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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: When you're hanging on by your fingernails....
Laura
General nuisance
# 10

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Is anyone else tired of Socratic-Enigma's straw men? I'm not a Christian because it's a panacea -- it's a terrible panacea. Like true love, it tears things apart in the process of rebuilding them. I'm not a Christian because it makes my life easier, it doesn't. I don't believe Heaven is promised, so that's not it. I don't think God fixes things for people who believe in him here on Earth, so it's not for any earthly benefit. It's not to give meaning in a crushing void of empty universe, because I think that life has meaning even if there's no God.

--------------------
Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. - Erich Fromm

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Bullfrog.

Prophetic Amphibian
# 11014

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And by the original story, the "goats" are described as people who didn't take care of the poor among them. They looked at themselves and went "Gee, we're ok. Nothing to worry about here. Screw the poor. We can take our lives and our salvations for granted."

And I'll admit that I'm reading the whole sheep/goat thing through a 21st century lens, not a first one. I think mountainsnowtiger made a pretty good point.

Have you ever tried to herd goats?

--------------------
Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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Bullfrog.

Prophetic Amphibian
# 11014

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quote:
Originally Posted by Laura:
Is anyone else tired of Socratic-Enigma's straw men?

Honestly? He's not the only one who uses them. Most atheists, IME, think that the faceless 1984-esque atrocity what he describes is Christianity. It's kind of sad, and goes back to by complaint about the church in general. What the fuck did we do cause this?

--------------------
Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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Josephine

Orthodox Belle
# 3899

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quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
Apparently goats are able to live in a herd whils't maintaining some independence of spirit (I can't say I know a lot about goats...or sheep come to that).



No kidding. It seems like everything you ever knew about sheep and goats you got from watching Saturday morning cartoons.

In real life, the biggest difference between goats and sheep is that goats stink. That's it. Honestly.

I've never noticed real goats to be more independent minded than real sheep, in spite of what you see in cartoons. In fact, it's easier to lead a goat around than a sheep. All you have to do is let the goat think you have something that it wants. It will follow you anywhere.

Sheep, on the other hand (at least the ones I know), will follow you only if they know you and trust you. And it's harder to earn a sheep's trust than it is to convince a goat that you have something that it wants.

--------------------
I've written a book! Catherine's Pascha: A celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church. It's a lovely book for children. Take a look!

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TubaMirum
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# 8282

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quote:
Originally posted by mirrizin:
What the fuck did we do cause this?

Well, I think the church really did get into the platitudinous crap business - probably because of its intertwining with the culture.

And of course, for the past 100 years or, religion has in large part just become downright silly with its weird regressiveness. Lots of people can't stand it - they're very nervous about it, understandably - because of certain Recent Events and Political Movements and Raving Lunatics.

Christianity at this point needs a good scrubdown to get rid of all the layers of plat. crap, IMO. And it needs to let go of the reins of political power as well....

[ 27. June 2007, 20:08: Message edited by: TubaMirum ]

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Socratic-enigma
Shipmate
# 12074

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So, if you can't counter the argument, you fall back on the old chesnut of bemoaning 'ignorant atheists' etc...

Josephine,

As I pointed out in an earlier post, sheep don't make bandages etc.. The only purpose of the analogy seems to be that they follow blindly and unquestioningly.

The others appear to have given up trying to answer that (by 'straw men', I presume they mean, quoting the bible).

If that is not the authors's intent, then it is a bad analogy.

S-E

--------------------
"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

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Zoey

Broken idealist
# 11152

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S-E,

If I talk about dogs, what d'you think of? Man's best friend? Cute puppy dogs on greetings cards? Loyal pooch who'll be your life-long friend? Yet in Old Testament times, dogs were considered dirty animals, with which one should have as little contact as possible.

Perceptions of the world and connotations of words change over time.

In both 1st century Palestine and parts of the modern world, a flock of sheep may be cared for by a shepherd - who looks after them, knows each one well, etc. Christ as a shepherd is an extremely important metaphor in the Gospels for those reasons - he looks after his flock, cares about them, knows each one, etc. I cannot think of any clear evidence which demonstrates that Gospel comparisons of Christians to sheep mean that Christians should be 'sheep-like' in the modern Western sense of that phrase. If you wish to argue that this is the case, you need either to point to a Bible verse which you think demonstrates this point*, or to provide other evidence (such as other literature from the time) suggesting that a typical 1st century Palestinian would understand 'sheep-like' to mean roughly what we in the 21st century understand it to mean (docile, unthinking, following a crowd without good reason, etc).

(*nb - you must not use the circular reasoning - currently, your argument seems to be along the lines of, "I think Christians are sheep-like (21st century connotations); in this Bible verse Christians are described as sheep; therefore Christians are sheep-like (21st century connotations)," - as an argument this really doesn't cut it.)

--------------------
Pay no mind, I'm doing fine, I'm breathing on my own.

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Socratic-enigma
Shipmate
# 12074

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Just for the record,

I spent most of my school holidays on my Uncle's sheep farm and regularly helped out on a girlfriend's parents goat farm.

But I don't claim to be an expert.

S-E

[ 27. June 2007, 20:17: Message edited by: Socratic-enigma ]

--------------------
"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

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Zoey

Broken idealist
# 11152

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quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
As I pointed out in an earlier post, sheep don't make bandages etc.. The only purpose of the analogy seems to be that they follow blindly and unquestioningly.

The others appear to have given up trying to answer that (by 'straw men', I presume they mean, quoting the bible).

