February 24, 2006

Religion, free speech, books, quotes.

Andrew Sullivan has some nice photos from a rally in D.C. in support of Denmark and free speech. I like the H.L. Mencken quote on one of the placards: "The most curious social convention is that religious opinions should be respected." Checking that quote on the web, I found this website. Ooh, Mencken said a lot of crusty things about religion.

That reminds me. I spent some time hanging around at Half Price Books today while they counted up the value of the 15 or so shopping bags full of books and CDs and tapes that I lugged in. ($209!) Mostly, I just read the NYT and did the crossword, but then I finished all that and took to wandering about picking up books almost at random and reading a sentence or two, forming opinions about the quality of writers as quickly as possible. (One sentence from Jay McInerney's "Model Behavior" made me decide he was excruciatingly awful.)

One of the books I picked up was the Bhagavad Gita. I opened it at random -- this would be a good opportunity for God to communicate with me if He were so inclined -- and I get diet advice:
Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one's existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart.
Wow! Just like Dr. Atkins.

Sorry, no profundities here. Just go about your business. Have a cheeseburger or a porkburger or whatever juicy, fatty thing pleases your heart.

24 comments:

Johnny Nucleo said...

I've tried the random opening of the sacred text thing myself. Never works. That stuff only works in the movies. Damn the movies! If it weren't for movies, I'd be well-adjusted.

Smilin' Jack said...

An even more apropos Mencken quote (though probably too long for a placard):

The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame.
True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge.

Dave said...

The only thing I ask of the religious is that they consider the depths to which religious belief has sunk man.

tiggeril said...

I don't think ol' Krishna would have been on board with the cheeseburger idea. ;)

Johnny Nucleo said...

Dave said: "The only thing I ask of the religious is that they consider the depths to which religious belief has sunk man."

Now, Dave, why do you want to be like that? To what depths are you referring? Do you mean religion causes war and strife? Do you really think there would be less war and strife in the world were it not for religion?

The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history. It was also the least religious.

The Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution stemmed from religion, specifically from Christianity. The early Enlightenment thinkers were seeking order in the natural world. They assumed such order existed because they believed the universe was purposefully created.

Jennifer said...
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Jennifer said...

The only thing I ask of the religious is that they consider the depths to which religious belief has sunk man.

What an odd perspective. Do you ask this of everybody?

Think of what has been done in the name of science.

Surely people are not solely defined by their lowest common denominator.

Ricardo said...

"Have a cheeseburger or a porkburger or whatever juicy, fatty thing pleases your heart."

Whoa, Nelly. You're in the wrong book. No cows allowed. What they're talking about is veggies, nuts, dairy, grains, and juicy wholesome foods like that. I doubt they'd have wanted Atkins near the Gita, but then he's dead now.

Off, topic. But, did anyone ever do an autopsy on his heart?

PatCA said...

I wished I could have been there. This could be part of the beginning of something new..or the end of something old.

Anyway, my favorite photo is here, and contains a quote from Hamlet (scroll down). No puppets, just carefully inscribed philosophical/literary references. Introverts venturing out, at long last? Lovely.
http://corsair.blogspot.com

Ann Althouse said...

Tigeril, Ricardo: That's why I threw in the porkburger. Anyway, I'm not reading whole books, just isolated sentences that come to me at random. I'm a blogger!

Maxine Weiss said...

Hey Ann: Did you happen to see a copy of "Fast Food Nation" while you were browsing?

Wine and chocolate. That's about as decadent as it gets for me.

Peace, Maxine

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AJD said...

"One sentence from Jay McInerney's "Model Behavior" made me decide he was excruciatingly awful."


Hey! That's the feelng I get almost every time I check in on your sentences, Ann.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gerry said...

You know, I read a story the other day about how conservatives at every income level are happier than the corresponding liberals at the same income level.

"That's the feelng I get almost every time I check in on your sentences, Ann"

Jack Straw wrote that, yet he checks in frequently enough (and comments often, too).

Perhaps that study came up with what it did because the liberals have more masochists, like JS, who keep doing things (like visiting an "excruciatingly awful," in their opinion, writer's blog) bringing their average down.

Across income levels. Jack, you are not alone!

amba said...

I've been quoting from an old yellowed Mencken paperback lately. In one -- I want to say "post" -- called "Masters of Tone," he characterizes certain composers, e.g.:

Chopin -- Two embalmers at work upon a minor poet . . .

Richard Strauss -- Old Home Week in Gomorrah.

Puccini -- Silver macaroni, exquisitely tangled.

Bach -- Genesis I, I.

chuck b. said...

I had a cheeseburger with brie cheese last week... damn fine cheeseburger.

VICTOR said...

That sounds like a terrible mistranslation. I'm not sure the word fatty even exists in Sanksrit.

It's worth picking up a copy to read through. Better than listening to Scalia for sure.

Ann Althouse said...

Victor: I checked several websites looking for a clear translation. That was just what was on line. I only remembered "juicy" and "fatty" and "heart" from what I saw in the bookstore. Then I Googled. If there are translations without "fatty," I wouldn't have found them (or wanted to)!

Commenters don't seem to be looking at this post as a whole and trying to understand it as a whole! Assume that the post is coherent: what does it mean?

Pete said...

"Commenters don't seem to be looking at this post as a whole and trying to understand it as a whole! Assume that the post is coherent: what does it mean?"

Uh, is it about your delight in commiserating with fellow religion-cranks?

skip said...

But you are not "standing with Denmark." You are standing with cartoon sponsor Flemming Rose, his pal Daniel Pipes, and Bernard Lewis's war on Islam.

Connect the dots.

Ricardo said...

"Commenters don't seem to be looking at this post as a whole and trying to understand it as a whole! Assume that the post is coherent: what does it mean?"

Oh my gawd. We're being TESTED! Each of these posts is a "test", and Ann is keeping score to see if we "got" it or not!

Ann Althouse said...

Ricardo gets an A.

AlaskaJack said...

I give up. I'm dropping this course. Ann, give me an F.