"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Ruthanne Cecil: Finns, Saamis, and Laestadian

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ruthanne Cecil: Finns, Saamis, and Laestadian

That last topic didn't get its full day in the sun, so please weigh in before it gets too buried. Just had to post this photo and link, because I finally got around to registering for a few FinnFest events, and one of the offerings is a lecture titled "Finns, Saamis, and Laestadians: Delving into our Past" by a Ruthanne Cecil. If she is one-and-the-same as the Ruthanne Cecil I found via Google, what an interesting and knowledgable person, with a J.D. Law, UC Hastings, and a job at as "a well-known expert on financing sustainability." She "speaks widely on how fiscal policy options can create the necessary funding pools for urgent global needs" according to the Center for Environmental Economic Development. She also wrote the source material for the Saami of Alaska exhibit I saw at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle last year, about which I posted here. Doesn't she look Saami?

(The catalog doesn't say whether her lecture falls on Wednesday or Thursday. Either way, it's a must-hear.)


  1. Free..

    I decided to give you a chance here and looked up the references in this post. And I have a question for you...

    When I read the terms: "Green Building", "Collaborative Learning Circle", "Cross Border Taxing Initiative" and others like "New Ideas Policy Forum", "Responsible Cross Cultural Coalition", and "Humanity Sustainability Workshops" I think the following: This is another agency or group of people trying to put forward ideas which get in the way of entrepeneurs doing what they do best. In addition their goal is to tax me for the purposes of redistributing the money to someone else that they deem more worthy for a whole host of reasons. Put anther way... It is a religion masquerading as social do-gooding in order to set priorities for my resources and they are getting ready to get the government on board to mandate their doctrine instead of going to the people to make a judgment. Put yet another way... They want to use governmental power to make me go to their church and pay homage to their secular God. If I don't want to bow and scrape at their altar they are willing to use police powers to make it so.

    I have a massive distrust of these organizations. Help me out here and critique my thinking.

  2. Stylux, surely you don't mean that market values are your core values? I have just 2 seconds before picking up kids, so in short: whose air, land, water are you using? How do you claim ownership to it? If I want to broadcast polka 24/7 on all your channels, cut down the trees that prevent your land from flooding, and dump some chemicals in your water supply, I bet you'd find all kinds of reasons to stop me, and they wouldn't be market driven. Gotta run! More later!

  3. Free... To use your style... You surely don't mean to imply that all of this is about overturning the principal of private property. It sounds that way by virtue of your admittedly quick opening reply. I have often suspected this and it sounds as if my suspicions are correct.

  4. You're jumpin', Stylux! That's a straw man: not all libs are commies. Private property has its virtues but it (and individualism) must be balanced against the public good, and in an effective democracy, that is a given.

    But the pendulum has swung too far. Our government no longer represents its tax-paying citizens but the corporations that have paid for it, continue to pay for it, and profit HUGELY from it.

    That is hardly a radical idea. It is a concern across the political spectrum. Ask John McCain.

    I love entrepreneurs as much as the next American (I'm deeply appreciative to Steve Jobs as I type on my expensive but bugfree Powerbook), but I love my kids more. If Business A can't make a profit without putting toxins in my aquafir (or in Pakistan's),

    Bush would ask Business A to write the relevant environmental legislation,

    The religious right would ask Business A to donate to cancer victim funds,

    and I would say to hell with Business A.

    Let Business B have a shot at it.

    (On another topic, isn't it interesting that the father of the richest man in the world considers the estate tax wise and necessary? So does Warren Buffett and his kids! They think inheriting wealth is like choosing the new Olympics winners from the children of previous Olympics winners. Bad for everybody.)

    As for greening as a "religion" -- that is partially true, as some have embraced it like the Messiah (including a few who would think it virtuous to shoot all Hummer owners and dance on their graves).

    But there is no ignoring the science, the RATIONALITY of its enlightened self-interest. There simply is no intelligent controversy left about the impact of unchecked consumption on the planet. Only vested interests pretend otherwise, and bamboozle their minions with smoke about free enterprise, liberty, and the American way.

    Whew. I need to go make dinner for my little cost centers. He he.

