Biblical Rhetoric of Separatism and Universalism and Its Intolerant Consequences

Professor James W. Watts writes in 2020: “Studies of the distant past, however, have one big advantage over studies of contemporary cultures: history allows us to trace the effects of religious rhetoric and practices over centuries and millennia to reveal not only their influence, but also their unintended consequences.”

How do you trace the effects of religious rhetoric and practices in ancient times? For that matter, how do you do it in modern times? How do you distinguish this influence from other things? There’s never “religion” without reference to its source in a particular “culture” that in turn comes from a particular people in a particular environment dealing with particular challenges.

There was no “religion” in the ancient world. Jewish history, for example, has never had “religion” nor has Islam.

“The specific reactions I will describe here, separatism (or particularism) and universalism, have both generated intolerant violence, often within the same religious tradition.”

How do you know that separatism and universalism generated intolerant violence? Maybe that sprung from other factors?

“I believe that this history, that juxtaposes some of the deleterious effects of both separatism and universalism,
needs to be repeated to show how moral judgments on others’ religious practices can generate even worse abuses.”

There’s nothing that can’t have deleterious effects, including going for a walk and enjoying a thorough defecation.

“I offer this review as a cautionary tale of how opposite religious ideals embraced at the origins of two traditions can go unexpectedly and badly wrong.”

Wrong for whom? Wrong according to whom? James W. Watts?

“The first five books of the Bible, called the Torah or Pentateuch, and later the whole Hebrew Bible, also called the Tanak or Old Testament, were among the tools used by Judah’s priestly class to weld together ethnic identity and national aspirations into a religious identity as Jews.”

Jews don’t know of religion. This is so goyish.

“The influence of the Bible’s rhetoric of separation from the Canaanites and other peoples has been especially evident in the cultures of the American continents over the last five centuries…”

If there was no Bible, would there be any significant difference in European conquest of the Americas? How has this conquest been different from other conquests? It has not been to the defeated. The rhetoric that people use to justify their behavior is of rhetorical interest, but does not demonstrate real world influence.

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Why Do White Evangelicals Support Trump?

From the New York Times:

Evangelicals did not support Mr. Trump in spite of who he is. They supported him because of who he is, and because of who they are. He is their protector, the bully who is on their side, the one who offered safety amid their fears that their country as they know it, and their place in it, is changing, and changing quickly. White straight married couples with children who go to church regularly are no longer the American mainstream. An entire way of life, one in which their values were dominant, could be headed for extinction. And Mr. Trump offered to restore them to power, as though they have not been in power all along.

“You are always only one generation away from losing Christianity,” said Micah Schouten, who was born and raised in Sioux Center, recalling something a former pastor used to say. “If you don’t teach it to your children it ends. It stops right there.”

…The years of the Obama presidency were confusing to her. She said she heard talk of giving freedoms to gay people and members of minority groups. But to her it felt like her freedoms were being taken away. And that she was turning into the minority.

“I do not love Trump. I think Trump is good for America as a country. I think Trump is going to restore our freedoms, where we spent eight years, if not more, with our freedoms slowly being taken away under the guise of giving freedoms to all,” she said. “Caucasian-Americans are becoming a minority. Rapidly.”

She explained what she meant. “If you are a hard-working Caucasian-American, your rights are being limited because you are seen as against all the races or against women,” she said. “Or there are people who think that because we have conservative values and we value the family and I value submitting to my husband, I must be against women’s rights.”

Her voice grew strong. “I would say it takes a stronger woman to submit to a man than to want to rule over him. And I would argue that point to the death,” she said.

She felt freer as she spoke. “Mike Pence is a wonderful gentleman,” she said. “This is probably a very bad analogy, but I’d say he is like the very supportive, submissive wife to Trump. He does the hard work, and the husband gets the glory.”

* “We are making this huge issue of white versus Black, Black Lives Matter. All lives matter,” she said. “There are more deaths from abortion than there are from corona, but we are not fighting that battle.”

“We are picking and choosing who matters and who doesn’t,” she said. “They say they are being picked on, when we are all being picked on in one shape or form.”

* There is a straight line from that day at Dordt four years ago to a recent scene at a chapel in Washington, where armed officers tear-gassed peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square and shot them with rubber pellets. They were clearing the way for Mr. Trump to march from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church and hold up a Bible, a declaration of Christian power.

“We have the greatest country in the world,” he said. “We’re going to keep it nice and safe.”

It was another instantly infamous moment, covered by cable news and decried by Democrats as an unseemly photo op. But in Sioux Center, many evangelicals once again received a different message, one that echoed the words uttered by a long-shot presidential candidate in a sanctuary on a cold winter morning.

“To me it was like, that’s great. Trump is recognizing the Bible, we are one nation under God,” Mr. Schouten said. “He is willing to stand out there and take a picture of it for the country to see.”

He added: “Trump was standing up for Christianity.”

