Sunday, February 27, 2005

satire crucified

Veteran satirist Tom Lehrer said that the world of comedy changed in 1973 when the greatest living war criminal, Henry Kissinger, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 'At that moment, satire died. There was nothing more to say after that'.

Lehrer still stands by his comment.

There are things that oppose him on that, with the consistently brilliant The Onion heading the list.

As part of the Radio Savage Houndy Beasty team, I wrote some satirical comedy. My ability to do so in future was hobbled by the TV show Celebrity Fit Club. It was an amazing idea, much better than anything I was writing. Except it was for real.

Anne Widdecombe and some also-ran from Pop Idol whose name you can't remember were made to perform exercises by a real US Marines drill sergeant. It had that title, even though the premise was to get people who were almost but not quite celebrities, who were not fit and not in a club. Genius.

The cult of celebrity in the mass media is but a pinprick on the map compared to the sweeping plains of satirical opportunity open to those who go for Christianity.

It's such an bizarre, contradictory and blatantly ludicrous belief. As Stephen F Roberts said, 'I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other gods you will understand why I dismiss yours'.

Christianity's absurdity means it not only readily lends itself to ridicule, but the reality easily outstrips the satire.

The popular smiley-malevolent American fundamentalist brand of Christianity is especially deranged and especially well represented on the internet. My favourite bit is the belief in The Rapture.

It's a thing that happens before the second coming proper. Jesus comes in the air and takes all the 'true believers' - just those who believe in the exact brand of Christianity that proclaims the idea - pulls all their clothes off and like a holy coffee percolator physically floats them up to heaven where, as George Monbiot explains,


Not only do the worthy get to sit at the right hand of God, but they will be able to watch, from the best seats, their political and religious opponents being devoured by boils, sores, locusts and frogs, during the seven years of Tribulation which follow.

How soon is The Rapture? Click here to find out. Are you a true believer who'd like an email sent to non-believing friends after you've been divinely hoovered up in The Rapture? Then click here.

The agressively inane nonsense at God's Garden, ('the sunniest spot on the web') features 70 excruciating cheesy midi instrumentals of pop tunes, including Imagine. That would be Imagine as in 'Imagine there's no heaven, It's easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky... No religion too'. Yet it is, as far as I can ascertain, a real Christian site.

The sadly defunct site Molatar.com was also a real one, despite being the rants and ideas of a Christian werewolf. ('Certain werewolves will probably ostracize me for my middle-of-the-road views on vampires').

His explanation of God's invention of Hell seeming to contradict His supposed love for all things was dismissed with 'Mockers are more likely to regret their mistake when the feel their flesh melting from their bones.' He's got a point there.

He unsurprisingly went for that anti-abortion thing too.


If you've been raped, don't take your anger out on the baby. Thank God that you're still living after the attack. That baby didn't rape you - the rapist did. If you want revenge, pray to God for justice. You'll get results. That rapist will go to jail, where HE will be raped - and probably murdered. THAT should satisfy your need for vengeance!

At least your baby will go to Heaven. I don't know about you, though.

If you're a grandparent whose granddaughter has had an abortion and 'your heart still aches for the grandchild you'll only hold in heaven', then why not spend $25 on a Post-Abortion Grandparents' Kit from the same people who bring you the essential book A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.

See what I mean? You couldn't make this shit up could you? They're seriously saying this stuff, agreed with by the people who control the largest stockpile of armaments in history, and we're expected not to take drugs?

There's an essay debating Are cats for true Christians? Is it appropriate for a Christian to own a cat, in light of their past pagan religious affiliation and the medical information that is now coming to light?

It comes out firmly against humano-feline relations, advocating getting rid of them with Old Testament style stonings. Surely a joke, right? I can't be sure. The home page has rather a lot of other material, and most of it not at all funny or weird (except in the usual Christian way).

Mind you, magnitude is no guarantee of serious intent. An enormous amount of work clearly went into the funny not-really-Christian site The Brick Testament (illustrating Bible quotes with scenes in LEGO), and extensive archives exist at True Christian and Landover Baptist Church (and their hefty Bush Administration spoof Whitehouse.org), all of which certainly are hilarious satire.

I particularly love Do You Have Demons In Your Colon? and the bit in the Christian Kids Want To Know... section Why Did Jesus Have Long Hair Like a Homo?


