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The False Idol of Unfettered Capitalism

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Posted on Mar 16, 2009
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

By Chris Hedges

(Page 3)

The strange, disjointed fragments of our lives can be comprehended only when we acknowledge our insecurities and uncertainties, when we accept that we will never know what life is about or what it is supposed to mean. We must do the best we can, not for ourselves, the great moralists remind us, but for those around us. Trust is the compound that unites us. The only lasting happiness in life comes with giving life to others. The quality of our life, of all life, is determined by what we give and how much we sacrifice. We live not by exalting our own life but by being willing to lose it. 

The moral life, in the end, will not protect us from evil. The moral life protects us, however, from committing evil. It is designed to check our darker impulses, warning us that pandering to impulses can have terrible consequences. It seeks to hold community together. It is community that gives our lives, even in pain and grief, a healing solidarity. It is fealty to community that frees us from the dictates of our idols, idols that promise us fulfillment through self-gratification. These moral laws are about freedom. They call us to reject and defy powerful forces that rule our lives and to live instead for others, even if this costs us status and prestige and wealth.

Turn away from the moral life and you end in disaster. You sink into a morass of self-absorption and greed. You breed a society that celebrates fraud, theft and violence, you turn neighbor against neighbor, you confuse presentation and image with your soul. Moral rules are as imperative to sustaining a community as law. And all cultures have sought to remind us of these basic moral restraints, ones that invariably tell us that successful communities do permit its members to exploit each other but ensure that they sacrifice for the common good. The economic and social collapse we face was presaged by a moral collapse. And our response must include a renewed reverence for moral and social imperatives that acknowledge the sanctity of the common good.

The German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “Tell me ‘how’ you seek and I will tell you ‘what’ you are seeking.” We all are seekers, even if we do not always know what we are looking to find. We are all seekers, even if we do not always know how to frame the questions. In those questions, even more than the answers, we find hope in the strange and contradictory fragments of our lives. And it is by recovering these moral questions, too often dismissed or ignored in universities and boardrooms across the country, laughed at on the stock exchange, ridiculed on reality television as an impediment to money and celebrity, that we will again find it possible to be whole. 

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By damedog, February 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm Link to this comment

Thank you for all you have done for the world Chris. We in the U.S, especially the current teen generation which I am a part of, suffers horribly from moral decay. It is good to see someone finally addressing this, I felt like I was the only one who believed it.

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By Alan MacDonald, March 28, 2009 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment

Chris, with your backing in theology you should address the issue of Jesus and Empire a la Richard Horsley’s ‘framing’ that Jesus was very anti-empire.

If you haven’t already, read George Lakoff’s “The Political Mind”, and work on the ‘framing’ for a ‘cognitive policy’ (Chap 10) that would bring the conservative evangelical crowd over to the metaphor that Jesus was sent to free us from empire (which I think is not too far from reality, or their beliefs) and that as such they should be motivated to confront the ruling-elite ‘corporate financial Empire’ that currently controls the US, and vote strongly in that direction as progressives.

You, more so than any author I can think of, could potentially use your grasp of religion and politics to reverse the kind of radical right-wing conservative propaganda that Thomas Frank wrote about in “What’s the Matter with Kansas” and get a vast portion of religiously focused ‘red staters’ to start voting FOR their own economic AND religious interests—- by voting and acting against the economic empire which is distorting the real message of Jesus to fool them into voting for the elitist empire that is now enslaving and screwing them.

Chris, maybe you could also partner with NewsWeek’s editor, Jon Meacham, fi you know and respect his viewpoints on such a project.

Sincerely,
Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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By Inherit The Wind, March 24, 2009 at 9:56 pm Link to this comment

TAO Walker, March 24 at 4:46 pm #

While this probably won’t make much sense to Inherit The Wind either, his own generous words have “earned” him the following “datum.”  It isn’t really important whether anyone can “understand” the admittedly “strange” verbal arrangements of English this Old Man offers here.  Let’s face it, there comes a time (and this is it) when mere understanding gets to be a superfluous luxury-item we can’t actually afford anymore.

Simply making the effort to “read-through” this Person’s “drummings” here, however counter-intuitive that might seem, is plenty good enough for now.  So thank you for some of your precious attention….the “basic service” which, with our respect, is all we need “pay” for admission to the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth and the Song ‘n’ Dance of Life Herownself.

HokaHey!

HokaHey!

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

“Thanx and a hat tip to” Tao Walker!

(are you old enough to remember what THIS is from?)

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By TAO Walker, March 24, 2009 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

While this probably won’t make much sense to Inherit The Wind either, his own generous words have “earned” him the following “datum.”  It isn’t really important whether anyone can “understand” the admittedly “strange” verbal arrangements of English this Old Man offers here.  Let’s face it, there comes a time (and this is it) when mere understanding gets to be a superfluous luxury-item we can’t actually afford anymore.

Simply making the effort to “read-through” this Person’s “drummings” here, however counter-intuitive that might seem, is plenty good enough for now.  So thank you for some of your precious attention….the “basic service” which, with our respect, is all we need “pay” for admission to the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth and the Song ‘n’ Dance of Life Herownself.

HokaHey!

HokaHey!

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By Inherit The Wind, March 23, 2009 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment

Tao,
After Dwightbaker’s increasing vomitus, I find your confusing way of writing very refreshing!

(even if I still don’t understand a d*** word of it! smile )

BTW, I still think you do yourself a disservice referring to yourself as “this old savage”.

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By TAO Walker, March 23, 2009 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment

DWIGHTBAKER asks questions (except for the one about Frank Thomas, who offered a sensible “comment” a few entries below this one) which are based on assumptions fundamentally at-odds with actuality.  This old Indian doesn’t have a “web-site,” for example.  “Sacred Conversations” is the work of a Person who evidently finds occasionally in the offerings here of Yours Truly something worth repeating. 

Our People belong to Native NATIONS.  The “tribe” is a CONceit of “civilized” peoples who, CONtrary to their professed beliefs, coveted our Country and were quite willing to commit murder and mayhem upon us to occupy it.  It apparently eased their collective and “individual” consciences to make us out to be somehow less “human” then their “selfs.”

We do have Ceremonies for engaging effectively, as Persons and as Peoples, the Living Ground of our Being.  What some call the “Vision Quest” is among these, though it’s hardly limited in its benefits to only those of a “rite-of-passage.”

That DWIGHTBAKER (and maybe others here) has difficulty understanding this old Savage’s Way of stringing-together English words, could be due in-part to their not having done the Ceremony of Losing-One’s-“self.”  After all, the “I” cannot see The Eye.

Besides that, of course, the conceptual limits of English (not to mention the overweening CONceit of the English and their american heirs) render it less than ideal for expressing anything not “linear” in its fundamental assumptions.  The thing is, few using this “medium” would even have a “clue” if this was written in Ojibwa, f’r instance….which it could be.

So we’re stuck for now with the language we’ve got more-or-less in-common.  Anyhow, even if they’re used and arranged in “unusual” ways, the English words themselves are not all that un-common, and should be accessible to most people at-all fluent in that “tongue.”

DWIGHTBAKER’s interest, however misinformed, is nevertheless appreciated.

Hokahey!

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By TAO Walker, March 23, 2009 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment

Frank Thomas below gets right to The Heart of what’s “the matter.”  Our tormentors and their two-legged tools, being abjectly subject to it theirownselfs, have only one imperative:  “By their fear-of-death we shall rule them.”

So they set-up a now “global” CONtraption for the sole purpose of inducing, in Humans not theretofore naturally susceptible to it, that crippling misCONception that is the absolute “monarch” of their own diminishing half-lives….a misery-loving company of damned fools.  “Individuals” are of course real suckers for the death-cult sales-pitch. 

The Living Human Communities our Lakotah Cousins call Tiyoshpayes enjoy a Natural Immunity to this air-raid-siren invitation to despair….with its accompanying promises of “....pie in the sky when you die.”  Tame Sisters and Brothers, you have nothing to lose but the chains that bind you to the “thing” that is eating you alive.

Hokahey!

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By Inherit The Wind, March 23, 2009 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

DWIGHTBAKER, March 23 at 2:59 pm #

REPLY to the self-declared Illuminating Numinous Magical Mystic

I thought you might have been a little less inane than some of the others but your words have reveled you are not nearly illuminating in common sense and reason as you think you are for sure, and after re-reading you most psychosis post and I will not stoop so low to even respond—————because in my estimation you either want to fight or run away for you have nothing to say that would even interest me in revealing anymore of your lacks found in respect for others comments in the forum provided by TRUTHDIG for discussion.

DWIGHT BAKER
WE THE PEOPLES LOBBY [now advocacy] WTPA
Bondservants of Christ Jesus Ministries
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Nicely put.

You realized that you were in a hole you couldn’t get out of so it was best to stop digging and try to escape with at least one shred of your dignity intact.

I give you credit for that, at least, if for nothing else.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 23, 2009 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

DWIGHTBAKER, March 23 at 7:25 am #

AKA Mr. Ms or It Inherit the Wind,

You are wrong because you have not a clue what you are talking about because your rage filled words tells all—- that you are not one of the family of God.  And that makes your voice nullified by your own words.

You have not the faintest clue what the Apostle Paul was getting at in your seemed knowledge of the Biblical text.  How could you because you are NOT in the family of God?
********************************************

Uh-Huh….so, if one needs to be a believer to “understand”, and if one is not a believer than one cannot understand.

This then raises the obvious question: WTF are you doing here if not to simply blow up the thread?

How can I believe if I don’t first understand, but I can’t understand because I don’t believe.  That’s called a Catch-22, or, more formally, a tautology.

That also implies that YOU or I cannot condemn homosexuality if we are not homosexual because we can’t understand it, not being one.

Even sillier: Unless you or I are a murderer or a rapist, we cannot understand murder or rape.

Who in their right mind would believe either of these two implications?  Yet that is the logic of the argument you make.

So…Why are you here if not simply to disrupt the thread?

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By Inherit The Wind, March 23, 2009 at 4:07 am Link to this comment

Dwightbaker,
Congratulations. You have destroyed this thread with your endless religious rants based on inaccurate knowledge.

A few corrections to show that you don’t know what you are talking about.  There aren’t 10 Commandments followed by 613 laws of Leviticus.  There are 613 laws and the 10 Commandments are the first 10. They have been misinterpreted and miscounted since, in the Torah, they are not numbered.  Jews, Catholics and Protestants all divide them up differently.  Many of the 613 make no sense—if you suspect your wife of infidelity force her to eat dirt and if she dies and her belly swells with rot, she was unfaithful. If she dies and her belly doesn’t swell with rot, she was faithful.

But with Paul’s message to the Greeks, ALL the laws passed down, INCLUDING the 10 Commandments were put aside because he argued that all that was needed was faith in Jesus. (That’s because the Greeks didn’t want to be circumcised, as Jews have been since Abraham).

In other words, Paul said the ends justify the means—the ends being Faith, the means being throwing out 1200 years of the Law of Moses—of which, according to all accounts, Jesus was adherent to, but teaching mercy as well.

Funny thing: I’m not a biblical scholar or a Talmudic scholar or even an adherent, yet clearly I know more about this than you.

Why do fanatic religious preachers never understand that they can not reach logical, rational people because their arguments don’t make logical and rational sense?

