Saturday, March 31, 2018

My Easter Evergreen - Eostre, My Ass

It comes around every year as certainly as FOX "news" pushing the "war on Christmas" nonsense, the internet babble about how the "Xians" stole Easter from those poor put upon pagans.  I'm reading it all over the place today so I'm posting this now.  Somehow the "reality community"  thinks that the English invented Easter.   The whole thing centers around the derivation of the English name "Easter" by the Anglo Saxon monk, The Venerable Bede in 725.  From The Reckoning of Time:

Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated "Paschal month", and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.

Apparently that statement is the sole reason that this modern myth arose, no other one, apparently, making that claim.  You wonder why a bunch of "Xian" haters take the word of a Catholic monk for it.   I'm no expert in the minor goddesses of Germanic paganism but the entire issue of Germanic paganism as known in the early 8th century is made moot by the fact that by that time Christians around the Mediterranean had been fighting over the right time to observe the PASCAL TIME for, oh, about 535 years and likely longer. 

 Ecclesiastical history preserves the memory of three distinct phases of the dispute regarding the proper time of observing Easter. It will add to clearness if we in the first place state what is certain regarding the date and the nature of these three categories.

First phase

The first was mainly concerned with the lawfulness of celebrating Easter on a weekday. We read in Eusebius (Church History V.23): "A question of no small importance arose at that time [i.e. the time of Pope Victor, about A.D. 190]. The dioceses of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should always be observed as the feast of the life-giving pasch [epi tes tou soteriou Pascha heortes], contending that the fast ought to end on that day, whatever day of the week it might happen to be. However it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world to end it at this point, as they observed the practice, which from Apostolic tradition has prevailed to the present time, of terminating the fast on no other day than on that of the Resurrection of our Saviour. Synods and assemblies of bishops were held on this account, and all with one consent through mutual correspondence drew up an ecclesiastical decree that the mystery of the Resurrection of the Lord should be celebrated on no other day but the Sunday and that we should observe the close of the paschal fast on that day only." These words of the Father of Church History, followed by some extracts which he makes from the controversial letters of the time, tell us almost all that we know concerning the paschal controversy in its first stage. A letter of St. Irenæus is among the extracts just referred to, and this shows that the diversity of practice regarding Easter had existed at least from the time of Pope Sixtus (c. 120). Further, Irenaeus states that St. Polycarp, who like the other Asiatics, kept Easter on the fourteenth day of the moon, whatever day of the week that might be, following therein the tradition which he claimed to have derived from St. John the Apostle, came to Rome c. 150 about this very question, but could not be persuaded by Pope Anicetus to relinquish his Quartodeciman observance. Nevertheless he was not debarred from communion with the Roman Church, and St. Irenæus, while condemning the Quartodeciman practice, nevertheless reproaches Pope Victor (c. 189-99) with having excommunicated the Asiatics too precipitately and with not having followed the moderation of his predecessors. The question thus debated was therefore primarily whether Easter was to be kept on a Sunday, or whether Christians should observe the Holy Day of the Jews, the fourteenth of Nisan, which might occur on any day of the week. Those who kept Easter with the Jews were called Quartodecimans or terountes (observants); but even in the time of Pope Victor this usage hardly extended beyond the churches of Asia Minor. After the pope's strong measures the Quartodecimans seem to have gradually dwindled away. Origen in the "Philosophumena" (VIII, xviii) seems to regard them as a mere handful of wrong-headed nonconformists.

The fact is that in the Greek language the far older name for the feast day is "Paskha" apparently from where the Latin "Pascha" comes from, all of which is taken from the Hebrew word for the Passover "Pesach",  all of which pre-date any interaction that Christians are likely to have had with Germanic rabbit worshipers by a considerable time. 

Let me take a second to point out that anyone who knows anything about the accounts of the execution and Resurrection of Jesus, would know that it was entirely, intimately and from the beginning related to THE PASSOVER, WHICH HAD ALREADY BEEN SET FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL BY THE 1ST CENTURY.

14 This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a solemn assembly, and on the seventh day a solemn assembly; no work shall be done on those days; only what everyone must eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread, for on this very day I brought your companies out of the land of Egypt: you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a perpetual ordinance.
Exodus 12:14-17

The Christian holiday has NOTHING to do with German paganism, it would be more accurate to say that pagan practices polluted the Jewish-Christian holiday.

All of the romance languages I know of derive their name for Easter from the same cognates from the Hebrew.  And even a number of  Germanic tongues, such as Danish (Påske), Swedish (Påsk), and even Icelandic (Páskar) who would seem to have missed the Eostre bandwagon. You'd think that the isolated island that preserved the Sagas and, as my old History of English teacher claimed, a closer affinity with Anglo Saxon than modern English does, would have retained it if anyone would have, but it was likely never there to start with. *

If anyone had a legitimate beef to make over the holiday, it would be the Jews and Jesus and everyone named in the accounts of the event, except a few Romans, were Jews, including Jesus. 

But what can you expect, the same people run their own ideological campaigns around Christmas, just like FOX does.

