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Once again… it comes down to faith
Posted: 06 August 2009 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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It’s always there, it seems, lurking at the bottom of the tank like an alligator in a murky swamp.  Faith gives people the “strength” to do a lot of crazy cruel shit.

These are the ramblings of the recent gym shooter in Philly.  He’s sexually frustrated, hates women, racist, and in the end, turns to Jesus and faith in forgiveness to justify his murdering 3 women and then killing himself.

Sure, Christians will disavow it all.  Of course they will.  But faith, in the end, is almost always there.

=========================
Why do this?? To young girls? Just read below. I kept a running log that includes my thoughts and actions, after I saw this project was going to drag on.

November 5, 2008:
Planned to do this in the summer but figure to stick around to see the election outcome. This particular one got so much attention and I was just curious. Not like I give a flying XXXX who won, since this exit plan was already planned. Good luck to Obama! He will be successful. The liberal media LOVES him. Amerika has chosen The Black Man. Good! In light of this I got ideas outside of Obama’s plans for the economy and such. Here it is: Every black man should get a young white girl hoe to hone up on. Kinda a reverse indentured servitude thing. Long ago, many a older white male landowner had a young Negro wench girl for his desires. Bout’ time tables are turned on that XXXX. Besides, dem young white hoez dig da bruthrs! LOL. More so than they dig the white dudes! Every daddy know when he sends his little girl to college, she be bangin a bruthr real good. I saw it. “Not my little girl”, daddy says! (Yeah right!!) Black dudes have thier choice of best white hoez. You do the math, there are enough young white so all the brothers can each have one for 3 or 6 months or so.

December 22, 2008:
Time is moving along. Planned to have this done already. I will just keep a running log here as time passes. Many of the young girls here look so beautiful as to not be human, very edible. After joining this gym, started lifting weights and like it. Much info about weight programs, diet etc on the web. Or anything for that matter. Instead of TV I can Google for hours to relax. TV and most movies are dull.

December 24, 2008:
Moving into Christmas again. No girlfriend since 1984, last Christmas with Pam was in 1983. Who knows why. I am not ugly or too weird. No sex since July 1990 either (I was 29). No XXXX! Over eighteen years ago. And did it maybe only 50-75 times in my life. Getting to think that a woman now would just, uh, get in the way of things. Isolated. I have extra money and enjoy traveling, too, wtih my 25-30 days of vacation. LA was the best! But going alone is not too fun. Invited to a party on Christmas day tomorrow. Seems about 15-25 people will actually show. I like her parties; I can meet new people and talk. Got the next 8 days off. I should have exit plan done and practiced by then. I know nothing will change, no matter how hard I try or what goals I set.

December 28, 2008:
Glad I stayed around. All these days off are great. I will shoot for Tuesday, January 6, 2009, at maybe 8:15. I have list of to-do items to make.

December 29, 2008:
Just got back from tanning, been doing this for a while. No gym today, my elbow is sore again. I actually look good. I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne - yet 30 million women rejected me - over an 18 or 25-year period. That is how I see it. Thirty million is my rough guesstimate of how many desirable single women there are. A man needs a woman for confidence. He gets a boost on the job, career, with other men, and everywhere else when he knows inside he has someone to spend the night with and who is also a friend. This type of life I see is a closed world with me specifically and totally excluded. Every other guy does this successfully to a degree. Flying solo for many years is a destroyer. Yet many people say I am easy to get along with, etc. Looking back, I owe nothing to desirable females who ask for anything, except for basic courtesy - usually. Looking back over everything, what bothers me most is the inability to work towards whatever change I choose.

December 30, 2008:
While driving I radio surfed to a talk show. The caller was a 30ish black man who was describing the despair in certain black communities. According to him, life is cheap there because you are going to die anyway when you get old. It is the quality of life that is important, he said. If you know the past 40 years were crappy, why live another 30 crappy years then die? His point was they engage in dangerous behavior which tends to shorten the lifespans, to die now and avoid the next 30 crappy years, using my example. The host got sarcastic and ended the call instead of trying understanding his point. Agreement wasn’t necesary. I put music back on. But it was an interesting, and useful point for me to hear.


