Friday, March 16, 2007

The Question of Motive

Pretty Lady was about to give all of you a tongue-lashing--yes, truly, she was. She is shocked. As much as it pains her to do so, she will quote, without attribution, a few of the comments which so distressed her:

you particularly have chosen a faith which says I'm going to Hell. You could've chosen a faith which doesn't give a crap about unbelievers...I think that's impolite.

The thing that truly bothers you is that merest microscopic fraction of a chance that we are right, and that you are wrong.

You've got to be putting me on. Either that or you're quite the narcissist.

There was more, much more, but Pretty Lady hopes by now that you have got the gist of it.

Since when, darlings, have all of you become such experts upon the motives of others?

For it strikes Pretty Lady that grown men are capable of having an intellectual disagreement without becoming pejorative about it. Further, it strikes her that what most often causes offense is primarily not the intellectual disagreement itself, but the high-handed presumption and unparalleled condescension of attributing a specific motive to another person's belief or action. It is when overwrought and extreme accusations of motivation go hurling around like javelins that all hope of rational communication must be given up.

Pretty Lady has one thing to say to all of you, and that is:

'You don't have to put other people down in order to build yourself up. I know that you're just acting that way because you're insecure, and you don't need to be.'

Do you hate her, now?

If you don't, you are a better person by far than Pretty Lady, who peremptorily terminated a long-term friendship upon finding herself on the receiving end of just these words. For in Pretty Lady's personal view, at that particular time, the truth of the matter was: 1) she hadn't been putting anyone down; 2) she hadn't been building herself up; 3) she wasn't insecure; and 4) she knew damn well that she didn't need to be, because she wasn't. Thus, in two masterful sentences, her suddenly-former friend had managed to slander and patronize her so thoroughly that Pretty Lady had no interest in hearing from her again. Ever.

It is exceptionally dangerous, friends, to believe that we can see into the hearts and minds of others, more clearly than they can see into their own. It is even more exceptionally tactless to let on that we believe we can. The habit of thinking we know someone better than they know themselves can lead to a wholesale dismissal of anything that person may have to say on a subject, even, 'Excuse me, but your pants are on fire.'

So stop it. Back up about six paces, and take several deep breaths. Then please draw your attention to the fact that Pretty Lady has already postulated a paradigm of Hell that neither puts the Bible to the lie, when taken in a metaphorical context, nor attributes the existence of such a Hell to any ingrained malice on the part of a theoretical and loving Creator. Now apply your quite-considerable intellects to the task of refuting this proposition.

And if you adhere to a linear literalism in your refutations, Pretty Lady will smack you.

35 comments:

Chris Rywalt said...

Just because Pretty Lady has stretched herself and Christian canon to the breaking point to conclude that the creator bears no malice doesn't mean actual Christians believe this is so.

When I said "you," I wasn't discussing motive. I don't really care what anyone's motives for being Christian -- or anything else for that matter -- are. Motives are beside the point. I laid out my argument that faith is a choice. And if it is a choice, then one can choose freely. Meaning one is free to choose to believe in a religion that makes no judgements about me or the eventual destination of my soul.

That one has instead chosen to believe in a religion which does make judgements says, to me, that one is a judgemental person. "Judge not lest ye be judged" notwithstanding.

Christians don't have to try to convert me, or shove their religion down my throat, or proselytize, or even make any kind of contact with me, for this to be true. The only way for it not to be true is to claim that their faith is not, in fact, a choice.

In which case I'd like to know what it is. An accident? A hallucination? Grace? Luck?

Desert Cat said...

Do you hate her, now?

Well for my part, not at all and you are quite right. And I disclaim any bearing that has on my comparative value.

For it strikes Pretty Lady that grown men are capable of having an intellectual disagreement without becoming pejorative about it.

Quite true. However, being a 'boy', and when faced with the above (and the below), I have to confess that there is a certain addictive rush of testosterone that comes from the back and forth that results in successively raised hackles as the discussion proceeds. I understand though that, as a Lady, this is foreign to your sensibilities. And so, your house, your rules.

I think though, that my brother Chris has staked out a rather extreme position that doesn't permit much in the way of intellectual discussion on this topic with one such as myself. Nevertheless, I'm fine with him though he clearly appears to be not fine with me. And I'm actually fine with that too, although the temptation to poke at him with a stick from time to time is likely to be near irresistable.

As to deconstructing your original postulate...*sigh*. I'd rather be okay with your Buddhism/Hinduism/whateverism and focus on areas of common ground. But if this is a line of discussion you'd like to pursue, I'll see what I can do with it.

prettylady said...

Chris: What's wrong with making judgments? Is there a difference between 'judgment' and 'discrimination,' and if so, what?

Desert Cat: Is faith, in fact, a choice? And if so, why choose a judgmental one?

Both of you: As artists, surely you understand how things can look different from different perspectives and still be the actual, literal, physical same thing. As in, a flagpole, when viewed from the side, looks like this:

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and when viewed from the top, looks like this:

Desert Cat said...

