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Ivan
Posted on Monday, May 21, 2007 - 08:26 pm:   

In Confirmation of our Christian Values.

200px-Stgeorge-dragon.jpg350px-Paolo_Uccello_050.jpg180px-George_novgorod.jpg


This discussion to follow, God willing, will be on the principles of Christian values on which our civilization of Freedom rests. It is not on the dogmas or necromancy of the Church, but on the principles on which we had built a civilization going back to its earliest roots, on the right of the individual, of the freedom of thought and belief, and of the equality of all human beings, both men and women, as the foundation of our inalienable freedoms. The Christian values have also the foundation of the later period, in the teachings of Jesus Christ, not as the founder of Christianity, but as the spokesman for values we had come to accept through the ages, that we love one another as free and equally beautiful human beings before God, as our basic truth.

We of the 21st century, two millennia after Christ, have a duty and obligation to preserve those foundational freedoms, not to oppress in the name of religion, nor to promote dogma, but to understand and validate, to confirm, those principles on which our civilization rests. There is no magic formula for this, nor is it a clearly laid out path though some think so; rather it is a continued exploration, an unfolding path of discovery, first laid out by thinkers long predating Jesus, and then again reconfirmed a thousand years after the fall of Rome, into what we today call the Protestant Reformation, to the present of our rights as free human beings. It had been a long journey, and it is far from over. So here, with faltering steps, and necessary battles to come, we hope to once again resume the long march towards raising humanity to its full potentials. To do this, we need to confirm our principles in our Christian values, regardless of church or state, not to convince others to follow, but to reaffirm what we know in our hearts is true.

SVH06_2.jpg Saint George


Ivan
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Ivan
Posted on Monday, May 21, 2007 - 09:30 pm:   

I start here, with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who wrote about the Gulag, one of humanity's greatest crimes of man against man.

200px-Solzhenitsyn.jpg

His release from prison, and later immigration from the Soviet State to the United States, left in him a profound imprint on what is it in humanity that is the most important, to preserve our human freedoms. He says in his Harvard speech, 1978:

quote:

However, in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God's creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice.


Two thousand years of believing in man, and woman, as God's creature, not in boundless freedom, but in responsibility and sacrifice, and mercy for the other, as a heritage of preserving our human rights. Solzhenitsyn turned inward, in a self imposed hermitage on a farm in Vermont, before returning to Russia, 1994, but his clarity of vision remained sharp, as his observation shows:

quote:

Until I came to the West myself and spent two years looking around, I could never have imagined to what an extreme degree the West had actually become a world without a will, a world gradually petrifying in the face of the danger confronting it . . . All of us are standing on the brink of a great historical cataclysm, a flood that swallows up civilisation and changes whole epochs.


We are faced with that flood now, a cataclysm that stands poised to swallow us if we are not well armed in our ideas, and understanding of what our freedoms are all about. We must be firm and understand where we stand in our civilization, because we will be tested here.

Ivan
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Student
Posted on Monday, May 21, 2007 - 09:50 pm:   

I was in a class with Ed

In it the professor stated in a written comment on his work the following:

"Thank you--and thank you for the input that you provided for the class--you expanded their knowledge and understanding of the global and different forms of violence and abuse."

As a man that understands the true nature of freedom and abuse of it, he provided us with insight into not only the psychological dimension of abuse but the spiritual one as well.

In doing so he demonstrated what it means to be a true christian and taught us that many have forgotten what true christian relgious people believe and how different it is from what many have said. In doing so he demonstrated the christian ideal that is embodied by:

Love, forgiveness, understanding. tolerance and belief that there is a purpose to life.

He also tempered that message by holding to the belief that individual accountability is also one of the bedrock concepts embodied the teachings of christianity and that such concepts form the basis of our civilization.

For that I think its appropriate to post this here

A Student
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Naive
Posted on Monday, May 21, 2007 - 09:59 pm:   

Are they really Christian values or human values?

Culture is simply an amalgamation of what the collective will tolerate or prefer. For example, Buddha professed many of the same ideas as Jesus earlier than Jesus. In reality, humanity will always come to ideologies that are reflective of our desire for comfort and order. Our minds seek organization and thus society and culture reflect that organization.

Egocentrism is an inherent weaknesses of Western culture. True, Western culture has the best current framework of freedom, but how was it achieved? Through response to oppression, through imperialism, subjugation, slavery, and discrimination. Was it Christian values that saved civilization? I think not. Rather it was the inherent desire of man to live free and equal, having the same opportunities as his fellow man. Western culture is just the latest vessel that has afforded the chance to build on this ideology. But as Ivan has mentioned, it is easy to become closed-minded and enamored of your own ideology. We need to be careful of self-aggrandizement. I will repeat again . . . much of what is valued in this country as freedom was gained at the expense of those who had the desire for freedom beaten, whip, exploited, branded, stolen, and brainwashed into them. Initially freedom was only good enough for those who could take it, yet chose at the same time to enforce their will upon others. Even today our government fights for American interests not human interests.

The process is still in its infancy . . .


Naive
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Ivan
Posted on Monday, May 21, 2007 - 10:29 pm:   

Christian Roots are Europe's Foundation of Freedom, says Pope
http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=4336


quote:

From "these ancient roots," the Holy Father wrote, "the European peoples have obtained the impulse that drove them to touch the limits of the earth and to reach the depth of man, of his intangible dignity, of the fundamental equality of all, of the universal right to justice and peace."


However, I believe it goes further back, that Christ's teachings that we are not slaves to man but free human beings goes farther back, this but one more stop on our path towards the freedoms we are to enjoy, as our God given right to be Who we are. Also, as Naive points out, this path had not been an easy one, with many wrongs and enslavements committed along the way. Our sense of freedom predates Christianity, was already an issue of debate with ancient Greeks and democracy, as well as in the Celtic world before Christian missions. Those 'ancient roots' may reflect Christian values in retrospect, since the advent of Christianity, but they already predated Christ. And yet, we are 'still in infancy'.

As Student said above: "Love, forgiveness, understanding. tolerance and belief that there is a purpose to life.

He also tempered that message by holding to the belief that individual accountability is also one of the bedrock concepts embodied the teachings of christianity and that such concepts form the basis of our civilization."
Accountability, that is where our Christian values of love and tolerance coexist, one cannot exist without the other.

Ivan
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Ivan
Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2007 - 06:50 pm:   

Accountability implies reciprocity, and equality before the law.

Take the issues of slavery in the American historical experience, where in the early Constitution and the Fifth Amendment the right of property could not be taken away without due process of law. This 'right of property' included ownership of slaves, predominantly African slaves. However, as the Dred Scott case proved, there was an inherent contradiction here, that a human being, who is inherently free by rights is also a property by rights. The two are mutually exclusive, so there was no possible resolution to this obvious wrong, except to dismantle slavery, and ultimately give Americans of African descent the same rights as other human beings, regardless of their race. It took a war to resolve this issue, and it did not stop reverberating in American history until the recent present, after the abolition of segregation in the South. Certain discriminations against others, regardless of race and by whom, nevertheless continue to exist, though no longer legally accepted. In its place is social accountability, where each human being is accountable for his or her actions in a reciprocal way towards others, that they are in turn accountable to them.

Reciprocity and accountability implies equality in both. There is precedence for this, going back to the Gospels, as Jesus was said to have spoken of the good Samaritan. In his second parable, he explained how after the Love of God, the second commandment is to 'love thy neighbor as thyself'. To explain, as the parable explains, this original in the Old Bible was applicable to Jews only, exclusive for each other. But Jesus made it a universal idea, that it applies to all men and women, free or slave. When the good Samaritan helped a fallen Jew, he became accountable to a higher order, a universal order, rather than one exclusive for any one people. To illustrate:

quote:

With that background, it is easy to understand that there was no one the Jewish expert in the law would have considered to be less of a "neighbor" than a Samaritan. If a Samaritan man could be a "neighbor" to the Jewish man who was robbed and beaten, then the definition of "neighbor" would have to include all people, regardless of race, religion, nationality or any other artificial distinction.


The definition of 'neighbor' was thus expanded, to become all inclusive. Further:

quote:

The Samaritan man gave freely of both his time and his money to help a Jewish man who was not only a stranger, but also was of a different religion, a foreigner and an enemy of his people. In His Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus challenges us to "Go and do likewise." We do not have to agree with other people's beliefs and opinions or condone their actions, but Jesus calls us to overcome our prejudices and show our kindness to all people of the world and consider them our "neighbors."


Once this 'all people' is included, something not common in the ancient world before Christian values were introduced, then 'equality' became a social possibility. There was no real distinction in humanity, not freeman or slave, not Jew or other, but all became humanity. Gender equality came later, though it already existed in some form in Spartan society, where women were treated more equal with men. But otherwise to be free of prejudice and treating each other with kindness, equally, was a novel idea, and one which implied equal reciprocity between human beings, as they are accountable to each other as well as to some higher deity. In these values, though they may have already preexisted Christian times, equality and freedom, where each human being was a 'neighbor' of equal worth, became realized into our social consciousness, universally. Not all societies, especially those outside Christian influence, have accepted this, but in our Western world, it had become the norm. As much as possible, with many false fits and starts, freedom became a universal idea. With the abolition of slavery in Europe and the Americas, freedom and equality became truly a universal right.

Even if it is not always understood, nor respected, this freedom of the individual and their right to equally be treated as 'neighbors' all of equal worth before the law; whether or not we recognize its origins, it is nevertheless now part of our social consciousness, worldwide. This is a Christian value, though it now morphed also into a universal humanist value, that we are inherently equal and free as individual human beings. The implied reciprocity here is that we all treat each other with this same equal worth, not necessarily that we must 'love one another' since clearly there are times we do not; but rather, that we respect one another, and are accountable to one another, as free men and women regardless of race or gender, or religious belief. This is something elemental and fundamentally basic to our human freedoms, not as a religious value, but as a Christian value that had changed our society for the better. Today, though it had its ancient roots in Jesus and perhaps earlier, we know this equality and freedom as a 'humanist' value, as it should be. We are all human beings together, equally and universally, in our freedoms. Therefore, today, no human being can ever be treated as 'property' of another, so slavery is abolished, of necessity.


Ivan
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Ivan
Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - 09:52 pm:   

Earliest Christian values.

Here is a list of those values that hark back to the beginnings of Christianity: http://www.bibletexts.com/terms/genuine-christianity.htm Those taught by Jesus are marked with * asterisk.

On the subject of 'equality' it is listed here: http://www.bibletexts.com/terms/genuine-christianity.htm#equality This includes "Equality and Inclusiveness* - regardless of gender, race, nationality, religion, social or economic status". There was no 'supremacist' ideology, but its opposite, to include all universally, and equally.

Note how many of those liberal values we believe in today, including our humanist values of peace and gender equality, were already present in ancient times within the framework of Christian values. The early Christian Church was meant to be inclusive of all individuals, not to war on those who are different, but to open arms of welcome no matter how different. Today's values of 'equality for all' is a modern secular product of such early thinking. Did Jesus originate these ideas, or was he merely one more spokesman for ideas that were already beginning to form within the ancient Greco-Roman world? History is vague here, but I suspect that it is so. Human beings already understood the value of freedom, but it was not well voiced yet. Today, we are still struggling with that voice, where even reason fails us to make it better understood. And, I think, it is because they are not so well understood that we shy away from our Christian values, fearing they will once again dominate us with the Church dogmas. But this is a false fear, because the dogmas can never win against reason. Why? Because our Christian values stand guard against dogma.

Is this not a paradox? Yet, the Church wanted to dominate with dogma, where instead it should have opened its arms to reason. I do not fault the Church, but the men who ran it from power and arrogance, against reason. We who inherit the mantle of those early Christian values today must be clear and guard against dogma. Our power comes from reason, and freedom.

Here are some writings on Classical Values, which also supports the idea that our old Greco-Roman values were being incorporated into the later Christian values: http://www.classicalvalues.com/archives/003606.html We of the modern world inherited all of these in our humanist values today. For example, the 'innocent until proven guilty' was a Roman law:

quote:

Romans identified the Law of Nations with natural, or universal, law. Its standards of justice applied to all people equally and used principles recognized today: a person is innocent until proven otherwise, the accused has a right to a defense before a judge, and judges should decide cases based on evidence.


So was the idea of 'rule of law', though some would argue that it predates Greco-Roman civilization back to early Judaism, all of which later influenced our modern ideals of rule of law and equality of justice for all. Early Christianity was already surrounded by this, which reflected on their values.


Ivan
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naive
Posted on Thursday, May 24, 2007 - 02:28 am:   

Well said Ivan!

The church and the faith are not at fault. Rather the men who used them for selfish gain were to blame. I think the real issue here is, why are we no longer susceptible to dogma, when others are? Whether or not Jesus was the originator of these values is not important, but rather the desire for freedom and equality is always a universal when the mind and society are primed. We can certainly appreciate Jesus and others who contributed to the framework of freedom and equality. But how do we get others to not "shy away" as Ivan points out? Christians certainly need to return their values. Lets hope they do.


Naive
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Ivan
Posted on Friday, May 25, 2007 - 08:51 pm:   

On Humility, not only a Christian value.


In his article Dr. Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D, C. Psych, writes: "Everybody aspires to be somebody, and no one wants to be a no-body."

The title of his article is at first disarming: I'm glad that I'm a nobody: A positive psychology of humility; but in fact this is far from naive, but rather forward looking in its understanding of 'humility'. He writes, on knowing and becoming who we are:

quote:

The search for meaning and significance should not be confused with personal ambitions for worldly success. Meaning fulfillment can be achieved only through knowing who we are and becoming what we are meant to be.