*  Update:  Other than German and English and a few modern descendants of German such as the language of the Pennsylvania Dutch, just about all of the names for Easter in most languages are, clearly, derived from the Hebrew cognate name for the the holiest day of the Christian year.  Some examples, Norwegian (Påske), Scots (Pace),  Welsh (Pasg), and,  Irish Gaelic, (Cáisc) I suspect through a p to hard c consonant shift, though I'm no Irish scholar, much to my shame.  Even the near cousins of English don't share in the "Eostre" stuff showing more affinity in their name for the day to the Hebrew, Flemmish (Poaschn),  Frisian (Peaske).

Materialism means there is no truth, you can't know truth, you cannot be free

"You are only arguing out of your own experience . . . "

It is one of the really silly pretenses of the atheist-materialist-scientistic ideology that any of us is capable of experiencing anything, having any thought of any "rearrangement of circuits" or whatever entirely imaginary pretended "scientific" model of thought of any kind that they can cook up which isn't the product of our own experience.  Every single thing we come to believe is true is a product of that experience and, get this, kids, HOW WE CHOOSE TO INTERPRET THAT BODY OF EXPERIENCES.   My conviction that what Jesus said is true is no more a product of my experience than Alex Rosenberg's,  Paul and Patricia Churchlands',  Daniel Dennett's, Jerry Coyne's, Sean Carroll's or Sam Harris's belief in their sects of scientistic atheism is a product of their experience and the choices we make of what to believe. 

I can say that my belief in God and Christianity is in no way inconsistent with the belief that what science and mathematics and history I also believe in is actually true, that any sentence I can read or articulate on those have at least the possibility of being true, any moral holding I have being valid but there is no way to hold that while holding with any species of materialism rigorously considered.  Christianity is not the only belief that is consistent with believing that our minds are capable of transcendence, having the ability to know the truth and that truth making us free, but all of those are impossible to hold while being a materialist who rigorously considers the logical consequences of materialism for human minds and thoughts and the denial of that quality of transcendence.  Materialism demands that our minds are the product of material causation and cannot be free.

Materialism means there is no truth, you can't know truth, you cannot be free and you're no more significant than any common chemical reaction anyway.   You may not have thought it through, but your materialism means that there is no transcendent qualitative difference between my beliefs about that, your beliefs about materialism and any strychnine drinking, snake-handling Pentecostalists' or, in fact, the beliefs that produce  ISIS or Al Qaeda.   There being no such thing as truth is a logical consequence of materialism, takein to its logical end, and then materialism must discount the very action of drawing logical conclusions if it is to remain self-consistent.   Religious belief isn't inconsistent with believing that logic is a means of arriving at reliable information.   Your ignorant, yahoo barroom or blog atheist might not realize that, but one like Alex Rosenberg could tell you that, even as his continued discourse proves he doesn't even believe it, himself.   Materialism leads to fascism, both what gets called fascism and the red-fascism of Marxists.

Update:  Joel Osteen has nothing to do with religion, he's in show-biz, his career is an infomercial, so he's got more in common with you than with what I'm talking about.   Actually, he's more in Duncan's line, I notice he actually has the cluelessness to whine about people who lie in the media when he allows you to comment on his blog.   Yeah, you and Osteen have something in common, I don't.

Holy Saturday Thoughts In The Decay of The Enlightenment And The Age of Putin-Trump

It takes a lot of effort for us to realize how extraordinary the accounts of the last days and hours of Jesus before his execution by Rome must have been to those who experienced it and who first heard the accounts.  Especially for those who came to believe it.   And it can be through making that effort, trying to understand how unlikely it would have been that people at that time, in that place, growing up in those related cultures to have come up with that story to have just made it up out of imagination.   The debunking fashion that would turn it into a typical pagan myth doesn't stand up very well when you start with the realization of how unlike classical myths it is and how unlike what those in the Hebrew tradition would have imagined a Messiah would be. 

Some of what we through surface familiarity with the accounts take to be details in the story are some of the most surprising features of it.  Some of them probably didn't do much to help the acceptance of what the stories claimed, they wouldn't have been an easy route to deciding to believe in them.  The utter powerlessness of Jesus in the hands of the Romans, the same man who in some of the accounts just escaped attempts to tone him to death by his fellow Jews by walking through them being powerless to escape crucifixion by the worshipers of idols is probably second only to the Resurrection in that regard.

But lots of the supporting information would have been hard for the people of that time to get past.  There is the role of Women in the accounts, especially as the first witnesses to the Resurrection - Womens' testimony was everything from devalued to discounted in the contemporary culture.  That was something so ingrained in the habits of thought of the ambient Pagan cultures that we have certainly not given it up, even today.   Neither was the fact that all of those in the earliest witnesses were from the very lowest class of society, which is where Jesus was from, as well.  The attempts to give Jesus a royal lineage was something that even the Gospel writers couldn't resist doing. 

Just about every time I get around to reading the sections of the Gospels leading up to the Crucifixion in the past two decades, I notice things about it that are surprising.   This year it was noticing that when Jesus was praying in such a state of turmoil in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he found his Apostles asleep, he woke them and told them that they should be praying, not that he should be excused from what he was about to experience, but that they would escape "being put to the test" is pretty amazing.   As is the Gospel account of him turning to the Women who are lamenting his torture and crucifixion, far from fleeing as his male followers did,  he says that they should lament for what it coming for them and their children.   This is an account of someone entirely outside of the typical transactional habits of thought that are typical of human beings, I doubt anyone but those who had similarly been converted into an inspired way of thought would have put those in a made up story. 

