My God, it's full of nothing. August 1, 2011 5:31 PM   Subscribe

My personal distaste with the FSM milieu aside, why is this post still up?
posted by griphus to Etiquette/Policy at 5:31 PM (367 comments total)

...for the lulz, what else?
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:37 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because so many people on metafilter are hopeless ramentics?
posted by snofoam at 5:37 PM on August 1, 2011 [34 favorites]


Because to a lot of people the choice to eat noodles after sundown is as valid as not eating anything from sunup to sundown?

Because parody is sometimes fun.

Because not everyone believe religious beliefs need be respected?

I guess you're going to have to give me more on why it should go away. It's a bit thin, but meh. If you're saying a singular link and noodle blue is lame, them maybe I can get behind you.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:38 PM on August 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Does it have anything to do with the Flying Spaghetti Monster? The page seems surprisingly barren of explanation.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:38 PM on August 1, 2011


It seemed like a dumb joke that almost everyone saw as a dumb joke. We'd need a reason TO delete it, not a reason not to delete it. Flagged, but not so many that it was a "Delete This" mandate. So, we didn't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:42 PM on August 1, 2011


Yeah, ditto. Seemed dumb but not pressingly so, was my feeling.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:43 PM on August 1, 2011


Ceiling Cat expects strict observance of Nom Kippur.
posted by Trurl at 5:45 PM on August 1, 2011 [113 favorites]


If you're saying a singular link and noodle blue is lame, them maybe I can get behind you.

Not even "single link" but "single link with all the content of three tweets."

Flagged, but not so many that it was a "Delete This" mandate.

Fair enough.
posted by griphus at 5:45 PM on August 1, 2011


Clearly we should add 'kinda dumb' and 'a bit thin' to the reasons to flag. Then we wouldn't have to worry about having posts on the front page every day.
posted by snofoam at 5:47 PM on August 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Since this is about wrapped up I will piggyback my question!

How long has it been since we had 2 full days with no Metatalk? Because we just had Two Full Days Without Metatalk.
posted by Justinian at 5:48 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ceiling Cat expects strict observance of Nom Kippur.

Like so many others outside of the faith you spelled it wrong. It's supposed to be "Nom Kippers"
posted by Poet_Lariat at 5:50 PM on August 1, 2011 [12 favorites]


How long has it been since we had 2 full days with no Metatalk?
It's been one day.
posted by dg at 5:52 PM on August 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, despite the fact I'm taking a different stance on it in-thread, on clicking through there is literally nothing on the webpage but a couple of tweets and a super-lame/brief explanation.

Given the absolutely minimal traffic and number of users thus far participating in this weird attempt at viral, I wouldn't be surprised if OP is connected to it in some way. The maximum "points" in one day is 12, and the "leader" has 11. And there's like 15 people participating.

That shit is thinner than cigarette paper, and without some kind of friendsy connection, I have no idea why anyone would think it was interesting enough for a post.
posted by smoke at 5:55 PM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


You have to understand, griphus, that a simple pun in a URL is more than sufficient content for an FPP. The actual website, as is the case here, need have no content whatsoever. Remember this one for future MeTalk reference; it sets a new low standard.
posted by Ardiril at 5:56 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Had I actually clicked through, I would have flagged it. Thin and pointless.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:58 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


How long has it been since we had 2 full days with no Metatalk?

May 26th-27th EST.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:59 PM on August 1, 2011


"Had I actually clicked through, I would have flagged it. Thin and pointless."

Hmmm... if you did not, as you claim, "click through", just HOW do you know it is "thin and pointless??

Aha! I say. These puzzle pieces do NOT fit together...
posted by tomswift at 6:03 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Clicked through" to the MeFi thread, most likely.
posted by Ardiril at 6:04 PM on August 1, 2011


I did flag it. At first, I was like, what is this? It looks like nonsense. Then I clicked. It *is* nonsense. Not-funny nonsense, my least-favorite kind.
posted by *s at 6:07 PM on August 1, 2011


May 26th-27th EST.

Huh. I guess it happens more often than I would have guessed.
posted by Justinian at 6:09 PM on August 1, 2011


Nah, I think the one before that was in 2010. It's pretty random.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:14 PM on August 1, 2011


Well, shit, griphus, this post (which I thought at first must have been from The Onion) is still up. Go figure.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:19 PM on August 1, 2011


Outright disrespect for someone else's religion is kind of offensive. For parody to rise above mere rudeness, it must have wit or good writing. Not a good post.

Good callout title, though.
posted by theora55 at 6:28 PM on August 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm with griphus. I understand why people play along with the FSM joke, especially if they've had to deal with intolerant religious people or have had specific issues with churches. But this whole FSM business doesn't right that wrong -- it takes away from the "good without God" message. It responds to negativity (bigotry that stems from certain religious beliefs) with more negativity. The last thing we need is more pointless hate and snide. I think atheists cans do themselves a lot of good by countering religious bigotry with compassion and kindness, instead of mockery and derision.
posted by spiderskull at 6:28 PM on August 1, 2011 [14 favorites]


Sill internet joke. We should have cake. But we can't! Because the cake is a lie.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:28 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just so ya know, I'm more likely to visit deleted posts than the other kind.
posted by telstar at 6:36 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sill internet joke. We should have cake. But we can't! Because the cake is a lie.

er, 'silly Internet joke'
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:36 PM on August 1, 2011


Sucks. Flagged.
posted by Kwine at 6:39 PM on August 1, 2011


Metafilter: Seemed Dumb But Not Pressingly So.
posted by marxchivist at 6:41 PM on August 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


Clearly we should add 'kinda dumb' and 'a bit thin' to the reasons to flag. Then we wouldn't have to worry about having posts on the front page every day.

That is a great idea. I'd be surprised if I've flagged a dozen posts in the past dozen years. But if there were a shade of editorial influence, "ie. I think we can do better", that'd be swell. Fewer, better posts would be grand.

At any rate, it'd allow a second level of nuance that might help the mods filter the content to the people's taste.

Maybe that's a lousy idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:44 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


While I don't think this is going to make anybody like the post (or the subject of it) any better, I can provide a little context. Jed, the guy behind Ramendan, is a friend, and has made a habit of, well, OCD-ish eating habits. He's done things like hit 50 different Starbucks in 50 days, more than once. So eating ramen every day for 30 days is right in line with that.

He's also a Japanese translator and spends a lot of time in Japan, so he has a connection to real ramen—the stuff the movie Tampopo was about, not the 25¢/pack stuff you make at home. As far as I can tell, there's no reference to FSM on the website, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was being read in entirely by MeFites.
posted by adamrice at 6:45 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


F•x's "War on Christmas" bullshit is 10x as offensive as Ramendan. Take a chill pill.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:49 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't even want a dropdown selector. People who want to be specifically outraged can use that, and its flagging should be taken seriously.

What I want is a simple thumb indicator that I can flip thumbs down if I feel the Post was not Best of the Web. No indication of other's votes. No "posts I thumbed up" page. No feedback to the Post author.

One-way feedback to be interpreted as a mass 'mood' indicator. A way for moderators to gauge a post by a reader-feedback mechanism.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:00 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, ditto. Seemed dumb but not pressingly so, was my feeling.

I think the next time you guys decide to delete something you should give a reason of "Pressingly dumb."
posted by codacorolla at 7:02 PM on August 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


spiderskull: I understand why people play along with the FSM joke, especially if they've had to deal with intolerant religious people or have had specific issues with churches.

I don't think you understand the FSM joke at all. I certainly didn't really get it. But the story of Justin Griffiths' ordeal in getting his atheism recognized by the military gave me a different perspective (bonus: funny drill sergeant story).
posted by Kattullus at 7:05 PM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


And I-I-I-I-I have become...

Pressingly dumb.
posted by griphus at 7:11 PM on August 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


what is the FSM milieu? I googled...
posted by sweetkid at 7:14 PM on August 1, 2011


The last thing we need is more pointless hate and snide.

On a day like today, I'm not so sure.
posted by Trurl at 7:19 PM on August 1, 2011


Flying Spaghetti Monster

(in answer to sweetkid)
posted by cjorgensen at 7:24 PM on August 1, 2011


I don't think you understand the FSM joke at all.

Yeah, that's a fair point -- as an actual tool for sending a message (like the original letter to the Kansas School Board), it's been a good use of sharp wit. But it seems a lot of the clever and purposeful satire has degraded into a shallow form of humor that categorically dismisses anyone who has beliefs.
posted by spiderskull at 7:45 PM on August 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is anyone really so immersed in Pastafarianism that it could be accurately called a milieu?
posted by cmoj at 7:54 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, I'm a Person With Beliefs who frequently (probably too frequently) leaps to the defense of PWBs, and I fucking LOVE the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Whether or not it's a "real" religion -- which is a pointless and arbitrary distinction anyway -- it clearly brings a lot of people a lot of joy, and joy is something this world could use a whole lot more of. Rock the fuck on, Pastafarians.
posted by KathrynT at 7:58 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is anyone really so immersed in Pastafarianism that it could be accurately called a milieu?

more like a gestalt.
posted by telstar at 7:59 PM on August 1, 2011


I listened to a Canadian radio program over the weekend which featured Karen Armstrong.

She discussed results of an international poll of Muslims asking them what they most wanted of the West.

Was it:

Stop stealing our oil?

Stop invading us?

Stop killing hundreds of innocent civilians in hopes of being able to murder a single individual you think may have been a terrorist?

Stop supporting brutal dictatorships which kill and torture thousands of our sons and daughters?

No.

It was:

Stop insulting our religion.
posted by jamjam at 8:00 PM on August 1, 2011 [15 favorites]


The religion of my area is superior to the religion of your area.
posted by killdevil at 8:01 PM on August 1, 2011


This is the first "why was this post deleted/why hasn't this post been deleted" MeTa in recent memory that I actually agree with. Flagged as thinner than somebody who's been fasting for a month.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:04 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


That shit is thinner than cigarette paper
posted by smoke at 5:55 PM on August 1


Awesome.
posted by mannequito at 8:11 PM on August 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this seems like its banality and inanity were enough camouflage to keep it from being even noticed. I don't flag unless I click through (or something is really vile) and even now it just seems "Meh."

I would have deleted it, were I a mod and were I somehow seized of a caring. Even now it radiates apathy!

I accidentally hit ~ instead of ! and thought, "Wow, tildes really would be a great apathy punctuation.
posted by klangklangston at 8:42 PM on August 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


tildes really would be a great apathy punctuation.

If you say so~
posted by carsonb at 8:48 PM on August 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


It seemed like a dumb joke that almost everyone saw as a dumb joke. We'd need a reason TO delete it, not a reason not to delete it. Flagged, but not so many that it was a "Delete This" mandate. So, we didn't.

Ok. So this time what you are saying is:

1. Things that "almost everyone" (actual meaning: majority but not all people) sees as a dumb joke are ok for the blue.
2. Things that are flagged are ok, as long as they don't get "so many" are ok.

I think the flagging system is a big sham here. I've seen it invoked to delete an inconsequential comment...and I've seen it invoked to say "Well, we didn't get many".

Seems like mefites should see the flagging process as pretty useless.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:48 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seems like mefites should see the flagging process as pretty useless.

Flagging a post isn't saying "DELETE THIS NOW, MOD!" and any expectation that that will be the result of your flag is misguided. When you flag a post you're saying "Hey Mod, Look at this!" and you bet your bottom dollar—they'll look at it. Whether or not it gets deleted from there, well, that's determined on a post-by-post basis.

Also, you're a sham.
posted by carsonb at 8:55 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't generally find it funny when people make fun of a religion that is seriously and sometimes violently marginalized in the US (and much of Europe). Even though I am one of those annoying vocal atheist types.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:58 PM on August 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I make fun of all religions equally, without regard for the number or geographic distribution of their adherents.
posted by killdevil at 9:06 PM on August 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


LOLSEMOLINA
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:20 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not particularly religious so I didn't find this offensive so much as inappropriate. Ramadan is about sacrifice, charity and community-building. Making a lame joke/play-on-words about fasting and noodles is not funny, satirical or interesting. Flagged.
posted by nikitabot at 9:20 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I am not particularly religious, although I do have a lot of respect for all religions and see no point in mockery of most widely accepted religious practices. I'm not saying this should have been deleted, but I do think it is pretty disgusting.
posted by sweetkid at 9:34 PM on August 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wish one of the flag reasons could simply be "not best of the web" or "lame" or something. Because I'm sick of clicking "other" and it doesn't really convey the fact that a specific post just doesn't belong here (IMO, obviously).
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:35 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the flagging system is a big sham here.

And I think you don't seem to understand how it works. A comment in AskMe will get deleted with just a flag or two, sure. A post in MeFi doesn't always get deleted when it has a few flags. We have human moderators who make the final decisions. Human moderators who are available here for discussing the ins and outs of deletions. And we were sort of shruggo on the post and so we didn't delete it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:36 PM on August 1, 2011


Oh, and I love the FSM and all, but I feel that this post is so ridiculously thin that if it were anything else, it would probably have been deleted, not to mention the whole sort of LOLMUSLIMS angle (whether intended directly or not).
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:37 PM on August 1, 2011


So Christianity is fair game but Islam has to be respected?
posted by joannemullen at 9:44 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


So Christianity is fair game but Islam has to be respected?

Oh...dude, I was wondering where you were, joannemullen.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:46 PM on August 1, 2011 [17 favorites]


Well joannemullen, Islam is extra violent, war-like, chauvinist, repressive, melodramatic, persecution-complexed and out to steal our women and indoctrincate our children. You should know, you seem to bring it up every other day.

FYI, I objected to the post as it exists - and it's trying to lampoon Islam. If it had been trying to lampoon Christianity, maybe I would have objected to that, too. Maybe not. Whatever the case, it's not really germane to the discussion.

Objecting to things that actually exist in the real world; you should give a try sometime, instead of scrounging around for anemic neoliberal caricatures.
posted by smoke at 10:00 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where I come from, in addition to meaning to mark for attention, the verb "to flag" also means to consider unimportant or ignore, so "flag it and move on" is tautological.
posted by doublehappy at 10:22 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The post should be sacked for the unadorned Pasta Blue if nothing else. That the only thing thats there is the pre-teen-esque button pushing of FSM deserves this call out.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:27 PM on August 1, 2011


It seems particularly offensive given that many people are starving to death this Ramadan season in East Africa.

But as I said in thread, thin fucking soup of an FPP, insults the faith of a billion people, and isn't even funny. I still think it deserves belated deletion.
posted by spitbull at 10:46 PM on August 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


There's also the fact that that thread is full of pasta puns, which is liabke to get a risi out of anybody.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:57 PM on August 1, 2011


I personally use "it breaks the guidelines" for most of my flagging. Because the guidelines are that things should be good, and the things I flag are bad. Like this post.

I'm not really buying all the "offense" here- it's barely even about Islam. The whole "joke" is about two words that happen to sound alike. But it's a sucky link to a sucky site that's not funny or interesting.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:33 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: the flagging system is a big sham here
posted by finite at 11:40 PM on August 1, 2011


The strength of the FSM is its bluntness. in a wider context, when the world is full of religious nuts, it can be both a good weapon and a way of letting off steam. It's an atheist code, a geek joke like Discordianism, and a way to point out that, seriously, all religions are pretty silly.

We don't need it here, though. MeFi is a pretty smart place, and there's usually a higher level of discussion. When you're out in the world you need blunt weapons. Not so much here.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:52 PM on August 1, 2011


Smoke, your first paragraph is factually wrong, your second paragraph makes my point for me and your third paragraph is unintelligible. Other than that, spot on.
posted by joannemullen at 12:08 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


How is this not a form of racism? (Even if people from different ethnic backgrounds follow the teachings of Islam)

More importantly, how are things like this not a match to the tinderbox that is Europe regarding the whole subject?
posted by infini at 12:31 AM on August 2, 2011


Actually Lovecraft, every political mefi thread should come with a complimentary blunt








........weapon.
posted by mannequito at 12:34 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


well, I meant to write religious there, but political will do.

/re-lights blunt
posted by mannequito at 12:35 AM on August 2, 2011


Stop insulting our religion.

Perhaps we should stop making negative comments about the government of China if a poll finds citizens dislike that, too.
posted by rodgerd at 1:05 AM on August 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Flagging a post isn't saying "DELETE THIS NOW, MOD!" and any expectation that that will be the result of your flag is misguided. When you flag a post you're saying "Hey Mod, Look at this!" and you bet your bottom dollar—they'll look at it. Whether or not it gets deleted from there, well, that's determined on a post-by-post basis.

Also, you're a sham.


I think there's enough flaggers in here for you to realize that it wasn't ONE flag. It was SEVERAL that were ignored. How many several...that's for the mods to hide, and for us to guess at.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:40 AM on August 2, 2011


Metafilter: the flagging system is a big sham here
posted by finite at 11:40 PM on August 1 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


I got your back, finite.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:42 AM on August 2, 2011


Smoke, your first paragraph is factually wrong, your second paragraph makes my point for me and your third paragraph is unintelligible. Other than that, spot on.

You say that. But all I hear is "A dingo ate my baby".
posted by hal_c_on at 1:45 AM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ok. I'm outta here.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:46 AM on August 2, 2011


She discussed results of an international poll of Muslims asking them what they most wanted of the West...
Stop insulting our religion.


I just posted a question in askmefi about Ramdan -- got a few answers. I only clicked on this fpp because I was excited to see someone posting something about Ramadan on the blue!




Silly me.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:50 AM on August 2, 2011


sp. (!) Ramadan, Ramadan
posted by Surfurrus at 1:51 AM on August 2, 2011


I listened to a Canadian radio program over the weekend which featured Karen Armstrong.
She discussed results of an international poll of Muslims asking them what they most wanted of the West.

Was it:
Stop stealing our oil?
Stop invading us?
Stop killing hundreds of innocent civilians in hopes of being able to murder a single individual you think may have been a terrorist?
Stop supporting brutal dictatorships which kill and torture thousands of our sons and daughters?

No.
It was:
Stop insulting our religion.


Hell's bells... really?

I mean... this would have been a better FPP on it's own probably - this I would like to talk about. I am simultaneously baffled and fascinated. There is a mindset right there that I do not understand - I don't think many of us do, by the looks of this thread and the other, and I'd love to go into it deeper.
posted by greenish at 3:12 AM on August 2, 2011


I mean... this would have been a better FPP on it's own probably - this I would like to talk about. I am simultaneously baffled and fascinated. There is a mindset right there that I do not understand - I don't think many of us do, by the looks of this thread and the other, and I'd love to go into it deeper.

