Saturday, February 7, 2015

On Extraneous Commas In My Writing

I've got bad enough eyesight so I can't see most commas.  When I edit things some of them get left in.  I'm tempted to stop using them altogether. Same thing with periods.   Dashes, hyphens, those I can see.  

Sheila Jordan - Who Can I Turn To

Let's Face The Music And Dance (like Fred Astaire Never Sang It)

Barry Galbraith, guitar
Steve Swallow, bass
Denzil Best, drums

This is a great album that should be considered one of the classics.   She's a great singer, still singing wonderfully well into her ninth decade.

Challenge: Go Ahead, Show Me Your Citations and Links

It's simple.  If you want to present the history of abolitionism as not being a product of religious thought based on The Bible, come up with an alternative literature of an age and demonstrated influence to have produced the abolition of slavery written on another basis.

 I haven't found anything except the opposite.

That the history of Christianity also contains defenses of slavery, all of those I've read based, primarily in classical Greek philosophy, Aquinas' confusing and baroque Aristotelian categorization and justification of some, not all, slavery, especially.  If he had stuck to the scriptures, he'd have had a far harder time justifying it, especially the words of Jesus.

Or there is the justification of slavery based on an incomplete reading of scriptures, such as Paul sending Onesimus back to Philemon*,  doesn't change the fact that what abolitionist literature there was, not to mention the movements to end slavery, are almost exclusively the work of Christians who cited their religion as their motivation.  I have yet to find anyone in the relevant period which led to abolition who based their arguments on materialism.

If you want that to be an atheist abolitionist movement, that will have to be written by atheists based on some other foundation.   I will note that no one has come up with a single thing since I offered to promote an atheist abolitionist literature, yesterday.  Go ahead, put up your citations and links.

I am sending him back to you: will you receive him as my son, part of me? I should have dearly loved to have kept him with me: he could have done what you would have done - looked after me here in prison for the Gospel's sake. But I would do nothing without consulting you first, for if you have a favour to give me, let it be spontaneous and not forced from you by circumstances!

It occurs to me that there has been a purpose in your losing him. You lost him, a slave, for a time; now you are having him back for good, not merely as a slave, but as a brother-Christian. He is already especially loved by me - how much more will you be able to love him, both as a man and as a fellow-Christian! You and I have so much in common haven't we? Then do welcome him as you would welcome me. If you feel he has wronged or cheated you put it down to my account. I've written this with my own hand: I, Paul, hereby promise to repay you. (Of course I'm not stressing the fact that you might be said to owe me your very soul!) Now do grant me this favour, my brother - such an act of love will do my old heart good. As I send you this letter I know you'll do what I ask - I believe, in fact, you'll do more.Philemon 12-21 

Not the same thing at all.  Considering the world into which Onesimus would be escaping, in which there were no free states or Canada to flee to, it might have been the best chance the guy had.  Which is another problem.  As some have pointed out, slavery in the First Testament under The Law was different from Greek or Roman slavery, which was different from the serfdom that Aquinas was almost certainly talking about, and which was far different from the later slavery in Europe, the British Empire and North America.  Using the same translations of words for different things, some much worse than others.  Which isn't true of the language of abolitionism, which simply calls for freedom and in which everyone was talking about the same thing.

Trust in Material Objects Leads to the Highest Form of Vanity

In his Fourth Sermon on Ecclesiastes, St. Gregory of Nyssa sets the evil of slavery into a wider pattern based in the motives that lead to it and a larger series of economic sins, including the worst of those, in which people become objects of utility and commerce.   Today, even where official slavery is abolished, it merely continues under other legal pretenses, sometimes with an pathetically inadequate wage paid to cover it up, sometimes even that much is stolen with official, if tacit, permission. 

His description of the lifestyles of the rich and powerful as the generator of evil and the motives that lead to it is unusual, even within the abolitionist literature.  I doubt he was under any illusion that the wealthy and powerful were going to immediately give up what led them to enslave other people, slavery was such an entrenched practice that it must have seemed almost hopeless that it could be ended, universally.   When he delivered this sermon, some say on Easter, some say during Holy Week, he must have known that he was leading with what would be a radically strange idea to most of the people who would be hearing it.  He must have felt the need to go into unusual detail, getting into the motives of those who kept slaves to try to pry their consciences loose from that convention, following the structure of the verses he took as his text.  

To the extent that we follow the kind of life he describes is the extent to which someone else is ground down and enslaved.  For most of us the bling might not be gold but a new I-phone or something else.  The relevant mineral might not be gold but one of those rare earth elements contained in our technology and produced by the misery of people in the countries where that is found, their environment destroyed and the government corrupted in the ways commonly practiced by extraction industries.   Gregory of Nyssa's insights were sharp and took into account the wider context of the motives of people who do evil things. They are as relevant today as they were in the late Roman Empire.  

As a way of locating him in conceptual time, his maternal Grandfather was martyred under Maximinus II, during the last imperial Roman persecutions of Christians, his parents had their property confiscated due to their Christianity.  His own group of Christians hadn't established themselves in control, he was deposed at one point in his life.  Being a bishop at that time, in that place,  was not a particularly secure position.  Constantine may have ended the official persecution of Christians but they weren't part of a secure establishment until later. 

There was no guarantee that an emperor might not come to power who would mount another brutal period of oppression, enslavement, confiscation and killing. Apart from outright murder, the descriptions of the punishments under Maximinus include the worst kinds of enslavement, including in mines and sexual slavery.   Exactly the same thing that happens today under international trade, which includes blood diamonds, prison sweatshops, people enslaved to produce gold and other minerals and the destruction of the environment in countries around the world to the total oppression of those who live there. 


The Fourth Sermon on Ecclesiastes continued. 

We now observe many wealthy persons living pitiful lives; if it were not for people capable of healing them, they would not deem life worth living. If neither body nor soul benefits from [J.341] our opinion of gold's abundance, then how much more futile is it to prove gold's value to persons who possess it! For what material advantage is our lack of taste, smell, hearing or the sense of touch? As for me, let no one offer food or clothing in exchange for gold. The person who gives bread or clothing for gold exchanges a benefit for something useless in order to live, whereas anyone who takes nourishing food instead of gold lives. What profit, advise, lesson, warning or consolation for bodily pains can we derive from such material aggrandizement? A greedy person counts money, stores it up, signs documents, seals them, denies requests and swears falsely to another unfaithful person. Such is his happiness, the goal of his efforts and pleasure, as long as prosperity fuels his false oaths. However, this person claims that gold's appearance is lovely; it is more beautiful than the color of fire, the star's beauty and the sun's rays. Who hinders your enjoyment so that [J.342] you must provide pleasure for your eyes through gold's beautiful color? Yet Ecclesiastes says that fire goes out, the sun sets and our pleasure derived from such beauty is transitory. Tell me, how does gold differ from lead when it becomes dark? But Ecclesiastes says that necklaces, buckles, girdles, armlets, crowns and such adornments come neither from fire nor the stars. Trust in material objects leads to the highest form of vanity. With this in mind I now ask what type of person craves gold decorations, earrings, skins which adorn the neck or any other bodily limb? The body assumes the gleam of gold's splendor when we adorn ourselves with it. Anyone who sees a person wearing gold thinks it were for sale as in a market, but the person wearing it [J.343] is more concerned about its nature. If gold is well-wrought or carved, even though its color is green or has fiery gems, it does not assume any of these accretions; rather, if we suffer any kind of mutilation, or if our eyes exude pus [M.672], or if a scar horribly marks our cheek, such deformity belongs to appearance only and gold's gleam cannot cover it over; also, if the body suffers any calamity, gold cannot relieve its distress.