  5. NOT TO GET IN THE WAY of a good argument, but I just want to say that wish I could teleport you to Finnfest, Stylux.

    And you Ilmarinen, Sisu, Tomte, MTH, Stylux, Theoforos, LLLReader, exoalc, Troll, Finnjemmy, anon, anonymous, and all y'all.

  6. When was that Finnfest now again? I've been kind of thinking I maybe should make a trip to America soon because it's been a while since my last visit. Having relatives all over the country makes it difficult to decide where to go (and besides I don't know if they even like me any more), but going to a Finnfest would be a simple solution to that problem. Especially because I never went to one before. :)

  7. Dear Stylux,
    There is so much wrong with your arguments, I don't know where to start! But since you are big on facts, let's start there. You said Gore claims to have started the internet. That is patently false, one of those things the right likes to ridicule him for, to belittle a very concerned and caring person. (If I remember it correctly, he used the word "that" and it went into print by reporters as "I". The mistake was never corrected in the daily press. So his statement, "..and that started it all" was printed as, "...and I started it all". He was giving a speech at a high school and it was recorded by some of the students. They noted the discrepancy when it went into pring. So there!
    You have a good head on your shoulders, Stylux. I suggest that it would behoove you to read some articles from the other side of the aisle so your views could be more balanced. Am I the pot calling the kettle black? Let me know.

  8. Dear Stylux,
    Sorry about the typos. My thoughts were running faster than my fingers. It has happened several times lately, I see. I'll proof my next one before I send it to cyberspace, I promise.

  9. Sisu...
    Thanks for the internet correction regarding Al Gore and as you can readily see he is one of my favorites. I realize that he did not invent it and without knowing the derivation of the famous comment it is fun to poke at him a bit. I'll accept the fact that this was a factual error. Regarding the typos... One of the things that happens to all of us in the modern era. It is funny though, how when we are excited (I am speaking of myself here) we seem to race over the keys and get ahead of "n" key rollover.

    Regarding reading other material... I have been a life long reader of the other side and deliberately buy books and log on to websites etc. and do not live in a vacuum. I must say though that I try and avoid spending my money on advancing agendas that parade themselves as unbiased news.

    Free.. I would love to come up to Finnfest... not so much for the fest but simply to see all the folks in person. Maybe I could show them my fully programmed IPOD with the last ten years of patches and letters from Swedish Lapland.

  10. Oh my oh my. Where to start?

    Theoforos, come to Finnfest! It starts next week, July 26. Can you find a flight that fast? I don't know where it will be next year, but in 2008, it is Duluth. You should be a lecturer.

    Stylux, you are a MADman, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. No one is going to take away your Hummer, or fine you for saying "agendize," however tempting that might be, LOL. We can't expect the government to do the job of business or vice versa. They need each other. And our voiceless vulnerables, human and animal alike, hale or halt, actually do need defending from the amorality of the marketplace. We're all in this together.

    Actually, the science has been settled on global warming. Our consumption is impacting our environment. What is left to debate is our response.

    Hey, I'll give your regards to Ruthanne Cecil!

  11. Free...

    You have said something that I can agree with... The market is amoral and that is actually a wonderful thing. And I also agree that the government and the market need each other. Now you should start worrying that we have found ourselves in this camp. Now I'll add something else to the mix of course. I think that bigness is bad in both government and business. I like it when there are a lot of small companies and I feel uncomfortable with monopoly whether it be in business, religion, government and particularly in government schools. My friends on the left typically have no problem with disliking big business but they go literally slavish when it comes to monopoly and bigness in schooling and government.

    Rather than drag out all the debating points about global warming I am more interested in what you are going to give up. Perhaps you believe that your life is currently sufficiently simple and it is up to others to get where you are now. Egalite as the French put it. As for the Hummer... I laugh as much as you do about these comic strip lumbering vehicles and I wouldn't buy one. The best cure I know for this problem is higher gas prices. (The Market) The left should be celebrating the rise in gas prices rather than bashing Bush for this phenomenon.

  12. I am extremely interested in the Ruthanne Cecil presentation but I cannot make FinnFest this year. I wonder if there will be transcripts available. Can you check on this for me Free?

  13. So soon... I doubt it'd be possible to make the arrangements that fast, and besides, I wouldn't be able to take any time off around that time either, it's in the middle of the interim report period (=stock companies announcing their Q2 earnings), gotta be at work then. Maybe next year? I doubt I'd come as a lecturer though, as suggested by Free2beme. :) What would I lecture about anyway?

