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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  07:03:08  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"Secularists do not welcome ignorance as a substitute for declining faith." <-- That's my favorite line from this opinion piece found in the Guardian. Much of the rise of Christian fundamentalism in America has come out of religious ignorance. Most Christians haven't read the Bible, and even those who do are ignorant of a rich history of scholarly studies and interpretations of the original scripture. The worst of today's American fundamentalism is a blend of social conservatism for its own stupid sake, intense patriotism, with undertones of white supremacy. It is inconsistent, inhumane, and while it thinks it adheres to long held traditions, in reality it is a fairly modern development with only certain general things in common with traditional religion (such as the subservience of women.)

That's America, but this article is about Britain. She talks about Christians telling false tales as they desperately seek martyrdom.

Here's the whole article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2230954,00.html

And another excerpt:
Yes, it is that time of year when secularists, atheists and humanists become the Grinches who stole Christmas. As an honorary associate of the National Secular Society and president of the British Humanist Association, here is my cue to offer you all a rattling good Christmas "Bah, humbug!". Except, of course, it's all utter nonsense. No one is out to ban Christmas or Christianity - not atheists nor other faiths. Yet every year the same urban myths are repeated about the banning of Christmas by some pantomime villain local authority suffering from "political correctness gone mad". King Rat Christmas wreckers are unearthed, and every year these turn out to be garbage stories, but they are stored in the attic for another airing next December.


At the end it mentions that Dawkins likes singing Christmas carols. I do too. Every person has some ethnic heritage, and even as we toss off certain ideas, beliefs, and traditions, we don't want to dump out the baby with the bathwater. Now I just need to ignore all the assholes who insist that I either convert or shut my mouth and crawl into a closet for all of December.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com


Edited by - marfknox on 12/23/2007 07:04:12

Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  07:16:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Here's what Richard Dawkins said about Xmas.

Here's what Way of the Master Radio says about Dawkins and Xmas.

When I hear the beautiful songs about religion and see the beautiful churches and religious artwork, I can't help but think what a waste it all is. I am not a fan of superstition, nor the products of that superstition. I do not wish to ban any of it. I wish to show that it has no merit.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  07:24:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Gorgo wrote:
When I hear the beautiful songs about religion and see the beautiful churches and religious artwork, I can't help but think what a waste it all is. I am not a fan of superstition, nor the products of that superstition. I do not wish to ban any of it. I wish to show that it has no merit.


This is a waste?



Sorry, but most people (including myself) consider paintings like these to be some of the greatest human achievements and treasures of Western culture. The significance of songs, poetry, artwork, architecture go far beyond the literal religious meaning of the subject. Especially years later when it is considered as a historical artifact.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  08:04:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sorry, but most people believe in superstition. I'd think that you of all people would not bring up "most people" as a defense of anything.

In fact, that particular picture, with babies holding a symbol of the instrument of execution is pretty strange. Would you think it was cool if they were playing with a revolver or a hangman's noose? No. Sorry, I understand that I'm pretty ignorant, but I don't get this. I'm sure the quality of painting, the colors, etc. is fine, I don't know. This picture is a salute to stupid.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  19:56:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh please, Gorgo! Talk about taking my words and twisting them. Let me re-phrase then: Anyone who knows a damn about the history of Western culture from pre-Renaissance until post-Renaissance knows that the best of this genre of painting is considered, by historians, academic humanists, and other scholars, to be some of the greatest human achievements and treasures of Western culture. And the ones who even know a little about the art of this period understand why, and it has nothing to do with the superstitious aspects of religion. This is from an era when there was no separation of church and state, and when religious minorities were suppressed, and so there was no clear dividing line between the secular and religious.

If you want to be like an ignorant Southern Baptist reading the Bible and only take this masterpiece by Raphael on its literal subject matter, be my guest. Art is ultimately subjective, after all. I find that calling it a "salute to stupid" ignores the most significant qualities of the work and diminishes the work's cultural significance.

