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April 18, 2003 6:00 AM   Subscribe

A Prayer for George Dubya just in time for Passover and Easter, what the universe has to say to our president. (featuring Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Gandhi, and more)
posted by amberglow (80 comments total)

 
Thanks amberglow! I had considered the 2x4 across the head prayer but this one fits my nonviolent tendencies much better.
May he live in interesting times!
posted by nofundy at 6:24 AM on April 18, 2003


Great.
Today is Good Friday. This is the day that we remember the crucifixion of Jesus-Sunday being Easter (or Resurrection Sunday-the day He rose from the dead.)

I would have found this article offensive at any time, but particularly so now. It is a serious thing to put words in the Lord's mouth. Kinda like spitting into the wind or pulling on Superman's cape. Only more so.

But this is post-Christian America, and respect for my faith is dying or dead.
posted by konolia at 6:56 AM on April 18, 2003


konolia, your phrase "post-Christian America" is deeply offensive to the millions of us who are Americans yet not Christian, so apparently the author of this column is not alone.
posted by amberglow at 7:04 AM on April 18, 2003


konolia, I don't think any disrespect for your faith was intended, merely disrespect for GW Bush, which in a free society people are free to do (for now, at least).

The ones disrespecting your faith are those who use it as a cover for greed and hatred, to wit:


If Jesus saves -- well, He'd better save Himself
from the gory glory seekers who use His name in death.

posted by jonmc at 7:07 AM on April 18, 2003


In that vein I prefer the more succint "Jesus, save me from your followers..." Which is a jab not at the faith itself but for its more obnoxious practitioners. Such as Dubya :P

What I wanna know is how Gandhi got into that house... sure he was an admirable guy and all that, but I'm not aware of anyone worshipping him.
posted by Foosnark at 7:14 AM on April 18, 2003


To those offended when I say "post-Christian America"-I am old enough to remember when we read a portion of Scripture and had a little prayer in the morning at school, about the same time we had the Pledge of Allegiance. Where I lived we did that till about 1968.

According to what I believe, the majority of us weren't Christians by the strict definition, but all at least had respect and had a belief in right and wrong.

We now live in a time when being Christian simply isn't cool, and in some circles practically unacceptable.

And in my opinion, as long as no one is forced to belong to a church (like they used to be-early American history can fill you in here) I don't think Bush or anyone else should be criticized for believing in prayer, believing that they are responsible to God for what they do, and asking for divine guidance. I mean, it isn't like they are sacrificing babies in the White House or something.

If that offends you, that was not my intention-but I will not change my opinion. You don't have to invite me to your parties or anything.
posted by konolia at 7:23 AM on April 18, 2003


If respect is indeed dying for thought systems not based on proof or even rational reasoning, then that's fine with me, really.
posted by spazzm at 7:34 AM on April 18, 2003


According to what I believe, the majority of us weren't Christians by the strict definition, but all at least had respect and had a belief in right and wrong.

Ah, nostalgia. It seems like only yesterday that Christians in America were these blotchy aliens scrabbling for a living on a few spots on the East Coast. Pitiful as they seemed, they multiplied like crazy and eventually managed to kill pretty much everyone who got in their way.

We now live in a time when being Christian simply isn't cool, and in some circles practically unacceptable.

Well, it only took a couple of hundred years, I suppose it was worth waiting for.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:36 AM on April 18, 2003


What George Spiggott said on the other hand is simply bigotry. Substitute "Jew" for "Christian" in that sentence and I imagine you'd be (correctly) offended and indignant. But here you crack wise.

One group is okay to mock and another is not. This constitutes prejudice. Proving that even so-called enlightened, rational secular humanist types need someone to look down on.

And here I go probably alienating both sides of the debate again.
posted by jonmc at 7:47 AM on April 18, 2003


If respect is indeed dying for thought systems not based on proof or even rational reasoning, then that's fine with me, really.

Is your thought system based on proof? You are asserting that those who believe are incorrect, yet you offer no proof of your assertion. In effect, you believe you are correct, even though you can't prove it.

If a matter of contention cannot be proved either way, then it is a matter of opinion. Asserting that another's opinion is false without proof is itself logically false.
posted by jsonic at 7:51 AM on April 18, 2003


In effect, you believe you are correct, even though you can't prove it.