If that is not the authors's intent, then it is a bad analogy.

S-E

Or it is an analogy written at a different time in a different culture.

Where is the evidence in the story itself that sheep are being used to represent people who follow blindly and unquestioningly? This seems to me to be a 21st century English-speaking interpretation which you are forcing onto a 1st century text from the Middle East.

--------------------
Pay no mind, I'm doing fine, I'm breathing on my own.

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Soror Magna
Shipmate
# 9881

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quote:
Originally posted by Laura:
Is anyone else tired of Socratic-Enigma's straw men?

I've been quietly screaming, "METAPHOR! THEY'RE USING METAPHOR!" -- like Captain Picard in the Darmok episode of ST:TNG.

S-E, please re-read the last paragraph of this post by Josephine. The sheep has to want to follow. OliviaG

--------------------
"You come with me to room 1013 over at the hospital, I'll show you America. Terminal, crazy and mean." -- Tony Kushner, "Angels in America"

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Socratic-enigma
Shipmate
# 12074

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MST,

Please, don't misrepresent me.

I have never described Christians as sheeplike.

We have been discussing a bible analogy.

If you have inferred that, you are wrong.

S-E

[ 27. June 2007, 20:23: Message edited by: Socratic-enigma ]

--------------------
"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

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Zoey

Broken idealist
# 11152

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Apologies for any misrepresentation on my part.

So, taking into account your most recent post, your argument seems to be:

'This is what I think sheep are like (modern connotations - they follow blindly and unthinkingly). This Bible passage talks about some people being sheep. That means those people are like my impression of sheep (modern connotations - they follow blindly and unthinkingly).'

Where is your evidence that the 1st century Middle Eastern author and their original readers (/the person who told the story orally and their original hearers) shared your modern perceptions of what sheep are like?

--------------------
Pay no mind, I'm doing fine, I'm breathing on my own.

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Socratic-enigma
Shipmate
# 12074

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MST

Thanks for the apology, and I appreciate the question but... I'm now late for work so if you can be patient.

OliviaG,

I've found a handfull of straw makes trust irrelevant.

[Biased]

S-E

--------------------
"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

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Fauja

Lesser known misfit
# 2054

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quote:
Originally posted by mountainsnowtiger:
modern connotations - they follow blindly and unthinkingly

Well, this might be a false connotation but it is nevertheless something that sheep could be accused of. What can sheep see that goats can't? To what extent does a sheep need to think things through if it has a shepherd that can be trusted?
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Bullfrog.

Prophetic Amphibian
# 11014

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To Whom it May Concern, I just started a Kerygmania thread on the subject of metaphors that go baa.

--------------------
Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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quote:
Originally posted by Hooker's Trick:
quote:
Originally posted by Josephine:
Christians aren't any better than anyone else. We should be. We could be. But we aren't.

Why should Christians be any better than anyone else?
Because you supposedly have the Holy Spirit to "sanctify" you, unlike the rest of us.

--------------------
Infinite Penguins.
My "Readit, Swapit" page
My "LibraryThing" page

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Laura
General nuisance
# 10

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Sanctification isn't like deodorant, Papio. It can't make you a better person all by itself. Alas, as in the old joke, the lightbulb has to want to be changed.

S-E: When I say straw-men, I mean your little digs about "why not just be satisfied with what there apparently is" and "but isn't it more exciting in a way to think just Bach wrote those things"? Sure, whatever -- you're implying that a Christian believes in God because he isn't satisfied that the world is WYSIWYG. I'm okay with that possibility, just as I am with the possibility that Bach is just a really talented guy. Indeed, I don't think positing a creator God takes anything away from Bach or the sunset. I like these things either way.

I think you think you're asking intelligent "leading questions", but they don't go anywhere, because you don't really understand the real Why of faith, at least as an intelligent Christian sees it. It hasn't got anything to do with rewards on earth or heaven forever. It has to do with a way of life that, however ludicrous you may find it, we believe is worth following. And also that following that path does not require one give up one's brain or one's sense of natural wonder.

I concede freely that, if you accept the materialist philosophical assertion that all that is Real is what can be seen and empirically tested, the whole God thing falls apart. But I see no reason to accept the materialist philosophy any more than the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It is equally a philosophical and essentially solipsistic construct.

So there. [Razz]

--------------------
Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. - Erich Fromm

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Laura
General nuisance
# 10

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Re: sheep and goats. There are things even sheep won't eat.

--------------------
Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. - Erich Fromm

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Bullfrog.

Prophetic Amphibian
# 11014

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quote:
Originally Posted by Laura:
Re: sheep and goats. There are things even sheep won't eat.

Like cigarettes?

--------------------
Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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Socratic-enigma
Shipmate
# 12074

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quote:
Originally posted by mirrizin:
quote:
Originally Posted by Laura:
Re: sheep and goats. There are things even sheep won't eat.

Like cigarettes?
Actually, I think Laura may have been referring to baloney

But I must say that I enjoyed your previous post Laura. It was a measured and intelligent response and almost complimentary to my contributions (OK, that's stretching it!).

quote:
I think you think you're asking intelligent "leading questions", but they don't go anywhere, because you don't really understand the real Why of faith, at least as an intelligent Christian sees it. It hasn't got anything to do with rewards on earth or heaven forever. It has to do with a way of life that, however ludicrous you may find it, we believe is worth following.
Dear,
(I trust you won't mind the appellation) [Biased]

You forget that I am a mere male; to suggest that you think that I think, that I think... in increasing orders of magnitude - I have sufficient difficulty in harnessing one thought at a time - I am flattered, but you grant me a far greater cognitive ability than I actually possess.

