Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Just wondering whether anyone else has taken the time to listen to this. I had never spent any time listening to Julie Rowe before. What amazes me more than anything, I suppose, is just how modern her theological metaphors are (incorporating modern technology, video game concepts, etc.). Moreover, it sounds to me like she is drawing on popular Christian practices of our time, such as being a spirit warrior against demons, and the like. The stuff about multiple mortal probations is interesting to me, and I don't have a particular issue with it. But some of the other stuff that Julie and her prophetic peer Chad Daybell incorporate in their teachings just sounds kinda New-Agey and bogus to me.

Add to that the fact that Julie so often does not actually respond directly to Lindsay's questions. She sounds like kind of a flim-flam artist or cold reader. She talks in such a mighty stream of logorrhea that you kinda start to forget what the discussion was about in the first place.

From a feminist perspective, Julie's prophethood and popularity are kind of refreshing. For me, however, once one gets past the novelty of a prophetess, it is hard to ignore just how unappealing the whole package is.

Visit https://www.yearofpolygamy.com/uncatego ... ulie-rowe/
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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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I recall her pronouncing several dates for when earthquakes and destruction would descend on Salt Lake City, and well, they totally didn’t. That’s enough for me to say “nah.”

I didn’t listen to the interview and probably won’t. But wasn’t her prophetess thing begun via a NDE? NDEs are always going to seem super powerful and meaningful to those they happen to, and many want to glom onto that as seeming to be proof of the divine. But really, they’re just that one person’s experiences and thoughts filtered into an intense time when they nearly died. We should be past the point of believing that anyone’s NDE is somehow representative of what might happen universally. Good business for books, though.
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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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I am intrigued when someone claims to be a prophet — how do their ideas originate and flow? Are they internally consistent, and do these ideas sound like things that would make my life and the word a better place.

Hadn’t listened to Rowe much before, but after giving this two part interview a go on 1.5 speed, I came away with mostly the same takes as you articulated, reverend. The coupling of Joseph Smith’s innovations on Christianity with new age spiritualism and reincarnation, I guess the only thing missing is a definitive answer on multiverse theory. Her obsession with Satan is a red flag, as my own lived experience leads me closer to a belief that Satan is just an imagined source of evil to fear people into compliance with this or that religion.

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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Daybell has a book on the afterlife from an NDE he had, right? Wonder why Sic et Non isn't all over that.
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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Grudunza wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:04 pm
I recall her pronouncing several dates for when earthquakes and destruction would descend on Salt Lake City, and well, they totally didn’t. That’s enough for me to say “nah.”

I didn’t listen to the interview and probably won’t. But wasn’t her prophetess thing begun via a NDE? NDEs are always going to seem super powerful and meaningful to those they happen to, and many want to glom onto that as seeming to be proof of the divine. But really, they’re just that one person’s experiences and thoughts filtered into an intense time when they nearly died. We should be past the point of believing that anyone’s NDE is somehow representative of what might happen universally. Good business for books, though.
Yeah, she was a central figure in the Prepper Movement, IIRC. That is already a huge red flag for me, and it is a big reason I didn't pay her much mind in the past. I did not come away from the podcasts feeling like I was missing anything except a couple of hours I would never get back.
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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Dr Moore wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:24 pm
I am intrigued when someone claims to be a prophet — how do their ideas originate and flow? Are they internally consistent, and do these ideas sound like things that would make my life and the word a better place.

Hadn’t listened to Rowe much before, but after giving this two part interview a go on 1.5 speed, I came away with mostly the same takes as you articulated, reverend. The coupling of Joseph Smith’s innovations on Christianity with new age spiritualism and reincarnation, I guess the only thing missing is a definitive answer on multiverse theory. Her obsession with Satan is a red flag, as my own lived experience leads me closer to a belief that Satan is just an imagined source of evil to fear people into compliance with this or that religion.
Indeed. Anyone who spends too much time talking about Satan is to be avoided, IMO. And Julie has expended quite a bit of mental and spiritual enemy on the Dark One and his minions. Honestly, Satan and demons are among the worst innovations of Christianity. Although I probably should not speculate in this way, and please feel free to take this with a huge grain of salt, the evil characters of Hellenistic Jewish and then Christian mythology are probably borrowed from elements of Zoroastrian theology and owe a lot of their staying power to resentment over Macedonian and Roman imperialism.

Prior to the Common Era, the dominant way of thinking about spirits was that there were all kinds of entities populating the world. Thanks to the influence of Zoroastrianism on Judaism, and then the stress of occupation of Israel by foreign powers after the return from Babylon, a dualistic evil/good spiritual schema takes hold and then, later, all of the various entities get thrown into one of two moral categories. The vast majority of named entities get consigned to the category of evil demons (these are the pagan gods and spirits). This stark moral-existential dualism has been one of the most pernicious and destructive ideas in human history.

