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Either Post-Mortem or Ressurection: the Conversation with H J

November 8th, 2008 · Posted by Hugo · 44 Comments

(UPDATE: in an email conversation, H J and I have made amends, apologising to one another for getting riled up. This post hopes to encourage readers and commenters to avoid getting tangled up in such mutual-riling-uppings in the future. Understand how it happens, seek to avoid it.)

On Monday, an ordained minister and author commenting under the initials “H J” visited this blog and left us five comments. I think it worthwhile to pick apart how this conversation got derailed, or never found rails in the first place.

Her first comment:

Cynical and uninformed. What a bore these comments are. Ever thought of checking the facts before opining? Or would that defeat the object?

Comments, plural. I’m not sure which comments exactly she was referring to. Does she include the blog post itself, or does she mean the comments? I think “Turn or Burn”‘s comment was probably the most inflammatory, but she chose plural. Seems like a generally sweeping comment to me? I responded:

H J, do you have some facts to share with us?

While I was being patient, I wasn’t patient and thoughtful enough. In retrospect, I could have gone with “H J, can you be a little bit more specific, please? Is there something specific you could point at that you feel is uninformed or cynical?”

Her second comment:

Why would you expect me to do your homework for you? Seems like you have far too much time to chat baloney and party, and not enough work to do. Do your own research, washing, cleaning and cooking, and earn your own keep. By that time, you should have something worthwhile to contribute to society. Being part of the solution instead of part of the problem will make you feel better about yourself, and more positive about living on the planet. Then people will be interested in what you have to say. At the moment the only people who take note are those who share the same grouchy couch potato attitude, and those who happen to land here by coincidence – like me. Here’s hoping you get a life soon.

Now isn’t that a direct personal attack, if you ever saw one? Completely and utterly uninformed, unresearched, unwarranted. Angry? This comment rubs me up the wrong way in so many ways, I don’t even think I should start explaining.

In fact, just revisiting this comment requires me to breathe deeply and calm myself. At this point I didn’t know she was an author (of Christian books) or a minister, or female for that matter. But she obviously considered herself a Christian, valiantly defending Shofar. And unfortunately another giving Christianity a terrible name.

I thought it possible to open a conversation with such a person, both at the time of commenting there, and starting this blog post (at which point I wondered “wait, who is H J?”, and I did a quick Google search based on her email address).

Kenneth was the first to come to the defence of our little community (me the blogger, and my readers and commenters):

The above comment is both cynical.
And uninformed.
Pot, meet kettle.

Her next comment had her dishing out advice to me, which in retrospect makes much more sense if you realise that’s the role she typically plays. But again, her advice is premature, because she doesn’t know me. She calls me angry, warns me to keep seeking and avoid becoming a close-minded bigot. She says I have a backlog to catch up, as I received no training in the humanities (being an engineer). But, apart from that, I think some well-meant words of encouragement. Including this cute sentence:

Words create atmosphere, and your negativity and judgementalism about things you do not understand, are attracting negative things to you.

The problem was, in her previous comments, her words had created an atmosphere of negativity and judgementalism of my friends and I, people she does not understand, and this attracted some negative attitudes back to her.

What we must realise is, often people that find themselves in the “One True Church”(TM) or something of similar persuasion, really do believe they have the one truth. They are used to constant reinforcement from their friends and community. A direct and pointed challenge to their claims and ways is something they really are not used to. Now what do you think happens when you attempt to directly and blatantly point out to an ordained minister and Christian book author their own hypocrisy? You don’t get to start a conversation…

Sometimes you have to swallow the abuse other people hurl at you, and return nothing but compassion. After creating a relationship, after building some dialogue and interaction, only then can you find enough to build on to get to the point of explaining how the other’s words came across, carefully and gently.

H J’s last comment was this:

Oh and Hugo is allowed to insult and defame and spread false rumours about Shofar, brand anyone who believes the Bible as a foam at the mouth fundamentalist and offend them. That is perfectly ok. Everyone who disagrees is a troll according to you. Yeah yeah. Same tune, same chorus. It was not entertaining, enlightening or in any way worth the effort. Closed mind. Close the door. What a waste. Ho hum and so goodbye to you.

I would like to understand what she’s so upset about. Apart from the things she seems rather sensitive about: did I even call anyone a fundamentalist, anywhere in the past… many months? I’ve been consciously avoiding name calling for quite some time, and would like to have it pointed out to me if anyone perceives something I did not intend. And yet, “foam at the mouth fundamentalist”…

I realise the other problematic and likely unknown word is “troll”…

H J, I would like to apologise for coming on so strong in my blog. I didn’t mean any disrespect to you, but it is hard to remain completely calm when you and your friends have been accused of a number of horrible things. I’m sure you can appreciate that, as it seems you experienced a similar offence (even if it was not meant). I would still like to converse, if it is at all possible.

I thought a couple of words of clarification might be needed with regards to the word “troll”: it is internet jargon. See the Wikipedia page. The term trolling originates from the fishing technique by the same name. A troll, in the context of the Internet, is someone who throws out some bait on a public forum of some sort with the intent of provoking a response, rather than taking part in any worthwhile discussion. With this explanation, can you better understand why it looked like you were trolling with your first couple of comments? It wasn’t a case of name calling with mythological Scandinavian creatures.

