Here’s something you haven’t read here…

February 24, 2010 at 8:38 am (blogging, Catholicism, Champagne Charlie, Christianity, mental health, religion)

From a Catholic Nationalist blog called ‘Splintered Sunrise:’

Here’s something you won’t read on Shiraz Socialist

February 9, 2010 at 10:34 pm (Homophobia, Judaica)

It seems it’s not only Pat Robertson who has some weird ideas about the Haitian earthquake:

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the Rabbinical Alliance of America issued the following statement:

“When Americans are suffering economically and millions need jobs, it’s shocking that the Administration is focused on its ultra-liberal militantly homosexualist agenda forcing the highlighting of homosexuals and homosexuality on an unwilling military. This is the equivalent of the spiritual rape of our military to satisfy the most extreme and selfish cadre of President Obama’s kooky coalition.
We agree with Eileen Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness that this will hurt the cohesiveness of the military, cause many to leave the army, and dramatically lower the number of recruits, perhaps leading to the reinstatement of a compulsory draft.

“Thirteen months before 9/11, on the day New York City passed homosexual domestic partnership regulations, I joined a group of Rabbis at a City Hall prayer service, pleading with G-d not to visit disaster on the city of N.Y. We have seen the underground earthquake, tsunami, Katrina, and now Haiti. All this is in sync with a two thousand year old teaching in the Talmud that the practice of homosexuality is a spiritual cause of earthquakes. Once a disaster is unleashed, innocents are also victims just like in Chernobyl.

“We plead with saner heads in Congress and the Pentagon to stop sodomization of our military and our society. Enough is enough.”

Now, imagine the shitstorm if this had been a Muslim cleric…

NB: Why, exactly did “Splintered” think we wouldn’t publish such an item?

62 Comments

  1. voltairespriest said,

    Personally I’m very glad to have not read that post, which we didn’t publish here. However CC you may now expect an evening visit from our shadowy sponsors, who take a dim view of the likes of Mr Sunrise…

  2. skidmarx said,

    Only two weeks to respond? The internet is such a fast tool.

    From a Catholic Nationalist blog called ‘Splintered Sunrise:’
    Possibly not a fair characterisation, though as Mr.Sunrise appears to have blocked me from his blog while allowing his mates to talk unlimited amounts of shit, I’m feeling quite Voltairean here.

  3. entdinglichung said,

    to qoute Karl Popper, “No matter how many instances of white swans we may have observed, this does not justify the conclusion that all swans are white.” ;-)

  4. charliethechulo said,

    Believe it or not, Skidders, I don’t read “Splintered Sunrise” every day, or even every month.

    Also: Comrade Jim has, like you, been barred from the Sunrise (that the world is waiting for).

  5. maxdunbar said,

    Do you realise Nathan is going to go spare over this?

  6. Nathan Rothschild said,

    Um, er chaps, Maxie, Charlie, Volty, you would be doing me a bit of a favour if you treated the delicate matter of Uncle Yehuda’s slightly inappropriate utterances with some degree of discretion. The poor fellow is something of an embarrassment to the family and the entity in general. I know you’ll understand. As for me, I take anything any way up and sideways as long as it’s young, nubile and certified disease-free. In fact I was saying to my old friend, Jonathan Sacks, this morning it was a pity Yahweh didn’t create a few more genders besides the two, as it doesn’t leave much choice. Cousin Johnny and I had quite a laugh about it.

    I know I’ve been a little hard on you in the past but I’m sure you’re all big enough to overlook it. There’ll be a case of something nice coming your way. Or have you given up that kind of thing for your Lent?

  7. charliethechulo said,

    Son Rice appears to have blocked my comment on his blog to the effect that we’ve called his bluff. He’s probably at his Hail Mary’s, fumbling for his rosary beads and genuflecting at this very moment..

  8. Red Maria said,

    Eh, wotchyoo onabaht?

    Splintered Sunrise a Catholic and a nationalist … er, I think not.

    Mr Chulo, Hail Marys does not have an apostrophe “S”. It’s a lovely prayer, though, the Ave Maria, with the first part being taken from Luke’s gospel. Lutherans say it too, as well as the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, obviously.

    Mary, Maria, Miriam, Maryam. The name is common to all three Abrahamic faiths.

  9. shug said,

    Isin!t the arguement of those effected,we are not at war how can this legislation be!.

  10. skidmarx said,

    Red Maria – “Blessed art thou among women” does suggest a low opinion of the rest of her gender.

    entdinglichung – it does justify it as a provisional conclusion. Unless you want to retreat into brationality:

    http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:Tk6XJUJDq0gJ:www.scribd.com/doc/6230954/David-Hume+brationality&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

  11. Red Maria said,

    “Blessed art thou among women” does suggest a low opinion of the rest of her gender.