It is the mindset of the Middle Ages.

Today the little 7 year olds in the class I attended were passing out at their desks. Groggy and lethargic in the heat and humidity.

"Is it right for such young children to be fasting? They are still growing."
"It is their personal choice."

Yeah, like their personal choice to be Muslims. A religion they cannot freely leave. And like all the women here who cover their hair, I've been told multiple times that this is a "personal choice" and yet have never seen a Malay woman here out of her mandated garb.

If I smoked up my kids, and told you that it was their personal choice to be Rastafarians like me, I would be accused of child abuse.

What Islam needs is a radical reformation, such that personal choice can enter into it.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:32 AM on August 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


I listened to a Canadian radio program over the weekend which featured Karen Armstrong.

She discussed results of an international poll of Muslims asking them what they most wanted of the West...


Not to turn this into the Blue or anything, but, um - was it possibly a bit more complicated than that?

The likeliest-sounding candidate for an 'international poll of Muslims' that mentions perceptions of Islam in the West would be the Gallup poll of the Muslim world, which was massive and far-reaching. The results were published a few years ago as Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think. Karen Armstrong has reviewed it very positively and said it "should be required reading for policy makers, journalists, broadcasters, teachers, students, and scholars", so I'd guess it's the poll she's talking about.

But the Gallup poll isn't just "Out of a list of these bad things The West has done to Muslims, what's the worst in your opinion?" or "What would you rather we stopped doing, insulting you or supporting dictators?" It's not that at all. It's a huge, wide-ranging study on beliefs and attitudes across the Muslim world, that doesn't attempt to reduce the world's Muslims to one single, monolithic body of thought, and reveals that overwhelmingly the world's Muslims don't think of 'the West' as a monolithic entity either.

Gallup's press release of the book is worth a read. I'm guessing that at a stretch - at a really stretchy stretch, if you really wanted to - that's where you could get 'Muslims want us to stop insulting Islam more than they care about anything else we do!' from. Specifically:
"Muslims around the world say that the one thing the West can do to improve relations with their societies is to moderate their views toward Muslims and respect Islam."
If you read that out of context, I kind of see how you could maybe at a stretch get to 'The Muslims care more about people insulting Islam than they do about people bombing their countries!'. But viewing it in context:
"Muslims around the world do not see the West as monolithic. They criticize or celebrate countries based on their politics, not based on their culture or religion."

"What Muslims around the world say they most admire about the West is its technology and its democracy -- the same two top responses given by Americans when asked the same question."

"What Muslims around the world say they least admire about the West is its perceived moral decay and breakdown of traditional values -- the same responses given by Americans when posed the same question."
A question asking something like "which one thing could populations of Western countries, in general, do to improve understanding and good relations between Western societies and Muslim societies?" isn't the same as "which one thing would you like The West to stop doing to Muslims?", especially in context of a poll which is already claiming that Muslims largely don't see the West as monolithic, and judge countries based on their politics rather than their culture or religion (which would, presumably, include whether or not they're 'The West').

Agreed that the poll results probably would make a fascinating FPP, assuming there was a lot more of them publically available online than the precis in Gallup's press release. Very much disagreed that converting the poll into a Daily Mail-esque email forward about how Muslims care more about people insulting Islam than they do about murders, wars and dictators is a good idea, for MeFi or for anywhere else.
posted by Catseye at 3:32 AM on August 2, 2011 [55 favorites]


Strongly agree with your comment, Catseye. Very insightful. Thank you.
posted by vincele at 3:45 AM on August 2, 2011


Ok. I'm outta here.

And yet your profile is still active.
posted by hippybear at 4:02 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is the mindset of the Middle Ages.

To be honest, that's my feeling too, Meatbomb, but I'd be keen to hear more of the reasoning behind those who think the opposite, you know?
posted by greenish at 4:28 AM on August 2, 2011


My god. It's full of GRAR.
posted by schmod at 5:08 AM on August 2, 2011


It seems particularly offensive given that many people are starving to death this Ramadan season in East Africa.

Not just that, but I just tried to get reservations at my favourite restaurants for iftar tonight. Guess what? They're fully booked for the rest of the week! In this context, I find all jokes about Ramadan offensive.
posted by atrazine at 5:08 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb, I lived there from 1970 through high school to visiting parents during holidays up until 1986 when they moved south to Singapore. Over the decades of developing 'ASEAN tigerhood' I have seen the increasing 'islamicization' of society with the most recent visit being two years ago after a significant gap of about 15 years. This is not the open, multiethnic, multicultural milieu I grew up in - interestingly, I saw it still in Jakarta last year, and yes it has been seen as going backwards rather than forwards. Perhaps it is the response(ref 1) to increasing globalization of culture (and concurrent consumerism) but the fact remains that no, there is no personal choice. If you're interested in seeing how two different yet similar societies dealt with the May 1969 issue, then observing the responses of Singapore since then provide a contrast.

ref 1:

Monshipouri (2005) argues at the dawn of the twenty-first century, the Muslim world faces many challenges, but none more formidable than the issue of how to strike a balance between maintaining cultural integrity and religious identity on the one hand, and absorbing changes associated with a globalizing world on the other. Broadly speaking, three reactions to globalization and its consequences can be discerned in the Muslim world. Some Muslims view globalization as a power game from which great powers draw immense gains and to which the rest of the world is subjugated. To them, Muslims have two choices: either resist by means of "denying", "Ignoring", "fighting", and "establishing an alternative Islamic state" or be marginalized and integrated. The new era of transformation, so runs the argument, is "an old wine in a new bottle". They argue that social movements, Islamic or otherwise, represent a collective form of resistance to globalization and that they are invariably intertwined with the rise of counter-hegemonic consciousness. Others see globalization as an evolutionary and irreversible process to which all human societies must adjust. Monshipouri (2005) states that today's technological changes have become the so-called "a tail that wags the dog", That is, individual members of the society have no choice but to adjust to modern times and its accompanying changes. The key to protecting one's security and balance vis-à-vis the onslaught of globalization is accommodation-not resistance. From this point of view, concepts such as democracy, modernity, secularity, liberalism, and human rights including women rights can be compatible with Islamic law and principle. And the other Muslim's scholars suppose the process of globalization has brought the new social demands that are not defined in, and in some cases contradict with Islamic traditions. So, there is a comprehensive need to evaluate the Muslims' orientation for running the society. Such scholars strongly oppose with interfering religion in politic, and they reject having any Islamic state; they believe that the “religious democracy'' is a confusing paradox.
~ Intercultural challenges in the space of Globalization:How Muslims react to the global flows, University of Helsinki
posted by infini at 5:12 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Infini - that's exactly what I'm talking about - a fascinating read. more of this rather than the jokes maybe?
posted by greenish at 5:17 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


greenish, i hear you and thought about this but am trying to ignore the call ;p until i have finished an 1800 word article due today US time but already late ;p
posted by infini at 5:47 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still think it deserves belated deletion.

What a great spoonerism! Delated baleetion!
posted by BeerFilter at 5:51 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the level of snide, casual, generalized stereotyping and derision routinely expressed toward Muslims (or for that matter Christians, joannemullen has a point, and mea culpa for my own hypocrisy on this latter point at times) here on MeFi were ever directed at, say, LGBT people, the MeFi language police and the PC enforcement squad would be bullying and shaming the offenders into submission right and left in this thread with cheers from the peanut gallery of grar-mongers.

There are a billion Muslims on the planet. I guess they are all the same, devoid of individuality, trapped in ignorance, caught in the "Middle Ages," steeped in superstition and prejudice, deserving of blanket condemnation for believing what they do or imposing their beliefs on their own children.

We have Muslim members of MeFi, in case anyone has forgotten. I wonder how they feel reading this thread, or the thread that precipitated this MeTa. I do hope one or two of those folks show up in this thread to comment. LOLMuslims is cool here, though, amirite?

Would it really cost us too much -- OMG no more lame pasta jokes! NOOOOO! --- to show a little respect toward their faith and culture?
posted by spitbull at 5:53 AM on August 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


the MeFi language police and the PC enforcement squad would be bullying and shaming the offenders into submission right and left in this thread with cheers from the peanut gallery of grar-mongers.

I actually agree with your main point, but this does you no favors.
posted by kmz at 6:23 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


(Also, I'm not too fond of the original post, but why the fuck is everybody talking about the FSM?)
posted by kmz at 6:33 AM on August 2, 2011


> We have Muslim members of MeFi, in case anyone has forgotten. I wonder how they feel reading this thread, or the thread that precipitated this MeTa.

I'm not the person to speak on behalf of anybody but myself, but I suspect that during Ramadan, many of the practicing Muslim members of MeFi are abstaining from idle distractions such as MetaFilter, and after sundown they have better things to do with their remaining waking hours than check in on MeTa graar threads.
posted by ardgedee at 6:36 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


spitbull: "If the level of snide, casual, generalized stereotyping and derision routinely expressed toward Muslims (or for that matter Christians, joannemullen has a point, and mea culpa for my own hypocrisy on this latter point at times) here on MeFi were ever directed at, say, LGBT people, the MeFi language police and the PC enforcement squad would be bullying and shaming the offenders into submission right and left in this thread with cheers from the peanut gallery of grar-mongers. "

Familiarity helps in such cases. GLBT and women's issues may be closer to home for many of us. But I suspect many MeFites (and perhaps this applies to many people in Western countries,) don't have a lot of direct experience with Muslims of mainstream observance and their beliefs.

Unfortunately, Islamic, Christian and Jewish religious practices often only ever make the news when they're being voiced by extremists. You'll see twenty articles about homophobic, quasi-misogynistic, scandal-plagued Christian or Jewish extremists, or about suicidal jihadist Muslims, before seeing anything positive. And on some level it's good that the crazy fundamentalists should have the full, bright light of day shine on them. But it gives a warped impression.
posted by zarq at 6:40 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


To clarify, what I mean by this is that the fundamentalists become representative of the majority in the minds of many, even though they are not really indicative of the beliefs of the whole. The loudest voices are the ones that attract the most attention.
posted by zarq at 6:42 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps we should stop making negative comments about the government of China if a poll finds citizens dislike that, too.

Comparing a religion with millions of different variations to a monolithic totalitarian government is... kind of exactly the sort of thing Muslims are complaining about.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:43 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Today the little 7 year olds in the class I attended were passing out at their desks. Groggy and lethargic in the heat and humidity.

"Is it right for such young children to be fasting? They are still growing."
"It is their personal choice."
"

Huh. My Muslim friends don't let their kids fast. You're not supposed to do it if there are health risks (though it's very much a weird peer pressure thing), so, like, one of my parents' neighbors who's both diabetic and Muslim doesn't fast for Ramadan. Likewise, children and pregnant women — some of the guys down at the auto shop (who are a handful of Muslims from all over the world) say they don't even think women should fast in general, unless they're "really strong women."

Not that these guys necessarily speak for any orthodox Islamic understanding, just odd how norms differ.
posted by klangklangston at 6:45 AM on August 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


If the level of snide, casual, generalized stereotyping and derision routinely expressed toward Muslims (or for that matter Christians, joannemullen has a point, and mea culpa for my own hypocrisy on this latter point at times) here on MeFi were ever directed at, say, LGBT people, the MeFi language police and the PC enforcement squad would be bullying and shaming the offenders into submission right and left in this thread with cheers from the peanut gallery of grar-mongers.

But surely the language police and PC enforcement squad love Muslims and would be just as eager to bully and shame on their behalf as for LGBT rights, because they hate our Christianity and our family values?
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:46 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb: " Today the little 7 year olds in the class I attended were passing out at their desks. Groggy and lethargic in the heat and humidity.

"Is it right for such young children to be fasting? They are still growing."
"It is their personal choice."
"

Islamic requirements regarding fasting are similar to Jewish ones Children are not required to fast until they reach puberty. And Islamic law cleary says fasts should not be forced upon children that are only 7 years old. Also, fasting is always bypassable for health reasons.

Their teachers would seem to be in the wrong.
posted by zarq at 6:47 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


klangklangston: " Not that these guys necessarily speak for any orthodox Islamic understanding, just odd how norms differ."

The Quran gives alternatives to fasting for people who are unable to do so, either temporarily (due to say, pregnancy) or permanently (due to say, a chronic condition.) I believe one is either volunteering or making donations to charity.

Also, people who are unable to fast temporarily (or who skip a day or more) can make up for their missed fast days at a later date. So there's definitely flexibility.
posted by zarq at 7:00 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


So 12- and 13-year-olds are still coerced/pressured to fast, right? As someone who grew up being coerced/pressured to fast on Yom Kippur, Tisha b'Av, and several other days, fuck that. You want to believe in religion and even teach it to your kids, go ahead. I'm not going to stop you and I'll defend your right to do so. But I'm certainly going to mock your beliefs, just as I would mock the belief that tax cuts always pay for themselves or that the moon landing was a hoax.

I'm all for respecting Muslims, because Muslims are people and people deserve respect, but Islam itself? No. Not any more than any other religion. Islam should be mocked just as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and all the others should be mocked.
posted by callmejay at 7:01 AM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


IANAM

but when I was growing up, our neighbours were Indian Muslims (in Malaysia) and I knew that the best food was served for breaking the fast each evening. I also knew that age 7 was the starting point for keeping the fast though kids were encouraged to fast as practice, i.e. only as long as they were able, but that was the key age that the training started (then at puberty you were an adult etc etc). So the year I turned 7 I did this too copycatting the neighbours. Kids will make a competition out of anything ...
posted by infini at 7:03 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]



I'm all for respecting Muslims, because Muslims are people and people deserve respect, but Islam itself? No. Not any more than any other religion. Islam should be mocked just as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and all the others should be mocked.


People and their beliefs are two seperate things?
posted by infini at 7:04 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


The point of the FSM is to strip away the context of thousands of years of tradition from religious ideas and practice and straightforwardly re-apply those same ideas and practices in a context which is manifestly absurd, which should hopefully give religious people a new skeptical and humorous lens through which they can re-examine their own beliefs. I think Anton LaVey was trying something similar with the Church of Satan, but it took itself far to seriously and relied far too much on Christian symbolism.

It's not going to 'convert' the vast majority of religious people to atheism, but it is a useful rhetorical tool for atheists to use when engaging in debate with religious people of all kinds, should the situation come up. That is you can say: "The way you see Pastafarianism -- this is how I see all religion, and everything you see is humorous and mocking in Pastafarianism -- all of that is present in your own belief system."
posted by empath at 7:18 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


callmejay: "So 12- and 13-year-olds are still coerced/pressured to fast, right? As someone who grew up being coerced/pressured to fast on Yom Kippur, Tisha b'Av, and several other days, fuck that.

I agree with you that coercion is wrong.

However, I wouldn't have a problem with a kid being educated about the tradition, mildly encouraged to try it out by their parents, and then given a choice when they're old enough to make one. Say, at age 12 or 13. Which I believe is the experience most Jewish kids probably have, if their parents bother with it at all. Who are non-Orthodox and probably non-Conservative. Those more observant sects don't even make up a majority when combined.

IIRC, you grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home, yes? I grew up in a reform/conservative home where fasting was entirely optional. My dad didn't do it (chronic condition). My mom didn't either (didn't care.) I tried for a couple of years and then decided fasting simply wasn't important. And that was entirely okay in my house. Nor did any of my friends judge me for it -- at least not that I'm aware of.

I am aware that my experience isn't universal. But at the same time it seems obvious that degree of observance varies widely. Especially in Judaism, where specific traditions are given varying weight and importance from home to home.
posted by zarq at 7:28 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


empath : "I think Anton LaVey was trying something similar with the Church of Satan, but it took itself far to seriously and relied far too much on Christian symbolism. "

It's a lighter take on Russell's Teapot.
posted by zarq at 7:29 AM on August 2, 2011


infini:

People and their beliefs are two seperate things?

Considering that beliefs can be changed, I think that's obvious.


zarq,

Yes I grew up Orthodox. Obviously it's much less problematic when kids are given a choice in the matter, although I still think teaching them religion (as if it's true) isn't a great thing, given that religion is factually incorrect (unless it's been neutered to the point where it's unfalsifiable, as is occasionally the case.)
posted by callmejay at 7:36 AM on August 2, 2011


The point of the FSM is to strip away the context of thousands of years of tradition from religious ideas and practice and straightforwardly re-apply those same ideas and practices in a context which is manifestly absurd, which should hopefully give religious people a new skeptical and humorous lens through which they can re-examine their own beliefs.

I'm a theist and I have a FSM teeshirt. It's bright pink.

I still thought that was a stupid thread, though.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:38 AM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Discounting threads posted in the middle of the night, before a mod has had a chance to see it, how often has someone made a metatalk post that says "why is this post still here?" and the post in question was ultimately deleted?
posted by crunchland at 7:45 AM on August 2, 2011


... show a little respect toward their faith and culture?

My respect for Muslims' faith and culture precisely mirrors their respect for mine.
posted by Bruce H. at 7:48 AM on August 2, 2011


...so you asked all of them?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:56 AM on August 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


Bruce H. - could you expand?
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:57 AM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am Muslim. I won't comment on the stuff people say about Islam; I find those threads tend to reflect more on the commentators than the religion. So, no, I don't feel any need to defend my faith.

I will say, however, that fasting is not a commandment upon children until they hit puberty. In Pakistan, children were allowed to keep a half-fast, till noon. This was a favour for children from adults. Kids, you know, like to imitate grown ups. In Muslim families being grown up also means fasting. I put on my mother's lipstick when I was three and half-fasted (with added tins of pineapple) when I was six, and got to wake up in the middle of the night for a midnight feast. It's not a big omigod Islamofascistic deal.

Oh and I've never been pressured to fast. Not as a child, nor as an adolescent, nor as an adult. Yes, there's social pressure when you're in a Muslim environment, but there's also social pressure to have hairless legs. Whatever, on both counts.

Some families may enforce fasting for little children, but they're nutters. We all have them, you know.

Also I thought it was a stupid post, but, again, whatever. MetaFilter is big enough for stupid posts.

