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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Saturday philosophizin'
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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday philosophizin'

an interesting article in today's alternet, written by chris hedges at truthdig...
Chris Hedges is the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times and the author of "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning."

The relentless drive against abortion by the Christian right ... has nothing to do with the protection of life. It is, rather, a cover for a wider and more pernicious assault against the ability of women to control their own bodies, the use of contraception and sexual pleasure.


The leaders of this movement understand that the only emotion that cannot be subsumed into communal life, which they seek to dominate and control, is love. They fear the power of love, especially when magnified and expressed through tender, sexual relationships, which remove couples from their control. Sex, when not a utilitarian form of procreation, is dangerous.

They seek to fashion a world where good and evil are clearly defined and upheld by the nation's judicial system. The battle against abortion is a battle to build a society where pleasure and freedom, where the capacity of the individual and especially women to make choices, and indeed even love itself, are banished. And this is why pro-life groups oppose contraception -- even for those who are married. The fight against abortion is the facade for a wider fight against the right of an individual in a democracy.

you probably figured i picked this because i have a few thoughts of my own... why, whatever gave you THAT idea...?

first of all, i do not agree with this statement...

"The leaders of this movement understand that the only emotion that cannot be subsumed into communal life, which they seek to dominate and control, is love."

while i agree that love, "expressed through tender, sexual relationships" is a good thing, to be promoted, cherished and celebrated, not excoriated, love, in all its forms, directly or indirectly, is also most definitely part of communal life... in fact, rather than being something that "cannot be subsumed" in communal life, love subsumes EVERYTHING as the one principle that lies above all else, and, even though the sexual component of love is commonly conducted in private (at least in our current society), love can and should add immeasurably to the richness and quality of that communal life...

now, of course, i understand that when hedges refers to "communal life," he is referring to it as defined by the leaders of the extremist versions of fundamentalist christianity, a definition no different from that subscribed to by leaders of other extreme versions of religious fundamentalism... these leaders seek absolute authority and control over the lives of others, whether or not they subscribe to the tenets of their creed... in fact, one of the main tenets of organized religion in general requires that followers abdicate their personal authority to that of an external authority, usually an appointed or anointed individual, who either serves as the interpreter of absolute truth via the bible or other source, or, in more extreme cases, as the source him- or herself... (david koresh comes to mind...)

hedges again...

[T]heir own experiences ... have led them to build a movement that creates an external rigidity to cope with the chaos of human existence, a chaos that overwhelmed them. They do not trust their own urges, their capacity for self-restraint or judgment.

authentic communal life based on love, imho, recognizes that individuals must look within for truth, encourages that exploration, has expectations that it will occur, and provides the guidance and support necessary for it to proceed naturally in the course of an individual's process of growing and maturing... the "vision quest" of the native americans is a perfect example of how honoring an individual's truth can be built in to the fabric of a community... it's even evident in the bible with the story of john the baptist's sojourn in the desert and christ's journeys into the depths of his own soul...

especially interesting to me is that the expressed purpose of those journeys is to seek truth, and that truth, as so clearly stated by christ himself in the gospels, leads to nothing more or less than love... by contrast, what organized religions have so diligently pursued is to convince their followers that inner truth is not to be trusted, that only an external, "sanctioned" authority can be relied on as the source of truth... most organized religions are, in fact, primarily instruments of control, with the power of that control resting in the hands of a few who guard it jealously and insure that only those who share the same beliefs are admitted to the inner circle...

the inner journey, on the other hand, if conducted with the seriousness and the sense of the sacred that it deserves, will lead to the truth, and the truth will lead, inevitably, to love... with the insights gained by that inner journey as a basis, the individual can then partake in communal life as a full contributor, bringing the wisdom and love uniquely expressed out of having encountered his or her own truth... the purpose of REAL religious leaders is to help guide us on that journey and to recognize that such a journey is an essential part of an individual's life, which, if subjected to external control, loses its value entirely...

on a final note, i think it's abundantly clear that social control based on the requirement that individuals abdicate their personal truth in favor of an external, sanctioned authority is hardly unique to religions... repressive, authoritarian governments of every stripe follow precisely the same path, and even the high priests of our scientific community, who worship at the altar of scientific method, observation, measurement, and objectivity, often demand total obeisance from their followers...

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