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Never asked question: Forsaken Inn Common Room edition

Arthur_Vandelay

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Greetings, TTFers. I have often wondered why the brilliant "Never asked Question" thread of the Tolkienology section of the forum had never been adapted for use in the non-Tolkien rooms. (And this is the point where one of you taps me on the shoulder and says: "Umm, it has.") So I decided to open one myself.

The purpose of this thread is for TTFers to pick each others' brains on matters religious, philosophical, literary, political and topical--and indeed anything else that falls within the ambit of discussion in the Forsaken Inn.

As with the original "Never asked question" thread, we should respond to queries honestly and in good faith, providing references or sources of further information where possible.

Furthermore, we should not be afraid to correct errors where we see them, without doing so combatively.

So, who will start the ball rolling?
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Arthur_Vandelay said:
I guess I will.

What can people tell me about masonry?
Aside from my paternal grandfather having been a Mason, I have only this to offer:
http://www.freemason.org/cfo/index.htm — modest, but it's a start!

The purpose of this thread is for TTFers to pick each others' brains on matters religious, philosophical, literary, political and topical--and indeed anything else that falls within the ambit of discussion in the Forsaken Inn.
Methinks thou hast thrown open the sluiceways to their widest capacity, my precious, my love! Navigating these whitewater rapids will take every one of us manning the raft of courteous friendly civil discourse with skill and aplomb.

Barley :)
 
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Barliman Butterbur

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Beorn said:
In your opinion...

What is faith?
My definition of faith — I assume you mean religous faith — is the belief in the existence of various renditions of "God" or gods and an afterlife that cannot be proven to exist. Such faith — in its fundamentalist versions at any rate — has been the basis for some of the worst violence, intolerance and bigotry in human history.

Barley

PS: BTW Mike — can the Deep Thought text be wrapped to extra lines after about 30-40 characters? Sure would help eliminate extra-wide posts...

B
 

Inderjit S

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Faith can be to believe in god, but it can also to believe in the values which god is supposed to espouse- to love others and to live honestly, to treat other people as equals, to respect those who deserve it, to feel sorry for those who you see as evil people (rather than hate them, which is a hard thing to do) and not to violate the rights of others. I have no doubt people will err a lot whilst trying to accomplish the above, but erring is the path to faith. Faith is not exclusively a religious thing, but exclusively a human thing.

In other words, faith is whatever you make of it.
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Inderjit S said:
...Faith is not exclusively a religious thing, but exclusively a human thing.

In other words, faith is whatever you make of it.
Indeed, there is more than one type of faith. For instance, I have faith in the things that have proven themselves to be reliable over time.

There is also the faith that something can be done in the real world that has never been done before, which is at the basis of science. William James goes so far as to say that without that kind of faith there would be no advancement whatever. So I guess that kind of faith is a kind of confidence that reality can be manipulated to achieve new things. And of course, such has been proven over and over again, and is one of the most ubiquitious things in human experience.

Faith in miracles, prophecy and prayer — ah, there's a discussion I will leave for others to start!

Barley
 

Hammersmith

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Arthur_Vandelay said:
What can people tell me about masonry?
I found "this book" to be both exceedingly well researched and brilliantly thorough in its investigation of Freemasonry. While it is widely condemned in Masonic circles, the writer does actually end up lauding certain virtues of the sect. It's both well written and fantastically well argued and thought out.
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Inderjit S said:
Do you know what Barliman, whenever I need such guidance I look to my Gurus.
The writings of Guru Nanak are indeed a treasure trove of wisdom. There was a time when I had much to do with Sikhs, starting with a Sikh physician I had for a few years. I had at one time considered becoming a Sikh, but alas, I wasn't up to the required discipline!

As a matter of fact I think I still have a copy of the Adi Granth around here somewhere — and if I don't, I may just amble over to the Bodhi Tree Bookstore and get another copy!

