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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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Basically often on here I find people assuming I mean culture when I say religion. The two are in my mind entirely distinct but that distinction is not coming through. So I was hoping to make this thread to hammer it out.

I'll start.

1. Religion can be an aspect of culture although it does not have to be in the sense that for example a culture can have a variety of religions and a religion may exist in a variety of cultures.

2. Religions strongly interact with their cultural milieu.

So, again I do think of religions as defined by actions not necessarily or rather not generally by beliefs.

Culture includes laws/customs, food, dance, observances, language and so on, Judaism does mostly cover all of this to varying degrees by that is precisely because among Jewishly educated Jews Judaism is considered not to be a religion. It is precisely the body of laws, customs, and observances common to the Jewish people both throughout the Jewish people as a whole and within its major communities. There are aspects of Jewish culture which are not part of what others or less educated Jews would regard as part of the religion but they are notoriously difficult to pin down.

So let's instead start with Classical Greece and Rome. The arts, literature, and theater were all intertwined with religion. Politics was too. Philosophy was the intellectual outgrowth of religion. So what exactly should we regard as Greek religion and Greek culture? Bear in mind that any abstract noun in the Greek language was considered a minor deity, and the same was true of Latin.

I feel like the difference is what supposedly a judge said about pornography-- something one may not be able to precisely define but which one knows when one sees it.
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fairly good summary, but you hit on one of my favorite moment of laws, so want to dump some detail :D

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobellis_v._Ohio
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I'm not good with these semantic discussions... so just a simply question (and sticking to modern Israel since its more familiar to me than ancient Greece).

If I walk around Mea Shearim and then walk around the beaches of Tel Aviv, I see vastly different cultures. So what unites those people, if not religion?
 
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Are you seeing posters confuse religion / culture in regards to only judaism/jewish culture, or others as well?
 
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aesthetocyst wrote:
Are you seeing posters confuse religion / culture in regards to only judaism/jewish culture, or others as well?


Moshe's specific position is very unusual to most people on RSP, and nobody here is really qualified to tell whether his positions are representative or not.

A good way to look at discussions like this is talking about his (very interesting/thought-provoking) positioon.
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At the very least, religion seems to me to be a specific part of culture. I.e. not all culture is religious, but religion should be seen as being a cultural aspect.

So trying to conceptualise them so they are completely distinct seem to me to be heading in the wrong direction.
 
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whac3 wrote:
[Culture and religion] are in my mind entirely distinct[...]

2. Religions strongly interact with their cultural milieu.


(Emphasis mine.)

These two points are contradictory in my opinion. If two things are distinct, they should not interact with each other. Especially not strongly.

(This is somewhat academic as everything is connected. But there are certainly things that interact more or less.)
 
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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EMBison wrote:
I'm not good with these semantic discussions... so just a simply question (and sticking to modern Israel since its more familiar to me than ancient Greece).

If I walk around Mea Shearim and then walk around the beaches of Tel Aviv, I see vastly different cultures. So what unites those people, if not religion?

Jews are a majority here and the dominant culture but not all Israelis are Jews. If you are speaking of just the Jews, we refer to ourselves as a tribe and as a people. What unites Germans, Japanese people, or Navajo?
 
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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emptyset wrote:
whac3 wrote:
[Culture and religion] are in my mind entirely distinct[...]

2. Religions strongly interact with their cultural milieu.


(Emphasis mine.)

These two points are contradictory in my opinion. If two things are distinct, they should not interact with each other. Especially not strongly.

(This is somewhat academic as everything is connected. But there are certainly things that interact more or less.)

Okay, good point. They are distinct but not entirely so.
 
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so if part of my belief is god ordered me to cut your heart out in his namefor his glory then that's religion but otherwise I'm culturally just a killer?
 
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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growlley wrote:
so if part of my belief is god ordered me to cut your heart out in his namefor his glory then that's religion but otherwise I'm culturally just a killer?

What are you on about?
 
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windsagio wrote:
aesthetocyst wrote:
Are you seeing posters confuse religion / culture in regards to only judaism/jewish culture, or others as well?


Moshe's specific position is very unusual to most people on RSP, and nobody here is really qualified to tell whether his positions are representative or not.

A good way to look at discussions like this is talking about his (very interesting/thought-provoking) positioon.


I was asking about his observations, and hoping for elaboration. SO, yeah, talking about his position.

Thus the use of the second person singular "you", rather than the second-person plural ... "y'all"

(Southern American isn't often more precise than other dialects, but when it is, it is!)
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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aesthetocyst wrote:
Are you seeing posters confuse religion / culture in regards to only judaism/jewish culture, or others as well?