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By Frank Thomas, March 22, 2009 at 10:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Having recently finished “Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker and “Staring at the Sun” (overcoming the terror of death) by Ivan D. Yalom it was an incredible happy surprise to read this from the story:

“It is the unmentioned fear of death, the one that rattles with the wind through the heavy branches of the trees outside, which frightens us the most, even as we do not name this fear. It is death we are trying to flee. The smallness of our lives, the transitory nature of existence, the inevitable road to old age, are what the idols of power, celebrity and wealth tell us we can escape. They are tempting and seductive. They assure us that we need not endure the pain and suffering of being human. We follow the idol and barter away our freedom. We place our identity and our hopes in the hands of the idol. We need the idol to define ourselves, to determine our status and place. We invest in the idol. We sell ourselves into bondage.”

Brilliant!  Thank you.

Connectu in Covina

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By Jeseppi Trade Wildfeather, March 22, 2009 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just published a brief post on Open Salon entitled:

The Ten Commandments, God and Human Emotions

“Have you ever wondered about the Ten Commandments and why they are considered the moral law of God? It is a simple concept, really.

I have an idea and will explain it to you briefly:

The Ten Commandments can be viewed as representing ten different emotions in human beings which contrast with the nature, person, attitude, disposition and character of the God of Israel expressed to them through Moses. They were given to clarify a point . The Fruits of the Spirit are what God is about; love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, meekness, faith and self-control. The feelings attached to these indicate a heavenly state of being.

I am assuming everyone knows the commandments so I will refrain from repeating them. In contrast to God’s divine love based nature human beings dishonor parents, for example, commit adultery, enter into what is defiled and unclean, lust, kill, covet, and think they must work 24/7 in order to succeed. There is a sneaky hidden feeling of stealing or embezzling. There are those who love to lie about others especially if there is gain in it; a treachery of sorts. Many feel quite pompous when they blurt out, “God ___ this and Christ that” more so in a vulgar manner. You see, each of these acts have a heart centered emotion which has nothing to do with God, at least, not Yahweh God. But where exactly is the heart or soul? Lost? How do you feel when you think to yourself, “I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what she thinks!!” Or, “Look at that stupid idiot, he almost ran over that poor old man.” Criticism is an ungodly emotion; just judgment is.

These feelings have much to do with the gods many people worship. ... ...” Read on at: http://open.salon.com/blog/jeseppi_trade_wildfeather/2009/03/10/the_ten_commandments_and_human_emotions

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By Natascha, March 22, 2009 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you, Chris Hedges, for this profoundly moving, wise, poetic article.  As always, your writing is full of truth, beauty, and goodness.

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By Leefeller, March 21, 2009 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

You know, Hedges may be onto something regarding the unfettered part, though not just capitalism. We may be watching the demise of capitalism as they have known it, for the bickering does seem to be coming from many different lofty ivory towers. Maybe the unfettering will include looking at tax free loopholes from those lofty bell towers.

False Idols? All the time I have been here, I thought Hedges title was “False Idiots”. Now, his article makes more sense. “The False Idol of Unfettered Capitalism”.
Those darn speed reading classes have been such a pain.
Now I understand where the preaching fits in, has anyone tried standing on a soap box lately, they just do not make them like they used to.

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By Jaded Prole, March 21, 2009 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment

I don’t hate you DB, I hate that you insist on preaching the same old fundamentalist garbage to us in capitals and thinking we’re evil if we don’t buy into it. It’s a narrow minded approach that leads to nothing good. As for me; I’m an unemployed blue collar type who believes that all of us together can create a more democratic, socially just society if we wrench it away from the greed-heads that are destroying the planet. We can’t do that with religious impediments because we are too diverse but one thing we all have in common is our class experience. Without the working class, there can be no “unified front” and without a class conscious you can’t possibly understand who the “bad guys” are or why they do what they do.  As a poet, I use my limited talents to inspire and educate and I’ve yet to make any money at it, nor is it the goal.  Institutional religion has always operated in the interest of the ruling class. Liberation theology is an exception which is why it is condemned by church officialdom. In stead of being defensive and insisting that you hold some great singular truth, try a little humility. We all have much to learn and reality is more complex than any mythology we can projection on it.

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By Jaded Prole, March 21, 2009 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

Sounds reasonable to me.
What DM illustrates in his most recent tirade is a real problem with fundamentalism no matter how well intended. His call for a cohesive, “moral based communed American society” really excludes those who refuse to buy his brand of mystical dogma— “the many vile and evil people.” It is a basic tenet of Christianity that Christians have a duty to “spread the gospel” and “save the souls” of others and they see this as a benevolent and necessary duty, thus the lengthy preaching here meant to bring us the “ONE TRUTH.” The rational among us realize not only that there isn’t one truth but that it is intolerant and unacceptable to force ones dogma on others.

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By Leefeller, March 21, 2009 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

Dogma, is an inflexible principal and is so necessary in preaching. Incomplete feelings, a individual feeling of being lost or alone, ready desire to seek an authority to explain the unexplainable can be intrinsically built in for some.   

Indoctrinations of agendas become brain washing and accepted through dogmas by preaching, the world is flat, the moon goes around the sun, etc.  Preaching as similar to lies requires constant repetition. So the stories become truths in the mind of a prisoner or the vulnerable of mind. This works well and always has, the main requirement is inherent absence of reason.

If reason is in the room, dogma has little chance of survival, inflexible absolutism’s cannot survive over reason.  Is this an inflexible absolutism?

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By Kesey Seven, March 20, 2009 at 9:11 pm Link to this comment

Chris,

Let’s talk about God. I’m into God in the deist sense, the way Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein thought about God.

Here’s my favorite story:  Lightning rod. Franklin knew of holy men sending boys up to ring the church bells during thunderstorms to let God know the church was a holy place. The boys died by the droves.  Franklin seeing this result tried a different tact: he invented the lightning rod, which is to say God is the universe and its laws. 

Einstein often referred to God. But he did not believe in an afterlife, he did not believe in heaven or hell.  Whether he was contemplating the speed of light or the behavior of molecules, Einstein was contemplating God. 

And that’s cool because it does not necessarily contradict anything you said in your article above; it merely means we have to expand the Ten Commandments to include the laws of the universe.

For example:

You shall not destroy your ecosystem. 

Your economic system shall not impoverish the earth’s people and plunder its resources.

And maybe we drop a few along the way. The stuff about taking the Lord’s name in vain – we can probably let that slide. The stuff about coveting your neighbor’s man servant, maiden servant, donkey, wife—we can probably let that one slide too seeing as how this whole ownership of property thing is leading us to destroy the world and once again violate the supreme law the universe: Don’t destroy your ecosystem. 

Sigh.

Next commandment:  You shall not bastardize science down to your own stupidity, ala,  “Survival of the fittest.”  Darwin wrote about species, the best adapted species. Morons created social Darwinism to justify “survival of the fittest,” which is to say the attacking, impoverishing and mass killing of their own species.

Some John Cleese here: 

Apes don’t read philosophy.

Yes they do, Otto! They just don’t understand it. 

In short we will all live or we will all die.  And the ecosystem or physics in the form of an asteroid or a comet is much more likely to do it than we are.  Sure, we might kill off a few billion or so with a nuclear war. But what’s really likely to wipe us out is the universe itself.  The way we’re going now we got about five thousand, maybe ten thousand years left.  But it sure would be nice to have our species around for, say, another two hundred million years. 

But to do that, we, as a species, must work to survive as a species. Sounds silly doesn’t it? Yes. 

But it’s true. We will all live or we will all die. None of us is any more fit than the rest when it comes to the universe plowing an asteroid into the Pacific Ocean. So, we might be better off spending our resources on working as a species to prevent that particular catastrophe. 

As for an economic system that works, one that keeps all people as a whole, one that ensures everyone prospers or everyone suffers, well there is a precedent that too. It was the system non-system of the American Indians.

I know, I know, we killed them all.  But take a look: They were actively living in North America for five thousand years, and it’s arguable they had been in these parts for over twenty thousand years. What did we find when got here? Paradise.

What have we done the last six hundred years?  Think pig excrement bubbling in our streams.

So, yes, the Indians were godless savages who were easily destroyed by our pestilence and guns.  But in my mind, they were living much closer to god than we are now. 

So, I take it all back, we can probably just chuck all of the original ten commandments and just start of over with the Edicts of the Universe, starting with:

All human systems shall be in accordance with the laws of the universe.

Cool?  And watch out for them American Fascists, Chris, I hear they’re a sanctimonious and violent bunch.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 20, 2009 at 8:26 pm Link to this comment

Now for those espouse there is NO GOD then why do you defend your position with such fervor? 
****************************************************

Why do YOU defend YOUR position with such fervor and SO MUCH PEDANTRY????

4 max length posts followed by a few more…did anyone actually READ any of them?  Not me!  I skimmed them and realized it was a primal vomiting and did not want to be spattered with vomitus.

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By VillageElder, March 20, 2009 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

History is found the the physical remnants of prior civilizations and people; in many cases these remnants include writing history occurring in the stone age, Sumeria.  Mythologies exist to explain the world to the members of the cultus attached to the myths.

DB some suggested reading:

The Golden Bough by George Frazier – the abridged edition will suffice.

Joseph Campbell’s four part work on Mythologies

The legend of Gilgamesh

Try reading histories that are not designed to bolster the prejudices you have for your holy book of myth, fable and legend.

Your rants have illustrated by remarks better than I could have done.  Thank you.  Chris Hedges wrote an interesting book,  American Fascists.

None of us would deny you the right to living according to the arrangement of superstitions you find comforting. By the same token as a group we are objectively and rationally oriented, the world of signs, wonders, magic and miracles from the stone and bronze age find little credence among us.

A few of us may proselytize for an atheist point of view with the idea of conversion, but this is far from the norm.  Mostly we simply don’t want a theocracy.

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By Leefeller, March 20, 2009 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Oh Jebith, we get the 10 commandmenths tothed at us by Hedgeith and now the rest of the far fetched thories from thop box Tham.  Where iith Trichinosiih when you need him?

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By Jaded Prole, March 20, 2009 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

Really DB, most of us don’t care about your mumbo-jumbo. You have the right to any beliefs you choose but maybe you should preach somewhere else. Some of us prefer rational issue-oriented matter.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 20, 2009 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

Now for those espouse there is NO GOD then why do you defend your position with such fervor? 
**************************************************

Because down the generations I still “feel” the pain Crusaders’ destruction of towns and the rape and murder of the people by men charged in their “holy duty” by “God”, of Tomas de Torquemada’s tortures and flames, and the stones laid on Giles Corey’s chest, the ropes around the accused witches’ necks in Salem, by the stones killing a young woman in Afghanistan for “adultery” today…THAT is why!

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”—Voltaire.

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By tp, March 20, 2009 at 10:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Delphine:
“As for reading the Bible, I concluded long ago that reading the Bible for guidance or comfort is a good way to make someone go truly and completely nuts…...”
aman
tp

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By Leefeller, March 20, 2009 at 10:24 am Link to this comment

delphine,

There may be atheists who feel the need to evangelize believers to become non believers to convert and demand people not believe.  I have not seen their churches, temples or synagogues or other religious establishments.

Some try to say the Communists were a formal group of atheists, I could agree that is so. What is troubling in your attempt to pigeon hole both sides, I suggest neither side is back and white.

Again, non belief is just what it is, no more no less. We may agree people should be free to believe as they want or not and keep it to themselves, but reason does not always find its way to reality.

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By Leefeller, March 20, 2009 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

Suggested exclusion is the work of religion not others. So TD posters need training on clearing the air of delusional remarks.