Jesus had short hair, Billy-Joe... The reason you see so many pictures of Jesus with long hair is because those pictures were drawn by unsaved people. Most of them were drawn by hell-bound, pasta-slurping, Mary-worshipping, hell-bound Catholics.


Rather like the absurd American campaigns promoting sexual abstinence to teenagers, the satire is funnier but not actually any more extreme.

On that particular subject there really is a serious idea called renewed virginity for those who have already had sex.

The abstinence thing is a load of puritanical guff that wilfully ignores the facts. As, again, brother George Monbiot says;

Were we to accept the conservatives’ version, we would expect the nations in which sex education and access to contraception are most widespread to be those which suffer most from teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. The truth is the other way around.

The two western countries at the top of the disaster league, the United States and the United Kingdom, are those in which conservative campaigns are among the strongest and sex education and access to contraception are among the weakest. The United States, the UN Population Fund’s figures show, is the only rich nation stuck in the middle of the Third World block, with 53 births per 1000 teenagers – a worse record than India, the Philippines and Rwanda. The United Kingdom comes next at 20.

The nations the conservatives would place at the top of the list are clumped at the bottom. Germany and Norway produce 11 babies per 1000 teenagers, Finland eight, Sweden and Denmark seven and the Netherlands five.

The idea and its promotion are a real test for satirists. They are just as barking as anything on pisstake sites like boy-abstinence Sex Is For Fags, its sister site for girls Iron Hymen or Technical Virgin which advocates anal sex as an alternative (check out the superb TV commercials!).

Tonight Radio Savage Houndy Beasty has a one-off show on a local radio station, the fab and funky one-week-only Lifeforce FM. We've not come up with any new satirical sketches. I really can't do it any more.

But while satire may be difficult, surreal and weird shit lives on. In that spirit, I'm going to have a T-shirt printed saying Widdecombe's Star Jumps Were My Kissinger's Peace Prize.

18 comments:

scarletharlot69 said...

Great post Merrick

I must confess to be amused by the second virginity and renewed virginity message. Espeically reading on the silverringpiece website

http://www.silverringthing.com/

the bit about what do you do with the ring when you get married, answer, you present it to your partner and say "I waited" Ahem, in the case of a second virginity I waited from the time of my second virginity.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe in forgivness (especially for having a good time), second chances and all that. It's just that I find it hillarious when Fundamentalists tie themselves up in knots.

Blessed be

Bluebell

scarletharlot69 said...

hello again merrick

the brick testament is a scream! makes some interesting points....

yay!

rock on Paul (the chief of sinners 1 timothy 1:15) 1 Co 7:3 "The husband must give to his wife what she has a right to expect".blessed be

Bluebell

Poplar Reader said...

Fucking hell, this makes me unaccountably angry. I'm not sure at who, or what, just society, alienation, the world. Ah shit. Religion sucks doesn't it?

scarletharlot69 said...

> Religion sucks doesn't it?

define religion

religion should not be left to reactionaries, fundamentalists and conservatives

Jim Bliss said...

Define religion?

Well, according to my dictionary religion is:

An institutionalized system grounded in the belief and worship of a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and/or governor of the universe.

And according to that definition... I'm with 'poplar reader'; it does indeed suck.

scarletharlot69 said...

hi Jim

> Well, according to my dictionary religion is:

> An institutionalized system grounded in the belief and worship of a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and/or governor of the universe.

so buddhism is not a religion?

scarletharlot69 said...

> And according to that definition... I'm with 'poplar reader'; it does indeed suck.

care to define "institutionalised"? Or supernatural for that matter

Jim Bliss said...

Institutionalized means "to make part of a rigid structure or well-established system". This means that institutionalization is an integral part of all "sacred text religions" (whether monotheistic or not).

Supernatural means something "attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces". I do not believe that such a thing exists. All religions which involve belief in an interventionist and/or personal god or goddess also - by definition - believe in "the supernatural".

And no, Buddhism is not a religion by my definition. However it is a dogmatic body of thought and belief system that includes a number of elements which can be considered supernatural (the literal notion of "the miraculous" appears in Buddhism, for instance).

scarletharlot69 said...

hi Jim

> Institutionalized means "to make part of a rigid structure or well-established system".

this definition excludes therefore all popular religion and mysticism. Ergo, hardly a good definition of "religion". Agreed that by such a definition all religion sucks, but that is only tautologically true.......

