#CFP The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness: Religion, Activism, and Protest

This looks like a really interesting call for papers!

The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness: Religion, Activism, and Protest

Too often, especially in the United States today, religion is seen as the enemy of socio-political progress and change. But even a cursory glance at U.S. history — the Underground Railroad, the Civil Rights Movement, the Sanctuary Movement — attests to the role religion and religious individuals have played in resistance movements. This panel seeks papers that consider the influence of religion on political activism and protest movements — and not only in America, but globally. Paper proposals might address (but are not limited to) the following topics: the intersection of religion and political ideologies and movements; the influence of religion on the political Left, or vice versa; church-sponsored protest movements; or the implications of the “post-secular turn” on religion and politics. Any treatment of religion, activism, and protest will be considered. By May 31, please send a 250-word proposal, a brief CV, and any A/V requests to Josh Privett, Georgia State University, jprivett1@gsu.edu, for SAMLA 90, November 2-4, 2018, in Birmingham, Alabama.

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  • John MacDonald

    I find the intersection, historically, between the religious/mythological sphere, and the social/political sphere, fascinating. For example, Serapis (Σέραπις, Attic/Ionian Greek) or Sarapis (Σάραπις, Doric Greek), was cleverly instituted as a Graeco-Egyptian god. The Cult of Serapis was strategically introduced during the 3rd century BC on the orders of Ptolemy I of Egypt as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm. Plato also promoted the utilization of myths, such as the Noble Lie (Republic, Book 3, 414e–15c; also cf Laws 790c3, 812a2, 841c6), because myth inculcates beliefs in society. Myth, Plato taught, is efficient in making the less philosophically inclined, as well as children (cf. Republic 377a ff.), believe noble things. In the Judeo Christian tradition, myths about God permitting lies in certain circumstances (1 Kings 22:21-22) seems to explain the difficult social issue of justified lying, and would lend divine precedence and explanation to why people should be allowed to lie in certain circumstances (eg., Rahab: Joshua 2:4-6; James 2:25, and Jesus: John 7:8-10).

    • Chuck Johnson

      Myth, Plato taught, is efficient in making the less philosophically
      inclined, as well as children (cf. Republic 377a ff.), believe noble
      things.-John

      There is a big difference between promoting a fictional story as “just a story” and promoting it as being “factually true”.
      The Catholic church (for example) has perpetrated many monstrous crimes by not knowing and not caring about this difference.

      • John MacDonald

        Plato had as his goal in “The Republic” creating a model for a good and just society. In ancient times, including in the Judeo-Christian tradition, Noble lies were sometimes deemed okay if they furthered the greater good/cause.

        The justification of lying hypothesis is very interesting. It resonates with much in spirituality … even shamanism …where the neophyte is taken in with ‘magic’ to attract their attention and then is taken to the Truth… and the understanding that what they initially thought was magic was simply deception … and the recognition of how early they were deceived.

        Justified lying occurs a lot in ancient spirituality. Confucius, in the ‘Analects,’ indicates: “The Governor of She said to Confucius, ‘In our village we have an example of a straight person. When the father stole a sheep, the son gave evidence against him.’ Confucius answered, ‘In our village those who are straight are quite different. Fathers cover up for their sons, and sons cover up for their fathers. In such behavior is straightness to be found as a matter of course.’ (13.18)”

        This is also true of the Code of Manu. Roger Berkowitz says of the Manu based society, that its division of society into four castes, each with its own particular obligations and rights, is a desired end because it reflects the natural order of society. He says ‘“The order of castes, the highest, the most dominant Gesetz, is only the sanction of a natural-order, natural legal- positing of the first rank, over which no willfulness, no ‘modern idea’ has power. It is nature, not Manu or the Brahmin legislators, that divides the predominantly intellectual from those who are predominantly physically or temperamentally strong, and both of these from the mediocre, who are extraordinary in neither intellect nor strength. The Indian caste system is an artifice, a Holy Lie—but it is a lie that serves natural end.’

        Similarly, we see the permission of lying in Islam. In the Pro-Muslim book ‘The Spirit of Islam,’ Afif A. Tabbarah writes, concerning the mandates of Muhammed, ‘Lying is not always bad, to be sure; there are times when telling a lie is more profitable and better for the general welfare, and for the settlement of conciliation among people, than telling the truth. To this effect, the Prophet says: ‘He is not a false person who (through lies) settles conciliation among people, supports good or says what is good.’

        If you’re interested, I tried to delineate the relationship between the Judeo-Christian tradition and the Noble Lie in a blog post here: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.com/ . As I kept getting new ideas, I added them in the reader comment section of the blog post.