Can I just say that I have never maligned any Christian's way of life; it is their beliefs I have difficulty in understanding - but as for the people themselves; I have great respect for most of the Christians I know (and those with whom I interact here) and the way they deport themselves in their daily lives.

But I am intrigued as to what the real Why of faith is. Not fear; or habit; or comfort; or a ready answer to every question; or something to fill the void?

Please, enlighten me.

S-E

PS You must excuse my ignorance of acronyms but in answer to your question: "WHY SWIG?", I think it's because it's the best way to drink beer.

PPS

mirrizin,

I appreciate the invitation (as one of the concernees?) but really my initial post was only made to come to the defence of the poor, humble (and much maligned) goat.

S-E

--------------------
"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

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Bullfrog.

Prophetic Amphibian
# 11014

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The cigarettes thing was after a chat I had with someone else IRL. Her friend works at a meat processing plant.

Apparently goats love cigarettes. It's how they lead them to slaughter. You give the goat a cigarette, show him another one, and he'll follow you to the arctic and beyond for a nibble.

Sheep, on the other hand, can't be made to eat the things. They only eat grass. They're extremely finicky eaters, in fact, as they're extremely finicky in general; they won't lie down until their circumstances are absolutely calm. They won't drink from water until it's perfectly still. They aren't happy until it's done right. It puts a certain psalm in an entirely new light when you realize this.

So sheep do possess a certain common sense. They're not really that bright, but come to think of it, neither are goats. The two species seem to be on relatively equal footing on the IQ scale. Also, when called, the sheep come. Goats are harder to deal with in general, because they form cliques and packs and tribes within themselves, hierarchies, etc. It's as if they think they're special or something...

I think the comparison made (and also, by various reasons, in the middle east sheep and goats were pretty close to identical) is that goats are stupid and selfish whereas sheep are just plain stupid. As much as it grates on individualism, there's something to be said for being a good little social animal instead of a stubborn reprobate (though I'll admit that some of my nearest and dearest are stubborn reprobates).

Eh, I'm just trying to defend the lowly and under-appreciated sheep. As a defender of goats, I'm sure you understand the need to stand up for poor overused allegories.

--------------------
Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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Laura
General nuisance
# 10

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Back to S-E's serious question later, since we're on the subject of goats. Goats may be smarter or dumber than sheep but it's hard to tell because they're so stubborn. It's like the cats/dogs thing. I read a scientist writing about the intelligence issue vis-a-vis dogs and cats and said basically, we'll never really know how smart cats are because it's hard to construct a lab test that cats are sufficiently motivated to take. One day, they might be tempted by tuna, but usually not. They don't want to run your damned maze. Go get a dog if you want that. [Big Grin] That's what goats are like. Though I didn't know they liked cigarettes.

eta: to S-E: nobody but my mother (and my husband when being ironic) calls me "dear". [Disappointed] Try something else if you want further reflections on the Why of faith. Like "ma'am". Or just "Laura".

[ 28. June 2007, 18:22: Message edited by: Laura ]

--------------------
Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. - Erich Fromm

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TubaMirum
Shipmate
# 8282

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Actually, that's a good point. Why do people sneer at sheep, and at the same time adore dogs? Dogs are pack animals, too, and go wherever their owners go; they can't stand to be left alone for even a minute. My stupid mutt - I adore him - is always underfoot, terrified I'm going to leave him forever, I guess.

Why are sheep so terrible and dogs so great? 'Cause dogs can give the paw for a Snausage?

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Gwai
Shipmate
# 11076

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Well dogs certanly are smarter. You'd never see a dog starve to death while there was food in the next field!

--------------------
A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.


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TubaMirum
Shipmate
# 8282

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quote:
Originally posted by Gwai:
Well dogs certanly are smarter. You'd never see a dog starve to death while there was food in the next field!

So it's not actually the following thing; it's the stupid thing. It's intelligism.

(BTW, a friend told me he loved dogs and hated cats for an interesting reason: that if you died and fell down at home, your dog would lie there beside you and starve to death out of loyalty - while your cat would, well, you know....)

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Hooker's Trick

Admin Emeritus and Guardian of the Gin
# 89

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quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
[Because you supposedly have the Holy Spirit to "sanctify" you, unlike the rest of us.

It doesn't follow that that makes Christians better. Christianity is about salvation. Salvation doesn't necessarily make on morally, ethically or even aesthetically better. And one find perfectly good (one might say superior) moral, ethical or aesthetic systems to follow to make one "better", but presumably the Christian is a Christian in order to be saved. Morality, ethics and Beauty/Goodness may be (should be) by-products of this but not necessarily so.

And if one is a Christian for some other reason that one connected to salvation, I would submit one is essentially a Christian because one enjoys a good Stanford canticle at Choral Evensong.

(which is, incidentally, my answer to the OP: Choral Evensong. Even if it's all made up and I rot in the ground for all eternity, at least I had Choral Evensong. And I generally leave Choral Evensong pretty sure it's not all made up).

Posts: 6735 | From: Gin Lane | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Socratic-enigma
Shipmate
# 12074

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Sheep? Goats? Dogs? Cats?

"When you're hanging on by your fingernails..." Buy a pet?

