Argument on ‘Datedness’ of a Document

Just thought I’d bring up something comparable to the biblical texts (as far as being aged) – treaties in Canada (from 1872 and onwards).

I was just talking with someone about this and they mentioned how we (as Indian people in Canada) get paid $5.00 based on the treaty contract from 1876. That has not changed in some 134 years although $5.00 on 1876 was likely worth like a $1000.00 in today’s society. Some would say modernize the treaty (including me) while others stick to a very literal translation.

Now although the literal translation is $5.00, the intent was financial compensation for the exchange of land…and that land is worth more now than previously. So do we follow intent or literal translation?

The idea of hunting and fishing rights, do we follow intent (provision of livelihood) or literal translation (basic hunting and fishing rights)? Fact is, less than 50% of First Nations people actually hunt or fish…a good 50% and higher get their personal sustenance from grocery stores (other people hunted/fished for us). The literal is used here in the treaties although it is clear the intent was for First Nations people to be able to ‘provide’ sustenance to their communities.

Or should we just scrap a useless 134 old document that has fallen out of touch with basic economic realities around us?

This is extremely comparable to the biblical texts – in the sense of ‘modernization’. I can’t think of a single First Nations person that would scrap the treaties because of their ‘date’. But I can think of quite a few others proposing such ideas.

The biblical texts are ‘dated’…admitted. However, does ‘date’ make something meaningless? Can something ‘dated’ be modernized?

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15 thoughts on “Argument on ‘Datedness’ of a Document

  1. notice how the literal interpretation only serves the oppressor in this case… and also in the case of the last post. don’t step outside the white-heterosexual norm! or else!

    LAME!

  2. Literal interpretations, many of the time, seem to serve a purpose that needs change. I think biblically I also recognize this and see the process of modernization inherent in the texts as a way to combat these issues (or at least provide options instead of one way to view a passage).

  3. How do you adjust salvation based on inflationary rates?

    If something was wrong then, why would it not be as wrong now? I know that we like to think about how much the world has changed, but the social problems are still the same. Technology has improved, but not society.

  4. This is a terribly false analogy and it illogical. First of all you are not relating a religious document to another religious document or even a belief system. You are relating a political document, and a social agreement, to an ancient religious document and this is false. So then under your analogy we should also be able to place the ‘Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 1982’ in place of the ‘Treaties of 1872 onwards’.

    So then we should not take our present Constitution as literal in any of its words and in relation to any of the public laws that have been enacted in its scope; including its entrenchment of First Nation Treaty rights. Thus the Charter should interpreted to whomever feels free to do so and at whomever behest. This is a ridiculous proposal but it is your argument.

    The difference in the ‘law of the land’ and the ‘law of a religion’ is that the law of the land is always changing its stance, its words, and its literal meaning, does the Bible or the Torah ever do the same? Can I petition the government to change the Bible? No. But I can to change an unjust or outdated law.

    • So how is it not logical? I see a perfect allegory here for temporal and spiritual laws as well as the reading for both. so unless you have a logical fallacy to name here, then you’re guilty of a genetic fallacy.

      or a failed rhetorical question of ” does the Bible or the Torah ever do the same? ” yes, because new experiences cause changes in interpretation. i remember the first time i heard a womanist reading of the nativity story. i read it “and there was no room for them at the inn.” thinking that there were no vacancies. she reads it “and there was no room… for them… at the inn.” stating that there was indeed vacancies, but not for Mary and Joe, which comes from her experience as an African-American female living in America and either experiencing it first hand or having relatives who lived through Jim Crow south.

      either way dawg, you responce is LAME.

      • Follow the logic of the argument. First of all there is no actual social-thing as a spiritual “law” in Canadian judicial law but there are political laws that govern the society; and the two (spiritual law and judicial law) are not equal in any of their terminologies and in their scope of societal acceptance; one claims divinity while the other claims the judicial.

        Here is the crux of the matter: I (John Bird) CANNOT go to the federal government in Canada (or any state government) with a reasonable petition and a body of like-minded believers that stand with me and then ask to change the literal wording of the Bible, or Koran, or any ancient religious text? Can I get this done in Canada?
        Can I literally reword the New Testament to make Jesus without a gender, or gay, or whatever, or can I change the Genesis creation story to read as literal Darwinian biology and not divine providence? No, is the answer because the texts are presupposed to be ‘divine’ and they are not the subject of the political-judicial law of the land.

