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10:13 AM on 12/01/12 
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bung
Peel slowly and see
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So in order to get your respect a religious person has to go through some extreme toll, such as fasting, which I'm guessing you would also find highly irrational. I mean what you're saying is sort of that you think its bullshit that you can be religious without having to do something extra inconvenient. Its not enough to just hold common moral values AND believe in a deity or ultimate meaning behind those values. Although I can agree with the comment about those who pay lip service to a religion when its convenient. But it doesn't really bother me until those same people support things like war or cuts in programs for the poor, which is entirely contradictory to christianity.

In a word, yes (though, I wouldn't necessarily say that your example is wholly irrational, but, depending on the end they wish to achieve, I think there would probably be better ways of securing it). If religion is not generally necessary for ethical behavior, or does not motivate people to go above and beyond the ethical behavior a non-religious person typically performs, then it seems to be that it fails in demonstrating that it provides the necessary impetus to ethical living, specifically in regards to supererogatory deeds. In that sense, I see it as impotent. If I can be just as ethical, find life just as fulfilling, experience the same levels of well-being, etc. as a religious person, then I ask myself: Why be religious? In that sense, I find it superfluous.

And I will also say that I think, religious or otherwise, ethical behavior (especially of the supererogatory variety) is, of necessity, extra inconvenient. Many actions we would consider ethical are never the easy thing to do. It's hard to be ethical, which is why almost everyone falls short in some regard or other. If a person considers themselves religious or ethical, and they merely hold common moral values, without putting those values into practice (often in ways that are highly inconvenient or difficult), then no, they don't have my respect. Theirs is the attempt to gain the favor of people by being thought of as religious or ethical, or just thinking of themselves in such a way, without going the extra mile in actually being religious or ethical. People often seem to think it's enough to not go out of their way to cause harm in order to be ethical. That's surely part of it. But I think many people are ethically lazy and don't really care to go out of their way or significantly change their behavior in order to positively promote good. To me, being religious, and more importantly, being ethical, are not merely cognitive states--they are ways of acting and behaving, especially in ways that go beyond how the common person acts or behaves.
12:20 PM on 12/01/12 
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RyanPm40
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I take issue with the first part of your post. I'm fairly certain that modern ethical doctrines do not "come from" the Ten Commandments. The first three Commandments are, in fact, obsolete and irrelevant to modern ethical systems. Honor thy father and mother and the one about thou shalt not covet anything are only vaguely defensible. The other five have all been hit upon independently by countless other religious and ethical systems distinct and uninfluenced by Christianity. But this is beside the point.

More to the point, if two major religions both espouse the exact same ethical doctrine and values, but differ only in mutually incompatible and mutually indefensible cognitive and theological commitments, then how exactly is either one better, or more true, or preferable, or more conducive to human fulfillment or well-being? The choice between religions really appears irreverent in this light. One may as well roll a die and choose accordingly.



I don't particularly care about the label per se. I care about a label's intensional and extensional content--the properties a term denotes and what those properties map onto in the real world. In the case of Christianity, such a wide and fuzzy intensional content has been created that it no longer provides a meaningful distinction among differing ethical systems. A Christian claims to be a good Christian because they try to live by the Golden Rule? Yeah, okay, them and about seven billion other people, both Christians and non-Christians alike.

If someone wants to call themselves a follower of Jainism, and they occasionally retreat to a dark cave for a month to meditate on the meaning of Truth, avoid harming even the tiniest of insects, follow a strict vegetarian diet, meditate daily to train their mental faculties, and live in near poverty because they're charitable with any extraneous wealth, I can respect that. Even if I don't respect many of their more religious or theological commitments, I can respect the element of devotion they give to a religious idea that is supposed to be life altering. I do not respect paying lip-service to a religion because it's convenient to do so in certain contexts. If I can be a better Christian than many self-proclaimed "Christians," while at the same time actively opposing all their theological and dogmatic commitments, then I see that religion as thoroughly impotent and superfluous.

My theology professor who has a doctorate in religious studies is the one who told me that modern, moral ethics are based off of the 10 commandments. I took his word for it. Whether you agree with it or not, idk, I can't prove or disprove that. And of course the five others can be hit on independently by various religions, hence why I said that all religions tend to converge at a point. Human moral ethics stem from religions in the past.

