Saturday, August 31, 2019

Simps, if you're trolling for a date, no.  I know the difference between a date and the dated, you're the latter.    I'm not so desperate for a date that I'd accept. I've never been that desperate or hard up.   I find it hard to believe anyone has been that hard up but, well, BG.

In short, what Taffy Turnblad said. 

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Roger Gregg - From The River of Ghosts

From the River of Ghosts  is an intimate love letter commemorating the lives of a working family pursuing their dreams over several generations in America’s rust belt. Playwright and composer Roger Gregg weaves his signature blend of storytelling, poetry, music and song into a haunting journey that will stay with you long after the hour is past.

Roger Gregg is a playwright, musician and sound artist. He has written plays for Dublin Youth Theatre, the Gaiety School of Acting, TEAM Theatre Company, and Graffiti Theatre Company. In 1998, he founded the multi award winning Crazy Dog Audio Theatre, whose productions have twice won the American Mark Time Award for Best Audio Science Fiction Production, in 1999 and in 2000. He has created music and soundscapes for many companies including Barabbas, The Company and Graffiti Theatre Company.

Written, Composed and Performed by Roger Gregg
Sound Supervision Ruth Kennington 
Directed by Gorretti Slavin 

1st TX 11th August 2019

I felt like posting something different last week so I decided not to post this piece after I'd prepared this.  It's a kind of monologue monodrama with music.  I have had a busy week and didn't have much time to find something else.   It's not the typical kind of thing I post but it was popular on Irish national radio. 

Update:  And I have not the first clue what's up with the HTML for this post.  I'm not touching it, though.   HTML on this blog has been wacky this month.

The Sins Of The Bishops And Cardinals And Popes - Chapter Two of Why I Am Still A Christian continued

There is so much that is called Christian.  But is it all Christian just because it is called Christian?  We must face up to this question.  Even people who acknowledge that they belong to a Christian church -- such as I do, with complete conviction -- would not wish to maintain that everything connected with institutional upholders of Christianity is Christian.

Having made a general internal criticism of Christianity in this chapter, Hans Kung specifically launches an internal criticism of the Catholic tradition in terms that have shocked even some of his close colleagues, such as Karl Rahner and which his enemies in the Catholic hierarchy and in the right-wing of Catholicism have used as ammunition in a half-century of war against him and Vatican II.  

No with the best will in the world I cannot call it Christian, or possessed of genuine Christian values, when in my own church, for example, ecclesiastical authority alone is involved, instead of Jesus Christ himself, in questions which are important for millions of Catholics.  I must repeat;  With the best will in the world, I cannot think that the One to whom Christianity appeals,  Jesus of Nazareth himself, would today take up the same attitude as the Roman authorities in the questions at issue.  I cannot believe 

-  that he, who warned the Pharisees against laying intolerable burdens on people's shoulders would today declare all "artificial" contraception to be mortal sin;

- that he, who particularly invited failures to his table, would forbid all remarried divorced people ever to approach that table 

I'll point out here that in the very Gospel accounts of "the last supper" that the Catholic church and Christian churches in general hold as the institution of the sacrament of Eucharist have Jesus, himself, serving Peter who he said would deny him and Judas who he said was about to betray him to his assassins.  It is an entirely twisted theology of the Eucharist that would hold that remarriage after divorce - which in the modern context means an entirely different thing than it would have to the people Jesus said that to - is a more serious bar to Communion than far more serious sins.  Murderers, pedophile-priests, etc. are not barred from receiving Communion.  This is a scandal based in the kind of idiocy that comes with having a church ruled by unmarried men who have not, in almost any case, ever had a normal life as a father or husband.  It is based in the kind of debauched and degraded legalism of the likes of one of my favorite examples of that depravity, the Canon Lawyer,  Raymond Cardinal Burke and his co-signers of the most dubious "dubia" launched against Pope Francis when he proposed reconsideration of that ban on remarried, divorced Catholics, at least two of whom have since been implicated in the pedophile scandal.  

- That he, who was constantly accompanied by women (who provided for his keep), and whose apostles, except for Paul, were all married and remained so, would today have forbidden marriage to all ordained men and ordination to all women. 

Breaking in as these points occur to me, but it is, again an absurd scandal that because of John Paul II's massively misogynistic ban on even talking about the ordination of women - upheld by his henchman who became his successor and even, in much milder terms by good Pope Francis, merely bringing up or acknowledging the ordination of women will get you automatically kicked out of the priesthood and excommunicated whereas raping children, breaking your vow of celibacy, fathering children with multiple women (as some of John Paul II's favorites did) will, after long and tortuous and far from dependable prosecution, get you defrocked, at most, but not barred from the sacraments or even, in may cases, forbidden to perform priestly functions.   I can't help but point out that the Roman Catholic Women Priests have not generated any scandal to match the one that the all-unmarried hierarchy of the Catholic church has.  Jesus said, "by their fruit you will know them,"  I think it's anti-Christian to not take that standard taught by him seriously. 

- that he, who said "I have compassion on the crowd," would have increasingly deprived congregations of their pastors and allowed a system of pastoral care built up over a period of a thousand years to collapse. 

