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Friday: Short and Stupid

Short post this am.

Last week, Syria massacred about 100 people in the town of Houla.  32 of the victims were children under the age of 10.  I can’t imagine what Assad thought these little kids were going to do.  Maybe they were a micro cell of Al Qaeda or something.  The massacre was horrible and evil.  Who wouldn’t want the bloodshed to stop, especially when directed at little kids?

Let me introduce you to the Russian Orthodox Church:

Opening an exhibition devoted to Syrian Christianity in a cathedral near the Kremlin, they commiserated with Russian priests and theologians about their shared anxiety: What would happen if Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, was forced from power?

It is clear by now that Russia’s government has dug in against outside intervention in Syria, its longtime partner and last firm foothold in the Middle East. Less well known is the position taken by the Russian Orthodox Church, which fears that Christian minorities, many of them Orthodox, will be swept away by a wave of Islamic fundamentalism unleashed by the Arab Spring.

In his warnings, Patriarch Kirill I invokes Bolshevik persecution still fresh in the Russian imagination, writing of “the carcasses of defiled churches still remaining in our country.”

This argument for supporting sitting leaders has reached a peak around Syria, whose minority population of Christians, about 10 percent, has been reluctant to join the Sunni Muslim opposition against Mr. Assad, fearing persecution at those same hands if he were to fall. If the church’s advocacy cannot be said to guide Russia’s policy, it is one of the factors that make compromise with the West so elusive, especially at a time of domestic political uncertainty for the Kremlin.

Yes, you read that right.  The Russian Orthodox Church doesn’t want to Russia to get involved because they see this as a religious war and if the Christians help the Sunnis, the Sunnis might turn around and persecute the Christians after the war ends.

“What??”, you say, “isn’t Christianity supposed to be into persecution? Turning the other cheek? Loving one’s neighbor?”  Not to the Russian Orthodox patriarchs.

Just one more reason to speed religion on its way to a distant memory.

Here’s another one.  This song’s called Eve, by Shelly Segal.  Pick it up at the 0.42 minute mark.

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8 Responses

  1. How cool to see that Fair Use thing right on the front of the video!

  2. The Russian Orthodox are not eager to see their own people wiped out by ethnic cleansing? How evil can they be?
    Come on RD, they aren’t choosing the right to practice their religion over the lives of little children over their right to say “Merry Christmas”.

    • Pretty evil. It’s not that they don’t want to get involved, they are actively supporting Assad’s regime. That’s the difference. It has been a bloodbath in Syria lately. I believe that in matters like this, it is better to err on the side of compassion for the slaughtered. They assume but do not know for sure what treatment they will get at the hands of the Sunni. But if they do nothing and the Sunni’s manage to win anyway, they’re going to be in deep trouble.
      Assad’s a bad guy. As bad or worse than Saddam Hussein. That doesn’t mean we need to invade their country, of course. It’s just meant to illustrate what we’re dealing with. Those kids were not collateral damage. They were intentionally executed.

  3. “Just one more reason to speed religion on its way to a distant memory.”

    By that “logic”, one could also argue that the crimes of Communist regimes are just one more reason to speed atheism on its way to a distant memory.

    Maybe the problem is neither belief nor unbelief, but the “lizard brain” portion of the human brain, which will find ways to express itself with whatever ideologies, theistic or atheistic, are available?

    • Mebbe.
      But I think you are ignoring the effect that the internet age is having on the ability of people to check their religion, its history and critics.
      It’s not going to happen overnight but I think you are fooling yourself if you think there won’t be a rapid retreat from religion in the near future, especially among younger people. Sometimes these things happen very quickly. It’s like a burst.
      I’ve noticed that you and Theresa seem particularly sensitive to these kinds of posts. No one is going to push you into God 2.0 or atheism. That’s not what this is about. But we are seeing a realization among many. many people in the world that bronze age morality and beliefs are incompatible with the present and future. Once upon a time, humans had totems and anunaki, then they became polytheists, then monotheists. And then, for some bizarre reason, we got stuck even as the world around us was rapidly changing. You might call it lizard brain but I call it stubborn tradition perpetuated by the people who benefit from it the most, primarily men. We have made more real progress in understanding and technology in the past 100 years that in the previous 3000. Something’s got to give and I think it’s going to be our present set of religious traditions. That’s just the way it is. There will be some violent non-acceptance while the number of non-believers increases and then there will be a tipping point when the critical mass of non-believers becomes the norm. It will probably happen in your lifetime. Then there will be a new kind of belief system or some people may choose none at all. And wjhen I say new kind of belief system, I’m not talking about new age crystal aura channeling stuff. I’m talking about a new understanding about the nature of god. Why wouldn’t you welcome that?

