Book Fetishism

Steven L Taylor at OTB dissects the fussing over teaching of the Federalist Papers. Teabaggers apparently think that the Papers are not studied in college (they are) and that they’re some kind of secret decoder ring telling us what’s really going on in the Constitution (they’re not). Taylor’s post is worth a read for the details.

This strikes me as of a piece with the recent butthurt over Dan Savage’s “bullshit” comments, where he pointed out that it’s the picking and choosing of Bible verses that determines “what the Bible says” in evangelical Christian culture. The uproar over this was a solid case of the emperor’s new clothes–how dare Savage point out that the process by which something is discarded and other things are canonical is arbitrary and driven by human whim?

If you’re the right kind of flim-flam man, find yourself a text that’s obscure, lengthy and stylistically impenetrable to modern readers. Then, come up with an exegesis of what that text “says”, hopefully one that reinforces the prejudices and predilections of some narrow band of easily led rubes. You’ll make big bank until you’re uncovered. This is what’s happened with the Federalist papers and the teabaggers, and it’s what certain preachers do with the Bible. There’s nothing really complex or new going on here, but boy do the flim-flammers squeal when they’re found out.

216 replies
  1. 1
    jibeaux says:

    This is what’s happened with the Federalist papers and the teabaggers, and its what certain preachers do with the Bible.

    You forgot the Constitution! Yep, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the right to own a bazooka; prayer in schools; no federal power to do things you don’t like; it’s all in there!

  2. 2
    c u n d gulag says:

    Thanks for the post!

    I’ve been telling people that “Goodnight Moon” explains the coming One World Order, and all of the thing’s we Liberty and Freedom loving Patriots will have to give-up when the Socialist/Fascist/Communist/Muslim/Atheist/Sharia Revolution arrives.

    God, and I thought all of these years, I was all alone…

    WOLVERINES!

  3. 3
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    Aren’t there parts of Leviticus that, if taken literally, allow you to beat your wife and kids and crazy shit like that?

  4. 4
    Ash Can says:

    You’ll make big bank until you’re uncovered.

    Actually, you’ll still make big bank if that happens, because the rubes following you will refuse to believe their own lying eyes and continue to let you fleece them. It’s the greatest racket in the world.

  5. 5
    Chris says:

    This strikes me as of a piece with the recent butthurt over Dan Savage’s “bullshit” comments, where he pointed out that it’s the picking and choosing of Bible verses that determines “what the Bible says” in evangelical Christian culture.

    You know, at least the Catholics TELL YOU that they’re turning over the power of speaking for God to a senile old man in the Vatican. The fundiegelicals do the same but just have to pretend “oh no, we’re just taking the Bible literally, doncha know.”

  6. 6
    Lit3Bolt says:

    Preach the Prosperity Gospel, mistermix!

    Our entire economy is based on flim-flam. If we don’t get those Social Security checks from dementia-addled seniors, some other guy will! Gotta fleece ’em all!

  7. 7
    rlrr says:

    If you’re the right kind of flim-flam man, find yourself a text that’s obscure, lengthy and stylistically impenetrable to modern readers.

    David Barton, for example.

  8. 8
    rlrr says:

    @Chris:

    You know, at least the Catholics TELL YOU that they’re turning over the power of speaking for God to a senile old man in the Vatican. The fundiegelicals do the same but just have to pretend “oh no, we’re just taking the Bible literally, doncha know.”

    I know Southern Baptists who won’t take a dump without consulting with their pastor.

  9. 9
    Chris says:

    @peach flavored shampoo:

    Aren’t there parts of Leviticus that, if taken literally, allow you to beat your wife and kids and crazy shit like that?

    There’s a part that commands that rape victims should have to marry their attackers. Swear I’m not making this up. (It’s Deuteronomy, but Leviticus, but same Bible).

    There’s some egregious laws in the Bible, but that one’s always stood out as the single proof that if that thing was divinely inspired, we SERIOUSLY need to start questioning what kind of God is worth following those rules.

  10. 10
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @jibeaux: Ted Cruz, one of the people running for Hutchison’s seat here in Texas, has an add where he claims to be both a defender of the Constitution and a Sovereign.

  11. 11
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @jibeaux:

    You left out the part where Madison, Franklin, and Jefferson were personally inspired by Jeebus himself, in robes of shimmering samite, bringing forth Excalibur from the waters, and declared that the United States would be a Christian nation forever, as enshrined in the preamble of the Constitution.

  12. 12
    rlrr says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    That’s pretty much what David Barton wants us all to believe.

  13. 13
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @peach flavored shampoo: I’m working on a t-shirt that will say something like “Fred’s Barn Building. Men, do you have trouble following ? Let us build that barn for you.” The verse in question is the one that says that women must be separated from the men for the week of their period and the one after.

  14. 14
    Steve says:

    I don’t think the Federalist Papers are so impenetrable. They’re not the Rosetta Stone or anything, but the arguments are pretty easy to follow. And Hamilton should be the favorite Founding Father of every modern progressive.

  15. 15

     The uproar over this was a solid case of the emperor’s new clothes

    Maybe it was mean. But I really don’t think so.

  16. 16
    rlrr says:

    @Chris:

    I’ve concluded that if the Bible is literally true, then God is a monster.

  17. 17
    Chris says:

    Gotta go but before I do, this unforgettable dialogue from the West Wing belongs here:

    Bartlett: “I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.”
    Dr. Jacobs: “I don’t say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.”
    Bartlett: “Yes it does. Leviticus.”
    Dr. Jacobs: “18:22.”
    Bartlett: “Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She’s a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff Leo McGarry insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police? Here’s one that’s really important ’cause we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town: Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you? One last thing: While you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits.”

  18. 18
    Nick says:

    I’m currently reading the Federalist Papers and 1), I don’t think they are that difficult to read, and 2), at least the first 15 or so installments provide arguments for the broad powers of the federal government to regulate the states (Obamacare, gun regulations, etc.).

    They read as a nice discussion of human psychology as applied to political organization. Using common sense and historical allusions, they point out why certain policies are preferable to others (a strong centralized government is preferred to a loose confederation of states (10th Amendment, bitches!).

    If you’re so disposed, read it and then go trolling.

  19. 19
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rlrr:

    I’ve concluded that if the Bible is literally true, then God is a monster.

    That certainly explains Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Ratzi the Nazi, and Sarah Palin.

  20. 20
    Nick says:

    In comments, Taylor notes:

    “[M]any people who claim to revere the Federalist Papers actually make arguments that are far closer to those found in the Anti-Federalist writing. This is especially true of the Tea Party.”

    Ha!

  21. 21
    jibeaux says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Now that is something.

  22. 22
    Roger Moore says:

    @Chris:

    The fundiegelicals do the same but just have to pretend “oh no, we’re just taking the Bible literally, doncha know.”

    The tell is when they start talking about which translation to trust. They don’t really know what’s in the Bible; they know what some translating committee has decided to tell them about what’s in the Bible. And if you don’t believe that the translation makes a difference, try looking at some parallel translations sometime.

  23. 23
    rlrr says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    To be fair, Catholics aren’t supposed to be biblical literlalists…

  24. 24
    JoeShabadoo says:

    i hate how fundies glue themselves to that old testament stuff. Christians should be focused on the new testament and Jesus.

  25. 25
    Corbin Dallas Multipass says:

    Is Berkowitz obligated to enter this dialog or does the piece simply stand without any sort of rebuttal?

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rlrr:

    Yeah, but Benedict has demonstrated that he’s a monster, nevertheless. Same with his new Cardinals, particularly Dolan, who actively participated in boy buggering coverups.

  27. 27
    uila says:

    Can we all at least agree that the King James version is the one true biblical text and that the Good News translation is satanic hippie trash?

  28. 28
    Bob2 says:

    We should add Ayn Rand, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman to this list of intentionally misconstrued writers.

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @uila:

    Well, the King James version does have the benefit of being in the original Aramaic.

    Oh, wait…

  30. 30

    The fundies are particularly bad about this, but most Protestantism is based on swallowing whole the Catholic Church’s interpretations of almost everything in the bible except the primacy of the Church itself. The Church has explanations for why you obey some parts and not other parts. I’m not saying they’re good explanations, but they’ve been wrangled over at great length.

    Fundies claim to have repudiated Church teachings to base their religion purely on the bible. Let me give you the simplest test of whether they’ve actually done so. What day does Christian Sect X worship the Sabbath? (Hint: If you say ‘Sunday’, you’re obeying an early Catholic church decision made for poorly recorded practical and political reasons, not religious.)

  31. 31
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    If you’re the right kind of flim-flam man, find yourself a text that’s obscure, lengthy and stylistically impenetrable to modern readers.

    Oh, this is too easy.

    The Wealth of Nations, in which it’s reduced to “the invisible hand” which appears, count it, ONE TIME in the text of hundreds of pages.

    As I’ve mentioned before, you can have great fun tossing verbatim quotes from Smith onto loonytarian sites and watch them denounce the vile commie.

  32. 32

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Oh, yeah. Oldest copy of the New Testament is the Book Of Kells, 700 years old and translated at least three times from the original. Oddly, the original Old Testament is easy to find. Judaism has a quality checking system for copying that has kept it intact in the original Hebrew. I don’t know the details, but apparently it worked.

  33. 33
    beergoggles says:

    As always it amuses me that those who claim the church isn’t all that bad, or that it’s only some parts of the church that are like it are nowhere to be found when the catholic church marches against civil rights.

    The only bigger hypocrites than those picking and choosing from the bible are the ones who follow along knowing it’s wrong but are unwilling to stand up to the rest of their country club.

  34. 34
    J.W. Hamner says:

    What’s weird about the Savage uproar is that it’s not like this is a new argument. People have been pointing out these contradictions for ages… so why the “How DARE you point out what the bible says you bigot!” now?

  35. 35
    Woodrowfan says:

    @uila:

    Actually I kind of like “Good News for Modern Man.” I wouldn’t use it in a Bible study class, but it’s a pleasant way to read some of the New Testament stories.

  36. 36
    Culture of Truth says:

    be sure to pick up the new book that says Thomas Jefferson wanted to ban contraception, or something.

