An excerpt from Jack Powelson, "The Political Ideology of Unprogrammed Quakers," *Religion & Liberty*, Volume 13, Number 1.

"The Religious Society of Friends seems to be comparatively a rather weak form of religion.  [Mark] Cary believes that 'Quakers basically have a religion with a niche appeal on the boundary between religion and philosophy.  Unprogrammed Quakerism has very limited appeal outside of the liberal, intellectual elites, having attracted those sorts of people overt time and thus having become even less diverse in politics.'"

Okay, Forrest Curo, what do you think??  

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Thanks, Forrest, for your comments.  I want others to know that my objection to what you wrote earlier was not intended as a personal attack on you, so much as a defense of Freud's contribution and significance.

I do make a serious effort to avoid overinterpretation of anyone's motives for hopping off in any direction he thinks I might have gone.

What's up, doc?

Sorry, Forrest!  Doctor Freud is not holding office hours these days.

Doctor! My friend thinks I'm a rabbit. Can't anybody help him?

I started reading Siggy Freud in 8th grade, Overseas School of Rome, lured by the intriguing title of the first book I came across (of his): Interpretation of Dreams. Cool, how interesting.  "What ya reading there sonny?" people would ask.  "Frood" I'd say, mispronouncing his name.  I read a lot of other stuff too as I love to browse and check stuff out.  Wandering in a good open stack library is my idea of heaven.

I suppose what I learned from Freud is what many psychology students learn from any number of teachers: that one's projections are a powerful indicator of the struggles going on within oneself.  If I'm sitting on a bus grumbling to myself how everyone seems overweight, clearly I'm fixated on the weight thing and maybe have work cut out in that respect.  Lithuania sure seemed different than the US:  fast food hadn't made such deep incursions and obesity was a relative rarity.  Startling to come back to the US, such a contrast.

Basically, look to the "beam" in your own eye (Luke 6:42 - that always seemed a weirdly translated phrase -- "plank" is just as odd) before attempting to assist others ("place the oxygen mask around your own face first").

Yes, I know Freud was a cocaine-crazed lunatic in many dimensions, eager to carve a lasting niche in history with his newfangled "psychoanalysis".  I was young enough to dream of maybe being one (a psychoanalyst) when I grew up, and read quite a few books on the discipline, before college. Was this a good career path for me?

I was also interested in advertising and techniques of mass persuasion.  Psychology was rushing into that space too (Freud an influence), giving rise to Madison Avenue (ala MAD magazine, and "Mad Men") and modern warfare.  

Thanks to motivational psych, people could manipulate others into smoking themselves to death, and goad them onto the battlefield ala 911 and #Endlesswar.  Religions make use of these same spin doctor powers. High priests get called that for a reason.  Not all spin doctoring is equally nefarious, and I decided that's what I'd become (I'm a spin doctor).

When still in Rome, my friends and I would make up commercials with a low end tape recorder (a new device back then). 

When I worked with AFSC, it was all about helping youth to gain mastery over PR tools, such as multi-track video editing, so they'd be able to actively produce media, not just passively consume it.  

Learning to watch TV (especially news) with an eye to its powers of manipulation became a lifelong passion and hobby for me, another way of seeing "nature at work".

I don't usually draw any lines between "natural" and "artificial" -- whatever humans do, however misguided, is a part of nature, including paying the costs.  In a given context the distinction might matter, but cities, to me, are obviously natural phenomena as much as coral reefs or termite mounds are.  I see God in them all.

I don't like the word "supernatural" because I consider nature to be plenty "super" and our ignorance to be plenty deep.  Smartphones would appear as purely magical devices to anyone living in Elizabethan England (assuming we could turn them on and had a tower somewhere to show them off).  

In that sense, I consider appeals to the "supernatural" unnecessary and indicative of a lack of faith, a kind of spoiled brat syndrome ("nature is not enough, I must have super nature as well!").  

I accept all phenomena as "within nature" but that's just my own namespace, how I choose to use words. Others are free to talk as they wish.  I'm not about forcing Friends to talk a certain way, and that's probably what characterizes my "liberalness" which I contrast with more authoritarian forms, always keen to impose the "right way" to think.

I also think human nature is such that "escaping from freedom" is a primary motivation in many cases. There's comfort in being part of a herd and having others give the orders.  People like to be bossed around and many like to project God as some ultimate boss.  

