Pharyngula

Andrew Sullivan replies

He thinks I missed his important distinction.

Christianity flees power as Jesus did; Christianism seeks it above everything else. And there is nothing more powerful than killing others, except for torturing them. Hence my distinction, which I make from no authority. I merely think that declaring a homeless, apolitical, non-violent hippie in first century Palestine as someone who would bless a twenty-first century terrorist militia in North America is a bit of a stretch.

Funny thing, that: that was my whole point. Modern Christianity is nothing but Christianists, then, and it’s a distinction that makes no difference. His Pope runs an official state, a member of the UN, that is dripping with extravagantly displayed wealth. Would his homeless, apolitical, non-violent hippie bless this man, this Pontifex Maximus, this Goldfather?

i-c1b8f5d15e40792a8d1e7852e236584d-goldpope.jpeg

Or perhaps Urban II, the man who fired off the First Crusade, would be a man more to the hippie’s taste.

i-091a39fe6e149483246d1f9bcb8caa51-crusader.jpeg

I don’t think I’ve missed any distinction at all. If your Palestinian hippie were here today, he’d be horrified and damn the whole mad carnival that has been established in his name, and they’re all Christianists.

For that matter, the weird theology that the old hippie espoused would be a ghastly basis for a world, and any culture in which Jesus would be comfortable would be a nightmare for the rest of us.

Comments

  1. #1 cag
    March 31, 2010

    Is this the Palestinian hippie who originally wrote “The Old Goatherder’s Almanac”?

    To those who do not get the above, there is “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” available in North America which makes predictions of the weather and makes other pronouncements.

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    March 31, 2010

    There are Christians who say that Jesus was the only Christian ever. Conceivably one could make such a case–although there seem to be some indications of a far more violent Jesus left in a New Testament largely purged of Jesus former teachings.

    Anyway, it matters little what Jesus actually said, only what he was said to have stated. So for argument’s sake, I’ll accept that Jesus was the only Christian that ever lived.

    Fine, Andrew the Christianist.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  3. #3 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Seems like he wants to draw a distinction between what he wishes Christianity was and what it actually is.

  4. #4 John Marley
    March 31, 2010

    The audacity! The hubris!

    Who do you think you are? With your “reading for comprehension”.

    You elitist bastard.

    /sarcasm

  5. #5 statueofmike
    March 31, 2010

    I think a certain distinction is important for apologists here. I’m not an old hippie, but isn’t there a slippery slope where abstracting value onto any objects like jewelry or clothing (the material or symbols involved don’t matter) allows you to justify any amount of personal wealth in the name of your “spiritual muse?”

    How do you distinguish justification between someone who lives in a golden castle and preaches that it is all in reverence to everyone else and someone who lives in a golden castle and shamelessly takes pride in it?

    More importantly, how can you call them out on it?

  6. #6 Blake Stacey
    March 31, 2010

    Would a “non-violent” man commit destruction of property, assault and battery? With a motherfucking whip, no less?

  7. #7 ereador
    March 31, 2010

    Luckily, Jesus probably never existed, so we do not have to worry about him coming back around. Here’s another important distinction: Despite appearances, Ratzy is not, in fact, the same guy as Hannibal Lecter.

  8. #8 stevieinthecity#9dac9
    March 31, 2010

    Ha. Marley.

    Reminds me of Palin saying. “We don’t need some Constitutional Scholar as President!” And she’s talking to a group who say they want to stick to the Constitution.

  9. #9 AC
    March 31, 2010

    Hopefully I can be forgiven for defending Mr. Sullivan, but I do agree with him that it’s appropriate to separate rhetorically the truly violent (or aspiring violent) from the merely religious.

    Those militia guys, just like Islamic terrorists, really are different from most (religious) people.

  10. #10 KaneHau
    March 31, 2010

    I actually AM a Palestinian hippie… happily living in Hawaii.

    Alooooooooha

  11. #11 Cuttlefish, OM
    March 31, 2010

    Whenever Christianity’s divided, split, or sliced,
    The fragments’ common feature? They do not resemble Christ.

  12. #12 Al B. Quirky
    March 31, 2010

    The Fulcher of Chartres version of the Speech at Clermont (1095) is theologically…creative, but Urban ll did something no modern European leader seems to be prepared to do: called for the defense of Europe from the invading Muslim hordes.
    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/urban2-5vers.html

  13. #13 Zeno
    March 31, 2010

    His Pope runs an official state

    Good thing, too! It means that the pope is not only infallible, as a head of state he possesses immunity from prosecution or lawsuits for covering up the depredations of child-molesting priests. Alleluia!

    P.S.: Official Catholic asshole apologist Bill Donohue insists that homosexuality is the problem in the priesthood, not pedophilia. You see, most of the altar boys diddled by priests were post-pubescent. Hence, not children! Hence, no child molestation! (It’s like a miraculous healing.)

  14. #14 jerthebarbarian
    March 31, 2010

    @3

    Seems like he wants to draw a distinction between what he wishes Christianity was and what it actually is.

    This is exactly right. It’s why people were calling him out on the “No True Scotsman” fallacy on the other thread.

    There’s a certain stripe of more liberal, more tolerant Christian who do not want to believe that their religion could possibly grow such vile offshoots as the post-apocalyptic Hutaree (or, for that matter, the Catholic Church hierarchy). They fall back on proof-texting the Bible to pretend like the people who are doing the things they find so horrible are misreading things.

    Unfortunately for them, the Bible isn’t an infallible document and it can be read multiple ways – I’d argue that the folks like the Hutaree are reading no more and no less into the text than folks like Andrew are – they’ve just chosen different bits to ignore and different bits to give prominence to. There certainly IS a strand of End Times Apocalyptic bullshit that runs through the Gospels — as much as there is Cynical “God will provide so don’t worry about it” philosophy and Stoic “What happens happens, learn to deal with it” philosophy. That the Hutaree have chosen to emphasize the End Times bullshit instead of the Sermon on the Mount doesn’t make them not-Christian the way Sullivan wants to label them – the Bible supports their view as much as it does his. (Moreso to a degree because as a Catholic his religion espouses Apostolic Legacy as a basis for its authority, which is rejected by the half of the New Testament written by Paul. So Sullivan already belongs to a religion that a good-sized chunk of Christians consider “NOT CHRISTIAN” anyway.)

    OTOH – I do have to think that it’s overall more healthy for liberal Christians to be standing up and saying “those people aren’t Christian”. Because the conservative side has been doing it for a very long time to the liberals and the liberals need to learn to stand their ground and actually start hurling some accusations of heresy around themselves.

  15. #15 raven
    March 31, 2010

    Crosspost from earlier thread:

    “Christianity flees power as Jesus did; Christianism seeks it above everything else. And there is nothing more powerful than killing others, except for torturing them.”

    Besides the Catholics, where do the Christofascists, Xian Dominionists, religious right, the Theothuglicans, Robertson, Hagee, Parsley, Dobson, Sarah Palin and all the other wannabe theocratic dictators fit in with “Christianity fleeing power”?

    Sullivan is just out in la la land Making Stuff Up. Christianity didn’t lose power, the people took away their guns and armies because they got sick and tired of the endless bloodshed.

    The religion has been on a downhill slide ever since. Without the power to torture and kill people, they don’t have much of a case.

  16. #16 NewEnglandBob
    March 31, 2010

    Christianity flees power…

    The RCC is a 100% totalitarian theocracy with absolute power at the top. No way of deposing Herr Ratz and a claim to infallibility.

    What world does Sullivan live in?

  17. #17 history punk
    March 31, 2010

    Notes that had the Seljuk Turks not aggressively attacked and waylaided the Byzantine Empire in a unrepentant, imperialistic holy war, odds are against Crusades ever occuring.

  18. #18 aratina cage
    March 31, 2010

    I love the smell of Jesus burning in the afternoon!

  19. #19 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    called for the defense of Europe from the invading Muslim hordes.

    such a short sentence, so much wrong with it…

  20. #20 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    Hopefully I can be forgiven for defending Mr. Sullivan,…

    Sure, but not for failing to read the first thread.
    :)

  21. #21 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 31, 2010

    Sullivan is going by the HippieJesus&trade in his head; there’s nothing to say what the real Jesus was like, let alone existed at all. If you go by the bible, the man had some serious mood swings going on. Not exactly a stable base for ideals.

    AC:

    I do agree with him that it’s appropriate to separate rhetorically the truly violent (or aspiring violent) from the merely religious.

    That’s not what Sullivan is saying. If a group is actively violent or looking to be violent, they can be described as Christian terrorists or Islamic terrorists or whatever the case may be.

    Sullivan is pulling out the No True Christian&trade shtick, and it’s not working. If someone actively identifies as Christian, then that’s what they are. Sullivan doesn’t get to claim them as christianists because he doesn’t like the flavour of Jesus they have in their head.

  22. #22 Sili
    March 31, 2010

    There are Christians who say that Jesus was the only Christian ever.

    I see I was beaten the punch in pointing out that there likely never was a physical Christ.

  23. #23 MrFire
    March 31, 2010

    but Urban ll did something no modern European leader seems to be prepared to do: called for the defense of Europe from the invading Muslim hordes.

    *golfclap*

  24. #24 Drew Smith
    March 31, 2010

    The Holy See isn’t a UN member state. It’s a UN non-member observer state.

  25. #25 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    March 31, 2010

    Christianity flees power as Jesus did;

    I don’t see any evidence of this claim, and certaintly, the Roman Catholic ChuchTM would disagree with this claim, too.

    —————————————
    Bill Donohue: It’s not the church’s problems. It is homoesexuals.
    http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/bill-donohue-child-molesting-priests-weren

  26. #26 TWood
    March 31, 2010

    I’ve enjoyed watching both Andrew Sullivan and Charles Johnson (Little Green Footballs) make their transition away from supporting the far right. Johnson does not seem to be burdened with ‘faith’ like Sullivan. It’s painful to watch Sullivan clinging to it by his fingernails, unable to just let it go.

