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Passions in Poetry

Honor

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Stephanos
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50 posted 10-26-2009 06:09 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant:
quote:
But why would I treat other expressions differently?  A picture of a beautiful woman is just as much not the beautiful woman as a religious belief about life is not life.   Surely you wouldn't say the picture of the woman is more important than the woman herself?   Likewise the religious expression is not more important than life itself.   Both are equally as less than what they represent as they are representations instead of what they actually represent.


The very obvious thing about this to me, is that you are strictly defining religion as idea or principle only (another simple way of saying you don't believe it).  A denial of one's faith in God is different than denying a principle, if God lives.  The fact that religion is "about" God, is no different than the fact that what you are saying is only "about" people.  Yes, I understand that the nature of God is quite different than the nature of human beings.  But saying that there cannot be correspondence (similar to the way in which your own "ideas" here have correspondence) is nothing more than to say that you don't believe it.

quote:
Remember that you are talking about a "principle" or belief.   Therefore it is not actually God himself, just as the picture of the beautiful woman and the religious expression of life are not what they represent.


And so are you.  Would it be valid for me to say that since you are only speaking of ideas about people, that your ideas are invalid?  Of course not.  I recognize the possibility of correspondence.  The fact that you treat religion differently in this regard (even though the correspondence may be quite different), is simply to say you don't believe it.


quote:
It an artistic expression of someone or something, or a confusion, but not the actual  being or thing itself.   It is inferior to beings and life because it is just a representation or an expression not the being or life itself.


There is no inherent argument that would suggest that your own ideas about people correspond any more than someone's ideas about God.  Just as your words and ideas here point to human lives, religious ideas (which are true ones) point to God.      

quote:
Of course we have lines about what we would be willing to do.  But I am pointing out that putting the line at giving up religion itself is an extreme in the other direction    For not being a Christian, or Muslim, etc, is not something horrible. The choice to give up being Christian, Muslim, etc to save your life or someone else's from death, would be just as honourable as many other kinds of sacrafices one may make to save life.


But accounting for the reality of Christ and God, it would be a horrible thing for a Christian to deny his faith and turn away.  If one believes that God has human lives in his keeping (their ultimate vindication and redemption) then human temporal life cannot be ultimate, though important.  

quote:
Me: By calling it "imaginary" you are simply telling me you don't believe it.  Which accounts for our difference.  If you knew it were true, beyond doubt, would you feel the same way?


Essorant: I do believe in it so far as I believe it is imaginary.   But there isn't anything to suggest it is otherwise.    The transientness of the things is much more convincing.   Generally things eventually change and move on.   Therefore, it doesn't seem very likely that any kind of "eternal life" is coming our way.   Unless you consider being "recycled" into different compounds in the universe, as "eternal life".   But as far as being able to keep our soul, personalities, etc.   I can't see any likelihood.   All I can grant is that it is "imaginary" and may be "possible", but not probable by anything that life itself suggests.


Isn't it human life that is utterly transient in your view?  If so, your own argument about the value of humanity fails to be established.  What you call "transient", as far as Christianity is concerned, I would say is borne by sufficient evidence.  We don't have to make this an evidential discussion about Christianity.  But I did want to point out that your own view of humanity as essentially material, impersonal, and ephemeral, poses quite a challenge to your own (Christian if I might dare) views of human dignity and morals.

You said "I do believe in it as far as I believe it is imaginary" ... which could have been simply stated as "I don't believe" .  But you've already communicated that to me many times over.  But in this instance, I asked whether you would feel the same way if you knew it were true.  I certainly would feel as you (or something similar perhaps) If I believed not.  Again, this accounts for our very different answers on the matter.    

quote:
Me:  If an "eternal future" is imaginary until it actually happens, so is any future that hasn't happned, including the future of the lives you say should count more than religion.  Using this standard does violence to your own argument as well.
Ess: But I am not talking about a life that is not already known and had.   This present life is already known and had.   It is not a question that it is the kind of life one has.  But the eternal life is a question ...


You missed my point Essorant.  I am not questioning your view of present life.  I am saying that in proposing that someone ditch their faith in God to "save" a life, you are unavoidably concerning yourself with the future too ... not the present.  Your desire is that they WILL continue to live in the future.  Therefore your rejection of being concerned about Eternal life, because it deals with the future, is groundless for this reason.

quote:
And there is nothing to make it seem more likely that that is what the future shall have instead of the transient kind of life the present has.   All you are going by is the bible.   But how well do lifeforms themselves and life-conditions suggest that "eternal life" shall be coming in the future?


Well we have the resurrection of Jesus Christ, from a historical perspective.  And though you would quickly deny it, perusing some historical works like N.T. Wright's "The Resurrection of the Son of God" might suggest to you that believing something else happened than what was written in the Gospels, (swoon theory, stolen body, total fabrication ...) is difficult to maintain in any historical sense.  

Then we do have anthropology, and the fact the great majority of the human race has believed in some kind of higher powers, and in life beyond death.  Is it more reasonable to think them all deluded, or to think that a hunger points to food?

