Faith! or "What y'all believe in, regardless of how crazy it is"

Well, i am a curious person by nature, and though religion and faith often make for volatile subjects, they also often make for some of the most interesting debates and discussions, SO: What do you all believe in? Be you a conservative christian, a member of the cult of Khaine, worshipper of Rah, or perhaps you have no faith at all. Either way, what do you believe in, to what degree, and how does it affect your life?

In my case, i am still struggling to fully define what i believe. On one hand, i believe in science, cause and effect, mass and energy. On the other hand, i am aware that there are things that cannot be explained by human understanding. So far, i choose to believe that this is not due to an inherint supernatural quality, but because we simply do not yet understand its nature. A vastly powerful, demi-almighty being may exist for all i know, but if it does, i believe it to be a natural part of the world, but a part we simply do not understand yet. Admittedly though, i have seen no proof of an almighty force with anything even resembling human sentience, so i suppose you would term me as an "Atheist"

what about the rest of you? I promise not to make fun of your beliefs, even if they might be strange.

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Slagar's picture

Devotee

I've seen no proof of anything affecting mens' lives but themselves. I also absolutely cannot stand people who talk of an afterlife and higher power, and then use that to escape accountability for their own actions. This life is all we get, so make it count, make the life you lead here one that's worth living. If that notion bothers you, you may want to think about the life you're leading.

That being said, I have no absolute proof that there is nothing more than this, merely a lot of very sophisticated guesswork, so I guess I'd be just as bad as fundies if I didn't call myself agnostic. My plan is to live the best life I can, and if there is an afterlife, that'd better damn well be good enough. Wink

The Vixen is going to have plenty to say on this, though. Just you wait. She's gonna tan my hide. Wink

The Vixen's picture

Devotee

Yeah, in deep contrast, I'm converting to Judaism...

I am, for the most part, Conservative, with a leaning towards Orthodox. I keep relative kosher (as best I can, and I cheat every now and then, but I'm getting better), I study Torah, and I am currently learning some Jewish Mysticism. I prefer to say I am a Shamanistic Jew, but really that just means I'm an extremely spiritual Jew.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I hadn't ever heard of 'shamanistic judaism'. Elaborate?

MeiLin's picture

Most High

You could found "Goys for YHWH." Wink

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy -- you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?

So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The atheism part is easy.

But, this "This I Believe" thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."

Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.

Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.

Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.
-Penn Jillette on NPR's "This I Believe"

I've posted this before on here, so I'm sure some of you have read it and know that I feel that this talks about what I believe better than I probably could.

However, if we're going to have another thread on God, maybe we want to consider how we'll make it different from this thread on God.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

There's so many negative implications for believers - that we DON'T have enough room to believe in other things (since when is belief finite?), that we're solipsistic, that we don't consider the personal valuable, etc. It makes so many erroneous, generalised assumptions about believers on the whole. It unfairly pigeonholes us, and comes off as self-righteous. I feel sure Penn Jillette has only the most limited understanding of the range of beliefs amongst believers, and even less understanding of why we believe what we do.

I have no problem with atheism. But atheists who think they're better than believers or agnostics are just as bad as religious fanatics. I'd like to smack both groups. If your belief in 'whatever' is so strong, why do you need to assert yourself over others? And pushing your own agenda while having failed to examine a variety of perspectives makes for a very weak agenda indeed. I don't care what people believe; I respect any approach to religion which is well-examined and has been reached through deep contemplation. Anything less is worthless, regardless of the actual state of belief.

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

There is nothing more frustrating or annoying than one group screaming for acceptance and pushing their agenda of acceptance while constantly concurrently pushing the opposition. There is a difference between pushing for acceptance while rebelling from the percieved norm and screaming I'm right, they're wrong; accept me and damn them.

And this extends to more than just religion.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Live and let live, amen!

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

I had a long post written in defense of this essay, explaining logically and in a very persuasive way that you've misinterpreted it, that it's not smacking down believers, and that none of those negative implications you listed are actually implied. Unfortunately, as I neared the end of this explanation, I needed to move my computer a few inches, and the power cord fell out of the back of it.

So, now you get the short version, without the long stories in support of the ideas. Basically, the essay isn't about other people...it's about self. For Penn, I think it's about him. I like it because it's about me. Clearly, it is not about you. To me, this essay is about my life, not anyone else's. It's about what makes me a good person, and what I need, what I feel selfish asking for, and what makes me the best, most open-minded person I can be. For me, that's is believing that there is no God. I don't think that's for everyone. Some people need the moral compass that religion provides. They need God shaking a stick at them to do the right thing, and they'll be better people if they believe in God. Others don't find the sense of community that they find in their religious organizations anywhere else. They don't find that group of people, with one strong belief in common to support them, anywhere else. For me, that group is the group of engineers. I don't need that from religion anymore, but having to look for it elsewhere made *me* a stronger person than I was. Maybe for you, looking for it and finding it in religion made *you* a stronger person than you were. I grew up with religion, and breaking off from it was a journey, and I grew a lot in that time. Some people need God to find reason in the world, and to have some sense of purpose. The idea of God can be very comforting in difficult times. When the world seems senseless, the idea of God and a plan for your life is, without a doubt, comforting and strengthening. For me, confiding in God and deriving strength from that relationship takes away from my other relationships instead of strengthening them. There are countless reasons for believing in God. For me, there's only one reason not to, and it trumps all the reasons to: it makes me a better person, it makes my life more meaningful and more fulfilling than it was when I did believe in God, and it makes my relationships more rewarding. To me, that's what is important.

I prefer to put my faith in humanity. That allows me to focus on it more. For some people, faith *helps* them focus on humanity and other people. For *me*, it does not. It only gets in the way and distracts me from the most important thing of all: other people. One of the ten commandments, if you want to think about it that way, is to have no other gods before God. Mine is people. I can't let God get in the way of people, and if it turns out I'm wrong and there is a God, I don't see how he can fault me for trying to be the best person I can be and for investing my life in other people. If he can, that's not a god I want to have anything to do with anyway.

I used to believe very strongly in God. I don't mean my parents forced me to go to CCD or church or Sunday School or what-have-you. I mean that the decisions I made in my life were based on what I believed to be the Truth about God. It did not make me a good person. I did bad things for the right reasons and good things for the wrong reasons. My faith hurt other people, got in the way of relationships, and is still today the reason I am not really on speaking terms with my parents. I know that I will never know whether or not there is a God, so I made the decision to believe whatever made me the best person. In the end, that was not believing in God. Now I try to do the right thing because it's the right thing. It's not because I believe God will smite me if I don't or love me more if I do, but because I put other people above all else, including Church, Religion, Faith, and God, and that makes me a much better person. If I do the right thing, sometimes there is nothing in it for me. It doesn't help assure my place in heaven or a gold star from God, and to me, that makes me a better person than I was. It doesn't make me a better person than you are...how can I compare myself to other people, when I have never been other people? I just know what has worked (and what hasn't) *for me*.

One of my biggest gripes with religion is that many (although not all) religions say that their way is the only way, or that their God is the only god. It *is* solipsistic. When I let go of one religion, it did open my eyes to the possibilities that parts of other people's philosophies could be correct. It let me consider the world from a less-biased perspective. Maybe you can do that anyway. I couldn't. Believing in one Truth didn't leave room for other ideas, and now that I've moved past that faith, I can discover new ideas and consider them with a more open mind. I do think belief is finite. I guess finite is the wrong word. I think that belief is limited. I can't, as a reasonable person, believe in two things that contradict each other. If my god is the one true God, than clearly yours is not and you're wrong. Maybe you don't believe that your god is the one true God. Maybe you can believe two contradictory things at the same time. I can't.

My approach to religion is what works best for me: to live my life without it. It's not that I don't understand why you believe what you believe. I understand it better than most, because I've been there. I believed in God, with all of my heart. I was entirely invested in my faith. Stepping away from that ruined my whole life, at least temporarily. It took me years to build a new one. I respect you for having put as much thought into this as you did. Please understand that I've put a lot of thought into this, too. I've considered other religions, and even tried some out. I've changed churches, leaders, friends, denominations, and finally whole systems of belief and faith, but none of them were as fulfilling to me as not having a religion at all and investing that time instead into relationships with other people. I still take time to meditate and think about life, and that is more useful to me than prayer ever was. I have the same gripe as you do: many people haven't considered other religions or other ways of life, and that drives me crazy. I really think that in order for your system of belief or non-belief or whatever to be treated with gravity and a great deal of respect, you need to have seriously considered and tried alternatives, and I don't think most religious people have. I think you have, and that's awesome, but I think that's why many atheists are "uppity" about what they don't believe in. It's often harder to not believe something than it is to believe something, because many of us had to escape religion, ask a lot of hard questions, and consider what it was we really wanted to believe. Many, though not all, religious people are religious because that's how they were brought up. They never asked any of the hard questions and they never let anything shake their sheep-like faith. They never tried believing in something else. Clearly, that is not you. For you, it seems religion enriches your life. For me, though, believing there is no God really does give me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have. That's gotta be enough.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

and this is the short version! :jawdrop:

nicely written.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Or that's how it strikes me, at least. You know I'm not hating on you, right?

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For me, that's is believing that there is no God. I don't think that's for everyone.

At this point we are in utter agreement, and I'm thinking to myself...why didn't she stop there?

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Some people need the moral compass that religion provides. They need God shaking a stick at them to do the right thing, and they'll be better people if they believe in God. Others don't find the sense of community that they find in their religious organizations anywhere else. They don't find that group of people, with one strong belief in common to support them, anywhere else.

Now I feel like you're making way too many assumptions. 'Need'? What about 'want'? Also, you imply that those who like religious organisation don't belong to other communities as well, which is patently untrue.

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I grew up with religion, and breaking off from it was a journey, and I grew a lot in that time.

Aha...suddenly it all makes sense. I understand (not firsthand, but many times over secondhand) the negative effects of unexamined, ignorant religious thought. Just please be careful about generalising.

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One of my biggest gripes with religion is that many (although not all) religions say that their way is the only way, or that their God is the only god. It *is* solipsistic.

Err, you just said NOT ALL. So then not all religion is solipsistic. I hate the 'my way is the only way' viewpoint in anything just as much as you. But it's neither a trademark of nor unique to religion.

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I think that belief is limited. I can't, as a reasonable person, believe in two things that contradict each other. If my god is the one true God, than clearly yours is not and you're wrong. Maybe you don't believe that your god is the one true God. Maybe you can believe two contradictory things at the same time. I can't.

YOUR belief (and that general system with with you were raised) may have been limited. The rest of what you say....that only applies to those who believe in the 'one true way' type of thing. Which is far from everyone. I would also argue that paradox is an essential part of all great things....but that's not really relevant!

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It's not that I don't understand why you believe what you believe.

Honestly, I don't think you do, because of how greatly your background differs from my own. But I also don't think I understand why you believe what you believe, completely, either, for the very same reason. That's okay.

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It's often harder to not believe something than it is to believe something, because many of us had to escape religion, ask a lot of hard questions, and consider what it was we really wanted to believe. Many, though not all, religious people are religious because that's how they were brought up. They never asked any of the hard questions and they never let anything shake their sheep-like faith. They never tried believing in something else.

I disagree. I think modern secularism (which I'm not singling out, as I think entrenched religion is just as bad) has resulted in a tremendous number of atheists who embrace atheism as blindly as religious fundamentalists embrace religion. My brother is a classic example; he has never been interested in religion, had virtually no exposure to it, and writes off every religious or spiritual person without thought. Now, I'm not saying that my brother even needs to be exposed to religion - I know him well enough to doubt he'd ever become spiritual let alone religious, and he's a good, happy person as he is - but his sheep-like lack of faith, his refusal to ask questions and look outside his box DOES bother me.

In your case, I completely respect the personal decisions you've made and I think your journey is admirable. I do not doubt for a minute that you are on the right path for yourself. You clearly were raised in a manner that was entirely wrong for you, and also from the sounds of it, extremely inherently flawed. It DOES sadden me that your initial exposure to religion was so negative, not because I necessarily think that if you'd been exposed to something else you'd be different (I love you how you are), but because I do feel that your exposure has left you with scars.

I'm going to try to bring in some Myers-Briggs to save the day, here! So, I read a really interesting article the other day about how the real issue in politics isn't D vs R, but control freak vs 'the rest of us', where sadly 'us' is a minority. So the majority of both D and R, and all people in general, are control freaks. They want things to be regulated; they want other people to live by their rules. The difference between D and R is essentially about what each party cares about controlling. And then you have those few of us who want a freer life, who want to live and let live. By viewing politics as D vs R, liberal vs conservative, we ignore the more fundamental issue - control vs freedom. D vs R is an unfortunate distraction and ends up driving apart people (often on opposite ends of the traditional spectrum) who should actually be united.

I think faith vs atheism is the same way. Right now we're focusing on how we're different - I believe, you don't - but that's actually a much more minor issue than the underlying ones of freedom vs control and of examined vs unexamined. Though our actual personal approaches are fundamentally different, what we think is GENERALLY important - to reach any conclusion through a process, and to respect other perspectives - are identical.

And I brought up M-B because in addition to being obsessed with it, I think that both the political and religious issues boil down to N vs S. We're both very strong Ns, and Ss make up 75% of the population. Ns are naturally (being vastly superior :P) inclined to react poorly to anything they mentally consider an 'S' trait, even if it's not actually one. Solution? BURN THE Ss! They confuse everything and ruin things for everyone!

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

which is why I wish I had my original post. It was much better thought out, and said more what I wanted to say. I really wanted the whole point of that post to be: religion is not for me, that essay means a lot to me because I feel like it describes very well why religion is not for me, and if religion is for you that's fine as long as you have seriously considered alternatives and respect other people, etc, etc, etc. I'll hit the rest of this one at a time, I guess. This is why I don't usually talk about religion, though. I feel like it devolves into a long set of misunderstandings or half understandings of what I really mean unless I'm extremely careful about exactly which words I choose, and I always end up talking about how one of the best, most fulfilling things I had in my life (faith) turned into one of the worst things, which was not a fun evolution to experience, and is not one of my favorite subjects. If you don't want to read my corrections of language or other silly little things in my post, please skip to paragraph six where I actually talk about interesting things and don't just basically explain how what I wrote is not that different from what you seem to believe if you read it in the spirit in which I intended it to be read.

