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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on February 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Deities, dogmatism, fanatics, , holy wars, human history, Middle East, Quakers, , secular humanists, tribalism, tribes, ,   

    TRIBES AND TRIBULATIONS 

    tribal, adj. Of the nature of, or relating to, a tribe.
    tribe, n. 1. A unit of sociopolitical organization. 2. A political, ethnic, or ancestral division of ancient states and cultures [such as] a. the three divisions of the ancient Romans. b. the 12 divisions of ancient Israel.
    –Webster’s New College Dictionary

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    If anything seems clear from the seemingly endless wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, it is that tribalism and religion are at the heart of the madness. This is not to suggest that tribalism is confined to the Middle East (far from it), or that other forces haven’t played a part. But buried beneath the overlay of foreign intervention in the region (or meddling, if you prefer) are roots with a “history as old or nearly so as that of humanity itself” –Edward O. Wilson, biologist, naturalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.

    In his book THE MEANING OF HUMAN EXISTENCE, Wilson posits that tribalism and religion are inextricably bound together by what he calls “the instinctual force of tribalism in the genesis of religiosity. People deeply need membership in a group, whether religious or secular.” In a chapter titled simply “RELIGION,” Wilson states:

    The great religions are inspired by belief in an incorruptible deity–or multiple deities. Their priests bring solemnity to rites of passage through the cycle of life and death. They sacralize basic tenets of civil and moral law, comfort the afflicted, and take care of the desperately poor. Followers strive to be righteous in the sight of man and God. The churches are centers of community life [and] ultimate refuges against the inequities and tragedies of secular life. They and their ministers make more bearable tyranny, war, starvation, and the worst of natural catastrophes.
    The great religions are also, and tragically, sources of ceaseless and unnecessary suffering. They are impediments to the grasp of reality needed to solve most social problems in the real world. Their exquisitely human flaw is tribalism. It is tribalism, not the moral tenets and humanitarian thought of pure religion, that makes good people do bad things.
    Unfortunately, a religious group defines itself foremost by its creation myths, the supernatural narrative that explains how humans came into existence. This story is also the heart of tribalism. No matter how subtly explained, the core belief assures its members that God favors them above all others. It teaches that members of other religions worship the wrong gods, use wrong rituals, follow false prophets….

    Food for thought — but thought that leaves questions to chew on: if “love makes fools of us all” (to quote Thackeray), does it follow that tribalism makes blind fools of us all? Are we unwitting tribalists to the siren song of political/religious saviors, some of us to the extent of becoming tribal or religious fanatics? Are tribal/religious fanatics born or made (nature vs. nurture)? And, given that all religions are invented by man, does that entitle Wilson to tar them all with the same brush?

    For example, Wilson regards it as a mistake to fold believers of particular religious and dogmatic ideologies into two piles (moderate versus extremist), because “The true cause of hatred and violence is faith versus faith, an outward expression of the ancient instinct of tribalism.”  While that may be true, I question the notion that all religions/tribes wash out equally. For example, in pre-colonial times in North America, there were both peaceful and warlike Native American tribes. And so it is elsewhere. Aren’t secular humanists equally guilty of bad faith who don’t recognize/won’t separate the wheat from the chaff/laissez-faire from doctrinaire? Who and what have incited and fed religious wars and persecutions throughout history? It’s not the likes of the Quakers, nor is it directives from the heavens.

    The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

     

     

     

     

     
    • Midwestern Plant Girl 8:33 am on February 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      This was a great read!
      I play my drum to a different beat and prefer to not be part of a group or religious. I like to read about these topics tho, as I want to understand it. I don’t feel left out, but sometimes don’t understand why people do things. Maybe it’s my O- blood? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:09 am on February 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you. I concur, but though I don’t seek to be part of a group, there is one group I can’t help belonging to: the human race. In that sense, we’re all in this together, which is why all the ongoing political and religious extreme dogmatism is a plague on all our houses.

        Liked by 2 people

    • arekhill1 1:49 pm on February 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Well put, Sr. Muse, and undoubtedly true. I’m an agnostic myself, thank God.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 2:45 pm on February 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Growing up Catholic put the fear of the Lord in me, Ricardo, so I’m still too chicken to be an agnostic. Some people may think I’m an egghead, so perhaps I’m now an egg-nostic. At least that would solve an age-old question: the chicken came before the egg-nostic.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Todd Duffey Writes on Things 10:06 am on February 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      This is the first blog of yours I’ve read, Mistermuse. I feel like there is a LOT more I will be learning from you! Bravo – you have opened this reader’s eyes to a much broader playing field!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 1:35 pm on February 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks. I usually write in a more creative, humorous vein, but my art-ery takes a serious turn every once in a while. I only post every fifth day, so your eyes shouldn’t get bloodshot from over-learning! 🙂

        Thanks again.

