Speaking for myself as an atheist, swearing on a Bible, or even "In God We Trust," has never really kept me up at night. I mean, we kind of have to separate the function of the ritual from the actual device being used.
It's the public affirmation of duty, or the importance of truth telling, that is really important. And it's not surprising that some ritual form is necessary, since merely saying the words isn't really enough. People insist that they're telling the truth all the time, but if the issue is important enough, then you want to up the stakes by making them perform some sort of ritual that signals real and total commitment to the idea. But we use a Bible in the United States probably less because of some insiduous religious conspiracy to oppress atheists, and more because Christianity is, for good or bad, of historical and cultural importance here.
I can personally live with that because it's not really about the Bible, but about stressing the importance of the ritual. We could likewise swear on a copy of God is not Great, or on a bag of Cheetos, or on a spaghetti colander, or just by holding up a hand; all of these would work equally well if those were cultural or historical emblems of importance, even while nothing in particular about them as physical objects guarantees that truth will be told. In this latter respect, they are all equally useless as the Bible.
anyway...I sort of feel like how I understood Christopher Hitchens felt. His opinion of religion, Christianity and Islam in particular, was not precisely supportive, but he genuinely admired the King James Bible as an historical work of literature and decried the destruction of mosques by ISIS and the like as unspeakable war crimes. Not because those things tell us anything about God, but because they tell us things about ourselves and thus are worthy of respect in that regard.
Just my opinion, your mileage might vary, etc.
edit: I, for one, would recommend a solemn nose-pick as an alternative method of oath taking: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/07/monkeys-perform-strange-rituals-to-test-friends/
For these capuchins, their rituals also include passing a seemingly useless object back and forth. Because these items seem to possess some special yet fleeting significance, Perry calls them “sacred objects.”
The continuous exchange of a sacred object, such as a piece of bark or tuft of hair, is another way a capuchin may test the strength of a bond with a companion. The exchange can be risky because it may include reaching into the other monkey’s mouth to fish out the object. It can also be more playful, with the monkeys simply handing an object from one to another.
Brosnan compares these object-based interactions to a childhood playground game. “The stick that the kids [play with] probably isn't important,” she says, “but the fact that they're passing it back and forth, the fact that you have to tap on the slide in a specific pattern to get into the secret clubhouse, seems like a reasonable, if rough, parallel to what it might be that these capuchins are doing.”
But yeah, it's all pretty much just fur pulling and nose picking.
Oh, I remember them! They were mainly supported so much because there wasn't a major right-wing populist party to fill the political black hole occupied by them. Then Greek Solution was formed and took away much of their support, along with their increasing number of terrorism got the party to get under the 3% threshold (but barely). Then it was recently banned, because of it being so far-right.
Finland is a mixed bag for me, given that on the one hand the fact that the Finns Party managed to get second place last election is worrying and undeserved, on the other hand they were actually in government and its nice that the Finnish left has retaken control. And I thought there already was a split from the Finns Party? Called the Blue Reform Party? Or is there gonna be another Neo-nazi split too?
There has been the occasional elected official who has laid their hand on another text during a swearing in ceremony. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib both used the Quran, and Kyrsten Sinema used the Constitution (which gave us the delicious moment of Mike Pence swearing in an LGBTQ, nonreligious senator!). I'm not particularly bothered by people swearing on religious texts either, but a concerning number of those that do seem to prioritize religious interests to an unacceptable degree once they actually start governing.
So, America, congratulations on ridding yourself of Trump. Few here will need persuading that this is a significant achievement. Let's not kid ourselves, however, that a golden age has dawned just because Trump was worse than what will follow.
Campaigning for the nomination, Biden said to an audience of millionaire potential donors "No-one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change... if I win this nomination, I won’t let you down. I promise you." His transition team has contained 40+ corporate lobbyists plus former employees of Facebook, Amazon and Airbnb. There will be oil industry insiders in the Department of Energy, chemical industry insiders on the panel that regulates the chemical industry and board members of defence contractors and lobby groups who don't disclose their client list in other key positions. If this wasn't a good idea in 2016 and before then there's no reason it should be one now.