We used to go to a wonderful Sikh restaurant in L.A. called The Golden Temple, but it closed for some reason. And it was there that I used to buy cassettes of the most gorgeous and transporting Sikh chants — incredible music! :)

Barley
 

Inderjit S

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Great post Barley. :)

You are the second person here who was thinking about converting to Sikhism, the other was Ciryaher. As for the "required discipline" you probably have more of that than lots of Sikhs I know, who view their contravention of our religious tenets as a continuation of some non-existent policy favoured by some non-existent guru in their, seemingly non-existent minds. I am not talking about keeping your hair, wearing a turban or abstaining from alcohol or meat but compassion for your fellow man and treating women as equals-parts of Sikhism seem to have become obsessed with caste (ironically, one of the reasons for the conception of Sikhism was that it believed the caste system was unfair and had no place in Sikhism, casteism has now become prevalent in Sikhism i.e. some castes are better than others), there is also a lot of intereligious tensions, namely between Sikhs and Muslims, born out of historical accidence and continued by modern day ignorance. (Sikhs and Akbarian Muslims are naturally historically antagonistic-it was the Sikhs after all who worked towards the overthrow of Mughal India, who were forcing others to convert or die) Sikhs seem to think that the actions of Muslims some five hundred years ago somehow mirror the attitude of all Muslims, past and present, they seem to think that the rise in fundamentalism supports this glib hypothesis, but as I pointed out to them many times, they are working with logical and religious fallacies-our Guru's were saved and befriended by Muslims on a few occasions and preached for us to see people all religions as being humans and to be treated with as much respect as Sikhs. It is also a logical fallacy as if all Muslims were fundamentalists the world would have ended a long time ago! They choose to pigeonhole all Muslims under the banner of a few. Though perhaps I am guilty of the same mistake, not all Sikhs are of course like this, but a lot are, and it infuriates me that they so contravene the tenets of their religion whilst not only considering themselves Sikhs but claiming they do so because of their religion. They are a bunch of sophists, but lacking the sophistry of sophists. :)

Er...anyway, long, angry rant over. Thankfully. :D

We seem to have diverged, so back onto the original point of the thread-I have a question-What were the reasons for the Orthodox and Protestant schisms from the church?
 

chrysophalax

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Can't speak for the Orthodox viewpoint, but if I remember my church history, Martin Luther was among those who spear-headed the Protestant movement. He flet that the Church had drifted too far from it's main intent, which was to spread the Word. Catholicism had become so embroiled politically that it had lost touch with the masses it was supposed to defend.

Among Luther's main points were the fact that salvation is a gift of God, nothing that had to be earned, which really annoyed the priests who made a living selling indulgences...and that confession no longer should be conducted through a priest, but rather, directly to God through prayer.

http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/web/ninetyfive.html

Here are his 95 theses he nailed to the church door in Wittenburg.
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Inderjit S said:
Great post Barley. :) ...They choose to pigeonhole all Muslims under the banner of a few. Though perhaps I am guilty of the same mistake, not all Sikhs are of course like this, but a lot are, and it infuriates me that they so contravene the tenets of their religion whilst not only considering themselves Sikhs but claiming they do so because of their religion. They are a bunch of sophists, but lacking the sophistry of sophists. :)
Rant forgiven! Everyone gets frustrated with the ever-present minority of hypocrites and spiritual scoundrels in his own group, don't feel bad!

BTW, the Sikh site you supplied is very interesting; I have it bookmarked. And as I read it, I still say: I lack the necessary discipline (not willing to go into the particulars)! ;)

Barley
 

spirit

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Faith. Hmm, interesting question. ;)

Every individual in the world has a unique view of faith. There are similarities in what people believe, and well, what ever they believe I respect that, I expect them to do the same of why belief of “[/b] FAITH [/b]”

(I’m a part Hindu (through blood) and part Wiccan. Confused? :eek: )

Faith. I suppose you can split it up into two categories. The faith in God (which I regard as most important), and the daily faith you have on other people – e.g.: “I have faith she’s not going to let me down today”...