RMJ recently commented that one of the things he learned in seminary was that human thinking and habits hadn't changed much since the time of Abraham, something which I've only learned very recently, largely thanks to my reading of Marilynne Robinson's essays, Walter Brueggemann's writing and, of course the Scriptures that point that out.  It's certainly not something that was unknown to previous writer on the topic, just that was my route into realizing that.  In watching the spectacle of Russia and the other countries caught up in communism continue with the same habits that come from the time of the Czars and the United States still struggling with the same issues of racism and economic degradation of people that the aristocrats who wrangled a Constitution to their advantage has certainly shown me that most of our idea of progress is a PR swindle. 

The idea that we, as a society after one of the bigger PR con jobs of all time, the so-called "enlightenment" have made more than a slight amount of progress over the people the Scriptures addressed is absurd.   That "enlightenment" light is just a bit of razzle dazzle, the same science that was the alleged substance of that "light" is the same science that produced Novichok, the poison used in Putin's attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the same science that produced the nuclear weapons that hang over us all, creating a reality that the popular conception of the Revelation of John the Divine presents in allegorical terms.

I could write several paragraphs here about seeing through the traditional secular, really atheist, left and its writers and its institutions and, especially, magazines, but I've written about my disillusionment with those before, especially of them carrying water for Putin and his agents just as their previous staff carried water for Stalin's and Lenin's and Mao's.  It's all of a piece.  I don't see them as decisively different from those who carry water for our domestic billionaire oligarchs.  The Green Party would be named.

In learning to put the nonsense and believed lies of my previous adulthood behind, having seen through it, I've come to believe that in order to try to really escape those habits of thought that will always revert to that, you have to make the choice to believe more than your eyes can see.  It comes down to making a choice in what you're going to believe, in what you must though not necessarily want to believe.  It took me many years to give up the radical romanticism of my youth.  Part of that was seeing and rejecting the typical ex-communist's baby step into the far right, that took seeing that far from being polar opposites, they were never that far apart to begin with. 

The real alternative, the actual source of any progress we have and are likely to make will be the view of reality that is found in the Prophetic tradition, whether in the Jewish, Christian, Islamic or other source that demands that human beings, that life, has a higher value than economics can conceive of.  The very word "value" is a trap because what it takes to escape the evil inherent to transactional thinking can't think of people, of life in those terms.   And there is nothing in human culture but religion that has ever practiced that on the few occasions it has become effective.  There is no scientific, logical or legalistic expression of it.  It is not embodied in the Constitution of the United States, though it was briefly touched on in the beginning sentence of the Declaration of Independence, before Jefferson and Franklin et al. realized that such a view of life would jeopardize their own wealth, but they had no other language with which to assert freedom.  There is none and never will be any other way to think about it.  There is certainly no other successful articulation of equality, you have to be able to imagine God saying what Jesus said to his sleepy Apostles and the Women lamenting his crucifixion to understand how radical it really is.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Who would pay attention to that?

You never know when something you think  or hear on the radio you think is sort of trivial but will turn into a key to understanding something profound.  This passage of a conversation between Krista Tippett and the author Mary Karr turned into that kind of thing for me.

DR. KARR: What I liked about the Catholic church that I didn’t find, say, in the Protestant tradition, there’s a body on the cross.


DR. KARR: Even just being in mass that you stand up and kneel down, that you move in unison, that I know a lot of cradle Catholics complain about how sheep-like you feel, or they’re like dumb cattle or something like that, but I sort of found it — it’s like being in hip hop class. [laughs] When you move like everybody, you kind of feel like you are like them. And the idea that we’re hunks of meat incarnate — in meat, that it’s not metaphorical, the idea of Jesus and the Eucharist. It’s not a metaphor that you’re going to be renewed. It’s not a metaphor of his body or his “teaching,” quote-unquote, or his love or whatever. It’s his body. It’s so lurid.

And I remember looking at the body on the cross and saying to my son that — I don’t even remember whether I ever wrote about this or not — but I remember looking at it before we were baptized and saying, “I don’t get this whole crucifixion thing. It’s so awful. I mean, the suffering, beaten critter nailed up there is just so gross. Why don’t they just have you say the jump rope rhymes, and then you’re redeemed?” And my kid, who was young, like, maybe, I don’t know, 8 or 9 said, “Who would pay attention to that?”

The insight in that question, "Who would pay attention to that?" turned into an explanation for the Crucifixion that I can understand, more so than the Western theological doctrine of original sin atoned for through the substitution of Jesus as a sacrifice in expiation of the vast sins of humanity.  That the Crucifixion of Jesus, the Son of God or, if you can't believe that, the Son of God by adoption at his baptism,  would suffer one of the most ignominious and excruciating of deaths, not a death by natural means, but execution at the hands of the Roman state, a powerful empire,  suffer as any of us would suffer, is as radical a means of showing people that God identifies with us in a radical act of supreme sympathy and love even as we are made and live in this physical body fraught with problems and which soon must be abandoned for what we don't have any way of knowing with certainty.

I find that understandable in ways that I can't seem to find the old explanation convincing. though it might have been more understandable to someone who grew up in a culture that sacrificed animals as worship, something I don't get at all.  There is no reason that such a profound event and the accounts of it should have only one means of understanding it,  I'd think it's too important to have only one explanation.  Speaking to our condition is intrinsic to the meaning of it.  We don't all live in the same conditions.

