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 Religions - The Benefits

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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Mar 2016, 19:23

Well.

After reading that article I rushed to find a video of this silver-tongued, charismatic and intellectually persuasive man and selected this one at random:  https://www.htb.org/media/there-more-life-nicky-gumbel

Now I expected the expensive hair cut, the designer jeans and the Converse trainers, what I didn't expect was the clichéd vacuity of his presentation.

Jesus is like a new pair of vari-focals. Really?

When he quoted the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best attested event of the ancient world I switched off. But maybe I only have one stomach and it was turned.

Even as an atheist I would class this guff as an insult to those who believe in a rabbi who proposed a better way to live and would cheerfully slap Mr Gumball around the head with a large wet fish.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Mar 2016, 19:36

Priscilla wrote:
I have told neighbours that the big mog that defiles their veg gardens and mauls the little birds is called nordmann - being a sort of big fir like the one they had also got that Christmas, I suggest. The chasing thereof and stone lobbing at the named- shouted rascal is so very comforting.

Exactly what religion are you? It sounds very hateful indeed. Spiteful even. It's when I hear petty, vindictive, bitter little crapology like this that I thank Athena I'm an atheist. And I've just acquired a huge amount of empathy with your feline adversary too.

Temp wrote:
Perhaps Hilary Mantel will rescue us soon

Seek within for your own salvation, never from others - and salvage only that which you can bear to bring with you when you go. Sylvester Stallone - 1981
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Mar 2016, 20:14

Sylvester nordmann - it is not for me to answer for Priscilla, but for my part I only posted the Puddy Tat cartoon as a friendly joke. OK?  But I'm sorry if it added to any offence - or hurt - really. And you did get stuck in a cat-flap once - remember?

God, it's been a lousy couple of days - let's hope tomorrow is a bit better.

Ferval - yes, it's squirm stuff all right. You might also be interested to read this from the Guardian: article is entitled Nicky Gumbel: Messiah or Machiavelli?

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/aug/28/religion-christianity

PS My hope is still in Hilary.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 07 Mar 2016, 20:35

Deleted


Last edited by nordmann on Tue 08 Mar 2016, 04:54; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : It's all too silly)
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 08 Mar 2016, 09:28

I've been trying to remember to who Gumball reminds me of, then it dawned - Steve Jobs introducing a new bit of kit to the devotees. And I suspect that both audiences would have a great deal in common too.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 08 Mar 2016, 13:49

ferval wrote:
I've been trying to remember to who Gumball reminds me of, then it dawned - Steve Jobs introducing a new bit of kit to  the devotees. And I suspect that both audiences would have a great deal in common too.


They do look very alike. Steve Jobs actually had more appeal.

Gumbel is a clever man -  and one to watch, though not on YouTube. Indeed, there are many extremely astute people involved in all this HTB business. The organisation is slick and professional. No innocent and humble Christian simplicity at all; they are skilfully - and arrogantly - marketing a faith. But nothing new in that, I suppose. But is what they are offering a benefit? No one within the Anglican community seems terribly sure - or, as Adam Rutherford observes, they are unwilling to speak out and say what they really think.

I always want to run a mile - several miles actually - when "speaking in tongues" is mentioned: the HTB lot are big on this, I believe. I, however, have to confess that I go along with Bishop Spong who describes the phenomenon as "hysterical nonsense". I really cannot see how glossolalia is of any benefit to anyone. It did not start off as a Christian thing, though - didn't many religions in the ancient world indulge in this activity? The reporter in the second Guardian link, the science writer mentioned above, Adam Rutherford, says that there are sound scientific explanations for what to many seems to be incoherent "holy" babbling. Does anyone know what they are?

Oh dear; I am becoming more and more cynical. I am trying very hard not to.

EDIT:
nordmann wrote:
It's all too silly.



Not sure what we should read into this: is it Nicky Gumbel and the debatable benefits of HTB that are considered too foolish to merit further discussion; or is it the thread in general that is now judged officially to have become "silly"? Is this an indication that the topic - which has actually been very interesting and stimulating - has now run its course?

