Authority, Empathy, and Power


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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7 Responses

  1. Avatar Cascadian says:

    I very much enjoyed Larison’s piece. However, I’m not sure that everyone, including the Catholic hierarchy, conceive of them as such easily interpreted/malleable sign posts. Do a bit more reading before you capitulate. I’ve got to get going now. I’ll try to provide you with some citations later tonight.Report

  2. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Well I do think that there are fundamentalists within the Catholic or Orthodox Church as well who adhere much too strictly to the dogma and act in a more fundamentalist manner.

    This is why we have such different visions for the Catholic Church between John Paul and Benedict, two men with obvious differences in their approach to dogma. But thanks, and I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on the matter…Report

  3. Avatar Paul Vonharnish says:

    Perhaps the simplest way to clear up the interpretation would be to consider the term: Fund – a – mental. In other words: Fund the associated cost of implementing the idea. This can be done in a number of ways, both physical and metaphysical, but will always include some form of bondage to the proposed ideation or concept. When payment to this bond is refused, the ‘mental’ matrix considers it’s ‘self’ under some form of threat- as if survival of the ideation is reliant upon outside support… Fundamentalist thinking is generally a rather weak and insipid matrix, as it is reliant upon some mutual effect, which may not include a generalized or wholly inclusive concept.Report

  4. Avatar Cascadian says:

    “This is why we have such different visions for the Catholic Church between John Paul and Benedict, two men with obvious differences in their approach to dogma.”

    That should give you enough right there. Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster, and a number of other dictionary sources agree that it’s basically a tenet forwarded as true that has little evidence backing it up.

    I personally, like Larison’s take on it, but as you have stated yourself, this is hardly a universal understanding of the term. I think what Larison misses is that you allowed for religious folk to be, in your terms, cultural conservatives. Larrison’s piece puts himself well in this camp. He’s religious but he’s not without an understanding of broader contexts and history. He can only say that dogma, under one reading, can be included in this camp. That’s fine and interesting but doesn’t really detract from your initial post/point.

    Helen is a completely different kettle of fish.Report

  5. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Good point. As someone else remarked to me on the subject, I used dogma as a sort of colloquialism which spoke to a broader audience, whereas Larison responded with a lecture in theology. So this begs the question, at what point are generalizations actually necessary to communicate without bogging down one’s argument with too much specificity? I argue above for more specificity to avoid generalizations, but at the same time, such simplification can be essential in communication to avoid the pitfall of simply too much information, or too much depth, that it becomes lost on those who you may need to communicate with. Striking rhetorical balance can be a trick, no doubt about it…Report

  6. Avatar Bob says:

    Cascadian is exactly right. In your selection from Larison he says, “I assume Kain uses dogmatic here to mean inflexible or uncompromising, but this does not take into account the inherent flexibility and minimalism of dogma.”

    Well that definition, “inflexable” and “uncompromiing” is standard American usage of the word. It is not shocking that you would the word as understood.

    The only reason to quote that passage is to refute it, but you fall into the Larison can do no wrong trap so common on the web. Larison is not infallible.

    And this, immediately preceding, grates, “…fundamentalists are to some extent the terrible simplifiers of rich dogmatic traditions.” I could almost buy this thought if his construction was somewhat different, maybe this, “…fundamentalists are to some extent terrible simplifiers of the rich traditions found in dogma.” When he writes “rich dogmatic traditions” the only conceivable definition of “rich” is laughable. That’s rich Mr. Larison!Report