Author Topic: When Revolution started?  (Read 34638 times)

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Alixz

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #75 on: March 25, 2011, 10:57:14 AM »
Agnostic - to me - means disbeliever.

Atheist - to me - means unbeliever.

Offline Rodney_G.

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #76 on: March 28, 2011, 01:55:26 PM »

In the 1920's and1930's , even in the non-Communist or anti-communist West, Communist true believers fought over who was the most authentic Marxist. (Trotsky was, and caught an ice ax in the head; Stalin wasn't but ruled a quarter century and died more or less in bed).

Actually, Rodney, this isn't at all true. Trotsky was a Stalinist before Stalin because Stalin basically STOLE all of Trotsky's ideas about the industrialization and collectivization of the masses, as well as the state's leading role in determining what was and was not permissible in all the cultural fields. Trotsky was not a true Marxist, any more than those French revolutionaries I mentioned before were "true" Marxists.

Roughly post-Stalin, Marx and Marxism were of interest almost sol;ely in academia, especially in the West. And there Marxism was still numero uno in the universities. The man in the street was sweating Soviet Communism, but not actually Marxism (Who actually reads  Das Kapital and the Communist  Manifesto?)

This is also not really true, Rodney. Think about it. When was the Cuban revolution and when were people like Fidel Castro and Che Guevarra most influential in Latin America? For that matter, you're neglecting to look at other Third World nations, most notably China under Mao, but also countries in Africa like Ethiopia. I assure you, Marxism-Leninism, whether interpreted by Stalin (borrowing heavily from Trotsky) or not, remained extremely influential until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. That's when the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist dream really exploded (or imploded, to speak more precisely).

In recent times Marxism is just not thought about, let alone understood (though maybe it should be). Thankfully, even the prevailing political correctness no longer completely protects Marxism. I relatively recently heard Marx called a crackpot, and I think that was quite on the money.
If people's largescale historical memory of the past century and  a half could be erased (just a thought experiment, if you'll  bear with me) and there had been no Karl Marx or Marxism as a famous person and ideology, his theories introduced under a different name would still not sell.

Again, I think you are somewhat confusing Marxism with its later interpretations by people like Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Mao. The original writings are far more subtle and open to different interpretations, as all great writings are. Hence their enduring appeal. Believe me, Marxism continues to be influential not only in (remarkably successful) socialist countries like those in Scandinavia, but also in American, Canadian, and Western European academia, where Marxist theory has shed considerable light on the field of social history, which only really emerged in the 1960s. Although this "revisionist" school has recently given way to a "post-revisionist" school, it's still clear that even post-revisionists are heavily influenced by social history. The emphasis in Soviet and Russian studies now is not nearly so much on social history but on cultural and intellectual history. But even there, social historians of the 1960s-1980s made invaluable contributions in opening up previously unperceived paths of inquiry and interpretation.

Elisabeth, my statement about who was the most authentic Marxist, Trotsky, or Stalin? should better have said "more authentic" (that ol ' comparative/ superlative problem). Neither was a true Marxist, of course, but I think Trotsky was more so. He was closer to Lenin (half of the Marxism/ Leninism formulation) both personally and temperamentally. Stalin's appeal for Lenin was less his theoretical strength than his greater ability than Trotsky to consolidate the Soviet state appararus.

 As for the influence of the Cuban revolution and the Castros and Che Guevara in Latin America, I think the appeal there was less Marxism than this:  Castro was the most popular and chararismatic revolutionary in the world at that time, having fairly recently thrown out the despised Battista, an American puppet (among leftist rebels it doesn't get much better than that)Plus, there were those weapons ,funding ,and experienced Cuban trainers. If you're a poor group of Latin American rebels, these things are more critical to your success than pure Marxist theory.

The same applies to Castroite/Cuban influence in Africa, only more so. There, in Angola and Mozambique, Castro was also throwing in almost  fifteen thousand regular Cuban Army soldiers.