In later Judaism and Christianity it created a world in which many believers were continually on the look out for invisible, evil entities that were "out to get them." What a wonderful way to manipulate believers! The world is a dangerous place, and evil is always on the prowl. And instead of focusing on the real-world problems that we can do something about, people construct these imaginary battlegrounds where they live out their own epic struggles against fictitious enemies. It is paranoid, counterproductive, and a huge waste of time. It is what people do to avoid reality when reality is too dull or painful to handle. It is what leaders use to scare their followers back into line.

This is what we see in this movement. A lot of people fussing and worrying over imaginary warfare with imaginary entities and dreaming of mortal probations past and future. It is like being the author of one's own series of fantasy novels in which one can be the protagonist/hero.
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“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith

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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Gadianton wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:17 pm
Daybell has a book on the afterlife from an NDE he had, right? Wonder why Sic et Non isn't all over that.
I think you are right, Gad. This is another phenomenon that I steer clear of and pay little attention to. I have known a couple of people who published their NDEs in those collections sold in Deseret Book back in the '80s. In both cases, the person in question was either ethically dodgy, mentally unstable, or both. Sorry to say that one was a relative who has since passed away. It instilled in me a lack of interest in the phenomenon. I just can't take it all that seriously.
“God came to me in a dream last night and showed me the future. He took me to heaven and I saw Donald Trump seated at the right hand of our Lord.” ~ Pat Robertson
“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith

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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Kishkumen wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:05 am
Indeed. Anyone who spends too much time talking about Satan is to be avoided, IMO. And Julie has expended quite a bit of mental and spiritual enemy on the Dark One and his minions. Honestly, Satan and demons are among the worst innovations of Christianity. Although I probably should not speculate in this way, and please feel free to take this with a huge grain of salt, the evil characters of Hellenistic Jewish and then Christian mythology are probably borrowed from elements of Zoroastrian theology and owe a lot of their staying power to resentment over Macedonian and Roman imperialism.

Prior to the Common Era, the dominant way of thinking about spirits was that there were all kinds of entities populating the world. Thanks to the influence of Zoroastrianism on Judaism, and then the stress of occupation of Israel by foreign powers after the return from Babylon, a dualistic evil/good spiritual schema takes hold and then, later, all of the various entities get thrown into one of two moral categories. The vast majority of named entities get consigned to the category of evil demons (these are the pagan gods and spirits). This stark moral-existential dualism has been one of the most pernicious and destructive ideas in human history.

In later Judaism and Christianity it created a world in which many believers were continually on the look out for invisible, evil entities that were "out to get them." What a wonderful way to manipulate believers! The world is a dangerous place, and evil is always on the prowl. And instead of focusing on the real-world problems that we can do something about, people construct these imaginary battlegrounds where they live out their own epic struggles against fictitious enemies. It is paranoid, counterproductive, and a huge waste of time. It is what people do to avoid reality when reality is too dull or painful to handle. It is what leaders use to scare their followers back into line.

This is what we see in this movement. A lot of people fussing and worrying over imaginary warfare with imaginary entities and dreaming of mortal probations past and future. It is like being the author of one's own series of fantasy novels in which one can be the protagonist/hero.
Or perhaps this is just human psychology?

I do take this all with a grain of salt, as you prescribe us to, since there is a great deal lost when you flatten on the anvil of history the millions of multitudinous experiences of human beings, all from wildly disparate cultures over millennia, with a few big hammers like Roman imperialism and Zoroastrian theology. And I'm sure you would agree that what might seem as manipulation of followers in the ancient world on a superficial level might actually have been attempts to "deal with real world problems that we can do something about" (e.g. Gregory the Great or any number of ascetics, to pick some easy examples). What would you have expected them to do instead? These were societies where a few weeks of severe or unexpected weather could fatally disrupt the food supply. None of the mechanisms that have solved any of the real-world problems they faced were even thought of, let alone able to be implemented. In such an environment, I find it understandable that people cast those problems in terms they could understand and that offered them something that seemed like a solution. Supposing that dualism developed along the course you trace here, it's not as if the pre-dualistic world you presuppose was any better at solving those problems. I'm not sure, in any case, the Melians would have taken any comfort from the fact that the Athenians were more sophisticated in their analysis than a Zoroastrian priest might have been.

And besides, I wonder if you would agree that the explanation as you lay it out comes close to replicating the effect it decries: on the one hand, there are those who are simply trying to solve "real-world problems that we can do something about" and who don't use their worldview as a mechanism for manipulating followers, and on the other hand there are people trapped in a "moral-existential dualism" whose views are "fictitious," "paranoid," and "counterproductive," and all their activity involving their views a "huge waste of time" that is "avoiding reality."