Again, given my background, I find a lot of childish projections hiding out in the guise of "religion" and I'm rather proud that the Religious Society of Friends is not that childish by and large.  I'm glad of the small numbers.  That makes me "elitist" I think.  

So yeah, the guy we're talking about has a point.  I'm somewhat reflective of the breed of Friend he identifies, and have no problem with there being no Quaker mega-churches.  That's cause for celebration in my book.

Kirby Urder wrote: "In that sense, I consider appeals to the 'supernatural' unnecessary and indicative of a lack of faith, a kind of spoiled brat syndrome ('nature is not enough, I must have supernature as well!').  

I accept all phenomena as 'within nature' but that's just my own namespace, how I choose to use words. Others are free to talk as they wish.  I'm not about forcing Friends to talk a certain way, and that's probably what characterizes my "liberalness" which I contrast with more authoritarian forms, always keen to impose the 'right way' to think."

I note that both Kirby and Forrest use the term "authoritarian" to describe persons and organizations who are more orthodox than they prefer, ascribing motives (at least in Kirby's case) that the more orthodox "are always keen to impose the 'right way' to think" on others.  One of the significant findings in social psychology is that an authoritarian style of thinking and acting may be found anywhere along the ideological spectrum; it is by no means an orthodox exclusive.  The "orthodox are authoritarian, and we liberals are tolerant" mentality strikes me as being very condescending.  To paraphrase that wit John McCandless; "there is no pale, and you orthodox Friends are beyond it!"

Kirby also implies that Friends who understand the "supernatural" as a sphere of reality beyond "nature" are childish; "I'm rather proud that the Religious Society of Friends is not that childish by and large."

Kirby is also happy that Friends are elitist, and shrinking in numbers; "I'm glad of the small numbers.  That makes me "elitist" I think."   In contrast, I sulk when I visit Pennsylvania and see so many empty Friends' meetinghouses!  And where there are still active meetings, they are often populated by "old grey heads," to use the expression of a Friend from New York Yearly Meeting. 

All good points, that I sound patronizing and snooty towards authoritarians.  However I did not introduce that word "orthodox" which connects to "orthonormal" in the sense of "perpendicular" or "normal" in the mathematical sense (a "normal vector" is perpendicular to the space around it, like a tree or Needle Tower).

I also agree authoritarians lurk everywhere, most especially within the ranks of scientists and mathematicians as these seem "safe" places to herd and get bossed around.  I'm often not impressed by my childish fellow liberals whining about "paranormal" phenomena.  So what if it's "para"?  I'm happy with the idea of ETs ("extra").  It's "super" in particular I find childish, as in "superhero" and "superman".  I'd be much happier with "extra-natural" in my religion, as the cream in my coffee, with the ironic double meaning of "more natural than normal".

I also said nothing about "shrinking numbers".  I'm thinking my high rise based Meetings, typically on some 47th floor or whatever, will be fruitful and multiply, starting in places such as Singapore.  I don't look to Philadelphia for leadership, any more than Washington DC, though if I had to back one of these two capitals, I think it's clear from my corpus which one I'd pick.  "Capitalism", to me (in my namespace) is the game of playing capitals off against one another, very NFL.  And by "capital" I don't mean you need to be legally the capital of some state, just a player, like PDX is.

Yes to being elitist, yes to still thinking I'm better at my job than 99% of the authoritarians.  Once in awhile I'll meet an authoritarian I can respect.  Linus Torvalds for example.  But they're few and far between.

Back to "orthodox" I will claim to being "unothodox" in the literal sense of promoting a system of four basis vectors to the corners of a tetrahedron from origin (0,0,0,0).  I actually brand this as "Quaker" in some contexts as in "known to Quakers in higher education" where we tend to be elitist and snooty, as you've pointed out ("condescending").  I find the orthodox to be proud also, of their orthonormal XYZ perpendicularity.  They boast of their "four square" dealings with people.  They enjoy their own squarehood.  That's fine for them then.  Free country.

Kirby



William F Rushby said:

Kirby Urder wrote: "In that sense, I consider appeals to the 'supernatural' unnecessary and indicative of a lack of faith, a kind of spoiled brat syndrome ('nature is not enough, I must have supernature as well!').  

I accept all phenomena as 'within nature' but that's just my own namespace, how I choose to use words. Others are free to talk as they wish.  I'm not about forcing Friends to talk a certain way, and that's probably what characterizes my "liberalness" which I contrast with more authoritarian forms, always keen to impose the 'right way' to think."