This is a positive statement, that we must know Who we are, and be Who we are, not with arrogance but with humility. However, though this is a Christian value, see Catholic Encyclopedia, Humility, it is not exclusive of universal values shared by many cultures, if not all.

If 'humility' is taken in the negative, that it is described as an absence of arrogance, or pride, that is one way to see it. Dr. Wong refers to Christian humility:

quote:

Traditionally, Christians have considered pride as the root of human sins. For example, John Calvin considers pride the very essence of human depravity and rebellion against God. Pride feeds on elevating oneself over all others, including God. Eventually, pride leads to isolation and self-destruction, the natural consequence of having overstepped boundaries and stepped on others in order to get ahead.
...
From a Christian perspective, self-abasement is a natural response, and the only appropriate response, when we recognize our own poor and corrupt state in the presence of a holy God. Such humility serves an important function in connecting us with faith in God and trust in His saving grace.


He then shows that in fact, a realistic assessment of one's self is not abasement to become subservient to another, but to rise in self worth, self esteem, above the failings of another. This is in the best tradition of Christian humility, not be abased by another's base nature, but to rise above it, because of one's self worth. We are somebody, of value, God given, and none may take away from us Who we are. It was Paul, as founder of the Christian Church, who had said: " "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." (Romans 12:3) Remember, "think of yourself in sober judgment", is not to be subservient, but to have the right to be aware, and protect that awareness, to be conscious of Who it is who is the self. Christ's ultimate humility was not to submit to man, but to the highest order of existence possible for man, to submit to God. Yes, he was crucified by men, but his soul never surrendered to them, only to God, in all humility.

There are other traditions of humility, such as found in Asian cultures, quoting Dr. Wong:

quote:

The Buddhist approach to humility has a very different starting point. It begins with the concern of how to be liberated from the sufferings of life and the vexations of the human mind. The ultimate aim is to achieve a state of enlightenment through meditation and other spiritual practices.

Chan (Zen) Master Li Yuansong states that enlightenment can come only after humility - the wisdom of realizing one's own ignorance, insignificance and lowliness, without which one cannot see the truth.


Be open to the truth, be humble before it. And also on Taoism:

quote:

The central tenet of Taoism is that the purpose of life is to follow the Way or Tao. To live life according to Tao, the universal principle, one needs to embrace the principle of humility and non-striving (wu wei). This philosophy is actually quite practical, because it enables people to live in tranquility and contentment even in the midst of poverty, wars and natural disasters.

This philosophy of life also discourages people from competing for material gains and personal power. As a political philosophy, it teaches leaders to lead by following the Way rather than through coercive power or military might.


We do not submit to coercions, not to men's coercions, but to a higher path, a higher way. This is the truth of humility. Lao Tzu had said:
"If the sage would guide the people, he must serve with humility.
If he would lead them, he must follow behind.
In this way when the sage rules, the people will not feel oppressed..."

This too shows the power of humility, not that it is weak and meek, but that in it resides a far greater power perhaps than we know. When we are open to the universe, to Truth, we enter a realm that is far more powerful than any man made power, not to coerce, nor to be coerced, but to enter the realm of the power of Truth. When we are humble, we have that power.

Dr. Wong adds this practical application:

quote:

The merit of humble theology extends well beyond the integration between science and religion. Just imagine how much progress can be made in all human domains, including world affairs, if we resort to humility and dialogue as a way to resolve conflicts rather than depending on intimation and force.


Therein lies the answer, to our being powerful and free in our humility. We do not shy away from force, even welcome it, but we not to coerce another. The primary directive is that we are humble before the greatest force of the universe, respect for each other, each human being, and then we proceed to insure that each of us is worthy of that respect as a free human being. This is not from arrogance, for it can only come from humility before the All. If we agree on this, with reason rather than coercion, then we are that respected being. And then dialogue follows of necessity.

The virtues of humility had found many authors, some Christian others not, but the universality of these truths ring out through the ages. In the year 313 AD, these truths were already known. However, there was such insecurity about these truths that Emperor Constantine felt he needed to crystalize them into dogma. That was an error. And it had been this error, to make truth into dogma, that had haunted our pursuit of humility and truth all these centuries. When I said in the 'humility post' earlier:
"Freedom is our right to exist. Freedom of thought is our right to reason, to think. Humility is to be humble before the immense reality of our existence, and all the wonders of the universe.
Dogma is arrogant, it will not grant us those freedoms. When I said above 'So in the end, it is up to us reasoning minds to subdue dogma. Can we do this without becoming dogmatic ourselves? Is our demand for intellectual freedom and honesty dogma?' I was referring to our right to be free from the rigid coercions of dogma."
This is our directive in all humility, that we use reason, not to subdue each other, but to subdue dogma. The law of contradiction insures that we do not submit to dogma, because once dogma takes hold and reason is disqualified, we lose our freedoms. Humility is not to lose our freedoms; rather, our humility is to insure that we remain free from the errors of dogma, and thus remain free men and women in both body and mind.

These traditions of humility are universal traditions, which even predate our Christian values. Buddha and Lao Tzu already knew of them. The spirit of freedom existed in ancient times, though it had little recognition in a world of masters and slaves. We abolished slavery, so today there is no reason to ever return to those times where humility was to force a human being into submission. No. Humility is to raise up a human being to the highest order of the universe, into the Truth. We are powerful as free human beings, there, in all humility, not as subjects subservient, not as 'nobodies' but as 'somebodies' of worth, as free men and women. This is Who we are.

And once we have that power of Who we are, then we can turn to that other great Christian value: to Forgive.


Ivan
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Naive
Posted on Saturday, May 26, 2007 - 11:55 am:   

But how do we address cultures that feel unquestioning submission to dogma is humility? How do we overcome the attitude that the "holy words" of the past outweigh any new social concept or attempt to improve the human condition?


Naive
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Ivan
Posted on Saturday, May 26, 2007 - 01:59 pm:   

Opus Rex - the Love of God, and Humanity - a secularist belief.

On the First Principles of our Christian Values.

A definition for 'first principles' is:
"In philosophy, first principles are a set of basic, foundational propositions or assumptions that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption."
We start here, with basic propositions or assumptions that cannot be deduced from any other, whether moral values or secularist humanist values; we must start here, on the first principles of our Christian values. Let us list some First Principles common to our understanding, as true a priori:

First Principles: Existence.
  • Each one of us is alive in a body with a mind.
  • The universe exists in its own right, we have the mental ability to experience it in body and mind.
  • We, each one of us, is endowed with reason and sensibility to this existence, in every moment of our experience.
  • The world, our existence in it, is final arbiter of either truth or error, in our experience of what is truth.
  • Each human being has a right to exist in this world.

Now, let us refer to what we had come to understand from our common experience in existence. It is to treat commonly accepted abstractions as real and true, in effect, ideology. We will call these Second Principles.

Second Principles: Our Beliefs.
  • What we have come to understand as true, we believe as true, accepted individually.
  • Rules of fairness and justice, as accepted by common understanding, are universal for us.
  • Each human being is bound by these rules within common society, equally and justly, and has a right to them.
  • Our beliefs (as per posts above) are accountability and reciprocity, innocent until proven guilty, and equality before the law.
  • Our inalienable right to reason, to understand, equally for all human beings, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic culture (regardless of gender), is free of dogma.
  • Freedom in humility, before all existence, is our right to seek the truth, in ourselves and others (as shown above), and in all things.

From these Second Principles then result their application within human societies, as they apply to each individual. These will be called Third Principles, what we in our common experience had come to expect as truisms for society.

Third Principles: Our Social Reality.
  • No human being may own another, man, woman, or child.
  • Each human being is deserving of equal respect, provided the rule of reciprocity holds each person equally accountable, as our inalienable right to freedom.
  • Agreements between human beings are validated by laws of contract, when acceptable socially, and protected from coercions by law, when legal.
  • Justice is validated by free human beings on other free human beings, through dialogue and understanding, as an agreed upon legal democratic right to choose our government and abide by its laws.
  • We have a right to love one another, or God, and not be violated in this right to love, by neither laws or coercions, nor fears and threats, where every human being is deserving of love, and free to love another (regardless of gender).
  • Freedom of belief, freedom of being, freedom of expression, freedom to love, is what makes our societies successful and prosperous, while coercions of these leaves them base, mean and violent, and impoverished.
  • Freedom to give with love for another is a highest good, for it brings God's love into our lives, and all society rejoices with goodwill, and foregiveness.

These three Principles are recognizable in our Christian Values, but not exclusive to them, for they also exist universally for all humanity equally. The proof of these principles is in the joy and happiness of the people, where their inner sense of worth is raised up. Each human being, the Who we are, is then treated with respect, and kindness, and with truthfulness towards one another. There is no greater good, than to spread goodwill and joy to others, as well as for ourselves. This is what life is all about. When we spread our love, as free and loving human beings, we raise up the other, not to be abased by their faults, but to lead them into a higher path of discovery, of Who it is they are. That is love from a higher source, which when it enters into the social and personal reality of our world, brings into it something of a higher value, a higher universal value, where each person touched by it is enhanced as a human being. When this happens, society as a whole shows the benefits, for a more beautiful world results. These are our modern secularist-humanist values.

These principles in their order become what it is we believe and do. How we then structure our world, based upon our beliefs, is what results in our reality. It shows up in our arts and literature, whether they enlighten and uplift, or demean and confuse. The proofs of our success, besides a harmonious social existence, is mostly evident in how we create our arts. What does our music sound like, our buildings and monuments, our painting and sculptures, our dance? What are they telling us about ourselves? Look around and what do you see? Is our world clean and beautiful, or is it mean and shabby? Cruelties towards one another have no place in the Love of God towards one another. We must believe this. No matter where, or our skin color, or gender, we are all beautiful. This is how we project into our reality Who we are.

The Opus Rex is our struggle, our song to God, how we project our being in relation to the being of all existence. We are alive, each and every one of us, enabled with a mind and soul to reach out towards that which has given us life. How is that difficult? It is not difficult at all, but totally natural for us. To love another human being, with freedom and respect for them, and without fear, is the highest expression we can offer to our lives on Earth. If we do that, in our beliefs inwardly and outwardly, in the social laws that respect the right to be Who we are, our inalienable rights to freedom, and done with humility, we cannot help but make the world better. When we love, this is Who we are. There is no more beautiful song to God than that, to love one another. And that is from our Christian Values as offered to us by Jesus Christ. We must not forget, for we are being severely tried once more, because there will always be those who will try to steal this from us. Do not empower them, do not let them. The test will pass, for God, when we show that we can love, without fear, because this is Who we are. And that we love and respect all Life.

These three basic principles mentioned here are already embodied, though unconsciously so, in the work titled "Habeas Mentem", which I wrote more than two decades ago. At the time, I merely wrote down what I felt levered into my mind, almost involuntarily, or I would not rest. I must admit I did not really understand it, then, though it is making more sense now.

Is there a Devil? No! There is only God's Love and nothing else. What we do to ourselves and each other is either with that love, or without it. Only in our actions towards others can we do ill to them. So stop doing it! Be humble before that great Love of all Existence, and be true to it. That is all what this is all about! When we love one another, when we do so with mutual agreements rather than through coercions, we are of necessity doing God's Will. So make it so!


God Bless.

Ivan Alexander

[Copyright is granted to all who wish to use part or all of Opus Rex, provided the source is mentioned and given with this link, to the Humancafe.com reference: http://www.humancafe.com/discus/messages/88/274.html?1180202366#POST3909 ]

* * *
Ps: I hope I answered your question, Naive:

quote:

But how do we address cultures that feel unquestioning submission to dogma is humility? How do we overcome the attitude that the "holy words" of the past outweigh any new social concept or attempt to improve the human condition?


...though I was writing mine when you were writing yours. :-)

To answer further, look at the above Principles, and all that separates us in our freedoms from the belief that 'submission to dogma is humility' is a separation of church and state. But we already know this as a prime directive, that reason may not be subservient to religious dogma, without failing the law of contradiction. Our modern age of scientifism made that clear. Our only submission is to the truth. That is our humility, that we submit to questioning reason with respect for the truth.

Also see: Morality: 'We can send religion to the scrap heap' (2010)

quote:

I happen to think that the scientific study of morality is the lever that, if pulled hard enough, will completely dislodge religion from the firmament of our concerns. The world religions will land somewhere near astrology, witchcraft and Greek mythology on the scrapheap. In their place we will have a thoroughgoing understanding of human flourishing, which will include even the most rarified and traditionally "spiritual" states of human consciousness.


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Ivan
Posted on Sunday, May 27, 2007 - 10:20 pm:   

Saint George in Muslim world is known as Al-Khidr, in Arabic 'the green one'. He is associated with the Water of Life, as here shown with Alexander the Great (also called Dhul-Qarnayn in Arabic, 'of two horns'), both who cross the Land of Darkness.

180px-Al-khidr.jpg
Al-Khidr with Dhul-Qarnayn (as Alexander the Great)
with salted fish come back to life when touched by Water of Life.


The image chosen for this discussion, Saint George, is ecumenical, as are all our Christian-Humanist Values, open to everyone. But St. George does kill the dragon to liberate the waters for the people at the spring... May 6th is his common holiday.

Ivan
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Ivan
Posted on Monday, May 28, 2007 - 12:18 pm:   

Celtic Christianity is more ecumenical, as described in this post in an earlier discussion.

