Re: My Plan Is Always Better Than Your Plan

1

The only thing I hate as much as FB posts that demand you "repost if you are not an awful human being!" are tweets that ask for "RT if you agree!"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:09 AM
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Obviously I could just hide this kid from my stream, but I think I enjoy boggling at the crap he posts.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:11 AM
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Oh, by the way, you have colon cancer. Sorry about that one. I was kinda drunk last night.


Posted by: God | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:11 AM
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EXACTLY. I want to comment that on his stupid post.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:15 AM
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God: a kinda crappy personal servant.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:20 AM
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Also, what a narcissistic way to look at the world: minor inconveniences aren't just that; they're God personally saving your ass from semi-minor inconveniences. Oh good, he spared you having to deal with your power going out. Thanks, God.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:23 AM
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Eh, it's just someone trying to address the big "if God exists why do bad things happen" question that a lot of people have, in a less philosophical kind of way. Personally, I prefer the metaphor that my cat has no idea why I sometimes take her to a terrifying place full of other horrible cats and let a stranger jab her with a big needle, either, but I can see why others don't find that kind of perspective very comforting.

Although to be honest I don't really subscribe to the theory that God has a plan for everything and I'm not sure it's all that theologically sound either. For me, Christianity is more about cultivating your inner peaceful and loving self than about having a specific relationship with God per se, but to that end, whatever helps people feel enveloped in the divine on a daily basis is pretty harmless IMO.

Also, I person I really like has forwarded me this exact one along with dozens of others like it; I try to think of it as her trying to share something she finds helpful with people she cares about.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:48 AM
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Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, and brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment. and from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken. Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth? Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.


Posted by: God | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:51 AM
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3 - Gays cause hurricanes!

6 - It's like the only thing they took away from the New Testament is Jesus cursing the fig tree.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:54 AM
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Also, what a narcissistic way to look at the world: minor inconveniences aren't just that; they're God personally saving your ass from semi-minor inconveniences.

But not anybody else! "Hey, I made you wait for a sandwich because I made some other poor sod ill! That drunk driver ran over some atheist! I could have got the manufacturer of the faulty electrical equipment to recall it, sparing thousands from electrocution deaths, but I was too busy obsessing over somebody gossiping about you.!"

Also, what the hell with the death angel thing? Is that a real thing among non-insane Christians? They think they're about to drop dead from demons if God doesn't personally intervene?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:04 AM
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8: Very pretty, God, but it doesn't answer the question.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:10 AM
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10: I thought the angel of death was also one of God's messengers. If God is fighting off the angel of death, he's doing a very poor job of it.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:11 AM
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A God as sappy as that deserves to die


Posted by: OPINIONATED FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:14 AM
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This sounds like a really dumbed down and trivialized version of the story of Moses and Khidr in Sura 18 of the Qur'an. Only devoid of any real meaning.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:17 AM
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Heebie, there was an ax murderer in the aisle where the fruit juices used to be. I saved your bacon yet again, and all I get is aimless complaining.


Posted by: God | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:19 AM
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my cat has no idea why I sometimes take her to a terrifying place full of other horrible cats and let a stranger jab her with a big needle

You should find a different bank.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:21 AM
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I wonder what God's response is when Tebow asks why his team sucks.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:21 AM
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whatever helps people feel enveloped in the divine on a daily basis is pretty harmless IMO.

You'd think, wouldn't you? But in real life it turns out that people use this sort of thing to excuse whenever they don't feel like making a difference for the better in the world. "God created this (poverty, disease, injustice) for a reason, and to oppose it is just going against God's plan."

Turns out God intends for me to have lots of luck and lots of stuff, and for others to be screwed, and who am I to argue?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:22 AM
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17. I imagine much the same as his response when Job asked why he was such a cunt.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:23 AM
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18

Did you know that almost the only direct instruction Jesus ever gave His followers was to give everything we have to the poor and follow Him? People who manage to ignore that don't need the Bible to rationalize their actions, it just happens to be handy.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:27 AM
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I should also say I don't think that is the intended message of the original FB post at all.

Though now that I think about it, wasn't that a school of thought in Christianity at one point, that one's wealth and place in society was a sign that one was a member of the Elect? (I don't think contemporary Christians believe in the concept of the Elect anymore, but I could be wrong there.)


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:32 AM
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21: It's Calvinism but it got stupider with the whole modern media and "The Secret" and the Inquisition not being able to torture people who say stupid things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:35 AM
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Though now that I think about it, wasn't that a school of thought in Christianity at one point, that one's wealth and place in society was a sign that one was a member of the Elect?

It's a corollorary of the Prosperity Gospel (as opposed the core tenet, which is "send me money"). Though I don't think Prosperity Gospel types believe or even purport to believe in a pre-determined elect (a la Calvinists or Jehovas Witnesses) as such.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:40 AM
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I got solicited by Jehovah's Witnesses in the airport the other week. It was strange because, while that used to happen all the time, it's been decades since the Supreme Court said airports could stop that kind of thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:43 AM
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20: Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.


Posted by: God | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:44 AM
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What's even weirder to me is when I see this sort of message from Christians who also believe that Satan is an active force in the world. So if you can't find a way to pin something on the devil, it's God messing with you? Must be nice to be so important, I guess!

I do wonder how much people think through what they believe. I know Lee has some very inconsistent beliefs, but she doesn't like to answer my questions as much as I like to ask them.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:48 AM
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I don't think contemporary Christians believe in the concept of the Elect anymore, but I could be wrong there.

As mainstream a denomination as Presbyterianism believes that who is saved and who is not is preordained. And a lot of the Schaeffer-influenced evangelicals believe some form of it as well.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:52 AM
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24 made me think about how since Mara's mom is apparently a Jehovah's Witness, I can use that as an excuse to keep her from having to do the pledge of allegiance rather than just "my white mom is an atheist asshole," which is also true. (Lee would be cool with this, though we didn't interfere with Nia's participation or Val's last year.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:52 AM
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24: Inside or outside the security barrier? If it's the former, they're both paying customers and, if it's any consolation, probably missing a flight.

28: Do you perceive Jehovah's Witnessy nonconformism as more acceptable than atheist nonconformism, or are you just trying to play it safe? (Also: "my white mom is an atheist asshole" sounds like a great band name or song title.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:58 AM
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I was super pissed the other day because the bus was late, and then when I got on it turned out that there was a guy in a motorized wheelchair onboard. So I felt a little bad that I'd been pissed, since obviously part of the delay had been getting that guy into the bus and his chair secured with the straps. But then he started telling the woman next to me about the power of prayer, and how he's seen it work, and how his friend was in a house and a tornado was coming and it came right up to her house and then went around it. He just would not shut up about god answering prayers, and I thought all manner of terrible things that I refrained from saying.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:58 AM
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29.1: Outside the security barrier. You had to walk past them to get to security. Where they were standing was a place where no airline or TSA person could see them and I guess that this was intentional on their part.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:00 AM
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29: Doing something because of religious principle rather than doing something because of non-religious principle tends to carry more water with the general semi-religious populace. I probably wouldn't actually do that because it would be manipulating Mara's family history for my own benefit, but it's tempting!

Actually, Lee's family has a fair number of Jehovah's Witnesses too. I'll bet there's been interesting work done on black vs. white converts and culture, but I haven't read any.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:01 AM
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I saved your bacon yet again, and all I get is aimless complaining.

Psst, God. Maybe Jews view saving bacon for them as sarcasm on your part.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:02 AM
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34

Back when we were drunk college kids wandering through central sq. one night (per-gentrification) crazy Jesus guy was there yelling,"Masturbation is sin!" and one member of our party replied, "We're all going to hell!"


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:07 AM
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23: It's also a corollary of Mother Teresa-type Catholicism: Your suffering is virtuous in the eyes of the Lord.

I should also say I don't think that is the intended message of the original FB post at all.

Perfectly nice people can say things like this, but the actual language of this piece is what it is: Life's minor inconveniences (my missed phone call, your cancer) are a part of God's grand plan and we ought not question it.

No, the FB piece didn't mention cancer. As you say, it didn't intend to convey that message. It was very carefully written to conceal that message.

As you say, it's an effort to deal with the Problem of Evil, but as such, it's either nonserious or repugnant. When people of good will spout this kind of crap, the best they can ask for is that we not take it seriously.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:08 AM
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32.1: I think that's generally true, but my (completely unfounded) intuition is that there might be a point where a religion is sufficiently unusual/unknown/foreign that it might go the other way around. (Sure, American atheists are liberal bastards, but they're our bastards. Or something.) But maybe no form of Christianity, even any of the uncommon ones, meets that requirement. (It's probably also impossible to do actual research on this in a non-insensitive way.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:09 AM
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Doing something because of religious principle rather than doing something because of non-religious principle tends to carry more water with the general semi-religious populace.

Right. This is how a Mormon locked up the religious bigot vote.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:11 AM
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Did you know that almost the only direct instruction Jesus ever gave His followers was to give everything we have to the poor and follow Him?

The other one was "Drink wine regularly. It's important." So rich Baptists are definitely going to hell.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:13 AM
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28: Be careful on that. If the teacher knows JH doctrine, Mara may be kept away from all holiday stuff and whatever they do for birthdays.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:15 AM
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but my (completely unfounded) intuition is that there might be a point where a religion is sufficiently unusual/unknown/foreign that it might go the other way around.

Well, yes. The bigots can go for a Mormon, but Islam is a bridge too far.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:16 AM
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I think Mormonism was actually a mindfuck for lots of bigots.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:17 AM
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"Say what you like about the human sacrifice rituals of the Thuggee devotees of Kali Durga, but at least it's an ethos."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:18 AM
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39: Mara's mom still does birthdays and holidays, though she's drawing some sort of line about what she was willing to cook for Thanksgiving. I was really surprised that her mom was recently baptized a JW at all, actually, especially because she'd listed herself as Baptist when Mara was born and that's more in line with where the rest of the family falls. I really don't know anything about what it means to her, but it's something she's been involved with for years.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:19 AM
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My great-grandparents were the type of Communist where they raised my grandmother and her siblings with no holidays celebrations or acknowledgement whatsoever. Not even birthdays.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:23 AM
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As you say, it's an effort to deal with the Problem of Evil, but as such, it's either nonserious or repugnant

Indeed. The really odd thing about is that most theodicy takes the line that evil/suffering is necessary for free will to have meaning. Whereas this FB argument seems to be saying that evil (well, inconvenience) exists because God micromanages our daily lives and takes away people's agency to protect us from greater suffering.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:23 AM
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41: I wonder if there's been a serious effort to quantify how many votes Mitt lost because of Mormonism. Presumably the votes lost would be those of people who stayed home, rather than those who crossed the aisle.

I haven't got any real evidence, but my own anecdotal experiece suggests that Medved's reporting (though not his analysis) is accurate.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:24 AM
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44: What about May Day?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:26 AM
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Whereas this FB argument seems to be saying that evil (well, inconvenience) exists because God micromanages our daily lives and takes away people's agency to protect us from greater suffering. inconvenience.



Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:27 AM
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47: I bet not!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:28 AM
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I think Mormonism was actually a mindfuck for lots of bigots.

Fortunately for them, the sheriff was a-nearin', and you go with the bigotry classics when faced with a dilemma like that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:29 AM
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41: But it wouldn't even have been considered N years ago. ...progress? (I'm becoming slightly disillusioned into thinking that "progress" is just the process of new groups of people becoming more severely othered, even as formerly othered groups are now welcomed as normal.)

45: The problem of theodicity is quite hard even for people who frequently think about it. If you asked random believers why bad things happen to good people, this sort of response would probably be well represented. Especially if said believers had just been playing Farmville.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:29 AM
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What's the point of being a Communist if you can't watch a parade on May Day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:30 AM
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53

I don't know how to sputter indignantly in Yiddish, so I can't respond.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:33 AM
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54

My daughter recently made the argument that for her sexual dimorphism in humans is the single fact about the world that best demonstrates that this kind of activist God either doesn't exist or is a total fucking asshole (she may have worded the last part differently).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:35 AM
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We have less sexual dimorphism than anglerfish.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:38 AM
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Anglerfish gods are the worst.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:41 AM
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35 - To be fair, theodicy is hard and the answers tend to be unsatisfying. (This is a thing that also drives me insane about overbearing Internet atheist types -- seriously, dude who read a Christopher Hitchens book last month, you don't think that in the last two thousand years some high-powered minds sat around and thought about the problem of evil?)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:47 AM
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56: They're not as bad as bedbug gods.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:48 AM
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Also something something toxic waste site amusement park.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:49 AM
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No, the FB piece didn't mention cancer. As you say, it didn't intend to convey that message. It was very carefully written to conceal that message.