    It shows that ‘give me the child and I’ll keep the adult’ is really powerful brainwashing.

    the flintstones is not a documentary

  27. #27 Blake Stacey
    March 31, 2010

    Hey, wait a second: how does the Creator of the Universe “flee power”? Yeah, somebody who worked for his Dad (who is also he himself) once offered to give him “all the kingdoms of the world”, i.e., of the world he (or his Dad, who is also he himself) created. But turning down the chance to be Chief Executive hardly counts when you’re already the Alpha and the Omega.

  28. #28 Antiochus Epimanes
    March 31, 2010

    Christians say “Oh, we shun power” exactly as long as they have no chance of actually securing it. The early Church claimed to be inoffensively apolitical and otherworldly until it actually got its claws on the levers
    of Roman power. As soon as it had the ability, the mayhem
    began.

  29. #29 Tulse
    March 31, 2010

    it’s appropriate to separate rhetorically the truly violent (or aspiring violent) from the merely religious.
    Those militia guys, just like Islamic terrorists, really are different from most (religious) people.

    Really? How different, keeping mind such things as the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, the routine sectarian violence in Iraq, the inter-religious violence between Pakistan and India, the Troubles of Northern Ireland, etc. etc. etc. One can say that the religious aren’t violent, but history would argue against that. Indeed, consider how odd the truly pacifist religions, such as the Quakers and Baha’i, are considered by more mainstream society.

    Without objective evidence, saying that the violent aren’t Christian is just an assertion, and one that seems contradicted by history.

  30. #30 jerthebarbarian
    March 31, 2010

    @7:

    Despite appearances, Ratzy is not, in fact, the same guy as Hannibal Lecter.

    No, but he IS Emperor Palpatine.

    Can’t you just picture him saying “And now witness the power of this FULLY OPERATIONAL DEATH STAR”? Possibly in Latin?

  31. #31 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 31, 2010

    Since there ate 30,000+ types of christianity, the easiest thing to do is presume that if someone considers themselves a christian, they are a christian. Anyone attempting to use the “no true christian” defense is a known fraud. After all, which of those 30,000 sects are the true christians? All of them.

  32. #32 dr-rieux
    March 31, 2010

    I think it bears to be added that calling the Gospels’ Jesus a “non-violent hippie” implies a woefully expurgated notion of what those books say. Do the following look like the words of a “non-violent hippie” to you?

    But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
    - Jesus, in Luke 19:27
    I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
    - Jesus, in John 15:6
    But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
    - Jesus, in Matthew 8:10-12
    The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
    - Jesus, in Matthew 13:41-42
    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. … And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.
    - Jesus, in Matthew 25:41, 46
    And that servant [slave], which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
    - Jesus, in Luke 12:47
    And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as [Jesus] sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
    And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
    And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

    - Mark 14:3-7 (italics added)
    And from thence [Jesus] arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
    But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.
    And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.
    And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

    - Mark 7:24-30 (italics added)

    And there’s plenty more freakish raving from the Gospels’ Jesus where the above came from–most of it involving his enemies burning in Hell.

    The notion among modern liberal-minded folk (including, it appears, Richard Dawkins!) that Jesus was a “super nice,” kind, loving gentleman is more than slightly at odds with the Gospels. It’s a little weird; as P.Z. points out, Jesus’ message was in fact a bizarre, nasty one, and honest-to-goodness hippies don’t deserve to be maligned by claiming that that guy was one.

    Now here is a curious thing. It is believed by everybody that while [God] was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous, and cruel; but that when he came down to earth and assumed the name Jesus Christ, he became the opposite of what he was before: that is to say, he became sweet, and gentle, merciful, forgiving, and all harshness disappeared from his nature and a deep and yearning love for his poor human children took its place. Whereas it was as Jesus Christ that he devised hell and proclaimed it!
    Which is to say, that as the meek and gentle Savior he was a thousand billion times crueler than ever he was in the Old Testament — oh, incomparably more atrocious than ever he was when he was at the very worst in those old days!
    Meek and gentle? By and by we will examine this popular sarcasm by the light of the hell which he invented.
    - Mark Twain

  33. #33 Blake Stacey
    March 31, 2010

    history punk (#17):

    Notes that had the Seljuk Turks not aggressively attacked and waylaided the Byzantine Empire in a unrepentant, imperialistic holy war, odds are against Crusades ever occuring.

    Hippie Jesus, as he is typically portrayed, would have counseled “turning the other cheek” and living peacefully under the Seljuks, trusting that the Good Lord would reward penitence, that oppression of the body would cleanse the spirit, etc. Responding to imperialism with military aggression is not the act of a staunch pacifist.

  34. #34 alysonmiers
    March 31, 2010

    Arguing that “Christianity flees power” is a non-answer. The aim of just about any proselytizing religion is to gain temporal power. The obscene wealth concentrated at Vatican City is a feature, not a bug, of the sociological power of theistic faith.

    However, if you honestly believe that Jesus was a real person and the actual son of God, and that God is a real entity that actually cares about how we live, then I suppose you’ll be more inclined to see Christianity as a basically good idea that could have turned out a lot nicer if only it hadn’t been hijacked by a succession of tyrants.

  35. #35 phoenixwoman
    March 31, 2010

    but Urban ll did something no modern European leader seems to be prepared to do: called for the defense of Europe from the invading Muslim hordes.

    For you European Pharyngula readers out there who are wondering what this is all about:

    One of the most cherished beliefs of the American right wing is that Europe and its oh-so-superior, oh-so-white civilization is being overrun and destroyed by violent dark-skinned Allah-chanting Muslim hordes. They tell themselves, at blogs like “Gates of Vienna”, that you all are a lost cause, which gives them the excuse they need to ignore all the ways in which modern Europe kicks American butt (paid vacation time, far faster broadband, cheap-to-free health care, etc.).

  36. #36 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Posted by: AC | March 31, 2010 3:21 PM

    Hopefully I can be forgiven for defending Mr. Sullivan, but I do agree with him that it’s appropriate to separate rhetorically the truly violent (or aspiring violent) from the merely religious.

    It’s appropraite if it’s done honestly. Pretending the truly violent aren’t true Christians is dishonest. They are following Christian tradition just as much as, if not moreso than, Andrew Sullivan.

  37. #37 Big Ugly Jim
    March 31, 2010

    The beauty of the bible is that it’s vague enough that we can pull out whatever fragments we want and call it the true church. From hippies to white supremacists (ironic to me, since Jesus probably never met a honky in his life, unless the Worldwide Church Of God is right) can all have the legitimacy of divine instruction, don’t have to write their own book, and can condemn anyone for believing the parts that they dismiss.

  38. #38 nankay
    March 31, 2010

    To say Christianity flees power is ingenuous at best. According to them, they hold the key to life everlasting. I think the threat of eternal damnation is way more powerful than the threat of death. (well, in believers minds anyway) That is how the RCC still holds on to its power: the threat of excommunication.

  39. #39 DesertHedgehog
    March 31, 2010

    I’ve never understood why people are horrified by the First Crusade. The Fourth, yes. But not the First. Recapturing the great cities of Hellenism and Rome-in-the-East? Supporting Byzantium against the Seljuks? The problem here is…?

  40. #40 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Notes that had the Seljuk Turks not aggressively attacked and waylaided the Byzantine Empire in a unrepentant, imperialistic holy war, odds are against Crusades ever occuring.

    Right, because the Byzantine Empire was an innocent victim, not an equally expansionist empire.

    Regardless, butchering every man, woman, and child in Jerusalem – including the Christians – is not the act of a religion of peace.

  41. #41 MosesZD
    March 31, 2010

    Sullivan’s problem is that he thinks too many of us are stupid enough to not see the horrible religion behind the curtain of his delusions about what religion “should be” or “is.” First, and foremost, Jesus himself said that the Law of Moses was not superseded:

    ?For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.? (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)

    “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17 NAB)

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17 NAB)

    “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16 NAB)

    Clearly Jesus is letting us know that you don’t get to run away from the Old Testament. That you don’t get to change the Law of Moses.

    So let us not pretend that Jesus was a Hippie and it was all “free love” and “pork rinds” like the modern Christian. While (probably fictional, or at least incredibly insignificant in his day) Jesus may have preached some tolerance and a lessening of sticking your damn nose in the business of others,he was still all-in for the Law of Moses.

    So, let’s be clear, despite Sullivan’s recasting of Christianity, all that hate in Leviticus, etc…. It is, in the words of Jesus, still applicable. So, no free pass. No matter how much people like Sullivan wish to pretend otherwise. No matter how much of the bible they choose to ignore because to understand the full bible, and all that it implies, puts one in a very bad position. One that the average person just can’t bring himself to take.

    Unlike, say, Fred Phelps who has no problem with the hate in the bible and, thus, does not take that “hippie Jesus” position. Which is why I say, flat out, that Fred Phelps and his Ministry of Hate and Intolerance are, quite possibly, the most “true to the bible” Christians in America. Phelps and his family hate people just like the bible tells them too… Pure, old-fashion, complete-bible Christianity without the softening of a modern moral position.

    So, when they say “God Hates Fags.” They’re not kidding. God, and Jesus, do. No matter what Sullivan tells himself as he ignores the inconvenient parts of the bible.

    (Nothing like a complete religious education to make one an atheist, I always say. Seeing as that’s exactly why I am… No possible way I could believe in that load of horse crap…)

  42. #42 Insightful Ape
    March 31, 2010

    It is a blatant lie to blame the Seljuks for the crusades. The express goal of the crusades was to reconquer the “holy” land, which had been in the control of the Arabs for centuries before the Seljuks ever appeared on the face of the earth. The crusades were an unprovoked aggression with a religious motive.

