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The Sin in “Getting Saved”

May 20th, 2009 · Posted by Hugo · 76 Comments

[This post represents my personal views, strongly stated, unmediated. Details, nuances, rationales, they can be explored in the comments. I appreciate that others differ from me: I explicitly do not expect others to come to my way of seeing things. Take this in whatever way you like.]

Humans are selfish and egocentric. I call this characteristic a “sin”, in the sense of “missing the (divine) mark”.

Lo-and-behold, our sinful nature is such, that it often even becomes the core of our religion. “Getting saved.” What does that mean? It can mean different things to different people — some meanings are beautiful, some meanings are ugly. For many, “being saved” effectively means “I believe I’m going to heaven after I die”. Their most important drive or focus in their religion is then to achieve that state, selfishly getting what they want, for their own benefit. It becomes the biggest purpose of their religious/spiritual life, and once they feel they’ve achieved that goal, they are satisfied.

…when there are so many other things that is so much more important to our community and the world around us, so many more important things to be concerned about.

Contemporary Conservative Christianity is all too often like that, selfish and ego-centric. Sinful. Concerns about the afterlife is not a divine concern. From what I understand, the ancients (of Hebrew Bible fame) had a more communal understanding of what salvation was about: it was more about the tribe, as a whole, as a community, and less about the selfish individual. Salvation for the tribe: divine.


This is just a quickie. My post on what I call “the divine” is coming soon. On top of that, I will (eventually) try to explain my understanding of “sin” and “salvation”.

Categories: Worldviews
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76 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hugo // May 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I should add: there’s nothing wrong with looking out for yourself, for caring for yourself. Viewed broadly enough, you can find a selfish motive in just about anything… but that’s viewing more broadly than I mean in this post. What becomes bad, is when that own-interest starts negatively influencing other important issues, and other people around you.

    “I can fly this plane into a building, because my life sucks and I’ll end up in heaven anyway” for the canonical example of afterlife-focused fundamentalism.

    “It is better for me to ignore science and consequently how we destroy this planet, because if I pay attention to it, I suffer doubts about stuff I feel I need to believe so that I can go to heaven after I die” for a creationist rendition of exactly the same idea.

  • 2 gerhard // May 28, 2009 at 9:05 am

    haha @ http://cectic.com/014.html
    that is the true sentiment : P

    “It is better for me to ignore science and consequently how we destroy this planet, because if I pay attention to it, I suffer doubts about stuff I feel I need to believe so that I can go to heaven after I die” for a creationist rendition of exactly the same idea.

    yeah but these are also the okes fucking up the planet because they actually believe in its destruction. The earth and all its content was given too them as a gift and they are allowed to rape and pillage it as much as they can for self gain. If you actually think about it , these religionites and their institutions have participated in almost every social ill that has befallen man and now ‘pushing off’ their respectability to anyoone but themselves. Infact , i would argue , NEVER has the world been in such a good state as it is now. The only difference is , NOW, thanks to the tools we’ve developed we’re noticing ‘ills’ more quickly. We at the very least know , that even with deaths from ww2 included that our times are actually FAR FAR less violent and far far less people have died at the hands of people than previously. (ref. history of violence, steven pinker) We do have more of an ability to cause violence too. So while we’ve become more powerfull we’ve also become more peaceful.

    Lets also not forget that most of modern moral thinking and ethics is rather the contribution of scientists and philosophers rather than religious leaders? that it’s these thinkers that actually have moved our society ahead and banished sexism , racism etc?

    on a side note , can anyone tell me why Christians think they own the monopoly on marriage ? that they are the ones _defining_ what it means?
    Is marriage a Christian institution? It predates recorded history (which christainity doesn’t by the by) and marriage also isn’t exclusive to the Christian format. selfish .. :P

  • 3 Hugo // May 28, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    gerhard, I’m sure you know as well as I do that correlation does not equal causality… right?

    yeah but these are also the okes fucking up the planet because they actually believe in its destruction

    Citation please. (And if we don’t have any of those kinds of people reading this blog, I don’t personally consider it worthwhile smearing “these okes” like that – who are “these okes” you are referring to anyway?)

    have participated in almost every social ill that has befallen man

    What is your point?

    Infact , i would argue , NEVER has the world been in such a good state as it is now.

    How does the majority of the content of your comment tie in with what we’re discussing? Or was that not the intention? Because I just don’t get it. It seems to me as though you’re just trying to start a Hitchens-like debate or something. E.g. you open with that cectic cartoon, does that bear any relation to this topic?

    Lets also not forget that most of modern moral thinking and ethics is rather the contribution of scientists and philosophers rather than religious leaders? that it’s these thinkers that actually have moved our society ahead and banished sexism , racism etc?

    Let’s not forget the contribution of e.g. Martin Luther King. Yea, that’s but one example. But I still don’t see how this ties in? Am I missing something?

  • 4 Hugo // May 28, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Seems I’m having a slow evening, I think I now understand what you’re on about. ;-) Nevertheless, I’ll still wait for you to articulate some ideas better, then we can discuss.

  • 5 Michael // Jun 1, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    @Gerhard: “Banished sexism and racism”? What planet are you living on? Certainly I agree with what you said about defining marriage… but as a Christian, I’d like to know where you discovered a forum in which we all agreed on anything? A bit unfair to label us all “the okes” who did anything. Christians have only one thing in common – recognition of a need for Christ. Blaming me for certain loud fundamentalist’s rants and raves is like blaming you for apartheid… not fair, hey?

    @Hugo: Don’t forget that Christ died for the individual’s wholeness. He left the 99 to find the 1 lost sheep, so possibly we should have a little patience with young (not age) believers who approach God selfishly. Often people who begin selfishly end as martyrs (see the footwashing episode at the Last Supper). But I have a feeling that your point is aimed more at how we communicate (or advertise – gag!) our invitations to faith. Prosperity gospel’s prevelance certainly seems to add credance to what you say about [“Contemporary Conservative Christianity is all too often like that, selfish and ego-centric”.]

  • 6 Hugo // Jun 2, 2009 at 1:12 am

    My point is in the emphasis the faith has developed. Selfishness in and of itself isn’t always a bad thing, depending on the nuances and connotations attached to the words.

    I’m griping about the kind of evangelism I’ve seen wherein the evangelist goes and gets people to say “the sinner’s prayer” or similar, then is happy, “that’s what it is all about”, their lives can still be flushed down the drain, the horrors can continue, matters not, at least they go to heaven after they die. (For the record, I don’t care about what happens after we die, that naturally affects where I place emphasis.)

    Of course Christianity isn’t supposed to be about “just converting”, it is about the path that is followed in the faith. (It connects with the clich’e: life’s a journey, not a destination…) And I like Jesus’ call to salvation as “follow me”, the start of a journey.

    That choice to follow, there are many reasons why people may make that choice. Some reasons for the choice might be selfish than others, naturally. Some may choose to follow a path for the reason of “being different”, or due to “folding under peer pressure”, for example. I don’t much care about that, I care about what happens on that journey, on that path, and what that path is about, ultimately. That’s the nuance I’m aiming for.

  • 7 Bad Ben // Jun 2, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Hugo.

    I hear and relate to the sentiment of your argument; but even though I recognize certain faith communities in the caricatures you sketch of them, I fear you over-simplify the way they think and feel.

    Wendell Berry (boring author I really admire) warns against this kind of knowledge of the other in a post 9/11 essay titled “In the presence of fear”.

    We must not again allow public emotion or the public media to caricature our enemies. If our enemies are now to be some of the nations of Islam, then we shoulkd undertake to know those enemies. Our schools should begin to teach the histories, cultures, arts and languages of the Islamic nations…

    I sometimes get the impression that you profess to “understand” charismatic conservatism, feeling so at liberty to comment thereupon. Don’t misunderstand me. I feel this kind of critique is CRUCIALLY NECESSARY. What I am doubtfull of is whether it will have any impact if it keeps coming from the outside, from critics who have no connection to it’s emotional architexture (interesting typo! big abstract idea, but all other terms seemed too boxy).

    I feel you know me well enough to understand this objection? I really feel there is some liberal/conservative dualism at work here, essentialising of oppositional views, you know? You do admit selfishness (being unavoidable) is not bad per se. But I mean; scrutinize this statement:

    I’m griping about the kind of evangelism I’ve seen wherein the evangelist goes and gets people to say “the sinner’s prayer” or similar, then is happy, “that’s what it is all about”, their lives can still be flushed down the drain, the horrors can continue, matters not, at least they go to heaven after they die. (For the record, I don’t care about what happens after we die, that naturally affects where I place emphasis.)

    It simply isn’t as clearly cut as this. Sure this is Billy Graham mentality, but contemporary conservative evangelism is much more woven with church involvement, discipleship and other…erm…complicating factors. Sure you can argue about the legitimization here, but the fact is no happy clappy preacher is going to agree that it all ends with the sinners prayer…

  • 8 Hugo // Jun 2, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Great comment! I love comments like these, keep ‘em coming. ;)

    Yes, this post is over-simplifying, I’m quite aware of that. And I wonder if it might trigger further over-simplified reactions, one thing I could be concerned about. I was keen in taking on gerhard in debate about the points he’s making, but that might not happen. ;)

    I sometimes get the impression that you profess to “understand” charismatic conservatism, feeling so at liberty to comment thereupon.

    I understand my own experience thereof. Most of my years were rather in a somewhat discontented state with regards to it, and my committed “all in” attitude, during which I was indeed very serious about making it work or something, lasted what, three months? (Depends how you count.) So my “understanding” is certainly not the same kind of understanding as you have, for example. Which is why I need input from more people like you. ;)

    My comments certainly didn’t mean to make people believe it is clear-cut. I’ve got great gripes about those that make such clear cuts, and fight against it when I can. A post like this though, does distil things down (and the product of distillation is certainly not the original product). I suspect I mean it as a conversation starter. ;) Doesn’t always work too well.

    With regards to the critique, yes, it does need to come from inside to have the most effect. Does that mean I shouldn’t contribute though? So what’s the best I can do? I could possibly inspire, or provoke…, others, insiders, into thinking about this, grappling with this, and then raising his or her voice from the inside, if they feel there’s something here. If I can inspire others to do that kind of self-reflection and improve things, yay!

    Beyond that, what can I do? I can but extend a hand to others that are unhappy there and want out, and are seeking to pull together the pieces that were good, and let go of the pieces that weren’t. Those are the people I also care about most, them being me. You know? ;) Long-term picture, there’s a lot of work to be done, I aim to get to it eventually.

    The second half of that comment possibly came across too softly? I could have dropped the “supposed to be” from the sentence “Of course Christianity isn’t supposed to be about “just converting”, it is about the path that is followed in the faith.”

    Further thoughts?

  • 9 gerhard // Jun 2, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Michael : yeah , a bit of a over zealous hyperbole (sp?) . the point was tho that generally truly inspired thoughts and actions have the tendency of not being religiously inspired. the rule of the religionites may yet be coming to an end :)

    but as a Christian, I’d like to know where you discovered a forum in which we all agreed on anything? A bit unfair to label us all “the okes” who did anything.

    technically i generally i crusade against religionites, so in that context i would be holding you responsible for a whole lot more like muslim terrorists, muti killings , catholic priests.

    however we weren’t talking as general as that and I was specifically talking about talking about the hoping for the rapture / the earth is our gift so we can abuse it if we want to crowd also known as we watch too much TBN zombies or i preach but secretly molest children or sniff coke off of my gay prostitutes lover’s butt crowd.

    Christians have only one thing in common – recognition of a need for Christ.

    i believe the fundamentalists would disagree with you :) They would also ultimately consider you as being on a path of sin leading to hell. maybe hugo can elaborate about ‘church’ compatibility between what is considered Christian churches.

    Blaming me for certain loud fundamentalist’s rants and raves is like blaming you for apartheid… not fair, hey?

    I don’t accept racism/apartheit and enable it’s evil but you enable and accept fundamentalism?

    @hugo:

    …That choice to follow, there are many reasons why people may make that choice. Some reasons for the choice might be selfish than others, naturally. Some may choose to follow a path for…

    heavens gate talk that … when do they get orange cool aide? you have no idea how much i feel for these people trapped in this, directly and indirectly. No one should have to put up with this stuff .

    @bad ben:
    salut.

  • 10 Hugo // Jun 3, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Grr, I’m having trouble sleeping again.

    @gerhard, please:

    – explain in more detail how your first comment, #2, connects with the topic of the post. I believe it is related, unless I made a link you didn’t intend, I’d just like you to explain your link more clearly?

    – please refrain from name calling. Example: “religionites”. You mean it in a derogatory fashion, not so?

    – please point out to me which of the Christians taking part in this little community falls under “Christians think they own the monopoly on marriage”.

    – Your comment: “I was specifically talking about talking about the hoping for the rapture / the earth is our gift so we can abuse it if we want to crowd” – where is that crowd? Who is that crowd? How does that tie in with the little community we’ve got going here?

    – What effect is “we watch too much TBN zombies or i preach but secretly molest children or sniff coke off of my gay prostitutes lover’s butt crowd.” supposed to have? I understand that you’re explaining that you’re talking about a crowd that isn’t here. A crowd not present. So what’s the point exactly? With regards to calling them coke-sniffing prostitute-using zombies? Please explain what are you trying to accomplish with using such laden imagery.

    …That choice to follow, there are many reasons why people may make that choice. Some reasons for the choice might be selfish than others, naturally. Some may choose to follow a path for…

    heavens gate talk that … when do they get orange cool aide? you have no idea how much i feel for these people trapped in this, directly and indirectly. No one should have to put up with this stuff .

    If you want to make that kind of connection, why shouldn’t I connect your rhetoric to other people that used similar kinds of rhetoric? Like the Nazi’s or whatever. Why are your words less associated to that than my words are to e.g. heaven’s gate? I get that you feel for people, I suspect the way you feel is influencing your judgement. As mine is also, of course.

    Consider, from:

    http://gormendizer.co.za/2009/05/25/jou-blog-kan-jou-doodmaak/

    A blogger recently died, under unknown circumstances, he was in prison for blogging and thereby undermining the authority of the current regime in Iran. (Johan provides a link to a youtube clip about actual proposed laws for officially giving the death penalty for it. Rather than just prison sentences that may end in death.) The guy wrote the following, apparently:

    I learned that the salvation is not achieved by wandering through the primrose path of sticking to the dogmas and the preordained codes. But it is in having faith in the dignity, nobility and liberty of the human beings. I learned that humans are not a bunch of weak slaves or debilitated beings, but they are commanding and free agents who can create whatever they wish. I learned that I have to learn in order to set myself free. I learned to unlearn whatever I had learned earlier in my life and found my thoughts on a firm and correct base from the scratch. I learned I had been moving on the wrong track for 20 years. I learned I could be born again in any way I’d want to.

    Oh woe to him, he used them evil words “born again”, I hear you say, in your comment on my talk about following a path.

    Ja, ek raak nou gatvol vir die manier waarop jy hier gesels.

    – Following some reflection on the way you’ve communicated in this thread and in the past, please apologise for the recent bits (or any bits) that you feel need apology. Please show me that you are able to be friendly, to have a friendly conversation, the kind in which you might actually build some sort of longer-term relationship with who you derogatoryly call “religionites”. Show me that you can have a conversation with someone, be it Michael, or Bad Ben, Shofar member, Werner, whoever, in which you can communicate the things you are worried about, without resorting to name calling and ugly tactics. Show me that you’re able to moderate the way you communicate, or do you need my help?

    kthx. I’ll try going to sleep again. ;)

  • 11 Michael // Jun 3, 2009 at 9:56 am

    @ Gerhard: I hope I have never “enabled” fundamentalists. “Accepted”… yes. Maybe we’re coming from different places. I’m inside the Church. I believe the Church is God’s family. He’s not interested in perfect people – he’s interested in sinners. And so I should be, whether they are “gay priests”, “fundamentalist Bible bashers”, “liberals” or any other unhelpful label we could use. In the end, we’re called to love all the broken people, not just the nice ones. This was Jesus’ way.

    @ Hugo

    [So what’s the best I can do? I could possibly inspire, or provoke…, others, insiders, into thinking about this, grappling with this, and then raising his or her voice from the inside, if they feel there’s something here. If I can inspire others to do that kind of self-reflection and improve things, yay!]

    Encouraging stuff. :) Just so you know, I’m pretty much on the inside. And reading blogs like yours does make me think. And I share those thoughts with teenagers at a “cell group”, and they make me consider how I can adjust my own ministry as “lead worshipper” (a terrible term when taken out of context) at the congregation where I serve. And they make me careful in the way I approach the children I teach at the small private school I work at. So… you’re winning!

  • 12 Michael // Jun 3, 2009 at 10:07 am

    @ Gerhard: I hope I have never “enabled” fundamentalism. “Accepted fundamentalists”… yes. Because I’m inside the Church – God’s family. He’s not interested in perfect people, but in broken sinners, whether we (unhelpfully) label them “gay priests”, “liberals”, or “fundamentalist Bible bashers”. Christ loves us all. He would not cast the first stone at the woman caught in adultery. I will cast no stones at TBN (no matter how much it rankles). This is the way of Christ…. so yes, I accept fundamentals.

    @ Hugo: [So what’s the best I can do? I could possibly inspire, or provoke…, others, insiders, into thinking about this, grappling with this, and then raising his or her voice from the inside, if they feel there’s something here. If I can inspire others to do that kind of self-reflection and improve things, yay!]

    :) Just so you know, I’m pretty much inside. And reading blogs like this is having a massive effect on the way I teach teenagers in the cell I run, the way I lead the worship team at my local church, and the way I approach the children I teach at the small private school I work at. So… I guess you’re winning! Be encouraged.

