Happy Twentieth! On the Importance of Healthy Emotions

Happy Twentieth of August to Epicureans everywhere! Here are some updates from the last 30 days.

Malkin’s Death

This month we learned of the passing of educator Yaakov Malkin, who was the author of the book Epicurus & Apikorsim: The Influence of the Greek Epicurus and Jewish Apikorsim on Judaism. I had written a book review of this work back in 2016; in recent years he had received death threats for his work advancing secular values and his outspoken atheism. He once narrated that for his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah, he helped to stage a trial against the biblical god for crimes against humanity. Malkin once gave a lecture titled Epicurus, Apikorsim and Sherwin Wine–where he discussed the intersection between atheistic Judaism and Epicureanism. Sherwin Wine is the founder of the Secular Humanist denomination of Judaism.

The El Paso Shooting

I read the racist manifesto by the El Paso shooter in order to write a piece for my column in El Nuevo Día, and noticed the lack of empathy / humanity, as well as how he made an appeal to cold, calculated LOGIC. He said it was only “logical” that genocide / a major loss in population needs to happen in order for the US to continue having its way of life.

This reminded me of Winds of Dune, a novel whose main character was also a sociopath who was unable to properly mourn her dead son as a result of her stoic Bene Gesserit training. Her moral compass was only fixed when she allowed herself the ability to feel normal EMOTIONS.

The key take-away is that feelings are an important component of our moral compass, and we can’t carry out our choices and avoidances successfully without healthy, normal feelings.

Literary Updates

Speaking of the devil: after a recent Black Mass was celebrated in Canada and a local Catholic archbishop likened it to hate speech, the spokesperson of The Satanic Temple, Lucien Greaves, replied saying:

Members of The Satanic Temple, and participants in the Black Mass, are, in the overwhelmingly large majority, individuals who grew up steeped in Judeo-Christian indoctrination and Abrahamic mythology. They are the inquisitive minority who saw in the story of Satan the spirit of rebellion against a petty and vengeful dictator, a liberator who encourages freedom through knowledge, in preference to servitude through dogmatism. They were, for the most part, subjected to religious conditioning at a young age, against any credible standards of consent, and now that very religious conditioning — and the symbols made relevant by its imposition — set the context for the affirmative values they have developed after rejecting the authority of “sacred” scriptures. One may not impose such a framework upon children and cry foul when some of them grow up to use those symbols as raw artistic cultural materials to express their evolution from superstition to rationalism. We are not invaders from beyond the gates, pillaging, stealing, and defacing the iconography of a foreign culture — we are products of the culture from which the symbols we have re-purposed hold deep metaphorical power, even as we reject their alleged supernatural effects.

Having been raised Catholic and having had that particular color of lies perpetrated against me when I was a child, I found Greaves’ reply most eloquent and accurate. This controversy reminds me of Norman DeWitt’s book St Paul and Epicurus, where he details the many ways in which early Christianity appropriated Epicurean literary and communal traditions in order to advance doctrines that are about as anti-Epicurean as Satanism is anti-Catholic. It’s possible that some Epicureans experienced Paul’s writings as hate speech, but were most likely willing to use humor or dismiss his small cult as irrelevant. Either way, it is interesting that the Christians, who once appropriated so much of Pagan cultures, claim to be indignant now that the symbols of their declining faith are being similarly appropriated against them.

For the earthquake- it choketh up many wells, it causeth much languishing: but it bringeth also to light inner powers and secrets. The earthquake discloseth new fountains. In the earthquake of old peoples new fountains burst forth. – Nietzsche, in Thus Spake Zarathustra

Further Reading:

Out of the Ashes: Recovering the Lost Library of Herculaneum
Herculaneum scrolls unlocked using photon beams
BBC – Life and Death in Herculaneum

About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' (Humanist Press, 2014), 'How to Live a Good Life' (Penguin Random House, 2020), and Epicurus of Samos – His Philosophy and Life: All the principal Classical texts Compiled and Introduced by Hiram Crespo (Ukemi Audiobooks, 2020). He's the founder of societyofepicurus.com, and has written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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