Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Researching Theology. Scientific Theology: The Method to the Texts

Researching Theology.
A Manual. Methodology.
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Scientific Theology in a Time of Elections
Candidate Claims, Biblical Political Positions
Multi-tasker Approach
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Scientific theology applies the scientific method to beliefs:  observe the stated belief; measure its components against texts and evolution of meaning; follow the money; develop a theory as to connection (if any) between belief and texts; consider role of culture-promotion in the belief rather than the text as its foundation.  And experiment:  what other words would have to have been used in the texts, in order to support the belief.  See http://www.experiment-resources.com/what-is-the-scientific-method.html
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Scientific method and theology -- observation, measurement,  theory, testing, repeat, conclude, test again, revise. Science even now is looking at "real" beginnings, see http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/science/space/cosmologists-try-to-explain-a-universe-springing-from-nothing.html?scp=1&sq=more%20to%20nothing&st=cse.  That interferes not at all with tracking the figurative, the interpretations cultures give to their own stories. If those interpretations go too far, however, religion stops and simple people-jockeying result. Is that so? So, check out what they say about religion:  Text based, and if not, on what.  We want to know so we can decide what to do.
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1. Vet Areas of public policy.
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For example, should religious institutions be exempt from all secular laws.  Do any texts support that? If not, track the evolution of the idea. Ask: Are religious institutions engaged in secular commercial activity.  Do they receive taxpayer dollars.  Does that that change the picture about exemption from secular laws.  See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/health/policy/growth-of-catholic-hospitals-may-limit-access-to-reproductive-care.html?scp=1&sq=catholic%20hospitals&st=cse
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2.  Vet Areas of private belief. Researching any area of belief political and religious.
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For example, how trustworthy are our assumptions?  See analysis of concepts surrounding mankind, roles, divine intent, or "man", as central and supreme in creation; and similar topics, following the formula of several open windows dealing with texts, lexicons of words used, translations, transliterations.
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  • Junior High, Middle School students excel at this kind of research.  It does not require a program or software.  All the tools are online.  It is a multi-tasker's delight. 
  • Teach your child to test out theology. Come back from church and start looking things up.  It is a matter of hand-over-hand, toe-hold climbing up the Rocks of Ages. Looking up, not down.
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3.  Religious Assertion Fact Check; statements in Public Life
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What someone says in church can stay in church, despite past practice to demonize a candidate for what clergy said. See http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/us/politics/01obama.html?scp=9&sq=obamas%20leave%20home%20parish&st=cse.
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If the candidate himself, however, makes a theological claim on the stump, fair game on vetting the theological claim.  Fact Check. Texts, grounding, all of it.
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  • See this area as another giant step toward transparency, accountability.  There are commercial speech-parallels to requiring time, place and manner restrictions on speech -- where a product is being sold, apply the tests.  A religion is being sold here, in speeches of candidates. Is religion now a commercial venture?  Institutions have made themselves so.  Commerce and religion:  bounds blur. So then do exemptions.

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Must the religious hawkers when speaking in the public forum be under similar restrictions, as the car salesmen:  no fraudulent misrepresentation, FDA truth in experiments rules, etc.  Blurred religion and commerce require that.  Where time is not of the essence, get out more speech to counter the misrepresentations, the misleading half-truths. Where time is of the essence, there has to be a faster corrective.
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4.  Promote Vetting in an age of Bought Elections
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Proposal:
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A qualified, neutral Halo-filled FactCheck shall check, according to scientific method of original text analysis, the religious claims of any candidate. Does the candidate oppose climate concerns because man comes first?  Religious. Does a candidate say he shall decide body matters for women, that she is not as morally qualified as he?  Religious.  Run to KNGDV. Does a candidate make accusations that an opponent is Anti-American, "socialism" -- code including for End Times Theology? Environment is for exploiting, US for us whites?  Look it up.
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Any assertions of belief not validated by text shall be deemed opinion; or evolved self-promotion. That is, label belief belief, but if the belief is free-floating, without foundation in text, we have a right to know that. If the foundation of the belief is someone's inspiration only, we have a right to know that, too.
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On the panel shall be a multi-denominational, institution and private scholar researchers, particularly any who can translate from earliest Paleo Hebrew (before, say 585 BC) to the Hebrew.  What slips occurred there? Any?  Had culture already tainted the forms?
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  • There are of course highly conscientious individuals and groups and institutions.  A measure of their contribution to the common good might be if they are willing to see other roots to what they say.  Personally, I find many are interested.  Ideas of mutual caring do not rely on technicalities of form criticism at all.  Just add it to the repertoire.
  • Some can't help the lack of inclusivity in their places: it just happened.  Does it matter?
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5.  Programs and Entertainment Needed in an age of bites.
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Junior High, Middle School: 
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Lay out for us a Lexicon Board Game, a scavenger hunt, where the player searches the tools, looks up specific words, then reviews the dogma, and gets extra points for finding a Paleo-Hebrew to Hebrew lexicon and transliteration. 
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Go.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Right Examined. Siepacque: CPAC UnMasked. Potlatch. Social Researchers Explore Siepacquian Economic Customs

