Hazlitt
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Apr, 2003 11:35 pm
Larry, you are right that Christianity "seems" to be in a state of collapse. I, in fact tend to think that the great revival now going on in the US, may be a last gasp reaction to that general collapse. But, I'm always reluctant to make these big predictions about the demise of religion. It has a way of coming back.

For example, if the fundamentalists are successful in dulling the general belief in evolution (I believe 40 + percent of Americans say they believe in creationism), we will have lost at least a generation of people who think that science is a better way of arriving at the truth about the origins of the universe. For this we can thank the TV preachers. What if the fundies succeed in getting government vouchers in order to support their religious schools. Can you imagine the effect of 50% of the children of this country having their heads crammed with theology and anti-scientific clap-trap?

Look at how Bush has been able to convince the Christians that their religion is favored by God over that of the Muslims, and that it is, therefore, right and proper that God should appoint him to lead us to victory in a war against an "evil" religion. I know he uses other language, but that is the way his words are interpreted by conservative Christians and by the sizeable red neck population.

I will say this, religion as practised by the Bushites and the Christian right (and the Jewish religious right and the Muslim pro-violence faction) is not a truly ethical and spiritual religious stance. Bush may well have started a religious war that will surpass the 30 years war in its viciousness and long lasting effects. The best we can hope for is that he will be discredited by his own deeds (By their fruits you shall know them), and be defeated at the polls, and that the country will take another tack.
0 Replies
 
larry richette
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Apr, 2003 10:55 am
Hazlitt:

Bush is not conducting a religious war nor is he even implying covertly that he is. If anything, he has gone out of his way to downplay those overtones by visiting mosques, etc. Besides, that is a minor issue compared to the overall dwindling of religious influence in the West. And America is only PART of the West. I very much doubt that in Australia, Canada, England, or France, creationism is as popular as it is here. The fact of the mater is that Western culture has gone--in the past 100 years--from being strongly religious to being strongly secular. That is undeniable.
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Hazlitt
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Apr, 2003 11:51 pm
LARRY, I agree with what you say about Western culture as a whole. My comments were mostly about the US.

I think that a part of Bush's motivation for the war is religious. I do not mean that he is at war with the Muslims because he thinks them evil. Still, he seems to think that he is pursuing God's cause in deposing Saddam, and that he, Bush, is called to this task. I get this feeling from some of the things he says.
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larry richette
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2003 11:17 am
I agree that Bush sometimes sounds that way. However, it is not his central motivation and in any case this is not a war of religion.

Let me illustrate my basic point another way. Artists used to use religious themes and subjects in paintings, music, and literature. They do not do so any longer. It is a rare event when it happens. Why? Because religion no longer resonates with the mass audience as it did even 100 years ago. The last great composer to use religious themes was Stravinsky with his "Symphony of Psalms" and that was over 50 years ago. Artists look elsewhere for inspiration. This must mean something!
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Hazlitt
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2003 08:52 pm
Larry, I like your illustration of how artists once used religious imagery and themes because they were recognized by those for whom the art was intended. That's good, and I agree that we can extract from that some meaning about the status of religion in our culture.

As for Bush: I believe he is a fundamentalist Christian. Fundamentalist Christians have a specific philosophy of history which includes the ideas that God works among men to accomplish his will in the world. Also that God's will for the world is revealed to man in the pages of the Bible. I think it is a given that Bush is influenced in some way by these ideas. It is not for me to say in just what way Bush has made his personal accommodation to his personal God and with the ideas that go along with his chosen brand of religion. Only Bush knows that, and in all probability not even he knows the exact status of his commitment. In fact, it is likely that all this is in a dynamic state of flux. If I may resort to hyperbolae, who knows what he may decide that God is saying to him the next time he is on his knees seeking guidance (I hope it's hyperbolae). I have the feeling that within Bush there is some degree of this kind of mental/spiritual activity taking place.