So, sure, need, want, whatever. I was just trying to list a few of the reasons why people turn to religion or faith. Regulations, comfort, purpose, community, etc, etc, etc. Regarding the set of rules, some people need it, some people want it, some people tolerate it, and some people ignore it. Regarding the community, yes, of course they belong to other communities, but maybe they're not enough, maybe they like something about the church/synagogue/temple/etc community that they don't find anywhere else, maybe it fulfills them in different ways than their other communities.

Yes, not all. I try not to generalize, but we're talking about a very general topic: religion. Hence, the "not all". I know you can't lump them together and be accurate, but you can discuss general trends. As long as you qualify them with phrases like "most, but not all", I think you're in the clear. I think that that attitude is very common in religion. No, not all religious people are like that. Most of the religious leaders I have met *do* support and attempt to pass on that attitude of a "one true God". Clearly you are not like that. Some, even many, people are. No, the "I'm right, you're wrong" attitude is not unique to religion. It just happens to be common in religion. Common, not the rule, not everyone, just common.

MY beliefs. Yup, that's what the whole post was supposed to be about. Sorry for the confusion. Hence the "maybe you don't" part, and the "here's what I did" part. (Also, I would argue that balance, not paradox, is essential for all great things, but another discussion for another day, perhaps.)

Perhaps "it's not that I don't understand why you believe what you believe" could be rephrased to "it's not that I find it unreasonable to believe what you believe". I think that better expresses what I meant.

Paragraph six:
Now we're getting to the good stuff. Your paragraph starting with "I disagree. I think modern secularism..." is my favorite part of everything you wrote, because it's news to me. I grew up in New England. I've never lived anywhere else, except the UK, and then very briefly. I've certainly traveled, but you don't form deep friendships in your travels. The VAST majority of people that I know were raised in a religious household (to some degree). I think I have had two acquaintances in my whole life that were not. Some of the people I have known have very devout parents, some people only have one parent who is religious, and some didn't have parents that really gave a shit but felt that their children should be raised with some sort of religious direction. The point is, New England has *very* religious roots and it shows in the way people are raised around here.

This means that the people that I know who are religious went that way because they just kept doing what they had done and what their parents and grandparents and ancestors back and back and back had done for centuries. The people I know who aren't religious are the ones that think outside the box. They're the ones that asked the questions and went against what they were taught and came out with different answers to eternal questions. It honestly didn't occur to me to think about the opposite situation, where people are raised atheistic and find religion on their own. The idea that someone would blindly embrace and push atheism is totally foreign to me. I've never met anyone like that. Those two atheists that were raised atheistically don't push their views on anyone. They're even curious about religion, and the one that I knew when I was religious went on a religious retreat with me to check it out and see what they thought about it. They still decided it wasn't for them, but they gave it a try. They both actually treat everything very curiously and scientifically, and that includes religion. I think that it's interesting that you know these blind sheep-like atheists. You've really given me something to think about. Thank you! Smile

Yes, my exposure may have left me with some "scars", but I think a lot of that was growing pains. I think the change of beliefs I chose to undergo really made me consider what I believed, and to me that was invaluable. Religion is definitely not for me, but in figuring that out, I think I figured myself out in a big way. I'm definitely a better, happier individual than I used to be. Incidentally, I'm pretty sure I'm the only person from my many-hundreds-of-people-big religious group that no longer believes in God, so I think it was perhaps just that the experience disagreed with me, rather than that it was a bad experience.

This whole thing is kind of frustrating for me because in the end, all I was trying to do was say, this is what I believe in why. It even sounds like where it's important we feel the same way about ways of thinking. At the very least, I don't disagree with anything you said. That is what I believe, that is approximately why, and it has nothing to do with anyone else. As far as what other people think about religion, it's interesting. If you're an idiot, I probably won't want to spend a lot of time with you, especially if you're an idiot who wants to push your half-formed views regarding religion onto me. It doesn't sound like you, FairNymph, are an idiot. I think why you're doing what you're doing is cool, based on what I have heard you say on this and other threads. My post was written in haste because my original attempt at it was deleted. I was much more clear there, so I apologize for any confusion this may have caused. Clearly I should have decided against posting a hastily written set of thoughts about a clearly sensitive topic to a public forum where anyone could read them and be offended. Thanks for sharing, and for forcing me to go back and look at the language I used and how it could possibly be misconstrued. Sorry to everyone else for plaguing this thread with long-winded corrections, agreements, disagreements, and diatribes in general.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

This has been one of the most civil religious disagreement I've ever seen. All the "corrections, agreements, disagreements, and diatribes in general" were done respectfully, and with a genuine interest in understanding the other party's view.

I think it could probably be put in the FAQ as an answer to "Q: How do I respond to someone with whom I disagree?" Smile

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

but I don't think I was nitpicking in the true sense of the word. In these types of conversations, precision is crucial, and every word takes on heightened meaning and importance. That said, I have laboured over many novella-length comments only to have the gods (or non-gods!) of cyberspace snatch them away into the ether. Few things upset me more, and rewriting it all - if I can BEAR to - never results in as good a product. I think you did pretty damn well considering!

I also understand wanting to evade unpleasant subjects, and I thank you for bearing with that enough to do so as you have. You honour me and this forum.

Why people turn to religion - we agree, for many different reasons. I was simply offended that you chose - IMO - some of the worst, and most stereotypical reasons, and seemed to state those reasons in a way which was diametrically opposed to the reasons for rejecting religion. It seemed like you were describing one specific type of religious approach (the one you experienced I think?) when there so many other approaches. And I resent MY approach, and those others which I admire, being tarnished by association.

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I know you can't lump them together and be accurate, but you can discuss general trends.

I don't think this is true in the case of religion/belief in God. Spirituality is so personal, so individual (even in the case of people in a very strict, dogmatic religious setting), and so very widely variable. There are thousands of religions. It may be true that you can generalise, even with great accuracy, about the religious people to whom you have been exposed, but as I said above, that's unfair and insulting to the rest of us.

Also, in regards to the 'my way is the only way' attitude - I feel like you missed my point. I don't disagree that that attitude is common, quite possibly even majority. But it's not an attribute of religion (necessarily); it's a personality trait. That's why I brought up that whole extended analogy at the end of my last post. I think this is a matter of faulty correlation; most of the religious people you've met have been control freaks, so you associate that trait with religiousness, and I would guess most of the N-type open-minded people you've met are not religious, so you have a positive association in that direction. Does that make any sense?

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Also, I would argue that balance, not paradox, is essential for all great things, but another discussion for another day, perhaps.)

Paradox is a form of balance, really, but I agree. Many things are essential for greatness. Smile

I ALSO grew up in New England (which, in my experience, is a fairly secular place on the whole, so it's fascinating that we had such very different experiences - although, my parents are foreign).

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The point is, New England has *very* religious roots and it shows in the way people are raised around here.

I agree about the roots...but I disagree about how it shows. I think it shows more as judgementalness and snobbery and prudishness than as religiousness.

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This means that the people that I know who are religious went that way because they just kept doing what they had done and what their parents and grandparents and ancestors back and back and back had done for centuries. The people I know who aren't religious are the ones that think outside the box.

Do you think people can think independently - even outside the box - and still choose to accept the path of tradition? I don't know this group you discuss well enough to say if that's likely, but I know that in other circumstances it's possible. Provided the traditional path doesn't preclude logical & creative thought...

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It honestly didn't occur to me to think about the opposite situation, where people are raised atheistic and find religion on their own. The idea that someone would blindly embrace and push atheism is totally foreign to me.

To clarify, I was raised nebulously, not atheistically, though I suppose being forbidden to go to CCD was a bit pushy on my mom's part. Still, she never told me I couldn't believe what I wanted. As for my brother, he's not overtly pushy (though he can be insulting towards those who believe). However, I do know MANY pushy atheists who seem to take pleasure in attacking believers, generally and/or individually. Not only have I met more pushy atheists than religious folk, but they are invariably more obnoxious about it. The worst I get from someone religious (in all cases it's been fundamentalist Christians) is essentially pity/fear for my soul, which while annoyingly condescending, is well-intended. Self-righteous atheists (both secularly-raised and religious rebels) have called me and other believers stupid, delusional, irrational, and other such insults.

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I think that it's interesting that you know these blind sheep-like atheists.

Like I said...N/S thing, not believer/atheist thing. Smile

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I think the change of beliefs I chose to undergo really made me consider what I believed, and to me that was invaluable.

Our trials and struggles make us all the richer. (Well, here at least.)

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That is what I believe, that is approximately why, and it has nothing to do with anyone else.

Only crazy people would take offence to this. That said, your original quote had ALOT to do with other people, which was why it offended me so.

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Clearly I should have decided against posting a hastily written set of thoughts about a clearly sensitive topic to a public forum where anyone could read them and be offended.

Again...it was the original post that really bothered me. You can post anything you like and I would never want you to feel otherwise, and I always want to read what you write. I just dislike inaccurate generalisations, especially if I'm in the group, at least in name, that's being generalised.

Have we broken a new epic record, kk? Blum 3

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

fairnymph wrote:
And I resent MY approach, and those others which I admire, being tarnished by association.

Honestly, I mean that comparison of your approach to others as a compliment. I think you should be more upset at the other people who tarnish the reputation of believers, than at people who draw attention to the majority of people who fall into the same "category" (believers) as you do. Even if you don't like it, almost everyone who finds out you believe in God is going to draw that connection in their minds. I think it's great that you're going to give them one of the best examples I've ever seen of someone who believes in God and is smart about it. You're setting a great example for other believers, and you're showing non-believers that there is a way to believe in something outside yourself without being a self-righteous idiot,

To me, it's like feminism. I consider myself to be a feminist. That being said, I get really frustrated with some of the female engineers around here. They call themselves feminists, because they expect people to take their opinions (regarding an engineering problem) equally as seriously or even more seriously than the opinions of a man, just because they're female. Now, there are probably only three or four girls in the program. Nine times out of ten, in my experience, they're wrong about whatever engineering decision it was they made. Their work is sloppy, but they get upset if I don't trust their opinions or work or whatever over a man's. They don't realize that I'm being impartial, and that engineering is largely a meritocracy. I'll respect your work if it deserves it. I expect people to do the same to me. I call myself a feminist because I believe it's *possible* for women to be as good as or better than men. I don't think it's *necessarily always true*. I've worked my ass off to be the best engineer I could be, and a lot of people have told me I'm a really good engineer. The point is that I'm more upset with the women in this program for not working harder to demonstrate that they could be as good as the men in the program (and trust me, they don't work that hard). I'm not upset with the men for calling them out on it. They're giving the men cause to think women suck at engineering. I'm not.

This is basically the same situation as you with religion. You said "I don't disagree that that attitude is common, quite possibly even majority. But it's not an attribute of religion (necessarily); it's a personality trait." You can see that it's common in religion; all I've done is pointed it out. Clearly, you (and the people you look up to) do not fall into this category. Why would you be upset with me for pointing out that the majority is one way, instead of being upset with the majority for being that way? I really have nothing but the utmost respect for you. I think that, based on what you've said about your belief, that what you do and believe seems reasonable. You're clearly very open minded and tolerant of other people's beliefs. You're not selfish or solipsistic. I've even ceased to associate with you, in my mind, with the other believers that I know, because I feel like you have more in common with me (regarding your way of thinking about the world) than you do with them. You should resent your approach, and those others which you admire, being tarnished by association. But you I don't think you should resent the people who have drawn the conclusion that many or most believers are a certain way. You should resent those believers that are that certain way. Generalization is sometimes necessary for discussing ideas as a whole, although I agree that it should be avoided as much as possible. Being closed-minded as a group and believing that everyone who disagrees with your way of thinking is wrong seems like a much worse thing to do, especially when you tarnish your own reputation for other people who could fall into the same category as you. Part of the reason I work so hard to be a good engineer is because I take pride in my work, and I love what I do. But a small part of me feels some added importance because I know that to some people, my work represents female engineers as a group, and I think it's important for that group to have a good reputation.

fairnymph wrote:

Also, in regards to the 'my way is the only way' attitude - I feel like you missed my point. I don't disagree that that attitude is common, quite possibly even majority. But it's not an attribute of religion (necessarily); it's a personality trait. That's why I brought up that whole extended analogy at the end of my last post. I think this is a matter of faulty correlation; most of the religious people you've met have been control freaks, so you associate that trait with religiousness, and I would guess most of the N-type open-minded people you've met are not religious, so you have a positive association in that direction. Does that make any sense?

You know, I kind of like this idea. It would explain why there are so many religious control-freaks and so many open-minded atheists. Maybe you're right. I have an alternate theory, though I'm not necessarily claiming that you're wrong. It's possible that you're right and my theory is wrong, or even that you're right and my theory is right as well.
This attitude of 'my way is the only way' is something that is actually *widely taught* throughout all of the services I've attended, bible studies I've been to, and sunday school/CCD type sessions I've sat through. Every religious leader I have spoken with or come to with questions regarding other denominations or religions has said to me, "This God is the only God. Do not be led away by false gods. There is no way we worship the same God as they do," or some variation on that. To me, it's no wonder that many religious people believe this and have that attitude towards faith. It is what they are taught. The only person that ever suggested to me that maybe all the gods were the same God was a physics teacher I had in high school that I used to chat about religion with (as he took his faith very seriously).

fairnymph wrote:

I ALSO grew up in New England (which, in my experience, is a fairly secular place on the whole, so it's fascinating that we had such very different experiences - although, my parents are foreign).

I'm shocked, really. How could you have known atheists, and everyone I knew went to church or synagogue regularly? I hadn't even met anyone who was Muslim until I got to college. I knew one girl who was Hindu I think, but we didn't really discuss it very much because she was going to church to piss off her parents and didn't want to talk about it. Where in New England did you grow up? Where are your parents from?

fairnymph wrote:

kawaiikune wrote:
The point is, New England has *very* religious roots and it shows in the way people are raised around here.

I agree about the roots...but I disagree about how it shows. I think it shows more as judgementalness and snobbery and prudishness than as religiousness.

Whoa. Who's generalizing now? Wink I agree most of the people I grew up with were pretty snobby, though. I got out of there as fast as I could. I moved out and went to PA when I turned 16, just to get away from it all. Everyone really was religious, though. It blows my mind that you didn't see that. Check out Gudy's post, above, as well.

fairnymph wrote:

kawaiikune wrote:
This means that the people that I know who are religious went that way because they just kept doing what they had done and what their parents and grandparents and ancestors back and back and back had done for centuries. The people I know who aren't religious are the ones that think outside the box.