Fe Fi Fo Fum, I smell Fiddle FAddle doing his home work again or another fishing for responses.

If people do not want a sales pitch, why is it the problem of the receiver? Similarities of religious zealots, just like the annoying phone calls forcing us to listen to a hard sell program on why we need extended life insurance,  another con.

Where does the money fit in, after we are dragged in the door of a religious establishment or do we just send it to the soap Box?

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By delphine, March 20, 2009 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

LF: Be an atheist, be a true believer…... my point was that both groups show an inability to be open to new information should it come along that would alter their convictions. That, in my opinion, is a danger. However, ultimately all that matters is how people live their lives which is the point of Hedges article, I think. It’s been my personal experience that the most trustworthy, caring and responsible people have tended to belong to neither the true believer camp nor the atheist camp. That’s been my experience. As for reading the Bible, I concluded long ago that reading the Bible for guidance or comfort is a good way to make someone go truly and completely nuts…...

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By Inherit The Wind, March 20, 2009 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

DB,

It never fails to amaze me how religious types come here, preach their own particular dogma, tnen get angry and nasty and p*ss-ed off when an INCREDIBLY unreceptive audience responds with a very loud “BULL$#*T!” (and a snicker and a wise-crack or two)

Did you not know it was an unreceptive audience who have all heard that very same speech a hundred times before, nearly word for word?

I tell you flat-out I have never seen a miracle, never expect to see a miracle, and never want to see a miracle. There was one possible miracle in our Universe’s history—the Big Bang. That’s enough.  And it’s not even clear THAT was a miracle. 

There’s a new theory that’s actually testable, falsifiable, called the membrane theory that’s a little different than the Big Bang and resolves the issues of inflation and dark energy. (dark matter isn’t the problem).

So why don’t I want to see a miracle?  Because that will mean that God is imperfect and fallible, and I have no use for an imperfect and fallible God.

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By Leefeller, March 20, 2009 at 7:02 am Link to this comment

VillageElder,

Your points are well taken, looks as if one has felt your name threatening.  Wonder why? Sounds like the local witch Doctor is moving into new territory and wants a monopoly on soap boxes.

From what I understand there are over 400 religions and different gods in the world, why is one more worthy than the others, maybe because it was in Mr Rogers Neighborhood and competition is bad for business?

Snake oil salesmen start out by criticizing reason, then go into their well choreographed sales pitch. Freedom of speech should not be free, so we have the practice of Religion, the stifling of freedoms and most of all stifling of reason.

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By Jaded Prole, March 20, 2009 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

DWIGHTBAKER does a great job of making village elders point. It should be noted that using capital letters does not make bizarre beliefs any truer. If we are to avoid a barbaric dystopia and move forward as a civilization, we will have to put mysticism in the museum where it belongs and rely on rationality. It should also be noted that not all religionists are of the Dominionist type but that does not lessen the need to confront the disease of fundimentalism.

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By James M. Martin, March 20, 2009 at 5:28 am Link to this comment

Yeth, ith true, I do have a writing impediment, you silly savage.

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By Leefeller, March 20, 2009 at 1:59 am Link to this comment

FlamingLib,

Do you have a writing impediment? It is not Jebus, but Jebth, and who is Mammonith?

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By James M. Martin, March 19, 2009 at 9:54 pm Link to this comment

People like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen are essentially—all the megachurch leaders, really—preaching the same thing as Gordon Gekko: Greed is good.  This is completely incompatible with true Christianity: the earliest Christians were socialists who believed that the concept of property is inherently evil.  Not for nothing did Jebus throw the money changers out of the temple.  They’re back, though, and with a vengeance.  It isn’t Jebus’ teachings that they follow but those of Mammon.

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By tp, March 19, 2009 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment
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Leefeller
It seems the sky lords, as someone put it a couple of days ago, are still buzzing today. I for one respect your freedom of beliefs. It seems as though some people just don’t get it.
As for believing every word in the bible hell the entire first page of the New Testament is a lie. And who declared Jesus dead when he was lowered from the cross? How do we know that he was dead and recovered that cave instead of coming back to life from the dead? It is the whole bases for the Christian religion. These are my thoughts. My freedom of thought. There are suggestions that Jesus lived in France and raised a family after his resurrections. It is all what you choose to believe. It is nice to have a choice.
I personally got turned off of religion after reading the bible. I noticed the contradictions and the murdering attitude of characters such as Moses who sent a mob into the ‘land of promise’, in Exodus,  to kill every man women and child who lived there to make way for “Gods People”. It seems very similar to the way Israel is acting today toward the Palestinians today. And the Palestinians are their kin folk! Talk about blood thirsty Killing - what about God wiping out the entire world with a flood?? Sadistic? I think very much so. Who would believe such stories? Greedy people I suspect. Gold streets sounds nice. Living forever? Heaven? Such rewards are very enticing to capitalists.  I guess that is why Christians are so blood thirsty as one commenter bragged of how we proud capitalist kicked ass in Iraq when we invaded that completely defenseless country. Well over 1,000,000 Iraqis have died as a result. I think his head must be stuck up his ass of late. Look where the great capitalist attitude has gotten us lately. Morality? Not my kind. I think Chris Hedge’s sermon doesn’t go far enough. If he wants to repent he needs to dip his hands into the blood that has been spilled in order for his comfortable capitalist life style to exist. The state of the world is in ruins because of the banking executives reckless gambling. They pull strings, as in the wizard behind the drapes of Oz. Oz meant ounce of gold which was what backed up our money back when the satirical book “Wizard of Oz” was written.  These Sky Lords memorizing the words of that bible don’t make them true. The history that the bible suggests is interesting but you must realize that the victors of war write history books. And look at the wars of the past. Gee. What wastes of life. The useless Indians in this country had bounties on their scalps to clear the land for useful farmers, said General Sherman after the Civil War. Capital has taken it’s toll in this country. We need to take a long look at social. Repentance only wastes time as there never seems to be any real paying for the sins committed. For instance Bush, a known war criminal, is a free man. He has always been a born agin christian.   
Thanks for sympathizing with my bad experience in that Pentecostal church.
tp

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By VillageElder, March 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

Reading the comments on this article I am struck by the number of respondents who appear to be “Dominionists”.  The folks fall into the evangelical and fundamental camp.  Below are some key points in their belief system.

- The bible is inerrant.  Everything contained in this book actually happened are will happen.
- Evolution is false.  Everything was created in 7 days six thousand years ago.
- Man was given dominion over the world and creatures in it by god.
- One must be “saved”.  You can only be saved if you agree with them. People who are not saved will go to hell.  Not saved = satan’s and the anti-christ’s subjects and army.
- People who are saved are obedient to god’s law and obey those who speak for god.
- The USA is chosen to be god’s, aka evangelical christian country.  If the Constitution disagrees with the Bible the Constitution is wrong.  Replace the Constitution with the bible.
- Because they are god’s people is is their right to rule and destroy the ungodly.

A war between good and evil is underway.  They are on the side of god/good and liberals, freethinkers, ACLU,scientists, Democrats, Communists, Socialists, Progressives, homosexuals, abortionists and other folks who disagree are evil and must be removed so the “Second Coming” will happen.
Science must agree with the bible to be true; anything else is satanic fiction.
There can be no compromise about the word of god and his will.

The proper government is ruled from the top down in accordance with god’s word.  Those who disagree must be punished.  Totalitarianism!
God makes his people prosper through capitalism and the government is to do god’s will. Fascism!

There are more hallmarks identifying their beliefs, e. g., male dominance as per biblical teaching, most of which run contrary to the beliefs of those folks who believe in science, freedom of thought and speech and human rights.  If they can not enroll you into their church and belief system you are no longer human.

As members of an open discussion group we must remain aware that nothing we can say will deter the rants and political actions of this group.  They must be stopped in the political arena.  They are better organized then we, the left, are.  They have a single message and see themselves as part of a great crusade.

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By Leefeller, March 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

delphine,

Seems to be a mixing the “A’s”,  doubt applies more in the context of agnostic, not atheist. For instance, to doubt the existence of a guy or gal in the sky, Santa Clause the tooth fairy or anything else, would mean not being sure.  This is the sentiments of the Agnostic, in reference to the concept of belief, not being sure would mean doubt. Asking the atheist to doubt would be requesting them to be agnostic?

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By Robert Locke, March 19, 2009 at 11:46 am Link to this comment
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The Ten Commandments are very overrated.  The first two (or three, depending upon which version you go by) are redundant to the point of, “Thou Shalt Have No Other Lord but Me”.

Well, shove that, say I.  If you try to put that in the public square using my taxpayer dollars, expect a fight.

Thou shalt not kill, steal, etc., well duh.

And that’s as far as God decided to go with Moses?  Like, Thou shalt not buy and sell other people as slaves?  Wouldn’t that have been a nice inclusion?

Thou shalt do unto others as thou woulds’t have them do unto you.  Now THAT is a commandment I think we could all live nicely by. 

And for me, that includes this “thou shalt”...  Thou shalt take the time to call all the Ten Commandments bull by its real name, Ten Commandments Bull.

If I were to say unto you, “Oh, the Ten Commandments!  Oh, let us all swoon over the Ten Commandments,” I should have to say unto you, “Bull.”

Do unto others, folks, do unto others.  Be fair.  Let them worship the god(s) that they will.  Let them be sensible in all they do, and let them not heap hypocrisy one on the other.  Thanks.

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By delphine, March 19, 2009 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

Hi Leefeller:
I think you might have missed my point. I was not referring to differing opinions but to differing convictions and my sense that these opposite convictions are held in place by the same forces: fear and arrogance. I have never heard from an atheist anything but the same absolute certainty that I hear from true believers.
Both are unwilling to be open to doubt.

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By Leefeller, March 19, 2009 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

delphine

“People who are absolutely certain in their atheism are as misguided, in my opinion, as those who are absolutely certain in whatever their religious convictions. Both polarities are held in place by arrogance and fear”.

Could the arrogance and fear really only be differences of opinion?

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By WriterOnTheStorm, March 19, 2009 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

I remember the heady days of shock and awe. Back when it looked like we were kickin Baghdad butt there weren’t a whole lot of critics of the war in Iraq. So too, a few years ago, it was heresy to speak ill of capitalism. Americans love a winner it seems, regardless of the moral color of the victory.

Capitalism has always had an aspect immorality. Even hypercapitalism, which I’ll define here as the maximizing of profits with no regard for the social costs, has been around for generations. Just look at the case of the Ford Bronco. The model was the subject of multiple lawsuits for its propensity to flip over and kill it’s passengers. Later, inter-office memos surfaced showing Ford’s conclusion that it was more cost-effective to pay off the lawsuits rather than to admit the problem and undergo a national recall to fix the product.

In an evolved society, this kind of behavior would not be acceptable. But when nobody seems to have a problem with it as long their house keeps going up in value and they get to trade in their beemer for a new one every three years, this outlier humbly suggests that it’s not capitalism’s fault, it’s (y)ours.

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By delphine, March 19, 2009 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

People who are absolutely certain in their atheism are as misguided, in my opinion, as those who are absolutely certain in whatever their religious convictions. Both polarities are held in place by arrogance and fear.
As for the criticism that Mr. Hedges writes like someone in perpetual recovery it might be wise for such critics to wonder how an intelligent and sensitive person might go out into the world and really face it square on, eyes wide open, as Mr. Hedges has done and not spend the rest of ones life in perpetual recovery. He obviously isn’t stupid or blind.
By the way, I heard a broadcast of Hedges speaking a few years ago. He is as powerful a speaker as he is a writer.

