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After Religion Fizzles, We’re Stuck With Nietzsche

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Posted on May 9, 2010
AP / Olivier Laban-Mattei

By Chris Hedges

It is hard to muster much sympathy over the implosion of the Catholic Church, traditional Protestant denominations or Jewish synagogues. These institutions were passive as the Christian right, which peddles magical thinking and a Jesus-as-warrior philosophy, hijacked the language and iconography of traditional Christianity. They have busied themselves with the boutique activism of the culture wars. They have failed to unequivocally denounce unfettered capitalism, globalization and pre-emptive war. The obsession with personal piety and “How-is-it-with-me?” spirituality that permeates most congregations is narcissism. And while the Protestant church and reformed Judaism have not replicated the perfidiousness of the Catholic bishops, who protect child-molesting priests, they have little to say in an age when we desperately need moral guidance.

I grew up in the church and graduated from a seminary. It is an institution whose cruelty, inflicted on my father, who was a Presbyterian minister, I know intimately. I do not attend church. The cloying, feel-your-pain language of the average clergy member makes me run for the door. The debates in most churches—whether revolving around homosexuality or biblical interpretation—are a waste of energy. I have no desire to belong to any organization, religious or otherwise, which discriminates, nor will I spend my time trying to convince someone that the raw anti-Semitism in the Gospel of John might not be the word of God. It makes no difference to me if Jesus existed or not. There is no historical evidence that he did. Fairy tales about heaven and hell, angels, miracles, saints, divine intervention and God’s beneficent plan for us are repeatedly mocked in the brutality and indiscriminate killing in war zones, where I witnessed children murdered for sport and psychopathic gangsters elevated to demigods. The Bible works only as metaphor.

The institutional church, when it does speak, mutters pious non-statements that mean nothing. “Given the complexity of factors involved, many of which understandably remain confidential, it is altogether appropriate for members of our armed forces to presume the integrity of our leadership and its judgments, and therefore to carry out their military duties in good conscience,” Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, wrote about the Iraq war. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, on the eve of the invasion, told believers that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was a menace, and that reasonable people could disagree about the necessity of using force to overthrow him. It assured those who supported the war that God would not object. B’nai B’rith supported a congressional resolution to authorize the 2003 attack on Iraq. The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, which represents Reform Judaism, agreed it would back unilateral action, as long as Congress approved and the president sought support from other nations. The National Council of Churches, which represents 36 different faith groups, in a typical bromide, urged President George W. Bush to “do all possible” to avoid war with Iraq and to stop “demonizing adversaries or enemies” with good-versus-evil rhetoric, but, like the other liberal religious institutions, did not condemn the war. 

A Gallup poll in 2006 found that “the more frequently an American attends church, the less likely he or she is to say the war was a mistake.” Given that Jesus was a pacifist, and given that all of us who graduated from seminary rigorously studied Just War doctrine, which was flagrantly violated by the invasion of Iraq, this is a rather startling statistic.

But I cannot rejoice in the collapse of these institutions. We are not going to be saved by faith in reason, science and technology, which the dead zone of oil forming in the Gulf of Mexico and our production of costly and redundant weapons systems illustrate. Frederick Nietzsche’s Übermensch, or “Superman”—our secular religion—is as fantasy-driven as religious magical thinking.

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There remain, in spite of the leaders of these institutions, religiously motivated people toiling in the inner city and the slums of the developing world. They remain true to the core religious and moral values ignored by these institutions. The essential teachings of the monotheistic traditions are now lost in the muck of church dogma, hollow creeds and the banal bureaucracy of institutional religion. These teachings helped create the concept of the individual. The belief that we can exist as distinct beings from the tribe, or the crowd, and that we are called on as individuals to make moral decisions that can defy the clamor of the nation is one of the gifts of religious thought. This call for individual responsibility is coupled with the constant injunctions in Islam, Judaism and Christianity for compassion, especially for the weak, the impoverished, the sick and the outcast.

We are rapidly losing the capacity for the moral life. We reject the anxiety of individual responsibility that laid the foundations for the open society. We are enjoined, after all, to love our neighbor, not our tribe. This empowerment of individual conscience was the starting point of the great ethical systems of all civilizations. Those who championed this radical individualism, from Confucius to Socrates to Jesus, fostered not obedience and conformity, but dissent and self-criticism. They initiated the separation of individual responsibility from the demands of the state. They taught that culture and society were not the sole prerogative of the powerful, that freedom and indeed the religious and moral life required us to often oppose and challenge those in authority, even at great personal cost. Immanuel Kant built his ethics upon this radical individualism. And Kant’s injunction to “always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as mere means” runs in a direct line from the Socratic ideal and the Christian Gospels.


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By REDHORSE, May 11, 2010 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

WOW!!

 
  Both the political and spiritual hair split infinitely—-endless speculation by the collective ends in chaos. There is no law until someone makes themselves judge. Are we as a nation of individuals the “last men”?  Mr. Hedges only tells us what we already know. There is no political, spiritual or moral center left in America. Only greedy and visionless thugs.

  This is a witches brew and we’re all in the pot together. We know something is dying and are afraid of what might be being born. What scares me is, our friend TENNESSEE is most likely as right or wrong as the rest of us. The good news is that it’s a brand new ballgame. Our best minds and souls have been forged in times like these. We are a young country but we’ve faced and overcome a lot worse than the corrupt little clowns in D.C.——We’re made for the frontier and we’re made for hard times. The light is still in us——let’s take it from beneath the bushel
of despair and let it shine. Every man owns a death—make yours count.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 11, 2010 at 9:47 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, May 11 at 11:09 am #

Why bother approaching the existence of something scientifically
if it doesn’t exist?  It would be like doing experiments on
nothingness, then obliviously doing them.  Painfully hoping
there might be something to the contrived shadow you are boxing.
I suppose one could measure nothingness, but it might be tricky.
Like, for instance, what would be the first scientific test?  As a
Happy Atheist, I am open to palpable evidence of somethingness.
In my lifetime ‘nothing’ has yet come down the pike that takes the
form of supernatural beingness.

Agnostics rely on knowledge and since knowledge is always provisional
they are always in a safe seat on the picket fence, neither believing nor
disbelieving.  They are safebetters, Pascal Wagerers.  For anything to be
scientific knowledge, tests must be repeatable and corroborated.  Do
you really think, ITW, that is possible, even probable?

************************************************

Not up to your usual brilliance, She.

Cosmologists REGULARLY wrestle with the concept of the Void (which is, after all, nothingness) and what space really is.  How do waves propagate across it if it’s not there.  So they wrack their brains for how to test it….and EVENTUALLY come up with ways.  They have come up with ways to test for some things it was thought could NEVER be tested for, including, now, some indications of the correctness of String Theory, thought to be untestable.  It’s a little remote, like testing the existence of a watch by the echo of its ticking, but it IS testable.

Will there be such a way to test for God’s existence? How the HELL should I know?  They used to think there was no way to test for extra-solar planets. Now they’ve found something like 300 of them….

And the Pascal’s Wager is just plain insulting and wrong.  The PW is TRULY the Chicken’s Way Out.

Pascal says if he believes in God and there is a God then he wins.  If there is no God he loses nothing. He then argues the dual: If one does not believe in God and there is no God, one gains nothing. But if one does not believe in God and there is a God, one loses everything.

Any Agnostic who thinks that way isn’t an Agnostic at all.  You make the same mistake the religious make of accusing Agnostics of being fence sitters since we haven’t picked a side in deciding how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

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By Shenonymous, May 11, 2010 at 9:24 am Link to this comment

Why Supreme Being of Humor, are you suggesting there
could be a universal moral?  Please excuse my iconoclasm, it is
done with properly raised eyebrows and eyes seeking in the
direction of the sky.  Buts ahs don’t genuflect, which is not a
bawdy act, just in case you didn’t know Oh Omniscient One. 
That is…I mean…uh…Your Triple Os…are you requesting or
commanding?
  Would you please check in with the resident Moral
Contextualists then get back to us your groupies.

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By Leefeller, May 11, 2010 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

May it be possible morals are acquired like manners
by association? Is there a moral code or commonality
of all peoples in the world, where they are morally
exactly similar, regardless of religions or
societies?