Progressive voices in the Democrat party seem to have felt they had little choice but to keep quiet and get behind this campaign for fear of the greater evil, as is ever the lot of the Left in a dysfunctional 2 party system.
And Trump wasn't so much the problem as a symptom of a deeper problem, just like Brexit over here. If people were so disenchanted with the status quo that voting for some guy off the TV whose self-declared mission was to break taboos and smash stuff up looked like a reasonable option, then thinking that the nightmare is over and we can rewind to 2016 seems risky.
Enjoy the moment, but through your votes and actions keep pushing for better.
Yeap, new split with total fascistic stuff, pretty much like in the 30s. The first split was a split between the more cabinet kinda people and they left True Finns to make that new party Blue Reform (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Reform). Recent poll showed that True Finns could have about 20 % of the votes right now and might become the biggest party in Finland. In a way I understand why so many people vote for them but I also hate that party, I mean I understand the reason behind it and all the other parties kinda leave that immigration political stuff in their hands so they use it. Not enough critical conversation around it and we all know how polarisized everything about immigration and problems around it are...
You are either a racist or you want totally open borders... So it's like a hot potato. I mean we have seen big problems over the border in Sweden with gangs and slums so some people are afraid it's gonna lead to that over here also and so on. There are a lot of problems considering immigrants, there is no doubt about that, but you don't need to be a fascist to talk about it openly and reason with people. Some people are too naive coinsidering immigration and some people just believe populistic stupid sh!t and I'm just trying to row somewhere in between. This is a small country and the language is kinda hard to learn, so people can find it hard to integrate. But it's a wide topic with no easy answers.
The day has come.
Ah yes, a language whose only relatives are Estonian, Hungarian, and some Siberian languages will be only kinda hard for foreigners to learn
It's not a lack of relatives. Japanese has fewer relatives (some would say 'none'), but I think it is easier compared to Finnish. A lot of Westerners will look at the script and recoil, but this has nothing to do with the difficulty of the language. Morphologically, I think Japanese is easier than Finnish.
I think the problem is, as we in the US have seen over the past 4 years, if people are corrupt enough they'll swear on anything that makes their point. No one who needs to be held to truth-telling is going to be swayed by a Bible, and anyone who is sufficiently honest will consider their word to be bond regardless of what they swear on.
In practice, people bend their religion to their morals, not the other way around.
Perhaps. But on the other hand, Goodall noted that chimpanzees sometimes dance in the rain, and the funeral rituals of African elephants -- including burying with food and pretty flowers -- are very well documented. It's unclear why they do these things, but it almost certainly has nothing to do with fighting over the rightness of religion, which would miss the point.
Yet in aggregate, the ritual itself is a powerful subconscious motivator towards good behaviour. Obviously it won't change the saints and the grifters, but then there are a whole lot of people who sit somewhere in between.
Actually, the problem is that far right people, either as Nazi parties, or by "Greek Solution", are present in the Parliament, from the time of big crisis of 08.They got bigger after the immigration wave from Syria, and they still gain power because of the threats of Turkey. The problem is that in this corner of the planet, people solve their problems with the method "who's got bigger balls", and not the method "shut up, listen and then talk". It's a pity, all that NeoGreek culture, it's disgusting.
Oh, I agree. I'm not saying there aren't ever reasons for expressions of love of God, the Divine, Nature, or whatever you call Her. I'm not anti-religion or anti-spirituality in any way; I just think that what people take from a religion such as Christianity heavily depends on what kind of person they were to begin with.
(Which is not a dis-endorsement of Christianity, either. Jesus said that would happen!)
