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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Personal announcement: appeal to my non-religious readers

Dear friends,

Several of you have expressed your puzzlement and even annoyance at the fact that in one of my recent posts I have quoted the Book of Genesis and I think that it is important for me to speak to this concern.

First and foremost, and this is really important to me, I want you to believe me when I say that I honestly understand your point of view.  I have lived all my life in the West and, believe me, I know from personal experience the kind of Christianity you have been exposed to.  I have seen many of my close friends struggle with huge dissonance between their attraction to the Christianity they saw in the New Testament and the kind of Christianity they could see around them on a daily basis: the money making hypocrites, the Bible-thumping screaming preachers, the pedophiles and the cover-ups, the clergy always on the side of the rich and powerful, the clergymen who preach celibacy and have their own "wives" at home, the churches who ban divorces but gladly "annul" marriages just to please a personality, those who stand for nothing, and those who only stand for hatred.  And worst of all, the clergyman and churches who are lukewarm, tepid, spineless, vapid and disgustingly subservient to the world.  Some of you said that when the read the worlds "and the LORD said..." they felt like gagging - well believe it or not, I think that this is a completely healthy reaction to the kind of religion you have been exposed to.  It's accepting that sort of religion which I find actually un-healthy and un-natural.  

But I ask you to please hear me out with as much objectivity as you can.

First, this blog deals primarily with two regions: the Middle-East and Russia.  The reason for that is because these are the regions where, in my opinion, most of the important "action" is happening.  Recently this blog has been "wall to wall Ukrainian", but that is only because something really important is happening there.  Before, for *years* I did not post a single thing about the Ukraine.  In the past, I posted mostly about the Middle-East and, especially, Iran and Hezbollah.  I did that because I considered that they played a crucial role.  Eventually, when I realized that Syria had become the front line, I did a huge amount of coverage of the civil war in Syria.  If tomorrow something massive happens in Australia or Iceland or Tahiti, I will try to cover that too.  But the fact is that for the foreseeable future the Middle-East and Russia are the two spots on the planet where the most important things are happening.  It so happens that these are also regions were religions play a crucial role.

Now, you do not have to believe in God to realize that there are some regions where religions are the single most important factor.  Furthermore, you simply cannot understand, say, Hassan Nasrallah unless you become acutely aware of his "system of reference" which is Shia Islam.  Finally, all religions have their own ethos, which often affects not only the pious faithful, but even those who are very superficially religious or not religious at all.  Russian Orthodoxy and Shia Islam both a very strong religious ethos inside them one which "reaches out" far beyond the narrow confines of the truly religious folks in Iran or Russia.  Why is that so important?

Because if you really want to understand Russians or Iranians, even the not very religious ones, you better get used to verses from the Bible or Suras from the Quran.  I am not saying that you have to agree, accept or endorse these texts, but you have to become conversant in the "language" and ethos they convey.  Just hating scriptural quotes is understandable, but not helpful in the Russian or Middle-Eastern context.


Second, you can easily view religion as a cultural phenomenon, something purely man-made which uses a symbolic, allegorical and metaphorical language to convey philosophical, social and moral issues.  Holy Writ can be seen as a system encoding historical, normative and legal notions.  The fact that some people "fill" these notions with a spiritual dimension does not at all force you to do likewise.  Bertrand Russel once wrote that "God created man in his image, and man returned him the favor". So consider religions as a man-made thing which, for some reason, seems important to the more naive and simply of us.  That's ok - no need to hate it then, no?

Third, I am confident that the majority of those who are disturbed by religion have had little - if any - exposure to traditional Orthodox Christianity (I am talking about the real thing here, not the ecumenist or "eastern rite" kind of nonsense) or truly traditional Islam (I don't mean the Wahabi crap you can see on TV).  One is 2000 years old, the other 1400 years old.  Compare that to, say, the Latin "traditionalists" of school of Archbishop Lefebvre whose "traditions" go back as "far" as the First Vatican Council of 1864-1870, i.e. less than 200 years ago.  By Islamic or Orthodox standards, Latin traditionalists are recent hyper-modernists, a religion in its infancy.  Almost all the denominations you have seen around yourself have their roots in very recent history, even those supposedly "traditional".  So here is what I want to submit to you: don't lump into one category those religions who are essentially recent inventions and those who have more than 1000 years of history behind them.  That does not mean that you have to admit that the older ones are necessarily "better", only that they are qualitatively different.  To put it most simply - it's not our folks which made you gag on the words "the LORD said" so please do not judge us by your experience with the other ones, don't just lump is all into one group called "religion" as religions come in a great variety of types and flavors.

Finally, you have to understand a simple thing: if this blog has any quality at all it is the fact that I never try to please anybody or to cater to any one constituency.  I get people pissed at me on a regular basis.  Many say that they don't agree with this or that, but that they are grateful for my honesty, and I fully accept that.  I am what I am, and I call it as I see it.  For me, religion is BY FAR the single most important element of international relations, culture, history, ethics, politics, justice, etc.  And I, the former military analyst, like to say that all warfare is inherently spiritual.  Others, say Richard Dawkins, believe that religion is just about the worst thing ever produced by mankind.  Marx thought that it was the opium of the people and that it was used by the ruling classes to keep the lower classes passive, easily subjugated and oppressed.  But this blog is not Dawkin's or Marx's blog - its mine, and it would be emptied of its substance if I tried to use the language and system of reference of a world which I comprehensively reject.  My religion shaped me, it shaped the way I think, the way I act, how I look at things, what I try to achieve and what I try to avoid.  How could I possibly have a blog not featuring regular religious references?!

I therefore want to ask you for your understanding and patience with me.  Even if I do quote the Scripture or make religious references, please judge what I write at its face value and don't let your past experiences obscure my message.  I am not Jerry Falwell, I am not Osama Bin Laden, I am not the Pope, I am not L. Ron Hubbard, I am not Sun Myung Moon, I am not Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, I am not Ian Paisley, I am not Jim Jones or David Koresh.  I am just a guy how happens to be very religious and whose religion is really ancient and different from anything you have seen in your life.  I am not asking you to endorse or accept that religion of mine, only to let me speak the way I normally do, without trying to look or sound like somebody else.

In other words, let them be them and let me be me.  I am a Russian Orthodox Christian, of a very traditionalist kind of persuasion and I have nothing, really absolutely nothing at all, in common with the rest of them.  Please accept me as I am and judge me for what I do.  That, I think, would be only reasonable and fair.

Many thanks for your understanding and kind regards,

The Saker

74 comments:

C Stegiel said...

Saker have you read Athens or Jerusalem by Lev Shestov? I think his thought on the difference between spiritual faith and secular reason are as timely today as at the of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Anonymous said...

Well; There goes the godless commie meme.

Anonymous said...

Do your thing Saker, amigo. I must say that at first I too was somewhat turned off by the religiosity exposed. I'm sure some like me found it hard to digest, since it was different from what we are accustomed to in this fine blog.
Yet you make very valid points. You shouldn't experience a drop in your readership, since you have brought this up now more people will understand where you are coming from, no?
Keep em coming, we all need a little more portions of Jesus or Mohammed in our lives.
Andale!
Fernando

Anonymous said...

@The word "Easter" comes from the old English word Ēostre - a Germanic pagan Goddess.

I had prepared an answer to that in a previous post, but for some reasons did not went through. Actually it is more appropriate here, because it reflects the different perceptions of Christianity by the East and the West.

A little background (from Wikipedia for convenience):

"Ēostre or Ostara (Northumbrian Old English: Ēostre; West Saxon Old English: Ēastre; Old High German: *Ôstara) is a goddess in Germanic paganism who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth), is the namesake of the festival of Easter.
Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work De temporum ratione, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent to the month of April) feasts were held in Eostre's honor among the pagan Anglo-Saxons, but had died out by the time of his writing, replaced by the Christian "Paschal month" (a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus)....Scholars have linked the goddess' name to a variety of Germanic personal names, a series of location names in England, over 150 2nd century BCE Matronae (the matronae Austriahenea) inscriptions discovered in Germany, and have debated whether or not Eostre is an invention of Bede's, and theories connecting Ēostre with records of Germanic Easter customs (including hares and eggs) have been proposed. Ēostre and Ostara are sometimes referenced in modern popular culture, and are venerated in some forms of Germanic Neopaganism".

Old English Eōstre continues into modern English as Easter and derives from Proto-Germanic *austrōn meaning 'dawn', itself a descendent of the Proto-Indo-European root *aus-, meaning 'to shine' (modern English east also derives from this root)".

These theories, so much beloved by the Neo-pagans , Wicca, Neo-druids, have little to do with reality.

The name of the "Pascal month" is related to Dawn, East, Rising, and undoubtedly means the Month of the Rising, the Rising of Christ from the dead!