December 31, 2008:
My anger and rage is largely gone since I began lifting weights. Lifting drains me but I still have energy. Somebody else suggested running but that did not help me. I guess strenuous exercise is necesary for a man. So I just learned that now at 48. Maybe 30 years later than I would have liked. My dad never (not once) talked to me or asked about my life’s details and tell me what he knew. He was just a useless sperm doner. Don’t know why, find it fun talking to young kids when I visit someone. Brother was actually counter-productive and would try to embarase me or discourage my efferts when persuing things, esp girls early on (teen years). Useless bully. Result is I am learning basics by trial and error in my 40s, followed by discuragement. Seems odd, but thats true. Writing all this is helping me justify my plan and to see the futility of continuing. Too embarassed to tell anyone this, at almost 50 one is expected to just know these things.
I hope it doesn’t snow on Tuesday. Just thought of that. The crowd will be thin so I would postpone. XXXX!

January 5, 2009:
Was at the gym to lift. Very crowded. Tomorrow should be good. There is a woman there that gives me a certain look every time I am there. I decided to walk over and make a comment about the crowds but she left when I finished the exercise. Better that I do not get sidetracked from tomorrow’s plan anyways. Life is just playing games. One or two dates with her, then the end. No matter how many changes I try to make, things stay the same. Every evening I am alone, and then go to bed alone. Young women were brutal when I was younger, now they aren’t as much, probably because they just see me just as another old man.
I see twenty something couples everywhere. I see a twenty something guy with a nice twentyish young women. I think those years slipped right by for me. Why should I continue another 20 years alone? I will just work, come home, eat, maybe do something, then go to bed (alone) for the next day of the same thing. This is the Auschwitz Syndrome, to be in serious pain so long one thinks it is normal. I cannot wait for tomorrow!

January 6, 2009:
I can do this. Leaving work today, I felt like a zombie - just going thru the motions. Get on the bus, get the car, drive home…..My mind is screwed up anymore, I can’t concentrate at work or think at all.
This log is not detailed. It is only for confidence to do this. The future holds even less than what I have today.
It is 6:40pm, about hour and a half to go. God have mercy. I wish life could be better for all and the crazy world can somehow run smoother. I wish I had answers. Bye.
It is 8:45PM: I chickened out! XXXX! I brought the loaded guns, everything. Hell!

April 24, 2009:
Early last month, we had our second general layoff. I survived. First one was in November. When I began 10 years ago, that used to be a nice place to work. I understand the need to reduce staff when times sour, but this is out of proportion to the economic problems at this time. The economy is shrinking by about 4-5%. They decided not to pay Christmas bonus - for staff that amounts to about 8% of yearly pay. Well, OK. Plus no yearly “merit” raise, another 3.5%. That totals to about 11% cut. Plus two layoffs of 5% staff in each case. Do the math. I know this firm is using this downturn as an excuse to take advanage of a bad situation and kill jobs UNNECESSARILY. The second layoff people who actually did work were let go. We all need to pick up the slack so the company can cut beyond what is necesary. Wasn’t going to mention it, because of all this XXXX, it is K&L Gates, the large law firm headquartered here in Pittsburgh. Just call it K&L Gates Corporation. Most people there are OK and I would never have a shoot ‘em up there. They paid me for 10 years, so far!
I predict I won’t survive the next layoff. That is when there is no point to continue. RIght now, life is bearable and I can get by indefinitely. Something bad must happen. The paycheck is all I have left. The future holds nothing for me. Twenty five years of nothing fun. I never even spent one weekend with a girl in my life, even at my own place. Also unlikely to find another similar job. I guess then is when I take care of things. I don’t have kids, close friends or anything. Just me here. If you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

I enjoy writing these entries, I have no plans to go back and edit or even read most stuff already written. If you get bored, just click that “x” at the top, right corner of your browser. Bye.

May 4, 2009:
I was so eager to do this last year. The big problem on my mind now is that my job will end soon. One project is being transistioned to another. The other one I am solely responsible, but is being fast tracked to production. I estimate maybe a month. I am not ready for the job market. I am ok what I do, a .NET software developer. Not at the top of the class, but I do a good job. I survived two general layoffs and other little layoffs they are having but keeping quiet about. I hear things.