And we have the sheer philosophical fact that those who take naturalistic materialism (as a worldview) seriously, have a hard time justifying why there should be any obligatory honor or dignity about human life at all ... beyond a kind of "art" or preferential statement.  At least the religious answer says there is a reason for this beyond a blind march of molecules and genes.

I guess our respective views on whether there is "evidence" depends on how we each choose to interpret the data, and on which presuppositions by which we frame the question itself.  


quote:
Don't you think that further confirms why the bible ought not be taken so seriously?   If one doesn't know exactly what it is referring to, the "days" referred to are not actually "days", the amount of years referred to are not actually "years", Eve was not actually a woman, Adam was not actually a man, the flood was not actually a flood, etc, etc, but these representations of some misty profundities, why should he be willing to take it seriously as a reference (instead of predominately art), let alone give up his life for something it speaks about as "eternal life"?


Not really.  I see no reason why poetry cannot be mixed with prose.  The thing is to recognize which is which.  Difficult in some cases?  Perhaps.  But mostly not that difficult.  In a passage which says that God created light on the "first day", and the stars and heavenly bodies on the "fourth day", one may infer that a creative description of the indescribable is going on.  The main purpose (it seems) is to portray the sheer fact and wonder of God's Creation.  

Whether one goes on to believe Adam was a literal man, or an archetypal representation of every man, matters little as long as one accepts that something actually happened to make humanity "fall" into sinful choices, away from God, and that God still pursues this severed relationship in profound ways.

When we come to the more prosaic historical narratives of the Bible, we don't encounter as much of a difficulty in differentiating the literal from the literary.  And by the time we get to the New Testament Gospels we have something that is obviously narrative reportage, and not allegory.

Concerning those who would try to mythologize the Gospels C.S. Lewis wrote the following:

"If he tells me that something in a Gospel is legend or romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he has read, how well his palate is trained in detecting them by the flavour; not how many years he has spent on that Gospel...I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage -- though it may no doubt contain errors -- pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn't see this has simply not learned to read."

          
In conclusion, why would any imaginative and intelligent person (which I believe you are Essorant) want to pedantically suggest that the Bible should be all of one-kind of writing, or to suggest that it shouldn't be trusted or taken seriously because it isn't?


Stephen

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (10-26-2009 09:08 PM).]

Essorant
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Stephanos,

quote:
The very obvious thing about this to me, is that you are strictly defining religion as idea or principle only (another simple way of saying you don't believe it).  A denial of one's faith in God is different than denying a principle, if God lives.  The fact that religion is "about" God, is no different than the fact that what you are saying is only "about" people.  Yes, I understand that the nature of God is quite different than the nature of human beings.  But saying that there cannot be correspondence (similar to the way in which your own "ideas" here have correspondence) is nothing more than to say that you don't believe it.



But I didn't do that Stephanos.   I said that religious belief is an expression of life (which may or may not include God), just as the picture of the beautiful woman is a picture of the woman (not the woman herself).    Therefore I am not trying to say religion is confined to being less important than life for being more about God than many other expressions. I am only saying it is less important because it is not God and it is not life itself.  It is a "picture" of life and God and therefore it is inferior to God and life.  Just as the picture of the woman is inferior to the woman.    

The point of emphasizing that is to show you how little giving up a religion is compared to this present life and saving life.   Your belief is not God, and it is not your life.  And you nor others are dependant on it in order to live.   It is a belief,  just as a cellphone is a cellphone, not the person being talked to through it, nor their life nor your life, even though it helps communication in life.   If you give it up, you still have a world full of room for living and believing.  

quote:
And so are you.  Would it be valid for me to say that since you are only speaking of ideas about people, that your ideas are invalid?  Of course not.  I recognize the possibility of correspondence.  The fact that you treat religion differently in this regard (even though the correspondence may be quite different), is simply to say you don't believe it.


I don't think I am treating religion differently, Stephanos.  I am just pointing out that the belief being about God doesn't make the belief more important than life itself.  

quote:
There is no inherent argument that would suggest that your own ideas about people correspond any more than someone's ideas about God.  Just as your words and ideas here point to human lives, religious ideas (which are true ones) point to God.


But there are, Stephanos.  When I say "present life" or "humans" people have evidence beyond art and books that they may find.  But when you say "God", they don't.   All they have are religious texts, art, and imagination.   People send us to this or that book to find out what is "true" about God because there is no certain objective evidence they may give.    Generally we may find many that live up to "alive" and "human", but not many that live up to the description of "male omniscient omnipotent God"!


quote:
But in this instance, I asked whether you would feel the same way if you knew it were true.


