no doubt it also had “otherwordly” meanings or applications.

    I think the notion of individual salvation is most pronounced in Pauline theology – namely salvation by faith. Only with the Reformation, I think, and spread of Protestantism, did Pauline theology came into its own for large percentage of Christians; even to date, it’s rather downplayed by the Catholic dogma. So there is somewhat of a conflict here, because Church is a body (of Christ) and a congregation of believers; and yet, just belonging to the church is no guarantee of a person’s salvation. To put it rather simplistically, “you must have a personal relationship with Jesus.”

    As to God’s love for all and all alike, it’s implicit enough, I would think, in both the Jewish and the Christian Bible, to need any special argument (such as by need to connect it to the question as to whether “salvation” is individual or collective.

    Anyone, please feel free to jump in and correct my limited understanding of these matters or misconceptions.

    Roger

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Baritone, Chris and like minded individuals;

    You will believe about me what you wish, and I cannot change that. If I bowed and scraped and tried to be “reasonable”, you would still mock – but you would not be so open about it. That is what you are used to being able to do. You are used to a Jew who bows and scrapes, and censors himself before you, seeking your approbation and approval. I neither need nor desire any of these things.

    And it pisses you off. So you claim I’m hateful. too fuckin’ bad.

    It really pisses you off to be told to your faces that you have acted like savages for 2,000 years; that you have committed and permitted genocide and have learned nothing by it; that your government has persistently attempted to sabotage the Jewish State so as to allow yet another genocide against my people; that your pathetic pornographic culture and civilization is just a cover – and a bad one – for brutality, bestiality, hatred and exploitation; you are used to a Jew with his hand out for money; G-d knows I need money and damned bad – but I’ll not put my hand out to you. You are used to Jews asking your country for special favors; you are used to Jews buttering you up and looking for that extra dollar, thousand dollars, million dollars, billion dollars, whatever. You are not used to having a Jew tell you to take you money, your aid, your interference and your arrogance and shove it your collective asses.

    Our nuclear weapons can keep order in the Middle East. Perhaps not for your benefit, but most assuredly for ours.

    We do not need you. This country is self sufficient in food and water; you benefit from trade with us far more than we benefit from trade with you on every level. You benefit from our brains, our creativity, and sharp thinking. You threaten boycotts of us, when we should be boycotting you and depriving you of what you get from this country – Jewish creativity. You do not deserve it.

    That’s the truth. And the truth hurts. And what you are not used to is a Jew who is willing and able to bluntly tell you the truth.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, everything in your #114 is untrue although, ironically, it did truthfully convey the depth and persistence of your impressive subjectivity.

    In order then, you’re not being mocked, you’re being out-debated and you’re having a tantrum. We don’t expect you to bow and scrape, simply to be polite. I don’t want or expect you to seek my “approbation or approval” (they mean the same thing by the way), so all of that is just drivel you made up.

    It doesn’t piss me off in the slightest to be told that “we have been acting like savages for 2,000 years”. I don’t believe it to be true for a start, I just think you’re being hysterical.

    The same goes for the rest of your silly rant; there’s no sabotage of Israel, no genocide, no pornographic culture, and we are used to a Jew rejecting our money, aid, et cetera – verbally at least – because you bang on about it all the time.

    I also don’t think Israel can keep the peace in the Middle East, with or without your 6 nuclear weapons. You haven’t the manpower or firepower for that and, based on the mindless hostility you generate, you don’t have just cause for it either.

    Just as no man is an island, no country is too; your vision of an independent and isolated Israel is just nationalism on drugs; silly, impractical and unwanted in the cold light of day.

    So no, it’s not the truth that hurts, for you have none, just pipedreams and breathtaking amounts of arrogance and hostility. It is the determined self-deceit, rudeness and ignorance that is annoying, not the message.

  • Brunelleschi

    WHO has been a savage for 2,000 years?

    Ruvy can’t be talking to Americans. Maybe Christians? Not all Americans are Christians.

    I agree Christians have been savages. Just look at the Crusades.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Ruvy, exactly how much do you drink before you log on and post here?

