Apparently, Jesus *wouldn't* enjoy Dora the Explorer. November 23, 2008 7:01 PM   Subscribe

NOLOLSFORXIANS: Really, is there a reason to make single link posts to farcical Christian propaganda?

So far the discussion seems pretty reasonable, mostly focused on "Whoa, is this real?" but it's really causing the sand to ride up in my panties that the LOLXIANS "meme" has gone to the point of "OH WOW, THEY MADE THIS FARCE ABOUT HOW CARTOONS ARE EVIL AND THEY'RE SO WEIRD THAT IT'S LIKE, IMPOSSIBLE TO DISTINGUISH FROM REALITY!"

I'm not a Christian, but I do feel like the pointing and laughing really does a disservice to serious, intelligent Christians and just serves to make the rest of us look like big meanies. There's enough honest objections to fundamentalist Christianity without having to drag fake ones into MetaFilter.

(Psychic prediction: This will not wendell. I already know and I am posting this anyway because I feel like in order to facilitate a more positive atmosphere on MetaFilter where more hugs were given, the LOLXIAN vibe is seriously counterproductive.)
posted by grapefruitmoon to Etiquette/Policy at 7:01 PM (258 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Interesting. Apparently GOD HATES FLAGS.

(and moving it on)
posted by yhbc at 7:09 PM on November 23, 2008 [13 favorites]


Who will stand up against LOLTIMECUBES posts, that's what I want to know.
posted by Artw at 7:13 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Weren't Lolxians phased out of the second edition because of copyright issues? But then they came back as Mind Flayers? Or am I drunk?
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:19 PM on November 23, 2008 [11 favorites]


I'm not a Christian, but I do feel like the pointing and laughing really does a disservice to serious, intelligent Christians and just serves to make the rest of us look like big meanies. There's enough honest objections to fundamentalist Christianity without having to drag fake ones into MetaFilter.

This lapsed Catholic boy kind of agrees with you. Not that I have any sympathy with psycho fundies, but I hate tarring sincere Christians with the same brush and I hate giving credence to fundies persecution complex.

Also, Absolut Mandarin combined with Pineapple Jell-O makes great shooters. UNDAPANTZ!
posted by jonmc at 7:20 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jello comes in a flavor other than red?
posted by Science! at 7:25 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some things don't require satire. Crazed fundamentalists are already funnier than Landover Baptist or this site. It's like making a mock TimeCube page, or wearing suspenders with your Sansabelt slacks.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:26 PM on November 23, 2008


In particular, the original poster admits to the farcical nature of the post, but sends it up anyway. Which just reinforces at the outset how the LOLXTIANSAMIRITE? sentiment is acceptable. But maybe it is, what do I know?
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 7:27 PM on November 23, 2008


I thought it was a lousy post but I was gone a lot of the day and it wasn't flagged terribly much [unless I missed something earlier] so I left it alone. Yeah, generally speaking posts like these are sort of lame.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:29 PM on November 23, 2008


Jello comes in a flavor other than red?

Yes, there's also green and orange (colored). Never seen any others, though. Which is, honestly, a relief.
posted by Caduceus at 7:32 PM on November 23, 2008


The LOLXTIANS! crap annoys me (a dedicated agnostic) too, & is the usual cause of my occasional short hiatuses from MeFi, but that thread shows evidence of a much larger and more alarming problem:

An inability to detect parody.

I admit Landover Baptist had me wondering for a day or so in it's earlier years, back when it was actually subtle, but that site? People thought for more than a microsecond that it was real? Really?!

I suspect a red fog descends over the eyes and creeps into the brain of some people at the mere mention of religion, obscuring their vision and reading comprehension while at the same time forcing their hands towards the keyboard. It then obscures sense totally, reverting them temporarily to some primal feral animal state where every rabid thought expresses through their fingers.

Because, really, that site?! Swift it ain't...
posted by Pinback at 7:33 PM on November 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's an easy target. I am a (skeptical) christian, and those posts do rub me the wrong way, even though (or maybe because) christians can be such an easy target. It's the new equivalent of fat jokes; a lazy way to get a cheap laugh.

On the other hand, I also know that lots of LOLXTIAN posts get deleted, so I think it balances out.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 7:36 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think it's counterproductive, but not in the way you think.

Most of the userbase (someone correct me if I'm wrong) reside in a country wherein a reasonable excuse for a very expensive war was "God told me it was okay," where the brainwashed can retreat into compounds (oh, sorry, ranches), and where you have an entire state with a consistent problem of producing "excess" boys who must be rejected and dumped from a community for a particular marriage/religion structure to continue.

They're headed into an entire month which is ostensibly about the "spirit" of giving, which just happens to be represented as a bizarre pack of lies we feed our children in some generational abuse of reason about an obese, gaudily-garbed housebreaker who, in a floating vehicle hauled by a small squadron of horned mammals (and their occasional mutant child-leader, Rudolph), who spends one night a year stuffing himself down improbable channels to gorge himself on sweets and in return, leave what are often impractical and barely affordable items covered in a shiny layer of promptly-disposed waste. Oh, and we have to sing about it, too. All the while the same lunatics on the radio declare that said holy-day season (reconcile that) is under attack by the people who brought you things like Miranda rights, in between jingles and announcements of sales and other consumer-driven nonsense which is the true spirit of the month, so much so that some companies stake their yearly income on it.

As useful as it might be to encourage people to take Christianity a bit less seriously, I doubt that the attitude will trickle down any time soon. They're more or less spitting into the wind. It might be therapeutic, however, if they blew off a little steam. Or spit. Spitsteam. I guess my point is that, for those who aren't religious, it's gonna be a rough next five weeks, and they might want a little smile to keep to themselves while they're surrounded by green and red garbed people who are ritually chanting while intoxicated on eggnoxious.
posted by adipocere at 7:43 PM on November 23, 2008 [25 favorites]


Got shafted at Secret Santa again, huh?
posted by jonmc at 7:46 PM on November 23, 2008 [19 favorites]


yhbc: I flagged. I was going to move on, but then I realized, my beef here was not specifically with the post, but with the attitude of the site that such a post is considered acceptable. And I'm not down with that, and I think the subject of how LOLXIANS isn't really conducive to a community sort of atmosphere is worthy of discussion.

"Flag and move on" is not the solution to every single problem on MetaFilter, sometimes there are bigger issues that community members feel like discussing.

Also: To every person who writes "Flag and move on" in response to nearly all MetaTalk posts, why don't you just not comment if YOU don't have anything to say?

Alright, I'm digressing from my point, which is that discussion is sometimes more helpful than simply throwing up the "DO NOT WANT" flag and leaving it up to the mods to take care of. This is certainly an issue beyond just "This one post is lousy."

I'm going to end my response here before I get in any further danger of needing a hug.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:48 PM on November 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


Also, Absolut Mandarin combined with Pineapple Jell-O makes great shooters. UNDAPANTZ!

I believe that. It sounds delicious.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:49 PM on November 23, 2008


Undapantz sounds delicious? You're weird, lady.
posted by jonmc at 7:50 PM on November 23, 2008


Is that what they're giving out in Mass now for communion?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:52 PM on November 23, 2008


adipocere: I get your point, totally. I'm more of the opinion that the way to free ourselves of the dominance this country has undergone from the religious right is to express religious tolerance and open ourselves up to acceptance of religion. This sort of "attack the right" nonsense, LOLXIANS, just fuels the "agents of Satan" fire that far, far too many fundamentalist Christians really do believe. And in all honesty, most Christians are good people. Some are even awesome people. They just have the particular problem with having a bunch of WACKOS who are really LOUD spewing out most of their message. And that's unfortunate.

So, it seems to me that maybe by focusing on the positive and trying to just mellow out rather than forming some sort of bizarre counterattack would be a better strategy. It's just flinging beligerance at... well, other beligerance. If an eye for an eye doesn't work, a "demonizing people you don't agree with because they demonized you first" isn't really going to be effective either.

So yeah, in general I agree, but as you say, our reasons differ a bit.

Yup. Still singing kumbaya. On MetaFilter. I'm a paradox!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:54 PM on November 23, 2008


Taoism
Shit happens.
Buddhism
If shit happens, it's not really shit.
Islam
If shit happens, it's the will of Allah.
Protestantism
Shit happens because you don't work hard enough.
Judaism
Why does this shit always happen to us?
Hinduism
This shit happened before.
Catholicism
Shit happens because you're bad.
Hare Krishna
Shit happens rama rama.
T.V. Evangelism
Send more shit.
Atheism
No shit.
Jehovah's Witness
Knock knock, shit happens.
Hedonism
There's nothing like a good shit happening.
Christian Science
Shit happens in your mind.
Agnosticism
Maybe shit happens, maybe it doesn't.
Rastafarianism
Let's smoke this shit.
Existentialism
What is shit anyway?
Stoicism
This shit doesn't bother me.
posted by netbros at 7:55 PM on November 23, 2008 [17 favorites]


Also, Absolut Mandarin combined with Pineapple Jell-O makes great shooters. UNDAPANTZ!

I believe that. It sounds delicious.


mmmm hooflin's
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:57 PM on November 23, 2008


and potent. I just spent the last 5 minutes singing along toa Cher record. I am one of the few hetero men on earth who will admit to digging that crazy-ass surgically altered woman.
posted by jonmc at 8:03 PM on November 23, 2008


Pastafarianism
Do I really have to eat this shit?
posted by jacobian at 8:06 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's like making a mock TimeCube page

ThymeCube
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:07 PM on November 23, 2008 [8 favorites]


Scientology:
Are You A Happy Shit?
posted by jonmc at 8:08 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


but with the attitude of the site that such a post is considered acceptable. And I'm not down with that, and I think the subject of how LOLXIANS isn't really conducive to a community sort of atmosphere is worthy of discussion.

Well, LOLPAGANS and LOLMORMONS are OK, so why is LOLXIANS not OK?

It's not as though American Christians are exactly an oppressed minority.
posted by rodgerd at 8:12 PM on November 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Scientology:
Are You A Happy Shit?


Not this guy.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:13 PM on November 23, 2008


I guess my point is that, for those who aren't religious, it's gonna be a rough next five weeks and they might want a little smile to keep to themselves ...

I'm not religious, but I don't feel that way.

... while they're surrounded by green and red garbed people who are ritually chanting while intoxicated on eggnoxious.

Honestly, they sound more fun than you.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS METATALK!!!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:31 PM on November 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


One of Jamie Oliver's books recommended you half-fill a shot glass with pomegranate seeds and pour iced gin over top; you crunch the seeds and get this sort of sweet-tart-fruitiness that compliments the cold juniperity (and slight burn) of the gin.

It's even better with Absolut Ruby Red - the citrus at the front and the slight bitterness on the end are delightful.
posted by heeeraldo at 8:35 PM on November 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


So, wait, the complaint here is that a site parodying the extreme right of American fundamentalist Christianity -- the people who want to pass laws making homosexuality a crime, want to teach religion in school as science, want to push prayer into schools, and want to strip a woman's reproductive choices away -- is an issue because it might insult other Christians?

I mean, if your case is that it's not very funny, or it is a weak link, okay. But if your case is that we should steer clear of sites that mock the intolerant because it might offend people who share their historic religion, but not their intolerance?

Yeah?

Or is your complaint that the site fails because intolerant Christians don't actually object to cartoons?

I'm failing to understand your objection. Both these complaints seem prepsoterous to me. This is a branch of Christianity that is actively pursuing stripping my rights away, and probably yours too.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:39 PM on November 23, 2008 [23 favorites]


Usually I stay out of those threads. If I like Formula 1, am I going to go to a NASCAR race?

I do think the post is a bit thin, though. Usually if I can't put more than a few links in there then I don't think it's worth a FPP.
posted by hellojed at 8:54 PM on November 23, 2008


I can't believe this thread is the first time the kilroywashere tag has ever been used. Come on, Metafilter.
posted by Caduceus at 8:54 PM on November 23, 2008


Although I am by no means a Christian, I like the Christmas season. I generally am not huge on bah-humbuggery, but "generational abuse of reason" is fucking hilarious.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:50 PM on November 23, 2008


LOLXTIAN posts are bad for MetaFilter.

Not because they give offense or because we all need hugs or anything like that.

They're bad for MetaFilter because such posts are really, really fucking lame. Like an amateur comedian making jokes about women drivers or airline food. It's just fucking dull. Played out. Nothing new or interesting in the genre.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:52 PM on November 23, 2008 [8 favorites]


That sounds nice, grapefruitmoon, but tolerance is something that tends to work with others who are tolerant, not the intolerant. It's like having good manners — they're wonderful when someone else is also polite, but when you're dealing with the rude, they can turn into a liability wherein your tolerance is simply taken advantage of. Atheists have had, well, centuries of patient, respectful waiting without a whole lot of luck at it. And you'd like to encourage self-censorship of perhaps one of the few tools available?

Just ponder this for a second: we're pretty sure that all of this "defense of marriage" stuff comes from the wackos, you mentioned, right? Well, even discounting the few broadcasting it, the remainder of their religion stand by in silent support. Just enough to vote it in fun stuff like Prop 8. And they'd rather have a homosexual as a President than an atheist. So, if they're willing to prevent gays from getting married, but they'd vote in one before an atheist ... yeah, you're expecting tolerance in kind from those who would not grant it.

Make fun of them, because standing there and waiting for them to leave us alone hasn't been all that effective. What's been more effective with Scientologists, nodding and smiling ... or dissecting their beliefs for a giggle? And if it isn't okay here, exactly where would it be okay? I'm envisioning atheists painting a big knot of lines with some googly eyes on their chests (to represent the FSM) and having secret meetings where they can privately and quietly have a laugh without daring to offend.

The post itself isn't even all that far off the mark. My high school gaming club was closed down at the first possible pretext they could find to do so; I did not fail to note the eerie coincidence that the complaints emanated from the groups who would make the Flying Wallendas jealous with their ability to walk and wobble over the line separating church and state at my school. That cartoons, where SpongeBob or the Smurfs, would be targeted in this fashion is funny because it's just shy of complete believability. The post lacks only more links to make it better. And the site itself is perhaps a little too well-designed to be real.

This site just deserves a better class of LOLXIAN.
posted by adipocere at 10:26 PM on November 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


Bigotry and derision are ugly regardless of who they are directed at.

I've recently returned to atheism after giving Christianity a fair shot. I can't believe that Jesus was the son of god, but I am down with helping the poor, healing the sick, loving thy neighbor, etc.

There are members of every group that cast a bad light on the group. Most Muslims don't harbor terrorist plans and most Christians aren't raving lunatics bent on destroying the liberals.
posted by SteveTheRed at 10:32 PM on November 23, 2008


Most Muslims don't harbor terrorist plans and most Christians aren't raving lunatics bent on destroying the liberals.

But that doesn't mean that a site specifically directed at mocking the lunatic fringe of Christianity is an insult to all Christians, any more than a site that mocks the John Birch society is an insult to all Americans.

I agree with you on bigotry, but derision? It may be ugly, but there are things that are worth mocking.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:22 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


but tolerance is something that tends to work with others who are tolerant, not the intolerant

I had a wordy comment typed up, but this really makes my point for me.
posted by trondant at 11:31 PM on November 23, 2008


"Make fun of them, because standing there and waiting for them to leave us alone hasn't been all that effective. "
And you honestly think that making fun of christians will be effective? That making a parody site about how evil Dora the Explorer is will do anything to convince someone that in fact gay marriage is not such a bad idea after all?

"What's been more effective with Scientologists, nodding and smiling ... or dissecting their beliefs for a giggle?"
What has been most effective is the focused work of many people in telling the truth about what scientology really is (for example by posting the secret texts online), not lame parody sites.

