Alcohol and Christianity in rural USAmerica

  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Jan 24, 2008 10:39 AM GMT
    I'm doodling off at work and I started wondering:

    What is the relationship (relationships?) between USAmerican rural alcohol culture and USAmerican rural Christian culture?

    I'm still thinking with regard to my own answers and thoughts, but I do not have enough quality information on hand to develop any strong hypotheses.
  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Jan 24, 2008 3:13 PM GMT
    Wow, that's an oddity. My initial post disappeared icon_eek.gif

    My question was:
    What is the relationship / are the relationships between USAmerican rural alcohol culture(s) and USAmerican rural Christian culture(s)?

    All I have at the moment is personal speculation as I do not have enough viable information at hand to hypothesize. However, I believe that there are connections that may need to explored between these cultures and how they interact with each other (such as the apparent prevalence of former alcoholics being "born again" in forms of evangelical Christianity).

    For example, do the physiological of active evangelical Christianity have a particular affect upon persons going through the physiological effects of alcohol or alcoholism?

    I may be grasping at straws...yet, put enough straws together and you may end up with some wholesome bread.

    ***
    Edit: What? Now it re-appeared?

    Me thinks me sees a glitch in the Matrix...Smith, get on this ASAP!
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    Jan 24, 2008 3:15 PM GMT
    Surely you've heard of Jesus Juice.
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    Jan 24, 2008 3:18 PM GMT
    You'd have to provide some data. Evil stats would be needed.

  • cowboyupnorth

    Posts: 264

    Jan 24, 2008 3:33 PM GMT
    I am not sure how well I am answering your question but a lot of evangelical Christians believe alcohol is a spirit and one can be delivered from it. People do not normally seek out help when things are going well. It is when we do not think we can do it, that we start looking for support and answers, often out of fear and desperation.
    If I am a alcoholic my family and friends may have given up on me. The Church hopefully loves me unconditionally and offers hope. I have a friend who was strung out on Heroin and at 4am during the 700 club turn her life over to Jesus and quite smoking, drinking, shooting up etc. The Church has become her support and strength.
    AA is a spiritual based program, but does not cram religion down your throat. Often once people get sober they start seeing religion as a viable option. I think because individuals are open, and enjoying the support of AA some people expand their support system to include religion.
    I have witnessed people overcome what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles but with the support of friends, family, groups, or religion they were triumphant.
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    Jan 24, 2008 4:04 PM GMT
    It's an interesting question, Nick. Cowboy gives a good answer. I will add my thoughts.

    America's religious culture in what we call the "heartland" is a variety of Christian faiths and they run a spectrum. From liberal branches like Episcopal and Presbytarian, to moderate faiths like Methodist or American Baptist, to conservative like Southern Baptist, and finally to hardcore "holy rollers" such as Pentecostal.

    The liberal to moderate faiths see no problem with drinking in moderation; a beer with friends, wine with dinner, etc.

    The conservative branches of Christianity see the drinking of alcohol as a sin, even though Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine. They even insist that the wine that Jesus drank was actually more like our grape juice today and was unfermented, in spite of the fact there isn't the slightest bit of evidence--scientific nor socialogical--that such is true.

    Still, these conservative faiths treat alcohol as a great evil and create a great mythology around it that ironically makes it all the more attractive to their kids. It reminds me of a "Simpsons" episode in which the father of one of Bart's friends is a policeman and he has a room full of guns. The two boys go into the room, awestruck by all the guns and wanting to play with them, until the boy's father catches them. He then admonishes his son by revealing his attempt to make the room less interesting: "Why are you so fascinated by my magic closet of mystery?" That's pretty much the effect that this anti-alcohol behavior has on many of the children of devout Christianity.

    While the Southern Baptists constantly work to keep their children in line (at any age) it is not uncommon for Pentecostals to set their sons free when they reach their teens and let them do whatever they want so as to get it out of their system. In my school the biggest hellions and troublemakers were the Pentecostal children, who were also the biggest drinkers. At the same time, their parents were people whose parents walked around carrying Bibles to lunch.