Laura,

Yes, it was a serious question; although this thread appears to have become somewhat side-tracked.

quote:
They don't want to run your damned maze.
Once, when I was constructing a bookcase, next-door's kitten paid a visit and had a wonderful time running around and under the cardboard in which the furniture had arrived. For a few days I arranged the cardboard into a series of tunnels and platforms, which 'Minnie' delighted in exploring - its head occasionally popping up from unexpected openings with a wonderfully bemused expression.
Tragically, its favorite playground was the road...

I apologise for my inappropriate term of address; would MEO be more suitable?

And I look forward to your answer (on the serious question that is)

S-E

MEO? No, I was not alluding to a feline utterence: most esteemed one -
However, I promise that in all our future interactions I shall refer to you simply as Laura. [Smile]

--------------------
"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

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Josephine

Orthodox Belle
# 3899

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quote:
Originally posted by Hooker's Trick:
presumably the Christian is a Christian in order to be saved. Morality, ethics and Beauty/Goodness may be (should be) by-products of this but not necessarily so.



I suppose it depends on what you mean by salvation. If you understand salvation as the process by which we become by grace what God is by nature, then you would expect that, in general, people in the process of being saved would show some evidence of it. The fact that, in general, and on the average, we show so little evidence of it is, to me, discouraging.

And, if I'm brutally honest, my reasons for attending Church don't all relate to salvation anyway. Some do. And it's probably the salvation-related reasons that keep me there. But there are other reasons to go to Church -- to see friends, to visit with people you care about that you don't see for the rest of the week.

At least that's the case for me. And since I some of my reasons for attending Church are social rather than soteriological, when I find that I don't connect socially with many of the people there, for various reasons, I begin to wonder if it's worth it.

Not if the Christian faith is. I don't have any doubt about that. But Church, rather than being a place of warmth and nurturing and safety and such, sometimes feels like a minefield.

--------------------
I've written a book! Catherine's Pascha: A celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church. It's a lovely book for children. Take a look!

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Jamat
Shipmate
# 11621

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quote:
Originally posted by Scot:
Okay, for all of you (and there have been many) who say that when you let go, Jesus and/or God caught you, what does that mean? What do you mean by "let go" and what do you mean by "caught" or "didn't let go of me"?

When I say "let go" I mean abandoning all pretense of believing something that I don't believe, and ceasing all effort to convince myself that I really do believe it after all. That's clearly not what the rest of you mean.

My wife let go last year and she said exactly this kind of thing. To herit turns out none of it ever had been real. She wanted it to be true, she wanted to keep family together and now..well it is time to be honest. She simply doesn't and never did believe and she found it a great relief to stop pretending.

--------------------
Jamat ..in utmost longditude, where Heaven
with Earth and ocean meets, the setting sun slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise. (Milton Paradise Lost Bk iv)

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Chorister

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quote:
Originally posted by Hooker's Trick:
my answer to the OP: Choral Evensong. Even if it's all made up and I rot in the ground for all eternity, at least I had Choral Evensong. And I generally leave Choral Evensong pretty sure it's not all made up.

Which is one very good reason why, no matter how many other services the church experiments with, they should never give up on Choral Evensong.

--------------------
Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

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Barnabas62
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See here. It happens to a lot of people. And the third collect in Evensong says it all for the many many of us who have been there.

"Lighten our darkness we beseech Thee O Lord".

Hard to pray that prayer when you're close to concluding that the darkness may be all there is, and the Light you thought you have seen an illusion. But that's where its at sometimes.

In her blog linked to the Jonathan Edwards article, I think Libby Purvis is right to point to the dangers of hanging everything on a particular kind of conversion theology and its associated ecclesiology. But its a door through which I entered. From experience, I now know the dangers very well and have worked through them. But I don't think I would be here now without finding God through that door. There are many of us who can say that.

--------------------
Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Socratic-enigma
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Hard to pray that prayer when you're close to concluding that the darkness may be all there is, and the Light you thought you have seen an illusion.

But may not the 'darkness' be an illusion as well?
My world is multi-coloured: And whils't there may be moments of blackness; there are also times of blinding illumination.

Is Jonathon Edwards any the less happy because of his loss of faith? Perhaps; and he may also have moments of greater enjoyment now that it is not coloured by an over-arching prism which obscured his view of reality.

quote:
Originally posted by Josephine:
If you understand salvation as the process by which we become by grace what God is by nature, then you would expect that, in general, people in the process of being saved would show some evidence of it. The fact that, in general, and on the average, we show so little evidence of it is, to me, discouraging.

But isn't that the problem? You expect people to be something other than what they are?
To be inhuman in fact?

If you don't view people as 'sinners'; the whole 'We're not worthy' thing; but simply as beings which have evolved with a complexity of desires which are sometimes advantageous; occasionally deleterious; and generally benign then one's view of the world takes on a whole new complexion.

From my perspective there are no 'worthy' or 'unworthy' individuals - there are only people: and as far as I'm concerned they all have worth.


And this view is flawed because?

S-E

--------------------
"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

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Bullfrog.

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quote:
Originally Posted by Socratic-Enigma:
From my perspective there are no 'worthy' or 'unworthy' individuals - there are only people: and as far as I'm concerned they all have worth.

Strongly agreed. I just think that this "worth" is in many cases potential, not assumed. All men and women are created equal, but what they do from their relatively equal states is another matter entirely.

And I think everybody screws up sometimes (which to me, is all being a sinner really means). That's just human. It's not, IMO, supposed to be an excuse for guilt tripping folks or building hierarchies of the saved. It's just accepting people as they are, meritorious parts, deleterious parts, and all.

