December 13, 2009

Why believe in a religion? Why not believe in 2 or 3 or more?

And throw in astrology and ghosts while you're at it.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a report [that]... points out that many Americans are now choosing to “blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs” and that “sizable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups” said that they have had supernatural experiences, like encountering ghosts....

Twenty percent of Protestants and 28 percent of Catholics said they believe in reincarnation... [A]bout the same percentages said they believe in astrology, yoga as a spiritual practice and the idea that there is “spiritual energy” pulsing from things like “mountains, trees or crystals.”...

[T]hose who identified themselves as Christian were more likely to believe these things than those who were unaffiliated....

Furthermore, 16 percent of Protestants and 17 percent of Catholics said that they believe that some people can use the “evil eye” to “cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen.”...

... Democrats were almost twice as likely to believe in ghosts and to consult fortune-tellers than were Republicans, and the Democrats were 71 percent more likely to believe that they were in touch with the dead....
Religion is the snack food of the people.

204 comments:

1 – 200 of 204   Newer›   Newest»
The Crack Emcee said...

Fuck all y'all:

God is a ham sandwich.

Ron said...

The pantheon of Warner Bros. Cartoon Characters will be a religion soon enough...

The Crack Emcee said...

"Democrats were 71 percent more likely to believe that they were in touch with the dead...."

Well, that explains Obama.

Ann Althouse said...

I knew this post was Crack bait.

Kirby Olson said...

Peoples around the world in places like China, Vietnam, and even in N. Korea, are also turning to Christianity in enormous numbers (hundreds of millions).

So values are likely to mix, as people find something useful in the buffet of multiculturalism.

EDH said...

I would follow more than one religion, except now I fear that God would chase me down the driveway swinging a golf club at my Cadillac Escalade.

John Lynch said...

I feel for Hitchens and Dawkins, because they are fighting something ineradicable. Human nature has a religious impulse.

The nice thing about traditional religions is that people know they are religions. What is dangerous is when people put their religion into something else without acknowledging it. We have people who put faith in UFOs, "the environment," and politics without realizing what they are doing.

Not all questions can be answered empirically, but the ones that can be should be answered by observation. Questions that can't be answered by science are the realm of philosophy and theology. The trouble is when people can't keep those separate.

Then we get magical politics, extraterrestrials, and nature worship.

Paddy O. said...

Hard to find a Christianity that is devoid of syncretism.

Indeed, there's a sort of encouragement of syncretism built in. Without having a set, mandated worship structure there has always been a degree of freedom of culture/custom. That one culture--Greek--dominated early on made for specific trends that seem inherently Christian.

There was immense amount of syncretism in Irish Christianity as well as in Latin America. The trend towards Scholasticism in the West might also be said to be syncretistic, though in a more accepted way because the people who liked it happened to be the ones to define acceptable.

The trick of good theology is to root out what is incompatible with the core doctrines while keeping, and learning from, what is compatible. Indeed, that's probably one of the chief tasks of a theologian. You have to know the core, then be able to assess what can and cannot fit with it.

It might even be said that the ability for Christianity to syncretize is one of its great strengths in cross-cultural settings. A middle-eastern religion that finds roots just about everywhere, in just about every language, does so because it has a way of fitting into widely different cultures.

Bissage said...

(1) Hey! Somebody get that black guy a dreidel!

(2) Sesame Street?

(3) Freak. Me. Out.

Pogo said...

"believe in astrology, yoga as a spiritual practice and the idea that there is “spiritual energy” pulsing from things like “mountains, trees or crystals."

From this cauldron of hooey, magical thinking, and juvenile credulousness comes the faith in socialism.

tom faranda said...

Love your Karl Marx-ish last line.

Surenna P. said...

"Democrats were almost twice as likely to believe in ghosts and to consult fortune-tellers than were Republicans"

...another entry into the long list of things so obvious that surveys and studies are entirely redundant...

phx said...

John Lynch said:
Then we get magical politics, extraterrestrials, and nature worship.

But I don't understand how the belief in sky gods is any more empirical than nature worship.

I do agree as humans we have a religious or spiritual impulse.

AllenS said...

Does believing in Santa Claus count as a religion? I sure hope that Christie Brinkley is under my christmas tree on Dec. 25th when I awake.

mun said...

I read once that religion is the wrapping on the gift of spirit and that people have fallen in love with the package and forsaken the gift.

ricpic said...

Democrats are zombies feasting on the still twitching body of America in an attempt to ZOMBIFY it. The only way to kill a zombie is a bullet to the head. Nuff said.

phx said...

Jesus ricpic. Got some anger issues to work out?

Ron said...

Let's found a religion around Hitchens! It'll drive him to drink! Oh. Wait.

John Lynch said...

phx-

The problem comes when religious beliefs, whether people call them that or not, intrude on things that can be answered empirically.

Politics shouldn't be a religion. I think the problems there should be obvious. Politics is a way to resolve disputes, nothing more. It's a process, not a goal.

The natural world can be observed, so we don't need to worship it. When observations don't match up with what people believe on faith, that's an obstacle to our understanding of the world. Plenty examples of that throughout history, but I'd add the current AGW fad is just as egregious. Almost no one for or against understands the science or the data involved. And yet huge amounts of money are involved...based on faith.

Leave to religion what can't be answered by science.

Moose said...

Not to disagree with Paddy-O, but the issue here is more along the lines of the devolution of Christianity more than it is of syncretism.

Christianity is (in)famous for having coopted regional religions in its rise to prominence as a religion. What we are seeing now is the re-introduction of "regional" or superstitious beliefs back into Christianity.

This is a fairly amusing variant of "cafeteria Catholicism" whereby you pick and choose what you beleive based on... whatever. This now just adds in the "missing" pieces that will soon have us doing the whole Santeria thing.

Truth be told, the is not that different than what I call "ethinic Catholicism" which is most embodied in old Italian Catholic women. My wife was raised by one of those, who imbued her with a strong belief in curses and what she called the "gigi".

I guess its best summed up in the phrase "what old is new again".

Scott said...

"God is a ham sandwich."

If so, it means you can indict Him.

phx said...

John Lynch:

You wrote, "The problem comes when religious beliefs, whether people call them that or not, intrude on things that can be answered empirically."

I think that's fine, I understand that brother. What I don't get is if you are taking a judgmental stance towards people who "worship nature" even if they find the science behind nature consistent with their spiritual beliefs. And I'm setting aside all that AWG stuff - I can also understand your take on that (even if I don't agree with it).

I guess I'm saying I don't hear a reason from you why we should be disrespectful of nature worshippers in themselves. Hope my comment here makes sense.

John Lynch said...

phx-

I guess that's just bias in favor of one religion over another. I meant nature worship that isn't acknowledged as nature worship.

phx said...

John Lynch:
THAT makes sense.
Carry on.

Paddy O. said...

Moose, you're right. There's a difference between pre-Christian religion and post-Christian.

What's interesting is that, entirely defying just about every sci-fi writer, there's a post-Christian religiosity that seems even more superstitious than what it replaced. Which is probably why science itself is worse off in such a context, because far too many people are going to turn their religion to Science--and in doing that undermine what science is really about.

AJ Lynch said...

Pew is a non-profit disgrace. It has $4 Billion in assets and spends only $300 Million per year on craptastic studies and programs like this. It's tagline should be "Fuck The Poor That Is The Taxpayers' Problem".

Scott said...

I'm Episcopalian. They say that Anglican theology is a footstool with three legs: the Bible, Tradition, and Reason. I like the Reason leg particularly. One of the greatest gifts God give to each of us is our brain. If it doesn't make sense, don't believe it.

What doesn't make sense to me is how any religion can presume to be the exclusive conduit through which a beneficial relationship with God can be established. The Episcopal Church doesn't play that game, and I'm grateful. But I do go to church to learn how I might be able to develop a relationship with God as part of a community of similarly-minded people.

Today I didn't make it to church. I really like the people at the church where I am a member, but it's hard for me to cross that bridge and really get to know the people in the church. Maybe it's shyness or insecurity. I don't know. I wish it were easier to get over than it is.

It's easier to go to an AA meeting. It's like going to a bar. Everybody knows your name, nobody is up into your business.

I think God exists whether or not you believe in God.

amba said...

Does believing in Santa Claus count as a religion?

OT, don't miss the current New Yorker cover. It's wicked great.

vw logyn

(feminine logic? prompt to register for a women's medical advice site?)

AllenS said...

amba--

I left a comment.

phx said...

"They say that Anglican theology is a footstool with three legs: the Bible, Tradition, and Reason."

The Bible and Tradition go together pretty well. I can make Tradition and Reason fit together somewhat well. The Bible and Reason, I can't make fit. Maybe somebody else can.

peter hoh said...

I love the idea of a religion built around Hitchens. What do we need besides lots of alcohol and gay nuns?

Michael Hasenstab said...