        Here is where the argument fails based on the analogy and the logic:

        I CAN go to that same federal government with a reasonable petition and a body of like-minded believers behind me and I CAN get a new Bill proposed in the House of Commons (or at least I can to a Party that will represent my petition) and I CAN get a new stipulation added to the national constitution,and I CAN get a reworking and even rewording of a judicial law; as long as the political will is demanding that such a thing be done in the society.

        The Numbered Treaties, and modern treaties, are not religious documents in any way and no First Nations group has ever believed that they were/are. The Treaties can in fact be changed in their literal wording if there were a political movement that desired such a thing (there never has been an organized political movement desiring to literally reword the Treaties). The Numbered Treaties were also signed under several false pretenses by the British colonial government but that is another argument that our host should know. Canada did not officially become a sovereign nation-state until 1982 nearly 100 years after the original signings and was not in total bureaucratic control of the Treaties (this is the popular historical account by the state). The argument is long and historically-politically based and is far beyond the political scope of Biblical subjectiveness. Is the state involved in our Biblical subjectiveness? NO, but they are involved in the Treaties and their relation to the judicial law of the land.

        There is no social function in Canada that lets the society change the literal wording of the Bible or any of the accepted ‘divine’ religious texts that are accepted in Canada (would be unheard of in recent history). But Canada does have a social function that lets the society change the literal reading and meaning of the law; depending on the political will.

        Thus we have a false analogy that any social science academic should throw out as bad scholarship.

  5. “Can I literally reword the New Testament to make Jesus without a gender, or gay, or whatever, or can I change the Genesis creation story to read as literal Darwinian biology and not divine providence? No, is the answer because the texts are presupposed to be ‘divine’…” (Johnny)

    That’s quite the jump. The comparison is on terminology, literature, and modernization – which is the commonality.

    However, you can change the New Testament if you go back and study the Greek and join a Bible Society…based on translation.

    Fact is, the comparison you are imposing is unfair. I am comparing 2 historical documents and the mode of translation that has to occur, and how modernization makes sense. Your putting on the bible a legal aspect – which it does not hold in Canada (seperation of church and state remember).

    “The Numbered Treaties, and modern treaties, are not religious documents in any way and no First Nations group has ever believed that they were/are” (Johnny)

    You sure about this statement? Sure they are not ceremonialy used or anything – but they are the most discussed pieces of work in Indian country…they may not be ‘spiritual’ (whatever that means) but they are part of the fabric interwoven deeply into our culture. So deeply that if you tried to campaign to end them you would become a social outcast in your own community (fact). They have as much sway (or more) than the ceremonies. They are at least on par with the spirituality/religious ceremonies – and higher – they effect all Indian peoples under that treaty. Not everyone is religious as we clearly know.

    As for churches, which is where you would need to go to change the translations or interpretation of the bible for a community, this can always be done. However, I’d bet I’d have an easier time making churches accept homosexuality than you would have making our Federal Gov’t change the treaties – namely with regards to the $5.00 piece in the treaties.

    So let’s keep the subjects in their respective categories, with law we go to gov’t and with interpretation of biblical mandates we go to the church or denomination.

  6. “So let’s keep the subjects in their respective categories, with law we go to gov’t and with interpretation of biblical mandates we go to the church or denomination.”

    Yes, let us do that and let us keep the analogies totally separate and in their correct respective categories – which was my point in the first place. You presented a false analogy which inherently presents a falsified analysis; even from my viewpoint, which you all have pointed out correctly. But somehow my logic is the only one that is wrong (which I agree it is because it is based on the inherent falsity of the original analogy) but our host and his analogy (presented the original false analogy) is correct in his interpretive assumptions in regard to the equality of the two documents in question (one that is entirely political-social and one that is entirely religious-subjective).

    “The Numbered Treaties, and modern treaties, are not religious documents in any way and no First Nations group has ever believed that they were/are” (Johnny)

    You sure about this statement? Sure they are not ceremonialy used or anything?” (SVS)

    Yes, that is what I am saying and find me an individual Aboriginal person that actually believes that the Treaties are “divinely” inspired in the exact same way as the Torah or the New Testament have claimed to be. If you believe in this divinity of the Treaties then you would have to somewhat believe that the British Monarch and the current Parliamentary government, that ratified all the Treaties into Canadian law, would be in the position of God; as it was only the Monarch and the Parliament that had the authority to ratify the Numbered Treaties, and/or the modern treaties, into Canadian law. The individual First Nation Bands that signed Treaty with the British and/or Canadian governments did not have this legislative power and they still do not have it without the function of the Canadian Parliament.

