Sunday, July 24, 2011

 

East of Eden


And so it goes:

[Jon Magnus, chief correspondent on the foreign desk at Oslo newspaper VG] said that in Norway's famously open society it is normal for top politicians, including the prime minister, to walk the streets of Oslo without protection.

But he believes that will now change. "From today they will probably have bodyguards and police guards and they will go by car and never again stop and talk to people," he said.

Siri Gulestad, head of clinical psychology at the University of Oslo, said Norway had "lost a kind of innocence."
Expulsion can be a bitch.
.

Comments:
This incident is further evidence, if any were needed, for the agnostic thesis that it is absolutist thinking of any sort that enables the sort of atrocity recently perpetrated in Norway.

As an aside, this is why I am wary of a presidential candidate like Michele Bachmann. She has claimed that pivotal marriage, career and political decisions were taken under direct guidance from God. If she truly believes that - a significant caveat since she is a politician after all - then it is but a short step to believing she is acting as God's agent here on Earth and that anyone who opposes her is opposing His will and should expect to suffer the consequences of such disobedience. Should her religion turn out to be True Belief™ rather than just a faith of convenience then we should be more alarmed the closer she gets to the White House.
 
It's interesting that - although his views are most frequently associated with the Christian rightwing here in the U.S. - the more reliable reports I've seen suggest he himself doesn't seem to be all that religious.
I mean, if we were to pick and choose things out of context, one could find parallels to Sam Harris' thoughts about Islam (and I would not support that without appropriate investigation).
So I like your idea of absolutism as a descriptor.
 
TB,

Yeah, I don't get the impression (from the very little I've admittedly read) that he was concerned about, say, following Jesus; it was more like a concern with keeping the 'wrong' people out of Europe, from influencing his idea of what Europe is supposed to be.

What's interesting to me, having studied Norwegian for a few years and having dated a man from Denmark, the fellow from Denmark used to talk about Denmark's being Christian and that Muslim immigrants did a lot of things that went against Danish values. He used the word 'Christian' almost interchangeably with 'Danish.'

He was also nonreligious -- didn't go to church, or believe in theological claims, but he identified himself as Christian in a cultural sense, much like my atheist Jewish neighbor sees himself as a cultural Jew but not a believer in God.

So I wonder if this concept of 'Christian' = 'European culture' as opposed to some kind of theological commitment is at play here.

Just a thought.

-- pew sitter
 
Thanks pewsitter.

Over at Religious Dispatches

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4910/is_norway%E2%80%99s_suspected_murderer_anders_breivik_a_christian_terrorist/

Mark Juergensmeyer makes the fair point that if you consider Bin Laden to have been an Islamist terrorist then it's accurate to say the Norway killer is a Christian terrorist.

I suppose if some enjoy a complete lack of nuance, that would be correct - they may not like it, but it's certainly fitting.
 
So if bin Laden was Islamic, this Norway guy and Timothy McVeigh Christian and Stalinand Mai atheist, what figure with mass murder associated with them in some way can be used ignorantly against agnostics?
 
Well there seems to be a major difference between Brevik and Bin Laden: their motivations. Brevik described himself as "moderately religious" in one statement. However, Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have explicitly stated that they are acting in the name of God, the Norway gunman was acting in the name of keeping the "wrong" people out of europe.
 
If I've ever described bin Laden as an Islamic terrorist, I never intended to convey the impression that I believe BL was representative of Islam and its followers. However, it's likely that if I did use that description, that nuance was likely lost.
I think of one does believe that BL is representative to any extent, then I think the Dispatch article puts forth a fair point in terms of consistency. That's not to say it's correct to hold that point of view, though.

And, in my previous comment, Mai = Mao. A brief search took me to the "serial killer" page at wikipedia, where "mass murderer" and "serial killer were differentiated, but the motivation of "mission-oriented" for serial killers seems to apply.
But I was unable to find evidence of agnosticism as a motivator (so far).
 
Good NYT story on the killer's bloggy influences

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/25/us/25debate.html?_r=1#

Robert Spenser of Jihad Watch and the Atlas Shrugged site.
 
TB,

What the heck are agnostics going to put on the manifesto?

"I don't know, and I don't care, and if you presume to know or care, I'll (add in form(s) of anti-social violence here) you"

-- pew sitter, with strong agnostic leanings
 
Yeah, that's a challenge isn't it!
 
You've got it wrong, Pew Sitter. It's "if you presume to know or care, I may or may not (insert anti-social violence here) you."
 
Anonymous,

Awww, that just sounds like a plain old fence sitter to me.

Most agnostics I know seem fairly adamant that not only do they not know, but nobody else does either. ;-)

-- pew sitter and fan of the Via Negativa
 
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