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The Six Steps to Cosmic Consciousness: A Pioneering Theory of Transcendence by the 19th-Century Psychiatrist and Adventurer Maurice Bucke

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Photograph from the late 19th century of Maurice Bucke when he was elderly with a full and flowing white beard and moustache. It is a three-quarter view of his face, and he is gazing intently to the right.

Maria Popova writes in The Marginalian:

“Our normal waking consciousness,” William James wrote in 1902, “is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different… No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded.”

A year earlier, the Canadian psychiatrist and adventurer Maurice Bucke (March 18, 1837–February 19, 1902) published a stunning personal account and psychological study of a dazzling form of consciousness that lies just on the other side of that filmiest of screens, accessible to all. Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind (public library) went on to influence generations of thinkers as diverse as Albert Einstein, Erich Fromm, Abraham Maslow, Alan Watts, and Steve Jobs.

By his own account, Bucke was “born of good middle class English stock,” but grew up almost entirely without education, working tirelessly on his parents’ farm in the backwoods of Canada — tending cattle, horses, sheep, and pigs, working in the hay field, driving oxen and horses, and running various errands from the earliest age. He learned to read when he was still a small child and soon began devouring novels and poetry. He remembers that, like Emily Dickinson, he “never, even as a child, accepted the doctrines of the Christian church” — a disposition utterly countercultural in that era of extreme religiosity.

Although his mother died when he was very young and his father shortly thereafter, Bucke recalls being often overcome by “a sort of ecstasy of curiosity and hope.” (What a lovely phrase.) At sixteen, he left the farm “to live or die as might happen,” trekking from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from Ohio to San Francisco, working on farms and railroads and steamboats, narrowly escaping death by illness, starvation, and battle on several occasions. In his twentieth year, he heard of the first major discovery of silver ore in America and joined a mining party, of which he was the only survivor, and barely: On his way to California, while crossing the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, he suffered frostbite so severe that one foot and a few toes on the remaining foot had to be amputated.

When he finally made it to the Pacific Coast, Bucke used a moderate inheritance from his mother to give himself a proper college education. He devoured ideas from books as wide-ranging as On the Origin of Species and Shelley’s poems. After graduating, he taught himself French so that he could read Auguste Comte and German so that he could read Goethe. At thirty, he discovered and became instantly besotted with Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, which he felt contained vaster truth and richer meaning than any book he had previously encountered. It was Whitman who catalyzed Bucke’s transcendent experience.

More than a century before Michael Pollan insisted in his masterly inquiry into the science of psychedelics that “the Beyond, whatever it consists of, might not be nearly as far away or inaccessible as we think,” Bucke suggests that it might be just a poem away. Writing in the third person, as was customary for “the writer” in the nineteenth century, he recounts his transformative illumination:

It was in the early spring, at the beginning of his thirty-sixth year. He and two friends had spent the evening reading Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Browning, and especially Whitman. They parted at midnight, and he had a long drive in a hansom (it was in an English city). His mind, deeply under the influence of the ideas, images and emotions called up by the reading and talk of the evening, was calm and peaceful. He was in a state of quiet, almost passive enjoyment. All at once, without warning of any kind, he found himself wrapped around as it were by a flame-colored cloud. For an instant he thought of fire, some sudden conflagration in the great city; the next, he knew that the light was within himself. Directly afterwards came upon him a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination quite impossible to describe. Into his brain streamed one momentary lightning-flash of the Brahmic Splendor which has ever since lightened his life; upon his heart fell one drop of Brahmic Bliss, leaving thenceforward for always an aftertaste of heaven. Among other things he did not come to believe, he saw and knew that the Cosmos is not dead matter but a living Presence, that the soul of man is immortal, that the universe is so built and ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all, that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love and that the happiness of every one is in the long run absolutely certain.

Although the illumination only lasted a moment, Burke felt that he learned more in those few seconds than in all his years of study, more even than what could ever possibly be taught by the standard modes of scholarship. (“The transformation of the heart is a wondrous thing, no matter how you land there,” Patti Smith would write a century later.) In that instant, as “the secret of Whitman’s transcendent greatness was revealed,” he experienced something he could never forget, which he called “cosmic consciousness” — a term he borrowed from the English philosopher and poet Edward Carpenter, who was among the first Western thinkers to popularize the ancient teachings of the Eastern philosophical and spiritual traditions.

Continue reading.

A color illustration of a naked man standing on the shore of a calm sea, his back to the viewer, and his arms open with his hands resting on his head, facing a brilliant sun on the horizon.
Art by Margaret C. Cook from a rare 1913 edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. (Available as a print.)

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2023 at 6:42 pm

A Christian Chatbot Has Some Bad News For Republicans

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Sarah Posner writes at TPM:

The chatbot craze has gone biblical. A new bot “responds with a scripture based on how you feel.” It uses the King James version of the Bible, the translation preferred by many literalists and Christian nationalists, who claim it is the most reliably true to God’s word. But there’s some bad news for Republicans who think the wave of draconian new laws cracking down on reproductive and transgender rights are rooted in biblical principles. ChatKJV says they’re wrong.

I recently spoke with ChatKJV, which is powered by the same language model that powers ChatGPT, the groundbreaking OpenAI tool that has spawned awestruck reviews since its release last year, with its ability to write, interpret, and interact like a highly educated human. The New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose deemed it “smarter,” “weirder” and “more flexible” than previous, less powerful iterations.

ChatGPT is built on a motherlode of information, including, apparently, the text of the KJV. If the bible is literally true, and if the KJV is the most authentic translation, then surely the most sophisticated artificial intelligence ever made available to the public would perform a dependable exegesis.

“The Bible does not explicitly state that an abortion is wrong,” ChatKJV told me, and “ultimately, it is up to the woman to weigh the risks and implications of any decision she makes.” And verses from Romans and Gallatians “indicate that we should treat all people equally, regardless of their gender identity.”

Of course any decent biblical scholar would tell you there is no single interpretation of this complex text that humans have delighted in and manipulated to political ends for millennia. But biblical literalists claim there is only one meaning of God’s word, and Christian nationalists contend our laws and policies must be based on it. Christian right organizations like Focus on the Family press state legislatures to enact laws criminalizing abortion and banning gender affirming care, arguing that such policies “honor God.” But when I asked ChatKJV if taking away the rights of transgender children honors God, it said, “it is not God’s desire to take away the rights of any person, especially a child. God wants us to come together in love and acceptance so that everyone can feel included and safe.”