It is the exact translation of Anastasis(Rising) which is the Greek name of the Resurrection.
Also the Slavonic vostanie, from Vostok (the East).
And the German Ost>Oster, ostermonat (Old Germ. ostarmanoth).
No Ostara, no Osterhaas (Easter Bunny!). Everything refer to a deep penetration of Christianity at an early date and a lack of influence from the "pagan religions", no matter what the Wiccans believe.

We are still in Lent, so the Pascal greetings will come at the appointed time,

WizOz

Nora said...

Saker, I'm simultaneously saddened that you felt a need to write this, and deeply glad that you did. It is beautiful, and I truly envy you growing up with the faith, and faith-inspired ethos, that you did.

But I am wondering if you could elaborate further on this: "For me, religion is BY FAR the single most important element of international relations, culture, history, ethics, politics, justice, etc. And I, the former military analyst, like to say that all warfare is inherently spiritual." I'm trying to apply it to the US and generating lots of hypotheses, but I'd really rather hear your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Davidius

"For me, religion is BY FAR the single most important element of international relations, culture, history, ethics, politics, justice, etc"

Sorry Saker bur I'm more into looking for how benefits from something, or better, looking for there the money goes.

I don't care about religion, it's not my cup of tea. But I don't care about others beliefs. It's a private matter. But religion has had 2000 years to come up whit solutions, and have failed all the way.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@Nora: Saker, I'm simultaneously saddened that you felt a need to write this, and deeply glad that you did.

The world we live in is a sad one. The fact that being an atheist in it is a *healthy* and *sane* reaction to the pseudo-spirituality we live in really says it all. Scary, sad, but true.

It is beautiful, and I truly envy you growing up with the faith, and faith-inspired ethos, that you did

My father abandoned me and my mother when I was 5 year old. So the main influence on me during my childhood was my spiritual father, a very wise and kind Orthodox Archbishop to whom I owe the fact that no matter how ugly the pseudo-spirituality around me was I always knew that "the real thing" existed.

But I am wondering if you could elaborate further on this: "For me, religion is BY FAR the single most important element

Well, since you asked I, of course, will, but not today, probably tomorrow though. In the meantime I wish you a joyful and peaceful Sunday evening, kind regards,

The Saker

Brian Ngenoh said...

Agreed that all warfare is meta-physical in nature, for the root of all conflict, lies in differences and how those differences are percived and acted upon.

Maybe conflict is a natural state for all beings that exist, and veiling this one simple fact, is what has allowed so much evil to take root and spread throughout this lovely planet.

Hmm that's an interesting thought, conflict is natural, but like a hurricane and other phenomena of nature, if one cannot avoid it, then preparation is key.

Interesting thought patterns you've triggered there saker, I'm much obliged to you. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm......
The Atheists Prayer:
"Lord protect me from your followers"

DavidK

Yvonne said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now and yes, I've seen frequent references to Scripture/religion but that doesn't bother me at all, this is your blog and you're entitled to write whatever you want. Because every religious faith deserves my utmost respect regardless of what I personally believe in, I haven't felt the need for anyone to explain his/her beliefs. But I certainly do appreciate the fact that you took the time and effort to do so. Greetings from Mexico.

Brian Ngenoh said...

Me again Saker, :-)

In one of your relatively recent posts, you described works of spiritual or meta-physical guidance as survival manuals for our duration in the body.

If as per my previous post, conflict is the natural order of things, broadly categorized as good vs evil, then wouldn't it be logical to presume that those works, especially the most influential and most accurate, would be prime candidates for psyops and other information warfare operations throughout time?

So what is my point?

That jihad is true and real, the jihad of the sword, if one is called on for that function, the internal jihad, and the jihad of the pen, as in "the greatest jihad is to speak the word of truth to a tyrant," but who is the tyrant? Because a tyrant to one is a "savior" to another.

P.s. My religious affiliation is truth, no matter who reveals it. As to why I chose the Islamic word, don't know, maybe it was a muse.

Anonymous said...

Nobody should feel the obligation to apologise for religious beliefs or tendencies, because this is probably the most uniquely human trait.

Those who believe religious beliefs somehow diminish a person's ability to reason are themselves severely impaired in their ability to reason. Those who believe religous people are stupid, are doubly stupid. This judgment is final.

Anonymous said...

Keep going Saker and lots of blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

"Well; There goes the godless commie meme.

13 April, 2014 19:36"

In response to this second comment in the thread, I just wanted to point out (as I did to Moscow State University Prof. Mark Sleboda who links to this site on his Twitter page) that the 'controlled Right wing' outlets in the Washington D.C. suburbs down the road from Langley are suddenly pushing back hard against the 'Holy Russia vs. New Evil Empire USSA' themes that have attracted Pat Buchanan and a small number of traditionalist Catholics and even smaller number of Evangelicals. Even this website in blog posts like this one has of course discussed religious faith, and in particular Shi'a Islam which has been demonized to no end since the 1979 Iranian Revolution overthrowing the Shah began the U.S.-Iran Cold War.

What I think can be surmised from the resources being put into this shoddy but growing effort (including the $ behind a new website and Cliff Kincaid's trolling on camera/'ambush' agenda journalism) techniques is that not only has the success of Russia Today online freaked the propaganda organs out in the U.S. (that's been obvious since Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson's 'we must not be outcommunicated by our enemies' speech in 2007); but that the religious angle whereby American Christians are increasingly being told about Orthodoxy contrasted with their own degrading society is freaking the CIA out.

Since it's founding by mostly WASPy Anglo-Saxon Protestants (who were mostly Masonic and possibly Illuminist at core) as the OSS in WWII, the CIA has always poured great effort into religious as well as political propaganda. Most of us who comment here with some exposure to Operation Paperclip know that the Vatican cooperated closely with the Agency particularly to stop the Italian Communists in the 40s and 50s (such cooperation culminated in the 'P2 Lodge' mentioned in the Godfather Part III whereby many Vatican insiders defied Church teaching and risked defrocking by the anti-Masonic Pope John Paul II if their membership in the CIA/Italian intel controlled Lodge in Rome was found out). But many people don't realize how often the CIA sought to influence evangelical leaders like even Billy Graham, naturally relying on their inherent anti-Communism.

Anonymous said...

Part 2 of my prior comment:

CIA has always been able to influence Evangelicals to a certain extent using Apocalyptic literature -- witness the grip US-USSR Armageddon had on President Reagan's thinking, including the bestselling book of the early 1980s "The Late Great Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsey and identification of Gog and Magog in the Bible (that are likely spiritual enemies/demonic rather than fleshly armies) with 'Prince of Rosh' or China in mistranslated texts or interpretations from Ezekiel. (Jewish Evangelical convert Joel Rosenberg also published a bestseller called "The Ezekiel Option" which was plugged on the Glenn Beck network a lot).

It is of course no coincidence that such Gog/Magog = Russia themes appeared alongside the bogus theology of 'Dispensationalism' and a literal 7 year Tribulation and pre-Trib Rapture (also bad doctrine now even acknowledged by many Evangelicals as well as most Catholics) during the mid-19th century. That was a time of intense Anglo-Russian rivalry after the Crimean War.

So it's possible CIA simply picked up a propaganda meme that had been developed by their British Empire predecessors to turn Anglicans and Evangelicals against Russian Orthodoxy and view it as only a tool of repression in the hands of the Tsar running his 'prison house of the nations' (a phrase much used by George F. Kennan's 1890s Siberian travelling namesake).

Concluding this rather long comment, I detect a certain amount of panic in the U.S. Establishment as they fear that not only are many Evangelicals and traditionalist Catholics turning against Washington, they are also rejecting American foreign policy as explicitly anti-Christian, particularly in the Middle East where the Iraq invasion, Arab Spring and Syria war has led to nothing but suffering for Arab Christians (if you doubt this, see the TIME magazine international cover which accuses Mideast Christians especially Syria's churches of siding with Assad, implying persecution is what they deserve, while cowardly refusing to show the same cover to the American people for fear irate Evangelicals would boycott the dying TIME magazine).

Even worse for CIA's 'evangelical' propaganda efforts, a handful of independent Christian talk radio hosts such as Rick Wiles, perhaps driven too much by the election of Barack Obama, have even started labelling America 'Mystery of Babylon' from the Book of Revelations. Mr. Wiles says while he doesn't like Putin at least Putin is acknowledging God and therefore his armies are enjoying success while God Judges America. Pat Buchanan's article 'Whose Side is God On' thus represents an attempt by Buchanan to 'smoke out' this fear in the D.C. Establishment's psyops orgs.

The CIA most certainly in its ideological warfare sections is listening to this 'God is on Russia's side' chatter (as are the Naval War College NSA Twitter warriors like the nominally Orthodox John R. Schindler and Tom Nichols) and they are VERY UNHAPPY that many Americans now view their own government as godless or pro-Salafist! Hence the pushback and propaganda operations we are already starting to see.

