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NEARLY A decade and a half ago, this condemnation of fundamentalism was issued: "The fundamentalist approach is dangerous, for it is attractive to people who look to the Bible for ready answers to the problems of life . . . instead of telling them that the Bible does not necessarily contain an immediate answer to each and every problem. . . . Fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide. It injects into life a false certitude, for it unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations." This robust denunciation came from the Vatican, in a 1993 document entitled "The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church."

The title of this diary, and the quote above, which is its first paragraph, are from an op ed piece in today's Boston Globe, by James Carroll.  I will explore the Carroll piece and then offer a few thoughts of my own.

Using a definition by religious scholar Gabriel Almond of

religious militance by which self-styled 'true-believers' attempt to arrest the erosion of religious identity, fortify the borders of the religious community, and create viable alternatives to secular institutions and behaviors.

Carroll looks at the commonality of fundamentalisms around the world to find their commonality.  They all reject the Enlightenment idea that a secular principle can replace the sacred as the principal source of meaning.  And as Carroll notes:

But now "old time religion" of whatever stripe faces a plethora of threats: new technologies, globalization, the market economy, rampant individualism, diversity, pluralism, mobility -- all that makes for 21st-century life. Fundamentalisms will especially thrive wherever there is violent conflict, and wherever there is stark poverty, simply because these religiously absolute movements promise meaning where there is no meaning. For all these reasons, fundamentalisms are everywhere.

Why would Carroll, a onetime Roman Catholic priest and chaplain at Boston University be moved to write now about fundamentalism?  This award-winning (National Book Award, Melcher Book Award, the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award, and National Jewish Book Award in History) was provoked by the statement last week by Pope Benedict, an Apostolic Exhortation which

begins as a contemplative appreciation of the Eucharist ends up as a manifesto designed to keep many Catholics from receiving Communion at Mass. The ticket to Communion is an uncritical acceptance of what the pope calls, in a striking echo, "fundamental values," which include defense of human life "from conception to natural death." The key declaration is that "these values are not negotiable."

Carroll argues that culture requirees negotiation of values, and that such is the process by which change is possible.  He references a 1993 Vatican document as a starter, and then begins with Aquinas, whom he notes did not believe that life began at conception, and then uses the example of Terri Schiavo to show the disagreement among Catholics about natural death.  In both cases he notes "negotiation follows."  

Carroll implies that the latest action by the Pope may represent a threat to the Vatican's control of the Churcc:

The various fundamentalisms are all concerned with "fortifying borders," and that is a purpose of today's Vatican. The pope's exhortation concludes by referring to the Catholic people as the "flock" entrusted to bishops. Sheep stay inside the fence. But what happens when Catholics stop thinking of themselves as sheep?

I believe that the challenges Carroll raises about the Catholic Church and fundamentalism are applicable in other domains as well.  I have previously noted how one can understand No Child Left Behind in terms of fundamentalism.  More broadly, I think we can see its applicability in politics as well.  There is a great reluctance among politicians in both parties to challenge the implications of American Exceptionalism, a belief set that I think has serious negative consequences when acted upon, consequences both at home as well as for others around the world.  The Republican party now has battles srated by those who assert for example that Bush has abandoned the fundamental principles of small government and balanced budgets.  In the House (and in Virginia in the House of Delegates) we have seen a total unwillingness of Republicans to compromise on their asserted party principles, clearly an indication of a fundamentalist mindset.  And to be skewering in a bi-partisan fashion (and here this may get me flamed) there are those on the left whose total rejection of religious orientation as any kind of motivation despite its important history in things like the progressive and civil rights movements represents its own kind of fundamentalism, one of "pure rationality."

I do not argue for vigorous defense of and advocacy for strongly held beliefs.  Such beliefs are an important part of motivating people to be willing to take risks, to take actions that can advance our society.  But we live in a diverse nation, a liberal democracy (technical political science description) that presumes differences and thus has set up a governmental structure designed to force compromise.  The ability of any one group to maintain an ongoing working majority on numerous issues has always been in doubt.  Madison foresaw this in Federalist 10 with his discourse on the role of faction.     We are in many ways a very fragmented nation and society.  Bob Barr may be my enemy on naming everything after Reagan and in impeaching Bill Clinton, but he is my ally on the dangers of the Patriot and Military Commission Acts.  

The phrase that Carroll repeated, Negotiation followed, are what we must remember.  In order for our society and our constitutional system of government to continue and sustain themselves, much less advance themselves, we cannot allow a fundamentalism of any kind to dominate our thinking, our political discourse.  Perhaps that is one reason I instinctually reject the idea of literal interpretations,of "original intent", be that applied to the Scripture or Constitution.  Besides, in both cases, perhaps as a result of the Enlightenment experience, we know that a rigid literalism was never the intent of either.  And in the case of the Constitution, it is a document that is a production of minds shaped far more by the Enlightenment than by any kind of religious fundamentalism.

I found the Carroll article useful, as I almost always find his columns useful. Should you read the entire piece, which I encourage you to do, I am sure you will also have your thinking provoked.  Perhaps you will not come to the same thoughts that I did.  That's fine.  I share my reactions because I believe they may, to a lesser degree than those of Carroll, also provoke your thinking.  And as a teacher, I always want my students to have their thinking challenged.  If they agree with me, AFTER THEY HAVE THOUGHT THINGS THROUGH, that's fine.  If not, then perhaps we can take some guidance from Carroll, and apply words that should be a part of any discourse wherein full agreement is not the initial state: Negotiation followed.

Peace.

Originally posted to teacherken on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 03:04 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  this first comment may sound familiar (113+ / 0-)

    I had not intendend to do a diary this morning.  Today I really need to get to school to get some copying done for today's classes.  But when I read the Carroll piece I felt that I must draw attention to it, and that I wanted to share some of my thoughts provoked by it.

    I hope at least a few of you find it of use.  Comment, mojo and/or recommend as you deem appropriate.

    I think it could serve as a vehicle for a discussion about fundamentalisms of all kind, but that's me.

    What about you?

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

    by teacherken on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 03:05:13 AM PDT

  •  now off for school - offline for 45+ minutes (8+ / 0-)

    will check back when I am in my classroom.  Enjoy.

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

    by teacherken on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 03:10:55 AM PDT

  •  to me (45+ / 0-)

    you hit the nail about literalism. i could go taoist or deconstructionist, but it all comes down to mistaking the map for the mountain. words are metaphors. wittgenstein's language games.

    you know how if you try to point something out to a dog, the dog will just stare at your pointing hand? that's literalism. fundamentalists are just staring at the hand.

    © 2007 because i needed a homepage, and the world needed another blogger...

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 03:20:25 AM PDT

  •  Jimmy Carter provides his multi-point (30+ / 0-)

    definition is his book Our Endangered Values.  He closes his list by saying:

    To summarize, there are three words that characterize this brand of fundamentalism: rigidity, domination, and exclusion.

    If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

    by hestal on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 03:20:43 AM PDT

  •  The history of the church has been (12+ / 0-)

    nothing if not this same negotiation through time.  Individuals and groups pierced its membranes, only to be reincorporated.  Think of Joan of Arc, or the Franciscans.  The same is true of ideas.  Sometimes they inhabit the cell of the church, but are expelled, like the idea of trial by fire, and sometimes the reverse occurs.

    For anyone to suggest that some values are permanent and non-negotiable is to belittle the human processes of faith itself.

    •  My concerns have always been with those (17+ / 0-)

      who are caught up in the battle, before the negotiations and integration begins.  How many millions have died, throughout history, as one or another form of fundamentalism asserted dominance and caught up its victims in the vise of conformity to some outlandish creed?

      Religious fundamentalism is always tossed aside by history.  Eventually.  Until the new fashion of excess takes hold.  Then women are oppressed,  children are recruited, or men are emasculated to feed the sociopathy of leaders with a need to dominate through their unique understanding.

      Political fundamentalism is always seen as foolish.  Eventually.  But the damage done to human growth and progress is impossible to access.  How much was lost?  Who was sacrificed?  Which turn taken could have been avoided?

      I stand for rationality, fact based evaluation, and a complete rejection of all forms of faith in anyone, or thing, that requires adherence to a set of inflexible rules or codes.

    •  "Through a glass darkly..." (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      berith, dirkster42, Cronesense, oxon

      "From age to age, generation to generation..." the essential messages of charity, peace and justice look differently in the context of society. But there are always those who cannot change. Today, change is taking place so much more quickly that (I charitably assume) some of the fundamentalists are just plain terrified.

      •  Someone I know once said: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Temmoku, Cronesense, oxon

        "Bigots live in the past, because they cannot control the present."

        The same can be said to apply to fundamentalists.

        •  I do believe the Bishops (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          oxon

          and current church Hierarchy were raised and educated in a system where a priest assumed total control of the parish or diocese. They are so used to having their every whim indulged that they cannot handle today's church. The very fact that there are so few clergy means that more and more of the administration of parishes goes to non-clerics, and that's a problem in itself. But having their dictates questioned is not something they can handle.

          •  But, (0+ / 0-)

            the second Vatican Council was held more than 40 years ago, so one would think that most priests have come up under those guidelines.

            Makes you wonder if Vatican 2 was successful at anything other than provoking backlash. Not an uncommon thing for any kind of reform movement.

            •  Amazingly (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              aitchdee, stitchmd

              the vast majority of Catholics are still in the spirit of Vatican II. It was a very effective reform. But there is a rock solid core of conservatives who still resist it, much like those conservatives in the US who want to revoke social security.

              And believe it or not, most of that core is over 65, and so were probably already priests during Vatican II.

    •  The Franciscans are an interesting example (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      howth of murph, oxon

      Scads of mendicant orders were censured and shut down by the Vatican before the Franciscans finally achieved legitimacy.  