  • Ruvy

    I only drink the poison of the comments that come before – and respond.

  • Baronius

    Dan – Interesting article; disappointing thread. Sorry I got here so late.

    My understanding is that the United States is unique: we are a country which formed itself out of a population with different religious beliefs. Spain, for example, formed itself by expelling those who disagreed with the majority religion. The Indian subcontinent was formed into a political whole by outsiders; when it attained independence, it split into separate entities by religion.

    There are three ways to proceed from a beginning like ours. You can adopt a national religion (like the German states did); you can take an anti-religious stance like France; or you can do what America did, and be religiously neutral. No religion espoused or restricted by the government. Probably, Christianity is the best-suited religion for this arrangement, although some non-Arab Muslim countries have done pretty well.

    The thing is, America was founded by Puritans, Deists, Quakers, Catholics, Jews, Anglicans, et cetera. A weak central government wasn’t something that we aspired to; it was the only way we could get along. (Recall that the Constitution only opposes federal, not state, establishment of religion.) Our system was designed to accomodate crazy utopian settlements. So the US lets each man’s conscience guide him wherever possible, and each area have the independence to establish its own norms. It worked well, too, until someone noticed that regional governance didn’t provide any decent means of eliminating slavery. I think that we lost the ideal balance between religion and state four score and some-odd years after our founding.

    And that’s where we stand today: we still haven’t ironed out the best means to have national laws and regional standards. If we had the release valve of different states’ standards, we wouldn’t have so much pressure in our arguments about social issues.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius,

    I had been hoping that you would have something to say. Many thanks.

    I do have a minor quibble, however. You say, Recall that the Constitution only opposes federal, not state, establishment of religion. I have not researched that, but suspect that the Fourteenth Amendment might well be construed to preclude any establishment of religion by one of the (57?) states.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Baronius

    Dan, you’re right about the 14th Amendment, but that wasn’t passed until after the Civil War. Now, obviously no state ever tried to establish an official religion, so this wasn’t a burning issue for the new country. It’s just an indication of how disparate the Founders were on religion, and how vigorously they avoided setting rules about it.

    I guess that my answer to your article’s title questions is the following: if individuals have freedom of conscience, the politics of a country cannot help but be affected by the deepest beliefs of its people.

    Does this article reflect a new trend in your thinking? It seems different.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    I prayed on this and Jesus came to me in a dream and said, “render unto Barack what is his and then figure it out for yourself. You’re a big boy.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius,

    Does this article reflect a new trend in your thinking? It seems different. I thought about that while I was writing it, and decided that it probably doesn’t. I have long thought that religion has its pernicious aspect, and even that the bad sometimes but not always outweighs the good. It is easy to fuss about the bad, as is often done, but I thought it high time for someone with my Agnostic/Atheist views to suggest that sometimes the good outweighs the bad.

    We are in agreement that if individuals have freedom of conscience, the politics of a country cannot help but be affected by the deepest beliefs of its people. Nor would I like it to be any other way.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    if individuals have freedom of conscience, the politics of a country cannot help but be affected by the deepest beliefs of its people

    Amen!

    I think we can elevate that statement to the status of a sociological and political rule.

  • Brunelleschi

    #119-

    Good stuff.

    The founders had to limit federal power to make sure all the colonies would sign up and be happy.

    I agree states were left to address religion on their own. If Utah wanted to declare itself Morman, I think it could, but you would see a court battle anyway.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Dan Miller/Baronius (#119),

    Very comprehensive and eye-opening account. The reason I was initially dismissive of Dan’s argument (and I apologize, Dan, for the manner in which I had done is), was because I didn’t see any theoretical problems at hand which needed resolving. As to matters pertaining to practice, I suppose I (and many others) take it for granted that we’re all free and bound by nothing else but conscience (which includes our religious belief if we have any) to affect how we’re going to vote on political matters that come now and then for resolution in state legislatures or any other forum. You’re raising a very interesting point concerning the tension between federalism and state rights, and your example of the Civil War is a very good one insofar as showing the need for federal laws to step in and resolve issues that regional laws could not, issues which (perhaps) were found offensive to “the common sensibility.” And I suppose one could cite here the integration issues (like Brown vs. the Board of Education” and of course “Roe vs. Wade”). So far so good and we’re on the same page thus far.

