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Bloggingheads
12-24-2007, 11:48 AM

bjkeefe
12-24-2007, 12:41 PM
Nice of Palmer Joss to drop by. (I mean that in a good way.)

Abdicate
12-24-2007, 02:53 PM
There's an insufferable show on NPR called Speaking of Faith which has profiled the equally insufferable Shane Claiborne (http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/newmonastics/unheardcuts.shtml). I can understand Bob (http://www.princeton.edu/~paw/archive_new/PAW05-06/04-1102/Moment_Wright.jpg)'s criteria which might justify inviting certain folks to appear on Bloggingheads...but why these two? They don't blog, do they? Why select these two particular 'faith traditions'? Peter and Chloe are quirkily attractive, granted, and her old man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Breyer) is saintly...but when NPR or Bloggingheads decides to do religion, invariably they find some lefty ecclesiastic and a 'refreshingly lefty' cleric from 'the right'...and the two then spout their mutually-reinforcing lefty political viewpoints...and I ask myself 'why care? Why ought the dog collar (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/07/nvicar107.xml) give such privilege to one's political priorities?

jmcnulty
12-24-2007, 03:34 PM
Brilliant parody of Leftist Christianity from Bloggingheads.tv on Christmas eve. That bit about the guy making his own shoes from recycled bicycle tires was priceless. We now have the answer of where the new "Monty Pythons" are coming.

Twenty-three minutes from clergymen and not one mention of "saving" souls or the majesty of God, only recycling toys and anti-militarism and the usual critique of dead white mailes (who happened to be our Founding Fathers).

Let' see. Did slavery exist in ancient Israel? Did it exist in Jesus' time? Did He speak out against it? Did he march to stop it like Dr. King? Has it (like poor people, whom He mentioned) existed throughout the world since time immemorial? Who led the abolition movement? Christians? Where is slavery practiced today? Muslim countries? Where did the word "slaves" come from? The Muslim taking of Christian "Slavs" as "slaves"?

So we are supposed to meet militant Islam with the "ministry of reconciliation." Too bad we couldn't get word to those trapped in the Twin Towers on September 11. They might have engaged in "reconcilation" instead of jumping.

No wonder the female "priestess" made a joke about there being "few remaining Anglicans." One can bet that this this "movement" is so powerful (the Sixties are coming back) that there will be even fewer Episcopalians next Christmas. I imagine this "priestess" is officiating at mostly funerals these days.

I recently went to an Episcopal church, and the congregation was mostly over 60. Tne number of children, who were brought into the service, could be counted at a few dozen, out of hundreds in the congregation. I think the "priestess" almost said that abortion was a sacrament.

To paraphrase Cardinal Newman, it is more important for the Christian chruch to save ONE soul that to pave ALL the roads in Afghanistan.

Keep up the comedy, Bob Wright.

bjkeefe
12-24-2007, 03:38 PM
jm:

To paraphrase Cardinal Newman, it is more important for the Christian chruch to save ONE soul that to pave ALL the roads in Afghanistan.

That attitude is as succinct an explanation as any for why I left the Church long before I stopped believing in God.

You Christianists kill me. You really do.

jmcnulty
12-24-2007, 03:55 PM
Why am I called a "Christianist" instead of just a "Christian"? Are you assuming that I favor the whole agenda of the religious right? Or it is just a way to deligitimize me like calling someone a glbal warming "denier," just like a holocaust "denier"? Apparently, you favor a denatured version of "Christianity" that endorses your political aganda, but ignores God or the idea of Eternity. If you believe in Eternity, saving one soul is more important that any social aim, like making toys without plastics.

bjkeefe
12-24-2007, 04:41 PM
jm:

Or it is just a way to deligitimize me ...?

Yes. I want to delegitimize you, stigmatize you, and marginalize you.

I call you a Christianist (following Andrew Sullvan) because your attitudes and beliefs are quite different from the teachings of Jesus. You all like to act in his name, and you all love to search out bits of the Bible that reinforce your preconceptions, but on the big issues, you're not acting like Christians; i.e., followers of Christ.

If you think Jesus would have applauded your valuation of one soul over the comfort and safety of thousands of human lives, you really have a warped take on what he cared about.

It's also amazing to me that you claim to believe in an all-powerful God, yet think that he can't handle the whole soul and eternity thing himself.

And to be trumpeting your attitude on this day of all days? I wish I still believed in God, just to be able to contemplate him watching you and shaking his head. Or laughing his ass off.

TwinSwords
12-24-2007, 04:51 PM
Brilliant parody of Leftist Christianity from Bloggingheads.tv on Christmas eve. That bit about the guy making his own shoes from recycled bicycle tires was priceless. We now have the answer of where the new "Monty Pythons" are coming.

Twenty-three minutes from clergymen and not one mention of "saving" souls or the majesty of God, only recycling toys and anti-militarism and the usual critique of dead white mailes (who happened to be our Founding Fathers).

Let' see. Did slavery exist in ancient Israel? Did it exist in Jesus' time? Did He speak out against it? Did he march to stop it like Dr. King? Has it (like poor people, whom He mentioned) existed throughout the world since time immemorial? Who led the abolition movement? Christians? Where is slavery practiced today? Muslim countries? Where did the word "slaves" come from? The Muslim taking of Christian "Slavs" as "slaves"?

So we are supposed to meet militant Islam with the "ministry of reconciliation." Too bad we couldn't get word to those trapped in the Twin Towers on September 11. They might have engaged in "reconcilation" instead of jumping.