  • 13 Bad Ben // Jun 3, 2009 at 11:49 am

    @Gerhard.

    I want to recommend that you write, read and re-read your comments before you post them. This is a discipline that I believe all of us could benefit from. Your comments; with all due respect, are somewhat machinegunned out here, and seem to suffer from the lack of focus and courtesy one would associate with this style of writing. I sincerely believe you are selling yourself short. There is a big transition from good thoughts in your mind to good thoughts on paper, because on paper your invisible frame of reference is tacit. I know I might be sounding patronising but it beats other reactions I could have to some of the things you write. You are, as is no secret, a very provocative commentator. I just feel this provocation could be more erm, challenging and “constructive” (or even destructive in a good way – as you yourself point out) if it were more distilled.

    @Hugo

    Regard this example.

    Pietie has an evangelist heart. Pietie has been looking for something that gives his life meaning and this is it. telling people about Jesus’ incredible love for them by dying for their escape from hell. Pietie believes that sharing this message is caring for people.

    So Pietie encounters Koos on a soul winning excursion. Koos is down and out and willing to jump on the first bit of care, even acknowledgment that comes his way. So Koos comes to church and gets saved and slots into the structure. Koos needs to be cared for (because of whatever his background is), but he is not yet slotted into the church in such a fashion that hen really trusts anyone enough to open up to them. But he trusts Pietie. Pietie trusts the structure of cell group leaders in Koos’ koshuis to take care of him and his needs. Koos however looks up Pietie, and hangs out with him as much as is possible outside of Pietie’s busy evangelist’ schedule.

    However one day Koos has a breakdown and needs to talk to someone immediately; but Pietie’s phone is off, as he is praying for the town of Stellenbosch to get saved. Koos calls one of his unsaved friends and this person simply listens to him, quite to his surprise. Pietie, who gave up his career of alcohol binging and promiscuity, is soon back where he was, but with added disillusionment.

    Comments on this kind of situation?

  • 14 Hugo // Jun 4, 2009 at 12:24 am

    @Michael, thanks! … school, curious, do you guys talk about science…?

    @Bad Ben, “Comments on this kind of situation?” – in what light? Can come at that from multiple angles.

    I believe you describe a life that sounds depressed and unhappy. “A career in alcohol binging and careless&dangerous promiscuity”.

    What context? I’ll try a couple.

    Sad situation, yes. The life you describe, alcohol binging and careless&dangerous* promiscuity, hints at an unhappy and depressed life.

    *(I remain aware of potential biases/nuances around the concepts though: I’m sure when you say “binging” you mean binging, rather than the occasional social use of alcohol to the point of being “a little bit too tipsy”… on promiscuity though, some consider any pre-marital expression of sexuality to be “promiscuity”, so I’m adding some qualifiers.)

    Pietie cares. I like that Pietie cares, I like that his life has meaning. I like that he evangelises an escape from hell, if his evangelism results in the escape from a hell-on-earth, which is what hell is about for me (by which I include the creating-of-hell-for-others, thinking of a particular Muse song wherein a leader is condemned to burn in hell for what they’re doing to the nation they lead ;) ). So that’s great. But your example is for me a well-nuanced example of Pietie possibly being too focused on evangelism, and not caring enough about the individual he’s now saved? I can’t find fault with Pietie, won’t call him bad for slipping up in caring for Koos, since he sincerely believes the system he’s a part of will take care of Koos.

    But that touches on what I’m on about more: the system. My gripes in the post above weren’t so much on the individual-level as it was on the overall system. (Religion-turned-Empire?) As much as Pietie reckons he’s doing Koos a favour, and as well meaning as Pietie was, the end result was someone deeper in a dip due to disillusionment. Blame others in Koos’ koshuis for not helping out? Doesn’t work either. I don’t like the blame(-the-individual)-game. So instead I express my worries about the system as a whole. (And I idly wonder, maybe things should be more bottom-up than top down, knowing I’m now just pondering-in-cliché’s. Hmmm…)

    Of course, add onto that my worries about what that system would mean in the long run… I’m expressing skepticism about it, as I’m casting it in the light of church systems I’m skeptical about. And I wonder what other support groups, religious or non, might have been better? A good humanist society? Humanist with a capital H for that matter. Or a more “progressive” religious community for that matter… which is where I note:

    My skepticism and negativity with regards to the story (which I was fighting and suppressing throughout my reply), where did it come from? Well… how many science(&reality)-accepting churches use the words “cell group”? Or talk about “an evangelist heart”? From my experiences, the language you chose definitely connected the narrative to a particular template for me. A Shofar template… so I had to fight my bias. (Was that also what you had in mind?) Compare SG rather? (SG is Afrikaans, they talk about “klein groepies”.) By recasting the narrative in the light of “suppose we’re actually talking about the SG community here”… the huge difference it makes in how I feel about the story illuminates my biases well.

    OK, I had a go at it. Now, what were you thinking of? Add some of your own comments about the situation? ;-)

  • 15 Bad Ben // Jun 4, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Cool Hugo.

    Ja, I left in all the loaded terminology in the story maybe solely for contextualization’s sake. I am aware of all the biases in the example, and those someone would/could express from a humanist perspective. I left all of it in, perhaps somewhat intuitively; or maybe because I felt such a story should not be removed from the teller’s context…

    Anyways. You have hinted at the tendency that bothers me in the above-described fictional (meaning constructed of various real events and stories, ie. refelcting patterns: a sort of mythos) account. See, a sense of spiritual maturity is linked with evangelising in Conservative Evangelical Circles. This maturity is desirable to young believers, because older believers to whom they look up have this characteristic. Evangelistic activity requires a certain compassion as we have established; which, whatever its nature (patronising, misguided…) can be quite dangerous when manufactured.

    You’ve gone further by pointing out the merit of a genuine caring compassion (be it misguided). I like this admission. Reinhardt Bonnke (quite a prominent and admired conservative evangelist hero) himself said that “…passion without compassion breeds fanaticism”. I feel this statement augments my sentiment nicely.

    What if condescension is mistaken for compassion?

    What happens to people who attribute manufactured (for the ends of personal spiritual advancement) compassion to God’s character?

    Thats my biased reaction to Koos’ story. There should be many more (thoughtfull i hope) reactions!

  • 16 gerhard // Jun 4, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    so much to comment on , don’t really know where to start.

    @hugo , loosing sleep , that’s no good.

    how does it relate to the post? it relates to the paragraph i replied on. overall, i didn’t have much to contribute. So it was more of a comment really?

    regarding , religionites , it’s an convient label .. the name sums up what took a paragraph or two to do previously.

    please point out to me which of the Christians taking part in this little community falls under “Christians think they own the monopoly on marriage”.

    ehm? sorry you lost me? do you want me to name names or do you want me to point out factions who’d be anti-gay marriage etc.

    I understand that you’re explaining that you’re talking about a crowd that isn’t here. A crowd not present. So what’s the point exactly?..Please explain what are you trying to accomplish with using such laden imagery..

    sorry? these are all ‘real life’ examples of religionite behavior .. references to pop-fundamentalism culture.. kent whorewind etc .. as far as i understand it that is the one and the same crowd? present company excluded ? that should be a given tho. maybe i’m missing you point of commenting on this.. as far as the imagery goes.. using examples of relatively recent behaviour is a good emotive way of illustrating the ‘actual’ holiness of their holilessness.. :P

    If you want to make that kind of connection, why shouldn’t I connect your rhetoric to other people that used similar kinds of rhetoric? Like the Nazi’s or whatever. Why are your words less associated to that than my words are to e.g. heaven’s gate? I get that you feel for people, I suspect the way you feel is influencing your judgement. As mine is also, of course.

    the difference is , that with that kinda talk the heavens gate crowed would embrace you and the nazies would execute me.

    So really, we’d be comparing apples and pears. heavens gate crowed was as reasonable as the fred may crowd until the ‘leaders’ started going _bonkers_ but the followers were soo deeply into it that they swallowed that little bit too much. the feeling sorry bit was more to do with people trapped in that kind of ‘talk’ /’lifestyle’ that they are limited by it. why heavens gate ? the language is very similar… you’d need a phd in heavens gate cultism for you to decern which is which. I’m not accusing you of being like that , just saying that the language use is far too similar for me liking :) (an opinion that you may disagree with and dislike)

    blah blah blah ..throw fit… demand apology

    pfft, when do i do name calling? religionites was defined as to how i meant it. reread. and when you do tell me who i was directly insulting?

    @ Micheal

    I hope I have never “enabled” fundamentalists. “Accepted”… yes. Maybe we’re coming from different places. I’m inside the Church. I believe the Church is God’s family. He’s not interested in perfect people – he’s interested in sinners. And so I should be, whether they are “gay priests”, “fundamentalist Bible bashers”, “liberals” or any other unhelpful label we could use. In the end, we’re called to love all the broken people, not just the nice ones. This was Jesus’ way.

    well, accepting evil things is enabling it! : ) do you remember the one and only debate pre-election on 3rd degree? every party had their leader there except for the anc. The only BURNING question was the ‘corruption allegation’ regarding the leader of the anc’s action. The anc representative said ‘if using political influence for personal gain is being corrupt then all war heros are criminals’ . He used the , accept it, all the cool kids are doing it defense. _that_ is accepting , and that acceptance is _what_ enabled us to have a corrupt president :) think of it in ‘apartheit terms’ as ‘white people accepted’ the policy enabling it to do whatever damage it could do.
    sorry if i can’t make my point better…
    btw, it doesn’t matter how you define god , acceptance or god. What actually matters is how they define it and wether you can accept it ..
    in this case , you’re accepting gay basher who are trying to reset societ into the middle ages. (if they could they would hand out gods punishment to sinners and with todays tools they would be able to do it with such vigor that hitler would think twice about it. just look at ‘extream’ muslim states.)

    btw, you may have missed convo’s in the past , and to be honest , some posts point to otherwise but , i’m not really against religion as a whole … i am more against ‘supernatural’ religion and personality cults. you know the kind that further a dependence on the religion rather than give an outlet for spiritualism. what is your opinion on a pantheistic god vs a super nanny god?

    @bad ben
    thanks, your comment was actually quite nice. thanks for that.
    I try hey. I read reread , but i’m afraid i have a lot of problems trying to express myself. I have a problem with disordered thinking and far too often directly translate between the languages. I’m ashamed to say that some ‘quick’ replies take me more than an hour to churn out which makes me feel dumb. I’ll try and distill things further but honestly the more i try the worse it gets. ever noticed how sometimes my grammar is 100% and then other times it’s completely out of wack? I just hope my replies tho aren’t a complete waste of everyones time. (and i am working on it)

  • 17 Bad Ben // Jun 4, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Gerhard. Thanks for being so open! I actually don’t mind your grammar. I usually easily understand what you are saying. What I am actually trying to get at is that, in my experience you make logical jumps that make it hard to follow your line of reasoning.

    Small example: you might invoke the image of a “personality cult” and you just assume that everyone knows what you are referring to, instead of making a concise argument why some of the churches in mention are, in your opinion, worthy of such a title. I have no choice but to dismiss such insinuations; whereas I can engage with, critique or admit to the truth of logically expounded arguments.

    So what I am actually suggesting is that you reread your comments, bearing in mind what I told shofar member: The points you make are not legitimised by your conviction in making them. Spend more of your writing time explaining WHY you feel a certain way towards religionites instead of embellishing your sentiments. We write here not to try and convince one another, but possibly engaging the noble task of destroying our ignorant biases…

  • 18 Bad Ben // Jun 4, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Ok to sum up my view on the Pietie-tale:

    What bugs me is that when we enter into new systemic relationships we often buckle under the pressure to conform by “faking it”. I doubt that this is, as Hugo might argue, a result of denominational doctrinal emphasis. I don’t think this systemic vice develops internally. I rather see it as a very general modern macro-tendency. One which Religionites should be self-critical of. Churchians should not be so “hungry for the harvest” that we encourage feigned compassion.

  • 19 Hugo // Jun 5, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Thanks gerhard, that was a nice comment. (By which I mean I experienced it in a much better/nicer way than your previous one.) Naturally, your previous comment triggered my biases and perceptions…

    Let’s see if I can explain myself:

    please point out to me which of the Christians taking part in this little community falls under “Christians think they own the monopoly on marriage”.

    ehm? sorry you lost me? do you want me to name names or do you want me to point out factions who’d be anti-gay marriage etc.

    It was my intention to call you back into this community, the people commenting here. My grief is with how we ramble on about “those out there”. Sure, the stories are real, are based on reality, but whether real or fictional, if they’re not directly related to the people taking part in this discussion here, I feel it may as well be pure fiction… (a) for the purpose of the conversation and (b) depending on how those arguments are presented.

    My comment was a call to “getting real” in actual conversations with actual people. Bitching and moaning might be fun (speaking generally now, as much to myself as to you), and might convince people already “in the fold”, but it doesn’t help reaching out to new participants in conversations and bridging the inter-personal conversational gap, or whatever I should call it. New participants identify with “The Other” you’re stereotyping (based on real stories maybe, but still), because they don’t identify with you. Effectively you paint an ugly picture of them, and that picture is false.

    If you want to talk to people about your concerns about the stories you have grievances with, I think (from my point of view) you need to inform them of the stories in a less provocative way: you need to leave them space to not be stereotyped together with the negative picture you paint. With that space, you can connect in conversation. Once you’ve connected, you can sketch out your concerns with regards to how their views tie into or lead to the stories you’re griping about and so upset about. By not identifying them in the same group from the outset, they are more free to agree with you that those stories are bad, rather than you putting them on the defensive from the start. Then, you can have a real discussion, and encourage them to think about how their ways are connected to those, and what they need to be careful about.

    I agree with the sentiments of so many a Humanist leader: none of us should go into this discussion with the intent of converting the other. Bad Ben also expressed that sentiment here.

    using examples of relatively recent behaviour is a good emotive way of illustrating the ‘actual’ holiness of their holilessness.

    To your own kind, yes. Sure. To those that don’t already see it in your way, no, it just makes you look like a fanatic to them. Emotive might be useful, but only when used well… (ah, now the arguments about what is “good” uses and what isn’t. Shall I point you at an old post where I pulled out all the stops and really got myself on the boil emotively. Interesting case study maybe. I think it was before you joined in, back in 2007.)

    On the language comparison thing, I don’t understand your explanation of why it is “apples and oranges”.

    you’d need a phd in heavens gate cultism for you to decern which is which.

    Wrong… I believe? I’m here, I’m a real person, you need but talk to me?

    I’m not accusing you of being like that

    Ask yourself why you phrased the thought like you did then? And if you have a good self-reflective answer, feel free to share. I think your word and image choice was loaded… as in, with “bad intentions” (poor word choice) from my perspective, your point wasn’t just to say:

    just saying that the language use is far too similar for me liking

    Then you could have said: “I don’t like your word choice. It feels too much like the words of e.g. the Heaven’s Gate cult.” Can you think of a particular reason why you chose provocative imagery and words rather than being friendly and straight about it?

    (Yea, maybe you mean to provoke me. But I’m proxying… I’m always thinking of how others perceive the conversation, because I’m interested in including them. So I’m getting riled up on their behalf, or so I feel about it, rather than personally riled up for myself only. Which is why personal provocation for some fun banter is going to be continually counter productive, until I can separate conversations on the blog. Then we can have a good go at one another in whatever fashion we feel like, meaning I could pull some weird twisted and warped humour into my response to your provocation. That could be fun, when other participants don’t have to end up in the middle of the fray.)

    an opinion that you may disagree with and dislike

    That in and of itself is fair enough, of course.

    blah blah blah ..throw fit… demand apology

    pfft, when do i do name calling? religionites was defined as to how i meant it. reread.

    I took another look, I think I know what you mean. But which comment do you feel you define it in? (Just the number is fine, will clear up some confusion for me.) On name-calling and:

    and when you do tell me who i was directly insulting?

    I perceive you as insulting a particular stereotype I have in my head. So yes, this is something of a returning-the-question, good point. I do feel my stereotype in my head is relatively accurate, but I’ll have to be aware of my biases and ask that question of myself in the future. I’m basically feeling if I feel someone would feel insulted, then there will most definitely be religionites that would be insulted.

    Your question mirroring mine: are they here, in this community? Well, maybe “shofar member” would feel insulted. Maybe werner, though I think werner’s cool. I’ll try to find out what he’s up to (both of them actually) and if he’s left the conversation for particular or interesting reasons.

    So… am I too inclusive with my interpretation of your label “religionites”? Is it bad or incorrect of me to be including some of the people we’ve had on comment threads under that label? I’m quite certain they would feel labelled by that label. Am I wrong? (What do you think?) Michael, if you’re reading this, and Bad Ben, care to comment? On this perception thingy? Not just at gerhard here, also put me in my place if you think I’m being silly or overly sensitive on behalf of the stereotypes in my head? (Heh, or condescending towards the stereotypes in my head? ;) )

    I’m ashamed to say that some ‘quick’ replies take me more than an hour to churn out which makes me feel dumb.

    :-( I’m sorry to hear that (that they make you feel dumb, e.g.), but I expect you’re aware of this and that it is a subjective feeling rather than an objective reality… right? Despite how fast I type, and my effectively-English-first-language status, I’d also cringe if I had to note how much time I spend on comments.