We could have a conversation via email, if you like. If we do, I may write a summary of our conversation, which I will send to you for approval before publishing, or, “as jy kans sien”, we can try and have a civil discussion directly on my blog. This email is a part of a new blog post that summarises Monday’s exchange. I know blogs are often not the ideal place for a conversation. The open and public nature can make it quite hostile. We’ll try our best to remain civil though, if you will do the same. Basically, we only request that people refrain from behaviour that looks like trolling.

In particular, I would like to understand how you experienced the previous exchange. What exactly was it that you felt was “spreading false rumours”? At which point did you feel I was implying anyone was a fundamentalist? (Your words were “foam in the mouth fundamentalist”.)

You know, fundamentalism was originally a positive word. It was used by Christians that wanted to reaffirm a number of fundamentals of their faith. One of my Shofar acquaintances actually told me he’s quite happy to be labelled a fundamentalist.

To be clear about the purpose of this discussion: it will be about mutual understanding. For example, I want to understand what was upsetting to you. I am working on communicating as clearly and neutrally as possible. I would also love to be understood, like any human, and not judged and lectured to from the get go, so if you’re interested in obtaining a better understanding of how I think or feel about things, that would also be great.

I hope to hear from you. Even if it is only a polite request that I don’t contact you again. I will respect that, and take that as the default position if I don’t hear from you. But, like I said…

Hoping to hear from you,
Hugo

Categories: Worldviews
Tags: · · ·

44 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hugo // Nov 8, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Here’s a question:

    Am I a troll?

    You can certainly make a case for the fact that I do some trolling, with my blog, in the fishing sense, but the aim is to have a meaningful conversation, not to provoke the kind of response I seem too good at provoking. :-/

  • 2 Hugo // Nov 8, 2008 at 11:32 am

    And the big question: is it possible for all the regulars on this blog to maintain the necessary patience? My regulars, yes. But naturally there can be some outbursts by unknowns that stumble across it. Or dear old Al and his remarkable and interesting, but ultimately discussion-derailing comments. ;)

    So my thinking returns to what can be implemented in mengelmoes to help manage this problem. We can brainstorm and build on some of the ideas I have when mengelmoes’ time comes.

  • 3 Clare // Nov 8, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    How disappointing! One would have hoped that a minister of the church would be able to contribute positively to a discussion and appreciate people asking honest questions. I admit I do find myself wondering quite what she was doing finding random blogs to attack online, as it would have been perfectly possible for her to write a considered and thoughtful response.

    Does this mean that I and others here are ‘grouchy couch potatoes’? Here I was thinking that we were a generally upbeat, compassionate group trying to think about how we can do good in the world. I have always appreciated your honest, open, creative and playful curiosity and strongly urge you to keep blogging. As long as you are checking your facts, citing your sources and not attacking people, I see no reason why you should keep thinking aloud and letting us join you.

    Finally, as a humanities graduate and tutor of undergraduates, I can assure you that there is nothing wrong with your writing here. On the contrary, from the snippets you’ve shown above, it appears to be our guest who makes wild, emotive accusations and doesn’t support her arguments with examples or clarify points.

    Keep the discussion going!

  • 4 Hugo // Nov 8, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks Clare!

    I received a wonderful and thoughtful email in respose to the email above. I’m on my way to sight-see San Fran, but tonight I will reply, via email. I will hopefully post a concluding blog post on this matter before Europe starts working on Monday.

    Hugo

  • 5 Ben-Jammin' // Nov 8, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    And the big question: is it possible for all the regulars on this blog to maintain the necessary patience? My regulars, yes.

    Ha! I wouldn’t be so sure about that…I often fail at biting my tongue.

    I’ve been consciously avoiding name calling for quite some time, and would like to have it pointed out to me if anyone perceives something I did not intend. And yet, “foam at the mouth fundamentalist”…

    You criticized the ‘us’, making you part of ‘them’ – you got lumped together with Dawkins etc. Kind of ironic.

  • 6 Hugo // Nov 9, 2008 at 11:44 am

    But you try. As far as I can tell. To me, that’s what counts. ;)

    With regards to link back to some of the worst cringe-inducing posts from a year back. In terms of “quite some time”, I dare trace things back to around February this year, but I get very skittish about anything older than that. End of last year had my mind wired in some really scary ways, blame my thesis: you lose some touch with reality if you don’t have enough social interaction and stress too much about certain other things. So the way I expressed many of my thoughts was seriously out of whack, even if I can still go about explaining, to some degree, what I was thinking and meaning with such posts…

    *Cringe*. I’m certainly glad I’ve calmed down and reconnected. I’m much less terrified contemplating any post since Feb. A number of them do disappoint me, but I don’t think there’s any that horrify me as much as some of the worst ones from a month or three earlier.

  • 7 Kenneth Oberlander // Nov 9, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Hmmm…what about post limit on politeness? I know PZ has something like this on his blog. An inflammatory comment of the potential troll kind must be responded to politely, as must the followup. But, if by the third comment, it is plain that the person is a troll, then the gloves come off.

    Granted, it doesn’t always work, but at least by doing this you give the poster a chance to show that they aren’t trolling?

    And the big question: is it possible for all the regulars on this blog to maintain the necessary patience?

    Although I understand that you try your level best not to offend, I can’t promise this in return if I find a really offensive poster. I generally tend not to respond to stuff like this, but those particular comments hit a nerve. Sorry.

