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 Religions - The Benefits

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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 30 Aug 2015, 20:10

It doesn't show? ....then just imagine what you might get if you were to type into Google Images: "Nazi Nuremburg Rally" ...
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 30 Aug 2015, 20:44

It's working now thanks and in response to your musing on sanitary arrangements, I'm inclined to think that in the centre of that crush there might well be a few of the 'hot leg' phenomena so often experienced on the terraces at Hampden..

Carnival as the start of Lent is surely a case of making the best of a pretty rotten time, coinciding as it does with the 'hungry gap' and the last of the stored produce from the previous year. Like all the great religious festivals, it's tied to the astronomical and agricultural cycles.
                 
And here's an agricultural cycle......


                                                                         
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 01 Sep 2015, 11:18

I had not heard of a Frith Stool but apparently there is one example here http://hexham-abbey.org.uk/heritage/frith-stool/
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 10:55

The singing of hymns appears to be a pleasure for many in the UK and perhaps USA - unsure about elsewhere. That hymns are sung before major tournaments - or were - amused me even as a child. I recall first hearing Abide With Me on a FA Cup broadcast after the war and my father giggling about it, wondering which side God would abide with, Rugby crowds also lurch into hymn-song mode but not tennis. Perhaps 'All things Bright and beautiful,' might do. I recall a friend having 'Fight the Good fight,' for a wedding hymn and they managed to keep the spirit of that going for many years.
There is, however, something very comforting about singing a familiar hymn for which you know all the words. At the surprising church funeral of an  communist and popular local elder  - Keep the Red Flag Flying - was the big sing. I delighted in hearing his several neighbours, all members of the local Tory Constitutional Club, belt that one out.
Life is filled with such small, warming, joys.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 11:07

My mother reckoned four verses of 'Onward Christian Soldiers' was perfect timing for a soft-boiled egg, although I always thought she took it a bit andante ... I preferred my eggs a bit runnier, and the hymn more andante moderato.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 11:10

The benefits, abound, don't they?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 11:23

The Church of England is dead.

Long live the Church of England!

We Protestants and the Devil have all the best tunes: this makes me go all tingly.














Give Me Oil in My Lamp, Keep Me Burning or Clap! If the Spririt Moves You are such utter tripe compared with the magnificence of stuff like the Old Hundreth.


What an incorrigible old snob and traditionalist I am, but I don't care, so there.


@Priscilla wrote:



The benefits, abound, don't they?




Even Richard Dawkins admits as much. He likes singing hymns too.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 11:58

Oooo yes the Old 100th ... I remember playing the trumpet descant (3rd verse) and fanfare (last verse) for that at a school concert/thanksgiving service during the Queen's Silver Jubilee. And I'd forgotten the beautiful counterpoint melody, sung by the choir in the fourth verse.

PS : shades of P's musical arrangers thread, but Vaughan Williams did some great arrangements didn't he? His arrangement of a theme by Thomas Tallis is spine-tinkling stuff too.

And to his credit Richard Dawkins, whilst enjoying hymn-singing, has said how he really dislikes all the modern happy clappy guff like, "Give me oil in my lamp ...", too.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 12:10

@Meles meles wrote:


PS : shades of P's musical arrangers thread, but Vaughan Williams did some great arrangements didn't he? His arrangement of a theme by Thomas Tallis is spine-tinkling stuff too.



It's one of my favourites, too,  MM.



MM wrote:
And to his credit Richard Dawkins, whilst enjoying hymn-singing, has said how he dislikes the happy clappy "Give me oil in my lamp ...", guff.


I stand mute with misery when the happy clappy guff starts. I will not sing it, let alone clap along to it. The horror! The horror!
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 12:19

@Temperance wrote:
The Church of England is dead.

Long live the Church of England!

We Protestants and the Devil have all the best tunes: this makes me go all tingly.














Give Me Oil in My Lamp, Keep Me Burning or Clap! If the Spririt Moves You are such utter tripe compared with the magnificence of stuff like the Old Hundreth.


What an incorrigible old snob and traditionalist I am, but I don't care, so there.