Or is it the notion that people should fall out over moggy jokes that is risable? Yes, any such falling out would be sadly silly. I was dying to mention trichobezoar this morning, but resisted. Wish we could all find ourselves laughing again - with one another, that is.


Last edited by Temperance on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 02:35; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 09 Mar 2016, 09:03

A friend gave me the correct name for fur ball yesterday. Trichobezoar.

It is a word that I did not know - it sounds rather like the name of an Old Testament prophet to me.

Sorry, but if this is the official silly site now, we may as well all be as stupid as possible.



PS Got a good book from the library yesterday: it's And Man Created God: Kings, Cults and Conquests at the Time of Jesus (2012) by Selina O'Grady. On the cover, A.C. Grayling, the philosopher and the man who, in his wisdom, starts posh "universities" in Bloomsbury for Very Rich Kids, says it is "A must read. No one should be allowed to lay claim to Christian or indeed any religious faith who has not read this book first, and meditated on its import".

I shall start reading at once.


Last edited by Temperance on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 13:37; edited 1 time in total
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 09 Mar 2016, 09:47

Temp wrote:
Sorry, but if this is the official silly site now, we may as well all be as stupid as possible.

I'm not sure what that means.

My response that I deleted was one thing which was silly enough to warrant deletion, as well as the specific post to which I was responding which, if not intended to be hurtful, then reveals much lacking in the ability of its author to distinguish between humour and insult, or indeed to care much either way when it comes to remarks about myself. I notice that this is still extant, so I am assuming that the former assumption is in fact correct.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 09 Mar 2016, 10:10

Deleted my deleted post.

Will probably delete this at 12.30 pm.

Was going to post something from Garfield, but changed my mind. Really will shut up now. I think you are both being somewhat silly. Do hope you both sort yourselves out when Priscilla returns from foreign parts.


Last edited by Temperance on Wed 09 Mar 2016, 15:48; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 09 Mar 2016, 11:51

Deleted.

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 09 Mar 2016, 16:27

MM is quite right - one of the benefits of religion has been to be a great foil for humour of all kinds - from po-faced to hilarity. I don't know what the established church really feels about that but no overt policy comes to  mind - humour can  send some religions into deadly frenzy, of course, over hurts real and imagined.

Right, tip toeing out backwards with care  I'd better go and leave Temps in a puddle of deletion; laughing has its draw backs. (or drawer backs, even.) Will she ever speak to me again?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 09 Mar 2016, 16:46

Priscilla wrote:


Right, tip toeing out backwards with care  I'd better go and leave Temps in a puddle of deletion; laughing has its draw backs. (or drawer backs, even.) Will she ever speak to me again?



I want to speak to you both again, you daft pair!!! And, what's more important, for you to speak to each other.

Priscilla, say sorry nicely to nordmann, and nordmann, say sorry nicely to Priscilla - please.




Last edited by Temperance on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 14:40; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 09 Mar 2016, 17:00

I'm not sure how to say sorry nicely. I never intend to insult you, normann- I thought I had a measure of you sense of humour from the good ol' days but I have obviously got it wrong. So, sorry, nordmann - the nicely bit you'll you'll have to conjure that bit up yourself 

is that nice enough, Temps? Shall I also mop up the puddle of deletion? You can drain your own Trough of Despond - I can only go so far, woman. What with a Bunyon on me right foot an all.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 09 Mar 2016, 17:09

EDIT: Official Public Apology to both parties. I shall mind my own business in future.


But you are both being daft.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 09 Mar 2016, 21:00

Enjoy your trip, Priscilla. And thanks for the private message. It's appreciated.

Priscilla wrote:
one of the benefits of religion has been to be a great foil for humour of all kinds

To which it responds with reciprocal enthusiasm ...





























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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 10 Mar 2016, 13:53

Oh, drat, I vowed this morning not to post again on this thread, but I must protest. All the above examples are of responses from religious nutters. Not everyone who professes a faith of some kind is like them.


It's simply not fair to tar everyone with the same fundamentalist, crazy, humourless - or murderous - brush.


In fact it's ridiculous.


