Religiosity is no guarantee of good behavior and may even distract people from the (highly educational) earthly consequences of their (un)ethical decisions. And yet: religion provides an important enough socializing function for many people that we should not throw out the community-building and morals-inculcating baby with the superstitious and myth-spewing bathwater.
That’s one of the cautious thoughts that makes me in some sense a social conservative of sorts even while being an atheist (and anarchist, etc.). The question, then, becomes whether I should put my money where my mouth is by joining one of those churchlike-without-God sorts of organizations like Ethical Culture or some Humanist Society or something (forgive me if I’ve completely misrepresented their views, but you know what I mean).
Unfortunately, those organizations, judged from afar, appear to tend to be embarrassing mushy liberal/socialist New Agey Unitarian sorts of affairs – another argument for traditionalism, though not ultimately one strong enough to overcome the fact that there is no God. Also, I’m busy.
1. Tomorrow (Monday, Oct. 1) 7pm sees the NYSalon crowd (including some reformed Marxists) discussing the reformed-or-mushy state of American “spirituality” – with all its “I’m not into religion, but I’m very spiritual” weirdness – at a panel discussion at the New School (55 W. 13th, 2nd floor), and I’ll check that out.
2. Dawn Eden’s talk at the First Things HQ a couple weeks ago was ecumenical in its own way, given her Jewish upbringing and rock n’ roll reporter past, despite what an admirable job she does of hewing to the rules of her adopted Catholic religion (no relativist she).
But that was during this blog’s now-ending “Month of Reform,” whereas October shall be: a “Month of Media.” That means more rock, less talk (well, also several interesting movies, so let’s focus on those instead of the exhausting election, in a surprise bit of counter-programming).
3. Eclectic in his own way – and bearded – is Dawn’s pal, First Things editor David Mills, who started out leftist and union-affiliated before going all Gandalf. I suspect you will hear of him again on this blog as it navigates an increasingly strange and kaleidoscopic future.
4. Happily for the Jews (converted to Catholicism or otherwise), Sukkot tonight coincides with the Fox Animation Domination season premieres, as G-d wants humanity to celebrate, or would if He existed.
5. Like many people, I highly recommend the gently and quietly Scientology-parodying movie The Master, which certainly captures the tension between the dangers of gullibility and the benefits (at least for those adrift) of structure, almost any structure.
6. Amidst Middle Eastern craziness from the Muslim folk,