Sunday, October 23, 2005

Heresy and Absurdity - Happy Birthday Universe!

Another good sermon today by Dr. Davidson Loehr. He is one of my personal heroes, he delivers some rather radical sermons and prides himself on being a heretic. He has, in fact, published a new book called "America, Fascism and God - Sermons from a Heretical Preacher". His sermon on Fascism from last year became reasonably well-known. Our church's sermons are published online here, I've Googled that sermon and found it posted in a number of places, including Al-Jazeera! (well, it's the property of the world now, just like any other published speech.) Davidson is the pastor of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, and has just won the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin Award for best minister.

Take our Word and Wikipedia concur on the origin of the word "heretic", and Davidson has said several times that because all of us choose "to choose" rather than just "to follow", it makes all of us heretics. (EDIT: the context of "us" meaning present company, people hearing the sermon, UUs, etc.)
Middle English took this from the French hérétique, which took it from the Ecclesiastical Latin haereticus, both words meaning heretic. The original word was the Greek hairetikos "able to choose" from the verb hairesthai "to choose". Obviously, the early Church believed that people should believe only what they were told to believe rather than decide for themselves.
Anyway, in today's sermon, he mentioned that today, October 23, 2005, is the 6006th birthday of the universe. That would be according to Bishop Ussher who figured it all out in 1650 A.D., basing his calculations on his interpretation of the Bible, and many believers in Creationism or Intelligent Design or whatever they want to call it are taking it to heart.

He also mentioned a nice quote by Voltaire:
"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

Always something to think about...

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Anonymous said...

This and other sites have helped me confirm that the word Heretic ruffly means "one who chooses". I wonder, is there an equivalant word for "One who accepts?" Basicly, looking for the lanquistic opposite of the word heretic.

Blueberry said...

I'm not sure if "accept" is the opposite of "choose". It seems to me that the opposite of "heretic" would be the word meaning "one who believes what he or she is told without questioning it", but then I am certainly no linguistic or etymological expert, that's for sure. The slang word for it is "sheep". And Anonymous, don't be a stranger!

Anonymous said...

I'm not so much sure that it is linquisticly opposite, but I have often found myself disagreeing with linquistics and technicalities. This is the price of being a rogue philosopher I supose. Accept might not be an exact opposite to choice, probably because there are no exact opposites in the world, such perfect balances are illusianary. However, to ends I am seeking, I am wondering if there is a root greek word for acceptance, or "one who accepts". I am a writter, and I am considering a story in which a sociaty once labeled as Heretic's for their questioning ways becomes dominant, and labels in a slang fashion a rising few who simply accept what they are told, much as they were labeled. So for that I was looking for a title with similar origins to the word Heretic, but for a nearly oppostite personality type.