    I did not include the Mormons in this because they are more predominant in the American West and I don't have enough dealings with them to give you an informed opinion. I do know, as most people do, that Mormons go Southern Baptists and Pentecostals one further, and include caffeine as stimulating substance that they cannot imbibe along with alchohol, so that tells you how strongly they feel about that subject.


    I hopr this offers some insight to your question.
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    Jan 24, 2008 4:33 PM GMT
    well catholics have no problem. as for the others, i don't care.
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    Jan 24, 2008 7:46 PM GMT
    I think it's a ridiculus question. There are no "relationships" btw the two, Christianity is built on beliefs and faith and some denominations do provide their guidelines for living for one to follow. I don't believe that with or without alcohol, the church would be any different. Yet another attempt to start a thread to discredit Christianity I suspect, but doesn't look like it's working yet.

    Also Damarco, the Mormon faith is not Christianity.

    I think you need to pay more attention to work and quit "doodling off"!

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    Jan 24, 2008 8:12 PM GMT
    eb925guy said
    Also Damarco, the Mormon faith is not Christianity.


    Um, actually, it is. Mormon is just a shorthand for the faith. Their actual name is The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints. icon_confused.gif
  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Jan 25, 2008 11:26 AM GMT
    Thanks for the replies fellas!

    re: McGay
    No, I had not heard of "Jesus Juice." Quite frankly, the thought of Jesus' semen has not crossed my mind, with the exception of the speculation on his rumored offspring.

    re: Trance23
    Statistics are themselves pretty darn neutral (perhaps even an imposition upon by the Neutrals); their misuse, however, is widespread and usually malign or just plain stupid.

    re: cowboyupnorth
    Thanks for commenting on the constructive aspects of faith-based support for those dealing with personally destructive addictions.

    re: Damarco4u
    Yes Damarco, it does offer some insight (specifically, units of analysis and perspectives to keep in mind). Thanks!

    re: buffaloshydude
    In terms of the Roman Catholic Church, while the Church proper does not vehemently prohibit alcohol consumption and falls more along the moderation line, the RCC has relationships with alcohol with regard to Ireland, for example.

    re: eb925guy
    If you feel threatened by my inquiry, I recommend that you take more of a persuasive stance, such as cowboyupnorth's reminder of constructive efforts toward the issues of alcohol and alcoholism, rather than a knee-jerk reaction. I've seen enough Fox News and knee-jerk populists to know how to process these kinds of reactions.

    Contemporary Christianities are built on not merely beliefs and faith, but also: social relations, power distributions (frequently hierarchal), institutional dogmas, varyingly defensive and assimilatory reactions toward non-Christianities (see the Christianization of the Americas, for example), individual human players, and relationships toward developing science and technologies.

    My interest is not to discredit Christianity (a massive undertaking for little human gain), but to critique the relationships of alcohol cultures and Christian cultures in the rural United States, with a particular interest in the authoritarian Christianities in the United States and their potential use or misuse of human addictions.

    IF I sought to discredit Christianity in total (the Christianities of the United States are but a small fraction of the Christianities of our human world), I will find more than adequate material in the varying Bibles, the early heydays of the Christian churches (Armenian, Coptic, Roman, Greek), and the individual members of those days and their claims toward personal power and institutional power. Critiquing a small conglomeration of Christian churches would hardly suffice.

    And, as Damarco4u points out, Mormonism is a Christian denomination. The largest difference between it and other USAmerican Christianities (other than its mythic origins with Joseph Smith and the angel Moroni), is how its structure (I must admit, this is personal speculation) lacks a relationship with / or against the Roman Catholic Church. I believe that the majority of USAmerican Protestant denominations have histories of intimate conflict with the RCC and that the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints does not.
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    Jan 25, 2008 12:15 PM GMT
    Just to put in my two cents, as far as Mormons are concerned, they are just like everyone else really. The firmest believers adhere to every tenant including no drinking, tobacco, caffeine, etc. But quite a few of them still like caffeine, just not in excess. A cup of coffee in the morning, a pepsi here or there.
    With regards to drinking, before they go on a mission or get married, lots of the kids drink, but it seems like once they come back from their mission (for the guys) or get married (for the girls), the drinking stops. But that's usually cause that's when the family starts.