I believe that in the absence of a proof of correctness, the best assumption is to believe that everyone is incorrect, including me.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:55 AM on April 18, 2003


Another post linking to more of this author's tripe was deleted recently. What made you think that this post was any better?
posted by jammer at 7:55 AM on April 18, 2003


Jsonic, I think fundamentalist Jews who use perverted magnifications of their base religious beliefs as an excuse to brutalize and endanger millions of people are equally ignorant and dangerous as those of Christians and Muslims. If you think I'm a racist too for saying that, so be it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:56 AM on April 18, 2003


*Sigh* Call it bigotry if it pleases you. My point was twofold: 1) One man's golden age is another man's dark age. The pinnacle of human history was not necessarily the time when Christianity held sway in North America, not in everyone's opinion. 2) Claiming that your group of people believe in right and wrong to a degree that others don't requires proof -- there's no evidence of it that I know of and I presented a counterexample.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:56 AM on April 18, 2003


But this is post-Christian America, and respect for my faith is dying or dead.

Tim LaHaye's a massively bestselling author. There's a born again in the whitehouse, and many voters chose him for that reason. You guys are doing fine. It's atheism that has no voice and is looked at with suspicion. Respect for my "faith" is what's dying or dead.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:56 AM on April 18, 2003


"I mean, it isn't like they are sacrificing babies in the White House or something."

Well, the civillian body count in Iraq is now somewhere around 1800... How many babies do you suppose George should sacrifice in the name of his god?
posted by Perigee at 7:57 AM on April 18, 2003


I mean, it isn't like they are sacrificing babies in the White House or something.

Right, konolia, they're sacrificing babies in Iraq from the White House. (Sorry, folks, but she just made it too easy.)
posted by nicwolff at 7:57 AM on April 18, 2003


Jsonic, I think fundamentalist Jews who use perverted magnifications of their base religious beliefs as an excuse to brutalize and endanger millions of people are equally ignorant and dangerous as those of Christians and Muslims.

What part of my comment are you responding to? All I said was that asserting that someone is wrong for believing (or not believing) without proof is logically false.

If you think I'm a racist too for saying that, so be it.

Where did I say that anyone was being racist?
posted by jsonic at 8:02 AM on April 18, 2003


I think he's talking about me, jsonic. Sorry you got caught up in the fray.
posted by jonmc at 8:12 AM on April 18, 2003


Just about a year ago, an essay called Frat Boys Rule the Earth by the same columnist was posted here and people were pretty dismissive. His commentary is indeed biting, and he has a rather strident style. But one year later, it sure looks pretty prescient.

I try not to be strident but that's not easy. I try to make peace start with me and my daily dealings but it is hard. I try to be respectful of all beliefs, but find it nearly impossible to watch the crimes committed in the names of religion - both here and elsewhere - and not feel angry. I've known many good people of faith, and I try to remember them rather than the people who are currently doing outrageous things in God's or Allah's name. One of the things that horrifies and terrifies me is the insidious erosion of the separation of church and state that we are experiencing in the U.S....it does not bode well.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:13 AM on April 18, 2003


jujujive...I don't disagree. I just don't think we should make it worse.
posted by jonmc at 8:16 AM on April 18, 2003


Awright, everybody, let's chill out a bit.

Whatever the overall state of Christianity in the US today, konolia, the author of this piece is using "God's" voice only as a rhetorical device, not actually pretending to speak for God. That's a far cry from what (to name just one example) one of the country's most powerful right-wing wackos does, in what is probably our born-again president's favorite newspaper (PDF version of original).

But I didn't come here to drag that stuff up - I only wanted to say:

He has such the headache right now.

This is profoundly awkward. Should have been

"He has hella headache right now."
posted by soyjoy at 8:20 AM on April 18, 2003


[post plea for calm]
[post more flamebait]
[claim not be posting just to add said flamebait]

Hmmm.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:31 AM on April 18, 2003



Is your thought system based on proof? You are asserting that those who believe are incorrect, yet you offer no proof of your assertion. In effect, you believe you are correct, even though you can't prove it.


I am not asserting anything. I'm not saying that those who believe are wrong - I'm merely stating the perfectly obvious in a slightly different way:
Belief does not require proof or reasoning, hence it is not based on proof or reasoning.

If you disagree with this, you are obviously using a different definition of the word "belief" than I (and the dictionary) do.
posted by spazzm at 8:34 AM on April 18, 2003


We now live in a time when being Christian simply isn't cool, and in some circles practically unacceptable.