      Seeing those who had come before them the Franciscans insisted on absolute orthodoxy in their theological expression (with the most borderline stances so enshrouded in symbolism and poetry as to be a poor target to persecution).  

      This is what allowed the Vatican to recognize them and in turn provide an outlet for the mendicant minded and escape the box it was in.

      I suspect that the Church is doing to have to do something similar, if it is to thrive in the West (which it could easily abandon instead).  Perhaps, it will seize upon the notion of choice of evils, a common mainline Protestant justification of compromise.  Perhaps, it will seize upon the notion of confession and forgiveness to escape the rigidity it is in (the classic Baptist response).  But, it needs to cast about for something.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

      by ohwilleke on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 10:26:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fundamentalists are akin to Luddites/Saboteurs (12+ / 0-)

    The future frightens them because they are mentally unable to cope and adapt. This fear is used by cynical leaders for their own gain. Fundamentalism, no matter its flavor, is a dead end philosophy and will eventually be rejected by the majority of people who desire to live their lives without faux moralists looking over their shoulder at their every action.

    Land in your hand you'll be happy on earth Then invest in the Church for your heaven.

    by Splicer on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 03:46:09 AM PDT

    •  But what about (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass, stitchmd, Spoc42, Splicer, va dare
      those people who are like lemmings?  They seemingly cannot function unless someone like a father figure (fundamentalism) tells them what to think, what to do, etc.  These people have no original thoughts, seemingly cannot act independently, and they are "lost" in life unless someone tells them what to do, how to act, how they should live, etc.

      Unfortunately there are a lot of people who are like that all across America.

      If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

      by Mz Kleen on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 04:28:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My suggestion for these people. (5+ / 0-)

        Get involved in BDSM. You'll find plenty of people, both men and women, who will be glad to tell you what to do - and you'll even get to call them Master Pete and Mistress Suzie. The added bonus is that leather smells good.

        Land in your hand you'll be happy on earth Then invest in the Church for your heaven.

        by Splicer on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 06:42:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  they are comfortable the way they are (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stitchmd, Spoc42, Cronesense, Boisepoet

        American prosperity does not foster independence. Ordinary people can get any kind of food at the grocery store, all winter long. They have perfect climate in their homes, warm in the winter, cool in the summer. Their survival depends on keeping some sort of "normal" job, looking "normal" when they show up at this job, etc. If they had to solve all the problems of how to store up enough food and wood to survive for a winter, they'd certainly be more independent. I'm not any different in many ways. I'm very comfortable here with my hi-speed internet connection & a bottomless pot of coffee.

        In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

        by Lefty Mama on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 09:04:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  and the Know Nothings n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Splicer
  •  fundamentalism (9+ / 0-)

    Is basically thought control.FAQ with a very limited databank.

    Blame God and you'll get away with anything.

    by langerdang on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 03:58:16 AM PDT

  •  It is all, when it comes down to it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, va dare

    about control.  The Pope sits in his chapel thinking of ways to keep his sheep in line. Build bigger churches, and control the birth rate thru no birth control. That control means that said church continues to grow. As with fundamentalism of any kind, the goal is to grow the populace and to keep said peoples in line. I am a free thinking person who does not want to limit my thoughts to any control by another person.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 04:22:10 AM PDT

    •  structure of thought undermines the sheeple thing (8+ / 0-)

      The Pope sits in his chapel thinking of ways to keep his sheep in line.

      Yet the structure of meaning in Catholicism, wherein meaning and truth are always already mediated by something else and there's no direct access to truth (as Carroll rightly points out, this is the key difference between fundies and bona fide catholics), undercuts the Pope's ability to exercise direct control.

      What Carroll is getting at, then, is that the centrality of mediation as the epistemic backbone of Catholicism enables the intellectualism and strong history of independent thought despite the hierarchical organization of the Church.

  •  And yet his Army of Priests get their (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andy30tx

    orders from the Pope.  So it is a top down operation. I am Catholic but I can't agree with the Pope on every issue. If the Pope or the Priest say that you can't have communion because you believe in abortion rights isn't that a form of control?

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 04:50:31 AM PDT

  •  I am not saying that Catholics are Fundies and (0+ / 0-)

    yet I see them starting to use some of the fundies methods to control. Yes the ideas are already set but only if the Pope doesn't change those set ideas. He can do that as Christs rep here on Earth.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 04:53:46 AM PDT

    •  Carroll writes from a Catholic perspective (16+ / 0-)

      which is not necessarily the same as the perspective of Benedict.  In fact he is arguing that Benedict misses a good deal of th import of Catholic history, such as when he refers to Aquinas.   Since the Summa was the basis of Catholic thought for more than half a Millenium, that's called "not playing fair" even as it is effective.

      I might note that the idea of papal infallibility is a 19th century invention (along with several other ideas such as Immaculate Conception).  I might also note that the first Pope (bishop of Rome) to function as a dictator of the church giving orders to secular rulers was not a Bishop of Rome, but rather of Milan - Ambrose.  And what is interesting is that he had previously been a civil authority, coming into the cathedral when there was a riot occurring during the attempted election of a bishop (yep - in RC church people used to elect their bishops) and when he came in a small boy shouted out something like "he looks like a bishop" and the crowd started chanting "Ambrose bishop".  He viewed it as the hand of God reaching down upon him.

      Some Bishops of Rome had to act in the absence of civil authority, such as when Leo came out to greet Attile and prevent the sack of Rome in 452.   Later you had Gregory the Great who had been civil administrator of Rome, retired, become a Benedictine monk when he was elected pope.   The role popes assumed had more to do with the collapse of civil authority in the areas of the western church - remember that the last Roman emperor in the west, Romulus Augustus, was killed at the Battle of Adrianople in 476.

      It seems that the progress that Rome made in Vatican II and under the leadership of John XXXIII has been lost under the two most recent popes.  

      The issue of fundamentalism that I am attempting to address is, however, far broader than that of the RC church.  I think, even though he focuses on the Pope, the same is true of the intent of Carroll.  Just my perspective.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

      by teacherken on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 05:15:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Catholic Faith has been hijacked... (8+ / 0-)

      Just as parts of the Baptist groups have been stolen. I went to my first civil rights symposium with a nun, marched against Viet Nam with a priest. (Whoops! Age revealed) But today, the far-right ideologues like Alito, Scalia, Mel Gibson, Pace, and Robert Novak (an Opus Dei and a convert) and the out-and-out bigots for cash like Donohue are giving the church a bad name. They don't represent Catholics in general, but somehow have a tacit understanding/truce with the hierarchy that isn't understandable to me. (Dan Brown wrote a strange scene in his book about this relationship that has a lot of truthiness.) It's almost as if they've decided that to preserve the fundamentalist core, they are willing to jettison 75% of the faithful--those who prioritize peace and justice along with other "life" issues.

  •  It has been an incredible thing to watch (5+ / 0-)

    over the past few deaces as the Republican strategists succeeding in takeing over the pulpit and shifting the direction of religious practice from deeds to words, from compassion to hate, usually involving the scapegoating of traditional minority subgroups like the poor of all things, but also of other subgroups like homosexuals and illegal immigrants.

    •  Not so sure but that it was the other way around (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee, Temmoku

      with the fundie churches hijacking the party. Goldwater saw it coming with the rise of Reagan and Falwell's 'Moral Majority'. If the Republicans had taken over the church's pulpits, there would be an admission fee at the door and the church workers would have to form a union just to get minimal benefits.

      Humanity will truly advance when all religion is finally seen as the mythology it is.

      by Boisepoet on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 10:57:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rove was not so stupid as to allow that happening (0+ / 0-)

        The Republican party took over the churches and used them to help divide the country, and take the presidency and Congress by a hair. But as I understand it, he was counting on that hair. Politics by division has been Republican since Reagan. Politics by unifying the country is the Democratic way. Hence their extremists and our centrists, at least since Clinton paved the way.

  •  I loved the diary and the editorial (10+ / 0-)

    I have often thought of fundamentalism, of all stripes, as the way very fearful or very vulnerable people control the chaos of the world.  They dig in deep, hunker down, and invest heavily in a dogma that shuts all the windows, locks all the doors and allows them to not make any decisions.  If you don't have the basics to sort through all the noise it must be a huge relief when someone or something promises to do it for you.  I say that w/ absolutely no sarcasm or mean spirit.  Being inundated by information you don't know how to process is scary.  Everybody wants to feel safe.  It's just that there are good ways and bad ways to get there.

    •  Fear is the key (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee, Spoc42, real world chick

      to understanding the fundamentalist mindset, I also believe.  In religion or politics.

      The instinctive need for a strongman, a daddy, someone to tell us what to do and what to believe.  This is the supreme irony:  the right wing has its adherents convinced that by surrendering their judgment they are demonstrating strength and that liberals are weak because they insist on reasonable explanations.  Only a mind occluded by fear could be susceptible to that sort of irrational (implied) argument.

      To pull this comment back on topic...as a former fundamentalist Christian I can say from experience, fear of burning in hell is a potent incentive to bury one's own judgment and cling to the admonitions of an authority figure.

    •  It depends where you live (0+ / 0-)

      Maybe if you live in Monsey you can be a sheep. But if you don't live in a homogeneous community it is one constant decision to keep the fence up against the temptations of the world.

  •  I disagree with the concept... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fly, tryptamine, Philoguy, dirkster42, Mae

    that new technology somehow threatens "old time religion".

    In fact, the advent of cable/satellite TV and the internet fosters the careers of the old-time religionists in ways that they could not have possibly imagined.

    Instead of having to go from place to place every week with their tents and their singers and their collection plates, these folks now have weekly shows on television  where they can disseminate their intentionally mindless messages (yes, mindless; they do NOT want their followers to actually think) and call for contributions.