Chan Island's probably right, though. I'm the kind of person who would take such an oath seriously no matter what I swore on (and I don't think I'm a saint - just respectful of the fact that that's a role of incredible power and influence and people could literally die due to my decisions holy carp), so it's hard for me to imagine.
That’s not completely true. Albanian and Armenian are both Indo-European languages. In addition, Georgian has relatives, just very few, and Basque was likely related to the ancient Aquitainian language that is now extinct.
One of the wisest lessons my father taught me early on was to always put more value on what people do instead of what they say (they will do) and what they believe in. In that sense Trump was often an improvement over "regular" politicians. We sure as hell disagreed about the course of action but at least he did try to do what he said he was going to do. I think to many people that is part of his appeal and that goes for a lot of "populists". It therefore surprised me that people were constantly surprised about what he did it and how he did it. The guy was compared to other politicians an open book (one with glaring plot holes and a protagonist I had really difficulty feeling empathy for.....even with Hitler in "Der Untergang" as the clash between his own delusions and the horrible reality became more and more apparent I felt that at some level you could still relate to him. That is probably what makes that movie so powerful and scary at the same time. Trump however while also failing to acknowledge reality did almost nothing to make him recognisable as a "human being". He presented himself as a machine that couldn't fail and shss'd anyone and everyone who dared to claim anything different....I simply don't know how to relate to that).
Politicians are "reality benders". They bend it to fit whatever their narrative is at the moment. Trump was the ultimate (so far) example of this (if people have other examples I would gladly hear about them). If you can fool yourself into believing that "your reality" equals or even trumps "actual perceived reality" (our collective view of what that reality is) than something as abstract as religion is indeed a piece of cake so I fully agree with Blue Nagia.
Just an interesting note regarding the use of the bible and such in the US Presidential oath of office - it isn't mandatory. Religion pervades American society to what I would consider a sickening degree, and I'm not at all pleased by it, but this is an example of tradition rather than requirement. Several presidents have taken the oath without a bible (my favorite example being John Q Adams, who swore on the Constitution, represented by a legal text), and the words "so help me God" are not a part of the required words. It also has the option in the Constitution to "Affirm" rather than "Swear" and law in place since 1789 allows the exclusion of religious phraseology from such affirmations.
Part of it comes from the fact that George Washington chose to swear on a bible, and since we love establishing presidential traditions based on his choice of actions, that made it a "thing to do." In some cases, the bible being used has been a famous or significant copy belonging to an important figure, or which has been in their family for generations. Basically - it's something that has greater personal symbolism, because it indicates swearing by the legacy of an admired predecessor (Obama used Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's bible), or on the goodness of their family name (Biden used a Biden family heirloom bible). We don't have accurate records of exactly what was done or said in every presidential oath (the manner of administration has dramatically changed over time), but the fact that basically every president in the modern era has either been religious, or has pretended to be for the votes, and that every one of them has been some version of Christian, means that a bible would be considered a "personally" significant.
Upshot, I totally agree about the absurd degree to which religion infiltrates American politics and American life. Its use in this particular ceremony however is not actually mandated, and has some other significances worth considering.
Does anyone else think weird things when they read other nations' names?
When I read Chilledsville my brain starts up the Chillary Clinton/"I'm just chillin' in Cedar Rapids" vine.
When I read Mount Seymour my brain yells Seeeymourrrr like the Superintendent guy on the Simpsons except I know that guy yells Skinnerrrrr but I can't help it.
When I read Nattily dressed anarchists on bicycles my brain thinks of naked people on bikes - I know what nattily dressed means but my brain thinks "birthday suit".
Thank you for your time.
As a religious person myself, I have to agree that swearing on a Bible shouldn't be mandatory. In fact, it can be considered a bit insulting in some cases if a non-Christian person swears on a Christian Bible, because they are using a sacred text they don't believe in as a sign of good faith, secularizing the religion and degrading the text. Separation of Church and State benefits both parties in this case, as well as many others.