Is there any beautiful object worth pursuing which brings neither health to the body nor relief to pain? And what about deceived persons who cling to gold with their whole heart even though such possessions trouble their consciences? What do they promise themselves when they have something of so great a value? If they could change gold's substance, would they also desire to change their humanity into gold, a substance which lacks reason, intelligence and sensation as well as being pale in color, heavy, speechless and without soul and feeling? I do not think they would choose these things nor crave after [J.344] gold. If people of sound mind curse the properties of inanimate nature, what insanity makes them commit murder and steal to possess such a useless object? Not only do they carry this out, but they fail to see how it differs from the fruit [tokos] of evil thoughts, robbery or murder. How does a burglar differ from other robbers when he establishes himself as lord by committing murder or when he possesses what does not belong to him through usury [tokos]? Oh, how terrible is this usury, the name of a thief! Oh, what a bitter marriage and evil wedlock of which our human nature is ignorant while the disease of avarice has begun anew in lifeless persons! How grievous is that conception which gives birth to such usury!  

It shouldn't ever be forgotten that slavery is always, in every case, accomplished by a threat of violence and death.  One way or another, and always with the permission, explicit or unstated, of judges, politicians, police and military establishments.  Whenever those are successfully resisted and people are freed, the force doing that has to be sufficiently powerful and I think religion has proved to be the only force capable of doing that.   And, historically, it hasn't been all religion that makes that claim, the religion, itself, has to contain the demand of equal justice and any self-deprivation required to produce that justice.  Without that, selfishness has practiced enormous ingenuity to find ways to accommodate slavery.   That icon of the enlightenment, Thomas Jefferson, even as he was intensifying the regime of slavery at Monticello and his properties, arranged his house and life so he and his guests would see as little of it as possible.   Our ruling elite does the same thing through international trade agreements, to their benefit, placating the ever falling middle class with cheap junk produced by foreign wage slaves. We're no better than the people addressed by this sermon, we just like to pretend we are. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Bobby Timmons Trio - Dat Dere

Sheila Jordan and Gildas Bocle - same song

Bobby Timmons Trio - This Here

Bobby Timmons, piano
Sam Jones, bass
Jimmy Cobb, drums.
Same as on Dat Dere

I know Bobby Timmons' great playing from when he was with the Jazz Messengers.  His trio was pretty great, too.  He wrote both of these songs. Another great musician who died too young.

Hate Mail File

So you're upset that I'm focusing on the history of Christian abolitionism, saying it's not fair.  Though I think what you really mean is that presenting the fact that the abolition of slavery is a Christian legacy and not an atheist one rather puts the one in a better light than the other.

But I'll be fair.  If you can show me atheist tracts, essays, sermons against slavery making an effective and durable scientific argument that will withstand the most unsophisticated of commonly practiced atheist debunkery, show me how I can link to it.  I'm always up for an effective argument that can get people to do what's right instead of what's wrong.  I'd be rather fascinated to find an atheist abolitionist literature, especially one of the age and sophistication of those I'm linking to.

But, you do realize that you'll have to have one that includes that "proof" which is the cheapest of atheist challenges to anything they want to reject, not to say to refuse give up something they want to do.   As the post I did last month about Steven Weinberg's rejection of atheist attempts to come up with even the most basic of moral positions, that we are required to practice equal justice.

When you refuse to base that on something outside of materialism, you can't come up with an argument that isn't susceptible to that rather cheap use of the slogan, "Prove it".   You can't even support your contention that I'm being "unfair" without getting shut of atheism.  Prove from a purely materialistic basis that I'm required to be what you call "fair".

Ecclesiastes Proceeds to Mention Great Sins and Cries Out That Avarice is the Root Of All Evil.

The mockery of "the bronze age" in atheist invective, apart from showing that they think out of a basis of ignorance of their target.  It proves they've never read the books of The Bible which are seldom simple minded and always require thinking harder than you learn from watching science shows on cabloid TV.   And it proves even some of those presented by them as scholars. the source of that slogan,  never even read it because Iron is mentioned any number of times in the oldest books of The Bible.  But that's a minor thing as compared to the larger problem represented by the profound ignorance of the neo-atheists.

That a fourth century bishop, Gregory of Nyssa, could read the books of the First Testament and produce such a sophisticated analysis of them as he did in his sermons on Ecclesiastes demonstrates that religious thought, theology, is, far from simplistic.   In fact it's far too hard for the conceited dopes who dismiss it without ever having looked at it*.   His reading, setting his analysis within a larger analysis of a progression from Proverbs to Ecclisiastes, to The Song of Songs is more sophisticated and requires more reading and thought than the facile, superficial and no-reading-required slogans of 21st century atheism.  You won't find an "as seen on TV" version of it because it can't be condensed to fit into a TV schedule and it requires thinking and not pretty pictures and can't be turned into an adventure narrative.  Such is the stuff of today's idea of sophistication and erudition.

The one I'm concentrating on, the fourth one, shows that Gregory of Nyssa found those base motives of the "new atheism" at the foundation of slavery, vanity, superficiality, materialism.   Without those there would never have been a motive to enslave and oppress someone else, to presume to master them and steal their labor, their lives and their children.  I think that this earliest abolitionist tract might also be one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated in that it looks hard at the reasons slavery exists based in human weakness and selfishness as the cause in such sharp focus.  In doing that he was tacitly acknowledging the difficulty in ending slavery and why fighting against it would never be over as long as selfishness was a controlling part of human personality.

Slavery didn't end with the Emancipation Proclamation, not even in the United States with the great Civil War amendments to the Constitution, it continued with the blessings of courts all through the Jim Crow period and persists today, if with a bit less official blessing in the country and through the World Trade Organization as it is exported to other countries, including such "workers paradises" of China.   That communism, far from freeing workers from their chains they were widely pretended to be, even in the intelligentsia of the left here, has proved to be the major venue of openly legalized slavery within our lifetimes and today,  may indicate that materialism will never end slavery because it lacks the moral force to do that.  I think materialism will always co-exist with slavery because it turns people into objects and lacks any moral prohibition from other people using them as objects, either for individual gain or for the gain of a larger corporation or conspiracy to profit from the labor of other people.   I would expect that all of the legal documents in all of the non-Muslim countries where slavery exists today have some kind of prohibition of it while it is allowed.  The same is true here where the current cover word "agency" is given as a pretense that what is so obviously being done is not what it is, even as the graphic depiction of the degredation and enslavement of "sex workers" is as plain as their addiction, their subjugation, their inability to give meaningful consent, etc.  And their use as objects is presented as the height of sophisticated modern thinking, in service to freedom.  Vanity is as rampantly thriving today as it was in the remote past, in the Common Era and before it.  So is dishonesty, in service to the most vulgar of materialism.


