Monday, April 6, 2015

574: Religion still is a modern political tool

Today not exactly a philosophical lecture, but more a lecture on what is going on right now in the world, which scares the hell out of an atheist, I assume.
And not only an atheist, but everyone who has some doubts about the benefits of religions.
The first thing I’d like to mention is what I read in my newspaper this morning. It was a report of the presentation of the first official candidate for presidency in the United States.
It was Ted Cruz, a right wing Republican from Texas. He is 44 and was elected for the Senate in 2012. And as the article says:”He immediately stood out by his aggressive style.”
When you combine this with what he said: ”Our rights are not from man but from God Almighty.”, you can imagine,
that I felt a little relieved, when I read: “As an exponent of radical right Cruz is not currently considered a major contender.”
But there is another example, where religion is used for political goals. China and India, the two superpowers of Asia, are contending for influence in the region. 
They are not trying to gain this influence by showing off with intimidating military power, but by use of the soft force of religion.
So both countries try through promotion of their Buddhist heritage to win allies in the predominantly Buddhist countries in East and Southeast Asia.
The lndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known as a very religious Hindu. You may wonder why he is willing to promote Buddhism and not his own Hinduism.
There are two explanations. For many Hindus Buddha is an avatar of the god Vishnu, which makes him a member of the Hindu pantheon. 
Modi is a follower of a kind of Hinduism, that easily incorporates aspects of other religions, except christianity and islam.
The second explanation is that Hinduism is too much India, could even be regarded as Indian imperialism, where Buddhism is the more widespread religion in the region.
The method is to pay attention to Buddhism at every possible occasion to imprint the ideas upon the public, 
like in Russia the public gets to watch Putin every day on TV. General marketing techniques, I would say.
In 28 years Modi is the first prime minister of India who recently visited Sri Lanka again. And what does he do? 
He pays  a visit to Anuradhapura. the most important Buddhist pilgrimage on the island.
The attention to Buddhism is a part India's diplomatic strategy since about four years , and thus it all stems already from before Modi.
However, it is not an originally Indian idea. It was a reaction to policies of China. Beijing, that has a rich Buddhist past has started about ten years ago,
by loaning religious objects to countries in the region for exhibitions and organizing international conferences on Buddhist themes.
One problem for China is the Dalai Lama, the official spiritual leader of Buddhism and exiled from Tibet to India. And as we know, Tibet is a big political problem for Beijing.
One of the problems is the next Dalai Lama, for he has to be a reincarnation of the present one. But the present one has said on many occasions, that he is not willing to reincarnate in China.
And most peculiar is, that the atheist communist party wants to direct this proces of reincarnation. Chinese bureaucrats justify this by referring to historical traditions.
In 1799 the Chinese emperor Qianlong set the rules for reincarnation in consultation with the Tibetan ruler. When there is more than one candidate, the choice is determined by lot.
Slips of paper with the names on it were dropped in a golden urn under supervision of a government official. Then the name picked from the urn was the reincarnation of the previous Lama.
And it now happens to be, that such a golden urn exists in the Yonghegong temple in Beijing. This temple is the biggest Tibetan temple outside Tibet.
In 2007 there even seem to have been created legislation to specify the juridical procedures regarding reincarnation.
In case of reincarnation on village temple level you need approval of the municipal Bureau of Religious Affairs.
It is 2015. The separation of church and state was declared in 1795 in The Netherlands, which was then named the Batavian Republic.
And while Allah still rules in the Arabic world, is Buddha promoted in the China - India region and is god offered a job in the US, if he votes for Ted Cruz.
Thank you….. the floor is yours… ^_^

The Discussion

Max Chatnoir: legislating reincarnation seems quite strange.
herman Bergson: Such a weird story indeed Max....
Bejiita Imako: hmm
Max Chatnoir: It's like predicting who your kid will be.
CB Axel: I heard the Dali Lama is thinking of not reincarnating right away just to show up China.
Max Chatnoir: Although I guess that is part of the Jesus story.
herman Bergson: As it is weird that a Dalai LAma tells us that he doesn’t want to reincarnate in China...
Max Chatnoir: He can't reincarnate while he is alive, can he?
CB Axel: No, but apparently he doesn't have to come back immediately.
Max Chatnoir: And how does that work if he picks a successor?
herman Bergson: noono...he has to die for that :-)
Max Chatnoir: Oh, maybe it's after he dies that the candidates are chosen?
CB Axel: He doesn't pick a successor.
CB Axel: Yes.
herman Bergson: Yes...
herman Bergson: the procedure is like this...
Max Chatnoir: OK, I see.  So he can't solve the problem by dying without an heir.
herman Bergson: after his death monks go searching for a child...a special child....
CB Axel: He's celebate, I believe.
herman Bergson: and for some reason they KNOW which child is the reincarnation...
