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Hymn of thanks to Holy Joe - Comments

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins

It has the same cadences as the Lord's Prayer.

Richard

Sat, 28 May 2011 22:07:11 UTC | #631881

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 2 by Richard Dawkins

Once again, commenting mysteriously switched itself off, apparently not before I had made my comment. Apologies for what is looking like a bug in the system. Commenting now restored.

Sun, 29 May 2011 09:18:35 UTC | #631998

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 3 by the great teapot

No comment.

Sun, 29 May 2011 09:28:18 UTC | #632000

PaulinSydney's Avatar Comment 4 by PaulinSydney

While I don't doubt the lengths various Communist dictators went (and, in certain cases, still go) to promote their cults of personalities (my favourite is still Saparmurat Niyazov aka Turkmenbashi, although I do cherish the memory of seeing nightclub go-go girls dressed as Red Guards dancing seductively to the words of the long-dead Chairman Mao), I cannot help thinking that perhaps the religious overtones of this particular piece are unfairly amplified by the cod-King James translation. It might (and I stress might) sound a little less over-the-top delusional if it were translated in a more modern style.

Sun, 29 May 2011 10:19:03 UTC | #632012

CFM's Avatar Comment 5 by CFM

No surprise there.

What fascinates me when reading similar German poems and hyms addressed to and praising Hitler (there exist whole books of them) is that he is presented in the terms of being a (demi-)god himself - in metaphors and similes often directly taken from the Christian tradition - and, at the same time, as send by god (presumably the Christian one).

In Stalinism and Maoism, the second kind of personality cult, in which the dictators are presented as doing "Gods work", seems to be lacking, but, in a way, they are also presented as people who are enacting a certain kind of (inevitable) historical teleology.

Add to that the fact that these people often wrote and write books or poems themselves which were and are in many cases treated as holy scripture..Hitlers Mein Kampf and the "Mao bible" are well-known, but Mussolinis and Stalins, Gaddafis and Husseins, Kim Il-sungs and Niyazovs works are less often mentioned.

For those who understand German, here a few examples taken from Dem Führer, Worte deutscher Dichter ...zum Geburtstag des Führers, 1941, Tornisterschrift des Okerkommandos der Wehrmacht. Abt. Inland -- Hft. 37. This was among the literature handed out to German soldiers:

"Der Erwählte bedarf nicht der Wahl; Er führt schon von Anfang. Seht, schon ist er die Mitte der Welt! Seine Schrift ist aus Sternen, Und die Ewigen sehn Wie aus Augen voll Glanz auf den Ihren."

(Erna Blaas, p. 17)

I will try to translate this: "The chosen one does not need to be elected, he leads from the beginning. See, he is the middle of the world already! His writing is made of stars, and the eternal ones look upon him with eyes full of brightness as one of their own".

"FÜHRE UNS! Führe uns! In deinen Händen Liegt das Schicksal von Millionen, Die in deinem Herzen wohnen, Denen du ein Glaube bist. — Gott hat dir die Kraft gegeben, Einzig deinem Volk zu leben, Das für dich der Pulsschlag ist!"

(Leopold von Schenkendorf, p. 21)

"Lead us! Lead us! In your hands is the fate of millions, who live inside your heart, for whom you are a faith - God gave you the power to live for your folk/ people/nation alone, which is the beat of your pulse!"

"Täglich hämmert ihn Gott, der ihn als Opfer erkor und zum Retter berief, reiner und härter, bis keine Versuchung, kein Lockruf ihn mehr berührt."

(Johannes Linke, p. 28)

"He is daily hammered by God, who chose him as a sacrifice and called him to be a saviour, pure and hard, until no temptation, no call touches him".

As with the poem in the original post above, one wonders why people did not burst out laughing reading these lines. And the religious overtones are obvious. I wonder how anybody who has read these poems, or indeed the books written by Nazi ideologists themselves, can still present Nazism as an atheistic ideology.

Sun, 29 May 2011 10:56:02 UTC | #632028

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 6 by SomersetJohn

Britain's favourite(?) hymn is, I believe, "Oh God, How Great Thou Art" which to my ears is a non stop repetition of that line ad nauseum. Any supposed superior being which finds that vomit inducing tuneless verbal excrement pleasing is to my mind not worthy of any respect whatsoever.