    The internet is the place where they can, with impunity, post their anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-humanitarian screeds, "proving" that the earth is 6000 years old or whatever.

    Technology enables these charlatans to reach the vulnerable.

    The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it -- GB Shaw

    by kmiddle on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 06:29:58 AM PDT

    •  true, but other technologies (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine

      for example the ability to use stem cells, to explore the age of the universe, the layers of earth on our own planet, to study evolution - these types of technology and the knowlege we gain threaten the tenets of their fundamentalism.

      •  asdf... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca

        except the 'mindless' followers of these folks aren't listening.

        We have set up two opposing camps; one reality-based, the other not. The non-reality-based folks NEVER cross over to the other. The reality-based folks look at the non-reality-based information in order to counter it. But the non-reality-based folks are sticking their collective fingers in their collective ears and going "LALALALALALA, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!"

        The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it -- GB Shaw

        by kmiddle on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 08:37:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Technology most likely feeds and ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine

      supports the mega churches. Just google for sermons and you’ll be amazed. There’s an entire industry cranking these out along with complete programs and plans for preachers.

      Off topic: I read or heard recently that many of the fundies have problems even naming the books of the bible. They fall short on nearly every topic which would have been taught in the old time sunday schools. So it seems that they are far more like cults driven by their particular leader than religious organisations as we used to know them

      •  Wow, really? (0+ / 0-)

        I could name quite a few books in the Bible and I haven't even gone to Sunday school in about 15 years.

        •  Linky (7+ / 0-)

          Religious Ignorance in America ... More Than Literacy Lacking

          by Dr. Gerry Lower

          Given the resurgence of Old Testament Roman religion in the U.S. since World War II, the publication of Stephen Prothero's new book "Religious Literacy" (Harper, San Francisco) is most appropriate. It is a book whose message is rather sobering. "In spite of the fact that more than 90 percent of Americans say they believe in God, only a tiny portion of them knows a thing about religion" (1).

          It has not been difficult to demonstrate this religious ignorance. Most Americans cannot name "the four Gospels" or "the holy book of Islam" or "the first five books of the Hebrew Bible" or "the first five books of the Christian Old Testament". Neither can they name "the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism" or "a sacred text of Hinduism," nevermind Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism.

          We are not stupid in America. We are merely ignorant in a self-righteous sort of way, more or less wrapped up in ourselves as the world comes increasingly together around us. Prothero correctly believes that "Americans are selling themselves short by remaining ignorant about basic religious history and texts, by not knowing the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite."

          Religious Ignorance in America ... More Than Literacy Lacking

          •  I saw that book at Barnes & Noble (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tryptamine

            I am afraid I will just feel smug if I read it. I wonder how the levels of ignorance break out among those who think religion is good and those who think it is bad.

          •  This demonstrates clearly.... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fly, Temmoku

            ...religion is a social matter. Belief in a doctrine has little to do with it.

            Religion in America will decline when the sense of American exceptionalism declines, because in the end it is little more than a collective ego trip, the conviction of being God's Country (TM). Look at the way religion has collapsed in Canada, a country spared by relative insignificance from the delusion that it's the center of the world. Fifty years ago a greater proportion of people went to church in Canada than in the United States. Today, there's no statistical difference between the proportion of people in Canada who go to church regularly and the proportion who think The DaVinci Code is reliable history (and no, I don't know what the overlap in the two groups is).

            Through tattered clothes great vices do appear / Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. (King Lear)

            by sagesource on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 11:10:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  i can name all the books of the new testament (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tryptamine, 4jkb4ia, Temmoku

          from a song i learned in vacation bible school more than 40 years ago.

          and i can name all ten commandments too (the christian version), in case stephen colbert ever wants to ask me!

          Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
          IMPEACH CHENEY FIRST.

          by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 08:33:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Remember the Colbert Report segment (7+ / 0-)

        with the Georgia Congressman who wanted to put the 10 Commandments up in federal courthouses? When asked by Colbert to name the commandments, he could only come up with two.

        My wife (mostly secular Jew) and I (confirmed Lutheran, now atheist) could come up with 8 or 9 sitting one day at breakfast. I think the one we missed was about observing the Sabbath.

        Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

        by milkbone on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 07:36:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Charismatic Christianity is one term applied (0+ / 0-)

        to this phenomenon. It's amazing how many of them pick a church based solely on the charisma of the preacher.

        Humanity will truly advance when all religion is finally seen as the mythology it is.

        by Boisepoet on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 11:02:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "charismatic" in the Christian church actually (0+ / 0-)

          refers specifically to various "gifts of the holy spirit," e.g. speaking in tongues--it's a "spiritual" charisma, if you will :)

          God bless our tinfoil hearts.

          by aitchdee on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 12:14:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was reading one article years ago that noted (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            aitchdee

            the way the crowds in many churches responded to the charisma of the ministers more than the ideology, and likened it to multi-level marketing, (or as it has also been coined "charismatic capitalism"). The author called it CC based on that premise.

            The more charismatic the minisiter, the more likely the church would grow, the more buildings and services they could offer their flock, the more proud the members would be, etc. It especially hit home for me when a number of peers would tell me why they picked a particular non-denominational church; they really liked the preacher and the way he made them feel. In those churches score 'Slick Willy' 1, 'Holy Spirit' 0,  

            Humanity will truly advance when all religion is finally seen as the mythology it is.

            by Boisepoet on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 12:40:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Science does not require technology (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee

      it is a way of thinking about and exploring the world. Technology is applying natural law to objects in order to create ever-more-sophisticated tools. Fundies have a remarkable propensity to diss science while freely availing themselves of its fruits when convenient.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 10:28:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think it goes to the claim... (6+ / 0-)

    Fundamentalism of any stripe is dangerous.

    Islamic or Christian or Shinto or Buddhism or...

    Fundamentalism requires people to stop thinking and to take everything on faith, and the problem is, that "faith" is what a few people say it should be.

    -6.5, -7.59. All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this life; harm is also returned three fold.

    by DrWolfy on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 06:31:41 AM PDT

    •  You forgot another important religion: (5+ / 0-)

      Market fundamentalism.

      Seriously though, what exactly do Buddhist fundamentalists do? Set themselves on fire to protest wars?  

      "A triviality is a statement whose opposite is false; a great truth is one whose opposite is another great truth." -- Niels Bohr

      by Autarkh on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 06:35:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Fundamentalism definition (0+ / 0-)

      (2nd definition):  a movement or attidue stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles (Merriam-Webster's 11th edition)

      From Carroll's column:

      Some fundamentalists pursue openly political agendas (Northern Ireland, Israel, Iran). Some are apolitical (Latin American Pentecostalism). In war zones (Sudan, Afghanistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka), fundamentalism is energizing conflict. Most notably, the warring groups in Iraq have jelled around fundamentalist religion.

      The RR will be appalled when they discover that they have more in common with, say, Muslim fundamentalists than with other Christian mainstream religions. The process of relying on authority, use of language and metaphor (see George Lakoff's work for much more detail) is a common approach for both.

      Thanks, teacherken, for yet another great diary!

      "You can count on Americans to do the right thing after they've tried everything else." -- Winston Churchill

      by bleeding heart on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 08:03:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  they may not be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aitchdee

        Dinesh D'Souza makes exactly the connection in his latest book (I have not read - only read about it in summaries) - that he might prefer having a beer or going to a ballgame with Michael Moore but that ultimately he has more in common with an Egyptian fundamentalist cleric than he does with a secular liberal.

        Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

        by teacherken on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 08:07:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Authoritarianism (14+ / 0-)

    I think any examination of fundamentalism has to include the psychology of Authoritarianism.  Namely that there are people who want that kind of certitude, however unreasonably it seems to others.

    Readers would do very well to see the freely available online book by Bob Altemeyer, Professor of psychology at the University of Manitoba.

    •  He will also (8+ / 0-)

      be here on dKos on the 24th (in a diary hosted by abbeysbooks) to talk about it.  Should be an interesting discussion, to say the least.  

      I still haven't read it myself but I curse the things that are keeping me from it.

    •  Yes...Authoritarianism is the force behind (9+ / 0-)

      all Fundamentalist movements. It is the fear of the perceived inadequacy of their belief system that causes the resurgence of Fundamentalist movements. A clah of modernity, globalism with what they belive are their core values. Fundamentalists don't realize that their beliefs were once the "new" and "avant garde" but now have become "old".
      In order to "restore" tradition and their percieved attack on their religion, they resort to a return to the Authoritarian viewpoint. In that way, anyone who disagrees with them or their beliefs is guilty of apostacy and desreves death since they aren't really "alive" but a tool of the devil or demonic. It isn't enough that their new Fundamentalism has incorporated the new technology or ideas that go with the modern world, they have tried to define the "new" in their Fundamentalist terms thus creating all kinds of conflicting ideas, statements and postions that are hard to reconcile. For example, the idea of the Bible as truth and the "word of God" when the New testament was written well after the death of Jesus and much in it is contradictory.... either he is loving and forgiving or he advocates the murder of his enemies, either he died for our sins, a redeemer, or he wants to separate the wheat from the chaff and destroy the unbelievers.
      Back to the Authoritarianism of this "new" Fundamentalism, it makes it easier for people to believe in this fashion so that the contradictions are not pointed out and so that anyone who does point them out is a non-believer. It also dictates a walling-off of what is happening in the modern world (ie global warming) because it is all God's Will and  one shoulf not question of challenge or doubt. This in turn  means that those who encourage children or anyone to think for themselves are really the agents of Satan because independent thinking will bring out the contradictions in the Word of God. And that must not be allowed. Which is why the school system is under attack as well as the court system, because those are the main institutions of Secular Humanism. The "buzz words" have become a mantra to point out the apostates of the world. By their words are they identified and labelled and excluded from the Fundamentalist Fold. They are turned off and not listened to.
      It is almost reasuring to know that this is a "passing phase" in Religious thought world wide...but it is not reassuring when we consider how long it may last.