I just felt someone needed to introduce this because it ties your Russian Orthodox worldview in with the broader ideological fight with the globalists we see happening now in the U.S.-Russia propaganda war. (I am not necessarily saying God is on Russia's side, as Lincoln said we should all strive to be on His). Putin's statements about Western promotion of non-traditional values has scared the psychological warriors far more than they let on, though Prof. Schindler whose speciality apparently in NSA was disinformatsiya in the Balkans (hence his obsession with alleged Russian disinfo and propaganda) wears his fears about this 'Holy Rus' ideological offensive on his sleeve.

http://www.aim.org/aim-column/modern-day-russian-dupes/

http://20committee.com/2014/04/07/putinism-and-the-anti-weird-coalition/

Anonymous said...

Last comment for me on this thread and 'CIA freaked out about Russia's counter-godlessness ideological offensive':

http://www.aim.org/aim-column/modern-day-russian-dupes/

Note that in this column, the not very bright Mr. Kincaid links to an essay about the alleged revival of Occultism in Russia that dates from 2007. The article itself was published by a 'Birgit Menzel' in an obscure scholarly journal called the Harriman Review apparently loosely associated with Columbia University. Columbia of course was where young Barry Soetoro aka Barack Obama enrolled but rarely attended classes according to many Columbia alums who were on campus at that time. Obama's first job out of Columbia was with a CIA front company, which is no surprise because intelligence agencies tend to rely on 'families' or 'bloodlines' and Barry's grandparents were both CIA under cover of Hawaii banks. Obama's grandmother Ann Dunham and her husband Stan Dunham were working to topple the non-aligned movement leading Sukarno government in energy and minerals-rich Indonesia back in the 1960s. (This was all documented in former Senate Intelligence Committee career staffer and Boston University Prof. Angelo Codevilla's Claremont Review essay "The Chosen One", which survived a recent attempt at takedown).

The point is, Columbia has been used as a CIA front many times down through the years, and this essay about Occultism among powerful Russians could be part of early groundwork to discredit Putin's then growing ties to the Russian Orthodox Church (just as Kincaid draws on Soviet defectors who try to stay relevant by insisting all Russian Orthodox prelates even now were and are 'KGB').

http://renaissancc.rchgi.spb.ru/science/center/ezo/publications/The_Occult_Revival.pdf

Since efforts to create scandals to discredit the Moscow Patriarchate as cruel and medieval like Pussy Riot failed (and Prof. Dugin saw them for what they were, ideological berserkers or pathfinders for a broader propaganda offensive vs the ROC) it's likely the propaganda that the Patriarch and Orthodox prelates are all secretly Masons, Illuminists or Satanists duping Western Christians about Holy Rus will increase. I wouldn't except anything less from Kincaid who links to a CIA News Network report that flat out lies about child pornography being legal in Russia.

What people fear, they attack. All it took was a single event at the National Press Club and event sponsored by Yakunin to welcome Western Evangelicals to the Kremlin to discuss a common front on moral issues with the Orthodox and CIA propaganda machine went into hyperdrive. Luckily for us in the reality-based community and honest Orthodox of all nationalities, few people take insane propaganda like Kincaid's seriously and his shiny new site's own links don't work.

Anonymous said...

Apologies, the Isaacson 'not being outcommunicated by our enemies' speech was in 2010, and I believe Hillary's 'we are losing the information war' admission to Congress in 2011.

Nora said...

Two fascinating pieces on the state of, well, at least some followers of Western Christianity:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/tony-blair-george-w-bush-and-david-cameron-hi-jacking-god/5377707

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/04/13/woman-calls-police-on-homeless-jesus-statue-installed-in-upscale-neighborhood/

Money quote:

Not everyone in the neighborhood is enamored with the work of art, with Swannock saying, “Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help. We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

Anonymous said...

Greetings!

I must agree with the author of this blog.

Religious beliefs (or the lack therof) are paramount in the understanding of human psychology.

Russian psychology is very strongly influenced by the fact that Russia is the last standing Orthodox Empire, and as such it is entrusted with a specific mission: the defense of the Orthodox heritage.

Below are three links that summarize my take on the topic:

http://rt.com/news/nuclear-submarine-orthodox-chapel-253/

http://traditio-ru.org/wiki/%D0%90%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%BC%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B5_%D0%9F%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BB%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B5

http://youtu.be/z11pmw_laY0

Interestingly enough, the main production facility of Russian nuclear weapons is located in the city named Arsamas 16 during the Soviet era, but which historical name is Sarov i.e. the place where lived one of the greatest Russian Orthodox saints: Saint Seraphim.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarov

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Seraphim_of_Sarov

Anonymous said...

The ones who don't understand the place of Andrej Rublev or the Sacrifice of Imam Hussein or what the Crucifixion of Jesus meant to people in His region can't possibly comprehend the choices people made ,make and will make in the Mashrek or Russia in terms of sacrifice for Justice.Spirituality is our DNA and our strength in a world which cherish the material conquest above all things.

johnshaplin said...

Christ's kingdom, whenever it begins to flourish in any quarter, drives wicked men to madness and fury. Every man in his senses perceives that they are mad dogs that would fain tear you to pieces, and when they cannot bite, take revenge upon themselves by barking . . .Such is the backwardness or rather indifference that pervades all of us, that, while many give cold assent to the doctrine of the gospel, scarcely one in a hundred will, for the sake of it, if he possesses the most insignificant little farm, allow himself to be torn from it. As, however, it were better that my readers should resolve in their minds more than I can express in words, I now turn to entreat, that God, who has encouraged you hitherto by the wonderful efficacy of His Spirit, may furnish you with an unconquerable perseverance unto the end."- John Calvin

Anonymous said...

Hi Saker,

Just lost access to your blog for about 10 minutes starting at 22:35 EST. I'm in western Canada.

Received this message:

Blog has been removed

Sorry, the blog at vineyardsaker.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.

Anonymous said...

The introduction of the Scofield Bible into the West, which dates back to 1909 may explain partially, how Western religion was subverted and turn their religious institutions into ones that are very non-Christian.

It is mentioned on the site http://www.tomatobubble.com.

Cyrus Scofield is a small time politician and career criminal. In 1873, he is forced to resign his position as a District Attorney because of crooked financial transactions, that include accepting bribes, stealing political contributions, and securing bank notes by forging signatures. Scofield then serves jail time for forgery charges.

A heavy drinker, Scofield later abandons his wife and two daughters. His wife finally divorces the drunken crook in 1883.

As so many con-men do, Scofield will then claim to have "found Jesus". He is ordained as a Minister and then claims to have a Doctor of Divinity degree, but this degree is never verified.

After several mysterious trips to Europe and New York, Scofield publishes the notated reference Bible that bears his name. The added side notes in Scofield's Bible inject a very weird "End Times" prophecy into Christianity. Because of Scofield's altered Bible, many Christians today believe that Jesus will return to save his followers from the "end times" (The Rapture), after Israel is established, and that "God will bless those who bless Israel."

This biblical alteration, at the hands of a known criminal, marks the beginning of a powerful force in American politics known as "Christian Zionism." Many millions of "Evangelical" Christians have been mentally infected with Scofield's poison. Christian Zionists are even more fanatical in their support of Israel than the Jewish Zionists are!

The Scofield Bible is very good for Zionism! The question is, who did the con-man Scofield meet with while in New York and Europe?

http://www.tomatobubble.com/fh3.html

This may be oversimplified of course.

Another source (which admittedly I have not read) is the book: The Plot Against the Church by Maurice Pinay.

You can download a free copy here:

https://archive.org/details/ThePlotAgainstTheChurch_192

Anonymous said...

OK by me.

Anonymous said...

@The Saker

Seems i have at least triggered this post of yours. So i will comment to some points as if you were responding to my comments.

Thank you for explaining your stance on this, it certainly makes me see where you come from.

"But I ask you to please hear me out with as much objectivity as you can."

I always _try_ to be objective, sometimes this can be derailed a bit though ;)

"Just hating scriptural quotes is understandable, but not helpful in the Russian or Middle-Eastern context."

I do not hate scriptual quotes. They are not part of my life, i avoid them, especially when i'm somewhere completely unrelated with my mind.

"So consider religions as a man-made thing which, for some reason, seems important to the more naive and simply of us. That's ok - no need to hate it then, no?"

Again, no hate. Why do you keep saying 'hate', did i, or another one of your commenters really give you this impression? Also "to the more naive and simply of us" i read that as sarcasm pointed at non religious people since you clearly do not judge yourself as naive and simple.

Do people even exist who were born and raised and grew up without religion and were not very negatively affected by religion, who really _hate_ religion? Annoyed, maybe yes but hate?

I myself am happy if i am being left alone by those types of religious people who hate me for being non-religious.

"So here is what I want to submit to you: don't lump into one category those religions who are essentially recent inventions and those who have more than 1000 years of history behind them.

I do not lump religions together willfully, i am really that uninformed that i don't know which religion evolved from which one and in what order and timeframe. One thing i grasped (please correct me if i'm wrong) is that chritianity, juadaism and islam have the same roots and developed in the middle east. Also, that powers using offsprings of these went on to convert big parts of the world. Speaking of which, oftentimes replacing native religions/cultures which developed for many many thousands of years before. Also the religion and culture of the Russian ancestors was at least partly being replaced by an, by that time, alien religion. Of course, quite some time has passed since then.