  14. I have a thought for Stylux, who seemed to become overheated in her/his defense of capitalism.
    When considering “capitalism,” or any of the alternates, it is important to recall that the owners of the means of production produce not only goods. And we ourselves are not only consumers. The people who run our innovative and productive enterprises large and small, in addition to their products, provide working conditions and pollutants. Sometimes they provide excellent working conditions and very little pollutants; one thinks perhaps of Starbucks. On the other end might be a giant poultry operation that maintains lagoons of chicken excrement and where workers are under pressure to produce, while working with sharp tools, so that they regularly injure themselves and end up with repetitive motion injuries that make them unable to continue in their jobs and unable to perform some of the tasks of daily life, without being paid much for their efforts.
    Actually, the main point after all is that there are no systems that do everything wrong all the time and none that do everything right. Did you know that radial keratotomy was developed by Dr. Svyatoslav
    Fyodorov in the Soviet Union? Did you know that the American Thomas
    Alva Edison invented the light bulb?
    If we take things by cases, instead of making fire-breathing generalizations, we have more fruitful discussions. However, more fruitful discussions are not always the aim, of course. Sometimes the point of an exchange is just to have a little relaxed e-mail fisticuffs between friends. And that is fine as long as everyone remembers that we are only indulging in some attitudinizing for refreshment's sake.
    As for the green movement or global warming or whatever was under discussion, my own view is that things change all the time. Our society and our economy are much different nowadays than they were fifty years ago. And they will be much different fifty years from now from what they are now. Global warming will be a big part of that change, and global warming is caused by human activity; that is the scientific consensus worldwide. Global warming is not a totalitarian scheme. So the real question is not what do I think of your attitude or what do you think of my attitude. All that is friendly e-mail fisticuffs at best and hot air at worst. The real question is what shall we do?
    Whatever the answer is, it will not be that we will keep doing what we have been doing, as faithful capitalists; this is true simply because things constantly change. Maybe we will say that what we are doing in fifty years is "capitalism," but it will be different, and it may be more like the way capitalism is done today in Norway than the way it is done today in Las Vegas. The way it is done in Las Vegas today, if continued, will make global warming worse than the way it is done today in Oslo, not that the Norwegians have all the answers. How will we proceed? What shall we do? Whatever your feelings about the answers to those questions, I think you'll agree with Al Gore that the answers have an important moral dimension.

  15. When is R. Cecil speaking--anyone know?

  16. Oven Mitt... I am glad you enjoyed my "fire breathing" defense of capitalism. This raises a question. What word do you use to describe passionate defense of bigger involvement of big government and a defense of the slide to more socialism. "Responsible dialogue" is my best guess. Having read most of the major journals most of my life, I have grown accustomed to this choice of language. Protesters from the right are called fundamentalists (evil neanderthals) and from the left are called activists (a very responsible person here). It has been my experience that the left practioners of this custom are unaware that they even do it.

    I enjoyed your rejoinder and believe that you raise some good points. Allow me to add a twist to the debate. I am not in favor of capitalists or anyone else polluting my environment or yours for that matter. So you don't have to worry about that. When I read what may be described as right of center articles, I am unaware of anyone who is advocating that as a means of advancing a profit. Maybe you can enlighten me if I am missing something.

    Specific cases are important and a philosophical tendency is equally important. If I approach a problem from the mindset that it is the government that is the only one that can address the problem then I will grow the government. And I will oppose any private effort to deal with it. I have more trust in the people individually. At the same time I recognize that there are issues that only the state can address. The same with private business. I like small companies but I am aware that it is nearly impossible for such to produce a car economically. And governments don't do a good job at building cars.

    I am unfamiliar with the history of the development of radial keratotomy and if you are making the case that it was created by an employee of the Soviet medical system, I'll accept that. The larger question is this. Compare the number of procedures in the US with its capitalistic system to the number in other countries with socialized medical systems and the waiting time needed to obtain it. I make the case that when creators are free to profit from their creations then everybody benefits. I have no problem with balance and do not believe in a system running over the populus. But I am aware of who is creating and who is not and am more afraid of the folks who believe that it is the government who will provide. Everything the state gives it has taken from somebody else and that is difficult to get away from.