@Priscilla wrote:



The benefits, abound, don't they?




Even Richard Dawkins admits as much. He likes singing hymns too.


Well, at least Vaughan Williams's arrangement does introduce some element of Englishness seeing as the lyrics are by a Scot and the tune is French. Oh, hang on, isn't Vaughan Williams of Welsh descent?

I'm with Dawkins, I love belting out a good hymn although those within earshot may disagree and I take a strange pride in not needing to look at the hymn book for the words.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 12:26

We English are all for multiculturalism (well, most of the time - if it's to our benefit, that is), ferval.

It's a cracking hymn, isn't it?



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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 12:41

@ferval wrote:
... and I take a strange pride in not needing to look at the hymn book for the words.

Me too ... and I think I still know all the liturgical responses as well. Although with advancing years and with the gulf between now, and when I was at school and had to regularly to sing hymns getting ever wider ... I am increasingly, on the rare occasions when I'm hymn singing, unexpectedly struck dumb by amnesia. It's probably just desserts for my sin of pride, or simply shock on finding myself in a church.

I think we touched on this in the 'Hymns' thread a while ago, but congregational hymn-singing, whilst very British, is not normal in catholic services in France or Belgium. From my admittedly fairly limited experience, French-language catholic services have always had the hymns sung solely by a choir (often of rather mediocre ability), with the congregation just listening passively, while the priest himself is often faffing about trying to get his censer lit or getting his chalice ready. So not even the chance of a good stirring sing-along to light up the gloom.

But at least they've always had an organ and competent organist ... I think my mother's parish church finally lost her when, having first gone all happy clappy, the organ and the regular organist (a retired concert pianist) were replaced by the vicar with his guitar, and a hippy with a digeredoo!
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 13:47

MM wrote:
 I think my mother's parish church finally lost her when, having first gone all happy clappy, the organ and the regular organist, a retired concert pianist, were replaced by the vicar with his guitar, and a hippy with a digeredoo!


At our little church we are standing firm against such abominations. Our organist is a former Cambridge organ scholar. He has a magnificent voice too.

Unfortunately, third Sunday of the month he has to go elsewhere and we have an earnest and well-meaning born-again guitarist who drives us all mad. He tries to make us sing tripe with gusto and makes futile attempts to persuade us to wave our hands about and to clap when the Holy Spirit grabs us. I have so far managed to elude any such grabbing. We all ignore him, but one lady does sway about a bit, but that's possibly in anticipation of the post-service sherry. We are all far too polite to tell him what we really think, but I fear one day I will.

Alas, how uncharitable I am.

Luther could belt out some great tunes. That was a benefit to the world, I think, even if you don't like his theology.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 14:12

@Temperance wrote:
He tries to make us sing tripe with gusto and makes futile attempts to persuade us to wave our hands about and to clap when the Holy Spirit grabs us. I have so far managed to elude any such grabbing.

Well .... I'm sure it wasn't because the Holy Spirit had eluded grabbing you, frankly I'm sure the Holy Spirit has got lots more important things to do than grope people when they're already in church. But you do make it all sound like a game of deistic Blindman's Bluff!

@Temperance wrote:

... but one lady does sway about a bit, but that's possibly in anticipation of the post-service sherry.

LOL .... I know how she feels, especially after having had to sit, silent, through a hymnless, humourless French Mass. Although watching the skinny, asthmatic young priest desparately huffing, puffing and blowing to get his censer to light before the Kyrie ended, was admittedly quite entertaining.


@Temperance wrote:
Luther could belt out some great tunes. That was a benefit to the world, I think, even if you don't like his theology.

True, so returning to the OP, does one need really to have the theology to benefit from the great tunes, the community singing, the moving hymns and anthems etc?


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 03 Sep 2015, 14:19

Sometimes a mixture of Dublin public transport, a moderate intake of Guinness, having beaten the Irish at home and being Welsh is enough.

