1. Bearing the Cross
2. Noam Chomsky, The Challenges of 2016
3. Real Time With Bill Maher Opening Monologue May 6,
This is a Nederlog of Monday, May 9,
This is a crisis blog.
There are 3 items with 3 dotted links: Item 1
is about an article by Chris Hedges about Daniel Berrigan S.J., who
recently died, and is in part about Christianity (in which I don't
believe); item 2 is about Part 1 of an article by
Noam Chomsky, taken from his latest book; and item 3
is the opening monologue from Bill Maher of May 6, among other things
because he mentions stupidity.
In fact, there weren't many items in what I consider and call the
crisis since September 1, 2008
(in Dutch). I don't know why there isn't much today, but I did
check all the normal sites (well over 30) that I do check every day.
If you check the crisis index, you may
find (it isn't administered yet: wait till the end of May has passed)
that I wrote since September 1, 2008 more than 1200 files on
the crisis (and quite a few are quite interesting, or so I think).
These are a lot of files and a lot of text, which indeed I am not
sorry for, since I am and have been talking about everyone's
interests and chances, and I think I did that reasonably well.
Today, the present file is a bit more contemplative, and also
there may be a second file, that is not about the
crisis, but I do not yet know whether I have time for it, for I need to
do several other things today.
1. Bearing the Cross
first item is by Chris
Hedges (<-Wikipedia) on Truthdig:
This starts as follows (and the title is
I arrived early Friday morning,
after walking through the rain, at the St. Francis Xavier Church in
Greenwich Village for the funeral of the Rev. Daniel Berrigan.
I stood, the church nearly empty, at the front of the sanctuary with my
hand on the top of Dan’s rosewood casket. It was adorned with a single
red carnation and a small plaque that read: “Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan.
Born May 9, 1921. Entered S.J. August 14, 1939. Ordained June 21, 1952.
Died April 30, 2016.”
I added the link, and here will add another,
namely to his brother Philip Berrigan,
who also was a Catholic priest, who stepped out of that role and
married in his fifties, but who was a great protester against war, and
who spent more than ten years in prison because of his persistent
protests against war.
Here is some more, also with links added by me:
Dan, like his brother, Philip
Berrigan, and his close friends Dorothy Day from
the Catholic Worker Movement and Trappist monk Thomas Merton,
led a life defined by the Christian call to bear the cross. This is the
central call of the Christian life. It is one few Christians achieve.
The bearing of the cross, in Christian theology, is counterintuitive.
It says that the “the last shall be first, and the first last.” It
demands nonviolence. It holds fast to justice. It stands with the
oppressed, those who Dan’s friend, the Jesuit priest Ignacio Ellacuria,
who was murdered by the death squads in El Salvador, called “the
crucified people of history.” It binds adherents to moral law. It calls
on them to defy through acts of civil disobedience and noncompliance
with state laws, when these laws, as they often do, conflict with God’s
Of these four - the brothers Berrigan, Day
and Merton - I know most about Thomas Merton, simply because I have
read several of his books, while I did not read books by any of
the others. The books of Merton did not convince me - not at all
- of the truth of his religion or of
any religion, but I grant all four were considerable Catholic (<-
Wikipedia) activists, who also, while they remained Catholics, had a considerably
more radical vision of what it meant to be a Catholic than did the great
majority of priests and lay people in their own church, and who
based their protests and - to some extent - their personalities on
their own radical interpretations of their faith.
Indeed, while I also grant each of these four persons were probably good (in my
sense), I must admit that I find their positions somewhat paradoxical,
indeed not because of their protests, but because of their religion: I am not
a Catholic (like the Berrigans), not a Christian (like Chris
Hedges), and indeed not religious at all, for I was raised by
atheists and always remained an atheist.
Also, because I am a philosopher
(who did also read a considerable amount of religion,
some of whose writers - Augustine, Aquinas, Ockham, Scotus, for example
- I found intellectually quite impressive) I am considerably better
grounded intellectually than most, while it also is true that I am not
much into tearing down religions, and not because I don't think they
are all false
(in all human probability they are ), but
because I wasn't raised in any, and never needed to protest any.
And unlike Chris Hedges, I also do not feel it necessary to
insist as he did - "I don't believe in atheists" (as an Episcopalian,
presently also a minister) - that "I don't believe in religionists", for
there clearly are and indeed so far as we know
always have been, at least during the last 2500 years
or so, both religious believers, who somehow convinced
themselves (at least) that they will live on after they died
(and very probably much more, although here there is much
variety, for there seem to be at least 3000 different religions), and
non- religious people, who could not convince themselves they
still would be there after they had died.