(The underlying theme of this comment is: can't be arsed. See, another Muslim stereotype broken.)
posted by tavegyl at 8:07 AM on August 2, 2011 [41 favorites]


The likeliest-sounding candidate for an 'international poll of Muslims' that mentions perceptions of Islam in the West would be the Gallup poll of the Muslim world, which was massive and far-reaching. The results were published a few years ago as Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think.

Armstrong (30m mark):
.... in a Gallup poll, recently, in thirty-five countries, people that were asked, "What is it you most admire about Western civilization?" And they said "Western freedom," and that was the bulk of it... and then said "What can the West do to make things better between" and they said "Stop insulting our religion," and that was the number one thing. It came ahead of interfering in their countries. It touches a core and you hear these uneducated remarks which are frankly embarassing to listen to.
Thanks for clarifying, Catseye!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:15 AM on August 2, 2011


Huh. My Muslim friends don't let their kids fast

When I lived in Singapore, one of the local malay comic strips had a memorable ramadan series where the non-fasting young child kept teasing the older fasting child (eating in front of him, etc), up until nightfall, when the young kid had to go to bed, while the older kid got to stay up, and return the teasing with all the special after-dark treats.
posted by nomisxid at 8:15 AM on August 2, 2011


The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is just another instance of atheists unwittingly exposing their abject ignorance of religion (as is Russell's Teapot). God is not just another thing among all the myriad things that exist within our universe. God is the very ground of being, that without which being itself would not be. (As you can see, the language for this is not really adequate.) If you want to know more, you might take a look at Paul Tillich's theological work on the nature of God.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:31 AM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


but there's also social pressure to have hairless legs.
In Muslim Community?
posted by clavdivs at 8:36 AM on August 2, 2011


It's amusing to see the FSM ideals get co-opted by attention-seeking jackasses in much the same way other religions were and continue to be. It actually serves their point which is more a comment on human nature rather than religion per se.
posted by euphorb at 8:43 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Honestly I thought FSM came directly out as a counter to the 'teach all valid theories!' strain of the getting-creationism-into-schools movement. I don't think the FSM is anti-religious, it's anti-stupid-argument-about-creationism-in-schools.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:52 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


God is not just another thing among all the myriad things that exist within our universe. God is the very ground of being, that without which being itself would not be.

That's all well and good, but as soon as you start adding anything religious to that which ascribes motivations and desires and actions to god, he becomes just another being and subject to the FSM treatment.
posted by empath at 8:58 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]



Not that these guys necessarily speak for any orthodox Islamic understanding, just odd how norms differ.

the Iraqi people I work with have a banquet at 5 o clock in the morning, and another one at night. They seem happy as usual.

also, our Iraqi children don't fast unless they are over 13 (optional), and they do drink juice.
posted by Tarumba at 8:59 AM on August 2, 2011


Just thought I'd let some people know that I overheard The Fox Five (the panel show that's currently replacing Glenn Beck) at my parents' house over the weekend, and a lot of the comments in here sound like their enlightened discussion about Sharia Law in the U.S.. I'm not going to say which comments, but I think it's pretty easy to figure out.
posted by codacorolla at 9:00 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


callmejay: " Yes I grew up Orthodox. Obviously it's much less problematic when kids are given a choice in the matter, although I still think teaching them religion (as if it's true) isn't a great thing, given that religion is factually incorrect (unless it's been neutered to the point where it's unfalsifiable, as is occasionally the case.)"

I tend to agree. Have been trying to find a balance regarding religion with my own kids.
posted by zarq at 9:05 AM on August 2, 2011


OK, I've combed over the stupid Ramendan site, and I'm still not seeing any FSM references. People liked noodles before Pastafarianism and people can still like noodles without being Pastafarians.
posted by kmz at 9:10 AM on August 2, 2011


OK, I've combed over the stupid Ramendan site, and I'm still not seeing any FSM references. People liked noodles before Pastafarianism and people can still like noodles without being Pastafarians.

kmz, I got all confused too. The FSM reference is in the jokey post title.
posted by millions of peaches at 9:14 AM on August 2, 2011


Crabby Appleton: "The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is just another instance of atheists unwittingly exposing their abject ignorance of religion (as is Russell's Teapot). God is not just another thing among all the myriad things that exist within our universe. God is the very ground of being, that without which being itself would not be. (As you can see, the language for this is not really adequate.) If you want to know more, you might take a look at Paul Tillich's theological work on the nature of God."

If that works for you, fine. To me it's just more like ontological hair-splitting and goalpost moving.
posted by Splunge at 9:29 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


if ya'll don't liek our freedom of speech here on metafiltur go take yr foriegn asses elsewhair
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:34 AM on August 2, 2011


Crabby Appleton - to you maybe. Keep an open mind, that the concept of god does not represent that to everyone, indeed, perhaps, most people.
posted by greenish at 9:36 AM on August 2, 2011


The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is just another instance of atheists unwittingly exposing their abject ignorance of religion (as is Russell's Teapot)... God is the very ground of being, that without which being itself would not be.

How dare you, sir? The FSM is the very ground of being, that without which being itself would not be. You must be listening to the fundamentalist Pastafarians.
posted by callmejay at 9:38 AM on August 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


... could you expand?

I respect the faith and culture of Muslims who respect my faith and culture.

I disrespect the faith and culture of Muslims in Saudi Arabia who prohibit the importation of Bibles. I disrespect the faith and culture of Muslims in Dearborn, MI, who can't tolerate Christian preachers at their public festivals. I disrespect the faith and culture of Muslims in Afghanistan who make converting to Christianity a capital crime. I disrespect the faith and culture of Muslims in Pakistan who make blapheming the Prophet a capital crime.
posted by Bruce H. at 9:52 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crabby Appleton: "The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is just another instance of atheists unwittingly exposing their abject ignorance of religion (as is Russell's Teapot). God is not just another thing among all the myriad things that exist within our universe. God is the very ground of being, that without which being itself would not be. (As you can see, the language for this is not really adequate.) If you want to know more, you might take a look at Paul Tillich's theological work on the nature of God."

Do you really think that the morons who promote the teaching of Intelligent Design as science in schools are Tillich supporters? Plus, his ontological analysis and personalism aren't exactly embraced by many Christians. And his rejection of Biblical literalism would probably be rejected by an additional subset regardless of the rest of his ideas.

Like Russell's teapot, the FSM is specifically directed at an audience that refuses to think critically.
posted by zarq at 9:52 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


blapheming -> blaspheming
posted by Bruce H. at 9:55 AM on August 2, 2011


I respect the faith and culture of Christians who respect my faith and culture. The problem is that I'm a liberal Christian who believes that Paul was a moron, Genesis 1 is a metaphor, Job is a fairy tale, and Revelation was a political screed about 1st century Rome. So not a lot of Christians respect my faith and culture.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:58 AM on August 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm all for respecting Muslims, because Muslims are people and people deserve respect, but Islam itself? No. Not any more than any other religion. Islam should be mocked just as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and all the others should be mocked.
posted by callmejay at 10:01 AM

So Christianity is fair game but Islam has to be respected?
posted by joannemullen at 12:44 AM


There were other comments like this but I can't find them atm. My response to this whole "well, people mock my beliefs (or X beliefs) so why should this be a special case?" is kind of missing the point. I don't think we, as a supposedly intelligent community, should be mocking any religious beliefs or religions in-and-of-themselves.

Sure, if some particular sect or whatever of a particular religion does something asinine/dangerous/offensive (i.e. clergy abusing children/covering it up, Westboro Baptist or any other denomination spreading hatred and bigotry, a particular group of extremists propagating "terrorism" (however you wish to define that), trying to force religious beliefs on people and banning solid, science (i.e. Intelligent Design fiasco in Kansas), then go for it. Mock the particular stupid activity and its religious context. But why the hell are we mocking religions as a whole and painting entire swaths of people with one (lazy) swoop? How does the religious observance of Ramadan deserve mocking? And why is it considered "Liberal" or "PC" to NOT mock something for no particular reason at all?

I think that people who are pretending that they have no underlying feelings against Muslims but are A-OK with mocking them (I'm not referring to the people who are just meh about it but those who feel "IT'S MY RIGHT TO MOCK THEM. HOW DARE YOU TRY TO STOP ME, YOU LIBERAL PC UNPATRIOTIC BASTARD!") seem to have some underlying hatred/bigotry/agenda against Muslims. I don't think they'd be so defensive about their right to mock, say, Buddhists meditating.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:07 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bruce H.: " I disrespect the faith and culture of Muslims in Dearborn, MI, who can't tolerate Christian preachers at their public festivals."

What a shame Pastor Terry Jones decided to skip the festival this year, choosing instead to protest on the streets of Dearborn wearing a t-shirt that said "Everything I needed to learn about Islam, I learned on 9-11." Note that Terry is the same guy who tried to found "International Burn a Quran Day" last year, and a few months ago announced he wanted to put the Prophet Muhammad on trial for crimes against humanity.

This was not his first trip to Dearborn, either. Last year, he protested outside city hall and got arrested, along with three other upstanding citizens. The charges against the rest were dropped.

But hey, I'm sure he's an anomaly. Oh, wait....

Tolerance shouldn't be one-sided. And neither side should be making the other live in fear.
posted by zarq at 10:10 AM on August 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


I disrespect the faith and culture of Muslims in Saudi Arabia who prohibit the importation of Bibles.

That's Saudi politics. That's not Islam.

I disrespect the faith and culture of Muslims in Dearborn, MI, who can't tolerate Christian preachers at their public festivals.

Please clarify the details about this incident.

I disrespect the faith and culture of Muslims in Afghanistan who make converting to Christianity a capital crime.

That's Afghani politics. That's not Islam.

I disrespect the faith and culture of Muslims in Pakistan who make blapheming the Prophet a capital crime.

That's Pakistani politics. That's not Islam.

So it seems that what you disrespect is...the governments of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Governments =/= religion.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:11 AM on August 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


And just as a general aside, it was a weak post on it's own accord, not to mention the whole way it's set up to mock Muslims and become a GRAR fest (I've seen numerous threads, often much more substantial and intelligent, deleted because it was foreseen as causing GRAR or inciting heated arguments).
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:12 AM on August 2, 2011


[replace it with something along the lines of LOLWOMEN/LOLFEMINISM or anything surrounding gender or even something as inane as declawing cats and see how fast THAT would get deleted]
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:13 AM on August 2, 2011


Because parody is sometimes fun.

Because not everyone believe religious beliefs need be respected?

posted by cjorgensen at 1:38 AM on August 2


Mainly this.
posted by Decani at 10:17 AM on August 2, 2011


Governments =/= religion.

In a theocracy, not so much. The governments you mention have a specific religious mission and claim to get their right to rule from God, more or less. I think you can refer to those actions as religious actions, absolutely. Saudia Arabia doesn't tar Islam as a whole, but the Saudi government is definitely acting as Muslims, just like the Israeli government acts as Jews and the British monarchy acts as Christians.
posted by KathrynT at 10:19 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sure, if some particular sect or whatever of a particular religion does something asinine/dangerous/offensive... then go for it. Mock the particular stupid activity and its religious context. But why the hell are we mocking religions as a whole and painting entire swaths of people with one (lazy) swoop?

You seem to be assuming that it's only some particular sects which are problematic. In fact, nearly all sects of all religion teach both that certain falsehoods are true and that people should think in a way that lets them continue to believe in those falsehoods. The majority of religions include among these falsehoods various claims like homosexuality is immoral, women are lesser in various ways compared to men, etc. etc. (Yes, a minority in several religions have abandoned such claims, although Islam is not, to my knowledge one of those religions.)

You accused me (among others) of having "some underlying hatred/bigotry/agenda against Muslims" so I will just say that I have mocked Christianity and Judaism far more than I have mocked Islam. You are simply wrong about that.

I don't understand why religious beliefs should be treated any differently from other obviously false and harmful beliefs. Yes, your average Muslim isn't a terrorist and your average Christian isn't Pat Robertson, but that doesn't mean that their beliefs are harmless.
posted by callmejay at 10:24 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "So it seems that what you disrespect is...the governments of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Governments =/= religion.
"

Errrr....

So, all of them are Islamic theocracies. Which means that their governments' religion of choice has a great deal to say in what laws are or aren't passed, and what rights their citizens enjoy. You can't simply separate the two completely in any of those three countries.

Saudi Arabia's an Islamic Monarchy, and their constitution has been declared to be the Quran and the Sunna. The King and the laws of the land are governed by Sharia law.

Afghanistan's an Islamic Republic which until recently was run by the Taliban, a fundamentalist religious group.

Pakistan is a "democratic parliamentary federal republic with Islam as the state religion" (thank you, Wikipedia.)
posted by zarq at 10:25 AM on August 2, 2011


The governments you mention have a specific religious mission and claim to get their right to rule from God, more or less. I think you can refer to those actions as religious actions, absolutely.

I think the fact that you say the governments claim their right to rule from God "more or less" undermines the ability to refer to those actions as religious actions "absolutely."

The governments you mention may draw their inspiration from their religions -- but they do not make those decisions on behalf of all followers OF that religion. They do it for their citizenry. And, the only reason those decisions get implemented is because they have political power, not because of their religious validity. In other words: put a different guy with a different interpretation of the Qu'ran in there, and the Saudis would have a different policy on whether you can import the Christian Bible.

Ergo: governments =/= religions.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:26 AM on August 2, 2011


It seems like it would be hard to blame or credit religion for anything, then.
posted by ODiV at 10:32 AM on August 2, 2011


I don't understand why religious beliefs should be treated any differently from other obviously false and harmful beliefs. Yes, your average Muslim isn't a terrorist and your average Christian isn't Pat Robertson, but that doesn't mean that their beliefs are harmless.
posted by callmejay at 1:24 PM

You're operating under the (false) premise that religious beliefs are inherently harmful. In my opinion, there are plenty of good, religious people who have beliefs that are not harmful. Plenty of people (probably the majority, actually) who are 'religious' aren't the types who believe gays are bad, women are unequal and below men, etc. etc. Some people simply use religion to connect to God and to give them a view of the world (you might say that it's their way of "coping" with the world if you're an Atheist, or if you're religious, you might say that it's their true experience of God). Maybe some people here have had horrible experiences with religion or religious people (particularly those in the US?). Not everyone has had the same bad experiences.

As a gay male, I've had some FANTASTIC experiences here in Canada with the United Church (nothing to do with Unitarians in the US). They even sent me to "gay camp"--a spiritual retreat to embrace the "gift" of being gay with other gay people (including a sweet lesbian couple celebrating 40 years together!). There was no hatred, no desire to convert us to "straight" or tell us we were evil. And to top it off, the church actually paid for me to go and stay in a beautiful retreat on the lake. It was an amazing experience. Ultimately, I left the church because I couldn't really subscribe to the Christian beliefs, but I will always remember those experiences and the people fondly, including an amazing and supportive team of pastors who really helped me when my father passed away--coming over to our house at the last minute to pray with us and give us comfort, in a not particularly "religious" way.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:34 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: " The governments you mention may draw their inspiration from their religions -- but they do not make those decisions on behalf of all followers OF that religion. They do it for their citizenry. And, the only reason those decisions get implemented is because they have political power, not because of their religious validity.

Political power is validity in those countries. If the Supreme Court of Afghanistan dictates that women must wear burkhas (which did indeed happen) and bases that ruling on their interpretation of Sharia law, then it doesn't matter whether the religion's followers agree or not. They had to follow the law or face the consequences: flogging.

When religious law is being enacted and enforced by government authority, the two are essentially inseparable.

In other words: put a different guy with a different interpretation of the Qu'ran in there, and the Saudis would have a different policy on whether you can import the Christian Bible."

This is no different from any other religious authority. Rabbis, imams, Bishops, Cardinals and the Pope interpret and at times adapt their respective religions to fit specific circumstances.
posted by zarq at 10:34 AM on August 2, 2011


I think the Empress is talking about religions as a personal beliefs and you are talking about religions as institutions.
posted by ODiV at 10:36 AM on August 2, 2011


> In other words: put a different guy with a different interpretation of the Qu'ran in there, and the Saudis would have a different policy on whether you can import the Christian Bible."

This is no different from any other religious authority. Rabbis, imams, Bishops, Cardinals and the Pope interpret and at times adapt their respective religions to fit specific circumstances.


Yeah, except when the Pope makes a decision it affects all Catholics -- but when the King of Saudi Arabia makes a decision it only affects Saudis. The religious opinions of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz do not affect a Muslim living in this country. That's why I draw the line between religions and governments -- even if those governments are theocracies.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:38 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


ODiV: "I think the Empress is talking about religions as a personal beliefs and you are talking about religions as institutions."

If I understand correctly, she's arguing that laws enacted by a theocracy shouldn't in any way be considered representative of their official religion, but should merely be considered politics.

That makes no sense to me.
posted by zarq at 10:40 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


It makes sense to me because those in political power are "interpreting" religious scripture, etc. in a particular way (i.e. in a way that backs up their own beliefs and political agenda), so it doesn't really speak to the religion. Many of these theocratic leaders are perverting religion in order to suit their political purposes and give them power/keep them in power. So, one could argue, that they're not really operating under religious beliefs but merely the facade of religion.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:43 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're operating under the (false) premise that religious beliefs are inherently harmful. In my opinion, there are plenty of good, religious people who have beliefs that are not harmful. Plenty of people (probably the majority, actually) who are 'religious' aren't the types who believe gays are bad, women are unequal and below men, etc. etc.

I agree that there are plenty of good, religious people. Some of the best people I know are religious. Their religious beliefs, though, are at least factually incorrect and whether an incorrect belief is "inherently harmful" or not, I think mockery is fair. Obviously you don't go to someone's funeral and shout that there is no heaven, but creating a mock religious observance to poke fun at an actual one? Why the hell not? It says to the casual religious person who may not have seriously considered alternatives that there's something silly and arbitrary about their beliefs and that they should reconsider them.
posted by callmejay at 10:44 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: " Yeah, except when the Pope makes a decision it affects all Catholics -- but when the King of Saudi Arabia makes a decision it only affects Saudis. The religious opinions of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz do not affect a Muslim living in this country. That's why I draw the line between religions and governments -- even if those governments are theocracies."

By this metric, various Synods aren't real religious bodies with any authority because they only affect one branch of Christians.

