Monday, September 22, 2014

Theological academia on humanity

Marriage and sexual intercourse are not equivalent terms for the paradigm of ‘male and female’. If they were, then the corresponding understanding of human nature would be exclusivist. It would place those male–female relations in which neither marriage nor coitus is a part into a subordinate position and the humanity of all those unable or choosing not to enter such relations in question. The elderly, the impotent, the widowed, the celibate, the hermaphrodite, the transsexual, the deformed and handicapped, and the homosexual would have their humanity and the humanity of their interrelationships denied them. The creation narratives do afford some special status to procreative, and therefore potent, heterosexual relations; however, procreation is construed as a blessing which is bestowed not primarily on individuals but on the species so that it can continue through generation. In short, this way of understanding the image provides no basis for the exclusion of the homosexual, the single and the variously infertile from the image.
Luke (who I've been talking with often on this blog) posted this elsewhere as an example, I think, of thoughtful and thought-provoking discourse on the subjective of gay marriage. His comment was that some conservatives would no doubt find even this passage objectionable.

I could go on about why this is the case, but I'll just skip to a central point: this 'excluding these people from humanity' line is, put frankly, a load. No, these people are not having 'their humanity' stripped from them. 'Their interrelationships'? Rather depends on what in the hell that means, as the modern academic is typically incapable of talking about sex in a way that makes it easy to linguistically tell "fucking" apart from "holding hands". In fairness, conservative Christians are often the same way, likely for different reasons.

Perhaps the best, if fastest, response is that one way to actually deny someone their 'humanity' is to treat their handicap as something other than a handicap. When the deaf person is viewed as 'functioning normally' - that there is nothing about them, physically, which is in need of healing, which has gone awry - we really are denying them their humanity in a relevant way, precisely by failing to recognize where they stand as humans. It's a bit like convincing a fallen being that they, in fact, are not fallen after all. This may make them feel better - even better than they felt back when they thought they were, in fact, fallen or handicapped in some way - but it's still a kind of robbery.

Blunter still would be this response: few people involved in this debate give much of a shit about 'relationships' or even 'love*'. It's the fucking that drives the debate, thank you. Always has, always will. Tell the a GLAAD activist that you have no problem with two men loving each other, so long as they sexually abstain, and do not expect to find an ally in your proclaimed position. Expect some fury.

(* I'm reminded of a Sam Kinison line. Paraphrased: "I've had a change of heart about sex recently. I don't believe in just having sex for pleasure, no, I think you should only have sex when you're in love. ... Now, it may be for a very short fucking time..!")

Edit: Also, Luke - beg pardon for my coarse language here. Not intended to be offensive to you. I just happened upon this and wasn't too enamored with the tone. Longstanding dislike of mine on this topic.

75 comments:

Andrew W said...

I agree with the above.

But there is another aspect: roles bring both responsibilities and privileges.

For example:
- you need a license to drive a car
- ambulance drivers get to ignore many road rules under certain conditions
- sporting teams often segregate by sex
- professionals (e.g. doctor, masseur) working with certain single-sex groups sometimes must be of the same sex, regardless of ability
- we usually want a spokesman (as opposed to an advocate) for a group to be a member of the group

Some of the above discriminations are functional, while others are symbolic. All are legitimate in their place. Providing special privileges doesn't (necessarily) make those to whom those are applied less human.

Now, let's imagine that "married couples with (their own) children" are a "special" class in society, due to their unique role in propagating society. Either their role matters (in which case special treatment is appropriate) or it doesn't (in which case not). Applying special privilege doesn't dehumanise those not in this role, but it might provide incentive for them to join in.

Even so, being unable to join in doesn't represent an injustice. It's not unjust that I (as a male) will never bear a child. It's also not unjust that I (as male without any exceptional physical abilities) will never be able to earn an olympic medal. It's also not unjust that I (as a relatively smart male) have employment opportunities that others don't. Sometimes we miss out on things because of factors beyond our control; this isn't injustice, and it doesn't necessarily make us less human.

It's the classic problem of "equality of outcome". It can be a useful check, but applied as a truism it encourages everyone to minimise rather than utilise their potential.

Crude said...

Sounds about right. But then the sort of people who will be furious at the existence of an all-male organization will many times turn around and explain condescendingly why it's just as important that all-female organizations be allowed to exist, even while all-male organizations are forbidden.

I don't think 'justice' means much to some people. It's just an appeal to a rule, often imaginary, in a way to get what they want. If what they wanted was considered universally to be unjust, the new move would be to question what value 'justice' has anyway.

Luke said...

I could go on about why this is the case, but I'll just skip to a central point: this 'excluding these people from humanity' line is, put frankly, a load.

I'm sorry, but I've seen it happen, by a Foursquare church in LA that wasn't like Westborough Baptist Church. A friend of a friend identifies as lesbian and got booted from the church because her lesbian-ness was "considered disruptive"; said lesbian noted that she was treated as her sexual orientation, instead of first as a human being. For example, she was never invited to a Bible study, something which pained her. She just wanted to be treated as someone normal—a sinner, just like everyone else. But she wasn't. And so, I compare your "a load" with empirical evidence, and find the latter more convincing.

'Their interrelationships'? Rather depends on what in the hell that means, as the modern academic is typically incapable of talking about sex in a way that makes it easy to linguistically tell "fucking" apart from "holding hands".

This is where you ask for clarification, instead of prejudging. In this case, it means all relationships between human beings. And, per my example above, professed lesbian sexual orientation prevented a person from being invited to a Bible study, which is not code for 'orgy'. So, her ability to have 'interrelationships' was indeed damaged.

Blunter still would be this response: few people involved in this debate give much of a shit about 'relationships' or even 'love*'. It's the fucking that drives the debate, thank you. Always has, always will.

Then the following may surprise you:

>     This would mean that a man is called to be a man, not simply a penis, in relation to the woman, who is similarly in part, but never primarily or completely, a vagina. In order to be whole, sexual relations should take place within the general dialogical orientation on the other which is unreservedly affirmative of him or her in the totality and integrity of their personal being in a sexual encounter which, in tern, deepens that orientation. (The Call to Personhood, 37)

Do you maintain your points?

Edit: Also, Luke - beg pardon for my coarse language here.

As you can see, I can be forthright as well. Coarse language is the least of my concerns; those who think expletives are bad need to read this and this, and meditate on whether it is acceptable to fuck with, I mean "alter how one translates" the Bible "based on Christian sensibilities".

Crude said...

Luke,

And so, I compare your "a load" with empirical evidence, and find the latter more convincing.

I think it's a bad idea to call anecdote 'empirical evidence'. I don't doubt the possibility of what you're saying, and 'people get mistreated because of their X or Y' wasn't what I took away from the passage quoted.

On the flipside? I also am not quick to accept unconditionally claims like this, precisely because I've investigated what you call 'empirical evidence' more than once, and many times it turned out to be bullshit.

This is where you ask for clarification, instead of prejudging.

I can do both, and I do it responsibly. Hence 'it depends on what it means'.

Do you maintain your points?

What do you think my points are?

Luke said...

I think it's a bad idea to call anecdote 'empirical evidence'.

You're right, I have that and a few other examples; the correct term would be "eyewitness testimony". I might be able to get empirical evidence, although it'd have to be made worth my time. (So much on the to-do list!)

'people get mistreated because of their X or Y' wasn't what I took away from the passage quoted.

Then I don't understand what you did mean. As far as I can tell, the author is not talking about: "no gay sex" ⇒ "humanity stripped". That's a conclusion to which you leaped. I can, if you would like, report explicit statements the author makes on gay sex, if I come across any. I haven't, so far.

What do you think my points are?

Other than the gay sex inference, I don't know.

Craig said...

It's been over a decade since I was in grad school, but I'm still pretty fluent in academese. On the face of it, this paragraph is making the absurd claims that distinguishing marriage from other relationships 1) downgrades the other relationships and 2) implies that the unmarried are less than fully human.

I wouldn't call that either thoughtful or thought-provoking. I'd find it hard to take it seriously enough to consider it offensive. It certainly has little to do with Catholic theology of marriage.

Luke said...

@Craig,

On the face of it, this paragraph is making the absurd claims that distinguishing marriage from other relationships 1) downgrades the other relationships and 2) implies that the unmarried are less than fully human.

I have no idea how you got these ideas; would you care to lay out a formal argument with premises, logic, and conclusion, using specific quotations where possible? The way I read McFadyen, he says nothing of the kind. He's talking about Genesis 1:27 and how to interpret it. He's talking about what Imago Dei really means.

Crude said...

Luke,

You're right, I have that and a few other examples; the correct term would be "eyewitness testimony".

Eyewitness testimony of a friend of a friend?

I don't doubt that some people can be jerks. I likewise don't doubt that some people can make up stories about how people are jerks. We live in a brief burst of time where victimhood is a status aggressively sought after.

Other than the gay sex inference, I don't know.

Feel free to explain what you think the author is saying then, and we'll move on from there instead. Then we'll see if I have criticisms, and if you do too.

Luke said...

Eyewitness testimony of a friend of a friend?

This friend happens to be a very close friend, and I have met the friend of a friend. Are you really trying to argue that this phenomenon, of which I have eyewitness testimony, is extremely rare? Furthermore, I used to attend a church which served as a refuge for those who had received bad treatment at other churches. I could try and gather some data the next time I'm in LA; would this mean anything to you? Your skepticism is actually getting a bit tedious, here. You have a few clues as to my character from our many interactions; it seems as if you've thrown them all away for this conversation.

I likewise don't doubt that some people can make up stories about how people are jerks.

'some' ⇏ 'all'

Feel free to explain what you think the author is saying then, and we'll move on from there instead.

Having not read the whole book, I'm not certain enough to write a hermeneutical essay. What I will say is that the author believes human relationships with other humans are about WAY more than sex, and that failure to understand this makes life and society really screwed up. A great illustration on this happens to be Chap Clark's Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers, which I had bought a long time ago but only randomly started reading yesterday. There's a Hurt 2.0 which I have not read. The teenagers she studied have HUGE abandonment issues, and HUGE issues with feeling utterly isolated. Since you probably know a little about the ills of radical individualism, that probably shouldn't surprise you.

There is a lot of opportunity for solid connection between those two very empirical (and by this I really do mean 'empirical'—I will be more careful with that word in the future) books and the more theoretical The Call to Personhood, although McFadyen has worked with in a psychiatric hospital, in which he was able to gather gene knockout-type data. I have spent a lot of time asking "What's wrong with the world? What's wrong with America? What's wrong with the Church in America?" All I can say is that McFadyen's work seems to offer some clues. If you really feel the need to take a crap on them, well do so.

Crude said...

This friend happens to be a very close friend, and I have met the friend of a friend. Are you really trying to argue that this phenomenon, of which I have eyewitness testimony, is extremely rare?

I'm expressing skepticism of a story which went from 'friend of a friend' to 'eyewitness testimony of a very close friend', and the details of which are thin beyond 'they disliked her because she identified as a lesbian, and just wanted to be accepted as a sinner'. Especially from a social group that plays the victimhood card like absolute maestros. Do you know how many times I've encountered these kinds of claims, looked into it, and the initial (what you would call) "eyewitness report" turned out to have left out a whole lot of relevant details which didn't make the situation so nice and clear-cut?

Here, let me put it to you this way. How many times has 'Science shown!' something that, when you yourself looked into it, the science actually didn't show at all - and quite possibly could never have shown? Well, testimonial claims have a similar issue. Especially testimonial claims about an interaction where only one side of the testimony is on offer.

'some' ⇏ 'all'

!all != this one.

What I will say is that the author believes human relationships with other humans are about WAY more than sex, and that failure to understand this makes life and society really screwed up.

The problem is that the particular relationship which is central to the entire LGB debate is about little OTHER than sex. Even biblically. There's no biblical injunction against two men or two women having a supremely close friendship, even more than with those of the opposite sex. Sex? Different story.

If you really feel the need to take a crap on them, well do so.

I'm not taking a crap on them - I'm expressing skepticism with their project, based on their language and my past experience. Again, you say that human relationships are about WAY more than sex. But sex, in this case, is key.

Don't believe me? Walk into a conversation about LGB topics with someone who identifies as 'Pro-LGBT' and say, "Well, same-sex sexual activity is immoral. That topic is settled. But let's talk about all the other sides there are to relationships!" Tell me how the conversation goes in terms of 'openness to your claims'. The sex is the line in the sand. It always has been. It always will be. Even if everyone likes to pretend that what's really key is 'togetherness' and 'closeness' and friendship, as if there's been a ban on such things.

And I say all this while not discounting what they say. I've already said, feel free to offer me more to discuss. I'll listen, I'll investigate their claims, we'll discuss. Yeah, if I see a howler or even a problem, I'm not going to pretend I was granted sage observation.

Luke said...

I'm expressing skepticism of a story which went from 'friend of a friend' to 'eyewitness testimony of a very close friend'

It did not so move. "friend" = "very close friend", "friend of friend" = "I've met her", "eyewitness testimony" = "this very close friend of mine was with the lesbian when the shenanigans went down". Sorry for not being quite clear, but you are the one who chose to see a gross change of goalposts, instead of recalling the character I have demonstrated in our conversations, and concluding that maybe this change of goalposts didn't actually happen. You are not reading what I say charitably, and it's actually starting to piss me off.

The problem is that the particular relationship which is central to the entire LGB debate is about little OTHER than sex.

From what I've read and seen, it's more like desperation in reaching out for connection to another human being. That is, we as a culture suck so hard at friendship, that this is the result. Now, that doesn't disagree with "little OTHER than sex", I merely mean to say that we seem to be moving in the direction of "little friendship OTHER than sex". In this light, saying "no sex!" translates to "no human connection!" I could of course be wrong on this, but the model does seem to fit the set of data I've collected—some of it empirical—quite nicely.

Again, you say that human relationships are about WAY more than sex. But sex, in this case, is key.

I'm not sure I disagree with you at this point; as I demonstrated by the second quotation (search for "not simply a penis"), McFadyen appears to agree with you as well. You seem a little trigger-happy on this topic.

Crude said...

Luke,

It did not so move. "friend" = "very close friend", "friend of friend" = "I've met her", "eyewitness testimony" = "this very close friend of mine was with the lesbian when the shenanigans went down". Sorry for not being quite clear, but you are the one who chose to see a gross change of goalposts, instead of recalling the character I have demonstrated in our conversations, and concluding that maybe this change of goalposts didn't actually happen. You are not reading what I say charitably, and it's actually starting to piss me off.

Luke, I think I've been charitable. You say you weren't clear - well, that lack of clarity has been a warning to me in the past. If you're getting pissed off, all I can say is - I have been burned on this sort of things more times than I can count, by strangers and real life friends alike. Now, I reason and I act cautious. You'll notice that I'm not yammering about how the girl is clearly a liar. I'm saying I don't have enough evidence to buy even this meager claim in this case. Blame it on a culture that has figured out that stories like these are crucially important politically and socially.

If you simply wanted to relate a story to me, that would be one thing. I wouldn't have much to say then. But you are using this story as a piece of prime evidence to back up the claim that, what - 'people who are homosexual are having their very humanity in a major and exceptional way denied them routinely'? No, I'm not seeing it. Nor does this mean that I'm questioning your character in some grand way. People make mistakes. This may well be one of those times. Say I'm making it if you prefer - I simply disagree.

If I'm not intellectually moved, I will explain why. If my lack of being intellectually moved pisses you off, we're at an impasse, because I think I'd rather be thrown off a cliff than forsake my intellectual conclusions or misgivings on account of someone being upset with me.