My mother's much loved, very large, well established and very active parish, in a church building which was paid for long before I was born and which had no mortgage, was destroyed by what is certainly if not the worst, the second worst Archbishop of Portland, Maine who is currently a Bishop in Buffalo and whose presence there is an ongoing scandal of the pedophile scandals.  The excuse was the ever dwindling, ever aging, ever dying all-unmarried, all-male priesthood, though selling the property to pay off the huge liabilities the all-unmarried, all-male priesthood had generated through the pedophile and other sexual scandals was what all of us really believed was behind it.  

Those "pastors" broke the hearts of many Catholics who were members of such closed parishes, many of whom have stopped attending mass or who go to another parish or who have started attending Protestant churches in the are.  I know of several who have gone over to the UCC and other churches in the area.

- that he,  who defended the adulteress and sinners, would pas such harsh verdicts in delicate questions requiring discriminating and critical judgement, like pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and abortion. 

I especially feel close to Kung on this point and not merely as a gay man who holds that women have the right to full ownership and control of their own bodies even when I might not like what they choose to do with them.  I don't like what gay men, sometimes, choose to do with their bodies either, BUT IT IS THEIR BODY.  I have had enormous push back when I've tried to point out the dangers of promiscuity, anal sex, unprotected sex, and other sex which increases the risk of infection and injury among gay men.  One of my earliest pieces, as I recall on the 25th anniversary of the HIV virus being discovered as the cause of AIDS, I had furious responses that claimed I couldn't be a gay man because "I never heard a gay man talk like that."  I actually wrote that down and had it posted at my desk for a few years, so I remember it verbatim.  

I am entirely in agreement that what, sometimes, makes sex an occasion of sin, of evil, being acknowledged WHILE ALSO ACKNOWLEDGING THAT SEX WITHOUT HARM TO ANYONE, WITHOUT THE PRODUCTION OF AN UNWANTED PREGNANCY, WITHOUT INFECTION OR INJURY TO BODY, WITHOUT USE, ABUSE, DEGRADATION, ENCOURAGEMENT OF SELF-LOATHING, ETC. is not a sin, it can be the most important act that people share between themselves, an occasion of love.   You have to be a really twisted person to fail to acknowledge that last one while seeing only the things I capitalized in regard to sex.  I think the all-male, all-unmarried priesthood has filled the history of Catholicism with men who are incapable of understanding sex because of that formation and that tradition. 

I will point out before continuing what Hans Kung's internal criticism of Catholicism, from the time of John Paul II's neo-integralist regime, that he, as a young Catholic theologian wrote his dissertation on the theology of the great Protestant theologian Karl Barth "Justification: The Doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic Reflection," written during Barth's life and with his written endorsement of Kung's understanding of his writing.  A number of years ago, it was one of the most astonishing things I'd read that no less an arch conservative as Pope Pius XII had called Barth the most significant theologian since Aquinas, who was, at that time, the official theologian of Roman Catholicism - the hold of Aquinas has loosened quite a lot since then.  

One of the slams his enemies use against Kung claims that he's more of a Protestant theologian than a Catholic one (his license to teach as a Roman Catholic theologian was removed under JPII and Benedict XVI) because he puts far more emphasis on the text of the New Testament than he does medieval theology.  I suspect that this will turn out to be the case that his enemies are seen as dishonest and benighted as, if I am correct, the enemies of Aquinas were held to be as his theology came to dominate in Catholicism.  The heroes of orthodoxy were, often, themselves the outsiders, those who make internal criticism are often held as infidels within the very institution they are criticizing.  But an examination of conscience, especially by those who hold power, is among the most basic and indefensible INDESPENSIBLE [damned automatic correction strikes again!] actions of monotheistic religion.   It is one of the greatest sins of those with power and authority to forego questioning themselves, their actions, their assumptions and the institution that gave them their power.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Hate Mail

What can I say, some days I feel more inspired in coming up with titles than other days. 

Boy, are you reaching for the bottom of the barrel to find stuff to throw at me

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Possibility Of Internal Criticism And Acting Better - The Nominally Christian And The Truly Christian - Continued

The future belongs to the young and so it is they in particular who must face this urgent question:  Ought we not to take more seriously again the familiar system of values which can help us determine what to do?   I am not suggesting a nostalgic retreat into the past;  but perhaps we should chart our future course with the help of a certain antique compass, which may not have outlived its usefulness after all.  A compass which -- after many other instruments have proved to have given only unreliable bearings in the tempests of modern times-- could perhaps point us to a course toward a future of greater human dignity  A compass that might reoirentate us with essential Christian values once more, and in a new way, in an era whose values have been so impoverished.  But here we have to make some distinctions. 

For now I can already hear the protest of the non-Christians.  Essential Christian values!  What is Christian supposed to mean today?  Christianity is finished.  But here I should like to explain myself to these people too, the non-Christians, the unbelievers.  Not only the unbelievers outside but the unbeliever within, in ourselves, who repeatedly raises doubts and objections, who says "I believe" but like the man in the Gospel, adds:  " Help my unbelief!"  To these people I should like to give a frank and honest answer. 

