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Tuesday, March 25. 2014
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Man's religion, is the highway to hell. The social "gospel" is the doctrine of demons.Eph 2:8>
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
"the arm of flesh will fail you, you dare not trust your own"
Makes sense to me, however, seems a highly fluid, legalistic system and dependent on corps of elite thinkers and molders.
I have several questions about J. Bottum's nebulously phrased and hugely flawed hypothesis about a secular religion. I hesitate to call it a hypothesis. The first is the name. Religion has a rather specific meaning and it's one essential element is the belief in a god or gods. An omnipotent, or nearly so, divinity. And yet he offers no evidence in the social/political policies he enumerates, the manner in which those policies are administered or in the people he calls post-protestant that any divinity or any belief in a divinity is involved. Is the expectation that certain social mechanisms will eliminate poverty and inequality equivalent in any manner to a belief in god? I shudder to think so. As would any self respecting secularist or statist. Their faith is placed in the state and the perfectibility of man, they have no need of god. The reviewer says, "Secularism has succeeded on religious terms." Religious terms, as in, no god? Where does he get this stuff, this gibberish?
Further, I cannot escape the feeling that my fur has been rubbed the wrong way when I see secularism described as some kind of religion. Secularism is that which is apart from religion, segregated from it and having nothing whatever to do with it. Mr. Buttom is using terms which have meanings, changing the meanings without saying so and expecting to be understood. Mr. Buttom is having his joke. This is not wisdom, this is sophistry.
This Mr. Buttom fellow does not offer an uncommon way of understanding, he offers instead the con man's sleight of hand. Saying a thing is that which it is not and building upon the fraud a structure of lies to ensnare and confuse the unwary. He would transport us to a realm where statists morph into spiritual beings in some magical way. Or something. I don't know.
I need go no further in my critique of Mr. Buttoms ramblings. He can't get past the starting gate with me and I don't have much patience for frauds.
Joesph Bottum brings forth the topic that too few have considered. I share my musings.
The first issue I have is the customary and confining definition of religion that requires an organizational structure so as to be labeled a religion. This is a contrived circumference that history uses to exclude all humans which deem themselves apart from an organized religion. That immediate error of definition would have most people exclude the secularist, the humanist, the atheist, the politicist from a religious belief. But, each person is religious as they hold individual beliefs on morality, life, and death. Religion is deep to your personhood as it dictates your values, your morals, your beliefs, and your reactions. In as much as each person holds personal beliefs, motives, and attitudes, each person is religious. One can not escape being religious.
The second issue is the definition of organized religion. If there are two or more individuals who meet for the same beliefs, for the same attitudes, and for similar actions, that is structure, that is organization. And, with sufficient desire they organize their gatherings, they prune and nurture the shared beliefs, they may want to share it with other likeminded individuals, and they may then want to advocate from their beliefs. Though a social organization, its bedrock comes from their foundational beliefs, their religious tenants, their religion.
The third issue is the necessary realization that man is made in God’s image, and within each man is a space for God as depicted by Blaise Pascal’s “... a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man ...”. That vacuum for God within each human is either filled by the created God, or the Creator God. The created God is the man in the mirror. He dictates his own attitudes, his own beliefs, his own values. He fills the vacuum within with his own beliefs. Man can not escape, can not exempt himself from religion. He cannot be a-religious or irreligious, because each human has core values, beliefs, ethics. Even those who state their a-religiosity are so by religious. The issue arises as to who will occupy the God shaped vacuum, the creator God, or the self created God.
The final issue is the recognition that secular humanism, patriotism, communism, fascism, atheism are all religions. Secular humanism is perhaps the most organized with the educational systems acting as the seminaries, the media and the government as the pulpits and preachers, and the public as the laity.
As individuals we are certainly free to make up whatever meanings for words we like. Just like J. Bottum does. For you, the "customary and confining definition" of religion is not good enough. Dissatisfied with that, you choose to expand the definition to include pretty much everything. Now, religion has a much more elastic feeling without those confining characteristics which distinguish it from other words. Now that everything is a religion or religious, all is well. Or is it?
Has this new definition helped to increase our understanding? Let's see. Customary religion, you say, must have organization. This "confining" aspect, is no good and doesn't take account of each person's essentially religious nature. The expanded definition is needed because, "..each person holds personal beliefs, motives, and attitudes, each person is religious. One can not escape being religious." Every individual is religious. Even the atheists. Even the statists. Even the secularists.
