“Glimpses into Existence” series by Dr. Sadler, lectures 1-4

Finally took time today to get caught up on the following lecture series.

The intro, “Glimpses into Existence, Lecture 1: ‘What is Existentialism?'”:

“Glimpses into Existence, Lecture 2: ‘Lessons of Socrates and Abraham – Søren Kierkegaard'”:

This was actually the last video of the series (available up to this point) that I watched, having started with Fyodor Dostoevsky and the Nietzsche (posted below). A couple years back or so I read Kierkegaard’s Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing and took what I could from it. Actually brought it along on a trip to Mississippi for reading out on the porch. But it helps to have Dr. Sadler break his philosophy down in a general, overview sort of way.

“Glimpses into Existence, Lecture 3: Underground Men, Inquisitors, and Saints – Fyodor Dostoevsky”:

This one I found very helpful as well, after having only listened to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment on audiobook in the past. Maybe someday I’ll listen to The Brothers Karamazov, but I’m most interested in his The Demons and The Idiot.

“Glimpses into Existence Lecture 4 Overcoming Nihilism After The Death of God – Friedrich Nietzsche”:

Still haven’t picked back up my copy of The Portable Nietzsche lately, though eventually I will. It rides around in the car for days I forget to bring along another book. For as much as I understand of his writings, I can’t help but take issue with Nietzsche’s definitive atheist stance. It rules out too many possibilities, IMO, though I’ve found his writings on nihilism and individualism pretty interesting.

Looking forward to the rest of this series very much so. It appears existential philosophy is the branch of philosophy that interests me most and seems especially relevant in modern times.

“Woman, Be Silent!” (plus my thoughts)

Tonight finishing listening to The Thinking Atheists’s podcast titled “Woman, Be Silent!”:

Rarely do I listen to podcasts of any sort, but I found this one interesting. Was already familiar with pretty much everything mentioned therein, but it was still worthwhile to listen to. I like the podcaster’s style and his decency toward guests. Very refreshing, especially for an atheist (just keeping it real). Provided me with food for thought.

Like the story of Lilith, which I’ve known about for several years but never really deeply studied up on. Should do that. (Btw, hence “Lilith Fairs” attended by feminists and lesbians.) The way I interpret that story is it represents the pre-domesticated woman.

See, this rise of civilization has been all about domestication. First humans aimed to domesticate animals, then came humans, with the rise in male-dominated (religious) hierarchies taking the role of domesticator of womenfolk (that being my current thoughts and understanding on that anyway). Just the way history shook out. And the “wild woman” is something that’s been demonized pretty heavily ever since. Sad fact of life apparently, says one modern wildish woman out in the crowd. The wild woman couldn’t be properly broken, which is a big reason why she’s been written out of history and left forgotten in religious circles — no one wants to speak her name except when condemning her. She’s considered a pain in the ass, unwilling to submit. Fell out of favor for a long time, yet, that spirit seems to be brewing back around again, though commonly in a distorted way that proves to be what some consider excessively hedonistic and promiscuous. Guess it comes down to one’s perspective on the matter. This is a time of sexual liberation but also of learning consequences resulting thereof. Can and does present tough lessons to reckon with.

I’ve been thinking about all of this wild woman vs. domesticated woman stuff for quite a long time as I’ve been forced to wrestle with my own lifestyle’s impact on myself and others. And I’m still left with a lot of mixed feelings.

On one hand, the push toward domestication disgusts me — it feels too unnatural, too restrictive at times, too often rendering what was once on some level regarded as sacred into popularized rubbish. Our needs aren’t apparently getting met, hence why we’re so prone to continue deceiving one another. We feel the need to explore despite it not being considered socially proper during certain life phases. And I’d argue we’re being driven into one another’s arms sexually all the more because so many of our other bonds have broken down. What at first seems like rampant hedonism on the surface might actually be a glimpse at the reality created through the utilization of remaining avenues of exploration and connection in a time when so much else is denied or rendered foreign to us. It’s a thought.