      Great diary...Thanks, it is a little early for this thinking stuff...I do so like to be told what to think in the morning.

      All I want from Congress is...IMPEACHMENT!

      by Temmoku on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 07:12:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The good news, as pointed out in the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        abbeysbooks, Temmoku

        online book, is that Fundamentalism, along with it's ideological heir, Evangelism, is subject to self-destruction. After the Scopes 'Monkey Trial', Fundamentalism got such a bad name that it virtually disappeared until Billy Graham in the '50s, at which point it began expanding into it's present-day size and power. But even then, it wouldn't have mattered except that the 'Double Highs' discovered that this group is highly susceptible to manipulation due to their innate dogmatism, ethnocentrism, uncritical loyalty, and ferocious defensiveness. Hopefully, they have reached their peak and will simply fade away.

        Another thing the Fundamentalists have working against them is that they lose about half of each 'crop' of young fundamentalists (raised in the religion) due to the hypocrisy and internal contradictions of their dogma (about half the youngsters 'come to their senses'). This situation forces them to constantly recruit new members to make up for the 50% who leave. With exposure and bad publicity, I suspect that, like with the Scopes Monkey Trial, fewer people will be lured into fold. There is hope!

        -6.38/-3.79::'A man is incapable of comprehending any argument that interferes with his revenues.' Descartes

        by skrymir on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 10:14:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the link (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      abbeysbooks, Scientician

      After reading the intro and 1st chapter, I am looking forward to the rest of the book.  It will be very helpful to have some sort of objective measure of the authoritarian personality.  

      •  That's what is so great about it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Temmoku, kamakirii

        We now have operational definitions that allow us to measure their mindset and their actual behavior. The beauty is that this work has been highly academic for 30 years or more and has not filtered out into the mainstream until John Dean's book Conservatives Without Conscience when he dug around and found Altemeyer's work. This has allowed it to quietly become correlated with many other behaviors and tests without becoming corrupted by familiarity. Sort of like the IQ tests which are not publicized unless you take a course in administering the WISC or WAIS or Stanford-Binet or the MMPI and a bunch of others. It has been studied with the Global Change Game and this is blood curdling. How about the Briggs-Meyer and the RWA? The possibilities are endless.

        Because it has been so low key people have not learned to censor themselves when they say things in quotes so we have enormous amounts of information about all sorts of people that allow us to put nice neat labels on their thinking behavior and their actions. Like what would you expect from a double high like Bush?

        This is where it is going to be a time bomb for us at kos when we get it down how to use it to describe certain people. Like Lieberman for example. Now all we need are quotes from him to match up with the items from the SD and RWA scales. And we can nail him as to how he would respond in the Global Change Game or to jump into reality, how he would handle world problems in a power position. Now that is scary.

        •  yes, scary (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          abbeysbooks, Temmoku

          but, for the reasons you enumerate, potentially extremely useful.

          Since this model is not "corrupted by familiarity," RWA's are not able to (consciously or subconsciously) self-censor their responses in order to blend in to the scenery.

          Maybe we should stop talking about it? ;>p

          •  In a way it's too late for them (0+ / 0-)

            To stop talking that way will precipitate a linguistic change. No one wants to say things that label them a psychopath or sociopath. The RWA's are not really going to get it but the SD's and the double highs will really have no place to run when their clothes are torn off them. And I am going to do it first to the TV program 24 and its creator. It is a psychopathic creation that liberals also enjoy. Kiefer Sutherland is a very progressive voting person but he stars in this frightening program. And it is responsible for much of the torturing that has gone on because it is admired. And very much so by our military.

            But what do words of condemnation mean when it is reviewed or discussed. Not much. OH, it's just entertainment, that's all. But it's not. It is a projection by it's creator of his inner mind and thinking. It is not as brilliant as the Global Change Game, but it is influential. It is pathological in the same way as Schiele's drawings but not at the same level of art.

        •  well, that's all fine and dandy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          abbeysbooks

          so we have enormous amounts of information about all sorts of people that allow us to put nice neat labels on their thinking behavior and their actions.

          But it makes me a little ill, frankly. Let's not forget, in all our brilliant quantitative studies and our delighted scientific labeling, that these people are people--irreducible, individual people--too. People with hearts and minds and unique qualities. They're not bugs on a slide.

          Golly, let us not become the facists we despise.

          God bless our tinfoil hearts.

          by aitchdee on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 12:27:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Respectfully, I don't see the link (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            poemless

            between 1. expanding and refining our intellectual categories which allow us to more usefully think about certain issues and 2. becoming fascists.

            Liberal Elites think you are stupid;
            Conservative Elites are counting on it.

            by kamakirii on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 01:09:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  forgive me but, but this kind of intellectual (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              abbeysbooks

              gobbledygook,

              expanding and refining our intellectual categories which allow us to more usefully think about certain issues

              leaves me cold. Sure it's a means by which to think about human beings--among many academics, it's virtually the only means--it's also a bald rationalization for objectifying individual human beings; I mean I hope you realize it's just this kind of cool intellectual calculating out of which has manifested all kinds of social schemes you probably loathe--the pet neocon notion of the philosopher king and the unlettered masses, for one. With all respect to you, I'm not a fan of it. And I am far, far, far from the only one.

              I enjoy many of abbeysbooks comments but this one, to my mind, illustrate precisely the dangers of removing the individual human element from our public spheres--especially in the hallowed halls of academia (with which I obviously have no love lost). See my other post to this thread here.

              God bless our tinfoil hearts.

              by aitchdee on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 01:39:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  intellectual gobbledygook (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Rebecca, aitchdee, abbeysbooks

                is preferable to anti-intellectual gobbledygook.

                The ability to categorize is the ability to think in a (as far as we know) peculiarly human manner.  To separate things and ideas into classes and types, to distinguish the present moment from the past and project possible futures.  

                And yes, I understand the neocon (and neoliberal), platonist "noble lie" justification.  And no,  I don't subscribe to it.  See my sig.  But setting human beings outside the category of acceptable things in the world to which we are allowed to apply our rational faculties is, to my mind, unsupportable and leaves us with no way to evaluate behavior, motives, utterances--anything.

                Let me restate in a less gobbledygooky manner:  Clear thinking does not lead to fascism.  Quite the opposite.  Mushy thinking is what leads us, defenseless, down blood-soaked blind alleys.

                Liberal Elites think you are stupid;
                Conservative Elites are counting on it.

                by kamakirii on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 02:15:35 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not sure what I said that advocates for (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kamakirii

                  mushy thinking--for the record, I don't (au contraire). I do advocate for academia to reestablish--re-sanctify, if you will--the human (qualitative) element in its scholarly thinking--which is indeed beginning to occur. You sound like a smart person; surely you realize clinical measurement tells only half the tale. I wouldn't learn much about you as a person--an individual with a heart and mind and hopes and aspirations-- from a quantitative study about dailykos members.

                  I'd never find out who, in eight grade, was your best friend or which bear in Kindergarten was your most beloved--nor why either were important to you. And it's just that kind of concrete, irreducible detail (which quantitative studies dismiss as irrelevant) that make all the difference in human affairs. (It's one reason why we bother to teach literature.) Indeed it's the details that make us human--to ourselves and to each other; you can look at a study about fundies and say--wow, statistically, they're overwhelmingly authoritarian (or whatever). But that tells you precious little about what makes them human; and that, after all, is the first bulwark against fascism: remembering (and remembering never to forget) our shared humanity--especially of those we oppose.

                  I'm not saying ditch one for the other; I'm saying: do both (and keep both in mind while you're doing the other).

                  good, thoughtful post - not gobbledygook :-)

                  God bless our tinfoil hearts.

                  by aitchdee on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 02:59:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I believe that we (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    aitchdee

                    have found common ground.

                    I'm not saying ditch one for the other; I'm saying: do both (and keep both in mind while you're doing the other).

                    Thanks for the discussion.  The wife is calling me to dinner now (a dinner that I cooked--shouldn't I get to decide when to eat it?).

                    Peace to you.

                    Liberal Elites think you are stupid;
                    Conservative Elites are counting on it.

                    by kamakirii on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 03:28:05 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Please read in his book the parts (0+ / 0-)

                about the Global Change Game and you won't be thinking of them in the same way anymore. You will be able to understand them and their behavior and see what a terrible threat they are to the planet. And they cannot be convinced otherwise no matter how many facts or examples you put in front of their nose.

                Please read at least that part of the book.

                http://www.theauthoritarians.com

                •  I'm reading it now- (0+ / 0-)

                  someone (you?) gave a link to the book online.

                  Abbey, be very careful with that "they" you're slinging around kinda willy-nilly here. Seriously. I could swear somewhere in your posting history you've issued similar warnings yourself.

                  God bless our tinfoil hearts.

                  by aitchdee on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 03:11:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  I suggest you read Altemeyer's book (0+ / 0-)

            first and then we will be able to discuss your comment more fully. I think the fundamentalists are not so highly evolved mentally. Or as Freud would say they are using repression to a great degree. And repression is the more primitive of the defense mechanisms. As is denial. Then you get into rationalization which seems to be my favorite one.

            They also use projection a lot and that is one of the more primitive ones. Jung has a lot to say about that one.

            They tend to be robotic in their thinking, want to follow a leader, mix facts up and remember wrong or insufficiently, are incapable of logical thinking and accept a conclusion because they agree with it rather than see that the process of getting to that conclusion is erroneous so they can't reject it.

