As sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal

 

As a bit of a night owl, these days, I usually close out my day nearly an hour after midnight. The late-night review of the morning newspapers on BBC News 24 is part of the routine, giving the pleasing illusion of knowing in advance what lesser mortals will only discover over breakfast the next day; then there is a solid session of dry academic reading to send me to sleep.

Fortified in this way with the sense that I have been virtuously busy, I feel no compunction to be an early riser; seldom do I get up before nine. But often I will have been awake long before that, tuning in to Today on Radio 4. This is not an option on Sunday, though; and being too lazy to change channel I find myself stuck with the religious news on Sunday, from 7 AM, then Sunday Worship, from a bit after 8 AM.

What a terrible predicament for an insomniac atheist!

Except that it isn’t. Sunday, admittedly, is all too often preoccupied with handwringing over clerical child abuse but is occasionally interesting. But Sunday Worship only disappoints when the music is too happy-clappy and the message too moronic. Usually, it is neither. Instead, I find the hymns, especially, but also the lessons and sermons, in which there is often a thoughtful exploration of the scriptures, make a significant contribution to my day.

Did I mention the Jesuits? Perhaps I was inspired by the BBC’s Sunday Worship programme.

How so? What could religion possibly offer to those of us who can see no grounds for belief in God, and who know that Christianity has traditionally tended to disapprove of all sexual expression except within marriage for the purpose of baby-making?

While I have often reflected privately on this conundrum, my inspiration for now pondering it publicly at Heretic TOC comes in part from recent discussion with one particular heretic here – not a very heretical one, it should be said! – whose faith is clearly important to him and whose views I respect even as I disagree with them.

My continued attachment to the scriptures and the hymns undoubtedly has a foundation that goes to the very depths of my soul – if it can be said that I have one. Let’s just say it touches the essence of who I feel I am; and it has been a matter of abiding sentiment that has never left me in all my 75 years, or as many of them as are accessible to memory – three score years and ten, shall we say, or not far short.

The six-page folding membership card includes daily Bible readings and hints for daily prayer.

It is a deep emotional attachment, in other words, grounded in childhood. As the founder of the Jesuits is supposed to have said, “Give me the child for the first seven years and I will give you the man.” In my case the big influence was not the Jesuits, or my parents, but a primary school teacher, Miss Hewitt, who introduced us kids to The Scripture Union. Under the spell of her passionate proselytizing, I joined enthusiastically.

By the age of ten, it may surprise some to learn, I was a rather devout little Christian, perhaps insufferably so to my less pious peers – although I did manage to “convert” one boy to the faith, winning at least his verbal commitment to Jesus. As far as I can remember, I didn’t even have to threaten him with eternal damnation if he refused! Yo! Result!

Early in my secondary school life we were addressed by a guest of honour: Bishop Philip Strong of New Guinea, a missionary in the old imperial style. The son of an English vicar, he was part of a long tradition of ministers leaving home to spread the Gospel in far-flung parts of the globe – usually to places coloured pink on the map to signify that they “belonged” to the British Empire. If they didn’t end up being eaten by cannibals (a fate much loved by the newspaper cartoonists of the day), they would succeed in planting the Cross as the flag of the church, alongside the Union Jack.

To my uncritical mind at the time, taking the word of God to the savage natives was a brave and noble mission. Inspired, I told my mum about the bishop’s visit and his wonderful work. She was thrilled, apparently seeing my excitement as a revelation from above: one day, she told me, you will surely be a missionary yourself!

Perhaps she was right. Much of my adult life has been spent in a sort of missionary role. But omens are notoriously hard to interpret: ominously, what this one did not portend was the nature of the mission I would serve!

While I cannot remember exactly what Strong said, he would surely have told us that the Japanese had invaded in the war and killed a number of missionaries and native converts, who were later honoured as the New Guinea Martyrs. The bishop himself bore a heavy share of responsibility for this: living up to his name, he had stayed strong by remaining in post on the island, ordering his fellow clergy to do the same.

Brave? Or irresponsible? Whatever we might think now, as a boy I must have been mightily impressed. I loved the idea of standing one’s ground and fighting for a cause, even a lost one. It is no accident that “Fight the good fight” and “Onward, Christian soldiers” were favourite hymns of mine then.

My later preference, as a teenager, was for calmer, more reflective fare. Meditative songs of praise seemed more mature. So “Dear Lord and father of mankind” became my divine top of the pops, especially this verse:

Drop your still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of your peace,
the beauty of your peace.

But I wasn’t so sure about the following one, which starts thus:

Breathe through the heats of our desire
your coolness and your balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire…

Umm. Well. If we were being required to retire desire, especially of the fleshly kind, I was never quite fully signed up for that. I tried, for a while, but it didn’t last long, either for me or any other of my fellow teens as far as I could tell. After all, how can desire possibly take early retirement at that age, before it has even finished its apprenticeship? Mine was a boys-only school, but that did not prevent a great deal of desire becoming apparent among us, swiftly followed by its satisfaction!

Doubts of a more cerebral kind began to crowd in during these teen years, too. As a VIth former I read Honest to God, a new and controversial book by John Robinson, Bishop of Woolwich. Not only did it reject the idea of God as an old guy with a beard spying on us from a palatial secret police HQ in the sky; even God as any sort of Supreme Being had to go. Instead, he would be watered down to something like my definition of the soul: God was to be considered as “the ground of our being”, or simply as a synonym of love.

“God is love” is hardly a new idea. It comes to us in the First Epistle of St John: “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. – 1 John, chapter 4:16. But, for John, God was no mere synonym. Something of a heresy-hunter, this epistle artist introduced the idea of “antichrist”. He would hardly have agreed with another famous John that “All You Need Is Love” if that were to mean doing without religion, as Lennon proposed in Imagine.

For my part, I warmed to Robinson’s view at a time when I was also being drawn towards the ethics of socialism, which appeared to have a lot in common with Christianity, not least in its most famous exposition: the Sermon on the Mount, especially in the Beatitudes, in which Jesus blesses the poor, the humble, the oppressed, promising better things to come, in heaven if not on earth. Early Christian communities attended to social justice in this life as well as the next: they practised communal living, working for each other and sharing their belongings. It was a simple form of socialism. In more recent times, Christian socialism has become a significant moral and political force, notably through Catholic liberation theology. Pope Francis has been astonishingly explicit about this, saying “it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide.”

What a pity so much junk comes as part of the overall theological package, though, quite apart from the intellectually unsustainable idea of God as a supernatural entity with fantastic superpowers: all-knowing, all-powerful, capable to fixing all our problems but unwilling to do so! Richard Dawkins took care of that gibberish in his brilliant book The God Delusion. Instead, of helping, God the Father seems to be sadistically hooked on the world of suffering and injustice that God the Son is sacrificially made to endure on the cross. Weird, or what? And as for that thing with Abraham and Isaac, where God looks on voyeuristically, egging on a father to slit his little child’s throat with a knife, what’s all that about? Sick bastard!

The cover of the 50th anniversary edition of Honest to God, which appeared in 2013. The original was a significant influence on my thinking as a teenager in 1963.

Worst thing for us MAPs, of course, is the body negativity that is such a salient feature of Christianity, especially as expounded by the misogynistic St Paul. Even he has his moments, though. Who could deny the wisdom and beauty of Paul’s paean to love that begins, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and Angels, and have not love, I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians, 13:1. (Geneva Bible, 1599. Sadly, the usually wonderful King James version lets us down this time: its rendering of “love” as “charity” is hopelessly compromised by the narrow modern construction placed on “charity”, as compared with the richer sense encompassed by the original Greek text.)

It is a hugely moving passage, and of course that is why religion is such an immensely big deal. It is not about God’s power, but the emotional power – spiritual power, if you will – of community, goodwill towards our fellows, and shared belief. Its dark side is seen in the power of religion to bring people together against each other in wars of religion that have seen millions slain, and millions more persecuted and tortured as heretics. But let’s not be churlish: much good is done too.

