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Dumai wrote (edited )

first century palestinian jews would not have known too much about buddhism, nor would they have been very amenable to what they did know. there's a chance some small buddhist influence survived in christianity's hellenistic roots, but not much research has been done on this thesis and i'm not aware of any direct textual evidence for it, so i'd be hesitant to jump to conclusions too quickly. for the most part, right now it's conjecture. the similarities are not so major that they indicate appropriation, nor is the evidence strong enough (a few buddhist gravestones in alexandria does not prove buddhism had any impact on the christian community there).

ancient christians, jewish and gentile, would have disapproved strongly of what they saw as pagan religions, so you're going to need to do more than point to other trinitarian traditions to prove that they influenced the holy trinity. the hellinistic jewish concept of logos, alongside neoplatonist thought, have stronger evidence for direct influence (as in, we actually have ancient christian texts that refer to them directly and positively, and many others that indicate some borrowing took place). so again, the non-jewish influence on early christianity seems to mostly be hellenistic.

and just to be clear, i'm not saying christians have nothing to learn from buddhism. i actually think we have a lot to learn! i i just don't think there's much evidence buddhism had any significant influence on the early church.

How has Eastern Orthodox Christianity changed in the past few hundred years? There hasn't been any kind of reformism that I can perceive. It prides itself on maintaining that sameness.

you don't really need to outline any conscious act of reformism to show that a religion might change in the space of hundreds of years. it's impossible to preserve anything in total cultural stasis, let alone a massively diverse denomination of 250 million people in a number of different cultures. if you want one example, then take russian orthodoxy; the russian church was more politically independent as a patriarchate than it was under the holy synod, which obviously affected its doctrine regarding state, along with its identity as a community in relation to the state. those two things would undergo a profound change again after 1917, and again when stalin relaxed state atheism practices during WWII, and again under khrushchev... it goes on. historical circumstances matter a lot in religion.

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Dumai wrote (edited )

You should.

in that case what we arrive at is a plurality of post-secular, post-modern traditions... which includes, imo, how i practice quakerism in my life

It's not like the Christ's teachings were so special, they were just an appropriation, or at best an adaptation of much older religions from further East.

christianity's early influences were actually mostly jewish (obviously) and greek.

Fighting against it by trying to reform it; which I don't believe can work.

i think christianity, properly understood, is radical. please don't dismiss marginalised groups fighting against the material circumstances of their oppression just because they're doing it in a way you wouldn't. and be careful drawing too much of a comparison between religious "reformism" and liberal political reformism. george fox was technically a religious reformer, and what he helped build was a non-hierarchically organised church. he told oliver cromwell to "lay down his crown at the feet of jesus". to his face.

And I was raised Christian Orthodox, so the Christianity I'm most familiar with is the purest form there is, it's been unchanged for centuries.

that is... not actually true, literally no religion exists in stasis

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Dumai wrote

"Oh those aren't REAL christians." Yes they are. They're the vast, vast majority of christians.

which christians get closer to enacting christian love on a daily basis?

It just whitewashes all the real harm being perpetrated by Christianity everyday.

given quakers spend a lot of time elaborating what sets us apart from other christians, i don't think this is true. and i definitely wouldn't say it's true of liberation or post-colonial theology considering, you know, that's the precisely the kind of christianity they're fighting against

if christianity gets to be boiled down to "straight cisgender capitalist warmongering patriarchy" then what does that say for secularism and the secular state? i could just as easily accuse secular anarchists of "reforming" a liberal state ideology that was very close to heart of the development of the capitalist mode of production.

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Dumai wrote (edited )

not saying horrible things haven't been done in His name (quakers traditionally refer to that sort of thing as apostate christianity)

but that doesn't negate the value of His message imo, nor the important work many have done with His inspiration

i mean if you think christianity can essentially be boiled down to european colonial ambitions, tell that to the catholic liberation theologians who helped galvanise anti-imperialist movements in latin america

or black liberation/post-colonial theologians for that matter

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Dumai wrote (edited )

... no i did not learn the names of thousands of cubans in my secondary education

i nevertheless knew the fidel castro regime was marked by political executions, extrajudicial killings, and forced labour camps (that targeted, among others, gay people)

if you didn’t know that, that’s okay! but you could have fucking googled it rather than speaking down to somebody who knew better