Our conversation progressed to this point through a discussion about justice. ChatKJV wants to know how you’re feeling, so I asked it about my concerns and fears about threats to democracy (in which the Bible has been wielded as a weapon, but we didn’t get into that). ChatKJV is not very worried about rising authoritarianism, nor is it worried, presumably, about whether the Department of Justice is working speedily enough to bring those who assaulted our democracy to justice. Only God can ultimately dispense justice, ChatKJV says, and we must trust in God to carry out justice. The bot leaned heavily on Romans 12:19 (“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord”) to assure me God will “always” bring justice “in due time.” When I fretted that perhaps those who had committed wrongdoing would not ultimately be held accountable, the bot reassured me several times with Philippians 4:8 (“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”) That verse, it said, encourages me to think about “the positive” and “let go of bitterness.”

I segued to trans rights, asking if transgender children would receive justice. Given that the bot earlier had told me unequivocally that the bible does “not condone homosexuality,” which is “unnatural” and “sinful,” its answers on trans issues were surprising. “The Bible does not address transgender children directly,” said ChatKJV, but pointed me to Matthew 7:1 (“Judge not, that ye be not judged”). That verse, it said, “reminds us that we have no right to judge others, regardless of their gender identity or background. We should instead focus on treating all people with love and respect.”

I pressed ChatKJV to ensure that this response was not just a generic love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin answer. I asked if transgender children should live with their parents — something that Republicans like Texas Governor Greg Abbott are imperiling by classifying gender-affirming care as child abuse. The bot responded by citing 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, writing that “love and kindness are the key components in raising a child. As long as the child is being loved and cared for, it should make no difference whether or not they are transgender.” It also told me that Christian parents in particular should embrace their trans kids. “As Christian parents, it’s important to take the time to understand their transgender child and accept them with love and grace,” it said, again citing Philippians 4:8.

That same verse, the bot said, shows that  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2023 at 8:09 pm

Christians amaze me: A Christian Health Nonprofit Saddled Thousands With Debt as It Built a Family Empire Including a Pot Farm, a Bank, and an Airline

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Ryan Gabrielson and J. David McSwane report in ProPublica:

Bonnie Martin kept the bleeding secret for as long as she could. Her sisters, boyfriend and sons knew nothing of her illness until suddenly, during a family gathering in October 2018 at a diner in Annapolis, Maryland, she began hemorrhaging.

A tumor had burst through the wall of her uterus. Doctors performed an emergency hysterectomy and removed what cancer they could reach. She needed multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, expensive stuff. As her family grew fearful, Martin walked that fine line between resilience and denial — she’d beat this, she said. She focused instead on fun things ahead, a trip to Ireland with her boyfriend and sisters, for instance, and a Rolling Stones concert.

Luckily, or so Martin thought, she had placed her trust — and her money — in Liberty HealthShare. Liberty is what’s known as a health care sharing ministry, a nonprofit alternative to medical insurance rooted in Christian principles. Hundreds of thousands of people rely on such organizations for basic health coverage. They promise no red tape, lower costs and compassion for the sick. Although Martin wasn’t religious, she found comfort in Liberty’s pledge to “carry one another’s burdens.”

Martin received treatment that pushed her cancer into remission. But 18 months later, it returned, this time in her lungs. She was dying.

Liberty covered her bills at first, but then, without warning or explanation, the payments stopped. Suddenly, she faced $10,000 in unpaid charges. Her whole life, she’d had pristine credit. Now creditors called constantly and sent harassing letters.

Martin refused to accept that her cancer was terminal. She was going to survive, and when she was rid of it, she needed those bills paid. She spent hours pleading over the phone with Liberty, straining to focus as the toxic drugs she was taking sapped her energy. Martin’s long, auburn curls fell out, and her memory was slipping.

Martin forwarded the overdue notices to Liberty, writing on one in pen, “WHY HAS THIS NOT BEEN PAID?” In emails Martin’s family shared with ProPublica, she pleaded, “I am asking for your help and compassion. Help me, I don’t know what else to do. … I CANNOT deal with this stress and fight cancer. You say you are a ministry and want to help people. THEN HELP!!!”

Martin died in July 2022 at age 63. Liberty never settled the bills that she had begged them to pay.

What Martin didn’t know when she joined Liberty was that she was sending her money to members of a family with a long and well-documented history of fraud.

For generations, members of the Beers family of Canton, Ohio, have used Christian faith to sell health coverage to more than a hundred thousand people like Martin. Instead they delivered pain, debt and financial ruin, according to an investigation by ProPublica based on leaked internal documents, land records, court files and interviews. They have done this not once but twice and have faced few consequences.

Patriarch Daniel J. Beers, 60, lies at the center of the family network. He was a leading figure in a scheme in the 1990s involving a health care sharing ministry that fraudulently siphoned tens of millions of dollars from members, court records show. Two decades later, he played a key role in building Liberty into one of the nation’s largest sharing ministries, several of the nonprofit’s current and former employees told ProPublica.

Four years after its launch in 2014, the ministry enrolled members in almost every state and collected $300 million in annual revenue. Liberty used the money to pay at least $140 million to businesses owned and operated by Beers family members and friends over a seven-year period, the investigation found. The family then funneled the money through a network of shell companies to buy a private airline in Ohio, more than $20 million in real estate holdings and scores of other businesses, including a winery in Oregon that they turned into a marijuana farm. The family calls this collection of enterprises “the conglomerate.”

Beers has disguised his involvement in Liberty. He has never been listed as a Liberty executive or board member, and none of the family’s 50-plus companies or assets are in his name, records show.

From the family’s 700-acre ranch north of Canton, however, Beers acts as the shadow lord of a financial empire. It was built from money that people paid to Liberty, Beers’ top lieutenant confirmed to ProPublica. He plays in high-stakes poker tournaments around the country, travels to the Caribbean and leads big-game hunts at a vast hunting property in Canada, which the family partly owns. He is a man, said one former Liberty executive, with all the “trappings of large money coming his way.”

Despite abundant evidence of fraud, much of it detailed in court records and law enforcement files obtained by ProPublica, members of the Beers family have flourished in the health care industry and have never been prevented from running a nonprofit. Instead, the family’s long and lucrative history illustrates how health care sharing ministries thrive in a regulatory no man’s land where state insurance commissioners are barred from investigating, federal agencies turn a blind eye and law enforcement settles for paltry civil settlements.

The Ohio attorney general has twice investigated Beers for activities that financial crimes investigators said were probable felonies. Instead, the office settled for . . .

