Category Archive 'Religion'
24 Nov 2014

Allah?

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Odin

18 Aug 2014

If the Pendulum Were to Swing the Other Way

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WitchBurning2

Thomas Hobbes has a little fun imagining a future very different from the present.

The triumph of the Recovery was marked most clearly by the burning of the Episcopal bishop of Maine.

She was not a particularly bad bishop. She was in fact typical of Episcopal bishops of the first quarter of the 21st century: agnostic, compulsively political and radical, and given to placing a small idol of Isis on the altar when she said the Communion service. By 2055, when she was tried for heresy, convicted, and burned, she had outlived her era. By that time only a handful of Episcopalians still recognized female clergy, it would have been easy enough to let the old fool rant out her final years in obscurity.

The fact that the easy road was not taken, that Episcopalians turned to their difficult duty of trying and convicting, and the state upheld its unpleasant responsibility of setting torch to faggots, was what marked this as an act of Recovery. I well remember the crowd that gathered for the execution, solemn but not sad, relieved rather that at last, after so many years of humiliation, of having to swallow every absurdity and pretend we liked it, the majority had taken back the culture. No more apologies for the truth. No more “Yes, buts” on upholding standards. Civilization had recovered its nerve. The flames that soared above the lawn before the Maine State House were, as the bishopess herself might have said, liberating.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

13 Jul 2014

Credulous Atheism

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Nietzsche

Michael Robbins, at Slate, reviews Nick Spencer’s Atheists: The Origin of the Species, which seems to constitute a well-deserved attack on the “New Atheists,” i.e., the smug, self-congratulatory secular materialists of the Richard Dawkins-ilk.

Nietzsche realized that the Enlightenment project to reconstruct morality from rational principles simply retained the character of Christian ethics without providing the foundational authority of the latter. Dispensing with his fantasy of the Übermensch, we are left with his dark diagnosis. To paraphrase the Scottish philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, our moral vocabulary has lost the contexts from which its significance derived, and no amount of Dawkins-style hand-waving about altruistic genes will make the problem go away. (Indeed, the ridiculous belief that our genes determine everything about human behavior and culture is a symptom of this very problem.)

The point is not that a coherent morality requires theism, but that the moral language taken for granted by liberal modernity is a fragmented ruin: It rejects metaphysics but exists only because of prior metaphysical commitments. A coherent atheism would understand this, because it would be aware of its own history. Instead, trendy atheism of the Dawkins variety has learned as little from its forebears as from Thomas Aquinas, preferring to advance a bland version of secular humanism. Spencer quotes John Gray, a not-New atheist: “Humanism is not an alternative to religious belief, but rather a degenerate and unwitting version of it.” How refreshing would be a popular atheism that did not shy from this insight and its consequences.

It is, I suppose, perversely amusing, and confirming of Chesterton’s prediction that, post Religion, people will not believe in nothing, but will believe in anything, that the typical contemporary enlightened elite position involves both the contemptuous rejection of traditional religion and the uncritical acceptance of an even-more-simplistic catechism composed of sentimental humanitarianism constituting a sort of attenuated Christianity, sexually-emancipated but even more enthusiastic about ressentiment.

01 Jul 2014

Liberal Reaction to Hobby Lobby Ruling

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ThomasMore
Sir Thomas More

My pseudointellectual liberal classmates have been reacting to the Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, excusing religious employers from providing contraception through employee health insurance, with ridicule, treating the very idea of moral reservations toward contraception as bizarre, insane, and a fringe position.

But the civilization of Europe and the Modern World were actually built by people of traditional religious faith, who until very recently in overwhelming percentage believed on the basis of revealed religion that contraception was wrong. I am not myself a believer, but I differ from most of my Yale classmates in declining to believe that today’s community of fashion has arrived at some uniquely superior and sophisticated position on every issue and that anyone who disagrees is some sort of troglogyte.

Thomas Babbington Macauley was the ultimate Whig historian, but even Macauley found himself obliged to acknowledge that Modernism and Scientism are not actually competent to refute religious faith.