No wonder the female "priestess" made a joke about there being "few remaining Anglicans." One can bet that this this "movement" is so powerful (the Sixties are coming back) that there will be even fewer Episcopalians next Christmas. I imagine this "priestess" is officiating at mostly funerals these days.

I recently went to an Episcopal church, and the congregation was mostly over 60. Tne number of children, who were brought into the service, could be counted at a few dozen, out of hundreds in the congregation. I think the "priestess" almost said that abortion was a sacrament.

To paraphrase Cardinal Newman, it is more important for the Christian chruch to save ONE soul that to pave ALL the roads in Afghanistan.

Keep up the comedy, Bob Wright.

Oh look, McNulty is a Mark Steyn fan!

TwinSwords
12-24-2007, 04:55 PM
My feeling is that the Republicans want to make Christmas their own property, the way they have done with patriotism, support for the military, and the entire concept of morality itself. They want to get people thinking, "If you support Christmas, you are a Republican; if you are a Democrat, you oppose Christmas."

McNulty is just making his earnest contribution to ruining Christmas by turning it into a political football.

Plus, as an added bonus, it's one more thing he and privileged white males can whine about. Because Jesus knows they need a lot to whine about. They have big appetites for self-pity.

jmcnulty
12-24-2007, 05:03 PM
I take the comparison to Mark Steyn as high praise indeed. I remember that the Left said that if Bush was elected, we would lose our First Amendment rights. They were right; it's already happening in Canada, where Americans moved to avoid Bush. The tentacles of Rove even stretch into the Great White North. Apparently, the Canadians are trying to shut
steyn up. Thank goodness that Michael Moore is still free to speak.

I have one question for Bjkeefe: What did Jesus say to the woman taken in adultery? Did He tell her to start a Women's Shelter for her oppressed sisters? What did He say when asked by Pilate where his "kingdom" was?

No matter how sincere you may be, you cannot overlook facts. I hope that one day God becomes worthy of your belief. I am sure that He grieves about it now. Oddly enough, He does.

Andrew Sullivan is another comedian whom I "respect." I especially like him on the Bill Maher Show. What an example of a commanding intellect. Both of them, in fact. Sometimes it is hard to tell who is smarter: Andrew's insights or the rapier wit of Bill.

bjkeefe
12-24-2007, 06:09 PM
jm:

As I predicted, you like to cherry-pick the Bible.

As for these being "facts" ... well, no need for what I was about to say.

Have a good Christmas.

Abdicate
12-24-2007, 06:35 PM
It's spelled 'Legos', by the way.

Here's Shane Claiborne (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Shaneclaiborne.jpg) in full self-produced clothing... You too could look this unpretentious, if only you'd try.

bjkeefe
12-24-2007, 06:42 PM
abd:

Agreed about the spelling.

Gotta say, except for the glasses, kinda looks like Jesus to me.

ohcomeon
12-24-2007, 06:55 PM
Oh, these lefty Christians. Why in the world would Bob post something on Christmas Eve with people saying things like; celebrate Christmas by going to church, give generously to the poor, care for the children after birth as well as before birth, and connect to other people and become less isolated? Why wouldn't he want to spread the message that Muslims are evil and dangerous instead? Why can't he remind us that other religions cause all the evil and we should all be very afraid of them? Bob, you should spend less time reading the words of Christ and more time watching Fox news. Then you will understand all the true threats to the really good people.

Baltimoron
12-24-2007, 07:33 PM
jm:



That attitude is as succinct an explanation as any for why I left the Church long before I stopped believing in God.

You Christianists kill me. You really do.

I have to say I loved the Lutheran midnight Christ's Mass, too, and there is something about a good ceremony to get one out of oneself and bonding with others. I have two memories of BCT at Fort Leonard Wood involving Christianity (although not strictly Xmas) that I think impacts on what bjkeefe is talking about here. So bear with me...

Firstly, on two successive Sunday's my battle buddy and I went to each other's denominations. First, we went Lutheran, and my battle buddy was a little out of sorts. The next week, we went to a charismatic service where my battle buddy got up front with a guitar and led the songs, and I was a little out of sorts.

But then, we both realized from after-Church talk that every Sunday people tried to run to Church, the "unbelievers" left in the barracks got stuck with extra duties. But there were many with legitimate problems: some were facing divorce and angry spouses; loneliness; and a whole host of other personal problems BCT was exposing but no helping. So we both decided not to go to church but instead started our own service and talk sessions. We had every denominations represented, including Jewish, and we did more good in the next few weeks than the churches could have. Our squad became a halfway house for near-failures and the solicitous. One guy converted.

I learned that being an insider has benefits, like free therapy and fellowship, but that for those who don't believe it's a bit clannish, with all that liturgy and proclaiming. Our non-denominational services were a happy medium between inside and outside, I could separate belief in God from the need to fit into an organization. I might have certain beliefs, and my own favorite scriptural and non-scriptural support, but listening to and considering others' beliefs and experience is more important than being a total insider.

Since then, I have attended other Lutheran congregations, but never with that feeling I had in the BCT barracks which surpassed anything I recall from childhood. I consider myself ignostic now, a position my family's conservative Lutheranism planted in me. However, I do not believe in one church, or even in Christ's divinity. If I only decide on my deathbed what I believe, I see no problem, because that does not impede action based on charity. Not only do the generations interpret their religious needs differently, but so does each circle of fellowship, which is ultimately the nation, and the human race.

Let's just abolish Christianity!