After all the missionaries were utilized and sent
around the world for a reason, to promote their own
agendas known as the missionary position of
morality, or maybe it was not morality they were
spreading?

A clear agreed upon definition of morality would be
useful, we here on TD may not agree on what is meant
by moral.

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By Shenonymous, May 11, 2010 at 8:07 am Link to this comment

“The Ten Commandments should be thrown out.”  Indeed
they should be as if they are the sole property of religion.  Some
are self-evident and always were and ought not to be commandable
by some invented supernatural being.  Of course, they were only
invented reminders for the chosen people.  The ones about the
jealous god and not taking the name of god in vain ought to be
thrown out f’sure.  I find great pleasure, as a hedonist, in taking gawd’s
name in vain.  Call it vanity sayeth the arrogant Happy Atheist.  Now
where did I put that cord of wood? 

Oh yeah, let’s do blame it on language! That is always a safe resort. 
Poor Fred, in the end he was unable to cope with his own insights.

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By Virginia777, May 11, 2010 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

Moral guidance isn’t only found in one’s conscience, thank goodness, moral guidance is found in religion and in the living word of visionaries throughout time - like Martin Luther King - who found plenty of moral guidance through Christianity.

The belief that the Self can and will exert moral guidance at the appropriate moments in history, is an arrogant one. The Self, by definition, is selfish, concerned only about the self, the individual, and not others, certainly not others like the poor and downtrodden.

Good religion emphasizes the importance of removal of the individual from the Self, into collective consciousness, into taking care of each other.

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By Anarcissie, May 11, 2010 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

‘And in India, as in Greece, the same mistake was made: “We must once have been at home in a higher world (instead of in a very much lower one, which would have been the truth); we must have been divine, for we have reason!” Indeed, nothing has yet possessed a more naive power of persuasion than the error concerning being, as it has been formulated by the Eleatics, for example. After all, every word we say and every sentence speak in its favor. Even the opponents of the Eleatics still succumbed to the seduction of their concept of being: Democritus, among others, when he invented his atom—“Reason” in language—A deceptive old woman! I am afraid we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar.’  (Twilight of the Idols, Ch. 2)

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By Leefeller, May 11, 2010 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

My imaginary friend exists and I demand everyone else
believe and accept that he exists. Otherwise they must
prove scientifically of his existence, but for now, I
am only one person, you just wait until I become a
conspiracy. Then you will see! Raging bonfires!

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By elisalouisa, May 11, 2010 at 7:46 am Link to this comment

By Shenonymous, May 11 at 11:14 am #
“Moral guidance is nowhere to be found.”  Why yes, moral ?guidance is found,
but only within one’s own conscience. 
*******
Living proof of the future that Chris Hedges alludes to: “Moral guidance is found, but only within one’s own conscience. What I think is a moral action makes it a moral action.”
In some ways true. For a ‘sin’ can only be a ‘sin’ if one commits that ‘sin’ with that knowledge. If you commit a heinous act, such as murder, but you consider it a moral act for a ‘greater cause’ or whatever then it is a moral action as to your responsibility. But you must have some guidance or source or have observed something that guides you to come that conclusion.
The discussions in the universities as to the morality of certain situations or lifestyle that make for a better society are a waste if you do not take them into consideration. Or for that matter the discussions of the Jewish scholars who studied the Talmud and taught Jewish law are all a waste.The Ten Commandments should be thrown out. Each Superperson for him/herself.
Superlady needs no one.

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By Leefeller, May 11, 2010 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

elisalouisa stated;

“Atheists have an inner rage that Agnostics lack. My
personal observations and I confine my remarks to
generalities.”

If someone doesn’t believe in something and is being
burned at the stake because some clown in fancy
robes and a pointy hat decided they must believe or
become entertainment, it would seem more likely to
be a burning rage!

Speaking of generalized absolutisms, I know a
benevolent Atheists who rages often when they deem
it necessary, on the other hand I know a raging
agnostic who seems benevolent on occasion!

For that matter I have seen raging Christians and
other religious zealots who I have never seem
benevolent!

So I will generalize, there is no raging everything
except those of the religious kind.

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By Jim, May 11, 2010 at 7:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You are all hiding from reality. Stop, turn off your computer and go outside your house. There before you, you will find the real world. Have the courage to live in it and take action in it for good. Stop hiding behind your keyboard and acting like men. Go out and simply be men in your actions.

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By Shenonymous, May 11, 2010 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

“Moral guidance is nowhere to be found.”  Why yes, moral
guidance is found, but only within one’s own conscience.  Looking
for it elsewhere is relinquishing one’s own mind.  Such is the
attitude of the willing slave.  Aren’t we lucky Eve ate that apple?

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By Shenonymous, May 11, 2010 at 7:09 am Link to this comment

Why bother approaching the existence of something scientifically
if it doesn’t exist?  It would be like doing experiments on
nothingness, then obliviously doing them.  Painfully hoping
there might be something to the contrived shadow you are boxing.
I suppose one could measure nothingness, but it might be tricky. 
Like, for instance, what would be the first scientific test?  As a
Happy Atheist, I am open to palpable evidence of somethingness. 
In my lifetime ‘nothing’ has yet come down the pike that takes the
form of supernatural beingness.

Agnostics rely on knowledge and since knowledge is always provisional
they are always in a safe seat on the picket fence, neither believing nor
disbelieving.  They are safebetters, Pascal Wagerers.  For anything to be
scientific knowledge, tests must be repeatable and corroborated.  Do
you really think, ITW, that is possible, even probable?

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By elisalouisa, May 11, 2010 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

By Inherit The Wind, May 11 at 7:37 am #
Amon Drool, May 10 at 5:36 pm #
stephen colbert show…topic under discussion: belief in god
guest: “Well, I’m an agnostic when it comes to this matter.”
colbert: “Come on now…isn’t an agnostic only an atheist without balls?” ?
***************************************
Only someone who understands neither would make such an obnoxious
statement.
Atheism is cynical. Agnosticism is skeptical.
________
Glad you didn’t let that one go by ITW. Also, I would say that there are degrees as to skepticism in Agnostics. Some Agnostics continually wrestle with God or the thought of God and almost want you to prove them wrong. At the same time, they respect all life and put “believers” to shame as to a moral code. Atheists have an inner rage that Agnostics lack. My personal observations and I confine my remarks to generalities.

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By Brainlego, May 11, 2010 at 6:45 am Link to this comment

Inherit the wind wrote:
“Only Agnostics TRULY approach the existence of God scientifically. “

Umh no. As most atheists are at least partly agnostic, but we dismiss the god hypothesis because of various different reasons. The old joke is that we actually only go one futher than most people:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0A4_bwCaX0 smile

Also, some define agnostic as those who say that one can never truly know so they won’t bother with one way or another.

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By elisalouisa, May 11, 2010 at 6:45 am Link to this comment

Thebeerdoctor: “...They have little to say in an age when we desperately need moral guidance.”

Chris Hedges: “We think we have the moral fortitude and wisdom to create our own moral code. The high priests of our new religion run Wall Street, the Pentagon and the corporate state. They flood our airwaves with the tawdry and the salacious. They, too, promise a utopia. They redefine truth, beauty, morality,
desire and goodness. And we imbibe their poison as blind followers once imbibed the poison of the medieval church.”

Who speaks out against the Pentagon, Wall Street and the corporate state. Certainly not our religious leaders.  Moral guidance is nowhere to be found.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 11, 2010 at 6:39 am Link to this comment

truedigger3, May 11 at 8:48 am #

Inherit The Wind wrote:
“Atheism is cynical. Agnosticism is skeptical.”
_____________________________________________________

ITW,

What that suppose to mean?
I think Colbert is right. Maybe labelling agnostics as cowards is too strong but let us say that agnostics are in reality atheists who are diplomatic.
For the records, I am an atheist and I say so without any apology and mincing words.

***************************************************

Do I have to spell it out? You as an atheist, believe in your heart of hearts that there is no God.  You take it on faith that God does not exist.  Denial of God without evidence is as much an act of faith as acceptance of God without evidence.

I, as an agnostic, deny that belief is valid or that faith is a valid form of knowledge.  I have NO belief in God, nor in God’s non-existence. I have NO faith in God, nor in God’s non-existence.