The problem is I feel too good now to do this but too bad to enjoy life. I know I will never enjoy life. This is an over 30 year trend. Some people are happy, some are miserable. It is difficult to live almost continuously feeling an undercurrent of fear, worry, discontentment and helplessness. I can talk and joke around and sound happy but under it all is something different that seems unchangable and a permanent part of my being. I need to realize the details of what I never accomplished in life and to be convinced the future is merely a continuation of the past - WHICH IT ALWAYS has been. I am making a list of items that will provide motivation to do the exit plan, it won’t be published. I always had hope that maybe things will improve especially if I make big attempts to change my life. I made many big changes in the past two years but everything is still the same. Life is over. Even though I look good, dress well, well groomed - nails, teeth, hair, etc. Who knows.
What is it like to be dead? I always think I am forgetting something, that’s one reason I postponed. Similar to when you leave to get in your car to go somewhere - you hesitate with a thought: “what am I forgetting?”. In this case, I cannot make a return trip!

I like to write and talk. Ironic because I haven’t met anybody recently (past 30 years) who I want to be close friends with OR who want to be close friends with me. I was always open to suggestions to what I am doing wrong, no brother or father (mine are useless) or close friend to nudge me and give it bluntly yet tactfully wtf I am doing wrong. A personal coach or someone who knows what he is doing would be perfect. Money is highly secondary for a solution.

(More)

[ Edited: 06 August 2009 07:29 AM by Keep The Reason]
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Posted: 06 August 2009 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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(Continued)

May 5, 2009:
To pull the exit plan off, it popped into my mind to just use some booze. I want to do this before I get laid off, for reasons not worth mentioning but don’t seem to have the balls. After the gym, I stopped at Shop N Save and got a fifth of vodka and a small bottle of Jack Daniels. I haven’t had a drink since September 1, 1988, just over 20 years. It doesn’t matter now, I need to use it to take the edge off of carrying out the exit plan. I will be taking some every now and then to get used to it and see if the alcohol effects will embolden me. Weed would be fun to try again. I don’t know who has any. Life is over, who cares? I just need to use common sense, can’t drink and drive, etc. This idea just hit me at a point in time and I immediately acted on it. Same thing happened when I decided to go back to Pitt full time, first day was Monday, May 8, 1989, and to buy the house that closed on Friday, September 30, 1996, to name two examples I remember so well.

The list idea yesterday is working. I carry it in my wallet and add to it. I am feeling to good to do carry this out, but too bad to enjoy ANYTHING. My life’s dilema.

May 6, 2009:
I started the JD. About one ounce with some tea to get me started. No big deal.

May 7, 2009:
Went to the gym and did mostly cardio. My heart rate was 117 just from walking on the treadmill at 3.4. This should be done a few times a week for maybe 15 mins or so to keep the heart active. I sprinted a few times to push the limits.

May 18, 2009:
I actually had a date today. It was with a woman I met on the bus in March. We got together at Two PPG Place for lunch. The last date for me was May 1, 2008. Women just don’t like me. There are 30 million desirable women in the US (my estimate) and I cannot find one. Not one of them finds me attractive. I am looking at The List I made from my May 4th idea. I forgot about that for several days. That tells me where I stand. These problems have gotten worse over a 30 year period. I need to expect nothing from me or other people. All through the years I thought we had the ability to change ourselves - I guess that is incorrect. Looking at The List makes me realize how TOTALLY ALONE, a deeper word is ISOLATED, I am from all else.
I no longer have any expectations of myself. I have no options because I cannot work toward and achieve even the smallest goals. That is, ABOVE ALL, what bothers me the most. Not to be able to work towards what I want in my life. I believe I am deserve that. I read recently it is called “self efficacy”, but who knows. Is that more psychobable?

May 25, 2009:
I was invited to a picnic, and I went. An older woman there, out of the blue, asked if I liked high school. Then quickly asked if I was picked on very much. Intersting why she would ask that. But, thanks, I already know what the problem is, but a solution eludes me.

May 29, 2009:
Another lonely Friday night, I’m done. This is too much.

