Category Archives: philosophy

What to expect from the Dawn of Justice

Lex Luthor: We should all be careful when we elevate anyone, human or alien, to “super” status.

Ron Troupe: Because we’re all equal.

Lex Luthor: Well that’s just absurd. No – I’m saying we need to be selective and elevate the right people. The right human people.

“I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome.”—Nietzsche

We’re only a couple weeks away from the movie I have been waiting for: Dawn of Justice (you’ll notice I refuse to use the more sophomoric title that was clearly the brain child of an idiot studio executive *

The Trinity

This film is the extension of the brain child of producer Christopher Nolan and director Zach Snyder.  Christopher Nolan uses classic literature as the backdrop for all of his movies (Batman Begins is The Aeneid, Prestige–Faust, Dark Knight–Othello, Inception–Theseus in the Labyrinth, Dark Knight Rises–A Tale of Two Cities, Interstellar–Odyssey).  Snyder has a long habit of tacking on heavy philosophy as well (the speeches in 300 are better than any of the action, is not what you’d call shallow, and even his worst film Sucker Punch was clearly trying to be something more than pointless action—it failed miserably—but there was a clear attempt, I have no idea exactly what he was attempting but he was trying to do something more there.)

And together they went in a slightly different direction with Man of Steel; they went in a slightly different direction by not pulling from literature, but philosophy and made the whole movie a critique of Plato’s Republic (no really, Krypton is set up exactly like the Republic, castes, children raised to fit predetermined lives and are not raised by parents, they even go as far as to show you Clark reading The Republic in one scene for anyone who didn’t already get it) with Zod as the logical end result of Plato’s terrible philosophy.

Now Nolan is probably not going to be involved in the entire DC universe, but he did help Snyder chart the entire universe for the first round of films…and with charting the plots I am really hoping against hope that he outlined the themes of all the movies and they all deal with the same philosophical grounds that Man of Steel did.

I expect to see Suicide Squad tear Foucault a new one, Wonder Woman glorify 2nd Wave Feminism while destroying 3rd Wave Feminism, Justice League Part 1 to destroy Kant and Part 2 to glorify Aristotle (this is pure speculation)…but I am fairly certain that Dawn of Justice will tear the abhorrent beliefs of Friedrich Nietzsche (laughingly called philosophy)  to shreds.

What do I mean?
Well first let’s go through a crash course of Nietzsche’s insanity.  Now Nietzsche is very quotable, because he put nothing in context, and you can probably find a line to justify anything but traditional religion.  Some of it even sounds quite profound (again when taken out of context)  but when you take it as a whole it’s a poor and rambling attempt to justify sociopathic behavior.  It’s hard to deal with a man who claims at one moment to love self-reflection and then decry reason and rationality as a perversion of humanity the next. Once you’ve actively denied logic, it becomes impossible to challenge you because like a child your interlocutor just says that they don’t care about that, facts and reason aren’t relevant, they have something better, who the hell knows what that is (it’s like arguing with a Trump supporter).  Nietzsche’s ethics are just as bad, hyping the Übermensch:

I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?… All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood, and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is ape to man? A laughing stock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be that to overman: a laughingstock or painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape… The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth… Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman—a rope over an abyss … what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end.—Thus Spoke Zarathustra

While the nature of this overman, like most things in Nietzsche, hard to nail down because Friedrich was committed to an asylum a couple decades later than he should have been, it is clear that the übermensch is not bound by the slave-morality of “good and evil,” to be something superior to the common people, making his own values, free of all traces of empathy, and above the rabble, to do with them and the world as he pleases.

With as abhorrent a vision as this, it is no shock that Nietzsche’s ideas were so easily used by the Nazis (even though he personally did not support such nationalist views while he was alive), and was the subject of condemnation in an early comic which portrayed one of the overmen as a cruel dictator worthy of all the scorn ethical people would put on what Nietzsche viewed as an ideal.  That comic was of course “The Reign of the Superman” by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.  Who quickly realized that the way to truly destroy the values of Nietzsche wasn’t to show how a fascist example of the master race in all its abhorrence, but to show the superiority of ethics in a Superman who was above the maxim that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

And this is why Nietzsche had to be the target of this addition to the Superman franchise, because the entire comic began as an attack on Nietzschian values.

So how will this play out in the film.

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”—Nietzsche

 

“That’s how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men… cruel.”—Alfred Pennyworth

Possibly the only part of Nietzsche that will not be lambasted is the oft quoted warning about staring into the abyss as this is pretty much where Batman is clearly going to begin this film.  His hopeless view that Superman can’t be trusted because “twenty years in Gotham, Alfred—We’ve seen what promises are worth. How many good guys are left? How many stayed that way?”

This man has been fighting for so long he doesn’t believe any one beside himself and Alfred are on the side of good.  He sees the worst in everyone.  Granted after Dent, Todd, Quinn, and who knows who else is in this universe, he’s seen a lot of people fall to their worst side. He has fought monsters so long that as Alfred warns it “turns good men cruel.”

So if this movie is a refutation of Nietzsche why make one of the most hyped points of trailers the point where Nietzsche is correct?  Because it was a tip of the hat to let us know which philosophy they would be dealing with…and because as we all know for all his fighting Bruce isn’t a monster—not now, not ever.  And this movie will show that the good can survive the staring contest with the abyss.  (Which will probably be also mirrored in Clark’s doubts about his mission that we get hints of.

“In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments.”—Nietzsche

 

“This means something.  It’s all some people have.  It’s all that gives them hope.”—Lois Lane

Nietzsche was a real downer of a person.  And for all his claims to hate nihilism, his ideas were more or less nihilistic.

Now certainly the first movie Man of Steel the concept of hope was dealt with over and over.  But we’re going to return to this in this movie and see that, like Nietzsche, people like Luthor find the idea of spreading hope to be a dangerous one…probably because it ruins their ability to control. And we will almost certainly see that the idea of hope is what is going to take Batman out of the abyss and back toward the character out to give people a symbol that we saw in the last time Nolan had his hands on the character.

 

“God is Dead”—Nietzsche

 

“If Man won’t kill God, the Devil will do it.”—Lex Luthor

Nietzsche, Luthor, Zod, and Darkseid (whom we are getting hints of) all believe themselves to be above others, above any concept, laws and judges unto themselves.  They don’t need Gods to give purpose to existence, they just find their own glorification of power to be the purpose.tumblr_o41aveP62f1uorz8zo2_500

But our heroes will show, maybe not in terms of divinity, but a higher concept is still needed to offer a course and goal for humanity…otherwise it wouldn’t be called Dawn of Justice.

“Who can attain to anything great if he does not feel in himself the force and will to inflict great pain? The ability to suffer is a small matter: in that line, weak women and even slaves often attain masterliness. But not to perish from internal distress and doubt when one inflicts great suffering and hears the cry of it — that is great, that belongs to greatness.”—Nietzsche

 

“What have you done?”—Superman

If this Nietzsche quote isn’t an actual recipe for how to create Doomsday I don’t know what is.  And when that monster (I’ll admit I too hope what we saw in the trailer wasn’t the final CGI vision of the monster) is destroyed by DC trinity, it will go a long way to show this glorification of infliction of pain is flawed.

“What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.”—Nietzsche

With all the discussion from Luthor and corrupt Senators (at least I assume she’s corrupt as she’s with Luthor a lot) about power and it’s use, one can’t help but hear a disunion of the will to power coming into this movie somewhere.  And while I think he championing of the Aristotelian virtues is still a couple movies away, I get the feeling that this film will deal with how power is only a tool to be used for virtue or vice and is in itself not the central point of life or ethics.

“When a woman has scholarly inclinations there is usually something wrong with her sexually.”
“I don’t think you’ve ever known a woman like me.”–Wonder Woman

And I can’t help but point out that if you read Nietzsche you may find claims of his wonderwoman.gifanti-Semitism are not as simple as pop culture would have you believe…but his unspeakable misogyny more than makes up for any perceived points by not being a complete Nazi returning Friedrich and his ideas to the category of “complete waste of space and volume.”
And what, to point out the obvious, what better way to put the final nail in the coffin of Nietzsche’s ideas, than to show how wrong his hatred of women as “the weaker sex” with not only a version of Lois Lane who is finally able to figure out who Superman is, but the most bad ass super-heroine in existence.

Granted all of this is based off what we know of Nolan, Snyder, and the few hints from the trailers…but this is what you should go in looking for, as this director and producer have no intention of showing anything so mundane as a overpowered beatdown.

*But still somehow lacked the joy of any of these options.

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The most dangerous idea in history

Ideas have consequences. It’s a concept that not everyone understands. But little things, ideas you just take for granted without a second thought are often the kind of things that can make or break lives, nations, whole civilizations. Get a math historian to explain to you the importance of zero, or the significance of treating an unknown as a variable instead of a constant (it’s called Algebra) and you’ll see the difference between the Ancient world and the modern. Is this world something solid and independent of our minds or an illusion and outgrowth of our minds, probably something you seldom think about and most people probably couldn’t care about, and you’ll see the difference between Western and Eastern history.  While best known as a throwaway line in a less than spectacular movie the difference between “the United States are” and “the United States is” marks one of the most important turning points in American culture.   Little ideas, things that probably don’t occupy the most minuscule moment of the average person’s thoughts can change everything.  Or look at how a line in the Bhagavad Gita saying that every life has a purpose and everyone should strive to fulfill that purpose because of a misunderstanding of its true purpose is turned into the justification of the abhorrent caste system. Little things, like the use of the Greek word for reason to describe God are the things that allow a society to survive.