Moreover , on both continents, if Marxism was thought to be the appeal,, then these budding revolutionary movements were doomed to failure. Marxist theory foresaw proletarian revolutions succeeding against societies in an advanced state of industrial capitalism. Mozambique, Angola, indeed most of Africa, even Peru, Bolivia, and Nicaragua need not apply.

Again, in all these places, whether  Second or Third World, revolutionary movements developed for the usual reasons, most notably  a desire to rid themselves of despotic or corrupt oppressors, and to escape the hopelessness and poverty of their daily lives. Communist revolutions  however wrongly, were seen as  the model . I don't think either the leaders of those movements, or even less so their generally uneducated followers in their masses, knew  very much of or cared about Karl Marx.
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« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 02:04:26 PM by Rodney_G. »
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #77 on: March 28, 2011, 02:06:59 PM »
Before I write this, I want to be sure that everyone knows that I am not in anyway judging or making fun of those with deep religious convictions.

Since I am agnostic and do not believe in those deities who preach suffering as a way to salvation, I find it abhorrent that so many think it is the norm to be unhappy most of the time and happy only at specific points in our lives.  When they are unhappy it is "God's will".  When they are happy then "God moves in mysterious ways".  (If they truly believe that it is God's will then they should not be suing everything that moves into their path of existence.)

One of the reasons that I am agnostic is that I cannot believe that there is one omnipotent being who wants me to suffer in order to be redeemed enough to be brought into His/Her presence after death.

I am not saying that I expect to be blissful everyday, but at least not so frustrated that I feel I am "herding cats" as I wade through the various stupidities that I am assaulted with daily.  (You will have to forgive me.  I just got off the phone after trying to make an appointment at the UConn Health Center.  It was like pushing macaroni up hill.  I was told that I couldn't do so many things, that I am not sure I will ever get the appointment.  I am so unworthy.)

I was told when I was very young (and I am sure that there is someone of note who originally said this) that if there were no God, Man would invent one to keep himself from going mad.  I have also heard it said that we do not need to bow to anyone or anything to justify our existence.

I agree that Darwin cracked open the myths of creationism and left the population of the late 19th and early 20th centuries rudderless.  Religion was a balm to those who found no answers and suddenly that balm was not soothing anymore.  Perhaps they did then try to replace that old religion with "Bolshevism, communism, fascism, Nazism, to name the most obvious secular religions of the modern age".

But more wars have been fought in the name of religion than for any other reason.  That now includes the terrorism that is now being used by Muslim extremists.

Even, to get back to topic, the Russian Revolution was a form of religious war as the Bolsheviks banned organized religion as part of their new better way of life.  

Who said that "Religion is the opiate of the masses"?  It is often attributed to Karl Marx.  

However, it was also used in various forms by Guy DeBord:  The spectacle is a permanent opium war which aims to make people identify goods with commodities and satisfaction with survival that increases according to its own laws.

And also by the Marquis de Sade:  
This opium you feed your people, so that, drugged, they do not feel their hurts, inflicted by you. And that is why where you reign no establishments are to be found giving great men to the homeland; the rewards due knowledge are unknown here, and as there is neither honor nor profit in being wise, nobody seeks after wisdom

And also by Charles Kingsley:    We have used the Bible as if it were a mere special constable's hand book, an opium dose for keeping beasts of burden patient while they were being overloaded, a mere book to keep the poor in order

You seem determined to misunderstand me, Alix. Where have I ever expressed religious convictions? Why do you think I favor religion over the secular? I am about the most agnostic person you can imagine, I am so agnostic I can't even stand going to church, except for the weddings of my best friends (in which case it's a duty of friendship). The only reasons I am NOT an atheist are because 1) I hate the proselytizing and self-righteousness of atheists, who put born again Christians to shame in these particular areas; and 2) I would like to believe there's an afterlife for those I love who have passed away. I can't say there is an afterlife, with a god or without one, because my rational mind says there isn't. My heart, however, tells me there might very well be one... Well, I mean, what do we as human beings actually know of any existences beyond our own limited selves? We apparently have a horrible time of it just trying to imagine what it is like to be a mentally ill homeless person in this land of milk and honey.