Rather than asking whether the good outweighs the bad, or vice versa, let’s consider the power of emotion a bit more, especially emotive language, which is such a feature of the scriptures and the hymns. I will focus on just one of the latter, “How great thou Art”, which is another of my own favourites*. Composed in 1885 by Swedish poet Carl Boberg and sung to the melody of an old folk song of his country, it has become one of the most enduringly popular of all the anthems of adulation.

Why? Obviously, it seems to me, because it packs an immense emotional wallop. Cracks me up every time. I love it, but I also find it overwhelming.

The words are supposed to be about the greatness of God, whose greatness doesn’t impress me at all, because I do not believe in Him. So why would I care? Why would I be emotionally engaged? I believe it is because the original nine verses by Boberg, some of which are still sung today, are actually not so much about God as about what is notionally His creation: nature:

When I in awesome wonder
Consider all
The works Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars,
I hear the mighty thunder…

The stars! The mighty thunder! Who could not be in awe? What soul could resist the ensuing litany of loveliness:

When through the woods
And forest glades I wander
I hear the birds
Sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down
From lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook
And feel the gentle breeze…

As for the tune, I guess what really does it for us is the soaring refrain that follows. Once the singing birds and mountain grandeur have fed like that flowing brook into our thoughts, once they have filled our hearts to bursting, something simply has to break free, and there it comes, right on cue: “Then sings my SOUL!”, hitting that high “SOUL!” like a volcano erupting:

Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!

It looks, actually, as though we are being seduced, or manoeuvred, our emotions steered away from nature, love of which comes naturally (natch!), towards an altogether more abstract construct, an artificial, man-made notion that piles all this natural enthusiasm into a great big lump, an unnaturally clumped together thing we cannot see, or hear, or touch, or know in any meaningful way, called God. What a bonkers idea, but we fall for it like idiots!

Boberg was sincere, I am sure, not a deliberate manipulator. Nor do I doubt the sincere conviction of Stuart K. Hine, a British Methodist missionary who in 1949 gave us the lyrics in most popular use today, which strike me as far more crassly manipulative, forcing us emotionally to buy into not just a crude, cobbled-together God, but also into the disgusting obscenity of the whole “redemption” thing, with this verse he shoehorned in:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

But whatever we consciously think about this hymn, and many others, and the absurdity of Christian theology as a whole, matters not a jot. In the majesty of the moment, when the sentiments aroused by the great hymns and scriptures begin to stir, and indeed great sermons too, all objections fail, feeling like mere insignificant noise – as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal!

* Another great redemption song, “Amazing Grace”, is given some attention in an essay of mine on the Bible. It is one of two such articles that critique the scriptures as a source of ethical guidance. The first of them focuses mainly on the Old Testament, the second on the New. For anyone interested, they are here.

 

HERETIC TOC IS NOT A NEWSPAPER

Thank God, if I may be permitted to use this religious turn of phrase after the foregoing post; thank God that Heretic TOC is not a newspaper. This week alone has been so packed with “on topic” news that I would hardly know where to start. But some things cannot be passed by without even a nod of acknowledgement. So, I will close with just a few links and short observations, on events ranging from sickeningly horrific to hilariously absurd, with important affairs of state somewhere in the middle.

  • In Africa, children are being beheaded by religious fanatics. In the UK, we are all so preoccupied with Covid-19, Brexit fallout, etc., that we have hardly noticed. I say Heretic TOC is not a newspaper, but where this story is concerned, even the actual newspapers and broadcasters have been too busy to pay attention.
  • A new Children’s Commissioner for England has been appointed. Dame Rachel de Souza is to launch the country’s “biggest survey of children” and has promised to be an “”independent voice, there to fight to protect and promote the rights of children”. Don’t like to be too cynical, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
  • A huge new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is now going through parliament, with all sorts of alarming provisions, including restrictions on the right to peaceful demonstration. By sheer fluke, the Bill was introduced at the same time as a major controversy over police handling of an illegal (thanks to Covid restrictions that were not necessarily unreasonable) “vigil” following the kidnap and murder of a young woman, Sarah Everard, allegedly by a police officer.
  • For those of us subject to restraining orders in the field of sexual behaviour, the screws are being tightened still further under the above Bill. Until now, measures such as the Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) have only been able to prevent people doing things, such as meeting children. Now, if the Bill is successful, as seems likely, those on a SHPO may be required to do things. The Bill does not say so, but I suspect this could include being obliged to take (highly unreliable) lie detector tests, or wear a tag.
  • It was reported in the Daily Mail that “Researchers are to use 300 child volunteers to test the efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine on youngsters aged between six and 17.” That’s fine by me, but how come children can “volunteer”? Isn’t their consent supposed to be invalid below 16? Apparently, they do mean the kids have to agree, not their parents; or not just their parents.
  • Yet another doorstopper CSA report came out yesterday, this time focusing on football coaches following an investigation by the Football Association. Conducted by Clive Sheldon QC, the FA’s findings as reported by the BBC were the usual codswallop, in which multiple “victims” were “raped” hundreds of times but kept going back for more. Where clubs turned a blind eye, it was because inspirational coaches were doing a great job.
  • Teacher Kandice Barber was jailed for six years after being found guilty of “causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity”, the child being a 15-year-old boy who had been one of her pupils. There were some reasons for such a harsh sentence, but she could never have expected to be found not guilty given the defence she relied on, claiming that as a “tiny” woman she had been too short for the alleged sex act to be possible! Intrigued? More here.

 

 

 

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Explorer

Before I will publish what I wrote here, I want to issue some… well, trigger warning. A bit of SJW-style action, I understand; but, believe me, in this case it would be appropriate.

After all, having one’s religion apparently insulted is a genuinely unpleasant experience for anyone. And the religion I will criticise – criticise harshly enough that it may indeed seem as an insult for someone, is the one that is shared, in some form and to some degree, by everyone here, including the ones considering themselves irreligious and / or atheistic.

What is most importantly, it is shared to a good extent by me as well. So, any perceived attack is an attack on my own beliefs as well.

But, no matter how harsh, insultive, maybe even aggressive will my writing below look, it is not my intent to hurt everyone. Rather, to share what I consider to be a deeply painful truth about the dominant religion of our era.

__________________

There is a religion nowadays that is a most dangerous enemy – not only of MAPs and MAP allies, not only of children and adolescents, but essentially of mankind as a whole. What is sad, however, is that this exact religion once was a mankind’s greatest friend.

Once this religion was a mankind’s genuine benefactor – in matters both fundamental, pragmatic and public. For the first time in its known history providing it with knowledge that was universally verifiable and falsifiable, thus not requiring any adherence to, and reliance on, authority. It is also allowed people to initiate an unparalleled surge of technical innovation and development, opening countless new possibilities and increasing the quality of life to the heights once undreamed. And it became a catalyst for many positive social and cultural development as well, becoming one of the main sources of inspiration and argumentation for the liberatory forces.

Yet, after just a few centuries, this once-great religion changed for the worse in such a horrid fashion that it is no longer recognizable. Nowadays, it is no longer a provider of knowledge – it is its destroyer, hell-bent on discreditation, suppression and concealment of any objective facts deemed inconvenient for its dogmas. It is no longer a creator of technologies – it is persecutor and defamer of the technological innovation that contradict the theoretical foundations it finds acceptable, any empirical confirmation of a technology’s successful functioning notwithstanding. And – which is the most painful – it no longer a friend of freedom, but its archenemy, ever ready to provide deceitful justifications for the most restrictive and repressive policies imaginable, even enthusiastic to become an ideological foundation for the most monstrous and inhuman regime imaginable – the digital totalitarianism being built before our very eyes.

As all of you have probably understood already, this once-great yet now-fallen religion I talk about is the mainstream science.