If there were a god I would happily play that rubbish to him, through headphones to protect my sanity, non stop. See how he likes them apples!

Sun, 29 May 2011 11:45:28 UTC | #632041

PaulinSydney's Avatar Comment 7 by PaulinSydney

Did I mention the words of Chairman Mao were being sung by a louche lounge singer to a disco beat? Personality cults are not what they used to be.

Sun, 29 May 2011 11:47:41 UTC | #632043

hitchens_jnr's Avatar Comment 8 by hitchens_jnr

Reminds me of the kleitic hymns of Classical Greece - a long recitation of the titles, attributes and powers of the god in question. Why change a winning formula, eh?

Sun, 29 May 2011 17:43:58 UTC | #632129

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 9 by Mr DArcy

Has Britain got a poet who would do this for Cameron and Clegg? Simply Red and Billy Bragg did their bit for the Labour Party in musical ways, but somehow poets are so much more profound, mainly I suspect, because no-one understands them!

Sun, 29 May 2011 18:33:19 UTC | #632146

perkyjay's Avatar Comment 10 by perkyjay

@6:SomersetJohn: I can't remember where I saw it, but there is a wonderful Monty Python skit, in which Michael Palin uses the hymn you mention to heap ridicule on the "almighty". Can anyone give me a link - it must be available on YouTube somewhere.

Sun, 29 May 2011 19:12:38 UTC | #632153

CFM's Avatar Comment 11 by CFM

@ comment 10 by perkyjay

Do you mean this part od The Meaning of Life, from 0:45 onwards?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fINh4SsOyBw

Sun, 29 May 2011 19:47:38 UTC | #632157

Tord M's Avatar Comment 12 by Tord M

If it hadn't been for the Communist Party's return to atheism after his death, Big Brother Starlin would perhaps have gone down in history as the last prophet and founder of another world religion, like his predecessor, the bloodthirsty warlord and false prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him). His comrade The Eternal President of the Democratic People's Republic, Generalissimo Kim Il-sung seems to have accomplished it in North Korea.

Sun, 29 May 2011 20:22:46 UTC | #632167

El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 13 by El Bastardo

So there's a pattern in how humans suck up. Not news really.

All despots like Stalin or Kim Jong Il put themselves on a pedestal and demand worship, of course they'll imitate that which came before, the platitudes offered to Jehovah, Allah, Wotan, and so on, just a repeating pattern.

Monty Python hit the nail on the head in The Meaning Of Life.

Sun, 29 May 2011 20:42:33 UTC | #632170

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 14 by ZenDruid

The only advantage that comes with a human assuming total authority, or playing God, is that the human will die.

Sun, 29 May 2011 22:24:12 UTC | #632193

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 15 by Richard Dawkins

I can't remember where I saw it, but there is a wonderful Monty Python skit, in which Michael Palin uses the hymn you mention to heap ridicule on the "almighty". Can anyone give me a link - it must be available on YouTube somewhere.

You may be thinking of the school chapel scene in The Meaning of Life:-

Chaplain: Let us praise God. Oh Lord...

Congregation: Oh Lord...

Chaplain: Oooh you are so big...

Congregation: Oooh you are so big...

Chaplain: So absolutely huge.

Congregation: So ab - solutely huge.

Chaplain: Gosh, we're all really impressed down here I can tell you.

Congregation: Gosh, we're all really impressed down here I can tell you.

Chaplain: Forgive Us, O Lord, for this dreadful toadying.

Congregation: And barefaced flattery.

Chaplain: But you are so strong and, well, just so super.

Congregation: Fan - tastic.

Sun, 29 May 2011 23:35:06 UTC | #632200

Bipedal Primate's Avatar Comment 16 by Bipedal Primate

I was just thinking about that very Michael Palin performance yesterday for some reason. One for the ages. The Meaning of Life is way too underrated, in my opinion.