To your second paragraph, because Catholicism believes in a lot of specific things and there is no religion like it. Just because religions have similar moral codes about how to be a good person doesn't mean they're all the same. I believe in the ten commandments, I believe in original sin, I believe in the sins indicated by my church, I believe in Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, I believe in a second coming of Christ and an apocalypse that no man can ever predict the exact date of, I believe that anybody who assumes they are going into heaven needs serious humbling because that's a dangerous place to be in (The church is all about humility- really, most people go to purgatory where they learn from their mistakes before entering heaven in my religion) , I believe in prayer, miracles, the saints, the angels, etc, etc. There aren't really many religions out there very similar to Christianity, although I have a respect for Islam and Judaism that have a lot of good, respectable practices and both groups believe that Jesus Christ was a prophet and Islam has been quite accepting of Christians in the past.

Look, if you have a problem with people who aren't really Christian calling themselves Christian, so do many people. However, real Christians, who believe in Christianity, Jesus, God, etc... I fail to see how that's the same as other things. For instance, the Catholic church is against just about every liberal thing Obama's tried to legalize, so right there, the Catholic church is different from at least more than half the country's beliefs
12:26 PM on 12/01/12 
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RyanPm40
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In a word, yes (though, I wouldn't necessarily say that your example is wholly irrational, but, depending on the end they wish to achieve, I think there would probably be better ways of securing it). If religion is not generally necessary for ethical behavior, or does not motivate people to go above and beyond the ethical behavior a non-religious person typically performs, then it seems to be that it fails in demonstrating that it provides the necessary impetus to ethical living, specifically in regards to supererogatory deeds. In that sense, I see it as impotent. If I can be just as ethical, find life just as fulfilling, experience the same levels of well-being, etc. as a religious person, then I ask myself: Why be religious? In that sense, I find it superfluous.

And I will also say that I think, religious or otherwise, ethical behavior (especially of the supererogatory variety) is, of necessity, extra inconvenient. Many actions we would consider ethical are never the easy thing to do. It's hard to be ethical, which is why almost everyone falls short in some regard or other. If a person considers themselves religious or ethical, and they merely hold common moral values, without putting those values into practice (often in ways that are highly inconvenient or difficult), then no, they don't have my respect. Theirs is the attempt to gain the favor of people by being thought of as religious or ethical, or just thinking of themselves in such a way, without going the extra mile in actually being religious or ethical. People often seem to think it's enough to not go out of their way to cause harm in order to be ethical. That's surely part of it. But I think many people are ethically lazy and don't really care to go out of their way or significantly change their behavior in order to positively promote good. To me, being religious, and more importantly, being ethical, are not merely cognitive states--they are ways of acting and behaving, especially in ways that go beyond how the common person acts or behaves.

Okay, how about to know the extreme, passionate love of God that is simply incomparable to any love you have ever received here on Earth. To be the best person you can be to enter the gates of Heaven. To have a higher power to cling to for hope, faith, and help. Of course an Atheist doesn't believe this, but Christians believe God answers prayers and performs miracles, so that's cool too (don't try to disprove this to me factually, please. Religion is about faith and there is no way to ever convince me that God doesn't listen to people). How about to have a community of people who support your faith and all have similar beliefs where people can support each-other. How about experiencing the feeling of freedom when God forgives man for his sins. Etc, etc.

Of course some people are "ethically lazy". In religion, God is the perfect being, not humans. It is well understood that we are all sinners and do wrong things, but if you repent and truly mean it, all is forgiven. The goal of Christianity is to try to be the best person you can be and to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We all make mistakes along the way.

http://christianity.about.com/od/new...ristianity.htm
02:11 AM on 12/03/12 
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bung
Peel slowly and see
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To your second paragraph, because Catholicism believes in a lot of specific things and there is no religion like it. Just because religions have similar moral codes about how to be a good person doesn't mean they're all the same. I believe in the ten commandments, I believe in original sin, I believe in the sins indicated by my church, I believe in Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, I believe in a second coming of Christ and an apocalypse that no man can ever predict the exact date of, I believe that anybody who assumes they are going into heaven needs serious humbling because that's a dangerous place to be in (The church is all about humility- really, most people go to purgatory where they learn from their mistakes before entering heaven in my religion) , I believe in prayer, miracles, the saints, the angels, etc, etc. There aren't really many religions out there very similar to Christianity, although I have a respect for Islam and Judaism that have a lot of good, respectable practices and both groups believe that Jesus Christ was a prophet and Islam has been quite accepting of Christians in the past.