I would be more inclined to Don Cuppit's definition, viz that religious conservatism is a contradiction in terms (from "Sea of Faith").

> This means that institutionalization is an integral part of all "sacred text religions" (whether monotheistic or not).

> Supernatural means something "attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces".

but surely natural forces are created by God? My definition of God being what governs the universe.

> I do not believe that such a thing exists.

?

> All religions which involve belief in an interventionist and/or personal god or goddess also

a Quaker and Buddhist friend said that she did not believe in a personal God.

> - by definition - believe in "the supernatural".

how could God be supernatural?

> And no, Buddhism is not a religion by my definition.

interesting. My earlier point is that we (european 21st century culture, or rather cultures) don't have a definition of religion but pretend that we do.

> However it is a dogmatic body of thought

in my experience Buddhist groups tend to be dogmatic. at first I thought this paradoxical, but here's how it seems to work in practice. Buddhist tradition seems to involve progression to enlightenment, ergo, somone more advanced to enlightenment has something to teach you ergo on earth you have a hierarchy of teachers.

Judeo Christian tradition however, woman or man should submit to God. If you accept that God speaks through the prophets, God speaks through people, which sort of implies the priesthood of all believers. ergo a theocratic community can be an egalitarian one.

> and belief system that includes a number of elements which can be considered supernatural (the literal notion of "the miraculous" appears in Buddhism, for instance).

reject "the miraculous" and have you not bought into a superstition called "scientific"? as you are implying that we now have the truth complete, rather than, that the truth will reach us?

blessed be

Bluebell E.

scarletharlot69 said...

hi Jim

once again, thanks for your comment

> > This means that institutionalization is an integral part of all "sacred text religions" (whether monotheistic or not).

isn't institutionalisation an integral tendency in all human activity? Have you read "Lila" by Robert M Pirsig?

Institutions and structures do not community, or indeed religion make. neccessary though they are.

Blessed be

Bluebell E.

leesun said...

Merric said, "Christianity's absurdity means it not only readily lends itself to ridicule, but the reality easily outstrips the satire."Substitute "people's" for "christianity's" and I think you'll have a truth there (albeit with poor grammar).

Jim Bliss said...

>
> this definition excludes therefore
> all popular religion and mysticism
>
Ummm... no. It specifically includes it. If by popularity you mean the 80% of the world's population who believe in "sacred text" philosophies (christianity, islam, hinduism, judaism, buddhism, traditional Chinese, etc.) Through being set in unchanging words - these faiths are by definition institutionalized. Do read the definition again.

14% consider themselves non-religious by the way. 4% are African animist. Which means all the rest fit into 2%. Considering that many of them are pretty damn dogmatic, it doesn't leave much room for 'popularity'.

>
> but surely natural forces are
> created by God? My definition
> of God being what governs the
> universe.
>
1. Why surely?

2. We're not debating "God". We're discussing religion.

>
> a Quaker and Buddhist friend said
> that she did not believe in a
> personal God.
>
I started the previous sentence with "All religions which involve belief in..." That is not an assertion that all religions do involve such a belief. So the whether or not Quakers or Buddhists do is somewhat moot.

>
> how could God be supernatural?
>
I have no idea! The idea makes no sense to me. That's precisely my point... the fact that most religions include within them a belief in a supernatural God (i.e. a God that can ignore the laws of nature and cause the miraculous to occur) is one of my objections to religion. Are you claiming that Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism do not believe in supernatural Gods?

And if your belief system does not include the notion of the supernatural, or the notion of a personal/interventionist God, or subscribe to an unchanging dogma... then it's probably no more than rationalism dressed in a little poetry. Which isn't religion.

>
> in my experience Buddhist groups
> tend to be dogmatic.
>
With due respect, "dogmatic" means something specific. And Buddhist groups are dogmatic (it's not a tendency). They adhere to a particular traditional system which cannot be changed by modern day adherents (without creating 'schism' and a whole new religion or sect). That is what dogmatic means.

>
> Judeo Christian tradition however,
> woman or man should submit to God.
>
Explain in a little detail how one goes about doing that. And more importantly, explain where you got those details?

