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A Modern Secular Religion

 
 
patiodog
 
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Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 12:44 pm
Don't truffle with me, Frank.
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 12:48 pm
Trifle...
http://www.baking911.com/trifle.jpg

Truffle...
http://www.gisborne.co.nz/truffle_dinner/images/truffle.jpg

Any questions?
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 12:52 pm
Frank,

No accusation intended at all - other than perhaps the suggestion that you are human as am I. I have had plenty of opportunity in life to confront the complexities and contradictions in my own self - mind, emotions, beliefs, actions, and, perhaps arbitrarily, I assume the same complexity and contradictions exists in others, whether or not they are aware of it.

I would say this is a dialogue, not a contest, and I have no interest in or right to the information in question - no personal problem putting it that way. However I have reason to believe you would not like that formulation.

All that is sought is the suggestion that you would repeat the assertion in question even after serious contemplation of what you have actually done in other areas of your life. Past actions in this case are more meaningful than current opinions precisely because of the choice dilemma I have described above.

It has been a difficult path to these core issues and I, at least, have had to ignore some tiresome accusations about beating dead horses from others oddly here, but not interested in the question. However I have found the dialogue with you both interesting and stimulating. Thanks.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 12:55 pm
patiodog wrote:
Don't truffle with me, Frank.



That was funny! Thanks.
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 01:08 pm
I've enjoyed our little give and take, too, George.

Let me respond to what I think is your question.

I try to live my life honestly, ethically, and reasonably.

Naturally, I have to make decisions on what constitutes ethically and reasonably -- although the "honestly" is pretty much out in the open.

I don't always succeed, but, if I may pat myself on the back a bit, I do a damn good job of it.

I play golf with a group of about 10 regulars -- and I dare say if you were to poll them on who is the most honest, most ethical, most trustworthy of the group -- I would get most of the votes.

I NEVER CHEAT -- which sometimes pisses a playing partner off when I call something that others feel it okay to overlook.

I sometimes bullshit to make a story more interesting -- or to make it easier to tell -- but I really try to stay away from out-and-out lies -- or word play that might cause someone to think I am saying something I'm really not. I AM EXTREMELY OUT FRONT WITH PEOPLE.

(My co-workers in real estate, mostly women -- particularly women of a certain age -- knew and often commented on the fact that I was not the person to go to with a question like "Does this dress make me look fat?" or "Do you think this new haircut is flattering?" I would never be rude -- but I would not sugar coat what I actually felt when dealing with those kinds of questions.)

As regards the issue at hand -- by now you should realize that I honestly do not see evidence to lead me to either "There is a God" or "There are no gods." I do not even see evidence that leads me to "It seems more likely that there is a God than that there are no gods" or "It seem more likely that there are no gods than that there is a God."

With you, I'm dealing with someone who feels there is evidence that tends toward "There is a God."

With Craven and Setanta, I'm dealing with people who feel there is evidence that tends toward "There are no gods."

What can I tell ya?

I say a coin toss works as well as any evidence you or any of the others offer. I say my sense of ethics, honesty, and logic/reasonability leads me to "I do not know -- and don't have enough evidence upon which to make a reasonable estimate in either direction."
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 01:10 pm
Yer welcome. I do what I can.

As to "beating a dead horse" accusations from others "oddly here," I think a number of people (including myself) were drawn to the question at the very beginning of the thread, but not to the ongoing (a)theism-and-epistemology debate. After all, this was posted in the politics forum.
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Frank Apisa
 
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Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 01:15 pm
patiodog wrote:
Trifle...
http://www.baking911.com/trifle.jpg

Truffle...
http://www.gisborne.co.nz/truffle_dinner/images/truffle.jpg

Any questions?



You sure that is a truffle, PD. It looks like....well....ahhhh...hey, you are patioDOG, so you know what it looks like.

Take a bite out of it -- and make sure.
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patiodog
 
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Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 01:21 pm
Oh, I know. They mostly use dogs to find 'em now instead of pigs...
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georgeob1
 
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Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 01:25 pm
Frank,

Thanks.

