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Civil Religion as Ritual

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  • Larry Chappell
    Bill Riggs Wrote: It is only too tempting to classify such things as a liturgy - a word that in its original Greek predates Christianity and only underscores
    Message 1 of 4 , Dec 1, 2004
      Bill Riggs Wrote:

      It is only too tempting to classify such things as a "liturgy" - a word that in its original Greek predates Christianity and only underscores the political as well as the entertaining function of the dramatic arts.
      But it strikes me that Hobbes recommends something darker than a play. It may be a show, but does it mean the same thing as a St. Patrick's Day parade ?


      Chappell Replies:

      I would have to go back and refresh my memory of Chapter 30 of Leviathan, but it seems that what Hobbes wants to do is to assemble people to remind them that accepting public authority is better than practicing anarchy. This strikes me as a good idea. I am teaching American Government for the first time in a while. I am always amazed at how little awareness college students have of their ambiguous dependence on government. It requires developing some Hobbesian and Lockean themes to increase their awareness of how much their peace and prosperity is tied to allegiance. They need to develop some prudential gratitude to resist the pervasiveness of anti-government rhetoric and myopic individualism in American culture. I agree with Mr. Jones, in his post on gratitude, that gratitude for peace, prosperity (and freedom) does not exhaust the potential scope of political gratitude, much less a deeper gratitude. It is not chopped liver either.

      Bill Riggs Wrote:

      So one question is whether symbolism allows for alternative interpretations, which are more or less articulated. However, if these understandings are disjoint, then is the "unity and sense of participation" more apparent than it is real ? Undoubtedly, there are many who value community for its own sake, but for what purpose does the community exist, and how do the symbols articulate that purpose ?


      Chappell Replies:

      Rituals, like symbols, are elliptical. You cannot reduce their meaning to a proposition or two. That means they are ambiguous, subject to perspective and suffer the threat of losing their meaning for participants. We should resist the threat of meaninglessness. When I stand for the national anthem the meaning is not all that obscure. I want to express, in common with others, my loyalty to and love for the United States. I am willing to entertain the possibility that my loyalty is misplaced or idolatrous, but I need to hear something I have not heard so far.


      Larry Chappell
      larchap@...

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Owen Jones
      The idea of a loyalty oath, ritualistically expressed, has been addressed in this thread. The pledge is a public ritualistic loyalty oath which would have
      Message 2 of 4 , Dec 1, 2004
        The idea of a loyalty oath, ritualistically expressed, has been addressed in this thread. The pledge is a public ritualistic loyalty oath which would have been seen as idolatrous by Christians of previous centuries. The pledge develops out of the 19th Century Christian socialist movement and the wildly popular book "Looking Backward," a utopian novel that spawned a political cell movement that laid the groundwork for making leftism in America respectable and non-Marxist.

        My understanding is that judges would excuse Christians from taking an oath in court in the 19th Century, if they objected.

        One conclusiono to be drawn is that standards change, or lapse, as secularization expands, and the state expands its sphere of influence into areas of transcendent meaning. Or, if you look at it historically, the pendulum has swung from a long period of strong church/weak state to strong state/weak church. Generally speaking (admittedly a broad sweeping generalization that would need to be refined) the state now represents salvation and the Church (or churches) provide individuals, families and groups with a sense of cultural identity and belonging. The kind of "new tribalism" that Voegelin identifies. The traditional roles are somewhat reversed.

        The observation that young people today have nihilistic anti-government feelings is a step in the right direction as compared to the sixties when the youth movement saw Red China as the model for political correctness. As a sidebar, I am aware of a monastery in California that has seen some success in recruiting from among Goths. So some degree of nihilism may be a good social trend. Like Derrida reading Dionysius.


        Larry Chappell <larchap@...> wrote:


        Chappell Replies:

        When I stand for the national anthem the meaning is not all that obscure. I want to express, in common with others, my loyalty to and love for the United States. I am willing to entertain the possibility that my loyalty is misplaced or idolatrous, but I need to hear something I have not heard so far.


        Larry Chappell
        larchap@...

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



        In consideratione creaturarum non est vana
        et peritura curiositas exercenda; sed gradus
        ad immortalia et semper manentia faciendus.
        �St Augustine De vera religione


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      • Larry Chappell
        My students are not nihilistic. They are good half- Lockeans who have been taught to mistrust government. Skepticism about government is a good thing. What
        Message 3 of 4 , Dec 1, 2004
          My students are not nihilistic. They are good half- Lockeans who have been
          taught to mistrust government. Skepticism about government is a good
          thing. What students miss is the other half of the Lockean equation --
          government is a necessary condition of security and prosperity.