"Finally, you have to understand a simple thing: if this blog has any quality at all it is the fact that I never try to please anybody or to cater to any one constituency. I get people pissed at me on a regular basis."

Haha, i can relate to that ;) Happens to me as well, some say it does not really help me. Yet, it feels good to be like that. I guess.

"I therefore want to ask you for your understanding and patience with me."
"In other words, let them be them and let me be me. I am a Russian Orthodox Christian, of a very traditionalist kind of persuasion and I have nothing, really absolutely nothing at all, in common with the rest of them. Please accept me as I am and judge me for what I do. That, I think, would be only reasonable and fair.

That's fair. I see where you come from. I'm sorry if i should have stepped on your toe (but judging from your post, you are thick skinned enough not to be upset).

-yt

Anonymous said...

@The Saker: additional comment to your comment:

"The world we live in is a sad one. The fact that being an atheist in it is a *healthy* and *sane* reaction to the pseudo-spirituality we live in really says it all. Scary, sad, but true."

I was just finished typing my comments and then i've read your comment here.

There it is again. You give an example on how you view a non-religious person. Almost mildly pitying the 'atheist' for being what he is. The poor bastard, the non-believer, barely escaped the 'wrong' religion.

Sorry, i see where you are coming from and all, now knowing more about how you have been raised. You, as a kid, seemingly never had the chance to see the world without the powerful influence of an archbishop as the father figure - and it shows.

IMHO, being not a believer of a religion is usually not the product of a 'healthy' and 'sane' reaction to pseudo-spirituality, but oftentimes just the fact of not being raised under the bias of a religion.

Sorry, but same as you, i am not trying to please everyone, also not you. Just telling it as i see it.

-yt

Nora said...

anonymous 22:15

Samuel Untermeyer, a wealthy Zionist NYC lawyer who also blackmailed Woodrow Wilson (re: an affair with a neighbor's wife in Princeton) into naming Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court, is generally given credit for "befriending" the penniless Scofield and paying his rent at the expensive and exclusive Lotos Club in NYC while he was writing that danged thing. It is also believed that Untermeyer helped Scofield write it

Anonymous said...

Saker, I also lost access to your blog in the same way as indicated by anonymous 22:51, receiving this message:

"Blog has been removed

Sorry, the blog at vineyardsaker.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs."

And I thought: now Obama is on pair with the new Sultan Erdogan...

Would you mind posting the URL to the alternative site(s) again, just in case this blog is removed? You did it some time ago, but I failed to write it down, and don't know where to look for it now.

Thanks a lot.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@yt:ou give an example on how you view a non-religious person. Almost mildly pitying the 'atheist' for being what he is. The poor bastard, the non-believer, barely escaped the 'wrong' religion.

Now you are being plain silly or illogical. What did you expect? That those who believe in the existence of God would *not* feel sorry for those who do not believe in His existence? How can a seeing person not feel sorry for the blind? From your point of you, you should say that the religious are not seeing anything but are hallucinating - that would at least make sense - but to be consistent with our hallucination, our delusion of sight we would *have* to feel sorry for you. That is just basic logic. The point is not whether what we see is real or delusional, but that within that vision we can only feel sorry for somebody who does not share it.

Furthermore, it is pretty darn obvious that we - religious folk - happen the think that religion and belief in God are pretty darn important for the well-being of a person not only in the future afterlife (which, of course, we believe in), but also in the present life.

So when you expect us to say "we believe, you do not, but that really is ok, it makes no difference" you are being illogical. It's like me being an Orthodox Christian being shocked and offended that a Muslim would not share my beliefs. Well, OF COURSE, he does not share my beliefs, that come in the package called "being Muslim" just like feeling sorry for the non-believers comes in the package called "being religious".

You probably have seen too many pseudo-religious folks who either don't believe in much or are more concerned about not ruffling your feathers then being truthful. Not me. So,for the record, let me tell you something which you could have figured out on your own:

I feel terribly sorry for you and all those who believe in nothing. You are, in my opinion, that saddest possible type of orphan - one that does not even have an awareness of his Creator. As a result, you live in a spiritual desert where nothing is good or bad, nothing is wrong or right, nothing is true or false, and nothing really exists. An existence reduced to surviving the absurd as best can be. Of course, you will disagree and that's fine. After all, this is *my* opinion and obviously not yours.

I will never deny you the freedom of choice or the right to chose to live in what I see as a desert. Nor will I ever deny you the right to call that desert fertile and full of lush life. I won't even deny you your right to say that I live in a man-made illusion and that this illusion prevents me from seeing the important in the "real" life. But how you can seriously expect me not to feel sorry for you?! That is just no reasonable.

I probably won't convince you of it, but, really, its pretty darn obvious.

My 2cts, cheers!

The Saker

Anonymous said...

Saker

Your religious views add to a better understanding of where you are coming from and how you see events unfold. Including how you view how others think and react.

I have this very odd philosophy about religion (odd for one stranded in the USA). As long as a person isn't insulting by trying to convert me, or oppressive by trying to have legislation/laws that enforce their religious beliefs, I'm fine whatever they personally believe. I may feel uncomfortable around them if their beliefs are something alien to my experience, but that is mostly because I'm unsure of their reactions to something I might say or do and don't want to offend needlessly.

I personally think the two greatest evils in the world are people who try and control others (power mongers) and greed (lack of compassion). Usually, those mental deficiencies go hand in hand.

вот так

Anonymous said...

Saker, my suggestion to you is to open a wordpress blog and transfer over there a copy of all archives existing here on blogspot. Suffice a mouse-click to do it.

It would be a pity if all your archives got deleted. There is too much work of yours here, and many important files that must be saved somewhere else.

Kind regards

Anonymous said...

Fellow Anon -- thank you for the mention of the Scofield Reference Bible. I had never heard about it promoting Christian Zionism which I thought came slightly later (the founder and first trainer of the Haganah for example was an English Christian Zionist named Wingate who still has a street in Jerusalem named for him). But I was aware that the Scofield Reference Bible had really spread the doctrine of pre-Tribulation Rapture among the masses in North America and the Anglosphere. Thank God there are Evangelical Patriot movement leaders like Chuck Baldwin who are debunking the pre-Trib Rapture in America now. It is slowly dawning on American Christians even of not great commitment (and sinner that I am, I can't say as an Orthodox I go to liturgy or confession nearly enough but I try to pray at home, being Orthodox is much harder in much of America than it is in Russia just as it's harder to keep Jewish law in America outside of say Brooklyn than it is for a Jew in Israel).

I can say as an Orthodox convert from Protestantism I am not entirely comfortable with all the language of 'Zionazis' here. But neither do I wish to bog down threads by getting into useless arguments with people who may not be hardcore anti-Semites but are simply tired of the State of Israel being the sort of Darth Vader for the Anglo-American Emperor Palpatine.

Speaking only for myself, once I became Orthodox and even before I was baptized into the ROCOR I stopped putting the modern state of Israel on a pedestal. Israeli participation in training the armed forces of Georgia and cooperation in militarizing that country prior to the 08/08/08 war chipped away at my respect for Israeli governments, as did the constant threats of an attack on Iran that was always imminent but never seemed to materialize (even if perhaps CENTCOM and others warned the Israelis US forces might get in the way).

In contrast to the almost co-salvation heresy of many Evangelicals, whereby individuals are getting into heaven if not for being born Jewish than certainly even while rejecting Christ, I simply try to follow Romans 10-11 and pray for the salvation of the Jewish people. I neither put them on a pedestal nor do I demonize them or Zionists or Zionism as the root of all evil in this fallen world. Whether or not the ingathering of the Jewish people in the Holy Land is part of God's plan for the 'End Times' (a misnomer since it is not up to us to know whether Christ may tarry for a few more decades or another thousand years) I leave to God. Of course Orthodoxy does have its own theology of Eschatology, and there are even some Greek Orthodox prophecies from Elder Paisos that state the Hagia Sofia will be restored, just as there's a Russian prophecy by some priests & martyrs of the Bolshevik yoke that Russia will see one last Tsar before Christ returns to Earth. But obviously those have not been fulfilled so I don't concern myself with their fulfillment (it should be noted that many hateful Ukrainian nationalists on Twitter this past week have been cursing Russian Orthodox saying they have messianic ambitions to move from Crimea into Instanbul and reclaim Constantinople for Orthodoxy and that the Turks will reconquer Crimea for the Tartars or similar nonsense).

Of course there are Jewish individuals like Soros who are horrible for the Jewish people, and Jewish neocons willing to ally with Right Sector/Svoboda thugs who have put their Jew hatred on the back burner to fight the Moskali and even perhaps get some money from Jewish Ukrainian Israeli passport holding oligarchs. But that is no excuse to hate all Jews any more than I should hate all Ukrainians who refuse to choose a side in the Donbass for the actions of the Galician ultranationalists or the Kiev junta!

