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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Okay, just quickly - cult of misery still at it

H/T Ophelia Benson.

This article by Lawrence Lessig shows just how the cult of misery is now shooting itself in the foot when it comes to the game of sustaining its aura of moral authority. As Lessig notes, insurers take over civil suits on behalf of defendants that are relying on insurance policies to pay for any damages that might be awarded. So it's not so odd to see the "church" take a hard line in actual court proceedings - it's really the insurer running the case, and the lawyers will be those retained by the insurer, not the church. Insurers like to settle on favourable terms if they can and to win in court if they can't. They're pragmatists looking after their own bottom line.

Fine so far, but we then see the church itself doing everything possible to try to put itself outside the reach of the civil law, no matter how heinous the acts of its minions. What will this accomplish? Think about it - the answer is, "Lower insurance premiums."

Have a look and see what I mean. Sickening.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Russell, sometime you sound a bit like DM - not badly so, but more dogmatically.

The specific here is that the 'Catholic' Church is defending its appalling abuse record. So, when you say the cult of misery who are you talking about? And given I don't see eye to eye with you on some issues I do feel you have much to contribute if you didn't use throw away lines akin to what I use to do when I was an atheist.

Now, I see the problem here with the 'Catholic' Church - are you grouping everyone who has a religion under this banner? It sounds like you are.

Stalin was an atheist -- if I applied some of what you apply to Christians or your generalization of the 'Church' can you see what kind of commentary I could deliver. I won't, because I don't believe in what the mention of Stalin could suggest.

Of all Christian organizations only the Catholic Church has stood firm on ancient and totally impractical belief systems. They have defended their Church despite all, and I do mean all, its wrong doings.

Again, I must ask you to use specific examples Russell, the one size fits all approach just doesn't fit... doesn't fit me, and I know many thousands like me.

Robert N Stephenson

Anonymous said...

Rob here again - while somethings seem interesting in the Hellfire club, this so called evil Christian club I am in just gave a house to a struggling family in Vietnam -- one of many to be given away over the years. So, while the Hell Fire club has its own moral agenda, I think I will continue to support those who help others regardless of their beliefs...

DM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Goodness me --I now know what you mean with DM -- wouldn't be from Alabama would he?

Everyone has the right to talk, for sure, the right to be heard not matter how wrong they are.

But DM doesn't actually say anything and this is because it could, and most likely is, a spam robot - easy enough to set for a specific site I guess.

I think DM is the kind of wack job even us general Christians take side with atheists.

Be gone DM - may the powers of the Jedi slay your mortal jabbawocky

RNS

Brian said...

Robert, Russell coined the term 'Cult of Misery' specifically for the Catholic Church. It specializes in doing 'moral' things such as justifying whatever suffering or abuse, often inflicted by clerics as being OK, because after all misery in this world is bonus points in the next. It's a good way to get a woman who has a gagillion hungry kids to rationalize why they starve to as she dies young I suppose. It'll all balance out in the after life. 'Cult of death' would equally apply I guess. Anyway, it's not a catch all for all Christian faiths.

jennyblackford said...

Rob - take a look at these older entries: http://metamagician3000.blogspot.com/2010/04/if-i-could-lead-cat-herd.html , http://metamagician3000.blogspot.com/2009/06/has-progress-been-made.html

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jenny -- now I get it. Sorry to come in late, but I tend to get busy - in my head as well as in reality.

I agree totally in the Cult of Misery being an aberation of the Catholic Church, but it also part of the condition of Judaism in general - never could get m6y head about all the guilt stuff

RNS

Russell Blackford said...

DM's latest comment was amusing, what with the boobies and all, but it had to go. Troll spore is not good.

tomh said...

Anonymous wrote:
Of all Christian organizations only the Catholic Church has stood firm on ancient and totally impractical belief systems.

Is this really what you mean? It seems to me that just about every Christian sect clings to ancient belief systems and superstitions; resurrection, heaven, hell, personal relationships with god, the list goes on and on, all of them parts of ancient belief systems. I don't see how you can single out the Catholic Church. And, impractical? The Catholic Church is one of the richest organizations in the world, with over a billion adherents. Sounds like it works pretty well from a practical standpoint.

DM said...

they thought BOOBIES had no effect... WRONG!


see, I just want to make it clear to the rest of you:


jen is unable to see that there is a CONFLICT BETWEEN EROS & SCIENCE....

________________

blaghag.com/2010/04/in-name-of-science-i-offer-my-boobs.html

ETA: follow-up
blaghag.com/2010/04/quick-clarification-about-boobquake.html

see how we take a term and convert in into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION - THAT
OF LIBERATION - not just merely harmless expression...

they thought BOOBIES had no effect... WRONG!
____________

FOR THE *HEADLESS IDIOT* called m.shermer

skeptic.com/Merchant2/graphics/audio_video/av558_lg.jpg

this is your *FINAL WARNING*

____________________________________
the really SHARP END OF OCCAM’S RAZOR…

they mix SKEPTICISM with ATHEISM…

KABOOM…

Now I want you to listen to this little f*cker...

ted.com/talks/james_randi.html

Randi:

When I see your UGLY FACE I understand why you are an atheist

_________________________________

Visit for the BOOBQUAKE

badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=15921&p=343431#p343431

Russell Blackford said...

I'll leave DM's latest amusing comment, since it contains no death threats this time, that I noticed, and I'm sure my readers will get a laugh from his eccentric take on boobquake.