When, exactly, has it been "cool"? (The Calvinists I'm reading about now would have gagged at the very idea.) When has evangelical Christianity in particular not been subject to mockery? (Even in the Victorian era, that period stereotypically associated with all things evangelical, anti-evangelical satire runs rife; see, e.g., Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, ex-evangelicals George Eliot and John Henry Newman, and Frances Trollope. Eighteenth-century novelists regularly make fun of the Methodists. And so on.) And to what "Christianity" are you referring? (Perhaps there are some historically-aware Roman Catholics out there who might want to have a quiet word about "lack of respect.") The most you can argue is that there's been a paradigm shift of sorts, in which it has become more acceptable to deny that Christ died on the cross to atone for man's sins. But there's little to separate anti-Christian discourse from interdenominational theological disputes, right down to claims about irrationality, belief without evidence, hypocrisy, and so forth; George, spazzm, and XQU..., for example, haven't said anything about Christians that Protestants--especially evangelicals and fundamentalists--haven't already said about Catholics, and vice-versa.

I'm not even sure what "post-Christian" means. Callum G. Brown's analysis of secularization in The Death of Christian Britain, for example, points out that it has nothing to do with how many people are going to church, but, rather, the extent to which they use Christianity as a conceptual framework. As Brown demonstrates, Christianity no longer explains much of anything for most 20th-early 21st c. Britons (although, of course, there are and will always be believers); the same can hardly be said of America.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2003


Oops. Sorry 'bout that, jsonic.

Anyway, if this is an issue about speaking through God, then I'd like to repost what I have for the last few years considered the finest example of His message ever.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:43 AM on April 18, 2003


I am not asserting anything. I'm not saying that those who believe are wrong

So your statement that respect for religious belief is dying is "fine with me" in no way implies that you think religious belief is wrong?
posted by jsonic at 8:46 AM on April 18, 2003


I don't think Bush or anyone else should be criticized for believing in prayer, believing that they are responsible to God for what they do, and asking for divine guidance.

He's not being criticized for what he believes in; he's being criticized for being a hypocrite, for claiming to believe in something then acting 180 degrees in opposition to it. konolia (and other Christians) should be offended by Bush's hypocrisy, not by this columnist.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:50 AM on April 18, 2003


Aw, Armitage, you got me. I was waiting around for a chance to repost that loony Moon stuff, and once I saw this thread on the front page, I knew the misguided charge of "speaking for God," and the inevitable flame war that would follow, would offer me just that chance. So I jumped in, added the flamebait, then rifled through the text of the link to find somewhere I could change a phrase to "hella."

I'll try to cover my tracks better next time.
posted by soyjoy at 9:02 AM on April 18, 2003


konolia,

As a Muslim, it would be nice that we could all learn to respect one another's beliefs.

I find it interesting that the same people who constantly bitch about having their rights stripped (folks like Robertson and Graham) are the same ones who wouldn't have any problem with the same being foisted upon people of differing faiths. It's a two-way street.

You gripe about this article being disrespectful because Easter is coming up. Big deal. During my religious holiday, Hajj, I was reminded how violent I must be because the terror alert was kicked up a notch. We see this same, irrational paranoia during Ramadan. So, if you practice what you preach, konolia, I commend you. Otherwise, you and your evangelical friends can bugger off.

No offense intended.
posted by drstrangelove at 9:02 AM on April 18, 2003


"It is a serious thing to put words in the Lord's mouth."

Konolia, that's exactly what makes me so angry with the Christian community. Some of the New Testament contains blatant propaganda, demonizing Jews, that was written to shift Rome's persecution away from Christians. The Crusades? Countless Christian "Missionaries" (read: Pillaging Conquerors) who came to South America, North America, Asia, and Africa to "enlighten the savages?" How about gay hate crimes, because a man who "knows" another man deserves death? What about women's rights, completely destroyed by a patriarchy of monks who rewrote the bible, again and again. Burning witches? The KKK?

I believe in forgiveness, but I believe that Christians have done quite a bit to smear the name of God by speaking for "Him." Just because you're reading from some book doesn't mean that you're obeying God's will. I don't think God ever wrote anything, personally...
posted by zekinskia at 9:09 AM on April 18, 2003


"It is a serious thing to put words in the Lord's mouth."

