Sadness in the Library

Over the last year I’ve started intermittently collecting copies of my favorite books on meditation, magic, and mysticism. The general, if ill-planned and erratically implemented idea is that I want not only backups, but I want to distribute “full collections” to friends I trust. I could probably do this in a more orderly manner, but doing it I am.

When I look at the state of the world, from climate change to book bans, from greedy publishers to floods of bullshit books, I want to do something to preserve wisdom. When I look at past pogroms and attacks on knowledge, I can see how others saved knowledge. It was necessary before, it may be again, so my sporadic efforts are my poor attempt.

I’m sure I’ll have more organized in time. It is likely the daily news will inspire me further.

I look at my pile of “backup” books sitting at my mixture altar/bookshelf and feel sadness. My erratically-expanding and not-yet-complete “stuff to send friends” pile on my religion shelf is a constant reminder of my morose thoughts. It’s a low-level, constant reminder of where the world was, is, and may be.

I share this not as some grand plan or goal – rare for me – but just to share my thoughts with you, my readers. I’d like to know what you think about preserving and distributing knowledge, your hopes, and fears, and what you do – if anything. Maybe I am indeed too negative – or perhaps I’m not negative enough.

However, this is a discussion we should all be having. What do we need to do to preserve and disseminate wise words and advice in these times – and in times to come? How can we handle this and keep our mind and spirits in order?

If nothing else, it would be nice to discuss the sadness I feel when I look at my library.

I also have a recommended reading list. Perhaps it will help you –

– Xenofact

The Separation of Religion and Being An A-Hole

Something I’ve seen said for a while is “if someone argues their religion should be public policy, there’s no reason to debate if they’re actually right about their religion if you’re not part of it.”  Why would you debate theology with someone whose theology you don’t share?  Saying “but your ideas really don’t live up to your religion” ignores the fact that their attempts to claim divine mandate don’t matter as you don’t believe as they do.

I’d like to discuss this for a bit as I believe there is a time to debate someone’s religion when they want to force it on you. It’s just, shall we say, more optional and personal.

So let us say someone argues that their religion should be the law of the land or the basis for laws, and you are not part of their religion.  You also realize their religious interpretation is, shall we say, theologically unsound to a critical degree.  Should you argue with them?

No.  Simply put, you’re not part of their religion so you have no reason to listen to them.  If they want to create public policy, they have to argue values that are more universal and inclusive.  If they can’t, that’s their own damn problem.

Even if you were part of their religion, there’s no reason for them to go force their religion on others.  You don’t have to be an a-hole like them, after all.

So, you can safely ignore these hopeful theocrats without debate.  If they wish to press the issue, then you have someone who, let us put not too fine a point on it, wants to use the power of the state to compel religious belief.  You can safely assume that under the right circumstances, they’d be ready to get very violent toward you and others and should be safe accordingly (or mock them when safe).

However, I would argue that there is a reason to argue theology with such people, albeit an optional one.  It’s a good way to make a point if you think it may help that person.

If one of these aspiring theocrats continues to annoy you and you decide to prove they don’t know their religion, do so.  Challenge them to justify their ideas, and feel free to pick them apart.  Then, after showing their lack of knowledge of their own faith, you can note something.

You have shown that not only are they theocrats, they don’t know what the hell they’re saying.  They not only are aspiring theocrats, but they have also proven you have no reason to trust them on anything.  If they can’t get their religion right, which is supposedly so important to them, how can you trust them on anything else?  Not only do they want to use the power of the state on you, but this person also clearly can’t be trusted on anything as they’re a hypocrite.

Yes, you’re probably being a bit of an a-hole yourself, but in a good way.  Maybe, just maybe you’ll get them to think.

But I don’t think you’re obligated.

– Xenofact