The Preface:

I want to be subversive. I want to undermine. I want to transform. I want to lead.

Maybe it was all the stories of my youth about the prophets that were to rise up in the last days and bring about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Maybe it was the prospect of becoming one of the missionaries that brought religion to the God-less Commies. Maybe it was the belief that there would be “one, mighty and strong” in the last days, besides Joseph Smith that has subsequently given rise to countless fundamentalist sects. Maybe it was all those days tracting in a foreign land and in a foreign tongue. Maybe it was the belief in personal revelation. Maybe I shouldn’t have read Machiavelli. Maybe it was the belief that the Glory of God was Intelligence, or in other words, light and truth.

So I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning wanting to proselytize and subvert, but I have no congregation and no following. I have only words, so I’m writing to who?

Why is it that the crazy’s always have a Manifesto? Am I a Ted Kazinsky (Unabomber) or a Brian David Mitchell (Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapper)? Or do the sane have Manifestos, too? Were Marx and Engels sane when they put forth the Communist Manifesto? How about Andre Breton’s Surrealist Manifestos? The whole idea of a Manifesto seems to suggest at least a bit of un-hingedness – like standing on the chair and jumping up and down and saying “Damn It Everyone! Listen to ME!”

The Manifesto’s Thirteen Articles of Manifestment

1. We believe we have no clue about God.

2. We believe that we aren’t quite sure how to define sin.

3. We believe in the metaphoric, but not the literal, significance of the Atonement, i.e. death and resurrection; life and crucifixion.

4. We believe all is trumped by compassion and empathy, regardless of what you believe.

5. We believe in personal freedom and expression.

6. We believe that the organization of the Internet – chaotic and shattered – is a simulacrum of life and we believe we should do our part to put as much of Humpty Dumpty back together again as is humanely possible.

7. We believe that in proving contraries truth is made manifest or in more modern digital terms, organizing the digital 1's and 0's of binary code, we can create everything, pro- and anti-, yes and no, black and white and it is all still 1's and 0's.

8. We believe in the power of ongoing discussion to refine, change and improve things.
No Manifesto.
No Constitution.
No Bible.
No Book.
No pronouncement.
No punctuation or sentence structure requirement.
No word.
Nothing is written in stone.

9. We believe that everything can and should be questioned.

10. We believe that only on rare occasions can a belief be attacked head on. We believe that if you want to change a person’s belief structure you must start from the fundamental contradiction of that belief and patiently attack that point, arguing from the familiar and foundational to be truly effective and prod along the differentiation.

11. We believe that belief structures can be ranked in a hierarchy, based on the extent of the belief structures ability to be inclusive.

12. We believe that we should be active politically and in our communities to bring about the changes required by abiding by the Manifestments.

13. We believe in being honest, true, benevolent, and in doing good to all people; indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul ( for the most part) – We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

The Conclusion

Growth means adding, becoming more inclusive. Rigid belief structures are rife with contradictions on the most fundamental levels. Exploring the contradictions in one’s own belief structure opens new horizons and understanding. Humility insures an openness to change of belief. Arrogant certitude insures a steadiness of belief. In the middle of the humble and the arrogant, resides the transformative truth.

We are to be our own Savior. We bask in the paradise of our ignorance. We agonize in the Gethsemane of our contradictions. We crucify ourselves over our mistakes. We are resurrected to an improved more integrated existence in which the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life have intertwined a few more of their roots.

And we start the process all over again.

Views: 65

Comment by MikeUtah on November 2, 2008 at 9:55am
Nice blog. Very well thought out and opined. Glad to have a sermon that plays to my new convictions to read while my wife is off at church!
Comment by Roth on November 2, 2008 at 10:46am
And I say this in the name of Micah the Christ and Creator,

Thank you.
Comment by Measure - Reddit Patriarch on November 2, 2008 at 9:59pm
I would change #1 to "God is irrelevant"

Some of us (like me) are atheist, some are still believers. But I think we can agree from a ex or post mormon standpoint, that using God as a club to beat others into submission is wrong. I would take the extreme and step back from that, meaning we aren't allowed to use the concept of "God" as a social motivator.

Individual beliefs are fine, I guess another way of saying this is that God should be recognized as a hypothetical, instead of an actual being... unless you have evidence to show otherwise...
Comment by Roth on November 3, 2008 at 8:10am
Actually, I was thinking about the first Article and I think it was a bit too exclusionary -- as is "God is irrelevant."

I would propose that the first Article should instead be as follows:

1. We believe that the belief in God is subjective (and absent objective proof), the only choice is to allow people their subjective beliefs, realizing that is all it is --- a belief.

I like that because it is a wonderfully twisted and ironic sentence -- We believe in belief but that doesn't mean we really believe, does it?
Comment by Measure - Reddit Patriarch on November 3, 2008 at 9:59am
Some beliefs are dangerous, for example, a belief that all blacks are inferior, can seem tame to an individual believer, but on a large scale, leads to atrocities. Therefore, I would only allow belief to a certain extent. That extent ends, for me, at the point where "irrational belief" meaning, belief in things that cannot be proven, is shared with others. We have a tendancy to present our beliefs, even irrational ones, as truth.

So how do we stop dangerous beliefs from becoming accepted?

I say, "irrational beliefs", in which I include God, should not be allowed to shape public policy. Or group policy. Therefore, God is Irrelevant.

Again, personal irrational belief is fine, but keep it to yourself.
Comment by Measure - Reddit Patriarch on November 3, 2008 at 1:46pm
I stand overruled. I tried to bring up a logical line of thinking as to why I don't particularly like the first point in the manifesto, or the way it is currently worded.

I think it's obvious from your response that I didn't do a good job making that case.

I'll live with that.

And yeah, I am open to the criticism of turning my argument around on me.

All I'm tying to do is apply the manifesto logic into different areas. What if we applied it to public policy? What if we applied it to group policy? What level do I think personal belief needs to be cut off from serious discourse?

I'll quit this conversation if you think I'm taking it too seriously, though. I wasn't really trying to do more than debate a point.
Comment by Measure - Reddit Patriarch on November 3, 2008 at 4:12pm
Better than the original, but to wordy. I prefer irrelevant because it gets the point across in the fewest words.
Comment by Roth on November 3, 2008 at 8:50pm
I love the dialogue on how the Manifesto should be worded. It is exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of with Manifestment #8. The power of the changes can be evaluated best by looking at how they stack up against Mainfestment #11 on how belief structures can be ranked. The best "belief structure" is one that includes both God and no god, because as a hypothesis it applies to more of the human condition.

I think that is why I said that I agreed that we need to change the first Mainfestment. Irrelevance, however, is inaccurate. God is certainly relevant, even if God doesn't exist. If you are dealing with Muslim terrorists who believe Allah wants you dead, God is certainly relevant. If you are interacting with your true believing Mormon family, God is relevant.

Remember the goal is to be subversive, too challenge the status quo by allowing people to have their beliefs and then undermine those beliefs with subtle erosive side attacks, rather than brute force argument. If you are coping with a relevant, but non-existent God, what is the best course of action? Alienating the believer by attacking the belief directly or by allowing the belief, but challenging it with sincere questions and inquiry?

So in dealing with God, I think that JA was closer to the mark -- we don't have a clue about God or the lack thereof. I want something too to point out that this subjective belief that isn't susceptible to objective proof and until there is concrete evidence otherwise, God remains unknowable.

I would therefore propose yet another alternate #1:

We believe objective proof of God is lacking and we therefore have no clue about God or the lack of god.

Wordy, but hey, I'm a wordy guy.

I believe it meets the criteria for being the most inclusive.

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