Its path of demise was long; and, as any other such path, it started in the times of triumph, in the era than the religion of science enjoyed its highest successes – in the second half of the 19th century. It was the time when science suddenly encountered the phenomena which objective existence it could reliably verify, yet was entirely unable to explain – unable even to hypothesise what the possible explanation may look like. It was psychic phenomena – the detectable interventions of the extraphysical consciousness into the functioning of the physical systems, that forced the latter to behave in a way contradictory to the fundamental physical laws that were previously considered absolutely inviolable. Science, being exceptionally successful in its explanations of the physical phenomena, and being persuaded that the extraphysical ones are either nonexistent or, at least, exist parallel to the physical ones and cannot interfere with them in any way, was shocked. Essentially, they faced the painful dilemma: either to denounce the very basic foundations of the scientific religion, or to dismiss the inconvenient facts. Understandably, it was the latter that was chosen by most scientists in the end: psychic phenomena was banished from the scientific mainstream, and the few heretical researchers who continued to study them was anathemised as “pseudoscientists”.

Of course, this single area of inconvenience was not enough to bring down the church of science – after all, it still could easily demonstrate its genuine power in the area of the physical; at worst, it could provoke a small-scale, non-lethal schism, when a few heretics parted their way with the scientific canon and chose the research path parallel to it. And it was exactly how it happened: parapsychologists, damned and disowned for their supposed “pseudoscience”, continued to study psychic phenomena – ever finding more and more confirmatory facts, but never being able to formulate even a semblance of an explanatory model (understandably, since psychic phenomena, being fundamentally different from the physical ones, simply cannot be successfully conceptualised in the fashion the latter are). But the negative impact of the anathema that was declared on the parapsychological heresy and the bunch of schismatics practicing it was in fact quite severe: for the first time scientists learned that what one cannot explain, one can simply deny; and, even worse, that might makes rights even in the matters of science – the cumulative might of the respectable scientific organizations denouncing parapsychology crushed the parapsychologists’ right to present the objective evidence in defence of their heresy without obstacles. Scientists learned that in a battle between socially entrenched falsehood and socially deviant truth the latter invariably fails.

And the temptation to repeat the successful anathema was great.

***

The second half of the 20th century was the time of the beginning of the end for the mainstream science; it was the time when it received the wound that will prove to be incurable, and that will ensure its death. This wound was institutionalisation, which turns mainstream science from a relatively informal community of researchers into a power structure, entrenched in, and interconnected with, all other power structures of the society – governmental, corporate, any other.

Such inclusion into the halls of power was the most poisoned “gift” science could have ever received. Now, in addition to the antics of its own internal power structures, it was subjected to the whims of the whole range of external ones – and, thus, become a hostage in the power struggles of all types, with each sides of any power conflict willing to ensure that the ultimate cultural and ideological power that the science possessed it is on its side.

And, very predictable, the objective truth – one that the science was once devised to seek and provide – was the first victim of social power struggles, sacrificed without hesitation to the demands of power. Examples of such sacrifices are innumerable; I will mention only a few of them that were the most crucial, the milestones on the science’s path to demise.

There was the cold fusion – or low energy nuclear reactions (LENR), as it was also called. A promising invention in the energy production, it was suffocated short after inception, due to its painful inconvenience to the whole network of vested interests and entrenched prejudices both inside and outside of academia – from the energy companies not willing to lose their profit to the theoretical physicists unwilling to tolerate an affront to their established models. In the end, it was doomed to the damnation and banishment into the forbidden realms of “pseudoscience” as parapsychology once was.

Conversely, a highly and unpredictably dangerous GMO technology was enthusiastically, even fervently, promoted by the mainstream science, since it provided both prestige and profit to them and to their cherished allies in the biotech industry and governmental regulatory agencies. In this case, it was critics, rather than proponents, of technology who suffered censorship and persecution.

But the real fall from grace for the mainstream science started with the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) model – the example of the politicisation of knowledge that was so extreme as to be almost tragicomical. Another tragicomical aspect of it is that it reveals the ultimately religious nature of science as such, being a science’s own apocalyptic prophesy and an ersatz millenarianist faith for countless people around the globe. It is the example how a whole system of the power institutions and social groupings promoted and supported by htem, motivated by everything from cynical aim at sheer profit or the gaining of social status to the sincere and ardent quasi-religious inspiration and desire to avert the perceived catastrophe, has created a modern chiliastic movement of unprecedented reach and power – and a highly questionable and dubious foundation in fact, since any evidence and any argument inconvenient for the faith is being preemptively dismissed, and any unlucky truth-teller presenting them is subjected to the harsh treatment reserved for the modern heretics and schismatics.

The fall accelerated greatly once the modern debate around vaccines, their efficacy and their side-effects and dangers, was ignited. One who thought that the AGW heretics were treated unfairly, and that the AGW model was a bit too religion-like in its shameless selection of the evidence and arguments convenient to it and dismissal of anything (and anyone) that (or who) was not so convenient, can still be shocked of the sheer fanatical fervor of the full-front attack on the vaccine blasphemers, who were persecuted and censored to the yet-unseen despicable degree.

***

And then, it has suddenly come to an end: mainstream science has recently died. The date of its death will be remembered in history: the year of 2020, when an epidemic of neither very dangerous, nor very contagious respiratory disease – Covid-19 – was informationally intensified to the size of a apocalyptic planetary catastrophe and used as a pretext of an unprecedented, insane attack on freedom and liberty around the globe – all with an enthusiastic praise of the scientific “authorities”.

What is especially horrible about the recent situation is that it is entirely clear-cut, so to say. If in all of the examples I mentioned above – from LENR to GMOs, from AGW model to the vaccine side-effects – the proponents of the mainstream science still has some chance to defend their side against the critics’ accusations; yet, in the Covid-19 situation, such possibility is totally absent: nearly all data used to justify the apparent “pandemic” and completely all measures supposedly directed at “combating” it, are totally divorced from the empirically observable reality, lack any objective foundation, being maintained and promoted only by a constantly repeated, furious appeal to the illusive “authority” of the “experts”. And these atrociously restrictive measures are being brutally and violently enforced nearly everywhere, while the persecution and censorship of the dissenting voices, including the ones of people who themselves possess “expertise” in the relevant areas, is becoming almost absolute. It is evident now that the mainstream science has finally given up on objective truth completely, becoming no more than a mere propaganda arm of the societal power.

It is painful, but it is true: after 2020, mainstream science is beyond repair – and beyond redemption. There is nothing left of it but the once-famous name, nothing worthy of an ounce of faith and trust. It is dead as a doornail.

***

Is there any hope for the people who still strive to obtain an authentic knowledge about the world? Is there a chance that a miraculous resurrection of science will happen one day, and the scientific endeavor will start anew? Maybe; but, if it is to happen at all, it is to happen far outside of the halls of the rotten and corrupt academia, outside of any system of power. The informal organizations and communities of the scientific heretics, schismatics and blasphemers labeled as “pseudoscientists”, “antiscientists”, “science deniers” etc. are exactly the environment where such rebirth may take place one day – nowadays, they are the only ones who still believe in the objective truth and knowledge not just in word, but in deed, effectively being the keepers and guardians of the initial inspiration to obtain the objective knowledge that lead to the creation of science centuries ago.

I wish them luck. And strength. They will need it.

_________________

Well, this is it. A harsh judgement, I understand. But, unfortunately, a well-deserved one.

I really have hope that science will reborn. But now, it is in the essentially zombie-like state – ironically, with the exception of informal groupings that are condemned and rejected by the academic mainstream.

Before you reply – which I hope you will do – wait a bit before an emotional overdose, which my text may have provoked in you, will pass. And then sincerely think it over. Even you will disagree with such a radical condemnation as my one, you will have to admit that there is at least some degree of correctness in it.

Explorer

Thanks for the kind words, Tom – I was afraid that the reaction will be much more negative…

I think it would be necessary to provide several further clarifications to explain some positions of mine in more detail.