June 2, 2009:
Some people I was talking with believed I date a lot and get around with women. They think this because I showed an email I got from a hot woman to the department gossip, but it didn’t work out. All this is funny. Actually, I haven’t had sex since I was 29 years old, 19 years ago. That’s true.
June 5, 2009:
I was reading several posts on different forums and it seems many teenage girls have sex frequently. One 16 year old does it usually three times a day with her boyfriend. So, err, after a month of that, this little hoe has had more sex than ME in my LIFE, and I am 48. One more reason. Thanks for nada, XXXXXes! Bye.

July 4, 2009:
Wow, already late evening. I stayed in all day. Can’t believe there was NOTHING to do today. No parties or picnics. WTF. No need to leave now.

July 20, 2009:
Been a long time since last write. Everything still sucks. But I got a promotion and a raise, even in this XXXXty Obama ecomomy. No more grunt programming. Go figure! New boss is great. He tactfully says when you did something wrong or complements on good things. Never confused with him. But that is NOT what I want in life. I guess some of us were simply meant to walk a lonely path. I have slept alone for over 20 years. Last time I slept all night with a girlfriend it was 1982. Proof I am a total malfunction. Girls and women don’t even give me a second look ANYWHERE. There is something BLATANTLY wrong with me that NO goddam person will tell me what it is. Every person just wants to be XXXXXing nice and say nice things to me. Flattery. Oh yeah, I am sure you can get a date anytime. You look good, etc. Pussies.
Awwww, wait. I can just start being self-righteous and say I live a good, clean life. I am holy, that’s all Rick Knapp stuff. Hear that you mother XXXXXer: I Am Just Good!

July 23, 2009:
Wow!! I just looked out my front window and saw a beautiful college-age girl leave XXXXX’s house, across the street. I guess he got a good lay today. College girls are hoez. I masturbate. Frequently. He is about 45 years old. She was a long haired, hot little hottie with a beautiful bod. I masturbate. Frequently. Some were simply meant to walk a lonely path in life. I don’t usually look out, but just happened to notice. Holy XXXXX. I have masturbated since age 13. Thanks, mum and brother (by blood alone). And dad, old man, for TOTALLY ignoring me through the years. All of you DEEPLY helped me be this way.

I wish I can go back to 1975 and fix things. Awe, that wont work, big BULLY BROTHER would assert his bull XXXX. He was twice my size. He never messed with guys bigger than 5’10, or so. He is a PUSSY at heart. Remember, Michael is my brother (we have common parents, that’s all) is still a BOSS. Repetition only for emphasis: HE IS ONLY A BULLY, even at 50ish! Never forget that! Because he exudes confidence. People believe bull XXXX if delivered WITH CONFIDENCE. Get it??

On the same thought, things occured to me today. Michael NEVER had an attractive girlfriend. Debbie, Barb, Kim, ... then I lost track. Not to say I had any (execpt Pam, who was about a 7.25). He married a Chinese-descent, petite woman with no body, no ass, no chest and no personality. She never laughs or smiles, neither does he. But she is highly intelligent and an excellent cook. I can testify to that! She home bakes her own DELICIOUS wheat bread! But who cares about that type of small bull crap? Mike even mentioned when we were visiting dad that “she’s not very attractive”.
I don’t know where I am going with this. I am getting tired, feels good to write and get it all out.

On still another thought, I had 20 years of sobriety and achieved nothing about friendships, girlfriends, guys, etc. Zilch. What a waste.

Bye, for today.

August 2, 2009:
The biggest problem of all is not having relationships or friends, but not being able to achieve and acquire what I desire in those or many other areas. Everthing stays the same regardless of the effert I put in. If I had control over my life then I would be happier. But for about the past 30 years, I have not

August 3, 2009:
I took off today, Monday, and tomorrow to practice my routine and make sure it is well polished. I need to work out every detail, there is only one shot. Also I need to be completely immersed into something before I can be successful. I haven’t had a drink since Friday at about 2:30. Total effort needed. Tomorrow is the big day.
Unfortunately I talked to my neighbor today, who is very positive and upbeat. I need to remain focused and absorbed COMPLETELY. Last time I tried this, in January, I chickened out. Lets see how this new approach works.

Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell. Christ paid for EVERY sin, so how can I or you be judged BY GOD for a sin when the penalty was ALREADY paid. People judge but that does not matter. I was reading the Bible and The Integrity of God beginning yesterday, because soon I will see them.