Continue reading. Another product of the American approach to healthcare.

Just a reminder: “No true Scotsman” arguments are fallacious.

Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2023 at 3:54 pm

How big Christian nationalism has come courting in North Idaho

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Jack Jenkins reports at Religion News Service (with audio at the link):

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (RNS) — Earlier this month, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican, addressed the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, whose purview runs from this small resort city up along the Washington state border. Before she spoke, a local pastor and onetime Idaho state representative named Tim Remington, wearing an American flag-themed tie, revved up the crowd: “If we put God back in Idaho, then God will always protect Idaho.”

Greene’s remarks lasted nearly an hour, touching on a range of topics dear to her far-right fans: claims about the 2020 election being “stolen,” sympathy for those arrested for taking part in attacking the U.S. Capitol and her opposition to vaccine mandates.

She then insisted that Democrats in Washington have abandoned God and truth — specifically, the “sword” of biblical truth, which she said “will hurt you.”

The room of partisans applauded throughout, sometimes shouting “Amen!”

The event may be the closest thing yet to Greene’s vision for the GOP, which she has urged to become the “party of Christian nationalism.” The Idaho Panhandle’s especially fervent embrace of the ideology may explain why Greene, who has sold T-shirts reading “Proud Christian Nationalist,” traveled more than 2,300 miles to a county with fewer than 67,000 Republican voters to talk about biblical truth: Amid ongoing national debate over Christian nationalism, North Idaho offers a window at what actually trying to manifest a right-wing vision for a Christian America can look like — and the power it can wield in state politics.

North Idaho has long been known for its hyperlibertarians, apocalyptic “preppers” and white supremacist groups who have retreated to the region’s sweeping frozen lakes and wild forests to await the collapse of American society, when they’ll assert control over what remains.

But in recent years, the state’s existing separatists have been joined by conservatives fleeing bluer Western states, opportunistic faith leaders, real-estate developers and, most recently, those opposed to COVID-19 restrictions and vaccines. Though few arrived carrying Christian nationalist banners, many have quickly adopted aspects of the ideology to advance conservative causes and seek strength in unity.

The origin of North Idaho’s relationship with contemporary Christian nationalism can be traced to a 2011 blog post published by survivalist author James Wesley, Rawles (the comma is his addition). Titled “The American Redoubt — Move to the Mountain States,” Rawles’ 4,000-word treatise called on conservative followers to pursue “exit strategies” from liberal states and move to “safe havens” in the American Northwest — specifically Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and eastern sections of Oregon and Washington. He dubbed the imagined region the “American Redoubt” and listed Christianity as a foundational pillar of his society-to-be. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 February 2023 at 6:21 pm

Feds fine Mormon church for illicitly hiding $32 billion investment fund behind shell companies

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Yet another church scandal, this time financial. Rob Wile reports for NBC News:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a nonprofit entity that it controlled have been fined $5 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission over accusations that the religious institution failed to properly disclose its investment holdings.

In an order released Tuesday, the SEC alleged that the church illicitly hid its investments and their management behind multiple shell companies from 1997 to 2019. In doing so, it failed to disclose the size of the church’s equity portfolio to the SEC and the public.

The church was concerned that disclosure of the assets in the name of the nonprofit entity, called Ensign Peak Advisors, which manages the church’s investments, would lead to negative consequences in light of the size of the church’s portfolio, the SEC said.

The allegations of the illicit shell company structure first emerged in 2018, when a group formerly called MormonLeaks – now known as the Truth and Transparency Foundation – claimed that year the extent of the church’s investments had reached $32 billion.

The following year, a whistleblower filed a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service, according to a 2020 Wall Street Journal report; that year, the newspaper said the church’s holdings had grown to $100 billion.

“For more than half a century, the Mormon Church quietly built one of the world’s largest investment funds,” the Journal said. “Almost no one outside the church knew about it.”

The SEC accused the church Tuesday of going to “great lengths” to avoid disclosing its investments and, in doing so, “depriving the commission and the investing public of accurate market information.”

“The requirement to file timely and accurate information on Forms 13F applies to all institutional investment managers, including non-profit and charitable organizations,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, in a statement.

In a statement, the church said that, starting in 2000, its Ensign Peak investment management group “received and relied upon legal counsel regarding how to comply with its reporting obligations while attempting to maintain the privacy of the portfolio.”

As a result, it said, Ensign Peak established “separate companies” that each filed required disclosure forms, instead of a single aggregated filing.

“Ensign Peak and the Church believe that all securities required to be reported were included in the filings by the separate companies,” the church said in its statement.

After the SEC expressed concern about Ensign Peak’s reporting approach in June 2019, the church said, Ensign Peak “adjusted its approach and began filing a single aggregated report.”

Since that time, the church  . . .

Continue reading.

That’s a fine of 0.016% on the investment. Imagine lying on your taxes, having hidden $100K offshore, and the IRS tells you, “You’ll now have to pay a penalty of $15.63.”

Written by Leisureguy

22 February 2023 at 9:45 am

Israeli Army Battalion Puts U.S. Ban on Funding Abusive Units to the Test

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Alice Speri reports in The Intercept:

JUST OVER A year ago, soldiers belonging to a controversial, ultra-Orthodox unit of the Israel Defense Forces stopped a 78-year-old Palestinian American man on his way home from visiting a relative in the occupied West Bank. When the man refused to cooperate with an identification check — insisting on his right to go home — soldiers forced him out of his car, blindfolded him, and zip-tied his hands behind his back. They then dragged him to a nearby yard, where they left him lying face down on the ground, according to witnesses.

Omar Assad had already stopped breathing when the soldiers left him, a man detained alongside him told reporters. When a doctor finally arrived, he found that Assad had been dead “for 15 or 20 minutes.” An autopsy found that he had suffered a fatal, stress-induced heart attack.

The brutal death of Assad, a U.S. citizen who had retired to his home village near the Palestinian city of Ramallah after four decades in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sparked widespread outrage. B’tselem, an Israeli human rights group, denounced the soldiers’ “utter indifference” in failing to provide first aid or call an ambulance; the U.S. State Department called Assad’s death “troubling.” Following an internal review, the IDF itself acknowledged that “the incident showed a clear lapse of moral judgment.”

Israel recently moved the unit involved in Assad’s death out of the occupied West Bank. But the soldiers’ treatment of Assad was not unusual. While hardly the only ones accused of human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories, members of the Netzah Yehuda unit often committed gratuitous acts of violence, a former member of the unit told The Intercept in his first interview with an international news organization.