1) Yes. I'm not a fatalist like Calvin. Free-will is an integral part of election (if that's what you're referring to).

2) If I truly thought that "all paths lead to the same place" and it didn't matter Teriyaki Stir Fry or Moo Goo Gai Pan, then it is possible I might choose a different path. Buddhism has its appeal. Pure nature-paganism has a greater appeal to me personally.

I don't happen to believe that however. It is entirely possible, I believe, to be sincerely wrong. And that includes me. Chris is right about this--I could be wrong, and I may be sunk if I am.

I'm concerned about my own final destiny first and foremost, and if I admit the possibility that it does matter what/who I place my faith in and the possibility that the end of physical life is not the end of my conscious existence, then it matters very greatly to me personally to get it right.

I am aware of power--attracted to it like a moth to light--and always have been, due to my being raised by an old-fashioned occultist/kabbalist. My own path took me in a different direction, where the woods and fields and waters spoke to me and taught me things. But it was my encounter with the power of the Holy Spirit that convinced me that here was something greater--by far--than anything I had seen or felt before. Like a moth to the light I was drawn into the warmth of my Savior's presence, and saw the demonstration that *this* at least was real. This was powerful. This was not hidebound tradition and musty books of legalism. This was a real and personal Deity who was offering to me a transformation and a Way to peace and reconciliation with the God of the universe. I simply acknowledged what I was unable to do myself and accepted his free gift.

None of this is really truly meaningful to anyone else--it is simply my own personal testament in a nutshell. But perhaps that goes some way to answering your question.

3) Few things are quite as they appear. And it is also possible that two things that look the same can be completely different and not at all like each other. One thing that I have been shown --in a very vivid dream--is to what disturbing extent our perceptions of what is real is shaped by the powers and principalities of this present age, and how really and truly impossible it would be for me to find myself through the maze of shifting changing illusions to my destiny on my own. I strive then, to stick close to the Presence of the one who found me and drew me in to his light.

If this makes me sound like some kind of mystic, then so be it. I'm in essentially the same place as many of my brothers and sisters in Christ who have come from other directions, however.

You know I spent a good deal of time diligently studying the world of Carlos Castaneda's don Juan. Do you know the possibilties therein for transformation are far, far less even than the strictest Christian sect's "narrow gate" interpretation? Even Castaneda himself died an ignoble death--the sorcerer's apprentice, dead like a mere man of liver disease. He who showed us such a fantastic glimpse into don Juan's world didn't even make it. And we who are not warriors are mere easy-pickings food for the (~shudder~) humaneros on this earth, and food for The Eagle itself at our death. Even the warrior himself trains diligently all his life only for the mere "cubic centimeter of chance" that he might slip past The Eagle to freedom.

Pretty judgemental that.

Chris Rywalt said...

Well, Desert Cat, I now see why we're at loggerheads. You claim faith as a choice, but you were led to your faith through divine revelation. Which is great -- I sincerely mean it. It's good to hear. And I can't argue with that at all.

I am lacking, thus far, any kind of divine anything. The closest I've ever come was in the absolute depths of depression, when I got what you might call an anti-divine revelation: It became clear to me that everything is meaningless.

I don't entirely feel that way now (the meds have kicked in) but it's still sort of hanging around.

Anyway, argument over. You're not impolite, I'm sorry I said you were, good luck with your god, the end.

Chris Rywalt said...

PL asks:
Is there a difference between 'judgment' and 'discrimination,' and if so, what?

Of course there's a difference between judgement and discrimination. Discrimination is setting things apart through use of your mental faculties. Judgement is setting things in a hierarchy through use of your mental faculties. Discrimination is the Sword of Reason. Judgement is the introduction of human prejudices into the process of discrimination.

Crowley changed the name of the Tarot card Justice to Adjustment. The difference between the two is similar to the difference between Judgement and Discrimination. The universe isn't just but it is precise.

prettylady said...

None of this is really truly meaningful to anyone else--it is simply my own personal testament in a nutshell.

Wow, DC, I second Chris's comment. Impossible to argue with that, and it is somewhat akin to my own experience.

I sometimes think of beliefs as tools we choose in the absence of direct experience, or as paradigms we use to explain the unexplainable experience. Thus, any articulation of a belief is, at best, an imperfect approximation of an experiential truth. Which is why I don't get particularly fired-up about other people's beliefs; mine have changed and evolved pretty consistently, along with my experience, as I see yours have.

What I believe upsets Chris, and which also bothers me, is when people use beliefs as tools to justify attacking other people. Christians do it less than a lot of other believers, but since Americans have more up-close, personal experience with these types of Christians, the Christians get most of the flak. It's the same as the Indians hating the Pakistanis, and the Israelis hating the Palestinians, and the Shiites hating the Sunnis, even though from our distant perspective, we have a hard time even telling them apart.