  43. #43 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Posted by: DesertHedgehog | March 31, 2010 3:53 PM

    I’ve never understood why people are horrified by the First Crusade. The Fourth, yes. But not the First. Recapturing the great cities of Hellenism and Rome-in-the-East? Supporting Byzantium against the Seljuks? The problem here is…?

    The butchering of civilians for one. More importantly, pretending it was a moral war sanctioned by God and not just two cultures fighting over some territory. The Byzantine empire was no more or less moral than the Seljuks.

  44. #44 Al B. Quirky
    March 31, 2010

    @#35
    Allah-chanting Muslim hordes overrunning London:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nqxP2bpF7I

  45. #45 MosesZD
    March 31, 2010

    Posted by: dr-rieux | March 31, 2010 3:44 PM

    I think it bears to be added that calling the Gospels’ Jesus a “non-violent hippie” implies a woefully expurgated notion of what those books say. Do the following look like the words of a “non-violent hippie” to you?

    Yeah. He’s a nice hippie only if you ignore much, if not most, of what he said.

  46. #46 bacnfusedwiski
    March 31, 2010

    Re: If your Palestinian hippie were here today,..

    Correction: Jesus was a Judean, hence “King of the “Jews” Judea was renamed Syria Palestina after the destruction of the Second Temple, in 72/3 AD/CE after the time of Jesus existed.

    Josephus speaks of the Jewish Wars during Rome’s occupation. Please get your pre-Second Temple history correct.

  47. #47 Blake Stacey
    March 31, 2010

    21. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.

    In this dreadful verse, Reader, we have religious strife and savagery, and their results set before us without cloak or veil. There is no mincing matters here. The introduction of the new evangel into a house and its work are laid before us in vigorous terms. The terrible consequences, the inevitable horrors which attempts to establish a new religion entail are vividly depicted in this frightful passage.

    In ages when religious beliefs had a vitality they nowhere now possess, religious differences meant war to the knife. Rival faiths beheld each other with a deadly hatred. It was felt, and it was declared, that earthly offenses of the worst type were as nothing compared to false doctrine which jeopardized men’s everlasting souls. What then so clear, and what so urgent, as the duty to extirpate an erroneous belief and enforce the true one? An irrefutable position now as ever if there really be a true faith, and we could be certain which of them it is; two conditions men have often satisfied themselves they were certain of, with results such as those Jesus here describes.

    In these days when the great majority of men are either without religious belief altogether, or are indifferent to all beliefs, or make a nominal profession of one of very numerous varieties; when even earnest believers have ceased to believe many things their predecessors of the same name believed, and as a rule teach the better parts of their faith only, it is difficult to realize or to imagine the state of thought and feeling necessary to produce the condition of things pictured in this verse.

    A Plain Commentary on the First Gospel by an Agnostic (1891)

  48. #48 tutone21
    March 31, 2010

    Oddly enough, it was the Christianists that led me to start challenging my faith originally. I would have been more likely to believe some of the ridiculious nonsense if it wasn’t being fed to me by hypocritical assholes. I remember hearing the story of Jesus at the Well when I was a kid and thinking, “That was really nice of Jesus. Talking to someone no one else wants to talk to.” Then I went down to coffee hour and listened to the adults gossip about how other parents raised their children wrong (and these were other families in the congregation) and how it was just pathetic. I thought, “was anyone listening earlier. I can’t be around people like this.”

  49. #49 Andreas Johansson
    March 31, 2010

    phoenixwoman wrote:

    One of the most cherished beliefs of the American right wing is that Europe and its oh-so-superior, oh-so-white civilization is being overrun and destroyed by violent dark-skinned Allah-chanting Muslim hordes. They tell themselves, at blogs like “Gates of Vienna”, that you all are a lost cause, which gives them the excuse they need to ignore all the ways in which modern Europe kicks American butt (paid vacation time, far faster broadband, cheap-to-free health care, etc.).

    Even if that were true, it would still be an absurdist lie to say pope Urban was calling for the defense of Europe against the Muslims.

  50. #50 https://me.yahoo.com/a/2Cpr09BisvAGE8xTLScKqHa9oE8qMtok#e64de
    March 31, 2010

    “And now witness the power of this FULLY OPERATIONAL DEATH STAR”?

    It’s “Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!”

    …sorry. Someone had to say it.

  51. #51 Al B. Quirky
    March 31, 2010

    @#42
    Wrong. See link @#12. The ‘express goal of the crusades’ was:

    For your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George. They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire.

  52. #52 Knockgoats
    March 31, 2010

    Notes that had the Seljuk Turks not aggressively attacked and waylaided the Byzantine Empire in a unrepentant, imperialistic holy war, odds are against Crusades ever occuring. – history punk

    Notes that “history punk” is a fucking historical ignoramus. Crusades were declared against “pagans” in northern and eastern Europe, “heretics” such as the Albigensians, and Muslims in Iberia and north-west Africa. Even the first Crusade was not defensive: the Byzantine Emperor had requested help against the Seljuk invasion of Anatolia: the invasion of the lands to its South was undoubtedly aggressive.

    Urban ll did something no modern European leader seems to be prepared to do: called for the defense of Europe from the invading Muslim hordes. – Al B. Quirky
    Allah-chanting Muslim hordes overrunning London – Al B. Quirky

    Muslims are not “invading Europe” – immigration is only “invasion” to racist scumbags like Al B. Quirky – and of course, most recent immigration to London has been from eastern Europe, notably Poland – do we find Al B. Quirky complaining about “the invading Catholic hordes”?. There is, and should be, no law against chanting for Allah, any more than for any other imaginary friend, and London has not been “overrun” – I know, I was there a few days ago and was not forced to convert to Islam or subjected to Sharia law.

  53. #53 Steve LaBonne
    March 31, 2010

    As #28 already pointed out, Christianity grabbed for power at the very first moment when it was within reach, under Constantine. And has never looked back since.

  54. #54 Gazza
    March 31, 2010

    You are onto something here with the term Christianist. Since pretty much every religion has followers with these views you can simply add “ist” to all of them. Sort of like the ‘War on Terror’, just replace ‘Terror’ your country/religion of choice.

  55. #55 Insightful Ape
    March 31, 2010

    Right Al.
    And so how did the holy warriors stray into the “holy” land?
    Check this under wikipedia entry on 1st crusade: “given that the first crusade was largely concerned with Jerusalem, a city which had not been under Christian dominion for 461 years, as well as the crusader army’s refusal to return to the land under Byzantine control, the status of the first crusade as defensive or aggressive in nature remains controversial both within academias and amongst laymen”.

  56. #56 JeffreyD
    March 31, 2010

    This seems to be one of those moments when the clarification only makes it worse. Teddy Roosevelt once presented his staff with a justification on taking control of Panama and the subsequent canal. Not sure who it was, but one of the staff noted that Teddy had only been accused of seduction while his justification proved he was guilty of rape. Justifications and special pleadings often strike me as the worst kind of evasions, i.e., lies.

    #17 – history punk – Try reading a little history please. There are many books and websites that deal fairly and completely with the Crusades and the whole idea of converting with the sword by both xtians and muslims.

  57. #57 tsg
    March 31, 2010

    Hopefully I can be forgiven for defending Mr. Sullivan, but I do agree with him that it’s appropriate to separate rhetorically the truly violent (or aspiring violent) from the merely religious.

    Those militia guys, just like Islamic terrorists, really are different from most (religious) people.

    It is one thing to differentiate the violent Christians from the non-violent Christians. It is quite another to assert, as Sullivan did in the post that started all this, that the violent ones are not really Christians because they are violent.

  58. #58 MrFire
    March 31, 2010

    All we need are Cimourdain and Hyperon to make this Crusade Apologetics Party complete.

  59. #59 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 31, 2010

    Christianity flees power

    Sullivan must know a completely different group of Christians than I do. Here in the US, a place where Sullivan resides, Christians have gotten quite involved in politics as Christians. There’s folks like Pat Robertson who ran for president in 1988, the church in North Carolina who ousted several members because they voted for John Kerry, and The Family residing on C Street in Washington, DC. Oh yeah, Sullivan, your personal spiritual leader, Pope Palpatine, is trying to get out of testifying in various sexual abuse cases because he’s a Head of State.

    So the facts are against Sullivan’s silly delusion about Christians and power.

  60. #60 Fri
    March 31, 2010

    The Vatican is not a member of UN

  61. #61 JeffreyD
    March 31, 2010

    Ah, I see Knockgroats addressed the history issue while I was writing, and in a much better fashion. (Bows to Knockgroats)

    So, will provide my favourite Glenn Miller piece as my contribution to history –

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar0rnB-Ecf0

  62. #62 coughlanbrianm
    March 31, 2010

    @Knockgoats. I made a video, years ago, addressing this very issue of muslim “invasion”. At the time, the demise of European civilisation was imminent, as it still is. It’s a bit like nuclear fusion, only instead of 30 years away, it’s always about five.

    The video is really rather good. Take a look:-)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tSeonq9lVM

  63. #63 Knockgoats
    March 31, 2010

    I’ve never understood why people are horrified by the First Crusade. The Fourth, yes. – Desert Hedgehog

    Another fucking ignoramus. The Byzantine Emperor was considerably disconcerted by the arrival of full-scale western armies, some members and leaders of which had been fighting the Empire only a few years previously (the Normans of Sicily) – and bands of unfortunate peasants, who had also responded to Urban’s call, without of course having either the equipment or the training to fight. Effectively all of these latter ended up dead or enslaved. On their way to the East, the Crusaders slaughtered thousands of Jews. When they took Jerusalem, they killed practically all the inhabitants (who of course included Jews and Christians). Still, they did kill a lot of Muslims, so to such as you, Cimourdain and Al B. Quirky, I guess that justifies the whole thing.

