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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:11 pm 
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Jorodryn wrote:
waffle wrote:
Jorodryn wrote:
Does that make sense?


No, it does not. Because the heart of your argument is equating a depiction of a classical roman deity with Jesus. And as Kitoba eloquently pointed out, that is a false equivalence. Put simply, you have not put forth a compelling case that these two are equal. And from there, your argument falls apart.


from a secular point of view they should be treated as equal.


So you keep saying. And so you keep failing to convince us. Burden of proof and all.

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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:55 pm 
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The point is promoting religion, not putting up religious symbols. And AFAIK the promoting part is banned by the US constitution, not the use of religious symbols per se.

You either have to convince us, that thoose who put up christian symbols in the contemporary US are not in fact try to promote their religion and that it is by more then a neglegible minority sees as being something other then promoting a religion.

Or that thoose who put up Justitia do so, to promote a religion, or more then a neglegible minority does indeed interpret the statues as promotion of a religion.

And teachers are forbidden to publically in school call Jesus in prayer, but they are allowed to say "Sweet Jesus, why did you do that?" and similiar things. Because the name Jesus does not matter but the context you use it in.

Or do you argue, that boxing matches should be baanned, because beating up your spouse is forbidden and after all both is a fistfight?

Regarding your statement about change:
First i did in the past argue here for group marriages so that prospect does not frighten me. But in general, there is little point for planning in advance what changed will happen in a later generation. Such extrapolations seldom become true anyway.

Re the religious knowledge test. I got 29. Interestingly i got all the court rulings right, even though i have no idea about them, by simply guessing what i would rule in that case. As explaination for the different scores, there are a few factors i see:
People who don't bother about religion, most likely stick to the religion of their family, because why should they cause trouble about something, they don't care about. And religious minorities (who see themselfs as minority) will be better informed, because there the parents have to tell their kids, why they are different from the others.

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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:21 pm 
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31/32. But I'm not sure how much relevance this quiz actually has. It has a mixture of history, civics and world affairs, but almost nothing about the actual tenets or beliefs of any given religion. And it's also a little misleading to note that atheists score better on it, in as much as it's basically a survey of knowledge across religions. A person could be very well versed in their own religious tradition, and still score poorly on this test.

I'd also note that the Mormon results might be also be misleading, for the following reason: From the Mormon perspective, their church is a part of the larger Christian church, and therefore Protestant history is a part of Mormon history, just as pre-Reformation Catholic history is a part of Protestant history. But most Catholics and mainstream Protestants don't consider Mormons to be Christians, and therefore would not include Mormon history in their sphere of Christian religious knowledge.

@Jorodryn: I think the root question is from where are you drawing your principle of fairness, and why do you assume it's the relevant secular principle here?

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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:24 pm 
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kitoba wrote:
But I'm not sure how much relevance this quiz actually has. It has a mixture of history, civics and world affairs, but almost nothing about the actual tenets or beliefs of any given religion. And it's also a little misleading to note that atheists score better on it, in as much as it's basically a survey of knowledge across religions. A person could be very well versed in their own religious tradition, and still score poorly on this test.

I mainly brought it up because it illustrated a general lack of religious knowledge, even among adherents, which related to what you were discussing, but I agree that it would have been nice it actually included questions about their teachings.

kitoba wrote:
From the Mormon perspective, their church is a part of the larger Christian church, and therefore Protestant history is a part of Mormon history, just as pre-Reformation Catholic history is a part of Protestant history.

Sort of. Protestantism certainly brought about the circumstances which permitted Mormonism's origination, but Mormons consider themselves to be Christian primitivists, not an offshoot of Protestantism. Protestants broke away from the Catholic church in order to reform it. Mormons consider their religion to be a restoration of the primitive Christian church, not a group that broke away from Protestants.

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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:28 pm 
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31 as well. I concur with kitoba -- this quiz is a really poor test of actual knowledge of these religions. There were, what, 4-ish questions that actually addressed specific religious beliefs?

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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:39 pm 
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32/32, but man, was it biased towards Christianity. If the in-depth questions about Christian sects were reflected by questions about Hindu or Buddhist sects, I'd consider it more balanced.

But you know, that's one part of my issue with this whole argument with keeping Jesus up in the classroom...but before I get to that, I want to have one, last, LONG response to the Roman goddesses being removed if Jesus has to be removed:

Jorodryn, to make the comparison between Justitia and Jesus in a courtroom is to deliberately ignore almost 600 years of art and education history to make a point about religious iconography in 2012. That's what I'm saying when I say you're argument is "obtuse." Not that you're daft, or that I'm frustrated with your argument because I don't agree with it. In fact, I totally agree with your point that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Gays marry? Sure! Now let anyone else in a consensual relationship marry!