Frankly and honestly,  if many people, whether they consider themselves believers or unbelievers, in considering the possibility of essential Christian values, reject everything that has to do in any way with an authoritarian, unintelligible dogmatics or an unrealistic, narrow-minded morality, then I cannot contradict them.  If they are exasperated with the legalism and opportunism, arrogance and intolerance of so many ecclesiastical functionaries and theologians;  if they want to attack the superficial piety of the pious, the boring mediocrity of many church newspapers and magazines, and the absence of creative people in the church, I am on their side.  Nor am I by any means ignorant of the failure of Christianity in history  For I have no intention of whitewashing the history of Christianity, or glossing over its defects;  not only the persecution of our Jewish brothers and sisters, the crusades, the heretic trials, the witch burnings and the religious wars; but also the Galileo trial and the countless wrong condemnation of ideas and people - scientists, philosophers, and theologians;  and all the involvements of the church in particular systems of society, government and thought; and all its many failures in the slavery question, the war question, the women's question, the class question, and the race question; the manifold complicity of the churches with the rulers of various countries in their neglect of the despised, the downtrodden, oppressed, and exploited peoples; and religion as the opiate of the people . . . Everywhere here criticism, severe criticism is appropriate.

But I ask you;  Is all this even "Christian"?  Believers and unbelievers must affirm that it is "Christian" only in a traditional, superficial, and untrue sense.  Christendom certainly cannot shed its responsibility for what is called "Christian."  But none of this is Christian in the deeper, pure, original sense;  none of it is truly Christian.  It has nothing to do with the Christ to whose name it appeals.  In many ways it is part of what brought him to the cross.  It is in fact  pseudo-Christian or anti-Christian. 


It was a watershed moment in my writing which was noticed, the time I dropped the scare quotes around the word "science" as I wrote about eugenics.  And not only when the science in question was eugenics but in scientific justifications of racism, of sexism, class, race, gender discrimination, etc.   I also stopped using those quotes when I talked about the science of the Nazis in these and other areas and I got considerable push back when I dropped that post-WWII convention that conventionally protected science from the taint of these things which were promoted, explained, even invented through science as done by professional scientists working in even the most reputable universities and scientific organiations, laboratories, professional groups, publishers of journals from obscure (though still accepted as science) through to the ones with world wide, virtually unanimous elevation so as to comprise the pinnacle of science. 

Who, I asked, am I, or other laypersons or even other scientists to second-guess the designation of all of that putrid morass of science as being science by the scientific establishment of its time, by people who, even when you don't have to overlook their past and now discredited of, all too temporarily, embarrassing published work of the past,  who are held up as the greatest of scientists?  Eugenics and everything on that list was standard science of its time and, I have documented over and over again here, has a way of being brought back as surely as antisemitism flourished in evolutionary psychology, from there to be taken up by neo-Nazism which explains pretty much everything they claim through science, citing science which was not only accepted for publication but which led to the honoring of their authors by science. 

And what can be said about science can be said about many other academic topics, history, economics, the law, philosophy, literature, etc.  None of which ever has, to my knowledge, ever produced passages of writing such as that of Hans Kung, written above, which is not only not atypical of modern writing by theologicans and those who write on Christianity (and other religion) they start virtually as soon as the literature of religion started in the monotheistic tradition.  It was one of the most important points I've read made when Marilynne Robinson, in answer to the pop-religious writings that slam Moses, the Mosaic tradition and Judaism for the ancient wrongs as recorded in the book of Joshua, Judges, and all through the Jewish Scriptures, THE ONLY REASON WE KNOW OF THESE WRONGS TO MAKE SUCH DEBASED USE OF THEM IS BECAUSE THE WRITERS OF THE JEWISH SCRIPTURE CONFESSED AND CONDEMNED AND CRITICIZED THEIR MORAL VIOLATIONS AND SHORTCOMINGS, INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY.   

Kung was practicing one of the characteristic acts of the Jewish and, yes, later Christian religions, the confession of sin and the attempt to do better.  AND THAT IS AN INTERNAL PRACTICE OF THOSE RELIGIONS.  

It is not so with that proposed replacement for religion, science.  Scientists in trying anything like that must leave science.  There is no possibility for a truely internal moral reassessment of what scientists do as science.  If they want to make that criticism they have to borrow the moral standards of religion, yes, in the West, primarily Christianity, to come to anything like that kind of self assessment and evaluation and even more so, if they want to try to not do it again.  

And, since there is nothing of moral consideration within science, you can count on scientists, few or many, mediocre or great who will reject that kind of moral assessment because a. they don't want to do it or have it done (not least of which because it might impinge on their interests, professional or economic) b. they will get up on their high horse and do so to defend the integrity of science against the imposition of something as foreign as morality to it.  

I agree with everything Kung listed as a, sometimes, in some cases, in a few in almost all cases, catalog of sins of Christians, at times done in the name of Christianity.  I agree they are sins BECAUSE THEY VIOLATE THE CHRISTIANITY THAT TAKES THE FALL WHEN CHRISTIANS DISOBEY THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS, PAUL, MOSES, ETC.   If I were to look at that list with the standards of science, of economics, of history, of philosophy, it would be impossible to even designate any of them as being wrong.   