I doubt it was anything that intentional or sneaky. My thanks to other posters for elucidating the theological issues here; I quit Christianity at 14 and have only recently returned to it, so my understanding of most theological concepts is pretty much that of a 14-year-old.

But that might give me an advantage in interpreting schmaltzy Christian FB posts and email forwards. Recall Janet Radway's finding that, surprise of surprises, women who read romance novels for pleasure do not find the same meanings in them as feminist Doctors of English literature.

Sometimes the surface meaning really is the intended one. I think we've seen that this whole concept is pretty knotty and contradictory; why assume the poster meant the worst when the surface meaning is pretty benign? You have probably noticed that not everyone in the world is as smart as you. Perhaops they do not even notice all these deeper meanings, or care to consider them simultaneously.

FWIW, I don't thing the idea of God's plan leads necessarily to indifference to the suffering of others. There are also many other parables demonstrating why Christians should always help those in need. The message I always got from my mainline faith was that justice was for God; it was precisely because we couldn't know God's plan or will that we should not sit in judgment of others.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:50 AM
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58 - I think you mean the triune bedbug god, heretic.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:51 AM
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44: My wife's grandmother was the type of Viennese Jewish communist who gave it up after being trapped and living in the Russian part of Poland after the partition. Although perhaps a less personal analysis might have left her more sympathetic.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:53 AM
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61: Is there a separate triune bedbug god for each species of bedbug or is it pan-specific?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:56 AM
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I have plenty of interesting Christian friends, but there's a strain of... something that makes some Christian Facebook acquaintances attribute the ability to get through anything. E.g., "Kids woke up early today and flooded the kitchen! I will need God's help today!"

Now, whatever, they've got a different idea of God than one I find plausible, but I keep substituting in "a stiff drink" for "God" and giggling.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:56 AM
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62: The story goes that my great-grandmother watched lots of people starving in Russia and yet spending money on Shabbat and high holidays and found that hypocritically repulsive.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:56 AM
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54: I don't understand the argument.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:57 AM
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61: I'm trying very hard, and failing, to leave that as a holy mystery and not think about the horrifying theological implications.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:57 AM
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60.last: That would be my understanding of it also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:57 AM
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The problem of theodicity is quite hard even for people who frequently think about it.

And yet, as the FB post shows, it's quite easy for people who hardly think about it at all.

For my part, I infer a Divine Preference for extra syllables from the appearance in this thread of the words "corollorary" and "theodicity."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:57 AM
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This is the worst thing I have ever read. Plz post more from same!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:58 AM
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65: Isn't there food at some of the high holidays?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:59 AM
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70: You could start with the wikipedia page for anglerfish.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:00 AM
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The problem of theodicity is quite hard even for people who frequently think about it. If you asked random believers why bad things happen to good people, this sort of response would probably be well represented.

I'm sure. That doesn't make it any less repugnant. As ever, this Onion story puts it best: God answers prayers of paralyzed little boy - 'No,' says God.


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Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:01 AM
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60: Right. I offered "not taking this seriously" as an option.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:01 AM
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69: I'm saving up extra syllables so that I'll be prepared for the lean years after the rapture.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:01 AM
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76

On the veldt, extra syllables were signifiers of genetic fitness.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:05 AM
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66: Who designs a world with a reproduction scheme requiring two genders and where one of the genders is able to exert physical dominance over the other a significant majority of the time?

Answer: No one or an asshole.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:08 AM
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I think we've seen that this whole concept is pretty knotty and contradictory; why assume the poster meant the worst when the surface meaning is pretty benign?

I can assume that someone has good motives while still pointing out that their worldview logically leads to some pretty fucked up ideas. When someone's presenting a thing as a way to live (with the implicit reproach of those who would doubt God's bigger plan), pf's 74 is truly the kindest way to respond.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:11 AM
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79

Laydeez.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:11 AM
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77: That's pretty good. For some reason I thought you had littler kids.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:14 AM
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74, 78: Generally speaking, not taking things too seriously is a good way to handle Facebook in general. As long as people don't cross the line into overt racism/sexism/etc or "like" their mobile phone provider, I don't really worry about it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:15 AM
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Generally, I like to use the word "general'.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:15 AM
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80: Nah, my youngest graduates college next spring.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:17 AM
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77: Got it. Thanks.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:17 AM
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73: Oh, absolutely. The idea itself is repugnant, but I'm also taking the "this person isn't thinking very hard about this" approach of 74 et al.

79: Lay-uh-deez.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:17 AM
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me: Go-od, you let me oversleep again! After I told you not to! Then my car crapped out! What the fuck is up with that?

God: ever since y'all ate that apple you've told me you wanted to be free. That means you have to get your own sorry ass out of bed and fix your own damn car. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:18 AM
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Generally, I like to use the word "general'.

I use the word to refer to my kids' privates/genitals ("remember to wash your generals") because the pun amuses me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:20 AM
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77. There are many more ants than there are people, and the power structure between sexes is reversed for them.

Also, fungi with many sexes.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:20 AM
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76: That's ridiculiferousful!


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:21 AM
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70 gets it right.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:21 AM
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Remember to wash your external sign of unfair sexual dimorphism in humans.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:21 AM
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Free will theodicies explain the less mysterious by the more mysterious.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:24 AM
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I think it is important for people of faith to recognize that the problem of evil is a problem. When people put forward glib, superficial solutions to the problem of evil, I don't assume that they endorse the shitty implications of those solutions. I do infer that they are taking serious problems lightly, and that in itself is a sign that they will wind up endorsing shitty ideas down the road.

Posts that say "REPOST if you Believe in HIM" are also more about affirming group identity than actually confronting the world as it is, which is another bad sign.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:24 AM
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Attennnnn-tion!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:25 AM
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Fixed bug #357531: handled FalseWitnessException by throwing new DeadPhoneException. General racism, sexism problems still pending fix. (Author: God)


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:26 AM
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The problem of theodicity is quite hard even for people who frequently think about it.

And yet, there's a completely trivial solution!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:34 AM
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At the risk of going all PZ Myers on y'all, theodicy is only a difficult problem for people who believe in a just, omniscient, omnipotent God.

That is to say, it's not much of a problem at all.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:36 AM
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I don't know how to sputter indignantly in Yiddish, so I can't respond.

Just say "Oy!", surely. And, I have learned from the latest meetup, pretty much any word beginning with "schm".
(Please excuse the goysplaining.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:36 AM
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I think it is important for people of faith to recognize that the problem of evil is a problem.

I dunno, is it? The assumption that the universe should make perfect sense on a moral level all the time strikes me as an extra-Biblical human interpolation at the moment. But again, I am a pretty naive reader who hasn't finished the reading yet.

I am really asking, btw. I am beginning to suspect I have a very weird perspective on Christianity, which might be why I can't find a church I like.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:38 AM
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"That's no answer. And for someone who's supposed to be omnipotent, let me tell you, it's 'short', not 'shortage'."


Posted by: Opinionated Job | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:39 AM
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Schmutter.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:39 AM
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97 not in response to, but in fact pwned by, 96.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:40 AM
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102: I just assumed you were part of the recent wave of making things explicit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:41 AM
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I think it is important for people of faith to recognize that the problem of evil is a problem.

I dunno, is it? The assumption that the universe should make perfect sense on a moral level all the time strikes me as an extra-Biblical human interpolation at the moment.

It's a pretty normal reaction in the face of assertions of a good, loving, just god.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:42 AM
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103: That's what we all thought, but thanks for making it explicit anyway, Moby.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:42 AM
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By reaction I mean, the questioning of the problem of evil.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:43 AM
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96: and as exactly the sort of person described in 57, I buy into that solution completely. But for various reasons it's a rather unpopular solution. And I think it's a fun problem to see how close you can get to a solution by playing around with the parameters. (Gordian knots can be fun to unravel, no matter how pointless.) That's probably insensitive, but being insensitive about religion is the prerogative of the overbearing internet atheist asshole.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:43 AM
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88: There are many more ants than there are people, and the power structure between sexes is reversed for them.

I'm sure that's of great comfort to battered women.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:45 AM
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102: I was slowed by the fact that I couldn't remember Myers' name, and had to Google "eating a communion wafer atheist."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:49 AM
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It's a pretty normal reaction in the face of assertions of a good, loving, just god.

But again, is that an extra-Biblical human interpolation, or is that assertion really in there somewhere? I know that this is how people see God, but I'm wondering if that isn't an error, maybe kind of projection based on the goodness of Jesus. Because the God of the Old Testament didn't go anywhere so far as I can tell, and that one is not good, loving or just at all in the normal sense of those words.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:49 AM
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I don't believe in an interventionist god.


Posted by: Nick Cave | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:50 AM
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Gordian knots can be fun to unravel

96 to this, also.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:53 AM
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110: If you attempt to go back to the text of the Bible everything is so blown out of the water in terms of the modern practice of Christianity that it doesn't even matter.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:53 AM
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110: It seems a reasonable interpretation of 1 John 4:8, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." If God is not a "good, loving, just god", I'm not sure what that means..perhaps it's to be interpreted as a definition of love and not a description of God? But that also seems unsatisfactory given the context.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:55 AM
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110
But again, is that an extra-Biblical human interpolation, or is that assertion really in there somewhere? I know that this is how people see God, but I'm wondering if that isn't an error, maybe kind of projection based on the goodness of Jesus. Because the God of the Old Testament didn't go anywhere so far as I can tell, and that one is not good, loving or just at all in the normal sense of those words.

Theodicy doesn't seem to be a problem if you stop with the Old Testament, which is only concerned with the god of the Jews, and he is often pretty mean to even his chosen people themselves.

The New Testament might not actually use the phrase "good, loving, just god," and I admit I haven't finished the reading myself, but the general idea is pretty strongly there, isn't it? Jesus is good, and Jesus is God, or as close to it as mere mortals can comprehend. Ergo, God is good. This is where theodicy begins to be a problem.

It might even be possible to reconcile the Old and New Testaments with each other (although there are plenty of holes to poke in them), but if gets very hard if you try to reconcile the New Testament with the real world. Like, doesn't Acts say something about prayer moving mountains? Something that doesn't seem all that metaphorical?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:56 AM
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When you see evil in the world, instead of complaining that God allowed it, you should take ill-considered action.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:56 AM
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"overbearing internet atheist asshole."

Oddly, PZ Myers is NOT the first result for this search.

Relatedly, I didn't know that Cenk Uygur has a blog named "Atheist Asshole."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:00 AM
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113: I wouldn't say blown out of the water, but it does get complicated. It gets especially complicated if you try to look at the Old and New Testaments simultaneously. That isn't just because of modernity. Much of Paul, the parts hardly anybody reads now, deal with the issue.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:01 AM
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I like this Sheila person!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:02 AM
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If you attempt to go back to the text of the Bible everything is so blown out of the water in terms of other parts of the Bible. the modern practice of Christianity that it doesn't even matter.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:02 AM
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115.last: That's in Matthew.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:03 AM
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117.2: This could be quickly fixed with a poll on who's the top internet asshole.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:04 AM
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I credit Myers and Reddit with teaching me that perhaps I should tone down my own atheist assholishness. God works in mysterious ways!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:05 AM
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I feel shallow saying this, because it's clearly a huge problem for people who take this stuff seriously, but I've never had much of a problem with theodicy. If you take as your assumptions your standard omnipotent/omniscient/omnibenevolent God, throw in the Job argument that humans aren't capable of knowing or understanding how the universe really works, and include as an assumption the immortality of the soul, all you need to do is presume that pain and evil are necessary for reasons we aren't capable of understanding and that everything evens out and looks fair once you consider eternity rather than merely the short span of life on earth.