I am one who says that there is no credible evidence that
one does live after one has died (which seems the essence of being religious) and no
credible evidence of how one does live after one has died
(which is the content of some
of very many different religious faiths, all of which contradict
each other in some points, and often in many points).
Also, I agree that my position does not offer any
probability of any awards nor any punishments after
one has died, which will possibly make it a bit less pleasant (lacking
the faith one
will be rewarded with 72 houris or with eternal
life in heaven), but also might make it a bit more pleasant (lacking
the faith in hell and eternal punishments).
I could say a lot more, but this Nederlog is not meant to be
long, so I carry on with the next quotation, which is about some of the
- radical but peaceful - protests the Berrigan brothers organized:
Dan—whose 50 books of poetry,
essays and Scripture commentaries, as well as his play, “The Trial of
the Catonsville Nine,” are as important a contribution as his
activism—was the bête noire of senior church officials, including the
archbishop of New York, Cardinal Francis Spellman. FBI Director J.
Edgar Hoover, who loathed the peace activists, fabricated a case
accusing the Berrigan brothers of conspiring to blow up tunnels under
federal buildings in Washington, D.C., and kidnap Richard Nixon’s
national security adviser, Henry Kissinger.
Of course, Hoover was peddling baloney and
indeed it seems - from the Wikipedia files - that the Berrigans were,
as Catholics, quite radical though
also quite peaceful.
Then there is this, which also is the last quotation I will give from
this article, which quotes Daniel Berrigan on his religious faith:
Hm, hm. Daniel Berrigan was a Jesuit,
and therefore probably quite clever (for people are selected on
intellectual ability if they want to be a Jesuit) and certainly he must
have been better read in Catholic theology than I am, but
Dan provided, for me, the most cogent
definition of religious faith.
“The good is to be done because it is
good, not because it goes somewhere,” he told me. “I believe if it is
done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don’t know where. I
don’t think the Bible grants us to know where goodness goes, what
direction, what force. I have never been seriously interested in the
outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanely and carefully and
nonviolently and let it go.”
this - in spite of what Chris Hedges says - does not
to me and
also does not seem to be Catholic.
Let me start with why it doesn't seem to be Catholic
- and see the last Wikipedia link for some items of faith that do
define Roman Catholics as different from Protestant
Christians: As far as I know genuine Catholics have
a genuine faith in specific religious claims that together are only
held by Catholics, and that comprises a lot more (in any
case, though the cases may differ considerably) than not knowing "where
Then again, I am also quite willing to agree or to concede that it is
quite difficult to agree on what it is "to be
good Catholic", and that the brothers Berrigan both lived and died as
Catholics, indeed - is my guess - with
some more faith
in some specifically Catholic theology than is given here by - the Protestant - Chris Hedges.
I end with "the good" also because while I agree with it, and agree
that there are long theological debates about what the good is and how
one should further it, I also insist that doing what is good because it
is good (rather than because it also serves further
purposes or ends that one subscribes to ) is quite
common for some atheists,
even if their good differs from the good of the Christians.
But OK... the Berrigans did a lot for peace, and were quite courageous,
and therefore I like them, even if their religious faith is not at
all mine or indeed like mine: I don't have any religion,
and never had one.
2. Noam Chomsky, The Challenges of
The second item is by
Noam Chomsky on TomDispatch:
This is in fact Part 1 in a two-part series
part will be published the next day, which is today) on Noam Chomsky's
- who is meanwhile 87 - latest book "Who Rules The World?".
I start this review with a quote from Tom Engelhardt's introduction,
that was formulated in 1966, that does conform to my own
values always, indeed to the extent that I do not
consider people with an academic education and a (somewhat) bright mind honest,
reliable, or indeed intellectuals, if they differ from the following:
“It is the responsibility of
intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies. This, at
least, may seem enough of a truism to pass without comment. Not
so, however. For the modern intellectual, it is not at all
obvious.” [Chomsky, 1966]
And fully 50 years later, "the modern
intellectual" has turned out to be, for the most part and in
considerable majority, simple traitors of this ideal of being a
good intellectual, for once having an academic
position they often endlessly insist that there is no truth,
and there are no values, except in our minds, and these are
wholly subjective and completely personal. 
I think all of them are liars, but I have to grant that in order to
show their enormous goodness and integrity to me, the Dutch academic
intellectuals have merely kicked me four times from the
university, and have at long last, when I still studied (still
ill, and again, after the third time) denied me any
chance and any right to take my M.A. in philosophy:
They kicked me out of the University of Amsterdam in 1988,
hysterically screaming at me that I
- the proletarian son and grandson of two communists who had been
heroic in the Dutch resistance - was "a dirty fascist", and denied me
the right to take the M.A. examination, even though I was ill and had been ill since
1979. Also, no one else was ever kicked from any Dutch
university since 1945 for having ideas and values of his own.