Allan
12-24-2007, 09:24 PM
The BBC managed to do better than Bob for their Christmas Eve programming.
They replayed a long interview with Richard Dawkins (several times).
Hopefully, Bob will not let himself be outdone by them next year.

breadcrust
12-24-2007, 10:28 PM
I bet it's a lot easier for Christians to convert the heathens if they come to the heathens bearing better technology and infrastructure (polio vaccines, road pavers). It seems like separating the ideas is stupid. Also, it leads to this crazy idea which serious religionists seem to avoid: what if you're wrong and there is no deity? Now you've spent your entire life trying to teach heathens to pray to their personal savior when what they actually needed to improve what (real) lives they had was an Enlightenment.

Of course, based on my nightmarish religious upbringing (by which I mean as a milquetoast Baptist) most religionists think most people are going to hell. However, "unborn babies" don't go to hell. So if the average person has only, say... one chance in two of going to heaven, the clear choice for a real Christian would be to abort any and all (as many as possible) unborn babies, because the deity doesn't send unborn babies to hell. Sure, the aborter would go to hell for killing babies, but probably to the saint level because the killing was ultimately for the good. So there'd be some compensation.

Finally, here's five minutes of the Pat Robertson and Co. which gets steadily funnier for the first three minutes. Plus it has some amazingly hot girls in prayer centers doing what they do best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5S38LpMgu0&eurl=http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/

awm34
12-24-2007, 10:52 PM
What a bunch of cynics commenting on this edition of bloggingheads.tv! I'm a near atheist who finds the manifest purity and innocence of Chloe and Peter compelling. I commend Bob Wright for this choice.

Baltimoron
12-24-2007, 11:40 PM
What a bunch of cynics commenting on this edition of bloggingheads.tv! I'm a near atheist who finds the manifest purity and innocence of Chloe and Peter compelling.

That's the difference between a socratic and a fideistic view of living. Belief is the beginning of thinking, not an end in itself. I can't even imagine purity and innocence.

DenvilleSteve
12-25-2007, 02:19 AM
What a bunch of cynics commenting on this edition of bloggingheads.tv! I'm a near atheist who finds the manifest purity and innocence of Chloe and Peter compelling. I commend Bob Wright for this choice.

Their smugness was overwhelming. The nerve of them to both a.) assume their's was the true message of Christmas and b.) spend the majority of the time in the diavlog attacking conservative christians. Quoting Jesus, they see the speck in their neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in their own.

Chloe says others should care more for the children already born. She should instead have spoken to her own thinking and preaching on the killing of unborn children.

Just what is the net worth of Chloe's church and its parishioners? I suspect it is very high. Instead of scolding others for their consumption habits, question first the decisions of the organization you are a part of to not distribute more of what they have to the poor. What would Jesus do?

Chloe was appearing on the diavlog channel before an audience of majority God deniers. A great opportunity lost to preach the message of God's existance and love.

Presumably Peter and Chloe support open or increased immigration for the poor into America. Do they acknowledge any limits on the number of poor people that Americans should be helping?

Is it permissible according to their version of Christianity that the US military takes the war on terror fight to the enemy?

Epicurus
12-25-2007, 05:56 AM
These two seem like very nice people but I can't help feel sad that a big part of their lives revolve around believing certain mythological fables actually happened.

Epicurus
12-25-2007, 06:01 AM
If you believe in Eternity, saving one soul is more important that any social aim, like making toys without plastics.

This is why people who have no religion and/or don't believe in god are scared of your views. Especially when you can't justify them and say its faith.

Epicurus
12-25-2007, 06:09 AM
No matter how sincere you may be, you cannot overlook facts. I hope that one day God becomes worthy of your belief.

Haha. I am sorry but you almost made me pee my pants. You are quoting something from the bible and you mentioned "you cannot overlook facts". I know it is a fact that the stuff you mentioned in the bible is in the bible so its a fact it's in the bible but I still got a chuckle from it.

Bible facts. A great oxymoronic phrase for Christmas :-D

bkjazfan
12-25-2007, 12:14 PM
This was a joke! One was a priest and the other a theology professor. One would think with all their education and training they would have something more substantive to say than just a bunch of tired, liberal claptrap.

Next time I suggest you don't have these two together again. At least have the other theologian be of a traditional or more conservative bent.

InJapan
12-25-2007, 01:20 PM
Commendations to B.W. for doing the experiments on bhtv... not to say I am very thrilled (or even interested) with this outcome, but it is good to try new faces.

As for the topics discussed by the two... it is no wonder they elicited the comments that I read above, for this vblog/blog/tv (what btw do we call these things these days?) was full of everything but... a real discussion of Christmas or the proposed subject of said holiday (i.e., birth of Christ.)

It would have been more interesting, at least to me, to have a Kwanzaa celebrator discussing with a practicing Jew (who celebrated Hanukkah) on how they live in a culture (excepting of course for that part of our culture which is undertaking the alleged war on Christmas) that is still nominalizing a pagan celebration (winter solstice) into a Christian holiday.

At least more of the bases would have been covered...

Oh, one more thing... as it is Christmas... Merry Christmas to all.

InJapan
12-25-2007, 01:49 PM
And yet one more thing... an idea for you if you want to do something like this next year...

Why not have one of these two, say Chloe, pair up with say John Horgan or even better yet James Pinkerton. Have the devil's advocate ask of Chloe "So, sell me on Christmas. Why should I celebrate Christmas and not just the solstice or the New Year?" ... and see what happens.