Anyway I'm glad our host sticks with Solzhenitsyn's maxim that the line between good and evil is not between races, nations or ideological 'camps' but through every human heart.

E said...

I'm an ignostic ("i" not "a"), but I don't mind the religious quotes. Maybe because I have no reason to hate religion or religious people. I was a believer when young simply because that's what was taught in kindergarten. But sometime before high school, religion just stopped making sense, without me even being aware of it at first. Then I had a period of a few years when I tried very seriously to figure out WHY it had stopped making sense, and I had a lot of online discussions/arguments about it. That's about when I discovered the philosophy of science and the concept of falsifiability. Today, I think this comic sums up my view on the subject relatively well:
http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2292

@Saker:
"As a result, you live in a spiritual desert where nothing is good or bad, nothing is wrong or right, nothing is true or false, and nothing really exists. An existence reduced to surviving the absurd as best can be."

Well, I find that to be a pretty accurate description, but... only if you were to look at it from a particular outside perspective.

From my internal perspective, the experience is different... all of those things (good/evil, true/false) exist. They just become less and less applicable the further one gets from my frame of reference, until at the great scales of the cosmic level, I accept that they hold no relevance at all.

I think that all systems, explanations and theories are simplifications; they all have their proper place somewhere, but none of them can be applied to everything (if at least for practical reasons, because humans do not have unlimited time and energy). And so, different aspects of existence must be understood through different, incompatible systems, with contentious border regions between them.

As a side note, this aligns very nicely with your theory of how religion (or at least the broader thought framework that it often represents) is the best way to understand the divisions in the world today.

"you can easily view religion as a cultural phenomenon, something purely man-made which uses a symbolic, allegorical and metaphorical language to convey philosophical, social and moral issues. Holy Writ can be seen as a system encoding historical, normative and legal notions."

That's exactly how I DO view it. And I'm happy to see that you can understand this perspective as well, and lay it out so clearly! I would like it if you could use it sometimes when you analyze things by quoting from scripture. Obviously it's not one you entirely share, so I won't be pushy. :)

Anonymous said...

There certainly are "sincere" atheists because they were born into a family of believers in Atheism. They are around for a very long time.
Already the Psalmist was saying:

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
2 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord" (Psalm 14).

But the origin of modern atheism resides in the war propaganda against the Church of Christ, actually against the person of Jesus. The atheist pretend that they do not hate, but the simple fact that they feel the urge to sneer at the believers and can't refrain to insult them gives them away. Why this type of people commented at all if "scriptual quotes are not part of my life, i avoid them"?

WizOz

Anonymous said...

@I simply try to follow Romans 10-11 and pray for the salvation of the Jewish people...the line between good and evil is not between races, nations or ideological 'camps' but through every human heart.

Why do Paul pray for their salvation if he did not feel that they were cast away? In any case he prays to "provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save SOME of them", "And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again". Paul prays for the Jews to have a change of heart and believe in Christ.

WizOz

Theodore Svedberg said...

Dear Saker. I have been looking at your site for about 2 months and I have posted maybe 3 or 4 comments. I do like your perspectives. Personnaly I happen to be an atheist and really cannot connect to your christianity. That doesn't bother me for the simple reason that many of my close friends have rich spiritual lives in Muslim, Christian and Bhudists traditions. Personally I have also found Solzhenistan and Dostoevshy spiritualism interesting if not personally appealing.

Bankotsu said...

Saker, your thoughts on warfare reminds me of Prof Carroll Quigley's Weapons Systems and Political Stability, maybe you can check it out.

http://www.carrollquigley.net/books.htm

And don't miss Dr Quigley's analysis of Russian civilisation:

http://real-world-news.org/bk-quigley/03.html

Anonymous said...

Hi Saker,

I like your blog because you are very religious but not fanatic nor prejudice.

I thought that I knew a lot about Christianity, but alas a person keeps on learning until he/she is 6 feet under.

Please, can you enlighten me more about Orthodox Christianity, and how it differs from the regular mainstream Christianity. I need to learn.

Also, do the Orthodox Christianity, take the complete TaNaKh (Torah, Neviim and Ketuvim)as OT, or just the Torah as OT?

I posted for you earlier the Shia belief about God, the Sermon 185 by Imam Ali. I was disappointed that you didn't comment on it. This sermon made the Sunni religion to close the doors of progress on them. This is what divides the Shia and the Sunni.

This sermon will explain why the Shia are very spiritual and close to Christianity. And, why they consider the Prince of Peace Jesus (as) the Manifest of God.

A Shia Muslim.

Anonymous said...

@Quigley,

Actually Quigley analysis of Russian civilisation does not do anything else than to regurgitate the usual platitudes and prejudices of the Wests "understanding" of "Rest".

WizOz

Anonymous said...

@The Saker, part 1:

"@yt:ou give an example on how ...

Now you are being plain silly or illogical."

I merely pointed out the truth about your world-view in a way that shows my stance on it. What part is illogical? Now, it's interesting how you can come to the conclusion that a person is being illogical and silly.

"What did you expect?"
"From your point of you, you should say that the religious are not seeing anything but are hallucinating - that would at least make sense - but to be consistent with our hallucination, our delusion of sight we would *have* to feel sorry for you."

I did not state an expectation. If you want, yes, in my mind you are beliving in a phantasy, maybe call it hallucination if you will. You really believe you have seen the light and we non-religious folks are still out in the dark. You think you are supreme because of your enlightenment. This feeling 'sorry' is the root of pretexts to meddle in other peoples lifes _Who Do Not Want That_. I (we?) do not want - nor need - your pity. It's presumptuous. It's arrogant.

"Furthermore, it is pretty darn obvious that we - religious folk - happen the think that religion and belief in God are pretty darn important for the well-being of a person .."

If you think it's important for you, go ahead, it's YOUR life. But please do not think of religion and belief is important for 'a person' as in 'other persons besides myself'.

"So when you expect us to say "we believe, you do not, but that really is ok, it makes no difference" you are being illogical."

Yes, i expect you to be 'ok' with other peoples beliefs (that includes a certain lack thereof). Let us be ourself.

Maybe i am really being illogical here, but that would mean you want to dictate to others in their world view. I deny you the right to do so with me.

"I feel terribly sorry for you and all those who believe in nothing. You are, in my opinion, that saddest possible type of orphan - one that does not even have an awareness of his Creator. As a result, you live in a spiritual desert where nothing is good or bad, nothing is wrong or right, nothing is true or false, and nothing really exists. An existence reduced to surviving the absurd as best can be. Of course, you will disagree and that's fine. After all, this is *my* opinion and obviously not yours."

Now this is just great. I'd not have expected this from you, maybe i am really naive. The perceived arrogance is through the roof. You clearly state that non-believers, in your opinion, can't have ethos, morality and basic humanity values ("nothing is good or bad, nothing is wrong or right, nothing is true or false"). That kind of view is what makes intelligent non-believers just turn away from your kind in disgust. And no, i am not sorry for you, i _can't_ be sorry for millions and millions of people like you, who follow a phantasy and by doing so, look _down_ on other humans.

tbc

-yt

Anonymous said...

@The Saker, part 2:

"I will never deny you the freedom of choice or the right to chose to live in what I see as a desert."

That is a fallacy. Maybe not you personally, but religious organizations and their followers will and do! What freedom of choice does a child have, growing up in a religious environment? Also, since religion and the real life of people are so intermixed, in the past and today in religios regions, many people have not much of a choice. Some individuals may be able to swim against the current, most can't.

Even beginning a sentence with "I will never deny you the freedom of .." presumes you'd have the 'Power' and/or 'Right' to do so to begin with. You do not.

"But how you can seriously expect me not to feel sorry for you?! That is just no reasonable."

That is exactly what i expect from you. I kindly ask you, do not feel sorry for me. I am none of your business.

By the way, you only commented on this one point of mine, not on my other comments. Not that you are obliged to, it just tells me that you do not want to share your opinions on these.

Also, if you'd have read my later comments on the one which triggered your post, you'd have seen that i admitted of having been over-sensitive about your "And the LORD said .." and that i missed the message you wanted to transport. In hindsight, that was not worthy to jump on.

Your reaction though, not so much in your blog post, but here in the comments are insightful.

In closing, even though it might not seem so, i wrote all of that level-headed without hard feelings.

-yt

Anonymous said...

@WizOz:

"But the origin of modern atheism resides in the war propaganda against the Church of Christ, actually against the person of Jesus. The atheist pretend that they do not hate, but the simple fact that they feel the urge to sneer at the believers and can't refrain to insult them gives them away. Why this type of people commented at all if "scriptual quotes are not part of my life, i avoid them"?"

Youre a good example of a judgemental religious person. I am a sincere non-religious person, because i was not objected to religion when still young, raised in a family free of religion. I was able to make up my own mind, so to speak.

