frenchie

Sullivan & Klein on religion and politics

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Anyone else following this conversation?

 

Happened across Andrew Sullivan's piece last night:

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/andrew-sullivan-americas-new-religions.html

But the banality of the god of progress, the idea that the best life is writing explainers for Vox in order to make the world a better place, never quite slakes the thirst for something deeper. Liberalism is a set of procedures, with an empty center, not a manifestation of truth, let alone a reconciliation to mortality. But, critically, it has long been complemented and supported in America by a religion distinctly separate from politics, a tamed Christianity that rests, in Jesus’ formulation, on a distinction between God and Caesar. And this separation is vital for liberalism, because if your ultimate meaning is derived from religion, you have less need of deriving it from politics or ideology or trusting entirely in a single, secular leader. It’s only when your meaning has been secured that you can allow politics to be merely procedural.

So what happens when this religious rampart of the entire system is removed? I think what happens is illiberal politics. The need for meaning hasn’t gone away, but without Christianity, this yearning looks to politics for satisfaction. And religious impulses, once anchored in and tamed by Christianity, find expression in various political cults. These political manifestations of religion are new and crude, as all new cults have to be. They haven’t been experienced and refined and modeled by millennia of practice and thought. They are evolving in real time. And like almost all new cultish impulses, they demand a total and immediate commitment to save the world.

Now look at our politics. We have the cult of Trump on the right, a demigod who, among his worshippers, can do no wrong. And we have the cult of social justice on the left, a religion whose followers show the same zeal as any born-again Evangelical. They are filling the void that Christianity once owned, without any of the wisdom and culture and restraint that Christianity once provided.

 

and Klein's response just now:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/12/11/18131370/andrew-sullivan-religion-tribalism-christianity-trump

This is not an analysis of the thinking deepening our political divides, but a demonstration of it.

...

To be clear, I have no interest in litigating anyone’s faith. What I am interested in is American politics, and in this essay, Sullivan offers a nostalgic analysis of our current problems that has become popular among a certain class of pundits — David Brooks calls Sullivan’s essay a shoe-in for his annual Sidney Awards — but that doesn’t hold up to the slightest scrutiny, and in fact displays the very biases it laments.

 

 

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Fluff, more of the same shit.

As soon as you hear the claim that someones views are a 'religion' you know that it is an ignorant rhetoric.

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There's things human's need beyond food, water, and air.  We are social creatures and need a sense of community.  We're wired to propagate and we need a sense of continuity and purpose.  At the most primal levels, we're also wired to see patterns and fill in voids with past experience.

How we fill those needs is uniquely personal but all those needs do get filled, somehow.  Religions - all of them - fill those needs by providing community, continuity, and context.  As we reject religion, we back fill with other ideas that fill the same needs - community, continuity, and context.  We have too.  Given that, it's inevitable that as religion wains, some sort of secular equivalence backfills the empty space, of which there's really only three options.

The liberal/conservative secular parties are practical manifestations of Utilitarianism where we argue about the weighting factors.  It's the trolley problem in real time with millions of voices arguing about the position of the switch.  Long live the duopoly.

The libertarian / anarchist argument is to reject the construct and focus on the categorical imperative instead - you can only control what YOU do so you deny the switch, focus on non-aggression, and try to make the world a better place through personal agency.

The third is cultural norms.  Basically, you don't think about any of this too hard and just do what your parents did, focus on food, reproduction, and not falling in too many potholes.  That's essentially what we now call tribalism.  Find people like yourself - regardless of how they got there - and stick with em.  The tribe will outlive the individual proving continuity and purpose.

 

 

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Good articles, frenchie. Interesting topic.

 

@cmilliken Your post is thoughtful and informative,,, with an empty "leave". Most men search for meaning beyond their tribe and tribal identity.  For example, the Libertarian cause goes beyond tribalism, to idealistic areas, policy areas, constitutional areas, and to cultural thrust. Each of these has a significant, and higher, meaning.

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There's an old cartoon showing various stages of evolving life from the ocean with the "search for meaning" as: 'Eat, survive, reproduce.'

Then, the sapien steps on the beach and the "meaning" has developed into 'What's it all about?'

The reality is the human search for meaning has developed a bunch but the meaning itself hasn't changed. It's still eat, survive, reproduce. The rest is mumbo jumbo, juju, mojo, and other forms of make believe.

 

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20 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

juju

LeCarre would pin you as a juju man. 

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53 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

There's an old cartoon showing various stages of evolving life from the ocean with the "search for meaning" as: 'Eat, survive, reproduce.'