175px-Fra_Angelico_052.jpg
The 'Roman' tonsure

When Christianity was 'legalized' in early 4th century by Emperor Constantine, religious dogma 'orthodoxy' was introduced, something which was not evident in earlier or Celtic Christianity. Our Principles of Christian Values are more in line with that earlier time free of dogmas, but based on reasoned principles, in the footsteps of Jesus's teachings. Today's Iona Community is one such modern manifestation of that ecumenical Christianity.

St-martins-cross.jpg
Celtic cross. 9th century, at Iona Abbey

Iona Community's areas of concern are:
  • Justice, peace and the integrity of creation (opposing nuclear weapons, campaigning against the arms trade and for ecological justice)
  • Political and cultural action to combat racism
  • Action for economic justice, locally, nationally and globally
  • Issues in human sexuality
  • discovering new and relevant approaches to worship
  • Work with young people
  • The deepening of ecumenical dialogue and communion
  • Inter-religious relations.
These Christian values are also recognizable as humanist, as universal for everyone. No doubt there are others like it, ecumenical and apolitical in nature, who should seek each other out in a common community of world humanity.


Ivan
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Naive
Posted on Monday, May 28, 2007 - 02:35 pm:   

Yep! Roman dogma.

Interesting. Historical FACTS that the Romans franchised Jesus for their own purposes (thus altering ritual, thus human psychology), is well known. Yet people continue to practice the version of Christianity set in the Roman pattern, and they continue to act and believe as the Romans wanted. Someone needs to come along and point out the mindlessness of following ritual and dogma in a world almost devoid of spirituality (which is exactly what we need to balance our unchecked use of Technology). People hold onto the divinity of prophets and Messiahs because it gives a false sense of hope or worse a false sense of salvation. The problem is, missionary zeal has taught humanity that the salvation of the "individual soul" is more important than the salvation of humanity! Indeed, this message has been transmitted like a virus from generation to generation:

The salvation of humanity lies in the conversion of as many individuals as possible to the desired faith.

Pure rubbish! It has been the bane of human progress. Religion appeals to something selfish in us: "Save your soul and by doing so you are morally superior. Then, try to save someone else's soul by introducing him/her to the same philosophy." That's viral!

That is why we have so many problems moving society forward. By its very structure, religion keeps alive the notion that some will be morally superior (to those who are inferior), and that only some deserve salvation. Thus people become lazy and unmindful of their responsibility to uplift humanity's deficiencies! Religion frees the individual of his responsibility toward the group. Historically, dogmatic castes were the first to set class distinction within humanity. And guess what? Thousands of years later this has morphed into the mess we have now. It is ingrained into humans to save one's own soul.

Ironically, the strength of Christianity is also its weakness. Jesus set a perfect example by dying for a cause - in essence sacrificing for humanity (no individual ego). Unfortunately Christian teaching convinces its followers that none of us are ever going to be close to that perfection, thus giving followers excuses to think individually in terms deeds of right action. "Do unto others . . ." is individualistic. If only we can change that golden rule to, "Deeds for the good of all others," then we might have a chance.


Naive
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Ivan
Posted on Monday, May 28, 2007 - 09:46 pm:   

Good point, Naive, the ego is still strong.


quote:

Unfortunately Christian teaching convinces its followers that none of us are ever going to be close to that perfection, thus giving followers excuses to think individually in terms deeds of right action. "Do unto others . . ." is individualistic. If only we can change that golden rule to, "Deeds for the good of all others," then we might have a chance.


To rise above the Golden Rule is still something far off into the future, I fear. Of more immediate concern is to preserve our freedoms, then once that is secured, we can move to higher grounds. That is only my opinion, however, and perhaps others more wise can see a better way.

I think this news bears closer watch: Pope reinstates Islam department. The Romans may not be as clueless as some suspect, and Pope Benedict is an intelligent man. The Roman, Catholic Church, can be preserved into the future, and dialogue within reason and Christian principles can show the way into peace for the world. Remember they have a vast following, not with ill intent, if perhaps at times more guided with afterlife coercions than humility. Still, they pale next to their adversaries, who control with fear and threats, with honor killings, death fatwas, etc. in this world. The middle ground is to take small steps, which may be what the Vatican has in mind. It bears watching, without prejudice and judgment. The spirit of Christ is complex, and not given to immediate rewards, in all humility.

If I may smile, but the humor of the cosmos is at times infinitely subtle. :-) Who will change whom? Is there even a contest here? The power of the ego is whittled in small stages, with the most egotistical, and hence coercive, being made to give ground first. We shall see. Is this a case where the biggest ego loses? Once we engage in dialogue, watch for subtle results. Remember, reasoned principles are more powerful than dogma, especially if that dogma is coercive by nature. This will be interesting... I wonder who reads this? :-)

Ivan
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Ivan
Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - 07:02 pm:   

Why Dogma?

Naive, you bring up a very thought provoking idea in yours:

quote:

That is why we have so many problems moving society forward. By its very structure, religion keeps alive the notion that some will be morally superior (to those who are inferior), and that only some deserve salvation. Thus people become lazy and unmindful of their responsibility to uplift humanity's deficiencies! Religion frees the individual of his responsibility toward the group...



The truth is hard to come by, it takes work, mental effort, risk of failure, fortitude, all hard to do; so is it not easier to 'accept' a truth offered by another, and merely accept that category of 'truth' revealed as religious dogma? It is so much less work, and being the lazy humans, we find a comfort in not having to work, but to accept that a given 'truth' as revealed by some religious authority, what becomes dogma, as merely true. I suspect this is the material substance to why humans on a whole will accept dogma, because it is easier than reasoning out the truth.

In the Wiki linked above, it says:
"Dogmata are found in many religions such as Christianity and Islam, where they are considered core principles that must be upheld by all followers of that religion. As a fundamental element of religion, the term "dogma" is assigned to those theological tenets which are considered to be well demonstrated, such that their proposed disputation or revision effectively means that a person no longer accepts the given religion as his or her own, or has entered into a period of personal doubt. Dogma is distinguished from theological opinion regarding those things considered less well-known. Dogmata may be clarified and elaborated but not contradicted in novel teachings (e.g., Galatians 1:8-9). Rejection of dogma is considered heresy in certain religions, and may lead to expulsion from the religious group."
So the applicable rule to dogma is that you either accept it, or you personally become rejected. There is no room to question or doubt, because doubt is forbidden, a heresy. And if you still doubt, you as a person, your Who is invalidated; your are spiritually and socially rejected. Therefore, if you seek the truth by questioning or reasoning on your own, you run the risk of being expelled from the group that accepts such dogma, or worse, you may be killed. Core principles are predefined, of necessity, not by reason but by some dogma that may not be ever questioned. It's in the rules, either accept it or pay the price. So in addition to appeal to a natural laziness, there is also the threat that hangs over one, that he or she must accept the dogma or, figuratively and literally, be damned, either in this life or the next.

So where does responsibility come in? It is only to obey dogma, not to think for oneself, but just like a good slave must obey. So, once that obedience is in place, there goes the need to think further about it, which makes it easy. However, if anyone then tries to pull away from dogma and reason for themselves, their mind demands it, they are trapped by the threats and punishments that await them. This is totally regressive, which is why dogma must be fought with reason, if we are free human beings, and not lazy slaves. To have a mind, like freedom, is hard work.

Reasoned principles of truth are different from what, as described in the Catholic Encyclopedia, are principles of dogma:
"Theologians distinguish three classes of revealed truths: truths formally and explicitly revealed; truths revealed formally, but only implicitly; and truths only virtually revealed.
A truth is said to be formally revealed, when the speaker or revealer really means to convey that truth by his language, to guarantee it by the authority of his word. The revelation is formal and explicit, when made in clear express terms. It is formal but only implicit, when the language is somewhat obscure, when the rules of interpretation must be carefully employed to determine the meaning of the revelation. And a truth is said to be revealed only virtually, when it is not formally guaranteed by the word of the speaker, but is inferred from something formally revealed."
This is 'check mate' in three moves: The revelation of 'truth', once spoken and accepted, whether 'formally' and sealed, or 'virtually' interpreted, but guaranteed by the word of the speaker and enforced by his authority, or extensions of that authority, then it must be accepted as true, or else suffer punishments. Dogma now becomes a de facto truth, which is not true, except by the word, in some onanistic way, telling us it is true about itself. Try to disobey this 'truth' and you become punished for it, or damned. How can anyone argue against such an ironclad condition? However, that is its own weakness, that there is no argument against it, except a test of reality, real proofs; or if that fails, the use of force to break free from its iron grip. And since many such dogmas deal with allegedly dire (or pleasurable) events that are guaranteed after death (no one comes back to verify these claims), the whole 'truth' is to be accepted on 'faith' alone rather than reason. The only come back, in that case, is "prove it." And since they can't prove it, they then threaten, often with violence in this world, or childishly in the next, Hell.

Our responsibilities towards the truth are demanded not by someone's words, since it is then only one word against another, but something more substantial, something real. We must have tangible proofs of what is being claimed as truth inside the dogmas. Without that, it is merely another layer of 'one word against another', and this has no validity in our principles of truth. Dogma is what needs to be conquered by reason, or else we remain in that lazy mode where our personal responsibilities are shifted off elsewhere, to the detriment of society as a whole. Then our moral behaviors are not our problem, personally, as long as we obey the dogmas. That is both false and sinister, because it takes the responsibility from the individual and in so doing prevents them from ever realizing Who they are. Remember, the Who each one of us carries in our consciousness is not some mega-social phenomenon, but organically individual for each one of us. We have a right to exist in this world, and we have a right to be Who we are. Dogma takes that away from us. Once our responsibility is taken away from our person, without reason, the whole social mechanism based on pure obedience suffers. Then 'accountablity and reciprocity' become meaningless, when the individual fails in their responsibility. So we come to the inescapably necessary conclusion, with reason in principle, that Dogma must be slain. Reason must do this, not with violence, hopefully, but with reason, if we are to be free human beings. We of necessity must have the right to be Who we are, within the legal framework of our social responsibilities to each other, by our Christian Principles as free and equal, or else humanity is doomed. The arrogance of dogma cannot coexist with the freedoms of our humility. Humility must win.

Separation of church (mosque) and state, anyone? Well, well... A personal faith is one thing, but politicized... that is the dragon.


Ivan
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Naive
Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - 02:24 pm:   

How do you slay Dogma?

Personal over private faith is a start. Humility, that's good too. But what about the millions trapped on the lease of self-replicating Dogma? They answer with programmed action and rhetoric, in order to defend their way of life. Psychology calls it "cognitive dissonance". In this phenomenon, the mind does whatever it takes to quiet the dissonance created when reason reveals a truth the discoverer cannot or does not want to reconcile. But how do you defeat the "cultural cognitive dissonance" inspired by a lifetime of programmed thought? People will feel like traitors and sinners when faced with accepting realities that contradict their belief system. Cults have been successful with defeating dogma, but unfortunately they simply replace it with another set of dogmatic rules. Cultures have used force with success, unfortunately to the same effect as that mentioned above.

How do we defeat Dogma?

Education will work for the educated and prosperous (but only if they want to open their minds). How do you reach those who don't want to change. Must we mandate private faith only? Must we punish (uniformly around the world) those who seek to impose their beliefs upon others? Actions by governments in Europe and Australia seem to be pointing in that direction. Is political isolation the answer? Should we go so far as to ban cultural transmission of dogmatic ideas, or perhaps even, set up a mandated ethical system that in effect replaces dogma by out competing it in the educational sphere?

Maybe we need a new thread to explore suggestions!


Naive
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Ivan/freechoice
Posted on Thursday, August 09, 2007 - 07:48 pm:   

The Statue of Liberty versus 'Allah' - On immigration, and Abu's dilemma.

288px-Statueofliberty.jpg
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift up my lamp beside the golden door!" - Emma Lazarus (interactive)

When America opened her arms to foreign immigration during the early part of the last century, great numbers of European immigrants flooded to her shores. Most came to start a new life leaving behind in the Old World the oppressions of poverty or class restrictions to find opportunities in the New World of freedom. Some came to seek their fortunes, but most came to build a new life for their families in a land that welcomed them, their energy, their visions, their industry, to fuel the massive manpower and intellect a new America needed to become the greatest nation of the 20th century. As they reached the end of their ocean voyage, likely in cramped and mean quarters, entering New York harbor, the travel weary immigrants often brought their families topside just as their steamship was passing below the Statue of Liberty. This was a sweet moment for them, both exhilarating and poignant, realizing at that moment that they have entered into a new chapter of their life, that the old is left behind. A new world lay open before them, with hard work, unfamiliar places, unknown peoples and their laws, a vast land stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, to be worked and gained from, to gain a foothold in this new land. This moment was both joyful and fearful, because none knew with certainty what lay ahead. But as they passed beneath that great green Lady standing over the harbor with a tablet, a Book of Laws, in one hand and Torch of Liberty in the other that she signified liberty, and for many this brought tears. I know, because as a young boy mid century I too came into that harbor beneath that great statue and felt what my parents felt as they looked up at her. The road ahead was filled with both hope and foreboding, but we were ready. The name of our ship which brought us from Le Havre to New York was the French ocean-liner "Liberte". We were poor but we had dreams.

