Archive for category Religion
Would anyone care to send me to this event? I’d much appreciate it!
Yet again, an epic fail by extremists. Now we all know about Charlie Hebdo. Now we all have seen their cartoons (and sometimes even laughed at them). Now we are less circumspect about how the authorities deal with these murderers and their ilk. As I write this, two of the perpetrators (at least) remain at large. They will be caught and probably killed. Lots of other people will likely be injured or killed as well. Muslims, largely unfairly, will be mocked by cartoonists and humorists and a sea of wanna-be comedians at an increasing rate. And when they are not, they will be increasingly objects of suspicion and even hatred.
How is any of this anything other than complete failure?
I looked at some of the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo, a publication about which I was previously unaware. I have to say that a lot of the cartoons I saw were fairly disgusting. I can easily see how many people would be offended by them. But however little I like vulgar, offensive, juvenile attempts at humor, I like humorless, violent, extremist, willfully-ignorant ideologues even less. Much, much less. How many of the world’s crises are due, in the end, to a lack of a sense of humor? Seriousness kills.
Well, a lot of the time, anyway.
My condolences to the family and friends of the victims of this senseless attack. I am so sorry for your loss.
Here’s what Marx got right—profoundly, overwhelmingly, admirably right: capitalism is unforgiving to “conservatives,” those who care about neighborhood, Church, family, loyalty, tradition.
So, anyway, I’m thinking that I am missing something.
Yeah, okay, I am missing some things. But I mean “missing” like “nostalgic” for something. There was something that used to be but that now is not. And I miss it.
What is it?
I don’t remember.
Well, I mean, that’s just it: I am missing something that once was but now is not, but because it is not, I don’t remember what it is. That’s how much I miss it.
So how do you even know you miss it?
Well, I don’t know I miss it, but I feel I am missing it. I feel the nostalgia. A longing, a yearning. It is philosophical. It is…mystical? Is that the right word?
You tell me…it’s your yearning.
Okay, so, religion: I miss it…but not actual religion, which I don’t miss.
You miss virtual religion?
Yeah, I virtually miss it. I just don’t actually miss it. I want what was “inside” but I don’t want the husk.
Is there an inside without an outside?
Is there an intimate without an “extimate”?
You know what your problem is?
No, but I’m sure you’re about to tell me.
I am, indeed. Your problem is that you are incoherent. Or inconsistent. Or inconsistently coherent. Or something like that.
Well, I’m glad you cleared that all up for me.
I’ll demonstrate: What are you, conservative or liberal?
Do I have to be one or the other?
See what I mean?
Isn’t there a third (or fourth) choice?
I’m a nonarchist.
No you’re not.
Yes I am.
Nope. That’s just a word you made up because you simply couldn’t decide what you are.
A nonarchist believes in no first principles (archai). He differs from the anarchist in that the anarchist thinks there are no first principles. But that is his first principle, so to speak. It is not mine. I believe in no first principles, not even that one.
Isn’t that just saying there are no first principles?
No, it’s not the same. The reason anarchy is so often tied to violence is that the anarchist is usually a true believer. He believes that whatever is going on is bad and that blowing it up is a moral imperative. I do not believe that.
All anarchist are bomb-throwing maniacs?
No. In fact, I very much object to that characterization because it’s the one used by The Powers-That-Be to make anarchistic thinking seem “beyond the pale.” However, because there are in fact anarchist principles, it is possible for there to be true believers, and true believers can be very dangerous.
Is non-archy like casuistry? Are you a casuist?
Okay, yes, I suppose I am. I think there are only events, cases, and that each case has something that uniquely distinguishes it from every other case.
You know the knock on casuistry, right?
Something about inconsistency or incoherency or even hypocrisy…something like that?
Right, well the thing is, if you aren’t a casuist, then you think there are real governing patterns, forms, principles, or whatever, that take precedence over persons, places, things, and times. To me, that is hypocritical—literally, not critical enough. For the sake of your blessed consistency (the hobgoblin of tiny minds, it has been said), you are willing to neglect or deny the uniqueness of persons, places, things, and times. I am unwilling to be so sub-critical.
But if you nonarchist casuists were to win the day, then would we be absolute relativists? And if we were, wouldn’t morality go right out the window? All we’d be left with is “what’s right for me is right for me, and what’s right for you is right for you and there is nothing we can really say to each other.”
Do you think so? I don’t. Or at least, I don’t think it would turn out like that. I think we human beings have a lot in common—a whole lot, in fact—even though each of us is unique.
Well, then, are these commonalities the first principles of ethics?
Not like some people think. You can’t just read off these commonalities and develop an algorithm to solve all our problems once and for all. But we are real people with real commonalities in real situations, and from within them we can try—no guarantees—to solve our problems. Or maybe even find that what we think are problems really aren’t problems at all.
What do you mean?
Well, for instance, “religion” seems to have been a longstanding problem for us human beings. But maybe it doesn’t have to be.
If we didn’t have to be so consistent and coherent and all that, maybe each person could be religious (or not) in his own way without that seeming such a scandal to others. And, at the same time, the person living out this “religious” expression won’t be so damn certain (coherent, consistent) that he lets it bring him misery or to wreak misery on others.
That’s a lot to hope for.
I am a religious man.
You are a nonarchist, casuist, religious man.
Yes, for starters. I am also a man who likes pizza. Consistently, you’ll be pleased to know.
There’s hope for you….
I’m all about hope!
Have a look at this info-graphic. What is the take-away from seeing how religions tend to be tightly concentrated?
Homebrewed Christianity’s interview with John D. Caputo on his latest books (and many more topics):
Lectio Divina: A thought (or two) for the day (and everyday):
God can be beheld in each thing and reached through each pure deed. But this insight is by no means to be equated with a pantheistic world view, as some have thought. …[T]he whole world is only a word out of the mouth of God. Nonetheless, the least thing in the world is worthy that through it God should reveal Himself to the person who truly seeks Him; for no thing can exist without a divine spark, and each person can uncover and redeem this spark at each time and through each action, even the most ordinary, if only he or she performs it in purity, wholly directed to God and concentrated in Him. Therefore, it will not do to serve God only in isolated hours and with set words and gestures. One must serve God with one’s whole life, with the whole of the everyday, with the whole of reality. The salvation of man does not lie in his holding himself far removed from the worldly, but in consecrating it to holy, to divine meaning: his work and his food, his rest and his wandering, the structure of the family and the structure of society. It lies in his preserving the great love of God for all creatures, yes, for all things.
[From Martin Buber, Hasidism and Modern Man, (1958, 1988) 41-42; slightly edited.]
Gloss in the form of a question: What is meant by “purity”?