I'd say that it's at the core of discussions like where I consider Xmas inherently religious but some claim it is not.
 
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whac3 wrote:
I'd say that it's at the core of discussions like where I consider Xmas inherently religious but some claim it is not.


Christmas is probably a very good case study. It obviously started off as a religious holiday, but now I would claim that it's more of a cultural holiday.

I've celebrated Christmas for over 30 years with my family and not once has there been mention of Christianity. Not even with my old school religious Italian grandma. But maybe that's a cultural thing for some of the Western European countries.

(In some families, there are songs sung and most of them are of religious origin, but I've never felt like it was an overly Christian thing. If it were up to me I'd have "Last Christmas" blasting from the speakers.)

(Oh, and one time, when I turned my head there was a gun on the table, so some Texans would probably consider this Christian and/or patriotic.)
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Just trying to think of the distinction between religion and culture for a wide variety of societies in different parts of the world.

What about different funeral practices? Are funerals loosely defined as "religious" distinct from atheistically-slanted funerals?
 
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windsagio wrote:


Moshe's specific position is very unusual to most people on RSP, and nobody here is really qualified to tell whether his positions are representative or not.

A good way to look at discussions like this is talking about his (very interesting/thought-provoking) positioon.


I'm kinda qualified (Even though my family haven't practised for several generations I'm Jewish according to halachah and keep a foot in the fringes of communal politics).

Moshe's views certainly aren't in any way fringe in the Jewish community. There's certain issues I don't think fit snugly into his framework, but I'm not sure they'd make sense to anybody without a good grounding in Jewish history. (Stuff like the debate around Yiddish vs Hebrew which I suspect would be utterly esoteric to most people on here).
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whac3 wrote:
growlley wrote:
so if part of my belief is god ordered me to cut your heart out in his namefor his glory then that's religion but otherwise I'm culturally just a killer?

What are you on about?


I'd say it's a really good example of how someone can call themselves an atheist and still be culturally Christian through and through...
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whac3 wrote:
aesthetocyst wrote:
Are you seeing posters confuse religion / culture in regards to only judaism/jewish culture, or others as well?

I'd say that it's at the core of discussions like where I consider Xmas inherently religious but some claim it is not.


Yep but earlier you said "Culture includes laws/customs, food, dance, observances, language and so on, Judaism does mostly cover all of this to varying degrees by that is precisely because among Jewishly educated Jews Judaism is considered not to be a religion"

For most people Christmas is just customs (the tree, decorations, cards, present giving), music and food (including alcohol) too there is nothing inherently religious about it.
 
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andyl wrote:
whac3 wrote:
aesthetocyst wrote:
Are you seeing posters confuse religion / culture in regards to only judaism/jewish culture, or others as well?

I'd say that it's at the core of discussions like where I consider Xmas inherently religious but some claim it is not.


Yep but earlier you said "Culture includes laws/customs, food, dance, observances, language and so on, Judaism does mostly cover all of this to varying degrees by that is precisely because among Jewishly educated Jews Judaism is considered not to be a religion"

For most people Christmas is just customs (the tree, decorations, cards, present giving), music and food (including alcohol) too there is nothing inherently religious about it.


Not sure if it's most, but it's certainly many. That if course applies to the UK. Other places obviously vary.
 
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andyl wrote:


Yep but earlier you said "Culture includes laws/customs, food, dance, observances, language and so on, Judaism does mostly cover all of this to varying degrees by that is precisely because among Jewishly educated Jews Judaism is considered not to be a religion"

For most people Christmas is just customs (the tree, decorations, cards, present giving), music and food (including alcohol) too there is nothing inherently religious about it.


I'm not Moshe. I don't even play him on television. But I'd see it like this.

As a Jewish agnostic I don't follow Judaism but there's still shared history, shared values, certain ways of looking at the world that my heritage gives me. And without Judaism the religon those things wouldn't exist.

In the same way, Christmas isn't a religous holiday per se these days. But it fits into a wider pattern of "cultural Christianity" that influences most of the west; history, literature etc. would have been entirely different without the influence of Christianity.
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whac3 wrote:
growlley wrote:
so if part of my belief is god ordered me to cut your heart out in his namefor his glory then that's religion but otherwise I'm culturally just a killer?

What are you on about?


"Culture includes laws/customs, food, dance, observances, language and so on, Judaism does mostly cover all of this to varying degrees by that is precisely because among Jewishly educated Jews Judaism is considered not to be a religion."


or it's religious when we want need it to be otherwise it's culture.
 
