Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Scientology/"Dead Agenting"

So, as you probably realize, Scientology is fond of trying to discredit anyone who discusses the evil stuff they do. Turns out they even have a name for it: dead agenting. Um, does that term make any sense at all? Or does it just sound vaguely cool and menacing? Sounds like something Mr. Cruise might make up for one of those lame-ass Mission Impossible movies...

Oh, and the name of the division that usually takes care of the "dead agenting" tasks? The Office of Special Affairs, a.k.a. Department 20. Maybe they should call them einsatzgruppen.

This sort of thing is consistent with the rest of Scientology. It's basically a slew of childish terminology that (badly) imitates the kind of terminology you'd find in e.g. psychology. I tried reading that book Dianetics once, back in high school. The mother of one of my friends had fallen into it after this friend's father died, and I thought I'd check it out. It was laughably sophomoric even from the perspective of a reasonably bright high school student. Too dopey, in fact, to sustain interest past the first couple of sections. Anybody who can't see through that ridiculous garbage is in a bad way indeed.

And my friend's mother? Well, see, she was pressured to keep buying more and more materials--books, audio tapes, video tapes, etc. She eventually had thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of them. She also eventually literally lost the farm. Coincidence?

On the other hand, I guess I didn't see that it was all that much crazier than other religions with which I'm familiar... And I'll bet scientology has killed fewer people than most other religions. So I guess there's that...

26 Comments:

Blogger Michelle K said...

Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.
--L. Ron Hubbard

4:33 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Another SP. Don't worry, you're on the list. There's just a little bit of a backlog right now.

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'll bet scientology has killed fewer people than most other religions."

Forgive me, but that's a really stupid thing to say. Mormonism hasn't killed many people, nor Rastafarianism. The Moonies and the Way International have never started a war. What do these groups have in common?

1) They're all less than 1,000 years old (most are less than 100).

2) They've never been institutionalized in a society.

3) They've never had any political power.


Fast forward a few centuries, and you may have to eat those words.


Joel

2:14 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, see, um, that would be humor.

But if you want to take it seriously, then, well, my comment is perfectly defensible--the HAVE killed fewer people. No claims are made about the future.

The serious point in the joke, though, was that, though we non-religious folk can deride the scientology crowd, I'm not sure how religious types have the standing to do so.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

That's the modern western view, but religious feeling is inherent to man's nature, Richard Dawkins' blatherings notwithstanding. There are many things in man's nature that we'd likely be better off without.

"Religion," whatever that means, has its own butcher's bill to be sure, but in its absence, we get things like communism and the French Revolution. Get out your calculator.

Paganism doesn't make out much better, as we get Hitler, the Aztecs, Genghis Khan and Attila. Neither were the Romans pussycats, and we all know about the quite reasonable Athenians' slaughter of the Melians if we read our Thucydides, which we all have.

Neither do the children of the Enlightenment show very well, if we consider the French and in particular British histories of colonialism. And if I'm to believe the US is a secular state, it was that state who did in the Native Americans, not theocracy.

Even if Dawkins were correct, that religious feeling is a "meme," some sort of infection that can be eradicated with proper social manipulation, men will always find justifications to kill each other, even in the name of freedom or unity.

And although I do not think Dawkins is correct, since if you poke around a bit, there's no God involved, I would attribute the doings of Scientology to the life of the mind, not of the spirit, if such a thing indeed exists.

If I get saddled with the Crusaders, which I do (and not unfairly), this bunch is all yours, buddy.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, religious feelings aren't "inherent in mankind," since lots of us don't have them.

Unless you just mean something like feelings of awe in the face of the sublimity of the universe. But since there's no particular reason for that to have anything to do with gods or spirits or leprechachauns or anything, it wouldn't make sense to identify those feelings as religious.

I say all this despite the fact that I think there might be something mind-like about even non-living aspects of the universe. I don't *believe* there is, but I wouldn't conclusively rule it out.

Thing about e.g. communism is that their atheism was incidental. They didn't do their dastardly deeds in the name of atheism, and many of them were still closet christians. The crimes of Christianity were specifically done for religious purposes, in the name of God.