 The Right Examined


Update: CPAC in 2012 
CPAC Anthropological Analysis
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The Siepacque Potlatch
(The CPAC Potlatch) 
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Siepacque Ideology Research Ongoing
WikiDC Reporting. Quick Looks at Washington.
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CPAC UnMasked
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Required Reading for Potlatch:
Economic Systems, Distribution and Exchange, at http://anthro.palomar.edu/economy/econ_3.htm/ 
Rational Choice Theory at http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~scottj/socscot7.htm
Jstor Potlatch article by Stuart Piddocke
http://www.jstor.org/pss/3629231 (never pay Jstor. Go to the library - copyright has gone too far. Let there be a pool [tax?] and pay the author per click)
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Update to 2012. CPAC.
Again this year, researchers attending CPAC BCB events (Bed, cocktails and breakfasts), look for signs of cultural change.  CPAC originated as practices in the anthropological Siepacque Tribe, a political party faction island ideology discovered amid the coral of other societies.
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Social policy and practice experts are attending, observing, and note-taking at the island's equivalent of a two-year equivalent of a Potlatch Ceremony -- the Siepacques' custom of exchange and distribution of gifts to further economic and social gains among themselves. See Economic Systems, Distribution and Exchange, at http://anthro.palomar.edu/economy/econ_3.htm/
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Researchers seek to collect data to test two theories of exchanges and distribution of benefits, and measure them in order to define the Siepacque System.  See Economic Systems site.
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I.  Potlatch and The Reciprocal Theory of Exchange
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These economic interactions, the Political Potlatch range:
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A.  Broad-based exchange

These include generalized or inclusive exchanges and distributions already well established at societal events such as funerals, where all mourners are invited to attend and participate. There is no immediate expected return to the giver.  The reciprocal benefit comes over time, enhancing social connections and group identification. This interaction does not result in a broad disparity of incomes and property. Rather, the reciprocal pattern of this kind of open event creates a time-extended circulation-recirculation of assets and incomes, resulting in an increasingly stable society.
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B.  Balanced exchange