  64. #64 v.rosenzweig
    March 31, 2010

    Apolitical? So all that stuff about claiming descent from King David is a lie? Along with the entry into Jerusalem near the end of his life?

  65. #65 frog, Inc.
    March 31, 2010

    I merely think that declaring a homeless, apolitical, non-violent hippie in first century Palestine as someone who would bless a twenty-first century terrorist militia in North America is a bit of a stretch.

    All right, Andrew Sullivan is a moron. Homeless? Apolitical? Non-violent? Hippie? Jesus?

    I mean, let’s get real. If Jesus was at all like he was portrayed in the gospels, he was a very political individual willing to use violence to advance his position. You think the moneychangers did the heavy lifting in destroying their places of business? You think that the “Kingdom Of Heaven” is apolitical?

    Or take another work from the early canon — Revelation. If it has anything to do with the movement that existed in the preceding half-century, that movement must have been heavily political, and heavily violent.

    Or just note that the Gospels claim that a Sicarii was among his highest apostles — that’s at least a reference to the possibility of an early alliance with the Zealots, the fathers of political terrorism.

    Or look at the Maccabean flavor of the whole movement — the name of “Jesus”, a reference to the greatest of the Israelite possibly-mythical generals of the possibly-mythical conquest of Canaan, Joshua. The messianic “Savior” as king is a clear reference to a Jewish version of Alexander (fuck, their names are almost perfect translations of each other!)

    Some might be coincidental. But a bare perusal of the period, the gospels, related works, what we know of the politics of the period, and the ostensible crucifixion all point to a very political, and possible violent movement.

    Why did Christianism appear? Because Christianity has always been that way. Just as early Islam was very similar to violent political Islam, Christianity IS Christianism.

    Andrew Sullivan is an ignorant fool.

  66. #66 Antiochus Epimanes
    March 31, 2010

    Very correct, Knockgoats. The Byzantines were just as nasty to their “heretics” and “heathens” as the Catholic nations were, so coming under Seljuk rule was a great relief for many of the Empire’s subjects. When the Byzantines asked for help, they knew saying “come bail out the Christians you consider schismatics” wouldn’t fly in the West; this was, after all, only a half-century after the formal rupture between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. So they sold it as “come liberate our common holy places from the Muslims,” figuring that they could pick up the pieces afterward. Indeed, leaders on the First Crusade were asked to swear temporary fealty to the Byzantine Emperor, and agree to turn their conquests over to him. Very few actually did, but the Byzantines did recover part of Asia Minor as fallout from the First Crusade. Still, considering the havoc that undisciplined crusaders wrought as they passed through, it’s hard to say whether the Byzantines ultimately benefited from the First Crusade. Subsequent ones certainly didn’t do them any good, but all served the additional purpose of getting a bunch of violently brawling nobles out of the Pope’s hair for several years at a time. The Crusades had many motives and many results, hardly any of them pure.

  67. #67 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Posted by: tutone21 | March 31, 2010 4:07 PM

    Oddly enough, it was the Christianists that led me to start challenging my faith originally. I would have been more likely to believe some of the ridiculious nonsense if it wasn’t being fed to me by hypocritical assholes. I remember hearing the story of Jesus at the Well when I was a kid and thinking, “That was really nice of Jesus. Talking to someone no one else wants to talk to.” Then I went down to coffee hour and listened to the adults gossip about how other parents raised their children wrong (and these were other families in the congregation) and how it was just pathetic. I thought, “was anyone listening earlier. I can’t be around people like this.”

    My dad had a similar experience. It involved his Sunday school teacher’s, and his parents’, publicly expressed racism.

  68. #68 Randomfactor
    March 31, 2010

    As others have noted, if Jesus of Nazareth was a real person and not a conglomeration, he did indeed seek power. That’s why the Romans crucified him. Pilate crucified several “messiahs.”

    Jesus was an “insurgent leader,” in today’s terms.

  69. #69 Kel, OM
    March 31, 2010

    Christianity flees power

    So I’m guessing that there is No True ChristianTM since 325

  70. #70 Thebear
    March 31, 2010

    I like to view this things in the words of the peacenick Hebrew hippe himself:

    Do not think that I came to bring peace
    on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man?s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

  71. #71 history punk
    March 31, 2010

    One of the most cherished beliefs of the American right wing is that Europe and its oh-so-superior, oh-so-white civilization is being overrun and destroyed by violent dark-skinned Allah-chanting Muslim hordes

    There’s nothing “oh-so” about the superiority of Western culture. It is superior. We all know it and act accordingly. It’s why even those who knock it like Chomsky, Zinn, or Parenti never leave it except as tourists possessing the full backing of their nation’s diplomatic representation.

    Seriously, if you hate the West so much to the point you believe that’s not really superior or on par with the Islamic world, feel free to find sanctuary elsewhere. However, we all know its not an unfair exchange rate, the difficulty in mastering a new language, or even the paperwork that keeps Western culture haters in the West- it’s the inferiority of everywhere else that keeps them here.

  72. #72 frog, Inc.
    March 31, 2010

    You know, this sounds similar to arguments that Marxism shouldn’t be blamed on Marx.

    On the one hand, Marxism and it’s post-Russian Revolution are quite different from what Marx himself wrote — on the other hand, many of the problems of Soviet Union can be traced back to Marx. He was for violent revolution, as if the revolutions of the 1780′s & 1790′s could be recreated in new nations (that stages of history bullshit). He did have no plan for the post-revolutionary society, leaving it to the New Men — which meant they grabbed pieces of “labor value” without any good idea on how to implement the New Economy. Bakunin was already warning during Marx’s lifetime that Marx and his minions were a danger to the left and mankind, because of their tendency to cabals, to violent intrigue, to grabbing power “in the name of” the people.

    We do know that his response to the suppression of the Paris Commune was that the communards had taken the opportunity to mercilessly crush the reactionaries.

    But you hear from benighted fools that the Lenninists, Trotskyists, Stalinists, etc, were only historical accidents — that they weren’t “True Marxists” but deformers and heretics.

    No one wants to take responsibility for the implications of their ideas, and more so, the methods that underlie and infuse those ideas with political power. The idea was always good — just the poor humans fail the idea. Like Bush failed the neo-cons.

  73. #73 Blake Stacey
    March 31, 2010

    Fri (#60):

    The Holy See has the status of permanent observer state, and they’ve used it to drive their agenda.

  74. #74 Anti_Theist-317
    March 31, 2010

    Posted by: AC | March 31, 2010 3:21 PM

    Hopefully I can be forgiven for defending Mr. Sullivan, but I do agree with him that it’s appropriate to separate rhetorically the truly violent (or aspiring violent) from the merely religious.

    Those militia guys, just like Islamic terrorists, really are different from most (religious) people.
    ———————————————-

    I think god would find favor in the eyes of his people who were willing to carry out his absolute law by any means or extremes necessary.

    As I mentioned in another post Jesus is more compareable to a modern day Capo than a loving hippie. It was his way or fuck off. He made that point extraordinarly clear. Although it is not anyones right to judge others by reading the bible I know what makes one a sinner and how his father, the ‘godfather’ treats 99.8% sinners. He fucks their shit up.

    I am not sure what would happen if I were on the other side of an Ak47 held by one of these militia types and they asked me, “Do you love Jesus Christ?”

    I am guessing someone special in ACs life is theist. I can imagine a different sceaniro if one of his theist butt buddies(possibly his mommy or daddy – awww) asked the same question.
    —————————————–
    Anyhow shit dick? I guess you ignored the entire post? We have a well documented and understood history of Christianity on a global scale. It is one bathed in blood based on upholding the laws of god, not those of man. When god hardened hearts in the bible 99.8% of the time it was not for his followers to find compassion for the sinners. Rather it was so his followers could wipe the scum from the face of the earth.

    *See my opening sentence.

  75. #75 history punk
    March 31, 2010

    Notes that “history punk” is a fucking historical ignoramus. Crusades were declared against “pagans” in northern and eastern Europe, “heretics” such as the Albigensians, and Muslims in Iberia and north-west Africa. Even the first Crusade was not defensive: the Byzantine Emperor had requested help against the Seljuk invasion of Anatolia: the invasion of the lands to its South was undoubtedly aggressive.

    I meant in the Middle East. I should have been clearer.

    However, your response was not how conducts themselves them in public. As I would ask my special needs kids- Do we swear in public? Did you make a good choice when you do so?

    The answer of course is “No, Mr. Punk we do not swear in public and I did not make good choices.”

  76. #76 IslandBrewer
    March 31, 2010

    Blah, blah, blah – everyone is just arguing over semantics.

    I so happen to have the useful ability to be my own lexicographer. So here’s a solution. Let’s just ALL agree that:

    (1) Andrew Sullivan (and a few of his designees) are the only Christians,

    (2) Everybody else who calls themself Christian is a ‘Christianist,’

    (at this point, Mr. Sullivan should be mollified)

    (3) We redefine the word ‘Christian’ to henceforth mean ‘Christianist,’

    (4) Christians such as Mr. Sullivan shall be refered to as ‘True Christians,’ ‘Christian Classic,’ or just ‘Christians’ for short, with the special knowledge that they, and no one else is a real True Chistian, despite the current amended terminology.

    There, now everybody can use the word ‘Christian’ and have it mean just what they want it to mean.

    We can continue to use the words ‘christianic’ and ‘christianish’ and my favorite ‘christianiacal’ (with crazed chuckle afterwards), with their original meanings.

  77. #77 Brownian, OM
    March 31, 2010

    alysonmiers wrote @ #34:

    However, if you honestly believe that Jesus was a real person and the actual son of God, and that God is a real entity that actually cares about how we live, then I suppose you’ll be more inclined to see Christianity as a basically good idea that could have turned out a lot nicer if only it hadn’t been hijacked by a succession of tyrants.