Then, the sapien steps on the beach and the "meaning" has developed into 'What's it all about?'

The reality is the human search for meaning has developed a bunch but the meaning itself hasn't changed. It's still eat, survive, reproduce. The rest is mumbo jumbo, juju, mojo, and other forms of make believe.

 

I'm not that nihilistic.   I think there are people who do things beyond the basic urge to reproduce.   They are not the majority but they exist.

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1 hour ago, cmilliken said:

I'm not that nihilistic.   I think there are people who do things beyond the basic urge to reproduce.   They are not the majority but they exist.

No doubt but that's just the continuing development searching for a meaning that isn't there. ie, no there there. Imho.

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1 hour ago, jocal505 said:

LeCarre would pin you as a juju man. 

Nah. He's a better reader than that.

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6 hours ago, cmilliken said:

There's things human's need beyond food, water, and air.  We are social creatures and need a sense of community.  We're wired to propagate and we need a sense of continuity and purpose.  At the most primal levels, we're also wired to see patterns and fill in voids with past experience.

How we fill those needs is uniquely personal but all those needs do get filled, somehow.  Religions - all of them - fill those needs by providing community, continuity, and context.  As we reject religion, we back fill with other ideas that fill the same needs - community, continuity, and context.  We have too.  Given that, it's inevitable that as religion wains, some sort of secular equivalence backfills the empty space, of which there's really only three options.

The liberal/conservative secular parties are practical manifestations of Utilitarianism where we argue about the weighting factors.  It's the trolley problem in real time with millions of voices arguing about the position of the switch.  Long live the duopoly.

The libertarian / anarchist argument is to reject the construct and focus on the categorical imperative instead - you can only control what YOU do so you deny the switch, focus on non-aggression, and try to make the world a better place through personal agency.

The third is cultural norms.  Basically, you don't think about any of this too hard and just do what your parents did, focus on food, reproduction, and not falling in too many potholes.  That's essentially what we now call tribalism.  Find people like yourself - regardless of how they got there - and stick with em.  The tribe will outlive the individual proving continuity and purpose.

 

Unless you intend to spend your life paralyzed by the need to always have exactly the right answer you will end up having faith in something.

I think Klein was triggered by the use of the religion label.

What is missing today is tolerance of others beliefs and the absolute belief in ones own.

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13 hours ago, frenchie said:

Anyone else following this conversation?

 

Happened across Andrew Sullivan's piece last night:

 

Now look at our politics. We have the cult of Trump on the right, a demigod who, among his worshippers, can do no wrong. And we have the cult of social justice on the left, a religion whose followers show the same zeal as any born-again Evangelical. They are filling the void that Christianity once owned, without any of the wisdom and culture and restraint that Christianity once provided.

 

and Klein's response just now:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/12/11/18131370/andrew-sullivan-religion-tribalism-christianity-trump

This is not an analysis of the thinking deepening our political divides, but a demonstration of it.

...

To be clear, I have no interest in litigating anyone’s faith. What I am interested in is American politics, and in this essay, Sullivan offers a nostalgic analysis of our current problems that has become popular among a certain class of pundits — David Brooks calls Sullivan’s essay a shoe-in for his annual Sidney Awards — but that doesn’t hold up to the slightest scrutiny, and in fact displays the very biases it laments.

 

 

Can anyone provide me examples of when "Capital-C" Christianity provided "wisdom, culture and restraint" that should be emulated and adopted by a society to it's benefit?   

My dad headed up the US National Council of Churches and then led the UN Office of NGOs, working very hard for the release of Nelson Mandela from Robbin Island and on the ultimately futile concepts of "corporate responsibility".  That was a brief moment in time, between the eras of christian "normalcy" - the dominance of the evangelical belief in religion as a basis for bigotry and repression. 

He ended up a man with a solid moral core and no church.  Which freed up our Sunday mornings to rig our boat and get out to the line early.

 

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1 hour ago, Saorsa said:

Unless you intend to spend your life paralyzed by the need to always have exactly the right answer you will end up having faith in something.

I think Klein was triggered by the use of the religion label.

What is missing today is tolerance of others beliefs and the absolute belief in ones own.

I think you've got that bassackwards. When you grok that none of this means anything beyond biology/chemistry, you are free from all the made up stuff. Here in Merica we say you are woke. Others use more ... ah ... enlightened terms.

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45 minutes ago, Left Shift said:

Can anyone provide me examples of when "Capital-C" Christianity provided "wisdom, culture and restraint" that should be emulated and adopted by a society to it's benefit?   