Yes I believe I would, but it is impossible to know that.   For the future is never already "there" by which we know of it "there", because it is always presently "here" as the present.  The reason you can refer to the future is because your mind can take a picture of the present, and then warp that picture with your imagination into something you believe the present will eventually be that you call "future" But that is still imagination, not knowledge.  When it is based reasonably on evidence it may sometimes be used helpfully.   But when it is not it is a great exaggeration, which is not reasonably supported by the process of things we see in the present.   No process of life as it is now gives me any reason to believe I, you, or anyone else will eventually have "eternal life" .  People hope for a life free from death because they want it, not because nature suggests they can have it.
    
quote:
You missed my point Essorant.  I am not questioning your view of present life.  I am saying that in proposing that someone ditch their faith in God to "save" a life, you are unavoidably concerning yourself with the future too ... not the present.  Your desire is that they WILL continue to live in the future.  Therefore your rejection of being concerned about Eternal life, because it deals with the future, is groundless for this reason.


No doubt the "future", which is also imagination, is always involved.  But the great difference here is that the present life is already "here" and had.  It not an imaginary "eternal" life that someone doesn't have and (if Nature has anything to say about it) probably won't ever have.  I am not rejecting "eternal life" because it is future/imaginary/belief, but because there is nothing in nature to give it any likelihood.   It is only a hope, but a hope against everything that nature seems to show about life.

quote:
...what was written in the Gospels...

...the human race has believed in some kind of higher powers, and in life beyond death.

... the religious answer says there is a reason for this beyond a blind march of molecules and genes.



What you bring forth though are still things that are warped by art and myth.  The evidence needs to be beyond literary texts and beliefs.   It needs to be in lifeforms themselves.   Every living thing we see eventually dies.   That is confirmed over and over again by nature.   If the only exception are religious texts and beliefs people have/had, then doesn't that confirm just that: That it is the art of those books and beliefs, contrary to the nature of life itself?  
quote:
In conclusion, why would any imaginative and intelligent person (which I believe you are Essorant) want to pedantically suggest that the Bible should be all of one-kind of writing, or to suggest that it shouldn't be trusted or taken seriously because it isn't?


I am not suggesting it shouldn't be taken seriously as a great artwork, with historical narrative.   But in speaking of distant things, especially the future and being true about an "eternal life", it is the same as I said earlier: a "picture" of the present in the  mind warped by belief and imagination and then called the "future".   Without any evidence in Nature itself that supports eternal life, all it can be is just that: an imagination that doesn't accord with nature.  

There is nothing inherently wrong that.  For imagination and art it is rather "natural" to contradict nature in many ways we represent things.   But don't you think treating it as fact and giving up one's life would be taking it to an unreasonable extreme?  
 


[This message has been edited by Essorant (10-27-2009 05:53 PM).]

Ron
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I'm curious, Essorant.

What would you do if someone was going to kill you unless you willingly gave up food and water?  
Essorant
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53 posted 10-27-2009 06:28 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Ron

I would certainly say that I would give up food and water.   If a man lacks food and water, he may still live a while without them and in that while still at least have a slightest chance of possibily escaping or someone saving him from the threat.

But I don't think that shares much in common with giving up a religion.  If one gives up a religion, he is not in such danger.  He doesn't need a particular religion (such as Christianity) in order to live.  But if he gives up his life he can neither live or practice any religion.  He is dead.



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54 posted 10-27-2009 06:40 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Ron,

          Not the same thing.

     That's the problem with these theoretical arguments, they become so theoretical they lose sight of the reality that undergirds them.  The reality is that one can only give up the appearance of the practice of one's faith, and that is almost always in the end not enough.  Forced conversion, if one looks at the experience of, say, the Spanish inquisition, the original converso is frequently followed by accusations of insincerity, further sanctions and expulsion or death.  It simply isn't enough.  The folks demanding the conversion, Protestant, Islamic or Catholic are always looking for tell-tale signs that the conversion wasn't real.

     Hey, often enough it wasn't.  What did they expect in the first place?

     The demand for conversion gets the appearance of conversion.  The threat of death that you spoke of above  is not to be instituted at the cost of giving up food and water, but at the cost of not allowing fools to see you eat and drink.  It may be a risky proposition, but it is clearly a better option than being burnt at the stake.  Almost always you will, for example, face likely uprooting and the need to flee, if you are lucky enough to be able to do so, should you wish to practice your faith.  Almost certainly, you and your children will face the life-long distrust of your neighbors, if you are lucky enough to survive.

     Since we are a literary crew, there is a turn in Shakespeare criticism which looks at the Shakespeare family as one that needed to adapt to just these sets of pressures through  the last half of the 16th century.  Peter Ackroyd, the fine English novelist and biographer has done a fascinating biography from this point of view.  It is called, oddly enough, Shakespeare: The Biography.  It is almost a case study for how this sort of thing can work out when it does work out at its most fortunate, with the various pieces of misfortune scattered about it.  It's also extremely entertaining.

My best, Bob Kaven

Ron
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quote:
I would certainly say that I would give up food and water. If a man lacks food and water, he may still live a while without them and in that while still at least have a slightest chance of possibily escaping or someone saving him from the threat.

And if you were convinced there was absolutely no possibility of escape, Ess? The instant you said you would forego food and water, your promise became your reality?

quote:
Not the same thing.

It is exactly the same thing, Bob. For a Christian.

