Friday, January 20, 2012

Nutballs From Hell

All religions have their problems and suffer the sins of their fools and Grand Inquisitors.  Islam, like its fellow faiths, has earned the obloquy heaped upon it.


It should be nobody's business how a religion conducts its affairs, but its influence on society is everyone's concern.  If a religion advances the culture and is a boon to the society, all the better.  Even those who don't practice it benefit from it.  It works in reverse also.  A religion can drag a culture down, keeping its people shrouded in ignorance and society mired in misery.

I'll leave it to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions on the differences between Christian-influenced cultures and those under the spell of Islam.

One major difference between Islam and Christianity is the nature of their spectacular sinners, the ones who make the news in some big way. Christians make the front page almost always by acting in violation of the teachings of Christ. Muslims  trigger news updates usually by taking their teachings too far or too literally in defending faith and honor. I must give Islam credit. It's followers are much more fervent than Christ's.

We Christians bear the shame of a minuscule percentage of pedophile priests or flock-fleecing evangelists whose grave sins are not some weird perversion of the faith, but rather a bald-faced repudiation of it. The sin of slavery was ended in large measure by appeals to Christianity, and that faith powered America's civil rights movement. That is an important distinction between Christianity and Islam. While Christian crimes and atrocities spring from a rejection of the Gospel, and are ultimately ended by appeals to the same, Islamic horror shows stem from "misinterpretations" of their sacred texts, or turbo-charging some passage.

"A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike."
This is why the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous: It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be "phobic." A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational. (Christopher Hitchens, Slate)
Islamic Extremists:  Taking it Too Far

All religions that reach back to antiquity have some barbaric aspects to them. Judaism and Christianity have gotten past them (how many stonings happen nowadays in Israel, or Utah?) Islamic societies cling to ancient brutalities and bring them to new heights of horrible culmination.

It is also true that all religions have their kooks and practitioners on the fringes who, when God asks them to take one aspirin, decide to go him one better and gobble the whole bottle. Mormons condemn those "Jack" Mormons who go outside the church and practice polygamy, which often includes teenage girls. All Christians condemn the murder of abortionists and the bombing of their clinics. We are near unanimous in our condemnation of Revrund Phred Phlapps and his First Church of God Hates Fags.  There is no way the teachings of Christ can be twisted out of shape enough to call these actions righteous.

About all I can say in defense of Christianity compared to Islam is that our kooks are less spectacular and have a harder time making the news than their flamboyantly violent Islamist rivals. Violent criminal acts in the name of Christ are so rare as to make each one a singular and memorable event, while Islamic violence has metasticized into a global miasma so routine that it has lost its shock value.

64 comments:

Always On Watch said...

Islamic violence has metasticized into a global miasma so routine that it has lost its shock value.

It has taken on the quality of SSDD.

Ducky's here said...

About all I can say in defense of Christianity compared to Islam is that our kooks are less spectacular and have a harder time making the news than their flamboyantly violent Islamist rivals.

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

Because there has been an organized secular, left wing opposition. What the right fails to acknowledge as the likes of L'il Ricky Santorum tries to drag us back a century or two is that the reform has not been primarily internal.

Check out what's happening with the fundamentalist loons in Israel. Women have rocks thrown at them for wearing short sleeves in the fundamentalist neighborhoods. It's a growing problem. Buses are segregated, women's rights are severely limited.

How long will it take the Middle East to change? Since any progressive force has been crippled, it will be a while and we are certainly not encouraging change.

Ignorance of Islam and a phobic reaction is common in the West as we see in the likes of filth like Pam Geller and Robert Spencer who have a following.

Fact remains, I have a couple Muslim families living within a few doors and they are terrific neighbors.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: My experience has been the same with the Muslims I've known as well.

I also agree with you that the Muslim world suffers from a lack liberalism (of the classical variety).

Ultra-orthodox pelting girls in tank tops with pebbles and spitting on them is wrong, and I'd be mad if it was my daughter, but it's hardly The Stoning of Soraya.