When I was a christian (over ten years ago now) people laughing at us made us feel stronger. It meant we were at the second stage of winning (First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win).
posted by davar at 12:03 AM on November 24, 2008


So, wait, the complaint here is that a site parodying the extreme right of American fundamentalist Christianity ... is an issue because it might insult other Christians?

Possibly the other Christians don't like this sort of thing because they are horribly embaressed by the fundies. I'd certainly agree to a ban on all LOLXTIAN posts on that basis, so long a we can have a ban on Richard Dawkins post on the same grounds.
posted by Artw at 12:21 AM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Bigotry and derision are ugly regardless of who they are directed at.

You're half right.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:24 AM on November 24, 2008


This idea that I can point and laugh at everything but christians is really causing the sand to ride up in my panties. I've heard this all my life. Why are they getting a get out of laughter free card when nobody else is?
posted by dabitch at 2:35 AM on November 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just ponder this for a second: we're pretty sure that all of this "defense of marriage" stuff comes from the wackos, you mentioned, right? Well, even discounting the few broadcasting it, the remainder of their religion stand by in silent support.

What? The rest of Christianity stands by in silent support of "defense of marriage"? Re-think that, please.

With regards to the FPP: It didn't offend me, as it was clear to me who the intended target of derision was. I have a real problem with all Christians painted with the same cartoonish brush, but not when the cartoonish hairspray-helmet evangelist set are themselves mocked. And to me, the site wasn't making fun of Christianity; it was making fun of Christianity's most mockable characters.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:42 AM on November 24, 2008


pointing and laughing really does a disservice to serious, intelligent Christians

Does it? If the "serious intelligent Christians" are completely unrelated to the LOLXIANS then how is laughing at the latter any harm to the former? Conversely, if laughing at LOLXIANS does harm "serious intelligent Christians" then maybe they aren't so unrelated after all, and needed to be "harmed" by being deflated a little.
posted by DU at 4:35 AM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


...so long a we can have a ban on Richard Dawkins post on the same grounds.

The only atheists who are embarrassed by Dawkins are ones who haven't read him themselves and are going by strawmen the religious set up.
posted by DU at 4:39 AM on November 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


The only atheists who are embarrassed by Dawkins are ones who haven't read him themselves and are going by strawmen the religious set up.

"Brights", dude.

Brights.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:47 AM on November 24, 2008 [8 favorites]


Not correcting your use of "atheist", by the way. Just pointing out something I find embarrassing about Dawkins.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:48 AM on November 24, 2008


Yeah, I am about a hundred-odd pages through The God Delusion and find myself wincing occasionally.

"Brights" would be, as Marisa pointed out, one of those special instances where I did not merely wince, but I winced for all of humanity at once.

It hurt.
posted by adipocere at 5:10 AM on November 24, 2008


The only atheists who are embarrassed by Dawkins are ones who haven't read him themselves and are going by strawmen the religious set up.
posted by DU at 12:39 PM on November 24 [+] [!]


I'm embarrassed by Dawkins and I've read everything he's written. I really enjoy his books.
I think many of us agree with him in theory but disagree on tactics.
posted by vacapinta at 5:11 AM on November 24, 2008


OK, I forgot about "Brights". Is that even still around? Point taken on that one.

As for his "tactics" though. I haven't seen anything wince-producing. I just hear him talking calmly, objectively and unsentimentally about religion and science.
posted by DU at 5:18 AM on November 24, 2008


Jello comes in a flavor other than red?

Yes, there's also green and orange (colored).


I happen to have some pink jello crystals waiting to be used in my cupboard. At my local supermarket, I could also choose from yellow (lemon or pineapple), purple, a different flavour of red, and I think I once saw blue.
posted by jacalata at 5:30 AM on November 24, 2008


The LOLXTIANS! crap annoys me (a dedicated agnostic) too ... but that thread shows evidence of a much larger and more alarming problem:

An inability to detect parody.


I agree with both parts of this; I hate the LOLXIANS crap, but I'm truly alarmed by the number of supposedly smart, skeptical MeFites who sit there going "Uhh... is this real? 'Cause it's kind of... you know... I mean, I know Xians are crazy and stoopid and everything, so it's probably real, but I dunno, it's maybe a little too much??" Dude.

Thanks for the post, grapefruitmoon; my first MetaTalk post was on a similar topic, and I wince every time I see another god-bashing post. And of course this very complaint attracts the god-haters, who are so exercised they make one long-ass comment and then (perhaps encouraged by all the favorites) come back and make another, just so we'll all know how very much they can't stand Christianity and religion and god. God forbid such things should ever be mentioned without someone haranguing us about how dumb and wrong and unscientific belief is, and how evil believers are!

Oh, and Dawkins is supremely annoying. Anyone who thinks he's not is probably also annoying and should ask their friends for an honest opinion.
posted by languagehat at 6:28 AM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


There was black Jell-o for a while, but I'm not sure whether it's still around.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:29 AM on November 24, 2008


It's the Cher, jello, vodka, and undapantz that makes this thread worth thanking God for.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:35 AM on November 24, 2008


If the "serious intelligent Christians" are completely unrelated to the LOLXIANS then how is laughing at the latter any harm to the former?

Because often, the mockery takes the form of 'Chrisitians are idiots and believe in a giant magic candy-dispensing daddy in the sky and people of faith are as dumb as people who believe in unicorns or no gravity.'
posted by shakespeherian at 6:37 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because often, the mockery takes the form of 'Chrisitians are idiots and believe in a giant magic candy-dispensing daddy in the sky and people of faith are as dumb as people who believe in unicorns or no gravity.'

That sort of stuff is obnoxious, but shouldn't be an argument for never mocking the radical fringe of a religion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:59 AM on November 24, 2008


Metafilter: It was a lousy post but I was gone a lot of the day
posted by lukemeister at 7:03 AM on November 24, 2008


You're right; I don't think the complaint is about the website in question, but about the form that these conversations always end up taking around here (I could be wrong about the intentions of the complaint, but that's what my complaint is).
posted by shakespeherian at 7:04 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


That has bothered me for a long time, even though I am an atheist. It sort of reminds me of when I first became a vegetarian when I was 16 and would lecture people about eating meat, which I quickly realized was obnoxious and counterproductive. I don't know what inspires other atheists to feel the need to stick their head into every single thread on religion only for the purpose of repeating that idiotic "superhero in the sky" jibe, except a relentless desire to establish their own intellectual superiority.

It's petty, unnecessary, counterproductive, juvenile, and betrays a galling lack of imagination, and I wish people would stop it. But I think the point of this post is that there should not be FPPs linking to sites that mock the extreme right ring of Christianity, and, since those are the very people who are actively and aggressive pursuing public policy that would diminish my rights, I say have at them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:21 AM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think the site was mocking Christianity as a whole, but that was just my take. As someone who has witnessed the type of behavior and thought-processes that the site was mocking—either in my own upbringing or through the recollections of others—I found it amusing. I also appreciate the great lengths 'the creator' (heh) went through to give it a sense of batshitinsane realism. My reasons for sharing it weren't just to point and laugh and belittle people, but I certainly didn't frame it that way; probably out of laziness.

It was a pretty weak one-link post that could be read as LOLXIANS, though, so apologies for that.

Not every post will be golden, but I don't want to share stupid shit no one really wants to see. Noted.
posted by defenestration at 7:30 AM on November 24, 2008


This thread needs more Ned Flanders:

Rod: "Daddy, what are you doing?"
Ned Flanders: "Imploring people I never met to pressure government with better things to do to punish a man who meant no harm for something nobody even saw, that's what I'm doing!"

Ned Flanders: "I wish we lived in a place more like the America of yesteryear that only exists in the brains of us Republicans."

Ned Flanders: "Let's thank the Lord for another beautiful day."
Superintendent Chalmers: "'Thank the Lord'? That sounded like a prayer. A prayer in a public school. God has no place within these walls, just like facts don't have a place within an organized religion."
posted by Brocktoon at 7:33 AM on November 24, 2008


It sort of reminds me of when I first became a vegetarian when I was 16 and would lecture people about eating meat, which I quickly realized was obnoxious and counterproductive. I don't know what inspires other atheists to feel the need...

Because, it's their turn to be 16?
posted by vacapinta at 7:41 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the "serious intelligent Christians" are completely unrelated to the LOLXIANS then how is laughing at the latter any harm to the former?

You can use that for anything.

"I hate those stupid, knee-jerk, feel-good, thoughtless liberals!!!"
"Hey! I'm a liberal, but I think my opinions are well-reasoned!"
"Oh, then I'm not talking about you."

"I can't stand those stupid wetback, frijole-eating, Mexicans!"
"I'm Mexican, but by back is dry and I hate frijoles."
"Oh, then I'm not talking about you."

"Stinky fat slobs annoy the hell out of me!"
"I'm fat, but I dress immaculately and shower at least twice a day."
"Oh, then that's not directed at you."

Etc.

Yeah, yeah, I know there are a bajillion-killion explanations as to why "it's not the same" because "christians are not a minority" and "basing opinions on the actions of the group is not the same as prejudice." Save your breath. I hate stupid, knee-jerk, feel-good, thoughtless, liberal, wetback, frijole-eating, stinky, fat slobs who excuse prejudice and ridicule depending on what group it's aimed at."
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 7:49 AM on November 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


You can use that for anything.

If you are saying that all religions are a priori equally ridiculous, then I agree with you.
posted by DU at 7:54 AM on November 24, 2008


This frijole looks like Jesus.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:56 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Atheists have had, well, centuries of patient, respectful waiting without a whole lot of luck at it. And you'd like to encourage self-censorship of perhaps one of the few tools available?

A whole lot of luck at what? Converting everyone else into atheists? As an atheist in the US, I'm able to go to school, vote, participate in the community, get a job, get married, etc. without needing to hide the fact that I'm an atheist. At least here, atheists don't seem to be very oppressed relative to the other various minority groups that coexist together.

And although I'm fine with satire aimed at fundamentalist morality police like the one from the FPP, I would disagree that it's a useful tool of any kind. Real groups do exist that try to bully various companies into censoring anything that is deemed offensive based on moral grounds, but satire won't do anything to stop them. Forming and supporting anti-censorship groups, for example, would be a be a more effective way to counteract such a group.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:03 AM on November 24, 2008


tolerance is something that tends to work with others who are tolerant, not the intolerant.

So then you get a situation where each side is saying "We're tolerant, but their intolerance makes our efforts ineffective!" Which is convenient for everyone looking for a fight, really.
posted by naju at 8:10 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


serious, intelligent Christians

ROFL
posted by plexi at 8:23 AM on November 24, 2008


That'd be a good example of the shittier end of the discussion-of-religion stick, plexi. Doesn't help a bit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:24 AM on November 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


The nerve of some people, making jokes about Christians. Next, they'll want to start publishing cartoon caricatures of Mohammed!

"Forming and supporting anti-censorship groups"

Lets make our first action the suppression of anti-Christian website propagation. We don't want to offend um, their censors....?
posted by Brocktoon at 8:25 AM on November 24, 2008


tolerance is something that tends to work with others who are tolerant, not the intolerant.

It's also totally appropriate to just flat out say "this intolerance is totally inappropriate and harming the fabic of our society" in reasoned tones without being all eye-rollingly, chest-beatingly, tarring-with-wide-brush ZOMGZORZ about it. We've seen plenty of posts on MeFi that discuss negative things that the Religious Right and their ilk have been doing in the US and elsewhere and I think those can be instructive when they don't devolve into sneering nastiness.

Put another way, one of the things I dislike about a lot of the tactics of the fundamentalists preachy types is their complete over the top disdain for people who don't walk their walk. Adopting that dismissive ugly tone to make a point in a forum that is notoriously bad at conveying nuance and subtlety (i.e. internet communities) has a tendency to backfire and stir up more ill will than it settles. While my long range goals may be making large groups of people aware of the bad juju these people spread in order to get more sensible policies and leaders in place, my short range goal also has to be to not alienate people that might otherwise be my allies. That's my tactical approach and these sorts of posts, to me, do nothing to forward that goal; they're more like the Libertarian Dating Thread, a chance to give us all a common "enemy" so we can all taunt them together. It's distasteful and seems mobbish.

While I think there are creepy bad people doing terrible things in the name of Christianity (and many other religions and causes), I think hate-the-haters campaigns against them don't solve the problem, they just give us something do do with the bad way we feel about what is happening. We need better tactics.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:26 AM on November 24, 2008 [8 favorites]


Because we have reached the place where the Judeo-Christian tradition can be equated with Time Cube or FSM without such a comparison being treated as unacceptable naked bigotry; because the Religious Right has become a synecdoche for the whole; because we allow the argument that one form of bigotry is acceptable so long as the individual identifies the targeted group as bigoted; because the argument has taken root that bigotry is acceptable if the group being targeted is not by some definition "historically oppressed"; and because religious identity is treated as nothing more than a category of people at war in identity politics, I suspect this argument is over. The society here on the whole has accepted as tolerable an element of obnoxious and repetitive Christian bashing which will ebb and flow through posts and comments--ignoring the fact that the bashing, while putatively targeting the 1/3 of the world's entire population who self-identify as Christian, is also typically an insult to the 85% of the world that self-identify as theistic. In my opinion, this would be a much better place were bigots of any stripe not allowed to repetitively attempt to create a hostile environment.

So I suspect this post will not accomplish anything more than the many before it, though I applaud you for making it. Too often the bigotry is tolerated. Too often it is left unchallenged. And that is why there is a threshold of acceptance, only to be addressed when that threshold is crossed. But it is not going away not matter how annoying and offensive it is. It's too late for that.

It might not be so annoying if it was not so predictable; if it was not the same people making the comments; if it was not substantively the same flaccid comments every time; if it was not always a derail; if it was ever tinged with even a scintilla of respect for the fact that on the unanswerable questions of existence, reasonable individuals can disagree respectfully. But it is rarely ever any of those things. On the occasion it is not merely serving as proxy for the other in a never-tiring social war, the bashing is instead usually nothing more than outright hostility derived from an arrogant belief that the individual writing has resolved life's mystery to a level of irrefutable certainty that those who still follow the theistic tradition are contemptible for not having discarded it as the mighty genius has. I am all for logical positivism. But there are limits even in positivism in resolving life's mysteries on the fundamental questions of existence and a soul. And being an atheist does not require that one act as if the answers are self-evidently obvious. I recur to a line from the better writer in the James family--William--who wrote:
"The spiritualistic reader may nevertheless believe in the soul if he will; whilst the positivistic one who wishes to give a tinge of mystery to the expression of his positivism can continue to say that nature in her unfathomable designs has mixed us of clay and flame, of brain and mind, that the two things hang indubitably together and determine each other's being, but how or why, no mortal may ever know."
It is an act of extreme hubris--as contemptible as the hubris that is rightfully mocked in those who would impose their religion upon others-- to presume to have resolved the issue of the existence of a god or the soul as a matter of certainty. And if one has not presumed to have resolved the issue as a matter of certainty, then the constant hectoring of those who have reached a different set of conclusions is not just hubristic, but also outright rude.

I do not think anyone begrudges criticism of religion per se. It is the tone, repetitiveness, and shrillness that is problematic.

This place is exceptional on substance. The only thing that makes it hard to like at times is the style, which seems to be directly related to the tone of postings. It's a shame that too often the tone makes the substance not worth it. I did not always understand that and now wish that I had. But when you step away for a while and then jump back in, the lesson is unavoidable.
posted by dios at 8:36 AM on November 24, 2008 [23 favorites]


(First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win).