    It always cracks me up that people think mormons are so crazy. I'd never been around catholics till I went to college and Ash Wednesday freaked me out when everyone was walking around w/ crosses painted on their forheads.
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    Jan 25, 2008 12:26 PM GMT
    Matterych said
    It always cracks me up that people think mormons are so crazy. I'd never been around catholics till I went to college and Ash Wednesday freaked me out when everyone was walking around w/ crosses painted on their forheads.


    That's the point, isn't it. All religions seem to have some weird-ass rituals. In the religion I was born into, you're supposed to put on a shawl three times a day, and affix a box containing prayers to your head, a box attached to leather straps that you're supposed to wind around your left arm several times. Then you pray.

    Oy. The things people get up to.

    Once I asked a rabbi WHY we are commanded by G-d to do these things. He pondered for a moment, pulled his beard a little bit, then looked brightly at me.

    "Shut up," he explained.
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    Jan 25, 2008 12:39 PM GMT
    Nick,

    Jesus Juice is what Michael Jackson served his victims, er, little buddies, before their sleepover parties.
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    Jan 25, 2008 8:59 PM GMT
    MatterychJust to put in my two cents, as far as Mormons are concerned, they are just like everyone else really. The firmest believers adhere to every tenant including no drinking, tobacco, caffeine, etc. But quite a few of them still like caffeine, just not in excess. A cup of coffee in the morning, a pepsi here or there.


    This is the reason that I didn't offer any particulars on the Mormon faith. All I know is what I ran into on my various trips to Utah and while living in Seattle. The media would have us believe that Mormons never break the rules for fear of being thrown out of the church. There is, of course, the old joke about the Starbucks barista in Salt Lake City being the lonliest person since the Maytag repairman. icon_lol.gif

    Mormons sound similar to Pentecostals in that there is this idea of letting their children experience the world and if they return then they are usually good, strong Christian soldiers.

    jprichva said
    That's the point, isn't it. All religions seem to have some weird-ass rituals. In the religion I was born into, you're supposed to put on a shawl three times a day, and affix a box containing prayers to your head, a box attached to leather straps that you're supposed to wind around your left arm several times. Then you pray.

    Oy. The things people get up to.

    Once I asked a rabbi WHY we are commanded by G-d to do these things. He pondered for a moment, pulled his beard a little bit, then looked brightly at me.

    "Shut up," he explained.


    LOL, jprichva! "Shut up" has been the dismissive of many a clergy, hasn't it?

    I was raised Missionary Baptist and that is just a little bit right of the moderate American Baptist church but nowhwere NEAR the ultraconservative Southern Baptist church with its tight stricture and Pentecostal church with its fundamentalism that prevents women from ever cutting their hair. And in the mountains we even have the snake-handling faiths, which, though rare, are REALLY out there! So I've seen my share of whacked out Christianity.

    Then last summer I joined a Yiddish singing group at our Reform temple. It was great to get away from many of the Christian precepts and a more gay-welcome atmosphere. I thought, Wow, the Jews are soooo much more relaxed. I could convert to this religion. But then....

    One of my friends told me about being at her partner's family home (conservative Jews who practice kosher) and how she accidentally used a meat spoon to stir her coffee, and her partner was racing to hide the spoon lest her mother see it and they have to bury it in the backyard for a year! Suddenly I realized that I am happy to be a cafeteria spiritualist. Snake handling and spoon burying just aren't a part of my religion. icon_wink.gif

    NickoftheNorthThe largest difference between it and other USAmerican Christianities (other than its mythic origins with Joseph Smith and the angel Moroni), is how its structure (I must admit, this is personal speculation) lacks a relationship with / or against the Roman Catholic Church. I believe that the majority of USAmerican Protestant denominations have histories of intimate conflict with the RCC and that the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints does not.


