[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Gregory Desilet info at gregorydesilet.com
Mon Nov 10 12:44:40 EST 2014

Carrol—you say “there is no evidence that the huge majority of Christians (or any other religion) live entirely in their heads as this [what I’ve said] suggests.”

I don’t know where you would get such a notion from anything I’ve said. Most Christians have likely never even read the Bible and pay no attention to it except, as you say, to refer to it (whether they have read it or not) when justifying actions and beliefs. But this need not be taken to mean the book and its “authorized” interpretations by the relevant hierarchy do not have a strong influence on the actions and beliefs of most Christians. The influence comes in the raising of children in a religious denomination.

In my own case, for example, I was taught from pre-school age forward by parents and nuns about how to behave and what to believe—all consistent with Catholic teachings—which are themselves taken from the dogmas of the Church, which are derived from the divine word of the Bible. I never read the Bible until I got to college and yet my beliefs and behaviors were strongly influenced by the Church’s authoritarian interpretations of its content. In fact, when I got into college, I was surprised to learn there were other ways of reading the Bible—taught to me by a Jesuit priest who had left the Catholic Church. Part of what he taught me was how to read the Bible as literature rather than divinely inspired text. He effectively liberated the text for me. But in doing so, he placed it alongside other even greater non-religious literature.

The point being that if my experience growing up in the Catholic Church is one shared by others, such people are not living in their heads through reading sacred texts. Instead, they acquire their beliefs about what is in sacred texts and the authority of such texts from childhood training or from religious parents or a spouse. In other words, the Church hierarchy may do the headwork while everyone else in the congregation generally lives, like I did, by training and unquestioned imitation. It’s the hierarchy rather than the whole population who interprets the rules and ultimately judges whether applications follow the rules or not.

As for your post of Nov. 9, I find it very cryptic. Perhaps you could spell it out for everyone, especially me, more clearly—as like 2 + 2 = 4 clearly. I am, quite seriously, often slow on the uptake. 


On Nov 8, 2014, at 11:24 AM, Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> wrote:

> Gregory Desilet: "Clarke-I take your point about the difficulties with
> drawing a distinction between interpretation of a rule and application of
> the rule. But I think in practice many religions do draw a fairly sharp
> distinction. The example you give illustrates the point.
> In Church practice, the distinction between interpretation of a rule and
> application of the rule resides in the fact that interpretation of a rule
> itself is non-negotiable and its application is negotiable only on what are
> regarded as trivial points. For example, women must cover their heads when
> in Church but how they do so has a wide latitude of observance-everything
> from a hood covering nearly the entire head to a small pillbox hat, leaving
> nearly the entire head exposed. 
> ------------
> This seems to me to be false on empirical grounds. There is simply no
> evidence that the huge majority of Christians (or any other religion) live
> entirely in their heads as this suggests.
> People form ideas explaining their experience of the world and of their
> action in the world. _Then_ they look in various texts or go to various
> people to find justification and/or clarification of what they already
> believe (both consciously and spontaneously). You are assuming the whole
> population resembles some isolated evangelical minister who has never looked
> out the window to see what is happening around him.
> There is just no necessary or even probable relationship between what people
> believe in practice and the books they read.
> Carrol
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