Are some more worthy of respect than others? February 17, 2008 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Well, I have been onsite five or ten minutes and already flagged two posts...can I say I am sick and tired of seeing gratuitous and profane rants against God and Christianity in general-especially since I know for a fact that kind of speech is not tolerated for other groups here?

I'm sorry. I try to be tolerant. I try to look the other way. I understand many of you have issues with either God or Christianity in some form or fashion. But I have had quite enough.

I hold some unpopular beliefs-beliefs that are part of my Christian belief system-and I have been prohibited-let me say that again, PROHIBITED-from even commenting on those subjects at metafilter on pain of being permabanned. This even though to the best of my knowledge I was never rude or hateful when discussing same. Okay, not my site, whatever. But apparently it is just fine and wonderful to trash my God, trash my brothers and sisters, and say whatever comes into one's head about MY subculture but if I dare to try to discuss or explain or point out where someone is misunderstanding or whatever...well, we all know where that goes.

I am under no illusion that this is going to change in the foreseeable future but I simply wanted to make it public record that I object. I did finally start flagging posts and will continue to do so. I ask any fairminded people out there to do the same.

Mind you I do not object if people make negative comments as long as they meet the same standards of respect for others as all other comments on Metafilter are supposed to meet. Freedom of speech, freedom of ideas, etc-I am all for that. That is why I am here. I think it is good to see other's points of view.

Okay, I have said my piece. Thank you for your consideration.
posted by konolia to Etiquette/Policy at 12:30 PM (656 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

Oh, and I did not post examples because I don't want to single out anyone in particular. We all know it when we see it.
posted by konolia at 12:31 PM on February 17, 2008


We all know it when we see it.

No, we don't. It might be helpful to link to what you feel is unacceptable post and see if other people feel the same way as you.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:36 PM on February 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


Uh, well... no, actually, we don't. If we did, why would you need to post anything at all?

You will have to give specific examples if you want a discussion. Otherwise, this will go precisely nowhere.
posted by Malor at 12:38 PM on February 17, 2008


was it this?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 12:42 PM on February 17, 2008


well, we all know where that goes.

To second 23skidoo's comment: No, we don't. Can you be more specific?
posted by Greg Nog at 12:47 PM on February 17, 2008


I think God can probably hold his own.
posted by ODiV at 12:49 PM on February 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yeah, you're really going to want to actually provide some substantive information here.
posted by cashman at 12:50 PM on February 17, 2008


This even though to the best of my knowledge I was never rude or hateful when discussing same.

This may be a matter of perspective. The specifc issue that this was centered around was that you would show up in threads discussing homosexuality and gratuitously interject your opinion that gay people were sinning and/or sinners. This was unacceptable -- and I'd call it hateful personally but we don't need to debate the minutia of it -- and is why we made the decision that we did. I respect your beliefs but sometimes the proper place for them is not in a thread on a completely different topic. THAT said, I find that you showing up in threads on the site to say "I'm not allowed to talk about this" is at some level tantamount to tossing your opinion in there anyhow. You are welcome to flag what you want and we'll look at your flags the same as we look at the other ones.

And just to put my personal impressions out there in case it might be helpful. I don't have "issues" with your god or your religion, they are just not relevant to me in any particular way except as they affect the governance of my country and the traditions of my neighbors and loved ones. You might as well be talking about the Stanley Cup. I think you've been totally decent in the recent past discussing why traditions of your faith are important and relevant in certain situations -- I mostly see that in AskMe -- and I'm not sure what you're referring to and if you are even talking about AskMe. We usually remove angry ranting from both sides of that particular ideological divide over there. However, it's not at all appropriate to judge people's behavior from within the guidelines of your own faith when you're in a cross-cultural situation as you are here. This is not a Christian web site here and many of the people here are not Christians or even seekers.

People need to be generally respectful, sure. We've deleted plenty of puerile LOLXIANS threads here and defended those decisions. But if seeing people speak ill of Christianity or your conception of the divine here is going to make you go on a flagging spree, I have to say that without any specifics to go by, that may not have the effect you are looking for, and might have the opposite.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:51 PM on February 17, 2008 [70 favorites]


I'm putting my hand in a sausage grinder. Please don't say anything that might hinder me or cause me to backslide into Non-Dermis-Wrapped Unbeliever territory. ok tks
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 12:52 PM on February 17, 2008


But if seeing people speak ill of Christianity or your conception of the divine here is going to make you go on a flagging spree, I have to say that without any specifics to go by, that may not have the effect you are looking for, and might have the opposite.

What's the opposite? Having the comments/posts sidebarred instead of deleted?
posted by grouse at 12:54 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hold some unpopular beliefs-beliefs that are part of my Christian belief system-and I have been prohibited-let me say that again, PROHIBITED-from even commenting on those subjects at metafilter on pain of being permabanned.

I'm surprised to hear that, I must say. Just to clarify: do you mean that mathowie has forbidden you from talking about your beliefs in general, or just the 'unpopular' ones? (I vaguely recall you making homophobic comments in the past - apologies if I'm thinking of someone else - which were beyond the pale, but a blanket ban on all matters Christian seems a bit extreme.)

As for the anti-Christian stuff, yeah, we need examples. I imagine there are hundreds of comments posted here in a given week that would be hugely offensive to a devout Christian, so it's hard to tell where you might be trying to draw a line...
posted by jack_mo at 12:56 PM on February 17, 2008


Well, here are the two I flagged: the second one is when I felt compelled to speak up. Again I am not pointing a finger at these two individuals as these sorts of comments are not uncommon and as far as I can tell tolerated by the site.


For the average Christian, there are too many children and too much tithing to be able to keep up appearances. The last part is most significant. Christianity began as an agrarian cult of seeded prosperity and rebirth, beginning with Osiris it seems. Fast forward to now, factoring in the invention of money, and the open secret to Christianity is it is a blatant form of idolatry. Not only do most believers pay money to a corrupt church to get blessings, and as a form of salvation insurance, but they even expect more in return, and so this fuels a dangerous mindset. Borrowing money is the direct result if one's outward display of wealth signifies God's blessing upon them. We would like to think they are struggling to pay their heating bills, but heat is not a luxury to them, and so we're often talking about being able to make the payments on a newer truck.
posted by Brian B. at 2:16 PM on February 17 [+] [Flagged]


Fuck that. You tell that guy's wife and four children that. "Awe shucks, I guess God just wasn't smiling on you. Maybe you shoulda' prayed more." Maybe if your fucking pedantic invisible man in the sky weren't such an asshole, we wouldn't need to have these conversations.posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:49 AM on February 17 [1 favorite +] [Flagged]
posted by konolia at 12:57 PM on February 17, 2008


Oop, should've previewed.
posted by jack_mo at 12:57 PM on February 17, 2008


trash my brothers and sisters

Christian doctrine teaches that all humanity is one's brothers and sisters, not merely believers. A little hyperbolic perhaps?
posted by nonmerci at 12:58 PM on February 17, 2008


I could live with tolerating comment one up there but comment two -well let's just say the thought could have been expressed in a better way and leave it at that.
posted by konolia at 1:00 PM on February 17, 2008


konolia, you're position is completely self-serving. You enthusiastically endorse some types of religious bigotry because it's "what you believe." You bemoan other sorts of religious bigotry (and even post FPPs about it) because it affects your personal life. Your willingness to interpret the scriptures along such self-serving lines indicates that you are not trustworthy. You are neither tolerant, nor particularly authoritative when it comes to these matters, you just have a bunch of things that you think God authorizes you to spew around. With your kind of attitude, and your penchant for thinly-veiled self-serving hate, you're probably not going to get satisfaction from seeing this discussed in any forum that doesn't agree with you about where all the your little hateful lines should be drawn.
posted by OmieWise at 1:01 PM on February 17, 2008 [59 favorites]


Christian doctrine teaches that all humanity is one's brothers and sisters, not merely believers. A little hyperbolic perhaps

Well, actually it does not. But this isn't the place to get into that in this thread.
posted by konolia at 1:01 PM on February 17, 2008


What's the opposite?

Well when we'd occasionally have users who seemed to have a hate-on for a certain topic (swearing for example) or a certain user and we'd see their flags we'd be more likely to think "Oh, that's that person going on a crusade about topicx/personx..." instead of "gee this is realy something we should take a look at. In AskMe, a single flag is enough to have something checked out, with the other parts of the sites we usually look for groupings of them in most cases unless things are really slow.

Generally, I'm just saying that a Meta thread or talking to the mods is probably a better way to deal with stuff like this than just flagging more.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:01 PM on February 17, 2008


If we allow theist viewpoints on the site I think we should also allow Civil_Disobedient the freedom of religion to express his dystheistic beliefs.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:03 PM on February 17, 2008


Omiewise, what I am saying is that this place is supposed to be a respectful place for all points of view and I am speaking up to say mine is not being respected. Remember all the long threads we have had recently regarding sexism? Mind you I am on the side of less moderated speech in general rather than more, but when it seems some views are more moderated than others, I don't agree.

Again, let me point out I don't really expect change but I did want to be heard and it at least acknowleged why I might feel that way.
posted by konolia at 1:04 PM on February 17, 2008


Turn the other cheek.
posted by jtron at 1:05 PM on February 17, 2008 [22 favorites]


Calling Christians "stupid" or "ignorant" is just, well...that. And it should be flagged, and it should be deleted as if the person were attacking any other religious group. But what I'd really like to say is this:

While I am on my soapbox...I am so sick of these fragile flower feminists Christians who get the vapors when a guy nonbeliever goes into boyzone Christian-bashing behavior. I respect myself. You should respect me, but if you don't, that's your problem, not mine.

The real world is filled with guys atheists who say incredibly stupid, hurtful and sexist anti-Christian things about women Christians in the aggregate. If I let that get to me, I'd be nothing but a shrieking harridan. I would much rather simply laugh and point at them, and go about my business. I don't like it when they stare at my butt denounce my faith, but I'm not going to have a nervous breakdown about it.

And I am certainly not going to take the "boyzone" LOLXTIAN stuff here seriously, as most of what is termed such is just humor and goofing around from people who aren't jerks at all. I mean, what is wrong with "sweater puppies" LOLXTIANS? I save my indignation for real problems.
posted by SassHat at 1:05 PM on February 17, 2008 [86 favorites]


what I am saying is that this place is supposed to be a respectful place for all points of view and I am speaking up to say mine is not being respected.

That's the error, I think. This place is supposed to be a respectful place for all people, but I don't think 'points of view' are to be respected, especially if they're wrong.

I've had my "point of view" disrespected a few times here, but that's just the nature of free speech and discussion.
posted by blenderfish at 1:09 PM on February 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


I could live with tolerating comment one up there but comment two -well let's just say the thought could have been expressed in a better way and leave it at that.

Comment two has already been deleted, so I guess there isn't much reason to go on here, is there?
posted by ssg at 1:09 PM on February 17, 2008


So... are you saying we can call them sweater puppies now, Sasshat? ;-)
posted by konolia at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2008


In practice, though, as someone who agrees with the metafilter majority most of the time, but disagrees some of the time, it kinda does suck to hold a minority opinion here.
posted by blenderfish at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


konolia, you should be impressed that Brian B. is actually listening to popular and respected uber-mega-Christian-superstar Joel Osteen, and not just working off of the HERFDERF LOLXTIANS model of commentary.

I tend to agree with his assessment of the status-driven Osteen Christians, where showing wealth signifies god's blessing. That they have chosen a philosophical path which pollutes their ability to make sound financial choices (leading them to payday lending, the topic of the post we're talking about) shouldn't preclude them from criticism of their behavior or their philosophy.
posted by peacecorn at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


respectful place for all points of view and I am speaking up to say mine is not being respected.

You have this precisely wrong. You can speak up and say that Christians are not as represented in those comments. What you want to do instead, is to impose your viewpoint (in which you idea of the most powerful force in the universe should not be criticized) by censoring criticism of it. This is decidedly NOT equivalent to issues like sexism and racism, and that you think it is goes a long way toward explaining why you started a MetaTalk thread asking for the mods to censor speech on MeFi.

Also, what SassHat said.
posted by OmieWise at 1:11 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hear Hear, Sasshat.
posted by Phire at 1:12 PM on February 17, 2008


what I am saying is that this place is supposed to be a respectful place for all points of view and I am speaking up to say mine is not being respected.

Cuts both ways, though, eh? 'Gay people are sinners' is a point of view that desrves no respect, so is 'Christians are morons'.
posted by jack_mo at 1:14 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Peacecorn, I kinda don't count many of the TV preachers as almost 99 percent of the time they bear no resemblance whatever to the kind of Christianity I know.

But yes, you are right, that other stuff is out there, and it galls me that that is what most people think of when they think of Christianity.
posted by konolia at 1:14 PM on February 17, 2008


No, Konolia, I believe you are. And since that is not a serious concern, I would posit that following your set of rules for feminists, this one is your personal cross to bear and not something we need concern ourselves with as a group.
posted by SassHat at 1:15 PM on February 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


I am so sick of these fragile flower feminists Christians

Um, yeah, I don't want to get too Foucaultian here, but the big difference here is about power.

1. whether we think that paying special attention to the way a particular group is treated is integral to maintaining the type of participation that we claim we are going for here
2. whether the general power dynamics of the culture we live within are skewed towards or against the particular group who is claiming that there is unfair/unequal treatment against them

But seriously, you want to have a slightly different nuanced version of that argument again? Have at it. We delete stupid sweater puppy shit and stupid LOLXIAN shit all the time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:15 PM on February 17, 2008 [10 favorites]


I have a problem with people dissing gays because the gays aren't doing anything wrong, usually, just trying to live their life while being gay. They get shit for just being gay, no matter what they're doing and that's wrong

I don't have a problem with people bashing Christianity (or any religion) when that Christianity is being used to put down other people for inane reasons.

Feed the poor, take care of the sick and help the helpless and quit fucking looking down your nose at others and maybe I'll have some sympathy. Otherwise suck it up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:16 PM on February 17, 2008 [15 favorites]


Well, omiewise, tell me-isn't some speech on this site censored already? If it were up to me NONE of it at all would be censored, and y'all could say anything-but so could I.

It isn't that way here, so why can't I speak up, just like the other groups?
posted by konolia at 1:16 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


[oh I see you DID see that. my personal filter on thsi sort of thing is off today]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:18 PM on February 17, 2008


(BTW thanks for the deletion of the one comment-Jessica, I assume that was you, so thanks-so I'm happy now. )
posted by konolia at 1:19 PM on February 17, 2008


The specifc issue that this was centered around was that you would show up in threads discussing homosexuality and gratuitously interject your opinion that gay people were sinning and/or sinners. This was unacceptable

I'm sorry, but if you're saying things like that and complaining about not being respected, well, that makes you a fucking hypocrite. 'Nuff said.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 1:22 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Konolia: both those comments are talking about ideas, not people. One is saying that the idea of tithing in a money-based society is a form of idolatry, and the other is saying that the Christians' idea of God is an abusive asshole.

That's not hate. That's talking about an idea. If you identify so closely with those ideas that you can't separate them from your own identity, well, that's your problem, not ours.
posted by Malor at 1:22 PM on February 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


Actually, I went to look at it and it was gone, so I'm assuming one of the fellas did it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2008


so why can't I speak up

I don't know, why can't you speak up? Did Matt or Jess or Cortex say "You can't talk about this subect, EVER" ? If so, what's the story behind that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2008


Can't we at least give Jessamyn Sunday off?
posted by astruc at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Matthew 6:5-6 and 14-15 are applicable here, I think, and also the big guy upstairs can probably take care of hisself.
posted by jtron at 1:24 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


This comment? Still seems to be there.
posted by Tenuki at 1:25 PM on February 17, 2008


I'm not Christian, but I am fascinated by religion in general, and as much as I have disagreed with konolia on plenty points in the past, I think that the negative and intolerant attitude toward ALL religions really lowers the discourse here. The acid with which people choose to respond to anything that relates to religion never fails to disturb me, because it's obvious how much baggage people bring into those threads with them, causing them to behave very disrespectfully. It's boring, repetitive, and unattractive. It should be possible to discuss religion and spiritual ideas in appropriate threads without people showing up to flex their forebrains with quips equating faith in God with believing in MAGIC LOL.

I think konolia's presence and contributions are more valuable than many of these other people's, because they demonstrate the diversity of opinion that good conversations live and die by. And I resent that merely being open about one's Christianity, conservatism, paganism, et cetera, is enough to bait people into ridiculing individual members as a way of voicing their pent up regression toward a whole group of people. It takes a lot of restraint and tact to be someone with a minority viewpoint and still contribute.

What made me fall in love with MetaFilter is how challenging it was to constantly be exposed to things way outside of my expertise. I have learned and grown here, and my mind has become more flexible. Entering into such an environment inflexibly, uncharitably, counting on being able to emerge from it unmoved, unchanged, and unchallenged (but maybe having challenged, amused, or inspired others to your point of view) is boorish behavior and the sign of a lazy intellectual. Maybe a lot of people are just here for a laugh and a wank, and that's fine, but the atmosphere has grown incredibly polluted here in some ways, and it's reducing the site's range of interest and usefulness.
posted by hermitosis at 1:26 PM on February 17, 2008 [61 favorites]


Something somehing mote, something something plank.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:31 PM on February 17, 2008 [14 favorites]


Konolia, I don't normally theorize about the motivations of others, I have a hard enough time parsing my own. That said, for some reason, this lazy Sunday afternoon, I can't help but think that you are a little bored, and interested in stirring up the Metafilter community. For some reason, as you wrote your piece, I suspect that in your head you wondered, "How many people are going to respond to this? Can I get over 200 comments?"
I think you already knew that most people weren't going to take kindly to your argument, much less your tone. Are you looking for Christian martyr status? Not cool, girl.
posted by msali at 1:31 PM on February 17, 2008


Let me be Devil's Advocate to hermitosis:

Does the negative and intolerant attitude toward the belief that the plane wouldn't take off lower the discourse here?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:34 PM on February 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure I agree with konolia here, but I think the insinuations that she is somehow being hypocritical are off-base.
posted by grouse at 1:35 PM on February 17, 2008


...it galls me that that is what most people think of when they think of Christianity.

Because if you don't realize that THAT kind of Christians have disproportionate power in the total Community of Christians AND American Society in general, then you are in a state of deeply defensive denial. The best thing you can do for Christianity in general is to not just disregard the False Prophets who call themselves Christians but to oppose them more strongly than us heathens.

And, cross-referencing your recent comment in the MeCha "GOPgle" thread, I never said "evil incarnate". I never say "evil incarnate".
posted by wendell at 1:35 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


I see where you're coming from Konolia, but look at it this way. A burning fire may travel much more quickly than calm waters, but something beautiful will grow from the calm where a fiery rage is only going to destroy.

(Thank you. I'll be composing fortune cookies all week.)
posted by katillathehun at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


what I am saying is that this place is supposed to be a respectful place for all points of view

No, it's not, and I have no idea where you got that. MeFi is one of the least "respectful" places I know; sometimes that can be annoying, but on the whole it's an excellent thing.

Look, konolia, I've defended you more than once against the LOLXIANS squad, and I respect your right to hold your peculiar views. But you really have no business expecting either respect for your views in this crowd or license to spew venom about people who have quite enough other shit to deal with. (And no, your suffering as a Christian on an ungodly site is not even remotely comparable to what gays go through in a homophobic world, in case you're tempted to go there.) When you're not talking about religion and associated matters, you can be quite funny and charming. When you are, you come off as a bigoted ranter. If I were you, I'd avoid occasions to do the latter, but you want to embrace them. Martyr complex?
posted by languagehat at 1:37 PM on February 17, 2008 [10 favorites]


Well, I was a little bored, and recovering from flu, but also feeling a little cranky. And I don't feel like a martyr. (I have met people who have really suffered for their faith...being on Mefi ain't suffering. ) I just hit two comments that yanked my chain in a short period of time, is all.
posted by konolia at 1:37 PM on February 17, 2008


I think that the negative and intolerant attitude toward ALL religions really lowers the discourse here.

I do too, and I've said so frequently enough to bore even myself. But konolia's version of religion is a particularly nasty one; she shouldn't get a pass just because MeFi is hard on religion in general.

Are you looking for Christian martyr status? Not cool, girl.

I had not seen this when I made my "Martyr complex" remark, I swear!
posted by languagehat at 1:39 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Does the negative and intolerant attitude toward the belief that the plane wouldn't take off lower the discourse here?

Are you saying it won't?
posted by hermitosis at 1:42 PM on February 17, 2008


(OTOH if someone wants to make a Mefi Martyr tshirt, I bet it would sell.)
posted by konolia at 1:42 PM on February 17, 2008


MartyrFilter.
posted by wendell at 1:43 PM on February 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


In answer to the question in this threads title: "Yes."
posted by empath at 1:44 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Speaking of unpopular views, is it still okay to write mindless bigoted crap about rich people?
posted by tkolar at 1:45 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


On a linguistic note: Why do people use people's names (or screen names, in this case) more often when they are angry or annoyed at the person?
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:46 PM on February 17, 2008


Well, I was a little bored, and recovering from flu, but also feeling a little cranky.

So presumably it's all right for one of the mods to shut this thread now, then? Since you seem to be implicitly admitting that it was just your personal mood today that drove you to start this, and not really the substance of the issue or your argument?
posted by scody at 1:47 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, I still agree with the substance of the issue. I'm glad I spoke up. I don't feel like a doormat now.
posted by konolia at 1:49 PM on February 17, 2008


(Wendell, this might not be the thread to out me as an evil republican too....)

I never say "evil incarnate

Ha, you just did!
posted by konolia at 1:51 PM on February 17, 2008


I'm not sure I agree with konolia here, but I think the insinuations that she is somehow being hypocritical are off-base.

I'm sorry, but if you're spewing negative things about gays and wondering why your comments are getting flagged and why am I not being respected? What would you call that?

As for the original OP, it seems the comments that bothered you have been removed so what exactly is the problem here?

(Also, sorry if I sound really bitchy and rude about it but being raised by a lesbian this kind of thing REALLY bothers me , especially since I had such a loving wonderful upbringing.)
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 1:52 PM on February 17, 2008


Okay, folks, by the looks of the recent comments, she's snapping out of it, let's back off and give her some breathing room (but knowing this place, this is about the point where it usually gets worse).

And may I TRY to pre-empt an obvious bad snark by saying I'm proud nobody so far has made an "off her meds" comment. Full disclosure: I also have meds and moods and have made comments that I look at and they prompt me to check for missing pills
posted by wendell at 1:53 PM on February 17, 2008


Konolia, every time someone points out a Christian whose statements are positively ridiculous, you say they aren't a Christian as you understand the term. Something very similar happens when we start arguing over specific doctrines. Seriously, it's gotten old.

On a slightly different note: if we add up the Southern Baptists, the LCMS and the WELS, the PCA, and all those megachurch televangelical sects [etc etc], we end up with a pretty decent percentage of the US's Christian population. Over and over again we hear from reasonable, liberal Christians that "they aren't us, don't judge us by their beliefs and behaviors." At what percentage do we get to say, "well, actually, that is what a huge number of self-identified Christians believe, stop trying to pretend they are a tiny, fractional minority--that their beliefs aren't at all indicative of larger, if somewhat more submerged, trends"? Maybe this is just my bitter, "went to Lutheran schools for too damn long"-self talking, I dunno.
posted by hototogisu at 1:54 PM on February 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure I agree with konolia here, but I think the insinuations that she is somehow being hypocritical are off-base.

Maybe. I've tried to ask her (in all politeness and respect) here on this site and elsewhere several pointed questions about how Christianity denegrates gays in its Scripture, how this relates to other matters that seem contradictory, and I've gotten nothing but vague hemming and hawing.

There are other users here (one in particular who I dare not mention his name) who do this sort of thing to get people riled up unnecessarily.

At least in konolia's defense, she seems to do this more out of a sadly obedient sense of piety than in, what is to me worse, the pathetic desire to troll Metafilter's community with non sequitors, passive-aggressive personal attacks and thoughtless devil's advocatry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:54 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


If I hate your religion because your religion commands you to hate me, who suffers?

a) God, in dejection
b) me, in Hell
c) nobody

If you hate me because your religion commands you to hate me, who suffers?

a) me
b) others like me
c) you, when we try to put a stop to it
d) all of the above
posted by Sys Rq at 1:56 PM on February 17, 2008 [18 favorites]



As for the original OP, it seems the comments that bothered you have been removed so what exactly is the problem here?

I just went back there and apparently it is still there. Perhaps it was deleted then the deleter changed his mind? If it WAS deleted, then yes, there would be no problem.
posted by konolia at 1:56 PM on February 17, 2008


I am under no illusion that this is going to change in the foreseeable future but I simply wanted to make it public record that I object. I did finally start flagging posts and will continue to do so. I ask any fairminded people out there to do the same.

Fair enough. You've made it public record and people have heard you.
posted by tkolar at 1:58 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does the negative and intolerant attitude toward the belief that the plane wouldn't take off lower the discourse here?

Are you saying it won't?


I am saying that those who believed the plane wouldn't take off are wrong and their beliefs are met with intolerance.

Similarly, to judge from these numbers and a simplified, high-level view (neglecting schisms within the various groupings presented, neglecting possibly non-mutually exclusive beliefs), at a minimum 2/3 of the world's population are wrong in their religious beliefs.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:58 PM on February 17, 2008


Agreed, scody, I think we could all of us say a little non-committal amen to a vague urge to divinity at the end of this thread under those terms.
posted by DenOfSizer at 1:59 PM on February 17, 2008


What is the issue with Civil Disobedient's comment? We can't denigrate deities? Any deities, or only certain ones?
posted by Greg Nog at 2:00 PM on February 17, 2008



Okay, folks, by the looks of the recent comments, she's snapping out of it, let's back off and give her some breathing room (but knowing this place, this is about the point where it usually gets worse).
Point taken (and a good one at that). Sorry if I sounded snarky to you Konolia. It's difficult but it really must be realized that these are strong subjects that we are talking about here. It really brings up emotions at a base level because we're all talking about our belief system which is what we're made of. I will try to respect and understand your belief system IF and only if you will extend the same courtesy towards me. It's difficult to do but necessary for all of us to attempt to learn and grow (not to mention get along).
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 2:02 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


This gets so tiresome. Just because you woke up on the wrong side of the bed doesn't require you to use metafilter for a rant. You really should get your own blog (and use it).
posted by gtr at 2:03 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you think that was a rant you haven't been on Metafilter very long. I don't deserve to tie the shoelaces of some of the ranters round these parts.
posted by konolia at 2:06 PM on February 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


I R Christian.

That said, I've just come to expect a demeaning, derogatory or disrespectful posts towards anything concerning Christianity or God when I read posts that invite such commentary (I.E. anything having to do with religion or that might draw in religion as a topic). It isn't a reflection on Metafilter, but on at least a small minority of folks who post here. If what they're saying boils down to insult, I ignore it. If its at least based on some kind of rational thought, I might step in and offer my own words to counter. But I don't believe my identity as a Christian is under assault by such posts. I typically feel sorry for the people who make them, as often they seem to have a lot of anger behind them and such anger usually has a source.

Frankly put, and unfortunately, the Christians most visible to the public cast its followers in a reactive and harsh light. This is the Christianity that a lot of people develop antipathy towards and that builds walls that keep people from learning more about the Faith. So in reality, a lot of the LOLXtians comments are not just the product of one person, but of a Christian or Christians who helped reinforce the negativity of that view.

The best thing that we other Christians can do is to offer perspectives and viewpoints that build bridges, not barriers. There's a reason Christian missionaries generally don't try and preach when they go out to help people, because they hope their actions will speak for themselves. Thats always been my hope in my posts that concern my faith. Rather than be angry at dismissive or disrespectful posts, I simply try to show that the angry stereotype they're attacking is just that, an angry stereotype.

My apologies for the length of this ramble.
posted by Atreides at 2:07 PM on February 17, 2008 [22 favorites]


Konolia is pretty awesome, actually. She has been a real stand-up anti-racist in some pretty difficult situations. I suppose I've become accustomed to working with people who support some of my views and not others (lots of anti-war Muslim "moderates" who probably oppose homosexuality) and in my experience building links/dialogue with such people is far more effective and fruitful than making snarky remarks at them/shutting them down.

When one does have controversial views, it's very important strategically not to threaten the dominant view-holding group when expressing them, though.
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:09 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just adding a citation for anyone who might view Sasshat's comment early in the thread as harsh or dismissive and may not be aware of what prompted it.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:10 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure I agree with konolia here, but I think the insinuations that she is somehow being hypocritical are off-base.

This is one of the real problems with the MeFi "memory hole"... I remember numerous occasions which I considered her posts to be extremely venomous and hateful toward gay people, but now can't point to any examples, because they've been removed.

So, yes, I think she's being hypocritical...she demands respect for abstract ideas, and posts Metas when her sacred beliefs are described in less-than-flattering terms.... but won't herself offer the same respect to actual people.

If being gay is a choice, choosing to be Christian most certainly is. Apparently, it's okay for her to claim that gays are sinners and will burn, but it's not okay for other people to say her ideas are medieval and strange.

From my perspective, she's standing atop the Ivory Tower of Hypocrisy with a fifty-foot megaphone.
posted by Malor at 2:11 PM on February 17, 2008 [14 favorites]


konolia, my sister:

That stuff bothers me, too. It seems to me that a lot of our fellow MeFites try awfully hard to be fair-minded to most points of view, but don't even bother when it comes to certain groups, and Christians are one of those groups. Otherwise discerning people spout the most ignorant and specious nonsense about Christian origins and beliefs. Otherwise gracious people assume that the worst Christian behavior they've encountered is standard operating procedure.

Now, you and I know better. We're insiders. We know that most preachers are borderline poor and knew going into seminary that riches didn't lie in their future. We know that church leaders are usually on the road to burn-out from dealing with a never-ending succession of hard-luck cases. We know all about the soup kitchens and homeless shelters and medical clinics that are staffed solely by volunteer Christians who are trying their best to emulate the one who came "not to be served, but to serve."

And we certainly know that "pedantic invisible sky-man" is the crudest caricature of the God we have encountered through deep engagement with the scriptures and the community of faith.

But here's the thing--Christianity in America got way off track. Not all of it, probably not even most. But the most visible part. Some grasped for power, even in the name of their Lord who willingly exchanged strength for weakness. Some sought to impose their will through legislation, even though Christ warned not to Lord it over people like the pagan rulers did. Some decided to gather up as much wealth as possible. They built mansions and tennis courts with money given to honor a homeless Lord who warned about storing up treasure on Earth.

Now, if you're like me, you know more Christians that reject that path than you do Christians who have gone along with it. But I can't deny that the public face of Christianity in the U.S.--I can't speak for other countries--is power-hungry and greedy in a way that is completely counter to the way of Christ.

The behaviors that our fellow MeFites so crudely rail against are, in general, the same things that caused Jesus to knock tables over and start castigating the hypocrites of his day. And even though it pains me some because they are painting with too broad a brush, in the end I think that recognizing greed and hypocrisy and standing against it honors Jesus more than it tarnishes him.

I would like it if the blasphemy were toned down a bit, but I think the way to get there is for the church in the Western world to renounce the temptations to be comfortable, powerful and impressive (the same three temptations Jesus rejected) and to be so obviously on the side of justice, mercy and love that our critics couldn't gain any traction. You remember the passage in 1 Peter that says:

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

It starts with us. When the church is known more for humility than power, more for love than hate, and more for gentleness than anger, then non-Christians might start to be ashamed of the way they've been speaking about those selfless folks who seem to always have an open hand for those in need. But we aren't there right now, and I think that this is a moment in time when it's probably better for us to wince a little and really listen carefully to what the outsiders are saying. Sometimes it's a dagger, but often it's a mirror.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:13 PM on February 17, 2008 [177 favorites]


konolia writes "what I am saying is that this place is supposed to be a respectful place for all points of view"

I don't think it is. There isn't much in the way of fake "balance" here like you see other places where the guys sharpening razor blades with pyramids are given equal time as scientist saying pyramids don't do much of anything to razor blades. Opinions backed by hard fact are given more weight than those backed by faith.

languagehat writes "No, it's not, and I have no idea where you got that. MeFi is one of the least 'respectful' places I know; sometimes that can be annoying, but on the whole it's an excellent thing."

Exactly. Say something stupid, foolish or ignorant and MetaFites are going to call you on it.

konolia writes "Peacecorn, I kinda don't count many of the TV preachers as almost 99 percent of the time they bear no resemblance whatever to the kind of Christianity I know.

"But yes, you are right, that other stuff is out there, and it galls me that that is what most people think of when they think of Christianity."


Well there is no doubt Christianity has a serious brand identity problem but I'm not sure how Metafilter is supposed to fix that. Each one of these groups claims to have the one true way and self identifies as Christian. Those who don't have faith in one of the one true ways have little data with which to differentiate.

Also this isn't a Christianity thing, no religion gets a pass. It's just that MetaFilter is unfortunately quite US centric and Christianity is the NudgeNudge, WinkWink state religion down there. So postings touching on it come up fairly often in comparison to say Buddism or Sikhism.
posted by Mitheral at 2:16 PM on February 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


But we aren't there right now, and I think that this is a moment in time when it's probably better for us to wince a little and really listen carefully to what the outsiders are saying. Sometimes it's a dagger, but often it's a mirror.

That is actually a large part of why I am here. It's too easy to be insular and forget that how we see ourselves and how we are actually seen are all too often two different things.
posted by konolia at 2:16 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


konolia, maybe if you spent more time reading your bible and less time courting controversy on MetaFilter, you wouldn't find yourself in such a snit. Start with 2nd Corinthians 6, maybe:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Harsh medicine, maybe. But you'll thank me on Judgment Day.
posted by felix betachat at 2:18 PM on February 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, but if you're spewing negative things about gays and wondering why your comments are getting flagged and why am I not being respected? What would you call that?

Hmmm, although Holy foxy moxie batman was responding to her past anti-gay comments, I was thinking more of the people who were bringing up her previous dismissal of a melodramatic callout and departure, of which this is neither.

But even focusing only on comments against homosexuals, I think it goes something like this:
  1. Konolia repeatedly calls homosexuals sinners or worse. Others repeatedly call theists stupid.
  2. She is called out, says she should be able to speak her mind on this.
  3. The mods tell konolia not to discuss homosexuality at all, ever.
  4. She then says that if that subject is banned, then can't we curtail the name-calling against theists?
To me, it looks like konolia is asking for what she thinks is a level playing field*, not that anti-theist comments should be banned and that anti-gay comments should be allowed, which would be hypocrisy.

She doesn't understand, perhaps, why these two types of comments are fundamentally different. But I think the response to that should be an explanation of why (as jessamyn has done) rather than calling it hypocrisy.

* For the avoidance of doubt, I am not arguing that this would be a level playing field.
posted by grouse at 2:19 PM on February 17, 2008


I'm glad I spoke up. I don't feel like a doormat now.

Right. So now that you feel all better -- not that that's actually what MeTa is here for, but never mind that for now -- there's no point to this thread being open.

I am under no illusion that this is going to change in the foreseeable future but I simply wanted to make it public record that I object. I did finally start flagging posts and will continue to do so.

So...since you admit that you don't think that your post would actually change anything, evidently you just wanted to announce that you have decided to utilize a feature on the site that was implemented ages ago for precisely the reasons you allude to? Well! That will certainly show...somebody!

In other words: you just wanted some attention. Well, mission accomplished.

On preview: konolia, you owe a big thank you to Pater Aletheias. He may have just redeemed your hornblowing, self-serving thread.

On second preview:
That is actually a large part of why I am here. It's too easy to be insular and forget that how we see ourselves and how we are actually seen are all too often two different things.

*sigh* No one is so blind as (s)he who will not see.
posted by scody at 2:19 PM on February 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


I just have to ask Konolia the simple question that really should have been asked to begin with. Who hasn't been offended on Metafilter? I get offended on a daily basis and I probably offend people on a daily basis and that's that. Another post begins and those people that offended you one post will probably stand behind your ideas on another. It's like death and taxes, it's inevitable. You will be pissed when you read Metafilter. Other times, you will laugh. No need to make a big thing out of it, it happens.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 2:23 PM on February 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


As I learned the other day, there's nothing wrong with being bigoted against Christians, since they're the dominant majority in my country.

I hate Christians, and I wish they would all leave this site and never return! That felt good.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:25 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I understand where Konolia is coming from. As the daughter and mother of people who hold their religious beliefs close to their hearts, and having a dear friend of 40+ years who can't help but informing them that their belief in a benevolent/vengeful ghost is the cause of all the world's problems, I have been walking this tightrope for a long time(some fun at holidays,etc).

Proselytising and LOLXTIAN animosity are verbal equilalents to me, more about the self satisfied spewer than those it is meant for, and not really discourse at all.
posted by readery at 2:31 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll note that I support that when it's not a derail, konolia should be allowed to post her hateful comments about homosexuality.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:37 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


...to the best of my knowledge I was never rude or hateful...

For what it's worth, I've generally found your writing hateful and rude when I've read it in contentious threads. Not that you're alone there, but your name does leap to my mind first when I think of hateful text.
posted by Shutter at 2:40 PM on February 17, 2008


Christian doctrine teaches that all humanity is one's brothers and sisters, not merely believers. A little hyperbolic perhaps.
Well, actually it does not. But this isn't the place to get into that in this thread.


And that is, I think, about all that needs to be said about konolia.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:42 PM on February 17, 2008 [12 favorites]


In practice, though, as someone who agrees with the metafilter majority most of the time, but disagrees some of the time, it kinda does suck to hold a minority opinion here.

Some opinions are worthy of respect. Others are not. Of the latter, ones that are contrary to basic fact are especially odious and there is simply not the least need to accord them a speck of respect.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:45 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


konolia, I wanted to say that even as someone who needles you about religion occasionally, I do actually sympathize. I was a fundamentalist of almost exactly the same vein you are (much of what you write could have come word-for-word from my mom) until I was 18, and I think I understand how the comments you've pointed out affect you. They really going beyond criticism or my occasional low-level jokey mean-spiritedness on into meaningless bile.

I'm not sure there's a good answer for you as a matter of principle, though. The particular brand of religion you and I used to share has hurt countless people over the past five centuries, and regardless of whether you care to admit it, continues to ascribe a sort of subhuman status to various people who do not at all deserve it. Unfairly, ignorant individuals use it as a justification for a lot of other - far more vicious - hatemongering that is expressly not part of your beliefs, but often appears that way to its victims.

This does not exactly inspire love in them.

While it may not be your fault, this mistaken belief that said out-and-out hatemongering represents you is something you are going to have to factor into your assessment of how people react to you (if you aren't already doing so, which only you would know about). It has and will continue to inspire enormous outrage, even if only a fraction of that outrage is actually justified.

I'm not sure what else to say, really, other than that I really respect you for toughing it out here even while being dead certain that you're wrong. I don't think your post will change the attitude of the site, but I understand your needing to get it off your chest.
posted by Ryvar at 2:52 PM on February 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


Proselytising and LOLXTIAN animosity are verbal equilalents to me, more about the self satisfied spewer than those it is meant for, and not really discourse at all.

Right. In this setting, the "man in the sky" comments are not about debate or even anger at Christianity. It's shooting from behind bulletproof glass. It's bullying by a majority against people who are a minority here.

I'd lump the abusive comments about Paris Hilton, Britney, etc into this category too. The feigned moral outrage is usually nothing but an excuse to pick on someone unpopular. The commenter feels "brave" enough to say whatever he wants, no matter how horrible, knowing that there's a mob standing behind him, ready to jump on anyone who disagrees.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:54 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can see where konolia's coming from; I see this all the time with posts about Islam. The Charmin Burqa thread is a good example. For some reason, many Mefites equate Islam with "fundie Taliban burqa wearers", while my experience with Islam is so completely different. Islam also has a branding problem, but the differences are so vast across the world that all the misconceptions are way off-base - yet for some reason, Islam culture = Middle East culture.

I flag some of the more off-base comments, the ones that come out of deeply rooted racism more than anything else, but I'm often too scared to speak up because (a) I'd look like a hypocrite (I don't consider myself Muslim anymore for other reasons and (b) as hermitosis mentioned upthread, the anti-religious sentiment here is just way too strong.
posted by divabat at 2:54 PM on February 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


On a linguistic note: Why do people use people's names (or screen names, in this case) more often when they are angry or annoyed at the person?

It's a tactic to make them self-conscious, which tends to curtail bad behavior. Same thing that's at work here, I think (ignore the bad writing, this was the first cite I could find and it matches what I recall):
(Duval and Wickland study, 1972) -- Self-Awareness Theory -- When something draws attention to you, it increases your self-awareness and causes you to become aware of your shortcomings (discrepancies between what you are and what you would like to be).

Another study that had to do with self-awareness was done on little kids trick-or-treating... They left bowls of candy out on the porch with a sign that said "Take One." Of course, most of the kids took the whole bowl. Then they tried the same situation, but with a mirror behind the bowl so that the kids had to watch their own behavior--Most of the kids in that situation only took one! They found out that mirrors are a way to keep people honest, because they don't want to watch themselves behaving badly. That's also why department stores have those mirrors all over the store...to prevent shoplifting.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:56 PM on February 17, 2008 [11 favorites]


that said, anti-gay bigotry is absolutely wrong, and cloaking it in religion makes it even worse.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:56 PM on February 17, 2008


Some opinions are worthy of respect. Others are not. Of the latter, ones that are contrary to basic fact are especially odious and there is simply not the least need to accord them a speck of respect.