Since you have faith and I do not, you have far more in common with the religious than I do.  I am utterly opposed to the concept that faith or acts of faith have any validity whatsoever.

A cynic has all the answers.
A skeptic has nothing but questions.

No cowardice.  Just a refusal to accept the Atheist’s faith that there is no God anymore than the religiousist’s faith that there is.

Believers and Atheists falsely agree that Agnostics are those who can’t make up their minds or are too chicken to have an opinion. Both are wrong and demean Agnostics, who, instead refuse to accept OR deny the existence on faith alone.

People confuse Atheists and Agnostics, both as non-believers in God, but there the similarity ends.

As an Agnostic I do not believe in God.  But I also don’t believe in little green men from Alpha Centuri.  If they show up, my fact base changes, and I must alter my conclusion.

Only Agnostics TRULY approach the existence of God scientifically.

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By Shenonymous, May 11, 2010 at 5:27 am Link to this comment

What? You guys never heard of The Happy Atheist?

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By thebeerdoctor, May 11, 2010 at 5:09 am Link to this comment

“...they have little to say in an age when we desperately need moral guidance.”
Watson! Come here quick, I have discovered the key to this puzzle. You see old fellow, Hedges for all of his educated erudition and outrage, actually pines for some kind of authority to tell him what to do. In other words dear chum, he still wants The Man to tell him how to behave. He clings to his God crutch, no matter how many horrors he has seen in the battlefield. He “desperately” needs The Man for guidance.
And, like many educated folks of the liberal class, he thinks of poor folks in terms of a social cause. His intentions are presumably noble, but he must know, according to his religious background, what road that leads to. But he is in literary denial. A denial that enables Hedges to announce that new technology is just another stanza to Barry McGuire’s “Eve Of Destruction”, “when human respect is disintegratin’
The whole crazy world is just too frustratin’”
He claims to take solace from literature. Books are his shield in a fiber optic world. It does not matter if myths are exactly that: myths, as long as they strike a righteous chord in his opus of Doom.
Strange is it not, that while he denounces earthy corporate authority, and rightfully so, he says “we desperately need moral guidance.”
That use of the word “we” is troubling. No my friend, I think it is He who desperately needs moral guidance. If he needs The Man that’s his business, not mine.

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By truedigger3, May 11, 2010 at 4:48 am Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind wrote:
“Atheism is cynical. Agnosticism is skeptical.”
_____________________________________________________

ITW,

What that suppose to mean?
I think Colbert is right. Maybe labelling agnostics as cowards is too strong but let us say that agnostics are in reality atheists who are diplomatic.
For the records, I am an atheist and I say so without any apology and mincing words.

Report this

By truedigger3, May 11, 2010 at 4:36 am Link to this comment

ofersince72 wrote:
“It won’t matter what the Bible or Nietzsche preached when we have to eat and drink oil.
Should be enough blood too.”
____________________________________________________

ofersince72,
That is a very good point that makes a lot of sense.
It is very depressing what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico.
I don’t think we are being told the extent of the disaster unfolding there.

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By dissentispatriotic, May 11, 2010 at 4:22 am Link to this comment

RE: shemp333, May 11 at 7:28 am

Cleaver little play on my user name, but of course you understand
that while very close in literal meaning “dissident” has a much more
sinister connotation than “dissent”. 

Agreed. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Renewables will not exist
without stringent work and investment by our government. I am an
active advocate(community organizer). But is it oversimplifyed to say
to someone, just drive your personal vehicle half as much? We don’t
take responsibility. We hide behind politics and religion when WE are
directly funding the whole mess through our sycophantic lifestyles.
What I am advocating is that in addition to regulation and advances
in technology we all buy a bicycle. We plan our driving deliberately
instead of being frivolous in order to curb our consumption is a
serious way. We take the bus to work a few days a week. We walk to
the grocery store(where applicable) and avoid plastic bags. It’s just
a simple choice.

I have to agree again that at large people are unwilling to change
but the urgency is that hundreds of thousands are being murdered in
our name for oil. It’s like we’re all on a defective roller-coaster
careening toward doom but no one wants to get off. All I am saying is
that it IS a simple choice. Stay on or bail for your life.

Thank you for your positive constructiveness.

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By dissentispatriotic, May 11, 2010 at 4:17 am Link to this comment

RE: shemp333, May 11 at 7:28 am

Cleaver little play on my user name, but of course you understand
that while very close in literal meaning “dissident” has a much more
sinister connotation than “dissent”. 

Agreed. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Renewables will not exist
without stringent work and investment by our government. I am an
active advocate(community organizer). But is it oversimplifyed to say
to someone, just drive your personal vehicle half as much? We don’t
take responsibility. We hide behind politics and religion when WE are
directly funding the whole mess through our sycophantic lifestyles.
What I am advocating is that in addition to regulation and advances
in technology we all buy a bicycle. We plan our driving deliberately
instead of being frivolous in order to curb our consumption is a
serious way. We take the bus to work a few days a week. We walk to
the grocery store(where applicable) and avoid plastic bags. It’s just
a simple choice.

I have to agree again that at large people are unwilling to change
but the urgency is that hundreds of thousands are being murdered in
our name for oil. It’s like we’re all on a defective roller-coaster
careening toward doom but no one wants to get off. All I am saying is
that it IS a simple choice. Stay on or bail for your life.

Thank you for your positive constructiveness.


P.S. a little light reading. if your interested

Patria literally means “the homeland” (not “home government”). So
patriotism
means devotion to the people and the land (not government) in which
you were
born. Nationalism is the devotion to the interests of a particular
nation or
government including promoting the interests of one country over
those of
others. Dissent does not mean resisting all authority, it very simply
means to disagree. What I am dissenting against is the idea of
nationalism, which is the idea that one nation is superior to others.
Because nationalism(+religion) is responsible for the overwhelming
majority of war and genocide throughout history. I realize that
extreme patriotism can be used as a tool to carry out a nationalist
agenda, but that is the very reason that I am anti-nationalistic. So
that I can continue to love the people while disagreeing with and
speaking out against the unjust actions of my government.

So my user name dissentispatriotic literally means that hating
nationalism
or the actions of ones government does not equate to hating the
people or
the land. Incidentally, being anti-nationalism is not the same as
being an
anti-national. Anti-national means to be against ones nation and for
another. I am not for any other nation over my own, I just believe
that we
are not intrinsically superior.

I think that the Nazi propaganda machine used every term in their
language in a sinister way for their political end. A great example
is the term “National Socialism”. The Nazis were certainly NOT
socialists. They exterminated(quite literally) the German socialist
party after their rise to power. Also buy using the term
“fatherland”(uber alles) they tainted the meaning of the word Patria
forever because suddenly “government”(father is a common euphemism
for government) and “land” were synonymous. That was one of the most
dangerous lies used to manipulate the German people because it
implied that you could not love the people and the land without
loving the Nazis. Dangerous stuff! Some of that ultra-Nationalist
ideology is still hanging around here in the US.
dissent is patriotic!

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By Vinifera, May 11, 2010 at 4:17 am Link to this comment

Hello Mr. Hedges,

I just finished several of your books including Empire, War, Atheism; very disturbing—well done. Your premises in this article run counter to those outlined in another book I recently read called “God is Back” written by two reporters (a Roman Catholic and an atheist) from the Economist—yes reporters like you! The book compares the fizzling organized religion in Europe to that thriving in North America and the reasons. In their opinion, religion is on the rise. They are less critical of expressions of faith than the views expressed in your writings documenting some of the humanitarian good in places like inner city Philadelphia and (gasp) Focus on the Family.

I recommend it to you and your readership.

V

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By clangcave, May 11, 2010 at 4:15 am Link to this comment

Hedges along with many others here have never studied Nietzsche, especially in his native language. This man was the Oscar Wilde prototype. Only funnier.

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By shemp333, May 11, 2010 at 3:54 am Link to this comment

Inherit the Wind,

  I’ve seen you on before and love most of your comments,  but I don’t think atheism is cynical.  Also the dictionary has both agnostic and atheist described as “disbeliever in God” or “disbelieves in God”.  I myself always thought of agnostic as one who has not been convinced of the existence of God, and an atheist as one who does not believe that God exists…  either way I would say they are pretty close.  But maybe the atheist would reject evidence of God’s existence… as the agnostic would as you say,  take the evidence skeptically.  I just do not see atheism as totally cynical.  I know many that love that there is no God.  I guess they are the antitheists…

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By shemp333, May 11, 2010 at 3:38 am Link to this comment

Brilliant comment by Brainlego a while back at May 10 6:27pm.  Just spot on!