  • 8 Hugo // Nov 9, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Well… the thing is, I’d ideally like infinite, unlimited politeness. ;) I’m certainly not in the market to become a South African PZ.

    The problem here is we are dealing with a collective. Take your gloves off after three trolling comments, and get a little bit nasty, then you’ve just been nasty to the whole collective. Similarly, or conversely, “Turn or Burn” writes a comment on my blog, then my whole blog suddenly turns into a negative, or even “satanic” thing, and I’m held “spiritually responsible” for all the material on it. I’m not saying that’s right or suggesting we avoid that problem, that will be impossible as I believe in free speech, but I’m sketching out the scenario to give context to the ideals of responding.

    Many people are open to evidence. Many are not. Seeing as you deal with science students, maybe you meet more of the former than the latter? In this particular scenario, they have “irrefutable evidence” for the existence of demons: a literal interpretation of the Bible. And on top of that, they have the confirmation of witnessing events that they could interpret in that way.

    Generally, I’d advise “well, I don’t believe in demons… I interpret the evidence as such and such and such, and I don’t trust this or that. I kinda like how RLP handles them, see this link…” – but I would not say “you are wrong for believing in demons”. Doing the latter makes you look “close minded”, and ends up pretty much discrediting this entire blog in their eyes. ;) So what’s the point then? If there’s that much of an irrational uncritical non-thinking response, why even bother trying to not offend? Because there’s so many other juicy bits that we can discuss in a non-offensive manner.

    I suspect this will basically require that we adopt a guideline of avoiding debating the typical outsider (to this blog) and have a friendly internal discussion. (Except, of course, if they explicitly want to take part in a debate.) To outsiders and droppers-by then, I suggest the default approach is just to explain why we don’t see it that way, but in a way that lets them believe what they want. I.e. the “ok, that’s your truth, that’s fine. I just don’t see it that way” approach, and then continue merrily on our way. This is to not upset commenters that just want to drop a word because of their frustration and disagreement, but don’t want to enter into debate.

    Rationale: not everyone is open to evidence-based-reasoning. The aim is to not upset those that are not open to it, while providing a place where those that are open can enter into a discussion, should they choose to. “The mission, should you choose to accept it”, is to provide a passive filter for clear self-selection: those that have clearly self-selected and want to have a discussion, they can be drawn in.

    We’d have to discourage the likes of “Turn and Burn” and idle pointless speculation. What does he accomplish with that? Nothing. Apart from driving the wedge in deeper.

    NB: I think (or hope) that the reason for this approach will make much more sense when I finally get around to taking this blog on a particular focused direction I’ve been meaning to steer it on for the past nine months. In short: I believe there to be much more useful contributions to make than to tackle individuals that are provoked into discussion.

    And this is a long plan: some of my old posts were aiming to provoke somewhat intentionally, but in the opposite direction. The aim was to try and prepare the/my community for peacefully responding to obvious provocation, or even trolling. If I take a global enough view of my blog, past, present, and future, I think I could build a pretty good case that some of my old posts were trolling, but with a long-term plan or purpose in mind.

    Sorry for verbosely hacking out my thoughts here, I’m working on distilling them into a couple of posts that can act as guidelines to refer people to.

  • 9 Hugo // Nov 10, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Chances are, the public spotlight is simply too harsh a place for certain conversations… But 1-on-1 is too inefficient. I’m now contemplating creating a somewhat closed discussion group for certain kinds of discussions, where a handful of people can take part. Maybe we can invite a spectator or two to observe from “behind the window”, if they are interested in learning. Groups can then reform and spread out, in the idealistic case of a growing trend of people that want to help out.

  • 10 Linda // Nov 10, 2008 at 4:28 am

    *[comment moved by editor to newer post, on Linda’s request]*

  • 11 Kenneth Oberlander // Nov 10, 2008 at 8:48 am

    I’m certainly not in the market to become a South African PZ.

    Perish the thought!

  • 12 gerhard // Nov 12, 2008 at 10:26 am

    what is she so upset about? she’s a foaming at the mouth fundamentalist.
    attack first , because everything possibly contradictory or critical , is poppycock ..

    clare: you obviously don’t ‘question’ priests often enough without deifying them , you’ll learn they degress to this form of rhetoric more often than you think. when i tried this at the Vatican i almost got kicked out.. had i not wanted to see the Sistine chapel then i probably would have ended up continuing and received one of their lifetime bans..

    lucky they can’t still hand out death sentences for that kinda stuff because i’m sure they deep down long for those days..

  • 13 Hugo // Nov 12, 2008 at 10:41 am

    gerhard, this is uncalled for:

    she’s a foaming at the mouth fundamentalist.

    I would really prefer we refrain from that kind of name calling.

    And about your comment to clare… gerhard, I think you obviously don’t deal with good “priests” enough. (Pastors, ministers, people that are there to do good for their congregation, doing them a real service.) I bet clare obviously has more exposure to those kinds of ministers/pastors.

    You obviously have a problem with a little bit too much arrogance. Obviously. So… can we maybe scale down on this kind of statement-of-matter-of-fact style? Please?

    kthx.

  • 14 Hugo // Nov 12, 2008 at 10:45 am

    (Worth a shot, gerhard is a pseudo-regular.)

    gerhard, you understand what I’m getting at? It’s a friendly request to be a bit more compassionate and aware. It also sounds to me like you’ve incorrectly stereotyped clare, based on my interpretation of:

    you obviously don’t ‘question’ priests often enough without deifying them ,

    if my interpretation is correct (which it might not be, what did you mean?), you are practically doing the same thing H J did. I.e. potentially being borderline hypocritical yourself. Which is why I suggest you tone down a bit.

