response to Gideon in lieu of content!

Greetings, my few, my happy few, my faithful readers. I have stayed up past my bedtime typing this up. Friday and Sunday this week will be my days off, so Amber, Pearl, Mom, I will attempt to call you then. Love! Hugs! Miss you!

In the meantime, I am still working hard and remaining in good spirits. Our downstairs neighbor Stan, who has five dogs, is interested in giving us one. Dave has taken up walking Stan's dogs for a very reasonable fee. And Stan is desirous of giving us one of those dogs. Namely Blue, with whom Dave has subsequently fallen in love. (He woke up calling for Blue yestermorn, at which point I decided it was best to surrender to the inevitable--fortunate my inclinations already lean in the direction of a dog-plus-cat household!)

But here, here is a comment which surely exceeds the 4096 character limit, or whatever it is. Here is my response to Gideon, in all its silly detail.

Ah! mes amis: je vous aime toujours. Bonjour, bon apr├ęs-midi, et si je ne vous pas rencontrer plus aujourd'hui, bon nuit.


Oh, don't worry about my constitution--the deli counter is toughening up this egghead faster than you can say "it's 9:15 and I want you to shave me a pound of prosciutto!"

(My new least favorite meat. I already disliked the taste, but it's a bastard to slice, too. Sticky, falls apart at the slightest touch, and must be laid out in neat layers separated by little plastic sheets. Which sucks when there's a line. But enough shop talk!)

Lorena is one of those online people I consider a friend. Though it is often said that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", I try really hard not to have enemies. So although, because of events for which I was largely not present, you seem to be the enemy of my friend, you are not my enemy. Make of that what you will! I have neither banninated nor baleeted anyone other than an obvious salebot, which you are not, and hope to keep my streak alive.

May I ask why your blog is now disbanded?

As for Lorena, please, since we are clearly of such differing views, I prefer not to discuss her further. It would only annoy us both. Your participation in this intention would be appreciated greatly by me!

Instead, hoping you do not mind, I will apply some of your points in re: deconverts to myself, and see what happens.

I will even take your words out of order, a great indignity!

The whole idea behind faith is that it gives one HOPE. After spending half of my life as an agnostic, by golly, I just don't see a lot of friggin' hope in the religion that she's chosen! Three score and ten, then... nothing!

For purposes of discussion, I tend to default to my dad's definition of religion. It is from the Latin, res legiones, namely: chosen things, the things one chooses to guide and shape one's life.

So, you find the atheist-materialist viewpoint a hollow and hopeless one. Many do, and seek organized faiths or DIY spirituality to fill in the gap! Christianity gives you hope and makes daily life meaningful and filled with wonder; for this I am glad.

But I'm telling you, this is not the case for everyone.

Christianity is a symbol set, a storyverse, which can be used in many ways and for many purposes. Yes, it is unfair to characterize the whole storyverse in terms of the negative and destructive interpretations laid on it by some controlling or narrowminded individuals. Or by the negative perspective of it that I, for example, grew up with, through a combination of circumstantial confusion, blurring of emotional value loads, the occasional unconsciously malicious individual, and good old-fashioned "failure to communicate."

Nonetheless the wicked "false" Christianity is my default, and the one rooted deep in my unconscious mind. Any other version comes up just as artificial, contrived, ineffectual, as any other organized-religious symbol set. And even moreso contrived and less effectual than any symbol set I've made for myself and tried out in practice.

The "believe, and you will see" dictum applies with equal efficacy to any well-constructed eidolon (definition 2). Meaning, an ideal which has been given form in the mind to the extent that one can interact with it as one would the memory-reconstituted presence of a human being not physically present.

I am not interested in an eidolon to which I give the name Christ. As for other deconverts, I cannot speak for them, though I suspect many would agree with this description.

To me it is more hopeful to say, "I suspect, I deduce, I imagine, but I do not know" than to cobble together an answer out of a much-disputed document and thunder "I know!" This brash certainty, with only the textev and the otherworldly pipings of my pet eidolon to back it up. This is how I see it. I would rather be a naked fool than a fool dressed up in that.

like many of those hardened infidels she's taken up with, are simply whiners that didn't get what they thought they should have, so, now they're mad, and they're taking their ball and going home.

