Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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Harris says "We must find ways of meeting our emotional needs that do not require the abject embrace of the preposterous. We must learn to invoke the power of ritual and to mark those transitions in every human life that demand profundity — birth, marriage, death, etc. — without lying to ourselves about the nature of reality." .... I think he just described Buddhism.


Organized religions are made up of human beings, and just like us they are incomplete, imperfect, confused and limited.
Secularists often blame organized religions for many of the world's problems, but these problems result from the political aspect of religion. Ideologies such as Marxism have been just as destructive.
Belief in the supernatural is not what is dangerous about organized religion. The danger results from human nature, from the need to "know" the answers, the need to belong on the side of the good guys.
Scientific secularists, like all devoted believers, see the source of evil outside themselves and their group. Yes, we know that religious fanatics can be irrational and violent at worst (and annoying at best). But that is not because they believe in the supernatural.
Secularists despise religion but they realize it has important social functions. So they plan on taking over the social functions while throwing out the supernatural beliefs. This will not work because, as William James said, the essence of religion is the mystical experience.

"I am hopeful that the necessary transformation in our thinking will come about as our scientific understanding of ourselves matures. When we find reliable ways to make human beings more loving, less fearful"

This is not going to happen; science will never have this kind of knowledge or power. Scientific secularists have the same kind of absolute faith as religious fanatics have in the return of Jesus, or whatever.


You know, it's opinions like this fellow's that make seem credible the claim that science seeks to destroy religion.

Personally, I love science. But I deeply disagree with those who think science is the only tool of understanding and the only path towards a better world. To me, science and religion are two pieces in the same whole and through us, they are joined. We have a mind that can understand our world in scientific detail and a spirit which senses and seeks that greater something, that oneness we call God.

Maybe I am kidding myself. But I think Sam Harris is also kidding himself if he thinks science has all the answers. The path of science is a great one, but it is no more likely to lead to a more loving world than is religion.


I agree with Alan.


I think for me the point is that religion is no better than science in coming up with compassionate, "moral" and healthy worldviews that are capable of sustaining a healthy society - and in fact often religions engender biases and hatreds that can severely destabilize society.

Perhaps the point is that research into sociology, psychology and neurology can lead to a better understanding of human nature, and that research would suggest paradigm changes that would nurture a more healthy, inclusive and productive society than the one we currently survive in.

One big suggestion of mine is to replace Ratzinger with someone not as obsessed with wanting to relive his Hitler youth days by rounding up all the gays and gassing them.


sleipner, you are playing the victim by twisting the truth. That's an evil thought. Horrible.

Tom Strong

Aaargh! Sam Harris is a well-spoken fellow, but arguments like this one drive me bonkers.

"Destroying" religion is a fundamentally meaningless concept. Religions are belief systems, nothing more. There is no meaningful difference between religion and ideology. One could no more "destroy" religion than destroy science, or philosophy, or poetry. There's an idea - let's abolish poetry!

We are pattern seekers. Every so often, a particular pattern becomes popular enough to be called a religion. That's true of Catholicism and Islam - but it's also true of liberalism, conservativism, socialism, and for that matter, skepticism.

I agree with Harris that the world would be a better place if people chose our beliefs more prudently, and used more of our natural intelligence to weed less useful beliefs out. But that's not an argument for abolishing religion. It's an argument for cultivating wisdom.


I think Harris is the sort of person who needs to believe there are solutions, that the world can be made into a "nice" place. His religion is science.

In my opinion, all solutions create new and increasingly complex problems. For example, science gave us great weapons for defense which now can be used by any fanatic to blow up the world. Science and technology gave us a polluted envirnoment, and medical science will add to our growing arsenal of WMD technology.

I am not being pessimistic -- I just don't have faith in science to make our lives better. Our lives become more complex, in some ways more interesting. But for every new thing we get, a whole lot is lost.

There are certain kinds of people who cannot accept that life must be filled with inconveniences, tragedies, injustice, etc. They become true believers in some religion, ideology or system. Science and secular humanism promise a happier future on earth, just as Christianity or Buddhism promise a happier afterlife.


