Precepts of Moderate Religiosity

Praying too little means you’re probably only praying when you need something.

Praying too much is disrespectful. You should pray more than you need to but less than you “have to.”

Make it special for Godsake!

Religion and edifying spirituality is the salt of the earth, not the dirt; it should not be everywhere all the time.

Turn the other cheek so the second punch misses.

It’s better to shop for churches than to go to just one.

All of the world’s Holy Books have many edifying qualities, and many, many stupid parts as well. See, ya gotta keep shopping.

It’s possible Jesus and others have been apotheosized into someone super-supernatural. But it’s a certainty that none of the Advanced Aliens believe in him. They might have their own. Point is, if any earthly entity has become godlike, its only in these parts. Not Andromeda. Those Crab Nebulans aren’t preaching our gospels, and why should they? ‘You gonna send a whole nebula to Hell?

The concept of hell need not be abandoned, just radically downsized. Hell is surgery not needless suffering. It makes things better or else God wouldn’t have made it. But its probably surgery without anaesthesia, so watch out.

The parts where Jesus sounds like a hippie are the best parts. But that still doesn’t make being a hippie the right way to go.

“This church is the only true one” is virus code.

Be fruitful and multiply has become virus code. It used to be good and therefore holy. But that was then.

The fruit by which ye shall know them is when they forbid you to look at the rest of the garden and they talk shit about it. That’s when you know your fruit has gone bad. And all fruit go bad.

That’s why you gotta keep shopping.

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Scholars Gone Wild! More Barely Burlesqued Quotations from a Reputedly Great History of Western Culture

From Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (2000) with little or no distortion:

•  Kepler, the discoverer of the elliptical nature of planetary orbits, “was a practicing astrologist.” (p. 196)

He invented the elliptical writing used in modern horoscopes.

•  Newton was “a dedicated alchemist.” (p. 196)

He sure struck gold when he combined figs with shortbread.

•  Paracelsus was “hot with anger against authority.” (p. 197)

You should have seen his brother Full-On Celsus–as a little boy the Church confirmed him just so they could immediately excommunicate him, he was that bad.

•  The Catholic Church defended Galileo as long as they could. It was the rest of the public that was against him. (p. 204)

•  Pascal was too Catholic to be a mystic. (p. 215)

Jesus was too mystic to be a Catholic.

•  Science is bourgeois.  It’s just so new money. (pp. 206-207)

•  The Middle Ages were jolly, not gloomy. Feudalism was a breeze. (p. 225-226)

•  No one thought the world was going to end in A.D. 999. It’s a myth. (p. 227)

•  Dante’s beloved Beatrice was nine years old. (p. 233)

Reading his poems is now like watching Woody Allen’s Manhattan.

•  Romantic poetry and courtly love indirectly led to women’s rights. The Crusades helped too. (pp. 232-234)

My love is like an autonomous independent being 

who dependeth not on my regard for her self-worth,

nor yet the approval of any man she may be seeing

to imbue her life with meaning, or give birth

•  Medieval medicine makes a lot of sense. (p. 223)

•  In the Middle Ages, bands of graduate and undergraduate students roamed the countryside practicing anarchy. The more sedentary just preyed upon the nearby townspeople. (p. 229)

•  In the Middle Ages, there was no Middle Ages. (pp. 224-225)

If only that were also true for the Postmodern Era.

•  In the 16th and 17th Centuries, Germany and Italy caused “harm” to other European powers “by their tempting weakness.” (p. 241)

Blaming victims again? (see May 24th post below)

•  Dueling is an improvement over clan warfare, and absolute monarchs are better than dueling aristocrats (pp. 241-243)

Now here Barzun might be on to something.

Alan Brech 2012