Tag Archives: Vridar blog

Reddit Criticisms of Vridar

A reader of this blog kindly notified me of a little discussion on Reddit about Vridar:

How reputable is Vridar (Neil Godfrey’s) blog?

The first thing that surprised me was that a Reddit discussion would even raise my name as a topic. I have no idea who the poster is but I would be interested to know his associations with anyone I have crossed swords with in the past.

He says Vridar fails to rely(?) ”

  • almost solely on academic sources” (that’s news to me)
  • posts “opinion pieces” (is there any discussion or argument that is not an expression of opinion?)
  • “avoids original research” (well, I am an amateur and my interests and purposes are all set out in the “About Vridar” sections of this blog)

Further, Vridar is said to “evoke a scholarly feel” with “bombast language and numerous citations”.  To my mind bombast language by definition cannot evoke any sort of scholarly feel. I used to provide very few citations but since partnering with Tim I have learned to lift my game in that respect.

But there is further criticism. Tim and I are said to “consistently downplay our armchair status”! Oh. Well, I don’t know how we could have made it any clearer that we are just a couple of amateurs as we have pointed out several times in our posts and as we make very clear in our “About Vridar/Author profile” sections. And as is surely clear from some of the commendations of this blog that we have posted.

And despite all the posts where we favourably cite scholarly arguments, because we do present reasons we believe other scholarly arguments are flawed, now that seems to be the real “no-no” and reason we are not to be trusted.

And from there the discussion proceeds.

I’d like to comment myself but don’t seem to be able to access that forum for some reason. Meanwhile, perhaps some sympathetic readers might like to add their own comments there.

 

Vridar Maintenance

Please note that we’re updating the WordPress theme right now. Things may look a bit “off” for a time. Thank you for your patience.

–Tim

Happy New Year, Dear Readers

By now 2018 has surely arrived for all of you. Thanks for your interest, both critical and positive. I’m looking forward to exploring new ideas and old ideas more deeply this coming year. No doubt Tim is, too.

Warning. I know many readers don’t like everything we write but I will but I do hope to be writing more posts again like the one I have begun recently on Olivier Roy’s Jihad and Death. Feel free to engage critically with the posts you don’t like. The name Vridar was taken from the main character in Vardis Fisher’s quasi-autobiographical novel, Orphans of Gethsemane. Vridar emerged out of a Mormon upbringing to find a new identity and exploratory understandings not only of religion but of humanity itself. At one point he opined

The human animal was a terrible thing, not only in its lack of capacity to change-itself, but in its contentedness with what it was.

The irony was that Vridar did demonstrate a capacity to change and to refuse to be contented with what he was, and that he made contact with many other Vridars along his journey. Here’s to whatever challenges and opportunities 2018 brings and hoping all goes well with you, too.

 

And for those of us on the wagon….

 

 

Vridar Maintenance

Greetings, Vridarians.

As your humble custodian and dishwasher, I would like you to know that we’ve implemented some updates here. The biggest change you’ll notice is that we’ve switched over to https/ssl for everything. So, if you noticed some glitches in the past 24 hours, that was most likely us, banging around in the kitchen.

Please let me know if you come across any problems. You can respond here (below), on Facebook, or via email (widowfield at gmail dot com).

Cheers!

–Tim

Blogging hiatus

For anyone who might be curious, I have not yet died but have eased off regular blogging these past few weeks while I catch up on some serious reading. So much has been researched and published in the fields that interest me in recent years and even months, and there are still so many old foundational “classic” works I have not yet cracked open, that I have decided to try to bring myself a little more up to date before resuming posting about any of these topics. (Even just to refresh my memory of some works I read years ago!)

I’ve also been trying to re-think the future standards and directions of Vridar.

 

Another hiatus

This evening I am leaving on another wayward excursion with some Thai companions beyond Thai borders and hope to become more proficient in their language by the time I return. It’s difficult to focus on blog themes at times like this — especially since learning the Thai language has to take priority for me at this time. We’ll see what I can do so hopefully Vridar won’t go into complete hibernation while I’m on walkabout again.

Expect to return to a “normal” routine back at my “holiday home” in Thailand between one and two weeks from now.

 

 

Postings delayed

I have been wafted up into a strange land of night markets and street food, of friendly neighbours helping one another out, of different bird sounds and busy squirrels in trees and fish and monitor lizards in the tree-shaded canal, Thai long-tail boats taking people to work in the mornings and returning them in the evenings, of beautiful shrines and ancient temples. I am very lucky to be living where few “farang” (foreigners) are ever seen . . . the real Thailand. There’s a painful and ugly side, too, as there always is, even in Bhutan, but that makes the good all the more precious.

A halcyon holiday. More than another month to go here at Alcinous’s court.