From what I've read and seen, it's more like desperation in reaching out for connection to another human being.

And I suppose those people who supposedly mistreated your friend's friend were just protecting their hard-won place of sanctity and friendship from a perceived outside? If we're going to rework people's failings into evidence of their victimhood, then let's go whole hog. Stalin will be a tragic figure deserving of a hug in very short order. The Koch Brothers too.

No, I disagree with your estimation, at least insofar as it casts the LGBT culture as - what a surprise - the home of victims once again. At what point does the victimhood dissipate and it's time to let culpability take center stage for a little while?

Or, if not victimhood, something else: brokenness. Objective disorder, I believe the CCC calls it. I suppose that's no better.

I'm not sure I disagree with you at this point; as I demonstrated by the second quotation (search for "not simply a penis"), McFadyen appears to agree with you as well.

I haven't seen nearly enough information to indicate that McFadyen agrees with me about much of anything of note. I've tried to dig up more info on his writings, and so far all I have is that he's episcopalian.

And for a guy who's trigger happy, I'm taking frightfully few shots. Instead I'm just not going along with what other people may casually grant. Gunshy, perhaps.

Luke said...

'people who are homosexual are having their very humanity in a major and exceptional way denied them routinely'?

Routinely? I don't recall arguing that. What I sense on your part is extreme sampling bias, via exposure to politicization which always skews the facts. I thought it was interesting that you make this big generalization and I just happened to have a very clear counterexample. How prominent it is, I do not know. You seem to be closer to "not at all prominent", while I'm closer to "don't know".

And I suppose those people who supposedly mistreated your friend's friend were just protecting their hard-won place of sanctity and friendship from a perceived outside?

I don't know; it was requested in the strongest possible terms that I not give the church a very rigorously, scripturally-supported, piece of my mind. I'm pretty sure I didn't say anything to imply what you've just said here, so it appears that you've stereotyped me, likely irrationally.

No, I disagree with your estimation, at least insofar as it casts the LGBT culture as - what a surprise - the home of victims once again. At what point does the victimhood dissipate and it's time to let culpability take center stage for a little while?

As to culpability: Romans 2:24, and I don't mean that in an anti-Jew sense.

It is my strong opinion that Christians need to start understanding what true relationship looks like, what true friendship is, and spreading that about. I took a premarital course before getting married: it was pitifully basic and 80% could be: "How to actually be a friend." It's the kind of stuff you would have hoped that fifth graders knew, but, demonstrably, this is way too high of a standard. Upon whom do I place this burden? Christians.

Crude said...

Routinely? I don't recall arguing that.

I do not believe your author in that quote is making hay about what he believes is at best an incidental state of affairs.

What I sense on your part is extreme sampling bias, via exposure to politicization which always skews the facts.

Then we're in trouble, because politicization is everywhere. Including at the individual level.

I don't know; it was requested in the strongest possible terms that I not give the church a very rigorously, scripturally-supported, piece of my mind. I'm pretty sure I didn't say anything to imply what you've just said here, so it appears that you've stereotyped me, likely irrationally.

I was showing you how easy it is to use the scheme of victimhood you were playing with and apply it to the very people you were casting as the villains. If the sexual realities of the LGBT subculture - not LGBT people, but that subculture in particular - can be turned into instead a display of pain for which we should have sympathy, that's fine. I'm applying the logic to the Ku Klux Klan next, and seeing if the rule still holds. It turns out burning crosses are cries for help.

As to culpability: Romans 2:24, and I don't mean that in an anti-Jew sense.

Can't be my fault, Luke - that would be assigning culpability, after all.

It is my strong opinion that Christians need to start understanding what true relationship looks like, what true friendship is, and spreading that about. I took a premarital course before getting married: it was pitifully basic and 80% could be: "How to actually be a friend." It's the kind of stuff you would have hoped that fifth graders knew, but, demonstrably, this is way too high of a standard.

I have another possible explanation: such courses are often watered down to that point for fear of saying anything that may shock or turn off attendees, or may even itself be one more effect of politicization. Just because the sex ed course in high school largely is composed of a 1950s reel warning about the dangers of yeast infections doesn't mean the audience isn't a bit more informed.

Upon whom do I place this burden? Christians.

Then tell me that non-Christians are little better than fifth graders emotionally, such that they can't shoulder any such burdens of responsibility. Tell me sexually active LGBT people are basically children, blameless and naive. Tell me the same for every sin of your choice, from the greed of businessmen to abortionists to adulterers to otherwise, and that only a select group of people can reasonably be assigned responsibility for watching over those poor souls.

And that will be the moment we can discuss the price of that line of thinking, and whether consistency on that front means we can ever vote them into office, allow them to serve in the military, or trust their judgment generally.

Me? I hold people to a higher standard generally. I expect something better out of people, period, not just 'Christians'. I say this as someone with my own faults, and plenty of them. And if that attitude, that recognition that people actually do wrong things and should be - at times, in propre ways - informed of as much results in God being blasphemed, that's fine by me, because the God that everyone will love is guaranteed to be a mere idol.

Probably one with a big smiley face.

Luke said...

I do not believe your author in that quote is making hay about what he believes is at best an incidental state of affairs.

I do not know what you mean by this.

Then we're in trouble, because politicization is everywhere. Including at the individual level.

Yep, and this makes me an extremely skeptical person when it comes to fact-claims, especially when people claim to or make it seem like they have unbiased, representative samplings.

I was showing you how easy it is to use the scheme of victimhood you were playing with

Yes, it's easy to deceive. Try Mars Hill Church? Deception is everywhere. That isn't an automatic pass to dismiss.

Can't be my fault, Luke - that would be assigning culpability, after all.

Another idea which cannot be rigorously founded on what I have said. I tire of having views imputed to me which I do not hold, views which make me look stupid—or at least, make my ideas look stupid.

I have another possible explanation: such courses are often watered down to that point for fear of saying anything that may shock or turn off attendees

Given this church, not likely. Hard-hitting sermons were not rare. I met with the pastor multiple times and he seemed decent on a personal basis.

Then tell me that non-Christians are little better than fifth graders emotionally

I doubt I would say anything different about Christians.

Me? I hold people to a higher standard generally. I expect something better out of people, period, not just 'Christians'.

I want to do this as well. Your "higher standard", which is obviously a comparison to me, is a bit odd given our long discussion over at Theology, Sans Emotion. There, I was the one arguing for emotional training, which surely is a part of such a "higher standard"? Now, how do we actually encourage a "higher standard"? How do we determine whether our answer makes sense?

Crude said...

I do not know what you mean by this.

I don't know how to make it plainer.

Yes, it's easy to deceive. Try Mars Hill Church? Deception is everywhere. That isn't an automatic pass to dismiss.

I don't even know what Mars Hill Church is. Regardless, when on the one hand you say you're very skeptical, but on the other hand you're expressing dismay that I'm not accepting your claims about the state of the LGBT community in part based on what seems to me to be a kind of iffy secondhand claim, I don't think it's clear that you're working with the superior care or acknowledgement of the lay of the land.

Given this church, not likely. Hard-hitting sermons were not rare. I met with the pastor multiple times and he seemed decent on a personal basis.

They could also be severely underestimating what people need. I think it's a leap to take that as evidence that people are that crippled without fault.

Another idea which cannot be rigorously founded on what I have said. I tire of having views imputed to me which I do not hold, views which make me look stupid—or at least, make my ideas look stupid.

Then I give you sincere advice: I talked about the importance of culpability sometimes being center stage, and you link me a quote saying that it's "your" (supposedly my) fault that God's name is blasphemed by the gentiles. That, put gently, seems pretty clearly like an insult. And once I'm openly and intentionally insulted, it takes a whole lot to get me to not play with rhetoric in turn.

There, I was the one arguing for emotional training, which surely is a part of such a "higher standard"?

And I advocated that from the start - but also pointed out this isn't a mere case of immaturity. People also 'train' themselves to be emotionally trigger-happy. The person who will scream bloody murder at the drop of a hat sometimes - in fact, I think often - does so because they know what they can get away with.

More than that, a confession: I hold in contempt the modern view which amounts to, 'The people who are emotionally unstable must be coddled, whispered to, given much leeway. You shouldn't upset them, you shouldn't expect much of them. They can't help it. The mature people should just shoulder their burden.' I consider it a kind of crime to think that way without serious qualification.

Luke said...

I don't even know what Mars Hill Church is.

Do you live in that much of a hole, that you've not heard about the shenanigans with Mark Driscoll? I suggest checking it out, for... cultural awareness. There's a danger of it being gossip-y, but Driscoll was (is?) very popular, and promoted what he called "biblical manhood", calling America a nation of sissies/pussies. I agree on the latter, but not on his idea of manhood, from what I can tell. The sad thing is, he probably polluted the idea that there is an excellent model of biblical manhood.

Regardless, when on the one hand you say you're very skeptical, but on the other hand you're expressing dismay that I'm not accepting your claims [...]

No, it's more dismay that your first instinct, rather to request more details, was to dismiss.

I think it's a leap to take that as evidence that people are that crippled without fault.

Where did I say/imply "without fault"? We were at fault when Jesus came, and we're told to imitate him. So, it seems we need to be careful with precisely what we do with the notion of 'fault'.

Then I give you sincere advice: I talked about the importance of culpability sometimes being center stage, and you link me a quote saying that it's "your" (supposedly my) fault that God's name is blasphemed by the gentiles. That, put gently, seems pretty clearly like an insult.

I intended Romans 2:24 to apply to precisely those it applies to: those who say there is a better way to live, and fail to actually live it. I have no idea whether you fall into that category. What I very much did mean was that God (through Paul) placed the fault according to Romans 2:24, and I think it would behoove us to take this into account in our thinking of culpability.

And once I'm openly and intentionally insulted, it takes a whole lot to get me to not play with rhetoric in turn.

Seriously? Evil for evil? Whatever happened to turning the other cheek? I didn't mean to insult, but suppose I did. How on earth do you deal with turning the other cheek, given what you've said, here?

And I advocated that from the start - but also pointed out this isn't a mere case of immaturity.

Yeah, I never meant to imply there is no culpability. Ezekiel 18, FTW! That being said, I have more hope of Christians becoming emotionally (and logically) trained, than atheists. You know, the whole salt & light thing.

More than that, a confession: I hold in contempt the modern view which amounts to, 'The people who are emotionally unstable must be coddled, whispered to, given much leeway. You shouldn't upset them, you shouldn't expect much of them. They can't help it. The mature people should just shoulder their burden.' I consider it a kind of crime to think that way without serious qualification.

I'm pretty sure I 100% agree.

Crude said...

Luke,

Do you live in that much of a hole, that you've not heard about the shenanigans with Mark Driscoll? I suggest checking it out, for... cultural awareness.

Driscoll, I've heard of. Allegations that he was very mean to people. And what makes you think that culture is the one that's important to be the most aware of?

There's a danger of it being gossip-y, but Driscoll was (is?) very popular, and promoted what he called "biblical manhood", calling America a nation of sissies/pussies.

A bit too crude on the language, and I've no idea how he meant it if the "sissies/pussies" thing is a quote.

Where did I say/imply "without fault"? We were at fault when Jesus came, and we're told to imitate him. So, it seems we need to be careful with precisely what we do with the notion of 'fault'.

Alright, I'm game. What's the fault of the LGBT community in your view?

I intended Romans 2:24 to apply to precisely those it applies to: those who say there is a better way to live, and fail to actually live it. I have no idea whether you fall into that category.

I think I'd rather cop to my faults and everyone else's too. The alternative seems neither worthwhile nor biblical.

Seriously? Evil for evil? Whatever happened to turning the other cheek? I didn't mean to insult, but suppose I did. How on earth do you deal with turning the other cheek, given what you've said, here?

I'll let you know once you justify aggressive, even sarcastic rhetoric as "evil".

That being said, I have more hope of Christians becoming emotionally (and logically) trained, than atheists. You know, the whole salt & light thing.

Yeah? So you don't really have much faith in atheists being emotionally well-balanced and logically trained? Or, for that matter, jews or muslims or buddhists?

I'm pretty sure I 100% agree.

Then perhaps you don't have much hope for those non-Christians, but you nevertheless hold them to the expectation. You're going to have to manage something like that if you're 'holding out hope' for Christians to be the emotionally and logically trained ones, but not so much for others.

I'll put it to you this way. If - if - you see a Christian and an Atheist losing their tempers, and your instinct is to chide the Christian but not the atheist because of those differing expectations, then you're dealing with precisely the sort of problem I'm talking about.

Luke said...

Driscoll, I've heard of. Allegations that he was very mean to people.

Driscoll is/was head pastor of Mars Hill Church. As to the "very mean", let's try "tears people down with words", which is almost certainly what Eph 5:4 is actually talking about, contra the idea that it's about naughty words. There's also 1 Cor 10:23–24. My point with Driscoll was that apparently, he and Mars Hill were masters of deception. Namely, that this method of interacting with other people is in any way Christlike. It is a false version of emotional maturity.

Alright, I'm game. What's the fault of the LGBT community in your view?

Very tentatively, I would say their biggest fault is thinking that relationship = sex, and orientation = identity. Not that all do this, but to the extent they "fit the data" (vs. match with asserted doctrines), those are deeply corrosive to human beings and to community. But hey, who says Christians aren't being similarly "deeply corrosive" to both as well? One has to look no further than the reports of how Mark Driscoll [ab]used power.

I'll let you know once you justify aggressive, even sarcastic rhetoric as "evil".

Inspired by Deut 30:19, I would describe 'good' as "that which promotes life" and 'evil' as "that which perverts/destroys life". Sarcasm can sometimes promote life, and sometimes promote death. A biting example of biblical sarcasm is "Come to Bethel, and transgress [...]".

But this is not all you said. You specifically said, "intentionally insulted". So again, what's up with "turn the other cheek", and your choice to respond "in turn"? I'm not even admitting to intentionally insulting, but I'll work with your perception, and explore what you think scripture means.

Yeah? So you don't really have much faith in atheists being emotionally well-balanced and logically trained? Or, for that matter, jews or muslims or buddhists?

I think there is a possibility for Christians to lead in this matter, by however narrow a margin, due to actually having the power of God working within them. For example, contrast 2 Cor 4:7–12 and 2 Tim 3:1–5. Don't you think Jesus being in us gives us extra power to overcome our flesh? If you do, how do you work it into these matters?

I'll put it to you this way. If - if - you see a Christian and an Atheist losing their tempers, and your instinct is to chide the Christian but not the atheist because of those differing expectations, then you're dealing with precisely the sort of problem I'm talking about.

I generally attempt to hold people to those expectations they claim to adhere to. There are two ways to interpret passages like Ezek 18:30: (i) God will judge all by his infinitely high standard; (ii) God will judge all by each's own standard, but impartially applied. Many assume (i), but I'm leaning toward (ii), especially given stuff like Mt 7:2.

Crude said...

Driscoll is/was head pastor of Mars Hill Church. As to the "very mean", let's try "tears people down with words", which is almost certainly what Eph 5:4 is actually talking about, contra the idea that it's about naughty words.

He sounds like a jerk. A jerk that is tremendously common, so much so that it doesn't seem all that shocking to me. As we'll see, more below.

Very tentatively, I would say their biggest fault is thinking that relationship = sex, and orientation = identity.

The 50% open relationship rate, that's not a problem? The further and orchestrating trashing of the concept of marriage - yes, helped by non-LGB people already - is not worth considering? The celebration and defense of bath house culture? Even, you know... the sodomy and the justification of it, which is not just an LGB problem or possibility?