    With regards to expressing yourself well… maybe you mean to come across as less aggressive than you sometimes do (in my perception). With saneman and … [I struck a blank] …, I ended up recommending, at some point, a more liberal sprinkling of “I feel …” and “I think …” – when he took me up on that suggestion, I actually couldn’t decide whether he’s yanking my chain and being sarcastic, or whether it was sincere. ;-) But it looked a lot better and friendlier. (My doubt was a result of my applying skepticism to most things, a trained habit, applying scientific thinking to interpersonal interactions… dangerous… like daily doubting: “does she really love me, or is that just…” You know what I mean, even if my example sucks. Better one I think: “does my manager really think I’m doing well now, or is he saying that in order to provoke a positive-feedback result so that I might perform well later?” :-P You can make yourself so insecure in a job, or most relationships or interactions, by doing that.) Anyway, if you appreciate ideas/hints/feedback like this, let me know, I’ll try to help with the perceptions thing as best I can, in a way that hopefully doesn’t increase the commenting burden.

    Now I’ve side-tracked enough in this comment that I might as well go completely O-T:

    /me looks forward to playing yet-another-amateur-photographer at Saturday’s EuroPride 2009 here in Zurich. How many flickr pictures will the parade result in, I wonder?…
    … And no, it’s not about the Swiss finally coming out of the closet accepting that “they are actually Europeans”, they’re still in total denial about that! ;) (Um, jokes, I don’t really know what I’m talking about, but it’s a fun stereotype anyway!)

  • 20 Hugo // Jun 5, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Hmmm, yea, this is a scary thought, isn’t it… extremely scary:

    http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/87247.html

    ;-) (Thanks to Ben’Jammin for passing me the link.)

  • 21 Hugo // Jun 5, 2009 at 2:17 am

    (It seems rather tabloidy. So I maintain some skepticism. But… it can appear be tabloidy for one of two reasons. Either way, I wouldn’t want to lump people into that picture unnecessarily. Sketch out the dangerous links to them, sure, explain the problem, but not encourage anyone to jump to conclusions about others… Does that sound good?)

  • 22 Bad Ben // Jun 5, 2009 at 6:26 am

    Gerhard. You sure are getting a lot of advice! Keep those comments coming though.

    Yea. I do feel labelled as a religionite, but the stereotype, I feel, permits me me the element of surprise. Kind of like Maria Sharapova being unseeded for the French open…

  • 23 Bad Ben // Jun 5, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Ok. Another 5c from me.

    Hugo & Gerhard.

    Don’t you feel that seeing the religious communities you are critical of in isolation from the larger scheme of things is an oversimplification? Is it not to be expected that to some degree the immorality (whore butt crack coke sniffing) and selfishness which characterise our modern/western society (VERy generally speaking) will be present in any structure within our society? Is it not too easy to scapegoat institutional ideologies when the more economic explanation would be that Macro-societal narratives are at work?

    Is our problem not mainly hypocrisy and a lack of self-critique?

  • 24 Michael // Jun 5, 2009 at 9:39 am

    @ Gerhard : Thanks! To reply:

    [well, accepting evil things is enabling it! : )]

    I said I accept fundamentalists, not fundamentalism. :) there is a difference! Does accepting fundamentalists, liberals, conservatives, etc as my brothers in Christ mean that I enable all their views? I don’t think so. In fact, the acceptance may open the way for dialogue and change, whereas, being anti-fundamentalist only spurs fundamentalists on – they are convinced that fundamentalism is like a holy crusade – opposition only feeds the flesh’s desire to pat itself on the back for being such a martyr.

    [you’re accepting gay basher who are trying to reset societ into the middle ages. (if they could they would hand out gods punishment to sinners and with todays tools they would be able to do it with such vigor that hitler would think twice about it. just look at ‘extream’ muslim states.) ]

    I know you’re right about this… again I accept the sinner into the Church, and hope – by “speaking the truth IN LOVE” – to correct his stance.

    [what is your opinion on a pantheistic god vs a super nanny god?]

    That it is an “either-or” falacy of reasoning. I don’t believe in a Pantheistic God because you can’t have a personal relationship with it, and the God I know IS personal. Likewise, I don’t believe in a “super nanny God” because that is simply a reflection of our guilt. The God revealed in Christ is not like that. There are thousands of ineffective apologetics that we could throw at each other to try to convince each other about our points of view- it would be a pointless debate, and not in keeping with the purpose of this blog (which I believe is open dialogue for the purpose of understanding. So when we are vulnerable about what we do believe instead of critical about what we don’t believe… then we might be getting somewhere.

    @ Hugo:

    Yup… it’s a non-denominational Christian School, open to all the negative possibilities that that allows for. For instance, last year, a Young Earth creationist came to the school to lecture the staff about the “dangers of evolution and humanism”. He was typically trained in creating guilty feelings in shaming people who disagreed with him. His influence was seen on one of the more conservative teachers teaching the same stuff to her students. They asked me about it and I explained that I believe in Theistic evolution (much to their shock and horror). The ensuing debate might have cost me my job if I didn’t have a boss (pastor) with such integrity.

  • 25 gerhard // Jun 5, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    i’ll comment on the other stuff later ,

    They asked me about it and I explained that I believe in Theistic evolution (much to their shock and horror). The ensuing debate might have cost me my job if I didn’t have a boss (pastor) with such integrity.

    *Sigh* you see , a good example of why the church is such a fine instituion :) the thing is , it’s these people that will probably ‘accept’ people like you and me being burnt at the stake. kudos to your boss / head of the brainwashing institute.
    before i get accused of being agressive again or of being rude, you need to take ‘brainwashing institute’ as what i see that kind of institution as , and i actually take offense when people ‘correct’ me in favour of PCness … (having opinion is one thing , but to actually voice it in your terms is apparently an unforgivable sin , because you may actually offend people by having a different view)
    by the by , if you want i would really recommend getting hold of some josef goebbel’s written work and read up on how the roman catholic church _loved_ his work to the degree of application . you just can’t make this stuff up, no one would believe you.

    Does accepting fundamentalists, liberals, conservatives, etc as my brothers in Christ mean that I enable all their views?

    it entirely depends on what you mean by accepting? Does accepting mean that you won’t confront them on their views with which you differ? that you won’t hold them accountable for their actions? What does it take for you to draw the line? at what point for instance, does stuff like almost loosing your job erk you so that you’d do something actively? would you wait for someone else first to loose their job before you speak up about that kinda stuff? Does it make sense to you that that kind of stuff bleeds into the rest of society , affecting people it shouldn’t? should i for one expect ‘acceptance’ in this regard and people not changing?

    again I accept the sinner into the Church, and hope – by “speaking the truth IN LOVE” – to correct his stance.

    i love these little expressions, they ignore the fact that all this means is exchanging his relative moral thinking with our relative moral thinking , it doesn’t address whatever defective moral thinking is currently permeating within your group. Also the more sinners ‘convert’ the more corrupt this ‘subjective truth in love’ appears.. I think expecting people to behave like the animals that they are and working with what you have , with a not so subjective goal for society without resorting to emotional black mail is the way to go..

    on a side note trying to build a metaphor. “when the cat eats the mouse after toying with it for hours ,is it being immoral? is it doing what it is doing because of hate or evilness? No it’s simply an animal and behaving as such?
    How much of a point is there to punish the cat for such actions?what point would there be to try pursuance the cat not to act like a cat? Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep it fed and with many toys? Not to distract the cat , but rather remove the need for it to behave like a cat? (example would be a house cat afraid of cockroaches vs outside cat loving the hunt)

    That it is an “either-or” falacy of reasoning. I don’t believe in a Pantheistic God because you can’t have a personal relationship with it, and the God I know IS personal.

    I think you misunderstood my question, pantheistic god is non-conscious god, is not like you in terms of have a mind able to think or personality to reason with. I’m talking of einstein or spinoza ‘s god vs actual conscious personality :) they are contradictory ideas so you can’t allow for that dualism , in otherwords , something can’t be conscious and non-conscious at the same time as that would be a logical falacy. its like saying the light is both on and off at the same time … we’re not talking about a conscious god acting via unconscious , tangible things we’re talking about the god itself…

  • 26 gerhard // Jun 5, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    bad ben : you’re a religionite? in what way ?

    Don’t you feel that seeing the religious communities you are critical of in isolation from the larger scheme of things is an oversimplification?

    alot of my beliefs are self contradictory. that is because they i have not finished the model in my head. So right now , there are many questions in regard to ‘what exactly’ i feel is evil. Like , on one hand i totally agree with hitchens like thinking , that religion in bad. As a tool it’s causing us more harm than good and that we should be looking for alternatives to it rather than continue the cycle of violence and destruction that go hand and hand with their habits. on the other , i totally agree with fundamentalism until it behaves hypocritical and seeks to influence the outside world (which btw they are entitled too)

    Is it not to be expected that to some degree the immorality (whore butt crack coke sniffing) and selfishness which characterise our modern/western society (VERy generally speaking) will be present in any structure within our society?

    haha , this is one of those really good ‘debatable’ things.
    personally, i don’t have issues with what people get up to in bed, nor do i think badly of someone who partakes in drug taking. I believe its your body and you can do _anything_ with it because it is you. And between consenting ‘adults’ [a term which has an subjective and arbitrary meaning] anything should be allowed to happen. I think you reallly nailed it on the head tho, the issue is hypocrisy and lack of realistic self critique. Preaching that homos are evil and to encourage social repercussion but then hide it in fear of your own policy is just bonkers.. these are just people who want power and will say and do anything to keep it and extend it.

    for the record , we’re discussing something quite awesome in the office today , what is child abuse in terms on humanity (not your particular subjective cultures view) and can you honestly hold pedophiles responsible when it is considered that they act on compulsion. Does compulsion remove from culpability.

  • 27 Michael // Jun 6, 2009 at 10:15 am

    @ Gerhard:

    [it entirely depends on what you mean by accepting? Does accepting mean that you won’t confront them on their views with which you differ?]

    No, it doesn’t. But in order for confrontation to be effective, it must be done in a loving (non-judgemental way) and the only way to confront a fundamentalist effectively is to sit and dialogue over the meaning of his particular holy text. Fundamentalists (correct me if I’m wrong) believe that the text is the ultimate authority on the truth. The only people I have ever seen be relatively effective in confronting fundamentalism is the person who shows that their interpretation of the whole (or specific parts) of scripture is wrong. Accepting fundamentalists means not relying on attacking them from the outside, but on dialogueing (is that a word? :) ) with them from the inside.

    [I think expecting people to behave like the animals that they are and working with what you have , with a not so subjective goal for society without resorting to emotional black mail is the way to go.. ]

    I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree about what is effective in confronting the sin of fundamentalist “other-bashing”. I can’t see how calling people “the animals that they are” is any less emotional blackmailing than confronting someone with the truth through actions (example) and through dialogue (which means listening for understanding, not criticism). We disagree fundamentally about fundamentalism ;) You seem to believe that people are naturally hateful when religious (that we are just being the “animals that we are”). I don’t believe that religious institutions or faith make us hateful. I think we are all naturally humanly hateful fullstop. Consider Bad Ben’s earlier comment: [Is it not to be expected that to some degree the immorality (whore butt crack coke sniffing) and selfishness which characterise our modern/western society (VERy generally speaking) will be present in any structure within our society? Is it not too easy to scapegoat institutional ideologies when the more economic explanation would be that Macro-societal narratives are at work?]

    [I think you misunderstood my question, pantheistic god is non-conscious god, is not like you in terms of have a mind able to think or personality to reason with. I’m talking of einstein or spinoza ’s god vs actual conscious personality they are contradictory ideas so you can’t allow for that dualism , in otherwords , something can’t be conscious and non-conscious at the same time as that would be a logical falacy. its like saying the light is both on and off at the same time … we’re not talking about a conscious god acting via unconscious , tangible things we’re talking about the god itself…]

    We certainly are misunderstanding each other. I meant that the falacy of reasoning is that if there is a God, he/she/it must be either a non-conscious, non-personal pantheistic God, or a “Super-Nanny” super-personal God. This seemed to be assumed by your statement. I meant that I reject both ideas of God as meaningless for me from my personal experience of God. What is your personal experience of God (even if it’s a non-personal, non-consious God)?

  • 28 Bad Ben // Jun 6, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Michael & Gerhard.

    Could we possibly discuss the concept of “enabling”?

    Gerhard accused Michael of enabling fundamentalists. What exactly do you understand “enabling” to mean? Generally first and secondly, in this context?

    Michael what do you understand “enabling” to mean?

    We all know that it implies complicity in certain negative behaviours, but how is this complicity justified? Because Frankly, gerhard, your arguments thus far have not convinced me. Rather they lead me to wonder if I understand the term. Hence the question.

  • 29 Bad Ben // Jun 6, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    hugo

    We’ve had the enabling discussion before, have we?

  • 30 Michael // Jun 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Regarding “Enabling”…

    Although the parallels are not always exact, since we have been using the metaphor, perhaps we should continue with apartheid.

    Ask: Why did the majority of the white minority accept the system? Feel free to add to or subtract from the following list.

    1) They were convinced by years of nationalistic sentiment that to disagree with the system was to be unpatriotic.

    (In the same way, some people feel the pressure to agree with fundamentalist stances without questioning them because of pressure from authority – worth noting that this phenomenon is not isolated to religious authorities, but “scientific authorities” too).

    2) They were confortable with the situation as it was and didn’t want to rock the confortable boat.

    (In the same way, some people feel comfortable with easy answers such as “Homosexuals are just sinners who need to repent!”)

    3) They were simply not aware of the reality of the situation. They were misinformed and underinformed. Some of the fault was their own laziness and some was due to a powerful media campaign by the powers that be.

    (I feel this is the major problem with the Church and fundamentalism. The people with the money and the power and the big mouths tend to be fundamentalists – i might be wrong there… forgive my bias. The majority of the Church have simply never been introduced to more progressive ways of interpretting scripture and what it means to be the Church.)

    Intro was long… but here’s the point:

    What will dis-enable fundamentalism? Will fighting and name-calling? Will books written to criticise religion? Will scientific discoveries? NO. Sadly, none of that matters to the fundamentalist stance. In fact doing these things only strengthens fundamentalism because of the classic reactionary “way” of fundamentalists. Criticise and fight and you only make them feel more proud of their stance. This has been my experience. It is probably a generalisation… but there it is.

    I don’t enable fundamentalism by discussing text and interpretation with fundamentalists in friendly dialogue between brothers… comments like yours, Gerhard, when read by reactionary fundamentalists enables fundamentalism… ironic, hey? This sort of statement, for example, enables fundamentalism (in my opinion):

    [ you’re accepting gay basher who are trying to reset societ into the middle ages. (if they could they would hand out gods punishment to sinners and with todays tools they would be able to do it with such vigor that hitler would think twice about it.]

    These sort of comments are like car bombs planted by “Umkhonta We iSizwe” (forgive my spelling) that the powers that be used to justify apartheid to the uninformed minority. The outside world may look at your sort of comments and applaud, but to those inside the religious bubble, you are nothing but a spiritual terrorist. PLEASE understand that we here all know you are nothing of the sort. I am speaking of what enables fundamentalists to be the big voices representing “religion” – FEAR fueled by aggression towards their stance.

    Re-reading I realise I might have come across as quite offensive. Please understand that when I criticize your comments, it’s not your stance, but the way you put it that I believe is unhelpful. Yes… I’m asking you to be more (drumroll….) PC! shock horror! ;)

  • 31 Bad Ben // Jun 6, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Michael.

    Great comment.

    But I would like to define how I view enabling. I see an enabling scenario originating in the enabler’s recognition that a subject (individual or collective) needs help – the perception that some behaviour and/or attitude is detrimental to an individual and/or society. From this springs the enabling action: an attempt to influence the subject and ultimately change the detrimental behaviour/attitude, which ultimately backfires and reinforces the problem.

    In view of this definition I am not sure that your examples of the previous regime ruling minority are entirely appropriate. The illustrations of ignorance is difficult to equate with complicity, however those that point to apathy certainly qualify. I think your examples are good and interesting (and definitely should be further discussed) but i don’t see them as instances of misguided agency. I would think a good post-colonial example of enabling is UN’s badly managed nutritional aid to Africa. They are enabling apathy and agricultural stagnation in an attempt to alleviate the poverty it causes. Causality and the “treating-symptoms-rather-than-the-illness-syndrome” might be the mechanism that enabling employs in this example.

    However; I do believe you hit the nail on the head when you describe the (ironic!) militant enabling in the demonisation of fundamentalism by “spiritual terrorists”. The militant resistance to the apartheid regime is a brilliant example. The idea that grabs me is stereotyping and effective “othering” causes a blindspot with the enabler. For instance Gerhard. I honestly believe that he is convinced that religion is detrimental to society. His conviction probably springs from the assumption that “religionites are like this” and “religionites are like that”. The enabler communicates these generalised perceptions, which the subject can easily dismiss because the (usually) stereotypes lack the complexity that people know in themselves. The subject is then free to use the sense opposition to “round up the troops”. Nothing draws people together like a common enemy.

    I am 100% with you that the only way to de-enable is to help the subject find a mirror: dialogue which encourages self-reflection.

    But do you reckon that for instance boycotts against South Africa also complicitly enabled the regime? This is point remains open to debate, because the nature of complicity and guilt association comes into question. Do your misguided efforts to help make you as guilty as someone who apathetically accepts the status quo?

  • 32 Kenneth Oberlander // Jun 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    @Michael

    For instance, last year, a Young Earth creationist came to the school to lecture the staff about the “dangers of evolution and humanism”. He was typically trained in creating guilty feelings in shaming people who disagreed with him. His influence was seen on one of the more conservative teachers teaching the same stuff to her students. They asked me about it and I explained that I believe in Theistic evolution (much to their shock and horror). The ensuing debate might have cost me my job if I didn’t have a boss (pastor) with such integrity.