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 04 Sep 2015, 11:13

I do not think the Welsh are a religious benefit, are they? My father wasn't.  I once bought a book for 5p called 'How thr Irish Saved Civilisation.' That was about the copying of religious manuscripts (Illustrated.) Beneficial? I think so - if not of the textual content, informative insights from hints in the illustrations is so.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 04 Sep 2015, 11:34

Cahill's book was so very badly titled, wasn't it?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 04 Sep 2015, 22:46

I assume the title sold it. There are times when one forks out for a book in disbelief - 5p, even.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 05 Sep 2015, 08:57

@Priscilla wrote:
That was about the copying of religious manuscripts (Illustrated.) Beneficial? I think so - if not of the textual content, informative insights from hints in the illustrations is so.



Some of the textual stuff produced by various monks has been beneficial - to historians! Got this from the BBC History site:


Surviving accounts of Viking activity were almost exclusively written by churchmen. These include monastic chronicles, such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and similar Frankish and Irish Annals, which outline broadly what happened, at what date. There are also sources of a more directly religious nature, such as the much-quoted letters of Alcuin, and Wulfstan's famous 'Sermon of the Wolf', both of which chose to interpret the Viking raids as God's punishment on the Anglo-Saxons for their sins. Even the chronicles reflect the fact that the Vikings often attacked monasteries for their wealth, which created an obvious bias against them, and the hostile tone of these contemporary accounts has done much to create the popular image of Viking atrocities. However, modern historians have noted that the same sources show Christian rulers behaving equally unpleasantly, but without being condemned on religious grounds.

I don't know many names, but the Venomous Bede springs to mind. He was an historian - bit of a scientist too, I believe?

Bede's reputation as a historian, based mostly on the Historia Ecclesiastica, remains strong; historian Walter Goffart says of Bede that he "holds a privileged and unrivalled place among first historians of Christian Europe". His life and work are celebrated with the annual Jarrow Lecture, held at St. Paul's Church, Jarrow, since 1958.

Later the Croyland Chronicler of course did a fair (or should that be an unfair?) bit of scribbling - where would the Richard III haters be without that infamous cleric to quote? Surely the CC was a great benefit to you all?


PS One day nordmann will come back with an answer along the lines of: "Do you know, Temp and/or Priscilla, I hadn't thought of that. What an interesting point. I think you both are absolutely right!"

Is there an emoticon for: "Good Lord, there's Miss Piggy flying overhead!"?

PPS What about Flavius Josephus - wasn't he originally of the Jewish priesthood? I suppose he gave all that up, though, when he defected to Rome.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 06 Sep 2015, 08:29

Temp wrote:
Some of the textual stuff produced by various monks has been beneficial - to historians!

It has indeed. It is only such a great pity that the sole employer of the intellectually curious with publishing ability in that area at that time was an organisation which so strenuously censored their output and so stringently restricted the scope of their studies as a condition of employment. How much more historical data might have been recorded, how much less ecclesiastical and more factual it might have been, how much more impartial and less inclined to simplistically demonise opponents of the publishers, how much more likely it might have been to survive at all had intellectualism not been so thoroughly hijacked by a powerful and superstitious global outfit for as long as it was.

Miss Piggy's chocks will not need to budge a barleycorn. Nor did Joseph ben Matityahu ever have to don priestly robes in his lifetime - though if he'd wanted to dress up he might have found some in the attic handed down from his great great great great great grandfather Alexander Jannai. Mind you, he'd better not tell anyone whose robes they were, especially any Pharisees with long memories.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 06 Sep 2015, 15:51

@nordmann wrote:
It has indeed.


For one glorious, but sadly fleeting, moment, I thought I could hear the feeble flap of porcine wings. Wrong again! Thud!

@nordmann wrote:
It is only such a great pity that the sole employer of the intellectually curious with publishing ability in that area at that time was an organisation which so strenuously censored their output and so stringently restricted the scope of their studies as a condition of employment. How much more historical data might have been recorded, how much less ecclesiastical and more factual it might have been, how much more impartial and less inclined to simplistically demonise opponents of the publishers, how much more likely it might have been to survive at all had intellectualism not been so thoroughly hijacked by a powerful and superstitious global outfit for as long as it was.