DC, I really hope you do decide to check out the Course in Miracles. It is very, very explicit about being the word of Christ, and about allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to transform your mind; I'd like to know what you think of it.

k said...

*...we have a hard time even telling them apart.*

That old truism about hating those most like you the worst often acts really for-real true.

bobert said...

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

A flagpole taking a nap, obviously.

Chris Rywalt said...

PL sez:
What I believe upsets Chris, and which also bothers me, is when people use beliefs as tools to justify attacking other people.

Obviously this upsets me, in the way that all bad things upset me. But I feel that the kinds of people who commit atrocious acts are going to find excuses to commit atrocious acts no matter what. So I try to avoid the cliched "more wars were waged in the name of religion than any other cause" argument because I think it's dumb thinking: Religion doesn't cause wars, people cause wars. (Although I do occasionally slip.)

So I don't mind it so much when people use beliefs to justify attacking other people. It's what people do.

I think what bothers me about beliefs is when believers make the extremely dangerous jump from "this set of beliefs works for me" to "this set of beliefs is CORRECT."

It seems to me that every person I've met who's converted to a religion follows the same pattern. You're unhappy with where you are in your life; you're encountering difficulties. More than that, you're having trouble coping with the difficulties. Maybe you begin to search for better coping mechanisms, like therapy, exercise, legal drugs, illegal drugs. Or maybe you just continue having a hard time. During the search -- or just during the hard time -- you meet someone (or some group of people) who seem to be coping the way you'd like to be coping. Their lives have difficulties too, of course, but they seem better able to handle their problems. You wonder why. Then you find out it's this religion they believe in. You start to wonder why their religion helps them so, so maybe you look into it. Either you go with them to their services or study groups, or you do some independent research, maybe. You find that this religion fits in pretty well with some of your own beliefs. At some point you begin to think that maybe this can help you, too. So you join in, start going to services or study group more regularly. Then you discover that you are, in fact, better able to cope than you were before. Maybe this arrives in a flash -- "Wow, everything seems so much clearer now!" -- or maybe it's a slow realization. When you reach this point, you realize you've found a good path for you.

Sadly -- from my point of view -- next comes the Jump (for some believers). You conclude that, since this path worked for you, this is the One True Path. Jesus is the Way. Or Buddha. Or whoever. (Some religions are better suited for this than others because some are inherently less pluralistic than others.)

That's the part I object to. The generalization of your personal belief. As Crom wrote, "I wholeheartedly disagree with the 'many paths, one destination' philosophy."

I have a friend who wrote and recorded this beautiful song called "Child of the Burning Heart". It's a Christian song because Mark is an evangelical Christian (of a sect I consider a cult, but never mind that for now). But at no point in the song does he directly refer to Christ or anything overtly, specifically Christian (although the Burning Heart is Christian symbolism). So I told him that I thought the song was great (it is) and that even I, a non-Christian, could feel the song, because I considered the figure in the song to be something inside me, the thing that wants me to be better than I am.

Mark was quite put off by this. He told me that it just doesn't work without Christ.

So, in the end, what I object to is anyone who claims to have found the truth. Because I don't think anyone can say they've got a handle on the truth.

prettylady said...

Because I don't think anyone can say they've got a handle on the truth.

Oh, I'm fine with that. Because I think the truth has a lot of handles, and is very large and knobbly, and also very small and simple.

But I'm the kind of person who is comfortable with absurd statements like the one above. Most people aren't. And that's fine, too.

Although I agree with what you're saying above to a point, Chris, I think that it is also in the nature of the human mind, particularly when trying to get itself out of chaos, to need a very strong stick to grasp hold of. I think that believing their stick is The Truth is necessary, for most people to have the motivation to keep hanging on to it.

However, as Desert Cat says above, 'our perceptions of what is real is shaped by the powers and principalities of this present age, and how really and truly impossible it would be for me to find myself through the maze of shifting changing illusions to my destiny on my own.' That's a profound and paradoxical statement, because he's simultaneously pointing out that our perceptions of the truth are extremely unreliable, as you are saying, and also that we need something unchanging that goes beyond perception to help us out.

So my current position on enthusiastic evangelicals who are certain they have gotten hold of the One True Path and are eager to show everyone else what it is, is "Great! That's WONDERFUL! You go, there! Show them!" and simultaneously setting a very clear boundary when they go overboard in judging me. Because I believe that some people NEED exactly what those evangelicals are offering, and the only way to find those people is to assume that everybody is one of them.

I also believe that I am NOT one of those people, and that it is my responsibility to own that, and not tolerate invasion of my boundaries and denial of the truth that I have encountered in my own searches. Because by virtue of the fact that my experience is different from anyone else's, my perceptions are different from theirs as well, and what I am perceiving as truth may not make any sense to that person.

Ultimately, we're all responsible for maintaining our own integrity, and not anybody else's.

Chris Rywalt said...