The great question for either Chloe or Peter is... why should anyone listen (believe) you? I don't mean that as a way of implying that neither are famous or anything derogatory at all, but simply on the face of it... and not just regarding the Christmas story, but of the topics they raised in this diavlog.

It is one thing to try and do the feel good, smarmy thing... and it is quite another to try and convince someone else of the importance of doing what you preach. For example, worrying about whether Legos are made of plastic or not does not (I believe) fall under the "... and they shall know you by your fruit..." clause...

On this I think Jim would be a good inquisitor for these two...

Baltimoron
12-25-2007, 04:27 PM
No one can has convinced me self-interest alone suffices without signing up for the entire Christian project.

Not much ecumenism here either, especially that between religions, not just denominations.

Baltimoron
12-25-2007, 06:39 PM
I just found this great Goethe quote I have to share:

...I have found no confession of faith to which I could ally myself without reservation. Now in my old age, however, I have learned of a sect, the Hypsistarians, who, hemmed in between heathens, Jews and Christians, declared that they would treasure, admire, and honour the best, the most perfect that might come to their knowledge, and inasmuch as it must have a close connection to the Godhead, pay it reverence. A joyous light thus beamed at me suddenly out of a dark age, for I had the feeling that all my life I had been aspiring to qualify as a Hypsistarian. That, however, is no small task, for how does one, in the limitations of one's individuality, come to know what is most excellent?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Wolfgang_von_Goethe

BTW, in Busan, ROK, where I now live, Christmas is mostly a day off from work and a romantic holiday rivaling Valentine's Day. There has been some movement toward commercialization in the last few years also in what is East Asia's most populous Protestant Christian country (the RP takes the prize for Catholicism, which also has a sizable community in ROK).

Simon Willard
12-25-2007, 10:52 PM
Given that so many of our commenter friends profess atheism, I'm wondering why there are so few comments posted on Christmas day.

Happy Holidays,
SW

bjkeefe
12-25-2007, 11:23 PM
Simon:

Speaking as one of those atheists, I would say that (1) there was no diavlog today and (2) yesterday's was ... I guess uninspiring would be the polite way to put it.

I'm also guessing that even atheists have family distractions at this time of year.

Baltimoron
12-26-2007, 12:08 AM
Given that so many of our commenter friends profess atheism, I'm wondering why there are so few comments posted on Christmas day.

The atheist rap might be overblown. But, thanks to the godless State, we all can have a day off, get completely shit-faced, and watch little kids open gifts all day, without having to present Christian ID. However, it seems whoever is sponsoring bhTV is exerting some influence over the diavlog pairings. bhTV represents less of the diversity of the blogosphere, and more of the mainstream punditocracy and religious establishment.

Baltimoron
12-26-2007, 04:29 AM
Why am I called a "Christianist" instead of just a "Christian"? Are you assuming that I favor the whole agenda of the religious right? Or it is just a way to deligitimize me like calling someone a glbal warming "denier," just like a holocaust "denier"? Apparently, you favor a denatured version of "Christianity" that endorses your political aganda, but ignores God or the idea of Eternity. If you believe in Eternity, saving one soul is more important that any social aim, like making toys without plastics.

I sort of feel like I'm debating with myself here, but E.J. Dionne left this nibbler in TNR (http://www.tnr.com/story_print.html?id=34dbecb9-bf9b-44c5-a0dc-c5d270f81c1f) (and probably at WaPo):

The Christian message is frequently drained of this larger meaning and interpreted, often by Christians themselves, as being solely or primarily about personal salvation. But this sells the tradition short.

Last month, Pope Benedict XVI issued a fascinating encyclical on the idea of Christian hope in which he explicitly disputed the idea of "the Christian project as a selfish search for salvation which rejects the idea of serving others." Drawing on the theologian Henri de Lubac, Benedict argued that "salvation has always been considered a 'social' reality."

The tradition of hope, he says, asserts both the obligation and the ability of "every generation" to engage "anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs" and to discover "the proper use of human freedom." Seen this way, hope is a promise but also a challenge. It does not guarantee success in human affairs. It only insists that success is possible.

If the long march of Exodus and the resurrection on Easter preach hope on a grand scale, the Christmas story is a far quieter tale that "usually gets far more attention than its role in the New Testament warrants," as the Anglican bishop and biblical scholar N.T. Wright has noted.

But there is the religious interest in the incarnation and the natural interest in birth. "The kingdom of peace comes through a child," writes the German theologian Jurgen Moltmann, "and liberation is bestowed on the people who become as children: disarmingly defenseless, disarming through their defenselessness, and making others defenseless because they themselves are so disarming."

A naive view, perhaps, but surprisingly realistic since the best defense often requires us to drop our own defensiveness. This act of trust is made possible by hope, which in turn is the precondition for reform, renewal and redemption. Without hope, none of it is even worth trying.


The idea of human freedom, if not exactly defined in a modern way or even protected by successive Christian organizations, is a kernel worth keeping. Without sounding Mormon or Marxist, the social aspect of the biblical message does have currency, although I'd rather listen to an evolutionary explanation, or about Adam Smith's sentiments. And, living as an expat in a culture where State power is all-encompassing, a little Tolstoy-inspired anarchy is welcome, especially when Korean Protestants take their persecution as a religious minority for the license to flaunt their wealth, proselytize among wealthy people, and exclude non-Christians. It's conceivable that western society could have been more tyrannical than it was during many periods.

garbagecowboy
12-26-2007, 01:03 PM
I personally can report that I was happily at both a Christmas party on night of the 24th with many fun-loving, God-fearing Christians. After that I went out and drank some more with some old friends when the first party broke up so most of the attendants could attend midnight mass.