Happy Anniversary to Vridar!

Seven years ago, Neil registered with WordPress.com and Vridar was born. Thanks, Neil!

Back again

Vridar is not dead; the eight day hiatus was the result of one more hiccup in my transition to a new lifestyle in a new part of the map. This time next week I’ll be on my way to living overseas once more for a few months so we’ll see how organized and Vridar-productive I remain then.

I recall several posts I was wanting to do. Now, what’s first on the list ….. something about British Israelism and its morphing into Christian Identity…..

 

Atheism, Vridar and Blogging Research in Religion, History, Politics, Science. . . .

With Vridar’s addition to the Top 30 Atheist Blogs it is apropos to discuss my position on atheism and religion.

The Feedspot site Top 30 Atheist Blogs And Websites Every Atheist Must Follow updates atheist blogs regularly. From the site:

The Best Atheist blogs from thousands of top Atheist blogs in our index using search and social metrics. Data will be refreshed once a week.These blogs are ranked based on following criteria

  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts.
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

The name Vridar originated as a pseudonym for the American writer Vardis Fisher who explored his personal journey from Mormonism to atheism in the two part novel Orphans of Gethsemane. From Wikipedia:

This is a book about what has led us to be the way we are, and makes sense of our male-dominated, Judeo-Christian western society, its families, its values, and its wars. The book is semi-autobiographical. The work is divided into two parts – For Passion, For Heaven and The Great Confession. The first novel deals with the Western, pioneer influences and especially the sexual evolution (and psychological implications) for ‘Vridar’ (Vardis). His actual life was tragic with divorce and suicide. The second book describes an intellectual journey, in particular the research, reading and discussions undertaken before writing the Testament.

Since I identified with so many aspects of the life portrayed in the first part of that novel and then again with his intellectual journey in the second, I chose the author’s fictional name, Vridar, for a blog where I discuss my own intellectual journeys, including lessons drawn from a religious background. (Thanks to Earl Doherty for introducing me to Vardis Fisher’s work, especially his Testament of Man series.)

Like Vardis Fisher what interests me is an exploration into what the scholarly research seeks to uncover about the nature of religion itself and why people embrace religious ideas. Simply attacking religion in today’s world “because it is irrational and bad” does not strike me as a carefully thought-through plan. Rather than react viscerally to religion I am inclined to believe that a more productive exercise is to find out what we can “know of our enemy”. That means serious engagement with the specialist research. That’s why I find myself so often at odds with Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne and others: they demonstrate over and over that they have not done their homework and instead of contributing towards public enlightenment they are doing more to fan public ignorance and bigotry. But don’t get me wrong. There’s certainly a place for exposing the dangers of particular religious groups and arguing for a more enlightened world, but let’s do it with some genuine understanding of what we are talking about and the psychology involved.

For a brief while after leaving religion and still raw with the pain I had both experienced and observed I was feverishly hostile to the very idea of any religious faith. My bias was obvious to others and I could scarcely ignore it myself. A more productive path, I soon enough decided, was to try to understand why people embrace all kinds of religious ideas. It was not enough to simply say faith and beliefs in unseen powers are irrational and therefore stupid and dangerous. If religion is the opiate of the masses as Marx wrote then it is difficult to accept that every religious person is partaking of the same doses. Some are best described as being on mild aspirin, others on heavy narcotics. There is a range. Does a single explanation really cover it all?

As for the posts on the Bible, ditto. There’s nothing “anti-Christian” or hostile about any of those studies. Again, what does the research tell us about the origins of our Judea-Christian heritage? That’s what interests me.

Then we have politics, history, science — all from the same perspective of wanting to understand what’s going on. I have learned enough about history and the media to know that news reports very rarely provide an understanding of the issues. News reports tend to act more like buttons that switch on public prejudices. National identities are often grounded in myths, the exposure of which can have the potential to foster more civil societies. To understand what’s going on and how we got to where we are is the main preoccupation of this blog.

I’m looking forward to a personal change in circumstances soon that will enable me to devote more time to reading and blogging ideas that should not be confined to the limited readership of academia.

 

29 October 2016: Planned Maintenance — Expect Outages

Hello, Vridarians. We’re about to undergo some changes here. You will likely see rather long outages this weekend as we move to a new platform.

–Tim

About Vridar: On Politics, Religion and Propaganda

If you are vain enough to think I am directing my posts about propaganda at you you are probably right. I am certainly revisiting my past and still preaching to myself.

Vridar was the fictional name Vardis Fisher use of the main character in his “autobiographical novel” The Orphans of Gethsemane. Vridar had been raised in a strict Mormon household and had to learn anew the fundamental lessons of life and love only after leaving that faith behind. I found myself identifying closely with Vridar in the novel.

