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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: January ::
Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0123  Thursday, 20 January 2000.

[1]     From:   Tom Reedy <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Jan 2000 08:45:38 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Jan 2000 09:14:27 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Jan 2000 09:26:09 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

[4]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Jan 2000 13:20:37 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

[5]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Jan 2000 15:12:30 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

[6]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Jan 2000 15:12:30 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

[7]     From:   Abdulla Al-Dabbagh <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Jan 2000 22:11:51 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

[8]     From:   Briggs John <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jan 2000 08:59:21 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Reedy <
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Date:           Wednesday, 19 Jan 2000 08:45:38 -0600
Subject: 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

Judith Matthews Craig writes:

>From the point of view of someone who has not read these treatises, why
>would Marx's systems "so devoted to understanding . . . misery and
>oppression" fail so miserably in the real world?  Russia is a mess, and
>I always worry somehow that Shakespeare never heard of the man.

Perhaps because it's never been tried in the real world?  Marx was a
great admirer of both capitalism and democracy, even though he believed
capitalism would eventually be superseded by socialism.  I doubt he
would recognize or claim the mess that was the USSR.

This thread seems to be getting off the Shakespearean track.  A debate
in which one of the main participants professes ignorance of even the
most basic tenets of the subject being discussed is no debate at all.

Tom Reedy

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Wednesday, 19 Jan 2000 09:14:27 -0800
Subject: Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility
Comment:        SHK 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

I didn't think of this until Clifford Stetner quoted the following in
his excellently reasoned and elegantly expressed reply.  One list member
claims her Christian convictions, revealed in her approach to literature
and which ideas she bothers to learn, have

>certainly has not earned me tenure or academic friends

I can't speak for the experience of another.  I haven't lived her life.
I do know academics who are Christians, tenured and respected.  They do
not teach at Biola or Liberty College.  They teach at Stanford and Cal
State Hayward.  They have tenure and academic friends while holding
their beliefs.  This makes me wonder about the claim quoted above.
Blaming the lack on mere prejudice sounds like a rationalization,
especially in light of the prideful ignorance of some ideas recently
expressed in this list, the failure to grasp subtle distinctions between
ideas, and a tendency to express herself as ME against YOU.

I don't know that these traits are involved, but I can't help wondering
about the difference between this list member and the professors
mentioned above.  They are versed in alternate ideas and do understand
subtle distinctions.  They defend their positions from their knowledge,
not their ignorance.  They earn the right to have their Christian
perspective considered.

Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 19 Jan 2000 09:26:09 -0800
Subject: 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0114 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

Clifford Stetner responds:

>But it is materiality all the way down (pace Abdullah's "psychology").

Thank you for your agreement.  You'll notice how close your logic is to
the people who say that the universe is elephants all the way down.  The
story, as I recall it, has to do with Bertrand Russell (or someone)
giving a public lecture, and being told during the question and answer
session that he was simply wrong:  the world is a disk resting on the
back of an elephant.  He asked the inevitable question-"What's the
elephant resting on?"-to which his interlocutor replied, "You're very
clever, young man, but it's elephants all the way down."

Someone on this list mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the mark of a
pseudo-science is that it's undisprovable.  The person who rigorously
follows the metaphysics above cannot be disproven, at least not by
logic.  Similarly, one can always explain anything one likes in material
terms, and Thales could reduce anything to water.  I think this is
related to the fact that materialism is 'totalizing', as in everything
is X (materialism, sexuality, material sexuality, water, fire, etc.)

>And who says that the "ordinary" sense of religion is anti-materialist?
>Perhaps religions trade in all manner of specters, but their dictates
>can be quite materialistic.  Churches are material, scriptural texts are
>material, wine and crackers are material, tithes and indulgences are
>material, the Vatican Bank is material, inquisitions are material,
>crusades are material, condoms are material.  Many gods worshiped by
>many pagan religions were what you might call material. The only thing
>non-material about patriarchal monotheisms is God, and I have yet to be
>convinced that I need a materialistic religion to carry on a
>relationship with a metaphysical being.

If you want to understand 'religion' exhaustively in material terms,
that's fine, but it pretty much eliminates any sort of relationship with
a metaphysical being as part of religion.  I would say that a very large
part of the "ordinary sense" of the religion is that it deals with God.

No one would deny that religious organizations, buildings, etc., exist
in the world or that they are involved in material existence.  The only
question is whether that's an exhaustive description of their function.
Marx seems to think so-they offer succour to the hopeless, opiates to
the downtrodden, etc.-but most religious people do not.

>It is the priests and theologians who remove religion from the picture,
>who throw up their hands and claim faith as some sort of diplomatic
>immunity against reason, while men like Marx and Nietzsche do explain
>it.

On the contrary, theologians have been doing rigorous reasoning for most
of history.  Only mystics reject reason, and they've tended to be viewed
with suspicion.  Luther rejects philosophy, but his reasons for doing so
are themselves rigorous.

>>With such a totalizing habit of thought behind it, it's no wonder
>>Marxism tends towards totalitarianism.
>
>As opposed to the pluralistic habits of thought of the religious?

Many religions are highly pluralistic, though the question isn't one of
empirical evidence, but of logic:  If everything is X, then nothing is
Y.  We can't possibly be pluralist if we say that everything is X, since
we exclude (ahead of time as it were) the possibility of anything being
Y.  Christianity, at least, doesn't usually argue that the material is
to be understood in strictly spiritual terms, but materialists argue
that the spiritual is to be understood in strictly material terms.

Don't get me wrong-I think that Marxism can be a highly fruitful way to
approach many questions, especially those dealing with social justice
and economics.  But it has an unfortunate tendency to become an
explanation for everything, which is to say, nothing.

Cheers,
Se

 

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