Last edited by Temperance on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 18:08; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 10 Mar 2016, 14:45

Temperance wrote:

.... In fact it's ridiculous.

Or maybe it's irony.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 10 Mar 2016, 15:23

MM wrote:
Temperance wrote:
.... In fact it's ridiculous.


Or maybe it's irony.


Yep, you could well have a point there, MM.

My favourite word - which is indeed ironic; but alas nothing irenic about any of this, is there? It's all horrible.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 10 Mar 2016, 15:32

So let's have a bit of a laugh again, for Athena's sake. As I am now proud to be official Res His cheese-maker, or cheese-keeper, or something (it is official), let's remind ourselves of the appropriate passage from Scripture, brought wonderfully to life here by our favourite lads:


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 10 Mar 2016, 16:17

A well timed bit of cheese-making, Temp. I was about to post a rant but I will have a nice bit of cheddar instead.

I've saved the rant though....................
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 10 Mar 2016, 18:17

ferval wrote:
A well timed bit of cheese-making, Temp. I was about to post a rant but I will have a nice bit of cheddar instead.

I've saved the rant though....................
Don't Gorge yourself on that stuff! Remember the example of that great Sage, Derby.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Mar 2016, 20:59

Temperance wrote:
Oh, drat, I vowed this morning not to post again on this thread, but I must protest. All the above examples are of responses from religious nutters. Not everyone who professes a faith of some kind is like them.


It's simply not fair to tar everyone with the same fundamentalist, crazy, humourless - or murderous - brush.


In fact it's ridiculous.


Nordmann, I join Temperance. I am a bit disappointed. I thought in the dual exchange that you, from your higher "level", would have had the "character" to not disgress into little tit for that games with her.

With respect, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 11 Mar 2016, 21:27

Is it unfair, when someone proclaims the benefits of religions, to point out that they also have disbenefits?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 12 Mar 2016, 08:37

Paul wrote:
Nordmann, I join Temperance. I am a bit disappointed. I thought in the dual exchange that you, from your higher "level", would have had the "character" to not disgress into little tit for that games with her.

Ah, but my tit is on far safer epistemological ground than her tat. If theology wishes to persevere in its imitation of philosophy then it has to expect to have its tat titted regularly, as any genuine student of philosophy knows only too well (it's basically rule number one in the instruction manual).
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 12 Mar 2016, 09:22

nordmann wrote:
Paul wrote:
Nordmann, I join Temperance. I am a bit disappointed. I thought in the dual exchange that you, from your higher "level", would have had the "character" to not disgress into little tit for that games with her.

Ah, but my tit is on far safer epistemological ground than her tat. If theology wishes to persevere in its imitation of philosophy then it has to expect to have its tat titted regularly, as any genuine student of philosophy knows only too well (it's basically rule number one in the instruction manual).



Nordmann, the scope for insult there was enormous: although obviously tempted, you have restrained yourself admirably.

Not only are you a great big puddy tit tat, you are a gentleman, sir.  Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 12 Mar 2016, 10:07

Thank you for your kind support, Paul. I am neither philosopher nor theologian, alas; and I never aspire to the lofty heights of nordmann's erudition. But it's fun trying to argue a little bit, even if one cannot hope to win. Smile

The expression  that has caused some mirth is "tit for tat".

Tried to find the origin of the expression for you - failed.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 12 Mar 2016, 10:34

It was primarily Priscilla's tat to which my tits were referring (I am an oddly shaped gentleman), in deference to Paul's specific identification of the pair of us tits in his tattle above.

As a representative of all irenic (I am still not sure if that was a typo you made above or one of the cleverest puns yet on this forum) dairy produce manufacturers, I had assumed you would be blessedly exempt from such a tip for tap exchange of blows (one apparent origin of the expression), though as someone interested in history and etymology you might appreciate this sixteenth century offering from John Lyly, alias Pappe Hatchett, private secretary to the Earl of Oxford and therefore one of the many candidates for being Shakespeare if our wobble-weapon friend was indeed a pigment of amalgamation, as some suggest:

"Come tit with me, Come tat with me,
Come throw a halter at me"

(A "halter" meant a big wet sloppy kiss in Elizabethan slang)

He was having a go at the upstart Martin Marprelate, which apparently was a very popular pastime amongst the literati in late 16th century London, Shakespeare joining in the fun himself in The Merry Wives of Windsor when he had Falstaff represent Marprelate as a "may pole" (slang at the time along the lines of "the town bicycle") and to be "ridden" like a "Welch goate".