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By Leefeller, March 19, 2009 at 3:13 am Link to this comment

Thought provoking posts, I cannot speak for the other posters, but ego explains actions of why the experiment was just an experiment?  So no answers are forthcoming, nor were discussions intended to be.  If only an experiment self congratulation posts are in order, as thought provoking is the menu of the day.  Seems pomposity among other things are suggested.

Demanding respect was an experiment, of self proclaimed thought provoking magnitude. So the world is not flat and the sun does not revolve around the moon, everyone can believe in what they want, and I would suggest they keep it to themselves. Except we can not have the satisfaction of ever knowing this to be. We are living in a fantasy world of thoughtless provoking magnitudes.

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By Paul, March 18, 2009 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment
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The was written by man, the 10 commandments also, and Jesus says was ok, but if we don’t love the others as we love ourselfs is zero. Good has no religion. Moises never existed.

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By Fadel Abdallah, March 18, 2009 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment

ITW, Russian Paul and Leefeller,

Thank you for reacting to my early thought-provoking post! The more I see reaction, the more I measure the success of my posts in creating situations for critical thinking. As a college professor for 25 years now, this is one practical way I use to teach my students critical thinking! 

Though I know that the word “reactionaries” is not conventionally used as a complement, I will allow myself the freedom of using it in reference to the three of you for the sake of “classification.”

With a good help from NEMESIS, the goddess of retribution, who punishes human transgression of the natural, right order of things and the arrogance that causes it, the three of you have the potential for intellectual and spiritual maturity and awakening! Keep up the good work!

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By Jonathan5052, March 18, 2009 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment

I would like to disagree with the following deduction in this article:


“Five of the Ten Commandments delivered from Mount Sinai are lifted directly from the Egyptian “Book of the Dead.” No human being, no nation, no religion, has been chosen to be the sole interpreter of mystery.”


What if the Egyptians themselves had “lifted directly” from the Ten Commandments to incorporate these directives into their “Book of the Dead”?  I believe that the Commandments had existed long before the creation of the Universe, since they originated from the Creator Himself.  Many pagan worshipers probably gained knowledge of these Commandments through word of mouth, or through their travels to other regions outside of Egypt.  I strongly disagree with those theories and belief systems which discredit the fact that a Supreme Being really does exist…since the beginning of time, the Creator deliberately had reaveled His Laws and Commandments to various cultures all over the world…who’s to say the Egyptians were not on His list?  I cannot convince others to believe that a Higher Being does exist, if they are not willing to look beyond the invisible, and see that our Universe is both what we can and cannot see!  Just because we cannot see it does not mean that it does not exist!  Scriptures say that the Creator has made Himself invisible to mortal man for very specific reasons.  The Egyptians did have knowledge of our Heavenly Father for many thousands of years.  Remember the Book of Exodus, which chronicles the life of Moses?

And by the way, I have classified myself as a moderate-to-somewhat liberal believer, for many years!  But I do believe the Scriptures as they are written, from cover to cover.  ‘Nuff said.

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By Leefeller, March 18, 2009 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

Fadel Abdallah stated:

“Though I respect your right to disbelieve and reject faith, for my formal religion says, “There should be no compulsion in matters of religion,” I also demand that you respect my right to believe, have faith, worship in a certain way, and defend what I believe is right”.

When saying some “have a right to disbelieve and reject faith, for the formal religion says so? How about “the person, you” would “you” allow the same reason without being told by the religion saying so?  Then it is demand that people respect your right to believe, have faith worship in a certain way and defend what is right”.

Followed by a challenge similar to rubbing two sticks together followed by a song and dance routine. If one believes or is told to believe in the right, why the challenge?

May I suggest these contradictions are worthy of little respect for they offer none. As far as the right to believe, has anyone said others should not believe or have faith of worship and to have the right to do it while holding their faces a certain way?  Respect is earned not demanded, though some would disagree.

So if a person believes in demanding respect and defending what is right, how would one go about this and define what is right?

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By skmacksk, March 18, 2009 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges latest essay, ‘The False Idol of Unfettered Capitalism’ is, of course, impeccably written and argued. One can almost imagine this latter day Endicott Peabody delivering his sermon, for this is most assuredly a sermon, to the assembled student body at Groton, circa 1929.The well connected Brahman on the evils of the worship of Mammon,over the one true God and his Ten Commandments. Bolstered by quotes, befitting a man of wide and deep learning,Christian belief, yet scholarly temperament. Partaking liberally of both the Puritan and Manichean traditions, to add to this exercise in Literary/Theological brio. Straight out of ‘The Rector of Justin’ by Louis Auchincloss, you might ask? Perhaps, I reply.

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By diamond, March 18, 2009 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

Thebeerdoctor, I think you’ll find that the Muslims acquired this nasty habit of stoning to death women who ‘strayed’ from the Jews. Mohammed accepted Jesus as a fellow prophet and was influenced by Jesus’ teachings, but not on this. Jesus was a Jew and was living under Jewish religious law and the woman who was about to be stoned was also a Jew living under Jewish religious law (and Roman occupation). The point is that Jesus largely rejected Jewish religious law and was a member of a radical sect that had its own ideas on how things should be done. He was executed as a heretic and for preaching sedition. The irony is that so much of what he preached has now become law in the west via humanism and socialdemocratic governments while the patriarchy and conservatism of the Old Testament hangs around trying to undo it and discredit it. This battle is particularly ferocious in America and used to be in Britain but I think the person who said ‘Britain is a social democratic country’ was right. No one there would dare suggest adultery should be a capital offence. In the American Bible belt, I’m not so sure.

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By Leefeller, March 18, 2009 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

Why do some people feel the constant need for others to agree with them and believe as they do? Is it because they really have some doubt, so they feel the need for agreement, like a mob mentality?

So important to explain why the world is flat, the sun goes around the earth and why pissing on the electric fence only works for believers, because god gave them an instant permeate wave. 

Believe what you want, this is the freedom of belief, when pious spewing s occur, the problem starts.  I do not feel the need to have everyone believe as I do, nor do I care.  Is that so hard?

As I mentioned before, Hedeges could have combinde moral integrity from many sources, but chose the one I believe, which he feels offers some solace to his convictions.  My dispute is not in the 10 commandments but in their limitations and short sightedness, plus the intonation that others who do not accept his convictions, cannot be moral or have integrity, sponser compassion and live a life worthy of living. This is the pompous attitudes so prevalent from some people.  Forsaking reason for fantiscy stories. 

If I do not accept your god, why is that a bad thing, nor do I care if you accept my belief, why is that a bad thing?

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By cyrena, March 18, 2009 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment

•  “What we go by here is actual behavior, and its actual observable effects on the Whole Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth.”
Sometimes I call this (the above)  reality.  Tao explains it far more patiently. I’m still taking lessons Tao.

•  “It looks from here like our domesticated Sisters and Brothers, whatever their “path,” would do a lot less harm to the rest of us if they had fewer “beliefs” and a lot longer attention spans….”
THIS part I figured out a long while back though. I sure do hope for the same…fewer ‘beliefs’ and longer attention spans…

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By TAO Walker, March 18, 2009 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

Shift here evidently takes issue with what he seems to’ve read as a challenge, in this old Indian’s earlier comment, to the validity of various “paths” people are on, in-search of their origins in eternal infinity.  Perhaps he took a mention of things people’ve had “....crammed down their throats” as a critical reference to particular belief systems.

Here in The Wilderness we see that beliefs inevitably turn-out to be pretty-much nothing but ‘window dressing’....those abstract CONstructs people resort-to when they’ve lost what Lao Tsu calls “The plain truth of NATURE.”  What we go by here is actual behavior, and its actual observable effects on the Whole Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth.

Certainly almost any ‘search pattern,’ if pursued to its ultimate conclusion, will eventually get its practioners to some grasp or another of what they ‘seek.’  Meantime, us surviving free wild Human Beings remain more engaged in responsiveness to what requires our respectful attention, according to our given organic function in our Mother’s Way. We’re ‘all good’ BEING what we DO.  Having not departed from our Original Nature, we don’t have to spend our (several) lives looking everywhere for it but where it is. 

It looks from here like our domesticated Sisters and Brothers, whatever their “path,” would do a lot less harm to the rest of us if they had fewer “beliefs” and a lot longer attention spans….

HokaHey!

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By Russian Paul, March 18, 2009 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

Fadel - for someone who “demands that you respect my right to believe” you are being rather condescending and preachy to the rest of us.

1. Accident is your word. We are fascinating creatures sculpted by nature - who knows for what reason? Maybe there is none. You know only as much as the rest of us.

2. Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, etc obviously are historically significant and one should study all aspects of history, this doesn’t mean we need accept them as the prophets they claimed to be.

3. We’ve felt and seen the effects of electricity and that is enough to prove its existence as an occurance in nature.

4. Completely wrong. Art comes not from nothingness, but from raw HUMAN emotions. And all art is an amalgamation of what has come before. Space gods shouldn’t get to take the credit for the hard work of all our great artists.

5. The constitution was written by men in an attempt to limit power, bibles are used to keep the population subservient and unqeustioning of authority (read Folktruther’s comment below, he gives a more eloquent explanation)

We don’t need books filled with ancient desert prejudices and space gods to have strong morals. In fact, these books could possibly damage one’s morals. I’ll use you Fadel as an example - I have seen some of your posts on this site. When the story of Australia’s wild fires broke out, you said that God was performing an act of retribution. Because of what the government of Australia has done, you condone your God murdering hundreds of innocent men, women and children. This shows a true deterioration of your morals - the belief that some innocent civilians are more deserving of living than others.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 18, 2009 at 11:47 am Link to this comment

[iFolktruther, March 18 at 1:56 pm #

Truthdig usually censors my comments on Hetdges; I don’t know why, I usually like his pieces.  So I’ll comment instead on his dreadful book that I just scanned I DON’T BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS.

Hedeges has inherited from his dad, a minister, the Chrisitan notion that people are BAD. We are gentically sinful, depraaved and identify with evil.

A concomtant attribute is that we can’t change this by bettering our institutions and ideology hsitorically.  Sin will out.  Identifying with progress is a source of evil.

This is the usual crap of old time Christians and other religions, whose function is to get people to identify with Divine and earthly power.  When we are taught from childhood that power is Good, we are taught that the people ruled by power, the overwealming majority of people, are Bad.

What is important about this belief in Hedges is that he is a Progressive.  A Prgressive who is trying to get us to indentify with an anti-people ideology.  this is why the Amercian people are so clueless and ideologically backward.  They are taught a progressive ideology by people that in crucial respects are ideological reactionaries.]
*****************************************************

OK, now I’m convinced you have sabotaged FolkTruther’s computer and are using his handle against his will!  Release him!

The only thing I disagree with in this post, and is a consistent failing of FT is his rotten spelling.

Meanwhile Fadel has just exposed to us that he is the MOST dangerous kind of religious fanatic, a convert from THE OTHER SIDE (as in “Godless Communism”).  He then proceeds to use typical, old, tired arguments to present his world view: “Intelligent Design”—I’m amazed he didn’t use the “pocket watch in the field” analogy that is 200 years old.

Fadel, if you don’t think electricity is real just because it can’t be seen, try sticking your finger in a live light socket—youch!!! Visibility is only one of your senses—you have 5 others (including balance).