        Like

    • Don Frankel 10:50 am on February 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Good stuff Muse. A little heavy but sometimes we have to do heavy. I haven’t read Wilson so I wouldn’t want to characterize his stuff but if his basic premise is to blame it on Tribalism well it sort of a non-starter for me. It doesn’t matter what the Tribe says or the Government says or even and this may be heresy but even what the Supreme Court says. You make your decisions in this life and then you have to live with them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 1:46 pm on February 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        You make a good point, Don. We tend to think of tribalism as something uncivilized, something they do “over there” — but all you have to do is look at our own politics to see mindless tribal followings (albeit with a modern veneer).

        Liked by 1 person

    • John Looker 2:12 pm on February 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I have a great deal of sympathy with your analysis. Tribalism does appear deep rooted in the human condition — perhaps it is inescapable until societies can find ways of evolving appropriate forms of government. I found myself writing a group of poems on tribal loyalties a year ago. They might not interest you but, just in case, they can be found on my own (poetry) blog at: https://johnstevensjs.wordpress.com/category/looking-at-life-through-work-series/tribal-loyalties/ They also had a place in a book of mine published a year ago, but that’s another story. Congratulations on raising this in a thoughtful way.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 4:01 pm on February 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I appreciate your comment and like your tribal poems, especially THE DAWN RAID. I tend to think that the perversion of tribalism (mindless, dogmatic allegiance to its worst forms), more than tribalism itself, is the main problem….and one (skeptic that I am) that I believe will probably always be with us.

      Like

    • John Looker 5:53 pm on February 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Yes. In any society there is going to be a reassuring sense of belonging to a familiar homogeneous group, but it is dangerous (or perverted as you put it) when there is no imagination about or empathy towards others. Such a pressing issue for our times! Glad you’ve raised it in the manner you do.

      Liked by 1 person

    • linnetmoss 6:29 am on February 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Religion is like science–not evil or good in itself, but depending on the use we make of it. (Although Christopher Hitchens made a pretty comprehensive case against it in “God is not Great.”) IMO science has relieved much more suffering than religion ever did. (And of course has caused its share.) As to tribalism, I don’t see much benefit in it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:11 am on February 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for more “food for thought.”

      I suppose, given that “People deeply need membership in a group, whether religious or secular” (as Edward O. Wilson wrote), one could say the same of tribalism–“not good or evil in itself,” but depending on the ends pursued (and the means used to pursue them). Another thought: how widely or loosely to define, or think of, tribalism. In a sense, fraternities, sororities, sports teams — such as the Cleveland Indians 🙂 — any group banded together for common cause, could be considered tribes.

      I own Hitchens’ GOD IS NOT GREAT, but haven’t read it in a long time — though I’m familiar with his arguments in general. It’s too complex to get into here, but I’ve written a few posts on these things before and will probably do so again.

      Like

    • literaryeyes 1:39 pm on February 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      H.L. Mencken ripped apart the basic foundations of religion in his book, Twilight of the Gods (I think that’s the title, or maybe that’s a movie-I plead senior memory). Religion started early when tribes were the social construct, so it’s plausible they are inextricably and at this time, irrevocably, intermixed. But to put a little humor in, here’s a quote purportedly from Mencken: “For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing.” In other words, the improbable, in his opinion. I’m not as pragmatic as Mencken, by far, and believe we have an inherent spiritual nature that’s connected to our physical selves, and possibly to something outside ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 4:30 pm on February 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Well said. Neither the god(s) of religion, nor the concept of creation without a creator, is convincing to me. To quote from WHY DOES THE WORLD EXIST (by Jim Holt):
      “A scientific explanation must involve some sort of physical cause. But any physical cause is by definition part of the universe to be explained. Thus any purely scientific explanation of the existence of the universe is doomed to be circular. Even if it starts with something very minimal–a cosmic egg, a tiny bit of quantum vacuum, a singularity-it still starts with something, not nothing.”

      Like

    • restlessjo 3:05 am on February 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Sadly, I don’t have an argument. I simply wish it were otherwise, but wishing will never make it so.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 5:03 am on February 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      The good news is that with a creator, there remains the possibility of life after death for us. The bad news is that with a creator so above all the suffering it has deliberately made the lot of its creatures, what would that bode for our next-life relationship with such a creator? Sadly (to say the least), it’s enough to make thinking people careful what they wish for.
      But, for now, I wish for the best for you and everyone reading this.