Why do I bring this up?  Because while some small ideas may vastly improve our lives and other small ideas may radically change them (maybe not for good or bad), some ideas are very, very dangerous because without exception–no matter the time, or place, or circumstances–they always lead to murder, tyranny, suffering, decay, and destruction.

And if you start from this premise that ideas do have this kind of power, what is the most important idea, the one that can mean the survival or death to a civilization?

Well you could look at politics, but politics is a two part situation: one is the people involved–and we have to ignore people because we can’t forget that while ideas have power to shape people and their actions, people are more than just the sum of the ideas of their culture.  There are people who live in cultures with abhorrent ideas who can rise above them, and people who could live in a society that embraced every truth in existence and still fail to live up to them–so when looking for the all-important ideas, we have to take human individuality out of the equation and realize that even the most abhorrent ideas will not corrupt everyone and the greatest ideas will not redeem everyone.

The other part to politics is the ideas of ethics which it is based on as a political system is nothing but seeking to create a structure where everyone can live what the root philosophy of that society sees as the good and ethical life.   Which means we have to look to ethics…but the values and rule of ethics themselves are based on basic metaphysical principles.  The “ought” of ethics comes from what “is” in metaphysics.  If you are a being that needs food to live, then you ought to eat something.  If what you are is a creature based in original sin, then you have a need to remove that sin from your being, then what you ought to do is whatever requirements the God you have sinned against requires of you.  If however you are a being trapped in a nightmare of delusion then you have a need to escape the nightmare, and you ought to meditate on a way to see past the delusion.  Now my examples here are a little simplistic, and the reality of how metaphysics transfers values to ethics is far more complicated in most cases.

However there is one idea that rises above all others and we don’t have to delve too deeply into complex philosophy to see how it has a very, very real effect on ethics, politics, and the real world.

This basic idea is that your soul has value.

Your soul, the thing that is you, has some value.  We don’t have to worry about the conflict of Eastern vs. Western civilization, or contemplate the Classical vs. Enlightenment vision of these ideas because these ideas have been there pretty much in the vast majority of cultures throughout history as a basic building block of civilization.

“It is God, and God alone, who has encased Himself as the soul in the many human beings He has created.”—Paramahansa Yogananda, God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita

“My mind is part of God’s.  I am very holy. “—Lesson 35 from the Workbook for Student of A Course in Miracles

If you haven't read it, you should.

If you haven’t read it, you should.

Every other belief system has some connection between God and the soul. For Judaism, man is created in the image of God (usually interpreted that our soul is like God’s in its intellect and free will differing in degree not kind),

“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him” Gen 1:27 (New American Bible)

In Christianity the Holy Spirit (as part of God) is within each of us,

In Greek Paganism you will see the Greek philosophers talk about that portion of our soul that is like a God,

In Eastern religions you have the statement Namaste (the god within me recognizes and honors the god within you),

“An eternal part of Myself [God], manifesting as a living soul in the world of being”  Bhagavad Gita 15:7

Even Buddhism which technically is agnostic in its beliefs on an all-powerful God, holds that the soul is something divine and the only thing that is real,

“Imagine a wide ocean with a golden yoke adrift upon it. In the depths of the ocean swims a single blind turtle, who surfaces for air once every hundred years. How rare would it be for the turtle to surface with its head through the hole in the yoke? The Buddha said that attaining a precious human rebirth is rarer than that.”—The Dalai Lama The Way to Freedom

I could start getting into other religions, but in every case you will see the human soul placed on a pedestal and often tied directly to the divine. It is the basis of all ethics as this is what gives human life intrinsic value above and beyond simple matter (if you track it back this is the basis of all “secular” Western philosophy and ethics, that human existence has intrinsic value).

And at its root this is why ethics works.  Because all of ethics rests upon the fact that the soul has value.  As it is connected to God, then intrinsically it is self-evident that the soul has value and if the soul has value then a human life has value. And this is why religion and spirituality is so important to ethics, not because we can’t be good unless God gives us a set of rules, but because without a connection between God and the soul, ethics has no grounding in metaphysics.

Without the value of the soul, then there is no reason why one life cannot be sacrificed so long as it makes two lives better.  There is no rational argument against slavery, because if there is not intrinsic infinite value to the soul then the worst form of utilitarianism comes to play and the rights and lives of any smaller group can be destroyed, sacrificed or exploited for the “greater good.”  (Certainly violence isn’t completely forbidden when you do believe in the value of the soul…but only in using it against greater evil).

Yeah that’s all well and good on paper, you say, but that’s not what happens in real life. Okay let’s put my theory to the test.

Are there any belief systems out there that deny the connection of the soul to God?  There are two.

The first is atheism. This isn’t hard to prove when you deny God and the soul, the value of the soul at 0 is a fairly natural extension.
The second is Islam.  But isn’t that a religion?  Well, yes, but only by the loosest definition (much in the same way Charles Mason is a human-being). Islam however has no scene in the Koran or the Haddith that states that man was created in the image of God. None. And whereas many prophets of the Old Testament and Jesus speak of the relationship between man and God, calling us his children, that he lives within us, etc…you find nothing even remotely comparable in the Koran or the Haddith. All you find is comments like 42:11 “there is nothing like unto Him [God].” This idea is repeated over and over in Islam. Every other religion at some level or another stresses the connection to God, that he is a part of us. Islam stresses that we are not like God in any way, completely disconnected from him in all ways. In this respect they are like atheism in disconnecting man from the divine.

And, low and behold if you compare the deaths caused by ALL other religions combined against those caused by Islam it a lot lower (which given that Islam is the newest one on the scene.*
Now as we have gone over previously deaths in war and conquest by all religions excluding Islam and atheists.  The low end for all religions save Islam for the last 2000 years has a high end estimate of about 96 million deaths.  Compared to a LOW END death count of 100 million for Atheism for the last hundred years (sorry atheists, but you have Communism and Nazism—two forms of government that sought to destroy religion in all its forms.  And don’t tell me that they shouldn’t count because they weren’t following what you think atheism should represent…if you want that argument, then Christianity isn’t responsible for a single death in the Inquisition because they weren’t following what Christianity should be.) Ideas have consequences.  The consequences of atheism happens to be killing more people than all religions in one-twentieth the time.  (Higher end estimates would put the atheist number near 150 million)

And let’s add Islam in there. The conquest of Persia (1 million), the conquest of India (80 million), the conquest of Africa (110 million), the Armenian Genocide (1 million), Iran-Iraq War (2 million)…we’re at 194 million and we haven’t even touched anything to do with terrorism.  Sorry atheists you may be butchers but you’re pikers compared to Islam’s history.

Now, we could haggle about including this or that but the fact of the matter is that by a large margin the two belief systems that don’t believe in the value of the soul seem to have a much greater ease at killing in massively high numbers.

Why? Because ideas have consequences.

Because murder is only wrong if you are doing harm to something of value…and rationally we can dismiss about the value of the body, or the impact one person can make.  We can rationalize a lot…but if the soul has value because it is part of the divine you can never fully rationalize it away, you can ignore it, you can come up with excuses, but that idea will more often than not prevent you from doing something contrary to that idea.  But if you don’t hold that the soul has value, then every other rationalization becomes relatively easy.  Excuses become numerous.  Utilitarian murder becomes justified because you have high ideals. The glory of God must be extended at any cost, because the glory of that message is clearly more important than a soul without divinity.  And the society, the good of the whole, the mother land, the father land, the collective is obviously more important.  Enemies can be slaughtered wholesale because their lives have no intrinsic value.  Obstacles can just be eliminated without remorse because of the state or prophet or whatever other bullshit you want to follow, because anything can be made to sound more valuable and important than an individual life (or a lot of them) when there is no inherent value placed on life.

Certainly there are people in religions that value the soul who reject this idea in thought and deed, and there are people within belief systems that deny its value that still intrinsically understand the truth that the soul does have value…but it cannot be denied that this simple idea is what builds civilization or the lack of it becomes the foundation of waves of conquest, genocide, and holocaust.

Ideas have consequences.  And all of civilization is based on this one simple point; the soul has value because it is connected to the divine.  And the denial of it opens the door for almost any evil.

*okay to be fair Scientology is the newest on the scene…but I haven’t seen much genocide from them, and if we’re going to be really honest, Muhammad was little more than just the L. Ron Hubbard of the sixth century.

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AEI: The truths of Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’

Anyone who has read this blog for some time knows I hold Aristotle in a very high degree.  As such it is always great to see others also acknowledge his greatest work Nicomachean Ethics, which in my mind is the most important book every written in the history of the world.  This speech at the American Enterprise Institute about the importance of Aristotle’s works I think is something we should all take the time (it’s worth the hour and a half).

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Conservative Values versus a myriad of extremists

A government professor of mine once stated that all governments were a balance between three different values: Equality, Order, and Liberty. No one value can be pursued without cost to the other two. The ideal society would actually be the one that keeps these three points in balance. However, as we look around modern parties and political movements, the logic of balance seems nowhere to be found.

Four Cardinal Virtues

Individual have the 4 cardinal virtues: Temperance, Moderation, Justice, Fortitude…but these are the basis for the three political virtues: liberty, equality, order. They all have to work together or not at all.

