Leo Tolstoy and The Silent Universe Reply

By Frank Martela

Philosophy Now

If you had everything else you wanted but your life lacked meaning, would it still be worth living? For the rich Russian count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), the towering author of such classics as War and Peace and Anna Karenina, this was not a merely theoretical question. This was a matter of life and death: “Why should I live?… What real indestructible essence will come from my phantasmal, destructible life?” was the question he asked himself. In his autobiography, My Confession (1882), he wrote that as long as he was unable to find a satisfactory answer to the question of meaning, “the best that I could do was to hang myself.” What makes ‘What’s the meaning of life?’ such a powerful question that inability to deliver a satisfactory answer can push a person to the brink of a suicide?

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Marxism: Its Historic Role and Intellectual Legacy Reply

By Keith Preston

An Overview of Marxist Theory

During the middle part of the nineteenth century, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels outlined a comprehensive theory concerning how human societies evolve over time, and the factors that shape the character of particular societies. According to Marxist theory, human history is the history of the rise and fall of different kinds of economic systems, and it is the economic relationships that human beings enter into that determine every other aspect of their society at any particular time. A new economic system emerges when an older system has exceeded its historical purpose. New economic systems (“modes of production”) develop within the context of the system they eventually replace. Feudalism developed out of primitive societies, and capitalism developed out of feudalism. Marx and Engels believed that communism would develop out of the conditions created by capitalism.

The emergence of each new economic system, or mode of production, comes about as a result of conflict. The conditions of the older economic system give rise to the newer one, and the two systems eventually come into conflict with one another with the rising economic forces supplanting the declining ones. However, this conflict is not something that human beings deliberately choose to engage in. Instead, human consciousness and thought is shaped by the material conditions human beings find themselves in. The ideas that dominate the intellectual life of a particular period in history are determined by the existing set of economic relationships, and the dominant mode of production. Marx and Engels believed that culture is an outgrowth of the material forces that shape the economy.

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Index of Cults and Religions Reply

The people who run this site are just as much of a “cult” as all of the groups they hate. However, any one of the groups on this list could likewise be the basis for intentional communities for folks who share common beliefs and values.

Watchman Fellowship

This Index contains brief definitions, descriptions or cross references on over 1,200 religious organizations and beliefs, as well as world religions (including Christianity) and related doctrines. Watchman Fellowship is a Christian apologetics and discernment ministry; thus, many references (“Jesus,” “Gospel,” “Christianity,” etc.) contain definitions that reflect the beliefs of Watchman’s staff. While Watchman Fellowship does not hold to the beliefs of non-Christian religions and doctrines, we also attempt to describe these beliefs factually, fairly and accurately. Readers are asked to assist in this effort by suggesting corrections or improvements.

This is by no means a complete list of cults and religions. Watchman Fellowship maintains over 10,000 files and a research library of over 25,000 books and periodicals on religions, cults, new religious movements and related teachings. The absence of a religious movement from this index does not mean that Watchman Fellowship endorses the organization.

By its primary dictionary definition, the term cult just means a system of religious beliefs or rituals. It is based on a farming term in Latin meaning cultivation. Sociologists and anthropologists sometimes use the term cult to describe religious structure or belief patterns with meanings (usually non-pejorative) unique to their disciplines. In modern usage, the term cult is often used by the general public to describe any religious group they view as strange or dangerous. Thus, cult can describe religious leaders or organizations that employ abusive, manipulative, or illegal control over their followers’ lives.

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Scientism: America’s State Religion Reply

By Edward Feser

We are hostages to the clerics of an intolerant faith.

As our nation finds itself wracked by violence and threatened with regime failure, questions of authority become ever more urgent. We believe authority in a free society rests with the people and their representatives, and we abhor the theft of that authority by “experts” from our bureaucratic ruling classes. We present this essay to help expose and articulate one important way in which authority has been stolen from the people and given over to unelected dictators in the name of “Science.”—Eds.

Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994) was the enfant terrible of late 20th-century philosophy of science. He delighted in mischief, juxtaposing vast knowledge of science and its history with antics like egging on creationists, playing devil’s advocate for astrology, and calling for the “separation of science and state.”

He has nevertheless secured a place in the canon, because he is brilliant, extremely well-read, and funny—and his views, when correctly understood, are important and challenging. No doubt it helps that he is a man of the Left, despite saying things that were often criticized for giving aid and comfort to the religious Right.

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Purity Politics Makes Nothing Happen 7

I remember the Buckley-Rangel debate well. It was one of the moments when I began to realize the Right are not always the bad guys and the Left are not always the good guys. Of course, today I would say I am both beyond left and right. I would claim both Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine as proto-anarchists. In the tradition of Nietzsche (anarchist of the right) and Stirner (egoist anarchist), I’ve also moved  beyond the concept of good and evil toward moral skepticism.