I mean, I don't see any actual reason to buy into any of those assumptions, but I understand that Christians generally do, at which point there just doesn't seem to be much of a problem to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:05 AM
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116: there's a weird duality in that article. Most of the residents are complaining about violence/thuggishness by drunks, but the focus of the article is on a non-violent act by a drunk being answered with by a violent act by a resident.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:08 AM
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124 is close to the attitude I had when I was a believer.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:09 AM
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124 is entirely reasonable. I think people tend to no like it mostly because people tend to not like being told anything is beyond their understanding.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:09 AM
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127 is right. Or at least, I agree with it. That's pretty much the same thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:10 AM
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something about prayer moving mountains? Something that doesn't seem all that metaphorical?

The truth is that Jesus was a mumbler. People did their best to transcribe it all correctly, but it was just damn hard to make out what he was saying sometimes. That's probably what happened here.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:10 AM
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125: I know. It was just a great story.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:11 AM
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all you need to do is presume that pain and evil are necessary for reasons we aren't capable of understanding and that everything evens out and looks fair once you consider eternity rather than merely the short span of life on earth.

That only solves the problem by begging the question, though. It's basically saying the answer to the problem of evil is that God says so, that's why. Which, admittedly, ties into the fairly widespread Christian conception of God as a needy asshole, but it's hardly satisfying.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:11 AM
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The truth is that Jesus was a mumbler.

"Blessed are the Greek?"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:12 AM
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The truth is that Jesus was a mumbler. People did their best to transcribe it all correctly, but it was just damn hard to make out what he was saying sometimes. That's probably what happened here.

Blessed are the cheesemakers...


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:12 AM
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God is asymptotically benevolent?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:12 AM
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Gah. I blame God.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:12 AM
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The New Testament might not actually use the phrase "good, loving, just god," and I admit I haven't finished the reading myself, but the general idea is pretty strongly there, isn't it? Jesus is good, and Jesus is God, or as close to it as mere mortals can comprehend. Ergo, God is good. This is where theodicy begins to be a problem.

When I first went back to the New Testament after nearly 30 years away, I was struck by how political it was. The Old reads as mostly a history of a tribe of people who were, sometimes, talking with God, while the New reads more like a pitch to those people to accept the divinity of Jesus. It's a critique of the existing priesthood and an assertion of the right alternative. It's much more like an argument than a history than I had remembered.

I wonder if the idea of a just God is maybe part of a sales pitch? And not necessarily a deceptive one; more like, that when we talk about "God" in the New Testament, we are really talking about God as experienced through the mediation of the humanity of Jesus?


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:13 AM
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131: I don't think it's exactly begging the question. For there to be a problem of evil, you have to take as an assumption that we know enough about the universe to know that evil is a meaningful problem -- that it is contradictory for there to be both an omni x 3 god and the sort of pain and evil we see. Rejecting the assumption that we do know enough about the universe to be certain that there's a contradiction there seems no more begging the question than making that assumption in the first place.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:15 AM
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123: Myers is near the extreme of what I consider acceptable discourse; I think his voice is useful to have but it's not a voice and tone I want to precisely share. On the other hand, he's been excellent in promoting Atheism+ and generally trying to marginalize the misogyny that's sadly common among vocal atheists.

r/atheism just makes me sad and has had a similar toning-down effect on me.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:15 AM
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It's basically saying the answer to the problem of evil is that God says so, that's why.

Well, it's basically saying the answer to the problem is that God says so, that's why, just trust me for now, you'll understand better when you get older (and die), I've tried to explain it in simple terms for you, but there's just ultimately a limit to how much you're able to understand--really, I love you and am proud of you but have no idea how stupid you are. Which anyone who's every parented a young child understands is sometimes the best answer.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:15 AM
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132, 133: I was considering going there, but figured there was no chance I'd get in first.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:16 AM
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I use the word to refer to my kids' privates/genitals ("remember to wash your generals") because the pun amuses me.

Go to the General and save some time!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:17 AM
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139: And in the meantime, put your offering in the plate the nice man just passed down the pew.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:17 AM
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It's basically saying the answer to the problem of evil is that God says so, that's why.

I really don't think it is. I also don't really get the idea that God can/does control everything. If that were true, free choice would be impossible and "faith" would be a meaningless, pre-ordained illusion.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:17 AM
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Exactly.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:17 AM
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who's the top internet asshole

Obviously.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:18 AM
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141 to 140.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:19 AM
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(I know you were all waiting sleeplessly for this, but the acronym I was fishing around for in the Fix Our Schools thread, the thing representing what our children should learn in school to usher in a golden age of prosperity, is: Science Technology Engineering Math. STEM skills.)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:20 AM
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Theodicy doesn't seem to be a problem if you stop with the Old Testament, which is only concerned with the god of the Jews, and he is often pretty mean to even his chosen people themselves.

I disagree. Theodicy is one of the dominant themes of the OT. Sometimes it is cast in terms of the Jewish gods letting the Jews suffer. Sometimes it is cast as the universal god allowing suffering in general. The Book of Job, in particular, is a radical solution to the problem of evil stated in its universal form. (Job isn't even described as a Jew. He is an Edomite, from Uz.) The standard solution to the problem of evil in the Hebrew Bible is that suffering is a form of collective punishment for the sins of a people. Job is unusual in that it takes a much more sophisticated route.

Also, as near as I can tell, Job started out as an Ancient Near East equivalent of a glib email forward. It was a folk tale about the rewards you receive if you endure suffering. But then it was then reworked to say something radically different. It is as if someone inserted God saying "fuck you" in the email forward in the original post.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:21 AM
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For the record, I did offer up the most charitable explanation OP.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:22 AM
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147: the acronym I was fishing around for in the Fix Our Schools thread, the thing representing what our children should learn in school to usher in a golden age of prosperity, is: Science Technology Engineering Math. STEM skills.

Slow progress, here...

"I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine."

― John Adams (May 12, 1780)


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:28 AM
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I am not going to get into the long discussions I had with my ex (well post-breakup) about how Nietzsche addresses the problem of evil and how being a foster parent was going to keep me from going over to the Nietzsche side as I understood it, but maaaaaaaaan!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:28 AM
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Me: God, can I ask You a question?

God: Sure

Me: Promise You won't get mad

God: You know I would never do a thing like that.

Me: Why did You let so much stuff happen to me today?

God: What do u mean?

Me: Well, I woke up late

God: Fuck you. I don't owe you any explanations.

Me: ...

God: Ok, you slept late because I was fighting of the Angel of Death. But fuck you anyway. I didn't have to make the angel of death, but I did. And I don't have to tell you why.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:30 AM
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143: Free choice is quite constrained under the current arrangement. We could have a lot less cruelty in the world with a similar amount of free choice.

139: That explanation also works for cruelly abusive parents. And totalitarian dictators. You can get around the problem of evil by denying God's omnipotence or omniscience, but you can also choose the road less taken and acknowledge that God just isn't a nice guy.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:33 AM
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I have two facebook friends who often post inspirational New Age crap which isn't that different in tone from this, only without the God thing. I imagine it's in the vein of The Secret, though I haven't read it. I know that one of them had a nervous breakdown after too much drugs in India, and I always feel that the other is attempting to stave off her obvious lurking depression with neon-like optimism and ecstatic cheerfulness. I wonder why I differentiate so much between the two, though - the New Age stuff only makes me sad for the posters while the God stuff actively annoys me and makes me feel like arguing.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:35 AM
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I really don't think it is. I also don't really get the idea that God can/does control everything. If that were true, free choice would be impossible and "faith" would be a meaningless, pre-ordained illusion.

Sure. I don't think that's a question-begging form of theodicy, and indeed I raised it in my first comment on the subject in contrast to the bad theodicy presented in the OP. I do think it implies a dickish God, but that's another matter.

I don't think it's exactly begging the question. For there to be a problem of evil, you have to take as an assumption that we know enough about the universe to know that evil is a meaningful problem -- that it is contradictory for there to be both an omni x 3 god and the sort of pain and evil we see. Rejecting the assumption that we do know enough about the universe to be certain that there's a contradiction there seems no more begging the question than making that assumption in the first place.

Perhaps question-begging isn't precisely the right term - the philosophers are welcome to point me to a better one. But it seems broadly accurate to me. And assuming that we know enough about the universe to ask meaningful questions about it seems like a reasonable, indeed necessary axiom.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:39 AM
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154: Maybe because the new age stuff doesn't have thousands of years of culture preeminence and academic argument for it?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:40 AM
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153: That explanation also works for cruelly abusive parents. And totalitarian dictators.

Not from the point of view of someone with an equal access to the facts as the parent or dictator, who has the knowledge to call them on their bullshit. (Although I agree that a version of the same argument gets used for why we have to assassinate/torture 'terrorists' -- it's Jack Nicholson saying "You can't handle the truth!)

And it doesn't function as any kind of satisfying explanation, just as an argument that we don't have the knowledge to be certain there's a problem to be explained at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:40 AM
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127: THEY REALLY DIDN'T HAVE ANY ANSWERS, Y'KNOW. THEY'D FALL BACK ON, "WELL, IT'S A MYSTERY."


Posted by: OPINIONATED GEORGE CARLIN | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:42 AM
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The Old Testament strikes me as being much more about obedience and loyalty to God and God's law than about good or evil, per se. But perhaps I resist reading, for example, God's occasional demands that the Israelites commit genocide as an example of good that I am supposed to follow in my own life.

I backed into returning to Christianity by getting interested in the history of Islam; I read a good feminist history of the religion that argued that Islam arose when warring tribes who ordinarily would adopt and abandon Gods willy-nilly depending on which ones seemed to be helping them win battles fell under the influence of Muhammed, who convinced them to convert rather than enslave conquered tribes, and to maintain their faith in the face of defeats. Thus they went from an instrumental view of god[s] to the idea of one, true God.

It is striking to me how much of the Old Testament seems to be about the Israelites struggling with these two concepts. When things are going well, they're happy with their God, but if not, they look into other ones. And then the one true God smacks them, because this is a history written by the people who converted to the latter idea.

Thus, I'm having a hard time reading the OT from the type of moral perspective you describe here. I'm not sure the text really supports it either, to be honest. I think we may just think it ought to, again back-projecting from the NT.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:43 AM
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8, 148. Job has at least two authors separated by many centuries, my Israeli friends tell me. Also, it's the only place where Satan appears in the old testament. Satan is apparently the Hebrew word for prosecutor or advisor.

I definitely concur with 148-- Judges is explicitly a cause-and-effect explanation for suffering. Many of the prophets, Jereremiah and Isaiah most strongly, are not serene about the suffering they perceive.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:44 AM
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And it doesn't function as any kind of satisfying explanation

Right - at least not as a satisfying explanation for people with certain epistemological preferences.

On the other hand, for people with a different approach, this kind of explanation works nicely for pretty much any purpose you want to put it to. Why should I vote for Mitt Romney? Because God wants it, that's why, and that's all you need to know. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:46 AM
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"I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine."

Slow progress indeed. How many US schools even offer an optional course in Naval Architecture?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:48 AM
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154: power? I mean, the New Age stuff is, by and large, pretty harmless, as it has relatively little power behind it. Judeo-Christianity, on the other hand, is extraordinarily powerful in our culture and has been for a very long time.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:50 AM
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161.2: Most people who accept that kind of explanation have no trouble only accepting it for certain classes of questions where there aren't easy answers. Plenty of people were around when Mitt Romney laid the foundations of his campaign.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:51 AM
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Oops, pwned by a more succinct 156.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:52 AM
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162: Actually, Sally spent last year designing boats. Not terribly good boats, it was seventh grade, but they did have to come up with something that would hold water and not capsize or sink when holding a set amount of ballast.

So, one or more?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:52 AM
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I should add to 161 that folks are able to tell this story in entirely humane ways as well. "Why should I give to the poor? Because God says so, that's why."

I still don't like it. The Christian God is indulgent of the poor sometimes, but he's also an advocate of torture, and if you're going to accept something based on the fact that someone says God says it, you're as likely to end up with torture as charity.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:54 AM
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160.1: Right, the critical consensus is that the poem was written before the framing narrative.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:56 AM
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you're as likely to end up with torture as charity

Or both if you have a torture-based fund raising drive.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:57 AM
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Job has at least two authors separated by many centuries, my Israeli friends tell me.