Oh, the emotionally charged language you use. It makes me think you are reacting emotionally, based upon your experiences with those bloody-minded people who refuse to re-convert. Even beyond a certain person repeatedly banninating you, you must have been ill-treated elsewhere as well, to be so angry. You have my sympathy. (yes! I can do that!)

I am curious. I must inquire. What is it that, in your perception, the "hardened infidels" believe they should have gotten, that we have fled the faith because we did not receive?

For me--and my experience is by no means characteristic!--it began with deliverance from demons, and continued with relief from self-loathing and constant panic. These things I obtained over the course of a mere decade or so, after a paltry half-decade or so of prayers did not provide noticeable relief.

But ah! that is another story, and by no means all of my own little story, which again is entirely non-representative. So let us leave it for now, and go on to more pertinent matters.

(Yes. This is how I talk when I'm tipsy. In person, as well.)

So, to return to the topic at hand. As you see it, deconverts in general are merely selfish and immature. We are persons who demanded a particular response from God or from then-fellow Christians in a time of crisis. And, having failed to receive the response we desired, we have with petulance and spite decided to quit the faith and become its enemies.

It reminds me of C.S. Lewis, something he wrote in "The Problem of Pain." I do not recall it exactly, but the sense of the passage was this:

Some people wish to hold the universe hostage to their own unhappiness. Everything--time, seasons, the grace of God--must cease, until their private hurts are soothed and their objections answered. But instead of bringing the rest of the world to a halt, these people exile only themselves. They become prisoners of their own selfishness, cut off from all love and all hope because they refuse to receive it.

I didn't put that paragraph in quotes because, as I said, I don't recall the passage exactly and it is an extreme paraphrase. But it does seem to sum up the Christian view of why most deconverts leave the Christianity. And more specifically, the way that you, Gideon, seem to me to perceive the deconverts with whom you have thus far had conversation.

It is of course a narrative viewpoint. A metaphor, which can only be answered with other metaphors. Equally powerless to un-convince the convinced. But I will try to explain nonetheless.

It was like trying to divide numbers by first converting them all into fractions, before I knew how to do long division.

It was like trying to assemble a mechanical device using instructions poorly translated through Korean from Japanese, by persons who barely spoke either Japanese or English. (Both of which are notoriously idiomatic and difficult to learn!)

It was like driving a stick shift, when one only knows how to use automatic, down an icy road in winter, when one's car had a trailer which is not securely attached to the rear of one's vehicle.

It just seemed like a bunch of effort wasted on a thing which had no purpose, except to give other human beings a convenient lever by which one could be steered into directions of their choosing.

There was no God in it, except in the sense that there is "divinity" in any endeavor worth pursuing.

Perhaps that is petty, selfish, shallow. I am very happy to say that I guess, I deduce, I choose to believe for the purposes of hope and meaning in everyday life--but I do not know.

In case they or you or anyone hasn't noticed, there isn't any "evolution" going on in society, in fact, society's going down the head rather quickly! So much for this progression that humanists are always barking about. Oh, sure, now and then some little ray of light shines through, in some individual act of benevolence or kindness, but, overall, this world is surfing downward in ever-tightening spirals.

What a very cynical and depressing view of human life! Please, allow me to quote my big sister Amber, as quoted by my little sister Pearl on her Myspace:

"I live in a time when I don't have to worry about being shot with a poisoned arrow or raped six to eight times a year! My food is kept at the temperature I want in a box in my house! I have indoor f@*#ing plumbing! By the standards of most of human history I am a queen!"

This is not progress? This is not "evolution of society"? Trade increases, and war becomes increasingly distant from the lives of individuals! Yes, there are many places in the world--such as Afghanistan or the Sudan--where such progress has yet to take place. But it is no longer universal. There are, in many many places in the world, "salt and pepper on every table, and none account the cost." Salt--necessity, what humans need in order to live. Pepper--luxury, what humans desire in order to make the necessary things of life more enjoyable.

I do not share your view that humanity is gradually becoming more depraved, more ruled by instinct, less able to live in civilized society. In contrast, I think humanity in general is developing higher standards of behavior. By the measures we use today, yes, many actions by currently living persons seem barbaric and intolerable, which in previous centuries would have been "business as usual." But the fact is that now we have our modern standards for comparison. You and I presume, for example, that rape of any person for any reason is morally reprehensible. That the killing of any person, whether of one's tribe or social class or belief system or otherwise, who does not present an immediate threat to life and safety, is murder and thus unacceptable.