=================

Police: Gym shooter ‘had a lot of hatred’ for women, society

(CNN)—A Pennsylvania man who walked into a gym aerobics class and opened fire, killing three women and wounding nine before turning the gun on himself, “had a lot of hatred in him,” police said Wednesday.

Pregnant aerobics instructor Mary Primis was teaching class when the gunman opened fire, critically injuring her.

George Sodini, 48, brought four handguns into the LA Fitness gym outside Pittsburgh and used three of them, firing at least 36 times around 8 p.m. Tuesday, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said.

Sodini, a member of the gym, was found dead in the aerobics room, lying on top of one of his guns about seven feet from one of the victims.

Authorities believe Sodini targeted the aerobics class, because a schedule was found in his home with that class circled, Moffatt said.

But police do not believe he targeted anyone personally. An online diary, as well as notes at the scene and at his home, have led them to believe he was targeting women in general. Read an edited version of the diary (PDF)

In the note found at the scene in Sodini’s gym bag, he complains he had never spent a weekend with a woman, never vacationed with a woman and never lived with a woman, and that he had had limited sexual experiences, Moffatt said.

He makes similar complaints in his online blog, which also documents his growing rage at women for rejecting him and at the world he felt had abandoned him.

Witnesses told police the gunman was dressed in black when he entered the class, shut off the lights, walked about 10 feet and opened fire.

Mary Primis, 26, an aerobics instructor who is 10 weeks pregnant, was shot twice.

“I remember thinking I wanted to hold my breath because I was afraid, if he saw that I was breathing, he would shoot again,” she told CNN affiliate WPXI from her hospital bed.

Asked if she thought she was going to die, she said, “I wasn’t sure.”

Link to Story Contains PDF of Diary Excerpts

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Posted: 06 August 2009 10:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Keep The Reason - 06 August 2009 11:21 AM

It’s always there, it seems, lurking at the bottom of the tank like an alligator in a murky swamp.  Faith gives people the “strength” to do a lot of crazy cruel shit.

I think you are narrowing the field beyond what is reasonable.  People ‘do’ because they ‘believe’ that what they plan to do is or might be meaningful.  Meaning is created in the present whether or not there is something beyond it or at back of it.

Consider for example the relationship between the Eiffel Tower and the Pythagorean Theorem:  Pythagoras believed that the theorem was part of the eternal abstract.  It defined something meaningful:  The relationship among three lines arranged in the form of right-angle triangle where the square of the hypotenuse (long side) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.  He held that the ‘eternal abstract’ embeded this idea into his mind.  This is faith but what results is not ‘crazy cruel shit’ but could be used toward that end.  It could also be used to support the steel beams in a structure like the Eiffel Tower.

Perhaps our problem is not with faith but with what people do and how they justify their actions.

[ Edited: 06 August 2009 11:03 AM by John Brand]
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Posted: 06 August 2009 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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John Brand - 06 August 2009 02:37 PM

I think you are narrowing the field beyond what is reasonable.  People ‘do’ because they ‘believe’ that what they plan to do is or might be meaningful.  Meaning is created in the present whether or not there is something beyond it or at back of it.

There is rational faith: A belief one’s theories will be confirmed as true, a trust in the future behavior of a friend, the trust one puts in going to a new doctor not knowing for sure he is even a doctor…

And there is irrational faith like that which supports and fuels religious and political ideology. Belief in unjustified claims apart from or in spite of evidence to the contrary.

I don’t confuse the two—one is the proferring of trust based on some level of critical judgment, and one is proferring belief sans critical judgment.

This episode—and so many more like it—incorporates the latter.

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Posted: 06 August 2009 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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This guy was just plain mentally ill. That population often incorporates theistic thought into the mental fog of their delusional psyches (fits right in), though his reference to it is almost an aside or afterthought (now, there were no hinderances or reason for delay). He seems to have been wrapped up in an egocentric point of view exacerbated by his perceived inability to connect with others, thereby creating in his mind and by his actions a further sense of isolation from the rest of the world. I don’t know that I would closely associate this with religious faith, but it’s interesting that faith/religion components seem to gravitate to these types of aberrant thinking and behaviors, without the power of circumvention and prevention. So what good is it in this case? What does faith get you? This is clays, god has moral justification for everything, even if there is none.