The faith in God, is infinite. :) There is no doubting him, EVER; and by doubting I don’t only refer to his existence, but also all that he does. God sends everything that comes your way in life, and I believe you’ve just got to accept everything. It’s called having faith in God, and believing that whatever he does, he does for the best. (Even sometimes, I don’t really understand why things really happen, but at the end, there’s usually a lesson to be learnt.)
:eek:
 

spirit

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Inderjit S said:
...to feel sorry for those who you see as evil people (rather than hate them, which is a hard thing to do)
I dunno... I myself think that love is just an illusion in the world. By that, I mean love for each other (humans, animals, e.t.c.). Love for God is true love, which will never end. And same with good and evil. It's just an illusion. I belive that we all see thing as good and evil becuase we're attached to the physical plane. In the spiritual plane, there is no good or evil. Just nuetral.
 

Inderjit S

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I dunno... I myself think that love is just an illusion in the world. By that, I mean love for each other (humans, animals, e.t.c.). Love for God is true love, which will never end. And same with good and evil. It's just an illusion. I belive that we all see thing as good and evil becuase we're attached to the physical plane. In the spiritual plane, there is no good or evil. Just nuetral.
They are your views I suppose, but it is nice to debate them. I don't see how love for _others_ is an illusion whereas love for _god_ is true when we have no idea whether god exists-I cannot prove it, we may believe he exists, but it cannot be backed up by tangible facts because it doesn't need to be backed up by tangible facts. It can be backed up by my faith, since facts are not pertinent to gods existence but faith is as faith transgresses facts.

Perhaps the last paragraph was a bit of a non sequitir, I will move in with my point, you cannot say that god exists and you know it is a infallible fact, (well you can if you wish) but I am debating against such logic-for you have no proof of his existence but faith and faith alone is not tangible proof of his existence, tangibility is important for proof because humans need a fait accompli to base their views on and that fait accompli is missing.

Claiming love is only true when you love a being who you believe to exist and is an illusion when you love a being who you knows exist is a paradox, you are applying the wrong criterion to humans and god. Love for humans is not illusionary, it exists, it is everlasting not ephemeral and it is the greatest gift you can give another person-to love them-it is not an illusion but an actuality.

To claim that good, evil and love are not actualities because we exist on the physical plain is also a fallacy. They exist-just look around you. For example, Hitler was evil. His deeds and thought were evil.

I could argue more about this, but I don't really know your viewpoint well enough to do so, plus I need to revise for my exams. Feel free to post back so I can get a better picture of your views so that we can have a decent debate. :)
 

Arthur_Vandelay

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Inderjit S said:
To claim that good, evil and love are not actualities because we exist on the physical plain is also a fallacy. They exist-just look around you. For example, Hitler was evil. His deeds and thought were evil.
That leads onto another question: What is evil (assuming that we must know what evil is is order to say that evil exists)?

What were the reasons for the Orthodox and Protestant schisms from the church?
(Chrysophalax has already addressed Protestantism . . . )

A good place to begin would be to visit A brief overview of the early history of the Orthodox Church at religioustolerance.org. History is not my strong point, and much of what I have to say here is contained in that article. But to put it crudely, the Pope in Rome was for much of the first millennium a bishop of roughly equal stature to other bishops. Over the course of those first few centuries, "[font=trebuchet ms,arial,helvetica]authority within the church began to coalesce around the Bishop of Rome in the west and the Patriarch of Constantinople in the east," [/font]as a corollary, I suppose, of Rome's separation into Western and Eastern empires. The formal schism occurred in 1054, when the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches excommunicated each other--the culmination of a long process of alienation and separation influenced by:

[font=trebuchet ms,arial,helvetica][/font]
[font=trebuchet ms,arial,helvetica]1. The Slav invasions in the Balkans.
[/font][font=trebuchet ms,arial,helvetica]2. The religious language in the west was Latin, while the eastern church used Greek. Bilingual theologians became increasingly rare.[/font]
[font=trebuchet ms,arial,helvetica]3. The Eastern churches encouraged national languages for the litergy, whereas Roman Catholicism insisted on Latin.
[/font][font=trebuchet ms,arial,helvetica]4. "While the intellectual thought of Eastern Christianity was driven by Greek teachers, Western Christianity came to be dominated by the teachings of Augustine of Hippo." (354 - 386 CE)[/font]
[font=trebuchet ms,arial,helvetica][/font]
 

Inderjit S

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That leads onto another question: What is evil (assuming that we must know what evil is order to say that evil exists)?
Evil is as inherent in humans as is good, it is the diametric opposite of good because good cannot exist without evil as we would have no way of knowing what a good deed was without knowing what a bad deed was, or whether a deed was more good than another deed.