  37. 37
    dmsilev says:

    Speaking of books, Maurice Sendak is dead. A moment of silence, and then let the wild rumpus begin.

  38. 38
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Steve:

    Well, I disagree. Madison should, because he told the religious nutbags of his time to shove it where the sun don’t shine, and put that attitude in Article VI.

  39. 39
    Xenos says:

    @Roger Moore: A number of evangelicals and fundies hold as a matter of doctrine that the King James Version is itself a divinely inspired translation, which is really, really, weird if you think about it.

    What the King James says, then, is the correct version even where there are obvious errors in translation. So did God think up the bible in Elizabethan English, and then back-translate it to Hebrew and Greek? It all sounds like one of those Google Translate disasters you run across sometimes.

    Now if you get to the parts in Exodus which imply π = 3.00, that can make for some really interesting conversations, too.

  40. 40
    Someguy says:

    If you find the Federalist Papers obscure and impenetrable, odds are pretty good you’re a moran.

  41. 41
    MTiffany says:

    they’re some kind of secret decoder ring telling us what’s really going on in the Constitution

    The Framers were so smart to anticipate Leo Strauss by one hundred plus years…

  42. 42

    @Frankensteinbeck: Oldest copy of the New Testament is Codex Siniaticus, 4th c.

  43. 43
    Steve says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Madison was good in the Convention and in the Federalist Papers, but in Congress he was a staunch advocate for states’ rights and an opponent of federal power in virtually every situation.

  44. 44
    Kevin says:

    Ditto with the Quran. Apparently the huge majority of it is about love and sensible moral codes, but like the Bibles the crazies cherry pick the vile parts to suit their agendas. The fundamentalists and con artists of both religions are more alike than either would care to admit.

  45. 45
    beergoggles says:

    @Xenos:

    Now if you get to the parts in Exodus which imply π = 3.00, that can make for some really interesting conversations, too.

    They’ve waved that away by claiming thickness of the circle and that one measurement is the inner part of it and the other is the outer part. Fundies can explain away anything that they want to believe. God of the gaps and all that.

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Steve:

    Steve, while that may be true, he stuck it hard to the religious asswipes of his time.

    A beacon for us all.

    @beergoggles:

    Their handwaving over the the problem of the rich man entering heaven being more difficult than a camel passing through the eye of a needle is equally hilarious.

    What putzes they be.

  47. 47
    rumpole says:

    It’s odd to me that they receive the deference that they do. They were basically newspaper op-eds written under pseudonyms. Instructive? Sure–it helps to know what people were thinking when they voted on ratification. Determinative? Hardly–imagine coming back in 200 years relying on the writings of George Will or Charles Krauthammer (or even Paul Krugman) as a basis to govern yourself.

  48. 48
    Cato says:

    No Christian group saw the Bible as some kind of Christian Koran (the unmediated, direct and literal word of God) until about 100-150 years ago. Christians for the first 1,900 years of their religion always said it was a book that required careful interpretation. The literalism of the last century is a fad confined to one or two centuries and within one place (North America).

  49. 49
    elmo says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Strange men, lying about in ponds, distributing papers, is no basis for a system of Government!

  50. 50

    The New Jerusalem bible (Catholic, actually) has the lyrical tone of the King James edition but is in modern English. Nice, from a literary standpoint.

  51. 51
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @elmo:

    At last! /highfive elmo!

    No one has yet caught the other oblique reference in that post. I’ll wait.

  52. 52
    Xenos says:

    @Cato: The orthodox Muslims at least are consistent, and have maintained that consistency. And as a person raised as a Christian it was pretty humbling to read the rather sophisticated and careful historical and textual analysis that Tafsir al-Tabari made of the text of the Koran so very soon after the prophet’s death. There is, of course, nothing so disciplined or authoritative about the forming of the Gospels.

  53. 53
    me says:

    Kthug smacks around Brooks.

  54. 54
    Roger Moore says:

    @Xenos:

    A number of evangelicals and fundies hold as a matter of doctrine that the King James Version is itself a divinely inspired translation, which is really, really, weird if you think about it.

    That’s nothing. It’s basically the icing on the cake of believing in the literal truth of a book that contradicts itself numerous times. My gut feeling is that the fundies like the KJV because it’s the only popular translation that antedates modern textual criticism, with all that says about the history of the Bible as a book.

  55. 55
    Redshift says:

    @Someguy: Well, the important thing is that you can *claim* it’s obscure and impenetrable to rubes you know will never read it anyway.

  56. 56
    Cato says:

    @Xenos:

    Easy to do when their Caliph had all the textual variants except his favored one buried and burned.

  57. 57
    kindness says:

    Wow. 50 posts and no one has called Dan Savage a misogynistic bigoted hater yet. I’d be glad but I remember last week’s thread. You go BJ’ers. Make us proud.

  58. 58
    dedc79 says:

    To paraphrase Homer Simpson: “Federalist Papers Schmederalist Papers! I can use the Federalist Papers to prove anything”

    Everyone loves to selectively cite to the papers. They are inconsistent with each other (it was an argument afterall) and many are internally inconsistent as well.

  59. 59
    Riilism says:

    Indeed, the main problem with almost all call backs to the Founders and Framers is that somehow a quotation from them equals a winning argument. That’s not how really argumentation works and nor it is appropriate analysis (or, for that matter, good history).

    This….

  60. 60
    Redshift says:

    @jibeaux: Absolutely. Originalism is nothing but “it’s not me saying this, it’s the Constitution.”

  61. 61
    redshirt says:

    “Appeals to Authority” are surprisingly effective on we, sociable, tribal monkeys.

  62. 62
    Redshift says:

    @Riilism: Authoritarians are all about arguments from authority. To them, it’s not a logical fallacy, it’s a way of life.

  63. 63
    Roger Moore says:

    @Linda Featheringill:
    If you’re interested only in the Hebrew Bible, I would strongly recommend Robert Alter’s translations. My impression is that his translation is unusually literal (including idioms that are usually interpreted rather than rendered literally) and he gives tons of footnotes and commentary. I think his work really shows the strength of having a single translator with a distinctive voice over the more common committee approach to the Bible. Of course it’s entirely possible that he’ll die before finishing the whole thing, which shows the downside of relying on a single translator.

  64. 64
    curiousleo says:

    If you have 30minutes today, please make calls to help get out the vote against the amendment on the ballot in NC. Every vote will matter. Any minute you can give will help.

    http://www.couragecampaign.org.....h-carolina

  65. 65
    jwb says:

    @beergoggles: It’s hard to gain traction with these sorts of arguments because fundies have all internalized the scholastic rule: encounter a contradiction, draw a distinction.

  66. 66
    sublime33 says:

    “find yourself a text that’s obscure, lengthy and stylistically impenetrable to modern readers. Then, come up with an exegesis of what that text “says”, hopefully one that reinforces the prejudices and predilections of some narrow band of easily led rubes.”

    Read “Helter Skelter” and see how little difference there is between how Charles Manson created a visionary philosophy and what Glenn Beck has been doing.

  67. 67
    Brooklyn Michael says:

    @rlrr: First name that popped into my head, too.

  68. 68
    John says:

    Oldest copy of the New Testament is the Book Of Kells, 700 years old and translated at least three times from the original.

    What on earth are you talking about? The Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus contain complete versions of the New Testament in the original Greek and date to the 4th Century AD.

  69. 69
    Cato says:

    @John:

    And there are fragments of the gospels and epistles even before then, including a fragment of John that dates to the 1st Century.

  70. 70
    jwb says:

    @me: Kthug’s comment section has been much better lately—it hasn’t generally been overwhelmed by trolls as it was for many years, but this post has already attracted two certifiables.

  71. 71

    @Davis X. Machina:
    How odd. The Book of Kells’ importance as the oldest manuscript was a major facet of my ancient Western literature classes.

    Looking at this, I think I see the issue. These Codices are not manuscripts by the same definition the Book of Kells is. This one is a heavily and repeatedly altered document that’s in pieces. It also wasn’t known about even to scholars until the mid 1800s, which is relevant to the practical effects of this conversation.

    Still, it’s good to know that there are much older Greek translations than I had been told existed. Thank you! Now I’m wondering what the best modern translations look like.

  72. 72
    Privatize the Profits! Socialize the Costs! says:

    Jesus never once mentioned abortion or homosexuality in the New Testament, but so-called Christians never tire of preaching about those topics.

    However, these same so-called Christians explicitly defy Jesus admonition against public prayer—

    Matthew 6:5: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.”

    ***********

    Those who claim to take the US Constitution literally never, ever mention three crucial words of the Second Amendment— “well regulated militia”.

    Nor do they dare “take literally” the fact that women did not have full citizenship rights when the Constitution was written, or that slavery was explicitly recognized as part of US law.

    **********

    These little facts are all that are necessary to understand that those who pretend to “take literally” either the Bible or the Constitution are big fat fucking liars.

  73. 73
    Cato says:

    @Privatize the Profits! Socialize the Costs!:

    “Well-regulated” in 18th Century English means “well supplied with ammo”. And at the time all free adult males were “the militia”. Just putting that out there.

  74. 74

    @John:
    Fuck, man, I can be wrong. Like everybody, I’m carrying around piles of information I’m not an intensely studied expert on, that I could have misunderstood, misremembered, or just plain been misinformed about.

    I’m assuming my lit history teacher knew about these codices, so I’m curious as to why she taught us what she did, but on my part this is clearly a mea culpa and time to update my knowledge.

  75. 75
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @rlrr:

    I dunno, aren’t they in some respects? Individual believers aren’t supposed to figure out the Bible for themselves, rather you have tradition, the church fathers, etc figuring out what the Bible says. But, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of passages that are to be taken literally. The Resurrection of Christ? I’m pretty sure those passages aren’t meant to be allegory.

  76. 76
    PurpleGirl says:

    @uila: Why? I don’t believe Jesus read or spoke The King’s English. A little Hebrew, more Aramaic, his followers had a little Greek. But I don’t think any of them knew English.

  77. 77
    Cato says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    He probably knew Hebrew pretty well since the NT has him preaching from the OT and he’s referred to as a rabbi, and probably had a fair command of Greek too given the hellenization of the East. Greek than was like English is today.