    That is such a fascinating observation. I never once noticed that but you are so right. The Mormon church really sought to define itself and create its own paradigm, and it seems only appropriate that--while it was founded in the East and migrated to the Midwest--it would flower in the West, where all cities and lifestyles were wholly forged as New American lifestyles. Most every city east of the Mississippi River are modeled on the European city ideal, but Western cities are an invention of their own. In the east churches and courthouses are not far apart. In the west there is rarely such city structure. Hence Mormonism would take root in the West as a uniquely American faith that is also steeped in North American mythology and lore.

    As evidenced in this thread, many American Christians don't consider Mormonism to be a Christian faith because it separates from traditional doctrine with the Book of Mormon. Evidently only the ethos of Constantine is the only acceptable dogma. icon_wink.gif
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    Jan 25, 2008 9:08 PM GMT
    I'll take a stab based solely on hunches:

    The more judgemental and strictly-biblical the church, the more ignorant the congregation. The more ignorant the congregation, the more likely they are to be in a lower class bracket. The lower the class bracket, the higher the likelihood of alcoholism.

    Maybe?
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    Jan 25, 2008 9:23 PM GMT
    Religion is, in a of itself, a function of ignorance. That's why it directly correlates into the "red states" where there is high illiteracy. When something does not have a basis in fact (false, or unknown) then it has to be faith. Faith is a fallacy, by definition.

    Ignorant folks are more likely to have false belief systems.

    As well, conformance is typical higher in a smaller community.

    However, in my personal experience, in the more literate Heartland, folks tend to be more forgiving, open-minded, and logical than The South. My personal feeling is that this is because the folks in The North are more highly educated and more live and let live, rather than the fire and brimstone of The South.

    Ignorance, is ignorance, and the "conformance theory" works across 35% of the population, no matter what. Some folks are just inherently weak-minded, and that's going to be the religious folks, no matter what their geographical setting.

    There is, of course, a larger dynamic, in socializing / fellowship, and allowing folks to rationalize certain parts of their lives, and so on, but, religion, at its base, is still a false belief system, no matter what part of the world your in. False is false, irregardless of location.

    I think rural folks have a tendency to give religion a bit less prominence in their lives (they're better educated) than urban folks, and I think they have a tendency to be more live and let live (they just want to be left alone), rather than hateful and intolerant as in the more urban settings.
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    Jan 27, 2008 8:15 AM GMT
    Your question intrigued me. Traditionally, statistics show that catholic countries have more alcohol consumption than protestant countries. Something you (nickofthenorth) should consider in your discussion of this. The culture across denomination is very different, and like one person said, many denominations define themselves as being not-catholic. By the way, the overwhelming opinion I've felt from various discussions on here is very anti-Christian and anti-theistic. So, its no surprise that eb925guy thinks you are threatening Christianity. (Xty for short)

    My experience is that rural people drink more, not because of religion, but because there isn't a darn thing to do out there but stare at the cows and have a beer. I grew up in Wyoming, spent some time in Montana, now I'm in Texas. Wyoming and Montana are not your typical rural Prot states. They have a significant number of RCCs in them, colonial-type religious like the Hutterites, as well as people who don't claim to be religious. Also, my friends who came from strict fundamentalist upbringings that condemned alcohol were more likely to fly wildly in the opposite direction. My RCC friends were the ones who had been drinking since they were 12, knew moderation, and could give me a complete history of wine and beer, the different types, and what was good vs. crap. A friend of mine goes to a RCC college and when I visited him I was impressed to find that the majority detested normal "college" beers (i.e. bud light, keystone, etc) and glorified finer beers (shiner, Guinness, harp, modelo, etc), scowled upon drunkeness, and touted a motto from some saint that they were to drink to hilarity and no further.

    Thus, rural alcohol culture is not something that goes with religion at all, but simply the phrase "idle hands are the devil's playground."