Not that I am charging you with anything: human beings naturally reduce complexity into more manageable parts, 2 parts being the second easiest to manage behind 1. Maybe that is just the necessity of the format here, but on the other hand the form of dualism you decry seems pervasive to me and seems to appear even in denunciations of it. There are great number of Americans who view themselves as people who are just trying to solve "real-world problems that we can do something about" yet who characterize anyone who disagrees in exactly the same kind of terms you put here: people trapped in a "moral-existential dualism" whose views are "fictitious," "paranoid," and "counterproductive," and all their activity involving their views a "huge waste of time" that is "avoiding reality" (that stance practically describes Vox and every Elizabeth Warren supporter I ever heard talk, yet they sincerely believe they're just problem-solvers; it's just they can't solve the problems until they fend off the forces of evil). And for every Trump supporter who thinks masks are a conspiracy to suppress the MAGA vote to benefit China, I'll show you a Ph.D. trying to beat up a gaudy bronze statue of someone who's been dead for more than 100 years and who they couldn't tell you two facts about, all in order to exorcise some demon that is supposedly all around us.

And yet I don't think one could make a real argument that Macedonian imperialism and Middle Zoroastrianism is lurking behind any of it.
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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Symmachus wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:15 am
Or perhaps this is just human psychology?
What in human affairs doesn't come down to human psychology to one extent or another? I don't spend my time writing posts that say, "Well, that's human psychology for you," because, well, that is banal, obvious, and boring, although it is wonderfully accurate much of the time.
Symmachus wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:15 am
I do take this all with a grain of salt, as you prescribe us to, since there is a great deal lost when you flatten on the anvil of history the millions of multitudinous experiences of human beings, all from wildly disparate cultures over millennia, with a few big hammers like Roman imperialism and Zoroastrian theology.
OK, and yet describing things this way ignores the fact there was a kind of hotspot of cultural creativity in a more limited time and space wherein these elements came together that is arguably pertinent to what I am perhaps clumsily trying to convey. It is not like I am simply saying, "Wow, that Zoroaster and old Augustus have a lot to answer for here!"
Symmachus wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:15 am
And I'm sure you would agree that what might seem as manipulation of followers in the ancient world on a superficial level might actually have been attempts to "deal with real world problems that we can do something about" (e.g. Gregory the Great or any number of ascetics, to pick some easy examples). What would you have expected them to do instead? These were societies where a few weeks of severe or unexpected weather could fatally disrupt the food supply. None of the mechanisms that have solved any of the real-world problems they faced were even thought of, let alone able to be implemented. In such an environment, I find it understandable that people cast those problems in terms they could understand and that offered them something that seemed like a solution. Supposing that dualism developed along the course you trace here, it's not as if the pre-dualistic world you presuppose was any better at solving those problems. I'm not sure, in any case, the Melians would have taken any comfort from the fact that the Athenians were more sophisticated in their analysis than a Zoroastrian priest might have been.
I would like to think that you are reading the wrong things into my post. Just because I said that the theological strategy of transforming countless gods, demigods, and other entities into evil demons was probably useful for manipulating people does not mean that I believe this is an explanation of the cause of that kind of theological move. Nor am I interested in casting blame on the "ancients" for doing this kind of thing. Furthermore, far be it from me to judge harshly the peoples of antiquity for doing their best to deal with reality as they understood it. What I am doing here is making a casual, retrospective judgment based on how all of this seems to have turned out. It comes from my modern bias and my own viewpoint as it conflicts with the views of my contemporaries who put a lot of stock into the existence of all-righteous and all-evil invisible entities, apocalyptic prophecies, and the like.

Now, I do not doubt that people today also believe they are engaged in the serious business of dealing with reality when they become prayer warriors to cast out demons and prepare for their advancement to the next mortal probation in which they hope to be a step closer to godhood. The story is a little different, but it is definitely a reception of past ideas, and I don't think it is out of bounds to draw connections between the reception of antiquity in religion today and the cultural and historical factors that informed certain developments in the past, even with a broad brush and on a public message board. Obviously I don't, since I am doing it.
Symmachus wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:15 am
And besides, I wonder if you would agree that the explanation as you lay it out comes close to replicating the effect it decries: on the one hand, there are those who are simply trying to solve "real-world problems that we can do something about" and who don't use their worldview as a mechanism for manipulating followers, and on the other hand there are people trapped in a "moral-existential dualism" whose views are "fictitious," "paranoid," and "counterproductive," and all their activity involving their views a "huge waste of time" that is "avoiding reality."
Yeah, I knew that, if you read this, you would trot out this argument. I give it high marks for being clever, which is probably more than I will get from you for my post. OK, so, I don't view my participation on MormonDiscussions.com as "trying to solve real-world problems that we can do something about." I am actually kind of taken aback that you, of all people, imagine me taking that position. My understanding, and correct me if I am wrong because I am working from my recollection of your explanation of why you came to this board, is that you are here partly because you were amused by our fun, silly, and satirical send up of apologetics. Really, I hope that you don't see me as imagining that I am doing serious work here. I am shooting the ____ with friends.