The Nazies...well, there was some half-hearted pagan futzing around at high levels and in the SS, but mostly they were christians. And the anti-Semitism pretty clearly had its roots in christian/religious intolerance. But, as in the case of communism, this strikes me more as a case of someone with belief x doing something evil rather than someone doing something evil because of belief x. That is, it doesn't seem quite reasonable to attribute the evil of the Nazis to christianity (and even less reasonabe to attribute it to paganism).

One problem with christianity is that it isn't satisfied with having been a myth containing some good ideas that constitutes a stepping-stone to better ideas, but has to try to be the Final Truth On Everything. I actually think that it was a great idea for 2000 years ago, an idea which, though it's motivated many terrible things, has also been good in many ways. But it's long since time to take what's right in it and abandon the rest.

So sez me, anyway.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, religion is inherent in mankind. Religion is what sociologists call a "panhuman characteristic" - i.e., every society, everywhere in the world, at every time in human history, has had some form of religion. Atheism and agnosticism have always been individual phenomena, never cultural ones.

Joel

10:18 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

If some humans don't have property F, I guess it's unclear to me how we can say that F-ness is "inherent in mankind."

Perhaps more importantly, being innate (or inherent in mankind or whatever) doesn't make something right.

Heck, I think that there are types of religious inclination that are actually good. I just can't see how anyone can claim that ALL such inclinations are good. And there's not much chance of arguing that any of those inclinations--esp. the good ones--are universal (in the sense of being in everybody).

Too bad there isn't a successor religion to the Abrahamic faiths that captures their insights but corrects for their mistakes.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

A lot has happened in 2000 years of theology. You'd be surprised.

For the record, Nazism wasn't Christian, and communism's millions of victims were sacrificed to a materialist vision of the common good. You'd have to go to college to believe otherwise.

The thought arises that perhaps Dawkins has it backwards, that atheism is the meme. It's quite common among the, for lack of a better term, educated.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, Nazism wasn't pagan, either. Rather, most Nazis were christian, their most notable prejudice basically emerged from christianity, and their most notable intellectual apologist (Heidegger) was a crypto-christian.

Which is not to say that christianity should be blamed for Nazism.

But, again, the communists weren't evil because they were atheists, though they were evil and they were atheists.

I'm not a Dawkins fan. He treats religion as pure pathology, when I think that the God hypothesis is a perfectly respectable hypothesis--*qua hypothesis*. It's the first hypothesis to occur to the inquiring mind (sez Peirce), and, as such, deserves respect. But it ultimately doesn't pan out--not in its more simplistic/anthropomorphic versions.

Anyway, the reason atheism is rampant among philosophers isn't because it's some catchy "meme" (ugh...not wild about that concept either), but rather because no known arguments in support of the God hypothesis work.

But re: materialism: interesting to note that nobody but the most scientifically illiterate can be a *materialist* anymore without at least some nervousness. Heck, there may not BE any matter. Just...probability distributions or topological distortions of space-time...or whatever the heck the physicists are saying these days...

Anyway, though there's been lots of christian theology in 2000 years, they still cling too compulsively to the original books. Some good ideas there, no doubt...but if one sees them as more than stepping-stones to something better, then the trouble starts, IMHO.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

...no known arguments in support of the God hypothesis work...


Neither do arguments for love or even justice work, except indirectly. And forget mercy.

And although your personal witness that you're devoid of religious feeling is valid, it also ignores the witness of what appears to be the great majority of human beings, living and dead.

"..the feeling that disbelief always has the right of way still persists; it can be noticed in almost any philosophical controversy."---Mary Midgely

That we observe the indirect evidence of God in religious experience is as much confirmation as we'll get. We cannot prove infinity, either, yet that we conceive of it points to (yet still cannot prove) its existence.

As for Christian theology, the anthropomorphism is undeniable, but labeling it simplistic based on the Cliff's Notes strikes me as unfair.

If we were to discuss this issue, which we won't, my guess is it would look like this. In the least, one cannot overlook the chain of Aquinas-Suarez-Grotius in the development of the western concept of human rights and dignity.