Essorant believes he will die without food and water. He has no actual proof of that, just an abiding faith it will be so. The only real difference I see is that Ess admits he would be willing to lie, in vain hope his lie would buy him time to escape. The Christian has no such option.
Bob K
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56 posted 10-28-2009 11:32 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Ron,

          The reference I gave above had to do with how one Christian country dealt with others in this matter, basically England versus a large part of Europe.  The same sort of thing could be seen during the reformation and counter-reformation across the continent, sometimes within countries, as in the case of England itself, sometimes between principalities.  The hundred years war had religious overtones, didn't it?

     That a Christian wouldn't feel Christianity as necessary as food and water, or even more necessary, is not what I'm suggesting.  What I'm saying is that there is the question of the theoretical discussion, in which the discussion gets more and more abstract, and the questions of faith come more to the fore.  Then there is a discussion of what's actually happened when situations like this have come up, not so theoretical and at times occasionally a bit at odds with the theoretical discussions.

     Both Catholic and Protestant can feel that their faith is more essential than food or drink to them, and both have without turning a hair made demands that the other convert of die with no particular awareness of the irony of the demand.  There were martyrs on both sides.

     I would also like to point out to you that there were loads of folks who concealed their religious beliefs or went through forced and phony conversions on both sides.  One of the reasons that I recommended the Ackroyd book was that he was pretty good about talking about this aspect of English history.  It may well be that Shakespeare himself was one of the more or less secret Catholics of the time, and that more certainly his father was.

     My sense is that this isn't the only case available.  Moses Maimonides has written about the pragmatics of dealing with forced conversion; being in a situation where he'd had to deal with pressures from Moslems in that direction when he was living in Spain in the 12th century, he'd had experience with the matter.  One of the candidates for messiah that periodically arises among the Jews became a forced convert to Islam in the 16th or 17th century.

     Conversion of the heathen was, of course, one of the objectives of the crusades, along with the conquest of Jerusalem.

     The point being, I suppose, that Christians are not the only ones who feel that their religion is more important than meat or drink to them.  Even Atheists on occasion have been known to say so, being, I suppose, willing to join those willing to die for their faith — a modest irony, if true.

     If true, I suspect, there may well be many more willing to die for their faiths than actually to live by them, which seems to be a more arduous and detailed project anyway.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven
Stephanos
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Ess:
quote:
But I didn't do that Stephanos.   I said that religious belief is an expression of life (which may or may not include God), just as the picture of the beautiful woman is a picture of the woman (not the woman herself).    Therefore I am not trying to say religion is confined to being less important than life for being more about God than many other expressions. I am only saying it is less important because it is not God and it is not life itself.


No, religious ideas are not God himself, only about him.  That's the nature of all of our ideas and words, even yours.  What you are denying is the possibility of correspondence when it comes to religious ideas, which is saying that you don't believe them.  I already knew that.

quote:
I am only saying it is less important because it is not God and it is not life itself.  It is a "picture" of life and God and therefore it is inferior to God and life.  Just as the picture of the woman is inferior to the woman.


But pictures may be accurate or not.  Jesus said the following:  "whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven" (Matthew 10:33, NIV).  He is someone who claimed a very unique relationship with the Divine, even implying that he was God, with accompanying words and actions ... someone larger than (more important than) life.

quote:
The point of emphasizing that is to show you how little giving up a religion is compared to this present life and saving life.


Unless there may be correspondence.  Unless "giving up a religion" would involve denying God, who is the author and source of all life.  You say it doesn't matter.  Jesus says it does.

quote:
Your belief is not God, and it is not your life.  And you nor others are dependant on it in order to live.


Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."  On a subject upon which you've confessed no knowledge (or much harder to defend, the self-refuting Theology of universal agnosticism which says no one CAN have knowledge of God), why wouldn't it be reasonable to believe Jesus' words about this?  

Countless have expressed a futility of life, without the divine.  Countless have expressed a fulfillment, with God, not possible otherwise.  Countless others have expressed the reality of eternal bliss, and perdition.  Death bed experiences abound where there is either a palpable peace or infernal torment and perception of a spiritual world.  There's evidence enough.  It's our own choice to interpret this how we will.      

quote:
It is a belief,  just as a cellphone is a cellphone, not the person being talked to through it, nor their life nor your life, even though it helps communication in life.   If you give it up, you still have a world full of room for living and believing.
  

The closer analogy would not be to give up the cell phone, but to insult or continually hang up on the person at the other end.

So, you never answered my question of whether you would spit on your mother and barrage her with unheard of expletives, in order to secure an insecure escape, from someone making the demand?

quote:
I don't think I am treating religion differently, Stephanos.  I am just pointing out that the belief being about God doesn't make the belief more important than life itself.


But the belief says that God is more important than life itself ... so, if you are allowing that religious beliefs may also correspond to truth, how could the belief be less important than human temporal life?  For the Christian, such actions are not based upon the belief as theory, but that to which the belief corresponds to.  

quote:
When I say "present life" or "humans" people have evidence beyond art and books that they may find.