I note that both Kirby and Forrest use the term "authoritarian" to describe persons and organizations who are more orthodox than they prefer, ascribing motives (at least in Kirby's case) that the more orthodox "are always keen to impose the 'right way' to think" on others.  One of the significant findings in social psychology is that an authoritarian style of thinking and acting may be found anywhere along the ideological spectrum; it is by no means an orthodox exclusive.  The "orthodox are authoritarian, and we liberals are tolerant" mentality strikes me as being very condescending.  To paraphrase that wit John McCandless; "there is no pale, and you orthodox Friends are beyond it!"

Kirby also implies that Friends who understand the "supernatural" as a sphere of reality beyond "nature" are childish; "I'm rather proud that the Religious Society of Friends is not that childish by and large."

Kirby is also happy that Friends are elitist, and shrinking in numbers; "I'm glad of the small numbers.  That makes me "elitist" I think."   In contrast, I sulk when I visit Pennsylvania and see so many empty Friends' meetinghouses!  And where there are still active meetings, they are often populated by "old grey heads," to use the expression of a Friend from New York Yearly Meeting. 

_The History of Last Night's Dream_ (Rodger Kamenetz) won't teach you how to cloud men's minds; but may be helpful towards both a more objective look at what was happening in Freud's dreams than he himself managed, & even be some help towards unclouding one's own mind.

I think "clouding men's minds" is apropos given the comic book heaven is clouds, harps and angels.  Who invented that anyway?  New Yorker?

The Shadow learned to do it 'in the Orient'; I'm not sure where our advertisers and propagandists got the techniques, but probably they learned more actual useful methodology from practitioners like Goebbels than from theorists like Freud or Jung.

Erickson ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_H._Erickson ) apparently learned a great deal from recurring episodes of paralytic polio, which twice put him into a wheelchair, unable to do anything much but observe people. Psychologists more typically have replayed films of human reactions in slow motion, wired people up to record changes in breathing, heartbeat, electical skin resistence etc etc...

But the propagandists, I think, have relied most of all on sheer media dominance. When the only sources of information a population takes seriously are focused on a particular framework, story, context, to set the social agenda of what questions are even thinkable, what opinions to take for granted and which to dismiss as too marginal... It becomes difficult to completely avoid seeing events in that common consensual context.

In US English the word "propaganda" developed a negative Cold War spin as something bad people do, like the Nazis and Soviets.

A USer might be surprised, growing up in Rome, finding Catholics have clergy trained in the art of spreading the good news.  But then USers are notoriously ignorant, not having any Greek or Latin in their schooling, as the UKers like to remind the rest of the Anglo-speaking peanut gallery behind our backs.

However "propaganda" has more recently become "cute" to many shoppers (which is positive) with the introduction of Commie Kitsch, on some levels a backlash against the blatant and crummy PR we used to consume, somewhat a generational thing, a determination not to play Cold War quite the same way.  

The R in PR flips around, to give PЯ -- more like what I do (Commie Kitsch is a niche for me, right up there with Sherpa Chic).

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheBackwardsR
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faux_Cyrillic
http://po-ru.com/images/chinese-python-poster.jpg  (not mine; I enjoy it)

We learn from each other, and mimic each other in front of others.  You'll see this on Youtube a lot.  We'll mimic quoting Goebbels or Freud, and produce eye-rolling "we've all heard that" quotes in various meetings. One need not dig far to find a layer of cliches.

What's culturally interesting today is the speed of propaganda's spread, given Youtubers all watch each other for ideas and memes spread by tcp/ip, not a tool anyone had in the 1950s, when many Cold Warriors conditioned their reflexes.

Only fifteen years have gone by and already the 911 cover story is in tawdry tatters as far as millennials are concerned, with ad execs in their 40s openly mocking the "nursing home nazis" who piled unbelievable video compositing atop unbelievable physics atop ridiculously blatant "we found their passports at the crash site" gags.  The same sort of regurgitation process is going on as a younger generation of USers barf up what they've been force fed, deja vu and so on.

I accept that evildoers indeed use PR techniques, maybe to lure the victim home and get her drunk. We use PR when we get caught ("my sister did it").  I'm reminded of the dictum "there's science fiction, and there's nothing" meaning we have fiction with more or less science in it, and we have keeping our mouths shut.

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