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Posts Tagged ‘religion

“In the sphere of thought, absurdity and perversity remain the masters of this world, and their dominion is suspended only for brief periods”*…

From a (somewhat sarcastic) 1896 essay (“The Art of Controversy”) by that gloomiest of philosophers, Arthur Schopenhauer, advice that (sadly) feels as appropriate today as it surely was then…

1. Carry your opponent’s proposition beyond its natural limits; exaggerate it. The more general your opponent’s statement becomes, the more objections you can find against it. The more restricted and narrow his or her propositions remain, the easier they are to defend by him or her.

2. Use different meanings of your opponent’s words to refute his or her argument.

3. Ignore your opponent’s proposition, which was intended to refer to a particular thing. Rather, understand it in some quite different sense, and then refute it. Attack something different than that which was asserted.

The first three of “Schopenhauer’s 38 Stratagems, or 38 Ways to Win an Argument.” Via @TheBrowser.

[Image above: source]

* Arthur Schopenhauer, “The Art of Controversy

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As we celebrate sophistry, we might recall that it was on this date (or near; scholars disagree) in 325 that Roman Emperor Constantine I convened a gathering in which all of Scopenhauer’s tricks were surely employed: the First Council of Nicaea. An ecumenical council, it was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all Christendom. Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the divine nature of God the Son and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Nicene Creed, mandating uniform observance of the date of Easter, and the promulgation of early canon law.

Icon depicting the Emperor Constantine and the bishops of the First Council of Nicaea holding the Nicene Creed

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“All ancient books which have once been called sacred by man will have their lasting place in the history of mankind”*…

In 1999, Santa Cruz, California software engineer John Bruno Hare founded what he hoped would become “a quiet place in cyberspace”…

Welcome to the largest freely available archive of online books about religion, mythology, folklore, and the esoteric on the Internet… Texts are presented in English translation and, where possible, in the original language…

This site has no particular agenda other than promoting religious tolerance and scholarship. Views expressed at this site are solely those of specific authors, and are not endorsed by sacred-texts. Sacred-texts is not sponsored by any religious group or organzation.

This site strives to produce the best possible transcriptions of public domain texts on the subject of religion, mythology, folklore and the esoteric. The texts are posted for free access on the Internet. This site is like a public library: it is accessible to anyone, contains unfiltered information, and does not advocate any particular point of view. However, nobody is going to shush you if you make too much noise while using this site…

Sacred texts is one of the top 20,000 sites on the web based on site traffic, consistently one of the top 10,000 sites in Australia, the US and India, and is one of the top 5 most visited general religion sites (source: Alexa.com)…

Spirituality in all of its shapes: The Internet Scared Text Archive.

* “All ancient books which have once been called sacred by man will have their lasting place in the history of mankind; and those who possess the courage, the perseverance, and the self-denial of the true miner, and of the true scholar, will find even in the darkest and dustiest shafts what they are seeking for–real nuggets of thought, and precious jewels of faith and hope.” – Max Müller, Introduction to the Upanishads Vol. II

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As we delve into the devotional, we might recall that it was on this date in 1848 that a document that isn’t in the Sacred Text Archive, but that is arguably apposite, was published– a political pamphlet by the German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto.  Commissioned by the Communist League and written in German, it appeared as the Revolutions of 1848 began to erupt.  Subsequently, of course, Marx elaborated on his argument (with Engel’s help, after Marx’s death) in Das Kapital.

150px-Communist-manifesto
Cover of the first edition

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“May all beings have happy minds”*…

But then it’s important to be careful as to how we look for that happiness…

– Games where players either remove pieces from a pile or add pieces to it, with the loser being the one who causes the heap to shake (similar to the modern game pick-up sticks)

– Games of throwing dice

– Ball games

– Guessing a friend’s thoughts

Just a few of the entries in “List of games that Buddha would not play,” from the T. W. Rhys Davids‘ translation of the Brahmajāla Sutta (though the list is duplicated in a number of other early Buddhist texts, including the Vinaya Pitaka).

(TotH to Scott Alexander; image above: source)

* the Buddha

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As we endeavor for enlightenment, we might recall that it was on this date in 2001 that Wikipedia was born. A free online encyclopedia that is collaboratively edited by volunteers, it has grown to be the world’s largest reference website, attracting 1.7 billion unique-device visitors monthly as of November 2021. As of January 9, 2022, it has more than fifty-eight million articles in more than 300 languages, including 6,436,030 articles in English (serving 42,848,899 active users of English Wikipedia), with 118,074 active contributors in the past month.

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“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition”*…

On the long-term effects of suppression and persecution…

From Imperial Rome to the Crusades, to modern North Korea or the treatment of Rohingya in Myanmar, religious persecution has been a tool of state control for millennia.

