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The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Posted by marshallz10 z9-10 CA (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 12:15

I find the follow blog post so affirming of the spiritual depth of most of our society, going far to explain our tendency to express self-righteousness, even those that are agnostics or atheists.

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Mar 30 2014 The Dish blog

David P. Goldman praises Jody Bottum�s new book, An Anxious Age, for revealing it, noting that "the inner life of secular Americans remains dense with spiritual experience":

America�s consensus culture, Bottum argues, is the unmistakable descendant of the old Protestant Mainline, in particular the "Social Gospel" promulgated by Walter Rauschenbusch before the First World War and adopted by the liberal majority in the Mainline denominations during the 1920s. Although this assertion seems unremarkable at first glance, the method that Bottum brings to bear is entirely original. A deeply religious thinker, he understands spiritual life from the inside. He is less concerned with the outward forms and specific dogmas of religion than with its inner experience, and this approach leads him down paths often inaccessible to secular inquiry.

Michael Brendan Dougherty explains the connection:

Over a century ago Rauschenbusch wrote, "If a man has drawn any religious feeling from Christ, his participation in the systematized oppression of civilization will, at least at times, seem an intolerable burden and guilt." Bottum deftly notes that in theological terms this signals "a nearly complete transfer of Christian fear and Christian assurance into a sensibility of the need for reform, a mysticism of the social order � the anxiety about salvation resolved by ecstatic transport into the feeling of social solidarity."

Can we not hear in the progressive�s soul-searching examination of his own "privilege," as well as his unconscious participation in structural injustice, an echo of Rauschenbusch�s words?

Whereas Catholics make an examination of conscience before confession, and confess their personal sins before promising to amend their life, today�s progressives examine their place in the social structure of oppression, and then vow to reform society. That is what it means to have a "social gospel without the gospel" � to be motivated by religious impulses, but believe it is entirely secular.

In an interview on the book�s Amazon page, Bottum describes the work�s origins:

In some ways, An Anxious Age really began when I was sent out to report on the protestors at Occupy Wall Street�and couldn�t finish the assignment. I could feel a spiritual anxiety about modern civilization radiating from nearly all of them, but I could find no easy way to explain it.

Now, two years later, this book is my answer: Not just those protestors, but nearly everyone today is driven by supernatural concerns, however much or little they realize it. Radicals and traditionalists, liberals and conservatives�together with politicians, artists, environmentalists, followers of food fads, and the chattering classes of television commentators: America is filled with people frantically seeking confirmation of their own essential goodness. We are a nation of individuals desperate to stand on the side of morality�anxious to know that we are righteous and dwell in the light. The trouble, of course, is that we�ve lost any shared cultural notion of what exactly that goodness might entail.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

"...so affirming of the spiritual depth of most of our society, going far to explain our tendency to express self-righteousness, even those that are agnostics or atheists."

OMG, Marshall. ;-D

I'm very interested in this work, probably because it's self-serving in that it supports my own conclusions. This guy, however, can actually express it plainly and at least at a glance, emphathetically. I can't see how his conclusions would offend most, at least here with this crowd ;-).

Thanks for the link.


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Interesting article, Marshall. Made me reflect. A friend of ours in France, who is French, told me that the people in France would never react to a tragedy such as devastation caused by a hurricane, etc. (we were talking about Sandy). She said that they wouldn't come from all over the country to help those affected. I was really surprised to hear that and this article has made me wonder if it might be due to France having a culture of secularism. But, what about the Japanese after Fukushima? They have no history of Christianity but people there helped those who were devastated and even older people volunteered to go in the reactors to help clean them up to save younger generations. So, maybe it's a cultural thing to help others, not based on long-ago ingrained religious beliefs.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

  • Posted by rosie Southeast 7A/B (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 13:44

Compared to America, France's institutions are liberal and progressive, which means that people are accustomed to organizing through their government to provide relief. You can bet that that Frenchman didn't mean the people, religious or secular, would do nothing to help each other, but rather that they would not hop in their cars and church vans and head out in individual unorganized efforts.

The Japanese are not overtly religious in daily behavior but have a long culture of religious beliefs woven into their culture that undoubtedly were very much in play.


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From the link in the OP:

In some ways, An Anxious Age really began when I was sent out to report on the protestors at Occupy Wall Street"and couldn’t finish the assignment. I could feel a spiritual anxiety about modern civilization radiating from nearly all of them, but I could find no easy way to explain it.

It does not require explanation in any religious context. The notion that we are all somehow guided by supernatural forces (according to the author) like it or not, is the religious impulse of the author.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

  • Posted by rosie Southeast 7A/B (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 13:55

I'm agree with Heri cles.

"Can we not hear in the progressive's soul-searching examination of his own "privilege," as well as his unconscious participation in structural injustice, an echo of Rauschenbusch's words?"

It seems very likely that progressive desires to help others and achieve structural justice preceded Christianity by thousands of years, and thus it would be Christianity (and other religions) that echoed these basic human desires.


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Another example of confusing spiritual sense with religious sense.


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Religion is only one expression of spirituality.


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exactly


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

  • Posted by momj47 7A..was 6B (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 14:25

How naive.

Actually it seems to be part of human nature.

Religion is only one expression of spirituality.

And not a good one, in this day and age.

It seems very likely that progressive desires to help others and achieve structural justice preceded Christianity by thousands of years

I agree. People like this, who have a narrow view of civilizations seem to have no sense that anything existed BC or BCE. The Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Sumerians, the Mayans, the Chinese, the Indus civilizations, it goes on and on. And each of these, as they grew, probably had programs in place to take care of their poor and vulnerable citizens.

It has nothing to do with Christianity, but since early governments were so closely tied to early religion, this "progressivism" has religious underpinnings.


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I don’t know what kind of spiritual life President Obama lives nor do I know if the attached article from last week’s NYTimes is relevant, but reading Marshall’s post thrust this piece into my mind. When I saw it I was surprised to know that he had Catholic alliances.

I struggled for a long time before I realized that god is a fiction because I have always had a strong spiritual sense of self and an overriding belief that the universe is a giant spider web in which we are all entangled.. That makes me think that spirituality and a longing for community is a basic human drive and not a religious one--though I also don’t find it a problem if others link the two.

Here is a link that might be useful: a part of the conversation


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Thanks, pidge, for the interesting article about Obama's formative associations with the RC church in Chicago.


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"It seems very likely that progressive desires to help others and achieve structural justice preceded Christianity by thousands of years..." Thousands of years? Back in 3000 BC? Where is this documented? The oldest writing samples are Sumerian and Egyptian and what they primarily describe are trade (lists of items) and war (mentions of victories). We do have some idea of cultural traits from Egyptian and mesoamerican symbols, but not, that far back, very much. The oldest Sumerian tablet (5,000 yrs) remains untranslatable. By the time we have a sort-of clear picture of what life was like in ancient times - via clay tablets and frescoes, religion has already appeared.

"People like this, who have a narrow view of civilizations seem to have no sense that anything existed BC or BCE. The Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Sumerians, the Mayans (actually the Mesoamericans), the Chinese, the Indus civilizations, it goes on and on. And each of these, as they grew, probably had in place to take care of their poor and vulnerable citizens." Again, where is the documentation? Have you read about the Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, et al? Studied history, anthropology, archaeology? I would like references to compassion of anything beyond an occasional impulse.

In ancient times, EVERYONE was poor and vulnerable. As tribes and then "nations" developed they were controlled by a ruler who had power of life and death over every person. The gold went into his pockets, with a slight trickle-down to his family and one or two cronies. Compassion was in very short supply. If the "poor and vulnerable" were kept alive with a few handouts of grain and rice, it was because they were needed: in the fields, in the army, and most of all, as slaves. Slavery was endemic. Everyone practiced it without question.

Study Rome, a civilization I enjoy learning about and in many respects admire for its ingenius technology, organization, and system of government. Unless you were a male citizen of Rome, the city-state, you were without recourse. The Roman male head of household had the power of life and death over everyone in his house, from wife and children to his slaves. He could kill his wife and children (and obviously, slaves) with no repercussions. Then he could go and acquire new ones. The Roman army, an unstoppable juggernaut, made war in ways so horrible that we can hardly describe them, wars that were primarily for plunder and slaves. And the Romans, compared to nearly everyone else, were the good guys.

"It has nothing to do with Christianity." On the contrary. It has everything to do with Christianity. At the heart of Christianity is the message of love and compassion. Christianity spread like wildfire in the ancient world because of its appeal to the poor, the vulnerable, the slaves; almost everyone belonged to those groups. From Matthew: "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you...pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." This was new. This was revolutionary.

I do believe that spirituality preceded organized religion; I define it as asking the eternal questions - Who am I? Where did I come from and why am I here? This dilemma was addressed around 100 B.C. by the Jewish sage Hillel: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am (only) for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"


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Sable, I recall when I was a teenager I asked myself "Who am I? Where did I come from and why am I here?” A the time I thought I was an individual. By now I know that my questions are everyone’s questions.
Thanks for phrasing the issue so well.


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  • Posted by momj47 7A..was 6B (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 19:22

It has nothing to do with Christianity." On the contrary. It has everything to do with Christianity. At the heart of Christianity is the message of love and compassion. Christianity spread like wildfire in the ancient world because of its appeal to the poor, the vulnerable, the slaves; almost everyone belonged to those groups. From Matthew: "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you...pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." This was new. This was revolutionary.

So no other religions take care of their poor and vulnerable?

You've bought in to what they teach in Sunday School, that Christianity was such a novel religion because............. and that it spread like wildfire because............ We don't know that any of this is true.

Sad to say, the poor, the vulnerable, the slaves, will follow anyone who promises them a better life, and that has never been hard to promise. Throughout history, and still today, life is brutal, short and grim for most people, except the very rich. And we, in North America and Western Europe, no matter our income, are very rich, compared to people in the rest of the world.

Christianity was probably no different from any of the other cults back then, making pie-in-the-sky promises to attract people; the big difference, probably, was good PR, and a martyr for the cause, with supposed magical powers. No one has ever reported back from heaven.

One thing Jesus did know is the effect money, especially a great deal of money, has on man.


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Thank you Marshall, for a starting a thread with so much for me to ponder. At this point, there is not much (or anything) useful I can add to the discussion but I do look forward to reading more. Sable, if I recall, these are things you have studied extensively professionally, so thank you for what you are able to add.