    In fact, it’s a necessary apologetic for most. How many religious moderates (or theists on their way to agnosticism or atheism) have uttered some variant of “spirituality isn’t bad; it’s organised religion that corrupts. (I know I did.) There are only so many ways of reconciling the belief in belief with the reality of believers without positing some corrupting taint that perverts the true message of Christianity (Islam, Buddhism, etc.)

    some sort of punk wrote @ #71:

    Seriously, if you hate the West so much to the point you believe that’s not really superior or on par with the Islamic world, feel free to find sanctuary elsewhere.

    Really? That’s your defense of ethnocentrism? “If you don’t like it, leave?” That’s your understanding of human culture?

    What a fucking dumbass.

  78. #78 Pierce R. Butler
    March 31, 2010

    Big Ugly Jim @ # 37: … Jesus probably never met a honky in his life…

    You must be one of them really strict northern-Euro type racialists. Most of the people I’ve met (and in the southeastern US, that’s plenty) who care much about who’s “white” and who’s not are willing to allow Italians and usually even Greeks into the paleface tribe – and Palestine was (rather literally) overrun with both 20 centuries ago.

    Or is this just your slyly subtle way of declaring yourself in the Jesus-never-existed school?

  79. #79 frog, Inc.
    March 31, 2010

    history punk: Seriously, if you hate the West so much to the point you believe that’s not really superior or on par with the Islamic world, feel free to find sanctuary elsewhere.

    Ah, the sanctuary of the jingoist, the fool, the racist:

    Love it or leave it

    How can you respond to that, other than to say Shut the Fuck Up?

  80. #80 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 31, 2010

    history punk

    As I would ask my special needs kids- Do we swear in public? Did you make a good choice when you do so?

    Hey, asshole, do you know what a “concern troll” is?

  81. #81 Tulse
    March 31, 2010

    As I would ask my special needs kids- Do we swear in public?

    We fucking do when confronted with racist ignorance.

    And I presume you don’t conduct your entire life on the basis of what you want your special needs kids to do.

  82. #82 Big Ugly Jim
    March 31, 2010

    Pierce R. Butler @ #78:

    You must be one of them really strict northern-Euro type racialists. Most of the people I’ve met (and in the southeastern US, that’s plenty) who care much about who’s “white” and who’s not are willing to allow Italians and usually even Greeks into the paleface tribe – and Palestine was (rather literally) overrun with both 20 centuries ago.

    Or is this just your slyly subtle way of declaring yourself in the Jesus-never-existed school?

    Not a racialist at all. I think race is silly. I just find it funny that those white supremacist groups who use the bible to justify their doctrine ignore the fact that Jesus lived in a place where there were no white people. And it’s even more hilarious to me to hear about the theory of British Isrealism purported by groups like the Worldwide Church Of God.

    I don’t think it matters if Jesus existed or not. I have to assume he did, though I also have to assume the stories of his life and deeds are fairy tales.

    Whatever color Jesus was, it doesn’t make a lick of difference. Whatever color I am doesn’t make a lick of difference. In the words of the brilliant song by NoFX, “so go ahead and label me an asshole cuz I can / accept responsibility for what I’ve done, but not for what I am / Don’t call me white”. Interesting to see you automatically assume I’m a racist. ;)

  83. #83 CJO
    March 31, 2010

    If Jesus was at all like he was portrayed in the gospels, he was a very political individual willing to use violence to advance his position. You think the moneychangers did the heavy lifting in destroying their places of business? You think that the “Kingdom Of Heaven” is apolitical?

    The question has to be which Jesus? and which Gospel? (I have severe and well-founded doubts as to the existence of any such historical personage, first of all, so I’m much more concerned with the various portrayals.)

    In our first narrative source, Mark, it’s not so much that Jesus is portrayed as apolitical, it’s the curious politics the author of the work wants his contemporaries to adopt as a concommitant of belonging to the kingdom of god, which I would describe as “non-aligned radicalism”. In an ancient context I think it is reasonable to view this as an apolitical stance, as long as we understand “political” to be about acquiring temporal power via the traditional channels of militarism in the name of a “restored” temple-state and client-patron mediated advancement in Greco-Roman elite circles.

    The concept of “the kingdom of god” in Mark is, in fact, apolitical, to the extent that it rejects all traditional modes of acquiring power as “the ways of men” ultimately opposed to “the way of god” which is synonymous with “the way of the cross.” Various metaphors of “the way” pervade the work, and “the way” leads always away from temporal power, toward an ethic of sacrifice and servanthood. The cleansing of the temple, likewise, is a symbolic portrayal of ultimate rejection, not, as has been supposed, a call to reform. The author of Mark rejects the traditional temple state just as much as the Roman occupiers, thus “non-aligned radicalism.” Strangely, after much study of the text, I find in it as close to a humanist ethos as there is to be found anywhere in ancient narrative literature.

    In short, forget “Jesus.” The author of Mark, along with the implied audience for which it was intended, may have been the only non-Christianist Christians in history, to use the terms du post; certainly the work was being suppressed, misunderstood and/or deliberately coopted within decades of its composition.

  84. #84 Brownian, OM
    March 31, 2010

    Christian Classic

    Rock ‘n’ roll, the ‘Christian’ wars/
    I can’t take it any more!

  85. #85 JeffreyD
    March 31, 2010

    And on the introduction of “love it or leave it” the level of discourse has dropped below what will keep me awake.

    Hmm, how about “love it or change it?”

    Night all

  86. #86 frog, Inc.
    March 31, 2010

    Big Ugly Jim: Not a racialist at all. I think race is silly. I just find it funny that those white supremacist groups who use the bible to justify their doctrine ignore the fact that Jesus lived in a place where there were no white people.

    You’re missing the point. Judea was part of the Roman Empire — not some lost kingdom in the S. Pacific, but a highly integrated part of a great multi-racial empire.

    Hellenism — aka, the integration of Judea into the Roman Empire — was THE burning issue of the day, and had been for 4 centuries (read Maccabees). There were plenty of white people, black people, brown people, Arabs, etc, in Judea in the first century.

    The only reason that Christianity exists is BECAUSE it Judea was a major intersection point of Rome with the empires to the east and south.

    Jesus might have been black, or brown, or blond with blue eyes — it’s impossible to know. If you know any Arab families, you can see this high heterogeneity of the region — African looking brothers, Asian looking brothers, European looking brothers all in one family. Like Filipinos — a big genetic stew, and you never know what you’ll get.

  87. #87 Travis
    March 31, 2010

    @CJO, #83

    Your comment “The question has to be which Jesus?” made me think of the podcasts by Philip Harland from York university. I find them to be quite interesting and he has a number about the historical Jesus, and about what we really can know about Jesus. His podcasts about the gospels and their portraits of Jesus is quite interesting as well.

    Religons of the ancient Mediterranean

  88. #88 MosesZD
    March 31, 2010

    Posted by: history punk | March 31, 2010 5:24 PM

    There’s nothing “oh-so” about the superiority of Western culture. It is superior. We all know it and act accordingly. It’s why even those who knock it like Chomsky, Zinn, or Parenti never leave it except as tourists possessing the full backing of their nation’s diplomatic representation.

    You confuse “accident” with “act” and confuse invention and technology (part of accident btw) with “culture.” We’ve certainly invented a lot of stuff. No doubt there. But that’s technology, not culture and is a product of a lot of fortunate accidents more than any “superior white culture.”

    You, accidentally being “western” think your culture is “superior.” Regardless of any objective understanding of how your culture has acted towards others.

    Considering that we, in the West, over-threw the democratically elected governments of Iran and Iraq, subjecting them to decades of totalitarian rule because we wanted cheap oil…

    Considering that we, in the West, have supported some of the worlds worst tyrants in the Americas so we could have cheap bananas… In Africa for cheap metals… In South East Asia for cheap oil…

    Considering we have, in the West, supported a list of some of the worst dictators and human rights abusers known to mankind (though with some we eventually withdrew our support if they became non-compliant or inconvenient)…

    And I’ll pass on destruction, slavery, genocide, the addicting of China by the British opium traders… I think it would take hundreds upon hundreds of column inches to list a thousandth of the total fucking bullshit we’ve done with our guns in the exploitation and destruction of many civilizations, cultures and countries….

    So, let’s be clear, we had better guns and we used them. Our ‘culture,’ as evidenced by our behaviors towards others, is hardly “superior.”

    More violent. More warlike. Yep. Give you that. But superior? Only if you think the application of force against other makes you “superior” as humans…

  89. #89 Big Ugly Jim
    March 31, 2010

    frog, Inc: Okay, that’s true. Another of those fine things we assume because we never questioned. :) I hadn’t considered the fact that Jerusalem would be a strongly multicultural environment. I was brought up with parents who taught me that Jesus was probably middle eastern given the location he lived at, but yes, there’s no reason to assume he was.

    That’s the good thing about being a skeptic. Sometimes we’re confronted by our own wrong-thinking and our response is to say “Whoops, gotta fix that” rather than the faithful response of “I’M NOT LISTENING I’M NOT LISTENING”.

  90. #90 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 31, 2010

    history punk:

    Seriously, if you hate the West so much to the point you believe that’s not really superior or on par with the Islamic world, feel free to find sanctuary elsewhere.

    And you turn out to have a bumper sticker philosophy. No surprise there. You couldn’t get much more shallow.

    However, your response was not how conducts themselves them in public. As I would ask my special needs kids- Do we swear in public? Did you make a good choice when you do so?

    Oh my. Oh dear! Have you broken your string of pearls yet? Have a care, over clutching can result in a loss of pearls, leading you to a potentially lethal attack of the vapors. You’re already spreading a load of gas around as it is, as you are incapable of adequately defending your increasingly idiotic ideas. So take a fucking pill and get over yourself.