And on the other hand, there is a real need for self-control in each individual. We can’t just give into any and all impulses and whims — doing so will undermine the very values that we claim to esteem. Like loyalty and romantic faithfulness in a union. Most people can’t help but care about this (though I personally remain on the fence and in the outfield on the subject — double standards admittedly continue twisting me up). We value certain bonds over others, and each relationship sets its own parameters. But there still appears to be this need to deny desires at times so as to focus that energy on projects deserving to be catered to or bonds willfully being committed to. Because that’s the way life goes — we each have social needs and obligations. That requires a give and a take, which means not doing everything we might individually want whenever it strikes our fancy.

I know I personally struggle with some of this, as one highly individualistic and defiant one out in the bunch. Blame it on my immaturity if you must, but I’m still not sold on where to go from here. While I know that I don’t desire to resume my previous lifestyle since it wound up leading into some dark places, I’m not so interested in pretending to be someone I’m not in an effort to appease someone else’s ideal. Can’t do it anymore. Tried and crashed and burned. Epic and sad failure on my part.

I just don’t know what to do now other than take time to think and sort and ponder.

Getting back to the podcast, I really appreciate how well the podcaster treated the female Methodist pastor. Very respectful despite their differences in perspectives. My family is Methodist, and it is more lenient than Baptist faiths I encountered down South. Just to throw it out there, my ex-husband had been raised and home-schooled in a Primitive Baptist family where his father became a preacher. His father didn’t tolerate women wearing pants either, and he believed it was within his right to continue belting his adult daughters, to mistreat his sons, and to punish his wife physically. Very full of himself. So yeah, I understand much variation exists out there, especially comparing Southern experiences to liberal Christians up here in the Midwest. Big differences.

Also, I too appreciated Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book Infidel and would recommend it to others as food for thought. Very disturbing and illuminating read.

[Lightly edited on 10/7/2014 for greater clarity.]

One inquiry into what is religion

Tonight I came across Suicideforcelluloid’s video “What is religion?”:

Have only maybe maybe watched a video or two by him in the past, so not too familiar with that YTer. Mostly I viewed that in preparation for listening to Prof. Anton’s reply:

I’ll post here what I left in a comment on that video:

Wow. You said it ALL in this video! Thank you for responding on this topic — this inquiry is so important for all of us right now.

“Dogmatically committed to a hyper-hyper-rationality” — very good way to state it plain.

“Hyperationality…it’s imagining what will never be. To that extent it’s an irrationality…There’s more rationality in the person who accept the limits of rationality.”  Great explanation there.

That’s the problem in a nutshell with so-called “scientism” and is why atheism is coming to look like dogma dressed up in scientific cloaks. People collect and then conform and before you know it turn dogmatic in their share beliefs. Appears it goes hand in hand with rising populations and widening the net in how we’re affiliated.

“What is community?” really is the deeper question. We as individuals can’t survive without some form of community, yet what we’ve created is now causing us so many problems and is breaking up tight-knit communities everywhere. They’re rapidly going extinct—first tribes, then towns, then neighborhoods, now families are feeling the pressure—leaving us all out here to float around looking for what feels missing in our lives and trying to figure out how to connect and bond with very little knowledge of wisdom that might help. Instead we’re flooded with insecurity-poking magazine articles and fiction.

I really liked what you said about kids and parenting, because it is true that some people are made better people by becoming parents, and their children benefit from this. Love is what it’s all about, it’s what we need more of. Just sucks that there’s so much pressure on everybody to breed, as if that in itself is the key unlocking a meaningful life. Winds up becoming about adults using kids to satisfy their own longings, which rarely works out well for all involved. Would be ideal if we saw less of that and more parenting that comes from a place of wanting to pass on love and guidance and being able to do so.

