John Waters' crushing 'reason' sticks it to the atheists

Discuss church-state separation issues that are relevant in Ireland.
andrew
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John Waters' crushing 'reason' sticks it to the atheists

Post by andrew » Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:33 am

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opi ... 76736.html

Yer man is at it again, he's really outdone himself this time. Does anyone write to the editor complaing about his mental outbursts? I've written several times but the only letters I've had published have been on other topics.
John Bruton’s views on the naive attempt to separate religion and politics deserve careful consideration, writes JOHN WATERS

THE PROBLEM with speaking about the putative value of religion is that such contributions are invariably read in our culture as pitches on behalf of particular denominations or specific faiths. For obvious reasons, it is as rare to encounter an irreligious person prepared to argue for the benefits of religion as it is to come upon an atheist not defined by an obsession with opposing phenomena whose existence he denies.

Obviously, anyone who perceives benefit in faith will almost always have a faith of his own, and this tends to play into the hands of those seeking to close down any broader discussion. This is because opponents of religion almost invariably direct their arguments at the specificities of particular belief-systems rather than at the spiritual life of human beings or society. Secular-atheism has an easy time knocking over the straw men offered by specific manifestations of religion, while never having to engage with any larger questions.

For these and other reasons, it is almost impossible for any discussion on the general subject of religion to endure for long without short-circuiting into a charge-and-counter-charge session about the failings of a specific faith, or even the failings of a tiny minority of adherents of a specific faith. In Ireland, these difficulties are exacerbated by the presence of a host of residual neuroses relating to a specific experience of Catholicism.

So when, in seeking on Monday last to address some of the general questions pertaining to religion and politics, John Bruton announced himself as a “practising Catholic”, the former taoiseach and, more recently, EU ambassador to Washington was already framing his contribution in a particular way. The fact that he was speaking – as newspaper reports helpfully emphasised – at “an event jointly hosted by the Jesuit quarterly review Studies and the Catholic think tank, the Iona Institute”, had already coloured anything he might say.

This was a pity, because Bruton touched on some interesting things about politics, society and faith. His broader theme was the relationship that should exist between the Christian churches of Europe and the EU. His purpose was to reassure Irish Catholics who, in the course of the recent debates about Lisbon, have tended to see the EU as “a cold place for Christians”.

The headlines focused not so much on this theme, however, as on a few glancing remarks about the relationship between religion and politics. Bruton cautioned secularists to “beware of committing the same errors of immoderation, of the sort they justly condemn in churches in the past, in pursuit of their own cause today”.

The secularist idea that religion and politics should be kept separate was “unrealistic” and “naive”, he said.

Far from enhancing democracy, such “naive” beliefs “lead toward either tyranny or the breakdown of the pluralism that is required for democracy to function”.

Mr Bruton had in mind a particular form of naivety: “naive in its understanding of human nature”. Voters, he said, “do not divide their minds up into watertight compartments, marked ‘religious’, ‘political’, ‘personal’, ‘family’ and so forth. What goes on in one part of their mind influences what goes on in the other.”

This point urgently requires to be understood above the moronic cacophony generated in this society by a secular-atheistic mindset intent upon pursuing an illusory notion of freedom via a reduced form of reason.

Religion, rather than just another “category”, is the guiding hypothesis that makes sense of the whole, the public expression of the total dimension of human nature. No other channel has the capacity to convey the broadest truths about man’s nature and his relationship to the universe. Secularists do not like this characterisation of the situation, but it has long been obvious that they have nothing to offer society as an alternative source of ethics, meaning or hope.

It is, of course, possible for an individual to survive without any overweening means of reconciliation with reality, but such values are culturally incommunicable other than as opposition to religion. The collective presents a particular problem not addressed by personal objections to particular religions.

A society without a cultural consciousness of the absolute, such as we are in the process of creating, is like a lawn laid on top of a concrete yard: it may briefly give the impression of health, but eventually, for obvious reasons, it withers away. What is called secularism, therefore, strikes not merely at specific religions, or even religions in general, but at the very capacity of humans to be human.

John Bruton is not remembered as a gospel-greedy politician. As taoiseach, although known to be a quietly convinced Catholic, he was not given to either the theocratic gestures of a de Valera or the overt demonstrations of piety of a Bertie Ahern. Nobody, looking back at the period when Bruton was leader of the rainbow government from 1994-1997, could point to any direct signs of church interference in matters of public policy.

We would do well, then, to listen carefully to what he says, and not be waylaid by those who would divert us from the essential nature of his argument into yet another fruitless and redundant discussion about the necessity for separating church and State.
Last edited by andrew on Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Emm....would anyone like to see my monkey impression?
Ygern
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Re: John Waters' crushing 'reason' sticks it to the atheists

Post by Ygern » Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:20 pm

Waters' arguments are exceedingly weak at the best of times. But this one is one of his worst.

To paraphrase: John Bruton was a moderate, practicing Catholic; therefore what he says is right.

Pitiful. Arguments are worth listening to because of their substance, not because of what pew you kneel in on Sunday.
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Re: John Waters' crushing 'reason' sticks it to the atheists

Post by woodpigeon » Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:48 pm

It's quite a diatribe, isn't it? What nasty thing did us atheists do to poor ikkle John for us to deserve such contempt?