And then on Xmas I went back to the same Christians' house and we got boozed up again, sang Xmas carols, smoked cigars, played poker and then some drinking games.

Also I exchanged gifts with some of the most important people in my life. Who cares if there's no God, having some time set aside during the part of the year where the days are the shortest for re-connecting with people you don't get to see that often, family, and old friends and showing that you care and spending quality time together is a wonderful thing, indeed.

jmcnulty
12-26-2007, 06:05 PM
What a bleak world is inhabited by many atheists, judging by the commetns here on Bloggingheads.tv.

First, the inimitable BjKeefe talks about "Christianists" and "the comfort of many" being so much more valuable than the saving on one soul. Your quarrel is not so much with me as with Cardinal Newman, the 19th Century British literary figure. Are you contending that you know more about litarature or the Christian religion than Cardinal Newman, who was so respected that he converted and still became a Cardinal of the Catholic church? The fact is that under the Christian religion saving one soul is more important than anything. The Salvic message of Christ makes him more than a mere "philosopher" (in the opinion of Bush) or even a "Prophet" (in the opinion of Osama Bin Laden) preparing the way for Mohammed.

He also contends, rather than answer my simple questions, that I have "cherry-picked" the Bible. Cite any passage in direct opposition to the answer to any questions that I have posed. The fact is that your only interest in Christianity is to co-op it to your political agenda. Like the "Priestess" and the deshevaled religion professor in the video blog, you only seem interested in a Christianity stripped of anything to believe in besides "compassion." It is useful to you only to the extent that it advances your political goals. What Jesus said to Pilate is exactly on point here. The life of Jesus is more than the Surmon on the Mount. Exactly why did Jesus, who as he said could have called forth legions of angels with a word, submit to crucifiction?

TwinSwords writes: How dare those Christians think that Christmas belongs to them? I am not aware of anyone trying to restrict the observance of Christmas to believing Christians (not even that noted philosopher Bill "Loofah" O'Reilly). But it is a Christian holiday. How dare those Jews to think that Passover somehow beongs to them. How dare those Muslims to think that Ramadan belongs to them. How silly to make such an argument.

Abdicate points out a photograph on the internet of Steve Claiborne, who makes his own shoes and clothes. So let's see. His compassion extends so far as to deny garnent workers in the Third World their jobs. I guess that the same could be said of those producing shoes in China. And for this he gets the great pleasure going around looking like an escaped mental patient. The best thing is that he had made sure that everyone knows that his clothes and shoes are "hand-made," so he gets the pleasure of receiving everyone's admiration (one would think that a serious Christian would let know one except God know of his "sacrifice"). As a result, those garment workers and shoe producers in China remain jobless recipients of our handouts so that we also get the pleasure of feeling "compassionate." Explain to me again who really benefits in all this? Tell me again what taking away garment workers' jobs in the Third World so that we can all make our own clothes and shoes and look like escaped mental patients has to do with Christianity?

Baltemoron cannot even imagine "purity and innocence." The point is not that Christians are perfect (I too find Pat Robertson funny), but that Christians are forgiven (and all need to be). That is the primary difference between Christianity and Judaism and Islam. A world without
"purity and innocence" is bleak indeed. Not that there are not disappointments in life. Far from it. But there is a reason why Jesus was born as a helpless baby (true "purity and innocence") and that he is known as the Light of the World.

Epicurus claims that I am scared of others' views. This is untrue. Christianity is a volitional religion. The idea of forced conversion (as in the Morano Jews of Spain in the 1600's) is anathema to me and Christians today. Jesus said, "Knock and the door shall be opened." In fact, Catholics preach of the need for "internal assent" to become a Christian. Compare Islam where the words of the shahada are paramount, regardless of "internal belief." The Christian French soldiers who stormed the mosque in Saudi Arabia in 1979 were administered the shahada in the air because they could not set foot in Saudi Arabia until they "became" Muslims. Something similar hapened recently when Steve Centani of Fox News was taken captive by the Palestinians. He was released when he "became" a Muslim. Back on the air in Washington, he has ignored answering whether he is still a Muslim.

The bumptious Gargagecowboy also says that the phrase "Bible facts" is an oxymoron and gratiously gives it a "grade" of "D-." That is fine by me. Whether or not God exists does not depend on wherther or not we believe in Him. I remember a cartoon: Nietzsche -- "God is dead." God -- "Neitzsche is dead." Who is right? If you disbelieve that Jesus was born in a stable and that he was crucified on a cross, why do you bother with believing that we should help the poor? Doesn't one thing depend upon another? He was either telling the truth -- going around saying that he was the Saviour -- or he was an insane religious fanatic with delusions of grandeur. Which is it? You have freedom of choice. No one is going to prosecute you for unbelief. No one in Christianity, that is.

He also says "Who cares if there is no God." No one cares as a legal matter. He adds that being with friends and familly at Christmas time is a wonderful thing. Why? We could just as easily have a long weekend and still be with friends and family. Any "holiday" would do. Call if "Festivus" or "Kwanza" or the "Winter Soltice Festival." Why participate in something that you condemn?

bjkeefe
12-26-2007, 10:43 PM
jmcnulty:

First, the inimitable BjKeefe ...

Hey! My first blurb! Thanks!

What a bleak world is inhabited by many atheists, judging by the commetns here on Bloggingheads.tv.