For bad people to even know they're being bad, sorry Steve Weinberg, but that takes religion.   That takes religion of a specific kind.  Science is incompetent to tell them that.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

"blah, blah blah, blah" - Hate Mail

That's why I have the name The Thought Criminal.  I think about things that are forbidden to be thought about.  I always do so trying to be faithful to the moral principle of equality for everyone, the very substance of The Equality Commandment,  and, as my friend RMJ put it so well, other things don't matter, People matter.  Though I'd include animals and living creatures and the world they need to live in that.  It's an irony that it was the King James translation that puts "in his favor is life"* into my mind at this point. Other translations don't put it quite that way. 

* Psalm 30:5

I'm out for the rest of the day, emergency call.

Comments On Hans Kung's Why I Am Still A Christian Continued - Chapter Two The Nominally Christian And The Truly Christian

In the degradation of discourse that came with the new atheism fad of the 00s the absurd dodge of "The True Scotsman" was given as a dishonest argument and was elevated to a kind of folk "logical fallacy" when it was, itself logically fallacious.  

One of its most popular uses was when someone, such as myself, pointed out that the evils done by those professing Christianity (or other religion) and, at times, even in the name of religion were, themselves, in opposition to the core definition of Christianity.  If you pointed that out you could count on some online dolt out of their ersatz erudition crying "No true Scotsman" as if that clinched their argument.   

I used to try to reason with such people pointing out that if someone violated the teachings of Jesus, Christ, then they could not be doing anything but violating the very definition of what Christianity has to be to be anything.  

There are categories of identity in which there are absolutely discrediting and disconfirming behaviors because the identity of someone in that category must be dependent on their conformity to the defining character of that identity. 

That you cannot be a Christian unless you believe that Jesus was a real person would be one such definitive requirement.  

You cannot be a Christian unless you accept the teachings of Jesus, especially  those moral commandments  which are reliably attributed to him as morally binding on you. 

In the case of Christianity, of being a follower of Jesus that characteristic requirement is especially evident because the Gospels have many cases in which Jesus, himself, defined that following him, of obeying his moral commandments, of putting his teachings into practice was a definitive condition for being what would come to be called "Christianity".  

That, alone, makes the "No True Scotsman" dodge as used by atheists logically and intellectually incompetent because being a "Scotsman" is not defined by adherence to a moral code or any kind of adopted code of conduct, it is a condition of biological heritage like being male or female or a member of a species or other taxonomic category of biology.  What is absurd about a "No True Scotsman" is the very claim that being a "Scotsman" is conditioned on adherence to a code of conduct when it is a biological categorization or one of legal definition of citizenship.

That the "No true Scotsman" dodge was given one of its greatest boosts in the degraded pop-culture of the new atheism fad was by a professional biologist, P.Z. Myers is evidence of the degradation of science in the post-war period. That anyone who was a self-designated champion of science and reason, no less, to make such an irrational argument into an ersatz principle of logical argument when it so obviously didn't apply as used is a rather definitive disconfirmation of their own self-identity as such a champion.  And they are legion on the internet these days. 


Here I should like to speak not only to Christians but to non-Christians also, as well as to the many people who simply doubt.  Perhaps Christians and non-Christians alike can agree initially on three important points. 

-  In the present crisis of values, most people are convinced that without the minimum degree of consensus about systems of values it is impossible for human beings to live together at all.  Without the minimum degree of consensus about received, basic norms and attitudes (and these things are certainly under serious discussion in the different political parties today), it is questionable whether even the state can function, in view of all the conflicting interests.  We can assume that there is agreement about one point at least --- that there can be no civilized society and no tate without some system of laws.  But no legal system can exist without a sense of justice.  And no sense of justice can exist without a moral sense or ethic without basic norms, attitudes and values. 

I'm breaking in to ask if this, two and a half years into Trump and the shattering of the post-war "free world" order, the dysfunctional - non-functional United States government, if this passage resonates more than it might have in 1986.

In a dictatorship, all of those go by the wayside to one extent or another as the will of gangsters rules.  I think that in the amoral order that I am beginning to suspect is, at least sometimes, a guaranteed result when secularism leads to a dereligionization of societies, as in the West, especially in the post-WWII era, you can count on that being more and more the normal thing to see.  They are, of course, the basis of all regimes of inequality in which laws apply unequally and, inevitably, to the harm of groups which are subjugated by those who have power. 

I think that will always happen when there is an absence of a sense of divinely imposed requirement to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  I think the moral consensus that Hans Kung expected when he wrote that has decayed in the areligious secularism that has gained the upper hand in dereligionized societies.  That is true even among those people whose nominal devotion to Christianity, nevertheless, was matched by a rejection of what I wish people saw as The Equality Commandment which is absolutely binding on those professing Christianity and, in fact, on everyone, equally.  I think that we are seeing in the United States that the loftiest expressions of secular "civic religion" (to use Sandra Day O'Connor's putrid slogan) is no substitute.  

As we see all over Europe, the reliance that alleged de-religionized European civilization is as unreliable a guarntee of that as it was before WWII.   If the commandments of Jesus are in imperfect grantee of peace and decency, free trade and open boundaries and man-made law are going to be even less perfect guarantors of it.