Basically, you put me in a certain category of (atheist) and you imply that i 'hate'. In your opinion if i'd say, for instance, "detective fiction books are not part of my life, i avoid them"?", would i be sneering at book authors or fans of detective fiction books, would they feel insulted? Would i be filled with hate?

-yt

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@yt: You really believe you have seen the light and we non-religious folks are still out in the dark. You think you are supreme because of your enlightenment.

This is utter nonsense and you are still being completely illogical. I never said a SINGLE WORD about me being supreme or about religious people being supreme or even marginally better. Also, you are confusing enlightenment and awareness. So, let me try to explain.

Religious people (all of them) believe that they are fortunate to have the awareness of God. From this flows that they feel sorry for those who cannot share in this. This does not make the former better or superior, much less so "supreme", only fortunate.

Then, that awareness tells us this: "even though you know were to go from here, you are very VERY far from the goal and you will have to struggle all your life to become enlightened". The notion that "I have been saved" is a silly and recent invention of some protestant sects (Baptists and Evangelicals iirc. Faith is not salvation, but the beginning of a life long struggle.

As for Orthodox Christians, we see the Church as a "hospital for sinners" not a club of holy perfect people at all. The sick people in the hospital are not "better" than the folks outside, they are only *lucky* to have found a place were they can hope to cure their ailments. I am trying to show to you that you are completely misreading religions and what I wrote.

The perceived arrogance is through the roof. You clearly state that non-believers, in your opinion, can't have ethos, morality and basic humanity values

Correct. Or, shall I say, they can have them, but not justify/explain them. Ask yourself the following thing: who decides what is good and what is bad? each for himself or is there an *objective* basis on which to reply to this question. Let me take an example: we would both agree that, say, torturing a child to get 10 dollars is evil. But what if I tell you that I think that this is a great idea, I don't care about the kid, I want my 10 bucks. Can you objectively prove to me that doing that would be bad? Bad according to whom? What if I find it good? Your beef is really with Dostoevsky who wrote "if there is no God all is permissible". Really, this is basic logic 101. Just think about it.

to be continued...

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

...continued

That kind of view is what makes intelligent non-believers just turn away from your kind in disgust

I do not care one bit. I am not selling anything, I am not trying to convince anybody of anything. I am not here to try to comfort you or anybody else or to make you feel understood, accepted or otherwise comforted. What I say makes you feel disgusted? No problemo! But you are killing the messenger, your real beef is with nature and logic and for those who dare to openly express an opinion which you find offensive. Funny, ain't it, here I am, a religious bigot and fanatic, saying that you are intolerant of another person's point of view which happens to ruffle your feathers because I say that I am sorry for you and that you have no absolutes in your life.

I don't look down on you. You are confusing feeling sorry for somebody with looking down at a person. Other non-believers simply are happy to "agree to disagree", they can say "I think that your religion is man-made and its beliefs delusions, but I understand that you would feel otherwise". Most of them can ever understand that one has to be consistent with his/her own beliefs and say "you can feel sorry for me, but I feel pretty darn happy - but, sure, please feel sorry for me if you want, makes no difference to me" and just smile.

But you get offended and immediately perceive some kind of hostility from what I said. That, my friend, is *your* problem. Blaming me - or my beliefs - for it is simply immature. Adult believers and non-believers can have plenty of interesting and intelligent discussions without feeling hostility. Check out the movie "The Sunset Limited" with Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson. Great movie with two great actors.

Cheers,

The Saker

Nora said...

23:52 What вот так said.

I'm also wondering -- since it's obvious people are never going to agree on this and there are VERY strong feelings on both sides of the divide -- can we just agree to disagree? Each side feels the other is lacking in some sort of discernment of The Big Picture, and insulted as hell by being told the same thing about themselves, right? So why don't we just let it be, you know, LET someone strongly opposed to part of what makes you you, say what they want. Yeah, you disagree and feel just as opposed to that part of them, but so what? How does it actually diminish you to hear or read an opposing opinion? Ideally, they stretch you a bit -- isn't that good?

Conformity -- which is really a fear of being different -- is so powerful in the US right now that we self-segregate in just about everything. And that's really a terrific tool for the 1% bc we never have to think: we just march right along in conformity with our group.

One reason this blog is so terrific is that the Saker stretches our understanding, and so do most commenters. I don't know why matters of faith should be an exception to that.

Anonymous said...

@The Saker:

I now fully regret that i even commented in the first place.

Yes, i am completely illogical, silly and confused, not an adult, unaware and without ethos and morality. And unfortunate. Oh and intolerant as well. Of course, i don't even know why i would not torture the child. Why, obviously, not being religious i _can't_ know why.

You on the other hand are holding The Truth in your hand. Congratulations.

By the way, there is a difference to not trying to please someone else and downright disregarding other people.

-yt

David A. Powell said...

Saker, it was pretty striking for me to read the first sentence of the snapshot you give from your early life: "My father abandoned me and my mother when I was 5 years old"... well, because at the age of four, I vividly remember wishing very hard that my father WOULD abandon me and my mother (I'd already witnessed my father give my mother several black eyes - and I never completely lost my fear of my father until his death during my late '40's). Meanwhile, I grew up in an outwardly picture-perfect Christian fundamentalist family in the US South. From the time I left home at 18, my father had done everything in his power to competely destroy me spritually (mentally / emotionally) in order to rebuild me in his own image (and my mother, by this time basically subdued, stood behind him).

So, yes, the idea of "spiritual warfare" makes a certain amount of sense to me. I needed to fight very hard in order that the soul I came into this world possessing remained half-way intact. And yes: the world we live in is indeed sad. My mother told me long ago about how "happy" I was in my early years; but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that "happiness" has become more and more difficult to maintain as my life has progressed. It's still a very sad world out there (but I don't believe at this point that happiness qualifies as a life-goal anyway - sometimes you're happy and sometimes you're not - and that's about it).

In spite of the mountains of fear and eternal damnation crammed down my throat by my Christian fundamentalist upbringing - none of this ever turned me against religion (or, more precisely, "God"). My attitude continues to be more or less that of Thoreau on his deathbed. Thoreau's sister went to her brother and asked him if he didn't want to make his peace with God before dying. Thoreau answered to the effect that "making peace with God" didn't make much sense to him inasmuch as he and God had never quarreled.

I wasn't lucky enough to have an Archbishop in my life (OK - one of my first important art teachers was a Benedictine nun ... but, by that time, I was a bit beyond her quaint Scholasticism). Being innately musical, however, I began to assemble my own cadre of spiritual guides to insulate me from the pseudo-spirituality around me (not to mention the physical / emotional violence and abuse). These were my guides: Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Haydn and Beethoven to begin with - and continuing up to the present including the works of a few hundred composer / guides of all nationalities and periods (if one leaves out the performer / guides). I just went to my public library as a kid and checked out 78 rpm and long playing records without end. It sure helped (and it still does). As a result, I know a lot about musical aesthetics, history, etc. - you name it - but none of this is really important to me. I don't think about these "musical-specialist" matters unless I need to because otherwise they tend to turn into OBJECTS which assume a life of their own and which can kill or obscure the spiritual origins of the music. And this is how I proceed with "religious-specialist" matters as well - and for the same reasons. I believe, along with Jay Andres, (my favorite Chicago classical DJ of the 1960's) that music comes from God. We have our work cut out for us when we focus on what the music is trying to convey to us. "Musical and / or Religious-specialist shop-talk" has always been (for me, at least), at best, an annoying distraction which drowns out the music. (I hope this comment hasn't been too personal - but I know of no other way of talking about these things.)

Anonymous said...

Is torturing the child which is really wrong a learned behavior or it is an instinct a person is born with.

A Sunni will say it is a learned behavior. According to the Sunni, lying is wrong because God told us it wrong, therefore it is immoral. Tomorrow, if God tells us that lying is OK, then it is not immoral to lie.

Where as, to a Shia, it is a born instinct. We are born with knowing lying is wrong. All of us are born good. We learn and then commit the bad behavior.

The Sunni believes in predestination, the Shia believes in freewill.

However, in Islam predestination/freewill is child play but the concept of God is some very heavy shit.

A Shia Muslim.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@David A. Powell:Saker, it was pretty striking for me to read the first sentence of the snapshot you give from your early life: "My father abandoned me and my mother when I was 5 years old"... well, because at the age of four, I vividly remember wishing very hard that my father WOULD abandon me and my mother

No worries, mate, he left me alone with an abusive mother.. In fact, I had PTSD around the age of 5 or 6 already. As for the Archbishop, he entered my life only 2 years later and we only became really close when I became a teenager. I have been in the desert, believe me...

These were my guides: Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Haydn and Beethoven to begin with

Here I can only agree. Especially Bach from whom my love and admiration has no limits!! Other than that, I prefer baroque or romantic music. And Jazz, of course. But yes, these are *real* sources of spirituality, no doubt in my mind. And I do believe that all "high level" music does come from God. Composers simply hear it before the rest of us.