The difference is that I have no FAITH that electricity exists because I can measure it, repeatedly. It is totally predictable, and, if it SEEMS to be unpredictable, then a concrete cause can be found after which it is again, predictable and measurable. 

Your God is not predictable. 

MY God is predictable: I predict he will have NO interaction or intervention in the known universe any later than the moment of the Big Bang—and with the new Membrane Theory, maybe only much earlier than that!  He won’t kill me or save my life, or yours, either.

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By Folktruther, March 18, 2009 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

Truthdig usually censors my comments on Hetdges; I don’t know why, I usually like his pieces.  So I’ll comment instead on his dreadful book that I just scanned I DON’T BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS.

Hedeges has inherited from his dad, a minister, the Chrisitan notion that people are BAD. We are gentically sinful, depraaved and identify with evil.

A concomtant attribute is that we can’t change this by bettering our institutions and ideology hsitorically.  Sin will out.  Identifying with progress is a source of evil.

This is the usual crap of old time Christians and other religions, whose function is to get people to identify with Divine and earthly power.  When we are taught from childhood that power is Good, we are taught that the people ruled by power, the overwealming majority of people, are Bad.

What is important about this belief in Hedges is that he is a Progressive.  A Prgressive who is trying to get us to indentify with an anti-people ideology.  this is why the Amercian people are so clueless and ideologically backward.  They are taught a progressive ideology by people that in crucial respects are ideological reactionaries.

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By Leefeller, March 18, 2009 at 10:31 am Link to this comment

When I look in the mirror, the mutt that I am, was really an accident, for I believe in the Wizard of OZ and my parents were munchkins.

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By DWIGHTBAKER, March 18, 2009 at 10:14 am Link to this comment
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DEFINING THE INNATE FEARS FOUND IN OUR LACKS OF SERVITUDE OWED TO OUR CREATOR AND OUR FEARS OF OUR OWN DEMISE

Those are the real and pressing questions that have been pursued by good and morally sound folks following their conscience for a long time. And here again is just one of the many discussions that seem to never end about who, what, why when and how did so many go wrong in looking for the light and when finding what they thought was right then using their belief system to punish others for not doing as they dictated to others what was taught them to do by what order or religious assembly they were from. 

To set the record straight about those who call their selves Christians: 

JESUS CHRIST is KING NOW—- HIS KINGDOM is expanding as HE planned. JESUS arch rival enemy is the ANTI-CHRIST’S that is NOT just one mortal man but many of mankind that have a mind set that——- I call the BEAST——they are those that seek the need for greed at all cost to others while they worship self and that was called by JESUS the god of MAMMON [Self-worship or deifying ones self].

Many pagan priests and pagan prostitutes stole the message of JESUS soon after HIS return to GLORY. HIS life and words as told to many played out real well for the pagans to jump on board with a new message that would draw many others to them for it had all the elements needed when turned around by them—- for them to entrap and keep their new converts connected only to them providing them a constant a predicable FREE RIDE.  Therefore in the second century AD the supposed gospel [good news] of their said Jesus was taken to North Africa and off to the east to what we call Turkey today and that set the stage in the third century AD for the Roman emperor Constantine to proclaim that Christianity was the religion or church of the Roman empire. Because the many Roman pagan gods had led the city dwellers to debauchery to such a degree they had become worthless being contributors to the Roman society in whole. But out from the larger cities were those JEW and GENTILE alike that revered the Risen JESUS CHRIST as their master and their life styles were sane, sanguine and communed and more importantly those folks had learned to watch each others backs to keep all from the many tyrannical horrors that was prevalent in those days. Keeping things in the Roman order of doing Constantine sent his mother to Israel to identify all the sites in the gospels and mark them as such.  She did. The other thing that was on her mission was to find artifacts during the times of JESUS CHIRST claim them bring them back to Rome to become the property of the STATE as relics to be worshiped. During the same time Constantine made funds available for many of the Bishops of the Churches to expand their meeting places for worship in the enormous provincial Roman Empire. Thus came from Constantine again a need to organize a hierarchy for control.  But to do that scholars were needed to work toward finding proof in the biblical text at that time for justification. Thus came what is called today the founding fathers.  Most were intellectuals many were formally trained in law and they set out to formulate what the gospel of Christ really was about.  But none of them had been re-born as JESUS CHRIST had said must be done to become servants contributing members in HIS KINGDOM BUILDING to proclaim to all of mankind that HE had come and it was HIS will that none perish and have life everlasting and that the rule of conscience out weighed all other of mans laws that denied the Rights of Life for mankind.  Therefore they set out to work on making our LORDS message more about laws, and respect for the hierarchy and duties owed to the grandiose state for making the Church the way for civilized man to move forward. Thus the caste was set for what was then and still remains today called the HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

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By jr., March 18, 2009 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

One of the commands also reads, Thou shalt have no God besides Me, me, me, me, me, me.

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By DWIGHTBAKER, March 18, 2009 at 10:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

DEFINING THE INNATE FEARS—-TWO——

Thus the HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH and all of it dignitaries were used by Rome then Spain Portugal and others to go about robbing, rapping, stealing from indigenous people all around in the name and consent of their so called—- god JESUS CHRIST using the sign of the cross as their emblem of faith.

Then came Martin Luther and he rebelled against the grossness of the way the Church did business.  Many of the Bishops sold rights to go sin. It was then and even unto this day a way to make money.

What Luther is famous for is called the period of the Reformation, now what was really done was just a name and hierarchy change and most if not all the real tenets of their so –called faith remained as inept bigoted and in error from JESUS CHRIST GOSPEL as ever before.  And from that era grew some of the older names of churches today. I will not call them out you can find that on your own if needs be. 

The western hemisphere was settled by Anglos and in the USA of America many of the religious folk were too poor to build big cathedrals like in NEW YORK and other large cities so they again went about creating a name and hierarchy change. But most of all else still remained the same. Some of the poorer refused instruments to be played in their churches—- trying to use the bible for proof but in essence they just had not the money to buy a piano or organ.

The honoring of the MOVE OF GODS HOLY SPRIT the Quakers came along about the same—- Unprogrammed worship is the more traditional style of worship among Friends and remains the norm in Britain, Ireland, continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and parts of the United States. During an unprogrammed meeting for worship, Friends gather together in “expectant waiting” for divine leadings. Sometimes a meeting is entirely silent, sometimes quite a few people speak. Meeting for Worship generally lasts about an hour.

When they feel they are led by the spirit a participant will rise and share a message (give “vocal ministry”) with those gathered. Typically, messages, testimonies, ministry, or other speech are not prepared as a “speech”. Speakers are expected to discern the source of their inspiration — whether divine or self. After someone has spoken, it is expected that more than a few moments will pass in silence before further Ministry; there should be no spirit of debate.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_Society_of_Friends

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By DWIGHT BAKER, March 18, 2009 at 9:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

DEFINING THE INNATE FEARS——THREE——

The first “Pentecostals” in the modern sense appeared on the scene in 1901 in the city of Topeka, Kansas in a Bible school conducted by Charles Fox Parham, a holiness teacher and former Methodist pastor. And again sad it is to say just a name and hierarchy change but most of the tenets of the HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH remained the same.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentecostalism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Methodist_Episcopal_Church 

Now during the time from Constantine till today—- want to be scholars or just idiot preachers and teachers have taken upon themselves with no proof whatsoever to make a name for themselves by stating things about biblical prophesy history and our LORD and HIS messages that are just heretical and wrong and many have done so just for the purpose of making more money.

Then again here come another time for reformation like all of those before and it was called the charismatic or word ministries that flourished for a time so they again went about creating a new name and hierarchy change.  Most of the BIG MEGA CHURCHES keep all the money they get in [so they have become money mills for those starting a new ministry with all it new bells and whistles] now most of those have joined ranks with the FAR OUT RIGHT RELGIOUS WING that supported the BUSH BUNCH AGENDA ” Some history of how it all began when the first wave of Pentecostal pioneer missionaries produced what has become known as the “Classical Pentecostal Movement” with over 11,000 Pentecostal denominations throughout the world. These continued to proliferate at an amazing rate as the century came to an end. In retrospect, the pattern established in South Africa was repeated in many other nations as the movement spread around the world.

That is, an enterprising Pentecostal pioneers such as Lake broke the ground for a new movement, which was initially despised and rejected by the existing churches. This phase was followed by organized Pentecostal denominational missions efforts that produced fast-growing missions and indigenous churches. The final phase was the penetration of Pentecostalism into the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches as “charismatic renewal” movements with the aim of renewing and reviving the historic churches.

Strangely enough, these newer “waves” also originated largely in the United States. These included the Protestant “Neo-Pentecostal” movement that began in 1960 in Van Nuys, California, under the ministry of Dennis Bennett, Rector of St. Marks Episcopal (Anglican) Church. Within a decade, this movement had spread to all the 150 major Protestant families of the world reaching a total of 55,000,000 people by 1990.

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement had its beginnings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1967 among students and faculty of Duquesne University. In the more than thirty years since its inception, the Catholic movement has touched the lives of over 70,000,000 Catholics in over 120 nations of the world. Added to these is the newest category, the “Third Wave” of the Spirit, which originated at Fuller Theological Seminary in 1981 under the classroom ministry of John Wimber. These consisted of mainline Evangelicals who moved in signs and wonders, but who disdained labels such as “Pentecostal” or “charismatic.” By 1990 this group numbered some 33,000,000 members in the world

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By Fadel Abdallah, March 18, 2009 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

As a believer, I find a great affinity between myself and Chris Hedges. The difference between him and me is that he discovered God and the positive aspects of faith through formal studies in a seminary, whereas I discovered God through my personal efforts, reflections and experiences.

When I was young, I was a typical nonbeliever, questioning many aspects of formal religion and doubting the existence of a God I’ve never seen, and Prophets/Messengers who were not my contemporaries. For two years of my high school years, I even flirted with Communism and became an official member of the Communist Party (in Palestine/Jordan). As I matured and became more reflective, my faith grew and I reached a point where I became convinced that a man without the standards of faith is not much different from animals. 

As a believer in the One Transcendent God, Creator, Supreme Being, or Intelligent Designer- no matter what you like to call that Entity- it saddens me to see many faithless people, attacking not only the messenger, but also the message! Though I respect your right to disbelieve and reject faith, for my formal religion says, “There should be no compulsion in matters of religion,” I also demand that you respect my right to believe, have faith, worship in a certain way, and defend what I believe is right.

For all those who deny a “Supreme Being,” “One Transcendent God,” “Creator,” “Supreme Being,” or “Intelligent Designer” I pose few questions:

1. As you take a deeper and reflective look at yourself in the mirror, can you honestly say that what you see is the result of an accident; an accident that has no purpose in life but to eat, drink, have sex, grow older and then die, despite your desire to live forever?!

2. If you, as a non-believer, can accept or believe in Alexander the Great, Aristotle or Plato, for example, as historical figures you’re willing to quote and learn from, despite of the fact that you’ve never seen them with your bare eyes, yet at the same time you are willing to reject Abraham, Moses, Jesus or Muhammad and the teachings they brought, simply because you have not seen them! Isn’t this a logical contradiction?!

3. Let me challenge you further! Take electricity, for example, can you deny its existence and effect because you cannot see it with your bare eyes?! You only see the manifestation of electricity in forms of light and power. Such is the Work of God; we see the Manifestation of His Work and Power in our own bodies and the beautiful nature around us.