    Rubbish.

    It adds in poetic language “blessed is the fruit of thy womb”, which, if you were to apply your argument consistently, would suggest a pretty low opinion of the human race. Except that it doesn’t because God made man in his image and his likeness (Genesis 1:27).

    Mary is the Second Eve and Theotokos. She is the Immaculate Conception. Hence she is blessed among women.

  12. voltairespriest said,

    You been on the holy chablis again, dear? ;)

  13. Red Maria said,

    Eh?

    At this time o’day?

    Certainly not!

    Still in a bad mood, however. I must listen to some soothing music, like Public Enemy or something.

  14. skidmarx said,

    So if God made man in his image and his likeness, does he look like a black African, given the evidence that the rest of us have evolved from such?[and why are some of us more in his image than others?] Does he have the genetic abnormalities that some people are blessed with,or did he pass on his likeness to some and not others. Does he have the small brain that the fossil record shows our ancestors had a few million years ago, or did he create the whole kit and caboodle at 9am on the 1st January, 4004 B.C. and then plant all the fossils for a laugh.

    She is the Immaculate Conception
    So how does that work exactly? Did she manage to get an ovum to fertilise without sperm, did our Lord and Father materialise some sperm without putting in a phsical appearance from wherever he’s a bit more omnipresent, or is “God” code for her bit on the side?

    “Pray for us now and in the hour of our death”: I always found it odd that there was such a gap,as well as a little disturbed that kids should be encouraged to focus on their morbidity. I wonder now where she’s doing the praying from,and how she processes so many requests for intercession.

  15. Red Maria said,

    What is this first steps in Atheism or something? But since you ask, I don’t believe His Infinitude only created superior types of humans like you in His image and likeness. At least neither He nor the Church have ever given that impression. I’m not clear as to why you mentioned fossils, by the way. Roman Catholicism has never had a problem with the theories of Charles Darwin, as John Paul the Great made clear when he declared that “evolution is more than a hypothesis”.

    You’ve confused the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception with the doctrine of the Virgin Birth, as I knew you would, even though I left a massive clue to which dogma I was talking about by my reference to her being the Second Eve. You don’t know much about Catholicism, do you?

    Quick explanation:

    The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception refers Mary being conceived without spot of sin.

    The doctrine of the Virgin Birth is that Mary, mother of God was a virgin before, during and after the conception and birth of her son, Jesus the Christ. Hence we refer to Blessed Mary, ever virgin.

    Yes, indeed, how do God the Father, Son and Paraclete, Mary and all the Saints in heaven cope with the numerous requests for intercession they get every single second? Just like that other soporific favourite, how many cherubim can balance on a pin’s head, it’s one of life’s great imponderables.

    Catholicism is chiefly concerned with the saving of souls. Therefore she reminds the faithful to be mindful of the four last things: heaven, hell, death and judgment for death comes like a thief in the night. Morbid to you, maybe. Completely sensible to us.

  16. Jim Denham said,

    I must confess (!) Maria: I’m astonished that an apparently intelligent person like you believes such obvious, rank, balderdash and drivel. It’s an insult to the human intelligence. As someone once said, it’s not even “wrong.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

  17. skidmarx said,

    No I didn’t know that about the Immaculate Conception. But you don’t really ask any of the questions, and in fact I’d dispute your point that “blessed is the fruit..” similarly suggests a low view of humanity as the word “among” is crucial.

  18. Michele McCann said,

    It’s all desperate misogynist twaddle.

  19. skidmarx said,

    Sorry that should be “answer” rather than “ask”, though you probably need to ask the questions yourself before you answer them.

    Here’s what JP II had to say:
    Pius XII underlined this essential point: ‘if the origin of the human body is sought in living matter which existed before it, the spiritual soul is directly created by God.’ Consequently, the theories of evolution which, as a result of the philosophies which inspire them, consider the spirit as emerging from forces of living matter or as a simple epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man.
    That’s bollocks. That isn’t “God creating man in his image and likeness”, that’s accepting that the image and likeness are created by evolution.
    You don’t know much about Catholicism, do you?
    No, that’s why I can quote the Hail Mary from memory when I haven’t heard it for 25 years. It seems common for religious people to denigrate those who are not as ignorant, when the churches have until recently considered atheism as outside the pale, and now that the secularists want the religious to measure their theories about the world on the same bases of fact and logic as would be applied to anyone else, cry foul.