    I am passionate, yes, but reasonably so and I am puzzled as to why this is so threatening. The pie gets larger when the state gets out of the way and if you rely on the state for your livelihood then you will be picking up the scraps. That is the legacy of socialism in most of its forms. A close study of the economy of France demonstrates this. They have raised a generation of entitled people who are willing to riot if a law is passed giving companies the right to fire in the first two years. Where does this attitude come from other than total reliance on government.

    "Fire Breather" here checking out.

  17. What would I give up? Hmmm . . . I've often wondered if growing up in the OALC gave me an addict's appetite for stuff & novelty, because so little was offered in the way of experience. Shopping was a sanctified pastime, and comparison-shopping practically a holy calling. Maybe that was just my family? (Ironically, our relatively high standard of living was provided by an industry vigorously opposed to environmentalism. Saving money was next to godliness. Saving habitats, ridiculous.)

    I still love stuff. I'm also learning the benefits of enjoying it without owning it.

    Thankfully, reducing one's dependency on oil does not mean going Amish. I can give up square footage, out-of-season produce, and incandescent lightbulbs, for starters. I can also pay higher prices at the pump (although as a conservation strategy this is ridiculously regressive, hurting the most vulnerable.)

    Regarding Ms. Cecil, I certainly will get a transcript of available!

  18. Free...

    I am stuck here on the computer and read your response to my challenge and started laughing. Very good. In actuality I live a fairly simple life in a relativley small home although in a great part of the country. And I have no storage space and therefore cannot acquire new things for if I did I would need someplace to store it. The thought of schlepping down to the rent-a-bin place to keep company with my latest gadget offends my sensibilities. Lately, I have often said that getting rid of "stuff" is more fun than getting stuff. It's the liberation involved. I tend to spend on experiences, books and food. Technically speaking higher gas prices are regressive and taxes on cigarettes and alcohol and state lotteries are equally so.

  19. I wish I could go to the Finnfest. I have a family wedding I need to attend in another part of the country. :(
    Regardless, I would love to meet up with you all sometime. I am a little jealous that you'll hook up during the Finnfest.
    I have been out of the blogs for awhile (partly exhausted with all the contreversy, but mostly consumed with my personal healing and growth).
    Theo, you have a room waiting. :)

  20. Exoalc, thanks for visiting! Check in after that wedding for posts about Finnfest. Maybe next year . . . or 2008, when it is in Duluth.

    Oven Mitt, fine post. Nuanced look at advocacy. When the media focus on the mideast conflict as impacting American oil prices, that is surely a kind of advocacy. How easy, to replace the blood and cries with balance sheets.

    Where can one go for objective analysis of the situation?

  21. Oven Mitt… (I love the moniker) What a creative interweaving of history and modern business and why am I left with the impression that your choice of characters is attempting to suggest some comparison? But I will respond with the caveat that I am not in synch with the decision to compare Hitlerian rhetoric and propaganda with the discussions that ensue when companies choose to locate in a particular city. It lacks in “proportion” what it apparently has in “nuance”.

    First though it is a stretch to posit that the behavior of the US and pre-WWII Germany are comparable and that this administration has designs similar to Hitler. This may be the time to remind folks that Winston Churchill warned not only the UK but also the world of the dangers of negotiating with Germany in the early 1930’s but was overruled by more “rational and reasonable” forces who felt Hitler could be dealt with diplomatically. The left learns very little about true evil from history. It is my belief that we are facing similar circumstances today in that the radical Islamists are violent, anti-Semitic, hate filled, not so subtly misogynistic, publicly committed to killing westerners, not interested in negotiating and an evil force on the world scene. They differ from the Germany you speak of in that they are willing to blow themselves up along with the elementary schools they attack.

    Now to pollution… The left talks incessantly about jobs and never comes to terms with the truth that they arise from profitable companies. I advocate the creation of profitable companies and if I understand you correctly it is your belief that hidden in this advocacy is the rhetoric of granting them the right to pollute and abuse their employees. Or to allow people to block exits so that employees can burn to death. What am I going to do with that? It seems almost too outrageous to deny it.