Jack Camwell said...

Yeah I'm going to agree with Ducky on this one. The violence and ultra-fundamentalism is more due to the culture rather than the religion.

It wasn't but 160ish years ago that Christians owned slaves, and actually used the bible to defend their ownership of slaves (I don't think Jesus ever explicitly abrogated slavery). And while the rest of the world outlawed slavery (headed by Britain), in America it took a bloody civil war.

But look at places like Dubai. Yes, they have laws prohibiting the practice of Christianity. The laws there are strict, but you don't see any beheadings or stonings. Why? Because the culture there has been updated. It's very westernized and extremely wealthy.

Every Muslim I've ever known, and I've known quite a few in my life, has firmly and vocally rejected the violence.

Just as Christianity has been misinterpreted over the years, Islam has been misinterpreted.

Jesus said that if your hand sins, you should cut it off. Tell me no one has ever misinterpreted that.

Silverfiddle said...

Dubai is one of the Emirates, and the Emirates pay bribe money to extremists to keep them off their backs. They also deal very harshly with them within their borders.

Christians also used the Bible to abolish slavery.

I haven't noticed any Christians cutting off hands, so I don't know what you meant to say with that last statement. If anything you bolster my point, which is Christianity is now mostly blessedly free from such gross interpretations.

Silverfiddle said...

And those of you who argue its culture, not religion, study up. There will be a part 2 next week examining just that issue...

jez said...

"We are near unanimous in our condemnation of Revrund Phred Phlapps and his First Church of God Hates Fags. There is no way the teachings of Christ can be twisted out of shape enough to call these actions righteous."

I expect and hope you're right, but I'm not sure what a rigorous technical refutation of Phelps' theology would look like. Do you know of one?

beamish said...

"obloquy" - man I haven't seen that word since 9th grade AP English...

hat's off to you Silverfiddle... yo make me dust of my dictionary for a refresher. I like that.

beamish said...

Pssst.

The Westboro "Baptist" clowns are a Democrat political family and law firm pretending to be a church. "Rev." Phelps himself is a disbarred lawyer.

They are not affiliated with any Baptist denominational organization on the planet, nor have ANY of them recieved any sort of ecclesiological or seminary training in the Bible or Christianity anywhere.

They're a publicity stunt with a "hit me and I'll sue" credo.

Hearse chasing lawyers. What will they think of next.

Silverfiddle said...

Jez: You're looking for "a rigorous technical refutation" from me? I'm no theologian.

Other than stinking up servicemen's funerals, they don't cause any harm and people just ignore them. So long as they violate no one's rights, it is their right to be stupid. Now, if they started cutting off sinners' hands, it would be a different story.

The only refutation I could present them is that empirical evidence and The Bible itself reveals that the holy and righteous do not receive their reward in this life. Indeed, every one of Christ's apostles save one met a very bad end.

Also, evil is not always punished in this world. God works on his own timeline.

How's that?

Shaw Kenawe said...

"Also, evil is not always punished in this world. God works on his own timeline.

How's that?"

A nice tergiversation for people who seek revenge for the evil that men do.

jez said...

SF: I thought you might know of one.
I once had an email argument with a Phelps, because I agree with you that they contradict Christianity as I understand it, but I didn't get very far because like you I'm not a theologian. (I made your point about punishing evil I think.) It would be nice if a rigorous treatment did exist somewhere. As academic exercises go, you'd hope this would be an easy one, wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

TERGIVERSATION!

Hurrah! A genuine practicing logophile in our midst at last.

Shaw, no matter what your politics or theological predilections may be, you are a woman after my own heart.

Obfuscation, circumlocution, equivocation, tergiversation -- all the same yet so delightfully different.

Long live variety, color, complexity -- and competence -- in English usage!

Thank you, Shaw. You've made my day.

~ FreeThinke

Silverfiddle said...

tergiversation Wow!