      Like

  • mistermuse 1:21 pm on April 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , astrology, , certainty, Chicago Cubs, , Deities, divine intervention, , Elvis, fortune cookies, Fox News, , indoctrination, liberalism, New York Jets, omnipotence, omniscience, Playboy, Playgirl, radical right, , , , spam   

    GOD’S QUESTIONNAIRE REVISITED – THE END IS NEAR 

    From 1977 to 1984, God, in the guise of George Burns, starred as Himself in three OH GOD! movies, the last two of which (by earthly standards) stank to high heaven — indicating that even God can overdo a god thing. With Car Talk’s Nine-Question God Questionnaire, I have a good script to work with, but at the rate of one question per post, it would take six more sequels after this one to finish the job. From both an overkill and a don’t try to out-do the Deity standpoint, it doesn’t seem prudent to do more than three posts….especially if the Trinity Pak turns out to be the One True God. Consolidation is in order, or I be in trouble.

    Question #3 asked, Did your God come to you undamaged, with all parts in good working order and no missing attributes, and if not, what was the problem? Choices included:

    __Not omniscient
    __Not omnipotent
    __Permits sex outside of marriage
    __Prohibits sex outside of marriage
    __Requires virgin sacrifices
    __Makes mistakes (Geraldo Rivera & Jesse Helms given as examples)
    __Makes or permits bad things to happen to good people
    __When beseeched, doesn’t stay beseeched
    __Plays dice with the universe

    Other than updating early 1990s’ mistake examples (to Rush Limbaugh & Ann Coulter, for example), no quibbles here.

    Question #4 dealt with relevant factors in your decision to acquire a Deity, such as

    __Hate to think for myself
    __Need to feel morally superior
    __Indoctrinated by parents/society.
    __Needed focus on whom to despise.
    __Graduated from the tooth fairy.
    __Wanted to meet girls/boys
    __Like organ music
    __Desperate need for certainty

    No updating necessary.

    Question #5 wondered which false gods were you fooled by in the past:

    __Mick Jagger
    __The almighty dollar
    __Left-wing liberalism
    __The radical right
    __Beelzebub
    __Barney the Dinosaur
    __Elvis
    __The Great Pumpkin

    Update false gods to include Fox News, Chicago Cubs, New York Jets ( to Don) & SWI (to mistermuse)

    Question #6: Are you currently using any other source of inspiration in addition to God?

    __Astrology
    __Fortune cookies
    __Playboy and/or Playgirl
    __Self-help books
    __Sex
    __Drugs, alcohol
    __Bill Clinton
    __Tea leaves
    __Human sacrifice
    __Ann Landers

    Now that you’ve got the idea, you can do your own #6 updating.

    Question #7: Divine intervention-wise, would you prefer:

    __More
    __Less
    __Current level just right
    __Don’t know … what’s divine intervention?

    Just for the hell of it, I’d add __A helluva lot better choices

    Question #8 wants you to rate God’s handling of disasters (such as plague, pestilence and spam) and miracles (such as rescues, spontaneous remissions, crying statues and walking on water).

    Who are we to judge?

    Question #9: Last but not deist, Do you have any suggestions for improving the quality of God’s services?

    Deists don’t believe this is a relevant question. Unluckily, it would appear that
    God has Alzheimer’s and has forgotten we exist. –Jane Wagner

     

     

     

     
    • Don Frankel 4:24 pm on April 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      3) Permits sex before during and after marriage. I’ve read the Gospels a few times and I can’t find the place where Jesus tells people not to have sex. I’m not a Biblical Scholar but I just can’t find it. If anyone knows where it is like John 3:16, let me know.
      4) Wanted to meet girls. The number of women who believe far outnumber the ones that don’t. The ones that don’t believe also don’t have any sin references. What would the fun in that be?
      5) I never worshipped the Jets. I believed in the God of baseball but then I still do. God is a big right hander with the number 1 fastball. But I’m not too worried as nobody can throw the fastball by me.
      6) Sex
      7) Current level just about right.
      8) He’s doing okay. I mean you have to have a few here and there. He’s doing pretty good keeping everyone guessing where, when and why?
      9) A little less snow in NYC

      Like

    • mistermuse 7:48 pm on April 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Sorry about my Jets “fumble,” Don – I guess I just assumed from all your raps on Rex Ryan that he was wrecking your beloved (if not adored) Jets. I’ll try to make up for the error by not telling God you think He can’t throw a fastball by you.

      Like

      • Don Frankel 4:27 am on April 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Too late Muse, He knows.