Max Chatnoir: I think so.
Bejiita Imako: ah
Max Chatnoir: So somebody gets to be regent while the kid grows up.
Max Chatnoir: well, clearly it's Ted Cruz!
herman Bergson: I have no knowledge of the details ...
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lol Max
herman Bergson: Oh my....! Max
CB Axel: He's not a ruler. He's just a priest, so he's taken to be raised by monks, if I remember correctly.
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): poor child...
Bejiita Imako: ehehe
herman Bergson: yes I think so too CB...
Bejiita Imako: hmm indeed i d not want to be selected like that just because
Max Chatnoir: true.  I guess the Dalai Lama is more of a role model than a dictator.
Bejiita Imako: might be
herman Bergson: in a way it is a constructed situation....prefab...:-)
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): You are save bejiita I suppose you are not a child anymore...
CB Axel: Anyway, people are using religion to sway our votes.
herman Bergson: The Dalai Lama has no political role at all....
Bejiita Imako: he is like the king in Sweden
herman Bergson: he is something like the pope in roman catholic church is
Bejiita Imako: just a commercial figure
CB Axel: And it's not just atheists that need to worry. It's anyone who doesn't subscribe to the ruling religion.
CB Axel: Good analogy, herman.
herman Bergson: Indeed CB...
Bejiita Imako: ah
Max Chatnoir: Can the Dalai Lama speak ex cathedra, like the pope?
herman Bergson: Yes ..he often does
herman Bergson: And then a lot of people think that it is very special what he says...:-)
Max Chatnoir: No kidding!  So he can sort of set policy?
herman Bergson: Oh yes...
herman Bergson: As an exile from Tibet....he has a political connotation...
Max Chatnoir: But if he started spouting actual evil, what would happen?
CB Axel: I follow the Dalai Lama and the Pope on Twitter. °͜°
Max Chatnoir: The pope is on Twitter?
Max Chatnoir: No!
herman Bergson: Buddhism is a non violent religion Max....
Bejiita Imako: yes he is
CB Axel: Yes. Of course.
herman Bergson: He would never suggested the use of violence
Bejiita Imako: I like Buddhism indeed
CB Axel: Everyone who is anyone is on Twitter. LOL
Max Chatnoir: So the Dalai Lama can't go beyond the Buddhist traditions.
herman Bergson: Then I am nobody CB, for I am not on Twitter :-))
CB Axel: Max, since he's raised by Buddhist monks, the thought of violence is probably abhorrent to him.
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): me either...
Max Chatnoir: I would hope so.
herman Bergson: He is the spiritual leader of Buddhism, Max, not a political figure
CB Axel: But because he's Tibetan, he has become political.
Max Chatnoir: Because he is in exile.
herman Bergson: That IS the tricky part indeed
herman Bergson: Btu as far as I know he never has interferred with the political issues between Tibet and China
CB Axel: I think all he's done is express hope that Tibet will become free from China.
herman Bergson: yes, could be
herman Bergson: But what I wanted to show you today was, how religion still is used by political powers to their ends
Max Chatnoir: I'm thinking of a Jeb Bush/ Ted Cruz ticket..... I can't imagine anything scarier, except maybe Cruz/ Palin.  But it's not impossible.
herman Bergson: Cruz/Palin.....OMG!
CB Axel: I can't understand why American Christians are so afraid of sharia law when they want to imposed their own version of it.
Bejiita Imako: hehe
Max Chatnoir: Which is what is so scary.
CB Axel: I'd love a Cruz/Palin ticket because I don't think they'd get elected.
Max Chatnoir: Well, you have a point.
herman Bergson: You know what the most rroublesome is MAx...
herman Bergson: The Americans get the president they vote for...
CB Axel: Oh, yes. We have the congress we deserve, I'm sad to say.
Max Chatnoir: I don't know what the democrats are going to do.  There are still a lot of people who hate Hilary because she is a Clinton and because she is a she.
CB Axel: I'd like to see a Clinton/Warren ticket. °͜°
Max Chatnoir: I can't see her getting elected.
Max Chatnoir: Ah, there is an interesting idea.
CB Axel: Double barreled estrogen!
herman Bergson: Women have been great presidents....
Max Chatnoir: But TWO women would really bring out the crazies.
herman Bergson: Whatever you may think about her but MAgret Thatcher was THE woman....
herman Bergson: and now in Germany..Angela Merkel rules the waves
herman Bergson: So I think it is time for the US after a non Caucasian president, that there should be a woman
CB Axel: I love when I hear people ask, "Is America ready for a woman president?"
herman Bergson: lol
CB Axel: Every other country in the world seems to be ready.
CB Axel: Why not the US?
herman Bergson: I would nt mind a second....