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"You've bought in to what they teach in Sunday School, that Christianity was such a novel religion because............and that it spread like wildfire because............We don't know that any of this is true."

1. You are patronizing me, bless your heart. When unable to respond, cast insults...

2. "Sunday School" - I am Jewish.

3. "We don't know that any of this is true." Oh yes we do. Read the history of the Copts in Egypt, of Asia Minor, of Greece, and of Rome. There is a great body of literature about the inter-testamental and post inter-testamental periods, and how religion during those times spread, and which religion outpaced the others.

4. "So no other religions take care of their poor and vulnerable?" You are writing this in the present tense, as in today. But your original statements were about the past, the very distant past. And that is what I answered, about the past. First you insinuated that people "like this" don't know that anything occurred B.C. (therein another insult), then you went on about ancient civilizations, and added the qualifier of "probably" When I asked for documentation, you provided none. All you wrote was another harangue, which also delivered insults, this time to those poor and vulnerable and enslaved about whom you supposedly care so much, who fall for pie-in-the sky and "good PR", being too stupid in their bloody chains and starvation to sit down and rationally think through a progressive philosophy of life even as the boss strides toward them with a whip.

An excellent book on the subject of the primary influences on Western thought and practices is "Mimesis", by Erich Auerbach. Unparalled and still unsurpassed.


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We must remind ourselves that for much of human prehistory and even later in many parts of the world, humans were a clannish and sometimes tribal peoples. People from other clans or tribes did not merit the same spiritual or practical status as one of your own. The Family of Man is a modern concept, even a conceit of the 19th Century. Earlier religious affiliations merged peoples of different ethnic and tribal backgrounds, but often these religions set themselves apart as the True Faith, thus substituting their religions from other tribal or racial identity.

Hope this makes sense. I'm running around trying to seed transplant trays and cook.


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Pidge - "But now I know that my questions are everyone's questions." You are so right, and it's actually soothing to know that many others also ask and wonder. But it still doesn't give the answer and I want to know! BTW, if you haven't already looked at "Mimesis" you might enjoy it. Auerbach's actual theme is literary history, but in such an unusual way. Serious writing, though, not for when you're in the midst of grading papers!

Tishtosh - Thank you! It's not only my profession, it's the abiding question of my life. How did we come to be born in this country at this time - the most privileged humans in history, no matter our flaws. The "grand etenal plan", from Fiddler on the Roof, and I believe that we, through no good deeds of our own, hit the jackpot, and somehow, are obliged to give back. Most fascinating, though, is how we got here, from what does this civilization stem? Going back 3,000 - 4,000 years, studying the backing and forthing of "progress"; it's a terrible, bloody history, but also usually moving forward. Help! Stop me from lecturing, lol.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

  • Posted by momj47 7A..was 6B (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 21:50

You are patronizing me, bless your heart. When unable to respond, cast insults...

I am not patronizing you, so don't patronize me. And don't bless me, either. It's inappropriate and uncalled for.

The idea that Christianity is somehow better is taught, Sunday after Sunday, in Christian Sunday School - I have no idea where you learned it, or why, but it's self-serving, as are most statements justifying any belief - religious or otherwise - to the faithful.

If I'm quoting a text, I cite it when I post my comments, otherwise, it's my own thoughts from my reading and studying over the years.

Most people in the world are not as well educated as you appear to be, and can't devote the time necessary " to sit down and rationally think through a progressive philosophy of life even as the boss strides toward them with a whip."

Religion is very strong in countries (and states) with high rates of poverty. And these people rarely have time to sit down and think through anything. Doing say may mean they lose their job, or even their life. So yes, there still is a "boss" cracking a whip.

We've seen it discussed here on this forum. Why some people, who seem otherwise rational, will follow someone making obviously ridiculous promises, and in many cases, giving them their last dollar.

Christianity has many good ideas, but I don't believe that it is the only way or the only truth. Any more than any other religion is.


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Love the life affirming imagery of " trying to seed transplant trays and cook. " . It goes well here.
To me, that's largely the point of religion - Trying to help people see and affirm what is important in life, and in a way that's bigger than what we know.

The rabid religious radio sharing of the last several years, has mostly lacked those basic to Christianity teachings of the first 2 commandments, and the Beatitudes ie Loving Kindness. It [rr radio] has gotten more vehement and less kind, as fewer people listen.

Because of some famous and horrific failures, Christianity has been easy to resent by outsiders.

It is a hard religion to live up to some of those admired ideals. I suppose most are. Painting a religions failing's with too broad a brush, has it's limitations too.

People usually project personal views, into their religious views. They are often the most vehement. Some have come through very tough times.

It is a hard religion to live up to. I suppose most are.
It bothers me a lot when people trash at other people's religions .

Thanks for your input Sable. No one seems to talk much about these basics much - since the 60s? A long time.

To me the message, or basis, of a religion, is much more than
the story-lines that explain it or lay it out.
Those, too, are [only] explanatory parables in a way. [gee, did I just say that? I am sorry.]
Try to cut me some slack on this, it sounds awful, but i'm trying to get at some thing i can't put into words now. and uh, oh, i'm rushing.


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Just reading this thread--Thanks Marshall for posting and Sable for your contributions.


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Been missing you, dear demi ('tho not the bitter bickering)


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I have trouble reading some of this nonsense.

...'a mysticism of the social order � the anxiety about salvation resolved by ecstatic transport into the feeling of social solidarity."

huh?

Gobbledy gook. It's the nature of religious talk.

Rosie:

"It seems very likely that progressive desires to help others and achieve structural justice preceded Christianity by thousands of years..."

Sable: "Thousands of years? Back in 3000 BC? Where is this documented?

Momj47:

" it goes on and on. And each of these, as they grew, probably had programs in place to take care of their poor and vulnerable citizens."

Sable"

"Again, where is the documentation? Have you read about the Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, et al? Studied history, anthropology, archaeology? I would like references to compassion of anything beyond an occasional impulse."

Sable:

"n ancient times, EVERYONE was poor and vulnerable. As tribes and then "nations" developed they were controlled by a ruler who had power of life and death over every person. The gold went into his pockets, with a slight trickle-down to his family and one or two cronies. Compassion was in very short supply. If the "poor and vulnerable" were kept alive with a few handouts of grain and rice, it was because they were needed: in the fields, in the army, and most of all, as slaves. Slavery was endemic. Everyone practiced it without question."

Hay:

Sable, you have documentation for all those comments in the last paragraph.

Compassion in short supply? Really? How do you know that?

If we look at our closest relatives and even our distant relatives in the animal kingdom, there is ample "documentation" that they show compassion.

You need documentation? Start here

6 Amazing Ways Animals Show Compassion

Renowned primatologist Frans de Waal argues that our own sense of morality can be traced back to our primate relatives.

"If you're a Christian fundamentalist, you probably believe that morality comes directly from God (via a download of the Bible, to be sure). And if you're a law-and-order conservative, you likely think we need strict rules, and harsh punishments, to keep people in line and prevent their baser impulses from taking over.

But if you're a primatologist? In that case, your view of morality is radically different. You probably see indications of "moral" behaviors all throughout the animal kingdom, and especially among our primate relatives such as bonobos---who show high levels of empathy, have a female-dominated social structure, and use sex, rather than violence, to solve in-group social conflicts, and even when they encounter other, potentially hostile groups.

Emory University's Frans de Waa---the celebrated primatologist familiar from other books like The Age of Empathy ---makes a case for our evolved and biologically grounded morality in his new book The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates . Morality, de Waal argues, "antedates religion… [and] much can be learned about its origins by considering our fellow primates."

Forget the idea that our morality and compassion might go back a few thousand years before Christ.

Try millions of years on for size.

Hay


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"It seems very likely that progressive desires to help others and achieve structural justice preceded Christianity by thousands of years..." Thousands of years? Back in 3000 BC? Where is this documented?

I am certain that the author's point was simply that structural justice preceded Christianity by a long, long time, not necessarily thousands of years. Indeed, Athenian Democracy preceded Christ by .5 thousand years. The fact is that man's impulse to achieve some degree of social justice and social structure precedes Christianity.

As far as Mr. Button sort of projecting themes from the Protestant "Social Gospel" on Occupy Wall Street, he is, I think, misunderstanding what that movement and for that matter what progressive minded people or even the Pope himself thinks about wealth inequality. (there, I bring the Pontiff in here again to help make a point)

Yes, progressives are interested in combating poverty, social injustice , and ameliorating illness and human suffering among as many as we reasonably can. There is something more though that Buttoms missed about Occupy Wall Street. The sign carried by many in the OWS marches was that "We are the 99%." This refers to the 1% or the other side of the wealth inequality equation, something that Pope Francis called the "idolatry of money" and what Mitt Romney called the way everyone should live

While it is true that nearly all were peasants during Biblical times who ever imagined anything like the Romney class of uber wealthy in our country and around the globe? Perhaps the likes of Buttoms should focus on the religious and spiritual impulses of the filthy rich, those like Romney who discounted 47% and in reality probably discounts more like 90% of Americans.


This post was edited by heri_cles on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 1:57


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

  • Posted by rosie Southeast 7A/B (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 3:18

Great discussion. Good points, Heri cles. I did actually mean thousands of years, though. There are so many good reasons to believe that structural justice existed in villages and was discussed around village campfires long before we developed writing, including studying small societies today. Primitive societies have always had to cooperate and protect each other if they are to survive. And, of course, abstracting from animal behavior. But already very, very long ago we weren't animals. We thought and reasoned.

Sable, I understand depending on the solidity of physical records to consult, but don't you think that only considering those few civilizations that (finally) left written records that survived to today (so few) would distort the picture more than somewhat? Almost all of our history, including of great civilizations that rose and fell, is not documented. That doesn't mean it did not occur and should not be considered and studied by any means, direct and indirect, available.

I was thinking just yesterday, wondering once again when Copernicus came up in a western-centric assumption how many many people around the planet discovered that the earth revolved around the sun -- perhaps thousands (used deliberately) of years before Copernicus. We know he wasn't the first as it is. Some discoveries might have made it into local cultures to be carried on, until that culture died out. Others would have died in little villages with their discoverer, or perhaps a generation or two later. But that genius only occurrs near great centers of civilization when it can be documented and IF those documents survive seems highly unlikely.