-  If (as I have suggested) it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to justify ethics purely rationally, then we cannot recklessly ignore the significance and function of the phenomenon which for thousands of years has offered the justification for an ethic  and for the basic values of men and women.  That is to say, we cannot put religion aside without accepting the consequences.  We must accept that there is no unconditionally binding obligation to perform a particular humane action without the acceptance of an unconditionally binding authority which lays that obligation on us.  There is no unconditionally binding moral, human action and no unconditionally binding ethic without religion.  And if it is not true religion which performs this function, it will be pseudo-religion or quasi-religion.  But for true religion, the sole authority which is permitted to claim absolute, unconditional obedience is nothing humanly conditioned at all;  it is the Absolute itself, to which we give the name of God. 

I think in the United States, in Britain, and elsewhere, perhaps especially in the English speaking countries, we have seen an experiment in pretending that secularism can replace religion in the role it has had, however imperfectly, in the past.  I think in every way we are seeing  the failure of that idea of putting secular law, of a vague sense of good and bad, of the idiotic idea that morality is conditioned on social consensus or the even stupider assertion that it is a product of natural selection is obvious.  

Just this morning I had to point out that an anti-religious woman, Rebecca Watson, had a practical experience of that in going up against the scientific-atheist male establishment which rejected her assertions of not only equality but to basic personal safety and integrity.   There is nothing in her scientistic atheism that can defeat the sexism of Richard Dawkins or the guy who calls himself Thunderf00t.  Not even invented schemes of natural selection which have, with absolutely nothing surprising about it, reinforced and strengthened claims of inequality as part of the natural order. 

If the atheist use of "No True Scotsman" is dishonestly irrational, attempts to tease claims of equality (or any other assertion of morality) from that engine that runs on inequality, which is natural selection, is totally dishonest and irrational.  

Even if the atheist, secularist, were to acknowledge the niceness of claims of equality there is nothing in their atheist secularism other than possibly suspecting they couldn't get away with it to inhibit their practice of inequality, there is nothing in either that could inhibit anyone who really wanted to and who figured they could get away with it from practicing anything.  The very concept of equal rights is dissolved in the general amorality of secularism.  Science has been giving excuses to such people since the time of the slave-owning champion of "equal rights" Jefferson and those like him even earlier. 

-  Whether or not we are Christians, we have to admit that the purely humane, basic norms and values of the past were always Christian in character.  And this was entirely for the benefit of human happiness and well-being.  It was the Christian mind and spirit that enshrined the values of human dignity, liberty, justice, solidarity and peace.  Without the Christian content, they would be, and are, equivocal concepts, manipulated at will in both East and West.  (It is not only the Peoples' Republics and George Orwell's 1984 which make that plain,) Moreover, whether we like it or not, the Christian message does not offer merely a theoretical band abstract answer to questions about basic norms and values.  It is a practical and concrete answer. 

I am sure that there will be a knee-jerk reaction against this passage because it could be pointed out that other religions have those values.  Though I think in the West, especially, the sense of fairness, of equality, that makes this passage seem unfairly exclusive is, in itself, the vestigial inheritance of what Habermas called the "universal ethic" of Christianity.  

I think it is fair to state that in terms of modern egalitarian democracy Kung's statement is a fact of history.  In modern politics, the milieu in which the concept of egalitarian democracy arose, it was a direct consequence of the serious and rigorous address of the teachings of Jesus, the expression of the Mosaic-Prophetic tradition by Jesus and, it has to be added, Paul, James and the others who wrote books included in the New Testament.  I am totally convinced that the egalitarian strain of American government is a direct result of the Bible commentary of Calvin as found in the Geneva Bible, the Bible which James I sought to suppress because it challenged the divine right of kings, what led to the production of the King James Version.  The Bible has always been a huge problem for those who benefit from inequality, from injustice, from the differences in wealth and destitution, freedom and slavery.   But even using the King James Version, the Black Church became, first, the primary force behind abolition and after the end of de jure slavery, the foremost engine of equality.  Even King James and the racist churches that supported slavery couldn't suppress the force of the Golden Rule and the teachings of Jesus.

There have been entire sects, denominations and movements calling themselves "Christian" which must ignore or deny teachings of Jesus in order to justify their benefiting from inequality.  Right now, in their support of Trump, white "evangelicals" are an anti-Christian heresy of that kind, turning "Christianity" into something exactly like the most putrid form of Roman paganism under the recently self-deified Trump, the kind of religion which the Gospel is set against, even to the point where it killed the Jesus they claim to worship and whose teachings they pretend to hold have the force of divine command.  Jesus, certainly, meant just those kinds of false prophets when he gave ways to discern disqualifications for being one of his followers.

I will continue with Hans Kung on the distinction between real and phony Christianity tomorrow, I won't answer the inevitable cry of "NTS", I've done that too many times already, those guys never learn a thing. 

Update:  It is snarked that one can be "culturally Scottish".  Well, I doubt that would stand the accusation of "cultural appropriation" or be widely acknowledged to be the test of "a true Scotsman".   If that's what it takes to be one, then a. it makes the designation of someone being "a true Scotsman" meaningless, b. it reinforces my observation that something which cannot be defined by biological and family inheritance, Christianity, would have to be consistent with behaviors that must be met in order to be a "true" one.   The claim that being a "Scotsman" is a matter of adhering to a set of behaviors must, also, mean that those who don't adhere to those behaviors can't be a "true" one.  While those behaviors are not set down in absolute statements in the way that the commandments of Jesus such as "The Golden Rule" the requirement to do to the least among you as you would do to God, etc.  Jesus, himself, gave absolute means of determining when someone was not being a true follower of Jesus, what came to be called a "Christian". And one of those requirements would be that the words of Jesus in such regard are absolutely definitive.  