--------------------
Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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TubaMirum
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Speaking for myself, I'd say religion is for us poor sinners who hope for and ask for God's help so that we don't get all twisted up and maimed in life (twisted and maimed usually by our own hands, BTW). Christians have an example of this to work with, and we - hopefully - operate on the "Imitation of Christ" as a first principle.

I can only speak to Christianity because it's all I know.

And that's all there is to it, really, IMO. If there are people who can avoid the (self-)twisting and (self-)maiming on their own, more power to them.

(Of course, a lot of us like the music and colorful processions, too.)

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TubaMirum
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quote:
Originally posted by TubaMirum:
Speaking for myself, I'd say religion is for us poor sinners who hope for and ask for God's help so that we don't get all twisted up and maimed in life (twisted and maimed usually by our own hands, BTW). Christians have an example of this to work with, and we - hopefully - operate on the "Imitation of Christ" as a first principle.

I can only speak to Christianity because it's all I know.

And that's all there is to it, really, IMO. If there are people who can avoid the (self-)twisting and (self-)maiming on their own, more power to them.

(Of course, a lot of us like the music and colorful processions, too.)

I just wanted to correct something I wrote above: that we are "twisted and maimed usually by our own hands."

"Usually" should be replaced by "often"; sometimes people are harmed simply by dint of who they are or where they happen to live - under which tyrant or oppressive economic system - or because of the prejudice of others. Sometimes they're born with disability of some kind. Sometimes life just plain treats people like crap, and people get messed up because of one thing or another in this list.

And that's another answer to "why faith," BTW. Many people depend on it - and always have - to get them through otherwise impossible situations: slaves in America before the civil war; poor people everywhere; the sick, the destitute, the mentally ill, the addicted, the friendless, the lost. God grant that it always be so.

I'm tired of being told by the privileged that we're all supposed to quit "behaving religiously" now. Atheism is a luxury.

As somebody said elsewhere: Shut up, Dawkins.

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Socratic-enigma
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quote:
Originally posted by TubaMiram:
Atheism is a luxury.

As somebody said elsewhere: Shut up, Dawkins.

Would you prefer people such as myself to be banned from the boards?

Or perhaps restricted to only posting on non-religious topics?

Is Faith so fragile - that it cannot withstand even a meagre scrutiny?

And because it provides succour to some, we should over-look the prejudice, oppression and promotion of ignorance that it also engenders?

My unbelief is neither a luxury, nor a necessity: It simply is. I can no more believe in God than in fairies.

Do Christians need to be cossetted from those with views different to themselves?

I have been told that I only attack 'Straw men'; and so I am waiting to be shown a REAL man.

I'm still waiting.

S-E

--------------------
"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

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Bullfrog.

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quote:
Originally Posted by Socratic-Enigma:
Would you prefer people such as myself to be banned from the boards?

Nobody has suggested that.
quote:
Or perhaps restricted to only posting on non-religious topics?
Of course not.
quote:
Is Faith so fragile - that it cannot withstand even a meager scrutiny?
Mine's been withstanding your scrutiny, as well as the scrutiny of an entire pack of dittohead atheists on another board. I haven't really persuaded them, and they haven't really persuaded me. It gets really dull after a while...same arguments, same refutations, same arguments, same refutations... [brick wall]

You can argue your particular brand of logic until you're blue in the face, but if you don't know how to actually be persuasive to people who aren't already of your mindset, it doesn't work.

Also, faith is trust. It's an emotional thing, not really a logical thing, which is one thing I think atheists have trouble with. You can't touch it because I simply don't care what you think, and I don't put a lot of stock in intellectual constructs. Life is a lot more than intellectualizing everything in existence into a pigeonhole.
quote:
And because it provides succor to some, we should over-look the prejudice, oppression and promotion of ignorance that it also engenders?
That's your straw man. You look at the most oppressive acts of humanity throughout history, and assume it's a theological issue. I look at it, and see a human issue. Wiping religion out of the world is not going to change the fact that some people are just mean and some people will do anything to further their own agendas. If anything, they'll make up a new ideological excuse for their rampant assholery.

The religious people I associate with are very, very fervently anti-oppression, anti-prejudice, and anti-ignorance.

Surely, you have been on this board long enough to realize that not all Christians, in fact I'd say many Christians, are not Jerry Falwell wannabes, Pat Robertson idolizers, and Rush Limbaugh dittoheads.
quote:
My unbelief is neither a luxury, nor a necessity: It simply is. I can no more believe in God than in fairies.
Good for you. My faith simply is, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with fairies.
quote:
Do Christians need to be cosseted from those with views different to themselves?
No, it's just that most Christians have more important things to do than argue with people. Also, our notions of "Christianity" are two completely different logical constructs.
quote:
I have been told that I only attack 'Straw men'; and so I am waiting to be shown a REAL man.
I'm right here.
quote:
I'm still waiting.
For what? All of us to give in and kow tow to your logical superiority? To prove God to you when you have no desire or apparent need to have your views changed? For the letters "I EXIST" to appear in flames in the sky so that you can have your personal miracle?

You're in for a long wait in any case...

--------------------
Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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TubaMirum
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quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
quote:
Originally posted by TubaMiram:
Atheism is a luxury.

As somebody said elsewhere: Shut up, Dawkins.

Would you prefer people such as myself to be banned from the boards?

Or perhaps restricted to only posting on non-religious topics?

Is Faith so fragile - that it cannot withstand even a meagre scrutiny?

And because it provides succour to some, we should over-look the prejudice, oppression and promotion of ignorance that it also engenders?