You know, when I bring up arguments like those of my Russian friends or for that matter the great poet Mandelshtam (who was Jewish but not exactly an observant Jew) about the nature of human happiness, I am merely (MERELY! ha, atrocious word) making an intellectual argument. I don't quite understand why you always take my posts so infernally literally. It's as if you are determined to find me either a born again Christian or a Jew for Jesus or some kind of communist. Actually in political terms I'm completely center-- as befits a member of the American middle class -- albeit an independent, any and every candidate has to earn my vote. Which means, I can't abide the Sarah Palins of the world any more than I can abide the anarchists or the communists or that matter the proselytizing neo-Marxists in academia, or for that matter, sometimes even the Joe Bidens (no word play intended) in the new administration.... basically because to my mind they're usually wrong. Almost invariably completely dead wrong. And a lot of them (like Palin and Biden) are total idiots to boot.

However, that does not mean that I have lost faith in the American system or the American way of life. Au contraire, mon frère, or should I say, ma soeur. I think this is the best country (aside from Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Scandinavia, etc., etc., basically most of the European Union) to ever grace the planet earth.  And... ooh, have you heard, naughty, many of these nations have partially or even mostly socialist governments?!? Horrors!

« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 02:17:58 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #78 on: March 28, 2011, 02:32:42 PM »
Elisabeth, my statement about who was the most authentic Marxist, Trotsky, or Stalin? should better have said "more authentic" (that ol ' comparative/ superlative problem). Neither was a true Marxist, of course, but I think Trotsky was more so. He was closer to Lenin (half of the Marxism/ Leninism formulation) both personally and temperamentally. Stalin's appeal for Lenin was less his theoretical strength than his greater ability than Trotsky to consolidate the Soviet state appararus.

 As for the influence of the Cuban revolution and the Castros and Che Guevara in Latin America, I think the appeal there was less Marxism than this:  Castro was the most popular and chararismatic revolutionary in the world at that time, having fairly recently thrown out the despised Battista, an American puppet (among leftist rebels it doesn't get much better than that)Plus, there were those weapons ,funding ,and experienced Cuban trainers. If you're a poor group of Latin American rebels, these things are more critical to your success than pure Marxist theory.

The same applies to Castroite/Cuban influence in Africa, only more so. There, in Angola and Mozambique, Castro was also throwing in almost  fifteen thousand regular Cuban Army soldiers.

Moreover , on both continents, if Marxism was thought to be the appeal,, then these budding revolutionary movements were doomed to failure. Marxist theory foresaw proletarian revolutions succeeding against societies in an advanced state of industrial capitalism. Mozambique, Angola, indeed most of Africa, even Peru, Bolivia, and Nicaragua need not apply.

Again, in all these places, whether  Second or Third World, revolutionary movements developed for the usual reasons, most notably  a desire to rid themselves of despotic or corrupt oppressors, and to escape the hopelessness and poverty of their daily lives. Communist revolutions  however wrongly, were seen as  the model . I don't think either the leaders of those movements, or even less so their generally uneducated followers in their masses, knew  very much of or cared about Karl Marx.

Hi, Rodney. I knew if I got into an argument with you, you'd rise to the challenge. I do so love a good argument!