    This just makes me angry. What were the outcomes of this incident? Did this charlatan have any effect on staff teaching policy? And which Young Earth Creationist organisation did he represent?

  • 33 Michael // Jun 7, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    @ Bad Ben:

    [do you reckon that for instance boycotts against South Africa also complicitly enabled the regime? This is point remains open to debate, because the nature of complicity and guilt association comes into question. Do your misguided efforts to help make you as guilty as someone who apathetically accepts the status quo?]

    Interesting stuff! I’ve got to say that I prefer thinking “helpful” versus “unhelpful” rather than “guilty” versus “innocent”. We’d have to ask someone with better knowledge of SA apartheid history whether the boycotts were helpful or unhelpful… even then there would be debate. A more recent situation was seen in Zim recently when then president Mbeki told the west to butt out and stop threatening Mugabe because their righteous indignation was not helping with his negotiation efforts. This is a particularly helpful parallel because, in the same way that nobody would argue that Mugabe was a legitimate power, the question of whether or not Fundamentalists should wield power (in the Church or state) is really a moot point – they do, so what approach will help the situation best now?

    @ Kenneth Oberlander:

    Thanks for your post, it made me realise I need to clarify – the individual did not work for any young earth organization, he was simply a local conservative with a science degree who had gotten hold of some young earth creationist videos (I apologise that I don’t remember much about who they were except that it was a well known American organization). The teachings were not sound (in my opinion), but it was actually the attitude of this individual that was particularly off-putting.

    There were no long-standing effects on policy. My pastor (the principal) employs teachers from a wide variety of denominational backgrounds. There are still some staff who teach these things religiously in the school, and there are others who teach the opposite. The students are possibly quite confused for a while, but the variety of views encourages discussion and questioning, which I think is a vital attitude that should be taught in schools.

  • 34 gerhard // Jun 8, 2009 at 1:54 am

    @everyone , sorry a long post … :8)

    @michael:
    [But in order for confrontation to be effective, it must be done in a loving (non-judgemental way) and the only way to confront a fundamentalist effectively is to sit and dialogue over the meaning of his particular holy text.Fundamentalists (correct me if I’m wrong) believe that the text is the ultimate authority on the truth. ]
    true, that is claimed. But in truth , followers seek an “authoritative’ opinion of the interpretation as to how it relates.
    the word of god , even taken as literal as can be, remains subjective in application and understanding. I don’t really think that any debate with their strain of fanaticism can be productive in a meaningful way.

    the commitment to their framework , employed techniques and behaviours reinforcing their beliefs to an unreasonable level. I would argue , based on knowledge of self reinforcing propaganda & brainwashing techniques that maybe they should be confronted with the higher degree of accountability instead. I’m not saying , try an convert anyone, just confront them with their actions and hypocrisies.

    I hear recently @ stellies a ‘guest speaker’ came to talk about satellites communication or something or another to the engineering department. There was a table laid out, with dvd and reading material and the speaker did indeed speak about this advertised subject, the subject was the point of him being at the university. However I hear that the speaker talked longer about his church , his beliefs and actively seeking souls to join his kind. pure exploitation. no real degree of accountability here. done in a place of exulted learning.

    they are ,as you said, of your kind. So that is your kind doing that. :( in the name of god, your god or some derivative there of ?

    [Accepting fundamentalists means not relying on attacking them from the outside, but on dialogue (is that a word? :) ) with them from the inside. ] I know this is a unpopular idea but why not protect everyone else by at least blocking their sometimes putrid invluence on the world. (cock blocking them so to say. ) people that far gone can not be reasoned with , at best you can go for the ones who’ll listen but that is too limited compared the to reach they have on the world , i feel one can only be productive by seeking to reduce their hold on the outside world. (not really the ‘love’ everyone answers you seem to be looking for)

    The thing about the world is you can’t really make anyone do what they ‘should’ , no one agrees on the should and expecting them to, is a childish fantasy. It would require a uncompromising compromise for everyone to become as centrist as possible, something that would and could never happen in a world filled with such diversity in culture as ours. I argued earlier that we should rather seek ways of dealing with what we have and go forward from there, that definitely applies here. We need to hold the mirror up to fundamentalism and show it what it is, what the nature of it does and what the ‘real’ consequences of such things are. Dialogue is exactly what i am asking for except i ask to dialogue about different things , not just subjective interpretations on superstition and ‘howto guides’ that they are experts in.

    [I don’t believe that religious institutions or faith make us hateful.] now how about that, i have a belief that people engaged in such institutions believe that because they are too close to something they really care about and are blinded while basking in the light. sometimes however an outsider has a better view of the overall value to all of us and of the consequences as they are the ones usually effected and ‘freaked out’ because of their unrelenting exposure to it.

    [I meant that I reject both ideas of God as meaningless for me from my personal experience of God. What is your personal experience of God (even if it’s a non-personal, non-consious God)?] well then tell us about the idea of god that isn’t meaningless to you? as for my personal experience of god , which one? I have not had reason to jump to the conclusion of there being a god, godish like thingie or abstract concept that vaguely resembles what people mean by saying ‘god’. I generally encounter god as an escapism, a way of expressing the thoughts and feelings of coping with being an animal. I do believe the thought is wholesome, but more along the line of giving an aids sufferer hope with homoeopathy. (hugo shhh, that’s my opinion , not name calling. )

    @ben about enabling ,
    that is the problem, enabling can mean a lot of things. It’s not just one specific kind of thing done that enables them. for one they enable them by being passive and accepting of negative behaviour that effects more than just their own kind. Another is that they loose and relative use of religion is really just priming candidates for fundamentalism. i will get back to this point another time.

    @micheal @ 30:
    [Why did the majority of the white minority accept the system? Feel free to add to or subtract from the following list. ]
    people are selfish animals? The system was very good for them? It would go away and become worse if things were otherwise? it did? the accepted norm was the black people were ‘kaffirs’? that ‘kaffir’ meant all sorts of things like primitive, tribalism , nose though bone, savage , slow , stupid and animals who could basically just use their body for work? a ‘kaffir’ would steal from you , a ‘kaffir’ would rape your wife and they are breeding at an alarming rate because of ‘our’ kindness and the things ‘we’ did for them, now they are preparing to take ‘us’ all. die swart gefaar.(sp?) The system will protect you, south africa. It will keep the candle of civilization burning in africa. Now that re-enforced by your government , your church, your peers and by native african culture itself. It was local culture, the way things were done. That is why white people accepted what was going on. there was no evil intent , it was simply the way things ‘ought’ to be done. the ‘should’. It was part of _the_ accepted way but not _the_ way.
    you really should read up on joseph goebbels. (people forget that Afrikaans used to be pro nazies so they really inspired a lot of ways of dealing with people and the world. south africa was a fascist like regime during apartheid hence the ‘strength in union’ theme in the culture.)

    [What will dis-enable fundamentalism? Will fighting and name-calling? Will books written to criticise religion? Will scientific discoveries? NO. Sadly, none of that matters to the fundamentalist stance.] yes you’re right but what you’re saying sounds a lot like we shouldn’t partake in those activities for sake of the fundamentalists. that i fundamentally have a problem with. It is important that these activities continue for sake of the others who aren’t fundamentalists so that they can dialogue about such subjects in manners acceptable to them. i would draw a parallel to the Mohammed cartoons. Fine , it is wrong for their culture to print and distribute such material but to disallow such activities for other cultures is a disgrace and a loss to us all.

    [In fact doing these things only strengthens fundamentalism because of the classic reactionary “way” of fundamentalists.]
    well, they are far gone, closed off. these are people willing to write off science, reason and logic for a subjective momentary viewpoints on relative interpretations. I’m more interested in limiting their influence over others.

    [Criticise and fight and you only make them feel more proud of their stance. This has been my experience. It is probably a generalisation… but there it is.] exactly , where angels fear to tread. they are making you deal with them in their terms , you will never get anywhere on their terms because they own the rules. They can change the rules at any point and if they already are willing to bend the rules of nature, science , reason and logic then just imagine what they are willing to do to discourse?

    [I don’t enable fundamentalism by discussing text and interpretation with fundamentalists in friendly dialogue between brothers… comments like yours, Gerhard, when read by reactionary fundamentalists enables fundamentalism… ironic, hey?] you’re reinforcing their delusion by discussing text and interpretation on their terms, by their rules because of the fear of them shutting down that is enabling. comments like mine do enable but that is because i am a lonely voice and the things i say have been profiled into a little box for them by their culture. It would be a different matter if they were confronted in such manner on a regular basis and by a much larger cross section of our population and publicly. There is only so much running you can do. I’m not talking about ‘aggession’ towards them, I am talking about not giving a consideration were there shouldn’t be because that consideration may actually not just be hurting them but you too.

    [The outside world may look at your sort of comments and applaud, but to those inside the religious bubble, you are nothing but a spiritual terrorist.] .sigh i don’t really care if i’m casing stress inside the bubble. the way i see it , the more they talk the more they fuck up , the more we have to hold up to the mirror , the more they have the chance of seeing that something is wrong on the inside.

    [Re-reading I realise I might have come across as quite offensive. Please understand that when I criticize your comments, it’s not your stance, but the way you put it that I believe is unhelpful. Yes… I’m asking you to be more (drumroll….) PC! shock horror! ;)]
    no offence taken , frank discussion is much better than being pc because we’re all adults who can handle it. as for the drumrolled request . no. i’m sorry i can not do. expect only what reality holds and if that entails 12 year old boys licking peanut butter off appendages then i refuse to rewrite it in euphemism for sake of people over-sensitive to reality. I would expect you to want that right too so leave it for me.

    @ben :[For instance Gerhard. I honestly believe that he is convinced that religion is detrimental to society. ]
    yes, i do, mostly because they don’t want us to grow beyond it.

    [His conviction probably springs from the assumption that “religionites are like this” and “religionites are like that”.]
    I don’t consider all religions irrational or detrimental. I’m actually quite fond and have respect for religions like buddism which are more or less non theistic. you’re making it sound like i’m applying religionites on a macro level, that is not true.

    [Nothing draws people together like a common enemy. ]
    ??? didn’t apartheid end because of a ‘common enemy’? what if south africa didn’t have one? that noone self orginized to put at least some pressure on the system. the system’s we’re talking about are self reinforcing there is no direct reasoning with them we need more mirrors , clearer ones.

    [dialogue which encourages self-reflection. ]
    that is the tricky bit self-reflection is the thing the system actively seek to disable. the system gives the tools to keep this reflection within the group and their leaders. you could have a thousand good dialogues with these people but it would only take one little corrective session in the group to retool the individual with better opinions that won’t destroy his world as he knows it.

    [but do you reckon that for instance boycotts against South Africa also complicitly enabled the regime? ]
    yes i think they were but i think what was more important was the pressure, the grip tightened but the overall pressure became more. the pressure was instigated by the common enemy and ultimately contributed towards the end.

    [Do your misguided efforts to help make you as guilty as someone who apathetically accepts the status quo?]
    .. means to and end.. the question is can you live with the end?
    would have been better to go the hong kong route or sir lanka?

    And finally @ michael again:
    [A more recent situation was seen in Zim recently when then president Mbeki told the west to butt out and stop threatening Mugabe because their righteous indignation was not helping with his negotiation efforts] yes, he was seeking a resolution the rest were not seeking, he was being unhelpful despite his best efforts. He however had to uphold past loyalties. Mugabe after all was helpful in the anti-apartheit effort, such as providing training , staging areas and ultimately refuge. They were bothers in arms against the colonialists.

    [This is a particularly helpful parallel because, in the same way that nobody would argue that Mugabe was a legitimate power, the question of whether or not Fundamentalists should wield power (in the Church or state) is really a moot point – they do, so what approach will help the situation best now?]
    mugabe was a legitimate power, the questionable part in now-a-days. what is best? prolong peace talks so that another million people can die, more women raped, more people maimed for sake random things like local sentiment? Seriously, sometimes i wonder why people just don’t see an overview as to the actual ‘human’ cost ‘pussy footing’ around with motherf#$ers like mugabe. look people, the americans were right with dropping the second atomic bomb. stop worrying about cracking an egg when the egg carton is on top on a keg of explosives. (read as metaphor for theme of comment)

    ok, so after having written so much i feel like a preacher … *sigh* god help us all.

  • 35 Kenneth Oberlander // Jun 8, 2009 at 8:27 am

    @Michael

    he was simply a local conservative with a science degree

    Aaaarrggh. This makes me even angrier! People with science degrees should know better…

    The students are possibly quite confused for a while, but the variety of views encourages discussion and questioning, which I think is a vital attitude that should be taught in schools.

    The thing is, there are no scientific alternatives to be taught here. I agree that questioning and discussion are vital, but these should be about the science!

    @gerhard:

    bothers in arms

    I think the apartheid government would agree… ;-)

  • 36 Hugo // Jun 8, 2009 at 8:31 am

    @gerhard, this is what I hear you saying:

    “I’m unable to reach these people, so we should all give up and rather try to shut them up”…

    ?!

  • 37 Michael // Jun 8, 2009 at 8:39 am

    @ Gerhard:

    Thanks, the best comment series from you so far (or rather, the one I understood the best!)

    [ok, so after having written so much i feel like a preacher … *sigh* god help us all.]

    Halarious!

    [the word of god , even taken as literal as can be, remains subjective in application and understanding. I don’t really think that any debate with their strain of fanaticism can be productive in a meaningful way.]

    [people that far gone can not be reasoned with]

    [you’re reinforcing their delusion by discussing text and interpretation on their terms, by their rules because of the fear of them shutting down that is enabling]

    These three comments reveal that either you are talking about only a specific kind of fundamentalism (which is not a massive influence on the Church in SA in my opinion), or you are misguided about how fundamentalists think:

    I know that they are not “too far gone” for reason, as long as you play by their rules (as you say). For instance… I myself have been cured of a fundamentalist view of Scripture, not by being confronted with societies “mirror” but the mirror of Scripture itself. Particularly the teachings of Jesus. If I tried to explain how this happened, it might come across as preaching, which is not my intent. I simply want to point out that it is my “delusions” (as you rather offensively put it – but I forgive you) that helped me escape from fundamentalism. Me, and many others like me.

    [the questionable part in now-a-days. what is best? prolong peace talks so that another million people can die, more women raped, more people maimed for sake random things like local sentiment?]

    I’m not a big fan of Mbeki. Still, we might give him the benefit of the doubt. Possibly he believed that the more aggressive stance advocated by the west (and you, obviously) would have resulted in violent civil war. Maybe it had nothing to do with “local sentiment”.

    [well then tell us about the idea of god that isn’t meaningless to you?]

    The experience I have is of a God (Jesus Christ) who is personal, and loving, and who preached just one law – love. My relationship with God makes sense to me (on a worldview-metaphysics-philosophy level), never makes me feel guilty, and gives me hope, not for “pie-in-the-sky someday we’ll all escape”, but in the power of God to transform lives and communities through love and compassion. You asked.

  • 38 gerhard // Jun 8, 2009 at 8:39 am

    hugo: well, you are putting your fingers in your earns on purpose, there is nothing i can do about that i am merely proposing an alternative to playing their games on their terms.

  • 39 Michael // Jun 8, 2009 at 9:03 am

    @ Kenneth Oberlander

    Well…not entirely. There are alternative views of both theistic evolution and non-theistic evolution… there are even non-scientific views of origins which (although annoying) are impossible to refute, given a theistic worldview (Ompholos Hypothosis is an example). I believe that the openness for questioning is more helpful to children than a straight education in evolutionary theory when they are later confronted with fundamentalist ideas. But that’s an opinion.

    @ Hugo

    You still out there. Just reading along with nothing to say? Or are you lulling us into a false sense of security so that when we finally come to some sort of agreement you’ll throw another spanner in the works? ;)

  • 40 Hugo // Jun 8, 2009 at 10:07 am

    I’m following the discussion. I’m hopeful that you are able to reach some sort of agreement, in fact, more so than when I take part. ;-) (I’ve been failing for long enough that I’ve become very pessimistic about my own contribution in conversations with gerhard. ;-) )

    Gerhard, I’ve only read half your comment. Will read the rest this evening, our quick exchange following it helps me frame your comment better. (Otherwise I wonder “what is this comment really about?” all the way through.)

  • 41 Kenneth Oberlander // Jun 8, 2009 at 10:59 am

    @Michael

    Well…not entirely. There are alternative views of both theistic evolution and non-theistic evolution…

    Hmmm…IMO, religious concepts shouldn’t enter the science class at all. These are concepts for a comparative religion class.

    there are even non-scientific views of origins which (although annoying) are impossible to refute, given a theistic worldview (Ompholos Hypothosis is an example).

    Then, by definition, they are outside science, and should not be taught in science class. Unless you wish to discuss why they are not science, which might be interesting, if time-consuming.

    I believe that the openness for questioning is more helpful to children than a straight education in evolutionary theory when they are later confronted with fundamentalist ideas. But that’s an opinion.

    An interesting idea, which I’m uncertain I agree with…this one made me think for a while. Questioning is all well and good, but you need to know your facts before knowing which questions are relevant, and which answers are correct!

  • 42 gerhard // Jun 8, 2009 at 11:57 am

    [Removed at gerhard’s request:

    Gerhard: hey man, can’t you add comment editing? or at least remove my last comment, it just sucks. lots and lots of mistakes and half-thoughts. I dunno, I just commented on everything that didn’t matter this morning.

    — Editor.]

