Religion or Myth: Good Apples and Bad Ones. Who Gets to Decide?

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If you’ll forgive me, John, the good apple/bad apple analogy is a bit simple. We’re so much beyond that right now. As someone alluded to with his meme, it’s not simply a matter of branding, but an endemic ideological virus that is seeded in Christian doctrine and dogma and fueled by Balkanized pockets of increasing fundamentalism and fanaticism taking root throughout the country.

Calling oneself a Christian means very little anymore because the label is so diverse, generic and all encompassing as to be rendered practically meaningless to anyone but an individual’s specific definiens.

Perhaps, in the same way that an Anglican Bishop and Peruvian shaman might nod their heads in agreement of G-d’s existence, but when you break it down they are talking about completely different concepts.

We might look at it in the way that most moderate Muslims regard their more malignant branches and ideologies. We can argue about the historical differences and doctrinal roots of such malignancies, but the one thing they share in common with Christian extremism is they are both born out of a gradual usurpation and suppression of liberal education, science and religious tolerance.

Islam itself flourished from the 8th Century to the 13th, even to the point of surpassing Western civilization in its advancements of art, architecture, science, and medicine until the dark day Hamid al Ghazali (1058-1111) declared:

“Scientific deduction is the work of Satan”, and the Word of God in the Qur’an was the only source and vehicle of truth. Scientific thought leads to “loss of belief in the origin of the world and in its creator.”

(How the decline of Muslim scientific thought still haunts http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/how-the-decline-of-muslim-scientific-thought-still-haunts via @TheNationalUAE )

“And thus, the authority of the general community, the Sunna, (consensus) which Mohammed the Prophet had declared would always be right– cracked down. And so it was that, just when the light of Greek learning was beginning to be carried from Islam to Europe- from circa 1100 onward- Islamic science and medicine came to a standstill and went dead.”

(Excerpted from Joseph Campbell’s Lecture “The Impact of Science on Myth” at the Great Hall of The Cooper Union Forum)

This is going on right now in vast portions of our country where fanatical Christian doctrinaires are taking over local school systems, regional, state, and now, the federal, Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches of government.

So, to follow your analogy one might be a good apple or a bad apple Christian, but in a democratic republic threatened by religious extremism who gets to decide which is which?

Bridging the Divide

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Having spent a few years in the Midwest recently the problem is much more complex than mere politics. While the denizens there enjoy all the modern amenities of technology: cell phones, computers, cars, television etc., their world view is still very much centered on an intractable and widely-shared fundamental belief that this “6,000 year old” planet was created by an invisible theocrat whose principal adversary works through science, progress, intelligence, education, reason, culture, and, yes, even women’s reproductive organs to undermine, thwart and depose His absolute authority and dominion over all.

While there are many denominations and subtle differences between these closed doxastic cults, the underlying mind-set for the majority of these fellaheen is that this life, our deaths and afterlife will continue on into a Manichaeans structured tyranny for eternity.

If you have even a modest understanding of history, government and politics, Heaven and Hell pretty much host the same type of slavery and uniformity — only in different climates.

Essentially, this parochial worldview has been nurtured, accredited, cultivated, promoted and institutionalized on every church corner and religious school in every tiny village throughout the country for centuries.

Moreover, anyone who tries to intervene is demonized, ostracized and must be shunned, because they have socially and individually immunized themselves from reasonable argument and logic. They will not, cannot, nor even approach an ideological detente with us, because to do so severely threatens their entire personal identity, as well as their social standing from here to eternity. It would be existential suicide.

Ultimately, this is what we’re up against when we propose repairing the divide. It won’t happen and can never happen until we asseverate and demand that the freedom to practice religion is not an absolute right to legislate and instruct ignorance, intolerance or an ideology or spiritual slavery that is antithetical to our country’s founding principles.

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
― Isaac Asimov

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/the-dark-rigidity-of-fundamentalist-rural-america-a-view-from-the-inside/#.WIOJ65qq6ls.twitter

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” 

― Isaac Asimov

The dark rigidity of fundamentalist rural America: a view from the inside

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/the-dark-rigidity-of-fundamentalist-rural-america-a-view-from-the-inside/#.WIOJ65qq6ls.twitter

FROM PUTIN WITH LOVE

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A classic scene from (what I consider the the best of the Bond movies) FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, the exquisite Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), a Soviet double spy, is ordered by the KGB to seduce Bond, and shows up uninvited in his lavish Istanbul hotel suite wearing nothing but a silk ribbon around her neck.

Bond is skeptical, even hostile, but Bond being Bond, he is not one to turn away a beautiful woman who has availed herself so freely.

As the hot sex ensues, we pull back to get a shot behind the two-way mirror behind their bed to watch it being filmed by the nefarious Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), her KGB handler.