This is true, and pretty much what I stated a couple posts above the post you quoted.
However, in practice, when you disagree with the majority on metafilter, it gets very difficult to develop any kind of coherent argument, because for every post you make you have, you get eight people replying, many with misunderstandings, willful misinterpretations, false projections of your beliefs, or ad hominem attacks. If you stick around, you're spread hopelessly thin, but if you leave, you're thread shitting.

And "contrary to basic fact" is in the eye of the beholder, especially when discussing anything non-trivial about the humanities. I wouldn't even, for example, say that, on the whole, Christianity is "contrary to basic fact." I would say it is "unsupported by basic facts."
posted by blenderfish at 2:59 PM on February 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


Frankly put, and unfortunately, the Scientologists most visible to the public cast its followers in a reactive and harsh light. This is the Scientology that a lot of people develop antipathy towards and that builds walls that keep people from learning more about the Faith. So in reality, a lot of the LOLScientologist comments are not just the product of one person, but of a Scientologist or Scientologists who helped reinforce the negativity of that view.

----

I can see where konolia's coming from; I see this all the time with posts about Scientology. The Tom Cruise thread is a good example. For some reason, many Mefites equate Scientology with "fundie celebrity couch jumpers", while my experience with Scientology is so completely different.

posted by ludwig_van at 3:00 PM on February 17, 2008


OK, we've done gender, we've done race, I guess we were overdue for completing the trifecta.

I'll just say a couple of things. Even though I'm very strongly against some of konolia's moral positions, she's never been anything but decent to me personally. And her views on other issues (such as racism as BFTGOG mentioned) are downright standup and courageous. I've met my share of fundamentalists both the foaming at the mouth kind and the soft-soap megachurch kind as well) and most of them try to convert you within a few minutes of meeting you, like it's their way of saying 'hello.' konolia on the other hand has heard me graphically talk about my own unapologetic drunkenness, fornication, porn-loving, bisexuality, pot-smoking, gluttony, coke-snorting, thievery and countless other offenses that probably have me on the express train to hell and she hasn't so much as emailed me a tract, which I have to admit is a blessed anomaly. So there's that. And her fundamental decency on certain issues is kind of what makes her a compelling person to me. Plenty of people are homophobic and use religion as an excuse, but that dosen't seem to be where she's coming from. If Jesus came to her house and said 'konolia, gay people are A-OK!' I bet she'd breathe a sigh of relief, which is why I keep trying to point her towards people like Bruce Bawer who've managed to reconcile rejecting homophobia with maintaining their faith.And I will add that I'm not expecting any gay people who are directly in the path of the homophobia do the same. Let me worry about that.

Like a lot of people here, I find religious fundamentalism to be tiresome, restrictive and sometimes dangerous. But I could say the same thing about a lot of doctrinaire political ideologues of just about any stripe and for the same reason: they seem to have to run every little thing though the prism of their 'ism,' rather than make up their own minds and they seem to want everybody else to do the same. In short, they can't seem to deal with letting people find their own way. OTOH, like all these ideologies, there's a lot that's good in Christianity. Many pagans, skeptics and athiests I've known have read the Bible and will tell you that there's plenty of wisdom and poetry in it and I've been enriched by plenty of art, music and philosophy that's been directly inspired by Christianity, so I don't think the baby should get thrown out with the bathwater.

Lastly, there's plenty of people here who have legitamite gripes with right-wing fundies. So do I. Konolia is the most visible Christian on this site, so she bears the brunt of a lot of that anger, which I think is a little unfair since she seems to be a more complicted character than that.

Carry on.
posted by jonmc at 3:07 PM on February 17, 2008 [22 favorites]


Homophobes' opinions are no more worthy of respect than that of pedophiles or white-supremacists.
posted by signal at 3:09 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


IMHO, it's fine to diss gods and religions, but not fine to diss people. "Christianity is dangerous and/or stupid" is not even in the same league, ballpark or sport as "gays are sinners".

I haven't checked, but neither of those flagged posts is worthy of deletion.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 3:14 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think, among other differences, that Scientology is not a faith, per se. Its leaders and founder wouldn't have kept it alive if they didn't make money. You can find parallels with the worldly Renaissance church, or to the modern televangelists, but that certainly wasn't the whole point, as I gather from Operation Clambake.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 3:16 PM on February 17, 2008


I don't understand the touchiness--if someone calls me a stupid, heathen buddhist, what's it to me? If someone calls the buddha a mythical impotent old man, what's it to me? I don't get why people are so touchy about what other's say about what they believe. I mean if there's some danger of actually being killed or disenfranchised for your beliefs, okay. But some weirdoes on the internet, who gives damn?
posted by milarepa at 3:18 PM on February 17, 2008 [11 favorites]


signal: Homophobes' opinions are no more worthy of respect than...

So, for example, if someone who has been widely accused of being bigoted against blacks, the obese, and women were to say to you "hey, I think I've discovered the mechanism by which organisms convey their traits to their young," you would tell him to fuck off?

Just a hypothetical example.
posted by blenderfish at 3:19 PM on February 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Like a lot of people here, I find religious fundamentalism to be tiresome, restrictive and sometimes dangerous.

For you, it's sometimes dangerous. For me and mine, it is always dangerous. Always and everywhere.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:21 PM on February 17, 2008 [10 favorites]


Scientology is a very different beast from mainstream fundamentalist Christianity. The Bible makes very few *hard* claims that can be out-and-out flatly contradicted by our evidence at hand.

Scientology's basic religious text contains so many obvious and glaring factual fallacies to any person with the least bit of scientific education that it absolutely cannot be taken seriously as a system of belief.

Christianity passively discriminates against many types of people who are not believers. Scientology actively persecutes people who speak it out against it. They wrote the book on legal barratry.

Christianity asks for, but does not demand donations. The salvation they claim to offer is as expensive as you choose to make it. Scientology actively requires ten of thousands in donations from its members and destroys lives. They sell their religion.

I find little to like in the major religions, but Scientology as a system of belief lies in another realm entirely and deserves nothing but the purest contempt. It is not a matter of 'fundamentalism'. The core religion is broken.
posted by Ryvar at 3:21 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Homophobes' opinions are no more worthy of respect than that of pedophiles

To be fair, the latter do know which playgrounds are the coolest.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:27 PM on February 17, 2008 [9 favorites]


*Flags self, imposes time out*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


For you, it's sometimes dangerous. For me and mine, it is always dangerous. Always and everywhere.

dnab, just for not hating you and yours (and for having joined in on occasion), to hardcore fundies, I'm as damned as you. So, that's a pointless exercise.
posted by jonmc at 3:30 PM on February 17, 2008



I don't understand the touchiness--if someone calls me a stupid, heathen buddhist, what's it to me? If someone calls the buddha a mythical impotent old man, what's it to me? I don't get why people are so touchy about what other's say about what they believe.


I could be way off here, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that no one likes to have their belief system poked at. I don't know of many people on Metafilter that are going to call buddha a mythical impotent old man, so I don't think you have to spend much of your time defending him on this website.

Christianity has many many holes in my opinion and it's based purely on faith. When you get a group of smart and savvy (like you mefites) together in one spot it's really easy to shoot down something based purely on faith with no science to back it up. That may be why so many people get touchy about it. I know how hard I've been on followers of this religion because I strongly detest it. I'm just one person and I try to keep it toned down. Think of all the people that don't tone it down.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 3:33 PM on February 17, 2008


The Bible makes very few *hard* claims that can be out-and-out flatly contradicted by our evidence at hand.

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Wrong. Earth was created 10 billion years after the universe began as is presently understood.

"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Wrong. There was no water when earth was created out of instellar dust obviously.

"Then God said, Let there be light: and there was light." Wrong. The earth could not have been created before the sun.

etc.
posted by dydecker at 3:34 PM on February 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


dnab, just for not hating you and yours (and for having joined in on occasion), to hardcore fundies, I'm as damned as you. So, that's a pointless exercise.

Indeed trying to decide who receives more ire from fundamentalists is irrelevant, but fundamentalism is always dangerous. For instance, to the children of fundamentalists.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:37 PM on February 17, 2008


I could be way off here, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that no one likes to have their belief system poked at.

Of course no one likes it, but I don't see why people get so touchy about it.
posted by milarepa at 3:40 PM on February 17, 2008


That's beside the point, ludwig_van, I was more irked about dnab's 'I'm the most persecuted, therefore anyone else's ideas are to be dismissed' which is a nice instance of proving that being holier-than-thou is not rectricted to the religious.
posted by jonmc at 3:41 PM on February 17, 2008



Of course no one likes it, but I don't see why people get so touchy about it.

What I said in the rest of that statement maybe?
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 3:43 PM on February 17, 2008


Of course no one likes it, but I don't see why people get so touchy about it.

Because some people are so invested in not just the message but the system built around the message, that any tiny nudge to change one's belief becomes a scary overhaul of their entire life.

I'm not explaining well.

Let's see. Okay, it's one thing to casually say you believe in God, maybe sometimes make Sunday service if you don't over sleep and go to holiday mass. Someone else coming in and saying, "Your God sucks," isn't going to be a tremendous blow because God is not tremendous to you. But to a person who lives and breathes God, who celebrates everyday in meaningful ways, and embraces the teaching as a lifestyle guide, then someone knocking that belief is a more powerful blow. The disrespect has more impact because you're calling into question their very foundation.

But whatever. I have no tears for someone who asks for respect given to her belief and way of life who can't and won't give it to someone else for theirs. Sinner, indeed.
posted by FunkyHelix at 3:50 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was more irked about dnab's 'I'm the most persecuted, therefore anyone else's ideas are to be dismissed' which is a nice instance of proving that being holier-than-thou is not rectricted to the religious.

What the hell, jonmc? That's not what he was saying at all, he was saying that as a gay man he feels particularly threatened by fundamentalist religion. Shouldn't he? Or shouldn't he say so, for fear of offending people?

From a wonderful novel I'm reading (jonmc, I think you'd like it), The Book of Ebenezer Le Page: "As I have said before, I don't like people who preach. They put themselves on a pedestal and make out what they say is according to the Will of God and what anybody else think different is of the Devil. I like a chap who say straight out what he think at the moment, and don't care a bugger if he is right or wrong."
posted by languagehat at 3:54 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


And I will add that I'm not expecting any gay people who are directly in the path of the homophobia do the same. Let me worry about that.

Damn, jonmc. Thank you.
posted by rtha at 3:57 PM on February 17, 2008


dydecker: in all those things, there is significant wiggle-room - ie, the Big Bang was God's method of creating the universe. The specific wording of the Bible leaves it open to a LOT of similar rationalizations that cannot be 100% disproven.

Scientology makes hard, disprovable assertions - the first one that leaps to mind is that the basic age of the universe they claim (trillions of years) is flatly contradicted by cosmic microwave background radiation.
posted by Ryvar at 3:57 PM on February 17, 2008


What the hell, jonmc? That's not what he was saying at all, he was saying that as a gay man he feels particularly threatened by fundamentalist religion. Shouldn't he?

You'll notice that he said it in response to me saying that I felt threatened by it, too. He basically said 'I feel even more threatened!' When did it become a contest? and does his feeling threatened make hing threatened make him any less full of shit anybody else (including you and me)?

I like a chap who say straight out what he think at the moment, and don't care a bugger if he is right or wrong.

Amen. dnab did just that and I'm doing the same.
posted by jonmc at 4:01 PM on February 17, 2008


dydecker: in all those things, there is significant wiggle-room - ie, the Big Bang was God's method of creating the universe. The specific wording of the Bible leaves it open to a LOT of similar rationalizations that cannot be 100% disproven.

OK, I will admit. I was raised in a religion free household. However, I have been told by many christians that you must take the bible in a literal sense. You aren't really supposed to interpret the bible to fit your life. I'm not attacking you, I'm really just wondering if saying there is a lot of wiggle-room in the bible isn't a cop out.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 4:02 PM on February 17, 2008


that was only the first 3 lines! I didn't get to the living to 936 year old bits even
posted by dydecker at 4:04 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Holy foxy moxie batman!:

Before I became an atheist, I HEAVILY plumbed the depths of 'Creation Science' - it is breathtaking, in a sad sort of way, how adroit they are at conjuring explanations that leave a tiny window open for Biblical literalism.

God created the Heavens and the Earth? Sure, but it doesn't say HOW he did it. Could have been the Big Bang.

God created everything in 7 days? Sure, but how does an omnitemporal God measure time? Nowhere in Genesis does it say when God created time, so we have no authority to say that time has always been consistent.

etc. etc. ad nauseum. There are a few exceptions, but *generally speaking* much of the Bible can be rationalized on a word-for-word basis, if one is willing to grant an overabundance of benefit of the doubt. It's one of the reasons the religion persists even amongst very smart people.
posted by Ryvar at 4:10 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn, jonmc. Thank you.

you're welcome. and what I ultimately meant was that the whole process of changing prejudices is a multi-pronged thing. Yes, we obviously have to change all the legalities and call out bigotry for what it is. But that's only part of the battle. We can make all the laws and yell 'that's bigoted!' all we want, but until we actually figure out how bigotry happens and look at how bigoted people get that way, all we'll have is a politely ordered society of people who hate and fear eachother.

Malcolm X once said something along the lines of "the best thing white people can do to fight racism is to go into their own communities and try and change the modes of thinking there." Well, I'm in a position to do just that and I'm trying. And when dealing with a casual bigot (and yes, konolia, I just called you a bigot, don't take it personally, I still like you and I've rarely met anyone 100% free of bigotry of some sort, including myself), I've found that a 'c'mon, you know better than that...' approach is more effective that finger-pointing accusations. Although, I definitely agree with the anger behind the accusation.
posted by jonmc at 4:12 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


dydecker: Sure, but if there is a God (which cannot be disproven), isn't he free to interfere with aging?

There's actually this massive pile of bullshit built up around the idea that the cause for Noah's flood was some huge 'water vapor canopy' which blocked UV and thus helped reduce aging.

. . . Goddamn. Fuck you for making me remember all this crap.
posted by Ryvar at 4:13 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you think that was a rant you haven't been on Metafilter very long. I don't deserve to tie the shoelaces of some of the ranters round these parts.
posted by konolia


Correct. Your rants are tedious, repetitive, hypocritical nonsense. Which is why, as I said before, they belong on your blog.
posted by gtr at 4:14 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's kind of redundant at this point, but I'll retread some already-trodden ground:

konolia has always seemed to me like a very fine and reasonable person, at least post-bunnyfire era. I don't recall seeing her say anything in condemnation of homosex, so I can't comment on that, but otherwise, she has always seemed to be good people.

In the same way as I am (to put it mildly) unfond of America the nation, particularly as instantiated by its government and oligarchies, but am very fond indeed of many American people, I am (to put it mildly) unfond of Christianity (as instantiated by its churches and its history), though I have met some Christians (but by no means a majority, it must be said) who represent through their actions in the world the best of what that particular set of beliefs have to offer, and who seem to be fine people. I have met many Americans and many Christians I thought to be fine people regardless of either their nationality or their religion, just as I have met many people from both tribes who I did not care for at all, again, regardless of their tribe.

By drawing those distinctions, I'm trying to get to a point, one well-stated above by blenderfish: This place is supposed to be a respectful place for all people, but I don't think 'points of view' are to be respected, especially if they're wrong.

We ought -- and not, I'd mention in passing, because of a law handed down by any deity or patriarch -- to afford other people a degree of respect, particularly when they disagree with us, because that's when it's most difficult to maintain communication. The arguments and even beliefs (if they are not being forced upon us against our will) of others we are under no need to afford anything but skepticism and critical analysis, because that's what we should always do. It makes us better. We should expect, even demand, in civilized discourse, no matter how heated it may get, that others will do the same, and hope that they do, because dialogue and analysis of our own ideas makes them stronger, even if we find we must relinquish some of them as a result.

But in comes a difficult line to tread, because many people, when it comes to ideas, identify so closely with their beliefs and ideas that it is difficult for them to separate themselves from those beliefs to look at them objectively, and an attack on those ideas, or even laughter or scorn or gentle ribbing, can be perceived as an attack on the person. This is not in any way unusual, not is it such a great failing -- I think most people are like that.

When our beliefs are also those held by a community of similar believers, and so perhaps less examined than they might otherwise be, and when there is a tribal element that develops -- us who believe this vs. those others who don't -- then the confusion between the fruitful clash of ideas and the destructive clash between people begins to overlap even further.

Because so many of us have, with varying degrees of independent thought or tribal orthodoxy, come to our conclusions about religion, and about Christianity in particular, the 'discussion' often (but by no means always) jumps right over the 'clash of ideas' phase and straight into the acrimony, which is often, and often rightly, perceived as direct, personal antagonism, especially by those on the receiving end, which at Metafilter, is the Christian contingent (or at least those who publically identify as such).

So, what? Well, I'd suggest that there is much to be gained from people who have relatively fixed ideas on both end of the spectrum to challenge each others' ideas about religion, to give as good as they get (as good, I say, not as bad), to be mindful that even if someone is wrong (by your lights) that doesn't necessarily make them a bad person and deserving of attacks or scorn. They may well be a bad person, but the only way if you believe them to be is to present your ideas in such a way that they are so overwhelmingly obviously correct that the 'bad person' in question might be swayed to reconsider their position.

This is one of the things that makes us human.

Christians often find that there are many unbelievers who refuse to listen and talk with an open mind, and unbelievers often find that there are Christians who similarly refuse. There is a certain point at which attempting to engage those people is a matter of diminishing returns, but maintaining some degree of respect for the person, even if we disagree, means at least that people can agree to disagree, and at best, help each other reach a clearer understanding of what they themselves believe and why.

Not that we need to be po-faced professional debaters, by any means. Making fun of beliefs and ideas is part of the fun of the whole thing -- making fun of people, not so much.

In conclusion, San Diemas Football Rules I actually don't think that the comments that were mentioned, which said, effectively 'Christianity is idolatry' and 'God is an asshole' are out of line. The points being made could certainly have been made with more aplomb, in the context of a greater argument, but they neither attack konolia or any other person as a person: they push back against certain beliefs. And other than the crudity of the second, I see nothing wrong with them.

Apologies for the EB-esque disquisition. Somebody's gotta do it!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:19 PM on February 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Er, San Diemas Football Rules
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:22 PM on February 17, 2008


No, no, I liked your original better.
posted by Ryvar at 4:30 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Christian doctrine teaches that all humanity is one's brothers and sisters, not merely believers.
We are The Adam's Family !
posted by hortense at 4:32 PM on February 17, 2008


stavros, I actually scrolled down after the first few sentences to see if EB had returned.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:35 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


if there is a God (which cannot be disproven), isn't he free to interfere with aging?

I guess so. He's omnipowerful so I guess he can do anything. And that would explain any claim the Bible makes. But wouldn't a scientologist say the same about Xenu? As a truth claim, 74 millions Thetans dropping into a volcano and then clinging to our bodies forever after is no less likely than a virgin giving birth to a baby god.
posted by dydecker at 4:36 PM on February 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't deserve to tie the shoelaces of some of the ranters round these parts.

You wouldn't WANT to tie the shoelaces of some of the ranters round here. If I recall, that is Dante's seventeenth circle of Hell.

Of course, I know from konolia's own comments here that she believes in the "kinder, gentler" version of Hell, not the fire and brimstone and eternal punishment and pain, but simply eternal isolation from the Holy Spirit, aka oblivion and nothingness (I hope I'm not misstating your position, but it's that lack of emphasis on Biblical Literality that I do like). For those of us who do not expect any afterlife, that's really a no-lose situation - I wouldn't be any worse off after death than I expect to be. But when I consider that an afterlife is possible, regardless of religious basis, then it gets interesting - because if our Human Spirits outlive our Human Bodies on some spiritual plane that gives us access to a Higher Level of Understanding (even if it's not quite Ultimate Truth), at a time when it is no longer possible physically to do anything with it - well, there's your self-imposed Judgment Day, or as I imagine it, The Eternal D'oh! And those of us who have lived our lives in a state of Perpetual Regret will be the best prepared for it (which gives guilt-heavy faiths like Judaism and Catholicism a leg up - not to mention pessimists, cynics and emo kids) . I really should start MY own religion: The Church of Perpetual Regret. Yeah, people will be flocking to THAT. Did I just derail this thread into the Hereafter?
posted by wendell at 4:44 PM on February 17, 2008


dydecker: I don't really dispute that part of Scientology because it's not outright disprovable. I cannot *prove* there aren't thousands of Thetan spirits clinging to my body right now.

I *can* prove in a reasonably straightforward manner that the Universe was a singularity around 13.5 billion years ago. The Bible doesn't make an exact claim to the age of the universe. Scientology does, and it's directly falsifiable.

Do you understand the difference I'm getting at?
posted by Ryvar at 4:46 PM on February 17, 2008


We are The Adam's Family !

Addams. Two 'd's.'

*banishes hortense from the family estate*
posted by jonmc at 4:52 PM on February 17, 2008


2) Fuck off

She may have fucked up beliefs, but she has earned her place as part of this community and deserves to be treated as such and not be used an excuse to make lazy, vicious attacks.
posted by cillit bang at 4:52 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


We are The Adam's Family !

Addams. Two 'd's.'

*banishes hortense from the family estate*


NOOOOOOO!!!!111!!!!

Adam's. Like, you know... ADAM. And Eve. Adam.

I've read this whole thread without getting upset, but missing an obvious joke just pisses me right off!
posted by The Deej at 4:56 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hate-mongering* Christian crusaders toe-to-toe with the South Park republican "invisible skyman" crowd looks pretty much like an Alien Vs. Predator scenario to me. Someone wake me when a tiny konolia pops out of dydecker's chest?

*If indeed konolia is homophobic, which yes, is hate-mongering. I wasn't here for any examples of it, so I can't say. Konolia's always seemed all right to me. But if your faith is leading you to hate on others for who they love, or even -- hell -- just who they screw, you're not doing faith right. Or it's doing you wrong. Or something. I'm pretty sure that's not what Jesus was all about. He doesn't call me or anything. I don't know for sure. But it strikes me as a misinterpretation. So, I dunno. Lay down and think about it a little bit. Get back to me. Kthxbye.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:02 PM on February 17, 2008


Hate-mongering* Christian crusaders toe-to-toe with the South Park republican "invisible skyman" crowd looks pretty much like an Alien Vs. Predator scenario to me.

I think you're mislabeling the latter. South Park makes fun of atheists, too. Because when two people argue with equal conviction, the truth is always in the middle.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:06 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ryvar, you claims about the difference between Scientology and Christianity's claims only make sense if you allow the modern Christian idea that the bible isn't literal. The book of Genesis is a flatly ridiculous fairytale from beginning to end, falsifiable at every step of the way.
posted by empath at 5:07 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do you understand the difference I'm getting at?

Yes, but I don't agree with it. A virgin giving birth is a falsifiable claim about the way the world works - either it's possible or not. I'd say current knowledge about how humans sexual reproduce would put it in the latter category. Of course it can't be ruled out completely by science, but then again neither can the idea our bodies are covered with Thetans. Same category of question, sure.
posted by dydecker at 5:09 PM on February 17, 2008


I for one will not tolerate all this slander against murderers. What do you people have against convicted killers? Show a little respect!
posted by tehloki at 5:09 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you're mislabeling the latter. South Park makes fun of atheists, too. Because when two people argue with equal conviction, the truth is always in the middle.

I've noticed a lot of overlap between the crowds, myself. And the problem with that statement is, you know, that sometimes the truth isn't in the middle at all. But that's an awesome fortune cookie you got there.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:09 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


dydecker: I'd rule out big chunks of the gospels as plagiarism since most of the events of Christ's life were taken from other mediterranian gods-- notably Dionysus, but also Osirus and Theseus.
posted by empath at 5:18 PM on February 17, 2008


Which was noticed by Roman and Greek writers at the time the gospels were written. Christian apologists wrote it off as though the myths were created to prepare the Roman world for Christ's arrival. Which if you think about it, was quite clever.
posted by empath at 5:20 PM on February 17, 2008


I think I'd like to start with the title of this post, "Are some more worthy of respect than others?" You see, a quick flip through most holy texts, Christianity especially included, indicates that, according to the religion you practice, there are definitely people who are more worthy of respect than others!

Sons of Ham, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. Non-believers. Gals who aren't virgins on their wedding night. Your various sexual sinners.

Your religion answers the question you ask: Some people are definitely less worthy of respect than others! Which is precisely why you see an anti-religion bias here. There's something of a trend, within MetaFilter, to believe that people are not unworthy of respect purely based on race, sexual preference (unless it's something hilarious), and so forth.

I know you'd like to see the anti-Christian bias, from the subtle to the LOLXIAN, go away. Here is a simple plan for making that happen:

1) Admit that Christianity, as a whole, has a problem. That the TV preachers, even if you don't like them, affect your branding issues. You're all under the same umbrella, and if you don't like the greedy God-shouters, you haven't done very much to clean up your own tent and shut them down. Instead, you've let your most obnoxious become your representatives, even while wasting your time telling us that The Gay is Bad.

2) Believe that you can do something about this marketing issue. That includes voluntarily abdicating from positions of political influence, even in your neighborhood, because you realize you might unconsciously inflict your viewpoint on others. And, you know, getting every Christian on board. It doesn't matter that while at the Great Buffet of picking quotes out of a cobbled-together, repeatedly translated text you have something else on your plate than some other Christian, y'all are part of a franchise.

3) Start a crusade to fix it. It's a little ironic, but you're going to need the cooperation of all members of the faith. Should be a century to get everyone to agree. Hey, I'm being optimistic!

4) Without flinching, compile a list of some of the misdeeds of Christianity over the last two thousand years, everything from the blue laws that still exist in my city (watch as a clerk explains that a little Jewish lady can't buy wine on Sunday morning, "But it's not my Sabbat!") to the heart-wrenching pedo priest scandal (the depth of which have not yet been fully reached), to the dusty outrages of entire cities put to the sword in the name of ferreting out heresy. That's just a starting list. Might take a decade or two here, you'll want to start a wiki.

5) Convince every last Christian soul to come clean about these matters to everyone else in the world.

6) Prepare every last Christian soul to remove the overweening pride, the willful ignorance, the false humility, and the gleeful joy in saying, "But we're VICTIMS!" in a state where you're the overwhelming majority.

7) Request the help of humanity in beating these traits out of your culture and your religion, going so far as to edit out the offensive bits of your holy texts about putting various people to the sword because they're eating the wrong thing, don't get their winkies cut, think that homosex is where it is at.

8) Construct a list of all humans, organizations, and ideas you have killed, maimed, strangled the growth of, and otherwise held back in the pursuit of your addiction to Christ.

9) Help everyone you have harmed in Step 8. Apologize to them. Of course, you don't have a time machine, so you'll have about nineteen centuries worth of just pure public self-flagellation for your sins. Let's say a century of the deepest humility by every Christian on the planet. We're talking about kneeling on that crown of thorns and telling us that your tears are not from your pain but from realizing the damage you've been partially responsible for causing, and that you're certainly now ignoring and even attempting to justify based on your shield of faith.

10) For each branch of Christianity, establish a watchdog organization whose job it is to monitor Christianity and Christians for the kind of behavior that has given them a bad rap in the first place. For eternity.

11) Spend some alone time looking at yourself and your opinions, your actions, and so forth, and realize that you seek to impose them on others who find them irrelevant, even obnoxious, all because that's what you're told to do by your holy text.

12) Shut up about it. Stop making your church the tallest thing for miles, and generally keep your religion to yourself.

(Various forms of this can be repeated for other religions, too)

Now, this comes off as bitchy, but I'm not kidding. Telling us that we should be open-minded about your close-minded faith is something that most people see right through. Your flagging is going to sound an awful lot like "boo-hoo, I'm being oppressed!" A lot of people here look at Christianity and they see two thousand years of abuse and vile behavior. There's a reason that the religion doesn't get the respect you think it deserves. I think you know that, and I think that you just ignore it in an attempt to make a plea for it to stop. You'd just like it to all go away by some kind of magical fiat: dudes, stop dissing my faith. That isn't going to happen. Now, look at why.

Come to terms with it, because it's only going to get worse from here on out.
posted by adipocere at 5:25 PM on February 17, 2008 [50 favorites]


And the problem with that statement is, you know, that sometimes the truth isn't in the middle at all.

I was being sarcastic. That I have to explain this and that you applied the label to the "invisible skyman crowd" makes me wonder what you think "South Park Republican" means, though.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:25 PM on February 17, 2008


a lot of downright ignorant, null-headed nonsense has been posted on metafilter on the subject of religion and some of it has been inspired by bigotry
posted by pyramid termite at 5:25 PM on February 17, 2008


konolia, if people making nasty and profane-to-you comments about your religion, ideology and subculture is insufferably bad, could you explain this cryptic comment from the Swedish-extremists-using-Muslim-expressions thread:

Satan not divided against Satan, perhaps?
posted by konolia at 1:37 PM on February 15 [+] [!]


Who/what are you calling Satan? The "physical anthropologists and anti-racists" from the preceding comment? Communists and anarchists? Swedes and Muslims?

I'm having a hard time thinking of an insult that, coming from a faithful Christian, could be more extreme than referring to something as of and/or in league with Satan.
posted by CKmtl at 5:27 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Because when two people argue with equal conviction, the truth is always in the middle.

Okay, that's the single stupidest thing anybody in this thread has written... or do I have to haul the Plane on a Conveyor Belt example out again?
posted by wendell at 5:29 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Adam's. Like, you know... ADAM. And Eve.

Not Adam and Steve?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:31 PM on February 17, 2008


Okay, that's the single stupidest thing anybody in this thread has written

Okay, it's the logical fallacy of the middle ground that seems to characterize the so-called South Park Republicans and I guess I did not make it clear enough that I was being facetious.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:33 PM on February 17, 2008


God din make no Adam and Steeeeeeve!!!!!
posted by The Deej at 5:34 PM on February 17, 2008


God didn't make Adam and Steve, but it's clear that The Frogs did.

Adam and Eve, Adam and Steve, which is wrong and which is right? *thrashes*
posted by adipocere at 5:39 PM on February 17, 2008


It was Adam and Stephan
posted by hortense at 5:43 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I shouldn't post w/o reading every comment, but I feel a bit like Sisyphus staying up with this thread, and anyway I shouldn't have that second six-pack or 3rd bottle of wine either.

Not knowing her specific (as if it matters for this) spiritual background and tradition, I'm very inclined to agree with konolia.

Also it's difficult to believe she had to point to specifics. They tend to jump out.

The bottom line is that all major 'social' sites are anti-christian. being an anon internet atheist is vogue.

Sometimes it bothers me (like the 'turn the other cheek' and 'all are your brothers and sisters' claptrap.) when people who know as much about spirituality and the bible as I do about astrophysics pipe up with absurd straw fetus arguments.

Yr out of yr league.

It might do some people a world of good to follow, for one example, Gordon Atkinson or Frederick Buechner or Anne Lammot or lord knows how many, not, for me, inclusive of Xtianity before making an ass of your lack of knowledge.

I could go on, but probably I shouldn't. It's best to not be emotional in a thread. It comes off as shrill and hysterical and desperate.

At any rate, I wanted to stand with konolia on this one.

All, even most, believers are not like Fred Phelps or the teevee brigade, at all.

That's like many people approach discussions of Islam, by noting the freak factors. Except that in truth, Islam gets a bigger pass than Christianity in general.


At least it's not as bad as fark or digg, or 4chan, but damn! it can irritate one.

Carry on.
posted by dawson at 5:47 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


adipocere, to solely blame the wrongful excesses of the last two thousand years done in Christianity's name on Christianity is rather ignorant in itself. To say that political and socio-economic factors had no play in these events is to blind yourself to much of the history of the West. In fact, while I'm not Catholic, the Catholic church has apologized for much of what you've described. The sad and miserable truth is that Christianity, like most religions, has been abused, mutilated, and used, in the name of those in power. Incidentally, for many of these abuses, you could have probably found another group of Christians elsewhere who disagreed with them.

In reflection, however, is this thread about the behavior of one Christian on Metafilter, or is it on all the Christians on Metafilter? Is it deserving that the actions of one member should be applied to all of them? Certainly, those who are loudest are the most notable, but that doesn't make them representative of the whole. The truth of the matter is that the Christian members of Metafilter are representatives of the religion at large, they are varied in both opinions, beliefs, and behavior. I do apologize, on behalf of my own personal Christian faith, for any harm or pain suffered by the actions of another Christian. I cannot apologize for them, but I can apologize for the harm done. For that, I am sorry.
posted by Atreides at 5:48 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


God din make no Adam and Steeeeeeve!!!!!

well he made Adam Goldberg and Steve Buscemi, din't he? There goes that theory.

[ahem]

Y'know, the fact that this conversation is occuring at all is kind of interesting to me. as konolia has acknowledged, on a lot of issues this community's values are fundamentally different from hers (although not so much on others, which is interesting, too), yet she still hangs out here, despite a lot of hostility. and she hasn't tried to convert any of us, which would be what I'd suspect first. and we haven't forcibly removed her. This suggest to me that both her and us are groping for...something. understanding? communication? I dunno.

konolia has talked about how the racial prejudices of those surrounding her caused her a great deal of pain when a relative of hers had an interracial child. amd she talks about how she's worked with racial reconciliation groups in her community. I 100% take her on her word on this and it is part of why I believe she's fundamentally decent at heart.

So konolia, let me tell you something, when ministers who call themselves Christian condemn gay people, they are causing other people the same pain that you experienced and I don't think you want that and it really isn't neccessary. So I'm appealing to your sense of decency and if that dosen't work I'll ask as a favor to me: read these books, go to a PFLAG meeting and make up your own mind.
posted by jonmc at 5:48 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


jonmc writes...
So I'm appealing to your sense of decency and if that dosen't work I'll ask as a favor to me: read these books, go to a PFLAG meeting and make up your own mind.

I'm not sure it's cool to push her on this topic when she is institutionally banned from pushing you back.

Just sayin'.
posted by tkolar at 5:55 PM on February 17, 2008


well he made Adam Goldberg and Steve Buscemi

Buscemi was assembled from spare parts.
posted by The Deej at 5:57 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


tkolar: konolia can push back at me all she likes and I will not call for her banning.
posted by jonmc at 5:58 PM on February 17, 2008


So I'm appealing to your sense of decency

Unless her grandkid turns out gay, it ain't gonna happen, dude.
posted by BoringPostcards at 5:59 PM on February 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


BoPo, I love ya, dude, but if we give up on people changing, we might as well just say 'fuck it' and go bowling, amirite?
posted by jonmc at 6:00 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia can push back at me all she likes and I will not call for her banning

i'm sure you wouldn't and neither would i, although i think her opinions on this subject are just plain wrong

unfortunately, there are people here who will bay for her blood, attack her and provoke her into saying things that will get her banned, just like in the haggard thread

being paragons of liberal tolerance ...

she should have known better - but so should have they
posted by pyramid termite at 6:03 PM on February 17, 2008


Atredies, the "apologies" of the Catholic Church tend to come a few centuries too late. Galileo, anyone? "Whoopsie, sorry 'bout that." Hardly heartfelt, certainly not timely, and it doesn't come with any measure of humility that might inform their future actions. And while you can find Christians who disagree, you don't seem to find them storming the citadels of power and taking it back, which is something else I pointed out - although, when confronted about the excesses of the religion a great deal of handwringing takes place, the members of that religion (or other religions) fail to police their own members. It's a tacit form of approval. "Golly, I feel really bad about that abortion clinic bombing, but hey let's go protest about the babies being killed!" Good cop, bad cop. Phelps gets to play the heavy and the responsibility somehow devolves upon nobody.

And, yes, as Christianity has a history of grouping together entire masses of people and judging them, I think it's fair to bat that quote back to them, so shall ye be judged. Start with the Old Testament and head on through there. It's fair.
posted by adipocere at 6:03 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Of course, I know from konolia's own comments here that she believes in the "kinder, gentler" version of Hell, not the fire and brimstone and eternal punishment and pain, but simply eternal isolation from the Holy Spirit, aka oblivion and nothingness (I hope I'm not misstating your position, but it's that lack of emphasis on Biblical Literality that I do like).

Alas, I must correct this misunderstanding. I do believe that, whether the fire is literal or simply the only metaphor to describe what is really there, it IS "fire and brimstone and eternal punishment." I would like it very much if NO one went there, but God has the final say on that one.


(Oh, and minor point of order, it's okay to say that the biracial relative in question is my grandson. Happily even my African-American son-in-law got invited to christmas dinner at my racist parents' house, and they treated him well. I believe in miracles!)
posted by konolia at 6:04 PM on February 17, 2008


That's great, konolia. Now read those books I reccomended.
posted by jonmc at 6:05 PM on February 17, 2008


StrikeTheViol writes "I think, among other differences, that Scientology is not a faith, per se. Its leaders and founder wouldn't have kept it alive if they didn't make money."

But to the people who believe in the teachings it is a faith, regardless of the faith of the leaders. Do you honestly think every single cardinal, bishop, pope, televangelist and priest who has lived off the earnings of the church had faith in it's teachings?

Ryvar writes "I *can* prove in a reasonably straightforward manner that the Universe was a singularity around 13.5 billion years ago. The Bible doesn't make an exact claim to the age of the universe."

Where does that claim for earth being created in 4004BCE come from?
posted by Mitheral at 6:06 PM on February 17, 2008


when confronted about the excesses of the religion a great deal of handwringing takes place, the members of that religion (or other religions) fail to police their own members. It's a tacit form of approval.

so if someone burns down an army recruiting center is it because we anti-war people have failed to police our own members? - (and i'm old enough to remember a time when this question wasn't just hypothetical)

And, yes, as Christianity has a history of grouping together entire masses of people and judging them

you're just carrying on the tradition under a different name - got it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:09 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Where does that claim for earth being created in 4004BCE come from?

quite obviously, not the old testament - (think about it)

it was this guy
posted by pyramid termite at 6:12 PM on February 17, 2008


Start with the Old Testament and head on through there. It's fair.

So you're going after Jews too, right? Not that I want your particular brand of bigotry directed at us too, but if you're using the Old Testament, you're going after us, too, right? It's only fair.
posted by Snyder at 6:13 PM on February 17, 2008


Adipocere,

While right cannot cancel out wrong, but there are many Christians out there going out humbly to help others, from feeding the hungry to building homes for those who have none. I would recommend investigating the charitable activities of the congregations in your area. I freely admit that I am not a good Christian. I do not volunteer and I do not attend church regularly. I try and make up for it by doing what I can for those I encounter in my day to day life, by helping if asked, giving when I can, and presenting the world kindness. I do my best not to judge, because I am by no means worthy to be the one judging, and very few are.

I do feel guilt and regret for the horrible things perpetuated in the name of Christianity, and I do agree with you, I should do more to make amends for these wrongs.
posted by Atreides at 6:20 PM on February 17, 2008


If there was some preening, sneering sect of Judaism that behaved as US-based Christian evangelicals have for the last twenty something years they'd be getting told to "fuck off and die" as well.

Just because you share certain fudamental elements doesn't mean you are guilty of utilizing them in the same manner.
posted by hototogisu at 6:20 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mmmmkay, so something konolia did NOT say prompted me toward many hours of reflection on the Nature of the Afterlife. Start over.

And I assumed sincerity in ludwig_van's obviously ridiculous comment, failing the MetaFilter Reading Test for Sarcasm. But then, that is why I continue to rant against the use of unlabeled sarcasm. Because I'm a big dum-dum.

Just forget I was ever here today, okay?
posted by wendell at 6:23 PM on February 17, 2008


Snyder, I'm not seeing, at least in the U.S., bunches of Jewish people attaining positions of power and trying to force their views down anyone's throat, push for prayer in schools, and whatnot. As soon as you get there, though, I'll be happy to use my "particular brand of bigotry," which I like to call: Calling bullshit when I smell it and generally applying the standards to people that they have forced on others. That goes for pyramid termite's comment, as well.

I'm still working on a shorter, catchier title.

And, yeah, if anti-war protesters do something like, say, repeatedly and over the course of centuries set fire to ROTC buildings, we have failed to police our own. There's always isolated idiots and lunatics who will make your movement look bad, but nurturing them in your breast over the long decades and generally allowing them to conduct business as usual is a problem.
posted by adipocere at 6:27 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


dawson: "The bottom line is that all major 'social' sites are anti-christian. being an anon internet atheist is vogue.

Sometimes it bothers me (like the 'turn the other cheek' and 'all are your brothers and sisters' claptrap.) when people who know as much about spirituality and the bible as I do about astrophysics pipe up with absurd straw fetus arguments.

Yr out of yr league."


Anon? Name's in the profile. Forbearance and universal brotherhood are claptrap? Your call, apparently; I think they are valuable. And judging my knowledge of "spirituality and the bible?" You don't know me. The only straw men I'm seeing here are the ones you just created.
posted by jtron at 6:35 PM on February 17, 2008


I'm not a Dominionist, fwiw. There are Christians out there that scare the pants off ME.
posted by konolia at 6:39 PM on February 17, 2008


Damn, there are some long posts in this thread from user names that I don't recognize, and I am just wondering if anyone would tell me which of them is EB?
posted by LarryC at 6:39 PM on February 17, 2008


Also, this comment by JonMC seemed about right to me:

Lastly, there's plenty of people here who have legitimate gripes with right-wing fundies. So do I. Konolia is the most visible Christian on this site, so she bears the brunt of a lot of that anger, which I think is a little unfair since she seems to be a more complicated character than that.