This is basically the same model I was thinking of: an early folktale retold much later by a more sophisticated writer. The earlier version of the story has at least one parallel in other Ancient Near Eastern literature.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:57 AM
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163, (pwned by) 156: Yeah, posting these things also has much to do with broadcasting one's social/political identity, so that's pretty much it. Still, I was trying to figure out if there is any other difference in tone between the two. I feel there is, but can't really conceptualize it as much as I'd like to.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:57 AM
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167: Well, yeah, it's only a useful argument at all if you start with a pre-existing strong reason to believe that God exists and is omnipotent and good. But without a strong reason to believe those things, there's no theodicy problem at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 9:57 AM
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169: I'll donate $5 for every Edomite whose will to live is crushed.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:00 AM
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And the awesome thing is that everyone who's posted in this thread has now given more thought to Christianity/religion/God/theology than 92.7% of Facebook Christians.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:02 AM
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171: I haven't seen the posts you're talking about, but I can imagine reading triumphalism and/or crowing about their awesome identity into those who align with the powerful, and relative modesty into those who align with the less powerful. Which is to say, that's likely how I would read such posts, especially because while I sometimes find New Agers moderately irritating, I typically think they're not doing much harm. By contrast, Bible thumpers -- as distinct from all Christians -- I often view as quite pernicious.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:03 AM
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Actually, Sally spent last year designing boats. Not terribly good boats, it was seventh grade, but they did have to come up with something that would hold water and not capsize or sink when holding a set amount of ballast.

Do they get to dreadnaughts in 8th grade, or move straight on to submarines?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:04 AM
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I think it's best to start from the assumption that an individual human mind is capable of understanding an immense and complex universe in which it is a small part, all by itself.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:06 AM
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This year's engineering curriculum I find much less appealing -- it's urban planning, but in a goofy, conceptual, city-of-the-future kind of way. More art, less power tools.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:08 AM
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You see, the thing is that God's main project isn't us - it's the Qaz on planet Uiop in the Erty cluster. But the spec. for the Qaz required that humans should also exist and that stuff that happens to the Qaz should occasionally impact humans through long distance resonance in ways that are not always predictable. It isn't that God doesn't care about us: he does, deeply. On occasions he's put himself to extraordinary inconvenience on our behalf. I mean, look at the New Testament. But the fact is that when push comes to shove, the interests of the Qaz have to come first, and if that means that some humans get a bum rap then sorry, but that's the way it goes.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:08 AM
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127: Then those assholes have no business believing in God.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:10 AM
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More art, less power tools.
One of the many reasons Adams' vision of the future was flawed.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:11 AM
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My understanding is that the most likely scenario is something like you first have some well-known folk tale, then you have someone writing a poem based on that tale, then later writing a framing narrative around the poem (which is not necessarily exactly the version of the tale that the poet knew).


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:15 AM
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I can imagine reading triumphalism and/or crowing about their awesome identity into those who align with the powerful, and relative modesty into those who align with the less powerful

IME the most annoying New Agers tend to be proselytizers of veganism, and it's easy to deal with because I read a strain of protesting-too-much into it and feel slightly sorry for them.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:17 AM
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OT: I can't find the Lincoln thread, but it's worth noting that Kushner proves to be just as thoughtful as I might have hoped.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:19 AM
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183: yes, exactly.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:20 AM
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but in a goofy, conceptual, city-of-the-future kind of way.

Class project: break up into groups. Each group will be assigned one monster from Japanese 60s & 70s films (Godzilla, Mothra & etc.). Working within allowed budget constraints, design a city best suited to withstand an attack from the monster you've been assigned.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:23 AM
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IME the most annoying New Agers tend to be proselytizers of veganism, and it's easy to deal with because I read a strain of protesting-too-much into it and feel slightly sorry for them.

No way. The vegan-proselytising I can take, indeed feel guilty sympathetic toward. It's the anti-vaxxers and quantum-bullshitters I can't take.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:27 AM
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The anti-vaxxers outstandingly. These people are actually dangerous to the rest of us, whereas the vegan proselytisers are at worst boring.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:32 AM
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I don't personally deal with any vocal anti-vaxxers, but I don't tend to associate them with New Agers. (Though I can see the connection.) All the New Agers I know are on the yoga / veganism / meditation / eastern religions side of things.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:34 AM
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184, 124:

The will of God prevails -- In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for, and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is somewhat different from the purpose of either party -- and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect this


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:34 AM
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166: excellent. Would they have let her take that class even if her mother hadn't passed Politicks and War 101?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:35 AM
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184: I was guessing you were being ironic, but no, Kushner is owning up to his error and correcting it. Good for him.

You had some kind (but somewhat noncommital) words regarding Aaron Bady's critique of Lincoln, the movie and the man. I found Kilpatrick's rebuttal unconvincing, at least regarding the defense of Lincoln.

So my question to you is, given Bady's discussion of this, are we compelled to consider the possibility that Lincoln was, in fact, our second-greatest president, or perhaps (God forbid) third?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:39 AM
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I drove past a car recently with a bumper sticker reading "I Support Doctor Wakefield". I resisted the urge to ram them.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 11:26 AM
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184: i waited in vain for you to come and gnash your teeth impotently at me over this Lincoln comment , but you were nowhere to be found. Was curious as to your thoughts on the Socialist Review piece I linked there.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 11:30 AM
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It's the anti-vaxxers and quantum-bullshitters I can't take

this sentiment led to a marked decrease in support among my friends for California's GMO labeling initiative.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 11:41 AM
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187
I've been looking for a good term for that. "Quantum-bullshitters" is now added to my lexicon of derision.


Posted by: Mentioner | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 12:33 PM
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190:
The will of God prevails -- In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for, and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is somewhat different from the purpose of either party -- and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect this

Comity, Second Inaugural:

"Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. 'Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.' If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?"


Posted by: old abe | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 1:16 PM
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163: Not harmless when they don't vaccinate their kids. And then I really do want to scream at them for being anti-science.

I'm just repeating 187 and 188, but I really do want to say out loud to the anti-vaccination people that what they're advocating is actively evil even though that would do nothing to convince them to vaccinate their kids.

I'm not familiar with the quantum bullshitters. What do they spew?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 2:23 PM
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Dead cats, 50% of the time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 2:26 PM
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I'm not familiar with the quantum bullshitters. What do they spew?

Tripeons.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 2:27 PM
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198: I think it's pretty clear that anti-vaxxers are not what Von Wafer was talking about.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 2:29 PM
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What's funnier than when there's no substance to the subtext? We're going to find out.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 2:31 PM
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201: Sure, they're a subset. Well represented in Ashland, OR. And I think you could make a case that the roots of those views are found in the beliefs of a broader group of New Age types--though by no means all--who do not assert their right to take care of their kids as they see fit by not vaccinating them.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 2:33 PM
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Sure, they're a subset.

That's not what I meant re. VW, and I think we're using "New Agers" rather differently.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 2:40 PM
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||

Quick bleg not super important.

Last year, committee of faculty read and voted on applications to my special program. One faculty member voted wildly out of step with everyone else, and particularly voted against admitting women that everyone else rated 5/5 and in favor of admitting men that everyone else rated very low.

It ended up not affecting admission, so I decided not to do anything last year, and to have a pre-application meeting this year to establish guidelines for reading applications.

Meeting time set, everyone's schedule getting super hectic, we're meeting at the last possible time, after Particular Colleague returns from out of town.

He thinks he may not be back in time for the meeting, after all.

My question: Should I level with him, over email, that he was very out-of-sync with everyone else's voting patterns? (I wouldn't mention the gender trend.) Just to call his attention to the minutes, and he can read the details after he returns?

|?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 3:45 PM
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Just tell him the whole point of the meeting was for the committee to discuss his readily apparent sexism. He'll find a way to attend the meeting.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 3:51 PM
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Where he'll be castrated in my surprise torture-trap! It's so unexpected.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 3:53 PM
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Publish the voting records, without names attached.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 3:55 PM
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I remember that, and I believe I remember you not attributing it to malice on his part.

Um, can you tell him that people appeared to be applying wildly different standards last year and he particularly was really out of step with everyone else, and so prior communication about what standards were to be applied is absolutely vital, so he should show up for the meeting or not participate in the committee? Or you could just stop at 'prior communication is absolutely vital so show up for the meeting'?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 4:16 PM
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157: Two problems with the "we know so little" line of argument. Remember that a lot of this debate is an in-house debate: it's theists arguing with theists about the nature of God. And there's a sense in which an answer that says "I have an answer, but I can't tell you what it could possibly be" is going to be perceived as a wholly inadequate answer to what often leads to a crisis of faith.

The second thing is that the rest of theism is generally committed to the general reliability of our considered moral judgments. People are supposed to know right from wrong so they can choose the good, etc. So to postulate that there's some ultimate reason that God allowed X to happen, when we can all clearly see and are supposed to trust our judgment that X is evil, undermines a lot of the moral universe.

Most theodicies will help themselves to some of this line of thought. But it's just not accurate to think that theists shouldn't have a problem with it.

198: We have five times the pertussis rate of the rest of the country. Not hippies, just rightwingers who won't vaccinate because they don't understand science.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 4:54 PM
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Can you rig the process so his views don't matter again this year?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:05 PM
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can you tell him that people appeared to be applying wildly different standards last year and he particularly was really out of step with everyone else,

This is what I was thinking - even if he misses the meeting, he might pay more attention to what everyone else comes up with.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:18 PM
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Maybe, and I don't know if this would be possible or appropriate, bring up specific students? "To make what I'm talking about concrete, last year you rated Jane Doe very low. Everyone else thought she was great, we admitted her, and she's done well in the program. Would it be possible for you to figure out what impressed you negatively about her application? because it seems possible that you're applying a filter that's not appropriate for this program."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:25 PM
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200: See What The Bleep Do We Know?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:27 PM
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||

Ok, a different bleg! Student X is applying for grad school, and can't afford all the application fees. I told him to call some of the departments and see if they'll waive the application fee. Student X is a US citizen, but has an African accent.

Should I advise him to somehow mention over the phone that he's a citizen? I fear that his accent would cause a knee-jerk "No, we don't waive the fee" because they get flooded with international applications and have higher standards for them.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:46 PM
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186 is an excellent assignment.

One of my dearest friends, an ER doctor who was raised by fairly woo-woo parents (who also have MDs, oddly enough), admitted to me that she had not vaccinated her six-month-old. After the gentlest possible scolding, she said that at least she admitted that she was relying on herd immunity, unlike those other parents. She also said that she would immunize her son (for some things) on a delayed schedule. This was the first person I'd ever known who hadn't been vaccinated, so I wasn't totally surprised, but the rationale still sort of shocked me.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:50 PM
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Speaking as a citizen of one country who has a foreign accent, I think it might be a good idea. Even if it's something like: for identification purposes, will a US passport do?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:50 PM
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at least she admitted that she was relying on herd immunity
That's even worse.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 5:55 PM
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Ok good. Thanks.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:04 PM
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213

... and she's done well in the program. ...

This is assuming facts not in evidence. Does the committee even keep track of how their choices did?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:14 PM
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I have access to how they're doing.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:18 PM
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Definitely yes to 217.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 6:35 PM
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quantum-bullshitters

Look at this remarkable abstract.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:43 PM
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So can just any asshole put a paper on Arχiv?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:45 PM
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ArΧiv? I didn't realize the lower-case Χ dropped below the line like that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:47 PM
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The lead author has a fair-sized Wikipedia article. From the part describing this work: Initially, Aerts worked on this idea in silence ...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:50 PM
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It's alphabetical order, I think, so I don't know how to judge which author takes the blame lead.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 7:52 PM
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145: goatse webmail.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:00 PM
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Looking at the ArXiv site, it looks like any asshole with a university affiliation can submit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:12 PM
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223: So the authors have developed some sort of formal theory in which the possible somehow evolves into the actual? It seems like that would be bullshit because it is mathematically describing a cool-seeming idea that can't possibly be verified because it has no empirical consequences. If that's why it is bullshit, then it has a lot of company on ArXiv, no?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 8:37 PM
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228: Wow. That's kinda sad-making.