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Dumai wrote

if you really want to know who castro killed you are perfectly capable of using google to bring yourself up to speed with basic history

please don’t patronise people b/c they don’t feel like talking you through very simple high school level knowledge

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Dumai wrote

i don’t see how any of this affects the basic argument that something isn’t necessarily neutral if it is neither wholly good nor wholly bad. even if you think technology in the abstract has some special transhistorical character, that doesn’t force it into any one of those boxes.

to the degree that ambivalence implies a lack of decidability when technology has very concrete, direct socio-political effects, i still don’t agree that “ambivalent” is a good word to use here. i appreciate that you’re abstracting away most of what tech is and does but anyway, given that you’ve already accused me of gaslighting i don’t want to stick around to find out what other rhetorical moves you have up your sleeve.

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Dumai wrote

sorry, i don’t know where the word “impartial” came from. it’s 2am, i’m running on less than 4 hours of sleep and i’ve just been accused of gaslighting by somebody who then turned around and said gaslighting “doesn’t have to be abusive” so it’s safe to say i’m not in the soundest of minds right now lol

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Dumai wrote

one sense that many people use the word gaslight is when you do something, and then claim that you didn't do that, in fact it is all in that person's head.

well... i haven't done that?

and yes i would say "gaslighting" as a form of psychological manipulation is inherently abusive. i don't see that kind of thing as a minor semantic quibble

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Dumai wrote (edited )

if you don't think technology is completely apolitical, with no effect or socio-political impact for the most part, then "neutral" is absolutely the wrong word to use in a discussion about social politics

if you don't think it only contributes to interests that are totally universal then "impartial" is also the wrong word to use

if somebody were to say that the state is an impartial/neutral institution because it could conceivably be used to enforce, say, social welfare polices that materially contribute to the economic security of the poor, would you agree with that? would you moderate your critique of the bourgeois interests at play in the modern state? including those in welfare? i feel like for an anarchist that would be impossible

just because you can, in the abstract, say that something has both good and bad effects doesn’t make it a politically neutral actor. namely because that doesn’t make it impartial. at best it gives it a kind of political plurality. i think most people understand that

aside from anything else, you said something had to be neutral if it is neither completely good nor completely bad, which is so blatantly fucking wrong i forgot to mention it because it just seems so obvious

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Dumai wrote

What you could do is perhaps 1 explain why such langauge like nuetral or ambivalent is inadaquate

i feel like i've been doing this the entire time?

2 proppose an alternative vocabulary or way of conceptualizing what i mean

all you really have to do is say that it's not an essential evil. that's not all that hard is it?

guilt trip and gaslight people who get annoyed with you be my guest?

gaslight???? do you know what gaslighting is or are you really accusing me of emotional abuse for disagreeing with your terminology??????

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Dumai wrote

well the reason i'm arguing now is because i think your logic could be used to describe almost any social institution, framework, or system as "politically neutral" or "ambivalent", and i think it's valuable to maintain a more robust political discourse

if you want to spend your whole life explaining to people how you're using terminology like this (against their popular connotations), fine, but i guess now you can't say nobody didn't warn you how tedious it is to be this vague

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Dumai wrote (edited )

So if technology is not ambivalent it is either absolutely good or absolutely bad (i played a little trick by replacing good with liberatory, bad with oppressive, but whatever is good or bad to you) I know you don't think technology is essentailly good, so i must conclude you think technology -- in every sense, whether potential or actual, is totally bad and unsalvageable.

none of this is true -- aside from anything else you have more options than "good", "bad", or "neutral". following your logic i'd be forced to say most things in the world are politically neutral, which is obviously not true

the language you use does kind of matter and i think calling technology "ambivalent" would suggest that is essentially adaptable and has only a very plain or socially passive utility. if you don't think that's true then you shouldn't really use that kind of descriptor. if you want to do that anyway, make peace with the fact that a lot of people on the left are going to respond the same way i did

you're not actually putting forth a counter argument

like what am i supposed to argue against here? that technology "in the abstract" can't be used for different purposes? and that some of these things might be desirable?