But I mostly keep out of the political threads so I don't know if Konolia has been hateful towards gay people or if that is being projected upon her.
posted by LarryC at 6:42 PM on February 17, 2008


I am just wondering if anyone would tell me which of them is EB?

I've seen a lot of flameouts, so if a poster in this thread comes out as EB, would that be considered a flame-IN?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:43 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm EB. or Spartacus. or something.
posted by jonmc at 6:50 PM on February 17, 2008


If there was some preening, sneering sect of Judaism that behaved as US-based Christian evangelicals have for the last twenty something years they'd be getting told to "fuck off and die" as well.
-----
Snyder, I'm not seeing, at least in the U.S., bunches of Jewish people attaining positions of power and trying to force their views down anyone's throat, push for prayer in schools, and whatnot.

Considering the time spent belaboring Christianity's sins of the past 2000 years, I assumed that was just as relevant as current behavior, things which both need to be atoned for. Now I don't follow your logic at all. "The sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons, as long as some of the sons are doing something bad. " If people are being pissy about Christians, is that, "A lot of people here look at Christianity and they see two thousand years of abuse and vile behavior. There's a reason that the religion doesn't get the respect you think it deserves," and needs to repent for "...a century of the deepest humility by every Christian on the planet. We're talking about kneeling on that crown of thorns and telling us that your tears are not from your pain but from realizing the damage you've been partially responsible for causing, and that you're certainly now ignoring and even attempting to justify based on your shield of faith," then the present behavior seems like small potatoes.

Also, playing the 'When they do it, it's wrong, but when I do it, it's just,' game with "And, yes, as Christianity has a history of grouping together entire masses of people and judging them, I think it's fair to bat that quote back to them, so shall ye be judged," then yes, you are a bigot, same as the bigots who demand the torture of terrorists 'because that's what they would do to us.'

I also think it's ignorant and small-minded to somehow reduce modern Christendom to the U.S. of the past 20 years. The world and Christianity is more then the past 5 election cycles.
posted by Snyder at 6:55 PM on February 17, 2008


I would like it very much if NO one went there, but God has the final say on that one.

If this is an honestly held belief, and you've thought out the implications of it, then I don't see you how you can have anything but the deepest compassion for the people who aren't Christian. The people whose opinions rile you are, in your view, going to spend eternity in extreme suffering. How could you possibly be angered or insulted by what they say!? Doesn't their horrible predicament make your heart break?
posted by milarepa at 6:55 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


If this is an honestly held belief,and you've thought out the implications of it,, It is, and I have- then I don't see you how you can have anything but the deepest compassion for the people who aren't Christian. Agreed.
How could you possibly be angered or insulted by what they say!? Well, I'm not perfectly sanctified yet.

Doesn't their horrible predicament make your heart break?

Most certainly.
posted by konolia at 7:05 PM on February 17, 2008


Fair enough. Thanks.
posted by milarepa at 7:09 PM on February 17, 2008




And, yeah, if anti-war protesters do something like, say, repeatedly and over the course of centuries set fire to ROTC buildings, we have failed to police our own.

people have not been setting fire to abortion clinics for centuries either

but let's make this simple - if you want to have something policed, dial 911
posted by pyramid termite at 7:13 PM on February 17, 2008


I am a Christian (although as a liberal Episcopal with Quaker leanings, there are certain crowds that would insist that I'm not REALLY Christian). And I am saddened and pained in this discussion. Not because there is Christian-bashing in the world, but because I understand exactly WHY there is Christian-bashing in the world, and I sympathize with those Christian-bashers.

Christianity's most holy example (Jesus) hung out with sinners, even loved the people who put him to death, yet many of its followers insist that only those who believe exactly as they do will inherit the kingdom of heaven. Jesus told us that only God could judge, that we had no RIGHT to judge others, yet high-profile preachers (unlike Jesus) condemn gays and lesbians to hell every day. Jesus reserved his anger to the vendors who made the temple a marketplace, yet today's megachurches emulate the marketplace of his wrath.

Even the parable of the good Samaritan cautions us not to judge one's holiness by superficial things like religion or sexual preference or color. A well-versed Biblical scholar pointed out to me that, to the Jews of Jesus' time, the Samaritans were the despised, hated neighbors. Yet it was only the Samaritan in Jesus' parable that acted truly holy toward the beaten high-class Jew whose own kind passed him by without helping. Today's parallel would have Jesse Helms drowning and the only person whose hand extended to save him being a HIV+ drag queen.

All I can do is follow my conscience and love all people -- gays and lesbians AND Konolia, liberals AND Rush-Limbaugh conservatives, geeks AND Greek-letter wearers, fat chicks AND America's Top Model, sensitive men AND rapists. I can fight the injustices my chosen religion has perpetrated, because in some sense they're my injustices. Damn it (and I think I mean this literally), it's hard, and I fail often. But striving for the grace to love as Jesus loved (and not as Fred Phelps presumably loves) is what I'm supposed to be doing as a Christian.

I understand if you tell me to fuck off, because I acknowledge that my religion has been an instrument of abuse, of hate, of exclusion, although it was never founded with that intention. I understand your hurt. I share it. In the end (this is where many will disagree with me) I believe if there is a Heaven, there won't be checking IDs at the door and it won't be an exclusive Country Club for Christians. The victims of Christianity's hubris will rub elbows with its professors, and hopefully all will be forgiven. In my opinion, God is too big to be held by any one religion (or lack thereof), and God is too incomprehensible to be anthropomorphized.

I just got done doing three nights of The Vagina Monologues, and I am exhausted. I suppose tired posting should be discouraged. I am a bliss ninny, and I need a hug.
posted by lleachie at 7:14 PM on February 17, 2008 [55 favorites]


Ryvar, you claims about the difference between Scientology and Christianity's claims only make sense if you allow the modern Christian idea that the bible isn't literal.

Origen, Augustine, Ambrose and a bunch more Church Fathers would totally disagree with the idea that the non-literal nature of the Bible is a "modern idea".
posted by Stynxno at 7:14 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


I spent the daylight hours in silence, contemplating, among other things, the twenty-second Psalm, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" and even though the Psalter is way older than Christ, it sings of the inner strength of the faithful in the face of ridicule, persecution and death at the hands of a heathen mob.

I spent the evening hours reading, among other things, this thread, "Are some more worthy of respect than others?" and for the life of me, I wonder where the inner strength has gone, and whether these questions aren't better asked of God; is ridicule so painful that a Christian must now address her prayers to the heathen mob?

"I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels."

God help me, it sounds like heroin.
posted by breezeway at 7:15 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Objectivity is a superstition.
posted by Curry at 7:18 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


if we give up on people changing, we might as well just say 'fuck it' and go bowling, amirite?
posted by jonmc


You can beat a dead horse all you want, man, but it ain't gonna run.

I grew up in a family full of konolias. Until something affects her personally, or someone she cares enough about, she ain't gonna change. Her whole identity depends on it. She's fiercely connected to that grand-kid, which is a good thing- most of my extended family dropped me like a hot rock once the truth became known. I don't think she'd disown the grandbaby if it turned out to be a homo. I might be wrong.

So, despite the fact that people exactly like her would have kept her daughter and son-in-law from marrying a generation ago, she thrills to the fact that her parents are grudgingly accepting the grandbaby while still she still hopes to keep MY family from existing. Tolerance should be extended to HER family- of course!- but mine is still going to cause some kinda cataclysm. The same cataclysm that her parents thought a half-black grandbaby would cause, if you'd asked them 40 years ago.

People change, but mostly it's from personal experience, and people on the internet are never going to change a bigot's heart. It's a sign of your wonderful nature that you hope it will happen, but it ain't that easy. But who knows, maybe that grandbaby will grow up to make us all proud.
posted by BoringPostcards at 7:20 PM on February 17, 2008 [16 favorites]


I don't disown people.

Period.
posted by konolia at 7:24 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wait - which was it? Was I belaboring Christianity's history or just reducing it to the last 20 years? Pick one. And my point was not merely the history. It's the history combined with the "boo-hoo, I'm being oppressed" while, you know, actually being in power, then adding on the "Why is my religion disliked? Aren't I equal?" It's that confluence of factors that really hits the tipping point for me. Judaism has some stuff that it probably shouldn't be too proud of (hey, who does?), but I can still get a ham and cheese down the street from me. Still no liquor on Sunday morning, though. And we've had some locale crusades against porn, enforced with old "community-based" laws, backed up with the approval of the Big MC JC. Judaism has some legitimate oppression in the US to worry about, and it's not in power, ultra-right ZOG Machine agitprop withstanding.

You're accidentally, or perhaps deliberately, mischaracterizing "the game." It's about showing people that the treatment they dish out to others can be kind of crappy at times. Sort of a "Hey, if you don't like being judged, maybe you shouldn't do it quite so much, 'cause I'm pretty sure other people don't like it being done to them?" It's not the most subtle way of getting people to back off, but so far, subtle hasn't worked. Maybe I'm a little defensive, but atheism's past stance of staying in the closet and not confronting religious zealots has me in a country where atheists, in a hypothetical Presidential race with women, blacks, homosexuals, and other groups that are typically targets of hate, still come in last. Gently smiling to oneself and turning away when the subject of faith arises hasn't been successful. As a broad generalization, most civil progress hasn't come from shoving your hands in your pockets and saying, "Golly, if I'm nice enough, maybe they'll like me!"
posted by adipocere at 7:24 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I could be way off here, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that no one likes to have their belief system poked at.

I dunno. It doesn't happen often, but I personally -love- having my belief system poked at. I poke at belief systems for a living, and I sometimes feel that others are not reciprocating.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:31 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Until something affects her personally, or someone she cares enough about, she ain't gonna change.

If that's what it takes, that's what it takes. and in my experience, personal experience is what changes most people. Maybe we can hope some gay person decides to buddy up to her and changes everything. And FWIW, konolia never gave any indication of being racist pre-grandkid so that gives me hope as does the fact that she's mentioned being close with gay people in her past while still disapproving of their homosexuality (whatever that means). This tells me that there's just a minimal wall that needs breaking down.
posted by jonmc at 7:32 PM on February 17, 2008


There is some muddying of the waters inherent in the fact that konolia will use the very general term "Christian" to refer to a specific set of beliefs that are applicable to her own denomination. There are many of us on the site who are adherents of Christian religions who nonetheless do not and cannot object to criticisms of aspects of the enormous and diverse movement known as Christianity. Then, too, everyone must understand that at the deepest philosophical level, there are no proofs either for or against the existence of God, so that whenever someone wants to criticize belief in the Spirit in the Sky, they are as entirely justified in doing so as a member of a Christian denomination is in asserting their belief.

Konolia tends to advance her belief as truth, and that creates conflict. She often refuses to recognize the context for her beliefs: they are not "Christian," they are (first) her beliefs, (second) the beliefs taught within her specific denomination of Christianity, and only (third) Christian beliefs. There are many, many, manyChristians who do not agree with her stances on human rights issues, and as long as I live and breathe and frequent Metafilter, I will object every time I see bigotry presented as a "Christian" belief. In many conversations, even when challenged scripturally, konolia employs a hit-and-run strategy: the equivalent of "God says different," as the last post in a conversation, despite substantive challenges from within a Christian context.

MetaFilter presents a very freethinking environment in which to discuss and explore matters of faith from a tremendous variety of perspectives, and I think my own thinking about spirituality has been expanded and enriched by the dialogue here rather than limited by it; but konolia, your general approach of "my way or the highway" does not invite nor model the kind of serious consideration of issues of faith that you seem to be demanding here from others.
posted by Miko at 7:32 PM on February 17, 2008 [24 favorites]


I don't disown people.

Period.


I believe you. whatever I might think of someof yourbeliefs, you've never struck me as someone who would do that.
posted by jonmc at 7:33 PM on February 17, 2008


...most civil progress hasn't come from shoving your hands in your pockets and saying, "Golly, if I'm nice enough, maybe they'll like me!"
But hey, I am good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, I can be so annoying!

And disowning people has never been an issue for me because... well, I've never owned any.

But then, I'm not here.
posted by wendell at 7:36 PM on February 17, 2008


*pokes at anotherpanacea's belief system*

*lights cigarette*

was that good for you?
posted by jonmc at 7:43 PM on February 17, 2008


Jesus wept.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:46 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Indeed, my brother, indeed.
posted by jonmc at 7:51 PM on February 17, 2008


Joe Hill never died.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:54 PM on February 17, 2008


I support konolia in this, but mostly because so much of Christian-bashing is such a big yawn for me.

More than anything else, it just makes me think of "rebellious" teenagers going punk or wearing "satanic" t-shirts to annoy their parents.

John Safran's shit-stirring rant on it (in the John Safran v God TV series) was wonderful [paraphrasing]: "you think christianity is stupid? well, you must have all the answers then. explain to me how gravity works. tell me how the sun burns. explain genetics to me. if you don't have the answers to those, you're in no position to claim that science has disproved christianity."

This, combined with the fact that the very same people who criticise Christianity & other mainstream religions will very often turn around & - with a completely straight face - promote some kind of new-age mumbo jumbo that they pulled out of their ass, mostly revolving around crystals, auras, astrology and spirit guides, reiki and wicca.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:00 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


(which is to say, i prefer to live & let live. then again, the religious right don't have much of an influence down under)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:02 PM on February 17, 2008


down under what?
posted by jonmc at 8:03 PM on February 17, 2008


Joe Hill never died.

Give us a hand, there, chum; I'm feeling a little wobbly.
posted by breezeway at 8:06 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


let's leave the Weebles out of this, haven't they suffered enough?
posted by jonmc at 8:08 PM on February 17, 2008


Yeah, suffering through all that firewalking in Webelos makes you a real Tenderfoot.
posted by breezeway at 8:13 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


We delete stupid sweater puppy shit and stupid LOLXIAN shit all the time.

Funny you should mention that. My Christian neighbours have made a sweater for their new labrador pup. Crochet, naturally. They fawn over little Jehoshabeath so much, and constantly ask me if he doesn't look adorable in his outfit. I really don't have the heart to tell them that lime green & tan don't look all that great together, and that the puppy is really suffering in the Sydney summer sun.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:19 PM on February 17, 2008


down under what?

Your mom. What the hell else would I be talking about?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:20 PM on February 17, 2008


Things I learned from Metafilter this week:

1. Only white people can be racist.

2. Only Christians can be intolerant.

3. HD-DVD's are out.
posted by tkchrist at 8:21 PM on February 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Maybe I'm a little defensive, but atheism's past stance of staying in the closet and not confronting religious zealots has me in a country where atheists, in a hypothetical Presidential race with women, blacks, homosexuals, and other groups that are typically targets of hate, still come in last

To be fair, atheism has been burned into the public consciousness by the likes of O'Hair.

The recent contribution of well-spoken patriots such as Newdow are a drop in the bucket in comparison.

Also, Christian fundies have been convinced that athiests throwing the True Believers like them into camps is going to be part of the End Times event sequence.
posted by panamax at 8:21 PM on February 17, 2008


dnab, just for not hating you and yours (and for having joined in on occasion), to hardcore fundies, I'm as damned as you. So, that's a pointless exercise.

Um, no. They're not trying to deny you rights.

That's beside the point, ludwig_van, I was more irked about dnab's 'I'm the most persecuted, therefore anyone else's ideas are to be dismissed' which is a nice instance of proving that being holier-than-thou is not rectricted to the religious.

Stop putting words in my mouth. Seriously.

For you, fundamentalists are dangerous in a fairly nebulous way. Very little of what they say and do affects you directly. For everyone that has a womb and/or prefers their own gender, the danger is a little more immediate and personal. Nowhere in there did I say that your opinions should be dismissed (I believe most of yours should be dismissed due to rampant idiocy and wilful ignorance), just that it's really easy for you to say they're only dangerous sometimes.

To take it away from my personal experience, I'll put it this way: while men may have a vested interest in women having access to abortion on demand, it's always an intellectual exercise unless you're one of the people who would be forced to bear a child. Doesn't mean you can't believe strongly, and doesn't mean that allies aren't necessary.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:21 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


You can beat a dead horse all you want, man, but it ain't gonna run.

I think that is some sort of colloquial mixed metaphor or something.

I just learned that the "beating a dead horse" phrase actually has to with the near useless results of having to beat the work out of British sailors until they sobered up or understood they were stuck after being press ganged. And that usually took until the ship sailed across the horse latitudes.

Crazy shit.
posted by tkchrist at 8:27 PM on February 17, 2008


Very little of what they (fundies) say and do affects you directly.

Except for being instrumental in the appointing and then re-election of George Duh-Bya Bush. Who then started a couple of wars, burned trillions in public treasury, made torture "okay", and squashed a shit load of peoples rights. I think most of that effects about 50% of the planet directly. Or will.
posted by tkchrist at 8:32 PM on February 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


Very little of what they say and do affects you directly. For everyone that has a womb and/or prefers their own gender, the danger is a little more immediate and personal.

and of course, no one close to me either has a womb or prefers their own gender. If you'll recall, I explicitly said that I don't ask you or any gayperson to be patient and try to change her mind. I said to let me try and do that since I'm in a position to maybe have a chance at doing so. A long shot chance, maybe, but a chance and we're chumps if we don't take it, since as konolia's anti-racism work shows, if you get her on the right side of something, she's pretty indefatigable.

For all our sniping at eachother we seem to want the same thing. You do what you have to do, let me do what I have to do.
posted by jonmc at 8:33 PM on February 17, 2008


All, even most, believers are not like Fred Phelps or the teevee brigade, at all.

Analysis of the polling I've seen disagrees with that assertion. Modern-day megachurch political rather extreme polarization toward the Republican Party and its difficulties understanding and supporting the theories of Evolution are two datapoints here.

From what I've seen, the non-judgmental, liberal church has been fighting a rear-guard action against the Evangelicals and Billy Graham SBC for the past 40-odd years, and losing.
posted by panamax at 8:34 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


More than anything else, it just makes me think of "rebellious" teenagers going punk or wearing "satanic" t-shirts to annoy their parents.

yeah, just the suggestion that there might be a reason for some kind of authority, whether it be metaphysical or mundane, is enough to make some mefites froth at the mouth - look at the police threads, for example

---

Joe Hill never died.

he eroded
posted by pyramid termite at 8:36 PM on February 17, 2008


From what I've seen, the non-judgmental, liberal church has been fighting a rear-guard action against the Evangelicals and Billy Graham SBC for the past 40-odd years, and losing.

i think they're losing against an increasingly secular society, too - not to mention a lot of new-age stuff
posted by pyramid termite at 8:40 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


There is no tolerance for intolerance in a free society, however nice you may be as an individual.

Christianity, at its core, seeks to restrict others. It is explicit in its rejection of all other belief systems.

Those that do not agree with you, fundamentally, will burn in eternal torment. Forever.

That is too much bullshit for a free society to bear. You have been nothing but nice, and like my parents, you and many Christians are very kind, decent people. But your views are insane, and as such they are anathema to the longevity of a free society.

Again, you truly believe that those that disagree with you will serve an infinite penalty of incalculable pain simply because they disagree with you. That is absolutely insane. And it has zero place in a community such as this.

However, if I am able to separate the individual from their beliefs, why can't you?
posted by plexi at 8:42 PM on February 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


However, if I am able to separate the individual from their beliefs, why can't you?

I do that all the time, actually. Or do you mean something other than what I think you mean?
posted by konolia at 8:44 PM on February 17, 2008


konolia: are you going to look into the books I linked? I'm actually pretty disappointed that I haven't got a response one way or the other. and yes, I am putting you on the spot, deliberately so.
posted by jonmc at 8:47 PM on February 17, 2008


More than anything else, it just makes me think of "rebellious" teenagers going punk or wearing "satanic" t-shirts to annoy their parents.

Really, uboroivas? The shit I pulled as a teenager was, I suspect, a product of too much time and too little perspective, for starters.

Fundamentalism is a disease. A fucking scourge. It's a resistant flesh-eating infection that doesn't stop. You show me another fundamentalist segment in America with the power and profile of the religious right and I promise you it'll get the same verbal ass-raping it deserves from MetaFilter just the same as Christianity. For the time being, though, the Christian fundies seem to have cleared the shelves of Crazy for as far as anyone can see.
posted by docpops at 8:57 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


And, yeah, if anti-war protesters do something like, say, repeatedly and over the course of centuries set fire to ROTC buildings, we have failed to police our own.

That analogy is nonsensical. Being anti-war is nothing like being a member of a church.

John Safran's shit-stirring rant on it (in the John Safran v God TV series) was wonderful [paraphrasing]: "you think christianity is stupid? well, you must have all the answers then. explain to me how gravity works. tell me how the sun burns. explain genetics to me. if you don't have the answers to those, you're in no position to claim that science has disproved christianity."

What's wonderful about that? It's a terrible argument. I feel dumber having read that.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:58 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Being anti-war is nothing like being a member of a church.

Anti-war per se, no. I have met political ideolgues both left and right wing, who are as rigid and doctrinaire as any fundie.
posted by jonmc at 8:59 PM on February 17, 2008


Holding to any given belief steadfastly doesn't necessarily make someone the equivalent of a religious fundamentalist.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:02 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Holding to any given belief steadfastly doesn't necessarily make someone the equivalent of a religious fundamentalist.

Holding to the letter of doctrine rather than to an actual moral compass or conscience does, IMHO.
posted by jonmc at 9:04 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


The hot air in this thread single-handedly accelerated global warming by at least 10 years. Go apologize to the penguins. NOW!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:05 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


The bottom line is that all major 'social' sites are anti-christian. being an anon internet atheist is vogue.

Really Dawson? It doesn't feel vogue to me at all. It feels like the only safe place I can vent after getting an assfull of the Religious Right and all the Christian horseshit about creationism and 'love the sinner hate the sin' day in and day out everytime I venture outside my house here in regular-town. Maybe what has you by the short hairs is the scary realization that Christianity has enjoyed a delusional sense of inevitability simply because there hasn't, until recently, been a venue for the rest of society to shout back at the hypocrisy of organized religions.

Best get used to it.
posted by docpops at 9:07 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Holding to the letter of doctrine rather than to an actual moral compass or conscience does, IMHO.

Ok, sure, people should use their consciences. That has nothing to do with the point you quoted me making, which is that the group "people who are against war" is not similar enough to the group "Christians" to make a sound analogy of the two. "Anti-war" is not an organization, it doesn't have articles of faith or holy texts or rituals, it's just a concept.

And if the good Christians are so ashamed of the things those bad Christians do in the name of their religion, and if they don't really believe in all of those archaic things laid out in their holy texts, why do they still call themselves Christians?
posted by ludwig_van at 9:18 PM on February 17, 2008


Christianity, at its core, seeks to restrict others. It is explicit in its rejection of all other belief systems.

Those that do not agree with you, fundamentally, will burn in eternal torment. Forever.


This is a broad generalization and not an accurate characterization of Christianity. Of some Christian faiths? Yes. Of Christianity as a whole? No.

This is the same fallacy that lies at the root of some of konolia's more controversial statements.
posted by Miko at 9:19 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


That has nothing to do with the point you quoted me making, which is that the group "people who are against war" is not similar enough to the group "Christians" to make a sound analogy of the two. "Anti-war" is not an organization, it doesn't have articles of faith or holy texts or rituals, it's just a concept.

It has everything to do with the original point I was making: that ideological fundamentalism is as dangerous as religious fundamentalism, which I think is patently obvious.
posted by jonmc at 9:20 PM on February 17, 2008


And if the good Christians are so ashamed of the things those bad Christians do in the name of their religion, and if they don't really believe in all of those archaic things laid out in their holy texts, why do they still call themselves Christians?

There's no getting away from the historical roots and major texts.
posted by Miko at 9:20 PM on February 17, 2008


The bottom line is that all major 'social' sites are anti-christian.

Actually, what I see is that the major 'social' sites are anti-Christian-bigotry. They are anti-Christian-hypocrisy. But to say that you 'love the sinner, but hate the sin' is a cop-out. If I, as a known anti-whatever, were to say "I don't hate whatevers, I just hate whateverness", then I'd deserve contempt.

Religion is never an excuse for behaviour that atheists would be condemned for.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:21 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


of their religion

And (sorry to post again so soon), for the umpteenth time, Christianity is NOT A SINGLE RELIGION.
posted by Miko at 9:21 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


ludwig_van, why should they change their self-identity just to pander to your prejudices? - there are hundreds of denominations out there, so talking about the group "christians" is a pretty absurd thing - you can be sure that some kind of reference to the bible and jesus are going to be involved, and that's about it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:25 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


ludwig-van sez:

I was being sarcastic. That I have to explain this and that you applied the label to the "invisible skyman crowd" makes me wonder what you think "South Park Republican" means, though.

Dude, seriously, you have to watch sarcasm in MeTa threads. Especially ones like this. The semi-retarded pour forth so thick and heavy that, unless the person you're talking to knows you, they will take any idiotic thing you say at face value.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:31 PM on February 17, 2008


Of some Christian faiths? Yes. Of Christianity as a whole? No.

Of Mainstream Evangelical Christianity in the U.S.?

Yes.
posted by panamax at 9:32 PM on February 17, 2008


It has everything to do with the original point I was making: that ideological fundamentalism is as dangerous as religious fundamentalism, which I think is patently obvious.

Dude. I'm just saying that's a non-sequitur in relation to my comment, which you quoted. pyramid termite said "so if someone burns down an army recruiting center is it because we anti-war people have failed to police our own members?" My point was that that's like saying "so if someone bombs a slaughterhouse is it because we vegetarians have failed to police our own members?" The analogy fails. Your (indeed obvious) point has nothing to do with what I was saying.

There's no getting away from the historical roots and major texts.

What does this mean?

ludwig_van, why should they change their self-identity just to pander to your prejudices?

What do my prejudices have to do with it? I said that if they don't believe in or agree with large parts of their holy text, and don't agree with the beliefs and actions of large segments of their fellow believers, why do they associate with the religion? Couldn't you read the bible and believe that it has lots of good messages, and Jesus got a lot of things right, and love your neighbor, and practice charity, etc., without having supernatural faith or calling yourself a Christian? Then you'd be living a good life, not wasting time and energy on superstition, and not be guilty by association of all the bad things that the bad Christians do.

talking about the group "christians" is a pretty absurd thing - you can be sure that some kind of reference to the bible and jesus are going to be involved, and that's about it

Really? Would someone like the aforementioned hypothetical person who believed in Jesus's ethical philosophies but didn't believe in God, miracles, the afterlife, the truth of the bible, etc., seem very Christian? Is that how most western Christians are?
posted by ludwig_van at 9:36 PM on February 17, 2008


Of Mainstream Evangelical Christianity in the U.S.?

Yes.


Sure, in general, but you have to specify when you're talking about evangelicalism - Christianity does not and should not always be taken to mean "evangelical Christianity," and even in evangelical faiths there are important differences. Also, the modifying terms carry meaning. The words "mainstream" or "mainline" Christian are understood to describe different faiths than "evangelical " - they usually apply to faiths that have their roots in a previous generation of Christian revivalism and are used to describe denominations such as Methodism, Congregationalism/UCC, Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, and Episcopalian.

Christian denominations have really important doctrinal differences and philosophical approaches which impact their stances on things like homosexuality, the afterlife, baptism, individual responsibility, and church authority. Different Christian denominations simply cannot be conflated into one. It is much more useful to talk about specific doctrinal stances and how they are justified than to attempt to take on all of Christianity as a force to oppose. You'll find that not all denominations are opposed to any particular view.
posted by Miko at 9:39 PM on February 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


What does this mean?

This means that I'm no more responsible for the extreme beliefs of other Christian faiths than a reform or secular Jew is responsible for the views of Hasids. It is not the responsibility of all people whose faith falls within the enormous category of "Christian" to either defend or justify the specific and narrow beliefs konolia espouses.
posted by Miko at 9:41 PM on February 17, 2008


Would someone like the aforementioned hypothetical person who believed in Jesus's ethical philosophies but didn't believe in God, miracles, the afterlife, the truth of the bible, etc., seem very Christian? Is that how most western Christians are?

It's not how most Christians are, but those beliefs can be contained within the set of "Christians."
posted by Miko at 9:43 PM on February 17, 2008


Different Christian denominations simply cannot be conflated into one.

Thing is, you can certainly tranche them.

Looking at the dynamic, growing denominations you will find great commonality in political polarization toward the erstwhile "Party of Life", muscular millenialism toward Israel, get-rich-though-prayer, hostility toward evolution, secular humanism, etc.

These trends have been gathering since the 1960s and the success of the Graham ministries. There are the defining characteristics of what modern-day evangelical Christianity has become.

Everybody else in the body of Christ are the outliers now.
posted by panamax at 9:44 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I had no idea that Konolia was a "god hates fags" person. I always just thought that she was a conservative Christian.

I'm genuinely disappointed.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:44 PM on February 17, 2008


Christianity has many many holes in my opinion and it's based purely on faith. When you get a group of smart and savvy (like you mefites) together in one spot it's really easy to shoot down something based purely on faith with no science to back it up. That may be why so many people get touchy about it. I know how hard I've been on followers of this religion because I strongly detest it. I'm just one person and I try to keep it toned down. Think of all the people that don't tone it down.

You know, I'm pretty stupid, but isn't the spark in any and all religions faith? And to move from faith to fact is to extinguish the spark?

I would suggest that people who feel threatened or are made uneasy about criticisms of their faith are not very strong in it, deep down. Many scientists live happily with their faith, of whatever stripe, because they know that science and faith are two completely separate things. I would suggest that if you are reading your religious text(s) literally and without critical thought you do not actually have faith.

People say stuff here all the time that makes me twitch (I'm not religious but there are other things that get my goat). I have never once thought that their comments should go to the bit bucket, even while wishing an atomic wedgie on them.
posted by maxwelton at 9:45 PM on February 17, 2008


At this point, I have no idea where to enter this conversation.

But I do know that religion/politics/Great Pumpkin issues on MeFi work under this line of supposition:

1. Demand tolerance for your views
2. Give none to others

You think konolia is wrong? Tell her. But be careful where you step as you do it. Are you answering bigotry with bigotry? Does that make you the monster too?
posted by dw at 9:47 PM on February 17, 2008


Panamax, no duh, you're preaching to the knowledgeable. The thing is, the sooner people cede the signifier 'Christian' to socially conservative denominations with a narrow and literalist interpretation of the Bible, the happier they'll be. I consider it a fairly important thing to resist, since Christianity is actually a broad movement. My denomination hasn't grown too much since 1860, but it continues to be an important contributor to global human rights efforts. I'm not willing to cede its reputation to religions that preach certainty about the nature and views of God.
posted by Miko at 9:48 PM on February 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's not how most Christians are, but those beliefs can be contained within the set of "Christians."

Sure, but my point was that they can be contained within the set of "non-Christians," too. So since you can be charitable and kind and empathetic and moral without being a Christian, and we know that the bible is mostly fiction (but you can read and enjoy and learn from it as a text without being Christian), and lots of people do bad things in the name of Christianity, why choose to be a Christian?

I'm not saying that all Christians must answer for the bad ones, but it's hard for me to imagine why they would want to be associated with Christianity if they don't agree with all that bad stuff.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:49 PM on February 17, 2008


The Jesus that I love (he's just an idea) is gayer than Liberace's birthday in Chelsea at a Cher judged fisting contest at Andy Warhol's house. She's straighter than a lumberjack doing a karate chop on a Lutheran barbeque at a Giant's game. God is love (just an idea) and god is in short fucking supply in this awful world. I loathe a bigot.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:50 PM on February 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


Well, I heard that God is a place where some holy spectacle lies.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:51 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


It is not the responsibility of all people whose faith falls within the enormous category of "Christian" to either defend or justify the specific and narrow beliefs konolia espouses.

I certainly agree with this, but I think you are mistaken when you minimize the footprint of modern-day Evangelical Christianity in the US today.

Evangelicals were one of Bush's top demes in 2004, coming in just behind the Hassidic Jews with 78% support. My sister happens to be an evangelical member down in Orange County, in December I visited the home megachurch of the "Promise Keepers".

What was coalescing into a nascent political force under Pat Robertson in 1988 fully matured into a consistent National Front in 2000.

You may note that the present Republican primary process was dominated by who could out-Evangelical the other. This totally torpedoed the former frontrunner and it remains to be seen if the current front-runner doesn't have to put Huck in as VP to solidify the party behind him.

While this may sound like an anti-Freemasonry-esque rant, I don't think it's unfair to say that modern-day Christianity in the US has been hijacked by the SBC and their rather radical positions toward homosexualiity, evolution, abortion, American Exceptionalism, the Christian foundation of the nation at the Revolution, etc etc.
posted by panamax at 9:53 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


The analogy fails.

not really - the simple fact of the matter is that whole concept of a group of people policing themselves according to your criteria is based on your stereotypes - michelle malkin likes to do this with immigrants and muslims all the time and you're working the same kind of territory here

What do my prejudices have to do with it?

you're awfully concerned with what they call themselves - why should it matter so much to you?

I said that if they don't believe in or agree with large parts of their holy text, and don't agree with the beliefs and actions of large segments of their fellow believers, why do they associate with the religion?

because their denomination identifies itself as christian - is that really so hard to understand?

again, why should it matter to you?

Couldn't you read the bible and believe that it has lots of good messages, and Jesus got a lot of things right, and love your neighbor, and practice charity, etc., without having supernatural faith or calling yourself a Christian?

you certainly could and people do

Then you'd be living a good life, not wasting time and energy on superstition, and not be guilty by association of all the bad things that the bad Christians do.

i could go to a pentecostal church every day and not be "guilty by association" - since when in anything resembling a fair and equitable system of justice are people "guilty by association"?

you say something like that and then ask what your prejudices have to do with it

everything - and holding people "guilty by association" IS a form of ideological fundamentalism

EPIC FAIL

Would someone like the aforementioned hypothetical person who believed in Jesus's ethical philosophies but didn't believe in God, miracles, the afterlife, the truth of the bible, etc., seem very Christian?

and it matters to you because ... ?

Is that how most western Christians are?

did you know that the hundreds of denominations who call themselves christians all have websites on which you can actually read what they believe and how they practice what they believe, instead of just wildly guessing and lumping them in together? that's right, you could actually find out why they call themselves christians and what it means to them to call themselves christians instead of relying on weak-minded concepts such as "guilty by association"?

isn't that something?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:55 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


why choose to be a Christian?

It's a personal decision that results from many things apart from the small concern about how others might see you. The association is in their minds, not mine - and the more informed they become, the less association there is.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I see no need for change in the moderation of MetaFilter with regard to religion, because konolia's concern is not that Christianity is not given a fair hearing - I think it is when earnestly and respectfully discussed by people who belong to Christian faiths - but that her own specific denominational beliefs are challenged.

That didn't matter when it was Mormons up for condemnation to hell, but it matters, apparently, when she feels evangelicals are getting the short straw.
posted by Miko at 9:56 PM on February 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


Sure, in general, but you have to specify when you're talking about evangelicalism - Christianity does not and should not always be taken to mean "evangelical Christianity," and even in evangelical faiths there are important differences. Also, the modifying terms carry meaning. The words "mainstream" or "mainline" Christian are understood to describe different faiths than "evangelical " - they usually apply to faiths that have their roots in a previous generation of Christian revivalism and are used to describe denominations such as Methodism, Congregationalism/UCC, Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, and Episcopalian.

But keep in mind, too, that mainline denominations have their share of evangelicals, too. And some more liberal branches aren't even considered mainline, e.g. the Metropolitan Church (which is congregational in tradition but not derived from the mainline Congregational movement).

And I think you're conflating "evangelical" with "fundamentalist." You can be an evangelical and not be a fundamentalist. You can be a fundamentalist but not an evangelical (though these folks are rare and usually are more Reformed than fundamentalist).

And did I mentioned Reformed just then? Throw those guys in and now your easy hierarchy is completely blown up....
posted by dw at 9:57 PM on February 17, 2008


Are you answering bigotry with bigotry? Does that make you the monster too?

Bigotry against others is the unfounded antipathy/criticism one directs.

I think modern-day Taliban-esque radical muslim society is total crap. This is no doubt bigoted, but as long as it is true I could give a fuck.

That konolia's public policy positions so closely line up with the Taliban's shoud give her, and her ilk, pause.
posted by panamax at 9:57 PM on February 17, 2008


You can be a fundamentalist but not an evangelical

That would be the conservative Catholics like Mel Gibson, plus the Fantastic Five (?) Opus Dei members on the SCOTUS.
posted by panamax at 9:59 PM on February 17, 2008


the Fantastic Five (?) Opus Dei members on the SCOTUS

hmmm - that's the first time i've heard that
posted by pyramid termite at 10:01 PM on February 17, 2008


Bigotry against others is the unfounded antipathy/criticism one directs.

That's your definition. "Unfounded" is not in the OED:
...obstinate and unenlightened attachment to a particular creed, opinion, system, or party.

I think modern-day Taliban-esque radical muslim society is total crap. This is no doubt bigoted, but as long as it is true I could give a fuck.

That konolia's public policy positions so closely line up with the Taliban's shoud give her, and her ilk, pause.


Since when did the Taliban become the new Godwin?
posted by dw at 10:06 PM on February 17, 2008


Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito could be. Kennedy, probably not but who knows.
posted by panamax at 10:06 PM on February 17, 2008


What's wonderful about that? It's a terrible argument. I feel dumber having read that.

It's all in the delivery, I guess. Safran's an over-the-top satirical sort of comedian. He was satirising newly-clever liberal arts undergrads who go on about how stupid Christianity is. Pointing out the massive holes in their own understanding of the cosmos in that context is spot on, imho. It's not meant to be a serious argument in favour of Christianity.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:07 PM on February 17, 2008


obstinate and unenlightened attachment to a particular creed, opinion, system, or party

The OED is wrong then; I consider your above "chauvinism".
posted by panamax at 10:08 PM on February 17, 2008


Does this mean it's bad timing for the Negativland post I was putting together?
posted by item at 10:08 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Give up.
posted by item at 10:08 PM on February 17, 2008


hmmm - that's the first time i've heard that

It's much blogged about. I'm having a hard time finding legit news sources that touch on it in any detail, or at all, here on the Googles. Fun conspiracy stuff like this makes me miss the '90s a whole lot, but I'm not sure how much credence to give it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:08 PM on February 17, 2008


the Fantastic Five (?) Opus Dei members on the SCOTUS

Holy crap.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:08 PM on February 17, 2008


Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito could be.

well, they could be members of the illuminati, too - i googled and read a couple of articles on counterpunch.org - sounds like the usual political conspiracy crap to me

which isn't to say that something isn't seriously WRONG with those guys ...
posted by pyramid termite at 10:10 PM on February 17, 2008


You know, I gotta say, there's some quite remarkable posts in here. It's nice to see that Christianity can still be about love and acceptance, at least for some.

So, so many have let the letter of the religious law replace the spirit; they've let traditional interpretations and lesser men override the words of their actual messiah.

I'm glad to know that, despite all the hate and viciousness I see from the Christian right, at least some of you still know and cling to the core message, and I respect that very much.
posted by Malor at 10:15 PM on February 17, 2008


God please send the next person to say Epic Fail straight to hell. Er.. except for me.

Not all views deserve tolerance. And. Religions don't get a bye just because they are... well, religions.

We don't tolerate philosphies that promote racial supremacy or gender supremacy. We don't tolerate views that support the oppression or torture of X group.

But somehow it's okay for a HUUUUGE portion of our society to embrace that most of humanity should be tortured literally for eternity for believing even slightly different things? We should tolerate that? That is some fucked up shit right there.

I tell you why people think we should tolerate that. Partially it's cognitive dissonance. But mostly this terrible torture happens after we die. And. Deep down most of these people, even Believers, don't TRULY think it will ever happen because they don't really believe we DO live forever. It's all a fantasy. The entire system of theistic religious belief is utterly superficial for most people. Which is also why they break the rules and then chalk it up to "interpretations."
posted by tkchrist at 10:16 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fantastic Five (?) Opus Dei members on the SCOTUS

I'm shocked you even got the NUMBER of Catholics on the bench right. And none have ever been proven to be Opus Dei, though there's strong evidence of Scalia and Alito being members.

Opus Dei: The Masons of the 21st Century. 2B1ASKTHEPOPE.
posted by dw at 10:16 PM on February 17, 2008


not really - the simple fact of the matter is that whole concept of a group of people policing themselves according to your criteria is based on your stereotypes - michelle malkin likes to do this with immigrants and muslims all the time and you're working the same kind of territory here

I can't parse what you're saying here. The analogy does fail. Anti-war people in your example and vegetarians in my example are not groups in the same sense that religious denominations are. I think a political party is a group that makes for a much more reasonable comparison to a religious faith. And I would be suspicious of someone who's a member of the Republican party because of how corrupt the group is, whether or not that individual was responsible for all the corruption.

because their denomination identifies itself as christian - is that really so hard to understand?

Are you kidding? You haven't answered me at all. I asked why someone would be Christian, and you respond "because they're Christian - is that so hard to understand?"

again, why should it matter to you?

Do I have to explain why the beliefs of my fellow members of society affect me? Particularly when those beliefs are held by a very large subset of society? But if it didn't affect me, I wouldn't care. I'd still be curious about why people believe, though.

It's a personal decision that results from many things apart from the small concern about how others might see you. The association is in their minds, not mine - and the more informed they become, the less association there is.

