Thursday, September 29, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
So tonight on my way back from ACL, there were these insufferable street preachers yelling at people through megaphones telling them that we were all going to hell for listening to devil music and shit. They've been coming back there to the same spot for the past four years now. · · 14 hours ago
Does anybody happen to know if Texas cities, or Austin specifically, require street demonstrators to acquire a license or anything of the sort?
I think it is interesting that Jon uses the same argument (suggesting I might think a candlestick to be evil if he strikes me on the head with it) to defend religion that gun rights advocates use to defend their guns from wacko liberals who don't respect the Second Amendment -- that it is not the gun that kills, but the person holding the gun -- that it is not the religion that damns or goes on crusades, but the person adhering to the religion.
Similarly, the separation of the actor from the object, but with the opposite ascribed value: St. Augustine's famous phrase, "Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum" or, "With love for mankind and hatred of sins."
Why not take the sentiment all the way? Love for the gun owners, hatred for the guns. Love for the murderers, hatred for murder. Love for the religious, hatred for the religion. Obviously there is something amiss about this line of thought. Surely concepts such as "sin" and religion cannot be qualified in the same terms as murder and guns?
And yet, a person does "sin". Just like a person does damning. Just like a person does shooting. Sin does not do the sinning for the sinner. Guns do not do the shooting for the shooter. However, religions, dogmas, creeds, they do the damning through the damner. Religions are just people, telling people, that people other than themselves are damned.
Sort of like corporations -- yeah, they're people -- but they're a bunch of people worshipping at the alter of a giant stack of money, and not just capable of committing but wont to commit horrible atrocities.
Religions are exactly the same. Yes, religion is just people. But they are a bunch of people worshipping at the alter of a deity or creed, and capable of even worse.
However, when people do good things, I am to believe that it is somehow the religion doing the good things, not just the person. The people are still the actors, but their faith in a higher power is what is enabling them to act in a moral manner. But the opposite? When the words of religious dogmas turn ugly? The damnation? We are to believe that those words originate with the people speaking them, not their faith in the one true god.
I'm sorry, but this is wrong. Religions and corporations alike are examples of group-think. Because they are by definition group identities, one cannot dissociate the individual from the group when it comes to their actions. The action of one member of the group is in fact the action of many, and conversely, the action of the group is in fact the collective action or tacitly approving inaction by the individual.
Just saying, "Oh I'm not in that group" or, "Well, no true Christian would ever... do such and such" is not enough. Quibbles and endless distinctions of dogmas and interpretations will be made, but the words are still there clear as day, binding religions and sects together whether all of their followers are comfortable with those words or not. The fact is that most followers of a religion will not even care enough to notice the contradictions in their sacred texts, let alone try to rationalize them, but will instead blindly follow what they are told by the group.
Individual people own nothing except for their actions and words. Bad actions are forgivable, sure. Good actions are commendable, of course. But religions are just the collections of words spoken a long time ago by a bunch of people who insisted upon themselves (and adopted by people who continue to insist upon themselves) and who were intolerant of your reason as well as your forgiveness.
You are capable of great wrong, not only despite your religion, but because of it. You are also capable of doing good, with or without it. Religion, however, is the enshrined belief of your ancestors that you are incapable of living without their guidance. Religion demands that you place your faith in their lack of faith in you to do what is right all on your own.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
I think that we're well advanced into a corporate dictatorship.-- Wendell Berry
My opposition to this began about nineteen-six or nineteen-seven when my daddy was a little boy, and his father had sent his tobacco crop to market, in Louisville, and we went down the next day to see it sold on the boat. And when he came back that night he didn't have a dime, because it had cost everything that the crop had brought to pay the sale commission on.
Now I was down at Duke University not very long ago. Duke University has the only medieval Methodist chapel in the world. And out in front is a statue where the saint would ordinarily be: a statue of James B. Duke. Standin' there with a cigar. And I walked all around that statue. On one side it said, "businessman". And on the other side it said, "philanthropist".
And I said, "Yes, you son-of-a-bitch, I understand exactly what that means: You steal enough money from people like my grandfather in order to be generous with it, and get the reputation of a philanthropist."