The Pope's subjects are Catholics. Not all Catholics, mind you. Just Roman Catholics. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudia Arabia's subjects are Saudi citizens. Both have religious authority over their subjects.
posted by zarq at 10:45 AM on August 2, 2011


Many of these theocratic leaders are perverting religion in order to suit their political purposes and give them power/keep them in power.

Why is it a "perversion" of religion to use it like the dictators do but not to use it like the pro-gay Christians do? Isn't that arbitrary of you?
posted by callmejay at 10:46 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Pope's subjects are Catholics.

Catholics aren't 'subjects' of the pope.
posted by empath at 10:47 AM on August 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Think of it this way: the American Constitution is a document like scripture. It has an almost mythical existence in US culture. Different people of different views (political stripes) try to interpret the constitution in different ways. Generally, whoever is in power (in various levels of government and the court systems) have the ability to interpret the Constitution in their own way.

Does this mean that everybody in the US interprets those documents in the same way? We can clearly see on this site that not all Americans interpret the constitution (for example) the same way that Obama or Bush would (or X judge/politician/senator/etc.). So it would be sort of weird to mock all Americans based on a particular ruling party's interpretation of the Constitution as if everyone believed the same way.

Yes, it's not an apples to apples comparison exactly, but I think it gets my point across (however roughly).
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:49 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, shit, griphus, this post (which I thought at first must have been from The Onion) is still up. Go figure.

Are you serious? That was a pretty involved and introspective article that touched on some very interesting issues and internal contradictions. Had it been an actual Onion article... well, I don't the Onion would ever write an article joking about women who are jealous they've never been harassed. But if it had been written then posted to the blue, it would have been flagged to hell and back.

And of course now I remember you're pretty notorious on this site for your take on women's issues.

So, yeah. That was a totally cool article which I thought touched on a lot of interesting topics and brought up a lot of good discussion. It's an example of a good post within posts of its kind (first person blog/editorial style, touchy subject, single link post).
posted by Deathalicious at 10:49 AM on August 2, 2011


The Pope's subjects are Catholics. Not all Catholics, mind you. Just Roman Catholics. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudia Arabia's subjects are Saudi citizens. Both have religious authority over their subjects.
posted by zarq at


Not really, because Catholics choose to voluntarily follow the Pope. Saudi citizens don't have that choice.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:50 AM on August 2, 2011


They even sent me to "gay camp"

Wait, did they send you or did you choose to go to the camp? Maybe just a weird choice of wording?
posted by Deathalicious at 10:50 AM on August 2, 2011


empath : " Catholics aren't 'subjects' of the pope."

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Popes throughout the history of the Catholic Church have infrequently declared that Roman Catholics living in other countries are Catholics first, and citizens of the nations in which they resided second. See the history of Queen Elizabeth I, for example.
posted by zarq at 10:51 AM on August 2, 2011


By this metric, various Synods aren't real religious bodies with any authority because they only affect one branch of Christians.

I think it's fair to say that very few Synods have temporal authority - a synod cannot change the tax rate of the country it is meeting in. It cannot mobilise an army.

It's legitimately amazing that you are calling Catholics subjects of the Pope, zarq. For your edification, American Catholics are American citizens. They are not a fifth column. Until resurrected here, that ideology had, I think, largely been abandoned after the Nativist and Anti-Catholic American party disbanded. John F Kennedy was not a subject of the Pope. The laws passed by John F Kennedy are not Catholic laws.

Likewise, I'm sorry, KathrynT, but you seem to be making some really odd arguments:

1) That Israel and the United Kingdom are theocracies.
2) That the weak democracies of Pakistan and Afghanistan and the tribal monarchy of Saudi Arabia function in the same way, and also in the same way as the democracy of Israel and the constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy of the United Kingdom.
3) That it's OK to say "I dislike all Jews because of the actions of the state of Israel", which I think was the one thing everyone had agreed was not OK to do when it came to talking about Israel.
4) Or indeed "I dislike all Christians because Prince Charles committed adultery".
5) I mean, what?

Oh, and the doctrine of divine right was abandoned in the United Kingdom in the Glorious Revolution, over 300 years ago. The British royal family do not get their right to rule from God. Nor, to my knowledge, does the Israeli Knesset.

The other important element here, of course, is that, in common with most propagandists, Bruce's facts aren't very accurate or up-to-date. The state of Afghanistan as it currently exists has not actually executed anyone for converting to Christianity, although there have been some near misses and on current evidence it's not a great idea - the most recent case is covered here. People have been killed for proselytizing in Afghanistan, sure - but primarily by the Taliban, who I think are generally agreed to be the bad guys. Likewise, if you are trying to hold up the House of Saud as the poster children of observant Islam, you are in all likelihood an idiot.

As far as I can tell, though, Bruce's issue is not with Islam, or with Muslims in general - it is specifically with people who prevent Christian proselytizing. In which case, he's angry with a fairly small number of people and taking it out on a billion people. Not very smart.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:52 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Popes stopped doing that a few hundred years ago because it kept getting Catholics killed or otherwise persecuted by non-Catholic governments.
posted by empath at 10:52 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seems like mefites should see the flagging process as pretty useless.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:48 AM on August 2


I would find it more useful if it were possible to see who flags, and how often, and for what reasons. I mean, I can usually take an educated guess if I've read enough of a person's posts - you know, he's a right flagger, that one - but it'd be nice to be able to accurately quantify the matter so I could see who are the complete and utter flaggers.
posted by Decani at 10:54 AM on August 2, 2011


Many of these theocratic leaders are perverting religion in order to suit their political purposes and give them power/keep them in power.

Why is it a "perversion" of religion to use it like the dictators do but not to use it like the pro-gay Christians do? Isn't that arbitrary of you?
posted by callmejay at 1:46 PM


I'm talking about using religion as a way to control and manipulate people. I was speaking of "perverting" religion for purposes of maintaining power over people, talking about power dynamics. So in my example, the "pro-gay Christians" aren't in any sort of power so there isn't really any perversion of power.

I agree that there are plenty of good, religious people. Some of the best people I know are religious. Their religious beliefs, though, are at least factually incorrect and whether an incorrect belief is "inherently harmful" or not, I think mockery is fair.


Except you don't know that their beliefs are "factually incorrect" because you don't know the beliefs of all Christians (or Muslims or Liberals/Republicans or whatever). There are a lot of Christians that believe in God but don't believe in any sort of literal interpretation of the bible. You can't really claim that their beliefs are "factually incorrect" (though that is likely the case) because you are assuming that: 1) there is no God/Jesus/whatever and 2) that all Christians believe in the literal interpretation of the bible (which, in my experience, very few do).
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:55 AM on August 2, 2011


Wait, did they send you or did you choose to go to the camp? Maybe just a weird choice of wording?
posted by Deathalicious at 1:50 PM


LOL good point! I meant "they sent me" because they paid for me to go and arranged for transportation, etc. but yes, of course I chose to go voluntarily :-)
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:56 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


empath : "Popes stopped doing that a few hundred years ago because it kept getting Catholics killed or otherwise persecuted by non-Catholic governments."

Have they now?

The Church, and specifically the current Pope, is still trying to interfere with this country's democratic process by threatening our elected leaders with religious sanctions if they don't comply with the Church's religious policies.
posted by zarq at 10:59 AM on August 2, 2011


Today the little 7 year olds in the class I attended were passing out at their desks. Groggy and lethargic in the heat and humidity.

There will always be disgusting people in the world.

My mom didn't let me fast until I was 9. Even then, I would get "half-fasts" where I would have a big breakfast...then I would have a half-fast-break at lunch...and then I would fast again till dinner.

Attributing the behavior of careless adults who force or allow their children to fast at 7 years of age to islam is like attributing david koresh's pedophilic cult to christianity.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:59 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps. Perhaps not. Popes throughout the history of the Catholic Church have infrequently declared that Roman Catholics living in other countries are Catholics first, and citizens of the nations in which they resided second. See the history of Queen Elizabeth I, for example.
posted by zarq at 1:51 PM


Except we're not talking about historical periods, we're talking about now. Here. Today. I don't think anyone could argue that the Pope has ultimate authority over all Catholics. I mean, he has no way to force people to follow his "rules". They would have to voluntarily choose to follow them. And the Church itself has limited its own coercion in recent years (such as excommunicating people). One could argue that such a threat could still hold power over some Catholics, but the Pope can't arrest anyone, tax them, enlist them in an army, etc. etc.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:59 AM on August 2, 2011


Like Russell's teapot, the FSM is specifically directed at an audience that refuses to think critically.

Zarq, since I don't know the history of the FSM, I'm willing to stipulate that it was originally invented for the purpose you describe. But once you release a meme like this, you don't really have a lot of control over its application and effects. Outside of its original context (whatever that was), it just looks like, and seems to function as, a simple mockery of religious belief.

Certainly the intellectual component of the religion adhered to by many believers is rather simplistic. This is not unexpected given that faith in God is the most (and, really, the only) important thing in religion. (My personal feeling is that God must find our pretensions to intellectual sophistication extremely amusing.) The problem is that this simplistic intellectual component has, uh, if you will, security vulnerabilities that make it vulnerable to the introduction of various pernicious trojans and viruses.

Of course, faith in God is the most vital and important thing to human beings—it must be preserved at all costs. So what can we do about the problem? I think an argument could be made that one should go in the direction of even more intellectual simplicity. It's difficult to imagine the three hermits in this story by Tolstoy picking up any memetic viruses. But those of us inclined by our misspent youth to value intellectual rigor are more inclined to go in the opposite direction.

Atheists, of course, are the intellectual heavy-weights of our time; they're always working out and constantly refining their rhetorical weapons. They mostly choose to utilize their extraordinary intellectual prowess to pick on the intellectually simplistic component of many folks' religions. They're full of excuses for evading confrontations with intellectually robust theology. When I was in school, we had words we used to describe the big strong kids who chose to pick on the weak ones and avoid fights with strong. You probably did too.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:01 AM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just too late for preview - oh wow. zarq, come on. This isn't like you. Your model for how modern Catholicism functions is Elizabeth I? A lot has changed since then. Jews are allowed to live in Britain now! As are Catholics! They can't marry the heir to the throne, admittedly, but nonetheless. Matter of time.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:02 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


In a theocracy, not so much. The governments you mention have a specific religious mission and claim to get their right to rule from God, more or less. I think you can refer to those actions as religious actions, absolutely. Saudia Arabia doesn't tar Islam as a whole, but the Saudi government is definitely acting as Muslims, just like the Israeli government acts as Jews and the British monarchy acts as Christians.

And how would you judge the US? I mean a christian bible is used in court, the christian god was used when the word "god" was used.

Your argument is VERY close to the argument about how the US is a christian theocracy.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:03 AM on August 2, 2011


agnostics have all the fun.
posted by clavdivs at 11:04 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Church, and specifically the current Pope, is still trying to interfere with this country's democratic process by threatening our elected leaders with religious sanctions if they don't comply with the Church's religious policies.

This is pure anti-Catholic bigotry straight out of the 19th century. The pope is free to express his opinion, but the Church is not a monolithic entity, and plenty of Catholic clergy and laity ignore him, as can be seen by the sheer number of Catholics that vote for pro-choice Democrats every election.
posted by empath at 11:05 AM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


god, i am sorry.
God: "yes, yes you are"

posted by clavdivs at 11:06 AM on August 2, 2011


Except you don't know that their beliefs are "factually incorrect" because you don't know the beliefs of all Christians (or Muslims or Liberals/Republicans or whatever). There are a lot of Christians that believe in God but don't believe in any sort of literal interpretation of the bible.

I think it's a pretty small minority of Christians who don't believe that Jesus came back from the dead.
posted by callmejay at 11:06 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think in general we can say that the relationship between political and religious power is a murky one. In countries like the United States, fortunately religion has no formal political weight (It certainly does shape politics, however). In countries where religious and political leadership overlap strongly, it becomes difficult to figure out just what is influencing what.

I think I can definitely say, however, that Islam, in and of itself, is not responsible for most of the restrictions that we see in place today in Islamic theocracies. If you look backwards to early Islamic civilizations, their general attitudes were often far more forward-looking than their Christian contemporaries.

My gut feeling is that these countries have somehow become more hardline and restrictive over the past few centuries. I'm honestly not sure that I can put my finger on how or why.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:06 AM on August 2, 2011


running order squabble fest: " It's legitimately amazing that you are calling Catholics subjects of the Pope, zarq. For your edification, American Catholics are American citizens. They are not a fifth column. Until resurrected here, that ideology had, I think, largely been abandoned after the Nativist and Anti-Catholic American party disbanded. John F Kennedy was not a subject of the Pope. The laws passed by John F Kennedy are not Catholic laws."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I'm not calling Catholics Fifth Columnists. Nor am I questioning their loyalties. (OK, I might be persuaded to complain about Antonin Scalia if pressed.) ;)

But there is a degree to which the Catholic Church can and has been influencing American politics for decades. The abortion movement in this country was initiated by American Catholic clergy in the 1970's, who turned it into a largely Christian religious issue for more than 30 years. We saw that the gay marriage amendment in California was influenced by the Church's efforts to some degree.

The Church is not a neutral player in American politics.
posted by zarq at 11:07 AM on August 2, 2011


And I think you don't seem to understand how it works. A comment in AskMe will get deleted with just a flag or two, sure. A post in MeFi doesn't always get deleted when it has a few flags. We have human moderators who make the final decisions. Human moderators who are available here for discussing the ins and outs of deletions. And we were sort of shruggo on the post and so we didn't delete it.

I really don't hear much discussion. In fact your whole argument basically says:

1. Flag anything you want.
2. Regardless of the number of flags, we will only delete it if us mods personally don't like it.

If i'm wrong, so are many of the other mefites here who expressed the same sentiments. I don't know if you are still available for discussion regarding this subject or not, but I know people would love to hear how many flags it received, or how many flags it takes to get the mods to delete it.

But I don't think thats how it works at all.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:07 AM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of course, faith in God is the most vital and important thing to human beings—it must be preserved at all costs.

You seem to be expressing a personal opinion as a fact.
posted by empath at 11:08 AM on August 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


empath : " This is pure anti-Catholic bigotry straight out of the 19th century. The pope is free to express his opinion, but the Church is not a monolithic entity, and plenty of Catholic clergy and laity ignore him, as can be seen by the sheer number of Catholics that vote for pro-choice Democrats every election."

Are you saying that the Church's threats are meaningless? That threatening to withhold communion or worse: excommunicate politicians who vote against Church doctrine doesn't happen? Because hey, read the link.
posted by zarq at 11:08 AM on August 2, 2011


2. Regardless of the number of flags, we will only delete it if us mods personally don't like it.

I don't think this is true. The mods have often left posts they obviously didn't personally like, but which didn't receive enough flags or grar to merit deletion.
posted by ODiV at 11:11 AM on August 2, 2011


Are you saying that the Church's threats are meaningless? That threatening to withhold communion or worse: excommunicate politicians who vote against Church doctrine doesn't happen? Because hey, read the link.

Speaking as an Irish lapsed-Catholic who went to Catholic school, and has a huge extended Catholic family who attends mass regular, and as someone who regularly talks to Catholic Priests -- most Catholics think threats along those lines are meaningless, and don't have very much respect for the current Pope.
posted by empath at 11:12 AM on August 2, 2011


I think it's a pretty small minority of Christians who don't believe that Jesus came back from the dead.
posted by callmejay


I don't really want to be pigeonholed into defending their beliefs but I'm just saying, who knows what is true or factual? Do we have any absolute proof that Jesus rose from the dead? No. Do I think he did? Hell no. Is it impossible? Very extremely likely. But who knows. That's sort of the point of faith, isn't it? We can say it's very very unlikely that Jesus rose from the dead, and that there is no factual evidence that he DID, but (such is the nature of religion) you can't necessarily prove the negative just like you can't prove the positive. Hence the matter of faith.

[Again, I don't believe he rose from the dead and I'm not even saying it's likely in the slightest, and there is absolutely no evidence IMO that he did rise from the dead, but that's not the same as saying it's 100% factually incorrect, especially when speaking to believers.]
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:14 AM on August 2, 2011


Which isn't to say that there isn't a hardcore of traditionalist catholics who do take the current Pope seriously, but most of them hated the last pope.
posted by empath at 11:14 AM on August 2, 2011


God, how did I end up becoming a Christian Apologist, when all I wanted to say was that we should stop mocking religions in general? lol
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:14 AM on August 2, 2011


1000monkeys: " I don't think anyone could argue that the Pope has ultimate authority over all Catholics. I mean, he has no way to force people to follow his "rules". They would have to voluntarily choose to follow them. And the Church itself has limited its own coercion in recent years (such as excommunicating people). One could argue that such a threat could still hold power over some Catholics, but the Pope can't arrest anyone, tax them, enlist them in an army, etc. etc."

I'm not arguing that he has absolute power. Obviously that's not the case.

But... (I'm totally simplifying here, but please bear with me a moment) the Church also teaches that the fate of one's immortal soul can be endangered by whether a person is a good or bad Catholic. And depending on how much one believes in Catholic doctrine, consigning someone's soul to hell can be a very potent threat indeed. Terrifying, perhaps?

Under Catholic theology, all Earthly punishments pale when placed in comparison to excommunication or the consignment to Hell, no?

If I were a devout Catholic -- a true believer -- I think I'd be pretty scared of being marked as a bad Catholic.
posted by zarq at 11:16 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really want to be pigeonholed into defending their beliefs but I'm just saying, who knows what is true or factual? Do we have any absolute proof that Jesus rose from the dead? No. Do I think he did? Hell no. Is it impossible? Very extremely likely. But who knows. That's sort of the point of faith, isn't it?

You seem to have an absurd standard for what you're willing to consider "factually incorrect."
posted by callmejay at 11:17 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're full of excuses for evading confrontations with intellectually robust theology.

Dude, all you did was link to Tillich on Wikipedia. If you want to engage people with your "intellectually robust theology," go for it and don't dance around it. I think it's pretty safe to say that the issues the FSM atheists have with religion has more to do with people that agree with Terry Jones than with people who have even heard of Paul Tillich.
posted by Hoopo at 11:18 AM on August 2, 2011


I guess the right way to think about Catholics and their relationship to the Pope (and church interference with politics in general), is that the pronouncements of the Pope matter a great deal to them when he agrees with what they already thought, and matter a great deal less to them when he disagrees with them.