By Conor Friedersdorf

The Atlantic

Nearly 30 years ago, the PBS program Firing Line convened a debate about the War on Drugs, which has contributed more than any other criminal-justice policy to deadly street violence in Black neighborhoods and the police harassment, arrest, and mass incarceration of Black Americans. Revisiting the debate helps clarify what it will take to end that ongoing policy mistake.

Congressman Charlie Rangel led one side in the 1991 clash. Born in 1930, Rangel served in the Korean War, provided legal assistance to 1960s civil-rights activists, participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, and represented Harlem for 46 years as a Democrat in the House. He was once arrested while participating in an anti-apartheid rally. Opposing him was William F. Buckley Jr., the conservative intellectual who founded National Review in 1955 and took the wrong side in some of the most significant racial-justice controversies of his day. In an infamous 1957 editorial, Buckley justified the imposition of white-supremacist racial segregation in the American South. He opposed federal civil-rights legislation in the 1960s. And he was an apologist for South Africa’s apartheid regime in the 1980s.

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There’s a culture clash in Roman Catholicism. Guess who’s winning? Reply

It is interesting how the totalitarian humanist ideology is largely replacing mainline Protestantism (like Episcopalianism) as the dominant religion of the WASP upper middle class, and is even finding its way into traditionally “conservative” religious denominations like the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and even non-denominational “low church” evangelicalism.

Many causes to recent decline in American religiosity; but U.S. more religious now than at Founding Reply

The founding generation of Americans during the revolutionary period were not especially religious. The leadership was comprised mostly of nominal Anglicans, lukewarm or lapsed adherents of the Reformation churches, deists, Freemasons, and (probably) some closet atheists. A few, like Patrick Henry, were low church pietists associated with the “Great Awakening,” which was most popular among the lower classes. One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon, was a Presbyterian minister.

By Christopher White

Crux Now

NEW YORK — While American religiosity may be in rapid decline, a new study reveals that the United States remains more religious than many other countries and is presently more religious than at many other times in its own history.

Further, the study posits that the social, political, and legal environment in the country has become less hospitable to all religions over the last 75 years and argues that decreased religiosity can be attributed to more secularized education and a decline in marriage.

The study, “Promise and Peril: The History of American Religiosity and its Recent Decline” was released on April 30 by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and is authored by Lyman Stone, an AEI adjunct fellow and a research fellow at the Institute for Family Studies.

Stone says that America’s decline in religiosity is not evidence of a change in personal preferences, but rather a number of specific policy choices.

In the realm of education, he notes that the rise of the Blaine Amendments in the 19th century, which prohibited direct government aid to religious educational institutions, greatly contributed to widespread loss of religious influence through schools.

Blaine Amendments, which began as an effort by Protestants to limit Catholic influence on society, specifically through education,“ began as discrimination ended as secularization,” writes Stone.

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In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace Reply

The United States has always been an unusually religious nation for an advanced industrial society. Other nations with comparable levels of advancement in Western Europe, East Asia, and Oceania are generally far less religious. But that seems to be changing. However, it is a coincidence that totalitarian humanism is rising just as traditional religion is declining? As I have said before, in many ways, totalitarian humanists are merely Christians without a Christ. “Our atheists are very pious people.”-Max Stirner

In its more extreme forms, totalitarian humanism bears a creepy resemblance to Maoism, Nazism, or Islamism. But in its more mainstream forms it seems to be more on the level of the social purity movement, Prohibition, the Legion of Decency, or the Moral Majority.

Pew Research Center

The religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip. In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.

Both Protestantism and Catholicism are experiencing losses of population share. Currently, 43% of U.S. adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And one-in-five adults (20%) are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009. Meanwhile, all subsets of the religiously unaffiliated population – a group also known as religious “nones” – have seen their numbers swell. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up modestly but significantly from 2% in 2009; agnostics make up 5% of U.S. adults, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009. Members of non-Christian religions also have grown modestly as a share of the adult population.

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WalkAway Interview Clips with Keri Smith and Mike Harlow Reply

Former SJWs are interviewed by Gavin McInness. What I find most interesting about this is how closely it resembles the various atheist podcasts featuring former religious fundamentalists and cult members talking about how they “walked away.” In fact, years ago, there was a newsletter for former evangelicals called “Walk Away.”Although what I find troubling and unfortunate is that many of these people seem to be embracing Republicanism or neoliberalism in some form, just like many former religious fundamentalists will ironically become fanatical SJWs, and just as many former Communists during the Stalin era because ultra-right-wing reactionaries and/or neocons. I don’t really consider SJWism to be “Marxism” per se, but what we need is to emphasize the writings of Stirner, Proudhon, Bakunin, Goldman, Berkman, and other anarchist critics of authoritarian leftism, as an antidote to both SJWism and its counterparts on the right.

Falwell apologizes for unzipped pants photo: ‘I’m gonna try to be a good boy’ 3

A clerical oligarch gets caught with his pants down. Literally.

By Peter Canellos and Michael Stratford

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. said on Wednesday that he had apologized for posting a photo of him in unzipped pants and arm around a woman — but also defended the incident as a vacation “costume party” that was “just in good fun.”