We can use literature to expand upon this. For example, when Jersad sets fire to the sages house Zadig is horrified, when he later kills the widows nephew Zadig is again horrified. When Jersad later reveals himself to be an angel and tells Zadig that the sage would find a pot of gold under his house which he set fire too, and that the widow’s nephew would one day kill his aunt Zadig ponders the nature of evil. Jersad proved that the ends justified the means, as Milton Friedman points out; the ends always justify the means as any justification would be nullified if the means did not produce the desired end. So it was ok for Jersad to set fire to the sage’s house and to kill the widow’s nephew as in both cases the "victim" benefited from the crime committed against him.

Another argument is one employed by Kierkegaard in "Fear and Trembling".
Kierkegaard argues that Abrahams sacrifice of Isaac at the request for god was a good deed-he argues that "if you simply remove faith as a nix and nought there only remains the raw fact that Abraham was willing to murder Isaac"-without faithAbraham's deed would have been seen as evil, yet if you look at it with, faith in infallible god, then it was a good deed as he was told by the infallible to commit a deed-any contravention of the infallible would be a contravention of good as the infallible personified and designed good, ergo Abraham's deed may have been seen as evil, but that is a glib interpretation of Abraham's deed, or a faithless view of it. Kierkegaard may have been pointing out (notice _may_have-I am not Kierkegaard) that a deed which we may interpret as being evil, may, under closer scrutiny be good. So evil is not as straightforward as it may seem. (I am here, by and large ignoring the other factor in Kierkegaard's analogy-faith.)

Another book which looks at evil is Dostoevsky's "Note from the Underground"-one of the first existential novels. In it the Underground Man explains why he is so nefarious, and why humans are so nefarious and do evil-because they can. Humans are evil because of free will, they are evil because they have a choice, whether to be evil or not. Naturally humans are not perfect, therefore they will do some good but at the same time, due to their imperfection they will do evil. What then comes first-the imperfection or the free will? Well one can reasonably have free will and not do evil, one can do as one likes and yet do good theoretically speaking, but imperfection automatically means a perversion of perfection (i.e. good) and therefore it diverges from good and produces effects which aren't good. Imperfection and free will may be the cause of evil because they are inherently human traits, evil is inherently a human emotion and so long as we are human evil will exist in some form-we cannot get rid of it, nor do I see getting rid of it as being desirable as it is through erring that we learn.

In a previous post I offered Hitler as a paradigm of "evil". There may have been eviller men or have killed more people or had more distorted views, that it not my point. He was not wholly evil either, no man is. Yet his actions were evil, his sanctioning of genocide was evil, and him believing he was not doing evil but doing good was the evillest thing of all. A man may commit a evil deed and yet repent of it, yet Hitler would never repent as he saw his deeds as being good, when they were evil. Many murderers follow similar logic. Many wise men do too. Plato supported eugenics because he thought that through eugenics man could be bettered, ignoring the fact that eugenics Man would be bettered as the infirm would be weeded out. He also advocates censoring Homer (who he admires) as he thought certain scenes and characters had a negative affect on the audience. Plato's utopia was no utopia. We can come back to the idea of ends justifying means here. If we weed out the infirm then does the end justify the means? (i.e. a better race of humans.) No, because the means are unjustifiable so it is useless to discuss whether the ends are justifiable. Plato was a casuist.

What about repentance? Everyone repents of their bad deeds-this does not erase them of course, but if means we know what we did was evil, therefore we are forgiven as we can discern whether our action was evil or good and so are wiser and less likely to sin. When Theodosius committed David’s crime Ambrose told him to submit to David's repentance. Theodosius did so, and realised his actions were bad rather than fallaciously supporting them.

Well I must stop as I think I may have sent everybody to sleep!
 

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