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By Inherit The Wind, May 11, 2010 at 3:37 am Link to this comment

Amon Drool, May 10 at 5:36 pm #

stephen colbert show…topic under discussion: belief in god

guest: “Well, I’m an agnostic when it comes to this matter.”

colbert: “Come on now…isn’t an agnostic only an atheist without balls?”
***************************************

Only someone who understands neither would make such an obnoxious statement.

Atheism is cynical. Agnosticism is skeptical.

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By shemp333, May 11, 2010 at 3:28 am Link to this comment

dissidentispatriotic,
We read you the first time…

Avdvelden,
I like with your comments as well.  There needs to be transparency yes… and the gov’t would be a good place to start getting cleaner energy into motion.  As the economy is lagging at the moment…  Starting a new direction in energy consumption would help create jobs, while maintaining the current system as the new cleaner fuel makes inroads.  Then set up a system of transferance as easily as can be done from one to the other,  bringing the old to the new.  It is a very difficult thing to do though and must be well thought out….  It’s also a very “hard sell” because change does make everyone nervous… especially when you are changing their livelihoods… One of the hardest thing to do is make people change.

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By dissentispatriotic, May 11, 2010 at 3:07 am Link to this comment

!OIL!CONSUMPTION!CUT!IN!HALF!WOULD!NOT!KILL!IRAQIS!
RENEWABLE!ENERGY!FOR!THE!OTHER!HALF!WOULD!NOT!KILL!AMERICANS!
I!WILL!NOT!DENY!ANY!MAN!OR!WOMAN!THE!RIGHT!TO!BELIEVE
!AS!THEIR!CONSCIENCE!DICTATES!WOULD!NOT!KILL!US!ALL!

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By 1984, May 11, 2010 at 3:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The great religions set free the critical powers of humankind.”  by C. Hedges
On the contrary. When the followers are considered sheep, have commandments and authoritative priests controlling things it hasn’t exactly been the emancipator of mankind neither in body or mind.

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By Avdvelden, May 11, 2010 at 3:01 am Link to this comment

I totally agree with shemp333. Only science and factfinding can bring more transparancy and power to those who have to suffer under the greed of others. If not, why bother to be an investigative journalist and write the stories behind the official accounts and corporate PR?

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By shemp333, May 11, 2010 at 2:56 am Link to this comment

“We are not going to be saved by faith in reason, science and technology, which the dead zone of oil forming in the Gulf of Mexico and our production of costly and redundant weapons systems illustrate.”

Once again, I completely disagree.  Abandon reason?  Forget science and technology?  Isn’t that where we can, and should, be reaching for an alternative to our use of fossil fuels?  Chris, this is a very disappointing argument or article,  whatever you call it.  I call it defeatist and just plain wrong.

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By Avdvelden, May 11, 2010 at 2:52 am Link to this comment

Morality has nothing to do with religion. Moral judgements are made by humans irrespective of religion or non-religion. Atheism doesn’t go with a lack of morality, as religion doesn’t guarantee humane morality. This is what scientific study of history and anthropology teaches us. Man is week, thus greed should not be given free reign. State capitalism leaves free play to greed. That is why we need more socialism and transparency in our democracies. We don’t need more myth, we need more protection on the basis of the oldest capacitiy of mankind: empathy.

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By shemp333, May 11, 2010 at 2:47 am Link to this comment

“The great religions set free the critical powers of humankind.”  by C. Hedges

I could not disagree more.

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By dissentispatriotic, May 11, 2010 at 2:45 am Link to this comment

RE: ofersince72, May 11 at 5:34 am

I think that this post from ofersince72 is worth repeating one more
time:

“It won’t matter what the Bible or Nietzsche preached
when we have to eat and drink oil.
Should be enough blood too.
So lets all go get in our cars and drive, drive, drive..”

Thank you for the truth you expressed. Very concise. It needed to be
said.

“Just look at that pile of dead bastards over there”
WikiLeaks—Collateral Murder
http://wikileaks.org/

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By dissentispatriotic, May 11, 2010 at 2:24 am Link to this comment

!OIL!CONSUMPTION!CUT!IN!HALF!WOULD!NOT!KILL!IRAQIS!
RENEWABLE!ENERGY!FOR!THE!OTHER!HALF!WOULD!NOT!KILL!AMERIC
ANS!I!WILL!NOT!DENY!ANY!MAN!OR!WOMAN!THE!RIGHT!TO!BELIEVE
!AS!THEIR!CONSCIENCE!DICTATES!WOULD!NOT!KILL!US!ALL!

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By dissentispatriotic, May 11, 2010 at 2:12 am Link to this comment

“Just look at that pile of dead bastards over there”
WikiLeaks—Collateral Murder
http://wikileaks.org/

huge thanks again to amunaor for this link
it is graphic and disturbing

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By ofersince72, May 11, 2010 at 2:08 am Link to this comment

Cris Hedges,  I believe it is more THE PRINCE

we are left with !!!!!!!!!

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By dissentispatriotic, May 11, 2010 at 2:04 am Link to this comment

RE: Herk, May 10 at 7:56 pm

“More likely, “Yeshua bin Yusuf.” Nazareth wasn’t much of a place then.
Yes, it is the same as Joshua. But it was also a very common name as
well as the name of a historical figure. Since ‘Jesus’ is the Greek
form of the name, and most of the NT is written by Greek writers, we
mysteriously get Jesus while Joshua is still written as Joshua. Hint:
they probably didn’t call him ‘Jesus’ at home.”

Thank you for that important context. I will be adding it to my
argument in the future. I will do more research surrounding that point
but I’m guessing that “bin Yusuf” means son of Joseph. I wander how
many American fundamentalists would pray to Yeshua bin Yusuf? Although
I grew up in a fundamentalist household and I did hear the term Yeshua
Jahovah every once in a while.

But still, the dichotomy between Imperialism/Capitalism and the actual
teachings of the man are vast. That is what drove me from religion. The
obvious hypocricies around me. The ultra individualistic and hedonistic
culture teaching a faith that, in my impression, taught against
materialism, greed, vanity, lust, and possession. Everything I saw
around me was diametrically opposed to those ideas, even within the
church. From television to toilet paper everything was designed for
comfort and self indulgence. And indeed it is our demand for a
disproportionate share the worlds resources !OIL! that contributes to
oppression and war now. Not unlike the “religious” empires of the past.

I usually try and finish with some sort of positive message or
suggestion of solution, but with religion the second that I do that I
am preaching and I become a “fundamentalist”. Which, of course, is the
problem in the first place. I will not deny any man or women their
right to believe as their conscience dictates. I will say that at this
point !CONSERVATION! in general might not be a bad idea friends. My
friend always says “one day the world is going to shake us off like
fleas.”, and she may be right.

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By ofersince72, May 11, 2010 at 2:03 am Link to this comment

Isn’t it so special, we can be dropping bombs,
causing sectarian violence, spewing out oil onto our
life support systems,,,,

while discussing Nietzsche, Greek philosophers and the Bible.

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By ofersince72, May 11, 2010 at 1:34 am Link to this comment

It won’t matter what the Bible or Nietzsche preached
when we have to eat and drink oil.
Should be enough blood tooo.
So lets all go get in our cars and drive, drive, drive..

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By Shenonymous, May 11, 2010 at 12:04 am Link to this comment

Where exactly is the “center” of the universe?  Can it be even
thought?  Anywhere where one stands is just as likely to be
the center of the universe as anyone else standing somewhere
different even a hundred lightyears away.  So isn’t the idea moot
and can’t anyone declare that they really are at the center?