I, too, am pleased to absorb lots of valuable information and articles from your blog.

former law student said...

I scoff at the idea this is something new. Every rosary-toting Italian grandmother teaches the little ones how to make the horns to ward off the evil eye. And this month, as they have for over a century, millions of Christians revive the Druidic practices of Yule -- decorating their homes with evergreens, mistletoe, etc.

former law student said...

The Bible and Reason, I can't make fit.

Bible-based reasoning can be just as good as any other -- the problem is the truth of the basic assumptions on which the arguments are built.

edutcher said...

The problem is that many people inured to decades to Oprah-speak and pseudo-psych want religion to tell them it's OK to sin (Oh, Hi, Tiger). When they can't find it, they think the precepts of Catholic Church (or whatever) can be turned into a Chinese menu.

Sad to say, the Father Feel-goods who have been bouncing around since about 1970 will try to give them a way to make it happen.

The Crack Emcee said...

God is a ham sandwich.

Not if He's Jewish (there's a rumor to that effect).

Or Moslem.

Ron said...

The pantheon of Warner Bros. Cartoon Characters will be a religion soon enough...

I can see it now, "The Tao of Daffy".

Oy!!

EDH said...

I would follow more than one religion, except now I fear that God would chase me down the driveway swinging a golf club at my Cadillac Escalade.

What's the First Commandment again?

amba said...

Does believing in Santa Claus count as a religion?

OT, don't miss the current New Yorker cover. It's wicked great.


No, it's not OT. A real saint is showing up a faux Messiah.

Considering Bambi's still doing it wrong, I hope the guy in the Red Suit goes upside The Zero's head with the lump of coal initialed BHO.

phx said...

"Bible-based reasoning can be just as good as any other."

It would have to at least be internally consistent, wouldn't it? I don't think so.

John Lynch said...

phx-

Ok, here's Thomas Aquinas in a very small nutshell.

Reason is a gift from God. If we accept (on faith) that He made the world, he gave us Reason as well.

We use Reason to observe and think about the world. Nothing wrong with that, since God made the world and us. By finding out what He did in making the world, we bring ourselves closer to God. The world is closer to God than anything, as it's a direct reflection of His will. So, since reality is from God, it's up there with scripture.

So, there's no real conflict with science at all. All it does is observe the world made by God. This is why you periodically hear about the Catholic Church accepting evolution or something similar. It's not a problem theologically. It's just Reason advancing our understanding.

I really like this about Christianity, and it's pretty uniquely Western. Aquinas found a way to make Aristotelian philosophy fit into a Christian world view. He's a synthesist.

Whether you believe in God in the first place is a matter of faith. Either you do or don't. I like a world where that's up to you. Religion is a lot better in a free society.

rhhardin said...

Democrats are twice as likely to write "twice as likely than..." as well.

Scott said...

@phx: The Bible and Reason can work well together when you accept that the Bible had a historical context. When the practices of the ancients--established based on their limited knowledge of the world around them--become empty ritual today, then that defies reason. Episcopalians (among other Christian families) can, and do, question what they read in the Bible. That's a good thing.

edutcher said...

former law student said...

I scoff at the idea this is something new. Every rosary-toting Italian grandmother teaches the little ones how to make the horns to ward off the evil eye. And this month, as they have for over a century, millions of Christians revive the Druidic practices of Yule -- decorating their homes with evergreens, mistletoe, etc.

Your first premise is off by about 100 years. Given that said Grandma was probably from a village on the far side of Sicily where a priest may have come twice a month, it wasn't all that surprising.

As to your second, many Catholics, much less Christians, don't do trees, mistletoe, etc.; they do the creche. In any case, as you note, that observance was popularized only about 150 years ago (mostly thanks to one C. Dickens) after a very long hibernation, mostly because it was fun.

Ever notice how the Lefties are no fun at all?

PS If you're going to scoff, cover your mouth and wash your hands afterward.

WV "skatercu" What you put on the edge of your ice skates to shoot little colored balls through holes in the ice.

In other words, the next way Meade is going to come up with to drag his bride out of a nice, warm house into the freezing cold :)

Bissage said...

MAN SEEKING SPIRITUAL CONNECTION: Is this the Church of the Fonz?

PETER GRIFFIN: Yes, it is.

MAN: I read your flyer! Finally, a religion that makes sense to me! Hey everyone, I found Him, over here!

-- The Father, the Son and the Holy Fonz (2005)

The Crack Emcee said...

John Lynch,

"Human nature has a religious impulse."

Then explain ME, asshole. To paraphrase, "Ain't I part of human nature?" Your statement is as big of an insult as you can throw at an atheist - not to mention a bald-faced lie.

Jeez, you guys spit out this shit like you know something. You're stupid, uninformed, fill with cognitive dissonance, and unworthy of life in the modern world.

It sickens me - truly sickens me to my stomach - to think I have to live the rest of my life listening to this shit. Why does it sicken me so much? Because I know you assholes don't care.

You - not me - are the walking poison.

phx said...

Hey John Lynch,
I personally don't think there's any conflict with science and religion per se. However I do think that Old/New Testament scripturalists have a problem defending their beliefs in the light of science.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Yoga as a spiritual practice"

But they'll openly lie to you and say it's really just exercise.

That's some spirituality that teaches you how to lie.

AllenS said...

Sounds like The Crack Emcee doesn't believe in Santa Claus.

The Crack Emcee said...

PHX,

"I do agree as humans we have a religious or spiritual impulse."

Replace "spiritual" with "stupid" and I'll agree with you.

John Lynch said...

phx-

That's why I'm a Catholic. I can't do fundamentalism. When I was 12 Noah's Ark and the number of species on the planet didn't add up.

You take scripture for what it is. It's written, it's inspired, but it doesn't trump the world as made by God. Reason and knowledge can bring us closer to God. Scripture and Tradition are for questions that can't be answered by Reason (this is an idea Aquinas lifted from a Muslim named Averroes). Use Reason when it's appropriate.

This is a big difference with some forms of Protestant belief (although in practice Protestants do science just fine) and especially with Islam. In Islam, faith is much more important, and scripture is a much bigger deal.

Scott said...

@John Lynch: What you said. :)

What blows my mind is the phenomenon of the "fundamentalist Christian" who supports capital punishment -- a moral sleight-of-hand that non-believers can point to as evidence of hypocrisy.

phx said...

John Lynch -

First of all, I mean no disrespect to your religion. When it comes to religion I have a strict live and let live, and don't-interfere-with the-native's-belief-systems directive.

But, just to indulge a little, you and I probably agree, test to see what reason says first. After that it seems we go separate ways. If reason doesn't explain it, you reach for scripture. I would wonder why anyone on earth in the 21st c. would reach for scripture to find the answers to their spiritual problems. I think there are other places to pursue answers than the Bible. There is wisdom in the Bible; I just don't think overall it makes a good primary source of wisdom - at least for me.

John Lynch said...

Crack,

You can insult people all you want, and insist you're more intelligent for being an atheist, but that doesn't make it true. Intelligence is pretty evenly distributed among beliefs. I think it's a mistake to dismiss religion as just stupidity. That's missing a large part of what makes us human.

I'm not going to psychoanalyze you as an individual, as that's your business. But I'd think your own blog indicate that you're an exception rather than the rule. Most people are religious in most times and places, and I think that's enough to generalize on.

Real atheists are rare, and I don't really have a problem with them. I think atheism fails to answer some serious questions, mostly "why's" rather than "how's." Science explains how the world works, not so much why we're here. Nor does it give us much guidance ethically. That's theology and philosophy.

I can understand atheists wanting religion to leave them alone, but religious people have to deal with disagreement all the time as well. It's a free society.

The Crack Emcee said...

"The Crack Emcee said...

God is a ham sandwich.

Not if He's Jewish (there's a rumor to that effect)."


I used to work for a Jewish Synagogue, and on my first day, when I met the program director, she apologized because she was positive I could smell the bacon sandwich she had sneaked a bite of on her breath.

I stand by my statement.

Jason said...

And then you had to go and bring up reincarnation over a couple of beers the other night.

naturalfake said...

“You’re talking about a planet where global warming doesn’t happen, and I’m talking about a planet where global warming happens.

This Is What It Sounds Like When Gods Die - Part 2


http://naturalfake.wordpress.com/2009/12/13/this-is-what-it-sounds-like-when-gods-die-part-2/

phx said...

I always told my daughter, the only person who I was charged with instilling a system of values in, "Don't ask the why questions. You'll go crazy. Rather, in the face of what is ask 'how do I proceed.'"

The Crack Emcee said...

FLS,

"The Bible and Reason, I can't make fit.

Bible-based reasoning can be just as good as any other -- the problem is the truth of the basic assumptions on which the arguments are built."


True - and isn't it a trip that it's always the Bible that's taken as an affront to intelligence? You never hear people say, "Karma? What a load of hooey!" It's always the Bible.