    Makes sense, no?

  • 15 gerhard // Nov 13, 2008 at 10:32 am

    hugo , i understand but i think you may not have consider this. How much experience do i have in arguing with people like good priests? my comment was about that. thj’s reaction was exactly the point, she was foaming. Priests , even good ones, expect this above and beyond level of respect and unquestionabe. they get trained for very specific questions and thinking that comes up. they can defend against that .. but if you come along and think out of the box, ie. in areas their training is useless in. then they go 1427 on your ass.

    I also don’t consider what they do a real service , i consider them a funded poison taking advantage of people who rather should be going to seeking professional help. If we got rid of their funding and started placing our social expectations where they belong (ie. government) then maybe things would be looking better in the world around us.
    instead we just go, yes well the chuch should do something about that …

    my comment towards clare was meant as ‘oi, dont be so surprised, wait till you start talking to even the most moderate of priests and have cornered them.. then you start seeing their true virtue’

  • 16 Clare // Nov 13, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Gerhard, don’t worry, I under no illusion about this kind of thing; I just think it’s worth holding them to some kind of professional standards.

  • 17 gerhard // Nov 13, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    clare: but then wouldn’t they have to have some sort of professional standing?

  • 18 Clare // Nov 13, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Gerhard: Maybe we can aim for basic manners and decency then?

  • 19 Hugo // Nov 13, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    gerhard, you socialist/communist! ;)

    I also don’t consider what they do a real service , i consider them a funded poison taking advantage of people who rather should be going to seeking professional help.

    The church I love most does not represent the general Christian population, sure. But they certainly provide a service. And “my pastor” would be the first person to refer people to professional help should they need it.

    Why do so many people go to church if they’re getting nothing out of it? They certainly do get something out of it. That which they get, is a service. I’d say if you knew more sophisticated theologians, at least the kind I’ve been talking to over the last few years… sigh, ok never mind.

    If we got rid of their funding and started placing our social expectations where they belong (ie. government) then maybe things would be looking better in the world around us.
    instead we just go, yes well the chuch should do something about that …

    I may be somewhat left-leaning, but I believe in a free market. I believe the government’s role should be more limited than you seem to suggest. If there’s something wrong with the world, I’d like the general population to make an effort to help out, out of their own free will. In Christianity, the general population that subscribes to the shared mythos, is the church. Not the leadership, not the hierarchical structure, not the institution. In the Christian mythos, we are all the body of Christ, and if you have a literal understanding of that, yikes. Expressed in the context of the Christian narrative, if you’re doing good and living out compassion, you’re doing Christ’s work. And it’s cool if you call it by another name. Buddhists might talk about karma or something.

    That concept of an ideal way of life (which is unattainable) – a concept, not something that “exists” in a positivist sense – is something I’d call “divine”. (And a piece of cake can be divine, if it’s so good that it blows your mind, in getting you in touch with what the best thing is about being alive.) Many faith traditions then, have a language and a mythos with which to talk about “divinity”. Many take it too literally, and are exclusivistic in claiming that only their tradition may talk about divinity, but we’re not talking about that right now. Some people speculate that we will need to develop a new language to talk about the divine, that our old languages don’t work anymore. The reason? Because it is too attached to literalism.

    I’m going to stop here. I could go to more effort in an attempt to make this comment more digestible to e.g. gerhard, but I don’t think it worthwhile. Maybe it is digestible enough already, or maybe it is incurably indigestible. I can’t really know. For the rest of my readers, I have more faith that they’ll appreciate what I’m trying to communicate.

  • 20 Linda // Nov 13, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Ummm… just to put my two cents in…

    I don’t find gerhard’s remarks offensive at all. Yes, he does have a bit of an arrogant tone, but hey… no one’s perfect. ;-)

    Gerhard, I rather like the way you express your thoughts/feelings with ‘in-your-face’ honesty. Is it just me? *shrug*

    That said, it seems as though you have not had enough exposure to the type of priests and pastors who are much better equipped to help those in pain than many of these so-called “professionals” you speak of. I’ve seen religious church leaders do great emotional harm, and I’ve also seen them save lives. (I am one of those survivors.) You cannot just make a blanket statement about all of them.

    I do, however, greatly appreciate your (and others’) perspective.

  • 21 Ben-Jammin' // Nov 13, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    In the Christian mythos, we are all the body of Christ, and if you have a literal understanding of that, yikes.

    We’re all crackers! :)

  • 22 Hugo // Nov 13, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Thanks Ben. ;) In retrospect, I’m making my own theological statements/beliefs. Wikipedia currently suggests:

    “Body of Christ” is used by some Protestants who style themselves as “Bible-believing Christians” to describe believers in Christ.[citation needed]

    Which is an interesting situation… only if you take a “one true church” angle, whereby all “believers in Christ”, of whatever persuasion, are included, and then combine the separate beliefs in that group’s diversity, can you make that conclusion, as we need to take the cracker component from Catholicism and the above from Protestantism…

    Hmmm… (and this is me over-analysing humour, with my own crazy sense of humour – it is not ridicule, which is what some people might mean with something like that).