            Sheeples. And then there are the psychopaths who lead them and that's what we are seeing. But I am using terminology that can't be proved one way of the other. The above terminology can be just put down as my opinion rather than factual.

            Ah, but then you get into Altemeyer's operational definitions and it is a whole new ball game. For example you can say someone is not very smart. And that means nothing. But if they have taken an IQ test and scored 90 you can say something about their thinking processes and if you go into the subtests you can assess strengths and weaknesses, or even specific superiorities.

    •  The book every progressive should read! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      abbeysbooks, Scientician, Temmoku

      I read every chapter he has up, and I found it absolutely compelling. And true. I suspect the terms 'High RWA' High Social Dominance', and 'Double Highs' are going to become part of the progressive vocabulary very soon. Mind-blowing research, to say the least. Just wait until the Rethugs read this - I just hope the author has tenure.

      -6.38/-3.79::'A man is incapable of comprehending any argument that interferes with his revenues.' Descartes

      by skrymir on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 10:00:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please be here this Friday the 24th (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skrymir

        When Altemeyer and John Dean will be with us to discuss all this in the comments section.

      •  he does (0+ / 0-)

        and he's retiring soon.

        Plus, he works at a Canadian university.  Which I'm sure they will try and use as a point against him.  some kind of smearing talking point that he's so incompetent he couldn't find work in America or some such.

        •  I was more worried that Steven Harper (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Scientician

          and his Alberta Taliban will come after him. Plus, the conservatives in Manitoba are some of the most backward religious nuts in the country.

          -6.38/-3.79::'A man is incapable of comprehending any argument that interferes with his revenues.' Descartes

          by skrymir on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 11:20:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's possible... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            skrymir

            We'll see.  They might try and concoct some kind of "hate-speech" prosecution (persecution) of him for the book.  But that will only serve to expand his audience and put the book into the mainstream.

            This is a fight conservatives should not want.

            Also, I suppose there is some personal risk of assassination to Altemeyer.  Hopefully not.

            •  More likely they cut off funding to the (0+ / 0-)

              University to pressure him to leave. Or challenge his legal status in Canada (he's an American). And I hope he doesn't have plans for any air travel through the States for the next few years(the Arar case).

              -6.38/-3.79::'A man is incapable of comprehending any argument that interferes with his revenues.' Descartes

              by skrymir on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 12:30:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  excellent find (7+ / 0-)

    i love reading about this stuff.

    i did a 25 page paper in seminary on american fundamentalism.  Having witnessed the SBC takeover by the fundies in the 80's with my "closet moderate" father in the baptist church, i take keen interest in these kinds of articles.

    I've always thought of fundamentalist's, to borrow from  Jean Piaget, as people stuck in the concrete operationalist mode of cognitive development. hence the need to think of all things in absolute terms.

    Viva la Open Source! Download Mozilla Firefox and leave explorer forever!

    by circuithead on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 06:48:21 AM PDT

    •  I also grew up (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Temmoku

      in the SBC and watched its transformation from a spiritual movement into a political tool.  I have watched my gentle, strong father feel compelled to hide his wisdom and better nature in a kind of bewildered obstinance; to become a kind of split-personality, moral and honest in his personal life, yet somehow feeling honor-bound to support political thugs whose actions he could never countenance.

      He was the one who always taught me, "by their fruits you shall know them," yet the evil fruit borne by these tyrants is ignored.

      Perhaps part of the key to the Christian fundamentalist psychology is revealed in another Bible verse, Matthew 18:3--

      "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

      This not only legitimizes the authoritarian personality, but makes it compulsory if taken literally.

  •  Fundamentalism has ruined (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority, dirkster42, va dare

    so many people's spiritual lives. I am, as they say, "a grateful, recovering alcoholic." Someone shared last night at a meeting how his church spurned him after he admitted his alcoholism. What is wrong with these people? It's as if their compassion gene has been turned off.

  •  Nice diary, but ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Bob, Temmoku, Its any one guess

    And to be skewering in a bi-partisan fashion (and here this may get me flamed) there are those on the left whose total rejection of religious orientation as any kind of motivation despite its important history in things like the progressive and civil rights movements represents its own kind of fundamentalism, one of "pure rationality."

    I'm sorry, but I don't understand why you felt the need to include this in your diary.

    First of all, its "false equivalence". Take 50 examples from the pro-religious, take one anti-religious example, and then declare "a pox on both your houses".

    Secondly, this statement reeks of the Fox straw-man argument or condemn it. In either case, the pro-religious framing of the issue wins out.

    I know there are anti-religious zealots out there (Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins come to mind), but lets see concrete examples of their so-called "fundamentalism" before lumping them in with the rest.

    I'm sure you're asking, "why so touchy?" Just remember that survey Kos loves to post where people are asked if an otherwise well-qualified candidate were something (divorced, aged 72, a woman, etc.). The most-hated/least-trusted demographic polled? Atheists.

    Perhaps if they included convicted felons and pederasts in the poll we wouldn't be in last place.

    Perhaps.

    (-7.00, -5.18)
    Hopelessly pedantic since 1963.

    by admiralh on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 07:20:35 AM PDT

    •  I include it because there are fundamentalists (3+ / 0-)

      of a sort here, on more than a few issues.  Sorry you take offense, but more than a few of us who are driving by spiritual values or faith have encountered such rigidity here.  That others may be intolerant towards you does not give you the right to be intolerant towards us.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

      by teacherken on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 07:50:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't object to you including it ... (4+ / 0-)

        I object to the way you included it (false equivalence and such). I would be a hypocrite if I had insisted you not include it (rationality and all that). Sorry I didn't make myself clear.

        You have criticisms of what you feel is an overly dogmatic attitude some atheists around here (and the left in general) have. Fine. Then please explain how this threatens your way of life one-tenth or even one-hundredth as much as the Christan fundamentalists do.

        And BTW, I'm really tired of being told that I have to "tolerate" religious values while at them same time many (not all, I understand) have zero tolerance of time. I don't want to be the stereotypical bitter atheist, but these attitudes from my supposed political allies really starts to grate.

        OK, I didn't initially intend for this to be such a rant. But I thought I was providing valid criticism in a relatively non-apressive way, and instead got told I needed to be more "tolerant".

        I'm going to stop now, before I post something I'll regret later.

        Peace.

        (-7.00, -5.18)
        Hopelessly pedantic since 1963.

        by admiralh on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 08:16:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  but you are now stating something I didn't (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aitchdee, viriginia liberal

          regardless of how you choose to interpret Carroll - and me - in no way was my argument premises on my believing that fundamentalists were threatening my life.  I start with a much more basic premise - that they undercut the necessary dialog and adjustments essential in a diverse society / world.   And since that is my focus,is is hardly a false equivalence to point out that any refusal to listen to a viewpoint other than your own is destructive of the polity I hope to see.

          If you still do not grasp that, then I guess we will have to agree to disagree about both my intent and my expression.  I think you are reading into my words something that is not there, and clearly was not intended.

          Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

          by teacherken on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 08:25:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  My Objection (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sagesource, poemless

        Is that if we are to be a secular society, we do have to reject religious faith as a rationale for public policy.  I don't care nor mind if someone arrives at his progressive values through religious faith, but there should never, ever be a law enacted based on people's religious beliefs.  The logic of this is self-evident.

        •  and that is the distinction (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Boris Godunov

          the person may decide to support something because of faith orientation, one that opens him up to something otherwise alien, as many were opened up to Civil Rights as a matter of religious conviction.  But the formation of the public policy needs to be done independently, and in our system must somehow find a rooting in a Constitution that in its original formulation prohibited religious tests for any office or benefit under the Constitution and in its 1st Amendment banned establishment at the national level and similarly guaranteed free exercise.

          But while the official formulation must be independent of religion, that does not mean that the discussions leading to that formulation cannot be informed by religious perspectives, and to refuse to allow them to be part of the discussion is as problematic as those who would ban anything except their own faith perspective.

          Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

          by teacherken on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 01:10:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  American Fascists (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, dirkster42, va dare, Temmoku

    I'm reading the book by this title right now.  The author says, basically, we are in grave danger of reaching a total overthrow of our governmental system.  The 'dominionists' are in power and they have been working to this end for the last 30 or 40 years.   They are akin to those who created totalitarian states in russia, Germany, Italy and s on.  The author says we are now in a comparable point of time to that of Germany in the 20's and 30's.  The Fundamentalists have successfully twisted language to have opposite meanings (such as 'Liberty and 'Freedom' now to mean we must be dominated by a Christian set of values).

    I have yet to finish the book but it is something worth thinking about, just how far they will take this if we let them.

    •  Yes...I just finished it... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Janosik

      He had quite a feww salient points about the need for the Auroitarians to take over our basic institutions.
      Although he didn't comment on it, I bet he would even point out that the term "serve at the pleasure of the President" is a typical Fundamentalist phrase which has been hijacked by this administration to make Bush appear to be godly or majestic as opposed to the "unitary executive" which is rapidly losing favor. But they both connotate royalty and majesty.

      All I want from Congress is...IMPEACHMENT!

      by Temmoku on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 07:47:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Jesus and the Fundies of His Day (8+ / 0-)

    ... the Pharisees and their ilk .... had many disagreements.  I find the "red letters" in the Gospels very interesting because Jesus is oftentimes addressing those who are directly opposed to His views AND are using God's own words to fortify their position.

    It is interesting that the fundies of that age were in total opposition to the Enlightenment of Christianity, that is, the relationship between a mortal human being and a spiritual God comes not from a rigid set of rules.  

    As a recovering fundamentalist, at first I felt that I was being forever damned to hell for not holding absolutely sacred every word of the Bible.  I was told that if I didn't believe EVERY word of the Bible, then I couldn't believe any word of the Bible.  I could not just "pick and choose".  Being "threatened" with eternal damnation was/is very powerful.