    I am in favor of moderation in most things including capitalism and including government. What I hear from the left is radicalism in both. Shackle the businessman and release the reins and let government solve all of our problems until they run out of people to take money from. As an aside Clinton went to Ireland and played golf and he went to Colorado and played golf there as well. Actually he played golf in Colorado with Enron executives. Sorry, I felt compelled to present some nuanced facts. By now I have put the fire out and am breathing essence… it suits me better and thanks for your willingness to dialogue.

  22. Many Trails Home7/20/2006 04:35:00 PM

    Mercy, I think the "boys" are turning this into a political forum! I tried to post what I considered a brilliant response to Stylux and it would not go thru and finally timed out. So will make this brief to minimize frustration.
    Free, I actually have a fantasy of living among / like the Amish (without the religious overtones). I would just as soon live without electricity (AC) altho I have to say refrigerator and washer are handy contraptions. We put in a wood stove and are investigating solar water heating as well as elec generation (I'm not opposed to technology per se).
    So Stylux, I can't get into your political stuff - I don't much care what the "right" thinks vs the "left." What I want to know is: Do you think we are on a path that is sustainable? Do you care? Do you think we should do anything about it?
    Since you are a thinking, well-read, and opinionated person (aren't we all, or we wouldn't bother posting!), I wonder if you have read any of the following: Last Days of Ancient Sunlight, Plan B, The Party's Over. I don't see how anyone can consider himself/herself informed without reading some of this stuff.
    I do apparently share one passion with you, and that is the early days of "Christianity." What have you learned from your investigations?
    Here's hoping this posts . . . MTH

  23. MTH, the same thing happened to me last night (my initial post did not go through).

    It probably behooves us windy types to save our posts in another program, then copy and paste them here, as Blogger.com is not always reliable and we may need to fetch the backup copy.

  24. The Paul Johnson book to which I referred in the last post is correctly titled "History of Christianity"

  25. That Paul Johnson book sounds like it might be worth reading (did some "googling" on it).

    Also the Yale historian Jaroslav Pelikan has written a recommendable five volume series about the history of Christianity. I've read only the first volume that deals with the development of the Christianity during the first 6 centuries, and enjoyed it a lot. I'm sure the other 4 volumes are equally good. It's small text and full pages - might be too much of "university stuff" for some people, but it's not that bad. :) Actually I like it that way. It's also full of references to other sources, usually some early Christian writings. The series is called "The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine" and the first volume I have read is called "The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition 100-600".

    If there are any "romaphobes" around, I'd like to point out that the word 'Catholic' here doesn't mean 'Roman Catholic' but more like 'universal' as opposed to the various sects that sprouted up from time to time and separated themselves from the "catholic/universal church". Actually Jaroslav Pelikan never was a Roman Catholic, he used to be Lutheran but became Orthodox a few years before he died.

    "Ecclesiastical History" of Eusebius, written around AD 300 or something, is also a good book. I like it especially because it makes you independent of the contemporary historians and allows you to be your own historian.

    Both books should be available at Amazon, that's where I bought them.

  26. CHRIS MATTHEWS ON HARDBALL: "We've killed 50,000 Iraqi's in a war that was supposed to be a two-day wonder. When are we going to notice that the neocons don't know what they're talking about. They're not looking at this country's long term interest. They're bound up in regional and global ideology and they have had no experience, I'll say it again, in even a school yard fight. They don't know what physical fighting is all about. They went to school and were intellectuals but they want our government to be their big brother. I don't get it. I don't know why we keep falling for it."

  27. Many Trails Home7/21/2006 04:03:00 PM

    Stylux, I can't even read your "defense of capitalism," as I see its effects on the medical system and, I must say, despite the wondrous advances, it's gone over the edge and will bring this country to its knees. I'm almost ready to take my chances with "nature" and chuck it all.
    2. "Higher gas prices are regressive": whatever did you mean by that? Sounds like you are now arguing AGAINST free markets. I think we are so profligate, only astronomically high prices will force us to be reasonable consumers, and as always, the lowest on the economic ladder suffer the most (but God never did decree "thou shalt use oil and use it abundantly forevermore").
    3. I think rather than revise MY standards (altho I am rather intrigued by your reading list, weighty as it does seem), I challenge you to read some of mine! That could possibly shake your "abiding confidence in mankind's ability to adapt." I wonder if the Romans had a similar confidence. The Easter Islanders (do you know their story?). The Haitians. And which "mankind" are you referring to? Western civilizations only, I suggest. What about Africa? Confidence is not easy to come by there.