What instrument do you play, if any? I play acoustic jazz guitar (mostly 2 guitar duos), though now I have no time to play at all.

Kind regards,

The Saker

retard said...

"Let me take an example: we would both agree that, say, torturing a child to get 10 dollars is evil. But what if I tell you that I think that this is a great idea, I don't care about the kid, I want my 10 bucks. Can you objectively prove to me that doing that would be bad?

Ohhh! What an interesting argument!
Doesn't that mean that, shouldn't you believe in god, in some circumstances (may be not for just 10 bucks...) you WOULD torture a child because YOU COULD NOT see any "objective proof" that this is bad?
Just like you agreed in another comment thread than some people "need to killed", which kind of bargain do you have with your god to do that?
Ah! These are "evil people"?
Didn't you notice that YOU are an "evil people" to some, like say, the Wahabis?
This is the fatal flaw of all demented religious opinions, being all whimsical and fantasy there is NO WAY to reach a common ground when religious feelings are "insulted".
Idiotic "true believers" of any flavor or color have been and will be cannon fodder for politicians who know better than to actually comply with the "good deeds" which are the excuses and pretenses of religion.
(my nickname is of your chosing if I may remind you)

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@retard:Doesn't that mean that, shouldn't you believe in god, in some circumstances (may be not for just 10 bucks...) you WOULD torture a child because YOU COULD NOT see any "objective proof" that this is bad?

No. I would not torture a child even if I could not see any objective proof that this is bad. But while I would not do such a thing, I would not be able to *explain* that choice. There is a difference between MAKING a choice and JUSTIFYING a choice. Again, basic logic. You need to be more careful with words and what they really mean. So far you have systematically misunderstood most of what I posted.

As for your nick - use whatever you want: "retard" or "genius" or "center lambda" - I don't care and it makes no difference. What matters is not what you or I call you, but the objective reality which does not depend on our subjective perception thereof.

As for the rest of the hyperbolic fallacies in your last comment, they say more about you that any nick would.

Cheers,

The Saker

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, 'retard' is not me with a different nick.

Even though i wanted to abstain now, one comment.

Just because you, The Saker 'believes' religion is needed to *explain* why you would not torture a child, does not make it so in general. Maybe *you* need it (or believe so). That does not mean that this applies to everyone else. It's just a preposterous assuption. Of course, i am being completely illogical again now.

-ty

Anonymous said...

Dear Retard,

In my religious belief one goes through four stages in the order, it is written:

1. Acceptance of religion.
2. Acquiring knowledge and intellectual.
3. Acquiring manners.
4. Reaching the spiritual stage.

Acquiring manners stage is higher than acquiring knowledge and intellectual.

According to Mark or Mathews (don't remember which one due to my advance age),"Jesus said, when you enter a house first say "Peace to that house". Salam or Shalom.

Not a exact quote but close to it. You are now in Saker's house, so please respect his house.

I believe he is trying very, very hard to assure you that if you don't believe in God, it doesn't matter to him and that each to it's own.

I hope that we can move on.

A Shia Muslim.

Anonymous said...

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (ra) is the fourth Sunni Imam. The Wahhabi take their religion from him. He is the best of the four imams and the least understood, especially by the Wahhabi.

According to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (ra), his teacher taught him 18 years of Knowledge and intellectual and only the last 2 years of manners.

He wished his teacher had taught him only 2 years of Knowledge and intellectual and the last 18 years of manners.

A Shia Muslim.

der einzige said...

destroy the temples of your beliefs
because when be destroyed
without any obstacles you will see a wide
wide endless sky
shatter faith in the convoluted mythology
which was created to justify
their helplessness
in this extraordinary world
do not feel comfortable natural expression
limitless like the sky of the mind

btw. read more Nietzsche

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@A Shia Muslim:Please, can you enlighten me more about Orthodox Christianity, and how it differs from the regular mainstream Christianity. I need to learn.

I simply have no time to do so, please forgive me, that is a long and complex question. I will just say that Eastern and Western Christianity have some superficial similarities, but are in really totally different not only in their dogmas and rites, but even more so in their ethos

Also, do the Orthodox Christianity, take the complete TaNaKh (Torah, Neviim and Ketuvim)as OT, or just the Torah as OT?

Orthodox Christianity recognizes only ONE Biblical text, the so-called "Septuagint" or LXX: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint. It's canon is actually bigger than the modern Judaic TaNaKh. The Septuagint is the TaNaKh as it was roughly 2 centuries before Jesus-Christ.

I posted for you earlier the Shia belief about God, the Sermon 185 by Imam Ali.

I know and I did not thank you for it, for which I apologize. The Sermon is indeed very similar to Christian views especially so called "apophatic theology" of the Orthodox tradition.

There is no doubt in my mind that the two branches of Christianity and Islam which are the closet to each other are Orthodoxy and Shia Islam. That does not mean that they are identical or that there are no crucial differences, but their ethos and traditions are very close and in many ways the cultures around them are mutually understandable.

Kind regards, thank you and peace,

The Saker

A Shia Muslim, said...

Dearest Saker,

Thank you for your kindness and being such an excellent host.

May God Bless and Shower His Blessing on you and your loved ones.

Amen Rabbi (My Sustainer God, My Nurturer God).

Best regards,

A Shia Muslim.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@A Shia Muslim: And the same to you, friend.

fi amanillah,

The Saker

Erebus said...

Feeling sorry...

I am a devout atheist.

I take no offense at the implied contempt of what you think I may or may not be able to "prove" about good & evil or right & wrong.
I do however feel a little sorry for you if you think that you could, because it would be trivial to show you that you couldn't (especially from a religious base), and indeed, despite the best efforts of genius, that no-one ever has.
I feel somewhat sorrier still that the real, and I would suggest more truly human, spirituality that occasionally accompanies us atheists in our "desert" escapes you and your Christian fellow travelers.

BTW, atheism is not necessarily an enemy of even the Christian. My own experience is testament to the fact that spiritual experience can visit anyone when they don't seek it (perhaps particularly so). I recommend a reading of The Gospel of Christian Atheism (JJ Altizer), as a path to a spiritual understanding of our universe while remaining within the Christian rubric. For what it's worth, I believe it is impossible otherwise.
If nothing else, it may lead to an "Aha!" moment when you re-read Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor.

Be that all as it may, I absolutely agree that taking religious belief and practice into account is fundamental to understanding the ways of men. A geo-politics that ignores the religious baseis and aspects of the exercise of political power is no geo-politics at all. The caveat is that what may be interesting about the subject, is inadmissable to the analyst. A geo-political analysis is useful insofar as it accommodates and extrapolates the facts and the motivations of the subjects, and useless (or at least uninteresting) insofar as it describes the analyst.

And, yes, by all means read Nietzsche, "the last great metaphysician of the West".

Erebus

J. Collins said...

Having only been here a few weeks I wouldn't consider expressing my opinion on this blog's content at this stage, but I have to say that so far I find the references to scripture apropos and not preachy or proselytizing, and without intruding on the fine information and analysis. Not being a subscriber to any particular faith, I find wisdom and value in a number of religious teachings and holy books. If a person is so turned off by it, they are free to leave with a click of the mouse- unlike the time I was trapped out in the ocean in a thick fog while surfing a spot 200 yards from shore with one takeoff spot at the edge of a reef, certain death to my left, open water to the right, getting an earful of the Jesus-thy-Lord-and-Savior treatment from a guy who paddled up to me and wasted no time after introductions in peppering me with what I consider to be very personal questions, just trapped there for a fifteen-minute long lull after what had been non-stop waves for an hour. Just the two of us, couldn't see ten feet if that, didn't want to be rude so I let him ramble on but today I would never have let him get started. Since my prayers for a wave went unheeded for what felt like eternity, I gave up on praying that very day... but seriously, to the author, it's your blog, write whatever you want, I think it's generous that you took the time to explain yourself. And as an American I can verify your statement about how so many of us are turned off by the various types of self-serving quasi-religious nonsense we're exposed to. I could add to the list but you pretty much nailed it. To readers who complained or whatnot that's your right too, but I would hope you'd see it as I do, basically just references to literature, try to find the parable of the story and move on. My two cents, anyways.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@J Collins:but I would hope you'd see it as I do, basically just references to literature, try to find the parable of the story and move on.

Simple and effective common sense solution. Agree 100%.

Cheers,

The Saker

Mulga Mumblebrain said...

David A. Powell, that is a wonderful story about Thoreau. God knows if God exists-I don't, so, like Harold Steptoe before me (and Bertrand Russell before him) I am an agnostic. Decent religious believers are, in my experience, good people. Fundamentalists are, I would assert, not. The worst, in my estimation, are the Judaic Supremacists, the Wahhabist butchers, and the 'Religious Right' in the USA, with dishonourable mentions for Hindutva lunatics in India and pseudo-Shinto revanchists like Abe. As for music, you chose precisely the ones that I would put atop my own list, but music as a whole is humanity's finest achievement, in my opinion. I might just You Tube the Oistrakh Trio in the Schubert Piano Trio D929 now, to put my mind at ease.