I think it's related to the meaning of the Eucharist, in which the act of sharing bread and wine with other people is the very body and blood of Christ, who Jesus embodies in physical form in the physical world, in the physical universe.  I find it makes the agony Jesus as fully human experienced the night before his betrayal and Crucifixion understandable, that the human Jesus feared the pain of what he knew was coming, that he asked that some other way be found to do the same thing but that he was willing to suffer what other people so condemned, as so many creatures suffer without having a knowledge of why it happens the way it does.  I think the most bare humanity of Jesus is expressed in the question of why God has forsaken him, it shows that as fully human, of God made a conscious embodied mind and spirit, sharing the most tragic of human experiences, including our limited understanding and knowledge.

I also find that considering this from the point of view of the witnesses of the Crucifixion, his disciples and apostles, who show they didn't really understand things even as they witnessed wonders and miracles, even those who experienced the Transfiguration, but who couldn't comprehend how that extraordinary person, the person who had abased himself to wash their no doubt filthy feet, who had made so many shocking and disturbing statements, who had given them bread and wine and said it was his body and blood, who said he would be betrayed and denied by them, and whose faith was shattered by the ignominy of the Crucifixion - something which they had no scriptural expectation or preparation to expect.   Even the women who faithfully stayed with him, who didn't deny him or flee and by doing so might have risked being crucified or killed in the casual violence of empire, thought they were witnessing the end of Jesus.

If the Crucifixion is confusing and if it is considered a grotesque spectacle - as display executions, lynchings, beheadings, the whole range of means of executing people as part of state terror intentionally is - it is a means of demonstrating something that we would have an even harder time of understanding without it,  that God, as explained in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospel, identifies with us and cares about us in all of our abject misery and fear and ignorance and weakness.  I think that the Crucifixion was made necessary because of how hard it is for us to believe such a thing, of how hard it is for us to understand our obligation to believe we are all more than just "hunks of meat incarnate" or, in the atheist-materialist-scientistic faith, insignificant objects without minds or significance.  It's our weakness, our inability to pay attention that made and makes it necessary. 

At least that's what I think.   And in the Scriptures, that makes the next part of the narrative even more necessary.

J. S. Bach - St. Matthew Passion

Text with English translation

Christoph Prégardien, tenor
Tobias Berndt, bass
Dorothee Mields, soprano
Hana Blažíková, soprano
Damien Guillon, alto/contratenor
Robin Blaze, alto/contratenor
Colin Balzer, tenor
Hans Jörg Mammel, tenor
Matthew Brook, barítono
Stephan MacLeod, barítono
Chorus and Musicians of The Collegium Vocale Gent
Philipp Herreweghe, director

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Ben Weber - Five Pieces for Cello and Piano op. 13




Largamente misterioso,

Alla marcia

Joel Krosnick, cello
Gilbert Kalish, piano

I love Ben Weber's music.  I've wanted to post these pieces for a long time.  I think I got them in the right order. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hate Mail

Shorter Simps:  [Insert lie here].  

Shorter Atrios: "Give me money, driverless cars, curbs."

I'm gratified that I checked that out, I hadn't noticed that he's whining about getting old.  Imagine what he's going to be like the day he realizes he can't calculate himself into middle-age, anymore.  There's nothing more pathetic than a slacker trustafarian play-lefty. 

Hate Mail - Marxists Of The World Go Soak Your Heads

The only classes of people who love them some Marxism these days are

a. the remnant of the old-guard oligarchic Marxists in formerly Marxist countries who want to return to power, the ones who were left out of what we now know is the natural evolution of Marxism into mafia states,

b. numbassed Western academics, quasi-academic scribblers, alleged journalists, the stupid rump of cultists who take them seriously, who would never voluntarily live under Communism as it has really existed in the real world but who maintain a ridiculous romance over it.

c. various fringe figures on the edges of declining unions, etc. 

No one in the world believes that Marxism in any of its forms is credible.  Even those who, though not Marxists, saw some value in Marx's critique of capitalism, would seem to be a minority as even officially Communist countries, such as China, have abandoned any pretense of anything except as one-party "peoples" dictatorships while running their economies as ultra-capitalist systems on steroids. 

Any person in the United States who claims to be a member of the left who are encouraging the consideration of Marxism should be considered a tool of oligarchic fascism.   The only real danger of Marxism in the United States is the danger that it will damage the left and lead suckers on the attention and thrill seeking play-left into yet another century of futility.   That is the entire history of Marxism in the United States.   There is literally nothing they inserted themselves into which wouldn't have been better off if they had never existed. 

Marxists of the world, go soak your heads. 

Sam Seder Takes Down Loathsome Republican Rentboy Ben Shapiro

The slimy Ben Shapiro is one of the Republican liars who has gone after David Hogg in about the dumbest possible way. 

I haven't paid much attention to Little Benny since he was making a big deal over being a semi-pro virgin.  I don't know, is he still? 