I assure you that I do not think Bush is waging a holy war. I think he sincerely believes he's spreading democracy via war. While it is true that democracy has, in the past, been spread as a by-product of war, I do not recall it's having been spread as the result of a democratic crusade. It remains to be seen how that will work out.

It is probably true that the Bush/Ashcroft phenomenon is just a blip in an otherwise secular trend in government and in our cultural life. I hope it does not turn out to be one of those one hundred year blips.
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larry richette
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2003 10:13 pm
Bush and Ashcroft as fundamentalists are in a minority in a government that is overpopulated by neoconservative Jews like Wolfowitz, Perle, and Feith at the Pentagon, White House Press secretary Ari Fleischer, and many more.There are also totally secular Protestant imperialists like Rumsfeld and Powell and Rice. I see no brigade of fundamentalists in this Administration, quite the contrary.
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2003 10:26 pm
BoGo, just a question....at its heart, isn't nihilism not that far off from Taoism? Live and let be, let nature take its course, in a positive way? Or, on the other hand, are existentialists just nihilists with a conscience?
0 Replies
 
Hazlitt
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2003 11:38 pm
Larry, as always, you've added to my knowledge of a complicated subject.
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larry richette
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Apr, 2003 11:09 am
Cavfancier, existentialists are NOT nihilists with a conscience--although it is an easy mistake to make. Existentialists believe that it is possible to establish values in an absurd world (the absurdity is similar to nihilism) through personal authenticity and through moral integrity. Existentialists grant that nihilism is a tenable position but oppose it by suggesting that human beings have absolute personal freedom to CHOOSE their actions, which gives them responsibility as moral agents. Once you realize that you have this freedom to choose, life becomes immensely meaningful, the opposite of the nihilist position.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Apr, 2003 11:29 am
the only proposition consistent with existentialism is "existence preceeds essence". absurdity is never negated but choices determine meaning (essence) for the participant. in addition it is the application of action to decision that defines choices made. IMO
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BoGoWo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Apr, 2003 11:51 am
Couple of points;

Re: art and religion;
the reason the art of the past played so much attention to religion was ultra simple; they were the "customer".
the only source of income for artists of the past was "royalty" (read wealth), and the clergy, seeking to agrandize the trapping of religious celebration.

This support has disappeared today, and therefore the prime support of art is the consumer (still wealth), alone, or combined in the form of a foundation, or institution (galleries).

However, I disagree, much art is still being executed with the subject matter being of a religious nature, and this is I believe because there is a misplaced connection between the search for beauty, and "spiritual" experience.
My definition of "art" is "emotional communication", and emotion plays more prominently in religion, than does science, and logic.

As for Nihilism vs. existentialism;

Existentialism is, in many ways the logical extension of Nihilism. It defines the connection of the "self" to existence, where the former describes the parameters of the nature of the universe with which we must interact, more or less without moral comment, or direction.
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larry richette
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Apr, 2003 08:45 pm
BoGo Wo--You are completely wrong about existentialism and nihilism. Your comment makes no sense on its own terms and no sense as a description of existentialism. See previous comments in this discussion by me and others for a capsule description of existentialism and where it differs from nihilism. Your thinking is totally confused.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Apr, 2003 10:11 pm
Existentialism requires constant thought, expression, and action -- the active development of one's essence.
All decisions are individual, with each being responsible for his or her choices.
The most important decisions are those affecting the free will of other individuals, other matters are less important.
Some may be affected negatively, their choices reduced by a decision, so decisions must promote freedom among the greatest number of beings.
Limiting the number of options available to an individual in any situation reduces that being's freedom to express a free will.
There is no such thing as a demand, since one can always accept death as a choice.
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TechnoGuyRob
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Apr, 2003 10:23 pm
I didn't know what nihilism is before I saw this topic!
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larry richette
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Apr, 2003 07:42 pm
Dyslexia, I couldn't have put it better myself!
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Apr, 2003 10:25 pm
i take that as a compliment larry
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coolie13
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 06:20 pm
@Garath,
I think ti means that there is no real goal to life, it is totally pointless.
0 Replies
 
 

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