And I've got to say - when I ask this question and you can't answer it without immediately spinning on a heel and having another go at Driscoll, it just seems so... odd. It screams, 'I'd MUCH rather go after one group than the other'.

But this is not all you said. You specifically said, "intentionally insulted". So again, what's up with "turn the other cheek", and your choice to respond "in turn"?

Again, I don't think 'turning the other cheek' means what you think it does, anymore than 'do not resist an evil person' means cooperate with evil people. Insult is not necessarily evil, or else Christ committed evil more than once.

I think there is a possibility for Christians to lead in this matter, by however narrow a margin, due to actually having the power of God working within them.

Okay, I'm game. Christians are more likely to be better people, because they actually have the power of God working in them. Atheists, jews, muslims - they do not.

I'm getting this right here?

Or is it that they have the power of God working in them, but that apparently doesn't really cash out to much after all - in which case, there's very little reason to hold them to some higher standard.

I generally attempt to hold people to those expectations they claim to adhere to.

Cool. I don't claim to adhere to your interpretation of Matt 5:39, so I guess that standard's dropped for me?

I'll be explicit: the impression I'm getting off you in this exchange is something I see often. 'Christians should be held to a high standard, and they should be collectively held accountable and be ashamed of this failing, that failing, the other failing!' Others, particularly LGB people? The criticism is far more reluctant, and muted. They're victims, they're hurting, they're sobbing in the ditch wanting desperately to have some kind of human contact and the ones who are turning to orgies are doing that out of desperation. Criticism muted.

You talk about the high standard you hold Christians to, because of the power of God working through them and their apparent maturity, and when I zero in to investigate - that would, after all, mean they're more reliably more moral and mature people, and others are not so - that vanishes into 'narrow margins'. Which, I admit, comes across to me as wanting to hold Christians to a high standard, and then criticize them for failing to meet it. Others, you don't want to criticize as much, so the standard is far lower. But now I'm pointing out the problem of those different standards, and the justification for them seems to be melting.

Get angry if you will, Luke, but I'm actually trying to be honest here and give my no-bullshit thoughts on this exchange, so maybe you can take a look at what you're saying and go 'Oh, wait, I can see why he'd get that view. I better clarify.' if I've got you wrong.

Crude said...

The 50% open relationship rate, that's not a problem?

And before I get the expected pushback - you said 'biggest problem', so you could have meant to include that but chose not to since there can only be one 'biggest'. OTOH you swung around with Driscoll again, so either you think his weird ministry or things like it are the biggest problems or that was a non-seq.

Luke said...

He sounds like a jerk. A jerk that is tremendously common, so much so that it doesn't seem all that shocking to me.

Yep, and you know what being his style of 'jerk' does? It stymies the formation of deep friendships.

The 50% open relationship rate, that's not a problem?

I think that is a symptom of what I mentioned.

The further and orchestrating trashing of the concept of marriage - yes, helped by non-LGB people already - is not worth considering?

What's the best argument you know that this damages the ability of heterosexuals to have strong marriages? I cannot construct a good one myself, but I also haven't looked for the best there is.

The celebration and defense of bath house culture? Even, you know... the sodomy and the justification of it, which is not just an LGB problem or possibility?

My best guess? These are symptoms, not causes.

And I've got to say - when I ask this question and you can't answer it without immediately spinning on a heel and having another go at Driscoll, it just seems so... odd. It screams, 'I'd MUCH rather go after one group than the other'.

Yeah, I go first after the people who proclaim that they have God pouring knowledge, wisdom, and power into their lives. Please explain how this is illogical.

Okay, I'm game. Christians are more likely to be better people, because they actually have the power of God working in them. Atheists, jews, muslims - they do not.

I'm getting this right here?


No. I expect them to be getting better [faster]. The difference is one of absolute value vs. derivative. I'm curious; do you think your deism is a factor, right now?

Or is it that they have the power of God working in them, but that apparently doesn't really cash out to much after all - in which case, there's very little reason to hold them to some higher standard.

How do you not see 2 Tim 3:1–5 applying, here?

Criticism muted.

What, exactly, is it I'm supposed to blame LGB people for? Please trace those causal chains, or since I have to assume you've already done it somewhere, please link me. I'm only somewhat familiar with all this stuff. Hence my "Very tentatively ...".

You talk about the high standard you hold Christians to, because of the power of God working through them and their apparent maturity, and when I zero in to investigate - that would, after all, mean they're more reliably more moral and mature people, and others are not so - that vanishes into 'narrow margins'.

Vanishes? No. Perhaps you underestimate the power of adding lots of small pushes toward betterness, vs. the slow decay of each person, on average, choosing himself/herself more frequently than the other person.

Get angry if you will, Luke

I have decided not to. Instead, I merely observe what you apparently mean by Rom 12:10, by your behavior.

Craig said...

Luke,

I don't think a formally structured argument is a reasonable request for a comment box. Nevertheless:

"...would place those male–female relations in which neither marriage nor coitus is a part into a subordinate position..." Being placed into a subordinate position is a bad thing in academese: it is equivalent to unjustified discrimination. If the broader context clarifies that this is one of the rare exceptions, that's not visible here.

"...would place ... the humanity of all those unable or choosing not to enter such relations [i.e. marriage and coitus] in question." Something is calling the humanity of these people into question, and apparently it's connected with not being married and/or not having sexual intercourse.

Followed immediately by: "The elderly, the impotent, the widowed, the celibate, the hermaphrodite, the transsexual, the deformed and handicapped, and the homosexual would have their humanity and the humanity of their interrelationships denied them."
Confirmation: he's attacking a view that people who aren't involved in marital sexual relationships are less than human, and their relationships are inferior. This is presented as the necessary consequence of some point to do with equating marriage and coitus.

The "imago" i.e. imago Dei comes up in the final sentence, with no prior mention. How does this clarify the point under attack? I deduce that his target is the concept that man and woman in marital union express the image of God in a way that man or woman alone do not. Reading the paragraph in that light seems to hang together reasonably well.

I am open to this reading being completely wrong: it's only based on one paragraph, after all. But I continue to think it's a reasonable interpretation of the excerpt as presented.

Crude said...

Yep, and you know what being his style of 'jerk' does? It stymies the formation of deep friendships.

So does a culture obsessed with sex, 'social justice', liberal and conservative politics, and more.

No, I don't think Mark Driscoll's a particularly big concern here. At worst, one of many. And for all I know the charges against him are out of proportion. I honestly know little about the whole thing.

I think that is a symptom of what I mentioned.

Do people ever just plain make choices, some of them bad?

What's the best argument you know that this damages the ability of heterosexuals to have strong marriages? I cannot construct a good one myself, but I also haven't looked for the best there is.

Damages? That's trivial: because cultural pressure and attitudes inform, bolster and/or weaken individual choices. For instance, this. One difference here is that you seem to look for THE cause for social or personal failings, whereas I don't bother, because there's always a mix of factors.

Now, if you dig in your heels and demand exhaustive academic "empirical" studies backing up my view to the point where dissent is not possible, I'll just laugh it off. I've already given my views on academics, and on the extent to which various positions about culture can receive empirical support in the best cases.

Yeah, I go first after the people who proclaim that they have God pouring knowledge, wisdom, and power into their lives. Please explain how this is illogical.

I fail to see any logic in that bare statement to even begin deploying a critique with.

No. I expect them to be getting better [faster]. The difference is one of absolute value vs. derivative. I'm curious; do you think your deism is a factor, right now?

Depends on what you mean, though what I see here is you bending over backwards to hold Christians to a high standard while at the same time arguing that there's next to no reason to hold Christians to a high standard. Wonderful - being Christian means everyone shits on you more when you fuck up, and at the same time there's nothing about you which means you shouldn't fuck up more than others.

Let me guess: you think this attitude has a wonderful healing effect on Christian communities? Man, that sure makes people want to be part of a Christian community - being nagged to death by would-be shepherds who will tell sob-stories about every other politically popular group of activists engaged in one or another sin.

How do you not see 2 Tim 3:1–5 applying, here?

Beats me, man. You're the one with the apparent inconsistency. That's yours to square, not mine.

What, exactly, is it I'm supposed to blame LGB people for?

LGB people, collectively as a singular group? Nothing, anymore than you should blame any generic group for much of anything if said group is divorced from action. LGB political activists? Well, let's see. Assaults on marriage, assaults on sexual norms, assaults on sexual decency, assaults on the concept of chastity... man, it's a long list. That's before getting to the current inquisition-like climate of firing guys like Eich at Mozilla.

Adding to the corrosion of culture that already exists, and which did not begin with them.

Vanishes? No. Perhaps you underestimate the power of adding lots of small pushes toward betterness, vs. the slow decay of each person, on average, choosing himself/herself more frequently than the other person.

I've already said what effect I think the sort of attitude you're promoting has on the culture.

Crude said...

I have decided not to. Instead, I merely observe what you apparently mean by Rom 12:10, by your behavior.

My behavior is quite fine, thank you. I simply don't stick to the easy targets when considering what's gone wrong with our culture and the world. I know better than to treat LGB people as a monolithic group, I know better than to treat the subsection of that group as the sole cause of all the ills we see, I know better than to look for a single cause of those ills. I also know better than to think progress will be made on these problems by avoiding controversial positions, or treating the critique of 'You're being mean!' as worth losing sleep over.

Put another way, I'll do what I think is right, particularly what I think is right by what my understanding of God is. If I look quite mean, well - I will survive. Or maybe I won't! But I'll be walking that road, and if I change, it will be because I've come to believe I erred here and there. Not because someone aimed sanctimony my way, or tried repeatedly to shame me without much reason behind it.

Luke said...

@Crude, I'm concerned that your deism is majorly conflicting with my belief in how the Holy Spirit operates, and causing much disagreement between us as a result. To aid in clarifying this, would you explain what you think "denying its power" means, below?

> But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Tim 3:1–5)

My understanding, aided by passages such as Rom 7–8, is that one can only exert significant power over the flesh with the spirit, which requires the spirit not to be dead, which requires belief, trust in, and following of Jesus.

Based on this, expecting a person to overcome the flesh without the power of God would be theologically erroneous. One can attempt to use the pressure of law, and stand-ins for law (e.g. shame), to combat the flesh. However, we have from passages like 2 Cor 3:4–6 that the law is actually powerless to bring us to God. But perhaps you do not intend law, and stand-ins for law, to accomplish that? Perhaps instead, you merely mean them to establish some minimum standard?

Luke said...

@Craig,

I don't think a formally structured argument is a reasonable request for a comment box.

I see no reason why not. :-) How else are people like you and me going to rigorously argue things and thus have any confidence that we're right, instead of merely holding to some just-so story which is bolstered by our hanging around with people who are like us and think similarly?

Being placed into a subordinate position is a bad thing in academese

Agreed. It's also a bad thing if one believes life is a social ladder. Arguably, per Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20, Jesus actively placed himself in the most subordinate position of all.

Something is calling the humanity of these people into question

Yep: these people would be something like 3/5 of a person. Ok, maybe not that bad. But God doesn't give a whit as to how small impartiality is. Cracks have a habit of growing.

Confirmation: he's attacking a view that people who aren't involved in marital sexual relationships are less than human

Agreed.

This is presented as the necessary consequence of some point to do with equating marriage and coitus.

No: this is the necessary consequence of thinking marriage is the quintessential form of Imago Dei. The context of his first sentence is Genesis 1:27. What constitutes Imago Dei? As candidates, we have: (i) adam, mankind; (ii) adam, man; (iii) person; (iv) male and female; (v) male and female, married. The danger is to say that (v) is the most 'real' form of Imago Dei. One way this shows up, which the author hints at with 'celibate', is simply those singles who never get married. I have heard that especially single, middle-age to older men are often treated as having a lesser status in churches, despite St. Paul's acclaim of that choice of lifestyle.

I deduce that his target is the concept that man and woman in marital union express the image of God in a way that man or woman alone do not.

Agreed. But what I don't get is how this leads to what you originally said:

On the face of it, this paragraph is making the absurd claims that distinguishing marriage from other relationships 1) downgrades the other relationships and 2) implies that the unmarried are less than fully human.

It is precisely the 'distinguish' ⇒ 'degrade' which I do not find in that paragraph, and I can tell you that he is actively against that implication elsewhere. Indeed, a major criticism I would have of LGBT activists is that they seem to frequently hold to that implication. One way to look at performativity, which seems to me a fairly accurate analysis of the power of words to shape reality, is that it is an attempt to understand how distinctions are made so that they can be destroyed. This is terrible; it is literally acid which eats away at language. Genesis starts out with God making distinctions; these folks want to destroy them, because they appear to believe 'distinguish' ⇒ 'degrade'. Perhaps this is because they believe in a worldly hierarchy, instead of the Godly hierarchy expressed by Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20?

Crude said...

Luke,

How else are people like you and me going to rigorously argue things and thus have any confidence that we're right, instead of merely holding to some just-so story which is bolstered by our hanging around with people who are like us and think similarly?

By arguing and thinking about things outside of a comment box, seems to be a reasonable reply.

Further, 'any confidence' isn't the issue. Getting some amount of confidence is pretty easy and doesn't require rigorous argument, or really, anyone else at all. A satisfactory amount of confidence? Different issue.

Yep: these people would be something like 3/5 of a person. Ok, maybe not that bad. But God doesn't give a whit as to how small impartiality is. Cracks have a habit of growing.

Can you provide any, and I mean any, evidence biblical that God particularly cares about 'impartiality'?

The danger is to say that (v) is the most 'real' form of Imago Dei.

It'd be quite a trick since Christ never married.

Luke said...

By arguing and thinking about things outside of a comment box, seems to be a reasonable reply.

I don't know Craig outside of combo-boxes.

Getting some amount of confidence is pretty easy and doesn't require rigorous argument, or really, anyone else at all.

Heh. I meant justified confidence. :-p

Can you provide any, and I mean any, evidence biblical that God particularly cares about 'impartiality'?

Ja 2:1–4 seems pretty straightforward to me; we also have from Ja 3:17 that "wisdom from above is [...] impartial". Or just Rom 2:11 "For there is no partiality with God." Paul uses that word two other times: Eph 6:9 and Col 3:25. Is this what you were looking for?

It'd be quite a trick since Christ never married.

Yep, but he's often gets a special exemption from people's reasoning, in my experience.

Crude said...

Luke,

I'm concerned that your deism

Since when am I a deist?

My understanding, aided by passages such as Rom 7–8, is that one can only exert significant power over the flesh with the spirit, which requires the spirit not to be dead, which requires belief, trust in, and following of Jesus.

Okay, so you do in fact believe that Christians are far better positioned to be moral, trustworthy, responsible - etc - than non-Christians?

See, you're asking me to clarify, but the thing is I haven't made any claims to clarify on this front. I'm just responding to your own claims, and noticing that something's going awry - you want to at once hold Christians to this higher standard (They have the Holy Spirit within them!) for the purposes of criticizing them, but when a necessarily related thought is brought up (Oh, so that means they're far more morally capable/reliable than the alternatives), then suddenly all this vanishes or is downplayed (The Holy spirit gives only the most marginal assistance!)

It's a familiar Catch-22 Christians get caught in, and I don't care to endorse it. If Christians really are far more capable morally, bite the bullet - that means you can't expect much (or as much) from atheists, jews and muslims. If you, for whatever reason, don't think you can expect more from Christians after all, bite that bullet too - now you've removed a justification for your criticism of Christians /over and above/ non-Christians.