For liberal Catholics, they care a lot about the church position on war, on torture, and on caring for the poor and so on, and less about abortion and reproductive rights. For conservative catholics, it's the opposite.
posted by empath at 11:19 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


zarq, I kinda get what you're saying but I don't think it's the same as the leaders in Saudi Arabi and other Theocracies. And I would think that most North American Catholics (the vast majority? At least based on my own anecdotal experience) do not believe that the Pope or even the Church has the ability to damn them to hell anymore. In fact, many Catholics that I know seem to have no problems disagreeing with the Pope and definitely don't think he is infallible. So, by your definition, the "true believers" would be such a small minority, that I would argue that the Catholic Church doesn't really have that much power any more.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:19 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


But... (I'm totally simplifying here, but please bear with me a moment) the Church also teaches that the fate of one's immortal soul can be endangered by whether a person is a good or bad Catholic. And depending on how much one believes in Catholic doctrine, consigning someone's soul to hell can be a very potent threat indeed. Terrifying, perhaps?

Under Catholic theology, all Earthly punishments pale when placed in comparison to excommunication or the consignment to Hell, no?

If I were a devout Catholic -- a true believer -- I think I'd be pretty scared of being marked as a bad Catholic.


Catholics don't believe that your fate in the afterlife is up to the Pope, or the Church. They don't believe that the Pope is infallible except on some very specific areas of church doctrine (which don't involve temporal politics), either.

I feel like your opinions of the Catholic Church is entirely based on Reformation-era pamphlets.
posted by empath at 11:22 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


You seem to have an absurd standard for what you're willing to consider "factually incorrect."
posted by callmejay at 2:17 PM


"fact/fakt/Noun
1. A thing that is indisputably the case."

I'm just saying that what you claim to be fact, i.e. that Jesus did not rise from the dead (and a belief that I happen to agree with), isn't considered to be a fact by a large number of people. And since you cannot 100% prove it as an indisputable fact, you can't really say that their belief is "factually incorrect" (as likely as that is). Perhaps a bit pedantic, but, well...I'm stuck here waiting for the courier guy to pick up my parcel :)
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:23 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


running order squabble fest: "Your model for how modern Catholicism functions is Elizabeth I? "

Nah. It was only the first example that occurred to me of the Church exerting their influence that way. (Yeah, I guess in retrospect it was kind of an outdated example.)

And yes, I do agree with you that the modern Church is very different today.
posted by zarq at 11:24 AM on August 2, 2011


*ugh, "and a belief that I happen to agree with" = your belief, i.e. that he did NOT rise from the dead, if that wasn't clear
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:25 AM on August 2, 2011


You seem to be expressing a personal opinion as a fact.

Actually, I'm stating a fact in a matter-of-fact way. But I observe that there are two types of people reading this: the ones who know that this is a fact, for whom my phraseology is unremarkable, and those who know that any such statement can only be a matter of opinion. When one makes a statement about something that can only be a matter of opinion, then one assumes that that statement represents their opinion. Or in other words, most people don't feel compelled to qualify every statement they make out the ying-yang. Ask callmejay if you don't believe me.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:27 AM on August 2, 2011


2. Regardless of the number of flags, we will only delete it if us mods personally don't like it.

Oh my god, you're right! cortex hates Lyndon LaRouche, jessamyn must not like posts about technology or AT&T or something, and even pb doesn't like stuff and deletes it just because.
posted by rtha at 11:27 AM on August 2, 2011


See, now THIS is something worthy of mocking. Not to mock all Christians, of course, but a certain subset who are in power (the Missouri School Board Trustees) who are using religion in order to interpet public policy. (Note: I didn't actually RTFA).
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:29 AM on August 2, 2011


zarq: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I'm not calling Catholics Fifth Columnists.

You are doing precisely that, although perhaps through innocence rather than malice. Let me remind you of what you said:

The Pope's subjects are Catholics. Not all Catholics, mind you. Just Roman Catholics. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudia Arabia's subjects are Saudi citizens. Both have religious authority over their subjects.

That is, the Pope is to Catholics as the King of Saudi Arabia is to Saudi Arabians. That's the position of the Know-Nothings - that you can't be an American and a Roman Catholic, because you do not owe your allegiance to America. You are the subject of another power.

What you might have been trying to say is something like:

The Pope has religious authority over Roman Catholics. The Archbishop of Canterbury has religious authority over Anglicans.

But that's not a very useful comparison, is it? Episcopalians are generally pretty benign, and nobody really cares about the Archbishop of Canterbury. Maybe:

The Pope has religious authority over Roman Catholics. The Ayatollah Khamenei has religious authority over mainstream Iranian Muslim clerics, and thus the practice of Islam in Iran.

But that doesn't quite work, either, because the Ayatollah Khamenei has considerable temporal authority also within a political structure of a nation. He is to all intents and purposes the most important person in Iran, so his authority is not the same as that of the Pope on, say, a Catholic schoolteacher in Detroit. He also has very limited religious authority outside Iran and its border states.

Deliberately or unintentionally, you muddy the waters hopeless, and use the language of nativist anti-Catholicism, by talking about "subjects".

If what you mean is "Roman Catholics might listen to what the Pope says and act accordingly, and the Catholic Church may fund enterprises I dislike and which seek to alter the politics of America, based on an ideology that comes from outside America" - sure. In that respect, it's like BP, say, or Fox News. I don't really see what that has to do with subjects. I think that phrase is not helping you.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:33 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Actually, I'm stating a fact in a matter-of-fact way.

You seem to not know what a fact is.
posted by empath at 11:33 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I even posted the definition :-/
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:36 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kinda get what you're saying but I don't think it's the same as the leaders in Saudi Arabi and other Theocracies. And I would think that most North American Catholics (the vast majority? At least based on my own anecdotal experience) do not believe that the Pope or even the Church has the ability to damn them to hell anymore.

Saudi leaders are notorious drinkers, gamblers, and womanizers. I doubt they are under the impression they're going to be damned for eternity as a result, and I think you are possibly making fairly large assumptions about those subject to religious theocracies.
posted by Hoopo at 11:37 AM on August 2, 2011


A fact is a true proposition.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:38 AM on August 2, 2011


At least based on my own anecdotal experience) do not believe that the Pope or even the Church has the ability to damn them to hell anymore.

They flat out don't believe this. According to the Church, you can get right with God any time up until the moment of death, with or without the Church being involved. Excommunication doesn't damn you to hell.
posted by empath at 11:39 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]



Saudi leaders are notorious drinkers, gamblers, and womanizers. I doubt they are under the impression they're going to be damned for eternity as a result, and I think you are possibly making fairly large assumptions about those subject to religious theocracies.
posted by Hoopo at 2:37 PM


Umm...I never made that assertion, though perhaps my wording was sloppy. I was addressing Zarq's comments re: the Church's power over its "subjects" not discussing anything about the Theocracies, other than to say that there is a different power dynamic. Hope that clears it up :)
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:40 AM on August 2, 2011


1000monkeys: "It makes sense to me because those in political power are "interpreting" religious scripture, etc. in a particular way (i.e. in a way that backs up their own beliefs and political agenda), so it doesn't really speak to the religion. Many of these theocratic leaders are perverting religion in order to suit their political purposes and give them power/keep them in power. So, one could argue, that they're not really operating under religious beliefs but merely the facade of religion."

There are different types of theocracies.

To go back to Empress' three examples, I believe I agree with you regarding Pakistan, where a largely secular government has a state religion.

But Saudi Arabia? They're not simply using religion as a facade or a rubber stamp. Islam is intimately, intricately constructed into the foundations of their government. Nor is the Saudi King paying lip service to a priest caste for validation. Sharia is the law, and it is very strictly enforced and protected.

Honestly, the less said about the Taliban in Afghanistan the better.
posted by zarq at 11:41 AM on August 2, 2011


If I were a devout Catholic -- a true believer -- I think I'd be pretty scared of being marked as a bad Catholic.

Actually, the devoutest Catholic I know doesn't give a shit whether anyone else thinks he's a good or bad Catholic -- because he knows that the only entity capable of making that judgement call is SomeOne else not on this Earth. That you believe you'd be concerned about the opinions of others if you were Catholic may be coming more from something inherant to yourself than it would come from Catholicism, I'd wager.

(To be fair, the aforementioned gentleman I know was nearly a Jesuit priest, so he'd more likely just point to the exact statement Thomas Aquinas said which proved his own point and disproved his discreditors' argument. And then have some fun confusing them with some quotes from St. Augustine and St. Ignatius as well.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:41 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


A fact is a true proposition.

Right, but when engaging with other human beings, some basis needs to be establish for how truth is determined, and in the absence of that common basis being established, your feelings and beliefs about what is or isn't true are simply your feelings and beliefs.
posted by empath at 11:41 AM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


jessamyn: We'd need a reason TO delete it, not a reason not to delete it.

Yes. This sort of rational mindset is part of what prompted folks to come up with the FSM. Just saying.
posted by herbplarfegan at 11:51 AM on August 2, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: " Actually, the devoutest Catholic I know doesn't give a shit whether anyone else thinks he's a good or bad Catholic -- because he knows that the only entity capable of making that judgement call is SomeOne else not on this Earth

Could you please explain what exactly excommunication means, then? Or damnation to hell? How they are practiced? Why they are done? Because my impression is that the Pope and the Church hierarchy are charged with shepherding the souls of the faithful. That's why they're able to hear confession and wipe the "sin" slate clean, etc.

That you believe you'd be concerned about the opinions of others if you were Catholic may be coming more from something inherant to yourself than it would come from Catholicism, I'd wager.

I realize this this is a difficult topic, but it would be pleasant for me if you'd choose not to make personal speculations about me. Please note that I'm not making personal attacks against you here or anywhere else.

My understanding of Catholicism is that priests, saints and others are able to intercede on behalf of the laity with G-d, the angels etc. Considering that the Pope has also issued excommunication bulls in the past, this clearly implies that the Church's priesthood can make the sort of judgments we've been describing. If I'm wrong, please instruct me otherwise. But no, it's not something "more inherent to" myself. It's an observation.
posted by zarq at 11:51 AM on August 2, 2011


I'm guessing that the Empress meant the generic "you" and not you particularly, zarq. At least I hope so.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:56 AM on August 2, 2011


1. Flag anything you want.
2. Regardless of the number of flags, we will only delete it if us mods personally don't like it.

If i'm wrong, so are many of the other mefites here who expressed the same sentiments.


You, and they, are wrong, yes. People can indeed flag anything they want, there's nothing controversial there, and if they think it's problematic or needs to go or just needs us to take a look at it, they should do so, and lots of people do, and that works out pretty well for making us aware of potential trouble spots.

But we delete it if we decide that the best way we see to go is to delete it. We don't delete stuff because we dislike it or keep stuff because we like it; I've deleted comments I agree with and posts about stuff I'm personally interested, and left to stand lots of posts that I'm not hot on or comments that I disagree with for any number of reasons. What we like isn't part of the metric.

If something is flagged and we see it and look at it and it seems like it should go, it goes. If it seems like it doesn't need to go, it probably doesn't go, though flags on something that doesn't strike us a problematic will have us paying further attention to it to try and see what's up.

It is, inherently, a human-based system—humans doing the flagging, humans following up on those and making judgement calls in context. Whether you like that that's the case or not, that has always been, and always been very transparently, the case.

I don't know if you are still available for discussion regarding this subject or not, but I know people would love to hear how many flags it received, or how many flags it takes to get the mods to delete it.

We intentionally don't make a habit of talking about flag counts specifically because we want the system to be about heads ups and feedback, not about bean-counting. You seem to have this idea that there should be a specific schedule of deletions, a chart that says "less than x flags, do not delete; x or more flags, delete". You're welcome to build that system somewhere else and let robots do your moderation, but that's not how it works here and not how it well ever work here, because it removes entirely the human element that has been fundamental to the character of Metafilter self-policing, community feedback and moderation since day one.

But I don't think thats how it works at all.

You seem to have a pretty stubborn and personalized vision about how a lot of things here work. We've had tons of conversations with you, in public and in private, about how things actually work and why one or another thing you are giving us or someone else here a hard time about is not the way you think it is. Ultimately, your opinions are your own and you can do with them what you like, but you'll maybe understand that after the nth go-around of you telling us How It Is in some misapprehending way or another we get tired of spending all day answering each of your Nuh Uh responses.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:56 AM on August 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


I think atheists cans do themselves a lot of good by countering religious bigotry with compassion and kindness, instead of mockery and derision.

And that sure is a lot of compassion and kindness that atheists are shown by religious folk.

Look, I want to take to the moral high road. I do. But there's only so much turning of other cheeks before I need to stand up for myself. And you know what? No, I don't have respect for your religion, because I think it's both morally dubious and patently ridiculous. Should I just lie to you and pretend that I respect it? Am I required to respect it by some inviolable law of cultural relativity?

I don't want to be mocked any more than the next guy. But I refuse to be silent.
posted by stroke_count at 11:58 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wait, how did you get from "being called a bad Catholic" to excommunication? I thought you were just talking about nosybody neighbors.

I also meant no offense with my observation about "what would happen if you were Catholic," and I apolgize for being clumsy-tongued. What I MEANT was more like, "sometimes devotion to a religion carries an innate security with it", in the sense that, "whether or not Sid down the street thinks I'm a good Catholic doesn't matter, as that's between me and God." Again, though, I'm coming more from the perspective of a nosybody neighbor doing the namecalling of "Bad Catholic" as opposed to a priest excommunicating someone.

What YOU'RE speaking about is something actually quite different from just calling someone "a bad Catholic." It is true that priests and Popes do have the ability to excommunicate someone, but that's really quite rare. Which is why i assumed that by "calling someone a bad Catholic," I was assuming you meant something more like Sid down the street looking down his nose at you because you had a burger on Friday during Lent.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:59 AM on August 2, 2011


zarq: I remember getting into a conversation not unlike this one back in March of last year. I asked "How can you be Catholic if view the Pope and Catholic Hierarchy as having less moral and religious authority than yourself?" and got some interesting answers. empath was there too (Hi empath!).
posted by ODiV at 11:59 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing that the Empress meant the generic "you" and not you particularly, zarq.

That is indeed what I meant, but I still could have phrased it way better nevertheless.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:59 AM on August 2, 2011


Oh hey, so was EmpressCallipygos (Hi!).
posted by ODiV at 12:00 PM on August 2, 2011


Could you please explain what exactly excommunication means, then? Or damnation to hell? How they are practiced? Why they are done? Because my impression is that the Pope and the Church hierarchy are charged with shepherding the souls of the faithful. That's why they're able to hear confession and wipe the "sin" slate clean, etc.

The Church can excommunicate you, which means that you can't receive the sacraments, which means that if you don't repent you will go to hell (according to the church). However, this is intended as a means to encourage repentance, not as a means to damn you to hell. You literally have until the moment of death to repent. Which means that in your last breath, if you genuinely think, "I'm sorry.", then God will take you into heaven.

The church does not damn people to hell. It doesn't have the power. All it can do is tell you that you will go to hell if you don't repent, but that is ultimately between you and God.

The priest can't wipe your slate clean in confession, either, and the priest doesn't have any special power in that regard. The priest has only been trained to hear confession and suggest the appropriate repentance, but it's not in his power to forgive you. Again, it's between you and God.

My understanding of Catholicism is that priests, saints and others are able to intercede on behalf of the laity with G-d, the angels etc.

ANYBODY can intercede with God on your behalf. All they have to do is pray.

Your understanding of the Catholic Church seems to be very confused. I'm saying this as someone who is a hardcore atheist who doesn't believe a word of this bullshit. Catholics aren't stupid people, and they aren't sheep, and the Church doesn't run their lives.
posted by empath at 12:04 PM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


(It is worth noting, perhaps, that many Christian churches, orthodox and otherwise, have excommunication systems.)

I kinda get what you're saying but I don't think it's the same as the leaders in Saudi Arabi and other Theocracies

Saudi Arabia isn't exactly a theocracy. What it does have, along with Iran and unlike other Islamic states, is a direct role for the ulema in government. In Iran the ulema is powerful because of the role of the Ayatollah in government - it actually is a theocracy, with democratic trappings.

In Saudi the ulema controls a number of things, including approving dynastic succession. This is partly a fudge to get round the fact that a monarchy isn't actually very Islamic, and the division of powers in Saudi Arabi is very much the result of a historical pact between two leading houses. There's no immutable law that Saudi Arabia has to be that way, though - it snapped back to hardline clerics having the whip hand when it looked like the post-colonial dominoes were falling with the revolution in Iran. The problem is that the people of Saudi Arabia - the ones who are not related to the major houses - have been getting this hardline angle, and the general sentiment among the (often poor, often ill-educated, often unpromotable due to their family) people is a lot harder-line than among the royal family. Which is part of the problem of the American relationship with the Saudi royal family, although by no means the only one.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:06 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think atheists cans do themselves a lot of good by countering religious bigotry with compassion and kindness, instead of mockery and derision.

They are not mutually exclusive. Not all mocking is cruel.
posted by callmejay at 12:07 PM on August 2, 2011


In my limited experience with Catholicism, your grandmother has ten times more religious authority than the Pope.

You don't want to get confirmed!? Jesus Christ, do you want Grammy to have a heart attack!?
posted by ODiV at 12:08 PM on August 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


running order squabble fest: " That is, the Pope is to Catholics as the King of Saudi Arabia is to Saudi Arabians. That's the position of the Know-Nothings - that you can't be an American and a Roman Catholic, because you do not owe your allegiance to America. You are the subject of another power.

Oh hell. I'm really, really, REALLY not trying to question the allegiance of Catholic Americans. That's absolutely NOT what I meant. That's abhorrent.

I'm saying that the Catholic Church has treated Americans and politicians in particular as if this were the case in the past and continues to do so wrt certain political issues. I think that's really problematic. Churches/Temples/Synagogues of any religious faith should not be allowed to involve themselves in politics in this country, except at the most informal level. They certainly shouldn't be allowed to pour money into political activism, or try and influence votes or elections.

And I was saying that the threat was a potent one. Although having read empath and 1000monkeys' comments, I'm no longer completely convinced of this. Which is why I'm now asking questions for clarification.

What you might have been trying to say is something like:

The Pope has religious authority over Roman Catholics. The Ayatollah Khamenei has religious authority over mainstream Iranian Muslim clerics, and thus the practice of Islam in Iran.