Today's immigrants come to America more often through international airports, landing at J.F. Kennedy, or Newark's Liberty International, who do not watch the great statue drift slowly overhead as they approach their new land. If lucky, sitting by a window, they may see it small from above, as I had recently landing in New York on the 4th of July. She was lit by fireworks then. The same hopes and dreams fill their hearts, but unless their airplane flies over her, the statue is something they may someday visit as tourists, not an immediate impact upon arrival to their new life. Today's immigrants are welcomed from all lands, not mainly European nations, but from African and Asian, and South American lands. Yet, all who come still have that same burning desire to start a new life, to leave the old poverty and oppressions behind, and to carve out a new future for themselves and their families. Today they come from many cultures and beliefs, many still come from Christian countries, but also many from Buddhist or Hindu, or Muslim countries; and some from no religion at all, but from a secular world of beliefs, a modern view of humanity and the universe, from a humanist culture that we can all learn to live together no matter what our beliefs. This is the world I come from, that liberty and peace can coexist for all humanity, no matter what our beliefs, same as had been demonstrated on these American shores. We all came together to built a new nation based upon the fundamental principle that in a society built up on the rule of law, and freedom of belief, and mutual respect for the rights of individuals, that we can build a successful world that is both prosperous and satisfying to us individually in our personal search for happiness in this life. America has proven through her great success that the promise of her liberties work, because we are indeed a great nation.

When my parents sailed by the great Statue of Liberty on that cool early March morning, a cloudy salt filled day that smelled of harbor, as our ship sailed by we stood in awe. The morning mist matched our tears, that what started at a Nazi labor camp for my parents, and an impoverished skinny boy for me, ended here with a new beginning. We were not conscious of what freedom meant, nor aware of these basic principles, we did not really understand the land and great nation we were about to enter, not then. On our mind was more the immediate fears of two adults and their two children whose whole life possessions were left behind in France, my teddy bear left on my bed in our little two room apartment, the four valises full of all we owned, and my parents with less than $100 in their billfold; so began a new life. I would never see my friends again, hoping to make new ones. We also spoke no English, and the small apartment in the lower east side of Manhattan to which we were directed, I remember Elizabeth Street, was shabby and peeling, partitioned by a bed sheet, where on the other side lived a solitary older German man who worked as a steward aboard an ocean-liner. It was not a glamorous experience, not the tall and sleek skyscrapers of the new world, but the old tenements not much better than the one we left behind. But this is not a unique experience, because many new immigrants came here under similar circumstances, no matter from what country. And through friends and family, or the help of temple and church, they start from a low point in life, and most will gradually work their way into the American economic system, often without the aid of social welfare, same as my parents, but through industry, multiple jobs, until they gain their economic feet. Before long they will buy their home, a car, find new friends, and enter a social network into which they will gradually access both through education and profession to pursue their American dream. We did it, my parents worked hard, I studied, and somehow it all worked. We never had a real doubt about our ability, nor did we doubt the world into which we stepped, that we would be free to pursue our dreams. That for us was what liberty meant.

Little Abu, like myself as a young child, would come to America with his parents and siblings, also to share in that new world. When aboard ship I met children who were Jewish, unlike us, who had similar stories as ours. But we did not meet any Muslims then, though some might have been aboard. Muslim immigration was not an issue fifty years ago, 911 changed that. Today's new arrivals are not usually processed by immigration authorities at the docks, but at the international section of the airport, and lucky if they flew close enough to that great Statue of Liberty, if on the right side of the plane, to see it below. Mostly it is more prosaic, passport stamped, checked visa, some questions, and that is only if entered into the country legally. The illegals have even less, though in their hearts burns the same desire. So little Abu, or Abdulah, would have been whisked through customs and into a new land, his parents also filled with dreams for a new life. But upon arrival theirs might have been a different dream. Where my parents saw the Statue of Liberty as redemption, a symbol of human freedom, Abu's parents, if they saw it at all, might have looked upon it with concern, perhaps even suspicion, in their dreams of a new life. We came from a war torn Europe, and they perhaps from a war torn Middle East, or Africa. Liberty, freedom, are not part of their common bond with humanity, but submission and obedience instead, to their prophet and god. His father might have thoughts of how could he conserve this culture in this land of freedom, with its unruly morals and free way of life, for himself and his wife, and children. His mother might have hoped of achieving an American equality with women, but she would wonder what that meant, could it even be possible. They were here not to embrace freedom, but to bring their own dominant world view into this new land, and use freedom to achieve this. So the Lady Statue was not a symbol of redemption for them, but perhaps more an obstacle to their dreams.

As soon as my parents could, they embraced American citizenship. But Abu's parents would have reservations about that. To swear allegiance to a nation state and its Constitution, and its government, or to do the Pledge of Allegiance, might have seemed alien an idea. How could they forsake the world of dar-al-Islam, and Mohammed's teachings to spread the Ummah unto the infidels, through da'wa or otherwise, until all the lands of the Earth's are Allah's? To pledge an allegiance to a humanly constructed state with its manmade laws, as opposed to Allah's laws as revealed by their Prophet Mohammed, is cause to stop and ponder, or even find revulsion of such an idea. Abu's parents were torn upon arrival, and five years hence when they qualified for American citizenship, because of these conflicts in their hearts and minds. That great beautiful statuesque Lady in the harbor of New York did not have the same meaning for them, as it did for us. And perhaps it might have even been viewed with a cold animosity rather than joy. Tears for our two families might have been very different in their meanings, redemption for one, but non-submission for the other. How could they ever submit to a world of freedom as defined by men, and women, when they had been dictated to submit in total obedience to the will of Allah? How could they offer allegiance and respect for the laws of men, when their Prophet of Allah told them otherwise? The two cannot coexist within the same hearts, if Islam is to dominate the lands of the infidels, and not be dominated. So citizenship perhaps is out of the question for Abu's parents, and perhaps also for him and his brothers and sisters. They may never become Americans, perhaps.

These are two worlds, both coming to America for opportunity, but where one comes for the promises of freedom, the other does not. Both sets of parents embraced economic opportunity, and both struggled to learn the English language, though spoke their native tongues at home and amidst friends, and all the children got an education, mostly free in America to the secondary level. But where my parents embraced America's freedoms to pursue their ideals as free human beings, Abu's parents hesitated, and perhaps even rejected this freedom, because it ran against what they embraced as submission to Allah. Our Statue of Liberty was in contradiction to submission, rather for liberty than total obedience, to Allah or anyone. And there the two families part comparison, because both found in the land of freedom something else. Where we embraced it to become Americans, they found it to reject America's freedoms with their own theology of submission. Tolerance and freedom of belief cannot go only one way, in submission, but must be equal both ways, where all human beings are free to believe in their hearts as they will, offering their souls to their God, but not their religious politics to others. Submission is only one way, to obey, but not to be free. There is no reciprocation of freedom of belief in Islam. And there our two worlds diverge, interminably like two parallel lines than can never meet. Submission means slavery in a land of freedom, and these two worlds cannot coexist. We have universal religious freedom in America, but this freedom may not be used against us to force us into submission, ever, by any political group or cult, including a world religion. We are free Americans, as declared in our Constitutional rights, and Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." These are the words which we who are Americans live by. Can Abu's family ever embrace this equality, these unalienable rights? Will Abu's mother ever be free of her subservience to her husband, or other male members of the family? Will they have the right, in this world, to pursuit of happiness? Or are they to forever cower in fear of hell in the afterlife, if they fail to obey in submission to Allah? This will be Abu's dilemma when it is time for him to choose. Will he choose to be an American, or not? How will little Abu choose? When he becomes a man, in a land of freedom, he has a choice. How will he choose then? Will he choose dogma over freedom, or the freedom to pursue his full humanity of conscience, conscious as a free human being, equal with all others? To live in peace with all humanity no matter their belief, or even if of no belief? We know how we chose, and how I chose. But we had Christian values. How will he?

Should Muslim immigrants be asked one more question in addition to those already asked by customs?
"Do you believe in equality for all human beings, all genders, all sexual persuasions, and all religions, and obey our U.S. Constitutional laws first above all others?"
How will they answer?

T044122A.jpg
Children awaiting immigration entry, Ellis Island. (interactive)


Ivan
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Ivan/Peace?
Posted on Saturday, August 18, 2007 - 08:46 pm:   

Religion of Peace? - Why Christianity is and Islam isn't.

I entered a 'book review' after reading it at one sitting, except for a break for lunch. Amazingly clear treatise of two different premises for human civilization: one based on reason and Christ's teachings as basis our individual freedoms, while the other based on submission to Mohammed's revelations and the Caliphate. Both have a 'rule of law' but where one law endows human freedoms, the other takes them away. Which brings peace, or war? Jihad is their answer.
I read "Religion of Peace?" pretty much at one sitting. Dr. Spencer's depth of scholarship is spell binding, yet easy to read. He covers areas from anti-Semitism to Nazism, contrasts of tolerance or intolerance between religions, calls for war for religious beliefs, Jihad, the Crusades and the Papacy, to reason versus dogma, to equal human rights for both men and women.

Modern multi-culturalism's efforts to take all religions on equitable footings are unsupported by historical events, or a religious fervor to conquer the world for Allah; which is a world dominating jihadic dream of sharia law for all the lands of the Earth. The weakness of arguments for such jihadic conquests are exposed, showing how no such equivalence exists in Christianity, or any other world religions. To a reasonable person, this spells the centuries old conflict for world domination on religious grounds, not Judeo-Christian but Islamic, is only once more raising its ugly scepter after a lull of relative religious peace. But reason has no place in such a conflict, because it comes from non-reasonable religious assumptions, that Allah gave the world the Law, the Sharia, and our humanly agreed upon laws, our freedoms by Social Contract, is null and void in the Muslim mind. A personal faith can be equated with Christianity, given large latitudes of tolerance, but an Islamic politicized mandate to conquer the world for a religious belief system, by force if an invitation to Islam is rejected, has no parallel in any other religious beliefs. Our tolerance of other religions is unrequited in the Muslim belief system, and this in its politicized jihadi format makes it a violently dangerous cult-like system for the world. Sharia is not equal to the rule of law. Slavery is not equal to freedom. And Islam is not equal to any other religions if it is mandated to subdue rather than be subdued. Religion of Peace? Christ's perhaps, but Mohammed's? Let the reader decide. I did.

Can there be dialogue between Islam and the Western ideals of liberty based on our Christian values? Dr. Spencer's excellent treatment of this dialogue dilemma is handled with balanced reason and facts. Is our civilization worth defending? Yes. Because we conquered slavery, and support human equality, equality of genders, and we believe in human rights, while the world of Sharia still harbors inequality and slavery.

Ivan

BTW, I would replace the held sword on the cover with a chalice of wine, since that better exemplifies our freedoms in Christ. :-)
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Ivan/scriptorium
Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 10:18 am:   

Our Christian, Greco-Roman heritage of our Western civilization.


180px-Irwin1.jpg250px-Escribano.jpg180px-C7463-01a.jpg

Medieval Manuscript culture (interactive) of Europe

Fjordman wrote a powerful essay on "Islam, the Greeks and the Scientific Revolution", part 2, where he challenges the oft accepted concept that Islam was instrumental in rescuing Western civilization from the Dark Ages. This is not accurate, since the translation of ancient Classical Greek and Roman texts were carried out largely by Christian and Jewish scholars, not Islamic ones. The exception was in Toledo, Spain, where some ancient texts were translated from Arabic, but most translations were done in Byzantium, using Latin and Greek to preserve them. Arab translations were limited to medicine and mathematics, some philosophy, but hardly touched on the classics of poetry and theater, and with no interest in history. Comparing civilizations from China to India to the Occident shows that while the East had a highly developed form, it was not taken beyond its seminal advances, while in the West the ideas already long established in the East, such as printing, gun powder, and even glass lenses, were developed by the Renaissance, through scientific inquiry and applications, into what became the foundations of our modern sciences. Islam had little to do with this. In fact, they remained where they were at the peak of their achievements, more than a thousand years ago.

In the 9th century, Islam courted rationalism under the Mu'tailite school, but during the reign of Caliph Mutawakkil (reign 847-861) this was put to an end. He decreed that Allah had total free reign over the universe, so that He could not be constrained by rationalism. So even if Allah was whimsical, or contradictory, this could not be challenged by men, if 'so it was written' in the Quran. Consequently, the Ash'ari school eventually took preeminence over rationalism, which established the Sunni Islam dominant today. Without the right to question and challenge, nor to find experimental validation and proofs, Islam became ossified into a dogma stuck in time, of the 9th century, while western Europe progressed forward.

Read it all, including commentaries, all very interesting. The light of knowledge was handed down from early Greek and Roman thinkers to the West, but it leap frogged over those of the East, until modern times.

Ivan
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Ivan/printing
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 07:09 pm:   

Greco-Roman civilization and European heritage, by Fjordman, continued, Part 3:
http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/018368.php

180px-Printer_in_1568-ce.png
16th century printing press (interactive)

Here are some salient points, but read the whole thing, excellent:

quote:

The earliest known lenses were made of rock crystal, quartz, and other minerals, and have been used in Eastern and Western lands since ancient times. There is evidence that lenses were known in the Greco-Roman world. They have been used as burning glasses and magnifying glasses for centuries, and so-called reading stones were in common use during the Middle Ages, for instance the Visby lenses, lens-shaped rock crystals of high quality from in a Viking grave in Gotland, Sweden. The oldest one we know of is the Nimrud lens, found in modern Iraq. Estimated to be almost three thousand years old, it indicates that the ancient Assyrians did have some basic understanding of optics. Iraq, seat of the Sumerian, Akkadian and Assyrian kingdoms, is home to one of the world's oldest astronomical traditions. Babylonian astronomy greatly influenced many subsequent cultures, Middle Eastern, Greek and Indian, and the sexagesimal (based on the number sixty) numeral system of the Sumerians is still with us today, in the form of sixty minutes to the hour and 360 degrees in a circle.