Also, while you are indeed perceptive to see that I have created my own crude duality here that breaks the world into the congregation of the serious problem solvers and the congregation of deluded fantasists, I think that, again, you are reading your own assumptions into my understanding of these categories. I have to take the blame for being so careless as to treat this message board as a place where I can let my hair down and share my casual, late-night bar talk about the world. The truth is, however, that I think most of what all of us do, myself included, is indulge in fantasies of one kind or another. Very few of us are actually engaged in real-world problem solving, and most of those who claim to be doing so are full of ____. The wiser among them can be forced to admit this after being pressed by a non-threatening and skillful interlocutor.

That said, I am tempted to hypothesize that indulging in the stark moral dualism of certain theological systems and their accompanying apocalyptic narratives has probably been an aggravating factor in human conflict, even among those who do not believe in spiritual entities or the Bible. I can't prove it, and I will readily confess that it does not take demons or the final anti-Christ to participate in murderous "othering." Given, however, the wide purchase and pervasive influence of these ideas, it is tough to separate them out and imagine what the world might have been without them. I never claimed that my post was an answer to the problems of humanity, however, and I stand by that humble lack of any claim to have provided one.
Symmachus wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:15 am
Not that I am charging you with anything: human beings naturally reduce complexity into more manageable parts, 2 parts being the second easiest to manage behind 1. Maybe that is just the necessity of the format here, but on the other hand the form of dualism you decry seems pervasive to me and seems to appear even in denunciations of it. There are great number of Americans who view themselves as people who are just trying to solve "real-world problems that we can do something about" yet who characterize anyone who disagrees in exactly the same kind of terms you put here: people trapped in a "moral-existential dualism" whose views are "fictitious," "paranoid," and "counterproductive," and all their activity involving their views a "huge waste of time" that is "avoiding reality" (that stance practically describes Vox and every Elizabeth Warren supporter I ever heard talk, yet they sincerely believe they're just problem-solvers; it's just they can't solve the problems until they fend off the forces of evil). And for every Trump supporter who thinks masks are a conspiracy to suppress the MAGA vote to benefit China, I'll show you a Ph.D. trying to beat up a gaudy bronze statue of someone who's been dead for more than 100 years and who they couldn't tell you two facts about, all in order to exorcise some demon that is supposedly all around us.

And yet I don't think one could make a real argument that Macedonian imperialism and Middle Zoroastrianism is lurking behind any of it.
You'll have to forgive me for feeling like you are reacting to my post as though I am an ideological foe who has just unfairly denigrated the benighted conservative gaggle. In other, fewer words, I am being told that, yes, my ____ stinks too. You, on the other hand, are wise because you recognize that everyone's ____ stinks, and so you are disappointed when you see me apparently failing to get that. Let me assure you that I apply my negative judgments to everyone who imagines that their devils must be exorcised in order to save us all, whether they actually believe in literal devils or not. We might say the same thing of exorcising Mopologists, a favorite pastime of ours here on the MormonDiscussions.com. If I were to be so bold as to cling to anything in my earlier post after your criticism, even tentatively, it is that I remain open to the possibility that the belief systems that took hold in the West in the first century CE continue to have identifiable impacts on our world today. I may not have hit on exactly the right ones, or proved to your satisfaction the influences and connections, but, then, as you observed yourself, it's just a damn message board.

Finally, after this long time of our acquaintance, as narrow as it may be, I do understand that you hate this kind of historical shooting of the ____. I chose to do it anyway, because, well, I enjoy it. Sorry. Maybe that places me in a category with other irresponsible baddies, but so be it. My attempts to follow my better angels (which I do not believe in, but it's still a useful metaphor that has a long history behind it) do prevent me from making a fool out of myself in this particular way on a public blog, in journal articles, or in books published by university presses (smarter, more learned peers have succumbed to temptation!), but I just can't seem to restrain myself from doing it here. Maybe you can rhetorically beat the impulse out of me.
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“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith

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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Your prickliness I can detect though not quite understand, and while I probably deserve it, yet I must defend myself from the slander that I have attempted to say anything clever, let alone succeeded, or the virtual character assassination inherent in setting down a challenge to beat you, rhetorically or otherwise. I haven't even figured out to how win at solitaire.

