“Reza Aslan Cannot Be Trusted”

“Reza Aslan Cannot Be Trusted” by David Pakman:

“Reza Aslan’s Lies and Media Bias (David Pakman Interview)” on The Rubin Report:

Sam Harris vs. Reza Aslan on BookTV (C-Span2; Jan. 25, 2007):

“Alan Watts – Do YOU do it, or does IT do you?”

A 3+ hour audio recording of Alan Watts titled “Do You Do It, Or Does It Do You?”:

Next part on “The Art of Meditation”:

Listened to clips from these but am glad to have found the complete talks.

“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.]

“The Politics of American Fundamentalism”

Watched this video tonight:

A few years ago I read Chris Hedges’ book American Fascists and appreciated it for what value it did bring to this discussion. I disagree with Chris Hedges in places as well, but he’s on to it with understanding that people are breaking down without support networks and thereby are turning to churches since who else, besides family, are likely to accept you like that? Nodding along with Tooltime. A big problem though is these folks are by-and-large being used to serve these churches’ power ambitions.

We got a megachurch in a nearby suburb that honestly kinda freaks me out. I went in there once to sit through a service after it was mentioned by a friend and I’d listened to a few of the sermons posted on the church’s site. A bit weird. Had a huge canopy and a bunch of big screens and a waterfall scene at the pulpit and fancy acoustics. Didn’t find the people there to be too friendly though. But apparently lots of folks are interested in joining that church. Fully packed.

Plenty of people are in desperate need of a sense of belonging, and besides churches, what else really offers that? People need to belong to some sort of tribe and will settle when quality options aren’t available — this appears to be the present-day situation.

Have plenty of thoughts on this matter, but they’ll need to wait to another day. Nearing bedtime now. Super brief: we live in a super exploitative society. No fun waking up to realizing you’re treated like just a number today.

For good measure, here’s another video by Tooltime9901 titled “Arguing With Honey VS Vinegar”:

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

Another interesting lecture/discussion by Dr. Sadler:

The only book so far I’ve worked through by Dostoevsky is Crime and Punishment, but now I’m intrigued to eventually check out his other works.

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.

On homosexuality, religion, and the mental health field — excerpts from the book “The Manufacture of Madness”

More from Dr. Thomas Szasz’s book The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1970). Picking back up in chapter 10, page 160:

The change from a religious and moral to a social and medical conceptualization and control of personal conduct affects the entire discipline of psychiatry and allied fields. Perhaps nowhere is this transformation more evident than in the modern perspective on so-called sexual deviation, and especially on homosexuality. We shall therefore compare the concept of homosexuality as heresy, prevalent in the days of the witch-hunts, with the concept of homosexuality as mental illness, prevalent today.

 Homosexual behavior—like heterosexual and autoerotic behavior—occurs among higher apes and among human beings living in a wide variety of cultural conditions. Judging by artistic, historical, and literary records, it also occurred in past ages and societies. Today it is part of the dogma of American psychiatrically enlightened opinion that homosexuality is an illness—a form of mental illness. This is a relatively recent view. In the past, men held quite different views on homosexuality, from accepting it as a perfectly natural activity to prohibiting it as the most heinous of crimes. […]

 The Bible prohibits almost every form of sexual activity other than heterosexual, genital intercourse. Homosexuality is prohibited first in Genesis, in the story of Lot. One evening, two angels come to Sodom, disguised as men. Lot meets them at the gates and invites them into his house. First, the angels refuse Lot’s hospitality, offering instead to spend the night in the street; but at Lot’s urgings, the Old Testament tells us, “they entered his house; and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot. ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.’ “

 The men of Sodom wanted to use the travelers as sexual objects. Among the ancient Israelites, however, he who gave shelter to strangers was obligated to protect them from harm. Because of this, Lot offered his daughters as substitute objects: “Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, ‘I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.’ “

 As this suggests, homosexuality was considered a serious offense. This story also makes clear the abysmal devaluation of women as human beings in the ethics of ancient Judaism. Lot values the dignity of his male guests more highly than that of his female children. The Christian ethic did not raise the worth of female life much above the Jewish; nor did the clinical ethic raise it much above the clerical. This is why most of those identified as witches by male inquisitors were women; and why most of those diagnosed as hysterics by male psychiatrists were also women.

 […]

 It is important to note that only male homosexuality is forbidden: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman . . .” God addresses males only. He does not command woman not to lie with a female as with a man. Here by omission and implication, and elsewhere by more explicit phrasing, woman is treated as a kind of human animal, not as a full human being. The most up-to-date legal statutes of Western nations dealing with homosexuality continue to maintain this posture toward women: Though homosexual intercourse between consenting adults continues to be prohibited in many countries, nowhere does this apply to women. The inference about the less-than-human status of women is inevitable. No wonder than in his morning prayer, the Orthodox Jew says, “Blessed be God . . . that He did not make me a woman,” while the woman says, “Blessed be the Lord, who created me according to His will.”

 Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality had of course a profound influence on the medieval equation of this practice with heresy; on our contemporary criminal laws and social attitudes, with regard to homosexuality as a hybrid of crime and disease; and on the language we still use to describe many so-called sexually deviant acts. Sodomy is an example.

 Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (Third Edition) defines sodomy as “The homosexual proclivities of the men of the city as narrated in Gen. 19: 1-11; carnal copulation with a member of the same sex or with an animal or unnatural carnal copulation with a member of the opposite sex; specif.: the penetration of the male organ into the mouth or anus of another.” This definition is pragmatically correct. In both psychiatric and literary works, the term “sodomy” is used to describe sexual activity involving contact between penis and mouth or anus, regardless of whether the “passive” partner is male or female. Fellatio is thus a type of sodomy. Because human beings frequently engage in these and other nongenital sexual acts, Kinsey correctly emphasized that there are few Americans who, in their everyday sexual lives, do not violate both the religious prohibitions of their faith and the criminal laws of their country.

 In short, the Church opposed homosexuality not only, or even primarily, because it was “abnormal” or “unnatural,” but rather because it satisfied carnal lust and yielded bodily pleasure. This condemnation of homosexuality, says Rattray Taylor, “was merely an aspect of the general condemnation of sexual pleasure and indeed of sexual activity not directly necessary to ensure the continuation of the race. Even within marriage, sexual activity was severely restricted, and virginity was declared a more blessed state than matrimony.” It is no accident, then, that carnal lust, leading to nonprocreative sexual practices and pleasure of all kinds, was a characteristic passion of witches. They were supposed to satisfy their cravings by copulating with the Devil, a male figure of super-human masculinity, equipped with a “forked penis,” enabling him to penetrate the woman at once vaginally and anally.

Moving on to page 168:

Psychiatric preoccupation with the disease concept of homosexuality—as with the disease concept of all so-called mental illnesses, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or suicide—conceals the fact that homosexuals are a group of medically stigmatized and socially persecuted individuals. The noise generated by their persecution and their anguished cries of protest are drowned out by the rhetoric of therapy—just as the rhetoric of salvation drowned out the noise generated by the persecution of heretics and their anguished cries of protest. It is heartless hypocrisy to pretend that physicians, psychiatrists, or “normal” laymen for that matter, really care about the welfare of the mentally ill in general, or the homosexual in particular. If they did, they would stop torturing him while claiming to help him. But this is just what reformers—whether theological or medical—refuse to do.

One man pondering reality

A fantastic video I wandered across tonight:

Which I came across via this playlist.