And since then the University of Amsterdam refuses to answer any
mail or any post.
I will return to this, but continue here with a quote from Chomsky:
When we ask “Who rules the world?” we
commonly adopt the standard convention that the actors in world affairs
are states, primarily the great powers, and we consider their decisions
and the relations among them. That is not wrong. But we would do well
to keep in mind that this level of abstraction can also be highly
States of course have complex internal
structures, and the choices and decisions of the political leadership
are heavily influenced by internal concentrations of power, while the
general population is often marginalized. That is true even for the
more democratic societies, and obviously for others. We cannot gain a
realistic understanding of who rules the world while ignoring the
“masters of mankind,” as Adam Smith called them: in his day, the
merchants and manufacturers of England; in ours, multinational
conglomerates, huge financial institutions, retail empires, and the
like. Still following Smith, it is also wise to attend to the “vile
maxim” to which the “masters of mankind” are dedicated: “All for
ourselves and nothing for other people” -- a doctrine known otherwise
as bitter and incessant class war, often one-sided, much to the
detriment of the people of the home country and the world.
I agree, especially with the dominant
value of the rich and the very rich:
“All for ourselves and nothing
for other people”
Also, I don't agree with "class war", but
the point is in the end logical:
men and groups can fight; classes - as
I understand them - cannot: Too abstract.
Here is the last quotation I will give:
When we consider the role of the masters
of mankind, we turn to such state policy priorities of the moment as
the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the investor-rights agreements
mislabeled “free-trade agreements” in propaganda and commentary. They
are negotiated in secret, apart from the hundreds of corporate lawyers
and lobbyists writing the crucial details. The intention is to have
them adopted in good Stalinist style with “fast track” procedures
designed to block discussion and allow only the choice of yes or no
(hence yes). The designers regularly do quite well, not surprisingly.
People are incidental, with the consequences one might anticipate.
Yes, indeed: It is in fact total or
near-total deception of the ordinary people by both most of the professional
politicians (of virtually any color or belief) and by the lawyers and
spokesmen of the rich and the very rich.
3. Real Time With Bill Maher Opening Monologue May 6, 2016
The rest is recommended but more specific.
The third item is a video by Bill Maher:
This takes 6 m 17 s. It is here - among
other reasons - because it contains this bit:
They said it wouldn't happen.
They said it couldn't happen. It happened. Donald Trump is going to be
the Republican nominee for president. You know, I have taken a lot of
crap over the years for saying this is a stupid country. I should have
trade marked it.
Besides, as the quoted bit also said, this is
very briefly after Trump got to be - it seems now, though one cannot
yet be quite certain - the presidential candidate for the
Finally, the reason why the stupidity quote is here: Because I have
the same as Bill Maher does, and have been saying so for 50 years now,
and quite possibly am the only Dutchman who dares to say so, and am
only one (1) who said so since 1966, and (2) who appealed to this as a
important factually correct principle about the mass of mankind: They
intelligent; they are not informed; and this may turn out to be very
dangerous, especially in democracies, where "the people" are free to choose who is
best to lead them.
They may be mistaken, and the consequences may be quite
horrible, for very many. As the democratic choice of
Adolf Hitler showed.
P.S. I will not produce
another Nederlog today, because it is too late. More tomorrow.
In fact, one of my - many - differences with Catholics and other
religions is that human probability generally is the best we can do and
is also all we have:
We don't know, with absolute certainty, that the
assumptions we do make (whatever they are, whatever the
evidence) are true.
We usually do not know more than that - to the extent that our
own knowledge reaches - the assumptions are more probable than not,
and sometimes (but not often outside real science i.e. physics,
chemistry or biology) considerably to very more probable
But that is it, and there is no faith to shore up
our uncertainties (which, if scientific, nevertheless often are the
best men can do).
 The conflict here (in theological terms) comes to
this: Does God
love something because it is good, or Is something good because God loves it? There is a
considerable difference (consider: God punishes men
for an infinity of time for lacking the precise faith in Him).
There is a lot of literature about this, but I reject all gods, and
believe one thinks things are good because of properties they have (or
one thinks they have) that we value, rather than that things are good
because we value them.
But this merely indicated the conflict, and does not resolve it.
 Of course, why they want to be intellectuals or academics or
learned people is a complete riddle if one believes them: What
is there to say - intellectually speaking - for anyone who is really convinced that there is no
truth and all values are purely personal and subjective?!
The answer is that such intellectuals are the complete opposites of
honest men and women: They achieved what they wanted, a
with high status and a high income, and since this was their real
end, they chatter on endlessly, but indeed have little or nothing of any
value to tell to anyone who is truly intelligent - which,
unfortunately, few are, also if degreed.