‘Gazing at a distance at our own resurrection’

‘Gazing at a distance at our own resurrection’ October 22, 2012

“Efforts like these too often go unnoticed or uncovered by journalists because they are earnest and have the goal of bringing people together instead of tearing them apart.”

Nothing fills me with more rage than the prosperity gospel.”

“If it is your land, and your crops, then who has the right to tell you to leave the edges for someone else?

5. Some fundamentalists are on a journey out of fundamentalism, even if they do not yet know it, and they need a place to land. 6. Vocal fundamentalist gatekeepers do not speak for all those they claim to speak for, and so all fundamentalists should not be grouped together. …”

“Oh, people with vaginas work at LifeWay. And they sell lots of books by people who have vaginas. But LifeWay only associates with vagina people who know and respect the rules they have in regards to people with vaginas.”

“By the time we had gotten kicked out the first time, we expected to get kicked out the second time.”

“The Philippines is a favorite destination of these smuggled elephant tusks, maybe because Filipino Catholics are fond of images of saints that are made of ivory.”

“If all you want to do is be a creep, then please don’t drag free speech into it. Free speech really does deserve better.”

‘Viciousness masquerading as righteousness’ is an apt description of D’Souza’s whole ‘ministry.'”

“My question is: Why are so many Christians OK with that?

“They have millions of adherents who believe in a literal six day creation and a literal Adam and Eve — so it’s not a stretch to believe that President Obama is a Kenyan-born secret Muslim bent on destroying the country.”

“He has wildly oversimplified his enemy, plucked a handful of studies out of a field larger than he imagines, and then dismissed a whole world of human investigation and experience.”

“Like Romney, these dragons are long on vaguely inspirational platitudes and as slick as the devil.”

America’s view on Jesus matches its view for Allah, Buddha, even Satan. As long as your religion is peaceful, who ‘God’ is referring to on our money is up to you. Jesus’ name is nowhere to be found in our Constitution. It is not America’s job to go out to the ends of the world preaching and baptizing in the name of Jesus.”

“I am theologically conservative, meaning that I believe all that stuff in the Nicene Creed about the virgin birth and the resurrection. Especially the resurrection. But theological conservatism and political/social conservatism are entirely different things.”

Don’t even get me started on where the government places icy roads.”

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  • Carstonio

    Although “God” is used by more religions than “Jesus,” in principle it’s still sectarian and doesn’t belong on our money. The word is monotheistic and excludes religions that based on other models such as polytheism or animism. Religions such as Confucianism, Taoism, Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism seem atheistic at times, at least when compared against Western monotheism. And as a practical matter, most US residents would hear “I believe in God” and assume the person to be Christian. It may be impossible to come up with a truly inclusive version of “In God We Trust” without taking religion off the table, and in any case the “we” is the inaccurate part of that phrase.

  • I can’t argue with your general point, but I just want to point out that Greek and Roman polytheists (and I’d wager a good deal of other polytheists, but I don’t have the research) did often use the singular “god” in contexts like this. You and I might hear this and immediately think “monotheism,” but apparently they didn’t.

    Again, not trying to poke a hole in your argument, I just wanted to point it out.

  • Carstonio

    We can’t assume that the singular “god” in such instances isn’t merely a ethnocentric artifact. Our language may not have a word that maps precisely in that context to what those polytheists meant in that era, and the translators of Homer and Euripides and Ovid came from monotheistic traditions and were translating for readers from those traditions. These are my educated guesses based on the translation issues that other Slacktivistas have pointed out with the OT and NT.

  • aunursa

    “If all you want to do is be a creep, then please don’t drag free speech into it. Free speech really does deserve better.”

    I’ve noticed a common misunderstanding of free speech.  The First Amendment prohibits the government from imposing unnecessary restrictions on free speech.  It doesn’t address what a private company allows or prohibits in its publications or on its website.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Just add “…all others pay cash”, and it becomes completely accurate. 

  • I’m not sure what you mean. The word is singular in the original Greek and Latin, so it’s not a monotheistic translator fudging, if that’s what you mean. 

    My policy when translating is generally to render such instances as “a god,” since neither Greek nor Latin has an indefinite article (but I couldn’t swear offhand that none of the Greek instances have a definite article attached). More likely, though, the ancients took that as a generalizing singular, like “The goat is a fascinating creature!” which does not imply you believe there is only one goat in the world ;)

  • Will Hennessy

    Yes, that is a great movie, and everyone was great in it.

