Skip to main content


Quotes: What makes an idea sacred or religious?

Theism? Superstition? Myth? Ritual? Does it have to teach a fixed dogma, and/or does it have to be undefined and flexible enough to allow for its continuous development and for individuals' ongoing learning? If it is inherently motivated by politics or if it grows to seek political goals, does it have to contain material that is separate from and more enduring than the political movement? Michael Ducey in 1977 distinguished “mass ritual” and “interaction ritual” based on whether the audience participates. (Referenced in William Beers. Women and Sacrifice: Male Narcissism and the Psychology of Religion. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992. p. 164.) Thought becomes religious when it thinks itself out to the end. Albert Schweitzer The psychologist Philip Tetlock(1999, 2003, 2004) identifies values as sacred when they are so important to those who hold them that the very act of considering them is offensive. Daniel C. Dennett. Breaking the Spell: Religion as
Recent posts

'Soft coup' and storytelling: A couple threads on Twitter

Sharing a couple threads I spotted on Twitter. First, here's Frank Figliuzzi, formerly a top FBI official, now a national security analyst for MSNBC, saying that Trump is behaving like a "barricaded subject" in a hostage negotiation. He says that Biden is handling the situation correctly, staying calm and allowing Trump an opportunity to vent, while letting Trump keep his options open for resolving the standoff "the easy way" rather than "the hard way." On November 10, the New York Times published a large article explaining that no significant election fraud has been found . This has been the most secure U.S. election ever , according to a November 12 New York Times article. Yet Trump has been refusing to cooperate with the Biden team (see these articles from CNN and Huffington Post ). He's making the moves of a dictator ( CNN ). To the extent he ever performed normal presidential responsibilities, he has now stopped working altogether. (

Quotes on simplicity

Kierkegaard — according to Merold Westphal — "published a long review of a Danish novel [ Two Ages ] which appeared just as he was concluding his own book [ Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing ] and which fascinated him by providing an occasion for dealing with some of the same themes in a different setting." In the review, he "introduces inertia as a physical metaphor for the spiritual resistance to that dying to immediacy that the sacred seems to demand of us." Quoting: Merold Westphal. God, Guilt, and Death: An Existential Phenomenology of Religion. (1984) Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1987. p. 52. "Love is greater than anything — love and Lady Poverty. Poverty is like a gift and a dependence. Everything for God and others. That’s above institutions, above permissions, above constitutions, and we need a taste of it; somewhere, somehow, we have to feel the ardor of it again." The character of a priest in Michael Novak's novel The

Several resources on how to stop a potential U.S. coup

No analysis here. Just a couple resources for immediate use. "10 things you need to know to stop a coup" ( "6 Things We Must Do Right Now To Save America From A Constitutional Crisis" ( Choose Democracy is advising and training people on what they can do in the case of a coup. Have money to donate? Organizations that aim to protect election results: Protect the Results (and its allied organizations) ACLU Common Cause The Brennan Center for Justice Movement Voter Project Also, a 7-part series on the 2020 election, updated October 17 on Medium: Part 1: Trump’s Motivations to Stay in Office Part 2: Who’s Helping Trump to Remain in Office? Part 3: How Will Americans Vote? Part 4: Cheating to Win the Election Part 5: What to Expect on Election Day and in the Transition Period Part 6: The Chaos We Expect After the 2020 Election Part 7: Fascism, and a Small Thing You Can Do Right Now

Religion may make you happy, but that does not make it true

Religion makes some people happy, but their feelings do not mean that their religion is true. Richard Dawkins: I wish it were not necessary to add that such beneficial effects in no way boost the truth value of religion’s claims. In George Bernard Shaw’s words, ‘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.’ A common strategy is for the religion to make the followers feel worthless or broken and then to give them back their sense of worth and wholeness. Alan Watts: ...if one wants to feel exhilaratingly light-footed, it is always possible to go around for some time with lead in one's shoes — and then take them off. The sense of relief will certainly be proportional to the length of time such shoes have been worn, and to the weight of the lead. This is equivalent to the old trick of religious revivalists who give their followers a tremendous emotional uplift by first implanting an acu

Mentions of eunuchs in 'The Dance of Genghis Cohn' (1968)

Quotes from Romain Gary's 1968 novel The Dance of Genghis Cohn that allude to eunuchs. “He was...inoffensive. He had been the victim of a shooting accident in see what I mean?” ”What was he doing in France?” “Well, he is a German, isn’t he? He was doing his duty.” “Why should the Baroness have gone off with a eunuch?” “Because he is harmless.” “Then one might just as well stay with one’s husband.” (p. 53) “Who was that gentleman, Florian?” * * * “Just another small-timer, my darling. There was no need for you to bother. I’ve told you a million times: they can’t deliver. They don’t have what it takes. Eunuchs, all of them.” (p. 95, pp. 118-119) “Florian, you’re crying? You!” “This dog’s life!” wails Florian. “I get fed up with it sometimes.” “But what is it? What’s the matter now?” “What’s the matter, what’s the matter? ... There are moments when I would like to...well, when I too would like to be able to...Watching them do it al

Quotes on developing a self

"Selfhood — an obsolete idea, according to Bateson and other proponents of the ‘new consciousness’ — is precisely the inescapable awareness of man’s contradictory place in the natural order of things. … The distinguishing characteristic of selfhood, however, is not rationality but the critical awareness of man’s divided nature. Selfhood expresses itself in the form of a guilty conscience, the painful awareness of the gulf between human aspirations and human limitation. “Bad conscience is inseparable from freedom,” Jacques Ellul reminds us. “There is no freedom without an accompanying critical attitude to the self..." Christopher Lasch. The Minimal Self: Psychic Survival in Troubled Times. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1984. p. 257-258. "Similar in concept to theologian James Fowler’s stages of faith (even Campbell’s hero’s journey), [M. Scott] Peck’s framework [in his book The Different Drum ] consists of four systematic or hierarchical stages of spiritual growth a