The main reason I say you are being ignorant is that the first art that is considered "humanistic" depicted religious scenes. What made them humanistic was how the figures in the scenes were rendered - like real, imperfect people, rather than perfect icons. In the Renaissance, artists began interjecting contemporary social and political figures as well as their own personal associations. Instead of painting a totally unrealistic perfect-looking person, they made the saints dirty, put real pained and stressed expressions on character's faces, showed weak, human sides to holy figures. For example, much has been noticed about the differences between Carravagio's more traditional (for the time) depiction of Judith slaying Holofernes and Artemesia Gentileschi's Judith. In Carravagio's, Judith seems to slay the much larger man with almost no effort, as if divinely empowered. If you cover up Holofernes, it doesn't seem as if the girl is in the act of doing something aggressive, much less killing large man! But in Artemesia's, Judith looks much stronger in both her arms and stance, less calm and more aggressive, and requires help from her maidservant to do the job. Given the similarities between the composition and knowing that Carravagio was so influential on Artemsia (and all of her contemporaries), it is clear that her painting is somewhat derivative from his, but the changes in hers do not only reflect her gender. They reflect changing in the times.





This type of artwork upset some more sophisticated people in the religious hierarchy because they saw the work for what it was - undermining the divinity, the awesomeness of religious dogma and bringing it down to the human condition. This was the beginning of the march toward the Enlightenment.

We don't just understand history as a chronological list of facts. All of those religious paintings in Western history are essential to understanding the history of Western skepticism, agnosticism, rationalism, and atheism as much as they are essentially to understanding Christianity. To read them with such a narrow scope is fool-hearty.


"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 12/23/2007 19:58:27
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  20:33:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I didn't say that you couldn't like it Marf. I didn't even say that I was right. I just said it I thought it was a waste. There is nothing redeeming in the most beautiful of churches. Fine that there are humanistic elements in religious paintings. Fine that there are good things that religious people did. Imagine if they didn't waste their time with religious crap.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  20:46:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Gorgo wrote:
I didn't say that you couldn't like it Marf.
Yeah, I know.

I didn't even say that I was right. I just said it I thought it was a waste.
Yes, and I responded by saying that such a judgment was ignorant.

There is nothing redeeming in the most beautiful of churches.
You just said a redeeming quality in this very sentence - they are beautiful. They are also structurally sound. The best of them become part of a architectural history which connects with works of the past and influences works in the future. Lots of redeemable qualities.

Fine that there are humanistic elements in religious paintings. Imagine if they didn't waste their time with religious crap.
Imagine if people were perfect beings, with the same values shared universally, and capable of no errors. Ouch! Damn, reality hurts. Nobody is perfect. Take away religion and people are just as imperfect in other stupid ways. The good we do is worth celebrating in whatever form it comes, even if attached to religious stupidity. In fact, if we considered everything that is not totally pure in virtue and value a waste, pretty much everything humans did, said, or created would be a waste.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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@tomic
Administrator

USA
4607 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  22:35:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit @tomic's Homepage Send @tomic a Private Message  Reply with Quote
But Marf, if those artists weren't painting works with religious themes they probably would have painted something else. Building would have been erected and poetry would have been written. I don;t see a need to credit Christianity for their talent and their works.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding you but you seem to be giving Chistianity a nod simply because the works happen to include its themes.

Part of me thinks it's too bad the early church was taking all of the wealth for thremselves so that they could commission so many artists. And the artists had to take the work since the church drained money from anyone else that might have sponsored them. Who knows what beutiful works were never made and forget all the beautiful works the church had deliberately destroyed because of their pagan origins.

@

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  23:56:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

Oh please, Gorgo! Talk about taking my words and twisting them. Let me re-phrase then: Anyone who knows a damn about the history of Western culture from pre-Renaissance until post-Renaissance knows that the best of this genre of painting is considered, by historians, academic humanists, and other scholars, to be some of the greatest human achievements and treasures of Western culture. And the ones who even know a little about the art of this period understand why, and it has nothing to do with the superstitious aspects of religion. This is from an era when there was no separation of church and state, and when religious minorities were suppressed, and so there was no clear dividing line between the secular and religious.

If you want to be like an ignorant Southern Baptist reading the Bible and only take this masterpiece by Raphael on its literal subject matter, be my guest. Art is ultimately subjective, after all. I find that calling it a "salute to stupid" ignores the most significant qualities of the work and diminishes the work's cultural significance.
And you didn't ask Gorgo about art appreciation. You asked him if he thought it was a waste, and he gave you an honest answer.

You've set up a huge "No True Scotsman" fallacy - in which the in-crowd recognizes the painting's significance and the ignorant don't - and then fault Gorgo for nothing more than being ignorant when he's absolutely correct: Raphael, had he lacked the religious theme, probably would have still made the significant contributions to art and culture that you mention, but on a different theme.