My dad headed up the US National Council of Churches and then led the UN Office of NGOs, working very hard for the release of Nelson Mandela from Robbin Island and on the ultimately futile concepts of "corporate responsibility".  That was a brief moment in time, between the eras of christian "normalcy" - the dominance of the evangelical belief in religion as a basis for bigotry and repression. 

He ended up a man with a solid moral core and no church.  Which freed up our Sunday mornings to rig our boat and get out to the line early.

 

Religion is more than Christianity with a Capital-C or otherwise.  You are letting the label screw up your thinking just a Klein did.

I like his bottles though.

 

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1 minute ago, Saorsa said:

Religion is more than Christianity with a Capital-C or otherwise.  You are letting the label screw up your thinking just a Klein did.

 

Sullivan was the source of the label not Klein or me.  His default reference to religion was to Christianity.  A huge flaw in his mushy bit of pedagogy.

I agree, religion is much more than Christianity - thank god ;) - but unfortunately, many , including the largest, have the same recourse to evangelicalism and intolerance that "Christianity" suffers from and inflicts on all of us as self-promoted "wisdom, culture and restraint".  

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11 hours ago, jocal505 said:

 

@cmilliken Your post is thoughtful and informative,,, with an empty "leave". Most men search for meaning beyond their tribe and tribal identity.  For example, the Libertarian cause goes beyond tribalism, to idealistic areas, policy areas, constitutional areas, and to cultural thrust. Each of these has a significant, and higher, meaning.

So, where I head with such stuff is my view on how I look at arguments.  Once you understand the foundational approach, it's pretty easy to see what's actually being argued and whether it's worth pursuing any lines of inquiry.  Personally, I want my beliefs challenged.   I want to know other perspectives.  I like the 'huh, I haddn't thought of that.." moment.  From you, I learned about Patrick Charles!

if you're actually engaging in a Utilitarian argument, then you can argue within that framework.  If you're arguing theology, you can argue within that framework.  Arguing with a libertarian within a utilitarian framework is a waste of time.  There's not that much common ground.  If you DO want that argument, you have to go to go up one level and agree on a different framework.  If you're arguing with someone on a purely emotional level, then it's irrelevant to argue facts. Argue emotion.

I do believe that people have replaced the function of religion with the function of other groupings.  It would be nice to believe that all the religious nuts that became atheist are now 'sane' but I haven't found that to be true.  The Atheist pitching 'essential oils' is just the medieval alchemist / faith healer with different marketing.  They've replaced one faith based system with another faith based system.

You and Tom will never agree on guns because you're both arguing different philosophies.  Utilitarians and Kantians (and the variants) don't believe in the same thing at a fundamental level and, in fact,  they reject the other's founding premise.  A Kantian (or equivalent) cannot answer the trolley question - it presupposed the Kobayashi Maru.  They can occasionally agree on a outcome - arrived at by different means - but they'll never agree about the founding principles with a utilitarian.

So what's the 'leave'?   As a good Kantian, It's about self-reflection:

1) Decide within yourself what you believe and why you believe it so you can at least be consistent.

2)  Understand the arguments you're actually having and choose if you want to engage in them.

That's my take away.  But for the non-Kantians, i'll add:

3)  Don't engage in purely emotional arguements for any reason other than entertainment purposes.  

 

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21 hours ago, Blue Crab said:

Nah. He's a better reader than that.

You are not a field guy. You are about theory, desks, and about your position, based on your status. You are a classic juju man flunkie; you could be slipped unwittingly into any LeCarre plot.

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14 hours ago, cmilliken said:

So, where I head with such stuff is my view on how I look at arguments.  Once you understand the foundational approach, it's pretty easy to see what's actually being argued and whether it's worth pursuing any lines of inquiry.  Personally, I want my beliefs challenged.   I want to know other perspectives.  I like the 'huh, I haddn't thought of that.." moment.  From you, I learned about Patrick Charles!

if you're actually engaging in a Utilitarian argument, then you can argue within that framework.  If you're arguing theology, you can argue within that framework.  Arguing with a libertarian within a utilitarian framework is a waste of time.  There's not that much common ground.  If you DO want that argument, you have to go to go up one level and agree on a different framework.  If you're arguing with someone on a purely emotional level, then it's irrelevant to argue facts. Argue emotion.

I do believe that people have replaced the function of religion with the function of other groupings.  It would be nice to believe that all the religious nuts that became atheist are now 'sane' but I haven't found that to be true.  The Atheist pitching 'essential oils' is just the medieval alchemist / faith healer with different marketing.  They've replaced one faith based system with another faith based system.