    I wonder what part of the country you live in, as mine is lovely as well and we have no space either, as well as no heat! MTH

  28. Many Trails Home7/22/2006 10:02:00 AM

    Well, Stylux, I suspected as much (re your location). I spent the first half of my adult life in your half of the state and the second in the other.
    I have slowly come to the unpopular opinion - thru observation and contemplation - that the "success of Western civilization" is definitely not an unmitigated good; in fact, in many ways, it is a "mitigated bad." (Like cvow, I like to make up words.) In fact, I am becoming increasingly horrified with where we are and where we seem to be going. My greatest desire is to escape the feeling (if it is not a reality) that I am "enslaved" by the systems, without becoming parasitic myself. So I have little patience with your defense of capitalism etc. I find your discussion of early "Christianity" much more interesting and suspect that you might come to a different conclusion re our hallowed civilization also, if you looked at it from some other points of view. MTH

  29. MTH...

    I respect your view and have some suspicions myself. Life has many frustrations. One of the problems the west faces philosophically is how to tackle meaninglessness in light of our nearly total embrace of rationality. When our doctrines and values become disconnected from a possibility of a transcendent then we are left to define the meaning. For the most part we revert to "feeling" and in many this ultimately leads outside of ourselves. In other words it becomes someone else’s responsibility to make us feel good. I have no real issue with you rejecting the capitalistic system. I simply ask you to replace it with something, for after all we need some economic system in which to live. Unfettered capitalism has been proven to be not good so we must find a happy medium. Socialism is a disaster because it does not account for natural human tendency. Aristotle defined moderation as a “habit” of choosing the mean between the extremes.

    The same problem exists with respect to religion. Many parts of the west have rejected religion and the associated doctrinal books as a guide to their lives. That is fine but one must realize that it has to be replaced with some moral code. To some extent we are experiencing a young generation raised on a rather flimsy moral code. Many have reverted again to "feeling" and if that is to be universally applied it is tantamount to having no code or 300 million codes. We all have different feelings. So if religion is rejected what do we replace it with. It isn't enough to criticize and giving up isn't enough either.

    Personally speaking the issue of meaning was taken care of in the walls of the OALC. However it did not work for me in many other ways so when I left I took on the challenge of replacing for me what that specific church provided. This is no small matter and it is still something I struggle with. My life’s issue has been how to replace an orthodox view of the world (along with a physiological and psychological tendency toward depression) with a view that worked better. Study of the early church has taught me that there are a number of alternatives to the OALC, which allow me to remain Christian. It is a bit easier to retain some of the old belief when changing.

    A bit of personal philosophy... The world is full of everything… goodness, neutrality, evil, tragedy, misfortune in amounts that swamp anyone’s ability to comprehend. So we must make choices of what to be concerned about. When I look at problems I tend to regard man’s inhumanity to man to be way ahead of ozone. Not that environmental issues are not important but the evidence points to a far bigger threat coming from organized evil of man. This is the legacy of the 20th century. You may say that my choice is equivalent to piano playing on the Titanic but you get to choose as well. Amongst all these choices I also have to live my one life here on earth… the earth that I was born into. I don’t have the capacity of heart, soul, body, or mind to deal with everything and neither do you. I attempt to see the world in all of its opportunities, goodness and try to scrape up enough gratitude to give thanks for my blessings of being born here. We are all on the Titanic in the sense that we are all going to die. Some are consumed with gloom over that fact and some don’t care about that fact and some relish that fact and regarding the fact it doesn’t make any difference to the fact. I happen to care very little about Hollywood but Jack Nicholson got it right when he said, “the challenge is how to keep it fresh”.