  • 43 Hugo // Jun 8, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Right, I’m taking another bite at commenting.

    true, that is claimed. But in truth , followers seek an “authoritative’ opinion of the interpretation as to how it relates.
    the word of god , even taken as literal as can be, remains subjective in application and understanding. I don’t really think that any debate with their strain of fanaticism can be productive in a meaningful way.

    That doesn’t seem to be an objection to what michael said. (Which is something I agree with.

    I would argue , based on knowledge of self reinforcing propaganda & brainwashing techniques that maybe they should be confronted with the higher degree of accountability instead. I’m not saying , try an convert anyone, just confront them with their actions and hypocrisies.

    Isn’t that exactly what we’re doing (or trying to do)? We’re trying to hold them to higher accountability, especially based on the words and teachings of the Rabbi they claim to follow.

    I know this is a unpopular idea but why not protect everyone else by at least blocking their sometimes putrid invluence on the world.

    You’re selling everyone else short. Why not help everyone by encouraging open conversation. Everyone can be inoculated against the meme complex by gradual and controlled exposure to elements of the complex. Or are you in fact an anti-vaxxer? :-P Go watch Dennett’s TED talks again.

    I’m specifically trying to encourage open conversation and dialogue, to introduce fundies to other people and other ways of thinking. Like trying to hook up a friend of mine with a girl named “science”. And here you come “cock-blocking” the setup. You’re selling science short, don’t underestimate the potential in her positive influence!

    Besides, what’s the point of blocking them on this site? So that they then go and set up their own sites peddling 100% distilled Fundie-ism? Isn’t it better to bring the conversation in to a venue where they need to deal with dialogue and conflicting perspectives, opening them up to criticism? You’re driving them into a pure and isolated memeosphere, where they can reach young and vulnerable minds without being challenged. Your “cock-blocking” is effectively pushing *us* out of the conversation.

    people that far gone can not be reasoned with

    I disagree.

    at best you can go for the ones who’ll listen but that is too limited compared the to reach they have on the world

    We have this enlightenment-value called free speech. And historical experience has shown us how important it is. The result: they will always have a place to speak and be heard. Especially on the internet. Segregation is not the answer, integration is the answer. (My opinion.)

    i feel one can only be productive by seeking to reduce their hold on the outside world.

    I feel one can only be productive by seeking to integrate the diversity of humanity and letting the truth reign on top of the chaos that is human interaction and dialogue.

    (not really the ‘love’ everyone answers you seem to be looking for)

    You seem to be advocating a new form of apartheid. It seems too unloving for me, yes.

    The thing about the world is you can’t really make anyone do what they ’should’ , no one agrees on the should and expecting them to, is a childish fantasy.

    Indeed. Can’t expect people to keep to the law, fantasy. Can’t expect people to care for one another, humans are selfish bastards. That doesn’t mean we can’t try anyway! It is worth trying to promote ethical behaviour. And I’m sure you agree.

    We need to hold the mirror up to fundamentalism and show it what it is, what the nature of it does and what the ‘real’ consequences of such things are.

    Yes! I agree. I’d frame this in terms of “we need to teach”. Now next comes the question: what is the most effective way of doing that? And name-calling is not part of the most effective way. I believe.

    Dialogue is exactly what i am asking for

    Great!

    except i ask to dialogue about different things

    Fair enough. You’re welcome to start a blog and see if you can encourage dialogue with the topics you’d like to discuss. Longer-term plans for thinktoomuch.net include making it easier to have any kind of discussion of any sort, irrespective of the posts that were written. I.e. driven by the community. At this point, the site is too monolithic: I write a blog post, to start a discussion I’m interested in. (Hence, until such time as I can provide you with what you need, out of my effort, you’d have to go to your own effort to create a dialoguing community… And ask yourself whether this community and its dialogues are something you’re interested in taking part in. And whether you’re willing to abide by the social contract implied by such dialogue. (I recently read Easy ethics and hard, so I’m thinking in terms of Kohlberg’s “stages” of moral development.)

    [I don’t believe that religious institutions or faith make us hateful.] now how about that, i have a belief that people engaged in such institutions believe that because they are too close to something they really care about and are blinded while basking in the light. sometimes however an outsider has a better view of the overall value to all of us and of the consequences as they are the ones usually effected and ‘freaked out’ because of their unrelenting exposure to it.

    Sometimes the outsider is just clueless. Like you’re clueless as to what “Stellenbosch Gemeente” is about, as I’m sure you haven’t met them and haven’t been exposed to what they teach. You won’t find anything you could argue makes people hateful there.

    Note though, a church “institution” consists of people and their culture. So the Dutch Reformed church, in terms of leadership, is doing their best at coping and improving the situation of others that are already in fundamentalist beliefs. It’s a tough fight. Trying to assign black-and-white blame as to who created the fundamentalism in the first place, is impossible, and is often less the leadership and more the lay people and ancestors, often in response to polarising forces. (Like you. :-P ) Or bad framings of science, read this post: Evolution and Liberal Christianity – or read it later, I’ll blog it this week, doesn’t take as much time as the other things I struggle to finish.

    hugo shhh

    m’kay, I’m shhhing. ;-)

    Another is that they loose and relative use of religion is really just priming candidates for fundamentalism.

    This has not been proven. I’m willing to place a bet that “Liberal Christianity” has dissolved more fundamentalism than it has created. Actually, many blame the older version of liberal Christianity for the secularisation of Europe. Think about that for a minute. Or an hour.

    yes you’re right but what you’re saying sounds a lot like we shouldn’t partake in those activities for sake of the fundamentalists. that i fundamentally have a problem with. It is important that these activities continue for sake of the others who aren’t fundamentalists so that they can dialogue about such subjects in manners acceptable to them. i would draw a parallel to the Mohammed cartoons. Fine , it is wrong for their culture to print and distribute such material but to disallow such activities for other cultures is a disgrace and a loss to us all.

    Michael and I (or just I, sorry if I’m pulling you in incorrectly here!) aren’t requesting that people stop expressing themselves. What you describe is “non-religious people need a space to vent”. By all means! When I was attending the formative meetings of Freethinking Maties, that was a sentiment that was raised, and considered very important. Those breaking out, do need a place where they can rant and rave and go crazy, it’s therapeutic for them, and it helps find peace. Like anger helps after a breakup, I’m told: helps you get over someone. So there’s richarddawkins.net, there’s de-conversion.com for more thoughtful and nuanced de-converted dialogue. There’s landoverbaptist. ;-) There’s a billion places on the net. And this blog isn’t one of them, and doesn’t have to be, because what you’re describing as important there, those requirements, can be fully met elsewhere. This blog doesn’t have to be that too.

    [In fact doing these things only strengthens fundamentalism because of the classic reactionary “way” of fundamentalists.]
    well, they are far gone, closed off. these are people willing to write off science, reason and logic for a subjective momentary viewpoints on relative interpretations. I’m more interested in limiting their influence over others.

    And I’m more interested in helping them out. You’ve given up on them, “they are far gone, closed off”. I have optimism, Michael has optimism. Liberal Christians have optimism. How about you let us/them do their thing, rather than sabotaging our efforts and reinforcing fundamentalism by name-calling? If the rules you need to play by to not reinforce fundamentalism by being perceived as something they certainly don’t want to be (“To become a non-fundie, I have to become more like gerhard. There’s no way I want to be like gerhard, so I remain a fundie. See the “evolution and liberal christianity” post), then, again, this site, these dialogues, these conversations, are not the place for you. They will continue to frustrate. If, however, you’re keen on helping out in a friendly manner, stick around!

    they are making you deal with them in their terms , you will never get anywhere on their terms because they own the rules.

    Wrong.

    you’re reinforcing their delusion by discussing text and interpretation on their terms

    I disagree (but I’m not saing “wrong” this time, since the disagreement more nuanced this time). By discussing text and interpretation, you can learn a great wealth of things. Careful, thoughtful talk of the contradictions, and of the origins in how things come about, leading into “higher criticism” with regards to texts held sacred, is the most powerful way to move forward. In my opinion. Read Religion without Revelation over on Shuck and Jive.

    comments like mine do enable but that is because i am a lonely voice and the things i say have been profiled into a little box for them by their culture. It would be a different matter if they were confronted in such manner on a regular basis and by a much larger cross section of our population and publicly.

    More self-contradiction, in my opinion, in some sense. Firstly: the explanation for why your comments enable, doesn’t reduce the fact that they enable. Secondly, you know “what they do” when confronted like this on a regular basis: they withdraw into their cocoon, they avoid contact with the outside world. Unless, of course, you get 95% of the population to be so intolerant and negative, then they can’t ignore it. But you said yourself you’re not going to influence people with regards to what they should and shouldn’t do. You’re not going to reach that kind of critical mass. So your comments enable, and us here, on this blog, turning into gerhard-clones, or Dawkins-clones, or Hitchens-clones (or just fanboys, in case cloning’s evil :-P ), will just turn this blog into another one of the polarising blogs that are also arguably “enabling”. (As always, there’s no black and white here, it’s shades of grey and way more complicated than any fundie, young-earth creationist or atheistic-fundie, wants it to be. “Fundie-ism” as “over-simplifying”, ’cause the nuances are simply too complicated to deal with easily.)

    Yes, the bits I didn’t quote are pretty good. In most paragraphs, there are points I can agree on. Apologies for focusing on the disagreement here, but you wanted debate, not so? And I’m kinda hoping we could settle on our differences some time and move on, rather than playing loop-de-loop each month.

    no offence taken , frank discussion is much better than being pc because we’re all adults who can handle it.

    The people we’re trying to engage here, don’t handle insults and name calling well.

    as for the drumrolled request . no. i’m sorry i can not do. expect only what reality holds and if that entails 12 year old boys licking peanut butter off appendages then i refuse to rewrite it in euphemism for sake of people over-sensitive to reality. I would expect you to want that right too so leave it for me.

    Think in terms of teaching. If you’re trying to set up a good learning environment, what do you need in terms of how people relate to one another? Is name-calling, shaming, ridiculing… a good teaching method? Have you and I got big disagreements around pedagogy as well?

    One bully in school can make it horribly unpleasant for all the other kids attending. They won’t want to come to school, in fact. Usually that is overcome by the fact that school is pretty much compulsory. Reading this blog isn’t, so a bully calling other kids names is more of a problem here than in school. “Deluded!” is name calling. “But it is true” is not a defence. Kids call other kids names based on things that are true. “Big nose!” “Cripple!” “Four eyes!” Whatever. The truth-value of an insult doesn’t change the fact that it is insulting.

    Examples of exaggerated name-calling, gerhard #25:

    kudos to your boss / head of the brainwashing institute.

    You have no idea what that school is like. You don’t want to be diluting the meaning of brainwashing like that. We could argue their parents brainwashed them, with the result that they fare better in a Christian school. Free thinkers brainwash their kids with a “critical thinking” approach. I’m always happy when kids are brainwashed into believing compassion is important. What’s the point of the name-calling again?

    I expect you have taboos. I could pepper my comments with swearing and insults and say “but that’s just how I think of you, and the conversation, and how I express myself, so you can’t complain”. That seems similar to the idea of “I can call you deluded and brainwashed and brainwashing and cult, because those are my words”.

    it’s these people that will probably ‘accept’ people like you and me being burnt at the stake.

    In your defence, there are quotation marks around “accept”. I still think this is horrid mis-characterisation and things like this don’t belong in friendly conversations.

    you need to take ‘brainwashing institute’ as what i see that kind of institution as , and i actually take offense when people ‘correct’ me in favour of PCness… (having opinion is one thing , but to actually voice it in your terms is apparently an unforgivable sin , because you may actually offend people by having a different view)

    Luckily I didn’t correct you, I’m simply voicing my opinion. In fact, in my opinion, you’re an intolerant close-minded (in the relationship sense) bigot. And I’ll actually take offence if you ‘correct’ me.

    gerhard #26:

    alot of my beliefs are self contradictory. that is because they i have not finished the model in my head.

    Most people never finish the models in their head. It just isn’t important enough, they’re too busy living their lives. Now you go call them deluded for having contradictory beliefs (e.g. contradictory to reality). How productive will it be if I call you names for your contradictions? We can all degrade into a typical flame fest like you find friggen everywhere on the internet, because “it is wrong and offensive to try and be friendly and avoid calling each other names”.

    [dialogue which encourages self-reflection. ]
    that is the tricky bit self-reflection is the thing the system actively seek to disable. the system gives the tools to keep this reflection within the group and their leaders. you could have a thousand good dialogues with these people but it would only take one little corrective session in the group to retool the individual with better opinions that won’t destroy his world as he knows it.

    Especially when you’re negative and you set what seems to be a bad example. “I don’t want to be like gerhard”. Which is why I find it important to be friendly and open. To not focus on arguing and debating, but to focus on making friends. And you’re probably not interested in “deluded and stupidly irrational” friends. The aim (of me, my blog) is to offer an alternative. If someone’s interested in connecting with the outside world, in finding their way into a more harmonious cooperative and accurate (with regards to reality) worldview, I want to be there to help them out. Or I want someone else to be there to help them out, as I’m probably too much of a “liberal” for the first connection.

    …Enough from me. Again. Repeating myself as I have again and again over many months. I wonder if I’m making any progress in taking part in discussions in this manner, which is why I sometimes think I should just stay out of them.

    Criticism et al especially welcome from people other than gerhard. Gerhard, you’re welcome to respond critically too, but I just hear the criticism better from other people. (Excuse me having become a little tone-deaf by now.) I’ll try overcome my biases, as always… but I hope this comment helps you understand — which is not the same thing as agreeing of course. (And what to understand here, is probably the biggest question.)

  • 44 Kenneth Oberlander // Jun 9, 2009 at 8:42 am

    @Hugo

    in case cloning’s evil

    Pity about those damned plants, micro-organisms and bdelloid rotifers then… ;-)

    *tongue firmly in cheek*

  • 45 Michael // Jun 9, 2009 at 8:54 am

    @ Hugo…

    Wow… tough crowd. Maybe we need a new conversation. I enjoyed the discussion on enabling. It made me think. Gerhard’s stance (kudos) made me think perhaps the resistance within the Church towards fundamentalism is too passive. I want to remain friendly and work from scripture, but perhaps there are time when more direct confrontation is in order. (Like Jeremiah confronting the false prophets with an iron yoke. He got slapped for his troubles, but the whole court saw him prophecy God’s judgement on the false prophet and would certainly have clicked when the prophecy came true.) Simbolically, aggressive stances towards fundamentalism may have exactly this effect, but (as you pointed out, they can’t be the only solution. And they are certainly not the best approach for those inside the faith. I prefer your pedagogical principal :) ). Right… new subject!

    @ Kenneth:

    I totally agree: origins debates (as far as they touch atheism vs. theism) do not belong in the science classroom. Luckily, I teach sport and life orientation :) , so we can discuss a spectrum of ideas from within our Christian framework in the school without getting in too much trouble from either party (science respecters or religious conservatives).

  • 46 Hugo // Jun 9, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Bad Ben, you there? (Need not catch up on everything if you’ve been busy, just curious for one particular input from you, see below.)

    @Michael

    Hehe, do I come across as too tough (“tough crowd”)? I suppose your impressions of my comments might differ depending on how long you’ve been following gerhard&I’s exchanges. ;)

    On the matter of enabling, yea, that’s worth discussing, I’m just being defensive about the communication style and stance I’ve chosen for my blog in particular. Maybe I incorrectly perceive gerhard’s comments as… “attacks” on my choices.

    Here’s where I’d like Bad Ben to chip in:

    perhaps the resistance within the Church towards fundamentalism is too passive

    It depends on which church, I guess. The “emerging church movement” or whatever name whatever subset of that movement goes by, is sometimes criticised for being too critical, too directly attacking fundamentalism. Books by titles of the kind “Jesus wants to save Christians” reinforce that. ;) The reason I’m interested in Ben’s input, is he has an opinion in that regard, having come from fundamentalism himself. He knows how a Shofarian would experience it, how Shofar preaches against the “emergents”.

    Bad Ben, any interesting thoughts to add, with particular reference for the reasons for those thoughts?

  • 47 Michael // Jun 9, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    @ Hugo:

    No, I was actually refering to the post that I read from Gerhard that he requested be erased when I said “tough crowd”. “Tough class” might have been more appropriate…

    Yes, I agree that some strands are too passive, some to aggressive and some too passive-aggressive (just for fun!). As someone who came out of fundamentalism (albeit a mild form), I can attest to the fact that no amount of criticism from (what we called) “liberals”, or from secular sources (such as Dawkins) or anyone else made a difference to me. The thing that changed my view was a loving teacher who explained the meaning of the Scriptures more fully to me, especially with regards to Jesus. I then began reading books by (what we would probably now call) “emergents” or “liberals” and was able to see truth that I would otherwise never have been able to see. So maybe there’s room for all sorts of approaches?

    @ On a side note, wrote a blog entry recently asking people to comment on how they define “spiritual” versus “religious” in response to a thought-provoking blog entry from “Sarcastic Lutheran”. It’s an exercise in semantics coloured by denominational bias, but I’d love to hear your views.

  • 48 Werner // Jun 9, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Your question mirroring mine: are they here, in this community? Well, maybe “shofar member” would feel insulted. Maybe werner, though I think werner’s cool. I’ll try to find out what he’s up to (both of them actually) and if he’s left the conversation for particular or interesting reasons.

    Naah, I am still wading through the material. Some good reads. It is just that those block quote manually blocked with “[” “]” are really giving me a headache. As in literally. Clearly I have issues.

    Ben displays some interesting incite into how things are going down in an fundamental church. I liked his pietie story. Very very true story that.