Of course the learning and the enquiry encouraged by the Church was limited and controlled - although not so much by the churchmen within the privacy and safety of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, I think - but at least the Church did offer an alternative career to those intelligent (and ambitious, it must be said) young men who did not particularly want to rampage about all over the place beating people's brains out with big axes and/or swords. A refuge of sorts where such men could read and think and write. And how many poor but bright lads from labouring families benefited from the education provided by their parish priests - young, working-class boys/men who were "spotted" and given a chance to better themselves, many entering the Church via the great universities? Didn't the Church (in England at least - I do not know about elsewhere) act as a kind of early grammar school system, both before and after the Reformation? Was that not a benefit?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 06 Sep 2015, 19:02

And all that copy work was done for cold comfort, plain food, and no wage for the workers. Only slavery extacts the same conditions. A Godless society with a horde of unpaid volunteers at the same time in History recording it seems unlikely - or in any other time. Fascism produced a vast output of many things  with slave labour. Selective record keeping suited dogmatic religion much as it still suits any regime. In a perfect world it would not be thus; Utopia is  such as dreams are made on and  possibly its skies would filled with airbourne bacon sarnies.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 06 Sep 2015, 20:14

Grammar? Anybody?

It would be lovely if any of the above made sense.

But I'm sticking with the Christians apparently getting more incoherent the closer the rest of us get to exposing them for what they are.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 00:13

Do you mean me? Incoherant? I caught it here, then. Exposing is it now - by the rest of us, is what you are at, is it? Most posters have ducked this thread - and the site. I wonder why?
So here I go again. Only unpaid monks living in secure but  basic conditions prepared the manuscripts. No one else around at that time would have taken it on for no pay. And that is supposing there was sufficient talent  available to do so. And secular education was somewhat rare, I suggest.    
The manuscripts have aided historians - despite the distortions. A benefit then,  as I asked for in the OP. The perfect godless world you often allude to didn't exist then - and is unlikely to. And no written history is ever totally accurate, either - even filmed documentaries can be manipulated to suit circumstances. 
A universal vision of humanist harmony  will need universal tolerance and kindness to succeed  - mm. (Beneath flying bacon sarney filled skies, that will be, I think.) Now that's food for thought as the site exposers gang line up to mug the few who see some things differently and who  dare and  are daft enough to say so here.  
I hope my view is easier for you to understand? I'll go and take me tablets.Nurse? Guard? Where are you?   The exposure gang is coming.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 00:29

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 09:48

@nordmann wrote:


But I'm sticking with the Christians apparently getting more incoherent the closer the rest of us get to exposing them for what they are.



Oh, Gawd - I'm sitting here quaking in my slippers (quaking is something Priscilla would never admit to, I know, but alas I am not Priscilla). Exposure! Will I open next month's Crosslet (our parish magazine) and find - sandwiched between Recipe of the Month and Aileen's October Garden Tip - a short but venomous paragraph by an unknown contributor entitled: Temperance - the Truth That Must Be Told?   Embarassed  Shocked  That'll be me removed from the flower rota for good, then.

Christians do need exposing at times, I agree. But who exactly are these "Christians"? What do we mean by that silly word? It is surely a label that covers a multitude of sins: do we mean corrupt members of the Roman Catholic priesthood; loathsome, cynically rich TV evangelists; stubbornly stupid Creationists; the hugely irritating, happy-clappy lot? Or the foolish women you get in English villages who polish old church pews and who hanker after the beauty of the KJV and Cranmer's prayer-book - stuff that's irrelevant to the modern age and which reflects beliefs that are gone forever? Or the black gospel singers who actually get everyone wanting to sing? Or the kindly old-school Oxford don types (also a dying breed) who sip sherry and say: "My dear, you must believe in God, no matter what they tell you in Church"? Or all those millions of ordinary people who don't go to church, but who still feel somehow a yearning need to believe in something greater than themselves?