Yet humans have been doing it for centuries, sometimes even in the Bible.
posted by Shane at 9:15 AM on April 18, 2003


It is a serious thing to put words in the Lord's mouth. Kinda like spitting into the wind or pulling on Superman's cape. Only more so.

Oh, God, try to pick up the pieces and move on. Most of the word-putting-into-God's-mouthing is done by church officials anyway, and has been for quite some time. Every time the church retracts or alters their position they as much as admit that they were putting words in Somebody's divine mouth.

The letter board outside the church near here once said, "'Evolution? Yeah, right!' -- God". So, either God talks like one of the Ninja Turtles, or, impossibility of impossibilities, making up things that God says isn't reserved for the heathens. Where's the outrage? You're not mad because he put words in God's mouth, you're mad because you disagree with them.
posted by Hildago at 9:40 AM on April 18, 2003


I have respect for people. I have no respect for religion. Religion has no respect for people.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:52 AM on April 18, 2003


"The universe?"

The universe is maybe some 20 billion light years across. That's somewhere in the neighborhood of 120,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles. The earth, by comparison, is about 8000 miles across. That's 15,000,000,000,000,000,000 times smaller (and that's linearly, not even considering total volume).

For comparison, let's say a human is about 2 meters tall, while a hydrogen atom is around 50 picometers across, or 0.00000000005 meters--only 40,000,000,000 times smaller.

The earth, as compared to the entire universe, is over eight orders of magnitude smaller than a hydrogen atom is relative to a human.

If by some quirk the universe is sentient, it probably doesn't even know the earth exists, let alone care about what any individual humans are doing.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:55 AM on April 18, 2003


According to what I believe, the majority of us weren't Christians by the strict definition, but all at least had respect and had a belief in right and wrong. We now live in a time when being Christian simply isn't cool, and in some circles practically unacceptable.

Bunnyfire, is that you?
posted by dhoyt at 10:14 AM on April 18, 2003


This author better watch himself. The last time someone spoke for Mohammed, 220 people died, a beauty contest had to be moved and the author of the remarks had to flee her country -- for the safety of the US -- Virginia if memory serves.
posted by probablysteve at 10:22 AM on April 18, 2003


people who are offended by the article are missing the mark. this thing's a bullseye! especially the last paragraph.

this administration is doing much more harm to this world than you're wanting to pay attention to. and i'm sure, for those who are religious whatever friend you have in the sky is trembling with anger and frustration right bout now. this is a perfectly important satire/article. especially before easter.

anyone wanna discuss patriot act II ?
if it's so important for you to wax about freedom of expression and religion, do your homework — aint gonna be around for much longer. google away, your bill of rights (includin freedom of religion) are zapped.
posted by Peter H at 10:22 AM on April 18, 2003


and even more important to be reminded of during passover.
posted by Peter H at 10:25 AM on April 18, 2003


Decent article, The Onion did a much more potent, poignant, and powerful job with the "thou shalt not kill" bit. I didn't think this piece was all that original or clever...

Author loses points for throwing the "choice" argument into the anti-feminist stuff (IMO choice is a political argument, not a religious one). And "There's Mohammed. Allah."--did anyone else take this to mean the author thinks Mohammed and Allah are the same entity?
posted by gramcracker at 10:26 AM on April 18, 2003


gramcracker - thanks for the reminder link to the Onion piece. I remember reading it when that issue first came out and being quite moved by it...as I was again upon reading it today.
posted by vito90 at 10:31 AM on April 18, 2003


jsonic: In re: proof:

I'm an atheist. I believe god does not exist.

I do not have to prove this assertion. Why? It is impossible to prove a negative assertion. It is possible to disprove one-- a fact that those harping on the "Iraq has hasn't proved it doesn't have NBC weapons" meme would do well to remember. However, to disprove my assertion that there is no god, you must prove that there is a god.

The opposite of my claim, "God exists," requires proof. Why? Because it is a positive statement about the uiverse; as a result, it should be testable and proveable. Additionally, since the claim that God exists is extraordinary (in the sense that it requires a type of existence that can not normally be measured), it requires extraordinary proof. Books of confused and doubtful authorship do not meet this test.

There is no logical fallacy in this position. Asserting, as you did above, that I must prove a negative assertion ("Asserting that another's opinion is false without proof is itself logically false.") is incomplete; it must be qualified by the addition "... if that opinion makes a positive assertion."