This is one of the sillier cliches that's been bubbling around the Internet. Not every thing Ghandi said is true. Sometimes they just ignore you. Sometimes they ignore you and then laugh at you and then ignore you again. Sometimes they go directly to fighting you because they don't like your face, and then ignore you after the ass-kicking. Or maybe they laugh at you while they're fighting you, because those are some pretty weak moves you're throwing. Maybe they ignore you and then laugh at you and then fight you and then you win and then they laugh at you again because, that's all you wanted? You could have just asked.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:38 AM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Sometimes you're actually winning and have been for some time but your persecution complex makes you come out with tsuff like that anyway.
posted by Artw at 8:42 AM on November 24, 2008


society here on the whole has accepted as tolerable an element of obnoxious and repetitive Christian bashing

Christianity is not only ridiculous, but it is unable to withstand even the softest scrutiny. Further, it recoils at the very hint of scrutiny, and its followers cry bigotry while denying gays civil rights, cry discrimination yet refuse to hire agnostics, preach peace while cheerleading endless war.

Christianity has been a blight on humankind for 2000 years. Its time is up.
posted by plexi at 8:44 AM on November 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Dude on Internet sez Christianity's time is up; Millions left faithless just in time for Christmas.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:47 AM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


languagehat writes "And of course this very complaint attracts the god-haters, who are so exercised they make one long-ass comment and then (perhaps encouraged by all the favorites) come back and make another,"

I don't hate god(s). In fact I'm glad that if there is someone/thing out there keeping things turning that he/she/it/they don't stop cranking. It's god(s)'s more activist believers I've got a problem with. One ones who want to make gay marriage illegal; or mutilate the genitals of their children; or prevent distribution of emergency contraceptive, even to rape victims; or make birth control illegal; or prevent people from providing services on a Sunday; all because their god told (directly or indirectly via texts wrote thousands of years ago and translated at least twice) them too.

And don't even get me started on how terrifyingly scary it is to share a border with a man armed with nuclear weapons who thinks god talks to him directly telling him what to do.
posted by Mitheral at 8:51 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Plexi, Jesus loves you. Everyone else would appreciate it if you shut up.
posted by jonmc at 8:51 AM on November 24, 2008 [16 favorites]


*checks with netcraft*
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:51 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


serious, intelligent Christians

ROFL


Oh, fuck that. And I'm not even a Christian.

Further, it recoils at the very hint of scrutiny, and its followers cry bigotry while denying gays civil rights, cry discrimination yet refuse to hire agnostics, preach peace while cheerleading endless war.


I know several truckloads of Christians who are exactly NOT LIKE THIS.

As others have endlessly said (so why am I saying it? I dunno - stubborn, I guess) this kind of broad-brush-no-nuance demonizing is inaccurate, alienating (even to me, a non-christian wishy-washy agnostic polytheist), counterproductive, stupid, and not far removed from far-right wacko talk about how all homos are child molesters, and if we're not child molesters, then we're out to destroy the family and marry your women/men blah blah blah. I wish people on both sides would just cut this shit out and stop lying. If your point can't be made without making up stories about how the other side is irredeemably stupid and evil, then it's not much of a point, and I really don't want you on "my" side.
posted by rtha at 8:55 AM on November 24, 2008 [15 favorites]


You stay the heck away from my women/men, rtha! And thank you, well said.

Plexi, Jesus loves you. Everyone else would appreciate it if you shut up.

Hey show some compassion, can't you remember what it was like being thirteen?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:02 AM on November 24, 2008


Yay! Dios is back!
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:03 AM on November 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


My parents went through a phase of keeping my little brother and sister away from Pokemon and Harry Potter, weighing whether they represented something "occult." Yeah, it embarrassed me, I was a born non-believer, but they had a point, the kids go APESHIT over the fantasy worlds and simultaneously have zero interest in the crusty old bible, and it's easy to wonder what the fuck is so appealing about magic monster balls, could it be.... SATAN?

My folks aren't total morons, so they gave over to the more stable fantasy != occult stance, but not so quickly that some of the atheists in my life didn't develop a LAWL YOUR PARENTS R FUNDIES routine. Yeah, they go to church. Hilarious, ain't it. Meanwhile those of us who care about and are in dialogue with Christians try and somehow manage to both promote the best of Atheism and Christianity. I understand the need to vent frustration over the inanity, but give the sniggering a rest. Stealth atheism is way more slick.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:03 AM on November 24, 2008


Hey show some compassion, can't you remember what it was like being thirteen?

Yeah. I had acne, ADHD, and a 24-hour erection. The fine points of theism and atheism didn't occupy much space in my mind.
posted by jonmc at 9:04 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sometimes people laugh at you because you're embarrassing yourself, and even though it pretty much makes them bad people, really, they laugh because you are funny.

This site isn't really that far out a parody. Google "Donald Wildmon Mighty Mouse" and see what you get. It's funny 'cause it's true, you guys. Sorry.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:05 AM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


These sorts of threads always make me tired inside. I can't understand why some people can't see that fighting intolerance with laughter, and more intolerance, gets no one nowhere. If atheists and liberals are supposed to be so open-minded, how come their minds close up instantly at the thought of a "serious, intelligent Christian". Are atheists or agnostics, as a whole, supposed to be more intelligent just because they choose not to believe in anything that cannot be explained by science? I believe that for most people, religion is an addition, not a substraction. Should my belief in God cancel out all my knowledge? I believe in everything science has proven, I love to read and to learn and I love Metafilter posts about new discoveries and things past and future. I believe none of that compromises my ability to be a practicing catholic. Most of all, judging others is what compromises my ability to be a good catholic, so I try my hardest not to. I'm really sorry about all those radical religious people who love to judge and impose on others, but I don't think I should apologize for them, or laugh at them, because it's also not my place to judge those who judge others.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:07 AM on November 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


its followers cry bigotry while denying gays civil rights, cry discrimination yet refuse to hire agnostics, preach peace while cheerleading endless war.

I'm not remotely like this, nor is my parish. I really hate that so many Christians have acted in such a hateful manner that people feel fully justified in painting all of us with the same brush.

But we're not all like that Plexi. And we're not going away. We are going to keep going to church and keep fighting bigotry and keep working for social justice. We will keep following our path and honor those who follow others. We're going to keep doing this, not for you, but so they aren't the only representatives of our faith walking the earth.
posted by pointystick at 9:07 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yay! Dios is back!
posted by By The Grace of God


He tried to get out, but they keep pulling him pack in!!!!!

Also: epony-comment-sterical.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 9:12 AM on November 24, 2008


I wonder, if (as some recent research suggests), belief in God comes from genetic predisposition, where that would leave the demagoguery regarding religion in general, and Christianity in specific.
posted by klangklangston at 9:17 AM on November 24, 2008


"It's god(s)'s more activist believers I've got a problem with. One ones who want to make gay marriage illegal; or mutilate the genitals of their children; or prevent distribution of emergency contraceptive, even to rape victims; or make birth control illegal; or prevent people from providing services on a Sunday; all because their god told (directly or indirectly via texts wrote thousands of years ago and translated at least twice) them too."

It's not the band I hate, it's their fans.
posted by klangklangston at 9:17 AM on November 24, 2008




Suggest you channel your rage into mockery of atheism/agnosticism/(whatever you view as causing the problem). I'm sure you'll find enough material to work with, "Brights" and all.

This idea that no one is allowed to mock your majority worldview*, if it is acceptable to mock a Time Cube, absurd pagan, furry, Nazi, or whatever other worldview, is just an application of group power by the "normal" against the "other." In analogous contexts we hear of "white privilege."

So, there you go. Either don't make fun of anything anyone believes, or enjoy exercising this bit of iniquitously distributed power.

*(in fact, by the claims of most here, in this case not even "your worldview" but "a worldview I don't hold or like but which is held by some who can claim membership in my majority group")

tl;dr: Your epistemological shit stinks too.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:29 AM on November 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


If your attack on religion isn't as wise and clever as Voltaire's then shut up, it's been done better.
posted by RussHy at 9:30 AM on November 24, 2008


It's not the band I hate, it's their fans.

Three cans of water convert me.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:31 AM on November 24, 2008


Did you just equate religious belief with white privilege? Oh geez, my head hurts.
posted by naju at 9:39 AM on November 24, 2008


Not religious belief, but the use of religious belief as a way to claim special privileges such as an exemption from mockery.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:43 AM on November 24, 2008


its followers cry bigotry while denying gays civil rights

The sentiment is appreciated but, seriously, stop it.

There's a not-insignificant portion of gay-positive christians. These people never cease to warm my heart. People like this lovely old dude. People like former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who championed same-sex marriage in Canada "despite" being a devout catholic in his private life.

There are anti-gay people of all stripes and creeds. There are non-religious anti-gay people, who act out of some sort of gut revulsion or sense that homosexuality is not "natural" without bringing a shred of theistic jargon into the matter. If the Vikings had dominated the world and resisted conversion, we'd probably be dealing with people referring to the life of Odin to support their stance against homosexuality.

Lashing out against christianity in this regard is about as effective as waving a handful of pamphlets in Tiananmen Square: not very.
posted by CKmtl at 9:43 AM on November 24, 2008


This is one of the sillier cliches that's been bubbling around the Internet.
This was over ten years ago. Internet cliche's did not exist back then around here.
Not every thing Ghandi said is true.
It has nothing to do with whether Ghandi was right or not. The problem is that even if every truth went through these stages, it does not mean that you can reverse that and say that everything that is ignored becomes truth. Nevertheless, people are ridiculed often do feel that it must mean that they are on to something, so if you ridicule these people, you in fact enable their beliefs.

Ridiculing groups of people does not work if you really want them to change. Groups of people who are ridiculed will usually get even more of an us-against-them feeling, which is counter productive. But I get the impression that the lame parody defenders do not actually want fundamentalists to change, they just want to laugh and feel good about themselves.

I too cannot believe people actually wondered whether this was real and I also wonder why people who are unable to distinguish fake from real when it is so obvious somehow criticize other people for the same thing
posted by davar at 9:44 AM on November 24, 2008


So, there you go. Either don't make fun of anything anyone believes, or enjoy exercising this bit of iniquitously distributed power.

There is mocking and there is "mocking via sneering posts on MetaFilter." I'm pretty sure this post is generally talking about the latter, though arguments about the latter can include arguments against the former.

Suggest you channel your rage into

Raging against most slowly-transformed things generally leads to more disruption in the rager's life [via stress, heart attacks, lowered opportunity for good sex and RSI] than the ragee's. Again, it's a good idea to think about long and short term goal states. My long term goal includes not having any rage that needs to be channeled anywhere.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:44 AM on November 24, 2008


Human beings are social animals and that's a good thing in many ways, but squabbles like this reinforce my theory that group affiliations (whether centered on a reliqious belief, and ideology, or merely some wisp of a fashion subculture (and I should add, in any direction)) seems to bring out the asshole in everybody. It's like there can't be 'us' without a 'them.' And the 'us' will gladly get asholic about who's worthy to become 'us,' who's the most hardcore 'us,' whatever. What the hell ever happened to standing alone, doing your own thing and letting thers do the same?

People in just about any subgroup are generally good people individually, but get people in groups and something weird takes over.
posted by jonmc at 9:46 AM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's really sad that there seems to be this widening gulf between those who are religious and those who aren't, especially when there can be agreement on a vast number of things other than religion. I know plenty of Catholics who have toiled for social justice, demonstrated against war, and fed the hungry. Who here is against feeding the hungry or sheltering the homeless? I don't think it makes any difference to the homeless person whether he's getting his lunch from someone who believes in a "superhero in the sky" or from an atheist. It's lunch all the same.

The wantonly intolerant Fred Phelps type of Christians are a small minority - I'd go as far to suggest that they're as small of a minority of Christians as suicide bombers are of Muslims. (Remember, Muslim countries aren't too fond of homosexuality either.) Yet LOLMUSLIM posts wouldn't stand, nor should they. (I know too little about Judaism to say anything much about it, but my guess is that there's a subset of extremely intolerant folks there too.)

I don't have a specific dog in this race - I'm neither theist nor atheist. I just think that us vs. them mentalities never lead anywhere productive. If you're beaten by a bully in the schoolyard, it's pretty ineffective to then taunt him. You may never be friends, but he's more easily disarmed by calm detachment than passive-aggressive jeering.
posted by desjardins at 9:48 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


"While moderation in religion may seem a reasonable position to stake out, in light of all that we have (and have not) learned about the universe, it offers no bulwark against religious extremism and religious violence. From the perspective of those seeking to live by the letter of the texts, the religious moderate is nothing more than a failed fundamentalist. He is, in all likelihood, going to wind up in hell with the rest of the unbelievers. The problem that religious moderation poses for all of us is that it does not permit anything very critical to be said about religious literalism. We cannot say that fundamentalists are crazy, because they are merely practicing their freedom of belief; we cannot even say that they are mistaken in religious terms, because their knowledge of scripture is generally unrivaled. All we can say, as religious moderates, is that we don’t like the personal and social costs that a full embrace of scripture imposes on us. This is not a new form of faith, or even a new species of scriptural exegesis; it is simply a capitulation to a variety of all-too-human interests that have nothing, in principle, to do with God. Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance—and it has no bona fides, in religious terms, to put it on a par with fundamentalism. The texts themselves are unequivocal: they are perfect in all their parts. By their light, religious moderation appears to be nothing more than an unwillingness to fully submit to God’s law. By failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally. Unless the core dogmas of faith are called into question—i.e., that we know there is a God, and that we know what he wants from us—religious moderation will do nothing to lead us out of the wilderness."

-Sam Harris, from The End of Faith
posted by plexi at 9:49 AM on November 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


But I get the impression that the lame parody defenders do not actually want fundamentalists to change

This sort of mockery (I agree in fact, that this specific example is poorly executed, but that doesn't matter much) has, I think, as a useful goal, not the changing of those already fundamentalist, but a shift in social acceptability such that most random idiots, on being preached fundamentalist religion, would no more accept it as a source of unimpeachable truth than they would Time Cube.

Similarly it has become in recent decades much, much, less socially acceptable to be a blatant racist or misogynist. This has not eradicated either of these problems, but I believe it has helped.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:53 AM on November 24, 2008


So, there you go. Either don't make fun of anything anyone believes, or enjoy exercising this bit of iniquitously distributed power.

Who are you, the fucking buddha?

As individuals, if you grant we are such, we don't have to mock people or engage in unequal power structures to seek truth, and we hurt nobody by sharing our impressions, either. Discourse isn't over.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:56 AM on November 24, 2008


Google "Donald Wildmon Mighty Mouse" and see what you get. It's funny 'cause it's true, you guys.

Google "Jerry Falwell + Tinky Winky," "James Dobson + SpongeBob" and see what you get. It's funny 'cause it's true, you guys.
posted by ericb at 9:59 AM on November 24, 2008


jessamyn/dios 2012!
posted by Mister_A at 10:02 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I feel like I'm drowning in false dichotomies. It seems, for some, even discussions of Christianity have to be black-and-white.
posted by defenestration at 10:03 AM on November 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Because we have reached the place where the Judeo-Christian tradition can be equated with Time Cube or FSM without such a comparison being treated as unacceptable naked bigotry

Unenlightened rhetoric like the above example lights a giant marquee around their proponents' stark ignorance of what bigotry in our society entails — all the way from violence in the heartland, with a pack of gay bashers holding tire irons, to organized religions working hand and hand with government to do violence against the rights of minorities, to legislators and activist Supreme Court justices who perpetrate the same violence to promote their religious agenda.

But that's an aside to the larger issue, where said commentary should be laughed out of the country. Such willfully ignorant and shrill thinking deserves the mockery and derision it has earned, and whether that comes from "Christians Against Cartoons" or anywhere else, our society needs these outlets, not only to reflect on their idiocy, but to survive the Age of Superstition under which these irrational individuals seem hellbent on keeping the rest of us buried.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:08 AM on November 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance—and it has no bona fides, in religious terms, to put it on a par with fundamentalism.