You can count being casuistically dishonest among those definitive disqualifications, I'd think. 

It's not for me to talk on it but I think the practice of meaning both someone who is an observant follower of the Jewish religion as being Jewish but, also, that someone is Jewish if they are the children or even just remote descendants of those who did has been rather problematical in that regard.  There are Mosaic commandments that used to define who was Jewish and, in some cases those are still enforced.  I have always thought it was irrational that someone who was Jewish who converted to be a Christian or a Muslim were banished from being considered Jewish but someone who converted to atheism, even vehement anti-Jewish atheism was still to be considered Jewish. Clearly the word is used to mean both of the kinds of identities I mentioned above.  Christianity and Islam, whether you like it or not, are the two major vehicles through which any of the substance of The Law of Moses entered into general world culture.  I think in light of some of the most un-Christian of the history of nominal Christianity, Christianity is only safely seen as a branch of Hebrew religion - Muslims will have to speak for Islam.   Materialism is an absolute denial of the Hebrew tradition, the very thing which the earliest records of what became Judaism was defined through, when God told Abraham that from him God would make a great nation.  But that's not for me to have a say in, though that doesn't mean I can't think about it.  The absolute vulgar materialism of American-Brit, Las Vagas, Hollywood, etc.  pop culture is even more poisonous to it. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Under Even Our Bill of Rights Freedom Does Turn To Slavery When Morality Is Suspended

It has been the great unlearned lesson of the Trump crime-family rule that the United States Constitution, itself and certainly as interpreted by the Supreme Court is incapable of protecting us from a concerted criminal conspiracy of the kind that produced the Trump regime.  

It is as great and perhaps an even more important unlearned lesson that, once one of those is in place, the Constitutional order not only doesn't remove one, no matter how serious the crimes, the incompetence the disaster they produce, the normal Constitutional order and the habits that has built up will act to keep them in place no matter how bad it gets.  

There are no prospects of removal of Donald Trump and the huge mob of crooks, thugs and sadists he has installed, he and they are protected by the Constitution that should have removed him and, even more so that "fourth branch" the media the "free press" which is where Trump as a public figure was gestated and grown and released onto us like a pandemic.  The media, the alleged last best hope for the United States has played the greatest role in promoting not only Trump but the Republican-fascist machine that gave us not only him but before him a series of increasingly disastrous Republican, morphing into Republican fascist administrations and congresses and Supreme Courts.  

"Normal" under the regime of the Constitutional system, has had that effect here as it has in a disturbingly large number of countries which have imitated our presidential system of governance, though parliamentary government is not guaranteed to avoid it, our system - with the machinery of "balance" allegedly to prevent that in place - seems to produce it easily most of the time in the past and, now, under current tweaks in the system by the Supreme Court using the slogan of "freedom" is making it happen, certainly, most of the time. 

The political culture that is, mostly, not a product of the beleaguered, underfunded, over-mandated public school system but of TV, radio, the movies and online gossip ("social media) has been corrupted by the flourishing of lies and the lazy habits of mind that come from watching entertainment constantly.  Trump is a product of, first the "entertainment" division and its corrosion into the "news" division, as if there's really a difference after broadcaster requirements were dropped as an extension of "freedom of the press".  

The media screens have the eyes, the attention and, so, the minds of The American People, what happens, what is allowed to happen on them is what constitutes the normal habits of the American electorate.  Under such a regime of laissez-faire civics education, even the alternative to Republican-fascism will give in to what has led us here and the incompetent boobs who have enabled that.  Charles Pierce recently pointed out how Biden will probably get the Democratic nomination despite his intentions of caving in to Republican-fascists.

For all the racetrack touts and analytics, Biden has one very strong political advantage going for him. People just want things to get back to normal again. They want a president who isn’t manifestly unqualified and clearly half-mad. They want their Twitter accounts to go back to featuring dogs and cute pictures of the grandkids. They want a Congress that can work smoothly enough so that they can go back to ignoring it again. In fact, they’d like a government that can work smoothly enough so that they can go back to ignoring it again. I am not one of these people and, very likely, you’re not, either. But there are a helluva lot of them out there, and I suspect Joe Biden appeals to them more than any of his rivals do. He is a president you can forget about, at least for a moment.

I wouldn't be surprised if that disgustingly low expectation in an opposition to the neo-Nazi-Trump regime and the Republicans who will continue it now that he has shown them the road happens due to a mix of the media sandbagging the other candidates, anyone with any aspiration of changing things in the dramatic way that Barack Obama most certainly demonstrated he, as a golden boy of the normal order of things, had no intention of even trying.   I think the Obama years were the last word in why that kind of Constitutional normalcy is bound to keep us on that track to hell.  He blew his best chance, his first two years, on his endless emotional need to please the "good" Republicans.  Biden was his choice for VP, a lot of that failure was the product of the kind of "help with the Senate" that anyone with a critical eye to Biden's career there would have seen.  Obama, a conventional product of acculturation into the high end of that Constitutional order, either would not see it or chose not to.  

