Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Enlightenment and Cosmopolitanism v Religion

From a Jonathan Korman Facebook thread on The Death of the New Age 
The problem with all religions, traditional, New Age, Pagan and for that matter sport warrior worship,  is that they focus inward. If not on self on the small group of "us."  Only "we" can save the world by converting everyone to "our" solution.  While some religions are moving toward the celebration of life, all life, it seems that no God, goddess, or guru can figure out how to satisfy the ego needs for belonging with a concern for those not like "us."  The Enlightenment and its modern descendent Cosmopolitanism does not give the ego the intermediate step of "us" but forces concern for all.

It begins with Jefferson. All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with  certain unalianable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.  Implicit in this statement is that these rights are accepted and enforced by all reasonable and civic minded people collectively and individually ready and willing to mutually pledge to their Lives, their Fortunes and their Sacred Honor.  They do not pledge to a leader or to a nation but to each other and to a cause.   

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Empowerment of Women and the Rape Culture

 They're clearly trying to reach Regular Guys and the universe of gender politics
In response to this excellent post and other news including the public gang rape in New Delhi and numerous articles on women all over the world including India now being able to choose how many children they wish to have including none.  Add to that the empowerment of women in being able to choose the man that will be the father of those children.  And the woman's choices not only in sex, but in living, working, and self fulfillment.  It may be time to consider the implications of the title.

All of these have contributed to the fact that a large portion of the male population has been denied any opportunity for consensual sex, as they do not have the necessary respect to gain consent.  They are locked in the old culture where the man is the aggressor, and the woman is compliant.  There are women who remain in this culture as well, cultures change slowly, but contraception has given women a different kind of empowerment in that they can engage in casual sex without fear of the major consequence of pregnancy.   They can send those mixed signals and enjoy the resulting sex, preferably without rape, but in any event without consequences.  But where does that leave the men who for one reason or another always get the unmixed signal of  NO?  Sorry to say it is their fault, or at least the fault of the sexist culture they live in, but most women do not like the idea of being property even for the reason of having sex.  For those men the two choices are rape and internet porn.  Obviously the latter is preferable and commonly the only option, but opportunistic rape will still occur. 

Women secure in their empowerment generally have no interest in and avoid the rape culture.   They  send no mixed signals, they do not even go to places where signals can be mixed.  For them sex is a result of a relationship not a goal, and any man that doesn't understand that won't get any signals at all. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On Blood Donations

Banshee Arts

Blood and kinship. In some contexts, the two are synonymous. We say that we share blood with someone if we are familially related to them, if we are ‘blood kin’. Sharing blood is also understood as a way to establish kinship where it does not exist from birth: the old blood brotherhood or sisterhood. Why does this work (or to look at it another way), why is it believed to work? Because our blood is the essence of our life – it is the vehicle and condensed liquid form of life force. To share that is to be kin.
To share that is to be kin.  

A couple of hundred donations many shared with several patients in need.  Call it a thousand unknown kinfolk of mine out there.   Makes it hard to think badly of anyone.  Eh, brother or sister?

Peer Pressure Morality


 This is an astute observation because research on the motivation of soldiers during combat—well summarized by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in his deeply insightful book On Killing (Little, Brown, 2009)—reveals that a soldier's primary motivation is not politics and ideology but devotion to his band of brothers. “Among men who are bonded together so intensely,” Grossman explains, “there is a powerful process of peer pressure in which the individual cares so deeply about his comrades and what they think about him that he would rather die than let them down.”

As a social primate species, we modulate our morals with signals from family, friends and social groups with whom we identify because in our evolutionary past those attributes helped individuals to survive and reproduce. We do not just blindly concede control to authorities; instead we follow the cues provided by our moral communities on how best to behave

One only has to look at Westboro Baptist, Think Tanks,  a JW Kingdom Hall, the NRA Leadership, et al. to see this modulation in action.  No amount of pressure from those outside the group will have any effect on the peer group.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

An ex-UU none on the blue road.


As an ex-UU none who studied religion and spirituality at the university and beyond at All Souls in NYC and later beyond UU I have a couple of suggestions.
1. Take our spirituality seriously. You lost a promising UU spiritual leader (it wasn't me) by banning an atheist from a God discussion group at a UU Church. Keep in mind that spirituality is a human attribute that has nothing at all to do with God or religion.
2, You may keep and use the God meme, as long as it is clear that it is a spiritual learning meme rather than something to pray at or worship. You can even still pray if it is clear that prayer is a way to focus thinking usefully.
As an aside, not a suggestion, we all have our own social and political action vehicles that we choose for ourselves. Social pressure to conform to particular social values is Katy, bar the door! for most of us even if we agree with them. 

I love the scene of Ben and Elaine barring the door with a cross in The Graduate.  I have  been tempted frequently as I left a UU church for good, prevented only by not being able to find a cross. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wish List

Instead of Books I won't read, toasters that burn religious symbols in toast, DVDs I won't watch, and other nicknacks that I won't look at after I put them on the shelf,  all of the following contribute to my personal wellbeing and would appreciate a donation to keep doing so:

San Francisco Choral Society

A premier symphonic chorus, inspiring and enriching people's lives through the joy and power of choral music.  We frequently perform commissioned or co-commissioned works.  Recent performances include Terra Nostra an Oratorio by Stacy Garrop, Battle Hymns a performance piece by David Lang, and Seven Songs for Planet Earth by Olli Kortekangas.


New York Choral Society 

The New York Choral Society is a vibrant, ever-renewing musical community which believes in the power of music to impact all lives, enriches the cultural life of New York and beyond through the world-class quality and artistic creativity of our performances, and is committed to delivering excellence to our singers, our audiences, and our supporters.



 Push the boundaries of your experience with the professional singers of Volti and conductor Robert Geary. Bold, daring, stimulating music from the shimmering edges of creative thought. Lushly gorgeous performances that traverse the range of human emotion. Join Volti for an exciting journey of discovery, a joyous exploration of what’s still out there…

If it was composed in the 20th century it is nostalgia for Volti. 3 or 4 world premier performances per program is the norm.  Support your local musical choral composers.


The Yosemite Conservancy

This webcam shares a stunning view of Yosemite's high country, including Tenaya Peak and Clouds Rest. 

Yosemite webcams are maintained through the generous support of Yosemite Conservancy donors.