>
> If you accept that God speaks
> through the prophets,
>
I don't know what this means. Who is this God person? And how do I know it's him speaking through the prophet and not just the prophet making shit up?

You see... here's the crux of it Bluebell. I understand exactly what God means to me. I recognise The Divine when it speaks to me. And I've read the bible. Several times in fact.

God isn't in it.

Jesus says some very groovy stuff. And it's one of the first places that kind of humanist, egalitarian philosophy is recorded in writing (which makes it doubly groovy). But Christianity - the religion - is entirely Paul's doing. And all the Old Testament guff? It's easily one of the least egalitarian philosophies I've ever read!

So your statement that:
>
> ergo a theocratic community can
> be an egalitarian one.
>
really shouldn't have the 'ergo' in front of it. Your statement boils down to: "because the Judeo-Christian God speaks through the prophets; therefore a theocratic community can be an egalitarian one".

And I can't make head nor tail of that. The "Judeo-Christian tradition" that you talk about is based entirely upon a bunch of books written by society's outcasts 2,000 years ago. It's a few crazy desert nomads making shit up to explain the stuff going on in their heads. Reading Ezekiel is like listening to the bloke on Special Brew outside Camden Station. It's that mad.

So when I say that religion sucks, that's what I mean. And I don't think you're going to get me to accept the idea that religion is nothing like that at all. That actually, despite being raised a catholic and studying theology and attending services in pretty much every denomination you can name (including a few that you have to get special invites to), that the "Judeo-Christian tradition" is really all about egalitarianism.

Maybe that's your personal interpretation of a few passages of the bible. But that's really not what anyone, other than you, means when they use the word religion.

I understand the desire to reclaim words of power. I myself use "God" a lot when I know that most people who hear it may well misinterpret it. I look forward to the day when there are fewer who do.

But you're not reclaiming a word. Religion has always been the institution. "God", the word, emerged from the experience. "Religion" is that which coalesced around it; the institutionalizing of, and attempt to exert control over, that experience.

Also, I'm not sure I get your point about the institutions being integral in all human activity. It isn't. Except in the most abstract of senses. And quite aside from that; I never claimed to be arguing against all institutions. There are some areas of life which require them. I don't want London's healthcare handled by a bunch of individuals (however well qualified they are). I want an institutional approach so that there's a system in place to ensure that the nurse puts the right amount of drugs into the I.V.

That doesn't mean that I want an institutional approach to God as well! How does that follow?

Also, when you describe "scientific" as a superstition it raises questions. What do you mean by that?

merrick said...

Wahey! My blog's getting some good debate going on it! Go Jim & Bluebell!

Regarding Leesun's comment, yes there certainly are absurdities in many peoples behaviours. I'm not really sure what point you're making there.

However, there are clearly deeds done by people that are not absurd, and many people who cannot be called absurd. Your phrasing is so vague and/or your point so unspecific that there's no real meaning to be had.

Christianity, however, is absurd. No qualifications or exceptions.

Catholics genuinely beleive that a little wafer physically and literally turns into the flesh of Jesus once consumed. Furthermore, that same wafer wouldn't transmogrify if it hadn't been blessed and fed to the eater by a priest.

This is completely nuts.

The whole mindset is so humanocentric, pompously and arrogantly regarding humans as the last word in all of existance, that it is simply laughable.

My favourite piece of anti-logic, for which 'absurd' is the best word I can think of, is the belief that a literal eternity of pain and torment is the punishment for those who question God's infinite love.

scarletharlot69 said...

hi Jim

> > this definition excludes therefore
> > all popular religion and mysticism

> Ummm... no.

surely yes?

> It specifically includes it.

you don't seem to have grasped the distinction between popular and institutional/state religion.

> If by popularity you mean

I mean "of the people" as opposed to "of the state"

> the 80% of the world's population who believe in "sacred text" philosophies (christianity, islam, hinduism, judaism, buddhism, traditional Chinese, etc.)

think you need to define "sacred text" and within "sacred text "philosophies" you will find very different views of and usages of sacred texts. While say, the bible is probably accepted as the book of the church within christianity, not every christian believes everything they read in Jack Chick comics.......

again, within Buddhism, while "sacred texts" are hardly dismissed, it is stressed within Zen buddhism that enlightenment cannot be transmitted through scripture alone, but through a human teacher. Funnily enough there are said to be more books on Zen than any other form of Buddhism, how paradoxical lmao!