  •  The appeal of fundamentalism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aitchdee, va dare, kamakirii

    in this country has always been strong. Sometimes I think that we have never gotten over our sense of Manifest Destiny.  But I think that American Fundies experience times of growth and power when we as a country are fearful.  The fear may be caused by uncertainity, by great technological-intellectual-scientfic growth periods, and by cultural shifts.  Me personally, I'm a Harry Emerson Fosdick Christian - a Riverside Church Christian.  If you have the time, read"Shall the Fundamentalists Win?" written by Fosdick in 1922. It's as true today as it was then.

    dress for dinner and be discreet.

    by moodyinsavannah on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 07:35:24 AM PDT

    •  Your post reminded me (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Temmoku, moodyinsavannah

      I was reminded by your post of a quote from the beginning of The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft:

      The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

      I'm simply not sure which way we will end up going, but the fundamentalists are definitely aiming for the second option!

  •  I'm halfway through Carroll's "House of War"... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, aitchdee, 4jkb4ia, va dare, Temmoku

    I'm listening to it on CD during my commute.  It's a brilliant work on so many levels.  It's particularly effective b/c Carroll reads it himself in an understated style.

    Carroll is a classic illustration of what's wrong w/ the contemporary Church.  The man really thinks about things. He tries to apply Gospel values to contemporary issues.  He tries to put his own life experiences into a broader context.

    As is exemplified by his quoting of a Papal Encylical in his op-ed piece, Carroll also takes the Church seriously on its own terms.  He's visibly trying to show respect for Catholic traditions.  He's looking for some sense of historical continuity.

    Unfortunately, Carroll seems to be as much out of place in the Catholic Church of Benedict XVI as a beer keg at a Baptist meeting.  The windows that John XXIII opened during Vatican II are being shut and padlocked.  Reflection and discernment are openly discouraged.

    For close to 30 years now, I've generally had 1 foot in and 1 foot out of the Church.  The visible leaning towards W that many in the American hierarchy showed in 2004 really pushed me away.  The points raised here by Carroll will probably push me even further.

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 07:44:04 AM PDT

  •  Ugh (6+ / 0-)

    "there are those on the left whose total rejection of religious orientation as any kind of motivation despite its important history in things like the progressive and civil rights movements represents its own kind of fundamentalism, one of 'pure rationality.'"

    I wish we could retire this canard, which is a longer version of: atheists are fundamentalists too! Check out the definition of fundamentalism. It doesn't fit because atheism (or agnosticism) certainly doesn't represent a "Movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles," among other things. You get two atheists in a room and they could very easily disagree on everything except the existence of god: there's no equivalent of the Bible for us, no religious authority handing down a set of rules to be adhered to strictly or otherwise.

    Also, I'm not sure what it even means to reject "religious orientation as any kind of motivation." I do reject it for me personally, but that can hardly be objectionable because I'm entitled to my own belief system. And I'm not sure it's possible for me to reject it for anyone else, but it's surely an unattractive idea. Everyone else is entitled to their own belief system too. If others are motivated by religion, I think that's great -- provided they're not motivated to impose their beliefs on me.

    But atheists and agnostics are not fundamentalist. By definition.    

    •  Hey - I did not universalize what I said (6+ / 0-)

      there are some atheists on the left who reject any role for religion, spirituality, faith.  There are some here.  There have been people attacked here for discussing how their faith motivates them to be progressive Democrats.  And I'm sorry, your definition is not true - someone who insists on imposing a rigid interpretation, even if that rigid determination excludes god, is a fundamentalist, even as some who discuss things absent the official religious sphere, such as those who insist on no government intervention in the perfect mechanisms of the market are fundamentalists.  For me, a fundamentalist is anyone who starts with a rigid belief system and is unwilling to allow reality to interfere.  Not a great definition, but one that I think points at the larger truth which Carroll addresses.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

      by teacherken on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 08:11:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No (5+ / 0-)

        Under your view, any strongly-held belief is fundamentalist. That's overbroad and therefore inadequate. Fundamentalism, by definition, requires the rigid interpretation of a set of principles or beliefs. Atheism doesn't even have a set of principles or beliefs to interpret strictly. It's not designed to because atheism isn't a complete worldview like Christianity. All atheism requires is a lack of belief in god. Atheists must find their values elsewhere because the concept itself doesn't provide them. In the end, the narrow ground atheism covers -- the mere lack of a god-belief -- precludes fundamentalism.

        •  Agree, and atheists can even pull values from... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poemless, Boris Godunov, ezdidit

          religious texts, absent the supernatural and rigid dogma aspect. As an atheist I look at the Christian bible as an accumulation of wisdom on how to conduct yourself personally and in a group. 'Love thy neighbor as you love thyself' is a good way to conduct yourself, and being an atheist doesn't mean I reject that or many other premises of the Bible. However, the belief in the supernatural is what leads many fundies and non-fundies alike to push their agenda upon the non-believers as they try to enact God's law upon the earth in an attempt to save the souls we do not have.

          Humanity will truly advance when all religion is finally seen as the mythology it is.

          by Boisepoet on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 11:25:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I forgot to mention that Atheists are not stuck (0+ / 0-)

            in the 1st or 6th centuries either. To dismiss that values have advanced since then to include more people (such as women!) is to deny our own humanity.

            Humanity will truly advance when all religion is finally seen as the mythology it is.

            by Boisepoet on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 11:55:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  neither are most fundamentalists (0+ / 0-)

              taking a literal interpretation of the King James version is hardly 1st century.   In fact, modern American Christian fundamentalism is larger of 20th century derivation.  That in no way diminishes how it can be properly labelled as fundamentalism.  Some fundamentalisms will CLAIM to be returning to an early time, a set of earlier principles, but often that is based on inaccurate translation or interpretation of the texts on which they rely.

              Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

              by teacherken on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 01:15:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Which in almost all cases are very old texts... (0+ / 0-)

                usually geographic specific, culturally biased, chauvinistic and not integrated with much of the progress humanity has made in the last 300 years.

                Interpretation is another matter altogether since criticism of a "leader's" interpretation is often seen as challenging the word of the god itself. This of course, puts a damper on the discussion.

                Humanity will truly advance when all religion is finally seen as the mythology it is.

                by Boisepoet on Tue Mar 20, 2007 at 11:37:06 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  nope - again you are parsing in a particular way (0+ / 0-)

          that is not my intent -  and even by your definition, rigid interpretation of a set of principles or beliefs, totally banning any mention of religion is rigid -  if, as some atheists do they insist on expelling religion from the public square, that is a form of rigidity to which I would append the term fundamentalist.

          We will have to agree to disagree.

          Oh, and by the way, while I am a Quaker, I am agnostic as to the question of God.

          Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

          by teacherken on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 01:12:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  seems to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    va dare

    the real evil as usual comes from the top down.

    Fundamentalism causes a mindset where people begin to look for "the enemy within" (eg, anyone who listens to coulter/limbaugh et al).  It's easy to become angry with friends/family who buy into such axiomatic world views, and what a spoil for the leaders to teach them to think this way - kind of takes the focus off them and their deadly motives, which are to divide and conquer the people.

    The fact that the papacy now is wielding the divide/conquer message only makes me wonder how tight they might be with the GOP.  It is exemplary of so much manipulation of the masses.  I think a lot of recent black ops have been dedicated to spurring on such a mindset in people of all kinds of religions.  Don't mean to go CT on you, just saying that there is a lot of intentional manipulation of people's religiosity these days.  And it's the kind of thing where nature bids us to look at the effect (people) when we really should be lifting our eyes off the magic show and seeing the puppeteers for who and what they are.  That is the challenge.  Because it is the intention of the manipulative ruling class (Rove et al) to set us to fighting with one another.

    At least when I come to DKos for information, I get just that, instead of screeds about the individuals at the bottom who are being manipulated by Rovian tactics to rail at their fellow citizens ("Libruls").  May this community cleave to that kind of ethic.

    For anyone interested, there has been a lot of intentional manipulation of the US churches dating back to the '80's, and the attached link(s) give a back story to our current dilemna.

    Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse. - Adlai E. Stevenson

    by stonemason on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 08:05:29 AM PDT

  •  ::flames:: (5+ / 0-)

    You were right about the flames. (:  I have to respectfully disagree with you about the fundamentalism of the lack of religion.  A lot of people (this is no straw man; I will point you to Judah haLevi's Kuzari for a similar view) like to label atheism a "religion" mostly because everyone has to have some religion, since religion is a component of character, and therefore atheism is that religion.  I'm not saying that you have made that (I think) erroneous step, but your conclusion shares some of the equivalence.

    I agree with you that religion is useful for the reasons you gave (civil rights support, etc.), but whether it's useful doesn't affect whether it's right -- then we run into something like Dostoevsky's Ivan Karamazov's Grand Inquisitor's conflict with Jesus, one arguing for religion as Law and the other as Good (or Order and Love, if you prefer), except here it's Useful versus Correct.  Being inspired to act by a book is fairly unexceptional, though I'm inspired more by Howard Zinn than by the Bible.  I just don't see why I need to believe in some kind of supernatural pasta creature (and his noodly appendages) to inspire my decisions.  There's no faith acting here -- no deeply held convictions that THAT book and no other book contains the right answers -- and therefore nothing resembling fundamentalism.  A "rationalist" fundamentalism, I think, would look more like Judah haLevi's depiction of the Philosopher in his Kuzari: logical deductions that look reasonable but are in fact based on faulty assumptions somewhere.