The most important clarification is this – there are three very different things we mean when we talk about “science”:

  • science as a research method,
  • science as an ersatz religion,
  • science as a power insititution.

As you have probably understood yourself, when I stated that science recently became the “archenemy of freedom (and mankind)” – yes, these are quite radical words indeed, and I understand it – what I did NOT meant was science-as-a-research-method, but rather a certain twisted and explosive mixture of science-as-an-ersatz-religion and science-as-a-power-institution; a mixture which is really capable of becoming an ideological and institutional foundation of a society so totalitarian that calling it “Orwellian” would be a understatement – a society that, in a paradoxical and cruel fashion, would be based on enforced ignorance justified by the appeals to scientific knowledge.

And it is exactly the danger about that I try to warn about in my comment.

Stephen James

You have described the Covid19 pandemic as ‘an epidemic of neither very dangerous, nor very contagious respiratory disease’.

We have seen on our TV screens doctors and nurses struggling on wards packed with desperately ill people. At times they have barely been able to cope.

Is it just a set-up?

Prue

On Covid-19 I would invite / heavily recommend heretics to watch the series of evidence-based videos by nutrition facts. They’re done fairly early on and, watching them now in 2021, they do well to set what’s happened in the U.S. and UK (for example) really well. In effect, they ended up predicting much of what’s happened.

The videos discuss the origin of the virus, its links with animal product consumption, symptoms, and the rationale for lockdowns in places like the U.S and UK which, compared to China, were slow and inefficient and so ended up drawing out there lockdowns taking a less restrictive approach. There’s also info on previous Covid pandemics and other, similar epidemics.

Link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE16SMsoXSE&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd_Qi0-hTfdH4BEmLC9rDGOQ&index=8

I understand the frustration with lockdown and distancing etc. (In my own life I’m getting very fed-up, miserable even, being unable to date and meet women IRL, which doesn’t bode well with my anxiety and hatred of superficiality when it comes to dating apps…)

I completely agree that much of what passes for science in CSA is so flawed in its methodology and so misleading in its language that anyone who cares about objectivity should see instant red flags / alarm bells. But this is very different to the science of virology a other fields related to the current pandemic.

Although I’m of the view that everything (from life itself to the quality of the air we breathe) is political, Covid-19 didn’t have to be politicized to quite the extent it has been. With Donald Trump using it as political leverage to wage a proxy war on China, repeatedly calling it “the China virus” or the “Wuhan Flu”. And, the same with the UK, the relentless brouhaha over “the economy” rather than prioritizing people’s lives, arguing over whether to keep non-essential businesses open as if it wasn’t the perfect time to get serious about UBI and incentivizing people to stay at home and not risk transmitting Covid. These governments wanted to keep civil liberties so we’d all go outside and spend! They resisted instituting a lockdown!

All the while the U.S.’s “healthcare system” barely lives up to the name, and the UK’s conservative party has systematically de-funded the National Healthcare Service (NHS) over decades, to the point where those wanting to train as nurses can no longer get a bursary to even become nurses in the first place! I’m sorry, but the government atm cares about profit more than anything else, and that’s a large part of why places like the US and U.K. are in such a mess. If they had just locked down quickly and taken it seriously, things could’ve been different, but no. Same old thing: profit over people’s lives.

Fairly powerful video on the UK content here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NUZfFTxALI

Explorer

Since this blog post deals with religion, spirituality etc., I thought it would not harm to provide here a link to the written interview with Dr. Bruce Greyson, a founder of the research area of the near-death studies – this is, the research into the nature and characteristics of near-death experiences (NDEs).

What I especially like about this interview is the fact that it was me (“Vortex”) who was the interviewer. It required some really long negotiations with Dr. Greyson to make it done!

Here is the link:

https://psiencequest.net/forums/thread-psience-quest-interview-no-6-bruce-greyson

I would be really interested and thankful if someone here will reply with the thoughts concerning the stuff Dr. Greyson and I discussed there.

P.S. I hope, Tom, this is not too off-topic? But, dare I say, this whole religion-related blog-post of yours is itself a bit off-topic in comparison with the general Heretic TOC discussion themes – so, as I said, it definitely wouldn’t harm anyone to add a bit of “off-topicness” more, so to say! 😉

Stephen James

Explorer, what would you present as the best evidence for the existence of psychic phenomena?

Explorer

Dean Radin’s list of sources is probably the best place for a quick start. This is just a tip of the iceberg, of course:

https://www.deanradin.com/recommended-references

Stephen James

There’s plenty there! Thank you.

Zen Thinker

I know from TikTok that children are bright, creative and there is also an increasing element of ‘innocent salacity’ – in a dignified and natural way. Heretics may not agree with the tone of the following symposium, but there is a wealth of collective wisdom here and we should demarcate between harmful exploitation and loving support of the flourishing of children.

https://hfh.fas.harvard.edu/video-presentations

Human flourishing is of course the classic translation of ‘eudaimonia’, given as the goal of earthly life in Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’. I will watch some of the presentations carefully: as long as it doesn’t argue for the (false) asexuality of children but instead ways to prevent real harms, it is something we can all agree on.

The ‘dignity of the child’ is certainly a worthy goal and violent rape as a weapon of war in the DRC is something we can definitely agree is abhorrent. Children and sexuality is a complex topic so I hope to find some depth and nuance here. I was appalled by the recommendations of the CSJ’s ‘Unsafe Children’ report but somehow I trust faith leaders to give a wiser and more balanced approach. If upon carefully studying these presentations I am proven wrong, so be it. I leave it to your individual judgements.

Zen Thinker

I fully expected a thoughtful and honest response from you Tom, so thanks. The key note speaker is talking about forced violent rape in the Congo. The real issue of contention in CSA is the moral legitimacy and ethical value of statutory rape laws, which seem to conflate “consensual” encounters with the kind of violence in the Congo.

As a person of faith myself I listen to religious voices, and the Pope has given his support to the symposium. Should “consensual” statutory rape be identified with child sexual abuse? Probably not, and AoC laws are arbitrary. However that does not stop me from listening to the counsel of religious voices and drawing what value I can from their words. Spiritual leaders are by no means the most prohibitionist, and certainly not the most viciously punishing. That is left to the amoral arbitrary power of States.

Fata Morgana

Spiritual leaders are by no means the most prohibitionist, and certainly not the most viciously punishing. That is left to the amoral arbitrary power of States.

You might have to expand on this point. It seems to me that a great deal of prohibition is rooted in religious strictures and that a diachronic approach is called for when considering the prohibitions imposed by the amoral, arbitrary powers that be.

Zen Thinker

This isn’t the place for an Apology on my religious faith, lol! I’ll merely say that although religion is often socially conservative, AoC has not historically been part of religious conservatism. From Wikipedia:

‘Under the Offences against the Person Act 1861, the age of consent was 12 (reflecting the common law), it was a felony to have unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 10, and it was a misdemeanour to have unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl between the ages of 10 and 12.’

Up to that point historically, this was the strongest form of the law, despite largely religious societies. And the change came about due to a populist clamour and uproar from the lower classes for minor protection, not of course anything religious.

Again, according to Wikipedia:

‘In April 1972, the Society of Friends Social Responsibility Council (a Quaker conference), passed a resolution in favour of lowering the age of consent in Britain from 16 to 14. In July of that year, Dr. John Robinson, Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge, and chair of the UK’s Sexual Law Reform Society, defended an age of consent of 14 in a lecture at a Methodist Conference.’

Religion may be conservative on many other matters, but it has NEVER been the driving force and impetus behind tough penal AoC laws.

Zen Thinker

Haha ok, I accept this. For what it’s worth, I hate Puritanism and Evangelical Protestantism. The Puritans tried to ban Christmas, after all.

I’m firmly committed to my spiritual beliefs, that won’t be changing. But American Evangelicals for example, who believe in Young Earth theories, are bonkers. Christianity is a very broad umbrella of beliefs.