Look, if you have a problem with people who aren't really Christian calling themselves Christian, so do many people. However, real Christians, who believe in Christianity, Jesus, God, etc... I fail to see how that's the same as other things. For instance, the Catholic church is against just about every liberal thing Obama's tried to legalize, so right there, the Catholic church is different from at least more than half the country's beliefs

I'm not really referring to the idiosyncratic dogmas of various sects and denominations within a religion, like Catholicism, for example. I realize differing denominations have their particular beliefs that are distinct and a cause for antagonism among other denominations. I mean the broad, liberalizing trend that more "progressive" proponents of various religions advocate. For instance, let's say I'm endorsing a respect for life, humility, the Golden Rule, kindness, love, charity, and so on. Obama and the Catholic Church would surely agree on these values. In fact, what religion would I even be describing? Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism? Who knows. The point is that if we make a religion liberal enough, and say that to practice some religion or other a person only needs to follow and endorse these broad and close to universal values, then the distinctions among practicing various religions cease to be meaningful. Just by living my life how I currently live it I'm simultaneously practicing Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, etc.

Of course, I think this is a great thing. I wholeheartedly endorse the stripping of religions of their various dogmas and their supernaturalism and claiming that all a religion really entails is following a set of core values. I just think that if we continue in this direction then the whole idea of being "religious" becomes a misnomer, since the practice of any given religion will have become completely secularized.

Quote:
Okay, how about to know the extreme, passionate love of God that is simply incomparable to any love you have ever received here on Earth. To be the best person you can be to enter the gates of Heaven. To have a higher power to cling to for hope, faith, and help. Of course an Atheist doesn't believe this, but Christians believe God answers prayers and performs miracles, so that's cool too (don't try to disprove this to me factually, please. Religion is about faith and there is no way to ever convince me that God doesn't listen to people). How about to have a community of people who support your faith and all have similar beliefs where people can support each-other. How about experiencing the feeling of freedom when God forgives man for his sins. Etc, etc.

Of course some people are "ethically lazy". In religion, God is the perfect being, not humans. It is well understood that we are all sinners and do wrong things, but if you repent and truly mean it, all is forgiven. The goal of Christianity is to try to be the best person you can be and to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We all make mistakes along the way.

The one thing here that I think deserves serious consideration is the notion of a community of individuals each supporting one another. I can't dig up the studies right this instant, but most studies indicate that religious people are generally happier than the non-religious. The reason for this, it's been found, is that the religious are typically a part of a community of people who provide support, encouragement, socialization opportunities, and a general sense of belonging. People want to be wanted, to be felt as part of a group. They don't want to be or feel isolated. However, once this is controlled for, or once we begin looking at non-religious people who are also a part of some supporting community or other, the gap in happiness between the religious and the non-religious vanishes. This leads me to the conclusion that it's nothing at all about religion as such that's valuable; rather, what is valuable is the sense of community that religion has historically thrived upon.
08:25 AM on 12/07/12 
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j.napthine
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im an agnostic and i literally cannot make up my mind whatsoever about what i believe. i know that agnostics often get abused for sitting on the fence, but there are so many arguments for and against the existence of some form of deity. im studying philosophy, with no eye to carry on for the future, but i cant get my head around the fact that we'll never actually know whats going on, because science keeps advancing while religion keeps moving the goal posts
02:59 PM on 12/07/12 
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Cereal_Killer
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im an agnostic and i literally cannot make up my mind whatsoever about what i believe. i know that agnostics often get abused for sitting on the fence, but there are so many arguments for and against the existence of some form of deity. im studying philosophy, with no eye to carry on for the future, but i cant get my head around the fact that we'll never actually know whats going on, because science keeps advancing while religion keeps moving the goal posts


here's the key, you can acknowledge a deity without acknowledging religion in general. man cannot prove god nor can he deny it, at least not yet. maybe one day. until then try to separate the reasonable argument of a intelligent designer with bedtime stories of virgins and an afterlife spoken in detail only by people who lived before people acknowledged that the earth was round and 9000 years old (which some still believe to this day)

hopefully it's not just it's the scientific argument to use your brain and evidence and creationists use that to their advantage by point to the fact that while science can detail the creation of the earth it still cannot explain the origin of life.
02:20 AM on 12/09/12 
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mattmatumbo
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im an agnostic and i literally cannot make up my mind whatsoever about what i believe. i know that agnostics often get abused for sitting on the fence, but there are so many arguments for and against the existence of some form of deity. im studying philosophy, with no eye to carry on for the future, but i cant get my head around the fact that we'll never actually know whats going on, because science keeps advancing while religion keeps moving the goal posts