And how do you get to 80%? The Church of Rome claims over a billion members, that is every confirmed Roman Catholic who has not been excommunicated (did they ever excommunicate Adolf Hitler?). Membership in such circumstances hardly is a measure of adherance.

> Through being set in unchanging words - these faiths are by definition institutionalized.

Lionel Blue once quipped that the big divide in religion was not between faith traditions but between high church and low church. There is I think some truth here, an orthodox "frum" jew having much in common with a traditionalist catholic. And would you believe it but 10% of orthodox jews marry Catholics.

Likewise, I was at one Quaker wedding and I asked one woman I was dancing with was she a Quaker, no she was Jewish. Indeed, on the saturday morning before another Quaker wedding a contingent went to synagogue.

Again, the split between institutional religion is mainly within the great faith traditions.

> Do read the definition again.

will do

> Considering that many of them are pretty damn dogmatic, it doesn't leave much room for 'popularity'.

you seem to be keen to ignore popular religion entirely.

> > but surely natural forces are
> > created by God? My definition
> > of God being what governs the
> > universe.

> 1. Why surely?

it is tautologically true. merely tautolocically true if you wish.

> 2. We're not debating "God". We're discussing religion.

and you defined religion as:-

> > > An institutionalized system grounded in the belief and worship of a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and/or governor of the universe.

so we are discussing the creator and/or governor of the universe, ie God

> > a Quaker and Buddhist friend said
> > that she did not believe in a
> > personal God.

> I started the previous sentence with "All religions which involve belief in..." That is not an assertion that all religions do involve such a belief. So the whether or not Quakers or Buddhists do is somewhat moot.

ok Jim. There is, in my experience to date, a supreme govenor of the universe. Not sure I "believe" in the supernatural

> > how could God be supernatural?

> I have no idea! The idea makes no sense to me. That's precisely my point... the fact that most religions include within them a belief in a supernatural God (i.e. a God that can ignore the laws of nature and cause the miraculous to occur) is one of my objections to religion. Are you claiming that Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism do not believe in supernatural Gods?

I don't believe in a supernatural God. I was saying that there is one creator and sustainer of all the universe.

> And if your belief system does not include the notion of the supernatural, or the notion of a personal/interventionist God, or subscribe to an unchanging dogma... then it's probably no more than rationalism dressed in a little poetry. Which isn't religion.

I am a rationalist and a member or a religious society. No problem

> > in my experience Buddhist groups
> > tend to be dogmatic.

> With due respect, "dogmatic" means something specific.

fair point, I was perhaps using "dogmatic" too colloquially. Care to set me right?

> And Buddhist groups are dogmatic (it's not a tendency). They adhere to a particular traditional system which cannot be changed by modern day adherents (without creating 'schism' and a whole new religion or sect). That is what dogmatic means.

don't even the most "traditionalist" of traditions actually evolve in practice?

as "Advices and Queries" puts it, are you open to new light from whatever source it may come?

> > Judeo Christian tradition however,
> > woman or man should submit to God.

> Explain in a little detail how one goes about doing that. And more importantly, explain where you got those details?

I was probably thinking of Thomas Kelly's "Testament of Devotion" which I don't have to hand. Somewhere on the Quaker tapestry is the words of George Fox "turn from the darkness into the light"

> > If you accept that God speaks
> > through the prophets,

> I don't know what this means. Who is this God person?

the question has been asked before LOL! (Exodus 5:2)

seriously, isn't this a question that even a Great Prophet should ask? after all, Moses asked that question.

If you expect the answer in a fax from God, you might be none the wiser....

> And how do I know it's him speaking through the prophet and not just the prophet making shit up?

I am, likesay, a member of a Religious Society with a historic hostility to creeds and seeing Religion as being about beliefs, rather than how we live our lived.

I do believe that the light of God shines deep within each person who comes into the world (difficult, even impossible though it may be to see in some people).

I do in my current condition believe that the promptings of love and truth in my heart to be the leadings of God. They, and any other leadings should be tested against those of other Godly people, in particular those of my spiritual community (sore point that amongst Liberal Quakers there seems to be a notion of spirituality without community, and community is frankly rare in Britain Yearly Meeting)

> You see... here's the crux of it Bluebell. I understand exactly what God means to me. I recognise The Divine when it speaks to me.

kool!