    NickoftheNorth, eb925guy and demarco4u: Mormons claim to be Xians and espouse a doctrine that proclaims Christ. However, the majority of Xian denominations do not include them as a Xian denomination because of their difference in the the doctrine that Jesus is God himself (traditional Trinitarian formula, 3 persons in one being), but that he is literally the son of God (a separate being) whose brother is Satan. Changing the nature of the trinity is changing the nature of the faith itself. Then there's the becoming a god yourself of your own planet... not even going to go there. The structure and practice of the Mormon Church is an evolution of the Masonic rituals that has been "protestant-ized", something else some Prots have issues with, although over all the Masons are accepted by the various denoms. The conflict the Prots have with the RCC is historical and doctrinal. Tradition and Scripture vs Scripture alone, church leadership/hierarchy and papal authority, etc.

    Demarco4u: In regards to Mormonism as an Western American phenomenon, I would join it again to the expansion of Masonic movements in the West and the foundations of America by the Masons. Only a couple of the signers of the declaration were not Masons. (This is beginning to sound like National Treasure, but I assure you, what I say is true as a former masonic youth member.) Also, the rejection of Catholicism, and its conflict with Masons, is built into the founding of America and is argued by some to be the last 'acceptable' prejudice in the country. BTW: the 'ethos of constantine' would be something that Catholics would be associated with much more than prots, considering from Constantine until the end of the Holy Roman Empire and the creation of Germany there is a strong connection between the pope and the emperor.

    XruggerATX: Being from Texas, you should know that's not true. While the lower-incomes have more public drunkenness, it is the middle and upper-middle classes that have the highest drinking and alcoholism because they have the disposible income to do it and they think by drinking they'll appear more affluent.

    chuckystud: Ouch... such biting remarks. Actually, if you refer back to some of my comments above regarding my Catholic friends, they tend to be fairly well-educated in their alcohol selections. This is always accompanied by a large dose of intellectualism that comes from the 2000 year history of the RCC. Catholicism is by its nature and intellectualist religion in that Heaven for them is the Beatific Vision.. namely contemplating God through the intellect because in heaven, the will rests. There is no higher good than God, so there is nothing for the will to reach out towards. It's not a loss of free will, its just the will is totally satisfied. There is no higher joy for them, then that. Only the Catholic Church can claim the Summa Theologica... Aquinas, the greatest and most influential philosopher between Aristotle and Descartes. If you want to check it out www.newadvent.org, it will take you several years to read and is a complete logical proof of the faith beginning with The Existence of God (with five different proofs). So, chucky... I don't know about you, but it doesn't seem to me that religious people are all that ignorant. Oh and just FYI: the poorest and more illiterate places are usually Democrats... example: New Orleans and Louisiana who has one of the worst ed systems in the US. Also, as a psychology student, conformity occurs most commonly in larger groups where there is a deferment of responsibility and in groups with little to no outside influence.
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    Jan 27, 2008 8:36 AM GMT
    As a Psych student... i got to thinking and checked into a psych research database. I'm giving the titles to the articles, many of you could not go to them unless you have a PsychInfo account.

    For history of alcohol consumption in both catholic and protestant circles check out:
    http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/articles/cathprot.htm

    "Beginning from these dominant socio-psychological determinants and in view of changes in the country's present life, the author singles out 4 dominant social attitudes towards alcohol consumption: ritual, participating, utilitarian, and hedonistic."
    - Social attitudes towards drinking in relation to national customs

    "Analyses of variance revealed that students with no religious affiliation reported significantly higher levels of drinking frequency and quantity, getting drunk, celebratory reasons for drinking and perceived drinking norms than those of either Catholic or Protestant religious affiliation, while no significant differences across groups were found for alcohol use problems. Protestants reported significantly higher levels of perceived drinking control than Catholics. Intrinsic religiosity, reflecting one's ego involvement with the tenets of one's religion, appeared to play a more important positive role over drinking behavior for Protestants than for Catholics."
    - Effects of Religion and Religiosity in a College Student Sample (199icon_cool.gif