But we digress ...

PS: Paul, you may be interested in Chambers dictionary's assertion that "tat" or "tattle" as in "chatter" or "idle prattle" allegedly originated from the Dutch "tatelen" (stammer).
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 12 Mar 2016, 10:58

It was a pun; it was a pun!

I actually pinched it off Howard Louthan who, in his The Quest for Compromise: Peacemakers in Counter-Reformation Vienna, wrote:

Despite the frequency and severity of polemics directed against him, Erasmus continued ... to practice a kind of discourse that is critical and ironic, yet modest and irenic.

That's me trying to be lofty, by the way.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 12 Mar 2016, 12:42

Tit - One of a number of small passerine birds of the Paridae family.
       A worthless or worn-out horse, a nag.

Tat - Rubbishy, poor quality
       Make knotted lace with a shuttle

Choose one from each.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 12 Mar 2016, 14:05

Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Tit - One of a number of small passerine birds of the Paridae family.
       A worthless or worn-out horse, a nag.

Tat - Rubbishy, poor quality
       Make knotted lace with a shuttle

Choose one from each.

Why?

I would not dream of trying to exchange blows with either of you: I don't enjoy being beaten up, thank you.

I'm not so sure that the very nasty use of "maypole" mentioned above occurs in Merry Wives, but I could be wrong, as I don't know the play very well.



EDIT: I've checked the Shakespeare Concordance and "maypole" occurs only once: in A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is a nicely bitchy use of the word by Hermia to the very tall Helena:


HERMIA
“Puppet”? Why so?—Ay, that way goes the game.

Now I perceive that she hath made compare

Between our statures. She hath urged her height,

And with her personage, her tall personage,

Her height, forsooth, she hath prevailed with him.—

And are you grown so high in his esteem

Because I am so dwarfish and so low?

How low am I, thou painted maypole? Speak.

How low am I? I am not yet so low

But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.


(Act III sc ii)
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 12 Mar 2016, 14:50

Depends on what you searched for, I suppose.

The Merry Wives of Windsor (Quarto 1602, Sc.18):

SIR HUGH. I trust me boyes Sir Iohn: and I was
Also a Fairie that did helpe to pinch you.
FALSTAFF. I, tis well I am your May-pole,
You have the start of mee,
Am I ridden too with a welch goate?


(See, Kristen Poole, Saints Alive! Falstaff, Martin Marprelate, and the Staging of Puritanism, in: Shakespeare Quarterly 46, No. 1,1995)

Supporters of De Vere insist this is almost a verbatim recycling of an earlier doggerel tract written by him at the height of the Marprelate thing, though even that might also have been written by Lyly. Supporters of Our Wullie as the author use it as evidence that the Marprelate thing was still a handy way of getting a snigger from an audience even twelve or so years after the initial broo-haha. Put "maypole", "Welsh" and "goat" in the same sentence, undoubtedly in an exaggerated Welsh accent on a London stage, and you could only be inviting the audience to think of John Penry - the man assumed to be behind the Malprelate pseudonym, using the three most prominent elements of the most lascivious insult with which he had been cruelly caricatured by his many enemies. And nor was it the only time Shakespeare used this cheap comedy trick with Marprelate as the butt of the joke.

