Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category
A very interesting column on the actual effect of heroic life-extending medical interventions. The determination to make sure the patient’s suffering is extended as long as medically possible seems particularly odd in Christians, who, after all, believe that there’s a life after death—and in fact a glorious life—for those who have led good lives. I doubt that the prolonging the patient’s life at any cost is due to a strong conviction that this person would very much want to postpone as much as possible their arrival at an unpleasant place. So what drives it? Fear of one’s own mortality? That the idea of dying triggers blind resistance (aka “the will to survive”)? That sounds about right: can’t let them die because that would mean that I shall die.
Otherwise, I don’t get it.
And once again, the extremely well thought out and cogently written essay turns out to be an extract from a book. Note to self: Read more books.
Jeffrey Tayler in Salon:
On Nov. 14, the topless militants of Femen took Italy by storm and did what they do best: blaspheme. Interrupting a live television broadcast in Rome, Inna Shevchenko, leader of the radical feminist movement’s French division, marched four of her slender, 20-something activists onto the set of “Announo,” a popular Italian talk show. Coiffed in floral wreaths redolent of Femen’s Ukrainian origins, they kneeled and clasped hands, as if preparing to beseech the Lord.
However, no prayers or professions of piety ensued. Rather, they enacted what to many in the audience surely sounded like a solemn yet mocking atheistic rendition of the Lord’s Prayer.
“Glory be to equality and secularism,” they intoned in English, with an off-camera interpreter translating their words into Italian. “As it was not in the beginning, it should be now and ever should be: a parliament without pope, a world without religion. Because God is not a magician, and the pope is not a politician! Amen!”
(“Magician” referred to Pope Francis’ October pronouncement, praised in liberal circles, that God was not “a magician with a magic wand” and had merely set off the Big Bang to get the world going.)
Applause was grudging. On an increasingly secular continent, Italy, with the Vatican in its midst, remains one of Europe’s most churchgoing countries; and bare-breasted women performing a sham prayer implicating the pontiff (especially one as beloved as this one) cannot fail to rile the faithful and strike them as profane. In fact, even some nonbelievers may have taken offense, given that the pope has issued a plethora of seemingly progressive declarations of late.
But Femen was not striving to please anyone, as would shortly become even more apparent. Shevchenko took the mic and warned of, as she saw it, the “danger” posed to secularism by the pope’s plans to address the European Parliament on Nov. 25. The papal visit to the EU’s key political institution constitutes “a direct attack on secularism, on equality, on human rights, on the separation between church and state.” These things must “be a priority today for activists like us, and for religious people who are in favor of equality and freedom of speech.” She asked that people stand up for their principles and speak out. “The pope is not a magician, and this is why the pope will never be a politician!” Left unstated was her, and Femen’s, premise: The Catholic faith, and all organized religions, in fact, oppress women and foil social progress, and should be stripped of their influence over public institutions.
Amid the brouhaha that followed, one of “Announo’s” guests declared his outrage at the “offense” given to the Catholic Church and the pope and stormed off the set, ignoring the host’s request to stay and Shevchenko’s plea for a frank dialogue about religion. Shevchenko then handed the mic to another of her activists, who announced that “Femen fucks Putin! Femen fucks Berlusconi! Femen fucks the pope, but with a condom!” After that, the women showered the stage with condoms and walked out.
Femen’s manner of protesting has not proved to everyone’s liking, to put it mildly, but one thing is certain: In an era of rising political disaffection and apathy, people pay attention. Bare breasts are not incidental to Femen’s struggle. The movement has aimed to wrest conceptions about women’s bodies from the clutches of the three (doctrinally prudish and phallocratic) Abrahamic religions that would shroud them, partly or in full, in cloth as well as in shame. Toplessness is, in Femen’s view, a means of boldly violating gender- and faith-based societal norms; and atheism has formed a part of the Femen canon since the movement’s inception in 2008. . .
It’s a long read, but it’s interesting. And the photos are stunning.
In thinking about it, this story shows why guys like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are so strongly opposed to religion. This is a story of how religion can destroy a sense of civility, decency, and mutual respect.
The Washington Post reports about the shooter in Austin, being extremely careful not to call him a “terrorist” for some reason. They go so far as “extremist,” but not “terrorist.”
Yet he quite clearly was indeed a terrorist. You may recall a few years back when Janet Napolitano, new head of DHS, published a report that had been done under the Bush administration about the threat of right-wing terrorist groups in the US. The GOP had a hysterical meltdown and insisted that the report be withdrawn. Since that time we’ve seen more killings by domestic right-wing terrorists in the US than by any foreign terrorists here. However, these domestic terrorists are overwhelmingly white, and apparently journalistic protocol precludes identifying a white person as a “terrorist,” and particularly a white professed Christian. So we get “extremist.”
But still—one sort of expects it from the Taliban, but in Arizona?
They are anti-theists, an attitude that dates back at least to the 18th century. As for atheism—disbelief in God, with no particular animus against believers or religion—that dates back as far as religion: it is certainly not to be supposed that no one ever disbelieved. People vary, and some will not believe.