        Like

  • mistermuse 10:41 am on April 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Allah, deist, Deities, Gaia, , Holy Trinity, Jehovah, , Krishna, Mother Earth, , New Testament, Odin, , Satan, Yahweh, Zeus   

    GOD’S QUESTIONNAIRE REVISITED (THE SECOND COMING) 

    And now two — question #2 in NPR’s “Car Talk” God’s Total Quality Management Questionnaire:

    2. Which model Deity did you acquire?

    __ Yahweh
    __ Father, Son & Holy Ghost (Trinity Pak)
    __ Jehovah
    __ Jesus
    __ Krishna
    __Zeus and entourage (Olympus Pak)
    __Odin and entourage (Valhalla Pak)
    __Allah
    __Satan
    __Gaia/Mother Earth/Mother Nature
    __God 1.a (hairy thunderer)
    __God 1.b (cosmic muffin)
    __None of the above; I was taken in by a false god

    You know, even at my advanced mile-age, I still don’t know which Deity is the real deal, but given the bewildering number of choices, how could any truly benevolent Big Dealer blame a prospective buyer for test driving as many of the above models as thought warranted? After all, no one wants to pay a lot of lettuce for a lemon. Many are called guarantees on paper, but few are the guarantees worth the paper chosen to be written on.

    You can consult the Blue Book all you want to when you go to trade in your used model for, let’s say, a New Testament, but take my word, “they” know the only reason you’re getting rid of your clunker is because there’s something wrong with it and you’re desperate for reliable transportation. My old Trinity Pak wasn’t worth a denarius when I traded it in for a Deist, but that’s what I get for holding on to it for so long. What’s in your garage?

    NEXT comes question #3.

     
    • arekhill1 10:50 am on April 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hairy Thunderer vs. Cosmic Muffin–the question that has plagued mankind through the ages.

      Like

      • mistermuse 5:49 pm on April 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        In my endless search for meaning, I found these lines from a National Lampoon parody song:

        Therefore make peace with your god,
        Whatever you conceive him to be:
        hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin

        When you see God in movies, He usually appears as a hairy thunderer. Apparently Hollywood doesn’t have any cosmic muffin costumes. He would die at the box office anyway.

        Like

    • Don Frankel 1:29 pm on April 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      First I want to thank God that we got question #2 as I was worried that it might not come till I reached the Undiscovered Country.

      My answer is None of the above but I didn’t even get a False God. I got nothing. I didn’t get a middle name either. And, yes I spent ten years in therapy.

      Like

    • mistermuse 5:56 pm on April 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Two down and seven to go, Don. Maybe I’d better abridge & consolidate the rest into one or two more posts. I don’t want to press my luck too far.

      Like

  • mistermuse 6:14 pm on April 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Deities, , humorous existential questions, ,   

    GOD’S QUESTIONNAIRE REVISITED 

    I have a folder of old magazine and newspaper clippings which I’d filed away years ago because of their interesting and/or oddball subject matter. One such clipping (undated, but in a batch of others from the early 1990s) is titled God’s Total Quality Management Questionnaire (As presented on National Public Radio’s “Car Talk”) — which may sound like an odd venue for such a questionnaire if you’re not familiar with the show’s hosts, the auto mechanic-comics Magliozzi Brothers. Tom and Ray Magliozzi’s CLICK AND CLACK car advice appears in newspapers weekly and at http://www.cartalk.com.

    If you’re like me, you find most questionnaires too simplistic (answer yes or no, or agree or disagree, to questions which beg for more nuanced response). Not so here — most of the questions offer many choices, such as these in response to question #1: How did you find out about your Deity?

    __Newspaper
    __Bible
    __Torah
    __Book of Mormon
    __Koran
    __Divine inspiration
    __Dead Sea Scrolls
    __My mama done tol’ me
    __Near-death experience
    __Near-life experience
    __National Public Radio
    __Tabloid
    __Burning shrubbery
    __Other (specify):__________

    Now, for those of you who have had different Deities at various stages of your life, even the above choices may be insufficient, which is never a good thing unless you’re absolutely sure that you’ve finally found the divine equivalent of Mr./Ms. Right. One can only be disillusioned so many times before one says to hell with it.

    How did I find out about my (current) Deity? Basically, by a process of elimination — I’m a deist, which is probably the last stage before “to hell with it”….though I must admit I haven’t tried all possible Deities. This leads me to question #2 of the questionnaire, but that will have to wait until next time.

     

     
    • Don Frankel 3:19 am on April 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I’m thinking that I’m dying to know what question #2 is and then I’m thinking is this one of those things where I’ll have to, before I can?

      My answer to number 1 though is other I guess. I mean isn’t He supposed to be everywhere? So would we need a book, a tabloid or an NDE? I’m not too sure if He’s everywhere by the way. I’m pretty sure He’s in center field though.

      Like

    • mistermuse 4:45 am on April 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Don, my computer’s acting up a bit, but Lord willing and the damn thing don’t crash, I’ll get to question #2 before you kick the bucket.

      Speaking of acting “up,” I’m surprised that movies wasn’t one of the question #1 choices. A lot of people undoubtedly found out about their Deity from the creations of Cecil B. DeMille, Mel Brooks, Monty Python, etc.

      Like

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