  91. #91 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    indeed, there is no such thing as leaving western culture; there’s only going from the parts of the world it benefits (relatively speaking) to the parts of the world it exploits and suppresses. but i’m sure that some people actually view such aggression and violent dominance as evidence for western superiority.

  92. #92 Brownian, OM
    March 31, 2010

    Like Filipinos — a big genetic stew, and you never know what you’ll get.

    Hmm, there’s something off-putting about conceptualizing Filipinos as boxes of assorted chocolate. Now I’m afraid every seventh (±2) one I meet will turn out to be filled with that repugnant orange creme.

  93. #93 shaxanth27
    March 31, 2010

    @Zeno #13:
    Is that the Pope washing his hands?

  94. #94 frog, Inc.
    March 31, 2010

    CJO: The author of Mark, along with the implied audience for which it was intended, may have been the only non-Christianist Christians in history, to use the terms du post; certainly the work was being suppressed, misunderstood and/or deliberately coopted within decades of its composition.

    Yes — there were obviously multiple factions, separated by time and space. The Paulists are different from the Markans are different from the Johaninnes, and so forth.

    But I’d argue that the Markans are probably the most ideologically different from the earliest Christians (The Jesus People, whatever that means).

    They, more than anyone, are writing a novel ideology to cope with the end of the Temple state. They are adapting to a non-temple world by rejecting the temple in toto, and thereby absorbing the anti-temple cults of the “jewish” world, while giving the more “jewish” members are justification for moving away from both the temple structure and the rabbinic structures that were appearing.

    So, they were “non-Christianist” because they were the most “un-Christian” of the Christians, almost as much as the Pauline faction. Maybe they were a cross-over, syncretizing the Paulines with the Apostle churches? I have no damn idea.

    I’m just pretty damn sure that a Markan theology makes no sense until after the fall of the Temple — a way to reject Temple Judaism, Rabbinic Judaism and Assimilation Judaism ala Josephus simultaneously, essentially a rejection of the “liberation struggle” ethos that must have pervaded earlier Christianity.

  95. #95 frog, Inc.
    March 31, 2010

    Brownian: Now I’m afraid every seventh (±2) one I meet will turn out to be filled with that repugnant orange creme.

    Well, 1 out of every 5 Canadians is, so I’d go for Filipinos. On the other hand, only 1 of every 13 Mexicans is filled with orange creme — but 1 out of 3 is filled with habañero pepper chocolate creme, so it’s a question of taste. But there’s something missing…

  96. #96 MrFire
    March 31, 2010

    There’s nothing “oh-so” about the superiority of Western culture. It is superior.

    This could only be meaningful if you think it is an inherent and unchanging quality of Western culture. I contend that it is not, and that ‘Western culture’ stood on the shoulders of its predecessors, got lucky breaks, and flourished more because of universal human qualities that exist regardless of, and often in spite of, the given civilisation.

    To put it another way: In a parallel universe, I can imagine al-historypunk saying the same thing of a reformed and highly liberal Islamic society, whilst angry, disenfranchised ‘Western hordes’ lurk at the fringes.

  97. #97 Brownian, OM
    March 31, 2010

    But there’s something missing…

    Shredded coconut? I hope it’s not shredded coconut. I resolutely avoid the Danish on the suspicion that they may be 90% shredded coconut.

  98. #98 the_manxome_foe#a0503
    March 31, 2010

    he doesn’t like the flavour of Jesus they have in their head.

    Well, we already have Sweet Jesus.

    How about Umami Jesus?

  99. #99 Becky
    March 31, 2010

    Sweet fucking zombie jebus that’s one scary looking old guy.
    PZ don’t ever post a picture of him ever ever again.
    I cannot squeegee the image off my retinas, it burns it burns.

  100. #100 RickR
    March 31, 2010

    Shredded coconut? I hope it’s not shredded coconut. I resolutely avoid the Danish on the suspicion that they may be 90% shredded coconut.

    Toasted, shredded coconut.

    *shudders*

  101. #101 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 31, 2010

    frog, inc:

    But there’s something missing…

    Crunchy Frog!

  102. #102 WowbaggerOM
    March 31, 2010

    The conflicting messages in the ‘teachings’ attributed to Jesus does kind of indicate that it’s the product of multiple authors rather than the collected wisdom of one guy.

    Well, unless that one guy was a moody asshole. Then again, look at his father – talk about inconsistent!

    Jokes aside, I’m guessing that the politics of the time when they were deciding on what was or wasn’t made canon meant that the guys who wanted aggressive adherence with serious consequences for disobedience couldn’t completely exclude the peace and love brigade from putting in their two cents.

    Either way, it’s a good indication there was no perfect inspiring deity involved – since, if there had been, unambiguity would be a given.

  103. #103 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 31, 2010

    the_manxome_foe#a0503:

    How about Umami Jesus?

    Mmmm, no. I’d rather go with Crispy Fried Christ onna stick.

  104. #104 Owlmirror
    March 31, 2010

    Christianity flees power as Jesus did; Christianism seeks it above everything else. And there is nothing more powerful than killing others, except for torturing them.

    *cough*Inquisition*cough*

    Say!

    What was Card. Ratzinger in charge of before being elected Pope?
    …Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith…
    formerly known as the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith…
    formerly known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office…
    formerly known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition

    Well. Fancy that!

  105. #105 Owlmirror
    March 31, 2010

    (Do I need to copy-paste Pilt’s assertions that it is right and proper for the Church to kill the people it doesn’t like?)

  106. #106 Pierce R. Butler
    March 31, 2010

    Big Ugly Jim @ # 82: … Jesus lived in a place where there were no white people.

    By which you imply that Italians (“Romans” in the contemporary jargon) and Greeks are not whatever you mean by “white”. Unless you somehow think that neither were present in the Palestine of the reign of Augustus, which not even poor History Punk is uninformed enough to claim.

    The rest of what I said is just riffing off how artificial and arbitrary the meaning of “white” is, depending on who’s talking. Most racists I’ve met say Hispanics are not white, except possibly those from Iberia; the US Census Bureau does classify them that way (and Arabs & Turks too, sfaict).

  107. #107 Dianne
    March 31, 2010

    And there is nothing more powerful than killing others, except for torturing them.

    Side issue, but what utter nonsense. Any idiot can kill a person: Just take a rock and bash head. No brains and very little power required. Saving someone’s life, now that’s power. Making a discovery that will go on saving people’s lives after you’re dead, that’s REAL power. Killing is just what idiots who can’t manage anything constructive do.

  108. #108 ckitching
    March 31, 2010

    Would his homeless, apolitical, non-violent hippie bless this man, this Pontifex Maximus, this Goldfather?

    Between that phrase and the picture right below it, I couldn’t help but remember Austin Powers 3.

    The Goldfather: “I love GOOOOOOOLD!”

  109. #109 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Because I can, I’m going to rephrase my analogy from the other thread.

    One can make a distinction between nice Deadheads and inconsiderate Deadheads. Some of us nice Deadheads even think it’s an important distinction. We also think the scene would be a lot better if all the Deadheads were nice like us.

    But it would be the height of dishonesty to make this distinction by asserting that the inconsiderate Deadheads are not really Deadheads. Inconsiderate behavior has been a significant part of the scene since at least 1969.

  110. #110 Dianne
    March 31, 2010

    By which you imply that Italians (“Romans” in the contemporary jargon) and Greeks are not whatever you mean by “white”. Unless you somehow think that neither were present in the Palestine of the reign of Augustus

    Besides that, what about the northern European Roman colonies? I expect that by Augustus’ era there were British, German, and French (sorry, don’t know the Roman era names for these areas except for Gall) soldiers stationed here and there around the empire including Palestine?

  111. #111 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Dianne – I had a political science professor who said that the threat of force was power, but the use of force was a failure of power. If you get someone to do what you want by threatening them, that’s power. If you kill them, you haven’t exactly gotten them to do what you want.

  112. #112 Big Ugly Jim
    March 31, 2010

    Pierce R. Butler @ #106

    As I said later on, it had never occurred to me that Italians and Greeks would have been present. Misconception on my behalf, one of those things we’re told as kids that stay with us until someone says something that makes you go “Damnit, now I’m wrong.” Yeah, that’s ignorance and I fess up to it.

    Still, I’m not a racist, nor any of the alternative terms they use (lately the nazis where I live have been calling themselves “civil rights activists”). I consider the entire question of race absolutely arbitrary. My race wasn’t a decision I made at any point, it’s just another adjective that applies to me. And there are many.

  113. #113 Brownian, OM
    March 31, 2010

    Dianne – I had a political science professor who said that the threat of force was power, but the use of force was a failure of power. If you get someone to do what you want by threatening them, that’s power. If you kill them, you haven’t exactly gotten them to do what you want.

    You were taught by Clausewitz? “War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfil our will.”

  114. #114 frog, Inc.
    March 31, 2010

    Dianne: Making a discovery that will go on saving people’s lives after you’re dead, that’s REAL power

    No, inventing new maths is REAL power — it transforms everyone for millenium. Euclid was more important than Alexander. Klein was more important than Bismarcks. They produced the ideas that made Rome and the Modern World possible, for good and for ill.

    I’d put it mathematicians, scientists, engineers, generals and then politicians. The least practical is the most powerful — the closest to practice actually has the least influence. Obama, Bush, Putin, etc, are working within the world invented by Klein, Russell, Godel and Turing, (among many others). And of course Einstein, and Bohr. And Watson and Crick. And so on, down to the petty lawyers that think they rule, trapped in the world of rockets and computers they barely understand.

