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Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 12:56amSanction this postReply
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Linz, it pleases me a great deal to know that you've realized this. There is a lot to learn from people like Pope John Paul II, both as individuals and as promoters of a philosophy.

Alec




Post 1

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 1:08amSanction this postReply
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Just a stylistic quibble here Linz...  Methinks you mean Pope John Paul II, not Pope John Paul 11!

Yours pedantically




Post 2

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 1:47amSanction this postReply
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Brilliant Linz, I agree completely about JPII's sense of life. Add to which his fervour in fighting totalitarianism, as discussed in another thread. And despite the fact the he was no longer anywhere near as great an influence on my life as he might once have been (plus a certain irritation on my part about the somewhat morbid coverage on some of the UK news channels the past few days), now that he's gone I can't help but feel some slight sense of loss at a great man's passing.

It'll seem strange having someone else as Pope...what are the odds on some modern secular minded Thomist with an even better SOL taking over?

MH

(Edited by Matthew Humphreys on 4/03, 1:48am)




Post 3

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 4:48amSanction this postReply
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I felt some sadness at the death of Pope John Paul II because he had a certain amount of charisma, when you saw him on TV he came across as being a nice guy. It feels like the end of the era as well, he has been the only Pope I have been aware of in my lifetime. He may well be one of the first Popes to ever die of natural causes. Popes are not normally chosen for their longevity.

The ironic thing to point out is that the Catholic Church has had a long history of capitalism, albeit a very corrupt version. Up to very recently it was common practice to be able to "purchase" your way to heaven by giving the Church the right amount of money. You could "buy" the position of Bishop and Cardinal and the position of Pope was usually achieved by bribing the right cardinals with offers of church positions and promoting relatives.

That is one of the reasons that most Popes were chosen at an old age or if they survived too long they were usually poisoned in office, because sooner or later someone else wanted power. The Popes waged wars and acquired vast amounts of wealth and land like any other type of King. Most often it is highly questionable whether Popes in fact even believed in God because many were so unscrupulous in their ambition to power. They were hardly ever celibate in their lives either. To them God and the Church were a means to an ends. There was an official church ban on "usury" and yet the Catholic Church were some of the largest customers of banks with Popes and Cardinals secretly borrowing money. The Vatican always had it's own official bank too, it still does to this day.

That is why anal retentives like Luther rebelled against the Catholic Church, because he saw all this corruption as merely a money-making and power hungry exercise, which it was and probably still is. The position of Pope and his Cardinals with their seat in Rome was a direct inheritance of the old roles of Emperor and Senators in the Roman Empire.

More spirituality needed for SOULO?
How about we rename this group GWBSO = George W Bush Spiritual Objectivists? :-)

(Edited by Marcus Bachler on 4/03, 8:42am)




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Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 5:14amSanction this postReply
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THE CLOSING OF THE WESTERN MIND, by Charles Freeman gives an excellent overview of the rise of Christianity and how political is always was.... and yes, 'Real World Spirituality' is needed more than ever as a top-priority of Objectivism....



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Post 5

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 5:25amSanction this postReply
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Further thoughts - while it is true that there seemed to be a reaching, as it were, within this religious organization, for 'the best within', let's not forget it has always been within the notion of being born as flawed, crippled persons called to strive against impossible odds for impossible dreams - which were supposed to come after the death.....  the truth is that the rise of civilization came in spite of this religion, not because of it....  it came from the inativeness of living beings seeking survival within a difficult and seemingly unfavorable world, a world in which all manner of progress was only grudgingly accepted, and only so when it was too obvious to ignore.... 



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Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 5:29amSanction this postReply
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I am sad for his death, although I never disagreed with the pope more than in his last years. I also think he might have wanted to die, because his illness has kept him from having a strong grip on reality.

This pope has been travelling a lot and thus tried to change the appearance to the world, but at home, he was more traditionalist than anyone else.
His hard stand on abortion and his sometimes old fashioned stand against women were problems that kept me far away from catholicism.

He was a critic of communism as well as the western materialistic world. What I think will be the problem of his successor will be the urge to be even more traditionalistic. If you look at the 15 or so potential choices to popeship, you will see that none is going to embrace a more modern standard on values and moral.
And unbroken will be the criticism of total capitalism by his successor, because the Italian Kardinäle will see to it that they get a reactionary pope.

John Paul II was very difficult in regard to ideologies. He was pro-Reagan and his fight against communism, but he also embraced Dictator Augusto Pinochet 1987.




Post 7

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 7:52amSanction this postReply
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Hi Linz,

Great article!