There's a reason Jefferson had to cheat with a Creator in his assertion of human rights. Unaided reason cannot derive them.


(And I think you're on thin ice associating Nazism with Christianity via Heidegger, even indirectly. For one thing, as his life of the mind draws him away from the church, it leads him to Hitler.

And if Martin Luther's anti-Semitism had been all that influential, the Holocaust would have happened 400 years before it did. His was theological, not racial, for one thing.)

(Crypto-Christian? I can sort of hang with that with Kierkegaard, or a Voegelin, not Heidegger, if you're interested, which you're not. But since you inspire me to look things up, I pass 'em on.)

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For the record, Nazism wasn't Christian" is most definitely not true:

http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F50613FC3B5D0C758CDDA80894DD404482

However, this statement is also true:

"Which is not to say that christianity should be blamed for Nazism."

Religion can and has been a force for tremendous good, but can also be a force for immense harm and destruction.

I agree with Tom's comment that throughout history, people have always sought and found reasons to kill each other. My concern with organized religion in particular, though, is that it offers an especially potent tool for organizing masses of people into groups intent on purging the *other*, with the understood premise being that those with the ultimate *answer* need not concern themselves with minor details like respect for basic human rights or even the condition of life in this world, since the beckoning eternity is so much more important. It's at that point that it becomes possible to justify almost anything.

Again, not that this is exclusive to religion as an organizing ideology - Communism certainly lent itself well to the need for a few broken eggs to make the omelet. The difference is that at least reality can get a toehold by pointing the relative prosperity of free vs. Communist nations. When one attempts to keep score based primarily on faith, can he adduce anything other than the belief that the non-believers are suffering eternal damnation while those who supported the cause live on in the wonderful ever after?

If he resorts to using reality-based evidence of beneficial outcomes for mankind, he then needs to explain why, if we can show good outcomes as a matter of course or policy, why the need to resort to religion in the first place? Sort of a divine command theory refutation writ large.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I apologize for this, but realized after posting that some may not be able to read the NYT article without subscription, so here is the text:

"PUBLIC LIVES; Warning From a Student of Democracy's Collapse
E-MAIL Print Permissions Save

By CHRIS HEDGES
Published: January 6, 2005
FRITZ STERN, a refugee from Hitler's Germany and a leading scholar of European history, startled several of his listeners when he warned in a speech about the danger posed in this country by the rise of the Christian right. In his address in November, just after he received a prize presented by the German foreign minister, he told his audience that Hitler saw himself as ''the instrument of providence'' and fused his ''racial dogma with a Germanic Christianity.''

''Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics,'' he said of prewar Germany, ''but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas.''

Dr. Stern's speech, given during a ceremony at which he got the prize from the Leo Baeck Institute, a center focused on German Jewish history, was certainly provocative. The fascism of Nazi Germany belongs to a world so horrendous it often seems to defy the possibility of repetition or analogy. But Dr. Stern, 78, the author of books like ''The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology'' and university professor emeritus at Columbia University, has devoted a lifetime to analyzing how the Nazi barbarity became possible. He stops short of calling the Christian right fascist but his decision to draw parallels, especially in the uses of propaganda, was controversial.

''When I saw the speech my eyes lit up,'' said John R. MacArthur, whose book ''Second Front'' examines wartime propaganda. ''The comparison between the propagandistic manipulation and uses of Christianity, then and now, is hidden in plain sight. No one will talk about it. No one wants to look at it.''

Dr. Stern was a schoolboy in 1933 when Hitler was appointed the German chancellor. He ran home from school that January afternoon clutching a special edition of the newspaper to deliver to his father, a prominent physician.

''I was young,'' he said, ''but I knew it was very bad news.''

The street fighting in his native Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland) between Communists and Nazis, the collapse of German democracy and the ruthless suppression of all opposition marked his childhood, and were images and experiences that would propel him forward as a scholar.

''I saw one of the last public demonstrations against Hitler,'' he said. ''Men, women and children walked through the street and chanted 'Hunger! Hunger! Hunger!'''