I put my faith above any MAP advocacy, but I don’t think they’re incompatible beliefs 🙂

The heavily moralising and sententious kind of Christianity, I highly dislike; often this is found in extreme literalising forms of Protestantism, such as belief in Noah’s Ark and that the world is 6000 years old.

Fata Morgana

I’ve been busy for a few days so have missed out on this discussion, and Tom has already said much of what I would have said, so I’ll simply agree with his points and add a few more.

The social purity movement did indeed heavily influence the climate in which W.T. Stead was operating and he was an ardent supporter of its cause.

As I recall, the age of consent was to be raised to 15 in 1885 but Parliament had a change of heart at the last minute and went for 16. The age selected was, of course, arbitrary and had no basis in science. The science on consent largely kicks off in the 1990s with the Alderson studies, which confirm that even very young children are capable of informed consent if adequately informed.

The term ‘age of consent’ is a modern coinage and the notion of ‘informed consent’ a modern invention. The age of consent was for centuries an instrument to protect the prized commodity of female virginity. The justificatory discourse gradually shifted to centre on preventing acts deemed unholy or, in the 19th century, on combating social injustice. As late as the 1950s judges tended to throw out rape cases where the victim had not put up a significant struggle. Consent does not play a significant role until the last few decades of the 20th century. There is a tendency these days to reverse-engineer the term ‘age of consent’ and assume that the legislation has some bearing on children’s capacity to give informed consent, when in fact it does not.

On this, the role of Christianity and the role of feminism, I would strongly recommend reading The Age of Consent (2005) by Matthew Waites. Extremely detailed, extremely well researched.

Nada

Since Christianity existed long before feminism, while the age of consent remained relatively low and marriage was permitted (even by the “sex-negative” St Paul), why assume Christianity, not feminism, was a major factor?

I’d be interested in evidence of influencial feminist non-believers rejecting the reforms, and defending marrriage and pedophilia, in the 19th to the early 20th century.

Stephen James

Yes, and now that ‘loophole’ of early marriage has been closed off in most places, the sex-negativity of strictly orthodox Christianity leaves no outlet for child sexuality. Of course, beyond strictly orthordox Christianity, there is one chink of light: greater tolerance of children’s solitary masturbation. But that’s about it. .

Nada

>…the Church has never historically been a friend either of MAPs or of children’s sexual expression (except, as already noted, within early marriage).

Quite a harsh judgement, given Christianity’s historical tolerance.

Has feminism historically been a friend of MAPs, children and their mutual sexual expression, even within early marriage?

Nada

I thought examples of tolerance[1][2], despite the Christian ideals, already common knowledge. (An anti-sex, tellingly not equally so, sect even gave rise to the word “buggery”)

In contrast, the Assange case provides some insight into how tolerant a feminist justice system is, even for non-MAPs.

>>Has feminism historically been a friend of MAPs, children and their mutual sexual expression, even within early marriage?

>Victim feminism has been dominant, for sure. But there are also libertarian feminists who have been MAP friendly, including friends of mine.

A quick search on the named feminists found no matching support (I don’t have the Douglas biography).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_child_brides
[2] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/709361.Forbidden_Friendships

Nada

>In other words Coe, like you, had trouble getting to grips with the facts.

I don’t regard claims, which I haven’t been able to verify, as facts.
Assuming they were, I’d dispute they imply feminism has historically been a friend of MAPs, children and their mutual sexual expression, even within early marriage. The few feminists could even accept Douglas, an individual MAP, having sex with children without necessarily tolerating other MAPs.

If a feminist did support MAPs, children, and their mutual sexual expression fully, this could be worth support in return. But one righteous man in Sodom and Gomorrah did not save the cities.

Gantier99

“It wasn’t the rape that ruined my life, it was telling you”

Apropos of “Everyone’s invited”, I think it’s worth listening to this BBC World at One report from a couple of days ago (the relevant bit is from 15:30 to 26:45). It tells the sad story of a 12 y-o girl’s rape by a boy in her class, and its aftermath, as described by the girl’s mother. There is also a brief (and rather pessimistic) interview with a former crown prosecutor, towards the end.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000tnqr

The thing that strikes me most is the apparent inability of the adult world (including professionals) to cope with children’s sexuality. I’m reminded of the Dutch experience of earlier decades, where known paedophiles would occasionally be granted custody of troubled boys. Why? Because nobody else could be found who liked them.

Stephen James

Though it doesn’t get to the root of things, this is powerful, more revealing than most BBC coverage. One thing that struck me was the reference to the girl’s mild sexual behaviour after the alleged assault, her habit of kissing boys. This was not really explored. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear the phrase ‘acting out’ in this context. But as Tom pointed out not long ago, people don’t normally try to recreate situations which they find traumatic; they seek to avoid them. So here is a more likely explanation of her behaviour. She felt ambivalent about the original sexual incident. On the one hand, she was excited by it, which led to the later sexual behaviour. On the other, confusion and societal pressure led her to tell her mother about the original incident. This is the best explanation of what happened, given what we know. But the airing of it, even if it had occurred to the broadcasters, would not be permitted. As you pointed out, Gantier, the adult world has a lot to learn about children’s sexuality.  

Gantier99

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there Stephen. It wouldn’t surprise me if the girl had a more nuanced and ambivalant view of her experience, than she is letting on to her mother. And reading between the lines, perhaps so do the school, as well as the boy and his family…. although it is difficult to know, because the broadcaster gave pride of place to the girl’s story. As told by the mother.

Perhaps it is all too easy to fall into the trap of agenda journalism, when the agenda is pretty much a given.

Fata Morgana

This reminded me of the opening lines to an Internet Watch Foundation newsletter from a few years ago:

https://www.iwf.org.uk/news/how-iwf-helps-victims-and-makes-internet-a-safer-place

One way to reduce the distress that Hayley experiences would be to stop sending her the brown envelopes. I do hope that’s an option. If it isn’t, then it would be difficult to reach any other conclusion than that the integrity of the cultural narrative is being privileged over her well-being.

In a similar vein, Samantha Gailey has been saying that she wants the whole case against Roman Polanski dropped, because keeping it alive is preventing her from getting on with her life. Her wishes aren’t being respected. Here too it seems that the integrity of the cultural narrative is being privileged over the victim’s well-being.

I used to be a fence-sitter on this issue, until I saw two young girls being brainwashed into interpreting rather benign, positive experiences as deleterious. They were traumatised in the name of upholding the trauma narrative. So-called iatrogenic harm is very real, and those who refuse to explore it as a possibility (most of society) are part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Fata Morgana

It’s hard to believe that the IWF genuinely and properly understands the impact of the brown envelopes when they make statements such as the following (in the same newsletter).

Every time a child sexual abuse victim’s image is shared, they suffer revictimisation.

Really? Even if he/she isn’t told about it? How does that work? Surely what keeps the wound open is picking at it, perhaps with the corner of a brown envelope.

It’s that twisted logic that has led to a legal culture in the USA of viewers of illegal material being required to pay a level of compensation to the parties portrayed that is on a par with the level of compensation that the original producer of the images would have to pay them (see the Mark Salling case, for instance). I don’t condone breaking the law, but the message that such punitive measures send is that one might as well produce original images, because the penalty will be the same.

Similarly, because of the USA’s preference for consecutive sentencing rather than concurrent sentencing, viewing illegal images can attract a far higher sentence (e.g. one year in prison per image) than committing a contact offence. What message does that send? John Grisham spoke out on this in 2014 and was subsequently browbeaten into retracting his common-sense statements.

Sugarboy

What about those who enjoyed or didn’t dislike the “abuse”? According to the relatively recent study below, they make up the majority of the “abused” boy and a significant minority of the “abused” girls. Do they enjoy it even more, every time they receive the brown envelope?