  • AnonymousSam

    Even ending in -im?

  • You are of course correct about the First Amendment, and I agree with you that many people misunderstand the First Amendment to have a wider scope than it actually does.

    That said, I’m not sure believing that the principles that justify the First Amendment also apply to other entities necessarily constitutes a misunderstanding of free speech.

    I might believe, for example, that when a local mayor or governor uses the political power of their office to prevent citizens from expressing certain beliefs, they are violating the principles of free speech, in the same sense that when the armed forces use their military power to destroy enemy fortifications they are violating the principles of pacifism. I might believe this regardless of whether the U.S. Constitution prevents them from doing so.

    Heck, I might even believe this about political leaders in other countries.

    I might similarly believe that when a corporation, or a civic organization, or a volunteer organization, some other human social structure does the same thing to employees, or customers, or members, or neighbors, or etc. they are similarly in violation of those principles.

    Of course, I might be wrong to believe this. Or I might be right as far as it goes but wrong to believe that those principles are genuinely worth supporting in those situations. That argument has been made at some length in earlier threads and I don’t mean to challenge it here.

    I’m merely saying that I can hypothetically believe such a thing, even if such a belief is pathetically wrong, without being confused about the scope of the First Amendment. 

  • Carstonio

    Your post touches on the distinction between “God” as a name or title and “god” as a noun. The former involves absolute, infinite power over the universe and everything in it, a concept that from my reading would have been alien to the early Greeks. (I don’t know about the later philosophers.) The Greek gods had very limited powers by comparison and were not in control of the universe. The concepts behind the phrase “God willing” might have been incomprehensible to the Greeks of Homer’s time.

  • Carstonio

    Exactly. Abuse of power to control speech need not be done by government to go against the principle of free speech.

  • Carstonio

    My main point is that the concept behind “God” as a name or title is found only in some religions, and that’s why it’s sectarian and thus inappropriate as a national slogan.

  • I always love it when you reference Daniel Amos or The Lost Dogs – The Dogs played our wedding which automatically makes them my favorite band ever.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    When Brownback rose to speak, he joked that he had joined Obama earlier at an NAACP meeting where Obama was treated like Elvis and he was virtually ignored. Turning to Obama, a smiling Brownback said, “Welcome to my house!”
    The audience exploded with laughter and applause. Obama rose, walked before the congregation and then declared:
    “There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”
    That has got to be one of Obama’s Crowning Moments of Awesome!  I hope and pray he wins the election, because *that remork alone* proves he a far greater Christian than Brownback can ever hope tp be

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Sorry about the typos, folks.  My hands were a bit sore from applauding so vigorously.  ;-)

  • Joshua

    Wrong language, that’s Hebrew, the languages of Roman and Greek polytheists didn’t do that.

  • Joshua

    Nah, supporting what Mad Latinist said, in the original languages of Roman and Greek polythiests, referring to “God” singular just like monotheists do was definitely a thing.

    It’s not a translation issue introduced by Christian translators.

    Not sure what it means, although if I were translating I’d probably follow Mad Latinist’s approach and reasoning.

    Isn’t the Latin word deus cognate to a dialectical variation of Zeus’s name? I’m sure there’s a classic dialect in which the zeta was a delta.

  • Joshua

    Actually no, I’d probably translate it literally and let the reader figure out what it meant. Maybe, like many beginners who don’t know much about translating, I go for the literal translation and make the reader work harder.

  • Keulan

    That gif is from the movie Saved if I’m not mistaken. Definitely worth watching if you haven’t already seen it.

  • Carstonio

    I admit that my knowledge of those languages is very limited at best. I had the impression that some concepts behind the words in some languages often cannot be directly translated, so I was making the point that “God” as a name or title and “god” as a noun seem to be distinct concepts with the latter not automatically meaning the former. And my reference to polytheists in the first place was really about ones who are US citizens today, such as most  Hindus.

  • Completely off topic, there’s something I’m working on and in it I wanted to talk about changes to the better in US history and backlash they faced.  In my experience in response to these things “the backlash was severe and seemingly
    insurmountable.”  But when I was thinking about changes toward the better I threw in something where I know nothing about the backlash, I don’t even know if was one.

    That was non-land owners being able vote.  I know nothing about the process by which it came to be, nor what opposing forces that process had to face.  I do not actually know if the backlash was severe and seemingly insurmountable.  I’d like to keep it in there, but only if it’s true.

    So, does anyone know about that part of US history?  What were those who changed the rules up against?