    Could you please then expound on your last paragraph, about “ironing out the means of coexistence between federal and state legislation”
    and the safety valve? I understand now, in the context you’re providing, certain potential problems: like, for example, the move by some of the conservative to have Roe vs. Wade repealed; or even the current matter of gay rights and gay marriage. Perhaps there isn’t any mechanism in place to be dealing with these and upcoming issues in any procedural, established way rather than on a case by case basis. So first, what you envisage as a solution, and in what way do you find the present system inadequate. The second question is: what aspects or issues concerning organized religions or simply matters of individual’s faith do you see still unresolved; and how better “interaction” between federal and state legislatures could be of help with respect to those issues.

    Roger

  • HeddaCabbage

    Baronius and Dan (Miller):

    The lack of recrimination and condescension in a conversation between an atheist/agnostic and a believer is exceptional and exemplary. I enjoyed listening in.

    PS to Dr. D. He isn’t eager to relinquish his creations into the maw of Mordor, though! Acting on Truth (ridicule be damned) isn’t optional; however, the reach of God’s perception is not so small that a person short on doctrine and long on love escapes His notice.(Acts 10:1-8, Romans 2:13-16.) The Hound of Heaven isn’t a hand-wringer.

    I can understand why people are turned off by the “Country Club” vibe given off by certain synagogues (he isn’t “mensch”) and churches (“she isn’t Baptist/Catholic/Mormon.”)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Hedda Cabbage,

    The lack of recrimination and condescension in a conversation between an atheist/agnostic and a believer is exceptional and exemplary. I enjoyed listening in.

    Baronius wrote:

    There are three ways to proceed from a beginning like ours. You can adopt a national religion (like the German states did); you can take an anti-religious stance like France; or you can do what America did, and be religiously neutral. No religion espoused or restricted by the government. Probably, Christianity is the best-suited religion for this arrangement, although some non-Arab Muslim countries have done pretty well.

    My comments to Dan on this article have run along similar lines, but were more comprehensive, detailing how I felt that using Christianity as an exemplar for this discussion was not wise. and detailing what I knew and understood of other religions/nationalities round the world. At comment #63 Dan Miller wanted more details to my approach, and I attempted to give them to him.

    Later, others saw fit to attack my views as generally being hateful and hostile. When attacked, I respond in kind. But I have not yet heard from Mr. Miller, with whom I was attempting to have a civil and civilized discussion.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Should religion affect politics?

    To give a slightly different take from Dan Miller’s fine (but slightly flawed) analysis, I offer these bits of news as to how religion does affect politics – but in a rather indirect way.

    Most of you know that Israel just sent troops into Gaza in a half-hearted attempt to weaken Hamas. I’m not going into the pros or cons of the operation or the issues involved because, frankly they are not relevant to what I’m talking about.

    What is relevant is the attitude of the troops going into battle – and some of the things that occurred.

    Israel’s army is not a religious organization at all, and the IDF’s commanders regard anything that is done to respect Judaism as a grudging favor. They need a chaplains’ corp of rabbis. The vast majority of the soldiers are Jews. But if they could get away without one, believe me they would. The tone in the IDF is not anti-religious. But they try to ignore religion as much as possible.

    That is not a criticism – just a statement of fact. The truth is that it used to be far worse.

    Most Israeli soldiers, even the secular ones, want to carry a book of psalms. This is normal. I have a Jewish soldier’s Bible from WWII, something that one of my cousins who went to war in the US Armed Forces carried with him into battle.

    But in this campaign, all the (Jewish) soldiers going into battle, religious or non-religious, sought to wear what is called a tallít katán, something normally worn by observers of the faith like me. It’s kind of like an undershirt, cut square at bottom with fringes coming down from its four corners. Its worn because all Children of Israel are commanded to wear fringes on their garments to remind them of the commandments G-d gave them, that they should not lust after what they see with their eyes (as in women, chattels or money) and not chase pagan ways or the path of the foreigner.