Beamish was congratulating me on using Obloquy, but that one stopped me in my tracks! When I went to Merriam Webster to look it up, an ad asked me if I was writing a book!

Shaw: I was answering Jez's specific question on how to refute the Phelps gang, not trying to blithely explain away all the evil in the world.

beamish said...

"I'm not sure what a rigorous technical refutation of Phelps' theology would look like."

Matthew 7 (the whole chapter)

Ducky's here said...

I haven't noticed any Christians cutting off hands

----
And you don't see it outside of Saudi and very backward rural areas.

Same with stoning. It's very rare.

Much is made of female circumcision. The Dutch broad made a good chunk of cash off that one. Off course it is practiced by all religions and you will find it in Israel among Ethiopian Jews among many others. Why? As we are trying to point out, it is CULTURAL. Study up, bubba.

You don't see Christians doing it because we have a secular culture that keeps the Dominionists and the like under control. Of course you may have your own Deliverance moment among the snake handlers in the rural south but it's isolated.

Phelps is a CULT. He's a scam artist. Not that the sexual neuroses of the Abrahamic faiths won't show up at any time.

Silverfiddle said...

So a few instances of an abhorrent practice is found among a small group on non-Muslims so the whole thing is declared "cultural." Kinda big leap from here to there...

Couldn't they both stem from religion? And that gets back to my point. People can take things too far or on weird tangents. It is seen much more in Islam than in Christian societies, and I think you are correct in that Christian societies benefit from classical liberalism while Islamic lands do not.

Always On Watch said...

A British friend of mine often says, "Religious zealotry in any form is dangerous."

I think she's quite accurate in that statement, particularly if the political sphere and the ecclesiastical sphere are united.

Ducky's here said...

So a few instances of an abhorrent practice is found among a small group on non-Muslims so the whole thing is declared "cultural." Kinda big leap from here to there...

-------
Bull - female circumcision is practiced by all religions in Africa.

It is not universally practiced in Islam.

That leaves you with a tough spin. And rather than admit that radical fundamentalists Luddites are the problem you would rather condemn the entire religion.

Why have Muslims been so successful in the U.S? Possibly because they do fine in a tolerant culture which we are despite the followers of Spencer and Geller? Another one that you will find hard to spin. Or you can do it the hater way (and you don't) and take a story of an honor killing (cultural but let it go) and blow that up to be typical of Islam.
Of course it is no more typical than Texas housewives hearing the lord tell them to drown the kids in the bathtub is typical of Protestantism.

Silverfiddle said...

All religions in Africa Ducky? I don't think so. And the practice is almost nonexistent south of the equator there.

So why did we divert to this narrow topic? Oh yeah! To avoid the main topic...

I'd say there are a few more Muslim clitorectomies in this world than there are fundamentalist Christian women drowning their kids in bathtubs. Nice try.

About all I agree with you on is that when you take Muslims out of Muslim cultures it is possible for them to leave the bad stuff behind.

We do a good job here integrating immigrants, and I thank God for that. The snooty Euros could learn a thing or two from us.

Leticia said...

In every religious group there will always be some people who will cross the line of what they believe in and how they interpret the bible. And embrace hate and hurting others.

Westboro church is a perfect example of insane people who claim to be "Christian" and are most certainly not.

I, actually, found myself agreeing with Ducky, until he mentioned Santorum.

Jack Camwell said...

It's cultural because if it were a religion thing, then Muslims would be extreme everywhere.

All the Muslims I know think it's fairly stupid to want to blow someone up over their faith, and they wholly reject the extremism of Sharia. Why? Because they grew up here in America, a culture that generally frowns upon horrifically violent and rights-violating punishments. As Ducky said, we're a highly secular culture.

You yourself have acknowledged the vast cultural differences between the US and the Middle East. Afghanistan is still stuck in the Middle Ages, which is why democracy might not work there. Also, these are cultures that are not entirely literate, and cultures that have thousands of years of history dominated by strong authority figures.