I think we can all thank our lucky stars that Bruton did not make EU head-honcho based on the comments described here. The word "laughing stock" seems to ring in my ears. Here's a major contest I think we can be happy to have lost. There are some rip-roaring passages here:

'The secularist idea that religion and politics should be kept separate was “unrealistic” and “naive”' - er, isn't that the idea in the USA and in France? Hasn't been enshrined in their constitutions for, er, centuries?

"And naive beliefs pursued relentlessly, as they often are, lead toward either tyranny or the breakdown of the pluralism that is required for democracy to function" - That is absolute bullshit, both that the separation of religion and state should be considered naive, or that there is an inevitable slippery slope into tyranny.

And then there's Waters chiming in with stuff like "Religion, rather than just another “category”, is the guiding hypothesis that makes sense of the whole, the public expression of the total dimension of human nature. No other channel has the capacity to convey the broadest truths about man’s nature and his relationship to the universe. " - his assumption here is that Religion has all the answers, and that secularism doesn't, when even a child could see that Religion doesn't have the answers, except a lot of makey uppie ideas that don't take well to being challenged. That secularism doesn't have all the answers is, get this: OK. The world is far too complex a place for there to be complete answers to any question, and that's fine. It gives us an incentive to continue exploring and understanding.

'it has long been obvious that [secularists] have nothing to offer society as an alternative source of ethics, meaning or hope." Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. A comment like this is almost as if John is putting his hands firmly to his ears and shouting "I can't hear you". It's not obvious to me, or any secularist I know. Non religious ethics are everywhere, often surpass anything written in the holy books, and are more adapted to the current needs of society and the world generally. Just because we don't have a central guiding bureaucracy telling us what to believe and how to think doesn't mean that there is not a strong ethical component within non-religious people.
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Re: John Waters' crushing 'reason' sticks it to the atheists

Post by Ygern » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:16 pm

Waters is assuming, probably correctly, that most of his loyal readers can be counted on to not know any better and will never bother to investigate the "facts" for themselves.

Every few months there is an article in one of Ireland or the UK's papers frothing about how secularism is causing the decline of Europe. Such arguments by their very nature have to rely on some combination of untruths, wildly inaccurate allegations and thinly disguised bigotry.
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Re: John Waters' crushing 'reason' sticks it to the atheists

Post by woodpigeon » Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:31 pm

Here's more info on the Bruton speech

http://www.ionainstitute.ie/news.php?num=0785#0785

And he praised the Catholic Church in Europe for its support of the EU and concluded that “people of faith have made the EU what it is today.”

Huh? It's great he's willing to give a shout out to Christians, Muslims and Jews an' all, but the EU is what it is today through the combined efforts of lots of different people, religious and none. The EU is what it is mainly because of a shared secular agenda, working primarily on the actual and not the etherial.

What's really concerning is that Bruton is around long enough to know that the RCC have been more than willing to ignore state laws in favour of canon law when it suited them. Surely this is bad for any administration, whether national or supra-national?

If he so badly wants religious organisations to run our schools or our hospitals, then shouldn't the onus be on them to prove why they are solely qualified to do this work?

John Bruton would have been a very bad choice as EU president. This, now, is clear.
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Re: John Waters' crushing 'reason' sticks it to the atheists

Post by Ygern » Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:17 pm

then shouldn't the onus be on them to prove why they are solely qualified to do this work
Or whether they have any qualification to do this. Schools and hospitals should be run by qualified professionals not by organisations with an unrelated agenda.

In any case, these supposedly multi-denominational initiatives are cynical in the extreme. The fact that mullahs, rabbis and priests can preach that their religion is the One True Faith from their soapbox to their congregations; and then stand around looking benignly tolerant and open-minded in each other's company in the interests of bolstering their combined political power-base, shows that not a one of them has much of a problem with the word "hypocrite".
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Re: John Waters' crushing 'reason' sticks it to the atheists

Post by Beebub » Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:51 pm

Ah poor old eejit.

Don't tell me Sinead O'Connor is an Atheist op top of everything else.

Boy, that woman has a lot to answer for!
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Re: John Waters' crushing 'reason' sticks it to the atheists

Post by Ygern » Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:09 pm

Sinead O'Connor's an atheist?! Last time I heard she was a wannabe priest.

Although, tbh, she seems to me a decent person but a troubled one.
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Re: John Waters' crushing 'reason' sticks it to the atheists

Post by IrishAndroid » Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:22 am

woodpigeon wrote:Here's more info on the Bruton speech

http://www.ionainstitute.ie/news.php?num=0785#0785
Ah http://www.ionainstitute.ie/news.php... for all your homosexual hating, women-oppressing, hate and fear mongering needs.
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Re: John Waters' crushing 'reason' sticks it to the atheists

Post by Beebub » Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:04 am

Ygern wrote:Sinead O'Connor's an atheist?! Last time I heard she was a wannabe priest.
It was meant as a joke. Up to recently Waters seemed vent his anger at women and the (understandable) frustration of unmarried fathers in terms of rights/ access etc. This was mainly due to his experiences with Sinead and their child. I'm just surmising that she must have recently become an Atheist as well which explains the recent vitriol spouting from him.

Didn't you know that everything bad in the world is Sinead's fault??
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