Now it's a phrase applicable to no one,
Lying just where you left it, scattered through
Old lists, old programmes, a school prize or two
Packets of letters tied with tartan ribbon -
Then is it scentless, weightless, strengthless, wholly
Untruthful? Try whispering it slowly.
No, it means you. Or, since you're past and gone,

It means what we feel now about you then:
How beautiful you were, and near, and young,
So vivid, you might still be there among
Those first few days, unfingermarked again.
So your old name shelters our faithfulness,
Instead of losing shape and meaning less
With your depreciating luggage laden.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 10:53 PM
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[W]hen we talk about "God" in the New Testament, we are really talking about God as experienced through the mediation of the humanity of Jesus?

"[M]ediation" is problematic in this context (compare "the humiliation of God in Christ"), but I think yes, at least after Paul.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 11:28 PM
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150: I don't supposed it ever crossed his mind that somebody should study spelling!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 11:31 PM
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148:

12: So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
13: He had also seven sons and three daughters.
14: And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Keren-happuch.
15: And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.
16: After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations.
17: So Job died, being old and full of days.
18: Fuck you, clown.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 3-12 11:35 PM
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Interesting thread. I think helpy-chalk's totally right about the importance of theodicy in the OT. There's a lot of inconsistency in the theology of the OT as a whole, which is hardly surprising since it's cobbled together from a bunch of different books written by different people at different times for different reasons, but the approach to theodicy is remarkably consistent throughout most of them (with Job being an important exception). One way to interpret this is to see theodicy as being a major concern of the redactors who chose these books and edited them into their current form as a unified work. Specifically, they seem to have been very concerned with explaining the Exile, and the explanation they settled on was that it was God's punishment of the Israelites for their disobedience. So as Sheila notes there's all this stuff about obedience and about the people being punished for various forms of it, but in some sense it's all leading up to (and/or foreshadowing) the big catastrophe.

I know and care much less about the NT, but my understanding is that it's very different.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:40 AM
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You see, the thing is that God's main project isn't us

A theme taken up in the Arthur C Clarke story "The Star".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 2:38 AM
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13: He had also seven sons and three daughters.
14: And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Keren-happuch.
15: And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.

Feminism: a little-known side-effect of boils.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 2:38 AM
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223: Could someone give a lay explanation for the more slow-witted rest of us?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 4:21 AM
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Remarkable abstract is remarkable.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 4:37 AM
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I'm not familiar with the quantum bullshitters. What do they spew?

Quantum-bullshitting comes in various forms, not all of which is explicitly new-agey. Generally speaking, it's the glib invocation of quantum mechanics, or more typically a mangling of quantum mechanics as a hand-wavy solution for some problem. The archetypal new-age quantum-bullshitter is Deepak Chopra, but a non new-agey example would be Penrose when he talks about consciousness.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 4:40 AM
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240: Is this sort of like a variant of people who try to apply the Heisinger Uncertainty principle to everything?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 5:06 AM
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Well, it is and it isn't.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 5:46 AM
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How many US schools even offer an optional course in Naval Architecture?

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

An interesting place. Mostly known these days for being Wayne Manor in some of the Batman movies. I know a couple of graduates. Impressive people.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 5:56 AM
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243 To clarify, Naval Architecture isn't really optional, I think, it's what you study. Also only that one (I think there might be a couple of other schools).


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 5:58 AM
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241, 242: I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 6:44 AM
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Maybe.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 7:13 AM
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The second thing is that the rest of theism is generally committed to the general reliability of our considered moral judgments. People are supposed to know right from wrong so they can choose the good, etc. So to postulate that there's some ultimate reason that God allowed X to happen, when we can all clearly see and are supposed to trust our judgment that X is evil, undermines a lot of the moral universe.

FWIW, the main reason I quit Christianity in the first place was that I didn't think I needed God to tell me what to do (or more specifically, thought the whole original sin as eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil thing was a clever narrative ruse designed to prevent Christians from questioning God etc.) Then I read Ordinary Men and noticed that in fact the average person is crap at discerning the good, and really does need some right authority and affirming community of same for guidance. (See also, the Milgrim and Stanford Prison Experiments). For all of our learning, we are fundamentally and inescapably herd animals.

Discerning the will and mind of God is next to impossible IMO, but What Would Jesus Do is actually a pretty simple question to answer in your daily life most of the time. (Cultivating your inner self to attend to and follow the answer is a different matter entirely, of course.)


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 7:45 AM
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It seems to me that "what would Jesus do" either means "what's the right thing to do" in which case you haven't gotten anywhere or it's incredibly hard to figure out. What would a first century Jew who thought that a God would revolutionaize the world in the mid 1st century do if he were suddenly in the 20th century in my life is kind of hard to evaluate.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 7:50 AM
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When Brian Boitano was in the Alps/Fighting grizzly bears,/He used his magical fire breath/And saved the maidens fair


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 7:52 AM
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248: "Do onto others" isn't that hard to figure out, excepting for masochists.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 7:55 AM
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"Do onto others" isn't that hard to figure out, excepting for masochists.

And heterosexuals.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 7:57 AM
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Jesus was certainly compassionate. To the extent that the slogan inculcates a mindset that considers other people, it's useful. Rosary beads or small devotional images are also easy to scoff at.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 7:57 AM
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Except when you bring in the trans-temporal self and how maybe your current-self really wants a chocolate cake and your next-year-self really wants to be thin. That gets hard again.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 7:57 AM
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Would Jesus cheer for Tim Tebow to replace Mark Sanchez?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 7:58 AM
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251: Po-TAY-to, Po-tah-TO


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 7:59 AM
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The potato thing is totally gay, Moby.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 8:01 AM
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248 is right (though I live in the 21st century myself).


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 8:02 AM
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I would live in the 21st century, but I just got good at Windows 3.1.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 8:06 AM
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Po-TAY-to, Po-tah-TO

But no one anywhere says Po-Tah-To. That's a filthy lie told by Cole Porter or someone. You're thinking of tomayto, tomahto.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 8:10 AM
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I like potatoes more than I like tomatoes so I did it my way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 8:13 AM
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The first quantum bullshitter was Niels Bohr when he talked about complementarity.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 8:27 AM
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Jesus was certainly compassionate.

And an advocate of torture, making him the first compassionate conservative.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 8:55 AM
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For all of our learning, we are fundamentally and inescapably herd animals.

The idea of using religion as a remedy for the base herd instincts of humans is ... counterintuitive.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 8:57 AM
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263

There is no remedy. Jesus can herd us in the right direction, if we let Him.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:07 AM
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248 - Go buy some buffalo wings and watch a football game, then maybe take a schvitz?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:09 AM
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What would a first century Jew who thought that a God would revolutionaize the world in the mid 1st century do if he were suddenly in the 20th century in my life is kind of hard to evaluate.

I don't think it's that hard to evaluate. He'd scream a lot and eventually become catatonic.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:10 AM
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266: Heck, I can manage that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:11 AM
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Sheesh, everybody's a critic.


Posted by: Terri Schiavo | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:16 AM
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What Would Jesus Do is actually a pretty simple question to answer in your daily life most of the time

Yep. For the most part, look at the kind of jokers who affect to be His followers and weep.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:16 AM
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What Would Jesus Do is actually a pretty simple question to answer in your daily life most of the time

He'd probably fix the broken hinge on the kitchen cabinet, for instance. Without even being asked twice.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:19 AM
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What Would Jesus Do is actually a pretty simple question to answer in your daily life most of the time

So would Jesus bike to work or take the train today?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:20 AM
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Theodicy:

"We couldn't have Gallant without Goofus," said Highlights Editor Kent Brown, "Without Goofus, Gallant would be bland and no one would pay attention. But kids see parts of themselves in both characters. No one is as good as Gallant, and no one is as bad as Goofus. But being more like Gallant is something to strive for." Brown, a grandson of the magazine's founders, claims he was the inspiration for Goofus.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:22 AM
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271: He'd drive a white SUV.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:23 AM
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272: Satan tricks people into giving up their souls to eternal damnation. Jesus dies on the cross for their sins.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:26 AM
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262

Also, advocate for torture? I don't what you're referring to there.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:27 AM
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no one is as bad as Goofus

Goofus killed seven million Jews.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:28 AM
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Goofus made Sauron his bitch.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:31 AM
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I could tell he had picked up his Nietzscheism from a comic book.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:33 AM
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Tomato, tommy-toe.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:34 AM
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Also, advocate for torture? I don't what you're referring to there.

If the Bible is your source material for Jesus, then Jesus was straight-up pro-hell - advocating eternal torment not merely for your behavior, but for your beliefs. I mean, given the whole omniscience thing, it's not like he's even trying to get information.

I understand that folks like to ignore that part of the Bible. I'm certainly not accusing you of advocating torture. As you point out in 60, some people don't take texts very seriously.

Still, the language of the Bible is as straightforward on eternal damnation as it is on charity.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:46 AM
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Goofus is down with OPP.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:46 AM
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280

Could you give me some citations? When I first returned to the New Testament I found it surprisingly vague on the subject of Hell, and recall wondering how our concept of it had become so developed and vivid. But I could have glossed over something as you mention.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:49 AM
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Jesus was straight-up pro-hell - advocating eternal torment not merely for your behavior, but for your beliefs.

That is an unusual reading of the Bible.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:52 AM
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282: Matthew 25:31-46

31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40 "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45 "He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:54 AM
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That's not exactly "advocating" it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:55 AM
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Stating an intention to engage in it? It's not exactly advocacy, but it's something like it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:57 AM
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Could you give me some citations? When I first returned to the New Testament I found it surprisingly vague on the subject of Hell

Let's start with the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew v:
Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

And then there's Matthew xxv.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.


And Revelations xx.
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.


The New Testament is not, in fact, at all vague on the subject of hell.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:58 AM
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I don't have a cite for 'not for behavior, but for beliefs' -- the passage I quoted is clearly about behavior.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:58 AM
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Apocapwned.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:59 AM
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Indeed. I think you'd be pretty hard pressed to find Jesus teaching that what you "believe" (in the sense that you're using it) is terribly important. Certainly when Jesus talks about hell in the gospels it's tied to actions not beliefs.

(I hadn't noticed before that Luke basically edits out every mention of Hell from his sources. The ratio of hell mentions from Matthew to Mark to Luke is pretty dramatic. The only mention in Luke is a reference to the power to cast into hell, not anyone actually getting cast into hell.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 9:59 AM
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285: Sure, he's not saying "Vote yes on Proposition 35: Hellfire for goats!" But as he's saying that "eternal fire prepared for the devil" exists, and was presumably created by (or with the approval of) God, and he (within an epsilon) is God, it does imply a certain acceptance of the situation.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:00 AM
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This should go with out saying, but Jesus didn't write the book of Revelations.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:01 AM
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I think you'd be pretty hard pressed to find Jesus teaching that what you "believe" (in the sense that you're using it) is terribly important.

It's pretty easy to find verses that say you have to believe in Jesus.



Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:02 AM
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(within an epsilon iota)

FTFY.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:02 AM
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Certainly when Jesus talks about hell in the gospels it's tied to actions not beliefs.

I think you get "beliefs" from John:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:02 AM
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(within an epsilon iota alpha and omega, surely)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:04 AM
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280. What? There are 4 slightly conflicting Gospels, hades I think makes an appearance in Luke and Matthew, about Lazarus. Sheol is a pretty obscure bit of the old testament. It's Paul and later writers who really light up about punishment and salvation.

Talking past each other I guess- I view faith as something positive for the rare people who have it, not connected to bullshit politics in the rural US. The relationship between faith, something that I see as usually beneficial to individuals, and the politics of organized religion is something else, I have no pat answer.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:04 AM
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This should go with out saying, but Jesus didn't write the book of Revelations.

He didn't write any of the others either. Not sure what the relevance of that is.



Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:04 AM
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This should go with out saying, but Jesus didn't write the book of Revelations.