    Since the times of Aristotle, science has become more observational and more empirical, so it's reasonable to base one's perception of the world on one's perception of the world instead of on some fantasy book or epic (not that there's anything wrong with fantasy books and epics, of course).  There's nothing radical about not believing what you read; I'm sure that most members of any one religion will not treat the divine revelations of another as worthy of consideration.  This isn't "I break with tradition and all who do not are infidels"; it's "I have no (faith-like) concern for your traditions except when they concern me."

    But most importantly, just because I have no reason to make decisions based on the (extended) epic of Abraham doesn't mean that people who do make decisions on the epic of Abraham don't sometimes make correct ones, like in the case of civil rights, though oftentimes they make extremely incorrect ones, like in the case of exterminating all of the world's native peoples (well, most of them).  It's amazing what some people do because they like stories.

    •  I don't think the difficulty is over (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee

      whether or not atheism is a religion.  People have the right to label what they are themselves.  The problem comes when a few of the atheists on this board say things like "religion has no place in politics."  If the standard for a rational policy is that no religion can be used to defend it, even when the defense is being made in places where a religious defense is best suited to the audience, then you have reached the fundamentalist wing of atheism.  As long as Christian, Jew, Buddhist, atheist, etc. are talking with each other and respecting each other, none has reached fundamentalist stature.

      •  This is wrong (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, sagesource

        As I've said below and above, the reasons for excluding religious rationales from public policy are quite sound and correct.  If you use religious belief as a justification for any law, then that will entitle anyone to get their religious belief enshrined as law.  How can we tell Religious Rightists that it's wrong to force their dogmatic views about things like abortion and gay people on everyone else if we then go ahead and use religion to justify a "progressive" law?

        It's really quite simple--if we don't want certain people using the law as a tool to spread their religious dogma, then nobody should be able to use the law as such.  If your religion tells you that some progressive value needs to be made public policy, that's fine, but use secular reasoning to get it enacted, or else pandora's box is wide open.

      •  If someone is influenced by their values,... (0+ / 0-)

        then that is different. But to codify dogma and belief that violates what has become some basic fundamental human rights would be wrong.  

        Humanity will truly advance when all religion is finally seen as the mythology it is.

        by Boisepoet on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 11:33:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Need for Secular Motivation (0+ / 0-)

        Well, here's why a religious defense doesn't work -- and you'll see that there's nothing "fundamentalist" about it: if you justify your actions based on the factual accuracy of some book, this means absolutely nothing to someone who hasn't read or doesn't agree with that book.  If you tell me that "God wants the law to be X", I'll start by asking you who or what this God character is and why his/her/its vote counts more than mine, assuming God and I are both citizens of the US (as far as I can tell, neither is).  So there's a big logical fallacy, since "God said so" only convinces people who agree that God is important.

        It's important to respect each other, and America's freedom of religion and anti-discrimination principles guarantee that people with different beliefs will be treated equally, even if those beliefs are inconsistent with reality (to be honest, even mathematics may be inconsistent with reality, according to Godel's theorems).  It's also all right to try to convince these people with religious views by telling them that their supernatural beings want whatever it is that you are trying to convince them to accept.  However, this says absolutely nothing to me as an atheist, and it's disrespectful to me to be ignored in explaining the motivations for actions, where an explanation not involving religion will actually explain things (unless the Bush administration does it, of course) to everyone.

        Maybe I don't know what fundamentalism really is, but to me, asking for rational answers everyone can understand doesn't sound exclusive of anyone.  If you're speaking at a synagogue, go ahead and talk about Adonai, Hillel sandwiches (actually, I'd like to see public policy motivated by Hillel sandwiches somewhere), and Leviticus, and even invoke the Midrash and the Mishnah, but it's just not fair to do this and endorse Rabbinical Judaism over Sikhism or Taoism or Altjira-worship or the Ancient Egyptian pantheon when speaking in an official capacity to the general public.  This is why religion has no place in public discourse -- it assumes things to be true that are not shared by everyone, and it asserts that some true things (evolution, for instance) are false.  Again, I have no problem with people using religion to justify things to anyone, but it's disrespectful to ignore my lack of religion when talking to me, and official members of the government should not be disrespectful to me.

  •  Principle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Temmoku

    There is a reason there at least used to be a standing joke around here where someone said something absolutely mainstream and unchallengeable and a commenter would pipe up, "Why does so-and-so hate America?" Republican fundamentalists have been making a sustained effort to make the people believe that liberal ideals and interpretations are not American at all, and are at best self-hating. The meme of the "angry left" lumps in doctrinaire fundamentalist leftists with happy Clark supporters. The reason this is not so is because the Constitution provides an elegant set of principles that allow us to agree on the fundamental things and yet to form compromises on the practical matters. An issue such as torture is both against the Constitutional principle and against human nature in all places and times. The codified principle allows us to point to something that is greater than our need which is merely expedient or political.

    •  Exactly...when they want to discredit someone (0+ / 0-)

      the old "why does __ hate America" comes up...but it really has nothing to do with the whole point. It is just a "buzz" slogan designed to get people angered over that person and it unfairly lumps that person into a category which enables others to ignore, discount or attack that person and the ideas they are trying to express.
      A diversion tactic.

      All I want from Congress is...IMPEACHMENT!

      by Temmoku on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 12:37:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Unrelated to last comment (0+ / 0-)

    Picking up on Almond's definition, if one should "make a fence for the Torah", fundamentalists are more concerned with the fence than the Torah.

  •  Fundamentalism can best by understood (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrymir, Pegasus

    by a careful understanding of Altemeyer's lifetime research. It clears up the language and gives us operational definitions to measure the thinking behavior of the fundamentalist mind and the actions they have and will engage in.

    They are superlative instruments that give us the tools we need to confront them. Fundamentalism is not confined to the religious right. It is just as true of Stalin's Soviet Union.

    •  Thank you so much for sponsoring Dr. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      abbeysbooks

      Altemeyer's visit here, which I am looking forward to. I read all the online chapters on Saturday - it is, without question, the most enlightening book I have read since Richard Dawkin's Selfish Gene. This is the work everyone who calls himself a progressive should read and memorize.

      Somebody needs to do a series of diaries on his work and it's implications, especially focusing on the effect 'Double Highs' have when they take power. Hint hint.

      -6.38/-3.79::'A man is incapable of comprehending any argument that interferes with his revenues.' Descartes

      by skrymir on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 10:23:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Re: "Pure Rationality" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, sagesource, aitchdee, Janosik

    And to be skewering in a bi-partisan fashion (and here this may get me flamed) there are those on the left whose total rejection of religious orientation as any kind of motivation despite its important history in things like the progressive and civil rights movements represents its own kind of fundamentalism, one of "pure rationality."

    I said this above, but want to reiterate it so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle.  I don't mind at all if someone is a progressive because of his religious background.  That doesn't make a bit of difference, so long as he has good progressive values.  But, I certainly do object to any matter of law or public policy having a religious rationale behind it.  

    We are a secular country, and in order to keep it such, any law or policy must have secular reasoning that isn't derived from religious dogma.  There are plenty of ways to justify good progressive policies that don't in any way rely on a religious justification.  The moment we allow for religious justification for laws, we open a huge pandora's box.  That's what leads to gay marriage bans, Terry Schiavo situations and the like.  Keep religion out of law, period.

    •  The key word is "history".... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Boris Godunov

      Those who deny what is fairly obvious in history are just plain dumb. But people did many things in the past that we wouldn't do today, because we have better ways with fewer side effects.

      We used to treat venereal disease with mercury compounds. We wouldn't today -- they are too dangerous, but they are still "history."

      Through tattered clothes great vices do appear / Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. (King Lear)

      by sagesource on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 10:55:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I hesitate to reply (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pegasus

      because my thinking cap is scarcely half on this morning--but I think it might be helpful to try and define some of these terms.

      Personally, in terms of religion, if I must label myself, I suppose I'd call myself a spiritual non-literalist. My "religion" is not made up of a set of precepts or beliefs unto which I pledge my undying allegiance; I am wholly non-dogmatic. My "religion" is faith in the reality of things beyond reason--beyond what is known or accepted in by conventional wisdom. (In short, ''There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio".)

      I'm not interested in dissolving the separation of church and state (on the contrary I'm vigorously in favor of upholding it) and I agree that law and religious dogma are the twain that ought never meet.

      However, I am interested, and I am drawn to people and politicians who are likewise interested, in approaching life and culture and policy--human policy--with a quality of mind that includes but does not stop at cool rationality; I am encouraged when I see an emotional or "spiritual" quality of mind that takes people into account as not as numbers but as irreducible people--that does not confuse--as some social engineers, for one small example, are wont to do--the idea of "housing" with "home." A quality of psyche and soul that does not assume it has all the answers; that is humble enough to acknowledge some element of mystery.

      I suspect we're largely on the same page and I don't want us to wind up talking past each other. May I ask your definition of the words "secular" and "religious?" In my view, "secularism," when it is used to mean reason without feeling--when it manifiests in plans made for humans by humans that have forgotten, in all their rational, quantitative analyses, all about individual persons and their individual qualities--can be as destructive a cultural element as dogmatic religious belief. That's what worries me in all this exaltation of the secular. (Conversely, what worries me about religious fundamentalists is not so much their faith but their literalism.) Your thoughts?

      God bless our tinfoil hearts.

      by aitchdee on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 11:58:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Secular != unemotional (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, poemless

        I don't think religious beliefs have any sort of monopoly on human emotion.  I am an atheist and believe in secular law, but I'm by no means unemotional about these beliefs.  Emotions, even ardent ones, are great.  But that doesn't require a religious or spiritual backing at all.  I've cried at a movie and even to some pieces of music, and I've done so without any sort of spiritual notion coming into my head.

