General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Steve Barber
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Postby Steve Barber » Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:34 pm

As I'm certain each of you will agree, the majority of all religious stripes tend to be reasonable, sane individuals.

It is the fringe and the disenfranchised across all groups that tend to be extremists.

I have no statistics, but a percentage of that percentage undoubtedly self-identified as agnostic or atheist prior to their conversions -- it's the difficulties of life which tend to radicalize the people who are suffering through them, if they are prone to such radicalization to begin with (and I recognize that the vast majority of "everyone" tend to have difficulties without succumbing to radicalization).

I think the direct connection you're attempting to make between "everyday religious believers" and their radicalized cousins is a stretch, even here in the good ol' US of A where latent Puritanism has made people a bit less tolerant than they should be. (I am descended from one o' them Puritans, though in his case he was a hired hand.) (John Alden, the cooper for the Mayflower.)
All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Lori Koonce
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Postby Lori Koonce » Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:54 pm

Steve ... schler.htm[url][/url] is the website where I came up with the following list.

. Mayanamar/Burma 1948 Buddhists vs. Christians
2. Israel/Palestinian 1968 Jews vs. Arabs )Muslims-Christians)
3. Northern Ireland 1969 Catholic vs. Protestants
4. Philippines (Mindanao) 1970 Muslims vs. Christians (Catholics)
5. Bangladesh 1973 Buddhists vs. Christians
6. Lebanon 1975 Shiites supported by Syria (Amal) vs. Shiites supported by Iran (Hezbollah)
7. Ethiopia (Oromo) 1976 Muslims vs. Central government
8. India (Punjab) 1982 Sikhs vs. Central government
9. SudanWITH 1983 Muslims vs. Native religions
10. Mali-Tuareg Nomads 1990 Muslims vs. Central government
11. Azerbejdan 1990 Muslims vs. Christian Armenians
12. India (Kasjmir) 1990 Muslims vs. Central government (Hindu)
13. Indonesia (Aceh) 1990 Muslims vs. Central government (Muslim)
14. Iraq 1991 Sunnites vs. Shiites
15. Yugoslavia (Croatia) 1991 Serbian orthodox Christians vs. Roman Catholic Christians
16. Yugoslavia (Bosnia) 1991 Orthodox Christians vs. Catholics vs. Muslims
17. Afghanistan 1992 Fundamentalist Muslims vs. Moderate Muslims
18. Tadzhikistan 1992 Muslims vs. Orthodox Christians
19. Egypt 1977 Muslims vs. Central government (Muslim) Muslims vs. Coptic Christians
20. Tunesia 1978 Muslims vs. Central government (Muslim)
21. Algeria 1988 Muslims vs. Central government
22. Uzbekisgtan 1989 Sunite Uzbeks vs. Shiite Meschetes
23. India (Uthar- Pradesh) 1992 Hindus vs. Muslims
24. Sri Lanka 1983 Hindus vs. Muslims

While it is possible that a list at least this long if not longer could be made for the non religious, if you take a look at this, some of these fights are still on going, for example number 23. That to me is a good reason to get rid of religion as much as possible.

Sam Harris has written a great book on how to be spiritual without religion. IMO this is the way we should be going.

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Postby FrankChurch » Sat Dec 20, 2014 4:28 pm

Christmas is a bit underwhelming this year.

Mark Tiedemann
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Postby Mark Tiedemann » Sun Dec 21, 2014 8:41 am


I agree, most people are sane and reasonable when given the room to be so. I feel that they are despite religion and they bring an innate sanity to their faith rather than derive any from faith. Hard proposition to prove, but as I've said before I don't believe religion makes anyone a better person, just gives them a structure in which to hide their evil selves, even from themselves. I suppose if the net result is they stop abusing animals and taunting the helpless, it's a good thing.

That said, one of the key problems with religion, which is exemplified by the religious aspect of things like AA, is the "you have no power" riff, which while existentially relevant in some ways, has the unfortunate result of making people vulnerable to being directed. Yes, you do have power. You have the power to deny bullshit when you see it. You have the power to say "I'm not going to agree to that." You may end up having no choice about it, due to group coercion, but that's not the same thing by a longshot as the acolyte who willing surrenders every bit of personal judgment to the cause.

People who refuse to hand over everything are often characterized by those who do as arrogant and sometimes blind, but all they're doing is saying "I'll take credit or blame for my own actions, thank you very much" and that is sometimes seen as a threat.

Every religion has this surrender of will as a component. And for me, no matter how benign the religion, this is a theft, an enslavement, and fundamentally immoral. We should teach people how to manage their own power and responsibilities, not tell them they have none and can't really do anything. Such people latch onto any piece of flotsam to keep from drowning and end up in some very dicey places sometimes.

And so, yes, most people seem to be sane and reasonable---despite whatever religion to which they adhere. For them, religion is a nice suit they wear on special occasions that shows off their qualities well. Not a straitjacket they wear because they can't tell the difference.

My two-cents, adjusted for inflation.

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Steve Barber
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Postby Steve Barber » Sun Dec 21, 2014 10:42 am

Mark -
I genuinely like that's remarkably spot-on with my own concerns regarding religion. How many things do followers buy into which fly overtly in the face of established facts? (Evolution; the age of the Universe; etc.)

You're quite correct that the sheeplike mind-set is the primary fallacy -- giving oneself up to God does not negate responsibility, nor should it intimate blind obedience to the people running the church.

Excellent post.
All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Dec 25, 2014 11:23 pm

“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Postby FrankChurch » Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:44 pm

Notice the great distance, the void? We need to start creating less voids, more peaceful universes.

We also need more cartesians.

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