  • Isn’t the Latin word deus cognate to a dialectical variation of Zeus’s name? I’m sure there’s a classic dialect in which the zeta was a delta.

    As I recall, yes.  The Z and D were closely linked (at least one source I’ve read says the Z should be taken as signifying the sound “zd”) and which one Zeus’ name begins with depends on which case you are using the word in.

    As near as we can* tell Zeus is cognate with the Latin deus as well as the Latin word for day as well as the the English word Tuesday (the “Tues” part, the English word day has different origins)  obviously the English word diva as well, and doubtless various other things.

    This caused no end of trouble for me when some idiot who had mislearned some etymology, taken it for literal description of things (Basically Tuesday and Zeus were once the same thing! But with different words), ignored that the Semitic languages are not Indo-European, and was generally a pompous ass tried to assert that the god of the Bible and Zeus were once the same god based on the fact that “Deus”, used by Latin speaking Christians to refer to their god, was cognate with “Zeus” therefore they were the same god, following from the same tradition, QED.

    Good God/god/whatever that guy was an asshole.

    *Remember that Proto-Indo-European is an entirely reconstructed language.  It is our best efforts to create an ancestor language that we know must have existed for the Indo-European language, but we have no written evidence for.  This is done using knowledge we have of the evolution of multiple languages from a single ancestor post-writing, which is very helpful for understand the process of language differentiation.  Even with best practices it’s still, to some degree, best guess.

  • Rowen

    I can’t speak for Ancient Greek or the Zeus to deus thing, but plenty of ancient Latin texts will talk about the gods and at the same time reference a nebulous, amorphous divine presence, that even the gods would have to succumb to. Sometimes this was the Dirae/Fates, and sometimes this was something else.

    Many of the polytheists I know (I’m one myself), varying from Druid to Hindu, have had a vaguely similar concept, or at least something fairly concrete when we/they say God with a capital G. I, personally, don’t have a problem with the world, but I also understand that many people have a very Judeo-Christian concept tied up in the proper noun “God.”

  •  My main point is that the concept behind “God” as a name or title is
    found only in some religions, and that’s why it’s sectarian and thus
    inappropriate as a national slogan.

    And your point doesn’t even get to the thing that pissed me off about that: some of us don’t put any trust in any god.  And yet we’re citizens, too.

    I liked most of that article, but I found it fascinating that Fred chose that particular paragraph to quote, as it was the one that made me want to yell at the writer.  The blinders that allow that sort of thought formulation are amazing.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And my reference to polytheists in the first place was really about ones who are US citizens today, such as most Hindus.

    Permit me to introduce you to a concept called ‘Hellenic Reconstructionism’. There’s an Internet-famous one lives in Missouri, name of bradhicks.livejournal.com. I’m sure there’s more US Hindus than US Hellenic Reconstructionists, but there are most certainly modern-day USAians who worship the Greek gods.

  • Carstonio

    Very true, and no slight was intention. I used Hindus as a modern-day example because of the greater numbers of immigrants from India and their descendants.

  • Carstonio

    That was my objection as well, but I chose to use other religions to make my point. Theocrats and culture warriors treat secularism and church-state separation as atheistic, often insisting as the writer did that “God” applies to all religions. The real purpose of including “God” on the money and in the Pledge is to preserve Christian privilege, and I’m trying to make that obvious when I point out that the phrasing excludes not just atheists but also many adherents of religions.

    (I still want to know Scalia’s rationale behind his phrase “unconcerned deities.” It’s fairly obvious that he wants to preserve that privilege as well, but my interest is in how he deludes himself into believing that there could be any other motive.)

  • Daniel Amos’ Kalhoun AND Saved? Like I’m in my own personal heaven…

  • Well, I’m speaking of pagan Greek and Latin speakers here. Henotheistic/Monotheistic Hebrews and their ancestors are a different story. But i mentioned this in another recent comment: in sum Elohim may be marked as a plural, but when it refers to God it takes a singular verb, so it’s safe to assume that it no longer means “gods” at that point.

  •  I thought Oo, the Chartists, and found this:


    and came back and realized you were working on US history. Well, in the US, the current Voter ID Acts look to me like pushback against the Fifteenth Amendment.

  • Tricksterson

    Lets not forrget Asatru and the various branches of WIcca shall we?  Along with a bunch of others.

  • suetanvil

    Thanks for the DA video.  I just love that song.

    (Okay, back to reading the articles.)