Does "it's a personal decision" mean you can't explain it to me? I don't see how you can claim not to feel any association with those other Christians. It seems that the word "Christianity" is being described like an empty vessel, able to be filled with whatever meaning or belief one desires, and that doesn't strike me as representative of reality. Like I was getting at, if you disagree with such a large portion of fundamentalist Christianity, I don't see why you'd call yourself a Christian. Why choose to affiliate with and identify as a member of a group that encompasses so much you don't agree with?
posted by ludwig_van at 10:16 PM on February 17, 2008


Why choose to affiliate with and identify as a member of a group that encompasses so much you don't agree with?

I feel that way about humanity. But the chimpanzees wouldn't have me back and the Tau Cetian spaceship was full up.
posted by tkchrist at 10:22 PM on February 17, 2008


The OED is wrong then; I consider your above "chauvinism".

I really want to say EPIC FAIL here, but I don't want tkchrist to come over to my house and beat me.

But yeah, you're arguing your truth, which basically means you're arguing with yourself, and your invisible rabbit friend.
posted by dw at 10:22 PM on February 17, 2008


I can't parse what you're saying here.

still don't care to explain why you think that people should be held "guilty by association" or how you think that is just?

I asked why someone would be Christian, and you respond "because they're Christian - is that so hard to understand?"

no, i responded by telling you that they have websites on which they explain why they're christian and what that means to them

if you really want to know, you'll look those sites over - or you'll just flail around here and pretend like you want to know something

game over, man
posted by pyramid termite at 10:23 PM on February 17, 2008


there's strong evidence of Scalia and Alito being members.

and given that Scalia brought Thomas into the Church, and that Thomas is Scalias little shadow ideological pal, it shouldn't be surprising. That leaves Roberts to make 4, which given the circumstances of his appointment shouldn't be too controversial to assert that the probablity of him also being Opus Dei is certainly non-zero. That leaves Kennedy, which is why I put the question mark there.

Note that I do not construe anything negative about this Opus Dei thing, just pointing out the present political power of conservative Catholicism in the US. They've been around for a while, they're the ones who got "Under God" inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance and were also responsible for installing Diem into our RVN experiment of the 1950s and very vocal cheerleaders for the follow-on US Army intervention in the 1960s.
posted by panamax at 10:24 PM on February 17, 2008


The hot air in this thread single-handedly accelerated global warming by at least 10 years

In this tortured metaphor, konolia must somehow be DuPont.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:28 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


The OED is wrong then

Figures. Sloppy little volume, that one; maybe if they'd spend less time getting stoned and more time on actual lexicography, people wouldn't think so poorly of the damned thing.

Also full of crap: the International Prototype Kilogram.

Opus Dei: The Masons of the 21st Century.

Let's all give Dan Brown a round of applause for his recent help on that one.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:30 PM on February 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


and were also responsible for installing Diem into our RVN experiment of the 1950s and very vocal cheerleaders for the follow-on US Army intervention in the 1960s.

My god man! We couldn't have heathen Buddhists grow our rice and farm our rubber could we!?! COULD WE? If I wanted "enlightened" tires I'd fill them with helium!
posted by tkchrist at 10:41 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anti-war people in your example and vegetarians in my example are not groups in the same sense that religious denominations are.

Christianity is not a religious denomination. It is a large, diverse group of religions that share one common characteristic - belief that Christ is their savior. Everything else is up for grabs, after that. There is arguably more commonality within the anti-war and vegetarian communities. After all, there haven't been any wars between, say, ethical vegetarians and people who don't eat meat for their health.

And asking why Christians don't abandon the name "Christian" because they don't agree with the beliefs of other, different Christians is, frankly, a dumb question. As an atheist, I'm often embarrassed by the moronic statements made here by other atheists. Should I therefore call myself something else?
posted by me & my monkey at 10:43 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


still don't care to explain why you think that people should be held "guilty by association" or how you think that is just?

I think you're taking me out of context and misunderstanding. I don't think that "guilt by association" is equivalent to actual guilt, but I think it makes sense as a concept. Like I already said by way of example, if someone told me they were a Republican, I'd associate them with the corruption and lies and so forth of the Republican party. They might say, "But that's not fair, I'm a reasonable individual, I'm not like those corrupt, lying Republicans." They might be right, but I'd still be suspicious of their association with a party that's been doing so much damage to our society, and I think many would agree. Granted, the analogy isn't precise.

To make another: if I thought, for instance, that Karl Marx was right about history being a class struggle but wrong about most of his solutions, I don't think it would make sense to call myself a Marxist and join the communist party but explain to everyone that I don't believe in all that communism stuff because I'm not a fundamentalist Marxist and I shouldn't have to defend those communist regimes. I'd just agree with the parts that I agree with and live my life as I think I ought without needing to label myself or join any organizations. Which, wouldn't you know it, is what I actually do.

I don't understand why people who throw out all the objectionable beliefs of a religion still identify as part of that religion and then also get offended when people criticize the religion based on the objectionable parts. If you disagree with large swaths of the faith, maybe you shouldn't identify with that faith. If you don't feel any association with a certain belief or sect, maybe you shouldn't take offense at people criticizing that belief.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:44 PM on February 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


As an atheist, I'm often embarrassed by the moronic statements made here by other atheists. Should I therefore call myself something else?

Well, if you ever want to, there's a label ready and waiting for you.
posted by dw at 10:47 PM on February 17, 2008


As an atheist, I'm often embarrassed by the moronic statements made here by other atheists. Should I therefore call myself something else?

Thank you friend, that sums it up.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:50 PM on February 17, 2008


It is a large, diverse group of religions that share one common characteristic - belief that Christ is their savior. Everything else is up for grabs, after that.

They share the texts of the bible and some simply place more emphasis on one part or another. Second they believe that being "saved" means immortality. There are all sorts of possible ominous implications to that simple belief right there that most denominations do share abstractly but don't necessarily vocalize as much as others.

I don't think when push comes to shove it's as much up for grabs as you think, really.
posted by tkchrist at 10:52 PM on February 17, 2008


Does "it's a personal decision" mean you can't explain it to me?

Might mean she shouldn't have to, and indeed she does not. You may wish to take it down a notch. I don't know what the site definition of "harassment" is, but I'm pretty sure attempting to harangue someone out of their religious beliefs qualifies.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:54 PM on February 17, 2008


jtron

Sorry, I very nearly missed yr riposte in the glut of comments as I am, frankly, not following this as closely as I perhaps should.

I was speaking in (non-glittering) generalities. Obviously all are not internet atheists. I wasn't even aware that you claim no spiritual faith tradition. I likely missed a comment, and I've only been lurking here about a year. I would cite Steven Den Beste as an example of a "true" atheist.

I respect that you have your real name, and photo on yr profile, it's not required by any means, but it lends credence to your claims.


Forbearance and universal brotherhood are claptrap? Your call, apparently; I think they are valuable
.

I did not say, nor did I mean to infer that they were claptrap. They are not, however, part and parcel of Christianity. Many people, not you perhaps, but hoards, speak of that which they know not re religion in general and Christianity specifically. They don't quote Jesus accurately or in context. They pass him off as some effete Ghandi with a persecution complex.

Universal brotherhood is John Lennon, not so much the Christ who said "I didn't come to bring peace, but a sword."

And forbearance is too often confused with extreme tolerance, even appeasement. That's Neville Chamberlain, not St. Paul.


And judging my knowledge of "spirituality and the bible?" You don't know me.

Again, I didn't realize I was judging you, but again, as most like to quote 'Judge not, that ye be not judged' and neglect the 'He that is spiritual judgeth all things' bit, 'by their fruits you can know them'.

In other words, Christianity is, after all, an eastern religion, it's not a neat little box of maxims from the local SBC church with the tall steeple and the cousling center.


The only straw men I'm seeing here are the ones you just created.



I said 'straw fetus'. i wouldn't give the argument balls like that, man.


But God knows about the last thing I want is to sit up and argue faith with you on MeFi.
posted by dawson at 10:58 PM on February 17, 2008


Christianity is not a religious denomination. It is a large, diverse group of religions that share one common characteristic - belief that Christ is their savior. Everything else is up for grabs, after that.

Again I think you're exaggerating the variations in Christian belief. Surely there is far more diversity in belief outside of Christianity than within it. Christianity has a canon, a founder, articles of faith, and many official organizations. The fact that there are different interpretations of its texts and different denominations don't make it meaningless or infinitely malleable. Atheism means lacking religious belief. If there were atheist churches with rituals, hierarchies, and dogma, then you could make a comparison between a religious sect and that organization.

In any case, you're quibbling with a small part of my argument and acting as though it's the whole. I'm saying I don't understand religious cherry picking as a whole. If you can see that many of the beliefs and commandments laid out in the canonical texts of your faith are wrong or dangerous, I don't know why you'd want to join a sect of that faith or label yourself with it at all.

Might mean she shouldn't have to, and indeed she does not. You may wish to take it down a notch. I don't know what the site definition of "harassment" is, but I'm pretty sure attempting to harangue someone out of their religious beliefs qualifies.

Please. I'm not harassing anyone and obviously no one has to answer my questions, but I don't see any reason not to ask them.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:02 PM on February 17, 2008


I'm sorry. I try to be tolerant. I try to look the other way. I understand many of you have issues with either God or Christianity in some form or fashion. But I have had quite enough.

konolia, you sure have a funny way of defining tolerance.

I've seen you post in practically every gay marriage thread that I can remember. As a "married" gay man, I pay close attention to those threads. And those posts are all the same - homosexuality is wrong, gay marriage is wrong, etc, because God says so. And when you're asked to back this up - whether this is enough to make something against the law in a pluralistic society, made of groups with different beliefs, you have no response. When asked whether it would be ok to criminalize Christian beliefs if you were in the minority, you've got nothing to say. You just drop your "God says so" turd in the thread and get out. That is not an argument, it's not tolerance, it's not a discussion, it's crap.

So, yeah, I have a problem with your "tolerance" and with your God and your Christianity, which makes it perfectly ok for you to have our common government enforce your belief system against me. I can do without your tolerance. I've had quite enough as well. You want to know why people have such blind hatred for Christianity? Just listen to the hateful bile from your own mouth. Any atrocity is justified in your mind, as long as "God says so." As ye sow, so shall ye reap.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:04 PM on February 17, 2008 [30 favorites]


Your questions are transparently leading and loaded, and the answers are both none of your business and not really germane to the subject of the thread at all. Even if the person you're talking to is kind-hearted enough to imagine you're asking them in good faith, this is probably something better suited to personal mail.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:06 PM on February 17, 2008


Well I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on that.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:08 PM on February 17, 2008


Is this more of your vaunted sarcasm? The heights that rapier wit will carry you to...!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:10 PM on February 17, 2008


Cheers to the religious people who have come in here to speak in a reasonable way. There's more than enough stupid knee-jerkism on both sides of the religious/nonreligious divide, and we could all do with elevating our game around here on that issue. (I say this as the rootin-tootin-est hair-on-fire atheist around.)

Also cheers to SassHat's comment above (its background). As a vocal member of the "sticks and stones, you're a big wimp if you complain" brigade on a similar topic, konolia, you personally have little standing to make this kind of complaint.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:13 PM on February 17, 2008


Is this more of your vaunted sarcasm?

No, that was not sarcasm, but I appreciate you checking to be sure. I obviously disagree with you that my comments here are inappropriate or I wouldn't post them. I was trying to politely say that I read what you said and think you're wrong and I don't think it needs to be argued about.

What I'm asking and suggesting is perfectly germane to the thread. Folks were criticizing a particular flavor of Christianity, and others were complaining that they felt attacked since they are also Christians, albeit not ones who share the beliefs being singled out for criticism. My response was one of curiosity as to why they would choose to self-identify in that way, and the suggestion that if they really don't identify with those people then they needn't take offense when those people are criticized.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:18 PM on February 17, 2008


Again I think you're exaggerating the variations in Christian belief. Surely there is far more diversity in belief outside of Christianity than within it.

That does not make Christianity a single, uniform religion. And if you really think I'm exaggerating the variations in Christian belief, I suggest you read this.

They share the texts of the bible and some simply place more emphasis on one part or another.

The Bible says a LOT of things. Simply placing more emphasis on one part or another makes a big difference in what you actually believe.

Second they believe that being "saved" means immortality. There are all sorts of possible ominous implications to that simple belief right there that most denominations do share abstractly but don't necessarily vocalize as much as others.

Well, what does it mean to them to be saved? This isn't a simple question, and some denominations have pretty broad answers to that question.

And lots of religions are exclusionary in this way. If your religion doesn't provide some benefit that you wouldn't have otherwise, what is its point? My pious Buddhist boyfriend believes that, in the distant future, there will be no Buddha to teach enlightenment for many eons. What happens to the beings in that time? They have no chance to escape samsara. Oh well. Too bad for them!

Folks were criticizing a particular flavor of Christianity, and others were complaining that they felt attacked since they are also Christians

The vast majority of criticism of Christianity here is not quite so narrowly targeted. I don't see what part of "invisible man in the sky" wouldn't apply equally to Quakers and Dominionists alike.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:28 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, if you ever want to, there's a label ready and waiting for you.

Oh yeah. THAT's an improvement.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:33 PM on February 17, 2008


I don't see what part of "invisible man in the sky" wouldn't apply equally to Quakers and Dominionists alike.

The central difference is that the Quakers aren't basing public policy decisions on what said man-in-the-sky is recorded to have decreed what our laws should be. It's not the Quakers who have campaigned to put the Ten Commandment marble sculptures on public land and in the courthouses.

The Quakers' man-in-the-sky has little if any intersection with the secular world. For the present day Evangelicals / Religious Right political bloc, this separation is explicitly denounced and quite the opposite dynamic is expoused.
posted by panamax at 11:39 PM on February 17, 2008


That does not make Christianity a single, uniform religion.

I don't think it's a single, uniform religion. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear about that. I got off on a few tangents above that probably obfuscated what I meant to be saying.

The vast majority of criticism of Christianity here is not quite so narrowly targeted. I don't see what part of "invisible man in the sky" wouldn't apply equally to Quakers and Dominionists alike.

Yes, criticizing belief in God would apply to all types of theists, but what of it?

This line of discussion began with a post that seemed to be trying to disassociate the beliefs of konolia's brand of faith from the umbrella term Christianity, which doesn't really seem reasonable to me. It seems to me that the literalists and the fundamentalists have at least as much right as the progressives to label their beliefs as Christian, if not more.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:39 PM on February 17, 2008


It seems to me that the literalists and the fundamentalists have at least as much right as the progressives to label their beliefs as Christian, if not more.

The "if not more" is the contentious part. When you privilege the hatred of homosexuality over Mr. Roger's Neighborhood as the truer expression of Christian principles, you do the work of your enemy.
posted by Iridic at 12:04 AM on February 18, 2008


The Quakers' man-in-the-sky has little if any intersection with the secular world.

Have you ever met a practicing Quaker? I would guess not. They're a very politically active sect of Christianity. They just happen to be politically active in ways that I (and I suspect you) agree with. Guess what? All driven by their "man-in-the-sky!"

But in any case, you missed the point altogether, which is that criticizing a religious person for being religious - which is what "man-in-the-sky" is all about - is not the same as criticizing a religious person for his actions. I don't care what konolia believes. I just want her to keep her beliefs out of my government, just as she'd like me to keep my beliefs out of her government.

It seems to me that the literalists and the fundamentalists have at least as much right as the progressives to label their beliefs as Christian, if not more.

Sure, they have at least as much right as the progressives to do so. But they don't have more. That's my point. There is no single Christian authority that says, group A is Christian but group B isn't. It's a self-applied label. People who believe that Christ is their savior self-identify as Christians. And asking the ones you like to call themselves something else is just plain dumb, because those people don't see "Christian" as a mark of shame - they believe that Christ is their savior.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:16 AM on February 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


me & my monkey

I agree I went oblique on your original point, but, if we could return to C_D's original slam that partially prompted this meta:

fucking pedantic invisible man in the sky weren't such an asshole

you can see it was in context of konolia bringing her faith bases directly into the converstation [about the "Grace" as a possible alternative to "luck"].

Quakers, buddhists, etc. get a pass on their beliefs from us nontheists because they don't cart them out as supports for judgmental bigotry or position their dieties as active agents in our secular society that demand universal obediance and worship (cf. Falwell's gaffe in the immediate post-9/11 environment).

Quite simply, the divinity of the Quakers is not a "pedantic asshole" of a supernatural agent, while konolia and the rest of her mainstream evangelical/fundamentalist Religious Right Christianity arguably is.

Though I must admit I cocked an eyebrow and hovered over the [!] icon on C_D's post when I first read it, as I felt C_D's response to her was slagging on konolia for previous baggage and not her addition to the current thread of conversation.
posted by panamax at 12:43 AM on February 18, 2008


Sure, they have at least as much right as the progressives to do so. But they don't have more. That's my point. There is no single Christian authority that says, group A is Christian but group B isn't.

Well, there's clearly a difference in the amount of faith and conviction and investment of, for instance, someone who likes the philosophy of Jesus but has no supernatural beliefs, someone who believes in Jesus's divinity and every now and then prays or goes to church, and someone who regularly attends church, proselytizes, and believes that the bible is inerrant. They're all certainly free to call themselves Christians, but from my outsider's perspective, it doesn't seem unreasonable to say that the latter is the most Christian. And no, there is no single authority that says group A is Christian and group B isn't; there are in fact many different groups who claim the authority to say that about each other.

I suppose I just feel that statements like this:

She often refuses to recognize the context for her beliefs: they are not "Christian," they are (first) her beliefs, (second) the beliefs taught within her specific denomination of Christianity, and only (third) Christian beliefs. There are many, many, manyChristians who do not agree with her stances on human rights issues, and as long as I live and breathe and frequent Metafilter, I will object every time I see bigotry presented as a "Christian" belief.


are a little unfair in placing the blame on the individual and not the religion. The bible doesn't tell the believer that some parts of it are to be taken literally and others allegorically, does it? konolia isn't making this stuff up out of whole cloth, is she? The bible does condemn homosexuality and non-believers, doesn't it?
posted by ludwig_van at 1:00 AM on February 18, 2008


Quite simply, the divinity of the Quakers is not a "pedantic asshole" of a supernatural agent, while konolia and the rest of her mainstream evangelical/fundamentalist Religious Right Christianity arguably is.

Have you ever considered that maybe trying to paint a portrait with a brush wider than the campus might just be a pointless endeavor?

The divinity of the Quakers VARIES FROM QUAKER TO QUAKER. That's what THEY ARE MOST KNOWN FOR. INNER LIGHT? HELLO?

I mean, here you're suggesting that ALL evangelicals believe the same thing as ALL fundamentalists AND THEN lumping that together WHILE AT THE SAME TIME pretty much suggesting that QUAKERS ARE NOT QUAKERS.

Please, go pass through a canal or something.
posted by dw at 1:02 AM on February 18, 2008


Have you ever considered that maybe trying to paint a portrait with a brush wider than the canvas might just be a pointless endeavor?

Teach me to post at 1am.
posted by dw at 1:05 AM on February 18, 2008


I'd like to address the specific complaints brought up in this post: a) that Christianity-bashing is more tolerated than sexism, racism, and homophobia on Metafilter, and b) that konolia is specifically prohibited from anti-gay commentary while others are not specifically prohibited from anti-Christian commentary.

The problem with framing the objection in this way is that Christianity is a belief system that one is free to adopt or abandon, while the other three are not. Comments that denigrate women, blacks, and queerfolk say "I dislike you for what you are/how you were born," while comments that denigrate Christianity say "I dislike this belief system."

Women, racial minorities and gay people ask for equal rights and opportunities under the law, while Christian fundamentalists ask that the rights and opportunities of all people be legally restricted based on their own chosen interpretation of a specific holy book - and furthermore demand that scientific research, medical care, and public education be hobbled to adhere to those beliefs. These are quite obviously completely different things.

As to konolia's right to tell gay people that they are going to hell, I do think that it is pretty much in the same ballpark as random user being able to say that women are only useful for sex, African Americans are lazy, and Asians are sly - not fact-based, not excellent for Metafilter, and not an exercise of one's rights, but simply malicious and/or ignorant hatemongering.

I, personally, dislike rage-fueled commentary here, and find a lot of the discussion related to religion boring, distasteful, repetitive, stupid, and show-offy - so mostly useless.* I hate that intelligent observations are so often drowned in a sea of hyperbolic screeching, and wish that people would calm the fuck down or go somewhere else for that stuff. But I can't agree that criticizing a belief system that seeks to restrict the rights of other people is the same as belittling someone based on their race, sexual preference, or gender.

*I have enjoyed some of the more level-headed, intelligent and rational discussion in this thread from both Christians and atheists, but I guess the more limited venue makes it a bit easier to talk
posted by taz at 1:28 AM on February 18, 2008 [34 favorites]


What I'm asking and suggesting is perfectly germane to the thread. Folks were criticizing a particular flavor of Christianity, and others were complaining that they felt attacked since they are also Christians, albeit not ones who share the beliefs being singled out for criticism. My response was one of curiosity as to why they would choose to self-identify in that way, and the suggestion that if they really don't identify with those people then they needn't take offense when those people are criticized.

Actually, this isn't the case. You were repeatedly asking this question in response to Miko's posts, who quite clearly *wasn't* complaining about being attacked for being a Christian and was actually supporting the continued moderation policy on this issue on Metafilter.

She also took the trouble to explain to you why she felt as she did. Now Miko is a particularly coherent and stimulating writer who does a good job of explaining her point of view, so I can see why her posts might prompt a degree of curiosity on your part. However, that's not an excuse to continue to hector her to respond to your personal political criticisms of her faith. So when kittens for breakfast wrote:

Your questions are transparently leading and loaded, and the answers are both none of your business and not really germane to the subject of the thread at all.

I thought he was pretty much bang on the nail. I'd have added damned rude as well. When someone says 'the reasons are personal' they usually mean precisely that. They aren't something that they're interested in posting about.

Disclaimer: me atheist, no dog in this fight, never corresponded with Miko, this my first post in the thread, etc.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:30 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


someone who likes the philosophy of Jesus but has no supernatural beliefs

... would not be a Christian at all. I like the philosophy of Jesus, I think, and I'm certainly not a Christian.

They're all certainly free to call themselves Christians, but from my outsider's perspective, it doesn't seem unreasonable to say that the latter is the most Christian.

What makes your "outsider's perspective" any more valuable than, say, konolia's perspective about atheists, whatever that might be? As an atheist, why would I value her perspective about what it means to be an atheist?

And anyway, your comparison is not so good - you compare "less devout" to "more devout" and conclude that the more devout are more Christian. But the real comparison of importance is between equally devout Christians with different beliefs.

Quakers, buddhists, etc. get a pass on their beliefs from us nontheists

You must be visiting a different MeFi than I am, because the vast majority of religious criticism I see on here is LOLXTIANS. And, as an aside, I think Buddhism is generally not considered to be a theistic religion.

The bible doesn't tell the believer that some parts of it are to be taken literally and others allegorically, does it? konolia isn't making this stuff up out of whole cloth, is she? The bible does condemn homosexuality and non-believers, doesn't it?

The Bible contains all sorts of things. It contains contradictions. It contains allegory and ambiguity. It was written by lots of different people. You can use it to justify almost any set of beliefs that you like. The Bible doesn't tell anyone how to interpret it. It exists in many languages, many translations. There is no one single Bible that is authoritative to all Christians. Some Christians include books in the Bible that others exclude.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:44 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The bible does condemn homosexuality and non-believers, doesn't it?

Ooh, I'd like to take a stab at that one too. Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, came in to settle a dispute. The parties involved said to mind his own business, they demanded to be judged by the Quran alone. Ali said, 'Ok then' and sat everybody in a circle and placed the open Quran in the middle. After some awkward fidgeting on the part of the disputants, the answer failed to emerge. The disputants accepted Ali's arbitration.



Postmodernism didn't invent the idea that the text is inseparable from people's reading of it.
posted by BinGregory at 2:08 AM on February 18, 2008 [10 favorites]


LOLXTIANS

for the the stupid things they believe, the stupid things these beliefs make them do, and how they force their unfounded, irrational beliefs onto our society as a whole.

That's not religious criticism, that's criticizing religious people for their jerkwad actions, same as criticizing 20th century Eugenics movements not necessarily for their science but for their inhumane actions.

If a tenth of the evangelical religious right's footprint in my country had anything to do with their Jesus character's alleged hippy-dippy ministry they'd catch a lot less shit in these parts. Unfortunately, they've been more in tune with blowing up Muslims and converting the survivors to Christianity, and wheeling out their Supply-Side Corporate Jesus who wants us to make the cap gains tax rollback permanent.
posted by panamax at 3:16 AM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to chime in in support of hermitosis's comment waaay upthread. I'm an atheist myself, but I'm deeply interested in religion, and the constant axe-grindery and invisible sky superhero malarkey that seems to pop up in every thread that is even slightly religious is really, really tiring. I think MetaFilter is surely capable of good discussions about religion, and I even think there's been some here and there around the site, even in this thread, but it really seems like a terrible struggle to raise the level of discourse above something that might be found on Fark. Honestly, kneejerk LOLXTIAN comments are MetaFilter's equivalent of "FIRST POST!!!" and I really wish that MeFites who feel that way would try to restrain themselves a bit and come up with something with some substance instead. I hate that shit worse than pyramid termite hates initial caps and periods.

It's been especially frustrating for me in the last few weeks to see people ascribe extremely narrow-minded and reductionist views to "Christianity" at the same time as I've been reading Taylor Branch's excellent history of the Civil Rights movement. I would urge those who see Christianity and religion in general as inherently evil to spend a little time reading Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail, in which King, speaking as a religious figure to other, more "moderate" religious figures, explicitly takes on the mantle of a religious extremist as an explanation of why he has taken direct action against segregation which resulted in his imprisonment. (This happens about three quarters of the way down.)

Among many other notable qualities the letter is riddled with quotes from religious scholars and philosophers, all of which King had committed to memory. He scribbled out the initial several pages of it in the margins of a newspaper, prior to managing to get blank paper smuggled in to his cell. King was certainly not a perfect human being, but for me, at least, he's still one of the towering moral figures in US history, and his own moral compass came from a deep spiritual connection to the Christian faith.

One particular quote that rings true for me is this: "shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will."

That said, that negitivland thing is pretty awesome
posted by whir at 3:26 AM on February 18, 2008 [13 favorites]


“I am just wondering if anyone would tell me which of them is EB?”

The other day I remembered that there was supposed to be a Mythbusters episode settling the airplane question. So, yesterday, I Googled, saw that it appeared on Jan 30, and then hit Metatalk (I hadn't even lurked here since the first week of December) to see what people had to say. And I couldn't resist signing up and posting a comment.

I didn't plan to come back—if I did come back—for at least six months. I'm glad for this thread, because it settles the question for me.

People are conflating konolia with the general subject of her complaint. There's good reasons to wonder if she's speaking on good-faith and whether she's a hypocrite (yes and no, in my opinion; but I certainly can see there's ambiguity). But there's no question that Christianity and Christians, in general and individually are discussed here with venomous bigotry, frequently. It's not recognized as venomous bigotry by most for exactly the same reasons that much of the venomous bigotry spouted on right-wing sites against Islam is not recognized by the folks there: for them, these are self-evident truths; and it can't be bigotry if it's true, right? Islam is equated to Al Qaeda and if anyone, ever, objects, the response is that it's an apologist whitewashing the reality of the situation. "Sure, not every Muslim is extreme as Al Qaeda, but the religion itself has a core of hatred and nastiness that is reflected in its every manifestation". That's the argument there, and that's the argument here with regard to Christianity. That's the argument in this thread.

SassHat's heavily favorited comment was ironic, in my opinion, because it obviously illustrates everyone's hypocrisy, not just konolia's. Konolia was wrong to defend sexist comments as trivial and people here are wrong to defend anti-Christian comments as trivial.

Furthermore, with all due respect to taz, who is a wonderful person, her distinction between "what you can choose to be and cannot choose to be" as a defense of bigotry is obscene. We create our identities and are not merely born into them; the product of our choices should be just as protected from mindless hate and social condemnation as the things we don't choose. It's perverse that humanists three hundred years ago were talking about a fundamental right to a freedom of belief—as in creed—when people today are arguing about who gets included and who doesn't as determined by birth. Gays shouldn't be equal citizens because they couldn't choose otherwise—that's both patronizing and missing the whole fucking point. Gays should be equal citizens because who they are and what they do is not wrong.

Asserting that gays are sinners is not "hate speech". It's an assertion of a value judgment about peoples' actions, just as is asserting the same thing, in different words, about, say, those who engage in hate-speech. You cannot assert your own right to make judgments about other people's actions while shouting down others who make differing judgments. You can say they're wrong. Konolia is wrong that gays are "sinners", insofar as I understand the term to mean that they are doing something morally wrong. Insofar as the term means "doing something forbidden in konolia's belief system" the assertion is quite obviously true.

Tolerance is making a good faith assumption that people with differing beliefs and practices are who they are and believe what they believe with approximately as much innocence as one grants to oneself—which is often more than deserved. And that last bit produces a corollary: one should never allow one's own high estimate of self-righteousness to invalidate the rule of tolerance because, after all, everyone is self-righteous and if we allow ourselves to exempt ourselves from tolerance because we believe that most others aren't as righteous as ourselves, then who will be left to be tolerant? Only the humble, who were never a threat to anyone else in the first place.

Whether konolia is an acceptable Christian or not, to MetaFilter, is pretty much the same as if you were arguing over whether or not another user is an acceptable Muslim to MetaFilter. Or an acceptable gay, or an acceptable feminist. Both of which, by the way, have proven to be acceptable to MetaFilter if they don't complain too much about homophobia and sexism on MetaFilter. We are not talking about power relations, here, or institutionalization or politics; we are talking about the ugliness of bigotry, about tolerance, about what kind of community MetaFilter is, or wants to be, or should be. That a repugnant version of Christianity holds influence in American society is a red herring. There are real, living, breathing individuals who are members of the MetaFilter community who are silenced and made to feel distinctly unwelcome simply because of their choice of worship.
posted by Dances with Werewolves at 4:17 AM on February 18, 2008 [28 favorites]


Well-stated, whir, and I totally agree with you - but to me there is a vast chasm between the MLK example of morality rooted in the Christian faith that fights against bigotry and injustice, and the flavor of morality rooted in the Christian faith that fights for preserving, promoting, and codifying bigotry and injustice in the form of denying equal rights to gays, for example.

In terms of how these different expressions of principles that happen to both fall under the broad, broad umbrella of Christianity are treated on Metafilter, I think that administrators here are not compelled to allow anti-gay bigotry simply because it shelters under that umbrella, but definitely do agree that commenters should refrain from attributing the same values to everyone of the Christian faith, and try to develop a more sophisticated understanding of what is a very complex topic. I think that's why we refer to the shallow, single-note, "my outrage - let me show you it" type of posting and commenting as "LOLXTIANS". As shorthand, it does a good job of describing what you are talking about, and I think that it is mostly scrubbed from posts, though not as modded in comments. I do wish that there was more rigor in what we expect from in each other as far as that goes.
posted by taz at 4:18 AM on February 18, 2008


Hi, Keith! Please stick around.
posted by taz at 4:32 AM on February 18, 2008


me & my monkey writes "There is no single Christian authority that says, group A is Christian but group B isn't."

Actually a problem is that there are many authorities saying our followers are christians but those guys over there aren't and vice versa.
posted by Mitheral at 5:02 AM on February 18, 2008


MetaFilter: Actually a problem is that there are many authorities
posted by cgc373 at 5:46 AM on February 18, 2008


God bless all you, for fighting the good fight.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:02 AM on February 18, 2008


Actually a problem is that there are many authorities saying our followers are christians but those guys over there aren't and vice versa

But is that really a problem? I mean, the problem is that there isn't a single authority, right? But even among atheists, who are not so well organized, there are still some differences in matters of faith. For example, let's say that I'm willing to positively assert that there is no God; this evidence I take from a personal, emotional feeling of aloneness which wells up within me. In addition, I am plagued with a feeling that a caring God could not have created a universe in which untold human suffering is manifest.

You, on the other hand, place no truck in matters of faith. Emotion is of course an aspect of the human condition that affects your life profoundly in many ways. Nonetheless you can find no scientific evidence for God, and you will not believe in that which is not evident to your senses; ergo you say there is no God and call yourself an atheist. The problem of human suffering is one that vexes you. There may or may not be a solution to it, but you believe that such a solution will come through purely human means, if at all.

(I want to be clear that these are totally speculative positions, and I'm not actually saying that you or I hold them to be true.)

We may disagree on some points of doctrine, if you'll excuse the term. It may be that you feel that my own claim not to believe in God, coming from an emotional feeling rather than logical deduction, is suspect. Likewise, I may take issue with your application of the scientific method to something which is inherently unprovable, as I see it. Nonetheless, if I call myself an atheist and fit your general definition of someone who doesn't believe in God, I think you'll generally agree that I'm an atheist, even though there's no atheist central committee to rule on what is correct and what is incorrect.

Likewise for Christians a belief in Jesus Christ, more or less as depicted in the New Testament, is kind of a minimum threshold for "being" a Christian, and that broad umbrella then covers an extremely large spectrum of beliefs that range from Fred Phelps to the Vatican to the Yorba Linda Friends Church to the Mormon Tabernacle. Again, there is no central authority saying that this is Christian and that is not, but if somebody decides that they are Christian there is no universal authority to validate or invalidate that claim.
posted by whir at 6:16 AM on February 18, 2008


ludwig, I believe the problem is that you've established a predetermined idea of what it means to be a Christian, and that being fundamentalists. By doing such, you seem to infer that anyone not upholding to their level of devotion to following Christ are not as authentic or real in their faith. Christianity is many things to many denominations and to pigeon hole it in the manner that you're doing is a disservice to yourself.

The religion breaks down in so many large and varied ways beginning with the whole "filioque" question between the Catholic and Orthodox churches, and right down to what day of the week the Sabbath should actually be honored on. Its like pointing to a rainbow and picking one color and saying that it alone represents the whole.

And yes, the New Testament in one spot (It could be two), says that one shouldn't engage in homosexuality. One of the struggles of being a Christian in the 21st century, however, is judging such statements as being merely the product of a writer (often liberal for that day and age) or something that should really be considered important. It is in this way that you have Christians who embrace homosexuality and those who do not. More often than not, though, those who do not embrace it make the most noise and garner the most attention.

I do think that those fundamentalists who become so angry and hateful towards homosexuals are themselves sinning. Jesus sat and ate with the outcasts and unloved in his age. Paul, incidentally who is the source of some of the scripture that has lead to the controversial subjects of today, sat and ate with Gentiles, to the outrage of his fellow Jewish Christians. If anything, the Bible does say that even if you think someone is doing something wrong, that you still embrace them and offer them kindness and compassion. You don't hold signs up with words of hate on them.

As for the whole eternal damnation for non-believers, well, there's two ways to address that. 1) You don't believe in the Christian God (or a "God" or "god"), then there's no hell to worry about. Shrug it off and dismiss it as nothing to concern you. Why get upset that someone has said you're going to hell if that hell doesn't exist? 2) The Christian position is that while non-believers won't make it to Heaven, or rather, get to spend eternity with God, the path for them is there and always open. No one is shut out of Heaven, they just have to take up faith in Jesus Christ. Now, of course, the problem is that to some Christians the path to Heaven means this, and to other Christians, the path to Heaven means that. Who is right? I figure, we'll only know on Judgment Day. ;)
posted by Atreides at 6:21 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Perhaps after I hit the 500 mark, my new username will be "acceptable gay".
posted by hermitosis at 6:37 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]




Perhaps after I hit the 500 mark, my new username will be "acceptable gay".

we'd have to call in an inspector first.
posted by jonmc at 6:45 AM on February 18, 2008


As for the whole eternal damnation for non-believers, well, there's two ways to address that. 1) You don't believe in the Christian God (or a "God" or "god"), then there's no hell to worry about. Shrug it off and dismiss it

Isn't that how we got this post and 300 comments? Shrugging it off = lolxians. Dismissing it as "invisible man in the sky". That doesn't seem to be working, apparently.
posted by cashman at 6:50 AM on February 18, 2008


(I should also say that I don't want to pretend that the kind of bigoted Christian doctrine that taz and many others have called out does not exist; it's pretty clear that, especially in the US political spectrum, MLK is not the only relevant figure in Christian politics. I'm just frustrated by the grouping of everyone who shares one aspect of a complex belief system into a single bucket.)

also, liberation theology. /mefichan
posted by whir at 6:54 AM on February 18, 2008


God blows.
posted by kbanas at 6:58 AM on February 18, 2008


What I really meant, Cashman, was to do it inwardly and not respond to such. Course, I think, and this is an exception to the problem that began this thread, is that I don't mind abstract insults, like "God blows," at all. What probably irritates me more is being lumped by less discerning members into the Fundamentalist camp when I'm not one of them. Most people make their attacks against that group, but really don't care to differentiate between them and other Christians. Indifference, its a bitch.
posted by Atreides at 7:03 AM on February 18, 2008


ludwig_van, you say:

Anti-war people in your example and vegetarians in my example are not groups in the same sense that religious denominations are. I think a political party is a group that makes for a much more reasonable comparison to a religious faith.

This is where your reasoning is heading off in the wrong direction. With all due respect, your literacy about religion is not very high, and it might be a good idea to do some reading about comparative religion, the history of Christianity, and the differences and distinctions between Christian faiths if you want to have more meaningful discussions about Christianity here or elsewhere. This is not a bad place to start.

In your statement above, you have classification errors. "Christian" is not a "religious denomination;" I really like the definition Wikipedia has arrived at : "Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recounted in the New Testament."

A "religion" and a "denomination" are not the same thing. A "denomination" is a group within a religion who think alike and, in most (not all) cases, have some leadership body that engages in theological inquiry and church organization and sets forth dogma for followers to use. Denominations can be very, very different. Some denominations rely heavily on the Bible, while others leave it as an inspirational document referred to less often. Some believe it is a literal history; others see it as an allegory or metaphor or mixed-up and primitive version of history. Some believe it was divinely revealed to man, others that it's a collection of texts gathered through time, edited and manipulated by human beings many times to serve their own ends. Even among people who use the same translation of the Bible and belong to the same denomination, there are arguments over interpretation which church authority is often called to settle. The result of these official settlements becomes part of that denomination's dogma.

Even that dogma is vulnerable to change as succeeding denominations challenge it, or as new movements arise and new sects split off and form their own sets of dogma, a process that has occurred hundreds if not thousands of times throughout the history of Christianity. Because the splitting of a denomination is obviously a personally painful and often dangerous and insubordinate thing to do, it hasn't often been undertaken lightly, so differences of belief are obviously very serious to the Christians who have developed those differences. The history of Christianity is littered with martyrs and the persecuted, people who were jailed for their beliefs or hounded out of their countries or disenfranchised or barred from property ownership and so on and so forth. So, to people who belong to Christian faiths, the differences were often significant enough to be worth dying, or relinquishing worldly property for.

A "political party" might be comparable to an individual denomination, such as Catholicism, in which there is discussion and dissent among its members but a basic "platform," if you will, is shared. As an analogy, you might be able to say that the current Democratic Party is largely made up of Obama supporters, Clinton supporters, Kucinich supporters, and Edwards supporters, and that those groups have some differences of opinion about leadership and the finer points of policy. However, most of them will agree that they share the basic principles of the Democratic party platform. Catholics may be analogous to this: among present-day Catholics, you might find Catholic Workers, Charismatic Catholics, Traditionalist/Latin-Liturgy Catholics, and your basic diocesan groups who follow Vatican II. Within that latter group, you will find Catholics who disgree on issues like the ordination of women, abortion, the acceptance of gays, and the death penalty, all issues which the Church is struggling with right now and will likely result in dogmatic evolution during the next century. However, like the Democratic party, these groups all share a belief in papal authority, the Catholic Bible as basic text, and the seven sacraments, among other things, as rituals and traditions.

Those things do not necessarily apply to other Christian religions, who may be as different from Catholics as Greens or Libertarians or Republicans or independent wingnuts are from the Democratic party. This statement from the Vatican shows that the Catholic Church as a body does not believe that other Christian religions hold truth; for them, there is no such thing as "Christian equivalence." The same is true for many fundamentalist denominations who believe the Catholic Church is a perversion of the true Biblical religion. Papal authority? Forget about it. Same Bible? No, most Protestants do not recognize some Biblical texts that Catholics include in their Bible. Catholics accept the scientific description of evolution but consider it divinely led; many fundamentalist groups reject the scientific definition. Catholics accept that homosexuality as a state is not sinful, but decree homosexual activity sinful, while some fundamentalists may believe that homosexuality itself is sinful. Most Protestant religions do not believe that participation in church sacraments is necessary to salvation.

These theologies are flat-out incompatible, and you can see that the issues upon which Christian faiths differ are serious issues that touch on a wide variety of aspects of human experience. The fact that they all grow from the same Hebraic faith of the first century, and all use the life and sacrifice of Jesus as a central element of theology, does not mean that they are all the same. Though I consider myself to be a Christian, I would no more go to bat for Catholic belief that life begins at the zygote stage than I would for a Protestant belief in the Rapture. I would no more assert that one must be "born again" in order to experience salvation than I would that only hierarchically appointed, single, celibate males are fit to lead a church.

Do you see how very different Christian faiths can be?


Does "it's a personal decision" mean you can't explain it to me? I don't see how you can claim not to feel any association with those other Christians.