The modern notion of “the individual” was first given in Jacob
Burkhardt’s Renaissance civilization in Italy.  Human beings were
considered only as belonging to a race, a population, a party, a
corporation, a family or some and other forms of ‘community.’  It was
the advemt of humanism in Italy that “lifted the veil” and mandated the
‘objective’ study of the State and other worldly things.  That new
way of thinking about reality went on to advance the ‘subjective’ aspect,
and man become individual, spiritual, assuming a new status of
consciousness. Most assuredly, the concept of individuality emerged
prior to the Renaissance in the western world, and the idea of ‘the
individual’ dawned with the appearance of a new social class for a
number of historical reasons at the end of the middle-ages, le
bourgeoisie
, due not the least to the recognition of crafts and
manual labor and the creation of small enterprises.  That was when
corporations also were invented in order to protect the identity and
specialization of members. The large masses of peoples who once did
not have a specific identity found themselves associating with each
other in commerce with the many guild and artisan activities within the
social structure of communes and began to develop their own identity
as members of the corporations recognized by the communes. 

It is that idea of the bourgeoise that is fundamentally individualistic
that also promotes the protection of private and intellectual property. 
The progress from the faceless anonymity 500 or so years ago to the
human aggregate of individuals of today, was not so easily won and the
threat of shoving these individuals back into that anonymity being
spelled so distinctly high-pitched by radical socialism and the Neu-
Communists is chilling if not horrifying.

Mel Brooks and the Inquisition Song was about the most hilarious thing
ever seen on this website.

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By c.hanna, May 10, 2010 at 11:45 pm Link to this comment

“Only the most enlightened of beings can benefit from the deepest human joys because within such beings resides a unique force of freedom and rapture. Their awareness rests in the house of spirit and their soul mates with their awareness, meaning that which shines in the soul is known with awareness. This unity of spirit and mind is the legacy of Hafiz.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

I would say that nietzsche is a complicated man, encompassing a thousand facets in one.

wE still have a long way to go for humanity to hit bottom, and that is what is really frightening. As bad as things are now, they will get much much worse before they get better. Like a drunk we have to reach down to the deepest depths of hell within our collective before we hit bottom and begin to somber up.

The greatest allegory of christ was his descent into hell. It is only after hitting that bottom, hell, that as individuals or as an entire planetary collective, we can “resurrect” ourselves from the ashes into a new and evolved being. The teachings of Jesus were made into literal happenings by the church, when all proof shows that these allegories of descents into Hell (the underworld) and the resurrection (to greater awareness) had been part of ancient cultures the world over.

It could be that the demise of Western religions is just a step into a more spiritual existence that co-habitats with nature more freely. Religion, whether one believes it or not, served a purpose. It is elementary. A starting point for some. Unfortunately, it became literalized and used as a means to control. But it did one thing people don’t think of. It kept the “words” of Jesus and many other wise beings from obsolescence. Jesus said more than once, and again in the newly found gospel of Thomas, that his words would make more sense to future generations. He spoke on more than one level and that is his genius.

To coerce the masses they had to make him into a god. Otherwise they would not have had the power of control. As a mere mortal Jesus is more profound and honest, but as a god he is illusive and easily manipulated by the mad hatters of the church.

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By CaptRon, May 10, 2010 at 11:13 pm Link to this comment

WOW, seems Hedges lit the fuse. Da bomb blew up in the comments section. One of my favorites came from JUANSTER who I feel gets this better than most. Picked up his opinion from the Native American Indian who seems to get this without taking anyone else’s opinion. Religions put God in a box, merchandised him so to speak. Couldn’t have said it better. Religion is put behind one’s actions then pulled out when needed to “legitimize” said actions, said another. Not everybody, just those who “believe”. I don’t know REDHORSE, but I think I would like him if I did. A believer, I feel, but has the ability and patience to understand others needed if you claim religion. Samosamo has also had some experience with the Native American and truthfully it surprised me from my recollections of other postings on other days, and I will pay more attention from this time on. As for me, I can relate to Hedges article in many ways of thought, and I feel it was a good one. Certainly sparked a rash of “prophets”. I cannot believe. Every, and I mean every so-called religion leaves me with the frustration I sensed from Hedges. In fact, it leans more to hostility, and it shouldn’t. Religion is a very long way from the “Garden of Eden” religion that I learned of as a child. Based on most of the comments I read here, it would be a very naive concept. What I would be left to believe from most, is that the last man standing would be considered “God”. That certainly isn’t me and I wouldn’t be around for it anyway. So, for the rest of my time, I believe from what I see. I believe that religion is how you live your life by way of compassion and love of humanity, not God so to speak, but the creations and the respect of them. That makes me happy and shouldn’t offend anyone. If it does, good luck on your quest to be “GOD”.

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By Interesting, May 10, 2010 at 11:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Funny to see this subject treated by Chris Hedges today.  Just last night I started reading Alain Badiou’s book on Saint Paul and couldn’t put it down.  Badiou is a(n unrepentant?) Maoist who has written one of the best books on Paul of anyone.  It’s absolutely riveting, and the style makes you feel as though these events are taking place this very moment.

I am not going to rush out and comment on this article (but I did think Chris was still a Christian, and so was puzzled) because it merits more thought—much more.  All I can say is, read Badiou on Paul.  It’s immense.  It will give you hope.

Don’t even think about losing hope.

And BTW, I’m an agnostic who has no patience for “atheism.”  (How the hell do you know for certain there is no God?  Pfft!  Neat trick if you do.)

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By diamond, May 10, 2010 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment

‘If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

  And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.

  If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

  Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated,

  It is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,

  It does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.

  For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

  When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.’
St. Paul, 1st letter to the Corinthians

Wasn’t Nietzsche an abused child who had a nervous breakdown? He’s clearly not the man for the job. I think we should listen to St. Paul.

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By Tennessee-Socialist, May 10, 2010 at 10:37 pm Link to this comment

THE FALL OF THE SATANIC BABYLON CAPITALIST SYSTEM

Fall of Babylon

Prophecy

http://www.revivalstreet.com/fall of babylon

The Lord kept me up most of the night bringing a word for me to share and to share now. Many times I wait until I have prayed over what I hear in my spirit, but I can’t wait to send this word out.    Last night while praying before I went to bed, The Lord gave me a vision that really rattled me.  In the vision I saw this land split into four parts with each one under its own flag.  Each region had terrible destruction and many people were dead.  As I looked over the destruction I was crying and the Lord asked me why are you crying over the fall of Babylon?  As a matter of fact, why have you been praying for the healing of Babylon?  In this vision I didn’t have an answer and the Lord opened a scroll and started reading of the indictments against our country, but before each one he clearly called the USA Babylon.    The list was long and to the point with such points as the killing of the several generations of unborn children.  Beside this charge He added that these babies had been sacrificed to the god of self.  The list also included greed, idolatry, pride, fornication, and many others, so many I could not even read them all.  As I looked at the list of charges I was overwhelmed and broken by the fact that we live everyday in a nation that is so far removed from God and in total opposition to the Kingdom of God, yet we are comfortable here.  We have become just like Lot living in Sodom, the prosperity that the nation offers us have blinded us from the evil that rules this land.  We complain about how bad it is but still stay attached to it with every ounce of strength we have.    The Lord told me to look at the nation as He sees it, not through my eyes but through His.  I could not look too long before I had to agree and repent of loving Babylon.  Once I repented the Lord told me to prepare for the fall as time is running out.  I must preach the Gospel of The Kingdom not the Gospel of America.  America is already judged, the time of shaking is now and will increase rapidly this summer.  Water shortages and food shortages will become common this summer, as well as fuel shortages.  Civil unrest will become common place in large cities first but will spill over into the rural areas as well.    Natural disasters will stretch the resources of the nation to the breaking point and the government will use this to take freedom away.  Brothers up north take note, you will see this start to happen quickly.  Please seek the Lord for direction as you are out of time.  The west coast will see this soon as well, please prepare.    In this vision there was a great wasteland that appeared to be in the center of the nation where everything was wiped out and I saw masses of people wandering without direction.  They were dirty and ragged, almost dead and there was no relief in sight.  Most of you guys reading this think I’m crazy I’m sure, but I must be faithful to share what I’m given to share.    The Lord told me to cry from the mountain tops to repent and seek the Lord now!!  We don’t have anymore time to seek after the things of this world.  He has also given me teaching to prepare people to pass through this time of shaking into the Kingdom and I must be faithful to preach this word anywhere I have an open door.  If you want to hear this word please contact me to set up times and places, but again I must warn you, we are running out of time.  We must stop living like we have all the time in the world.  We must stop crying over the fall of Babylon and press into the Kingdom.