In 1589 Marprelate had suddenly fallen silent, leading people to believe rumours that he had died in Drake's and Norris's military campaign against La Coruna (in England then called The Groyne). When Penry's son, using the nomme-de-plume Martin Marprelate Junior, began a pamphleted tract with "...If my father should be hurt, either at the Groyne or at the suburbs of Lisbon..."  this immediately became a catchphrase of huge hilarity in London, guaranteed to raise a laugh in the manner that stupid repetition of some TV comedian's catchphrase is employed to generate a cheap laugh in the absence of actual wit nowadays amongst the intellectually challenged. But Shakespeare wasn't above catering to the jabbering masses either. In the same play, when Mistress Quickly asks (not knowing top from bottom) “Are you not hurt i' th' groin? Methought 'a made a shrewd thrust at your belly.” this also would have triggered a Pavlovian snigger response in The Globe's audience amongst its rather thicker and coarser members, and with Marprelate to thank for that too, "hurt 'i the groin" already having entered the vernacular for a rather sorry consequence of maypoling Welsh goats.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 12 Mar 2016, 16:26

Did not know any of that: thank you.


This is much more interesting than arguing about religion.


But might offer a poo post later.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 12 Mar 2016, 21:51

Temperance wrote:
It was a pun; it was a pun!

I actually pinched it off Howard Louthan who, in his The Quest for Compromise: Peacemakers in Counter-Reformation Vienna, wrote:

Despite the frequency and severity of polemics directed against him, Erasmus continued ... to practice a kind of discourse that is critical and ironic, yet modest and irenic.

That's me trying to be lofty, by the way.

"It was a pun; it was a pun!"

Temperance, "chapeau" (hat off) for the pun...
First time in my life that I read the word "irenic"
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irenic

Your friend Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 12 Mar 2016, 22:27

nordmann wrote:
It was primarily Priscilla's tat to which my tits were referring (I am an oddly shaped gentleman), in deference to Paul's specific identification of the pair of us tits in his tattle above.

As a representative of all irenic (I am still not sure if that was a typo you made above or one of the cleverest puns yet on this forum) dairy produce manufacturers, I had assumed you would be blessedly exempt from such a tip for tap exchange of blows (one apparent origin of the expression), though as someone interested in history and etymology you might appreciate this sixteenth century offering from John Lyly, alias Pappe Hatchett, private secretary to the Earl of Oxford and therefore one of the many candidates for being Shakespeare if our wobble-weapon friend was indeed a pigment of amalgamation, as some suggest:

"Come tit with me, Come tat with me,
Come throw a halter at me"

(A "halter" meant a big wet sloppy kiss in Elizabethan slang)

He was having a go at the upstart Martin Marprelate, which apparently was a very popular pastime amongst the literati in late 16th century London, Shakespeare joining in the fun himself in The Merry Wives of Windsor when he had Falstaff represent Marprelate as a "may pole" (slang at the time along the lines of "the town bicycle") and to be "ridden" like a "Welch goate".

But we digress ...

PS: Paul, you may be interested in Chambers dictionary's assertion that "tat" or "tattle" as in "chatter" or "idle prattle" allegedly originated from the Dutch "tatelen" (stammer).


Nordmann, I have still a lot to learn about British history...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Marprelate
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marprelate_Controversy


And now what kind of words...
"maypole" (the same as the Dutch "meipaal") but in slang it seems to be some "phallic" symbol? And "town bycicle"?
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Town+Bike
We have a similar expression: "it's only the tramway that she isn't ridden by"...?

"PS: Paul, you may be interested in Chambers dictionary's assertion that "tat" or "tattle" as in "chatter" or "idle prattle" allegedly originated from the Dutch "tatelen" (stammer)."

yes "tattle":
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/tattle
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/tattle

However as I see it and didn't recognize the word "tatelen" as we use always in Dutch/Flemish "tateren" it seems that "tatelen" is also an old equivalent of "tateren"
In our dialect we say also: tateren, tetteren, kwebbelen, babbelen...


And now about "tit for tat"...
I wasn't aware that there was that much behind the expression...quite impressive...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tit_for_tat


Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 26 Apr 2016, 13:54

In case it has not been mentioned before, a benefit of religion is its value in stirring nostril flaring interest in discussion. Had humans never latched on to religions, human history might have been somewhat bland - and dare I say - yer what the hell, might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb,  leading to rather lack luster history boards without a  well-used punch bag.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 26 Apr 2016, 17:34

Priscilla,

one of the great benefits of religion (and if you read my thread about Kings and Gods, and also earlier threads on this forum) is in my humble opinion from what I "read", and I am still convinced that it is working even nowadays in the 21 century human, that in an always enigmatic world (even for some 21th century humans) it is always quietening for the peace of mind to have some narratives about religion and sight on an afterlife.