It certainly is a bleak world in some ways, JM, not least of which is having to share the planet with Christianists like you.

Cite any passage in direct opposition to the answer to any questions that I have posed.

... the Surmon on the Mount.

Good answer. Maybe if you could spell it, you could look it up and read it.

Epicurus
12-27-2007, 12:22 AM
Epicurus claims that I am scared of others' views. This is untrue.


You should have stopped there. It is untrue. I never claimed that. What I typed was "This is why people who have no religion and/or don't believe in god are scared of your views. Especially when you can't justify them and say its faith." I am saying that when you espouse views based on a 2,000 year old book and back it up with faith you expect these views to be taken seriously. You think faith is as good a reason to believe something is true as evidence and logic.

This is what scares me about people who value faith. Plenty of Muslims have faith that their book is magic also. Both put forward faith and both reject each other. I reject them both and think the trump card should be evidence.

Silly me.



? If you disbelieve that Jesus was born in a stable and that he was crucified on a cross, why do you bother with believing that we should help the poor?


You think Jesus was the first person ever who helped the poor?


Doesn't one thing depend upon another? He was either telling the truth -- going around saying that he was the Saviour -- or he was an insane religious fanatic with delusions of grandeur. Which is it? You have freedom of choice. No one is going to prosecute you for unbelief. No one in Christianity, that is.


Ah the trilemma? I prefer the quadrilemma. Lord, Liar, Lunatic and what is the most important one LEGEND.

Jesus may have existed and we have much more evidence for other individuals of the time the of Jesus. This matters not. It matters if you want accurate history but it doesn't matter in terms of his godhood. If he existed so what. If he was a real person it doesn't make his divinity real.

Ancient historian Richard Carrier has argued that the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus was a better moral teacher than Jesus. Among other things, Carrier cites Rufus' belief in equality for slaves and his belief that "freedom of speech means not suppressing whatever one chances to think."

Read this http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Jesus#Morals_of_Jesus

Simon Willard
12-27-2007, 12:29 AM
GC, I accept your explanation and I confess to the sin of snarkiness in my earlier post.

Baltimoron
12-27-2007, 12:33 AM
Baltemoron cannot even imagine "purity and innocence." The point is not that Christians are perfect (I too find Pat Robertson funny), but that Christians are forgiven (and all need to be). That is the primary difference between Christianity and Judaism and Islam. A world without "purity and innocence" is bleak indeed. Not that there are not disappointments in life. Far from it. But there is a reason why Jesus was born as a helpless baby (true "purity and innocence") and that he is known as the Light of the World.

Firstly, it's "Baltimoron" (my home town thanks you!)

More importantly, thanks for pointing out the salient reason most intelligent people have a problem with organizations, whether religious or otherwise. It's the "differences". In the process of differentiating oneself, one cannot help but be disrespectful towards others. Why not just say it: Christians are better because they are different. It's because of Christ. One can only be so ecumenical. To say nothing of the nauseating train of metaphors you manged to string together without once referring to reality.

Also, psychologically and interpersonally, intelligent people who have lived long enough to make a mistake don't need a religion to inculcate "forgiveness". And, intelligent people don't need forgiveness handed out with the promise of heaven so easily. It would be far more useful for pastors to ladle out the forgiveness at the end of the service than at the beginning, so the sheep don't begin to expect it. Passing around the plate afterwards also doesn't look too good either. I honestly hope there are a number of people going to that heaven or to that hell, because not being able to get in makes me feel much better about not sticking around for eternity, one way or another!

Finally, it has been said here before, but I don't care how many Hollywood movies show it, but there's no account of Jesus' corporeal reanimation before ascension to heaven. And, no amount of "faith" can transmute flesh to spirit.

Epicurus was right: after death, what does it matter, because I won't be what I am right now.

Epicurus
12-27-2007, 12:35 AM
Also we could go into the evolutionary explanation of morals and altruism but Bob Wright of bloggingheads.tv has a whole book about it. The Moral Animal. Go read it, it's great.

Baltimoron
12-27-2007, 01:02 AM
Good point, Epicurus!

Who needs Christianity when there's enlightened self-interest!

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 12:36 PM
jm:

I am also moved to ask: If saving one soul is more important than than improving a hundred lives, why do you spend so much time agitating about political affairs? Instead of trying to build support for your program of deporting Muslims as a group, shouldn't you be trying spending all your time trying to convert them one at a time?

jmcnulty
12-27-2007, 01:26 PM
Your snarky comment is beside the point. There are many Christian outreaches to Muslims. I heve not said that ALL Muslims should be converted. I was only asked what I would do (beside waging worldwide war against Islam), and I answered. It seems to me that something besides (1) doing nothing and (2) waging worldwide war ought to be found as a "solution." Otherwise, our grandchildren will be facing this problem. Obviously, you have not read the writings of the Islamists. It is easy to dismiss them as cranks and extremists, but we are STILL dealing with the consequences of Sayyid Qtub, who died 40 years ago. The recent assassination of Benezir Bhutto should give one pause when one considers Ayman Al-Zawahiri with nukes and the fact the Osama Bin Laden has ready obtained a "fatwa" allowing the killing of 10 million American civilians. I don't want to see antheists OR Christians incinerated. At some point, secularists will realize that Christians are not the enemy.

garbagecowboy
12-27-2007, 01:36 PM
The bumptious Gargagecowboy also says that the phrase "Bible facts" is an oxymoron and gratiously gives it a "grade" of "D-." That is fine by me. Whether or not God exists does not depend on wherther or not we believe in Him. I remember a cartoon: Nietzsche -- "God is dead." God -- "Neitzsche is dead." Who is right? If you disbelieve that Jesus was born in a stable and that he was crucified on a cross, why do you bother with believing that we should help the poor? Doesn't one thing depend upon another? He was either telling the truth -- going around saying that he was the Saviour -- or he was an insane religious fanatic with delusions of grandeur. Which is it? You have freedom of choice. No one is going to prosecute you for unbelief. No one in Christianity, that is.