These and other comparable things are relatively new concepts for humans. We are just now as a culture, to say nothing of the species, getting used to them. I look at murder statistics for Chicago, which represent something like reality, and see a present triumph. How many times in human history have there been so many cities with so little violent death, and that so well accounted for? I look at shows like Law & Order and see a triumph of ideas. If this flawed but very human thing is the ideal towards which our system of justice strives, then perhaps it will become more effective as time goes on, prevent more needless suffering, deter more human evils.

I am not entirely surprised that you, who believe the doctrine of Original Sin, can look at humanity in its present condition and see only hopelessness. But I sympathize, because there are a lot of things which are still totally messed up, and a lot of people who are doing horrible things to other people and getting away with it. Still, I am glad your religion provides you with hopes. Because I see ample cause for hope in the supposedly bleak outlines of my everyday, "impoverished" life.

I have nothing to sell, friend Gideon. You get what you pay for, in this life or any other which may or may not exist, for certain values of the term "exist". And the only coinage that matters in any of them is attention--the hardest thing to pay. As Robert Ruark said, "Do not give up something of value unless you have something of value with which to replace it."

Thus, if you want to pay attention to the Christian story and the shape it gives to your life, do it! If you want to pay attention to something else, do that! By no means should you abandon anything that is working for you merely on my say-so.

I ask only the same consideration.

9 comments:

Amber E said...

What a beautiful post, really well expressed. I am flattered you like my comments that by standards of previous history I live better than royalty. (My apologies, prosciutto is my favorite deli meat but in my defense I never buy it at closing time)

Hope you do not mind if I address a few comments to Gideon, I am Fiat's big sister and a Christian, I love her and hope for her salvation. I do not know that she is not saved now. What I do know for sure is that she will not re-convert from me haranguing. I am really good at haranguing, I can do petulant, I can nag and guilt, however THAT WILL NOT WORK.

"Preach the gospel at all times -- If necessary, use words" -- Saint Francis of Assisi

This is one of my favorite quotes. Also, did you ever hear the song - "they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love."

Being loving and Christ-like in one's actions is the best witness.

Statements born of frustration are not likely to bear fruit.

Oh, while I was searching for the above quote here was a nice article someone wrote about experiences with people witnessing:
http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=617


Okay, back to Fiat, I talked to Dave the other day and Blue sounds adorable!

Fiat Lex said...

Amber -

Hi sweetie! Welcome back! I shall call you tomorrow and such, for I will be at home kicking back. Dave is going to head out to Burger King and get us lunch with some of his dog-walking monies, which I anticipate with pleasure.

And I like Blue. He and Shashi growled at each other a lot the one time we introducted them, but who knows? They may eventually learn to get along. We will have to progress very carefully.

Oh, and I just finished Monstrous Regiment of Women, which was wonderful! So deftly plotted and detail-rich! And I am nearly finished with Virtual Unrealities. Which you are right, I enjoy, although with its mix of really dark tales with interesting twists and mad romps through improbable futures. I rather think you'd've liked "The Flowered Thundermug", though--so endearing!=--except it was right smack in the middle. Oh, and that kid in "Star Light, Star Bright" reminded me of Elizabeth from the Mercedes Lackey books, when she shouted "Begone!" and didn't know enough to say "from whence you came." *shudders* Ah, the perils of commanding from a state of ignorance.

I do hope Gideon sticks around. He seems rather willing to listen! If we can't end the Mexican standoff between believers and nonbelievers in general, it should still possible to do it amongst ourselves.

And I love the St. Nicholas story! That was great! Isn't it weird how the Mrs. Grundys (or Mrs. Lovejoys, if the Simpsons reference is appropriate!) of the world sometimes get all "Santa Claus is a pagan symbol and should not be part of Christmas!!1!" When in fact the merry red-suited fellow is just an extremely simplified version of a bona fide saint? His good deeds, though, totally make that inspirational "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" article seem late to the party. Not that it wasn't a good article, ja?

Amber E said...

Get together in the sense of being civil and loving yes. However if the standoff you are referring to is between moral relativism and my belieft that there are eternal truths then no. I believe that there are eternal truths, of course you can disagree with that, it won't make the truths go away but me being a jerk about us disagreeing would not change either the eternal truths or your opinions, it would just make me a jerk. No moral relativism!