  30. Many Trails Home7/23/2006 11:42:00 AM

    Stylux, I have to say that you are so long-winded and I am so busy that I don't have time to fully read your posts, let alone ponder them adequately. So to some extent I grab a stmt here and there out of context and whiz off a reply. But I DO reply as I think you ponder things more deeply than 99.9% of folks, and so do I, frankly.
    A quickie re rationality vs feeling: you seem to criticize our reliance on rationality while also distrusting the other option, which is feeling. I would suggest (a borrowed idea) that for each of us individually (and we have to let go of the "good of the society" here temporarily), our FEELINGS are our conscience = our rudder = our best guidance system. So although we can and should test all our beliefs and actions against our rational mind, when push comes to shove, what really matters except how we FEEL about our lives? So now I use that yardstick at all times and contentment and gratitude are much more frequent companions than ever in the past.
    I suffered from what was probably a low-grade depression until recently, a chronic sense of feeling bad at my core, which seems now directly attributable to my OALC / family upbringing. It took 3 decades or so before I finally recognized it for it was and was able to lift it (through thought, a function of course of the rational mind).
    At risk of becoming verbose myself, will sign off here. I do enjoy these interactions. Happy Sabbath. MTH

  31. MTH...

    You raise an profound issue regarding the OALC and how depression is related. I do not have the time to respond fully as this does deserve serious consideration. I have not ignored your desire to hear about my impressions of the study of early Christianity. I am putting together an adequate response to your request. And I intend to reply to your last post as a part of that effort as it has been one of my motivations. The self study of depression has been a long effort of mine because it is so personal.

  32. In a rush here, but thank you Stylux & MTH for your brave and revealing posts. It is clear you are both living examined lives and your dialogue benefits us all.

  33. Dear Stylux and MTH,
    I would like us to have more discussion about depression. I believe all my siblings and I suffered from it at one time or another, and I have attributed it to genes. I'd like to follow up on this possible OALC connection. I hadn't thought of that before.

  34. Sisu,

    I have suffered from depression all my life and officially have been diagnosed with dysthymia. This is a fancy word for a constant low grade "sort of all the time" form of the disorder. I researched my family and its patterns and found a number of varieties existing in various members from "manic" to "bi-polar" and others. To the extent that I could I included deceased members as well. In addition there exist examples of attempted suicides, hospitalization and such. So it is an ongoing and large problem and one that is not often discussed for various reasons. This has changed in the past 20 years in a positive direction so things are easier today. One of the perplexing things about depression is that it is often accompanied by anxiety in all of its forms as well as ADD and ADHD. The PET scan literature on these conditions is interesting. I am not sure if there is any proven connection but it is anecdotally connected in my family both immediate and extended. So what to do... I can tell you what I have done. I have taken various med's such as the SSRI's etc., amphetamine derivatives and other combinations (not all for depression but most for depression and anxiety combined). I have been to a host of counseling sessions etc. and been involved in various types of therapies specifically for depression. I have become a firm believer in the field of "cognitive therapy" as espoused in the famous book "Feeling Well" by Burns. Basically the approach involves reprogramming irrational thoughts because they (University of Pennsylvania) feel that depression is a result of irrational thinking. In my case I agree with this assessment. Now to the OALC. I have come to the conclusion that in my case my depression is mixed both psychogenic and physiological or genetically acquired and learned. The doctrinal approach tends in my case to exacerbate the condition. Growing up in a critical family has an impact as well. I have to be careful here... Folks, I am not making the case that the OALC causes depression. I am speaking very specifically and these things are hard to tease out and isolate. I have been helped enormously by using cognitive therapy and no longer take meds. The basic research from Burns demonstrates that the therapy combined with meds is far more efficacious than meds alone. The secret to the Burns approach is writing, writing and more writing. The book is available in any bookstore in paperback and is a considerable step above the pop psychology level. I live with the problem and do better some days than others but feel grateful for the progress that I have made and encourage anybody who suspects that they suffer this way to start asking and doing. As I have often written… Depression hurts.

  35. Why is it that most all business owners and entrepenuers are conservative while felons and employees of business are liberal?
    Ponder that one!

  36. MTH..

    I feel compelled to respond to your remark regarding rationality.

    I am all for rationality and also have great trust in intuition or "gut feel". You and I are not good examples to use in this case because regardless of where we are now we were both raised in the OALC. (I assume that is true for you.) We received our value system "outside" of ourselves and more importantly from a transcendent. Whenever we make a decision today we make it in the context of this moral code to some degree. Absent such a value system is where we start running into problems. Pure rationality does not allow for such unless you argue that "natural law" suffices but then everything reduces to relativism. Religion has that characteristic that allows us to appeal to a higher authority for "rules" rather than purely to how we feel. Your challenge is a good one. Even given my problems with religion and there are many, I remain an advocate of its benefits to society.