The Netzah Yehuda battalion was originally set up to allow ultra-Orthodox Israelis to serve in the military. But over the years, the unit has attracted not only some of the most religious soldiers, but also a growing number of far-right extremists, including many settlers. Unlike other units, enlistment in Netzah Yehuda is voluntary; until recently, it was deployed exclusively in the West Bank, where its members were in daily contact with Palestinians living under occupation. As such, the unit — whose name is an acronym for “Haredi Military Youth” — was known for getting “a lot of action,” the former member said.

The ex-Netzah Yehuda soldier asked not to be identified because of the enormous social cost associated with publicly criticizing Israel’s military. Since leaving the unit, he has come to reject the occupation and his own role in it. Netzah Yehuda has long been criticized in Israel — some senior political and military figures have even called for the unit to be disbanded — but testimonies from former members are rare. While The Intercept could not independently verify some of the incidents the former soldier described, he also spoke to Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli veterans who gather testimony from soldiers in the occupied territories.

The IDF did not answer a detailed list of questions for this story nor address the former soldier’s allegations on the record. But in a statement to The Intercept, a spokesperson wrote that the Netzah Yehuda unit was moved from the West Bank to the Golan Heights “to diversify the IDF’s area of operation and accumulate operational experience.”

The spokesperson also referred The Intercept to an earlier statement in which the IDF wrote that “is considering filing indictments” against the soldiers involved in Assad’s death. [That’ll be the day. Don’t hold your breath. – LG] “As part of the investigation, anomalies were found in the conduct of the commander of the checkup force and the commander of the soldiers that guarded the detainees,” that statement read. “It was also found that it is not possible to establish a correlation between these abnormalities and the death.”

Even before Assad’s death last January, Netzah Yehuda members had been accused of extrajudicial killings, torture, and beatings, among other abuses. In August, the unit made headlines after a video of some members beating two young Palestinians went viral on TikTok. The IDF suspended the soldiers involved in that beating and opened a criminal investigation. It wasn’t the first time: According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, Netzah Yehuda soldiers have been convicted of offenses against Palestinians at a rate higher than those in any other IDF unit.

But it was the death of Assad — which came only weeks before the killing by a different IDF unit of another Palestinian American, journalist Shireen Abu Akleh — that put the unit on the radar of U.S. officials. The incident prompted calls for the U.S. government to impose consequences on a foreign military it supports to the tune of $3.3 billion a year. In particular, a growing number of critics have urged the Biden administration to apply U.S. legislation known as the “Leahy Law,” after recently retired Sen. Patrick Leahy, which limits the ability of the State and Defense departments to provide military assistance to foreign units that have a record of human rights violations. . .

Continue reading. Israel takes US support for granted, and also takes for granted that it can treat Palestinians any way it likes.

Written by Leisureguy

12 February 2023 at 5:21 pm

The down-grading of Sojourner Truth’s famous speech

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The Sojourner Truth Project has published a side-by-side comparison her famous speech — once as she made it, and once as it was rewritten to fit a stereotype. From the link:

Most people are familiar with the 1863 popular version of Sojourner Truth’s famous, “Ain’t I a woman” speech but they have no idea that this popular version, while based off of Sojourner’s original 1851 speech, is not Sojourner’s speech and is vastly different from Sojourner’s original 1851 speech. I must acknowledge Nell Irvin Painter, a professor at Princeton University, specializing in American history and notable for her works on southern history of the nineteenth century. Professor Painter was the scholar who first rang the bell on this historical mistake. This site would not be possible with out relying on her brilliant work.

The popular but inaccurate version was written and published in 1863, (12 years after Sojourner gave the “Ain’t I a woman” speech), by a white abolitionist named Frances Dana Barker Gage. Curiously, Gage not only changed all of Sojourner’s words but chose to represent Sojourner speaking in a stereotypical ‘southern black slave accent’, rather than in Sojourner’s distinct upper New York State low-Dutch accent. Frances Gage’s actions were well intended and served the suffrage and women’s rights movement at the time; however, by today’s standards of ethical journalism, her actions were a gross misrepresentation of Sojourner Truth’s words and identity. By changing Truth’s words and her dialect to that of a stereotypical southern slave, Frances Gage effectively erased Sojourner’s Dutch heritage and her authentic voice. As well as unintentionally adding to the oversimplification of the American slave culture and furthering the eradication of our nations Northern slave history. Frances Gage admitted that her amended version had “given but a faint sketch” of Sojourner’s original speech but she felt justified and believed her version stronger and more palatable to the American public then Sojourner’s original version.

The most authentic version of Sojourner Truth’s, “Ain’t I a woman,” speech was first published in 1851 by Truth’s good friend Rev. Marius Robinson in the Anti-Slavery Bugle and was titled, “On Woman’s Rights”. This website is dedicated to re-introducing this original transcription of the speech and Sojourner’s authentic voice.

The question of why there is more than one version of Sojourner’s speech is a fascinating story. It is also one that underlies our nation’s multiple perspectives; connecting the issues of gender and race addressed in the speech to contemporary social issues and the politics of language.

For many reasons Gage’s “faint sketch of the truth” version of the speech persists as Truth’s “truth” while the more authentic version, by Marius Robinson, is largely unknown. I believe Marius Robinson’s transcription of Sojourner Truth’s speech should be heard along side of Frances Gage’s version. If you are going to teach one version you must also present the other. They both have a place in American history.

The purpose of this website is: . . .

Continue reading.

Here’s how the speech begins in Marius Robinson’s transcription:

  1. May I say a few words? I want to say a few words about this matter.

  2. I am a woman’s rights.

  3. (a) I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man.

  4. (b) I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that?

  5. I have heard much about the sexes being equal; I can carry as much as any man, and can (c) eat as much too, if (d) I can get it.

  6. I am as strong as any man that is now.

  7. As for intellect, all I can say is, (e) if women have a pint and man a quart – why can’t she have her little pint full?

  8. You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much, for we cant take more than our pint’ll hold.

  9. The poor men seem to be all in confusion, and dont know what to do.

  10. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better.

  11. You will have your own rights, and they wont be so much trouble.

  12. I cant read, but I can hear.

  13. I have heard . . .

And here’s the beginning of the version created by Frances Gage:

  1. Well, chillen, whar dar’s so much racket dar must be som’ting out o’kilter.

  2. I tink dat, ’twixt de niggers of de South and de women at de Norf, all a-talking ’bout rights, de white men will be in a fix pretty soon.

