Monday, December 28, 2009

In Light of the Comments

In light of the comments, I want to write about sectarianism.

Sectarianism is a focus on specific or special forms of identification factors. Universalism, on the other hand, is a focus on a generalized or common trait.

Sectarians separate themselves due to offense to specified behaviors or beliefs that they think are heretical. Sectarians separate to maintain their identity and define themselves as "special" or "set apart" or "holy". But, they limit their understanding of themselves in real ways and in real terms of a human being. Thus, labels are good for defining these behaviors or beliefs and creating a "false sense" of protection and distance from "evil" and "the world".

Sectarians define things in black and white terms. They do not like or think in bridging the gaps, thinking in shades of grey, because they fear stepping over a forbidden boundary. These are religious ways of understanding oneself and can be damning in developing a self identity.

What sectarians don't know is that all boundaries are made by men, even when they are in texts or define the boundaries of a culture. Cultrues are defined by social norms, and values. The "human" way of looking at things is to identify with another as a "person", a human being. Then, relationship is more about mutual commonality, than in differences.


Sabio Lantz said...

Universalist (pluralism at least) is the best form of religious belief (if you have to have one) !

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I agree with you. Humanism is not a distinct religious tradition. But, the conservative religious understand humanism as "secular" because they want to distinguish themselves among men.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Where do you stand that you get to define who is sectarian? Rather arrogant on your part, don't you think?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Sectarian means that someone separated because of some offense, or belief that the mainstream could not agree on. So, who is arrogant? That depends on one's position and place and prejuidice.

The formation of the Church was within the Jewish tradition, which IS a humane or humanistically inclined tradition. Christians were separatists, so to speak. And ever since the Reformation, Christians have divided over one or another issue.

The Puritans came to our U.S.A. to found what they deemed "god's commonwealth". They did this in reaction to what they considered a defamation of their faith. Even the Anglican Church separated from the Catholic Church due to the King's desire to divorce....

So, arrogant, when there have been so many divisions in all faiths, that it dizzys one's head....

So, who's got the truth? This is what creates religious wars, and conflicts and why our Founders did not want to establish a religious State...although they did want to give religious freedom to individual consciences....

Allan R. Bevere said...

Angie, I just continued to be amazed at the simplistic account of Christianity you continue to give.

So the next question is, where do you stand that you get to decide what is "mainstream?" That is arrogant as well.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

"Mainstream" is status quo, social norm or common values. Reformers or revolutionaries are the ones that bring about change. But, one must ask at what costs?

The problem I believe today, is globalization where every claim has a right. Therefore, any minority has a right, irregardless of how they have behaved. So criminals can have more rights than the average citizen. And the poor are now the ones who will be the "empowered". The middle class will foot the bill for everyone else's right...

Therefore, though I agree that we are diverse and that one's view of reality will depend on many factors, our nation must protect the liberties of ALL and not give special priviledge. Justice is to be blind to any difference.

Allan R. Bevere said...

So why should the status quo be considered mainstream? That just sounds like a beourgouis ethic that keeps the same people in power while the poor have to just fend for themselves.

You still have not answered why your view should be considered mainstream. It sounds very provincial to me.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I don't think change is good or bad, but change must not change certain standards that have protected our nation's value of freedom and justice for all.

I really don't care if the view I tout sounds provincial or not. I think the religious conservatives are provincial, while the liberal is radical, socially. The challenge is to maintain a stable society where there will not be riots, revolutions and revolts, because of such a diverse climate.

The nature of the changes we see today are disturbing to the conservative because the conservative wants to maintain social values that protect what they deem to be important. The foundation is the family.

The progressive or liberal wants to bring about change socially and or morally, thinking that change can bring about a more Utopian society. Whether one believes in Chardin's Omega Point, Wesley's postmillinialism, "the Kingdom of God" or some other type of futuristic "vision", one cannot dismiss that Utopian values have never "worked". History has borne out that men will kill if their Utopian "dreams" are diminished or delayed by those that "see" things differently.

This is why we must value diversity, and allow people to "make their own way", or "find their own place". We cannot and must not do something for others, that they can do for themselves! Responsiblity is undermined by socialized goals and visions.

Allan R. Bevere said...


True, utopian dreams have caused tyranny, but so does your view of maintaining the status quo. "I got mine now, you try to get your later."

I have now figured out why you have take such issue with Christianity-- Jesus was not into maintaining the status quo. He was killed by those persons like you who wanted everything to remain the same.

Sabio Lantz said...