Which, of course, the original poster did not.
posted by Cerebus at 10:53 AM on April 18, 2003


In re: Christianity and cool, if Christianity is losing in the marketplace of ideas-- an equivalent assertion, and evidenced by the increasingly polarized rhetoric being put forth by many Christians over the last 40 years or so-- doesn't this mean that Christianity no longer fills the needs of the people it seeks to service?

Isn't that outdated ideologies should die a good thing?

I ask only to provoke. 8)
posted by Cerebus at 10:56 AM on April 18, 2003


Well, cerebus, if I get bored with the law of gravity, will I fly off the planet? 8)

Seriously, if I am following the world view I have simply because "it fills my needs" I am full of crap. The point is to find truth and follow it. In my case I am convinced I am walking in the truth. A lot of people here disagree with me and that is their privilege.
posted by konolia at 11:03 AM on April 18, 2003


And the Lord spake unto konolia, Dude, lighten up and get over it.
posted by xmutex at 11:03 AM on April 18, 2003


Cerberus: Your belief that God does not exist is no more valid than a Christian's belief that he does. The only position that does not require proof is the agnostic's view that God's existence can be neither proven nor disproved.

If you're approach were correct, it would be correct to say that there is no life on any other planet in the universe because no-one can prove that there is, which is obviously stupid.
posted by daveg at 11:08 AM on April 18, 2003


What utter tripe this piece is. I don't think this is offensive, it's just like someone thought they'd write an entire piece in one take and then forgot to edit out the unfunny bits (all of it). That's bad journalism, it wouldn't have made it to the page if the editing team were sharp.

Quality aside, if Mark Morford really wanted to badmouth the President of his country then he could have at least done it from his own identity, rather than dressing it up in a disdainful "What would Jesus do" manner.

Still, this is what you have to expect of a rag like the SF Gate nowadays. Would this have ever appeared in the NYT? I think not. :-)
posted by wackybrit at 11:11 AM on April 18, 2003


Why? It is impossible to prove a negative assertion.

Sure it is. "The earth is not flat." Go show that the earth is round, and you've proved a negative assertion. I think you must mean that it is impossible to prove the nonexistence of some class of entity. But even that's not completely true; if you can demonstrate that the definition of this entity is internally inconsistent, then you know that it cannot exist.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:20 AM on April 18, 2003


konolia: Gravity is an observable, consistent, readily proven fact. God is not. Yours is a false analogy.

daveg: Not quite. It is in fact perfectly consistent to assert that there is no extraterrestrial life, and then search for such life to disprove it-- thus we get SETI.

Other than that you're missing my point; by making my assertion, I create the conditions where those who believe otherwise must demonstrate proof of my assertion's falsity. I myself need take no active action to prove it, as there is no way to do so. Thus, I need not prove it. The converse is not the case; someone who asserts the existence of a god also holds the burden of proving it.

And it's C-E-R-E-B-U-S. Google it.
posted by Cerebus at 11:25 AM on April 18, 2003


Wacky, it's not "Bad Journalism." It's not "Journalism" at all, as such.

It's a column.

An op-ed piece.

Untwist your knickers.
posted by Perigee at 11:27 AM on April 18, 2003


Max: You're correct, I'm being sloppy in my terminology. Mia culpa, mia culpa, mia maxima culpa.
posted by Cerebus at 11:27 AM on April 18, 2003


Alas, the Pope doesn't think a whole hell of a lot of Dubya's gutless little war, either...nor do these radical commies. Then there's Shrub's own church...

I guess Bush and his wacky supporters don't care much for those particular "faith based initiatives", eh?

Well of course Buddha's here too, BTW. Always the chuckling one, always laughing at the divine absurdity of it all, the delicious tragicomic pageant.

~chuckle~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:28 AM on April 18, 2003


Perigee: I actually thought that as I wrote my response, and I considering using 'column'. I decided to stick with 'journalism' in the general sense as 'column' is rather ambiguous online. 'Journalism' can be used in a general sense to mean published material by a news source with credentials even if it is not commonly used this way in the industry. Since I am a lay person, I believe I can be exempt from their high standards ;-)

Two of the American Heritage Dictionary's definitions are such: Material written for publication in a newspaper or magazine or for broadcast. - Written material of current interest or wide popular appeal.

--
Throwing anal back at anal.
posted by wackybrit at 11:36 AM on April 18, 2003


The opposite of my claim, "God exists," requires proof.

