Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

Obama’s Challenge: What To Do When Unemployed At 56?

Poor Barack Obama…he may find himself unemployed at the tender age of 56, in January 2017. What to do? And how to top the job of President of the United States of America?

Two solutions spring to mind. Obama may move into the entertainment business, as a rock or movie star. I am sure people will scramble to buy tickets no matter how good or bad he would be with a guitar or on a cinema screen.

The other possibility is to become Pope. All he’ll have to do is a “Tony Blair” and convert to Roman Catholicism after leaving office. That’ll make him eligible to be elected as successor of Benedict XVI, most likely by popular acclamation like the Popes of old.

If anybody cannot believe in the above: just imagine telling anybody in 1951 that the main actor in “Bedtime for Bonzo” was bound to become one of the most beloved Presidents in history. Ah, and that a 15-year-old in Kenya was going to be the father of the 44th President.

The Christian Roots of Marxism (and Secular Thought)

It turns out, Pope Benedict was not so wrong after all.

Excerpts from “A Rescue of Religion” by John Gray, The New York Review of Books, Volume 55, Number 15 ยท October 9, 2008 – reviewing “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?: 23 Questions from Great Philosophers” by Leszek Kolakowski, Basic Books:

It is part of Kolakowski’s achievement as the greatest living intellectual historian to have tracked the ways in which religion has shaped Western thought. His work is, in effect, a sustained argument for the irreducible presence of religion in intellectual life and in society. In Kolakowski’s view the secular movements of the last century, such as communism, […] deployed categories of thought, including a view of history as a narrative having a consummation or end-point, which are inheritances from Western monotheism. […] Religion was not in truth superseded, either in Marx’s thought or in the movements Marx inspired. Instead, the promise of salvation reemerged as a project of universal emancipation.

The renewal of religious categories of thinking in avowedly secular systems of ideas […] continued in the ideology of neoconservatism. The notion of the end of history […] derives from religious traditions of apocalyptic myth. […] Presupposing as they do a teleological view of history that cannot be stated in empirical terms, all such theories are religious narratives translated into secular language. […]

Religion has had a formative influence on our categories of thought, which it is the task of philosophy to examine. Excavating the archaeology of our concepts is a part of philosophical inquiry. For us, that inescapably involves tracing their debts to Judaism and Christianity. Any way of doing philosophy that neglects these traditions is unhistorical and impoverished.

There are some philosophers for whom the only place for religion in philosophical inquiry is that of a bogey, a specter of irrationality that must be exposed and expelled so that philosophy can be an entirely secular discipline. As Kolakowski has argued, however, a good deal of secular thought has been shaped by Western religion. Exorcising religion is harder than it seems.

Richard Dawkins where art thou?