4. Let me pose another challenging question through a beautiful piece of art! The first natural thing that comes to mind when you see such piece of art is that there must be an “Artist” who created such piece, in time and place, from nothingness. Why, then, it’s difficult for you with all the beautiful art you see in yourself and nature around you to deny a First Supreme Cause (or God)as the Designer of so many pieces of art?! 

5. Finally, if people are willing to accept, defend and die for upholding a man-made document, called the Constitution, written by slave-owners, why do you deny others the right to accept, defend and die for a “Constitution/Book” they believe has come from a non-partial Higher Authority?!

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By Purple Girl, March 18, 2009 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Basic Rules of Human Engagement, which have been repeatedly dismissed by the Very religions who CLAIM to revere them.
What Commandment hasn’t the major Religious sects broken. What long held virtues have they not disregarded.
One and Only One Lord God- yet they war over which fleshy vessel to worship. Since the ‘Almighty’ created heaven and Earth by creating something out of nothing- what makes these mere ‘bottles’ the object of devotion? He was like a Genie- the power did not come from the bottle, it merely contained the entity. Isn’t Jesus or Mohammad bascially only a Contianer and worshipping them like that of the ‘scared Cow’ idolatry?
The Religions have been slaughter each other- and many who had no allegeince to either- for millenia. That not only breaks another ‘Thou shall not kill’ but is compounded by the fact it was done because it ‘coveted’ its memebers adherence- they were out to convert, so they were coveting their followers.If not their numbers, thenthe resources in that region- gold,salt,whatever.worse yet they condemned each other for worshipping a false ‘god’ whether pagan who revered nature or even those who were Monotheologies- thus ‘bearing false witness’. Hell they don’t even keep sunday a Sacred day of Rest- You got to get up, Don you ‘sunday Go ta meetin’ clothes and Go worship then drop some coin in the Preachers pocket (isn’t that a form of money changing- blessing for cash). These Religious Fanatics, esp of the Big 3 don’t only commit Blasphemy everytime they open their mouths, but are heretical in nearly every action they perform against others. Intersting how they have seized the Right of Judgment in regards to others Immortal Souls- Isn’t that the Sole Right of that which Created everything. Are they claiming to understand God’s Design (how Arrognat), or are they just usurping his authority for their own gains. More Coveting.

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By AS, March 18, 2009 at 7:30 am Link to this comment
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Bravo Mr. Hedges! Although I occasionally disagree with your opinions, they are always intellectually honest, well researched and eloquently-inspiringly pronounced!

This column is by far the best and most inspiring; it is timely, and as such, it requires not just absent-minded reading, but it ought to be a careful “must read,” devoured, pondered upon, and analyzed by all readers, regardless of their religious affiliation or principled atheism!

For as you correctly point out, “Moral laws were not written so they could be practiced by some and not by others. They call on all of us to curb our worst instincts so we can live together…” Unfortunately, these commandments-laws do not come natural to all human being; many of us are not capable of spontaneously embracing such “moral laws,” unless we are reminded, on a daily basis, that there may be severe legal consequences if we were to brake them! For better or worse, in the so called “free societies,” such legal consequences, even if they were to exist, are all too often, NOT applicable to the rich and powerful members of the society! Hence, many of us become victims of the wild practice of freedom led by an instinctive “homo hominess lupus est,” dictum, that is all too often embraced by the rich and powerful, including those who are by their professional affiliation, meant to be intellectuals!

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By Leefeller, March 18, 2009 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

Religion and hypocrisy in the same breath, would make more sense, they go together like bread and butter.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 18, 2009 at 4:11 am Link to this comment

And, I don’t think I’m any more ‘biased’ than the next person. It’s just the way it is.

The only thing I don’t get is why we have all of these people talking religion and morality in the same breath. That just pisses me off.
****************************************************

Especially if the next person is xxxxxx, or, yyyyy, or zzzzzz! (lol)

If find the next statement even funnier in its truthful irony.  Religion and morality in the same breath or sentence? Heaven forbid! (I needed a chuckle this am, Cy. Thanks)

Capitalism didn’t begin with the Northern European Vikings’ raids.  Two ideas: First in the Odyssey, composed about 800 BCE and telling a tale that took place 500 years earlier, Odysseus talks about raiding and sacking totally inoffensive towns and cities as a given, a normal thing to do, just like cheating on his ever-faithful wife is a perfectly normal thing to do.  This was normal in the Bronze Age in Greece, and the Philistines may well actually have originally been these Greek sea raiders.
Second, mercantilism and competition were well under way at the same time as Odysseus. Trade was a normal part of life and the pottery sherds from excavations at Troy, Mycenae, Knossos, Santorini and Boghaz Koy show this, as they all have sherds from other cultures.
Trade is the alternative to piracy—if you don’t produce something, you either steal it or you buy it.  Of the two, buying is the moral route.

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By DWIGHT BAKER, March 18, 2009 at 3:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

DEFINING THE INNATE FEARS—-FOUR——

In summary, all these movements, both Pentecostal and charismatic, have come to constitute a major force in Christendom throughout the world with explosive growth rates not seen before in modern times. By 1990, The Pentecostals and their charismatic brothers and sisters in the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches were turning their attention toward world evangelization. Only time will reveal the ultimate results of this movement that has greatly impacted the world during the Twentieth Century.

Yet many of us that came to know our LORD JESUS CHRIST as being born again with the infilling of HIS HOLY SPIRIT soon run from those churches when we saw the real need to do so to not forsake our own sanity.  Because for many of us the Pentecostal experience was not taught nor sought out on an intellectual level—- it came to many of us when we just gave up and gave into HIM.  Accordingly for me my infilling started in 1981 and that was just the start THANK GOD for since that time my life has been changing for the better and I have been taught by HIM and no man can do what HE does.

DEFINING THE INNATE FEARS FOUND IN OUR LACKS OF SERVITUDE
OWED TO OUR CREATOR
AND OUR OWN MORTAL DEMISE

In simplicity how does OUR GOD THE LORD JESUS CHRIST SEE MANKIND TODAY?

First:  Those folks who do right things according to their good and moral conscience they have the rights to life in the world to come in lieu of being JUDGED by HIM in the future. They do not defy their mortal demise.  They die as just a mortal human or soul and that is that.  They do not come back again until in the mind of GOD they are recalled or resurrected from the dead.
The JEWISH RABBIS called those folks GOOD NOAHCIDES. JESUS called those folks HIS sheep that was lost and needed the real gospel of HIS BAPTIZIM TO COME TO THEM.  So that they could be a part of HIM BUILDING HIS KINGDOM now and not having to die a physical death but live on with HIM.

Second:  There are those that have sought out to be just one more ANTI-CHRIST to seek to accomplish the creeds to satisfy their need for greed that has no end to the lust of the flesh to commit all kinds of horrors on their fellow man. And for those you can read HIS words in Matthew Chapter 25.


DEFINING THE INNATE FEARS FOUND IN OUR LACKS OF SERVITUDE OWED TO OUR CREATOR AND OUR OWN MORTAL DEMISE #2

Third:  For the many that have followed HIM into becoming a SECOND ADAM after HIS likeness that HE proved in his life-seemed mortal death, burial and resurrection then for us that has forsaken all the religions created by man and the many tenets or laws required to follow that are out of bounds with our LORDS words, will and ways——- HE has a plan for each one of us—that is needed in building HIS KINGDOM on this HIS EARTH for all of mankind HIS SHEEP. Then when it is time for our seemed mortal demise——HE IS THERE to welcome us as we are man woman boy or girl to go with HIM and work some more in HIS GLORIOUS place I call Heaven.

So folks those are the choices we must choose from and that is just that no more. JESUS CHRIST SAID—- Choose this day who you will serve. 

Now some reading might say Dwight you got weird ideas and ways——OK I might have to you but my words are the truth with facts galore and in this forum of thought I am led by HIM to do and obey HIS words——- IF ANY MAN DENY ME BEFORE MANKIND I WILL ALIKE DENY HIM BEFORE MY FATHER.

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By cyrena, March 18, 2009 at 1:41 am Link to this comment

By VillageElder, March 16 at 8:20 pm

Thanks for this info VillageElder. I appreciate the efforts and results of your hobby.

•  “As a cultus, Capitalism could probably trace its core mythical creeds back to the Northern European area beyond Gaul.  These folks pillaged and plundered, the individual was the important feature in making decisions and hunting.  Capitalism is often described in terms of war or hunting.  This is a cult of greed.  A cult which takes from others, at any cost, for the aggrandizement of the few.”

That says it better than I ever could, though this is obviously an ongoing discussion, one lasting a cazillion years. I was just talking to a younger colleague earlier this evening, about who’s philosophy seemed to be holding sway here in the 21st Century…Locke (who thinks humans are for the most part cooperative beings) and Hobbs, who was pretty convinced that we’d just all beat the shit out of each other in an undomesticated version of the Flintstones.

Hobbs is currently holding sway it would appear.
Meantime, Leefeller gives me something to consider here, in terms of pieces from Chris Hedges, including this one…

•  “Actually I enjoy Hedges writing, but seldom agree with him, maybe this means I a biased.”

I dunno Leefeller, but I guess it’s worth considering…I don’t think it means that you’re biased though.

It’s odd because I was thinking that I rarely if ever enjoy Hedges’ writing. I think he is about as depressing as they get, and all too often, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because of the neurotic bubble he’s in. HOWEVER, I generally am forced to agree with him about many issues, since they are reality, even though he always presents everything from the doomsday perspective of a neurotic in never ending recovery.

And, I don’t think I’m any more ‘biased’ than the next person. It’s just the way it is.

The only thing I don’t get is why we have all of these people talking religion and morality in the same breath. That just pisses me off.

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By delphine, March 17, 2009 at 11:34 pm Link to this comment

This piece is not a sermon, it’s not a defense of religion…. it strikes me as a reasoned response, which refers to earlier codes of moral behavior, to the turmoil and pain we see in the world today. 
His life experiences qualify him to speak as a voice of moral leadership.
I feel better, more hopeful, when I read Hedges. I like that.
Thanks…......

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By Virginia777, March 17, 2009 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment

You got it dead-on this time Chris Hedges, bravo to you, beautiful piece.

For all the skeptics out there, umm… greed really HAS wrecked our country.

There really IS a moral code we must follow, or face annihilation (Martin Luther King said this also).

Get that? there really is, an we have not been following it.

Arrogant America, always knows best.

wrong.

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By Leefeller, March 17, 2009 at 6:54 pm Link to this comment

tp,

I relate to your story.

Several years back one of the most uncomfortable experiences in my lifetime was experienced at a local Methodist Church, but not sponsored from the pastor, but the membership. 

Consolidated pettiness and simplistic power and control by individuals, stifled reason.  In the end the best thing was for me to begone shuck the excessive baggage and not look back.

Grieving experiences are not exclusive, though on public forum or soap box,it seems preaching to me.  My dispute is not the preaching or the right to, it is to deny what it is, preaching.

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By altlic, March 17, 2009 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

I am sympathetic to Chris Hedges’ heartfelt call to return to the innate wisdom of community values, and the need to collectively repent from the rampant culture of individualism.  Any attempt to publicize the need for personal reflection, personal knowledge, humility and forbearance has to be a good thing.  I think it’s largely circumstantial that he invokes the Ten Commandments - having been personally nourished by a movie on the subject - except that it exemplifies the way the basic tenets of our “Christian” nation have been trampled by the very ones who trumpet them.

Having been through so much himself, I defer to Chris’s right to share his grieving message to a traumatized world.  We all grieve with him.