But I will not endorse the contradictory thinking of, 'Christians are far more morally capable so I criticize them more than anyone else when they fail! But atheists and every non-Christian are just as morally capable of Christians because saying otherwise is mean.'

Based on this, expecting a person to overcome the flesh without the power of God would be theologically erroneous. One can attempt to use the pressure of law, and stand-ins for law (e.g. shame), to combat the flesh.

What "pressure of law" is being advocated here? Opposition to same-sex marriage? That doesn't - contrary to the very animated lunatics who often defend it - mean that if two men perform a religious ceremony, a SWAT team breaks in and arrests them all for daring to do it. It means not granting this or that specific title and legal endowment to a couple (or a quartet) petitioning for it.

If you're saying that the Bible teaches that neither law nor culture can encourage or discourage any class of moral acts, well, bad news: evidence swings against the Bible on this point in that case, since all you need is data indicating that passing a particular law results in a reduction of the crime in question, and for that crime to have moral dimensions. I don't think the Bible says that. In fact, I think the Bible didn't just emphasize 'friendships' but 'community', and culture plays a role, and that we're called to maintain such things. Ergo, people who war against such things? They are, for one reason or another, a problem.

Not that -we-, the holy Christians, can't be problems ourselves. Nor do I blame all of the problems on 'those wicked people over there'. But recognizing the fault in ourselves doesn't keep us from recognizing pretty obvious faults in others at the same time. At least it shouldn't if we're sane.

Crude said...

I don't know Craig outside of combo-boxes.

Indeed.

Heh. I meant justified confidence. :-p

I see nothing about justified confidence which superficially demands we engage in what you're demanding to meet it.

Ja 2:1–4 seems pretty straightforward to me; we also have from Ja 3:17 that "wisdom from above is [...] impartial". Or just Rom 2:11 "For there is no partiality with God." Paul uses that word two other times: Eph 6:9 and Col 3:25. Is this what you were looking for?

Not really, since every example you gave is in a different context. This isn't a wealth/poverty issue, and Romans 2:8 pretty much displays partiality from the get-go. No favoritism among people who do good - but they're more favored than those who do evil.

Yep, but he's often gets a special exemption from people's reasoning, in my experience.

So we can appeal to experience here as justifying our belief, rather than needing rigorous argument and a host of empirical evidence?

Luke said...

Crude,

Since when am I a deist?

"TALES AND THOUGHTS FROM THE INTERNET'S ONLY DEIST NATURALIST THEISTIC EVOLUTIONIST ID SYMPATHETIC TRADITIONAL ORTHODOX CATHOLIC SINNER!" — how much of this is a joke?

Okay, so you do in fact believe that Christians are far better positioned to be moral, trustworthy, responsible - etc - than non-Christians?

I do not see "far better" as a requirement. Suppose that we're talking about the line, above which civilization and culture improve, below which they decline. All that is required for a Christian to be tremendously different from the average non-Christian is to be slightly below that line while the non-Christian is slightly above. The smallest of values becomes huge when there are many people and/or lots of time.

you want to at once hold Christians to this higher standard (They have the Holy Spirit within them!) for the purposes of criticizing them

You refuse to state a position on whether or not it is acceptable to hold Christians to any higher standard, which puts into question whether you believe Christians have any special power with which to overcome the flesh. Why are you so reticent to stake out a claim, here? We can then talk about how much of a different standard ought to be applied, if any. I would only hold such differing standards extra-legally.

What "pressure of law" is being advocated here? Opposition to same-sex marriage?

I'm reticent to absolutely minimize the consequences in the way you do, here. This doesn't mean I support same-sex marriage, by the way. If anything, I think I object to the mix of civil and religious; the Church always suffers when it marries Caesar. Then again, I realize there's an argument as to what is in the favor of the State. Unfortunately, once the majority of the public is in favor of SSM...

If you're saying that the Bible teaches that neither law nor culture can encourage or discourage any class of moral acts

Given that I very explicitly distinguished between "bring us to God" and "establish some minimum standard", no I clearly was not saying that. In The Subversion of Christianity, Jacques Ellul discusses how the Roman Catholic Church did a lot of this "establish some minimum standard", so I do know a bit about that. The next question would be, what is the history of such laws? Do they work permanently, or is there slippage which accumulates over time—like we're seeing it happen now, with increasingly many states approving gay marriage (or their judges, at least)?

You see, I'm not convinced that laws alone are sufficiently motivating, not to prevent the trend of culture from dropping below that line I described earlier. I'm not convinced God would want a culture to last which hits stasis, with most people at some minimum level. To me, that seems like the kind of thing he'd want to disrupt. Indeed, my experience is that sin replicates and spreads until it is properly dealt with—redemptively. But you seem to see a different option. I'm wondering how realistic it actually is.

Luke said...

I see nothing about justified confidence which superficially demands we engage in what you're demanding to meet it.

Good grief you are spinning what I said with the word "demanding".

Romans 2:8 pretty much displays partiality from the get-go.

Punishing evil and rewarding good is 'partiality'? That means a judge cannot be impartial. How does that not obliterate the words 'partial' and 'impartial'?

So we can appeal to experience here as justifying our belief, rather than needing rigorous argument and a host of empirical evidence?

We can clarify what reasons we have for individual beliefs, and let people judge accordingly.

Crude said...

Good grief you are spinning what I said with the word "demanding".

I sadly suspect that after inspection, what you said won't be very on-target.

Punishing evil and rewarding good is 'partiality'? That means a judge cannot be impartial. How does that not obliterate the words 'partial' and 'impartial'?

It illustrates why the quotes don't work in this context: simply being partial to some people, some types of company, even some cultures, isn't something condemned by God. What's important, at most, is why you're being impartial.

More than that, really - the whole line of argument here is absurd, because 'robbing people of their humanity' turns out to just mean 'treating them bad'. It's not some special kind of problem these or that group of people get - it's depressingly common, from among gun owners to among fat people.

We can clarify what reasons we have for individual beliefs, and let people judge accordingly.

And we care how people judge why? And I notice the shift from how to justify beliefs to, apparently, 'justifying ourselves in the eyes of others'.

Crude said...

how much of this is a joke?

Luke, c'mon. You're telling me you thought I was a naturalist too? At the very least you really should have asked.

All that is required for a Christian to be tremendously different from the average non-Christian is to be slightly below that line while the non-Christian is slightly above. The smallest of values becomes huge when there are many people and/or lots of time.

Okay: the Christian community is vastly more important and better, morally speaking, than the atheist, muslim, jewish, etc communities.

I take it you agree with the rephrase?

Let me skip ahead: if you balk at that and say no, even the aggregate difference in the communities is minimal, then it turns out you're going to rob yourself of the ability to criticize Christians (individually or collectively) more than /slightly/ greater in degree or frequency than non-Christians.

There is no way to have your cake and eat it too on this one.

You refuse to state a position on whether or not it is acceptable to hold Christians to any higher standard, which puts into question whether you believe Christians have any special power with which to overcome the flesh. Why are you so reticent to stake out a claim, here?

I haven't 'refused to state', but you seem pretty eager to stop talking about your own views on this matter - maybe because they're not really standing up to scrutiny.

I will say this: if I believe that Christians have a "special power" to overcome the flesh, that doesn't mean A) I know what this power is, B) I know who the true Christians are, or C) I even know how it operates. But if I do believe that Christians have a "special power" in a meaningful sense, then I'll flat out say that the culture and fate of Christians is more important than others in some relevant senses - and also may well believe, even if the empirical data can't reflect this (though I believe it does, in fact), that Christians are on average simply 'more moral' in their behavior.

I will not play the game of holding them to a higher standard for what amounts to no reason, save for what seems like green-lighting my ability to trash them. For the record, I also don't as a rule treat same-sex sexual behavior as leaps and bounds worse than adultery or premarital sex, on an act for act basis. That sure doesn't mean I suddenly think it's moral.

Why are you so eager to remove your beliefs and claims from the spotlight? I thought this was a key ingredient to being sure we hold our beliefs rationally?

I'm reticent to absolutely minimize the consequences in the way you do, here. This doesn't mean I support same-sex marriage, by the way. If anything, I think I object to the mix of civil and religious; the Church always suffers when it marries Caesar.

Oh, feel free to be mum on such laws. Just tell me whether or not you find same-sex sexual behavior immoral, and whether you find same-sex marriage to be Christian. Laws need not enter into the equation whatsoever. That will go a long way towards explaining just what impact on the culture we should regard the normalizing of such things - again, regardless of the law.

The next question would be, what is the history of such laws? Do they work permanently, or is there slippage which accumulates over time—like we're seeing it happen now, with increasingly many states approving gay marriage (or their judges, at least)?

Not really a concern with me, since I know better than to think 'laws' alone even solve much of anything. Culture takes priority there - laws reflect culture, by and large.

So no, I'm afraid I won't be pigeonholed into 'legislating the sin away'. I've said as much elsewhere. Hell, I'm half of the mind the Christians should push for the legalization of polygamy, marrying inanimate objects, dogs and more. If civil marriage is an idol, let's treat it as such - it has no moral import. Other days, I reconsider.

Luke said...

Luke: All that is required for a Christian to be tremendously different from the average non-Christian is to be slightly below that line while the non-Christian is slightly above. The smallest of values becomes huge when there are many people and/or lots of time.

Crude: Okay: the Christian community is vastly more important and better, morally speaking, than the atheist, muslim, jewish, etc communities.

I take it you agree with the rephrase?


This killed my hope in further discussion leading to good places. You might be right that my expressed views are contradictory, but I don't have the energy to fight you, every single step of the way, inch by ridiculing inch. It very much seems that you are attempting to shoving me into a mold, little bit at a time, such that at some point you can finish and declare victory. I've had this done many times—primarily atheists on the internet—and it's tiring.

I actually do hope to develop a rigorous, thorough view like you are teasing out of me, at some point. That being said, it will not be done with someone like you, someone who prefers to think the worst of my arguments instead of the best. My interpretation of Rom 12:10, "Honor one another above yourselves.", includes holding out the hope that an idea a fellow believer has put forth may have something good in it, something true in it, even if it isn't 100% perfect. Many a time, I've developed views via discussion with people who were exclusively focused on pointing out the negative, without any attempt to see the good, see possible improvements, etc. This time, I choose not to.

Maybe you don't see things as I have described, above. The thing is, though, I doubt you care how I see them. That, in and of itself, would be a problem in my book.

Crude said...

Luke,

This killed my hope in further discussion leading to good places. You might be right that my expressed views are contradictory, but I don't have the energy to fight you, every single step of the way, inch by ridiculing inch.

I'm an exhausting individual, it's true.

I don't think I'm ridiculing all that much - this is a pretty restrained conversation, though I'm being damn aggressive in pointing out what I think is a contradiction. Importantly, what aggression is in my tone didn't show up there unprovoked. You've spent this conversation trying to lecture and shame me multiple times, and early into it at that. My response has been to point out a serious flaw not only in your reasoning, but in your attitude towards - oddly enough - those you disagree with.

If you were simply saying that LGB should be treated as individuals, not as members of a collective automatically - 'THE LGBT!' - I'd be on board. If you said that you think LGBT people have been mistreated, I'd say 'no doubt' and probably go on to explain what I think that mistreatment was and is. But when I see you basically exonerating not just LGB people wholesale, but the LGBT community at large - activists and all - because "they're hurting" or the like, and then whirl around and aim the rhetorical and critical guns at Christians (particularly conservative ones), yeah, that's when you'd best have an argument that can withstand an inch by inch examination, because I've grown tired of that part of the culture, with that justification of mental abuse. Trying to disarm me with a 'turn the other cheek!' line is just going to intensify things, because guess what? The shittier atheists play that twisted-quote card whenever they're panicking.

Either way, leave if you like. I still say you're damn sharp - I never alter my estimation of someone's abilities and general traits just because they get fiery at me - but I'll throw out this barb: not only do I think I have better arguments about the ways we should treat people when they make mistakes (including Christians), not only do I think I have damn good arguments about why the LGBT community (insofar as there is an explicit LGBT subculture) is in large part a rotten thing, but I think I also have far better, far more capable arguments about how they should be treated fairly, what sympathy should be had for them, and what mistakes conservative Christians have made. I'll let my pride flare up here: someone can go after my arguments on that front inch by inch, and I bet they'll weather the investigation far better, because I don't bluff about their strength, or bluff about my attitudes, for the sake of appearances - in either direction.

Luke said...

Crude:

But when I see you basically exonerating not just LGB people wholesale, but the LGBT community at large - activists and all - because "they're hurting" or the like

This is false. It is a grid through which you have interpreted what I have said, but this was never my intention.

and then whirl around and aim the rhetorical and critical guns at Christians (particularly conservative ones)

Which guns, precisely? What, precisely, did my comments indicate I am expecting from Christians? Here's what I would state, now: Those touched by Jesus and by his disciples are the only ones who can understand: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." It is their responsibility to spread this love, this agape, into the world. This is critical part of the solution to the shallowness of relationship exhibited in America, today.

———

As to what I think was, and is shameful, I would probably have to write a blog post about it (in generalities, not named specifics). Suffice it to say that it seems like you have consistently imputed views to me which my comments do not support, views which are themselves shameful to hold. You expected poorly of me and focused on tearing my ideas down, instead of expecting well of me and focusing on building my ideas up. The world is full of people who act this way, and the sum total of their efforts seems to be largely on the "destruction" side.

Luke said...

Ok, I just have to post this, from the 2014-09-25 First Things article To Substitute Another Thirst:

> In a 2010 report commissioned by and for the Episcopal Church, the self-identified “liberal” camp described their theology of same-sex marriage like this: “Marriage is a signal means of taking part in the atonement through our very bodies. . . . [A] body’s true expression and fulfillment comes only in gift, and refusal of this gift risks the refusal of the Spirit.” Same-sex marriage, on this view, is utterly necessary for churches to affirm because it is a means for gay Christians to participate in Christ’s atoning self-gift. Or, as Eugene Rogers has put it, gay Christians’ renunciation (rather than consecration) of their desires “gives God nothing by which to redeem them, no hook in the flesh by which to capture them and pull them up.” What this means, as Douglas Farrow has pointed out, is that “Eros”—or the human pursuit and cultivation of it—“is the real mediator here, not Jesus Christ.”

This is precisely an example of what McFadyen says:

> It would place those male–female relations in which neither marriage nor coitus is a part into a subordinate position and the humanity of all those unable or choosing not to enter such relations in question.

Actually, "gives God nothing by which to redeem them" is much worse than merely "subordinate position". So... I want to give McFadyen points here, and I think in a way that you would agree with, Crude? After all, the fall corrupts our Imago Dei-ness; here are some folks who say that one must have marriage in order to redeem it. Well, that's nonsense if one interprets Imago Dei in the way McFadyen does, and his method seems the most biblical. Funny how if you get the interpretation right, it matches how reality works. It's almost like there are two witnesses: God's word and reality.

Crude said...

Actually, "gives God nothing by which to redeem them" is much worse than merely "subordinate position". So... I want to give McFadyen points here, and I think in a way that you would agree with, Crude?

Not really, and most of it comes down to the following bit:

After all, the fall corrupts our Imago Dei-ness; here are some folks who say that one must have marriage in order to redeem it. Well, that's nonsense if one interprets Imago Dei in the way McFadyen does, and his method seems the most biblical.

McFadyen is an episcopalian, who wrote that book, I believe, over a decade ago. Care to bet which way he'll swing on this topic if he's contacted and asked his opinion on gay marriage?