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Is Nothing Sacred? Religion and Sex

From Psychology Today:

For adults, their sexual strategies appear to determine their level of commitment to religion. People who are inclined toward monogamy choose to be religious, because traditional religions provide support for a family lifestyle, and discourage promiscuity. Promiscuity poses problems for family life from both the husband’s and the wife’s perspective. If there is a lot of promiscuity in the local society, then husbands (and their resources) may be easily tempted away from the responsibilities of fathering and family.

Men are, after all, notoriously easy, as attested to by data suggesting they have very low thresholds for a one-night stand, for example (Clark & Hatfield; Li & Kenrick, Kenrick et al., 1990; 1993). But if so, why would men, married or otherwise, want promiscuity discouraged? Weeden links that to paternal uncertainty: a married man is investing heavily in his offspring, and in a totally promiscuous society, the odds would be higher that his female partner’s children might not be his.

Not everyone wants strong constraints on sexuality, though. Highly educated people often wait many years past puberty to settle down, as they delay starting a family for up to a decade while attending college and graduate school. Those individuals do not want strong prohibitions against premarital sexuality and birth control because it would mean they’d need to remain celibate for many years, and completely suppress their post-pubertal sexual urges until they get their Ph.D., M.D., or law degree, and then wait a little longer until they find a partner with whom to settle down. Weeden has suggested that the links between religion and reproductive strategy account for many of the heated moral conflicts between the religious right and the irreligious academic elitists on the left.

Several large data sets now provide results consistent with this view of reproductive religiosity, suggesting that people’s preferred mating strategies strongly influence their attraction toward, or repulsion from, religion. Weeden finds that the normally high correlations between religious beliefs and other moral attitudes shrink if you control for people’s attitudes towards sex. And Mike McCullough, another prominent expert on the psychology of religion, finds that many people tend to become especially religious during the years when they have children, and then to become less devout later in life.

The reproductive religiosity model helps solve another logical puzzle. It has often been presumed that men use religiosity to control women’s sexuality. But then why is it that women are much more likely to embrace religious beliefs than are men? This becomes less puzzling when one considers that, because of their intrinsically higher initial investment in offspring, women are less likely to benefit from a sexually unrestricted strategy, and more likely to benefit if men’s unrestricted inclinations are kept in check. On this view, women may be actively choosing religion rather than being passively enslaved by it.

* people trust religious people more than non-religious people. However, they did a clever study in which they gave judges information not only about someone’s religious beliefs, but also about their mating strategy. The results suggest that, if you know an atheist also happens to be a committed monogamist, you would trust that person more than you’d trust a religious person who is non-monogamous. Those findings suggest that the distrust of atheists is driven in large part by presumptions about their mating strategies

* Our ancestors’ reproductive success depended not only on finding a mate, but also on maintaining a long-term relationship with that mate, caring for their children, developing a network of friends and relatives to protect and assist one another, and winning the respect and trust of those friends and relatives. And religion has intimate connections to every one of these fundamental human goals.

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Paul Johnson’s A History Of The English People

Writing in his prologue to the 1980 edition, Johnson wrote:

A third objection to this book is that, in its exclusive preoccupation with the English, or rather with the peoples who have occupied the land we call England, it presupposes that history is Anglocentric, and is therefore irrelevant in an age when the centres of world power have shifted elsewhere. Many modern historians, notably Professor Geoffrey Barraclough in his admirable book, History in a Changing World, have urged that we should abandon the habit of writing history based on the assumption that a particular race is the sole active agent. Such advice has been widely followed. One American scholar notes sadly the decline of English historical studies in the United States in a period when

The subject has to fight hard for a toe-hold in curricula in which students are invited to study such topics as the dynamics of Soviet power, under-development among the African peoples, the renascence of Moslem culture, or parliamentary institutions in Asian countries, and when English history has been dropped altogether from the curriculum of most schools.

Now I object strongly to this drift away from English history, which is part of a wider movement away from European and North Atlantic history. Virtually all the ideas, knowledge, techniques and institutions around which the world revolves came from the European theatre and its ocean offshoots; many of them came quite explicitly from England, which was the principal matrix of modern society. Moreover, the West is still the chief repository of free institutions; and these alone, in the long run, guarantee further progress in ideas and inventions. Powerful societies are rising elsewhere not by virtue of their rejection of western world habits but by their success in imitating them. What ideas has Soviet Russia produced? Or Communist China? Or post-war Japan? Where is the surge of discovery from the Arab world? Or liberated Africa? Or, for that matter, from Latin America, independent now for more than 150 years? It is a thin harvest indeed, distinguished chiefly by infinite variations on the ancient themes of violence, cruelty, suppression of freedom and the destruction of the individual spirit. The sober and unpopular truth is that whatever hope there is for mankind – at least for the foreseeable future – lies in the ingenuity and the civilised standards of the West, above all in those western elements permeated by English ideas and traditions. To deny this is to surrender to fashionable cant and humbug. When we are taught by the Russians and the Chinese how to improve the human condition, when the Japanese give us science, and the Africans a great literature, when the Arabs show us the road to prosperity and the Latin Americans to freedom, then will be the time to change the axis of our history.

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Thousands Feared Dead In Lebanon Explosion

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