He also says "Who cares if there is no God." No one cares as a legal matter. He adds that being with friends and familly at Christmas time is a wonderful thing. Why? We could just as easily have a long weekend and still be with friends and family. Any "holiday" would do. Call if "Festivus" or "Kwanza" or the "Winter Soltice Festival." Why participate in something that you condemn?

I wasn't the person that said "Bible facts" are an oxymoron. I think that was Wolfgangus.

As for why Christmas is a fun time for an atheist like me, it's because I was raised in a family where my parents were raised in different religions (one a Catholic and one a Jew) and both were unbelievers well before they had children. I never had any form of religious instruction, religion was never discussed in my household, and I became an atheist as a matter of course, not because I was indoctrinated into it. However, despite the fact that we are a family of heathen unbelievers, we did celebrate Christmas as a family for my whole life.

Believe it or not, but Christmas has become for many people a cultural festival as well as a religious holiday. Look at how they celebrate it in East Asia, for instance. Most Japanese are not believing Christians, yet Christmas there is a huge festival.

And sure, we could get together on any given weekend, but my family and those of my close family friends are like many American families far-flung about the whole country due to the historical mobility of Americans following jobs to various parts of the country. As a result, it is not just another weekend dinner party or something; the cultural as well as religious traditions in my family and those of other families and friends that I am close to draw together people who I don't get a chance to see for most of the rest of the year. In addition, the cultural rituals-- the tree, the gift-exchange, the caroling, the egg-nog-- hold sentimental value even if I do not believe (like many of the people with whom I celebrated) that Jesus was God's son who came to earth 2000 years ago.

Christmas time is one of my favorite times of the year; certainly the best part of the winter, which I consider to be in general the most dreary and gloomy part of the year. Sure, we can get the family together for a long weekend at the beach, but even for an atheist, Christmas can hold a special place in your emotional life. I certainly don't mind public celebrations of Christmas, and I certainly don't begrudge any believers the spiritual meaning they find in the holiday. It just doesn't have to hold that for me in order for it to be a special time of year.

And I most certainly don't "condemn" Christmas. I love Christmas. I just don't believe in God.

Happy New Year!

garbagecowboy
12-27-2007, 02:08 PM
This post was the first I had hear of Bhutto's assassination. This is a tragedy and a huge disaster; Pakistan was already in a state of turmoil, and this will certainly destabilize things more.

As a "secularist" I personally can avow that I don't think Christians are my "enemy." They are a powerful political interest group whose policies I disagree with strongly, but then again so are the progressives.

The Islamist extremists who wreak havoc all over the world, kill and maim innocent civilians, and would like to kill as many Americans as possible, they are clearly an enemy, and they must be captured or killed.

I'm sure you and I agree more closely on how to deal with the Islamist threat than most of the posters on the board.

On the other hand, for most Americans who don't live in or around New York or Washington D.C. or Los Angeles or Chicago or near a large city at all the possibility of being killed in a terrorist attack is virtually nil. For those of us who do live in areas likely to be targeted by terrorists, the threat is real and dangerous; if some religious nutcase ends up murdering me in a terrorist attack he will almost certainly be an Islamist. But on the other hand, for people who are atheists, the possibility of having to live with laws they strongly disagree with that were generated by political pressure from politically powerful Evangelical Christians is much less remote.

However, I think with the fact that for the foreseeable future the Congress and I bet the Presidency will be controlled by Democrats should allay these fears somewhat.

But the two things are separate; the progressives disagree (and in some cases) hate those who are supporting laws based on a faith they see as imaginary and based on magical thinking. To me, only the hard-core peacenik left does not see radical Islam as a threat, although the degree and manner in which we as Americans believe we must engage the threat varies widely.

So in summation, you should not be surprised that your ideas are being met with skepticism and dismissal in this forum; the demographic is largely progressive atheists. Amongst us atheists, there are varying degrees of animosity towards people of faith in general. I personally probably disagree strongly with many of the things you think the government should do. However, I am friends with a lot of Christians whose religious and political believes I disagree with strongly, just as I am friends with a bunch of atheist lefties whose political beliefs I disagree with strongly. Radical Islam is, to me, anyways, a whole 'nother thing. Fortunately for us Americans, there is not much of a domestic constituency for radical Islam, as there is in Europe.

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 02:40 PM
GC:

To me, only the hard-core peacenik left does not see radical Islam as a threat, although the degree and manner in which we as Americans believe we must engage the threat varies widely.

I'd probably agree with that, although there are some, like me for instance, who aren't "hard-core peaceniks," who insist that the threat is wildly exaggerated, partly because of xenophobia and partly because of opportunistic politicking. I know you said "degree," but I wanted to emphasize this point.

I also think it's more useful to see the threat principally as a recognition that there are people who are anti-American, who are willing to use violence to express this. Obsessing over the fact that some of them identify their movement with a religion, or use that religion to justify their actions and exhort their troops, is a mistake. For one thing, it results in an aggravation of an "us versus them" mentality. The more we talk about "fighting Islam" or even "fighting radical Islam," the easier it is for rabble-rousers to create sympathy among moderate Muslims, just by saying "America hates Islam."