The UAE is far from perfect (I'm well aware that Dubai is an emirate, not a country unto itself, but whatever), but I can tell you right now that it's nothing like the rest of the Middle East, and it has everything to do with culture.

No, there aren't Christians cutting off their hands, but there are some morons who take it literally. They're just too scared to actually do it, or they know deep down in their heart that Jesus didn't mean it literally. But you can ask some fundamentalists what it means, and some will say he meant it literally.

Trust me, this is not something I'm making up. I've had this conversation before. The guy was telling me that everything in the bible should be taken literally, and when I mentioned that, he said "yes, that's what Jesus meant." When I pointed out that Jesus spoke in parables, allegory, analogies, and what not all the time, his response was "well, Jesus explained things when he didn't mean it literally. And he didn't explain that."

So no, people aren't cutting off their own hands, but they're still full of crap and interpret the bible incorrectly, despite the fact that common sense would dictate that Jesus did not, in fact, mean it literally.

Anonymous said...

" ... if it were a religion thing, then Muslims would be extreme everywhere."

What makes you -- and Ducky -- think they're not?

Have you never heard of TAKEEYA? (I misspell it deliberately, because I despise PC methods of transliterating Oriental languages.)

So many of us "Westerners" make the mistake of assuming that everyone is really just like us underneath all the "superficial" differences.

Sorry they're not. The process some call "acculturation" has a profound impact on mores and behavior.

DECEIVING those outside your particular group to gain economic or political advantage is endemic among SEMITES.

By OUR cultural standards (if we have any left!), they are wily, insidious and devilishly clever.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

" ... Beamish was congratulating me on using Obloquy, but [tergiversation] stopped me in my tracks!"

Ironically amusing that one of the greatest exponents and practitioners of obloquy ij the blogosphere should politely call its usage to your attention, SilverFiddle.

"Life is a comedy to him who thinks ..."

INDEED!

Cheerio!

~ FreeThinke

Jack Camwell said...

FT,
I have friends who are Muslim, and they are not even close to extreme. In fact, they're a lot nicer, tolerant, and peaceful than some hard core Chritians in my own family.

Silverfiddle said...

Jack: That has been my experience as well.

This is not a Muslim bash, but rather a comparison of their nuts vs. our nuts.

Anonymous said...

"I have friends who are Muslim, and they are not even close to extreme. ..."

I hope so, Jack, but the point I was trying to make -- however poorly -- is that you may not really know them at all.

Did you ever see a movie called Day of the Jackal?

It's not about Muslims, but instead about a political assassin. However, the chilling, unsettling difference between appearance and reality that exists all too often is graphically illustrated in that film in way that I have found unforgettable.

"Beware the [human] heart, it is desperately wicked ..."

Christians who don't act like Christians are not Christians, by the way.

Names mean nothing. Actions and stated aims mean everything.

Put your trust in Principle and Truth -- not in people.

~ FreeThinke

MK said...

"Islamic horror shows stem from "misinterpretations" of their sacred texts, or turbo-charging some passage."

So tell me which imams and mosques in iran and saudi arabia have condemned the stoning of women, the slitting of your fellow soldiers throats once captured, the murder of iraqi children and women, the 9/11 attacks, the cold-blooded murder of Jewish women and children.

it's way more than mere misinterpretations and turbo-charging.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Shaw, it should not be up to any of us to seek revenge on the evil that others do, but it is incumbent upon good people of conscience to do whatever may be necessary to stop evil dead in its tracks.

Often the best way to accomplish this would be to absorb the malevolence and the ugliness and never pass it on by responding in kind or taking it out on inappropriate targets.

In my view there could be no greater sin than the self-righteous persecution of those who may -- or may not -- be guilty of anything more dangerous or devious than "looking funny."

That does not mean, however, that we ought not be on our guard.

Jesus said, "Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

I believe that, but it does not mean we should invite trouble, tempt Fate, or let aggressors walk all over us.

Always a fine line between sanity and mental imbalance.