    It is unfortunate that I missed most of the discussion, I was rather busy with work. Today I was shocked to see how long I was out of it.

    To connect with the main post. Interesting comment. I guess if I take your premise about the self centered intentions of the born again person as true, I can accept your conclusion. However, I would then say that such a person cannot be labeled a Christian. Christians are called to serve others, not themselves.

    My view, being saved is not being saved from hell in the afterlife. Instead it is being saved from the bondage of sin, which leads to spiritual death.

  • 49 Werner // Jun 9, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Of everything, the following comment by Hugo was really interesting to me. I remember reading it once before, but since then I have grown more to appreciate it’s significance.

    and my committed “all in” attitude, during which I was indeed very serious about making it work or something, lasted what, three months?

    Firstly, I have no idea what happened to you in those 3 months. I can however venture a guess. Once a person chooses to go the fundamental Christian route (born again, saved, whatever you want to call it) Shofar style, times are almost guaranteed to become very tough. Seasoned Christians are very aware of this phase in new believers, as the probability of breaking thought it without support is close to zero. Renewal of the mind was never a picnic.

    This is where the pietie failure comes in. It would make sense for Satan to pepper you the hardest when you are a young and fragile Christian. I believe some new believers can “see” that these attacks are a sign that they are on the right track, and proceed to overcome by loads and loads of prayer. Once you break through that phase, things become more clear. Others however are completely overwhelmedby Satan and completely derailed from such a belief system. I believe you to be such a case.

    Remember this is what I believe, not stating fact here ;) I am trying to show you how we think.

  • 50 Bad Ben // Jun 9, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    A lot I would like to comment on.

    No time to write the gargantuan response to Gerhard’s very valid objections towards my very raw ideas around…erm…pacifism I guess. Thanks for a lot to chew on Gerhard; Touché!

    Also I have a bag full of 2c coins about the Conservative/Liberal false dichotomy; but eek no time now!

    PS. Hugo. Thanks for the questions, will attend to them asap. Suffice to say for now, I think people oversimplify fundamentalism, umbrella-ing diverse notions like biblical fidelity and foundationalism, which are unsimilar.

  • 51 gerhard // Jun 10, 2009 at 12:15 am

    ok… so …

    [That doesn’t seem to be an objection to what michael said. (Which is something I agree with.]
    the objection is that his definition is naive and not literally what is going on. As such , he thinks he is fighting a mouse but in fact he needs to come prepared to a lion fight.

    [Why not help everyone by encouraging open conversation. ]
    because if the conversation has to happen on their terms then the conversation isn’t open. what is so difficult to understand?

    [Everyone can be inoculated against the meme complex by gradual and controlled exposure to elements of the complex.]
    that is for the people outside of the complex. This complex forms the basis on which the outside gets viewed and interacted with. they have, the cards stacked against the outside world.

    [I’m specifically trying to encourage open conversation and dialogue, to introduce fundies to other people and other ways of thinking.] they are not allowed this pleasure. they systematically disenfranchise the outside world and outside opinion.
    case in point, fred may suddenly having an opinion on south park and everyone else , over night, following.. (baaah) repeat ,
    with bush , repeat with any real threat to his sheep or world view. no different as to how heavens gate, Scientology or Catholicism does it. Sure the effectiveness varies between them.

    [Like trying to hook up a friend of mine with a girl named “science”. ] oh my word, they accept science? why do you think so many engineers and the like are shofar members? the problem isn’t with ignorance here. Cults don’t work like that. They exploit the animal side of you (read. human) not the intellectual side! they make you _want_ to dismiss certain things for sake of others. you know for the ‘should’.

    [Your “cock-blocking” is effectively pushing *us* out of the conversation.] possibly but you’re enabling fundamentalism to retreat.

    [We have this enlightenment-value called free speech. And historical experience has shown us how important it is.] Free speech and selling snake oil are two very different things. free speech stops at the doors at universities when it comes to what gets taught in what context. Why lecture theology in a satellite communications theory class for engineering students?

    [ The result: they will always have a place to speak and be heard. Especially on the internet. Segregation is not the answer, integration is the answer. (My opinion.)]
    they DESERVE a place to speak and be heard, just like I or YOU? What i am talking about is not what you are accusing me of. I don’t want segregation i just don’t want us to set them up for self-segregation. The self-segregation is what you’re feeding into. A more pronounced overall culture of accountability is harder to escape. You might be talking about individual but i am talking about the masses. It really scares me when people like micheal marginalise smaller cults into concious oblivion dismissing how many such cults actually exist and what power they hold over him and society. he thinks something like shofar and its little community might be the exception but has he looked into the diversity and real power all these cell groups have? there are thousands of fred mays each teaching their brand of conservative isolationist theory loosely based on literal interpretation of the bible. the problem is very fucking real. The power they have is the acceptance of their practices, we allow stuff that if not in religious context we would be throwing our toys for. that is disgusting. utterly disgusting.

    [Sometimes the outsider is just clueless. Like you’re clueless as to what “Stellenbosch Gemeente” is about, as I’m sure you haven’t met them and haven’t been exposed to what they teach. You won’t find anything you could argue makes people hateful there.] *sigh* Do they have a hell for people who don’t share their opinion?i suppose you’re right , it’s impossible to know what each and every variation of so many cults and their induvidualised teachings. i don’t even know what ‘the church’ is that micheal refers too.

    [The people we’re trying to engage here, don’t handle insults and name calling well.]
    they set the terms far far lower than that.. Say something like ‘humans are animals’ and they are accusing you of name calling and insulting people … blah blah. hell, just look at michaels example of “almost” loosing his job.

    [ Is name-calling, shaming, ridiculing… a good teaching method? Have you and I got big disagreements around pedagogy as well?] person one: you racist!
    person two: stop calling me names , i’m not a racist i only hate blacks.
    the schizophrenic nature of human conciousness has been discussed in very frank terms by philosophers and scientists , why the hell should we not? if your behaviour in context of the world is delusional then i really don’t see the point of censoring that viewpoint so we all can pretend it isn’t because that isn’t the popular opinion. pc brainwashing … pc brainwashing… pfft

    [ “Deluded!” is name calling. “But it is true” is not a defence. Kids call other kids names based on things that are true. “Big nose!” “Cripple!” “Four eyes!” Whatever. The truth-value of an insult doesn’t change the fact that it is insulting.]
    yes but this is not appropriate behaving in intellectual pursuits. (my personal opinion regarding this bully is bulling because no one is standing up to it. the kids have the power of stopping the bully in his tracks but because they have been so abused by a failing and powerless school system that they don’t have the skills needed to resolve the matter. the result of not dealing with the matter is that the kids walk away bruised and scarred by the bullies action. weaker because of their inaction than because of failed action. )

    [You have no idea what that school is like. You don’t want to be diluting the meaning of brainwashing like that. ]
    of cause i do , micheal said so himself run by religionite enough people to bring his job into question and show the influence of the young earth crap. actually, i have intimate knowledge of the methods and have read a considerable amount on advertising, education, religious practices and brainwashing. I keep refering you guys to Joseph Goebbels, Edward Bernays, some of the grandfathers of propaganda and brainwashing techniques.Their opinions matter these were the guys who didn’t just think about it in some abstract way but actually applied and taught what they knew worked. for the record to give cultural context , the word advertising only actually started being used after ww2 to separate the concept from propaganda. The concept however remains un separated in many first world cultures, like for instance in Italian ones.
    a fact that often surprises people.

    [We could argue their parents brainwashed them, with the result that they fare better in a Christian school. Free thinkers brainwash their kids with a “critical thinking” approach.] now that is diluting the concept of brainwashing…

    [I expect you have taboos. ] I expect you wouldn’t be able to find them. I expect that of everyone else who is serious about reason. I would only expect the person to back up what is said. like i do with you hopefully. I would even go as far as to listen to them and then spend time reading up on the validity of what is said then try see what makes sense.

    [could pepper my comments with swearing and insults and say “but that’s just how I think of you, and the conversation, and how I express myself, so you can’t complain”. ] please that would make for an interesting change of pace :) just don’t swear at people, or insult _them_. swear and insult concepts and behaviours worthy of such treatment.

    [That seems similar to the idea of “I can call you deluded and brainwashed and brainwashing and cult, because those are my words”.]
    pfft, i’m not calling for the ability to call someone a faggot for sake of expression, i just think we should be able to call ‘a spade a spade’ without consideration of subjective and momentary PCness. We should act like adults , so to say.

    [In your defence, there are quotation marks around “accept”. I still think this is horrid mis-characterisation and things like this don’t belong in friendly conversations.] shameful. with fundamentalists storming museums and shootings outside of abortion clinics :P i guess reality has no place in friendly conversation then . :)

    [Luckily I didn’t correct you, I’m simply voicing my opinion. In fact, in my opinion, you’re an intolerant close-minded (in the relationship sense) bigot. And I’ll actually take offence if you ‘correct’ me.]
    you’re a little bit slow. if you’re going to do this for dramatic effect then at least stick to a like example.

    [Most people never finish the models in their head. It just isn’t important enough, they’re too busy living their lives. Now you go call them deluded for having contradictory beliefs (e.g. contradictory to reality).]
    look, i call the guy living next door who says his cancer got cured by faith healing while undergoing chemo deluded. i can’t help it. I think it’s antagonizing towards him for me not to say something when he is telling me otherwise or helping other people come to the same conclusion. sure he’d find it insulting , but how insulting is it for me or you not to be allowed to say something in public discourse? if you don’t like the word deluded then suggest another word which will describe the phenomena so closely.

    [Especially when you’re negative and you set what seems to be a bad example. “I don’t want to be like gerhard”. Which is why I find it important to be friendly and open. ] you think i’m talking about ‘our behaviour’ in that quote? i’m saying all it takes is one sentence from a ‘fred may’ lead worshiper inspire machine type person to make the community think and do whatever it takes to agree. hell people will disagree but they will discuss it , inspired to resolve their faults in the eyes of god.

    [And you’re probably not interested in “deluded and stupidly irrational” friends.] humans are deluded and driven by stupidly irrational things.. there is no escaping that.

    @michael
    [Gerhard’s stance (kudos) made me think perhaps the resistance within the Church towards fundamentalism is too passive.] yes, that sounds like you’re understanding… i’m just worried about the very specific ‘the church’ because i’m not sure i know what you mean.

    [ I want to remain friendly and work from scripture, but perhaps there are time when more direct confrontation is in order.] yes! they are taking over! they are making _you_ look bad.

    [I can attest to the fact that no amount of criticism from (what we called) “liberals”, or from secular sources (such as Dawkins) or anyone else made a difference to me.] how old are you? because to me you sound like late 20s earlyish 30s? am i correct? If i am correct and you’re not young which means your fundamentalism is well in your past. If so then i doubt there were _any_ secular sources such as dawkins informing your opinions as this breed of questioning is new and i don’t know if you’re a bertrand russel kind of guy. ironic that those liberals would possibly be considered conservative by today’s standard. :) aside form that you are actually illustrating my point about ‘too far gone’ you got ejected out of the system by spiritual guidance from within the system which made you re-evaluate it ? ‘was a loving teacher who explained the meaning of the Scriptures more fully to me’ that sounds to me like you are talking about a non liberal.

    [So maybe there’s room for all sorts of approaches?] yes, but please try more of the others…. you guys are being very defeatist by just appealing for the one.

    ok so micheal instead of a new conversation could we perhaps return to the enabling convo? I like you quite enjoyed it, and i feel there is much there still left unsaid, so i would like to see a continuation. do you for instance agree with hugo when he says [By discussing text and interpretation, you can learn a great wealth of things. Careful, thoughtful talk of the contradictions, and of the origins in how things come about, leading into “higher criticism” with regards to texts held sacred, is the most powerful way to move forward. In my opinion]. Would you have learnt from one of them “liberals”? you described yourself as in ‘mild’ fundamentalism. Do you think the same thinking applies for a less mild one?

  • 52 Hugo // Jun 10, 2009 at 12:31 am

    @Werner:

    Firstly, I have no idea what happened to you in those 3 months. I can however venture a guess. Once a person chooses to go the fundamental Christian route (born again, saved, whatever you want to call it) Shofar style, times are almost guaranteed to become very tough. Seasoned Christians are very aware of this phase in new believers, as the probability of breaking thought it without support is close to zero. Renewal of the mind was never a picnic.

    I’ll tell you where the worldview I attempted to adopt started cracking in all earnest: the day I heard Fred May tell a lie from the pulpit. That was the point at which my attempt to accept everything this man said (because he speaks for God or something) fell apart, and I started explicitly testing what he says against fact. The lie was in the third-person, so it isn’t exactly a case of “Fred May lied”, but he told something that some people in the audience would have taken as fact. Hence: propagating lies, which by certain theologies would be to serve Satan. So that’s what happened towards the end of the three months. Biblical literalism and fundamentalism in particular (believing the rest of my family are doomed, for not having been “saved”…) simply doesn’t stand up to critical thinking… in my experience. (And many others’.)

    gerhard would probably point out that it takes a while for “brainwashing to kick in”. ;-) So those first few months are where you have to bridge the gap between thinking for yourself and getting invested so deep that you overcome the desire to think for yourself, especially since it would ruin all the time you invested.

  • 53 Hugo // Jun 10, 2009 at 1:30 am

    @Michael,

    The thing that changed my view was a loving teacher who explained the meaning of the Scriptures more fully to me, especially with regards to Jesus. I then began reading books by (what we would probably now call) “emergents” or “liberals” and was able to see truth that I would otherwise never have been able to see. So maybe there’s room for all sorts of approaches?

    Your account reflects mine, as well as … Bad Ben’s, as well as Die Piesangverkoper’s, as well as a bunch of the ex-fundies over at de-conversion.com, as well as… ok, you get my point.

    All sorts of approaches? Yea… though I had to think for a while before I came up with a name of someone that *didn’t* follow the emergent/liberal/non-literal theological path out of fundamentalism. Then I remembered another friend, who I’ll leave nameless, who mentioned he was at Shofar for a while. His feelings on dealing with fundamentalism is more along the lines of “don’t waste your time on it. The smart guys will figure it out themselves, the rest are not worth the effort — in the sense that there are bigger differences and contributions you can make to society with your time.” (He’s a pastafarian now. ;) )

    Of course there’s selection bias at play here. Meet de-converts at richarddawkins.net instead, then I’d be surprised if you don’t find more people that took the hard-science “harsh-rationalism” path out. But, with “the circles I find myself in” as the subset we’re talking about, the “liberal-theology” path is definitely the more common one. I’m a True Believer when it comes to its strength, so to reach the fundies I know (friends/family), I’d pay 10:1 odds on a bet as to which is more likely to work. ;)

    I’ll take part in your post later this week, time pressure prohibits me right now. (I shouldn’t even be commenting here… but, ah, human weakness!)

    @Werner, these paragraphs are pretty cool:

    To connect with the main post. Interesting comment. I guess if I take your premise about the self centered intentions of the born again person as true, I can accept your conclusion. However, I would then say that such a person cannot be labeled a Christian. Christians are called to serve others, not themselves.

    My view, being saved is not being saved from hell in the afterlife. Instead it is being saved from the bondage of sin, which leads to spiritual death.

    Acknowledged and agreed. Though, me of course from a non-literalist perspective.

    Oh, and work is more important than taking part in these discussions. ;) So congrats! Though, you’re new in this discussion, I seem to recall there’s a different discussion-in-progress in which you were participating? I’ll check it out later.

    @Bad Ben, apologies for liberal/conservative dichotomies, but you know how it is: ease of communication. :-/

    @gerhard:

    [Why not help everyone by encouraging open conversation. ]
    because if the conversation has to happen on their terms then the conversation isn’t open. what is so difficult to understand?

    I understand what you mean. Here’s what I mean: If the conversation has to happen on your terms, the conversation won’t take place. Is that difficult to understand?

    [I’m specifically trying to encourage open conversation and dialogue, to introduce fundies to other people and other ways of thinking.] they are not allowed this pleasure.

    And you are not at all interested in trying to grant them the pleasure either… whereas I am particularly interested in that…

    the problem isn’t with ignorance here

    I disagree. Creationism seminars thrive on ignorance. Though I only disagree with that sentence, I’m in full agreement with the rest of that paragraph of yours. ;)

    [Your “cock-blocking” is effectively pushing *us* out of the conversation.] possibly but you’re enabling fundamentalism to retreat.

    Whereas I believe I’m drawing it out. Or am preparing to draw it out, more specifically. More details below, when I critique my own comment.

    Why lecture theology in a satellite communications theory class for engineering students?

    Agreed, 100%.

    Though, I approach “free speech vs doors of university” slightly differently: whether a university teaches nonsense or solid stuff, results in whether the university is worthy of the name, accreditation, or reputation. Free speech, and free market in particular, means we can’t exactly stop someone from selling snake oil, if he’s smart about how he does it. He’s free to do so, and others are free to be taken in by the scam, if it is done in a smart way. Namely, without false advertising… weasely. The best we can do is to counter with better education, with facts, with empirical evidence. We can’t shut up the snake oil salesmen. We can convict people that get their child killed by relying on homeopathy for eczema treatment to years in prison though. Apparently. (Did you see that one?) It’s a chaotic battle and a long hard struggle, such is life.

    *sigh* Do they have a hell for people who don’t share their opinion?

    No, they don’t send people to hell. They don’t teach children about satan and demons. My favourite pastor replied with “who knows, we have no evidence for or against” when I asked him about the existence of an afterlife the other day. ’cause that isn’t really important, what is important is what it means, what it is about. To SG, anyway, from my experience. Of course, there are fundies there too, but that’s a good place for them to be liberated, if they’re prepared to do the courses presented, for example.

