Re: virus: High and Low Traditions
Mon, 23 Oct 95 13:31:01 -0500

>> What about funerals, weddings,
>>and various ceremonies? These things are not rational,
>>but they have very important memetic effects and purposes.

>In what way are these rituals irrational?

I guess I need to phrase more carefully. 'Arational' might be a better
word. Consider marriage. The contractual part is of course
rational, but the religious ceremony is an attempt at celebrating
and proclaiming an emotional bond within a community. It has grown out of the
way preliterate societies confirmed such bonds, which led in
one direction to the modern concept of contracts, and in another
perhaps to modern notions of romantic love.

I know there are atheist wedding ceremonies, funerals, and such
but are they ever used by a _community_ of atheists?

>>And what about those seeking ecstatic religion? It's a
>>powerful hook. Can ecstatic mystical states be approached

>Could you elaborate on "ecstatic religions"? I'm not familiar
>with the phrase.

I have been to Assemblies of God services, for example. The people were nice
to me, though it is strange for someone like me. Some people seek a trance-like
state of prayer, and have highly emotional (cathartic?) confessions, etc.
I have never seen 'speaking in tounges' but it is not uncommon. Granted I
believe these are caused by brain states, but it is a 'high' many
people seek, and serves important functions in the community, I think
having to do with binding up and release of emotions among those
who feel powerless or inhibited.

Tantric Hinduism and Buddhism used sexual ecstacy as an approach to
the divine, to give another example, though these ceremonies were
usually more private. There are lots of New Agers trying this again.

>>I guess my question is how can a mailing list be a religious
>>community? And is anyone moving towards a less "abstract"
>>religion. Virus seems top-heavy with the high tradition.

>I guess my implicit strategy was to derive the social manifestations
>of Virus from the philosophy once the latter is more fully developed.
>But I'd be quite interested to hear arguments for different approaches.

I once read a characterization of religions as 'Apollonian' and 'Dionysian'.
Apollonian is 'high church' -- rational, philosophic, the divine harmonies, etc.
Dionysian is ecstatic -- revelry, passionate preaching, dancing, even ritual
sex. Have you noticed how prone the very emotional media preachers are
to sexual mistakes? Modern American fundamentalism is an outgrowth of
the tension between the very Apollonian strain of 18th century protestantism
and the passions of the backwoods frontiersmen. Their holding fast to
a literal Bible is partly an attempt at maintaining a simple sort of rationality,
as well as a defense against rationality's threat to their power structure.

My point is that as evolved beings, we have to recognize that our minds
are _not_ naturally wholly 'rational' and that religion often provides
important concrete social functions. I have sought community of belief
(or of doubt), and though I enjoy mailing lists, I don't think they
fit the bill.