What's wrong, marf, with stating something along the lines of, "I think you have great talent, but are squandering it on a subject that's absurd?" Gorgo's "salute to stupid" comment says something close to that, but he demurs on the quality because (as he says) he doesn't know.

You, marf, have a great passion for art, and know its history and significance. Most people do not. Gorgo didn't "twist" your words at all, and your rephrasing just shows that you think that he doesn't know "a damn" or "a little" about what you're talking about, a point he conceded already (which makes you appear quite the snob). And the Southern Baptist analogy is anything but apt, considering the fact that Gorgo obviously doesn't wish to impose his ideas on others with anything like the draconian ferocity of the fundamentalists.

Really, I think you're dead wrong on the "most people" comment, marf. Even ignoring the fact that "most people" haven't even seen Raphael's painting or anything like it (I tried, unsuccessfully, to Google it up prior to you giving away the artist's name because I'd never seen it before) - "most people," after all, are minimally educated and haven't set foot in an art museum because they're too busy just trying to put food on the table. Just within the U.S., I'd give 100-to-1 odds that "most people" don't understand the significance of such paintings. I'd give the same odds that "most people" couldn't even correctly identify the three figures in the painting. I couldn't. I guessed two of 'em, but was stumped on the third.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 12/24/2007 :  00:18:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by @tomic

Perhaps I am misunderstanding you but you seem to be giving Chistianity a nod simply because the works happen to include its themes.
Actually, it seems that marf is giving the artists a nod simply because they include the religious theme without making it "perfect." Which would be a snubbing of a stereotypically totalitarian church's wishes. In other words, Raphael took risks (even if I still can't see them), so his art has cultural value.

I would agree, but wouldn't fault people for simply being ignorant of these things, because such facts aren't discernable from the artwork itself. A person obviously needs to know a lot more than "this is a painting with a religious theme" to fully understand its contribution to our culture. The painting itself says nothing about the Renaissance or the socio-political atmosphere that existed at the time. This is all background information that marf clearly knows and can properly apply to the artwork in question, but "most people" will not.

Heck, I'd give even odds that more U.S. citizens would first think "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle" when presented with the name "Raphael" than would first think of the artist. marf might even be shocked at the number of people who know that Raphael was an artist only because they know (Trivial Pursuit style) that all of the Ninja Turtles were named after artists.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 12/24/2007 :  00:39:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Putting aside the ongoing (?) argument, I'd like to comment briefly on Marf's OP and the two links in of Gorgo's first response.

The whole "War Against Christmas" charade is a disgusting line of dishonest propaganda. As many if not most Christians churches decline and circle their diminishing (yet still dominant) number of wagons, they begin to think themselves great martyrs. Actually, they are merely great losers. They are, I believe, inevitably losing to rationality, to scientific thinking, to better knowledge of history.

Thus, the panicked efforts to portray secularists, the very people who have defended the religious for centuries, as evil Grinches. The Guardian article puts the lie to this slander.

Dawkins tells it like it is, for most secular people: We don't fear the symbols of religion, not its art or music. We do object to religion having the gall to tell us that, of all human endeavors, it alone both has the ultimate answers, and it alone may not be criticized.

The evil Way of the Master charlatans contribute only silly voices and further slander. In all they said, there was not one fact, not an iota of reasoning. Just lies, and an undertone of fear, with their hate being quite overt. If this is the quality of Christian apologetics in our time, Christianity will die very quickly indeed.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 12/24/2007 :  05:32:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Is it hypocritical to sing songs with words whose literal truth you do not believe? Any such sad edict would leave most great love songs, hymns and arias unsung. If the royal family can trill, with solemn faces and gladsome minds, "What can I give him, poor as I am?" then anyone can.


I don't think Dawkins says that he goes to church weekly and sings hymns because he loves them. I think he enjoys the songs. In fact, he says that he doesn't go to church. But he says that a lot of people do go to church because they enjoy the songs, etc., knowing they're all fiction.

By being in church, and acting like they're promoting the fiction, are they not promoting the fiction?

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 12/24/2007 :  05:49:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You just said a redeeming quality in this very sentence - they are beautiful. They are also structurally sound. The best of them become part of a architectural history which connects with works of the past and influences works in the future. Lots of redeemable qualities.