His paternal grandparents had converted to Christianity. His parents were baptized at birth, as were Mr. Stern and his older sister. But this did not save the Sterns from persecution. Nazi racial laws still classified them as Jews.

''It was only Nazi anti-Semitism that made me conscious of my Jewish heritage,'' he said. ''I had been brought up in a secular Christian fashion, celebrating Christmas and Easter. My father had to explain it to me.''

His schoolmates were swiftly recruited into Hitler youth groups and he and other Jews were taunted and excluded from some activities.

''Many of my classmates found the organized party experience, which included a heavy dose of flag waving and talk of national strength, very exhilarating,'' said Dr. Stern, who lost an aunt and an uncle in the Holocaust. ''It was something I never forgot.''

His family fled to New York in 1938 when he was 12. He eventually went to Columbia University intending to study medicine. But his passion for the past, along with questions about what happened to his homeland, caused him to switch his focus to history. He wanted to grasp how democracies disintegrate. He wanted to uncover the warning signs other democracies should heed. He wanted to write about the seductiveness of authoritarian movements, which he once described in an essay, ''National Socialism as Temptation.''

''There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever invented,'' he said. ''There was a longing for a new authoritarianism with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater communal belongingness. There are some similarities in the mood then and the mood now, although also significant differences.''

HE warns of the danger in an open society of ''mass manipulation of public opinion, often mixed with mendacity and forms of intimidation.'' He is a passionate defender of liberalism as ''manifested in the spirit of the Enlightenment and the early years of the American republic.''

''The radical right and the radical left see liberalism's appeal to reason and tolerance as the denial of their uniform ideology,'' he said. ''Every democracy needs a liberal fundament, a Bill of Rights enshrined in law and spirit, for this alone gives democracy the chance for self-correction and reform. Without it, the survival of democracy is at risk. Every genuine conservative knows this.''

Dr. Stern, who has two children from a previous marriage, is married to Elizabeth Sifton, a book publisher. They live in New York. He is writing a book called ''Five Germanys I Have Known,'' a combination of memoirs and reflections that looks at Weimar, Nazi Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, East Germany and unified Germany. He is widely read in Germany and has won its highest literary prize.

''The Jews in Central Europe welcomed the Russian Revolution,'' he said, ''but it ended badly for them. The tacit alliance between the neo-cons and the Christian right is less easily understood. I can imagine a similarly disillusioning outcome.'"

4:14 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Thanks for reprinting the article. I believe Stern is making the "crypto-" argument, where he's free to cherrypick similarities while ignoring fundamental differences.

I brought up Luther because his anti-Semitism would not include converted Jews; Nazism was racial, pagan, if you will. (We might say that of Shintoism, which carried on similar depravities.)

Which is why I questioned what "religion" means anyway. Look up Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It's a stunning story, and one that needs to be told even more than William Wilberforce's.

Nazism seems to owe more to (a perversion of?) Nietzsche and the ubermensch than any perversion (!) of Christianity. Beyond good and evil, indeed.

(For Stern to link the commies and the neo-cons in that final paragraph is pure garbage. And for the NYT, in support of Stern's thesis, to quote John R. MacArthur, publisher of the mid-to-far left Harper's magazine without explaining who he is, indicates why people might take the above article as fact and use it to "prove" Nazism and Christianity are birds of a feather.)

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I don't think they were NECESSARILY birds of a feather, and neither does Stern really, if you read him carefully, as I have two of his books.

Here, he says "There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever invented...There was a longing for a new authoritarianism with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater communal belongingness."

So while I think he says Nazism and Christianity were definitely related, it wasn't NECESSARY that they were related. In that regard I agree with him; if it hadn't been religion (or religous background), it would have been something else. Which gets back to the other point you made about people always finding a convenient excuse to mistreat and even kill each other.

You should also excuse him if he's especially sensitive to seeing similar trends to that he experienced firsthand. That is a similar sentiment to those survivors who catch a whiff of anti-Semitism from time to time.

And his *linking* of commies and neocons is not necessarily making an argument of equivalence, because he specifically says that the alliance between neocons and the Christian right is not "easily understood".