Talk about having issues!

John Lynch said...

phx-

Yeah, I think we're understanding each other fine. It's faith, it's choice, and that's how it should be.

I don't get all ruffled up about disrespect to religion, because God can take care of Himself. Me being dissed as a person on the internet is something I got over years ago.

Deborah said...

used to work for a Jewish Synagogue, and on my first day, when I met the program director, she apologized because she was positive I could smell the bacon sandwich she had sneaked a bite of on her breath.
Must have been Reform.

wv: excode

Deborah said...

God said to Abraham,
"Give me a son:"
Abe said, Man you must be puttin' me on
God said no,
Abe said, What?
God said, You can do whatever you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin' you better run.

phx said...

"Me being dissed as a person on the internet is something I got over years ago."

And that's wisdom.

Scott said...

In Islam, scripture is a much bigger deal because the Koran is considered the directly delivered word of Allah to Mohammed. The Bible, by contrast, is a collection of inspired writings by mere mortals, finalized 397 AD by the Council of Carthage.

The Crack Emcee said...

John Lynch,

" can insult people all you want, and insist you're more intelligent for being an atheist, but that doesn't make it true. Intelligence is pretty evenly distributed among beliefs. I think it's a mistake to dismiss religion as just stupidity. That's missing a large part of what makes us human."

I'm not saying I'm smarter because I'm an atheist - atheism is the default, it doesn't "give" you anything, including intelligence - I'm smarter because I don't have what you say "makes us human" and I say makes you casual insult-spouting killers. (Who, of course, get angry if anyone, like me, decides to treat you in kind: I wasn't like this before religion made such ugly inroads to my life - I was live-and-let-live - but now I hate you.)

traditionalguy said...

The god who requires worship and sacrifice so he will not destroy the weather is the oldest god scam used by the ancient and rich priesthoods of history and their King figures who are said to be gods or High Priests. The New College of Cardinals is now meeting in Copenhagen, European Union to elect its Pope/High Priest, to be taken from among its Saints with Nobel prizes, to reestablish the Great Religion Scam on earth. They first will need to finish dumping Christianity, especially scripturally based Reform Protestant Christianity, like the EU officially did last year ,and now patiently awaits the same to be legally required in the new secular State of the Progressives in North America. The test you see is not religion or non-religion. These priests intend to establish a functioning World religion that will bring us peace out of our sudden economic crisis; so long as,that much hated Rogue Carpenter from the Galilee, who permanently defeated all of the old religion businesses, can be driven out. This religion denier, Jesus, called his deciples his friends. The priests of the new World Religion call their disciples worthless CO2 emitters. Jesus said all sacrifice for all guilt forever had been made once for all in His sacrifice of Himself on the cross. The priests of the new World Religion say their believers haven't yet begun to be bled and fleeced and killed like they deserve. But they better get ready for World's population must be reduced by half , or better yet by 70%. Remember, it's all of those Christians everywhere still out living Death Panels who are The Threat to end the Progress back to rule by the Priests. All Heil be to these great new Priests preparing the Emergency Depopulation Sacrifice of 5,000,000,000 emitters legally required by "Science" and preached to us by our most exalted Nobel Prize winners.

Paddy O. said...

phx, I strongly suspect you have a limited exposure to what and how study of the Bible is pursued.

You're using a popular expression to get at what is, in many places, an academic discipline. Has been that way for a long while.

Not to say there aren't people who fit in your model, but there's a lot more to the study of Scripture than you realize.

I suggest looking up Gordon Fee or Scot McKnight for their great intro to reading Scripture if you want to get a taste.

The Crack Emcee said...

Deborah,

"Must have been Reform."

Can you name another kind that would have me?

"Reform" is NewAge, BTW.

John Lynch said...

Crack-

I apologize for making an error generalizing to you, as an individual. None of my business.

The Crack Emcee said...

BTW - I love traditionalguy.

Deborah said...

In Islam, scripture is a much bigger deal
"Moses received the Torah from Sinai" (Avot 1:1). Yet there is an ancient tradition that the Torah existed in heaven not only before God revealed it to Moses, but even before the world was created... [T]he Torah in its entirety was revealed by God."
Encyclopedia Judaica.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Christianity is just a branch of paganism, so I'm not surprised.

Scott said...

@Crack:

"Free your mind and your ass will follow." --George Clinton

:)

phx said...

PaddyO:

I don't mind you condescending me at all. Thanks!

{phx, steady. remember john lynch, "Me being dissed as a person on the internet is something I got over years ago." and you yourself said that was wisdom.}

Okay, in other words PaddyO, of course academicians have much more to say about the Bible than I ever will. As academicians have much more to say about lots of things that nevertheless interest me.

If, however, you want to say that so many academicians believe that the Bible is true and they believe that BECAUSE they are academicians, I think I'll just say you're full of BS and leave it at that!

The Crack Emcee said...

Thanks, John, that's mighty fine.

Scott,

In case you haven't noticed:

Once my mind was freed, I became an ass.

Deborah said...

Can you name another kind that would have me?

"Reform" is NewAge, BTW.

If you were employee, I can't imagine they'd care. They only care if you claim to be Jewish.

wv: fecohac. New Age Bullshit.

Scott said...

"Once my mind was freed, I became an ass."

Ah, so that's what you're talking out of this morning. :)

[rimshot]

vbspurs said...

The CE wrote:

God is a ham sandwich.

Preferred by Cafeteria Catholics.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

16 percent of Protestants and 17 percent of Catholics said that they believe that some people can use the “evil eye” to “cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen.”...

You know, this is pretty surprising to me and it shows you how un-animistic American culture is. Most voodoo/vudun/santeria/macumba type beliefs are to be found in Roman Catholic countries (with substantial black populations). We're talking Cuba, Haiti, Brazil.

But though voodoo exists in the US amongst black redoubts (in Louisiana, e.g.) the Christianisation of African-Americans was really thorough. It plays very little role in black Americans' lives. I think it plays VERY little role in white American's lives, outside the lucky horseshoe and rabbit's foot superstitions.

Cheers,
Victoria

The Crack Emcee said...

Hey - here's a nice list of these assholes for you, in case you want to know who's behind this shit.

wv: genes - what most believers have a hard time fitting into.

Scott said...

@CE and VS:

I'm eating a PB&J on high-fiber bread now. It must be Satan.

(Shameless plug: Download my boyfriend's mixtape at www.boneintell.com !)

vbspurs said...

John Lynch wrote:

Human nature has a religious impulse.

Absolutely.

We're a ceremonial, ritualistic species with a need to believe in powers larger than ourselves, in part to explain the world around us. Religion is a natural consequence. Personally, I think the greatest intellectual spark in the history of mankind was the Hebrew people's God of Abraham -- an omnipresent but UNKNOWABLE God.

Cheers,
Victoria

John Lynch said...

I had a white bread PB&J. I should be the Episcopal.

vbspurs said...

PB&J on high-fiber bread now. It must be Satan.

Is it pumpernickel, Scott? Pumpernickel is definitely the evil-doer's delight.

Scott said...

"Step Two: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." --Alcoholics Anonymous

Scott said...

They say that Episcopalians invented the gin and tonic.

edutcher said...

Scott said...

@John Lynch: What you said. :)

What blows my mind is the phenomenon of the "fundamentalist Christian" who supports capital punishment -- a moral sleight-of-hand that non-believers can point to as evidence of hypocrisy.


The old Commie line. Show me in the Bible where the bad guys, particularly in the Old Testament, don't get it right in the neck. And, if I recall, Christ at no point throws over anything in the Old Testament.

There's also the business of "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's". He never said Caesar didn't have the right to execute evil-doers.

WV "weampled" The rationale of two sisters explaining what happened to the two extra batches of cookies they made.

vbspurs said...

I had a white bread PB&J. I should be the Episcopal.

This riff reminds me of Umberto Eco's pronouncement that IBM is Protestant, Windows is Anglican and Apple is Roman Catholic. So I choose a Catholic bread -- PB&J on a baguette.

The Crack Emcee said...

Victoria,

Screw that. I'm with Etta James:

"All you gotta do is Rock 'N' Roll and that's all!"

vbspurs said...

The pantheon of Warner Bros. Cartoon Characters will be a religion soon enough...

I worship Porky Pig, Ron. It helps.

Scott said...

@VS: Actually, the bread is Arnold Grains & More Flax & Fiber bread, 5gm fiber per slice. With PB& grape J, it's a sweet, nutty taste sensation with a delightfully chewy but rugged mouthfeel; followed by a firm and satisfying finish six hours later.

vbspurs said...

My God, Scott! Yum. That sounds positively sinful. Read three Whole Food bottle contents and ethically wash two arugulas.

John Lynch said...

OT on capital punishment-

I have a problem with how it's administered. It seems arbitrary. Most people who seem to deserve it don't get it, and it seems disproportionally applied to black men. It's not fair.