I understand what you're saying in principle. But it still annoys me.

I think some people find it very comforting to believe that they've got hold of the Ultimate Truth. And, really, I sometimes wish I could believe right along with them. It'd make things a lot easier if I had faith in something. I don't want to make it sound like I'm above it -- you know, like, poor evangelical, can't take the overwhelming idea of being alone in the universe, so enjoy your invented cosmology with your loving deity and all. I mean, I have that in me, a bit, but I try not to give in to it, because, damn, I really do wish I knew what the fuck was going on. It just so happens I'm incapable of believing any and every religion I've run into. It's not my fault and it's not a virtue.

Then again, I once knew the Keeper of the Truth and it didn't help me any.

Desert Cat said...

More than mere belief, conviction is where power lies.

I hate to borrow wholesale from someone else's writing to make a point, but that's what I did HERE borrowing a whole chapter from Tales of Power.

I certainly don't want to clog up your comments with all that, but you can skip over my blatherings (needs serious rework) at the top and bottom to get to Castaneda (italicized). I'd encourage you to read it to make the rest of what I'm saying here make some sense.

I, on one hand, do not fully make that "extremely dangerous jump", because I cannot know. But on the other hand I do willfully step across that line for myself, because of "having to believe"--because of the necessity of unequivocal faith as a prerequisite for accessing the power of that faith.

It has been my observation that if a paradigm has power, it is either necessary to fully embrace and enter into the paradigm to access that power, or to perform the much more difficult task of fully suspending disbelief.

Bobert said...

Desert Cat said...
More than mere belief, conviction is where power lies.

True, but here's the scary part...

Today's Christians are holding to their beliefs, but the Muslims--worldwide--are acting on their convictions.

It's going to be a very one-sided conflict in the long run.

Chris Rywalt said...

How manichaean of you, Bobert.

Say, you're not Persian, are you?

Crom said...

After reading the comments I have drawn a few conclusions. There is an old adage that "misery loves company" and Chris seems have tattooed this on his psyche. It is not sufficient that he is self-admittedly angry and confused, he cannot stand it when anyone else is not. It appears that he resents people who have found an answer, any answer and is especially tender when their answer involves consequences. I am not saying this to be insulting, I am pointing out a fact that is easily verifiable by reading his comments.

Chris, the difference (on this issue) between you and Pretty Lady is that faced with philosophical and religious dilemmas, she at least is still seeking answers. You, on the other hand merely rend and destroy in your anger and dismiss any supernatural solutions. It is not enough that you are miserable, you resent those who are not. You have stated clearly that don't like what I believe, and I have stated clearly that I don't care. Make your own decisions, and stop worrying about everyone else's. You will find more happiness, I would wager.

PL's faith differs from mine. Someone quoted my statement disagreeing with the "many paths" formula of belief . What you fail to understand is that this does not mean that I belittle her choices, in fact I often engage her in conversation to better understand why she believes what she does. Yes, she believes things I do not. So what? My faith and conviction does not prohibit me from asking questions, and I enjoy talking with people who are intelligent enough to genuinely challenge my thinking. This place is not an echo chamber, and PL rigorously defends her positions with logic and scripture. This doesn't mean I always agree with her conclusions, but I do admire her ability to make her case. Knowing that, I find it somewhat ironic that I am being accused of generalizations and close-minded thinking when I ask questions and debate answers.

If anyone still believes that I make my defenses out of insecurity and fear about my conclusions, then I would suggest it is a lapse of comprehension on the part of the reader, not the author.

Chris Rywalt said...

Crom sez:
It is not sufficient that he is self-admittedly angry and confused, he cannot stand it when anyone else is not. It appears that he resents people who have found an answer, any answer and is especially tender when their answer involves consequences.

Incorrect. I'm thrilled to pieces when someone has found an answer for them. What I resent is people who think they've found the answer for everyone.

You, on the other hand merely rend and destroy in your anger and dismiss any supernatural solutions.

Also incorrect. I have spent a lot of time lately here on Pretty Lady's blog knocking things down, but overall I spend a lot of time discussing and searching and trying to understand.

What you miss is that I've already invested a lot of time and energy into trying to understand Christianity, so my mind is made up on that one. You think I'm just shooting it down because I'm nihilistic, but in fact it's because I've already determined how I feel about it.

If you were Hindu, I'd be asking a lot of questions and I'd be very respectful and curious. If you were a Shintoist, I'd be even more so.

Knowing that, I find it somewhat ironic that I am being accused of generalizations and close-minded thinking when I ask questions and debate answers.

You ask questions and debate answers, but your mind is already made up. You believe in one true path. That you're willing to humor other people from your position of ownership of the truth doesn't alter your position in the slightest.

If anyone still believes that I make my defenses out of insecurity and fear about my conclusions, then I would suggest it is a lapse of comprehension on the part of the reader, not the author.