    What ceremonies are you referring to? Name the spiritual ceremony where the literal wordings of the Treaty are invoked in order to congregate with the Creator? So then what is the literal ceremony that you have seen or participated in where the Treaty was read aloud and then worship/reverence of the ‘creator’ followed. There are none in our modern history and all you are doing is arguing an empty point and are massively confusing your readership. But you certainly can find this with the reading of the Torah in any synagogue in Canada, where prayer and reverence follow the literal reading. But these same synagogues do not invoke the ‘Basic Laws of Israel’ before they proceed in a spiritual ceremony, do they. But this is the point that are trying to argue, another falsity on your part.

    Finally, the Treaty process is still ongoing in the Canadian government and among individual First Nation Bands; in case your readers and yourself do not know. There are modern treaties and there are Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) based on the original Numbered Treaties and there are mass amounts of legalities being played out among Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), individual federal bureaucracies, and the 3 Branches of Canadian government (executive, judicial, and legislative) in accordance to the entire treaty history and modern processes. This is happening on a daily basis in the political realms of Canada. So to imagine, or state, that the Treaty process stagnated in the 1800’s is also a falsity because the Treaty process has not ended and neither has the writing of Treaty.

    I could go on and on with the political implications and history of the Treaty process in Canada but it is far too immense and far reaching across all of Canada to get into on a blog.

    The point is that the analogy is entirely false and the reading of the Treaties (which are subject to change according to political will and political agreement with the Federal government of Canada) can in no way be compared to the reading of a Biblical text (which are subject to change according to any personal subjective interpretation). If you cannot see the inherent flaw in the analogy then you are not looking at it critically rather you are forcing a comparison that is not logical.

    Now, if you want to compare First Nation mythologies and oral traditions, stories, individual spiritual ceremonies, theologies, holistic ideas of healing and life (Medicine wheel, prayer, sweat lodge, etc) then that would be a fair analogy. But the Treaties are in no way a function of any of these spiritual practices and/or long held spiritual beliefs. How could they be if all of these things pre-date the Treaty process?

  7. “is correct in his interpretive assumptions in regard to the equality of the two documents in question ” (Johnny)

    No one is saying they are ‘equal’ but that the documents can be compared on the basis of modernization and value…that’s it.

    It’s like comparing a fruit and a vegetable, although not the same, in some categories they both end up…as in nutrition value.

    “What ceremonies are you referring to?” (Johnny)

    Language anyways. I wrote ‘Sure they are not ceremonialy used or anything…” – and I meant they ARE NOT used in ceremonies. But they are still more important than most ceremonmies so they take a place of quite high value, even higher than religion in Indian communities in some ways.

    I don’t think the comparison is flawed on basic premises that I am laying out. I can see where you think it is (a religious document and a contractual document) but I am not comparing them as neccesarily that.

  8. Johnny,

    you’re such a literalist it kills me. secular law is often argued on the interpretation as well, just as religious law is. just because you can change secular doesn’t mean the allegory fails, it just means religious law does not have the caveat. yet, it does, as doctrines change all the time when new interpretations are made. so thus, your argument fails.

    • First of all your rebuttal makes no sense since we are all literalists as a species. Your only response to my logic and my facts are that they are too “literal”; a wonderful argument on your part by the way.

      But, if we were not literalist then language and writing would never have been produced by humanity at any point in our evolution; the word “literal” pertains mostly to the nature of the letters of alphabet and what they mean.

      The very symbols in these words that I am currently writing (as of right now) would not be able to be recognized by yourself or by anyone else if they were not taken as literal representations of our basic communication system. But they are understood by yourself and you can read my symbols as the literalist that you are, yes you too are a LITERALIST or else you would be totally illiterate and would never have then mental functions to speak, write, or even understand any particular vernacular. You (Luke) literally can read my words and my language even though they are all mere symbols put in a certain position, pronunciations, etc., thus creating a vernacular (modern English in this example). But if we were not, as a species, full of literalists then these symbols would be utterly meaningless and we would have no such thing as a written language. We would only communicate through expression and not the written or spoken word. So your literalist argument is exposed for what it truly is: a smoke-screen for your inability to comprehend where an argument fails or succeeds.