I am a long term fan of Joseph Conrad novels. One of the recurrent themes of his novels, from Lord Jim to Alamayer's Folly, Victory, The Shadow Line, and many others is of individuals forced by circumstance (usually unexpected) to squarely face the limits of their fears, composure, and ability. Graham Greene addressed this too - his phrase "The End of the Tether" comes to mind.

I have had in my life frequent occasion to confront my own limits and to observe such confrontations in others. "Confused, scared shitless, and out of ideas and airspeed..." was the phrase we frequently used. What it has taught me is that we cannot be sure of our virtues until they are severely tested. Some of them make it, some don't. Some people have seen the bear, some haven't. There is no alternate crossing to that divide.
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 02:02 pm
Ahhh...George, I know what you mean about being unsure until they are severely tested.

Tell ya what...

...about six years ago I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma -- a particularly virulent form which seemed particularly dangerous in the eyes of my oncologist since I had let the symptom (a swollen lymph gland in my neck) fester for a long while before deciding it might be serious. (Actually, I never did think it was serious, but during a routine ear examination, the problem was discovered.)

There was surgery; chemo; and radiation therapy.

I did not react well to the chemo or the radiation -- and to make a long story short, I went from a normal weight of about 155 -160 down to 114.

We all pretty much thought that I had bought the farm.

NEVER -- NEVER ONCE -- during the experience did I ever bring my agnosticism into question. NEVER ONCE did I ever try speaking to any gods; never once did I pray or ask anyone for prayers.

Fact is, I continued my life as best I could (under the circumstances) and resigned myself to an earlier demise than I wanted.

Things worked out.

I am proud of the way I handled myself during the difficulty -- and I hope that I am able to conduct myself the same way when the real end comes.

So...I think I've faced a test and passed.

There was no fear -- there was no cringing.
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dyslexia
 
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Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 02:19 pm
I am somehow reminded of that quaint adage "there are no atheists in foxholes" aside from being blatently untrue, the phrase demonstates the hubris of those that are so set in their metaphyiscal netherworld that they need to have others join them there.
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 02:53 pm
A redundant truffle -- one or more of the same flavor?
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 02:55 pm
I am somehow reminded of a passage from a Saturday Night Live sketch, a game show called "Who's More Grizzled?"

"When I got up on that beach in Normandy, I'd never wished more that there was a God, and was never more certain that there wasn't."

To which the vanquished, would-be more-grizzled man replies, "Damn. You are grizzled."
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 03:21 pm
Frank,

Then you have indeed seen the bear, and my hat is off to you.

The following poem comes immediately to mind. I once found it a bit overbearing and over the top, that is undill I read some details of the author's life. He too had seen the bear.

I wish you very well.

William Ernest Henley.
1849-1903
853 Invictus

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow'd.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 05:45 pm
People fear randomness -- religion is a way to explain it.
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blatham
 
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Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 06:45 pm
Merely because the criterion has come up...I cheat gleefully and for the slimmest of reasons or gains. I have not been involved in a legitimate game of Monopoly, for example, since approximately the time when Ed Sullivan grew cross at Elvis' writhing and Liberace did not.

Here's a lovely quote from Robert Bork's "Slouching Towards Gomorrah" (the working title of which, by the way, was "Care And Maintenance of the Prepuce"). This unparalleled legal mind is commenting here on Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.
Quote:
It was indeed stirring rhetoric, entirely appropriate for the purpose of rallying the colonists and justifying their rebellion to the world. But some caution is in order. The ringing phrases are hardly useful, indeed may be pernicious, if taken, as they commonly are, as a guide to action, governmental or private. Then the words press eventually towards extremes of liberty and the pursuit of happiness that court personal licence and social disorder.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 06:47 pm
It's no use, Boss, they're all gathered around the equine corpse, and i believe they are now dancing on it . . .
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Ethel2
 
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Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2003 10:25 pm
Re: A Modern Secular Religion
george,

I'd like to go back to your original question and clarify for the sake of discussion. It seems to me, as Setanta and others have pointed out, that your original question, quoted below, contains several questions and implicit yet unstated assumptions.

georgeob1 wrote:
Do the ever more ubiquitous social values and vocabulary of modern politically correct thought and speech constitute a new secular religion, one that is gradually displacing traditional religions from a role in our public life? Is our society thoughtlessly embracing this new religion and thereby destroying the historical view of the existence of a moral authority above and independent of government and to which all individuals are ultimately morally accountable. What implications might this have for the limitations of the power and intrusiveness of government in our lives?