    Say something like ‘humans are animals’ and they are accusing you of name calling and insulting people … blah blah. hell, just look at michaels example of “almost” loosing his job.

    Exactly. Which is why I’m being so hard-line over-sensitive about things. Preparing, practising, for the intended future for this blog…

    the schizophrenic nature of human conciousness has been discussed in very frank terms by philosophers and scientists , why the hell should we not? if your behaviour in context of the world is delusional then i really don’t see the point of censoring that viewpoint so we all can pretend it isn’t because that isn’t the popular opinion.

    Repeating myself yet again: the point I’m aiming for is to engage in conversations that would be shut down by being “too frank and direct and untactful”. A very high-level of insane-tact, yes, I know, but that’s what I’m aiming for, that’s the point.

    yes but this is not appropriate behaving in intellectual pursuits.

    I’m aiming for social pursuits on this blog, rather than intellectual. Naturally I approach the “social problems” in an intellectual fashion, but there’s a very significant difference. (Maybe similar to the difference between an abstract academic theologian and Angus Buchan’s down-to-earth messages people can take home and apply in their lives. Some of those messages and things are really good. I promise! Pity about the trappings though, the “evil” bits that sneak in.

    my personal opinion regarding this bully is bulling because no one is standing up to it. the kids have the power of stopping the bully in his tracks

    So what I perceive, is behaviour by you that would be experienced as bullying by the target audience I’m aiming for, and what I’m doing is I’m trying to stand up to it. Understand my perspective here?

    the result of not dealing with the matter is that the kids walk away bruised and scarred by the bullies action. weaker because of their inaction than because of failed action.

    And I don’t want people to run away from this here thinktoomuch.net school all bruised and scarred by your frankness. Trying to spur them into action against it (your way of talking) isn’t going to work, it will simply escalate. They’ll go away even more bruised.

    Say something like ‘humans are animals’ and they are accusing you of name calling and insulting people

    *Please* read Evolution and Liberal Christianity. It talks about that very thing and raises some very important points. Very. Extremely relevant.

    Re: advertising and propaganda, have you seen “The Century of Self”? A long documentary on the topic, that’s also on my to-watch list. I only started it to see what it’s about, then added it to the must-watch list and moved on… *sigh*.

    [We could argue their parents brainwashed them, with the result that they fare better in a Christian school. Free thinkers brainwash their kids with a “critical thinking” approach.] now that is diluting the concept of brainwashing…

    Indeed. I’m badly using an implied slippery-slope argument here. The main point is probably that I’m not particularly interested in arguing about what is and isn’t brainwashing. All I desire is more tact with how that idea is communicated. My apologies for such high demands, I know it is hard. Might be easier to refrain from tough words (that would be perceived as name calling) than it is to frame the words and thoughts tactfully (to my insane/absurd standards).

    Re: taboo’s, fair enough. But excessive gratuitous swearing (like, two per sentence), you’d agree is counter-productive. Right?

    i guess reality has no place in friendly conversation then

    Tactful reality has every place. Untactful frank reality, … friendly conversations yes, but not the friendly conversations I’m hoping to “try out” at least.

    you’re a little bit slow. if you’re going to do this for dramatic effect then at least stick to a like example.

    ;-) Yea, I was too lazy / too slow to come up with a better example. *sigh*

    if you don’t like the word deluded then suggest another word which will describe the phenomena so closely.

    Subject to the subjective experience of the person called “deluded” or equivalent? Tough. Impossible really. The “truth” you’re trying to communicate is the rough thing, in this case, so what word you use to represent it won’t make a difference. Tact is unavoidable in that instance (if anyone wants to live up to my absurd desires for the conversation.)

    [Especially when you’re negative and you set what seems to be a bad example. “I don’t want to be like gerhard”. Which is why I find it important to be friendly and open. ] you think i’m talking about ‘our behaviour’ in that quote? i’m saying all it takes is one sentence from a ‘fred may’ lead worshiper inspire machine type person to make the community think and do whatever it takes to agree. hell people will disagree but they will discuss it , inspired to resolve their faults in the eyes of god.

    Clearly I wasn’t clear enough on what I meant. The point was that if it is so easy for them to rather mix with their own only, rather than have a discussion with us, we’d need to raise the bar if we wanted to reduce that tendency. In particular, make it unlikely for them to *want* to disagree with us. By saying fewer disagreeable things. Whereas you love saying “disagreeable” things, aka being frank.

    [And you’re probably not interested in “deluded and stupidly irrational” friends.] humans are deluded and driven by stupidly irrational things.. there is no escaping that.

    But, still: you’re probably not interested in building friendships with fundies, right?

    please try more of the others…. you guys are being very defeatist by just appealing for the one.

    Personally, I disagree. I just think a blog like this can’t be too schizophrenic (pop-culture misinterpretation) in its approach. And a person can’t either, it would feel hypocritical. I position myself on one stance, I know there are others, I accept them too. But this blog is a product of my stance and contribution, hence its focus on just one. For now. There are other sites that cater to other stances.

    OK, I think I’ve covered most of what I wanted to say… here’s the very basic and very important thing to understand about my recent long comments:

    I’m not focusing on this conversation right here, with these participants. I’m focusing on future conversations, with people we have yet to meet, and on how they would perceive the dialogue, had they been taking part.

    The very silly thing about that is, of course, that people typically focus their dialogue on their target audience. So it is completely fair and good for people in this conversation right here to target specifically the people taking part, with regards to their word and idea choice. And yet, I’m dragging in this phantom-presence-from-the-future… crazy, huh.

    That’s the problem with public internet discourse vs a more closed conversation — like any conversation taking place in real life, they all have well-defined audiences, even if it is a speech made to a ten thousand people. OK, if the speech is recorded, then it changes the game a bit. Take Hitler’s speeches, they’re effective and well-targeted on his population, the crowd that was following him. Take them outside of that context, play them to someone majoring in politics or sociology, and it looks like a horror. Take Fred May’s sermons, in the context of those he’s talking to, vs the context of… Hitchens. ;) Fred May wouldn’t talk to Hitchens in the same way. Actually, he wouldn’t talk to Hitchens. :-P (jokes.)

    Take Shofar’s Bible School, and its requirement that you be a Christian before you’re allowed to take part in it. You can take the cynic’s perspective on that, of course. Or you can try and understand it from a “fundie’s perspective”: if you’re not in the worldview, the things they teach will be “misunderstood”. They won’t teach in the same manner outside of their target audience.

    So how does one solve this on the internet? Heh, I’m working on that. ;-) In the meantime, I’ve got a particular target audience in mind, and I’m trying to drive the conversational style in that direction. Practise and preparation. Until such time as conversations are more defined in terms of who is taking part (that’s the basic thing I’m working on, aiming to rebalance openness vs a “better defined conversation” – I’ve got my first protoypes all figured out, it’s just a matter of finding enough time to implement it, so that we can empirically test how well it works and what the problems are).

    To bed with me. Next time I comment will be Thursday night *at the earliest*. Play nice! ;-)

  • 54 Bad Ben // Jun 10, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Allright. I know we’ve kind of agreed to lay the enabliing thing to rest, but I feel the need for one last statement; will try and keep it short.
    (*postscript: This comment is Gargantuan. sorry. but I spent a lot of time on it, so please do take the trouble to read!)

    Interesting stuff! I’ve got to say that I prefer thinking “helpful” versus “unhelpful” rather than “guilty” versus “innocent”. We’d have to ask someone with better knowledge of SA apartheid history whether the boycotts were helpful or unhelpful…

    I really like Michaels tone here. Very apparent reservation of judgment. I did have a conversation with my dad (someone who’s opinion I really respect in this regard) about Sanctions and Terrorism and their influence in the end of Apartheid. I think I made a serious error in thinking to umbrella these two terms together. Terrorism is by definition acts of violence, whereas Sanctions are generally non-violent – an act of creative pacifism. I explicitly don’t believe that the acts of terrorism were helpfull in the alleviation of Apartheid – We see many examples of the failure of militant struggle regimes across post-colonial Africa. We also don’t see a lot of terrorism in the times true progress was made in end of apartheid peace talks. And while I agree that the kind of hush hush diplomacy we have seen in Zimbabwe is certainly not more helpfull than militant response, I don’t see this dichotomy as the exclusive either/or stock responses.

    [Nothing draws people together like a common enemy. ]
    ??? didn’t apartheid end because of a ‘common enemy’? what if south africa didn’t have one? that noone self orginized to put at least some pressure on the system. the system’s we’re talking about are self reinforcing there is no direct reasoning with them we need more mirrors , clearer ones.

    Problem with militance is that militant revolutionary movements/countercultures invariably become that which they move against, once they gain a level of dominance. Vengeful liberation leads into cycles of escalating violence, so the “clear-mirror-effect” is increasingly compromised because of emotionally involved distortion. I have to move that while the terrorism compromised their own objection against the regime by yallowing the regime to dismiss/condemn the violent acts; Sanctions were not so easily dealt with/condemned because they were “morally sound”: IE. not fighting fire with fire. Common enemy; Good and neccessary yes. But what kind of Common enemy – clever or brute? My stance. Terrorism – enabling. Sanctions – helpfull.

    So, bringing this back to the case in point: I’d like us to ponder, collectively, what constitutes verbal violence and whether it is congruently unhelpfull in (high fidelity) mirroring.

    The way I see it, Gerhard’s sentiment is against wishy-washy diplomacy, where the terms of negotiation are hegemonic; and Hugo’s sentiment is against the compromise of relation that Gerhard’s sentiment might lead to. The two parties seem to represent a “conservative” doggedness VS a “liberal” PC-ness. I like the idea of postliberals and postconservatives, who end up having more in common with each other than either of the two polar opposites in the liberal/conservative dichotomy. I get the idea that the general stance of this particular community is a championing of liberalism. Whereas I don’t condemn liberalism as a conservative, I don’t feel allegiance to either Liberalism or Conservatism. I think they are flipside-of-the-coin products of enlightenment foundationalism: both are built on the Cartesian premise of a freely thinking individual. I don’t believe ANY individual thinks freely, but all of us grow up in interpretative communities, and therefore the “I doubt therefore I am”-ideology (being yet another interpretative community) is in my opinion fatally flawed. Hugo hinted at this with his diluted brainwashing comment.

    Fundamentalists (correct me if I’m wrong) believe that the text is the ultimate authority on the truth.

    Fundamentalism is an unbrella term. Fundies pride themselves in the idea because it represents to them being judged for the above: biblical fidelity. but what kind of fidelity? I believe the more specific, root-cause, thinking can be attributed to Foundationalism in Charismatic/Conservative circles.

    FOUNDATIONALISM
    In epistemology, the view that some beliefs can justifiably be held directly (e.g., on the basis of sense perception or rational intuition) and not by inference from other justified beliefs.

    Interestingly, Foundationalism is also at work in the problem-fundamentalism we have identified here. The fundie Foundationalist cannot grasp that the text does not exist in an unmediated state, IE. argues that his beliefs of scripture are held DIRECTLY – and not influenced by a whole world of tacit interpretative bias-possibilities. The problem is not that the “fundies” you guys describe are dogged at achieving biblical fidelity; but that they ignore the fact that what they see as unmediated scripture is in fact viewed through a culturally adopted lense.

    Same problem with scientific fundamentalism (of which there is an almost ubiquitous mild-version – but please lets avoid another pointless debate about utilitarianism). Check out Michael Polanyi on wiki…

    OK some comments I wanna respond to:

    [I don’t believe that religious institutions or faith make us hateful.] now how about that, i have a belief that people engaged in such institutions believe that because they are too close to something they really care about and are blinded while basking in the light. sometimes however an outsider has a better view of the overall value to all of us and of the consequences as they are the ones usually effected and ‘freaked out’ because of their unrelenting exposure to it.

    Don/t agree. Centrists are too involved, Outsiders too detached. Fringe figures have the best view.

    @ben :[For instance Gerhard. I honestly believe that he is convinced that religion is detrimental to society. ]
    yes, i do, mostly because they don’t want us to grow beyond it.

    Agreed. Foundationalism leads to Universalist Positivism, which thrives of demonisation of “the other”; and implicitly places the unforgivable sin status on “leaving the fold”.

    (GERHARD) case in point, fred may suddenly having an opinion on south park and everyone else , over night, following.. (baaah) repeat, with bush, repeat with any real threat to his sheep or world view.

    See this is what I struggle with in your comments sometimes, not your brashness (which I actually mind less than Hugo – I for instance really like South Park the movie. Brilliant social commentary). what the hell are you saying here?

    (WERNER?)So those first few months are where you have to bridge the gap between thinking for yourself and getting invested so deep that you overcome the desire to think for yourself, especially since it would ruin all the time you invested.

    Textbook conservatism: Leaders providing ideologies for followers who are too lazy to think for themselves. We see it evrywhere.

    (GERHARD)[Like trying to hook up a friend of mine with a girl named “science”. ] oh my word, they accept science? why do you think so many engineers and the like are shofar members? the problem isn’t with ignorance here. Cults don’t work like that. They exploit the animal side of you (read. human) not the intellectual side! they make you _want_ to dismiss certain things for sake of others. you know for the ’should’…It really scares me when people like micheal marginalise smaller cults into concious oblivion dismissing how many such cults actually exist and what power they hold over him and society

    Gerhard, I fear that you do not display a very nuanced understanding of the word “cult” if you imply that shofar and in fact any other “fundamentalist” church is a cult. Sect, yes. show me a denomination that is effectively non-sectarian, and you can marry my sister. But the understanding of the the complexity of the “science acceptance” in this comment is great…

    [And you’re probably not interested in “deluded and stupidly irrational” friends.] humans are deluded and driven by stupidly irrational things.. there is no escaping that.

    Very mature observation. How do you apply it?

  • 55 Bad Ben // Jun 10, 2009 at 5:24 am

    sleeptime.

  • 56 Kenneth Oberlander // Jun 10, 2009 at 9:11 am

    My favourite pastor replied with “who knows, we have no evidence for or against” when I asked him about the existence of an afterlife the other day.

    !!!!!

    A beautifully agnostic statement, but from an evidentiary viewpoint, of course, not really true…

    @Bad Ben/gerhard:

    humans are deluded and driven by stupidly irrational things.. there is no escaping that.

    While I agree with the first part of this, I find the 2nd part ambiguous. Gerhard, what do you mean when you say “there is no escaping that”. Do you mean: “humans are deluded is a fact”? Or do you mean: “humans can’t escape being deluded’? I think you mean option A, but want to confirm.

    Bad Ben, I’m also uncertain what you mean in your reply. Are you agreeing (shock/horror) with gerhard, or are you applying a little of the sarcasm scalpel? ;-)

  • 57 Michael // Jun 10, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    @ Everyone:

    Read this comment from Bad Ben (in case you missed it). I believe it solves a lot of this conversation’s communication problems.

    [So, bringing this back to the case in point: I’d like us to ponder, collectively, what constitutes verbal violence and whether it is congruently unhelpfull in (high fidelity) mirroring.

    The way I see it, Gerhard’s sentiment is against wishy-washy diplomacy, where the terms of negotiation are hegemonic; and Hugo’s sentiment is against the compromise of relation that Gerhard’s sentiment might lead to. The two parties seem to represent a “conservative” doggedness VS a “liberal” PC-ness. I like the idea of postliberals and postconservatives, who end up having more in common with each other than either of the two polar opposites in the liberal/conservative dichotomy. I get the idea that the general stance of this particular community is a championing of liberalism. Whereas I don’t condemn liberalism as a conservative, I don’t feel allegiance to either Liberalism or Conservatism. I think they are flipside-of-the-coin products of enlightenment foundationalism: both are built on the Cartesian premise of a freely thinking individual. I don’t believe ANY individual thinks freely, but all of us grow up in interpretative communities, and therefore the “I doubt therefore I am”-ideology (being yet another interpretative community) is in my opinion fatally flawed. Hugo hinted at this with his diluted brainwashing comment.]

    @ Gerhard

    [yes, that sounds like you’re understanding… i’m just worried about the very specific ‘the church’ because i’m not sure i know what you mean.]

    See my earlier comment when I said that the only thing that unites Christians is that they believe they need a savior – Christ. This is what I mean by “the Church”.

    [yes! they are taking over! they are making _you_ look bad. ]

    I don’t care about that. Ultimately they are like family to me. I’m more interested in their wellbeing and the wellbeing of those they might influence than how you view the Church.

    [how old are you? because to me you sound like late 20s earlyish 30s? am i correct? If i am correct and you’re not young which means your fundamentalism is well in your past. If so then i doubt there were _any_ secular sources such as dawkins informing your opinions as this breed of questioning is new and i don’t know if you’re a bertrand russel kind of guy. ironic that those liberals would possibly be considered conservative by today’s standard. aside form that you are actually illustrating my point about ‘too far gone’ you got ejected out of the system by spiritual guidance from within the system which made you re-evaluate it ? ‘was a loving teacher who explained the meaning of the Scriptures more fully to me’ that sounds to me like you are talking about a non liberal. ]

    Correct! I’m in my late twenties. I read a lot of philosophy while I was growing up (in my late teens and early twenties). I was never “ejected” from fundamentalism, I ejected it from my worldview. I have no idea whether he would class himself non-liberal. Probably more “post-fundie”.

    [yes, but please try more of the others…. you guys are being very defeatist by just appealing for the one. ]

    Agreed. Although I must insist with Hugo that name calling and outright aggression, while it might be perfectly ligitimate as an expression of sentiment, is not an effective means of reaching people. The approaches I see as possible are roughly grouped as: “less conservative approaches to Scripture”, “More effective education in science and philosophy”, and “more accountability for sects of the Church that do things that are potentially harmful to society”. Could you agree with that?