Darren Smith Streetscape Ministries

One Love
One God
One Way

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By turbamagna, May 10, 2010 at 9:34 pm Link to this comment

A pox on those vile institutions that dominate or seek to hypnotise the masses, segregate the sexes, and extinguish intelligence in the name of a ficitious entity or some other corporatised artificiality!

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By Anarcissie, May 10, 2010 at 9:29 pm Link to this comment

PrematureFactulation, May 10 at 2:26 pm:
‘New Rule. When people generalize about the work of a person such as Nietzsche, they have to have actually studied his works… carefully. ...’

Oh, for heaven’s sake.  If a million monkeys sat down to read a million copies of The Birth of Tragedy, then….  then….

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By elisalouisa, May 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm Link to this comment

The last sentence of Mr. Hedges’ column:
“And the death of religious institutions will only cement into place the new secular religion of the Last Man, the one that worships military power, personal advancement, hedonism and greed, the one that justifies our callousness toward the weak and the poor.” 

Once something is cemented into place it’s there for a very long time. I agree with the sentence but would have liked a verb that allows a little more wiggle room, some hope down the road.

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By elisalouisa, May 10, 2010 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment

gerard: You are correct about the “historic peace churches.” 
If anyone is an oasis in this wilderness it is you gerard.

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By Sodium-Na, May 10, 2010 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

Re: Night-Guant,May 10 at 7:42 pm.

Quote
======

And please stop degrading each other people!you know who you are.How about some patience and openmindedness on this?do not turn into a fundamentalist who denies all others their point of view.It is a bad habit that develops into fortess between us.Better to be a diplomat than a belligerent warior.A major problem of our world to day.

Unquote
========

How lovely if it can be achieved,not only here,but also on all other threads.

Thank you,Night-guant,for trying to maintain a level of sobreity. Most appreciated.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 10, 2010 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

Somebody mentioned loving Gore Vidal and Chris Hedges.  Well, both are intellectually sloppy and prone to making wild inferences, but at least Mr. Veedle writes with real pizazz, while Hedges doesn’t.

Leefeller, you are like an oasis amidst all these pompous arguments.  Clearly the smartest bear in THIS zoo!

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By gerard, May 10, 2010 at 7:40 pm Link to this comment

Just a note on the “historic peace churches” so-called, as a positive alternative.  They are all uniformly self-effacing and reluctant to advertise. Most of them are not very evangelical. Some of them are non-deist. Most of them put strong emphasis on non-violence and promote very active social projects based on indigenous initiatives. 

Google:  Society of Friends, or Quaker.org, or Fellowship of Reconciliation, or American Friends Service Committee, or British Friends Service Committee, or Friends Committee on National Legislation, or United Nations Quaker Center. or Mennonite Service Committee.  You will find something worthwhile going on somewhere in the world where you can be of help.

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By Leefeller, May 10, 2010 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment

I think a bowling ball dropped on my foot would be a pleasant relief from Nietzsche, though Randy Newman was less dramatic.

Let me make it perfectly clear clear, I do not dislike Nietzsche.  At one time I even had on my living room wall, a little known enlarged photo of Nietzsche! walking his pet hamster. 

In fact my devated devotion of Nietzsche! used to be much like some others here on TD, and at one time I even had the Nietzsche rosary with beads, though I never counted hale Nietzsches.

In the end maybe, I just like saying Nietzsche!

Back to my home work assignment!

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By Lesley Palmer, May 10, 2010 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a great article.  But, what of the social justice movement in the Catholic church?  I know that the “official” church hated it, but wasn’t it what we want as a counter-weight to consumer religion, a robust religious movement to feed, clothe, and advocate for the poor?  Where will our next great social movements come from?

I was a Lutheran for years, but have not attended for about 5 years.  I couldn’t take the self-righteousness, the insularity, the smugness, even with the security of being part of a “community of faith”. It saddens me, but there is no turning back.

I agree with the characterization of the Christian evangelicals.  This is a very warlike, Ayn Randian and fantastical Christian mythology.  It’s all about me in the evangelical world.  They do their perfunctory “outreach”, but far more resources and wealth are poured into church-run schools, camps, bookstores, seminars, Christian entertainment, and small groups for their needy self-centered members. Even the guy from Saddleback church can’t get his members to buy into anything other than pushing their nazi-like moral agenda on others.  Environment? Corporate takeovers?  Hell, they’re all going up in the Rapture, so what do they care.

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By rufus, May 10, 2010 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment

Great discription of what ails us. So- now what do we do?

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By ofersince72, May 10, 2010 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

Hey Leefeller, it was a good relief from Niezsche, huh !!

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By Leefeller, May 10, 2010 at 6:29 pm Link to this comment

David Ehrenstein, Thanks for that, I really like Randy Newman, my favorite is “Baby leave your hat on”! I have his CD, his songs do seem to hit the nail on the head!

Now ITW, is Randy Newman a singer or news reporter like Hedges?

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By Andrew, May 10, 2010 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jesus was a pacifist? I thought he never existed.

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By mike112769, May 10, 2010 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

Religion is a fine thing if kept to oneself. It never seems to be a problem until different religions start hating each other.

ALL religions are pretty much the same. I don’t understand why people who claim to be religious are so willing to kill each other in the name of a “God” that is basically exactly like their own.

Some say that the catholic church is being singled out for their child abuse. That is because they have considered themselves to be the standard of morality for millennia. When you make a claim like that, you’d better be prepared to back it up. JMARTENSSON is right. The catholics don’t abuse children at a higher rate, they just get caught more.

As for why a lot of religions are declining; could it be that common sense is taking over? Why should we take the word of some goat farmer from 2,000 years ago so seriously? They were wrong about the Earth being the center of the universe; what else are they wrong about? A person’s relationship to their god of choice is nobody else’s business.

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By robgo2, May 10, 2010 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

I heartily agree with Hedge’s criticisms of organized religion, but he really should lighten up on secularism.  If it were not for the enlightenment and the rise of rationalism, we would undoubtedly still be burning people at the stake.  Rational secularism is nothing more than the rejection of fantastical beliefs of any variety.

But rationalism cannot make people happy.  It can only liberate them from false beliefs.  This does not in itself provide spiritual sustenance, which too often is sought in various forms of self-gratification.  Still, I would prefer true nothingness to false comfort.  I would even argue that accepting nothingness is the way to inner peace and that it also fosters compassion for fellow human beings who face the same stark existential reality.  If that’s the way the universe crumbles, we might as well embrace it.

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By ThaddeusStevens, May 10, 2010 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment

I have to agree with the overall assessment of organized religion. One of the current problems going around different congregations is the fear of putting the beliefs out there on the line for everyone to see. Furthermore, the fear is to offend potential new members so the approach to theology is “wide open”, meaning, we can’t figure out this whole scene so as long as your don’t hold something too outlandish (child prostitution, human sacrifice) then it’s ok with us.

The Unitarian Universalist Association is the worst offender of this-and yet the vast majority of UUA congregations condemn folks who take a clear stand. No one can respect a religion that fails to supply some vertebrae in a world that seems to have the early evolutionary development in short supply.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, May 10, 2010 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment

In the gory glory days of the Spanish Inquisition, it is well known that heretics
were burned at the stake. What is less known, is that these hapless victims,
these nettlesome individuals, were sometimes lifted, half-burned from the
flames and suspended for several hours, then returned, in order to prolong
their agony.

That’s how much the church loved and fostered the concept of the individual.

Today what we call individualism is not individualism at all, since all of our
self-styled ‘mavericks’ still rely on the group to measure and distinguish
themselves. The pursuit of happiness, so vaunted in the American narrative,
more often than not manifests as banal group status seeking and predictable
social signifying. And whenever I hear a politician talking about individualism, I
substitute the term radical self-interest. Try it, everything will make much
more sense.

So naturally when I read Chris Hedges implying that Nietzsche’s Ubermensch is
some kind of age of enlightenment equivalent of Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark, I
just hope for Chris’ sake that he never paid tuition at that seminary school.

Now, it’s been a while since I read my Nietzsche, but I’m also having trouble
remembering the part where he talks about religion saving us from the ignoble
fate of der letzte Mensche. Seems like if anything, religion (even Hedges’ most
generous definition of it) and the last man are meant to be together like a plug
and a socket.