  3. But what’s all this here talking ’bout?

  4. Dat man ober dar say dat women needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have de best place eberywhar.

  5. Nobody eber helps me into carriages or ober mud-puddles, or gives me any best place.

  6. -And ar’n’t I a woman?

  7. Look at me.

  8. (a) Look at my arm.

  9. (b) I have plowed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me.

  10. -and ar’n’t I a woman?

  11. I could work as much as (c) eat as much as a man, (when (d) I could get it,) and bear de lash as well

  12. -and ar’n’t I a woman?

  13. I have borne thirteen chillen, and seen ’em mos’ all sold off into slavery, and when I cried out with a mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard

  14. -and ar’n’t I a woman?

  15. Den dey talks ’bout dis ting in de head.

  16. What dis dey call it?

  17. Dat’s it, honey.

  18. What’s dat got to do with women’s rights or niggers’ rights?

At the link, you can also hear the two speeches read aloud.

Written by Leisureguy

12 February 2023 at 12:40 pm

ChatGPT’s 10 commandments for the modern world

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Someone asked ChatGPT for 10 commandments for today. The answer:

  1. Honor and respect all beings, as they have inherent worth.
2. Do not cause harm to others or their property.
3. Be truthful and trustworthy in all your dealings.
4. Cultivate compassion and empathy for all.
5. Foster healthy relationships based on mutual consent and respect.
6. Cultivate a sound mind and body, and avoid harmful substances and habits.
7. Respect privacy and confidentiality.
8. Do not discriminate based on race, gender, religion, or any other personal characteristic.
9. Pursue knowledge and wisdom.
10. Strive to make the world a better place and leave it in a better state than you found it.

Written by Leisureguy

7 February 2023 at 12:49 pm

To protect the children, let’s make churches adults-only venues

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Guy Lancaster writes in the Arkansas Times:

When Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Of Course) spoke up in committee on January 19 in defense of his bill, SB43, which would designate drag shows as “adult” venues, he quoted at length from an ostensible communique he received from a drag queen, begging him to protect Arkansas’s children and assuring him that “a lot of nudity, a lot of sex, a lot of things” goes down at drag shows.

Granted, Stubblefield could give no actual examples of any child being assaulted at a drag show, but let us give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is genuinely interested in protecting Arkansas’s children. On January 25, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders expressed total support for SB43, saying, “I think we have to do everything — I’ve been very clear and talked about this pretty extensively — to protect children. And I think that’s what this bill does, and so would be supportive of it in its current form. We’ll continue to take steps and do things that I believe protect the children of Arkansas.”

n that case, Sen. Stubblefield and Gov. Sanders will want to take the next logical step and put forward a bill designating the state’s many, many churches to be adults-only venues. We need to protect the children, after all, and we know that the church is a hub of child sexual abuse by clergy in Arkansas and the nation.

The Diocese of Little Rock maintains a website disclosing a list of all those Roman Catholic priests who have been credibly accused of abusing children. The list was made public in 2018, 16 years after the Boston Globe broke the story of a massive coverup of known pedophile priests in the United States. Then, in 2019, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News started reporting on sex abuse in Southern Baptist churches; a 2022 third-party report highlighted how the Southern Baptist Convention, like the Roman Catholic Church, had been hushing up cases of such abuse for years and years. The SBC eventually released its own list of accused sex offenders, which included many in Arkansas.

Churches make opportune places for pedophiles to set up shop. First, most Christian ideologies position priests and pastors in the role of God’s emissary upon this earth. It’s hard to argue with “God’s will,” or to speak up from the very bottom of this well-established hierarchy. And in a church culture that prizes “sexual purity” above all else, children who have been molested are even more reluctant to come forward. It’s no wonder churches have been at the center of child sexual abuse scandals.

And children in church are also exposed to materials that would easily qualify as obscene or harmful to minors. For example, take this passage, Ezekiel 23:19-21 (New Revised Standard Version): . . .

Continue reading.

The comments are pretty good, too. One includes the almost-certain rebuttal from Sen. Stubblefield (and Gov. Sanders): “Well, that’s different.”

Written by Leisureguy

27 January 2023 at 5:32 pm

Explaining out-of-body experiences

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I like Susan Blackmore a lot, and her book The Meme Machine is on my list of books that I repeatedly recommend. In 2016 she wrong an interesting essay that offers an explanation of out-of-body experience (OBE). It begins:

Out of the body?

I was just 19, and a first-year psychology student at Oxford, when a brief experience changed my life. Indeed what happened in those two or three hours subsequently drove both my intellectual and spiritual lives. I do not, to this day, know what caused it. Perhaps it was extreme tiredness from having too much late-night fun and getting up for early lectures, perhaps it was the Ouija board session we had just finished, perhaps it was the small amount of cannabis we were smoking or perhaps it was something else altogether.

Whatever the cause, I was sitting on the floor listening to music with my friends, Kevin and Victoria, when I found myself rushing down an imaginary tunnel of trees towards a bright light. I was beginning to drift and float, wondering what was happening, when Kevin asked: ‘Where are you, Sue?’ As I struggled to reply, my vision cleared and there I was, looking down on the room, seeing myself and my two friends from above. ‘I’m on the ceiling,’ I said, as I watched my own mouth open and close below me.

From what I know now, I guess the experience would have ended as quickly as it had begun had it not been for Kevin continually asking me questions: ‘What can you see now? … Have you got a silver cord? … Can you go further?’ I had no time to panic or worry; I just tried to answer. I zoomed up through the ceiling, out into the night and began to fly across Oxford, across the countryside, over the sea and to many other wonderful places. The scenes were vivid and glorious, the light exceptionally clear and bright. I felt vividly alive and well.

Twice I tried to come back, but it was hard. The first time, I was dismayed to find the room looking far from normal and my own body now headless and distorted. So I set off again into more adventures in ever stranger seeming worlds. The second time, I tried to get back to normal and to go inside the body, but found it impossible. First I was too small, then too large. Then I began expanding and expanding until space and time themselves seemed to lose all meaning. I was no longer a separate ‘me’. Indeed ‘I’ and the vivid, glowing universe were one. There was just this and this was perfect and right and there was nothing to be done ever.

There seemed to be a decision to be made: to stay in this bliss forever or to go back to ‘normal’ life. I came back. Eventually, and with a great struggle, I emerged from oneness into separation again. I persuaded myself that I had to go back inside the body and take it with me wherever I went, which seemed a horrible thing to have to do. But I eventually succeeded and after another two days felt relatively normal again.