These include an exchange of money for goods and services results in maintaining the immediate status quo. No added value. A balanced exchange can be subtle, where there is indeed a perceived benefit by the giver, as in altruism, and later tax benefit, or in immediate exchanges where the giver may receive back a benefit different in kind, such as Good Repute, esteem of other tribesmen, attention and recognition.  See
http://anthro.palomar.edu/economy/econ_3.htm
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C. Narrow-based interactions
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These are often negative exchanges, such as exchanges that exclude elements of the population,the negative exchange  tend to destabilize society by concentrating increasingly assets and incomes at the chosen ones' level.
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The one with the goods seeks to pass it on to another and get a greater value in return, so that the one exchanging something of his for the goods of the other, gets rooked.  These negative exchange practices are known also as
  • trickery, also known as the Rock Island Line, Johnny Cash
  • "hard bargaining,"
  • taking advantage
  • coercion.
II.  Siepacque's Choice
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These forms, particularly the Negative, example c above, seem to be favored by the Siepacquians.
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This is measured by the applause meters, stimulated by images and words of violence against interloping interests -- a result also measured in Neuro-Fussed brain wave researchers also present.  The Negative Exchange is particularly beloved by Siepacquians especially since most of the people identifying with that group rooked others out of their wealth by getting their own tax breaks, letting others pay for goods and services needed to keep the entire shebang, including Siepacque, motoring.
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Is this also a matter of loss aversion?  That, for Siepacquians, the fear of losing something, just the fear of a loss, offsets even a likelihood of a greater gain to come. by losing that bit now?  That may be the case, see http://loss-aversion.behaviouralfinance.net/  This has been true, apparently, in business contexts, see http://www.businessinsider.com/the-psychology-of-loss-aversion-and-how-it-applies-to-venture-capital-2010-8/ and may well apply to status-social cultural matters as well. People can't see beyond what they know and hold on to now, is that so?
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III.  The Redistributive Theory of Exchange
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These economic exchanges are generally rejected by Siepacque, it is believed.
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The Redistributive is a form of distribution-exchange and is a mechanism for leveling economic disparities caused by unjust, bad schools, lack of mobility, prejudices A-Z, tricky, superiority mythologies, hard-bargaining, taking advantage and coercion; or sheer luck of inheritance and other freebies;  activities of those On Top or in the Top Two PerCent.  Examples:  charity; progressive income tax.  Competitive speech-making, notes the article;  big parties; assertions of ownership of privilege, and reaping in admiration for it.
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Researchers note that among the original Potlatchers of the Northwest (indigenous peoples' custom of cultural give-aways; this does not include Modern Alaska), the give-aways of goods did not impoverish the giver at all.  Instead, the giver was rewarded down the road with benevolences coming his way.  The exchange of goods in a timely way enhanced life, not detracted from it.
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Siepacquers interviewed checked the hate this box.  Hate it.  Hate it.  We got ours, say they in notes passed from desk to desk; now just let anybody try to claw it back.
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IV.  Commercial Exchanges Within This Society and With Other Societies
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Economic systems do  not exist in a vacuum, contrary to Siepacque dogma. Ongoing deficits, if offset by increasing gross national product, have no negative impact, but this is ideologically anathema, for example.  Instead, Siepacque addresses only deficits, an approach virtually guaranteed to reduce gross national product. Trade balances are relevant and functionally important.
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 Contacts and exchanges are increasingly necessary, within a nation (Siepacquers deny any obligation to others, despite their receipt of benefits over years -- now safely in their bank accounts for their own health care, productivity and retirement).  Researchers noted a motion pending whereby every dollar printed here shall stay here; and to reduce the census counts so that their hue remains perpetually in the majority.
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Another aspect of commercial exchanges with other societies may resemble the taking advantage aspect of the negative reciprocal exchange in section II herein.  The effect of the advantage is to drain surpluses from the lesser-empowered nation, thus keeping them Down; this also is like draining anything extra from basic life needs from the lesser-empowered just outside Siepacque's borders, and keeping them Down.
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V.  Rational Analysis - Overlay on a Squirming Siepacque Island
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Analysis of any economic theory or practice is complicated by the fact that people are involved.  The Rational Analysis approach of some in the field of Social Policy and Practice (social work) lists many criteria that are rationally to be assessed, such as fairness, effectiveness, clarity, sustainability and improvement of the lot of the less empowered so they can avoid the Negative Reciprocal Exchange conundrum.
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What is the role of rational analysis, when "rational" is defined as an attribute of the self-interest of a group, disregarding the larger whole.
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Problem with rational analysis:  People aren't rational. Present company not excepted -- dark laughter down the hall, under the roof hahahaha.
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Involved here are people.  People are in all strata: on top and on bottom, and in the isolated self-admiring society of Siepacque. People join groups, act for many reasons known and unknown to themselves and others, and are susceptible to manipulation.  They have their own reasons for joining groups that may be
  • irrational, 
  • emotional, 
  • results of psychological conditioning (see authoritarian child-rearing, neurological-based advertising (NeuroFocus? Are you at home?), 
  • assessment of costs vs. benefits of joining, rather then merits of the ideology itself
  • well-placed or ill-placed norms of trust, reciprocity, altruism, applied to the group being joined, and one's own self-image related thereto (I am doing this for the good of the nation, while the organizer makes a pile)
  • absorption of mis-definitions to terms bandied about (person is ill informed, or misinformed)
  • there may be unintended consequences of individual action, see Rational Choice Theory at http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~scottj/socscot7.htm
As events unfold at CPAC -- er, Siepacque -- this news network will keep you informed so you can decide if you want them at the helm.
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Disclosure:
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Our preference, by way of disclosure, is to measure each proposal against a firm objective standard of fairness, given past history and positioning, timing of budget cuts in light of need of the nation for a productive population first, then balance budgets when the ground lost over the last 12 years is regained, at least somewhat.
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All we have is our rationality.  Let all the other motivations swirl, but measure by the needs of the nation, rationally. How to  get everyone productive, in a position to be productive. Wire the country, basic access to productivity for all -- and that means health and sustenance, with something left (lots of people don't get inheritances, or all that -- some even had the fruits of their labor stolen from them for hundreds of years, etc.)
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That said, keep watching here at Joy of Equivocating.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Framing for the Tax Change. Recalculate or Reinstate Taxes? or the Roman 200?