And when I say "eternal life" or "God" people have evidence beyond art and books that they may find.

quote:
People send us to this or that book to find out what is "true" about God because there is no certain objective evidence they may give.



You're not so naive to imagine that your own views of human dignity and value (the moral crux of your argument in the first place) have any objective evidence, are you?  You are confusing existence with an ethical value that you accept, just as much by faith as a believer accepts God.  That's not to say it's wrong;  It isn't.  But I am pointing out to you that the morals and values upon which your argument hinges, are impossible to support via "proofs" ... and particularly if you consider the problem of morality and epistemology in a closed, wholly-material universe, that excludes a transcendent personal God whose character is the source of moral law.

So, what is the "proof" and "objective" evidence that we should honor someone else's life ... or even that life is important?

quote:
Generally we may find many that live up to "alive" and "human", but not many that live up to the description of "male omniscient omnipotent God"!


Though you grossly oversimply by saying male, doubtlessly for the purpose of discrediting (for in scripture God created humanity, male and female, in his image), you're still right, not many, just one.        

quote:
Me:But in this instance, I asked whether you would feel the same way if you knew it were true.
Ess: Yes I believe I would, but it is impossible to know that.


Impossible is a strong word.  What objective proof and evidence do you have that it "impossible" to know something of God?  It seems that you, at least, know something of his unyielding transcendence.  Didn't know you were such a Theologian.

quote:
No process of life as it is now gives me any reason to believe I, you, or anyone else will eventually have "eternal life" .  People hope for a life free from death because they want it, not because nature suggests they can have it.


I can see that the pervasive expression of this (however crude or variable) in human history, is a clue (among other evidences) to what I have already taken on authority from Christ who was raised from the dead.

But given your world-view, you would have a hard time suggesting that human dignity and value (upon which your argument turns) is anything more than imagination, simply by pointing out that people want it.  So, What is your objective factual argument for human honor and dignity, that doesn't depend upon the fact that the majority of people have desired it?

quote:
But the great difference here is that the present life is already "here" and had.  It not an imaginary "eternal" life that someone doesn't have and (if Nature has anything to say about it) probably won't ever have.


But in your view-of-things, you can't prove with objectivity that human worth and dignity is already "here and had", can you?  And if sheer darwinian nature has anything to say about, probably won't ever have.

Tell me, if nature has nothing to say about eternal life, why did Jesus use it so often to illustrate Eternal Life, appealing to what people knew of nature?  

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24

Why, as C.S. Lewis observed about paganism, did the theme of dying and rising gods occur over and over, in their nature religions which revolved around observing agricultural realities year after year after year?  Because God's Heavenly truth casts many shadows into the world.

You may not see things the same way, but to say that "nothing in nature" suggests eternal life, is a very turgid argument, if we consider nature as a whole, rather than only its destructive elements.

quote:
What you bring forth though are still things that are warped by art and myth.  The evidence needs to be beyond literary texts and beliefs.   It needs to be in lifeforms themselves.   Every living thing we see eventually dies.   That is confirmed over and over again by nature.   If the only exception are religious texts and beliefs people have/had, then doesn't that confirm just that: That it is the art of those books and beliefs, contrary to the nature of life itself?


Anything and everything you believe about the past, is "warped by art and myth".  What you are really referring to is human subjectivity.  And yet, as I've already pointed out, your own views of human dignity and honor are "warped" by subjectivity.  It is an "ought", and we cannot prove it by sheer human existence.  

I do understand that when it comes to something incredible, it is harder to take human testimony.  However, something extraordinary doesn't automatically rule out genuine reportage.  If you believe we evolved from hydrogen gas, without intelligent help, and without even a claim of eyewitnesses, you believe in wonders quite beyond what I am capable of believing.  

quote:
There is nothing inherently wrong that.  For imagination and art it is rather "natural" to contradict nature in many ways we represent things.   But don't you think treating it as fact and giving up one's life would be taking it to an unreasonable extreme?


Only if I accepted that nature says nothing, metaphorically or otherwise, about eternal life.  Nature is not conclusive, of course, on these things.  But neither is it conclusive of your own ideas, including those about human dignity and honor ... which we both accept as true.  In a religion which states that love, commitment, and devotion (which always involve human ambiguity and uncertainty) are more important sometimes than unassailable objectivity which would amount to "force", the inconclusivity of nature on these questions are understandable.  They were meant only to be suggestive, for those open to the suggestions.  But sheer objectivity is reserved for no one this side of eternity.  Of that I'm convinced.


Stephen    
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58 posted 10-29-2009 01:45 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob,

Are we speaking of dying for one's faith or killing for it?  It seems you have mentioned the latter much more, which can only be called a perversion of Christian practice, while the former is more harmonious with the spirit of the New Testament.

quote:
If true, I suspect, there may well be many more willing to die for their faiths than actually to live by them, which seems to be a more arduous and detailed project anyway.