That's just wrong. The suggestion that a person who prefers a non-literal or allegorical interpretation of religious texts is less knowledgeable or less religious somehow than a person who looks at the texts as literal truth is just flat-out wrong.

I, a non-catholic, went to a Catholic high school. We were taught in religion class that the important thing in many bible stories wasn't whether something happened exactly in the way described– the meaning and moral/ethical implications of the story were crucial. Of course, Catholics believe that Jesus Christ was literally the Son of God, but the church no longer holds that every event in the bible is the exact literal truth. Has Sam Harris not heard of Catholicism?

Also, St. Paul points out that an Old Testament story is an allegory in his epistle to the Galatians (which is in the New Testament).
posted by Mister_A at 10:16 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


The point I am trying to make is that, in order to fight the bigotry and ignorance of some members of the "Christian" right, we should arm ourselves with knowledge of the central tenets of their professed religion, in order to point out the error of their ways as a deviation from the path of Christianity. See?
posted by Mister_A at 10:19 AM on November 24, 2008


Who are you, the fucking buddha?

Do I have the Buddha nature? Good question. I think you didn't quite get me. I wasn't claiming mocking people involves unequal power structures. The use of unequal power structures is in this attempt at censuring mockery of the majority worldview. If the Time Cube guy came out making moral claims against everyone who made fun of Time Cube, he'd be laughed off the stage. Maybe not quite as much here, but in society at large? There's no way he could pull off this "you are bad and should feel bad for making fun of my beliefs" that works for Christianity.

My long term goal includes not having any rage that needs to be channeled anywhere.

I think I'm using a lesser definition of rage, perhaps influenced by the common usage these days in phrases like "X makes me rage." For me to stop feeling that towards societal problems would require the implementation of Utopia, my complete hermitage, or me giving up and just going along with the general misanthropy.

I was actually talking about goals and plans last night. Believe you me, I endeavor that everything I do serve as many goals as I can manage to cram in there. I have plans and plans within plans and plans to make plans. Just in my arguing on the internet this afternoon I'm conscious of three different goals.

(Right now my goal is to go take a hike, so anyone hoping for further debate will have to wait until later for more responses.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:28 AM on November 24, 2008


By the way, can we draw a distinction between the CAC post and the overall LOLXIAN debate?

Is posting something that satirizes Christianity or any other sacred belief (system) acceptable? I say hell-fucking-yes.

Is this a particular strong piece of satire? The majority of the people in this thread say no, it seems.

These are seperate issues.
posted by defenestration at 10:31 AM on November 24, 2008


Sam Harris has some interesting stuff to say, although what he says about religious moderates doesn't describe my experiences or actions.
I feel like I'm drowning in false dichotomies. It seems, for some, even discussions of Christianity have to be black-and-white.

I think, sadly, that defenestration may be right.
posted by pointystick at 10:35 AM on November 24, 2008


desjardins writes "Who here is against feeding the hungry or sheltering the homeless?"

While I doubt many here are or would admit that they are if they were make no mistake that _lots_ of people are against both of these activities if they happen anywhere near themselves or their homes. People have even been arrested.
posted by Mitheral at 10:37 AM on November 24, 2008


Oh? Sam Harris doesn't support his analysis with anecdotes, you say? Well thank god for that.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:48 AM on November 24, 2008


The always excellent This American Life new podcast is up. It's all wonderful, but the final story deals partly with just the topic of the different kinds of christianity. If you have never listened to it before, I encourage you to start now. If you do listen to it, you'll here this episode (Music Lessons) soon. Search iTunes for This American Life, or go here.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:53 AM on November 24, 2008


Brocktoon, I apologize. I didn't express that well. I guess to me he sounds like someone else who says, "Xians believe X and do Y" and I think, gee, but I don't think X and do Y.

Which is just frustrating. Does it mean that he's wrong or that I'm not a religious moderate? Or something else? Of course he is entitled to his opinions and insights, and even to generalize but I do hope you understand the frustration. My only point was to say that some of us go to church and we're not like that and it hurts to be told that one is intolerant or supports intolerance. (And I'm not whining and saying ooh, the bad man hurt my wittle feelings, I get that I am responsible for my own emotions.)

I'm probably not saying this well at all, or getting across my belief that people of faith can be part of helping solve problems and not just making them, but that's all I wanted to say, really.
posted by pointystick at 10:59 AM on November 24, 2008


Jeez, I go to lunch and when I get back this thread just went bananas.

It's weird, the OP made a point about MeFi descending into a religious cluster-fuck, and by pointing it out it happened anyway. It's like you bring in the G-word and suddenly everyone thinks they have all the answers.

Anyway, yeah, today was pretty meh. grapefruitmoon, I feel bad your thread kind of blew up.

I'm going to go look at pictures of baby animals to cheer myself up...
posted by hellojed at 11:00 AM on November 24, 2008


grapefruitmoon, I feel bad your thread kind of blew up.

Pff. Even without stoking a LOLXTIAN fight that wasn't previously there it was one of those pissy judgemental moans about how other people enjoy stuff that they shouldn't like. They never go well.
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on November 24, 2008


They never go well.

I know, it's like MetaTalk is MeFi's unnoffical Thunderdome.
posted by hellojed at 11:09 AM on November 24, 2008


it was one of those pissy judgemental moans about how other people enjoy stuff that they shouldn't like.

No it wasn't. There is plenty of pissy judgemental moaning going on in MetaTalk but I don't really see this post as part of it. It's okay to come to MeTa and say "I don't really see these sorts of threads as good for the site" and okay to say "This makes us look bad" It's less productive to call out individuals or basically go the "you're all a bunch of assholes" route and I don't think grapefruitmoon did that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:11 AM on November 24, 2008


I know, it's like MetaTalk is MeFi's unnoffical Thunderdome.

I think we should make it the official Thunderdome. Also, the music from the Kirk vs Spock death battle should play every time someone opens a MetaTalk thread.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:20 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ahh, where they fight to the death (almost) with lirpas? That is awesome. Thanks for giving me a chance to say "lirpa" again
posted by Mister_A at 11:28 AM on November 24, 2008


It's fascinating that people who oppress are adopting the language of those they oppress, without consideration for the severity of the offense.

Linguists will write numerous books about how language and meaning have been destroyed these last eight years. Mission Accomplished. No Child Left Behind. PATRIOT Act. Gays Are Bigots.

Historians will write numerous sequels about how those who abuse words this way tried repeatedly to get away with it. Some sequels will note how little resistance there was to these ideas.

For someone to call this work of satire bigotry seems to require a severe divorce from reality. One must ask how far society must have progressed, that so few have so little direct experience of bigotry for others to challenge them on claiming violent, tyrannical treatment by a web site.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:29 AM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


The site that spurred this discussion is pretty meh, fwiw. I am all for mocking the sanctimonious, but this site is predictable and unfunny.
posted by Mister_A at 11:39 AM on November 24, 2008


I'm agnostic on whether this was a good post for Metafilter, and I think I sympathize with some of what you are suggesting, grapefruitmoon, but I have to disagree on a couple of points:

1) It took me a minute to figure out whether the site was a parody/satire or not, because it is enough like some other "for real" Christian sites that it wasn't immediately obvious, so the "OH WOW, THEY MADE THIS FARCE ABOUT HOW CARTOONS ARE EVIL AND THEY'RE SO WEIRD THAT IT'S LIKE, IMPOSSIBLE TO DISTINGUISH FROM REALITY!" didn't strike me as that strange... As far as I know, the Falwell thing with Teletubbies' Tinky Winky, and the James Dobson Spongebob problem were bizarre but true incidents, among others, and the CAP Alert site linked in comments on the post is certainly a real site, and has real content that sometimes seems almost indistinguishable from satire. In a note on "The Lion King" review, for example, there's this:

Sidebar Note: To address the many accusations we have received that the film presents many hints of the homosexual nature, only one was incorporated into the scoring distribution: the matter of Timon speaking to dressing in drag. But if attention to the posterior is an indication of an undercurrent of a homosexual nature, there were eleven instances noted of special attention given to the posterior of animals. These observations were not incorporated into the scoring since the matter is quite gossamer but had they been incorporated, the final score would have been reduced to 59 with a Sexual Immorality (S) investigation area score of 52.

This is for real. So I don't find it incredible that people would make comments indicating that it's not always easy to tell the real thing from the joke sites.

and

2) I don't think that making fun of something like the above, for example, would constitute making fun of all Christians just as I don't think that characterizing some internet behavior using the cliche of a pimply teenaged 4/chan "anonymous" posting from his parents' basement typifies all internet users. I didn't find it a LOLXIANS site, because most Christians aren't the sort of people to worry (again, for a real-life, true example) about how many times the posterior of animals shows up in "The Lion King", so they can decide if this indicates an undercurrent of a homosexual nature.

Finally, I really think that stuff needs to be laughed at. Maybe not via the particular site under question (I don't care so much about it) on metafilter, but generally, and often - and this doesn't diminish the love and respect I have for all my lovely, sane, intelligent, caring Christian friends and family by the tiniest amount - because Christians are an extremely diverse group. I disagree that laughing at the silliness of some Christian groups constitutes making fun of all Christians.
posted by taz at 11:47 AM on November 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


Exactly, taz. Thank you... I was at class all day so I wasn't able to respond fully, but you pretty much nailed it.
posted by defenestration at 12:55 PM on November 24, 2008


It's always interesting to watch who falls where when we get atheist-Christian wars in threads like this. Sides are taken and people begin hissing and spitting.

And then go one thread up we're all on the same page again in awe of The Straightener's awesomeness. You can get the same water from different fountains, apparently.
posted by cimbrog at 12:55 PM on November 24, 2008




... I really think that stuff needs to be laughed at.
True about all things. As long as you don't confuse laughing at with mocking.
posted by dg at 1:12 PM on November 24, 2008


* hisses, then spits *
posted by everichon at 1:34 PM on November 24, 2008


You PC buggers will pry mockery out of my cold, dead hands.
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on November 24, 2008


"Oh? Sam Harris doesn't support his analysis with anecdotes, you say? Well thank god for that."

No, he supports his points with false dichotomies, a stunning lack of historical perspective, and a fair dollop of invective that preaches, as it were, to the choir of shallow triumphalist atheists, knowing that he doesn't have to stand any real scrutiny from his ideological opponents because they'll be so appalled at the lack of rigor and farcical conclusions that they'll quickly decide there's no point in teaching French to this particular pig.

That tolerance and moderation are harmful is a hilarious thesis when you realize that it is only by the grace of moderation and tolerance that he's been allowed to make it. Were it not for Locke, Harris could neither conceive nor produce his arguments.

Now stop with the LOLXTIANS straw-men (seriously, you didn't realize it was a parody? Then, regardless of the subject matter, you're tone-deaf to presentation), and let Jessamyn get back to her real job—playing Scrabble on Facebook.
posted by klangklangston at 1:47 PM on November 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Somebody is sitting on a Q and knows where they plan to use it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:00 PM on November 24, 2008


I disagree that laughing at the silliness of some Christian groups constitutes making fun of all Christians.

In theory, no. At MeFi, they almost always go together.

Also, what Mr. K. Langkl Anston said.
posted by languagehat at 2:02 PM on November 24, 2008


I just played SLOTTED for 71. Your turn.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:03 PM on November 24, 2008


Er, make that Angston. Man, I hate screwing up my own jokes, especially when they were barely worth making in the first place.
posted by languagehat at 2:04 PM on November 24, 2008


"Make fun of them, because standing there and waiting for them to leave us alone hasn't been all that effective. "

And you honestly think that making fun of christians will be effective?


Such tactics are more effective than you might think -- as noted in the link, the book Freakonomics has more detail, but this page has a decent summary.
posted by davejay at 2:16 PM on November 24, 2008


No, he supports his points with false dichotomies, a stunning lack of historical perspective, and a fair dollop of invective that preaches, as it were, to the choir of shallow triumphalist atheists, knowing that he doesn't have to stand any real scrutiny from his ideological opponents because they'll be so appalled at the lack of rigor and farcical conclusions that they'll quickly decide there's no point in teaching French to this particular pig.

Examples please. Also, it makes perfect sense that you are waving around a handgun in your profile pic.
posted by plexi at 2:17 PM on November 24, 2008


not saying Christians are like the KKK, by the way; just that if the tactics work against one very powerful organization, they might work against another.
posted by davejay at 2:17 PM on November 24, 2008


Viz is too a word. It's an abbreviation of videlicet.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:20 PM on November 24, 2008


Also, it makes perfect sense that you are waving around a handgun in your profile pic.

Oh! That reminds me! Time to update the profile pic.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:24 PM on November 24, 2008


Also, it makes perfect sense that you are waving around a handgun in your profile pic.

I understand that your upset. Cheap shots are your territory.
posted by jonmc at 2:25 PM on November 24, 2008


Wah! How come klangklangston gets a .gif? My profile pic has something it wants to wave around, too!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:35 PM on November 24, 2008


Well, LOLPAGANS and LOLMORMONS are OK, so why is LOLXIANS not OK?

It's not as though American Christians are exactly an oppressed minority.


No, I wouldn't be ok with LOLPAGANS *or* LOLMORMONS. And it's the attitude that "American Christians run the place, so we *should* make fun of them" that bugs me. It's totally counterproductive. No one should be oppressed for religious beliefs, even if they're NOT the minority.

But if your case is that we should steer clear of sites that mock the intolerant because it might offend people who share their historic religion, but not their intolerance?

No, I don't want to avoid sites that mock the intolerant for fear of offending them - I want to avoid posting them because it does nothing to actually END the intolerance and contributes to a downward spinning hate spiral where the non-Christians demonize the Christians for being intolerant and the Christians go and use that as ammo to say that the rest of us are a bunch of G-dless Satan worshiping heathens who want to teach sex-ed to kindergarteners. Yeah, they say that and it's all weird and wrong, but we're NOT HELPING by poking back "Oh yeah, well you guys can't laugh at cartoons!" Righteous rage is not best conquered by self-righteous rage. If you want tolerance, which I do, then the only way to get it is to practice it yourself.

I don't see religious tolerance by Christians of other religions standing much of a chance without religious tolerance FOR Christians happening as well. Even here in the echo chamber.

That sounds nice, grapefruitmoon, but tolerance is something that tends to work with others who are tolerant, not the intolerant. It's like having good manners — they're wonderful when someone else is also polite, but when you're dealing with the rude, they can turn into a liability wherein your tolerance is simply taken advantage of. Atheists have had, well, centuries of patient, respectful waiting without a whole lot of luck at it. And you'd like to encourage self-censorship of perhaps one of the few tools available?

I'm all for dialog and debate and yeah, honest dialog CAN be funny, but I'm not for LOLXIANS poking people with a stick type behavior. If the end result should be tolerance, how are you going to get that with endless mocking? I'm not saying that anyone should lie down and let their beliefs be run over, don't get me wrong. I believe that religious freedom and religious expression are worth fighting for, but I also believe that flat-out mocking is not the way to get it. I'm not trying to encourage self-censorship of anyone from starting a dialog about weird shit that Christians get up to, I'm trying to encourage people to be smart about it and not just post any random farce that they come across - just because it might be funny for a minute doesn't mean it's a *good post.*
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:42 PM on November 24, 2008


I'm not trying to encourage self-censorship of anyone from starting a dialog about weird shit that Christians get up to

um, yes you are.
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on November 24, 2008


No one should be oppressed for religious beliefs

You clearly do not know what the word 'oppression' means, when you use it in the above context.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:59 PM on November 24, 2008


When I was a christian (over ten years ago now) people laughing at us made us feel stronger. It meant we were at the second stage of winning (First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win).