I don't have to explain it to you, but I will give a brief statement, though I see the burden of education as falling upon you, here. You claim to be curious about the differences while at the same time refusing to release your grip on the mistaken assumption that all Christians are "associated," when they are only associated by shared historical roots. If you are as curious as you seem to be, I encourage you to read and explore. World religious history, Christian history included, is a fascinating topic that yields amazing insights into how humans form beliefs and wield group power. There is a lot to learn about it.

As for me, my religious perspective may be unusual. I am the child of a mother who was raised Catholic and a father who was raised in the fundamentalist Church of Christ, which has some interestingly specific beliefs. Both valued their faiths but both were questioners, and when they married, both of their families were seriously upset that they had married "outside the faith," and were thus buying a one-way ticket to eternal damnation (which is why your idea that all Christian religions are "associated" is so funny). Again, Christians of different denominations do not consider themselves the same.

As a result of the meeting of these traditions, my parents became freethinkers and raised us as such. However, they had both had intense religious training growing up and continued to read in theology and its criticisms, and so they were very well informed about religous history and belief. The conversations around our dinner table ensured that we were raised with a basic understanding of the development of Christianity and its denominational divisions, philosophical problems, and theological fissures.

Having grown up with the awareness that within my own family, two Christian denominational worldviews were irreconcileable, I have been skeptical all my life about assertions of religious truth. For that reason, in my own spiritual development, I gravitated toward Quaker institutions, attracted by the peace testimony and the emphasis not on churchly authority but on the guidance of the inner light - both principles in which I deeply believe. Quakers encourage tolerance for all worldviews, although tolerance does not necessarily equal acceptance where there are moral objections (for instance, the belief that slavery was divinely ordained, a common enough Protestant belief of the early 1800s, was not accepted). Because the concept of inner light may take many forms, some Quakers do not self-identify as Christian and do not refer to the Bible as a religious text. Some do. There is a quite a bit of variety. Quaker dogma distills down to four major, simple principles. You can learn much more about the denomination I am part of, if you care to, here.

The reason that I want to speak up when the word "Christian" comes out is that it worries me that fundamentalist churches are very much working to co-opt the term. The word "Christian" is a huge, blanket categorization for Judeo-Christian faiths which vary widely and deeply in their specifics and is an extremely vague and large classification. But there is a narrower sense in which many churches use it, and they use it in an attempt to suggest that they are the only true Christians. This is not something I accept, since it immediately and unfairly casts people like myself, like Lutherans and Catholics and Methodists, as not Christian, thus neatly justifying their own worldviews as the revealed truth of Christianity.

There is no such revealed truth belonging to only one group of Christians. To agree that "Christian" describes only the fundamentalist, literalist, evangelical beliefs of a particular group of largely American churches is to ascribe to that sector the power to define a two-thousand-year-old, highly varied human religious movement in narrow terms set by their own church leadership. As a Christian with a much broader view of the category to which my faith belongs -- I object.
posted by Miko at 7:04 AM on February 18, 2008 [30 favorites]


we'd have to call in an inspector first.

Heh. Now I'm picturing some tired civil servant in a short-sleeved shirt and tie toting a clipboard and a styrofoam coffee cup, saying 'OK, Mr. hermitosis, you need to work on your flamboyance, but I'm willing to let that slide. Sign here. NEXT!'
posted by jonmc at 7:04 AM on February 18, 2008




The problem with framing the objection in this way is that Christianity is a belief system that one is free to adopt or abandon, while the other three are not.

---

Furthermore, with all due respect to taz, who is a wonderful person, her distinction between "what you can choose to be and cannot choose to be" as a defense of bigotry is obscene.

it's not only obscene, it's outdated or possibly soon to be outdated on a number of levels

there are those who wonder if we really have free choice in anything - leaving that can of worms behind - i might point out that a person is free to act or not act on their sexuality - and that with enough money a person can also choose to be a man or a woman

in a few decades, one will be able to choose one's children's or one's own racial characteristics by dna therapy

now think about all that - do we really want to say that "being x is a choice, therefore i can be bigoted towards people who make the choice to be x"? - that "you shouldn't complain about discrimination against your race because you could choose to change it?"

that sounds like a horrible line of argument, doesn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:18 AM on February 18, 2008


I wanted to add that when people feel that MetaFilter is hostile to religious faith, I don't think it's the faith itself that's the problem. The problem is that MetaFilter is a solidly reality-based community. We like facts. In our discussions, we tend to ask one another for arguments and evidence in order to establish points of agreement. Producing evidence for a spiritual belief is, obviously, pretty hard.

Much of the perceived hostility to religious perspectives would vanish, I think, if people who have those perspectives would simply acknowledge that that is just what it is - a religious perspective that lacks justification outside the faith, and not insist that it is revealed truth. Therein lies the problem - no one who's not in your religion needs to consider your 'revealed truth' as evidence, but you will still be expected to recognize the facts of reality as evidence. If more statements based on religious justification were simply couched in the language of religious belief, they would most likely be recognized as such - personal beliefs - and left unchallenged, or would at least be challenged more respectfully more often. Instead, we have problems when beliefs are presented as truths, without the usual sorts of evidence MetaFilter requires to establish something as generally "true." So for those who find that they are drawing fire because of their religiously based arguments, I would suggest trying an approach that includes the words "Within my faith we believe....blah blah blah." This allows the rest of the readership to understand that (a) you are speaking from a faith perspective and (b) you don't expect us to accept your denomination's dogma as sufficient evidence to support an argument. To demand tolerance one must show tolerance.

At the same time, I really welcome cogent discussions of religion and have found that users who post about their religious beliefs here have added to my knowledge.

And even then, beliefs are going to be challenged on MetaFilter. It happens daily. If you want to go somewhere where your beliefs won't be challenged, this isn't the place. No matter how hard I try, I can't see it as bad that religious beliefs are held up to the same level of examination here as other beliefs, such as those about politics or high fructose corn syrup or feminism.
posted by Miko at 7:23 AM on February 18, 2008 [10 favorites]


I'm way late to the party, but unpopular?

Yeah, so unpopular it elected the current president.

80% (roughly) of the US population is not "unpopular", and I'm far more tired of hearing Christian folks cry that they're some oppressed minority than you are of hearing your religion bashed.

I'll respect your desire, like everyone else's, not to be insulted for no good reason. I will not, however, respect your fallacious attempt to present yourself as some oppressed minority.
posted by twiggy at 7:38 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


“No matter how hard I try, I can't see it as bad that religious beliefs are held up to the same level of examination here as other beliefs, such as those about politics or high fructose corn syrup or feminism.”

As an atheist, I certainly agree. But is that really the issue here?

From my perspective, the issue is that more than a handful of people on MetaFilter feel that is is acceptable to make statements that explicitly or implicitly assert that all Christians, by virtue of being Christian, are bad people. I can imagine an objection to my use of the word all in that sentence; but I find that defense as weak as I find the similar defense used by a racist when he says that when he's saying very negative things about Black people he's only talking about a certain subgroup of Black people. I think it's no accident that the general category is used rather than the specific.

Really, c'mon: what we all know this is about is that even the best of us is tribal, even the best of us generalize in pernicious ways, even the best of us want to get our hate on, at least occasionally (and, sadly, more than occasionally). Within MeFi's demographic, Christians are among an exclusive set of acceptable targets. Everything beyond that is rationalization.

The dynamic here gets turned on its head in our demographic when the subject is Islam and not Christianity. As a more old-fashioned feminist, I bristle at anything I think is an apology for sexism and oppression for women on the grounds of tolerance and multiculturalism. Because of this, I occasionally find myself in a debate on the side of the right-wing nuts who use sexism as a facade behind which they can merely be bigots, and against left-wing folks who, I think, are willing to be apology for widespread misogyny in Islam for a combination of reasons, including the desire for tolerance and the desire to not be on the same side as the right-wing bigots. But my point in bringing that up is this: what I see happening in those debates is what I see happening here. I see a dual argument developing which gets more specific (influential sect X does horrible things Y) and general (are all Muslims alike) as a way for the right-wingers to defend their bigotry. Everyone loses perspective because people become polarized in their positions. And, as the kind of feminist I am, I'm standing there going, wait, does anyone really care about (many, certainly not all) Muslim women? Or are they just convenient pawns on the chessboard of cultural chauvinism and tribal bigotry?

Again, the two arguments really are similar.

I, like you, Miko, will defend “Christianity” and “Christians” from general hostility and smears because I, like you (as you demonstrate by your argument above) am aware of the enormous range of Christian belief and cultures. It's certainly not the case that I have any love for the Fred Phelps and fellow travelers. As an atheist who grew up in the Bible Belt, I have more hatred for them than most. But I also am an atheist who happens to know that Evangelical is not equivalent to conservative Christian. I've known progressive Evengelicals; I know there's a strong (but currently marginalized) progressive Evangelical tradition in the US. And that's just talking about the subcategory of Evangelicals when the whole of Christianity is slammed here on MeFi as if it were a monolith! And, through knowing my sister, I've learned that even within what is thought of as the right-of-center Evangelical community in the US, there's a growing schism between a much more tolerant and apolitical youth(ish) movement and the old guard most of us think of when we think about the conservative, Evangelical Christian right.

Fred Phelps deserves to be hated and ridiculed just like the Taliban does. But to talk venomously about all of Christianity or Islam and then claim either that each is really just like that subpopulation or that one is really only talking about that subpopulation is either a rationalization or a lie. It's bigotry, it's wrong. We can oppose the things which need to be opposed and even say (as I'm willing to do, even though strictly speaking I'm not a moral absolutist) that someone or some group of people are evil...but when we are very indiscriminate in doing so, it's much more about us and our own desire to be hateful than it is about the people we're supposedly condemning.
posted by Dances with Werewolves at 8:00 AM on February 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


now think about all that - do we really want to say that "being x is a choice, therefore i can be bigoted towards people who make the choice to be x"? - that "you shouldn't complain about discrimination against your race because you could choose to change it?"

Here's the thing about religious tolerance, the hidden tension when you see the litany that there will be no discrimination based on "race, creed, nationality, gender, sexual preference."

It's not wrong, by which I mean factually incorrect, to be male or female or to fall into a racial classification or to be gay or straight. Listen to the absurdity of that: "You're incorrect to be female," makes no sense. You just are female.

It is clear, however, that with all these mutually exclusive religions, even if you assume The Truth to be whatever you want, that the majority of people on Earth are factually incorrect in their religious beliefs. "You're incorrect to be a Scientologist. Xenu wasn't flying thetans around on DC-8s" makes sense.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:01 AM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Evangelical is not equivalent to conservative Christian

Yeah, I'm sorry, it becomes really hard to define terms so that everyone knows what's being talked about. You're right, of course, as was dw when he drew a distinction between "evangelical" and "fundamentalist." The very specificity of these terms, when they are used in the popular press kind of loosely, is part of the problem.

I agree that people take easy shots at Christians as a group here and that it would be better if they stopped.
posted by Miko at 8:06 AM on February 18, 2008


Twiggy, Fundamentalist or very conservative Christians do make up a minority (though sizable) in the American population. The reason they claim they're oppressed is because mainstream media and culture generally do not reflect their set of values. In their perspective, they can't turn on the tv or to the movies without having their opinions assaulted by the majority.

I'm not defending them, but trying to explain where these comments are coming from. Likewise, the 80% static you throw out is not applicable because it doesn't represent a uniform group of Christians. I have never claimed or felt any type of persecution in my entire life.
posted by Atreides at 8:07 AM on February 18, 2008


The problem is that MetaFilter is a solidly reality-based community. We like facts.

The fastest way to whittle facts down to an erroneously manageable perspective comes is to undermine the free discussion of ideas.

In our discussions, we tend to ask one another for arguments and evidence in order to establish points of agreement. Producing evidence for a spiritual belief is, obviously, pretty hard.

Expecting supplemental information is fair. Expecting evidence isn't. Giving people the benefit of the doubt that they have come by their beliefs and ideas through the same arduous process you have is worth more than finding points of agreement.

I would suggest trying an approach that includes the words "Within my faith we believe....blah blah blah." This allows the rest of the readership to understand that (a) you are speaking from a faith perspective and (b) you don't expect us to accept your denomination's dogma as sufficient evidence to support an argument.

You're essentially asking religious people to give a disclaimer acknowledging that they know their ideas aren't relevant to anyone who doesn't share their belief. To pre-empt others from pointing this out for them. I don't think that's a fair expectation (though plenty of people already take that approach). There are plenty of assholes on the site who seem to live in a universe that gives unbridled sway to their fractal wrongness-- probably more of them than there are religious users-- and I never see any of them saying, "In my parallel universe of rotten assholes, we believe..."

I can't see it as bad that religious beliefs are held up to the same level of examination here as other beliefs, such as those about politics or high fructose corn syrup or feminism.

It's just a different style of examination and argument, which requires a different approach than debating HFCS or politics, and too many users are either too slow or completely unwilling to change gears from one sphere of thought to the next. Most religious people LOVE being challenged, LOVE to argue about what may be true, and pick over subjects discerning the real wisdom from the convenient or toothless banalities. But reaching that point requires an environment in which the conversation can elevate above "Prove it or shut up", and unfortunately that's about where we usually find ourselves.
posted by hermitosis at 8:10 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I tried, got about halfway through before realizing the good stuff had already been said, and will just add this:

MeFi is not the kind of place where it's ok to say, "Black people are a special kind of sinner simply because they're black." MeFi is also not the kind of place where it's ok to say, "Gay people are a special kind of sinner simply because they're gay." Both of those statements are hateful bigoted garbage. Konolia's sense that it is unfair to ask her to keep that kind of comment off the site is nonsense.
posted by mediareport at 8:11 AM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think languagehat is generally correct here that hoping for respect for her religion is not a very reasonable expectation as a place nasty as this. That is especially true if konolia is going to criticize others for not conforming to her version of Christianity or condemning others.

We are not going to solve the question that is as old as mankind itself about whether there is a divine creator or not and, if so, what is the nature of the creator. Most of human history is nothing more than that argument played out over and over. Believers and non-believers have to coexist. Just as we are not going to make this place adherents to or uniformly respect religion, we are not (and ought not) try to purge this place of believers by driving them away with our rhetoric.

Ideally, we would have respectful discussions of such topics wherein both sides show the other respect for their position. That is obviously not going to happen. We should try to be better than a youtube comment-level discussion, and we frequently are. Criticism of Christianity should be permitted despite it being an affront to believers. The character and tone of the criticism is something that should be considered.

konolia's ultimate request won't happen. But let me posit a different one: perhaps something should be done about certain individuals who incessantly try to one-up each other in a race to see who can be the most caustic in their derision towards religion. I think frequent readers can identify certain individuals who do not let any opportunity pass without making some caustic insult to religion.

Reasonable and respectful disputation is to be applauded. Occasional snarky slams are to be expected. Repetitive caustic and insulting behavior by the same individuals on a hobby horse ought to be addressed administratively (just as it was suggested to konolia to avoid the topic from her perspective).
posted by dios at 8:13 AM on February 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


"Sure, not every Muslim is extreme as Al Qaeda, but the religion itself has a core of hatred and nastiness that is reflected in its every manifestation". That's the argument there, and that's the argument here with regard to Christianity.

no, no, it's not, and provably so. those right wing sites don't simply argue that Islam has a hateful core (a fact that's quite evident to any reader, judaism and christianity have a hateful core, too, just read Tanakh/the Old Testament), those right wingers argue that it's OK to, and I quote one of their favorite writers, "invade their countries, kill their leaders" (the conversion to Christianity isn't panning out, yet, but there's always time).

they argue that it's OK to torture because it's not torture if it's done to Muslims (in Mukasey's memorable turn of phrase, it's torture if it's done to him, to others, not so much). they argue that it's OK to kidnap them instead of putting them under arrest; they argue that it's OK to treat them as enemy combatants in a limbo where there is no law but the US administration's will.

that's what they argue. not simply that Islam has a hateful core. thay argue people's inferiority on their basis of their faith, and the necessity to have rights taken away from them.

the situation here is different because the Satanic MetaFilter liberals don't try to make it illegal for konolia to go to church, to homeschool her kids feeding them lots of Bronze Age cosmology instead of actual science, or to impose on her to, say, have an abortion when she instead would rather have the baby; they also don't want to kick her straight kids out of the military because they're straight; they don't want to etch in the Constitution konolia's subhuman status due to her sexual orientation. and I'd be surprised to learn that her marriage is in danger of being annulled due to the fact the she married a man instead of a woman. I'd also be surprised to hear that liberals have kicked her son out of the military because he's not gay.

she, instead, and let's make this clear, is in favor of many, many people enjoying second class citizen status (as opposed to her first class citizen one) due to their being gay; she is also in favor of Antonin Scalia and George W. Bush deciding what American women will do with their pregnancies -- ie, not interrupt them.

because konolia and her "subculture" (her words) have been working incessantly, these last 30 years, to take rights away from other Americans (gays, pregnant women) and to bomb a lot of non-Americans (many of whom, maybe it's not a coincidence, are Muslims. and frankly the atheists here hurt her feelings so much that she never found the time to write a couple words about how, like, America shouldn't really be a nation of torturers with a religious agenda, but it's actually been founded as a nation of laws. she took the time, though, to make fun of John Kerry's war wounds -- one only hopes no one close to her gets hurt in war because it'd suck to see somebody make fun of their injuries, that's for sure).

the truth is I don't think may people here give a flying fuck what she does in her home and in her church -- Satan knows I don't. the problem is, not many people want to take konolia's civil rights away. she, instead, to quote the guy who, and this is awesome, may very well be her next President, is an "agent of intolerance".

she's an agent of intolerance whose political party has been very successful in making (or keeping) that intolerance into law. and the fact that she's a whiner, too, makes her war against the gays, against science and against women even more sickening.
posted by matteo at 8:15 AM on February 18, 2008 [22 favorites]


We are not going to solve the question that is as old as mankind itself about whether there is a divine creator or not and, if so, what is the nature of the creator

Shape Of The Earth, Views Differ.
posted by matteo at 8:18 AM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


“It's not wrong, by which I mean factually incorrect, to be male or female or to fall into a racial classification or to be gay or straight. Listen to the absurdity of that: ‘You're incorrect to be female,’ makes no sense. You just are female.”

Yes, but infallibility is not possible for any of us. I'll go further and say that I think that being factually right about almost anything that's not a trivial matter of fact is close to being impossible for most of us. Being wrong is in a very real sense just as much our nature as is being male or female or anything else.

In a practical sense, I'm not a philosophical relativist and I do believe that as a practical matter, we can know more and less about things and be more right and more wrong about them. And necessarily, being right and wrong about reality is a moral matter.

But it's far truer that we are all sinners in being ignorant and mistaken than that we are all sinners because we have made bad moral choices. Our ignorance is vast, our capacity for intellectual error is enormous. In that context, where matters of fact are heavily contested we have to allow others to be wrong without making a moral judgment about their beliefs.

And few matters of fact are more heavily contested than the basis of religious belief. This is why I am tolerant of theists even though—as an empiricist and a materialist and someone well-educated in both philosophy and science—I feel quite certain that as a matter of fact the theists are mistaken. I have difficulty understanding why their error is not evident to them, but my life experience has informed me that it is certain that I have made and am making errors of fact that, to others, are self-evident. It is easy to be wrong, difficult to be right. I cannot condemn someone as morally in error merely because they believe something that a large portion of the world's population also believes. That is to say, I won't declare them morally in the wrong merely for their belief. The actions taken on the basis of that belief? Yes, I will condemn those. But simply for being wrong? No.

And so I find your distinction as unconvincing as I find the more general distinction between choice and birth discussed before. If anything, tolerance for others on the basis of what they cannot choose and cannot know is an easy tolerance that only gets you so far and, more importantly, ignores the essential nature of man. We are creatures who make choices and who form complex beliefs about the universe. If anything deserves to be respected by way of tolerance, it is the differences which arise between us on the basis of our acting according to our deepest nature and noblest instincts. We must be tolerant of different choices and we must be tolerant of error.
posted by Dances with Werewolves at 8:19 AM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


FIGHT! FIGHT!
INNER LIGHT!
KILL, QUAKERS, KILL!

SMASH 'EM! BASH 'EM!
BEAT 'EM SENSELESS!
DO WE HAVE CONSENSUS?

And on preview, fuckin' A, Matteo, youdaman!
posted by breezeway at 8:22 AM on February 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.
posted by konolia at 8:25 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, guys. What did I miss?
posted by Eideteker at 8:26 AM on February 18, 2008


Hello - I don't have the 90 minutes to read this thread, but can I just add that your favorite deity sucks? For you atheists and agnostics: your favorite thoughts about what makes the world tick also suck.
posted by not_on_display at 8:29 AM on February 18, 2008


I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.

We'll all just have to wonder, as none of us know the mind of God, if indeed there is such an entity.
posted by Miko at 8:30 AM on February 18, 2008


"Are some more worthy of respect than others?"

People? No. Beliefs? Yes.

"I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread."

She's up there with Orville Redenbacher, munching away.
posted by Eideteker at 8:31 AM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.

God doesn't think. And God is precisely nowhere.

Which is to say, everywhere.

It's very deep.

Goodnight.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:36 AM on February 18, 2008


I hope there's butter on that popcorn, or all the tales of Heaven will be a lie.
posted by Atreides at 8:38 AM on February 18, 2008


You cannot assert your own right to make judgments about other people's actions while shouting down others who make differing judgments.

Um... actually yes you can. Here's the thing: the judgements that konolia and her ilk utter lead to serious, dangerous, real-world consequences. Me judging that? Doesn't.

As for the whole eternal damnation for non-believers, well, there's two ways to address that. 1) You don't believe in the Christian God (or a "God" or "god"), then there's no hell to worry about. Shrug it off and dismiss it

In theory, sure. In reality? See above about consequences.

she, instead, and let's make this clear, is in favor of many, many people enjoying second class citizen status (as opposed to her first class citizen one) due to their being gay; she is also in favor of Antonin Scalia and George W. Bush deciding what American women will do with their pregnancies -- ie, not interrupt them.

Quoted for emphasis. All of you apologists for her hatred and bigotry need to understand this. Yeah, okay, you're trying to change her. She. Won't. It just won't happen. jonmc, notice how she never responded about those books? She never will. You know why? Because she has no interest in changing her mind, and she never will. A gay grandchild won't even make a difference, because that kid is going to be raised in such an atmosphere of hatred and bigotry that s/he will be jammed so far back in the closet s/he'll be in serious danger of, ironically, death by coathanger.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:45 AM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.

God strikes me as more of a MetaChat type.

OMS BUNNIES!
posted by Iridic at 8:47 AM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


FIGHT! FIGHT!
INNER LIGHT!
KILL, QUAKERS, KILL!

SMASH 'EM! BASH 'EM!
BEAT 'EM SENSELESS!
DO WE HAVE CONSENSUS?


Isn't that Earlham College's cheer?

In other notes, re: Quakerism:

There are three major branches: Friends United Meeting, Friends General Conference, and Evangelical Friends International. Friends General Conference is the more known in the U.S.; they are known for their anti-war stance, unprogrammed (silent worship) meetings, and a great diversity of opinion.

Friends United Meeting tends to be somewhat more bible-centered, somewhat more conservative, may have programmed (like regular Protestant church service) or unprogrammed meetings. There is even a small subgroup of FUM Quakers who still practice plain dress.

Evangelical Friends International, as the name hints, tends to be a proselytizing, evangelical branch. The other two branches have an uneasy relationship to them for this reason. EFI tends to be the most prevalent form of Quakerism in developing countries (particularly Kenya) because of evangelizism.
posted by lleachie at 8:50 AM on February 18, 2008


konolia said: I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.

If there is a God, I hope he/she/it is tending to more important matters than a MetaTalk thread.
posted by amyms at 8:50 AM on February 18, 2008


True lleachie, I admit that I take FGC to be the default when in fact there's no reason to do so.
posted by Miko at 8:52 AM on February 18, 2008


It just won't happen. jonmc, notice how she never responded about those books? She never will. You know why? Because she has no interest in changing her mind, and she never will.

Yeah, I noticed, and yes, I'm disappointed about that. But you seem to be implying that change of any kind is impossible and that I should just give uo. Sorry, but I can't do that. And people change their minds about isues all the time, it's called growth and maturing. And prejudice isn't just some free-floating virus, it's taught and it's influenced by external factors, and what's taught can be untaught. and, yes sometimes it only happens from personal experience. I don't really care why people come around, as long as they do.

I'm not just talking aabout the individual case of konolia here, I'm talking about how I approach this problem in general, and I explicitly state that I don't expect you to do the same. You may think I'm a fool. That's your prerogative. But I won't stop trying and I don't think that makes me an apologist.
posted by jonmc at 8:53 AM on February 18, 2008


On the whole it looks like mostly this was a cry for attention, but I can also see from konolia's viewpoint how she thinks she's being unfairly singled out. We can debate whether or not LOLXTIAN and GAYSARESINNERS are equivalent comments, but that really doesn't matter. This is not an issue of fairness. Since this is a privately owned website, the mods get to decide what kind of discourse is allowed and what isn't. They can, if they choose, be completely unfair about it.

I'd say this is a pretty open forum, unlike most of the religious forums out there.
posted by jeblis at 8:54 AM on February 18, 2008


If there is a God, I hope he/she/it is tending to more important matters than a MetaTalk thread.

You might want to believe that, but the truth is that God is a combination of Santa Claus and the Soviet Union. In the Great Lists of Naughty and Nice, nothing is too petty.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:57 AM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wow you just blew my fuckin mind.
posted by disclaimer at 8:57 AM on February 18, 2008


Listen to the absurdity of that: "You're incorrect to be female," makes no sense.

that's not what people say in this day and age - they say "you're inferior/unequal/etc to be female" and you know this - and they say the exact same thing about religious followers and you know this, too

You just are female.

unless you have doctors change that - the whole point i'm making is that if one is saying identity politics doesn't work if you can change identities, future biological advances are going to affect everyone's identity politics in the same way


It is clear, however, that with all these mutually exclusive religions, even if you assume The Truth to be whatever you want, that the majority of people on Earth are factually incorrect in their religious beliefs.

if you can't prove they're factually incorrect, then your distinction is meaningless

the whole factually incorrect thing is a red herring - especially as it's not what people believe that angers the more reasonable of us but how they act on those beliefs
posted by pyramid termite at 8:58 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because when two people argue with equal conviction, the truth is always in the middle.

I argue with utmost conviction that the moon is made of green cheese. Sorry, but the automatic assumption that both sides of an argument fall on equal logical footing ticks me off.
posted by jeblis at 8:58 AM on February 18, 2008


the truth is that God is a combination of Santa Claus and the Soviet Union.

Only a bourgeois crypto-syndicalist pig-lackey would say that. You are clearly in need of some friendly discussion, preferably at the local NKVD facility, which is famed for the many comforts it provides to the comrades being processed.

So, comrade, let us proceed quietly down the street with a minimum of fuss, yes?
posted by aramaic at 9:02 AM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Please keep the Jews out of this. Please keep the Jews out of this. Oh dear God I hope they keep the Jews out of this.
posted by prophetsearcher at 9:06 AM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


So, comrade, let us proceed quietly down the street with a minimum of fuss, yes?

HO HO HO, comrade, we need to rehabilitate you through a vocational program at the elves' workshop - you can jump inside the red sack or get tossed there
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 AM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


So, comrade, let us proceed quietly down the street with a minimum of fuss, yes?

Get behind me, Santa.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:12 AM on February 18, 2008 [8 favorites]


Why, yes, lleachie, it is Earlham College's cheer. I'm stunned!

They hold programmed meetings out there, which really feel like church service compared to silent meetings, which I always associated with New England (but only through inexperience; the only Quaker meetings I've been to outside of Indiana were in Maryland and Connecticut). Plus they have the Earlham School of Religion, which as far as I know is the only Quaker seminary around. Which seems weird; sermons in the Meetinghouse and a seminary turning out ministers seems anathema to what I had previously understood as Quakerism. But that of God is still within everyone, and it always seemed to me to be just a community difference when I was out there. I always though FUM was more prevalent in the midwest, but I'm looking at it through the myopia of personal experience, and we all know how misleading what we know can be.

Ah, those fine days on the Heart, the air redolent with rendered beef from the Richmond Purina factory, Dan the Autoharp Man plinking away, Road to Revolution, perched open and unread face down on my chest, unlikely to be digested in time for my afternoon Humanities class, errant frisbees whizzing across the blue; I drift off in reverie.

GO HUSTLIN' QUAKERS!
posted by breezeway at 9:26 AM on February 18, 2008


konolia writes "I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread."

Probably that those slackers aren't ever getting into Valhalla if they don't start wielding weapons rather than keyboards.
posted by Mitheral at 9:29 AM on February 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


and given that Scalia brought Thomas into the Church, and that Thomas is Scalias little shadow ideological pal, it shouldn't be surprising.

Yeah. They vote together a lot. So do Ginsburg and Breyer, who must therefore be members of the Spartacist League.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:31 AM on February 18, 2008


Atreides: You don't believe in the Christian God (or a "God" or "god"), then there's no hell to worry about. Shrug it off and dismiss it as nothing to concern you. Why get upset that someone has said you're going to hell if that hell doesn't exist?

I'd originally missed this and only saw it in dnab's response. Aside from the consequences he alluded to, I'll add my thoughts on why it's upsetting / annoying / bothersome despite a lack of belief in hell and god's eternal wrath.

It's a social thing. The hellfire & brimstone spewer is making me out to be a lesser being or an abomination, or asserting that they're in a better position than I, simply because of the mode and orifice in which I want to copulate. It's not necessary for me to believe in what they believe for me to see that I'm being seen as inferior and/or in an inferior position.

Take the case of a white supremacist and a black person. When the supremacist calls the black person a nigger monkey, is it necessary for the black person to believe he/she is a nigger monkey to feel insulted?

Also, you could be giving the same advice to the Christians here. They know god exists, why should they feel slighted when someone makes a LOLSkyWizard crack?

konolia: I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.

This is getting awfully close to the proselytizing that jonmc says you don't engage in.
posted by CKmtl at 9:36 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


how about atheists and everyone else (and not just Christians) use the "offensive" flag on LOLXTIANS comments as surely as they would on God Hates Fags comments. and move on
posted by Rumple at 9:36 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's see:

If a number of Christians held a bit closer to "Judge not, lest ye be judged", "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them", "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" and quite importantly "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" people would have a better opinion of Christians and these Christians wouldn't come close to "Pharisee and Publican" territory.

If a number of irreligious people didn't curtail their empathy when faced with others' belief (while accusing Christians of bigotry), didn't generalise about 2 billion Christians (while resenting blanket statements about gays or non-believers), didn't refuse to acknowledge the Christians who fight against poverty or support separation of Church and State for the benefit of both (while decrying the influence of fundamentalists and the persecution complex of some Christians) and, lastly, if they cared about the social needs that religion fulfills and allowed for intelligent Christians like, say, nobelists (instead of self-congratulating themselves for following science instead of invisible sky wizards/teapots that can't be [dis]proved), they'd be more intellectually honest and have a better standing with folks who believe.

There've been some great comments here, especially by those who deigned to examine the "other side's" POV and didn't shy from self-examination. Kudos!
posted by ersatz at 9:37 AM on February 18, 2008


Probably that those slackers aren't ever getting into Valhalla if they don't start wielding weapons rather than keyboards.

but, but..I come from the land of the ice with the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
posted by jonmc at 9:37 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


“Here's the thing: the judgements that konolia and her ilk utter lead to serious, dangerous, real-world consequences. Me judging that? Doesn't.”

I see. So only beliefs that have no real world consequences are acceptable for discussion in public? I doubt you are asserting that.

Yes, some arguments which, in isolation, are acceptable for civil discourse are nevertheless being utilized as cover for an agenda of intolerance and hatred by homophobes. Even so, those arguments should be countered, not shouted down and silenced by an appeal to authority.

Furthermore, the distinction you are making is more self-serving than it is true. Widespread social acceptability of homosexuality certainly leads to serious, real-world consequences (that homophobes will argue are dangerous). Silencing those who argue in civil discourse against the acceptability of homosexuality is furthering that acceptability. Therefore, your public judgment of her speech does have serious, real-world consequences.

I prefer to achieve those consequences by arguing against konolia's assertions rather than silencing her. Do I think that self-evident, widely-acknowledged bigoted speech to be acceptable in civil discourse and argue against censoring it? No, I do not. You will argue that assertions that homosexual sex is a sin qualifies as self-evident, widely-acknowledged bigoted speech, but I disagree. Asserting that a particular behavior is sinful does not qualify because such assertions are commonplace, almost inescapable and omnipresent. This particular example is pernicious only because the agenda it furthers is oppressive and the assertion is key argument in justifying it. Looking to the example of women, sexism, and religious belief, I can think of a number of things that various religions condemn and assert that are essential to misogyny and utilized in its continuance. But I don't find those specific assertions about behaviors to be hate-speech and therefore reasonably censored.

I'm sure you bristle at my emphasis on behavior as opposed to identity—and your sensitivity in this regard is entirely understandable. Being gay is not merely behavior; for a gay or lesbian person it is an essential part of who you are. Condemnation of behavior is, in this perspective, equal to a condemnation of the individual. Which, in turn, is part of the generalized bigotry that expresses hatred for entire classes of people.

Though Christians are not born Christian, some might as well have been—many have little choice. Others come to it willfully. Either way, a great many feel that being a Christian is an essential part of their identity. Few things, in fact, are held so deeply as part of an identity as one's faith and religious affiliation. And so condemnation of Christianity, Christian beliefs, and behavior made on the basis of Christian faith are, to many or most Christians, very much an attack on their identities, their selves. It's very convenient for you to call every judgment they make as bigotry and hate because you believe it is an attack on your identity while, simultaneously, refusing to recognize that your judgments about their beliefs and actions are not attacks on their identities. And, as I have already said, the issue of choice is a red-herring in general—not to mention that in this specific context, it's very unclear whether faith and religious belief and even behavior on its basis is, for a very large number of people, truly a matter of choice at all.

I think that the question of whether homosexuality is right or wrong, good or bad, is the ultimate question at the heart of this culture war and the one that must be confronted by those of us fighting for gay rights. But the simple assertion and belief that it is wrong, while at the very heart of the matter, is not at the heart of statements and actions of bigotry. A majority of Americans today support at least a minimal notion of gay rights and both the number believing so and the extent of their support increases every day. Yet I feel certain that most of those still believe that there is something, nevertheless, "wrong" with homosexuality. We need to oppose that belief, but it's not where the bigotry is occurring. The bigotry is happening where the fear of the other results in violence, in action and in speech. That we can say is unacceptable and in need of censorship. But merely being wrong in belief (and publicly asserting that belief) in a matter of morality? No, that should be answered, not censored.

I see a clear difference between saying "Gays are contemptible, noxious creatures that don't even deserve to live, much less be accepted in polite society" and "homosexual sex is wrong". If I substitute "Christians/Christian activity" for "gays/homosexual sex" I see the same difference. The former statements are unacceptable and defensibly censored (at least in the non-governmental realm) while the latter are not. We can suspect bigotry behind ostensibly defensible statements, but that alone is simply not enough to censor them.
posted by Dances with Werewolves at 9:38 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just learned that the "beating a dead horse" phrase actually has to with the near useless results of having to beat the work out of British sailors until they sobered up or understood they were stuck after being press ganged. And that usually took until the ship sailed across the horse latitudes.

You "learned" an urban legend. Why are people so ready to believe any cock-and-bull story they hear about language? And why do so many of those stories involve sailors?
posted by languagehat at 9:38 AM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


land of the ice and snow, dammit. I am not your overlord.
posted by jonmc at 9:39 AM on February 18, 2008


I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.


Hopefully He thinks, "I gotta stop reading Metafilter and get to work on Darfur"
posted by Rumple at 9:39 AM on February 18, 2008 [10 favorites]


Why are people so ready to believe any cock-and-bull story they hear about language? And why do so many of those stories involve sailors?

Interestingly, "cock-and-bull story" comes from the Aesop's fable about the gullible rooster who believed everything that cows told him.

Also, "sailor" is an acronym.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:45 AM on February 18, 2008 [10 favorites]


If one does not believe in sin, how can one possibly be offended by those who assert that gay sex is sinful? You can't have it both ways. Either deep down you know the assertion is correct, or you are simply using the assertion as an excuse to exercise intolerance, which you hold to be the ultimate sin. But, heh, you don't believe in sin. Fucking hypocritical liberal atheist gay aborto-bots.
posted by Horken Bazooka at 9:46 AM on February 18, 2008


You can't have it both ways

There are so many errors of logic & rhetoric here that the mind boggles.
posted by aramaic at 9:48 AM on February 18, 2008


land of the ice and snow, dammit. I am not your overlord.

Thanks for fixing that, bro; I very nearly lost my faith
posted by breezeway at 9:49 AM on February 18, 2008


That's OK. You still get a whole lotta love.
posted by jonmc at 9:53 AM on February 18, 2008


Fucking hypocritical liberal atheist gay aborto-bots.

you forgot commie and you forgot peaceniks

so that would be fucking hypocritical commie peacenik liberal atheist gay aborto-bots

got it?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:55 AM on February 18, 2008


Fucking hypocritical liberal atheist solar-powered gay aborto-bots.

I see your strawman, and raise.
posted by heeeraldo at 9:58 AM on February 18, 2008


unless you have doctors change that - the whole point i'm making is that if one is saying identity politics doesn't work if you can change identities, future biological advances are going to affect everyone's identity politics in the same way

You can get a sex change or a hypothetical race change or otherwise change many of these non-religious identity affiliations and it doesn't have anything to do with truth.

But there's a god or there isn't a god. The plane takes off or it doesn't. We actually know the truth about the latter and certainly not about the former, but we still had an argument about the plane. Konolia wants, from one of her examples, that we can't call god an asshole, yet the problem of evil is a very old theological topic and I would say an appropriate topic for discourse.

if you can't prove they're factually incorrect, then your distinction is meaningless


Can you make a logical argument for or against femaleness? Can you make a logical argument for or against religious beliefs?

the whole factually incorrect thing is a red herring - especially as it's not what people believe that angers the more reasonable of us but how they act on those beliefs


What people believe and how they act on it are pretty closely related. If I don't believe homosexuality is wrong I'm pretty unlikely to be a bigot about it, unless I'm a politician.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:59 AM on February 18, 2008


oh, yeah - here

fucking hypocritical commie peacenik liberal atheist solar-powered gay aborto-bot secular humanists

now we're getting somewhere
posted by pyramid termite at 10:00 AM on February 18, 2008


Fucking pothead hypocritical liberal atheist solar-powered gay aborto-bots.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:00 AM on February 18, 2008


so that would be fucking hypocritical commie peacenik liberal atheist gay aborto-bots

No, no, no. Didn't you attend the convention where this was hammered out?

There is only one Abortobot. It is made up of the union of hypocrites, commies, peaceniks, liberals, atheists, and gays. They all come together to form an entity that is more powerful than each of its constituent parts.

Like Voltron.
posted by CKmtl at 10:03 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know, if folks will indulge me in a little wholly innacurate yet bizarrely inoffensive riff on the intersection of popular music and religious debate, I'll posit that this thread reminds me of the guitar solo section in Bryan ("I'm not Ryan, eh?") Adams' "Summer of 69," in that Adams sings, "NO!" just before the ax starts swinging, and then, once the solo is done, he shouts, "YEAH!"

Like I said, wholly inaccurate.
posted by breezeway at 10:05 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


What does God think? God is amazed at how much energy has been expended in this thread. God says Konolia wins for insigating with so little effort such excitement and passion in his name. God says, "Konolia, you are a wise leader for planting the seed of my name and letting it grow like a garden among my flock of disbelievers." God knows an opportunity when God sees it...and so does Konolia.
posted by mrmojoflying at 10:09 AM on February 18, 2008


You can get a sex change or a hypothetical race change or otherwise change many of these non-religious identity affiliations and it doesn't have anything to do with truth.

it doesn't? the statement "i'm more comfortable living my life as X" isn't some kind of truth for the person deciding it? - isn't it as much of a belief based truth as religious conviction is?

But there's a god or there isn't a god.

what kind of god? and how do you prove either proposition?

Can you make a logical argument for or against femaleness?

sure - "males cause wars, exploitation of the planet, and many other evils and as soon as we perfect technology that can create new life out of two eggs, instead of sperm and egg, we should stop having male children and have a female only species"

and yes, i've seen people argue that

now how logical it may be is another question - but of course, the logic of the argument can be impeccable, yet the assumptions it is based upon may be questionable or unprovable

the same thing can be said for religious arguments

What people believe and how they act on it are pretty closely related.

except that the castigation of people for believing in so called invisible sky gods has nothing to with how they act upon a belief - people do that here all the time
posted by pyramid termite at 10:16 AM on February 18, 2008


There is only one Abortobot.

I AM ABORTOBOT

has he lost his mind
can he see or is he blind? ....
posted by pyramid termite at 10:18 AM on February 18, 2008


How long do the solar powered abortobots run on a single charge? I've got a lot of aborting coming up, and oil is so expensive the cost-per-fetus is through the roof with my petroleum powered model.
posted by cmonkey at 10:22 AM on February 18, 2008


I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.

Too easy.
posted by bhance at 10:22 AM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Even so, those arguments should be countered, not shouted down and silenced by an appeal to authority.