Of course it does. And the proof comes from other people. And what if you don't credit proof from other people? In that case, you cannot claim any country you have never visited exists.

--
Logical disconnects for 2 cents a pop.
posted by wackybrit at 11:41 AM on April 18, 2003


wackybrit: That wasn't my point. My point was that jsonic claimed that anyone (effectively) claiming that there is no god without proving that claim *themselves* was logically equivalent to claiming that there is a god without providing proof.

My point, and it seems I need to belabor it, is that these are NOT equivalencies. If I claim there is no god, others must prove there is; if I claim there *is* a god, *I* must prove there is.

Does everyone get it now?
posted by Cerebus at 11:54 AM on April 18, 2003


I'm an atheist. I believe god does not exist. I do not have to prove this assertion.

I did not say that either side needs to prove their opinion for it to be a valid opinion. Only if you make the assertion that someone else's opinion is wrong do you need to prove the opposite.

The converse is not the case; someone who asserts the existence of a god also holds the burden of proving it.

Only if they claim that your negative opinion is wrong. There is no universal concept of right and wrong in a matter of opinion. As soon as somebody attempts to claim right or wrong, then they are trying to transition the contention into a matter of fact. Thus, proof of their claim is required for this attempt to be valid.

The subtlety here lies in the difference between saying "I believe God exists/doesn't exist" and "God exists/doesn't exist". One is an opinion, and the other is an attempt at fact requiring proof.
posted by jsonic at 11:59 AM on April 18, 2003


As a columnist, Wacky, Believe Me, I'm quite aware of the difference - as are the editors. Frankly, I would never make it as a "Journalist" - nor would I ever want to be one.

Nor would the Journalists here ever want to see me try.

As far as anality - not at all. I checked the same dictionary you did, and you forgot to mention that your one entry is the most general of 4 possible - the other three making very notable mention of news gathering and dispersal. So, in charging it as "Bad Journalism," you credit it with a responsibility and a credibility it isn't supposed to have, and then bash it; something like shitting on your own rug, then punishing the dog for it.

You don't need to like what a columnist says - heck, some columnists make scads of money deliberately cheesing people off - but you have to look at it as an opinion, and deal with it as such, rather than trying to wax editorial and heavyhanded against the method.

I am reminded of a threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction that became the foundation for an armed invasion of a soverign country... in both cases, the grounds for the attack are manufactured.
posted by Perigee at 12:03 PM on April 18, 2003


Of course it does. And the proof comes from other people. And what if you don't credit proof from other people? In that case, you cannot claim any country you have never visited exists.

So if you've never been to Italy or Mybestfriendistan, there's no collective evidence that makes Italy's existence more likely than Mybestfriendistan's? How do you get by in the world?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:07 PM on April 18, 2003


Perigee, I dunno where you're a columnist, but in my part of the world a columnist is a type of journalist. Columnists are held to certain journalistic standards - e.g. you can pretend to be speaking for God, but you still can't have "God" say something libelous and then say "I was just jokin' around!" or "that wasn't me, it was a character!"

Also, an "op-ed" is usually something different from a "column," in that it's usually written as a one-off by a non-columnist (often a non-journalist), while a "column" usually refers to one of a series of pieces written by a given journalist for the same outlet (paper or syndicate).

To go back to the original objection, though, I don't think this is bad journalism or a bad column. I agree that it could have been a little better edited, and that it shoots itself in the foot by dragging in feminist concerns which are completely off-topic, but it does have a point, and it makes it clearly with a strong, comprehensible voice. Your denial notwithstanding, wackybrit, I think maybe you found it more offensive than poorly written.
posted by soyjoy at 12:26 PM on April 18, 2003


Calkins Media, a string of 5 newspapers in the Philly and Pittsburgh area. For Christ sake, soy, don't tell my editors that I'm even a "type" of Journalist - they'll have a heart attack. Yes, we do have to keep our eyes on the right side of the law, (and I've been reined in on a few occassions - that's what editors are for) but we're allowed MUCH more freedom of expression than the Journalists (I keep capitalizing that, because they would).

(Who I think of as trained parrots. Just the facts, straightline, no opinion, etc. and so forth. I'd sooner flip burgers. Bleah.)
posted by Perigee at 12:35 PM on April 18, 2003


Cerebus: a recent refutation of your argument.