    Before the Romans started to actively persecute Jews, these fringed garments were worn were worn on the outside. When the Romans started to crucify Jews for wearing these fringes, someone came up with the brilliant idea of an undergarment that the Romans would not see. This has remained with us for about 1,900 years or more.

    I have to emphasize here that the rabbis were not handing these garments out to those who didn’t ask for them. They were not pushing them on the soldiers as something they should do. All the soldiers were asking for them. And the rabbis were running out of them. The soldiers who could not get a tallít katán were extremely upset, and officers who were not supposed to go to the front would often give theirs to the soldiers who were. This had never happened before.

    The soldiers, as well equipped as they were, were turning to G-d for protection. One soldier said – “here brother, take one of these – they’re better than Kevlar.”

    The soldiers insisted on blessings from the rabbis before they went into battle – religious and non-religious alike.

    But that is not the entire tale. Once in Gaza, the soldiers realized that many of the houses had been booby-trapped to blow up.

    This story came to me first from my eldest son, and has spread like wildfire throughout Israel. Eventually it made it to Arutz Sheva and I report the main points from the article.

    The story was first told by Rabbi Lazer Brody, a rabbi in Ashdod who “devotes his time to spreading faith around the globe via Breslov Israel and the Emuna Outreach organization” that he founded. Rabbi Brody told Israel National News that he receives many phone calls in the framework of his work – including a particularly noteworthy one about two weeks ago. “The caller, an Israeli man, was clearly knowledgeable about how IDF infantry troops operate,” the rabbi and former IDF special-unit veteran said, “and this is what he told me:”

    ‘My son is in the Givati Brigade, and his unit’s job is to clean out areas around Gaza City. Outside one house, a woman dressed in black appeared and started yelling at them in Arabic, ‘Ruchu min hon – Get out of here! It’s dangerous!’ The troops thought she might be trying to protect her family, but they didn’t want to take chances; the company commander called the regiment commander, and they went on to their next target. There, too, the same woman appeared and gave the same warning. The soldiers thought she probably came somehow through the tunnel network that Hamas had set up between houses, and one of the soldiers even yelled at her… Then they went to a third house – and the same woman appeared again. This time, all the soldiers froze.

    ‘The soldiers then hooked up with a Golani Engineering force whose job it was to blow up houses that were found to be booby-trapped. My son’s unit asked them to check these three houses – and they found that all three of the houses that the woman had warned them away from had been booby-trapped.'”

    In the versions I heard from both my sons, the woman, when asked who she was and why she was warning soldiers away from booby-trapped houses that would kill them said “I’m Rachel”.

    Rachel, the Matriarch of the Hebrew people, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, who wails for her children to return home.

    Dismiss the story if you wish. But most who have been in Gaza, and who had to deal with booby-traps all over the place – do not.

    TEN Israeli soldiers died in the campaign in Gaza.

    JUST TEN.

    The issue of the influence of religion here is not in the politics of the campaign or the arguing over the “cease-fire” that is now in place.

    The influence of religion has just become a lot stronger over our reservists – the guys who are the real guarantors of our safety here. And when I say religion, I do not mean mumbling prayers or arguing over which rabbi’s kosher stamp is better. I’m talking about a root belief in the protection of the Almighty. Thousands went into battle – ten died. The numbers themselves are a much stronger argument than all the G-d-botherers pounding on Bibles screaming “repent!”

    This influence of religion – a most unwelcome event among the top brass of the IDF – will influence events here.

    I would say “you can take that to the bank” but considering the condition of banks world wide, I guess that is not the most appropriate expression. A more appropriate one is a Jewish expression – “it’s good as gold”.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Ruvy,

    I didn’t mean to ignore your Comment #63, I just didn’t know how to respond immediately and then it slipped my mind. Then, I decided that I don’t know enough about Judaism to respond adequately; but, I will give it a shot.

    The dualism you mention in Christianity not only makes sense, it seems to me to be a good thing. You say,

    A lot of Christianity is the outright theft and twisting of Jewish concepts of justice – coupled with the attempt to cut itself off from its Jewish roots. So, in Christianity, you have a dualism, a dualism also present in Greek thought – which divides the mind from the body.