My unbelief is neither a luxury, nor a necessity: It simply is. I can no more believe in God than in fairies.

Do Christians need to be cossetted from those with views different to themselves?

I have been told that I only attack 'Straw men'; and so I am waiting to be shown a REAL man.

I'm still waiting.

S-E

Hit a nerve there, did I? Interesting to me that that's the only part of my post you chose to quote.....
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Socratic-enigma
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mirrizin

My comments are not necessarily (or even primarily) directed at those who respond: There may be someone, possibly just a visitor; who is wondering whether 'unbelief' is a legitimate position - and what are the implications.

And my concerns with religion are not simply historical (although as the adage suggests:'one ignores history at one's peril' - it was interesting that TM mentioned the solace that religion brought to African American slaves - conveniently ignoring the fact that the 'owners' utilised the sanction of the Bible to justify their oppression. This is pertinent because I'm currently having a discussion with some young men on another board, who are vainly trying to defend the Bible's position)

Leaving aside for a moment, the crimes agains't human rights which distinguish many Islamic regimes (although they alone justify the attacks on superstition) -

Today; In a significant number of American States, it is impossible for a young woman to obtain a safe, legal, medically supervised abortion - because of religious persecution.
Similarly: In many of those same states there is limited (or for many in small towns no) access to birth control measures, because the Pharmacist/drug store proprietor has decided that it is immoral and agains't Christian principles.

Despite the fact that it's use is approved in Australia, it is impossible for a woman in Australia to obtain RU486, because our 'Catholic' Health Minister has allowed the perception to arise that any drug company that imports it will suffer accordingly.

Currently, millions of American children are being taught that evolution is a myth; and disturbingly also many in Australia and I suspect in the UK.

When I returned to University in the mid-nineties, I was bewildered at how many intelligent young people had a 'Creationist' view of the world - this had been unknown when I first attended in the late '70s.

And the continuing prejudice / persecution of homosexuals has no religious basis?


But this is not your Christianity: Yours is an all-encompassing, unprejudiced, humanist doctrine - to which no compassionate open-minded free-thinker can possibly object?

But if one superstition is legitimate then all are: which our High Court recently concluded after a series of cases stretching over 20 years involving the 'Church (sic) of Scientology'.

And if it is the 'Stawman' form of Christianity which is rapidly expanding; then it is not possible to attack it, without challenging your version as well (to be honest I find the 'Conservative Evangelical' position easier to understand - there is something inherently contradictory about the 'Liberal Christian' who happily jettisons large slabs of the Bible because they are 'inconvenient')

And no, I'm not for a moment suggesting that we prevent or impede evangelising: On the contrary, that's why many of 'us Atheists' have entered the fray - the 'Live and let Live' approach has only seen an increase in the promotion of ignorance.

quote:
Originally posted by mirrizin:
...because I simply don't care what you think

That saddens me: I have a respect for, and interest in all the comments on the threads in which I am involved (and their progenitors) whether I agree with them or not.

And I have never thought of you as anything other than a real man (it was after all, simply a descriptor of arguments [Biased] )

I look forward to our future interactions.

S-E

P.S. Have you read Dawkins' TGD ?

--------------------
"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

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TubaMirum
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This will only be the 7,340th time I've said this in my life, but the 20th Century was the bloodiest of all time - wall-to-wall with massacres, most of which occurred in explicitly atheist states: the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, etc. Which I suppose goes to show that human beings can be vicious and unfeeling bastards, both with religion and without it - so what was your point again?

My point is that people who are oppressed and distressed often lean on faith for support; perhaps you've never been in that place yourself and can't identify. (It is quite interesting to me that the most ardent atheists all seem to be highly-educated upper-class Western white males.) It's true that slaveholders argued for slavery using religion; they also argued for it using economic rationales. So is economics intrinsically evil, then? Again, what's your point?

I have to repeat my opinion that in earlier eras and in different circumstances you would, along with almost everybody else, have indeed believed in fairies (or God, or gods).

What's really annoying to me is the Elmer Gantryesque huckstering for atheism - the (false) assurances that "someone will catch us when we fall," etc. If you'd just started out by criticizing the excesses of religion, you'd have found most of us would have agreed with you readily. What bothers me most, though - and perhaps it bothers others as well - is that this thread was started by someone who was asking for help in finding his faith again. It really seems that you don't care much about that, and it's not quite kosher, I'd say, to go trolling for converts on such a thread.

And really: you might note that most of us are having a fine time debating with Dogwonderer and other nonbelievers; the difference is that he's straightforward and starts his own threads when he wants to talk about his atheism.

(You do realize that we've heard all these arguments a million times, don't you? It's not anything new; the world is a hard place, and people can be bastards. Buck up, dear. And again: please refrain from using gay people to make your anti-religion points. Not interesting.)

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Janine

The Endless Simmer
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TubaMirum said
quote:
... I don't want to derail a thread whose topic is religious belief and how to hold onto it...
I thought it was more like "why do you bother to hang on".

--------------------
I'm a Fundagelical Evangimentalist. What are you?
Take Me Home * My Heart * An hour with Rich Mullins *

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Bullfrog.

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HOSTS: I do not intend to turn this into a dead horse thread, honest!

EVERYONE ELSE: Please do not turn this into a discussion of dead horse material. You know where to go. Any mention I make of homosexuality or abortion is merely to answer Socratic-Enigma's post as examples and answers to his questions.

Thanks. That said...

Socratic Enigma:

Here's some thoughts. Take them as you will.