I learned it's better to question than to assume until you come to a realization. I already came to my realization. All in due time, I presume.
10:21 AM on 12/12/12 
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Esrb99
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To your second paragraph, because Catholicism believes in a lot of specific things and there is no religion like it. Just because religions have similar moral codes about how to be a good person doesn't mean they're all the same. I believe in the ten commandments, I believe in original sin, I believe in the sins indicated by my church, I believe in Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, I believe in a second coming of Christ and an apocalypse that no man can ever predict the exact date of, I believe that anybody who assumes they are going into heaven needs serious humbling because that's a dangerous place to be in (The church is all about humility- really, most people go to purgatory where they learn from their mistakes before entering heaven in my religion) , I believe in prayer, miracles, the saints, the angels, etc, etc. There aren't really many religions out there very similar to Christianity, although I have a respect for Islam and Judaism that have a lot of good, respectable practices and both groups believe that Jesus Christ was a prophet and Islam has been quite accepting of Christians in the past.

Look, if you have a problem with people who aren't really Christian calling themselves Christian, so do many people. However, real Christians, who believe in Christianity, Jesus, God, etc... I fail to see how that's the same as other things. For instance, the Catholic church is against just about every liberal thing Obama's tried to legalize, so right there, the Catholic church is different from at least more than half the country's beliefs

I'd like to add that Christians believe Jesus is God. Orthodoxy insists on the continuity of the Christian faith with temple era Judaism, which is exemplified in the literal sacrifice that happens in Catholic/Orthodox worship. For the church, their divine liturgy is the re-presentation of the sacrifice on calvary in an unbloody manner for the perpetual atonement of our sins. As such, the liturgy weds the feasts of Yom Kippur and Passover, uniting their imperfect natures of sacrifice with Christ's perfect immolation at the altar.


Finally, the Catholic Church is also unique in that for over a hundred years it has struggled against the heresy of modernism, and more specifically, Americanism. This heresy is characterized as an insistence upon individual initiative which the Vatican judged to be incompatible with what was considered to be a fundamental principle of Catholicism: obedience to authority. Pope Leo XIII wrote against these ideas in his encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae to Cardinal James Gibbons. In 1898, Leo XIII lamented an America where church and state are "dissevered and divorced" and wrote of his preference for a closer relationship between the Catholic Church and the State along European lines.

In short: claiming the state has the right to propagate objective falsehood out of relativistic ideals is Americanism, and is incompatible with the faith.
10:50 AM on 12/12/12 
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oakhurst
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I'd like to add that Christians believe Jesus is God. Orthodoxy insists on the continuity of the Christian faith with temple era Judaism, which is exemplified in the literal sacrifice that happens in Catholic/Orthodox worship. For the church, their divine liturgy is the re-presentation of the sacrifice on calvary in an unbloody manner for the perpetual atonement of our sins. As such, the liturgy weds the feasts of Yom Kippur and Passover, uniting their imperfect natures of sacrifice with Christ's perfect immolation at the altar.


Finally, the Catholic Church is also unique in that for over a hundred years it has struggled against the heresy of modernism, and more specifically, Americanism. This heresy is characterized as an insistence upon individual initiative which the Vatican judged to be incompatible with what was considered to be a fundamental principle of Catholicism: obedience to authority. Pope Leo XIII wrote against these ideas in his encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae to Cardinal James Gibbons. In 1898, Leo XIII lamented an America where church and state are "dissevered and divorced" and wrote of his preference for a closer relationship between the Catholic Church and the State along European lines.

In short: claiming the state has the right to propagate objective falsehood out of relativistic ideals is Americanism, and is incompatible with the faith.

Actually, Christians believe Jesus to be God's son. I think you're getting confused with the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirt) being as one. I have never met a Christian or someone with the Christian faith believe that Jesus and Jehovah are the same.
11:22 AM on 12/12/12 
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Esrb99
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Actually, Christians believe Jesus to be God's son. I think you're getting confused with the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirt) being as one. I have never met a Christian or someone with the Christian faith believe that Jesus and Jehovah are the same.

If someone does not believe that the father, son, and holy spirit are each and wholly God, then he or she is not a Christian, in the orthodox Trinitarian sense. In fact, you even affermed it in the bolded portion I quoted. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on the Trinity:

Quote:
"The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons or hypostases: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct, yet are one "substance, essence or nature".A nature is what one is, while a person is who one is.