    , how do God the Father, Son and Paraclete, Mary and all the Saints in heaven cope with the numerous requests for intercession
    With the former, there is the get out clause that he’s all-powerful. But if Mary was/is human( and actually existed/exists) then she must have some scheduling problems.

    The doctrine of the Virgin Birth is that Mary, mother of God was a virgin before, during and after the conception and birth of her son, Jesus the Christ.
    So was there any sperm involved? If not,how did the Father fertilise the ovum?

  20. Clive said,

    For myself, although I wasn’t brought up very religiously and started calling myself an atheist when I was about 13 or so, I do find some of the doctrines of Catholics and other superstitious people quite interesting. But it’s beyond me how knowing the precise meanings of absurd doctrines (especially ones which were added on to the original religion and aren’t even in the ‘holy text’ in question) is relevant either to a) assessing its basic overall claims, re, for instance, that there is a God worth praying to, or b) understanding sociologically and historically how its doctrines emerged.

    It is one of the annoying things about much riposte to the ‘new atheism’, especially from people like Armstrong and Eagleton, that they like to condescendingly point out that there are all these subtle concepts and ideas in, say, Christianity, which atheists simply don’t grasp – without feeling, evidently, the slightest need to explain these concepts and ideas in a remotely intelligible way to people who haven’t had their schooling by priests.

  21. JoF said,

    I feel compelled to point out the “theories” of Charles Darwin are theories in the same sense the existence of gravity and the Sun are theories.

  22. voltairespriest said,

    I quite agree, Clive. I’ve always found the ideas expressed in a lot of religious writings to be very interesting, and I’d also consider many of the texts to be beautiful pieces of literature in and of themselves.

    However, I simply do not see how an encyclopedic knowledge of the doctrines of a particular religion – particularly the often unbelievably obscure and Byzantine (so to speak) doctrines of a faith like Catholic or Orthodox Christianity – takes the reader any distance in terms of a debate about the existence of God or the truth, one way or the other, of a religion’s claims to authenticity. I’d hold that to be the case whether God in fact exists or not, incidentally.

  23. johng said,

    “But it’s beyond me how knowing the precise meanings of absurd doctrines (especially ones which were added on to the original religion and aren’t even in the ‘holy text’ in question) is relevant either to a) assessing its basic overall claims, re, for instance, that there is a God worth praying to, or b) understanding sociologically and historically how its doctrines emerged”

    A is defencible. B is just philistine (and ahistorical) nonsense. Read almost any serious Marxist history of religion (starting perhaps with Kautsky) to see why. I don’t see how you could begin to explain sociologically and historically how doctrines emerged without knowing what they are. And actually on reflection A isn’t really defencible either. Historical Materialists would presumably be very interested in how religions came to be what they are through the course of time. Its also idiotic just to see ‘absurdity’. When St Thomas Aquinas attempted to reconcile the claims of faith and reason the result was’nt ‘absurdity’ but on the one hand the development of scholastic thought which played its own role in the development of logic etc, and on the other hand considerably broadened horizons in terms of ethics (just came across a passage suggesting that a law which allows you to kill a robber who is trying to kill you is not a just law for example). In terms of the history of ideology I think dismissing religion as ‘absurd’ is a little like dismissing parchment as absurd. Of course its absurd to write on parchment today. But parchment played a role the development of human culture just as religion did. This seems to me to be the only correct historical materialist perspective on religion.

  24. Clive said,

    You know, it actually crossed my mind when I was writing the last comment, would anyone be pedantic enough to pick me up on it? Should have guessed who.

    In terms of a different argument, you’re right, I suppose, johng. For a full assessment and analysis of any historical phenomenon, the more we know about it the better.

    But is it necessary – to take an example – to have an intimate knowledge of Catholic doctrine in order to comment on the role of the Catholic church in the world (in the treatment of AIDS in Africa, for instance)? I would say not – or only in the sense that it would render all opinion anyone has about pretty much anything except the contents of your own living room, and probably not even that, impossible.

    And do I need to know Catholic doctrine to take a view on whether there is a God? It is obviously desirable, in terms of an overall debate, and if one wishes to engage with believers, to know as much as possible about every conceivable argument from every religious tradition – but I don’t think I have to know all that before I can assess the central truth claims, for instance that there is a God worth praying to.

    This doesn’t mean I have to conclude that Aquinas, or Plato, say, or any other thinker was an idiot, or their subtle philosophies not worthy of attention. But all of them are historical figures. What wasn’t absurd for Aquinas, or Augustine even, or Plato, would, I suggest, be probably pretty fucking absurd if someone proposed it in all seriousness now, knowing what we now know.