Do you think people can think independently - even outside the box - and still choose to accept the path of tradition? I don't know this group you discuss well enough to say if that's likely, but I know that in other circumstances it's possible. Provided the traditional path doesn't preclude logical & creative thought...

I think it depends on the tradition. I don't think that's what these people have done. I actually get really wrapped up in traditions. I Love them. They are extremely important to me, because to me, they're a way to remind myself of the past, of people who are no longer with me, and of people I care about. Some of them are even semi-religious traditions. They don't hold religious meaning for me, they hold personal meaning. I always make the same Christmas cookies. I always paint eggs for Easter. They have religious roots, but they remind me of painting eggs at my grandmother's house with all of my cousins. The cookies remind me of my ancestors and where I came from (since the recipe came down from my great-great grandmother). Some of the traditions even remind me of how much fun it was to grow up with my siblings. I have internal battles over some of them, too. For Christmas Eve, every year, my siblings and I would always go to a candlelight service, and then stay up half the night eating Christmas cookies at the church with our friends. I don't go to church anymore, and I really have no desire to ever set foot in one again, but it pains me to let a tradition die.

For the people I'm talking about that are religious in the town that I grew up in, they do it because they believe in God. They don't do it for the sake of tradition. They do it because their parents taught them that God is real, and they never thought to question that. It's hard to break away from your upbringing, your Catholic guilt, your mother telling you she's praying for you. Half of the people I grew up with went back to live in the same town after college, go to the same churches or synagogues and say the same prayers. They are truly convinced that I'm going to Hell.

I guess the point is, I certainly think it's possible to do religious things because of tradition, but in my experience that hasn't been the case.

fairnymph wrote:
The worst I get from someone religious (in all cases it's been fundamentalist Christians) is essentially pity/fear for my soul, which while annoyingly condescending, is well-intended. Self-righteous atheists (both secularly-raised and religious rebels) have called me and other believers stupid, delusional, irrational, and other such insults.

Outside of people who have converted to atheism (and I agree with Gudy, new converts are always extra-zealous), I have never met a self-righteous atheist who is anything but courteous and even curious about people of faith. And, to be fair, even if you're very rational, I can't count the number of believers I know that are not. That said, I must say I'm surprised. I don't give people shit about their faith, however blind it is, unless they ask what I think (although I suppose this forum puts me in a gray area...have I actually been asked what I think?). I don't know any other atheists who do that either, and even when I believed in God, no atheist ever did that to me. On the other hand, I have never met a religious person, as an atheist, who hasn't tried to convert me. Ever. When I believed in God, I even tried to convert other people, because I thought I was right (see previous post about how I was a terrible person, and how I am now ashamed of the way I was).

I find it really interesting that your experience is so different from mine.

= fairnymph wrote:

kawaiikune wrote:
Clearly I should have decided against posting a hastily written set of thoughts about a clearly sensitive topic to a public forum where anyone could read them and be offended.

Again...it was the original post that really bothered me. You can post anything you like and I would never want you to feel otherwise, and I always want to read what you write. I just dislike inaccurate generalisations, especially if I'm in the group, at least in name, that's being generalised.

[/quote]
Fair enough. Some people tell me I'm too naive, and that I always look for the best in everything. I really did read that essay and come away with, "Please, believers, don't feel sorry for me because I don't have God and you think I'm going to Hell. My life is wonderful and full of love and humanity and beauty and everything else, so please don't think it is empty and lonely because I don't believe in God." That was what I liked about it. It is taking some leap of faith to say "I believe there is no God", but it's also saying "*I'm* better off without God, even if you may not be". I never really thought of it as basically calling believers idiots, because I largely applied it to myself and found it to be true, for me. I didn't apply it to other people. It's about my truth, and even if it's not yours, that's fine by me, which is how I take everything other people write in this thread. Thanks for having this discussion...it's definitely made me reconsider a few things. Smile

fairnymph wrote:
Have we broken a new epic record, kk? :P

If we hadn't before, I think we have now. Wink
fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Quote:
I think you should be more upset at the other people who tarnish the reputation of believers, than at people who draw attention to the majority of people who fall into the same "category" (believers) as you do.

I get upset at both, and I definitely get far more upset at the latter - fortunately, we haven't seen any of those posting here. Blum 3

The engineering analogy doesn't really work because no one - from what you've said - is actually judging the women's work based on their sex. It's the particular women who expect some sort of free pass, which is their own problem.

Quote:
This is basically the same situation as you with religion. You said "I don't disagree that that attitude is common, quite possibly even majority. But it's not an attribute of religion (necessarily); it's a personality trait." You can see that it's common in religion

I should have been more clear. I don't think it's common in religion, not really. I think it's a common HUMAN trait. I don't think it's any more common among religious folks than nonreligious folks.

Quote:
To me, it's no wonder that many religious people believe this and have that attitude towards faith. It is what they are taught.

This applies to everything that is taught, and anything dogmatic in nature tends to be a double whammy. I would argue that yes, most people teach things in a way that excludes alternatives, and most people readily accept what they have been taught and rarely explore further on their own. These are fundamental S traits, and with 75% of the world being S, it's no surprise. So I think both theories are right, if I'm understanding your main thrust here?

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Where in New England did you grow up? Where are your parents from?

Small town in Cape Cod, MA. Mom is Australian. Legal dad is Australian. Bio dad is German. Where did you grow up?

Quote:
Everyone really was religious, though. It blows my mind that you didn't see that.

I think it's pretty clear that we were in different circles, so I don't think either of us saw the other 'world' in each case. Also, I was SORT OF joking. Biggrin

I love tradition too, btw. Smile And WOW at the people in your town. Yeah, that sounds like my born again half-sister...though she's told me 'at least I'm Jewish not Muslim'. LOL *eyeroll* She's actually generally very cool about it, though I fear for my nieces (neither she nor their father condone the teaching of evolution).

Quote:
On the other hand, I have never met a religious person, as an atheist, who hasn't tried to convert me.

WOW. That really gives me a whole new perspective. Considering your experience, your reaction to believers in general is pretty damn understandable. Although you mentioned synagogues...surely the Jews didn't try to convert you? That would be most un-Jewish of them.

I've had maybe 4 Christians try to convert me and maybe a few more than that atheists. Mmm hmm you read that right. But I think that's skewed because I know more atheists than I do Christians.

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

fairnymph wrote:

The engineering analogy doesn't really work because no one - from what you've said - is actually judging the women's work based on their sex. It's the particular women who expect some sort of free pass, which is their own problem.

No, some people around here don't give women the benefit of the doubt when it comes to engineering. I just don't get upset about it. I've met enough female engineers that for whatever reason (my guess is usually that they didn't get as good of a math/science education when they were young because of societal pressures, etc.) aren't that good (although there are a few that are excellent), I'm not really all that surprised when people make that generalization. When someone underestimates my ability, I just use it as an opportunity to prove them wrong.

I guess that was my point. When someone thinks you're a certain way, just because you're a believer, use it as an opportunity to prove them wrong. Maybe I just don't get upset because I expect people to generalize about me. I know that sometimes they'll be right, and sometimes they'll be wrong, and if they're wrong I don't care that much what they think. Either they'll get to know me, and find out how I really am, or they won't bother, and it's their loss.

I also think that people forget about Jewish people a lot, and when they generalize about believers, they tend to mean Christians. I can't stand 98% of the Christians that I know, and I've never had a problem with a Jewish person I've known on religious grounds.

Quote:
I should have been more clear. I don't think it's common in religion, not really. I think it's a common HUMAN trait. I don't think it's any more common among religious folks than nonreligious folks.

Possible. I've certainly seen it more in religious folks, but I think we've established that our experiences are different.

Quote:
So I think both theories are right, if I'm understanding your main thrust here?

Yup, that's exactly what I was trying to say. I think that's definitely a possibility.

Quote:
Where did you grow up?

Suburban CT. That's interesting you're from the Cape, though. I have some very good friends there who were raised (religiously) there, although I think growing up on the Cape is slightly abnormal because of the tourism market surrounding it. Doesn't the population of Cape Cod dramatically increases over the summer? I got the impression that not many of the people who live there grew up there. The continuity of the population seems like it would be different from a lot of places. Correct me if I'm wrong, though. I've never lived there myself.

Quote:
I love tradition too, btw. Smile And WOW at the people in your town. Yeah, that sounds like my born again half-sister...though she's told me 'at least I'm Jewish not Muslim'. LOL *eyeroll* She's actually generally very cool about it, though I fear for my nieces (neither she nor their father condone the teaching of evolution).

Yeah...welcome to what I grew up with. My family is like that, as were most of my friends growing up, except for the "generally very cool about it" part.

Quote:
Considering your experience, your reaction to believers in general is pretty damn understandable. Although you mentioned synagogues...surely the Jews didn't try to convert you? That would be most un-Jewish of them.

You're absolutely right, I have never had a Jewish person try to convert me. Pretty much all of the complaining I have to do is specifically directed at Christians. I've actually asked some Jewish people about their faith, because I was interested and no one had ever brought it up to me. I've been to a few Bat Mitzvahs, and a Yom Kippur celebration, and I thought they all were very cool. I really like Jewish traditions. When I was a kid, I had this book called "The All-of-a-Kind Family", and it was about a Jewish family living in NYC many, many years ago, and it discussed their holidays in detail. That was one of my favorite books, and it made me wish I were Jewish when I was a kid. I still go check out Jewish holidays and ceremonies whenever I get the chance. Jews have beautiful traditions, and unlike Christian traditions, they don't bring up angry memories.

Quote:
I've had maybe 4 Christians try to convert me and maybe a few more than that atheists. Mmm hmm you read that right. But I think that's skewed because I know more atheists than I do Christians.

So actually, percentage-wise, you've probably had fewer of the atheists try to convert you than the Christians? Wink Sorry, couldn't help it; now I'm just being a wise-ass.
fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Quote:
When someone thinks you're a certain way, just because you're a believer, use it as an opportunity to prove them wrong.

That's true - and I'm honestly not TOO bothered by people automatically assuming I'm a delusional moron because I believe in God - but I do care when it's someone I LIKE (such as you), and beyond that, it's the principle. There are other people who may feel hurt but not have the ability (or desire) to defend themselves, and so I feel responsible to defend all the believers who are maligned whenever people start generally bashing them.

Quote:
I also think that people forget about Jewish people a lot, and when they generalize about believers, they tend to mean Christians.

Can you see how this is annoying as hell for a variety of reasons? *rages* Btw, feel free to come eat my delicious Jewish seders (with LOTS of wine - one of the best things about Judaism is the whole - hey, it's a holiday, GET DRUNK! attitude. We're a merry bunch.)

You're right about the Cape - huge seasonal demographic changes. However, I left home when I was 11, so it's more complicated. I'm surprised CT is so religious, though I can see it being more so than the Cape, certainly.

And LOL. Generally, I'm too strong a personality - I do the converting, damnit. Biggrin

Davik's picture

Embodiment

fairnymph wrote:

Quote:
On the other hand, I have never met a religious person, as an atheist, who hasn't tried to convert me.

WOW. That really gives me a whole new perspective. Considering your experience, your reaction to believers in general is pretty damn understandable. Although you mentioned synagogues...surely the Jews didn't try to convert you?

This is really about the same thing I've run in to, which is why I largely don't advertise that I'm an atheist outside of scientific circles. Inside of scientific circles converting isn't but of a problem, there are too many atheists running around, and most of us have that knee-jerk reaction that can be applied to a rear end readily enough Blum 3 I will say that I've never had more than an academic discussion on god and religion with a Jew though, which is why I tend to have more respect for the Jewish community. Fortunately I've also developed a vibe that the people trying to do the converting must pick up on; the gideons don't even offer a bible to me when they're on campus Blum 3

kalinka's picture

Postulant

I'm just going to throw in my two cents about religious vs. atheist aggressiveness. I will also try not to make sweeping generalizations.

I'm from the south, which is mostly a religious place (various religions, etc). In my experience, most people are raised in some sort of religious home that practice on various levels, from only major holidays to every Sunday. So, when people break away from this religious mold, they tend to be a little more aggressive if they turn to atheism due to societal values about it. This isn't true of everyone, and I know plenty of atheists/agnostics who are not aggressive with their beliefs, but I also know a lot who see every southerner who has not "seen the light" like they have as backwards, stupid, and unable to think for themselves.

This is also true of religious people down here to an extent, but I also know many religious people who are not at all aggressive with their beliefs, and who ascribe to a more "live and let live" philosophy. Many of the people I know and hang out with are religious and have never tried to convert me. (Now, I might just gravitate towards that, but that's what I've been around.)

What I'm saying is, in my experience, atheists tend to feel like they are more of a minority down here, and sometimes victimized (not everyone, I just know people like this, so I thought I'd add), and this leads to more aggressive behavior towards religion. I also felt like this for a while myself, when I "broke away" from religion. I mostly thought derisively towards those who still believed, and I felt relieved that I had "seen the light."

This is no longer true, and I have since returned to a belief in God, but I thought I would share this. Sorry if I sweepingly generalized, I really tried not to.

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

I don't think you over-generalized. Thanks for sharing. It's good to have information like that. When you converted to atheism, none of the religious people tried to get you to come back? What made you return?

I think I did feel somewhat victimized in my home town, but I've since gone to a university where it seems like everyone is thoroughly agnostic, so that is no longer the case. Interesting, though.

kalinka's picture

Postulant

Well, in my case, I don't think I ever completely stopped believing in God. I think I was pretending, but I was pretending to myself and therefore ignoring it. What sent me towards atheism was a combination of factors, including becoming disgusted with the people at my church, despising established religion in general and reading books by Ayn Rand. (That last one is partially a joke.) I stopped attending church, and it just sort of worked out that after that none of my friends or acquaintances were of the converting type.

I just didn't really feel it anymore and I stopped actively believing in God (that's the best way I can put it).

Now what brought me back... well, I never stopped thinking about it. I recently (as in the end of last year) started to realize that maybe I did still believe in God. This rocked my world a little. There were a whole lot of considerations involved, but that's what it came down to. And this part is probably going to sound a little cliche, but then I came across this book.The author's beliefs didn't really change much for me, but there was this psychological break down of stages that just hit me where it hurts, so to speak. The book is Not The Religious Type by Dave Schmelzer, but the stages I'm talking about come from M. Scott Peck. This is it:

(warning: sometimes he generalizes about things and makes comparisons that I don't agree with, but the main message of the psychological change is what I'm pointing out here.)
------
"Peck talks about an odd thing he’d noticed in his practice. Some patients would begin therapy as deeply troubled, deeply religious people. He’d help them, and—to his mind—part of their clear growth would occur when they’d leave their religion behind. Other patients, just as troubled and then just as helped, would find faith as a result of their work together. What did that mean?

