Friday, June 15, 2007

Something to be sure of ...

... certainty sells: In the know. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The most intelligent thing I've seen said on this subject of late comes from Nassim Nicholas Taleb: "Religion has very little to do with 'belief'; it is an indivisible package of aesthetics, ethics, social-emotional commitments, and transmission of κηρύγμα, a set of customs and rituals inherited from the elders. Indeed the complication of 'belief' is mostly a Western Christianity type of constructed problems, and a modern one at that: ask an Eastern Orthodox monk 'what he believes', and he will be puzzled: he would tell you what he practices. [I discussed the 'amin' in an earlier note]. Orthodoxy is principally liturgy, fasting, practices, and tradition; it is an ornate religion that focuses on aesthetics and requires a very strong commitment. 'Belief' is meaningless; practice is real. What we now translate by 'veneration', προσκυνει is literally bowing down to the ground a very physical act [Note that I am not partaking of the current debate on religion out of disrespect for almost all the participants: aside from being journalistic in the worst bildungsphilistinistic sense, particularly when they talk about 'probability', most are not even wrong]."

1 comment:

  1. Those comments put me in mind of two of my own humble observations of religion at work. One is the physical intimacy of Greek Orthodox, er, believers with the objects of their veneration. In Athens, I saw well-heeled women break from their afternoon's shopping to drop into a tiny church and kiss icons. The act, the ritual was all.

    And among Jews, the Mishnah, with its minute debates about times for prayer, ritual cleanliness, and legal matters, is one big guide not for belief, but for living.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"