However, I put my foot down when it comes to depictions of Libertas and Justitia because they are in no way comparable to Jesus right now in 2013, again because of their history in (relatively) modern Western art.

About 600 years ago, give or take a century, scholars "rediscovered" Classical literature, particularly the Roman version of Classical literature. This is thanks to their Middle Eastern peers and their great libraries. Scholars promptly (okay, slowly) adopted the philosophies and and myths into the curriculum of students as ready-made lessons on the Ideal (which fit Christian ideology quite well) and parables. It was also seen as a testament of the glory of Western thought, screw you heathen Middle East (but thanks for saving all that Roman and Greek literature).

Around the same time, the Church, still in supreme power, was loosening rules on what kind of art was sinful. During the high Middle Ages, anything depicting the human form truthfully was sometimes seen as idolotry (which is why art from that time period looks really cartoonish - not that people couldn't make more realistic depictions of people, but because it was considered sinful to do so). Depictions of regular life were also way less popular than Christian religious scenes because Biblical stories were well known and more exciting than some cartoony schlubs hoeing in a field. Making depictions of humans that looked real a non-issue gave artists more license to...art better.

Enter Classically trained artists. Suddenly, a whole bunch of painters and sculptors had knowledge of more than just Biblical stories, and those stories were seen as exciting and fun to depict. Biblical scenes were still incredibly popular (and seen as depicting true events), but scenes from Virgil and the classic myths were fun, exciting and entertaining artwork to paint and own. While depictions of the Virgin and Jesus were revered, depictions of Dionysus and Diana were fun, obviously pretend, but epic, romantic, ideal fairytales.

Over time the gods and goddesses, particularly those representing popular ideas, evolved into a symbolic shorthand for, say, "decadence" (Dionysus) or "justice" (Justitia). Throw in a god or a goddess in a scene, and suddenly a scene of revelry carries an extra edge. These symbols, particularly the most ideal, were eventually adopted as shorthand for the ideals of the State - Britannia and Columbia, Britain and America's respective official personifications, share a lot of attributes with Libertas, and Libertas alone was a favorite of the French. Justitia's symbolic blindness is a romantic idea, and I can understand why the neoclassicists plucked it from humanistic paintings and statues and set her up in courtrooms.

In other words, since the beginning of the resurgence of Greek and Roman mythology and philosophy, the gods and goddesses were not used as pieces of reverence or worship. They did not hold the same stature as Christian iconography. For centuries, they were not seen as religious - they were seen first as cool stories, then as symbolic shorthand, and finally as personifications of ideals. They were not put up by people who consider them their gods. They were put up by romantic classicists for other romantic classicists. And eventually they evolved into such obvious symbols that even those who are not classicists recognized them as the personification of ideals.

Pictures of Jesus do not have this very long art history. Pictures of Jesus are not put up by non Christians to symbolize ideals attached to Jesus. Jesus is almost always used to symbolize Christianity. Even the most beautiful, historically and artistically significant depictions of Jesus are overt reverences to Christian belief. For instance, Michelangelo's Pieta, one of my favorite statues, references a Catholic station of the cross. I have never seen a group of non Christians first think that the Biblical stories are totally cool*, then adopt Christian imagery as shorthand for their artistic ideas, and finally use them as symbol of government ideas.

And this progression has certainly not happened in the United States for Christian imagery. When a teacher or principal hangs a picture of Jesus in a prominent location in a school, they are showing their endorsement for a particular religion. Full stop.

And this is why I think Jesus needs to go - but lady Liberty can stay.

Finally, to go back to my first issue, I think one big problem whenever these fights come up is that Christians in the US often cannot put themselves in the shoes of someone who is not Christian. They see it as no big deal, because they have no idea how often non Christians are pummeled by Christian imagery and thought. And I'm not just talking things like Christmas or other prominent Christian holidays that have the Wal-Mart aisles filled with chocolate at various intervals throughout the year. Billboards, posters, TV shows that adopt Christian themes, movies where god is a given, "nondenominational" prayers before major political events, etc. Throwing Jesus up on a school wall doesn't seem like a big idea because, in our culture at large, it seems like everyone is either Christian, or silent about their religion. But we are not all Christian, and it can be exhausting to have that message in your face every day, all the time as if it's the way things should be.

For the most part, I roll with it. But I'm with waffle about not giving an inch to currently worshiped deities with no historical precedent as symbolic personifications. The assumption that Christianity is the right and proper religion in the United States has led school districts down anti-scientific paths against evolutionary theory, down paths where proper lessons on human sexuality are denied, down paths in which gay children are openly scorned and things like anti-gay proms are set up to shun them, down paths of revisionist and nationalistic history (US as God-given, infallible holy land). That's what the Jesus picture represents to me, a former Catholic, non Christian US citizen.