I never accused you or anyone else here of defending their beliefs out of insecurity. In fact I was accused of such. In another thread you wrote to me, "The thing that truly bothers you is that merest microscopic fraction of a chance that we are right, and that you are wrong."

Meanwhile you're the one convinced that Christianity is under attack, that reading from the Bible is considered hate speech in Canada. (Arresting someone for preaching from the Bible while protesting isn't quite the same as saying the Bible qualifies as hate speech, but what the heck, as a short sound bite it works, if you're an evangelical Christian incapable of reading a newspaper.)

That sounds like someone who's being defensive.

Crom said...

"You ask questions and debate answers, but your mind is already made up. You believe in one true path. That you're willing to humor other people from your position of ownership of the truth doesn't alter your position in the slightest.

Humor them? You are misattributing that quality to me. And of course I am firm in my beliefs. My question is why is that such a bad thing - especially in light of the fact that you have made a similar decision:

"I've already invested a lot of time and energy into trying to understand Christianity, so my mind is made up on that one.

So... You have made a decision, and I have made a decision. The difference is I do not resent your decision. Do you see the inherent flaw there?

I will accept your statement that you are not motivated by nihilism. I will say I am surprised, as your writings certainly seem to indicate a nihilistic viewpoint.

Being defensive when attacked is not fear, it is a logical reaction. Defend, and then counterattack. I don't know which incident you are alluding to, but there are numerous legal cases where Christian speech has been attacked. I could go dig them up if you are skeptical, but I know you could Google them as well so it's an empty gesture.

I notice that you could not resist the opportunity to drop another insult into the mix, to wit: "if you're an evangelical Christian incapable of reading a newspaper."

I am trying very hard to adhere to the cease-fire accord that PL requested and stick to the facts. If mischaracterizing me as an illiterate somehow helps your argument and bolsters your self esteem, then by all means continue. However, consider what that about you and your argument.

Crom said...

*that says about you and your argument.

Heh.

Chris Rywalt said...

Crom sez:
I will accept your statement that you are not motivated by nihilism. I will say I am surprised, as your writings certainly seem to indicate a nihilistic viewpoint.

You're probably not reading me wrong; it depends on when you catch me, and lately I've been more nihilistic than usual. Also, as religious arguments progress, I get crankier and crankier, which tends to make me sound much more firm in my beliefs than I really am. In a good mood, I don't even have beliefs.

But I'm not a nihilist by nature. I think there's a lot I don't know.

I notice that you could not resist the opportunity to drop another insult into the mix...

It wasn't meant to be insulting directly to you. I'm not sure you're an evangelical Christian at all. You may be getting your information from them, however, which might be the problem.

There are numerous cases where people using Christian speech have been "attacked." I found a bunch. Some seemed like the authorities were going overboard; some seemed like the jerks deserved it. The key feature in all cases, however, was that what was being "attacked" was not Christians, or Christian speech, as such; rather, people were being rude, or offensive, or stupid, in public, while using Christian words, and then someone dropped the hammer on them.

Now, I'd agree that, for example, picketing a gay pride event is within someone's Constitutional rights, and if the police asked them to beat it and they didn't and thereafter were arrested, that's wrong. Note, however, that in such a case, what's at issue isn't so much what they're saying but how they're saying it.

I would also note that for every case of Christian speech being "attacked" (I'm still hazy on how one attacks speech), one could probably ferret out any number of cases of other kinds of speech being suppressed. For example, a young man was detained because he tried to board a plane while wearing a t-shirt with Arabic lettering on it. Cat Stevens was on a flight diverted from Washington to Maine because of his religion.

And those are just two off the top of my head.

I mean, I wasn't allowed to bring my Swiss Army knife to see the Statue of Liberty. Should I say our country is targeting the Swiss?

I mean, the idea that Christians are under attack in this country is beyond ridiculous. You make it sound like you're part of some Coptic sect or something.

Crom said...

"I mean, I wasn't allowed to bring my Swiss Army knife to see the Statue of Liberty. Should I say our country is targeting the Swiss?

No. That is a nonsensical comparison. I am on the record many times stating that I believe that you should be allowed to carry firearms/weapons everywhere, including airplanes and in courthouses. Them taking your Swiss Army knife away from you is complete bullshit, since all it does is leave you defenseless (and disables any cool MacGyver moves you might have had.)

I am not interested in swapping links, but how many times have you heard stories of schools having to remove Christmas displays, of townships not allowed to decorate for the holidays, of people not being allowed to wear crosses at work, retail workers not being allowed to say "Merry Christmas" in favor of the secularized "Happy Holidays"? I could list dozens of links, but to what avail? You believe that Christianity being under attack is "ridiculous" and I doubt that any number of stories would convince you otherwise. No, people are not openly shooting Christians here in America but they certainly are all over the world. Google "Christians Attacked" and you get a million plus hits.