I view any post here as an invitation to respond, and my response is simply that I don't agree firstly with the current orthodoxy among scholars of the ancient Mediterranean that Zoroastrianism was all that influential on Judaism (so few can actually read Zoroastrian texts, which is a significant problem when what few translations there are obscure a lot and are very old, and still even fewer understand that most of the Zoroastrian corpus on which this claim is based come from centuries after the period in question; in any case, it's probably a more technical a discussion than you want to have). One could better make the argument with Manicheism and Christianity, but even there you run into a chicken-egg dilemma. It is an interesting problem, which perhaps doesn't interest you as it does me, but I find an actual discussion of the mechanism of idea transmission to be absent from any of these discussions and from intellectual history in general. Augustine's example is interesting because it offers a glimpse into the thinking, however refracted through a later lens, of someone who moved around the world of these big ideas; and what I see in him is someone whose acceptance of certain ideas (like Manicheism) was conditioned by the kinds of questions he was asking—but why was he asking those questions and not others? It was not the idea alone but the personality involved that determined the reception of the idea.

The mechanisms by which Julie Rowe makes it back to Zarathustra seem unlikely to me, but obviously it's an interpretive question.

Where we most likely disagree is more fundamental: I don't really think ideas are as significant as they appear. That is why I called in my example from Vox, not because I thought you were ignoring conservatives in your critique (as if I even cared about that; I'm sure you enjoyed taking to me task, as a Reverend should, for the pretended wisdom of what-about-ism, but I'm afraid you missed the point on this one). Even the "ideas people" are really moved by their moral convictions or some other passion—or in other words, "boring, banal, and obvious" human psychology. The trick here is that attaching moral value to ideas slips one into a dualist trap, since any idea that is morally good necessarily implies that its opposites are evil. That is what you seemed to be doing with phrases like "most pernicious" and "destructive." I guess you were just letting your hair down, but I only have words to go by here. Anyway I don't know that something like cosmic dualism implies any kind of morality in itself until it is put to use by human beings, when the boring, banal, and obvious are activated and thus better explain the consequences of the ideas, since those are the primary operators. The idea that there is a force like Satan opposing another force like God, and that each has an army of subordinates to enact the will of the one while opposing that of the other—well, that doesn't seem to me to imply anything about morality. It's only when group A starts to assign group B to one camp or the other that you get to the moral questions and the bloodshed, but then the question is why group A assigned group B in the way they did—and again we're back to the boring, banal, though not always obvious. What is obvious, though, is that group A doesn't need any ideas at all to go after group B; certainly no ideas are going to stop them.

It is not to say ideas never matter. I just don't think they are very powerful motivators in general and serve other functions.