Life may be likened unto a walk on a Burning Tightrope stretched over a Bottomless Pit.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

As Ogden Nash whimsically put it:


If you run into a panther,

Don't anther



"Panthers," or the moral equivalents thereof, should NOT be running loose in Civilized precincts.

Civilization and The Jungle never have, never can -- and never will -- mix anymore than a dollop of used crankcase oil would enhance the flavor of your favorite kind of omelette.

~ FreeThinke

Kid said...

I don't think the USA should recognize any religion as such unless it conforms to basic human rights concepts. islam surely does not.
Done.
Next.

Ducky's here said...

I don't think the USA should recognize any religion

-----

You should have stopped there but let's explore what you mean by the U.S. "recognizing" a religion.

Jersey McJones said...

All this bla bla bla!!!

ALL religion is stupid. It is ALL basically the same. And again, it is ALL stupid.

So then, what is the difference between one religious people and another? Culture, as Ducky is plainly expressing.

For the Islamic world to come to embrace our way of looking at things, they must liberalize, Silver points out, though he insists only "classical liberalism" counts, ignoring that big "liberal" word there.

Now, would it be better if they saw things our way? Maybe, I don't know. Only time would tell. Is what they're doing now working? Not for them (though it makes a lot of money here in the stupid ol' US of A).

We need to open cultural communications. We need trade and technology to show the people on the "Arab Street" and Iran that there is great benefit to life in a liberal, secular society.

Remember, religion is stupid no matter what. So therefore, ignoring religion is always a good idea.

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

ALL religion is stupid. It is ALL basically the same. And again, it is ALL stupid.

Yes, including Reverend Al Gore's International Church of Environmentalism, and Progressivism.

Get off your knees, Jersey!

Finntann said...

What makes you think religion and culture are two separate and distinct things?

Jersey, you epitomize what is wrong with western-middle eastern dialogue.

"Your religion is stupid... here is a nice plasma TV in compensation".

ROFLMAO

You just don't get it.

Cheers!

beamish said...

Ironically amusing that one of the greatest exponents and practitioners of obloquy ij the blogosphere should politely call its usage to your attention, SilverFiddle.

Keep insisting on your mumpsimus, FeetStinke.

beamish said...

Silverfiddle,

off-topic invitation

Jersey McJones said...

Finntann, my point is simple - we can't change a people's religion, but we can affect their culture. Arguing over religion is as pointless and irrational as religion itself.

JMJ

Z said...

FT, you said "Christians who don't act like Christians are not Christians, by the way"

I don't like getting into this stuff, particularly at someone else's blog, but that's as good as saying "Christians are perfect" or "Christians don't sin". As you know, that's absolutely not true. Christians have something else inside, and usually (but not always) strive to act like Christ, follow the teachings perfectly, but......do they make it? Never.

Z said...

FT, by the way, imagine ANYTHING in Scripture or in God's love that would support any of those posters in Silverfiddle's picture with this article? Absurd, isn't it.

Ducky's here said...

FT, you said "Christians who don't act like Christians are not Christians, by the way"

-----

You are what you do.

The little internal conversation is nothing (it doesn't even exist) unless it is manifested in acts.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather put it this way, Ducky:

We are what we believe.

There's a big difference between pretending to believe, feeling obligated to pretend to believe, and really believing.

My experience has shown me that those who really believe feel no neurotic compulsion to argue or forcefully persuade others to share the belief in question.

Truth -- whatever it may turn out to be -- is the only constant. It is eternal and immutable, and not in any way subject to the whims of popular opinion or the most fervent, well-intentioned wishful thinking.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Another point in favor of thought before action:

"The thought is father to the deed."

In other words we need to straighten out our thinking before we dare take any action.

Of course that didn't help Hamlet very much, did it? ;-)

~ FT

Anonymous said...

QUESTION for DUCKY:

Do you consider Jesus Christ, Martin Luther, Henry VIII, Cromwell, The Pilgrim Fathers, Roger Williams (of Rhode Island fame), William Penn, Mother Ann Lee, and Mary Baker Eddy to have been "left-wing activists?"