Your statement above contains several questions. 1. Is there a new set of values developing? 2. Can we call this set of values a religion? 3. If so, is this "new" set of social values and vocabulary displacing a more "traditional" set of values? 4. Is our society thoughtlessly embracing this "new" set of values (here the question has to do with how much thought is being employed) this is largely an implied question or assumption that the people of our society are not being thoughtful enough about the "new" values. The over all question from that sentence is, 5. Is the acceptance of this "new" set of values destroying the historical view, which you define as "the existence of a moral authority above and independent of government to which all individuals are ultimately morally accountable." And then your sixth question is, 6. If the answer to the above five questions is "yes" then "what implications might this have for the limitations of the power and intrusiveness in our lives?" I take this to mean the power of the government to intrude with the implied but not specifically stated question, 7. How much should the government be able to intrude in our lives (are you referring here to intrusion in our lives about issues of morality?).

I've tried to clarify your questions so we can beat no more dead horses. Or at least if we do, we'll know specifically which horses we're going to beat. Please let me know if these questions accurately summarize your questions. I'll follow with some comments of my own.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jul, 2003 07:07 am
If there is an equine corpse around, I'm cooking it up with that truffle...
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jul, 2003 07:18 am
Lola,

Just from a review of this thread, I would say that the operational definition of a dead horse is that it is an aspect of a very broad question which some participants find tiresome, but which others wish to pursue, - and not an element in an argument in which all are directly involved.

My opening was an attempt to introduce a broad line of discussion, - with Blatham among others - but without either knowing or prejudging just where it would go. Blatham cautioned me that a BS storm would result, and that I should be very particular in my choice of terms and questions. Rejecting thoroughly the idea of taking advice from him, and not wanting to unduly confine the terms of discussion, I proceeded with the opening to which you refer. With respect to my original intent, I was wrong. Certainly the term 'secular religion' did more harm than good for the discussion.

We did indeed get a BS storm as Blatham foresaw. The questions I posed were too vague and did lead to multiple subtexts. However the line of dialogue I followed was very interesting - at least to me. Perhaps I am not sufficiently socialized for these communal activities, but, 'Frankly Scarlet ....'

Much later, in response to comments by you and Blatham, I attempted to restate my original proposition in different terms, which, I hope may eliminate some non-productive distractions. This was several pages back, so I'll quote it here.

georgeob1 wrote:


My choice of the term 'Secular religion' has unfortunately brought more darkness than light. My intent was to refer to the growing tendency of modern liberal governments to displace religion from tacit roles it once played, or at least heavily influenced in public life. This occurs as a side effect of well-intended but intrusive legislation and programs that aim at perfecting good behavior (as opposed to merely proscribing criminal behavior) on the part of citizens. The manifestations are the increasing social indoctrination in public education; the growing social aspects of Head Start and welfare programs; increasing government regulation of the content and operation of the social aspects of private groups and religion in areas once left untouched. It is also aided by a growing vocabulary of politically correct usage that often obscures or devalues issues of great moral significance to many religions.

My interest is not so much in the content of the social controls and the vocabulary themselves as it is in the fact that it is coming from government and not directly from the people in their voluntary associations with each other and in religion. This, I fear could destabilize the balance between religion and government at a time when religion is already beset by many challenges, some self-induced. In short I don't mind government e-liminating the negative, but I do fear it ac-centuating the positive.


Blatham gave me points for the Irving Berlin reference, but little else. Screw him, he was undoubtedly preoccupied with the dwarf!

I also attempted to pose the notion of a productive tension between religion (and here one might wish also to include any private association of people outside government) and government as one of the historical factors in the relative success of Western Civilization since the Fifteenth century. This didn't fly well, undoubtedly because I wasn't sufficiently clear or persuasive (never wrong !).

I believe the questions you have posed above do indeed relate well to both the original and the revised proposition, and I will be most interested to follow your comments on them - or whatever else that may evolve.
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