  78. 78
    Cato says:

    The KJV-onlyists are even nuttier because the KJV translation was done by the Anglican Church, which is not exactly fundamentalist and never has been.

  79. 79
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cato:

    Oh, bullshit.

    “Well regulated” means what it means, which is regularly drilled and subject to military discipline. It doesn’t mean you show up when you feel like it, or when it’s convenient. That’s the George W. Bush interpretation of “well regulated” which is why he is a deserting sack of shit.

  80. 80
    Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I’ll lob a scimitar at you

  81. 81
    redshirt says:

    For what it’s worth, if you want to bother using Judeo-Christian mythology against the Hypocrites, here’s the arrow of truth which shatters everything in the mythology:

    The Fall after Eve ate a FORBIDDEN APPLE from the Garden of Eden cursed every subsequent person born with Sin. The ONLY way to be cleaned of this Sin is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and God. The end.

    So yes, all of Christianity is implicitly dependent on a talking snake and a myth that has several different versions in the same book – Lilith who?

  82. 82
    Cato says:

    @redshirt:

    Uh, the text doesn’t say anything about an apple. It’s hard for me to take you seriously after that.

  83. 83
    redshirt says:

    @Cato: LOL. Oh noes! VICTORY troll won’t take me seriously?

  84. 84
    Paulk says:

    @rlrr: Except he’s been exposed numerous times as a lying fraud and it hasn’t don’t anything to hurt his career.

    Kind of depressing, actually.

  85. 85
    batgirl says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The tell is when they start talking about which translation to trust. They don’t really know what’s in the Bible; they know what some translating committee has decided to tell them about what’s in the Bible. And if you don’t believe that the translation makes a difference, try looking at some parallel translations sometime.

    When I was an undergrad I took a class on the Jewish Bible. There was a fundamentalist student in the class that refused to use the translation that the prof required. He got into an argument with the prof about a specific verse and its meaning claiming in foretold the coming of Jesus. She finally shut him up when she asked him if he could read the verse in the original Hebrew. He dropped the class after that. It was awesome!

  86. 86
    Woodrowfan says:

    Forbidden Apple!??!?! HERETIC! IT WAS A KUMQUAT! STONE HIM!!

  87. 87
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @redshirt:

    Yes, I know, the sting of not being taken seriously by a malfunctioning android worshiping douche must be unbearable.

  88. 88
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Cato: The last thing I’ll do is take biblical/historical criticism from an uneducated ass like you.

  89. 89
    Riilism says:

    @Redshift: IMO, people are far to often silenced when confronted with arguments from authority. I prefer to call them appeals to authority because they invariably possess a slavish, overly reverent tone as if they were invoking a slighted demigod in order to smite the less than subservient blasphemers.

    A review of history and historical views should be used as a starting point for discussion and not as an argument in and of itself. Given the complexity and often contradictory nature of the debate within and without our country’s founding, anyone positing that we “simply follow our founders intent”, absent careful and rational argumentation including both past and present experiences, circumstances and ubiquitous reevaluations, as an answer or as the answer to often inscrutable modern societal dilemmas should be frequently mocked and castigated as tea-leaf readers and horoscope casters….

  90. 90
    Terry says:

    One of my favs is when a local church posts something that is not from the Bible, nor pretending to be, but the communication is written in King James English. It’s as though if you are speaking holy thoughts you need to use the holy language. If they only knew more about King James.

  91. 91
    elmo says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    You mean the part about apes not reading philosophy?

  92. 92
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Riilism:

    Of course, the problem always is that “our Founders’ intent” is subject to a great deal of interpretation, because they’re not around to be waterboarded to tell us exactly what it was they intended.

    You can pretty much surmise from Jefferson’s writings, however, that he thought the idea of a wall between church and state was a pretty good idea, despite the efforts of fundigelical asswipes to deny such a thing ever was intended.

  93. 93
    gaz says:

    wow, busy thread.

    a couple of observations

    1. Fundamentalism is not restricted to religion, and it’s a dangerous mental illness.

    2. Jesus wasn’t cool with people beating other people over the head with scripture. That’s part of the reason the Pharisees irritated him so.

  94. 94
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @elmo:

    No. Has to do with one of the three names mentioned as being personally instructed by Jeebus in the writing of the Constitution.

    @gaz:

    Jesus wasn’t cool with people beating other people over the head with scripture. That’s part of the reason the Pharisees irritated him so.

    Funny that this is one of his alleged followers’ favorite pastimes.

  95. 95

    @Cato:

    Yup, getting the specific fruit wrong just blows away the whole thing. Do note Cato doesn’t mention the talking snake.

    Anyhoo, I should find a way to synchronize my troll filter across machines. Plonk.

  96. 96
    redshirt says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Truly. But the entire premise of Jesus rests on the myth of a talking snake. Run with that, Biblical Literalists.

  97. 97
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @gaz:

    Jesus wasn’t cool with people beating other people over the head with scripture. That’s part of the reason the Pharisees irritated him so

    Jesus was way cool.

  98. 98
    elmo says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Oh damn. Lost me on that one, then.

  99. 99
    burnspbesq says:

    @kindness:

    Wow. 50 posts and no one has called Dan Savage a misogynistic bigoted hater yet.

    Does it really need to be said yet again?

  100. 100
    redshirt says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Loved that song for a long time now. Jesus would be better than Gretzky, one assumes.

  101. 101
    gaz says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Funny that this is one of his alleged followers’ favorite pastimes.

    More sad than funny, IMO but yeah.

    I tend to refer to our christian nasties as pharisees.

  102. 102
    Yutsano says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: The Book of Kells is the oldest surviving illuminated manuscript from the medieval period. It’s also a fantastically inspired work of art in its own right. I think that might be your confusion, as there are older texts for sure, but none done in that highly stylized manner.

  103. 103
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water:

    Are you telling us you’re a moisened bint?

  104. 104
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Federalist Papers: alt.political-systems newsgroup, 200 years ahead of the internets.

  105. 105
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Are you telling us you’re a moisened bint?

    Hey! watch the language. this is a family blog.

  106. 106
    gaz says:

    @kindness: Well, it would be kind of off topic to do so, like Taco’s 2nd ammendment bullshit, but don’t get me started.

    OTOH, had Savage expressed himself in a manner more consistent with what mistermix had said up top, his points would have been more effective. Unfortunately Savage is pretty terrible at expressing his views without pissing people off (which is sort of his stock in trade, bless his heart)

  107. 107
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Message sent, message received, no reply.

  108. 108
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    this is a family blog.

    The sort of family that is depicted in Arrested Development

  109. 109
    gaz says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I love king missile, even though they are assholes.

  110. 110
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    As for Biggus Dickus’s intervention, the only quibble over “well-regulated” is whether the regulation of the militia is top-down or bottom-up. That’s something the drafters of that amendment couldn’t square between them, which is why it’s left as a fudge. It definitely doesn’t mean “civilian army of individual paranoid fat guys with gun fetishes.”

  111. 111
    The Golux says:

    @dmsilev: Maurice Sendak in Stephen Colbert’s night kitchen. The funniest thing I’ve seen on the Colbert Report.

  112. 112
    catclub says:

    @Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water: So when the Lady of the Lake is holding the sword, does she lob it to Arthur – or whoever. Or does he swim out and wrestle it from her. I am now worried about this.

  113. 113

    Okay, a bit OT but related:

    “Journalism” that picks and chooses bits of current events that are consistent with one’s propaganda. WaPo,

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....story.html

    The elections in France and Greece were much more anti-austerity than anti-incumbent. Idiots.

    On the other hand, I’m sure this is bad news for Obama and good news for John McCain.

  114. 114
    Cacti says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    Do note Cato doesn’t mention the talking snake.

    My favorite Old Testament story is the one of the talking donkey.

    In the KJV donkey is rendered as “ass,” so the verses where the fellow talks to his ass made for quite the humorous read as a bored kid.

  115. 115
    Cato says:

    @Chaz Bono:

    Savage can’t express himself in a different matter, because like most queers (especially male queers) he’s permanently angry and bitter.

  116. 116
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    On the other hand, I’m sure this is bad news for Obama and good news for John McCain.

    “Senator Obama, the bad news is you’ve been elected President. The good news is John McCain is still the Village’s favorite politician.”

  117. 117
    gaz says:

    @Cato: Go play in traffic.

  118. 118
    Riilism says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The sort of family that is depicted in Arrested Development

    Highlarious!

    But I always thought it leaned more towards the family depicted in “I, Claudius”…

  119. 119
    Ruckus says:

    Let’s see.
    If you were one to take, say the bible(I’ll not quibble over version) as a literal word of (whose?)god why wouldn’t you do the same for the federalist papers? Or Ann Rand? Or…
    Not only are they written words open to interpretation the history and context of the writing are vitally important. Rand’s “works” for example are particularly crappy fucking novels, not a manifestos. And even if they were manifestos they are still are pretty fucking crappy.

  120. 120
    Cato says:

    @Chaz Bono:

    QED. You’ll never feel OK, no matter how many people validate you. Because you’re a freak with a mental disorder who desperately needs institutional care, and deep down, you know it.

  121. 121
    gaz says:

    @Cato: Projection

  122. 122
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cato:

    Projecting like all those Octoplexes over the weekend showing The Avengers.

    It never ends with this microbe.

  123. 123
    Ruckus says:

    @Cato:
    A fine invention the pie filter. I have decided to place you in it because reading you is like having my ears cleaned with an electric drill. Painful and the wrong tool.

  124. 124
    Riilism says:

    @Cato: Project much?

  125. 125
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Cato:

    Because you’re a freak with a mental disorder who desperately needs institutional care, and deep down, you know it.

    self-diagnosis is a helluva drug.

  126. 126
    gaz says:

    @Ruckus: lol, okay that was funny.

  127. 127
    kindness says:

    @Cato: Harsh. Don’tcha think? I do.

  128. 128
    Cato says:

    @Chaz Bono:

    I’m not the one who is desperate to use the power of the state to try to make myself feel better. If you had you’re way you’d jail anyone who dare suggest that sodomy is not equivalent to sexual intercourse. Why? Because you just can’t stand to hear the truth. But even then, deep down, you’d know it.