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Z, I think you must understand that I, personally, am certain that a pervasive attitude of self-righteousness, an unwillingness or inability to forgive and forget, an unwillingness to give the benefit of the doubt, and any tendency to favor punishment over tolerance, meek acceptance, and mercy is decidedly un-Christian.

Of course no one is perfect, but those who fail to make any attempt to see themselves as others see them are guilty of the deadly sin of Pride.

Unfortunately, there are lots and lots of people who attend church regularly, donate money to support it, teach Sunday School, work on committees dedicated to worthy causes, and even sing in choirs ;-) whose hearts are as black as pitch.

I don't care what these types call themselves they are NOT Christians.

Maybe they qualify as "CHRSTINOS", but they are NOT Christians.

~ FreeThinke

Always On Watch said...

FT,
Hamlet! My class read the play this year and got fed up with his constant procrastination.

Always On Watch said...

FT,
Who can know the human heart?

Human beings -- all of us -- are so flawed!

And Christians are very good at deprecating their fellow Christians. Sad in so many ways.

Of course, Z's blog is her property, so whatever rules she has or tone she desires is her prerogative.

I guess that forgiving and forgetting do not mean embracing.

Whatever.

Not my dispute, really.

Z said...

Always, no, it's not. But thanks for even pointing out there seemed to be a dispute again. I'm so done.
And yes, I didn't expect to see such deprecation in return for my comment but, you never know how things hit people.

FT...MY GOSH, I'm so sorry you took my comment so personally.
all the best.

Silverfiddle said...

@ Ducky: You are what you do.

The little internal conversation is nothing (it doesn't even exist) unless it is manifested in acts.


I get the chance to say this so rarely, so let's all relish the warm feeling it engenders...

Wise words, Ducky, especially as it pertains to Christianity.

Anonymous said...

AOW, and Z,

I try to avoid "personalties" as much as possible, and base my remarks on basic principles that I believe serve the best interests of Truth -- as I understand it.

Apparently, there are times when the statements produced feel like an attack on individuals who don't agree with the observations made -- or a willful attempt on my part to humiliate or discredit the cherished notions of others.

Such is not the case. I'm sorry if it comes across that way.

I think all of us should be free to support, defend and extend our understanding of issues and events without recrimination. Unfortunately, things rarely work that way in human encounters. I think that's because most of us are very sensitive about our cherished beliefs -- and most of us are also extremely vain, and, therefore, inclined to be defensive and very touchy.

If only our species could develop more curiosity and less defensiveness, more flexibility and less intractability, we might be able to move out of the realm of eternal contentiousness and into the light at last.

Critical analysis is not -- and should never be regarded as -- the equivalent of an ad hominem attack. The former is a healthy exercise necessary to advance knowledge and deepen understanding. The latter is unfortunate -- at best and terribly destructive at worst.

~ FreeThinke

Always On Watch said...

FT,
When emotions run high for whatever reason, all of us can easily slip into ad hominem attacks. As you know, I always try to avoid such attacks. Still, I've been known to go "scorched earth" on occasion.

I can't speak for others, but I know that in my case, I can type in something that I'd never say to someone else in person -- or even over the phone.

most of us are very sensitive about our cherished beliefs -- and most of us are also extremely vain, and, therefore, inclined to be defensive and very touchy.

Absolutely.

Overall, all of us human beings are a mess -- and will remain so until full sanctification in the next life.

Z said...

from what I wrote about Christians being sinless (everyone, no personalities mentioned, right? none had even crossed my mind...please read it again)this sure has taken a wild and even rather insulting turn with odd references that confound any rationality.

But, have at it, folks!:-)

AOW...you're right. Best to never name call or be insulted by anything clearly and obviously not meant to insult.
WOW

Anonymous said...

And the beat goes on ...

Doubtless, if we human beings could see ourselves as others see us, mass suicide would take place within seconds.

And as my mother always said, "If thoughts could kill, there wouldn't be a soul alive anywhere on earth."

