Does Religion Do Dirt On The Arts & Life? Ay, There’s A Fire Burning Beneath That Bonnet

In criticizing the woke, social justice true-believers trying to impose their ideas of ‘cultural appropriation’ upon fiction writers like Lionel Shriver (You can’t write black characters. We will colonize language!  We will colonize the imagination!), a reader points out the following:

First, I wrote, in shared criticism of such people:

‘If you’re looking to art for moral instruction, or for canned lines to solidify group membership, political affiliation and/or ideological identification, you’re probably doing dirt on the arts and life.’

Anonymous wrote back:

Check out Kanye:’

Dear Reader, can you tell the dancer from the dance?

Going to church is probably as much about scents and sounds, chanted words and ritual performace as much it is about doctrine for a lot of people, a lot of the time.  Here, a lot of hearts and minds can be changed.

Maybe the church and its doctrines proscribe limits which also harm the creative artist, just as do so many social justice ideologues, intersectionalists and radicals colonizing many university studies and HR departments.

Given other failures in American civic culture lately, including the more obvious ones within the entertainment and popular music industries, it’s not surprising the same channels are now used for religious conversion.

In fact, I’ve kind been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

There’s something very funny to me about the Quakers trying to stay hip with social-justice appeal:

It’d be nice if many secularists and political liberals said something like the following: If we continue to secularize society, we will entrench many postmoderns, activists, radicals, people steeped in resentment, and narrow socialist ideologues, but the gains in liberty will be worth it.

We might even inspire a return to old-timey religion.  If this happens, we will freak-out about this turn of events.

Recently, British popular thinker Alain De Botton floated the idea of building an ‘atheist temple’ in the heart of London. He recommends combing through religious practices for useful organizing principles in response to the New Atheists. You can read more about it here, which includes a radio interview/podcast.

Did the Unitarian Universalists get there first, with a mishmash of faith and secular humanism?

Towards a theme: Perhaps you’ve also heard of the Rothko chapel, in Houston, Texas:

‘The Rothko Chapel, founded by Houston philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil, was dedicated in 1971 as an intimate sanctuary available to people of every belief. A tranquil meditative environment inspired by the mural canvases of Russian born American painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970), the Chapel welcomes over 60,000 visitors each year, people of every faith and from all parts of the world.’

There’s even a suite of music by Morton Feldman, entitled ‘Rothko Chapel’

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Related: A definition of humanism:

“‘…a morally concerned style of intellectual atheism openly avowed by only a small minority of individuals (for example, those who are members of the British Humanist Association) but tacitly accepted by a wide spectrum of educated people in all parts of the Western world.”

Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

Related On This Site: From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘The Evolution of Mind and Mathematics: Dehaene Versus Plantinga and Nagel’

From Edward Feser: ‘Nagel And His Critics Part IV’

John Gray Reviews Jonathan Haidt’s New Book At The New Republic: ‘The Knowns And The Unknowns’

Steven Pinker somewhat focused on the idea of freedom from violence, which tends to be libertarian. Yet, he’s also skeptical of the more liberal human rights and also religious natural rights. What about a World Leviathan?: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas HobbesFrom Reason.TV Via YouTube: ‘Steven Pinker on The Decline of Violence & “The Better Angels of Our Nature”‘Simon Blackburn Reviews Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature” Via the University Of Cambridge Philosophy Department

Evolutionary psychology and moral thinking: Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’

Timothy Snyder Responds To Steven Pinker’s New Book At Foreign Policy: ‘War No More: Why The World Has Become More Peaceful’

Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’

Sent In By A Reader-‘Graham Greene’s Last Interview’

Full piece here.

Well, it can be easy to criticize American idealism and naivete:

I can’t think of a novelist who has skewered the American sense of manifest destiny more effectively than Greene. If you said he was automatically anti-American you’d be right, but I wish presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson and Dean Fusk and Robert Mcnamara had read The Quiet American instead of Walt Whitman Rostow before they launched their war in Southeast Asia.

But from which vantage point, exactly?:

“I went down to Bratislava to give a talk,” he said, “because I’d accidentally been in Prague in 1948 on the night the Communists took over. I talked about the French Revolution and quoted Wordsworth writing of its beginning, ‘blissful was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven!’ And I said. ‘I was there on the first day of your revolution, but one changes one’s mind. Wordsworth changed his mind.’

A writer’s writer?  A Catholic?  A fallen idealist?  A hard-bitten realist and world-traveler? Man-Of-The-Left?

Also On This Site:Michael Dirda At The Washington Post Reviews ‘Nabokov in America’…Interview With Vladimir Nabokov In The Paris Review

From HenryKissinger.Com, Published In The WaPo August 5th, 2012: ‘Idealism and Pragmatism in the Middle East’

Repost-John Gray At The Literary Review Takes A Look At A New Book On Michael Oakeshott: ‘Last Of The Idealists’

Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge

What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

A reader points out that I’ve put forth no real arguments…: The Politics Of Noam Chomsky-The Dangers Of Kantian Transcendental Idealism?

Martha Nussbaum criticizing Chomsky’s hubris in Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal

Repost-From Newsweek and The Washington Post: Afghan Women Want The Koran

Full article here. (originally posted March 2008)

What Western feminists don’t understand is that we don’t want freedom,” Gailani said. “We want to be able to follow the Koran, minus all the anti-women dogma that surrounds it.”

Maybe they want freedom within the Koran, in part because nearly the entire Afghan culture and the Arab world have so few thinkers who have thought about pursuing freedom outside of the Koran.

So just as the Bush administration misread the desire for democracy Iraq, feminists are misreading the desires of women all over the globe; taking them out the contexts of culture and religion.

We must cultivate our own gardens, right?

See Also: My post here about Martha Nussbaum’s list of capabilities which attempts to apply some feminism (as well as a lot of other important ideas) to cultures (India specifically) around the globe in a much more intelligent way.   Does her project suffer some of the same short-sightedness?

Nussbaum argues profoundly for more equality:  From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

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