Mulga Mumblebrain said...

David A. Powell, that is a wonderful story about Thoreau. God knows if God exists-I don't, so, like Harold Steptoe before me (and Bertrand Russell before him) I am an agnostic. Decent religious believers are, in my experience, good people. Fundamentalists are, I would assert, not. The worst, in my estimation, are the Judaic Supremacists, the Wahhabist butchers, and the 'Religious Right' in the USA, with dishonourable mentions for Hindutva lunatics in India and pseudo-Shinto revanchists like Abe. As for music, you chose precisely the ones that I would put atop my own list, but music as a whole is humanity's finest achievement, in my opinion. I might just You Tube the Oistrakh Trio in the Schubert Piano Trio D929 now, to put my mind at ease.

Anonymous said...

http://rt.com/news/odessa-ukraine-orthodox-priest-476/

The rights of believers are violated in Ukraine as the coup-imposed authorities don’t want the Russian Orthodox Church in the country, archpriest Andrey Nikonov, who left Ukraine to escape persecution by Kiev, told RT.

Novikov, who occupies the position of secretary of the eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Odessa, was forced to flee to Moscow after he was approached by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) in connection with the case of pro-Russian activist, Anton Davidchenko.

David K

Anonymous said...

@atheism and ethics

@-yt:I am a sincere non-religious person, because i was not objected to religion when still young, raised in a family free of religion. I was able to make up my own mind, so to speak.

Well, it is exactly what I said:
'There certainly are "sincere" atheists because they were born into a family of believers in Atheism'. You could not have make up your mind, as all atheists believe (they believe that they are the only inteligent people on the planet, kind of Uebermensch), because you hade no real choice. Since you had not been subjected (not objected) to religion you knew only one side.

@atheism and ethics,

Someone brought Dostoievsky into the discussion (somehow implying that his re-reading can enlighten you to the truths of atheism). Well, yes. It is the question of Mitya Karamazov to Rakitin: "If there's no God and no life beyond the grave, doesn't that mean that men will be allowed to do whatever they want? And Rakitin who "doesn't like God, doesn't like Him at all" answers: "Didn't you know that already? he said and laughed again. An intelligent man can do anything he likes as long as he's clever enough to get away with it". This question pervades the whole of Dostoyevski's work.

I had recently heard the opinions held by an "iconic" character of Australian bussiness world, much admired for his tycoonish toughness: "There is no one up there to judge you, so do whatever you f***en like".

@And, yes, by all means read Nietzsche, "the last great metaphysician of the West".

To know why he ended up in the bedlam, raving mad!

WizOz

William ben Jacob said...

I am pleased with your dissertation and verifying your position on belief! I also agree totally about the false shepherds spouting all sorts of wrong information and selling books and CD's. I am aware of what the term "ethnos" means and who it designates.Keep up the good work and maintain your faith!

Anonymous said...

And what excuse is there for an all powerful, all knowing God to allow a child to be tortured?

Personally I find a God who allows children to be tortured, worthless; but who am I to judge?

If God is perfectly good while also having free will, why did He not simply make human beings, in His image: perfectly good, but free? Surely that was not impossible for a truly sovereign God?

RudyM, recovering Methodist clergyman's son. (Sorry, login information not handy)

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, not all of us are turned off from religion thanks to crazy TV evangelists or hypocrisy in the local church. My father was actually one of the most, or perhaps even the most genuinely Christ-like persons I have ever known.

Christianity "just" did not and does not make sense to me (if I can say that in regard to something in which there are no doubt so many passions at play behind the reasoning), for reasons I'm not going to get into here, since I'm not actually volunteering for a dialogue about it.

*

But it's your blog. As I said (as an anonymous commenter defending your quoting the story of Sodom and Gomorrah), your religious convictions allow you to present an authentic insider view of Russian culture. Refusing to learn about religious concepts even when they are relevant to social and political issues one is interested in is just silliness, in my opinion. From time to time I'm sure I will continue to find some of your religious comments without value and without immediate bearing on what interests me, but this is clearly one individual's blog, take it or leave it. I do find much of the analysis here useful.

RudyM

Anonymous said...

NB: I have not found a convincing and satisfying account of moral knowledge and moral facts, of what either of them could possibly be. I'm doubt that moral claims truly are objective, in a sense of the word that has any force (that isn't a philosopher's specially revamped version of "objective"--like Joseph Margolis's intriguing effort).

So that's my problem (as an irreligious individual), although I no longer see it is as much of a problem (outside of philosophy). I don't mean to be glib, I've just personally moved on from trying to solve this conundrum. I find moral engagement with the world pretty unavoidable and the moral passions are as real and strong as any others, whether or not there is really epistemological legitimation for claims about morality.

But I don't think appealing to God really solves the problem though (never mind doubts about Christianity or other specific religion). Do the gods love the good because it is good or is the good good because the gods love it? I think bringing God into the picture moves the problem, but doesn't really solve it.

To go back to Christianity (and Judaism) specifically, Abraham is praised for his willingness to sacrifice his own son on God's command. Placing morality on such an authoritarian foundation doesn't strike me as a good solution.

RudyM

Anonymous said...


@RudyM, recovering Methodist clergyman's son

"I'm not actually volunteering for a dialogue about it". So why take the pain to clutter the writing space with teenagers thoughts?

WizOz

Anonymous said...

Dear Saker, I just wish to thank you for your fine observation about the difference between Christian Orthodoxy, and the other western versions of "Christian Faith".
Cristian Orthodox faith, dogma and practices are the original apostolic, mostly unchanged for at least 1600 years. One young Orthodox monk who came back from Mount Athos, to my question about the difference between Catholic and Orthodox faith, told me: Catholics(and other denominations like Protestants, Lutherans that sprung from them) see themselves as a tool of God's will, that is used to change and build the world, but we Orthodox, we see ourselves as a vessel(s) that God will fill with Holy Spirit...

Pravoslavni Srbin

Anonymous said...

@WizOz
"There certainly are "sincere" atheists because they were born into a family of believers in Atheism'. You could not have make up your mind, as all atheists believe (they believe that they are the only inteligent people on the planet, kind of Uebermensch), because you hade no real choice."

LOL, no, atheism isn't a "belief", no more than OFF is TV channel.

Anonymous said...

@WizOz:

"@-yt:I am a sincere non-religious person, because i was not objected to religion when still young, raised in a family free of religion. I was able to make up my own mind, so to speak.

Well, it is exactly what I said:
'There certainly are "sincere" atheists because they were born into a family of believers in Atheism'. You could not have make up your mind, as all atheists believe (they believe that they are the only inteligent people on the planet, kind of Uebermensch), because you hade no real choice. Since you had not been subjected (not objected) to religion you knew only one side."

Why do you keep putting me in a category of "atheist", even my family into a "family of believers in Atheism"? First, i don't need a category for what i am, i'm simply a human. Religious people may invent categories for themself - for they seemingly need them to identify and distinguish themself. The most i am ok to let myself defined (just for reasons of making known that i'm not religious) is to say i'm a non-believer or non religious person.

Second, you call me a "believer", in whatever you define as "atheism". I do _not_ believe. Religious people have their set of beliefs. Not believing them does not make me a "believer" myself. Example of that mindset in another topic. There are people who "believe" in the existence of black holes (which is just a changing theory up to now). Then there are these who "believe": There are no black holes. Both can't prove anything, both only "believe". I on the other hand say: I don't know if they exist or not. I am free to not buy into any of your beliefs. I am totally ok to admit that i don't know shit. That is one reason for me (others might not need that reason) to keep being open minded and strife to come closer to the truth. Those who already "believe" in one thing, as in having an explanation, are they not prone to call it a day and don't try to find out the real truth? Don't they already "have" the answer?

You judge that i "could not have make up your mind" because i had no real choice. When i said i was not "objected to religion" i did not mean i was being deprived of information about it. I could learn anything about it i wanted. Granted, i wanted not that much. I was not "objected" to it in that it was not force-fed into my throat, for example, as in referring to religion in the context of everything i learned while growing up.

You about atheists: ".. they believe that they are the only inteligent people on the planet, kind of Uebermensch".

I don't know about that, i don't belong to that group of people and i don't know if "they" believe so. Just don't put me into a category willy nilly.



@WizOz: Comment to your response to RudyM:

"@RudyM, recovering Methodist clergyman's son

"I'm not actually volunteering for a dialogue about it". So why take the pain to clutter the writing space with teenagers thoughts?

WizOz"

Why should he not comment? Sometimes people just want to voice their opinion.

Also: You are acting ad hominem. Where is your response on the factual level?

-yt

der einzige said...

@WizOz
"To know why he ended up in the bedlam, raving mad!"

help yourself

read
http://www.radios.cz/m/library/friedrich-nietzsche-beyond-good-and-evil.html
or listen
http://www.radios.cz/m/audiobook.php?l=friedrich-nietzsche-beyond-good-and-evil