As if episcopalians think that people who don't get married, who have sex outside of marriage, etc, are somehow 'less than human'.

In a word, the outlined view is bullshit. In more words, it's a carefully customized view to give a thin theological veneer to a political desire, every bit as much as is Progressive Christians' "Jesus Christ himself wants you to support Obamacare!"

Shall we contact McFadyen and see where he stands?

Crude said...

This is false. It is a grid through which you have interpreted what I have said, but this was never my intention.

I don't deal with intentions. I deal with reasonable interpretations of words, and I think mine was entirely reasonable.

It's not like you denied the core of my interpretations up until now - you said, at worst, that you thought I was not looking on the bright side of it all

Which guns, precisely? What, precisely, did my comments indicate I am expecting from Christians? Here's what I would state, now: Those touched by Jesus and by his disciples are the only ones who can understand: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." It is their responsibility to spread this love, this agape, into the world.

I think God makes it pretty clear that people, period, have moral responsibilities, Christian or not.

In fact, it's not really 'Christians' who have even the responsibilities you speak of: it is 'everyone'. 'Christians' are, ideally, what we call people who knowingly and willfully fulfill their responsibilities. Doesn't always work out that way, but that's still the case.

Suffice it to say that it seems like you have consistently imputed views to me which my comments do not support, views which are themselves shameful to hold. You expected poorly of me and focused on tearing my ideas down, instead of expecting well of me and focusing on building my ideas up. The world is full of people who act this way, and the sum total of their efforts seems to be largely on the "destruction" side.

I didn't expect poorly of you. Are you kidding? Most of our interactions have been entirely positive, and I explicitly said I continued to hold the positive opinions of you I expressed. Yeah, on this topic? No, I wasn't thrilled. But so what?

I'm not going to build your ideas up if I disagree with them. I have no interest in saying - to use an unrelated example - oh sure, she supports unrestricted abortion, premarital sex, gay marriage, and also she routinely calls people who disagree with her 'hate-bigots'... oh but she says 'love is important', let's focus on THAT. Isn't she a sweet girl? I think her heart is in the right place. Let's find what we agree on and work from there.

No, sometimes - totally or on certain subjects - there's just not enough common ground to work with, and 'destruction' is appropriate, however qualified.

Luke said...

Crude,

I don't deal with intentions. I deal with reasonable interpretations of words, and I think mine was entirely reasonable.

Let's see if this is true. Here's me following the evidence on what McFadyen probably believes about same-sex marriage—I'm not going to email him and tell him that two people in an internet discussion need to know his position (but you're welcome to):

University of Leeds: Dr. Alistair McFadyen:

> He has served as a member of the Church of England's Doctrine Commission

Church of England: Same-sex Marriage:

> The Government's Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill received Royal Assent on 17th July 2013, having been passed by both Houses of Parliament.

> The Bill followed a Government consultation in 2012. The Church of England made a formal response to that consultation in June 2012 and accompanied it with a press release. In December 2012 the Government published a summary of responses to the consultation, alongside its own response.

From the first response:

> The Church of England cannot support the proposal to enable "all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony".

> Such a move would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history. Marriage benefits society in many ways, not only by promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which, for many, includes the possibility of procreation.

So Crude, please explain your crusade against McFadyen, and your quasi-crusade, against me. One model for your treatment of both of us is an embattled mentality, where if anyone says or does something that remotely reminds you of The Enemy, you go into high alert and pull out the guns. In any event, you were likely wrong. And I'm not sure you'll even admit that, now. Perhaps you'll point out the fact that McFadyen worked on the Church of England's Doctrine Commission in the past, and conclude therefore that he is in support of same-sex marriage. I hope not, but given your current momentum in this thread...

> No, sometimes - totally or on certain subjects - there's just not enough common ground to work with, and 'destruction' is appropriate, however qualified.

I see. Has that worked out well in the past? Has it produced verifiably good fruit? I'm curious; in my experience it does not.

Crude said...

Church of England: Same-sex Marriage:

The CoE isn't known for speaking with a unified voice on these matters internally, and often externally, as one look at Spong or even Tutu will indicate.

So Crude, please explain your crusade against McFadyen, and your quasi-crusade, against me.

Crusade? Seriously? 'Never mentioned him before, likely will never mention him again, am not a fan of what I'm seeing of his writing' cashes out to 'crusade'?

And a quasi-crusade against you? I'm waiting for my comments policy being likened to being released from Dachau. If we're going for crazy hyperbole, let's really shoot for the stars.

We are having a disagreement, Luke. I'm being sarcastic at times, but otherwise things are pretty tame on my end.

In any event, you were likely wrong. And I'm not sure you'll even admit that, now.

I am amused that 'He's an episcopalian who advised the Church of England on doctrine, in what we we do not know' is supposed to be slam-dunk that he's opposed to gay marriage - and likewise that you think the criticism I've displayed of him in this entire exchange falls if he's opposed to gay marriage. You may as well point at Bill and Hillary Clinton's past stances on gay marriage as slam-dunk evidence they weren't really in the corner for it. Actually, those two at least were on record as opposing it, so their trick was harder to pull off - you can't play that game nowadays.

Whatever the case - as ever, I am game. Bluff called. McFadyen is emailed. We'll see what he has to say.

I see. Has that worked out well in the past? Has it produced verifiably good fruit?

Sure has, measured in terms of 'bad arguments torched', 'bad ideas highlighted as exactly that' and even, at times, 'dishonest people exposed'. Quite good fruit, that. Maybe you define it elsewise.

Has the method exemplified by McFadyen produced 'verifiably good fruit'? See, my experience is that it hasn't. At best, it confuses the issues. At worst, it promotes the idea that THESE people are victims and THOSE people are the persecutors, that it's mean to talk about the "victims'" failings, and of urgent concern to paint the persecutors as doing things like "robbing the humanity" of those they disagree with.

I'm not a fan of the methods I see you as espousing on this topic, Luke. I've given my reasons why, with some sarcasm but little fanfare otherwise. If you want to continue to play the game where you're the pious victim, head held high though with an aura touched by sadness (yet forgiveness of the ignorance!) to my furious, wild-eyed Inquisitor screaming "BURN, HERETIC!", feel free.

Don't count on it, as you say, yielding good fruit.

Luke said...

Crusade? Seriously?

I'm sorry, I should have said "as a side quest to your crusade against LGBT activists, those who sympathize with them, and those who act as victims for sympathy". It is very easy for people to get so embattled that they see anyone who even roughly pattern-matches their enemy, as the enemy. Maybe you aren't doing this, but you certainly match that pattern.

And a quasi-crusade against you?

Yes. You have accused me of (1) acting the "pious victim"; (2) "basically exonerating not just LGB people wholesale, but the LGBT community at large"; (3) being like "The shittier atheists"; (4) grossly misconstruing my argument by saying "the Christian community is vastly more important and better, morally speaking, than ..."; (5) accusing me of arguing for "'justifying ourselves in the eyes of others'"; (6) misconstruing the difference between "culture heading toward decline" and "culture heading toward better places" as being tiny instead of huge; (7) accusing me of looking for "THE cause for social or personal failings" even when you previously acknowledged: "you said 'biggest problem'".

These are signs that you are attempting to press me into the mold that some of your interlocutors may fit. And you know what? I didn't see this at first, because I didn't expect that you would do such a thing, given whom you claim to follow.

I am amused that 'He's an episcopalian who advised the Church of England on doctrine, in what we we do not know' is supposed to be slam-dunk that he's opposed to gay marriage

Nope, it is merely to counter the level of research you did to contribute to your bias of thinking McFadyen is pro-same-sex marriage and all the other bad stuff with which you associated him. I misspoke if I gave the impression that it was "slam-dunk"; I almost changed that before submitting, and now regret that I didn't. My apologies.

Whatever the case - as ever, I am game. Bluff called. McFadyen is emailed. We'll see what he has to say.

And if he comes out against same-sex marriage? Will you say you were fully justified up until that new piece of evidence?

Sure has, measured in terms of 'bad arguments torched', 'bad ideas highlighted as exactly that' and even, at times, 'dishonest people exposed'. Quite good fruit, that. Maybe you define it elsewise.

Curious; I wonder if Jesus would agree with that measure of "success". I suppose one could construe his interactions with the Pharisees in this light, but that would be only a fraction of what he did.

Has the method exemplified by McFadyen produced 'verifiably good fruit'? See, my experience is that it hasn't.

I have no idea what your experience is, in this realm. What I do believe is that if you drive out one demon without putting something better in its place, it will go out, find seven demons worse than it, and return to take up residence once again. I just don't see you providing that "something better". From what I see here, it's just "drive out! drive out! drive out!". Perhaps my sampling is insufficient.

Crude said...

It is very easy for people to get so embattled that they see anyone who even roughly pattern-matches their enemy, as the enemy. Maybe you aren't doing this, but you certainly match that pattern.

If you take a moment to really think about what you've written here, you may well see the unintended irony.

If I have a question about someone, I ask more questions. That's precisely what I did here, other than express my criticisms of and skepticism about a given approach to the issue. Serious criticisms, deep skepticism, I grant you - but little else.

I pointed out the contradictions and problems of your responses, and you not only kept jumping around, but kept playing the 'for SHAME, Crude' game. I see we're back to that again.

But you know what? Let's go down your list.

(1) acting the "pious victim"

Sure did. I stand by it, especially in light of your most recent comment.

(2) "basically exonerating not just LGB people wholesale, but the LGBT community at large"

Keep going: "because "they're hurting" or the like, and then whirl around and aim the rhetorical and critical guns at Christians (particularly conservative ones)"

Yep, I stand by it.

(3) being like "The shittier atheists";

Wrong: I said the stern admonitions to 'turn the other cheek' was a card in use among them. Again, I stand by it.

4) grossly misconstruing my argument by saying

Wrong. I gave a rephrase, and asked if you agreed with it. I also pointed out the problems with your logic and your approach.

(5) accusing me of arguing for "'justifying ourselves in the eyes of others'";

"We can clarify what reasons we have for individual beliefs, and let people judge accordingly." This was your response to my question about appealing to personal experience to justify belief.

(6) misconstruing the difference between "culture heading toward decline" and "culture heading toward better places" as being tiny instead of huge

Wrong. I pointed out - after you tried to minimize the moral capabilities of Christians while saying it's the aggregate that has a big impact - that this would simply mean the Christian community was morally of greater importance than non-Christian in the relevant context, OR you were saying that even the community as a whole has at best a marginal difference, in which case it's not very important at all.

(7) accusing me of looking for "THE cause for social or personal failings" even when you previously acknowledged: "you said 'biggest problem'".

"One difference here is that you seem to look for THE cause for social or personal failings, whereas I don't bother, because there's always a mix of factors."

Funny how you phrase that as me sternly accusing you of something, as opposed to saying what things seem like to me, and a possible difference in our approaches.

No, I don't think your list has much to concern me. Now, would you care for me to make a list of my worries about what you've done and said? Do you think you'll be able to answer it, point by point, as I did?

Crude said...

These are signs that you are attempting to press me into the mold that some of your interlocutors may fit. And you know what? I didn't see this at first, because I didn't expect that you would do such a thing, given whom you claim to follow.

And there it is again, that mix of sanctimony and condemnation wrapped up with a neat little bow on it. However could I accuse you of playing the pious victim.

What you are seeing signs of, Luke, is me asking you questions to see where you stand - rather, what you were seeing. Now that you're lashing out with every 'shame' trick you think you can pull, I admit, my estimation of things is changing.

And if he comes out against same-sex marriage? Will you say you were fully justified up until that new piece of evidence?

Fully justified in what? Criticizing his approach? You're damn well right I'm justified of there. I will have misjudged his views on same-sex marriage. Shit happens, mistakes get made, and I have no problem copping to them when I make them.

Do you think I'm criticizing him just because of what I suspect his views about that question are? He can be full-bore traditionalist Catholic and I'd be criticizing what I've seen of his approach.

I suppose one could construe his interactions with the Pharisees in this light, but that would be only a fraction of what he did.

I suppose my approach is at least partially Christ-like by your view then, now isn't it?

What I do believe is that if you drive out one demon without putting something better in its place,

Even Christ only worked so much, so far, before saying 'Well, now it's up to you.'

Luke said...

> These are signs that you are attempting to press me into the mold that some of your interlocutors may fit. And you know what? I didn't see this at first, because I didn't expect that you would do such a thing, given whom you claim to follow.

And there it is again, that mix of sanctimony and condemnation wrapped up with a neat little bow on it. However could I accuse you of playing the pious victim.


You ignored dealing with whether or not the sum total of your actions are well-modeled by attempting to press me into a mold into which I do not fit. Actually demonstrating this would be quite the effort, but perhaps I would be up to it. Were I to be able to show that you made several unfounded assumptions about me (assumptions which assume badly of me) and that they played out in your questioning of me, would you consider that you have erred, in a matter more serious than a mere factual error?

Crude, I have absolutely no problem considering that perhaps I am more at fault in this thread than I have let on so far. I'm a slow learner; I don't merely accept people's bare assertions that I have morally erred. What is very interesting to me, is that you have 100% self-justified, and show no sign whatsoever of considering that perhaps you have erred in a way other than a minor factual sense. Can you see this? You come off as virtually certain. Should a fellow Christian be offended at how you conduct yourself, you [apparently] don't give a shit. Do you see this as a perfectly A-OK thing to do? I mean, I get that there are false kinds of offense—we talked about this ad nauseum—but do you think it's never legit?

Now, would you care for me to make a list of my worries about what you've done and said? Do you think you'll be able to answer it, point by point, as I did?

I could, but I think you're in a better position to do that. Why don't you pick out the top N most important points of yours, and restate them briefly? That way, we can be sure that the importance is ranked as you would rank it.

This is perhaps out of the scope of this conversation, but I'd be interested in knowing what is your proposed solution to the mess America is in. I'm reminded of Isaiah 58 and in particular, v9's bit about taking away the pointing of the finger. I'm quite interested in how much power the law actually has to reform, given stuff like Romans 7. I'm also deeply suspicious of how much politics can accomplish, after reading some of Jacques Ellul's work (e.g. The Political Illusion, The Technological Society, Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes). I deeply wonder about the extent grace is required to actually make things better.

Crude said...

Luke,

You ignored dealing with whether or not the sum total of your actions are well-modeled by attempting to press me into a mold into which I do not fit.

Asking you questions is not 'pressing you into a mold which you do not fit'. Neither is pointing out flaws in your reasoning, even if I'm aggressive about it.

And that, really, is the heart of things. I haven't been saying 'You're a damn dirty LGB activist, aren't you? CONFESS!' I've been saying, 'The reasoning on display in this statement is one I reject. I see it show up here and there with these kinds of people. Here are questions I have about your position - some of these will be damn tough to answer.'

By the way, more than one has been completely two-faced in their approach to these topics. In fact, two-facedness absolutely abounds on this topic. One only has to look at the number of people who were totally, absolutely against gay marriage (but in favor of civil unions) until they felt the wind was at their back - and then they changed sides on the instant. And we're talking self-identified Christians here.

My being skeptical that the person talking about how the very humanity of LGB people is being robbed when people don't like having them around in a group isn't trigger-happy paranoia. It's being aware of reality.

What is very interesting to me, is that you have 100% self-justified, and show no sign whatsoever of considering that perhaps you have erred in a way other than a minor factual sense. Can you see this? You come off as virtually certain.