Actually I think you might be mostly correct in what you say. I simply don't know enough about Castro and Che Guevarra to argue that they read Marx (although it seems more than likely to me, indeed, 99.9 % likely, that Castro at least read Marx, in the original Spanish translation!), all I am arguing is that they were heavily influenced by Marxism-Leninism, that is, Marxism as interpreted by Lenin and his legitimate--or illegitimate (depending on your political weathervane)--successor, Stalin. I think it's pretty obvious that most communist regimes after Stalin, in the developing world (whether it be China, North Vietnam, Cuba, Ethiopia, Cambodia, etc.) followed the basic Soviet line, which was pretty much the Stalinist interpretation of the Marxist-Leninist line. Which meant collectivization of agriculture and the subordination of the entire culture/civilization to the demands of the state. After all, after the death of Stalin, when Mao was contemplating the collectivization of agriculture in China, various Soviet experts who were on the scene strenuously argued against it -- precisely because they had seen the devastating consequences of such a radical step in their own country. Mao went ahead anyway, despite all the warnings, and caused possibly the worst famine in recorded human history. He was, apparently, a true believer, if not in Marx (although I am positive that, like Castro, he had read Marx), then in Marxism-Leninism(-Stalinism) and the primacy of the revolutionary vanguard, i.e., the Communist Party, above all other social groups and classes in the nation.

You have a good point about charismatic leadership. I think charismatic leadership is not necessarily indicative of extremism, but it is, shall we say, typical of extremism. I think extremist groups -- whether they are on the far right or the far left -- almost always have to have a charismatic leader to put them over to the masses, to make them a popular political movement as opposed to merely a marginal one.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 02:38:05 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Petr

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #79 on: March 28, 2011, 04:13:15 PM »
Anyone educated, much less intellectual, found it very hard if not impossible to believe in the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man, the pearly gates, etc. etc., after reading The Origin of the Species. Hence Bolshevism, communism, fascism, Nazism, to name the most obvious secular religions of the modern age. And now of course there is Al-Qaeda, which wants to bring back the medieval Muslim caliphates (it thinks! in actuality someone like Bin Laden would be completely horrified by the level of religious and ethnic tolerance that was regarded as the norm in such places at this time in history).
And yet you still have some intellectuals who do come to believe in that good old time religion. I'm thinking of C.S. Lewis as a prime example (also was it Auden or Waugh (or both) who became Catholic, I forget). Without seeking to excuse the actions of the more extreme religious Fundamentalists, including Al-Qaeda, aren't their beliefs merely an expression of a natural desire for an antidote to the philosophically unsatisfying life we seem to lead. The gratification of the senses which seems to be the hallmark of our Century doesn't appear to satify mankind's desire for something more, or as that old song goes "Is that all there is?"  Something like gorging on Chinese food, it leaves you empty when you are done because by definition it's transitory and all those "isms" can't get the job done because they never really answer the eternal questions. All those young people who join Hare Krishna groups or become Moonies seem to be searching for something which contemporary society can't provide them but in a strange way their search is a hopeful sign. As Big Daddy said in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (in a bow to the late lamented Elizabeth Taylor) all we see is MENDACITY around us which, at heart, characterizes all those sad secular philosophical attempts which promise to replace the divine and merely give us more misery.     
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #80 on: March 28, 2011, 04:53:43 PM »
Anyone educated, much less intellectual, found it very hard if not impossible to believe in the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man, the pearly gates, etc. etc., after reading The Origin of the Species. Hence Bolshevism, communism, fascism, Nazism, to name the most obvious secular religions of the modern age. And now of course there is Al-Qaeda, which wants to bring back the medieval Muslim caliphates (it thinks! in actuality someone like Bin Laden would be completely horrified by the level of religious and ethnic tolerance that was regarded as the norm in such places at this time in history).
And yet you still have some intellectuals who do come to believe in that good old time religion. I'm thinking of C.S. Lewis as a prime example (also was it Auden or Waugh (or both) who became Catholic, I forget). Without seeking to excuse the actions of the more extreme religious Fundamentalists, including Al-Qaeda, aren't their beliefs merely an expression of a natural desire for an antidote to the philosophically unsatisfying life we seem to lead. The gratification of the senses which seems to be the hallmark of our Century doesn't appear to satify mankind's desire for something more, or as that old song goes "Is that all there is?"  Something like gorging on Chinese food, it leaves you empty when you are done because by definition it's transitory and all those "isms" can't get the job done because they never really answer the eternal questions. All those young people who join Hare Krishna groups or become Moonies seem to be searching for something which contemporary society can't provide them but in a strange way their search is a hopeful sign. As Big Daddy said in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (in a bow to the late lamented Elizabeth Taylor) all we see is MENDACITY around us which, at heart, characterizes all those sad secular philosophical attempts which promise to replace the divine and merely give us more misery.