It's an odd mixture - some are undeniably stupid; some are undeniably corrupt; some are undeniably incoherent. Just human? Yes, I suppose so, and, being such, usually making a complete mess of it all. Tarring them all with the same brush and threatening "exposure" is perhaps a little extreme. "Christian" is a label Christ never gave to anyone, after all. And before bandying that awful word about remember the comment of Tacitus who, when speaking of the - er - Christians persecuted by Nero, said: "Vulgus Christianos appellabat" -  "the vulgar call them Christians".

I'm reading a biography of Francis Bacon at the moment - the painter, not the other one. Something he said has made me think: "Existence is in a way so banal, you may as well try to make a grandeur of it all."

He was talking about art, of course, not religion, but...

PS Nearly 4,000 views this thread now. Who is reading all this? Wish some of you out there would add your halfpennyworth to the discussion. We don't bite, you know - well, nordmann does occasionally, but the rest of us just bark - or rather yap a bit - usually round his ankles. Priscilla does get the odd delicious nip in there now and again. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 10:46

Temp wrote:
Priscilla does get the odd delicious nip in there now and again.

She wasn't the only one last night (hic). What a Face

I'll substitute "reveal" for "expose" in my above post a little belatedly but the rest of the stuff can stand. I just can't go along with Priscilla's ludicrous notion that only monks were writing stuff because nobody else could be arsed, or that all except the tonsured lot were holding out for more money. And I still say it is a terrible shame that written output was monopolised by the church at the time. Grateful we may be that we have anything at all from the period but regretful can we also be that so much bias has to be unravelled, deconstructed, maneuvered around or taken into so much account when assessing its worth as historical data.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 11:20

A terrible shame it might have been but it is what happened. If everything recorded was utterly clear what need of historians? It would all be a plate of clear gloop. Now you get interesting  dishes and have to work out the ingredients and methods of cooking and that's more fun. Oh dear. 
Is that clear enough? I never could handle kindergarten spiel. He'll send in the revealers, I know it. In some areas they have bin snops. Come on, Res Hist - who are the bin snops here?
And, by the by, while all these religious types were copying stuff for want of  scanner printers, so who else was doing it - and well enough to be kept and treasured?
And your 'grateful' is noted as appreciating a benefit. 
Done for the day - have old soaked sock wool in me teeth to remove.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 11:46

Grateful we may be, was the expression I used. As usual when attempting to isolate any suggested benefit of religion the requirement to temper one's gratitude in light of religion's modus operandi with rueful suspicion, strongly founded on evidence, that it all could have been done so much better is never far away.

Outside of Europe the huge cost of transcription and record-keeping during the so-called Dark Ages and early medieval period was often met by the state. Rome had done that but after the fall of the empire one has to look abroad to the likes of China and Persia to find non-religious bodies recording such data, mostly for administrative purposes but also in the interest of recording simple straightforward history. Check out those works from the Chinese "Twenty Four Histories" canon which correspond to the Christian monks' attempts at the same job between the 6th and the tenth centuries CE, for example, to see how it could have been done.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 12:19

@nordmann wrote:
Check out those works from the Chinese "Twenty Four Histories" canon which correspond to the Christian monks' attempts at the same job between the 6th and the tenth centuries CE, for example, to see how it could have been done.


Is that our homework, sir?

I am tempted to mention Dim Sum, but better not - putting dim and sum in one sentence around here is probably not wise.

PS I've got Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings to watch tonight. I've been told it's not much good - he has God as Moses' inner child who sits by the burning bush playing dice. Weird, but an interesting idea. But apparently the plagues are dead good, especially the monster crocodiles who turn the Nile into a river of blood. Will check out the Chinese stuff after the crocs.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 12:24

While on the topic of China and regarding the point made earlier concerning the benefit of the church having offered opportunities for advancement, the Imperial Exam system over the same period refereed to in nordmann's post is also worth checking out. Though initially restricted to the elite, it then widened out massively to the lower orders and provided a route to the highest positions in the land through academic merit.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 12:27

Temp wrote:
Is that our homework, sir?

No.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 12:30

Now don't go all huffy again, nordmann - it was just a joke.