No, I come off as certain enough, and not wracked with doubt. I see things as I see them, I have my arguments as I understand them, I evaluate others' arguments as they are presented. If I find them wanting, what - should I apologize?

What you've seen here isn't certainty that I'm right, it's skepticism of others' claims. Again, you want to go down that list of claims and see if my being skeptical is reasonable? Let's go.

And, might I add, you haven't exactly been Mister Meek. You've been trying to shame me and play the 'you're a bad Christian right now!' card on me multiple times, and in my view very inappropriately.

Should a fellow Christian be offended at how you conduct yourself, you [apparently] don't give a shit. Do you see this as a perfectly A-OK thing to do?

Depending on the context? I sure do. Especially insofar as that cashes out to 'Someone stating they're offended doesn't knock you off-balance or cash you into self-doubt in and of itself'.

Why don't you pick out the top N most important points of yours, and restate them briefly? That way, we can be sure that the importance is ranked as you would rank it.

I'm skeptical of academics, I think complaints about LGB people being 'robbed of their humanity' is needless, not to mention grimly humorous hyperbole, and I think Episcopalian documents about how excluding LGB people from marriage makes them subhumans is a joke. In fact, I think much the same about Episcopalians, full stop. Do they even preach the resurrection anymore?

Nor have I been turning to 'politics' as a solution, but recognizing its flaws. As I said, I'm of half the mind that not only should gay marriage be legalized, but every union imaginable. If civil marriage is a joke - and legalized LGB marriage may well be the straw breaking that camel's back - then let's deny it our respect altogether.

Luke said...

Asking you questions is not 'pressing you into a mold which you do not fit'.

Do you deny that it's possible to insinuate all sorts of stuff via "just asking questions"? Let's examine an example:

Crude:
> At what point does the victimhood dissipate and it's time to let culpability take center stage for a little while?

Luke:
> As to culpability: Romans 2:24, and I don't mean that in an anti-Jew sense.

> It is my strong opinion that Christians need to start understanding what true relationship looks like, what true friendship is, and spreading that about.

Crude:

> Can't be my fault, Luke - that would be assigning culpability, after all.

———

What did I say which implies that "assigning culpability" is something that ought not be done? If you cannot provide a sound case that what I said could be construed this way, then what you did here is evidence of attempting to press me into a mold, of those who really do deny moral responsibility.

N.B. I'm getting increasingly interested in getting my hands on a copy of Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility, because I am fascinated by those who actually do lack the ontological foundations for moral responsibility.

What I have consistently maintained is that Christians have an extra burden of responsibility, even if that burden is a small additional increment. Among other things, Jesus said "Forgive them for they know not what they do." as well as "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." I am curious as to what you make of these verses, of what it might actually mean to be "salt and light", what that "ministry of reconciliation" looks like, etc. You see, I understand all of this as to be the only way to possibly make things better. And yeah, it puts an extra burden on Christians. Jesus sacrificed of himself and endured injustice on the earth, with him telling us: "take up your cross and follow me". Or you have Paul in Rom 8:16-17 warning us that failing to "suffer with him" will result in us failing to "be glorified with him".

Let's see what you do with the above. I can only conclude that your choice to view me as probably holding the view that "assigning culpability is bad" (to just the victims, I guess?) was the guess that I hold a stupid-ass view (which you "hold in contempt"), instead of holding out hope that perhaps I adhere to a biblical and sensible view. You assumed the worst of me, and I claim it was based on woefully incomplete evidence. I fail to see how this is a way to "outdo one another in showing honor", but perhaps you have an explanation for how it was?

Perhaps you could also explain your understanding of Romans 2:24.

Crude said...

Luke,

Do you deny that it's possible to insinuate all sorts of stuff via "just asking questions"?

I deny that it was done here. Do you deny displaying pious victimhood in this exchange?

What did I say which implies that "assigning culpability" is something that ought not be done?

Romans 2:24 - "As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

To be frank, my response to you was incredibly judicious and relaxed considering you shooting that at me in response to my pretty reasonable, if exasperatingly phrased, question.

What I have consistently maintained is that Christians have an extra burden of responsibility, even if that burden is a small additional increment.

No, what you have done in this exchange is offer up various people, including subcultures that have an absolutely rotten moral track record, as victims. Not merely victims, but victims who you've been extremely reluctant to assign any culpability to - and the one time you approached doing so, you immediately whirled around and criticized Christians more. You have in turn offered up Christians for condemnation.

When you attempted to justify this by citing that Christians have the Holy Spirit working inside of them and therefore more is to be expected of them, I asked what would naturally follow from that: whether that therefore means that Christians, on average, will be more morally reliable than atheists, Jews, muslims, etc.

You responded by minimizing that difference, but arguing that the aggregate effects of even a slight difference may be monumental. I replied by asking if that therefore means the Christian /community/ is of more importance than non-Christian communities, since that would contain the aggregate effect. I also pointed out that if the difference there too is 'minimal', then out goes the justification for expecting all that much more from Christians - but if the difference is large on that level, then it would follow that yes, they are more important, etc.

But that would require elevating Christians above non-Christians in some way, if only as a group, wouldn't it? And I admit, I don't see a willingness on your part to be consistent on this front.

Finally, it's /responsibility/ now. But previously, it was also /capability/.

Let's see what you do with the above.

Point out the various times where Christ turned people away due to their lack of sincerity, called people sinners and particular acts sins, talked about people who were lost and would face judgement, and more. Bringing St Paul into the equation will multiply things to an extreme - moreso once start realizing that Paul and company focused heavily on ministering to Christian communities, rather than letting said communities be socially mingled with non-Christians.

Suffice to say, 'Christ suffered' and 'Christ was merciful' doesn't get you anywhere near 'therefore it's right to be highly critical of Christians while being utterly gentle and soft-spoken with open and unapologetic opponents of Christianity'. In fact, since admonitions of this order are apparently in season, I'll add: to do so is to mock Christ.

instead of holding out hope that perhaps I adhere to a biblical and sensible view.

Like you're doing in my case? Or are you looking at the view I've held out and demonstrated and saying, 'No, that doesn't seem at all like what I think is right, therefore I criticize it.'? And if that's acceptable in your case - working off incomplete knowledge, but to the best of your ability, as you may say - then how can you deny it from me?

My understanding of Romans 2:24, that will depend on the context it's employed in conversation. In and of itself, it's an admonition to be consistent.

Likewise, let's have an opportunity to clear the air here. I'd like to know your thoughts on the moral status of same-sex sexual behavior, as well as same-sex marriage. Thank you.

Luke said...

Do you deny displaying pious victimhood in this exchange?

I do not know what you mean by "pious victimhood". You seem to have an idea in your head of how much or little (zero?) fault I place on LGBT activists, which seems somehow to connect with the notion of "pious victimhood". Beyond that, things seem fuzzy.

To be frank, my response to you was incredibly judicious and relaxed considering you shooting that at me in response to my pretty reasonable, if exasperatingly phrased, question.

Did you take "Romans 2:24" as aimed at you, personally, instead of in-context, being those who claim that they know how to do the right thing, but (a) don't do it, and/or (b) treat others harshly, not knowing that it is the gentleness of God which brings people to repentance? You were asking about culpability; that was my first response when I think "culpability" in relation to a matter that involves Christians and non-Christians.

No, what you have done in this exchange is offer up various people, including subcultures that have an absolutely rotten moral track record, as victims.

From my perspective, you have utterly misconstrued what I have indeed done in this exchange. From now on, if you continue this construal, you will be overriding my now-explicitly-stated intentions—implying that I am a liar or at least deceived about my internal state—instead of respecting them as such and attempting to make sense of what I say in that light.

Finally, it's /responsibility/ now. But previously, it was also /capability/.

Well, strictly speaking you have responsibility for positive change, and culpability for current negative situations. I believe that responsibility tracks with capability. I'm curious: how do you deal with Jesus' claim, "Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town."? (Mt 10:15, also see Mt 11:23–24)

If I have conflated responsibility and culpability, my apologies. Perhaps I automatically flipped to the one I thought was most relevant, and ought to have been explicit about it. Or perhaps I made a mistake.

Suffice to say, 'Christ suffered' and 'Christ was merciful' doesn't get you anywhere near 'therefore it's right to be highly critical of Christians while being utterly gentle and soft-spoken with open and unapologetic opponents of Christianity'.

What have I said which can be construed as being "soft-spoken"? I am very curious about this; it seems like you are mostly engaged in an "argument from silence" on this matter. Perhaps because I place more responsibility on Christians, you think I place zero responsibility on non-Christians? That would be an invalid inference.

Like you're doing in my case?

We are not examining your case, we're examining your guesswork on my case. I already admitted much more than you ever have in this discussion: "Crude, I have absolutely no problem considering that perhaps I am more at fault in this thread than I have let on so far."

Luke said...

Likewise, let's have an opportunity to clear the air here. I'd like to know your thoughts on the moral status of same-sex sexual behavior, as well as same-sex marriage. Thank you.

I don't have firm thoughts on the matter of same-sex sexual behavior. I do believe God's commands are rational and connect to reality, and that seems to allow for a bit of consequentialist reasoning. Therefore, the most I generally say is that I want to see how well homosexuals can (i) avoid premarital sex; (ii) hold the same vows as Christians have traditionally expected of heterosexuals. This doesn't mean I think that homosexuality is correct, but the results of such an "monogamy experiment" would help clear up the statistics quite a lot. For example, I am well-aware of e.g. studies showing a significantly increased incidence of sporadic violence among homosexual men. On the other hand, I am aware of how the feeling of persecution can turn into anger which can be directed toward those who are not the perpetrators. From what I can tell, the consequences are very murky, right now.

On the flip side, a major aspect to the Bible is trusting obedience, when one does not have all the information. So I consider there to be a significant possibility that homosexual acts really are sinful and bad. Even if we ignore with the distinction-destruction that led to research on performativity (very neat if read in light of God speaking the world into existence BTW), it could be that homosexual acts really do pervert the soul. But I am not convinced enough about this to make a huge fuss. I would, quite honestly, prefer to make a fuss about the kind of language Driscoll is reported as using: language to tear people down, grossly violate 1 Cor 10:23–24 and I think the spirit of Eph 5:4 (I don't think Eph 5:4 is talking about expletives, at least not primarily: one can tear someone down in High English). Contra the ultimate effect of John MacArthur's teachings (for example), I see spiritual sins as much worse than physical sins. Abuse of power and lust for power I see as worse than homosexuality could possibly be.

If the American church were more spiritually healthy, I think a lot would be cleared up. Most importantly, I have a hard time with those who whine that the sins of non-Christians are badly affecting Christians, when the result is a requirement that those other people behave better. From what I can tell, this is not what Jesus taught. Instead, only those who choose to be part of the community are held to the community's standards. Only those who so-choose have the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the flesh. As for the rest, I choose secular standards, which ought to be lower than the church's standards (otherwise the church has become conformed to the image of the world).

As to same-sex marriage, I am of the opinion that Caesar and the Church must finally get fully divorced. Let the state do what it will with civil unions through secular discourse; instead establish high-fault (vs. no-fault) marriage which is given its label by churches. Let's return Christianity and marriage to covenantal status, where one enters by choice, counting the cost and agreeing to pay it ahead of time. (e.g. require high-quality premarital counseling) I am in favor of "till death do us part" actually meaning that, instead of the destruction of language which is pervasive in our times.

Are the above views in any way surprising, given what you have read and inferred from my previous words?

Crude said...

Are the above views in any way surprising, given what you have read and inferred from my previous words?

Not at all.

You have, throughout this conversation, emoted all kinds of shock, hurt, dismay and righteous indignation at my skepticism of the arguments put forth by your sources, and my view that their language seemed like people who had decided to withhold judgment of or condemnation regarding what I think are clear moral failings of orthodox Christianity, and failings which are not just pitfalls people fall into, but which certain subcultures actually and openly celebrate and even encourage. You have tried every which-way to shame and - let me be clear - manipulate me - chiding me repeatedly for coming to the provisional conclusions I have, suggesting strongly that I obviously had things wrong (my favorite yet was arguing that since your quoted source was an episcopalian and episcopalians are basically Anglicans and, for the moment, Anglicans do not endorse same-sex marriage, that therefore McFadyen was obviously more likely to be an opponent of same-sex marriage.)

All of this bluster about how these poor LGB activists are victims - they just want friends! - and how the mean old Christians are the ones who deserve harsh criticism and condemnation (because clearly when an LGB activist is vicious and sinful, they're hurting, but the Christian who acts up is just a prick.) You have nimbly tried to avoid saying anything negative about such groups and always wanting to shift the subject back to the Christians (who managed to go from being far more important because of the power of the Holy Spirit working within them, to not really very important because apparently the Holy Spirit isn't all THAT powerful.) Finally I decide to ask directly your views on gay marriage and same-sex sexual behavior.

And I basically get told 'We need to do more research to determine whether or not this is a sin, but I don't really think it is and it's not important anyway - let's go after the Christians some more!'

Pardon me for making another provisional judgment here: I think you're full of shit, and the idea that the sinfulness of an action is determined by the result of sociology studies is dark humor.

I can deal with smoke-blowing. I can deal with disagreement. I cannot deal with someone who gives off every scent and 'tell' of a person who is bluffing like crazy on this issue, and who is trying to manipulate. Echoes of the last Christian who talked about how 'Saving souls is more important than fighting against gay marriage!!! Let's minister to Christians, and maybe we can return to this issue in 100 years!! It's not as important right now!', without telling everyone that they were flat out in favor of gay marriage, and weren't all that enthusiastic about regarding same-sex sexual acts as immoral either - but damn well believed that most people who opposed such did so because they were bigots.

But they decided that a better way to influence people was to put up one front and change the subject. They wanted to be a source of negative morale, so at the end of the day their opponents would give up, shut up, and go home from being worn down - and if they needed to pretend to be an ally to slide that dagger in as deep as it would go, they'd do so.

And I see it here again. Yes, I know - I wound you deeply. I misconstrue, you have plausible deniability and this and that and whatever else is needed. I disagree, and I am not enough of a fool to ignore clear evidence and typical patterns.

We have nothing more to discuss, Luke. Outspoken assholes like Driscoll may harm the Church - they really do - but we have as much, even more of a problem with people engaged in sanctimonious conniving, and people blowing the all-too-familiar smoke that they blow.

This brand of dishonesty, this variety of would-be emotional manipulation, I do not tolerate. Play this game somewhere else, and next time, choose your target more carefully.

lotharlorraine said...

Dear Crude, I seriously fear you've lost your ability to charitably interpret your opponents.

Luke is far more Conservative than I am and he really tried to have a rational and open conversation with you.
I know him well now and I can testify he's truly a kind, nice and loving person.
He does mistakes like everyone else living under the sun.

Without your negative attitude, this would have been most likely an enjoyable exchange.

"I think you're full of shit"

This is a very peculiar way to honor Christ.
Words have consequences and they can deeply hurt a person.
Since we're called to love our ENEMIES as ourselves, we certainly should pay attention to both our actions and sentences.

Jesus was only mean towards self-righteous bigots.

Luke wrote me and he was truly upset by your misbehavior.

I agree with Luke you never called yourself into question in this post and all your last interactions with respectful opponents.

How often do you pray to God: "Lord, I humbly sit before your feet. Show me please all ways in which I am erring and bringing shame onto your Holy Name."?

If John Shore act like an asshole, I clearly call him to repent.
I see no reason to make an exception with you.

Lovely greetings nonetheless.

And pardon me for my coarse words as well.

Crude said...