The Fourth Homily (beginning)

The topic of [Ecclesiastes'] confession detains us because for by speaking about himself he lists all those characteristics enabling us to recognize the vanity of this life. It is as though he now puts a greater censure upon mens' deeds and accuses them of passion due to their arrogance. Among those things he includes is an expensive home, many vineyards, beautiful gardens, pools and orchards, do we find a person who regards himself as lord over his fellow man? "I obtained servants, maidens, servants born to me in my house" [2.7]. Do you see here a pride which makes false pretensions? Such words as these rise up against God. As prophecy has told us [Ps 118.91], all things serve [God] whose power is over them. As for the person who appropriates to himself [J.335] what belongs to God and attributes to himself power over the human race as if he were its lord, what other arrogant statement transgressing human nature makes this person regard himself as different from those over whom he rules? "I obtained servants and maidens." What are you saying? You condemn man who is free and autonomous to servitude, and you contradict God by perverting the natural law. Man, who was created as lord over the earth, you have put under the yoke of servitude as a transgressor and rebel against the divine precept. You have forgotten the limit of your authority which consists in jurisdiction over brutish animals. Scripture says that man shall rule birds, beasts, fish, four-footed animals and reptiles [Gen 1.26]. How can you transgress the servitude bestowed upon you and raise yourself against man's freedom by stripping yourself of the servitude proper to beasts? "You have subjected all things to man," the psalmist prophetically cries out [Ps 8.7-8], referring to those subject to reason as "sheep, oxen, and cattle" [M.665]. 

Do sheep and oxen beget [J.336] men for you? Irrational beasts have only one kind of servitude. Do these form a paltry sum for you? "He makes grass grow for the cattle and green herbs for the service of men" [Ps 103.14]. But once you have freed yourself from servitude and bondage, you desire to have others serve you. "I have obtained servants and maidens." What value is this, I ask? What merit do you see in their nature? What small worth have you bestowed upon them? What payment do you exchange for your nature which God has fashioned? God has said, "Let us make man according to our image and likeness" [Gen 1.26]. Since we are made according to God's likeness and are appointed to rule over the entire earth, tell me, who is the person who sells and buys? Only God can do this; however, it does not pertain to him at all "for the gifts of God are irrevocable" [Rom 11.29]. Because God called human nature to freedom which had become addicted to sin, he would not subject it to servitude again. If God did not subject freedom to slavery, who can deny his lordship? How does the ruler of the entire earth obtain dominion [J.337] since every possession requires payment? How can we properly estimate the earth in its entirety as well as its contents? If these things are inestimable, tell me, how much greater is man's value who is over them? If you mention the entire world you discover nothing equivalent to man's honor. He who knows human nature says that the world is not an adequate exchange for man's soul. When the Lord of the earth bought man, he acquired nothing more precious. He will then proclaim this surpassing possession along with the earth, island, sea and everything in them. 

What is the deposit God puts down? What will he receive from the contract by which he has received possession? Does an account, written agreement or small amount of money deceive you in order to obtain the image of God? Oh, what a delusion! If the contract perishes, moths corrode the letters and dripping water brings destruction, where are your pledges of domination? I see nothing more than a title [J.338] under your control. What authority enhances your nature? It is neither time, beauty, honor nor virtue. These yield a life similarly dominated by passions of both soul and body with you as its lord: suffering and cheerfulness, joy and sadness, grief and pleasure, wrath and fear, pain and death. Do not these belong to both slave and lord who breathe the same air and look upon the sun? Does not food[M.668] nourish them both? Do not they have the same intestines? Do not both become dust in death? Is there not one standard? Is there not a common rule and a common hell? How can you who are equal in all things have superiority so that as man, you consider yourself as man's ruler and say "I have servants and maidens" as if they were goats or cattle? When Ecclesiastes said that "I have servants and maidens" he also speaks of his prosperity in flocks and herds: "I also had abundant possessions of flocks and herds," both of which were subject to his authority. 

Ecclesiastes proceeds to mention great sins [J.339] and cries out that avarice is the root of all evil. "I collected for myself both silver and gold" [2.8]. What is more harmful than gold mixed with earth in those locations where the Creator had originally placed it? What is more advantageous for you than the earth's bounty which the Creator has made? Do not fruit trees contribute to your nourishment? Then why do you violate the bounds of authority? Show what the Creator has bestowed upon you such as mining, digging, burning and gathering what you have not scattered. This is not an accusation against gathering metal from the earth to manufacture money but since the mind cannot be free of avarice, Ecclesiastes adds "The special treasures of kings and princes" [2.8]. Kings gather wealth from provinces, a clear indication that they impose burdens, collect taxes and take money from their subjects. And so Ecclesiastes says that he gathers gold and silver. But whether or not this is true, I know that a great benefit lies in store for the person who collects such material possessions. [J.340] Let us exchange neither a mina, drachma or talent with avaricious persons; instead, let us hasten to turn everything into gold. As soon as possible let us exchange the earth, sand, mountains plains and vales for this material. What contribution do these have for happiness? If one sees in the universe what he now beholds on a small scale, how can such wealth benefit the soul or body? How can gold make a person wise, ingenious, contemplative, skilled, dear to God, pure, lacking passion and free from evil? Or if this is not the case, what good is there in being strong in body or in seeing one's life prolonged for many years and free from illness and harm? However, [M.669] no one is so vain nor inattentive to human nature to realize that these benefits are available for men even though a great amount of money is available for everyone. 

* "If Sagan really wants to hear serious disputation about the nature of the universe, he should leave the academic precincts in Ithaca and spend a few minutes in an Orthodox study house in Brooklyn."  Richard Lewontin: Billions and Billions of Demons 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Herbie Nichols Trio - It Didn't Happen

Herbie Nichols, piano
Al McKibbon, bass
Art Blakey, drums

Herbie Nichols, piano
Teddy Kotick. bass
Max Roach, drums

St. Gregory of Nyssa (died c. 395 AD) Early Christian Abolitionist 1

In researching Christian abolitionism for the series the writing of St. Gregory of Nyssa keeps coming up as the earliest explicitly abolitionist writer whose work we know of today.  As he, himself, wrote that his older sister, teacher and, in many ways, his model, St. Macrina the Younger, advocated the equality of all members of their household, including the slaves, "servants" in some translations, talking her mother into "humiliating" herself by living as their equal.  From that it's likely that there was already Christian abolitionism before St. Gregory wrote his Fourth Sermon on Ecclesiastes.   In that sermon he cited a large number of textual references from scripture to back up his call for the freeing of slaves, skillfully showing that someone who tried to do what they call for could not justify keeping people in slavery.

