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Huh. Via utforsker. Equally offensive to mainstream Monotheists and Pagans. Yet possessed of a very discomfiting bit of truth. Thoughts, anyone?

Also, today is the 7-year anniversary of my first day working at this organization. Why does this make me queasy?

Some people get motion-sick; I get inertia-sick.

Comments

chadu
Feb. 22nd, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC)
Apologies -- I didn't mean actual physical printing on a page for "texts," but rather "orthodoxy/heterodoxy" (or, as some folks in the particular faith might call it, "truth/lies.")

"Og is sky god. Husband of Marga, earth goddess."
"No, Og married to Agram, lake goddess!"
"Heretic!"

Concepts of individual gnosis are, likewise, much younger than what we'd recognize as religion.

I think all religions started in a moment of individual gnosis, which was taken and systematized as the one single absolute truth.

CU
_blackjack_
Feb. 22nd, 2005 11:42 pm (UTC)
"Og is sky god. Husband of Marga, earth goddess."
"No, Og married to Agram, lake goddess!"
"Heretic!"


But that sort of thing was remarkably uncommon in the ancient world. Even early Judaism tended more towards "you're special, so don't do the things those nasty Canaanites do," rather than "those nasty Canaanites believe the wrong things." The idea that contradictory things could not simultaneously be true is a fairly recent one, explaining why the redactors of the Bible had not problem with including contradictory versions of the same stories. Ancient religions (and a few modern ones, like Hinduism) had a rather relaxed attitude towards religious "facts." They were open to new gods, or to identifying new gods with old ones, and saw no conflict in accepting contrary traditions.

One example that bugged me a lot as a kid was that Perseus was supposed to have turned Atlas to stone, but Herakles, a DESCENDANT of Perseus, meets up with a decidedly unpetrified Atlas later on. For that matter, nobody could seem to agree on the roster of the 12 Olympians. There were always 12, and stories where one god would give up their place to make room for another, but WHICH 12 gods was never consistent.

Some cultures had similar approaches to history, I might add. The Egyptians had no problem with attributing the same deeds to Pharaohs centuries apart.

So the idea of "you heretic, I kill you!" (as opposed to "you talk funny, I kill you!" or "I want you stuff, I kill you!") was not too common in antiquity. The only exception would be advocating PRACTICES which were disruptive to society. You didn't have to BELIEVE in Iuppiter, but you'd better not tell people not to give money to the state temple.
chadu
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:22 am (UTC)
Hmmm. So would you argue that monotheism supported the development of formal logic? Or that monotheism reinforces the concept of Platonic Ideals?

CU
_blackjack_
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:31 am (UTC)
I'd say that both could be manifestations of a movement towards absolutist epistemology, but monotheism can and does exist free of formal logic, as in Upanishadic Hinduism.
chadu
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:44 am (UTC)
Interesting. Must ponder. Thanks!

CU
_blackjack_
Feb. 23rd, 2005 12:16 am (UTC)
I think all religions started in a moment of individual gnosis, which was taken and systematized as the one single absolute truth.

Well, saying it don't make it so. The evidence shows very little emphasis on individual, as opposed to collective, religious experience until the 1st millennium BCE, and even then, it tended to quickly become a collective movement. Witness the emergence of Mahayana Buddhism. Arguably, the more individual aspects were simply not well-preserved in largely illiterate societies, but I'd say that the tendency for movement from individualism to collectivism argues that individual gnosis hasn't had a major part to play. Consider that Protestant Christianity, which ostensibly emphasizes personal experince of God and scripture, has become every bit as much a clergy-directed, church-focused affair as Catholicism.
tripoli
Feb. 23rd, 2005 01:34 am (UTC)
Blackjack, your posts just made my brain do a little happy-flippy thing. Let me sleep a few hours and I definitely want to get back to this,
chadu
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:24 am (UTC)
Wouldn't you consider the experiences of Abraham and Moses to fit the bill of individual gnosis, then formalized?

That's part of what I was thinking here.

CU
_blackjack_
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:34 am (UTC)
Only if they happened as narrated, which obviously they didn't. The Torah was the compilation of centuries of shared tradition, not a singular revelation.
chadu
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:48 am (UTC)
Not willing to credit any moment of individual gnosis at the root of these elements?

The burning bush seems to me to be pretty indicative, even if an entire religion sprouted up aroound it and co-opted or vetted accepted tribal custom.

CU
_blackjack_
Feb. 23rd, 2005 03:06 am (UTC)
Not willing to credit any moment of individual gnosis at the root of these elements?

Not when their development is pretty easily traceable as a natural progression fueled by political, historical and social forces. It's worth noting that the roles of Abraham, Jacob, and Moses (and Noah and Enoch) in Judaism changed over time, as various tribes and culture-heores waxed and waned in influence.
splifford
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:53 pm (UTC)
there's a shrub that grows in Israel and surrounding areas in Asia called False Dittany that exudes a flammable gas and has been known to spontaneously combust if it's hot enough. :-)
chadu
Feb. 23rd, 2005 03:16 pm (UTC)
So, sort of like the frat boys of the botantical world?

Spiffy.

CU
_blackjack_
Feb. 24th, 2005 01:07 am (UTC)
Or, it could just be a story somebody made up. I personally find attempts to concoct rational explanations for mythological events to be an underestimation of human creativity.

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