It seems, the tactic of “Kompromat” was well known by master spy Ian Fleming, and universally well-established as a common KGB ploy.

Now, my former business partner, a film broker, (who shall remain nameless) moved to Russia just after the collapse of the Soviet Union and as a sideline established himself as a procurer of beautiful Russian escorts for the G5 set. His clientele were all very rich, and very important, celebrities, billionaires and CEO’s who thought nothing of flying in on their personal or corporate jets for libidinous Moscow nights.

Both Moscow and St. Petersburg soon became a not-so-secret playground for the international jet set. A few of them even met their future trophy wives over there. I’ve met a few, and on occasion spent many a fine dining evening here in the States discussing Pushkin in his native tongue.

Russian women, especially the more desirable ones, are often sophisticated, intelligent and very well-educated. They are also extremely sensible and unbound by traditionally prudish Christian American mores.

But now, we’re all supposed to believe that our “Grab her by the Pussy” President-Elect conducted himself as a perfect gentleman during his thirty years of business dealings in Russia.

We’re also being asked to believe that Vladimir Putin has zero compromising material on his favorite little lap lackey. Of course, the press is practically useless in ferreting any of this out, but if you’re taken in by any of it you’re probably oblivious enough to have voted for this two-bit, globe-trotting lothario in the first place.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/api/edit/embed?embed=%257B%2522type%2522%253A%2522link%2522%252C%2522title%2522%253A%257B%2522localized%2522%253A%257B%2522en_US%2522%253A%2522Russia%2520says%2520it%2520doesn%2527t%2520gather%2520dirt%2520on%2520others%252C%2520but%2520history%2520of%2520%2527kompromat%2527%2520says%2520otherwise%2522%257D%257D%252C%2522description%2522%253A%257B%2522localized%2522%253A%257B%2522en_US%2522%253A%2522The%2520Kremlin%2520on%2520Wednesday%2520dismissed%2520as%2520%255C%2522a%2520total%2520fake%255C%2522%2520allegations%2520that%2520Russian%2520intelligence%2520agencies%2520collected%2520compromising%2520information%2520about%2520President-elect%2520Donald%2520Trump%2520-%2520a%2520denial%2520that%2520was%2520echoed%2520by%2520much%2520of%2520Russia%2527s%2520establishment.%2520But%2520when%2520President…%2522%257D%257D%252C%2522author%2522%253A%257B%2522name%2522%253A%2522David%2520Filipov%2522%257D%252C%2522provider%2522%253A%257B%2522name%2522%253A%2522Washington%2520Post%2522%252C%2522display%2522%253A%2522Washington%2520Post%2522%252C%2522url%2522%253A%2522http%253A%252F%252Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2522%257D%252C%2522request%2522%253A%257B%2522originalUrl%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fwww.washingtonpost.com%252Fworld%252Fkremlin-denies-that-russian-agents-compromised-donald-trump%252F2017%252F01%252F11%252F55625e02-d7e1-11e6-8505-8e7091d7cd98_story.html%2522%252C%2522finalUrl%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fwww.washingtonpost.com%252Fworld%252Fkremlin-denies-that-russian-agents-compromised-donald-trump%252F2017%252F01%252F11%252F55625e02-d7e1-11e6-8505-8e7091d7cd98_story.html%2522%257D%252C%2522images%2522%253A%255B%257B%2522url%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fimg.washingtonpost.com%252Frf%252Fimage_1484w%252F2010-2019%252FWashingtonPost%252F2017%252F01%252F11%252FForeign%252FImages%252F2017-01-11T101151Z_981432802_RC1389B23620_RTRMADP_3_USA-CYBER-RUSSIA-KREMLIN.jpg%2522%252C%2522width%2522%253A1484%252C%2522height%2522%253A966%257D%252C%257B%2522url%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fimg.washingtonpost.com%252Frf%252Fimage_606w%252F2010-2019%252FWashingtonPost%252F2017%252F01%252F10%252FNational-Politics%252FImages%252F2017-01-09T174355Z_1179851453_RC1CF9D85650_RTRMADP_3_USA-TRUMP-ALIBABA-3195.jpg%2522%252C%2522width%2522%253A606%252C%2522height%2522%253A446%257D%252C%257B%2522url%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fimg.washingtonpost.com%252Frf%252Fimage_480w%252F2010-2019%252FWashingtonPost%252F2017%252F01%252F11%252FForeign%252FImages%252F2017-01-11T101151Z_981432802_RC1389B23620_RTRMADP_3_USA-CYBER-RUSSIA-KREMLIN-3703.jpg%253Fuuid%253D7UETBNfqEeaaNh0pZTSzHg%2522%252C%2522width%2522%253A480%252C%2522height%2522%253A312%257D%252C%257B%2522url%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fimages.washingtonpost.com%252F%253Furl%253Dhttps%253A%252F%252Famsarkadium-a.akamaihd.net%252Fassets%252Fglobal%252Fgame%252Fwebgl-spider-solitaire%252F74fed3ef-93c6-4925-b8bf-b08250534230%252F292x194.jpg%2526op%253Dnoop%2522%252C%2522width%2522%253A292%252C%2522height%2522%253A194%257D%252C%257B%2522url%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fsubscribe.washingtonpost.com%252Facqapplepay%252Fapplepay%252Fimages%252Fproductimage.png%2522%252C%2522width%2522%253A284%252C%2522height%2522%253A218%257D%255D%252C%2522data%2522%253A%257B%2522com.linkedin.treasury.Link%2522%253A%257B%2522url%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fwww.washingtonpost.com%252Fworld%252Fkremlin-denies-that-russian-agents-compromised-donald-trump%252F2017%252F01%252F11%252F55625e02-d7e1-11e6-8505-8e7091d7cd98_story.html%2522%252C%2522html%2522%253A%2522The%2520Kremlin%2520on%2520Wednesday%2520dismissed%2520as%2520%255C%2522a%2520total%2520fake%255C%2522%2520allegations%2520that%2520Russian%2520intelligence%2520agencies%2520collected%2520compromising%2520information%2520about%2520President-elect%2520Donald%2520Trump%2520-%2520a%2520denial%2520that%2520was%2520echoed%2520by%2520much%2520of%2520Russia%2527s%2520establishment.%2520But%2520when%2520President…%2522%252C%2522width%2522%253A-1%252C%2522height%2522%253A-1%257D%257D%257D&signature=Aas5xGvLI4XVIjYuBFSC32A3hjXJ