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By rollzone, March 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

hello. this was an eloquent but wrong article. capitalism is not idolised in place of God. agreed the religious decline precluded the economic downturn. failing to make religion culpable today, as mentioned early on; was perhaps a cause: the nature of mankind and the quest for spiritual harmony in modern economics: renders to caesar what is caesar’s: and unto God what is God’s; unchanging throughout time. the money handlers are only another aspect of being human, and living in societies. i participate in an existing system because i cannot envision a better one, while i pray God will show me a more humanitarian way of social intermingling.

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By Maitreya, March 17, 2009 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment

“If you think it would be impossible to improve upon the Ten Commandments as a statement of morality, you really owe it to yourself to read some other scriptures. Mahavira, the Jain patriarch, surpassed the morality of the Bible with a single sentence:

DO NOT INJURE, ABUSE, OPPRESS, ENSLAVE, INSULT, TORMENT, TORTURE, OR KILL ANY CREATURE OR LIVING BEING.

Imagine how different our world might be if the bible contained this as its central precept. Christians have abused, oppressed, enslaved, insulted, tormented, tortured, and killed people in the name of God for centuries, on the basis of a theologically defensible reading of the Bible. It is impossible to behave this way by adhering to the principles of Jainism. How, then, can you argue that the Bible provides the clearest statement of morality the world has ever seen?”            -Sam Harris in “Letter To A Christian Nation”

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By wild, March 17, 2009 at 9:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Interesting comments alright..considering Hedges not once preached religion, nor the guilt trip, not even a ‘wonderful sign’ ~ he witnesses.  Thats what reporters do.  I’m glad Hedges continues to witness, for me, for you, for God. 

wild;)

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By Leefeller, March 17, 2009 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

Anticipation is nice for prophets, but why just the first stone, whey not the seventh or the last one?  Guess they do not keep count?  How about cutting off the first hand left or right, or the first head even other body part?s Maybe, swing the first lash or the last lash for the 75 year old lady. .  Really anticipating things a prophet could mention the burning at the stake of heretics. Speeding up history. a worthy prophet would whip out the plans for making tools of torture used by the inquisition, could have gotten things moving along much sooner? .

Bush was a sort of a hands on prophet, he was told to attack Iraq and it happened.

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By tp, March 17, 2009 at 6:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

About 50 years ago when I was about 10, my tardy family walked through the doors of our relative’s Pentecostal church. The preacher was in mid sermon. He stopped cold when we walked in and after a pause he said, “six sinners just walked through our doors”. Everybody in the church turned to examine the victims of his little mind numbingly rude insult. We were mortified. The focus on us didn’t stop then. The term “gang saved” might describe what happened next. There hands were raised in the air with people laying their hands on our heads as though some Godly electric current would pass through us and make us one of them. I felt as though I had been mentally raped. It was one of my worse memories.
Another term might describe this article - “Captive Audience.” I avoided church for 50 years since that experience as a child. I have a habit of reading Truthdig but never thought I would be caught up in a sermon. I wanted to give the author the benefit of he doubt so I read on. I kept expecting some revelation that the Ten Commandments were simply a collection of rules to keep people endlessly focused on themselves instead of the crooks that are ripping us off today and in the past!
Hell, I know right from wrong. I think it is pretty obvious to most of us without having to watch propaganda movies or read tons of religious articles similar to this one. Everybody knows what greed is - which is what “THE” commandments are all about. It’s just that nobody wants to be accountable to his own and wants to put a limit on everybody else.
The commandments are written for the many by and the privileged few who also enjoy the rewards of distracting us with this crap. Bushit, The Bankers and the Kings of the past and present, especially the recent Arabian kings get the rewards. They are above the law and commandments.
Bah humbug
tp

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By thebeerdoctor, March 17, 2009 at 5:49 am Link to this comment

re: Diamond

Your comment about Jesus and the woman at the well, reminds me of what I said to a Muslim. Jesus, by all the historical record, was a radical Rabbi who announced that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. This was taken to be heretical. So when he said: “you who is without sin cast the first stone”... was this not anticipating the abuses of Sharia Law, centuries before that religion existed? My Muslim friend, acknowledging that Jesus, like Moses before him, were prophets of God, recognized that this could indeed be the case.

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By Slow, March 17, 2009 at 4:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I appreciate how Mr. Hedges will put himself out there in, what I believe, an honest, sincere, and knowledgable theorizing (not meant as a pun.)

What is a little disconcerting is that this article can be read as an appeal to patriarchy.

The main problem for me with the ten commandments is that the only discription of god is that HE is extremely jealous and powerful. So, all we get is the message that we must not EVER question male domination and power.

I am suspicious of anyone who will not reject organized religion. Certainly, the idea of the “golden rule” as a foundation for interaction is reasonable. By this standard, we must reject anything which reinforces male superiority in any way.

The biggest LIES in any religion are that female was created out of male and that male was created without female. You do not, nor has anyone ever, created one without the other. This goes for any god also.

I do think Mr. Hedges is headed in the right direction with his focus on our fear of vulnerability (which, of course, we associate with females.)

Thank you.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 17, 2009 at 3:57 am Link to this comment

Skypilots UNITE!

(and never use paragraphs)

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By prole, March 17, 2009 at 12:33 am Link to this comment

Maybe it’s only coincidence but it seems rather curious that the classified ad immediately above this discursive disquisition reads:
      The 10 Commandments
      God’s guide to a life full of blessings.
      Order free book now.
And when you click on the ad it takes you to a web page for The Good News, a free ‘Magazine of Understanding’ published by the United Church of God. This full page ad offers a free booklet on The Ten Commandments which it describes as: “Those who take the time to study them find they’re not a list of ‘Do nots’ but are in fact God’s guide to the good life—a life full of blessings.” The United Church of God derives from the Worldwide Church of God originally founded in the 1940’s by radio evangelist, the late Herbert Armstrong. This Church is a quasi-Christian band with some rather strange twists. Like the Mormons, they fancy themselves to be descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel from Biblical times. Their beliefs intertwine nationalism and millennialism.  A publication on their website explains some of these beliefs in more detail: “Throughout the long history of the lost 10 tribes of Israel, God has always known who and where they were. Just as He promised to their ancient forefathers, He has given the modern descendants of Joseph—primarily Britain and the United States—the family birthright and many of the earth’s choicest blessings. These nations have received a singular opportunity to provide leadership in the world at large”...“United States…soon became recognized as the leading Christian nation in the world. But in recent times a large portion of the nation has likewise ignored the teachings of the Bible. Paradoxically, the United States is one of the most prosperous nations of the world and one of the most immoral.” Which somewhat echoes some of the sentiments in Hedges’ article, albeit from a different perspective. The Church of God tract continues: “God does not change (Malachi 3:6).... The modern descendants of Israel should not ignore His timeless warnings .... the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God”. And it warns: “Leviticus 26:14-39 describes similar consequences, while also noting that God will ‘break the pride of your power’ such that ‘you will flee when no one pursues you’ (verses 17, 19). We seem already to be witnessing the fulfillment of this prophecy in our time… Even though the United States remains the world’s most powerful military power by a large margin, its advantage is greatly undermined by lack of political will and the commitment to decisively win its wars.” But there is a happy ending for these lost tribes that keep the commandments: “As end-time prophecies about Israel unfold…The descendants of the lost 10 tribes of the northern kingdom will discover they are not gentiles, as so many mistakenly believe. As humbled people, they will turn from their evil ways and seek the true knowledge of God. The house of Israel and the house of Judah will unite again as one nation under Christ”  ...“Those of the so-called lost tribes of the northern kingdom, including the British and American people, will have repented of breaking the laws of the covenant, including God’s Sabbath and Holy Days. The Jews of the southern kingdom will have acknowledged Jesus as the true Messiah. Finally, modern descendants of both kingdoms, for the first time in almost 3,000 years, will reunite as one nation.” and….“Israel will at last really be the world’s model nation, exemplifying the blessings and way of life other nations will strive to emulate” So, as Hedges contends, maybe in some instances the comandments “keep us from honoring the false covenants of greed, celebrity and power that destroy us” - but they can also be used to justify some pretty weird beliefs, too.

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By colin2626262, March 16, 2009 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment

Great post, Chris.

I especially loved the part about confusing “presentation and image with your soul.”  God bless.

Colin

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By stonefruit, March 16, 2009 at 5:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Personally, I don’t think that our current woes are a recession, the great depression 2.0, the end of neoliberalism of Bretton Woods II. Rather its a slow-motion collapse of the entire 5,000-10,000 urban sedentary agriculture based civilization with its emphasis on technology, top-down command and control, and sky god religions (xianity, judaism and islam) with their emphasis on obedience to authority and denigration of empirical observation and critical rationality. An old paradigm has died but a new one has yet to take its place. Indeed, it has yet to even really achieve clear formulation . I think, however, it will be some kind of fusion of sense of relation with mother earth (through deep ecology, aldo leopold’s land ethic, daoism, and indigenous insights), a prophetical concern for social justice in the human world (drawing inspiration from liberation theology in christianity, engaged buddhism, and similar thought-praxis patterns from other religious traditions), and a fuller grasp of the profoundly mystical implication of cutting edge science, especially quantum physics - all leading up to a not merely a new conception of morality or even a new philosophy, but a radically new-old sense of the spiritual.

There is a chance that this may even occur suddenly - 100 monkey style - as recognition of the the incredible damage and moral filth of the dying paradigm finally hits a critical mass.

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By VillageElder, March 16, 2009 at 5:20 pm Link to this comment

An interesting article, but lacking in being hard hitting regarding “the false idol of capitalism”.

While many want to attribute the Golden Rule to Jesus I would suggest further bible study.  You will find:  ”...thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”, Leviticus 19:18 

Religions or myths are my hobby.  As Chris points out all of the cultus have a similar set of rules for a moral life.  These are probably part of our DNA according to recent findings.  These rules existed before Suma developed writing.  We see evidence of these rules within not only other primate but a vast number of creatures on this planet with whom we share 94%+ DNA.

As a cultus, Capitalism could probably trace its core mythical creeds back to the Northern European area beyond Gaul.  These folks pillaged and plundered, the individual was the important feature in making decisions and hunting.  Capitalism is often described in terms of war or hunting.  This is a cult of greed.  A cult which takes from others, at any cost, for the aggrandizement of the few.

Capitalism is in direct opposition to the cooperation members of our species demonstrated in the journey to the Stone Age and homo sapiens.  It is truly a set of false beliefs, guided by an invisible hand of the market (just as other cultus claim guidance by an invisible godhead).  Ayn Rand was a great prophet for the morality of greed.  Alan Greenspan was one of her disciples and inner circle; didn’t that work out well for us?

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By Leefeller, March 16, 2009 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

How can someone claim Chris Hedges, is not biased? After all he did not quote the Wizard of OZ, the simple fact the article is on the 10 commandments makes it biased, if he compared the 10 commandments to other codes of conduct I could consider using the word objectivity, of course depending on how it was written. 

How does this work, if I like what I hear, this makes the article not biased?

Actually I enjoy Hedges writing, but seldom agree with him, maybe this means I a biased.