Apologies on the misname
posted by daveg at 12:37 PM on April 18, 2003


There is no universal concept of right and wrong in a matter of opinion.

What if I say "It is my opinion that my left foot is made of French toast," and I genuinely believe that? I would say you could easily disprove that, even though it's only my opinion.

Or are you saying that since it's my opinion, it becomes magically un-proveable?
posted by turaho at 12:47 PM on April 18, 2003


Oh - almost missed a chance at a free plug. Heh.
posted by Perigee at 12:48 PM on April 18, 2003


What if I say "It is my opinion that my left foot is made of French toast,"

The problem with your argument is that your fictional example would not be a matter of opinion. What your foot is actually made of is provable. Thus, it is a matter of fact.

I would say you could easily disprove that, even though it's only my opinion.

If something is provable, then it is no longer a matter of opinion. It is now a matter of fact where right and wrong definitely exist.

An example of a matter of opinion would be, "I believe the Redskins will win next years superbowl". That is a perfectly valid opinion. It is also valid for someone else to say, "I believe the Redskins will not win the superbowl". What is not valid is for either person to say "your opinion is wrong" unless they can somehow prove it.
posted by jsonic at 1:01 PM on April 18, 2003


ooh, perigee--your most recent column is beautiful. I'm glad you self-plugged, and thanks.

and boy, religion really is a meaty topic, no?
posted by amberglow at 1:05 PM on April 18, 2003


Perigee, I doubt anyone else is interested in our columnist v. journalist discussion at this point (I'll gladly continue it via email if you want), but I think you may be conflating "journalist" with "reporter." I went to your self-link and I'm sorry to have to inform you that, like it or not... that's journalism, baby!
posted by soyjoy at 1:10 PM on April 18, 2003


What if I say "It is my opinion that my left foot is made of French toast," and I genuinely believe that? I would say you could easily disprove that, even though it's only my opinion.

It's only easy to prove if you take your socks off. Until we can pierce the veil of your sock, we can't definitively say that your opinion of the composition of your left foot is delusional/whimsical/a goddamn lie. So it is with God, which is also made of freedom toast.

In my opinion, anyway.

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:11 PM on April 18, 2003


Thank you amber- very kind of you. And yes; religion is (at least in my opinion) one of the most beautiful topics in the book. And the most dangerous. Because in religion, we define ourselves as much as we define our beliefs and our creator. Two people can look at the same creator, and one will say "X is immoral" and the other "X is moral."

And both believe they are holding a universal truth, unntouchable and pure. It's caused a lot of pain over the course of years. It's caused a lot of suffering. But, hopefully, as the years go by we are slowly burning away the ambiguity. Blacks used to be sub-human; women used to be property. Hate used to have its place. We're changing. Slowly, but we are changing.

Who knows? Maybe, one day, we'll be worthy of religion.
posted by Perigee at 1:18 PM on April 18, 2003


Who knows? Maybe, one day, we'll be worthy of religion.

In the meantime, there's always secular humanism.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:52 PM on April 18, 2003


Ten or twelve years ago I quite unexpectedly started losing friends and becoming estranged from family members because of their sudden embrace of fundamentalist Christianity. We are talking of adults here, people over 30 and many well over 30. These people don't want to be around me and don't want me near their children (some of whom are my relatives as well) because I don't share their beliefs. They are also too busy to spend time with me because they need to be with their new church families.

Something has changed and if this hasn't happened to you (yet), you are lucky or perhaps it is where you live. The change seems to be greatest in the South and Southwest, including Texas.
posted by Sixtieslibber at 2:03 PM on April 18, 2003


Kinda like spitting into the wind or pulling on Superman's cape.

I thought that was "Don't Mess Around with Jim," not "Don't Mess Around with Jesus."
posted by kirkaracha at 2:10 PM on April 18, 2003


So your statement that respect for religious belief is dying is "fine with me" in no way implies that you think religious belief is wrong?

It implies that if a thought system is not based on proof or reason, I do not think it deserves much respect.

I do not think belief is "wrong" any more than I think eating with a knife & fork is any more less blue than a rollercoaster.
To clarify: "correct" or "wrong" simply does not apply to beliefs - beliefs are opinions we form about the unknown, and as such exist in a realm separate from facts, true or false, right or wrong.