From what I gather Shapiro is still someone the AmericaNazis present as an intellectual.   So, they're riding on empty in that regard.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Jimmy Carter - Faith And The Audience With James Cone

I'm grateful to RMJ for calling attention to an interview with Jimmy Carter on the radio show 1A, wonderfully lucid and clear thinking and well-spoken at 93.  It's exactly the kind of encouragement to continue on I needed right now.   

I should also call your attention to this continuation into a Q&A session held after one of the recent deliveries of The Cross and The Lynching Tree.   The first question asked how long Black People are going to have to be the teachers of White People, specifically.    His answer was until judgement day.  It's a question that Women could ask about having to teach Men, LGBT People to Straight People of any group of People about People who oppress them.   The questions in it are as extraordinary and profound as the answers. 

I'm Not Required By Any Stretch or Distortion of "Free Speech" To Publish What You Want Me To

You have the common misperception about free speech that someone is required to publish whatever someone else wants them to publish, that everyone is required to provide you with a place to say whatever you want them to.  

Well, that's not a requirement of free speech even under the misread Constitution, I'm not required to post your cruel or nasty remarks about some of the finest people before the public today.   Emma Gonzalez gave what is certainly one of the finest speeches of this century, I suspect it will be seen as one of the finest ever given by someone in the English language.  The rest of the speeches were some of the finest and most meaningful as well.  

James Cone - The Cross And The Lynching Tree

It wasn't until I started paying a lot of attention to Protestant traditions of preaching and theology that I developed any appreciation for the important art of preaching sermons, of how, like a jazz musician playing a composition, the playing of it, the performance of it, would develop as the same composition, a sermon, would be given many times and develop new and different nuances of meaning that change and build over time. 

You can hear that over the many times the great Black liberation theologian James Cone has given his powerful sermon, so obviously relevant for Holy Week leading up to Good Friday and Easter,  The Cross and the Lynching Tree.   There are a number of the delivery of the sermon given by Rev. Cone over the years, shaping the focus and developing different themes based on current events and who he's giving the sermon to, some of them focusing on different questions people have asked him about it.   Some of them are extremely uncomfortable, some of those when he has made the focus more personal, some of them when he has gone into more detail about the culturally warping terrorism that lynching was and how those subjected to that decades and centuries long terror campaign survived both physically and in their humanity.   

You seldom hear a preacher putting his own biography into the topic of his sermon when the reasons for that were as clear as in James Cone's inclusion of that in this sermon.   His witness and experience of the terror of lynching gives him the same kind of credibility to talk on this as the students who experienced the terror of gun violence have an enhanced credibility to talk on that that the Santorums and Swaggarts and other merely preachy paid pundits for the industry of death never will have.

Carry On


I've been finding these through Bridget Mary's Blog, which I've been reading every day.  To give credit where credit is more due. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Going On From The Age Of Degeneracy Secular And Religious

Before Ken Starr and the House Republicans such as Henry Hyde and Lindsay Graham, not to mention various American billionaires, multi-millionaires who financed scandal mongering and creations, the cabloids on cable, the tabloids, not to mention the venerable newspapers including the Great Grey Drab of the New York Times who flew with every lie and cooked up scandal and dragged us into the private relations of the Clinton marriage and Monica Lewinsky and introduced second-graders who might not have already heard of blow jobs, I'd have been entirely unwilling to discuss the consensual infidelities of public figures.   I figured that the only people such stuff was the business was were the adulterers and the wronged party, possibly any children of those involved and that it had no proper place in public discussion. 

But that all flew out the window when the Republicans figured such stuff was the proper concern of special councils of their appointment and liking.   Their pursuit of that made their own conduct a matter of public record, the infidelities of Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, who was selected by Republicans to replace the adulterer Gingrich, only to find Livingston also was an adulterer, before they lit on Denny Hastert who only later was revealed to be a pedophile boy molester, not to mention those Republican pillars of propriety such as Henry Hyde, who also was an adulterer and others whose sexual habits have been and have yet to be made public.  I know of one other of the House Managers of the Clinton impeachment whose sexual reputation is well known in Washington D. C. but which he has managed to keep under cover with the help of the same media who reported every false rumor in that matter.

All of this is a prelude to why I have not gone much into the revelations of Donald Trump's consensual adultery, with many women, known and unknown, going back to before he was turned into a public figure by the media, the creators of what most of those who voted for him believed him to be.   His serial assaults and reported rapes are a totally different matter, those are crimes and always should have been obviously the concern of the public as well as why he was never prosecuted for them.  The reported intimidation that Stormy Daniels revealed in her interview might have some bearing on that, Trump has hired a series of thugs, some lawyers, some former cops, who knows who else who might have done such stuff for him.  All of which should have been reported on over the decades of his celebrity and all of which should have disqualified anyone from being president of the United States.   The same is true for someone like Denny Hastert who the "family values" party put in charge of the House of Representatives for many years. 

I don't look forward to hearing any details of Trump's infidelities, any thought of Trump and sex is repellant.  I suspect that last night in the United States there was probably a significantly lower incidence of sex because thinking about Donald Trump having sex is probably productive of continence than anything else.   Eeewww!  It's enough to make you want to not do it.  Same with the idea of Henry Hyde or Denny Hastert or Lindsay Graham . . .  Yech!