Meanwhile, yes, by "the Cult of Misery" I mean the Catholic Church. I don't means all the individual Catholics who do good but for some strange reason don't leave the organisation. How they can bear to stay in a outfit with such benighted official doctrines - e.g. about gays and contraception, but this is only the beginning - not to mention the corruption that is being revealed every day ... is beyond me. How can someone like Andrew Sullivan possibly think that this is the True Church?

But there it is. One of life's mysteries.

Anonymous said...

TomH, I'm actually Robert Stephenson, I just can't remember my login somedays.

I single out the Catholic Church as it, unlike many other formalised Christian bodies adheres to the traditions of goat herders and the rule of Kings over unworthy subjects.

Many, not all mind you, newer and reformed understanding of Christian faith takes a very honest and progressive position on the meaning of life and social lessons over the idea of something magical fixing problems.

To take a stance that says 'All' Christians believe in superstition is quite inaccurate and actually a point of view position.

If I were to say atheists, due to the structure of the reasonable intelligence idea have no compassion, as compassion is actually a spiritual concept, then I would be being disrespectful to atheist people. I understand atheist beliefs, accept many of them and stand against some, but I do not feel I need to disrespect the belief system.

The missing point of any argument, regardless of the positions taken, is respect. True, I may disagree with Russell in many ways, but I do respect his position and do not try and discredit him with throw away lines or assumptions. I will not show him disrespect by taking an I'm right, you're wrong stance.

I learned to do this after I became a Christian, before my conversion (something that always reminds me of why changing back would be silly) I was a biggoted, loud mouth and abusive atheist. I showed no respect to anyone of faith - in fact I would go out of my way to belittle them. In fact I use to take drugs on the steps of the very church I ended up getting baptised and married in -- not the local either, one 20 kilometres from where I lived.

That's a rant, sorry -- the main thing is that the good path to understanding, adjustment and even reformation is through respectful dialogue, anything else is just head banging

RNS

Necandum said...

@Rob
"If I were to say atheists, due to the structure of the reasonable intelligence idea have no compassion, as compassion is actually a spiritual concept, then I would be being disrespectful to atheist people."


There are no beliefs which are attached to atheism. You can believe whatever you want, but as long as Gods aren't part of it, you're an atheist.

Also, compassion is not a spiritual virtue/concept. Its a human one, which we all posses, some more than others. Just because a person does not believe in Gods, does not then somehow mean they are lacking in compassion.

Actually, if all you know is that a person does not believe in Gods, that tells you almost nothing about them. No what they do believe in, not what values they hold, nothing at all about what kind of person they are.


"Stalin was an atheist -- if I applied some of what you apply to Christians or your generalization of the 'Church' can you see what kind of commentary I could deliver."


And then there's the:
Stalin= atheist
other person= atheist
thus...

How about we rephrase that?
Stalin= a-unicornist
Rob= a-unicornist
Thus...

See, it doesn't make any sense. There is nothing in common between myself and Stalin, except we are both atheists, Slavs and like vodka.

On the other hand, if someone is a Christian, that tells you a bit more about them. If someone is a Christian, it means that they subscribe to a certain world-view, a certain set of ethics, obey a certain authority. Or at least that they say they do. So yes, it might not tell you much, but two Christians have far more in common that two atheists.

Finally:
If you believe in any or one of:

God, souls, unicorns, spirits, devils, angels, Cthullu, heaven, hell, objective morality ect.

then, as I look at things, you believe in superstitions.

tomh said...

Anonymous said:
I single out the Catholic Church as it, unlike many other formalised Christian bodies adheres to the traditions of goat herders and the rule of Kings over unworthy subjects.

For someone so concerned with respectful discourse this is a rather disrespectful thing to say about one billion people. Not to mention extremely bigoted.

newer and reformed understanding of Christian faith takes a very honest and progressive position on the meaning of life and social lessons over the idea of something magical fixing problems.

Who's talking about social problems or the meaning of life? These new Christians believe in the same magical beings and superstitions that the old Christians do. There's nothing disrespectful about that statement, it's simply a fact.

Anonymous said...

Tom -- when I see someone say 'A fact' I kind of take the position they may not be open enough for anything other than a bolt with a nut type of thinking

Is Shroedingers Cat a fact?

Though I am quite opinionated, and I know I also have quite a degree of arrogance as well I understand responses to me and how they come about.

Is the Higgs Boson a fact?

As Jesus wasn't a magic being, just a man who was quite astute for his and even our time, I wonder if you say that is a fact to suit your POV

The Brotherhood of Light or even Bretheren are two Christian bodies that need to be feared rather than understood -- the Mormons have some very dark issues that have nothing to do with faith - so does saying this make me bigoted or informed?

You see Tom, I comment on the things I understand and know - have you ever been a Christian? and no, this doesn't mean did you grow up in a Christian family and go to church as a kid -- have you ever been a person who deliberately undertook a path of faith?

I did, and even after taking a very deliberate path of truth through atheism. The so called voice of intelligence and reason was my mantra, the evidence based facts my bible.

I also chose to change because of something I experienced. I wasn't asked, coerced or encouraged.

So, when I view the faith I have I do so from the stand point of critical atheistic thinking -- understanding how the whole shebang works is quite an advantage actually. Much better than throw away lines and limited views I guess. But then, not everyone wants to learn like me and I can't force them. You either want to know how things work and how they came about and what they do, or you sit somewhere else and point and say 'I know for a fact - I am right'

I use to say that myself once Tom -- things have changed since those days

Robert N Stephenson

Brian said...

Robert, this is Russell's blog, so it might not be the spot, but can you give a precis of how using critical atheist thinking one can arrive at faith? It seems to me that faith is the opposite of critical thinking. Faith is saying 'bugger the evidence and facts, I'm gonna believe inspite of them'. N'est-pas?