Also, Rome is amazing and fun to talk about, but it was hardly normal, very different from anything even in its own era. Most societies long before and after were far smaller, even tiny, with very often little social distance between leaders and lead. Often everyone in a society was acquainted with everyone else, and we know by studying village societies today, as well as those of the past as best we can, that the duties and authorities of the leaders would be seen as extremely different from, say, those of any of the Roman leaders of the later empire.

But back to the original premise of this thread. Many progressives are religious, whatever that religion may be, their religion and progressivism are one, and thus religion is a very important component for them. However, the argument that progressivism itself exists because of religion, and that American progressivism would not exist without a Christian base specifically, strikes me as arising from bias of the author's. This's not an intellectual approach from my side either, but as a lifelong progressive, I promise it completely fails the personal ping test I've learned to listen to.


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"Athenian Democracy preceded Christ by .5 thousand years." By point 5,000 years? What is that? Or was the intention just 5,000 years? That would make Athenian democracy 7,000 years old. No, it is not. There is no document in the Mediterranean region that is anywhere near that old; and democracy's origins were documented by contemporary Greeks. It was developed in a crude form between 600 and 500 B.C., making it approximately concurrent with the beginnings of Rome, the Jewish kingdoms, and the height of Pharonic Egypt.

"The fact is that man's impulse to achieve some degree of social justice and social structure precedes Christianity." There is a difference between social justice and social structure. Structure, yes, developed as soon as humans congregated in towns and cities. The strong prevailed almost immediately over the weak and the intelligent over the non-intelligent.

But social justice? As we define it today? Spotty at best. The most detailed attempt at social justice is imo found in the Old Testament (aka the Bible), where hundreds of laws - many of them laughed at in the modern world - are laid down, including a court system that applies to everyone, in an attempt to bring order and fairness to society. Followed by the New Testament, in which Old Testament law is de-emphasized in favor of love for humankind, compassion, and a message of universal salvation. OTOH, one could look at the Apostle Paul. He may have been a universalist of sorts, but he also could be less than kind.

Here are a handful of books that I just pulled from our home library, for whoever wants documentation.

Asimov, Isaac: The Near East, 10,000 Years of History.

Barnes, Harry: An Intellectual and Cultural History of the Western World, 3 volumes.

Chiera, Edward: They Wrote On Clay.

Childs, Brevard: Myth and Reality in the Old Testament.

Fell, Barry: America B.C., Ancient Settlers
.. in the New World.

Gabel, Creighton: Man Before History.

Gillman, Neil: Sacred Fragments.

Gordon, Cyrus: Before Columbus: Links Between the Old World and Ancient America.

Gustavson, Carl: The Mansion of History.

Hitti, Philip: History of the Arabs.

Kutscher, E.Y.: A History of the Hebrew Language.

Monk, Robert: Exploring Religious Meaning.

Moscati, Sabatino: Ancient Semitic Civilization.

Shaban, M.A.: Islamic History.

Winks, Robin: The Historian as Detective.

The above are just a smattering, but they are all that I could carry to the computer and am not going back for more.

Additionally, for a spectacular presentation of the history of the Roman Republic, try plowing through the 6,000 pages of Colleen Mccullough's Masters of Rome series, exhaustively researched and thrillingly written.

There is also, online now, the Biblical Archaeology Review, a journal written for laypersons. But this needs to be read over a period of time, since one issue hardly gives a good example of what the editors and authors are all about. BAR covers nearly every dig in the Middle East from start to finish, and, over time, has tackled every language question that has, e.g., been raised here.

Rosie - Although it's fun to speculate about what went on around the campfire or in those early, illiterate villages, without writing, or even pictographs, we simply cannot know what occurred. Of course it may be true that those people discussed social justice or heliocentrism, but you cannot write it as truth. As more and more writing is done about the ancient world, its languages, customs, and religions, we see researchers being very careful about assertions of fact, and stating what is supposition or imagination. If you have worked on an archaeological excavation you know that among the historians, anthropologists and linguists there is much casual talk that is admittedly guesswork or flights of fancy. But when it comes to writing the reports, in whatever the field, facts are what matter. You don't necessarily need clay tablets and written facts. Pottery and gates and cisterns and burn levels can tell a lot. But your suppositions had better be anchored in observable fact.

Now am going off to see if our old cat is being compassionate to our new cat, and then to read a thriller. Bye for now.
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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

  • Posted by rosie Southeast 7A/B (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 7:29

So much to learn from books. For instance, I've read that you can smear cats with...tuna fish oil or some such thing and lock them in a small space together and they'll get busy cleaning each other and end up friends. Hmmm. Never had the nerve or confidence to test it on my own little subjects, though. :)

Thank you for the list of finely regarded books Sable. If you ever need money, you obviously have treasure on your shelves. Amazon didn't list or have one of them at any price, I've already forgotten which one, although something else from that author is still in circulation. I've read one of McCullough's books and apparently forgot to get back for the rest, so I also appreciate that nice reminder of her historic fiction treasures.

The interest currently especially stimulated by this thread would be history so far back that those who explore it are scientists. So for that books reporting the wonderful discoveries enabled by modern technology would probably be in order.

Thinking of science and historical viewpoints reminded me of a class (long ago now) on pre-revolutionary American history. In the intro lecture, the professor warned us up front that he would not have much to say about women in the colonial era since, in fact, they really didn't contribute much of anything. The tuffet school of thought, and he was perfectly sincere. Male settlers seemingly didn't contribute much either if their names weren't associated with politics or military leadership. Since then, of course, the entire notion of what historical study should encompass has developed substantially.

While looking for "progressivism and religion" I stumbled on this guy who seemingly disagrees with the initial premise: "The Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world." Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not a Christian"

The lecture enlarging on this take-no-prisoners statement is at the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bertrand Russell


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

.5 = 1/2
.5 x 1,000 = 500 ... Eureka! (Hericles quoting Archimedes).

And yes, the structure of our democracy and social justice were seeded in ancient Greek democracy, long before Christianity.

Fiddler on the Roof? Now you have gone from the arcane to the sublime.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Thank you Sable and Rosie. Sable, quite an impressive reading list. As for so called Greek Democracy, from my readings I glean that ancient Greeks were not truly "democratic" in the way we define it today. (e.g. the rights of women were non-existent; they were chattels). And what of slaves?

Sable, the message of Jesus was revolutionary for that day and age, in terms of "there is no male, nor female, nor Jew nor Gentile, nor slave..." You know the rest of the quote from Paul. It was a new religion of the slave, of the downtrodden, and women played a larger role than they had heretofore in society. This was new. My writing this does not take away from the fact that "Christianity" today has morphed into something quite other than the early Christians practiced and believed.

As for early democratic beginnings: many societies had rudimentary leanings in that direction. Iceland had the first "parliament" over a thousand years ago. (The Althing).


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Looking like Copernicus had it all wrong.

The universe actually revolves around that little sandy area around the Mediterranean and life didn't exist until at most 5000 years ago.

Hay


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

from my readings I glean that ancient Greeks were not truly "democratic" in the way we define it today. (e.g. the rights of women were non-existent; they were chattels). And what of slaves?

Slavery? Like that wasn't part of our wonderfully formed Democracy?
Women's Rights? Again, check our history and for that matter all of human history since the rise and fall of the Golden Age of Greece.

I know at least something about ancient history, how to perform basic mathematical computations, I know that Democracy was not perfect and still isn't, that the world is not just 6 thousand years old and yes, that vodka doesn't freeze when you put it in the freezer. Everything is knowable, including arcane facts from ancient history. No one here has a monopoly on the facts or the science and no one is smarter than anyone else here. That is the drift or the waft I am sensing here.

This post was edited by heri_cles on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 10:39


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

"Everything is knowable, including arcane facts from ancient history. No one here has a monopoly on the facts or the science and no one is smarter than anyone else here. That is the drift or the waft I am sensing here."

There is something fundamentally wrong with this statement: reality.
Not everything is knowable. There are people with much better access to facts and facility to use those facts. There are some people way smarter than other people, though not necessarily on this board.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

  • Posted by rosie Southeast 7A/B (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 11:34

Like your take on the heyday, Hay. :)

I'm not sure what Heri cles actually meant. Certainly Sable knows far more about religion and history of religion than I do or ever will. I also know that there is much new knowledge out there about early societies also to be learned, my exposure only little dips via such things as Smithsonian and science section articles. And that there will always be more to be discovered, in spite of all that which is truly lost forever.

But, this great topic? Can we agree with Marshall's author (I don't know where Sable is in this) that at least Christianity (and Judaism) has been a power behind progressivism in America? As well as against it? Does Rauschenberg's theory of Social Gospel adopted by mainline northeastern churches still hold up?

It's the sweeping conclusion, not the basic elements, in this statement below that just don't ring true. It seems like a more intellectually stated posit than, but related to, the unexamined assumption of some that a person cannot be moral and understand right and wrong without receiving the word of God.

"Whereas Catholics make an examination of conscience before confession, and confess their personal sins before promising to amend their life, today's progressives examine their place in the social structure of oppression, and then vow to reform society. That is what it means to have a "social gospel without the gospel" -- to be motivated by religious impulses, but believe it is entirely secular."

Surely that IS true for some...?


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

I too think this is true for some, particularly those that spurn religion and profess atheism. OTOH, few of us have come to maturity without being deeply programmed by truisms of the dominant cultures. These cultures are in turn deeply informed and formed by religious traditions. Separating out religious impulses from secular ones is close to a moot point.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

The idea that Occupy Wall Street was fundamentally about spiritual anxiety in modern civilization seems way off to me. I thought it was about political & economic disenfranchisement. This doesn't look like religious iconography to me.

"It seems very likely that progressive desires to help others and achieve structural justice preceded Christianity by thousands of years..." Thousands of years? Back in 3000 BC? Where is this documented? "

Buddhism's origins are thought to be from between 6th & 4th centuries BCE. Buddhism's Three Jewels are the Buddha, the Dharma & the Songha - teacher/leader, teachings, and community. I think this is one example of a philosophy preceeding Christianity that included the importance of community.

As far as I know, people didn't live in isolated hamlets. Alexander the Great was conquering far and wide in the 300's BCE. He & his army encountered many different cultures and
ideas.

I don't know much at all about the history of the Abrahamic religions, so maybe they really did live in a vacuum.