Your two examples of Muslims being targeted are legitimate concerns to people who value religious freedom. Despite the fact that they have a religion that preaches and condones violence they are still afforded the right to practice the tenets of their faith here in America. I am not Muslim, but I have been searched on every single flight I have taken since 2001. Did they single me out because I am a Christian? No. They single me out since I look "dangerous". TSA does not like my steel-toed boots, they do not like my leather belt, they do not like my metal Cross pens, they do not like the fact that when I fly I carry innocuous items that when combined make lethal weapons. They don't like the fact that in close-quarters I would be extremely difficult to stop if I had a notion to misbehave. The screeners pick up this vibe as I pass through security and I am invariably wanded, and occasionally strip-searched. I could bitch to the media like Cat Stevens, or the other Arabic t-shirt fellow but I don't since I understand that I am in a category that draws scrutiny. After 9/11 anyone matching a certain profile should expect to face an elevated security stance to safeguard the other passengers. When mainstream modern day Christians dance in the streets worldwide after bringing down a few skyscrapers in NYC with the fundamentalist wing of the Southern Baptist Convention, I will listen to someone's complaint about the Bible making them nervous.

Christianity does not condone violence, not one of their teachings encourages conversion by the sword. They do not inflict harm on non-believers. Yet we are being told constantly to shut up, we are told that our Bible is hate speech. It's ironic, since when you displease Christians they usually boycott you. When you displease Muslims, they behead you. Quite a bit of difference, there.

Chris Rywalt said...

Crom sez:
I am not interested in swapping links, but how many times have you heard stories of schools having to remove Christmas displays, of townships not allowed to decorate for the holidays, of people not being allowed to wear crosses at work, retail workers not being allowed to say "Merry Christmas" in favor of the secularized "Happy Holidays"?

Actually, every one I've looked into has turned out to be entirely (or nearly) fictitious. For example, Target never banned anyone from using the phrase "Merry Christmas." Wal-Mart encourages the use of "Happy holidays" but hasn't banned "Merry Christmas."

The only news around here I've seen regarding holiday decorations was the destruction of a local menorah. Because wherever you go, it's fashionable to bash the Jews.

And I have never, ever heard of anyone not being allowed to wear a cross at work. In fact I am in favor of this when the wearer is a buxom young woman, because there's nothing like a small gold cross between breasts to make me happy.

When mainstream modern day Christians dance in the streets worldwide after bringing down a few skyscrapers in NYC with the fundamentalist wing of the Southern Baptist Convention, I will listen to someone's complaint about the Bible making them nervous.

Don't tell me that the Falwells and the Robertsons and the rest of them -- to say nothing of the Limbaughs and O'Reillys -- haven't been at least as hateful on a regular basis. I just bumped into one religious guy saying that Hurricane Katrina was God's way of wiping out an evil city.

...when you displease Christians they usually boycott you. When you displease Muslims, they behead you.

Funny. I thought when you displeased Christians they burned you at the stake. Or broke you on the wheel. Or put you in the iron maiden ("Excellent!"). Nowadays, here in America, they boycott. Just like nowadays, here in America, Muslims boycott, and so do blacks, hispanics, motorcycle gangs, homosexuals, and Greenpeace members.

That's what's nice about America, not what's nice about Christians. When it comes to beheadings, there's enough to go around for all the religions of the world.

Or did you think America only sent Muslim and atheist soldiers over to Iraq to bomb the crap out them? No, we sent mostly -- almost exclusively -- Christians.

Crom said...

I would like to see footage of the Christian pastors or priests burning folks, or racking them. I certainly can provide you with footage of "other religions" murdering journalists, and others.

Here are the first few links that come up when I searched that outline some of the attacks on the Christian faith, and I have even included some links which present both sides.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51571

http://www.lewrockwell.com/buchanan/buchanan10.html

http://www.nysun.com/article/19623

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/04/14/world/main1498596.shtml

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/759221.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/461380.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/456532.stm

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20020924/nation.htm#1

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/07/13/nstamp13.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/07/13/ixhome.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=421950&in_page_id=1770

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_controversy

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/04/opinion/04sun3.html?ex=1291352400&en=a1c182d0265392e3&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

If you think that the wartime policies of the US government are indicative of the Christian faith, you need to engage in some serious reading. I don't know why atheists cannot understand that there is no "spokesman" for Christianity today, when you all have your Dawkins's and Harrises. Anyway, if you want all the arguments for deaths caused by religionists (including Islam) in the 20th century vs. deaths caused by atheists (including Stalin) I suggest you trot over to Vox's, they discuss this endlessly and have the links to back it up. Although here's some foreshadowing, in the contest between deaths caused by the Religious Right, Falwell etc. vs. the atheist Left, Stalin and Mao etc... Your team wins! (or loses, depending on your level of compassion.)

To steal a concept from Nate, atheism is personified by a group of blind scientists arguing that there is no such thing as light. Since they lack the senses to detect it, it therefore must not be real. And despite the majority of people not having any difficulty seeing, since these people are blind, light must not exist! By the same logic, the supernatural must not exist. Spurious. Very spurious.