    Normal people don’t voluntarily get their dicks cut off. Only freaks like you do.

  129. 129
    Cato says:

    @kindness:

    Just trollin’ the Internet Tuff Gai.

  130. 130
    Riilism says:

    Totally and utterly NOT cool. It needs to be removed, immediately….

  131. 131
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Cato:

    I’m not the one who is desperate to use the power of the state to try to make myself feel better.

    you make this stuff too easy, veritroll.

  132. 132
    gaz says:

    @Cato: What the fuck are you even talking about? Use the power of the state to make myself feel better? Lolwut? That’s incoherent, even by the low bar you set for yourself.

    And yeah, I’m a freak, and I’m proud of it.

    I not only have an extremely rare condition, GID, but I also have an extremely rare IQ, higher by more half than most people on the planet, statistically speaking.

    I’ll take my pros with my cons. I’d never trade places with a “normal”. I’m allergic to boring.

  133. 133
    Brachiator says:

    @Nick:

    “[M]any people who claim to revere the Federalist Papers actually make arguments that are far closer to those found in the Anti-Federalist writing. This is especially true of the Tea Party.”

    Exactamundo!

    Coming late to the discussion, but trying to catch up with a lot of posts; there’s a lot of good stuff here.

    The Federalist Papers were not just dry philosophy. They were an attempt to sway the debate, to defend the idea of (gasp) a large, effective, central federal government.

    The anti-Federalists largely lost the argument, except maybe of the later demand to include a Bill of Rights in the Constitution. But the anti-Federalist sentiment can definitely be seen in both the libertarian and Tea Party movements.

    But this shit ain’t rocket science.

    And the cool thing is, adjusting for the times, Madison, Jay and Hamilton were doing the equivalent of blogging.

    I don’t think the Federalist Papers are so impenetrable. They’re not the Rosetta Stone or anything, but the arguments are pretty easy to follow. And Hamilton should be the favorite Founding Father of every modern progressive.

    Later Hamilton is too mercantile for some progressives.

  134. 134
    Cacti says:

    @Cato:

    sodomy is not equivalent to sexual intercourse…you just can’t stand to hear the truth

    What about straight couples who enjoy it?

    Are they also horrible deviants who should be discriminated against?

    It’s hard to tell where it begins and ends with the “small government” bedroom police.

  135. 135
    Daulnay says:

    This article in Atlantic about why ‘historian’ David Barton appeals to the Christian Right helped me understand why the TPers treat the Federalist Papers the way they do.

    It’s easy to mock the Evangelicals, but I’m finding it rather harder now that I understand the intellectual tradition that they’re following. There is a kernel of truth to what they’re doing, even though the resulting conclusions turn out false (because of other methodological failures?).

  136. 136
    Geeno says:

    @Cato: The so-called “Militia of the Whole” was important to the founders since their chief enemy had forts and armies just to the north and the world’s most powerful navy just off the coast. Fear of British re-invasion was a very real concern until the 1820’s when it finally became clear that the British had other concerns.
    Under the original constitution, however, it was still possible for states and localities to regulate “arms” as much as they wanted. It wasn’t until the second amendment was incorporated under the fourteenth that government at all levels became powerless to regulate “arms”. Parenthetical question, doesn’t the words “arms” include knives, polearms and the like, not just firearms?

  137. 137
    gaz says:

    @Cacti: Frankly, I think you all are weird. Missionary, Sodomy, etc… People shooting DNA at each other is the height of absurdity. God has a hell of a sense of humor…

    Also, been there done that. After trying nearly everything under the sun, I’d easily fail any purity test devised by man. In the end. I’ve decided that no, I wasn’t in fact missing anything when it comes to sex. It’s just not fun.

  138. 138
    Cato says:

    @Geeno:

    It’s pretty clear it’s implied that it means personal weapons for self-defense. So knives and polearms would be covered I guess, but not something like artillery or tanks (as if anyone could really afford those, anyway). I would even conceded that fully automatic weapons aren’t covered–they’re pretty clearly offensive weapons. Though again machine guns are pretty fucking expensive for an average person to buy anyway.

  139. 139
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Daulnay:

    What is this “kernel of truth” to which you refer?

    Is it this bizarre notion that a bunch of deists were actually fundie “Christians” who time traveled back to the 18th Century from the late 20th? Because the obscene notion of a “Christian Nation” is very deliberately debunked by various Founders in no uncertain terms.

  140. 140
    Paul in KY says:

    @JoeShabadoo: That’s why it is fun to bait them with all the New Testament lovey-dovey stuff. Since Jesus said alot of it, they can’t just come out and directly diss it, but man does it make them grit their teeth!

  141. 141
    Cato says:

    This isn’t a “Christian Nation”. The Founders were a cross-section of nominal Anglicans (later Episcopalians) like Washington–which didn’t mean much, even then, and Deists like Jefferson.

    “The Creator” in the DOI is the Deist God of the philosophers, not the God of the Bible.

  142. 142
    Brachiator says:

    @Yutsano:

    The Book of Kells is the oldest surviving illuminated manuscript from the medieval period.

    An early book with its own night light?

    @Terry:

    One of my favs is when a local church posts something that is not from the Bible, nor pretending to be, but the communication is written in King James English. It’s as though if you are speaking holy thoughts you need to use the holy language. If they only knew more about King James.

    Yes. One of the continual ironies of the age is that anti-gay hyper Christians would not have their vernacular Bible if it were not for a gay monarch.

    But King James English is not exactly King James English. The scholars of the 1600s thought the language would sound more majestic and familiar if it were not “modern,” and so much of the English Bible retains the deliberately archaic language of the earlier best earlier English translations.

  143. 143
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @beergoggles:

    As always it amuses me that those who claim the church isn’t all that bad, or that it’s only some parts of the church that are like it are nowhere to be found when the catholic church marches against civil rights.

    Something struck me about one of the photos (which were a pretty geriatric crowd but not terribly so–I mean, obvs, they had to be well enough to march–I guess maybe the PUMAs have dropped this issue at last? Maggie Gallager, who openly states she got into fighting SSM because she wants to force men to pay child support and yes that is utterly illogical, stands alone?). Someone was wearing a pin that said “What kids NEED not what adults WANT.”

    The RCC has been running “think of the CHILDREN!!!!111eleventy”) as their major attack on this issue (to laity) since this issue started but yes, let’s think of the children.

    What kids need is to have a safe and secure home with both of their parents–precisely what these bigots are trying to take away by barring second parent adoption and making it impossible for their parents to get married.

    What adults want–to beat their tribal drums and dehumanize others so they can feel self-righteous while utterly blind to the suffering and harm they are causing to children and adults.

    *edited to clarify the Slaggie comments

  144. 144
    Paul in KY says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Am almost through the book. Got about 50 more pages. Long struggle, but worth it, IMO.

    Mr. Smith also has a good line about ‘capricious men of fashion’. Got to think Ray Davies read ‘Wealth of Nations’.

  145. 145
    Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I do dress in the purest shimmering samite

  146. 146
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cato:

    Let’s see. There were no tanks in the 18th Century. There were no automatic weapons in the 18th Century. There was no mass produced cased ammunition in the 18th Century.

    Firing a musket in a speedy manner was a skill that required practice. A body of men using them in an effective way required practice. And drill. Lots of it.

    Do I need to go on and on pointing out how much bullshit you’re trying to push on everyone here?

    “Arms” certainly meant muskets, both smoothbore and rifled. It also obviously meant, as it has for centuries, bladed weapons, blunt weapons, even farm instruments used as weapons.

    The militia at the time wasn’t some bunch of fat soldier wannabees who worried about some Mooslim-sochulist usurper coming to take their fucking pitchforks. It was every able bodied male who could carry a polearm or a musket, and was expected to show up for drill on a regular basis to insure that the perishable skills of using a musket were not lost should an emergency arise, like a native raid or redcoats over the horizon.

  147. 147
    Nylund says:

    I went to a very small, well-regarded, liberal college. I think I read nearly all the Federalist papers during my first semester…and I wasn’t even a Poli. Sci. major!

    It’s been about 15 years since I read them, but I don’t recall them being the states rights, God-fearin’, gun-toting piece of work the Tea Party makes it out to be.

    I actually recall it being closer to the opposite of that actually.

  148. 148
    Paul in KY says:

    @redshirt: That is Satan (the fallen angel Lucifer) taking the form of a talking snake. Big difference.

  149. 149
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: You have to understand how Fundies think; a written document in their minds is a message from God, sort of like speaking in Tongues. The writer, his intentions have nothing to do with it, God is using the writer as a pen. I have actually seen fundamentalist tell a writer to his face he didn’t understand his own book.

  150. 150
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gaz: GIDders of the world, unite!

    I love the internet. In cyberspace, nobody can see you’re in your PJs and don’t give a shit if you pass today.

    It’s all a BRANE thing, anyway. Unless you are intersexed. Intersexed ppl need to REPRESENT, get those frigging OB/GYNs offa our g3nitals. Put the knives away, that’s ME you’re cutting up, and I’m not a hog.

  151. 151
  152. 152
  153. 153
    Another Halocene Human says:

    You know what I also hate? People who say gender or sexual identity or sexual orientation are “fluid”. They’re not fluid when you’re living it, and unlike iatrogenic MPDs, it doesn’t change from day to day with complete degrees of freedom (ie along all axes you care to define).

    My perception of my gender identity changed AFTER TEN YEARS. And AFTER TEN YEARS what had mostly changed was my emotional reaction to it.

    SEVEN YEARS AFTER THAT I’ve had a bit of a spiritual/emotional breakthrough and my feelings about things have shifted a bit and also my identity, just a tad. I don’t feel as fearful/authoritarian followery any more and for some reason that changes my perception of self. Funny!

    I’m sure my BRANE has changed too… in my mid-20’s I had THE EMPATHY MOMENT when suddenly I started feeling the way a normal person feels about others (what a relief!). My Aspergery ways are not all gone but they are vastly diminished. I guess for anyone else wanting to move past being an Aspie it helps to learn a bit what normals do and consciously do it (glance at people’s eyes during conversation, don’t fixate on their mouth–makes a BIG difference in how you perceive the conversation) until you retrain yourself. Also, do things that put you way, way, way out of your comfort zone. That will suck, but you will learn and change. Am I still an Aspie? Yes. But a) most people can’t tell and b) I’m accomplishing things I never thought possible and c) my theory of mind has improved tremendously, which really takes an edge off the frustration and depression.