The Roman 200
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In current politics, framing an issue is vital to voter persuasion.  A tax as increase hits an ideological knee-jerk self-serving but formidable wall. A tax as reversion to a prior level, and that reversion thus is not as an increase at all, but a mere reinstatement, and there may be no such wall. 

Use emergency as justification, regardless of increase or reinstatement, and there also should be no wall.  That takes only persuasion of the emergency. Rome had both emergency and a pool of the wealthy to bail it out.  So it did.  Can we phrase our national life as in "emergency" -- the global economy similarly -- or not.

How did Rome do on taxes and high need.

In about 240 BC, Rome tapped its top 200 citizens to equip its naval battle against Carthage, off Sicily. It worked. Rome won. The top 200 represented 1 in 600. How does their fund-raising approach compare to rationales our gang is discussing?  Limited governmental and family budgets have two tools: cutting out peripheral "wants" from needs, and adding to revenues. For revenues: Our choices include: reinstate Bush tax cuts on those taxpayers over a certain income figure;  raise taxes by another formula, including considering The Roman Two Hundred.  Les jeux sont faits (diversion).
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The White House budget - it has weighed in. See http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget
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  Rome used an individuals approach:  tap the richest 200.
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1.  Rome, that Great Empire, tapped its richest 200 citizens in order to beat Carthage, also known for its elephants. At that time, Rome focused on naval materiel for the war against Carthage; see http://rnanuntius.blogspot.com/2011/12/trapani-roman-naval-victory-over.html, quoting http://www.sicilyroadways.blogspot.com/#!/2011/12/trapani-roman-naval-victory-over.html. That was in some 240 BC, see http://www.livius.org/cao-caz/carthage/carthage.html.  Rome's population was some 120,000, see http://www.blurtit.com/q361950.html.  We believe the 120,000 population represents "citizens" who were worth counting (excluding slaves, women, foreign-born, etc).  So we will use the 120,000 population as a counting of citizens until we find out more. How to find out? 
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Until we learn otherwise, we assume that the 200 Roman citizens represented was 1 out of every 600. That is, 200 out of the total120,000.  Citizens had rights that are like ours in many ways, and it is difficult to imagine that a Roman census (who counted the 120,000 anyway?) would count slaves, or women, or foreign-born, in their counts.  Did they?
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Roman citizens were like our taxpayers in many ways.
  • Citizens had important rights. A citizen had to be male, however. A citizen enjoyed the right to vote, make legal contracts, lawfully marry.  Roman citizens were immune from torture.  A citizen had a right to a trial and to defend, and could not be subject to capital punishment unless guilty of treason.  If accused of treason, a citizen could go back to Rome for trial. Capital punishment:  beheading for a citizen, like St. Paul, crucifixions for non-citizens like St. Peter and Jesus. A citizen was required to join the Roman Legions, but there were ways around this just as we let connected people off from serving.  See http://www.aboutroma.com/romans.html.
2.  United States. A wannabe empire, being artificially fiscally starved in the interest of private asset holders holding on. 
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We now need revenues to pay for our real governmental common-good needs like education, sustenance security (related to social stability, health and opportunity), infrastructure, health; and ongoing wars of culture and turf. 
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Our population is some 313,000,000. See  http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html. Of that total US population, some 217,000,000 are taxpayers, roughly, see http://www.numberof.net/number-of-taxpayers-in-the-u-s/
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3.  Some ideas
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If we tap the richest 1 out of every 600, like Rome, we tap some 361,666 rich taxpayers.  That 361,665:  Does tapping them, a parallel to the top 200 of Rome, raise more or less revenue than other approaches?  Does tapping the richest 200 actually raise more? What rates? We need numbers here. And we need comparisons of needed amounts with the Bush tax cuts, Washington Post . 
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Either way, this is about reinstating taxes as to the Bush cuts or even earlier levels, not increasing them.  What base line?