I will check out the Chinese stuff - ferval's point is interesting, too.

I know absolutely nothing about China's history or religion - woeful ignorance these days.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 14:47

Temperance (Me) wrote:


PS I've got Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings to watch tonight. I've been told it's not much good - he has God as Moses' inner child who sits by the burning bush playing dice. Weird, but an interesting idea. But apparently the plagues are dead good, especially the monster crocodiles who turn the Nile into a river of blood. Will check out the Chinese stuff after the crocs.


I should have put films so bad that they were wonderful as another benefit. Just think of all those Bible epics we should have missed had there been no religion. Richard Burton hamming it up dreadfully in The Robe, for instance (the best bit is when the eponymous garment nearly strangles him, Victor Mature looking on with "See, told you so!" written all over his  face.)

Then there's Charlton Heston up that mountain, of course. The more recent stuff just can't compete. Ridley Scott's Exodus is apparently an atheist take on it all. Confusing.

Richard Burton, usually so sexy and cool, completely loses it.


Charlton tells Yul what's what. Wish I'd found this when the caption thread was still alive. I bet MM would come up with a corker for what old Rameses is saying.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Sep 2015, 18:00

I don't know many names, but the Venomous Bede springs to mind. He was an historian - bit of a scientist too, I believe?

Hot news - Bede had a head!

                                                                           


http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/lost-skull-venerable-bede-discovered-9992187#ICID=sharebar_twitter

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 08 Sep 2015, 06:56

Hope he was never tempted to take up boxing. Looks like a glass jaw to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 10 Sep 2015, 22:38

Mmm. I'm back. And you have jogged me into mentioning that the art of stained glass windows is possibly a side benefit of western religions. They just keep popping up. Keep posting here, Director, you're being most helpful.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 07:14

Glad to oblige, but you're still making the basic error of overly crediting the patron for the labour, imagination, skill and artistry of the craftsman. Religion can be thanked for providing the opportunity for brilliant artisans to create beautiful things, but of course (and stained glass displays are in fact a very good example) one is still left to ponder how much more creative and beautiful the product of that artistry would have been if not so rigorously shackled thematically and stylistically by such a strict patron. It was when the artist cheekily, deviantly or courageously departed from the church's rather stifling patronage that the best stuff was often (one might almost say inevitably) produced. So yet again we should be grateful for the product of artistry of expression which has flourished more often than not despite, rather than due to, religious influence.

Hope you find that clarification equally helpful.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 08:46

Ah, yet pondering would have beens is not sound history, is it - or am I making another baasic error here? The strict patrons must also have had blind eyes to have let pass the many cheeky additions of the naughty creators that remain for us to amuse us; long live resistance. Your clarification was not needed; even such as I know of  that sort of stuff. 

I hope you know your Chinese chess rules - where the bishop/minister still moves in oblique paths and there is another piece - the cannon - loose, I suggest, making the game even harder as it follows its points (not squares but the intersections as used in this game.)
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 08:52

What utter nonsense. The "what if" arises as a consequence of seeing the church historically not as an innovator but as an admittedly powerful consumer whose own taste had often as much requirement to be challenged or ignored by true innovators as ever it could be simply pandered to. Placing credit always at their doorstep for every innovation is like thanking the banks for modern architecture - surely even you can see the flaw in causality that this conceited presumption would entail? Basic error, yes.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 09:18

No, I can't see it. I am not placing credit on the reason  for it, I am only saying it happened - for whatever reason - and like it or not the results are still there for us to enjoy. Come to that, The Shard - for instance, which may be liked by many, is a result of the latest faith in capital growth.....ugh for the unintended pun. Possibly the bankers who funded it had a say in it, I really have no idea. I do know that bankers  finance building ventures which convince them will be a success... believe me, I do know that from experience. A consortium of Bankers is a double G and T  headache too far. Been there, done it - and got it.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 09:35