It is at least worthy of consideration to ask whether one who doesn't live for his or her faith, would be ever be able to die for it ... and whether one who admits no virtue in ever dying for it, could ever really live for it.  

I think the two, as imperfect as they may be in our race, may tend to go hand in hand.  

Stephen
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Dear Stephen,

          I actually spent very little time talking about killing for one's faith, though, when you think of it, every martyrdom is more or less matched by a demand for that martyrdom by somebody who would give you a solid disagreement about the necessity of that request.  Wouldn't they?  Am I to get a bad rap from you simply because I point that out?  I would suggest that your quarrel isn't with me, but with reality, which seems to work this way, at least sometimes.  Your philosophical explanations are good ones, and I often find myself in agreement with them, but they do have to deal not only with the reasoning for things, but with the actual reality of things itself.  Ding an sich, suchness or whatever you'd like to call it.

quote:


It is at least worthy of consideration to ask whether one who doesn't live for his or her faith, would be ever be able to die for it ... and whether one who admits no virtue in ever dying for it, could ever really live for it.  




     I think what you have here is a marvelous piece of rhetoric, with wonderful balance and reversal.  In fact, it seems somewhat simpler to die for one's faith than to live for it.  First, you often aren't given a choice; it is made for you.  Second, it is often a yes or no decision, and often needs only be made once.  If you decide to live for your faith, then the decisions are often not yes or no decisions, but more complex decisions about how to put principle that is imperfectly understood into action that can only be imperfectly expressed.  Third, if you decide to live for your faith, you must commit yourself to a constant process of coming to grips with your relationship with your faith and with the people in it and the people outside of it in a way that must incorporate yours evolving (there's that word again) understanding of yourself, your religion, other people and your God.  Dying for your faith is a decision to end that struggle without having traveled as far along that path as otherwise you might have found some way to do.

     As for somebody who can admit no virtue in dying for a faith for a faith could ever really live for it, I would suggest to you that this is probably not a condition that Jesus would impose.  Certainly it's not one he imposed on Saint Peter, who chose to deny that he knew Jesus three times in the course of that one special Passover.  Having accepted such a situation from a Saint and an apostle, and having granted forgiveness to those who believe, I doubt that Jesus would be as judgmental as rhetoric appears to push you into being in this case.

     Above all, Jesus seems to have been a mensch.  No pushover, mind you, but a mensch anyway.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven  

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60 posted 10-29-2009 11:42 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
I would suggest that your quarrel isn't with me, but with reality, which seems to work this way, at least sometimes.  Your philosophical explanations are good ones, and I often find myself in agreement with them, but they do have to deal not only with the reasoning for things, but with the actual reality of things itself.


Suchness?  I like that word.  You've given me a new one to toss around.  Essorant would be proud.     

To answer you ... I don't deny for a moment the reality of things, ie that people use religion as a justification of killing.  But those who are killed in the process of waging war, aren't martyrs of a Christian kind.  And for me, that's what martyrdom is, a passive dying which was not sought or glorified for its own sake, for an active faith.

quote:
I think what you have here is a marvelous piece of rhetoric, with wonderful balance and reversal.  In fact, it seems somewhat simpler to die for one's faith than to live for it.  First, you often aren't given a choice; it is made for you.  Second, it is often a yes or no decision, and often needs only be made once.  If you decide to live for your faith, then the decisions are often not yes or no decisions, but more complex decisions about how to put principle that is imperfectly understood into action that can only be imperfectly expressed.


You're right that it is simpler by virtue of being a mere moment relative to a life-time of decisions and struggles.  But that doesn't make it easier, judging from the number of people who, truth be told, would fold and say or do most anything to save their life.  What would I do?  I don't know.  I know what I would hope to do, or not to do under such unusual circumstances.  In the meanwhile, I'll be busy trying the other impossible task of living my faith, that you rightly draw attention to.  I still think these two things relate to each other in significant and suggestive ways.

quote:
Third, if you decide to live for your faith, you must commit yourself to a constant process of coming to grips with your relationship with your faith and with the people in it and the people outside of it in a way that must incorporate yours evolving (there's that word again) understanding of yourself, your religion, other people and your God.  Dying for your faith is a decision to end that struggle without having traveled as far along that path as otherwise you might have found some way to do.


You make it sound as if martyrs wanted to die.  While I'm not denying there have been such examples of morbid fanaticism, the most common example of faithful dying is the man who feels he has no live option saving disgrace apostasy and treachery.  Remember I have never put martyrdom over and against living one's faith day to day.  Faith in God presents a great challenge in both living and dying, whatever the circumstances.  

quote:
As for somebody who can admit no virtue in dying for a faith for a faith could ever really live for it, I would suggest to you that this is probably not a condition that Jesus would impose.  Certainly it's not one he imposed on Saint Peter, who chose to deny that he knew Jesus three times in the course of that one special Passover.  Having accepted such a situation from a Saint and an apostle, and having granted forgiveness to those who believe, I doubt that Jesus would be as judgmental as rhetoric appears to push you into being in this case.


Jesus merciful?  Yes.  But mercy without real failure is not mercy, but sanction or indifference.  Using Jesus' example of forgiveness to suggest that the standard was unrealistic, too high, and probably not even desired of Jesus for his followers, is to miss some pretty significant narrative moments.  Should we overlook the sad but loving reproof involved with Jesus' fortelling Peter's denial at the Passover meal, the wistful catching of Peter's eye in the courtyard of his arrest?  Or what of Peter's own disgrace at being overcome by the interrogation of a young girl by the fire, and his solitary bitter weeping?  There are also references to a great transformative work being done in the hearts of all the disciple's whose faiths were small, not least of which is a reference by Jesus to the manner in which Peter would someday die in Martyrdom himself.  The pathos of all of this, taken together with the mercy and forbearance of Jesus, only augments his compassion.  It certainly doesn't diminish the standard, or "condition" of being faithful even unto death.  

And don't worry Bob, I haven't proven such an ability myself, so I'm certainly not ready to say "anathema" to anyone.      

Stephen
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61 posted 10-29-2009 08:06 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Stephen,

          My-athema hath alwayth been a big problem for me, too...

     Putting people in harm's way for the sake of converting the pagan, as in the crusades, has produced bumper crops of martyrs on both sides, each side feeling full of righteous anger toward the other.  Martyrs almost by definition feel justified.  Almost by definition, a martyr believes the responsibility lies elsewhere.  Almost by definition this supposition is true within the reference frame of the martyr, and within the reference frame of those who venerate the martyr.

     It is only when one steps outside that frame that the situation begins to look odd.  That the Muslim martyr begins to look like a murderer or the Christian martyr begins to look like a masochist, or when the Jewish Martyr begins to look like somebody embracing victimhood.

     Turn the whole idea yet again, and you may need to come to grips with the notion of martyrdom as a transactional agreement between two groups from which each gains some sort of advantage, what might be called "secondary gain" in psychological terms.  Martyrs in some ways — in religious terms, perhaps — may be good for business, a form of advertising.

     There are all sorts of ways of looking at the phenomenon.  Running it down or deprecating it is one of them, but not to my mind a very useful one, since it doesn't account for the long term popularity of the thing.  People have not chosen to be martyrs only for religion, if you think on it.  Many military rewards are given people who have martyred themselves in some fashion for their friends, throwing themselves on a grenade, doing things of suicidal courage for the sake of their comrades and their countries.

     We have been looking at this thing for a while now as though it were strictly a religious thing, but in some ways John has a point when he talks about it in a military sense as well, and we do ourselves no favors if we try to confine the discussion to religion.  Confined to religion, the question too easily becomes a question of, which religion? and, alas!, that question is frequently turned to the question of Christianity versus other religious preferences.  That is not a bad topic for discussion, but here it may be something of a tangential topic for discussion.  Jannissaries had honor, as did Samurai, as do goat-herders and slaves, though their concepts of honor may vary greatly.

     I trust that I have confused things sufficiently?

Yours, Bob Kaven
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62 posted 02-19-2010 06:02 PM       View Profile for OwlSA   Email OwlSA   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for OwlSA

Whilst this discussion has changed from its original path, I would like to revert to it to give my ha’penny’s worth as regards the initial issue, and thus, here follow a few random thoughts on “honour”:

If honour is based on what others think of one, does it really remain honour?  Does it not then become an ego trip?
What is more important, what honour IS?  - or what honour SHOULD BE?
And then, SHOULD there be honour?  Doesn’t it’s existence – as opposed to what is right or wrong – defy what the reason for its existence is?

In my humble opinion, “honourable” as a word and/or concept, is far easier to define, far less controversial and far more pure  than the word and/or concept, “honour”.  Then, of course, “honour” as a verb, in my humble opinion, falls into the same category as “honourable” with regard to this aspect – honour thy father and mother, along with the past participle “honoured” – e.g. I am honoured by what you said about me.
When honour requires stupidity, honour becomes just that.

With regard to the Lépine issue, despite apparent proof of the “suffer froms” I personally don’t believe in them and believe that everyone is responsible for his/her actions.  One can rise above one’s circumstances, no matter what.  One can, but doesn’t always.  I see circumstances as possible reasons, not as excuses.  

I think most of the world’s woes are the result of parents not bringing up their children properly – being too lenient for them to learn responsibility – and/or being too strict for them to learn the value of the good, the right, love (all 4 types, but especially agapé), compassion, consideration for others and the South African “ubuntu” (pronounced “oo BOON too”) meaning “for the good of the community” or in the three musqueteer tradition – one for all and all for one (but not AGAINST anyone), and not teaching them, possibly above all else, wisdom.  However, that doesn’t stop children from teaching themselves these things.  As vain as this may sound and be, my favourite teacher and the one who has taught me the most, and the most successfully, is myself.  
Risking one’s life to save another is not always (is it ever?) a conscious decision to throw away one’s own life.  It is an altruistic act of giving, goodness, agape love, kindness, rightness, compassion, sincerity which can result in one’s own harm or even death.  It is not wanting the other person to die, and doing something about it.  A risk is exactly that – a risk – not a certainty.  Life is full of risks.  The wisdom lies in the choice of risks we take.