The Iraqi-born scientist Ibn al-Haitham, known in the West as Alhacen or Alhazen, had a powerful influence on several Western scientists. Alhazen was a pioneer in the scientific method by basing hypothesis upon systematic observation. He is most commonly remembered for his great contributions in the field of optics, where he pondered the nature of light, speculated on the colors of the sunset and described the qualities of magnifying lenses. His eleventh century Book of Optics was translated into Latin during the late twelfth century, and left a significant impact on Roger Bacon and others in the thirteenth century.
...
According to the free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, reading stone lenses were invented by polymath Armen Firman (Abbas Ibn Firnas) in Córdoba in Islamic-occupied Spain in the ninth century, and later spread throughout Europe. Wikipedia embodies both the good and some of the problematic aspects of the Internet. I have found useful information there more than once, but it can also be notoriously unreliable on certain subjects due to its numerous editors and lack of professional oversight. Let's assume for a moment that this information is correct. If so, how come lenses weren't developed further by Muslims? The telescope and the microscope were by-products of advances in the production of glass lenses. They made possible, for the first time ever, the study of what is not visible to the naked human eye and radically altered our understanding of the universe, both in the realms of the very small and the very big. All of this could have happened in the Islamic world. So why didn't it, despite the fact that lenses were know there at least as early as in Europe, and despite the fact that the region produced a gifted optical scientist, Alhazen?
...
I'm not suggesting that no scientific achievements were made in the Islamic world. Avicenna's Canon of Medicine was translated into Latin in the twelfth century, and as late as the sixteenth century, Vesalius wrote a thesis commenting on Rhazes. It is impossible to write the medical history of the West during this age without mentioning Middle Eastern physicians such as Avicenna and Rhazes. What I am suggesting is that the number of achievements steadily declined, and I'm not sure how much Islam should be credited with those achievements that were actually made.
...
Andrew G. Bostom keeps referring to Julien Benda and his 1928 book The Treason of the Intellectuals, about how the abandonment of objective truths abetted totalitarian ideologies, which led to World War II. Bostom identifies a similar failure of Western intellectuals to acknowledge the history of Jihad today. From what I gather, Benda was a bit too anti-religious and anti-nationalist for my taste, but otherwise I agree: The problems faced by the West now in confronting Jihad have been facilitated by a failure of our education system, our media and indeed our entire society to uphold the ideal of critical thinking. If the rise of the West was linked to political liberty, rational thinking, free speech and universities championing free enquiry, the decline of the West can be linked to the decline of the same factors.

Author V.S. Naipaul thinks Islam is parasitical by nature and preys upon the pre-Islamic culture in the conquered lands. I will add that it is also the kind of parasite which kills its host. I have no doubt that if Muslims should succeed in conquering Europe, this will in the future be hailed as a Golden Age of Islam. But it wouldn't be a Golden Age of Islam, it would be the twilight of Europe, just as the previous Golden Age was the twilight of the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Zoroastrian and Buddhist cultures from North Africa to Central Asia, and the much vaunted accomplishments of "Islamic medieval science" were echoes of the heritage of Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Syrians and Greeks.
...



Will Europe, and the West in general, which had been so gifted with brilliant inquisitive minds, which gave us everything from Science and technology to governance protecting our human rights, the end of slavery, and Constitutional law; will these survive the Islamic importations of their 9th century dogmas and attitudes towards the West? Why are they here, if they are hostile to us? Do they simply not understand that the material wealth and economic well being we enjoy is BECAUSE of our freedom of thought, and other human freedoms? Apparently not.

Our immigration policies are very much in need of careful revision to preserve our superior cultures and freedoms.

Here is another article supporting this thesis:
Chapter 11: The Parasitic Civilization

For example:

quote:

The historian Herbert Muller, writing at a time when academic candor was still common, debunks the belief in the preservation and transmission of science under Islam, as well as a few other widely cherished myths.

For the sake of understanding … I should say flatly that these high-minded apologists for Islam are talking about a fiction or a dream. The religion preached by Mohammed, and thereafter practiced in his name, is quite different from the Islam they describe. The prophet had nothing of the scientific outlook, and demanded absolute obedience to the law that he alone laid down. Islam never produced a democracy or a state in which the people were actually sovereign. In all states, past and present, economic inequality has been glaring. Its holy wars fought on principle, its degradation of women, and its formal acceptance of slavery make nonsense of its theoretical principle of equality, or any profession of universal human brotherhood.[91]




Ivan

(Part 1 of Fjordman's essays is here, if anyone would like to read the whole thing from the beginning.)
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Ivan/postMulticulturalism
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 11:59 pm:   

In a Post-Multiculturalism World, what works?


300px-Muslim_Dress_Billboard.jpg (interactive)
Banda Aceh poster: "Following the leading Islam principles according to article 13, paragraph 1, every Muslim has to wear Islamic clothing. Whosoever does not follow these accepted Islamic customs will be punished with Tazir crime."


The freedom to enjoy ethnic diversity is contingent upon the responsibility of all social members to respect each other equally without intent to dominate or subdue one with the other. This in effect is what Multiculturalism is by definition. In the Wikipedia it says:

quote:

Some countries have official, or de jure, multiculturalism policies aimed at preserving the cultures or cultural identities - usually those of immigrant groups - within a unified society. In this context, multiculturalism advocates a society that extends equitable status to distinct cultural and religious groups, no one culture predominating. However, the term is more commonly used to describe a society consisting of minority immigrant cultures existing alongside a predominant, indigenous culture.


This captures the essence, that an equitable social status regardless of culture is desirable, but the reality is that any society will have a dominant culture, which then may tolerate other sub-cultures within it.

However, does this work? Only if there is equitable status for all members of society can Multiculturalism work. In reality, this is not true, because there will still exist a basic societal culture of the nation, while immigrants will represent a sub-culture that then either assimilates itself into the main culture, or fails to do so. This had been the common experience of all countries where Multiculturalism had been policy, such as Canada's Official Multiculturalism Act, 1988, where within two decades two groups of their national society tried to institute their own language and laws. French Canadians succeeded in passing a dual language requirement, whereas Muslims failed to pass a family Sharia dual legal system. Similar multicultural experiences were found in the European Union states as well as Australia and New Zealand, all of whom accepted Multiculturalism as a social good. However, the reality is that in the end they had to abandon the social experiment, because by endorsing social and cultural unassimilation, they created conditions that became hostile to the national identity. And that is the problem, that if a sub-culture fails to assimilate within the country's social and cultural identity, it stands apart, and may even become hostile to the host country's main culture. That becomes tantamount to invasion.

In the United States a different model was used, that of cultural Assimilation. However, even here where multicultural norms were accepted, such as dual language of Spanish and English (California et al), the obstacles to cultural assimilation became magnified. The old 19th century Melting Pot idea began to give way to a Canadian styled 'patchwork quilt' mentality, where rather than becoming Americans, the newly arrived immigrants tried to establish their own enclaves (California - mapping Muslim islands in LA controversy), which then became a de facto state within a state. Or as Wiki states:

quote:

In the United States especially, multiculturalism became associated with political correctness and with the rise of ethnic identity politics. In the 1980s and 1990s many criticisms were expressed, from both the left and right. Criticisms come from a wide variety of perspectives, but predominantly from the perspective of liberal individualism, from American conservatives concerned about values, and from a national unity perspective.
The liberal-feminist critique is related to the liberal and libertarian critique, since it is concerned with what happens inside the cultural groups. In her 1999 essay, later expanded into an anthology, "Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?" the feminist and political theorist Susan Okin argues that a concern for the preservation of cultural diversity should not overshadow the discriminatory nature of gender roles in many traditional minority cultures, that, at the very least, "culture" should not be used as an excuse for rolling back the women's rights movement.


Does a multicultural tolerance allow for habits and traditions within the culture that are contrary to the main culture? For example, arranged marriages, burqas, or female circumcision, or 'honor' killings, Q4:34, are part of a sub-culture of one group of immigrants, but does this not offend the primary culture of freedom of choice into which this group migrated? Feminists, as one example among many, are right to be concerned. In fact, the whole society becomes concerned if an immigrant sub-culture brings with it norms and traditions that run contrary to what had become the norm of human freedoms and individual rights. These human rights are non-negotiable.

By this example, Multiculturalism was found lacking, in that it could not accommodate a new cultural invasion if an immigrant sub-culture was hostile to the existing primary culture. To assimilate into the main culture is one thing, but to create a potentially hostile and invasive sub-culture is another. And when that sub-culture feels itself strong enough to begin to overturn the nation's cultural and social heritage with its own, a natural opposition results. Of course it would, because that is mass invasion. Again from Wiki, regarding European post-Multiculturalism:

quote:

Following the collapse of the consensus on multiculturalism, several European Union countries have introduced policies for 'social cohesion', 'integration', and (sometimes) 'assimilation'. They are sometimes a direct reversal of earlier multiculturalist policies, and seek to assimilate immigrant minorities and restore a de facto monocultural society. The policies include:
* compulsory language courses in the national language, assessed by a compulsory language test - for immigrants, and in some cases for those of immigrant descent
* compulsory courses and/or tests on national history, on the constitution and the legal system, see Life in the United Kingdom test
* introduction of an official national history, such as the national canon defined for the Netherlands by the van Oostrom Commission,[66] and promotion of that history, for instance by exhibitions about national heroes.
* official campaigns to promote national unity, and individual identification with the nation - such as the campaign Du bist Deutschland [50] in Germany
* official lists of national values, and tests of acceptance of these values
* tests designed to elicit 'unacceptable' values, such as the "Muslim-test" in Germany. In Baden-Württemberg immigrants are asked what they would do, if their son says he is a homosexual. (The expected answer is that they would accept it).[67]
* restriction on spouses or children joining immigrants already in the country, and age and income restrictions on non-western marriage partners, sometimes with language tests for potential spouses, in their country of origin
* official declarations specifying that only the national language may be spoken in certain areas.
* language prohibitions in schools, universities, and public buildings. Language bans have also been proposed for public transport and hospitals.
* prohibitions on Islamic dress - especially the niqab (often misnamed as burqa).[68]
* introduction of an oath of allegiance or loyalty oath for immigrants, usually following naturalisation and during a compulsory ceremony.



Once an immigrant sub-culture is deemed invasive and hostile to the primary culture, everything changes, and the old ideals of a Multicultural society become untenable. An invasion is an invasion, and there is no nice way around it, because the invading culture is not respectful of the established national culture, so it then becomes a 'cult of ethnicity' which is unacceptable. This is then the beginnings of a post-Multiculturalism world, the one we are entering now.

In all the advanced nations, those based upon Christian principles, from the United States and Canada, to Europe, to Australia-New Zealand, and even to Asian countries such as Japan, multiculturalism in the end proves unrealistic as a national policy. (The very idea of Multiculturalism is a 'Christian value' originating in compassion, forgiveness, to allow for the 'other' to be tolerated in society. Japan, not a Christian based country, never even courted the idea.) So the new world or Anti-multiculturalism, not as hostility to sub-cultures, nor racial hostility, but as acceptance that though all cultures are to be respected, if that respect fails to reciprocate but returns hostility instead, then the idea of Multiculturalism cannot work, and is not only impractical but dangerous to society at large. There is no equitable status for a culture that seeks to dominate its people with repressive, and regressive habits and norms, in a society that is tolerant and respectful of our individual rights and freedoms. This is akin to comparing a society built upon a principle of social agreements, those which ensure our freedoms, with a society built up of coercions, those which enslave the people. When two mutually exclusive ideologies clash like this, then Multiculturalism fails. This is what happened in Europe, and to some lesser degree in other countries, that an invasive hostile culture could not be tolerated on equitable terms with the primary culture, if they proved themselves hostile and intolerant of our freedoms. In the post-Jihad age, post 9/11 styled attacks against our societies, this difference became pronounced enough to make governments begin to institute anti-Multiculturalism laws. This is the likely trend into the future, that the old styled Multiculturalism, and its ideals, will become displaced by a more pragmatic, and self preservational, policy of the post-Multiculturalism we are finding increasingly dominant in Europe today. The same will happen in all other modern countries as well.

This does not mean that cultures are to be condemned outright, but it does mean that we must discriminate against those cultures that are unable to assimilate within the host country to which they had migrated, especially if they are hostile to it. An invading culture, meaning that it is coercing the primary culture into which it had migrated, is not to be tolerated on the basis of equal respect and reciprocity. If they do not respect the local culture, then they have no place in it. Religion has nothing to do with this, because this is primarily a political act of control. Regardless of what one's religious beliefs may be, they must respect and reciprocate respect for the local culture, if they are not to be seen as hostile invaders. The reason we have a separation of 'church (mosque) and state', or "render onto Caesar what is Caesar's..." is because religion may not abrogate our natural freedoms, nor our individual human rights, no matter what the culture.

Trends to watch for in the future is how well some sub-cultural groups can assimilate into local primary cultures. For example, if a large number of norte Americanos were to migrate into Mexico, how would they assimilate? Would they try to change the local language, or laws, or holidays? Would they begin a campaign of implementing their own norms and beliefs? Of if a large number of Europeans were to migrate to the United Arab Emirate, or Saudi Arabia, would they begin a process of 'colonization' with their own laws, language, religious beliefs, etc? Probably not, at least not in today's world (unlike previous centuries where this did happen). So why would the opposite effect be tolerated in the name of Multiculturalism? The fact that we are moving away from that, and into a mode of post-Multiculturalism is proof that this ideal did not work, nor could it. It was a dream, a grand social experiment, but reality in the end put a stop to it. We now live in a post-Multiculturalist world, and the invasions that were allowed over the past two or three decades was wrong, and it must not only be stopped, but in some cases actually reversed. This process has already begun. We cannot subordinate culture to cult.


