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Archive for the ‘Kinunity’ Category

Whatever happened to the Prince of Peace?

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The UK Election and Defence

’Mark Ferguson of LabourList wrote that today several papers had splashed on a particularly unpleasant and personal attack on Ed Miliband, the contending Labour Leader, from Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon. Fallon’s claim that Miliband would get rid of Trident, Britain’s US controlled nuclear defence system, to do a deal with the SNP (the Scottish National Party) is nonsense. He has said on numerous occasions in the past two weeks (in his Paxman TV interview, in an interview with the People and in his leaked debate notes) that he favours continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.’

Surely this is another example of Miliband making the less principled choice—the same choice as that offered by the right wing Tories! The cost of these four u-boats, as Fallon significantly called them, and their accompanying nuclear armed rockets for the UK is enormous, and it is money the social services and the NHS could do with. I do not budge from my preference for Labour rather than five more years of Tory robbery, but Miliband needs to find some principles from somewhere, preferably from the British working class. Labour will not bring in the socialist millennium, but with Labour in power there is more probability of a determined push from working class activists and institutions moving us and Labour in the preferred direction. In the words of Robert Griffiths reporting to the CPB Congress:

The period up to, during and immediately after the general election is likely to prove decisive in helping us to assess whether the labour movement can and will reclaim the Labour Party or whether major sections of the movement will have to consider what steps should be taken to re-establish a mass party of labour, one capable of winning general elections, forming a government and enacting far-reaching reforms in the interests of the working class. In order to create the most favourable conditions for resolving this question, and to advance the immediate interests of working-class people, an upsurge is needed in mass activity and action. That is why it’s so important that we discuss the priorities and line of march of the trade union movement, the People’s Assembly, the women’s movement, including the National Assembly of Women, and the peace movement.

The electorate have been duped into believing democracy is a five yearly cross on a ballot paper, but it took centuries of mass struggle to get that far, and it does not mean the struggle has ended. As the General Secretary says, it is time to renew it, and that means working class families demonstrating on the streets what they expect of the party they have elected, and that they will not tolerate any more of the BS we have been given by parties of both complexions over the last 40 years.

Let us stand up for ourselves! We can begin now by demanding the waste of our taxes on pointless but hugely expensive “defence” systems should cease, or we shall be canvassing for a new socialist party not merely a new Labour Party leader.

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Written by mikemagee

9 April, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Catholic Church to Lose Historic Property Tax Exemption in Italy

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The Santa Brigida convent in Piazza Farnese run as a bed and breakfast

In December 2011, after new austerity measures were adopted in the country, 130,000 Italians signed an online petition urging the government to strip the Church of its tax exemption. The move could net Italy revenues of 500 million to 2 billion euros annually, municipal government associations said. The figure is 6 billion euros a year according to UAAR, the Italian Humanist Association. The extra income from previously exempt properties in Rome alone, including hotels, restaurants and sports centers, could reach 25.5 million euros a year, La Repubblica daily newspaper reported.

Marco Catalano, a 35 year old shopkeeper in Rome, who goes to church twice a month, told the New York Times:

It was time that they paid, too, with all the exemptions they’ve had throughout the years. They own the most beautiful buildings in downtown Rome, on Italian soil, and rent them out at market prices. They don’t give them for free or at low prices for charity.

Written by mikemagee

14 October, 2012 at 12:02 am

Albert Einstein’s 1954 Letter Concerning God

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… The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.

In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew the privilege of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision, probably as the first one. And the animistic interpretations of the religions of nature are in principle not annulled by monopolization. With such walls we can only attain a certain self-deception, but our moral efforts are not furthered by them. On the contrary.

Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, i.e; in our evaluations of human behavior. What separates us are only intellectual ‘props’ and ‘rationalization’ in Freud’s language. Therefore I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.

With friendly thanks and best wishes,
Yours, A. Einstein

Written by mikemagee

15 August, 2012 at 10:38 pm

The Meaning of the Spiritual

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Spiritual Intelligence?

Mark Vernon is a journalist with an interesting website about science, religion and human sociabilility, which has in it a test called the “spiritual intelligence test”, bizarrely called the SQ test, not the SIQ test, leaving you wondering where the “intelligence”, the “I”, went! IQ is the abbreviation for intelligence quotient, because it is the mental age divided by the actual age, and so shows whether anyone is ahead or behind the average in mental or intellectual development. It was meant as an educational aid, for testing people as they developed, and so becomes a fixed value in adults simply showing whether they are above or below average intelligence.

The SQ or SIQ test is not a quotient, and so there is no need for the Q at all, and it seems to be meant simply to draw attention to the supposed parallel with IQ. When you have done the test, you discover that it is really a test of humility, the scores of 0-100 apparently being on a scale from humble to overweening arrogance. My own score, answered as honestly as possible, which meant several answers could not be given because none of the three choices were adequate, was 45. Answering them all in what I thought was an obsessively scientific way gave me a score of 52, and answering in the way I thought religious believers would answer gave me a score of 72.

Doubtless, it is all meant as a bit of fun, and not seriously, but such bits of fun have a way of being taken seriously by half the population, probably the half with IQs below 100. Whether that is so or not, it is true that a large number of people think that spiritual is a meaningful word, and Mark Vernon seems to be among them. It is a word that everyone wants to use, largely to show their anti-reductionist credentials, but few can agree upon when it comes to discussing meaning. A definition from a dictionary has it that spiritual means pertaining to the human spirit as opposed to the material or physical.