Yes, definitely. I grew up with a father who is a Jew For Jesus (literally) type of über-conservative fundamentalist Christian, and this is EXACTLY how he and his like-minded friends feel.

I think the point of this post is that there should not be FPPs linking to sites that mock the extreme right ring of Christianity,

No, the point of the post was that I don't think that the anti-G-d vibe, as mentioned by languagehat, really does the MetaFilter community any service and this is most obviously exemplified by the reaction to LOLXIAN posts. I'm all for humor, I'm all for mocking people to make a point - or hell, even just to be funny - but I'm *not* for people using said mockery as an excuse to trot out the "Well, all Christians believe G-d is the superhero in the sky, har har" kind of intolerance when it is the intolerance of Christians towards the rest of the world that bothers them in the first place.

I'm saying that I think single-link posts to outrageous crap just for the purpose of mocking any religious group is pretty lame for MetaFilter as a community. It just so happens that most of the time that religious group is the Christians, but as mentioned, LOLMORMONS would bother me just as much even though, yes, I think that Eddie Izzard said it best - the Mormons really are from Mars. Maybe if it was a truly excellent post, but this, this was not excellent.

While I think there are creepy bad people doing terrible things in the name of Christianity (and many other religions and causes), I think hate-the-haters campaigns against them don't solve the problem, they just give us something do do with the bad way we feel about what is happening. We need better tact

Yes, as usual jessamyn said it best. Also, There is mocking and there is "mocking via sneering posts on MetaFilter." I'm pretty sure this post is generally talking about the latter, Yes, when I made the post it was with the latter in mind.

I disagree that laughing at the silliness of some Christian groups constitutes making fun of all Christians.

In theory, no. At MeFi, they almost always go together.


Yes, which is exactly what bothers me.

Also: For the record, I am neither a Christian or an atheist. There are other possibilities.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:04 PM on November 24, 2008


Sorry for all of the lengthy replies: I felt since I was the OP and a lot of the comments were made in my general direction, that I was obligated to respond, and well, I woke up with a power outage this morning and then I was at work all day, so the thread had plenty of time to ferment.

One thing in THIS thread that is also bothering me: Not all Christians are gay-bashers, and also, not everyone who has committed a hate crime against homosexuals in the US is a Christian. It's a pretty weak strawman to equate Christianity with homophobia. Yes, it's been true, but Islam and Judaism also have strong prohibitions about homosexuality, but if you were to say one word about a homophobic Jew on MetaFilter, you'd be drawn and quartered before you could even blink. That's because people can recognize that the two are not interchangable quantities. The same is true with Christianity. Yes, some Christians have intolerant beliefs, and because in this country they are the majority with regards to religious affiliation, we hear about it an awful lot. But that does NOT mean that it is fair to either Christians OR gay bashers to say that one is necessarily the other. Give the atheist/Islamic/Jewish/Hindu gay bashers a break. Christianity does not have a monopoly on intolerance.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:09 PM on November 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not trying to encourage self-censorship of anyone from starting a dialog about weird shit that Christians get up to

um, yes you are.


I don't consider pointing-and-laughing in a mocking tone and actual discussion (which is happening here, but I certainly couldn't see it in the other thread) to be the same thing. I think self-censorship of farcical stuff that serves no greater purpose but to be an LOLXIAN or LOLPAGAN or LOLMUSLIM snark fest is fairly reasonable to keep the front page from filling up with crap.

You clearly do not know what the word 'oppression' means, when you use it in the above context.

Um, what? I was responding to someone who said that it was ok to mock Christians because they're not oppressed, and all I was saying is that no one SHOULD be oppressed and any perceived lack of oppression shouldn't be an invitation to mockery.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:15 PM on November 24, 2008


Examples please.

Okay. From the Sam Harris bit plexi posted above:

The texts themselves are unequivocal: they are perfect in all their parts.

To Sam, I would say: cite please. And also, I would like to know what he means by "unequivocal" and "perfect", since the Bible is jam-packed with contradictory statements, allegories that can certainly be - and have been, down through the centuries - interpreted in different ways, etc. Harris seems to lump all "Fundamentalists" into one pot, and in my not-every-extensive-and-long-ago acquaintance with some fundamentalists, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that if you ask three fundamentalists a Scripture-related question, you're likely to get five answers.

San Harris's take on moderates certainly isn't gospel. Don't take him that way.
posted by rtha at 3:24 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I had a Q and a place to play it, that she screwed up… Still, 46 points for quiet…

"Examples please. Also, it makes perfect sense that you are waving around a handgun in your profile pic."

I'm not waving it around. It's a cunningly-constructed optical illusion, where the gun only points at idiots. Have a smart friend check and tell you.

But let's just go through that paragraph you quoted—

""While moderation in religion may seem a reasonable position to stake out, in light of all that we have (and have not) learned about the universe, it offers no bulwark against religious extremism and religious violence."

Wrong. Moderation in religion does not offer an impenetrable bulwark, but clearly rather obviously does offer an alternate view of faith that does not require extremism.

From the perspective of those seeking to live by the letter of the texts, the religious moderate is nothing more than a failed fundamentalist.

Depends on the religion. Further, not all fundamentalism requires literalism, and not all literalists are fundamentalists. Not even all conservatives are fundamentalists or literalists. When someone purporting to declaim on religion cannot master the basic terminology, I'm inclined to think that their observations will be shallow and glib.

He is, in all likelihood, going to wind up in hell with the rest of the unbelievers."

Well, except for fundamentalists of religions where there is no hell. Ah, but we're only talking about a narrow range of religions, and discarding anything that might make the issue complex, right?

The problem that religious moderation poses for all of us is that it does not permit anything very critical to be said about religious literalism.

THIS IS BULLSHIT. Throughout Judeo-Christian-Muslim history, there has been an ongoing debate over literalism (which, again, Harris conflates with fundamentalism), with MOUNTAINS of criticism regarding literalist interpretations. Even works of theology that assume a fundamentalist or a literalist interpretation often critique the underlying assumptions. See: Fear And Trembling by Kierkegaard for one such piece. But that there's a whole discipline of hermeneutics that has not only assumed that literalism is false, but that explicitly critiques the assumptions underpining literalism, and this discipline has been ongoing, oh, since about the New Testament's compilation.

"We cannot say that fundamentalists are crazy, because they are merely practicing their freedom of belief"

That we cannot say they are crazy does not mean that we must agree with them.

"we cannot even say that they are mistaken in religious terms, because their knowledge of scripture is generally unrivaled."

Bullshit retarded cop-out. Moderates can and do say that they have improperly interpreted scripture, and many theologians have a much more extensive understanding of the texts in question. In fact, most fundamentalists or literalists (since Harris is again being sloppy) have a fairly limited and modular understanding of their texts.

"All we can say, as religious moderates, is that we don’t like the personal and social costs that a full embrace of scripture imposes on us. "

Well, unless you say they're wrong in their interpretation. Remember how I said "false dichotomy"? That's one there, and if you didn't see it the first time, it's because you're either an idiot or you enjoy having your views pandered to.

This is not a new form of faith, or even a new species of scriptural exegesis; it is simply a capitulation to a variety of all-too-human interests that have nothing, in principle, to do with God."

No, it's not new. It's very old. Over 2000 years old. And the discussion of how to live with God, especially the acknowledgment that everyone is imperfect, is one that is at the core of all holy books. Which Harris would know if he researched first and blathered second.

Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance—and it has no bona fides, in religious terms, to put it on a par with fundamentalism."

Bullshit again. Not only does modernism have a longer history than literalism and fundamentalism (the very question of literalism would have been absurd to the great majority of historical believers).

The texts themselves are unequivocal: they are perfect in all their parts.

Really? How come every high school atheist can cite the, say, contradiction in chronology regarding the creation of man and the naming of the animals from the first chapter of Genesis?

By their light, religious moderation appears to be nothing more than an unwillingness to fully submit to God’s law.

Yes, and from the light of neo-Nazis, diversity and integration appear to be nothing more than an unwillingness to exterminate the lesser races. Obviously, the problem is diversity and integration.

By failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally.

Which is to say, not at all, really. I'll ignore the bullshit about tolerance since it's clear that Harris has no idea where it came from, only that it's somehow bad now.

Unless the core dogmas of faith are called into question—i.e., that we know there is a God, and that we know what he wants from us—religious moderation will do nothing to lead us out of the wilderness.""

Well, except providing a well-established and mainstream alternative to the blinkered view that fundamentalism and literalism offer. And fuck, does he not realize that moderates are the mainstream and that fundamentalism and literalism are a deviation from that? It's somehow the job of moderates to "lead us out of the wilderness"? Well, fucko, they're the ones that aren't heading into the wilderness to begin with.

Not only that, the idea that we know what God wants from us is questioned all the goddamned time within mainline churches. Or, to be more specific, that we can apprehend what God wants from us. And regarding the fundamental theological questions, religious moderation is the absolute best option for leading us out of the wilderness, based purely on the volume and quality of the scholarship.
posted by klangklangston at 3:27 PM on November 24, 2008 [10 favorites]


To shorten grapefruitmoon's argument: being oppressed is not a liscense to act like an asshole.
posted by jonmc at 3:28 PM on November 24, 2008


To shorten grapefruitmoon's argument: being oppressed is not a liscense to act like an asshole.

Yes, EXACTLY what I was trying to say.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:36 PM on November 24, 2008


plexi: Examples please.

Well, I'll bite. In the Harris quote above, the major false dichotomy he sets up is summed up in this sentence:

The texts themselves are unequivocal: they are perfect in all their parts.

The dichotomy he sets up is thus: Either the texts are perfect or the texts are untrue. One common third way moderate Christians take is that the Bible is true in teachings of faith, though it may not be true in teachings of science. (One explanation from a church may be found here.) A fourth way taken by some, such as some Unitarian Universalists and Quakers, rely on Christian teachings on behavior and morality to greater or lesser extents while making no claims as to inerrancy.

Without this dichotomy, the argument falls apart--because they have staked out theological positions besides the two he picks, they can indeed state "that they are mistaken in religious terms". They can be a "bulwark against religious extremism and religious violence" without compromising their principles, as their doctrines are based on neither of his extremes. In fact, there are plenty of Christians who oppose extremism and violence: left-leaning evangelists, such as Jim Wallis, fight strongly against poverty. The Unitarian Universalists actively support gay and lesbian congregants.

How the fundamentalists in his caricature feel is ultimately immaterial; there is no requirement to go to one pole or the other as the logical consequence of their beliefs, as they've based on a set of parameters Harris has not even considered.

(On preview: well, it looks like other people got there first.)
posted by Upton O'Good at 3:38 PM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


(It's always good to have company, Upton, in the bulwark against stupid and inaccurate statements. Have a seat. Want a cookie?)
posted by rtha at 3:45 PM on November 24, 2008


What kind are you offering him. I have some Mint Oreo Double Stuf. Those are kick ass. You ever remove the bottom cookie from two Double Stufs and put them together to make a QuadStuf? It's like the sugar equivalent of heroin, yo.
posted by jonmc at 3:52 PM on November 24, 2008


I don't believe in cookies. I'm a doughist.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:54 PM on November 24, 2008


I only have regular Oreos here. There are some Mint Milanos, though.

That's okay, cortex. Cookies believe in you!
posted by rtha at 3:56 PM on November 24, 2008


Your just afraid of our sweet creamy centers, you GlutenoFascist!
posted by jonmc at 3:59 PM on November 24, 2008


I know, it's like MetaTalk is MeFi's unnoffical Thunderdome.


Can't we get beyond Thunderdo . . . aw screw it.
posted by nola at 4:00 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mint Milano? That's good enough for me!
posted by Upton O'Good at 4:01 PM on November 24, 2008


rtha, I worked in the Pepperidge Farm factory* for three summers when I was in my late teens/early twenties. A pretty large amount of the older guys working there were missing fingers from accidents. Pepperidge Fahhm dismembahhs!

*sadly, not the cookie one. I was in the bread and rolls plant. My first day, I worked in the crouton room (you heard me). It was cleaning day, and I'm a skinny bastard so they had me crawl under the oven on my belly with a compressed-air hose to blow all the dust and detritus out. I looked like a damned coal miner when I emerged. Marvelous perspective builder, that.
posted by jonmc at 4:02 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I believe in cookies! I'm getting behind the religion with an honest-to-goodness monster in charge, make no mistake. For the monster sayeth "C is for cookie," and it's good enough for me.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:03 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I feel like something very important is being overlooked in all this

Wah! How come klangklangston gets a .gif? My profile pic has something it wants to wave around, too!

Can we please address this thank you
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:03 PM on November 24, 2008


I have some Mint Oreo Double Stuf. Those are kick ass.

BURN HERETIC BURN!!!
posted by nola at 4:04 PM on November 24, 2008


Burnt Heretic tends to taste gamey. I'll stick with the cookies.
posted by jonmc at 4:05 PM on November 24, 2008


Some other thoughts on atheism and mockery.
posted by never used baby shoes at 4:07 PM on November 24, 2008


If you dip Burnt Heretic in chocolate and then roll him in crushed oreos, that covers up the gameyness pretty well.

*hands Upton O'Good a plate of milanos*

I chuckled when I read "crouton room." Don't know why.
posted by rtha at 4:08 PM on November 24, 2008


Also, I'm listening to a metal band from Belfast's cover of a Sham 69 song. It's pretty fucking good.

*slams around*
posted by jonmc at 4:09 PM on November 24, 2008


Seriously, though, I kinda don't understand this. We've addressed what this is a parody of, regardless of whether it's actually a successful parody in the sense of being funny. It satirizes a particular group of Christians who really do exist in real life. I think all of us can agree that people who think Spongebob will make you gay (for example) are ridiculous, and they are out there, amirite? So what is wrong with making fun of them? They're deserving of mockery. But they're not deserving of mockery because they're Christians; they're deserving of mockery because they're morons. And if they can hide their idiocy behind an untouchable cloak of these-are-my-beliefs, then the rest of us have no defense against them. Will this be so? I say thee nay
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:09 PM on November 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think all of us can agree that people who think Spongebob will make you gay (for example) are ridiculous, and they are out there, amirite?

Yeah, they're out there. and 99.99% of the population, including most christians, pretty much ignores them. I love satire with the best of them, but that's fish in a barrel territory, right up there with cop-and-donut jokes.
posted by jonmc at 4:13 PM on November 24, 2008


I chuckled when I read "crouton room."

I did, too. Until I entered...
posted by jonmc at 4:17 PM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


I love satire with the best of them, but that's fish in a barrel territory, right up there with cop-and-donut jokes.

Well, if the objection to the FPP was that the site sucked and was not funny, that'd be one thing. I don't think it's terribly funny, although I do like HELLO KITTY...OR HELLO ANUBIS?, and I'd be cool with a request to delete it on those grounds. But the we-mustn't-belittle-the-Christians thing is sort of bullshit, I think.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:20 PM on November 24, 2008


But the we-mustn't-belittle-the-Christians thing is sort of bullshit, I think.

kittens, it's like this: belittle and mock the Asshole Christians all you want. Hell, I'll hand you the hammer to pound them down with. Just leave the decent Christian folk out of it. Blaming an entire group for the actions of a small minority is the definition of prejudice. And prejudice is prejudice, regardless of the relative power of the groups involved.
posted by jonmc at 4:26 PM on November 24, 2008


Well, if the objection to the FPP was that the site sucked and was not funny, that'd be one thing.