    Characterization of this as “theft” strikes me as a tad overly dramatic, since notions of intellectual property are fairly recent and without some concept of property rights theft is difficult to fit into the mix. However, I agree otherwise with the statement that Christianity took various concepts from Judaism, did not take others, and took other concepts from elsewhere. The doctrine of the virgin birth is one example. As you note, Christianity is an eclectic religion.

    Christianity, reaching out to the then pagan population of Rome, took Greek concepts and incorporated them into the new religion. These concepts combined then overcame a decadent Roman culture and usurped it.

    Ancient Rome is not the most recent example. When the Roman Catholic Church sought to spread Christianity among the heathen in South and Central America, I understand that more than a few of the popular religious notions were melded into Christianity — The Black Jesus,, revered in Portobello, Panama, has his own special day when masses of the faithful crawl long distances to worship him, while flagellating themselves. Various of the Christian saints bear a remarkable resemblance to earlier worshiped beings.

    This dualism was later expressed in law, with “caesar” as the state, and the “bishops” representing G-d. This became the source of the fundamental legal division between actions at law (what “caesar” says is just) and appeals to equity (what the church deems “fair”).

    Now this I think I understand — the division between law and equity has long been a part of English and now U.S. law; indeed, it was not too long ago that there were separate albeit secular courts of law and equity in many states, and some remedies available in the two types of court were not the same. Injunctions, for example, were available in courts of equity but not in courts of law. Various Common Law writs (replevin, etc.) were not available in Equity. The distinction has now largely disappeared, and had already done so back in the dark ages when I was in law school.

    Had you used the Faith of the Children of Israel as your norm, rather than Christianity, you might have found yourself seeking to argue the other side of the coin – that there must be a clear division between religion and its influence, and the state and its influence.

    You may be correct; I just don’t know enough about it to agree or disagree. However, it seems to me that Christianity, Jewish roots and all, has more impact on U.S. society than does Judaism, and that (along with my monumental ignorance of Judaism) caused me to select Christianity as the focal point of the discussion.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    it seems to me that Christianity, Jewish roots and all, has more impact on U.S. society than does Judaism, and that (along with my monumental ignorance of Judaism) caused me to select Christianity as the focal point of the discussion.

    It’s a given that Christianity is the dominant religious influence in the United States. My problem was not that you didn’t use Judaism (why should you?); my problem was that you didn’t cast your net wide enough in terms of faith based concepts to meet the title of the article. That is why the title of the article would have better been, “Does Religion Christianity Affect Politics? If so, Why, and Should it?”

    I return to my original analysis: as it stands, Christianity is the one religion where both secular and religious authority can both claim legitimacy, and this stems from the dualistic nature of Christianity itself. The other faith based sets of concepts do not really contemplate this at all.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Dan/Baronius,

    I’d like to come back to #126; It seems you’re getting distracted for the time being with other comments. Respectfully,
    Roger

  • HeddaCabbage

    Take a number Roger. Or you could learn how to use attention-commanding bold type in your comments, remembering, of course, to close the HTML tags. Ruvy, it isn’t necessary, or even good for your heart, to respond in kind to every attack online! There are a lot of people about just trying to get your goat!

    Two consequences of States rights vs. concentration of power at the federal concentration: If she lived in a state where the constituents had a strong aversion to abortion that wasn’t to preserve the life of the mother, a woman living in one state might have to travel to another to get an abortion that did not threaten her life–or she could get one in the state she lived if the citizens felt the other way.

    Alternatively, a doctor who prefers not to perform or even refer for such abortions might not need to move to Ireland to continue legally practicing medicine.

  • Mark Eden

    (Dan – you should try using your name without the parentheses in the comments — unless you prefer being a parenthetical person, of course. Yesterday our illustrious spam filter identified my name as spam as it has yours. I followed your example and used the parentheses. Today, my name works again.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Thanks for addressing my question, Hedda. It thought this article was supposed to be about relationship between politics and religion, such as it exists and is practiced in the U.S. I didn’t know I’d be getting into any general kind ofdiscussion as to the merits of different theological systems. They should have prepared me for that.