In general, I'm pretty suspicious of people who run on a platform of religion. A lot of the Bible is pretty outdated because it was written thousands of years ago. There are so many rules in the Old Testament, and a lot of them are voided by the New Testament, and it's the responsibility of theologians to figure out what the Bible means today. I don't trust myself to interpret some passages, so I absolutely don't trust a politician to. While it can be an indicator of good morality and conviction if a politician is religious, it needs to be backed up through actions and stated values, and any reasonable person would campaign off of those actions and values to appeal to a wider demographic.
Dunno if this guy is an anarchist, but he's nattily dressed, and he's got the right attitude: https://www.reddit.com/r/OldSchoolCool/comments/fzyc8q/member_of_roughstuff_fellowship_cycling_club_1973/
Also, some nations ago close to the age of Antiquity, I had a national description that somehow included both roving biker gangs and non-existant levels of crime. I imagined gentlemanly fellows on pennyfarthings knife fighting each other over who gets to help granny cross the road.
So yeah, like that.
i think the problem with "religion" in the u.s. is, or has been, the lack of recognition of the legitimacy of religious diversity.
i don't know if this is a good or bad thing, but its also so much hollow ritual. 'everyone' says the words, almost no one gives any real thought to their meaning.
any religion as long as its a sect of christianity, isn't my idea of religious freedom. the reason this is a problem to me, is the common erronious assumption that anything that isn't christianity, with the possible exceptions of jewdaism and islam, has to be athiestic. which is at the very least a factual error, and i believe as well a spiritual one.
so it does sadden me to see this assumption being so common in the u.s., that when anyone says religion they automatically assume it to mean christianity. of course i also believe the unknown to be unknown, that does not in anyway remove the possibility of any belief.
but mainly the problem i have is with the illogic that any god or anything of a non-physical nature, has to owe anything to what people tell each other about it. the robbery of positive imagination by telling people what to pretend.
i've just never observed the universe to opperate in such a way as to owe anything to what anyone tells anyone else to pretend, even if they did carve it in stone.
i feel that i can love whatever god or gods there might be, without my having to be so much ego as to try to tell them what they have to look like.
or even pretend to know anything about them at all, only to take as probable that large numbers of things we know nothing about get along just fine without our having to pretend that we do.
Religious diversity is actually kinda tricky. Just eyeballing the Pew data I googled up literally just now:
We can initially notice a couple of things. Religious diversity in the US is maybe not as strong as "ideal," but this seems reasonably common in Western Europe as well. Of note is also the fact that if Pew's data hold, authoritarian countries like China are strongholds of religious diversity. Of course, there are plenty of other authoritarian countries that are not religiously diverse, and there are a mass of barely/failed states that are not religiously diverse too.
And these data are additionally tricky for a number of reasons as noted; in the US, the main tricky is that "Christianity" is treated as a lump, whereas in practice is varies wildly by denomination. I'd also wonder how many people answer that because they're "supposed to" even though they really aren't -- the Easter/Christmas crowd, basically.
At any rate, I wouldn't bet too much money on this hypothesis, but I'd wager that in many "western" democracies like the US and Europe, religion might tend to serve as a central identity people gather around as a counterbalance to electoral/political competition. Sort of like how everyone stands for the national anthem before a sports match, to be reminded of a common identity before we try to beat the hell out of each other and call each other names. On the other hand we might see huge religious diversity in authoritarian countries because The State (TM) serves a similar purpose contra religious identity.
edit: I mean, if I've heard correctly (usual disclaimers here), Sweden is noteworthy for having the highest concentration of atheists who attend church. And the rest of Scandinavia seems to be slightly less religiously diverse than the US (by just eyeballing the colors there on Pew's chart), but, according to Freedom House, is absolutely killing it with the whole freedom and democracy thing: https://freedomhouse.org/countries/freedom-world/scores?sort=desc&order=Total%20Score%20and%20Status
Are you all taking applications, and if so, how many languages do I need to learn? \:|