That question agitated Peck into proposing a four-stage theory of human spiritual and emotional development. He proposed that, in a perfect world, our spiritual development would exactly track with our emotional development. But, given our actual world, it rarely works that way. Traumas along the way can stop our growth in an earlier stage, which has implications not only on how we see the world but also in the way we regard other people and the purpose of life.

Peck’s first stage—I’ll call it the criminal stage—corresponds to the toddler years. Toddlers are cute and loving, but in the broader sense, they don’t care about you. They can’t. That’s not the stage they’re at. As they’re throwing a tantrum over a toy they’ve been denied, toddlers rarely stop themselves to say, “But you know, this isn’t the most important thing in the world, and I haven’t once asked how you’re doing, Daddy. Has it been a good day?”

You could make the case that people who get stuck in the criminal stage are often best served by two institutions: jail and the boardroom. Jail for obvious reasons. In stage 1, our lives are chaotic, which can feel horrifying. Without boundaries (something provided by good parents), we just grab for whatever we can get. Jail is the ultimate boundary, which explains why some criminals can be model prisoners, but when they’re released, they go on an immediate crime spree and get thrown—to everyone’s relief—back into jail.

But high-functioning stage 1 folks can often be quite effective businesspeople (or politicians or, God forbid, pastors), because they’re relentlessly focused on winning, on getting what they want, whatever it takes.

On the spiritual front, these would often be the addicts and criminals, folks who find God after hitting bottom.

We might call stage 2 rules-based. This would correspond to age six or seven. Now you care what Mommy and Daddy think, what they want, what the rules are. My oldest son had a memorable transition to stage 2 even as his younger brother was firmly in stage 1. My wife, Grace, and I are occasionally in quite expressive spiritual circles, which means that we’ve been in worship meetings where folks would, say, prostrate themselves, lift their hands, or even dance. Our oldest would survey the crowd to see whatever the appropriate behavior was and then he’d warily imitate it. Meanwhile, his brother would be taking laps around the room or heading for the stairs to the stage. The oldest would try to maintain whatever pose he’d taken while, through the corner of his mouth, spitting out his brother’s name, trying to get him to shape up. Finally we’d say to him, “That’s not your job. We’re the parents here. We’ll take care of it.” And he’d shoot us a look to the effect of, “Evidently not very well!” Stage 2.

Two institutions might best serve stage 2: the military and the church. The military, again, for obvious reasons. It has famously been a transitional institution for people coming from chaotic backgrounds. It’s where they find discipline and boundaries. But it was the church part that grabbed my attention. Peck argues that most churches are stage 2. They exist to tell people the rules, to set the boundaries of life.
He takes great pains not to judge this. He emphasizes that whatever spiritual things happen at these churches are undoubtedly completely real and that, to his mind, the teachings there are effectively true. The heart and soul of America and most countries are right here in stage 2. These are the good people who get things done and raise strong families. The larger point rests, rather, in how this and other stages interact with each other. So let’s go on for a moment.

Stage 3 could be described as rebellious. This corresponds to the teen years. At this stage, the healthy kid begins to question the rules she has been taught in stage 2. Why are they the be-all and end-all? What’s behind these rules? Often the answers the teen gets are not convincing, particularly if the world around her is stage 2. Then she’s most likely to hear, “Quit being such a smart aleck!” and not much more. This often hardens the teen into stage 3, and the wars begin between her and all things stage 2.

The institution that seems best to support stage 3 is the university. Periodically we hear cries of alarm from conservative circles that universities are monolithically liberal. And according to Peck’s theory, of course that’s true and always will be true. Universities are filled with eighteen- to twenty-one-year-olds, who—as a group—are transitioning into stage 3.

Whole societies, at the broadest level, can also reflect these stages. So, stereotypically at least, the Bible Belt might reflect Stage 2. And, meaningfully to me, Cambridge, Massachusetts—dominated by universities—would be stage 3 central.

Again, to recap what we have so far:

Stage 1: criminal

Stage 2: rules-based

Stage 3: rebellious

As we said, Peck was most concerned with the way the stages interact with one another. Stage 2 is an important but often embattled stage. On the one hand, in stage 2 religious communities, there’s the assumption that anyone outside of the community is stage 1, a lawbreaker who needs to find God—meaning: to keep the rules of life. Stage 3 is especially threatening to stage 2, because folks in stage 3 are seen as unique kinds of lawbreakers—they’re rebellious libertines!

In this way of thinking—forgive me if I’m offending any political sensibilities, and I’ll happily hastily backtrack if we ever chat about this—the Republican party would be stage 2 and the Democratic party, although perhaps not intuitively, would be a blend of stage 3 and stage 1.

Stage 2 and stage 3 each heap scorn on the other, but there’s a different feel to their scorn. The scorn coming from stage 2 toward stage 3 might be reflected in the use of the word liberal as a self-evidently shameful thing, as so obviously shameful you don’t even have to say why it’s shameful. And on the other side, if you were to take a drive in my city, you’d see hundreds of anti-Republican bumper stickers that all boil down to how obviously idiotic and beneath contempt stage 2 people are, leading one to wonder if the Republicans are standing in for the stage 2 parents of these drivers.

A fascinating and unexpected corollary in Peck’s thinking—central to his experiences with his patients that led to the formulation of his theory in the first place—is the observation that stage 3 is spiritual advancement from stage 2. And yet there’s every possibility that—if you believe in such things—in stage 2 you’ll go to heaven and in stage 3 you’ll go to hell. As the saying goes, stick that in your pipe and smoke it! Peck’s theory explains the contempt stage 3 folks often feel toward the stage 2 faith they’ve left behind, that strange brew that often comes out as something like, “I don’t believe in God, but I’m still more spiritually advanced than you are.”

Now, before going on to Peck’s stage 4, it’s worth qualifying this for a moment. Stage 3 folks are indeed spiritually advanced in one limited sense, but not in all senses. Let’s say a godly, faith-filled, stage 2 seventy-year-old, someone who has given her life to loving God and loving others, was walking through one of Cambridge’s many town squares and ended up in a conversation with some snarky, stage 3, nineteen-year-old. Who is more spiritually advanced? Obviously, in any meaningful sense, it’s the older, godly woman. But Peck’s point is that there is, nonetheless, a sense in which it’s the cocky kid. Hold that thought.

What stage 3 people usually don’t realize is that there is a stage 4, that there actually are answers to the questions they’ve been asking. You might call this the mystical stage. Here, one suddenly realizes that most of the things we were taught in stage 2 are, in fact, true, but in a much richer and more mysterious sense than we would have, or could have, imagined.

So let’s take this spiritual truism from the biblical tradition: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Stage 2 reads this as: Okay, as of today at 3 p.m., I did believe in Jesus, so I can take it to the bank that I’m going to heaven, whatever happens. I believe!

Stage 4, on the other hand, might well say: Wow, that’s one profound statement. I think I believe, but what does believe actually mean? Am I believing now? What might that look like? And saved. Saved in some meaningful sense now, or just saved after I die? Paul, after all, says a little later on in the Bible that what matters isn’t any outward religious thing we do (circumcision, for instance) but a transformed life, a life that’s being saved. Is my life being transformed by my belief? (Or perhaps it’s not the belief that’s transforming me but Jesus himself, in some sort of direct, mystical sense.) Wow! How?

You can see that stage 4 (mystical) is a stage filled with uncertainty to the same degree that stage 2 (rules-based) is, by definition, filled with certainty. Or, to put it differently, stage 4 is about questions; stage 2 is about answers. In this way of thinking, stage 2 looks at truth from the outside, as if it were a book that can and must be mastered. Stage 4 looks at truth from smack-dab in the middle of it, as if truth is everywhere and will take a lifetime just to begin to traverse (which is the joy of it).

Stage 2 folks tend to look at stage 4 folks with profound suspicion: They seem to be saying the same stuff, but every word out of their mouths is slippery. Why won’t they just “stand on the truth”? What kind of tap-dancing cowards are these people?

If there’s anything to this theory of Peck’s, perhaps you’ve guessed how it saved my life. I entered faith from stage 3. So when I went to resolutely stage 2 churches, I was baffled. It wasn’t that I disagreed with anything they were saying (even though, from what I understood, I often did disagree with some of what they were saying); I rather wondered why these things were worth saying at all. The things they talked about struck me as heady, as abstractions that I perhaps didn’t have any quarrel with, but I kept waiting for them to tell me something that would call me into the profound but hopeful and life-changing mystery that I seemed to be entering. Instead, I found their whole purpose was to remove all mystery, as if mystery were the enemy and certainty were what we were looking for.

Perhaps you’ll have guessed, as well, why so many Cambridge (note: where his church is) folks have found this stage 4 approach to be so significant. Many great people have been commissioned by vibrant, Bible Belt churches to come here and start a new church in the heart of paganism. These churches are often faith filled, but they almost always stay quite small. If Peck is right, stage 2, by definition, cannot reach those in stage 3. Stage 3 people, rightly, are never going back. We often meet folks who grew up in stage 2 churches, who led youth groups there, and who then went to college (that home of stage 3) and lost their faith. When they find their way back with us, what they realize is that—to their surprise—they never quit believing in God. What they quit believing in was stage 2."
--------------
from: http://notreligious.typepad.com/notreligious/stage-4-faith.html

Now, I don't necessarily buy into the minor details (or how he defines "criminal" and "spiritual", and how he talks about religions in general), but the psychology just.. well, it's me. To a "t". I think it will be interesting to see what ya'll think about it. I definitely lived a stage 2 (ha) life growing up, became stage 3 somewhere around the age of 16, and had a stage 4 AHH moment this year. Later in the book he also talks about "centered set" vs. "closed set" mentalities, where if you don't believe certain things, you can't be in the "clique". He discusses this as it applies to churches-- either you can have a closed-set church, where people who don't align themselves with your specific set of beliefs can't be in, or you can have a centered-set group, where everyone just wants to move towards a common goal (in this case, spirituality, God, etc.) and they may take different approaches to get there. In other words, the little things that we argue about, and the reasons for my disillusionment with established religion, aren't as big of a deal.

I'm just offering this up for general discussion. What do ya'll think of the stages argument? It spoke to me for my personal experiences, though some of his assumptions tweaked me a little.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Oh my goodness. That was AMAZING. Thank you so much for sharing that! I don't know about every little detail - I'd have to read the complete work for that - but a LOT of that made complete sense to me. Like in the "this is exactly what I thought but didn't have the words for yet" kind of make sense. Wow. And now I need to go read Schmelzer's book and anything on Peck's work that I can find, to see if this really does mean to mean what it seems to here.

Wow. So cool. Thank you!

seia's picture

Devotee

It sounds like a decent way of looking at how people think, but I find the numbers attached to stages annoying. To me, it's a suggestion that a "higher" stage is somehow superior to another stage. The "not realising stage 4 exists" part makes it seem like stage 3'ers would "progress" to stage 4 once they learned about it, while some would consider stage 4 to simply be stage 2+doubt.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

Well, this could explain a few things... At least back in undergrad I pegged about as far out as you could get as an INTP. The whole argument about politics could really explain why I keep dreaming they'll hold the democratic and republican national conventions in the same city where I can get them both with the same nuke... I've never been able to stand either party, as one wants to control my thoughts and take my money (in that order), and the other wants to take my money and control my thoughts. In case you can't tell I have a RAGING problem with authority Blum 3

V's picture

Embodiment

Too bad they aren't seriously competitive, and the big 2 will be sure to keep it that way. Ditto Green and other independent voices.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

I'll give you one guess which political party garnered the majority of my votes last election... I may not have voted for many candidates who won in the election, but I didn't feel the need to scrub myself with steel wool and bleach while putting away a fifth of vodka when I left the polls.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I thought he was the best 'possible' candidate by far.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

But....yes. Agreed. I'm actually Green/Libertarian. Biggrin

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

I have a hard time reconciling Green (thinking Nader), which tends (to my understanding) to support fairly high levels of (Federal) regulation (at least in certain areas) with Libertarian, which tends to abhor (most) Federal regulation.

Do you struggle with any tension there?

The Which's picture

Embodiment

I think that with some creative thinking, the goals of the Greens and the libertarians could be reconciled. The Green party wants to give every citizen a voice, no one should be "subject to the will of another". GREAT! The Libertarian party doesn't want to be subject to another's will, either. Both claim that conservation of resources is important, both are for equal rights for everyone. Both want a less beurocratic government. Federal government out, citizens rights in.

The problem is the people that the parties attract, and I'm going to make some gross generalizations here. The Green party attracts die hard environmentalists and gun control advocates; the libertarian party attracts a lot of government conspiracy theorists and NRA types. They would do well politically if they merged, but I think that the obvious differences (like the gun issue) are too great for people to look at the end goal.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

Those are some issues though, I don't agree with anyone enough to pick a political party, but the libertarians are the closest. That said, the second amendment trumps even the right to abortion on my "let's get pissed off list", and I've spent hours out in a snow storm staring down the anti-choice crowd on the abortion issue. So yeah, I don't really see the two sides reconciling any time soon.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

Neither side makes sense to me. Not the people who think that no one should have guns, or the people who think they should have the right to walk around with a semiautomatic over their shoulder.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

I don't know if it's a mix up in terminology or what, but I fail to see why someone shouldn't be able to walk around with a semi-automatic pistol in a should holster (or where ever else they want to conceal it). As weapons go it isn't appreciably different from a revolver except in the number of rounds you have before reloading, and is probably the best choice for self defense.

As far as weapons regulations I can to some extent understand things like limiting full automatic weapons, but as someone without so much as a speeding ticket (not to mention a DoD security clearance), I feel that I should be able to fill out some forms and own them. I don't particularly want to shoot them, because they have no application outside of military (can't hunt with them, and don't target shoot for shit in anything except single fire), but some of automatic weapons are significant pieces of history. My all time holy grail of weapons is the StG 44 (Sturmgewehr 44), the WW2 German weapon that was the front runner of all modern assault rifles. This is closely followed by the Thompson. I'm not sure I'd be willing to put more than a couple of rounds through either of those because they're collectors items, but they had a serious role in shaping history.