    The point at issue is those people who argue that *unless* you are fully acquainted with not just Aquinas but a ton of other thinkers in the history of Christian thought, your opinion on whether there is a God is not valid. That, I think, is absurd, too.

  25. Clive said,

    Or – sorry if this is off-thread – to clarify, perhaps:

    It is a crucial argument against Dawkins (particularly from Eagleton, but also from, eg, Alistair McGrath) that because he doesn’t understand Christian theology properly, his entire central argument is invalidated.

    I have my own criticisms of Dawkins, but this seems to me a bad one. Atheists don’t have to first master every conceivable nuance of every conceivable version of theism in order to be pretty sure they’re atheists (or for the arguments for atheism to hold) – and the Eagleton-type argument is just a form of apologetics (in the worst sense).

    Where I think Dawkins et al are weak is in the sociology of religion – why people are religious and so on. But again, to answer that question I’m not sure intimate knowledge of every nuance of whatever theology is the main question.

  26. entdinglichung said,

  27. Clive said,

    Sadly, the guy hardly understands Dawkins’ views at all. (Dawkins doesn’t, actually, think society is all the product of biology, ‘memes’ are not biological… I think they’re a crap theory, but not because they’re biological!). Some good points, but not a great review in my view.

  28. Red Maria said,

    @ Jim Denham: to me believing in this is as important as the right to believe in it and profess one’s faith without fear or harassment.

    @ Michele McCann: it may be desperate twaddle to you and many other people but I don’t see how its misogynistic – strong word, that – at all.

    @ Skidmarx: notwithstanding your ability to parrot a prayer you patently don’t know much about Catholicism if you don’t know the difference between the doctrine of the Virgin Birth and that of the Immaculate Conception which is pretty basic stuff by any yardstick. It’s not denigrating to you to say that but fair comment, I think.

    If you’re going to start proof-texting, I’ll join in:

    Taking into account the state of scientific research at the time as well as of the requirements of theology, the encyclical “Humani Generis” considered the doctrine of “evolutionism” a serious hypothesis, worthy of investigation and in-depth study equal to that of the opposing hypothesis. Pius XII added two methodological conditions: that this opinion should not be adopted as though it were a certain, proven doctrine and as though one could totally prescind from revelation with regard to the questions it raises. He also spelled out the condition on which this opinion would be compatible with the Christian faith … Today, almost half a century after the publication of the encyclical, new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as something more than just a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory.

    Apropos Jesus who was eternally begotten of the Father remember Jesus said, “before Abraham was I am” he was conceived by the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit. I think the phrase Mary remained a virgin before duing and after his birth makes quite clear there was no sperm involved. How was this done? All things are possible with God.

    There must be all sorts of scheduling problems with gazillions of people on earth praying to people in heaven but somehow we struggle on.

    @ Clive, it wasn’t me who brought up the Church’s doctrines; I replied to Skidmarx’s points.

    It would help if people troubled to find out what the Church’s teaching is concerning sex, birth control and so forth before they ventured comments about condoms, AIDS and Africa, yes. Otherwise all we tend to get is a din of screaming and denunciation.

    Those who are genuinely interested in the subject rather than yelling about it should read Humanae Vitae and Elizabeth Anscombe’s essay on contraception and chastity. A quick glance at what Professor Edward C Green has to say on the matterhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032702825.html might also be an idea.

    I haven’t yet read Dawkin’s smash hit bestseller, The God Delusion, so I can’t comment on it. I read extracts of Hitchens’ God is not great and it seemed to me to be far too derivative. I hate it when you’re reading someone and you can tell where and from whom they took a particular idea from. Hitchens is a bit of a repeat offender in that regard. I look forward to reading his brother, Peter Hitchens’ forthcoming book, The Rage against God out later this year, I think.

  29. Red Maria said,

    Darn it, screwed up the link. That’s what happens if there’s endless noise around you.

  30. johng said,

    I don’t think everything aquinas proposed was absurd. By any means. And I don’t think religion is absurd either. And as for a decent sociology of religion (at least one worth reading) I would expect the kind of serious assessment which you call ‘impossible’ (of course it isn’t). Whats really at stake here is whether we stick to historical materialism or run around making friendly noises at bourgoise liberals.

  31. johng said,

    Here’s a little teaser (wager):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager

  32. johng said,

    Its been suggested by some that deciding to dedicate your life to the struggle for socialism involves a similar sort of wager.

