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NeoNote — Religion & morality

A couple of things.

Religion covers more things than Jews, Christianity, and a tiny smidgeon of Buddhism. There are different rules, different customs, many which you might not consider religious.

Faith is between you and the Divine.

The problem with making morality a part of religion is that some priests forget that they are measured by the lives around them. They think that their calling places them beyond "man's law."

As someone who has seen a lot of "pagan garb," standing out is not necessarily a good thing. It can be more of a "look at me" than standing apart.



Part I - Okay, let's start with the elephant that everyone tiptoes around.

Which religion?

I've been told repeatedly that the Decalogue is a good basis for law and morality. But Number One on that list (or numbers one and two depending on the translation) puts Yahweh first. Fine and dandy if that is the religion you have chosen. But what if it isn't? If the Decalogue is central to your faith but not your neighbor's, is it moral to insist that they abide by it?

Faith imposed is no faith at all. The only faiths and beliefs worthy of freedom are those freely chosen.

And that brings us to another point. Morality can't be imposed and still remain morality.

There have been times that neither Christianity nor Judaism have been particularly moral, especially towards other faiths. From this we can deduce that it is not really a specific religion that is the cornerstone of morality.

This follows because no matter how divinely inspired, religions are not created by the Divine. Religions are created by people claiming to speak for the Divine. Questioning a religion is not the same as questioning the Divine and someone's place in it.

No matter how much some priests insist otherwise.



Part II - Here's where I offend some of you. I'm sorry about that.

“An experienced faith differs from a revealed faith. It’s the Journey compared to the Story.

The Story is told while the Journey is lived.

I am not saying that one is superior. But one is active and the other passive. The Story is not the Journey and the Journey is not the Story.

A revealed faith always depends on what someone else says. The marvelous thing is that a Story can become a Journey if you just go a little beyond the nice polished gate and the carefully maintained path.

In an experienced faith, you will have to go out and do. That’s why so many pagan books never go deeper than cookbooks or the 101 level. Experience requires taking that first and seventh step into the unknown.

At some point in a Journey, it's going to be you and the Divine. No masks and no untruths allowed.

With a revealed faith, the answers could be in the very next book you read. A Story could become a Journey, but it takes hard work and stepping beyond the safe space.

How do you explain a Journey without moving into a Story? I am not sure you can.”

the Journey versus the Story from NeoWayland's lexicon


Way too many people are content to live the Story and not the Journey. That's okay, as long as they don't impose that on someone else.

It's why when someone tells me there is a Biblical basis for law, I point out that there are huge portions of Biblical law that they routinely ignore.

The point is that just as you don't have the power to define another's faith, you don't have the power to define another's morality.

Your beliefs don't shape the actions of others, especially without their consent.



Part III - At the same time, there are religious rites which you find uncomfortable. Some neopagans (neopagans are pagans but not all pagans are neopagans) practice some rituals nude or skyclad. There are some neopagan rites which have definite sexual connotations, acts, or ingredients. For some faiths such as vodun, blood sacrifice is an element. And that isn't even getting into things like curses.

If you wonder why I bring up curses in the context of religion, I suggest reading "War Prayer" by Mark Twain.

If you didn't choose it, it's not your faith or your morality. And that brings up a core aspect of morality, consent.

Just because I don't drink alcohol doesn't mean I should forbid others from drinking. At the same time, if I like sardines with my peanut butter, no one should have the power to tell me no.

So long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

At that brings us to to keystone of Western Civilization and the thing that sets us apart. Christians call it the Golden Rule, but the Ethic of Reciprocity isn't uniquely Christian. Basically, don't do it if you don't want it done to you. Do what you want so long as you don't inflict harm on another or damage another's property.



Part IV - So without a specific religious writing and without invoking a specific aspect of Deity, we have a moral basis.

Most importantly it has to be chosen. And if someone chooses not to follow it, then those who do are under no obligation to respect the ones who don't.

It's not "God's will," it's human law. No one benefits without following the law.

At the same time, it leaves a lot unresolved. Vice law doesn't fit this model. Nor do blue laws. I'd argue that those laws can't be realistically enforced, but I freely admit my libertarian bias.

There is nothing that prevents people from following religious law. But there is nothing that demands others follow those same religious laws.

People should be free to speak and act as they choose, so long as they accept the consequences. "Free love" means greater risks both medically and emotionally. The world doesn't owe you diddly, although people may choose to help you out. You don't get to be shielded from the words and thoughts of others.

Before you object that this gives religion second shift, answer me this.

If you choose one religion among all others and honor it's precepts, doesn't that make your choice worth more?
NeoNotes are the selected comments that I made on other boards, in email, or in response to articles where I could not respond directly.

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NeoNote — Politicos want problems they can stage-manage

Or I could just point out that power corrupts, just as freedom without responsibility does, and that it's in our best interest to make sure that government and the self-appointed elites have as little power over us as possible. No matter how much we agree with the politico of the day, government power will be used against us.
— NeoWayland
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❝Perfect is the enemy of good.❞

Perfect is the enemy of good.
— attributed to Voltaire

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Third best, second best, best

Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes.
— Robert Watson-Watt

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Perfect solution

We don't have a perfect solution. But we don't need one. We just have to make today better than yesterday.
— NeoWayland
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Curveball

My theory is it’s possible to become very successful in a given field by applying the prevailing orthodoxy and doing exactly as everyone expects without the slightest deviation. Like this, you can become very competent in your chosen subject – until someone chucks a curveball at you and it becomes clear you’ve had no practice in dealing with dissenting opinions.
— Tim Newman, Into-the-box thinking

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NeoNote — Nature and the World are not cruel.