Max Chatnoir: Takes us a while to catch up.  After all, we're only a few hundred years old!  :-)
CB Axel: LOL
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): a strong woman like Angela for the Us:)
Bejiita Imako: hehee
herman Bergson: YEs MAx...that may be the are still too young for so many tings :-)
herman Bergson: things
Max Chatnoir: Hope we don't suffer from infant mortality.
CB Axel: When I compare the US with Europe I always feel like we're the youngest kid on the playground.
CB Axel: But we're also the biggest, so we get to be the bully.
herman Bergson: with the biggest mouth then CB :-)
CB Axel: Too true. :(
herman Bergson: Not really....
CB Axel: Maybe it's about time we got beat up.
herman Bergson: I may question a lot of things....
Bejiita Imako: the problem is US seems to think they own the entire planet sometimes
herman Bergson: but in WWII the American young boys came to Europe..
CB Axel: And we won't let Europe forget it.
CB Axel: I agree, Bejiita.
CB Axel: I guess the problem is with me, though. I'm not cut out to be part of a super power.
CB Axel: I'd rather be part of a group of nations working together.
herman Bergson: Well...I think it is more a matter of money...
Bejiita Imako: ah
CB Axel: I blame Star Trek for giving me that outlook.
Bejiita Imako: hehehe
Max Chatnoir: There is a brouhaha in Texas about putting the confederate flag on license plates.
herman Bergson: American capital is invested all over the world....and it has to be protected...
Max Chatnoir: Yes, Star Trek was a political educator for a generation.  :-)
Bejiita Imako: its good stuff indeed
Bejiita Imako:
CB Axel: Star Trek or American capital?
Max Chatnoir: Star Trek.
herman Bergson: Star Trek was revolutionary....a Woman as captain of Voyager!!
Max Chatnoir: Yes, the whole main series was wonderful.
herman Bergson: and then that pseudo spiritual nuthead of a chekotay as her first officer :-)
Bejiita Imako: ah
Max Chatnoir: Well, he didn't do too much damage.
herman Bergson: No...Janeway was the boss :-))
Bejiita Imako: syre was
Bejiita Imako: sure
Bejiita Imako: ehehe
herman Bergson: I love her role in the series
Bejiita Imako: ah
Bejiita Imako: indeed
CB Axel: She was the Angela Merkle of the time.
Max Chatnoir: Janeway for president!
Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
herman Bergson: Indeed CB lol
Bejiita Imako: hehe
Max Chatnoir: Spock can be secretary of state.
Bejiita Imako:
herman Bergson: Quite logical
CB Axel: We almost had Spock as president in the form of Al Gore.
Max Chatnoir: Yes, if the Supremes had stayed out it, we might have.
CB Axel: But can we get back to how religion is shaping politics?
Max Chatnoir: Yes, please.
herman Bergson smiles
Bejiita Imako:
herman Bergson: Well...number one is your Ted Cruz....
CB Axel: I'm getting fed up with people trying to tell me how to live my life based on a book of fairy tales.
Max Chatnoir: I think to some extent, politics is exploiting religion.
Max Chatnoir: The republicans have been sucking up to the religious right for decades, and I don't think it has done them a lot of good.
herman Bergson: definitely....that was the meaning of my lecture today
Max Chatnoir: The crazy people used to be democrats -- like George Wallace.
Bejiita Imako: religion + politics = BAD COMBINATION!
CB Axel: I'm still hoping Cruz gets eliminated for being born in Canada.
CB Axel: I want to see his birth certificate.
herman Bergson: Indeed bejiita :-)
CB Axel: I agree Bejiita.
Bejiita Imako: only outcome of a such combo is armageddon
Bejiita Imako: sort of
Max Chatnoir: I just hope we can keep it out of the constitution.
herman Bergson: Tat our rights come from god almighty scares me like hell
Bejiita Imako: (shudders)
herman Bergson: A president saying that!!
CB Axel: I don't mind people using their religious beliefs to help them decide who to vote for, but they shouldn't force their beliefs on every one.
Bejiita Imako: true CB
Max Chatnoir: That was pretty scary, but not much worse than Nancy Reagan's astrologer.
Max Chatnoir: It's been creeping up for some time.
CB Axel: Oh! I forgot about her. LOL
Bejiita Imako:
herman Bergson: She had an astrologer, Max?
Max Chatnoir: I think she consulted one from time to time.
Max Chatnoir: I don't think he or she was there for breakfast every day.
CB Axel: If a person's religion is against abortion, then that person shouldn't have an abortion, but don't take that away from everyone else.
herman Bergson: There you misunderstand the meaning of religion, CB
Max Chatnoir: Yes, just when we really need population control, we seem to be doing everything we can to make it difficult.
CB Axel: If a person believes homosexuality is a sin, then they should not be homosexual.
herman Bergson: oops...that is harder to achieve :-)
Bejiita Imako: hehe
herman Bergson: The problem with a religion is its epistemological basis....