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Posted: 06 August 2009 01:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Keep The Reason - 06 August 2009 03:30 PM

There is rational faith: A belief one’s theories will be confirmed as true, a trust in the future behavior of a friend, the trust one puts in going to a new doctor not knowing for sure he is even a doctor…

And there is irrational faith like that which supports and fuels religious and political ideology. Belief in unjustified claims apart from or in spite of evidence to the contrary.

I don’t confuse the two—one is the proferring of trust based on some level of critical judgment, and one is proferring belief sans critical judgment.

This episode—and so many more like it—incorporates the latter.

I wouldn’t argue that an irrational faith does not fuel religious and political ideologies.  However, I think that you are moving from this to a generalization for which I do not see support:  All faith in the abstract leads to harm when devoid of critical judgment.

There are instances, the rationalist would argue when you are unable to critically assess a course of action.  For example, ‘thou shalt not steal’ when taken in the Kantian sense as applicable at all times, is difficult to critically assess.  Kant’s categorical imperative involves an uncritical faith which generally does not lead to but, rather, avoids harm.

This is the direction of my objection to your argument.  Accepting as true something which one cannot critically assess, does not in every instance lead to harm but may prove to be beneficial such as the application of the pythagorean theorem.  Potentially, the pythagorean theorem is falsifiable or subject to critical assessment.  But not all actions can be assessed in this same way.

[ Edited: 06 August 2009 01:16 PM by John Brand]
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Posted: 06 August 2009 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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goodgraydrab - 06 August 2009 04:34 PM

This guy was just plain mentally ill. That population often incorporates theistic thought into the mental fog of their delusional psyches (fits right in), though his reference to it is almost an aside or afterthought (now, there were no hinderances or reason for delay). He seems to have been wrapped up in an egocentric point of view exacerbated by his perceived inability to connect with others, thereby creating in his mind and by his actions a further sense of isolation from the rest of the world. I don’t know that I would closely associate this with religious faith, but it’s interesting that faith/religion components seem to gravitate to these types of aberrant thinking and behaviors, without the power of circumvention and prevention. So what good is it in this case? What does faith get you? This is clays, god has moral justification for everything, even if there is none.

I can’t disagree with your statement, GGD.  Freud said somewhere that “religion” is “a universal obsessional neurosis” which means that it is an escape from dealing with things as they are.  This is a good case in point.  But running away from religion and the basis for religion because of the harm that is caused can equally be a neurosis.

I thought of you today, believe it or not.  I was listening to a lecture and he mentioned a book entitled “I am that.”  And I thought of your signature on the forum here.

One can ‘follow the bliss’ and move toward health but the neurotic will mistake bliss for the kind of confusion we see in this example.

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Posted: 06 August 2009 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Keep The Reason - 06 August 2009 03:30 PM

... there is irrational faith like that which supports and fuels religious and political ideology. Belief in unjustified claims apart from or in spite of evidence to the contrary.

I don’t confuse the two—one is the proferring of trust based on some level of critical judgment, and one is proferring belief sans critical judgment.

This episode—and so many more like it—incorporates the latter.

Let me just add to what I have said earlier in today’s post by agreeing that religious and political ideologies can be linked to harm as in this case. However, the response should be to develop a rubric for assessing the link rather than avoiding the ideologies.  The case of politics is immediately a self-refuting argument when viewed from the vantage point of no political ideology and the result that would follow. But perhaps it is through their results (harmful or otherwise) that religious and political ideologies can be assessed.

For example, in ancient Athens the religion of the oligarchs did not take into account the need for fair dealing with others.  The land was being used to grow wheat but was not capable of supporting the landowner because of poor yields.  Loans were being negotiated using the person as collateral.  When a landowner defaulted, he had to sell himself as a slave in order to repay the debt.  At the time of Solon (7th Century BCE), the majority of land ownership was in the hands of the oligarchs.  This led to frustration and the outbreak of civil war.  Solon pointed to the greed of the oligarchs as the cause.  Yet, the oligarchs could point to the gods and defend their greed.  Something was wrong with the religious ideology but Solon’s criticism pointed to the moral action of the oligarchs rather than the religion as the source of the problem.