Patronage is patronage. The question is how much credit accrues solely to the patron for the existence of anything deemed of benefit to the rest of us? If you want to always credit the patron and not the artist, promoting simple enablement above the artistry, expression, innovation, intelligence and skill of the person availing of the patronage then that is fine. But to be consistent one must examine and assess the role of patronage beyond simply calling one group of them "good" and deserving of all credit and another group "bad" and deserving of none. That is simply lazy classification, and not a little suspect when the "good" guys are always deemed "the religious" ones.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 09:39

I wonder if you (nordmann) are making the basic error of confusing "patron" (Church authorities) with "muse" (spiritual inspiration)? Is that b*llocks, too? No doubt it is. The Greeks acknowledged no muse for the painter or the sculptor, I believe, which I have always found odd:

No muse was identified with the visual arts of painting and sculpture. In ancient Greece sculptors and painters were held in low regard, somewhere between freemen and slaves, their work regarded as mere manual labour...

Interesting that you use the word "artisan" in your post above - following the Greek idea that the painter or sculptor was a mere technician? I cannot go along with that: for me all artists are, to quote Eliot, "wrestling with meaning" - or, for some, wrestling with a terrible "lack of meaning".

I have mentioned above I am reading about the painter Francis Bacon at the moment. His vision of postmodern man - a mere chance smear on the canvas, a lump of bleeding meat - is of a miserable, godless creature that is born, copulates and dies. Awful. Especially awful in that, unlike other creatures, we are so tragically aware of our own futility. No wonder Bacon was, to quote one of his friends, "drunk and desperate and self-destructive." Reading about this artist, whose muse was so very dark, has left me in some despair. Absolutely no benefits in this view of it all, as far as I can see. But then, to quote Eliot again, "humankind cannot bear very much reality". I'm sure Voltaire was right (no doubt he was being sarcastic) when he made his famous remark about our need to invent God. He (God, not Voltaire) is a great benefit, even if He doesn't exist.

Can't find the quote now, but Bacon was also described, despite his atheism, as being immensely spiritual -  in that he was concerned with truth.

Sorry if I'm rambling (I know I am) and/or this should be on the Art thread.

EDIT: Other posts - haven't read.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 10:13

Rightly or wrongly many of the people whose vision, skill and labour were utilised to build the great Gothic cathedrals, for example, are referred to as "artisans" - hence my use of the term too. Since the cathedrals are themselves such glaring examples of the dangerously shallow presumption that any credit for past magnificence from which we now benefit accrues solely to the body that commissioned the construction that we deem magnificent, then it is even more imperative that the artisans must get a mention in all this.

I am not confusing patronage with inspiration. Religion has traditionally performed both distinct roles. As patron it has enabled inventive people to express themselves. Its myths and creeds have provided themes, often quite complex, which have driven this invention and artistry. That is the point at which Priscilla, like many others, jumps off the causality train. However it is as well to stay on a little longer and acknowledge also that as powerful patrons, often indeed enjoying an absolute monopoly of patronage, and also as strict enforcers of the thematic limitations these patrons wished the commissioned expression to encompass, then any artefactual aspect to that system which we now deem of benefit to us - be it aesthetic or of a more practical nature - must be judged causally as much for its ability to have transcended such artificial limitations as for its debt to the commissioner who enabled its construction. Our debt need not stop with the enablers, who after all enabled much else that was most definitely not of benefit to us, but with the minds which conceived these artefacts, monuments to human ingenuity above all else.

History and the material record in terms of what remains from very ancient times, indicate that it is this ingenuity that is the constant. Religions come and go. Human interaction with religion and understanding of the term changes constantly. The human propensity to create worthwhile things - from welfare systems to fine art - carries on regardless.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 11:49

As ever seen to be falling off the rain of your thought, and very likely, it has never been my intent to suggest that such benefits that we have had from religions(assorted) came solely from them but to acknowledge that many aspects have been sustained and flourished because of them. Carragagio, whose work you greatly admire needed the religious commissions and patronage he received - and not all for religious subjects. That many were rejected because he did not conform in some way suggests that he was not ordered  how to do it. - and in many, a strong sense of spirituality comes through.
Where the propensity to create worthwhile things originates is another matter; what shapes the building foundation blocks and roots for it - mm.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 12:56