I do think we manage to be nice to each other most of the time. Love you and glad you get a day off. We will catch up then.

Fiat Lex said...

I referred not to the Mexican standoffs between the belief systems, but that between the persons who hold differing beliefs. All Christians can't be judged by, say, Joel Osteen, much as he is beloved by some, any more than all atheists can be judged by PZ Meyers, much though he is beloved by some. We are all individuals!

Gideon said...

Your French is a tad disjointed, girl, but, I got the message... same to you.

Also, Lorena doesn't frustrate me, she does that well enough to herself. If she's your friend, that's just great. She hasn't said much, though, has she? I've met her kind, before. It's all about her, and, when the focus isn't on her, and for her benefit, she can't be bothered.

I lose no sleep over anything that I say, or, is said to me. It's just text... period. She, on the other hand... well, I guess you know. And, all of her enemies are in her head. I'm certainly not one of them.

My blog? Ha! It served a purpose. I've had many, and I have one still up. They don't get much traffic, anyway, as you might imagine. See, I speak the truth, and in a society that loves lies and being lied to, you know how far I'll get. I prefer to visit other blogs, (let them do all the work! LOL!) and comment there.

You are a fence-sitter, Lex. You imagine your neutrality as something superior. Sooner or later, you will be called upon to take a stand. Your big sis knows this, and she's no doubt worried for you. You have the luxury of ignorance, and can stall her. She, if she's a Christian, knows that time is short. That's the gun that believers have to operate under, and atheists have no idea what they face, so they can (ill) afford to be evasive and even mocking.

Your faith in humanity is misplaced. I don't say that we should disregard society, but, merely, place it in it's proper perspective. It blows. Period. Man is doomed, and, maybe you don't get around, but, this world is a sump. That's not negative thinking, it's realistic thinking. Know why? Because, I'm the type of person that really doesn't give a shit, I do what I want, when I want. However, that mentality is tempered with (as your sis mentioned) the mind of the Spirit. It tells me how I should think and act, many times, because, as I've mentioned, I mostly don't give a fuck.

I don't care if gays bugger themselves silly, then get sick and die. (Just don't do it around me!) I don't care if 10,000 children in Ethiopia croak from starvation. We have our own problems. I'm really quite easy-going, and unwilling to shove my views and opinions down other's throats. Trouble is, God has other ideas. I'm like the Jonah of olde. All he wanted was to be left alone. God wouldn't do that. He had a job for ol' Jonah, and Job was going to do it.

I took Gideon's handle, because, like me, when there's a job to be done, it gets done. Gideon kicked ass, and so do I, in my own way. Poor little Lorena wasn't ready for the kind of Christian God uses for the hard cases, like those that she thought she was good enough to hang around. Many think that God is all luvvy-duvvy, and doesn't hurt people. Well, that's not scriptural. He not only kicks ass on occasion, but, He'll do it again, in future, though it be His strange work.

It's man that thinks that everything is okay... just don't rock the boat! A politically-correct bullshit society, is what we have, today.

Hey... let a prominent (and now deceased) atheist tell it like it is...

And, Here...

People make God in their image, but, they're in for great big, fucking surprise, one day.

There is a God, He's pissed off, and, He's coming back.

I didn't write it or dream it up, it's just the way it is. I accepted it, long ago. I live with it. Lorena couldn't, nor can her new buddies. They'd sooner believe in the wisdom (cough) of man. Oh well...

Anyway, I think you're a decent kid, and, if you leave the booze alone, there's no telling what you could do. I'll take the odd swig, now and then, but, take it from one who knows, IT can take over!

NIce to meet you, Big Sis!

Later...

The Everlasting Dave said...

Screw it. This is Fiat's boyfriend. I spent about an hour trying to craft a response, but nobody has any interest in changing. I hope you have found true happiness, Gideon. And you too, Amber.

Gideon said...

"I'm some dude you don't know. I'm mostly into making myself happy."

Good for you, Dave...

(What a surprise!)

(Not!)

The Everlasting Dave said...

"Not"? Are you serious? Damn, I've been hoping to wake up in 1995 for years now. I'm gonna go buy some stock in Bad Boy records and discover Incubus before they get cool. It's gonna be a good day, tater.

Gideon said...

You do that.

(Sheesh!)