I say the following with respect.  I think that Essorant has missed the entire point about Christianity and is confusing “religionism” with what Christianity is all about – just as he/she is confusing Christians with Christ.  I don’t think I found anything that Stephen said, that I don’t agree with, or at least respect with vigour.  

I must say that I enjoyed reading through every word of this immensely.

Owl
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63 posted 02-20-2010 02:07 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Interesting, owl.  

      I have a certain curiousity about how a person with a sense of egolessness might become thorny about honor.  A humble person may indeed have honor, I suppose, but the notion of fighting a war or a duel to defend it is something I have not yet succeeded in visualizing.  Perhaps you might help me?
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64 posted 02-20-2010 01:39 PM       View Profile for OwlSA   Email OwlSA   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for OwlSA

Bob,the first book I read about philosophy took a whole chapter to say that what philosophy is, is impossible to define.  That fascinated me for many reasons.  

I have also noticed that people discussing philosophy (and I include myself at the top of the list) often go off on an unrelated tangent.  That interests me a lot too, again for many reasons.  

Another thing I have noticed is that probably the greatest common denominator in all conversations about anything anywhere is people misunderstanding each other.  For that reason, I am going to elucidate what I am confused about and attempt to interpret your question.  Then I will try to answer it.  If I am wrong in my interpretation, please let me know.  

Firstly I am not sure whether your question is about your first or second sentence or both.  For the purpose of simplicity, I am going to assume it is both.  

First sentence: what I think you are saying is that surely a person with a sense of egolessness would have honour.  That, in my opinion, is a reasonable assumption.  However, it depends on what honour is.  Personally, I would feel far more honoured to be described as honourable than having honour.  As such I would feel that I do the right thing, as opposed to the accepted/expected thing.  On the basis of that understanding, I can see how a person with a sense of egolessness would be honourable, without necessarily “having honour.”

Second sentence: I am not sure whether you mean that you haven’t succeeded in visualising a humble person fighting a battle or duel to defend that person’s honour (or honour itself?) – or whether you mean that you haven’t succeeded in visualising yourself fighting a battle or duel to defend your honour/honour itself – or whether you mean that you are a humble person and therefore both of the above are the same.  If what you mean includes yourself (whether exclusively or along with the humble person), then perhaps you have the same understanding of honour as I do.  If you mean the humble person only, I see now, that my answer is exactly the same.  Thus, my answer is a humble person can be honourable without necessarily “having honour.”

Somebody that has no interest in philosophy, would have summarized the above paragraph to “It seems you have the same understanding of honour as I do if you have a problem visualising anyone fighting a duel or battle to defend his/her honour/honour itself.”  Or, having taken the route I did, he/she would subsequently have edited the long version to the short one.  However, I took great pleasure in the path, and wish to leave it as it is.

Owl
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65 posted 02-21-2010 07:56 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     The dalai Lama  would be a guy who strives to be a selfless guy in the actual literal sense of the term, owl.  He literally enbodies the notion of a person without self in terms of a language that was doing pushups before English was bouncing backetballs, to use a poor metaphor.  He maintains a certain heading or set of headings around spiritual values and politival values, behaves ethically pretty much by most standards, exerts, effect, intention and direction, deals with conflict by pretty much leaving it in the heands of those who provoke it and goes on.

     I would say that he is honorable, but I believe that it is a sort of honor that seems somehow to be other than what we have been talking about.  The honor involved here seems every bit as real, but seems organized outside the notion of self or pride.

     It is the element of self or pride that makes the current western nature of honor, for me, so difficult.  Hence my difficulty here.  Honor is a useful notion, possibly even a vital notion.  Something happens to it when it becomes attacked to the notion of ego or self that both the notion of  that compound ego/self and of honor that seems to do damage and seems to confuse converrsation beyond my own ability to clarify at this time.

     When you talk about my honor, however, I believe you are on shaky grounds indeed.  This may be why so many Samurai — other than economic — had to become monks.
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66 posted 07-02-2010 08:22 PM       View Profile for latearrival   Email latearrival   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for latearrival

There is a new reality show about saving whales.These men are suposedly putting their own lives at risk to follow their deep  feelings about savinig these whales from  whalers. Would you say this is just egoism or false heroics? latearrival  
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67 posted 07-03-2010 09:24 PM       View Profile for latearrival   Email latearrival   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for latearrival

I guess what I am tryig to ask is: if they feel they are honoring their true feelings about doing something positive to those feelings are they to be judged as honorable people? latearrival
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68 posted 07-04-2010 05:54 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I don't know of anyone who wouldn't respect someone for taking a risk for a cause they consider worthy.  I don't see how this would be different.
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69 posted 07-04-2010 07:32 PM       View Profile for latearrival   Email latearrival   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for latearrival

Thank you for answering me.I wondered what others thought of this  show.latearrival
 
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