April 20, 2010
A Nut’s a Nut the World Around

Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazim Sadeghi on CNN:

— Women who dress provocatively and tempt people into promiscuity are to blame for earthquakes, a leading Iranian hard-line cleric has apparently said.

The prayer leader, Hojatoleslam Kazim Sadeghi, says women and girls who “don’t dress appropriately” spread “promiscuity in society.”

“When promiscuity spreads, earthquakes increase,” he says in a video posted Monday on YouTube, apparently of him leading Friday prayers in Tehran, Iran, last week.


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American Pastor John Hagee in Salon:

— The newspaper carried the story in our local area, that was not carried nationally, that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it would was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other gay pride parades.

So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the Day of Judgment, and I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at April 20, 2010 06:29 PM
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When you are religiously insane you are blind to your own insanity because your religion tells you how correct you are.

Posted by: One Fly on April 20, 2010 9:51 PM

Narcissism. If the earth moves for Mr. Cleric, it has to move for everyone.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam on April 21, 2010 12:03 AM

I'd up the ante, One Fly, and say that no matter what your belief system, all the data you get confirms it, so you continue to believe it.

This is basic stuff in what I understand of cognitive psychology: that our senses take in thousands of times as much data as our cognition can process, so we have to select what we choose to call information, leaving the rest as noise. Thus any view of the world is self-perpetuating in normal circumstances, though various techniques can break the cycle, from psychotherapy to meditation to holotropric breathwork.

The funny thing is how difficult it is to avoid having a belief system. People I know who consider themselves clear-eyed realists unafraid to confront the sometimes bleak reality of the universe as science imagines it have a complete and all-encompassing belief system to rival Catholicism, with the added benefit that parts of it are very accurate at predicting real-world results. But parts of it aren't, in fact parts of it continually make them unhappy; but rather than change their beliefs about the world, they put up with being unhappy.

Belief systems become prejudices if found in the wrong environment. No matter the belief system, it seems to me.

Posted by: Chuck Dupree on April 21, 2010 1:36 AM

One might advance the argument that one thing Iran and the US have in common over most of their respective histories is a relative freedom of inquiry compared to contemporary nations. In which case the similarity between Iranian and American wackos is, as the post suggests, not happenstance.

Mr Sediqi was delivering a televised sermon at the Tehran University campus mosque last Friday on the need for a "general repentance" by Iranians when he warned of a "prevalence of degeneracy".

"What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble? There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes," he said.

And another viewpoint from the man most American commentators consider crazy at best.

Seismologists have warned that the capital, Tehran, is situated on a large number of tectonic fault lines and could be hit by a devastating earthquake soon.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said many of Tehran's 12 million inhabitants should relocate.

There are plans to build a purpose built new capital near Qom.

Posted by: Chuck Dupree on April 21, 2010 2:56 AM

Jerry, Scott Horton adds another name to this list:

http://harpers.org/archive/2010/04/hbc-90006911

Posted by: Buck on April 21, 2010 6:12 AM

That belief system trap has fascinated philosophers and the more enlightened theologians for a long time: a complete all-explaining system is the death of the intellect. There's a need for a heuristics of self-critical thinking, which in most circumstances is hard to develop. And it, too, can lead to morbid self-involvement—the narcissism of the absolutist believer—with the botched attempt at a "cure" winding up worse than the disease.

Posted by: Jim on April 21, 2010 7:26 AM

Eric Hoffer's book, True Believer is about as good an explanation of the phenomenon that others here are touching upon in these discussions as anything I've read. Personally I reject ideology, unlike Alan Greenspan who testified a couple of years ago that one had to have one to maneuver successfully through the world. I think his thoughts on the subject explain the fallacy of one true ideology very well. So although I call myself a liberal, on some issues I'm not. But I do believe that every ideology that I'm aware of has its strong as well as its weak points and that one must break from any one "true" ideology to be able to see the world clearly. So I don't mind taking a look at the belief system of others. Religion itself has the capability of causing many to do good things in and for the world and for the benefit of the human beings who inhabit it (and in deference to Mr. Nock, the animals as well). I'm agnostic, thus not taking a position on the subject other than my belief that all religions, or at least the ones I know about, do carry with them a certain fairy tale element. However I don't dismiss them all out of hand as I believe that in many situations such belief systems can be useful as a force of good. However I don't reject the notion that religions, which I regard as an ideology or a "belief system" can also cause people to engage in conduct which has tremendous destructive capacity and if one chooses to step into the religious arena he must be careful of where those steps may lead him, and in the particular instances in the post that we see here, we see religion used as a tool to foster hatred of "the other". And therein lies the most destructive element and tool of the fanatically religious.

Posted by: Buck on April 21, 2010 8:28 AM
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