Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Postmodern Banks Anxiety

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  • Russell Brown,

    Who'd have thought discussion about fake Twitter accounts could have taken such a turn?

    This is why we'll never have threaded discussions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18663 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Can I just say that I spent the weekend with two very good friends who are both a bit god bothery, and we had much discussion. I wish I had recourse to some of this while I was at dinner with them.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Sounds like he's a member of that special church, for special people, the name of which I've never bothered to establish.

    The Fellowship, aka The Family. There's a fascinating feature on the C Street House in this month's Vanity Fair.

    They haven't put that online, but there's an interactive backgrounder on the residents of the house from 2009.

    They're also the people behind the National Prayer Breakfast, and have close connections to the Clintons (Bush Jr, oddly, not so much). They seem to me like the precursors of Scientology's celebrity outreach strategy, with Mother Teresa's penchant for engaging with brutal dictators.

    EDIT: Oops, no, I've looked properly out your comment and this isn't the religious organisation you're talking about. But still, interesting outfit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18663 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    That is irrational. It comes from a perfectly rational person, who has boxed off a part of his mind to that logic which tells him to trust his mind and evidence and instead that part of his psyche relies on and is justified by something altogether different.

    But can we agree he has the personal right to do so? Many of us express essentially magical beliefs for one reason or another, and often as a means to an end.

    I do enjoy the poetry of religion. I gave the whaikorero at Foo Camp a couple of years ago, and (thanks to Mikaere Curtis's dad) greeted the local mountains as if they too were sentient. Not exactly rational, but it felt good to say.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18663 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Any person has the right to make up (or accept what other people have made up) anything they like. What they dont have the right to do, is
    a)insist that others treat their fantasies as worthy of respect outside of
    their temples, churches, sacred areas;
    b)insist that their fantasies are applicable to everyone else, and
    c)insist on protection for those fantasies.

    I enjoy 'the poetry of religion' - as you aptly put it, Russell- as much as any other poetry. And there are a lot religious creations (from Gobekli Tepe through to a very beautiful bishop's crook I know of) that are wholly wonderous.

    Tho I rather suspect that my appreciation of these true works of art arises from a different spring than that of those who made/commissioned them...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Oops, no, I've looked properly out your comment and this isn't the religious organisation you're talking about.

    Nice of you to bother, considering my rather over-flippant tone there, but the best way I've found to deal with such folks is not to take them overly seriously. They're just a certain stripe of US-centric fundies who cater to / prey upon the damaged lives end of the market, and possibly do a passing amount of genuine good, though not necessarily by design.

    Unlike some of the dodgier operators they don't seem to actively encourage dumping one's psychiatric medication and throwing oneself upon the mercy of the lord for a cure. I know of someone who allows herself to be talked into this occasionally, you know it's happened when one of her letters denouncing the evils of freemasonry turns up in the local rag. Not too funny for her immediate family though.

    Many of us express essentially magical beliefs for one reason or another, and often as a means to an end.

    I do enjoy the poetry of religion.

    Amen (sorry hardline atheists) to that. Venturing beyond the immediately rational, and being able to find one's way back whenever one chooses, is what makes so much of life worth living.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3357 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Many of us express essentially magical beliefs for one reason or another, and often as a means to an end.
    I do enjoy the poetry of religion.
    Amen (sorry hardline atheists) to that.

    Hey I can do poetree!
    With the right chemical mixture
    All things are possible
    And I become a pantheist
    Those plants can talk, I tell you!
    My guilty secret

    So don't ask

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1172 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    With the right chemical mixture
    All things are possible

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3357 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    But can we agree he has the personal right to do so? Many of us express essentially magical beliefs for one reason or another, and often as a means to an end.

    Of course. The starting point on this wasn't a criticism of faith and belief per-se, even if HORansome seemed to read it that way.

    Science still can't properly explain why I love Wilson Pickett singing Hey Jude but can't deal with Andy Williams doing the same song.

    One makes me stutter with joy. The other makes me stammer with pain. The magic is irrational and indefinable but I'll fight you (well maybe not) if you tell me I'm wrong.

    I do enjoy the poetry of religion.

    Some of the buildings are pretty too...

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    ..and the libraries were handy

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16436 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Science still can't properly explain

    many things, including like, what Robin Williams would like sound like on on Coke.
    Ooops too late

    But I don't get why this is pitched as a bad thing when it comes to human consciousness.
    What ever direction religion's gave us is now fatally flawed.
    If only for the simple reason that many people won't be convinced by the arguments it uses, and it been using the same ones for a very very long time now.