Chris Rywalt said...

Perhaps I have not yet been clear enough on this point, so one more time:

I AM NOT AN ATHEIST.

An atheist believes there is no god or gods. I believe no such thing.

I might be an agnostic, although I think if I were, I would've responded to Desert Cat's admission of divine revelation by explaining that it was just an imbalance of neurotransmitters, and then I would've pointed to all the research showing that virtually all "mystical" experiences can be explained by neuroscience without resorting to any supernatural explanations.

I did not, however. Because I am willing to allow others their spiritual, mystical experiences. I'm willing to say that I don't know that they can be explained; I'm willing to admit to ignorance in these matters.

I would like to see footage of the Christian pastors or priests burning folks, or racking them. I certainly can provide you with footage of "other religions" murdering journalists, and others.

I would love for you to find footage of people from the social level of American Christian pastors murdering anyone. What you can find is footage of the local variants of Timothy McVeigh or Jim Jones murdering people.

I did say that Americans don't kill each other over religion so much these days. For example, if you -- as you suggested -- put "Christians attacked" into Google, you do indeed get a million and a half hits. Very close to the top is an article on Coptics in Egypt. Recall that I jokingly compared you to a Coptic. They have always faced much more persecution than any Christian in America, where, after all, our money actually says "IN GOD WE TRUST" on it.

As far as your sources, come on. Wikipedia? WorldNetDaily (where the first image I saw was a woman wearing a t-shirt saying "Re-defeat Communism" with a photo of Hillary Clinton)? CBS: Persecution of Coptics. Other articles: Christians in India. Bill O'Reilly's completely fabricated "Christmas Under Siege." And still nothing about Americans who are barred from wearing crosses to work.

Crom, come on, you're so much smarter than this.

If you think that the wartime policies of the US government are indicative of the Christian faith, you need to engage in some serious reading. I don't know why atheists cannot understand that there is no "spokesman" for Christianity today...

Why do you feel free to engage in the same generalization of Islam? Because a handful of Muslims killed Daniel Pearl? Because maybe up to a hundred were involved in September 11th? Do you think Osama bin Laden is the "spokesman" for Islam today? There are millions upon millions of Muslims living peacefully in America with no interest at all in cutting off anyone's heads for any reason. Yet you say "When you displease Muslims, they behead you." Really? Because I'm sure I've pissed off Muslims in my time and my head's still attached.

Come to think of it, I've never had an online argument with a Muslim. Only Christians seem to argue with me. Does that mean Muslims can't type? Or are Christians just naturally argumentative? Is there something in the Beatitudes about that, blessed is the flamebait or something?

Seen the way you see things, it makes perfect sense to say Christians invaded Iraq, Christians bombed the crap out of Baghdad. Because they did. And while they were doing it they were writing racist epithets on the bombs and laughing about the dead ragheads, I absolutely fucking guarantee it.

But those Christians don't speak for all Christians, just like the September 11th hijackers and the killers of Daniel Pearl and so on don't speak for all Muslims. Islam is no more a pro-war religion than any other religion on the planet. It's just a religion like any other, full of contradictions and misunderstandings and human believers who can twist sacred texts any way they need to excuse their activities.

Desert Cat said...

if I were, I would've responded to Desert Cat's admission of divine revelation by explaining that it was just an imbalance of neurotransmitters

On an ongoing basis, no less.

Yes, I'm a nutcase. Pass the Prozac.

Actually, having been "there and back again" numerous times by both neurochemical as well as mystical means, I have noticed a distinct difference. Chemically induced hallucinations, no matter how powerful, have a noticeable unreality about them that the mystical experience does not.

But what is one person's anecdotal assertion?

prettylady said...

But what is one person's anecdotal assertion?

That's why great mystical traditions have a rigorous system of peer reviewal. What do you think all this fuss about 'master teachers' and 'gurus' and 'transmission of teaching' is all about?

It's not about worshipping human beings, I can tell you that much. At least, it isn't supposed to be. It's merely about verification and damage control.

And you see, again, this is why I consider Chris my sane, or at least good-hearted, atheist/agnostic friend. The Angry Atheist ex would erupt into a vitriolic roar about 'gran-mal epileptic seizures' every time anything the slightest bit mystical was touched upon.

Chris Rywalt said...

ARGH! NOT AN ATHEIST! PROBABLY NOT AN AGNOSTIC (depending on your definition)!

Humanist. Leaving options open in case of future data. Currently something of a fan of kabbalah and Crowley through Alan Moore. Hoping for some kind of life after death because I really like myself.

Chris Rywalt said...

DC sez:
Yes, I'm a nutcase. Pass the Prozac.

Effexor has done wonders for me.

Crom said...

"Islam is no more a pro-war religion than any other religion on the planet. It's just a religion like any other, full of contradictions and misunderstandings and human believers who can twist sacred texts any way they need to excuse their activities."