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29096161/

Fata Morgana

Whilst I agree that minors can and do have positive sexual experiences with adult partners, I suspect that a minor’s interpretation of their experiences would be coloured negatively by the knowledge that the adult had covertly filmed or photographed them in the act. For me, at least, that takes it into exploitative territory.

Zen Thinker

Indeed, there is great risk of exploitation where the balance of power is radically unequal. I think minors should be empowered and their role in society strengthened – with a clear, fair and equitable charter on the ‘rights of the child’ to prevent exploitation.

But the violence of the State in perceived adult infractions is monstrous and overbearing, both the carceral violence as well as the shame-based psychological violence which it is complicit with the media in. The pseudo-mystical ‘viewing an image victimises an individual’ is as far as I can tell convoluted claptrap designed to prise meaning out of illogical nonsense. But hey, I only want to be a law abiding citizen, I’ll keep to ‘their’ rules and their reign of terror; no-one dares commit an infraction once they have tasted of the cruel axe-wielding violence of the State.

We are all in the grip of doublespeak and State-imposed terror, but whether the situation ever changes depends on factors outside any individual’s control, namely macro pressures such as shifting technology-fuelled societal norms. I believe a technological future will lead increasingly to liberalisation of the minor population, and Western society will reach a crisis point: between the political ideals of childhood ‘blank slate’ innocence and the reality of growing minor autonomous self-expression. But the absurdity is that the State continues to police and govern this fake ideal of blank slate innocence, on pain of heavy-handed State violence against fair-minded dissenters.

It won’t be political activism that changes this situation, it will be uncontrollable social demographic change, aided by the rapid effects of technology. So sit back and just see what happens; learn to read the signs of the times. Child gender dysphoria may be the current hot button issue, but child sexuality is round the corner.

Fata Morgana

Heard of ‘Everyone’s Invited’?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56558487

I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, opportunities to speak out about negative experiences are surely to be welcomed. At the same time, it smacks of social pressure to reconceive of positive experiences as negative. Indeed, a less charitable slant on the ‘opportunities to speak out’ might be that horror stories are being relocated from the stock room to the shop window display.

The use of the word ‘survivor’ is a personal bugbear of mine, being transparently dysphemistic. In many cases, it grossly exaggerates the plight of victims (some of whom were consenting and therefore merit the label ‘victim’ purely as a legal technicality). By contrast, anyone who has been savagely beaten into a six-month coma and pulls through with severe brain damage is relegated to the status of victim. The universalisation of the use of the word ‘survivor’ should be deeply insulting to those victims of serious and sustained sexual, physical and emotional abuse, whose plights are far worse than that of a teen enthusiastically getting fingered by a famous sportsman.

One thing that I welcome, though, is that many of the anonymous posts on Everyone’s Invited reinforce my belief that close-in-age exemptions are nonsensical, both because they render a minor’s capacity to consent contingent not on the minor’s psychological and physical maturity but on the chronological age of his/her chosen partner and because they undermine the assumption that sexual activity between a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old (for example) is necessarily more benign, salubrious and palatable than sex between an older individual and that same 14-year-old, despite the adult being more mature and less hormonal.

Fata Morgana

I wrote the above in a hurry and see now that the last paragraph is a little muddled. The second ‘because’ should read ‘because they operate on the assumption that […], an assumption undermined by many of the stories already posted on Everyone’s Invited’.

Zen Thinker

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/27/the-kids-arent-all-right-and-government-has-stopped-caring?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

Interesting article by Sonia Sodha in the Observer that the Tory government has neglected children for the last 11 years, unlike “visionary” Gordon Brown.

Tory cuts and austerity have damaged the life chances of lower income children, while the wealthy and privileged have been insulated. The Tories are said to lack the moral impetus to put significant sums into children’s services.

Personally, I think the State has had a pretty disastrous role in the socio-cultural status of under 18s, and except in extreme cases of providing social services, should keep out of children’s lives. The State disregards the young through its absurd infantilisation, its paralysing of any childhood autonomy and independent thought, and its ideal of a regimented and stulted youth.

Technological change means greater independence, precociousness, and early maturity in children. The Reg Bailey Report a decade ago fought aggressively against these trends; it carried the headline ‘letting children be children’. Yet the ‘Rousseauian innocence’ of childhood is an ersatz ideal of comparatively recent origin. In any case, the depth and breadth of technological change is transforming childhood fundamentally and there is no going back; government’s impotent countermeasures will ultimately fail.

I applaud the likes of Marcus Rashford with his ‘book club’ initiative; he is actually doing something useful. The Children’s Commissioner is singularly useless in her various incarnations, and some charities are hopelessly misguided (I give to Save the Children – I would never give to the NSPCC, which totally misunderstands and misrepresents childhood).

So I am extremely sceptical of, for example, ‘throwing bucketloads of cash and energy at structured activities for children this summer’ (to quote Sodha) – I would have positively hated and loathed something like that as a kid. Sodha has got it totally wrong. As a child I just wanted my own space to read and play computer games. I doubt today’s kids are any different – except now they have the online world to negotiate too of course.

Government should at all costs avoid being an overbearing nanny – nobody wants the Nanny State except small-minded authoritarians. Rashford’s book club is a brilliant idea – by contrast government and its various institutional levers of state and charity are part of the problem.

An unhappy memory: being on a children’s activity day, asking a staff member for the time because I was hating every second of it; being told ‘no, because you only want to leave’. They even acknowledged it! Activity days are Stalinist; let kids be independent and read/TV/video games/internet – let us too shatter this suffocating glass cage of ‘the innocence of childhood’, the ‘undeveloped simplemindedness of childhood’, adults’ ‘dictatorial impositions on childhood’ and let children’s minds develop to their full capacity. This is hardly controversial stuff.

Btw, Instagram are to launch an ‘under 13s’ service which further shows the shifting culture towards greater childhood expressiveness and autonomy. Meanwhile TikTok is *not* deleting its under 13s accounts, their presence is widely acknowledged and tolerated – unless some idiot journalist decides to write a major article on the subject of course. YouTube banned comments on videos of minors after a similar journalistic fracas.

But in conclusion, Sodha has got it so wrong in this article. I’m sure today’s kids don’t want to be mollycoddled and straitjacketed by government, any more than adult citizens. Respect means respecting autonomy and right to self-determination. Respect means ‘letting children be who they want to be’, and not trying to obstruct the world-historical, rapidly drifting, social change towards a more independent (and qualitatively better) childhood.

Explorer

Things are getting VERY bad in the once-free Netherlands:

https://marthijn.nl/p/218

Prue

About Sarah Everard and the broader issue of rape in contemp society, (however we define this most incendiary term), I stumbled across this video heretics might find interesting:

https://www.reddit.com/r/MensRights/comments/d3ywe1/debunking_the_enliven_project_manipulated/

Also see about the 1 in 5 stat:

https://web.archive.org/web/20080514050154/http://interviews.slashdot.org/interviews/08/02/26/1322248.shtml

Stephen James

Prue, the first of these links just gives me ‘503 service temporarily unavailable’. I have tried it several times with the same result.

Prue

Ah, it’s because you’re on Tor at a guess. Reddit doesn’t work with Tor it seems (might work with a VPN I’m not sure).

Here’s the same video from the reddit page but on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hCUh6ZIchU&lc=UgjyhwczLu_6uHgCoAEC

The channel is called Josh O’Brien

Best!

Stephen James

Thanks, Prue. The video is impressive, making a clear logical case against the downplaying of false rape allegations.

Nada

More on topic versions of the hymns:

Amazing Grace
https://youtu.be/QKibfwXr8Uo
O store Gud
https://youtu.be/XWoM6x8Av2A

Zen Thinker

A glance at TikTok shows that many eight and nine year old girls are more worldly wise than me.

Street cred, pop culture knowledge, whizzes at technology and extremely precocious.

This is the way the world is going.

Prue

“This is the way the world is going.”