Liberals, socialists and progressives seek equality at the cost of order and liberty finally reaching their ideal society, a Communistic state where everyone is equal but in the end utterly worthless as equality requires none be higher than others, thus all talent, all incentives, and all goals have been destroyed leaving society to collapse before the equally unimpressive slaves that it has created. In a state where all are equal there can be no order because power cannot be vested (even through law) in another thus nothing can keep law and civil society together thus at best everything is merely slave to the whim of the herd (law by the same methods created reality TV)…and there can be no liberty, as liberty leads to exceptionalism, and no one can be better than anyone else

The growing fascist movements of Greece, the tyranny of Vladimir Putin, and the vile wretchedness of Islamofascism value order above all else. But for there to be complete order there can be no liberty because if people can choose for themselves, they will sometimes choose wrong and this inevitably leads to some level of chaos, some crime, some disorder. And in the ordered state there can be no equality, as equality requires that all are subject to rules, and for the ordered state to work no one can watch the watchers because they are the final authority, otherwise there is no way to control and maintain order.

Libertarians and anarchists view liberty as the end all be all of all politics. But where there is perfect freedom there can be no equality, even before the law, because there can be no law if there is nothing but license to do whatever you want. And there can be no order in the fully liberated state as the law who would hold back those who do not recognize the rights of others cannot exist.

And finally populists don’t particularly view any of these as all that important. Yes populists want equality when someone is doing better than them, which is why businesses and businessmen are evil and need to be reined in…but they strangely don’t care about equality when they’re doing better, which is why even Ron Paul brought back millions in pork to his district. They care about liberty, for themselves…but for anyone else, eh, it’s not that important. And order is important, so long as it’s in my general vicinity, enforced by me, and I don’t care if it’s not in my line of sight. (And please understand why I have been hitting the populists posing as conservatives a lot lately, your average Democratic voter has always been a populist. Their activists and politicians maybe progressives, but the voters are populists who just care about their entitlements and what will be given to them).

Meanwhile there is the real conservative viewpoint. That these three virtues of a society must be held in careful balance. That the extreme of any one of these because a dystopian nightmare (Liberty, Order, Equality…Lord of the Flies, 1984, Harrison Bergeron…or for the less well read, Mad Max, Hunger Games, Divergent…or if you prefer history, Somalia, Nazi Germany, Revolutionary France). That a society without these three to guide them is just as bad as one where only one is followed (I’d give an example but modern politics seems to be it and the last few years of Rome seem to be the only places dumb enough to try such an abhorrent idea in practice). Only the society that balances these forces is a prosperous one.

So what is the guiding star of conservatism that makes it so different from these other ideologies? Well, not to sound like a dozen other blogs on this site but the answer is once again, Aristotle.

Aristotle, for all his flawed understanding of politics (give the man a break, there wasn’t much reliable history to work with in the 4th century B.C. and you can’t expect him to have prescience of what was to come) understood that in politics, as with ethics, it is not a question of ends or means, but a question of ends and means. Those who value equality or order only value an end of making everyone equal or making everything peaceful. Those who value liberty only value the means of liberty not the result of what such anarchy brings. Only balancing both ends and means work.

And Aristotle saw the correct end to focus on. The end to all human life is Happiness. And society, family, education must all be structured to ensure Happiness for the greatest number of people. Now because Happiness requires freedom of choice and personal growth, not everyone will reach happiness no matter what a government/family/society does, but it requires liberty and the ability to exercise free will. But because Happiness requires some ability to plan and control your own life, it requires order to some degree. And because the point is to provide Happiness (or the opportunity to pursue Happiness) for the most people as all are equally human and equally deserving at birth of achieving Happiness. None of these on their own can lead to Happiness, and all must work together.

And this is why other belief systems don’t work; they’re not aimed at Happiness.

For instance look at misnamed “social conservatives” (Progressives for Jesus might be a better way to put it). They keep saying that the point of marriage is to have children. As if having children is an end in itself.   And they keep bringing this up as a reason why they opposed gay marriage. Now there are good reasons to get rid of marriage as a legal concept (and replace it with legal civil unions and let religion handle marriage without government interference) but it is not just the Progressive mentality here to have the government take control of everything. It is the missed sense of what the end of things are. They view the family as a means to creating another family. The family, society, everything in the view has no purpose but to serve itself. You have to have marriage to create children. You have to raise children so they lead lives where they get married. They get married to have children…over and over again. There is no point to the individual life (unless you want to get into some bizarre servitude to God, which views God as a master and the individual the slave…but no serious reading of any sane religion even comes close to that.) This is why social conservatives tend to be not only bad at politics but their own religion. Social conservatives should go back and read their Aquinas who makes it clear that “the principal end of matrimony, namely the good of the offspring” and that “the secondary end of matrimony, which is the mutual services which married persons render one another in household matters.” Notice how in the second point it is the betterment of each other (i.e. the individual’s happiness) that is the point of marriage. Just as every social institution is supposed to place the Happiness of the individual as a goal. Parents should be concerned with teaching their children the knowledge, ethics, and character that will allow them to be happy adults. Schools and other societal organizations should be focused on encouraging people to be the best they can be with the goal being individual Happiness. Social conservatives’ problem, like all progressives, is they think society is the end goal, it is not; the good of individual is the goal.

Then you have Libertarians who don’t even consider ends and just, like good Kantian idiots, look at means. And liberty is the only mean they care about. Oh they may say that freedom leads to individual Happiness, but they ignore that just because the exercise of free will is necessary it is not sufficient. (Just as Milton Friedman said that “History suggests only that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.”) Let’s take a look at what sometimes appears to be the only thing that libertarians think about: The War on Drugs. Okay, I will concede that the War on Drugs has been handled idiotically. I will concede that if a person should be able to use drugs in the privacy of their own home if they’re not hurting anyone. I concede that the power to prosecute the War on Drugs has led to massive costs and an intolerable level of corruption in the name of the War on Drugs. But in all this the libertarians fail to admit some very simple things. They act like the people who take drugs are all just innocent little lambs who are the victims of an unjust police power. prison violent

nonviolent

Oh, look it would appear that as incarceration went up crime went down…shocker.

Let me set the record straight: They’re criminals (whether they get caught and convicted or not, they’re criminals). They have the mentality that the rules of society, their long term well-being, and how their actions may hurt others are of absolutely no concern to them so long as they get a moment of pleasure. At best that is vilely hedonistic, at worst it has a bit of a sociopath in it. Libertarians like to pretend that you have otherwise innocent drug users in one group, and in another you have real criminals. And that the fact that we have a massive prison population proves that this War on Drugs needs to end. The problem is that you don’t have two different groups; you have a Venn diagram where criminals and drug users are often one in the same. Libertarians like to point to the increasing prison population, but they always conveniently forget that as prison populations go up violent and non-violent crime go down. They ignore that often drugs are used to put dangerous criminals away when other more serious charges don’t have as much admissible evidence. So there are benefits to the War on Drugs. But not willing to admit that drops in the murder, rape, theft rates is a good thing, libertarians only care about the liberty to do drugs.   They don’t advocate that we should focus more on the cartels, the gang distributors, and legalize personal home use (all things which would still probably round up the worst real criminals while not hurt the people who can actually handle personal use)…no they have to argue that we should just legalize all drugs. No concern for order, just liberty…and no Happiness for anyone.

The other difference between libertarians, Progressive for Jesus**, and real conservatives. Unlike Libertarians, conservatives understand that laws do need to be structured not just to protect rights but to encourage habits that will typically lead to a healthy society and Happiness in individuals (for instance unless we switch to a flat tax having tax credit for charity; the fact that we can’t just get rid of civil union side of marriage, and that we do need a safety net of some kind***; providing minimum standards for education to make sure all students receive a basic minimum of education) but unlike the Progressive for Jesus we must do so in a way that limits (or at least poses as few limits as possible) to the good that liberty provides (deciding what counts as a marriage and what doesn’t, when gay marriage provides the same benefits; spending money and resources checking on what people do in private that hurts no one; dictating what to include content wise in education; etc.).

Being consistently conservative is difficult. It requires balancing numerous issues of the needs of individuals, the long term good of society, Liberty, Order, Equality. And it’s a constantly shifting point because what creates that balance in one era may be totally unbalanced in another. Proper government needs to be directed toward the Happiness of individuals. It needs to balance our needs for liberty, order, and equality. When it does not do these things it creates bad laws. And it is so easy to get lost in caring only about your own want (populists) or one of the political virtues at the expense of the others. Right now we need a lot more liberty, but we cannot forget that it is the balance and the good of society and the individual that is our true goal—not just liberty for the sake of liberty.

Of course none of this is really new…the people who real conservatives look toward as a guide post made it quite clear that liberty, or order (tranquility, defense), or equality (justice, general welfare) were all equal political virtues that had to be held in balance of each other…

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Did we forget we're conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?

*Now I know that I have heard some people have claimed that the FBI is merely shading the numbers—that they’re not counting things the same way to make things look better than they are. I’ve heard that claim from LOTS of people. But you know what I find interesting, I can’t find that claim on any think tank. None. Liberal. Conservative. Libertarian. Nobody. You would think that conservatives would have hit Clinton or Obama for skewing the data, or liberals would have hit Bush. But nobody seems to questions the FBI’s stats…nor is there any jump that you would see if you changed the criteria, it’s a slow progression. So either everybody and I mean everybody, is on a massive conspiracy to slowly skew the crime numbers, or crime really has been dropping.

**You thought I wasn’t serious, but I am. I am using that from now on.

***Libertarians, before you yell at me that we need to get rid of welfare entirely, please remember that Friedman and Hayek both said we need a safety net because having people in real poverty (the kind you see in the third world) creates people who seriously have the choice of steal or die, at which point it becomes a need for them to steal and as we all know from the example of Jean Valjean, utterly unjust to punish them.

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Is Capitalism Humane?

The great Milton Friedman on the ethics of capitalism.

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A Tyranny by any other name would be just as terrible…Why Communism, Fascism and Socialism are really the same thing.

“You can’t call Obama a socialist!”
“You can’t call Obama a communist!”
“You can’t call Obama a fascist!”
“You don’t know what words mean!”
“Obama’s a moderate!”

I’ve heard all of these. All of these statements are incorrect. Why are they are incorrect? Because they like to play fast and loose with the meaning of words. They like to ignore that often in political philosophy there are ideal systems and there are pragmatic realities. That there are actual actions and there is PR. There is where the society is headed and where it is now. And liberals will always use the definition you’re not actually using in context.

For instance if you say that France is socialist, they’ll point out that some industries haven’t been nationalized thus it is not a socialist nation it’s a mixed economy. You’re looking at the fact that France is headed in that direction and the pragmatic reality, they’re looking at is where it is now. If you complain that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a Communist, they’ll point out that she hasn’t endorsed this or that policy from Soviet Russia. You’re looking at where they’re heading and what their ideals are, they only look at the words spoken so far and not making logical connections as to motives. You point out there is no difference between complete Socialism and complete Communism in reality; they’ll start talking about ideals and the utopia to come.

So let’s clear some things up.

There is the Communist Utopia, that place where government dissolves and everybody lives together in a global commune and sings “Kumbaya” and does their best and the shmoo run wild providing all our needs. This place never existed and never will exist on a national or international level. It can work with small groups of people who willingly join, but like pure democracy, it tends to fall apart when the group gets bigger than a couple dozen. This is what liberals claim they mean by socialism, but they forget that this pipe dream requires full and complete ideal Socialism first, even in their own arguments. They just think that the tyrannical government can somehow also be perfectly benevolent and will magically give up power when it has accomplished its goals (in a way no tyrant ever gave up power). And of course this is all silly anyway because history has shown without exception that the system ideal Communism really likes is anarchy, which only ever leads to post-apocalyptic wastelands.

Then there is practical Communism. Soviet Russia, Maoist China, North Korea, Cuba. This has near complete control over all aspects of the economy. They have numerous laws in both social and economic sectors. They are enforced with viciousness by police who basically answer to no one. The governments are controlled by a small cabal of people who have control of everything and while there may be the pretense of elections, the outcome is always the same. Slave labor and murder of citizens is how the populace is kept in its place. And all the time this is called socialism (because this is ideal socialism, although like in ideal communism, there is this foolish belief that it will be a perfect utopia where everyone is happy).

Strangely enough, this is almost identical to another form of government known commonly by a different name, but which saw itself as socialism. Specifically I’m thinking of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), of course known more commonly by the abbreviation, Nazi. But what exactly is the difference? Control of the economy? Check. Control of social order? Check. Slave labor? Check. Death camps. Check. Power of an unelected elite, no rule of law, state sponsored atheism*, no protection of natural rights.

That about sums it up.  But I'm always open to being proven wrong...How in any practical way is communism different from fascism or from what socialist say they want?

That about sums it up. But I’m always open to being proven wrong…How in any practical way is communism different from fascism or from what socialist say they want?

Check, check, check, and check. You know what the difference is between Fascism and Communism? It’s not in the type of government you have, it’s in the propaganda. Communism promises you a utopia where everyone is equal because they have done away with class, and every terrible act is justified to accomplish this greater good. Fascism is completely different in every way. Fascism promises you a utopia where everyone is equal because they have done away with everyone from a different heritage, and every terrible act is justified to accomplish this greater good.

There’s also a type of fascism that replaces race with religion, but most religions don’t work well with this because most religions argue that the human soul is divine, hence it works against fascist/communist principles that glorify only the whole and degrade the individual. In fact I can think of only one traditional religion that denies the divinity of the human soul and requires you to submit absolutely to the will of God.

Now I guess you could have something really bad which uses the racism of fascism and the class warfare of communism, and the religious overtones of Islamofascism, in one…oh wait, we do have that, it’s called North Korea. Otherwise known as the worst place on Earth.

There isn’t any practical difference between Communism in practice, Socialism in theory, and Fascism. They have the same means, the same methods, the same procedures. And they all have the same result. Suffering. Mountains and mountains of suffering. So, yes, calling someone by all three names is correct because all of them boil down to the lack of liberty in the name of the greater good.

‘But, but, but,’ I can hear the leftist whine now, ‘fascism is ultra-right not ultra-left.’ Okay, one, join the 21st century, the single axis right-left thing has been replaced by two and three axis plots of political leanings…and on those communism and fascism are pretty close to each other. The only reason some original idiot put fascism on the right was because they equated the love of country of the right wing America and Britain (which was based on the ideals of the nation) with the love of nation seen in fascism (which was based on things like race and ethnicity, you know the exact opposite of ideals). So let’s chalk up another moment in idiocy for political scientists.

‘But, but, but,’ they whiners will continue…and then they’ll bring up what we typically call socialism, the mixed-economy, and they’ll say that works. And the problem here is that the mixed-economy model covers a whole wide range of economic systems. Let’s start as the most free, the mixed-economy that leans towards capitalism (America in more recent history). Typically this tends to work and create prosperity. Then you moved to a truly mixed economy that are truly using a bit of capitalism and a bit of socialism (Israel, Poland, Mexico, France) depending on a lot of factors such as resources, culture, infrastructure, terrorism and crime issues, etc., this can work decently or not, but it tends not to create truly thriving and flourishing economies. Then you have your socialist leaning mixed economies like Greece (yeah they’re doing well) or India and China (where the media likes to focus on some people doing well, but somehow the socialism is still providing not much prosperity to the masses). But since all of these are called mixed-economies, idiots like to point to the successes of the capitalist leaning ones or the ones that benefit also from strong cultural issues, and use that as a justification for the socialist policies. However, this is silly, because when you line up countries by how economically free they are versus the prosperity there is, has always been, and will always be a strong relationship between economic liberty and prosperity. In fact there is a strong relationship to a lot of things we like (standard of living, life expectancy, low corruption) that comes with more economic freedom.

Yes maybe one country listed as a 67 by the Heritage scale of economic freedom isn’t doing as well as one rated as 57, and maybe one country did better one year even though its numbers dropped a little in that year, but as I said there are a lot of other factors that effect this or that individual nation but overall, every country does better the more economic liberty it has. So when socialists try to tell you about the joys of the mixed economy, point out that actually those benefits are what comes from capitalism not the socialist aspects of the mixed economy.

Now I could get into the fact that only capitalism within a Classically Liberal republic (or as close as we have gotten to it) has been shown to offer real protection of rights and real prosperity, but you’ve seen me do that before…or that cronyism, which is really a form of the socialist mixed economy, creates a lot of problem that capitalism gets blamed for, even though it has nothing to do with capitalism, but those are a bit off topic from my original point.

So back to my first quotes.

“You can’t call Obama a socialist!”
“You can’t call Obama a communist!”
“You can’t call Obama a fascist!”
“You don’t know what words mean!”
“Obama’s a moderate!”

Yes, I do know what those words mean. Now it would take a whole other blog to PROVE that Obama’s attacks on the free market and natural rights qualified him for those appellations, but I trust your common sense to make the prima facie case on your own, because I think it’s fair to say that every action he has taken over the last 5 years has moved us away from the benefits of capitalism and more and more toward the economic nightmares of socialism/communism/fascism. The only real question is, is it intentional or just gross idiocy?

Types of Government

*Yes, the Nazis just like every form of Communism embrace, encourages, and enforces state run atheism.

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The Core Values of True Conservative Belief

“We ought not to listen to those who exhort us, because we are human, to think of human things.…We ought rather to take on immortality as much as possible, and do all that we can to live in accordance with the highest element within us; for even if its bulk is small, in its power and value it far exceeds everything.” — Aristotle

Knowledge of Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do. – St. Thomas Aquinas, Two Precepts of Charity.

So I have been looking for the core of conservative belief lately.  What is conservative, what isn’t.

Why is this even an important question?  Well because the conservative movement is overly obsessed with the idea of what a true conservative is (it doesn’t help when your main opposition is a bunch of blind followers in the Democrat party who will kneel before anyone who promises them more shit, and libertarians* who will promise them pot).  Paeloconservatives.  Neoconservatives.  Fiscal conservatives.  Social Conservatives.  Compassionate Conservatives.  (Hint I consider only two of these terms not be contradictions).  It’s a wide range.

And there is no big help when looking to intellectuals.  Sure there is Russell Kirk’s famous list of highly dense academic speak, I even used it in Republicans and Reincarnation, but over the course of his career he kept changing the last few points, making it more and more isolationist, and it’s so complicated as to be useless.

The Wizard's Rules Sword of Truth

Meanwhile, while I love Goodkind’s eleven wizard’s rules, and think them an excellent companion to Aristotelian philosophy, they’re not all that specific.

Then of course you could name certain policies…but that doesn’t work because what is conservative today isn’t conservative tomorrow.  Facts of reality change, priorities get shifted…for instance every conservative needs to be a fiscal conservative, however one can still be a conservative and willing to make a deal to that would raise deficit spending when a more important goal is present, say, toppling an evil empire.  And real conservatives, love the nature of America to take pieces of every culture and incorporate them into the melting pot of this nation…but right now reality and sanity dictate we need to concentrate on border control and being a little more picky about who gets in.

So the problem I’ve had for nearly a year is to find something that is accessible, adaptable, and always accurate in describing the core beliefs of conservatism.  And I just realized it was so bluntly obvious that I didn’t see it (but then again I haven’t seen anyone else talk about it all this time either)..I’ve even stated it, it’s just always been implied.

What are the core values of conservatism that remain the core values at any time any place any situation? The thing that binds Aristotle to Cicero to Aquinas to Locke to Burke to Smith to Adams to Goldwater to Reagan?

The Four Cardinal Virtues and the Three Theological Virtues.

Four Cardinal Virtues
Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, Justice

Prudence

Temperance

Fortitude

Justice

Faith
Hope

Love

The first four come from Aristotle, the last three from Paul (although I would argue they are implicit in Aristotle if you read all of his works) and they are the basis for the most perfect system of ethics ever created.

Think about it.   Liberals only care about results, damn what rights or means you have to violate to create your Utopia (and that’s even before you consider they lack the follow through to do anything); the crazier members of the Libertarian party only care about means and an absolutist idea of right, to hell if you need some minor infringement to make a society properly function or to secure the vast majority of your rights.  Only the virtue based ethics of Aristotle deal in the reality of needing to consider ends and means.  And this refusal to look at only ends or means is one of the first reasons why the virtue ethics are inherently conservative—conservatives by nature see the whole.

Now let’s look at the virtues themselves.

Yes, Aristotle listed a lot of other virtues,

Sense of Shame

Pride

Wit

Proper Ambition

Truthfulness

Righteous Indignation

Generosity

Friendliness

Magnificence

Good Temper

But all of these are natural extensions of the other seven.  So let’s go over them and show why they are at the heart of conservatism.

In the order which most highlights the political aspects.

Cardinal Virtues
Justice.  Conservatives believe in the concept of Justice, that people should be rewarded and/or punished by what they deserve.  Merit.  Earning.  The basis of meritocracy of free market capitalism.  This is of course opposed to the liberal obsession with fair. It’s not fair.  Things should be fair.  Life’s not fair.  And of course whereas Justice requires the equality of opportunity and equality before the law, liberals want the equality of fairness where everyone has equal results.

Prudence.  While a highly complex concept that the word prudence doesn’t quite convey the complexity for the classical concept, it might be best defined as the knowledge of what should be valued.  With Prudence comes the understanding that the only truly valuable thing is Happiness (again I’m using the classical definition of a life lived well) and to value all the subordinate good that are required for Happiness.  This includes liberty, because Happiness cannot be achieved without free will, actual achievement.  Liberalism values material things and sees no higher point to life other than living, social conservatives only value society and some perverted view of God and not the individual or their happiness

Temperance.  Often mistaken for moderation, Temperance is taking the knowledge of what to value from Prudence, and deciding how much you should value it, at what time, in what place and in what manner.  In very simple terms this is the pragmatism of what works so clearly Keynesian economic and the libertarian desire to wipe everything out in one fell swoop without letting society adjust are right out.

Fortitude.  Again often misunderstood to just be courage, it is more tied into the previous three virtues as the will to do what you know to be right.  This throws out RINOs who stand for nothing, and worst of all the politically apathetic who seem to feel that there is no value in anything and nothing worth fighting for.

For purposes here, I am going to take Faith and Hope together because this is the primary difference between paleo and neoconservatives.  Paleoconservatives with their isolationist ways at their core are only looking out for themselves (clearly also lacking in that last virtue) but this is also because they do not have any faith in humanity or hope in the inevitability that republicanism and capitalism will spread to everyone.

Love, the last of the theological virtues and what must be required for all stable society. It is the belief that other humans have value and worth, and must be respected and helped when possible. This is actually the basis for capitalism, democratic-republics, friendship and all progress.  The belief that human beings are worth it (it’s a belief you don’t find in many political beliefs).

I have no doubt that I will come back to this theme over and over…but it has become clear to me that one or all of these virtues is missing in every political philosophy other than true conservatism.

(This will be the first post in an ongoing series on these virtues.)

*Not that all libertarians are this bad, but you have to admit there is a disturbing high number of single issue voters in your party…and their single issue is one that is really dumb. Of course Republicans have social conservatives who are just as stupid.

**I’m just going to gloss over these for now, don’t worry I’ll eventually have numerous blogs dedicated to this now that I’ve figured this out.

 

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Capitalism: The ONLY hope of Mankind

Capitalism is the only system that has been shown to raise people out of poverty. It is the only system that benefits the rich, the middle class, and the poor. It is the only system that can bring a nation out of destitution. It is the only system that works long term. It is the only system compatible with human nature. It is the only system of economics that is ethical. It is the only system of economics that is sustainable because only capitalism creates and encourages the innovation and imagination needs to deal with the constant slew of problems that life brings.

You can either be in favor of Capitalism or you can be an idiot who knows nothing about economics, history, psychology, philosophy, ethics, human nature, politics, reason, logic or facts.











Let me say again…You can either be in favor of Capitalism or you can be an idiot who knows nothing about economics, history, psychology, philosophy, ethics, human nature, politics, reason, logic or facts. That is all.

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Happy May Day! International Day of Celebrating Tyranny and Mass Murder.

So it’s May 1st the pagan holiday of Beltane.  If you celebrate, hope you have a wonderful day.

But more people know this day as May Day.  The international day of Communism and Socialism.  Over 100 Million dead!

TheBlackBookofCommunismLet’s take at the death toll of government that brought us gulags, killing fields, the resurgence of crucifixion (yes, the Chinese crucified Tibetan monks and dissidents).  Forced labor, controlled famines, repression…the death toll is, according the obscenely well researched book The Black Book of Communism: Crime, Terror, and Repression edited by Stepane Courtois puts the number of all Communist/Marxist (where religion is always persecuted and outlawed) at about 100 million dead. Now you could say it’s unfair that I just use the number the book lists and not say some Marxist tripe historian who probably put the number under 10 million…well I deal in reality and the fact that some historians have called the 100 Million estimate “too conservative,” I think I’m safe with sticking with that number.  But please go on, tell me that Communists have not killed millions.

So please remember if you see someone celebrating today for political reasons remember they are celebrating murder.  Don’t worry about them though, karma catches up with everyone (sometimes not in this life, but it always comes through).  But feel free to remind them they are reveling in death and torture.

Communism Deathcommunism posterSocialismCapitalism and Freedom

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The Importance of Religious Pluralism in the Journey of the Soul

Not sure why, but I’m seeing an upsurge in the frequency of people becoming more hostile about their religion being right and everyone else being wrong (and even for the people who aren’t making a big deal out of it, there is a certain ‘my religion is better than your religion’ arrogance in lots of groups, and it just feels like its getting worse).  And I’m not just talking about the psycho-fringe here (or I’m really underestimating the size of said “fringe”).  I always find this a puzzling concept.  Sure there are a few really insane beliefs out there–mostly the ones that dictate ‘my way or else I’ll kill you!’–but for the most part, most religions all have the same core values and differ only in forms, names, and rituals.  And quibbling over these relatively minor issues is pointless. First off most of these people who want to scream for their own religion and no others seem politically motivated (I’ve seen all sides engage in this religious idiocy) given that it only alienates people away from your political causes.  Further, reason doesn’t hold this up?   I mean, do you seriously believe that God, a being of supposed infinite love, compassion, understanding and wisdom, cares about what ritual you use to get closer to him, rather than if you actually get closer to him or not?

And it’s not just implicit in reason, recent scientific research into reincarnation and near-death experience also demonstrate this. Scientific studies have shown that reincarnation is a fact and that you change from religion to religion based on your life—if that’s the case it can’t be that God loves one religion and hates all others.  Similar studies have also shown that during near death experiences everybody goes to heaven, doesn’t matter what their religion is…it’s almost as if God doesn’t give a shit what name you call him by.

potala palace lhasa

The Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet…it seemed like a place both remote and spiritual enough to serve as the starting place for the soul.

So does this mean that all religions are worthless?  That there is just God and his children and it doesn’t matter what you believe…not exactly.   Now, with that knowledge of near death experiences and reincarnation studies, it seems to be that the majority of religions are correct, that life is a series of rebirths, a progression of lessons and stages of learning all leading to Enlightenment…but that still doesn’t invalidate the idea that you should follow the religion you feel called to. If the soul is on a journey toward Enlightenment, let’s think of it as a journey.   For the sake of metaphor let’s say all souls start out standing in the Potala Palace in Lhasa.  High in the Himalayas, disconnected from the rest of the world.  And you know you have to get somewhere (Enlightenment) you have had it roughly described to you, but you don’t quite know where you are going or exactly how to get there.

How you get there would be comparable to the mode of transportation you take.  Some ways like Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, New Age belief and modern Paganism might be equivalent to walking, taking a bike, a boat, a car or a plane*, other religions maybe more like trying a unicycle with a flat tire, spinning in a circle believing you will magically teleport, digging through the center of the earth using a rusty spoon or launching yourself into orbit using high explosives and hoping you land in the right place. ** While in the minority there are religions that are all but useless in all cases…however most religions are more dependent on where you are in your journey. In this example if one religion is equivalent to riding in a car and you’ve hit the Pacific Ocean, it may have gotten you to this point but you need a different mode of transportation (a different belief system) to advance on the next stage of your journey.

Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona

Now for the sake of argument in this travel metaphor let’s say that Enlightenment exists at the Devil’s Bridge in Northern Arizona (chosen for the fact that it is beautiful, and the irony was just too good to pass up).

Now to get from our stating place in Tibet and ending place in Arizona there is no way a single mode of transportation is going to cut it the whole way.  You are at best going to have to walk part of the way, either take a boat or plane part of the way, and probably have to travel in some other forms of transportation for part of the journey.

The Journey of the Soul Metaphor

If only the journey of the soul was this short a distance.

Let’s add to the fact that you’re not always sure where you’re headed.  Granted as long as you’re moving you may be getting closer, or at least have a better chance to learn where the right place is as opposed to the stupidity of staying still, but that still doesn’t always mean you’re moving in the right direction (as some religions that could be used to progress can be misused to put you further away from God…Westboro come to mind).

You could use this metaphor for a lot of things, and show it flawed in numerous other ways.  I just want to show that even on a journey you may use different modes of transportation, as different religions may serve different souls on their journey to Enlightenment.

And my overall point here is that reason tells you God is too perfect a being to care what name you call him by or what rituals you go through to honor him, it’s silly to think that one religion is the right one and all others are false.  Yes there are some blindingly stupid beliefs out there, and there may be beliefs that are wrong for you in your life (take a car when you’re on the ocean) but just because your religious beliefs work for you don’t assume they would work for everyone. The most you can do is ask if you find that your beliefs are leading you to God (if they are, bully for you) and if someone else’s beliefs could never in any way, shape, or form lead a person to God (a religion that calls for stoning people in the 21st century for instance) and oppose those vile beliefs will all your heart and soul.

So even if you aren’t decrying that your religion is better than all others, it might also be best to not always believe that (I know some will think I’m only critiquing Christians here, but really this my religion is better than your religion arrogance can be found in almost every religion)…your beliefs may be exactly what you personally need in your journey right now, but don’t believe that your beliefs will work for everyone at every time.

sedona rainbow

you can never have too many random pictures of Sedona

*Try not to match those up, the religions are in more or less chronological order and the modes of transportation are more or less random.

** I may or may not have had Scientology, Atheism, Keynesianism (it denies basic reality so much and requires so much be taken on faith it’s pretty much a cult) come to mind here…oh and I can’t think what religion I had in mind when I mentioned strapping high explosives to yourself…certainly not a religion of peace.  Not everyone following those beliefs is stuck at a stand still, it’s just highly, highly unlikely they’re going to be making a major push forward in that life.  And this is the balance to an acceptance of other beliefs, admitting that there are some really dumb beliefs out there.

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Hope, the American Way, and the “Man of Steel” Trailer


So there appears to be some brouhaha over the newest trailer for Man of Steel.  I have seen complaints about this on no less than 3 different political web sites, which seems a bit much for a trailer, but since they want to make a federal case over it, it should be pointed out that their case is baseless.   Namely the problem seems to be with the following lines:

Lois Lane: What’s the “S” stand for?

Superman: It’s not an “S.”  On my world it means “hope.”

Lois Lane: Here it’s an “S.”  How about Super…ManofSteelsymbol

Now the first complaint is that this is changing the story, where it has always stood for Superman.  This is a silly claim, especially for a comic book movie, which is based on comic books that have been restarted so many times with so many variations D.C. comics actually had to come up with a storyline about multiple universes just to keep all the versions straight (still didn’t help).   When you’re translating a story from one medium to another it’s pure insanity to think everything can remain the same.  Further, yes you might be justifiably angry at those changes…but only if those changes make the story worse.  The new Star Trek stripped all the good out of the original series and created a cheap sci-fi film that would never have gone anywhere without banking on the greatness of the original…so there bitching about the changes is justified.  Conversely, Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy took the Batman story from a more simplistic action/detective comic and created one of the deepest most meaningful films ever made.  Those changes made the story better, and so whining about purity of the original story is just bunk.  Rewriting stories is a part of literature dating back to when Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides rewrote the works of Homer for stage, nobody in their right mind claims they ruined the stories.  Now it may be that whatever changes Nolan and Snyder have made to the Superman myth in this film may make it better or worse, we’ll have to see, but change is not necessarily good or bad on its own.

The other reason this is silly (and keep in mind I’ve never read a Superman comic in my life, and even I could find this out easily) is that in terms of the meaning of the “S” they haven’t really changed anything.  In the original film starring Christopher Reeve, the symbol stood for the House of El, the Kryptonian family that Superman is a part of. But what about the “Hope” thing?  Apparently some on the Right are having knee-jerk reactions to the word and thinking that this is intended to be a reference to Obama.  It’s not.  This actually is taken directly from the 2004 comic Superman: Birthright written by Mark Waid (Obama had only come onto the national scene at the 2004 Democratic convention in July, the comic came out in September which means it was probably written well before July).  I will shortly come back to why using Waid’s work as a basis for this movie is a very, very good thing.

Finally there are of course the constant complaints still going on about the line from the last movie “Find out if he still stands for Truth, Justice, all that stuff” and how the writers shoved away the phrase “the American Way” and the worry that this will still continue in this film (this of course ignores that the line came from Perry White, the most cynical character in the Superman universe who probably would find the phrase silly).

ManofSteelAfter this trailer I especially find this fear also fairly unwarranted.

Why?

Well what is the American Way?

Contrary to what many believe, it has nothing to do with land, or resources, or economic success, or military prowess, or scientific achievement. America is America because of our ideals.  The ideals of liberty, of meritocracy, that anyone can achieve by their own will.  Or as I have stated before:

We’re the nation that fought to create a republic where the haves and have-nots gave equal measure.  We’re the nation that fought our own citizens to free slaves.  We’re the nation that pioneered capitalism and law that gave liberty and opportunity and progress to more people than any other country in history.  We’re the place where “tired, the poor, the huddled masses” come to be energetic, successful and stand on their own feet.  We’re the country that conquers whole nations so that others may be free then tries to rebuild them and then leaves without tribute or power.  If you don’t think we’re the “shining city on the hill” you don’t know history, philosophy or human nature.  We’re not perfect, we’re not always right, but we are consistently the nation that calls for the best in humanity to put down the worst.

The American way isn’t a habit, or a land, or a race, or even the citizens of this particular country, it is an ideal that believes the best in humanity can always rise above the worst in humanity, that the individual left to their own devices will rise to the pinnacle of achievement and not sink to the depth of depravity.

And just in this trailer alone, we see that way, that ideal.

We see it in Jor-El’s statement

What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended?  What if a child aspired to something greater?

Are you going to tell me a line about how a single individual can rise above the shackles of whatever society throws on them, and achieve because of their own will and merit isn’t at the very heart of America?

Or perhaps Jonathan Kent’s:

I have to believe that you were sent here for a reason.  And even if it takes the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is.

The belief that life has a purpose.  It has been seen in philosophy since Aristotle, but it has never been realized until America.  And this quest to find meaning is a personal one, “you owe it to yourself,” not one laden down with obligations to family, or clan, or religion, or state, or culture, or history or whatever other un-American claptrap other nations have followed.

Or perhaps we should go to first trailer, with another line from Jor-El

You will give the people an ideal to strive towards.  They will race behind you.  They will stumble.  They will fall.  But in time they will join you in the sun—In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.

Shining city on the hill anyone?  The beacon of hope and light that America is supposed to be.

Oh I said “beacon of hope” which brings us back to the symbol and them taking that point from Mark Waid.  This is important that they are drawing form Waid’s version. Why?  I would direct you to an essay written by Waid in the book Superheroes and Philosophy entitled “The Real Truth About Superman and the Rest of Us, Too.” (It’s an excellent essay which you may want to read.)

The essay covers the thought process Waid went through when the head of D.C. asked him a simple question: “Why does Superman do what he does?  Why doesn’t absolute power absolutely corrupt in his case?”  He quickly found the stock answer of, because he’s Superman, to be unsatisfying to the employer who was hiring him to revitalize the franchise.

What follows is an argument that references two of my favorite philosophical beliefs.

The first is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Waid starts from the premise that even though an alien, he has the same needs in the same order as any human.  Physical needs then Safety needs then Emotional Needs then Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsAchievement needs then finally the need for Self Actualization.  (You’ll find that the American beliefs in liberty and capitalism parallel this order of needs quite well).  Now for Superman, the first two, physical and safety need, aren’t an issue at all.  So that leaves emotional, achievement and self actualization needs.  Now he might gain some emotional connections by just being mild mannered Clark Kent, but certainly not achievement or self actualization.  Which then comes to a question of how much does he need to achieve…and this is where Waid turns to another idea, a quote in fact (which I’m hoping against hope will make it into the movie):

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” [Italics on the last part added]

 

It is the realization that Superman is who he is because to do anything less would not lead to his Happiness, and that a central theme of the story has always been that we should all strive to the edge our abilities, as Kal-El does, not just to help others achieve their goals (You will help them accomplish wonders) but to also achieve our own Happiness (you owe it to yourself).

So this is why I’m happy they are pulling from Waid, with the concept of Superman being a symbol of hope, the city on the Hill, because it places the whole story in a very strong and correct footing of spiritual values and Aristotelian virtue based ethics.

Now while Waid, or Marianne Williamson who first wrote this in her book A Return to Love: Reflections on A Course in Miracles, don’t make the connection, it is only through the American Way of personal liberty and personal achievement that we achieve the heights of shining our brightest.  So I feel the need to again point out, that the American Way is being championed in this movie already, whether they say the words or not.

Now, no one has seen this film yet, so it could either suck or make the Dark Knight Rises look like an F film student’s half-hearted attempt…or anything in between. I am merely pointing out that the complaints based only on this trailer are completely unfounded.  This movie appears to appeal to the best in this story, the core ideals that have let it rise above whatever flaws have plagued the various incarnations over the years.

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Books for New Agers: Life Before Life—Children’s Memories of Previous Lives

Reincarnation

So I just finished reading Life Before Life—Children’s Memories of Previous Lives by Jim B. Tucker, M.D.  Yes it’s a book about reincarnation.  But unlike a lot of books about reincarnation that will look at one case of past life regression…or another case of someone having spontaneous memories and working through each case this is a summary of a collection of cases. 2,500 cases covering decades worth of research.  All of them involving children under the age of six, you know before you could theoretically prompt a child to say things.   These cases are being reviewed by the University of Virginia, Division of Personality studies.*

Let’s review some of the main points.

All the children are under the age of six.

All children recall having been someone in a previous life.

About two-thirds of the cases have been “solved”, that is they have identified a specific individual that the child has memories of being.

About a fifth of cases the child has a birth mark or structural defect where the person they claim to have been received a major wound (e.g., a child is born with a birth mark where a shunt had been in their previous life or a child who had memories of being a cop who had died when a bullet destroyed his aorta, being born with a bad aorta that had to replaced).  225 of these solved cases that involve birthmarks and other physical markers are covered apparently in great detail in a 2,000+ page, 2 volume study entitled  “Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects”.

There’s a lot of specific evidence I’m not going over because I actually think you should read the book.  But trust me there is evidence.lifeafterlife

Particular cases are reviewed, their flaws and strengths are laid out and the author goes through other possibilities of explanation which are reviewed.  Tucker spends a great deal of time on the only other remotely possible answer for these children knowing what they could not, that being fraud on the part of the parents.  But given that numerous cases for the U.S. where subjects don’t believe in reincarnation, it seems odd that they would try to fake a case of reincarnation.  Further even fraud leaves too many unanswered questions…reincarnation does not.
The book is an excellent summary of the scientific findings of this group at the University of Virginia** and so while much of the scientific and statistical evidence isn’t presented, it does lay out a sound scientific case for reincarnation.  It deals with the challenges skeptics would bring up and addresses them, then tears them down.

I would highly recommend anyone interested in reincarnation, or looking for scientific proof to back up their faith, read this book.

Some of the more interesting highlights from the book include:

Apparently you are more likely to remember a past life if that life ended only a year or two before your rebirth, there are relatively few memories of distant past lives among these children.

Gender Identify Disorder may, at least in many cases, be related to a soul switching from one gender to another between the two lives and the confusion from change.

The after life, at times, may be as chaotic as this life.

Not everyone remembers heaven, but some do, and you are less likely to remember it if your death in your previous life was particularly violent or sudden.

If you meditate you are more likely to remember heaven in your next incarnation.

There are cases of children remembering their last incarnation being a fetus that was aborted or miscarried.

All that said this book raises some questions that I have and if anyone has any information on this I would love to know.  After reading this book it appears that cases where children are remembering their past lives are becoming more common, or at least it appears that way to me.  I’ll admit that it may simply be that this is only being studied recently, whereas in the past it was not.  However there are cases in the past of people remembering their past lives, Gen. George S. Patton for instance, but these seem to be very rare in the past, where the 2,500 cases collected by the University of Virginia (and you know if they can find 2,500 there have to be ten times that many they didn’t find) don’t make it common, but it certainly does not seem to be uncommon. This makes me wonder if the memories are becoming more and more common.  Since, quite frankly, none of the children in this book  come off as enlightened beings (nor any of their previous incarnations) these memories do not seem to be caused by the individual soul’s level of spiritual enlightenment, my question is does this maybe indicate a greater awakening in the collective soul of humanity?  Certainly this is not going to be answered anytime soon, but it’s something to think about.

Also, the birthmark and other biological signs described in the book are suggested to be related not to karma but more to the mind’s ability to affect the body (the book references the ability to make a hypnotized person believe they are being burned to the point that their skin blisters or the fact that signs of the stigmata are now believed to be caused by psychological not miraculous factors).  Now if the mind, and specifically it’s attachment to certain memorable events (usually what killed you would have a more powerful impact on you, or at least you would think), and we also take into account the issue of some souls not being able to fully adjust to their new gender in the form of Gender Identity Disorder…I have to ask in lesser cases could a soul attached to their previous gender affect the DNA of their new body, thus being the spiritual cause of the genetic factor in homosexuality?  And I bring this up because I have also seen this suggested in the book The Messengers and the issues of Gender Identity Disorder reminded me of it.

*The book was published in 2005.  And deals primarily with 1,100 cases that had been entered into a computer system for statistical analysis.  I can only assume that both the computer database and the total number of cases has increased since the book was published.

** For my conservative readers, it is funded by private endowment, not by tax-payers (although I assume the same researchers are paid by tax payer funds for any teaching they do at the University) so don’t even begin to question if money should be paid for this.

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Drop the meaningless phrase “Judeo-Christian Values” and other ways for Conservatives to win

Okay so several times I have asked what the phrase “Judeo-Christian Values” means and how it is different from the values of other beliefs and religions.  I haven’t received many good answers.  Yes there are certainly differences between them in the nature of God or in the rituals and the structure of the community…but in terms of values there is little difference…everyone regards the soul as divine in some way* and proper understanding of any of these religions lends one to a virtue based ethics in line with the Classical Realism of Aristotle and Plato.  In fact, when you look at most religions there are some pretty strong parallels in all the virtues—some may be more detailed than others in some areas and less in others, but they seem to focus on the same general virtues.

virtue

Granted there is not a point for point comparison between the virtues that I am showing here, and there are shades of difference and meaning, often caused more by culture and period of time they were written in, but in terms of broad swaths, every religion believes in the same general set of virtues. Also this chart could be much more inclusive of a variety of religions and still hold true…but I think you get the point.

So the term Judeo-Christian values, which supposedly would mean the virtues and ethics this group holds to be good and right and true is just the same as the virtues of every other religion, then it’s not that meaningful a phrase.  Yes there are differences between Judeo-Christian beliefs and other religions, but none of these differences have anything to do with the political context of how the phrase “Judeo-Christian values” is used.

The phrase is meant to draw a contrast between spiritual/religious values and those of the secular, progressive, fascist, fanatical sections of society that actually don’t share either a belief in virtue based ethics or have some very radically different values.

So why is this an important point to bring up?

Well because it makes a pretty clear distinction between those who follow Judeo-Christianity and everyone else.  Including people of lots of different faiths who were not intended to be alienated.  Is this relevant?

Well first off I think it’s a fair statement that the term Judeo-Christian values is primarily used by conservatives.  Second I would assume we want to win.  We lost the last election by 3.9% points.  A 3% shift of the vote would have given Romney the popular and Electoral College vote and about 6 Senate seats (i.e., complete Republican control).  So it then becomes a question, is there 3% of the electorate who is religious and spiritual, not already voting Republican, that is not in the Judeo-Christian bracket?

Let’s look at the polls.

Trends in Religion PewPew does a major poll every year looking at the trends in religion in America.  It’s a sample of 17,000 people so it’s fairly accurate as polls go.

So of the “other” religion we have 6% of the nation and of the “nothing in particular” group we have 13.9% of the population.  Together they make 19.9% of the population.  Common sense alone says that if you have 20% of the country, two-thirds of whom are voting against your party, then maybe if you stopped alienating them with an us vs. them term (or at least picked a new term) you could pick up a few…maybe?

So let’s look at the 19.9% a little more closely.  Okay so we can discount about 1% of the “other” group as they are the “religion of peace” and their fairly fascist beliefs are moderately antithetical to conservative principles and the values/ethics being promoted.  So we’re down to 18.9% up for grabs.

Now the let’s look at how the remaining 5% of the “Other” and the 13.9% of “nothing in particular.”  Now a flaw of this report is that they lump the ““nothing in particular” in with Atheists and Agnostics under the heading of Unaffiliated (but for Trend in Religion by party Pewthe purpose of this let’s just assume the numbers are about the same throughout all the unaffiliated, it doesn’t make a terribly large difference anyway).  From the data we can see that only about 57% of the Other group and 69% of the unaffiliated are voting for Democrats (trust me the math works).  So give or take (you know there are some independents we’re not taking into account) that’s about 12%.  12% that probably share the values of the Christian voters who lean toward voting Republican, but for some reason aren’t voting Republican.  Do you think that term “Judeo-Christianity” might have something, even a small part, to do with it?

Isn’t this just a call for political correctness?  No.  The idiocy of political correctness is saying you have to watch everything you say because it might hurt someone’s feelings.   And it is for all levels of life, from the public and political to the personal.  I am not saying you have to adjust your personal language or beliefs.  This is merely a political reality.  We as conservatives have certain values and policies we know will work and better the lives of everyone.  Politics is as much about emotion and perception as it is about facts and plans, probably more so. Political Correctness has nothing to do with practical ends, which is why it has to be enforced by the left so viciously else reason would drive most people to that end anyway; what I am talking about is something very different than being PC, I’m talking about selling an idea with very real consequences.  A term like “Judeo-Christian values” is loaded from the get go, it creates an us vs. them mentality, at a time when we need more of the people in the “them” category to vote for us.  If we switched to using the term “spiritual value” or “God centered” more often, it would mean the exact same thing in terms of everything relevant to politics and ethics, and it wouldn’t emotionally alienate those we are trying to win over.  You can still use “Judeo-Christian” if you really feel strongly about it, but do it knowing you’re hurting the chance to actually see your goals accomplished.

Is this stupid?  Yeah.  It’s silly and ridiculous to think we should have to be this nitpicky about our language and terms to win people to our side.  But, the last time I checked we already had reason, logic, facts, truth, plans, and vision on our side.  Didn’t notice that doing us any good.  Oh, wait this is politics. Stupid thing like word choice do matter.  Is it stupid?  Yeah, but it’s something you have to do.

New Age beliefsBut should we end our discussion of this group of “nothing in particular” with just this term?  Well that might work towards making in-roads with maybe 1% of those 12%, in-roads that would allow the rest of our arguments to make a difference, and that 1% we get to follow reason would be a third of the way we need to go, but it’s still not enough.

Let’s take a look at some of the actual beliefs of this group.  Namely that 25% of them believe in reincarnation (If you assume that all the atheists and agnostics do not believe in reincarnation then it’s actually about 35% of the “nothing in particular” group…or about 4% of the general public.)  Further while there is nothing in this year’s report, previous year’s reports showed that a belief in reincarnation was more popular with women, minorities, the young, Democrats, liberals, moderates, independents, and Christians who attend church less often (i.e., the people we need to win over).

So it is safe to assume that most of those in that 4% are not voting Republican.

But they should.

A belief in reincarnation by its very nature lends to long term thinking—the policies I put in place today won’t just affect my children and grandchildren, they’ll affect me over and over and over again.  Thus anyone who believes in reincarnation has to believe in plans that aren’t as concerned with momentary problems, but with building long term systems that self-perpetuate and offer prosperity to the most people for the longest time with most chance of growth…that would be the capitalism and republicanism officered by real conservative belief.  This is an argument I’ve made before, extensively in Republicans & Reincarnation, and one that we should all make to anyone who holds this article of faith in reincarnation.  If you actually approach them on their own terms, and showed that the logical consequence of their beliefs is conservatism, we could get another 1% of that group…which means of the 49% left we only have to convince another 1% and given the abysmal failure of a second Obama term, that should be easy.

You don’t have to agree with people on faith. But you’re not going to convince them on politics if your stance is mine is the only religion worth following by using terms like “Judeo-Christian value.”  Say “spiritual values” instead, it means the same thing, it still separates you from the secular liberal base you are trying to show a contrast with, and it may pick up a few votes. And if you’re arguing with someone who doesn’t agree with your religion or your politics, you’ll never convince them to give up a faith because of reason, it just doesn’t work (even if you do show contradictions and put them on the path to agreeing with you spiritually, it will initially only dig in their heels more on every other topic against you)…but if you approach them on their terms spiritually and show them how their beliefs do dictate a conservative point of view, then you at least get something.

*The only two exceptions to this are followers of the religion of peace (Sufis excluded) and atheists.

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Bi Weekly Meditation: There should be no conflict between reason and faith.

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

In the beginning was Reason*, and Reason was with God, and Reason was God. (John 1:1)

I post this correct translation of the verse because I have had some odd runs ins with atheists and fanatical Christians lately (and in one really bizarre case someone who seemed to be both at the same time, yes I think that person was just a bit mentally unhinged) who seems to think that reason and faith in God somehow completely incompatible.

This is silly.

This is an embrace of the preposterous ancient concept of “I believe because it absurd .”  That faith, and by extension God, are opposed to and not limited by reason.

Now while there may be some people who feel this way, no sane religion I can think of takes this position.  From St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Contra Gentiles to Krishna in the Bhagavad –Gita to even being implicit in the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, and obviously in the quote above, faith and reason are not portrayed as opposing ideas but rather as ideas that fit together perfectly.

Creation of Adam

There is a reason why that robe around God is shaped like a brain and why the angels are contorted in just the right way to look like the different lobes of the brain.

Yes there are points where reason due to lack of knowledge and information can’t go beyond and that is why we need faith to go beyond it.  And there are places where reason might suggest a certain conclusion, but because our faith disagrees with this point we are forced to revisit the line of logic to find that we missed something.  And there must be times when reason commands that we put away some foolish ideas we previously held on faith.  But correct faith and reason always point to the Truth and are never truly opposed.    And anyone who thinks that they are by nature opposed doesn’t know anything.

Granted if faith says one thing and reason another you do need to find out if your reason is bad or if you misunderstand the point of faith, but never should they be opposed when both done correctly.

But God is ultimate reason, there is no possible reason why God, and the faith that believes in him, should conflict with reason.  And he gave you a brain and the free will to use it…I doubt that was simply to submit to illogic.  Faith may be needed to buffer us through some of the hard parts, but it doesn’t conflict with reason.  And reason doesn’t conflict with faith when they both point to the truth.

So for the next couple of weeks I would like you to consider what you believe because of reason and because of faith.  Find the contradictions, work through them.  And if you simply want a mantra to begin and end these meditations with may I suggest:

God is the mind in which I think

*Some will likely dispute this translation…but if you translated any other philosophical work from the time period λόγος (logos) would be translated as Reason or Logic.  Now in the NeoPlatonic belief system this word is jammed full of a lot of meaning and quite a bit of mysticism, but first and foremost it does mean Reason.

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A sincere and honest question…Judeo-Christian Values? What are they?

The term “Judeo-Christian Values” is bandied about a lot in public discourse.   Yes it dropped off a little after Rick “I want to use the government to institute a theocracy” Santorum dropped out* last year but it seems to be making a comeback.

So I have to ask, again, what are Judeo-Christian values?  How are they important to politics?  And how do they differ from other religions?

Now maybe it’s just as a non-Christian I’m not getting something that you understand as someone who practices this religion.

Now it’s not that I don’t understand the obvious differences between Christianity or Judaism and other religions.  But I don’t see how the differences I do know about have any effect on government. The truth and virtue of capitalism and democratic-Republics are just as true whether you believe in the Trinity/Yaweh, or Braham and Shiva.  The saving power of grace in most of Christianity has little to do with politics, as far as I can see it.  And just because one tribe of people has a very particular contract with God, it doesn’t negate the importance of the rule of law for everyone else.   The differences I can think of don’t have any effect on politics.  And I see the hand of Providence in the creation of this nation, but the hand of Providence can be seen in event that aren’t specifically Judeo-Christian in nature, so that doesn’t necessarily give precedence to only that belief system.  What am I missing?

And the values that do have an effect on politics—the value of the human soul, which leads to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; the condemnation of violence, hatred, envy, hypocrisy; the praising of personal charity, honesty, compassion, hard work and a connection with something greater than yourself—are not the specific territory of Judeo-Christianity.  You find them Hinduism, in Zoroasterism, in Taoism, in Buddhism, in ancient Pagan beliefs, in Baha’i and Sikh beliefs, and in modern day New Age beliefs.  The values, which then become the backbone of our legal systems are in all religions. So why just Judeo-Christianity?  I understand that each of these belief systems place a different ordering on the priority of these virtues and values, but there are so many variations just within the scheme of Judeo-Christianity itself to make that an issue.
Heck even when Paul Ryan refers to Judeo-Christianity he does something very interesting:

A lot of the basis for this government is in this picture...not a lot of these people are from the Judeo-Christian background.

A lot of the basis for this government is in this picture…not a lot of these people are from the Judeo-Christian background.

It’s a dangerous path, it’s a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, Western-civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first place.

He pairs Judeo-Christianity with Western-civilization, with the idea that is unique to the west of the democratic-Republic (a pagan creation by the pagan populations of Athens and Rome) that demands:

Our rights come from nature and God, not government.

(And while these ideas first thrived under predominantly Christian nations of the West, Ryan seems to be acknowledging the pagan Athenian/Roman importance by pairing the two.)

“The Bible is a book. It’s a good book, but it is not the only book. ” …at least in terms of government.

And it seems a little sweeping since while all the Founding Fathers would admit that the Bible contained what they saw as the best expression of ethics they could find, Adams, Jefferson and Franklin denied the divinity of Christ, and Freemason Washington’s beliefs on religion are probably a little more complex than just saying “Judeo-Christian values.”

Now I get that using this phrase may be to separate themselves it’s not the Religion of Peace (which very clearly endorses theocratic fascism) or atheism (both of which deny the divinity of human life)…oh sure atheists say they value human life under their philosophy of secular humanism, but atheism denies any metaphysical reason for human life to have value…so basically it’s them telling me I should just take it on “faith” that human life has value…which rings a little hollow.   But as I pointed out before the phrase also separates you from a lot of religions that do share these ethical values.

So which values am I missing that has an effect on our political structures, rules, and laws that separate Judeo-Christianity from the values of most the other religions on Earth?  I’m not denying the importance of the relationship  a person has with God, or that spiritual beliefs were important in the founding of this nation and is continuance today.  I just want to know if there is a value you think exists in the Judeo-Christian tradition that is necessary for the continuance of this nation that is specific only to the the Judeo-Christian tradition.

And I ask all of this, not because I just want to insult people, but because I have a second argument about this term and how it may be hurting us politically, but I first need to know if there is something about this term that I don’t understand coming from an outsider’s perspective.

*And don’t you dare to try and defend that man as a conservative.  If you look at his record he never met a tax, a regulation, or bribe he didn’t like.

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