Ron Unz lays it all out

About a decade ago, I happened to be talking with an eminent academic scholar who had become known for his sharp criticism of Israeli policies in the Middle East and America’s strong support for them. I mentioned that I myself had come to very similar conclusions some time before, and he asked when that had happened. I told him it had been in 1982, and I think he found my answer quite surprising. I got the sense that date was decades earlier than would have been given by almost anyone else he knew. (American Pravda: Oddities of the Jewish Religion)

This piece from Ron Unz is a must-read for serious thinkers. ABN

Suggested further reading:

Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years

Mountebank’s Monster and His Mom: a peculiar resurrection

Religious hypocrisy at the border

“Faith Based Immigration Services” is a code-speak for legalized human smuggling.

Human smuggling is big business. If you dig in to the IRS 990 forms you’ll see a lot of, well, “generous” wage/benefit perks. Golf, florists, cafe’s, mysterious leases, land purchases, third party mortgages, $$$ Spouses on the payroll, etc.

So when you’ve got each individual immigration business making multi-hundreds of millions; and politicians getting kick-backs (lobbyists); and bribes to Mexican government officials; and payments to smugglers; who do you think actually wants the business to stop? (Source)

Pope Francis: “There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”

Scalfari says to the Pope, “Your Holiness, in our previous meeting you told me that our species will disappear in a certain moment and that God, still out of his creative force, will create new species. You have never spoken to me about the souls who died in sin and will go to hell to suffer it for eternity. You have however spoken to me of good souls, admitted to the contemplation of God. But what about bad souls? Where are they punished?”

Pope Francis says, “They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of souls who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.” (Source)

The value of introversion, and probably reclusion

Do reclusive and monastic religious practices foster wisdom about the human condition?

A new study indicates that they may.

Insights into social psychological phenomena have been thought of as solely attainable through empirical research. Our findings, however, indicate that some lay individuals can reliably judge established social psychological phenomena without any experience in social psychology. These results raise the striking possibility that certain individuals can predict the accuracy of unexplored social psychological phenomena better than others. (Social Psychological Skill and Its Correlates)

In an article about this study, its authors say that introverted people tend to be better at observing others because they are good at introspection and have fewer motivational biases. Here’s that article: Yale Study: Sad, Lonely Introverts Are Natural Born Social Psychologists.

Possibility Jesus was Buddhist monk, among other ideas

This video is only sort of good. I watched it all and enjoyed it. It gives a decent overview of what else might have happened to Jesus after he died. Most Buddhists probably know there is a Buddhist angle to the story—that he went to Kashmir and lived a long life as a monk. This part of the film is presented in the last ten minutes or so. Other possibilities are reviewed in the foregoing parts. Definitely worth a look if you are not familiar with this subject. ABN

Provocative analysis of cultural identity

A comment I read this morning has an insightful summary of what cultural identity is. And how it self-generates and self-perpetuates “…well beyond the control or foresight of anyone,.” (Source)

This complex of [cultural] ideas generates intense psychological pressures and allegiances and mobilizes some of the most primitive energies of the human psyche – safety, danger, clan, tribe, blood, status, power, domination – and leads to a clear pattern of behavior that is decentralized and not under anyone’s control but is still a very clear system that can be analyzed and identified. (Ibid.)

The entire string of comments is well-worth reading and can be found at the link above. [No permalink, so Ctrl F a snippet of the quote above to find the starting point.]

These comments are on Jewish culture and history but they apply just as well to any cultural “construct,” all of which are the stronger precisely because they are social constructs.

The commenter quoted above leans toward a negative appraisal of Jewish culture and history, which I largely agree with, but if it’s up to me I would say that virtually all successful cultures (“successful” being ones that perpetuate) have analogous negative features.

Incidentally, I believe a great deal of Buddhist practice and the practices of other religions are based on disentangling practitioners from cultural constructs to discover their authentic beings, souls, or the will of God.

Religions do this because in many ways cultures are toxic to the higher mind, the metacognitions of thusness and individual authenticity.

That said, cultures do teach us and raise us and we cannot develop without them. Religions are also cultures. And that said, we are capable as individuals of both learning from our cultures and growing well beyond them.

In this respect and in light of Buddhist practice, I am very leery of any and all kinds of cultural identities or individual identities fashioned as allegiance to a culture, especially an aggressive one. Sadly, it is also true that if you have no identity your culture will be lost or destroyed, so we all really do need some sort of “defensive identity.” In this respect, I can happily identify with most of the world Buddhist community and most of the traditional American Constitutional system interpreted conservatively. I also have a mild-but-strong-enough defensive white identity because that group is fast approaching eight percent of world population and I want it to survive.