I do completely agree, however, with your sage advice to steer clear of people who talk a lot about Satan. I don't really care if people think Satan and his demons exist and I see it as basically harmless as an idea. More dangerous to me are people who are possessed by ideas, whatever the idea might be, because they impose a kind of second reality, which is derived from their numinous obsessions and in which they are the only inhabitant, onto the one derived from the shared experiences of other people, the one which other people inhabit. Those possessed of ideas in this way start by reducing everything to the idea and in the worst cases end by reducing people to it. I don't think the idea that possesses them matters as much as the fact that they are possessed. I know a lot of people, as I'm sure you do as well, who believe Satan is the father of evil and that his evil spirits are out to get us, but they just don't seem to do anything about it. Someone like Julie Rowe, on the other hand, seems rather possessed by the thought.
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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Symmachus wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:16 pm
I view any post here as an invitation to respond, and my response is simply that I don't agree firstly with the current orthodoxy among scholars of the ancient Mediterranean that Zoroastrianism was all that influential on Judaism (so few can actually read Zoroastrian texts, which is a significant problem when what few translations there are obscure a lot and are very old, and still even fewer understand that most of the Zoroastrian corpus on which this claim is based come from centuries after the period in question; in any case, it's probably a more technical a discussion than you want to have). One could better make the argument with Manicheism and Christianity, but even there you run into a chicken-egg dilemma. It is an interesting problem, which perhaps doesn't interest you as it does me, but I find an actual discussion of the mechanism of idea transmission to be absent from any of these discussions and from intellectual history in general. Augustine's example is interesting because it offers a glimpse into the thinking, however refracted through a later lens, of someone who moved around the world of these big ideas; and what I see in him is someone whose acceptance of certain ideas (like Manicheism) was conditioned by the kinds of questions he was asking—but why was he asking those questions and not others? It was not the idea alone but the personality involved that determined the reception of the idea.
Thanks for sharing that. I would have preferred this the first time around, but I am very happy to have it now. I understand that most of these arguments are speculative and problematic. Yes, it's the commonly shared assumption, and I don't have a problem with that. Now I am aware that you do. I guess what took me aback was what seemed at the time to be a condescending reaction based on the apparent assumption that the only thing I have informing my position on this is something I read in passing a few times. In response to what you say above, I am more skeptical of the idea that there were strong boundaries dividing these traditions that we commonly observe as a matter of convenience. Judaism? Christianity? Manicheism? Completely different things? Different versions of more or less the same thing? Is St. Augustine's opinion on the matter definitive? I don't know. And even though Zoroastrianism is significantly different from the other terms here, I don't think that the various communities were isolated or did not share ideas.
Symmachus wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:16 pm
The mechanisms by which Julie Rowe makes it back to Zarathustra seem unlikely to me, but obviously it's an interpretive question.
Well, yes, if you continue to articulate the issue in the most ridiculous sounding terms, then of course it looks dumb.
Symmachus wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:16 pm
Where we most likely disagree is more fundamental: I don't really think ideas are as significant as they appear.
OK. Good. Yes, we probably disagree. On the cosmic dualism thing, I am granting as true the existence of a dualism in which the morality is an integral element. Yes, there are undoubtedly other kinds. To say that when A met B, C thing happened and that may have been a bad thing is something that ought not to be so exceptionable, in my view, but I seem to have provoked you with my casual use of hyperbole, which admittedly looked very moralizing, although I would still push back if you were to insist that I was viewing these things as absolute evils and existential threats that had to be wiped off the planet in order to save the world.
Symmachus wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:16 pm
It is not to say ideas never matter. I just don't think they are very powerful motivators in general and serve other functions.
Ah, OK. Difference of opinion. I am not sure how far apart we are on this. My guess is that you are reacting to my casually hyperbolic language. Fair enough.
Symmachus wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:16 pm
I do completely agree, however, with your sage advice to steer clear of people who talk a lot about Satan. I don't really care if people think Satan and his demons exist and I see it as basically harmless as an idea. More dangerous to me are people who are possessed by ideas, whatever the idea might be, because they impose a kind of second reality, which is derived from their numinous obsessions and in which they are the only inhabitant, onto the one derived from the shared experiences of other people, the one which other people inhabit. Those possessed of ideas in this way start by reducing everything to the idea and in the worst cases end by reducing people to it. I don't think the idea that possesses them matters as much as the fact that they are possessed. I know a lot of people, as I'm sure you do as well, who believe Satan is the father of evil and that his evil spirits are out to get us, but they just don't seem to do anything about it. Someone like Julie Rowe, on the other hand, seems rather possessed by the thought.
I love what you have to say here. Very thought-provoking and worthy of reflection. I would say that I have seen lots of people who are possessed of different kinds of ideas. Most of them are harmless and annoying. Fandom is arguably in the mix here. People who are possessed of their vision of a certain musician or movie franchise can be very annoying, too. And, honestly, Julie Rowe is mostly annoying, as are most people who are caught up in these things. Is there a difference between people who are possessed of the idea of Satan and those who are possessed with the thought of Teletubbies? Is the choice of fixations important? That is an arguable point.

And, here's the thing, I don't begrudge Julie Rowe or the vast majority of the rest of these annoying people the right to engage in their annoying activities. If one wants to drop the equivalent of a night on the town on an energy session with Julie, "you do you," as the saying goes. I don't find that all that entertaining, and indeed I find it really annoying. That does not mean that I, as a general rule, expend a lot of energy on it or seek to oppose it with anything approaching a concerted effort.

That said, I do see the potential for harm, and I have my suspicions that the choice of obsessions matters. How many Jedi do we have running about doing things that end in the murder of innocent children in pursuit of their Jedi objectives? I hope we never have to find out, but maybe we just need the right ones to come along.
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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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On the transmission of ideas, either longitudinally through time from age to age or horizontally between communities and cultures, one question occurs to me. Language barriers? I realize that ancient scholars did learn multiple languages, but I'm still imagining that ideas might only cross from culture to culture over the isolated narrow bridges represented by one or two interested polyglots who picked up something from one culture and popularized it in another. That kind of narrowing of the interpretive gene pool, as it were—every Latin speaker getting their picture of a Jewish idea from Jerome, or something—might have allowed rapid distortion of the original idea.

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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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I have a lot of sympathy for Kishkumen's original post. Belief in evil spirits seems to me to be a sort of evil spirit itself.