——————————

It’s not, and never has been the job of reason, science, or technology, to “save
us”.  Even so, they’ve gone a damn site further in that nebulous enterprise that
any religion could ever hope to. Reason, science and technology are just tools.
They can be used for good or for ill, but it won’t be their fault either way. Using
these tools doesn’t mean you’re guilty of scientism any more than using a
computer makes you a worshipper of electricity (The Electrolytes?). Believing
that reason and the scientific method are the best tools we’ve come up with so
far to help us apprehend the world doesn’t make you a fanatic. But if you
believed that these were the best tools for apprehending the world despite
clear, overwhelming, and verifiable evidence of something better, THEN you’d
be a fanatic.

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By Andrew, May 10, 2010 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“It makes no difference to me if Jesus existed or
not. There is no historical evidence that he did.”

This is why it’s often better to listen to well
respected historians and scholars than journalists.
Hedges’ claim here cuts against mainstream opinion
within academia. It’s easy to make bold assertions,
but the moral absolutism of Hedges within a “morally
neutral” and godless universe isn’t coherent, nor is
his rejection of pragmatism (i.e., voting for Nader,
which at least Chomsky recognizes as
counterproductive).

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By dissentispatriotic, May 10, 2010 at 5:22 pm Link to this comment

Herk, May 10 at 7:56 pm

Thank you for that insightful comment.

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By ofersince72, May 10, 2010 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

I want to be left with CARLIN and TWAIN

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By Ang, May 10, 2010 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment

Chris, thank you for this incredible piece of writing.  You have hit the nail on the head with every line, the piece is literally stinging with ordinary, unremarkable truth.  Christian values and morality, the real kind, have been systematically undermined, beaten to death and hung on the cross by holier than thou bigots, liars, thieves and thugs.  Sounds awfully familiar.
Amazing writing. Thank you for putting into words what I feel so strongly.

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By nancy44, May 10, 2010 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

I taught for several years in an East Texas high school
where at lunch I said that the Bible works only as
metaphor.  In the ensuing melee where I was assured I’d
go to hell, I had the temerity to suggest that one
should not tolerate intolerance and/or stupidity.  I
almost lost my job.  Boy are you in trouble.

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By Alan MacDonald, May 10, 2010 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment

Don Low, great comments!

Empires change the mechanism by which they oppress and enslave the masses—- advancing from brutal totalitarianism to Sheldon Wolin’s subtle and sophisticated ‘inverted totalitarianism’—- but the machine of Empire “rolls on under the night of the Republic” (as Fitzgerald concluded in Gatsby).

Best,
Alan MacDonald

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By tk, May 10, 2010 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If further proof is needed to confirm Hedges Superman observation and cultural devolution, just listen to the current blend of Hip Hop music on your local top 40 radio station, it’s the most popular music in the country.  The music is stuck on and all about, getting high, getting drunk, laid and rich.

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By Herk, May 10, 2010 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment

Dissentispatriotic wrote:
“The actual man’s name, to whom the label Jesus was
given, was Yeshua of Nazareth”

More likely, “Yeshua bin Yusuf.” Nazareth wasn’t much of a place then. Yes, it is the same as Joshua. But it was also a very common name as well as the name of a historical figure. Since ‘Jesus’ is the Greek form of the name, and most of the NT is written by Greek writers, we mysteriously get Jesus while Joshua is still written as Joshua. Hint: they probably didn’t call him ‘Jesus’ at home.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 10, 2010 at 3:42 pm Link to this comment

Not heaven just within the brain where a constellation of lights flicker between neurons billions every microsecond. Maybe that is where the halo came from or just a visual error where it only looks like light sources have halos. A symbolic feature of many forms of beliefs. A symbol of power, of having the divine’s power within one as I understand it.

Suffice it to say there are many other ways of looking at the world from many perspectives. It is most illuminating to do so. Even from those I am diametrically opposed to. What better way to gain other perspectives on how things could be and can be?

It would be very healthy for more people to do so. Imagine taking an opposite point-of-view and defending it? I had to find that one out on my own. Another useful form of mental exercise.

And please stop degrading each other people! You know who you are. How about some patience and open mindedness on this? Don’t turn into a fundamentalist who denies all others their point of view. It is a bad habit that develops into a fortress between us. Better to be a diplomat than a belligerent warrior. A major problem of our world today.

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By Shenonymous, May 10, 2010 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment

I think Truthdig has a plethora of question marks around
they just don’t know what to do with!

I don’t know where those came from?  From heaven?
Isn’t that where all question marks come from?

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By Shenonymous, May 10, 2010 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

PrematureFactulation - Probably in the future,
David Byrne’s The Knee Plays aside, one’s ancestry
and other nefarious and miscellanea will be on a DNA chip
or microdot implant of some sort.

Knee Play 4
Social Studies

I thought that if I ate the food of the area I was visiting
?That I might assimilate the point of view of the people there ?
As if the point of view was somehow in the food
?So I would make no choices myself regarding what food I ate
?I would simply follow the examples, of those around me

Is that a metaphor about adopting other people’s point of view? Ala
Chris Hedges, or Christopher Hitchens?  Does it matter that one does
not think for themselves?

Yes, the Spaniard, Unamuno was an amazing thinker…and poet and
playwright.  A socialist but one that was truly sympathetic for the
people and not one simply to elevate his political ideology.  With
socialists like him, his “religion” was to seek for truth in life and for
life in truth,
even knowing that [he] should not find them while he
lived.  His individualism is counterfactual to the fanatical socialism that
is being huckstered these days, and is one that I could embrace in
fusion with a non-socialist perspective.  I am not really intending to get
into a discussion of which politicoeconomic system is best.  But better
that… cuando no tengo nada que hacer pienso en la inmortalidad del
cangrejo
  As in the words of Miguel de Unamuno,
The immortality of the crab
The deepest problem:?
of the immortality of the crab,
?is that a soul it has,
?a little soul in fact ...

That if the crab dies?
entirely in its totality
?with it we all die
?for all of eternity

Speaking of Unamuno you might find this a lovely diversion.
“God is dreaming you”: Narrative as Imitatio Dei in Miguel de Unamuno
by Costica Bradatan at
http://www.janushead.org/7-2/Bradatan.pdf

You see… we do not have to be stuck with Kant or Nietzsche.

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By PrematureFactulation, May 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

Excellent point, Shenonymous. When one reads the writings of thinkers from the
past, time has winnowed the selection. Not all of the nonsense has been
eliminated, of course, but your chances of finding something worth reading are
improved! I agree that John Rawls has some compelling arguments, and Miguel de
Unamuno is worth reading as well. Most of us will vanish without a trace, and in
200 years our descendants will be trying to figure out who we were on
Ancestry.com. The same fate will (rightly) meet 99.99% of the books and articles we are currently producing.

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By Brainlego, May 10, 2010 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

“And the death of religious institutions will only cement into place the new secular religion of the Last Man, the one that worships military power, personal advancement, hedonism and greed, the one that justifies our ruthless callousness toward the weak and the poor. “
Ridiculous. If I can reject all religions I can reject other ideas as well, even more easily since they are not taught as dogma. And I do not seek to replace religion with something else to worship. And I did not stop caring about the well being of other humans when I left religion behind, it’s actually one of the reasons I left religion altogether…I find the view on humans in religion to be, well, bleak.

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By Leefeller, May 10, 2010 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

My take on this PrematureFactulation is very quick and simple.  Hedges knew there were more than one Nietzsche zealot on Truth Dig and name dropping had everything to do with it, what more could one ask for?  My opinion!

Hedges weekly sermons are usually entertaining in the posts, this is no exception!

Must admit I was disappointed, from the first part of Hedges commentary for it did not go where I thought it was heading; silly me; I thought Hedges was going to announce his becomeing an athiest and embrace Christopher Hitchens!

Guess morel interpitations sponsered by Nietzsche may be a place to start, so would someone start already!

Ozark Michel (a poster here on TD)  mentioned in TD pasts, the concept of “universal morality” I teased him quite heavly on this, I apologize to Ozark, in that he should be here to defend the concept, for I took issue with it. Let’s go there?

