I saw about ten people in NYC on the A train this weekend who claimed to be the "true Jews." One of them told me that their beliefs include: (1) no conversion is accepted and (2) the people I'm used to thinking of as Jews are actually a Turkic tribe that tried to convert in the 8th century A.D. (but see (1) of course). Notably, all of them were extremely large black men (one of them had to duck to get off the train) wearing dark robes, headbands and head cloths, and carrying shoulder-height wooden sticks wrapped in black tape. Their shirts and headbands had hexagonal stars on them, and one of them had a few letters of Hebrew written on his head cloth. They were having this free-wheeling discussion from which I recognized several references to events in the Old Testament. Weirdly enough, the guy sitting next to me told me they were actually some kind of Muslim, although I don't know how much I trust that guy's opinion. Does anyone know what religion these people were from? posted by d. z. wang at 8:45 AM - 11 answers
It's been a long time since my philosophy courses in college, and none of the ones I took had a focus on ethics. In the back of my mind I've been wondering if anyone has explored whether there is a disconnect between morality + ethics on the one hand and right action on the other. (Right action is meant in the plain language sense--I don't recall if it's a term of the art or not, but I suspect it is.) [more inside] posted by jsturgill at 9:01 AM - 10 answers
Alan Watts, in some of his lectures, tells stories of the experiences of Zen teachers and their students- a sort of mystic, mythic history from ages past. Are there books of these sorts of legends? [more inside] posted by drd at 9:29 PM - 9 answers
Kid BlahLaLa's getting to be around bar mitzvah age and I want to know what alternative, newfangled options there are out there. Is there any kind of modern bar mitzvah movement happening? Alternative bar mitzvahs? Hipster bar mitzvahs? [more inside] posted by BlahLaLa at 9:52 AM - 21 answers
Do you have a poem, quotation, or mantra you read each morning that puts things in perspective, and inspires you? I'm looking for one to help with motivation when waking up each morning. So far no luck. [more inside] posted by ratherbethedevil at 7:30 PM - 20 answers
I am an agnostic that really likes the calming effect of prayer, but am totally not interested in the monotheism or taking organized religion very seriously in general. Do you have prayer advice for me, and what sort of agnostic or polytheistic prayers (or meditative practices) do you take part in? Resources and recommendations are welcomed! [more inside] posted by Hawk V at 8:15 AM - 20 answers
Which edition of Paradise Lost is best for a beginner? I'm reading the poem for the first time, and for own entertainment / education rather than as a class assignment.
Any recommendations as to the best edition for someone new to the poem? Or just your own favorite? Thanks. posted by typer126 at 5:26 PM - 6 answers
So, I've been trying to hash out my philosophic and intangible beliefs and I realized that the only thing I really, truly connect with in a belief sense is Nothing, the dark. To be clear, I don't mean this melodramatically, I simply mean this in the sense that I find the fact that when I close my eyes at night that the idea that, as Roger Ebert put it, "I was perfectly content before I was born" comes to mind. That there is more that does not exist in this world than does. From John Locke (blank slate ideas) to Nietzche and religion, can you good people point me very broadly in the direction of thoughts on the nothing that surrounds us? Thanks! posted by sendai sleep master at 11:28 AM - 15 answers
I'm looking to collect as many specific examples as I can, of instances in which specific Republican/conservative behaviors and/or political moves have directly contradicted the teachings of Christ. Some specific examples within. [more inside] posted by jbickers at 3:18 PM - 21 answers
I've lately been thinking a lot about the notion that "dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return," in that nothing we humans do in our relatively short lifespans makes a "dent" in the universe. Or why it would even matter if it did make said dent -- after all, why not just live in the now? Why do we continue as a people?
I quite enjoy life. But as a young person, when I look at the years in front of me, I often wonder why it is that I am not a hedonist, or why as a society we do not crumble to hedonism when the cosmos will be practically indifferent to our toil on this planet.
It's hard for me to even articulate, but I feel a weight upon my shoulders that comes from unanswered questions of our existence. Can anyone clarify for me what I am wondering about, and then further recommend some reading on the subject? Surely the philosophers must have analyzed these gnawing feelings for hundreds of year, but I don't know what to look for.
Thank you. posted by saperlipopette at 10:22 PM - 15 answers
I've been asked by a friend of mine who is a marriage officiant to translate his marriage ceremony speech into English, and I have a question about wording. In a secular marriage, can you say "joined together in matrimony", or do you have to say "joined together in marriage"? [more inside] posted by gkhan at 1:08 PM - 7 answers
I am struggling to remember or find a line from what I think was a work of philosophy, something like:"at the heart [center] of every system [of belief | of thought | world-construct] is a secret [hidden] trangression [contradiction | inversion | denial]" [more inside] posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:20 PM - 14 answers
Within the past year or two (approx.), there was a book published that laid out (in a somewhat light-hearted, abbreviated manner, for mass market) many various imaginings from religion, folklore, etc., of what life after death may be like. Can anyone recall it for me? posted by mmiddle at 7:47 AM - 5 answers