But that doesn't quite work, either, because the Ayatollah Khamenei has considerable temporal authority also within a political structure of a nation. He is to all intents and purposes the most important person in Iran, so his authority is not the same as that of the Pope on, say, a Catholic schoolteacher in Detroit. He also has very limited religious authority outside Iran and its border states.


I guess now I'm trying to understand what sort of religious authority the Pope and Church rulings has over Catholics. Because people here are saying that it's practically none, which doesn't make much sense to me?

Deliberately or unintentionally, you muddy the waters hopeless, and use the language of nativist anti-Catholicism, by talking about "subjects".

OK. I won't use it anymore. Sorry.
posted by zarq at 12:08 PM on August 2, 2011


I guess now I'm trying to understand what sort of religious authority the Pope and Church rulings has over Catholics. Because people here are saying that it's practically none, which doesn't make much sense to me?

I just thought of an analogy which may help.

I get the sense that you're thinking of the office of Pope as being equivalent to the President. In fact, the office of Pope is more like The Supreme Court.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:11 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: " That is indeed what I meant, but I still could have phrased it way better nevertheless."

OK. No problem.
posted by zarq at 12:12 PM on August 2, 2011


I guess now I'm trying to understand what sort of religious authority the Pope and Church rulings has over Catholics. Because people here are saying that it's practically none, which doesn't make much sense to me?

IANAC and I could be very wrong, but I tend to think of it like this: the Pope is to the Catholics as the Queen is to the British (ignoring the 'subjects' thing) in that a lot of what the Pope is and represents is sort of ceremonial and figurehead in nature (from the practical day-to-day perspective of the Catholics that are removed from the Vatican, here in North America--at least that's the sense I get from the majority of Canadian Catholics that I know; although, to be fair, most of them are more "Christmas Eve Catholics", if you know what I mean).
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:13 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


*or maybe the Pope is to the Catholics what the Queen is to Canadians is more applicable
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:14 PM on August 2, 2011


Right, but when engaging with other human beings, some basis needs to be [...]

You'd probably be better off claiming that my statement was evaluative; an argument could be made that the adjectives "important" or "vital" are inherently evaluative, although I don't think that's necessarily the case. Of course, as a theist, I can get away with calling such statements factual because I posit a correct and absolute set of values established by God. But I'm willing to play by those rules if you are.

What I'm not willing to do is to buy into the notion that because I'm a theist I need to state my views in a more tentative or qualified way than that in which atheists apparently feel justified in stating theirs.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:16 PM on August 2, 2011


callmejay: " I don't understand why religious beliefs should be treated any differently from other obviously false and harmful beliefs. Yes, your average Muslim isn't a terrorist and your average Christian isn't Pat Robertson, but that doesn't mean that their beliefs are harmless."

If someone believes abortion is wrong and doesn't have one, that's not a terrible thing. And by not having one, they're not imposing their beliefs on others. Except, I suppose on their new baby.

But if they attempt to force that belief upon others by protesting in front of an abortion clinic and intimidating patients, or by helping to enact legislation banning everyone from having an abortion, then that's a very different thing, yes?

It's possible to hold beliefs and both keep them separate from one's politics and not impose them upon others.
posted by zarq at 12:19 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess now I'm trying to understand what sort of religious authority the Pope and Church rulings has over Catholics. Because people here are saying that it's practically none, which doesn't make much sense to me?

The Church's job is to act as a shephard to keep the flock from drifting away from God. (I know I just said that Catholics weren't sheep, but work with me here). They interpret the bible and add on a few millenia of tradition and basically make the official rulings on what is or isn't sinful. But, the Church and the Pope not infallible (in most cases), and the church hasn't much spiritual power aside from the power of transubstantiation in the mass (as far as I know). It can't damn you to hell. It can only tell you what it thinks will send you to hell or heaven based on its accrued knowledge and scholarship, etc.

The worst thing the Church can do is to excommunicate you, but all that means is that you can't go to Mass and receive the sacrements. Whether you go to heaven or hell in the end is always between you and God.

Even the Catholics that take the Church super seriously recognize that there are trade-offs and compromises to be made and will disagree with the pope on some issues. And most Catholics only show up to mass on Xmas and Easter and for weddings and baptisms and never think about the Church otherwise.

It's my impression of most Catholics (and this is just opinion) that what they find meaningful about it is the ritual and marking off of important life moments and getting recognition from the community, maybe secondarily as a source for moral values, maybe thirdly as a source of spiritual fulfillment and almost never for anything do with politics.
posted by empath at 12:19 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course, as a theist, I can get away with calling such statements factual because I posit a correct and absolute set of values established by God.

Interesting. As a theist, then, you do hold that faith in God must be preserved at all costs, yes? As you said above. There is no line you wouldn't cross if you believed it would preserve faith in God? Whose faith? Whose god?
posted by rtha at 12:23 PM on August 2, 2011


Empath, your descriptions of Catholic theology are not particularly precise and as a result are somewhat confusing.

Which means that in your last breath, if you genuinely think, "I'm sorry.", then God will take you into heaven.

Catholic theology distinguishes between "perfect contrition" and "imperfect contrition" or "attrition"
perfect contrition, rises from the love of God Who has been grievously offended; the other, imperfect contrition, arises principally from some other motives, such as loss of heaven, fear of hell, the heinousness of sin, etc.
The Church teaches that perfect contrition with the intention to receive the Sacrament of Penance "restores the sinner to grace at once," that is remits the eternal (though not the temporal) punishment for sin (i.e. you're not going to hell.) However...

The priest can't wipe your slate clean in confession, either, and the priest doesn't have any special power in that regard. The priest has only been trained to hear confession and suggest the appropriate repentance, but it's not in his power to forgive you. Again, it's between you and God.

The priest has the special power that, in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), he/He absolves the penitent of their sins even if they have merely imperfect contrition:
The Church not only regards the godliness of fear as a motive to repentance, but expressly defines that attrition, though it justifies not without the Sacrament of Penance, nevertheless disposes the sinner to receive grace in the sacrament itself (Sess. XIV, iv).
posted by Jahaza at 12:23 PM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Outright disrespect for someone else's religion is kind of offensive. FTFya

Superstitions deserve no respect. To critisize a stubborn, irrational view is like holding a tube of ointment out to someone with a gash in their head.
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:24 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "Wait, how did you get from "being called a bad Catholic" to excommunication? I thought you were just talking about nosybody neighbors.

Yeah, we've strayed far, far afield of the original topic.

Basically, I meant to highlight ways Pope and Church hierarchy might potentially manage, govern or even coerce Catholics.

I also meant no offense with my observation about "what would happen if you were Catholic," and I apolgize for being clumsy-tongued.

Not a problem. Thanks.

What I MEANT was more like, "sometimes devotion to a religion carries an innate security with it", in the sense that, "whether or not Sid down the street thinks I'm a good Catholic doesn't matter, as that's between me and God." Again, though, I'm coming more from the perspective of a nosybody neighbor doing the namecalling of "Bad Catholic" as opposed to a priest excommunicating someone.

Yeah, while I know community peer pressure can play a role in keeping people in a religious community in line (some Orthodox Jewish communities can have an aspect of this) that wasn't what I meant. But I understand.

What YOU'RE speaking about is something actually quite different from just calling someone "a bad Catholic." It is true that priests and Popes do have the ability to excommunicate someone, but that's really quite rare.

OK. How often is it used as a threat? (I'm trying to determine if it's not common because it's used as an effective boogeyman, or because it's really, truly hardly ever done.)
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on August 2, 2011


To critisize a stubborn, irrational view is like holding a tube of ointment out to someone with a gash in their head.

A "stubborn" view like "religion deserves no respect"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:26 PM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


empath, that was very, very clear and understandable. Thanks! :)
posted by zarq at 12:28 PM on August 2, 2011


Superstitions deserve no respect. To critisize a stubborn, irrational view is like holding a tube of ointment out to someone with a gash in their head.
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:24 PM


So, let's say that I believe that my deceased father visits me every night and kisses me on the forehead (I don't, but let's pretend) and that gives me much comfort because his death was an extremely difficult thing for me to deal with (it was and is). By your logic, would you (really?) mock me and make fun of me for my "irrational" beliefs even though it does nobody harm, not even myself? Seriously?
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:29 PM on August 2, 2011


Jahaza, I'm an atheist, so I'm I don't know the official legalistic interpretation the Church employs. But I think the essential point stands about how most Catholics see their relationship to the Church.

Also, you're a fairly conservative Catholic, which I think you would admit is a minority among American Catholics.
posted by empath at 12:29 PM on August 2, 2011


OK. How often is it used as a threat? (I'm trying to determine if it's not common because it's used as an effective boogeyman, or because it's really, truly hardly ever done.)

speaking purely for myself, I've almost never heard it used as a threat, except in the case of a blowhard grandstanding priest trying to make a point during an election season or in the case of a persnickety neighbor saying "I'll bet you'll be excommunicated next" or something. In the latter case, that's kind of equivalent to kids tattling in the schoolyard, and in the former, I can't say I recall any instance when a priest actually followed through on such a threat.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:29 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jahaza: "Empath, your descriptions of Catholic theology are not particularly precise and as a result are somewhat confusing."

Doh.
posted by zarq at 12:29 PM on August 2, 2011


It's possible to hold beliefs and both keep them separate from one's politics and not impose them upon others.

Of course it is. Nobody said any different.

What if we were talking about homeopathy. Suppose I believe in it and choose to use it to treat my illnesses, but I don't support a law forcing anyone else to use it. Does that mean homeopathy shouldn't be mocked?
posted by callmejay at 12:30 PM on August 2, 2011


Superstitions deserve no respect.

I always pick up pennies I see in the street. Mock me if you must, but I'll still think you're kind of a dick.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:30 PM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


OK. How often is it used as a threat? (I'm trying to determine if it's not common because it's used as an effective boogeyman, or because it's really, truly hardly ever done.)

Most Catholics only connection to the church hierarchy is through the local priest, and they never, ever ever threaten people with excommunication. It's usually priests that get excomunnicated, officially, rather than lay people, and usually it's for some heresy or another.

That kind of stuff gets thrown around most often in squabbles between the hierarchy and it's a usually a political power-play.
posted by empath at 12:32 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and further to zarq -- the only times I've heard of someone with the authority to excommunicate someone making that threat, it was about a political candidate who had declared themselves to be pro-Choice. I can't say I've ever heard any other issue at all being cause to draw threats of excommunication.

that could also be why I chalk such threats up to "eh, it's just part of the political mud" and pay it no mind. Still can't think of any occasion when such threats were carried through, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:33 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]




What if we were talking about homeopathy. Suppose I believe in it and choose to use it to treat my illnesses, but I don't support a law forcing anyone else to use it. Does that mean homeopathy shouldn't be mocked?
posted by callmejay at 3:30 PM


Sort of a false analogy, because here in North America, there is no laws forcing people to follow a particular religion. So, it's more like you asking if we should mock you for using homeopathy in general and all people who use homeopathy. My response would be no, that would be dickish and what's it to me if you find comfort or relief with homeopathic treatments.

Now if you were bleeding out of your head and dying and you thought a tincture of arnica would help you, I'd probably tell you to get your ass to an ER stat. But that's not the same thing, is it?
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:34 PM on August 2, 2011


This thread has turned to dissecting religious interpretations of Christian dogma and practice - which is probably for the best; it is doable. The tone and method of this side discussion demonstrates how so few here are able to discuss anything about Islam. They are locked in their own world.

Islam is not the same as Christianity nor any other religion; it is frustrating to see people using anecdotes or general knowledge that only reveal their deep ignorance of Islam. And it is sad.

I'm just glad a few real Muslims came out of the woodwork to offer personal views. Thank you, folks; that made it worth trudging through the rest of this.



(And the original fpp still stinks. It sets a new LOW bar for posts on the blue.)
posted by Surfurrus at 12:34 PM on August 2, 2011


Jahaza: " Catholic theology distinguishes between "perfect contrition" and "imperfect contrition" or "attrition""

OK, I've read your comment and the linked articles three times and now my head is swimming. Would you mind explaining what it all means in terms even a dumb non-Christian can understand?
posted by zarq at 12:35 PM on August 2, 2011


But I think the essential point stands about how most Catholics see their relationship to the Church.

I mostly agree that you're presenting average opionion correctly, but some of the premises you're using to get there (which are even likely held as opinions by the majority of Catholics) have difficulties, in particular as I noted, the idea: "in your last breath, if you genuinely think, "I'm sorry.", then God will take you into heaven," where much depends on what precisely is meant by "genuinely think" ... you could intepret that to mean "sorry for your sins because of your love of God and an intention to do what is neccesary for the forgiveness of your sins (i.e. you'd intend to go to confess if you knew you were supposed to intend it, what theologians might call a "virtual intention").

And the idea that "the priest doesn't have any special power" in regard to the forgiveness of sins is most definitely not the "Catholic position" even if it is the view held by many Catholics.
posted by Jahaza at 12:36 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


empath : " That kind of stuff gets thrown around most often in squabbles between the hierarchy and it's a usually a political power-play."

EmpressCallipygos: " that could also be why I chalk such threats up to "eh, it's just part of the political mud" and pay it no mind. Still can't think of any occasion when such threats were carried through, though."

Ah! Okay. I understand. Thanks.
posted by zarq at 12:38 PM on August 2, 2011


It sets a new LOW bar for posts on the blue

No, it really doesn't. You are overreacting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 PM on August 2, 2011


No, it really doesn't. You are overreacting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:39 PM o


Have you actually clicked on the link?
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:40 PM on August 2, 2011


Yes, this reminds me of Catholic School, and I gave up trying to understand all the legalistic nuance a long time ago, and most every-day Catholics wouldn't have any idea what you're talking about either :)

You're right re: confession, but I guess what I meant to say is that there isn't much the Church can do that you can't do on your own if you're sincerely in touch with God, even according to official church doctrine, and that sincere contrition is always a substitute for confession and last rites.
posted by empath at 12:42 PM on August 2, 2011


empath: It's usually priests that get excomunnicated, officially, rather than lay people, and usually it's for some heresy or another.

Excommunications for heresy are actually quite rare nowadays. The most common cause of (rather than automatic) excommunications nowadays are for schismatic acts (like ordaining bishops without permission or starting your own Church) or simulating sacraments (like attempting to ordain women to the priesthood.)

Zarq: OK, I've read your comment and the linked articles three times and now my head is swimming. Would you mind explaining what it all means in terms even a dumb non-Christian can understand?

Basically, if you're sorry for your sins because you love God and don't want to offend him, that's perfect contrition. If you're sorry for your sins because you're afraid of going to Hell, or because you're disgusted with yourself for having sone something, or because of what your neighbors will think of you or any other reason, that's imperfect contrition.

If you have perfect contrition and the intention to receive the Sacrament of Confession, your sins are forgiven.

If you have imperfect contrition and you actually receive the Sacrament of Confession your sins are forgiven.

Is that clearer?
posted by Jahaza at 12:43 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting. As a theist, then, you do hold that faith in God must be preserved at all costs, yes? As you said above. There is no line you wouldn't cross if you believed it would preserve faith in God?

In the context of the discussion, which is how the intellectual component of a religion might be modified to make it more compatible with contemporary knowledge and less of a stumbling block to an intelligent person, yes.

Seriously, if Bertrand Russell had said "the axiomatic logical basis of arithmetic must be preserved at all costs", would you imagine he was preparing to go out and wreak havoc on the countryside?

It's impossible to coerce anyone into having faith (or not having faith) in God. I'm not sure what "lines" you're envisioning me crossing.

Whose faith? Whose god?

These questions don't make much sense to me. Faith in God isn't signing up for a whole raft of dogmatic beliefs, it's believing in God, a more mature and nuanced version of how most of us as children believed in our (earthly) father or mother. That's the important part. There's only one God.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:43 PM on August 2, 2011


Surfurrus: " (And the original fpp still stinks. It sets a new LOW bar for posts on the blue.)"

If you give me a little while, I'm sure I can come up with something worse. How do you feel about naked sumo wrestlers and the ferrets who love them?
posted by zarq at 12:44 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jahaza: "If you have perfect contrition and the intention to receive the Sacrament of Confession, your sins are forgiven.

If you have imperfect contrition and you actually receive the Sacrament of Confession your sins are forgiven.

Is that clearer?
"

MUCH. Thank you! :)
posted by zarq at 12:45 PM on August 2, 2011


Now you're talkin'
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:45 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


(um, that was directed at zarq)
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:45 PM on August 2, 2011


NVM lol I gotta get some air, I'm getting cabin fever (both couriers finally came, yay!).


TTYL
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:46 PM on August 2, 2011


And the idea that "the priest doesn't have any special power" in regard to the forgiveness of sins is most definitely not the "Catholic position" even if it is the view held by many Catholics.

I find this sort of shift pretty interesting. People used to get killed over beliefs like this and transubstantiation and if you ask a modern Catholic today they're likely to just shrug.

Is that clearer?

Yes, but isn't that just according to the Catholic doctrine and pope, which most Catholics apparently don't really care about anymore?

How about we just watch videos of cats instead.
posted by ODiV at 12:46 PM on August 2, 2011


Declared or pronounced excommunications for heresy that is. There's perhaps more people secretly (known only to themselves) automatically excommunicated (and they are probably mostly priests and theologians) because they wilfully hold heretical opinions and know that this is cause for automatic excommunication (a precondition for excommunication), but public excommunications for heresy are rare, because people who are public heretics are usually also schismatics and that's a lot easier to prove.
posted by Jahaza at 12:47 PM on August 2, 2011


It sets a new LOW bar for posts on the blue

No, it really doesn't. You are overreacting.


You've seen lower??

... on preview ... I will wait for zarq's re-posting of naked sumos, ferrets, etc.

Might as well be amused, eh?
posted by Surfurrus at 12:50 PM on August 2, 2011


Jahaza: " Excommunications for heresy are actually quite rare nowadays. The most common cause of (rather than automatic) excommunications nowadays are for schismatic acts (like ordaining bishops without permission or starting your own Church) or simulating sacraments (like attempting to ordain women to the priesthood.)"

Which explains why nearly all of the people on the wikipedia link empath provided, who were excommunicated this century, have been people within the Church hierarchy. Fascinating. I had no idea.