9:43 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

As a member of the former and occasionally of the latter (I'm a Catholic, not an evangelical), I understand the alliance pretty well. If you or Dr. Stern have any questions, I'll do my best to field them. ;-)

I think Dr. Stern is referring to postwar anti-Semitism in Poland per the Jewish alliance with communism, altho it's hard to tell from his and your remarks. But associating that with American evangelical/neo-con support for modern Israel strikes me as unfounded, if not a gratuitous slander.

In fact, after nigh 2000 years of enmity towards Judaism, Christianity, both the evangelical and papist varieties, seems to be coming around to Walker Percy's question: "Why are there no Hittites in New York City?"

Perhaps there's something there after all, as one of my blogbrothers muses here.

And you'll find me no apologist for Europe. Bonapartism, a weird mix of reestablishmentarianism and evangelism for the principles of the Enlightenment, was a fascism for which even Frenchmen would fight. Go figure.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Interesting discussion that I haven't had time to read carefully enough.

One philosophical point quickly in response to Tom's assertion that the reason Jefferson added that bit about humans being "endowed by their creator" with rights:

Tom says: he did that b/c unaided reason can't derive the rights.

But if that's true, then the rights don't exist. And that's moral nihilism.

Some theists like to make the following bad argument:

(1) Reason can't ground moral obligations
therefore:
(2) Morality must be grounded in God's commands

That argument won't work, for reasons we've discussed over and over again here: God can't just fabricate morality by fiat. The divine command theory is dead, and basically everybody knows that. (Almost every decent philosopher, anyway.)

The following argument is good, though:

(1) God's commands can't ground morality
therefore
(2) Either morality is grounded in something else, or nihilism is true.

The leading candidate currently is Kant, though Aristotle and Mill are close runners-up.

Jefferson was a better statesman than philosopher...but, also, he was writing rhetorically. I doubt that he believed that the DCT could work.

Even most theists have abandoned the DCT in favor of e.g. some version of natural law theory. Problem is, natural law theories lie on a spectrum. On one end are versions in which God plays a crucial role in grounding morality, and those views fall prey to the same fatal problems that killed the DCT. On the other end of the spectrum lies e.g. Kant, and God plays a peripheral role there at most.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

"We're all God's chillun" isn't DCT.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"we are endowed with rights by our creator" IS DCT.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

It would hardly be characteristic of Jefferson to say "do x" (or don't do x) because God said so.

Now, Jefferson saddles us with an apparently theological argument about the essence of man, but let's not unnecessarily yield the right of way to the skeptics, let alone the nihilists. ;-)

"A universal feeling, whether well- or ill-grounded, cannot be safely ignored," said another great American named Lincoln. Although you object to "religious feeling" being considered universal, it is for practical purposes universal, and we, through a little anthropology, can account for the outliers with "a love of the good."

"...and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all, because they offend thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love."---from the Catholic Act of Contrition

In its purest form, then, religious feeling is the love of the good, anthropomorphized (if you must) into (a) God.

Jefferson was talked out of describing the truth of his assertion about man's essence into "self-evident" from "sacred," which is the accurate term, and puts us back into theological territory. But altho things like the Bible have God uttering tautologies like "keep the sacred sacred," anthropology tells us man had a sense of the sacred well before there were Bibles.

Why love your neighbor and more precisely, the stranger, be just to him, respect his rights? (Or see him as an equal, as a fellow God's chillun, in the first place?) It's not fear of disobeying divine commands, but more a sense of gratitude and love towards Something other than the stranger, to whom you owe nothing.

Anthropology would support that we (some daily, some on alternate Thursdays) unnecessarily do good to the stranger. And, may we add, seldom unnecessarily do him ill. We need not articulate (a) God to explain this, but the phenomenon goes far beyond utilitarian or even pragmatic explanations.

And so, do I attribute respecting each other's human rights to religious feeling? Yes, I do. There are too many occasions in history where the powerful, who held all the cards, folded their hand to the powerless.