  33. Clive said,

    Johng – I am not saying that a ‘decent sociology of religion’ is impossible. I’m sure such a thing would require its author to be very knowledgeable. I am saying that it is not necessary for all of us – who are not, you know, professional sociologists of religion – to need to be experts about the nuances of Catholic theology in order to have workable and defensible opinions about religion. (Or if it is impossible, it renders impossible any opinion about pretty much anything). Yet this is what many critics of atheism seem to demand.

    And Lordy – you’re impressed by Pascal’s wager?

  34. Jim Denham said,

    johng: are you, in fact a believer (whether on the basis of Pascal’s wager or not)? Not because I want to witch-hunt you or anything like that: just because your repeated sympathetic noises about religion and disparaging ones about atheism seem to me to go well beyond the SWP’s usual opportunism and accomodation of religious bigotry and superstition. It is always helpful when engaging with someone to know where they’re coming from. The same thought has crossed my mind about the supposed “Marxist” and “atheist” Eagleton, who seems to me to have almost certainly now reverted to Catholicism without admitting to it because his status as a supposed “atheist” actually puts him in a stronger position to defend religion.

    Btw someone once said of Pascal’s wager: “If I were God and someone claimed to believe in me on that basis, I’d take great pleasure in sending them to hell.”

  35. Clive said,

    Since we’re offering reading, you might have a butchers at this –
    (It’s Lenin – the real one, not your mate; “The Significance of Militant Materialism’):

    “It would be the biggest and most grievous mistake a Marxist could make to think that the millions of the people (especially the peasants and artisans), who have been condemned by all modern society to darkness, ignorance and superstitions — can extricate themselves from this darkness only along the straight line of a purely Marxist education. These masses should be supplied with the most varied atheist propaganda material… so as to interest them, rouse them from their religious torpor, stir them front the most varied angles and by the most varied methods, and so forth.

    The keen, vivacious and talented writings of the old eighteenth-century atheists wittily and openly attacked the prevailing clericalism and will very often prove a thousand times more suitable for arousing people from their religious torpor than the dull and dry paraphrases of Marxism, almost completely unillustrated by skillfully selected facts, which predominate in our literature and which (it is no use hiding the fact) frequently distort Marxism…. The most important thing… is to know how to awaken in the still undeveloped masses an intelligent attitude towards religious questions and an intelligent criticism of religions.”

  36. johng said,

    But Clive the point was about the merits of Dawkin’s work: not about whether people are entitled to have opinions about religion without being sociologists. Jim. Eagleton’s book on religion strikes me as entirely orthodox from a Marxist point of view. Its just that you’ve got this wierd idea that a crucial battlefront in 21st century britain is between believers and non-believers. Because of this warped understanding of the contemporary world this leads you to think there is something wrong with Eagleton’s book. He’s not denouncing Muslims. As to whether or not I’m a believer, no I’m not. But when confronted with an anti-semite demanding if I’m a Jew or not I tend not to answer. The only reason I answered you is because its neccessary to fight the kind of distortion of Marxism which you repersent. Oh and, of course, Britain today is not pre-revolutionary Russia.

  37. Jim Denham said,

    JogbG: “Britain today is not pre-revolutionary Russia.” What a profound observation! So, JG: does that maen we can dispense with the writings of VI Lenin and L Trotsky, prefering perhaps your own fellow student union poseur Lenny “Seymour” Lenin.

    As for Eagleton ‘s writing on religion being “entirely orthodox from a Marxist point of view”, that’s only true if you think Marx’s starting point was sympathy fror religion and hostility towards atheism…in which case many generations of Marxists have fundamentally misread and misunderstood him. You obviously have a profound new understanding of what Marx *really* meant when he denounced religion as an opiate.

  38. maxdunbar said,

    Terry Pratchett does a version of Pascal’s Wager where Pascal dies and wakes up surrounded by a lot of big, angry-looking gods, carrying sticks, and one of them says: ‘We’ll teach you what we think of smart arses round here…’

  39. skidmarx said,

    you patently don’t know much about Catholicism if you don’t know the difference between the doctrine of the Virgin Birth and that of the Immaculate Conception
    Well then I blame ten years of Catholic schooling, where it wasn’t considered important enough to drill that into me.

    I have seen a demolition of Edward C.Green’s views elsewhere, but I can’t remember where so I’ll just point out that when he says:
    But that’s not what the research in Africa shows.
    Why not?
    One reason is “risk compensation.” That is, when people think they’re made safe by using condoms at least some of the time, they actually engage in riskier sex.

    He doesn’t actually show that research backs up the claim that people engage in riskier sex with condom use.

    You completely fail to answer the point that where the Bible talks about the “image and likeness”, it takes a quite heroic mangling of the words to suggest that it is some inner spirit and not the physical image and likeness that is referred to.