Mon, 30 May 2011 01:28:05 UTC | #632219

Bipedal Primate's Avatar Comment 17 by Bipedal Primate

And on another slightly less unrelated note: I was just contemplating the similarities between communism and religion while watching the first episode of Discovery Channel's 'Superswarms' before I opened this thread. And I notice that these are the kinds of coincidences that makes my own superstitious agency detectors tingle. Some Invisible Something is guiding my path between events. No, I don't actually believe that but my brains tendency to celebrate patterns is... I don' know... somewhat annoying.

Mon, 30 May 2011 01:45:21 UTC | #632222

Joseph K.'s Avatar Comment 18 by Joseph K.

Comment 6 by SomersetJohn :

Britain's favourite(?) hymn is, I believe, "Oh God, How Great Thou Art" which to my ears is a non stop repetition of that line ad nauseum. Any supposed superior being which finds that vomit inducing tuneless verbal excrement pleasing is to my mind not worthy of any respect whatsoever. If there were a god I would happily play that rubbish to him, through headphones to protect my sanity, non stop. See how he likes them apples!

Oh? And what kind of music do you like?

Mon, 30 May 2011 18:37:10 UTC | #632432

Joseph K.'s Avatar Comment 19 by Joseph K.

If you have read a reputable biography of Stalin you will know he was first sent to a religious school as a boy by his mother. He went on to seminary, like many other non-believers, as the Seminary in Georgia at the time was a sure way to preferment, including admission to prestigious universities in Moscow.

In seminary, he increasingly rebelled against the rules, was disciplined for disobedience, and later didn't even bother to take the final examinations. Another student in the same seminary murdered the rector.

If instead of getting involved with Marxism and revolutionary activity, Stalin had believed the teachings of the seminary and devoted himself to an ecclesiastical career, wouldn't he have been much better off?

It was not his religion, but his rejection of religion, that opened the door to his atheist cruelties.

That he, like Hitler, tried to put himself in the place of God, does not reflect on the teachings of Christ in any way.

Mon, 30 May 2011 19:03:29 UTC | #632439

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 20 by Steve Zara

How often do we hear from faith-supporters that Stalin was an atheist. This is probably supposed to prove that atheism is a danger to the world. The rationalist response is usually that Stalin's wickedness was nothing to do with his atheism.

But let's concede their point, to see where it gets us. Let's concede, for the sake of argument, that Stalin was a wicked atheist. His atheism led him to commit terrible atrocities and so on.

How is this supposed to help the cause of religion? It doesn't. Not one bit. Not in any way. It's not a good argument in support of religion. Indeed, it puts religion in a very poor situation.

Russia was and is a very religious country. Then, along came an atheist. One atheist. Called Stalin. And banned religion. One atheist banned religion and led others to commit atrocities, leaving millions dead. One atheist. I know it seems something of an exaggeration to say that one atheist did all this, but it's not my exaggeration, it's the argument made by supporters of faith. It's their argument that the beliefs held by one man resulted in all that horror.

So we know have a new myth, a religious myth. The myth of the Almighty Atheist. Let just one atheist loose in the right situation, and we will all suffer!

It gets worse for the church. What protection did the churches provide against this tyranny? None at all. By their own argument, the faith of millions of believers was impotent against one man's atheism.

How, then, is Stalin's Atheism supposed to be any kind of argument for the power of the church to resist wickedness? If we are supposed to learn from history, then what we should learn is to avoid using religion as a defense against tyranny because it's utterly useless, and it teaches that one man's atheism is enough to take over much of the world.

Mon, 30 May 2011 19:28:33 UTC | #632443

Anvil's Avatar Comment 21 by Anvil

Comment 19 by Joseph K.

If you have read a reputable biography of Stalin you will know (...)

It was not his religion, but his rejection of religion, that opened the door to his atheist cruelties.

Would that be the reputable biography which attests to his Atheist cruelties? Still, at least we can now rest contented that Uncle Joe is screaming, forever, in a lake of fire. That'll teach him for being so cruel!

That he, like Hitler, tried to put himself in the place of God, does not reflect on the teachings of Christ in any way.

Well, possibly, but it does show what tends to happen when we create gods of any kind. Doesn't it.