I recently read something about Jesus I thought was interesting because I like to learn about plants.

Psychoactive Plants in the Bible
Author: Kevin Loftis

Christianity is based on accounts of Jesus and God in the Bible. The Bible includes various plants that are used often and deemed holy. Some of these plants are psychedelic while others have medical qualities. Both the new and old testament mention the use of these plants in religious purpose. Jesus used shamanic techniques to help establish a stable religion in the name of God.

The link has recipes for anointing oil, perfumes, and so on.

Here is a link that might be useful: neurobrainstorm

This post was edited by althea on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 12:24


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Why do we have to be motivated by religious ideals? Can't the ideas of right and wrong, of empathy as a human emotion or condition, stand alone... on its own merit?


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

"Can we agree with Marshall's author (I don't know where Sable is in this) that at least Christianity (and Judaism) has been a power behind progressivism in America? "

Absolutely not.

READ ME!!!

Jodi's on the right path.

"Why do we have to be motivated by religious ideals? Can't the ideas of right and wrong, of empathy as a human emotion or condition, stand alone... on its own merit?"

Which came first, morality or religion?

Morality.

Why?

Because it creates an evolutionary advantage.

Anything else I need to know?

No. The rest is nonsense.

Hay

This post was edited by haydayhayday on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 12:36


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Well, there! That's settled. Helps to explain slavery, cannibalism, women and children as chattel.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

"Well, there! That's settled."

Good. Now we can drink beer and be happy.

Hay


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

I don't know how far back one can date human compassion and caring for the needy, etc. However, I can say that the "social gospel" was a late Christian development--protestant religions developing this goal and purpose in the late-19th century. Since the progressive movement begins in the early 20th century, I have no doubt that protestant ideas about the social gospel influenced the subsequent progressive era--but if you read the progressives' writings from that time period, you will see that many of them identify as "free-thinkers" or "rationalists" or some such "scientific" term--by which they meant non-believers who had been influenced by the scientific ideas (such as Darwinism and so forth) emerging over the course of the 19th century-early 20th century. I'm not aware that the progressives (the ones I've read, that is) attributed any of their roots to the late-19th century social gospel movement.

And as far as Catholicism goes, they were not into social "gospel," but more into "social justice"--but my impression is that that became an important idea in the Catholic global community after World War II (but I might be mistaken on that--I don't know a lot about Catholicism). In that case, Catholic social justice may well have had a more recent influence on the current progressive ideas and the protestant social gospel movement on the earlier 20th century progressive ideas, but I don't think in either case one can say they were somehow the "cause" or "origin" of such ideas.

That there have always been some people more compassionate than others is probably true. At what point compassion became public policy on a wide-spread scale and what caused it to come to the forefront, I have no idea.

Kate


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

And, then, there's this perspective (the article is a long critique of Western art):

This church, this horrific establishment which has been intimidating, scaring, and torturing billions of people worldwide, for millennia, is still ‘morally’ and ‘intellectually’ in control of the most powerful and the most destructive country on earth: the United States of America.

And it is still forming the cultural essence of Europe. . .

In Europe, the majority of people may not go to churches, anymore, and it may not believe in Christian dogma… it may not believe in the religions at all, but its ‘culture’ is clearly shaped by aggressiveness, ruthlessness and the brutality of the Christian church and its realm.

It is not that ‘people kidnapped good religion and made it monstrous’ - it is religion that brainwashed people, entire nations, turning them into intolerant, bigoted murderers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Counterpunch article


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

I would not disagree with that viewpoint, dockside, though I'm not sure it is the whole picture, by any means.

Kate


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

My husband, as an example, was never involved in any religion... and yet, he's compassionate, he knows right from wrong and lives accordingly, and even holds to his own set of morals as he views them necessary to a decent life.

So, if not from religion, then it would be safe to say that those values and ideals were a matter of environment... passed down through the examples of family and other social situations.

But religion has never been a part of his life. He rejects any and all notions that a supreme being ever existed or exists now. So, what is it, then, that keeps him from behaving poorly? What is it that gives him empathy, or causes him to treat others with the same respect they offer? Etc...


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

"Helps to explain slavery, cannibalism, women and children as chattel."

Morality, just like any evolutionary advantage, is constantly changing and needs to be and is adaptable.

Thou shall not kill......

...unless....

"Praise the lord and pass the ammunition!!"

Hay


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Andre Vltchek should have visited the Musee Picasso in Paris where he could have seen this:

the title is "Massacre in Korea".

Picasso derived the theme for this painting from Goya's "The Third of May" about the Spanish resistance to Napoleon.

"The Third of May 1808 marks a clear break from convention. Diverging from the traditions of Christian art and traditional depictions of war, it has no distinct precedent, and is acknowledged as one of the first paintings of the modern era.[4] According to the art historian Kenneth Clark, The Third of May 1808 is "the first great picture which can be called revolutionary in every sense of the word, in style, in subject, and in intention".[5]

Both Goya and Picasso were Spanish so that may explain their work. Guernica is also a good example of revolutionary art.

The author is mostly right though. I can only think of 3 examples off the top of my head.

Here is a link that might be useful: wikipedia - 3rd of may


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Archeological anthropologists often find skeletal remains of prehistoric people who have had major debilitating disease and/or limiting injuries that show that the person had to have been cared for. I recall reading about one man who must have been carried about since his healed injuries were so extensive and this by a nomadic people. Kennewick man discovered on the banks of the Columbia and who turned out to date to somewhere from 9400-9600 years ago had a major spear point grown into his hip. In order to survive that injury and others that he had he must have had major care for some time. We don't know if an organized religion goes back that far. Neanderthal remains apparently often show signs of healing like those in the Shanidar caves-that is like 60,000 years or more sooooo....altruism must have existed prior to any modern concept of god or spiritualism.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

"Which came first, morality or religion?

Morality.

Why?

Because it creates an evolutionary advantage.

Anything else I need to know?

No. The rest is nonsense."

Agree... unless evolution isn't your idea if when the world began...

But the theory of Adam and Eve is flawed, just through what we know about basic genetics. So, I'm more inclined to believe in the evolutionary process.


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America's intertwined Religious and Cultural Roots

Remember the pilgrims and the puritans, the earliest colonies that survived, and grew? They were rigorously idealistic Christians and established the tone and pattern for much of US culture. The later Great Awakening, revival movement was important too.
The Mayflower compact, of cooperation for self governance by the pilgrims, was made while still aboard ship. The Pilgrim's religiousness, and the considerable help of their Indian neighbors helped them survive extreme privation. The puritans wanted to try to establish the biblical 'shining city on a hill', at Trimount in what would become Boston. Although the 3 tops of Beacon Hill [get the shiny reference ?] were used to spread the foundation and the area and material importance of that scrawny peninsula, the shine did not form or last in the exact way some had hoped, but it has left a lasting influence.

Jonathan Edwards, the american religious philosopher, from waay back, was also a seminal influence on american christianity, and philosophy, partly, by preaching a redder hotter hellfire and brimstone.

"The leaders of the Great Awakening, such as James Davenport, Jonathan Edwards, Gilbert Tenant and George Whitefield, had little interest in merely engaging parishioners' intellects; rather, they sought a strong emotional response from their congregations that might yield the workings and experiential evidence of saving grace.Joseph Tracy, the minister, historian, and preacher who gave this religious phenomenon its name in his influential 1842 book The Great Awakening, saw the First Great Awakening as a precursor to the American Revolution. The evangelical movement of the 1740s played a key role in the development of democratic thought, as well as the belief of the free press and the belief that information should be shared and completely unbiased and uncontrolled. These concepts ushered in the period of the American Revolution. This contributed to create a demand for religious freedom.[7] Although the Great Awakening represented the first time African Americans embraced Christianity in large numbers" wiki- Great Awakening

This ~ 1740s revival of the, by then slightly faded [ possibly by shame over the witch trials], pilgrim emphasis on the fear of God, and God's Grace, over Works- efforts for good, gave rise to many trends in christianity, especially revivalism and evangelicalism . Um, his church in Northampton, tossed him for being too strict and too nosy though, and for naming sinning teens [ they read wrong books] from the pulpit. Check the wiki page too, a shorter about.com page is below. There are other good reference pages, and of quotes, [Affection is a good JE keyword, as is religion.] Also check wiki's Great Awakening .

Lofty and/but elusive goals are part of american cultural DNA, as is - a can do attitude, looking out for the little guy, putting your 2 cents in, curiousity - and getting a good grounding in facts. Being slow to anger or fight [turn that other cheek] - but then pounding the hell out of the other guy if they are way out of line. That's called righteous indignation. Add a bit of self righteousness and there you have it (: Rugged individualism/independance fits here too, as does neighborliness, as survival mechanisms.

Current assumptions now, are so different of those of the 50s and 60s, and less interested in facts. In elem schools our early history and ideals are no longer honored and reviewed for Thanksgiving Day, and Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays. This is a great loss. Even with some major errors, paying positive [but not candy coated ] attention to and why we as a nation are, who and like we are, is basic. it's what ties us all together, the newbies here and the oldtimers and all our kids.
Nowadays what we tell each other is so, - free floating new stereotyped assumptions in, fewer facts repeated. More new-speak 'culture' soaks in, from our screen companions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jonathan Edwards [b 1703]


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Well, that's one version of American history. However, there are many other versions out there also--that do not make Christianity the "hero" of the story, larger-than-life and blocking out the others involved in other and different stories--with different "heroes" (if one takes the time to look for the other stories).

Kate


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

I am inclined to consider impulses towards altruism are not predicated on religious or even spiritual intent(although I have no idea what anyone means by that term)....but will argue for an evolutionary advantage - we value co-operation as much as competition, yet a kind of crude social darwinism has tended to elevate competition above mutuality.

Horses for courses, I guess, but I take both issue and umbrage that a moral life is somehow entwined with religion. (although I am prepared to consider a looser form of 'faith', not necessarily mediated through a formal christian or any other ecclesiastical concern.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Hi Kate, it's not a version. In an an inumeration of important influences on our history, a major one IS Christianity. Yes, some of it has bloody footprints. Other influences need to be included too.
Right now these are the stories that are not being told. That is cheating our young and our immigrants.