More than one thing I've looked at noted that St. Gregory, despite him being one of the most influential of the preachers and writers of the fourth-century  didn't make much of an impression with his calls for freeing slaves and radical equality.  The hardest moral teachings of the Hebrew-Christian tradition to put into place in life haven't been the ones dealing with sex, they're the ones dealing with material gain.   Even many people who have had no problem with living within the most orthodox sexual code of conduct have had an enormously hard time giving up luxury and material excess.  But, as our founding father - slave holders show, even a totally secular declaration of equality hasn't been anything like a success in the most extreme expression of that, enslaving and totally dispossessing other people of their freedom and the product of their labor.

I am going to post parts of St. Gregory of Nyssa's sermon during this month as part of this series.  It is on a passage from Ecclesiastes, chapter 2 which is a fitting description and condemnation of Thomas Jefferson's "enlightenment" era, slave-based lifestyle.

7 I purchased male and female slaves,
and I owned slaves who were born in my house;
I also possessed more livestock—both herds and flocks—
than any of my predecessors in Jerusalem.
8 I also amassed silver and gold for myself, 
as well as valuable treasures taken from kingdoms and provinces.
I acquired male singers and female singers for myself,
and what gives a man sensual delight—a harem of beautiful concubines!
9 So I was far wealthier than all my predecessors in Jerusalem,
yet I maintained my objectivity:
10 I did not restrain myself from getting whatever I wanted;
I did not deny myself anything that would bring me pleasure.
So all my accomplishments gave me joy;
this was my reward for all my effort.
11 Yet when I reflected on everything I had accomplished
and on all the effort that I had expended to accomplish it,
I concluded: “All these achievements and possessions are ultimately profitless— like chasing the wind!
There is nothing gained from them on earth.”

If you here's a link to some  more modern translation  than the one I'll be using. I'll be quoting the one  from a website that has a lot of his writings and other materials related to him and his works.

If They're Not Taking Money From The Porn Industry To Serve Up This Crap I'll Eat My Hat Instead

Knew this was coming.

Salon-Alternet has up a story full to the brim with righteous indignation, rightfully condemning the moronic and idiotic and totally irresponsible jerk Senator Thom Tillis (R(big surprise huh?) -  NC) for advocating making the most basic of health regulations at restaurants optional and voluntary.

“I was having this discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,” Tillis said, in remarks first reported by the District Sentinel. “Let an industry or business opt out as long as they indicate through proper disclosure, through advertising, through employment, literature, whatever else. There’s this level of regulations that maybe they’re on the books, but maybe you can make a market-based decision as to whether or not they should apply to you.”

When Tillis’ interlocutor noticed a Starbucks employee coming out of the restroom and inquired whether Tillis would apply his anti-regulation stance to employee hygiene, Tillis affirmed that he would.

“I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says, ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after they use the restroom,’” he said. “The market will take care of that.

My comment at Salon (I'm banned from pointing things like this out at Alternet) was

Yeah, the guy is a total asshole and jerk and has no business holding public office, a total and absolute disgrace for promoting practices that spread disease.  

But, about that "asshole" designation.  As this story is up one of the top stories on Salon-Altnernet (where I first saw it) promotes oral to anal contact, cutting out the middle - main (pardon my French) to promote the spread of disease directly. 

t could be pointed out that that story up on its Top Stories sidebar, “Ass is the new p*ssy”: Why anilingus is on the rise  is only one of two recent stories promoting eating shit on Salon's and Alternet's top stories within a week.

I do actually believe that some of the "journalists" who are pushing this kind of porn inspired sex practice in the general public are getting paid by the porn industry for, as it were, product insertion into the "news" stream to make it more acceptable in the general public.   There have been enough of those kinds of kickbacks in "journalism" for what looks like that to become familiar.

Update:  If you're going to ridicule me for believing that "journalists" take payoffs and other things to put stuff into their "journalism" then you should ridicule that while not having had a career in the pop-music side of "journalism" which is infamous for that kind of corruption.   "Rock criticism" could serve as the quintessential example of that kind of "journalism".

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Herbie Nichols Trio - House Party Starting

This piece uses sound possibilities hardly ever if ever used by other jazz pianists.
Al McKibbon, bass
Max Roach, drums

Step Tempest 

Al McKibbon, bass
Art Blakey,  drums

Eleanor Roosevelt - Real Liberalism Not Libertarian Indifference

From time to time I've been going back to read Eleanor Roosevelt's My Day columns and have decided to post points of continuing relevancy to the world today.  It's the same reason I go and read Molly Ivins columns, they are a cure for discouragement.  This one is certainly relevant to the Republican's agitation against health care and related issues and the eternally awful and corrupt Senate, where democracy and the public good are sent to die.

AUGUST 6, 1962

NEW YORK—I don't know how some of the rest of the country may feel about the matter, but Herblock's cartoon the other day of Sen. James O. Eastland and Sen. Everett M. Dirksen, that Dixiecrat-Republican combination, reading the news of the horrible infant deformities resulting from use of untested drugs, made shivers run up and down my spine. In the waste basket behind those two prosperous, comfortable men is the Kefauver drug reform bill, which they helped to defeat in the name of free enterprise, and the caption under the cartoon has the two saying to each other: "Yeah, it's almost enough to make you want to do something."

How much longer are the people of this country going to stand for men in the Senate who act from pocket interest, not from real intelligence and study? What can the world think of a country like ours that does not control its drug industry but succumbs to the lobby of drug manufacturers? These are evil men who combine together to scratch each other's backs. When in the Southern states some of our citizens try to exercise the basic American right of registering and voting, only to have young hoodlums break up their meetings, there is no censure from these gentlemen. Yet somehow the two things—the situation in Georgia and the situation on the control of the sale of drugs -- have a connection. If you don't want your fellow citizens to have the right peacefully to protest their wrongs or to try and remedy them, what more natural than that you should be among those who consider free enterprise more sacred than human lives? I hope that all over this country there is a mounting knowledge about both situations. Believing as I do that people are basically good and sound, I cannot believe that there will not be a tremendous revulsion against those who hold the materialistic point of view of Senator Eastland and Senator Dirksen.

Religious Scientists Are The Only Ones Who Are Qualified To Report On The Relationship of Science And Religious Belief

An atheist who I respect very highly,  Richard Lewontin, is quoted near the end of that article by Thomas Lessl which I linked to last week, asserting the incompatibility of science and religion.   He is quoted as saying,

Either the world of phenomena is a consequence of the regular operation of repeatable causes and their repeatable effects, operating roughly along the lines of known physical law, or else at every instance all physical regularities may be ruptured and a totally unforeseeable set of events may occur. One must take sides on the issue of whether the sun is sure to rise tomorrow.  We cannot live simultaneously in a world of natural causation and of miracles, for if one miracle can occur, there is no limit.