    "Previous studies demonstrate that alcohol consumption has a distinctive geographical pattern in the United States and in other countries (Smith and Hanham 1982; Powell-Griner, Anderson, and Murphy 1997; SAMHSA 1999, 2005; Nelson and others 2004). In the United States, studies have shown that alcohol consumption is greater in the Northeast, the Midwest, and the West and that consumption tends to be greater in metropolitan areas than in nonmetropolitan areas."
    - Religious affiliation and alcohol consumption in the United States

    "Watching television and reading the newspaper were significant predictors of alcohol use. Watching television had a positive significant effect on alcohol use and abuse; but only in the absence of religiosity. Race did not have a significant effect on alcohol use or abuse."
    - The effects of media exposure on alcohol consumption patterns in African American males.

    "Results indicated that, consistent with the hypotheses, personal attitudes were the strongest mediator of the relationship between importance of religion and alcohol use, followed by the approval of close friends, and, to a lesser extent, the approval of typical college students. Conclusions: These findings suggest that importance of religion may have an indirect effect on alcohol use via personal attitudes and the perceived approval or disapproval of important others, and this relationship varies as a function of reference group. Implications for interventions that incorporate information on social norms are discussed."
    - Attitudes and perceived approval of drinking as mediators of the relationship between the importance of religion and alcohol use.
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    Jan 27, 2008 11:55 PM GMT
    Having lived and worked in 3 different states, Michigan, Midwest rural, and Tennessee/Virginia Rural Mid-south, I've noticed a marked difference in how the two cultures handle booze and churchgoing. In michigan its drinking several beers often, even daily,is as common as eating, and many of these folk go quite frequently to church and have not a 2nd thought about whether the two mix or not. The great share of these regular drinkers, rarely drink to excess. But here in the mid south, its a totally different ballgame, I've heard many a church goer talk about how bad it is up north where "nearly everyone drinks", and how they go to church and wouldn't think of drinking. Then those that do drink seem to have to drink to excess, they seem to not be able to understand that 2 or 3 is enough, and they don't go to church. it is gradually changing though with a large influx of people from other states, who attend church and drink socially all the time. I've noticed Catholics, do their thing even if its getting sloppy drunk, during the week, but gotta go to confession then attend church, then they are right back at it !! Slurp !!! slurp !!!! LOL !!! (a bit of generalizing here but I've found this to be true overall)
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    Jan 28, 2008 5:43 PM GMT
    jocksera said
    Demarco4u: BTW: the 'ethos of constantine' would be something that Catholics would be associated with much more than prots, considering from Constantine until the end of the Holy Roman Empire and the creation of Germany there is a strong connection between the pope and the emperor.


    Interesting comments, jockserra. Clearly you have a great deal of theological study (whether academic or on your own). When I said "ethos of Constantine" I was being a bit glib in addressing dogma. Emperor Constantine, of course, played one of the greatest roles in the canonization of the Christian Bible, causing many decisions to be made about what books were included and accepted. My point was that such decisions are just as arbitrarily made by flawed humans and we can only assume they were divinely inspired, but we cannot qualify nor disqualify them through any sort of standard other than faith. Similarily, how can we say with any authority that Joseph Smith wasn't acting upon divine inspiration? And books of the New Testament and the Book of Mormon are equally unprovable, so anyone who adheres to one and not the other is choosing his dogma.
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    Jan 30, 2008 7:26 AM GMT
    Damarco said

    Interesting comments, jockserra. Clearly you have a great deal of theological study (whether academic or on your own). When I said "ethos of Constantine" I was being a bit glib in addressing dogma. Emperor Constantine, of course, played one of the greatest roles in the canonization of the Christian Bible, causing many decisions to be made about what books were included and accepted. My point was that such decisions are just as arbitrarily made by flawed humans and we can only assume they were divinely inspired, but we cannot qualify nor disqualify them through any sort of standard other than faith. Similarily, how can we say with any authority that Joseph Smith wasn't acting upon divine inspiration? And books of the New Testament and the Book of Mormon are equally unprovable, so anyone who adheres to one and not the other is choosing his dogma.