Notice I didn't say 'YAY they are perfect!' But they are major.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Oh, I agree that Christianity is ONE important influence on our history--but a history that only covers that ONE influence and omits info that contradicts it or ignores any other important influences tends to present itself as telling the "whole" story when it tells the story of the ONE important influence. And thus misleads readers. (Well, some readers.)

Is the only point I was making.

Kate

This post was edited by dublinbay on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 16:58


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Progressivism has some surprising roots. Pendulums swing and influences bounce. We were talking about religion and progressivism in american history.
Did you notice this quote on my long posting above?

" The evangelical movement of the 1740s played a key role in the development of democratic thought, as well as the belief of the free press and the belief that information should be shared and completely unbiased and uncontrolled. "

Thats from a wiki on the Great Awakening. Jonathan Edwards
shaped that in America. See his wiki

This is a Huge influence, And to the point.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

There were big changes in religion during the Renaissance, which caused a gradual change in the way we about governments, monarchs, religion, and one's relationship with their god.

With the advent of the Gutenberg press, more people became literate. They could read the bible for themselves and form their own thoughts and interpretations, instead of having popes and monarchs make pronouncements about what god wanted and expected, which always coincidentally worked to the authority's advantage. Go figure.

This was a major departure from the way things were done previously when popes and monarchs passed themselves off as the human embodiment of god.

The upheavals that occurred in Christianity gave us the distinction between society and state, allowed us to think about individual rights and the natural equality of man, and it advanced the idea that power must be representative.

Christianity was Ground Zero for this radical change, so I don't mind giving the devil his due. :-)

This was not happening anywhere else. While other parts of the world became more withdrawn and insular and hard-lined, the Christians in Europe were duking it out with excellent thought exercises, often at personal risk. Religion, because it was the epicenter of life at the time, was the place where a lot of ideas and many changes began. Reformers vigorously challenged the status quo and it started a whole new way of thinking.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

And that is NOT the only or necessarily the main influence on the development of democratic thought, free press, etc. In fact, religion in those days--going back to the Puritans/Pilgrims--tended to advocate those things only for their own church members and to disallow those things for anyone who disagreed with their religious beliefs. In fact, the Puritans would run people advocating other religious beliefs out of town! No democracy for the nonbelievers or those who believed in other creeds!

One reason that Ben Franklin was so determined to make sure our new country supported free speech and freedom from religious domination or any mingling of Church and State was because he just hated all the continual wrangling and fighting and squabbling and bad-spirited/self-righteous/better-than-thou kind of disputation and argumentation that was always going on between the different churches and creeds and religious affiliations. He wanted out country to have a SECULAR government--which is why he pushed so hard for our Constitution and Bill of Rights--to keep religion OUT of our government.

And a lot of the founding fathers agreed with him. And a number of them were Deists--which is not a Christian belief at all.

That's part of the story your questionable wiki left out -- in its attempt to glorify Christianity as the origin of our American government and the principles it supposedly exemplifies.

Kate


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

"...he just hated all the continual wrangling and fighting and squabbling and bad-spirited/self-righteous/better-than-thou kind of disputation and argumentation that was always going on between the different churches and creeds and religious affiliations"

He just hated it, huh? I'll have to take your word for that, Kate.

"Benjamin Franklin delivered this famous speech, asking that the Convention begin each day's session with prayers, at a particularly contentious period, when it appeared that the Convention might break up over its failure to resolve the dispute between the large and small states over representation in the new government. The eighty one year old Franklin asserted that "the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth--that God governs in the Affairs of Men." "I also believe," Franklin continued, that "without his concurring Aid, we shall succeed in this political Building no better than the Builders of Babel." Franklin's motion failed, ostensibly because the Convention had no funds to pay local clergymen to act as chaplains."

"The first two Presidents of the United States were patrons of religion--George Washington was an Episcopal vestryman, and John Adams described himself as "a church going animal." Both offered strong rhetorical support for religion. In his Farewell Address of September 1796, Washington called religion, as the source of morality, "a necessary spring of popular government," while Adams claimed that statesmen "may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand." Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the third and fourth Presidents, are generally considered less hospitable to religion than their predecessors, but evidence presented in this section shows that, while in office, both offered religion powerful symbolic support.

When the Constitution was submitted to the American public, "many pious people" complained that the document had slighted God, for it contained "no recognition of his mercies to us . . . or even of his existence." The Constitution was reticent about religion for two reasons: first, many delegates were committed federalists, who believed that the power to legislate on religion, if it existed at all, lay within the domain of the state, not the national, governments; second, the delegates believed that it would be a tactical mistake to introduce such a politically controversial issue as religion into the Constitution. The only "religious clause" in the document--the proscription of religious tests as qualifications for federal office in Article Six--was intended to defuse controversy by disarming potential critics who might claim religious discrimination in eligibility for public office.

That religion was not otherwise addressed in the Constitution did not make it an "irreligious" document any more than the Articles of Confederation was an "irreligious" document. The Constitution dealt with the church precisely as the Articles had, thereby maintaining, at the national level, the religious status quo. In neither document did the people yield any explicit power to act in the field of religion. But the absence of expressed powers did not prevent either the Continental-Confederation Congress or the Congress under the Constitution from sponsoring a program to support general, nonsectarian religion."

More Kate: "That's part of the story your questionable wiki left out -- in its attempt to glorify Christianity as the origin of our American government and the principles it supposedly exemplifies."

I hope you're not as harsh with me. My source is the Library of Congress. Of course, I'm sure there's a lot of junk over there, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ben Liked God Okay


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Just because something exists, and is mentioned, does not mean it is being glorified.
Something that was important in the 1700s may not be valued today, by the inheritors of the same movement. That is a telling and fascinating detail, especially in today's context.
To understand history you need bunches of facts, and in a lot of different contexts. Do not take everything from the same source, or from the same point of view, or you will end up like a 4th grade science project with skinny undernourished, plants, all leaning to one tiny, sole, point of light.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Florey--the advice you gave me is the advice I was giving you. Can't you see that you are taking one point of view only? I don't want you to end up sounding like a 4th grade science project, after all. I merely added another point of view to fill in the gaps in your single-minded point of view.

Elvis--I know you like to be cute and smart-alecky. I really don't have time for that nonsense. Go read Ben Franklin's autobiography. He discusses these issues in some detail. Or aren't his own words good enough for you? He also mentions by the way that while he is not a Christian, he often attends church--because it is "respectable" and "creates a good impression"--and that makes it easier for him to persuade others to follow his plans without having to get into a big argument with them. Franklin was a very practical, pragmatic man--whatever worked, he was for it. I have no doubt that he introduced the idea of prayers in order to calm down the fiery partisans as a practical idea--so the "they" would calm down. I doubt very much that he thought he needed prayers in order to calm down or that he introduced the idea of prayer as a testimony to his Christian belief--since he was not a Christian. Statements like "God governs in the Affairs of Men" are basic to Deist beliefs. Deism is NOT Christianity. And if you check his autobiography, you will find that he advocates using language that will be persuasive to OTHERS. In other words, he knew how to manipulate people so well that they did not feel manipulated. He was proud of that ability, by the way--and brags about it in his autobiography.

Are we done? I really am getting bored with this topic which has been discussed in detail several times over the past couple years. If you must keep on arguing, how about directing the arguments to someone else.

My position is that the religious sources have their own version of American history (a version that celebrates Christianity as the source of American democracy)--and everybody else (including the Indians, by the way) have different versions of American history. It all depends on who is telling the story and what values they are trying to communicate.

I'm done now.

Kate


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

"It all depends on who is telling the story and what values they are trying to communicate."

You should be proud of yourself for figuring that out. Thanks for sharing, Kate. Always a pleasure.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

'"It all depends on who is telling the story and what values they are trying to communicate." '

And what power they have at their disposal.

History, religion, culture - an entirely flexible feast - the essence of post-modernism. All that is solid, melts into air.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Snark does not mix well with discussions of spirituality and the origins of morality and altruism. Sorry this got off track.

History is written by the victors, the rest is just sour grapes to those whose scenarios diverge from the accepted versions. In my version, alcohol consumption, pestilence and slavery dominated.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Hi marshallz, missed you while i was away. "Snark does not mix well with discussions of spirituality and the origins of morality and altruism. Sorry this got off track."

Well yeah, but it [maybe more anger, at imperfection- but here getting a bit snarkish] is in itself, a kind of recapitulation , of the course of development of various religions, subgroups, poli-religi groups.
There can be as much stuff going on in a congregation, or the mts of southwest asia , as does who sits where, in a junior high lunchroom.
It does seem funny that anger should have such a place of honor when talking about idealism. But it does, so it must be an important engine.

Kate, why the broad brush assumptions? Are you a recovering Catholic, or had folks that were Cathars, ? Were they, Christians, your guys and they let you down? Say no more! If you feel like sharing I would be interested.

Do try to wade through the long wikis on Jonathan Edwards, and the Great Awakening, Throw in the Pope Alexander & co. and John Calvin. Who knows, maybe I'm also just longing to dish.

Puritanism has some populist roots...


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

It has deeply political ones too (commonwealth, dissent, levellers, diggers, quakers,) but those aspects seem to have vanished somewhere down the line.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

When you live in a culture where your government is your religion and your religion is your government you could confuse the two historically since very few people got to chose what culture they lived in. If everything is spoken of in a religious context you might think everything had a religious context except if you aren't allowed to express yourself in any other way that would be the end result. It is the 'container for the thing contained' mindset.

Let us go back to florey's early American history. If you were to be so stupid as to expect to express yourself in any other way than the accepted religious way of your colony you found your self tossed out on your little pink ear. Massachusetts Bay colony is a perfect example. Though not specifically formed on religious principles the only people allowed to be anything or do anything had to conform to the extreme puritan doctrine of its leaders. Life outside of the early colonies was not survivable due to the treatment of the local natives by the altruistic progressive Christian people of the colonies. It is fortunate for Roger Williams that enough people agreed with him that he could form his own colony where you could believe as you liked or your heart dictated or not as the case may be.
If in fact you aren't allowed to speak at all unless you couch what you say in acceptable religious forms then you speak in acceptable religious forms. Whether or not you donate your considerable sums of money to the local charity because you just love your fellow man or you do it to impress your god you are going to say you did it to impress god if you will be burned at the stake for saying you love your fellow man.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Not all, [may i call you bluebell?] and some influences keep popping up, though not always going in the same direction that it was .
Seems like it takes some effort to get things into motion, then as we rub past our sins and theirs, things slow down dissipate readjust and mellow. Well, somewhat.
What was rigorous is now passe. Or?

