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pefjr
05-03-2012, 10:15 AM
Maybe so. SamF, this might interest you.

http://news.yahoo.com/atheists-more-inclined-help-fellow-man-religious-people-014607051.html (http://news.yahoo.com/atheists-more-inclined-help-fellow-man-religious-people-014607051.html)

TomF
05-03-2012, 10:44 AM
Maybe so. SamF, this might interest you.

http://news.yahoo.com/atheists-more-inclined-help-fellow-man-religious-people-014607051.html An interesting update on what's unfortunately old news. Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan touches on pretty much the same themes ... that identity and doctrine among the Religious can and do prevent people from doing what ought to be common, decent things.

We've no idea if the Samaritan in Jesus' story was an atheist or not ... but we do know that Samaritans were marginalized in all the official practice of religion stuff which Jesus used as a contrast in his parable.

B_B
05-03-2012, 10:57 AM
Which is why the whole move to faith based 'charity' as opposed to welfare, and religious education as opposed to a well funded and run education system for all is so regressive.

PhaseLockedLoop
05-03-2012, 02:23 PM
Provocative question you've got there as your signature. Despite much study, it's supposedly never been satisfactorily answered. I'd say 42.

B_B
05-03-2012, 02:30 PM
Knew a girl in Grade 11 named Boychuck. I rephrased that ditty (I'm such a ba$tard).

TomF
05-03-2012, 02:40 PM
A friend claims that she was recently at a christening for a boy who was called "William Danger Jones."

Yep, that's right. "Danger" really is his middle name.

PLL? 42 sounds like as good an answer as any. :D

skuthorp
05-03-2012, 05:01 PM
Hmm, possibly less judgemental but I think it mostly comes down to the individual. That said there is no doubt that church based organisations can be the most dedicated to compassion to others, but also the most discriminatory and violent in the propagation of their versions of god. It's not about god, it's about the human animal.

Peerie Maa
05-03-2012, 05:37 PM
Which is why the whole move to faith based 'charity' as opposed to welfare, and religious education as opposed to a well funded and run education system for all is so regressive.
However the Sally Army demonstrates that you can have faith based welfare, and the Sunday School movement that existed in the NW of England was a truly useful religious education movement.

B_B
05-03-2012, 08:12 PM
... I think it mostly comes down to the individual...
The issue in question is when you have a bunch of individuals thinking alike. Hitler would be nobody if he was the only fella who thought that way.


]Originally Posted by B_B http://forum.woodenboat.com/images/buttons/viewpost-right.png
(http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?p=3399807#post3399807)Which is why the whole move to faith based 'charity' as opposed to welfare, and religious education as opposed to a well funded and run education system for all is so regressive.However the Sally Army demonstrates that you can have faith based welfare, and the Sunday School movement that existed in the NW of England was a truly useful religious education movement.[/QUOTE]
Absolutely. But, again, the OP makes clear that these are exceptions, not the rule. Public Policy ought be made because of prevailing realities, not exceptions.

Peerie Maa
05-04-2012, 07:51 AM
The issue in question is when you have a bunch of individuals thinking alike. Hitler would be nobody if he was the only fella who thought that way.


Absolutely. But, again, the OP makes clear that these are exceptions, not the rule. Public Policy ought be made because of prevailing realities, not exceptions.

But why are they exceptions, what is it about the majority of Christian sects that causes them to get it wrong? Is it perhaps that the 3 score years and ten pale into insignificance against eternity. So you need to focus on getting the ritual right, rather than listen to some sandalled eccentrics 2000 yo lectures?

The ability of a church to get it right is not just limited to Booth. The campus that The Under Manager attends was built by the parish church (Catholic) in Everton, because they could see the need for education.http://www.acspecialprojects.com/images/liverpool-hope-college/cornerstone1.jpg
Individual churches scattered around the globe do get it right, but there is no consistence. The Sally Army seems to be the only one with the idea at the core of their creed.

John Smith
05-04-2012, 08:18 AM
This doesn't surprise me. I'm not a religious guy. I think religion is a bad thing. I can cite several examples in my life where I've stepped forward to help people.

One was just a guy trying to put a big, heavy box onto his truck by himself. I was walking by with three friends; all from deeply religious families, and all consistant church goers. I suggested we give the guy a hand with the box. It took less than a minute out of our lives, and we all felt better for having done it.

At a breakfast with a group, the bill came with a $10 mistake in our favor. They were all set to keep the money. I, the non believer, protested this would not be honest. If you check the math, correct the error regardless of whose favor it was in.

When my wife worked at Children's Place there was a girl there having terrible emotional problems between her and her mom. I'm the one who suggested they need a short break from each other, as the mom is likely having similar problems, so we offered her to sleep on our couch for a week. She stayed for 5 days. Then, at my suggestion, she met her mom for lunch at a restaurant. They seemingly did quite well after that. Sometimes on just needs a short break.

