Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Philistine

A week or two back I heard a report on the TV that North Korea had called President Bush a "Philistine." That stuck in my head because I didn't know the significance of the term. I wondered what was meant by it and how North Korea thought it applied to Bush. I wondered if there was some inference to the Philistine people spoken of in the Bible.
Here's a Yahoo news report on the incident:
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20050430/pl_nm/korea_north_bush_dc
Today I looked up the term Philistine in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and was referred to the term Philistinism. I can see now why one might use that term to describe Bush.
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20050430/pl_nm/korea_north_bush_dc
But I'm ashamed to say that for most of my life one might have used that term to describe me as well.

Oligarchy

This week I received an email from moveon.org claiming that Pat Robertson said on ABC's "This Week" that the threat posed by liberal judges is "probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."
Pat Robertson replied to that on his website:
http://www.patrobertson.com/PressReleases/moveon.asp
In his defense, Robertson says he made this statement, "if we surrender our democracy to the tyranny of an oligarchy, we have made a terrible mistake."
From Wikipedia online:
Oligarchy is a form of government where most political power effectively rests with a small segment of society (typically the most powerful, whether by wealth, military strength, ruthlessness, or political influence). The word oligarchy is from the Greek for "few" and "rule".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligarchy
If one were to try, one might find it quite easy to see that the concentration of power going on now in Washington might be what Jefferson warned against. But I don't think that is what Robertson was suggesting. Is Robertson suggesting that Supreme Court justices are the oligarchy? If not, then who was he referring to?

Disclaimer to Mike

If anyone has noticed that a fellow named Mike has been commenting on my blog, let me point out that he probably won't be anymore. Not that I would ban him or anything even though he made a suggestion that I might be a demon. But I have been over in his corner of the sphere playing devil's advocate and he has decided that enough is enough. Although he denies the existence of the "religious right," he is a member as well as being strongly conservative in rhetoric. No big deal. If that's his chosen poison, so be it. But it seems that he thinks I have been over at his place "trying to bring me down in my faith and destroy my self worth."
http://thedeepfreeze.blogspot.com/2005/05/censorship-vs-decency.html
While nothing could be further from the truth, it's like I care, really. I'd love for Mike to see the darkness of his own faith and repent, shed all of his senseless fear and antagonism and come to embrace something other than the narrow self-serving views of the Christian right. But it sounds to me like he thinks that would be an evil thing to do, so OK, so be it.
Mike, it was great having you onboard while it lasted. I must admit I did a lot of thinking because of you. A lot of things that weren't so clear to me about Christianity and modern political conservatism and the bond between the two came clear at last. I thank you for that.
By the way, I think what Mike got so upset at me about was when I suggested that in the event that an unborn fetus is a part of the body of the woman who bears it, any man who thinks he has a right to infringe on the privacy of women's bodies (a.k.a. the debate on abortion) is a "self-righteous jerk." Mike didn't seem to appreciate that much. Apparently he must have thought I was speaking of him personally, although I don't see why he would interpret it that way. He seems to think an unborn fetus is a rights-bearing human being, not a part of the mother's body, and that any woman who terminates her pregnancy deliberately is a murderer. In that case, why would he need to think of himself as a "self-righteous jerk?" He is a noble defender of the rights of the unwanted unborn over the rights of the women bearing them, isn't he? He should be proud!
I've been called a lot worse things than a "jerk" here in my blog, but I still love and welcome those who have done it. To each his own.
Magnanimous of me, isn't it?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Relativism

I have to laugh. I was just reading the meaning of the term "relativism" in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and it seems to leave out what I normally think of as relativism. Relativism as a philosophy seems to insist that all points of view are equally valid. That seems a little bit useless to me since almost nobody would subscribe to that philosophy. It would seem to make a whole lot more sense if relativism were to refer to the philosophy that an individual's point of view is valid because of the individual's belief in it.
For example, 'America is good because I believe it is good' is an example of relativism, in my view. 'I am saved because I believe in Jesus' is another good example. Neither one of these statements offers or even needs to offer any proof other than the individual's belief. The "truth" is relative to the beliefs of the individual and thus the individual is using the philosophy of relativism.
Many would argue that neither of these is relativism because neither would admit that any other point of view is equally valid, but as I see it, that idea isn't necessary. All that is necessary is that an individual's reality is based on his or her beliefs. Another individual with different beliefs would have different perceptions of reality that are as equally valid to that believer as the original perceptions are to the original believer. That seems to me like the real meaning of relativism.
When you practice relativism, real objective reality doesn't really hold much water to you. If, for instance, America's perception is that Iraq has huge stockpiles of "weapons of mass murder" as President Bush claimed, that is the perceived reality in America. I bought into that claim right up to the point where the UN weapons inspectors had the run of the place and were coming up dry even though they should have had access both to the US intelligence on Iraq and the actual locations where those weapons were supposed to be located, yet no weapons were being found. The change in my perceptions was sealed when Bush told the effective UN inspection team to get out so we could begin our war, presumably placing US troops at the receiving end of Saddam's huge stockpile of chemical and biological weapons. Some Americans needed more proof than I did.
The objective reality is that Saddam had no such stockpiles of "weapons of mass murder." But the objective reality had nothing to do with the opinions or beliefs or reality of the majority of US citizens. We believed the relativist perceptions, the perceptions where those weapons were real because we believed they were real.
That was just an example, but it is a good one. Relative realities exist throughout the political landscape and they are very effectively used by politicians to sway public opinion and support, not just for the election of the politicians but for gaining public approval for political policy. The criticism of John Bolton is that he is not so much concerned with objective reality as he is with using relative perceptions to support political policy. If that is the case, and it seems that it might very well be the case, then how can anyone argue that he is the man for the job? Do we really want to endorse relativism as the political philosophy of the United States?