    Linda, thanks for that balancing comment. Most of my more significant “headaches” are still purely about trying to find a way whereby everyone can communicate and participate, and contribute that which they would like to contribute. So I’m spending too much time thinking about technological solutions to the communication problem. I’ve found some ideas I quite like, in the end it should come down to empirical experimentation: trying out some ideas and seeing what works. But… that’s still months down the line. Some other nasty little challenges I’ll first have to overcome.

  • 23 gerhard // Nov 16, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    clare: there are many ways she could have found an outlet for her altruism in, it i am not criticizing , i am criticizing the path she took to express it. I don’t feel it deserves respect. I don’t feel it does any greater good. Its like giving a children nothing to eat but ice cream when they should be eating something with more substance. So that having said, i am using the right manners.

    linda: ta :) I feel the kind of censorship clare wants people to subscribe by hinders getting to the ‘really interesting stuff’ . I agree about ‘professionals’ the stuff i’m talking about is a little bit more complicated. I’m not saying i have all the answers. But i have examples of other systems that work or have worked perfectly as well in the past or elsewhere. Take rural and suburban japan. They have a policeman that functions more or less like a priest, in that , they give guidance and develop personal relationships with people in the street. He also has authority on basic character judgments without things landing in court. I feel it is fooling for people to just stick to the one ‘god given’ tradition because not wanting or criticizing them is a ‘taboo’.

    hugo : wtf does this politics angle come into things? socialism isnt communism and isnt a contradictory to the free market. so why the point? I just want goverment to do its role and use my money for the things like social development. So that cults can’t exploit people anymore.
    As for the social excuse that churches provide, well, its time for you guys to get over that and start building communities around locals and interests without having to invent realities that enable you to do that. (unless you start admitting that you’re just playing everquest)

  • 24 Hugo // Nov 17, 2008 at 9:51 am

    @gerhard, re politics: it was in part a joke at the right wing Americans, and in part serious. Government-provided social support of the kind typically provided by churches is, according to many, the domain of socialism. Those that are fiscally right-wing, libertarians or free-market capitalism, would take issue at the suggestion of government involvement in something they think should rather be run privately.

    For example, consider Michael Shermer’s argument in favour of free market capitalism in this Point of Inquiry podcast. You know who Michael Shermer is, I hope? Anyway, in that podcast, he even goes so far as to defend churches as a form of privatised social support.

    That’s all just explaining the political link, not making any arguments about it.

    As for the social excuse that churches provide, well, its time for you guys to get over that and start building communities around locals and interests without having to invent realities that enable you to do that. (unless you start admitting that you’re just playing everquest)

    Why should I? Why don’t you? Or go train the SAPS to do pastoral care. I believe the church I love most is doing a good job of providing the social support, I don’t see any problem with connecting to the narratives and mythos that most of the community knows and loves (having an old and loved shared mythos is useful, because not everyone watches the same movies – while recent movies are also used in talking about the good way of life, the community loves having things connected to scripture). And the narratives are talked about as “stories”, and the parallels to other resurrection myths etc is not hidden, it is openly shared.

    What more do you want?

  • 25 gerhard // Nov 17, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    socialism works and like many countries know (including the one you’re in right now) it does much good. There are many ways of skinning a cat like poverty , little to no access to health care and jobs etc. and that was the point being made. And no, i dont want to train the cops to be pastorial services… that would contribute to the problem. i was pointing out my above point of ‘why limit outselves to one option if that option isnt a solution that works for everyone’. its elitest to say the least. we can offer you the service you already should be getting, but it will cost you your intellect, imagination and platonic soul.

    I don’t see any problem with connecting to the narratives and mythos that most of the community knows and loves
    so you have no problem with reality being run by a fake one? no wonder the world is fucked up! hmmm , ok, i suppose we can make space for frodos ring in foreign policy..

    what more do i want? women who get raped not to have social trails for her bad behavior. i dont want a gay person to be told by her own mother that she’s going to hell. I dont want faith heads to control governmental policies.(mainly because they base their judgments out of fucking fake reality) i don’t want science to be under constant threat of another christain ‘world adjustment’ . (this has happend twice that we know of)

    I don’t want alot of shite things that are a result of people living an psychotic delusion of what existence is and who know better but prefer to … pretend.. i’m sorry but pretending is no way of fixing thing nor is making the pretend psychosis more ‘digestible’ for the world by periodically reinventing things for the contemporary context.

  • 26 Hugo // Nov 17, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    I have no problem with socialism…

    My point above was: if you think we need alternative structures, why focus on destroying old structures first? Why not focus on developing new ones?

    so you have no problem with reality being run by a fake one?

    I have no problem with humans talking about the human condition by using a mythos, by using stories. How else are they going to talk about things? We’re a story-telling culture. Humans don’t get very far without stories…

    For the rest, I’m trying to talk about a specific case, then you talk about the general case, whining… sorry, expressing your desire, that things be different: that things be how they are not. Many of those things you express anguish at and wish were different, I also wish was different. And I’m doing my best to make a positive contribution. OK, never mind that case then, let’s try a different approach to having a useful conversation:

    What is your beef with my blog and what I’m up to here? What is it that you’d like me to do differently, because clearly you take issue with my current contribution…?