    Roger

  • Clavos

    They should have prepared me for that.

    Ahh. The ubiquitous (and infamous) “they.” Did you have any “they” in particular in mind, Roger?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    No, Clavos, just a turn of phrase.

  • Clavos

    …and always a convenient (if anonymous) scapegoat.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    There are a lot of people about just trying to get your goat!

    If they want to buy the goat, 5,000 shekels should do the trick….

  • Baronius

    Roger – I didn’t mean anything profound about balancing federal and local authorities. It’s just that, for the individual’s conscience to have much impact on the society in which he lives, it’s got to be a small society.

    Hence the focus on the family, the neighborhood, maybe even the state. There’s no good reason that 60,000 people are rallying in Washington DC today to get their local abortion clinic closed, much less to oppose the President sending money overseas for abortion clinics. As originally conceived, America wouldn’t offend people’s religious sensibilities from the nation’s capitol; it would let each area run roughshod over its own people. (That’s one reason that people moved a lot in the 1700’s.)

    Not an easy call. It just seems like we’ve always had a heterogeneous population, and to govern it you either need loose federalism or a Torquemada-style strong central government.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Clavos,

    I was just an attempt to redirect the conversation. Don’t make a mountain out of the molehill. Baronius made some very incisive comments and I egged him (and Dan too) to extrapolate. If they wish to remain cryptic, that’s their prerogative. I just tied.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Sorry, Baronius,

    I didn’t see your comment posted immediately above prior to posting my reply to Clavos. I need to regroup a bit and respond. It is an intriguing idea, nonetheless. Thanks.

    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger,

    I don’t recall having made points about the Civil War (known to some as the War of Northern Aggression) or a paragraph about “ironing out the means of coexistence between federal and state legislation . . .and the safety valve, and a quick scan of the article and of my comments revealed neither, except perhaps the reference to the 14th Amendment as preventing a State from establishing a religion. I may have done so, and will admit to a degree of increasing senility. Perhaps if you could point me to where I said those things, it would help me to respond.

    There is, clearly, some intersection between State and Federal perceptions; some of them are probably grounded in religion. Although most probably are not, the United States seems to be more diverse in religion and in opinion than each of the several States. I view the Civil War as having had more economic than religious aspects, although there were probably some of the latter as well.

    As to coexistence of Federal and State legislation (or the lack of State legislation), that also seems to me to be more economic than religious in nature. The expansion of the Commerce Clause to permit Federal regulation of what had previously been viewed as intrastate commerce is one example.

    True, the abortion debate is often cast in religious terms, particularly by those who vigorously oppose abortion. Discussions of when human life begins are mainly religious in nature and the question itself is more religious or philosophical than medical in nature. The Roman Catholic perception (human life begins at conception) and the alleged Unitarian perception (life begins when the kids move out) are very different. Unless there is a Constitutionally mandated absolute right to abortion, I don’t see an overwhelming Federal – State conflict. Roe v. Wade seems to have dealt with the situation rather well, although it might eventually fall because the root concept of viability is subject to change as medical technology changes. I do, however, see a problem in requiring medical personnel to perform abortions against their religious or moral beliefs, as well as forcing an unwilling (on religious or other ground) female to submit to an abortion.

    As I attempted, perhaps without success, to point out in the article, many of the moral perceptions of those who consider themselves religious as well as many of those who don’t are grounded in cultures which are, in turn, grounded in religion. Any attempt to sever morality from the religious culture in which it exists is, I think, unlikely to succeed. Were it to succeed, I don’t know where an acceptable and workable source of morality would be found.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Baronius,

    I think you’re getting now into the crux of what (sorry for saying this) ought to have been the focus of Dan’s argument. Thus reformulated, I’m beginning to see a significant area and room for discussion.

    To get straight, are you saying that we’ve reached (or are about to reach) a point at which regional sentiments and preferences are dwarfed by the growth of Federalism and, consequently, that appeals to the contrary are becoming futile?

    Roger

  • Clavos

    Don’t make a mountain out of the molehill.