Zoroaster, similarly, criticized the religious ideologies of Persia which led to reform of the religious and political system based on the religion. 

Judged from a purely pragmatic perspective, abolishing religion and all abstract belief is plagued with difficulty.  But inviting criticism of the beliefs based on the results, seems more workable from my vantage point.

[ Edited: 06 August 2009 02:20 PM by John Brand]
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Posted: 06 August 2009 04:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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John Brand - 06 August 2009 06:17 PM

The case of politics is immediately a self-refuting argument when viewed from the vantage point of no political ideology and the result that would follow.

And who has a vantage point of no political ideology?  A space alien?

Isn’t that like saying “The case of literature is immediately a self-refuting argument when viewed from the vantage point of no language.”

Are you suggesting that you are so exquisitely attuned to your own political ideology that you can “set it aside” for the purposes of scrutinizing “the case of politics?”

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Posted: 06 August 2009 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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But inviting criticism of the beliefs based on the results, seems more workable from my vantage point.

I enjoyed reading your posts, JB.  Would you also agree that a critique of religion based on results should also determine a solid link between the action/behavior and the ideology driving the action?

For instance, in the OP example, KTR’s religion alarm went off when he saw that, after ranting and raving about his less than stellar sexual record and other misogynist leanings, George Sodini mentioned God and Jesus at the end.  What kind of case could be made that Sodini’s religious faith in Christ actually provided motivation and justification for his actions?  And, even if it could, based on his journal and what people know of him (although I doubt it could), can you use this example to make generalizations about religion or even Christian religion as a whole? 

These questions are rhetorical for me, the answers are: “you can’t” and “no” respectively.  But I am curious about your response.

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Posted: 06 August 2009 09:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Welcome back John, always enjoy your posts. As for your comments here, I think there is also and issue of who holds the faith, what is their moral status, how do they handle their faith, do they hold it in restraint with critical thought?

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Posted: 07 August 2009 04:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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teuchter - 06 August 2009 08:46 PM
John Brand - 06 August 2009 06:17 PM

The case of politics is immediately a self-refuting argument when viewed from the vantage point of no political ideology and the result that would follow.

And who has a vantage point of no political ideology?  A space alien?

Isn’t that like saying “The case of literature is immediately a self-refuting argument when viewed from the vantage point of no language.”

Are you suggesting that you are so exquisitely attuned to your own political ideology that you can “set it aside” for the purposes of scrutinizing “the case of politics?

No. A person who eats curry every day becomes unaware of the scent of curry that is obvious to anyone who does not eat curry every day.  But maybe this person smokes and is unaware of the smell of nicotine that may nauseate the person who eats curry.  I think that our ideologies are something like the ingestion of curry or tobacco smoke.  An openess to others influenced by contrasting ideologies is one way to become attuned to the short comings of our own ideologies.

Perhaps some clarity can come from using your language vs. literature illustration.  At the time of the Scottish enlightenment, the philosopher Thomas Reid talked about the idea of natural language which he argued was behind the various artificial languages (i.e. French, German, etc.).  A facial expression, for example, is an expression in the same way that a word is an expression.  Literature attempts to draw a picture in words of human experience that can be expressed through words, expressions, riots, art, etc..

Returning to the relationship between political forms and the ideologies behind them:  We can allow criticism of our ideologies only if we can distance ourselves from our own political form.  Some sort of form is necessary, nonetheless.

And to move back to the idea of religious forms and the idelogies behind them:  Once we can distance ourselves from the forms we choose (and even an apparent freedom from faith is a form), we can become critical of them, compare them with other forms and, perhaps, get behind all of these to the natural or essence that is lurking beneath.  In other words, what someone might call spiritual maturity another might call become awake and someone else might call a realization of some sort.

[ Edited: 07 August 2009 06:02 AM by John Brand]
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Posted: 07 August 2009 04:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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clayforHim648 - 06 August 2009 10:14 PM

But inviting criticism of the beliefs based on the results, seems more workable from my vantage point.

I enjoyed reading your posts, JB.  Would you also agree that a critique of religion based on results should also determine a solid link between the action/behavior and the ideology driving the action?

For instance, in the OP example, KTR’s religion alarm went off when he saw that, after ranting and raving about his less than stellar sexual record and other misogynist leanings, George Sodini mentioned God and Jesus at the end.  What kind of case could be made that Sodini’s religious faith in Christ actually provided motivation and justification for his actions?  And, even if it could, based on his journal and what people know of him (although I doubt it could), can you use this example to make generalizations about religion or even Christian religion as a whole? 

These questions are rhetorical for me, the answers are: “you can’t” and “no” respectively.  But I am curious about your response.

Yes. I caught the rhetorical.  I think it is useful to dissect Sodini’s ‘religious faith in Christ’ in much the same way as Freud, for example, dissected hysteria in order to learn from a negative what positive health in a human being looks like or could look like.  Psychology has moved toward postive models in more recent times.

Believing in forgiveness for present sin and in the offer of a hope for a future immortality seems to fuel all kinds of dysfunctional religious practices.  I think that there is a neurosis in this type of thinking that can be illustrated from an experience I had in talking with a fundamentalist friend.

He was asking me what I saw as wrong about Christianity and I answered by using the metaphor from the movie Madagascar:  We are living like animals in a zoo.  When the prospect of a freedom is offered to us after a long journey, we ask ‘do they have goo juice?’

His response surprised me: “We won’t experience freedom until we get to heaven or Jesus returns.”

Although one is more dysfunctional than the second both Sodoni and my fundamentalist friend are not facing what is on their plate at the present and that is the essence of neurosis.  But neurosis can take many forms.

For example, imagine someone who spends every evening in a discotheque.  Going home each evening as he walks through a park or large open space, he may feel it like a vast emptiness.  In fact, the open space is a powerful emptiness. It is full of sounds of the night such as the cricket. He could even hear his own breath as it moves in and out of his body.  But the emptiness may be experienced as an inconvenience rather than a powerful place for rest and peace.  He may slip on a pair of earphones to avoid the void but that space is always behind the noise.

I would call this type avoidance a neurosis and group it alongside of the other forms.

[ Edited: 07 August 2009 07:05 AM by John Brand]
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Posted: 07 August 2009 05:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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burt - 07 August 2009 01:40 AM

Welcome back John, always enjoy your posts. As for your comments here, I think there is also and issue of who holds the faith, what is their moral status, how do they handle their faith, do they hold it in restraint with critical thought?

Hi, Burt. Thanks for the welcome.  Isn’t Chinese Madyamaka theory an example of holding to a form with critical thought?  In the west, the philosopher Karl Popper advocates both orthodoxy and unorthodoxy being held in a tension so that each can allow for fasification of their own structure. Of course, the pragmatic value of a theory or the moral status of the adherant of a faith is the whole point.  Getting at the essence, in each case, can only enhance the pragmatic value.  I would agree that we should always recognize our own dysfuntion (the Madyamaka theory) and move toward better and better ways of doing what we are trying to do: ‘we learn to do things by doing the things we are learning to do’ (Aristotle).

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Posted: 07 August 2009 07:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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John Brand - 06 August 2009 05:13 PM

But running away from religion and the basis for religion because of the harm that is caused can equally be a neurosis.

Perhaps your point is true to some extent with regard to reason. Regardless of motivation, failure to acknowledge the harm that is caused and doing nothing about it, either in word or deed, is worse.   

I thought of you today, believe it or not.

I thought of you a couple of days ago when I was wondering where everybody went. Good to see you Johnny.

One can ‘follow the bliss’ and move toward health but the neurotic will mistake bliss for the kind of confusion we see in this example.

Moving toward health is a tall order for a closed mind.

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Posted: 07 August 2009 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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For a person that is mentally ill or unstable, would not believing in the unbelievable, or believing in supernatural agency just an easy lateral move?

While everyone that is deluded by faith and superstition is obviously not mentally unbalanced, it seems that people who are already in an unbalanced frame of mind would find it much easier to believe in things that defy rational thought.

Thus, this type of behavior in the op from said individuals should not surprise any of us.

IMO this is the danger with ‘faith’ and delusion, and the reason for books like Sams and Dennetts and Dawkins. Once any of us tread into the world of magic, where will it take us? Depends on each of our mental states and mental capabilities I would think.

This particular story would provide an example of the extreme obviously, but it does indeed happen, and more often than it should.

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