[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Stan Lindsay slindsa at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 29 12:12:43 EDT 2014

I think we are, to use Burke's terminology, arriving at closer and closer approximations.  I don't mind the religion vs. philosophy distinction Greg makes.  But I would apply some sort of Toulminian qualifier to much of this.  Clearly, Evangelical Christians (those who believe in an entirely inspired and 100% infallible Old and New Testament, including those "evangelical Presbyterian groups" Ed mentions) could be categorized as those who make the following claim:  "The Bible is DEFINITELY inerrant/inspired."   There are other groups--perhaps what Ed calls "mainline" who might claim:  "The Bible is SUBSTANTIALLY inspired."  There are those who claim that the Bible is PARTIALLY inspired--wishing to back off of certain texts.  Even Luther did not accept the Book of James.  Some biblical scholars debate what is Pauline (written by the apostle) and pseudoPauline (only claims to be written by the apostle.  And, there are some outright unbelievers who still
 like to study the Bible.  More on this later.  I have to teach a class, now.
Dr. Stan A. Lindsay, Ph.D. 
Teaching Professor 
Professional Communication 
College of Applied Studies 
Florida State University 
slindsay at pc.fsu.edu 

On Tuesday, October 28, 2014 11:32 PM, Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com> wrote:

I find myself in agreement with much of what Ed
and Stan say, but I also sense that it only obliquely addresses the issue I’ve
raised. When Ed says, “You can’t paint everybody with a broad brush,” I assume
by “everybody” he means every “religious” person. But the issue I’m addressing
concerns instead the notion that the term “religion” may be getting painted
with too broad a brush. 
The use of any given term, when expanded too
widely, becomes too thin to convey useful meaning. Accordingly, I’m arguing
that for all practical purposes the distinction between philosophy and religion
largely collapses when religious texts are no longer treated as “sacred” in the
sense I’ve indicated—namely, when the source of a text is not viewed as
divinely dictated or inspired. When a religious text becomes a text composed
and written by a “mere” human, it shifts into a very different category than
when it is considered “sacred.” Groups who approach religious texts in this
fashion cannot be significantly distinguished from groups who gather to
interpret, study, discuss, and learn from philosophical texts (such as the
Great Books discussion groups popular in the 50s and 60s). Indeed, I would
challenge anyone following this discussion to propose a significant distinction
between these “religious” and “philosophical” groups aside from the circumstance
that one may meet in a church and the other may meet in a library or conference
I understand that a great variety exists among
those who happen to call themselves “religious” or who claim to belong to a “religious
tradition.” But if such persons who claim religious alignment AND also claim
their relevant religious texts are NOT divinely inspired cannot significantly
distinguish their activity from what philosophers do with their particular
texts of interest, then I do not find the label “religious” compellingly useful
in such cases. More likely the label in these cases could be rightly understood
as misleading. In these cases, what would someone who says “this is my
religion” mean that could set it apart from the one who says, “this is my
So I acknowledge there are many folks who
approach what have traditionally been called “religious” texts in the
interpretive rather than received manner, but I see nothing thereby that
necessitates the label “religious” be applied to such folks other than that
their texts have been previously called “religious.” Applying the label in such
cases would perhaps be analogous to continuing to call a bright light in the
morning sky the Morning Star after it has been discovered to be the planet
In sum, if the term “religion” retains primary
connection to views and practices oriented toward the approach to texts as
divine inspiration, then the metaphysical connection between religion and
fascism retains a measure of accuracy whereby fascism becomes a distortion of
religion by way of a shift into the political realm with more implications for
the here and now than an afterlife.
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