The new age nut part comes from the fact that this person once asked to do my astrological chart. The following is a response to a new age nut that occasionally writes about my blog:
It’s hard for there to be any dialogue when you so misrepresent my positions. I’m either led to believe that 1) you didn’t not pay attention to what I said and made an honest oversight (an generous interpretation), or that 2) you’re fundamentally dishonest like Chic-fil-a and are representating my positions in a fashion analogous to the reasons that Chic-fil-a gave for withdrawing Muppet toys (i.e., that they were dangerous, rather than the truth, that Muppets withdrew their toys because of CFA’s donations to oppressive organizations, up to and including donations to Ugandan groups that support the murder of homosexuals. Just like CFA, you instead choose to thoroughly distort what was actually said, rather than present what was actually said. This has been going on for thousands of years; up to and including the description of Satan in a way that was indistiguishable from the great Pan. How are we to trust you when you practice these rhetorical gestures?
It is these sorts of practices that give religious thought a bad name, and after repeated dishonest gestures and mischaracterizations on your part– that have every appearance of being opportunistic –it’s hard to escape the impression that you’re not playing a game like CFA. First, I never made the claim that shifts in social conditions are merely shifts in material conditions. I have repeatedly argued that both are needed. I’m fully aware of the fact that there’s a plane of expression (beliefs, narratives, significations) and a plane of content (things and their affects). I merely argue that the former has tended to erase the latter and that we need to attend to the latter a bit more. If you’re honest, you will update your post to reflect this point so as to not mischaracterize my positions. Or maybe you have an axe to grind and would prefer not to acknowledge certain points? Second, I did not articulate an anti-religious position. I said that a) I fully agree that sometimes religion can be a powerful motivator for emancipation, but that b) when we look at the balance sheets of history, religion has i) tended to support oppressive forces, ii) tended to side with the powers that be against the will and emancipation of the people and try to treat horrifying social orders as natural and divinely decreed (look at the revolutions of the Enlightenment and who fought them, look at Indian attitudes towards women and the impoverished and how these are justified), and iii) has caused more suffering than emancipation. When we look at how religion functions as a set of institutions throughout the world and throughout history, I think that this is overwhelmingly obvious: genocide, persecution, terror, guilt, oppression and apologetics for the powerful. Again and again we see the same results from religion. We then get well meaning people such as yourself that focus on the narrative that these religions present, rather than the social facts of how they function in practice. We get John Caputo telling us that religion merely provides potent emancipatory narratives, despite the fact that women, homosexuals, queers are getting their teeth kicked in based on these narratives. We’re told that these things lead us to attend to the earth, despite the fact that apocalyptic narratives are being marshaled to deny climate change. We get told that these narratives will help us to fight capitalism, despite the fact that these narratives are used to support capitalism again and again. We’re supposed to take you seriously? It’s the materialists, naturalists, and atheists that are the enemy? We’re getting the shit kicked out of us, with little or no support from you, yet we’re supposed to bow to your so-called “superior wisdom” and the “superior wisdom” of that tradition? It’s hard to escape the impression that that tradition wants to destroy our world and demolish all our rights.
And in defending these things without a substantial critique of the majoritarian religious consensus, you become a part of the problem, thinking that the atheist and heretic is your enemy, rather than your own “bretherin” that level unspeakable cruelty on people in the world today and throughout history. When you stop attacking the atheist, heretic, and naturalist as the “enemy” and start taking the majority of your own who support oppression, oppressive powers, and who level unspeakable cruelty on the world, maybe then we’ll take you seriously. Yet until then, you’re an apologist for all this, even as you claim that it’s not “real” religion (a wonderful apologist’s argument), thereby providing cover for the shit that’s really taking place in the world. If you were a little bit more honest and carried out a genuine critique of how religion actually functions in the world you might be taken seriously, but given that you provide cover and support for these kinds of oppressions, suggesting that somehow it’s the materialists and naturalists that are the cause of this horror, it’s hard to take you seriously. You wish to personalize everything, rather than treating it as an objective institution that has real effects. I could care less about your damn beliefs. What I care about is how those beliefs function politically and institutionally. Yet you’ve read your Paul and Kierkegaard and ignore the reality of these things. You comport yourself as the knave, or the one that provides the ideological infrastructure for the master/oppressor. So step up to the plate: first, behave honestly and portray the positions you’re arguing against honestly. Don’t you understand that no one trusts priests, pastors, and so-called “holy men” because you behave in the ways you do in this post, all the while bending over for masters and oppressors? Second, recognize that your enemy is your intolerant and oppressive religious bretheran and suggest a way beyond that. Absent these gestures you’re just another dupe or knave, fellating the 1%, providing them with cover by muddying the issues, and caught in our own ridiculous and damaging/dangerous fantasies. Meanwhile the rest of us have to live with the consequences of your bullshit and creepy new age defenses of horror as we get our teeth kicked in environmentally, economically, and in terms of our liberty. Oh how we love your new age wisdom. You’re just tacky and an asshole to boot. Go watch Avatar.