I think part of the argument is that, indeed, the site wasn't that great—and that insofar as the justification for posting a not-great site is that it's totally zinging some person or people that "we" don't like, that's not great for the health of this place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:31 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hear you, jon, and I'm usually the first person to talk smack about the obnoxious-ass Dawkinsites, etc., but I don't think that's what the FPP was doing. Maybe the conversation got ugly (I didn't follow it); I dunno. But I think conflating the lunatic fringe with the whole is kind of what we're proposing when we set out not to talk smack about the lunatic fringe for fear of offending the whole, you know? Because, actually, mainstream Christians -- it would seem to me -- would be just as appalled by that shit as anybody else; and would, if anything, be even more inclined to talk smack about it in an effort to escape association with it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:36 PM on November 24, 2008


It satirizes a particular group of Christians who really do exist in real life.

Some of the comments in such threads make a synecdoche of the particular group satirised and the ~2 billion Christians. Casting a big group of Christians as the Other reminds too much of particular groups of Christians casting e.g. homosexuals as the Other and thus it provokes a negative reaction. There are real stakes and a power imbalance in question, but fighting intolerance with intolerance (and painting over a large group of folks in the process) isn't too appealing.

Not to mention that it's shocking seeing so many people treat in this way their beloved Obama /cheap shot.
posted by ersatz at 4:39 PM on November 24, 2008


Because, actually, mainstream Christians -- it would seem to me -- would be just as appalled by that shit as anybody else; and would, if anything, be even more inclined to talk smack about it in an effort to escape association with it.

and there's plenty of assholes who'd be happy to use it tar all Christians with the same brush, the same way racists will use Michael Vick to rip on all black people. Now, I'd be the last person on earth to tell you to spare some idiot a ravaging based on a group affiliation, I'm just saying step carefully while you do it.
posted by jonmc at 4:41 PM on November 24, 2008


Yeah, they're out there. and 99.99% of the population, including most christians, pretty much ignores them.
posted by jonmc at 6:13 PM on November 24


I think a lot of use thought exactly this, until our nostrils were clogged with the death of thousands of New Yorkers.

Those Muslim maniacs were well educated, upper middle class religious fanatics, and we cannot placate them with nods to the docile, or the friendly moderates. Religion, at least in its current zero-evidence my-way-or-Hell form, must to be eradicated for the species to survive. As does fascism, totalitarianism, and any other dogma that replaces the rational and the free thinking with an iron law that perpetuates murderous zealotry.
posted by plexi at 4:55 PM on November 24, 2008


I'm not a Christain, but I understand how some of them must feel. Being a Southerner you are born with the boobie prize of being called a sister fucker, and bottom feeder. Born with the assumtion made by everyone from outside your little area, that you are a racist pig, and stupid to boot. Some of you in the U.S. enjoy, I'm sure, constantly being lumped in with those in this country who kept voting G.W. into the White House. It's really no different. As jon said above, "Blaming an entire group for the actions of a small minority is the definition of prejudice. And prejudice is prejudice, regardless of the relative power of the groups involved."
posted by nola at 4:58 PM on November 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Those Muslim maniacs were well educated, upper middle class religious fanatics

They were also maniacs.

Is that what it comes down to? If we fail to mock moderate Christians for the worst traits of their uninvited, fringe-dwelling maniac cousins, the terrorists have already won?
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:59 PM on November 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


plexi, nobody's saying a small group of fanatics can't do serious damage if they're so inclined. But I won't use 9/11 to sour my opinion of all Muslims or Arabs (which is important since my brother-in-law and my neices and nephews are all of part-Arab ancestry), so I won't let the Fred Phelpses and Jerry Falwells of the world sour me on Christianity.

Religion, at least in its current zero-evidence my-way-or-Hell form, must to be eradicated for the species to survive....and any other dogma that replaces the rational and the free thinking with an iron law

Irony. It's good for the blood.
posted by jonmc at 5:00 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


and there's plenty of assholes who'd be happy to use it tar all Christians with the same brush, the same way racists will use Michael Vick to rip on all black people.

So, who cares? There's plenty of assholes, period. I'm not especially worried about prejudice against Christians; there are a great many of them, you know, and I think they can pretty much defend themselves. I'm more concerned about people who are afraid to call bullshit for fear of pissing them off. I think they might be surprised to find how many Christians agree with them.

What I'm saying is that if you back away from criticizing any aspect of Christianity for fear of upsetting all Christians, then in effect you are equating the lunatic fringe of Christianity with all Christians. It's like saying that criticizing Bush is criticizing America. Granted, some people got a lot of mileage out of that idea; that doesn't make it a good one, or a safe one.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:04 PM on November 24, 2008


plexi you keep equating those that believe in god with those that are ideologically violent, and intractable. The really enemy of reasonable people every where are know it all idealogues.
posted by nola at 5:05 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, who cares? There's plenty of assholes, period.

I do. I'll call an asshole an asshole, even if he's putatively on 'my' side, since they make things more difficult for me to communicate with reasonable people, understand?
posted by jonmc at 5:08 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stupid shit deserves to be mocked.
The fact that "serious, intelligent Christians" share a subset of core beliefs with "inbred, left-behind-reading, oligophrenic Christians" doesn't somehow exempt the whole belief system from mockery.
Stupid shit deserves to be mocked.
posted by signal at 5:08 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


fighting intolerance with intolerance

Those here in this thread and elsewhere who think criticizing Christians is an expression of intolerance must live very sheltered and incurious lives.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:08 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blazecock, come on, there's criticism and then there's just plain nastiness and I think you know the difference.
posted by jonmc at 5:10 PM on November 24, 2008


What it get down to is, if you think something is worth sharing do you ram it down someone's pie hole followed by insults and a kick to the backside? Or do you allow for reasonable differences, in order to have a reasonable dialog?
posted by nola at 5:12 PM on November 24, 2008


I do. I'll call an asshole an asshole, even if he's putatively on 'my' side, since they make things more difficult for me to communicate with reasonable people, understand?

Jon. Are you going to fight me? Right now?

...In text?

What do you think of a dance-off?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:12 PM on November 24, 2008


Say whatever you want about the nicety of Christianity, but if I do not accept Jesus as my personal Savior I am going to Hell. And the fanatics and the moderates and the casually religious are going to Heaven.

In many other parts of the world it doesn't take much beyond religion to steer a hijacked 13 year old girl into a crowded market to blow herself up. She'll go to paradise to see her dead family, bombed by US planes (God Bless the Troops). It will be better when she gets there.

Except, there is no there, and 70 people just died for nothing. That was yesterday. Maybe if we keep saying religion is ok thousands of years of religious bloodshed will just collapse under the weight of the moderates' kindness and rationality, and tomorrow no one will die for God. And maybe, just maybe, I'll go to Heaven too.
posted by plexi at 5:13 PM on November 24, 2008


What do you think of a dance-off?

I dance like the straight white guy that I am.

if I do not accept Jesus as my personal Savior I am going to Hell.

according to some churches. you need to do some more reading.
posted by jonmc at 5:16 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I dance like the straight white guy that I am.

I never said my victory was clear.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:17 PM on November 24, 2008


I believe a dance off represents a clear and present danger.
posted by nola at 5:21 PM on November 24, 2008


Look: religion is beautiful. Late gothic architecture may be the pinnacle of design. The Church feeds billions as instructed by Jesus. And the kindness people I have ever met have been stone-cold Christian.

But Thomas Jefferson had slaves. The US stole the West from Mexico. History allows us to progress, to unshackle ourselves from he mistakes of our fathers. Religion is a glorious thing, but its time has come. The damage is too great, and our species is too fragile and too smart to let a Bronze age myth system undo us. We must usher in a new day.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of "Spiritus Mundi"
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
posted by plexi at 5:24 PM on November 24, 2008


although...if I have the right partner, I can cut a rug.
posted by jonmc at 5:26 PM on November 24, 2008


Say whatever you want about the nicety of Christianity, but if I do not accept Jesus as my personal Savior I am going to Hell. And the fanatics and the moderates and the casually religious are going to Heaven.

According to their belief system, assuming that's actually their belief system. Are you afraid you're going to somehow get hijacked into hell against your wishes because of something you don't actually believe in? If not, let it go. The insult of being hellbound according to a system you don't subscribe to is the faintest and most abstract sort of insult imaginable, and the only person who can make it sting is you.

Religion is a glorious thing, but its time has come.

The increasingly moderate and progressive views of religious folks could be, you know, that time coming. I don't know if you're imagining like a brick wall that we'll line up Religion in front of and open fire or what, but slow steady progress through generational change seems a lot more likely to happen.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:26 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of us thought exactly this, until our nostrils were clogged with the death of thousands of New Yorkers.

plexi, you're not supposed to put them up your nose.

If you find remains that were overlooked in the initial searches, call the coroner's office. They'll take care of them.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:29 PM on November 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Blazecock, come on, there's criticism and then there's just plain nastiness and I think you know the difference.

Jon, what a certain few keep doing in this thread is to reinvent satirical inventions like the FSM and this Christians Against Cartoons site, for example, as acts of "bigotry" and "intolerance". Those are not my words, but direct quotations of comments from proponents of this ridiculous idea in this thread.

A better, i.e. more realistic definition for acts of Bigotry and Intolerance is where a majority bullies the government into taking legal protections and rights away from minorities, for a start.

If you equate religious satire with taking rights away from a minority, you're an idiot and you deserve to be called out as such. Shame on anyone who agrees with you, to boot. Get down off your cross, get out in the world, and get yourself acquainted with human beings who have to deal with genuine oppression on a daily basis.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:29 PM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


If you equate religious satire with taking rights away from a minority, you're an idiot and you deserve to be called out as such.

I don't and I don't think anyone here does, I'm just saying that the nastier anti-Christian stuff I hear here and elsewhere (and I'm not talking about the linked site, it's main crime is that it was hamfistedly bad satire) is counter-productive for everybody.
posted by jonmc at 5:32 PM on November 24, 2008


Dance-off, in the crouton room, right after last period.
posted by rtha at 5:33 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh! That reminds me! Time to update the profile pic.

Ditto.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:34 PM on November 24, 2008


Religion ... must to be eradicated for the species to survive.

How I'm going to envision plexi from now on.
posted by CKmtl at 5:36 PM on November 24, 2008


BP I hear what you're saying but you can't force people to be good. I wish we could get them to see what they're doing is not fair, but at the end of the day society at large has to come along for it to work. It's gonna take winning hearts and minds to change things, any thing less just won't work. It's like screaming at a stone wall. But I understand your rage.
posted by nola at 5:44 PM on November 24, 2008


They're deserving of mockery. But they're not deserving of mockery because they're Christians; they're deserving of mockery because they're morons.

Yes, I agree. And mocking morons because they're stupid is fine, but what happens a lot with Christians is that something some fringe Christian group does is really dumb and effed up and someone posts it to MetaFilter. Pretty soon, it becomes "LOLXIANS!" In this case, in the post, there wasn't too much real debate other than "OMIG-D is that real?! They're really nuts but are they that nuts?! LOL!" the "they" being involved being the Christians. So, yes, they're morons, and mocking morons is fine, but when it turns that corner into mocking them because of x religious belief... it gets into that murky kinda uncomfortable "YR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS ARE WEIRD" territory and then the echo chamber starts, and there you have it, it becomes about the Christianity and not the stupidity.

Those here in this thread and elsewhere who think criticizing Christians is an expression of intolerance must live very sheltered and incurious lives.

Criticism =/= mockery. I have no problem with criticism of Christians. I do have a problem with mockery and equating all people of any religious beliefs with the worst crimes of a few. Your comments re: Christianity and gay bashing are troubling to me, to say the least.

I'm not especially worried about prejudice against Christians; there are a great many of them, you know, and I think they can pretty much defend themselves. I'm more concerned about people who are afraid to call bullshit for fear of pissing them off. I

I said it before, and for me, I'll say it again. I'm not afraid of pissing off any Christians. What bothers me is furthering an atmosphere of intolerance to anyone one in a community forum. Period.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:59 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've read all of this thread and I wasn't going to chime in, but now I am. I am an atheist but was brought up Catholic. My parents are Catholic, I'm not. I used to be extremely angry at Catholicism and at Christianity in general, but in the last couple of years I've modified my stance. I try not to let it bother me any more. It's hard but it's the way it has to be for my own sanity/inner peace. At the risk of hyperbole, I've decided not to be a victim of this any more. Christians can do their thing and I'll do mine. Of course there are the nutjobs but religion is a personal thing, I hate being preached to, but there are plenty of Christians of many denominations who don't hold extreme views. Lumping all Christians together is intolerant in the same way as lumping all Muslims together is intolerant.
posted by ob at 6:35 PM on November 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Being oppressed is not a license to use a blink tag.
posted by lukemeister at 6:59 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know what you mean ob, I grew up in a fundamentalist Christain household, the crazier the belief the more we believed it. I was taken out of school after the 1st grade, and the 1st grade is the most education I've ever received. Yeah I have a 1st grade education. Everything I know, everything I've learned about the world, science, history, what have you, I've gleaned from self education. It's been rocky.

I hated my parents, my mother in paticular, for doing this to me. For being such a Christain nut job that she lost all site of anything else, like how was I going to get a job when I became an adult, how would I live up to any innate potential?

The shame of my roots is something I carry with me, I don't think anyone or anything can wash it away. But I can at least let go of hate. I understand now that hate like my parents felt is born of ignorance, and fear. I also recognise that ignorance and fear in people who have had the luxury of a better education than I've had. The way they speak of people they don't know, the fear they have for the fearful, and endless spiral into misunderstanding and pregidous. This helps no one. If there is hope it is that there are people that will try to understand each other in spite of thier differences. If we give up on that we are all truely lost.
posted by nola at 7:02 PM on November 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


Wow nola, that's intense but well said.
posted by ob at 7:09 PM on November 24, 2008


I meant and well said!
posted by ob at 7:18 PM on November 24, 2008


"I think a lot of use thought exactly this, until our nostrils were clogged with the death of thousands of New Yorkers.

911 NEVAR FORGET, right Rudy?

Those Muslim maniacs were well educated, upper middle class religious fanatics, and we cannot placate them with nods to the docile, or the friendly moderates.

Which means that the moderates are evil, amirite? Burn the Episcopalians because they're just like terrorists!

Religion, at least in its current zero-evidence my-way-or-Hell form, must to be eradicated for the species to survive. As does fascism, totalitarianism, and any other dogma that replaces the rational and the free thinking with an iron law that perpetuates murderous zealotry.

Religion, in this straw-man form, must be burnt in the public square because I'm too unsophisticated to actually deal with evil in any cogent way.

Say whatever you want about the nicety of Christianity, but if I do not accept Jesus as my personal Savior I am going to Hell. And the fanatics and the moderates and the casually religious are going to Heaven.

Y'know, plexi, usually I don't get to see so many flavors of stupid at once. I mean, let's start with the fact that not all Christian denominations believe in hell, even more of them don't believe you go to hell for not believing, and a fair number (which overlap) don't believe in a literal heaven or hell anyway. Then add to that the fact that you clearly don't believe in hell, so who cares? It's like bitching that you're picked last for the cock and ball torture team, or that Baskin Robbins told you that if you wanted to try their taint-and-paint sundae that you'd have to buy one.

"In many other parts of the world it doesn't take much beyond religion to steer a hijacked 13 year old girl into a crowded market to blow herself up. She'll go to paradise to see her dead family, bombed by US planes (God Bless the Troops). It will be better when she gets there.

Right, except crippling, endemic poverty, cultural repression, and a lack of credible religious alternatives. Purely blaming religion is a secular cop-out that allows you to ignore the other fundamental issues that shape behaviors—the exact same mindset that leads to conservatives thinking that it's simply liberalism that leads to crime.