In another place, his review of Carl Sagan's atheist catechism of scientism,  "A Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark",  Lewontin put the same sentiment into a wider cultural context, the culture of modern scientists, speaking for them in general and admitting that the materialism he assumes carries its own burdens as a believed in faith.

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

Which is more honest than any such statement in the faith of materialism than I've read from any other atheist-scientists and certainly more honest than the neo-atheist expression of it will ever be.   Lewontin is an honest man, if one who is limited by his own experience and expectations.   That he doesn't KNOW that his mutual exclusion is true but is merely a part of his materialist faith is something I think he realizes,  almost every other atheist I've heard on that topic is either unaware or not honest enough to admit that.   He notes that not everyone sees it their way as he continued,

The mutual exclusion of the material and the demonic has not been true of all cultures and all times. In the great Chinese epic Journey to the West, demons are an alternative form of life, responsible to certain deities, devoted to making trouble for ordinary people, but severely limited. They can be captured, imprisoned, and even killed by someone with superior magic.6 In our own intellectual history, the definitive displacement of divine powers by purely material causes has been a relatively recent changeover, and that icon of modern science, Newton, was at the cusp. It is a cliché of intellectual history that Newton attempted to accommodate God by postulating Him as the Prime Mover Who, having established the mechanical laws and set the whole universe in motion, withdrew from further intervention, leaving it to people like Newton to reveal His plan. But what we might call "Newton's Ploy" did not really get him off the hook. He understood that a defect of his system of mechanics was the lack of any equilibrating force that would return the solar system to its regular set of orbits if there were any slight perturbation. He was therefore forced, although reluctantly, to assume that God intervened from time to time to set things right again. It remained for Laplace, a century later, to produce a mechanics that predicted the stability of the planetary orbits, allowing him the hauteur of his famous reply to Napoleon. When the Emperor observed that there was, in the whole of the Mécanique Céleste, no mention of the author of the universe, he replied, "Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis." One can almost hear a stress on the "I." 

With Lewontin it's almost impossible to do him justice by quote mining the bits you need to make a point because, unlike the points in most atheist expression, his are far more informed by history and a respect for other peoples' thinking and an overriding respect for honesty,  even as he asserts what he believes is true.   I think, though, on this topic, he goes a bit out of character in presuming to identify his ideological predisposition as being a necessity, even as he notes it isn't, when it is merely the product of his experience, which he shares with other atheists.

That he attributes Newton's religious belief as he expressed it as being due to the incomplete nature of what Newton knew can be said of anything that any scientist says.   That he doesn't entertain that an atheist denying the presence of God could well be a statement of ignorance while asserting the opposite isn't too surprising considering that Lewontin is an atheist and a dedicated materialist.   But Newton's own thinking can't be held to be unimportant, naive or inconsequential because Newton is the only one who can tell us about what it was like to be the person who did what Newton did.  You can say the same thing about any other person who both produced valuable and reliable science and who was also religious and, especially, when they, themselves, said that their religious thinking was influential in producing their science.  Much as I respect Lewontin, I'm not going to grant him an expertise on the experience of those scientists greater than those scientists speaking on their own experience.   And any of those other atheist-scientists I've heard on this topic, they ain't no Lewontins.

That it is only atheists who make that claim of the mutual exclusivity between thinking as a scientist and thinking as a religious believer is not an indication that atheism or even their ideological materialism is a necessary attribute of doing science of even the highest order, it is an indication that atheists, no less than the most rigid of doctrinaire religion or political believers, refuse to take facts which don't support their felt beliefs seriously, even when their sense of honesty requires them to admit those exist.

The fact is that a scientist who produces science of the quality of Newton's or Mendel's,  Copernicus, Faraday's.... uses their one and only mind to do both. That a materialist who believes that the vastly interconnected brain could produce both and that there is not some influence of one on the other in the same brain is quite a remarkable lapse in even their own ideological thinking on the matter.

The walls imagined in the compartmentalization of Gould's "non overlapping magisteria" between science and religion are entirely imaginary and in that example, an invention to support a model of brains that suits his purpose.  Other atheists, in fact anyone who talks that way about "minds" or, in the case of most atheists today, "brains" are inventing an imaginary construct for clearly ulterior motives.   Those motives are clearly the motivation of making that model.  And, in every case when atheists do that their motives are clearly ideological, is as clear as it is not to be mentioned.   Their ideology, atheism, obviously informs their purportedly scientific model making, one which they allow to enter into science, even as it is unfounded in the actual phenomenon in real life and has no non-ideology influenced scientific publication.   Atheism is the religious faith which has, actually, been permitted to invade formal science in a way religion has not.

That the typical construct of atheists, even atheist-scientists, produces an exclusive model that is at variance of, not only the history of science but refuted by the writing of even the most eminent of scientists is obvious and a fact.  Any atheist who talks on that is unqualified by their lack of experience of religion, they are falsely making a universal claim to exclude the importance or compatibility of religious experience with science which is merely a product of their own, experience which is irrelevant to the question.   It would be like someone who is born colorblind claiming things about the experience of people who can see color that the work and testimony of color-sighted people proves is not valid and is, in fact, counterfactual.   The history of science and the reports of other scientists of their experience, makes the fact they deny, the compatibility of science and religion,  a fact in the way their merely ideological denial can't overcome.  Not if honesty is the measure.

That the religious belief of those scientists makes them qualified to speak on the relationship of science and religious belief in a way that atheists cannot be is also obvious.   Their production of science while also being religious gives them an authority that atheists can't have on that topic.  They don't have to speculate on the reality of their own experience.   That Lewontin's own profession was founded on the work of a pious priest makes his assertion first quoted above a quite profound logical disconnect, one which is not typical of his very developed thinking on the matter.  Most atheists who spout off on the topic aren't nearly as honest as he is, most are as dogmatic on the topic as are the most ignorant and dishonest of creationist is in their area of interest.   In fact, I think some creationists might be more honest about it than they are.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Herbie Nichols - The Third World

Such a great piano player, such a tragic and early loss when he died in his early 40s.

Al McKibbon , bass
Art Blakey, drums

8.96 Out of 10 Atheists Tell Me This Man Didn't Exist

Winner of the Nobel Prize, inventor of the laser and devoted United Church of Christ member Charles Hard Townes died on Tuesday, Jan. 27, in California. His contributions are being celebrated by both the religious community and science community — a fitting way to remember a man whose strong faith helped open a discussion on the similarities between religion and technology.

Townes was 99.

"Charles was one of the most pre-eminent scientists in the United Church of Christ, and was also a man who was very open about the way in which his faith and spirituality informed his scientific imagination and vision," said the Rev. John H. Thomas, former general minister and president of the UCC. "He was important in the scientific world and religious world for finding common ground and seeing their vocation together at a time when the public assumed science and faith were at odds and competing."

His death was reported by news outlets and publications throughout the United States, on the front page of the New York Times, on major TV networks and by science magazines commemorating the man who envisioned the laser, an invention with so many applications in today's world, such as price scanners, DVD players, metal cutting machines, printers and vision correction devices

OK, so I did make up that number in the title.  Sometimes while online or being exposed to the finest scientific minds at FOX or the Discovery Channel, it seems like it's closer to 9.98 out of 10 atheists.  

I think I've heard Charles Townes' name before this but I can't claim to have been familiar with him.   I do think his scientific bona fides so sort of trump an Assistant Professor at a minor branch of a Midwestern University and most of the other big names in neo-atheism who are always telling us that science and religion are incompatible.  More of which in a minute. 

In a 1966 article, mentioned in the article linked to above, "The Convergence of Science and Religion," this Nobel laureate doesn't seem to have had the same experience.   At PZ Myer's blog a number of years back he slammed another scientist, one with far higher achievements than he can lay claim to, when said that he had found his religion very helpful in his scientific work.  I asked Myers how he could know what the guy's experience and what contributed to his thinking was when he didn't have religious experiences and, in any case, was in no position to second guess another person about their experience.  I did note that the man's scientific publications and his faculty position sort of blew PZ's authority to speak universally for the experience of scientists out of the arena. Which he and, more so, his sci-ranger community weren't happy about.   I've just read part way through Charles Townes' article (at the link) though it looks like it will provide a lot of good material for thought.  

But, of course, he couldn't have existed.  How could he have?  

Another Day of Moving Snow

We have had more than four feet of snow in the past eight days, I hadn't moved all of it from the first storm that I need to so you know what I'm going to be doing today.   In my look at the the fact that the advocacy to abolish slavery grew out of an understanding of the Gospel of Jesus and The Law, especially the radical egalitarian nature of The Gospel the problem is in what not to include.

This encyclical of Pope Gregory XVIm read during the 4th Provincial Council of Baltimore, December 3, 1839, gives a brief summary of just some of that history from a Catholic perspective.  I didn't know about it until yesterday and I have to say that its being read at Baltimore in the heat of American abolitionist struggle is fascinating.  I hope to be able to research that more.  The Pope would have known that by doing that he was inserting himself in the argument on the side of the abolitionists in the United States.  Of course, according to current demand that religious thinking be kept out of public affairs among the pseudo-left, he was wrong to do that.  After many decades of buying that nonsense I'll ask where were the atheist voices against slavery at the time?   Those figures in the early United States who atheists claim as their champions mostly held slaves. 


Placed at the summit of the Apostolic power and, although lacking in merits, holding the place of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who, being made Man through utmost Charity, deigned to die for the Redemption of the World, We have judged that it belonged to Our pastoral solicitude to exert Ourselves to turn away the Faithful from the inhuman slave trade in Negroes and all other men. Assuredly, since there was spread abroad, first of all amongst the Christians, the light of the Gospel, these miserable people, who in such great numbers, and chiefly through the effects of wars, fell into very cruel slavery, experienced an alleviation of their lot. Inspired in fact by the Divine Spirit, the Apostles, it is true, exhorted the slaves themselves to obey their masters, according to the flesh, as though obeying Christ, and sincerely to accomplish the Will of God; but they ordered the masters to act well towards slaves, to give them what was just and equitable, and to abstain from menaces, knowing that the common Master both of themselves and of the slaves is in Heaven, and that with Him there is no distinction of persons.

But as the law of the Gospel universally and earnestly enjoined a sincere charity towards all, and considering that Our Lord Jesus Christ had declared that He considered as done or refused to Himself everything kind and merciful done or refused to the small and needy, it naturally follows, not only that Christians should regard as their brothers their slaves and, above all, their Christian slaves, but that they should be more inclined to set free those who merited it; which it was the custom to do chiefly upon the occasion of the Easter Feast as Gregory of Nyssa tells us. There were not lacking Christians, who, moved by an ardent charity 'cast themselves into bondage in order to redeem others,' many instances of which our predecessor, Clement I, of very holy memory, declares to have come to his knowledge. In the process of time, the fog of pagan superstition being more completely dissipated and the manners of barbarous people having been softened, thanks to Faith operating by Charity, it at last comes about that, since several centuries, there are no more slaves in the greater number of Christian nations. But - We say with profound sorrow - there were to be found afterwards among the Faithful men who, shamefully blinded by the desire of sordid gain, in lonely and distant countries, did not hesitate to reduce to slavery Indians, negroes and other wretched peoples, or else, by instituting or developing the trade in those who had been made slaves by others, to favour their unworthy practice. Certainly many Roman Pontiffs of glorious memory, Our Predecessors, did not fail, according to the duties of their charge, to blame severely this way of acting as dangerous for the spiritual welfare of those engaged in the traffic and a shame to the Christian name; they foresaw that as a result of this, the infidel peoples would be more and more strengthened in their hatred of the true Religion.

It is at these practices that are aimed the Letter Apostolic of Paul III, given on May 29, 1537, under the seal of the Fisherman, and addressed to the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo, and afterwards another Letter, more detailed, addressed by Urban VIII on April 22, 1639 to the Collector Jurium of the Apostolic Chamber of Portugal. In the latter are severely and particularly condemned those who should dare 'to reduce to slavery the Indians of the Eastern and Southern Indies,' to sell them, buy them, exchange them or give them, separate them from their wives and children, despoil them of their goods and properties, conduct or transport them into other regions, or deprive them of liberty in any way whatsoever, retain them in servitude, or lend counsel, succour, favour and co-operation to those so acting, under no matter what pretext or excuse, or who proclaim and teach that this way of acting is allowable and co-operate in any manner whatever in the practices indicated.

Benedict XIV confirmed and renewed the penalties of the Popes above mentioned in a new Apostolic Letter addressed on December 20, 1741, to the Bishops of Brazil and some other regions, in which he stimulated, to the same end, the solicitude of the Governors themselves. Another of Our Predecessors, anterior to Benedict XIV, Pius II, as during his life the power of the Portuguese was extending itself over New Guinea, sent on October 7, 1462, to a Bishop who was leaving for that country, a Letter in which he not only gives the Bishop himself the means of exercising there the sacred ministry with more fruit, but on the same occasion, addresses grave warnings with regard to Christians who should reduce neophytes to slavery.

In our time Pius VII, moved by the same religious and charitable spirit as his Predecessors, intervened zealously with those in possession of power to secure that the slave trade should at least cease amongst the Christians. The penalties imposed and the care given by Our Predecessors contributed in no small measure, with the help of God, to protect the Indians and the other people mentioned against the cruelty of the invaders or the cupidity of Christian merchants, without however carrying success to such a point that the Holy See could rejoice over the complete success of its efforts in this direction; for the slave trade, although it has diminished in more than one district, is still practiced by numerous Christians. This is why, desiring to remove such a shame from all the Christian nations, having fully reflected over the whole question and having taken the advice of many of Our Venerable Brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and walking in the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We warn and adjure earnestly in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to vex anyone, despoil him of his possessions, reduce to servitude, or lend aid and favour to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not men but rather animals, having been brought into servitude, in no matter what way, are, without any distinction, in contempt of the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and devoted sometimes to the hardest labour. Further, in the hope of gain, propositions of purchase being made to the first owners of the Blacks, dissensions and almost perpetual conflicts are aroused in these regions.

We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices abovementioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.

Contrary to the common received thinking of so many people today, The Pope couldn't enforce this as law.  Many people today figure Catholics were automatically to follow lock-step in line with what the Pope said and would be excommunicated or something if they didn't.   Of course, Catholics didn't uniformly obey this encyclical any more than they do the explicit commands of Jesus.   The "supreme power" of popes to command obedience is a near total myth and it has been except in a very, very few limited places and at a very few times.   Perhaps more about that when I get a chance to write.   

I will add that the encyclical's mention of retained habits from pagan times only gradually giving way indicates why so many practices so obviously in contradiction of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you persisted for so long.   There is no way that someone who did that could hold someone else in slavery and there is no teaching more central to The Gospel than that.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hate Mail File - Grow Up To The Level of a Two Year Old Already

When what is sold as an important voice for the left advocates that people do things that if a four year old did it you would suspect either mental deficiency or mental illness as exciting, hot and positive sex, then there is something seriously wrong with that "left".   That they want to you to do something that would reproduce what the most paleo-right-wingers would want to do with the food and water supply, getting rid of the most basic health regulations is more than a slight give-away that they're no kind of real left.  Or adults of any kind.  

As a really, really, really bad actor I once knew said when Divine did his infamous closing scene in Pink Flamingoes, "Gawd help ya if you got to eat dog poop to get famous".  I'm not going to pretend there's nothing wrong with people who advocate something I've known not to do since I was two, if not younger. 

And That John Williams Guy Wasn't Bad Either (Fixed that first link, sorry)


For Heaven's Sake

Blue Minor


Update:  This site gives some information about this John Williams and his recordings during this period.   Not the same guy who wrote the movie music. 

Update 2  His playing has a certain something to it.  He wasn't a Bud Powell but I like it.  Too bad he left the business to become a banker.

How Strange 

Bill DeArango Jazz Guitar

Here is an EP from 1954 by a guitarist I don't know, Bill DeArango.

With John Williams, piano
Teddy Kotick, bass
Art Mardigan. drums

The John Williams on the record is, I assume, not the guy who wrote all of that film music but this guy.    You can read more about DeArango and this disc at this site dedicated to him.   It's good that people like this who you might never have had the chance to come across left recordings of their music.   He was good enough to impress as much of an expert as Gunther Schuller who produced his last album in 1993.   At his GM label website it says, "DeArango is presented here as a bandleader for the first time since 1954,"  I'd guess it refers to this band.

If You Could Catch It Through Some Kind of Kinky Sex The Play Left Would Promote The Measles

As I was just perusing the leftish internet, I came across another in the long series of lunacy in which Alternet-Salon, etc are promoting eating shit, literally.

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Rise of Anilingus (But Were Afraid to Ask)  We’re entering an age of more sexual openness about butts.

I will note that I have mentioned that porn was promoting oral to anal sex in a way that I'd never seen before - eventually, as their audience is habituated to other spectacles, they will promote everything in a way to keep audience share. and Alternet is nothing if not in the business of promoting the porn industry. You'd almost figure they were getting paid to do it.

I read through the article a couple of times and don't see any mention of hepatitis, and any number of other serious infections and diseases known to be spread through ingesting feces.  In place of that, the article ends joyously,

Taken with the latest round of nods to anal play in every media form, it’s almost as if anilingus is a time-honored tradition—one whose time has merely come again.

Yeah,  I can hardly wait for those other time honored traditions from the time when drinking water was frequently infected with human feces, here's a partial list of some of the possible traditions we can look forward to (compiled from lists online).

Clostridium difficile
Typhoid fever
Vibrio parahaemolyticus

[Update:  I realized I left out a host of parasites, including worms.  I think even Alternet might think twice about getting worms making it kewl sex. ]

Having just been several places this morning where the kewl kids were, rightly, heaping condemnation on Chris Christie for making a grotesquely irresponsible pitch for the support of anti-vaxxers,  I decided to see when the last time Alternet, as well, dealt with the irresponsible parents who risk spreading infectious diseases which can injure or kill people and found that when sex wasn't in the mix, it was as recently as nine days ago

Anti-Vaxxers Ruined Disneyland: Why this Public Health Nightmare Needs to be Stopped

Well, I agree, being in favor of mandatory vaccination for all public school students.  But I also lived through watching dozens and dozens of men, women and a child die of AIDS, a disease widely spread among gay men through a far less risky form of anal sex.  But there's a big difference, the science done about that changed my thinking about anal sex in a way that it didn't for so many even gay men.   Obviously among the play left, today, science doesn't inform their thinking about this obvious vector of spreading that and many other infections because they're promoting eating shit as kewl, trendy, exciting sex.   My conclusion is that if you could spread it by some kind of kinky, transgressive sex, Alternet and the play left would be endorsing practices that were likely to spread measles, whooping cough, etc. 

I can add that just the other night my sister asked me if I ever knew what happened to one of my friends from New York City, the last of a large group of men I knew all of whom had died of AIDS, he being one of the few who lived long enough to take advantage of more recent treatment regimens.  I told her that she could find his obituary from a couple of years ago, online.  It doesn't mention what killed him, AIDS related complications.   He was the last of that circle of friends, one of several who worked in music.  All gone, most of them while they were still young.  That kind of experience, going to dozens of funerals for such people tends to make an impression on you.

An Emancipation Proclamation Three Centuries Before Lincoln's

I mentioned the other day that Nicolas Copernicus dedicated his book in which he described and argued that the earth went round the sun to Pope Paul III.  The same Pope issued one of the first condemnations of slavery in the New World and declared those enslaved were free in 1537 . In that encyclical,  Sublimus Dei, he said.

The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God's word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith.

We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it. Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.

Note that it wasn't only Christians among the Indians who were to be left to "enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property"; nor in any way enslaved,  but those "even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ".   That's about three and a quarter centuries before Abraham Lincoln issued The Emancipation Proclamation, and almost as long as he made his great declaration of a slave's right to eat the bread that SHE earned by her own labor.   That Paul III's encyclical was not nearly as effective as Lincoln's was due to the fact that The New World was remote and he didn't have the Army of the Republic to enforce it.   It shouldn't ever be forgotten that a lot of the intent of Lincoln's proclamation and related promises were also deferred by the end of Reconstruction, Jim Crow and other betrayals of the promise of emancipation.

You can profitably compare the intentions of both Paul III and Abraham Lincoln with what the atheist icon,  Thomas Huxley, said of Lincoln's emancipation in 1865.

QUASHIE'S plaintive inquiry, "Am I not a man and a brother?" seems at last to have received its final reply–the recent decision of the fierce trial by battle on the other side of the Atlantic fully concurring with that long since delivered here in a more peaceful way.

The question is settled; but even those who are most thoroughly convinced that the doom is just, must see good grounds for repudiating half the arguments which have been employed by the winning side; and for doubting whether its ultimate results will embody the hopes of the victors, though they may more than realise the fears of the vanquished. It may be quite true that some negroes are better than some white men; but no rational man, cognisant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still  less the superior, of the average white man. And, if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried on by thoughts and not by bites. The highest places in the hierarchy of civilisation will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins, though it is by no means necessary that they should be restricted to the lowest.

But whatever the position of stable equilibrium into which the laws of social gravitation may bring the negro, all responsibility for the result will henceforward lie between nature and him. The white man may wash his hands of it, and the Caucasian conscience be void of reproach for evermore. And this, if we look to the bottom of the matter, is the real justification for the abolition policy.

I will mention that Huxley put about the worst and most cynical spin on one of the most sacred of acts ever undertaken by an American president, clearly understood by Abraham Lincoln, the slaves effected by it and all of those who had worked for centuries for it as an act in accord with the law of God for the good of those who had been enslaved.   It  ranks right down there with what those who opposed it had to say for sheer repulsiveness.

It wasn't many years after that that his close and much admired scientific colleague, Ernst Haeckel,  would rank the human species according to racial inferiority and superiority and anticipate the total genocide of inferior groups by those he put over them, the Europeans as the champions.  In his History of Creation he anticipated that the people Paul III was talking about as our equals would be extinct, largely at the hands of "superior" Europeans, something which he saw as the inevitable result of natural selection, which Huxley was also clearly counting on in that passage.  And that greatest of all icons of atheists, Charles Darwin, both cited Haeckel as valid science but also enlisted Hermann Schaaffhausen in his eager anticipation of that genocide.

 At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. 'Anthropological Review,' April 1867, p. 236.), will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

I will mention that as far as I can tell from trying to research that, Schaaffhausen didn't say anything like that and Darwin was misrepresenting him to present genocide as a natural phenomenon, which was inevitable, while not mentioning who was going to be doing the killing.  Haeckel was more explicit on that count.

You can read all of those men so much admired by the antagonists of Christianity and see that I'm not misrepresenting them.   And anyone who isn't lying about it would see that Paul III and Abraham Lincoln were the figures you could derive anything you can honestly define as liberalism from.   Why that is the case can also be seen in Paul III's encyclical.  He cites the definitive difference between people as objects to be ranked according to worth of "fitness" and beings endowed by God with rights and responsibilities.

The sublime God so loved the human race that He created man in such wise that he might participate, not only in the good that other creatures enjoy, but endowed him with capacity to attain to the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good and behold it face to face; and since man, according to the testimony of the sacred scriptures, has been created to enjoy eternal life and happiness, which none may obtain save through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is necessary that he should possess the nature and faculties enabling him to receive that faith; and that whoever is thus endowed should be capable of receiving that same faith. Nor is it credible that any one should possess so little understanding as to desire the faith and yet be destitute of the most necessary faculty to enable him to receive it. Hence Christ, who is the Truth itself, that has never failed and can never fail, said to the preachers of the faith whom He chose for that office 'Go ye and teach all nations.' He said all, without exception, for all are capable of receiving the doctrines of the faith.

As those who didn't see Indians, Africans and other people as possessing the gift of equal rights proved, they felt little to no responsibility to them as people whose rights they had to respect.  Thomas Huxley gave it rather crudely - I always imagine him as being a silver tongued trash talker sounding like Christopher Hitchens, now - once relieved of their free labor, forced from them, white people were free to not worry about the welfare of former slaves and they could use their giant brains to .... well, he doesn't say it but obviously wipe them out as not useful to them.   Yet Huxley is held up as some kind of icon of liberalism while the very thing that makes liberal treatment a commandment is seen as everything that liberalism is to despise and subdue.

Update:  Answer to Hate mail - I'm not going to spend the rest of my life being silent about these things because there are a lot of people who can't distinguish between the fact of evolution and  Darwinism, which is one attempt to account for how evolution happens.  Through studying Darwinism I've become completely skeptical of the ability of human science to ever have an adequate explanation of how and why the stupendously large, long and complex phenomenon of evolution happened and presumably still happens.  That doesn't make it any less of a fact, though it is ideologically inconvenient for people who want to make ideological use of evolution.   I won't be limited by what I look at by common ignorance in the allegedly educated class who think they understand what they don't.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Jonathan Edwards - Sermon Against Slavery

Jonathan Edwards, D.D.

The Injustice and Impolicy of the Slave Trade and of the Slavery of Africans . . . A Sermon. New Haven, Connecticut: Thomas and Samuel Green, 1791.

Connecticut theologian Jonathan Edwards, born 1745, echoes Benezet's use of the Golden Rule as well as the natural rights arguments of the Revolutionary era to justify the abolition of slavery.

I was reminded a while back of the furor of the new atheists about nine years ago, when that movie about about the abolition movement in Britain pointed out the historical fact that virtually all of the abolitionists cited religion as their motivation.

Anyone who has bothered to have read any of the writings and narratives of former slaves and African-American abolitionists and those who freed themselves and others from slavery, writing about their motivations were nearly unanimous on their religious motivation and justification.  Anyone who did that essential reading on the topic could hardly have missed that aspect of their thinking.  Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman were both absolutely clear on that point, though I've noticed that in a lot of recent writing about Harriet Tubman, care is taken to imply that her religious thinking is attributable to the injury she sustained to her head when a slave owner almost killed her.  It is funny, thought, I haven't seen her thinking on any other topic related to that injury, which certainly did nothing to lessen the highest intelligence, planning, and bravery that her many successful exploits as a conductor on the underground rail road demonstrate.   No one I have read who met her had anything but the highest regard for both her intelligence and her magnificent character, see this note by Susan B. Anthony, for example.   That any thinking she did on any other topic was with the same and only head doesn't seem to impinge on that effort to discredit her religious thinking.

I was quite aware of the early Quaker and Methodist literature of abolitionism, especially that of the Quaker saint John Woolman and the early pamphlet of
Samuel Sewall, The Selling of Joseph,  so I've decided to link to a lot of these primary documents this month.  The relationship of the mass movement of abolitionism to the Second Awakening is especially interesting and something I don't know much about so I'm starting with this sermon by the (in)famous Jonathan Edwards.   Despite his modern characterization as a right-wing, fundamentalist nut case, his relationship with American liberalism is far more extensive and far more complex than the history as if written in Colorforms and play blocks which is the common received wisdom of even our educated class, today.   That so many of them are entirely misinformed about such an important part of our history is pretty disturbing.  That there has been a clear attempt to falsify that history shows how successfully propaganda can be inserted into the culture of a quasi-democratic society.