For some reason I thought it happened a lot more often.
posted by zarq at 12:51 PM on August 2, 2011


For some reason I thought it happened a lot more often.
posted by zarq


Was just about to log off, but thought I'd add:

I seem to recall a lot of people being excommunicated in the 60s/70s but the church retracted it (possibly for financial/retention purposes?). IIRC, my mother was automatically excommunicated in the 70s for marrying my father, a Protestant. And I seem to recall the church later retracting those excommunications for "inter faith" marriages. By that time, my mother was already pissed at the church.

But maybe I'm remembering that wrong?
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:55 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surfurrus: " ... on preview ... I will wait for zarq's re-posting of naked sumos, ferrets, etc. "

Well, I have learned that randomly searching google through the office portal for "naked sumo wrestlers" gets flagged by my company's IT department.

So there's that.

"The filter shows someone at your computer's IP address searching for naked sumo wrestlers."
"And ferrets!"
"And.... what? Why were you searching for..."
"It was a spur of the moment thing."
"Yeah. OK. Don't do that."

posted by zarq at 1:00 PM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jahaza: "Declared or pronounced excommunications for heresy that is. "

Sometimes you're just considered excommunicated for something you've done, and it may or may not be called out in public. A priest who breaks the seal of the confessional is automatically excommunicated even if nobody knows about it - its on his own conscience to get himself right.

There have been some cases where an authority says that you are excommunicated because of something and others disagree. For example" In this case, the Bishop didn't excommunicate the nun himself but rather declared that her actions automatically excommunicated her. It can get murky and sometimes political.
posted by charred husk at 1:02 PM on August 2, 2011


Lesson learned. Next time, I'll use a co-worker's computer.
posted by zarq at 1:02 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


LOL - zarq ... and while you are at it ...

never mind; I'll bbl to laugh more.

Thanks :-)
posted by Surfurrus at 1:04 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find this sort of shift pretty interesting. People used to get killed over beliefs like this and transubstantiation and if you ask a modern Catholic today they're likely to just shrug.

**
...nearly all of the people on the wikipedia link empath provided, who were excommunicated this century, have been people within the Church hierarchy. Fascinating. I had no idea. For some reason I thought it happened a lot more often.


Vatican II was a hell of a game-changer.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:04 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


IIRC, my mother was automatically excommunicated in the 70s for marrying my father, a Protestant.

The Code of Canon Law was revised in 1983. Prior to that time, there were more causes of excommunication. Before 1966, one cause for excommunication was "attempting marriage before a heretical minister." The rule was loosened by Pope Paul VI in 1966.

Zarq:For some reason I thought it happened a lot more often.

There's a lot of debate over the application of Canon 915:
Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or the declaration of a penalty as well as others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to communion.
The debate about pro-choice politicians in particular is often not about excommunication per se, but about the bolded part of Canon 915. This canon is also why people who have been married in the Church and then divorced and civily remarried (without an anullment while their spouse from the first marriage is still living) can't receive Communion, but they are also not excommunicated.

I find this sort of shift pretty interesting. People used to get killed over beliefs like this and transubstantiation and if you ask a modern Catholic today they're likely to just shrug.
St. Gregory Nyssa (4th century): "Men of yesterday and the day before, mere mechanics, off-hand dogmatists in theology, servants too and slaves that have been flogged, runaways from servile work, are solemn with us and philosophical about things incomprehensible.…With such the whole city is full; its smaller gates, forums, squares, thoroughfares; the clothes-venders, the money-lenders, the victuallers. Ask about pence, and he will discuss the Generate and Ingenerate; inquire the price of bread, he answers, Greater is the Father, and the Son is subject; say that a bath would suit you, and he defines that the Son is out of nothing."
posted by Jahaza at 1:08 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is, inherently, a human-based system—humans doing the flagging, humans following up on those and making judgement calls in context. Whether you like that that's the case or not, that has always been, and always been very transparently, the case.

Thank you for clarifying this again for EVERYONE. I appreciate this.

We intentionally don't make a habit of talking about flag counts specifically because we want the system to be about heads ups and feedback, not about bean-counting. You seem to have this idea that there should be a specific schedule of deletions, a chart that says "less than x flags, do not delete; x or more flags, delete".

I don't agree with this. I agree that you don't talk specifically about flag counts, but you use relative and subjective terms like "flagged a LOT", "not too many flags", etc. This sets off the "oh...so it depends on the number of flags" in not only me, but other members.

But I guess member input here regarding flags is just a heads up, and what matters more is a mod's judgement. If this really is the case, as you state...I'd really appreciate it if the mods would stop claiming that they are deleting stuff because of "a lot of flags", and just say "i deleted it because it is my job to figure out if it needed deleting, and i deemed it so." THAT would be transparency without compromising the issue of how many times it was flagged.

Thats all.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:12 PM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


If the level of snide, casual, generalized stereotyping and derision routinely expressed toward Muslims (or for that matter Christians, joannemullen has a point, and mea culpa for my own hypocrisy on this latter point at times) here on MeFi were ever directed at, say, LGBT people, the MeFi language police and the PC enforcement squad would be bullying and shaming the offenders into submission right and left in this thread with cheers from the peanut gallery of grar-mongers.

religion: choice.
sexuality: inborn.

Not even almost the same.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:32 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


religion: choice.

I await your conversion to Islam to prove your point.
posted by ODiV at 1:33 PM on August 2, 2011


I await your conversion to Islam to prove your point.

It is not a requirement to join a particular religion to note — correctly — that participation is by choice.

No one is compelled to be superstitious (except perhaps by other superstitious at the end of a sword or gun barrel).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:40 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just going by my own experience here, but I certainly can't choose to have faith.

If you've chosen to be an atheist or a Catholic or whatever then you have a very different experience than myself.
posted by ODiV at 1:43 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


rodgerd: Perhaps we should stop making negative comments about the government of China if a poll finds citizens dislike that, too.

Yes, you should. Especially since half the time it's half-informed or, worse, uniformed China-bashing. It does no good for actual dialogue:

"Instead, Chinese and Americans went after each other in the comment sections of news stories, blog posts, YouTube, forums and boards in an escalating people-to-people brawl that continues to this day. They fight over a litany of issues: Tibet, Taiwan, Tiananmen, trade, Internet censorship, religious freedom, Myanmar, Darfur, sanctions on Iran, carbon emissions, and so on. The first real people-to-people encounter between the world’s reigning and rising superpowers did not bode well.
posted by FJT at 1:44 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you've chosen to be an atheist

I didn't choose to be an atheist. I simply don't choose, at all.

The comparison with experiences by LGBT people remains fatuous, offensive and wrong, all the same.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:46 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you've chosen to be an atheist or a Catholic or whatever then you have a very different experience than myself.

Well, I chose my religion, but, given my strong tendency towards compatibilism, my opinion on the matter is not a common one.
posted by Jahaza at 1:49 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If this really is the case, as you state...I'd really appreciate it if the mods would stop claiming that they are deleting stuff because of "a lot of flags"

We have always been clear that flags are one of the inputs we get when deciding what to delete. There are certain things that get asked again and again and that we explain again and again and "this thing did/did not get a lot of flags and that was one of the reasons we decided to/not to delete it" is something that we expect people to either 1) understand 2) ask us about 3) go read the FAQ or the wiki that explains this more in detail.

People who frequent MetaTalk understand this issue, generally. Nothing gets deleted purely because of flags. Nothing remains purely because it got no flags. We expect people to understand the nuances and we'll explain them when they are unclear. In this case "Not a ton of flags" was one of the data points that kept this post from being deleted. If it had had twice as many flags it would not have been borderline. This is us explaining our decision process. We do not say something was deleted purely because of flagging but it's one of the data points we consider. I'm not even sure where you're coming up with your example that we say we delete stuff "because of flags" because we don't think like that or talk like that in MetaTalk. Maybe you are seeing this in email?

Flagging is one of a few data points. We include it in our explanations when it's relevant. Saying "because I said so" doesn't actually make things clearer, it makes things more confusing because sometimes flags matter and sometimes they don't. Pointing out what impact flagging had is useful for people to know.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:51 PM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


*UNINFORMED, not uniformed.
posted by FJT at 1:51 PM on August 2, 2011



The comparison with experiences by LGBT people remains fatuous, offensive and wrong, all the same.


Not to split hairs, but if you are saying, "hate language against a religious group is not supportable in the way it is against LGBT because religion is a choice" ... then you are saying there is no danger in anti-Semitic posts on mefi?
posted by Surfurrus at 1:53 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


supportable = offensive (!)
posted by Surfurrus at 1:54 PM on August 2, 2011


I didn't choose to be an atheist. I simply don't choose, at all.

But you could choose to believe in the Christian God? I'm skeptical, but if you say so then I'll drop it.
posted by ODiV at 1:56 PM on August 2, 2011


This is not unexpected given that faith in God is the most (and, really, the only) important thing in religion.

Both Jews and Buddhists can be atheists and still be a part of their religion. I think what you mean to say is 'faith in God is the most (and, really, the only) important thing in my religion'.
posted by Quonab at 1:59 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


How is this different from hate speech?

Allow me to mock the joke of continually referring to America as the worlds richest or the worlds most powerful nation (built on debt, but debt is good, and that's a anotoher stupid belief since we can see how it harms little children)

What's the difference between America and Greece?

Texas couldn't edumacate its children because its christian thinking won't let it buy the right books

har har har idiots, we will wait until the paper empire falls into the black hole of being broke


etc

Note: this is not to mean that some of my best friends are not Americans or that I don't respect them as people. I'm just mocking their beliefs.


One of the papers I linked to in my previous comment had a quote on the sense of shame and feeling demeaned felt by members of a community that had been so mocked for their beliefs. This little eeepc won't let me access it without crashing the browser but it gives food for thought why many secular nations put laws in place against such public statements. [yes, will cite once teh desktop finishes it silly systems check]
posted by infini at 2:03 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Flagging is one of a few data points. We include it in our explanations when it's relevant. Saying "because I said so" doesn't actually make things clearer, it makes things more confusing because sometimes flags matter and sometimes they don't.

Thanks for your input.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:03 PM on August 2, 2011


But you could choose to believe in the Christian God?

To the extent that I could at a moment's notice choose to believe in any system rooted in a foundation of superstitious beliefs, I could certainly choose Christianity from amongst the varied choices.

If I was compelled to by someone threatening emotional or physical violence, as religious types often do, I'd probably be more likely to choose one amongst others.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:07 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


On publishing rather than previewing, what Surfurrus said.
posted by infini at 2:07 PM on August 2, 2011


Crabby Appleton: Atheists, of course, are the intellectual heavy-weights of our time; they're always working out and constantly refining their rhetorical weapons. They mostly choose to utilize their extraordinary intellectual prowess to pick on the intellectually simplistic component of many folks' religions. They're full of excuses for evading confrontations with intellectually robust theology. When I was in school, we had words we used to describe the big strong kids who chose to pick on the weak ones and avoid fights with strong. You probably did too.

Rather than post my first, second, and third responses to this little bit of hate speech, I'll give you a a cute video which perfectly encapsulates my problems trying to have interfaith discussions.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:08 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I was compelled to by someone threatening emotional or physical violence, as religious types often do...

"often"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:08 PM on August 2, 2011


1000monkeys: So, let's say that I believe that my deceased father visits me every night and kisses me on the forehead (I don't, but let's pretend) and that gives me much comfort because his death was an extremely difficult thing for me to deal with (it was and is). By your logic, would you (really?) mock me and make fun of me for my "irrational" beliefs even though it does nobody harm, not even myself? Seriously?

Well, that's kinda convenient for you, since we're just pretending, but okay, let's pretend in earnest: you're not correct that it does nobody harm, even yourself.

And please cite where in this thread I make any indication that anyone should be mocked.

I'd have traded "comfort" for truth if I'd had the chance, and the same goes for the billions of children who are morally and mentally abused, devastated and terrorized with religious teaching-- not by their own choice, but by the choices of their weak, cowardly, soulless, tyranical parents, teachers, and leaders.

I'm not referring to extremists, no need to bother (that's another topic)-- I'm talking about your kakhi-/burka-/yamaka wearing neighbors alike: all religious teaching is savage child abuse.

Bunny Ultramod: I always pick up pennies I see in the street. Mock me if you must, but I'll still think you're kind of a dick.

Well, look at your goody good-guy badge! Straw man followed by the only instance of mocking in our convesation. Take a walk.
(*percussionist in the orchestra strikes the triangle as the sun glints off of a penny)

In my treatment of theora55's comment I made it pretty clear not only that disrespect for someone's beliefs is not disrespect for the person, but that I agree that people themselves should be respected (when they earn it-- yes, yes-- yet another topic); I then implied (with my high-tech ointment analogy) that belief is an ailment and reason cures it.

That means all belief. So.. for my purposes, the phrase "critisizing someone's beliefs" is kinda non sequitur.. but in a place where people unironically ask how making a pun about noodles "isn't racist," I'm probably just wasting pixels at that point. I hope I'm wrong.
posted by herbplarfegan at 2:11 PM on August 2, 2011


I wish people wouldn't throw around terms like 'hate speech' when people say things they disagree with.
posted by empath at 2:11 PM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, look at your goody good-guy badge!

That's actually just a penny.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:12 PM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: I have obviously incorrectly extrapolated my experiences out to the rest of the world. I certainly can't choose to believe in any of that and see it as immutable as my sexual preference. Obviously I don't think they're the same thing, but I don't feel as if I have a choice regarding either. I guess that's not as universal as I thought. Dropping it now.
posted by ODiV at 2:13 PM on August 2, 2011


"often"?

One could pick any organized religion or cult and explain how it compels the behavior of its followers in frequently emotionally and physically violent ways. (Catholicism's notion of original sin, for example, loads down followers with a life-long guilt trip immediately from conception.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:14 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Replace "sexual preference" with "sexual orientation" in my comment above, please. Way to go for a word choice that completely undermines what I was talking about. :P
posted by ODiV at 2:15 PM on August 2, 2011


What's funny is that I actually worship ODiV's sexual preference as my personal God. Funny old world!
posted by everichon at 2:16 PM on August 2, 2011


One could pick any organized religion or cult and explain how it compels the behavior of its followers in frequently emotionally and physically violent ways.

All right. Do it with Unitarian Universalism.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:17 PM on August 2, 2011


Unitarian Universalism

Is that a religion or the Cliff's Notes version of lots of religions?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:21 PM on August 2, 2011


It's a religion.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:21 PM on August 2, 2011


Not to everyone.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:22 PM on August 2, 2011


To the educated.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:22 PM on August 2, 2011


If you say so. *shrug*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:23 PM on August 2, 2011


Of course, faith in God is the most vital and important thing to human beings ...

Actually, it's:
Of course, faith in God is the most vital and important thing to SOME human beings.
posted by ericb at 2:24 PM on August 2, 2011


... the money-lenders ...

I first read that as "the monkey-lenders" and went "Whoa! What did 4th C. Christians borrow monkeys for?"
posted by Bruce H. at 2:24 PM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you say so. *shrug*

Is your own game of "no true Scotsman" really going to be how you're going to duck out of supporting as assertion you've made? I'm sorry, but "all religions are cursive, and if it's not cursive, it's not a religion" is a doge, not a tautology.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:24 PM on August 2, 2011


cursive? I mean abusive. What the hell, keyboard?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:25 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


One could pick any organized religion or cult and explain how it compels the behavior of its followers in frequently emotionally and physically violent ways.
...
All right. Do it with Unitarian Universalism.


I have been known to do some CRAZY violence to the coffee served after services, just POUNDING it down my throat, sometimes I even follow it with a cookie or two, can't hardly stop me
posted by Greg Nog at 2:26 PM on August 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


empath: I wish people wouldn't throw around terms like 'hate speech' when people say things they disagree with.

It's a good thing I didn't then. But I'm emphatically not inclined to discuss a paragraph that's both trivially false, and trivially identified as invective. So as an atheist and religious humanist, I give you another expression of frustration.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:26 PM on August 2, 2011


Is your own game of "no true Scotsman" really going to be how you're going to duck out of supporting as assertion you've made?

I'm not ducking out of anything, I'm just not engaging your grudge.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:27 PM on August 2, 2011


Whoa! What did 4th C. Christians borrow monkeys for?

When in Rome...
posted by contraption at 2:27 PM on August 2, 2011


Fair enough. It's no grudge, just a demonstration that you're happy to condemnations of huge groups of people, but won't support it when requested.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:28 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


engage in condemnations, rather.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:28 PM on August 2, 2011


I'm just glad that Stevie Wonder cared enough about superstition to jam the fuck out.
posted by Sailormom at 2:29 PM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's no grudge

If you say so. *shrug*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:30 PM on August 2, 2011


Guys, take it to Myspace.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:31 PM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, if you won't do Universalism because you've decided it's not a religion, will you do Reform Judaism? Or do you think that there is no obligation to actually support the things you say.

Obviously you don't have to support your assertions, and can just shrug a lot, but, again, it seems like more of a dodge than conversation.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:32 PM on August 2, 2011


Way back upthread, Deathalicious wrote, addressing me: And of course now I remember you're pretty notorious on this site for your take on women's issues.

Yeah, I wonder how I managed that, considering that I've written almost nothing on the topic, at least in the past couple of years (I couldn't be arsed to go back any further than that).
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:32 PM on August 2, 2011


Or do you think that there is no obligation to actually support the things you say.

I think there is little obligation on my part to respond to your silly and very narrow reading, definitely, other than to point out how silly and narrow it is. If you seriously want to equate Unitarian Universalism with Islam and Christianity, I can't stop you, certainly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:38 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


BP, you were the one who equated Unitarian Universalism with Islam and Christianity when you said 'One could pick any organized religion or cult and explain how it compels the behavior of its followers in frequently emotionally and physically violent ways.'
posted by shakespeherian at 2:42 PM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why do people keep bringing up Unitarian Universalism as being somehow representative of religion? There are like half a million UU's in the entire world.
posted by empath at 2:44 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


For the same reason fundamentalists are considered representative of a religion followed by a billion.
posted by infini at 2:45 PM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


If the level of snide, casual, generalized stereotyping and derision routinely expressed toward Muslims (or for that matter Christians, joannemullen has a point, and mea culpa for my own hypocrisy on this latter point at times) here on MeFi were ever directed at, say, LGBT people, the MeFi language police and the PC enforcement squad would be bullying and shaming the offenders into submission right and left in this thread with cheers from the peanut gallery of grar-mongers.

religion: choice.
sexuality: inborn.