For another, it distracts people in the US from asking what else might be causing the level of violence directed against the US. This means that we don't critically examine a lot of foreign policy decisions that might tend to piss people off, no matter what their religion might be.

There is little doubt in my mind that much of the resentment of the US by people in the Middle East is far more complex in origin than the idea that they hate us for being infidels. There is no doubt in my mind that we have inflamed these resentments over the past half-decade by acting as though "you're either with us or against us" is a sufficient foundation for foreign policy.

I'm not saying there is no terrorist problem, or that it's all our fault, or that Islam isn't part of what motivates some of the terrorists. I am saying it's stupid to think of the situation solely as a battle against Islamic terrorists.

jummy
12-27-2007, 04:21 PM
this has become an established theme amongst radical left gentrifiers in off-campus housing.

it seems they move into a workingclass neighborhood in search of cultural authenticity (cheap rent) and immediately identify an asthma epidemic which no medical services previously established there had the acumen to percieve, and which only seems to express itself amongst preteen populations. a nearby factory, factory-like building, or close facsimile thereof is quickly identified as the culprit, and becomes the lens through which the progressives inflict their benevolence upon the local community.

"these racist factories are killing your kids!!!!!!!1111one!!eleventy!!111!!!!"

coincidentally, combatting "environmental racism" is a platform plank of the green party and everywhere a low-rent white hipster enclave develops, there just happens to be some structure within a ten-mile radius that either is or at least looks like a smokestack!

in the pilsen neighborhood of chicago, for instance, there is business which produces large steel castings. when they quench the steel, large plumes of steam are produced and exhausted from a chimeny. but progressives, who believe that people who are browner or poorer than they are stupid, have decided that this steam iis in fact "smoke", and a toxic, asthma-causing smoke at that.

the foregoing is offered as just one example of the phantom asthma crisis. other instances of white slummers' targetting of urban workingclass communities with allinski-ite fear-mongering may be genuine. but for the most part it's their flouridated water. or worse than that, because the pushers of the asthma nonsence know they'rer just pulling stuff out of their butts.

of course once such a community establishes itself within the neighborhood, galleries open, storefronts selling "fair trade" merchandise and cafe's open up. when a resale boutique is able to sustain itself for two quarters consecutively, the community makes the transformation from one which suffers from phantom asthma to one which suffers from "gentrification". "gentrification" - the process by which long-standing land owners are reconstructed as malevolent intruders by white middleclass carpetbaggers - is the final stage of a white progressive hipster enclave before it becomes "yuppy".

garbagecowboy
12-27-2007, 05:22 PM
I am saying it's stupid to think of the situation solely as a battle against Islamic terrorists.

What is it, then, exactly?

If by it's not "solely a battle" that you mean that we have to win their hearts and minds then that's true (although we disagree I'm sure to what extent), but Islamic terrorists are the main national security threat against American interests that we are currently dealing with.

Yes, the growing tensions with Russia and China are disconcerting, but I think that the growing economic interdependence of the global economy makes intentional nation-state versus nation-state royal rumbles like we saw in the 20th century extremely unlikely, despite the fact that China is doing things like practicing how to destroy American military satellites. I just can't see the Chinese going to war and nuking their economy over something as relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things as say, the Taiwan issue.

And then you've got your rogue nations like North Korea and Cuba and Iran, but I think that North Korea's nukes are mostly a (very dangerous, borderline insane) bargaining chip, and similar to China, I just don't think Iran would commit national suicide by doing something war-like and crazy; and in purely self-defense terms if they were, it would be aimed at Israel, not the U.S.

So I suppose I concede that Islamic terrorists are not the only danger in a dangerous world, but in terms of national security, they are the ones who have little to lose and a perverse world-view for pretty much no reason makes killing American civilians seem like a good thing. Given the opportunity, they are the only threat on the radar screen that would do something nuts like, you know, destroy a bunch of skyscrapers full of civilians.

So maybe you could clarify what you mean.

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 07:03 PM
GC:


So maybe you could clarify what you mean.

I tried, a couple of times, but it felt like I was just repeating the points I had expressed earlier. If I think of a new way to expound, I'll try to remember to come back to this thread. Sorry I wasn't clear enough the first time.

garbagecowboy
12-27-2007, 07:37 PM
No worries, mate.

TwinSwords
12-27-2007, 08:42 PM
TwinSwords writes: How dare those Christians think that Christmas belongs to them? I am not aware of anyone trying to restrict the observance of Christmas to believing Christians (not even that noted philosopher Bill "Loofah" O'Reilly). But it is a Christian holiday. How dare those Jews to think that Passover somehow beongs to them. How dare those Muslims to think that Ramadan belongs to them. How silly to make such an argument.

You have completely misrepresented what I said. Was this an inadvertent error on your part? Or are you being dishonest?

For the record, I said Republicans not Christians are trying to take ownership of Christmas.

Epicurus
12-28-2007, 05:49 AM
The recent assassination of Benezir Bhutto should give one pause when one considers Ayman Al-Zawahiri with nukes and the fact the Osama Bin Laden has ready obtained a "fatwa" allowing the killing of 10 million American civilians. I don't want to see antheists OR Christians incinerated. At some point, secularists will realize that Christians are not the enemy.
.

You don't think this was ordered by Musharraf? Who the US government supports and funds.