Episode 162: The Westminster Declaration

What do Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, John Cleese, Yanis Varoufakis, Richard Dawkins and Walter Kirn have in common? They are all, despite holding very different political beliefs, very concerned about the future of political discourse in Western democracies.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://privatecitizen.press/episode/162
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Yay! A new episode!

Early in the episode you talked about religion, and while I’m also non-religious, and I seem to have a similar position as you do regarding religion, but somehow there’s always the need to make the distinction between the bad side of religion and the (potentially) good side.

Let me here propose something: I think the issue is that we use one word “Religion” to refer to two distinct things, and from my point of view, making this distinction, makes it easier to take a position.

On one side, you have “organized religions” where you have a creed, that is being propagated and dictated by a central authority.

On the other, you have the “personal belief”, which stems from ones recognition of our own limitations.

The important distinction for me is “who dictates”: is it just a packaged belief system that you just have to follow, or is it the person himself selecting, based on his own understanding, how to live his life and how to behave towards other people.

This brings back the hot topic that is in discussion nowadays about “Truth”: having a central authority dictating what is “The Truth” is always bad, and that’s why I agree with you about Communism and Nazism, and recent attempts to dictate “The Truth”: they are all in this sense “Religions”.

Switching to another topic and just to give a different point of view, you commented about the land there as not nice, and middle of the desert: Actually that area, especially the coastal region is fertile agricultural land.

There’s of course the Negev desert, but you have oil there.

And recently there was the Leviathan gas field, which was discovered on the coast, and Israel was the first to put it to use.

So, unfortunately, there is a reason to fight and kill over that land.

Finally, thank you for the interesting quote from Babylon 5: “Understanding is a three edged sword”.

I have never watched Babylon 5, so now I’m curious.

Thank you again for the informative episode.

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But isn’t religion per definition always the second thing? Religion, for me, is a belief system that many people have in common. Which necessitates a certain amount of organisation.

The thing about the term “organised religion” is that, in human history, religion always gets organised sooner rather than later. I have no idea why. Probably because people figure out that there’s power in it rather quickly.

But in essence, you are right. If you just have beliefs, I have no issue with it. The issue starts when people go around trying to push their beliefs on others. Which, in the worst excesses, ends in things like the Holocaust and the Gaza situation.

Is it? I had no idea. But that isn’t really the reason why people fight over it, right? The reason people fight over it is those three books.

Side note: Watch Babylon 5. It’s free on Amazon’s Freevee if you have that locally. The CGI is horrible, but if you watch it with a technical interest into it being the first all-CGI-SFX show on television, even that is interesting.

This is why I wanted to make the distinction. I feel that confusing these two “modes” is very common, and maybe not intentional, but after writing my first response, I was thinking about it, and this thought came to mind: personal belief, for me, comes from the realization that we are limited: we don’t know everything, we cannot control our circumstances.

But this creates the foothold for an organized religion to fill the gap: you jump from feeling helpless, with no knowledge to having absolute confidence that you know exactly why everything is and what it’s destined to be.

I’m a “conspiracy theorist” ( :wink: ): I don’t believe all that people say.

Please understand: For sure a lot (if not most) people might have this belief about the “Sacred land” (most if not all of my family), but I still believe that there are people who use this just as an excuse for ulterior motives.

I wanted to ask you where you were watching it. And I’ve never heard of Freevee before!

But checking it now, it’s seems that Babylon 5 is not available in the Czech Republic.

Maybe I will need a VPN :thinking:

And regarding the CGI: if the story is good, I won’t mind.

I recently ran out of Star Trek episodes to watch, so I started to watch the Animated Series.

I don’t think old CGI will not manage to top that quality!

Damn! I was guessing some local bullshit would mess this up!

If you have a Blu Ray player, it might very well be worth waiting a month for the new remaster coming out. JMS has given it his blessing.


As a backgrounder, this might be interesting:

Babylon 5 was ahead of its time in many ways…


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I identify myself as a Discordian. In Discordianism, it is explicitly understood that every human has a way of directly communicating with the God, and nobody’s communication is clearer or more “true” than anyone else’s.

This seems to guard Discordianism (or any religion with similar clauses) from becoming an organized religion even if it gains a lot of followers: by definition, no one can tell you what God wants you to do, because they can’t know it better than you yourself can.

So no, not every religion necessitates organisation.

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ALl Hail Discordia :wink:.

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That’s certainly a very interesting take in it.

I guarantee you, if that religion takes off and gains millions of followers, someone will find a way to organise it. No doubt in my mind.

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“I want to be a nonconformist, like everyone else!”

Isn’t that how the political left turned into the new totalitarian elite and punk into meainstream culture?

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I think you have it backwards: a religion that has no good way to be organized hardly stands a chance of getting millions of followers. That’s exactly because without someone being able to use the religion to their benefit, no one has an incentive to aggressively promote that religion down everybody’s throats.

I mean, you could be right there.

I first and foremost see the concept of religion from the perspective of political power. That’s clearly my bias as a fairly anti-religious person who’s studied some history and politics. :slightly_smiling_face:

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