        By secular, I simply mean "devoid of religious/spiritual/metaphysical justification."  If there is any law or policy that requires a religious justification to make sense, then it's not a law we should ever be enacting.  Secularism and religion share a lot of common ground on many issues of law, simply because they are common sense:  don't kill, don't steal, and so forth.  We can easily see a non-religious rationale for such policies.  But it gets harder and harder to find anything but religious reasoning for many of the pet legislative pushes of the religious right.

        Using religious belief as justification for policy or laws sets a precedent that I find frightening.  If fanatics see one law based on belief, who can tell them that they'd be wrong to get their beliefs enshrined as law?  After all, it worked for the other guys...

        •  seems to me you're talking in circles (0+ / 0-)

          If the governance of secular society is to be "devoid of religious/ spiritual/metaphysical justification," what is it to consist in, then, if not pure reason? And just where is the human feeling in that? I don't mean to suggest that what you say is untrue--it is true--rational science (the foundation of human culture since the Enlightenment) is proud to consider itself unsusceptible to emotions' whims. It is its very hallmark. Your views are popular and conventional, endorsed by most people of your time. Enjoy.

          God bless our tinfoil hearts.

          by aitchdee on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 04:09:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Are you suggesting (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Rebecca

            That "human feeling" is not possible without some sort of religious/spiritual/metaphysical component?  I highly resent that implication.  One can easily feel passionate about, well, almost anything without religious/spiritual belief.  To stereotype those who rely on reason as "cold and calculating" smacks of bigotry.

            But a rational basis for public policy is the only fair and sound basis.  Otherwise, whose religious views should we allow to dictate the law?  Religious dogma is the basis for theocrats and priest-kings, not a pluralistic democracy.

            •  I'm not stereotyping anybody-- (0+ / 0-)

              you were the one who claimed to cry from time to time at music and movies as if to disclaim your own rationality (if that wasn't your point, then what was it?). All I'm saying is, hey, relax and embrace it: intellectually, you are where it is at, man. You are positively Promethean. As for calculating, how on earth is that an insult in your universe? Isn't that what people do when one inquires rationally?  What other means might one employ to arrive at rational conclusions? Ouija board? Runes? Afternoon consultations w/ the sun god Ra? I didn't think so.

              The comment below (the one you recd) seeks evidently to school me in the ways of secular humanism. As it happens, I'm very familiar with it, and it's A-Okay with me if people want to order their lives that way. Me, I could never, ever, ever embrace any credo ("statement of purpose") that denounces the imagination. If however that is something you want to do, be my bloody guest. I am one of those nasty spiritual people who would not only never try to stop you, but would lay down her own life to defend your right to do so.

              Thanks so much for the bigotry comment; I'll cherish it always. You are as arrogant as can be.

              God bless our tinfoil hearts.

              by aitchdee on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 09:46:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Apparently you need to be schooled. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Boris Godunov

                How does eliminating the religious aspect of life denounce the imagination?  You have been announcing that someone who wants to live a rational life must reject emotion.  Even to the point of calling it a "Hallmark of rational science.  You conflate science and philosophy as the same thing.  Science is not a way of life it is a means of studying the world around us.  

                The only place where the removal of emotion is a part of a philosophy is in Star Trek with the Vulcans.  The rationalist philosophies are not so devoid of human life as you would like to make it.  You claim that rationalists denounce the imagination and remove emotion.  Which rationalist philosophy does this?  Name it.  Because the ones that I am familiar with are full of human emotion.  Science itself is based on imagination.  How else could we develop such a depth of knowledge over such a short time without the ability to imagine past our current understanding.  

                Religion is not the be-all and end-all of human emotion and imagination.  

                I can see you are very defensive with your comment

                Me, I could never, ever, ever embrace any credo ("statement of purpose") that denounces the imagination. If however that is something you want to do, be my bloody guest. I am one of those nasty spiritual people who would not only never try to stop you, but would lay down her own life to defend your right to do so.

                No one has called spiritual people nasty.  Some religious people are nasty.  But no one has called someone nasty just because they are spiritual.  So why are you accusing Boris of that.  You may not like the statement I pointed out.  But it shows that people who try to live their lives based on rationality are not devoid of emotion or denouncing imagination.  

                You seem to have a very confused idea of rational thinking.  I'm sorry about that.

                ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                by Rebecca on Tue Mar 20, 2007 at 02:24:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

                  I will leave dailykos.

                  God bless our tinfoil hearts.

                  by aitchdee on Tue Mar 20, 2007 at 10:49:48 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I've made a change-- (0+ / 0-)

                  and I'm happy about that change, but I'm sorry it came about in this way. I shouldn't have implicated you in my decision to leave, because it has little to do with you. Forgive me.  

                  As for secular humanism denouncing the imagination--have you read your own statement of purpose? Allow me to cut and paste that part for you:

                  • We should be concerned with the here and now, with solving human problems with the best resources of human minds and hearts. If there is to be meaning in our lives, we must supply it ourselves, relying on our own powers, observation, and compassion. It is irrational and ultimately harmful to hang our hopes on gods, the supernatural, and the hidden, which arise out of imagination and wishful thinking. It is pointless - and often dangerous - to push aside human intelligence to reach for some flimsy veil of alleged truths.

                  [emphasis added]

                  People who base their lives on rational thinking--who make a point of stating that their lives are rooted in rationality--are indeed voluntarily turning down the volume on the use of both emotion and imagination. I haven't known a single rationalist/secular humanist who has disputed the point. If you don't like the meaning of the word "rational," don't argue with me--take it up with Noah Webster, or perhaps call yourself something other than a rationalist.

                  Adios, madam.

                  God bless our tinfoil hearts.

                  by aitchdee on Tue Mar 20, 2007 at 12:26:05 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Vulcan philosophy (0+ / 0-)

            What you are describing is Vulcan philosophy from Star Trek.  

            I don't mean to suggest that what you say is untrue--it is true--rational science (the foundation of human culture since the Enlightenment) is proud to consider itself unsusceptible to emotions' whims. It is its very hallmark.

            Free Inquiry is a magazine about Secular Humanism.  
            Read their statement of purpose.

            The aim of Free Inquiry is to promote and nurture the good life - life guided by reason and science, freed from the dogmas of god and state, inspired by compassion for fellow humans, and driven by the ideals of human freedom, happiness, and understanding. Free Inquiry is dedicated to seeing that one day all members of the human family thrive by embracing basic humanist principles. These include:

               * Our best guide to truth is free and rational inquiry; we should therefore not be bound by the dictates of arbitrary authority, comfortable superstition, stifling tradition, or suffocating orthodoxy. We should defer to no dogma - neither religious nor secular - and never be afraid to ask "How do you know?"
               * We should be concerned with the here and now, with solving human problems with the best resources of human minds and hearts. If there is to be meaning in our lives, we must supply it ourselves, relying on our own powers, observation, and compassion. It is irrational and ultimately harmful to hang our hopes on gods, the supernatural, and the hidden, which arise out of imagination and wishful thinking. It is pointless - and often dangerous - to push aside human intelligence to reach for some flimsy veil of alleged truths.
               * We must be committed to moral principles, which are derived from critical intelligence and human experience, and we must pursue positive ideals. We should therefore observe the common moral decencies: integrity, humanitarianism, truthfulness, trustworthiness, fairness, and responsibility. This means caring for one another, being tolerant of differences, and striving to overcome divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, creed, or class.
               * Constitutional democracy is the best known means for protecting the rights of all people to form worldviews and live out their commitments in a free and mutually respectful way. Governments should promote open societies, ensure universal human rights, and be secular, having no bias against any religious or non-religious group.
               * We should strive to bring about a genuine world community and nourish an appreciation for global ethics and our planetary interdependence.
               * Secular humanism aims to bring out the best in people so that all can achieve fullness in life. Thus we must strive to realize personal potential, maximize creative talents and artistic expression, and choose joy and hope over despair, guilt, and sin.

            This is just one philosophy based in rationalism.  Science is not a way of living.  Rational thinking is not limited to science.  

            A quality of psyche and soul that does not assume it has all the answers; that is humble enough to acknowledge some element of mystery.

            One of the facets of fundamentalism is the assumption of having all the truths.  Rational thought does not lead to such hubris.  In fact, most rational thinkers are quite aware of just how little we do know and equally fascinated with new discoveries.

            ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

            by Rebecca on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 06:27:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poemless

    I always love reading Carroll and this piece was no exception. For me, the issue is best summed up with this line:

    Fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide. It injects into life a false certitude, for it unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations

    No matter what you're a fundie about, from religion to war, the fact that it removes the thought process is a dangerous thing (as we have well seen).

    "Keep raisin' hell!" - Molly Ivins

    by MA Liberal on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 10:41:31 AM PDT

  •  Fundamentalism isn't just religion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aitchdee, Temmoku

    I remember when there were Marxist fundamentalists--Maoists and whatnot, who were officially atheists yet had to reach for some little red book or other party authority for the answer to everything. Thankfully, that is pretty much over, but it is important to keep in mind that fundamentalism doesn't have to be based on a traditional religion like Christianity or Islam. There are a lot of what I call political fundamentalists on both sides--those who instinctively reach for "what does our side say?" on every issue rather than thinking things through themselves.

    "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

    by Alice in Florida on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 10:41:43 AM PDT

    •  Good point. (0+ / 0-)

      But real atheists don't need no stinking little red books or little black books or any kind of book to tell them what to do. Atheism is NOT a religion. It is absence of belief in God and, consequently, an absence of belief in a hereafter. Religion provides the guidelines for preparing for that hereafter. If there is no hereafter, no heaven, no paradise, then there is no need for religion. That is basically the threat of atheism....no hereafter, no need for religion, no need to support a Priest (rabbi, monk, minister, whatever)no need for a church. It threatens the whole hierarchy and establishment...and that is big bucks.

      All I want from Congress is...IMPEACHMENT!

      by Temmoku on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 12:47:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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