      We all equally accept that, for example, the letter “T” is a “T” and it has a sound that resembles it when it comes out of our mouth and is processed in our minds. We literally believe that it is the letter “T” that we are speaking, writing, or hearing; even though you are not actually talking to me in the same room you still know what my writing of the letter “T’ sounds like and what it literally represents. By reading this sentence you have just proven that you are a “literalist.”

      The analogy that Jason (SVS) presented is false and if you could see the points in the argument where there logic (the reasoning for the comparison) failed then you would understand what I am saying.

      You can “interpret” the Bible and its messages anyway you want to, but still this will not change the fact that there are words on a page that specifically state a certain belief created by a very specific community of believers; that were literally followed to letter of the law.

      In the comparison that Jason gave, the Treaty making process in Canada has nothing to do with “believers” in any regard or sense of the word believer. There is nothing to have faith in. What should we believe in: the bureaucracy, the Monarch, the federal government, the meager stipulations? No, that would be stupid. What we literally respect and uphold as a community is the agreement that was initially made between the nations – by way of a political agreement known as a “Treaty.”

      The Treaty making process in Canada was/is based on a singular issue and it is a literal political-economic-social singularity. Do you (Luke) know what that literal singularity issue is? If you did then you would understand the literal meaning of the Treaty process in the past, in the present, and the future; and the literal reading of the Treaty. Not just by the First Nations themselves but also by the Monarchy of England/Parliament of England and then the Federal Government of Canada (which are literal institutions of state power and not faith-based interpretations).

      If you knew what this issue was then you would see where the argument fails but you do not know this issue and that is why you fail as a critical thinker. It is not due to my literalism. In truth, the singular issue that the entirety of the Numbered Treaties is based upon is a literal and not a subjective interpretation by either the federal government or the individual First Nation Bands that signed Treaty.

      • “In truth, the singular issue that the entirety of the Numbered Treaties is based upon is a literal and not a subjective interpretation by either the federal government or the individual First Nation Bands that signed Treaty.” (Johnny)

        Uh, In my actual blog above – I point out 2 instance of subjectivity in treaty ‘interpretation’ (ie: the $5.00 payment and hunting and fishing rights). Depends on the side of the fence your sitting on when you look at the treaties.

        We both know the treaties are not interpreted literally, though some clauses are. For example, there is a clause for a medicine chest. Well, that actually doesn’t exist anymore but if we were to be literal with that passage then Indian peoples should recieve a first aid kit of some sort packed with medical supplies. However, that clause is interpreted as basic health care (which we all have in Canada) and payment for prescription drugs (which is medicine but not a ‘chest’).

        The truth is, what I am saying is exactly the case. Now although it takes literalism to write and read, not everything in the human language translates very well from one era to the next one. What I am looking at is modernization – which is a central issue to both treaties and biblical texts (as authoritative literature).

        So as much as you claim the argument is a ‘fallacy’ via comparison, I have proven time and time again how it is not. The only fallacy is that you think they have to be in the same category exactly to be compared. If this were the case technology as we know it could not be derived from some of the mechanics of science/nature (as if copied almost).

      • but a T also looks like a cross and can call to mind that image to one who can connect it. or it looks like a road dead ending into another, or it brings to mind a T-bone steak, or a “T” as in a technical foul in bball. so no, we’re not entirely literal, many of us have associative minds. i do, you don’t. that much is clear.

      • “You (Luke) literally can read my words and my language even though they are all mere symbols put in a certain position, pronunciations, etc., thus creating a vernacular (modern English in this example). But if we were not, as a species, full of literalists then these symbols would be utterly meaningless and we would have no such thing as a written language.”

        oh… and i missed this. you actually prove my point that humans are symbolic creatures, not literal ones. if we were strickly literal, we would have never invented written language in the first place. nor would we have ever painted on the sides of caves. so your argument is not convincing. we still argue over interpretation and symbolic value, AS WELL AS the literal sense as well. develop a mind for allegory and then you may start to understand the religious mind. without it, all arguments and criticisms fail.

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