Ivan
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ananimas
Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007 - 09:20 pm:   

Does that mean that in a Post-Multiculturalist world no one needs to wear the 'Nazi uniform' of Islamic dress, men and women and children, in any culture, whether or not Muslim? No, no. Islamic mullahs will never accept that freedom, because for them you wearing the 'Islamic uniform' is freedom most virtuous. If you don't believe them, you will be punished for a crime.

Sieg Heil! (facing Makka) Don't cha get it? :-)
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Ivan/forgiveness
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 11:59 am:   

We are Conscious: We Give.

I wrote this in Ch. 23, Habeas Mentem, in the second volume, that to give is a conscious act, and to forgive is merely the next higher level of that giving. I then wrote:

quote:

We can choose to give, to be kind, to be joyous, in a way that is unique to us. When so chosen, we can then energize these through the energy of personality into our existence in terms of how we are and what we do. When we step beyond ourselves and offer to be generous, to be humble, to be serene, we are adding the soul to our world. ... When we lend comfort where there is pain, courage where is distress, we are offering elements of the soul. And when we overcome arrogance with kindness or anger with understanding, then we are learning to forgive in a way the animal cannot. We are human and as such we do not return anger for anger or pain for pain. We stop at its source and, if possible, avert it before it even has a chance to come into being.


What I was saying was that if giving is a conscious act, what we humans who are conscious are capable of, if we choose this, then forgiving is the next level of that consciousness. But this takes the conscious act of a human being, and is not something naturally given to the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind easily gives into a pecking order and passes on the hurt to the next one in line. We who are conscious choose not to do this.

These are principles upon which mature civilizations function, however imperfectly, that we do not pass on the hurt to another, which is an unconscious act, but stop it and reverse that. Rather we heal the hurt, and in Christ's words, we "turn the other cheek" to stop the violation of our humanity, not by empowering it, but by not letting it go past us. We choose to avert it, and thus negate the hurt by offering forgiveness in return. This is an immensely powerful concept, something originating largely from Christian values, and which makes the world a less hostile place. Nor is this to be understood that when faced with coercions or violence we then automatically surrender ourselves. That is not meant to be at all. Rather, we have the right to stop the coercions and violence, but then make a conscious choice to not pass it on to others. This is what "turn the other cheek" means fundamentally, that we do not in turn hurt another, not even those who author the pain. Instead, we stop them. And in this stopping them, when they are vanquished of their aggressions, then and only then do we forgive them. But all this requires a conscious human mind, not slave but free, a mind who knows Who they are, and stand firm in this principle of forgiveness. Giving, and forgiving, are two very powerful conditions of the conscious human mind, the right to be Who we are, as free human beings because we choose this.

I ended the chapter with these words:

quote:

We give of ourselves in these pursuits, it is the work of our being here, and from them grows the collective level of our human consciousness. It is not that these achievements cannot be undone; a lapse in vigilance can quickly revert back to a primitive state. Rather it is a lesson that when the human soul is victorious over its predatory past, we project ourselves into a world of care and love and understanding. To love and to forgive, to give, are powerful human traits. To trust, to be sincere, to be gentle and serene are powers that allow a universe to focus in on itself through our personality. Free from coercion, we are then able to pass these powers on to others. When we give, we are conscious. In this is the energy of a greater future world.


Being free from coercion, and being free to love another, is really what giving and forgiving is all about. The operative word here is 'free' as a human being. And it is this freedom that in our Christian values were handed down to us from Jesus to the present as a confirmation of the value, the beauty, and the richness of being a free human being.

Ivan

[Ps: to Animas. Yes, I think you understand it correctly, that the 'uniform' of any group is inherently militaristic and oppressive if it is something on which we have no choice. The Islamics in enforcing with punishments a dress code are revealing to us that they are militaristic in nature, not a religion but a force of domination. In this they also prove they are an unconscious mind, and rather than accepting and forgiving, they punish instead, right down the line of their pecking order, which makes them inherently a primitive sect. We stop the hurt, and they encourage the hurt. In this way they fail in forgiveness, and thus are contrary to our Christian values. So the big question is: what do we do about them? Encourage them? No. We stop the hurt, stop the violations of our human rights, and then when they are vanquished we may forgive them, and accept them as part of our common humanity. For now, it is their choice, because we still treat them as equals. But if they continue trespass and coercion, then it is ours. Slaves are not free to choose their fate. By their actions Islamics prove to us daily they are slaves (of Mohammed's god Allah) in their hearts. Their violation of human rights are unforgivable.]
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Ivan/Rome 846
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 02:01 am:   

When the Saracens sacked Rome - 846 AD.


250px-JulianusII-antioch(360-363)-CNG.jpg (interactive)
Julian, the last Pagan Roman emperor (361-363).

We must not forget that Rome had been sacked by the Muslim hordes. The Saracens attacked St. Peter's and stole all the gold and treasure inside. This had never been properly addressed, and no retaliation ever carried out, which shows the superiority of the Church of Jesus Christ to the Mohammedans. In part, it was mere pirate banditry, but in part it set the stage for all future conflicts between Islam and Christendom. Sacking the most holy site of Christianity is equivalent to sacking Mecca in the world of Islam. It had never been addressed before, properly, so this is still an unresolved issue. How will it play out in history, because it must play out? They say they will conquer Rome. I say they will be conquered by Rome. And it will happen in a most unusual way, because God will have a hand.

400px-Donationconstantine.jpg (interactive)
St. Peter's Basilica, c. 1520

This is not over. Let the drama of history play out.

Ivan
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ananimas
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 06:37 pm:   

Ivan, what could G*d do to change the Muslims hatred of western civilization? They hate Israel, Europe - except to further Islamic rule - and America, for their freedoms. They hate us. What could Rome do?
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Ivan/Godshand
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 10:58 pm:   


quote:

...what could G*d do?..



Good question, and it would take a prophet of the old biblical kind to give a suitable answer. I don't know, except to think that since God, or G*d or whatever, is already a perfection of total Being for the universe, there is little likelyhood of making dramatic statements, like big cosmological events. Rather, as a perfection of love, or infinite wisdom of intelligence, He or She or It would likely reach into the human heart. So what can happen there? Well, there can be a 'change of heart' by a large number of people, suddenly and miraculously, where rather than wanting to kill and get even, they want to join in the rest of humanity with love. How about that? Cant that happen? Why not?

Imagine if the Saudi Kingdom suddely announced that now Mecca is open to all humanity, without prejudice or preconditions of having to be an avowed Muslim. How miraculous would that be? Not to mention, it would boost their tourism dramatically. I was thinking, in some subconscious sort of way, something more along those lines. Would it help if the Vatican petitioned the Saudi Kingdom to do this? Perhaps, as a hint. Imagine all humanity being all inclusive of acceptance of one another, regardless of religion or anything else! That would be a giant step forward, but here we must leave it to the universe, our future, and perhaps even to G*d. :-) We humans at this time have not gotten to that level yet, except in some small pockets of civilization. This is work in progress at this time... maybe something advanced species of human beings are monitoring here... but we're still not there. Historical dramas have a way of playing out, so this will be most interesting to see how the future changes for Islam. I suspect big changes, maybe even mass conversions... we'll see.

Ivan
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Ivan/knowing God
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2007 - 10:10 pm:   

The Universe 'knows' itself, of necessity.


350px-Hubble_ultra_deep_field.jpg (interactive)
The light from the smallest, most redshifted galaxies originated roughly 13 billion years ago.

In Science Islam and Christianity, a commentary by Robert Spencer, author of "Religion of Peace?", he quotes the great Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), explaining orthodox Islamic cosmology:
"Human intellect does not perceive any reason why a body should be in a certain place instead of being in another. In the same manner they say that reason admits the possibility that an existing being should be larger or smaller than it really is, or that it should be different in form and position from what it really is; e.g., a man might have the height of a mountain, might have several heads, and fly in the air; or an elephant might be as small as an insect, or an insect as huge as an elephant.

This method of admitting possibilities is applied to the whole Universe. Whenever they affirm that a thing belongs to this class of admitted possibilities, they say that it can have this form and that it is also possible that it be found differently, and that the one form is not more possible than the other; but they do not ask whether the reality confirms their assumption. They say that the thing which exists with certain constant and permanent forms, dimensions, and properties, only follows the direction of habit, just as the king generally rides on horseback through the streets of the city, and is never found departing from this habit; but reason does not find it impossible that he should walk on foot through the place: there is no doubt that he may do so, and this possibility is fully admitted by the intellect."

This Islamic cosmology, as Spencer explains (see original text in link above), is not based on the axiom that the universe is understandable as a set of laws governing all reality, and God's universe, homogenously and isotropically, but is given to any possibility that may come from the mind of God, or Allah, so that all is possible, no matter how improbable or even false, if God so wills it. This axiom is so far removed from the Judeo-Christian idea of cosmology, where the universe, and God's mind, is understandable as a set of conditions obeying laws that are universal, and hence isotropic and homogenous, and that it is for the mind of man to then delve into understanding this reality, in order to ultimately gain some understanding of God. But what caught my attention within this greater treatise, also covered in Spencer's book, is that once Christianity's culture of inquiry and exploration into the laws of God took hold, the universe became an open book into which we could now peer with undertanding, and from which we gain useful knowledge, what had become the scientific and technological traditions of western civilization, a tradition unique in its successes such as the world had never known before. But there is one line in the above by Maimonides that strikes me especially:
"Human intellect does not perceive any reason why a body should be in a certain place instead of being in another."
And this is an especially telling sign of where his mind was, as a philosopher given the times and knowledge of those times, when he wrote this, that the universe could be uncertain. But is it true?

Here is a distinction between the human intellect and the universe, both of which can know, in principle, what cause and effect can place a body into a certain place versus another. We understand how things can move, or influence each other physically, and with energy, to be where they are, though we can do this only imperfectly, or at best probabilistically, such as in Heinsenberg's 'uncertainty principle' applied to Quantum physics, but this is not the whole story. The universe already 'knows', of necessity, where everything is to be, or must be, in relation to where everything else is, and how it is affected by the energies that place it there, with total certainty. Again, from our Judeo-Christian based culture of scientific thought, we assume that the universe operates upon certain laws that are consistent and non-contradictory, so that all cause and effects are locked within those laws, and how they apply to reality. If this were not true, then no amount of intelligence would ever unlock the secrets of how works our universe. But we have unlocked secrets, the reason I can write this now on this computer, well enough to have found consistency in our applications of given laws of the universe, in this case of electron physics, same as we had succeeded in many of our technological accomplishments from the building of great temples and pyramids to aircraft and space ships now used. Though we may know this imperfectly, nevertheless there appears to be a certainty in the universe that once its laws are understood, they are consistent and applicable. As to whether or not the universe knows its own laws, once must assume that it does, or the subsequent applications of such laws in our scientific understandings would fail us. The fact they do not fail means the consistency is there, and one can then open the book of the universe with knowledge and understanding, when it is met on its own terms of reality.

But there is still one more layer here, an ontological understanding of the universe 'knowing' itself on its own terms, whereby all that exists, of necessity, is exactly as it should be, and where it should be, because of the universe's construct that is consistent and reasonable; so that given enough knowledge, we too can participate in this universal application of its 'knowing' itself. Can we know with absolute certainty, in converse to the 'uncertainty principle', where everything is to be exactly? No, we cannot. But the universe can, because it is a manifestation of its own 'understanding' of itself physically from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the largest cosmic assembly of galaxies, in that they are all intimately interrelated down to the smallest detail, even if our minds cannot grasp it in the whole. The fact that this is true is then understanding in principle, that the universe is a totally and infinitely assembled whole that defines itself in terms of itself. So Maimonides was only partly right, that the human intellect cannot know where everything is to be placed, but we can through our understanding of reality at least know, in principle, that the positioning of all reality is exactly where it should be, in universal terms.

So all of our understandings, our mathematics and laws of physics, both energy physics and mechanics, that it all fits into a total comprehensible whole. It is also this aspect of our Christian based culture that so markedly divides us from the Islamic culture, that we believe the universe is both understandable, and in principle self understanding, that makes it all work to where we can then tap into that knowledge for our human benefit. In the Islamic world, because their god Allah can also be a contrary god where what is known and knowable might change, perhaps in some fickle moment of God's mind, that they had not developed a scientific philosophy that is proven through observations and understanding of how works the universe. In effect, at some point in Islamic history, the search for truth was suspended in favor of their 'revealed' Mohammedan scriptures as superseding reality with their holy scriptures, thus closing the book on further understanding, which immutably left them permanently behind in scientific and technological achievements. For that achievement in our Christian based culture, we must thank the great minds of the past who had the courage and vision to look into reality, and understand it. Therein lies a major difference between a progressive world based on our Christian values, and the one left behind based on Islamic values. Somewhere in the past, perhaps in Europe's middle ages, Islam was left behind, and we took off intellectually. But we are still missing something, something very important, and that is why Maimonides's words are so valuable here.