Playing the victim, Karen? Have you heard the hateful spite Ratzinger has been spewing since he oozed into the pontificate? Instead of concentrating on peace, love, and brotherhood at least half of his message has been similar to Dobson and his ilk comparing consentual homosexuality with incest, rape, and bestiality.

All I have heard from this pope is "I hate gays and wish they would just go away and stop trying to pretend to be decent people." His spite has stirred up homophobic attacks and murders worldwide, especially in Africa and the Caribbean - attacks for which I hold him personally responsible.

Frankly I tend to believe religion is more actively trying to destroy science than the other way around. Science doesn't particularly care whether religion exists or not - it is irrelevant to most studies.

However, that very irrelevancy is the source of religion's antipathy towards science. Most religions cannot tolerate a world in which they are not the center of existence and the explanation of all. Anything that contradicts the omnipotence and perfection of the Deific is heretical and must be destroyed at all costs.

Also unlike science, most (all?) religions have little incentive or methodology to accept change, so any evidence counter to religious dogma must be attacked and destroyed, using tactics and logic similar to the Republicans' standard operating procedures against anything that opposes them.



I think you're oversimplifying religion and using a few examples to damn a complex group of people and organizations. In almost every religion dogma has changed dramatically over the years as sects and denominations have come and gone and whole new religions have been created. Many of these respect science greatly and have adjusted official doctrines to accomodate new knowledge. Yes, there are those whose religious fundamentalism create great strife and suffering and yes, fundamentalism at home and abroad is a very current problem. But for all the ways religion can go wrong, there are many, many more where it can go right. Lives are saved and hurts are healed every day through religion.

Removing religion will not end suffering or ease conflict. Such darkness would just find new avenues through which to work. Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot were all hardcore secularists and their evil far surpassed the crimes you attribute to religion.

Can religion be a problem? Absolutely. Is it THE problem? No. We're the problem and as long as we exist, we'll find reasons to hate one another. In fact, I think the only scientific solution would be to get rid of us.


Religions changing their dogmas: Camassia had a very interesting post some time ago, quoting James Ault's book Spirit and Flesh about the way religious traditionalists change while convincing themselves they're not:

Though change in tradition takes place, at times, in much-heralded reforms or restorations, it more often occurs gradually, in unnoticed ways, as newly minted practices quietly assume their place next to genuinely ancient ones. In time they all come together in an indistinguishable whole that a community values as “what we have always done time out of mind” — in that inimitable tradtionalist expression. Actual change in tradition routinely disappears behind the veil of what the great sociologist Max Weber called the “eternal yesterday” of traditional authority.

To say fundamentalists are not traditionalists, as some scholars have argued, because they combine modern or contemporary elements with genuinely old ones misconceives tradition by objectifying it as commitment to x number of genuinely old practices. In this view, traditional village life could never change, which it obviously does — at times quite rapidly — yet without disturbing, in the least, members’ continued practice of justifying all aspects of village life indiscriminately as what their ancestors have done “time out of mind.”

Richard Lawrence Cohen

Great discussion here, Amba, most of which I agree with. I couldn't have expressed my own feelings on the subject better than, "...but there's something missing. I think the whole shebang is alive and intelligent and aware somehow. I think the majority of our ideas of "God" have been pretty crude and primitive -- and childish in crying for a protective omnipotence -- but there's something out there, not merely of our creation."


"I think the majority of our ideas of "God" have been pretty crude and primitive -- and childish in crying for a protective omnipotence"

Our ideas of God have to be crude and primitive -- we are temporal beings trying to understand something outside of time.
I think it's natural that we cry to God for protection, like children, since God (or gods, or the creative universe) is our creator and our protector. We are protected, every instant of our lives. But eventually our lives end, one way or another. God doesn't let us down by letting us die -- he put us here, in a temporal life, which by definition has to end.
Of course its agonizing that we eventually have to let go of the gifts of love and protection the creative universe gives us for free. The hardest thing for us is when loved ones die -- but if we could not experience love, we would not agonize over losing it. The only way to avoid the agony is to reject the gift of love (if that is possible).

Of course we pray and beg God for miracles, and of course people die anyway.

To me, it's all very natural and understandable.

spedonivski dagonaldusti

zupa! zupa! It bin all jost zupa!

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