Were konolia's comments really that bad that they had to be deleted? If anything leaving them up would serve to expose her bigotry. Wouldn't social norming likely take care of bad behavior?
posted by jeblis at 10:22 AM on February 18, 2008


How long do the solar powered abortobots run on a single charge?

you have to turn the crank once in awhile - RTFM
posted by pyramid termite at 10:27 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to pull out this particular section of Pater Aletheias's comment, because I think it's been overlooked:

It starts with us. When the church is known more for humility than power, more for love than hate, and more for gentleness than anger, then non-Christians might start to be ashamed of the way they've been speaking about those selfless folks who seem to always have an open hand for those in need. But we aren't there right now, and I think that this is a moment in time when it's probably better for us to wince a little and really listen carefully to what the outsiders are saying. Sometimes it's a dagger, but often it's a mirror.

That mirror can be awfully painful, which is why so many Christians immediately go on the defensive. And then we get to parse the whole "well, not MY denomination!" thing, and it all goes on from there.

My problem, as a person who (although raised in a culture that is predominantly Judeo-Christian) prefers to judge people by their actions instead of their words is that so very many Christians I encounter make it terribly difficult to take them seriously. Megachurch pastors, Prada-wearing popes, whatever.

I live in a neighborhood which is chockablock with convents. I think the sisters do wonderful things for the poor and the needy in our community, and I respect them for it. Yet I think someone like Joel Osteen ought to be taken out and flogged for his gladhanding ridiculousness.

Point being, you need to assess people and institutions on an individual basis as they relate to you, but when the overwhelming majority of people and institutions that fall under a certain category (in this case, "Christian") are doing things you find offensive, well -- it's hard not to lump everything together into one big ball-o-stuff. I respect individual Christians of all denominations as people but I can't really get behind the larger worldview they espouse.

My grad school thesis work was done on the conversion of the Saxons -- how, by force, Charlemagne tried to convert them. Ten years later? They were back up to their old pagan tricks. But when the Ottonian emperors started seeding the countryside with religious foundations (usually headed up by female members of their extended royal family), they started to get results because the people got to see, firsthand, what positive things Christianity could do for them and theirs, and they began to integrate the Christian worldview into their own (which was rather different).

[On a sidenote: if you're interested in this sort of thing, go read the Heliand, a transposition of the first four Gospels into the pagan Germanic worldview where Jesus is the leader of a group of men who pay him tribute and honor him in the same way their tribal structure expects a leader to receive, making him that much more worthy of respect. See, the whole "he's a poor carpenter" thing would've made your typical Saxon say "So? Why the hell should we listen to him, then?!"] But I digress...

I can't get behind the Christian worldview in particular as it's expressed here in the U.S. because it seems SO obsessed with converting we Saxons to their view and only theirs without respecting any of our deeply-held beliefs. I resent the intrusion of religion into politics and the revisionist history that would have you believe it was always this way, forever and ever, amen. You believe what you want to. I'll believe what I want to. But stop coloring all the legislation that applies to everyone with your own brush!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:39 AM on February 18, 2008 [11 favorites]


Iridic was right: God's totally into bunnies.

(PS: God has no favorites.)
posted by bhance at 10:40 AM on February 18, 2008


I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.

Oh, you do not. You know exactly what you think god thinks about this thread (or at least you have your suspicions), and you're not-so-secretly quite proud of your piety.

The thing is, konolia, unlike a number of the people of faith in this thread who I respect tremendously, you transparently lack humility. And before you rush to trumpet just how much humility you do SO have, let me point out that humility is really one of those things that is evident only in the showing, not the telling. If you have to announce how humble you are, you ain't.

But since you're primarily here to find out how you present yourself, I'll assume you're actually grateful for my criticism, and will no doubt grow from it. In which case: you're welcome!
posted by scody at 10:40 AM on February 18, 2008 [11 favorites]


I think God can probably hold his own.

her own.
posted by oldlies at 10:44 AM on February 18, 2008


Miko,

A "political party" might be comparable to an individual denomination, such as Catholicism, in which there is discussion and dissent among its members but a basic "platform," if you will, is shared.

That is the comparison I intended. I'm sorry for not being clearer with my terminology. I understand the differences between Christian denominations. I realize that they can have mutually exclusive beliefs. Again, I was responding to complaints of this type:

I'm just frustrated by the grouping of everyone who shares one aspect of a complex belief system into a single bucket.

You say that my "idea that all Christian religions are "associated" is so funny." I didn't just make up the idea that there's an association -- clearly one is implied by the shared use of the term, which is what led to this whole line of discussion. I can imagine, though, that it's frustrating to be associated by some with those other people whose beliefs you don't fully share. Although I still contend that the true breadth of Christian belief is to some extent a matter of perspective. There are many different denominations with their own beliefs, but to someone far removed from the faith I think the differences seem less significant.

And you said "I will object every time I see bigotry presented as a "Christian" belief." Part of my point was that some Christian beliefs, from some points of view, may well be bigotry. You can say that konolia's Christian beliefs aren't your Christian beliefs, but I don't see how you can say that they aren't Christian beliefs.

I don't think the blame for believing in the "wrong" parts of a religion can be laid entirely at the feet of the religion, but neither do I think it's solely the fault of the individual. It seems to me that as long as we as a society indoctrinate children with religion based on ancient texts and treat religious faith as a virtue and something to be given special treatment, there will inevitably be fundamentalists and people who choose to believe in the "wrong" parts of the faith, whether we like it or not.

In any case, I agree with you that it's fair to ask that people criticizing a particular denomination of Christianity name that denomination rather than using the umbrella term, and I hope I didn't offend with my comments.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:47 AM on February 18, 2008


Iridic was right: God's totally into bunnies.

(PS: God has no favorites.)


God's account is disabled!
And no one cares!
If we all get banned
I'll see you there!
posted by cashman at 10:47 AM on February 18, 2008


I've never been a fan of automatic respect be it for elders, authority, religion, leaders, institutions, beliefs etc. Respect needs to be earned. The respect you ask for is not to be left alone to believe what you want (you have that). You want the type of "respect" that allows you to say what you want without criticism or counter-argument.
posted by jeblis at 10:53 AM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that as long as we as a society indoctrinate children with religion based on ancient texts and treat religious faith as a virtue and something to be given special treatment, there will inevitably be fundamentalists and people who choose to believe in the "wrong" parts of the faith, whether we like it or not.

I think this is true. I also think that it can be applied to any ideology or philosophy, not just religion. I think the excesses of Communism prove that, as well the horrors of Fascism. Where there might be an empty well in the vacancy of religion, it can and has been filled with fanaticism of other varieties.
posted by Atreides at 11:00 AM on February 18, 2008


one is implied by the shared use of the term, which is what led to this whole line of discussion

Then the question is, if there is such an association indicated by the shared use of the term, how far does the association go? To me, only insofar as "Christian" describes religions that fit the Wikipedia definition I mentioned above. Beyond that, there's not much of an association and not many points of contact that would require me to share responsibility for the beliefs of another person within that category.

You can say that konolia's Christian beliefs aren't your Christian beliefs, but I don't see how you can say that they aren't Christian beliefs.

I can say only that they're beliefs of a Christian denomination. They are among the things believed by Christians. Many things are believed by many kinds of Christians. The only beliefs literally denoted by the label "Christianity" are monotheism and the recognition of Jesus as a central element. Those are probably the only "Christian" beliefs. Not all Christians believe all things believed by other Christians. All tigers are felines, but not all felines are tigers.

Anyway, I'm splitting hairs at this point, but these distinctions are important to me - they create the foundation for criticisms of Christian faiths from within other Christian faiths, which is, I believe, one of the only ways to combat bigotry within Christianity. In and of itself, Christianity does not demand bigotry. Thanks for your comment.
posted by Miko at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2008


I wonder what Thor thinks, having been left out and ignored again.
posted by Hildegarde at 11:07 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a social thing. The hellfire & brimstone spewer is making me out to be a lesser being or an abomination, or asserting that they're in a better position than I, simply because of the mode and orifice in which I want to copulate. It's not necessary for me to believe in what they believe for me to see that I'm being seen as inferior and/or in an inferior position.

From my own interpretations of the New Testament, this shouldn't be the case. That is, a Christian should not consider themselves better than those who are not Christian. For one, thats vanity or hubris, and as history has shown, many righteous who uphold themselves as such are often anything but. History has also shown, though, that your fears are well grounded and for that I'll concede to you that there is a reasonable fear by others when considered "damned" by others. Asking others to shrug it off is out of the question until those who judge learn that the role belongs to someone a lot more wiser than themselves.
posted by Atreides at 11:13 AM on February 18, 2008


I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.
posted by konolia at 8:25 AM on February 18


Have you ever considered visiting a psychiatrist to treat your pathological narcissism? God, if it exists, has better things to do than give a shit about a bulletin board run and read by a bunch of primitive, hairless apes. God, if it exists, has better things to do than create miracles so you can get your Spin certification for free. God, if it exists, is the center, the nexus, of all reality. That means that you are not. So stop fucking acting like it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:18 AM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


By the way, Konolia, what was your goal in wondering what God was thinking? For the most part, I'd say everyone has been rather civil in their discourse, and your invocation seemed to me to imply that the discussion has been less than redeemable in the Lord's eyes. If you want people to cut you slack, then you need to be prepared not to invoke your faith except when suitable. In this instance, I don't think it was suitable. Please let me know if I'm misconstruing your comment. ;)
posted by Atreides at 11:23 AM on February 18, 2008


OC, when One is an infinite God, one can do all of the above and millions more things and still have plenty of free time. So I fail to see your point. After all, He has time to know when a sparrow falls. To Him there is no such thing as an insignificant detail.
posted by konolia at 11:24 AM on February 18, 2008


One is an infinite God, one can do all of the above and millions more things and still have plenty of free time.


So this all-knowing/omnipotent being. Can he create something that he doesn't know?
posted by jeblis at 11:28 AM on February 18, 2008


Actually, I really was wondering what God was thinking. He sees the thoughts and intentions of each heart here, to include my own, not just the thread itself. I think most of us who believe in God at times would love to know just exactly what He thought of a particular circumstance or situation.

I also frankly was bemused at how enamored in general we humans are of each other's opinion while either not acknowleging or remembering that there is an Opinion that is far greater than ours that most of the time most of us-even the Christian ones-fail to take into account.

As to my wanting people to cut me slack, that is kinda an irrelevant thing to me most of the time. As in it makes no difference to me except inasmuch it is interesting to me to see the various opinions on this thread to the topic at hand. I agree the discourse has been fairly civil and varied.

I don't pretend to be what I am not here and I don't want other people to do that either. If that means they call me a hatemonger, that is totally up to them. It doesn't affect how I see myself either way, and it doesn't affect how I see the world. I don't ever plan to take a poll to determine what I should believe or think, and I don't think anyone else ever should either.

In other words, I will never have a career in politics. ;-)
posted by konolia at 11:32 AM on February 18, 2008


can He fill a thread with so much blather that even He gets bored with it?
posted by Hat Maui at 11:33 AM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


an Opinion that is far greater than ours

Larry King's?
posted by Hat Maui at 11:35 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Were konolia's comments really that bad that they had to be deleted? If anything leaving them up would serve to expose her bigotry. Wouldn't social norming likely take care of bad behavior?

That usually works. However, just like other comments that are 1) massive derail inciters 2) hostile to members of the community either individually or as groups of some sort 3) generally understood to be predjudiced/bigoted/trollish, the question becomes whether the commenter should continue to be part of the community. One of the most difficult parts of moderating here is figuring out what to do with users who we believe are genuinely acting in good faith, as they understand it, to contribute/participate and at the same time are creating continual offense with other members of the community and seem unable to NOT do that. I'm sure everyone can think of their own examples.

We've seen this surrounding issues of sexism, declawing, sports fandom, etc. We do an awful lot of behind the scenes brokering to try to work out compromises so that people are happy and can keep participating, but aside from email exchanges, the only tools we really have are our own participation here as moderators and the delete/timeout/ban options which are clunky at best. Usualy we'll let someone know "hey, the way you keep dropping into threads to say X is really causing trouble and it's not at all relevant to the thread (except in your head) and you keep doing it and it's making it impossible to talk about the topic on the site at all. Could you try to reign it in a little so we don't have to keep deleting your comments and/or giving you a timeout for that?"

Of course no deal is ever that easy, so many times we also see the topic played out in MeTa again which sort of defeats the purpose of trying to get this stuff taken care of with a minimum of disruption but means that the community can look at what happened and what we did and see what they think about it.

So, my opinion is that no exposing bigotry just by leaving really sketch comments up is not, in the long run, worth it if it's an ongoing pattern of bigotry and not just a one-off or a misunderstanding that can be worked out and chewed over. If every AskMe or MeFi post on gay topics turns into an angry referendum on sin, I think that's something that needs to be avoided and possibly "legislated against" even though I dislike that sort of solution for other reasons.

Sorry for the blah blah here, but I just wanted to mention 1) some backstory and 2) we have thought about this a lot, even though every solution as I see it is sub-optimal at some level.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:35 AM on February 18, 2008


I also think that it can be applied to any ideology or philosophy, not just religion.

Sure, as jonmc was saying way upthread, there are fanatics in non-religious groups as well. It seems to me that any ideology which stresses faith and obedience and conformity as virtues and which leads individuals to associate the ideology intimately with their identity will produce fundamentalists and fanatics. I think one should be wary of any such belief system. (And I think that atheism [or vegetarianism or what have you] clearly doesn't fall into the above category except possibly for the fact that some people make it an integral part of their identity, which is why I find "atheism is a religion too" and "atheist fundamentalist" comments grating.)

Beyond that, there's not much of an association and not many points of contact that would require me to share responsibility for the beliefs of another person within that category.

I agree that you don't share responsibility for their beliefs, and I regret being unclear about this before. I was just trying to gain some insight into the religious impulse of the moderate or progressive religious folks, which is sometimes harder for me to understand despite the fact that I agree with and respect their beliefs to a far greater extent than I do with those of fundamentalists.

The only beliefs literally denoted by the label "Christianity" are monotheism and the recognition of Jesus as a central element. Those are probably the only "Christian" beliefs.

That still seems awfully broad to me -- isn't some form of the bible pretty much essential? But accepting the above minimum definition for the moment, don't you think that if we looked at the group of all western Christians, despite the existence of outliers who had no common beliefs beyond the above, we'd find many more commonalities than those among a large portion of believers?
posted by ludwig_van at 11:36 AM on February 18, 2008


... and it doesn't affect how I see the world.

Yeah, well, you might consider looking into that.
posted by bhance at 11:40 AM on February 18, 2008


I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread
posted by konolia at 8:25 AM on February 18
posted by jonmc at 11:41 AM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I also frankly was bemused at how enamored in general we humans are of each other's opinion while either not acknowleging or remembering that there is an Opinion that is far greater than ours that most of the time most of us-even the Christian ones-fail to take into account.

In my universe, there is no capital-O Opinion. That may be why I fail to take it into account. Really, I accept that this is part of your faith, but I'm getting the feeling that you don't accept that it's not part of mine. There is no real way to validate either of our beliefs in ways that would be acceptable to the other. It seems to me, then, that it's polite to stop hassling each other about it and better to talk about something else instead. However, that's just my small-o opinion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:41 AM on February 18, 2008 [17 favorites]


If that means they call me a hatemonger, that is totally up to them. It doesn't affect how I see myself either way, and it doesn't affect how I see the world.

Ah. So evidently when you said this, you were lying.
posted by scody at 11:43 AM on February 18, 2008


No one? No one? OK, I'll go first.

Christ, what an asshole.

Thanks a lot, chickens.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 11:44 AM on February 18, 2008


We do an awful lot of behind the scenes brokering

All your work is appreciated. I know it's tough to be an editor and direct the site in such a way that it's interesting, new, while still allowing a lot of freedom. In the end it's one of the bad things about online social groups: they don't have the same power as real-world social groups to ostracize those who have poor behavior.
posted by jeblis at 11:45 AM on February 18, 2008


I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread

He's probably wishing He hadn't made mathowie discontinue the [img] tag, as it would have made this thread so much more entertaining.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:45 AM on February 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


OC, when One is an infinite God, one can do all of the above and millions more things and still have plenty of free time. So I fail to see your point. After all, He has time to know when a sparrow falls. To Him there is no such thing as an insignificant detail.
posted by konolia at 11:24 AM on February 18


When nothing is insignificant, nothing is significant.

What I fail to see is that, if all you're interested in is posting nasty slurs about homosexuals, why you don't just go do it elsewhere? There are a million other boards out there, with other Christians! Just like you! Who post funny jokes about poor dead Matthew Shepard! Who write petitions! Here you go! Go fucking nuts! Just fucking go.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:47 AM on February 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


I've always tried to raise my kids to respect everyone's beliefs. I've also taught them that it is healthy to have an inquisitive mind, ask questions, and make logical deductions based on the answers they get from various different sources.

I do wish that that the religious right in this country would show others the same respect.

/derail
I am, at the moment, incensed that tomorrow, in Jacksonville, my local school system, which has only taught evolution so far, is actually considering teaching "creationism" and "natural selection" not as a belief system or theology, but as science.
/end derail

I resent the intrusion of religion into politics and the revisionist history that would have you believe it was always this way, forever and ever, amen. You believe what you want to. I'll believe what I want to. But stop coloring all the legislation that applies to everyone with your own brush!

Restated for truth.
posted by misha at 11:51 AM on February 18, 2008


I don't know what you guys are getting all in a tizzy about when it's plainly obvious that the Xists are going to destroy you all at 7:00am on July 5, 1998, unless you get yerself right with "Bob".
posted by waraw at 12:00 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Therefore, your public judgment of her speech does have serious, real-world consequences.


Nice omission of 'dangerous' there. I'll make this simple for you:

1) Her judgements lead to rights being curtailed, harassment, beatings, and death (by both murder and suicide)
2) My judgements of her lead to her poor widdle feewings being hurt

See the difference yet?

I see a clear difference between saying "Gays are contemptible, noxious creatures that don't even deserve to live, much less be accepted in polite society" and "homosexual sex is wrong".

It's great, really, that you see a difference there. I would really like to know how you taught yourself to split hairs that finely. The former statement is merely what these bigots are thinking when they say the latter.

If one does not believe in sin, how can one possibly be offended by those who assert that gay sex is sinful? You can't have it both ways.

Because either way, it's a judgement of who I am as a person.

Either deep down you know the assertion is correct,

Yeah... no.

or you are simply using the assertion as an excuse to exercise intolerance, which you hold to be the ultimate sin.

Yeah, no. Tolerance of bigotry is not a virtue. Intolerance of bigotry is.

But, heh, you don't believe in sin.

Actually, I do, though not in a Judeo-Christian context.

Fucking hypocritical liberal atheist gay aborto-bots.

Whoa.

I don't pretend to be what I am not here

Actually, you do. All the time. You pretend to be humble--as scody said upthread, humility is demonstrated, not spoken. You also pretend not to be a vile little bigot. Oh, and you pretend to engage in arguments, but as soon as people engage you on your own turf--Scripture--you immediately run away, demonstrating the paucity of your belief and the breathtaking lack of actual examination and thought you bring to the texts.

Here's a hint: God gave you, allegedly, a brain. Try using it. Oh and by the way, you ever going to take a look at those books jonmc suggested?

I didn't think so.

But, if you do, here's what I'll do. If you prove to me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you have not only read those books and spoken to some PFLAG people but have done so intelligently and examined your own beliefs in the light of how your bigotry affects real people every day, I will donate $50CAD to the nonreligious charity of your choice.

If that means they call me a hatemonger, that is totally up to them.

We call you a hatemonger because--get this--you promote hatred and bigotry.

It doesn't affect how I see myself either way, and it doesn't affect how I see the world.

Yeah, see, that's your problem. Have you considered therapy?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:02 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I should probably stay out of this, but...

It doesn't affect how I see myself either way, and it doesn't affect how I see the world.
...
posted by konolia at 2:32 PM on February 18


That is actually a large part of why I am here. It's too easy to be insular and forget that how we see ourselves and how we are actually seen are all too often two different things.
posted by konolia at 5:16 PM on February 17

posted by synaesthetichaze at 12:08 PM on February 18, 2008


I'm turning this whole thread around and taking us back to Sinai. Right now.
posted by G.O'D at 12:09 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


If there is a God reading this thread, I think some of the "Christians" would be surprised at who He was pissed at.
posted by danb at 12:10 PM on February 18, 2008


I am going to quote Barack Obama here:

Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what's possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It's the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God's edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one's life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing. And if you doubt that, let me give you an example.

We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his only son, and without argument, he takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded.

Of course, in the end God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute, and Abraham passes God's test of devotion.

But it's fair to say that if any of us leaving this church saw Abraham on a roof of a building raising his knife, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that we all see, and that we all hear, be it common laws or basic reason.


I guess my point is. It's great that you have beliefs about what this invisible being that none of the rest of us can see or hear from believes or wants us to do. Until you can convince the rest of us to do or believe those things without appealing to this invisible being you might as well save your breath.

If your argument includes the word "The Bible says" or "God says" you've lost before you've even started. Learn to think for yourself.
posted by empath at 12:11 PM on February 18, 2008 [8 favorites]


Learn to think for yourself.

From Obama?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:14 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Quoting an argument is not the same as quoting revelation. If you care to quote logical arguments from the bible, feel free. I can't think of very many. The Book of Job perhaps.
posted by empath at 12:17 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


konolia: I had a talk with god some years ago. He's okay with the gays (I asked). So my guess is that he's wondering why you keep the hatred in your heart for them and their families. I'm not even kidding here. I'm serious.
posted by Hildegarde at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Also, I'm quite sure that it can be independently proven that Obama exists.
posted by empath at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also frankly was bemused at how enamored in general we humans are of each other's opinion while either not acknowleging or remembering that there is an Opinion that is far greater than ours

What you don't get is that this Opinion is imaginary. It's a malfunction of the human brain's circuitry to understand the motives of other people. That circuitry looks for motives in everything, and invents an invisible something in the sky to carry motives for purely random events.

Prior religions invented a lot of different invisible deities, each of which had its own set of motives, and were fairly comprehensible... but with monotheism, the only way you can explain a single entity wanting everything to happen just the way it does is if that being is batshit insane, which is pretty much what you get out of the Bible.

There are no invisible motives in the sky. Really. You're in love with an imaginary being, and it's an abusive relationship.
posted by Malor at 12:19 PM on February 18, 2008 [8 favorites]


konolia: I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.

I'm not so sure you do. I think you believe you know what God thinks when looking over this thread. You seem pretty sure on other issues I don't know why this one would cause you to wonder.

Personally, when I wonder, I actually try and think about the different things that the person (in this case God) thinks. I don't just leave that thought hanging without a resolution. Which is why everyone else who responded actually tried to think what he may have been thinking. Of course most of their responses were jokes, but still.
posted by Green With You at 12:24 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


... mustn't ... mark ... anything ... as ... favourite...
posted by G.O'D at 12:25 PM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


By the way, Konolia, what was your goal in wondering what God was thinking?

It was an effort to bully the rest of the participants in this discussion into agreeing with her. Since she's Right, and in tune with What God Wants, we'd all better be nice to her and agree, because God is watching, and there will be consequences.

I promised myself I wouldn't get involved here
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:26 PM on February 18, 2008


isn't some form of the bible pretty much essential?

Common but not essential, though it comes in handy as the text that contains details of the life of Jesus. The Gospels, particularly, are really commonly used. But there are some people whose religion is Christian who don't see the Bible as anything other than a historical text.

But accepting the above minimum definition for the moment, don't you think that if we looked at the group of all western Christians, despite the existence of outliers who had no common beliefs beyond the above, we'd find many more commonalities than those among a large portion of believers?

Yes, I agree that we would find more commonalities (but probably not all that many, taken point by point, from the shape and nature of God to what predated Creation to whether Jesus was divine, Christians have split on a whole lot of points). Still, I think the outliers deserve to be included and the points about which believers disagree are important ones to note; they refute the idea of such a thing as a monolithic, 'correct' Christianity.

konolia: I agree the discourse has been fairly civil and varied.

I don't pretend to be what I am not here and I don't want other people to do that either. If that means they call me a hatemonger, that is totally up to them. It doesn't affect how I see myself either way, and it doesn't affect how I see the world. I don't ever plan to take a poll to determine what I should believe or think, and I don't think anyone else ever should either.


Erm...then why the big callout?
posted by Miko at 12:28 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why the callout?

If Christianity were treated as respectfully on the rest of the site as it has been on this thread (with a few exceptions, but whatever) I never would have posted the original MeTa.

I would have preferred the thread not turn into a referedum about Christianity itself....but since apparently it did y'all could have done a lot worse.

My original objection was simply regarding gratuitous potshots-which I was perceiving were being frowned on when aimed at other targets, so I thought I'd bring this before the Esteemed Assembly. MY purpose for the thread wrapped up pretty early but I felt if I called for an early close it would have been seen as selfserving. Of course I'm sure since I didn't some see it the same way, but for the most part I think threads should run their natural course unless the admins see a reason otherwise.
posted by konolia at 12:35 PM on February 18, 2008


Can you make a logical argument for or against femaleness?

sure - "males cause wars, exploitation of the planet, and many other evils and as soon as we perfect technology that can create new life out of two eggs, instead of sperm and egg, we should stop having male children and have a female only species"


I meant, can you make a logical argument that being female is incorrect? It's a non sequitur. You can, however, make a logical argument that being Christian is incorrect or being atheist is incorrect, that believing the plane will/won't take off is incorrect, or that believing money-oriented libertarianism or totalitarian communism will bring about a golden age is incorrect. Religious beliefs deserve no more special protection than any others, e.g. you are attacking my worldview, fine. Metaphysical worldviews deserve attacked too.

......


(I AM THE LORD YOUR OBAMA, THOU SHALT NOT HAVE A FALSE OBAMA BEFORE ME)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:36 PM on February 18, 2008


Ok, but the Power of Grayskull, that's legit, right?
posted by Salmonberry at 12:41 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are no invisible motives in the sky. Really. You're in love with an imaginary being, and it's an abusive relationship.
posted by Malor at 2:19 PM on February 18


Malor, I know to your mind that you have a point, but you make in an incredibly debasing way. Incessant and predictable hobbyhorse riding about "invisible men in the sky" is as pernicious and useless as Konolia telling everyone what she thinks God thinks about various subjects.

Make your point, but don't do it in a way that gives credence to her's.

The hostility towards konolia is really off-putting, just as it is when konolia displays hostility by claiming to know God's dislikes. Just as there seems to be a strong consensus that she should not share her beliefs as they are deemed offensive, so should everyone else quit being intentionally offensive and insulting (and such comments are clearly and unequivocally intended to be offensive to her).

Most of this thread comes down to nothing more than attempts are rationalizing what is otherwise just naked dislike for The Other.
posted by dios at 12:42 PM on February 18, 2008 [11 favorites]


bitter-girl.com:...go read the Heliand, a transposition of the first four Gospels into the pagan Germanic worldview...

This right here is why it's always worth my while to read through these seemingly pointless threads. I had never heard of that before and now I really want to give it a look. Thanks!

posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:44 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


My original objection was simply regarding gratuitous potshots-which I was perceiving were being frowned on when aimed at other targets, so I thought I'd bring this before the Esteemed Assembly. MY purpose for the thread wrapped up pretty early

Well, it would have been better for you to state your initial statement, and then let the post go. Your invocation of God's view of this thread undermines any point you were making that I might otherwise agree with.

Asking for respect for your beliefs is reasonable and something you should be entitled to as a member of the community. But by invoking your beliefs (such as the invocation of God herein) you are implicitly making them a topic for discussion and criticism. And the invocation herein does not seem to be any more than what I would call an attempt to bolster--an attempt to claim that your position has some powerful support. By doing such things, you merely invite criticism, not just from those who disagree with your views but from those who disagree with your attempts to know the mind of God.

I will support your right to be free from insulting and offensive comments directed from users of this site on the basis that you are Christian. Such generalizations and group bigotry is not proper. But when you invoke your beliefs, you open the door for the offense as you have put the substantive issues on the table.

So, my advice to you is to not wrap your positions in the cloak of authority by claiming to be God's messenger or accept that people will insult God if you use him to bolster your views.
posted by dios at 12:56 PM on February 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


Hildegarde writes "I wonder what Thor thinks, having been left out and ignored again."

I didn't want to confuse things after I got his father in.
posted by Mitheral at 12:57 PM on February 18, 2008


Appropriately, mis dios nails it.
posted by prophetsearcher at 12:58 PM on February 18, 2008


Incessant and predictable hobbyhorse riding about "invisible men in the sky" is as pernicious and useless as Konolia telling everyone what she thinks God thinks about various subjects.

Actually, I said motives, not men. The hypothesis that religious belief is due to a misapplication of the motive-detection circuitry of the brain is solid. If you, or she, find that demeaning, well... too damn bad. There's an excellent chance that it's the truth, whether you happen to like it or not.
posted by Malor at 1:02 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder what Thor thinks, having been left out and ignored again.

Thor is hungover today. He'll smite you tomorrow.
posted by yahweh at 1:03 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, my advice to you is to not wrap your positions in the cloak of authority by claiming to be God's messenger or accept that people will insult God if you use him to bolster your views.
posted by dios at 12:56 PM on February 18

Eponysterical?

Also, as for why the big callout? Because she was bored and cranky. Everything else is just spin. (Oh, except for this: "MY purpose for the thread wrapped up pretty early but I felt if I called for an early close it would have been seen as selfserving." That is the definition of Comedy Gold.)
posted by scody at 1:06 PM on February 18, 2008

Christians today might say, I don't believe in Zeus, that was a silly superstition. Yet for many people that was a real god. So it turns out there are 10,000 gods and yet only one right one. That means we're all atheists on 9,999 gods. The only difference between me and the believers is I'm an atheist on one more god.
-- Michael Shermer
posted by Malor at 1:08 PM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


If you, or she, find that demeaning, well... too damn bad. There's an excellent chance that it's the truth, whether you happen to like it or not.
posted by Malor at 3:02 PM on February 18


And therein lies the hubris that is the basis for all bigotry: a belief that one possess the truth that is so undeniable that those who think otherwise are wrong to a blameworthy degree.

Be right. Be confident in your belief that you are right. Be proud for not falling victim to things you believe to be wrong. But don't consistently and insultingly be willfully offensive to those that you think are wrong. If you think konolia is suffering under a delusion, quietly pity her and offer constructive help. But being nothing short of an asshole does not help konolia or any other deluded person, and, quite frankly, it hurts Metafilter. So please stop.
posted by dios at 1:11 PM on February 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


I am under no illusion that this is going to change in the foreseeable future but I simply wanted to make it public record that I object.

Noted.

Moving on...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:23 PM on February 18, 2008


I was talking to Dionysos over wine last night, and he says he'll be at the next meetup. I think we need to hook him and Konolia up, being as Konolia knows YHWH, and YHWH and Dinonysos both own land around Calistoga.
posted by everichon at 1:25 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lentrohamsanin -- if you're interested in the Heliand, you might also want to grab a copy of The Saxon Savior (the former as translated and annotated by, and the latter written by) G. Ronald Murphy, SJ. It goes into a lot of the backstory that will make the Heliand more accessible and interesting for you to get through.

And ooh, this one's new to me, it seems Murphy also has one out called The Owl, The Raven, and the Dove: The Religious Meaning of the Grimms' Magic Fairy Tales.

As someone who studied religious syncretism because it's fascinating on a cultural level, not because I made a value judgment about enforcing Christianity on a previously-unwilling populace, I have to say that the more you study the adoption of new religions by cultures located where the religion itself did not originate, you ALWAYS seem to have a. problems and b. leftover remnants of what came before popping up in the newly-embraced faith. Maybe the U.S., having been founded by outsiders whose religion fell outside the norm, is just kicking its legs when someone tries to enforce something they didn't volunteer for.

p.s. totally unrelated but the coolest German compound word you will learn all day: Charlemagne was called "der Sachsenschlächter" (slayer of Saxons) because of his forced attempts at converting the poor dears.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:28 PM on February 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


Ah, yes, the old "we're certain, and you're not certain, so therefore our beliefs are better" canard. Sheesh.

I'm not being an asshole, dios. Any offense you take to the things I'm saying is entirely of your own creation. I'm talking about things I can see, and touch, and hopefully, someday, prove. If you're offended that your explanations won't fit this framework, that's not my problem.

All you ever have to do to change my mind is to show me that my explanation isn't possible. If you want me to agree with your particular explanation, you'll have to demonstrate that it's grounded in reality and explains the known facts better than competing ideas. This isn't a terribly demanding requirement.

My current explanation for religious thinking is that our ability to empathize with people and understand their motives, our theory of mind ability, is so strong that we create a theory of mind where no mind exists.
posted by Malor at 1:29 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


dios, malor is merely pointing out a statistical unlikelihood. he's no more being an asshole than the weatherman is being an asshole telling you it's going to rain tomorrow.
posted by dydecker at 1:34 PM on February 18, 2008


All you ever have to do to change my mind is to show me that my explanation isn't possible.

I don't want to change your mind. It's none of my business what you believe. And that's the difference between you and me. You apparently have assumed the mantle of trying to change the hearts and minds of all the deluded people by telling them how stupid they are.

You may have rationally sat around and figured this all out for yourself. And good for you if you are confident you have resolved this issue. But that does not give you the right to insult others who have not reached conclusion as you (just as it is wrong for konolia to insult others for not reaching the same conclusions as her).

Apparently you think konolia is suffering under a delusion (or confusion). And you apparently think you have the obligation to disabuse her of that notion. Ok, but what's the reason you do so in such patently offensive terms (and I don't buy for a second that you don't know that you do it in caustic terms--after all, there is a reason why you are choosing that formulation: you know it is offensive). Suppose you have a poor soul who is suffering from the delusion that Cujo is in the next room and is about to eat her. Do you sit there and tell her what an idiot she is and how she is clearly a delusional person who hasn't reached the level of understanding that you have? I would hope not.

The fact remains that you can be as correct about things as you want to believe you are. It does not give you the right to be an asshole to others (and your sky crap is nothing more than that). Just like konolia does not have a right to be an asshole to those she believes completely are wrong.
posted by dios at 1:37 PM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


I wonder what God thinks, as He looks over this thread.
tl;dr
posted by Tenuki at 1:38 PM on February 18, 2008 [14 favorites]


If you, or she, find that demeaning, well... too damn bad. There's an excellent chance that it's the truth, whether you happen to like it or not.
posted by Malor at 3:02 PM on February 18

And therein lies the hubris that is the basis for all bigotry: a belief that one possess the truth that is so undeniable that those who think otherwise are wrong to a blameworthy degree.


When you quote someone talking about probability, and then you talk about how they're talking about undeniable truth, it really makes it impossible to believe that you do anything here that isn't trolling.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:40 PM on February 18, 2008


dios, malor is merely pointing out a statistical unlikelihood. he's no more being an asshole than the weatherman is being an asshole telling you it's going to rain tomorrow.
posted by dydecker at 3:34 PM on February 18


Again, as a I said above: this is another rationalization for what is nothing more than hatred towards others.

Also, the weatherman does not intentionally be offensive to those who are being rained upon.

If you would have bothered to read my comments above, I fully support reasoned disputation, so spare me the nonsense about Malor being a mere weatherman. The problem arises when people are intentionally and willfully offensive in their rhetoric.
posted by dios at 1:41 PM on February 18, 2008


it really makes it impossible to believe that you do anything here that isn't trolling.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:40 PM on February 18


The adults are trying to have a discussion here, and it would be really helpful if you would avoid your typically useless noise.
posted by dios at 1:45 PM on February 18, 2008


The adults are trying to have a discussion here, and it would be really helpful if you would avoid your typically useless noise.

It's hilarious how hard you think you just pwned.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:46 PM on February 18, 2008


konolia: My original objection was simply regarding gratuitous potshots-which I was perceiving were being frowned on when aimed at other targets, so I thought I'd bring this before the Esteemed Assembly.

I'm bolding that so that hopefully you'll see it and respond to this comment, since you didn't respond to my earlier one.

At whom/what were you taking a - in your words - gratuitous potshot? Or are gratuitous potshots only bad when they're against something you personally believe in or identify with?
posted by CKmtl at 1:46 PM on February 18, 2008


this is another rationalization for what is nothing more than hatred towards others.
Also, the weatherman does not intentionally be offensive to those who are being rained upon.


I'm quite sure how being told you're probably wrong about something is offensive or constitutes hatred. 2+2 = 5; I'm offended if you tell me otherwise you hateful, hateful person.
posted by jeblis at 1:46 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not quite sure...
posted by jeblis at 1:48 PM on February 18, 2008


I'm quite sure how being told you're probably wrong about something is offensive or constitutes hatred. 2+2 = 5; I'm offended if you tell me otherwise you hateful, hateful person.

When your entire identity is deeply submerged in 2+2 equalling 5, being told that 2+2=4 feels like a personal attack.

Submerging your identity deeply within any ideology, in the way that many ideologies (religions, political positions, or whatever) demand that you do or else be unworthy, is really, really bad for you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:50 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The adults are trying to have a discussion here, and it would be really helpful if you would avoid your typically useless noise.

We're trying to have some rainy fucking weather here, and it would be really helpful if you'd just cancel your picnic and stay the hell home. News after this break
posted by dydecker at 1:51 PM on February 18, 2008


I'm quite sure how being told you're probably wrong about something is offensive or constitutes hatred. 2+2 = 5; I'm offended if you tell me otherwise you hateful, hateful person.
posted by jeblis at 3:46 PM on February 18


I feel like we are talking in circles here. Again, there is nothing wrong about being critical of religion.

It's the intentionally caustic and offensive rhetoric that is the problem. I know that there are plenty people here who are able to put forth reasoned critiques of Christianity and its doctrines. But all the "invisible abusive sky god" rhetoric is clearly utilized with the point of being insulting. Do you disagree? Do you really believe that the reduction of someone's entire belief system to a characterization of "an invisible man in the sky" is the same thing as saying 2+2=5?
posted by dios at 1:54 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


feels like a personal attack.

Yes they may personally feel offended or that people hate them, but it's not reasonable. We're talking about an idea, not the person. Why should other people accommodate them?
posted by jeblis at 1:59 PM on February 18, 2008


It's the intentionally caustic and offensive rhetoric that is the problem. I know that there are plenty people here who are able to put forth reasoned critiques of Christianity and its doctrines. But all the "invisible abusive sky god" rhetoric is clearly utilized with the point of being insulting. Do you disagree? Do you really believe that the reduction of someone's entire belief system to a characterization of "an invisible man in the sky" is the same thing as saying 2+2=5?

The fact that someone believes something does not entitle that belief to be free from satire, parody, and mockery. I'm sorry if you believe that people's religions ought to be beyond vicious mockery; it's an absurd position you hold.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:00 PM on February 18, 2008


Do you really believe that the reduction of someone's entire belief system to a characterization of "an invisible man in the sky" is the same thing as saying 2+2=5?

Sure, they're different. The difference, though, is that the belief we're talking about here isn't invisible sky gods. It's people -- people who believe that 2+2="burn in hell, faggot."

Where does someone like konolia get the gall to criticize anyone's righteous indignation, when they're constantly hit by that steel-toed kick to the face?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:07 PM on February 18, 2008


Why should other people accommodate them?
posted by jeblis at 3:59 PM on February 18


Maybe because we are community and it is basic dignity to not insult people just because you want to disagree with them?

I'm sorry if you believe that people's religions ought to be beyond vicious mockery; it's an absurd position you hold.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:00 PM on February 18


And that pretty much makes my point for me: apparently we have people who find it "absurd" to think that other people's core beliefs should not be subjected to just mockery, but vicious mockery. Basic decency; what an absurd position.

I don't know how many more times or ways I can say this and still have people miss my point in response: there is nothing wrong with respectful criticism. But it is wrong to be intentionally insulting and offensive when trying to disagree or be critical. It hurts Metafilter and should be stopped.
posted by dios at 2:07 PM on February 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


It's the intentionally caustic and offensive rhetoric that is the problem.
Yeah they delete a lot of that.

the reduction of someone's entire belief system to a characterization of "an invisible man in the sky" is the same thing as saying 2+2=5?

I'm guessing 2+2=5 would be reduced to 4 = 5, which I find offensive. How dare you point out how silly my belief is! In other words they are getting upset when someone reduces their religion to it's core beliefs. After all they do believe in an invisible man. Maybe even a little scared that those core beliefs, when restated simply, seem silly even to them.
posted by jeblis at 2:07 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't want to change your mind. It's none of my business what you believe. And that's the difference between you and me. You apparently have assumed the mantle of trying to change the hearts and minds of all the deluded people by telling them how stupid they are.

"Mommy, that bad guy is picking on me with evidence! Make him stop!"
posted by Malor at 2:11 PM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Maybe because we are community and it is basic dignity to not insult people just because you want to disagree with them?

I'm insulting the idea. As in "wow that's a stupid idea", not "you are stupid." If you infer the rest, well that's your problem.
posted by jeblis at 2:11 PM on February 18, 2008


Submerging your identity deeply within any ideology, in the way that many ideologies (religions, political positions, or whatever) demand that you do or else be unworthy, is really, really bad for you.

I've been reading this thread with a lot of interest, particularly regarding the ideological stakes that are being made.

I don't want the sense to get lost that we are all completely indoctrinated into an ideology, whether it is one that has an easy label, or one that is a more complicated amalgamation of our education, familial values, life history, etc. But it's there, and it frames the way we see the world. Not everyone sees their ideology as ideology, though.