CB Axel: How is abortion at least partially not a religious thing.
Max Chatnoir: I had a student once who was determined to "get over it".  I often wonder what became of him.
herman Bergson: Abortion is just a biological and ethical thing...
Max Chatnoir: Yes, once you stray away from reason and evidence, anything can happen.
herman Bergson: But ethics is not the private property of religion(s)
CB Axel: Yes, but many Christians say life begins at conception according to the bible.
herman Bergson: Well not according to the manual of my computer...
Max Chatnoir: Well, life begins 3.8 billion years ago.  After that, the line gets tricky.
Max Chatnoir: We clearly don't object just to killing.  Texas does it several times a year.
CB Axel: If life begins at conception, why do they celebrate their birthday on the day they were removed from their mothers' bodies and not on the day she got pregnant?
CB Axel: That's the big contradiction, Max.
Bejiita Imako: hmm
herman Bergson: Interesting observation CB :-)
Bejiita Imako: never thought about that
Bejiita Imako:
herman Bergson: My birthday is September 15....
herman Bergson: so minus 9 months....
herman Bergson: My parents jhad a great New years party.....:-)
Max Chatnoir: :-)
CB Axel: I'm going to start celebrating celebrating my birthday in November.
Bejiita Imako:
CB Axel: LOL, herman.
CB Axel: I'm going to insist my family sends me "mom got knocked up day" cards.
herman Bergson: I gonna celebrate on January 1st
CB Axel: Cool! There will be parties all over the world for you then!
Max Chatnoir: That will run you into Christmas, Hermann.
Max Chatnoir: Better stick with September.  :-)
herman Bergson: Yes...when my delivery was a few weeks overdue....
CB Axel: Yeah, early January birthdays mean fewer presents.
herman Bergson: My mom was knocked up in a stable in the hay :-)
CB Axel: !
Max Chatnoir: Reincarnation!
herman Bergson: Nice expression 'knocked up'
Bejiita Imako: hehe
CB Axel: Now that I think about it, I was a month early, so I guess my parents had a happy Christmas.
herman Bergson: So maybe I am Jesus...:-))))
Bejiita Imako: hehehe
Bejiita Imako: maybee
CB Axel: And atheist Jesus. That'll be hard for people to wrap their heads around.
herman Bergson: Yes stick to MAYBE, Bejiita...:-)
Bejiita Imako: lol
herman Bergson: Well...we covered a lot of ground today...making me end up as Jesus himself...:-)
Bejiita Imako: hahaa
CB Axel: Having an atheist Jesus could change American politics quite a bit.
Max Chatnoir: That's what meddling in American politics will do to you, Herman.
CB Axel: LOL, herman
Bejiita Imako: it always takes an interesting turn
herman Bergson: I'll think about it CB.....:-)
Bejiita Imako: hahaha
CB Axel: I can't believe you beat Ted Cruz to being Jesus.
Bejiita Imako: hahaha
herman Bergson: No..he is closer to god...
Bejiita Imako: Herman is a better jesus for sure!
Bejiita Imako:
herman Bergson: Time to dismiss class....
CB Axel: It is late.
Bejiita Imako:
herman Bergson: if we go on like this I have to take off to heaven :-)
Bejiita Imako: hehe
Max Chatnoir: Yes, I must unlock my door now.
CB Axel: Thank you all for the discussion.
Max Chatnoir: Hi, Riger!
Max Chatnoir: Roger.
Roger Amdahl: Good evening all
herman Bergson: there....the gates of heaven are opended again :-)
Bejiita Imako:
herman Bergson: Hello Roger....
herman Bergson: victim of the Daylight saving time shift?
Max Chatnoir: See you all next week.
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): hi Roger
CB Axel: Oh, Bejiita, did you hear the LHC has been delayed?
Bejiita Imako: yes heard now recently
herman Bergson: And there were rumors about another new particle...
Bejiita Imako: a magnet have shorted out
Bejiita Imako: i looked forward to it starting tomorrow
CB Axel: Yes. So now they have to warm up the magnets again, find the short and cool them again.
CB Axel: I did, too.
Bejiita Imako: yes
Bejiita Imako: thats the prob with superconductors
Bejiita Imako: takes forever to fix them
CB Axel nods
Bejiita Imako: and so typical this close to startup
CB Axel: Well, I'm going to head home.
Bejiita Imako: well cu soon
herman Bergson: Thank you alll for your attention again :-)
Bejiita Imako: bye all
herman Bergson: Bye Bejiita
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): tc Bejiita
CB Axel: Thank you, herman, and everyone. This was a fun discussion even if we didn't eliminate religion from politics.
CB Axel: Bye, bye everyone.
Bejiita Imako:
Bejiita Imako: bye
herman Bergson: That will take some centuries, CB
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): have a goodnight

herman Bergson: See you, Beertje ^_^

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