No, that was Bill Ayers.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:04 AM
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I think you're confusing Jesus and Paul? Anyway, I will grant that in John (whose Jesus doesn't bear much resemblance to the Jesus of our better sources Matthew, Mark, and Luke) you'll find Jesus saying more stuff about about "believing in Jesus."


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:07 AM
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This isn't precisely about the fires of hell, but I've always liked it: Mark 9:42 "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck."

I mean, that's pretty bad, but not eternal torment bad. And you'd probably pass out, right? And why waste a perfectly good millstone? Aren't they expensive? A smaller weight would do, anyway. Clearly Jesus didn't have experience with this and was just spitballing, probably in response to an annoying question by the stupidest of his disciples.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:09 AM
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He's not quoted in the book of Revelations -- if you're talking about what Jesus would have thought about something, you have quotes (of whatever level of reliability) from him in the Gospels, but Revelations is all a vision. If you think the whole Bible is divinely inspired, it's all on a level, but if you put more weight on things that can attributed directly to the historical Jesus, the Gospels outrank Revelations.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:09 AM
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If you're talking about what Jesus taught the gospels are at least somewhat useful and Revelations is completely and utterly irrelevant.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:09 AM
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300: those goalposts are shrinking to eye-of-the-needle proportions. The original question was about whether the New Testament says much about Hell. Now we're down to not the whole New Testament, not even all of the Gospels, but just some of them, says something about whether you get eternal torture for thoughtcrime, or just for actual crimes.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:09 AM
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I thought the original question was whether Jesus was pro-torture.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:10 AM
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That is an unusual reading of the Bible.

In fact, it's a very ordinary reading of the Bible. Ask Pat Robertson, if you don't believe me.

More to the point, it's what the Bible actually says. Pat ain't wrong about everything.

That's not exactly "advocating" it.

What, you figure this for objective journalism? Just reporting the facts without imposing any value judgments on whether it's okay for God to act the way he does?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:10 AM
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305: according to Matthew, the answer is yes. Torture not only for crimes, but torture for failing to visit people in prison. Torture for not giving to the poor. Torture for not giving food to the hungry. Torture forever, in a lake of fire, with no hope of escape. At least Dick Cheney would have unplugged the electrodes once you'd given him the names of your co-conspirators.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:14 AM
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One more with 305. I'm not interested in Pat Robertson, except as a political force.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:15 AM
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305: If you accept an eternal afterlife, then eternal torment in fire really should count as torture. (If not, you should see if there are any openings wherever John Yoo is working nowadays.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:15 AM
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Right, according to Matthew the answer is yes, according to Luke the answer is no, and in Mark you can't quite tell.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:16 AM
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pwned by 307.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:16 AM
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306.last: Yes. There is very clear advocacy for acting in ways that don't lead to hell.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:16 AM
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290: Revelation 21:8 "But for the cowardly and UNBELIEVING and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:19 AM
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according to Matthew the answer is yes, according to Luke the answer is no, and in Mark you can't quite tell.

Hence the phrase "gospel truth".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:20 AM
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312: The stereotypical mob enforcer clearly advocates that you act in ways that don't lead to him breaking your legs.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:25 AM
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139 to 284.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:25 AM
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Notice that the New Testament is not vague on the existence of hell, but in fact says nothing about its torments being "eternal." That's why that issue had to be settled with an extra-Biblical royal rumble smackdown among the early Church fathers. When Origen claimed that the Bible did not support the notion of eternal hellfire, he was correct... although such passages don't exactly rule it out either.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:25 AM
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317: Just a quick dip in the lake of eternal fire?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:28 AM
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Castock, see above. Revelation says "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." In context, that's where the sinners end up as well.

I suppose it's conceivable that the devil, beast and false prophet are there for ever, and the sinners are scooped out after a few millennia in a kind of giant wire fry basket...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:28 AM
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Link in 278 is great.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:29 AM
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See also the quote at the end of 284: "Then they [the "goats"] will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Not to say the NT doesn't contradict that elsewhere, though.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:29 AM
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Right, according to Matthew the answer is yes, according to Luke the answer is no, and in Mark you can't quite tell.

My guess (which is really only a guess) is that Luke and Mark never contradict the existence of hell.

I get that the whole point of Jesus is to have a divine template on which people can impose their own values, but a lot of people claim something else is going on - that we know, despite the words of the Bible, Jesus's real intent.

No true Jesus would advocate torture.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:30 AM
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319.2 made me laugh.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:30 AM
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And torturing people for a finite period as a punishment for not giving to charity, or not going to the right church, is also massively uncool.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:32 AM
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319.2: Or to put it another way, many of the early Church fathers thought it was dickish to sentence flawed mortal to eternal hellfire and that God wouldn't be such as dick as to treat humans the way He treated the Ultimate Dick. (The inclusion of Revelations in canon was also not settled until quite late, incidentally, again because periodically there would be learned religious men politely pointing out how fucking nuts that book was.)


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:32 AM
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That'd be a new one for county fairs - deep fried sinner on a stick.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:32 AM
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It's worth noting that at the time of Origen, and indeed for many centuries afterwards, Revelation was highly disputed.

But it does seem to me that the end of Matthew 25 is reasonably clear about eternal punishment... What's the counterargument supposed to be there? (Not counting Matthew made that up as an argument, since Matthew is as canonical as canonical gets.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:33 AM
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Or to put it another way, many of the early Church fathers thought it was dickish to sentence flawed mortal to eternal hellfire and that God wouldn't be such as dick as to treat humans the way He treated the Ultimate Dick.

I'd have thought the lesson of the Old Testament would be never to bet against God being such a dick. But then, I suppose that's why there's a New Testament.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:34 AM
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324: Of course it is. It is nevertheless far less dickish than advocating eternal torment for your beliefs. (The old "faith vs. works" problem in Christianity -- which one did Jesus value more? -- is essentially insoluble.)


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:36 AM
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He didn't write any of the others either.

Who wrote any of the gospels is a very murky question. This is why "What would Jesus do?" really isn't an easy question to answer.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:37 AM
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323, 326: but that's the thing. You have to laugh at this stuff because the reality of it is so horrific. It's war-crime stuff. It's revolting. Endless streams of people being forced into the blazing napalm, and the idea that somehow they deserve it, and pushing them in and watching them crisp and squirm and blacken is somehow a virtuous action. It's the Big Finish! It's what the whole Greatest Show on Earth has been building up to!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:37 AM
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327: That the fire is everlasting does not necessarily mean the punishment is everlasting. Again that's a specific interpretation that has to come from outside the text.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:38 AM
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You're all damned! Damned! Do you ever stop to think what that word means? No, you don't. It means endless, horrifying torment! It means your poor, sinful bodies stretched out on red-hot gridirons, in the nethermost, fiery pit of hell and those demons mocking ye while they waves cooling jellies in front of ye. You know what it's like when you burn your hand, taking a cake out of the oven, or lighting one of them godless cigarettes? And it stings with a fearful pain, aye? And you run to clap a bit of butter on it to take the pain away, aye? Well, I'll tell ye, there'll be no butter in hell!

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:39 AM
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Oh, ok. I skipped Revelations because it is notoriously hard to interpret and I wanted to try to get a handle on the rest of it before going there.

But, yes, hellfire. Now that I think about it, what struck me as really vague was the circumstances under which all this was supposed to happen. It sounded to me like Jesus was talking about the Rapture there (where everyone is judged at once at some point in the future), instead of the concept we have now where everyone is sorted into heaven and hell immediately at death.

I think we're back to the question of whether God is actually good in any way a human can understand, however. Jesus is making a prediction about what God will do to those who behave badly, or fail to believe in him; (so far as I know politicalfootball's reading of that is a widely-if not universally-held one) not advocating that Christians torture unbelievers.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:39 AM
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I thought that for a second, then noticed the last verse.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:39 AM
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335 to 332


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:40 AM
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332: I'm reading a translation rather than the original, of course, but Matthew 25:46 says "eternal punishment".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:40 AM
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139 to all of this!

"Torturing people" is a fairly loaded way to characterize an act of punishment being inflicted upon disembodied souls.

Describing it as like being "thrown into a lake of fire" is clearly meant to imply that it's something fairly undesirable, but beyond that it seems obvious that none of us can know quite exactly what it would entail, since we don't and can't know what it's like to be disembodied.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:40 AM
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Where do you get that they're disembodied souls?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:43 AM
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It's also fairly uninteresting to talk about the whole notion as if it weren't predicated on divine, as in more-than-human, judgment. Sure, it's tasty-spicy polemic and all, but it's sloppy.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:43 AM
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That is silly. Of course hell is supposed to be torturous, and physically painful, and worse than any of us can possibly imagine.

(I thought the debate was over torture-on-earth.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:43 AM
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Fair point. Not having earthly bodies, then.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:44 AM
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341 to 338.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:44 AM
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339: I don't think it's clear in the Biblical text: that's another one that had to be settled by the Church fathers.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:45 AM
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338: Yes. Also, the idea was always that the actual worst punishment is choosing to be separate from God.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:45 AM
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340: Well, there's an issue there. What would Jesus do is, as I understand it, while a trendy way of putting it, conventional advice for a Christian -- you really are supposed to act, to the best of your judgment, just as you think Jesus would. If Jesus says that what the triune God that he's an element of does with wrongdoers is sets them on fire in a way that they can continue to appreciate forever, it becomes puzzling to figure out why we shouldn't do the same sort of thing, to the extent we can approximate it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:47 AM
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The wages of sin is death (Romans) and being cast into the lake of fire on Judgement Day is the second death (Revelation). Eternal punishment by fire is for fallen angels. Mere non-repentant sinners just don't get everlasting life.

Or, at least, that's the way it was taught in the Baptist churches I attended as a little kid. Once we moved to Durham and started going to the liberal Baptist church, Hell was barely ever mentioned.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:49 AM
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Well, it's certainly a common idea now that hell is physically painful. Just check out the chick tracts we're given occasionally. I don't know the bible for squat, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:49 AM
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Once we moved to Durham and started going to liberal Baptist churches, Hell was barely ever mentioned.

I bet it come up even less in Chapel Hill.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:51 AM
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346: There are many problems with the WWJD notion (and in fact the entire mythical construct of Jesus as God-man), but I don't think that's one of them: Jesus does take a reasonably clear stand against humans trying to appropriate that kind of divine judgment as their own right. In fact that would seem to be what the famous cast-the-first-stone story is designed to address.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:51 AM
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But no one says you should behave under the rule "What would God do?" Because that'd be putting yourself in the place of God. It's ok for God to be an asshole because the reason that it's wrong for you to be an asshole is that only God gets to be an asshole. This is what it means for God to be king, kings are assholes. My understanding of "what would Jesus do" is that the important thing is that Jesus was the perfect human rather than that Jesus was God.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:52 AM
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351: The non-canonical gospels do show Jesus as being an asshole for basically that reason.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:54 AM
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331: Hey, you're preaching to the converted here. So to speak.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:55 AM
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There's also plenty of support for the idea that this whole concept is just an empty threat, meant to try and get us to stop being such insufferable assholes to one another. Of course at the end of the day no one is *really* getting dunked into a lake of fire. We know that. It was just god's way of saying "you're really pissing me off."


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:55 AM
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I bet it come up even less in Chapel Hill.

Mostly just "Go to Hell, State!" at the end of the fight song.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:57 AM
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Now 354 I don't know about. A lot of Christianity has been and remains super-clear about the reality of Hell, which has indeed been one of the biggest arrows in the evangelizing quiver.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:59 AM
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Describing it as like being "thrown into a lake of fire" is clearly meant to imply that it's something fairly undesirable

I have to smile at the ways people strain to make Biblical Christianity into something humane. You really think that it's appropriate to describe being cast into a lake of fire as "fairly undesirable"?

"If you read carefully, you'll see that the Lake of Fire is meant to symbolize discomfort."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 10:59 AM
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There's also plenty of support for the idea that this whole concept is just an empty threat, meant to try and get us to stop being such insufferable assholes to one another.

At least this constitutes an actual effort to grapple with the real language of the Bible. But I think most folks would find "God is lying" to be a bit of an unsatisfactory answer.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 11:06 AM
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There's also plenty of support for the idea that this whole concept is just an empty threat, meant to try and get us to stop being such insufferable assholes to one another.