For some of us it is "reality," and for us and those who agree with us, it really is *reality*. But it is not everyone's reality, and how we identify with this understanding, and use it in our interactions with others seems to be one of the main litmus tests for acceptance in the MeFi world moreso than identifying with "science" or "religion" or "Christianity."

Why Konalia fails this MeFi cultural litmus test, and why most of this wasted scorn (and what little wasted defense) seems to be thrown her way is that she continually fails to acknowledge this, despite many repeated opportunities to do so (though she is certainly not the only one, and not the most unctious either).

So, she has a set of beliefs that do not fit within the reigning ethos of Metafilter. She refuses to accept the value of the dominant ideology that the rest of ascribe to to some extent. Good reason to rage, huh? Personally, I'm both elated and terrified to see so many people so firmly entrenched in their convictions, but at the same time scorning someone else for being an ideological wunderwall. This strikes me as a problem in ethos created by the fact that so many of us identify so strongly with something, not just those with "ideology."

Personally, I'm ready to move on. See you all in the next thread.
posted by mrmojoflying at 2:13 PM on February 18, 2008


I was originally going to agree with Dios on Malor's comments, but on review, I think Malor was simply practicing what he perceived to be a rather brutal honesty on his part. Its the sort of honesty that when directed at children probably results in years of therapy, but if thats how he operates, thats how he operates. No kid gloves.
posted by Atreides at 2:14 PM on February 18, 2008


I think Malor was simply practicing what he perceived to be a rather brutal honesty on his part. Its the sort of honesty that when directed at children probably results in years of therapy, but if thats how he operates, thats how he operates. No kid gloves.

Or he could just be a prick.

Hard to tell I guess.
posted by Stynxno at 2:17 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ok, ok, I shouldn't have gone there... but seriously, dude. I'm talking about hypotheses. If you feel demeaned by explanations of how the human mind works -- whether or not they're right, which aren't truly proven -- then you have a serious problem.

What if I'm right? What if this hypothesis is correct? This is the kind that will be provable beyond a reasonable doubt probably within the next decade, as our MRI devices and ability to monitor and model the brain in realtime continue to improve. What will you do if it's shown that the brain responds in exactly the same way to stories of God and Little Red Riding Hood? What will you do if we show that the same circuitry that lets children talk to their imaginary playmates also lets adults talk to God?
posted by Malor at 2:19 PM on February 18, 2008


"The adults are trying to have a discussion here, and it would be really helpful if you would avoid your typically useless noise." 3:45 PM

What a difference 20 minutes makes...

"But it is wrong to be intentionally insulting and offensive when trying to disagree or be critical. It hurts Metafilter and should be stopped." 4:07 PM

Hugs and mushrooms for everyone, except the fundies - you get bags of thorazine and lithium, enjoy!
posted by prostyle at 2:21 PM on February 18, 2008


"but if thats how he operates, thats how he operates. No kid gloves."

Granted. But then he probably shouldn't get upset when one of his punches is met with a yelp of pain.
posted by prophetsearcher at 2:22 PM on February 18, 2008


Why Konalia fails this MeFi cultural litmus test, and why most of this wasted scorn (and what little wasted defense) seems to be thrown her way is that she continually fails to acknowledge this, despite many repeated opportunities to do so

Or more generally it's hard to use logic/reason/science to discuss religion, when one's adversary doesn't believe those things have value. There seems to be a growing "Anti-intellectual" movement within the religious community. Sometimes the only effective tool is mocking/satire.
posted by jeblis at 2:24 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


One point, here, my faith in God isn't based on a "feeling." Its after I spent significant time considering all available evidence and made a rational (as I perceived) decision. Someone telling me that highly religious people have the same brain imagery as highly imaginative children will not rock my theistic boat because the faith I've adopted was done so from my own logical perspective. I question the folks who claim to speak with God or to have been spoken to by God. I question the people who burst out into tongues or fall on the ground like they're in the middle of an epileptic seizure. I don't know what they're experiencing, but while I believe faith itself is immeasurable, I do think rational thought should lead to it.
posted by Atreides at 2:25 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anybody here familiar with Kierkegaard?
posted by konolia at 2:25 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


"If you feel demeaned by explanations of how the human mind works -- whether or not they're right, which aren't truly proven -- then you have a serious problem."

My understanding was not that anyone felt demeaned by the explanation, but by the way it was offered. For example, if you truly felt Konolia was delusional, it would not be unreasonable to expect your response to be couched in some more tactful, less confrontational language.
posted by prophetsearcher at 2:26 PM on February 18, 2008


After all they do believe in an invisible man.

You'll be pleased to know my religion teacher back in high school would flunk you.
posted by ersatz at 2:29 PM on February 18, 2008


Anybody here familiar with Kierkegaard?

Yes, but that doesn't mean we find him convincing. Holding religion to be "beyond reason" looks an awful lot like an attempt to hold one's beliefs beyond criticism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:31 PM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


"Mommy, that bad guy is picking on me with evidence! Make him stop!"

I'm talking about hypotheses.


Wait, which one is it. Hypothsis or evidence? Figure out the difference and maybe you can figure out the difference between criticism (and critical thinking) and being a jerk.
posted by Snyder at 2:31 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anybody here familiar with Kierkegaard?

Sure, what about him?
posted by Miko at 2:33 PM on February 18, 2008


Hugs and mushrooms for everyone, except the fundies - you get bags of thorazine and lithium, enjoy!

Actually I believe I once read some crackpot theory that the original "body of Christ" was mushrooms. Amusing, at least.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:35 PM on February 18, 2008


Oh, and Konolia, these open-ended rhetorical questions are rather annoying and superior. If you have a point, make it, don't makes us plead with you for your ideas or makes us try to guess your meaning.
posted by Snyder at 2:37 PM on February 18, 2008 [8 favorites]


Some of you are making me agree with dios, and that is hard to do.
posted by nola at 2:37 PM on February 18, 2008


What if I'm right? What if this hypothesis is correct?

Then all us religious people have an excuse for being assholes. What's your excuse?
posted by dw at 2:39 PM on February 18, 2008


I think we're mixing up a few problems here. The problem with a lunatic brand of Christianity is that inspires people to (for instance) hate gay people is not the belief in the invisible skyman, but the hatred of gay people. Because, look: Either the invisible skyman exists or he doesn't. Whether he's there or not, though, I know that gay people are. So, to me, not making the lives of these people, whose existence can be proven objectively, miserable is much, much more important than whether someone is crazy for believing in the invisible skyman or someone else is a lost soul for not believing in him. Because not all Christians DO hate gay people (or whomever), Christianity is, at best, a red herring here. And because many people who are not Christians also hate gay people (or whomever), convincing all Christians that they are delusional is unlikely to end homophobia, or racism, or sexism, or whatever. It may be possible that some people are only homophobes, sexists, racists, etc., because of their religious upbringing, but because these -isms exist outside of a religious context, I posit that the connection between religion and hate is coincidental at best. On a sideways note, I would also argue that successfully talking people out of their religious faith would be much, MUCH harder than talking them out of their -isms. Frankly, their god carries more weight for them than you do or ever will, even if you did just read Robert Anton Wilson for the first time last week and now you know everything ever. But blind hatred for others based on insignificant differences hurts the heads of those who carry it, and does anything profoundly stupid, and I firmly believe the majority of people welcome the opportunity to divest themselves of it. Going from theism to atheism would be a fairly unpleasant experience for many people who haven't chosen to do so without personal and unprompted soul searching, but letting go of mindless hate is a pure shot of kittens and rainbows.

In other words, I would say that many of you here have your priorities skewed, and are, in essence, Doing It Wrong.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:39 PM on February 18, 2008 [12 favorites]


Anybody here familiar with Kierkegaard?

Be careful of who you invoke. Given Søren's distaste for the Danish Church and his focus on the individual, he would probably not look favourably upon today's super conservative politicized evangelicals that are taking over politics and insinuating religion into the law and politics. He probably wouldn't look favourably on the fervor with which some Christians are concerned about the sinfulness or godliness of others. That would probably include crowing about how gays are damned.
posted by CKmtl at 2:51 PM on February 18, 2008


I would make the argument that Christianity, for example, exhorts its followers to behave in ways that are Not Good for them, or for the societies they exist within, and that believing in the irrational helps to establish a habit of irrationality which helps to exacerbate the whole anti-intellectualism problem mentioned upthread and that therefore the belief in the existence of an invisible skyman is, in fact, a problem.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:52 PM on February 18, 2008


Oh, and Konolia, these open-ended rhetorical questions are rather annoying and superior. If you have a point, make it, don't makes us plead with you for your ideas or makes us try to guess your meaning.
posted by Snyder at 5:37 PM on February 18 [6 favorites +] [!]


Pope Guilty got it, altho he didn't agree with it.
posted by konolia at 2:52 PM on February 18, 2008


Metafilter: Be careful of who you invoke
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:55 PM on February 18, 2008


Not in his last comment, tho.

Kierkegaard wrote an entire book regarding the problem of faith which my philosophy-minor son introduced me to. You can say anything you want about that book except that it is anti intellectual. As a matter of fact when my son graduates I am tempted to give him a membership here since he definitely enjoys an intellectual approach to Christianity.
posted by konolia at 2:55 PM on February 18, 2008


I would make the argument that Christianity, for example, exhorts its followers to behave in ways that are Not Good for them, or for the societies they exist within, and that believing in the irrational helps to establish a habit of irrationality which helps to exacerbate the whole anti-intellectualism problem mentioned upthread and that therefore the belief in the existence of an invisible skyman is, in fact, a problem.

The problem with your argument is that it's demonstrably wrong, as the world has been and is now host to plenty of Christian intellectuals, scientists, and humanitarians. This already been covered in this thread. That the world has been and is also host to plenty of Christian assholes is also true, but the key word in that phrase isn't "Christian."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:56 PM on February 18, 2008


I see a lot of this the way I saw anti-Americanism when I was in Europe -- this sort of smug superiority by educated sorts who only had real outrage over things they had zero personal experience with. Americans, after all, are loud, stupid, religious bullies who consume everything and want the world to operate your way.

The first few conversations with the anti-American sorts were very much of the "don't blame me, I didn't vote for them" sorts. Later, it was "you know, there are hundreds of millions of Americans, and really, it's ironic you call Americans stereotyping bigots when you can't even see yourself doing it." And so on.

Until, one day, I took my Mid-South accent, threw in an "aboot" or two, and for the rest of the time I was in the UK I was from Vancouver, not Seattle. I was just tired of the pointless, endless arguing.

Most of us who are Christians on here started saying "aboot" a few years ago. We're not out to convert you. We're just a bunch of people who have had religious experiences and a belief in Jesus Christ. We answer your questions in MeFi just like the rest of you. We contribute to major discussions with nary a mention of faith. We pop into MeTa because we find the policy discussions to be as loopy as General Synod meetings.

We are here. And we're pretty silent. Most of us keep our mouths shut when you talk about things that we think are beyond the pale, because we figured that if we're civil, maybe you'll be civil too.

I think what konolia is asking for (and honestly, she doesn't ask it well) is that if we try to be civil, you try to be civil. Honestly, though, it's our book and our Saviour that says things like "judge or you will be judged" or points out that "the healthy do not need a physician." You have your own beliefs. And you're free to question ours. And if in your belief system it's perfectly OK to grind your axes and pile on to any group you find offensive, by all means. But just know you'll be judged. Not by us. Heck, not even by whatever you're calling God nowadays, "delusional abusive sky evil" or something.

You will be judged by the community.

And the slew of LOLBUSH and LOLXIANS threads that litter the delete pile should tell you that they may weigh you in the balance and find you wanting.
posted by dw at 2:58 PM on February 18, 2008 [8 favorites]


Most religions have a central core of sociopathy, basically teaching that following their precepts, taboos, etc., is more important than excercising basic human empathy.
Anybody who claims their religion commands them to discriminate against others, denying their basic human rights, and otherwise treating them as sub-human needs to take a long hard look at themselves and their beliefs.
posted by signal at 3:02 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

The false knight… just doesn’t grasp the point that if another individual is to walk the same path he has to be just as much the individual and is therefore in no need of guidance, least of all from one anxious to press his services on others...The true knight of faith is a witness, never a teacher, and in this lies the deep humanity in him which is more worth than this foolish concern for others’ weal and woe which is honoured under the name of sympathy, but which is really nothing but vanity.
-Johannes de Silentio (S. Kierkegaard), "Fear and Trembling"
posted by Iridic at 3:07 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yep, that's the book.
posted by konolia at 3:13 PM on February 18, 2008


jonmc, dnab, if you read some of the one or two star reviews of those books on amazon, I think you'll get a decent sense of how konolia might respond (eg, they mostly say the book is a sad story of failure, a man who was unable to control his homosexual urges and gave in to them, giving up his wife and family and turning away from true xtianity, etc)

To make homosexuality and fundie christianity go together isn't an easy task, and a book is very unlikely to be the initial trigger that starts a real change. Those books are for people suffering because they just found out their kid is gay or they're gay or some nice friend down the street... or they've been thinking a while and always did like Will & Grace... or whatever, but something is already shifting, and the book allows them to follow through on the conversion. It's not for someone who's dead set against the premise and is forced to read it. That just isn't how minds change. That's like when a Christian tells you to read the bible or even some little pamphlet, and expects your life to change because of it, and since you resent their expectations, instead you read it antagonistically, looking for errors, shaking your head the whole time.

Konolia believes what she believes. I honestly cannot comprehend how she makes it fit together in her mind, as so many elements seem ungrounded, unnecessarily mean, and/or incompatible with experience or other beliefs, but I've certainly given up trying to alter her perspective. We can just wonder at each other as philosophical curiosities, so to speak, and try to be civil in general (although of course from her perspective I'll suffer an eternity of indescribable anguish, but, hey, whatever)
posted by mdn at 3:19 PM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Religion is a way to express personal belief and morals. Often by removing the responsibility of that belief to an other. I have known kind-hearted good christians, and christians who I think should spend the rest of their life locked away, and they are both... christian. The postmodernism of attempting to disavow others as being non christian because they don't quite mesh up with a version held by (a generic) you is foolhardy. I know christians who are very pro-gay rights and "tolerant" of anyone who offers the same back, including my secular-humanist ass, one of my best friends is studying to be a minister. What differentiates him from, say Mike Huckabee, is his internal core beliefs, he is able to find within the bible enough justification to support his core values, as does Huckabee, as does every single person who identifies themselves as such.

You (again generic) are not a bad person because you are christian, you can be an equally horrible person in any faith, or without, just as you can be a veritable saint in any faith or without. The given text will support whatever you want it to. You are your own person in the end, seeking justification to be how you are by identifying with whatever belief.

If you (specific this time) have issues with individual Mefi members who seem to go beyond what you think is appropriate, talk with them. If you think the site itself is anti-christian talk to the owners, I don't know what is going to change given the large size of the community, sometimes you just have to ignore the assholes in whatever form they come in.

there is a small part of me that marvels that members of a dominate religion feel persecuted, especially given that it is at a entirely voluntary space such as this.)
posted by edgeways at 3:25 PM on February 18, 2008


There is a difference between feeling persecuted and feeling the need to occasionally say "knock it off, guys."

I was feeling the latter.
posted by konolia at 3:27 PM on February 18, 2008


Still waiting for a response, konolia.

I know I won't get one, but I feel it's important to point out your bigotry and how you are so wilfully ignorant about wishing to actually use your brain for something other than spewing stereotypical fundamentalist cant.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:39 PM on February 18, 2008


Then all us religious people have an excuse for being assholes. What's your excuse?

Nice. You managed both to avoid thinking about the issue AND to toss in an insult.

It's interesting how personally the religious crowd seems to be taking what I'm saying, when it's purely sticking in the realm of the tangible. There's a really excellent chance that the entire God idea is purely a side effect of how our brains evolved. It sure doesn't look like there's anything up there guiding your life in its path; that force you feel is probably you, and the people around you.

You will be judged by the community.

Ok, now I'm going to get away from tangible fact and more into the subjective.

Galileo found out about that. Being judged by people who are absolutely certain of their own correctness is always a fun time for everyone. For more recent examples, you might ask Malak Ghorbany, or Mahmoud Asgary and Ayaz Marhoni, their opinions about religion and religious law. For those last two, better get a medium, because they're hard to reach otherwise.

I find it curious and rather sad that the right-wing Christians can so clearly see that Sharia law is vicious and evil, but can't see that their own anti-gay and anti-birth control stances are the same thing, in lower-case letters.

For the record, I don't care what you believe, as long as you're not trying to use violence to enforce it... and 'violence', to my mind, encompasses hijacking the guns of the government to your cause by getting laws passed enforcing your religious beliefs. That includes laws requiring the teaching of your cultural myths as science.
posted by Malor at 3:56 PM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


We can just wonder at each other as philosophical curiosities, so to speak, and try to be civil in general (although of course from her perspective I'll suffer an eternity of indescribable anguish, but, hey, whatever)

No, with an approach like yours, you'll probably be able to look forward to a fortunate re-birth as a human again, probably within your next thousand to ten thousand reincarnations. You'll probably avoid all the hells altogether, and remain in the higher realms, perhaps living out a multitude of lives as insects, fish, amphibians, birds & mammals before your next shot at achieving Nirvana from a human form.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:23 PM on February 18, 2008


I am not a Christian Reconstructionist, I am not a Dominionist, I am no fan of Rushdoony.

Just wanna make sure we are clear on that.
posted by konolia at 4:23 PM on February 18, 2008


PS I am not probably going to be voting for Huckabee in my primary either.
posted by konolia at 4:26 PM on February 18, 2008


Nice. You managed both to avoid thinking about the issue AND to toss in an insult.

Oh, I have considered it. And there's just not enough to prove anything. People wave around one study like it's the be-all end-all, not willing to wait for the science to work itself out in print. And the studies I've seen have suggested that one part of the brain lights up, but it doesn't suggest anything all that abnormal about it doing so.

But honestly, if it were true, then religious people are just mentally disabled. You, OTOH, don't have "oh, he's mentally disabled" as an excuse. In fact, you're immediately turned into a bigot against the mentally disabled.

For the record, I don't care what you believe, as long as you're not trying to use violence to enforce it... and 'violence', to my mind, encompasses hijacking the guns of the government to your cause by getting laws passed enforcing your religious beliefs.

I vote for politicians who care about social equity and human rights.

But you wouldn't care about that sort of "violence," because you think those things are important too, I'd bet.

It's only violence if you think it's violence.
posted by dw at 4:28 PM on February 18, 2008


And I mean THIS community, the one RIGHT HERE. Who the hell cares about Galileo, anyway? He's never posted on the Blue.
posted by dw at 4:30 PM on February 18, 2008


And the slew of LOLBUSH and LOLXIANS threads that litter the delete pile should tell you that they may weigh you in the balance and find you wanting.

Damn, son, you were sothinking "here come the favourites!" when you typed that pay-off. And, just like the other judgements, they never came. O well -- keep waiting!
posted by bonaldi at 4:41 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


PS I am not probably going to be voting for Huckabee in my primary either.

Can someone please murder close this thread before we all get to find out what Konolia's making for dinner and what color sweater she's buying next and the next book her kid's lending her and what the author thought about pasta and what exact sub-compartment of whatever belief system happened to be responsible for birthing this now stupidly ChatFilter mess into being?

Everybody's opinions are out on the table on this one. Somebody please draw this wreck to a close.
posted by bhance at 4:48 PM on February 18, 2008


I kind of enjoyed it when, on the night of the first primary, on another website, somebody posted 'It's Obama & Huckabee."

Obama and Huckabee. Sounds vaguely like a Disney film about two animals who have adventures together. Maybe an elephant and a squirrel.
posted by jonmc at 4:51 PM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


bhance, usually by this stage of a thread, people are making injokes and nonsequiturs and linking to pictures of peeing elephants, etc. and all the intellegensia have moved on to discuss Darfur and Microsoft on other threads. It's okay if you leave, one of us will hit the lights on the way out.
posted by konolia at 5:00 PM on February 18, 2008


"Hey, Obama, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!"
"But that trick never works!"

"Look, Huckabee, a message in a bottle!"
"Fan mail from a flounder?"

Dangit. I will never be able to watch that cartoon again.
posted by wendell at 5:02 PM on February 18, 2008


people are making injokes and nonsequiturs and linking to pictures of peeing elephants, etc.
I thought that guy stopped coming here. Can't imagine why.

intellegensia have moved on to discuss Darfur and Microsoft on other threads
Ah yes, those dour intelligensiists, always so dour and unfun with their noses in books and whatnot. Sorry if they can't always be discussing you.

It's okay if you leave, one of us will hit the lights on the way out.
How very big of you.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:07 PM on February 18, 2008


And yes, dour is my word of the day. Dour. Dour. Dour.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:10 PM on February 18, 2008


usually by this stage of a thread [...] all the intellegensia have moved on to discuss Darfur and Microsoft

But I thought you were a member of the intelligentsia now? I mean, isn't that what we were supposed to infer by your invocation of Kierkegaard? (Silly Darfur, anyway. Who cares about genocide?)

It's okay if you leave, one of us will hit the lights on the way out.

Funny, I must have missed the memo announcing that you'd become a moderator.
posted by scody at 5:11 PM on February 18, 2008


Kierkegaard wrote an entire book regarding the problem of faith which my philosophy-minor son introduced me to. You can say anything you want about that book except that it is anti intellectual. As a matter of fact when my son graduates I am tempted to give him a membership here since he definitely enjoys an intellectual approach to Christianity.

konolia, stop preening yourself on second-hand insights. If you really give a shit about why many of your fellow citizens are so hostile to Christianity, read The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby. She talks about the uniquely American confluence of anti-intellectualism, post-rationalism, and post-modernism, leading us to "teach the controversy" and "abstinence-only sex ed" and much more faith-based bullshit.

Or maybe you don't think that's bullshit. Whoops—you're post-rationalist, so you don't think. Okay, maybe you don't feel that's bullshit. Can't argue with that!
posted by dogrose at 5:13 PM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


This certainly IS a dour bunch around here tonight.
posted by konolia at 5:18 PM on February 18, 2008


It's okay if you leave, one of us will hit the lights on the way out.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:25 PM on February 18, 2008


The problem with your argument is that it's demonstrably wrong, as the world has been and is now host to plenty of Christian intellectuals, scientists, and humanitarians. This already been covered in this thread. That the world has been and is also host to plenty of Christian assholes is also true, but the key word in that phrase isn't "Christian."

Nothing that you have said here in any way disproves or argues against what I said, though.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:28 PM on February 18, 2008


Somebody please draw this wreck to a close.

Hell no—this baby's headin' for 600 and pickin' up speed!
posted by languagehat at 5:31 PM on February 18, 2008


dw/konolia, out of interest, why did you choose Christianity; out of all the religeons from around the world, why that one? You had a religeous experience and... Yay, Christianity! Why?

It's an open question to anyone of any religeon. I'm just interested in how folks rationalise any "religous experience" suddenly with a particular religeon.

I'm assuming its cultural/parental for the most part, but would like to hear more, even if it's memail.

I'm not writing a paper.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:38 PM on February 18, 2008



Hell no—this baby's headin' for 600 and pickin' up speed!


hits 600 at seventeen to
on the wrong site and headed for you...

commentin' on news
high on hard booze
languagehat you better watch your speed...
posted by jonmc at 5:42 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Boring Postcards: So, despite the fact that people exactly like her would have kept her daughter and son-in-law from marrying a generation ago, she thrills to the fact that her parents are grudgingly accepting the grandbaby while still she still hopes to keep MY family from existing. Tolerance should be extended to HER family- of course!- but mine is still going to cause some kinda cataclysm.

BP, I wouldn't let this make you completely disregard jonmc's stance. I was evangelical in high school, and I think one of the first things that started shaking my faith's foundations was reading a blog called worldwidejeb, by a gay Australian guy. I didn't know anyone else who was (openly) gay, so it was fascinating to me, and he was quite funny. When he and his boyfriend broke up, I felt pretty sad about it, and that really got me thinking about my religion's stance on their relationship. It's true that the personal still has more impact than the abstract, but don't think that it has to be immediate family to get someone thinking.

I wish we heard more from Pater Aletheias than konolia. That dude warms this atheist's heart. I still disagree, but in a profoundly more friendly way.
posted by heatherann at 5:45 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


why did you choose Christianity; out of all the religeons from around the world, why that one?

Interesting question; I wonder how many religious people actually "try before they buy"? You know...study Buddhism, check out the Koran, chant with the Hare Krishnas, learn about Christianity before deciding? How many actually have an understanding of multiple belief systems before they commit their soul to the "best one"? I'd imagine you could probably count them on one hand.
posted by Jimbob at 5:50 PM on February 18, 2008


I am not a moderator but I know darn well that the lights are on a motion detector, so if you're the last one in here and you're just reading, wave your arms every couple minutes to avoid being put in the dark.

But no thread is really finished until homunculus finds a related news item to post 3-7 days later.
posted by wendell at 5:52 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Everybody's opinions are out on the table on this one. Somebody please draw this wreck to a close.

Sorry, the longboats are hung up in holiday traffic.
posted by dw at 5:57 PM on February 18, 2008


This certainly IS a dour bunch around here tonight.

Perhaps if you answered some of the questions people have been asking you throughout the thread instead of just offering up non sequiturs and rhetorical questions it would put some smiles on some faces.
posted by jtron at 5:57 PM on February 18, 2008



Interesting question; I wonder how many religious people actually "try before they buy"? You know...study Buddhism, check out the Koran, chant with the Hare Krishnas, learn about Christianity before deciding? How many actually have an understanding of multiple belief systems before they commit their soul to the "best one"? I'd imagine you could probably count them on one hand.


I'm one.
posted by milarepa at 5:59 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


This certainly IS a dour bunch around here tonight.

Dour? Check your dictionary, hon.

Thanks for the thoughtful response, konolia. Thanks also for your refusal to acknowledge jonmc's request, which was respectful, courteous, and non-dour (as far as I can tell—you've obviously got your own definition going here, Humpty-Dumpty-stylee). Otherwise, despite your callout, I might have pegged you as a thoughtful person with something interesting to say about your religious beliefs—someone like Pater Aletheias or Miko.

Next time you want to complain about how your beliefs get no respect, think about how you present and defend them.
posted by dogrose at 5:59 PM on February 18, 2008


Oh, and I don't believe in a soul.
posted by milarepa at 6:00 PM on February 18, 2008


somewhere the ghost of Wilson Pickett is going 'Say what?!'
posted by jonmc at 6:02 PM on February 18, 2008


Maybe I don't WANT to defend them. Maybe I just want to HAVE them.
posted by konolia at 6:05 PM on February 18, 2008


and FWIW, via email she did acknowledge my requests. Not the way I would have liked, but she did acknowledge them.
posted by jonmc at 6:06 PM on February 18, 2008


Exactly, Jimbob. I was brought up in a Christian household but ditched it when I was a teen. College and university sped by and I was still left with a handful of questions that, now I've got older, don't seem at all relevant. If I had a religous experience now, would I 1) automatically revert to what I know or, 2) try and find a religeon that suited me, or 3) dont bother.

I actually know the answer to that, and it's certainly not 1, or 2. But I'm interested in the folks that caught the religeon young or, even better, found religeon past their teens. Why that religeon?

Off topic, we had the best sunset in London today that was almost a religous experience. I felt warm and orange at least.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:07 PM on February 18, 2008


I know I'm late to this pile on, and I'm sure its been addressed already, but I just can't let this go by:

>Christian doctrine teaches that all humanity is one's brothers and sisters, not merely believers. A little hyperbolic perhaps

Well, actually it does not. But this isn't the place to get into that in this thread.


Matthew 22:35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.


I'm pretty sure, Konolia, that by "neighbour", Jesus didn't literally mean just the guy living next door. Maybe you should meditate on this, and ponder the relationship between people's objection to conservative Christianity and its follower's track record in observing this verse.

In fact, now that I think about it, I think I'm going to start going around to football games, sitting behind the John 3:16 sign guy with a Matthew 22:35-40 sign.
posted by Reverend John at 6:10 PM on February 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


I think I'm going to start going around to football games, sitting behind the John 3:16 sign guy with a Matthew 22:35-40 sign.

Just so long as you don't block the view of the endzone. (Do you think there are guys who join churches just so they can volunteer to be the John 3:16 guy and get to go to games?)
posted by jonmc at 6:12 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Neighbor is not the same as brother and sister.

Those terms have very specific meanings to me. I can and will do good to a neighbor and can consider all humanity to be a neighbor. But my brothers and sisters are my brothers and sisters in Christ.
posted by konolia at 6:13 PM on February 18, 2008


You know, I really didn't have any problem with you before this thread, konolia. Most of the Christians that I know IRL are reasonable people who accept that, for example, if you are gay it's because you were made that way, and since God made you, it's all good.

It's only the fundamentalists, who use religion to justify hate and persecution, that bother me, and it isn't only the fundamentalist Christians, either; there are fanatics at the end of every belief spectrum.

But, wow, from reading your comments here, konolia, my own personal meter is reading you really far to the right on the scale of

humility>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>smug arrogance
posted by misha at 6:14 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's pathetic and sad and I feel sorry for you.
posted by empath at 6:15 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fine. Have them. HAVE them, if you want. Hell, go nuts—HAVE them.

Who's stopping you? No one here.

You, on the other hand, want the rest of us to not only let you have your beliefs—as if we could stop you—but also agree with you that they're the very bestest beliefs in the whole wide world.

Do you see the problem here?
posted by dogrose at 6:16 PM on February 18, 2008


....and if anyone objects to how I differentiate brother and sister and neighbor, ask yourself this: Should I be forced to consider Hitler my brother?

Thank you. I have now invoked Godwin. Don't forget to tip your waitress.
posted by konolia at 6:16 PM on February 18, 2008


Should I be forced to consider Hitler my brother?

What would Jesus do?
posted by Miko at 6:20 PM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Don't disown Hitler. :(
posted by ODiV at 6:23 PM on February 18, 2008



What would Jesus do?

I'm not a universalist.
posted by konolia at 6:26 PM on February 18, 2008


Was Jesus?
posted by Miko at 6:27 PM on February 18, 2008


>> 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

> I can and will do good to a neighbor and can consider all humanity to be a neighbor. But my brothers and sisters are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

1) You are on equal footing love-wise with your brothers and sisters in christ.
2) That verse says to love your neighbours as you love yourself.

Magic of the transitive property:
3) your neighbours are on an equal footing love-wise with your brothers and sisters in christ.

I haven't taken any theology courses, but that didn't seem all that difficult to figure out.

I have now invoked Godwin. Don't forget to tip your waitress.

Godwin does not terminate a thread, argument, or conversation. It is merely a probability law: the longer a thread or argument, the greater the likelihood of a Nazi reference appearing.
posted by CKmtl at 6:29 PM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I dunno. I was raised Catholic (which konolia would not consider Christian, I'm sure). I got a fucking ton of indoctrination into what's the right way or not the right way to interpret the bible, what's a sin or not a sin. I was fairly sure that I was going to hell for 500 different reasons. But there are a few things I took away from my Catholic upbringing even after I left the Church -- be humble, be kind, don't be judgemental and be forgiving.

I'm just not sure how one reads the bible and comes away with "Homosexuality is bad" as one of the foundations of your faith. It barely gets a mention and only in one of Paul's letters. It says so much more about you and your culture than it does about Christianity when you focus on that.

Jesus himself had much more to say about divorce, and you very rarely see people like Konolia ranting about the evils of divorce.

If you want to be a good Christian and project a good image for Christianity, try this: Be kind, be a good person. Give to charity. Love everyone. Don't make a show of being pious. And when someone asks you why you're such a swell person, tell them about Jesus.

Note, there is nothing in the above about telling people they're going to hell.

Jesus seems like he was an all around swell guy. I wish more Christian's would actually listen to him.
posted by empath at 6:29 PM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


No, He isn't.


(I'm starting to feel like the Bride in Kill Bill where she is swordfighting a room full of folks, so I think it's time for me to leave this alone for awhile. I'm pooped, and if I zig where I should have zagged i'm gonna have a mess. )
posted by konolia at 6:30 PM on February 18, 2008


Maybe I don't WANT to defend them. Maybe I just want to HAVE them.

After everything else that's been said, by you and everybody else, that is the first statement that really makes me think that you have picked the wrong sandbox to play in.

Still, I'm thankful to you and the rest of the participating MeFites for providing a lot of food for thought (from all the thoughtfood groups) with which to consider my own beliefs and assumptions, the amount of Faith I need to be functional and my personal relationship to the forces that run the universe I live in (and whether those forces need or deserve to be kissed upprayed to).

on preview: If Hitler had a deathbed conversion, you may expect to meet him in your Heaven. Which was one of the simple facts that made me reject the concept of "born again Christianity" and accept my fate isolated from a God who does things like that.
posted by wendell at 6:31 PM on February 18, 2008


I dunno. I was raised Catholic (which konolia would not consider Christian, I'm sure).

Don't be so quick to assume that.
posted by konolia at 6:31 PM on February 18, 2008


if anyone objects to how I differentiate brother and sister and neighbor, ask yourself this: Should I be forced to consider Hitler my brother?

Anyone who doesn't believe in Jesus might as well be Hitler?
posted by empath at 6:33 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


dw/konolia, out of interest, why did you choose Christianity; out of all the religeons from around the world, why that one? You had a religeous experience and... Yay, Christianity! Why?

The really short form is that I had a religious experience based on loss, I pretty much think it was the Christian God, and I believe love is at the heart of Christianity, which appeals to me more than the core principles of other belief systems.

I find Buddhism to be too, um, dour, and Islam was interesting but ultimately left me cold. Also, I like bacon, which also rules out Judaism.

Atheism, I think, fails for me because I see the exact same problems with Christianity -- lots of loudmouth, pompous, intolerant sorts pontificating endlessly and making everyone else look bad -- but with far too many people nodding in agreement rather than shaking their heads in disdain. Thing is, I have atheist friends. They're not like this. But so much of atheism rubs me the wrong way, in the same way Christianity rubs people the wrong way -- this self-assured smugness of belief framed around a certain amount of condemnation and condescension.
posted by dw at 6:33 PM on February 18, 2008


No, He isn't.

For those keeping score at home, konolia is saying that some are destined to be chosen for salvation and some are not. Some were born only to be damned, and Jesus feels that way, too. So she's under no obligation to forgive you, gays, Hitler, or the milkman.
posted by Miko at 6:34 PM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Just so long as you don't block the view of the endzone. (Do you think there are guys who join churches just so they can volunteer to be the John 3:16 guy and get to go to games?)

I haven't seen anyone holding up a John 3:16 sign at a football game in years.
posted by dw at 6:36 PM on February 18, 2008


...and I may have used the word "facts" in an awkward way... I meant "things that are real parts of some people's belief system" as opposed to "things that are real".
posted by wendell at 6:36 PM on February 18, 2008


Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, “God loves you just the way you are.”
posted by danb at 6:38 PM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


dw, your problem is that you're trying to make atheism a coherent philosophy and it isn't. It's a simple statement - I do not believe in god. Nobody can build a life around that. Secular humanism -- that's a philosophy. Nihilism is a philosophy. Existentialism is a philosophy. Try digging a little deeper.
posted by empath at 6:38 PM on February 18, 2008


For those keeping score at home, konolia is saying that some are destined to be chosen for salvation and some are not. Some were born only to be damned, and Jesus feels that way, too. So she's under no obligation to forgive you, gays, Hitler, or the milkman.

OK, how did you get from universalism to pre-destination? That's one hell of a rocket jump.
posted by dw at 6:39 PM on February 18, 2008


Maybe I don't WANT to defend them. Maybe I just want to HAVE them.

And you want SAY them free from criticism/rebuttal. That's the sticking point. If you just wanted to have them, how come we know what they are?
posted by jeblis at 6:39 PM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Miko, I must kindly ask you to not put words in my mouth. Jesus Himself said there would be some people in Hell-therefore how could He be a universalist?

I am NOT getting into calvinism and arminianism here either. That's more hair splitting than I care to do this far out from my theology classes (which I am STILL chewing on.)
posted by konolia at 6:40 PM on February 18, 2008


....and if anyone objects to how I differentiate brother and sister and neighbor, ask yourself this: Should I be forced to consider Hitler my brother?

Why wouldn't you? He was baptized a Christian, which by your definition makes him more of a sibling than, say, Gandhi. He was a human being and therefore made in God's image (according to your bible) and you have no right to deny him your fellowship. Isn't that up to your god?

The more you talk, konolia, the more you reveal your beliefs as arrogant, hollow cant.
posted by dogrose at 6:41 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just wish there could be a higher level of discourse on the Blue. "Christians are stupid", "invisible motive/invisible man in the sky", I think all of that is discourse-stifling noise. It's really simplistic and pointless, unless the point is to rant, and ranting in the Blue against fellow members of Mefi lowers the level of discourse for all. You can't take anything away from that but offense, if you take anything at all. I skip those comments, but it would be better if people didn't make them.

urbanwhaleshank, yeah, your question is best handled through Mefi mail.
posted by Danila at 6:41 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


AAAnnnd that's all folks, hubby wants the computer.
posted by konolia at 6:41 PM on February 18, 2008


Jesus Himself said there would be some people in Hell-therefore how could He be a universalist?

What do you with Jeremiah and Revelation? Bring out the apologetics!
posted by Miko at 6:42 PM on February 18, 2008


This is how it always ends with you, konolia. Drop turds, fail to explain, leave to drop turds another day.

I know this is hard to think about. But if you're so all-fired certain about your faith, you should know this stuff.
posted by Miko at 6:44 PM on February 18, 2008


why did you choose Christianity; out of all the religons from around the world, why that one?

Somewhat cultural, I suppose. I was raised in the Episcopal Church (Catholic lite), was baptized, confirmed, and did the whole acolyte thing (robes and all). Incidentally, I'd say that the church had its biggest impact me when I was a child, when I was taught the basics in Sunday school. However, by the time I reached my teenage years of 13 to 15 (surprise, surprise), I was having my doubts. As I learned more about science, about the world, and about other religions, I started to feel that there were problems with Christianity. I think you could probably say that I was falling quickly into a gray area between Christian and Deist. Part of it was that Christianity, that which I'd been raised in (a tolerant house, by the way) was the de facto target of my criticism. Another part of it was that church had become a chore and not something to celebrate or invest serious thought into. It was "Go to church, get dressed, then do all the acolyte duties, finish, leave." I never felt inspired by much of anything, except for the beautiful music of my church's pipe organ and classical choir.

From that time period for several years I was spiritual flotsam, sort of wandering aimlessly about that part of my life. I learned more about other faiths, Islam, Buddhism, etc, etc...but to an extent, I either found the same problems in them that I had initially found in Christianity (at least the denomination I was raised in) or I found that I simply didn't like what I discovered, that it didn't offer a better alternative.

I did come to a point where I felt that there was solid evidence of a higher power and then began to reflect again on Christianity. I think for the majority of my life I have always considered myself Christian, but to what degree was always ambiguous. I then began dating a girl who was devoutly Christian, and through her I began attending church again (this time Evangelical). The spirit of the church, but more so, the sermons that I heard was an entirely different experience from the one I was raised in. First, while it was an evangelical church, the sermons were not lectures on the topics that have raised the ire of so many here. They were, I felt, about the core aspects of Christianity, about love, about giving, and compassion. Second, I loved the more informal worship of the church, compared to the solemn ritual that I'd grown up with. This inspired me to fully reexamine my position on Christianity, to learn more about the faith.

I read books which sought to argue on a rational level the very questions and doubts that had helped drive me away as a teen. They offered convincing arguments, arguments that for the most settled the questions which had built a wall between me and faith. I topped it off, you might say, by reading the New Testament. When I had finished I felt that I had a new, stronger faith and belief. That I had tested Christianity and it had passed.

And thats the Cliff Note's version. I didn't want to inspire any debates, so I left out specific details and what all. Hope that satisfies the curiosity of some.

...and on preview, I notice that in comparison to the brief answers offered, I just threw a dictionary. Sorry about that. One last note, I didn't and never have had what I'd consider a religious experience. My road to Damascus didn't involve an earthquake or blindness, it was a journey, and thats all that was required for me to find my way.
posted by Atreides at 6:44 PM on February 18, 2008


AAAnnnd that's all folks, hubby wants the computer.

Feel free to come back when you're ready to participate in the discussion you started.
posted by jtron at 6:46 PM on February 18, 2008


'm interested in the folks that caught the religeon young or, even better, found religeon past their teens. Why that religeon?

My mom "found religion" in her very late 20's. She said she heard the first noble truth and said, "Finally, someone who's not sugarcoating it."
posted by milarepa at 6:47 PM on February 18, 2008


I just wish there could be a higher level of discourse on the Blue.


Religion threads go much better there. This is the Gray..poor man's Blue.
posted by jeblis at 6:47 PM on February 18, 2008


What do you with Jeremiah

well, I never understood a single word he said, but I helped him drink his wine. He always had some might fine wine.
posted by jonmc at 6:48 PM on February 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


Miko, my husband really does want the computer. But please understand I used to try to discuss these things, people would twist what I would say, I would try to explain, people would start foaming at the mouth, and it never NEVER ended well. I would love to be able to simply have a chat about this stuff....there are points on my own faith that I am still going back and forth on. I know I have no trouble believing what the Bible says directly-however when it comes to systematic theology way better minds than mine disssect and "prove" things, etc etc till it makes my brain hurt. Whereas my God said that the wisdom of the wise he would frustrate, and that His foolishness was wiser than man's wisdom. My God is so much higher than even the finest of human intellects.