  115. #115 mothra
    March 31, 2010

    @30

    Quod iam testis vox illae COPIOSE OPERATIONAL NEX Astrum”

  116. #116 frog, Inc.
    March 31, 2010

    1 in 11 Vietnamese are filled with crispy fried frog — that’s what I was missing.

    And apologies to Poincare, who taught us that there are limits to knowledge and maths, and therefore that the Enlightenment program was missing a major issue.

  117. #117 Brownian, OM
    March 31, 2010

    No, inventing new maths is REAL power

    My nerd fu is stronger than your nerd fu.

  118. #118 CJO
    March 31, 2010

    Besides that, what about the northern European Roman colonies? I expect that by Augustus’ era there were British, German, and French (sorry, don’t know the Roman era names for these areas except for Gall) soldiers stationed here and there around the empire including Palestine?

    The legions employed in the Jewish War by Vespasian and Titus were all Roman or Eastern Mediterranean, basically Syrian and Asian (Turkey) and based in Antioch. But I don’t know what, if any, auxiliaries were used in that conflict. There was an Imperial Guard in Rome in the 1st c. CE, comprised of German auxiliaries. And by the time of Trajan, British auxilia were stationed on the German frontier.

    I doubt there were Gauls or Germans in Judaea c.30s CE.

  119. #119 amphiox
    March 31, 2010

    More violent. More warlike. Yep. Give you that.

    Erm, that’s a tough one to justify, and not even in the spirit of the original post.

    Equally violent and warlike, but with more effective kit, perhaps, is more fair.

  120. #120 Pierce R. Butler
    March 31, 2010

    Dianne @ # 110 – Yes, there probably were Europeans from all over (well, maybe not too many from far northeastern Europe) in the Roman Empire’s army, including those stationed in Palestine.

    Big Ugly Jim @ # 112 – my apologies for insinuating that you were a racist, among the possibilities for your implied meaning of who might or might not be deemed “white” in this historical context. I agree with you – basically, it don’t mean squat.

  121. #121 frog, Inc.
    March 31, 2010

    Brownian: My nerd fu is stronger than your nerd fu.

    Well, I sure hope so. It sure would suck if getting out of this damn hole would be up to me. I’d be investing short then.

    I’m a damn biologist. We depend on actual smart people giving us tools. Fuck, what would we have done without Brownian motion, without Planck, without Boltzmann? We’d still be counting legs on bugs (and some of us still do). 90% of what we know in biology comes from a handful of physicists in the early 20th century. I’m hoping we can start learning some math & physics from mid-century — biology would definitely kick ass if we caught up to that point.

  122. #122 kiyaroru
    March 31, 2010

    Going back to #2 I think that Yesua ben Yosef (sp) (Josh to his friends) was definately not a Christian. He was The Christ. Could he forsake his family and follow himself?

  123. #123 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    March 31, 2010

    Christianity flees power

    Sullivan talks about abstract concepts while PZ talks about concrete behavior. I know which one I find more compelling.

  124. #124 Brownian, OM
    March 31, 2010

    Oh, I wasn’t criticising your science knowledge frog, Inc., just making fun of the one-uppersonship nature of your comment.

    And there’s nothing wrong with counting critters.

  125. #125 Dianne
    March 31, 2010

    No, inventing new maths is REAL power — it transforms everyone for millenium.

    That too. The bottom line is that knowledge is power. Only adding to knowledge increases power and value in the world. Politicians and war leaders may alter the distribution of wealth and power but they don’t create it. Even in the limited field of war, engineers are more important than generals in modern warfare. Though so are journalists and even entertainers so not sure where this argument is going exactly.

  126. #126 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmVT1LBhwmO9ej9LNg7a5e9d-AVJ8ezfmE
    March 31, 2010

    More violent. More warlike. Yep. Give you that. But superior? Only if you think the application of force against other makes you “superior” as humans…

    Well, that’s one nice thing about christianity — European culture evolved a great deal of expertise in war-fighting as a consequence of the conflict between various christian factions. (I know, most of the underlying causes of Europe’s wars were not religious, it was just the public-facing reason)

    If application of force isn’t the measure of “superiority” I’m not sure what might be a candidate. Societies that weren’t very good at applying force aren’t generally even around, so who’s going to speak up for their superiority? “Sure, they had nice art-work and cuisine but, well, shame they’re all gone now…” ?

  127. #127 the_manxome_foe#a0503
    March 31, 2010

    Tulse at #29 – religion is not the only, or in some cases even the major cause of “sectarian” violence. It’s general “us against them” and religion is often simply a convenient point of division. Particularly where the two religions in question make a big point about not intermarrying.

    My grandfather was an avowed athiest for most of his life. However, his stated dying regret (after living 60 or so years in Australia) was that he couldn’t wheel himself and his oxygen tank into a British officers’ mess tent, detonate the tank and take as many of them out with him as possible. That was in about 1980, and things were fairly bad in Belfast then but still…

    He may well have still been catholic when he left Ireland as a young man, but for most of his life his hatred of the English had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with his feelings oppression in general. Not to mention habit.

    To me, as someone a couple of generations and half a planet removed from all that, it just looks like an horrific blood feud and I’m ashamed that my grandfather, who was otherwise a very intelligent man, was so caught up in it.

  128. #128 Simon (selling blessings wholesale)
    March 31, 2010

    And there is nothing more powerful than killing others, except for torturing them.

    Errrm… having someone acquiesce to your will is a much clearer demonstration of power. Like when the Pope tells people how to live their lives, or when a church demands tithes, or when a religious group creates laws banning homosexual sex and abortion. That’s power, you shallow-pated dupe.

  129. #129 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    If application of force isn’t the measure of “superiority” I’m not sure what might be a candidate.

    Wow, seriously? Force, artwork, and cuisine – that’s all you can come up with as evaluative measures? Think you could try a little harder?

  130. #130 Jason Failes
    March 31, 2010

    That whole omnipotent-god thing certainly throws a wrench in the works, since he must have known exactly what nasty effects these teachings would have in the world.

    I’m so sick of the No True Christian defense. It’s like if someone claimed that a new medication worked, except in the people actually taking it.

  131. #131 Aquaria
    March 31, 2010

    It’s really sad when a man doesn’t understand that it’s the church he goes to that is the source of the self-loathing that just drips from every word he types.

  132. #132 Ian
    March 31, 2010

    @30:

    Testis exitosus vis illae copiose hostilis quod muneris pugna constituo!

  133. #133 Dianne
    March 31, 2010

    I had a political science professor who said that the threat of force was power, but the use of force was a failure of power. If you get someone to do what you want by threatening them, that’s power

    Force someone to do something with a threat and they’ll do it…until your threat is no longer realistic or applicable. Convince someone to do something and they’ll do it forever (or until a better argument comes along) and try to convince others to do it too. Thus, a good debater is more powerful than a good fighter. (In short, the cliche is right: the pen is mightier than the sword.)

  134. #134 Dianne
    March 31, 2010

    It’s like if someone claimed that a new medication worked, except in the people actually taking it.

    Or maybe like claiming that a medication is 100% side effect free…except in those taking it?

  135. #135 phoenixwoman
    March 31, 2010

    Moses @ 88: Thank you! You saved me twenty minutes of typing. About the only thing I’d add is that I wonder why historypunk utterly avoided the main thrust of my comment, which was to seriously doubt that Evil Mooslim Hordes were overrunning Europe, and instead get into a cultural pissing match he was bound to lose.

    Oh, and for those who think better weapons automatically make for superior cultures: Then you must hold that the Huns, with their mastery of the composite bow and mounted archery, must have been the cultural superiors of the Romans.

  136. #136 Stardrake
    March 31, 2010

    Now lemme get this straight…

    Are we talking about the Judean People’s Front, the Judean Popular Front, or the People’s Front of Judea?

    Splitters, all…

  137. #137 DLC
    March 31, 2010

    Sorry, Mr S. but The nut-bags in Michigan fall under the Genus Christianae Lunaticiae.

    (all due apologies for butchering the Latin)

  138. #138 Shplane
    April 1, 2010

    “For that matter, the weird theology that the old hippie espoused would be a ghastly basis for a world, and any culture in which Jesus would be comfortable would be a nightmare for the rest of us.”

    This right here.

    The Jesus portrayed in the Bible was a cruel bastard and an absolute lunatic. People who think that Jesus was some sort of peace loving hippy haven’t actually read the filth he’s supposed to have spewed.

    If Jesus was around yammering on about killing misbehaving children (Matt 15:4) and burning people for eternity and whatnot, the only people that wouldn’t hate him would be Ann Coulter’s fanbase.

  139. #139 cory.albrecht.name
    April 1, 2010

    …and any culture in which Jesus would be comfortable would be a nightmare for the rest of us.

    What’s so horrible about “Love your neighbour as yourself”? I’d think that the world would be a far better place if everybody lived according that sentiment, whether they were religious or not.

  140. #140 augustine771
    April 1, 2010

    “What’s so horrible about “Love your neighbour as yourself”? I’d think that the world would be a far better place if everybody lived according that sentiment, whether they were religious or not.”

    Theres nothing horrible about it, some people i won’t name names hate it because it binds us to a moral law and mr meyers doesn’t want that

  141. #141 Shplane
    April 1, 2010

    #139

    Except that’s far from the only thing that is attributed to Jebus.

    Seriously, read the Bible, or at least some of the comments here. There are lots of horrible, nasty things that Jesus supposedly said. Arguably more nasty horrible things than good things.

  142. #142 WowbaggerOM
    April 1, 2010

    Let’s not forget that with Jesus around there wouldn’t be any fig trees, ’cause the miserable bastard would have gone around smiting them all for not bearing fruit out of season.

  143. #143 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 1, 2010

    cory:

    What’s so horrible about “Love your neighbour as yourself”? I’d think that the world would be a far better place if everybody lived according that sentiment, whether they were religious or not.