        I’d be interested to hear your thoughts …

        • Chuck Johnson

          Thanks for your references.
          I see the historical references as being very inadequate for learning about what lying and deceit consist of.
          The ancient people do not seem to know.

          Lying and deceit are best viewed through the lens of evolutionary biology.
          All moral questions are best viewed through the lens of evolutionary biology.

          A person who lies is trying to gain an advantage for himself at the expense of the people that he is lying to.
          People in ancient times were, in general, more violent and less moral than in recent times.
          I will guess that they were less honest, too.
          #MeToo is a recent example of how the ancient secrecy and dishonesty is becoming less feasible in the twenty-first century. Technological advances in communications are causing the lies to be exposed.

          The general advice that should be taught to children and everyone else is that telling lies is a form of social pollution.
          Lying should be avoided as much as possible.

          Communicating honestly and intelligently with your fellow humans is a useful survival adaptation which always needs to be respected and encouraged.

          • John MacDonald

            You have to understand too that, in antiquity, they were still unravelling the the categories of truth and falsity/lies from one another. For instance, for Seneca, writing in the first century AD, it was axiomatic that historians were liars (Quaestiones Naturales, 7.16.1f.). Just consider critical bible studies: scholars need to use sophisticated criteria to sift through the legendary/theological material to approximate what the historical Jesus said and did. And this is no easy task, since just because we can’t think of a reason for a writer fabricating a particular element, that doesn’t mean they didn’t have one. Consider also Hesiod’s “Works and Days.” This is a poem communicating apparently (although who is to say?) sincere views on the gods, justice and society as well as practical, if traditional, information on methods of farming. But Hesiod also includes information about a quarrel he had with his brother Perses about his father’s land. The thing is, for various hermeneutical reasons, many classicists think the part about Perses is false and that Hesiod never had such a brother. It’s a paralogism to conclude from the fact that an historian is relating an “apparently mundane” historical tidbit that doesn’t seem to have any ulterior motivation that, therefore, the tidbit must be historical. It’s entirely possible that the tidbit might be invented and we simply can’t see the reason for it.

          • Chuck Johnson

            Yes.
            So my conclusions about the Jesus stories have little to do with gathering more historical knowledge of the facts of 2000 years ago.

            The most interesting part of the Jesus stories is the way in which the stories have influenced the development of Western civilization.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “The Governor of She said to Confucius, ‘In our village we have an
          example of a straight person. When the father stole a sheep, the son
          gave evidence against him.’ Confucius answered, ‘In our village those
          who are straight are quite different. Fathers cover up for their sons,
          and sons cover up for their fathers. In such behavior is straightness to
          be found as a matter of course.’

          It looks to me like Confucius was quite crooked, and a man of very limited understanding on this topic.

          • John MacDonald

            If you’re interested, back when I was still flirting with mythicism, I wrote a short story which was published online in 2009 about the intersection of religion and psychology/addiction, as it has to do with the Noble Lie in antiquity. If you’re bored some time check it out: http://www.caseagainstfaith.com/the-eternal-return.html

          • Chuck Johnson

            Thanks.
            I looked it over and I am reminded of how much quackery, incompetence and deceit are involved in the psychiatric racket.

          • John MacDonald

            Pills are certainly the answer in many cases, but are still way overprescribed.

          • Chuck Johnson

            Writing prescriptions is a cash cow.

          • John MacDonald

            I think Confucius just reflected that trend of justified lying among the ancients. It’s always interesting to try to determine the motives of the ancients. Socrates could have easily have avoided is fate, but he wanted to die the death of the unjustly persecuted righteous man for the effect that would have on history. Hence, upon taking his poison, Socrates is triumphant, saying ” “Crito, we ought to offer a rooster to Asclepius. See to it, and don’t forget.” It reminds me of Jesus’ last words in the Gospel of John: ““It is finished!”

          • Chuck Johnson

            Lying can still be justified today.
            But it should be rarely justified, the more rarely, the better.

          • Chuck Johnson

            Yes, all very dramatic.
            The drama is used to drive home the lessons.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Myth, Plato taught, is efficient in making the less philosophically
      inclined, as well as children (cf. Republic 377a ff.), believe noble
      things.-John

      There is a big difference between promoting a fictional story as “just a story” and promoting it as being “factually true”.
      The Catholic church (for example) has perpetrated many monstrous crimes by not knowing and not caring about this difference.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Myth, Plato taught, is efficient in making the less philosophically
      inclined, as well as children (cf. Republic 377a ff.), believe noble
      things.-John

      There is a big difference between promoting a fictional story as “just a story” and promoting it as being “factually true”.
      The Catholic church (for example) has perpetrated many monstrous crimes by not knowing and not caring about this difference.