When we come to an understanding that the human intellect cannot know with certainty where any one thing is to be placed in the universe, we are not acknowledging that the place is already predetermined, not by our minds, not by holy scriptures, and not arbitrarily by God, but by the universe's internal structure of how it is, in reality. This is a major step forward, because in effect it allows for the universe to be its own guide to what is to be its reality, now and into the future, based upon how it had been in the past and is now. Think how powerful a concept this actually is: the human mind is a product of this universal certainty in terms of itself, yet it is still allowed the freedom, and 'uncertainty', as to how it is to perceive and then respond to its perceptions in how any one thing is in the universe. This is an amazing thought, because what it says, in effect, is that there is no certainty to how we will perceive it, perhaps even perceive it erroneously, but the universe will continue on with its path of actions and reactions, or cause and effect, as if we had not perceived it. Or, to put it another way, we are given a free will so that even at the sub-atomic levels of our brain's neurons trying to understand reality, and make choices or take actions, we are allowed enough play to err, and yet the universe will continue as it had before. We are not the authors of the universe, but merely participants, so that we are 'invited' to its reality, to work with it, but we are not to change reality in any way that stops it from being itself; the universe is still itself no matter what we do in it. But here is the big lesson: if you get it right, it works with you; but if wrong, it will correct you. And this is the magical charm we who are of the Christian based values society enjoy, that we learn from our free will and its mistakes, while those who are not part of it must suffer from never learning from their mistakes. Why, because they were never free to test and try the truth. Only as free agents within the universe, within God, are we privileged enough to learn from reality. If not free to do so, we learn nothing.

Now, back to Spencer's point: "When modern science was in its infancy, openness to such exploration was common only in Christian Europe, and was conspicuously lacking from the Islamic world." There is the difference between our two cultures. We can not only learn from understanding, and often through trial and error, how works the universe, even to the point of understanding in principle that the universe works perfectly within itself, while the Islamic world is shut out, by Mohammed's insistence that his is the final 'seal' of the prophets, from any such understanding if it is not in his Quranic teachings. What an incredible difference this can make in the world! Look at the Islamic countries, and compare them to the West's achievements, and the answer is self evident. They got left irreversibly behind us. To this fact we must thank our predecessors in the formulation of our Judeo-Christian values, that the universe, and God, are based upon understandable to human intellect principles of reality, and being. Or, more to the point, that we had been given the freedom to understand it, and seek the truth. Each one of us individually is given that freedom, in our Christian values, whereas in the Islamic world that freedom does not exist, because the individual as a free agent in the universe does not exist. There is our power of freedom.

Can Islam ever revert back to such an understanding of God, and the universe, as to become more progressive in its human condition? Yes, but only if it takes Mohammed's teachings in context of the times in which they were given, and give the freedom to its human beings to seek and challenge the truth. This alone could change everything, but it must be chosen by them of their own free will. That is the condition of how is our universe constructed, with absolute certainty.


Ivan
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Naive
Posted on Saturday, December 29, 2007 - 06:24 am:   

In reality Ivan, it was more than just the departure from religious based logic and dogma that allowed mankind to make the leap to the free ways of thinking you are referring to. For example, after Europe suffered through the Black Death, many people were disillusioned with the powerlessness they felt in reliance on some supreme entity (and its earthly representative governing body) to relieve their suffering. Following this tragedy, the Church lost its tyrannical grip on the thought process of its participants. Recall Martin Luther's efforts to convince the Roman Church of its own "misinterpretation" of their perceived role in the salvation of the soul. Luther suffered greatly to keep the ball rolling against the stranglehold on thought the church perpetuated.

Indeed, if Christianity has been a catalyst for free thought and freedom of expression, it has only been so due to the oligarchic nature of its administration and the desire created in those who fell under its yoke to escape from under it. It is easy for us to compare the current state of Islam to medieval Christianity, for indeed the subjugation and consequences of nonconformity seem to be similar. Just because Christianity has had longer to suffer the blows of its own organized administration (and become better for it) does not mean Islam cannot reach the same ends. On the other hand, I fail to see the freedom in any religion which professes salvation can only be reached by rigid belief in unexplainable concepts.

Upon further reflection, the freedom of ideology and freedom to pursue the ends of our intellectual curiosity have been human instinctual desires from the start. It is the social convention of any past civilization which has either hindered those pursuits or let them flourish. For example, it staggers my imagination that so many billions of so called free-thinking people have come to such similar religious conclusions around the world. If these humans were truly original in their thought processes while determining their universal viewpoints, could they all have arrived at such similar conclusions about the nature of God and the universe? This is the power of social convention hard at work: millions of Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. all belong to some historically accepted, group way of thinking. Don't they recognize the very men they emulate, broke with tradition to bring forward a new way of thinking?

I can agree on the point that our ability to perceive the universe, is a product of the universe. Educated minds are free minds, and that has nothing to do with Christian values. True the words of Christ represent divine truths that all humans should heed . . . but the structure of today's freedom has been built upon the entire foundation of human history and social interaction (of which Christianity and its values are but one chapter).

As a side note, I would like to add that human beings (and all living creatures) are greatly shaped by forces associated with their environment. Ironically, we are the only creatures which can actively perceive, shape, and interact within the atmosphere that influences us. The hopeless feeling that we currently have, in regards to the paradox in ideology and action of our human counterparts around the Islamic world, will one day be viewed as part of the ongoing evolution of the creature called man. This is our chapter in that story, and I have no doubt that the propensity of consciousness to seek out its preferred freedom will wholely outweigh social and historical conformity.

Tear down the high walls of wretchedness that we have built and enclosed upon ourselves, in the protection, perception, and perpetuation of our very fragile souls.


Naive
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Ivan
Posted on Saturday, December 29, 2007 - 01:38 pm:   

Free minds see more, original thinking.

Thanks Naive, for your comments, full of insights as always. In yours:


quote:

For example, it staggers my imagination that so many billions of so called free-thinking people have come to such similar religious conclusions around the world. If these humans were truly original in their thought processes while determining their universal viewpoints, could they all have arrived at such similar conclusions about the nature of God and the universe? This is the power of social convention hard at work: millions of Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. all belong to some historically accepted, group way of thinking. Don't they recognize the very men they emulate, broke with tradition to bring forward a new way of thinking?



It also staggers my imagination that people in the end, from one end of the Earth to the other, have similar patterns of beliefs. Often, these beliefs are poorly reasoned out, borderline magical and superstitious, without a great deal of original thinking involved. Probably the truly original thinkers are often laughed at, or persecuted for their being different from the rest... until they become followed as great gurus! :-) I think this probably explains the 'sameness' humanity experienced in its past beliefs.

Now, enter a new era where novel ideas are not shunned but encouraged as a matter of principle, e.g., our modern scientific traditions. So now the sameness of ideas takes back seat, while novelty of ideas gets pushed ahead. Is this not a marked difference from all the other cultures of the world, including those of animists, hindus, buddhists, muslims, marxists, etc? I think this is where the christianized lands, once they broke away from the repression of 'everybody believe the same thing or go to hell', then new ideas generated by free minds began to take hold over old ideas of sameness and group think. In my above, not to laud Christianity as being superior in principle to all other religious beliefs; though I do think the maxim to 'love one another' is a pretty good one; rather it was to point out that it was in the christianized world, mainly Europe, that this novel development of free thinking began to take hold. It is still an issue today, as to whether we are all to think alike in some Marxist utopian dream, or believe alike in some Muslim utopian dream, or are we to be so different from each other, in some Generation-X dream, that we all end up all being the same? Individualism is still a fairly new idea that has not yet taken hold world wide, and in fact for many cultures it is anathema. We of the West court individualism grudgingly, but without the understandings of how much responsibility is demanded of individualists; especially the responsibility to be tolerant of others, while at the same time preventing others from destroying that right of tolerance; we are still struggling to both understand and implement these rights of freedom universally. This is especially difficult because not all humans of the planet, in their universal group think, believe that such freedoms are desirable. So in retrospect, at least historically, it was more likely for this freedom to develop where it did, where we broke with religious convention, which happened to be in the Christian world, and not in any other.

The evolutionary process of this search for consciousness in freedom, as you pointed out, is but one chapter in the greater search of humanity, to break away from rigid conformity and find that creative freedom of thought still illusive for so many. Indeed, at this point as we start to drift away from religiosity of any kind, including that Christianity that demands strict obedience for salvation; and move more towards a freedom thinking ideology, where each human being is both free by right, but also responsible for that right of freedom in others; we are making small headway towards a universal planetwide freedom. It's not easy, and little understood, still largely missing from much of the world; but this will be the next step, I actually believe this. We are but one more chapter in our human mind's evolution, certainly not a dull one to be sure!

That said, I don't see any reason why people can't have their religions. It gives them something to think about, keeps them busy, either in or out of trouble, and is probably part of their evolutionary process, that one must believe in 'something' along the way. I believe in something, same as every living thinking being believes in something, so why not it being a religious something for some? The trouble rises from when those who believe in their religion feel compelled to make sure everybody else in the world believes the same, in a kind of subterfuge 'jihad' against all the souls of the planet for planetwide conformity of thought, or you get punished or killed. That is not allowed. Largely, this kind of regressive religious repression is now largely absent from the christianized-european world, or even buddhist-asian world, but it is still a major threat and problem in the muslimized-ummah world, which constitutes the greatest threat to our freedoms of thought today. It is self evident when the two worlds of freedom and non-freedom are put side by side; it is almost as if two separate worlds separated by centuries of development. The free world is where these ideas can be discussed, whereas in the non-free world they are forbidden. Therein lies the main difference.

Ivan
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Ivan/2
Posted on Saturday, December 29, 2007 - 11:27 pm:   

Addendum - to universe's acknowledgment of human achievements.

300px-Michelangelo's_Pieta_5450_cropncleaned.jpg
La Pieta, by Michelangelo, St. Peter's Basilica

I wrote in the above:

quote:

Think how powerful a concept this actually is: the human mind is a product of this universal certainty in terms of itself, yet it is still allowed the freedom, and 'uncertainty', as to how it is to perceive and then respond to its perceptions in how any one thing is in the universe. This is an amazing thought, because what it says, in effect, is that there is no certainty to how we will perceive it, perhaps even perceive it erroneously, but the universe will continue on with its path of actions and reactions, or cause and effect, as if we had not perceived it. Or, to put it another way, we are given a free will so that even at the sub-atomic levels of our brain's neurons trying to understand reality, and make choices or take actions, we are allowed enough play to err, and yet the universe will continue as it had before. We are not the authors of the universe, but merely participants, so that we are 'invited' to its reality, to work with it, but we are not to change reality in any way that stops it from being itself; the universe is still itself no matter what we do in it. But here is the big lesson: if you get it right, it works with you; but if wrong, it will correct you.



There is one more thought here that I think needs to be covered, and that is that when the universe 'accepts' our understanding as correct, that it then works with us in how the results bear out this understanding, so things work. However, this does not take into consideration human creativity, whereby by 'creating' something new the universe did not have in its own structure, we are actually 'adding something' to the universal reality. It does not mean that we had in fact 'improved' on how works the universe, but merely that we have added something of its construction that had not existed of its own right. We humans can then create and add to reality, within the parameters given to us by universal reality, in ways that had not existed before we had put our minds and actions into the new creations. This would include all works of art, all literature, music, architecture, etc.; all human creations and agreements that enhance rather than take away from our social reality, such as our beliefs that make the world a better place for our human existence and enjoyment in this life. How we are, in our minds and then in our actions, can 'add value' to the universe, but only if it at the same time adds value to the authors of such value, that it makes our lives better and more enjoyable. The converse of this is those minds that destroy rather than create, for they take away from our human betterment. Blow up a beautiful work of art, and you are now detracting from the universe. Think of the implications of this, and remember which societies build up and make more beautiful, as opposed to those societies that destroy and make their existence mean and sorrowful. Who creates? Who destroys? Which is acknolwedged more in universal reality, the creators or destroyers? Which reflects our 'values'?

The answer is easy: look at their respective worlds. Which do we choose?

Ivan
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Naive
Posted on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 08:00 pm:   

I agree with the above.

That is why I believe the words of Christ are divine . . . because they speak to what we know is right for our existence. That is what I believe he meant when he said only through me . . . will you reach the kingdom of heaven. I believe he did not mean through belief, but through action. I wonder why people would even assume God would care about belief in God as a requisite for admission into a preferred afterlife at all?

Action vs. Belief - there is a topic for a new thread. I'm sure we'll run into the debate as to what is right action, or right belief. I wonder.


Naive
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Ivan
Posted on Thursday, January 03, 2008 - 08:49 pm:   

Thanks Naive, I opened a new discussion here: Action vs. Belief - and tapes that drives us

Let's see what our minds may uncover about ourselves, even things unbeknownst to us. :-)

Ivan
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Ivan/slavery & gay rights
Posted on Tuesday, February 05, 2008 - 10:21 pm:   

Slavery, gay rights, and Western cultural 'multiculturalism' superiority complex.

300px-AfricanSlavesTransport.jpg (interactive)
African slavery

It is curious to see the ambivalence and relativism Western ideology has towards clear violations of human rights in the Eastern world as it applies to slavery, though condemned, and also to a large degree executions of gays and violations of women's rights. It is almost as if we are watching a 'nature documentary' where the expected lion kill of a gazelle is devoured before our camera without any real feelings of remorse or condemnation of the act. It is what lions do to gazelles, or crocs to zebras, or fox to hare, that we are not shocked by it. But the multulturalism's detachments of these events in our own Western culture spins exactly around to where such violations of human rights, of slavery and execution of gays, or female repressions and dishonor killings, are immediately condemned in the West. Is this not curious that in our relativism of applications of our cultural norms to a Western society as opposed to an Eastern society, we have a kind of 'superiority complex' which allows a certain aloofness towards them, and their violations of human rights, but not towards us. In effect, we find ourselves feeling 'superior' to the Muslim world's failings, in a kind of double standard for their world and ours. "That's how they are" we think in our minds, that they are no better and cannot be expected to be better.. as if that is what primitive societies do. But is this not curious?