> And I've read the bible. Several times in fact.

you are probably a better bible scholar than I am. I have met a couple of athiest friends who I will concede have read the bible more systamatically than me.

> God isn't in it.

pml! wot, God not in the Bible? God does get more than a peripheral and walk in part in the Bible......

> Jesus says some very groovy stuff. And it's one of the first places that kind of humanist, egalitarian philosophy is recorded in writing (which makes it doubly groovy). But Christianity - the religion - is entirely Paul's doing.

I think it more complex than that. Superficially a case can be made that Paul argues for a spirit led, as opposed to "sacred text" religion than Jesus of N.

> And all the Old Testament guff?

how can you dismiss the Hebrew Scriptures like that?

> It's easily one of the least egalitarian philosophies I've ever read!

again. how did "Isreal" come into existance. 2 theories

1. just as in Joshua mainly, hordes of hebrews entered the promised land and "ethnically cleansed it"

2. that a more slow infusion happened, supported by the deautronomic history, which contradicts Joshua in part.

3. a theory that I feel deserves more consideration than it gets, viz Mendnenhal that Isreal is founded on a peasant's revolt catalysed by a small incomming group from Egypt. Hierarchical city state society called Canaan becomes an egalitarian theocratic community called Isreal.

so rather than Isreal's prophetic tradition starting out of nowhere, it starts with a sense that in the past Isreal was a covenantal community which has corrupted and decayed into a monarchical society "like other nations". Somehow I think this makes sense.

> So your statement that:
>
> > ergo a theocratic community can
> > be an egalitarian one.

> really shouldn't have the 'ergo' in front of it.

perhaps I was being a touch rhetorical. I don't believe that God recognises human Heirarchy.

> Your statement boils down to: "because the Judeo-Christian God speaks through the prophets; therefore a theocratic community can be an egalitarian one".

I probably didn't explain myself well enough. My point is that get rid of priestcraft, abolish the clergy/laity distinction and where does that leave human heirarchy?

> And I can't make head nor tail of that. The "Judeo-Christian tradition" that you talk about is based entirely upon a bunch of books written by society's outcasts 2,000 years ago.

are you trying to say that because it was written by societies outcasts it is therefore invalid?

"[We] were reckoned, in the north part of England, even as the out casts of Israel, and as men destitute of the great knowledge, which some seemed to enjoy; yet there was more sincerity and true love amongst us and desires after the living powerful presence of God than was among many in that day who ran into heaps and forms but left the cross behind them. God out of his everlasting love did appear unto us, " Francis Howgil Quaker Faith and Practice 19:08or as Paul Simon put it, "And the words of the Prophets are written on the subway walls, and in tenement halls"

> It's a few crazy desert nomads making shit up to explain the stuff going on in their heads. Reading Ezekiel is like listening to the bloke on Special Brew outside Camden Station. It's that mad.

Ezekial is an exhile, in a foriegn land, his country has disappeared off the map. He has not the full rights of citizenship. The Babylonian exiles are in many ways like those of Palestinians today, they are second class citizens in their own land or in diaspora.....

If any of todays "outcasts of isreal" come accross as a bit eccentric, does this invalidate their testimony?

And while I would not like to go along with a lot of the extremes of Soren Kirkgaard, something is with me in deriding the church of denmark of his day for peddling borgeoise bollox, and lemonade spirituality when it should have been serving whisky spirituality. Religion does indeed suck if it is less than 9%!

> So when I say that religion sucks, that's what I mean. And I don't think you're going to get me to accept the idea that religion is nothing like that at all.

I was not trying to heal, convert or teach. Such attempts would have been misguided.

> That actually, despite being raised a catholic and studying theology and attending services in pretty much every denomination you can name (including a few that you have to get special invites to), that the "Judeo-Christian tradition" is really all about egalitarianism.

well, as one woman from a catholic background put it, if you want to get the largest gap between values and practice the Roman Catholic church probably wins.

I think your catholic background is clouding your vision here.

> Maybe that's your personal interpretation of a few passages of the bible.

more than a few I think. And with a sense of the Bible as a whole.....

> But that's really not what anyone, other than you, means when they use the word religion.

but people do not have consistant definitions of religion, hence the language games.....