"Except, there is no there, and 70 people just died for nothing. That was yesterday. Maybe if we keep saying religion is ok thousands of years of religious bloodshed will just collapse under the weight of the moderates' kindness and rationality, and tomorrow no one will die for God. And maybe, just maybe, I'll go to Heaven too.

Oh, I get it. See, before I was wondering why the false dichotomies had to be spelled out for you. It's because you've got the same Manichean bullshit going on in your head. Here's one of those learning moments: our only options aren't saying "Everything's OK" or saying "Religion is all bad."
posted by klangklangston at 7:37 PM on November 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


Wait, wait. Why in the hell are idiots like plexi pulling their cords about religion here now? Don't you have some friends you can talk to instead?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:42 PM on November 24, 2008


How I'm going to envision plexi from now on.

Was it the cyclops with penises for hair?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:48 PM on November 24, 2008


Sometimes, even good, smart people believe stupid things. The trick is not to equate the ideas with the person. The other trick is to recognize when you're the one with the stupid idea. These are not easy tricks to learn. I can teach you, though, for a modest donation.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:06 PM on November 24, 2008


Burn the Episcopalians because they're just like terrorists!

Terrorists play golf?
posted by thivaia at 8:57 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


They're really nuts but are they that nuts?! LOL!" the "they" being involved being the Christians. So, yes, they're morons, and mocking morons is fine, but when it turns that corner into mocking them because of x religious belief... it gets into that murky kinda uncomfortable "YR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS ARE WEIRD" territory and then the echo chamber starts, and there you have it, it becomes about the Christianity and not the stupidity.

That is literally impossible to parse.What if the belief itself IS stupid. And by stupid I mean proven completely false. FI believing cavemen rode dinosaurs. It's hard to parse detail like that away from the whole; IOW a religions construction of cosmology.

Anyway. The line between satire/mockery and criticism is very very thin. If it exists at all. For instance the Daily Show is award-winning at mockery. And Brilliant at satire. And, I might add, has been vitally important with raising awareness through its mockery. They occasionally mock Far Right Christians when their goofier beliefs stray into even goofier public policies. And thank god for that. Pun intended.

Sounds like your saying a religious belief is beyond mocking. Thus really beyond reproach. If you can't mock (satirize) you're really limited in how you raise awareness about certain issues — and have certain demographics listen. Humor tends to open more doors than pure critical reason. As the Daily Show clearly demonstrates. (Note: Not comparing the link in question to the Daily Show)

So saying religion is beyond mocking is pretty dumb and grossly inconsistent in light of how thin the line is between various kinds of speech. IOW: Why is every other philosophical system open for mockery (The Daily Show mocking Neoconservative belief, FI) but not ones that involve spiritual beliefs? Nah. Can't get behind that.

Hate and intolerance is one thing. But not all mockery is intolerance.
posted by tkchrist at 9:02 PM on November 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Say whatever you want about the nicety of Christianity, but if I do not accept Jesus as my personal Savior I am going to Hell. And the fanatics and the moderates and the casually religious are going to Heaven.

Actually, most Christians in the world do not see acceptance of Jesus as your savior as the sole key to Heaven; Catholics and Orthodox believe that living a "good" life, i.e., being kind to others, charitable, and forgiving, will also get you into Heaven. FYI.

In any event, I'm kind of sitting back, stunned as I read this thread. I consider myself a person of faith, and didn't take the slightest offense to the FPP. Saying that religion needs to be "eradicated" or that literalists and interpretatists are the same people, sure, that does offend me. But what was being mocked by the FPP wasn't Christianity with a capital C, it was stupidity. Should stupidity be mocked? Yes! Yes, yes and yes. Mock the crap out of those idiots.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:59 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's really not all that complicated.

Think. Learn. Listen. If after thinking and learning and listening, you find that there is something you are compelled to speak against, then do so.

There is nothing wrong, other than the possibility of being boring and trite because it's been done often, and better, about arguing against a belief. Just make a good-faith attempt to limit your attacks (your arguments, your mockery if that's what you feel obliged to do) to the ideas in question, not the people who hold them.

It's not complicated, but it can be difficult, certainly. And it's worth keeping in mind that what we have with the internet is the ability for any uninformed drive-by shouty opinion-holder to drop in and pull even the most nuanced and considered of discussions into monster-truck territory. So it goes.

I leave aside the question of whether it's something worth doing here at Metafilter.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:10 PM on November 24, 2008


Cookies believe in you!

The things we believe in end up believing in us.
posted by cgc373 at 10:14 PM on November 24, 2008


My parents went through a phase of keeping my little brother and sister away from Pokemon and Harry Potter, weighing whether they represented something "occult." Yeah, it embarrassed me, I was a born non-believer, but they had a point, the kids go APESHIT over the fantasy worlds and simultaneously have zero interest in the crusty old bible, and it's easy to wonder what the fuck is so appealing about magic monster balls, could it be.... SATAN?

My best friend growing up was a fundie, as were his parents. Man, those people pissed me off, but my friend was OK, when we didn't bring religion into it, and we were just grade school kids anyway. But his parents were fucked up. They did things that were counterintuitive to good parenting, but they were so rigid that they couldn't see the forest for the trees. They made some good decisions and were highly disciplined and into music, but they really did some damage to their children by trying to shut out everything that didn't conform to their views. Later they sort of dropped the whole fundamentalist bent and started acting like normal people. They're still Christians, but they're not insane anymore. I don't think they had a point when they made my friend break his Rush albums in front of them, except to exercise some sort of control they thought they lacked. It surely didn't help him.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:15 PM on November 24, 2008


If cookies did not exist, it would be necessary to invent them.
So we did.
And it was good.

Also, it makes perfect sense that you are waving around a handgun in your profile pic.

And you have dull, drab floor tiles. MY GOD OUR PROFILE PICS ARE WINDOWS TO OUR SOULS!!!

Apparently I have a scruffy guy with a giant forhead and sort of lopsided eyes in my soul.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:45 PM on November 24, 2008


Sounds like your saying a religious belief is beyond mocking. Thus really beyond reproach. If you can't mock (satirize) you're really limited in how you raise awareness about certain issues — and have certain demographics listen. Humor tends to open more doors than pure critical reason. As the Daily Show clearly demonstrates. (Note: Not comparing the link in question to the Daily Show)

No, I'm not. What I AM saying is that mockery of *one* stupid religious belief on MetaFilter tends to delve into mockery of the entire religion and its followers, which I find to be totally uncomfortable in terms of any sort of greater community. The Daily Show is awesome, but it's one guy - it's not dozens of people sitting around "HURF DURF, FUNDIES, AMIRITE?" Also, the sort of well-informed mockery on TDS beats the kind of stuff that gets mosted to MeFi in the "LOLXIANS" vein any day of the week. I love TDS, and part of why it's *funny* is that it's so well researched. Saying things that are true, and putting a spin on it to show how ridiculous it is, is quite different from making websites saying that Jesus hates Dora the Explorer (which, really, he probably does. She yells a lot. Can't they make that show with some normal voices? I hate the yelling).

Also, TDS has the benefit of being in a forum where the jokes are made, and the show moves on. You're not subject to the commentary of the audience. And it's the audience commentary that really puts me on edge. Read some of the comments in here equating Christians with gay bashers, with saying that Christians aren't worthy of respect because they believe that non-believers are going to hell, that their intolerance places them beyond the reach of our tolerance - THAT vibe is what I feel hurts the community as a whole and that vibe just gets fed like a hungry beast when posts are made solely to mock Christians with no greater purpose.

Maybe there is no solution. Certainly I think that religion is just as worthy of discussion and satire as anything else, but I do feel that the really derisive tone that the LOLXIANS threads takes is something that hurts MetaFilter as a community. It seems easy enough to avoid crappy posts about lame things - avoiding single link farcical posts designed to deride members of a religious group seems just as reasonable to me as avoiding single link youtube posts to farcical cat videos. Still, some members of the community feel that I'm advocating self-censorship. Honestly though, shouldn't we censor at least somewhat what we choose to make an FPP about? Everybody has their pet subjects that they find hilarious that either no one else likes or would go poorly for a group discussion. Just don't post stuff that sucks. That's been agreed upon many times - I'm just saying that I feel like a criterion for "sucking" is "furthers religious intolerance." That's all.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:47 AM on November 25, 2008


Burn the Episcopalians because they're just like terrorists!

And since we usually have liquor handy, we go up in flames really quickly!
posted by pointystick at 4:49 AM on November 25, 2008


yeah what's that old joke pointystick? Wherever there are 4 Episcopalians... there is usually a fifth.

*rimshot*

and I believe everyone has the right to say whatever they want about xtianity, but one thing is for sure, they certainly know to make a joyful noise :)
posted by vronsky at 5:02 AM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Maybe the conversation got ugly (I didn't follow it)

There's your problem. If you'd bother to read the threads you'd understand what we're talking about. If a stupid parody site had been posted and the comments were like: "That was pretty stupid." "Yeah, but I found it kind of funny," nobody would have a problem. It's the fact that idiots and bigots take every chance they get to bash religion and Christianity that brings us here today.

I mean, suppose every time someone mentioned cookies, a group of crazed cookie-haters started chanting COOKIES ARE EVIL! THEY KILL PEOPLE!! That would suck, right? Sometimes we just want to talk about our favorite cookies.
posted by languagehat at 6:24 AM on November 25, 2008


There's your problem. If you'd bother to read the threads you'd understand what we're talking about.

Oh, don't get all snippy with me, language fat! It's not as though I don't know the kind of thing you're talking about, but honestly, if this is something that's that galling to you guys (and I can understand why, because the anti-xian squad tends to be shrill and, worse yet, predictably shrill), I can suggest only that you (a) do not read the thread (I didn't, and I'm fine!), or (b) engage with these people and tell them why they suck. Because if it's just about avoiding confrontation with them, that's very easily accomplished by, like, reading something else. And if it's about what assholes they are, tell them what a bunch of assholes they are and be done with it. You guys seem to just want them not to be at all, which, you know, I think isn't going to happen, ever.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:32 AM on November 25, 2008


Many strident and sneering critics of Christianity fail to grasp the basic tenets of the religion. See, for example, plexi's assertion that not accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior means eternal damnation–that is the well-publicized view of some born-again Christians sects, but it is not the position of all Christian sects nor all individual Christians. This particular idea of hell is not an unvarying tenet of all of Christianity. The Catholic church, progressive institution that it is, has a more nuanced view of hell, one that holds that many people who aren't members of the church may indeed avoid eternal damnation. It's not particularly cheery, I think, but it is radically different from the "guaranteed hell" that plexi refers to.

And that's it in a nutshell–threads like the one in question quickly and inevitably turn into pile-ons of all people and things religious, and we see all sorts of misrepresentations of what "Christian" means, and we trot out all the old stereotypes of religious zealots, and talk about how religion is the root of all evil in the world. It's predictable and it's awful and it's bad for the site, and it often exposes the ignorance and prejudice of anti-religion zealots. I mean, if you look at what plexi wrote here, if you substitute a few words these could well be the rantings of a religious zealot–he expresses the same intolerance, the same zero-sum mindset, the same black-and-white worldview as the religious zealots he decries.

LOLXTIANS posts are a sop thrown to the "true unbelievers" just as gay marriage topics are red meat to the RedState or Freep crowd. I want MetaFilter to be better than RedState, and it is–we just don't really do religion well, and thin, dated posts like the one in question do more harm than good. For what it's worth, I'd have a different take on this if the link was better, but it seems like a dreary "fire up the base" kind of post, and I don't want us to have a base that will react to these dog-whistles so predictably.
posted by Mister_A at 7:13 AM on November 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


Heh, I was just coming back in here to say "Whiskeypalians".
posted by Burhanistan at 7:27 AM on November 25, 2008


Those here in this thread and elsewhere who think criticizing Christians is an expression of intolerance must live very sheltered and incurious lives.

What we object to is criticising all Christians for the doings of other Christians. Refusing to equate the bully threatening kids because of their "satanic clothes" with reasonable people who happen to be religious isn't incurious. I just find a brush that paints one third of humankind too big for comfort.

Jon, what a certain few keep doing in this thread is to reinvent satirical inventions like the FSM and this Christians Against Cartoons site, for example, as acts of "bigotry" and "intolerance". Those are not my words, but direct quotations of comments from proponents of this ridiculous idea in this thread.

I'm replying as you quoted my "fighting intolerance with intolerance" line before. As you may have noticed, objection to the comments elicited in LOLXIAN threads is a big part of the discussion.

A better, i.e. more realistic definition for acts of Bigotry and Intolerance is where a majority bullies the government into taking legal protections and rights away from minorities, for a start.

If you equate religious satire with taking rights away from a minority, you're an idiot and you deserve to be called out as such.


No, this is a better definition of oppression. There are different aims (few atheists are pushing for the rights of Christians to be curtailed) and a power imbalance, that I mentioned, which are what makes fundies dangerous. However, insofar "Gays r destroying the fabric of society" and "lol, Xians" (all lumped together) reduce people from humans to anonymous units of big bad groups, they are both intolerant stances.
posted by ersatz at 7:36 AM on November 25, 2008


Because if it's just about avoiding confrontation with them, that's very easily accomplished by, like, reading something else. And if it's about what assholes they are, tell them what a bunch of assholes they are and be done with it. You guys seem to just want them not to be at all, which, you know, I think isn't going to happen, ever.

I think the reason this is in MeTa is because, as grapefruitmoon said earlier, some topics are a little more meta than "flag it and move on" and this may be one of them. The larger issue is whether these sorts of posts are bad for the site in some way and/or should be moderated differently which can mean either by us, the mods, or by people flagging them more etc. There are some people who think that "flag it and move on" is appropriate for everything, some people who think "let the mods decide" is okay for everything and a lot of people in the middle.

Most of the time, this site pretty much runs itself but there are some instances -- jokey responses in AskMe, for example or the one question per week limit -- in which we don't just leave comment moderation up to the will of the people. I think the larger question is "even though people seem to really like these 'let's all mock Christians' posts, they may be a bad thing for the site, or for a community site in general, what do you guys think?" and that's what we're talking about.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:46 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately MeFi doesn't do Christianity, Rape, Circumcision (am I forgetting something?) very well. I think that's what it all boils down to. There are plenty of us who get fucking bored listening to shrill adolescents mock all Christians and tell us that Christianity evil/insane/intolerant/laughable etc. like it's some kind of fucking revelation.
posted by ob at 8:22 AM on November 25, 2008


How does one go about doing rape well?

You're forgetting the declawing of felines. And discussions of obesity. And, often, Israel.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:27 AM on November 25, 2008


How does one go about doing rape well?

Yeah, I meant that the discussions about rape often descend into screaming about false accusations or that not all men are rapists. I was going to mention the cat questions, but I'd forgotten about obesity and Israel.
posted by ob at 8:39 AM on November 25, 2008


Actually thinking about it, a fat, half-circumcised (just to annoy everyone), date-raped, cat-owning, Israeli Christian might just be MeFi's perfect storm...
posted by ob at 8:43 AM on November 25, 2008


Hey, that hurts ob.
posted by Mister_A at 8:46 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, this is a better definition of oppression.

And we're back to an attempt to redefine words in the English language.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:08 AM on November 25, 2008


"Jon, what a certain few keep doing in this thread is to reinvent satirical inventions like the FSM and this Christians Against Cartoons site, for example, as acts of "bigotry" and "intolerance". Those are not my words, but direct quotations of comments from proponents of this ridiculous idea in this thread.

A better, i.e. more realistic definition for acts of Bigotry and Intolerance is where a majority bullies the government into taking legal protections and rights away from minorities, for a start.