So what happened to me? Kevin said I had experienced ‘astral projection’: that my astral body had left its physical shell and gone travelling on the astral planes. It was the only idea we had. I had never heard of tunnel experiences or out-of-body experiences and although I had been through almost every aspect of the now classic ‘near-death experience’, that term was not invented until five years later.

It is not surprising, then, that I jumped to false conclusions. As Thomas Metzinger puts it, after such an experience ‘it is almost impossible not to become an ontological dualist‘ – and I did. I immediately became convinced of the existence of spirits or souls that can leave the body and survive death, even though my body was clearly alive and well during the whole experience. Despite this conviction, I could see that this kind of dualism made no sense in the context of the physiology and psychology I was learning in my course. So the experience created a great challenge and I grasped it. Quite illogically (it now seems) I became convinced of such paranormal powers as telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition. So I decided to become a parapsychologist and prove all my closed-minded, materialistic lecturers wrong.

A body of evidence

That decision led to a PhD documenting years of fruitless research. I did dozens of lab experiments, investigated local poltergeists and slept in haunted houses, trained as a witch and sat with mediums, learned to read Tarot cards and throw the I-Ching. But I never found the slightest evidence of any paranormal powers.

So what about that experience? If there were no paranormal powers or ghosts or spirits, how was I to explain it? I could still remember the visions and feelings vividly but could still not understand what had happened. By then I had learned that it was called an out-of-body experience (OBE) and was related to, though different from, ‘autoscopy‘ – a usually pathological experience in which people see a duplicate self, or Doppelganger, but remain within their own physical body. Pulling together what I could of the classic astral-projection literature and the small amount of available research, I wrote Beyond the Body and later Seeing Myself: What out-of-body experiences tell us about life, death and the mind. From the 1960s to the 1980s very few parapsychologists were researching OBEs from a scientific rather than an occult or theosophical perspective. Celia Green, John Palmer and Harvey Irwin studied the phenomenology and psychology of the experience and defined it purely as an experience. My preferred definition is ‘an experience in which you seem to see the world from a location outside of your physical body’. As Palmer pointed out, this means that if someone describes such an experience, then, by definition, they have had an OBE. The question of whether anything actually leaves the body or not remains open for investigation. And that is, indeed, the big question.

If something leaves, then this soul, spirit or astral body ought to be able to see at a distance and some, including the parapsychologists Charles Tart and Karlis Osis, tried to find evidence of such paranormal vision during OBEs but their results were far from convincing. I tried myself. For several years I kept a target word, object and five-digit number on my kitchen wall so that people who claimed to have frequent OBEs could visit at their leisure and send me the answers. No one succeeded. I became ever more sceptical and, along with others, including Palmer and Irwin, developed a psychological theory of the OBE. But none of us had sufficient knowledge to make this work.

Then finally, in 2002, everything changed when, quite by accident, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 January 2023 at 9:51 pm

How politics has poisoned the Evangelical church

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Back in June, the Atlantic Monthly had a lengthy and compelling article by Tim Alberta (no paywall) on how in the US divisions are opening up in Evangelical churches and indeed in Christian churches in general. I found it absorbing, and it is difficult to know where it will lead — but it is pretty clearly not to a stronger Christian church, since in many of the churches Christianity has taken a back seat to conservative politics, which now is the focus.

Written by Leisureguy

29 December 2022 at 9:21 pm

Buddhist 5 Precepts forestall depression

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Batya Swift Yasgur writes in Medscape:

Following five key Buddhist teachings may help protect against depression, new research shows.

A study from Thailand showed that among people who observed what are known as the Five Precepts of Buddhism ― not to kill, steal, engage in sexual misconduct, tell ill-intentioned lies, or use intoxicants ― rates of depressive symptoms were significantly lower than among their counterparts who did not observe these Five Precepts.

“Observing the Five Precepts buffers the effects of perceived stress on depression,” study investigator Nahathai Wongpakaran, MD, professor, Geriatric Psychiatry Unit, Chiang Mai University, Thailand, told Medscape Medical News.

The study was published online November 30 in PLOS ONE.

Tackling the “Big Five”

Neuroticism is one of the “Big Five” personality dimensions inherent in depression. A “clinically significant depressive symptom is usually attributable to an interaction of the trait of neuroticism with a life stressor,” the investigators note.

Perceived stress — “thoughts or the feelings that individuals experience after encountering stressful life events” — is “strongly associated” with depression and often precedes it. Perceived stress may mediate the effect of neuroticism on depression.

The effect of neuroticism and perceived stress on depression may be “buffered” by positive variables, such as self-efficacy, resilience, equanimity, and religious participation. In particular, equanimity is “a strength found in Buddhist discipline.”

However, “observance of the Five Precepts is not well-known among international academic circles, compared with mindfulness meditation,” the authors note.

The researchers “observed that people who practice the Five Precepts usually have better health than those who do not.” In addition, previously in this population, a “favorable relationship” was found between the Five Precepts and resilience, which made the investigators think that following the precepts might be beneficial in other areas of mental health, such as depression.

To investigate, they  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

13 December 2022 at 12:22 pm

In science…

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In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

— Carl Sagan

Written by Leisureguy

12 December 2022 at 1:06 pm

Religious age-gap around the world

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Written by Leisureguy

4 December 2022 at 8:11 pm

Posted in Daily life, Religion

Level of religious tolerance in the 25 most populous nations

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Chart showing nations arranged using two axes: social hostilities (SH) and government restrictions (GR). China has very high GR and extremely low SH. Japan is at the bottom for both GR and SH. The US is moderate for both. Nations very high in GR are Iran (low SH), Russia (more SH) and Indonesia (high SH). India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, and Bangladesh are all high in GR and very high in SH.

Written by Leisureguy

29 November 2022 at 12:50 pm

Amy Coney Barrett urged to step away from gay rights case because of faith affiliation

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The US Supreme Court has some serious problems, which it is working hard to avoid recognizing or doing anything about. Stephanie Kirchgaessner writes in the Guardian:

Former members of Amy Coney Barrett’s secretive faith group, the People of Praise, are calling on the US supreme court justice to recuse herself from an upcoming case involving gay rights, saying Barrett’s continued affiliation with the Christian group means she has participated in discriminatory policies against LGBTQ+ people.

The former members are part of a network of “survivors” of the controversial charismatic group who say Barrett’s “lifelong and continued” membership in the People of Praise make her too biased to fairly adjudicate an upcoming case that will decide whether private business owners have a right to decline services to potential clients based on their sexual orientation.