> I understand the desire to reclaim words of power. I myself use "God" a lot when I know that most people who hear it may well misinterpret it. I look forward to the day when there are fewer who do.

> But you're not reclaiming a word. Religion has always been the institution.

I still disagree. Popular religion is by definition against the institution. To take one example the various forms of Anabaptism start as a reaction to the notion of a state church.

> Also, I'm not sure I get your point about the institutions being integral in all human activity.

read "Lila" then. While I have much respect for people who reject all institutions......... face it that the NHS for example is an institution.

and then of course there was the chap from whiteway, who refused to buy a stamp because the Republican Mail is an arm of the state, and as a strict pacifist stuck to his principals, hand delivered a letter in the dead of winter and nearly froze to death.

> It isn't. Except in the most abstract of senses. And quite aside from that; I never claimed to be arguing against all institutions. There are some areas of life which require them. I don't want London's healthcare handled by a bunch of individuals (however well qualified they are). I want an institutional approach so that there's a system in place to ensure that the nurse puts the right amount of drugs into the I.V.

yup!

> That doesn't mean that I want an institutional approach to God as well! How does that follow?

while institutions do not community make, care to point to a long term community entirely devoid of structure?

Again, it is a function of time. For a community to continue over time, some static latch (Pirsig's term) might be useful or even essential.

> Also, when you describe "scientific" as a superstition it raises questions. What do you mean by that?

that superstition can be sold as "scientific"

love and liberation

Bluebell

scarletharlot69 said...

Hi Merrick

> Wahey! My blog's getting some good debate going on it!

glad you like it :)

> Go Jim & Bluebell!

have just word counted my last comment, (which I was writing as Merrick posted his comment). Methinks it is time I did something more useful.

sorry, but I do go nuts when people argue for "abolishing religion" almost invariably they don't know what religion is. And yes they often have a catholic or plymouth bretheren background......

> Christianity, however, is absurd. No qualifications or exceptions.

two points Merrick

1. are you talking about Christianity or Orthodox Christianity

2. Is that such a bad thing. Did not the Association of Autonomous Astronuauts declare that only those who attempt the impossible would achieve the absurd....

> Catholics genuinely beleive that a little wafer physically and literally turns into the flesh of Jesus once consumed.

someone I met from a liberal catholic background says that if pushed english liberal catholics will see it as a symbol.

> Furthermore, that same wafer wouldn't transmogrify if it hadn't been blessed and fed to the eater by a priest.

> This is completely nuts.

this is what I find nuts, or one of the things I find Nuts about the church of rome, the notion of a separated priesthood. I suspect though if pushed some liberal catholics might have a more organic view, viz ministry consits of the call of god and authorisation by the community.

> The whole mindset is so humanocentric, pompously and arrogantly regarding humans as the last word in all of existance, that it is simply laughable.

what's wrong with being laughable if you can see your own absurdities? Although yes, like I said on an earlier post, fundamentalists tie themselves in knots not seeing their absurdities.....

likesay, the church of rome was never my cup of tea, and I am grateful not to have a catholic background, however liberal. Am rather grateful to my mother that I was not sprinkled at all, Pagan Anabaptist that I am :)

> My favourite piece of anti-logic, for which 'absurd' is the best word I can think of, is the belief that a literal eternity of pain and torment is the punishment for those who question God's infinite love.

an unquestioning faith is a contradition in terms. an unquestioning biblical faith would be.

in JAH light

Bluebell

scarletharlot69 said...

hi Jim

dam missed one

> then it's probably no more than rationalism dressed in a little poetry. Which isn't religion.

while I make no claim to be a poet, ever read "The White Goddess"? Robert Graves points out or claims that the words poetry and prophecy come from the same root. Poetry is the voice of God.

blessed be

bluebell

merrick said...

Hey Bluebell,

"are you talking about Christianity or Orthodox Christianity"

The both of them. The idea that there is a single, more or less knowable, deliberate conscious creative mind behind the creation of the entire universe, and that it has chosen to reveal itself to this species by way of contradictory gobbledegook, that it manifested in one human who didn't think to lay down the beliefs in a coherant manner, and that this creator has a personal interest in my thoughts and a prudish interest in my sex life. It's utterly barking.

"Is that such a bad thing"

When it gives people a claim that they have the authority of the creator of the universe? Yes, that's about as bad a thing as I can think of.