Religion was only one part of what Vridar had to unlearn and come to understand. The same with me. My past experiences left me wondering how I could have been so completely wrong for so long about so many things in life.

As a significant part of my post graduate degree course in educational studies I found myself compelled (willingly) to investigate the difference between education and propaganda. The bizarre irony was that I remained true to my religious faith the entire time of my studies! How is such a double-bind possible? It makes no sense.

But it did happen and as I was breaking away in subsequent years from my faith I often thought back trying to identify how it happened.

I have also told before my disillusionment on leaving my faith cocoon only to find the same processes at work in others and the wider society that had, in concentrated form, led me into my “extremist” religion. The world was not immune. The same processes were all around me, everywhere. The difference being, fortunately, that in the wider world there is also more potential to exposure to opposing views, debate, and the processes that come together to radicalize some individuals are often (not always) in more diluted forms elsewhere.

Propaganda is a topic that is close to my own heart; it is a topic that opens one’s eyes to not only how the wider world works but also to how each of us works. I am no different from anyone else in that respect.

So let’s recap, and I am embracing here previous posts where I have set out a discussion of what Vridar is about:

Vridar is about attempting to understand religion, not simply bash and attack it.

It is about attempting to understand the origins of Christianity and other related faiths, especially the Bible, and is not on any crusade to undermine or attack them, either. Plenty of other sites do that quite effectively.

It is about trying to understand human nature, the way the world works, how our views are shaped, whether those views relate to religion, politics, human values.

It is about understanding anything else from time to time of special interest from history and science or wherever.

I am well aware many readers have left Vridar because of the non-religious topics, especially those relating to Islam and terrorism. That is sad, but inevitable. (Many mainstream religionists, both lay and scholar, have walked away, too.) I know that many people are not interested in exploring why the wider world “thinks” the way it does or how they have come to have the views they do. They are supremely confident that they understand all of these things very well. Just like I was confident that a post-graduate course exploring the nature of propaganda would not shake my faith, because I knew the sure grounds of my faith.

I have tried to make the most of the experiences that led to Vridar in the first place so that those earlier years could be somehow turned to something useful for anyone interested. I don’t claim to have definite answers, but I have learned some lessons and am very interested in learning and understanding, and sharing what I learn and come to understand here.

It is a shame that some readers are more interested in trolling, attacking, etc rather than discussing those things, but that’s how the world works.

Organized but with a full in-tray

Once I decide a fly in the house needs to get out or die everything stops till my crazed obsession is finally satisfied. Likewise once I started organizing my digital files with a very cool open source system everything stopped till the last pdf was in its proper place, complete with metadata for easy retrieval. Accordingly I now bask in the pleasure of worthwhile achievement. The way I feel now reminds me of how I felt when at the end of the day I used to look out over the lawn around my house that I had just spent some hours mowing.

Meanwhile I have been building up a lengthy to-do list in response to so many things that have been in the news lately, and in response to so many new resources and ideas that have been appearing through the networks, …. but I am sure I won’t have time to post about them all. I will make a start, though…..

Meeting the Hispanic Atheist

What an enjoyable read! I have caught up with Luciano Gonzalez’s latest response in our little exchange and found myself appreciating overall where he is coming from as an atheist and with his earlier comments. I am sure our different perspectives are primarily the product of our different cultures. I cannot say I would not embrace the same approach as Luciano were I living in a Latin American and/or Bible Belt culture. No doubt being an atheist in Australia is a strikingly different experience.

We may have different views relating to the psychology that is related to religious beliefs and ways of living, but that is a minor issue in the context of this exchange of views.

I confess I had assumed from the outset that Luciano was a “card-carrying” Atheist+’er because of his Freethought Blog (FtB) platform, but he has said he is not. So there we go. Never judge a post by its blogging platform. I also admit my interpretation of Luciano’s original post was coloured by recent exchanges I had here over my “no extras atheism” post as well as the flurry over developments in the FtB circle having to do with Richard Carrier. I loathe the way the knives come out publicly, the slander and character attacks, and especially the self-righteous justifications for the same. I am referring to both sides of that sort of issue, and to its history – the Carrier episode is not the first. (There are other more respectable ways to administer discipline in a group. The Atheist+ MO looks to me to be even worse than some of the ways the religious cults handle their wayward members.)

Anyway, this is just to say Hi again to Luciano, and to say I’m glad I’ve made your acquaintance. I strongly appreciate your perspective now that I understand more fully where you are coming from. I wish you a happy and fulfilling adventure as an atheist in your thickly religious environment.

.

Previous posts in this series:

What I “want” as an atheist — Luciano

What I want as an atheist a human — Me (Neil)

Vridar response — Luciano