          I am opposed to loyalty oaths. I earlier expressed my agreement with the
          Court in West Virginia V. Barnnete prohibiting enforced flag salutes. That
          hardly prohibits the regime from encouraging loyalty or indicts me for
          being loyal. I am also for accommodating people who withdraw from full
          citizenship (e.g., the Amish) or those Jeff Spinner calls partial citizens
          (e.g. Hasidic Jews). Being for loyalty does not require one to enforce
          loyalty.

          Rank disloyalty is, at best, a harmless outburst, a phase that kids go
          through. At worst, it is a threat to the republic. If someone wants to sit
          during the national anthem at a football game -- leave him unmolested. If
          he wants to blow up Federal buildings in Oklahoma City.....

          Larry Chappell
          larchap@...



          > [Original Message]
          > From: Owen Jones <metaxyreality@...>
          > To: <evforum@yahoogroups.com>
          > Date: 12/1/2004 6:37:09 AM
          > Subject: Re: [evforum] Civil Religion as Ritual
          >
          >
          > The idea of a loyalty oath, ritualistically expressed, has been addressed
          in this thread. The pledge is a public ritualistic loyalty oath which
          would have been seen as idolatrous by Christians of previous centuries. The
          pledge develops out of the 19th Century Christian socialist movement and
          the wildly popular book "Looking Backward," a utopian novel that spawned a
          political cell movement that laid the groundwork for making leftism in
          America respectable and non-Marxist.
          >
          > My understanding is that judges would excuse Christians from taking an
          oath in court in the 19th Century, if they objected.
          >
          > One conclusion to be drawn is that standards change, or lapse, as
          secularization expands, and the state expands its sphere of influence into
          areas of transcendent meaning. Or, if you look at it historically, the
          pendulum has swung from a long period of strong church/weak state to strong
          state/weak church. Generally speaking (admittedly a broad sweeping
          generalization that would need to be refined) the state now represents
          salvation and the Church (or churches) provide individuals, families and
          groups with a sense of cultural identity and belonging. The kind of "new
          tribalism" that Voegelin identifies. The traditional roles are somewhat
          reversed.
          >
          > The observation that young people today have nihilistic anti-government
          feelings is a step in the right direction as compared to the sixties when
          the youth movement saw Red China as the model for political correctness.
          As a sidebar, I am aware of a monastery in California that has seen some
          success in recruiting from among Goths. So some degree of nihilism may be
          a good social trend. Like Derrida reading Dionysius.
          >
          >
          > Larry Chappell <larchap@...> wrote:
          >
          >
          > Chappell Replies:
          >
          > When I stand for the national anthem the meaning is not all that
          obscure. I want to express, in common with others, my loyalty to and love
          for the United States. I am willing to entertain the possibility that my
          loyalty is misplaced or idolatrous, but I need to hear something I have not
          heard so far.
          >
          >
          > Larry Chappell
          > larchap@...
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          > In consideratione creaturarum non est vana
          > et peritura curiositas exercenda; sed gradus
          > ad immortalia et semper manentia faciendus.
          > �St Augustine De vera religione
          >
          >
          > Yahoo! Groups SponsorADVERTISEMENT
          >
          >
          > ---------------------------------
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          > To visit your group on the web, go to:
          > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/evforum/
          >
          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > evforum-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
          >
          >
          > __________________________________________________
          > Do You Yahoo!?
          > Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
          > http://mail.yahoo.com
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > In consideratione creaturarum non est vana
          > et peritura curiositas exercenda; sed gradus
          > ad immortalia et semper manentia faciendus.
          > �St Augustine De vera religione
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
        • Tudor
          ... anti-government feelings is a step in the right direction as compared to the sixties when the youth movement saw Red China as the model for political
          Message 4 of 4 , Dec 1, 2004
            --- In evforum@yahoogroups.com, Owen Jones <metaxyreality@y...> wrote:


            > The observation that young people today have nihilistic
            anti-government feelings is a step in the right direction as compared
            to the sixties when the youth movement saw Red China as the model for
            political correctness. As a sidebar, I am aware of a monastery in
            California that has seen some success in recruiting from among Goths.
            So some degree of nihilism may be a good social trend. Like Derrida
            reading Dionysius.
            >

            Well, Goths are fascinated by religion so they make an easy
            prey, so to speak . They dress in black, have a sense of community,
            listen to emotional dirge-like music, wear religious-symbolic
            accessories & love church buildings...
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