"someone I met from a liberal catholic background says that if pushed english liberal catholics will see it as a symbol."

Sorry, but there's been papal decree on this one. God's single chosen representative on earth says it's so. Anyone who disagrees is saying that the pope isn't actually god's number one salesman, and as such they are heretics and should leave the Catholic Church.

"what's wrong with being laughable if you can see your own absurdities?"

Er, my point is that such humanocentric people do not see the absurdity of their position.

Also, to know your position is ludicrous yet still proclaim it as the true path of the creator of the universe and ultimate moral arbiter of all people has rather a lot wrong with it.

"an unquestioning faith is a contradition in terms"

Faith means taking a lot on trust. Where you don't understand it you just presume God knows what he's doing. That, surely, has an unquestioning element.

i prefer to deal with what we can actually know, rather than have these sparrings of theories and fantasies that can never be solved, only disputed.

"Poetry is the voice of God".

Some of it might be, but most of the poetry I've come across is the voice of overprecious whiners who should get out more ;-)

scarletharlot69 said...

hi Merrick

> > "are you talking about Christianity or Orthodox Christianity"

> The both of them. The idea that there is a single, more or less knowable, deliberate conscious creative mind behind the creation of the entire universe, and that it has chosen to reveal itself to this species by way of contradictory gobbledegook, that it manifested in one human who didn't think to lay down the beliefs in a coherant manner, and that this creator has a personal interest in my thoughts and a prudish interest in my sex life. It's utterly barking.

1. methinks again your definition of Christianity is that of Orthodox christianity

2. am not convinced that the bible is contradictory gobledegook. it does contain contradictions, ergo it is, thank JAH! not a fundamentalist document. Now, not every muslim is a fundamentalist, though perhaps fundamentalism is mainstream in Islam in a way that it is not in Christianity (apart from Ameriaka, but then Amerikans are barking....

3. Not sure that Christianity takes any more prudish interest in sex than any other tradition religious or non religious. Buddhism strikes me as having some rather prudish views on sex but again, this was social rather than religious, same can probably be said of any religious tradition.

> > "Is that such a bad thing"

> When it gives people a claim that they have the authority of the creator of the universe? Yes, that's about as bad a thing as I can think of.

Likesay, I have nothing wrong with absurdities, but everything wrong with using absurdities, or non absurdities for tyranical purposes. We are agreed here.

> "someone I met from a liberal catholic background says that if pushed english liberal catholics will see it as a symbol."

> Sorry, but there's been papal decree on this one.

Popes come and go.

> God's single chosen representative on earth says it's so. Anyone who disagrees is saying that the pope isn't actually god's number one salesman, and as such they are heretics and should leave the Catholic Church.

well, it might not be a very broad church, but perhaps it is a bit broader than u think.....

> > "what's wrong with being laughable if you can see your own absurdities?"

> Er, my point is that such humanocentric people do not see the absurdity of their position.

true enough

people who don't see the absurdities in their position are particularly laughable, pace Spinal Tap......

> Also, to know your position is ludicrous yet still proclaim it as the true path of the creator of the universe and ultimate moral arbiter of all people has rather a lot wrong with it.

> > "an unquestioning faith is a contradition in terms"

> Faith means taking a lot on trust.

perhaps I am guilty of taking a lot on trust.

I trust that the sun will rise tommorrow morning

I trust that the laws of physics apply to the whole of the universe

I trust that some of my letters will get through the Republican Mail.

> Where you don't understand it you just presume God knows what he's doing.

> That, surely, has an unquestioning element.

no

> i prefer to deal with what we can actually know,

does not even the most rational of persons take much on trust?

> rather than have these sparrings of theories and fantasies that can never be solved, only disputed.

I think.

a chap called Michael Tippet opened a pamphlet written in 1944 or so with a quote from Confucius, who said that the most important task of government was the rectification of names.

let us stop defining religion as the sum of it's abuses. and likwise christianity. That said I still find the CU spooky LOL!

> > "Poetry is the voice of God".

> Some of it might be,

ok, good poetry is the voice of GOd

> but most of the poetry I've come across is the voice of overprecious whiners who should get out more ;-)

too bloody true!!!!!!!!!!!

I have a passion for song lyrics but not for poetry.

and it's time I got out more

Blessed be