Faith

Pat Ryan

God said it. I believe it. That settles it--fundamentalist Christians

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen--The Apostle Paul

If I have to explain it to you, you wouldn't understand--Harley owners, Jazz aficionados, Bicycle racers, MacIntosh users, Blue Oregon commenters

The most irritating people that I talk to tend to be the people who know stuff without any need to explain it. When challenged on certain insane sounding assertions, the worst of them go to one of the most worthless (and most common) arguments ever offered:

I can't understand. As in, I'm incapable of understanding the other person's position, usually because I cannot duplicate their experience personally. Like most effective rhetorical tools, this one has a grain of truth to it, as I may not indeed ever have the personal experience of any other individual on the planet, and it's always good enough for lazy minded people, who through the devaluation of me as an human being, give themselves license to ignore everything I say.

I hold these arguments, if not the people making the arguments, in the same contempt that they show to me. If I may legitimately opine only on those issue that I have personally experienced, then bring it on.

I don't want to hear any further comments regarding foreign policy issues from anyone who has not served in combat unless they argue the approved POV of The Soldier. No straight people may comment on gay issues unless they take the POV of The Gay. Is this absurd enough for you yet? How about the African-American Lesbian Amputee? Obviously I've never walked a mile in her shoe. Finally, I don't want to hear any opinions from any women, self defined members of ethnic minority groups, Christians, Buddhists, Moslems, or Bisexual Korean Moonies, when it comes to the horrible burdens borne by Privileged White Atheist Males. Unless, of course, you happen to be in total agreement with My world view, which is, after all, the only valid and moral worldview.

I throw the word "privileged" in, because you can't say White Male without saying "privileged in the same phrase. Faith means never having to say you're sorry. It also means never having to think about the topic of your dogma again.  If you know the same things now that you knew twenty years ago, I don't trust you or your arguments. Looks to me that once you got your little story together, you gave yourself permission to quit asking yourself questions. If so, you are effectively dead in terms of what you bring to a conversation. Just type up a little note covering your received wisdom and Shut up.

This of course, was your advice to me.  If your best argument is that I can never legitimately disagree with you, just know that this argument is totally ineffective in swaying any one else who might be following the discussion. Even if I'm a lost cause, you do yourself and your argument no favors.

Like Christianity, Progressivism's spread depends on changing minds. Attempting to do this by vilifying your target audience is a very poor tactic to accomplish that goal, but it does let you as an individual off the hook of having to think things through.

Comments

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    It would help in these discussions if the important distinction between faith and belief were clarified. The root word for faith comes from (fidare- to trust), which is process and relationship rather than the static meaning of belief, which is to hold fast to a conceptual formulation, or tenet, or ideology. The word faith on the other hand is equally applicable to a dynamic and changing relationship of friendship, spouse, family, or in the spiritual sense, to the Divine, the Universe, or Source. It is a misuse of the word "faith" in my view to reduce it to belief as religious fundamentalists have done, whether it be the textual/biblical fundamentalism of the fundamentalist evangelicals or the institutional fundamentalism of other Christian sects.

  • bravo (unverified)
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    I am not nearly as frustrated in this realm as you seem to be, but I can relate and MAN did this make me laugh. I think using humor to get a serious point across is one of the highest art forms and so I must say - well done.

  • (Show?)

    Into the Christmas punch already Paddy my boy? You can never write enough for me.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Ha, ha, ya. But it's hard work to argue honestly, Pat.

  • Larry McD (unverified)
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    "Like Christianity, Progressivism's spread depends on changing minds."

    Wheeeee! Do we absolutely have to do the Roman Circus and the Crusades things before we start the Inquisition??? Do we? Do we? Do we? Couldn't we do it all simultaneously the way Jeezhadists have been arguing and preparing for??

  • Steve (unverified)
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    "When challenged on certain insane sounding assertions, the worst of them go to one of the most worthless (and most common) arguments ever offered:

    I can't understand."

    Sounds like Progressives and Conservatives (not) carrying on a conversation. I agree, there are plenty of close-minded people in religion and politics.

  • Portland Dem (unverified)
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    Here's one good answer taking place in Oregon for Progressives to turn to: Oregon Center for Christian Values.

  • Bill (unverified)
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    Reason is one of the things missing from both ends of the poilitical spectrum. I am liberal because I am convinced there is no "self-defense" argument for the death penalty vs. perpetual incarceration. I am conservative because I cannot see the reasonable argument that a child moments before being born has no rights. I am liberal because I think that "government"-meaning "we" collectively have right and duty to care for the poor as one body of people. I am conservative because I think the "common good" implies objective goods and not mere caprice.

  • (Show?)

    See Bill,

    There you go again! Thinking for yourself only leads to complexity and nuance.

    Can't have that!

    <hr/>

    And to Portland Dem,

    Yah know, the Quakers, Methodists and Universalist Unitarians were getting pretty lonely over there with their insistence that Christians should actually follow the New Testament ideology that they claim to espouse rather than cherry picking their favorite obscure commandments out of Exodus and Leviticus.

    Good to see guys like Rick Warren, Richard Cizik, and other Baptist opinion leaders, getting out front and back on the messaging thaqt used to be common among evagelicals prior to Roe vs. Wade.