I'm almost tempted to feel sorry for Melania Trump, who I can't imagine is happy about being exposed as a wronged woman, though she certainly had fair warning of what she was getting into when she married him.  And if she chooses to stay with him, maybe it doesn't bother her that much.  I don't think that the statement about the mentioning of her minor son in the scandal is legitimate, not anymore, considering the use Republicans made of the young Chelsea Clinton.   Like it or not, by sticking with Donald Trump, she is as responsible for him being relevant to the very public news about Donald Trump's adultery.   If she wanted to shield him from that attention, the time to have done that was before Trump ran for office.  It's a shame that she didn't do what she could then to prevent this.  I don't like it at all but the Republicans opened that pandora's box two decades ago with the full participation of the American free press.


Among the most important results of this is the total discrediting of the pseudo-Christian "evangelical" industry, especially the biggest names in it as seen on TV and as promoted by big money.   The Franklin Graham operation, the Falwells, etc. should never be allowed to operate as if they aren't what they always have been, religious frauds.   There are, for example, Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals who have acted in the same way and should be considered as discredited but the larger Catholic church isn't a franchise operation of that sort*.   But the high-finance TV and media based fraud that goes by the name "evangelical" is entirely discredited, its faithless faithful have been shown to be either dupes or phonies.   I noticed, beginning in the late 1970s that the American media was intent on branding Christianity as being that kind of right-wing, racist, politically Republican fraud while entirely ignoring Christians who were not an asset to the oligarchy.   Now that that kind of "christianity" has discredited itself, I think there is a lot of work to be done to evangelize such people.   And I would include many Catholics in that, those who are duped by right wingers, even some bishops and cardinals such as Raymond Burke into rejecting the papacy of  Francis.   There are certainly those who have been so duped who are scandalized by the support such frauds have given to Trump and Trumpism, not to mention the Republican Party of the Hydes, Hasterts and other sanctimonious phonies.

*  Former Irish President Mary McAleese, who has been targeted by right-wingers in the hierarchy recently said it best.

Asked why she remained Catholic, she said “I stay now because I choose. I choose to be one of 1.2 billion people spread across five continents, part of an institution that has no equal on the planet in terms of its outreach to the poor, the dispossessed, to the marginalised, part of an institution (that can be) the hands of God’s work in the world.

“No NGO does what that Catholic Church does through ordinary people They’re the people who inspire me, it’s their work that drives me on and gives me hope for the future,” she said.

There is nothing in secular life which has been created and, I have come to believe, never will be created to do that work.   If secularism was going to generate it, it would have by now.  In his more recent work Walter Brueggemann notes that to get the kind of outcome that such things depend on takes a specific kind of substrate,  a particular set of beliefs of a specific kind which will lead to such results.  Secularism doesn't have it.   He identifies it with the Jewish scriptures, including those of the New Testament.   I'm convinced that that is right, that is the reason that the history of such efforts and egalitarian democracy has developed the way it has, in the places it has, among the people it has.  It is the reason behind the history of the United States in which groups of people, largely people motivated by the social justice teachings of the scriptures and the monotheistic religions have wrested any measure of equality from the original oligarchy, slave-holder friendly Constitution.   It's not a question of whether or not human institutions and human beings are going to be exposed as imperfect, it is that it is necessary to acknowledge that we are all sinners but that there comes a point when you have to choose that enough is enough.  But some entities are even more durable than the current form of it.

The Catholic Church in its current form will not survive, former president Mary McAleese said in Rome on Thursday.

“The clericalised church will not survive and that will be good. Just how long it might take or whether I’ll be around to see, or whether my children will be still Catholics, my grandchildren, that I don’t know.

“But frankly I did my best and the people who let me down in the job that I was given, the vocation as a Catholic mother and a Catholic woman, the people who let me down are not very far from here (in the Vatican),” she said.

I think if there is a Catholic church in the future, it will be one that is much different from the one we have now,  if there is still a United States it will have to be one that is much different from what it is, today. 

Bela Bartok - Piano Concerto No 2

Idil Biret, piano
Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor

Here's my next argument.   He never played anything as well as she played this incredibly difficult concerto, something he wouldn't even touch.  And this is a live performance, no cutting and pasting, no second takes.   The conducting is on a higher level, too.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Brahms - Piano concerto n°1 op.15

Julius Katchen, piano
London Symphony Orchestra
Pierre Monteux, conductor


Here's my argument.

Supernatural Holdings of Atheist Faith

OK, start with this part of what I posted this morning: 

Eliminativists often respond to this objection by first noting that the bare thesis that there are no beliefs is not itself contradictory or conceptually incoherent.

The notion that there is or can be such a thing as a "bare thesis" of any kind, nevermind one that claims there are no beliefs is superstitious.   If there is such a thing as a "bare thesis" it must exist independent of those who articulate that thesis, it must exist, somewhere, outside of the human minds that think it, the human mouths that articulate it, the human hands who type it or write it.   And there is no evidence of any kind that such a "bare thesis" is any more than a totally human construct and that any arguments for that thesis must exist as a belief of a human mind.    The notion that such a thing as a "bare thesis" exists is superstition, the folk belief of the kind of materialism and, really, the atheism that was the motive of both the claim that there are no beliefs and for the creation of a notion of such a "bare thesis" that either is claimed to exist independent of minds or in a form that can enter into human articulation, discourse and debate. 