If this were the case, then it would the biggest backfire in the history of the universe.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 11:08 AM
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I'm sure other churches have had different interpretations, but my early understanding was that Hellfire destroyed your soul, and that the whole eternal torment thing was more Dante than the Bible.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 11:09 AM
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I'm holding on to one verse here, because my biblical knowledge isn't what it might be, but Matthew 25:46 does support eternal punishment.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 11:10 AM
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358: Certainly. That's why theistic evolution and "days as ages" and whatnot are more popular than the omphalos hypothesis.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 11:13 AM
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361: The translation of that passage is controversial. But at this point, I am well out of my depth and would have to defer to oudemia.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 11:14 AM
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361: However, it's not clear that every Biblical reference to "punishment" is a reference to torture in Hell. It has been correctly pointed out above that such "punishment" may simply consist in separation from God.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 11:15 AM
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I tried looking up some arguments for why Matthew 25:46 might be consistent with universalism, and they're pretty weak. I think you're right that Matthew 25:46 is pretty clear.

(Of course, given that this only appears in Matthew, and that Matthew is rather obsessed with hell relative to the other gospel writers, I think you should assume that this is Matthew's position unlikely to reflect any actual teachings of Jesus.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 11:16 AM
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The idea of hellfire was imported into (some sects of) proto-Judaism from Zoroastrianism during the period when Judea was part of the Persian empire. In the Zoroastrian version everybody gets out of the cooker after Ahura Masda defeats Ahriman in the final battle, which is still fairly brutal but a lot less so than eternal punishment. That may have been original to Jesus for all I know.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 11:21 AM
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I mean, my basic understanding on all of these issues is (a) none of it's my problem, because I don't actually believe in any of it, and (b) the bible's inconsistent enough that even if Christianity were, in some sense, true, there's no way for biblical literalism to work. At which point any particular troubling text can be disregarded at will, or at least by whatever scholarly/religious standards you choose to apply, but there's no way to get through the bible without being able to say "That bit's just wrong."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 11:29 AM
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1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
6 ¶ Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you


Posted by: OPINIONATED MATTHEW | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 11:38 AM
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Of course at the end of the day no one is *really* getting dunked into a lake of fire. We know that.

Who's "we"?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:00 PM
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there's no way to get through the bible without being able to say "That bit's just wrongmetaphor."


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:03 PM
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I think you should assume that this is Matthew's position unlikely to reflect any actual teachings of Jesus

This and the rest of the historical analysis of the text take us right back to 248:

It seems to me that "what would Jesus do" either means "what's the right thing to do" in which case you haven't gotten anywhere or it's incredibly hard to figure out.

Also, 367.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:05 PM
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370: Wrong, metaphor, potato, potahto, but in any case not likely to serve as a valid source of information about God's desires/intentions unless you already have a very good idea of what they are.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:15 PM
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370: First Corinthians, 14:34-35:

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

is a metaphor for . . . ?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:16 PM
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Huh?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:16 PM
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Life!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:18 PM
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338: Au contraire, being cast in a lake of fire is totally metal.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:24 PM
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373: There's a very good chance that passage wasn't in the original letter. Nonetheless, the person who wrote it almost certainly meant it non-metaphorically.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:30 PM
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I would say Sir Kraab is misinterpreting whoever she thinks is saying the Bible consists entirely of metaphor.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:36 PM
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That would be Urple, in 370, appearing to say that the bits that can't plausibly be interpreted as straightforwardly true are all metaphor.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:38 PM
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379 is right. Also, I was being a bit of a brat.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:41 PM
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My problem is that "distance from God" itself still seems to be a metaphor.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:42 PM
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371

I dunno, is there really that much debate about the actual moral teachings of Jesus in the Gospels? I honestly don't find them very difficult to understand, and wasn't aware that anyone did, really. I do take the point that the phrase should be more, What Would Jesus Say, rather than Do (mostly because one of the many things we're not supposed to do is tell people off about how they practice their faith, while Jesus does a lot of that himself as the son of God and whatnot)


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:43 PM
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382: is there really that much debate about the actual moral teachings of Jesus in the Gospels?

Kinda.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 12:49 PM
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I think there's a difference between believing that Jesus already agrees with you about everything and positing an actual alternative reading of the story of the Good Samaritan or whatever. But I'm already wandering into Pharisee territory here. I actually meant, is there any serious theological debate among Biblical scholars about the moral teachings of Jesus?

Note: Republicanism is not in itself actually evidence of a different interprtation of the Gospels. Christian Republicans may recognize the Gospel teachings about poverty perfectly well, for example, but prefer to honor it through private charity rather than welfare. Whether you or I think that is effective does not have any bearing on the Biblical interpretation.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 1:02 PM
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But it does seem to me that the end of Matthew 25 is reasonably clear about eternal punishment... What's the counterargument supposed to be there?

A counter-argument is that the talk about the afterlife in general is deliberately metaphorical and emphatic, not literal -- that Matthew's Jesus (and let's not forget Matthew has his own issues) is not primarily focused on the next world, but on the treatment in this world, in the view of God, of those who fail to embrace the radically egalitarian message of the rest of the passage (which is that treatment of the very poorest members of society is equivalent to the treatment of the divine, which is of course a deeply radical message), and that the passage is intended to provide a guide to life in this world, not the next. This is broadly consistent with the rest of the Gospels, in which "the Kingdom" is as much about achieving a religious community based on the shared love of God and radical equality in this world as it is about a system of rewards and punishments in the next.

While you can read a lot into the NT, it is generally very silent about the afterlife. (Except in Revelations, which is both controversial and, let's be frank, crazy). The emphasis of Jesus is quite clearly not about an elaborate system for reward or punishment in the next world based on acceptance of a specific set of moral conduct instructions for this world, despite what some Christians, and many more non-Christians, think.


Posted by: Not Really Delurking Christian | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 1:07 PM
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384 - The words "serious" and "scholars" are doing a lot of work there, but Joel Osteen and Bruce Wilkinson, to name two, are proposing a set of teachings about the moral teachings of Jesus and what the Gospels say about poverty that differs sharply from what most mainline or evangelical Christian theology says.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 1:10 PM
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I actually meant, is there any serious theological debate among Biblical scholars about the moral teachings of Jesus?

The question puzzles me. I suppose that just as you can dismiss the Bible's Jesus as not the real Jesus, you can dismiss scholarly views of Jesus that don't agree with your view as nonserious. But yeah, there's quite a lot of theological debate out there about Jesus' moral teachings.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 1:11 PM
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Well, I had to Google Osteen et al, and you got me: I guess I do put the prosperity gospel people in the "charlatan" category rather than the "theologian" category. I probably do need to learn more about how other people read the Bible before I say any part of it is easy.


Posted by: Sheila | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 1:22 PM
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388.first: I can certainly see why, and in fairness, I do think prosperity theology -- like much else associated with politicized evangelicalism -- is readily evident as a confidence scam and a perversion of religion. It's just that it's not obvious to many who have already been taken in by the scam, or have had "being taken in by the scam" handed down to them as a tribal Republican inheritance.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 2:54 PM
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I'm not sure how we got to "theologian" from 247, which was about whether WWJD is a workable guiding philosophy for daily life, but even if we take out Osteen, et al., mainstream denominations don't always agree about what JC would do.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 3:01 PM
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The premise of WWJD seems wrong from a Christian perspective. Christians are supposed to follow Jesus's teaching not try to act like him. Jesus is God, right? Mostly, anyway, or at least half. Humans can't act like God. We can't raise the dead. And we don't have a special destiny to suffer a horrible death to redeem mankind.

This has been another episode of Atheist Jew Tells Christians How to Be Christian.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 3:08 PM
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WWJD is just shorthand for what would Jesus tell me to do, which does sometimes include following his example.

Actually, though, What Would Jesus Christ Superstar Do would be a lot more interesting. Petulence and sexxy foot massages for everyone!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 3:41 PM
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Talk of the gospels always reminds me of the last supper scene from JCS:

Always hoped that I'd be an apostle/
Knew that I would make it if I tried/
Then when we retire we can write the gospels/
So they'll all talk about us when we die


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-12 3:44 PM
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Can I use this dead thread to post an OT* bleg?

(*Although not wholly OT--it relates very well to the post title. The post title is basically exactly what's being said by the ex. The ex is a person that will be introduced in the narrative below.)

A very good friend just had primary custody of her child awarded to her ex. She'd initially been awarded custody in their divorce several years ago, but the ex recently petitioned for a rehearing, which he attended with a lawyer and which she attended pro se, which is stupid but which she did principally because she has no money to hire a lawyer (she even talked to a few about potentially letting her set up some sort of payment arrangement, but was unable to find anyone willing to help on those terms), and although she'd been told (not by me, although if she'd asked me I probably would have also told her this) that judges and especially family judges often give some leniency to pro se litigants, this particular judge was extremely hostile to her as a pro se litigant, and in fact made clear that in his mind that alone was enough reason for her not to have custody, because "if you were serious about wanting custody you'd have come here with an attorney", and wouldn't let her introduce any of the evidence that she brought (because she didn't "know how to introduce evidence properly"), and also wasn't willing to hear any testimony from the child at all (the child is 11 and is terrified of her father--I've witnessed her severe panic attacks when she's been supposed to see him previously for visitations). Now, the crazy thing is that the ex doesn't even want custody of the child in what I would call the traditional sense--he wants to child to continue living with her mother. He just wants control over major parenting decisions--he wants to direct the mother about how to raise the child, and he wants her to consult him (and do as he says) on big issues. And this is exactly what was awarded by the court. The immediate thing he demanded is for the child to begin seeing a therapist that he selected (who the child saw for a while previously, and hates, and insists she does not want to see again; in my unprofessional opinion she likely does need to see a therapist (who doesn't?) for anxiety if nothing else, and she would be willing to do so but she really wants to see someone different, but the mother can't afford to send her to anyone different and the father is insisting that it be this particular therapist, who I guess he knows or something), so, by court order, she's now going to start seeing this particular therapist. And that might not seem like much of an intrusion but the mother insists that it's very clearly only the tip of a big iceberg--and in fact that the primary reason she left her ex is that he's pathologically controlling. Now, there's an odd dynamic here in that his ultimate leverage in all this is the threat to take the child from the mother if she doesn't do as he says, while he's made abundantly clear that he absolutely does not want the child living with him, so it's hard to imagine him exercising that threat, but that's not a bluff the mother is willing to try and call. Anyway, getting to the bleg: what should she do? Do places like legal aid handle family law/custody cases? Is asking for another hearing on the heels of the just-concluded hearing even feasible? (Let's stipulate that much of the evidence she would have introduced, had it been introduced, would have been relevant and quite likely persuasive on the question of custody.) Is there anything else she can or should do?

Presently, she is quite distraught, and so is her daughter.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 7:23 AM
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She really needs a lawyer with experience in family law in whatever state she lives in and it sounds like she'll need one on retainer for the next 7 to 11 years. In general, these days joint legal custody is common regardless of physical custody. I don't think how controlling he is (outside of abuse) is going to have anything to do with his right to be consulted on bigger issues. If what he calls "consultation" is what she calls "control", there will be a great deal of bringing things into court regardless of who is wrong about it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 7:55 AM
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That's not really cheerful advice, I guess. I'm certainly not an lawyer, so maybe I'm wrong.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 7:58 AM
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No, that was not cheerful advice.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:21 AM
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She really needs a lawyer with experience in family law in whatever state she lives in and it sounds like she'll need one on retainer for the next 7 to 11 years.

Ugh, how is this supposed to work? I don't know how divorced people ever manage to have any money at all.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:25 AM
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Oh god, what a horrific situation. Does that help?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:26 AM
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398: I have no idea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:28 AM
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The judge's hostility to pro se litigants is fucked up. The courts should bend over backwards to help people unable to afford a lawyer. It pisses me off that access to justice is a function of money. In my perfect world all (non corporate) lawyers work for the government, NHS-style.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:31 AM
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principally because she has no money to hire a lawyer (she even talked to a few about potentially letting her set up some sort of payment arrangement, but was unable to find anyone willing to help on those terms)

This stuff is just awful. There are people everywhere who need to hire lawyers but can't afford it. Meanwhile nobody who left law school since 1990 can survive as a solo practitioner because there aren't enough people who can afford legal fees. Apparently this situation is because the ABA only accredits law schools that charge massive tuition.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:32 AM
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The judge's hostility to pro se litigants is fucked up.

