Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Battle For God: Part Seven

Page 216: Armstrong explains why the "religious right" exists. During the Cold War, the Communists dominated the far left, and since Communism was virulently anti-religious, religious people began moving towards the political right.

Page 217: Armstrong discusses The Rapture as a fantasy of revenge. I have never understood where the idea of the Rapture comes from, but Wikipedia gave me the answer: from Matthew 24:40-41 "Two women shall be grinding together, the one shall be taken, and the other left." I would propose a different proof passage, Matthew 13:24-30, "Jesus told them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owners servants came to him and said, "Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?" "An enemy did this," he replied." The servants asked him, "Do you want us to go and pull them up?" "No," he answered, "because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'" I guess the Rapture just underscores the Second Commandment of Bible Interpretation: Thou Shalt Not Take Verses in Isolation.

Page 235a: "They would have to challenge ideas which had once been radical and revolutionary but had now become so authoritative and pervasive that they seemed self-evident." In other words, one should be careful being dogmatic about things which seems self-evident.

Page 235b: "In the premodern period, myth had never been intended to have a practical application." Okay, this is just so far beyond the pale of rationality that I feel sullied by commenting on it. Primordial religion is entirely practical. The marking of signs and seasons, planting times, harvests, rain dances, weather gods, they all were meant to mark and control life patterns. The Torah is chock full of practical advice on how to deal with various infectious diseases, the set up of the camp, dietary restrictions, military tactics, and the movement of the tribes during the migrations. If it was unintentional, they surely did a stupendously bad job of making it look unintentional.

Page 237: In Muslim tradition, Allah is the only authority. Any human government is thus usurping God's authority. In hindsight, it makes insurgency seem a part of Muslim culture, since no government has any inherent legitimacy.

Page 262: "State-building, military campaigns, agriculture, and the economy had all been the preserves of the rational disciplines of logos." See the comment above the last for reference to agriculture and the economy, military campaigns were highly religious affairs, as they sought the signs of victory through soothsayers. State building was also very religious, as they all sought a foundation of legitimacy through religious origin myths, such as the Aeneid, which is one giant Roman origin myth that links them with direct involvement of the Greek gods.

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