Trump is a product of the normal Constitutional order as certainly as the previous low point that Pierce mentions in his piece, George W. Bush.  Pierce might see that far but he, a conventional admirer of "Jimmy Madison" and a full fledged member of the media that brought us so far down this nightmare ride will not really understand its causes in "freedom" uninhibited by a requirement to tell the truth, by facing the serious need for the American electorate to get fed serious truth instead of entertaining lies.  Much as I might like and respect him, I do not buy that even Charles Pierce is more "one of these people" than he'd ever want to believe. Just about anyone who makes their living from an American media company is.  You have to be or they wouldn't publish you.  The media that Pierce works for is part of what produced this state of affairs.

I think we are at or past the point where "freedom" goes from a desirable thing for people to enjoy under a regime of equality to where freedom, itself, is overtaken by the exigencies of seriousness and morality.  Freedom exists within a fixed boundary within which it can survive, those bounds being the necessities of life and the realms within which other people and the environment and their needs must limit the freedom of individuals.  There is no limit to the seriousness of those other exigencies impinging on freedom are not important or the moral consequences of allowing freedom to overtake those.   The existence of moral absolutes are never more obvious than when those consequences show the consequences of absolute freedom outside of moral restraint such as a regime when it is asserted there is a right to lie.  

There' a reason that the 1984 Ministry of Truth slogans, War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength, seem so eerily like art becoming life.  It has, and under the American Constitution.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Goodbye Kewl Brain Truss

I could answer the boring and irrelevant crap that La Simps sends but it is boring and irrelevant.

In other trollage.   I don't think I've re-read Goodbye Columbus since . . . Oh, I'd guess 1964?  As I said, my moldy old copy is lost somewhere in the book boxes.   All of those things in the story were directly taken from my memory.  It's rather odd that the only person's name I can remember is his girlfriends'.  I do recall thinking the idea of her brother hanging his jockstrap on, if I recall, the shower handle was crude but it didn't shock me.  No one in my family would have ever done such a thing.  As I recall the narrator (whose name I don't remember at all) thought it was crude.   Remember, at the time the Broadcasters' Code and The Code were in full force.  I think, generally, the product of Hollywood and TV was better for that.   But they didn't have to be that much better to be better. 

I tried some Tom Lehrer from that era last night, I think some of Tom Paxton holds up better.   Things don't get older faster than topical material.  It's funny how The Masochism Tango that seemed so funny then as an exercise in make believe looks a lot less funny when you see the promotion of that for real online.  Or, maybe, it's still a hoot when you belong to the straight, white male class that expects to be manning the whip and blade.   Online porn ruined Tom Lehrer's sex humor for me.  

And, yes, I added that bit to get the expected Pavlovian response.  They're so predictable in their conventional outrages. 

Update:  Dopey, I've seen the gay BDSM stuff, almost inevitably when that is presented it presents gay sex in terms that assign the sadistic role to someone clearly modeled on the rough trade, macho, jock, uniformed, etc. STRAIGHT male role as found in straight porn and, really, all through popular and not so popular straight culture.  And it has long been that way.  Tom of Finland's putrid icons of fascism and gangsterism are saturated with it.  Much of it is presented in the feminization of the victim of their control and violence.  It's also one of the foremost venues of race, ethnic and class elements of power, subjugation, domination, use and destruction into it.  I don't think I ever encountered overt white-supremacy or neo-Nazism on a gay site which wasn't as I was researching violent gay porn which mimicked that gender division.   And age-size difference plays a role in all of this too.  It's no secret among gay men that a lot of "models assumed to be 18" is actually a ruse to introduce either real or simulated child rape into it.  But, then, you're the guy who excused Gore Vidal's child rape on the basis of him being a "great artist"  someone pointed out to me that even at Duncan's domain of enforced consensus some gave you push back over the idea that that makes it OK to rape children. 

Update 2:  I will suspend my resolution to never again post any of Stupy's stuff but he's denying that he defended Vidal from my point that he was, not only by report, not only by the record of his travel, but on the evidence his own admission a pedophile rapist.  He was a crappy writer for other, though not unrelated reasons, as even his own official biographer noted, he's little read, today.

I have, actually documented what Stupy said as well as the response of Duncan's dolts who gave him some mild push-back as they proved that, as typical with the Rump of the commenting community responsible adults fled from years ago, they didn't bother to read what he claimed to have been commenting on.   I wrote a post containing that link at the time entitled,

So How Many Rapes of Children Does A Famous Author Get To Commit With Impunity?

End Of Summer Fun - A Brit I Really Can Love

Every once in a while I like to totally outrage the high sense of propriety held absolutely by those bold, iconoclasts, the manly (though many of them are women) atheist materialist free-thinkers (who to a person reject the possibility of free thought), a sense of propriety they hold more closely and absolutely and with minds not only shut but locked and hermetically sealed than those of the imaginary, dime-novel, 2nd rate play-movie script stock figure bluestocking prudes the literary wing of that clique invent as foils for their equally imaginary bold, iconoclastic manly . . . . heroes.  