On the other hand, things like the California ban on .50 rifles pisses me off. I'm a target shooter; I grew up with an air rifle in my hands and by the time I hit highschool I could hit a BB with another BB at 20 feet. Now, even being somewhat out of practice I pride myself that I can put about 40% of my shots into something the size of a silver dollar at 100 meters with iron sights on a .22. If you really want to start shooting for distance though, anything outside of 800 meters or so, you need a .50. It's not like any 50 cal would ever be used in a crime anyway, the weapons are huge (impossible to conceal), weigh a freaking ton, cost an arm and a leg (think eight grand or more to get started on the low end with optics), and make so much noise that everyone within a mile knows something is going on. Sure, you could step down to the Barrett .416 (at the same cost) to get past the law, but they only made the round to side step the law anyway (took a 50 BMG and necked it down so the bullet was smaller then the .50 cutoff).

The Which's picture

Embodiment

I dont know much about weapons. I've used my grandfather's antique shotgun to shoot cans, and that is the extent of my knowledge. By semiautomatic, specifically, I meant my drunk uncle shouldn't be able to walk into the local Meijer still carrying his military style hunting rifle. He's the only gun people I know, and he seems to think this should be ok.

I'm pretty sure that even in the gun-toting old West, you had to check it at the door.
ETA: in case that last statement wasn't specific, I was told at Connor Prairie (living history museum representing 1836 Indiana, so not really old west) that anywhere men gathered, you would find guns propped by the door.

V's picture

Embodiment

Weapons have been long restricted in places like taverns, even during colonial days, where you're likely to have drunk people getting into arguments in crowded conditions. The local store? Not so much. It might be more common to prop a rifle by the door simply because there's no practical use for it inside in times of peace--but it wasn't usually because of a regulation

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

Another .50 cal you are overlooking is the traditional smoke pole. Muzzle loaders are available in .45 and .50 but the majority are .50. In WI, I can put a scope on it if I'm using it for the regular season, but for the muzzle loader season, it can only be used with iron sights.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

Muzzle loaders and black powder weapons fall in to a completely different set of laws in most states; in Michigan they aren't even considered firearms (I had to register all my pistols except the cap and ball revolver). Shotguns also fall in to a different category, hence the 12-gauge shotgun still being legal, despite the 1934 National Firearms Act, which prohibits any firearm with a barrel larger than half an inch.

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

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

There are almost no weapons that I think should be illegal. I fail to see how owning a weapon is a crime.

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

I don't know that the issue is about ownership so much as use. And it's more difficiult to regulate use once ownership is estabilished. Also availiability. The easier it is to get a hold of a wepon, the easier it is to use it for a crime. Those that proport to protect the public need to be able to have the larger weapon to be able to do so. If say, something like a bank robery in LA happens, the enforcers need to be able to defeat the instigators before there is injury to the public.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

The easier it is to get a weapon, the easier it is to use it to defend yourself from a criminal. I don't think it's necessary for law enforcement to have the larger weapons either, just comparable, good training, and the support of the populace. On top of that throw in far harsher punishments for crimes committed with a firearm to deter illegal use.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

On principle, I don't think dangerous things should be illegal, no matter how dangerous their potential. I'm hard pressed to think of a single exception to this.

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

I didn't say I agreed with the notion, only stated the reasoning as I understand it.

Besides, in the LA example I gave, if the equipment was more available, the police and SWAT wouldn't have been scrabling to local outlets to find more powerful weapons.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

I would agree, though there are some toss up questions. Carrying a micro-uzi or similar full automatic weapon for personal protection around town makes you a menace to anyone around if you actually use it. Telling people they can't own that particular class of weapons because there's always going to be someone who wants to show he's got the bigger pair by having it is a slippery slope though. Once you've made that statement it's far easier to do it again, which is how we've lost most of our rights: one little nibble at a time. So which way do you go, preserve the rights of the people and accept that periodically someone is going to unload half a dozen rounds into a mugger and the rest of the magazine into the populated scenery? I'm not sure there is an ideal solution short of not having idiots in the population, and if I'm going to wish for that I might as well wish for a billion dollars, a harem or three, and everything else on my want list Blum 3

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

I'm going to go with no nukes. People should not be allowed nukes.

V's picture

Embodiment

We need to ban common smoke detectors RIGHT NOW! >.>

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

uncommons and rares are go.

V's picture

Embodiment

Without research, I am assuming that there are some types that do NOT operate using a small radioactive source of Am-241 or Ra-226. But most do Smile

OK, some quick research reveals that there are some photoelectric ones on the market, but they perform poorly against flaming fires with little smoke.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Ra-226 is not used in smoke detectors; while it alpha decays in the same manner as Am-241, the gamma produced by radium is far higher energy and much more biologically harmful. It's the same reason the fluorescent paint in glow in the dark gun sights uses tritium instead of radium (though tritium is a low energy beta).

V's picture

Embodiment

I could well be misreading the tables, but this chart for Am-241 seems to suggest 13 and 59 keV gammas on a regular basis while Radium throws a 186 keV gamma rather less frequently. Higher, sure, but we're talking source levels of a microcurie as a point source several meters from most people. Also, several sources mentioned Am-241 but only one suggested Ra-226 and that one seemed to be a very Green "OMG IT'S RADIATION" type of page.

Nonetheless, I do not advocate eating your smoke detector, especially in powdered form.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

My copy of nuclide navigator doesn't seem to be working at the moment and I'm way to lazy to go dig out my wall sized chart of the elements (the thing is so large that sophomore year I didn't have a wall large enough for it, so I taped it to the ceiling; my roommate would occasionally come home to find me standing on a chair staring at the ceiling). So, largely off memory, Am-241 has a significantly shorter half life (something like 400 years as opposed to 1600), so you need far less of it, and emits gammas primarily around 60 keV, which is barely above the x-ray range, and readily stopped by most materials. Ra-226 emits most strongly around 600 keV (in addition to a handful of minor gammas), which is an energy that has some significant penetrating ability. In addition, the decay of radium leads to radon which is gaseous, so the decay products aren't locked in to a nice little piece of foil. All of this is purely academic of course, because you could eat a few pieces smoke detector foil no matter the material and statistically never see any effects. It takes a lot of radiation to hurt a person Blum 3 Of course the fun part of both of these, is that if you mix them up with beryllium, you get a neutron source, which is a completely different game with some rather unique possibilities.

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

Radioactives are fine. Just no keeping them in the same room as the explosives.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

::wraps arms around pile of nukes:: No taking my babies! You can't have the mutated anthrax either! :O

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

That's fucking weird to me.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Because most of them are native anti-gun type liberals who happen to identify more strongly with their "environment is everything" beliefs. I suspect a lot of the Green Party's platform is imported from the Democrats with the Green bits edited in.

(I hope none of that came off as offensively worded, because I was purposefully trying to avoid that. Y'all are a mellow bunch, but the internet is like evil social magic that instantly makes things come across as more blunt/harsh/whatever than intended).

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

But I am still sad. And it's not offensive.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

I'm just skimming over the '04 Green platform (available in pdf and html here: http://www.gp.org/platform.shtml) and seeing lots of things that most traditional Libertarian thought would squeal at.

The Greens wrote:
We call for restoration of a federally funded
entitlement program to support children, families,
the unemployed, elderly and disabled, with no
time limit on benefits. This program should be
funded through the existing welfare budget,
reductions in military spending and corporate
subsidies, and a fair, progressive income tax.

or
The Greens wrote:

Corporations receiving public subsidies must
provide jobs that pay a living wage, observe basic
workers' rights, and agree to affirmative action
policies.

Or
The Greens wrote:

We call for equitable state and national funding
for education and the creation of schools
controlled by parent-teacher governing bodies.

or
The Greens wrote:

Increased funding for the arts appropriate to their
essential social role at local, state and federal
levels of government.

&c.
I don't think it's just guns and nukes

ETA:

The Greens wrote:

We advocate subsidies for organic foods

and
The Greens wrote:

a. A publicly funded health care insurance program,
administered at the state and local levels.
b. Lifetime benefits for everyone. No one will lose
coverage for any reason.
c. Freedom to choose the type of health care
provider, with a wide range of health care choices.
. . .
o. Establishment of a National Health Trust Fund
that would channel all current Federal payments
for health care programs directly into the Fund, in
addition to employees' health premium payments

The beat goes on.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

:: shudder :: I always just stopped on the nuclear power issue when reading them...

The Which's picture

Embodiment

The Greens wrote:
We call for restoration of a federally funded
entitlement program to support children, families,
the unemployed, elderly and disabled, with no
time limit on benefits. This program should be
funded through the existing welfare budget,
reductions in military spending and corporate
subsidies, and a fair, progressive income tax.

The words "reductions in... spending" are in there, so that's what I'm going to go with Wink

The Greens wrote:

Corporations receiving public subsidies must
provide jobs that pay a living wage, observe basic
workers' rights, and agree to affirmative action
policies.

OK, so get rid of public subsidies for corporations!

The Greens wrote:

We call for equitable state and national funding
for education and the creation of schools
controlled by parent-teacher governing bodies.

Uhhhh.... controlled by parent-teacher is better than NCLB?

The Greens wrote:

Increased funding for the arts appropriate to their
essential social role at local, state and federal
levels of government.

Got nothing.

The Greens wrote:

We advocate subsidies for organic foods

and
The Greens wrote:

a. A publicly funded health care insurance program,
administered at the state and local levels.
b. Lifetime benefits for everyone. No one will lose
coverage for any reason.
c. Freedom to choose the type of health care
provider, with a wide range of health care choices.
. . .
o. Establishment of a National Health Trust Fund
that would channel all current Federal payments
for health care programs directly into the Fund, in
addition to employees' health premium payments

*sigh* You win. I still think it's possible for an individual to hold the two views simultaneously, but yes, they do have irreconcilable differences.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

...that's what I hate about Greens. I'm not really into social services.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

My philosophy is:

Rarely is government the best solution. But when it is, it had better serve the interests of the common people, not the corporations.

V's picture

Embodiment

I do support responsible care of the environment. I don't support the level of crippling bureaucracy and restriction that some of the more vocal Green candidates seem to support, but I will support anything that moves us away from the 2-party system until there's other horses in contention. My philosophy runs more Libertarian.

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

*room gets brighter* We could start a new political party.

The Piggin Party, Where pork rules. It would fit right in with the current government.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

bwahahahahahaha! Points for you! Hee!

Eatin' is the only thing a fat hog is good for. Damn destructive beasts...

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

It's a good way to dispose of a body, too.

... Or so I'm told. Don't ask.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

One of my friends in undergrad who was regularly around for the various dinner parties I put together was majoring in forensic anthropology. It was pretty much inevitable that several long conversations of ways to get rid of bodies without getting caught would come up. She confirmed that a pig farm is a valid one. Now if only I could befriend a pig farmer I'd be one step closer on my plans of world domination Smile

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

But yes, I do struggle with the fact that both parties have major problems. If I could vote, I'd vote for whichever party was likely to win, simply to break the current duopoly - although I also often consider the candidates, more than the party itself. I loved Howard Dean, and I liked Ron Paul.

Here's a breakdown of my political priorities:

1. planet earth - HUMANS NOT necessarily INCLUDED
2. civil liberties
3. justice/protection of private person and property
4. limited government (ESPECIALLY bureaucracy)
5. restricting corporate power (I'm sort almost anarchist when it comes to corporations; I'd prefer actual businesses be small and local)

1 & 5 are Green, 2-4 are Libertarian. But 1. trumps all. Basically, I oppose federal regulation in general UNLESS it's environmental or corporate, in which case I'm all for it.

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

although of the issues you listed there, I think I go: 2,3,1,5,4.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

this ranking would be 2, 3, 4, 1, and a lukewarm 5

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Ah, it takes all kinds. My biggest disagreement with your list is the bit about "humans not necessarily included." My priorities are generally founded on preservation of self, friends/family, preferred form of society/culture, humanity, and then the earth, in that order. Of course, being good stewards of the earth happens to be pretty dang important to sustaining me, my livelihood, my preferred society, and humanity...

Also, corporate and environmental regulations are some of the worse things government does to farming these days at all levels (the other one being the inept handling of the immigration issue), so I have to disagree with you there, too.

But with those tweaks and a slight re-ordering, I can buy it. I'm not sure if I like the government-of-the-week system you get in the multi-party parliaments elsewhere, but it really is a pity we don't have more customizable political parties here in the U.S. It'd make those red/blue electoral maps a lot more colorful, for one thing Wink

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

The environmental regulations - well, yes, many things which are environmentally destructive are profitable, so there is a conflict of interest. The corporate thing though....I would think that would HELP many farms? So I'd love to hear some more detailed thoughts from you, since I have only basic knowledge of farming and livestock industries.

Most people prioritise humans...it's pretty, well, human. Blum 3 But I'd rather be a tree, if I could be. I would prefer some idyllic system which balances human life and the planet's health (as I perceive) it, I am just not entirely sure if we are capable of reaching such a point, and if so, quickly enough.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

I'd rather be a human Wink That actually reminds me of a running joke between me and my husband going waaay back to when we first started dating. "But if you were a kitty, how could you love me?" Yeah, you had to be there.

That said, a good farmer (by which I mean a system like in the US where farming is a career or a vocation, not a subsistence existence) takes the long view and in the long view, destroying one's environment is never profitable. The problem is very often in the details. We have lots of tools and techniques that are resisted or excessively regulated because they got a negative public image that may or may not have anything to do with the reality of their application or impacts. Think "Silent Spring" and DDT. And any time the government regulates something, they make it more expensive ("okay, you can use this, but only after paying this fee and filing these permits and keeping these records and then if you slip at all you have to pay these fines..") even when we do get to use it.

As for corporate regulation, here's the latest example taken straight from my NYFB "head's up" email:

President Obama's proposed budget seeks to phase out government payments authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill to America's food producers. The Administration is seeking to save $9.8 billion over 10 years by eliminating payments to farms with sales of more than $500,000 annually...regardless of net income for the operation or the number of farm families that the operation supports!

In New York, many farm families have more than $500,000 in gross sales, but with high operating expenses, decreasing commodity prices and increasing input costs, their net income is far smaller. And, many New York farm operation are supporting multiple generations of the same family. If this proposal is implemented, approximately 1,350 New York farms will be excluded from Farm Bill programs.