You spoke about people being “sentenced to life” and on putting more weight on the death that will inevitably follow — that ties into my own views on abortion and why it can be seen as merciful (though many people react badly to hearing that). Life is sacred, so bringing people in willy-nilly without much forethought, not caring if they wind up raised by the foster care system because they weren’t adopted out, leaving them to the mercy of society without any promises of love and devotion from the people who created them — that’s just so incredibly harsh. If we accept that and wish to prize life, it seems to follow that it’s also our responsibility not to bring new life into being if we can’t provide love. To do so is cruel and creates broken people who then may turn around and take out their pain on others.  And being reminded of that by the news nonstop makes us feel all the more cautious and untrusting and disconnected.

What do you think the future may hold in store for communities?

An Honest Dialogue Between Science and Religion

Honest Dialogue Between Science and Religion:

More Honest Dialogue Between Science and Religion (Part II):

Pinker, the Blank Slate and the Divine, Science and Religion (Part III):

The Shallow Theology of the Intelligent Design Movement, Science and Religion (Part IV):

Cantor, Set Theory and a Rational Mysticism (Part V):

Just listening to what people have to say out here in the world…

Getting acquainted with the teachings of James Powell

The Evolution of Religions:

Categories of Religions:

He has hundreds more videos for whoever is curious. I’ve made it through 6 or 7 so far.

“Neil deGrasse Tyson: Atheist or Agnostic?” (plus additional ponderings)

As stated by Neil deGrasse Tyson himself: “Neil deGrasse Tyson, widely claimed by atheists, is actually an agnostic.”

I totally appreciate his explanation there and couldn’t agree more that it’s about remaining curious, so why limit ourselves with categories? Just explore life as you feel driven to. In the immortal words of Joseph Campbell: “Follow your bliss.”

There’s so much to explore out there and within our selves. So many layers of perspective, with the macro and micro shifting accordingly, infinitely looping or cycling in whatever way that plays out (a tesseract springs to mind):

Tesseract2

How it looks to any one of us is just as we see through our own unique individual human lenses. Movements and religions provide people with an external narrative (meaning one not formed within the individual but rather one which we can adopt, as defined by others who typically came before us). External narratives are interesting to ponder on and learn from, but I can’t see myself adopting some ready-made philosophy or religion. It’s just not my bag. And even when people do, they each still experience it through their own individual lenses, and how can it be any other way?

Been doing a good bit of thinking this past week on “collectivist” mindsets and considering the role of conformity when it comes to group-adopted narratives of whatever stripe. It seems we’re becoming conformity-driven in a new and conscious way these days, partly to satisfy modern economic demands and duopolistic political ambitions, but I also I think because people are afraid to stand on their own two feet, preferring the comfort of blending in with the rest of a herd. And I think that’s a lot of why fascism comes about, not just because rich people can and do benefit off of it, but because we humans are scared of our own individuality and the responsibilities it entails (especially in relation with acknowledging our own fallibility). People feel alienated enough by new technologies and scientific understandings that have been actively uprooting traditional thought.

Or perhaps people are pushing toward greater conformity because they crave security extended society-wide to protect and shelter their relatively comfortable domesticated lives, and they don’t realize this shortcut (this trend toward fascistic conformity), in trying to fashion a better reality through seeking to politically and legally impose their ‘idealistic’ will on the rest, comes with major pitfalls that have potentially devastating social and psychological consequences. People like to assume most of us are resilient enough to bounce back from whatever experimental conditions humans strive to put in motion because we’re still here after all this time, but I do not share others’ blind optimism there. Maybe, maybe not. Depends on whether we care to focus purely on physical existence or to take into consideration the importance of quality of life tailored to our species (as opposed to us trying to tailor ourselves to suit The Machine humans have brought into existence and allowed to dominate). What is the value of an existence many wind up loathing and wishing to escape?

It’s a very weird time to be alive, but then again, when isn’t? *shrugs*

Lots to ponder…

One man pondering reality

A fantastic video I wandered across tonight:

Which I came across via this playlist.