  • 27 gerhard // Nov 18, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Why focus on destroying the old structures?
    they are poisonous structures (for spreading the desease) , they are anti-competitive (just look at christain treatment of science etc) they ruin peoples lives as much as help them. they are broken like the asshole of a catholic child. at least i hear they give good settlements. see thats half the reason this stuff is unsettling , i shouldn’t be able to make that joke. U will most probably join me in condemning this sort of stuff but will fail to connect this up with an authoritarian superstructure.

    as for the story telling ? We don’t get far? how arrogant. how ‘without god there are no morals’ of you.

    beef with you blog? I have issues with the religious thinking and attempt to justify religiosity. It sometimes corrupts your thoughts and I seek to destroy that urge.

    I’d like thinktoomuch.net to be about arguing thinking and not pseudo thinking.
    for the most i enjoyed entries like on language if that helps.

    how about a post on why all theistic language should be banned from the world of government and politics? after all now that we have a declared god incarnate (zuma) in the country.. which would make a good complimentary text to ‘why shofar is acting like a hostile virus in the way they are trying to take over stellies’.

    also , the very kiefest of things would be to finally get some straight talk answers to some of those questions / accusations raised. So who sprayed who? why was a bigger deal made of the nudity than spraying? (lets assume that like the rest of the real world this would be a bigger deal normally)

    ooh yes, before i forget , REGISTER TO VOTE… and VOTE (no show voters are automatic voting for the ruling party)

  • 28 Hugo // Nov 18, 2008 at 3:31 am

    *sigh*

    U will most probably join me in condemning this sort of stuff but will fail to connect this up with an authoritarian superstructure.

    You misunderstand me.

    as for the story telling ? We don’t get far? how arrogant.

    Brian Cox, Physicist, gets it:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/brian_cox_on_cern_s_supercollider.html

    In the last few minutes, I just wanna give you a different perspective of what particle physics and cosmology means to me. It has given us a wonderful narrative, almost a creation story, if you like, about the universe, from modern science over the last few decades. I’d say it deserves, […what’s this clause?…], to at least be put up there with the wonderful creation stories of the people of the high Andes and the frozen north. This is a creation story, I think, equally as wonderful.

    Amen to Brian Cox.

    You want everyone to live life in the same way you do? How arrogant!

    with the religious thinking and attempt to justify religiosity

    You misunderstand me.

    It sometimes corrupts your thoughts and I seek to destroy that urge.

    How can you attempt to do that if you so badly misunderstand me?

    I’d like thinktoomuch.net to be about arguing thinking and not pseudo thinking.

    Why don’t you start your own blog, about “arguing thinking”? Then you can collect people that are interested in that which you are interested in.

    for the most i enjoyed entries like on language if that helps.

    Thanks. Now take that and make it the meta-narrative for this whole blog. Long-term thinking. Timescale: a year or three.

    how about a post on why all theistic language should be banned from the world of government and politics?

    There’s a useful idea. I could do that. Though I’d go softer on the “banned” insistence, me having a slight anarchist streak and not being keen on explicit bans. (Though, granted, they’re a necessary evil at times.)

    also , the very kiefest of things would be to finally get some straight talk answers to some of those questions / accusations raised.

    I want answers and straight talk from Shofarians. I want conversation. (This blog is about cross-cultural conversation, rather than that which you want it to be about.) You’re not going to get any input from their side if the general vibe on this blog is that which you like to advocate.

    ooh yes, before i forget , REGISTER TO VOTE… and VOTE (no show voters are automatic voting for the ruling party)

    I wish… According to this source, I’m not allowed to vote: “South Africans working abroad cannot vote in the elections.” If you have heard differently, please tell me!

    Suggestion: put our disagreement on hold, give me a week, let me get two blog posts out. At that point, we can continue the conversation right here, with the extra info and ideas I shared in the second post from now.

    For the rest, look at each of my posts as a whole, understand their purpose as a whole, and tell me if any post, as a whole, is harmful in your opinion. (Would you prefer I stop blogging altogether, than continue on my course?)

  • 29 Ben-Jammin' // Nov 18, 2008 at 4:16 am

    as for the story telling ? We don’t get far? how arrogant. how ‘without god there are no morals’ of you.

    What do you have against Dr. Seuss? Harry Potter? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? The Sermon on the Mount?

  • 30 Hugo // Nov 18, 2008 at 6:32 am

    In fact, gerhard, you’re welcome to construct a life-guiding philosophy around LOTR. In fact, I would love to see it! It could be very interesting. A LOTR-based theology, if you will, though the “theology” word might be too associated with theism.

    There’s a cool pastor-blogger in the Afrikaans blogosphere that does movies every now and then. Often fascinating! (Not always though. ;) )

  • 31 gerhard // Nov 18, 2008 at 10:44 am

    great for brian cox..

    You want everyone to live life in the same way you do? How arrogant! err? no. I just want the people in charge not to ground important things in religious thinking. nor do i want the general population to follow blind religiosity or the child abuse. like when your mom was diagnosed with cancer? did she? a) go to a homeopath who base things in fantasy land ? or b) go to a doctor? surly u’d want this kind of thinking to apply to politics, social system etc? Surly you can see why people going to a hemopath to cure cancer is wrong? Surly you can see why promoting people going to see a homeopath to cure cancer is wrong? why moral people can’t physically gel with the idea?

    ok, i will delay the rest of the arguing until a later date depending on your reply to my other comment.

    btw, if u want to hear very very interesting story creation myths , then i advise listening to local indigenous customs.