Lothar,

Dear Crude, I seriously fear you've lost your ability to charitably interpret your opponents.

No, what I have is a limit for certain antics and nonsense, and Luke reached it after a long series of exchanges spanning days. Note: a limit. I dealt with a good amount of obvious bullshit, debating gimmicks, and would-be manipulation with relative patience - but once I decide enough is enough, I plainly said I was no longer interested in the discussion, I explained why, and that was that.

Luke is far more Conservative than I am and he really tried to have a rational and open conversation with you.
I know him well now and I can testify he's truly a kind, nice and loving person.


Respectfully, sir - you and I evaluate others differently.

Without your negative attitude, this would have been most likely an enjoyable exchange.

I am not performing for anyone's pleasure.

This is a very peculiar way to honor Christ.
Words have consequences and they can deeply hurt a person.


So can the truth. As for 'peculiar way to honor Christ', Christ wasn't exactly known for always saying niceities that people enjoyed hearing. He was crucified for a reason.

Jesus was only mean towards self-righteous bigots.

No, he also took a whip to crooks, he called people sinners and lectured women on their sexual habits, and threatened people with hellfire. Frankly, Christ didn't interact much with 'bigots', save for making 12 of them who would qualify as such by any modern interpretation of the word as His apostles.

Pardon, I don't worship at the altar of nice and image. I feel no gnawing urge to pretend someone is not, in fact, full of shit when every indication tells me they are exactly that, after a long series of exchanges. Nor can it be said that I take this attitude only with 'enemies' - Luke and I got along swimmingly until now.

Luke wrote me and he was truly upset by your misbehavior.

And I found Luke's behavior offensive. I hold my offense only to a point.

I agree with Luke you never called yourself into question in this post and all your last interactions with respectful opponents.

I don't 'call myself into question' as a gift or an act of courtesy. I hold largely provisional views based on my evaluation of the evidence. As for 'last interactions with respectful opponents' - again, I question your evaluation.

How often do you pray to God: "Lord, I humbly sit before your feet. Show me please all ways in which I am erring and bringing shame onto your Holy Name."?

Because clearly I'm not doing that, else I'd act the way you want - right?

If John Shore act like an asshole, I clearly call him to repent.

I was right about Shore, Lothar, while you were quoting him with approval. And Shore is just the tip of the iceberg.

I notice, by the by, one of your other Vicars of Being Nice at your blog turns out to endorse Shore's methods, expressly because he gets results.

What was your condemnation of Calvinists again? You shall know them by their fruits? Do consider what that means for "progressives".

malcolmthecynic said...

Crude, I will note that this is essentially a miniature version of what I went through talking to Sheila. Sheila was "nice", and I was not, and Marc sides with the nice.

Marc - I think it's a shame sometimes, because if you stopped caring so much about being nice I think that what you have to say would be even more interesting to read, and discussion more fruitful. Instead you end up with an echo chamber where the people who don't agree with the progressive crowd on your blog are not only disagreed with but disqualified because of our views. They're not even worth considering because of the "tone".

A poster once called me a "Hitler lover" because I pointed out his moral system was illogical. You came onto my blog to defend him, because he was "nice" to you.

Another poster implied that I didn't care about women who were raped or suicidal, despite co-running an anti-suicide charity. This was after I toned my dialogue down with her by the way, unprompted, and made a specific effort to be "nice" to her. When I objected to this, pointed out the places she was intellectually dishonest, and defended myself, you chastised me for not being "nice". Meanwhile this poster has become one of your most valued commenters.

Here's my own, serious advice to you in return for the advice you give me: Try and understand why Crude and I react the way we do, because it's not about anger or disrespect. I don't think you're a bad man, Marc, but I genuinely think you don't "get" where we're coming from at all.

Crude said...

Malcolm,

I wouldn't put Luke in Sheila's category of course, but yeah. I get the feeling that the script is supposed to go:

"Progressive" (or at least situationally "progressive") person calls you mean, or a monster, or admonishes you in the name of Christ for whatever they dislike at the moment.

Conservative pauses, accepts this without question, apologizes in advance, reflects on this, announces they were wrong and further apologizes, acts more meek in the future, hopefully moves in the (sometimes situationally) progressive's direction.

Not interested.

Luke said...

@malcomthecynic

Crude, I will note that this is essentially a miniature version of what I went through talking to Sheila. Sheila was "nice", and I was not, and Marc sides with the nice.

I actually agree that niceness ought not be the top-tier guiding principle; it must be agape, as I recently argued to you. It must be truth-based agape, as C.S. Lewis so wonderfully illustrated in Till We Have Faces (his least-liked work), as well as in The Great Divorce. But truth without agape? That's 1 Cor 13:1–3-land. Every is-statement Satan made to Jesus during his temptation was true. Satan's error was in intention. Satan can lie, but he can also tell the truth, if one pretends there is an impenetrable fact/value dichotomy and one is only dealing with "the facts".

@Crude

I wouldn't put Luke in Sheila's category of course, but yeah. I get the feeling that the script is supposed to go:

"Progressive" (or at least situationally "progressive") person calls you mean, or a monster, or admonishes you in the name of Christ for whatever they dislike at the moment.


You are the first, and the only person, who has ever called me a "progressive". I personally do not see myself in that light. Now, you could be right, but it could also be the case that you corralled me into appearing like a progressive with very guided questions. I claim it is the latter case. I actually don't know what a "progressive Christian" is; I have agreed with you in disliking a significant portion of Marc's behavior, which appears to go under the label "progressive". Indeed, although I haven't extensively studied "progressive Christianity", I fear that truth-based agape is not its top-level concern. If that is the case, then it isn't actually "Christianity", but a heresy.

I predict it would be interesting to study the fracture between truth and agape. We could perhaps start with [lol] 'progressive' Christian Randal Rauser's Theology in Search of Foundations:

> According to Ellen Charry, the first millennium of the Church was dominated by a 'sapiential theology' which seamlessly integrated knowledge and goodness in keeping with its Hebraic and Hellenistic origins: 'In a Hellenistic environment, knowledge is true if it leads us into goodness, making us happy and good. The idea that knowing good things makes us good implies continuity between the knower and what she knows. It is not simply to be cognizant of the truth but to be assimilated into it'.[5] As a result, sapiential theology sought to gain the knowledge of God by which people might live in the truth. By contrast, our world today is remarkably fractured. Charry traces the fracturing of theology to the rediscovery of Aristotelianism in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, at which point theology adopted a highly technical, rigorous, and specialized approach that subtly switched its primary focus from sapientia to scientia. As a result, the medieval scholastic was constrained to search for scientia, a knowledge which is both incorrigible (it cannot fail) and indubitable (it cannot be doubted) and which, while formally excluding first principles, included all the deductions from intuitive first principles. (9)

Crude said...

You are the first, and the only person, who has ever called me a "progressive".

I said 'situationally progressive' as well.

Now, you could be right, but it could also be the case that you corralled me into appearing like a progressive with very guided questions.

More like targeted questions that left little room for bullshit, preceded by a variety of questions that left a whole lot of room for bullshit.

According to Ellen Charry

What is with you and the episcopalian theologians?

Not every 'fracture' is bad.

Luke said...

I said 'situationally progressive' as well.

Is that better, or worse, than simply 'progressive', in your book? I could see it either way, but I'm guessing you had one of those specifically in mind. For example: I could be slipping into becoming a 100% progressive Christian (bad), I could be contradictory (bad), or I could be resisting becoming a 100% progressive Christian (good).

More like targeted questions that left little room for bullshit, preceded by a variety of questions that left a whole lot of room for bullshit.

We will perhaps forever disagree on this. I look forward to the day Jesus will tell us which was which. Maybe someone other than you can give a third-person perspective, but right now our options appear to be @malcomthecynic and @Marc—not good options for third-party objective judgments, I'm afraid.

What is with you and the episcopalian theologians?

I wasn't even aware she was Episcopalian. Are you using that as reason to believe that she was incorrect on what I quoted? I do have a tendency to attempt to evaluate statements in a manner quite divorced from the person who made them; this has its strengths and its weaknesses. For example, a seminary student who led a small group at the university I attended wrote an essay on spiritual abuse which could be interpreted well. However, he himself did what you and I both hate: encouraged permanent spiritual babyhood. He avoided harm, but he also avoided growth. You couldn't immediately derive this from the essay, but you could see this easily by examining the person's behavior. What I don't know, is whether his behavior somehow 'polluted' the essay, making it worthless (or sufficiently dangerous to be unusable).

Not every 'fracture' is bad.

Well, how does fracture not imply "loss of unity"? I get that sometimes one has to tear to heal (Hos 6:1–2) and that sometimes one has to smash with the hope (guarantee?) that a remnant emerges and turns back from its evil ways. Are you interpreting 'fracture' in this light, or in some other light—where a permanent fracture is acceptable? That would seem to be at odds with Eph 1:7–10, although perhaps this ends up being a discussion about universal salvation. I want universal salvation to be true, but I would not be surprised if it weren't. I see hell is a very real danger, whether it is in perpetuity or ends in annihilation.

Crude said...

I could see it either way, but I'm guessing you had one of those specifically in mind. For example: I could be slipping into becoming a 100% progressive Christian (bad), I could be contradictory (bad), or I could be resisting becoming a 100% progressive Christian (good).

It was a statement about one belief among an assortment, not an indication of motion from one view to another.

I wasn't even aware she was Episcopalian. Are you using that as reason to believe that she was incorrect on what I quoted?

I'm using it to evaluate where she's coming from on the question, and noting that the Episcopalian church is a complete disaster.

Are you interpreting 'fracture' in this light, or in some other light—where a permanent fracture is acceptable?

Christianity fractures every community it arrives in the moment non-Christians become Christian. Some people can be well guaranteed to never become Christian. The 'fracturing' is not bad in and of itself there.

Crude said...

By the way - I continue to find it amusing that Marc's blog is proving my points about 'nice'. I glanced there and what do I see?

"Nice" people defending Shore because he's seen as effective. (Better yet: Shore's a great guy and we shouldn't complicate his results by criticizing him, because all these other people are monsters who are ruining religion. The guy saying this, however, doesn't name names, because he thinks naming names of those he criticizes would be wrong. I wish just once one of these 'Judge not' people would realize that positive endorsement is a goddamn judgment.)

"Nice" people arguing they can't be nice to "nice" conservatives because other "not-nice" conservatives admire or are friends with them.

And what does it take to be on the "not-nice" list? Well, for one thing - if you think it should be legal for a Christian baker to NOT have to make a cake for a gay wedding, you are not nice and deserve to be savaged, Shore-style.

"Nice" means "you agree with us, or you support all of our laws and give us everything we want and meekly disagree". Ideally in private. And private doesn't mean "in your house" but "in your head" because it's unacceptable for you to present your views to your children and likely your spouse, especially if you're married to a woman. Why, that's an abuse of authority.

What a shock that I'm not nice, right?

Luke said...

Christianity fractures every community it arrives in the moment non-Christians become Christian. Some people can be well guaranteed to never become Christian. The 'fracturing' is not bad in and of itself there.

Ahh, perhaps I see; Mt 10:34–39 and Lk 14:25–33-type stuff? Incidentally, in addition to stuff like Jesus' command to hate your father and mother in Luke 14:26, Allan Bloom in The Closing of the American Mind says something to support this general notion:

>     The reason for the non-Western closeness, or ethnocentrism, is clear. Men must love and be loyal to their families and their peoples in order to preserve them. Only if they think their own things are good can they rest content with them. A father must prefer his child to other children, a citizen his country to others. That is why there are myths—to justify these attachments. And a man needs a place and opinions by which to orient himself. This is strongly asserted by those who talk about the importance of roots. The problem of getting along with outsiders is secondary to, and sometimes in conflict with, having an inside, a people, a culture, a way of life. A very great narrowness is not incompatible with the health of an individual or a people, whereas with great openness it is hard to avoid decomposition. The firm binding of the good with one's own, the refusal to see a distinction between the two, a vision of the cosmos that has a special place for one's people, seem to be conditions of culture. This is what really follows from the study of non-Western cultures proposed for undergraduates. It points them back to passionate attachment to their own and away from the science which liberates them from it. Science now appears as a threat to culture and a dangerous uprooting charm. In short, they are lost in a no-man's-land between the goodness of knowing and the goodness of culture, where they have been placed by their teachers who no longer have the resources to guide them. Help must be sought elsewhere.
>     Greek philosophers were the first men we know to address the problem of ethnocentrism. Distinctions between the good and one's own, between nature and convention, between the just and the legal are the signs of this movement of thought. They related the good to the fulfillment of the whole natural human potential and were aware that few, if any, of the nations of men had ways that allowed such fulfillment. They were open to the good. They had to use the good, which was not their own, to judge their own. This was a dangerous business because it tended to weaken wholehearted attachment to their own, hence to weaken their people as well as to expose themselves to the anger of family, friends, and countrymen. Loyalty versus quest for the good introduced an unresolvable tension into life. But the awareness of the good as such and the desire to possess it are priceless humanizing acquisitions. (37–8)

That all being said, do you think God, in creating fractures, had a simultaneous motive to heal those fractures? Again, in Hos 6:1–2, this is clear. If so, it would seem to be that there are two intentions one can have behind causing fractures:

     (I) Tear in order to heal.
    (II) Tear without any plan for healing.

Does this make sense?

Luke said...

By the way - I continue to find it amusing that Marc's blog is proving my points about 'nice'. I glanced there and what do I see?

"Nice" people defending Shore because he's seen as effective.


Do you recognize a motion, on Marc's part, to finally have his eyes opened to what John Shore is doing, and object to it? I do. This doesn't mean everything's going to get fixed there in one step, but isn't it important to celebrate "small beginnings"? (Zech 4:10)

And what does it take to be on the "not-nice" list? Well, for one thing - if you think it should be legal for a Christian baker to NOT have to make a cake for a gay wedding, you are not nice and deserve to be savaged, Shore-style.

Do you have a systematized framework for identifying the situations where one ought to be allowed to discriminate and which ones one ought not be allowed to discriminate? I've been looking for one. An option would be to define the concept "ceremonial" and put marriage in it. I just haven't thought through this comprehensively.

"Nice" means "you agree with us, or you support all of our laws and give us everything we want and meekly disagree".

I think I'm making some progress in convincing Marc that this isn't the right set of priorities. The concept of 'gentleness' is indeed very prevalent in the NT, but it's just not at the apex of the pyramid like Marc seems to want. (@Marc: maybe you don't want this, but unfortunately, much of your behavior can be well-modeled that way. So... what gives?)

Crude said...

Do you recognize a motion, on Marc's part, to finally have his eyes opened to what John Shore is doing, and object to it?

Sure do, nor have I ever implied otherwise. I'm not interested in harping on Marc's sins, obvious or not. But his blog goes a long way, at times, towards illustrating points I make.

Do you have a systematized framework for identifying the situations where one ought to be allowed to discriminate and which ones one ought not be allowed to discriminate?

Nope, but 'forcing the people morally opposed to a same-sex wedding, even those who would happily do business with gays normally' is so far off in the direction of 'hilariously wrong' it's a good place to start.

I think I'm making some progress in convincing Marc that this isn't the right set of priorities.

For all the clashes I have with Marc, I have little interest in picking on him. Perils of being within my field of view - someone illustrating a flaw is used as an example. Nor would I attribute what I quoted to Marc himself, certainly not consciously. To some of the people he considers "nice" commenters? Yep.

That all being said, do you think God, in creating fractures, had a simultaneous motive to heal those fractures?