The Trinity is considered to be a mystery of Christian faith. According to this doctrine, there is only one God in three persons. Each person is God, whole and entire. They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: as the Fourth Lateran Council declared, "it is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds". While distinct in their relations with one another, they are one in all else. The whole work of creation and grace is a single operation common to all three divine persons, who at the same time operate according to their unique properties, so that all things are from the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. The three persons are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial."

If you look further in the entry on the Trinity, the authors of the Wiki page devote and title a specific section to both "Jesus as God" and "Holy Spirit as God".

The denial of Jesus as fully God and fully Man has been seen as a heresy for nearly 2,000 years, with one of the most well-known instances of it's debate involving Saint Nicholas (of Santa Claus fame):

Quote:
"The Arian controversy was a Trinitarian dispute that began in Alexandria between the followers of Arius (the Arians) and the followers of St. Alexander of Alexandria (now known as Homoousians). Alexander and his followers believed that the Son was co-eternal with the Father, and divine in just the same sense that the Father is. The Arians believed that the Son shared neither the eternity nor the true divinity of the Father, but was merely the most perfect of the creatures.

In 325, he was one of many bishops to answer the request of Constantine and appear at the Council of Nicaea. There, Nicholas, Bishop of Myra was a staunch anti-Arian and defender of the Orthodox Christian position, and one of the bishops who signed the Nicene Creed. Church legend holds that during the proceedings at Nicaea, Nicholas became so angry at the position of Arius - that Jesus Christ was a created being and not fully God - that he walked up to Arius and slapped him in the face.

The Council declared that the Son was true God, co-eternal with the Father and begotten from His same substance, arguing that such a doctrine best codified the Scriptural presentation of the Son as well as traditional Christian belief about him handed down from the Apostles. Under Constantine's influence this belief was expressed by the bishops in the Nicene Statement, which would form the basis of what has since been known as the Nicene Creed."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_C....28Arianism.29

EDIT: TL;DR version of Santa story:

12:12 PM on 12/12/12 
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oakhurst
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If someone does not believe that the father, son, and holy spirit are each and wholly God, then he or she is not a Christian, in the orthodox Trinitarian sense. In fact, you even affermed it in the bolded portion I quoted. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on the Trinity:



If you look further in the entry on the Trinity, the authors of the Wiki page devote and title a specific section to both "Jesus as God" and "Holy Spirit as God".

The denial of Jesus as fully God and fully Man has been seen as a heresy for nearly 2,000 years, with one of the most well-known instances of it's debate involving Saint Nicholas (of Santa Claus fame):



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_C....28Arianism.29

You made is seem as if Christians think Jesus is Jehovah though, I was just saying they don't think that. Jesus is Jehovah's son.
12:21 PM on 12/12/12 
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Esrb99
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You made is seem as if Christians think Jesus is Jehovah though, I was just saying they don't think that. Jesus is Jehovah's son.

I don't think I did. The statement that Jesus is God is true-at least for Christians. For Christians, Jesus being the son of the Father and Jesus being God are not mutually exclusive.

You bolded where I said "Jesus is God" and implied that I was incorrect in that statement from a Christian viewpoint. I was not. Jesus is God, the Father is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. They are what is called consubstantial (of the same being-that being God wholly and immaterially) with each other.

It is true though that a lot of self-professed Christians don't believe or even know that Jesus is God. This is the result of liberation theology and the modernist heresy, which overemphasized the humanity of Christ and his corporal works of mercy and deemphasized his divinity. However this line of thought is denounced viciously by Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and most if not all mainstream protestant (especially Trinitarian) Ecclesiastical Communities.

If someone says that they are Christian and don't think Jesus is God, they really don't know what professing faith as a Christian really is.
12:46 PM on 12/12/12 
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jawstheme
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I'm a heretic.
04:33 PM on 12/12/12 
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Love As Arson
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I mean, the Catholic church is a remnant from centuries ago. And I do not mean that in the new Atheist, condescending manner. Quite concretely, the relations which brought it to prominence, made it a relevant social force in perpetuating particular structures, and, consequently, made kings bow to it, no longer exist. It is no wonder that the pope speaks out against the separation of church and state, as well as against capital; he desires the bygone era of the slave society or feudal relations where they were part of the political superstructure in a very real way.
04:56 PM on 12/12/12 
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JordanKTM
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What's it like to be a heretic?



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