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By Christina, March 16, 2009 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment
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Mr. Hedges,

I don’t know if you even read these comments, and I’m sure you don’t really care what anyone thinks of your article. Regardless, I would like to tell you that this is the first time I wasn’t annoyed at having to read the whole two pages (in this case 3) of your often long winded columns. I didn’t feel preached at, and I wasn’t offended by the religiosity of it. There were many things I thought as I read, but I do not feel the need to make a smart comment or ask a peculiar question. I only wish to say that I appreciated the beauty in the words you printed. Of course people didn’t like it. Religion and spirituality are taboo in this culture, and equating those things with our social and political climate is   something even worse. But as I read I felt like I often do when I am writing something that has been on my mind for a long while. There is a silent desperation to get those words onto a page if for no other reason than to express them. Thank you for doing so, and for always writing without bias or affiliation, but purely from your own intellect, conscience, and experience. Someone else commented “Voice in the Wilderness,” and I don’t think that’s too far off base.

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By Dave24, March 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

Here’s my question: If we “cannot comprehend God,” then how do we know that “He” is there NOT to be comprehended??

Theists have to twist themselves into pretzels in order to rationalize fundamentally irrational fabrications.

To say humans cannot be moral without divine guidance is an attack on every person at the core of our existence.  Such beliefs undermine each of us in order to “save” us: which is the heart of totalitarianism.  Hitchens, of course, articulates this argument beautifully.

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By Shift, March 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm Link to this comment

TAO Walker wrote: “There isn’t much fault to be found with Chris Hedges description of domesticated Humans’ CONdition.  That his prescription for remedying it pretty much falls flat, may be because thousands of years of having it crammed down peoples’ throats, coupled with ever more sophisticated “sticks-and-stones” as ways-and-means for doing that, has obviously left his fellow ‘n’ gal prisoners in a worse predicament than if they’d been allowed to let Nature take Her Course.”

Although I do find myself in agreement with much of what TAO Walker says since there are many basic common beliefs among Native Peoples worldwide, I must say that not all Tribal Sacred Beliefs are the same as the Lakota, Dakota, or Nakota.  There are other Tribal beliefs that are not so conservative as the Lakota, and are just as valid.  One such traditional belief from one of the largest of Tribes in the U.S. respects all other paths to Creator as valid for those following those paths.  We do not judge the paths of others, nor do we accept the judgment of others concerning our sacred path. 

Each Tribe has it’s own creation story and often it’s end time prophecies.  As you would expect there are some common elements and some elements of difference.  There is not unity of belief regarding the end times.  Some believe that the Elders have met and fulfilled the sacred requirements.  Others believe that there will be a great cleansing and that some will be taken to a new and better plane of existence.  Each must choose his/her own path. 

One cannot easily understand or teach the Native beliefs.  One of my traditional beliefs is that it takes seven lifetimes to know Creator.

Chris Hedges statement, “All cultures struggle to give words to the experience of the transcendent. It is a reminder that all of us find God not in what we know, but in what we cannot comprehend.”

It is important to stay on the path to Creator, especially today.  Find your way and begin again soon.

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By Shift, March 16, 2009 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

Here is the Truth of this Depression that no one wants to recognize.

http://www.truthout.org/031609A

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By diamond, March 16, 2009 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment

The fascinating thing about the ten commandments (or the nine if you prefer)is how they clash with the teachings of Jesus. When Jesus saw a woman about to be stoned to death for adultery, he wrote the sins of those about to stone her in the dust and they crept away one by one, realizing that they had no right to judge her because they were full of sin themselves.Instead of honour your father and your mother he told people to leave their families and follow him. Instead of remember to keep holy the Sabbath day, Jesus told the story about the farmer rescuing his donkey which had fallen in a ditch on the Sabbath. This was one of many of his attacks on empty ritual, which he despised. People probably assume that Jesus endorsed the ten commandments but they are in the Old Testament and are part of the teachings of Judaism. Jesus was in revolt against the status quo and wanted to do it all new. He put humanity first and unyielding rules and ritual last. But of course laissez faire capitalism puts humanity last and the way Christo-capitalists use the ten commandments as a moral fig leaf doesn’t wash with me. If we’re going to move forward as human beings we need to move beyond the ten commandments to actually doing what Jesus recommended: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This would mean no war, no theft and no rape - for starters.

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By TAO Walker, March 16, 2009 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges could’ve just as well called this sermon:  “Stuck inside a mobile, with the Memphis blues….again.”  It is, after all, all about the ultimate futility of trying to substitute abstract “rules of CONduct” for natural organic functional integrity in Human social arrangements.  As Lao Tse noted way-back-when, “morality” crops-up only several stages of degradation AFTER people have already lost The Way.

Those here and elsewhere groping for some Living Ground from which to engage not only each “other” and the Whole Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth, but Life Herownself, in mutually beneficial ways, need look no further than our essential Human Nature itself.  Because if the active imperatives to “good behavior” are not inherent in our very Humanity, then they are nowhere, and every attempt to plaster-over that fatal flaw with equally flawed platitudinous preachings (“the Memphis blues”) and inevitably every-bit-as-flawed “enforcement” mechanisms, was doomed to utter failure before it was even CONceived-of, nevermind tried.

The “good news” is The Medicine for what ails the domesticated peoples is in-fact to-be-found in their essential Human Nature….as free wild Persons and Peoples.  Everything Chris Hedges says here, and all the comments offered in response, applies to captive “individuals”....stuck inside the auto-phageous “mobile” they’re trained to call “global civilization.”  Here in Indian Country none of the insoluble dilemmas plaguing our tame Sisters and Brothers ever trouble us at all.

Of course, we’re not hammered from birth by our Elders with how “fallen” we are, either.  So when we look at the mess domesticated Humans are in today we have to cut ‘em considerable slack on-account of how crippled they are (in Body/Mind/Spirit) from the horrible abuse they’re systematically subjected-to from cradle to grave.

It seems paradoxical to urge CONfined people not to “judge” their Human Nature just by their limited experience of it in-captivity.  Most are sensible enough to make allowances for the differences, for example, between free wild Buffalo and feed-lotted Angus cattle, but when it comes to recognizing which of those they theirselfs most resemble, most just can’t “wrap their heads around it.”

There isn’t much fault to be found with Chris Hedges description of domesticated Humans’ CONdition.  That his prescription for remedying it pretty much falls flat, may be because thousands of years of having it crammed down peoples’ throats, coupled with ever more sophisticated “sticks-and-stones” as ways-and-means for doing that, has obviously left his fellow ‘n’ gal prisoners in a worse predicament than if they’d been allowed to let Nature take Her Course.

They have their tormentors to “thank” for that, though, with a little help from two-legged tools recruited from their own ranks.  They’ll have their own given Humanity to thank for their freedom….if they’re smart enough finally to look for it there.

HokaHey!

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By flow, March 16, 2009 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

Is it necessary to identify morality with religion?

Isn’t a concern for moral conduct more properly considered in relation to virtue? Remember the four cardinal (pivotal) virtues Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance and Justice?

Consider these in relation to the concept of non-virtue or vice: Pride, Vanity, Greed, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, Jealousy, Sloth.

Virtues can be placed into a broader context of values. Each individual has a core of underlying values that contribute to our system of beliefs, ideas and/or opinions (see value in semiotics). Integrity in the application of a value ensures its continuity and this continuity separates a value from beliefs, opinion and ideas. In this context a value (e.g., Truth or Equality or Greed) is the core from which we operate or react. Societies have values that are shared among many of the participants in that culture. An individual’s values typically are largely, but not entirely, in agreement with their culture’s values.—Wikipedia On Virtue

Which set of values produced the motives and behavior responsible for our current economic crisis? What of our current ecological crisis?

And why are the four cardinal virtues considered “pivotal”? Remember Justice, and her scales? On the left is dis-integration (dissolution) and the right Integrity (strength, coherency, wholeness). Our crisis, the crisis of the western world, or the developed world, or whatever you wish to term it, is a crisis of values. We have a very simple choice, really, rectify or suffer the consequence.

As I read it, this is what Chris is addressing in the article. If so, I applaud him, and salute the article as relevant, insightful and timely. However, I deny that this is a religious issue of any kind.

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By Leefeller, March 16, 2009 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

Carlin, said he worshiped the Sun, because he could actually see it.  I Love it, makes more sense than all of the compiled fantasy goat herder stories combined. 

I have said this before, but may have acquired it from Carlin,  I believe in the freedom of religion, and also believe in the freedom to keep it to yourself.

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By AnalogKid, March 16, 2009 at 11:11 am Link to this comment
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Someday I hope Hedges realizes God isn’t real and approaches his thinking and writing with that premise.  It would make his writing that much more bearable.

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By Leefeller, March 16, 2009 at 10:46 am Link to this comment

Dave 24,

Thanks for the Carlin 2 commandments, yes religion does have problems with logic.  Though I has seen them before, it was great to see them again. Thanks.

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By Dave24, March 16, 2009 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Another Carlin gem, this time on the Ten Commandments specifically:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkRYaMiP4K8

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By Leefeller, March 16, 2009 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

Dave 24,

Thanks for the link, some of us will miss George Carlin, we know who won’t.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 16, 2009 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

Reading this, I was reminded of the scene early in “Moby Dick” when Ishmael is negotiating his contract with the Quaker owners of The Pequod.  They urge him not to seek to acquire worldly goods and wealth and that purity of his soul will be better for it….as they are cheating him.

I got a very similar feeling reading Hedges.  His answer was pure and simple—be a communist, as in living on a kibbutz where nothing belongs to anyone and everything belongs to the community and that’s how you avoid greed and selfishness.

But that’s wrong because it simply replace the currency “merit” with the currency “need”.

I personally don’t know why it’s hard to live by the 10 commandments, at least the non-religious ones. 

How hard is it to honor your mom and dad if they are worthy of honor?

How hard is it not to steal?

How hard is it not to murder?

How hard is it not to cheat on your mate? (I don’t and never have considered sex between unattached and consenting adults as “adultery”. Sex outside of marriage isn’t adultery—it hurts no one.  But cheating on your partner hurts them—and THAT is my definition of “adultery”—and it’s easy not to do).

How hard is it not to bear false witness against your neighbor?  If you didn’t SEE him steal that goat, why would you say he did?

How hard is it not to covet your neighbor’s hard-earned property? It’s not wrong to want stuff just like it, nor is it wrong to offer him a fair price to sell it if wants to.  But why want to get it away from him?

Finally, how hard is it to take a day off once a week?

What am I missing?

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By RG, March 16, 2009 at 9:50 am Link to this comment
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i normally feel impressed and informed by what chris hedges writes, but i just don’t know what to think about this article.  maybe this just isn’t the place for it.

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By thebeerdoctor, March 16, 2009 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

Let’s see how the moral commandments worked out over the years: the Crusades? the Spanish Inquisition? or how about the Civil War? the bombing of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima… all of these acts were committed by God fearing people. Onward Christian soldiers? Note to Mr. Hedges and all Truthdiggers: There is nothing spiritual about organized religions. It is the same old pattern: commit many numerous hideous acts and subsequently feel guilty about it. As Jim Yell stated: “give it a rest”.

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By Dave24, March 16, 2009 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

Jesus stole the Golden Rule from Confucius, who of course predated Christianity by quite a few centuries.. 

And on a side note, George Carlin’s deconstruction is, as usual, on the mark:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o

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By Leefeller, March 16, 2009 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

My disappointment is not in the article, Hedges tends to preach and I expect no less. So this becomes the Monday morning sermon on TD. Instead the posters, I had planned to debate with, have beaten me to the punch.

Beer-doctor

“pray to whomever you like, but in the end, it will not make any difference”.  Maybe only if you hold your face right?

Hypocrisy of religion is surpassed by it’s ignorance. Which came first, the 10 commandments or the ideas.

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