I appreciate your insights. I have said that I am ignorant. I do not pretend to know anything about art or architecture, or even much about music. I have told you what I feel when I see some of these things, and that's all.

Yes, I occasionally slip and start singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" in the shower, but I usually don't finish, because it just isn't in me anymore. You won't hear me sing, "I Can't Live if Living is Without You," but you might hear me sing something equally stupid. I understand that people do and think stupid things, I'm one of them.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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perrodetokio
Skeptic Friend

275 Posts

Posted - 12/24/2007 :  07:25:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send perrodetokio a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I read the Guardian article. Thought it was spot on. Then reading the comments, I came across this one which sums up the ideology behind all the sensationalists newspapers and right-wingers in Britain:


matth801
December 21, 2007 10:51 AM

The Daily Mail (circa 63AD)

"Bloody Christians coming over here, stealing out festivals....you can't even celebrate yule anymore without local councils putting on "Christmas" festivals to appease them. Last time I checked this was Britain...we don't want these types bringing over their strange 'middle eastern' Christian beliefs. "Love thy neighbour", "Blessed are the meek"...it's political correctness gone mad!"

Rabble, Rabble, Rabble.


Hahahahaha! I love it!

(edited to correct typo-errors)

Cheers!

"Yes I have a belief in a creator/God but do not know that he exists." Bill Scott

"They are still mosquitoes! They did not turn into whales or lizards or anything else. They are still mosquitoes!..." Bill Scott

"We should have millions of missing links or transition fossils showing a fish turning into a philosopher..." Bill Scott
Edited by - perrodetokio on 12/24/2007 07:38:39
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 12/24/2007 :  07:26:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@tomic wrote:
But Marf, if those artists weren't painting works with religious themes they probably would have painted something else. Building would have been erected and poetry would have been written.
Oh really? Under what patronage?

I don;t see a need to credit Christianity for their talent and their works.
Where did I credit Christianity?

Perhaps I am misunderstanding you but you seem to be giving Chistianity a nod simply because the works happen to include its themes.
You have misunderstood me. My point is that these are great works of art, priceless artifacts which both tell us about important developments in Western, and thus human history, and also important for their significant aesthetic contributions to the history of art. I don't want to get into specific analysis because I could write a whole book and in fact whole books and a whole academic field is already devoted to that. For crap's sake, Gorgo called one of Raphael's masterpiece's a "salute to stupidity" and "a waste". I'm surprised I even have to debate such a thing. This has nothing to do with religious superstition. He wants to make it about that, but if you actually read books about art, art history, as well as the other historic events surrounding these works of art, you find that their significance goes far far beyond an object for worship of supernatural claims.

Part of me thinks it's too bad the early church was taking all of the wealth for thremselves so that they could commission so many artists. And the artists had to take the work since the church drained money from anyone else that might have sponsored them. Who knows what beutiful works were never made and forget all the beautiful works the church had deliberately destroyed because of their pagan origins.
I agree that it sucks that the church was such an oppressive monolith, but that's life. There are plenty of injustices today and severe problems with our social and political systems that results in much wastes human potential. But I don't see the point of dwelling on that several hundreds of years after the fact, especially when we have in our possession so many exquisite masterworks. Pissing on the works just because the society at the time was imperfect means that pretty much everything humanity has ever produced was a waste because everything we create comes out of our own social, political, and individual biases and imperfections. I really don't care about what could have been in the 1300-1600's. I care about what was.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 12/24/2007 :  07:58:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Pissing on the works just because the society at the time was imperfect means that pretty much everything humanity has ever produced was a waste because everything we create comes out of our own social, political, and individual biases and imperfections.


Actually, I'm very careful about where I piss, and while pissing is not a perfect art, I don't think I've pissed on anything by the progenitors of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

It may be fine art, and it may be something that many can appreciate. To the extent that the art promotes superstition, I see it as a waste. If it doesn't all promote superstition, or promotes humanism in some clandestine way, that's a different matter. I didn't ask you to burn any of it. I don't want to see one church harmed, and certainly not the Sistine Chapel. I don't want to see anyone driven from a church who want to go to church. It is still a waste. Imagine the good that could be done without superstition. Sure, maybe we'd just move onto some other destructive enterprise, like talking on internet forums.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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