That is intrinsic to the notion of eliminative materialism, it is a hard logical consequence of the materialist ideology, especially when it is articulated in the form of scientism and, especially, the eliminativist faith tradition, such as it is.   The entirety of all human culture, all human thought, which includes all of science and mathematics and even logical consequence must be held to the same program of discrediting and debunkery that all other "folk beliefs" are held in, including all of morality, including all of human thought.   The absurdity of that position is self-evident, it is about the only really certain thing you can say about it.   

Rosenberg's ridiculous assertion that his book "changes circuits" replacing what he asserts is incorrect information with "correct" information is rendered absurd by his claim that his book doesn't make statements.  You can read his book without becoming convinced of his absurd ideas, you can reject them on the basis of judging his statements in the book to be false or absurd or self-contradicting, or other things, depending on the level of attention and consideration you want to give them or you can accept them on the faith you have in materialism, the emotional attachment you have to scientism and atheism.   But in order to accept them you have to do so on the basis of their status as statements having meaning. 

That anyone with a college degree, or who has succeeded in matriculating to college, or, really, being advanced to 9th grade, would accept such a notion is a better symptom of an educational system in crisis than it is an acceptance of the scientific method.  There is no science involved. 

Hate Mail - As Is Generally True The Would-be Jester of the Geritol Set At Baby Blue Doesn't Know What He's Talking About

There was massive religious participation in March For Our Lives, all kinds of denominations and traditions participated and played a role in calling out the marchers.   If they had to depend on only atheist participants, they'd never get anywhere.  There simply aren't enough.  And there are atheists who oppose gun control and are gun nuts.  Though there were certainly atheists and agnostic and pagans and myriad of other religious persuasions who were represented, as well.   I'm glad all of them did participate and hope they help bring the goal into law and into effect. 

Why would you try to gain points for your ideology over this?    How big a jerk do you have to be to be too much for the Eschatots? 

On Yesterday

It would be largely beside the point to write in praise of the teenagers who brought off the massive demonstration against gun violence yesterday.   I found it extremely painful to hear and see them, especially those who have experienced the terror and horror of gun violence because it represents the total failure of the old-new-left that was the great failure and conceited conceit of my generation.  I can't not feel the pain of guilt that we pissed away every chance to really change things in such stupid ways.   By now, if the old left and the old-new left had any prospect for working, these children should never have experienced the terror they did.   All of us who are older than they are, are guilty of that.

What does someone of my age have to tell such people as the brilliant and too wonderful to be considered merely heroic Emma Gonzalez whose six minutes of silence said more than all of the theorizing of all of the scribblers and babblers of the old-new-left combined, and meant more than all of it?   The tears that forced was worth all of the angry screaming of all the bored, affluent vandals of the old left and it has the potential to do what all of that histrionic self indulgence never could accomplish.

It came to me while thinking about it this morning that this is the first chance that a mass movement of what might be considered a left, has had to throw off the dead hand of Marxism which has damaged the left since the late 19th century.   Marxism is completely and totally discredited, as discredited as Nazism is.   If this movement can avoid being hijacked by them I think it has far more of a chance to make change than any movement since the Civil Rights movement, to which Marxism never was anything but a hindrance and a burden. 

As well I would hope they can keep their movement from being hijacked by the competing theorists who were almost as much of a damage to various movements of the so-called left in my lifetime.  Nothing but equality and what will produce a better life for all, nothing that doesn't directly enhance the chance of producing a peaceful, decent life for all is worth considering, regarding people as "the masses" as some physical phenomenon or resource has proved to produce the opposite and just about all pseudo-scientific theorizing of the kind they love at the Left Forum will produce the opposite, most likely as it is rejected by "the masses" who seem to realize that there's nothing in it for them. 

Consider what worked in the past, the efforts of the Civil Rights movement, especially of the really effective groups and individuals,  people like Diane Nash, groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and learn from what didn't only not work but which destroyed change, much of it from Marxists and their allies.  Learn from that, never look at any of it in a romantic, cinematic haze.  Don't watch the movies and TV programs, they all lied.

Your Refutations Don't Have To Depend On Self-Confirming Antecedents When What You Are Refuting Contains Its Own Self-Contradictions - Hate Mail

I recommend you read, or, in your case, try to read the article about eliminative materialism at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,  you might want to know what it is you believe you are talking about before you continue.   While you are reading the various objections raised to the absurd notion and the defenses of it, keep in mind one thing that the eliminative materialists and, to an extent, their critics, pretend, that they are talking about these things as if they weren't all happening in the minds of people. 

The answer to the objections about eliminative materialist debunking of the categories of thought, claiming that none of them have significance, truth value,  pretend that there are some ideal form of Eliminative Materialism, which isn't, in fact, the creation of some rather decadent academic scribblers who get paid to uphold the religious faith of materialism to the bitter end of its logically mandated debunking of the very human minds which invented it.

Many writers have argued that eliminative materialism is in some sense self-refuting (Baker, 1987; Boghossian, 1990, 1991; Reppert, 1992). A common way this charge is made is to insist that a capacity or activity that is somehow invoked by the eliminativist is itself something that requires the existence of beliefs. One popular candidate for this activity is the making of an assertion. The critic insists that to assert something one must believe it. Hence, for eliminative materialism to be asserted as a thesis, the eliminativist herself must believe that it is true. But if the eliminativist has such a belief, then there are beliefs and eliminativism is thereby proven false.