As to whether it's condoned in Christianity, I think you can go either way. The Ancients, pagan and Christian, agonized over ethics while executing criminals. However, given their conditions they didn't have much choice. You couldn't let murderers go free and they couldn't afford prisons.

Today we have the option of imprisonment, so maybe we should take it. Especially since we can't seem to apply the law fairly.

vbspurs said...

"All you gotta do is Rock 'N' Roll and that's all!"

Dear Etta James. She was fun, wasn't she? I mean, is. She's still feuding with Beyoncé last I heard.

The Crack Emcee said...

One thing I wanna say about Jews:

After my regular-church-going wife killed her mother and I started going off on cultism, only my Jewish friends believed me. Having lived through the Holocaust, they didn't doubt what had happened - or how - one bit. They sat up with me, for those first long nights, helping me understand what was happening. Gave me money (my ex and her NewAge quack stole it all) got me work, stroked my brow, told me I wasn't imagining things. Needless to say, I got a lot of respect for Jews.

And now it's being admitted - openly, like it's something to be proud of - this is a cult nation.

I'm going to send this article to some of them.

John Lynch said...

Geez, Crack, wow.

Religions are judged by the actions of their followers. I don't blame you one bit.

Yeah, I like Jews, too.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Pumpernickel is definitely the evil-doer's delight."

Funny - "Pumpernickel" is the name of the blog that I keep up with the killer quack's doings. It's totally supportive of him, even after he killed two more people (with my ex's assistance). I'd link to it but I don't want to tip them off that I'm watching them.

Still, weird.

Freeman Hunt said...

[T]hose who identified themselves as Christian were more likely to believe these things than those who were unaffiliated...

I'm looking at the Pew report, and I see where he got that, though it is not true in the case of "spiritual energy," but he ignores the info earlier in the report that compares Christians and people in general.

For instance, 24% of the public overall and 22% of Christians say they believe in reincarnation -- that people will be reborn in this world again and again. And similar numbers (25% of the public overall, 23% of Christians) believe in astrology

There's a graph next to that with more information, and it appears to show that Christians are actually less likely to believe in the New Age stuff than the population generally.

vbspurs said...

From the op-ed:

Entitled “Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths,” the report points out that many Americans are now choosing to “blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs” and that “sizable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups” said that they have had supernatural experiences, like encountering ghosts.

I am positive that ghost encounters have gone DOWN not UP in modern times, as modern man is more uncomfortable with the dead than in centuries before us who lived with the dead daily.

Seances also were not popularised in the 1920s, the decade where "New Age" beliefs really took off (from the Oxford Movement, to the Baha'i faith, to the rise of charismatic leaders like Aimee Semple McPherson). Spiritualism is as old as man.

This op-ed almost makes it sound like ANY Christian who has contact with other kinds of beliefs not sanctioned by their church, should by force consider themselves near pagans.

Given that logic because I do yoga, I should be considered a Catholic renegade. Silly people.

Scott said...

@CE: That's cool. There are beautiful, humane, ethical people who are (or aren't) inspired by every different kind of religious faith.

More than one tree bears good fruit.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I agree with PaddyO about the synchronicity tendencies of Christianity. But I don't think it is limited to just Christianity. Many religions co-opt bits and pieces of other religions.

I did my college thesis in Anthro on the synchronism between Catholicism and the religions of the Maya and Aztec. The Catholic church already had some of the elements of the existing native religions and this made it much easier to become the dominant religion, in that it wasn't entirely foreign to the natives.

Catholicism in Mexico and Central America today still has many many practices that are hold overs from the Maya and other native religions, blended into current practice today.

Religions don't just die. They morph into each other with people keeping the parts that resonate with themselves and discarding othe parts. This probably also why we don't sacrifice babies to Baal anymore.

Kirby Olson said...

Episcopalians started out reasonably. The Pope wouldn't grant Henry VIII a divorce, so he started his own church that would do whatever he said. Quite reasonable, from his viewpoint!

Lutheranism is also reasonable. Luther didn't like paying indulgences to the Pope. So he started his own denomination so that the money would remain in Germany.

Very reasonable!

There's always something reasonable underneath each denomination and under each religion. People flocked to Christianity at the beginning because they had hospitals.

And Jesus could cure the blind and lepers.

People kind of wanted to see things and not drop dead. Very reasonable. See?

Oh, and Jesus could multiply fish so everybody could eat. So in a sense the Crack Emcee is right that God is a ham sandwich.

God is also about money, sandwiches, women, wine, and song.

John Lynch said...

DBQ-

Yeah, my Peruvian relatives' Christianity is not like what happens in my church here. I don't think that's all that a big a deal, as long as the important things are the same. People disagree on what those are.

vbspurs said...

There are beautiful, humane, ethical people who are (or aren't) inspired by every different kind of religious faith.

What you wrote also encapsulates my deep admiration for Jewish people. Add "intellectual" to the list, though.

(I feel a little uncomfortable saying that out loud, because it seems simplistic and condescending, but it's the truth. Shrug)

vbspurs said...

Who knew this blogpost would turn into a Jewish Appreciation comment thread?

wv: minkywee!! WEIRD. It sounds like a Scottish Jew.

Lem said...

Imagine Live - John Lennon - 72


Imagine no climate too.

The Crack Emcee said...

John Lynch,

Here's the cover of a french magazine that covered the story - name: Robert Wohlfahrt - they did four covers on him, calling him a cultist and everything else under the sun. he's been stripped of his medical credentials, partially, because of me. Now I'm waiting to see if there's any prison time coming. I doubt it:

Courts go easy on "spiritual believers", which is another reason for me to hate this whole set-up.

vbspurs said...

Dust Bunny Queen wrote:

Religions don't just die. They morph into each other with people keeping the parts that resonate with themselves and discarding othe parts. This probably also why we don't sacrifice babies to Baal anymore.

For a good harvest, yet.

Actually, you know what you wrote DBQ is the basis of an argument I had with a Muslim online, where he claimed each religion was an "improvement" over the other, with Islam (obviously) being the "best".

I told him that he's making Judaism sound like Monotheism 1.0, Christianity Monotheism 1.5, and Islam Monotheism 2.0.

John Lynch said...

Victoria-

I get mistaken for a Jew occasionally. I take it as a deep compliment.

Scott said...

re: minkywee

Got a Christmas card for a relative, Wish I could scan it and post it here. Just visualize...

Kid, sitting on a department store Santa's knee: "I want a Wii."

Santa, holding cup: "Me too, kid. This coffee goes right through me."

The Crack Emcee said...

"Christians are actually less likely to believe in the New Age stuff than the population generally."

if y'all really read my blog, you'd know this stuff already:

Like with traditionalguy, I've made tons of Christian friends over this - even been invited to speak about it on Christian radio (which was weird but cool). Christians are so far ahead of the average (secular) person on this subject it's not even funny. They're on the front lines of this battle.

John Lynch said...

CS Lewis saw two big religious traditions on the planet. One is Judaic/Christian/Muslim monotheism and the other eastern Hindu/Buddhist polytheism.

So we shouldn't be too surprised when people try mixing the two. Check out Pure Land Buddhism sometime. It's got a lot of parallels with Christianity.

John Lynch said...

Crack--

Yeah, I've obviously misunderstood you. Sorry. My fault.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Because I do yoga, I should be considered a Catholic renegade."

What part of "yoga is a 5,000 year old spiritual practice" don't you understand? It's not exercise - it's been proven a session of yoga burns the same amount of calories as two Oreo cookies - so what are you there for? To get the cultural memes they're sending you - all of which go against the cultural memes you were raised with.

Oh - the country's polarized and not doing so well, otherwise, since the '60's introduced this stuff?

Geez, I wonder why,...idiot.

reader_iam said...

LOL. Fun to see that old Eco setpiece revived! Seriously.

Eco's 1994 analogy is markedly out of date (and has been, for a long time, now); while clever, still, as it was then, it hasn't aged very well.

; )

vbspurs said...

Heh, John and Scott.

wv: bikes. Everyone rememberrs getting a bike for Christmas, and to many (such as myself), that is still the best Christmas present EVER.

reader_iam said...

Fuck all y'all:

A creed to live by.

vbspurs said...

Crack, I'm British and have different cultural cues and explanations than Americans do (I'm not sure what you are, though you definitely belong to the nation of Mouthy).

I started yoga when my best (British Asian) friend, Kamini, tuned me into the practise. I was around 13.

The Crack Emcee said...

John Lynch,

Everybody misunderstands me at first. It's cool:

Not many have been forced to deal with it as I have.

vbspurs said...

It's got a lot of parallels with Christianity.