Well, agnostic that I am, I tend to agree with you, Petr. My favorite poet, Osip Mandelshtam, seems initially at least to have had a rather difficult relationship with religion. As I said, he was not by any stretch of the imagination an observant Jew, and yet there are Jewish and Christian themes and motifs throughout his work. He seems to have regarded himself as merely one heir among many of the immeasurable treasure trove of Judaeo-Christian culture, which he sought to preserve for future generations in Russia, despite the Bolshevik Revolution (which at one time he believed in, but quickly grew disenchanted by).

Waugh did become a Catholic (no comment), but Auden I think was simply Christian in the way that Mandelshtam who was Jewish by birth and spirit was also a Christian at heart (both Jewish and Christian, apparently he never had a conflict with that particular aspect of religion, and please, please don't interpret this as meaning he was a Jew for Jesus, quite the contrary, he saw the two religions as equally important, mutually complementary and enhancing).

Here is a short poem by Auden about tyrants like Hitler and Stalin:

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

(1939)
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam

Offline TimM

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #81 on: March 28, 2011, 05:10:05 PM »
Quote
I would like to believe there's an afterlife for those I love who have passed away. I can't say there is an afterlife, with a god or without one, because my rational mind says there isn't. My heart, however, tells me there might very well be one... Well, I mean, what do we as human beings actually know of any existences beyond our own limited selves?

Well, the concept of an Afterlife and ghosts predate all the major religions we know today.  Who knows, maybe there is something and, as the religions took shape, they incorpoarted it into themselves.  Each adding their own ideas, of course.

We humans can't be so arrogant to think we've unlocked all the secrets of the universe.
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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #82 on: March 29, 2011, 02:00:15 AM »
Don't forget that the Church once was the sole voice, in a desert of brutality, misery and oppression, of the message that now spouts forth from every pop culture loudspeaker: "All you need is love." Lady Gaga is just the most recent, perverted and muddled version of the New Testament. But the more pornographic popular culture becomes, mistaking sex for love, the more it is perhaps a reflection of "scientific atheism" - humanity reduced to biology? (Of course capitalism also plays a huge part here, as sex is one of the few expressions of love that can be sold, at least as an instant product.)

In a culture so saturated as ours with the message that love is the solution of everything, it's just natural to believe in a religion whose core thesis is that so greatly did God love the world that he gave His only son, that every one who trusts in him may not perish but may have the life of ages. (Our gratification-centred culture does of course overlook the element of sacrifice in this, an element that was of enormously more significance to people in more tested times.)

The Soviet Union was also a thoroughly atheist, unchristian society in the sense that it proclaimed: Faith, hope and love alone is not necessarily going to get you to paradise / utopia / the American Dream. Only scientific Marxist-Leninism will. There was no hope and "someday, over the rainbow...." "crap" in the Soviet Union. There was "progress", measured in 5 year plans!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2011, 02:16:53 AM by Фёдор Петрович »

Alixz

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #83 on: March 29, 2011, 08:56:46 AM »
Elizabeth - I am sorry.  I am not replying to your statements.  I hope that we can keep up this lively discussion (at which you and Petr and Feodor are much more learned that I) without again confusing the issue of who is talking to whom.

Most of the time it is Feodor who I am talking to.  

Also, when I defined Agnostic - it was to TimM.

I will have to make things more clear.

I did, though, think you had said that suffering was more common than joy and that joy was reduced to only a few times in our lives.  That was why I said that I don't believe in those deities who preach suffering as way to salvation.