  154. 154
    handsmile says:

    @Yutsano: (#102)

    While perhaps the finest example of the Insular style of manuscript illumination, the Book of Kells is not the “oldest surviving illuminated manuscript from the medieval period.”

    Both the Book of Durrow and the Book of Lindisfarne (two other well-known extant complete manuscripts of that style) predate Kells by a century of more. Also, there are a variety of Carolingian manuscripts roughly contemporaneous with Kells.

    (Apologies for this pedantry. Illuminated manuscripts are an especial interest of mine.)

  155. 155
    redshirt says:

    @Paul in KY: Oh, I know. It’s the thread which unravels any attempt at allegory for Christians. You either take it all as literal, or treat it all as a myth, like all the other myths in history. A story.

  156. 156
    Another Halocene Human says:

    PS–somebody around these here internets posting a link to a rant that compared Aspergerdom to glibertarianism.

    The major difference between those of us on the Autism spectrum and libertarians is that people with ASD lack the tools to generate an adequate theory of mind for others and this drives the lack of empathy in the main, I think. (To be fair, many normals lack a theory of mind for autistics, leading to some truly horrific child abuse and dehumanizing treatment of adults with profound autism.)

    Libertarians, however, are composed of a mixture of those with organic narcissism or sociopathy, both types utterly unable to empathize with others, although they may be quite successful if they develop a good theory of mind (and some do), and those who, for whatever reason, either naivite and youth leading them to be convinced by libertarian arguments (this is evident when the debater tells us we have to read some libertarian treatise, and “you just don’t understand economics” and other gems that reveal an intense but narrow education in, unfortunately, All The Wrong Things) or a paycheck coming their way (or even the perception of such) for avowing the philosophy of “all for the 1%”. Some are like the servile class in Brave New World that served the alphas–plenty of this type in real life, attach yourself to someone really powerful, kiss their ass constantly, ride on their coattails and protection. Many are literal servants. McMegan at this point is probably a good example. Professing that which she is paid to believe.

    (Her ridiculous racism is no doubt all her, however.)

  157. 157
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Hmm, with a remarkable lack of insight I am neglecting my work and producing long, ranty posts that smell faintly of Aspie, just what my wife is always warning me not to do.

    To be fair, English breakfast tea, while tasty, is no substitute for coffee. Gonna get some nao.

  158. 158
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Geeno: Parenthetical question, doesn’t the words “arms” include knives, polearms and the like, not just firearms?

    Being a fan of old books, it went utterly unquestioned in the early 20th century that states could regulate weapons such as knives, brass knuckles, etc, the owning of a number of these being a crime of itself.

    It’s frigging weird to me that you can openly carry a firearm in the same place that a butterfly knife concealed on your person might get you arrested. Which one is more likely to harm a bystander?

  159. 159
    Paul in KY says:

    @redshirt: I’m just being pendantic here. I know you know the ‘snake’ is supposed to be Satan (said in the Church lady voice).

    The fundies would say ‘of course a immortal ex-angelic being could become a talking snake. An actual non-magic talking snake, now that’s just silly’. (never seeing that their interpretation is just about as silly).

  160. 160
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Nylund: I thought the Federalist papers were kind of statist.

    Not that I read them (lolwut) but when I was in school they were always being pimped by these statist types. It made me suspicious.

  161. 161
    Roger Moore says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    The RCC has been running “think of the CHILDREN!111eleventy”) as their major attack on this issue (to laity) since this issue started but yes, let’s think of the children.

    Hey, Catholic Church. Do you know what else kids need? Protection from rapists. Until the Church is willing to provide it, even when it goes against what child raping Catholic clergymen want, you lack moral standing to talk about defending children. I’m not holding my breath waiting.

  162. 162
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yup. And the reason why the right to keep and bear arms should not be abridged also has to do with the distinction between a “militia” and a “standing army.” The people who wrote the Constitution were opposed to the idea of a professional military because governments tend to want to use their fighting forces, which is expensive and/or oppressive. (Remember that a provision against the quartering of soldiers in private houses is part of the Bill of Rights.) So in lieu of a standing army, what can you do for defense? Well, if you had a group of able-bodied guys who _could be_ an army at a moment’s notice, that squares the circle. But if the reason this “militia” was necessary was because of a threat from the oppressive government — one of the threats they are clearly obsessed with — you wouldn’t want to let that government keep you separated from your weapons. Ergo, you get to keep weapons at home so you can assemble as a militia at a moment’s notice, and so you can train for that militia.

  163. 163
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Paul in KY: Is the snake satan or is that just more anachronism?

    Maybe a historian can weigh in, but while Satan does seem like a distinct character in the Book of Job, elsewhere in the bible the–what is the word? eschatology?–seems rather muddled. I mean, hell isn’t even a thing until late in the NT.

  164. 164
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Roger Moore: To be fair, what I’m referring to are lay-to-lay campaigns.

    The stuff the hierarchy has said about SSM is oodles times eleventy more outrageous.

  165. 165
    Brachiator says:

    @Geeno:

    The so-called “Militia of the Whole” was important to the founders since their chief enemy had forts and armies just to the north and the world’s most powerful navy just off the coast. Fear of British re-invasion was a very real concern until the 1820’s when it finally became clear that the British had other concerns.

    Actually, the real concern was emphasized by the US stupidly declaring war on Britain and getting the shit kicked out of it during the War of 1812. The two things that allayed the fear was the British having to deal with Napoleon, and the development of a small, but effective frigate oriented US Navy (not mentioned in the Constitution).

    But coming back to the militia thing, I don’t know whether this was some bit of nostalgia, or concession to pride that led to the Second Amendment.

    Washington and others recognized the value of a well drilled, trained army, even though there was early on a strong sentiment against a regular standing army. But still, this was not a militia. And there was a clear understanding that whatever raw talent an individual brought to a militia, these skills had to be developed differently in order to build an effective army.

  166. 166
    handsmile says:

    @Roger Moore: (#161)

    Since I see you’re still reading this thread, I wanted to say that your comment #22 hours ago was quite the bulls-eye. And it seemed to inspire one of the thread’s currents.

    As I imagine you know, last year was the 400th anniversary of the authorization of the King James Bible Version. The anniversary occasioned worldwide exhibitions and the publication of numerous volumes on the process of its translation and the historical, social, and literary influences of the “Book of Books.”

    What was conclusively demonstrated was the human, all too human role that has alway underlay the contested, imprecise, incomplete endeavor of Bible translation. Debates, compromises, excommunication, and stake-burning characterized these efforts.

    To put it bluntly, surveying this literature celebrating one of the fundamental texts of Western culture, only deepened my contempt for those who cite the Bible as divine guidance or authority for any social or economic policy.

  167. 167
    Brachiator says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Yup. And the reason why the right to keep and bear arms should not be abridged also has to do with the distinction between a “militia” and a “standing army.” The people who wrote the Constitution were opposed to the idea of a professional military because governments tend to want to use their fighting forces, which is expensive and/or oppressive.

    True. But the funny thing is, the nation soon saw the value in having both an army (shamefully used against Native Americans) and a navy, deployed against the British during the largely stupid and inconclusive War of 1812. There was even a small navy and privateers used during the Revolutionary War.

    Main point is from the jump the Founders didn’t say, “this Constitution shit is set in stone, no reason ever to re-examine our assumptions.”

  168. 168
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Brachiator:

    And there was a clear understanding that whatever raw talent an individual brought to a militia, these skills had to be developed differently in order to build an effective army.

    This has been true for the entire history of the Republic. A small standing Army in peacetime, to serve as a cadre that is there to drill the militia into an effective fighting force was up until after WWII the model for US land forces. Obviously, an age of sail Navy required a professional core even in peacetime just to function, but Washington knew the importance of maintaining skill sets, and that the militia of peacetime had to be forged into a fighting force to be reckoned with.

    That’s what “well regulated” is all about: to maintain a level of competence to shorten the time needed to whip them into shape to stand up to the superpower of the day, the British Empire.

  169. 169
    ReflectedSky says:

    The Federalist Papers are not the Constitution. They represent the thinking of a tiny handful of men, who were mostly trying to persuade states to pass the Constitution, particularly New York (IIRC). They are, in other words, advertising/marketing/propaganda. I have read some of the more famous ones, as well as some fairly in-depth analysis of others. It would be helpful if more people did, because they clearly express some of the thinking behind the structural design of our modern government, including the embrace of how different groups will be forced to battle against and COMPROMISE WITH others. In his embrace of multiple viewpoints and value systems, Madison is clearly more progressive than, say, Rick Santorum.

    But there’s no point in worshipping it. It wasn’t handed down by God, which is the argument in favor of empowering the words of the Bible. (Yes, I realize that’s nonsense, but that is what the people who want to “obey” the text believe.)

    People who don’t want the world to change look to ancient texts as weapons. They were written a long time ago when white men ruled, so they MUST say what these frightened authoritarians want them to say. It’s really quite simple. These are the same clowns who carried little copies of the Constitution into Congress with them AND ON THEIR FIRST DAY violated both the spirit and the actual explicit rules expressed in the document they were carrying around and claiming to revere.

  170. 170
    Daulnay says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    If you look at the article, it talks about the Evangelical approach: “It echoes the general doctrine of sola scriptura, the bedrock of the Reformation, that the text of the Bible alone contains the knowledge necessary for salvation.”

    This fundamental idea — that the Bible can be directly understood by ordinary people, without the interpretations of experts (Church priests) — led to 150 years or more of bloody religious conflict in Europe. It stands behind some of American tradition, including, I think, American anti-intellectualism.

    For those reasons alone, it’s worth trying to understand. Calling it “Book Fetishism” seems more misleading than helpful, funny as it might be.

  171. 171
    Roger Moore says:

    @Brachiator:

    and the development of a small, but effective frigate oriented US Navy (not mentioned in the Constitution).