  • bill (unverified)
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    Pat Here's another reason I'm a liberal. I think choices in favor of the environment are needed. We have to leave to future generations an inhabitable planet in accordance with the order we can see in nature. The "common good" is something I'm sure we can come together on because we're part of nature and are entrusted with it. We are entrusted with it because we are the only discernable species I see able to act freely (apart from simply instinct).

    We can't go on exhausting the resources of the planet. Our selfishness has to take a place behind tought. The thawing of glaciers, the greenhouse effect, the building carbon dioxide problem, all coupled with the increase of natural disasters has me very concerned. We have to restrain our use of forests and all other natural reserves.

    Poor countries suffer the most because of the attitudes of the industrialized world and the sometimes excessive trust in scientific and technical progress.

    The richest nations should not to abuse resources of developing countries just because they can. There has to be a return to them in some way for the revenue derived from their resources. It's a matter of justice and equity. The goods of the earth are destined for all people of all times.

    Surely our intelligence has possibilities for bringing about a new, lasting course of action.

    Faith is the agreement we make when God reveals himself to us. In a way, the Thanksgiving holiday we just celebrated is symbolic of that. God is on his own side- and because he made us- he is on ours. We have to be on ours.

    The common good requires us to step back from our own wants and pains and take a bigger look. This country is built on sacrifices- Lincoln noted that a society as blessed as we could help lead this kind of change. Democracy ("under God"), as he said, is the "last, best hope of the earth."

  • raul (unverified)
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    Democracy under god may be great for some, but I'm not buying it. Our nation is a nation of laws created by We The People. Our rights were granted us by our creator, but I just view it as our birthright-

    I am a pro life, anti death penalty atheist. What I believe and feel I can explain to you without having to rely on an invisible sky wizard or whatever for direction.

    There is a tax free institution provided to those who want to do the faith thing- its called your church. Reason is all that should be needed to properly ensure our democracy. When faith gets involved and reason flies out the door, no amount of evidence at all can be injected into the situation.

    " I believe it just because I do " is just a cop out, and has no basis in good government. Citizens need to view each other as a group, and compassion, sympathy and empathy is what should be involved as we are all human, we all have families and we all have the unalienable right to live our lives. We have an absolute need to base policy decisions on FACTS.

  • (Show?)

    From your lips to god's ears Raul......

  • Bill (unverified)
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    Raul I hope your hostility is not directed at me. Like you, I can explain my positions using reason, which I indicated in my first post. I intend no wrong toward you or anyone else. As Lincoln said again, "We are friends, we must not be enemies."

  • raul (unverified)
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    I am sorry if you took my post as hostility toward you..I just don't agree with your ideas regarding faith-

    The whole god reveals itself deal should have nothing to do with how we choose to govern ourselves, or how we choose those who represent us.

    Whenever I disagree with anyone regarding their religious views, it always seems to be taken as a personal affront. There is no anger here- that seems to be how religious folks seem to feel when I choose not to accept their chosen mythology.

    Personally, I feel religion is harmful. Reagan's Interior Secretary felt that we could do anything we want to our environment because Jesus is coming back soon.

    Separating ourselves from the situation that we live in, with the hope of heaven, adhering to Manifest Destiny, demanding our leaders should be religious, this is all archaic thinking.

    Once again, if you want to do the religion thing- do it at church. That is what the first ammendment is all about. Civic thinking should be based on a morality that reflects how policies affect real people, not invisible spirits.

    And Pat Ryan, I see what you did there. That was funny and made me laugh out loud. You owe me a new keyboard.

  • Bill V (unverified)
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    Thanks Raul. Perhaps I was mistaken. But the suggestions that I let "reason fly out the door", that "I believe it just because I do" and that I "cop out" are unfounded based on what I have said so far. Maybe you were just generalizing about "my kind of people." If so, this is a faulty assumption. Likewise, it doesn't logically follow that religion is harmful, simply because individuals make certain conclusions about it.

    I don't expect everyone to agree with me. We can't totally walk in each others shoes, can we?

    Understandably, not everyone believes in God. Further, not everyone who says they have this faith can agree, or often even come very close to agreeing, concerning the implications of knowing God. So, it doesn't make sense to point to some group or Church groups to direct our affairs- there's no agreement anyway. Reason is the strongest tool that we all agree on to have the "great conversation" with. But persons who encounter God cannot, should not have to deny that they do. Conversely, agnostics and atheists should not have to say or act as though they are not- in order to maintain their place in society. I doubt anyone is correct about everything, but that does not disqualify one from their right to have a say in society's policies. Each one is naturally going to support the legislation and/or people whom they feel best represent themselves.

    I don't know if you mean to say that the very topic of God's or religion's place in society should be limited to private homes and Church properties. Perhaps not. If not, I don't know what you mean. If so, that would not be the purpose of the First Amendment. It would be unreasonable to think so- since the same people who proposed and enacted that amendment didn't hesitate to discuss what they believed were the implications of faith in legislative session.

    <h2>Rather, the amendment, I think, seems to protect free people from the kind of institutional subjugation I mentioned in the 3rd paragraph.</h2>

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