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By Quiet Observer, May 10, 2010 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The ironic thing about 80% or greater (if not 100%) of the comments on this article, is they are pseudo-intellectually debating the article and the author, but not one apparently contained an iota of introspection.

If nothing else, this actually bears out the message in Chris Hedge’s article more than anything else! 

It’s actually funny.  In your pseudo-intellectual malaise, you prove Chris’ very point!  I think it is kind of brilliant how Chris wrote the article and did so in such a manner that the evidence supporting the article would be so assuredly contributed by the articles’ readers who think that just because they have an opinion, that that opinion is of any import!

:D

Thank you Chris for brightening my day, not on the subject matter, but for the little chuckle of irony your readers who cared to comment produced.

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By Shenonymous, May 10, 2010 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment

“Where are the Kants and Nietzsches now? ”  You won’t
see them except in retrospect.  There are too many voices at
the moment to separate excellence in thinking from the
conceited. Once the cacophony settles down, the best minds
will be excavated.  Try John Rawls in the meantime.

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By Amon Drool, May 10, 2010 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

stephen colbert show…topic under discussion: belief in god

guest: “Well, I’m an agnostic when it comes to this matter.”

colbert: “Come on now…isn’t an agnostic only an atheist without balls?”

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By ShallSetUFree, May 10, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

“Funny how this comment section devolved into s series of unrelated comments between individual egos.  The obvious problem with our age, is their no authority except the individual. Religion has no authority, Let alone the Papists.  Politics has no authority because there is polis.  Economics has no authority because it is corrupt.  And to hang our authority on individuals only indicates that the dissolution is near.”

Why does it have to be a dissolution? Just a call for a new “authority” is what I see. And the only people afraid are the ones privileged by the OLD “authority”.

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By spenserhoover, May 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Seems to me Bob Dylan (before he became a born-again) had a couple of interesting takes on the crumbling of morality in the face of corporate fascism:

“[They make] everything from toys guns that spark, 
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark.
It’s easy to see without lookin too far
Not much is really sacred.”
(from “It’s Alright, Ma”)

“God says to Abraham, ‘kill me a son.’
Abe says ‘come on God, you must be puttin me on.’
God says ‘Abe,’ Abe says ‘what?’
Gods says ‘You can do what you want, Abe,
But the next time you see me comin you’d better run.’
Abe says ‘Where do you want this killin done?’
God says ‘Out on Highway 61.’”
(from “Highway 61 Revisited.”)

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By rbloom, May 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

Sartre, anyone?

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By REDHORSE, May 10, 2010 at 1:23 pm Link to this comment

Again—pardon my typo’s.


  Last thought(promise)!! I believe Mr. Hedges lament is important. All great leaders have tried to explain that when we cross those moral boundaries which define our humanity we enter a no-mans-land of terrible consequence. Those who we’ve trusted to help us define our humanity and help us establish a true moral highground have betrayed us for profit.

  Can a conscious individual in league with other conscious individuals face apocalypse and create a new vision of the future that doesn’t include the firestorm (codeword:rapture)?

    “—-watchout now-take care beware of—freaky leaders—that take you where you should not go—beware of darkness—”

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By ShallSetUFree, May 10, 2010 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

We’re only “stuck” as long as we attempt to thrive on binary thinking.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 10, 2010 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

To say “We’re Stuck With Nietzsche” is a ridiculous absurdity. Our destiny or fate resides in a 19th century ex-patriot Prussian who claimed to be from Polish nobility?
You have to admire Chris Hedges: he really knows how to shovel.

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By marcus medler, May 10, 2010 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

Another needed “sermon” from Chris Hedges,
but I hope he follows it up with where he finds
a new moral and ethical center forming. I
suggest he look to what many outside of the
U.S. are doing with the environmental
movement.(recent event in Bolivia)

I would argue that as indigenous people
awaken the western(Judea/Christian) peoples to
mother earth and the MORAL responsibility to
its care and renewal they are becoming the
guardians of the ethical and spiritual center
man needs.

Institutional Christianity may turn out to simply
be an aberration a detour from man kinds
ethical and spiritual wisdom as preserved by
“native” minorities.

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By Bboy56, May 10, 2010 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges. I no more needed to get past your first sentance to reveale your half truths on the subject.

The essence of all religion and revealed truth, is that there is one.

It has nothing to do with magic made up smoke and mirrors.

It has much to do with the mysterious, because from this human existance, we only can be in awe of the true power that has allways been, is now, and ever shall allways be.

In spite of skeptical and hostile persons to this present body’s (TESTIMONY TO TRUTH) devine mystery ,reality and providence. God came and dwelt among us who were not able to return of our own accord because of the irreparable rift between The creator and the created by/of our own making.

This mystery let the wise recon (understand) the number of the beast. 

But the human mind can encompas the trinitarian mystery about as much as it can attempt to move an ocean from it’s place to somewhere of it’s own creation. This is a serious humanist fraud, to defame the light of truth revealed in the body present.

It is in fact the age old battle present. Truth/vs. lies, murder and individuals seduction of power.

I give you one guess which has and will once again prevail.

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By REDHORSE, May 10, 2010 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment

I attend TRUTHDIG because of C.Hedges and G.Vidal. I know I rant a little sometimes but I do enjoy the your posts and comments.

    The light that surrounds the heads of Saints in portraits is an attempt to depict consciousness. It isn’t the result of good hair care. Consciousness is the greatest foe of evil. You need only look at the fear of consciousness held by tyrants and any corrupt church to understand this. Gee—look at the millions going into a “creationist museum” in Kentucky. I agree with Mr.Hedges that this modern age of little pink angels and crystals gazers offers us nothing and is less than superstition.

    God is. The personal experience is offered to each of us. Like Mr.Hedges it doesn’t matter to me if a real historical Jesus existed or not. There was somehow a shift in consciousness that offered mankind a transformative experience in both the spiritual and material worlds. J.Campbell felt Christ true message was “pure Buddhism”.

    I don’t like being profligate. At least I’m smart enough to know I am. I believe the experience is offered and sometimes there is a terrible beauty present in my life that demands change, reorder and growth. It’s a slow painfull process but at moments indescribable joy. A little light seems to destroy a great deal of darkness. Oh well—-you know—-after all—-it’s only rockn’roll—but I like it.

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By David Ehrenstein, May 10, 2010 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

Athiesm is NOT a religion. It worships NOTHING. The childish insistence on those mentally feeble souls who declare we all must pay fealty to the Big Invisible Bi-Pola Daddy who Lives in The Sky is PROJECTILE-VOMIT-PROVOKING!


ENOUGH!!!!!!!!

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By ezdidit, May 10, 2010 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You’re half-way home, Chris. Unfortunately, you retain the very worst orientation of religion’s first article: faith. Faith is absurd.

Pray all you want. Pray all day! Pray for your own moral compass. But, please, stop playing mind games with faith. Pray for release from the irrational bonds of faith.

And, always, serve someone else besides yourself.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 10, 2010 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

Atheism is a religion. It does not worship god or gods, just dogmatic belief that there is no metaphysical dimension to existence. Commune115 is correct in pointing out that atheist advocates such as Hitchens and Maher embrace violence as a solution. An agnostic is humble enough to admit not knowing. An atheist simply KNOWS there is nothing else.

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By swain, May 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

FINDING GOD IS LIFES GREAT ADVENTURE—THE UNIVERSE SWIMS WITH
GODS THEY LIVE AND DIE AND RAISE US UP AND STRIKE US LOW BUT THEY
GIVE US PRECIOUS LIFE.

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By dcrimso, May 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Funny how this comment section devolved into s series of unrelated comments between individual egos.  The obvious problem with our age, is their no authority except the individual. Religion has no authority, Let alone the Papists.  Politics has no authority because there is polis.  Economics has no authority because it is corrupt.  And to hang our authority on individuals only indicates that the dissolution is near.

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By PrematureFactulation, May 10, 2010 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, you may well have some important insights, but it is impossible to see through your sarcasm and put-downs to apprehend them. I really would like to hear your point of view, but without the rhetorical thuggery.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 10, 2010 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Actually Lee Fella you took it the wrong way. I wanted you to actually do something to take it in a another direction instead of complaining about it. But then that will take a bit more work. Go for it!

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