Mind you, a lot of beliefs have turned out to be wrong, of course.
posted by spazzm at 2:27 PM on April 18, 2003


I respect individuals and their choices, but religion always gives you this certain set of blinders. Karl Popper saw Eastern-Bloc communism as dangerous because it saw itself in possession of an ultimate truth. This is not to say that all religion is awful, just that it is historically at its best when divorced from power structures.

Sixtieslibber:
I grew up in such an environment, though I didn't exactly lose anyone that I really cared about. It is a bizarre culture.

konolia:
I am old enough to remember when we read a portion of Scripture and had a little prayer in the morning at school, about the same time we had the Pledge of Allegiance.

Yeah, where I grew up they still do that. It is all wonderful if you are in the 99% majority, but try gowing up as an independent-minded, non-Christian, atheist (gasp!), or even, god forbid, confused teenager 'round those parts. All of these people have the right to worship as they choose, to wear tasteless abortion t-shirts, and to hate me or pity me or whatever, but when those notions begin to dominate the political and basic interpersonal culture of a given swath of land, a lot of important, beautiful, and even "American" institutions will be razed during their ascension.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:34 PM on April 18, 2003


Hate used to have its place. We're changing. Slowly, but we are changing.

In my observation "we" have simply changed the things that are acceptable to hate. We still hate things that are different from us, it's simply that we say we hate people of different skin colors a lot less and say we hate people of different nationalities and ideologies a lot more. We even still call them evil. Hatred doesn't come from religion, but on the other hand it isn't eliminated by it.

Who knows? Maybe, one day, we'll be worthy of religion.

Like our inborn distrust of others, our predisposition to anthropomorphize the universe (whence religion, I believe) is probably a function of the crocodile brains we haven't gotten rid of. In other words, the worst, most primitive parts of us. By the time we're "worthy" of what your definition of religion seems to be, hopefully we'll have gotten rid of it entirely.
posted by Hildago at 2:53 PM on April 18, 2003


Agreed, Hildago - but isn't the whole point of a religion to live it? Even by Christian precepts, God has no use for people who worship and act with an agenda; he's supposed to be on the look out for people who do right simply because it IS right. In that, most religions and secular humanism hold a common belief... if they'd stop biting each other long enough to notice it. Essentially, they're all on the same side, just in different uniforms.

The current wave of xenophobia is bothersome... and something I had hoped we had gotten past. But not everybody is buying into the whole "Axis of Evil"/"French Surrender Monkeys" line the current administration is tub-thumping. We're not seeing those flags in car windows in the amount we used to here 'round 9/11. We're not all on the wartime bandwagon, no matter what the more grating, vocal and violent would have us believe.

I like to think that shows that even when we are offered the easy, primitive line of thinking, we're learning to look beyond it, and to take the higher road. Even when faced with a world of peer pressure.

The protesters of today aren't just the young, as it has been in the past. It's cross-generational. I know it may not mean a damn thing in the end, but I sure like to think that it does.
posted by Perigee at 3:13 PM on April 18, 2003


+:)

(pope emoticon)
posted by clavdivs at 8:17 PM on April 18, 2003


I checked the same dictionary you did, and you forgot to mention that your one entry is the most general of 4 possible

I did mention that my two chosen definitions were only 'two of' the definitions for the word. When one uses a word, one does not have to make its usage adhere to every definition. My usage was as 'journalism' being the act of publishing written material in a credentialed publication. Perfectly valid, yet you seem to be arguing that unless you use a word in its most defined form, its use is invalid. Bizarre.
posted by wackybrit at 12:59 AM on April 19, 2003


"It is a serious thing to put words in the Lord's mouth."

I bet you get REALLY upset by all those "God quotes" billboards then! Correct, konolia? Or were you, as someone offended by the message and not the method? Be honest now, God is listening!

And what about "God's stance" on many current issues? Who gets to decide those? Your shaman or God?
posted by nofundy at 6:23 PM on April 19, 2003


In tomorrow's program - Religion, which is the one true faith?
posted by backOfYourMind at 4:39 AM on April 21, 2003


daveg: Not quite a refutation. While I might be willing to concede that a negative existential proof for a specific god might be possible, to prove that all possible formulations of the concept of 'god' do not exist would require an infinite succession of such arguments, and thus is not practical.

This leads one to the concept of 'god of the gaps;' i.e. proof of god exists where human understanding has not yet penetrated. That's just bad theology, though.
posted by Cerebus at 11:40 AM on April 21, 2003


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