Not even almost the same.


And, realistically, people who hate "the MeFi language police" and "PC enforcement squads" also generally don't like Islam, or at least are happy to see it traduced. joannemullen wasn't arguing for equal respect to be shown to Christianity and Islam - that would be a weird reading. She was complaining based on her perception that Islam is not hated on enough on MetaFilter.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:45 PM on August 2, 2011


When my mother decided that she wanted to whack some sense of my head, one thing she tried was to take me to Unitarian services at our local church. They sang a John Lennon medley and then the sermon was about how we needed to help our brothers and sisters in Latin America.

And then we resolved to burn down our little town and take up arms against Reagan. No, just kidding.
posted by angrycat at 2:48 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway, the reason this thread was opened was because people found the original post weak sauce, and felt that it was not an especially pointed satire of religion, and seemed to target Islam without expressing any actual critique, except that some things can just be made fun of because we don't have to take it seriously.

I know that this is a viewpoint a lot of fellow atheists have -- it's all just nonsense! Get a sense of humor! Can't you take a joke! And sure, some religious people can't take a joke, and some religious stuff has earned some mockery.

But I try to be cautious, in the same way I try to be cautious, in a public forum, joking about tragedy, or race, or sexual violence. Not that these things are related, except that they are the sorts of jokes that may play very well in one context -- among friends, who you know, and who know you, and understand that you're good-hearted and wouldn't mean to hurt anybody.

In a public forum, it's different. Because people don't really know you there, and don't have the same context your friends have. And however much religion might earn mocking, you are actually making fun of things that your fellow members believe, and cherish, and, to the best of my knowledge, have done nothing to harm you with. And this is the sort of thing that I think it is useful to be cautious about in a public forum. Conversations about the subject can involve disagreements, but when you come in tossing out comic expressions of contempt, a lot of people are going to feel you have contempt for them.

I try to save my contempt for actions that demonstrably hurt me, or others. Actions, not belief. And so I try to reserve my judgement about what other people believe until it turns into action. I personally am without faith. But that doesn't mean I must disabuse people of faith every chance I get, or have been given license to mock them.

Because if you judge people by deed, and not by faith, being kind of a dick doesn't really speak well for you.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:48 PM on August 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


For the same reason fundamentalists are considered representative of a religion followed by a billion.

There are orders of magnitude more fundamentalists than there are unitarian universalists (which are behind neo-pagans and zoroastrians, but ahead of rastafarians and scientologists, depending on whose numbers you're using).
posted by empath at 2:49 PM on August 2, 2011


Why do people keep bringing up Unitarian Universalism as being somehow representative of religion? There are like half a million UU's in the entire world.

They are not bringing up UU as representative of religion. They're just saying that there is a difference between saying 'most X are Y' and 'all X are Y.' It's true, it is usually only important to the X's that aren't Y. But when a lot of the argument centers around logical thinking, it's frustrating for those who feel they are in that small space.
posted by Quonab at 2:53 PM on August 2, 2011


Why do people keep bringing up Unitarian Universalism as being somehow representative of religion?

Besides it's importance proportionally in the MetaFilter population, it's more historically important in the United States than the numbers would suggest (opposition to the 2nd Great Awakening, for instance, the development of liberalism (in a non-Glenn Beck meaning of the term, the political, cultural and artistic elites of the 19th century) in politics in America as an outgrowth of religious liberalism, etc.) On the other hand, once you start to understand its historical roots, Blazecock Pileon's point probably becomes defensible:

One could pick any organized religion or cult and explain how it compels the behavior of its followers in frequently emotionally and physically violent ways.

Yeah... things got pretty heated in 19th century Massachusetts. OTOH, that's probably not the Unitarianism that Bunny Ultramod was referring to. I recommend both Robert Clark's My Grandfather's House and American Unitarianism, 1805-1865 edited by Conrad Edick Wright as introductions to Unitarianism's historical importance (rather than its present day beliefs and situation.)
posted by Jahaza at 2:55 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


They are not bringing up UU as representative of religion.

I certainly wasn't. I was just curious, if all religions are abusive, how that one might be. I didn't realize it had been excluded from consideration.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:55 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, yes, I was referring to present day Universalism. It was not a question rooted in history. but contemporary behavior.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:56 PM on August 2, 2011


Terrible editing... let's try again:

"Besides its importance proportionally in the MetaFilter population, it's more historically important in the United States than the numbers would suggest, for instance its opposition to the 2nd Great Awakening, role in abolitionism and the development of American liberalism (in a non-Glenn Beck meaning of the term), and as the faith of much of the political, cultural, literary, and artistic elite of the 19th century."

posted by Jahaza at 2:57 PM on August 2, 2011


BP, you were the one who equated Unitarian Universalism with Islam and Christianity when you said 'One could pick any organized religion or cult and explain how it compels the behavior of its followers in frequently emotionally and physically violent ways.'

I did not equate anything, and careful reading of the sentence you quoted does not suggest that I equate UU with Islam or Christianity. Unitarian Universalism might have religious or cult-like aspects, but I do not agree with your assertion that UU is an organized religion in the same way that Islam and Christianity are organized.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:57 PM on August 2, 2011


but I do not agree with your assertion that UU is an organized religion in the same way that Islam and Christianity are organized.

Well yes, though congregationalist in polity, Unitarian-Universalism is far more organized than either Islam or Christianity as a whole, though that doesn't seem to make your point better.
posted by Jahaza at 2:59 PM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


But when a lot of the argument centers around logical thinking, it's frustrating for those who feel they are in that small space.

And when people talk about religion as experienced and practiced by the vast, vast majority of people who are exposed to it, it gets a little frustrating when people point at a fringe group or their own special snowflake status as if it entirely negates everything the other person said.

Can we all just agree to exclude Unitarian Universalism from all discussions of religion hence forth? The closest I've ever come to anyone telling me that they are part of that church is the many, many atheists who've told me that they'd be a UU if they were forced to pick a religion.
posted by empath at 3:00 PM on August 2, 2011


Anyway, the reason this thread was opened was because people found the original post weak sauce, and felt that it was not an especially pointed satire of religion, and seemed to target Islam without expressing any actual critique, except that some things can just be made fun of because we don't have to take it seriously.

Uh, the only reason I made this thread was because I felt it was a borderline contentless post. Period. The quality of the satire was absolutely none of my concern.
posted by griphus at 3:00 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


My apologies, griphus; I bundled a collection of complaints at the start of this post into one. It was not my intention to ascribe them to you, specifically.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:01 PM on August 2, 2011


Many people who are Unitarian Universalists don't consider it to be a religion (just a random blog post, but many of my UU friends would agree). So it's a little hard to point to it as an exception to a rule that doesn't actually apply.

seemed to target Islam without expressing any actual critique

I guess I just don't understand this. In college, on Ash Wednesday, we used to watch Army of Darkness, because the main character's name is Ash. Were we making fun of Christianity, or were we just taking advantage of a stupid pun?
posted by muddgirl at 3:03 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can we all just agree to exclude Unitarian Universalism from all discussions of religion hence forth?

I am not following why we would want to do that.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:04 PM on August 2, 2011


Many people who are Unitarian Universalists don't consider it to be a religion

Maybe they're just uneducated.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:05 PM on August 2, 2011


Were we making fun of Christianity, or were we just taking advantage of a stupid pun?

I'm guessing the latter. But this was presumably a private behavior, among friends, which I addressed above.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:06 PM on August 2, 2011


Maybe they're just uneducated.

Maybe their definition of a religion is different than yours? Even though the author of that blog posts states that she considers UU to be a religion, she then points out how it doesn't fit her own definition of a religion, so make of that what you will.

But this was presumably a private behavior, among friends, which I addressed above.

So if we had made a website about celebrating Army of Burritos, it would move from harmless to harmful?
posted by muddgirl at 3:07 PM on August 2, 2011


Can we all just agree to exclude Unitarian Universalism from all discussions of religion hence forth?

Heavens, no. I don't agree to this.
posted by sweetkid at 3:08 PM on August 2, 2011


So a Unitarian Univeralist can discuss religion, as long as it is not his or her own religion. And they're wrong for thinking it is their own religion, anyway.
posted by Quonab at 3:09 PM on August 2, 2011


How about Bahá'í.... They have 7.5 million followers and thier own special place in Irans book of people they don't like.
posted by clavdivs at 3:09 PM on August 2, 2011


Many people who are Unitarian Universalists don't consider it to be a religion

Many people who are Jews don't consider it to be a religion either, in some contexts. Me, for one. I am Jewish and atheist. That doesn't make Judaism not a religion.

So if we had made a website about celebrating Army of Burritos, it would move from harmless to harmful?

No. But it wouldn't necessarily make a good MetaFilter post, and there is a risk that people might wonder if you're making fun of them.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:10 PM on August 2, 2011


Maybe their definition of a religion is different than yours?

Sorry, I was just making a light joke about a previous comment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:11 PM on August 2, 2011


Honest question: Is my bowling league a religion?

Sorry, I was just making a light joke about a previous comment.

Yeah, I'm pretty uneducated.
posted by muddgirl at 3:12 PM on August 2, 2011


Honest question: Is my bowling league a religion?

I guess it depends on your bowling league. I would assume not, but some people feel pretty strongly about 10-pin.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:13 PM on August 2, 2011


If purveying emotional violence upon its adherents is the defining quality of a religion, I can say with certainty that Arsenal has been far more of a religious force in my life than Hinduism ever has been.
posted by Errant at 3:19 PM on August 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


And they're wrong for thinking it is their own religion, anyway.

Also, I never said this or even implied it.

I think the fact that there is debate within the UU community (which does not share the same tradition of hereditary inclusion as Judaism) as to whether or not they are a religion makes it very tough to argue that we should use UU teachings to excuse other religious doctrine. Which was the reason UU was raised in the first place. Being an atheist who doesn't practice any religion (except for bowling, I guess), my only dog in this fight is that I find it annoying that we can't discuss how religious organizations can be harmful without qualifying that we're not talking about YOUR* religious organization.

I work for a defense contractor. We do good work that saves lives, but sometimes we also contribute to civilian and non-civilian deaths. I don't deny or excuse that. I admit that it's a contradiction of my personal ethics, to economically support an organization that does real harm in this world.

* the general 'you', not any specific Mefite.
posted by muddgirl at 3:21 PM on August 2, 2011


I am not following why we would want to do that.

Because people keep using them to defend religion as a whole when the simply are not representative of religion as practiced by the vast majority of people who identify as religious, and they aren't what people are referring to when people criticize religion, and by most common sense and logical definitions of religion, wouldn't even count as religious, unless you also want to count things like secular humanism as religion, as well.
posted by empath at 3:23 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uh, the only reason I made this thread was because I felt it was a borderline contentless post. Period. The quality of the satire was absolutely none of my concern.
posted by griphus at 3:00 PM on August 2 [+] [!]


My apologies, griphus; I bundled a collection of complaints at the start of this post into one. It was not my intention to ascribe them to you, specifically.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:01 PM on August 2


Since this thread has grown up and matured since I first saw it last night and still active this morning, I want to share why I spoke up about [purely subjective] what seems to me to be an across the board disrespect about Islam and its followers. (not just in MeFi but across MSM)

My parents opinions would most likely be categorized as bigoted against muslims, but their history includes living through the worst holocaust in Indian history. My grandmother refused to eat food sent over from our neighbours house because it was 'unclean' (they were muslim). Growing up as an expat (TCK) in a multicultural country (Malaysia, though considering itself primarily a muslim nation has/had (things are changing) no laws like Saudi against sales of alcohol or consumption of pork by other cultures but insisted simply on clear signage if a place was not halal) attending schools from yet another culture (the local British and American schools for expats) all of these beliefs seemed small minded, bigoted and discriminatory to me and no different from casual racism or whathave you. And they didn't and still don't make sense. While never having been explicitly taught that one must respect differences as peoples were different no matter where they came from and there was no one true way to salvation but what felt right or was the norm for each society/culture, this is nonetheless one of the fundamental basis of my worldview (more so as I'm discovering this as I participate in this thread). Perhaps this is a characteristic of global nomads, and something that is inadvertently the result of a highly mobile childhood.

But now, after having lived in Europe (next door to Norway in fact) as a non European and seen first hand the changing political landscape (True Finns gaining significance this recent election), I've been more sensitized to what has been said above somewhere as the casual contempt displayed towards Muslims and Islams and that its not spoken up against in the way the same tone or approach would be if it were any other [insert 'different' group] regardless of whether its choice (did you choose to born American if being one makes you more likely to be kidnapped in some parts of the world than others?) or a fact of birth (did I choose to be born in the vysya caste, some two levels down from the almighty brahmins?)

So, while there may not be any answers in the near future about these issues, (clash of civilizations? the middle east? headscarf bans?) and certainly we should be discussing them, I also believe that we should give Islam and Muslims the same respectful tones of discourse when conversing online as we do to any of the other touchy topics. Bunny Ultramod has made a very good comment why.

I'll add that I don't personally agree with the beliefs of this religion, particularly as a woman born in a patriarchal society, but my personal opinion is not the issue here. This is quite the same as not deleting a comment that one doesn't agree with.

After playing the Age of Empires expansion pack on Conquerors recently I noticed that instead of saying Turks or Ottomans were invading it was always 'the Moslems" - its small things like that which make me want MetaFilter to set the standard for change just as it does for the inclusive approach to people of all orientations, ethnicities and walks of life.

Thank you.
posted by infini at 3:27 PM on August 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


People sure love to argue about shit.
posted by Pants McCracky at 3:28 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing the latter. But this was presumably a private behavior, among friends, which I addressed above.

The idea that "mocking" religion should necessarily be a private act (whereas religion is generally quite public) is a huge double-standard, and not one that everyone buys into. It also plays straight into the way shame and social pressure are used to discourage people from discussing religion the way we discuss nearly every other social organization.

In short: if you want to view religion as a special thing which mustn't be disrespected in public, fine... but plenty of others disagree, and they are not "dicks" just because they don't agree with you. Much of the "dickish atheist" behavior people complain about (like this ramen thing) wouldn't even move the needle on the dickometer if it were about almost any other subject.
posted by vorfeed at 3:32 PM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the fact that there is debate within the UU community (which does not share the same tradition of hereditary inclusion as Judaism) as to whether or not they are a religion makes it very tough to argue that we should use UU teachings to excuse other religious doctrine.

The same debate can be found in Buddhism. It seems to be a part of any non-montheistic religion in the United States. Many Americans grew up Christian, equate Christianity with religion, and want whatever path they have chosen now to not be a religion. I don't think that the existence of this debate is an indicator of anything more than that.
posted by Quonab at 3:32 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


People sure love to argue about shit.

Just as a heads up, leaving this thread open so that it can become a possibly problematic argument space about religion is something we're a little concerned about. If people want to have a discussion that's fine, though a little tangential. If this becomes a weird holler-at-each other thing, we'll probably close it. Just a heads up.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:35 PM on August 2, 2011


Much of the "dickish atheist" behavior people complain about (like this ramen thing) wouldn't even move the needle on the dickometer if it were about almost any other subject.

True, but as noted, it would be rated as very dickish if about other topics.

I don't think religion is above mockery. But mockery is strong stuff -- it's the primary tool of the bully. And so, for me, it's worth being cautious with, and to be sure that the subject of public mockery is clear and deserving.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:36 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


all religious teaching is savage child abuse.

That has to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever read on MetaFilter. And I've read some pretty ridiculous stuff here. (And hey, I finally figured out how to link to a specific comment!)
posted by 1000monkeys at 3:37 PM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


It seems to be a part of any non-montheistic religion in the United States.

Well, I think most Americans would agree that Hinduism is a religion, although most Americans don't know anything about Hinduism.

As for Buddhism and UU, I honestly think that if American were a majority-Buddhist or majority-UU country, then Buddhism or UU would develop into problematic religion. The dark side of human communities is that we develop codified systems to reward some groups and punish others. Religion is one tool of that.

I guess I'm the kind of atheist who thinks that religion by itself is OK until you add believers.

it's the primary tool of the bully

Isn't it also the primary tool of the jester?
posted by muddgirl at 3:38 PM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


But mockery is strong stuff -- it's the primary tool of the bully.

It's also a tool of lovers, teachers, diplomats, and writers as well.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:40 PM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


empath: The closest I've ever come to anyone telling me that they are part of that church is the many, many atheists who've told me that they'd be a UU if they were forced to pick a religion.

I'm an atheist who tried out Unitarian Universalism for two years or so. What I wanted was "atheism with hymns" but it turns out to be a lot more theistic than I was comfortable with. As far as I can tell, and actual UUs can correct my impression, it's more 'all paths lead to the divine' rather than atheism. On the whole I liked my experience with UU but it's much too religious for a committed heathen such as myself.
posted by Kattullus at 3:40 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't it also the primary tool of the jester?

Yes. It can be a force for good or ill.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:41 PM on August 2, 2011


Kattullus - my impression is that (like some religions :) it varies pretty widely from congregation to congregation. Here in San Antonio we have a more-traditional "all paths" UU congregation and another that has a pretty diverse spread from atheists to agnostics to spiritual what-have-yous.
posted by muddgirl at 3:43 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bunny Ultramod: joking about tragedy, or race, or sexual violence.

A thousand times, any of those and religion ain't the "same ballpark, it ain't the same league, it ain't even the same fuckin' sport."

Notifying people of the importance of refraining from infesting their innocent children with noxious evil dogmas isn't "being a dick." If you are without faith, as you say, and you disagree with me, then you'd be the only person reading this that I would wish to convince if I could only have one today.

I must and will dispense with "sensitivity" (in the sense and to the degree that Joe MeFite would expect) when brutal lies, and, especially, violence, are at stake.
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:44 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Notifying people of the importance of refraining from infesting their innocent children with noxious evil dogmas isn't "being a dick

If you insist this is what all religions do, then there are many who will see it as dickish behavior, and I thinl fairly so.

And I explicitly said they were not the sAme thing, except that these are categories of thibgs it is worthwhile to be cautious about joking about.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:49 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think we're going to close this up. This is taking a turn that is pretty far from "Why was this post deleted" and we don't want to have to oversee an "Is religion child abuse" discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:50 PM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


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