Eliminativists often respond to this objection by first noting that the bare thesis that there are no beliefs is not itself contradictory or conceptually incoherent. So properly understood, the complaint is not that eliminative materialism (qua-proposition) is self-refuting. Rather, it is that the eliminativist herself is doing something that disconfirms her own thesis. In the above example, the disconfirming act is the making of an assertion, as it is alleged by the critic that we must believe anything we assert with public language. However, this last claim is precisely the sort of folk-psychological assumption that the eliminative materialist is suggesting we should abandon. According to eliminative materialism, all of the various capacities that we now explain by appealing to beliefs do not actually involve beliefs at all. So the eliminativist will hold that the self-refutation critics beg the question against eliminative materialism. To run this sort of objection, the critic endorses some principle about the necessity of beliefs which itself presupposes that eliminative materialism must be false (P. S. Churchland, 1986; Cling, 1989; Devitt, 1990; Ramsey, 1991).

However, the issue of question begging is irrelevant to the claim in that it is the doctrine of eliminative materialism that contains its own refutation, it's not so much question begging as denial requiring and absurdity identifying. 

All of the preliminary supports for eliminative materialism would have to have the same degraded status that eliminativists deride all of the beliefs of human minds with.  Including their own.  That is especially true of eliminative materialists who deny that ideas are anything but the result of physical structures in our physical brains.   Under materialism, no human mind has access to anything outside of the physical structures present in our brains, under their own framing, no human being has access to some pure, disembodied thing which has any possibility of transcending the physical conditions they claim produce all of our minds, all of our ideas.   Yet they want to make an exception for the apple of their eye, whatever that is, eliminative materialism, Darwinism, multiverse conjecture, string-theory, etc.

It is the radical reductionism of materialism that carries the assumptions of it own refutation, not any kind of question begging in the content of the criticism of the idea.

That is especially true when someone like Alex Rosenberg carries on his discrediting program into biology, where he wants natural selection, the most complex of all claims within science, to have the status of law which he wants to deny to all other holdings of biologists on the basis of their complexity.  However, in his case it's even more absurde because his own claims rest on such ideas in biology as he demotes, especially in the highly dubious claims of materialist-neurobiologists which are some of the most problematic of all of them.   I'd love to see him try to wriggle out of his same program of debunkery as applied to the beliefs of neurobiologists that he likes and uses to make his claims on the basis of his own degrading of biological law.

At the center of the current minor fad of eliminative materialism are two things, the hankering of some decadent humanities profs after the status and glamor and often overblown repute of science and a more generalized conceit of scientism, that what is held to be the knowledge of science is, somenow, not as dependent on the same human mind that the eliminativists want to get by because atheists of the scientistic kind, can't use science to account for our minds.

Every aspect of science, from counting things, even the fingers of our hands as toddlers to the most rarefied of conjecture that people want to call science, even exempting it from verification in the physical universe, rests on the acceptance of beliefs.   Any claim that any aspect of science or philosophy or ideology can escape that fact merely denies that hardest of hard facts, that science, that philosophy, that scientific statements and laws and philosophical claims all rest solidly on the same bedrock of belief that only the most pudding headed of decadent university profs seem to deny even as they rest their claims on such belief. 

Eliminative materialism is the most decadent position in the history of academic claims.  It may be possible for materialists to find something as decadent, but I think eliminative materialists have achieved the ultimate level of the absolute in academic decadence.

Update:  I doubt there is a field granted the status of science by university faculties in which scientific holdings held on any particular day have a shorter shelf-life than in those dealing with the mind or minds.  As I've mentioned several times this week, the history of psychology is a history of risings and fallings of not only ideas or even schools of thought but of entire framings of thought.  Freudianism - in all its myriad of sniping, backbiting, and contradicting schools, Behaviorism, today's Evo-psy (which I think is already on the decline) and whatever, all within the relatively short history of psychology as an alleged science.

I would bet the farm that the various cog-neuro-whatever sciences they devise to get by the abject failure of the social sciences will not have much more success in generating durable scientific "fact" but will, also, consist of a line of such "fact" which will, similarly, rise and fall, though they might avoid some of the personality-centered "science" such as has characterized psychology.   Let's see if they can avoid that much of it.

But I will bet you that a lot of the stuff that the eliminativists such as the Churchlands and Rosenberg base their faith on will not endure as science any better than the psychology that previous atheists have based their denominations, sects and cults in.   What does happen to such faiths when their scientific bases dissolve from under them?   Will they become like some of the more hardened of Marxist cults, generating such angry accusations as I found you can hear from such as those who give workshops at the Left Forum?   Or maybe they'll exist like the Comtian Postivist Temples that are maintained as empty museums getting few visitors, museums to the futility of materialism which can't even sustain belief in claims made through it. 

Update 2:  If that's the end of such stuff, considering that Comtian positivism has led to the ultimate degradation of not only human beings but our minds into base insignificance, it would be fitting, if anything could be fitting.   All of his high-flown nonsense, as well as the ironic development of that in atheist neo-Humanism, just shows how they couldn't face the logical end of their ideological faith. It makes the struggle over predestination trivial or the strife over the question of evil meaningless.  Though they'll still cite the question of evil to score debate points.