Anvil.

Mon, 30 May 2011 19:50:20 UTC | #632447

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 22 by Mr DArcy

Steve Z has a telling point:

Russia was and is a very religious country. Then, along came an atheist. One atheist. Called Stalin. And banned religion. One atheist banned religion and led others to commit atrocities, leaving millions dead. One atheist. I know it seems something of an exaggeration to say that one atheist did all this, but it's not my exaggeration, it's the argument made by supporters of faith. It's their argument that the beliefs held by one man resulted in all that horror.

One atheist did all that? Well hardly, which was why Stalin had to constantly monitor his control over political power using terror to control and eliminate any he considered to be opponents. This included his army officers and anyone else felt to be threatening. All of the original prominent Bolsheviks of 1917 'disappeared' or were eliminated during Stalin's reign, including Trotsky, murdered in Mexico. Like Hitler's holocaust, Stalin's reign of terror was carried out by baptised Christians.

The impotence of the church to prevent 'evil' is time and again proven. The fact that Stalin asked the church to pray for the war effort during WW2, was probably more a way of getting them onside than any belief in prayer on his part. Nationalism above religion always! The massacre of so many Christians by other Christians on what, we call, the eastern front, during WW2, meant that God had deserted them or was fighting for both sides. I have read estimates that on the Russian side there were at least 20 million deaths because of the war. I'm not sure of the German losses but they were substantial too. Either way, where was God? Nowhere as usual.

Mon, 30 May 2011 21:30:11 UTC | #632462

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 23 by Steve Zara

Like Hitler's holocaust, Stalin's reign of terror was carried out by baptised Christians.

And there we have it. That's the true rebuttal to the "Stalin and Hitler were atheist" argument. Whatever they were, Stalin and Hitler would have achieved nothing without the support of baptised and practicing Christians. Nothing.

Faith neither provides the power to stop tyranny, nor the moral fibre to resist tyranny's bidding.

Mon, 30 May 2011 21:46:56 UTC | #632465

Joseph K.'s Avatar Comment 24 by Joseph K.

Britain's favourite(?) hymn is, I believe, "Oh God, How Great Thou Art" which to my ears is a non stop repetition of that line ad nauseum. Any supposed superior being which finds that vomit inducing tuneless verbal excrement pleasing is to my mind not worthy of any respect whatsoever. If there were a god I would happily play that rubbish to him, through headphones to protect my sanity, non stop. See how he likes them apples!

No response to my question to SomersetJohn. Of course, if someone said the music he liked was tuneless verbal excrement he would probably tune them out as a hopeless idiot unworthy of consideration.

If there is no God, the song is meaningless, but if there is a God then it has to be viewed in a different light. Personally, I think it is a good song, as far as the lyrics go. The melody not be much, but even ordinary people are allowed to write songs. We can't all be Beethovens.

And I would like to know what kind of music this fellow likes - Beethoven? Madonna? Kenny G?

By the way, can someone give me an atheist song extolling the wonders of the creation? lets compare them. But wait - can it be that there are no songs extolling creation from an atheist point of view? Why not. You needn't mention John Lnnon's "Imagine" by the way (which ranks right up there with "I want to Hold your hand." It does not extol the wonders of creation.

Thu, 02 Jun 2011 06:51:54 UTC | #633134

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 25 by ZenDruid

By the way, can someone give me an atheist song extolling the wonders of the creation? lets compare them. But wait - can it be that there are no songs extolling creation from an atheist point of view? Why not. You needn't mention John Lnnon's "Imagine" by the way (which ranks right up there with "I want to Hold your hand." It does not extol the wonders of creation.

Monty Python.

Thu, 02 Jun 2011 06:57:53 UTC | #633135

Joseph K.'s Avatar Comment 26 by Joseph K.

We often hear about the religious aspects of Stalin's rule, which are used to exonerate him from atheism. But, if a clever atheist finds that borrowing some techniques from religion helps to consolidate his rule and increase his power, does he thereby cease to be an atheist.