This reminds me that I loathe only one recent documentary, really and truly. Zeitgeist. Which tries to convince people that because Jesus was born on 25 December (he wasn't), that he was merely an updated model from the Egyptian god Horus (he's not).

edutcher said...

vbspurs said...

wv: bikes. Everyone rememberrs getting a bike for Christmas, and to many (such as myself), that is still the best Christmas present EVER.

Only 'cause you're a GIRL. For a guy, it's electric trains!! :)

WV "bowedne" What my wife can't do after 40+ years of floor nursing.

William said...

I was raised as a Catholic. I no longer believe, but I respect those that do in the same way that a divorced man respects those who have managed to keep their marriages intact. I have never had an experience that could remotely be described as mystical, but that may be because I'm tone deaf to such chords. In short, I'm agnostic about my agnosticism.....I think religious beliefs are coterminous not with eternal truths but with how you understand the moment in time and environment in which you live. Plato, Augustine, and Thomas did not stand on each other's shoulders so much as they teabagged each other. In any event different generations have had different conceptions of God, God morphs to fit within the universe as we understand it. Sometimes he's a clockmaker, sometimes he's vengeful and arbitray, sometimes He's kind and forgiving... Our universe is a computer game that was developed by an infinitely higher civilization on Orion X. I'm an avatar in this game. I'm being played by an oafish alien who can't figure out how to get beyond Level I.

reader_iam said...

My favorite Christmas present ever was a big jar of olives in my stocking in 1968. (Not that there wasn't a great one before that, and haven't been several great ones since, mind you.)

The Crack Emcee said...

"Crack, I'm British and have different cultural cues and explanations than Americans do,..."

Sure you do, that's why the environmentalist cult is so big there, and doctors have to fight the homeopathy cult, etc. It's all the same shit. You've just been into it so long you're already indoctrinated to think about it otherwise. It's NewAge nonsense repackaged as exercise - I can stretch without turning to Yoga - why can't you?

The Crack Emcee said...

"Different generations have had different conceptions of God, God morphs to fit within the universe as we understand it. Sometimes he's a clockmaker, sometimes he's vengeful and arbitray, sometimes He's kind and forgiving..."

And, always, he ain't there at all. It's juat a bunch of delusional foolishness.

traditionalguy said...

The Abrahamic blessing to the seed of Abraham thru the line of Isaac and Jacob was, after the Temple was sacked in 70 AD, scattered without a national identity for protection for some 1877 years; and then quite miraculously reassembled in The State of Israel in 1947 by many individual survivors from large and near extinct families of European Jews , and then pushed on into Jerusalem in 1967.Many Americans of German, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Austrian and other European descent are in that line but rationally converted to Catholic or atheist to escape recurring torture and death from pogroms practiced upon them by the rulers of Catholic and Orthodox European kingdoms.Today's Christian Zionists (that C-4 so hates and seeks to ridicule )have accepted that the Father God of the Jewish Messiah made a relationship with the Jews in the first covenant cut between Him and Abraham, and are eternally beloved by God and God's people by God's oath. The Christian Zionists believe that non-Jews have also been accepted, unearned, into a second covenant cut between God and man in the blood sacrifice offered by Jesus, and that this covenant is also as fully a part of the Jew's inheritance as the first covenant and is always open to them when they get ready to accept it and return to a Christ-ianity that in practice has seemed to want their destuction since 200 AD. Stay tuned. Things are happening faster and faster focusing on the old city of Jerusalem where all prophecy points.

Freeman Hunt said...

if y'all really read my blog, you'd know this stuff already:

I do read your blog.

I did know it, that's why I clicked into the Pew report.

Synova said...

"What's interesting is that, entirely defying just about every sci-fi writer, there's a post-Christian religiosity that seems even more superstitious than what it replaced. Which is probably why science itself is worse off in such a context, because far too many people are going to turn their religion to Science--and in doing that undermine what science is really about."

Just wanted to say "wow" because Paddy O. hits this right on.

I was going to bring up my theory of the superstitious as revealed by Scooby-doo theory again but this is even more concise. (And not nearly so silly.)

When Scooby-doo first came out it was all about reason and science vs. superstition. None of the ghosts were real. Never. It was always someone preying on people by using their superstitious natures against them. The "gang" would show up and Velma would announce that there was "no such thing as ghosts" and the fun would begin.

Well, after a couple of incarnations, they got rid of Velma and Freddy who'd been the ones most out to defend reason and get the bad guys and kept Shaggy on as the believer and Daphne as a reporter ferreting out the "truth". And the ghosts became real.

Velma and Fred have been brought back, with their minds more open these days and all the superstition that is out there, the zombies the ghosts the aliens the witches... they are all real. All of them.

What seemed to me to be happening at the same time, in real life, in believing churches, was an abandonment of the supernatural. Traditional churches, if they ever were very spiritual, became social places. People who actually believed in God *for real* were frowned upon. Pentacostal churches grew by bounds and New Age religion exploded in popularity. I think, because where else was there to go for a spiritual experience? Except that the new "feel spiritual" churches sucked on doctrine. Bad. Also, at the same time, over the same years of my lifetime, we were bombarded with skewed ideas of tolerance... how *dare* you say you are right and other people wrong? Certainly there are any number of ways to find god, so why not accept them all?

I always knew people who believed in ghost sightings and stuff (and psychic and ghost shows are actually entirely off-limits in our house; the one area where television control exists for us) but I thought that was unusual. But a few years ago I joined a romance writers group and found that psychic stuff was a minefield there. It wasn't just the lady who had published and sold a horoscope calendar for your dog who was a true believer, but half the ladies there.

John Lynch said...

Synova-

See the evolution of the History Channel for a microcosm. Half the shows now are UFOs and ghosts.

Synova said...

"What blows my mind is the phenomenon of the "fundamentalist Christian" who supports capital punishment -- a moral sleight-of-hand that non-believers can point to as evidence of hypocrisy."

I believe that Luther explained at length that the actual executioner employed by the State, who personally killed the condemned person, ought to be a Christian believer.

I don't recall the reasoning well enough to say why he thought so.

Kirby Olson said...

Luther did make Christians into soldiers and executioners. He felt that in the state, there had to be ways to correct the fallen.

Execution tends to correct people.

Judges as well as police, he felt, do a better job in protecting the law, if they understand the law.

Anyway, somebody has to do it.

The laws of Lutheran societies were a lot harsher. Anyone killing a child was buried live for instance.

Today they get a TV and a massage therapist.

Synova said...

"Lutheranism is also reasonable. Luther didn't like paying indulgences to the Pope. So he started his own denomination so that the money would remain in Germany."

I think this is probably sort of backwards.

Luther objected to indulgences, yes. For very good reason. He was trying to save souls and the Catholic church said if you could pay for it you didn't have to change anything at all. (Sound familiar?) I doubt he cared one way or other about where the money was going, and he really didn't have an desire to break from the Catholic church. (Posting his thing on the church door was no more defiant than any announcement for debate stuck on any bulletin board at any college.)

The German Princes did care where the money was going, though. Which is why they protected Luther and others, long enough for the split from the Catholic church to spread and settle in.

Synova said...

Luther is actually a whole lot of fun in so many ways.

He made a rash promise to God to become a monk in exchange for something and followed through. Had his superiors all concerned because he was taking it too seriously, whipping himself even, for his unworthiness, and then one days realizes that scripture and Christ was the *answer* to his unworthiness.

What do you say to someone who is visited by an angelic being and is so certain if himself that he immediately decides that it is Satan attempting to distract him from translating scripture to make it accessible to regular people? (He was giving up sleep as well, which probably explains the vision, but he *still* didn't think it was God, which I think it amazing, considering.)

Or who takes the tavern songs everyone knows and writes new words for his congregations to sing (with correct doctrine, no less) that they can understand and join along.

Or who smuggles nuns out of an abbey (apparently being held against their will) in a daring raid, and then lets one of them bully him into marrying her.

Who consulted with village butchers to find the proper terms for various internal organs as he translated scripture.

Who demanded of God that one of his best helpers, who was very sick be spared, and then many years later repented of thinking he knew better than God since certainly *God* knew how big a pain in the arse the fellow would turn out to be in the future.

We get his short catechism in church, but his long catechism actually has a lot of personality in it. Luther was really a very funny guy.

Alex said...

I agree with Marx on one thing - "religion is the opiate of the masses".

Synova said...

Sure... Marx was right! Religion is so much more the opiate (keeping people dumb and happy and subservient to the state) than what Marx suggested in exchange which was Other People's Money.

JAL said...

Thanks Synova. Luther was my husband's focus for Sysematic Theology many moons ago. I'll pass your comment along to him.

Scott @ 10:48 (I think) What blows my mind is the phenomenon of the "fundamentalist Christian" who supports capital punishment -- a moral sleight-of-hand that non-believers can point to as evidence of hypocrisy.

Not sure I get that as justice and individual responsibility being part of the gig there.

What I find very curious (to put it mildly) are pro-choice [abortion] people who are anti-capital punishment, all for saving the whales and the baby seals and freeing the lab animals.