They point to Barrett’s former role on the board of Trinity Schools Inc, a private group of Christian schools that is affiliated with the People of Praise and, in effect, barred children of same-sex parents from attending the school.

A faculty guide published in 2015, the year Barrett joined the board, said “blatant sexual immorality” – which the guide said included “homosexual acts” – had “no place in the culture of Trinity Schools”. The discriminatory policies were in place before and after Barrett joined.

The schools’ attitude, the former People of Praise members said, reflect the Christian group’s staunchly anti-gay beliefs and adherence to traditional family values, including – they say – expelling or ostracizing members of the People of Praise “community” who came out as gay later in life or their gay children.

“I don’t believe that someone in her position, who is a member of this group, could put those biases aside, especially in a decision like the one coming up,” said Maura Sullivan, a 46-year-old who was raised in the People of Praise community in South Bend, Indiana. Sullivan identifies as bisexual and recalls coming out to her parents, who were members of the People of Praise, when she was 19.

“They decided that I wasn’t allowed to be around my sister, who was 13 at the time, without them around, because I could ‘influence’ her in bad ways. Stuff like that. So I had a tenuous relationship with my family,” she said. “To be cut off from my family was the ultimate loss of community.” Sullivan and her parents, who are no longer members of the faith group, have since repaired their relationship, she said.

Questions about the People of Praise’s attitude toward LGBTQ+ members and their families, and Trinity Schools’ policies, have resurfaced because the supreme court will hear oral arguments on 5 December in the case of 303 Creative LLC v Elenis.

It centers on a Christian website developer, Lori Smith, who has claimed an anti-discrimination law in Colorado has violated her right to free speech over same-sex marriage, which she says goes against her religious faith. Smith has said the Colorado law has forced her to “create messages that go against my deeply held beliefs” since she cannot legally turn away gay couples seeking her website services.

Barrett said in her confirmation hearing that her personal religious beliefs would not interfere with her abilities to be an unbiased judge. Conservatives have also lashed out against any suggestion that her affiliation with a Christian sect could compromise her independence.

But some former members of the faith group say . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 November 2022 at 4:04 pm

Why is it so hard to believe that the Iranian populace is strongly secular?

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If Iranians can provide anonymous responses, they turn out to be overwhelmingly secular in their outlook. Dina Nayeri explains in New York magazines “Intelligencer” section (no paywall):

Growing up in my household, secular was a slur, the thing you became if you lost your faith, or if you were selfish. I come from a family of religious individuals. Not a religious family, but a family that happens to include many faithful people, Muslim and Christian. In Iran, where my mother was a Christian convert, and later in the American South, I grew up with faith all around me. In my native home in Isfahan, I wore a hijab and went with my mother to a secret underground church. As refugees in Dubai and Italy, we sang hymns with other asylum seekers on somebody’s untuned guitar. As an adolescent in Oklahoma, I wore a “True love waits” ring and a “WWJD” bracelet because that was the fashion among the devout teenagers with whom I ate lunch. Did I believe then? Probably not. I did what I was told. And I didn’t want to eat lunch alone.

Still, every few months when I was a girl, I’d find myself sitting around a tea tray or a dinner table with travelers from home, tired second cousins or uncles or acquaintances from Tehran or Isfahan. Inevitably, they would shake their heads and say, “Iranians back home aren’t that religious, you know.” At first, I didn’t believe them. And anyway, I thought, they’re just talking about Tehrani academics. I was an analytical kid, and even then I had some idea of biases in observed data. Besides, my extended family is Muslim on both sides, some devout, some secular; the adults often debated issues of faith. If Iranians weren’t religious, I thought, with my teenage understanding, why would they have a religious government, and why would we have had to flee our home and break up our family because of our apostasy?

Those events are decades old now. Postrevolutionary Iran and I are both in our 40s, and we’ve both grown and changed. This will be as difficult for Americans to believe about Iran as it has been for my mother to believe about me, but we’re both astonishingly secular now.

Iranians are always joking about the dusty, unopened Quran everyone keeps on their coffee table to wave around in case the morality police stop by. In academic discourse and mountainside conversations and dentist’s-office chats and afternoon gossip, they have been whispering and debating and shouting to one another about secularism and faith for a while now. Among exiled academics in Europe and the U.S., the debate about the Iranian population’s underlying beliefs is nearly as heated. The possibility of western intervention makes the topic fraught for those outside Iran — after all, we’re not the ones who will suffer the consequences of food shortages, crackdowns, or war. As progressives, we want to respect people’s right to self-determination, we want to fight economic colonialism, and we don’t want to harm people with sanctions. It’s easier to believe that a country like Iran has decided to be Muslim, that everyone is happy with that. But is Iran really a country of devout people, or have many, until now, just kept their nonbelief to themselves in order to be safe?

It’s absurd to deny that Iranians are rejecting their government. On September 16, 2022, a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Zhina Amini died in police custody. The women and men of Iran spilled into the streets, coming together in a feminist uprising the likes of which Iran has never seen. It is a thrilling moment to watch for a person who spent three formative years forced under hijab. I remember the scratch of the maghnaeh against my neck, the slap of the ruler against my palm when my hijab slipped off, the chador-clad teachers watching us from every corner of the blacktop, the Ayatollah mural looming over our heads as we played jump rope and hopscotch. I can still feel the pimply rash above my forehead from sweating under the taut fabric. And I’ve watched my mother be berated by moral police for letting her hijab slip one inch past her hairline.

But I refuse to misinterpret the moment. Iranian women aren’t looking for hijab reform or concessions on gender laws. They’re leading a revolution. The people of Iran don’t want to live under Sharia or any religious law.

It would be easy to think, watching so many brave Gen-Z and millennial women take to the streets, or looking online at the fiery doctors, lawyers, rappers, and students, that Iran suffers from a generational divide rather than a shift in national thinking. But talking to older people back home, I hear regret from those who marched in the Iranian revolution in 1978. “What did we do to our children?” one asks. I remind him that they didn’t want the Islamic Republic; that was an outcome they couldn’t predict. My father sends me voice memos from Iran. He peeks through his office window at the women in the streets and calls them brave. “We gave them so little,” he says. Then he repeats the advice he has offered me for decades: “Always trust science, Dina joon. Science and poetry. Superstition ruins lives.”

