Saturday, January 05, 2013

HT Mockingbird: Link: In a Crisis Humanists Seem Absent

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/us/on-religion-where-are-the-humanists.html?_r=2&

“You can’t just be talking about cowboy individualists anymore,” Dr. Ray said. “We have to get out of this mentality we’ve been in over the past 50 years of just saying how stupid religion is. We have to create our own infrastructure.”
      
Mr. Epstein is currently involved in a three-year, $2.5-million project to study, develop and spread the concept of nonreligious community. But he believes that better organizing must be accompanied by better messaging.
 
Fair enough.  What alternative forms of community there are to religious community tend to bracket into other realms of life like national identity, family association, political ideals and sports teams.  Alternative infrastructures may already exist, in fact, but they may not exist in forms that can be easily or readily recognized as distinctly secularist. 
 
On the other side of the divide it's possible evangelicalism has had the same problem in the last fifty years of being significantly better known by what they are against and not also what they're for.  Evangelicals, however, very obviously have some options to explicate what they are for precisely because they're Christians.  A Christian may forget what he or she is for in the midst of politicking but it's possible to remember.  Secularists are not necessarily in the same position.  They may not be able to remember what they are for because the "for" hasn't been formed yet, the infrastructures, as Dr. Ray put it, aren't necessarily there at this point.

It probably won't be easy to make them, either, because infrastructures that provide support and meaning won't be less apt to harm or corral people simply for lacking religion.  It's not like communism posited the existence of any deities, for instance, and insisting that oppressive communism was oppresive because it was treated like a religion proposes that it's possible to have a religious approach in the absence of any deity.  If that's the case, though, then does it mean anything to say that religion poisons things or could it be just as possible that certain types of people poison religion or communism?  It can become a chicken and egg situation quickly.

2 comments:

Paul Hardy said...

COmmunism was I fell quasi-religious, and blatantly the deity was the idea; the belief in the system as a purifying force whereby all kinds of "incidental" atrocities could be overlooked because the idea was pure. On a much smaller scale a similar charge can be levelled against some people's relationship to free market capitalism.
As a humanist I can approve of the call but sadly I can't see the structures really developing. The demographic you are trying to herd has a propensity for championing their individuality

Juniper said...

The above comment put me in mind of Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory" which was about the anti-clerical purges in Mexico.