One of its sources in Christianity, though, is surely the fact that the gospels record Jesus doing a lot of exorcism. Regardless of how authentic those stories are as history, they include plausible ancient descriptions of cases that we would classify today as neurological or psychological illness. The theory of demons and devils may be used to explain all kinds of bad things in the world, but it seems to me that explaining mental illness must have been demon theory's killer app.

In all too many cases of mental illness the demon metaphor is appallingly apt even now. Taking it seriously as an explanation today would only be a culpable waste of resources in actually treating mental illness, but we're largely helpless even today to do much of that treatment. At least the Jesus stories of exorcism set a precedent for non-violent treatment. Jesus cast out demons by talking, not whipping.

I'm not saying this is the only issue in the religious history of demons. I'm just pointing out that it wasn't only a matter of philosophical memes fighting abstract battles for intellectual market share, like a mirror-world War in Heaven that the demons won by losing the first war. There were and are real phenomena that made and make people think, with some reason, that demons are real. I don't think we can accurately understand what people have believed about demons without taking this into account.

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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Physics Guy wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:54 pm
On the transmission of ideas, either longitudinally through time from age to age or horizontally between communities and cultures, one question occurs to me. Language barriers? I realize that ancient scholars did learn multiple languages, but I'm still imagining that ideas might only cross from culture to culture over the isolated narrow bridges represented by one or two interested polyglots who picked up something from one culture and popularized it in another. That kind of narrowing of the interpretive gene pool, as it were—every Latin speaker getting their picture of a Jewish idea from Jerome, or something—might have allowed rapid distortion of the original idea.
Excellent question, PG. Yes, as things move from language to language and culture to culture, things get changed in the process, just as you say. It helps to have insider information from writers like Josephus, who being Jewish, was also sufficiently learned in the Greek language and its literature to convey something about his own culture to others. Still, the vehicle he used ended up distorting the objects of his description. To describe anything as complex as a human culture to others is a daunting task even when it is a living culture; the distance of time, geography, and scant sources makes understanding the cultures of peoples in the past that much more challenging. People get it wrong all the time. It is rarer that they get it right.

So, I sympathize with the frustration others have regarding this problem. If this really grates on you, seeing someone like me swoop into a conversation talking about Zoroastrians, demons, and Julie Rowe all in the same breath is, from one point of view, kind of crazy. If I am going to do so, I should be ready to be blasted by people who know how problematic the exercise is. Doubtless I did not react ideally to the understandable pushback.
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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Physics Guy wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:22 pm
I have a lot of sympathy for Kishkumen's original post. Belief in evil spirits seems to me to be a sort of evil spirit itself.

One of its sources in Christianity, though, is surely the fact that the gospels record Jesus doing a lot of exorcism. Regardless of how authentic those stories are as history, they include plausible ancient descriptions of cases that we would classify today as neurological or psychological illness. The theory of demons and devils may be used to explain all kinds of bad things in the world, but it seems to me that explaining mental illness must have been demon theory's killer app.

In all too many cases of mental illness the demon metaphor is appallingly apt even now. Taking it seriously as an explanation today would only be a culpable waste of resources in actually treating mental illness, but we're largely helpless even today to do much of that treatment. At least the Jesus stories of exorcism set a precedent for non-violent treatment. Jesus cast out demons by talking, not whipping.

I'm not saying this is the only issue in the religious history of demons. I'm just pointing out that it wasn't only a matter of philosophical memes fighting abstract battles for intellectual market share, like a mirror-world War in Heaven that the demons won by losing the first war. There were and are real phenomena that made and make people think, with some reason, that demons are real. I don't think we can accurately understand what people have believed about demons without taking this into account.
Yes, what exactly is going on here with demons? I don't get it, honestly. So much there to look into, and I don't know how to explain it. It is fun to read Pliny the Elder for similar reasons. When you see what passed for medicine back in the day, it becomes less surprising that people blamed demons for illnesses and unusual behavior. But you are definitely right that there were real phenomena that came to be explained as caused by demons. In order for that to happen, there had to be a belief certain entities (spirits, angels, demigods, gods, etc.) that could influence human beings.

The Ancient Greeks, had such beliefs. A daimon was thought to have the power to influence someone's thoughts, emotions, and actions. So, too, could nymphs and gods. A person could be "seized" by a nymph or god and made to do things they otherwise would not do. I have not been able to find any consistent characterization of the kind of influence these supposed entities had. Different Greeks had different ideas, and even one author, such as Plato, might use the term daimon differently at different times. But, there does seem to be a widespread belief in the existence of such things and in their influence--sometimes dramatic--on human beings.
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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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PG,

Are you being literal or... metaphysical when discussing evil spirits and mental illness? It's a really interesting take, tbh.