    Mountains, molehills, meh.

    Merely exercising my Constitutional rights while we still have them, Roger.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    No problem, Clavos. So am I.

  • HeddaCabbage

    Would there have been so many lynchings of “uppity negroes,” would there have been the post Sherman’s march resentment and devastation that gave rise to the Ku Kux Klan and the Jim Crow laws, would it have taken 100 years for blacks in the south to get any rights beyond emancipation–would the answer to all these questions be “no” if the elimination of slavery had taken place on a state by state basis, a changing of hearts (and promotion of viable economic alternatives) that would in time have made slavery seem as abhorrent (or at least unneccesary) to the good people of Selma as it would to the Northern abolitionist?

    Federally mandated laws on emancipation, abortion, gay rights, prayer vs. evolution in school–on state population(s) who aren’t ready for them do more harm than good, at least for many generations.

    Yes, you can be passionate that there is a need to free the slaves RIGHT now, rescue the 20 week old fetus from abortion RIGHT now, give domestic yet unmarried partners rights they lack RIGHT now, but unless your passion is conveyed to the lukewarm or your passionate opponents in a reasoned, patient manner, you might very well end up hurting more of the humans whose rights you are trying to preserve, for several generations at least. I’m not sure there were many feminists back in the 70’s who would have been as enthusiastic as many are today for the elimination of partial birth abortion bans.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Dan,

    “As I attempted, perhaps without success, to point out in the article, many of the moral perceptions of those who consider themselves religious as well as many of those who don’t are grounded in cultures which are, in turn, grounded in religion. Any attempt to sever morality from the religious culture in which it exists is, I think, unlikely to succeed. Were it to succeed, I don’t know where an acceptable and workable source of morality would be found.”

    That in itself, Dan, is a mouthful, a thesis fit for a book. My problem, I guess – having given your article only a cursory reading, which I stated at the outset – was that I didn’t see the ambitious nature of your undertaking.

    Based on what you’re saying now, yes, our moral notions today, for most at least, are derived from religious thought and culture. Separate ethics come with the professions – legal, medical, and the like – but by and large we’ve long lost connection with the kind of culture in which “morality” is an integral part of that culture. Ancient Greece and Rome are best examples of the former. Arete – pursuit of excellence – was part of the Greek ethos; the idea of virtue was the Roman ideal. There is a sense, of course, in which morality and all moral notions are embedded in natural language. So even today, we’re not really strangers to it – irrespective of whether we go to church or what church we go to; but moral language no longer has, I grant you, the same kind of force as it used to (unless it is associated with religious thinking). It’s just that most people are lazy or inattentive to their natural language and settle for easy (mis)association (or mis-identification)of moral thought with religious thought. So I grant you that in many modern societies (such as ours) different religions have replaced bona fide ethical thought as the main source of morality: they each come with their own ethic.

    Just think, even of the more “secularized” societies than America – take the Europeans, for example – where church attendance is virtually of no account compared to ours – you couldn’t say that they’re devoid of moral notions. And the same we must say of nonbelievers in America. Their opposition to the believers on such issues like abortion, capital punishment, etc. ought to be understood as opposition on moral grounds.

    What do you think?

    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger,

    Huh?

    Dan(Miller)

  • HeddaCabbage

    You didn’t listen to me about closing your tags, did you Roger?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I did, but must have put them in the wrong spot. I’ll try again until I get it right.

  • HeddaCabbage

    Not all those who are opposed to abortion are believers. Not all those who are opposed to capital punishment are nonbelievers. Granted (and I’m especially willing to concede this when they happen to AGREE with me!) some nonbelievers come to their conclusions with the aid of a moral compass, just as some who claim to be religious come to theirs. In the most fruitful and morally grounded discussions, points of view are not dismissed because they are identified with religion or lack thereof.

  • Baronius

    Dan – I made a couple of statements that moved from your original position to a kind of states’ rights argument. I think that Roger is pondering what you and I said, rather than what you said.

    Roger did bring up an interesting point about professions having their own ethical codes. That introduces more complications into a model of politics and ethics.