    How was this done? All things are possible with God.
    Nothing like a universal get out clause for defending the illogical.

    26. I’d agree with Clive’s assessment of the Dawkins review at 27. Repeatedly claiming that Dawkins is dogamtic when his book is anything but is not a good start.

    Johng – Whats really at stake here is whether we stick to historical materialism or run around making friendly noises at bourgoise liberals.
    A false counterposition.

  40. Clive said,

    But Clive the point was about the merits of Dawkin’s work No it wasn’t – you called me a philistine.

    Eagleton’s book on religion strikes me as entirely orthodox from a Marxist point of view That’s really weird, John.

  41. skidmarx said,

    Here’s a reasoned response to the Pope on condoms, since you bring it up:

    http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/54977

  42. resistor said,

    Marx did not ‘denounce’ religion as an opiate, he explained its necessity as a pain-reliever. What he denounced was the call to oppose the pain relief without opposing the cause of the pain. Denham truly is a lumpen ‘Marxist’.

    As for condom use, of course it prevents HIV and other STD transmission when used consistently. The problem is that the people who need to use condoms the most (those with multiple sexual partners) are often likely to be careless in their use. Pregnancy rates can be used as a correlation for such heterosexuals.

    The simple formula (promiscuous sex + condoms = safe sex) relies rather heavily on the plus sign.

  43. Jim Denham said,

    Marx’s starting point was that it is man’s *duty* to realize his highest potential by throwing off everything that keeps him imperfect and degraded. It’s crystal clear that, for Marx, religion was a major degrading force.

    If people seriously doubt Marx’s hostility to religion (and I find such doubt frankly incredible) I suggest people read Marx on religion for themselves – together with Lenin and the other classical Marxists – and draw their own conclusions. Start maybe, with ‘Critique of Hegel’s Philosphy of Right: Introduction’ and ‘Capital’ Vol 1 (Chapter 1, last section) in which he makes it clear what he thinks of the role of religion in a system of commodity production is: “for a society of commodity producers, whose general social relation of production consists in the fact that nthey treat their products as commodities , hence as values, and in this material [sachlich] form bring their individual, private labours into relation with each other as homogenious human labour, Christianity with its religious cult of man in the abstract, more particularly in its bourgeois development, ie in Protestantism, Deism etc, is the most fitting form of religion….

    “…The religious reflections of the real world can, in any case, vanish only when the practical relations of everyday life between man and man, and man and nature, geneally presentn themselves in a transparent and rational form. The veil is not removed from the countenance of the social life-process, ie the process of material production, until it becomes production by freely associated men, and stands under their conscious and planned control.”

    But of course, as that profound post-Marxist John G would say “British society today is not the British Museum in 1867 .”

    Clive’s quote from Lenin is also good, despite JG’s pathetic and banal bleatings that pre-Revolutionary Russia was “not the same” as modern Britain:

    “It would be the biggest and most grievous mistake a Marxist could make to think that the millions of the people (especially the peasants and artisans), who have been condemned by all modern society to darkness, ignorance and superstitions — can extricate themselves from this darkness only along the straight line of a purely Marxist education. These masses should be supplied with the most varied atheist propaganda material… so as to interest them, rouse them from their religious torpor, stir them front the most varied angles and by the most varied methods, and so forth.

    “The keen, vivacious and talented writings of the old eighteenth-century atheists wittily and openly attacked the prevailing clericalism and will very often prove a thousand times more suitable for arousing people from their religious torpor than the dull and dry paraphrases of Marxism, almost completely unillustrated by skillfully selected facts, which predominate in our literature and which (it is no use hiding the fact) frequently distort Marxism…. The most important thing… is to know how to awaken in the still undeveloped masses an intelligent attitude towards religious questions and an intelligent criticism of religions.”

    Trotsky’s position is well explained here:

    http://www.workersliberty.org/node/3395

    But Trotsky’s man in the USA James P. Cannon really hit the nail on the head when he wrote (as a statement of the bleedin’ obvious): “We Marxists are by definition alien and hostile to each and every form of religious superstition. We believe with Marx that religion is the opium of the people; and we are not Marxists, not genuine socialists if we do not say so openly, regardless of whether our opinion is popular or not.”

    But, as JohnG would no doubt point out, New York in 1951 was not the same as Britain today…

    Btw, comrades who are intrigued by the desperate efforts of SWP’ers like JG and other “left” apologists for religion like Eagleton, to misrepresent Marx by down-playing his implacable atheism, may wonder where it comes from. Paul Hampton suggests at least part of the answer:

    http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2006/03/25/truth-about-marxism-and-religion

  44. Red Maria said,

    I think I’ve actually read Clive rather than just having reacted to what he wrote. He’s rather a good writer, actually.