Healing fractures sometimes means sacrifice. I had to "heal" a fracture of my own by sacrificing preferences, social and political - I used to see executions of criminals as things to celebrate, and death/violence as a solution to various problems facing the world. (The latter still is, in a practical sense. Violence does, contrary to the saying, solve quite a lot.) I had to knuckle under, reflect on it, and ultimately came to sacrifice the view thanks the PJP2's influence.

PJP2 did not have to meet me halfway, or worse, come over to my view. The fracture healed insofar as I dropped what turned out to be a flaw.

Luke said...

Sure do, nor have I ever implied otherwise. I'm not interested in harping on Marc's sins, obvious or not. But his blog goes a long way, at times, towards illustrating points I make.

IMHO, it's more interesting to see him change, toward something more scriptural, than that it illustrates any particular points. True power is power to heal, not control. Seeing how people are healed/restored/etc. helps you figure out how to make more of that happen—with the power of the Holy Spirit of course, without which there is no true repentance.

Nope, but 'forcing the people morally opposed to a same-sex wedding, even those who would happily do business with gays normally' is so far off in the direction of 'hilariously wrong' it's a good place to start.

I certainly agree with this position; being forced to support other people's celebrations about what constitutes 'the good' was supposed by be something outlawed by the First Amendment, right? Oh wait: we've conveniently redefined 'religion' so that it actually only targets those belief systems we don't like. We still have concepts of 'the good', and actually we're going to force you to support them legally. Yeah, fuck you and your beliefs; ours are the right ones: bend over and accept them.

Healing fractures sometimes means sacrifice.

Agree 100%. Most Christians I encounter in America—those not in want of anything but spiritual things—deny the truth of e.g. Col 1:24, Rom 8:16–17, 2 Cor 4:7–12, and 1 Pe 3:17. For someone who doesn't: Tiffany Clark's Messy Theology blog.

PJP2 did not have to meet me halfway, or worse, come over to my view.

There's a[n initially subtle (to the consciousness)] difference between "meet me halfway" and "slowly and gradually pulls me toward his position". Both are divine accommodation: (1) of the theological variety; (2) of the now-standard use of the term 'accommodation'.

Crude said...

IMHO, it's more interesting to see him change, toward something more scriptural, than that it illustrates any particular points.

I am, for all my bravado, sensitive about talking about the change overcoming someone, and the reasons for it, unless it is striking and particularly if it's negative. They may be multifaceted. If someone changes, great. If I promote a positive change, fantastic. Otherwise, I worry of presumption.

I certainly agree with this position; being forced to support other people's celebrations about what constitutes 'the good' was supposed by be something outlawed by the First Amendment, right? Oh wait: we've conveniently redefined 'religion' so that it actually only targets those belief systems we don't like.

The icing on the cake is that this force is depicted, in bizarro fashion, as fighting against bullies. And frankly, Randal Rauser is right onboard with this. So is, beg pardon, that asshole McGrath. You know: "Back the silly pastries you so-called Christians. It's just pastries! Jesus would bake the pastries!" But if you do not, in fact, want to bake the pastries, they're no longer "silly". Now they're the one thing standing between gays and a one-way trip to Dachau.

And that's just one reason why I do not have much time for victimhood.

There's a[n initially subtle (to the consciousness)] difference between "meet me halfway" and "slowly and gradually pulls me toward his position".

Except he didn't do much of anything except plainly state his view. There was no interaction - he talked, I listened and thought. One more bit of evidence that two-way dialogue is not always necessary. In fact, it may have been counterproductive.

Luke said...

Otherwise, I worry of presumption.

I was following right along with you until I hit this sentence. It seems like this could be interpreted a ton of ways, and I don't see the way that fits in with your train of thought. I... can be bad at such inferences.

The icing on the cake is that this force is depicted, in bizarro fashion, as fighting against bullies. And frankly, Randal Rauser is right onboard with this.

Ahhh, this? Your "Muslim caterers [...] serve pork" was excellent. I notice that Randal ignored that. I decided to jump into the fray; I kinda doubt Randal will respond, but who knows. I noticed that he asked for a "full list of legitimate grounds for right of refusal"; I just realized that the same needs to happen to the word "religion".

One question. You jumped ahead with your "should be fined, penalized, ...". I'm curious: what happens when you simply ask the other person what "should [not] be allowed to refuse" would look like? That is, what happens when you don't make a [likely valid] guess, but instead ask him/her to fill in the blank?

So is, beg pardon, that asshole McGrath. You know: "Back the silly pastries you so-called Christians. It's just pastries! Jesus would bake the pastries!" But if you do not, in fact, want to bake the pastries, they're no longer "silly". Now they're the one thing standing between gays and a one-way trip to Dachau.

Damn, I found this bit from McGrath and apparently Rachel Held Evans agreed. I liked significant bits of one thing she wrote: The Scandal of the Evangelical Heart. I wish I could combine that, with your Theology, Sans Emotion, to get: "Theology, Sans Falsehood and Coldness". Ooof, McGrath's Gay Wedding Cake Discrimination threatens to set up an authority other than individual consciences aggregating however they choose, for what constitutes "religious reasons". I sympathize with his desire to fight lawlessness (see here), but the people who make up the government are normal people—who says they can properly recognize lawlessness instead of, e.g. propagate it? Irrationality of bureaucracies, anyone??

One more bit of evidence that two-way dialogue is not always necessary.

I dunno, I see the refusal of two-way dialogue as a very dangerous path. Jesus is always standing at that door, knocking.

Crude said...

I was following right along with you until I hit this sentence.

I don't like to assume too much about why someone made this or that seemingly positive choice.

I noticed that he asked for a "full list of legitimate grounds for right of refusal"; I just realized that the same needs to happen to the word "religion".

My guess? Fishing expedition: he wants you to lay out standards that he can go over with a loupe, find a flaw, then denounce your position altogether as a bad standard, or argue that 'every standard will have flaws' ergo his having a supposed flaw is, gosh darnit, the best we can do.

One question. You jumped ahead with your "should be fined, penalized, ...". I'm curious: what happens when you simply ask the other person what "should [not] be allowed to refuse" would look like? That is, what happens when you don't make a [likely valid] guess, but instead ask him/her to fill in the blank?

I don't believe in always being plodding and methodical when the answer to a given question is by my estimation well-known. 'Fined and penalized' happens to be the law as it stands, and that's what they're defending. They have plenty of opportunity to eschew that during the discussion, since that's what I highlight.

Ooof, McGrath's Gay Wedding Cake Discrimination threatens to set up an authority other than individual consciences aggregating however they choose, for what constitutes "religious reasons".

I have little respect for McGrath, who to me gives off every indication that he positions himself as a Christian largely because he thinks he can do the most damage to the people he dislikes that way. The man stood by and encouraged/refused to control someone who went for my throat on his own blog - claiming they had my RL details and were going to out me unless I knuckled under and cowered to the great and superior progressive morality. He didn't have shit on me, and I called his bluff.

McGrath's excuse for not criticizing the person threatening me? Basically, 'You said his details were wrong so I considered the matter handled.' A bit like saying a threat against your family is nothing to criticize so long as the attacker apparently has the wrong address. This, by the by, after he repeatedly opined about how he wished people like me could have their RL details exposed, so they could be held accountable for their opinions.

And the thing is, McGrath's little Stalinist version of "progressive" Christianity is not exceptional. It is the norm.

I dunno, I see the refusal of two-way dialogue as a very dangerous path. Jesus is always standing at that door, knocking.

Jesus himself largely preached to crowds rather than debated back and forth.

Luke said...

My guess? Fishing expedition:

Yep. But there is a retort: "Define 'religion', please." Refuse to be required to define to a higher standard than the other guy. This pattern actually shows up in skepticism and other areas. The other side can be hiding vagueness and contradictions that 'mirror' their request for rigor. The trick is to find them and expose them.

I don't believe in always being plodding and methodical when the answer to a given question is by my estimation well-known. 'Fined and penalized' happens to be the law as it stands, and that's what they're defending. They have plenty of opportunity to eschew that during the discussion, since that's what I highlight.

The reason I ask is this. Liberals appear to found much of their "comprehensive doctrine" on the following two beliefs: aponia and equality. So, suppose that you don't want to be forced to partake in a celebration of a version of 'the good' with which you disagree. Well, then you simply get your business license revoked. That isn't a valid form of suffering, amirite? We're still all equal (identical), amirite?

It goes further. You don't have a right to have a public-facing conception of 'the good' which matters in any way. But this is all hidden behind the 'mere' revocation of your business license. The logical consequences are, of course, quite conveniently ignored.

So, I'm wondering if there's a more... insidious (but truthful—I mean "wise as serpents") way to talk about this matter. I dunno, "Dachu"-maybe it works sometimes, but not all times? I'm just brainstorming strategy, here. Better to have a hammer and a screwdriver than just one.

The man stood by and encouraged/refused to control someone who went for my throat on his own blog - claiming they had my RL details and were going to out me unless I knuckled under and cowered to the great and superior progressive morality.

These examples are worth collecting and saving—I suggest "save webpage", and if that doesn't work via Disqus retardation, you can use web browser tools to copy the dynamically loaded HTML. I can give more details if you want (you'd need to tell me your browser). I do this frequently, to protect against 1984-style disappearing of information. Too bad there's no trusted authority to give out authorized date-timestamp hashes of bits of text, so you could, at a later time, produce the text and the date-timestamp, to prove at least that much. Yeah, I sometimes have fun thinking in paranoid directions.

Jesus himself largely preached to crowds rather than debated back and forth.

Hmmm, that would be a fun activity: look at actual statistics. Damn, I want to build a better tool for analyzing biblical texts...

Crude said...

Yep. But there is a retort:

There is indeed. The problem is - do the retorts matter? Really, give the retort. What will Randal do? Will he change his mind? The minds of his followers? Will it even embolden people who disagree with him, a portion of whom have trouble following intellectual arguments?

The reason I ask is this. Liberals appear to found much of their "comprehensive doctrine" on the following two beliefs: aponia and equality.

Do you believe they really believe in consistency?

I've caught atheists masquerading as Christians long-term for the purposes of denigrating Christian arguments. I've caught atheists flat out plagiarizing. Ask me how effective it all was in their particular cases. The first atheist promptly tried to wipe his existence from the internet. The second gave a half-assed apology and then kept right on doing what he was doing.

Luke said...

The problem is - do the retorts matter? Really, give the retort. What will Randal do? Will he change his mind? The minds of his followers?

I personally found it quite encouraging to read RonH saying what he said in that thread. I always value multiple perspectives; often I can't learn much from just one (to the frustration of my father). So: I don't think it matters if Randal ignores that and if "his followers" ignores that: he was given a chance, and they are given a chance, when they read it, and they can either face the truth, find a true error in what was said, or "take another lap around Mt. Sinai". But remember that in a public forum, there are also many lurkers, including people who could be swayed one way or another. These people are always your audience—not just the person to whom you are directly responding.

Will it even embolden people who disagree with him, a portion of whom have trouble following intellectual arguments?

I was emboldened. And we can always learn to state things more clearly, with simple versions, medium-complexity versions, and full-gory-detail versions. Not infrequently, in places where my email was published or there was a private message system, I would get notes from lurkers who appreciate what I have said.

Do you believe they really believe in consistency?

I believe there are a plethora of ways to tease out any and all inconsistencies, showing them to be such in various ways and various lights, always providing an option for the interlocutor himself/herself to see the truth and repent (GK Chesterton said something like: "always leave a way out"). The job of documenting this crap is tedious and a pain in the ass, but I see no other way which is grounded in truth and love.

Compare the sophists' take on the Logos to Aristotle's: the "sophists used the term to mean discourse, and Aristotle applied the term to refer to "reasoned discourse"". We must not be sophists! Here, I highly suggest Josef Pieper's Abuse of Language ~~ Abuse of Power. He lived in Germany, during WWII, and even made it on an "enemy of the people" list. He knew what he was talking about. Let other people be grounded some way other than 1. Truth; 2. Agape. I choose those, according to that precedence. I want to make both clear, in that precedence, in my speech. I urge others to do so as well, or explain how I am in error.

I've caught atheists masquerading as Christians long-term for the purposes of denigrating Christian arguments. I've caught atheists flat out plagiarizing. Ask me how effective it all was in their particular cases. The first atheist promptly tried to wipe his existence from the internet. The second gave a half-assed apology and then kept right on doing what he was doing.

Documentation, documentation, documentation. Eph 5:16–14. That's my strategy, at least. If they won't repent, they can be examples, they can be those dishonorable vessels (Rom 9:21–23) which refuse to be cleaned (2 Tim 2:21).

Crude said...

But remember that in a public forum, there are also many lurkers, including people who could be swayed one way or another. These people are always your audience—not just the person to whom you are directly responding.

I do not think lurkers always benefit from this sort of thing, and even if they do, there are different approaches that may be more appropriate.

We are quite literally at the point where lunatics believe that if you are unwilling to provide services for a gay wedding, you should be fined out of business and thrown in jail. Friendly intellectual dialogue has been tried. It's appropriate sometimes. Other times, it's not.

Not infrequently, in places where my email was published or there was a private message system, I would get notes from lurkers who appreciate what I have said.

So do I. You know what we need less of? People who are afraid of expressing public approval of ideas that run against the progressive narrative, and who choose to express their gratitude privately. At this point, unless there is a very good reason - if someone only feels comfortable agreeing with me in private, their agreement is of little value.

The job of documenting this crap is tedious and a pain in the ass, but I see no other way which is grounded in truth and love.

And thus we disagree.

We must not be sophists!

Aristotle wrote a lot about rhetoric and endorsed its use.

Documentation, documentation, documentation.

Documentation has its place. I believe I have another way.

If they won't repent, they can be examples, they can be those dishonorable vessels (Rom 9:21–23) which refuse to be cleaned (2 Tim 2:21).

Who is "they"?

Luke said...

I do not think lurkers always benefit from this sort of thing, and even if they do, there are different approaches that may be more appropriate.

Documentation has its place. I believe I have another way.

Pardon, would you be specific about these "different approaches" and this "another way"? Given that I actually believe 1 Corinthians 12 says something meaningful, I am under no delusion that the best way for you to proceed is the best way for me to proceed. That being said, I am curious about the alternative ways; more tools in the toolkit seems categorically better.

You know what we need less of? People who are afraid of expressing public approval of ideas that run against the progressive narrative, and who choose to express their gratitude privately.

Agreed. I'm not sure how to do this other than intellectually; to use emotional manipulation of any kind would seem... self-defeating? Or maybe I just don't know how to do it right? I was raised to be a 100% emotionally flat person, except for the allowable emotion of excitement. And therefore, I am an odd duck, with some odd abilities. Ever watch the film Equilibrium? This scene.

Aristotle wrote a lot about rhetoric and endorsed its use.

Yes; this is a huge weakness of mine. I have had so much sophistry used against much of my life that I had to reject all of it to avoid being poisoned. Now that I have some defenses (hello, Jesus), I would like to understand it well.

Who is "they"?

These people:

What will Randal do? Will he change his mind? The minds of his followers? Will it even embolden people who disagree with him, a portion of whom have trouble following intellectual arguments?

Crude said...

Pardon, would you be specific about these "different approaches" and this "another way"?

Refusing to grand authority to those who do not deserve it, for one.

Agreed. I'm not sure how to do this other than intellectually; to use emotional manipulation of any kind would seem... self-defeating?

Who needs manipulation? You've tried telling them as much bluntly?

These people:

Too cryptic.