Natural theology, then, is not a progressive science. That knowledge of our origin and of our destiny which we derive from revelation is indeed of very different clearness, and of very different importance. But neither is revealed religion of the nature of a progressive science. All divine truth is, according to the doctrine of the Protestant churches, recorded in certain books. It is equally open to all who, in any age, can read those books; nor can all the discoveries of all the philosophers in the world add a single verse to any of those books. It is plain, therefore, that in divinity there cannot be a progress analogous to that which is constantly taking place in pharmacy, geology, and navigation. A Christian of the fifth century with a Bible is neither better nor worse situated than a Christian of the nineteenth century with a Bible, candor and natural acuteness being, of course, supposed equal. It matters not at all that the compass, printing, gunpowder, steam, gas, vaccination, and a thousand other discoveries and inventions, which were unknown in the fifth century, are familiar to the nineteenth. None of these discoveries and inventions has the smallest bearing on the question whether man is justified by faith alone, or whether the invocation of saints is an orthodox practice. It seems to us, therefore, that we have no security for the future against the prevalence of any theological error that ever has prevailed in time past among Christian men. We are confident that the world will never go back to the solar system of Ptolemy; nor is our confidence in the least shaken by the circumstance that even so great a man as Bacon rejected the theory of Galileo with scorn; for Bacon had not all the means of arriving at a sound conclusion which are within our reach, and which secure people who would not have been worthy to mend his pens from falling into his mistakes. But when we reflect that Sir Thomas More was ready to die for the doctrine of transubstantiation, we cannot but feel some doubt whether the doctrine of transubstantiation may not triumph over all opposition. More was a man of eminent talents. He had all the information on the subject that we have, or that, while the world lasts, any human being will have. The text, “This is my body,” was in his New Testament as it is in ours. The absurdity of the literal interpretation was as great and as obvious in the sixteenth century as it is now. No progress that science has made, or will make, can add to what seems to us the overwhelming force of the argument against the real presence. We are, therefore, unable to understand why what Sir Thomas More believed respecting transubstantiation may not be believed to the end of time by men equal in abilities and honesty to Sir Thomas More. But Sir Thomas More is one of the choice specimens of human wisdom and virtue; and the doctrine of transubstantiation is a kind of proof charge. A faith which stands that test will stand any test.

01 Jun 2014

Sunday Morning

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JesusHangover

28 Jan 2014

It’s Good Enough For Me

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27 Jan 2014

Sidewalk Evangelism

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05 Sep 2013

Miss Devine

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Hat tip to Bird Dog.

11 May 2013

“And in Death, They Were Not Divided”

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In Roermond, The Netherlands, the headstones of two members of a mixed Protestant-Catholic marriage manage to overcome strict 19th century religious divisions.

Atlas Obscura story.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

10 Mar 2013

Pope Watch

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Pope Alarm will notify you when the smoke comes out of that Sistine Chapel chimney, and presumably tell you what the color was.

Guess the next Pope’s name and win an iPad mini

10 Jan 2013

Anti-Gay God Removed From Inaugural Program

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YAHWEH

Just as Louis Giglio, previously scheduled to perform the benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration, has been removed from the program as the result of previous anti-gay comments, the Obama Administration announced today that the well-known Semitic mountain deity, YAHWEH aka Jehovah aka Allah, will be voluntarily withdrawing as the object of prayers and invocations during the event.

YAHWEH is on the record as authoring the Old Testament book of Leviticus containing an explicit prohibition against “lying with mankind as with womankind.” He additionally reported first-hand, in his Book of Genesis and in the al-Koran (which he allegedly dictated to Mohammed), that he personally destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, a pair of “cities on the plain” near the Jordan River as a personal expression of His intolerance of homosexuality.

The Thracian Dionysius, famous for his personal androgyny will be stepping in as object of prayers and requests for benedictions. He is additionally reported in an account expected soon to appear in Gawker to have volunteered personally to take responsibility for the catering and to be in charge of arranging the Inaugural celebrations’ evening entertainment.


Dionysius

21 Dec 2012

The New Age of Faith

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Richard Fernandez contends that our liberal friends have not given up religion, they’ve just turned to worshiping different gods.

One conclusion that might be drawn from disparate vignettes is that the fault line running through families and societies in the Western World today consists of those who think the world should save them and those who think everyone should pay their freight. Broadly speaking these two groups of people are fighting over the meaning of words and social relations.

One side sees “rights” as the ability to do anything they want and be free of the consequences. The Universal Right is the right to a free lunch which gives rise to derived rights like the right to wear any kind of pants they like and to stab any parents who may object. And if it actually comes to stabbing it will be the knife’s fault. That it should be a person’s responsibility is unthinkable. The opposite side sees a transactional universe in which everything has a cost and nobody has a reasonable expectation to a free lunch.

They are killjoys. Individual responsibility — as opposed to the duty to the deity — is an old and incredibly secular point of view. We live in a new age of Faith. Only the old gods are dead but religion itself is doing a land office business. The psychological appeal of Barack Obama and Steve Jobs lies precisely in having taken over the places formerly occupied by Jesus, Moses and the Buddha. Some teenagers seriously believe “they have made a paradise on earth right now” so that celestial place bands like Coldplay can blast out their angelic melodies on the Ipad, of course.

Religion hasn’t declined in the modern world as much as changed its business address from the traditional churches to the event stadiums. Christmas — which itself had roots in pre-Christian holidays — first became Xmas or now The Holidays. Perhaps the only reason that Mohammed still holds a place of esteem in heart of multitudes is that the Prophet had the foresight to enjoin his followers to shorten any infidel who suggested toppling him from a place of honor by a whole head. In the Muslim world, unlike the place formerly known as Christendom, knives and firearms are much sought after objects. They too have a thing problem, but in a wholly different way.

In any case the newly religious look to God to fix things whenever something breaks. In the Islamic world they turn to Allah of course and in Blue Christendom to Obama. And so with bated breath the Twitter feeds are speculating on what new gun control measure the President will propose to fix the latest school shooting. He’ll save us from ourselves, that’s for sure. And then there’ll be another button or app in the teenager shrine to Obama and Jobs.

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