Blogs > Cliopatria > Thursday Notes

Sep 27, 2007 5:28 pm

Thursday Notes

Thomas Laqueur,"The Allure of the Whip," Slate, 26 September, reviews Niklaus Largier's In Praise of the Whip: A Cultural History of Arousal. It explores the history of the whip, as a means of pious self-discipline and sexual arousal. Laquer argues that in western Europe there is a transition from the former to the latter around 1700 CE, but any discussion of the whip as a means of secular punishment and the relationship of those three things is curiously missing here.

Jon Barnes,"Down the Pub, with Tolkien and C. S. Lewis," TLS, 12 September, reviews Diana Pavlac Glyer's The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. Hat tip.

Jeffrey Rosen,"The Dissenter," NYT, 23 September, features the Supreme Court's senior associate justice, 87-year-old John Paul Stevens. The leader of the Court's"left wing" says"I don't think of myself as a liberal at all .... I think as part of my general politics, I'm pretty darn conservative."

On the day that Christopher Hitchens traced all political tyranny to its religious roots, Buddhist monks led the protest demonstrations in Burma. Sober up, Hitch. Among the best sources for recent developments in Burma:

Bangkok Pundit
Burma Digest
BurmaNet News
Global Voices/Myanmar (Burma)
The Irrawaddy
ko htike's prosaic collection
Mizzima News
New Mandala
Rule of Lords
Michael Weiss,"Burmese Rage," Slate, 26 Sept.
TimesOnLine's roundup of direct links to Burmese bloggers.

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Jonathan Dresner - 9/27/2007

If you want to be technical, Buddhist do believe in gods, but they are really only beings incarnated at higher levels of existence, and they eventually suffer and die like the rest of us. They are not objects of worship (except sometimes in small ways) but the Buddha is, as are -- in the salvationist Mahayana traditions -- the "Buddhas-to-be-who-have-vowed-to-save-all-sentient-beings" Boddhisatvas.

Like I said, there is prayer and worship: how many philosophies encourage prayer and worship?

Serge Lelouche - 9/27/2007

I guess that's a better way of putting it, although if it's not theistic at all, is it really a religion?
In any event, I believe Christopher Hitchens explicitly includes only theistic religions in his attack.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/27/2007

most Buddhists describe their beliefs as a philosophy, and not actually a religion.


It may not be a theistic religion, but there's no reason why monotheism is required for worship, faith, ethical standards, tribalism or ritual practices.

Serge Lelouche - 9/27/2007

Luker's point is fair, but I think most Buddhists describe their beliefs as a philosophy, and not actually a religion.It may also be prudent to wait to see what sort of government these monks eventually establish!