  • 32 Hugo // Nov 19, 2008 at 7:07 am

    With regards to all the “surely”‘s you have there, “of course!” What concerns me is that you seem to suggest I’m advocating that in some way.

  • 33 gerhard // Nov 19, 2008 at 8:34 am

    giving into this theological language and apologetics means you are.. you may not intend it.

  • 34 Hugo // Nov 19, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Now I’m getting snarky, forgive me:

    And only gerhard knows the truth. Only gerhard’s opinion is correct on this. Because gerhard is the all-knowing truth, the life, the way… All bow down to gerhard’s superior wisdom in this regard. All should speak gerhard’s English, because no other language is worthy of speaking about truth.

    For fucking fuck’s sake gerhard, appreciate that people can have different opinions on things. And that you may be wrong.

  • 35 Hugo // Nov 19, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Take a page out of Obama’s book.

  • 36 gerhard // Nov 19, 2008 at 10:32 am

    huh? how lame but you’re forgiven. Do you think this is just my opinion? look, let me explain this is the simpliest manner i can.

    In my culture , sleeping with babies to cure aids is a very bad thing. heinous. Why is it heinous? because we ‘know’ it damages the child both physically and psychologically. Now local culture dictates that it isnt as bad as that.
    We have most of our people ( sciencist not the sangomas) say its bad . However , we got all these people who want to rape children based on their sangomas twisting of their reality to that they choose to ignore what we know.

    So i’m all cool with you guys wanting pretend so you can rape children i just would prefer if you limited it to your children but alas, bases on several thousand years of ‘sangomarism’ raping as they please well, it would be idiotic to assume thats not going to happen at some point. Progress for sangomas , because they are conservative when it comes to change, is way too slow, and i can’t put up with my children being raped even once.

    Best thing is , people are starting to fight and speak out, very loudly infact, about this raping children business, giving it the respect it actually deserves, but what do the sangoma worshippers do?
    Start bitching about how everyone is alloweed their opinion and that they shouldnt be smart asses, after all , you wouldnt want to be a bigot? least being called a bigot is better than raping the children, at very least , you dont have to compromize on your morals.

    understanding yet why being a faith head is a bad thing and why apologetics is far worse than confronting people on their idiotic child raping fantasy?

    And no , i am not all knowing nor do i want to fullfill your dream of being a ‘messiah’. I just care that things progress and don’t revert to fucking 80 b.c. I’m sure obama would aprove :P

  • 37 gerhard // Nov 19, 2008 at 10:49 am

    For fucking fuck’s sake gerhard, appreciate that people can have different opinions on things. And that you may be wrong.
    ehm, wrong.. ? Yes there are many things i can be wrong about … however … that such extreme variations in reality can’t all be reflections of the same reality well that makes me right. as example , mormonism vs methodist. ‘theistic’ buddism vs buddism… buddism vs judeism .. hell not all of them believe in a god ,and most of them believe in vastly different gods. So my statement that the majority of people are living in lotr is perfectly correct. While one of them may be right , not all of them can be at the same time. But this is the reason we developed the tools of logic and science, to differentiate the real from the unreal..
    your saying that one isnt allowed to decern which are completely off the mark based on these tools is just plain frikken silly. faithhead stuff..

    I’m in no way saying _all_ realities are fake and counter productive but we can already tell which ones have a high probably of being counter productive and fake.

    btw, christains do this already, just look at the treatment right now that scientology is getting …
    Do you consider this bad?

  • 38 Hugo // Nov 19, 2008 at 10:55 am

    understanding yet why being a faith head is a bad thing and why apologetics is far worse than confronting people on their idiotic child raping fantasy?

    C’mon gerhard. Do you still not understand what my pain is with your way of communicating?

    I’m sure obama would aprove

    Obama says: “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.” He’s interested in understanding how the other thinks and feels about something. Not so that he can then explain the other is wrong, but so that they can respect one another’s opinions.

    Start bitching about how everyone is alloweed their opinion and that they shouldnt be smart asses, after all , you wouldnt want to be a bigot?

    That is not what I’m saying. I’m saying poetic language is not the problem. There’s a HUGE difference between saying “poetic language is not the problem” and “respect witchcraft”.

    How can you not get this difference, gerhard? What’s the point in me continuing to talk to you?

    Did I explain in one of my comments what the questions are that you don’t ask? (It might have been in the comment that I lost.)

    “What makes you think poetic language is unavoidable?” “Clearly you think the poetic language is not a problem… How do you then suggest we avoid the evils while accepting and embracing poetic language? What makes you think it isn’t better to just throw out the poetic language?”

    I can’t remember getting these questions from you, ever. These questions might not have “why” in them, but they’re exactly the questions I’m referring to when I say “ask why”. The “why” is, “why is Hugo so adamant about this?”

    I get the impression you don’t care about that, you don’t care about understanding my approach, because you seem to be so certain of yours being the best way.

    Obama says: “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.” And that is what I mean by taking a page out of Obama’s book. I really don’t get the impression that you’re listening to me. If you’re getting the impression I’m not listening to you, then there’s work to be done on my part as well. We can actually listen to one another without agreeing, you know…

    And do you really think Obama would approve of your anti-theistic arguments? More than I do? Really? Are you kidding?!

  • 39 Hugo // Nov 19, 2008 at 10:57 am

    your saying that one isnt allowed to decern which are completely off the mark based on these tools is just plain frikken silly.

