From: David Buchanan (DBuchanan@ClassicalRadio.org)
Date: Mon Nov 01 2004 - 03:08:38 GMT
Sam Norton said to dmb:
You can claim that William James is irrelevant for as long as you like, but
for as long as your position remains identical in all substantive aspects
with what he invented I will continue to consider you as walking in his
footsteps. If you want me to stop why don't you do some reading about him
and come back to me listing where you disagree?
There you go again. I have to read a stack of books to defend a position I
do not hold. I have to prove the validity of YOUR assertion. On top on that,
you failed to say anything specific about "all substanstive aspects" and so
honestly don't even know what you're talking about.
dmb had asked:
Have you ever had a mystical experience, Sam? Do you know what you're
talking about in any first-hand way?
Either my arguments stand up in their own right or they don't. To say 'I've
had an experience therefore I'm right' or 'I've got letters after my name
therefore I'm right', those are both philosophically vacuous. Are you
wishing to employ either of them yourself?
Your arguments seems to be contrarty to the mystical experience and the
insight it provides, that's why I asked. Its not about authority or
credentials, its about experience, first-hand experience. I mean, if
religion is a static portrait of DQ, it only makes sense to have some
experience with the real thing. Wouldn't the static portrait be
misunderstood without it?
As I recall, you can only answer "yes" if the mystical experience is
something other than the kind described by Pirsig. And that means the answer
is really "no". Isn't that the truth, Sam? For God's sake, will you please
be honest and direct for a change?
So what meaning can be given to your claim to be a Christian mystic? You
haven't read the Christian mystics (at least, you've never given that
impression) and you're totally unfamiliar with modern theology, your
language is very dismissive of Christian thinking in general... so what
makes you a
*Christian* mystic? That you think you've extracted the kernel of its
teaching from it's mythology, incorporated it into your own perspective, and
'graduated' beyond it?
I think we've already established that your idea of a christian mystic (a
saint) has nothing to do with what I was saying. And I think its rather
preposterous to assume that such words convey your idea first and foremost,
especially since mysticism is a central theme in the MOQ and Pirsig doesn't
use the word that way at all. Again, the position is that the christian myth
presents a picture of mysticism just as all the great religions do, but
christianity is the religion of my culture, of the church I grew up in, and
is the mythological material I'm most at home with. And again, this a
position, a point of view, not a claim about my achievements or whatever.
This view is shared by all my intellectual heros; Campbell, Jung, Wilber,
Watts and others.
For whatever its worth, none of them cared much for theologians and the
feeling was mutual, I suppose. And why is it not enough to ask a priest
about these things directly? Sorry, but everytime you advise me to take up
theology I will remind you how much it smacks of snotty evasion.
Do you have any clue what you're talking about? Can you point to one
thinker (before, say, 1600, just to make sure we exclude any SOM/James
related influence) who supports your assertion that Christianity (as one of
the world religions) contains a non-theistic mysticism? This is your
'perennial philosophy' point. Perhaps we could go back to that before too
long, it underlies your point of view, and my disagreement with it (ie
differentiation from it) underlies mine.
Huh? Now I have to find a christian thinker from the middle ages who
supports my view. I guess you missed a flurry of posts on the topic of
philosophical mysticism and the perennial philosophy. I can see that you're
understanding my terms through the filter of your church, but I'm not. I'm
just looking at Pirsig and thinkers who make the same claims, but from
different perspectives. And I think its only fair to assume that I'm using
them as Pirsig does, rather than the way you do. You're all indignant like
I've stolen your vocabulary, but this is the MOQ forum and so I think you
have to take responsibility for the confusion this might cause. Its your
baggage, not mine, that seems to be getting in the way. I realize these
kinds of terms originate in traditional christianity, but that is not the
context in which we are presently discussing them. We're talking about
faith, theism and mysticism in the context of what Pirsig says. Let's agree
on that, at least, ok?
As I recall what I dismissed was the idea that accepting the Christian story
'as mythology' made you a Christian. It might be the truth (ie it may be
true that Christianity is a mythology that is past its sell-by-date), but I
think it's a logical mistake to say 'I'm a Christian' and also say 'I don't
believe Jesus was the Word made flesh' etc. (You can substitute various
other standard expressions of faith there if it makes it easier to
understand). In other words, if you're post-Christian, why worry about
admitting it? I can't understand why you want to claim to be Christian when
you reject all the things that make up being a Christian. But then, I often
feel obtuse when I'm discussing things with you.
I'm not claiming to be an Anglican or a Catholic or anything else and, as
I've already explained, only mean christian in the broadest (and
non-theistic) sense. I read a mystical message in the christian myth despite
your disapproval. And in fact I am offended that, in this context, you claim
some kind of ownership over what constitutes being a christian. See, from my
perspective, the requirement that we hold certain beliefs (jesus was the
word made flesh) is very much part of the problem. If I read Pirsig, Jung,
Blake, Wilber, Watts and others correctly, the churches are like demons
standing at the threshold PREVENTING us from knowing who and what we really
are, to keep us from finding out that each one of us is the Christ. And
before you dismiss this as bigotry, ignorance, or peculiarly American
craziness, I would like to point out that this is what I'm seeing in your
position as its presented here. This is not just a sweeping indictment of
all religion or just the fundamentalists in America either. Its about you
and your position, Sam. You have claimed to be a mystic, but then re-cast
the meaning of the word so that it no longer resembles anything that Pirsig
describes, or that is described by philosophical mystics of all sorts, and
instead construed it as a series of tangible actions throughout a life. This
is just about behavior and personal motives, not union with the ground of
being. And who's to say the woman wasn't in love just because she failed to
act upon it. Maybe she just failed to act upon it. Maybe she never loved the
man she married and only went through the motions in quiet desperation, as
many have? I found the whole thing quite flimsy, but Wittgenstien is worth
repeating. Maybe Mark will help. In any case, I'm post-Christian in
rejecting the "standard expressions of the faith" so much as I am
post-faith. (In the usual sense of the word) When we have experience, there
is no need for faith. The christian myths take on a completely different
meaning from this perspective and I am quite convinced that this is a better
perspective with which to understand their wisdom. And it not just that your
position differs entirely, but it actually seems to constitute an elaborate
system for hiding the central point of religion, to depict DQ, to lead us
toward an identification with the ground of being.
Pirsig's conception of the MoQ is incompatible with Christianity. That's why
I think it needs to be amended ;-)
Amend a thought system to include what the author has already rejected? Wow.
You really don't see anything wrong with that? Honestly? There is certainly
such a thing as an intellecually creative synthesis and then there is
smashing a square peg to fit in a round hole. This is exactly the kind of
self-serving dishonesty that I find so offensive. I realize that I seem
quite undiplomatic in these exchanges, but I have to tell you that if you
know all the thoughts I am holding back, you'd realize that calling your
position incompatible and your approach dishonest is the nicest I can be
while still telling the truth. This is not about some abstract boogeymam,
its a very specific response to the posts of the faithful like yourself.
MOQ.ORG - http://www.moq.org
Aug '98 - Oct '02 - http://alt.venus.co.uk/hypermail/moq_discuss/
Nov '02 Onward - http://www.venus.co.uk/hypermail/moq_discuss/summary.html
MD Queries - email@example.com
To unsubscribe from moq_discuss follow the instructions at:
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Nov 01 2004 - 03:14:07 GMT