My family's farm would be one of the ones that will probably be excluded if/when this goes through because we gross a million a year (very roughly) to pay our bills and then support, my family, my uncle's family, three generations of the Gonzalezes, three generations of the Perezes, plus another eight or ten single employees and supplementing my grandma's retirement. Even worse, we're a CORPORATE farm *gasp*. The three stock-holders are my father, my uncle, and my aunt. Something like 98% of corporate farms in the U.S. have just as many stock-holders as ours - a few family members.

Now, we could get into the whole bit about whether or not we should have those direct payments, but the fact of the here-and-now is that those direct payments are factored into the market pricing and food production system (like the ever esoteric federal milk pricing system wherein the *gov't* determines what our base price is every month). So even if the carpet is an ugly shade of puce, having it yanked out from under our feet in the middle of a global crisis isn't a pleasant prospect. Also, it makes for cold feet and it's still winter here Sad

And that's just ONE example.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

So are you publicly traded? If so can I buy stock and take dividends in tasty tasty goat? Smile

V's picture

Embodiment

"Corporate" for purposes of discussion here seems to be defined as sales of $500k+ meaning that you employ more than one generation of a single family. You might employ a close network of only a few families and still earn this label, which was the point of the complaint.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Quote:
We have lots of tools and techniques that are resisted or excessively regulated because they got a negative public image that may or may not have anything to do with the reality of their application or impacts.

I am sure this is this case...but it is still true that some practises which are harmful would be likely used without any regulation at all. So who decides? Nyah

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Oh, I agree. Not everything is wonderful and sometimes the undesirable effects don't show up for a while. Just like there's always a few bad apples that make things burdensome for the rest of us in many other situations (nut cases the use guns for killing sprees leading to tighter gun regs, for example).

My suggestion would be that practices be scientifically evaluated through multiple studies (preferably with multiple funding sources) to compare them to standards also established through research, but with the final rules subject to an advisory committee made up of key representatives (relevant, widely respected, bipartisan, non-extremist reps from both producer and consumer groups) and a public commentary period.

A lot of proposed new regulation seems to emerge that strange family of food/health hysterias and paranoias (you know, the same crowd that says vaccinating kids against whooping cough is evil and that drinking colostrum is going to improve your health), or is otherwise influenced by policy fads and socially manipulated emotion trends (heard of the recent "cow tax" debacle?). Granted, there's enough sanity in our current system that the worst of them don't make it, but still, it's unnerving. I want my rules multiple-times by multiple-people over many years validated, not tried in the court of public opinion. I am SO glad that New York doesn't have the ballot initiative system that states like California do. That's where screwy business like Prop. 2 and Prop. 8 come from.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Still consider voting for me as Ruler of the Universe? Biggrin

I presume you'd want the same sort of protocol for new methods/products before they are made available to farmers etc?

Davik's picture

Embodiment

You as ruler of the universe would seriously get in the way of my plans for world domination Blum 3

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I already have a cult. Just ask V!

Davik's picture

Embodiment

Bah. When was the last time you heard of a cult with a doomsday device? Mad scientists on the other hand, especially those bent on world dominiation, that's what we specialize in }:)

V's picture

Embodiment

The secret rites of initiation can only be performed by webcam or in person, but then you have access to the sect's innermost files and plot outlines.

As The Which pointed out while we discussed the story: Somebody's going to die soon....

The Which's picture

Embodiment

Like this:

In our cult initiation, Meilin told us Somebody's going to die soon

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

You could be head of science, however! Smile

Davik's picture

Embodiment

I sense a threat to my violent and blood soaked future reign... I'm going to have to keep an eye on you Wink

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Well, most new farming methods/products don't really require that intense of a review. ("Ooh, look, Ma! A new design fer potato harvesters! Sez here that it can dig up a whole acre in jest an hour!"). Only if the potential for major negative side-effects warranted it, but then, yes.

And no offense, I'm not voting for *anyone* to be Ruler of the Universe. If it all goes to hell in a hand basket, I'm gonna make sure everyone in our farm's families becomes a good shot with a hunting rifle and make sure our property lines are well marked - with the graves of no-good, anarchist, food-stealing trespassers Blum 3

Davik's picture

Embodiment

No one votes for ruler of the universe, which is why I need my doomsday devices }:) As far as things going to hell in a hand basket, there's a reason I always have a decent little store of ammunition on hand.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Dictator would be more accurate. }:)

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

Sorry Davik, Fairnymph is better looking so I'm going to have to support her. Upside is, you only want to rule the world so maybe she'll still let you have that fiefdom in her universal dominion.

judisheshok's picture

Postulant

My Animal Science/Biological training kicks in and screams: COLOSTRUM ONLY WORKS IF YOURE HOURS TO DAYS OLD. Otherwise, it doesn't cross the intestinal lining, and is wasted.

THE MORE YOU KNOW, The less things that make you look stupid.

Andrea's picture

Supplicant

That's kind of cool. I've always assumed it would only be useful in the first hours/days, but I didn't know /why/.

judisheshok's picture

Postulant

I don't recall the time for humans....cause all mammals...well, eutherian mammals for sure, produce a colostrum for the first few hours/day. The intestinal lining is only permeable to the larger antibodies that the mother's body is delivering in the colostrum. In cattle, particularly dairy cattle, calves are allowed to nurse for the first hours/fewish days to obtain the mother's granted immunities, and then removed so that we humans can get all the dairy deliciousness that is milk.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

Because A) a google search isn't turning up any easy links to verify this, and B) I'm not sure why a newborn's immature digestive system would be more capable of digesting anything than say, a 4-month-old's.

ETA: Dang, I keep doing that to you! I see now you are talking about the antibodies, not nutrients.

judisheshok's picture

Postulant

Tis alright.

But, it is teh truth. I may have roughly paraphrased the basic idea, but 'higher' evolved mammals, say a cow versus a platypus, do produce colostrum and it is only useful to the young in its delivery of antibodies and other environmental immunities that the mother has experienced in the first few hours to day--ish, depending on species, and is only useful for as long as the intestinal lining is permeable to it. It also is a good source of all the fun stuff that a brand new baby is gonna need starting off in the outside world like carbs and protein.

Which, is why the people who think that drinking colostrum is a good thing are....different.

Not to say that there isn't positive possibilities with colostrum...just not normal unaltered colostrum, human or bovine.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

That was my implied point, back when I first posted it. Wink

The "grace period" isn't even days - it's only hours. A local study our vet shared said that in Holstein calves, the gut wall was 50% closed after 6 hours (IgI transfer still barely useful) and 75% closed after 12 hours (too late, you now have an immuno-compromised calf). IgI is Immunoglobin I, the primary source of passive immunity. It's a big honkin' protein, and like all proteins, a normal gut would break it down into its amino acid components for absorption. In newborn mammals, however, the gut wall is initially "open" - it's super permeable even to huge nutrients like intact proteins. Of course, this also means that bacteria can cross the gut wall with ease during the vulnerable period...!

Colostrum is still more dense than normal milk with fat, protein, and sugar, so we'll feed it for up to 36 hours to get the concentrated nutrient goodness into the babies, but it's my job in particular to make sure every calf gets its first meal in that initial 6 hours.

V's picture

Embodiment

Capriox wrote:
Also, corporate and environmental regulations are some of the worse things government does to farming these days at all levels...
I tend to agree. I also don't favor massive farm subsidies and tariffs...let the competitive crops and industries thrive, wherever they're based. It's no accident that most other countries use sugar in their soft drinks while we use high fructose corn syrup. What are your thoughts? (I'm not being rhetorical or sarcastic)

ETA: Don't get me started on bullshit ethanol subsidies or I will be ranting for a long time >.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

As someone who is generally pro-free markets, I'm not a fan of them either. Here's the big part of the problem, though - the U.S., like all governments, has a deeply vested interest in their country's food supply. Hell, managing the food supply is where we got civilizations, taxes, and bureaucracy in the first place. In the modern era, you get things like the Doha round of trade talks (failed in large part because countries didn't want to give up protections on their domestic food staples), the federal milk marketing order, subsidizing the the big five commodities (corn, wheat, soy, cotton, and rice), etc.

I could give you an example with current milk prices, but my head aches just thinking about it. It's gonna be long and even I'm no expert in it (the federal MMOs are so convoluted that almost no one understands exactly how it works; mebbe some federal bean-counter in a windowless basement cubicle somewhere understands it perfectly). Suffice it to say that due to a program established to deal with the Great Depression's effect on the food supply, the U.S. gov't gets to monkey around in the dairy pricing market. So when they screw things up (like now), you better believe we want compensation which currently takes the form of the MILC payments that kick in at certain price/cost ratios (even more screwy business there)... Urgh.

As to the big five commodity subsidies in particular - that was one of things that was tweaked in the 2008 Farm Bill. All the "minor" commodities and "specialty crops" (you know - dairy, apples, carrots, cabbage, beans, peas, peaches, oranges, beef, pork, chicken, peanuts, strawberries, onions, garlic, potatoes, maple syrup, farmed fish, beets, tomatoes, lettuce - I can keep going...) are getting more support in recognition of their importance to the *health* of America's food supply, as opposed to sheer volume of calories at least possible cost. The big five still take the cake, but getting even that much change was a huge step in the right direction.

There is tons and tons and tons written about this by better informed people than me that I can refer you to, if you're really interested. As it is, this post has already gotten way too long. Sorry! Also, I think we've officially hijacked the thread since we're now on modern agricultural trade policy from starting out in "what are your spiritual beliefs?" ;-D

V's picture

Embodiment

Capriox wrote:
Also, I think we've officially hijacked the thread since we're now on modern agricultural trade policy from starting out in "what are your spiritual beliefs?" ;-D
You forgot firearms, politics, nuclear smoke detectors, personality profiling, dieting, appropriate comma use, sociopathic humor, kosher food, porcine intelligence, the origins of HIV, castratos, and whatever I forgot to include, so I don't think we're breaking any new ground.

That's just this thread, of course.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

Not so broken as a prior experiment in breakage (for those who missed it)...
http://www.meilinmiranda.com/node/985

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

Why can't you vote?

Davik's picture

Embodiment

My problem with the greens is that their stance on nuclear power generally shows that they don't know a single thing about the technology other than a few buzz words like radioactive waste and proliferation. As someone with degrees and experience in the nuclear field this tends to piss me off to no end Blum 3

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

And yes, I agree. ENTJ, here. I'm sort of surprised you're a P!

Davik's picture

Embodiment

Out of curiosity, why is the P surprising?

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I think in part because I tend to assume that scientists are NTJs - which is wrong, and my late husband was a chemist and an NFP so I really have no excuse. I think I tend to misattribute various traits; i.e. I tend to view strictness as a J trait, though it's often a T trait. You also seemed very ORDERED and that's a J thing to be sure.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

From wikipedia:
"INTP types are quiet, thoughtful, analytical individuals who don't mind spending long periods of time on their own, working through problems and forming solutions. They are very curious about systems and how things work, and are frequently found in careers such as science, architecture and law."

Also, you think I'm ordered? That is absolutely hilarious Biggrin I'll pull it together to maintain scientific order in lab, but my desk always looks like a small bomb went off. My spice cabinet is even worse; it's a full cabinet with bags and containers (many of which are unlabeled) stacked on top of each other until there's no more room and it's spilling over into the cabinets on either side (a bag of Korean chile power in with the tupperware and the like).

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Definitely P then!

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

fairnymph wrote:
I disagree. I think modern secularism (which I'm not singling out, as I think entrenched religion is just as bad) has resulted in a tremendous number of atheists who embrace atheism as blindly as religious fundamentalists embrace religion. My brother is a classic example; he has never been interested in religion, had virtually no exposure to it, and writes off every religious or spiritual person without thought. Now, I'm not saying that my brother even needs to be exposed to religion - I know him well enough to doubt he'd ever become spiritual let alone religious, and he's a good, happy person as he is - but his sheep-like lack of faith, his refusal to ask questions and look outside his box DOES bother me.

... overstating your case. There isn't exactly a tremendous number of atheists to begin with, not even in a strongly secular country like France (31%) or the slightly less secular Germany (about 25-30%), let alone a strongly religious country like the US (about 10-15%). What is certainly true is that the atheist nut cases finally seem to have attained sufficient numbers and organization to make themselves heard with some regularity and have thus started vying with the religious nut cases for chances to embarrass both themselves and less nutty followers of their particular belief system as well as anger everyone else. As such, I don't think the proportion of nut cases is higher among atheists, except maybe by what can be accounted for by the relatively larger proportion of newly-converted atheists (newly-converted anythings being people who regularly tend to display a more than average fervour in their freshly acquired aspects). They are just more visible in an overwhelmingly religious society.

fairnymph wrote:
And I brought up M-B because in addition to being obsessed with it, I think that both the political and religious issues boil down to N vs S. We're both very strong Ns, and Ss make up 75% of the population. Ns are naturally (being vastly superior :P) inclined to react poorly to anything they mentally consider an 'S' trait, even if it's not actually one.

I'm not sure about that, but then I'm only mildly 'N' myself as well as an F-T and P-J fence sitter. What, exactly DO you consider 'S' traits?

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I was talking about my peers, the people with whom I associate. I did not intend to imply generalisation for the US.

Quote:
As such, I don't think the proportion of nut cases is higher among atheists, except maybe by what can be accounted for by the relatively larger proportion of newly-converted atheists (newly-converted anythings being people who regularly tend to display a more than average fervour in their freshly acquired aspects). They are just more visible in an overwhelmingly religious society.

The vocal minority make everyone else look bad - always the case. Alas.

Quote:
What, exactly DO you consider 'S' traits?

I'm basically 100% N, so everything not me. Biggrin But seriously...see forthcoming post.

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

Quote:
I disagree. I think modern secularism (which I'm not singling out, as I think entrenched religion is just as bad) has resulted in a tremendous number of atheists who embrace atheism as blindly as religious fundamentalists embrace religion.

Since when does Secularism have anything to do with Atheism?

V's picture

Embodiment

kawaiikune wrote:
I had a long post written in defense of this essay, explaining logically and in a very persuasive way that you've misinterpreted it, that it's not smacking down believers, and that none of those negative implications you listed are actually implied.
I disagree.
Penn Jillette wrote:
So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God.
That's from the second paragraph, the one right after a very satirical example of "Well MY definition of God isn't like yours." It certainly does seem to be smacking down believers.