Too true. I have no doubt there’s a lot of lil’ legends out there! The question is, can we get to a point, or create spaces / organizations (like B4U-ACT but different) which make it possible to acknowledge these things openly without delegitimizing / pathologizing their normative attempts at self-determination (including self-sexualization)?

Obviously I think MAPs, AAMs and their allies can; Heretic TOC is one such space after all. The pro-kind movement could really do with a “MAP media” site (viva la mapmedia.com)! Professional looking, serious journalism like Novara Media, but just all anonymous and Tor based without revealing any contributor’s identity. Anyway, I’m not good with technology so not propositioning; just thinking aloud. Given the climate it’s gonna be a protracted struggle, making use of encrypted software (messaging etc) as we already do.

So, in light of that protracted nature, thank you for your absolutely beautiful comment, ZT, about Tom and this blog post that you wrote below. From experience I can tell you that everyone’s comments here make a difference. And, although I’d encourage every Heretic to do likewise, if you don’t already work on essays / articles / media of some kind you should definitely consider it. You explained yourself so clearly and in such a compelling way!

Got some recommendations apropos pre-pubescent sexuality for yourself and anyone else interested.

On children’s normative sexuality, have you ever heard about Ernest Borneman’s research? His 1984 report “Progress in empirical research on children’s sexuality” (link here: https://siecus.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/12-2.pdf) is fascinating.

If you look him up we see classic Wikipedia politics. A fabulously unsourced claim that ought to be slapped with a “CITATION NEEDED”: “Professionals working with survivors of sexual abuse of children criticized Bornemann’s support for the so-called sexual liberation of children which proposed that “every child should have the right to sexual intercourse with a grown-up”. They accused him of condoning pedophilia.” Do they mean that Borneman condoned attraction towards prepubescents? Probably not, right? So the people who wrote this, as usual, seem to have no f*****g idea what they’re on about. Honestly… Using pedophilia as if it denotes actions and not simply attractions; why do these people always discredit themselves so quickly!? XD

Unfortunately, I looked all over and couldn’t find a source for that quote, and most of his research is in German.

The report’ll give you a good idea of the scale of this important project, and there’s an English book with a foreword by Vern Bullough for anyone who’s committed enough to part with some £££s.

Another great researcher is Carlfred B. Broderick, especially his 1966 review entitled “Sexual Behavior Among Pre-adolescents” (link here: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1966.tb00531.x).

Since I gather you’re more of a GL, I stumbled on a book chapter that at least sounds interesting. Link here https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/978-1-4899-0354-9_12.pdf

These are just some things I’ve found that I don’t see discussed very much, especially Borneman.

For a work discussed much more, Judith Levine’s classic book Harmful to Minors, check out this essay with its stellar title:

A Nation Scared: Children, Sex and the Denial of Humanity

(link here: https://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1317&context=jgspl)

Zen Thinker

Thanks Prue, I’ll check out some of the links during the week.

I’m more conservative than Tom: I believe in child autonomy, and the right of MAPs not to be harassed by the State, but I don’t advocate for his more radical positions.

I support the cause of greater popular awareness and insight into MAP issues (it couldn’t be worse right now). A journalistic MAP venture sounds excellent; I’ve already been depressed today by Javid’s call for stricter MAP sentencing for non-contact offences https://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/

Christian

Several commentators have praised the quality of this article by Tom. I rather consider it as his most bizarre one.
As a child, I was indoctrinated with the Catholic religion. When I was 11, a priest made me repeat gibberish, of which I only remember “I renounce Satan and his pomps”. Later, I learned that it was the sacrament of confirmation, which meant my commitment to uphold the Catholic religion. I felt cheated.
Throughout my adult life, I freed myself not only of Catholic morality, but also of the belief in God, and even of Christian culture, which I consider sado-masochist and inimical to the Eros life force. To me, any religious art or music is less beautiful than a profane one.
To those who quote from the Gospels “Love thy neighbour as yourself” and “Do unto others what you want to be done to you”, I advise the book The bonobo and the atheist by Franz de Waal. He explains that compassion for others does not come from the teachings of prophets, but from our animal heritage. He gives examples of compassionate acts by chimps and bonobos. Darwin also thought that compassion for the weak was a product of human evolution by natural selection.
Concerning spirituality, I envisage it not in the abstract, but within human relations, such as spiritual love. For the marvellous and magical, I view it like in the book L’amour fou by André Breton. In it he tells that he and Alberto Giacometti went to the flea market and found there strange objects that responded to their current artistic obsessions. Then he relates his meeting with Jaqueline Lamba, they both fell madly in love, and the strange events surrounding that encounter, such as while walking in Paris, he recalled an old poem that he had not liked, but which was exactly forecasting the events of the day. But I consider that such magical encounters in life are now prevented by the toxic reactionary atmosphere of our epoch. This is like the utopian Charles Fourier, who claimed that as long living humans suffer in a wrong society, the dead living in the spiritual world suffer also.
I like the poem “To a Child of Quality” by Matthew Prior. I found the book where it appeared: https://archive.org/details/miscellaneouswor00prioiala
I will one day present it in my blog. Thus, if you find nice girl-love poems, don’t hesitate emailing me about them.

Zen Thinker

Christian, each to their own, but traditional spirituality, and religious art and music, can be incredibly powerful and moving, and indeed beautiful. What is especially powerful about Tom’s personal testimony in this post is that the media and popular society have this one-dimensional view of MAPs as soulless radical agitators and dangerous or even repellent people, and Tom has proven how wrong and shallow the likes of the Daily Mail are about the character of MAPs. There’s of course nothing wrong with being ‘left-wing’ or ‘atheist’ but Tom, who is symbolic of the MAP struggle, has here admitted to enjoying a very traditional form of our inherited social culture: the beauty of the hymns and even the power of the sermons he hears on the Sunday morning programme. This is a significant moment, it humanises the MAP community and justifies them profoundly in the face of a hostile and smugly superior-feeling culture, and if you miss the true significance of that, it’s unfortunate. Again, not to denigrate ‘left-wing culture’ or ‘atheism’, but Tom has bared his soul in this post and we see some of the true man, behind all the vitriol and character assassination he suffers. And this is why I said it was his best post, because it confounds the expectations of a generation, and shows them up as soulless and cruel people who love to ‘Other’ and ‘vilify’ minorities. I know Tom to be a man of integrity and good character, and this post symbolises that perfectly. Not because religion is some ’emblem of sainthood’ but because the very people who feel most at threat from MAP progression are being outdone in their sense of moral decorum by a man who for many decades has symbolised in their minds an extreme form of radicalism.

As Jesus would say: ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’

Freetheteens69

“Any religious art is less beautiful than a profane one”

“If you find nice girl-love poems, don’t hesitate emailing me about them”

Well how about a profane religious poem 😉

From the Buddhist saint Drukpa Kunley.

OM MANI PEME HUNG
People say Drukpa Kunley is utterly mad
In madness all sensory forms are the Path!
People say that Drukpa Kunley’s organ is immense
His member brings joy to the hearts of young girls!
People say that Drukpa Kunley is too fond of sex.
Congress results in a host of fine sons!
People say that Drukpa Kunley has an amazing tight arse.
A tight arse shortens the rope of Samsara!
People say that Drukpa Kunley has a bright red vein.
A red vein gathers a cloud of Dakinis!
People say that Drukpa Kunley does nothing but babble.
This babbler has forsaken his homeland!
People say that Drukpa Kunley is extraordinarily handsome
His beauty endears him to the Mon girls hearts!
People say that Drukpa Kunley is verily a Buddha
Through subjection of the enemy of ignorance, awareness grows!

And a short sweet poem, from zen master Ikkyu.

“All koans just lead you on, but not the delicious pussy of the young girls I go down on”

Marco Antonio

There’s a useful part of the religion I was taught when I went to a Christian school. In harsh situations, I pray, and this helps me. It is a way to vent our things to “someone” who we pretend is there listening to our thoughts. Real or not, it’s useful. No need to prove anything.