    @ Skidmarx: maybe you’ve forgotten some of the stuff which was drilled into you. That said I deduce that you were at a Catholic school in the 1980s ie well after Vatican II, when RE teaching in England and Wales had shifted from old learning the catechism by rote techniques to a more experiential style of pedagogy.

    Apropos Edward C Green, any questions you have about his views should be put to him, not me. I just posted a link to an op-ed piece by him because I found it interesting. I’m sure there are demolitions of his views and work online and I think that’s excellent. Peer-review, fisking and debate are what it’s all about.

    You completely fail to answer the point that where the Bible talks about the “image and likeness”, it takes a quite heroic mangling of the words to suggest that it is some inner spirit and not the physical image and likeness that is referred to

    That’s because you didn’t make any such point in your previous posts. You can do so now. What’s your question, exactly?

    Nothing like a universal get out clause for defending the illogical.

    What’s illogical about saying that all things are possible for an omnipotent deity?

    Jim Denham asks: johng: are you, in fact a believer?

    With God all things are possible :-)

    John G said, But when confronted with an anti-semite demanding if I’m a Jew or not I tend not to answer.

    I met an anti-Semite about seven years ago at a Law Society reception. He banged on about how David Irving was a “gentleman” and then launched into his pet Holocaust denial theories.

    I lost my temper and said, do you want to come outside and say that?

  45. skidmarx said,

    What’s illogical about saying that all things are possible for an omnipotent deity?It’s not. In the absence of any evidence for the existence of said deity (and I’m not impressed with Aquinas’ “greatest thing we can conceive” shadow of an argument), it is a way of sidestepping any reasoned examination of the claims you put forward by saying, in the words of John Travolta in Pulp Fuction, that God can make the impossible possible. It is the deus ex machina of philosophical debate, a convenient cure all for an argument unsupported by evidence or logic.

    What’s your question, exactly?
    Gen 1:” Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”
    Gen 5:” In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him”
    Pius XII:” ‘if the origin of the human body is sought in living matter which existed before it, the spiritual soul is directly created by God.’ ”
    Does it not require a heroic mangling of the language, any language, to suggest that the Bible passages are not talking about the phsical form of the human body, rather than some inner spirit? Is it not obvious that having seen the Biblical account of the creation of man ripped apart by science this is a shabby attempt to shift ground?
    You said:
    I don’t believe His Infinitude only created superior types of humans like you in His image and likeness. At least neither He nor the Church have ever given that impression.
    Actually I don’t consider myself superior, but fuck it , if you want to have an inferiority complex go ahead. The first sentence is open to the interpretation that you don’t believe “His Infintitude” created anybody in His image and likeness, but from the rest of what you’ve said, I assume you’re going with the Pius line. Don’t you realise that when you make the words mean whatever you want them to mean they lose all meaning?
    Scrolling back up I see your first reference to this was to repeat the Bible verse:
    “God made man in his image and his likeness”
    So do you think that verse was intended by the writer, and was interpreted by Christians for a couple of millenia to mean that God sorted out man’s inner beauty while the external features were the work of natural causes, or would you accept the rational position that it says what it obviously appears to say, and Pius was just trying to dishonestly retreat when the science didn’t match the Book.

    johng – I can see some argument that because some atheists are on the Decent Left or the like, and because they use their attack on religion as a basis for supporting Western imperialism, that to attack religion is a mistaken path. But I think that’s to throw the baby out with the bathwater.Personally I came to socialism partly as a result of reading the Old Testament at the age of 9 or 10, seeing that this most prominent attempt to explain the history of the world and man’s place in it didn’t stack up, and then seeing that if there were major problems in the world it was likely to be those with major power in it, like the British prime minister, the American president and the Pope who were to blame, and it was only when power was taken out of their hands that we would live in a better world.

  46. Red Maria said,

    Skidmarx, chill out for goodness sakes. I’m in a good mood now but all I get from you is sneering hostility.

    Will answer your questions later on. Things to do, places to go etc.

  47. skidmarx said,

    Red Maria – well let’s hope your good mood persists. Some burning bush can help with that. I don’t know why you interpret my questions as sneering hostility, but hey that’s life.

    An addendum on my point to johng, I can see why in a period of reaction it may be more important to stress the need for certain religious groups to practise their religion without being demonised, but revolution is a process of questioning authority, where students challenge their teachers, kids their parents,and so forth, and questioning religion surely is a part of that.