You do a better job of accepting other's views and not criticizing them so harshly, but fairnymph does make some points, too.

And me? Well, I've largely avoided this discussion but in a nutshell I believe in a God quite similar to the ELCA Lutheran vision but don't regularly attend services. I'm also a very big fan of the scientific method, but I do hold some things to be unknowable while realizing that boundary can shift over time.

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

I guess I interpreted that as "your beliefs need to be well-considered". It just seemed like such a happy essay about how life has meaning and love and sex and Jello and all sorts of wonderful things without God. It's all..."please, believers, don't feel sorry for me because I don't have God and you think I'm going to Hell. My life is wonderful and full of love and humanity and beauty and everything else, so please don't think it is empty and lonely because I don't believe in God."

I guess I even find a little guilty pleasure in the idea of smacking down some very specific believers because of the believers that I know. None of them are awesome like you and FairNymph and other people that seem to have actually actively questioned their beliefs and come to a conclusion. I know that you exist, but I haven't met very many people like you. I like the idea of presenting this essay to the sheep-like believers that just do whatever Pastor John or Rabbi Dave or whoever else tells them to do, and showing them that it's not the only way for life to have meaning. That's all. I wasn't trying to start shit. I just think that it's about happiness and humanity and love and about maybe thinking a little about what you believe, and trying to find a little evidence or reason that supports it. I'm with FairNymph in the end, I think. I just can't stand blind followers, of anything.

ETA: Sorry Capriox for making livestock look bad by comparing them to people who blindly follow things. I'm sure some sheep are probably very independent thinkers, and I know I'm insensitive to that sometimes. Wink

Davik's picture

Embodiment

I'll admit I skimmed some portions of this post because I spent all day in lab and have spent half the night mentally designing a microfluidic chip, but well written, and I've got to say I agree with most of it. I never actually had any belief in god, and in general the concept never mattered to me when I was young, despite some mild efforts on the part of my parents to bring me up christian. That said, growing up in a quite conservative town in the midwest I got more than my share of having people try to shove religion on me, which is part of the reason why I have a knee-jerk antitheist reaction. Dealing with 8 years of bush, and standing outside planned parenthood in the snow to be there in time to counter the local church coming to protest with pictures of "murdered babies" certainly didn't help either.

thedisquietedpen's picture

Postulant

...just fascination.

I went through several different periods. I identified as a Fundamentalist, a Neo-Pagan, an Agnostic... I even invented an odd religion whereby I worshiped two giant green, invisible lobsters (named Esmeralda and Keith) in orbit around the earth.

And now I'm stuck where I was before. I recently came to the realization that I never believed any of this stuff, but I was (and am) completely fascinated by it. I love going to church because I can sit there and hear these beautiful metaphors. About three-quarters of the way through the service, however, I start to get antsy.... I remember that there are people in the room who actually believe the unbelievable spewing from the mouth of the priest/minister/rabbi/pastor/vicar/leader. But I still LOVE the metaphors.

I hope that makes as much sense typed out as it does in my head...

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Religion redux: if you're interested, there's a bunch of posts on this topic already in this thread: God, Gods, Religion, and other such things...

ETA: sorry, kk, I didn't see your re-direct above. I'll leave mine too. It's a good topic, but the organizer in me wants to herd people into using already established threads.

Tirael's picture

hm, my bad. should have checked better if there already was an existing thread.
Oh, and kawaiikune, if i could kiss you i would. That is a beautiful answer, regardless of source.

Biestygirl's picture

Petitioner

I'm defined as agnostic, I guess, but I don't really worry about religion. I'm more spiritual than religious. I figure if the God(s) decide to meddle in my life then I'll sit up and pay attention, but until then, I'll just keep living my life as best as I can. I think it's more important to focus on being a good person and helping people rather than focusing on being a good *insert religious affiliation here*.

Poisonous Giraffe's picture

Devotee

I don't identify with any religion or non-religion, mostly I just don't care. I think the idea that there is some deity who created the universe is pretty interesting, and I like learning about different religions and their beliefs. I can't actually imagine believing in any of it. I guess I'm just not a spiritual kind of person. whether there is or is not a god type thing doesn't particularly bother me, and I have a hard time believing anything either way.
most religions seem like freaky hoaxes to me, and I'm not entirely convinced they aren't. as far as I'm concerned, if there is some kind of shiny magical deity hanging around, religions probably don't describe whatever it is with any accuracy. added to this, I just realized today that most of the things I've written recently have to do with the existence or non-existence of god/s. it's an interesting idea to play around with : D

MeiLin's picture

Most High

No2 mistook "piggin" for "pagan" and figured it was because we eat a lot of pig. So we've made a religion out of it. Our high priest is this guy.

Laureril's picture

Supplicant

http://pictureisunrelated.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/wtf-pics-reject...

Adorable little girl with a sign that made me giggle. Spread the piggin religion!

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I cannot conceive what this picture is about. Piggins do not proselytize. We just fry bacon and let the smell waft gently through the breeze.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... an undercover agent, planted to make the Piggins look bad. *nods*

Davik's picture

Embodiment

I've never believed in any form of god (and no, I don't capitalize the word in any context), even before I could really understand the reasoning for why religion bothers me as much as it does. My parents made an attempt to raise me christian, even sent me to Sunday school, but despite being a very well behaved kid most of the time I got myself thrown out of Sunday school Blum 3 These days I'm not as vocally anti-religion as I used to be as I generally can't be bothered to acknowledge religion, but it takes a truly extraordinary situation to make me set foot in a church.

Biestygirl's picture

Petitioner

Even if you don't believe or agree with a religion, it's polite to do things like capitalize God and Christian, even if it's not your cup of tea.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... to do with that. It's simply correct usage. 'God' is the name of the Christian god, like Allah is the name of the god in Islam. That both mean 'god' is quite besides the point, in that regard.

Incidentally, Catholic should also be capitalized, as it's a name. It is not, and never has been, a descriptive label for that particular faith, any claims to the contrary notwithstanding. The same goes for Christian.

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

Christian isn't descriptive?

'Catholic' also means 'universal', and like and like 'Christian', started out as descriptive. See the writing of Irenaeus for the first use in the context of Christianity.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... but are you anointed like Jeshua was anointed by Mary of Magdala? I think not. Hence, not descriptive.

The same goes for 'Catholic', especially in its meaning of 'universal'. The very fact that Irenaeus was railing against the Gnostic heretics shows how very much not universal the Catholic church was even at that time. Sure, it has always claimed that universality as the only legitimate Christian church or even as the only legitimate religion, and occasionally continues to do so in a much weakened form even today, but wishing something were true does not, in my book, make it so.

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

Do i need a direct license from Sarte to be an existentialist as well? 'christian' means, in the descriptive sense, one who follows Christ's teachings (Christian with a capitol C has many more connotations to it of course, especially in a post Nicaean Conference context).

And a universalist religion is one that demands everyone follow the same religion as part of its beliefs ("we believe in one universal and apostolic church" to borrow a line). Irenaeus railed against the Gnostics as *part* of his universal approach, they were different and, in his view, needed to fall into the orthodox view (or more precisely, *his* orthodox view).

Oh, and Irenaeus railed against 'gnostics' The Sethians sometimes used Gnostic as a title, but they gave way to the Valentinians by the time Irenaeus entered the scene.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... in the descriptive sense, "anointed". You, calling yourself Christian, are a follower of the teachings of Jeshua ben Yussef, called Christos in Greek. To go back to Sartre, you could call yourself an 'existentialist', or you could call yourself a 'Sartrist'. The reason why we capitalize the latter and not the former is the same as for why to capitalize Christian. Essentially, the label is derived from some dude's name and is closely associated with that dude to this day: Jungian teachings, Freudian slip, Marxist theory...

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

are so cool. Thanks for posting about that.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

I tend to hold (or want to hold, as I'm pretty sure that I dont believe it for sure) a more Eastern view on things, although I dont think it fits exactly into any mold. This series of neurons firing, this wiring in my brain that gives me a sense of "I," I often wonder if I will ever feel that again after death. What I want to believe is that eventually, my "I" will become part of a greater conciousness--everybody else's "I".

Completely unrelated to my personal beliefs, I waited on two catholic priests tonight. I gave them the "uniformed officer" discount Blum 3

MeiLin's picture

Most High

is what I experienced. YMMV.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

Would you describe it?

MeiLin's picture

Most High

in several spots throughout the site. Smile

The Which's picture

Embodiment

eeps. need to do my research.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

please don't take it that way. I just meant I can't write it out again, but it's here. Smile

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

I was raised a Southern Baptist, but I lost favor with the church when the minister condemned contemporary Christian music for not being "likable enough for God" or some such bullshit. AC/DC Talk and other such nonsense. I'm sorry, but last I checked, the Bible says make a "joyful noise unto the Lord" not sing only traditional southern baptist hymns unto the Lord.

But I digress.

I tried to find a religion that I could follow, even going so far as to start my own. I am the High Priest and Earthly Avatar of the god Zandu, something I may elaborate on in the future. I also tried to follow Pastafarianism, but if I am going to believe in a higher being, I would rather it not be a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Someone mentioned, either in this post or the other one linked, being Apatheistic. I like this word. I don't know the official definition, but I very much think I am one. There may or may not be some type of supreme being out there. I have no evidence one way or the other. Science can explain many things, but not everything. Faith tries to explain everything, but offers no proof, and asking for proof denies faith. It's all too much.

I am much too lazy a person to try and reconcile science and faith. I find I just don't care. The one point they both agree on is that this is the one life that makes a difference. Whether there is an afterlife or not, the one we have now is the one that matters.

Unless the Hindus are right. Then I'll get it right next go round.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

It's good eats!

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

Does it come with a free Alton Brown?

Wait. No, no. I am trying to lose weight. I don't know of I can be a piggin.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Try the Atkins diet. It's piggin-kosher ;-D

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

I married an Italian.

Atkins is not only out the window, but it's been tied to the back bumper of a car and dragged across the county line and cut loose in the country somewhere so it can be found by Alabama rednecks that think Deliverance wasn't just a good movie, it was a Bible to live by.

"You got a purty mouth, low-carb diet boy."

Freegrassn's picture

Piggin_Kosher as in Kosher and Piggin simultaneously?, or kosher as in accepted?
Because pigs and Kosher do not mix at all...

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

in accord with the dietary commands of the Piggin religion (discussed elsewhere on the thread: http://www.meilinmiranda.com/node/1069#comment-15306)

Biestygirl's picture

Petitioner

Dude, Alton Brown should be the piggin GOD! *drools* science+food = irresistible

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

I thought Alton Brown WAS God. Who knew?

Biestygirl's picture

Petitioner

Oh My Alton you were a piggin all along!!

Vayshe's picture

Petitioner

2 things

as ye harm no one, then do what ye will...

and

there is no one true way.

i believe that there is truth in every philosphy and belief structure. i try to find these truths and live by them.

thats it.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

I would encourage you to be more skeptical of other people's philosophies and belief structures...plus, I hate generalized statements about "all" or "every" anything.

Vayshe's picture

Petitioner

theres a HUGE difference between having respect for the beliefs of others, learning about them, understanding them, and accepting that there are many different strokes for many different folks, and blindly embracing those beliefs with open arms and an empty head.

i do try to learn from everything. i dont try to incorporate everything.
sometimes finding the truth in something is understanding that it will never work for you.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

ok--when you said that you thought there was some truth to every outlook (essentially), I started thinking of several belief sets where I don't think respect is required at all. If the truth you can find is "that's stupid," then I guess I can see that. I thought you were asserting that there was some actual value to every philosophy and religion, and I disagree with that.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

Isn't the first one a (or the) major rule of Wicca? I remember hearing it before, but I can't remember where.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

I've seen it attached to Wicca, framed just a hair differently (An ye harm none...)

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

It's usually referred to as the "Wiccan Rede" in that context; I've seen it a number of times & places like that.

My problem with the Wiccan Rede is that it's a bit anti-social. It fits very well with today's snarky, isolated, internet-raised culture in which it's okay to be a sarcastic, anarchist brat so long as you aren't actively beating somebody on up. It lends itself to the whiny voice "but you're impinging on meeeeee" which sounds a lot like "stop touching meee" in my head. What about taxes and social obligations? Those are impositions placed on you that can cause harm of greater or lesser extent. I can see how it appeals strongly to a sense of individualism, but take that a step further and you get solitary/isolationist. That runs counter to my concept of religion as spirituality shared in communal, organized setting. Not that I have a problem with other people who thrive following Wiccan or other neo-pagan traditions, but it certainly doesn't suit me and it doesn't mesh well with my hopes for my society and culture. I really really think that a lot of the tradition/institutional favoring values are being thrown out with the bathwater in society's obsession with individualism.

Not that I'm about to move to communist China. NO thank you! I just think we could do a much better job balancing individualism with institutionalism.

Anyway, to bring this back to a religious note, I'm quite happy with the Golden Rule. The great weakness of "Love your neighbor as you love yourself," is that it demands you love yourself first and that is something everybody struggles with. But that's good! The way I see it, the Golden Rule isn't just saying "play nice," it's also saying that you are expected to love (know, understand, respect, forgive) yourself.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

The Golden Rule is not "Love your neighbor as you love yourself," at least, not traditionally. I believe the original translation, or the King James Version, anyway, is "Whatsoever you shall have others do unto you, do also unto them."

That, oddly enough, doesn't require you to love yourself, but be very selfish in how you want to be treated. "I want you to treat me this way, so I'm going to treat you this way, too." instead of "I would treat myself this way, so I'm going to treat you this way, too." There is a fine difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Also, it seems I like commas almost as much as V.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Forgiven! If I'm gonna get picky about my translations, then I'd need to learn Greek and maybe Aramaic so I could go to the oldest (and presumably most accurate) sources and decipher it for myself. Hm... or at least go to Biblegateway.com and read as many different translations as I can understand to see what the consensus seems to be....

As it is, if my selfish desire for being treated kindly and with respect requires me to treat to others the same way, it's still a win-win in my book. You're right that it doesn't have quite the same challenge to grow in self/spirituality that my take on it has, but, well, I'd like to think that that's part of making my faith my own.

V's picture
Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

How does that old saying go?

"Name the Richard and he shall appear"?

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

the wrong -thought- about my "Richard," and it appears.
I don't even have to think it!

*cue sound effect: boi-oi-oing*

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

Why do I get the feeling I'm about to get Dick rolled?

