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05/27/2012

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Jimbino

It looks like all the atheists and lapsed Catholics got crosses too.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

The crosses here might be said to symbolize something on the order of what sociologists have described as "civil religion." I'm pretty confident of the fact that if someone wanted to replace one of the crosses with some other symbol they believed appropriate by way of memorialization, local members of the Veterans for Peace would not in any way object.

Which reminds me: I've seen pictures of a small circle of Buddhists who burned incense and chanted Buddhist mantras or prayers within the field of crosses.

Jimbino

How about, instead of crosses, purple phalli? How about crosses in urine bottles? How about upside-down flags?

Somehow, I don't think the religious and superstitious PC forces would tolerate such free speech.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Attempts to disturb or shock others in a gratuitous manner or needlessly test the limits of free speech would seem to interfere with the broader and more important goal of prompting individuals of diverse backgrounds and interests to think about our country’s penchant for undeclared and unjustifiable wars. This is not an endeavor to draw the lines between the “religious” and non-religious or “anti-religious” or test the doctrines of toleration and free speech, even if such things might, on occasion, arise as an incidental or spillover effect. If one is hoping to communicate with others who are members of a set large enough to include many individuals with whom one might otherwise be at odds ideologically or politically or culturally, what have you, then it seems prudent if not wise to act in the first instance in a way that invites them to take a step in one’s direction, that inclines them to keep a somewhat open mind, rather than so as to deliberately sabotage one’s efforts, to foreclose even the possibility of further communication, to assure failure. A little or incremental change (e.g., with regard to one’s ignorance, capacity for sympathy or compassion, or motivation to act so as to change an unethical or unjust status quo) is often better than none at all.

Jimbino

Lots of big words for small ideas here, Patrick. Anyone who uses "gratuitous" or "needlessly" is suspect from the beginning.

Imagine, if you can, your anger at awaking to see all the Christian crosses turned into a field of purple phalli overnight. That might help you to imagine the rage we atheists and freethinkers feel at awaking every day to see all those crosses, crucifixes in hospitals, Ten Commandment Monuments on our Capitol lawns, moments of prayer, Star-spangled banners and pledges of allegiance.

Here's how I hope to communicate with you religious and superstitious nuts who keep insisting on imposing your stupidities on the rest of us: demands, lawsuits and high explosives, if necessary. Live (or die) with it!

Patrick S. O'Donnell

While I'm reluctant to descend into the ad hominem space you appear to relish, I do think you might want to reflect on the dark sources and true meaning of your crudely expressed fears and rage. I'm not too fond of liquor stores, porno shops, or reality television, but it's hardly "imposed" on me, as I'm free to direct my attention to what truly matters. Your obsession with "religious and superstitious nuts" has apparently knocked you off balance, in which case what the ancient Greeks called sophrosyne and what today falls partly under the rubric of good sense will, alas, remain elusive.

Jimbino

It seems that you must not have experienced Amerika yet. Prayers, oaths, pledges, blue laws, and religious icons and monuments ARE imposed on freethinkers. If freedom from religion didn't "truly matter," it might have been relegated to the 10th Amendment instead of occupying a privileged position in the 1st Amendment.

What is it that "truly matters" to you?--Quartering of soldiers?

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Indeed, since the age of reason I've never been forced to pray, take an oath or pledge, or compelled to view a religious icon or monument. I've always felt free to "be religious" or be free of religion, as I was for a time as a young adult; and I suspect that is a feeling with which most folks are intimately familiar. I've known (and continue to know) quite a few atheists, freethinkers, and agnostics, and none of them have evidenced the sort of "rage" you attribute to them. To return to the subject matter of the post: I fail to see how viewing the crosses at Arlington West has harmed the non-religious: if one fears such things it betrays a kind of emotional and intellectual insecurity.

Jimbino

You need to reread my comment "Prayers, oaths, pledges, blue laws, and religious icons and monuments ARE imposed on freethinkers" and revise your comment that you have never been forced to pray, etc. Do you know what a blue law is?

You might want to reread Thomas Paine, bestselling American author, to get an idea of rage. I guess you didn't know Hitchens, Harris and Dawkins.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

One is perfectly free to refuse such things.

I've had my fill of Hitchens and the other "new atheists" who should have learned a thing or two from the atheists of another era, like J.J.C. ('Jack') Smart, or my late teacher and friend, Peter A. Angeles.

Here ends, on my part, the discussion (such as it is).

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