Yes, this is the part of the situation that makes me irate. At the end of the hearing, the judge actually told her, with hostility, that he hopes she "learned her lesson" about coming to court unrepresented. Yes, she learned it, your honor. She learned it real good.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:36 AM
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At the end of the hearing, the judge actually told her, with hostility, that he hopes she "learned her lesson" about coming to court unrepresented.

Oh my god.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:38 AM
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The problem is that you're at the mercy of the specific judge you're in front of. IME, and I litigate against a lot of pro ses, in NYS they do, reliably, get treated fairly leniently (the ones I litigate against lose because they're generally wrong on the substance, but I can't think of a pro se matter I've dealt with where I've thought "If that guy had a lawyer, it would have been apparent that he had a valid claim"). But (a) if you end up in front of the judge who does have a problem with pro ses, you're screwed regardless of what happens as a rule, and (b) I don't know family court, and I specifically don't know Urple-state-family-court. Thorn might, though -- aren't you guys neighbors?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:47 AM
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It is horrible what the judge is doing, but if the other side is going to be aggressive in the litigation, I don't see how you can go pro se without getting screwed at some point.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:49 AM
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Family court is (IME) really variable depending on the judge and because the judges have huge power can be excellent or really, really suck and I know of examples of both.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:51 AM
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If she got a lawyer, could she appeal the decision?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:51 AM
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406 is right. So what do you do if you're broke?

(I gave her the number to the local legal aid, but that's basically the extent of what I know to do that might be helpful.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:51 AM
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Actually I mostly only know about the sucky side, but we've mostly dealt with one county (not our own) and I've heard better things about other ones.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:51 AM
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409: Maybe some sort of domestic violence organization would have some resources? I don't know who the players are in your area, assuming she's there, but there may also be some programs affiliated with the university. The Cntr for Wmn & Fmlies is supposed to be good.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:54 AM
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I don't understand the decision -- what does 'primary custody' mean if the kid is still living with your friend? What it sounds like is that there's an order saying "Regardless of the fact that the kid lives with the mother, in any parenting disagreement, what the non-resident father says goes." And that sounds not just improbable but unworkable. Is there a shot that she's confused about the outcome, and what she's upset over is just that the father has joint legal custody?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:58 AM
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409: The counseling Nia and her mom are getting is through C/th/l/c Ch/r/t/s and they have very manageable sliding-scale rates (like $5 sessions) and at some point the mom is going to need to have a counselor she has selected who's evaluated the child. I assume dad can't keep the child from seeing more than one counselor, right? Even a school counselor might help and can make a referral.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:58 AM
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412: There are differences between legal and physical custody that come up sometimes. I may not have the wording right, but I've definitely heard of situations like this one (good or bad) before.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:00 AM
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Both parents having legal custody, with theoretically equal voices in parenting decisions, sounds perfectly normal to me. Both parents having legal custody, but one is in charge whenever there's a disagreement sounds bizarre. I don't know much of anything about family law, though -- if it happens all the time, it happens all the time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:03 AM
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I can certainly see how having equal legal custody would really grate on the parent with physical custody. You're very likely to get a situation that is functionally equivalent to taking orders from the person you divorced for being controlling. But, I thought that now joint legal custody was the default in most states.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:07 AM
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Right. I'm wondering if the story is that the initial decision was that the mother had sole custody and the father had no rights at all, and this decision restored the situation to the conventional default. That might also explain some of the hostility from the judge, if he thought that the father had been unjustly treated in the first go-round.

(It's also unclear how bad the father is. If we're talking abuse, he obviously shouldn't have custody at all. But if the parents just can't stand each other, that's not a good reason by itself that he shouldn't have input into how his kid is being brought up.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:11 AM
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I was thinking that if she was asking for something that isn't actually legal (i.e. sole legal custody), that might explain why the judge was upset. For reasons of family history, I'm going out of my way to see this from the judge's point of view.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:16 AM
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That is, upset by her lack of legal representation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:17 AM
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Right, not so much "I won't listen to your reasonable arguments without a lawyer" but "A lawyer would have told you that what you're asking for is out of line, and would have kept you from wasting my time."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:19 AM
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(Obviously, I don't have the information to know any of this. I'm just wondering if it's really as bad as it sounds.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:22 AM
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C/th/l/c Ch/r/t/s

Cthuluic Chariots!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:23 AM
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Right. I'm wondering if the story is that the initial decision was that the mother had sole custody and the father had no rights at all, and this decision restored the situation to the conventional default.

I dunno--she said he was awarded "primary custody", and that he has the right to physical custody of the child, and that she only has vistitation rights. But, he's letting the child live with her (because he wants it that way), as long as he gets to make the major decisions.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:49 AM
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413 is good advice.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:51 AM
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Huh. If that's accurate, and I were her, I'd be making up a paper trail as rich and detailed as possible confirming that the kid does live with her and the father wants it that way. All communications with him by email, and so on.

Because I really can't imagine a court (oh, a crazy enough judge could do anything. I just mean it seems unlikely) knowingly awarding physical custody with the intent that it be disregarded and available only as a threat: to get an order awarding physical custody, I bet the father had to represent to the court both that living with him was in the kid's best interest, and that the kid was going to live with him. At which point if he tries to use the threat against her and drag her back into court, she'll be able to say "But judge, he lied to you last time! Look look, he said he wanted the kid to live with him, and then two days later emailed me to talk about the kid continuing to live with me. He doesn't want custody, he just wants to jerk me around!"

But yeah, she needs a lawyer. The big firms I've worked at have done pro bono family law, but I can't remember how they handled intake; probably some Legal Aid type organization vetted cases for them. You might be able to research that for her locally; how to connect her with a BigLaw associate who's looking for a pro bono case.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:58 AM
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All communications with him by email, and so on.

She doesn't own a computer.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:01 AM
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Text message? Those can be saved, right? Or paper mail.

But where does she live, under a rock? Who (barring grinding poverty) doesn't own a computer these days?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:02 AM
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Smart phone?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:02 AM
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But 425 is still good advice.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:02 AM
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Who (barring grinding poverty) doesn't own a computer these days?

The kids that got narc'd on by the elf.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:04 AM
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Right, not so much "I won't listen to your reasonable arguments without a lawyer" but "A lawyer would have told you that what you're asking for is out of line, and would have kept you from wasting my time."

Yeah, I don't know, maybe, although the fact that he dismissed out of hand hearing anything from the child (whether in court or in chambers) makes me inclined to think he's just an asshole.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:12 AM
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Anyway, I don't think "it's possible you were genuinely irritating the judge" will offer much solace.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:13 AM
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Who (barring grinding poverty) doesn't own a computer these days?

Why are you barring grinding poverty? Seems likely enough to me. I don't think it matters if the IP address an email is sent from is traceable to your house, so could she use a friend's computer?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:56 AM
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433: "Grinding" was in there for a reason -- I'd expect anyone who literally couldn't afford a cheap computer to be in enough financial trouble that the the main issue with custody would be that they were having trouble living indoors on a consistent basis, and I'm figuring that Urple would have mentioned it if that were most of what was going on. I mean, I know people who are pretty seriously broke -- real, serious trouble getting the bills paid. And they're all on FaceBook.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:59 AM
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No, it's not that--she just doesn't like computers. She uses them at the library occassionally. She also doesn't own a tv. They read a lot of books. (From the library, mostly.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:02 AM
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But anyway, there are lots of things to establish the paper trail on where the kid lives. School records -- they should have something saying who's authorized to pickup, but certainly the home address and primary contact, which are both going to be your friend. Doctor's office, similar. She might make an effort to get the kid's address on the public record more places -- does the kid have a bank account? And anything at all from the father directed to her or the kid at her address: birthday cards and such. Encourage paper-mail correspondence between the kid and the father?

I mean, none of this will help if the judge actually meant to award the father 'physical custody to be used as a threat' and knows the kid won't be living with the father. But if the judge is being deceived, they hate that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:07 AM
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And contemporaneous written accounts of her own can have some value, right?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:13 AM
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At least in CA, awarding "visitation rights" to one parent means that the other parent has sole legal custody and is responsible for all major parenting decisions (including medical care, such as therapy). That's very unusual absent cases of abandonment or abuse. The norm is joint legal custody, which implies a right to make joint decisions over things like medical care, regardless of how the physical custody is arranged. Normally, with something like a therapist, that would mean that either parent had a veto power over the therapy, with the other parent being able to go into Court if necessary to ask for the therapy "in the best interests of the child."

Removing legal custody from a mother, regardless of physical custody, is a tremendously severe sanction and basically unheard of here absent allegations of abuse or abandonment. My guess is that some of the subtleties here are being garbled in translation to Urple.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:14 AM
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Urple: if this is in what I'm pretty sure is your town, several years back I helped a friend there in similar (though far less dramatic) circumstances try to identify some resources when she couldn't afford a lawyer. Her ex ended up backing off from his litigation threats--so I can't speak to how helpful they are in practice--but we did identify some possibilities. In addition to Legal Aid, which you mentioned, I'd call the University of Urpleville's law clinic (they just have one catchall clinic IIRC, and if I have the city right)--they take some divorce/custody cases, and the person I spoke to back then was helpful in suggesting other resources. I'll try to dig around my old emails this evening to see if I have any other concrete suggestions in there.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:16 AM
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437: It worked for Victor Klemperer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:19 AM
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Also, if there's no reason for her not to have a computer, she might get one purely for the purpose of emailing her ex. If she doesn't want meaningful internet access in the house, she could probably get something wildly underpowered and a dialup connection that would make it impractical to use it for much other than emails.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:32 AM
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is a tremendously severe sanction and basically unheard of here absent allegations of abuse

My guess is that this is exactly what happened. She's anti-vaccines (and hasn't had the child vaccinated), which the opposing counsel characterized as endangering the welfare of the child.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:56 AM
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(Of course, her ex doesn't even really care about that, and as far as I know isn't asking her to vaccinate the kid. It was just a basis of complaint.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:58 AM
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Not vaccinating is endangering the welfare of the child.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 12:01 PM
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Okay, but my point is that (1) it's not the sort of endangerment that well-represented people usually lose custody for, I don't think, (2) how seriously could the court think the child is in danger, if the child is continuing to live with the mother, and (3) the kid's still not being vaccinated, so if that was the basis of the complaint, wtf?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 12:05 PM
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Well, sure.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 12:06 PM
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Not having a computer doesn't mean she doesn't have an email address. She could still get some of this stuff down in writing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 12:10 PM
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She does have an email address. She checks it periodically at the library. But I don't think having "all communications with [her ex] by email" is realistic.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 12:19 PM
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Oh, doesn't have to be all. I was just thinking of having enough to make it abundantly clear that the kid lives with her and the father wants it that way on paper. She should vaccinate her kid, but if she's not going to then email correspondence establishing that he's not going to and doesn't give a damn about it either is also a good idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 12:26 PM
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And what I'm thinking, to be clear, is that she should build this record, do what she likes (by which I mean considering his input, honestly trying to work out contested issues with him, but for anything that's a real problem for her using her best judgment), and if he hauls her back into court over some disagreement then bring out the record showing that he thinks she's the appropriate person to have physical custody.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 12:28 PM
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FWIW (probably nothing), an attorney recommended by legal aid looked through the court paperwork yesterday, and described it as a shocking miscarriage of justice. Hopefully, she'll be able to help. And all of you blaming the victim upthread should be ashamed.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 10:07 AM
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The real victim here is the unvaccinated child and all the children she's endangering.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 10:41 AM
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She's anti-vaccines
her ex doesn't even really care about that

Suddenly I want both of them to lose.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:40 AM
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451: I'm very glad she's got a lawyer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:42 AM
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453: If the facts are correct as written, I want him to lose.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:42 AM
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OT: Eventually, every Simpsons plot device will be an actual event.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:03 PM
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