Just a tangential comment on one thing you talked about: although I don't mean to diminish the continuing influence of the Catholic religion around the world, I wouldn't be too concerned by the interest in Pope John Paul II's passing. After all, a significant portion of the world followed the death of Princess Diana, but this doesn't mean that there exists much support for a return to monarchy. Big events like the Pope's death tends to wake people up, but they'll soon return to their normal operating modes (for good or bad!).




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Post 8

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 8:05amSanction this postReply
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Lindsay, I think this is a brilliant article that goes to the heart of the matter- It makes me think of Mae West's famous comment when confronted by a man disgusted by her loose ways, who said, "I want you to know that I have never smoked, or caroused, or have been promiscuous, and tomorrow I celebrate my 80th birthday". Mae West said, "How?"
A problem shared by Catholics and Objectivists is how can we be true to our principles and still enjoy life? John Paul II "enjoyed" his suffering, because, to my mind, Catholicism is based on anti-life premises. I didn't think much of his reality, but I LOVED his spirit. Objectivism offers a life based on reason, but you ain't got nowhere if it ain't enjoyable! I stayed away from Objectivists for a long time because they were such a dour lot. These days, I am practically wallowing in Objectivists and Catholics!
So, tipping my hat to Lindsay and to Marcus, I salute SOULO- Sense of Uncompromising Life Objectivists.
Reality with Spirit!
Matter that Matters!
Camraderie without the Comrade!
"I" without the "ism"!
Let's drink to the We of I's!



Post 9

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 8:17amSanction this postReply
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Let's enjoy your most important point: we need to enhance and encourage the spiritual. Most people are aware that reason is practical and we as objectivists take pride in the power of our philosophy. And most are aware that it is moral in the sense that you can pick and chose the right course of action. I think the awareness of the spiritual nature of living this life well doesn’t quite resonate with some objectivists … yet.

 

Still, I’m sure most would remember their experience of reading Rand’s fiction as spiritual: an awakening, a reaffirmation, an inspiration, a challenge, etc. Great article!

 




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Post 10

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 8:52amSanction this postReply
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Marcus writes:

More spirituality needed for SOULO?
How about we rename this group GWBSO = George W Bush Spiritual Objectivists? :-)


You mean it's not named that already?  [running for cover...]

Seriously, Linz's article raises a number of issues.

I don't think Objectivism will ever reach the kind of mass appeal that one finds in mass-appeal religious movements---whether they go by the name "Catholicism" or "Islamic fundamentalism" or the more secular religiosities of Communism and Nazism.  And I say:  Thank God!  That doesn't mean, however, that some "Objectivists" are not prone to the same kinds of behavior that plague those types of movements (minus the killing of infidels); perhaps the development of joyless, nasty "sectarianism" is simply endemic to the development of movements as such. 

Of course, Linz is right:  Catholicism has been at the center of many achievements.  But even those achievements were bound up with the development of secularism.  The resurgence of Aristotelianism through Thomas Aquinas, and the Renaissance thereafter, laid much groundwork for, and provided the inspiration for, many glorious developments and expressions in architecture, sculpture, painting and music that followed.  The secularization of the Western mind has taken centuries to achieve... even if we are still facing various "blips" that seek to interrupt (and reverse) that process.  And so many of those who have expressed "total passion" of a religious nature are still looking to the heavens for height... belittling, in the process, the individual human being living on earth.

On the passing of John Paul II:  I marked his death briefly because I have long viewed him as a "gentle man with guts," who stood up, rhetorically, to Communism and to Nazism in his lifetime.  Ironically, the "gentle man with guts," the serene, self-confident man of conviction who embraces the "total passion for the total height" can also be found in Rand's own novels, in characters such as Howard Roark.  Now, I'm not suggesting for a moment that all of us have to mimic the qualities of Roark or even the gentility of John Paul II.  Lord knows, we all have different demeanors and personalities, and there is strength in that diversity. 

But I just don't know of any other way to fight "repressive, persecutorial, joyless, prudish and downright nasty" behavior, except by not practicing it in my own dealings with other people.  My actions are part of a culture, and if I want a rational and civil culture, I need to practice those virtues in my own relationship to my self, and to others.

One cannot "implement" a culture the way one selects a Parliament, a President, or a Pope.  A culture is emergent:  If you desire a certain type of culture tomorrow, you need to own and exhibit the virtues of that culture in your actions today. "Anyone who fights for the future," wrote Ayn Rand, "lives in it today"---each in the context of his/her own life, individual goals, and familial, romantic, professional, political, social relationships.




Post 11

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 9:49amSanction this postReply
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"The We of I" - now there is a good title for a book about the sociality of individualism......... and by implication, of Objectivists.....



Post 12

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 10:33amSanction this postReply
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Sciabarra:

"Minus the killing of infidels"??? The killing of infidels is the best part!



Post 13

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 11:38amSanction this postReply
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We have inherited and passed on a revolutionary philosophy by which the world may save itself from precisely such irrationalities as religion; we have failed to create a culture to match it. Our culture has been repressive, persecutorial, joyless, prudish and downright nasty. Objectivism’s worst enemies have been … Objectivists.

 

We have failed in part because we have eschewed the very idea of a culture. In celebrating the "I" we have performed a kind of Anthem-in-reverse. We have become too afraid of the word "we." By dismissing anything undertaken with others as "collectivism" (ignoring the fact that real collectivism entails coercion) we have blinded ourselves to the impact we might make if we acted as a fellowship of individualists, in voluntary, life-affirming concert. 

Bravo, a hopeful thought, and worth making the attempt.

 

I have wondered though, how many of those attracted to the Objectivist movement fit the following category.

 

Main Entry: so•cio•path•ic 

Pronunciation: "sO-sE-&-'pa-thik, "sO-sh(E-)&-

Function: adjective

: of, relating to, or characterized by asocial or antisocial behavior or a psychopathic personality  

 

Main Entry: psy·chop·a·thy

Pronunciation: sI-'kä-p&-thE

Function: noun

Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary

: mental disorder; especially : extreme mental disorder marked usually by egocentric and antisocial activity 

 

Few would dispute that these definitions apply to the ARI crowd and those who fled this site to found the ObjectivistForum where Ayn Rand is openly worshipped and honest seekers are treated as heretics.

 

Can this antisocial tendency/strain be overcome?

 

As Sciabarra wrote:

 

Lord knows, we all have different demeanors and personalities, and there is strength in that diversity.

Even though we share a common philosophy, does social compatibility necessary follow?





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Post 14

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 9:22pmSanction this postReply
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Lindsay, I had the same reaction as you did while watching the events surrounding the Pope's illness and death: shock and dismay at the extent and depth of the influence of religion, especially among young people.

But we must be very careful that we do not allow ourselves to see the kindly, benevolent, even charismatic old man we watched on television as in fact so very kindly and benevolent. He is that only until he is crossed, like the rest of the kindly souls who have been singing his praises and the praises of their religion. Try telling them that sex is a value in and of itself, that is a means of providing us with joy, not a means to populate the earth with more Catholics. Try telling them that women should not be looked upon as brood mares, whose most important function, even in the countries where they are too poor to feed their children, is to continue to produce those children for the greater glory of God and the Pope. Try telling them that the value of science trumps the value of religion, and that stem cell research must be allowed precisely in the name of the suffering humanity they pretend to care about so much.Try telling them that your life belongs to you, not to them or to their God, and that if you decide to end your life, it is your right to do so. You will see what they turn into if you tell them these things.

And tell them where the human race might be were it not for the blight of religion, which science has had to fight against for all the centuries of our time on this earth. Tell them of the millions of potentially productive young lives killed in religious wars, lives that might have propelled mankind beyond the stars had they been allowed to live. Tell them that their "leap of faith" is the most destructive leap from reason and human life that has ever been invented.

And today, if we do not destroy the last tattered shred of Islamic fanaticism, religion might yet end up destroying the world. And that's not so very kindly and benevolent.

------------------------------

Chris, I totally agree with your post. Objectivism can never have the mass appeal of religion, and it should not have it. Objectivism is a serious, complex philosophy and should spread just as it is spreading: in the universities, from which it filters down, and in the lives of men and women who exemplify its principles.

I especially liked your statement: "But I just don't know of any other way to fight 'repressive, persecutorial, joyless, prudish and downright nasty' behavior, except by not practicing it in my own dealings with other people.  My actions are part of a culture, and if I want a rational and civil culture, I need to practice those virtues in my own relationship to my self, and to others."


Barbara




Post 15

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 10:33pmSanction this postReply
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I certainly didn't want to downplay the evil of religion. As I said, the Catholic Church's doctrines are as shameful as ever. But we must more deftly figure out how religion and the church still manage to tap into "the best within" and do a better job of counteracting them with secular spirituality. Some of the best & brightest are still going into the church. God help us!

Linz



Post 16

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 11:07pmSanction this postReply
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Barbara, I give that post a standing ovation.  You've set me all afire, and I was about to go to bed.  :)

Now THAT is the kind of passionate statement that needs to ring clear and true above the cacophony of church bells.

Jennifer




Post 17

Monday, April 4, 2005 - 3:06amSanction this postReply
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Mrs. Branden:
 
I stand by Mrs. Iannolo to applaud your words on the evilness of all religions. This should be just one statement of what should be a very long line of statements on this issue. It seems that there are still many Objectivists who should know better than to applaud a Pope. Any religious man, however "high" his standing might be, should have learned already long time ago that nobody siding with evildoers can be a good man. And so should some Objectivists have learned that this is an atheistic movement that rejects religions and religiously minded people because of the immorality of all mysticism. Rand and many others taught us this lesson and we should all have learned it by now.
 
Once, and it doesn't matter how long it takes unless religions end humanity, Objectivism will be the dominant "ideology", due to its clearness and convincing arguments. With religions gone a good world will start.
 
Here I want to mention a phrase that should go into everybody's brain. It belongs to Karlheinz Deschner, a German antireligious writer who's not an Objectivist but rather a Socialist; but the phrase is good nonetheless: "The superstition that Belief is something different from superstition, is the greatest superstition of all".
 
Again: Bravo, Mrs. Branden!!!
 
Manfred F. Schieder




Post 18

Monday, April 4, 2005 - 4:05amSanction this postReply
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I think there is a way to reconcilate what religion means in a way with Objective Ideas. Let's just ponder about that religion has the effect to calm people and to let them get rid of some of their fears, especially the fear of the Afterworld.

I don't want to defend any religion on earth, but rather the idea of belief in the Afterworld. This is something most religious people (not active in any church, but still believing in god or something like god) say, when you ask them why they truly believe in something. They want to have a life after dying in this world.
They don't long for dying, but rather have a feeling that they can sleep safer and work more freely in this life, if they don't have to worry what comes after they died.
Of course, this gun can shoot in multiple directions, it could create a longing for death or a don't-care attitude towards death, but in most people it just gives them the peace of mind to live in the here and now.

I don't want to defend anyone supporting the church and its political aims to control and ensalve human lives, but rather the idea of reality based on the abolished worry for some afterlife.

I don't believe in any such thing, but it is not my problem and I don't concern myself with it, because at one time it will be inevitable.
Still, I think that some people can act objectively in a sound way and still belief in some sort of god, as long as they make this god an inactive one.
A god that has no power in your life, other than comforting you that you don't have to worry about what comes after your death.

(Edited by Max on 4/04, 4:06am)




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Post 19

Monday, April 4, 2005 - 6:28amSanction this postReply
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I strongly agree with Lindsay's essay. Too many Objectivists look at the irrational, faith-based content of religion and simply recoil. They prefer to assume that the appeal of religion is entirely irrational: e. g., people are looking for authority figures, they don't want to think, they are motivated by fear and guilt, etc. They seldom bother to ask themselves whether there are any valid reasons for religion's enormous and enduring cultural appeal.

Look at your televisions this week, please, and ask yourselves whether Objectivists should be simply bashing religion, while trying to learn nothing from its successes. That's the most important message I take from Lindsay's essay.

I have had a lot to say elsewhere about the appeal of religion, and why that appeal often addresses the rational needs of individuals, not just irrational ones--needs that Objectivists must begin to address if our philosophy is to have a cultural future. Certainly it is much easier and more emotionally satisfying for many Objectivists just to bash the religious. But for those few who may actually want to know why we've been losing the culture wars, and consider what might be done about that sad fact, I invite them to check out two of my recorded lectures...

"What Objectivists Must Learn From Religion" -- http://www.objectivismstore.com/pc-79-28-what-objectivists-must-learn-from-religion.aspx

...and...

"Experiencing the Moral Ideal" -- http://www.objectivismstore.com/p-139-experiencing-the-moral-ideal.aspx


In response to Lindsay's essay, Barbara wrote (echoing Chris Sciabarra):
Objectivism can never have the mass appeal of religion, and it should not have it. Objectivism is a serious, complex philosophy and should spread just as it is spreading: in the universities, from which it filters down, and in the lives of men and women who exemplify its principles.
This is a rare instance in which I completely disagree with Barbara!  In fact, I have disagreed with this "trickle down from the universities" approach to the spread of Objectivism for over two decades. 

Let me ask you: Is that how Ayn Rand spread her ideas? Is that, in fact, how her ideas actually have been spreading--starting from the philosophy departments of universities, and trickling down to the public? How are most people really introduced to Objectivism? Where is the scholarship about the philosophy really occurring? Where is the "Objectivist community" really being built?

I've addressed repeatedly the matter of how to spread Objectivist ideas through the culture, in these additional recorded lectures:

"Guerilla Activism" (a two-part seminar) -- http://www.objectivismstore.com/p-246-toc-live-2004-guerilla-activism.aspx

"Organized Individualism: Building the Objectivist Community" -- http://www.objectivismstore.com/p-109-organized-individualism.aspx

"Individualism As If Individuals Matter" -- http://www.objectivismstore.com/p-199-toc-live-2002-individualism-as-if-individuals-matter.aspx

In providing these links, rather than substantive discussion, I trust my reason is clear:  I couldn't begin to summarize on this thread everything I've said about these topics, or that ought to be said.




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