Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Here and There

Life is humming along pretty well. I went to my first "off book" rehearsal of Monna Vanna and stumbled through my scene. Over the weekend I did the opening monologue of Richard III at a charity event and had a lot of fun with it. Richard has such a good time being a villain that the play presents a challenge to the modern actor -- how far can you go before you're over the top? A character who says "I am determined to be a villain" is not realistic by modern standards, but he's not a caricature either.

I went golfing for the first time in years. For a few days after I ached in strange places; my left collar bone hurt, who knows why. It's nice being out in nature manicured to suit man's purpose.

Here's an interesting quote from C.S. Lewis:

If there were such a [Christian] society in existence and you or I visited it, I think we should come away with a curious impression. We should feel that its economic life were very socialistic and, in that sense, 'advanced', but that its family life and its code of manners were rather old fashioned — perhaps even ceremonious and aristocratic. Each of us would like some bits of it, but I am afraid very few of us would like the whole thing.

The post that quote is from is worth reading because it is about Mike Huckabee's economic populism. Huckabee, a social conservative, apparently has the economic ignorance of a Democrat. He said:

I am not interested in being the candidate of Wall Street but of Main Street....CEOs get paid 500 times what the average worker does, but they are not necessarily 500 times smarter or harder-working, and that is wrong.

This kind of envy is the foundation of the welfare state and socialism. He sounds like the perfect candidate for a Republican Party that has strayed from its Goldwater legacy of smaller government. Now morons in both parties march us to the abyss of fascism.

I see at Gus Van Horn that Armchair Intellectual and Charlotte Capitalist have new posts up.

Gideon Reich writes about his (at the risk of sounding New Agey) "spiritual journey." He was raised Orthodox Jewish and struggles with how much of all that to maintain and pass on to his children. I give him credit for honestly writing about personal psychological issues.

As one who was raised by non-religious gentiles, it's not something I have worried about. Generally, I don't care much about any ethnic heritage. Tribalism is collectivist, an assault on individualism. But from one point of view the case of Judaism is special because of the phenomenon of anti-semitism. When a lot of the world wishes Jews were dead, I can't fault any Jew who embraces his heritage just to shove it in the anti-semites' face. Worse, anti-semitism is growing on the left. But one has to watch out about being defined by one's enemies.

Gideon calls Christianity a fraud, which it certainly is, but aren't all religions frauds since they are based on the concept of God? And then there is the Moses myth -- discovered as a baby in the reeds of a river, parting the Red Sea, the burning bush, the 10 Commandments -- at some point, millennia ago, someone had to think up all those lies.


Anonymous said...

Its ironic in a way, there is so much anti-semitism in the world coming from Islam, Mel Gibson and Pat Buchanan type Christians, and most recently the Daily Kos Left. And yet nearly 3 billion people accept the Jewish Bible as the scriptural basis of their faith. If Judaism had remained obscure and not branched off as it did, one wonders if Christianity and Islam would have ever come into existence. Maybe something better? Maybe something worse? Actually something worse is tough to imagine.

Oh and I'm thinking of calling a guy like Huckabee a right-leaning Christian liberal. What I'm continuously realizing is that the post-modern Left whose two biggest doctrines are socialism and multiculturalism are dominant in both Democrats and Republicans. It almost makes no sense in calling them different names anymore. I say almost because there is as yet differences but they are becoming more irrelevant every passing day.

John Kim

Gideon said...

Okay, I realize it's somewhat difficult to tell from my post for someone unfamiliar with Judaism but I actually wasn't raised Orthodox. If I had been raised Orthodox then I would have:

Prayed three times a day, morning, afternoon and evening.

Worn a kippa or head covering essentially 24 hours a day.

Worn tzitzit (tassels) on the corners of four cornered garments.

Worn Tefilin (phylacteries) during weekdays morning prayer starting age 13.

Eaten only Kosher foods (i.e., only foods approved a Kosher by a Rabbinical certification service).

Abstained from work, writing, and turning on or off any electricity on the Sabbath and most Jewish holidays.

Regularly said appropriate blessings to God for activities such as eating fruit or vegetables, or other foods, going to the bathroom, after finishing a meal, when wearing a new item of clothing, etc.

Typically, dressed substantially different from the Gentiles around me.

etc., etc., etc. There's more. None of which I did except on a few isolated occasions.

There is a difference between passing on a few of the Orthodox traditions as my parents did to me and being raised Orthodox, which, as I hope you can now tell, is quite a bit more demanding.

Orthodox Judaism is an all encompassing way of life. In fact, it is correctly regarded as revealed legislation. In that sense it really does have more in common with Islam than with Christianity, which usually doesn't really recognize much in the way of laws beyond the 10 commandments.

Now, with regard to what you write about Tribalism, as I hope my post illustrated, my views have been in flux. I used limit my identification merely to the fact that well, I happen to be descended from Jews. I'm also sympathetic to what you write "about being defined by one's enemies." I have not made up my mind on this issue yet, though I think my thinking is once again a lot more individualist then it was a few months back.

I call Christianity a fraud specifically on the basis of Jewish critiques of Christianity using only the Jewish Bible. That may not hold much water for Objectivists but it should for Christians who after all claim that both the Old and New Testament are true and I would say that it demonstrates another level of self-contradiction for that particular religion.

But yes, in the broader sense all religions with supernatural claims would have be regarded as frauds including Judaism. Miracles are impossible. I have to assume that somebody, at some point made it all up or at best, rather badly misinterpreted some natural event.

GWB said...

at some point, millennia ago, someone had to think up all those lies.

Those who refer to and use these stories as literal fact are liars and worse, but I've found the Hebrew Bible to be a tremendous work of literature in itself, shed of the ridiculous baggage organized religion has weighed it down with for centuries. (I haven't read the New Testament, the Book of Mormon or any of the other assorted sequels and fan-fic, so I can't speak for any of that.)

Actually, I'm not sure how accurate it is to characterize it in the singular, since it's a collection of sometimes-related works written by many people over the course of a millennium. Some of those, admittedly, were written by the priestly class in ancient Judea in order to give the weight of tradition to their practices (the really boring parts, mostly, like Genesis I, most of the legal codex and Chronicles I & II); the rest, though, are just stories with a character named Yahweh. Even he disappears over the course of the amalgamated story: in the later books, generally the ones written later, God is mentioned less and less--and not at all in Ruth, for example.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Huckabee sure is an oddball. He's the only candidate who likes the Fair tax but is basically a William Jennings Bryan anti-Darwinist populist Democrat - as so many Southerners really are. Scratch a Southern religious Republican and you'll find a Bryanist not a Goldwaterist.

As I recently said on my blog: those same Southern states that voted for Goldwater in 1964 would not vote for him now.

Jim May said...

Oh and I'm thinking of calling a guy like Huckabee a right-leaning Christian liberal. What I'm continuously realizing is that the post-modern Left whose two biggest doctrines are socialism and multiculturalism are dominant in both Democrats and Republicans. It almost makes no sense in calling them different names anymore.

You are learning what I've long held: the terms "right" and "left" as used in the common political parlance communicate and mean nothing important.