That was absolutely stunning. Not in a good way. It's clear to me that your hatred of Christianity (perhaps not Christians, but certainly their religion) has occluded your judgement here.

Unlike you, I have studied Islam. In addition, I studied it when I was not a Christian, and before 9/11. I know Muslims, I have worked with them and dined in their houses, and met their children. I know what their religion teaches, and I know what Christianity teaches. The core teachings are not identical. Of course, you cannot know that without me telling you, but again I must recommend that you do more reading before you try and argue something that you know so little about.

"Crom, come on, you're so much smarter than this."

Again, with the insults. I guess you get a pass from PL since you are her Real-World friend. I could go on about the left-wing slant in the mainstream media, but it's a safe bet you don't see that, either. I copied the first few links that I encountered, and admitted that some of them would have varying information. The "cross at work" incident took place in a government installation and was witnessed by myself. The media did not cover it, since the woman in question needed her job.

I suppose that we could continue this argument ad nauseum, but it has become clear that I am now wasting my time. Believe whatever you like.

prettylady said...

It's clear to me that your hatred of Christianity (perhaps not Christians, but certainly their religion) has occluded your judgement

Ahem. May I remind you that a person making a decision that a religion is Not For Him does not equal a hatred of said religion. What did Pretty Lady say about hyperbole and projection?

The core teachings are not identical.

Of course they're not. That does not mean that every Muslim on the planet harbors an insatiable need to behead non-Muslims. I have known a lot of Muslims, too.

Being aware of the potential pitfalls of a system of thought does not translate into an ironclad justification for regarding all adherents of this thought-system with paranoid suspicion. It just means you need to understand that their sets of assumptions are likely to be different from yours, and work really hard on boundaries and clarity of communication.

Crom said...

"May I remind you that a person making a decision that a religion is Not For Him does not equal a hatred of said religion."

May I remind you that this exchange has it's origin in Chris's simpering resentment that we believed that he was going to Hell?

And his proposed solution that Christians need to pick a religion that is not so unfriendly?

No matter. I am finished discussing this topic, since it is clear that we will not agree on even the basic tenets of the argument. Without any common reference points in our worldview - he thinks that I live in an imaginary world where Christians are persecuted, and I think that he lives in a artificial construct and knows little of history, or the real world outside of his insular womb.

Recognizing this I am faced with only a few choices.

1. Agree to disagree and walk away.
2. Insult him, question his masculinity, intelligence and pro sports team choices. (nod to Vox)
3. Continuing the argument until the End of Days, to no avail.

Since I am skeptical that there is anything left to be gained by Choice #3, that leaves the first two. While #2 might be fun for a while, in the end it will be counterproductive and an equal waste of time. That leaves #1, which is unsatisfying emotionally, but the logical decision to make.

"That does not mean that every Muslim on the planet harbors an insatiable need to behead non-Muslims.

Of course not. I am not biased against Muslims, I am biased against fundamentalist violence. There aren't weekly suicide bombings performed by Christians, there are no journalists being beheaded on al-Jazeera and the Internet by Catholics, and the majority of Christians condemn violence. I have yet to hear one single imam decry the WTC attacks. It seems pretty clear to me which religion seems to be the most active in terrorism, and it is not the Southern Baptist Convention.

prettylady said...

this exchange has it's origin in Chris's simpering resentment that we believed that he was going to Hell?

You must have skipped over that middle bit. The 'simpering resentment,' as you call it, and as I see it, was a superficial attitude stemming from a deeper assumption, which is that people make choices about their spiritual beliefs purely from emotional and intellectual grounds. The source of that assumption, as I see it, was this:

I am lacking, thus far, any kind of divine anything. The closest I've ever come was in the absolute depths of depression, when I got what you might call an anti-divine revelation: It became clear to me that everything is meaningless.

Just as Chris concedes that he cannot argue with Desert Cat's divine revelation, I cannot argue with something like this. It may appear to be an 'emotional decision,' but there are emotions which are fleeting, and emotions which are seemingly rock-bottom and intractable. You don't address an emotional concern on an intellectual level--which is why you are quite right to desist arguing.

However, from my point of view, it is equally a mistake to dismiss emotional reasoning out of hand. A person's emotions are giving them valid information; the problem is that this information has to be brought to light and decoded, not suppressed and derided. Suppression and derision, in my experience, is how people stay stuck in a negative place.

Furthermore, to say that I have 'compassion' for Chris's emotions can come across as patronizing and condescending, and like I'm trying to 'fix' him, which, as practically everybody knows by now, is the bad habit I'm trying to break.

The best I can do, the only healing response that has any chance of having an effect, is simple acknowledgement. "Hey, Chris, that's a negative emotion you're having there. What's that about?"

You'd be surprised at what sometimes follows.

thimscool said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crom said...

I wonder what that was? The deleted comment.

prettylady said...

Gas.