If you equate religious satire with taking rights away from a minority, you're an idiot and you deserve to be called out as such. Shame on anyone who agrees with you, to boot. Get down off your cross, get out in the world, and get yourself acquainted with human beings who have to deal with genuine oppression on a daily basis.
"

You're under-defining intolerance and bigotry.

Look, it's intolerance and bigotry to take away legal rights because you find someone's sex life icky. But it's also bigotry and intolerance to think that two dudes hugging must be gay, or to call a couple of guys fags, etc. Even a closer analogy would be to act like all gays are flaming queens. They're not, and that denies the humanity of gay folks who express their sexuality differently. It's intolerance and bigotry through stereotyping, and even though it's not as serious as taking away rights, it's still not a good thing.
posted by klangklangston at 9:12 AM on November 25, 2008


I think the larger question is "even though people seem to really like these 'let's all mock Christians' posts, they may be a bad thing for the site, or for a community site in general, what do you guys think?" and that's what we're talking about.

Understood, and I'd be very much opposed to something that I thought was there to mock all Christians. Whatever the poster's intent, though, I'm not at all convinced that the site linked to exists for such a purpose, and am made very uncomfortable by the idea put forth implicitly or otherwise a few times in this thread that criticism of any aspect of Christianity should be read as criticism of all Christians everywhere -- or, more to the point, I guess, should be avoided because it could open the door to someone with such a sweeping criticism. Like I said, I'm totally cool with the FPP getting deleted because the site isn't funny (I've flagged several incarnations of a Stuff White People Like FPP for that very reason), but grander-scheme-of-things-type reasoning...eh.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:19 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


And we're back to an attempt to redefine words in the English language.

Using them with their accepted meanings, actually. Intolerance 1. [...] unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs Oppression 1. the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. dictionary.com

Most of us here are more or less on the same page wrt gay rights, so I don't think there are people who oppress in this discussion.
posted by ersatz at 11:45 AM on November 25, 2008


Using them with their accepted meanings, actually.

Or, rather, you are interpreting them in a very narrow manner inconsistent with the discussion taking place. The use of the terms 'bigotry,' 'oppression' and 'intolerance' in the same thread attaches a fairly specific context to their meaning and their use. Other uses are recontextualizations and deliberately dilute and weaken meaning.

For example, in a very specific interpretation of the word 'patriot', the PATRIOT Act could be interpreted as patriotic. Most, however, understand the act of doublespeak taking place. Using 'intolerance' and similarly loaded terms to suggest that FSM or CAC are acts of bigotry (with the power the word is commonly understood to hold in the English language) is along the same lines of reinvention and dilution.

Words have meaning and their uses dictate intent. We need to be very careful of people in a position of power reusing and redefining the language of those they oppress. Christians are not an oppressed people in the United States of America. Satires of elements of power in a society are not acts of oppression, bigotry or intolerance.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:00 PM on November 25, 2008


There is no Cookie Monster; his name is Sid. Furthermore, I think you're being insensitive to the beliefs of people who didn't grow up with cookies.
posted by woodway at 12:48 PM on November 25, 2008


"Words have meaning and their uses dictate intent. We need to be very careful of people in a position of power reusing and redefining the language of those they oppress. Christians are not an oppressed people in the United States of America. Satires of elements of power in a society are not acts of oppression, bigotry or intolerance."

You have to be careful here too, especially when you're making statements that require so much subjective interpretation.

First off, you can be bigoted and intolerant without your target being oppressed—there are real instances of misandry even as men are the gender with the most power in America.

Second off, you're again conflating these Christians with all Christians in a way that undermines your point. Christianity as a whole is the dominant religion in the US, but that doesn't mean that fundamentalists are the dominant religion—their brand of Christianity is very much the minority. It'd be like saying that Jews for Jesus are part of the power structure in Israel because they're all Jews.

Third, the sense of oppression and martyrdom is central to the historical rhetoric of Christianity (and somewhat to other religions of the Judeo tradition). While I grant that mainline Christianity is not oppressed, arguing that the designation of oppression is necessary for stereotyping, bigotry and intolerance to be recognized is not going to be a successful rhetorical strategy—the fringes of Christianity are very much involved in a self-identity of being oppressed, and there's a fairly decent argument that they actually are oppressed. They have far less power than they appear to, especially when class issues are accounted for, and their struggles are going to be seen sympathetically by a large majority of people who are not really oppressed themselves but see a kinship due to shared faith. That's, in fact, something that they share with fringe Muslims (I don't know much about fringe Jewish groups outside of Jews for Jesus). But they do feel constantly assaulted by what they see as immorality and decadence, and are offended by the apostasy and temptation that surround them. (Interestingly enough, anti-materialist liberals should do a better job of communicating with evangelicals, as they'll find ideological allies for, say, reducing the amount of public advertising).

But while I think that people are intolerant of fringe religious ideas (to the point that yes, many would want to do things like restrict their ability to marry whom they want or to raise their children as they like or to even adopt kids), I generally think that the reasons why we are intolerant of those fringe ideas are for the good of greater society (and based on the absence of a Leviathan that can adjudicate for us). The problem is when that righteous rejection of what I see as freedom-annihilating principles gets spread by virtue of ignorance to a rejection of all religious principles, all principles that are associated with religion (but may be found elsewhere) or all religious people. That is bigotry and intolerance, that is unfair, that is unproductive for the type fo society that I'd like to see. It's the sort of thing that promotes schism in the Episcopalians after their selection of an openly gay bishop by reinforcing the beset mindset of conservatives within the church, and encourages alliances with the right that work to promote the very worst aspects of pseudo-Christianity.
posted by klangklangston at 1:57 PM on November 25, 2008


Christianity as a whole is the dominant religion in the US, but that doesn't mean that fundamentalists are the dominant religion—their brand of Christianity is very much the minority. It'd be like saying that Jews for Jesus are part of the power structure in Israel because they're all Jews.

Bears repeating. Those idiots are loud and brash but they are very much the minority. And you can believe they lump me in the same category as they do Muslims, homosexuals, and communists. I don't get invitations to the annual ball, and they don't share their royalty checks with me, either.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:10 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Words have meaning and their uses dictate intent. We need to be very careful of people in a position of power reusing and redefining the language of those they oppress. Christians are not an oppressed people in the United States of America. Satires of elements of power in a society are not acts of oppression, bigotry or intolerance.

Fully agreed, but you are misreading me. One of the threads of the discussion is the variety of Christians and the way fundies are cast as the only true Scotsmen Christians. I used 'intolerance' to talk about comments characterising all Christians based on the actions of some of them, not in response to FSM or invisible teacups and only later brought up 'oppression' to clarify its difference from 'intolerance'.
posted by ersatz at 2:16 PM on November 25, 2008


Christians are not an oppressed people in the United States of America. Satires of elements of power in a society are not acts of oppression, bigotry or intolerance.

In those broad terms, I agree. But discussing said satires in a way that derides Christians and equates them with gay bashers in ways that imply that all hate crimes committed in the US against GLBT folk were committed by Christians... that is intolerance. I haven't seen anyone saying that Christians are oppressed. What I've tried to say, and what jonmc said, and what klangklangston just said more eloquently than what I've come up with, is that being oppressed by someone doesn't make it right to go and treat that group like they're not worthy of any kind of respect.

Oddly enough, it's what Christianity is all about. Do unto others. Judge not. That kinda stuff. I'm not asking that we all go and hug a fundie (though it might be an interesting sort of performance art), just not that we allow a community website to become a fermentation vat of steaming hatred for any one religious group.

Or, if you want to go the Gandhi route: Be the change you want to see in the world.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:17 PM on November 25, 2008


Be the change you want to see in the world.

You know who else was the change they wanted to see in the world?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:52 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Zamfir?
posted by klangklangston at 4:35 PM on November 25, 2008


No, it was Michael Jackson.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:48 PM on November 25, 2008


No, your mom was Michael Jackson.


Wait, what?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:59 PM on November 25, 2008


We are all the same Michael Jackson.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:28 PM on November 25, 2008


Is this something I'd have to be Sheik Abdulla Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa to understand?
posted by lukemeister at 9:43 PM on November 25, 2008


No, you just have to love beer.
posted by klangklangston at 9:53 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of use thought exactly this, until our nostrils were clogged with the death of thousands of New Yorkers.

Um....plexi? Speaking as a New Yorker who lived half a mile from Ground Zero and who spent a week with her nostrils getting clogged by God-knows-what and had a mild nervous breakdown on 9/15/01 -- it is time to stop using the 9/11 card as an excuse for anything. It is time to do the brave thing and come out of the shadow of the Twin Towers. Eight years is far, far to long to continue living in fear, to continue using one act to excuse that fear, and far, far, FAR to long to keep the rest of the nation closed off to the rest of the world.

Seriously.

As to the matter at hand.

Yes, fundamentalists exist. Yes, they try to do dangerous things. But -- they exist in every religion. The problem we run into is in confusing the beliefs with the fundamentalism itself. I personally see them as two separate things -- beliefs are actually quite adaptable. It is what you do with those beliefs that does or does not make you a fundamentalist - even the people who think that I am hellbound simply by virtue of not tithing 10% of my income do nothing to hurt me if all they are doing is walking around with this belief in their heads.

I'm reminded of a website run by a Christian woman, "Lydia of Purple". She had a little web-based business making "modest dresses" for women. I'd sometimes look at her web site to get a giggle, I'll admit, because she was rather overtly fundamentalist Christian to an eye-raising extreme. I'm sure, if she met me, she woud consider that my lifestyle had doomed me to torment.

And yet -- she took no steps to actually do anything to alter my lifestyle, or the lifestyle of any other being. She had this belief in her head, sure, but she left those who disagreed with her alone. Maybe she prayed for nonbelievers, but that's as far as it went.

And....the fact that out there in the world was someone who thought that about me ultimately, did nothing directly to harm me.

Now, before everyone jumps up and says "but people like her are trying to take away your rights, and that's how they hurt you" -- well, forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but isn't that what voting is for? Or democracy? Or town meetings or letters to the editor, or any one of the number of ways available to us that we can use as members of a free and open society to make our opinions heard and collectively shape the laws that are used to govern us? If we are so afraid of our rights being taken away from us, why are not more of us calling our Congressmen? Or choosing which congresspersons to vote in? The last I checked, we were all still able to do all of that, and to coordinate protests against measures we felt restricted our rights, and to lobby congress to change laws we felt were prejudicial...and as long as all those means are in place, and as long as we still have those tools which we can use to prevent those rights being taken away from us, then the threat of "fundies" is much less than people claim it is, I believe. Honestly, the only difference between the "fundies taking away our rights" and those who are more liberal is that they are doing the better job at organizing the grass roots efforts.

I must stress, mind you, that I am in no way saying that the left is not attempting to fight back -- I saw far too many calls to "vote no on Proposition 8" in California to ever believe that, and I have seen far too many protests since then. All I am saying is that, somehow, the proposition 8 supporters got a head start, and we need to think carefully about that.

Finally: I have a question for the Christians who have identified themselves as liberal and moderate. I've asked this question of a number of Christian moderates and never received a satisfying answer. Now -- I know full well that there are Christian liberals and Christian moderates (I have a friend who is without question liberal, but he's also uber-Catholic to the point that he very nearly was a Jesuit priest). And I've heard from them repeatedly that "yeah, those guys like Fred Phelps? We're not all like that." But I've asked in the past - is there any particular reason why the rest of the Christian community doesn't rise up and speak out against the aggressive fundamentalists in their midst? The most I've heard that any Christian leader did to speak about the dangers of Fred Phelps was that once, someone's pastor preached a sermon to his congregation about how Phelps wasn't really getting the point. When I pointed out that this was, literally, preaching to the converted, and asked why more Christian leaders didn't release statements to the public at large, they had no good answer.

So my question is -- since it is the minority fundamentalists like this that give other Christians a bad name in the eyes of the rest of the world, and lead to threads like this, then why on EARTH are not more Christian LEADERS standing up and speaking out and saying "Okay, people? We're not like that."?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:11 AM on November 26, 2008


"But I've asked in the past - is there any particular reason why the rest of the Christian community doesn't rise up and speak out against the aggressive fundamentalists in their midst?"

Uh, a whole bunch of them do, pretty much all the time. But it's a little bit like how when the news covers, say, an anti-war demonstration, the ink is all about the screaming hippies and not the sombre mother of two. "NOT ALL CHRISTIANS INSANE" doesn't make headlines, and besides, most liberal Christians spend their time doing things like volunteering.

This comes up all the time with pretty much whatever group, whether you're talking about why more Muslims don't denounce terrorists or why more African-Americans don't denounce gangster rap or more pro-choice folks don't denounce abortions. In large part, it's because they have other positive programs and goals that they're trying to accomplish. There's also a reluctance to confirm for outsiders that these people actually reflect upon them.
posted by klangklangston at 9:32 AM on November 26, 2008


So my question is -- since it is the minority fundamentalists like this that give other Christians a bad name in the eyes of the rest of the world, and lead to threads like this, then why on EARTH are not more Christian LEADERS standing up and speaking out and saying "Okay, people? We're not like that."?

First off, plenty of Christians do speak up against fundamentalism.

Second, most Christians who subscribe to the heart of Jesus' message - as opposed to OT prophecy - tend to focus more on quietly doing good works rather than standing up and proclaiming from the rooftops (although there have been exceptions - the Catonsville Nine come to mind).

Third, why? Why should Christians as a whole have to publicly declare that they are not fundamentalists? Replace the word "Christian" with "Muslim" and you'll see what I mean. "Why aren't more Muslims and Muslim leaders standing up and speaking out and saying 'Okay, people? We're not like those extremists'" It's not the job of every Christian in the world to walk around with a sandwich board around her neck bearing the words "NOT A FUNDIE".

Fourth, people of all religious stripes, and those without religion, make their policies clear in the political arena. There are Christians against the war, Christians who believe homosexuals have the right to marry, and Christians who believe in a progressive social policy. It's policy that should matter first and foremost. That the policies of these Christians is diametrically opposed to that of the fundamentalists is more than speaking up against them; it's fighting them back.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:30 PM on November 26, 2008


Third, why? Why should Christians as a whole have to publicly declare that they are not fundamentalists? Replace the word "Christian" with "Muslim" and you'll see what I mean. "Why aren't more Muslims and Muslim leaders standing up and speaking out and saying 'Okay, people? We're not like those extremists'".

And yet, I've heard people wonder why moderate Muslims don't do that.

Listen, I hear you on this -- but I've just also seen a couple times in the neo-Pagan community, where, if someone was acting like a complete prat, someone else was there to tap them on the shoulder and say, "Dude, you're acting stupid and it's making us all look bad. Cut it out." And it just struck me that the larger faiths -- all of them -- don't do that anywhere near as much, and it just got me wondering, well, why not.

But you're correct that it's less attention-getting when it happens, which means it could indeed be just my perception.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:41 AM on November 28, 2008


Listen, I hear you on this -- but I've just also seen a couple times in the neo-Pagan community, where, if someone was acting like a complete prat, someone else was there to tap them on the shoulder and say, "Dude, you're acting stupid and it's making us all look bad. Cut it out."

I think this is because Pagans are a highly marginalized and greatly misunderstood group, even more so than Christians or Muslims. I have a number of Wiccan friends who can attest to what you're saying. There's been sufficient message output from moderate Muslims and liberal Christians to where many mainstream Americans are aware that they're decent people. Neo-Pagans, on the other hand, are still working hard to get the average person to understand that they don't worship Satan or kidnap children. So message control is at a lot more critical stage for the Neo-Pagans, I think.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:27 PM on November 28, 2008


Heh. Theres some strong parallels between neo-pagans and die hard followers of SF/Fantasy TV shows there.
posted by Artw at 7:59 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


« Older Unexpected Contribution   |   He Straightens shit out. Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments