01 July, 2006

Violence, violence!

Dennis Perrin has a good bit about the latest nonsense in Israel/Palestine, including a nice debate between Norman Finkelstein and some guy from AIPAC.

Our own government has responded about as expected. This:
Israeli forces entered the southern Gaza Strip this past week as part of efforts to free [captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit]. Israeli forces also detained more than 60 officials of Hamas, the Islamic militant group, which won the last Palestinian election.
prompted this:
President Bush says the key to ending the crisis in the Gaza Strip is freeing [Shalit].
This, following Israel tearing in and shutting off all power in Gaza (read: hospitals and water supply).


Overwhelming force ? Collective punishment? I am shocked, simply shocked, that people who are surrounded (if not outgunned) by an implacable foe and chosen by god would ever do such a thing. 

Posted by gohegdeh

It just occurred to me after posting that some might consider the last post anti-Jewish. It is. I'm also anti-Christian. I don't know enough about other religions to be anti-them; something that I have put little effort into changing.

Here's a gauge of whether I'll like joining your religion. Does it require that I put logic on hold? Do I have to follow rules just because I'm told to? Am I expected to consider other people inferior because they aren't members of the faith?

If the answer to all three is yes, I will ridicule the religion as being contrary to my ideals, though it won't make me dislike people who follow the religion.

Judaism gets a bit of a pass on the first test. Nowadays, it seems that most people who call themselves Jews don't follow many of the rules, so the second test has an ambigious answer. Ambiguous because a strong case can be made that the rules are the religion. And the third test is where my childhood faith, the books of Moses, really falls down. The self-superiority part. If there's one reason I don't go to shul or buy Israel bonds, that's it.  

Posted by hedgehog again

I will ridicule the religion as being contrary to my ideals,though
it won't make me dislike people who follow the religion

Hate the deed but love the doer, hmm? That trick sounds familar, and hard to pull off. For instance, you seem to be wanting to say you are anti-Judaism and anti-Christianity, not anti-Jewish and anti-Christian.

If you apply those tests to the religious with the same rigor that you apply them with to the rest of their and your lives--who is loved and hated, how speech and listening and action are chosen, the source of orders accepted and leaps of faith taken when there is not time to give full consideration, the circumstances of feeling superior and inferior--I think you will find that there are a lot of religious people who, on the balance, engage with religion no differently then you and your seeming more like-minded friends engage with other sources of ideals and satisfaction. I'd even guess, quite confidently,
that there are such religious Jews out there--even Jews who fight for Palestinian rights.

In other words, religion is really a subset of one's actions and preferences and attitudes tagged "religion," and as you say, it's really less a question of joining and more a question of, say, going to Shul or what have you. If we had a flicr catalog of the world's actions and choices, and let the performers tag them with labels like "Because I'm Jewish" or "Because I'm Hindu" or "Because I'm an Atheist"--there are definitely some mean and bad ones in that catalog. But there are also some astonishingly beautiful ones. Tags are not used consistently, either in one person's life or between users, and getting obsessed with the technicalities of one tag can be trouble. But people often get a lot of interesting work done by pursuing a tag. So the real question is--"will pursuing the actions that can take this tag propel me in a direction that's consistent with my ideals?"

Ridicule away, of course. Your tests are good ones, I kind of like them like them,though I would add a fourth -- "Do I feel any attraction at all to your conception of the divine or holiness?" -- which is a question only you can answer. I must say I am not 100% confident, however,that you would give all or any religions a fair shake on your tests--which is as it should be, given that my fourth question should actually be the first question, and there is no need for fairness until it yields a yes.

Treading away from notions of self-superiority and back to the matter at hand, I feel like there is a massive practical problem with the presentation of information having to do with Palestine and Israel. No matter which way my opinion has swung over the years, it has swung through an uncomfortble haze of feeling horribly unable to hold this particular news genre in my head, a haze that makes me shake my head and stop paying attention. I am convinced that some of this has nothing to do with good or evil, but with the fact that it's an inconveniently shaped and scaled landmass that's got too much
topographic and urban detail, and that the populations involved seem coherent on the surface but are actually mind bogglingly diverse. I would pay good money for a website that stayed away from opinionating, and stuck to detailed and dynamic visual representations of what the fuck is going on, how many ppl are involved, who ,where, and howthis compares to the big demographic and geographic picture. Complete confusion quickly overwhelms any sense of outrage. No other global conflict produces such a hig bafflement to information ratio in me.
The mental map I currently have, both geographic and demographic, is incoherent to the point of feeling like science fiction. 

Posted by Saheli

religion is really a subset of one's actions and preferences and attitudes 

components i see in religion:

* tools for group identification.

* tools for managing social and personal development, change, and loss.

* narratives to identify hierarchies of named objects and events. (encyclopedia:dictionary :: religion:language)

* political and financial control systems.

* predictive systems, both to bring benefits and avoid harms, allowing adherents to quickly apply millions of person-years of experience to the interpretation of a new situation. this includes tools for reaching cosmological understanding, which helps to soften or harden the resolve in order to ease reaching particular material and spiritual outcomes.

* potluck dinners.

* singing and dancing.

* funny hats, smoke, bells, and special water.

* healthy helpings of both con artists and suckers.

* schisms usually relating to whether the one or the many is the highest priority.

* glaringly obviously wrong prophesy which is so bafflingly inappropriate it's taken to be a prediction of the end times. (don't get me wrong, i'm a big fan of cognitive dissonance, i have all their albums.)

i know there are some more... i can't write more... that last one set off a fit of giggles about some of my favorites from when i was a kid in church school. 

Posted by hibiscus

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