While its immediate violence and human consequences are obvious, less obvious is whether it leaves scars centuries after it ends.

In a new study we have attempted to examine the present day consequences of one of the longest-running and most meticulously documented persecutions of them all – the trials of the Spanish Inquisition between 1478 to 1834…

Details at “Extraordinarily, the effects of the Spanish Inquisition linger to this day.”

Monty Python

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As we tolerate, we might recall that it was on this date in 1492 that Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile took control of the Emirate of Grenada (1238-1492), the last Moorish stronghold in Spain. King Boabdil surrendered to Spanish forces in the Alhambra palace, surrendering the key to the city– an event Christopher Columbus witnessed as he received the support of the monarchy to sail to the Indies.

Pursuant to the Inquisition, Ferdinand and Isabella had targeted Muslims and Sephardic Jews (also called the Megorashim), forcing them either to convert to Christianity or to leave Spain within four months without any possessions. Failure to leave resulted in torture and/or death.

Francisco Pradilla Ortiz, Boabdil confronted by Ferdinand and Isabella after the Fall of Granada 1492 (Detail) [source]

“There is a time for everything”*…

Five elements from a painted hanging depicting the Crossing of the Red Sea, Byzantine, circa second century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

… and the time for the Word came later than many of us seem to understand…

The oldest scriptures that eventually became the Bible were created within an environment where no appreciable religious function was assigned to texts. The stories, proverbs, songs, and prayers dating from the ninth and eighth centuries bc that researchers have managed to reconstruct from the Bible are examples of literature rather than holy scripture. They evolved into scripture through a lengthy process.

What scholars call a “cult religion” was practiced in Israel and Judah in the period before the Babylonian Exile (586–538 bc). Religious observance centered on local shrines, and contact with the deity was maintained through sacrifices, votive offerings, and prayer. In the late pre-exile period, that is, the final decades of the seventh century bc, cultic activities in Judah came to be focused on a single temple in Jerusalem. The Bible portrays this process as part of the religious reforms undertaken by Josiah (2 Kings 22–23).

Of course, religious texts also had their place within this cult, but they did not play a key role in either its foundation or its normalization. Instead, like the religious paraphernalia in the temple, they simply formed one aspect of cultic activities…

Judaism only became a “religion of the book”—that is, one whose core entailed the study of sacred texts—following the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70. With the demise of the sacrificial cult of the temple, the faith shifted entirely to the study and celebration of the scriptures.

And it was not until that stage that the concept of the Bible as a complete, authoritative collection of texts arose. Its texts had almost certainly been in religious use before this, but alongside many other documents. A strict dividing line between biblical and nonbiblical literature did not exist at that time, since there was as yet no such thing as the Bible. And so the belief system of Israel and Judah changed gradually over the course of the first millennium bc from a cult religion to a religion of the book…

Scripture before the Bible: “Becoming a Religion of the Book,” an excerpt from The Making of the Bible: From the First Fragments to Sacred Scripture by Konrad Schmid and Jens Schröter in Lapham’s Quarterly (@laphamsquart)

* The Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1

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As we tackle the text, we might recall that it was on his date in 1538 that Pope Paul III excommunicated King Henry VIII of England. The reasons were many: First, Henry had illegally married his new wife Anne Boleyn and left his former Queen Katherine of Aragon. Then he had proclaimed himself head of the Church of England, denying the papal primacy. He disbanded English monasteries and appropriated much of their assets.

The original bull of excommunication had been issued on 30th August 1535, but the excommunication had been suspended in the hope that Henry would mend his ways. When Henry sacked St. Thomas Becket’s shrine, the Pope decided to act.

The break with Rome was, at first, largely political (and personal). But as the years passed, the theology and liturgy of the Church of England became markedly Protestant, especially during the reign of Henry’s son Edward VI, largely along lines laid down by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Under Mary, the process was reversed and the Church of England was again placed under papal jurisdiction. But Elizabeth reintroduced the Protestant religion (albeit in a more moderate manner).

The structure and theology of the church was a matter of fierce dispute for generations. The most violent of these disputes, the English Civil Wars, ended when the last Roman Catholic monarch, James II, was deposed and Parliament employed William III and Mary II jointly to rule in conjunction with the English Bill of Rights in 1688 (in the “Glorious Revolution“), from which emerged a church polity with an established church (The Church of England) and a number of non-conformist churches whose members suffered various “civil disabilities”– until these were removed many years later. A substantial but dwindling minority of people from the late 16th to early 19th centuries remained Roman Catholic in England. Their church organization remained illegal until the Relief Act of 1829.

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