It's a shame that people have the tendency to allow themselves to become so enamored of their prejudices, and faulty perceptions, and so sensitized to our vain imaginings and valiant projections of our worst fears about ourselves that we do, indeed, become irrational.

Does anyone remember my oft-quoted parable called The Son-of-a-Bitch Game?

It's well worth remembering, but only if we could LEARN from it.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

"I can't speak for others, but I know that in my case, I can type in something that I'd never say to someone else in person -- or even over the phone."

That, of course, is endemic to the blogosphere. I think it's a lot like "road rage." Behind the wheel of a car people can too easily imagine themselves "anonymous" and therefore unaccountable, so the normal social controls loosen and sometimes disappear altogether. The results, as we know, can be tragic.

Something very like that happens in internet venues -- and it doesn't really matter what subject is being discussed. If you've ever read some of the remarks posted at YouTube regarding such seemingly gentle, innocuous concerns as performances of Mozart arias or comparisons among various concert artists' interpretations of masterworks, you'd soon realize that the same depressing dynamics that plague political blogs and websites are in play everywhere else.

I am always sorry when someone feels bad about something I've posted, because they take it as a personal insult, but at the same time I refuse to stop being myself in hopes of never offending anyone.

"Avoid loud and aggressive persons - they are vexations to the spirit."

Max Ehrmann gave us good advice there.

I would add only that life would be far more pleasant if we made it a rule always to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

~ FreeThinke

beamish said...

I give everyone the benefit of the doubt from the start, until such a time I fully doubt the benefit of continuing to do so.

Humanity excels at domesticating animals and removing pests, after all.

Anonymous said...

"What makes you think religion and culture are two separate and distinct things?"

Great question! A dominant religion feeds, informs, shapes and ultimately defines a culture.

Until recently the USA never question the fact of its identity as a Christian nation. Even those who never went along with Christianity, never joined a church, and claim to be atheists or agnostics have, even so, been so steeped in the long-dominant Christian ethos their views on human relationships can't help having been influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Now in this demented New Age that unabashedly embraces cynicism, insolence, perversity and everything else that flies in the face of common sense and common decency that is no longer true. Evidence of our steep decline amid the rise of neo-barbarism seems directly linked to the successful efforts to have prayer, Bible reading and open allegiance to our Almighty Creator removed from public life.

The new dominant religion is a combination of Militant Atheism and Secular Humanism. Its deleterious effects on society are all too evident -- at least to those of us who've been around for more than six decades.

~ FreeThinke

Always On Watch said...

Z,
I've never known you to name call. Indeed, I've seen you time and again try to encourage commenters not to name call.

Can't say the same about myself -- although I rarely do so.

The heated political and philosophical atmosphere that we're living in is ugly, ugly, ugly. Calls for good behavior are going to be even more ignored until after the 2012 Election. **sigh**

Always On Watch said...

FT,
I am always sorry when someone feels bad about something I've posted, because they take it as a personal insult, but at the same time I refuse to stop being myself in hopes of never offending anyone.

Well, many times I can't be myself!

For example, as a teacher, I so often have to bite my tongue that's it's a wonder that I have any tongue at all!

In my view, we do need to consider the damage that our sharp tongues can cause. Collateral damage, too.

Longfellow had it right when he wrote "The Arrow."

I have spend much of the last 35 years learning to say things in a way not to piss people off -- and, at the same time, still state my viewpoint.

Anonymous said...

Well, AOW, I think you must know by now that I admire you in many ways, and we tend to agree on most things. This issue is no exception.

Unfortunately, irrational antipathies develop in this medium more easily than in any other. When one becomes the object of a persistent campaign based on pointed dislike, disapproval, distrust, and the most vulgar, indecent forms of vilification imaginable, it's extremely difficult not to feel unjustly persecuted and -- let's face it -- angry.

In situations of that sort there is virtually NOTHING the target can say that is not given the most dismal, uncharitable interpretation imaginable.