      • Actually, I’ve already moved to a rather non-traditional understanding of the Deity. Of course human concepts of the Deity will change; they always have changed. Religion could not have survived all these centuries if it were not clever at adapting to changes in the material and social environments.

        As for “Da Intertoobz will change religion”, I seem to recall hearing that before, about many other aspects of human life, which haven’t changed all that much. Your technophilia is showing. :P

        In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many nonbelievers in the USA predicted the decline of religion in the USA, with similar confidence to yours. It came back. Why should I assume it won’t come back again?

        Perhaps religious belief waxes and wanes, but never disappears altogether. If we are in a waning period now, I would assume it is mostly a backlash against conservative believers, mostly Christian and Muslim, who have been making themselves obnoxious.

        To quote Garry Wills, “The learned have their superstitions, prominent among them a belief that superstition is evaporating.”, the first line of the introduction to his 1990 book, Under God: Religion And American Politics.

        Though of course, 1990 was before Da All-Conquering Magick Intertoobz came along… :lol:

        And now I MUST get ready to go to work. Sayonara.

        • Some people see the Internet as a giant gadget. Some people see it as the revolutionary organism that it is. It is not merely a love affair with technology that makes me so certain. It’s that for once in human history, people with doubts can get the information they need to make a decision.
          I’m not touting the Internet because I’m cool and hip (even if I am). I am looking at the statistics that say the fattest growing denomination is “none” and that people who claim no religion attribute the Internet as part of their decision making process.
          I’m not sure that this is something to be dissed. Pretty soon, they will outnumber the believers. That’s just a fact. Having access to the Internet provides them with information about the archaeology of the bible and a community to discuss it. I have heard from many pastors turned agnostic or atheist that the surest way to set your path on the way to becoming a nonbeliever is to really study the bible. For almost two centuries, biblical scholars have known how the bible was cobb,Ed together and from what sources. But they can’t tell their flocks because that’s not what people want to believe. But when there is so much material online, it is easy to see how the pieces don’t fit together. And that,whether you want To believe it or not, is what leads people away from religion.
          Itout need to come to terms with this. I can’t keep telling you the same thing all the time and have you go all ostrich on me. I believe the Judeo-Christian tradition’s days are numbered. We could go on with this “no it’s not”, “yes, it is”, “no it’s not”, “yes it is” argument forever. But time is on my side in this case. It’s going, going, gone. Watch and see.

          • Which of us sounds like a fervent believer, and which of us sounds like a skeptic? :roll:

            Also, what does the word “Itout” mean? I gather from its position in the sentence that it is a noun, but a Web search only found the name of a Canadian Internet marketing platform, which I doubt you meant. :???:

            “For once in human history, people with doubts can get the information they need to make a decision.”

            There were no books on skepticism written before Da Intertoobz? How, then, did the previous ages of the popularity of unbelief emerge–such as the great age of USAmerican skepticism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries–without Da Intertoobz to spark them?

            “Pretty soon, they will outnumber the believers.”

            Ah, but how many of them will remain nonbelievers for the rest of their days? You seem to be assuming that “once you go lack (of belief), you never go back,” so to speak. ;) I spent roughly 9 years of my life as an agnostic. Had you encountered me when I was 20, you might have assumed that about me. (FYI, I turned 49 a few weeks ago.)

            It might be interesting to know how many of the newly minted skeptics came from the more authoritarian religious traditions. I suspect that archaeological discoveries which show the genuine deficiencies in scriptures and religious doctrines would be more likely to shake the faith of someone who had been taught to think that Scripture and/or church authority figures were infallible, than they would to shake the faith of a less authoritarian believer. This would parallel the phenomenon of the more authoritarian churches rejecting biological evolution, while the less authoritarian churches accept it with a shrug.

            I fall in your category of folks who see Da Intertoobz as a gadget, a very useful and entertaining gadget, but a mere gadget. But OK, if Da Toobz can be called an organism, what of religions? They show a remarkable ability to adapt themselves to changing material and social realities. Some of them do die out–I haven’t met any worshippers of Marduk, for example–but others survive, some by developing symbiotic relationships with hardier faiths. For example, followers of West African folk religion kept their native faiths alive within the Christianized Americas by syncretizing their native gods with the Catholic reverence of the saints. (Vodoun, etc.) As for the major religions, they have survived centuries of wars and persecutions (often by other members of the same faith), plagues and famines, and everything else both humans and Mommie Dearest Nature can throw at them. I rather doubt a network of AIs will destroy them at last.

            But as you noted, we will see.

            However, I think I have the basic psychology of Homo sapiens on my side, while you have–a gadget. :mrgreen:

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