So, it seems to be equivalent to imaginary, for what is not material or physical other than thoughts in the mind? It is a certain bet that most religious people would not count spiritual as meaning imaginary. No, religious people, think spiritual things are somehow real, even though they are not physical or material. In other words what is spiritual is somehow supernatural. Spirituality, to the believer, is supernaturality. Those who claim not to be religious but nevertheless believe that spiritual things are real in some such supernatural way are secretly religious.

There is a feeling, often described as awe, not meaning pure fear as it once meant, but a frightening sense of wonder, that people sometimes get and often when they see something entirely wonderful in nature, such as a stunning vista or spectacle, or a wonderful event, such as the birth of a child, a ferocious storm, and so on. The same feeling can come about unexpectedly, when it is called mystical, and is attributed, for no sound reason, as signifying the nearness of God. The feeling is utterly natural, and most people have had it in its milder form. According to surveys, even about a third of people have had the mystical experience itself. There is absolutely no reason why God or spirituality should be associated with this feeling. It merits attention, certainly, but is much more likely to be the sense of unity suddenly felt of ourselves with the world we live in.

Usually, we think purely selfishly. Self is a characteristic which has evolved to help us survive. If we did not have it, we would be much more altruistic if simply because we would realize how unimportant each of us individually is in the vast scheme of things. Self makes us seem more important than anything else, and therefore worth preserving. That is what spirituality is. It is a moment in which the sense of self dissolves leaving us knowing how wonderful the totality of Nature is. It is related in a sense to schizophrenia, when the self breaks down pathologically leaving us unable to even function as ourselves!

In a temporary, or better still, if it is possible, in a controlled, way it is a marvellous feeling that makes us appreciate God in the purely Einsteinian sense of the wonder of Nature. We are truly humbled before this purely natural interpretation of the divine. The opposite is to put yourself, or your beliefs, which are simply part of yourself, before it. Spirituality, then, is the sense humans have of kinunity. The whole world is kin. That being so, the spiritual person is the one who does least to harm the world we live in. It is the basis of Adelphiasophism. To harm it is to harm ourselves.

Updated from the original post on 27 November, 2006.

Written by mikemagee

8 July, 2012 at 3:38 pm

The Religion of Sensible Men

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The historian, J A Froude, told this story in his essay, A Plea for Free Discussion (1863):

“What religion are you, Mr Rogers?”, asked a lady once.
“What religion, madam? I am of the religion of all sensible men.”
“And what is that?” she persisted.
“All sensible men, madam, keep that to themselves.”

Would that Christians were sensible men, like Mr Rogers.

Written by mikemagee

8 July, 2012 at 12:53 am

Why Did the English Levellers Think the Bible was their Guide?

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Levellers Day: Still Celebrated

Prominent historian, Christopher Hill (The World Turned Upside Down, 1975), reports the words of a Leveller in Chelmsford, which show that English workers at the time of the English Revolution, around 1650, considered the Bible to have been a working man’s political, even revolutionary, handbook! The Levellers believed in the sovereignty of the people, were committed to religious toleration and wanted democratic control of the army through representatives called “Agitators”. He wrote:

The relation of master and servant has no ground in the New Testament. In Christ there is neither bond nor free. Ranks such as those of the peerage and gentry are ethnical and heathenish distinctions. There is no ground in nature or scripture why one man should have £1,000 per annum, another not a pound. The common people have been kept under blindness and ignorance and have remained servants and slaves to the nobility and gentry. But God hath now opened their eyes and discovered unto them their Christian liberty.

Sadly, now God has closed the eyes of millions of US Protestants, who think that the bible, far from favoring the poor, favors the megarich, while the poor deserve to be abandoned economically if not and physically mistreated—and so they vote Republican. The contrast between the actual practical morals of Christ, and this US version of Christianity, championing people abuse and oppression, has largely been brought about by right wing political schemers calling themselves pastors, for their own gain, and to confuse and disarm the poor. It has been done by telling believers:

  1. they need to interpret the bible in an absurdly complicated way for it to be read as inerrant, which they teach it necessarily is because it is God’s own work, and God cannot be wrong, and so it has to be read the way the pastors say!
  2. to direct their attention to Paul and away from Christ because the Jesus Christ of the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, is perfectly easy to understand, and very pointedly favors the poor, whereas Paul is much more confused and confusing, so suits the obfuscating vicars and ministers all the more.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ blessed the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful and the peacemakers, and offered no blessings at all for the rich in spirit, the arrogant, the cruel and the troublemakers. To be blessed meant to be made holy so that they would be guided by God into His kingdom. It could not be plainer that Jesus favored the poor to the exclusion of the rich. Indeed, Christ tells a rich man he has to give his wealth to the poor to be saved. So riches are no blessing, rather they are the way that those who are not blessed betray their greedy cruel natures to the world at large.

Written by mikemagee

30 June, 2012 at 1:43 am

Morality Exam for Republicans

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The Brotherhood of ManMoral Examination

True or false?

 

Christians believe that, as humans, we are all of us sons and daughters of God, created by the Almighty as His children in His own image, and therefore we are, every one of us, brothers and sisters under God in the brotherhood of man.

What are the political and social personal consequences of your answer, and are there any consequences regarding your own personal attitude towards other people?