So does that mean that the Decalogue has no value?

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Some monotheists

Some monotheists think that their religion belongs on top and take offense when you disagree.
 — NeoWayland
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Us versus them

Anyway, my point was that seeing the world solely through an us vs them lens only increases the conflict and division in the world, and dehumanizes the people we think are Them. It's the root cause of why these Christian folks in the article think that the Druids are Satanists out to do terrible evil. Their specific religious justifications are only the surface level. At it's root it is the poison of dualistic thinking, the idea that the world and it's people can be divided into good and evil. And the poison of dualism can infect anyone, or any religion.
     — Shawn Herles, comments from Wayist Druid public Samhain ritual draws threats

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Wannabe

And there are those of us who ask why is it OK to bind Republicans but it wasn't OK to bind Democrats.
     — NeoWayland
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NeoNote - Responding to another Bookworm rant

For something with no moral relativism, there's an awful lot or relative morality going on.

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“Damnatio Memoriae, or How to Erase Someone from History”

“How do you remove the memory of a particularly bad emperor from the history books? Or what if your brother is just so annoying that you can't stand the sight of him anymore, and don't want to share power? You perform a damnatio memoriae, erase all inscriptions, destroy all public images, and pretend as if he never existed.”

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It's only shame if I accept the premise.

It's only shame if I accept the premise.

As I see it, the vice or virtue isn't in the label. It's in how you touch the lives of others. The honor is in giving truth when needed, helping when you can, and leaving the World a little better than how you found it.
     — NeoWayland, comments from Column: What of the Christians?
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NeoNote — “Not all …”

I will not stop saying "not all …" when I think it applies.

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Practical philosophy

You know, in this day and age the term philosopher is disparaged. There are a bunch of academics debating the works of people long dead, trying to stretch writings and sayings to fit their own worldview. They argue over punctuation and the implication of what was not said in which edition. Most of the people called philosophers today are little better than research librarians. They don't think about the practical application, you see.
     — NeoWayland
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NeoNote — Government should not be trusted

When government is "responsible" for something, regular people stop paying attention.

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Platinum Rule

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst and meanwhile, do everything you can to make things better.
     — Jim O'Neil
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Personal

Faith is a personal choice. It has to be, or it has no meaning.
     — NeoWayland
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Heard of brave knights

Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.
     — C.S. Lewis
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“As if withholding belief was a moral crime…”

I have a problem with this assumption "at the moment the general reaction seems to be to disbelieve abuse survivors." I do not find it to be accurate. Mostly because of what group is being examined to provide the baseline for the general reaction, which I've rarely seen explained.

Every time I see this idea come up, it is used as a weapon against those who desire to have an examined and rational discussion without having to say "I believe." as if withholding belief was a moral crime. That idea that there is a culture of disbelief has been weaponized and used to silence those who ask uncomfortable and disquieting questions.
     — Isabella LeCour, comment on Accusations of abuse surface against ADF founder Isaac Bonewits
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NeoNotes - Real religion

Christians are much nicer when they aren't the only game around.

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NeoNotes —Somebody finally said the C word

And that means I can say not all Christians.

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NeoNotes — Roy Moore and the Decalogue monument - updated

You don't demand that others submit to your religion. If I can object when the Islamists do it, if I can object when the climate change crowd does it, I can damn well object when a theocratic Republican passes it off as religious freedom and tells tales of his "oppression" because of his faith.

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☆ This last week in free speech

Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.
     — Noam Chomsky
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Signs

We pagans have become the worst that we saw in the People of the Book.

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Kafkatrap

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Outstanding

In some ancient polytheistic societies, the worst punishment that could be meted out was to erase a person’s existence by no longer speaking or writing their name and erasing any reference to them. It was thought this also negatively affected them in the afterlife. As a matter of personal policy, follow this concept and this is why I have not named the shooter in this article. However, The Honored Dead do deserve to be known…
     — Cara Schulz, Facing Violence in Chattanooga: Two Heathens Share their Experience
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NeoNotes — Impress Me

You want to impress me, come up with something more than "the Bible told me so.” Don't make threats about judgement and eternal flame. Don't tell me about the changes it's made in your life. Don’t tell me how it’s “saved you.” Don’t tell me how you have the hotline to the “Almighty." 

And don’t tell me “it’s God’s judgement” when you’re the one spouting the words.

Tell me about the changes your faith makes in the world around you. Tell me what you do that makes the world better than when you got here.  Tell me how your faith manifests through you. 

Tell me about how you pass it on.

If that "Living Word" exists, it has to be in the hearts and souls of those people who have really embraced it. It's not in a dusty book. The verses don't matter except to show you the way. Tell me what lives behind those printed words. Tell me how you turned your sacrifice into a blessing.

Tell me about love. Tell me about the love you showed today.

Your actions show that. 

Your next choice starts now.
     — from the private journal of NeoWayland
NeoNotes are the selected comments that I made on other boards, in email, or in response to articles where I could not respond directly.
Comments

No dissent, or The content of his character

Rhyd Wildermuth has shown me his character.

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Faith worthy of freedom

The only worthy faiths and beliefs are those freely chosen

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