Tuesday Meads and Rusic
Two articles from the latest NYRB (another reason to hate the renamed New York Red Bulls, yes?)
The first is a review essay of Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as Natural Phenomenom, written by the estimable Freeman Dyson.
He (Dennett) observes that belief, which means accepting certain doctrines as true, is different from belief in belief, which means believing belief in the same doctrines to be desirable. He finds evidence that large numbers of people who identify themselves as religious believers do not in fact believe the doctrines of their religions but only believe in belief as a desirable goal. The phenomenon of "belief in belief" makes religion attractive to many people who would otherwise be hard to convert. To belong to a religion, you do not have to believe. You only have to want to believe, or perhaps you only have to pretend to believe.
Exactly. I would very much like to not have to think about this so much, but there is -and always has been, I suppose - a concerted strategy to Wal-Mart religion, to make it as easy as opening a bag of Oreos and, glorifying in the chocolate goodness, consider one's self select, happy as long as the prepackaged cookies keep coming. Marx called it an opiate of course, and as one who understands the inherent laziness - and surrender - of addiction I'm fully aware that belief in belief is a boatload more easy than independent wrestling with doubt and faith. A very good read.
Hey, have you heard the The Decider! is trying to amass all power in the executive branch at the expense of the legislative and the judiciary? I'm sure it's been yammered and hammered at all places me, but Elizabeth Drew gives it a worthy whack in the same NYRB issue, though strangely a rather oh-what-the fuck whack at that.
An article in yesterday's Salon on Mark Warner's and Russ Feingold's star turns in New Hampshire this past weekend. I'm a Feingold fan, natch, and while I don't think he can win the nomination (at least as of today) I think he absolutely needs to run so that our wing of the party is represented in the primaries and debates.