    And yet there are still people on this planet, who believe what a witch doctor now cum priest tells them, such as, a person is possessed by an evil spirit.
    Why is this not a priority world wide?
    Releasing (or attempting to educate them) from this kind of mental tyranny. It is other people inflicting misery on others for the falsest of reasons.
    In the face of this polite arguments about religious freedoms in the supposedly educated affluent west, and that other thing.
    Oh I don't know sometimes.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1172 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Sacha, the libraries religious hoons didnt actually destroy (Alexandria anyone?)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    cum priest

    Is that what they're calling em now?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16436 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Yeah in the early days.
    But history is never clear cut.
    If you can stand the reading especially the entries by Cartomancer on this thread from RDnet it will give some idea of what went on in just the middle ages.
    He is a medieval scholar at Oxford, and on the interwebz he seems a knowledgeable man on things such things.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1172 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    No comment Sacha, on the undeniable fact, that 'Christians' actually destroyed way more ancient literature than they *ever* preserved?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    cum priest
    Is that what they're calling em now?

    Stop it, while Im trying to be sensitive. ;-)

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1172 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Priesthood is totally about power...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    ..and hoods

    (OK I'll stop now)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16436 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    ... that second paragraph actually does describe a lot of what is going on in the New Atheism (especially Hitchins and Dawkins, [along with Harris and Dennett] who are amongst the loudest atheists).

    This article by Julian Baggini from last year is apropos of this discussion.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1131 posts Report Reply

  • Mr Mark,

    @Russell

    "Who'd have thought discussion about fake Twitter accounts could have taken such a turn ? This is why we'll never have threaded discussions".

    Hardly surprising, Russell, surely ? I mean this thread goes from Twitter to Atheism/Religion; Long Will Be The Lunches (Aug 24) began with discussion on advertising revenue in the Oz Election and ended with the relative merits of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore; and Little Pieces of a Big Picture (Sept 5) began with everyone expressing genuine sympathy for the Chch earthquake victims before quickly turning - almost inevitably - to an in-depth discussion on Oral Sex.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2009 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Navel gazing...

    Gobekli Tepe

    I find this place endlessly fascinating.
    I was gonna introduce it into the discussion arising from the comments on Ishmael and the fall of man a wee while back, but got sidetracked...


    hey judeism...

    Science still can't properly explain why I love Wilson Pickett singing Hey Jude but can't deal with Andy Williams doing the same song.

    Sure it can - Harmonics - and the fact that you are
    a well tuned resonancy boy! ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4627 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Priesthood is totally about power...

    ...and the glory, for ever and ever
    aaaaah, men!

    Alexandria anyone?

    and the Americas, they probably burnt the codices to melt the gold
    showing the priorities of the invading priories....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4627 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    This article by Julian Baggini

    In which he proudly professes his ignorance, and then goes on to say why he can, cause he's Julian Baggini and he doesnt need to waste his time.
    Well bully for him, these fits of pique affect us all. Is the only lesson I take from that little flourish by Mr Baggini.
    But here when he interviews Dan Dennett, he's not too bad at all.
    And Dan sez "There’s something inappropriate about an atheist having too much self-confidence in their own ability to see the truth through reason. If you have a commitment to reason, and Hume is one of your great heroes – as he is for many atheists – the first thing you know about reason is that it’s fragile thing. "

    And thats sorta how I feel. Now I would really like it if all these intellectuals just butted out of the conversation and Govts make any religious organisation liable for all appropriate taxes, and lets see how long they survive.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1172 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    Yeah, good interview. Thanks for the link - I had missed that one.
    I don’t agree with all of Baggini’s concerns, but I think he made some good points in both the interview with Dennett and the original article (especially later in the piece).*

    As for Baggini’s professed ignorance, I really doubt reading the books the ‘four horsemen’ wrote would make much difference to his case. I’m sure he’s familiar with most of the arguments for the non-existence of God that Dawkins covers in his book, for example. It really is more about the public statements and general approach they have taken.
    I watched a documentary by Dawkins awhile back and agreed with pretty much all of it, but I felt he (and the other “New Atheists”) is too concerned with proving theism wrong. I don’t think that that’s so important. I don’t really care if someone chooses to believe in God. I’d rather focus on getting moderate theists to agree that creationism should not be taught in schools (at least as science), church and state should be separate, and yes, that governments should “make any religious organisation liable for all appropriate taxes”. I agree with Dennett that the confrontational “pail of cold water in the face” approach of Hitchens may have the effect of galvanising atheist support, but that’s the only advantage I can see.

    * I only just read the reply from George Williamson at Fritanke.no. He makes some good points, but mostly in the areas in which I already disagreed with Baggini , or was ambivalent. And he bungles his argument in the end in an astonishing admission, after several hundred words, that he has “little to say” about Baggini’s key concern.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1131 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    As for Baggini’s professed ignorance, I really doubt reading the books the ‘four horsemen’ wrote would make much difference to his case

    Maybe not, I don't know. Im sure Sam Harris' and Dan Dennetts books would have given him some intellectual exercise. And to dismiss these authors as writers of populist tomes not worth his time to read, well, smacks of arrogance. But whatever. I'll probably steer clear of Mr Baggini in future, unless he writes a populist tome.

    I’d rather focus on getting moderate theists to agree that creationism should not be taught in schools (at least as science), church and state should be separate, and yes, that governments should “make any religious organisation liable for all appropriate taxes”.

    Practical goals. Its all we can do really, while people gradually give up their age old beliefs.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1172 posts Report Reply

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