John Smith
05-04-2012, 08:52 AM
My thought is that religion has no connection to morality, charity, or any of those things. Religious people just believe it does. Religious beliefs may underpin the doing of some good, but let us not forget the evil religion has been used to justify.

I remember when I used to watch afternoon talk shows like Donahue. Whenever someone started his sentence with, "I'm a Christian........" something very unChistian like was about to come out of the mouth.

TomF
05-04-2012, 10:11 AM
John, I appreciate your view - and your view is shared by many. In fact, it's become rather in vogue these days, at least in some circles, to take pretty serious whacks at religion. There's a strand of modern atheism which is not only atheistic, but anti-theistic ... rather sharply and aggressively anti-religious and anti- whatever religious institutions or practices are out there. Frankly, the more educated the slice of the population, the more likely one is to encounter this strand of atheism ... it's all but normative in Universities, for instance, just as particular varieties of Feminism are all but normative.

And it's obvious that there are, and have always been, religious communities that are vastly anti-compassionate. It doesn't take a moment to discover zillions of examples using Google ... and pretty much all of us have personal, direct experience of any number of religious folks acting hypocritically, judgmentally, apparently denying what they claim are the fundamental tenets of their belief systems. Calling into question that those things actually are the fundamental tenets of those belief systems. Taking the moral high ground means painting a target on yourself - it exactly parallels the kerfuffle about whether participants at or near the Republican convention should be allowed to carry guns.

I'm a religious guy. I don't recognize myself in the sexual abuse scandals, abortion clinic bombings, incitements to gay-hating, etc. I don't go there, nor do the people with whom I associate ... and who share my religious beliefs. We work at the food bank, support folks with mental disabilities, take people into our homes (and bank accounts) who are in one or another kind of trouble. Etc. No, religious people are not the only people doing this - but in our local community kitchen, probably 80% of the volunteers my wife and I rub shoulders with are from a church ... or mosque.

There is one helluva lot of philanthropy that happens outside of religious institutions, and it's a damned good thing that it does. But there's also one helluva lot of philanthropy that happens as a direct expression of religious faith, that still happens that way, and in my experience it's disproportionate to the number of people doing it.

Religion has, as I've said countless times, been as much a marker of identity (like nationalism, ethnicity, class) as of actual belief. But the dominant religious traditions are, at their core, about developing and supporting compassion and an ethic of service. It's as true of Buddhism and Hinduism and Islam as it is of Christianity - and it really is true of Christianity. Read what Jesus actually said, how he counselled people to actually live, and you'll be in no doubt of the founder's intent.

Feel free to observe (as I do) that Religion when expressed as a marker of identity or tribalism is absolutely as virulent as any other expression of identity or tribalism. Countless have allegedly died or killed for their faith over the centuries ... perhaps as many as have died or killed for their country, their economic system, their language, their "liberty." Identity's a powerful thing, and one helluva motivator.

But Democracy or America or Western Culture aren't inherently evil, despite the millions who've died or killed in their names. In fact, though people have manipulated others in the names of those structures ... the structures themselves are good. They point towards, support, and create value ... despite the blood they've been covered with over the centuries.

Religion is no different. And frankly, I'm someone who grounds myself in my experience of God ... God is every bit as actual, real, immediate as the keyboard on which I'm typing. The spiritual is similarly actual, not pretend. I respect your (and others') right to disagree and question my sanity on this ... but I'm afraid that my experience will be rather hard to shake me from ... and I'm not about to be persuaded that neither God nor the spiritual are actual. Just as you'll not be able to persuade me that species didn't grow in diversity through evolution, or that the Earth is a planet within a solar system within an unimaginably old universe. These things are equally real, equally "solid."

Compassion is a human trait, and one which for most of us, needs to be nurtured and grown if it is to become really dominant. Religious pathways are one way in which compassion can be grown - but only when the path is followed for such a purpose, rather than for the purpose of distinguishing one identity group from another. But a swift look at the Dalai Lama, at Desmond Tutu, at 80% or so of the folks serving at your local homeless shelter ... will show that religious belief(s) are indeed effective ways to grow compassion ... for those who use them to that end.

t

bob winter
05-04-2012, 10:39 AM
Very well put, Tom. I cannot share your faith but I can and do respect it. I cannot make the leap to faith and I do not expect that I ever will but I also cannot make the leap to whatever is required to be an atheist which I find equally beyond grasp. Being an atheist, being sure in your own mind that there is no God, cannot be easy.

I have had experiences that indicate to me that there is more than the material world that we live in every day but that does not necessarily lead me to a belief in God as expressed in most religions, Christian or otherwise.