After establishing that an essential element for your definition of "religion" is individuality, as opposed to, "organization", you take us on a bit of a loop. At the second paragraph, as you continue to take issue with, "..the definition of organized religion." you say;
"If there are two or more individuals who meet for the same beliefs, for the same attitudes, and for similar actions, that is structure, that is organization. And, with sufficient desire they organize their gatherings, they prune and nurture the shared beliefs, they may want to share it with other likeminded individuals, and they may then want to advocate from their beliefs. Though a social organization, its bedrock comes from their foundational beliefs, their religious tenants, their religion."
So, organization is now good, even in the context of religion. But now we have a bit of a contradiction. Confusion ensues.
With the third paragraph, we see god. Two of them. One is the real god, the creator god and the other is the man created god, the god in the mirror. This makes sense. The term religion is still used improperly, but I think I see your meaning. Now, since the topic of how we understand god gets very deep in a hurry, I will be brief and succinct. First, I assume that much of our understanding of god comes from ourselves. This is a given, for all of the obvious reasons. Ok, it's a given because we can only see things from our perspective and through our eyes and with our brains. Happy? No, I'm not going any deeper with this into spiritual inspiration and such. Second, as it pertains to the topic at hand, the writer is correct to see the difference between a "religion" based on the man in the mirror version of god and a religion based on the, "creator god". The former is a 'reflection' of man's belief in himself. The latter being a belief in a being infinitely greater than himself.
And right back to the definition of religion we go. For me, I roll with the traditional meaning, confined as it may be. I know, definitions are troublesome things. A belief in god being the essential element. Any discussion of religion that broadens the definition to the far horizons, invites even more confusion than the topic already commands. Really, it precludes any understanding, it even precludes discussion. Everyone bringing their own language to the table and leaving it firmly convinced they have it right? Babel redux. Not a very good idea. This is the problem I have with J. Bottum. He twists the meanings of words and conjures connections between them. His writing, without any real substance in itself, forces the reader to distill his own meanings from it and thus, reach any number of conclusions. It's imagination land. Or, as I like to say, bullshit. Sometimes, like almost always, you just have to use language in an organized fashion. If you wish to communicate ideas across that chasm between the paper and the eyes. Unless you write poetry. Poetry is supposed to be free ranging nuttiness, stream of consciousness stuff. Or so they tell me.
Back at work, I can certainly go with the idea that secular humanists have a belief system. But, calling the various and sundry belief systems religions does not make it so. Confounding the meanings of established terms does not help. Just call it what it is. Yes, they share some of the characteristics of religious belief. They have faith in the unknowable. Though they would reject the idea that anything is unknowable. They proselytize to spread their ideas and gain converts. For political power and for wealth. But they have no god. They have only their misplaced belief in themselves. It is fun to ridicule them by saying they have some religious beliefs. But, the gap between secular beliefs and religious beliefs cannot be overstated, it cannot be bridged with sophistry and it cannot be papered over by pretending words mean anything you like. That dog just won't hunt, my friend.
As far as everyone having a religion, I cannot agree. As far as everyone having a soul and a spiritual nature, I would. If, as I suspect, that was part of your musings. Cheers.
You are incorrect, W.C. Taqiyya, a fact evidenced by your verbal anxiety and rhetoric over the author's clear insights.
Consider a comprehensive definition of religion; not one arbitrarily bound to your agenda. Try the one at Wikipedia, for example, a entirely reasonable definition.
A religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.[note 1] Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that are intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the Universe. From their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, people derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.
Many religions may have organized behaviors, clergy, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, holy places, and scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration of a deity, gods or goddesses, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religions may also contain mythology.
The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith, belief system or sometimes set of duties; however, in the words of Émile Durkheim, religion differs from private belief in that it is "something eminently social".
Now rewrite it substituting Progressivism for religion, and with only a few minor edits - none of which that lose context or logic - we see the piece reads virtually identically.
As another commenter notes, this is an important piece and one that gets far too little airtime. The statist left is profoundly religious, in its faith in itself, in it's blind faith in its own failures, in its dogma, it's rote prescriptions, its organizations, its morality, and in the entirety of its institution.