    [do you for instance agree with hugo when he says [By discussing text and interpretation, you can learn a great wealth of things. Careful, thoughtful talk of the contradictions, and of the origins in how things come about, leading into “higher criticism” with regards to texts held sacred, is the most powerful way to move forward. In my opinion]. Would you have learnt from one of them “liberals”? you described yourself as in ‘mild’ fundamentalism. Do you think the same thinking applies for a less mild one?]

    Yes, I agree with Hugo. I also agree that this is not the only option of approach (as previously pointed out). This is not the only non-enabling approach. I did learn from (what you would probably call) one of “them liberals” – many in fact. I think you may be correct about less mild forms. When the fundamentalism approaches the level of cult brainwashing (and not all fundamentalism does – I assure you :) ), then they would probably not be reached by fundamentalism.

    For interest’s sake, how old are you (roughly)?

    @ Bad Ben

    Absolutely true about foundationalism. Although… when I studied theology at a very conservative college, we were not taught that the Bible is the foundation of belief “just because”. We were taught to look at the evidence for the inspiration of the Scripture (etc). Possibly the average fundie doesn’t ever think about these things though (as you say). Still, I believe that (for “educated fundies”) the bigger problem is not the foundationalist approach to scripture, but the misinterpretation of Scripture as a whole. This may simply be a reflection of my personal experience though. I had to see (really see) Christ’s approach to the law (scripture). A good friend of mine summed it up nicely for me: “We study the Scriptures, but we follow Christ. We are not a ‘people of the book’!”.

    @ Hugo

    [Of course there’s selection bias at play here. Meet de-converts at richarddawkins.net instead, then I’d be surprised if you don’t find more people that took the hard-science “harsh-rationalism” path out. But, with “the circles I find myself in” as the subset we’re talking about, the “liberal-theology” path is definitely the more common one. ]

    Absolutely true. Although I wouldn’t exactly call my path “liberal-theology”. (Maybe that’s just personal taboos from years of brainwashing (as Gerhard said) ;) ).

  • 58 Bad Ben // Jun 10, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Michael

    Shot for the positive feedback. Interesting point. Will think about it and reply in due time. Soon…

  • 59 Bad Ben // Jun 10, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    …But the foundationlism I’m referring to is applied to the Bible itself, but to the tools we use in interpretation. It is assumed that a universal logic and “proof” justifies the biblical message, even though it was written 1800 years before the development of the structures of reason we use today – hence the rift between conservatives and the science community. Ugh. Hope you can unpack that statement yourself…

  • 60 Bad Ben // Jun 11, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Michael. To explain better what I am trying to get at:

    Postmodernism

    A Modernism which has become aware of being modernist and what that means.

    In light of this essentialised definition, postconservative and postliberal basically only means to become aware of the axioms which lie at it’s center- paradigms/metanarratives, call them what you will. The pre-fix post, in these definitions explicitly not mean moving beyond, dispelling the old; but of a self critical attitude, a willingness to inspect ones blindspots in a personal and cultural sense.

    So I guess if your conservative institution is willing to incestigate its own culture of theolgy, and admit that its interpretations, however universally right they seem, may be influenced by their theological culture, I dont see a problem. However conservative culture is often more geared toward, well self conservation. :) I often feel when for instance Creationists “fight for biblical integrity” they are fighting only for their own interpretation.

    Are we on the same page?

  • 61 gerhard // Jun 11, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    [The way I see it, Gerhard’s sentiment is against wishy-washy diplomacy, where the terms of negotiation are hegemonic; and Hugo’s sentiment is against the compromise of relation that Gerhard’s sentiment might lead to.] exactly, the compromise is one sided atm. they set the terms instead of ‘we’.

    [ like the idea of postliberals and postconservatives, who end up having more in common with each other than either of the two polar opposites in the liberal/conservative dichotomy.] It cracks me up that today, south park is considered ‘conservative’ and ‘simpson’ is liberal :P wtf? I think it is a sign things may be change, i think tho that the lines have never really been _that_ fixed.

    [ I don’t believe ANY individual thinks freely, but all of us grow up in interpretative communities,] yeah, how much behaviour is apparently directly passed down according to pinker and co?something like 75%, so that’s your ancestors speaking through you in a very real way. I see the rest as a mix of interpretation of experience through that biology and current momentary community think, which community , that is up to you. one massively beautiful dynamic system working through the ages generating subjective experiences.

    [Don/t agree. Centrists are too involved, Outsiders too detached. Fringe figures have the best view.]
    i call godwin’s law. I raise you by gerhard’s law which is “As a south african discussions grows longer , the probability of comparison involving apartheid and or black and white people back then approaches.”
    centrists become the apologists, the fringe figures get embarrassed at their inaction and fake having taking a stance and the outsiders don’t forget as they were in the thick of it. yes the outsider isn’t going to be able to give consideration to the subtleties but, normally, the outsider is saturated whether or not he wants to. i’m sure the ousider may not have the solution but at the very least the ousider can recognize what solution don’t work.

    [See this is what I struggle with in your comments sometimes, not your brashness (which I actually mind less than Hugo – I for instance really like South Park the movie. Brilliant social commentary). what the hell are you saying here?] (did you see the soldiers made sadaam watch the movie before he was hanged? kind of made the movie now dirty for me. )
    i was complaining about the undue influence someone like he has, and how such things are built into the system(re-enforcing it), except fundies are better at this game. far more absolute. (i commented in a earlier post about my friends experience with those topics, south park , bush and how this best friends went from life long fans to hating and despising to unquestionably loving respectively, literally over night? with prases like ‘no i was never a fan persay , i just understand the scriptures better now and understand southparks’s evil better now'(everyone give me one big WTF?!)

    [Gerhard, I fear that you do not display a very nuanced understanding of the word “cult” if you imply that shofar and in fact any other “fundamentalist” church is a cult. Sect, yes.]
    this is a good discussion to have. do i need to stick to Christian definitions and meanings of those words? from my perspective you’re raping the word sect and undermining the word cult. in fact i was censoring myself there because of hugo, i see these guys more like a death cult which i fear hugo would not understand the use of which and accuse me of bigotry. (destructive to their members and outside world) now, getting back to the point, i see most religions as cults and sectarianism more of a cultural thing.

    [ show me a denomination that is effectively non-sectarian, and you can marry my sister. ]
    ha! good man.

    [how do you apply it.] ??

    @ ken : humans live in incomplete and delusional world models and you can’t escape from that. show me a human that isn’t delusional and I’ll show you someone who is .

    @micheal:
    [Christians is that they believe they need a savior – Christ. This is what I mean by “the Church”.]
    ok. you selective universalist :)

    [Could you agree with that?] I do, and we’ve all agreed for a long time on that :) the problem is , it _CLEARLY_ isn’t working out in an acceptable manner, we’ve been doing it for so long and the problems, they get worse. Those are solutions for and old age but we’re living in a new one for which these ones are too blunt.

    [For interest’s sake, how old are you (roughly)?] that entirely depends. i’m probably hundreds of years in dog years.

  • 62 Kenneth Oberlander // Jun 11, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    @gerhard

    humans live in incomplete and delusional world models and you can’t escape from that. show me a human that isn’t delusional and I’ll show you someone who is .

    I wasn’t disagreeing with you, just trying to make the statement less ambiguous in my eyes. The statement could be read in two ways, one of which I agree with wholeheartedly, the other with reservation.

    Also, whilst what you say is strictly true, I would argue that our delusions are becoming less “delusional”, in the sense that the delusions we maintain are the ones that are in accordance with reality, and accord more and more with reality as we keep testing them. While you could argue this relationship between delusion and reality is asymptotic (I certainly would), the attitude of “you can’t escape from that” is a bit fatalistic for my taste. After all, we won’t know unless we try!

    i’m probably hundreds of years in dog years

    Wait until you try generation times for your stomach bacteria…that should keep them guessing…

  • 63 Bad Ben // Jun 11, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Gerhard.

    Your definition of the word cult seems value laden, too personally involved and, well, unscientific.

    All of the sociology I have encountered on the subject define a cult as making a radical break (renouncing) all tradition. I understand your sentiment, but you can’t call an apple a pear just because you dont care if it’s there…

  • 64 Michael // Jun 11, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    @ Gerhard:

    [Those are solutions for and old age but we’re living in a new one for which these ones are too blunt.]

    Ok. Do you have any concrete alternative approaches that will work for someone like me – an ex-fundie still very involved in the Church, and very dedicated to Christ’s way. How should I approach fundamentalist views?

    @ Everyone:

    Please feel free to comment on the above question.

  • 65 Michael // Jun 11, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    @ Bad Ben:

    [However conservative culture is often more geared toward, well self conservation. I often feel when for instance Creationists “fight for biblical integrity” they are fighting only for their own interpretation.

    Are we on the same page?]

    Yes. We are on the same page :).

    I’m about to do my honours thesis now at a cross-denominational seminary. As an evangelical, I probably have some blindspots regarding the seminary’s theological biases, but I think it’s the kind of institution you mean when you say [I guess if your conservative institution is willing to incestigate its own culture of theolgy, and admit that its interpretations, however universally right they seem, may be influenced by their theological culture, I dont see a problem]. For instance, at the seminary I was studying at previously, I often felt pressure to give the ‘party-line’ expected answers. At this new seminary I am required to read a wide veriety of theological views. I am encouraged to critique my lecturers’ writing and to ask relevant questions. This seminary is very interested in “biblical integrity” but means by this “respect for the value of the contents” rather than “agreement with denominational interpretation”.

  • 66 Hugo // Jun 11, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Please feel free to comment on the above question.

    Here’s a comment: lovely question! I love the potential that this conversation has, and the directions it could go. I’m holding thumbs (figuratively speaking :-P ) that the potential I see gets realised.

  • 67 gerhard // Jun 13, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    @ken:
    great comment :)

    [Also, whilst what you say is strictly true, I would argue that our delusions are becoming less “delusional”, in the sense that the delusions we maintain are the ones that are in accordance with reality, and accord more and more with reality as we keep testing them. While you could argue this relationship between delusion and reality is asymptotic (I certainly would), the attitude of “you can’t escape from that” is a bit fatalistic for my taste. After all, we won’t know unless we try!]
    I agree in the greater scheme of things you’re perfectly right , eventually we’ll become less delusional and possibly escape it (should we ? hugo would say we shouldnt, or at least make it an requirement), but right now, with all these leaps of faith and assumptions one has to make to ‘allow’ for hyphothesis to work makes and with the sheer diverity of delusion it is pointless to assume otherwise. (think about it this way , the person you’re talking to next probably lives in a delusion so removed from yours that you’d call it a miracle you can communicate at all.)

    [Wait until you try generation times for your stomach bacteria…that should keep them guessing…] hahaha

    @bad ben:
    [Your definition of the word cult seems value laden, too personally involved and, well, unscientific.

    All of the sociology I have encountered on the subject define a cult as making a radical break (renouncing) all tradition]
    i think you’re selling me a bit short here. the sociological definition is not the only scientific definition. definitions of cult that are far more broader that what you’re allowing for.

    @michael:
    [Ok. Do you have any concrete alternative approaches that will work for someone like me – an ex-fundie still very involved in the Church, and very dedicated to Christ’s way. ] you’re going to hate my answer because my approach requires more work. I don’t think you personally can do much as a singular effort, so first off , one needs to organise. organise a greater interaction, not fighting , but expose yourself a _alot_ more to the diversity of your brothers. The trick is not to blindly accept every behaviour but to question and to document without whitewashing. Highlight questionable and evil behaviour. Complain a little, you don’t need to make complaints personal , just highlight why something is wrong and actively fight it. if it is wrong then you are commiting no wrong by fighting it, all you’re doing is your duty to yourselfs and us all. don’t except age old dogmatic apologetics actually look at the actions and likely consequences. reevaluate.
    by all means set societies standard but above all don’t lay claim to things in society that are not yours, like marriage , sexuality or other peoples and their daily lives. these things are shared and should remain so.

  • 68 Hugo // Jun 13, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Two quick interjections from me:

    eventually we’ll become less delusional and possibly escape it (should we ? hugo would say we shouldnt, or at least make it an requirement)

    Citation please.

    the person you’re talking to next probably lives in a delusion so removed from yours that you’d call it a miracle you can communicate at all

    Hyperbole.

    That’s all from me for now. Please continue the discussion. ;-)

  • 69 gerhard // Jun 13, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    @ hugo , you complain when i say things like one should escape the delusion. hell even pointing to that delusion is a sin.

    [Hyperbole.] ? we live in a multicultural society , we’re dealing with vastly different out looks on life and the structure of reality itself. what the theory predicts is that we can expect total breakof communication all over the place which happens all the time and which is what we were talking about in the first place , we were talking about such conflicts that arrise from it. conflicting realities that both stake claim as true reality will always be in conflict because of such variation between them.
    this kind of conflict is very deep indeed, it’s for instance not restricted to higher level thoughts but to the language and words themselfs. the meaning of a simple word can be so different between cultural subgroups (what you coined ‘meanings of labels’ i think) and then that meaning is divided by your personal interpretation from experiance that it’s all increadibly unlikely that when you talk to someone both of you will walk away with the same meaning or even context. that we achive anything as a group is a incredible. communication is far far less directly understood and far more diluted between induviduals than you’d think.

  • 70 Bad Ben // Jun 13, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Gerhard.

    I checked out definitions for the term “cult” and still the most scientific definition is the most neutral definition: the sociological term denoting a new religious movement. What other fields of science (beside anthropology) would be as interested in religious definition than sociology? Fair enough; there is a popular tendency to refer to anything extremely religious as a cult- but how do you justify this as a scientific viewpoint? Has secular and scientific become synonomous? I always thought science aimed to use as neutrally descriptive language as possible? With all due respect; you haven’t given any rebuttal to the statement that your usage of the word “cult” is value laden and personally involved, and therefore unscientific. I do not mean to insult you. I am genuinely curious. What are these “other scientific definitions”?

  • 71 Hugo // Jun 14, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    gerhard,

    @ hugo , you complain when i say things like one should escape the delusion. hell even pointing to that delusion is a sin.

    Do you still not understand what I’m complaining about? Are you still unable to distinguish between my perspectives and the straw-man you paint?

    I suppose this is another piece of evidence for the miracle it is when people actually understand one another. Nevertheless, I object to your delusions in calling it a miracle… when people understand one another, it is a very natural thing, a skill that evolved in order to facilitate cooperation between individuals.

    *grin*

    Sometimes hyperbole is a wonderful poetic device to communicate an idea, sometimes it is completely *correct* to use hyperbole. But it still remains hyperbole.

    In any case, I’m giving up on waiting for the miracle of you actually understanding me.

  • 72 gerhard // Jun 15, 2009 at 3:11 am

    bad ben :
    the sociological definitions commonly refers to the church-sect typology , which is used in describe frameworks , social group behaviors and states of mind that transcend religion. if you check out the wiki ( you made me look at it), the Psychological definition is probably the closest to the one i was arguing for.

    i’d actually like to comment on the wiki’s psy definition .. ..

    Studies of the psychological aspects of cults focus on the individual person, and factors relating to the choice to become involved as well as the subsequent effects on individuals. Under one view, an important factor is coercive persuasion which suppresses the ability of people to reason, think critically, and make choices in their own best interest.

    Studies of religious, political, and other cults have identified a number of key steps in this type of coercive persuasion:[26][27]

    1. People are put in physically or emotionally distressing situations;
    2. Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized;
    3. They receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from a charismatic leader;
    4. They get a new identity based on the group;
    5. They are subject to entrapment (isolation from friends, relatives, and the mainstream culture) and their access to information is severely controlled.[28]

    ok the list 1-5 vs a not so moderate fundamentalism like shofar (part personal experience , part public behaviour)
    if you want i can compile a similar one for catholicism..

    1) policies on sex , life eduction et.c hold on followers via threat of not being a follower, what that means you mean and what that means to other people.
    2)… jesus … jesus saves… jesus is love… god is love… thank jesus.. thank god..
    3) … jesus … jesus .. jesus.. the church … jesus .. the church .. god.(if cults can be political the they can be based around personality , action figures or organized causes )
    4)… burn things for a symbolic rebirth? you, your identity is reborn or renewed?
    5) ..ok, there are so many points that i have already raised in this and previous posts on this subject that

    i think the important thing is with the word cult is the implied ‘hurting’ of the individuals involved and the outside world.

  • 73 Kenneth Oberlander // Jun 15, 2009 at 10:11 am

    @gerhard:

    think about it this way , the person you’re talking to next probably lives in a delusion so removed from yours that you’d call it a miracle you can communicate at all.

    A miracle? I think not… ;-)

  • 74 Bad Ben // Jun 16, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Gerhard.

    Ok. I admit that I sold you short, and hastily so. Sorry about that.

    While i have to acknowledge the psychologically based definition, I want to reiterate that I find the neutrally connotative sociological definition more helpfull than the overtly subjective psychological interpretative definition in conversations such as these. Value-laden terminology does not encourage critical learning, but enforces popular axiom. Disagree?

  • 75 gerhard // Jun 17, 2009 at 1:50 am

    @ bad ben :
    but i argue the same thing,careless use of the sociological definition enforces a popular axiom, church-sect typology. the use makes it appear like the phenomenon is predominantly associated with, well, religion, which isn’t what behavior the words describe.

  • 76 gerhard // Jun 19, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16JutKkzXLU&feature=fvst :)

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