    Thanks, that was probably the nicest and most respectful thing anyone has said to be on here so far. icon_biggrin.gif Theology is more of a companion hobby to the study of philosophy, since most of history, from Greek to Medieval, to the Modern and Post-modern, the two of them have been tied together. Also, having been a DeMolay member growing up, I learned a lot about the Freemasons and groups such as the Mormons that have their roots in the fraternity.

    Regarding the Bible, interestingly enough, as early as the 90s and 100s you find references to collections of Paul's letters and the sharing of documents among the local churches. By the end of the 2nd century, beginning of the 3rd, the canon known today in the RCC (minus 7 books in the Prot canon) was already accepted in most areas of Xty. Whether you accept it as divine working or not (I'm a skeptic, so I take it with the skeptic's grain of salt), it is very improbable for a coincidental dispersion and general acceptance of the same canon by multiple people in different parts within the same time period presumably with little direct contact as to the formation of said canon... nevertheless is witnessed in history. Constantine wanted it officially canonized as part of his systemization of the Xian beliefs and refutation of "heretical" doctrines which were causing problems politically in the empire. That whole period is very interesting historically.

    The issue of divine inspiration and adherence to a canon still splits Xty. Some say pick and choose, others all or nothing. Some say literal dictation by God, others say total work of man, others say 100% of both God and man working in cooperation. Some say the Septuagint canon (46 books) others the Pharasaic canon (39 books) and some add the book of Mormon. It's all a matter of faith, just like the authority of the Koran or the Talmud, or any other holy book.

    Whatever you choose, religion must have two checks:
    1)Just like in philosophy, a system of religion must have total internal consistency (it can't logically deny itself aka God can't make a stone so big he can't lift it).
    2)Further since its a religion and religions deal with Eternal truths (meaning never changing and universal), a religion must have historical consistency in that a stated doctrine cannot be removed or disproven although it can be developed or understood more thoroughly.

    That is my most basic philosophical stance on religion and how one can judge the "divine" influence within a religion.

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    Jan 30, 2008 7:27 AM GMT
    Haven't heard much from nickofthenorth... what do you think about all this?
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    Jan 30, 2008 7:36 AM GMT
    The drunker the hick the closer to Jeeeesus!
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    Jan 30, 2008 7:49 AM GMT
    Having grown up in NC and being the son of a Southern Missionary Baptist preacher, I made a few observations of my own. The first one is, despite teaching in church that alcohol is evil and must be avoided, many of the people in positions of authority within the church would show up at the local convenience store on Sunday afternoon to by a few six-packs, sometimes a couple cases, of beer... along with the latest Hustler magazine, which they also taught was evil and must be avoided. Of course, when this practice is questioned, you'll usually get "do as I say do, not as I do" as a response. icon_rolleyes.gif

    The other observation I made was that, once these particular Christians had downed a few brewskis... they became excessively religious. Plenty of shouts of "Dear Jesus" and "Oh sweet Lord" and "Praise Jesus" would suddenly begin erupting at the slightest amount of excitement and would get progressively louder in direct correlation to the number of beers consumed. Of course, there was always the saturation point... or as I called it, the "God" point... which was always accompanied by a long string of excessively slurred swear words, punctuated frequently with "goddam".

    Odd how that worked...
  • NickoftheNort...