In his treatment of "Slavery, Christianity, and Islam" in First Things, Robert Spencer shows a clear delineation between Judeo-Christian values as it applies to slavery and those of Islam. After all, who was it who ended slavery, universally? Not Islam. Here are some examples:

quote:

This is the concern of my book Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t—which I wrote in order to counter these tendencies and answer the Islamic cultural critique. For in fact, taken at face value, the Bible condones slavery. The Apostle Paul says flatly: “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ” (Eph. 6:5). He wasn’t saying anything remotely controversial (and of course has been criticized for apparently accepting the cultural status quo instead of challenging it). No culture on earth, Christian or otherwise, ever questioned the morality of slavery until relatively recent times.

But in the popular mind the onus for slavery is squarely on the West. When Britain commemorated the two hundredth anniversary of its abolition of the slave trade in March 2007, Prime Minister Tony Blair called it “an opportunity for the United Kingdom to express our deep sorrow and regret for our nation’s role in the slave trade and for the unbearable suffering, individually and collectively, it caused.” Britain’s role in the slave trade? Some Americans might be surprised to learn that the British, or anyone besides American southerners, ever owned slaves, since after coming through American schools as they stand today many people no doubt have the impression that slavery was invented in Charleston and Mobile. “The American education system,” observes Mark Steyn, “teaches it as such—as a kind of wicked perversion the Atlantic settlers had conjured out of their own ambition.”

However, as Steyn details, it was a cross-cultural fact of life for centuries: “In reality, it was more like the common cold—a fact of life. The institution predates the word’s etymology, from the Slavs brought from eastern Europe to the glittering metropolis of Rome. It predates by some millennia the earliest laws, such as the Code of Hammurabi in Mesopotamia. The first legally recognized slave in the American colonies was owned by a black man who had himself arrived as an indentured servant. The first slave owners on the North American continent were hunter-gatherers. As Eric Metaxas puts it, ‘Slavery was as accepted as birth and marriage and death, was so woven into the tapestry of human history that you could barely see its threads, much less pull them out. Everywhere on the globe, for 5,000 years, the idea of human civilization without slavery was unimaginable.’”


So if slavery was commonly acceptable in antiquity world wide, why was it abolished in the West, and only by force in the East? In part, it is our Judeo-Christian values that expressly define each human being, each soul, as being of worth and value intrinsically, that we have an inalienable right to be ourselves, the who we are, with dignity and respect before God. In the East this was never quite developed, in the same way that slavery was never quite abolished. Here is what Spencer says:

quote:

In the Islamic world, however, the situation is very different. The Muslim prophet Muhammad owned slaves, and like the Bible, the Qur’an takes the existence of slavery for granted, even as it enjoins the freeing of slaves under certain circumstances, such as the breaking of an oath: “Allah will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation, feed ten indigent persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom” (5:89). Jihad theorist Sayyid Qutb adduces this as evidence that in Islam “there is no difference between a prince and a pauper, a seigneur and a slave.” Nevertheless, while the freeing of a slave or two here and there is encouraged, the institution itself is never questioned. The Qur’an even gives a man permission to have sexual relations with his slave girls as well as with his wives: “The believers must (eventually) win through, those who humble themselves in their prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are active in deeds of charity; who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, for (in their case) they are free from blame” (23:1-6). A Muslim is not to have sexual relations with a woman who is married to someone else—except a slave girl: “And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you” (4:24).

Why should such passages be any more troubling to anyone than passages in the Bible such as Exodus 21:7–11, which gives regulations for selling one’s daughter as a slave? Because in Islam there is no equivalent of the Golden Rule, as articulated by Jesus: “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12). The closest Islamic tradition comes to this is one hadith in which Muhammad says, “None of you will have faith till he likes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself.” The parenthetical “Muslim” in that sentence was added by the Saudi translator, and does not appear in the original Arabic; however, “brother” is generally not used in Islamic tradition to refer to anyone but fellow Muslims. Also mitigating against a universal interpretation of this maxim is the sharp distinction between believers and unbelievers that runs through all of Islam. The Qur’an says that the followers of Muhammad are “ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another” (48:29), and that the unbelievers are the “worst of created beings” (98:6). One may exercise the Golden Rule in relation to a fellow Muslim, but according to the worldview presented by such verses and others like them, the same courtesy is not properly to be extended to unbelievers.


So who freed the slaves? And yet it seems that we of the West are not so troubled by slavery in Africa, by Sudanese Arabs of black Africans or Darfur, and not too concerned of slavery Islamic Saudi and Yemeni lands. Somehow, that is 'multiculturally' okay. And how concerned are we with execution by hanging of gays in Iran, or stoning of adulterors in any Islamic land? Not too much. We tend to be smug in our relativism of conditions in those 'poor' countries of the 'third world' so not moved all that much by what happens there, as long as it does not happen here, of course. But this double-standard is universally unrealistic, because their troubles and social problems in the end will show up here, especially with mass migrations from islamic lands.


We don't do slavery anymore, and nor do we stone or kill people for their sexual orientation or moral behaviors. That is for each person to ascertain for themselves as to what and how they wish to live their lives. That is what freedom from slavery brings. We are free of slavery, and if there is a group of humanity that believes 'slavery' to their god is okay, that is their problem; but we cannot stand idle while they persecute innocent human beings, whether gays or women, or heretics and apostates, in violent barbaric ways that would shock us if it were happening here. Islamic lands are not some nature study documentary where we expect the lion to kill the gazelle. They are human beings, and they all deserve the same rights and respect as do all human beings of the planet, universally. We cannot rise above their despair and suffering through our elitist 'multiculturalism-relativism' but must condemn those acts of barbarity when it is called for, universally. This is called for in no less than our Judeo-Christian values, that each individual, each soul, is valuable and of great worth and dignity before God.


Ivan
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Deliverance
Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2008 - 11:04 am:   

There is no Devil

180px-Michael_Pacher_004.jpg

"There is no devil, there is only what we do to ourselves and each other." Evil is in us, and only we through the purity of our soul can cast him out.

Easter Sunday, 2008
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Ivan/the Great War
Posted on Saturday, May 10, 2008 - 08:56 pm:   

Good and Evil, the next 'Great War' for Freedom.


180px-Declaration_of_Human_Rights.jpg (interactive)
The Declaration of the Rights of Man


If Iran's 'Great Game' is the End of Days, a mass self induced delusional prophecy of doom, then this is aligning as the 'Great War' between good and evil.

I wrote long ago in Habeas Mentem, Ch. 16, Book I - Epilogue:

quote:

The social order is a creation of the mind. It is formed in our image; its mega-structure is a product of our collective mind. But as all such mega-structures of the mind, it has the power to destroy its creator. The ultimate power in the universe is that power that is its own self destruction, chaos. All things can always return to chaos. Destruction is always easier than order; it never structures itself but rather triumphs in its lack of structure. It is the mind that lends order to where there is disorder, first by finding order, by defining it, and then by reordering it according to its definition. There is no freedom in disorder, for there is no agreement with it. It is impossible to come to agreement where total disagreement always prevails. It is the mind that finds the power to harness these and to form agreements. There is no social order where there is disagreement, only social chaos. Chaos is the ultimate primeval ruler of the universe and it had reigned supreme until came mind. Thus the mind subdued it, and spanned it infinitely into a universal order. Within this order, it created itself with all the systems that can be compatible with the mind's Creator. But in the mind is also the power of chaos. Disorder is as possible as is order and we are always poised for our own self destruction. This self destruction starts with a social order which turns in on itself and then culminates in self mutilation. When the social order is a closed system, the universal mind is negated, and chaos is on the ascendant. Then, society ceases to be the creation of the mind and becomes rather the destruction that exists without mind. Without society, we simply return to the primitive level of self survival in a world of coercion where the successful assert themselves through combat: War.


Where there is no freedom the mind is closed off from its greater universal reality, and chaos rules with coercions. Then only never ending wars.

quote:

To be one with the universe is to have the universe become one with the mind. When consciously human, there is knowledge of what act is possible with the amplification of the interrelationship of that act in terms of everything else, and what the mind does then the universe does with it. It is like a power of magic, a mythic mega-force, though it is real. It can happen now, if we choose, but still only on a social scale; then, we could have it happen on a personal scale; but first we must learn to be in the mind. Where the social order can be made to reflect the order of the universe, by being in the mind as a social contract, as a right, when fully in the mind, fully human, each person's reality can become in the image of its personal universal order as it is ordered in the universe. The mind that can now be moved by the universe, and still be but semi-conscious of it, can then become moved in a manner that is fully conscious and move the universe in return.


When we coerce rather than do through agreement, we negate our universe from our existence, and chaos rules. But to be free we must be conscious as human beings, or agreements become deceitful, are false, and they fail. Our freedoms, made valid through mind consciousness and truthful agreements, are our spiritual strength.

I had written in the preceding chapter of Habeas Mentem, Ch. 15, Society Conscious of Itself:

quote:

Nor is the conscious mind conquered; it does not submit. The social guardians are those who are forever vigilant of the safety of their world and conscious of the forces of their society. They tolerate the presence of all other societies, but they do not tolerate another's aggression. Aggression is an unconscious act, and it is the responsibility of the social guardians to guard against the trespasses of the still unconscious mind. A mind confident in its knowledge, and aware in its reality, is not afraid of aggression. It finds it loathsome, revolting, and acts directly to repel it. It repels it swiftly, efficiently, almost clinically with the least shedding of blood. War is not to be a tool of diplomacy, rather it is a cruel failure of understanding, a failure of diplomacy. It must be entered into only if no other avenue is left open. Once entered upon, it must be fought with total determination and conviction and the full power of the free mind. It is not to be entered into casually or thoughtlessly; but, once engaged into it must be executed swiftly and efficiently. The unconscious mind is not heroic and generally will not attack where there is strength; however, if it should attack, then it must be repelled. The constant vigil of the conscious mind against those circumstances that could result in attack are a severe responsibility towards the well being and survival of its society, and steps should be taken far in anticipation of conflict to avoid war. But, if these fail, battle must ensue. Whether the war is then fought through vast military mobilization or through covert activities, it must never be fought halfheartedly but always fought to win.


War is because we as human beings are not yet fully conscious, so seek to control others through coercions. Material and spiritual strength is freedom's hallmark, and our winning card.

quote:

The aggressor will not seek to trespass into where there is material and spiritual strength, and these are the conscious mind's first defense. But if society is attacked, anguish and bitterness must be held back and, as a last resort against the unconscious mind, the aggressor must be destroyed.


The 'End of Days' will be when Freedom wins a final victory over enslaving coercions, over the darkness of those unconscious minds who would force others against their agreement. This means they force against our freedoms of belief, of speech, of being, and of seeking to do through agreement rather than coercions. This is what defines Freedom, and the unconscious mind does not understand. That final battle will determine whether humanity is headed for full consciousness, or fall back into another long dormant period of darkness. I also wrote in Ch. 15:

quote:

It is that simple. The society of Habeas Mentem can be reduced at its simplest to an equation: When we do only through agreement, when we obey the Law of Agreement, we are most free. When free, as we do, so we succeed in society only with what is possible and fail with what is impossible. What is possible is the action the universe materializes in our reality and what is impossible is what it rejects. Thus, how we do successfully when most free is how the universe materializes our social reality in terms of itself. It is how works the universal order within our Earthly reality in that free society. What develops from this society is then the entry through which we progress into our next level of human development and through which we enter into the universal community of conscious man. When that equation is made possible by society's guardians, society becomes as it really is itself.
...
Thus, as conscious minds, we do not seek to conquer, nor to convert, nor to lie and corrupt. We do not seek to change the world. When it is ready, the world will change of itself. What we seek is that we not be trespassed against, that we have the right to be in our mind. To the conscious mind, to be trespassed against is intolerable; unfree, it cannot be itself. Itself, it succeeds in materializing a world whose success we have hitherto but had fleeting glimpses of during exceptionally creative periods of our history. We tend to judge past events of history by a chronology of conflicts and wars. In fact, we had progressed in spite of these and their drag on our human development.


It is that simple. We submit in all humility to this freedom of Truth, and may God be our judge.

This is a confirmation of our Christian values that had shaped our Freedoms.

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Religious Freedom in America

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In sum, there are ten Christian Principles foundational to our modern secular society. They are:

1. Universality of purpose inclusive of all humanity: Equality.

2. Rule of law applies equally to all.

3. Forgiveness, that we right the wrongs, protect the weak, and forgive them.

4. That we seek the truth, the whole truth, in all our responsibilities in reality.

5. Humility with compassion is what sets us above the arrogant.

6. Slavery is explicitly forbidden, all human beings are inherently free.

7. Justice and tolerance are the hallmarks of a free people.

8. Help the needy, the weak, those less fortunate than ourselves, victims of disaster.

9. We cherish and preserve the past, the best shining examples of human achievements in the arts and beauty.

10. That we love one another, as God loves us, and All Life.

These are the values worth fighting for, to end oppression and bring a new reality into the world.
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Ivan
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Christus
Posted on Wednesday, June 04, 2008 - 11:23 pm:   

Jesus Christ had one True Word from God: "Love one another."

All else is religiousity unworthy of true belief. Believe in His one True Word and the world will come right.

Be true, and the Truth will find its own power in us. That, and only That, is our Christian Heritage for all time to come. Nothing can stand in its path of Truth. Love is the Word, the aethereal perfect harmonic note of God.

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Christus of Ravena, Italy, 6th century

Also see: 'Adam's sin' as basis for Christianity?

Is Original Sin a prerequisite for 'being saved'?

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