It's a hideous phenomenon. Perhaps it would be better to let one's tormenters and inquisitors "win," by simply disappearing. Surely that would make them happy, and peace would be restored to the blog or website, but where does that leave the "target?"

Should fools and evildoers always get their way, just because they have enough hate in their hearts to win by attrition?

If we can't "be ourselves' in a medium like this, where could we ever?

Must ALL of life be reduced to a hypocritical charade in order to appease the would-be tyrants who lurk everywhere waiting for an opportunity to pounce?


~ FreeThinke

jez said...

Beamish:
Phelps might see "Matthew 7 (the whole chapter)" as a bit glib. He would claim that he is not proclaiming his own judgement, but reporting god's.
If Matthew 7 is the end of the story, how is it possible to preach at all in a biblical manner? How can you eg. admonish or discriminate against homosexuals without breaking Matthew 7? I expect you think there's more to it than that.

Always On Watch said...

FT,
In situations of that sort there is virtually NOTHING the target can say that is not given the most dismal, uncharitable interpretation imaginable.

This is an inordinately difficult medium.

I guess that I come down on the side of tact -- and one the side of having a tough skin and taking many comments with a grain of salt. I try not to type in something that I wouldn't say face to face. It ain't easy participating in the blog medium, and running a blog is even more difficult!

beamish said...

Phelps might see "Matthew 7 (the whole chapter)" as a bit glib. He would claim that he is not proclaiming his own judgement, but reporting god's.

He'd be wrong.

If Matthew 7 is the end of the story, how is it possible to preach at all in a biblical manner? How can you eg. admonish or discriminate against homosexuals without breaking Matthew 7? I expect you think there's more to it than that.

There is that whole Matthew chapter 10 thing too ;)

It's readily clear that Christians ARE NOT called to admonish or discriminate against homosexuals or any other sinners, but rather share the Gospel with them (and depart, knocking the dust off their sandals from places they are unwelcome.)

"Rev." Phelps "in your face" ministry and lawsuits to remain "in your face" are proof enough he and his law firm / "church" lack both Biblical grounding and God's imprimatur.

He's a fraud, and moreso, if he's studying the Bible at any concievable depth, he KNOWS he's a fraud.

beamish said...

Billy Graham's ministry has, over decades, led literally millions into confessions of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Can anyone name any person converted to Christian faith and belief by the Phelps' sideshow freaks. Any? Just one?

Does that mean Phelps' "God" hates Billy Graham?

jez said...

(I am, literally, playing devil's advocate here -- I agree with you that Phelps is wrong, but I wanna be able to prove it... hit and run scripture bombs can work both ways, as you must know)

Phelps would say
a) "shake the dust off your feet" is an instruction specifically given to the appointed 12 (or is it 70? or 72?) who were also powers of healing and exorcism etc.; we're not talking about your common-or-garden present-day evangelist here. Other instructions such as not to stop with the Samaritans or the Gentiles is at odds with the way evangelism is done today.

b) If he decided that stuff did apply to his ministry, he would draw comfort from such phrases as "You will be hated by everyone because of me", "you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues." and "When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another" -- doesn't say don't get persecuted in the first place, just to keep moving around when it happens. He would read that and see his familiar pattern of flying out to a site, protesting, getting persecuted and then leaving.

c) He would notice the reference to Soddom and Gomorrah, reinforcing the centrality anti-gay rhetoric in his ministry.


"Can anyone name any person converted to Christian faith and belief by the Phelps' sideshow freaks. Any? Just one?"

Well, there's one non-Phelps family in WB that I know of.
They're Calvinists, so they don't really aim to convert people, that's up to God.

I asked them how come they never mention Grace, and Shirley Phelps just responded "what would be the point?" basically. Direct quote:

"...if God does not give you grace, it is because you were created a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction. If you are a vessel of wrath that was only created to be destroyed, what would be the value of telling you that if you would only drum up a little grace, you will be okay?"

Begs the question, what's the point of preaching doom?