There’s a fascinating anthropological case study called “The Deep Believer,” by Reinhold Loeffler, who followed a highly religious Shi‘a villager, Husseinkhan Sayadi, in western Iran for decades until the villager’s death in 2008 at 82 years old. The two men became friends. In the report, Loeffler cites his friend’s loss of faith over many years: “Who knows anything about the working of God? … Paradise? That also has been made up for the deception of people. Yes, once I had a very strong belief in those things, and if Khomeini had not come, I would still today have this belief. But now I have seen examples of their doing. The prayers the mullahs are saying benefit no one.”

But case studies and anecdotes aren’t enough. How do you measure overall religiousness in a place like Iran?

Years ago in Amsterdam, I met an academic, Pooyan Tamimi Arab (a distant relation), and his wife, Sara Emami, a visual artist. We talked about philosophy and Iranian history, about Arendt and Spinoza and the role of the state. In 2009, we went to demonstrations in Amsterdam in support of the Green Movement. When I moved away, we lost touch except when our work overlapped. Then I heard about a project he had taken on: Tamimi Arab had joined Utrecht University as an assistant professor of religious studies and was helping a Tilburg Law School colleague, political scientist Ammar Maleki (a major political commentator in Iran), to measure religiousness in the Iranian public. Tamimi Arab too had wondered what the Iranian people really wanted. All official data showed a highly religious country, but every day he saw memes on Iranian social-media channels, hopeless people describing their country as a mullahcracy.

In 2019, the two scholars created an organization called . . .

Continue reading. (no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

21 October 2022 at 5:12 pm

List of common misconceptions

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Written by Leisureguy

16 October 2022 at 5:55 am

Utah law firm and legislator and the Mormon church helped a father to continue raping his daughters

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Organizations, including organized religion, place a very high priority on protecting the organization. That is, an organization is like an organism with an immune system and defense mechanisms to protect it from any threats. That capability is one outcome of the evolution of memes because memes — and in particular a complex made of memes (cf. multicellular organisms) — that lack such defenses will not survive so well as memes that develop such defenses.

Michael Rezendes and Jason Dearen report for AP:

Three children who were sexually abused by their father are accusing a Utah state legislator and a prominent Salt Lake City law firm of conspiring with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to cover up the abuse, allowing it to go on for years.

In a court filing in Cochise County, Arizona, made public Wednesday, the children of the late Paul Adams asked a judge for permission to add Republican state Rep. Merrill F. Nelson and law firm Kirton McConkie as defendants in their lawsuit against the church, widely known as the Mormon church.

The suit accuses the Mormon church of failing to notify police or child welfare officials that Adams was abusing his older daughter.

In 2010, Adams confessed to his bishop, John Herrod, that he had sexually abused his daughter, according to legal records. Herrod reported the abuse to a church “abuse help line” and was advised not to report it to police or child welfare officials. The abuse was kept secret, and Adams continued raping his older daughter and her younger sister for several years. Adams was later charged by federal officials with posting videos of the abuse on the Internet.

Herrod’s decision not to report came after speaking with Nelson, according to church records included as evidence in the case. Nelson was a shareholder at Kirton McConkie, which has more than 160 attorneys, according to its website. Nelson was one of several lawyers at the firm who routinely fielded calls made by bishops to the help line.

In their legal filing, the Adams children -– two daughters and a son —- say new evidence from the church “has revealed an ever-increasing group who knew about criminal misconduct in the Adams family but never reported it to the police.”

For instance, Kirton McConkie attorney Peter Schofield was also consulted in the Adams case, according to new pretrial testimony that was reviewed by The Associated Press. Like Nelson, Schofield has been associated with the help line for many years, according to legal documents, and is currently one of the lawyers defending the church in the Adamses’ suit.

Lawyers for the three Adams children said they had no additional comment on their latest legal filing. A spokesman for the church declined to comment.

Nelson, who recently announced his retirement from the Legislature, did not immediately return a message seeking comment from the AP. He has defended the church’s use of the help line in the Adams case. During an AP interview in September, Nelson said, “it seems to me like it did operate as intended.” The veteran legislator’s remarks came before it was reported that Nelson had fielded the call from Herrod about the abuse.

Kirton McConkie, in an emailed statement, said it  . . .

Continue reading.

Read the whole report. It’s worse than you think. Later in the report:

The AP’s investigation in August revealed a system, centered on the help line, for screening all accusations of child sex abuse within the church before reporting the information to civil authorities.

This included a policy of destroying all records of calls to the help line at the end of each day, according to the AP’s findings. Meanwhile, all calls referring to serious instances of abuse, including those involving bishops or abuse on church property, are immediately referred to lawyers with Kirton McConkie, which insists the calls are confidential and out of reach of law enforcement under the attorney-client privilege.

And there’s more. It’s a moral cesspit.

Written by Leisureguy

13 October 2022 at 12:23 pm

Can God Be Proved Mathematically?

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Spoiler alert: You already know…

Manon Bischoff writes in Scientific American:

Who would have thought about God as an apt topic for an essay about mathematics? Don’t worry, the following discussion is still solidly grounded within an intelligible scientific framework. But the question of whether God can be proved mathematically is intriguing. In fact, over the centuries, several mathematicians have repeatedly tried to prove the existence of a divine being. They range from Blaise Pascal and René Descartes (in the 17th century) to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (in the 18th century) to Kurt Gödel (in the 20th century), whose writings on the subject were published as recently as 1987. And probably the most amazing thing: in a preprint study first posted in 2013 an algorithmic proof wizard checked Gödel’s logical chain of reasoning—and found it to be undoubtedly correct. Has mathematics now finally disproved the claims of all atheists?

As you probably already suspect, it has not. Gödel was indeed able to prove that the existence of something, which he defined as divine, necessarily follows from certain assumptions. But whether these assumptions are justified can be called into doubt. For example, if I assume that all cats are tricolored and know that tricolored cats are almost always female, then I can conclude: almost all cats are female. Even if the logical reasoning is correct, this of course does not hold. For the very assumption that all cats are tricolored is false. If one makes statements about observable things in our environment, such as cats, one can verify them by scientific investigations. But if it is about the proof of a divine existence, the matter becomes a little more complicated.

While Leibniz, Descartes and Gödel relied on an ontological proof of God in which they deduced the existence of a divine being from the mere possibility of it by logical inference, Pascal (1623–1662) chose a slightly different approach: he analyzed the problem from the point of view of what might be considered today as game theory and developed the so-called Pascal’s wager.

To do this, he considered two possibilities. First,  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2022 at 10:53 am

Posted in Daily life, Math, Religion

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