Could there be a physics of idealism? (:


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

florey--what is this admiration you have for wiki entries? Don't you know those are NOT written by professionals who know what they are talking about? That is rather low-level stuff you are relying on as your ultimate authority.

Do try to wade through the long wikis on Jonathan Edwards, and the Great Awakening, Throw in the Pope Alexander & co. and John Calvin.

I assure you, florey, that my studies of those areas are much more advanced and have been carried on for many years--your wiki isn't even in the running. You read an encyclopedia article written by amateurs and think you know everything on the topic (we have another poster who thinks that way also)--never realizing that some posters have studied the material for years before you came along and read an encyclopedia article.

Whether you accept it or not, it is still true that only Christians who are trying to glorify Christianity read American history exclusively as you have done--Christianity as the hero blotting out everything else. You omit all the terrible things the religious did and you ignore all the other factors that played a big role in the development of the United States as a SECULAR, not a Christian, nation.

It's just the truth.

Kate


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Good grief, Kate. You said "you" or "your" eleven times in that post, just about every sentence. This isn't about Florey's "inferior" sourcing, is it? Your vehemence simmers; I sense religious intolerance here, and that's the truth.

This has become a very uncomfortable thread for me, so I'll bow out.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

kate, you are just making assumptions about me without paying the least bit of attention to what I have actually posted. I though that bit about the G.A. in the1740s was darn fascinating, and unexpected. It shows how things do change over time.
Christians are being trashed here and by you and a couple of others. And Anyone who says anything nice about them gets jumped on all over the place. well sheesh. That's even if they also say things that aren't nice about Christians too.That is so totally unfair. If you know so much, you would have caught a couple of the extremely negative references I did make.

Wikipedia is handy way to get a start on background information. You may be an expert on every thing, but more than just you are on this post, and may be curious.

I was also thinking of, but not including, the early colonies in northern New Spain.
Their extreme devotion , helped the villages placed on the edges of the mountains north of Holy Faith, [the largest town, on the other, northern, end of the Camino Real ] Survive . Since they were put there to protect the settlements from attacks from Apaches coming from the east, over the mountains, got that, the East, from the llano estacado. Change happens. Any advantage to survival was useful.
Yes, some were Jews and their descendants, trying to escape the the inquisition. Conversos were not even safe on the far fringes of New Spain. There are many people up there who pulled the curtains before they lit candles on Friday nights without knowing why, until recently.

I've gone back and looked at other settlements Jamestown, was smug and unprepared. It had survival problems and got waay too secular. That's why the Mass. colonies get/ got so much attention.

The mixtures at new Sweden and the Providence
colonies were interesting and included, Catholics, and Jews, as well as those independent thinkers not fitting in, in Mass.

Did you ever hear of Merry Mount? you would have mentioned it.

Other positions that did well, were outposts where trading and fishing took place. Maine had portugese fishing boats there in the 1500s. These were not permanent, family settlements.

The earliest settlement that is really interesting is New Amsterdam. The first trader there was a man of color, with African roots.
After a few years the early independent traders were shoved over by the Dutch East IndiaCompany, a monopoly.
with the trade goods /bead thingy in the 20s, -1623?
Great stuff we got from New Amsterdam, including the mercantile emphasis and the sense of humor that we are still enjoying today. But Their first massacre [of 130] was in the 1640s. Their smug leaders knew best, took no input.

The pilgrims did work at working things out, in their own ! style
It took generations [~3 ~4?] for the alliances formed by the Plimouth colony to deteriorate into King Phillips War, and the awful Pequot massacre.

You didn't mention the Mathers either, or the Salem Witch Trials. Cotton backed away after a while. It may have been shame at these excesses, that mellowed the early forms of New England Protestantism. Leaving some feeling a lack of rigor, that the Great Awakening, brought back in the 1740s.
Some must have pined for the all day sermons where hell figured prominently. They too were trying for God's Grace to help them on the way to becoming one of the elect, [not for everyone].

The Native example and input is also Huge. Looking out for the others is very parallel, Europeans could take in similarities. Women's input was more of a surprise to early colonists.

Well you've got a lot of wonderful materiel, on the early days of NYC to check out.

But the protestant values were the ones the New Englanders took with them westward, when they got tired of their best crop being rocks. The protestant work ethic hasn't been mentioned yet either. Also The Southerners who went west- protestant values.
Look at the blue states. And don't jump on me for not agreeing with you, when you don't even know the opinions I do have about this stuff.

Progressivism, developed in complex ways, surprisingly often intertwined, with people, & ideas, that were not progressive.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Southerners going west = protestant values rather than slave owners needing new ground to grow crops that they used slaves to grow and wanting to expand slave owning states to support this? Where are you getting your history?


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Wiki? Home schooling? Jeopardy?


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

"your wiki isn't even in the running. You read an encyclopedia article written by amateurs and think you know everything on the topic (we have another poster who thinks that way also)

Kate, are you talking about me? The wiki link I posted for "The Third of May" has 65 references, a huge bibliography, and external links. Sure it's a summarized encyclopedic presentation, but you don't need to stop there when they make it so easy to find more info on a subject. Some of these entries are written by professionals. Sable should write a page on her specialization.

Anyhow, since people here rarely read links anyway, what's the difference if the link is to a wiki, or a scholarly text if it will go unread? I didn't look at Florey's "about.com" link until this morning to see where it lead. I didn't read a word of the text. I prefer Howard Zinn's "The Peoples History of the United States" as my go to book for U.S. history.

This post was edited by althea on Wed, Apr 2, 14 at 7:13


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

......what is this admiration you have for wiki entries? Don't you know those are NOT written by professionals who know what they are talking about? That is rather low-level stuff you are relying on as your ultimate authority.

What a condescending comment.

I for one depend on Wikipedia to get me going when I research a topic that's new to me or I want to know more. And I'll cite it here and have no problems with anyone else citing it. I've learned a lot from Wikipedia

I think it's a great resource unless it's clearly biased, and then it becomes humor!

If you are going to attack one forum member, the rest of us better get in line for your attacks, too.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Althea and Mom--I assure you, I did not even remotely have either of you in mind. If it makes you feel better, I often resort to wiki also--an encyclopedia like wiki is often (as Mom said) a good place to start research, especially if the topic is new to you. It is not the end goal of research, however. Florey recommended that I go read the entries that would get me started on these topics--he was assuming that I disagreed with him because I didn't know much about the topic--in which case, an encyclopedia article would be a good starting place. However, I have read much more advanced studies over the years--I'm not a beginner who needs to start with an encyclopedia article. I was trying to get across the point that sometimes people disagree because they know a lot about the subject and he was mistaken to think 1) I disagreed because I was ignorant; and 2) that there are no more advanced studies than a wiki encyclopedia article. Sorry if that offends you, but it is the truth.

And there is nothing wrong, as Althea points out, with not bothering to read links to wiki or to any other source, advanced or not. If I'm not overly interested in a topic or have no reason to read a longer version, I don't bother to read the links either. I imagine that is true for everybody. I always appreciate it, however, when posters indicate what source they are using--just in case I want to read up on the topic in more detail.

Florey--I keep repeating that the religious theme is ONE part of the story, but the story sounds very different when you add in all the other parts that you omitted. American history as an affirmation of Christianity is just plain incorrect. It celebrates Christianity only if you omit everything else.

I'm sorry that you and some of the above posters read that as an attack on Christianity, but stating the truth is not an "attack." It is simply a statement of the truth--even if it is not a truth you want to hear. I am biased--I admit it--biased against spreading incorrect information -- and that includes incorrect info. because it is partial and therefore misleading info.

I have to go to an appointment now--the rest of you can carry on. But I, personally, would prefer a more balanced assessment/conversation--which cannot be done if we "Christianize" American history--although Christianity is indeed a PART of American history, as are many non-Christian elements.

I repeat:'"It all depends on who is telling the story and what values they are trying to communicate." '

Kate


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

What, pat? No protestants in the south? or flyover country? That's big news.
Yeah, the extension of slavery got important to many there, as new states were about to form, in the mid nineteenth cen. Some in Texas, wanted that option but even before the woar . Slavery didn't really work well in most of the area. there was some cane on the brazos, some cotton, shipping was a big factor.
But we were speaking about the origens and development of ideas and trends. The South became really big on participatory democracy, in it's own way of course - not an inclusive way. And much of the west, was settled by people from south of the appalachian mt. barrier, even on up into Oregon.
Most people, places , times, and groups, are mixtures of simultaneous and often seriously conflicting ideas and values.
What fascinates me, is seeing the development of this stuff over time. There are strong ebbs and flows.

Thank you, to those that commented on the condecension, [arg! no claims here about being able to spell]. History has always been a pleasure and avocation, throughout my life. It's like the plant world though, big and complex, With many different ways of looking at the same thing, and many things that are hard to organize ways of looking at because they are so broad, complex, and out of our immediate purview, and out of our usual ' take' on things. Opinions and world views simplify things. I try to look at things from the viewpoint of the times first. I'm always on the lookout for the telling unexpected detail,
That has been present in much of what I have tried to add to this discussion. Sometimes I get sloppy and just go into mental shorthand, leaving out the obvious, which many of you have been kind enough to add.
Political correctness is in general a good thing, but not when it gets pavlovian, or smothers discussion. Jumping all over people, not only distracts, it gets in the way of, being able to look at ideas, and tug at interesting nuances.
What are the starting places to describe this issue? What are useful facts? constructs? Has something important been left behind?
In the US, religion started in the early days with dissenters. From, um, how 'bout things that were not progressive? It wasn't good enough. so they need progress - reforms, outgrowths, new ideas. There, marshall neat and nice, you fill in the blanks.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Althea and Mom--I assure you, I did not even remotely have either of you in mind. If it makes you feel better,

No, it doesn't, I think it is still a rude remark, no matter who it's aimed at.

This post was edited by momj47 on Wed, Apr 2, 14 at 11:41


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Again

Christianity has had a dominant religious role in America, So if you're going to look at religious impulses, it's a good thing to examine in detail.

" American history as an affirmation of Christianity is just plain incorrect. It celebrates Christianity only if you omit everything else. "

Well this is interesting, It certainly takes what I said for a long walk. It goes a ways towards explaining your upset.