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Moshe Callen
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
andyl wrote:


Yep but earlier you said "Culture includes laws/customs, food, dance, observances, language and so on, Judaism does mostly cover all of this to varying degrees by that is precisely because among Jewishly educated Jews Judaism is considered not to be a religion"

For most people Christmas is just customs (the tree, decorations, cards, present giving), music and food (including alcohol) too there is nothing inherently religious about it.


I'm not Moshe. I don't even play him on television. But I'd see it like this.

As a Jewish agnostic I don't follow Judaism but there's still shared history, shared values, certain ways of looking at the world that my heritage gives me. And without Judaism the religion those things wouldn't exist.

In the same way, Christmas isn't a religious holiday per se these days. But it fits into a wider pattern of "cultural Christianity" that influences most of the west; history, literature etc. would have been entirely different without the influence of Christianity.

Also let me emphasize that Abiezer Coppe is from what he says from a Jewish perspective just as much as Jew in every way as I am.
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
whac3 wrote:
growlley wrote:
so if part of my belief is god ordered me to cut your heart out in his namefor his glory then that's religion but otherwise I'm culturally just a killer?

What are you on about?


I'd say it's a really good example of how someone can call themselves an atheist and still be culturally Christian through and through...



or how how about 'These borders because god said so.', as a counter example?
 
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Christmas ... wasn't expecting that twist.

Well, the leading leading bizarro newsfotainment mouthpiece in the states refers to squabbles over christmas as part of a 'culture war'.

It certainly is a big date on the holy calendar of the Disorganized Congregation of the Wholly Unrepentant Consumerists, tho.

I'd say each observant holds the nature of their christmas in their own heart, however they (mis)understand it.

I do hope it's a truly religious affair, somewhere.
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whac3 wrote:
So, again I do think of religions as defined by actions not necessarily or rather not generally by beliefs.

whac3 wrote:
Okay, good point. They are distinct but not entirely so.

As I see it, there are three partially distinct but deeply entangled phenomena in play here: culture, religion, and ideology regarding the nature of such phenomena. Your pointing out that there are different viewpoints falls under the third of these as I see it.

As a culturally christian (protestant) atheist since childhood, I have grown up with the ideology that religion is mainly about belief. Like you, I reject this notion, but it is more or less a tenet of protestant religion. This imbalance makes discussion on the subject tricky, as each of the three strands may make claims on subjects which participants from another background see as clearly in the domain of one of the others.

Marriage is an example of this. Christianity claims this as a religious sacrament, though the instituition of marriage clearly predates any form of this religion, and very few christians refrain from using the term “marriage” for unions of this type in other religions or cultures. Yet the christian church has fought against the idea of secular marriages ever since it arrived here in Scandinavia, at least.

My view of christmas (or rather yule) seems to differ from yours in that I see it as parallel to marriage in this regard. I see it as a set of traditions with ultimately pragmatic roots (communal gatherings and feasting at a time when there were few agricultural tasks that could be performed, when the lack of daylight prevented the manpower to be spent on crafts instead, and when significant quantities of food would risk being spoilt if not consumed). Religious significance would of course get attached to such traditions, and partially transform them. With the arrival of christianity, and its choice to appropriate the tradition rather than repressing it (which would possibly be futile as its pragmatic raison d’être still remained), further transforming aspects of it, and adding new elements. With the secularisation of the society, a small but not entirely insignificnt number of christians have distanced themselves from christmas celebrations due to its pagan roots and surviving elements, while the parallel choice is vanishingly rare among the non-religious despite the purported religious aspect of it.

Every year, pundits here trot out the old “the real meaning of christmas”, why we “really” celebrate easter and so on. The reason for this propaganda is obviously that religion is losing its ideological grip on the power to define the meaning of traditions; and the need for this reveals that these were never religious in any deep sense.


whac3 wrote:
Basically often on here I find people assuming I mean culture when I say religion. The two are in my mind entirely distinct but that distinction is not coming through. So I was hoping to make this thread to hammer it out.

[...]

I feel like the difference is what supposedly a judge said about pornography-- something one may not be able to precisely define but which one knows when one sees it.

I think this analogy is apt, but does not advance your goal very much: just as what is regarded as porn by some may be considered art by others, and something as neutral, innocent and inconsequential as not warranting a term at all by yet others; whether to regards something as religion of not does not arise from objective and testable properties of that something, but on the observer’s background, prejudices and ideology.
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