And again about your original message:
We will never know if it would be otherwise or better, if there would have been from the dawn of humanity no religion, as there was due to all historical sources, no one time with no notion related to cult objects or ceremonials for the dead...

Kind regards from your friend Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 27 Apr 2016, 15:38

Deleted - too silly after all the serious comment on this topic.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 27 Apr 2016, 23:26

I for one did not mind Shaun being strung up, Temp - but I was dismayed by your apology. We - you and I have done a fair bit of that on this board but never received one, as I recall. We don't need to do  because you and I, we understand the warmth that generates gentle teasing.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 30 Apr 2016, 15:56

Priscilla wrote:
I for one did not mind Shaun being strung up, Temp - but I was dismayed by your apology. We - you and I have done a fair bit of that on this board but never received one, as I recall. We don't need to do  because you and I, we understand the warmth that generates gentle teasing.


Well, apologetics is the thing wot is needed here, not apologies, Priscilla.

But apologising - admitting (confessing?) we are at fault and expressing sincere regret for hurt caused - is that a benefit of religion, or simply an indication of a weak and vacillating character? As ever, answers on a postcard, please.

That old devil, Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol Suspect , was credited with the famous advice: "Never explain; never apologise" - but the exact wording of his aphorism is much disputed. Apparently what Jowett did say was:  "Never retreat. Never explain. Get it done and let them howl."

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 02 May 2016, 23:42

Er - oh gosh - Leicester football team each had a blessing from a Buddhist monk early in the season..... hands on sort of stuff. Just saying.........
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 18 Aug 2016, 17:13

It is such a pity that Priscilla and nordmann - both writers - are no longer posting, because I should so like their opinions on something I have just read in Alister McGrath's 2013 biography of C.S. Lewis. Does belief in God make you a better writer?

In Chapter 6 of his biography - The Most Reluctant Convert: the Making of a Mere Christian - McGrath looks at how Lewis, a convinced atheist, who, as a young man, was severely critical, if not totally dismissive, of religion in general and Christianity in particular, finally "gave in". In examining Lewis's conversion, McGrath also discusses in this most interesting chapter the conversions of writers such as Waugh, Chesterton, Eliot and Greene. This is the paragraph that has struck me and has had me wondering:

"Many leading writers came to faith around the same time through reflecting on literary issues. For example, Graham Greene criticised modernist writers such as Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster for creating characters who 'wandered around like cardboard symbols through a world that was paper-thin'. There was, Greene argued, no sense of reality in their writings. To lose sight of 'the religious sense', as they had so clearly done, was also to lose any 'sense of the importance of the human act'*. Great literature depends upon a passionate commitment to a real world - which, for Greene, demanded a foundation in a deeper order of things, grounded in the nature and will of God."

Actually Waugh made much the same point that McGrath attributes to Greene. Without ""God" (whatever Waugh meant by that slippery word), an author could not give his characters reality and depth. "You can only leave God out by making your characters pure abstractions," declared the newly converted Catholic Waugh.**

So, do we have here another benefit of religion (or rather a benefit of an acknowledgement or awareness that there is, or could be, some "mystery" beyond ourselves, whatever that may be) - it actually makes you a better writer? Well, it certainly ain't working for me. I have only managed so far the second paragraph of the introduction to my prologue. Perhaps I should never have left Alexandria. But quitting that city isn't the same as abandoning Jerusalem, is it?

Ferval - I cannot thank you enough for getting me to read Richard Holloway's book, Leaving Alexandria. As C.S. Lewis himself - rather ironically in my case - actually observed: "We read to know we are not alone." This is the poem Holloway got his title from. It is one of the most moving things I have ever read. Embarrassing to confess, but I cried when I first came upon it:


The God Abandons Antony  The Canon  

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who proved worthy of this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.




Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard


(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)

* Graham Greene: Collected Essays

** The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh ed. Donat Gallagher 1983.


Last edited by Temperance on Fri 19 Aug 2016, 06:17; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 18 Aug 2016, 17:29

Temp, do you know this?


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 18 Aug 2016, 17:43

Deleted maudlin message sent after listening to Leonard Cohen last night.

I suppose, in the grey light of a rainy early morning, it could be argued that writing or trying to write, or simply, for that matter, reading anything decent, is not so much a benefit or an urging of anything spiritual, but is simply an attempt at a creativity or an understanding - a surrounding of oneself with a firewall which will keep the chaotic and meaningless external world at a safe distance, shielding one from that nasty existential angst. But then again...

But enough! It's 6.30am and time to put the kettle on.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 20 Aug 2016, 20:21

In the study of literature, religion and spirituality are both what the late Northrop Frye would have referred to as "wrinkles", especially if introduced as background bias and not thematically. Like Frye, I'm all for wrinkles (at least in the sense he meant them) and applaud their ability to prompt flights of fantasy otherwise unlikely to have been pursued by authors, but only if the authors are ones of literary ability, and only if the flight actually condescends to descend somewhere now and again, however fleetingly. These little "touchdowns" - those sublime moments of epiphanistic realisation otherwise difficult, if not impossible, to convey - are what makes good literature worth reading, and certain authorial biases (such as religion, sexual proclivities, politicisation etc) certainly have produced some great examples over the years since pen and parchment were first introduced to each other.

It has to be said however that any such bias, especially if it seeps thematically through the narrative and congeals in little pools of direct expression, will tend to deposit its author's output more likely at the drivel end of the literary output spectrum.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 21 Aug 2016, 17:47

nordmann wrote:
In the study of literature, religion and spirituality are both what the late Northrop Frye would have referred to as "wrinkles", especially if introduced as background bias and not thematically...

...It has to be said however that any such bias, especially if it seeps thematically through the narrative and congeals in little pools of direct expression, will tend to deposit its author's output more likely at the drivel end of the literary output spectrum.


While I agree there is an awful lot of "religious" drivel out there, it is usually drivel because the writer is being cloyingly sentimental or simply sensational. Crap such as The Shack and The Da Vinci Code come immediately to mind - well to mine, at least. As you say, however, few would consider such stuff as having any real literary merit, although both books have sold millions of copies. The work of writers such as Waugh, Greene and Eliot is quite different, and it is hardly mere "background bias" that we get in the writing of Milton, Blake, Herbert, Donne, Traherne, Emily Brontë or indeed in much of the poetry of the Hebrew Bible - Isaiah, the Psalms or the Book of Job. And what about what Oscar Wilde called the "prose poetry" of the Gospels? No nasty thematic "seepage"(what a vile word) here, resulting in greasy spots of drivel (what an odd metaphor) - it's all cracking stuff.

But then I do not think that "religion and spirituality" -  which you seem to use as synonyms in your post - are in fact the same. This is a point Priscilla understands and has commented on. Religion in its worst expression is something rigid and narrow: spirituality is the opposite.

I am not surprised you mention Northrop Frye: he believed that literary criticism should acquire something of the methodological discipline and coherences of the sciences. I struggled with him many years ago, and did not agree with much of what I read. but then I wouldn't, would I? That said, Frye understood the power of myth (see his essay on The Archetypes of Literature). I learnt from this that you do not have to be in any way a "believer" (whatever that means) to understand -and sympathise with - our human need for myth. And myth underpins our literature, the central myth of literature being the quest-myth. The "quest" is always a spiritual one, which is not the same thing as saying it is religious. It is a search for meaning.

This is becoming too long a post, but may I add that the great writers who apparently reject the spiritual are perhaps still great because, even in the very act of rejection, they show an awareness of this great human quest, this struggle -  even if their dismal conclusion is that the quest is, in fact, an utterly futile endeavour. If you reject something, you are surely acknowledging that it - or at least the idea of it - exists.