But, never mind about Stalin? What about Lenin. Lenin did not initiate a cult of personality. I have never heard of him being accused of having religious features to his rule - and he is still admired to this day by some atheists (Christopher Hitchens has spoken favorably of him - according to the quote in his brother's book Rage Against God anyway).

Lenin was an open, clear, undeniable atheist, who openly proclaimed his beliefs - yet, he was also a devious, lying, cruel, vicious, despotic mass murderer who stifled Russia's fledgling democracy because he knew what was best for the people. He advocated and used terror to imprison and murder people who conflicted with his private vision, and was nothing but a tyrant. He was especially crule in his persecution of Christians.

These are all udeniable historical facts, well known to the world. If you want to deny them, don't look for a response from me. Yet, the man was an atheist.

This does not prove that all atheists are bad - nor does it prove that there is a God. It does show that not all atheists are calm, fair, rational, people. News flash - atheists are people too, and as such are liable to the full range of human errors (I almost said "sins"), including cruelty and lying.

Thu, 02 Jun 2011 07:02:57 UTC | #633136

Joseph K.'s Avatar Comment 27 by Joseph K.

Comment 23 by Steve Zara :

Like Hitler's holocaust, Stalin's reign of terror was carried out by baptised Christians.

And there we have it. That's the true rebuttal to the "Stalin and Hitler were atheist" argument. Whatever they were, Stalin and Hitler would have achieved nothing without the support of baptised and practicing Christians. Nothing. Faith neither provides the power to stop tyranny, nor the moral fibre to resist tyranny's bidding.

They were baptised as infants, but when they grew up decided that the Bible was a book of outdated Jewish myths, that people were only animals engaged in a pitiless truggle for survival in which traditional ethics were meaningless.

If you think being a Christian means being baptized as an infant without your knowledge and consent (the bible says "Believe, and be baptized") but then acting later as an adult in ways that are completely contrary to all of the teachings of Christ, then I have toinform you you do not know what Christianity is.

Thu, 02 Jun 2011 07:06:33 UTC | #633137

Joseph K.'s Avatar Comment 28 by Joseph K.

Comment 25 by ZenDruid :

By the way, can someone give me an atheist song extolling the wonders of the creation? lets compare them. But wait - can it be that there are no songs extolling creation from an atheist point of view? Why not. You needn't mention John Lnnon's "Imagine" by the way (which ranks right up there with "I want to Hold your hand." It does not extol the wonders of creation.

Monty Python.

I asked can you give me an atheist song. If you can give it I would be glad to see it. "Monty Python" is not an answer. I thought you people were supposed to be so rational.

Thu, 02 Jun 2011 07:10:04 UTC | #633140

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 29 by Mr DArcy

Joseph K:

And I would like to know what kind of music this fellow likes - Beethoven? Madonna? Kenny G?

Which fellow are you talking about? Personally I like a range of music including classical, jazz, folk and rock. You ask for an atheist anthem, well I don't know of one. So what? Does this mean something in your God fearin' outlook? Or perhaps you feel that music means nothing to non-believers?

Thu, 02 Jun 2011 20:58:29 UTC | #633464

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 30 by Mr DArcy

Joseph K:

Lenin was an open, clear, undeniable atheist, who openly proclaimed his beliefs - yet, he was also a devious, lying, cruel, vicious, despotic mass murderer who stifled Russia's fledgling democracy because he knew what was best for the people. He advocated and used terror to imprison and murder people who conflicted with his private vision, and was nothing but a tyrant. He was especially crule in his persecution of Christians.

Well yes, Lenin was a fairly typical would be / actual capitalist politician. Yes he seized power from Kerensky, but capitalism continued to develop in Russia even though largely controlled by the state, of which Lenin became leader. Workers still worked for wages, and a privileged class still lived off their efforts. Don't forget in 1917 most of the Russian population were illiterate, innumerate and consisted of peasants. What Lenin's or Stalin's religious beliefs or lack of them have to do with anything, you will have to explain. The particular slant of anti Christianity adopted by Lenin and Stalin, was no doubt connected with the absolute power of the Tsars and their absolute acceptance of Christianity.

Thu, 02 Jun 2011 21:17:02 UTC | #633471