  48. neprimerimye said,

    Questioning religion and rejecting it are essential elements in any progressive project. Trouble is that when the Daily Telegraph ”questions religion, as it has over this weekend, their aim is to defend authority. And attack those who do not adhere to their religion and question their authority. But this blog rather has a policy of taking the side of The Torygraph on such questions I fear.

  49. Jim Denham said,

    ” But this blog rather has a policy of taking the side of The Torygraph on such questions I fear”: care to explain, neprimerimye?

  50. Clive said,

    johng’s point about refusing to answer ‘are you a believer?’ being the same as refusing to answer ‘are you a Jew?’ has been doing my head in for the past day, so I feel compelled to comment on it. It’s really weird. When people ask if you’re a Jew, they’re not asking your opinion about the Torah, are they? They’re identifying you as a specific kind of person (or asking if you are such) – a kind of person they are racist towards.

    I can imagine an analogous situation in which someone demanded to know if I was a Muslim (unlikely, given what I look like, but obviously it’s not impossible; and obviously there are lots of other people who do look more stereotypically Muslim). I can imagine refusing to answer that question.

    But ‘do you believe in God?’ is a question about your opinions. How can you not answer a question about your opinions? (And contortions about what orthodox Marxism allegedly says on the matter not withstanding, to most people if you happen to mention you agree with something called ‘historical materialism’ they will know what the answer is).

  51. Jim Denham said,

    Well said, Clive! Exactly the point I’d considered making, but couldn’t be arsed. Another point about John G , is that if confronted by an anti-semite I suspect his reaction, like that of a writer he’s on the record as agreeing with on this matter – Michael Neuman – would be to have “some fun with anti semitism”:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/neumann0604.html

  52. Rosie said,

    Yeah it’s peculiar. Is he saying that people are asking that question with hostile intent and so he won’t dignify a hostile question with an answer? But what does he say to equally hostile people who ask him if he’s a Marxist?

    Come on, johng, say it loud and say it proud. “Feminist” is a dirty word these days in many circles but I’d stil say “yes” if I was asked if I was a feminist by people, however hostile and jeering.

  53. johng said,

    Seems to me that you lot need to get churched up:

    Point is that all of you are worshipping authority and challenging nothing. Some stand with the oppressed. Some stand with the man. Religion has little to do with it.

  54. Jim Denham said,

    “Seems to me that you lot need to get churched up”: extraordinary!
    I like Johnny Cash. I also like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington (all deeply religious). I feel no need to get “churched up” in order to appreciate them.

    And the suggestion that “Religion has little to do with it” (liberation) is simply…well…preposterous for a Marxist.

    But then John *isn’t* really a Marxist at all — are you John?

  55. Clive said,

    Yes, John. Some stand with the oppressed. And religion does sometimes have something to do with that. Did you actually read the post to which this is a thread?

    Let’s take one other example, just as an example. (You could go on and on with them):

    http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/partners/868.html

    Which man are you with? Fool.

  56. voltairespriest said,

    I haven’t heard anyone use the phrase “the man” outiside of hippy movies for years lol

  57. martin ohr said,

    You mustn’t miss this classic Newmanism though. Specifically it is to do with criticisms of IFE:

    135

    .#133This is too complex an issue to resolve in the comments sections of a blog.

    In the modern context, those who activley campiagn for secualrism in the UK are usually using it as a stalking horse for disadvantaging Muslims and Catholics.

    That in itself suggests that the “principle” needs modifying, to be much more critical of the “enlightenment” assumptions that lead to the atomist/centrist mode of the state.

    An initial sketch of my views are spelt out here: http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=1874

    Comment by Andy Newman — 2 March, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  58. Lobby Ludd said,

    “You mustn’t miss this classic Newmanism though.”

    Yeah, and you should have seen what he wore at the end of term disco – so gay!

  59. Voltaire's Priest said,

    My favourite Noomanism (spell it correctly Martin!) in that thread is in response to a question as to whether he knows what secularism means:

    In Britain in 2010, it means this

    The statement is followed by a YouTube video of the English Defence League in Stoke. If there was a prize for writing utter bollocks…

  60. skidmarx said,

  61. martin ohr said,

    I’m not sure you are correct. The football match I referee’d this afternoon the away team drove up in a minibus. Big green lettering on othe side simply said “Cardinal Newman” http://cardinalnewman.ac.uk. I was fully expecting 11 middle-aged blokes in grubby jumpers and benny hill glasses to get out and come and delete me.

  62. charliethechulo said,

    Newman completely degenerated some time ago:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/7652841.stm

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