All I can say is, I know God, I have experienced Him in my life, He has done wonderful and specific things for me, and I love Him very very much. I also love people. Sometimes people aren't clear on that last part. But it doesn't change the fact that I do.

I'm sorry if that isn't good enough but that is the best I can do.

And hubby just asked agiain, pointedly, if I was done.....so.....
posted by konolia at 6:49 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think a better question is 'why limit yourself to Christianity?' There's truth everywhere. Why not pick and chooose?
posted by empath at 6:50 PM on February 18, 2008


Secular humanism -- that's a philosophy. Nihilism is a philosophy. Existentialism is a philosophy. Try digging a little deeper.

What makes you think I haven't? Secular humanism, I think, detaches too much mystery in the name of preserving Western thought. Nihilism and existentialism always seemed too bleak.

I do have my skepticisms. I can't say I believe this stuff undeniably. But I tend to favor bendable philosophies and byzantine systems, which makes me wonder why I'm not a Catholic anymore....
posted by dw at 6:51 PM on February 18, 2008


Pope Guilty got it, altho he didn't agree with it.
posted by konolia


Bully for him. It's still a snide name-drop that dosen't say anything.

It's interesting how personally the religious crowd seems to be taking what I'm saying, when it's purely sticking in the realm of the tangible.
poste by Malor


It's interesting how you assume that only people who are religious could possibly disagree with you.

Maybe I don't WANT to defend them. Maybe I just want to HAVE them.
posted by konolia


Ok. No one is stopping you, not even LOLXTIAN assholes here on metafilter. Respect is great, and there should be more of it here, and less 'religion is sociopathy' and 'invisible sky man' bullshit, but you seem to simply not care that many people may get upset by what you wrote here (about homosexuals, for example,) and want them to not respond to your (intentional or otherwise,) provocations.

Beyond that, you're demonstrating a pretty smug and superior attitude here. I tend to think that you're a relativly decent person of good faith and civilty with a few reprehensible attitudes, but your attitude here is making be reevaluate that and consider other things I've read from you in a different light. I'd love for the LOLXTIAN (along with any LOLMUSLIM or LOLwhatever) crap to disappear from Metafilter, but if you bring up your religiosity and your opinions on contentious issues, you will (and should, even,) get called on it. I believe that this should be a civil process, but not for your feelings.

On preview: Well, I see you just decided to leave.
posted by Snyder at 6:53 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen anyone holding up a John 3:16 sign at a football game in years.

Well, the guy who started it, and was at the major events, has been otherwise occupied.
posted by The Deej at 6:55 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


AAAnnnd that's all folks, hubby wants the computer.

No sweat, we'll get the lights. Right after we're done sweeping out the lingering remains of your self-Godwin'd ball of WTF.
posted by bhance at 6:55 PM on February 18, 2008


...and on preview, I notice that in comparison to the brief answers offered, I just threw a dictionary. Sorry about that. One last note, I didn't and never have had what I'd consider a religious experience. My road to Damascus didn't involve an earthquake or blindness, it was a journey, and thats all that was required for me to find my way.

Well, I guess mine was a Damascus Road experience, but I never really saw it that way until years later.

And honestly, I'm uncomfortable talking about it here, which is why I'd rather just elide most of it. I'm not even sure I'd attempt to discuss it over MeMail.
posted by dw at 6:56 PM on February 18, 2008


I was just coming back to apologize for the tone of my last comment, and I'm glad you responded thoughtfully, konolia.

I would love to be able to simply have a chat about this stuff.

See, I would, too. But whenever we end up in one of these threads, I find you are unable to discuss your own theology. Again, it's fine to believe what you believe, but you yourself just admitted that you don't have good understanding of the finer points and problematics of your faith. I understand that that stuff may not interest you and you may prefer to be a simple believer and leave theological debates to others. Which is fine.

But you don't! Instead, you do drag theology into most of your mentions of Christianity here, and attempt to use it to justify your stances on salvation, homosexuality, who is considered a Christian, and more. It's a problem. If you don't feel capable of a theological argument, why introduce one? When you get into one, why not simply say "I don't know. I haven't read/thought much about Issue X," or "That's an interesting question, and it seems like there's a conflict of belief here. Let me look into it and see how others have found justification for this belief."

So it's a question of tone. Instead of making teeny tiny short comments where you say "This is the Word of the Lord" and run off, why not simply try an approach like "My understanding is that not all souls will be saved," or "My church teaches that Mormonism is a cult." Instead, you present it as though it is fact, although you yourself know it only as received wisdom without, apparently, having any of the underpinnings at hand.

Again - it's perfectly okay to have unexamined beliefs (though I would expect they would continue to be prodded and challenged here), but it would be far easier to just admit that's what they are.
posted by Miko at 6:56 PM on February 18, 2008 [15 favorites]


Jesus Himself said there would be some people in Hell-therefore how could He be a universalist?

I was taught that no one was truly lost as long as they asked for God's mercy. Unless you're God, or you have access to the requests He receives and the answers He gives, you have absolutely no idea who's going to heaven and who's going to the hot place.

Oh, that's not what your doctrine says? I guess it's the pope's word against yours. Why should I listen to you? Why should anyone?

And why do we know so much about your religious beliefs, anyway?
posted by dogrose at 6:57 PM on February 18, 2008


I'm starting to feel like the Bride in Kill Bill where she is swordfighting a room full of folks,

you wish. Only if that scene were her standing well out of everyone's reach, while they politely invited her to engage them, but she just continually said things like "I do not practice jeet-kun-do" and ignored every goddamn fucking substantive question that was asked of her and shadowboxed until her husband came round to get her.

dw: You wrote off Judaism just because of bacon? Either you're lying, or you didn't look into it very hard, cos if I were religion shopping, there's no other contender. That thing rocks.
posted by bonaldi at 7:00 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was talking to Dionysos over wine last night, and he says he'll be at the next meetup. I think we need to hook him and Konolia up, being as Konolia knows YHWH, and YHWH and Dinonysos both own land around Calistoga.

Dinonysos, King of the Inebriated Tyrannosaurs!
posted by SassHat at 7:01 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


On non-preview: What Miko said, with far more grace.
posted by dogrose at 7:02 PM on February 18, 2008


Actually, I really was wondering what God was thinking. He sees the thoughts and intentions of each heart here, to include my own, not just the thread itself. I think most of us who believe in God at times would love to know just exactly what He thought of a particular circumstance or situation.

Be careful what you wish for. You obviously haven't conceived of a possible God yet if you imagine that he glows at servile flattery. God would never need faith in his presence, and if he wanted obedient robots he would have made us that way. If he was testing us it would be related to the creation of free will. He would be seeing which useless suckers would fall for his man made pretenders out of fear and reward, versus those who would rather not credit such a being for employing famines and tsunamis, or evil itself. It is easy for the fearful to assume that God has a hand in disaster. It confirms for them that he is powerful and vengeful, therefore jealous. Then they go out and try to please a jealous God, even prove their devotion. I can't think of a bigger theological mistake. A supreme being cannot be jealous. Falling for a jealous god is the perfect stupid human trick, as old as Pharaoh. Maybe you didn't figure this all out, but surely you can agree if you want. Or, are you not good enough?
posted by Brian B. at 7:04 PM on February 18, 2008


And honestly, I'm uncomfortable talking about it here, which is why I'd rather just elide most of it. I'm not even sure I'd attempt to discuss it over MeMail.

There's a reason I used mainly broad descriptions in my post (though, brevity wasn't the apparent result). In a way, its an intensively personal subject, and I did pause to consider if I wanted to admit even as much as I did. I decided, even if someone callous came along and derided me even for the abstract events of me finding my faith, that it was worth it to at least offer an honest answer to what I perceived to be an honest request to learn more.
posted by Atreides at 7:04 PM on February 18, 2008


My own town sets a pretty lousy example, and for that, I'm sorry.
posted by Miko at 7:05 PM on February 18, 2008


Most of the Christians who have posted in this thread have said that there's a pervasive anti-Christian attitude here on MetaFilter and some of them have said they feel unwelcome and silenced. It's not more complicated than that. It's not really about konolia, even if it's more convenient for many to make it so, or if konolia makes it so. It's about what other Christians have posted to this thread in support of konolia's most general claim of intolerance.

It's not that complicated, unless you're not interested in being more tolerant.
posted by Dances with Werewolves at 7:08 PM on February 18, 2008


My town is actually pretty nice.

Tone; I meant tone.
posted by Miko at 7:11 PM on February 18, 2008


Pope Guilty says:

Nothing that you have said here in any way disproves or argues against what I said, though.

Oh, but sure it does. You're arguing an abstraction -- religion weakens people's minds, makes them more susceptible to, etc. -- and I'm saying, well, there are a lot of these people who believe who seem pretty okay to me, not weakened in any way, so evidently the problem is not religion. Because religion does not seem to have consistent, reproducible results in the regard you seem to believe it does.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:14 PM on February 18, 2008


I'm a follower of the Frank Herbert Buddhist Muslim Catholic hybrid. Whatever it was called.
posted by tkchrist at 7:14 PM on February 18, 2008


Most of the Christians who have posted in this thread have said that there's a pervasive anti-Christian attitude here on MetaFilter and some of them have said they feel unwelcome and silenced. It's not more complicated than that.

I would just like to add that from my perspective, the "silencing" and bigotry is not that these beliefs are challenged or dismissed. My problem is the name-calling and simplistic noise. I also have less of a problem with "Christianity is stupid" than with "Christians are stupid" (I honestly think that kind of thing should be deleted), although more reasoned discourse is preferable to either one.
posted by Danila at 7:15 PM on February 18, 2008


AAAnnnd that's all folks, hubby wants the computer.

...FOR PORN!!!!

</AvenueQ>
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:22 PM on February 18, 2008


It's interesting how you assume that only people who are religious could possibly disagree with you.

In this thread, I'm assuming that only the religious are disagreeing with me because they're insulted.

Now, if you just want to disagree with me, and cite other theories and actually talk about it, that's fine. But so far, it's been limited to, "oh yeah? Well you're an asshole." I see no clear path from talking about a "theory of mind" malfunction to being an asshole unless someone's worldview is being threatened.

If they were fact-based disagreements, I'd make no assumption about what they believed, other than what they stated. But personal attacks with no actual argument? Assuming they're coming from the religious would appear to be a fairly safe bet.
posted by Malor at 7:28 PM on February 18, 2008


dw: You wrote off Judaism just because of bacon? Either you're lying, or you didn't look into it very hard, cos if I were religion shopping, there's no other contender. That thing rocks.

Or, you know, I could have been making a joke, and you took it literally.
posted by dw at 7:31 PM on February 18, 2008


I see no clear path from talking about a "theory of mind" malfunction to being an asshole unless someone's worldview is being threatened.

If your theory is that there is something wrong with the mind of a religious person, then you are being mean to deranged people. I don't know if reaching that conclusion is based on a threatened worldview. I see your statements as offensive but not personally offensive, unless the fact that I am a human being and I think you are offending human beings and humanity.

The offense is against humanity because: you are being unreasonable and unjust in your discourse, which is an offense against reasoned, intelligent discourse, the crowning jewel of humanity

also, the offense is against humanity because you are trying to be mean to people you believe are deranged, and this behavior is condemned by much of human society, so you are offending against society, perhaps the notion of sociality itself

your offense is also against Metafilter, as it is willful noise

Now look, it's much easier for me to say that referring to "invisible [whatever] in the sky" is you being willfully obtuse and it is an attempt to stifle discussion. Some would say this is comparable to behaving like the hole in your backside. That's shorthand. It is "reducing" an argument, which you claim to be fond of, and should therefore appreciate?
posted by Danila at 7:38 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


In fact, you're immediately turned into a bigot against the mentally disabled.

Only someone who is mentally disabled could, say, vote for Huckabee. Nice guy and all, but he is literally batshitinsane.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:39 PM on February 18, 2008

Mein Kampf: "Therefore, I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord's Work."

Hitler said it again at a Nazi Christmas celebration in 1926: "Christ was the greatest early fighter in the battle against the world enemy, the Jews ... The work that Christ started but could not finish, I -- Adolf Hitler -- will conclude."

In a Reichstag speech in 1938, Hitler again echoed the religious origins of his crusade. "I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord's work."

Hitler regarded himself as a Catholic until he died. "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so," he told Gerhard Engel, one of his generals, in 1941.
Hitler's Religion. Dude absolutely was a Christian in faith.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:44 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


What Danila said, pretty much. The reason I said you're being a jerk is because you were being a jerk, and had conflicting reasons for being so. I have no interest in discussing matters of faith and biology in this thread. Just saying that regardless of the rightness of your position (a position with no particular support anyway,) your presentation was jerky.
posted by Snyder at 7:44 PM on February 18, 2008


cos if I were religion shopping, there's no other contender. That thing rocks.

I'd pick Judaism as well. Mainly for the clothes. I think I'd look really cool in a long black coat, a black Borsalino and a long beard.

In fact, it's only the stuff about losing the foreskin that's a deal breaker. If they ever relax that rule though, I'm in like Rabin.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:44 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Danila:

If I'm understanding what Malor is saying (and I haven't scrolled up to check every comment of his), he's not saying that religious people - or children with imaginary friends - are deranged.

Theory Of Mind has to do, sort of, with the hardware and software of the mind / consciousness / perception. His saying that religious experiences (or childhood imaginary friends) could be a 'malfunction' is not really a value judgement or an accusation of insanity, as far as ToM goes. It's more like saying that the mind is set up in such-and-such way and, as a side-effect of that structure, intense religious experiences can happen.
posted by CKmtl at 7:49 PM on February 18, 2008


Only someone who is mentally disabled could, say, vote for Huckabee.

See this is an assholish comment. Melor's idea that "Religion is a by-product of our tendency to look for an agent" is not.
posted by dydecker at 7:51 PM on February 18, 2008


Have you actually looked into Mike's beliefs? The man is plainly batshitinsane and the only way one could cast a vote for him as a leader of the country is to turn off one's brain, hold one's nose, and pull the lever. I am not shitting you in the least: the man is out to lunch. The facts are all there in plain evidence, you only need look.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:55 PM on February 18, 2008


You wrote off Judaism just because of bacon? Either you're lying, or you didn't look into it very hard, cos if I were religion shopping, there's no other contender. That thing rocks.

I don't know, man. Bacon is pretty fucking good.
posted by empath at 7:55 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Or, you know, I could have been making a joke
This word does not mean what you think it means
posted by bonaldi at 7:56 PM on February 18, 2008


I would like to know how Danila proposes that one POLITELY dismiss someone's professed religious experience as a mere product of consciousness.

It's hard to do it in a way that won't be grossly offensive to most of the people inclined to profess such an experience in public.

Nevertheless, I think if one is to have a serious discussion about religion, atheists need to be able to say that religions experiences are delusions without being accused of being assholes.
posted by empath at 7:58 PM on February 18, 2008


It may be possible that some people are only homophobes, sexists, racists, etc., because of their religious upbringing, but because these -isms exist outside of a religious context, I posit that the connection between religion and hate is coincidental at best.

I was getting at this earlier, but I'm inclined to agree with you, albeit for different reasons. konolia doesn't see herself as a bigot or a homophobe, and I think in some sense she isn't. I believe that she believes she's following God's word. She believes that God disapproves of gays, and that she must obey God's will. Nobody thinks they're a bad person -- everyone self-justifies, and religion is the greatest self-justification at all. It brings to mind the Stephen Weinberg quote, “With or without [religion] you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.”

But so much of atheism rubs me the wrong way, in the same way Christianity rubs people the wrong way -- this self-assured smugness of belief framed around a certain amount of condemnation and condescension.

This was already pointed out, but that statement makes no sense at all. Those things that rub you the wrong way are not part of atheism. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism means exactly one thing, and that is lack of belief in a deity.

Also, while we're on the topic, I think it's time to retire the terms "invisible skyman/wizard" and such. Not because I don't think they make for reasonable shorthand for what's being referenced, but because using those terms makes people immediately stop listening to what you're saying and dismiss you as shrill, smug, condescending, arrogant, and so forth. You could be making a perfectly rational and salient point, but if you use the terms "invisible man in the sky" to refer to a deity, you might as well just be typing "SHITCOCK" over and over, in the eyes of many folks. So try and restrain yourselves.

Oh, but sure it does. You're arguing an abstraction -- religion weakens people's minds, makes them more susceptible to, etc. -- and I'm saying, well, there are a lot of these people who believe who seem pretty okay to me, not weakened in any way, so evidently the problem is not religion.

This is like the earlier discussion about using the broad term "Christianity" when you really mean something more specific. Sure, you could find plenty of intelligent scientists and Nobel prize winners that self-identify as religious (although religiosity is lower among more educated populations and particularly among those involved with the natural sciences), but religious in what sense? How many of them are fundamentalists?

If your theory is that there is something wrong with the mind of a religious person, then you are being mean to deranged people.

That isn't what he said. He's talking about the idea that religious belief is a side-effect of other evolved mechanisms of the human brain.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:05 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Have you actually looked into Mike's beliefs? The man is plainly batshitinsane

Creationist? Check. Wants to put Christianity into the constitution? Check. Anti-abortion? Check. This seems like pretty standard Evangelical Christianity. Now you may argue that the worldview is ridiculous in the 21st century, and I'd agree, but to seriously say his millions of followers are clinically insane for voting for it is hyperbole. You didn't mean that, did you? You just mean right-wing nutjob, yeah?

Sure let's call people nutjobs, but not to their face or on a public forum. I'm guessing this is what people are asking for (I hope they're not asking that the LOLXians crowd, of which i am a proud member, actually respect their religion)
posted by dydecker at 8:11 PM on February 18, 2008


This is like the earlier discussion about using the broad term "Christianity" when you really mean something more specific.

Well, the goalposts keep getting moved all over the place in this thread, but my response was to Pope Guilty's rather sweeping condemnation not just of Christianity, but of religion as a whole. If anyone needs to be more specific, it's, well, not me, I am afraid.

I don't know, man. Bacon is pretty fucking good.

Pork chops taste good.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:14 PM on February 18, 2008


It may be possible that some people are only homophobes, sexists, racists, etc., because of their religious upbringing, but because these -isms exist outside of a religious context, I posit that the connection between religion and hate is coincidental at best.

I was getting at this earlier, but I'm inclined to agree with you, albeit for different reasons.


Well, like I said far upthread, there are people who are homophobic and otherwise irreligious, but will nonetheless use religion as 'evidence' when defending their prejudices. konolia strikes me as someone who's the opposite, condemning gays simply because her church tells her to. In comments she's said that harassing or discriminating against gays is wrong and she's mentioned having friendships with gay individuals in her past. But she seems resistant to making that final leap from tolerance to acceptance and finally embracing. and this is why I keep hammering away and why I reccomended those books to her, because I think she may be a speices of the person mdn described. Maybe I'm nuts, but I'd be worse if I didn't follow my impulses here, right?
posted by jonmc at 8:17 PM on February 18, 2008


Creationist? Check. Wants to put Christianity into the constitution? Check. Anti-abortion? Check. This seems like pretty standard Evangelical Christianity. Now you may argue that the worldview is ridiculous in the 21st century, and I'd agree, but to seriously say his millions of followers are clinically insane for voting for it is hyperbole.

I might be more inclined to go along with the clinical insanity diagnosis were it not that (a) I think most of Huckabee's voters (at this point) are just lodging protest votes against McCain, and (b) I strongly suspect his actual supporters haven't analyzed his positions very closely. The standard fundamentalist bullshit is one thing -- I don't agree with it, but it's pretty much the GOP party line -- but seriously, his tax plans would be an economic disaster unparalleled.

[end derail]
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:19 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mon Dieu, my eyeballs hurt! I need a cucumber treatment after reading all of these fine comments.

I guess I have to say that I really clicked with what Jessamyn said and given my own NE nature, now I'm all fired up to move down to New Hampshire and wave the Culpepper flag. I guess the Kennebunkport windmill and the rebate thingy just came too late for me, and I ain't all that impressed with fancy words nor people rainin' on my beliefs. This strikes a sour chord with many people, Konolia. I'm sure you are a fine person, but it's what you represent that draws the fear. There are a lot of people out there who are very hateful who are lobbying for laws that will change the rights in this country. Fortunately, I have some very good and famous rellies who fight them.

My beliefs: I love babies, men, flowers, kittens, puppies, good meals, good dirty jokes, good clean fun (okay, I will not speak of my good dirty fun here), coffee, gutsy red wine, snarky Oz's, sharp dill pickles, my mother, Greek literature, cooking, gardening, writing, dancing, theater, movies, snow, sand, water and fire. I also love diversity. I love other cultures and how they have always welcomed me without a qualm, Chinese, Polish, Indian, Aussies, Canadian, Scots, Brits, Irish, Singaporeans, Malays, Koreans, etc. I love gay people, but not because they are gay; because they are my friends (I never say, "oh, so and so my "gay" friend, I say "so and so, my friend." Just what are they going to do to you that anyone fears and hates them so? And why do we even have to have this discussion in 2008? Appalling.)

So certainly you CAN say that you are offended, Konalia. By all means. And I can say that I am offended by anyone who attempts to push their religious beliefs on me in a country where the laws state that I do not have to put up with people knocking at my door or accosting me on the sidewalk to try and intimidate me to be swayed to a belief that I consider, well, cult-like. Forgive me if I lump you and anyone else in this opinion, but you aren't going to see ME on your doorstep, nor here in Metafilter speaking about my religion. But if you put down my gay friends, I will say that your religious beliefs are overstepping the laws on which this country was founded, and my 13 Revolutionary War Ancestors fought for your right to speak as you did in this thread. You're welcome and carry on.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:20 PM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


For the record, a few months ago I started putting together a post about Pope Benedict's unusual offer of papal indulgences to pilgrims to Lourdes this year, barely 5 months after the Vatican announced a deal to sponsor flights from Rome to Lourdes with Italian airline Mistral Air, which, it wasn't widely reported, the Vatican owns a minority stake in. But I decided not to, because I didn't think a pleasant or interesting discussion would result.
posted by gsteff at 8:22 PM on February 18, 2008


You just mean right-wing nutjob, yeah?

No. I don't think any sensible/sane right-winger could possibly vote for him. But, yes, I guess when push really comes to shove, "batshitinsane" can be seen as hyperbolic.

Sure let's call people nutjobs, but not to their face or on a public forum.

We call out the Time Cube and Bronner and Scientologists and other nutjobs quite loudly and rightly. I think you're making quite the subtle distinction if you are on-board with that, and yet feel differently about some brands of Christianity. There is negligible difference between South Baptist snake-handling and Time Cube, IMO; and little between snakes and transubstantiation.

Nuts is nuts. The only difference is in how public the nuttiness is; and how much power it wields. TIme Cube guy is powerless; Scientology is quite a bit more powerful; and South Baptist lunacy is powerful enough to elect history's worst President.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:27 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's hard to do it [suggest that religious/mystical peak experiences are the brain pulling one of its more entertaining tricks --ed.] in a way that won't be grossly offensive to most of the people inclined to profess such an experience in public.

Seems to me there's a reason that's hard to do, and that reason is much more about chilling the actual suggestion than it is about concern over lovingkindness and social fellowship. Hanging one's piece of taken offense out on the streetcorner has always been a pretty handy tactic for manipulation, and offenderati both religious and non have always known that. It's best to follow the Wargames Parable (the only way to win is not to play, let he who has an acoustic coupler phreak the NORAD phone lines and understand).

Also, after a fair amount of reflection and prayer, I've been advised to move that this thread be closed and locked at post #666.
posted by Drastic at 8:32 PM on February 18, 2008


Marie Mon Dieu and I ain't all that impressed with fancy words nor people rainin' on my beliefs. This strikes a sour chord with many people, Konolia. I'm sure you are a fine person, but it's what you represent that draws the fear. There are a lot of people out there who are very hateful who are lobbying for laws that will change the rights in this country.

That is one part of the Maine attitude that I miss. You can keep the cold.
posted by jeblis at 8:34 PM on February 18, 2008


Nuts is nuts. The only difference is in how public the nuttiness is; and how much power it wields.

I guess so. The distinction is that I see an individual Christian/Muslim/whatever chiming in with their religio-views on MeFi as pretty powerless. Sure, challenge their ideas, but it's not cool to be calling them names to their face. Although I can see that the mix of religion & politics, and the toxic nature of the political discourse in the US complicates matters. "bobbleheads" & "pinheads" & "wingnuts" etc is standard practice. Sad really
posted by dydecker at 8:41 PM on February 18, 2008


I don't know, man. Bacon is pretty fucking good.

Precisely. Bacon is God's proof that he loves us and wants to be happy. Oh wait, that's beer. Bacon is just TEH TASTEE.

This word does not mean what you think it means

No, it means what I think it means. Are you having trouble parsing it? I have a new pamphlet out called Parsing DW's Humorous Comments. Or, if you prefer, MeFi Humor For Dummies is now available at your local megachain bookstore.
posted by dw at 8:43 PM on February 18, 2008


I guess so. The distinction is that I see an individual Christian/Muslim/whatever chiming in with their religio-views on MeFi as pretty powerless. Sure, challenge their ideas, but it's not cool to be calling them names to their face.

And the powerless are who we most mock, neh? Call them names to their faces, right in the blue, do we not? Time Cube guy gets no mercy from this crowd!

Anyhoo, I do agree with you: any individual speaking about how their religious views create value and action in their own lives is certainly to be considered with as much courtesy and consideration as any others here.

What doesn't cut it, though, are individuals who turn their religion outward, and use it as a means to force others to toe their religious line. There's a nice quote from Obama up there that describes why this is unhealthy for society.

Huckabee is one of those people. But aside from his goofy dark-ages religious mentality, he's batshitinsane in his economic, social, international, and various other policies. Calling him a nutjob to his face is simply speaking the truth. He's the Time Cube guy gone political.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:56 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's so profoundly frustrating. Almost impossibly so.
Sitting across the table with someone - right after church, and they say something homophobic, and you confront them about it.
And they say, "but it's an abomination! The....in the Bible!"
And you've taken all these classes, studied all these languages and the history of the ancient near-east and you completely grok how the scriptures have been spun and twisted and misrepresented and used as a weapon against gay people... and you don't even know where to begin.
The scriptures don't say anything of the sort. Jesus affirmed a gay couple. Jesus said that some people are born gay and that it's perfectly fine.
St. Paul didn't care about homosexuality - the Greek has been mistranslated for centuries... you can say these things to a parishioner until you're blue in the face. But at the end of the day it was never really about their faith, it was never really about their interpretation of scripture.
It's about their social capital (or lack thereof) and a human being's ability to find someone, anyone to hate - if only for a moment, so that the vapidity and crushing boredom of their own meager existence doesn't seem so horrible. After all, at least they aren't gay.

Everybody needs someone beneath them. Someone to step on, so they can marshal a little social capital.

Except for Jesus. Jesus sort of laid down under everyone else so that no one else would ever have to be on the absolute bottom anymore. And that's why conservatives don't get Jesus.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:57 PM on February 18, 2008 [35 favorites]


I meant, can you make a logical argument that being female is incorrect?

isn't that what transgendered people say? - they were born female (or male) and in fact, that is "incorrect" for them?

or is it your belief that they aren't making a logical argument when they say they are the wrong sex?

You can, however, make a logical argument that being Christian is incorrect or being atheist is incorrect

no you can't - if it was that simple, people wouldn't still be arguing about it, would they? this would have been settled a long time ago, don't you think?

but here we are

Religious beliefs deserve no more special protection than any others

i didn't say "special protection"

you still haven't come up with an adequate defense of the idea that sexual and racial identity choices should be given different status over religious identity choices in a world where, soon, all will be artificial self-willed constructions, thanks to biotechnology - and where right now, on this website, i have seen people argue that race is a social construction

please explain how the belief that i am catholic, for example, is any different than the belief that i am white and why you seem to think the first is capable of being called "incorrect" and the second isn't - they are both beliefs and social constructions, aren't they?

i'm asking for the same kind of consideration other social constructions are given, not special protection
posted by pyramid termite at 9:01 PM on February 18, 2008




please explain how the belief that i am catholic, for example, is any different than the belief that i am white and why you seem to think the first is capable of being called "incorrect" and the second isn't - they are both beliefs and social constructions, aren't they?

When one is Catholic, there is a belief that God exists. God either exists or does not. Catholicism is correct or incorrect in a way that being a man or a woman or Black or White is not correct or incorrect. Catholicism is a social construct, but adherence to it includes beliefs that are universally true or false. "I identify as White/Black/male/female" is a personal, not universal, truth. Whiteness or Blackness are social constructs. The existence or nonexistence of God is not. Before there were even people to make up social constructs, God existed or did not exist.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:16 PM on February 18, 2008


Thanks for the link, Baby_Balrog. While I found that some of the evidence supporting a gay friendly Bible seemed to be based entirely on the perspective of the reader towards the subject and circumstances (like the Centurion and his servant), there were some examples I found noteworthy and of value for further consideration (like Paul's rant against idol worshipers and Jesus' recounting of the different types of eunuchs). Its the deep examination of the ancient Greek source words that I always appreciate learning more about.
posted by Atreides at 9:29 PM on February 18, 2008


The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:35 PM on February 18, 2008


Catholicism is correct or incorrect in a way that being a man or a woman or Black or White is not correct or incorrect.

if you can't prove it either way, you cannot prove in what manner it is correct or incorrect

"I identify as White/Black/male/female" is a personal, not universal, truth.

except that they refer to universal catagories that the society recognizes as describing all the people in it

Whiteness or Blackness are social constructs.

universal ones - one is defined as white or black (or another race, or a combination) but the point is that every person is described in these terms by those who accept these terms - which makes them universal in that society

Whiteness or Blackness are social constructs.

but the actual shade of one's actual skin is not a social construct

The existence or nonexistence of God is not

but belief or unbelief in god IS - as are the organizations, customs and traditions that result

you're taking the very complicated issues of choice, reality and constructs and saying that certain ones such as sex, race and sexual orientation are beyond question for the tolerant, yet others, such as religious beliefs are fair game

it is not that simple - they all involve choice and identity

Before there were even people to make up social constructs, God existed or did not exist.

but there was no correctness or incorrectness in that situation as there were no people to perceive it or question it

in short, we create correctness or incorrectness by being there to talk about it

therefore such correctness or incorrectness is a social construction

in other words, it's not the flag that flaps, it's not the wind that flaps, it's your mind that flaps - and it's your mind that creates the distinctions that you are getting so hung up upon (but not the underlying reality those distinctions are distilled from) - and the major distinction you are hung up on is the kind of correctness or incorrectness something has when you cannot prove it correct or incorrect

any conclusions you draw from that are totally imaginary and have no realistic counterpart
posted by pyramid termite at 10:01 PM on February 18, 2008


konolia writes "It's okay if you leave, one of us will hit the lights on the way out."

No need, it's on a 30 day timer.

PeterMcDermott writes "In fact, it's only the stuff about losing the foreskin that's a deal breaker. If they ever relax that rule though, I'm in like Rabin."

Ya, self mutilation is a pretty high bar to conversion alright.

ludwig_van writes "konolia doesn't see herself as a bigot or a homophobe, and I think in some sense she isn't."

She can see herself as a potted plant, that doesn't change the normal interpration of her some of her comments.
posted by Mitheral at 10:06 PM on February 18, 2008


Baby_Balrog: the breadth and depth of her ignorance is perhaps the most frustrating thing about Konolia. She has a rigid core of pure faith that she is correct, and has very carefully studied only those things that confirm her faith. Of all else she is steadfastly, even doggedly determined to remain uninformed.

The beginning of wisdom is to challenge one's beliefs, ikkyu2. To eat the apple of knowledge. To become a self-determined man instead of a mindlessly obedient dog. To become moral through rational means -- and perhaps that is what freaks out the faithful, for in in becoming empowered to determine for oneself what is right and wrong is to become god-like in knowledge and power.

The faithful are obedient and, with the exception of the pernicious false faiths that proscribe love of one's brother and neighbour, follow a more or less moral path. The wise are not obedient, but instead choose their moral path... and it turns out to be more or less the same path as the faithful.

Same journey, same destination, different paths. One is more godly, the other more dogly.

disclaimer: this post is 100% bullshit.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:12 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I think pyramid termite is the timecube guy.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:17 PM on February 18, 2008


now to another issue - i don't see how people can be expected to talk about their belief systems openly and readily in an environment where they are so quickly attacked - and quite frankly, complaining at great length about a rather minor and somewhat empty headed comment such as "i wonder what god thinks about this thread" makes people look thin-skinned and hypersensitive

what an absurd thing to get upset about

oh, and malor - surely you know that the reductionism you're using to interpret those studies is controversial among philosophers and scientists - that just because certain parts of the brain light up on a screen at certain times does not translate into proof that one experience is the same as another or has the same meaning or experiential value

for all we know, reading homer and "my pet goat" make the same parts of the brain light up - if they did would that make them equivalent literary works?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:19 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I think pyramid termite is the timecube guy.

sometimes i think you're as deaf as your namesake
posted by pyramid termite at 10:23 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nobody has commented on something konolia said in her last comment here over 3 hours ago, but it really stuck in my craw...
Whereas my God said that the wisdom of the wise he would frustrate, and that His foolishness was wiser than man's wisdom.

That sounds so anti-intellectual, anti-science and anti-pursuit-of-knowledge. I know that human knowledge is still very very incomplete and God-as-all-knowing is part of believing in a Supreme Being. But that language speaks of a God who is openly disdainful of humans trying to learn about their universe on their own, and my own view that konolia and others worship a God with a toxic personality, quite opposite to Jesus' self-sacrifice and placing NO ONE below himself.
posted by wendell at 10:26 PM on February 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


sometimes i think you're as deaf as your namesake
Uh, well if I were deaf I'd still be able to read your posts, but they'd still be eyesores that didn't make a lot of sense. I'd love to reread that last long one in English though, you seemed like you were on to something.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:29 PM on February 18, 2008


Well. I think that resolves that.

They'll be no more need for ill-tempered religious discussions on Metafilter, or anywhere else.
posted by tkchrist at 10:38 PM on February 18, 2008


and FWIW, via email she did acknowledge my requests. Not the way I would have liked, but she did acknowledge them.


Why via email, I wonder?

Oh, wait, I know. So that it would be rude and (depending on your opinion) unethical for you to post here when she said, I'm guessing, "I won't be reading those books, and I won't be meeting anyone from PFLAG, because I already know everything I need to know."

This is how it always ends with you, konolia. Drop turds, fail to explain, leave to drop turds another day.

Banning is traditionally an excellent way to prevent that from happening again.

I know this is hard to think about. But if you're so all-fired certain about your faith, you should know this stuff.

Miko, you're smart like whoa, so I'm kind of surprised you didn't follow your statement to its logical conclusion. She's so incredibly certain about her faith because it means she doesn't ever have to think critically about anything ever again.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:43 PM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


oh, and malor - surely you know that the reductionism you're using to interpret those studies is controversial among philosophers and scientists - that just because certain parts of the brain light up on a screen at certain times does not translate into proof that one experience is the same as another or has the same meaning or experiential value

I'm not saying that it's actually happened, just that it's easily conceivable that it could. And I was asking what the reaction would be, given the superior modeling we'll have in another decade or so, if scientists can show that talking to God and talking to an imaginary childhood friend are using the same circuitry in the same way.

It's a thought experiment (heh)... not an existing truth.

The answer, so far, appears to be "declare evidence as irrelevant".
posted by Malor at 10:52 PM on February 18, 2008


This thread has about 75000 words. Instead of it, I could have read the new Iain Banks, sitting temptingly pristine on my desk, but no, I perservered, hoping that konolia would snap. Talk about a let-down.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 10:52 PM on February 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


God's account is now disabled. Can we just move on now?
posted by bigmusic at 10:53 PM on February 18, 2008


By the way, this probably isn't very clear from the rather odd direction this thread took... but what I'm attacking isn't so much spirituality, it's that horrible, noxious certainty and death of all further rational thought.
posted by Malor at 10:54 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread has about 75000 words. Instead of it, I could have read the new Iain Banks, sitting temptingly pristine on my desk, but no, I perservered, hoping that konolia would snap. Talk about a let-down.

The new culture book? Matter? Read it.

Starts obvious, then kind of strays off the main characters and .... well... It's worth it. Though not as good as most of the other culture books. Still. Yes. A much better use of your time than this thread. Hell. Chuck Palanuik would be a better use of your time.
posted by tkchrist at 11:01 PM on February 18, 2008


My housemate tells me it references the gas creatures from The Algebraist, which would just be too perfect for words.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 11:07 PM on February 18, 2008


That Would Jesus Discriminate site is excellent, thanks for the link.

Also, this thread has inspired me to revisit the Brick Testament. Good times!
posted by jtron at 11:17 PM on February 18, 2008


Got too postmodern, as I was afraid it would, and combined with it getting late I'm going to have to bug out after this one. Yes, I'm making some epistemological assumptions, arguably socially constructed: statements cannot be both true and false, statements are true or false regardless of whether or not their truth is known, knowable, or known by some but denied by others, belief in true statements is superior to belief in false statements, something about free will, and a lot more, some of which I'm probably not even aware of and neither are you. If we leave them behind it gets very hairy very quickly, and the amount of time I can spend on Metafilter is almost immediately exceeded. Furthermore, they're assumptions that have proved useful in life - I don't walk around worrying that with my next step gravity will fail and I will find myself rocketing into the sun, I don't do math where 2+2=4 and 2+2=5 but 4 != 5, and while I don't know what the temperature is in Shanghai, it is still true or false that the temperature in Shanghai is currently 70 degrees F, even if it was impossible for me to find out for sure.

One of these assumptions regards "but there was no correctness or incorrectness in that situation as there were no people to perceive it or question it." To me, there was no one to be correct or incorrect, but even without observers a statement regarding the ground truth about reality is either correct or incorrect. The correctness or incorrectness is not created by being there to talk about it, unless the universe did not exist without people to perceive it.

Given these epistemological assumptions, expressed, implied, unstated, and even unknown: Falling under the socially constructed category "male" does not assert the truth or falsehood of any statement. As noted with the example of a sex change operation, falling into this category doesn't even necessarily mean one believes the statement "I am male." The sex change operation implies certain statements about social constructs, i.e. that it is possible to "become female," but these are generally statements about social constructs, including what is the definition of "being female", not statements that are true or false independent of social constructs. Certain socially constructed elements of "being female" can make the proposition "a male can become female" demonstrably false, for example, if the construction requires being born female, or if it, under the current technological regime, requires the XX sex chromosome, but this is an example of where the truth or falsehood is dependent on the social construct.

Falling under the social constructs "Catholic" "Muslim" "Scientologist" or "Atheist" involves asserting the truth or falsehood of statements, e.g. "God exists" which are true or false independent of social constructs. The Scientologist statement that the universe is trillions of years old is false, for example, if we allow ourselves enough of an epistemological framework to estimate and assign meaning to our estimate of the age of the universe. Similarly, the Creationist statement "The Earth is 6000 years old" is false.

Thusly, the tolerance due to religious beliefs is the tolerance due to, for example, differing political or scientific beliefs, not that due to Blackness or maleness.

Finally, the end result of your construction is that by having this argument you are being intolerant towards me in a fashion equivalent to racism, or that fighting Creationism in the schools is bigotry.

For anyone else feeling TL;DR:
You know how they told you to stay off drugs? You'd be better off staying away from epistemology, cause that's the shit that's gonna fuck up your brain.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:25 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


And I was asking what the reaction would be, given the superior modeling we'll have in another decade or so, if scientists can show that talking to God and talking to an imaginary childhood friend are using the same circuitry in the same way.

That's not proof of anything. And reason is not an especially compelling argument against faith, for those who have faith. There are all kinds of rational arguments against faith already, but they're irrelevant - faith is, by its very nature, belief without reason.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:28 PM on February 18, 2008


My karma ran over your dogma.

Yes, I stole that from a bumper sticker.
posted by amyms at 11:44 PM on February 18, 2008


Hey guys! Why's everyone standing in a circle? What's that cookie doing th-OH GOD! WHAT HAVE YOU ALL BEEN DOING?!





What do you mean I have to eat it!?!
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:24 AM on February 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


I love the gas creatures from The Algebraist! And if that makes me a sinner - well, I guess I'll be with nicolas léonard sadi carnot, knitting socks in hell.
posted by taz at 1:40 AM on February 19, 2008


also, nicolas léonard, I was, like, "hallsa tan? wtf is hallsa tan?". Heh.
posted by taz at 1:43 AM on February 19, 2008


MetaMartyrFilter: why can't I speak up, just like the other groups?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:54 AM on February 19, 2008


What's that cookie doing th-OH GOD! WHAT HAVE YOU ALL BEEN DOING?!

That? That's just the Metatalk Communion Wafer. Made from the body and spooge of the Mefi Boyzone.

If you don't want to be cast into the outer darkness, you'd better eat that cookie right on up. Then give me fifteen Hail Quonsars and fifteen Our Mathowie's.

Go forth and troll no more.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:05 AM on February 19, 2008


Who is timecube guy?
posted by pieoverdone at 5:09 AM on February 19, 2008


God knows an opportunity when God sees it...and so does Konolia.

And most sentient beings can smell the bullshit from miles away!
posted by ericb at 5:17 AM on February 19, 2008


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