For me, the problematic part begins when religion becomes a goal by itself, when everything is justified by religious beliefs and dogmas. In my opinion, this nullifies our ability to reason, and to think critically and creatively.

I’m more on the agnostic side. I do believe in something. It’s just that I don’t know in what, yet.

But omens are notoriously hard to interpret: ominously, what this one did not portend was the nature of the mission I would serve

Lol. I liked that hehe. Do you feel that call, that tells you to do “something” with your life?

Last edited 5 months ago by Marco Antonio
Stephen James

>Richard Dawkins took care of that gibberish in his brilliant book The God Delusion.

One the most recent, of course, in a line of illustrious sceptics such as Hume, Voltaire and Bertrand Russell. My reading of Russell was particularly important in my rejection of Christianity (in which I too had been brought up) at around age 16 or maybe a bit before. I haven’t read The God Delusion, but I imagine Dawkins draws on some of these earlier figures while adding some clever twists of his own.

>There were some reasons for such a harsh sentence [in the case of Kandice Barber].

I guess you’re referring to such things as the threat reportedly found on the complainant’s phone to ‘bring him down’. Presumably, the use of the word ‘reportedly’ implies that the alleged message was not actually produced in court. Some scepticism is in order here as allegations of such threats seem to be routine in these sorts of cases. Yes, it could be true, but let’s not be too trusting of the criminal justice system. (I imagine you would have made similar points yourself if you had been moved to comment in more detail.)

halos

the football ljnk isnt working for me

Prue

Interesting to see you engaging in hermeneutics Tom! And thank you for sharing a bit of your personal history. If those missionaries only knew what mission you’d end up involved in. Or Miss Hewitt for that matter! To be fair, if they really followed the teachings of Christ who, as you rightly say, “blesses the poor, the humble, the oppressed”, they’d support the pro-kind struggle just like Rev. Klamer (seen all too briefly at the end of this Brongersma clip https://archive.org/details/brongersmaoverpedofilie1978; see also, https://www.ipce.info/ipceweb/Library/pastorate_and_pedophilia.htm).

I’m reminded of a wry passage from Tony Duvert’s Good Sex Illustrated:

How do pedophiles cope in a country where having sex with consenting minors (whether they’re ten or sixteen) leads to prison? If they’re rich, it’s very simple: they wait patiently for their vacations and indulge in a very thriving pedophilic sex tourism […] what will get you lynched in one place wins you a fond smile from parents elsewhere. Therefore pedophiles, who are always very cowardly, run away on the first plane that will take them to a tolerant country. Good riddance, but the worst ones are still around: the ones who are broke.” (p. 139; italics in original).

If I read your piece correctly, you currently identify as an atheist? Out of interest, do you make a distinction between not believing in God and not in an afterlife?

It’s interesting to note that the mathematician Kurt Godel attempted a proof for the existence of God, known as “Gödel’s ontological proof”. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof#Symbolic_notation .

I get the feeling that the underlying message in the main post, via the example of Christianity contrasted with your atheism and praise of Dawkins, is that the emotions are so powerful that they can be mobilized to get people to believe even the most fantastical-sounding and patently unfalsifiable things.

A friend of mine who I discuss intergen / MAP issues with, loves to tell me a story in the context of veganism / plant-based diets and healthy living. There’s a doctor called Alan Goldhamer (https://www.healthpromoting.com/clinic-services/staff/alan-goldhamer-dc) who, in interviews, talks about his mother who went plant-based and outlived all her close-in-age friends. Cynical in her old age, she tells her son: “Alan… the best life advice I can give you: Make younger friends!”

Even if it’s somewhat dark humour, it gets at how age-disparate relationships (sexual or otherwise) could potentially save a lot of heartache. After all, it’s not usually very pleasant for peer-aged couples to be left on their own after one dies. Something that MAP relationships / age-disparate relations don’t have to worry about in quite the same way. Even if the older one passes away, the youth still has… well, their youth! And besides, when you have young people who’re the more introspective, caring and affectionate types, I get the impression that they take some pleasure in knowing that they made life better for another, sharing happy and potentially very character building experiences with them.

Some initial thoughts! 🙂

Marco Antonio

it’s not usually very pleasant for peer-aged couples to be left on their own after one dies. Something that MAP relationships / age-disparate relations don’t have to worry about in quite the same way. Even if the older one passes away, the youth still has… well, their youth!

Right, I think it’s wrong to apply the parameters of traditional couples to man-boy relationships. For long, everyone was supposed to marry, have kinds, and be happy with it. While this model may work for some people, many others will fit in other models, such as open relationships, intergenerational, … or no relationship at all. Man-boy love is not just another sexual orientation, as man-boy relationships may show unique particularities.

I sometimes think of my man-boy love as a “baton” that is passed onto the next generation. The adult brings his experience and helps the boy to open up in his own life, while he feels being taken care of as well. This is obviously just how I feel it personally.

Zen Thinker

Your best post yet! 🙂

I find the intersection between minor attraction and spirituality to be fascinating, and it is also incredibly interesting to hear that a major figure in Britain’s MAP movement finds ‘the hymns, especially, but also the lessons and sermons [interesting], in which there is often a thoughtful exploration of the scriptures’. Atheists can of course derive much benefit from spirituality too.

And it is noteworthy (and perhaps ironic) that the biggest ideological opponents to the MAP movement are the conservative Christians in GOP states such as Texas (Ted Cruz being the shining example of intolerance), yet as we see they don’t have a monopoly on spirituality. The opposition to MAP social progression is mostly visceral, psychological (i.e. highly neurotic) and prejudicial, rather than being a phenomenon of religious people specifically.

Anyone can benefit from deep artistic and cultural influences in their life, and this is important to maintain perspective when the rest of the world seems vitriolically against MAP identity, to the point of State instituted conversion therapy (which seems to be what the Horizon programme entails).

There is also of course a fascinating intersection between high culture generally and minor attraction, as in this 1704 poem by Matthew Prior (‘To a Child of Quality’). of which I quote an extract:

“My pen amongst the rest I took,
  Lest those bright eyes, that cannot read,
Should dart their kindling fire, and look
  The power they have to be obey’d.

Nor quality, nor reputation,
  Forbid me yet my flame to tell;
Dear Five-years-old befriends my passion,
  And I may write till she can spell.

For, while she makes her silkworms beds
  With all the tender things I swear;
Whilst all the house my passion reads,
  In papers round her baby’s hair;

She may receive and own my flame;
  For, though the strictest prudes should know it,
She’ll pass for a most virtuous dame,
  And I for an unhappy poet.”

But to return to religion, it is a powerful and high cultural expression, and not at all the tool of oppression that most MAPs dread. During the earlier religious centuries in Europe there was never such a draconian limit on MAP expression as there is today. We live in a singularly unhappy time.

But whenever I reflect on the suppressed ideals of my sexuality, I find that turning to spirituality gives a welcome relief from the struggle and dejection I sometimes feel. It is so important to develop hobbies and interests that take away some, if not most, of the pain of having to hide or suppress one’s sexual identity.

Nada

As you claim, and I’m inclined to agree:

“During the earlier religious centuries in Europe there was never such a draconian limit on MAP expression as there is today.”,

how is it that conservative Christians are the biggest opponents of the MAP movement? Looking at how MAPs are treated in Norway or Sweden, where conservative Christianity is weak, suggests otherwise.

Zen Thinker

Nada, clearly the anti-MAP feeling and legislation stems from far more than conservative values, religious or otherwise. Even the fully secular left hate MAP issues and want nothing to do with them. I think the answer is that there is a broad globalised push against any progression on this front, and conservative Christians like Ted Cruz, who want the death penalty for child statutory rape, are one extreme example among a remarkably cohesive coalition uniting right and left. Why this state of affairs came to pass is a puzzle, perhaps a mass anxiety or neurosis that affects every Age differently; the Victorians had one about sex in general.

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