Atheism is certainly a legitimate belief. I have no desire to persecute, decry, blast, mock, etc. atheists. Hell, with regard to fundamentalism and its ills, I can sympathize. In some ways, I sympathize more strongly with atheists than I do with what I refer to, somewhat facetiously, as fundagelical Christians.

If you actually read the bible, it's about freedom from oppression, not oppression, and using it to justify oppression, to my eyes, usually requires a very, very warped reading of the biblical text.

Whenever Paul mentioned slaves respecting their masters, he would follow up by saying masters should be kind to their slaves and remember that God is master over all. To use that as an excuse to justify a rather perverse (certainly peculiar) institution in the states was, quite frankly, an abomination.

Not to mention that Greco-Roman or Hebrew slave traditions were completely different animals than the American variety.

And on that note, I think a sufficiently mean and ideologically fixated person could turn any ideology into a weapon, if given enough power and enough angry and/or frightened people willing to listen. That's not a uniquely Christian problem, as I like to say, that's a human problem, and if the church does its job (HA!), it should try to do something about that. In some places, I believe that it does.

I'm not Muslim, so I'm not going to speak for Islam anymore than to say I live near an Muslim neighborhood and so far, nothing has blown up. I've also shopped at some Muslim-owned stores and found the people to be very gracious and generally friendly.

Abortion is an issue I'm very wary of. I personally don't like the idea of having an abortion as a mere matter of convenience, but I also don't think it's the government's job to meddle. I have this weird idea that a person's life is their responsibility, and I don't think it's the government's job to rob them of that responsibility. Also, as a church, we should be there to pick up the pieces, and if we don't, [Mad] sums my opinion up nicely.

The persecution of homosexuals has a very flimsy biblical basis at best. My spin on that is that what Paul was writing about was Greco Roman sexuality. Comparing modern homosexuality to Greco Roman hedonism, to my eyes (based on some classics majors I knew in college) like comparing modern prison systems to a Nazi death camp.

Pedophilia was very, very popular in ancient Greece and Rome, for instance. It was great to penetrate. Temple prostitution was also very common, and I do think prostitution is generally unethical, possibly because I have sympathy with women who get stuck in those kinds of straits.

Taking what I suspect was Paul's attitude towards that and applying it to modern, more or less monogamous homosexual couples is ridiculous.

My Christianity is basically on the Micah model of doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. Love thy neighbor, love God. Take care of people because that's what we're here to do.

Then again, I'm also a bleeding heart liberal, so go figure.

Legitimate? Depends on what you mean by legitimate. I naturally think that Christianity has a better system than other religions (and yes, I'm biased, but I have my reasons too), but I don't think that's the same as saying they aren't "legitimate." People have the right to worship as they choose, as long as they're not harming anyone.

I think there are very biblically consistent ways to tear down fundagelical Christianity, a few of which I mentioned above. Ultimately, we're not here to condemn, we have no way of knowing who the "elect" are (assuming such exist), and Christ didn't come so we could declare ourselves gods and lord it over everyone around us. We're here to forgive and to heal, not to condemn and punish. It's honestly a very biblically consistent attitude.

I don't jettison any part of the bible. I will admit that it's not a literal history, and I will admit that it has to be read within context, but I'm really happy to say the whole thing is useful.

For instance, I actually really enjoy reading Psalm 137, for instance. It gives a really wonderful lesson on why you shouldn't oppress people, and it's really a very eloquent demonstration of what it feels like to be driven face-down into the dirt. It might not be a pleasant thought, but it's true and it's a useful reading.

When I say "I don't care what you think," it doesn't mean I disregard you or your thoughts. It means I've heard this argument before and it doesn't really phase me. I just think you have a very jaded and narrow (though honest and justified) notion of what religion means.

Ya know what's funny? So do I. That's why I have faith in God. As young as I am, I've known too many people. The universe is about more than us.

I'm a big fan of live and let live. I'd be more than happy to help you put another nail in the coffin of neo-con fundamentalism.

I just don't want to see my own church get torn down in the process.

And FWIW, I think the days of the Bushes are numbered. We've seen what this new fundamentalism can do, and it's fruits are most bitter indeed.

--------------------
Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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saysay

Ship's Praying Mantis
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quote:
My unbelief is neither a luxury, nor a necessity: It simply is. I can no more believe in God than in fairies.
That's just because you've never seen a fairy.

At this point, asking me to not believe in G-d is akin to asking me to believe that I'm a brain in a vat; it contradicts everything I think I know about the world and how to get around in it. I know that isn't true of a lot of people - and I don't expect them to privilege my experience over theirs (and I assume yours). But it's still true, and why many of these conversations don't tend to go anywhere... My belief is definitely not about fear; or habit; or comfort; or a ready answer to every question; or something to fill the void. It's about responding to something that has given every indication of being real.

--------------------
"It's been a long day without you, my friend
I'll tell you all about it when I see you again"
"'Oh sweet baby purple Jesus' - that's a direct quote from a 9 year old - shoutout to purple Jesus."

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Mere Nick
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
... to the whole religion thing (assuming you ever are in such a position), what's the one thing that stops you letting go?

Or, to put it another way - on those days* when the whole of Christianity, from start to finish, seems just one long line of platitudinous crap, what's the one thing that stops you walking away from it all?


(* For me, at the moment, any day when I've read the Church Times.)

An empty tomb and no one could come up with a body. The apostles' testimony and unwavering commitment after seeing Jesus get done in. One of them was a tax collector. No one's going to hang out with a tax collector to promote a lie about something that isn't even going to put dough in their pocket.