JAL said...

Professor, you have some of the coolest religious disussions popping up on Althouse.

Thanks.

Robert Cook said...

The only true church--The Church of the SubGenius--has invented the invaluable concept of the "Short Duration Personal Savior," or "Shordurpersav." This is any person or thing you choose as your "personal savior" for any given moment or issue in your life. Once that moment has passed, once the issue has been resolved, you're free to dispense with the old shordurpersave and find another (or several) as your needs or whims strike you.

As The Book of the Subgenius states, "Shordurpersvs change from hour to hour, from whim to whim. It could be the hero of a movie you just saw, the author of a book, a bottle of Thunderbird, a good pal, a dog, a sex object. Not professional gurus you are locked into believing, but temporary ones according to the need of the Now."

At last! A rational irrational belief system!

John Lynch said...

Bob!

Holy cow, haven't heard of Subgenius since I hung out at Steve Jackson Games.

Fnord

Theo Boehm said...

Thank you, Synova, John Lynch, and Paddy O. Good stuff.

As a Catholic, I really appreciate Martin Luther, who, as you know, is now a Doctor of the Church, as far as we're concerned. As a friend who's a Lutheran minister said, "Well, looks like we've buried the hatchet."

But in all this, I'm reminded of an earlier worry, after World War I, about the spiritual future of mankind, that by William Butler Yeats:

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming!

Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all around it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

William said...

Crystal meth is the opiate of the people.

Palladian said...

Trolling is the opiate of "Alex"

Alex said...

God is a pinched loaf.

former law student said...

As far as ghosts go -- has no one here sensed the presence of a deceased loved one?

While there must be a rational explanation (subtle sensory cues below the conscious awareness level?), such impressions are not uncommon.

Paddy O. said...

"I think I'll just say you're full of BS and leave it at that!"

Weird that you're worried about condescension.

Seems like you're the sort who is very much needing to be affirmed of your own intelligence and insight.

All I was saying was that if that was your impression of Biblical studies then you're wrong. And I say that as someone with significant experience being around people who, as academics, believe in religion through their academics.

Indeed, your call for BS is BS, as you think that because of your ill trained perspective can dominate and declare a position.

During a time in which I was wavering in my faith, I chose to stop listening to various sides, become very academically trained to research on my own, and in doing that absolutely restored my faith. I stopped listening to popular pros and cons, and took it upon myself to study the original sources and the history.

Through academics, I am a Christian.

I know many people like that.

It's not at all condescending to tell someone they are ignorant when they are, in fact, ignorant about a field they don't know, but have heard about a lot through secondary sources.

That you call it condescension and make it all personal, whether about me or you, suggests you're not interested in reason at all, and want to maintain your illusion of faith in the unreasonableness of something you've rejected.

Which is very understandable. Not reasonable, but very understandable.

John Lynch said...

Paddy O-

I got to being a Catholic through a course in "Ancient Political Thought" as part of my PS degree. Kind of a weird way to go, but...

Paddy O. said...

"Who knew this blogpost would turn into a Jewish Appreciation comment thread?"

It's a Hanukkah miracle!

DBQ, so right about religions not dying. The question about religions is which ones are able to absorb and which ones get absorbed. It's a question of which brings with it more holistic explanations that tie into a widenening set of experiences.

A non-syncretistic Christianity would look a lot more like Orthodox Judaism than most everything we now think of as church. We're all just comfortable with the ways we've syncretized, and uncomfortable with the ways those other people have done it.

kentuckyliz said...

I live in the Bible Belt (actually one of the most unchurched areas in the country), and the drug problem is huge.

Marx has been turned on his head:

Opiates are the religion of the people.

It's worse than religion being the opiate.

former law student said...

A non-syncretistic Christianity would look a lot more like Orthodox Judaism than most everything we now think of as church. We're all just comfortable with the ways we've syncretized, and uncomfortable with the ways those other people have done it.

Christ lived at the same time that Judaism was transitioning from a religion of priests and sacrifices, to a religion of rabbis and scholarly interpretations. Orthodox Judaism has gone through waves of reformation, like the still-extant Hasids. Today's Orthodox Judaism is very different from the religion of Christ's time.

Youngblood said...

Charles Blow, the author, probably needs some help understanding Christianity.

This part here jumped out at me right away: "Twenty percent of Protestants and 28 percent of Catholics said they believe in reincarnation, which flies in the face of Christianity’s rapture scenario."

It's not Christianity's rapture scenario, it's a belief that a fairly small proportion of the world's Christian's believe in.

It's kind of astonishing for someone to write about Christians and religion without the most basic knowledge of what they actually believe.

kentuckyliz said...

Agree Youngblood...seems like someone misunderstood resurrection as reincarnation.

kynefski said...

I was raised as a Catholic. I no longer believe, but I respect those that do in the same way that a divorced man respects those who have managed to keep their marriages intact.

I find that a strange observation, William. unless you aspire to belief, in which case it makes sense.

Donna B. said...

One thing I noticed was that older people are less likely to believe in any of the more new age stuff.

Since there are very few old people still around who weren't involved in one way or another with the 60s, I think it unlikely that they are simply falling back on an 'old-time religion'.

I'm wondering if it's a falling off of hormones accompanied by experience.

The Crack Emcee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Crack Emcee said...

One more thing:

Anyone who isn't profoundly embarrassed to be associated with anything Newage needs his/her head examined. As my friend, Chris Locke, says:

"When you get right down to it, nobody wants to be seen as New Age because nobody wants to be seen as irreparably stupid."

Alex said...

Crack - I think people do search for things spiritually. I just think they are going about it the wrong way. To me there is spirituality in the right kind of music, looking at a sunset, looking at the ocean.

Pastafarian said...

"[T]hose who identified themselves as Christian were more likely to believe these things than those who were unaffiliated...."

It's been several months, possibly longer, so I'm sure none of you remembers the comment thread where several commenters attempted to persuade me that atheists were more likely to believe in astrology than were Christians.

At the time, I argued that astrology went against everything that would make someone become an atheist; and I was told that I didn't know what an atheist was.

I wish I knew how to search the comments, because I could call specific people out for this, but:

I told you so. Neener, neener, neener.

Trav, (Corpse on the Right, COTR) said...

... Democrats were almost twice as likely to believe in ghosts and to consult fortune-tellers than were Republicans, and the Democrats were 71 percent more likely to believe that they were in touch with the dead....

Well of course, In Philly the dead have been voting democrat for years.

The Crack Emcee said...

Something good for this conversation, with a special mention for Synova:

There's a Scooby-Doo connection!

The Crack Emcee said...

Pasta,

"It's been several months, possibly longer, so I'm sure none of you remembers the comment thread where several commenters attempted to persuade me that atheists were more likely to believe in astrology than were Christians.

At the time, I argued that astrology went against everything that would make someone become an atheist; and I was told that I didn't know what an atheist was."


What they didn't know is what NewAge is - or how it's followers subversively work on the religious. You're right:

No atheist can believe in astrology, or Buddhism (Sam Harris galls me) or anything but what we know.

Penny said...

Studies have shown that people who feel their lives are out of control are more likely to believe in magical thinking, so I'm not at all surprised by the results here.

I will go one step further and say that may also be why Obama's "HOPE AND CHANGE" message was so effective in the last election.

traditionalguy said...

Crack...Thanks for Tim Minchin. That was some powerful truth talking, and I had never heard of him before. Humble people not proudly under the influence of some favorite delusion are exceptions. You are also right that humble Christians under the influence of the Spirit that loves the Truth will also fight the cults that you fight so diligently.

mariner said...

formerlawstudent:
Christ lived at the same time that Judaism was transitioning from a religion of priests and sacrifices, to a religion of rabbis and scholarly interpretations. Orthodox Judaism has gone through waves of reformation, like the still-extant Hasids. Today's Orthodox Judaism is very different from the religion of Christ's time.

Umm, no.

In the time of Christ Jewish religious practice centered on the Temple; every Jew was required to visit it at least once each year.

When the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and forbade Jews (on pain of death) from entering Jerusalem, Jewish leaders re-defined Jewish practice so that Jews anywhere could be observant.

It's my understanding that Hasidism isn't as much a reformation of Orthodoxy as much as one version of it.

mariner said...

Youngblood:
It's not Christianity's rapture scenario, it's a belief that a fairly small proportion of the world's Christian's believe in.

Belief in the resurrection of the body is part of the statement of faith of just about all Christians, as expressed in both the Nicene Creed and the Apostle's Creed.

Perhaps only a few Christians describe the resurrection of the body using the word "rapture", but it is an essential Christian belief.

Belief in reincarnation (as it's understood by most people) is in fact incompatible with belief in the resurrection of the body.

I agree with you that it's sad how little most Christians know about their religion and its history.

;)

former law student said...