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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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I don’t believe in evil spirits, no. I’m just saying that belief in evil spirits is understandable if you think of mental illness. Some people with mental illnesses have dramatic and disturbing personality changes. Some hallucinate communications from entities that aren’t physically there. Pre-modern people trying to account for such things weren’t just being dumb when they thought of demons.

Some features of the demon theory might even be useful in a modern understanding. We don’t know exactly what brain phenomena generate normal psychological phenomena, so maybe some illnesses really do involve another personality taking over. Whatever it is could be the same kind of thing that I think of as my consciousness and personality—just a different one. Using the label “demon” for such a phenomenon might be apt.

What I don’t buy is that a “demon” in that sense could leap immaterially from my brain into somebody else’s. Or that it would have entered my brain from outside. Or been a fallen angel.

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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Understood. I did not take you to be saying that you believed in literal demons. Those are all interesting thoughts. There is an episode of the Brititsh crime drama "Wire in the Blood," in which investigators mistakenly believed that a perp had multiple personalities when he just had someone contacting him with instructions on what crimes to perform. There are so many different ways we can imagine "demons" operating, be they imaginary, other people imposing control, etc. What a fascinating realm of possibilities!

In any case, spirit warfare against demons is pretty popular with a certain set of Christians these days. I was surprised to find this was the case beginning about 10 years ago. I am talking about my own awareness, however. I have no idea what the history of this current phenomenon is.
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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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I don't know how far back it goes, either, but a significant fraction of evangelicals seemed to be big on "spiritual warfare" back in the 1980s. It's an appealing kind of idea, after all. It turns real life into a sort of live-action role-playing game.

The science-fiction novella "The Miracle Workers" by Jack Vance presents a fallen colony world in which material technology has been almost totally forgotten, and is despised as primitive and irrational superstition, by humans who have developed psychological manipulation into an advanced art which they think of as the only real science. The new scientists are practitioners of hoodoo, and their stock in trade is demons, which are essentially just powerful memes. It's entertaining in the rather boyish way that all Vance's work is: all the characters are thin but the dialog is acerbic, the plot is tight, and the setting is mind-boggling.

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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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Physics Guy wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:07 am
I don't know how far back it goes, either, but a significant fraction of evangelicals seemed to be big on "spiritual warfare" back in the 1980s. It's an appealing kind of idea, after all. It turns real life into a sort of live-action role-playing game.

The science-fiction novella "The Miracle Workers" by Jack Vance presents a fallen colony world in which material technology has been almost totally forgotten, and is despised as primitive and irrational superstition, by humans who have developed psychological manipulation into an advanced art which they think of as the only real science. The new scientists are practitioners of hoodoo, and their stock in trade is demons, which are essentially just powerful memes. It's entertaining in the rather boyish way that all Vance's work is: all the characters are thin but the dialog is acerbic, the plot is tight, and the setting is mind-boggling.
Sounds like a fun summer read! Thanks!
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“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith

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Re: Julie Rowe on Year of Polygamy Podcast

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The narrative history in Sapiens suggests that it was the ability of Homo Sapiens to invent fiction, including telling and revising stories about temperamental spirits, that enabled the species to cooperate in large numbers. This in turn led to Sapiens dominating the world, wiping out the other humanoid species such as Homo Solensis, Homo Denisova, and the Neanderthal.
Harari wrote: This was the key to Sapiens' success. In a one-on-one brawl, a Neanderthal would probably have beaten a Sapiens. But in a conflict of hundreds, Neanderthals could share information about the whereabouts of lions, but they probably could not tell - and revise - stories about tribal spirits. Without an ability to compose fiction, Neanderthals were unable to cooperate effectively in large numbers, nor could they adapt their social behaviour to rapidly changing challenges. (Chapter 1)
Harari wrote: Telling effective stories is not easy. The difficulty lies not in telling the story, but in convincing everyone else to believe it. Much of history revolves around this question: how does one convince millions of people to believe particular stories about gods, or nations, or limited liability companies? Yes when it succeeds, it gives Sapiens immense power, because it enables millions of strangers to cooperate and work toward common goals. (Chapter 2)
It goes without saying that belief in all sorts of spirit beings has played an important role in the development of our world.

In thinking about evolution of story telling, could a different framing of "science" be that the scientific method is nothing more than a repeatable model for telling new stories (hypothesis), convincing many others to believe it (testing) and then re-telling that story (theories) until a better one comes along (new hypothesis)?

Religions do the same thing, do they not? Revelation (hypothesis), convincing others (evangelizing) and then re-telling (scripture)... until a better hypothesis comes along (a new revelation).

So isn't the scientific method just a faster and more efficient model of what religions do, in context of bringing humans together in cooperation?

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