I know of nothing that is more useful for that than posting a talk by that gentle, highly credentialed scientist Rupert Sheldrake in which he calmly, rationally, generously, open-mindedly advocates such things as freeing science from antique materialist dogmas, advocating science as a method instead of an ideological creed.  I believe this is a recent talk he gave, though I have to say he looks a lot younger in it than some of those I've seen from recent years.  Perhaps he's discovered something about rejuvenation in his investigation of unorthodox phenomena.  I wish I looked as well. 

I have found that there were things in his book, called in the United States "Science Set Free" that I found a bit hard to take, especially around the topic so much in vogue among materialist philosophers just now, panpsychism.  He discusses that vogue among atheists in his talk as he doesn't reject the idea, he just thinks its worth thinking about, no doubt, he being an accomplished and very creative experimental designer, he'd like to figure out ways to test it with the methods of science.  

I do wonder as a result of reading a few of his books (I loved the Dog book and the one about amateurs designing experiments) what effect science has had on religion.  That has made me question how much the Catholic dogma of my youth was disfigured by the orthodoxy of Descartes and the early generation of the inventors of science.  I remember it was dogma we were taught that animals don't have souls, something which apparently was not much held before it became the widespread dogma of natural philosophy (science) which, no doubt, was as much studied and taken to heart in later generations of theologians as later science is.   Hans Kung is certainly influenced very much by the science of our time, as are virtually all of the contemporary theologians I've been reading in the last decade.  I have pointed out that St. Gregory of Nyssa and, by his account, his highly educated sister St. Macrina the Younger were well versed in the science of their time - her use of Ptolemaic cosmology in her deathbed conversation with him was quite sophisticated. 

Being a full believer in not only the consciousness of animals, even of bacteria which exhibit volition as well as a neophyte student of the Bible, it seems to me that animals are not presented in it as mindless or even soulless.  I've pointed out before that it was among the more important of recent events when I read Walter Brueggeman pointing to, as early in the Bible as Genesis, God talks of making covenant with all flesh, including animals.  That passage after the flood narrative opened my eyes to the views of animals and the natural world in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures that the Cartesianism of my Baltimore Catechism era Catholic formation blinded me to. In one of his talks or interviews Brueggemann also pointed out that the slam against the Jewish-Christian tradition in regard to environmental exploitation and despoliation was, as well, introduced, not by Genesis but by Descartes and Bacon and the other inventors of scientific method under that dualism that, now, the Christian, Rupert Sheldrake wants to correct.  That, alone, would make encouraging listening to him worthwhile.  

Sheldrake points to the rage that conventional materialist-atheist devotees of conventional scientism express when someone violates their list of prohibited ideas and, worst of all, wants to subject hypotheses about them to the methods of science.  No doubt this post will be subject to the derisive evocation of that automatic reaction among the college credentialed folk of Eschaton and elsewhere.  Which, in itself, is worth the effort of posting it.  It's fun to get them to react like the most extreme of their bluestocking stock characters, there are no more hilariously self-righteous and totally self-unaware upholders of an orthodoxy today.   And there is nothing, nothing more transgressive, as you can see all over the place, they aren't nearly as bothered by neo-Nazism and its causes than they are that someone might do something that could, possibly, imply that God is real. 

Update:  Yeah, I know by the calendar we have a month of summer to go.  It's that my last school-teacher sibling just went for the first day of his last year of teaching and one of my nieces whose diapers I changed and who I babysat starts her first day teaching at a university today - she is the only person I know who got that kind of a job right out of college, I'm proud of her.  The passage of time is heavy on my mind. 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

A Thumb Encountering A Ball-Peen Hammer Is Less Stunned Than A Pop Music Critic Playing In A Deeper End Of The Pool

The stunned one makes the rather stunningly stunned observation that religion isn't guaranteed to produce moral behavior.   He quotes the beginning of a sentence I wrote yesterday without getting to the end of it, no doubt his attention as well as his reasoning petered out as it too more than the 20 seconds a TV commercial took for the likes of him to read it. 

Education is not a cure for immorality, it, like science, like an education in the law, LIKE UNIVERSITY GRANTED CREDENTIALS,  facilitates the commission of evil, any expectation that "education is the answer" if it's a secular education or, in many cases, even if it has a component of moral theology, is a popular delusion of those with such credentials.

The typical secularist-atheist-anti-Christian slam that religion stunts critical thinking proves, if nothing else, that your typical SAAC is a boob who is about as ignorant of the literature of religion as could be, which, especially in the Bible but all through it, is largely devoted to the kind of internal self-criticism which pretty much doesn't exist in most SAAC culture.  As I pointed out, huge areas of what is called science are rank beginners in that kind of internal criticism, a point which I documented the atheist, scientist Richard Lewontin made in terms of Orthodox study houses in Brooklyn.  Perhaps the Village Idiot of Queens would like to take his advice given to Carl Sagan a quarter of a century ago and go look for himself.  Though that would be too much like work.  I would imagine their argumentation and disputatious questioning would make that sentence he couldn't navigate to the end look like the easy thing it was.  

Sometimes I tell people I don't mind doing the least I could do in helping someone.  It's a joke.  It's not a joke when an allegedly educated adult won't even do the least they could do in reading a sentence while misrepresenting what was said. Though that's endemic to American popular culture, of the kind which provided Donald Trump with a presidency.