Umm, no.

That's funny, my copy of the New Testament talks about the Pharisees.

Big Mike said...

Why not believe in 2 or 3 or more?

I dunno. I'm pretty comfortable with zero.

But I can't help but notice that extremist Christians walk around with smug expressions on their faces waiting for the rapture, while extremist Muslims run around murdering little girls who want to go to school, blowing up school children of both genders, hanging homosexual men, and sawing the heads off of anybody they capture.

I think I see a difference...

vbspurs said...

It's a Hanukkah miracle!

Has anyone seen my Braidel?

(Think about it)

vbspurs said...

Edutcher wrote:

Only 'cause you're a GIRL. For a guy, it's electric trains!! :)

Oh now, you see, this is interesting. I would never have known this otherwise, because I was thinking that most girls would say something girl-specific like "Barbie".

Truth be told, the gift I most cherished was a Mickey Mouse watch my parents gave me as a Christmas surprise (being typical 70s types, they usually "consulted" me about what gifts I wanted, so nothing was ever a surprise).

Cheers,
Victoria

Matt said...

The thing that needs to be taken into consideration is that believing in ghosts or new age stuff or Scientology or Eastern religions is really no more 'out there' than believing in a traditional Christian religion. It is just we live in a Christian country and therefore it is less acceptable to go against the tradition than to go with it.

Sure, some will say Christianity has a longer history and to that I will laugh because - trust me - people have believed in ghosts and spirits and supernatural stuff since there has been man on earth. Plus, a good many Christians believe the Bible is literally true. Now, there is nothing wrong with that but if you believe the Bible to be literally true then you are believing in supernatural stuff.

Personally, I could not care less. Let people believe what they want so long as they are not killing one another. Wait... they DO kill in the name of belief.
Shame, really.

Ann Althouse said...

Crack, I greatly value your comments, but something you wrote had to be censored. I'm preserving the rest of that comment:

Just a few random thoughts:

As an atheist, I find the whole concept of spiritual searching bizarre - really bizarre.

The biggest eye-opener for me was discovering this whole spiritual battle going on with cults and religion - it's why I think I can groove so well with Christians: They're actually engaged in it, while everyone else talks like the rest of you do, like it's just some academic exercise. It just doesn't seem to strike you guys that people are acting on their spiritual beliefs even more than they are their political ones - and why not? Most people can't fight what they don't see, and these snakes in the grass will slither wherever necessary to reach their goals.

It's no surprise to me, now, to see the environmentalists, yoga people, astrologers, etc., as "The Left" willingly attempting to destroy everything they need to be such pissants - it was all provided by the people they hate. The people, like me, who never gave them the time of day to begin with, because we had lives (It's been so long now, I don't know what would be like to be my old, pre-divorce/murder self, that just didn't engage with religion/spirituality, even if I went to church on occasion for a wedding or baptism) Now I see, and am in, the battle itself - and lined up totally with the Christians - the enemy of my enemy being my friend - but mostly because they understand the landscape while the rest of you sound like idiots.

[cut]

As I've alsways said:

Kill liberalism and NewAge will still be here to vex us. Kill NewAge and liberalism dies, too.

It's the only way.

Scott said...

RE: New Age religions: I heard that Eckankar moved their headquarters to Minnesota because they didn't want to be known as "a California religion".

So I guess there is a stigma about spiritual stuff eminating from the Left Coast.

mariner said...

formerlawstudent:
That's funny, my copy of the New Testament talks about the Pharisees.

That's funny, my copy of Dune talks about the Bene Gesserit.

vbspurs said...

I think I see a difference...

I'm going to play Devil's Advocate for a second about Islam, and say those are as much cultural or regional problems, tied to the power-obsessiveness and lack of respect for the physicality of man of the East, as stemming from Islam itself.

Look at the cruelity imposed on this condemned Mongolian, stuck in the middle of nowhere in a pillory-like cage, a public shaming and a warning to others this would be their fate should they similarly misbehave.

That photo is c1912, from the famous early colour photographs of Albert Kahn.

By 1912, this form of punishment was outlawed, indeed, seen as barbaric in the West. People credit the Enlightenment for this turnaround -- indeed, I do too.

But the Enlightenment was only possible through Christianity, whose message isn't submission, but love, respect and forgiveness.

That its believers fall short of that every day, doesn't lessen the message.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

My favorite Christmas present ever was a big jar of olives in my stocking in 1968.

Zoiks. Of course, it's not hard to see why this generation was given a Slinky, and they were happy as all get out with it.

Youngblood said...

"Perhaps only a few Christians describe the resurrection of the body using the word 'rapture', but it is an essential Christian belief."

Sorry, no.

The "rapture scenario" is much more than the resurrection of the flesh. It is a belief in a prophecy invented out of whole cloth around 1830 by an anti-Catholic bigot, which has no legitimate support in scripture or prior theology.

The Catholic church's contention, that Christ will come again and that the dead will be resurrected is not just a little different than the "rapture scenario", it is at odds with it. (And this is not surprising, since those who subscribe to rapture theology believe that the Pope himself will either be the antichrist or support his rise to power, and that Catholics will be duped and left behind.)

Sorry. Try again!

Youngblood said...

Kentuckliz wrote:

"Agree Youngblood...seems like someone misunderstood resurrection as reincarnation."

That wasn't quite what I was getting at, although I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people did get the terms confused on the survey.

What I was getting at, though, is that the "rapture scenario" that Blow referred to was invented long after the teachings of most Christian denominations had been fairly settled with respect to Christ's second coming.

In fact, the "rapture scenario" was invented by an anti-Catholic bigot and, in its purest form, is an expression of anti-Catholic bigotry.

Scott said...

@VS: I worked in Malaysia for awhile in the early 1990s; and have been back there once since then. I got to know a number of Malay guys, my peers, who might call themselves "gay" in other social contexts. But if you're Malay, you're presumed to be Muslim. And as we all know, homosexuality is forbidden by the Koran, so it follows that there are no gay Muslims. In Kuala Lumpur in the hot evenings around Jalan Chow Kit you'll find dozens of pondans, rather skanky and masculine looking things in eye shadow and heels, with bulges in the fronts of their skirts. And you find their suitors, Malay men or male Arab tourists who have no illusions about what these pondans are packing in their nether regions.

But of course, they're all straight. Every single one of them. Because homosexuality is haram, and they're all good Muslims. Of course.

At the risk of professing a false equivalence, every religious community engages in certain hypocrisies; some of which are justified because they protect beneficial human institutions -- and humans are not as perfect as their ideals. And the Muslims I know are lovely, generous, kind people.

But damn it, Islam is a faith so brittle that it requires mind-blowing levels of hypocrisy to keep it from flying apart. It's a religion that denies people their humanity; that directly hurts millions of people in not-so-subtle ways.

I am so glad that my community of faith embraces me for who I am; that I don't have to be worried that my religious leaders will shoot, stone, or hang me for being gay.

For those who pray, please say a prayer for those who are in less fortunate situations. They need God's grace to survive.

Synova said...

And there are no prostitutes in the Philippines, Scott.

(Just ask them.)

Scott said...

(I would ask this woman what her point was, but having been assaulted with F-bombs by her before for no apparent reason, it's a coin toss as to whether she could articulate a coherent one.)

(...moves slowly away...avoids eye contact...)

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann,

No worries:

It was bound to happen, sooner or later.

Synova said...

Crack, thanks for the "Storm" link. I really enjoyed that.

Synova said...

Scott? Me?

(If it was, my point is maybe a bit like vbspers. Perhaps it's something about the region, or perhaps it's not, but there seemed to me to be, in the PI, a very strong willfulness in pretending things were different than they were. The PI (with the exception of Mindanao) being devoutly Catholic rather than Muslim.)

The Crack Emcee said...

King Of The Hill has a few thoughts on religion, too.

Also from Adult Swim, another Scooby Doo connection!!!!

Synova said...

Someone else mentioned this:

"For example, roughly one-in-ten white evangelicals believes in reincarnation, compared with 24% among mainline Protestants, 25% among both white Catholics and those unaffiliated with any religion, and 29% among black Protestants. Similarly, 13% of white evangelicals believe in astrology, compared with roughly one-quarter or more among other religious traditions."

10 or 13% is significantly lower than 25%.

Had I previously argued that *atheists* believed in astrology, or past lives, I certainly misspoke, as my intent was to say that people who actually believe in God have lower levels of belief in the spooky New Age crap. This article seems to be very much conflating Christian believers with those who identify as Christians.

I don't think this article is quite the vindication it seems to be.

vbspurs said...

No, it's not OT. A real saint is showing up a faux Messiah.

Speaking of phony Messiahs, this photo in an ad about Obama asking moms to go back to school, showing up in my Yahoo mail account has got me scratching my head.

I call him "Mortgage Jesus".