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    Jan 30, 2008 9:27 AM GMT
    Well, let's just get onto the responses:

    re: Matterych
    I was a bit surprised by Ash Wednesday myself. I was raised in a Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran society myself, though with fairly lax indoctrination; yet, when I lived in Florida, I attended a private Roman Catholic high school (it was the closest available school).
    However, I love ritual and ritual aesthetics and enjoyed seeing fellow persons participate in such a visible marking. Instead of finding alternative rituals "weird," I work to understand them in terms of components and how those components provide meaning for those involved. I was a bit more adverse to the sacrament of confession, as I witnessed the pressuring of students (by authoritative figures, nuns and religion teachers) into confessing their sins to the priests.
    Thankfully, my family made it clear in the beginning and I made it clear during my time there that I was Lutheran and therefore would not necessarily participate in RC rituals.

    re: jprichva
    Many rituals will probably fail to stand up to detailed scrutiny, such as the praying on the rosary or the utterance of specific prayers following a confession. Rituals, particularly religious rituals, are, in my understanding, developed and designed for the irrational aspects of humans and human life.
    Rituals with strong designs and ties to the lives of humans they apply to are to provide a sense of meaning to their participants.
    Some rituals may either lose meaning over time or may even have been developed at a time when the persons in charge (or claiming to be in charge) found meaningful connections between seemingly unrelated objects or aspects.
    Not to be glib, but it reminds of a weekend three years ago where I suffered a horrible fever and nerve inflammation without medicine (outside of NiQuil). During that fever I started thinking about the entire world and particularly my body in terms of basic geometric shapes and how those shapes...were...in...everything(!). If my faith leaned toward the divine, I believe I would have found divine meaning in that suffering and might have tried to draw something from it to put into my larger divinity-based worldview.
    Any ritual devised off of fever-induced geometric shapes would probably not make sense to a majority of people.

    re: McGay
    Does that mean whiskey then? Rum?

    re: Damarco
    As I can recall, the canonization procedure started before Constantine's appropriation of Christianity as part of his semi-divine identification. The Council of Nicea was the first significant gathering that established the Mediterranean canon (I am uncertain of if and how the Coptic canon relates with RCC- and Orthodox-derived Christianities).
    IMO, the effective ritualization of letting loose before a prodigal return is a classic and smart move for the Mormons and Pentecostals. Slacking the reins and allowing for self-exploration and self-development would help provide the persons involved the room they may desire.

    re: XRuggerATX
    I would be wary of using the term ignorant, given that it is highly value-laden and an abused term in contemporary US discussions; it is also a term that is used as a catch-all instead of being applied specifically (such as being ignorant vis-a-vis being ignorant of early French Renaissance culture). Replace with "irrational," and I am more inclined to agree.
    However, keeping persons irrationally ignorant is a tactic, not simply of religious authoritarians, but of authoritarians and power-claimers at large. By invoking someone's irrationality, one can charge that person with ignoring certain knowledges or ideas (such as the scientific theory of evolution, empiricial science, and religious doctines).

    re: chuckystud
    As with XRuggerATX, replace "ignorance" with "irrational" and I will be more inclined to concur. "Ignorant," in terms of lacking knowledge, can rightly be applied to any knowledge, such as being ignorant of the geo-socio-cultural landscape of Iraq, being ignorant of USAmerican Christian denominations and doctrine, or being ignorant of USAmerican and European wines and their distinctions.
    Irrationality is not the purview of religious persons and persons of faith, though; it also applies to the larger LGBTQ backlash against people and issues of faith at large in response to anti-LGBTQ Christian authorianism (which we can find in a few of these forum threads)*. On a personal note, I believe that human irrationality is far more prevalent within us than our capacity for rationality, as seen in how messy we function as a social species.
    I am slightly confuddled by your geographical distinctions though, in terms of the North / South divide and the rural / urban divide. Is not the USAmerican South more rural than the North? Or do you mean that rural areas in both the South and the North are more relaxed and that urban areas in both the South and the North are more high-strung on faith?

    *for those who may be upset with this: I am not equalizing the morality of the two, as I believe that Christian authoritarianism is a function of a dangerous form of modern Romanticism, decadent and destructive to our achievements in terms of our overall acknowledgement and acceptance of members of our species. However, when you voice your opposition against Christianity, please be specific in who you are upset with rather than casting an all-encompassing net.

    Okay now, time for breakfast before I get onto the last few replies.