And it is above all an institution complete with prescriptions, cants, dogmas, beliefs, moralities, and of course, inquisitions, penalties, intellectual exorcisms, and even a loose ruling body. It is intolerant, bigoted, arrogant, and ultimately dishonest.
"Religion: the belief in a god or in a group of gods. an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods." Merriam-Webster online.
So, I am incorrect because of "verbal anxiety" and "rhetoric"? My definition of religion is "arbitrary" and bound to my agenda? I like that, since you are confirming my point that any discussion beginning with ill defined terms forecloses understanding. Refusing to see the meanings of terms and how and why agreed upon definitions are reguired for communication does not help much either. With nothing better than "verbal anxiety" to offer in criticism, I will stay with my argument, thanks just the same.
As I predicted, you came away from the review of Bottum's work with what, for you, is a perfectly reasonable understanding. Bottum says secularists share many of the characteristics of religious faith so they are the inheritors of the now defunct protestant church's doctrine. They now wear the Puriton mantle. They are a religious bunch of folks. Bottum says it's a religion, it must be so. To sustain this theory, we must broaden our definition of religion. No problem, expand away. To sustain his theory we must ignore the fact that secular means anything but religious. No problem, ignore away. To sustain his theory we must ignore Buttom's definition of religion which incorporates salvation. Erp, now what? Come to think of it, what is Bottum's definition of religion? What does he mean by salvation and how does he now define secular?
You see, we can each define for ourselves what Bottum's terminology means. And, from that projected meaning, reach our own conclusions. But not honestly, since we must broaden the definitions of commonly understood terms and at the same time ignore others entirely to make sense of his screed. For example, you ignore the fact that Bottum incorporates the term "secular" into his theory. It is a word he finds essential else he would not use it. But how does it fit in with any definition of religion? How does secular become religious?
"Secular: denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis."
As I stated above, the secular humanists et al, share some of the characteristics of religion. And they would reject Bottum's theory entirely. But, it just doesn't make good sense to speak of the secular humanistic doctrine and faith and beliefs and prescriptions as if it was descended from protestant church doctrine. It makes no sense to speak of secular religion. It makes no sense to insert ideas of salvation into the secularists belief system. Why can't Bottum speak clearly? Why does he need to blow up words so their meanings cover the globe? He does it so our sympathetic imaginations can find meaning for him. He does it because there are no words he can string together that will join his theory to the facts.
On Bottum's terms I can prove that pigs fly, that dolphins practice voodoo and that the moon is made of cheese. I can do that because everything means anything.
So, I am incorrect because of "verbal anxiety" and "rhetoric"?
No sir. You are incorrect because you are incorrect. The rest is symptomatic.
My definition of religion is "arbitrary" and bound to my agenda?
Pursuant the common definitions in question, I see no reason to find otherwise.
I like that, since you are confirming my point that any discussion beginning with ill defined terms forecloses understanding.
I'm sure you do like that but the irony there, you'll agree, is rather pointed.
We are indeed speaking of confirmations, but presented with a rose always being a rose you have committed an obvious non-sequitur. Evidently finding it pleasurable, you have then elected to re-commit it.
With such editorial license, it's a small step to allow yourself your own intent when redefining the intent of others, and about there we again go circular and from that we reaffirm that you'd already lost the point you thought you were making.
Taken by some agenda, one concludes, you can contort as much as you wish. The reasonable mind finds first that organized, faith-based, structural morality built on whim, emotion, and prejudice is religious, and second it finds that Progressivism is an organized, faith-based, structural morality built on whim, emotion, and prejudice.
You see, we can each define for ourselves what Bottum's terminology means.
No we cannot. We cannot redefine Bottum, now can we? And we cannot redefine reality: Progressivism is, in fact, religious.
That is not in question. What is in question is what you shall do with that, then.
You make a lot of keystrokes smearing all of this with a nice concealing semantic mud -- which is what this last rather defining exasperation of yours seeks to do ... on the heels of your claiming Bottum has himself done no less -- but that doesn't change any reasonable definition of religion.
Just as you'd have your way with the man's very intent (and clear, irrefutable logic) it only attempts to redefine religion. Yes, on your terms you can probably prove that pigs fly. You can do that because everything means anything, whether you say so rhetorically or whether you commit the error outright yourself.
"You are incorrect because you are incorrect." I love this one, can't get much clearer than that.
"We cannot redefine Bottum, now can we? And we cannot redefine reality: Progressivism is, in fact, religious. That is not in question. What is in question is what you shall do with that, then."