    Haven’t read the bible, have ya? Whether or not Jesus actually existed (there isn’t much evidence at all), going by the bible, the man had serious mood swings. An unstable character, to say the least.

    What do you have against “the golden rule”? That’s not biblically based, despite what christians may claim. It was a well known ethic in Indian, Chinese, Greek and Egyptian societies. No Jesus needed.

  144. #144 ckitching
    April 1, 2010

    Theres nothing horrible about it, some people i won’t name names hate it because it binds us to a moral law and mr meyers doesn’t want that

    One day, one of these concerned Christians is gonna get PZ’s name right. Just apparently not today.

  145. #145 Owlmirror
    April 1, 2010

    Theres nothing horrible about it, some people i won’t name names hate it because it binds us to a moral law and mr meyers doesn’t want that

    It’s perfectly obvious that few if any Christians are interested in being bound by moral law, and usually utterly reject morality while claiming to be moral.

    Or in other words, they are mostly liars and hypocrites, like you.

    See you in Hell!

  146. #146 raven
    April 1, 2010

    fundie xian moron:

    Theres nothing horrible about it, some people i won’t name names hate it because it binds us to a moral law and mr meyers doesn’t want that

    jesus Luke 12:47:
    The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.”

    jesus to the Jews John 8

    for I proceeded and came forth from God;
    I did not come forth of my own accord,
    but he himself sent me.
    Why don’t you understand what I’m saying?
    It is because you are unable to hear my word.
    You are of your father the devil
    and it is the desires of your father
    that you wish to do.
    From the beginning he was a murderer
    and had nothing to do with the truth
    because the truth is not in him.
    When he speaks lies,
    he draws them from his own nature,
    because he is a liar and the father of lies.”

    It is a bit more complicated than the fundie troll claims. PZ Myers probably doesn’t want to follow the orders of jesus to hate Jews and beat his slaves.

    The jesus of the NT was a mixture of progressive values and retrograde savagery.

  147. #147 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 1, 2010

    Someday, they’ll figure out that Atheists have ethics and morals too, and that w’ere not mad about ‘someone trying to make us live morally’ or whatever.

    …Nah, probably not.

  148. #148 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 1, 2010

    Theres nothing horrible about it, some people i won’t name names hate it because it binds us to a moral law and mr meyers doesn’t want that

    Oy. That would be Mr. Myers. Try to get it right. It’s a serious effort and I realize it taxes all your skills, but try. Also, it should be There’s and you have a shift key – use it.

    The bible is not a book to look to if you’re looking for morals. There’s an incredible amount of immorality and psychopathy in the bible. As for law, no. I live by the actual law of the country I live in; bizarre laws which contradict themselves constantly from the bronze age? I don’t think so.

    So, you’d be another one who hasn’t actually read the bible. Amazing the amount of christians who haven’t.

  149. #149 Tim Harris
    April 1, 2010

    Another thing that hasn’t been commented on is the extraordinary naivetie on Sullivan’s part that allows him to detach Jesus Christ from the historical phenomenon of Christianity. Religions don’t occur in some sort of historical void. I recall him writing some time ago about the extraordinary spread of Christianity as if that had happened simply because all sorts of individuals from all sorts of backgrounds had been attracted in some mysterious way and on an individual basis by the figure of Christ, and as if Christianity did not spread because of the political support it won in the Roman Empire (and elsewhere) and the political power that accrued to it. A religion is a complex institution, with both good and bad aspects, and you simply cannot reduce Christianity to some purely private and individual relationship with its founder, and deny its public nature. But this is what so many Christians try to do, and people like Sullivan and E.D. Kain are good examples of this. They seem to be pathetically oblivious to the constant meddling of various churches in matters of public morality, whether for good or for ill, and blinded by their fond belief in the essential privacy of belief and the essential harmlessness of Christianity.

  150. #150 btj
    April 1, 2010

    Best evidence I’ve seen recently that there is no difference between saying “God thinks” and saying “I think.” Sullivan and other liberal believers have cherry-picked and re-interpreted their religion into something that they would like it to be, and they dismiss others because they “just aren’t doing it right.”

  151. #151 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 1, 2010

    it binds us to a moral law

    Obviously you don’t include yourself in this “us”, since you went and broke that law in your post by being an insulting liar.

  152. #152 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 1, 2010

    Oy. That would be Mr. Myers.

    And if he’s going to use an honorific, it should be “Dr. Myers”.

  153. #153 MrFire
    April 1, 2010

    Theres nothing horrible about it, some people i won’t name names hate it because it binds us to a moral law and mr meyers doesn’t want that

    I realize that ‘mr meyers’ isn’t actually his name, but face it, you just named the name in the same sentence where you said you wouldn’t name the name.

  154. #154 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 1, 2010

    Theres nothing horrible about it, some people i won’t name names hate it because it binds us to a moral law and mr meyers doesn’t want that

    Idjit, it is Dr. Myers. Since you can’t get his name and title right, very little of what else you say is cogent. What a fuckwit loser.

    By the way godbot delusional fool, evolutionary theory provides a basis for using the golden rule to maintain tribal cohesiveness. It dates to much earlier than your fictional babble, and doesn’t need your imaginary deity to explain it. Failure all around. No cogency here.

  155. #155 James Sweet
    April 1, 2010

    Heh, one of my co-workers considers himself a “conservative Christian” even though his opinions fall squarely in the moderate-to-liberal side pretty much across the board. (The closest he comes is an abortion, where he is very reluctantly pro-choice, but hates pro-choice groups. It’s interesting to watch the conflict between a mind that is clear enough to understand that you can’t legislate that kind of thing, and yet clouded enough by religion that he just can’t bring himself to call himself pro-choice)

    Anyway, the logic is basically the same as Sullivan’s: From what we know, the original Christian church (prior to Constantine) tended to have values that we would consider hard Left today, so if you define “conservative” as “doing it the old way”, then he has a point.

    To be honest, I almost feel you’re picking on Sullivan a bit more than he deserves here. It is fair to point out that “Christianist” (as he calls it) values are pretty much the opposite of the positive values espoused in the New Testament (and for that matter they don’t really line up well with the many negative values espoused in the NT, either, except maybe the antisemitism); and hell, it might actually do a little bit of good if it gets Xian theists to become more moderate. I suppose you’re right to call him out on it… but in fairness, this is definitely one of the less stupid things Sullivan has said about religion.

    Meh… Just sayin’, I think Sullivan has a point. But PZ is also right, of course. Carry on. :)

  156. #156 Antiochus Epiphanes
    April 1, 2010

    I think “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a stupid commandment.

    Love? I only have so much love in me…I love my kid, my wife, the fam, etc. I don’t even KNOW my neighbor. Loving everyone would dull the goddamned nature of love. On the other hand, I will treat my neighbor* with courtesy if I’m interested in getting along with my neighbor, and with discourtesy if I am interested in provoking my neighbor**.

    Life is complex. These simple kind of aphorisms provide poor guidelines for dealing with that complexity.

    So given my opinion of the golden rule, I think that the teachings of Jesus (in bulk, as they are recorded, fictional, partial, or fractured) are useless. I reject them utterly.

    *I’m assuming this means, like, a stranger or something.
    **Not generally how I roll, but I’m capable of it.

  157. #157 nigelTheBold
    April 1, 2010

    What’s so horrible about “Love your neighbour as yourself”? I’d think that the world would be a far better place if everybody lived according that sentiment, whether they were religious or not.

    Others have pointed out the problem with that sentiment. Further, what if I didn’t really like myself? Should I allow my self-loathing to guide my interactions with others? And, what if your neighbor is a complete asshole?

    This is similar to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is flawed. This gives Christians the right to try hard to convert you — after all, they would want to be saved, wouldn’t they? Also, where does that leave those into S&M bedroom play?

    No. Far better is, “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” Or even better, “Treat others with real or simulated respect, at least until they have proven themselves to be total dickweeds and undeserving of respect.”

    There are far better moralities than those espoused in the Bible. In their Big Cheatsheet of Rules, most of the rules have to do with worshiping their god. One of the remaining rules creates a thoughtcrime. How is this in any way “moral,” or help create a better society, or a better you?

    Don’t bother trying to salvage the poor morality outlined in the Bible, when simple rational thought can lead you to a far better morality.

  158. #158 Antiochus Epiphanes
    April 1, 2010

    “Treat others with real or simulated respect, at least until they have proven themselves to be total dickweeds and undeserving of respect.”

    Word. This is what nearly everyone does anyway, so it’s easy to remember.

  159. #159 Menyambal
    April 1, 2010

    Right–the Golden Rule–”Do unto others . . .”. Religious folks are so morally depraved and logically deprived that they can only believe that a god must have come up with it. Woooo!

    But any kid on a kindergarten playground understands says the same thing in, “He hit me so I hit him back.” And figures out to not hit people.

  160. #160 IslandBrewer
    April 2, 2010

    Theres nothing horrible about it, some people i won’t name names hate it because it binds us to a moral law and mr meyers doesn’t want that

    You mean that idiot who wrote that “I can see Jesus in the Cytoplasm!” book? That’s ‘Meyer’ without an ‘S’.

  161. #161 TimKO,,.,,
    April 2, 2010

    PZ:
    “If your Palestinian hippie were here today, he’d be horrified and damn the whole mad carnival that has been established in his name, and they’re all Christianists.”

    Well duh. The Jesus of the gospels preached within Judaism and never suggested anybody start a new religion for gentiles. Of course he’d say “you got it all wrong”; that goes without saying.

    Now, Paul of Tarsus, who you really should infer; that’s a different ball of…um, squid?

    As far as applying a 60′s/70′s, western-world stereotype to Jeebus: lazy and inaccurate.

  162. #162 cristinab.myopenid.com
    April 2, 2010

    punish the pope