I'd wager that Allan and Angie agree that:

(1) Liberty needs to be protected

(2) Simply being the majority does not make something right

(3) Generalizing all Christians to be the same is wrong

(4) Communicating on blogs is tough


Angie Van De Merwe said...

No, we just differ as to how we see or understand the purpose of the law. My view values the personal...what is protected by the Ten Commandments, while your view is a monistic view of the purpose of the law, to provide for the poor.

You literalize Scripture as much as the supernaturalistic fundamentalists do, but you do your literalizing of the text in Statist views of social engineering..the supernaturalist keeps the pie in the sky vision for Utopia by literalizing Revelation, or eschatological hope...

And I wouldn't have killed Jesus, because I do believe he had a right to do what he did. But, he did not have a right to demand others do what he did, nor does anyone else.

Allan R. Bevere said...

Angie, one final comment and then I am done.

You say I have a monist view of the law-- not true.

Your understanding of "literalizing" is simplistic and not very deep intellectually, as is most of your analysis always is.

"Jesus did not have a right to demand anything of others." What he demanded was justice and truth-telling, and while he commended his way to others, he did not force it on anymone. If you had even a basic knowledge of the Gospels, you would know that.

Your tyranny may not be the tyranny of religion, but it is the tyranny of the individual and the status quo secular state.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Justice and truth-telling for the outsider. And we all know that the "outside" and "inside" is defined by one's "in-group", which the Church is.

As to the 'secular" state, that is a "in-group" separatist view on the sacred and secular.

I am trying to inform myself better, and you may know more than I, but that doesn't count in my book, as much as truth-telling, etc.

But, I am still glad that you tried to engage me...

Allan R. Bevere said...


Please explain what you mean that justice and truth are for the outsider?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

In our nation, there are religious sects that discriminate based upon their own values. These denominational boundaries draw their lines narrowly, more narrowly than a nation state.

Therefore, justice for the outsider is what our nation stands for. We don't allow discriminatory behavior toward citizens in regards to race, religion, or sex. We believe in equal opportunity when it comes to jobs, education, etc.

We also believe that one is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We believe in a trial by jury where people are not shunned because of the rumor mill.

These standards are also in the "universal human rights declaration". And there should be no priviledged race, religion or sex. Some sects seek a special priviledge or regard for their religious tradition. But, any compromise, compromises the values and dignity of the individual human being.

Truth-telling to the outsider is why a boundary is drawn. What is the importance of the boundary, etc.But, because the sect narrowly defines itself based on their understanding of "higher values", they must not be defended, when it comes to mainstream values of human rights, as religions can and do oppress.

Allan R. Bevere said...


You and I define our terminology so differently and our views are so conceptually different, it is no wonder we simply talk past each other.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

We talk past each other, because you are "within" traditional Christendom. And you view things with "the truth of Scripture" and "Church tradition" as your bias.

But, those that want to use their own reason (not saying you are not reasonable) will come to different commitments, because of their "beginning". Your starting point is in faith, mine in reason (at least this is my attempt).

I don't think that starting in reason is inappropriate for 'people of faith". These will just be agnostic when it comes to faith concerns, as their commitment is the world of "science" in the disciplines, trying to understand humans, and the world by use of investigation, and observation.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Your last comment just demonstrated my point.

And you can't see it.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I am assuming that my last paragraph is what you are referencing.

People of faith, some believe, have to begin and end with God, Scripture or the Church, but this is not necessarily so. People that begin and end with faith in God as defined by human sources, such as Scripture or Tradition are relying on human authorities. God and the Church has to be defined, so it begs the questions as to whose view, or faith is going to predominate.

On the other hand, reason can be held as a means to understand all of what is, which people of faith would understand as "God's". This would embrace "all truth as God's truth" so it would not separate the sacred and the secular. And it would begin and end with the individual as God's "Imageo Dei".

Because the view combines the sacred and secular, there must be faith in "what is", so that people can perform whatever they do, as 'unto God". This is why it is important to affirm individuality and diversity in life choice, value and purpose. There can be no universalization, in the sense of purpose, because faith allows a democracy where it concerns life issues.

And as to government, it is representative and democratic, as ours is, because the ideals are humane and not authoritarian. Therefore, one cannot begin adn end with God, faith, or the Church, but with reason, knowing that all that is, is because of choosing to believe that it a part of a created order...this way, there is no distinction in approach to life for the atheist or the believer.

The atheist would adhere to their being developed fully as a human being, and the believer would choose to say they were developed according to God's image...etc. I prefer to leave off the religious language..

Allan R. Bevere said...

You just demonstrated my point again. Oy vay!

I hope you have a great new year!