    Yes, the Navy is mentioned in the Constitution; it’s a specifically enumerated power in Article 1, Section 8, clause 13 and 14:

    Clause 13: To provide and maintain a Navy;
    Clause 14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

  172. 172
    Paul in KY says:

    @Another Halocene Human: Could be anachronism. Guess it’s just a talking snake (non-damned version) then…

  173. 173
    gaz says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Maybe a historian can weigh in, but while Satan does seem like a distinct character in the Book of Job, elsewhere in the bible the—what is the word? eschatology?—seems rather muddled. I mean, hell isn’t even a thing until late in the NT.

    Hell wasn’t borne out of early christian thought. It was added later to appease the pagans.

    Also, satan isn’t so much a distinct entity as it is a collection of the worst parts of human nature.

    It helps to read Paul’s letters.

    Hell is not fire and brimstone. Hell is separation from god.

    Satan isn’t a fallen angel. Satan is “The accuser”. Robert Fulghum (the author) nailed satan, by describing “the committee”. Those little niggling voices in your head that tell you you are no good, that foment hatred for self, and hatred for others.

    Again, Paul’s letters are very illuminating. If you reread the new testament with the above ideas firmly in mind, the whole idea of hell and satan becomes a lot more coherent.

    This is why I refer to satan as “The Accuser”.

  174. 174
    Roger Moore says:

    @handsmile:
    One of the things you get from reading a really good translation* is just how wrongheaded literalism is. That’s true even if you skip the whole translation part. A lot of the Bible lacks a definitive original text, and the received versions, even very carefully prepared ones like the Masoretic Text have obvious flaws. Not to mention that there are plenty of words whose meaning is purely conjectural since we don’t have a large body of other Ancient Hebrew texts to compare it to. And that the version we have today was the result of a very political process of deciding which books were authoritative and which ones weren’t. Literalism involves wishing those problems away.

    *By which I mean one that spends some time on details of how they came up with specific translations of difficult passages.

  175. 175
    Full of Woe says:

    We’re still not a well-regulated militia if “well-regulated” means “a militia that uses a uniform kind of ammunition.” If I’m running around with a shotgun and my neighbor has a semi-automatic pistol, I can’t use her ammunition and she can’t use mine. How does that constitute “well-regulated”?

    (Sorry, I don’t know anything about guns. I’m pretty sure you can’t use shotgun shells in a pistol, though.)

    I liked reading The Federalist Papers because I found the arguments for a strong central government illuminating, especially with all the clamor about states’ rights. I also found some discussions in there that truly astonished me. The discussion of whether a standing army “ought not be kept up in times of peace” was something I’d never thought about.

    Whenever I now hear someone shouting about the Tenth Amendment, I wonder whether they’ve read the Federalist Papers.

  176. 176
    gaz says:

    @Roger Moore:

    A lot of the Bible lacks a definitive original text, and the received versions, even very carefully prepared ones like the Masoretic Text have obvious flaws. Not to mention that there are plenty of words whose meaning is purely conjectural since we don’t have a large body of other Ancient Hebrew texts to compare it to.

    Even then, the message is culturally context sensitive.

    A thoughtful Christian might realize that God’s message is too large and sweeping to fit into our tiny minds all at once. A thoughtful Christian might realize that the intent of parable was to provide a culturally sensitive frame with which people at the time could “grok” the message and how it was to be applied in their own lives.

    2,000 years later we don’t have the same cultural frame of reference. We just don’t. That’s lost to the ages, and no amount of studying history will bring it back. If the bible were inked today, I’m fairly certain it would look so different than the original texts as to be nearly unrecognizable.

  177. 177
    Brachiator says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    That’s what “well regulated” is all about: to maintain a level of competence to shorten the time needed to whip them into shape to stand up to the superpower of the day, the British Empire.

    “Well regulated”
    in the context of a militia is not the same thing as “well regulated” in the context of an army, even an 18th century army.

    The early US didn’t learn sufficient lessons from the Revolutionary War, and strangely believed in the effectiveness of militias in the early stages of the War of 1812.

    The United States was not prepared to prosecute a war, for Madison had assumed that the state militias would easily seize Canada and that negotiations would follow. In 1812, the regular army consisted of fewer than 12,000 men. Congress authorized the expansion of the army to 35,000 men, but the service was voluntary and unpopular; it offered poor pay, and there were few trained and experienced officers, at least initially. The militia objected to serving outside their home states, were not open to discipline, and performed poorly against British forces when outside their home states.

    This shit was like the Barny Fife Army. And it didn’t matter much how good an individual soldier was with a musket.

    @Roger Moore: Yes, I am a dumbass. The navy is indeed mentioned in the Constitution. But the navy was horribly neglected. It had been effectively disbanded after the Revolutionary War, and Congress was typically reluctant to fund it adequately (the two early biggies were the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812) and run it professionally.

  178. 178
    Brachiator says:

    @ReflectedSky:

    The Federalist Papers are not the Constitution. They represent the thinking of a tiny handful of men, who were mostly trying to persuade states to pass the Constitution

    Dude, that “tiny handful of men” were Madison, Jay, and Hamilton, who were bigtime Founders. But I agree that the Federalist Papers are not the Constitution or a sacred text.

  179. 179
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Daulnay: Too true, and it’s misguided to dismiss Protestantism as Catholicism without the Pope. Sure, that’s what a number of state churches quickly turned into (Lutherans–the Continental kind, not the American variants, I hasten to add, Anglicans), but the US was settled in no small part by Protestants of a more radical flavor. From Puritans to Anabaptists to Huguenots, radical Protestants came to the US for a better life, to escape real existential threats, or to pursue their ideas more completely and with less interference. American religious movements reflect this thread, from the Great Awakening to the Quakers and Shakers. (Of course, you have the re-introduction of hierarchical religion in Brigham Young’s CoLDS… Jos. Smith is not the one who made the Mormons Catholicism lite, I think; he was more the freaky cult founder, of which American life has had many, and the behavior of FLDS and other breakaway Mormon sects bears this out. Yup, I’m gonna lay the Popery at the Queen Bee and Profit of the Beehive’s feet, Bring’em Young (Bring’em Early).)

    The stupid to me is not taking the Bible literally. It’s calling the Bible your own personal 42, the answer to every question, asked and unasked. It is NOT the greatest book ever written. It does NOT contain all the wisdom of the ages. It is NOT the special except in its primacy in a certain period of Western civilization, which, of course, is why argument from authority-mongers love to wax on and on about how many copies of the Bible have been printed (the followers of Elron love this tactic too, as if anyone can’t see that both camps print millions of copies and buy all the copies they print and give them away, in some ridiculous attempt to evangelize and convince others of their overwhelming numbers).

    The Founders were born into an era of increasing Enlightenment, in that literacy in ancient languages had been restored and the great philosophers of antiquity were now accessible to them. Little surprise that many of them preferred Greek and Roman thinkers to the Holy Babble. Side by side, the Bible was found wanting.

    As to why more Americans today aren’t educated this way, I can only say it’s not for lack of trying. Parents get outraged when their kids come back with snot-nose statements questioning parental authoritarianism (because I said so!). So teaching kids to think is not only abandoned, it’s practically illegal. Forget about teaching from first person texts.

    Heck, even in the excellent school system I attended, parents got pissed at the Chinese born Chinese teacher for making the voluntary Chinese language classes too hard. I guess translation=I can’t do my cosseted kid’s homework for him/her–NOT FAIR!

    PS: I did all my homework. I didn’t find out about the parental homework thing until I worked in a children’s library in high school. What the everloving fsck.

  180. 180
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Paul in KY: There is, after all, a talking ass in the J-portion of the Bible.

    Pretty sure she (the ass was female) was not Satan.

    But who knows, right? :)

  181. 181
    J R says:

    @Chris: THIS!

    Any god that commands the kind of warfare the ancient Hebrews conducted in their conquest of Canaan is not a god worth following.

    Any god that commands rape victims to marry their attackers is not worth following.

    Any god that commands particular methods of slavery, not worth following.

    Any god that permits the actions in and around the city of Sodom, not worth following. The pillar of salt, anyone?

    This list could get very long. I’ve read the entire document, including some chapters omitted by some factions, but it was a long time ago. Now I’ve forgotten a lot of details, but the big picture stays forever.

    Not worth following!

    I attend church services from time to time, in order to be with friends at important moments. I note that preachers don’t usually talk about any of the issues I mention above. Not commonly, at least.

    All religions with complex scripture pick and choose among the vast content and varied interpretation of complex and confusing their particular holy scripts. Anyone with time on their hands and noting more interesting to do can use the same documents and derive a set of behaviors and beliefs directly opposite to that “normally” arrived at from the selected scripture.

    Look at David Koresh, the Mormons, the different strains of Jewish belief. Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Amish (and their strains of similar farme oriented fellows), Southern Baptists and American Baptists, Copts, Eastern Orthodox, all using the same book(s) with amazing results.

    Yet I know people with much more education than I, and perhaps brighter than I, who swallow at least a large majority of one brand or another. Amazing.

    Not worth it.

  182. 182
    gaz says:

    @J R:

    Not worth following!

    Enter the new testament/new covenant. Jesus was already on top of this, about 2000 years ago.

  183. 183
    gaz says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    There is, after all, a talking ass in the J-portion of the Bible.

    Wait!, Romney was in the bible? hoocudanoen?

  184. 184
    redshirt says:

    @gaz: Which was my point about the talking snake. Without that core mythological foundation, Jesus is just a man – if he existed at all. Just a dude.

    Which I’m fine with – there’s been lots of dudes in history. But not what a typical Christian would say.

  185. 185
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gaz:

    Hell wasn’t borne out of early christian thought. It was added later to appease the pagans.

    Sorry to be disputatious, but that comment doesn’t gibe with my understanding of Xtianity’s origins. Okay, so gnostic xtians were Jews (and not really xtians as we understand the term today), but orthodox xtianity really seems to have started in gentile circles. We’re talking about gentiles, ie non-Jews, not “pagans” (pagani = country bumpkins), which becomes an epithet for those not getting on with the xtian program only later.