The religion of the majority of americans from the earliest days through the 20th cen. has been Christianity. So you are arguing with them. If there is, or has there been, a "Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism" we should look there first. There is an intertwining, you're making me repeat myself because you've been upset.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Christianity has had a dominant religious role in America. And it is Protestant Christianity, not just "any" Christianity.

Christianity has had an unfair advantage over any and every other religion since the founding of America, in all aspects of American life and law.

That unfair advantage should end, as soon as possible.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Florey. I disagree with your interpretation of American history. I don't believe that religious belief had a thing to do with wealthy plantation owners expanding into new areas to exploit and to expand slavery at the same time. to make slavery ubiquitous to the point that it would be impossible to reign in its expansion was very much the focus of their acts. You can go to the congressional records of the 1820's and 30's and read all about it. As for States rights or what you are calling Participatory Democracy -it begs the issue of who gets to participate doesn't it?

If a Chinese peasant in 1763 got exactly the same sense of spiritual uplifting and peace when he prayed in front of the little mud shrine dedicated to the particular god of his rice field as any Protestant or Catholic praying to a more widely accepted god then do we conclude that the spiritual uplifting sense is inherent in humans or do we think that it is given to us by our gods? People who prayed in the temples of Greece had the same sense of closeness to their gods and yet virtually no one believes in those gods today. I personally believe that a sense of spirituality is in my DNA just as altruism is. I feel good when I help other people just like a crow apparently does because they practice altruism as well. For us to see our spiritual world from the point of view of our dominant religion is a factor of our blindness to outside views. We cram everything into the same box even if some bits stick out.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

A comment on spiritual depth.

That is certainly not confined to those of Judeo-Christian cultural heritage.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

  • Posted by rosie Southeast 7A/B (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 2, 14 at 15:57

Hear, hear. :)


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivis

The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism.

Do not make assumptions of my belief systems, then try to explain them for me. This pontificating is arrogant, Not a bit progressive, if that is your aim.
Mom and pat-
You're drifting too far from the shore.

Marshall, interesting post. Lost track that you were looking in the 20th cen. Do check out the roots of protestantism. Actual protests were carried out for the sake of progress. (: J. Calvin, and much later the Great Awakening are surprisingly great progressive influences, but will also give you fits. That dig, at my larning, was snide and uncalled for, so go have a beer with Hay.

Sable and lionheart have had a lot to add to my understanding. [Do you also like Lindsey Davis' Falco series, of `~19 mysteries set in Rome?]

I do have a great deal of affection and respect, for all the inhabitants of this continent, past and present, of whatever belief system.
And the one south of here. Together we've had a unique opportunity to look at a clash of continents with their attendant world views of this and that group.
The term El Dia de la Raza sums up the mishmash, and hints at all the heartache and courage.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

David you are right. thanks for the deep breath, you too Rosie. Compassion in animals isn't that uncommon these days.
It couldn't have been unknown BC in religions either. It is nice to spell it out as a value, and toTry to live up to it. Corporate value statements anyone(:


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

What you don't get, florey, is that I am not "upset." I just think you are wrong--but you refuse to consider any views but your own and accuse anyone who disagrees with you of being rude or arrogant or ignorant.

Do you not understand the idea that Christianity makes up its own version of history--to fit the story it tells itself? That is a commonplace idea among historians nowadays. And yes, non-Christians make up their own version of history also--to fit the stories they tell themselves. In fact, everybody makes up it own version of history--to fit the story they tell themselves. And that includes you and me. All we can judge is which story is more comprehensive and accounts for more aspects of the facts under consideration and consider what facts are omitted and how important that is or is not. (I'm omitting actual mistakes some might make about the actual facts--obviously that would also undermine certain versions.) In the end, some stories are better told than some others and some stories make more sense out of the facts and some stories gain wider acceptance in society.

The more interesting question to me is WHY different people/groups make up the stories they do. What are they trying to accomplish by telling the story that way rather than some other way. And if politics enter in, what political agenda is that way of telling the story trying to accomplish.

On a more general note, I do wish you would get over accusing anyone who has a different idea than you do of being rude and ignorant or upset. On a discussion forum you are always going to have people with differing views.

On the other hand, if you only want to allow posters who agree with you, I guess you can go on talking mainly to yourself. I've made my point several times now--not that you have ever stopped to consider the implications of it, as far as I can tell. But here it is one last final time--
"It all depends on who is telling the story and what values they are trying to communicate." --
and that is all I have say as I leave this thread to you.

Kate


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"Mimesis" by Erich Auerbach

"An excellent book on the subject of the primary influences on Western thought and practices is "Mimesis", by Erich Auerbach. Unparalled and still unsurpassed."

Thanks for the tip, Sable.

I hunted it up on Amazon and ordered a copy; am looking forward to reading it.

Apparently it is still being used in some university courses.
All those reviewing it praised it to the skies on Amazon.

I wonder what he would have thought of Camille Paglia's "Sexual Personae"?


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Whose shore? Yours?


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

From the OP link;

" Not just those(Occupy Wall Street) protestors, but nearly everyone today is driven by supernatural concerns."

This is nothing more than a religious, spiritual person grasping for meaning in life and assigning religious, spiritual, and supernatural explanations to everyday events and to the motivations of everyday people.
Thus, it is not surprising that this motivated some of us here to do the same thing.
And that basically just reinforces Kate's point.

This post was edited by heri_cles on Wed, Apr 2, 14 at 20:45


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

One thing I've gathered, over time, is that many agnostics spend as much time trivializing religious attempts as some religious spend justifying them.

i am glad I don't feel compelled to instantaneously categorize and then judge everything. It's much more interesting to me to just take things in and mull them over.

However, imo when one tries to weaken the support of religion one is also weakening the basic moral underpinnings of a society, whether one accepts responsibility for that or not. If the religious right were to suddenly drop religion, what would we be left with?

Patriciae, I didn't understand your question.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

•Posted by patriciae Z7PNW (My Page) on Wed, Apr 2, 14 at 19:29

"Whose shore? Yours?"

Eibren: "Patriciae, I didn't understand your question."

Patricia's referring to this post back at 16:28 by Florey:

•Posted by florey (My Page) on Wed, Apr 2, 14 at 16:28

"The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism.
Do not make assumptions of my belief systems, then try to explain them for me. This pontificating is arrogant, Not a bit progressive, if that is your aim.
Mom and pat-
You're drifting too far from the shore."

That is where the value of cut 'n paste, of posts one is responding to, lies. Just a tad easier to follow the discussion and respond appropriately. I for one will never accuse someone of being the "queen of cut and paste" for doing this.

So Eibren, it's Florey's shores that Patricia is curious about.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Thanks, Elvis.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

I would have to say that Patriciae, Kate, and Heri are right on point, here...

Who's "story" are we to conclude is the most accurate and telling of truth? The one viewed from the narrow parameters of an exclusive religion? Or the one that steps back from all religions and just professes the facts?


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Thank you Elvis, I should have specified florey.

Having lived vast chunks of my life in the south where Christianity in all its splendor is everywhere I can understand how easy it is for people to think that is a normal state of affairs and everyone believes as you do for the same reasons you do because that was pretty much what I faced living there. I remember being very much startled to learn that my dearly beloved very religious grannie did not believe that Catholics were Christians, a subject that didn't come up until one of my brothers married a Catholic. I don't know how she would explain the spiritual life of Catholics except I suppose she would think it was Satan influencing their lives. I don't have to of course because as I said before I believe spirituality came first and gods and religion second.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Whazzis????

"Christianity has had an unfair advantage over any and every other religion since the founding of America, in all aspects of American life and law.

That unfair advantage should end, as soon as possible. "
!!!!!

Gee, kate, there are never enough lions around when you want them, are there?

What about the music, do we have to give up Bach and Little Richard too?
The Constitution? Darn sneaky aspect, too, idealism.

...

Well, Pat, now that you do say that you are looking at me, through a lens that has that particular southern, curve in it, I do understand your being put on guard.

When I heard that same KKK crap when I was a kid , I had the same reaction, as you. What a lot of disgusting invidious crap it is. All that prejudice crap.

That is not my view. It is a very limited one, and awful. I have complained before about tv and radio pronouncements, having little if anything to do with Christianity. Hearing that stuff turns my stomach.
Again, what I do like is the- love thy neighbor - basis , kindness, [and some of the music (: ].

However, you have been lecturing me, as if I were espousing slavery, which is really offensive. I am not your Grannie, I am a different person, with a very different take on Christianity. I do not share her take on history, either. I value comparing contexts, checking facts, and do not neatly package idea systems. You have been pigeonholing me, along with your grannie's prejudices, please stop. I'm glad your grannie was other wise wonderful.

Most of what I wrote was if anything, from more of a northeast bias - abolitionist country, don't forget! I am quite familiar with the lead up to the civil war.
Some Christians, are so mild on the dogma, the others don't want to play with them anymore. Lots of city ones. Do even Unitarians [!] bug you as being unfair?

In trying to lay out some important early cultural influences on progressivism, I wasn't expecting to have to defend every crosscurrent. I don't espouse every crosscurrent either.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Eibren - I hope you enjoy Mimesis! At least you'll be spared deconstructionist lit.crit., since Auerbach died before that form of criticism became popular. I didn't read the whole book, just the parts that were relevant for my thesis. Maybe let me know what you think? I've attached below a translation of the book's most famous chapter, The Scar of Odysseus, so that you'll know what you're in for. You can also google Osysseus's Scar; it's dealt with on Wiki and in many other places. Just for a taste!

Florey - I have not read the Falco series, but just looked at my TBR pile and found The Silver Pigs. Who knew? I do like Steven Saylor and his Gordiamus the Finder. I love Gordiamus and his odd little family. They are the epitome of compassion and kindness and love, and pre-Christian, too!

Althea - I really did not care for much of what Andre Vitchek was ranting about. Like you, I also thought of Goya and Picasso. But my real complaint is that he ignores the fact that the mediums for getting across social messages have changed. The Vast Majority of people do not go to art galleries and museums today. Paintings and sculpture are not the best way to inform the public, because now we have...photography! Do we look for a painting from Vietnam when we have the picture of the Vietnamese officer shooting his captive point-blank in the head on a Saigon street? Of the image of that little girl, naked and screaming and running from a blast of napalm? The young student facing the tank in Tiananmen Square? The concentration camps and the Battle of Stalingrad and the Cultural Revolution? And with Youtube and the Internet, almost eveything that can be recorded is being recorded. If you want to watch the beheading and evisceration of someone in Syria, you can find it. It's all there, courtesy of computers.