As far as I am concerned, the jury is out as far as God is concerned but, if there is one, he, she, they, or it have not done much of a job.

I like to think I am a compassionate person but I do not make a show of it. Actually, I operate in public as quite the opposite. What I do in private is private.

PhaseLockedLoop
05-04-2012, 11:45 AM
I've mentioned this here before, but here it is again. I'm not religious, and I've always had trouble believing that anyone actually believes the many religious doctrines that seem so nonsensical to me.

However, for many years ('92-'06) I was on the Board of an endowed Foundation (based first in Boston, and later in Detroit) that gave away about $200,000 a year, in grants of 5,000 to 15,000 each, to a dozen or more 501 (c)(3) charities. The mission of the Foundation was to find charities with heavy volunteer support who served the needs of the poor, homeless, etc., and needed relatively small infusions of cash to keep their volunteer operation going. Accordingly we visited lots of soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, legal aid outfits, services for vets, released criminals, recreation centers, etc., looking for good charities to help. We required that they be mostly run by volunteers, since our small grants would be quickly eaten up salaries otherwise. What we found was that nearly all such organizations were run by churches, or headed by church people, and the volunteers were recruited almost exclusively from religious organizations. A few of these outfits were a bit smarmy, by only a few. The rest were staffed and run by volunteers who devoted from a few hours to twenty or more hours a week to actually work with the people they served.

That such charities are needed is a symptom of a broken society, and a decent social system should provide most of this support routinely. We don't have a decent social system, of course. I'd be happy to pay more taxes for a better social safety net, and so, I discovered, would most of the people volunteering at these charities. I'm fairly quick to donate a bit of money to a worthy cause. But when it comes down to it, I'm not happy actually volunteering my time to provide such support directly, person to person, to people in need. A hell of a lot of religious people are willing to do it. So in such cases, it comes down to what's meant by "inclined to help your fellow man." Like, actually help? Or pay somebody else to help?

TomF
05-04-2012, 12:28 PM
A lot of religious folks live with a paradox, PLL. There's a group of us trying to set up a L'Arche home for folks with mental disabilities here in Fredericton, and while some of the group are parents of adults with such disabilities who are looking for an eventual home for their (or similar) adult children, about half of the group have worked with this population before (for upwards of 10 years, in a couple of cases) and know the need. Not only that, know firsthand the rewards which they themselves feel, and felt, doing the caregiving.

Not stupid people, I'll hastily add. In our group of about a dozen, there's an Oncologist, 3 PhDs, a lawyer, and a couple of folks with other professional designations. Two of the couples became couples, when they met the people they ultimately married while working in L'Arche homes elsewhere.

To a person, they talk about the turnaround in their own thinking which they experience, and experienced. They almost all started doing this work from a sense of service - a sense that it was meaningful, worthy, necessary. But that they were the people giving care, and were clear about who was the recipient of care. And to a person, they talk about having that orientation challenged. Of finding themselves being cared for in ways they'd not imagined - of having hurts they didn't know existed being addressed quite matter-of-factly.

Now, there's still a helluva lot of grunt work, which frankly burns people out. There's a lot of stress, not least because the work is always done on less than a shoestring and the need is enormous. And some people just aren't suited for it, for any number of reasons. That's fine - there's lots of very fine stuff I'm not suited for - I'd be a horrible accountant, for instance. But those going in with a religious orientation are often looking for an opportunity to serve, and while there are looking for an opportunity for spiritual growth. And recognize/interpret those opportunities for growth differently, perhaps, than those who enter the work for other reasons.

I'm rambling, and am having a hard time saying this. But at the very same time that you're cleaning up somebody who's covered in vomit or excrement, trimming their toenails, or are helping calm someone down who's having an episode, you're serving God. You're encountering, are in the presence of God. And you're simultaneously repelled by some aspects of the physical work, while healed and nurtured by the presence itself. It's a real, genuine experience - one which each of the folks in our L'Arche planning group described on a personal level ... while also describing some very hard (and sometimes hilarious) other aspects of caregiving. In more cases than we'd think, the people described the same experience through both of those lenses.

Sam F
05-06-2012, 09:36 AM
Maybe so. SamF, this might interest you.

http://news.yahoo.com/atheists-more-inclined-help-fellow-man-religious-people-014607051.html (http://news.yahoo.com/atheists-more-inclined-help-fellow-man-religious-people-014607051.html)

Interesting?
Not really.
It's so easily refuted by the data that it's hardly worth the bother...
Fact: The Catholic Church is largest non-profit provider of health care in this country - and that doesn't count other charitable activities.
Fact: All the other Churches do quite a bit too.

Nice try though.