    I never said that. And I believe that if you listened the way Obama would listen, you would realise that, and stop stereotyping me/my-words or sticking me/my-words in a box like I perceive you do.

  • 40 Hugo // Nov 19, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Understand yet why this completely mischaracterises the situation? :

    understanding yet why being a faith head is a bad thing and why apologetics is far worse than confronting people on their idiotic child raping fantasy?

    We’re not talking about the same things. I’m not doing “apologetics”. I’m not arguing that being a “faith head” is a good thing. I’m not saying we shouldn’t confront people on “idiotic child raping fantasies”. I am saying that it isn’t bad to encourage following a compassionate role model.

    At worst, I’m maybe just too optimistic about humanity’s ability to separate the following of a compassionate role model from young earth creationism. (I’m intentionally taking extremes here, that should be enough for this conversation.) This optimism is the thing on which I can continue. Please don’t insist on me throwing out my optimism, unless you think my blog is an all-around bad contribution to society. (So in your opinion it has bad, but I hope you also recognise the good in my blog as well, and can agree that the good may outweigh the bad. And then permit me to walk my own path in life, which you don’t have to agree with and you don’t have to follow, but I ask for the freedom to follow my path, and some respect for some of the noble aspect of my choices, even if you the rest is deserving of no respect.)

  • 41 gerhard // Nov 19, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Obama says: “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.” He’s interested in understanding how the other thinks and feels about something. Not so that he can then explain the other is wrong, but so that they can respect one another’s opinions.

    funny how someone who’s motto is ‘change is comming’ and has non conservatism ideals gets used by a neocon (south park republican) as an example of ‘blind acceptance’ . I very much doubt obama would stand by idly ‘accepting’ of the ‘child rape to cure aids is great’ unless he was one of the child rapists? (which to my knowledge he is) And no it isnt poetic language , its a language specifically designed to communicate within the context of witchcraft. its like saying , lets write the code in pure assembler then pass it through a c++ interpreter without expecting fucked up results. What you’re saying is , wait , we have all this code , lets just add some c++ and make it work. Where i’m going , well, assembler is lame , old, give you way too much control over the pc and we wouldn’t use it for anything else unless there is absolutely no other way, we have all these possibly avenues so why use it at all at this point? esp if raping children is involved.

    hugo , you need to take your own words and extrapolate them to the nth degree.. reduce the situation to the absurd. if it can’t be done then you know you’re onto something real. we do this with almost everything , the ‘golden rule’ is a good example of this. ‘you,re in power , but if you should loose power… then what? would u still be happy with what you’d have done? ‘

    just get this stuff that theistic language is poetic language .. Its a tool by religion to maintain religion, to explain religion in religions terms.
    I can’t respect that. to me it’s like using the bible to prove the bible. u design something that only makes sense to itself.

    We’re not talking about the same things. I’m not doing “apologetics”. I’m not arguing that being a “faith head” is a good thing. I’m not saying we shouldn’t confront people on “idiotic child raping fantasies”. I am saying that it isn’t bad to encourage following a compassionate role model.

    I get that that is what you want to achive .. but what you are doing is ‘apologetics’ for the being of a ‘faithhead’ . i’m sorry about x being a reality and despise it but y is just plain super. Can’t we keep y around despite of x? maybe give x a facelift, would that make u like us more? Why so eager to keep xyz around? why not try abc?

    u noticed the grip isnt just with ‘young earth creationists’ rather the ‘template’ used, right? .

    i’m not arguing agaist following a compassionate role model. I’m arguing that it isnt ‘following a compassionate role model’ that it is rather the opposite.

    This optimism is the thing on which I can continue. Please don’t insist on me throwing out my optimism, unless you think my blog is an all-around bad contribution to society. (So in your opinion it has bad, but I hope you also recognise the good in my blog as well, and can agree that the good may outweigh the bad. And then permit me to walk my own path in life, which you don’t have to agree with and you don’t have to follow, but I ask for the freedom to follow my path, and some respect for some of the noble aspect of my choices, even if you the rest is deserving of no respect.)

    ehm… do you think i’d be arguing u if i thought u /this blog was an all-around bad contribute to society if a moment ago i gave u one of the highest compliments possible? think about that.. quite possibly , part of allowing people to follow ‘their’ path is let other people point out the gravel that breaking everyones back? Have you considered that following the path doesn’t mean you have the right to follow it everywhere , anywhere? What happens when you path enters other peoples property without any other side route?(like expecting people to talk your personalized verion of theistic lang) and don’t say we’d have to uncompromisingly compromise.

    ok, anyway .. i’m going to try comment less as this is obviously frustrating you ..

  • 42 gerhard // Nov 19, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    sorry , one last thing ,
    i f’d up the formatting because i pasted the blockquotes incorrectly .

  • 43 Hugo // Nov 19, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    I fixed it for you.

    OK, then there exists two completely different understandings of what “apologetics” is. Fair enough. I understand what you mean by the word, while I’m emphasizing difference between what I’m doing and the other meaning of the word.

    Moving on, I intend to step out of this conversation now. And I intend to not climb into this kind of conversation again, though I might fail, again. And I will continue to pursue mengelmoes-based solutions to my biggest pains.

  • 44 gerhard // Nov 20, 2008 at 12:59 am

    ta for da fixup.

    the other meaning of the word? what other meaning there are a few? i’m hearing dancing … and something about pins.. and footsteps..

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