    Hell, as I understand, was a feature of Egyptian popular religion. Egyptian popular religion had an enormous influence on the mythology of orthodox Christianity. For example, the Isis iconography becomes the Virgin Mary. Orthodox Christian groups engaged in violent terrorism against followers of Serapis in Alexandria, Egypt. (They had plenty of practice from engaging in violence and assassination with other Christians while warring over control of that cult.) It should surprise no one that the Coptic Christian Church is the oldest Christian church in the world. (I suppose the Egyptians should be… proud? Plenty of Egyptian influence on Judaism, too, at least in the early days, due to Egyptian conquest of Canaan, milennia ago. I think I prefer the Persian influence, myself.)

    Egyptian popular religion described a place of persecution for the unjust. Under the pharonic system, the king was the last resort, the ‘supreme court’, if you will, for litigants persecuted by the local nobility. Naturally, since kings ran in the same circle as nobility, this didn’t really work out too good for the peasantry in practice, hence the elaborate fantasies about tortures for unjust rulers. The kings brought fantastic grave goods to their tombs, complete with clay armies of servants in various specialties. According to Egyptian popular religion, the unjust will be stripped of these goods and they will be redistributed to the poor but virtuous. (According to the Book of the Dead, if you do not have a pure heart, a god will eat it… can’t recall if it was the hippo or the crocodile–krokodili, begamoti.)

    So, less to do with appeasing the pagans, more to do with appropriating what the converts already believed. The whole story about hell which Christians are so familiar with is never laid out in the bible, but all of its key features are clearly present already in Egyptian popular culture, except for the origins of hell.

    Our current popular notion of the origins of hell comes from some fanfic written by some relatively privileged dude. It is quite EPIC to fit such origins.

    Egyptians didn’t need to explain the origin of hell, as “everybody knew” that you would be judged when you died and crossed over into the afterlife. Christianity, however, has issues because it ALSO incorporates a lot of Greek thought, thus claiming to be monotheistic, and at some point you have to attempt to synthesize these entirely incompatible views.

    So incompatible that Christians murdered the atheist acolyte of Plato, Hypatia, in Alexandria, according to one account flaying her alive with broken roof tiles called oyster shells. (Some people figure they were actual oyster shells, and yeah those suckers are sharp, but I’ll go with the opinion of the experts here.)

  186. 186
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Bob2: Adam Smith, as well.

  187. 187
    gaz says:

    @Another Halocene Human: I’ll concede that. I was being a bit glib on that one point. Still, I don’t think it invalidates the thrust of what I was saying, that HELL as it is written about in revelations is not a part of early christian thought. It was tacked on after-the-fact.

  188. 188
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Not to mention that there are plenty of words whose meaning is purely conjectural since we don’t have a large body of other Ancient Hebrew texts to compare it to.

    This is a major problem. NT also suffers from this to some extent because it’s written in “bad greek” and sometimes uses really odd language.

    Did the people of Ugarit speak a Semitic language? I wonder if study of their texts informs the understanding of antique Hebrew?

  189. 189
    gaz says:

    @redshirt:

    Which was my point about the talking snake. Without that core mythological foundation, Jesus is just a man – if he existed at all. Just a dude.

    Which sidesteps the point that even if he was * just a dude * (or even just an idea) he (or the myth of him) added value to the human experience.

    Gandhi was just a dude.
    MLK was just a dude.
    Buddha was just a dude.
    etc.

    Whether or not Jesus was God in the flesh, it’s pretty much beside any point about the value of what he said.

  190. 190
    ReflectedSky says:

    @Brachiator: I’m fully aware who wrote the Federalist papers. It’s still the case that there’s no force of law behind the ideas expressed in them. Unhappy authoritarians keep trying to find a way to lay claim to a version of the Constitution that’s as limited and backward-thinking as they are. The Federalist Papers are more progressive than that, but it doesn’t really matter. They are not what was voted on by the states, and then amended by the the legislative process as stipulated in the Constitution voted on by the states. The argument against the validity of the actual Constitution would have to lie in whether the Constitutional Convention was legitimate under the terms of the Articles of Confederation. But these guys don’t even know enough American history to go there. Moreover, I think a big appeal of laying claim to the Federalist Papers — which they clearly haven’t read closely — is the fact that a very small group of rich white guys wrote them (which is why I used that particular term for the authors). Fundamentally, Tea Party Republicans/Evangelical Christians/Movement Conservatives — whatever name you want for these frightened, angry, backward-looking people — are anti-democratic. If they could just find a memo from ONLY the richest, whitest plantation owner who participated in the Constitutional Convention, they would happily claim that this, THIS is the REAL Constitution. And that claim would be no more or less absurd than looking to the Federalist Papers, even though I believe there have been arguments in the Supreme Court referencing the Federalist Papers. James Madison was a smart and interesting guy, as were Jay and Hamilton. But while arguably Madison was to the Constitution what Mark Zuckerburg is to Facebook, a government is not the same as a company, and the Constitution that Madison helped craft did not include naming rights or a back door or any other means by which his personal opinion or desires trumped what was actually written down and approved by the Constitutional Convention and then by the states. The Federalist papers are really interesting from a historical or political science POV. But if you could dig something out of one of them that clearly contradicted the Constitution, so what? The Constitution is what was voted on. It’s what’s in force. It doesn’t matter if Madison, Jay, Hamilton or all three of them agreed. If it didn’t make it into the Constitution, it’s irrelevant for governance purposes. Written documents are powerful in a democracy because they reflect a sometimes painfully developed consensus/compromise/majority, and because these agreements are written down, they’re harder to distort but also easier to change by consensus/compromise/majority. That is very different than something being the supposed words from a divine being. This is one of the downsides of the Reformation — worshipping the book is no more valid than worshipping the guys reading the book for you. Madison was cool, but not divine.

  191. 191
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gaz: gaz, have you studied gnosticism at all?

    I’ve only had the opportunity to study a little bit, but I think it would appeal to you (and also to many self-professed Christians and agnostics–orthodox Christianity is so rooted in authoritarianism that it takes this reductionist authoritarian dum-dum outlook that really grates for any freethinking person).

  192. 192
    redshirt says:

    @gaz: That’s my point entirely. But I don’t suspect you’ll find many “Literal” Christians willing to accept it.

  193. 193
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @J R: Word, J R. Word.

    At age 12 I was given a Catholic bible for perfect attendance at CCD that year. I naively read Genesis thinking that it was some sort of guide to moral behavior.

    Instead, it shook my faith in the truth of Christianity and ultimately led to my rejection of its claims.

    Oh yeah, the commentary on the NT explaining that the first extant copies of NT texts are much older than my similarly naive lay CCD teachers claimed was another nail in the coffin. I knew, for example, that the Washington cherry tree story was a historical myth. Seemed likely that the NT was the cherry tree story writ large.

  194. 194
    Brachiator says:

    @ReflectedSky:

    I’m fully aware who wrote the Federalist papers.

    We don’t disagree on the value or the significance of the Federalist Papers.

    And since I am not an originalist, I can’t imagine using the Federalist Papers to try to “prove” or “disprove” some interpretation of the Constitution.

    But I’ll go further. I take the first words of the Constitution, “We the People …” to mean that we, the current generation, are as much the Founders as were the original signers. What the Constitution means to us is as important as what someone thinks the Founders “intended” when they first wrote the document.

    This makes the Constitution, a tool of government for and by the governed, very different than a divine, religious text.

  195. 195
    gaz says:

    @Another Halocene Human: I agree, but I have only a passing understanding of the Gnostics. It does appeal to me, but I tend to inform my views of Jesus’s message through my own experience w/ Buddhism (more or less the Tibetan variety). I joke that Jesus and Buddha probably carpooled.

    Also, I tend to interpret “Give everything you have to the poor and follow me” somewhat differently than many christians, I think. To me, it’s *not* about liberating and empowering the poor, so much as liberating and empowering yourself for earthshaking change. Attachment to wordly things breeds complacency and a tendency to protect your material existence, at the expense of transcending all of that and reaching a higher state of consciousness. FWIW, I think a lot of Menonites get this

  196. 196
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @redshirt:

    Without that core mythological foundation, Jesus is just a man – if he existed at all. Just a dude.

    There’s a theory that the synoptic gospels are a bunch of copypasta, which makes sense in that they jump between supposed hagiography (but it’s odd hagiography, one without, for example, any physical descriptions) and disjointed teachings and parables, and that large portions of the teachings come from an earlier text that may date to the 1st century BCE and comes from the Essene community. There was a pseudonymous Teacher of the Essenes (ie “rabbi”, not to be confused with our current usage of “rabbi”, more like “rebbe”), who may or may not have been pseudonymously dubbed Joshua.

    On more firm ground, one can note that “Joshua” was a pseudonym claimed by anti-Roman rebels in the first century of the common era, harkening back to the mythical Jewish conqueror.

    Jesus, is, of course, a Romanized version of the name Joshua. Once you understand the connection to the hero Joshua, a lot about the Bible makes a lot more sense. Simon “Peter” and James “brother of the Lord” are historical persons who opposed Roman rule. They have been, it seems, coopted into the story to give it a degree of verisimilitude. Also to falsely make these leaders the subordinates of the orthodox cult’s hed-pasted-on-yaye leader, creating a bogus claim to primacy. I mean, it didn’t work… Jews have not had time for orthodox Christian’s shit since, like, forever, but the attempt keeps getting made.

    We’d probably know more about what contemporary Jews thought about all this if the rebels hadn’t lost big to Hadrian in the 70’s and the Jewish nation hadn’t been dragged to Rome in chains. (The rabbis did circulate anti-Christian pamphlets which ridiculed claims such as the virgin birth. In fact, they inverted the inversion, claiming that Jesus was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier! Christianity is the illegitimate offspring of Roman soldiers’ mystery cults, specifically the cults of Mithras and Isis, whose trappings were quickly appropriated by bishops when Xtianity became the state religion, so Politifact rates the Pantira story “Partly True”.)

  197. 197
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gaz: And you would be absolutely correct.

  198. 198
    gaz says:

    @Bob2: Ayn Rand is misunderstood? Really?

    No. She’s an objectivist – she believed in sanctity of self over sanctity of others. Her and Anton LaVey.