Russia says it doesn’t gather dirt on others, but history of ‘kompromat’ says otherwise http://wpo.st/UDDS2

For Trump, Three Decades of Chasing Deals in Russia https://nyti.ms/2jRQ7mq

Several Foreign Intelligence Agencies Now Believe Trump Could Be Compromised (DETAILS) http://bipartisanreport.com/2017/01/15/several-foreign-intelligence-agencies-now-believe-trump-could-be-compromised-details/ via @Bipartisan Report

 

Boris Godunov, anyone? It’s not about a moose and a flying squirrel

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I spent six years adapting the life of Alexander Pushkin for the screen. I read at least four biographies several times, but especially, Henri Troyat’s biography, which I may have read about nine times, as well as everything Pushkin ever wrote to accomplish my goal: to portray the life of one of history’s great literary geniuses.

It’s something every student in Russia does by rote. I’ve never met a single Russian who couldn’t recite Pushkin by heart.

When I look at the world that may become manifest by Friday, courtesy of Vladimir Putin, I am compelled to recall Pushkin’s political masterpiece, Boris Godunov.

It’s about a power hunger Czar who rises to power through manipulation, subterfuge and lies only to be brought down by another imposter.

The Russians are masters in agitprop and Kompromat. Donald Trump is an ignorant buffoon and a marionette.

Don’t believe me? Read Pushkin’s Boris Godunov, because I can assure you, Vladimir Putin has.

( Hint: It’s not about a moose and a flying squirrel)

For Trump, Three Decades of Chasing Deals in Russia https://nyti.ms/2jRQ7mq

IT MUST NEVER BE OVER!

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A complaint you hear far too often these days implores us all to stop posting “political garbage” and get over a presidential election heavily influenced by a foreign power, a derelict Fourth Estate, timely interference by our own Director of the FBI, swayed by hyper-partisan agitprop manufactured, perpetuated and espoused by a profoundly unstable autocrat and his team of professional propagandists.

What exactly would you like us to get over and move on with?

Firstly, such a misbegotten plea requires some serious self-examination. What exactly bothers you about your fellow countrymen, a majority of whom voted against the president-elect for very sound, reasoned and historically informed purposes?

Psychologically, the complainant first bears the responsibility of self-examination. What precisely are you demanding, and why? Indeed, the sweeping demand you’re making reveals more about yourself than those you would stifle.

The truth is those of us who persist, resist, protest and dissent perceive a travestying injustice has occurred. Do you expect us to gloss over these evidence-based convictions simply because you’re fatigued or oblivious to them? In other words, you have acquiesced for personal reasons, and now foolishly, and, I must say, rather solipsistically suggest the uniform response for all of us.

If little else this attitude reveals a truly vulgar understanding of what a democratic republic is about. IT, however you intend for us to get OVER, is NEVER OVER. It will never be over! It must never be over, lest we die as a democracy, republic and sovereign nation.