Actually Caravaggio is a very good example of what I am talking about - thanks for mentioning him. Some of his work was indeed rejected by his church patrons. That fate befell many more artists than him of course, but in his case (such as with St Matthew and the Angel or the Death of the Virgin Mary, amongst others) it was because his naturalistic depictions of these subjects offended the commissioners. However it was also this very aspect to their execution that ironically rescued them for posterity (as opposed to being painted over - canvases weren't cheap). Other artists, and indeed some less ecclesiastical patrons, acknowledged this revolutionary style as innovative and worthwhile, even if the church did not, and deliberately funded their preservation. Years later some of these even were to find their way into churchmen's collections, but the point I have been making is still well exemplified - the survival of some of his most brilliant work was very much despite, rather than because of, what the religious-minded wished at the time. If one glibly states "Well, we have religion to thank for Caravaggio", there is a hugely important codicil being omitted!
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 15:19

Yet he was commissioned because of his new style - he offended by his interpretation of events or choice of model and subject arrangement. He was given freedom and it was not always liked. Wordly Cardinals commissioned secular subjects from him to enrich their collections. Caravaggio may well have said 'Thank God for religion because it gave him the prestige that he sought. Had not led a colourful life that even friends could not give him total protection his reputation would not have been so marred and his talent honoured. Did you not recently hear the clatter of Rolf Harris pics hitting cellar floors recently?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 15:58

@Priscilla wrote:
Yet he was commissioned because of his new style - he offended by his interpretation of events or choice of model and subject arrangement.

Not quite true. He was commissioned by church sources mainly because he had one cardinal in his pocket who recommended him. In that sense he might have been grateful for the prestige such a recommendation lent him, but that's as far as it went with him, religion and gratitude, I reckon. He risked offence every time he used someone hauled in off the street to model for his religious subjects, which apparently was every time, and often despite explicit instructions not to do so. It was more his reputation than his style that went against him (the murder and other sundry misdemeanours didn't exactly help either).

Caravaggio's career as a painter of religious subjects was amazingly short when one compares it to contemporaries and especially in light of his output during that time. But there was no doubt that his standing amongst top clergy by the end of it was pretty much in tatters. His reputation amongst knowledgeable art aficionados however was sky high.  We have many people to thank for that we have some extant Caravaggios today, however I would still be inclined to place Caravaggio top of the list. His two-fingered approach to religious sensibilities of the day actually puts him firmly in the camp of good examples of my point, I feel.

PS: Caravaggio and Rolf Harris. Now there is a comparison sadly neglected in art history classes!
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Sep 2015, 16:17

Neither did prep drawings is about all I can offer for a starting point and both lost reputation to end it. Short lesson. But a tad more interesting than some I have endured. We digress. Back to the rack, lady.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 13 Sep 2015, 16:08

And now for something different and perhaps the start of a new direction of this thread - to which I hope others will contribute.

Standing back from the Western Church, its strengths and weaknesses what of the many Eastern faiths and their impact for a bit. One of the  virtues that several exude is Humility. Buddhists, Hindu sects, Islamic - especially Sufic sects, Taoists and followers of Meher Baba for instance take this tenet very seriously. I suggest that this has filtered to the west. Of course, in some philosophies, humility is thought to be a weak stance to fend off the really strong. Keeping to the OP, is Humility a benefit absorbed from religions? And what of Humility in the Christian faith?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 16 Sep 2015, 09:10

Think the thread's died a death, Priscilla. Shame - it's been very interesting. Thank you for starting it.

I suppose we have concluded - under the guidance of Our Leader - that religion has been of no benefit to mankind whatsoever, and has indeed been no more than a sadly regrettable hiccup in humanity's glorious evolution.

PS Re humility - did anyone see the recent Horizon programme about multiuniverses? Quantum physics reminds us all that we are basically such ignorant little worms. Implications for ideas about "free will" (theology?) are mind-boggling. My mind is definitely all of a boggle. Can't cope with it at all.
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