The now-deleted photo showed Falwell, a leading evangelical supporter of President Donald Trump, with his pants unzipped and his underwear showing beneath, while he had one arm around a woman whose shorts also appeared to be unbuttoned and his other holding a glass with a dark-colored liquid. The photo appeared to be on board a yacht.

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The Case for Christian Distributism Reply

The economic vision of distributism, which is more or less the economic doctrine of the modern Catholic Church, is very similar to that of left-anarchism and libertarian-socialism, but socially conservative and minus anticlericalism.

By Allan C. Carlson

Chronicles

Christian distributism celebrates the small and the human. It rests on strong home economies and demands the widest possible distribution and ownership of productive property. It favors worker ownership through cooperatives of necessarily larger machines and enterprises. It seeks and reinforces local communities, bound together by ties of kinship, faith, and trade. It welcomes lifelong, fertile marriages of men to women. It favors home care for the elderly and infirm, as well as home-centered education for the young.

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The Truth About Critical Methods | James Lindsay Reply

James Lindsay on the theology of the new theocracy. The two most important things that are happening in the developed world at the present time are the re-feudalization of class relations and the growth of totalitarian humanism as the self-legitimating ideology of the rising ruling class. Just as neo-feudalism is reinstating the kinds of class societies that existed in the premodern world, totalitarian humanism is resurrecting premodern caste systems based on ascribed status, but within the technocratic framework of modern totalitarianism. The principal differences between totalitarian humanism and the 20th-century models of totalitarianism are two things: 1) the commercial values of capitalism require a certain degree of cultural openness that is not possible in a Stalinist type of system (hence, “soft totalitarianism” rather than “hard totalitarianism”) and 2) contemporary methods of propaganda and ideological control are far more sophisticated than those of 20th-century totalitarians, more Edward Bernays than Joseph Goebbels.

 

The Great Awokening Reply

This article provides a pretty good overview of how “wokeness” is mostly quasi-religious moral masturbation for affluent white liberals, and essentially a “Great Awakening” for the post-Christian era. Nietzsche is right once again. This also fits the historical pattern of the upwardly mobile sectors of the middle class being the engine that drives totalitarian movements.

Vox

For all the attention paid to the politics of the far-right in the Trump era, the biggest shift in American politics is happening somewhere else entirely.

In the past five years, white liberals have moved so far to the left on questions of race and racism that they are now, on these issues, to the left of even the typical black voter.

This change amounts to a “Great Awokening” — comparable in some ways to the enormous religious foment in the white North in the years before the American Civil War.

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Catholic youths stop protestors from tearing down saint’s statue Reply

Are the battle lines being drawn in the future inter-tribal civil war?

By Pete Baklinski

Lifesite News

VENTURA, California, June 25, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of courageous young Catholics surrounded the statue of a saint in Ventura, California last Saturday, placing their bodies in between Junipero Serra and the mob who wanted to tear him down.

The anti-Serra demonstrators had put out a call on social media for the June 20 event that began at 1 PM. Calling the event “Tear down Junipero Serra,” the demonstrators stated that “No longer shall we celebrate the enslavement, rape, and genocide of the original people of Ventura.”

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The Cringe Fringe Left Going After Christianity is a Massive Mistake Reply

Indeed it is. What the totalitarian Left typically tries to do is ride the wave of popular rebellion to state power. But when they start attacking the religion is often when they start losing popular sympathy, and public opinion will then take a rightward turn. It happened in Hungary in 1919, in Spain in 1936, in Iran in 1979, and plenty of other places.  This is how you get the Falangists and the Revolutionary Guards.

The Mob Is Now After Baby Jesus? Reply

A major problem that leftists often have is not knowing when to quit while they’re ahead. They’re like compulsive gamblers who always end up blowing their winnings on more gambling. Few things provide more ideological/rhetorical ammunition to the right than this kind of stuff.  It’s like these folks have a conscious strategy to make themselves as hated as possible.

 

Angry Arminian Mob Pulls Down Statue Of John Calvin Reply

This is parody but I’ve known plenty of Arminians who would gladly do this and plenty of Calvinists who would gladly do the same. For the first 15 years of my life, I was an Arminian five days a week and a Calvinist on Sunday, lol. Kind of like the way I’m a far-left anarchist paleconservative today.

Babylon Bee

PITTSBURGH, PA—A rowdy gang of angry, riled-up Arminian believers gathered to pull down a statue of Reformer John Calvin standing in front of Calvin Reformed Bible College & Seminary, authorities confirmed Friday.

The band of Wesleyan troublemakers brought a rope, lassoed it around the neck of the stone likeness of Calvin, and yanked it down while yelling rallying cries like “Down with limited atonement!” “You’ll never take our free will!” and “For Servetus!”

Mob members then stomped on the statue and spray-painted crude Arminian slogans on the downed Reformer, according to police reports.

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