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 21 Aug 2016, 18:05

All very true, I agree with you. Had the thread been entitled "Sprituality - The Benefits" I feel we would have agreed even more throughout (oddly however the one person who you say understands the difference was she who named the thread). By the way the expressions are not synonymous in my view either, though one in particular struggles to exist without the other, even if the same is not necessarily true in reverse.

I would however take issue with your list of authors if by producing it you wish to infer a common element of "spirituality" evident in their works. Brontë, for example, employs a naive representation of afterlife in the form of ghosts which might render her a "mystic" in the sense it was understood during her lifetime, but she does so without expanding that theme in any direction except to drive her storyline concerning the characters at that point still living in the account she is narrating. So yes, while the authors you name did indeed produce quite different work, I would suggest also that this is about as far as you can go with regard to conclusion, let alone conclude anything about their spiritual or religious beliefs.

Which was my point, and the one Frye alluded to too (I also can take Frye or leave him - he inferred rather more pattern and technique as obtainable in his chosen profession than his subject actually warranted). However I stand by his wrinkles - his terminology for anything inserted between the lines, intentionally or accidentally, which in turn defines the merit and the effect of the narrative. Spirituality, or better said its subtle effect on the storyteller, is such a wrinkle. One of many, by the way.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 21 Aug 2016, 19:11

I was thinking more of Emily Brontë's poetry. She refused point-blank to go to church, but could write this:



No Coward Soul Is Mine

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven's glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from Fear.

O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life - that in me hast rest,
As I - Undying Life- have power in Thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men's hearts, unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears

Though Earth and moon were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every Existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou - Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.



That other brilliant Emily, Emily Dickinson, requested that No Coward Soul be read at her funeral.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 21 Aug 2016, 19:30

Deism was often confused with super-Protestantism, and one can see why. What has always impressed me about the poem isn't the horse-trading between her and the deity (that's just run of the mill divine backscratching that religious types go in for with their chosen juju-master) but that little "s" where one least expects it and which shows that either Emily was 150 years ahead of Schrödinger and company, or there was one very sloppy proofreader at the printers. Either way, putting universes in plural was something even God hadn't apparently considered prior to E.B. (or the bad printers apprentice).
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 21 Aug 2016, 20:01

I think you underestimate her: she was no "religious type" - far from it. Bronte was a remarkable young woman: at 23 (in 1842) she was certainly anticipating Darwin. She wrote this in one of her Belgian thèmes, prepared for her teacher, Monsieur Heger. The extract is from her essay, Le Papillon:


Nature is an inexplicable problem; it exists on a principle of destruction. Every being must be the tireless instrument of death to others, or itself must cease to live, yet nonetheless we celebrate the day of our birth, and we praise God for having entered such a world.

I suggest you read - if you have not already done so - Stevie Davies' (not the snooker player) study of the woman: Emily Brontë: Heretic
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 21 Aug 2016, 20:08

I blame Paddy Brunty from Drumballyroney. It wasn't off the ground she licked it, as they'd say up where Paddy hailed from.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 23 Aug 2016, 15:44

I've found the full text of the Brontë essay, and wanted to add a few more lines to the quotation given above. Compare this view of the natural world with the brain-washing about Nature's benignity which was the Wordsworthian inheritance. "Nature," wrote Wordsworth, "never did betray/The heart that loved her..." Brontë's vision stands more on a base of sturdy empiricism which surely you  -and Darwin - must applaud.

As mentioned above, seventeen years before the publication of The Origin of the Species, young Emily was commenting:

Look there, these flies playing above the brook, swallows and fish diminishing their number every minute; those becoming, in their turn, the prey of some tyrant of air or water: and man, for his amusement or for his needs, will kill their murderers. Nature is an inexplicable problem, it exists on a principle of destruction; it is necessary to be the tireless instrument of death to others, or cease to live itself; and yet, we celebrate the day of our birth and we praise God for having entered such a world...why was (this maggot) created and why was man created? He tortures, he kills, he devours; he suffers, dies, is devoured - there you have his whole history...
... at this moment the universe seemed to me a vast machine constructed solely to produce evil.


These are not the musings of a "religious type", certainly not a Victorian, female "religious type".
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