    She isn’t misunderstood. She was a Bad Person(tm)

  199. 199
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gaz:

    Whether or not Jesus was God in the flesh, it’s pretty much beside any point about the value of what he said.

    Jefferson agrees with you.

    I agree with the “just a dude” comments because the god-making really denigrates the insight, compassion, and intelligence available in ordinary human beings. That denigration is a core piece of orthodox Christianity (original sin) because guilt and shame are a core part of their system of control. Remember the “vale of tears”? The church helped make it that way.

    Also, I love the movie Ratatouille. Near the end of the movie, the phrase “anyone can cook” is explained (much as Jesus explains his parables–parallel?). It is not that every person has the ability to be a great cook, it is that a great cook can emerge from any stratum of society, that that great cook could be anyone. It’s a rebuke to the notion that you have to be born into some special line to have abilities or talent. (Or that you must literally be a god.) But it is a not a statement that all talents are distributed equally.

  200. 200
    gaz says:

    @Another Halocene Human: I’m fairly certain that if Jesus had known about all the shit that was going to be attributed to him after his death, he may have climbed down of the cross, and said “fuck this noise”. /snark

  201. 201
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @ReflectedSky: Wow, ReflectedSky, you really believe in this democracy thing. I’m not sure most Americans do. :(

    Without consensus and compromise, in other words, in a world where the USSC can make decisions like Citizen’s United, or that nasty little decision where they ruled that raising neighbor’s property values was enough justification to invoke eminent domain, does a government lose the will of the people? I saw that happen in my labor union, but I wonder how that works on a country scale.

  202. 202
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gaz: re: your second paragraph. That’s deep. I never thought of it that way.

  203. 203
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gaz: Do you remember the part of the gospels where Jesus pulls Peter aside and says he’s going to show him something special but don’t tell anyone? And then Elijah comes down from heaven? Catholics call it the transfiguration.

    It always struck me as mucho bizarre and even somewhat perverted. It seems to badly contradict much of what else is written in the gospels. However, it does fit a rubric of “secret teachings” for the innermost circle that one finds in cults such as Scientology and the early days of the Mormon church.

    It is perverse. It’s very perverse. And yet this little passage is the basis of an organized religion that spans the globe.

    Don’t get it.

  204. 204
    gaz says:

    @Another Halocene Human: I think Jesus, seeing the disparaging institutionalization of god that the Catholic Church has pursued since it’s inception, he would have entered the temples, overturned the pews, and condemned the entire thing en masse.

    The mexicans are spot on. There’s the Catholics, then there are Christians. Catholicism is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus Christ. That much is STRONGLY alluded to in the gospels. The Catholic “faith” is a blight on christianity. Get your god doled out to you by the MOTUs… that’s what it’s about.

    If you are a Catholic, you are not a follower of Christ. Sorry folks, it is what it is. The Catholic Church is probably the worst perversion of Jesus’ message in human history. It’s no wonder they suborn child rape, “purification” through torture, and were Nazi sympathizers. The catholic church is satanic.

  205. 205
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gaz: There’s a difference between the laity and the hierarchy. And there are huge differences in interpretation between the various religious orders.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say Catholics don’t follow Jesus because a lot of them do, and many of them follow Jesus more whole-heartedly than a lot of cafeteria christians. You can’t pin all of the shame game on popery if you go by the gospels as written because Jesus has extremely strict teachings on sexuality. And Paul is no haven where sexuality is concerned.

    Well, of course you have already stated upthread that sex with others is not important to you. (Don’t know how you feel about autoeroticism, which Jesus also condemns.) But in a realistic sense, Jesus-ism is not promoted as the narrow ferry, with some easier path for the masses, a la esoteric Buddhism. (Sure, some monastic orders take it this way.) The Jesus plan is promoted for all, including priests who too often fail at it while protected by a church that’s stuck on deny, deny, deny. (Of course, nobody made the RCC make up that crap about a “special charism.”)

    Please don’t forget that while these teachings of Jesus may be meaningless to you, they are at the root of the suffering of millions who were, one way or another, forced to be a part of the church for all or part of their lives.

    Orthodoxy WROTE the gospels. It’s not something that sprang up later. And that’s not to say that they haven’t gone even MORE EXTREME since the gospels were written and then voted on and narrowed down to what we see today. Thus, it should be no surprise whatsoever that the overthrow of popery did not lead immediately to a new age of progressivism and human rights. Only the weakening of churchs’ temporal power, in part by forcing competing religions to coexist and allowing individuals to choose freely their religion, in other cases by just cold seizing their property, brought about the freedom of one’s person and freedom of thought we take for granted today.

    Crossing the streams of today’s threads, by the time of the American Revolution, free thinkers like Payne and Jefferson considered the Church of England to be an authoritarian scourge that needed to be cut to size much as the English have popularly regarded the RCC in the last several centuries. Separation of church and state was a reaction to Church of England, Popery II: Electric Boogaloo.

  206. 206
    gaz says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    There’s a difference between the laity and the hierarchy. And there are huge differences in interpretation between the various religious orders

    It’s a distinction without a difference when it comes to my point about Catholics not being Christians.

    Jesus said you can’t serve two masters. He meant it.

  207. 207
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gaz: I’m not advocating for organized religion in any way. I think it’s stupid for myriad reasons. But I also think it’s stupid to just dismiss all lay Catholics out of hand, as if none of them have any insight, intelligence, or understanding. By doing so you are ignoring a large dissenting theological tradition within Catholicism (granted, a tradition the current pontiff desires to stamp out) and millions of Catholics in this country who are ethnically Catholic and had a Catholic religious education (which includes studying the synoptic gospels quite a bit) but who do not regularly (or ever) attend mass and do not financially support the RCC. I was never one of those people but as an ethnic Catholic (now atheist who rejects that tradition) I’ve known quite a few people who were. By tossing out all of Catholic thought in one go you’re tossing the bathwater of dissenting Catholics (whose dissent informed and was informed by Protestant thought) with the baby of popery.

    However, if your mind is closed on this point I suppose there is no sense in arguing it further.

  208. 208
    gaz says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Well, of course you have already stated upthread that sex with others is not important to you. (Don’t know how you feel about autoeroticism, which Jesus also condemns.)

    Not interested in it either. I’m unusual though.

    Paul said celibacy is the ideal, but since most people aren’t up to that, get married at least. I’m celibate not because of Christ, but because I’ve been blessed with having essentially no libido (other than the testosterone induced fever that comes from not cleaning the pipes, it’s one the most irritating things about those hormones. A little spironolactone takes care of that though, and I’m ace.

    I’m not about to condemn anyone else for having sex (although I think it’s a silly act). It’d be easy for me to judge, and beat people with the club of paul on that front. But it’s SOOO damned easy to use my own blessing as a cudgel to paint those that weren’t similarly blessed as degenerates. I’ll not do that. It’s distasteful, and is part of the problem with the mindset of so many fundies (see their hatred of teh gheys for example).

    I still firmly believe that Jesus was anti-institutional religion. To me, it’s clear that he believed that faith should be practiced at an organic level, through community, not institution.

    The guy with the funny hat is a satanist. Anyone that buys the lie of the Catholic Church has some serious ‘splaining to do. I’m not painting the laity as satanic though, although I will say that of the heirarchy. Although, if you buy into the hierarchy you are NOT a follower of christ, QED

  209. 209
    Chris says:

    @Cato:

    No Christian group saw the Bible as some kind of Christian Koran (the unmediated, direct and literal word of God) until about 100-150 years ago. Christians for the first 1,900 years of their religion always said it was a book that required careful interpretation. The literalism of the last century is a fad confined to one or two centuries and within one place (North America).

    That would be logical.

    Related: is there anything in the Bible that tells you 1) to take the Bible literally, or 2) that the Bible is the only thing you should base your theology on? The closest I’ve come is “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (Timothy 3:16). “Useful” is a far cry from “literally factual” (the tortoise and the hare story is “useful for teaching”), and “all Scripture” is a far cry from “only Scripture.”

  210. 210
    gaz says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    By tossing out all of Catholic thought in one go you’re tossing the bathwater of dissenting Catholics (whose dissent informed and was informed by Protestant thought) with the baby of popery.

    There’s a word for a dissenting Catholic: Protestant. Check the etymology, or ask Martin Luther. heh

    On a serious note: The Catholic Church does not provide a place for dissenting Catholics. It’s a monolithic institution. A catholic cannot go down the street and form their own catholic church. You either buy into Catholic traditions wholeheartedly, or you’re not Catholic. That’s the Catholic Church’s position, not mine. If you want to point a finger about that, you should consider pointing that at the monolithic institution of the Church.

  211. 211
    Xenos says:

    @Cato:

    Easy to do when their Caliph had all the textual variants except his favored one buried and burned.

    You have no idea what you are talking about. At the time the Koran was compiled there was already the beginning of the split between Shia and Sunni, and the text and its interpretation were very much at the center of this dispute.

    What you are describing here sounds a lot more like the Council of Nicea. I just visited some very interesting Arian church buildings. Do you have any fucking idea what happened to the Arians?

  212. 212

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  213. 213
    jefft452 says:

    @Cato: “And at the time all free adult males were “the militia””

    So every free adult male was subject to the Articles of War? could be shot for desertion even if he never enlisted? be flogged for disobeying an officer of the militia? got a daily rum ration from the state government?

  214. 214
    Privatize the Profits! Socialize the Costs! says:

    “Well-regulated” in 18th Century English means “well supplied with ammo”.

    Damn!

    This is why I can never win arguments with wingnuts: they have their own ‘facts’!

    Well, Mr. Smarty Pants, I’ll bet YOU didn’t know that “Cato” in 18th century English means “well supplied with horseshit”…?

    Didja? Huh?

  215. 215

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  216. 216
    jefft452 says:

    @Another Halocene Human: “Separation of church and state was a reaction to Church of England, Popery II: Electric Boogaloo.”

    No

    The southern colonies-states were pretty indistinguishable from high church Anglicanism
    We have separation of church and state because nobody in New England could stomach living in a Union at the price of having high church Anglicanism having a privileged position

    And nobody outside of New England could stomach letting rabid Congregationalists be in a privileged position

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