  • HeddaCabbage

    OK, before I erroneously put words in Dan(Miller)’s mouth (correct positioning of apostrophe?) I’d best depart from this discussion.

    I’m not sure, but I think it takes the ministrations of a comments editor to free us from italics now. Good talking with you Roger!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I guess I’ll preview first before posting; then I’ll be able to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Yes, Baronius,

    I think that’s where the confusion arose.

    Hedda, stay on the line: you made some good concrete contributions, with your examples for one.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Hedda (#152),

    That was exactly my point. Morality is part of language and it runs across religious beliefs or absence thereof. Still, the contested issues are contested, essentially, on moral grounds.

    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius,

    Re # 153 — Thank God Zeus and Athena whatever! I thought maybe I was more demented than I have been willing to acknowledge.

    I agree that professional ethics are essentially separate from religion. That is probably a good thing, if only to avoid confusion; besides, professional ethics are pretty much enforced by professional bodies, such as the bar and medical associations. That doesn’t necessarily eliminate confusion, but at least it does provide some written precedents upon which to rely. Beats highly emotional diatribes.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    ‘HeddaCabbage':

    Is that you, Irene?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Dan/Baronius,

    I’d still like to argue (in continuity with #148) that moral language, and moral notions in general, are part of ordinary language. With or without religious affiliations and organized religions, it is those notions which, at bottom, are at the root of disagreement whenever contested issues come before the courts for adjudication. The fact that one of the parties to the contest buttresses its position (or grounds it, as it were) in religious views is ONLY a political complication, and inconvenience. So how is this feature of American political life intrinsic to the problem, I ask.

    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger,

    I’d still like to argue (in continuity with #148) that moral language, and moral notions in general, are part of ordinary language. . . .

    Pray do so, kind Sir. To the limited extent that I may have it, I yield the floor.

    Dan(Miller)

    Wipes perspiration from brow and stumbles around seeking a chair.

  • HeddaCabbage

    I’m sorry to comment over Dan(Miller)’s long -awaited acceptance of Roger Nowosielski’s comment #148 challenge, but
    I do need to say a quick hello to Dr. D: Yes! I’d make SUCH a lousy poker player. :)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Are you, by the way, the same “Irene” Doc made reference to a comment or so ago? From one of the threads a while ago, I remember Irene Wagner. Am I completely off. But perhaps I shouldn’t be asking.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    It took me a day or so to figure it out, Irene, but then I remembered the ‘Hedda Cabbage’ joke you made a few weeks back, and realized that your writing style seemed familiar…

    I promise I won’t tell! ;-)

  • Clavos

    I’ll see your Nom de Plume and raise you two aliases, Irene…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    You know Irene, when you referred to my heart disease in your comment to me, I started getting suspicious. But I didn’t suspect you.

    You can stuff the cabbage with chopped meat and put a good tomato sauce over it, now….

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Oh, Ruvy, please desist. It’s at least four hours till dinner time.

    [rumble]

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    And for me it is five hours till – breakfast.

    (rumble, rumble…)

    I’ll raise you one stuffed cabbage and two cinnamon rolls (yumm)

  • HeddaCabbage

    Ha! Well I had SOME of you stumped anyway. Have nice meals, sleeps, weekends, Sabbaths, etc. guys. :)

  • bliffle

    Religion ? Politics? Anyone notice how fast GWB dropped the religious folks when they no longer served his purposes?

    When he needed to beatup the Godless Liberals he was honking the religious horn all day and night.

    But now, he seems to have thrown them aside like used up whores.

    What happened to Billy Graham and the rest of the family?

    No longer any place in the Bush wagon for has-beens?

  • Clavos

    used up whores.

    Very apt simile for men of the cloth…

  • Irene Wagner

    * yells at Clavos *

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Clav,

    Gosh darn! You are terribly sexist. Here, let me fix it fer ye:

    Very apt simile for men women and others of the cloth…

    Dan(Miller) aka Danama

  • Clavos

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, Fr. Dan.

    Yer right; the broads are just as bad…

  • Irene Wagner

    * decides not to apologize to Clavos and yell at him AGAIN *

    Off to sin no more. I mean it this time!