*Okay, so I know the Japanese are into Biblical mythology because it's cool and different. But I don't see them hanging crosses on the wall as a nonreligious symbol of, idunno, suffering or something.

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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:16 pm 
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Is it worth pointing out that Lady Justice isn't Justitia?

Lady Justice is a symbol of justice whose imagery is based on a combination of Justicia, Dike, Maat, Isis, Themis and other representations of justice based deities. Lady Justice is not herself a deity. She is an anropomorphised representation of justice.

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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:51 pm 
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I think that's totally worth pointing out :)

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 Post Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 6:43 pm 
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Steave wrote:
Is it worth pointing out that Lady Justice isn't Justitia?

Lady Justice is a symbol of justice whose imagery is based on a combination of Justicia, Dike, Maat, Isis, Themis and other representations of justice based deities. Lady Justice is not herself a deity. She is an anropomorphised representation of justice.


Thinking back on it, I'm stunned we never ran into her on the Discworld.

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 Post Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:37 pm 
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Ket features briefly in Pyramids. She is an ibis headed god of justice.

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 Post Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:57 pm 
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@Weatherwax

I'd offer a different interpretation to your observations. Where you see the overwhelming ubiquity of Christian iconography in America as evidence of the strength of the religion here, I would see it as evidence of the extent to which the commercialization has co-opted and cheapened that iconography for profit. There are no religious ideas of substance in the vast majority of Christian themed merchandise. For example, the beloved secular classic "White Christmas" was deliberately written with the express intent of removing Christ from Christmas. The boom in this "social club" version of Christianity is of no actual benefit to the religion --the converse is true. It leads directly to the travesties against the faith committed on shows such as "South Park" or in the Japanese media, parodies easy to create because they represent such a short line distance from mainstream depictions.

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The assumption that Christianity is the right and proper religion in the United States has led school districts down anti-scientific paths against evolutionary theory, down paths where proper lessons on human sexuality are denied, down paths in which gay children are openly scorned and things like anti-gay proms are set up to shun them, down paths of revisionist and nationalistic history (US as God-given, infallible holy land).


I would rather call this the exploitation of religious structures and sentiment to serve political agendas, something certainly not unique to the Catholic church, but associated with it with sad frequency and longevity.

You may think I'm simply advancing the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, but in fact I would argue that Christianity does have a knowable heart. Simply take any of these supposed examples of Christian belief and ask if they can, in fact, be traced back to the statements recorded in the canonical Gospels as preached by Jesus. If not, then they should be described not as "Christian", but rather as "Christianish" or "Christianesque".

This is the heart of my argument contra Jorodryn. If Jesus is on the school walls solely as an icon, a mascot, an empty symbol, then that offends my religious sensibilities. If the picture is not a representation of a statement of genuine commitment to Christian values as actually preached by Jesus then why is it there? Take it down.

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 Post Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:11 pm 
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kitoba wrote:
@Weatherwax

I'd offer a different interpretation to your observations. Where you see the overwhelming ubiquity of Christian iconography in America as evidence of the strength of the religion here, I would see it as evidence of the extent to which the commercialization has co-opted and cheapened that iconography for profit.


I don't think it's an either/or situation.

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 Post Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:47 pm 
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kitoba wrote:
You may think I'm simply advancing the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, but in fact I would argue that Christianity does have a knowable heart. Simply take any of these supposed examples of Christian belief and ask if they can, in fact, be traced back to the statements recorded in the canonical Gospels as preached by Jesus. If not, then they should be described not as "Christian", but rather as "Christianish" or "Christianesque".

Not entirely relevant to the discussion, but this rather ignores ~1500 years of Christian history. Continual apostolic revelation was the name of the game until Martin Luther, and Christian doctrinarians from Paul onward were far more concerned with Christ the symbol than Yeshua the itinerant preacher.

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 Post Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:57 pm 
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Thaklaar wrote:
Not entirely relevant to the discussion, but this rather ignores ~1500 years of Christian history. Continual apostolic revelation was the name of the game until Martin Luther, and Christian doctrinarians from Paul onward were far more concerned with Christ the symbol than Yeshua the itinerant preacher.


Again, it's all in the perspective. I would instead say that Christian church history has always existed in a state of tension between forces that have obscured Jesus' message, and forces that have revealed it.

(I would also note that (1) you're assuming opposition between apostolic revelation and the message of the Gospels and (2) that "doctrinarians" almost by definition would be the actors within the church most likely to be concerned with the symbology of Christ as an avenue to other ends.)

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:31 am 
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Thaklaar, I don't suppose you're seriously saying that religion's profiteers are prophets?

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