Like Jefferson, Lincoln's statesmanship outshone his philosophical chops, but to quote yet another great American, you don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows. Not often enough, but humans are kind to each other, and respecting human rights and dignity goes beyond justice, it's kindness, and a kindness borne of gratitude and a love of the good.

(Thanks for the colluquy, WS. Always sets me to thinkin'.)

10:29 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"It would hardly be characteristic of Jefferson to say "do x" (or don't do x) because God said so."

Maybe not, but that's the only way to interpret the claim that a creator endows us with rights. We didn't have them before he gave them to us, he made them up, they exist by fiat.

Which is crazy.

So maybe that's not what Jefferson meant to say, nor what he thought, but it's pretty much what he said.

There are all sorts of different theories, but it's unsupported speculation to attribute those other theories to Jefferson on the basis of his assertion of THIS theory.

Again: he was just writing rhetorically....and he knew his audience.

And, again, as for the "universality" of religious feeling: it ain't. It may be widespread, but it isn't universal.

But, of course, we don't even know whether it's natural...most people have it pushed on them. If it weren't pushed on almost everyone, far fewer people would have it.

But the theist shouldn't bank on EITHER the DCT, OR the "universality" of religious feeling. Neither is crucial--nor even very helpful--to his case.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

The love of the good isn't universal? What of kindness, of love; what of mercy?

I see these as transcendent goods, goods which we observe man respond to, a response that brute reason alone cannot explain.

Yes, I call that "religious feeling," not as a reductionist term, but as an attempt to discern essence. Plato is quite full of "religious feeling."

So too, human rights, even when endowed by a Creator, are a question of essence, not fiat. Logic or moral reasoning tells you what to do to respect that essence, not a bible. The Aquinas-Suarez-Grotius axis derives human rights in the Second Millennium Anno Domini; it does not parrot a scriptural formulation. (Because it's not there.)

We're about to slip off your main page, WS. A pity. We were just getting somewhere.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Huh. As if I were on to something new.

A great many things which we have been bred up in the belief of, from our cradles, (and are notions grown familiar, and, as it were, natural to us, under the Gospel) we take for unquestionable obvious truths, and easily demonstrable; without considering how long we might have been in doubt or ignorance of them, had revelation been silent. And many are beholden to revelation, who do not acknowledge it.

---John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity


I reckon I've really been on about some forensic philosophy, if you follow me. We have little understanding of how tradition, honed by reason, brought us to where we are today.

As you intimate about Jefferson, I lean toward Locke being a hedonistic sophist.

That subtracts not a whit from the truth of their rhetoric, which found a resonance and a life of its own in the hearts of men, far beyond any appeal to their authority or their poor power to add or detract.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I agree about the power of the rhetoric--even *I* get choked up at "they were endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights" etc. etc.

I actually think that God is a good heuristic device, and find appeals to God powerfully moving sometimes. I just don't think they're literally true.

So I'm kind of a fan of "ceremonial deism." But don't tell my friends, or I'll get kicked out of the He-Philosopher Jesus-Haters Club...

2:48 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Is "ceremonial deism" something like "the noble lie?" You Platonist, you.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous The Dark Avenger said...

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.

G. B. Shaw


Businesses may come and go, but religion will last forever, for in no other endeavor does the consumer blame himself for product failure.


Doon, National Lampoon


In an early class, one of the students asked me if I believed in God. I replied, 'I don't think so.' And then proceeded to wail on the theme, using material from this column of some weeks ago, in which I observed the perpetuation of insanity on this planet through the mediums of Arabs-vs-Jews, Catholics-vs-Protestants, Southern Baptists-vs-Everyone. I said I felt if 'God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he them,' (Genesis 2:27, King James's italics, not mine) then we were God. And when Man (my capitalization, not King James's) in his most creative, his most loving, his most gentle and most human, then he is most God-like. The student said he would pray for my immortal soul. He also asked for my address, so he could send me some literature on the subject of God. I thanked him politely and told him I'd gotten all the literature I could handle on the subject from a certain Thomas Aquinas. ~Harlan Ellison

11:09 PM  

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