He's like that Pam Anderson blog ad Ann had a year ago, where she was shown all messed up -- 4 legs, and arm jutting out of her stomach, etc. It makes no sense, but you look because you gotta.

vbspurs said...

HEY, whaddayaknow. During Oprah's White House Special (anyone watch?) Our Commander-in-Chief mentioned his fave Christmas gift -- a ten-speed bike! Go Obama.

He also mentioned a basketball his dad gave him, during the only time he got to meet his dad.

I don't think I've ever witnessed ANYONE squeeze so much out of one brief meeting with an absentee father, as Obama did with his old man.

You know, he has a gaping psychological wound the size of Idaho about his father, but no one ever talks about it. Meanwhile, PBS did a whole Frontline special about Bush Jr's daddy complex and how that affected his decision to invade Iraq. Uh-huh, right.

"In the conversational interview, the US president said his all-time favorite gifts were a 10-speed bicycle he received one year and a basketball his estranged father gave him one Christmas.

You know, I do remember the one time I met my father he was visiting during Christmas and he gave me a basketball and -- the degree to which I came to love basketball -- it wasn't until much later in life that I realized, 'Actually, he gave me that basketball,'" Obama recalled.

"I think there was some cause and effect there in terms of the degree to which I just ended up taking up the sport as a kid who didn't know his dad."


AFP link.

JAL said...

I thought I read during the campaign that Obama didn't give his kids Christmas presents as he didn't want them -- I can't remember why -- but it didn't make sense to me.

Here it is: Obamas don't give presents.
In a magazine interview Obama and his wife Michelle revealed that one of their steadfast house rules is not giving Christmas or birthday presents to Malia, 10, and Sasha, seven.

The couple explained that they spend "hundreds" on birthday slumber parties and want to "teach some limits". Santa Claus is still permitted to deliver seasonal gifts however.


So did he mention that?

Someone else noticed.

JAL said...

Pretty weird, huh. Given that he remembers his presents.

Synova said...

I remember that.

Thing is... SANTA CLAUS gives presents and his daughters read articles about their Dad.

Synova said...

"-- it wasn't until much later in life that I realized, 'Actually, he gave me that basketball,'" Obama recalled."

So when he thought about it, realizing that it couldn't have been Santa, he realized that the basket ball was a gift from his father.

I get that some people think Santa is fun. We had fun with Santa, too, but were never told he was real. As an older person I approve of my parent's choice to make a clear separation between what we pretend for fun about Christmas and truth, so we never wondered what *else* we'd been lied to about.

vbspurs said...

JAL wrote:

Pretty weird, huh. Given that he remembers his presents.

Good grief, that's right (good memory Synova)!

I even remember mentioning last year that this kind of "parental statement" about self-abnegation is the kind of stuff that leaves DEEP scars in many kids' psyches.

Remember what Joan Crawford's daughter Christina revealed? Joan (my favourite actress) made her kids give away ALL the Christmas presents to instill in them charity towards the underprivileged.

You know we'll be seeing a Mommie Dearest biography from Malia or Sasha one day.

Cheers,
Victoria

Synova said...

I guess my point was meant to be that Santa (wink wink, nudge nudge) most probably does get Obama's children presents.

And some time, a few years from now, they'll realize that they were really from their dad, but he and Michelle are going to keep that fiction going as long as possible.

I do think it would be sort of strange to not have "This is from Santa and *this* is from us" which is sort of what that bit sounds like they don't do. Does grandma get them presents?

Bruce Hayden said...

That's funny, my copy of the New Testament talks about the Pharisees.

I think that this is some indication that the New Testament is more likely divinely inspired, as compared with divinely written.

I say that because my understanding of the various Jewish sects at the time of Jesus is that he and his followers would more likely have clashed theologically with the Temple based sects, like the Sadducees, than the Pharisees. BUT the Sadducees were the high priests, and with the destruction of the Second Temple, pretty much disappeared.

At that point, Judaism, which had been primarily Temple oriented, was adrift. Two of the major strands vying for dominance were the Pharisees and the Jewish Christians. And both seem to have defined themselves as not the other. Eventually, the followers of Jesus broke away, founding what is now the Christian Church, and the remaining Jews pretty much went with the Pharisees, which became Rabbinic Judaism of today.

My point is, though, that the opposition between Christianity and the Pharisees is much more likely to have been right after the destruction of the Second Temple, than during Jesus' life. And, this is, coincidentally, when the New Testament started to be written down. While there is still a lot of dispute about the actual dates that the Gospels were written, at least two, and maybe all four seem to have been written after that destruction.

It appears that the Sadducees were much closer to what we would consider literal followers of the Torah. The Sadducees rejected the Oral Torah (Talmud), which the Pharisees claimed to be a continuously passed down oral tradition which Moses received on Mount Sinai as a companion and elucidation of the Written Torah (Five Book of Moses). Instead they insisted on strict literal interpretation of the Five books of Moses, the Written Torah.

Part of the reason that I think that the opposition to the Pharisees in the New Testament is more historical to the writing of the New Testament than to the life of Jesus is that Jesus seemed to be preaching much more against the Judaism of the Sadducees than of the Pharisees, whether that be aimed at the money lenders in the Temple, or Resurrection. The Sanhedrin that tried Jesus was probably more likely composed of Sadducee collaborators than Pharisees, given the history of the Sanhedrin and the power of the Temple at that time. And the Woes of the Pharisees seem much more applicable to the Sadducees of the time than the Pharisees.

WV: substr - Any other programmers remember this? It is the substring function in a number of programming languages.

reader_iam said...

And some time, a few years from now, they'll realize

Oh, come on: Unless I'm mistaken, Malia Ann was born in the summer of 1998. She's 11 going on 12.

What few years are we talking about?

(However, I will say that--as a not-unrelated aside--how common it is, in my real life, for people [again, to emphasize: in my real life] to refer to the Obama daughters, Malia in particular, as younger than, in fact, they are.

What's UP with that?

REALLY: What the heck is that about?)

reader_iam said...

And Sasha will turn 9 in June 2010, four days before my own son turns 10.

None of 'em are toddlers, or even little kids. Again: What the he[ck] is it with the all the perception?

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

You know we'll be seeing a Mommie Dearest biography from Malia or Sasha one day.

Mebbe. Mebbe not.

It's also possible (and I say that with full and complete knowledge of the cultural reference being made w/r/t to the past and to past figures, and the incompleteness of the relevant record and analogy going forward, w/r/t Malia and/or Sasha) we'll see a "Blogger Dearest, Commenter Dearest" memoir one day.

I'd wait--at least a bit--to place a bet.

UNRR said...

This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 12/14/2009, at The Unreligious Right

Scott M said...

Whenever I get into a discussion with a self-described liberal about this topic, their boiler-plate comment is invariably, "I'm not religious, but I am spiritual".

My retort to such a statement is always the same..."okay...so you believe there's an afterlife, that we are all spiritual beings with a soul, whatever you choose to call it?"

The answer is always "yes".

My follow up question is, "so would you say that the soul (or whatever you choose to call it) leaves the body at the point of death?"

The answer is, again, always "yes".

My final question is, "if the soul resides in the body and leaves it at the point of death, when do you suppose the soul enters the body? When the state says so? When the doctor smacks the babies butt?"

They usually get very uncomfortable at this point and either leave or change the subject.

Synova said...

"What few years are we talking about?"

Unless I'm very much mistaken the quote we're fussing over is from a couple of years ago when Obama's youngest daughter was seven.

Now, my kids never believed in Santa Claus at all, but I would think that a seven year old still might be encouraged to do so.

former law student said...

At the risk of professing a false equivalence, every religious community engages in certain hypocrisies; some of which are justified because they protect beneficial human institutions

Put it this way: is homosex any more haram than adultery?

Where are the Christian leaders decrying Tiger Woods? Is he not letting down the team? Or is he not Christian?

vbspurs said...

This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 12/14/2009, at The Unreligious Right

Good stuff. Especially since a lot of commenters here, like myself, are religious.

Cheers,
Victoria

Synova said...

"Put it this way: is homosex any more haram than adultery?

Where are the Christian leaders decrying Tiger Woods? Is he not letting down the team? Or is he not Christian?
"

Does he even go to church? Do you know?

And even if he did and was considered "observant" there is still no way to know if he is a Christian or not.

The concept of "visible" and "invisible" church apply here.

Other than that... I agree if you're suggesting that Christian teachers ought to spend far more time on heterosexual morality, because that's what most of their congregations struggle with the most. OTOH, in our new world of "good" Christians who are not fuddy and condemning, the idea of pre-marital fidelity is every bit as frowned upon as a heterosexual requirement as a homosexual requirement. NO SEX OUTSIDE MARRIAGE! No hooking up. No exploration of your sexuality or trying it on with someone to see if you're compatible.

Goes for everyone.

(Unitarians or Episcopalians will marry gay couples before God, so no excuses!)

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