--------------------
"Well that's it, boys. I've been redeemed. The preacher's done warshed away all my sins and transgressions. It's the straight and narrow from here on out, and heaven everlasting's my reward."
Delmar O'Donnell

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Socratic-enigma
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quote:
Originally posted by saysay:
That's just because you've never seen a fairy.

Or their spoor; or discarded clothing; or shedded wings; or footprints; or the fact that to even surmise their existence is contradictory to everything we know from biology.

quote:
At this point, asking me to not believe in G-d is akin to asking me to believe that I'm a brain in a vat; it contradicts everything I think I know about the world and how to get around in it.
I don't see how - if you were a brain in a vat (or a character in "The Matrix"), what you know about the world and how you get around; would in any way contradict it. How would you know? That is the problem of induction.
At best we can only assume that the world is as we perceive it. I have always thought that the best defence is 'Ockham's Razor' and evolution (that the perception of the world which most closely correlates to how the world actually is will be selected for). William provides the reasoning and Charles the explanation.
quote:
Originally posted by mirrizin:
Whenever Paul mentioned slaves respecting their masters, he would follow up by saying masters should be kind to their slaves and remember that God is master over all. To use that as an excuse to justify a rather perverse (certainly peculiar) institution in the states was, quite frankly, an abomination.

So, slavery is alright as long as you're kind to your slave? Are you sure you're not masquerading on another board as a computer programming student from Sydney?

My position is pretty simple: Owning another human being is abhorrent. Full Stop. Always was, is and will be.

quote:
Originally posted by Janine:
I thought it was more like "why do you bother to hang on".

I questioned whether my contributions were appropriate before/ and after my initial posts.

quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
quote:
Posted by Socratic-enigma:
What is preventing you - fear? Simple anxiety; or merely habit?

Good question. Very good question....
Now I realise that simply starting a thread does not convey any proprietorship - but surely their comments are worthy of a certain respect. If Adeodatus had simply wanted affirmation, then surely he would have started this thread in Ecclesiantics or Kergymania.

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And if someone is hanging on by their fingernails are they not entitled to hear from someone who has 'let go' and the possible consequences: and the questions which led them to such a decision?

And I did only re-enter the thread after someone maligned a poor, innocent and (largely) defenceless goat.

Now who was that? [Biased]

S-E

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"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

Posts: 817 | From: Melbourne, Australia | Registered: Nov 2006  |  IP: Logged
John Donne

Renaissance Man
# 220

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quote:
S-E:
But I must say that I enjoyed your previous post Laura. It was a measured and intelligent response and almost complimentary to my contributions (OK, that's stretching it!).

Er, just out of interest... and because my irony detector is malfunctioning, is the humourous twist to this statement that you recognise your own intellectual feebleness and the sub-par nature of your contributions compared to Laura's, or were you really implying that Laura's responses are 'almost (at a stretch) as good as my own'?

[Confused]

quote:
S-E:
to be honest I find the 'Conservative Evangelical' position easier to understand - there is something inherently contradictory about the 'Liberal Christian' who happily jettisons large slabs of the Bible because they are 'inconvenient'

(My bold) Yes, Laura (at top of page). I am tired of S-E's strawmen.

S-E, I'm just saying this 'cos I am kind, right. No-one else commented on the above bold. When things like that go by and no-one says anything, what that means is, your credibility and academic rigour is so low that people can't be bothered engaging you any more.

Just sayin'.

Posts: 13667 | From: Perth, W.A. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Socratic-enigma
Shipmate
# 12074

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quote:
Originally posted by mirrizin:
I don't jettison any part of the bible. I will admit that it's not a literal history, and I will admit that it has to be read within context, but I'm really happy to say the whole thing is useful.

I, for one, do not consider mirrizin no-one; on the contrary, I have a great deal of respect for his opinions, and value my interactions with him.

Laura,

When next you despatch one of your eunuchs, can you at least ensure that they have the good grace to actually read the thread before passing comment(or was that wind).

S-E

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"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
David Hume

Posts: 817 | From: Melbourne, Australia | Registered: Nov 2006  |  IP: Logged
Bullfrog.

Prophetic Amphibian
# 11014

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For those interested, I've started a Kerygmania thread on the "biblical" institution of slavery.

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Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

Posts: 7522 | From: Chicago | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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I can't say I've read the whole of this thread (and I gave up more or less completely after it moved onto sheep and goats) but personally I've found it the most moving thing I've read on the boards since Fields of Gold (or possibly the sadly lost Speaking in Tongues thread in Heaven).

I could say similar things to others who have posted but for now I too will go with the famous rachel

quote:
a savage in chains, dragged along by this Christ from whom I cannot escape
and am inspired by the thought of getting to meet other savages here when we all eventually get to the end of the parade, "wake up after Thy likeness", and are "satisfied".

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

Posts: 17944 | From: 528491 | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Josephine

Orthodox Belle
# 3899

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quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
And I did only re-enter the thread after someone maligned a poor, innocent and (largely) defenceless goat.

Now who was that?

That would have been me. And I am heartily sorry that I used that particular metaphor, and didn't stick with the wheat and the tares, because your inability to see the point of what was being said over the wall of your own ignorance and prejudice has derailed what was a thought-provoking and moving thread.

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I've written a book! Catherine's Pascha: A celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church. It's a lovely book for children. Take a look!

Posts: 10273 | From: Pacific Northwest, USA | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged



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