September 13, 2007

Placebo Paradise

Posted in church, culture, mythology, philosophy, psychology of religion, theodicy at 8:51 am by Jerry

More dialogue with fellow blogger that makes me want to record some of the responses. Although, due to either technical difficulties or censoring, this response has yet to be published on Ryan’s blog… [Edit: It was in fact a technical difficulty. And I assumed censoring my comments was an option Ryan might consider (lumping him with others who have indeed blocked my comments). My apologies to Ryan.]


You said, “Affirming a strong connection between goodness and truth doesn’t change the fact that the world is not yet as it ought to be, nor is this affirmation invalidated, from my perspective, by specific instances where good results come through less than ideal means or sources.”

I think it has been a consistent characteristic within the history of humanity to want to know that the trouble in our lives will be resolved in the end and everybody (at least, everybody that ultimately matters) will live happily ever after.

And when an individual/community cannot find strength and hope in the present goodness of life, false hope (like a placebo of “illusion or the projection of human fantasies”) is a life saver, providing badly needed comfort and security.

These fantasies of salvation may require a lot of mythical/philosophical abstractions – which can be a great exercise for the mind – as Freud pointed out. Although, ideally, I think people should outgrow the need for a placebo. But until then, trying to reveal the placebo may be detrimental to their overall health. Perhaps, Freud knew this as well.

A pleasure as always,


September 6, 2007

Can God Be Out-Voted?

Posted in church, philosophy, politics, religion, theology at 7:10 am by Jerry

Here is another comment of mine from the on-going discussion I’ve mentioned in the previous post:

You’re right, I wasn’t exactly clear in my explanation of the root of the terrorist problem. One of the things I said was, “I think it’s relevant that dictation of morality is where fundamentalist extremists believe their power comes from.” I didn’t mean to refer to God exclusively as the only totalitarian authority figure here. My emphasis is that terrorist activity is a result of a totalitarian authority figure, being God or man, demanding a fundamentalist obedience to their commands. (I just happen to be focusing on God’s role as a totalitarian authority figure in response to Ryan’s post.) So, you’re right, all of your examples correspond with what I was trying to emphasize.

I’m not saying that you, among many who happen to be Christians, should not have an influence in the political state. I’m saying that God should not have an influence in the political state. So if Christians are speaking on behalf of God instead of themselves, I think there is a huge problem in that because the Church’s relationship with God is not a democratic one.

A non-democratic process would be infused into a democratic process if Christians voted on behalf of God. God can incarnate himself again to come down here and vote – once, but not again through others by any means. And since he requires complete obedience to his will (by all), God’s voice (filled with moral convictions) should be silenced before the state.

In other words, I’m saying democracy and Christian politics conflict at a specific fundamental motivational level, rather than every element of either philosophies should be rejected. Again, the motivation for a Christian philosophy is that the fate of our society be for God, by those who follow him. Where as, democracy is, as I said above, “For the people, by the people.”

And that’s why I’m confused where you say, “I think that of all the political institutions that have come and gone, [a liberal democracy] most closely approximates anything like what Christians believe will ultimately characterize the kingdom of God.” To me, a liberal democracy contradicts the political underpinnings of God’s Kingdom if it includes God’s literal presence (can God be out-voted?).


September 4, 2007

Separation of Religion and Morality

Posted in church, culture, philosophy, politics, religion, scripture, theology at 6:07 pm by Jerry

Lately, I’ve been spending little if any time in the blogosphere, and most of it would be in discussions with this guy. I like visiting him because him and I often have opposing views, yet for the most part, we can share the same language to discuss them. He’s been a big help for me to explore how I see the world we live in.

The last conversation I had with him led me to respond with thoughts I’ve never put to page or screen before. So, I thought I’d copy them here:

I think the “foundation for our political system” on its most basic level (democratic) requires an “ideological unanimity” and it is extreme to assume otherwise. I do agree, this probably won’t “do much to help relations in the fragile political situation,” but that never stopped political change for the better in the past.

Ryan, I don’t know if I can stress enough how much I struggle with your desire to mix church with state. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the democratic process of voting asks each individual to decide once, for themselves on whatever issue, rather than have someone else decide for them. To me, I understand this as not having person ‘A’ vote again through person ‘B’ by person ‘B’s’ obedience to person ‘A’.

I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that the political make-up of Monotheist religions is not a democratic one. Followers are ultimately asked to obey God because God said so – no matter if God has a good reason for it or not.

I know it’ll upset you that I’m saying this, but I think it’s relevant that dictation of morality is where fundamentalist extremists believe their power comes from. And I think we’ve missed the root of the terrorist problem by saying they misrepresent their religious beliefs.

The root of the terrorist problem, I think, is allowing God to have a moral voice (I’m sure what I’ve said here will also upset you). Yes, there are places within the church where through a democratic process believers come to an agreement on God’s will, but non-believers are not welcome in this democratic process.

Democracy, by its very nature, is inclusive. The fate of our society is “For the people, by the people,” not ‘For God, by some people.’

Here’s another extreme reason God shouldn’t have a moral voice: God has a history of asking his followers, according to their scriptures, to obey him even up to the point of being faithful enough to commit to an act of murdering your own child…

Genesis 22:
15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” NIV

…then in the New Testament, God continues to lead his followers in a willingness to sacrifice their children for him (if he asked for it) by being an example of it. (By the way, I saw an interesting CNN documentary called God’s Warriors where a Muslim mother declared her pride in her son’s dedication to God/Allah by being a so-called martyr through his own suicidal/murderous sacrifice of blowing himself up along with innocent bystanders.)

You may think I shouldn’t be using extreme examples and that I’m asking for the abolition of religion here, but the point of my examples is to address the political underpinnings of Monotheist religions.

And I’m not asking for the extinction of religion. Let all those who believe there is a triune Creator of the universe gather together in a loving manner, bonding in their fellowship, ritually communing together to grow in relationship and the practice of traditions – like a family. But, please, help keep the politics of morality where it belongs – in a democracy.

September 1, 2007

Have you met Art?

Posted in art, culture, film, philosophy at 8:38 am by Jerry

Found this video here and had to put it on my blog too. Enjoy.

So, have you met Art? How would you know? What does Art look like?

Off the top of my head, I’d say Art is anything that inspires you to see differently what you know. Art also might inspire you to learn something completely new, but I don’t think new knowledge is a necessary result from the experience of meeting Art.

I think I have a book somewhere that talks about the philosophy of art. If I remember correctly, it says something about the purpose of art being to change the worldviews of others. Now, if this is true, it leads me to a whole other area of exploration. Because, I think a lot of people value their worldviews just as they are, and would hate to have them messed with – which would mean that they wouldn’t enjoy art if they happened upon it. They might even hate Art.