Well, I didn't really want to define anything, but since Bottum's reviewer left so much to the imagination, I had to start someplace. Sorry.
To your question about what I shall do with your conclusion (I'm not certain Bottum actually says this) that progressivism is a religion, I shall do nothing with it. I'm not interested. I only seek clarity.
"You are incorrect because you are incorrect." I love this one, can't get much clearer than that.
No you can't, at least in your mind, where unhinging my remark's correction from the context of your prior fallacy further illustrates that you have much more of a dog in this race than your lengthy, rhetorical, and circular appeals to clarity say.
Well, I didn't really want to define anything
Of course: That's the sSophistry and relativism that simultaneously make claims to reason and reject it in others. Or that demand proofs when you've already mangled a coherent counter-argument, one presumes by some intent.
You know, clarity. The clarity of an entirely rational and credible definition of religion given you a day ago that you refuse to address because it templates Progressivism so uncannily well.
Small minded fanatics have trouble letting go. I see that. And the excuses just keep coming. The backtracking about context is a sweet one. Sorry charlie, you own your stand alone comment about incorrect being incorrect. I will add, because you said so. Remember, there is no redefinition allowed. You said so. Of course, if you wish to change the rules again, feel free. The better to amuse me.
Touching again for a bit on your immutable definition of religion, since I seem to have your attention, it does indeed fit progressivism under it's all encompassing hood. Congratulations. Now what willl you do with that pearl of faux wisdom? Also, if you review the comments, you can see that I have long since passed that detail by. You must hurry to catch up with the discussion. Old business is old business old bean.
Onto new business, it might be worth a reminder that we are discussing a review of our favorite poet, not what the poet himself wrote. On that note, I am not yet convinced Bottum actually said, "progressivism or human secularism is a religion". I know you said so and I know you think I should believe it on that basis. But, although he says it's spiritual and religious, Mr. Bottum does not, as far as I can see, say outright that it is a religion. You see what I'm saying? The reviewer may be stretching things just a bit and that was sneaky. So now what?
We could have fun listing the many other things that fit uncannily well under your religion umbrella. Like the folks who run with the travelling carnival or military personnel or the egg heads in academia and maybe even that pod of dolphins? It's remarkable really, they all have rules and beliefs and a sense of right and wrong and a hierarchy and punishments, etc. So, they must be religions. Glad we agree on one little thing at long last.
On even newer business, Bottum seems to have his numbers mixed up. I know, he is a poet and it is a minor point. Bottum says, "Today membership in Protestant churches is under 30 million people in a nation of more than 300 million." This, from his article entitled, "The Post-Protestant Ethic and Spirit of America". He arrives at his 30 million figure via creative bookkeeping. Some protestants don't count because they pass the plate in a different direction or something. He has excuses to. But the Association of Religion Data Archives pegs the number a bit higher, at some 67 million give or take a million or two. Oops. I mean, I really don't care what the "real" numbers are, but it does seem odd that his numbers would be so far off and I wonder about that.
One other minor point probably not worth pointing out, how does a marginal Catholic who advocates for same sex marriage get the idea that the progressive movement sprang up from the protestant religion? Did none of the Catholics fall from grace and join in the orgy of liberalism he describes?
Yeah, Bottum isn't a serious writer. He's a newish class of protestant basher, a not so good poet and a writer of pop psychology, sociology, religion, philosophy and
anti-protestant propaganda dressed up as a conservative leading the gay pride parade. I still like him though. And I like you Mr. Ten. I can't figure out if you are just funnin me or are a close relative of Mr. Bottums. Either way, you are groovy. Cheerios.
Still moving those goalposts...
But do you have substance, W.C.? Circularity tends not to. Way up in comment #3 things were defined in no uncertain terms. That's what 'stands alone', that and the fixed definitions that followed yours and were ignored.
But I like your affectations. They are typical when swinging above your intellectual weight class, publicly losing, and then affecting some air of indifferent, faux intellectual sophistication.
"It's only a scratch!"
Glad we are friends again Mr. Ten. For a second, I thought you were upset and emotionally involved. Thank you also for your compliment about my writing being, "..nice concealing semantic mud..". That is a very clever phrase and high praise indeed from my intellectual master. Please do stick around and let me know what I'm thinking about on other topics won't you? TTFN