I'd say that we are infinitely better informed than in past days, because of the camera and the monitor, and in these times of near-universal literacy (except for certain benighted regions of the world).

And there is a whole genre of paintings by the American military, from WW2 on; it's housed in a museum and sometimes has exhibits that travel. We went to one out here. It was clear that we were looking at the horrors of war, painted by those who experienced it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bedtime reading... : o}


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Sable, hi, don't hope for too much sweetness and light in the Falco series. Do the first few in order.
Loved the history [she's an Oxford grad]. She get's things right. Historic liberties, even in fiction, just drive me nuts. Books are set in many settings, of the roman empire. Some bits are really funny. , Read several ~a dozen years ago, because they were so well done. Then having lost my taste for gristle, let them alone. Just picked up a big handful again at a yard sale. The flippancy about the body count , had gotten annoying after a while. She's a much smoother writer now.

Thanks for the change of pace. I'm still rubbing bruises from the pile on. There is a difference between trying to explain something, reportage, - and selling a world view, and one I don't espouse. Obviously, I did a lousy job making that clear.
Frankly, I didn't want to, they got my back up.
We didn't have any - hate selling rabies, in the old line churches of the town, or the temples or the Catholic churches. where I grew up and I'm thankful for it. Old line churches have been fading, in favor of the showy. Most were dull, some awfully do goody, also some a bit stuffy. There would be readings from the old and new testament, a profession of faith, hymns and a mild sermon, nothing flashy. Not that interesting, really. I squirmed.
Some people mistake rabid tv 'product' , some actually do use that word, for previous incarnations, of the quieter more personal worship, of former times, of many people I have known and respected.
There is a huge difference.


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Odysseus's Scar

Thanks for the link, Sable; an interesting comparison which helps me to see why reading the Odyssey caused me to zone out, whereas reading the Christian Bible frequently stressed me out. I am eagerly awaiting Auerbach's book.

Florey, I believe you would also find Sable's link interesting.

My picture of Western life prior to Judeo-Christian times is one of unremitting savagery, from which portions of the world gradually extricated themselves with the assistance of religion.

Since Jesus is believed to have studied in India and to have, returned to Israel with his teachings, it seems to me that other parts of the world may have developed a moral consciousness similar to the one we have today before ours did.

Without the Judeo-Christian tradition, I don't think we'd be talking about equal rights or anything similar at this point.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

and from the suggested Wikipedia link:

"Several common critical objections to Auerbach’s essay have been that the passages he chose for close reading were not sufficiently representative of the two texts. Some scholars maintain, instead, that the poetry (rather than the prose) of the Old Testament would be more appropriate for comparison to Homer's verse.

Unsurprisingly, much of the criticism of this essay has come from classicists, many of them finding Auerbach's reading of The Odyssey overly simplistic. Another argument is that Auerbach failed to take into account that the Odyssey may have been the written record of an orally told work, and that therefore the reality it represents is not the story of Odysseus, but rather the telling of the story of Odysseus. Such an interpretation would perhaps partly account for the work’s thoroughly-articulated and background-less style.

Although Auerbach explicitly states in his essay that he chose the particular texts of the Odyssey and the Old Testament because of their subsequent influence on Western literature, some scholars have questioned whether he may also have had political motivations for writing a piece comparing a sacred Jewish text to the Odyssey, perhaps by using it as an analogy for the conflict between Judeo-Christian tradition and the Aryan Nazism flourishing in Europe at the time of Mimesis’ writing."
=========================

Back on the topic of the OP, there is no "religious impulse" imprinted on the human brain of progressives or of any other political group. In that sense ontogeny does not recapitulate phylogeny.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

I think that, in a big way, technology has made me look more critically at the world around me... and out there... and it's made it more real to deduce that religion is only small part of it all... and one that doesn't really compute... logically speaking. For me, anyway.

I had to step outside that box... but I'm glad I did. It places everything in a much clearer perspective.

I think that morality is the thing that evolved, and religions were then built. That's the reality the sciences would show us, anyway.

I think that religion is the glue that helps with justification of things that don't meet morality's core, if you get my drift.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

There's no rosy fingered dawn, here today, Eibren (: It's overcast.
Yes, it looks fascinating on a quick read, which is sure not enough time to take it all in.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

"...ontogeny does not recapitulate phylogeny."

Nothing like running far from into the fields of irrelevance. The OP suggests that the roots of human spiritual awe does not require religious beliefs although religiosity in human cultures influence spiritual awareness and expressions.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

There is an evolutionary advantage to cooperation. Which, by definition, requires some population - family unit, village.

For this to work, then one has to show some empathy, compassion, understanding for others in your group.

But somewhere in there is a fine line - just how big a group?

Somewhere along, humans developed a distrust for unknown and unfamiliar people - something that can be manipulated to greater good, ie looking out for people half-way around the world who look and speak funny, or exploited for horrors over history.

/rambling musings.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

For once, I agree with hay, and I think he summed it up nicely:

Gobbledy gook

An excelltent example of Gobbledy gook:

Not just those(Occupy Wall Street) protestors, but nearly everyone today is driven by supernatural concerns

Huh? Occupy Wall Street is driven by supernatural concerns? Nearly everyone is?

Sorry, but I couldn't read the rest. What a bunch of garbage.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Perhaps your challenge is in defining "supernatural". Ghosts? Aliens? Werewolves? Vampires? Poltergeists? Zeus? Ganesha? God? Fairies? Thor?

From the context of the article, I recommend "morality", "righteousness", "compassion" as above or overriding most natural concerns of living personal lives.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Those are natural concerns in my world, Marshallz... sans any religiosity.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Perhaps you're right marshall. I don't equate "morality", "righteousness", "compassion" with supernatural. To me, they are just natural for any good person. Religion has absolutely nothing to do with it. In fact, to me it's better if it comes from a non-religous viewpoint. I do and have those things because it's the right thing to do. Not because I am fearful of angering some god. Not because I am fearful of being refused entrance to some mythical place after I die.

Therefore, disagreeing with the author on his basic premise, it was hard for me to continue.

This post was edited by jillinnj on Fri, Apr 4, 14 at 18:12


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Jill, I gave the writer the benefit of doubt on the meaning of the word. What I believe she is implying is that even protesters were yearning for a high purpose or set of principles for society and for themselves. For the writer, progressive Protestantism influenced many lay people of influence over the years, giving supporting ethos to those among us today who do not believe in God or other higher deity.

The Ten Commandments may have been derived from the Old Testament and the Golden Rules by early Greek philosophers, both sets generating and supporting peoples of faith (and in just societies, people without faith.)


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Marshall: "Perhaps your challenge is in defining "supernatural".

I think the challenge is in figuring out how the author defines "supernatural."

From the OP: "Now, two years later, this book is my answer: Not just those protestors, but nearly everyone today is driven by supernatural concerns, however much or little they realize it."


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

That's my point, elvis. But I'm not about to buy her book to read deeper. I ignored the facile interpretation and went with what followed that odd use of the word in this context. Maybe I am wrong (hard to believe that, I'm sure!) ;>)


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Maybe she defines the "supernatural" as Adam Smith's Invisible Hand of the Market. :D


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Or the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Marshall, it is possible that use of the particular word was inadvertent...or was that resultant 'facile interpretation' the goal all along, I wonder. Perhaps the author was aiming for a very particular audience.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Or in this age of the webheads and aps that "correct" spelling, the word slipped through editing processes.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

David's musings:

"There is an evolutionary advantage to cooperation. Which, by definition, requires some population - family unit, village.
For this to work, then one has to show some empathy, compassion, understanding for others in your group.

But somewhere in there is a fine line - just how big a group?

Somewhere along, humans developed a distrust for unknown and unfamiliar people - something that can be manipulated to greater good, ie looking out for people half-way around the world who look and speak funny, or exploited for horrors over history.

/rambling musings."

Hay's rambling musings:

It's funny that we have the term, "Mother Nature", which conjures up the image of a nurturing, kind, loving.. Mother. Fact is, "Mother Nature" is brutal, violent, totally uncaring....

There was a famous economist who said something along the lines of, "If your model disagrees with what you see, recheck your model". Pretty basic truth.

I've often wondered if there could be an evolutionary advantage to, in David's words, "Somewhere along, humans developed a distrust for unknown and unfamiliar people".... Racism, in other words.

Is there an evolutionary advantage of any sort for racism? Forget, for the moment, any ideas of good and bad, and realizing that Mother Nature is not as caring as we'd like.

I ask you. If you were Mother Nature, wouldn't you want to create as much diversity in the world as you could? If we'd all been created to be like dinosaurs nothing would be here today to tell the tale. I just fed my little dinosaur relatives, the Chickadee, that managed to survive.

And how does Mother Nature create diversity? Racism?

"/rambling musings.

Hay


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

I have to agree with Jill.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

No, random mutations and extinctions. There is no morality in Nature, mother or otherwise and discomforting to some as these words may be.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

David made the point I was trying to make earlier, up-thread, about cooperation of the human species being advantageous.

I agree with Jill and Jodik.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

•Posted by marshallz10 z9-10 CA (My Page) on Fri, Apr 4, 14 at 21:49

"Or in this age of the webheads and aps that "correct" spelling, the word slipped through editing processes."

I don't think so, but perhaps. I don't use spellchuck myself.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

Empathy and this sense of cooperation has some sort of genetic base. It does take a village to raise up the next successful generation.

Perhaps the distrust of 'others' is a learned habit. Kids who start off as toddlers playing with kids from some other race manage to get along just fine.

This post was edited by david52 on Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 13:06


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

We see the learned behavior in pets and working animals coming to interact amongst themselves wherein their wild relatives would be in prey-and-predator relationships.


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RE: The Religious Impulse Behind Progressivism

There will always be times, such as the present ebola crisis in West Africa, when it will be advantageous to avoid strangers. The American Indians discovered the same thing when they began dying from European diseases such as smallpox. Such individuals will pass along their genes to their decendents.

During times of famine, many will probably not wish to share with such types, and more altruistic people may possibly do better. For example.


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