You and Tom will never agree on guns because you're both arguing different philosophies.  Utilitarians and Kantians (and the variants) don't believe in the same thing at a fundamental level and, in fact,  they reject the other's founding premise.  A Kantian (or equivalent) cannot answer the trolley question - it presupposed the Kobayashi Maru.  They can occasionally agree on a outcome - arrived at by different means - but they'll never agree about the founding principles with a utilitarian.

So what's the 'leave'?   As a good Kantian, It's about self-reflection:

1) Decide within yourself what you believe and why you believe it so you can at least be consistent.

2)  Understand the arguments you're actually having and choose if you want to engage in them.

That's my take away.  But for the non-Kantians, i'll add:

3)  Don't engage in purely emotional arguements for any reason other than entertainment purposes.  

 

Thanks. Maybe I can develop or minimize this Kantian (or other) disconnect properly, in a future chapter.  But human ideals follow facts and science, whether the motivation is spiritual or material.

 

The emerging facts are rich, and TBD. If the matter of the (nasty) libertarian outcome of the gun matter, a person will need to deal with Patrick J Charles, on the level of intelligent scholarship. It seems you have a fundamental (and monumental) problem there. 

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2 hours ago, jocal505 said:

You are not a field guy. You are about theory, desks, and about your position, based on your status. You are a classic juju man flunkie; you could be slipped unwittingly into any LeCarre plot.

Heh. That wasn't even a good try. If I go to the top of the mast I can see yer head exploding in the Cascades.

Seriously, Joe, you sound more like a fruitcake every day. 

 

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17 hours ago, cmilliken said:

So, where I head with such stuff is my view on how I look at arguments.  Once you understand the foundational approach, it's pretty easy to see what's actually being argued and whether it's worth pursuing any lines of inquiry.  Personally, I want my beliefs challenged.   I want to know other perspectives.  I like the 'huh, I haddn't thought of that.." moment.  From you, I learned about Patrick Charles!

if you're actually engaging in a Utilitarian argument, then you can argue within that framework.  If you're arguing theology, you can argue within that framework.  Arguing with a libertarian within a utilitarian framework is a waste of time.  There's not that much common ground.  If you DO want that argument, you have to go to go up one level and agree on a different framework.  If you're arguing with someone on a purely emotional level, then it's irrelevant to argue facts. Argue emotion.

I do believe that people have replaced the function of religion with the function of other groupings.  It would be nice to believe that all the religious nuts that became atheist are now 'sane' but I haven't found that to be true.  The Atheist pitching 'essential oils' is just the medieval alchemist / faith healer with different marketing.  They've replaced one faith based system with another faith based system.

You and Tom will never agree on guns because you're both arguing different philosophies.  Utilitarians and Kantians (and the variants) don't believe in the same thing at a fundamental level and, in fact,  they reject the other's founding premise.  A Kantian (or equivalent) cannot answer the trolley question - it presupposed the Kobayashi Maru.  They can occasionally agree on a outcome - arrived at by different means - but they'll never agree about the founding principles with a utilitarian.

So what's the 'leave'?   As a good Kantian, It's about self-reflection:

1) Decide within yourself what you believe and why you believe it so you can at least be consistent.

2)  Understand the arguments you're actually having and choose if you want to engage in them.

That's my take away.  But for the non-Kantians, i'll add:

3)  Don't engage in purely emotional arguements for any reason other than entertainment purposes.  

 

Disagree. Crop science is a far better method of raising food than praying for rain. Microbiology is a much much better basis for brewing beer than "grandpa did it like this." The huge amount of experience and math and advanced materials going into designing and building sailboats results in far far better boats than spitting on your hands and charging into some trees with an axe.

The "belief" part comes in when you gotta have faith that the other people working in fields based on science actually know their science. The results are kind of a tell-tale though.

I thought the only reason for arguing on any basis was entertainment. If I want to change somebody's mind, or at least make them think, that's "persuasion."

-DSK

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35 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

Heh. That wasn't even a good try. If I go to the top of the mast I can see yer head exploding in the Cascades.

Seriously, Joe, you sound more like a fruitcake every day. 

 

I hope you don't need ad hominems, mate. 

You are the very "juju man" who recently represented the upper crust of PA, suggesting the active gun discussion is for the proles, elsewhere. The passionate ideals and beliefs behind both sides of that discussion are represented in the OP.

We are in a human march of progress, under whatever flag. 

Both sides win, and here's an example.The normalization of homosexual rights came from activists and political correctness, not scripture. 

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