My way to agnosticism was paved by the church system that believes in a full offering basket before it believes in succoring tormented souls.

I have yet to find a church that wants its members to join before giving out the "offering" envelopes.  They even gave them to a 3 year old, as my son was when I thought that he should begin his religious experiences in "Sunday School" and then make up his own mind while he grew.  Of course, 22 years ago, I was still thinking that I could be wrong (and of course I still could be) and I should let him come to terms with religion with input from those who were believers and who might still have something to say to me that I might understand.

Feodor is right that belief in the "after life" predates modern religion.  The Egyptians, of course, believed in an after life.

But the start of the Russian Revolution or any other popular upheaval in the 20th or now the 21st century is the main topic of this thread.

It looks like Syria joined the "pack" today.  The President of Syria has asked his ministers to stop down as did Mubarak in Egypt only last month.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2011, 04:10:21 PM by Alixz »

Offline Petr

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #84 on: March 29, 2011, 03:36:50 PM »
I don't want to proselytize but since this Forum deals mostly with things Russian and since this thread seems to have wandered into religious thickets I thought I would direct you to this site (turn up your speakers) for your entertainment and, who knows, edification . 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yrdz-UJbVXQ&feature=related

You may have heard the apocryphal story of how Russia was converted to Christianity but once you listen to what's on this site you will understand. It is said that Prince Vladimir of Kiev when he decided to convert his people to Christianity sent out delegations to Rome and to Constantinople and when they returned those that went to Constantinople told the Prince that at the services they attended in St. Sophia they heard the voices of angels.  So Russia became Orthodox. The hymn celebrates the Veneration of the Cross which is one of the services held during lent in preparation for Easter (and as it so happens it took place this past weekend). I've always believed that to truly understand the Russian soul you must delve into Russian liturgical music. Of course, the piece celebrates one of the glories of Russian choral and operatic singing the Basso Profondo (Boris Godunov springs to mind). Actually Youtube has a good selection of pieces by Chaliapin and various contemporary Bassos singing various hymns and litanies. I find it spiritual having grown up in the Church and singing in Church choirs all my life but my wife complains its all too dirge like and depressing. But I think it's still better than listening to the International at party meetings. So there you are different strokes for different folks.           

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Offline TimM

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #85 on: March 29, 2011, 04:13:03 PM »
Quote
Feodor is right that belief in the "after life" predates modern religion

Uh, wasn't I the one that made that comment?  Or did he beat me to it and I just didn't see it.
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Alixz

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #86 on: March 29, 2011, 04:18:42 PM »
I am not sure now and since I am in the posting section, I can't look back to find out.  But I was only making the point that this discussion is quit interesting and learned and that responses were getting tangled.

One of things that is truly uplifting in many a religious service is the choir.

It may be one of the things that I miss the most since my period of disbelief began.

As a child, I sang in the Youth Choir in our church and I did dream of someday singing in the adult choir.  But the beautiful music (written by those who believe) did not off set the constant begging of the church for money from the church congregation.

I remember when I walked away from organized religion (not yet agnostic - just ticked off) my reason was that God could be worshiped in any of the beautiful places He had created not just in the man made churches that were always crying "poor". And those who cried poor had no idea of what truly poor was as I have since discovered.

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #87 on: March 29, 2011, 10:19:09 PM »
Quote
Feodor is right that belief in the "after life" predates modern religion

Uh, wasn't I the one that made that comment?  Or did he beat me to it and I just didn't see it.

No, it was you. It's just Alixz thinking the world of me. :-)
« Last Edit: March 29, 2011, 10:37:19 PM by Фёдор Петрович »

Alixz

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #88 on: March 29, 2011, 11:18:53 PM »
As we all know that I do!   ;-)

Alixz

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #89 on: March 29, 2011, 11:21:28 PM »
Don't forget that the Church once was the sole voice, in a desert of brutality, misery and oppression, of the message that now spouts forth from every pop culture loudspeaker: "All you need is love."

And the Inquisition.