V's picture

Embodiment

"I don't know if I can strike at unarmed women."
"I like Cale's strike at unarmed women initiative. All in favor?"

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

"Are you gathering blood in case we have to get the map from the swords again?"

...
...
...

"Yes."

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

...on the Wiccan Rede. It very specifically says "an it harm none, do as thou wilt". Which is fine, actually, as far as it goes. It doesn't say anything about what to do when and if there is the possibility of harm, and any interpretation of "only do things that cause no harm" or similar nonsense are based in the preconceptions of the individual person, not in the Rede itself. If the Rede, as I understand it, is about individualism at all, it is about placing firm (but perhaps occasionally wider than previously thought?) boundaries on the free expression of each individual.

As for the Golden Rule, it's pretty much my guide book as well, and I don't really subscribe to any particular one of the dozens of formulations that have been invented over the years.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

I was being a bit harsh, but more so on the ways I see that the Rede is open to misuse given the "fuck you, you can't tell me what to do" trend I see around me than on the Rede itself. It's just a bunch of words, after all, like any other philosophy. It's the people using (or abusing) it that are the problem Wink

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... it has in common with just about any piece of philosophy ever uttered on the planet or off. And it strikes me personally as a better philosophy (or a start of one) than most. Smile

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

that you're Wiccan, or just that you appreciate the philosophy?

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... that particular aspect of Wiccan philosophy. I don't know enough about the rest of Wicca, or even its main movements, to form a coherent opinion - let alone an attachment - to it. I may, as the fancy strikes me, read up on it some more, but I'm essentially an agnostic, atheist apatheist (I don't know whether there is a god or not, I don't really think so, honestly, but I don't really care either way), so I generally don't care about religion - any religion - in my life as more than an intellectual topic of discussion.

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

I would say the weakness of the love your neighbor proscription is that it only requires you to love your neighbor, and not the people a county over.

Also, in defense of the rede, you should keep in mind that it was probably at least partly a reaction to Crowley's 'Do as though wilt', Rather than a golden rule in and of itself.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Funnily enough, Jesus explicit defines who one's neighbor is in Luke 10:29-37. It's the parable of the Good Samaritan. I'm gonna get branded as a Bible-quoting hick here, but I can't help posting it because I just went over this story with the confirmands I'm mentoring and it starts with someone literally asking Jesus, "who is my neighbor?" The answer being: "Someone who shows kindness and mercy towards you, now go do the same."

(Biblegateway.com lets you do instant searches for any passage of the Bible in almost any possible translation, if you want to read for yourself).

I'm not familiar with Crowley or that line. Where's it from and/or what does it refer to?

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

"Love your neighbor as you love yourself" is actually from Leviticus, Jesus was quoting that.

His version does avoid the big flaw in the original, but it also removes the benefits, since it becomes more about charity and compassion for the downtrodden.

All in all not really even the same thing as the original idea.

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

Crowley was a famous mystic in the 19th/20th century (not sure of exact dates, he was alive and kidnapping Nazis during WWII though) . He founded a mish mash religion based around eastern mysticism, the Kabbalah, and a tiny bit of Gnostic stuff. He then named the religion Thelema, which is the name of the philosophy 'do as though wilt'. (in the original 'though' might mean you, god, or the devil, depending on the context) All of which would be trivia, except he's *hugely* influential, even if you've never read or heard of him, spending any time in counter culture you've definitely seen the echos of his work, Tarot cards come to mind, as does pretty much any non Jewish interpretation of the Kabbalah. The Wiccan and Satanist interpretations of the pentagram, etc.

Anyway, 'do as though wilt' applies to spiritual practices, so of course Thelema never took off in really huge numbers, and instead spouted other, less fluid religions, taking his stuff in varying degrees, and inevitably doing away with the idea of fluidity/nonexistence of rules (a necessary condition for a meme complex to survive long enough for widespread propagation).

Vayshe's picture

Petitioner

as ye harm no one.....

at least to me has a bit more depth and implication than that. im not taking about active harm either. take into consideration that in a social world where you cannot avoid interaction with others EVERY action has an effect. everything you do, every thing you say has an effect on someone. sometimes its small, sometimes its profound, usually its somewhere in the middle. therefor it is up to me to carefully consider my words and actions first, to be sure that i will not bring any sort of harm to another, by my words and actions or my inactions. responsibility goes a long way. no one can account for everything. and sometimes an effect is unpredictable. this is the effect of chaos in our lives. accidents happen, but it falls to each to make their best effors to be aware of what effect their words or silence, actions or inactions can have on others, and how far-reaching they may be.

also consider repeated actions or inactions which, taken alone may not have any real effect but cumulatively may have a far more profound effect. so it behooves us also to take the long view in everything that we do. admittedly i am human and have many failings, but i do try to hold this as my ideal.

on a final note, i would state that "harm no one" also refers to the self, which many would exclude. if you cannot have a care for yourself, how does it follow you can really care for others? not the "if you cant love yourself, you cant love anyone else" but that not caring for yourself will eventually break you down in some way and prevent you from exercising the same care for others

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

Didn't we have this thread once?

Of course, the question in that one was about gods and religion, this one is about belief, which is a slightly different question, so:

I believe everyone is wrong, including me.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

you and Vayshe (see above) oughta sit down and hash that mofo out. Wink

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

Hrm, i don't know about that, I could be misinterpreting, but it seems Vayshe described syncretionism in his/her post, which I gave up a long time ago.

I think if you look for the truths in different religions and ideologies, then you'll find, at best, the biases that those cultures filtered things through (even if they were filtering real Divine revelation), at worst you end up picking out your *own* biases.

That isn't to say I don't think there's truth in many religions, but most religions seem to fall into an orthodoxy trap either with their founding, or sometime before (or sometimes the first time) anybody bothered to write down the ideas that were being tossed around. The result seems to end up being, instead of each group seeing a piece of the elephant, everyone sees the whole elephant, has no idea what it is, then declares it to be a camel, a turtle, a giant space walrus, or a giant upside down squirrel. Especially in western culture, Plato left us with a rather nasty habit of thinking of things as having an absolute definition.

I've found it more useful to start with one set of ideas that seems close, and work from there, than it ever was to try and pull pieces out of the different belief structures.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

I was hoping to play on the sort of opposed concepts:
Angel everybody is wrong. even me
and
(b) everybody has -some- truth.

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

Oh, in that case I'm more than happy to oblige.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

is never wrong. Wink

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

I need a cite on that. TheGirl keeps encouraging me to not have it with every meal. :?

Davik's picture

Embodiment

is better with bacon. Just so long as it isn't that nasty low fat turkey bacon Blum 3 Hell, I even keep a little container of bacon drippings in the freezer for those foods that just aren't the same without bacon fat (like hashbrowns).

MeiLin's picture

Most High

They made turkey for sammiches. They made pigs for bacon and sausages. The butchers at my market secretly agree with me even as they try to talk me into trying their "delicious chicken sausages" (which sell more than the pork ones because of fat phobia). I ain't bitin'.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

Now a turkey sandwich with bacon on it, that's bliss. Speak of sausage now I really want to make some more, though it really seems like summer is more the time for homemade brats Blum 3

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Just sayin! And not all of it is low-fat. Beef bacon isn't, either.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Tell her it's against pigginism not to have some form of pork with every meal. Bacon, ham, spam (which is actually rather tasty and not at all bad for you), sausages, a chop. It's a religious requirement.

(we don't really eat pork at every meal. but this morning we had bacon and for dinner we had bratwurst...just sayin...)

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

Spam is definitely awesome, but it seems a bit fatty and salty to not be bad for you...

*Consumes way too much Spam Lite.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Eat the real stuff. Fat is good for you. Seriously. Your body needs fat to thrive. Don't eat transfats. The occlusion rate in my heart dropped by half when I started eating good fats. Don't get me started. Again. Wink

V's picture

Embodiment

Do you mean TheBoy's Girl? Cuz TheGirl, TheGirl's Boy, TheGirl's Girl, and TheGirl's Girl's Boy are all distinct from TheBoy's Girl.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

TheBoy's Girl.

kalinka's picture

Postulant

I learned from Oprah (which my roommate tivos every day) that bacon is actually better for you than turkey bacon by quite a bit. So there you go.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

You get a pack of bacon! And you get a pack of bacon! And you get a pack of bacon! Everybody gets a pack of bacon!

kalinka's picture

Postulant

hahahaha

Oh, I wish that was how the episode ended.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Is it because *most* turkey bacon is more processed? Because I think comparing fresh to fresh, neither would be more healthy.

kalinka's picture

Postulant

You're probably right. They were comparing normal store-bought bacon and turkey bacon for the audience of (excuse my stereotype) soccer moms. They didn't go into much depth, but I think the idea was that if you're going to eat bacon, go ahead and eat the normal kind if you have nothing against it because turkey bacon isn't going to do anything awesome for you that bacon doesn't do.

judisheshok's picture

Postulant

Turkey bacon is a paste/pudding product created from processing turkeys. It is then shaped and formed into....Turkey Bacon. Just. Ew.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

How about, 'the idea of bacon as something not from animals' is never wrong?

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

believe that eating pigs is unethical? I had assumed that you were keeping kosher when you said you didn't eat pigs, but I always thought of that as a religious imperative rather than an ethical question. Is it because of how intelligent they are? The whole thing is pretty interesting to me. Thanks!

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I grew up mostly vegetarian (chicken 3x a year, lamb once a year, with bacon/sausage very rarely at restaurants, hotel buffets mostly), but I completely gave up eating pork on principle when I was eight. I didn't become interested in Judaism until 10 years later. So while it's very convenient for me to keep kosher - as I also simply don't like seafood - it's more than just religion. However, I do find the fact that eating pork is not allowed another sign of how right Judaism is for me.

I won't eat intelligent animals (so pigs, dolphins, elephants) and also, I won't eat ones close to humans evolutionarily (primates) - it strikes me as a vague form of cannibalism. I also simply don't feel comfortable with the idea personally. I doubt I'd eat a cat or dog for similar reasons, but I'm not opposed to them on principal. I wouldn't eat them because they aren't kosher though; the only thing I do eat that isn't kosher is rabbit.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Wow, I thought I knew the dietary laws!

(One of my favorite moments on Futurama: Zoidberg is turned away from a Jewish wedding because he's some form of crustacean.)

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

lol-tastic explanation of why rabbits aren't kosher. In short, they chew cud but don't have hooves. Interestingly, it notes only hares, so I wonder if other species in the same genus would be acceptable?

Technically, a living crustacean (as a pet or whatever) would be fine at a Jewish wedding, but obviously that wouldn't be as funny. Biggrin

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

On the Kosher thing: Not eating pork or shellfish is easy. (I guess I could go without rabbit too...)

Not eating cheeseburgers is hard.

Also, just how smart are pigs?

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

Cheeseburgers aren't Kosher? Unless you mean mayonnaise.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

can't mix beef (at least...might be meat generally) with dairy. Some folks keep so kosher that they have separate implements for each of those two.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

Wow. Who knew God was so adamant about, in my opinion so don't flame me, relatively useless stuff. I can see how the Ten Commandments are to the betterment of people. I can see how other things (sorry, Biggest Loser is on and I can't focus) are also for the betterment of people.

Not mixing beef and dairy... wtf? What's the reasoning behind that?

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

Zandu Ink wrote:
in my opinion so don't flame me, relatively useless stuff.

uh...I can think of numerous examples of opinions worth flaming someone over. "the holocaust gets severely overblown by contemporary historians." "Black folks are, as a function of race, less inclined to monogamy than white folks." "God wants us to be able to own other people; even the Bible endorses slavery."

That said, I agree that God hating bacon cheeseburgers probably isn't what I'd expect God's priority to be...but who am I to argue with the ineffable wisdom of someone else's deity.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

I'm still not used to the whole forum lifestyle, though you guys seem a much more mellow bunch than I'm familiar with.

Can I quote you as saying God hates bacon cheeseburgers? I need to add something to my sig.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

You're welcome to quote it, as long as you give it enough context to make sense.

I tend to nitpick--there are a few folks here who do the same. Nonetheless, it's usually all in fun.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

"God says bacon cheeseburgers aren't Kosher."

rather than

"God hates bacon cheeseburgers."

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

I agree that God hating bacon cheeseburgers probably isn't what I'd expect God's priority to be.

is fine.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

I have a new sig. I hope you like it.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

hell, I hope YOU like it. It's attached to all your forum comments.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

I love it. That's why I wanted to use it. It made me giggle, and as a male, I don't giggle often.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

mmmmmmm, gender norms.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Generally speaking we're fairly mellow. The forum rule is: Assume the best of your fellow forumites. Assume that they are acting in good faith and kindness, and do your best to act in good faith and kindness yourself.

As for your proposed sig: BWAH! But then, I don't know how offended kosher/halal folks would be by that. I'd hope not, because that's funny.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

Let me say "OMG she responded to me. I'm never washing this post again."

MeiLin's picture

Most High

srsly?! I respond to all you guys eventually! Smile

Davik's picture

Embodiment

I'll fully admit there are a lot of the kosher rules I don't know, but most of the rules make a lot of sense when put in context. For a time when people had very little concept of disease and disease origins, the rules helped stop a lot of food born illness. For example:
Pork can carry trichinosis, especially historically (it's basically wiped out of the US pig population as I understand), which is fatal.
Rabbits can carry tularemia, which is or can be fatal.
Shellfish (far more so than fish) can carry a whole host of bacteria, many quite nasty.
I'm not positive on the mixing of meat and dairy, but since large amounts of both were preserved in some way (making cheese, drying and salting beef, etc.) this probably as to do with cross contamination of bacterial strains.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

Some people believe that meat and dairy together impedes digestion; these are also the people who think that you should never eat citrus fruit with a meal, so take that as you will.

The milk and meat prohibition comes from the Torah passage not to "boil a kid in its mother's milk." Oral tradition turned this into a warning against eating meat and dairy together.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

should they slip up, or decide NOT to keep kosher. For myself, I keep kosher for the most part because I agree with the underlying sentiments (I think there's something sad about 'cooking a kid in its mother's milk' and similar variations, and I don't like to eat intelligent creatures), and also because it's a hands-on way for me to remind myself that I'm Jewish. It's pretty much like any type of ritual.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

says it's to remind herself that she's kosher. She has separate dishes etc and I tease her every time she eats something from the supermarket deli. "Is that *kosher* curry chicken salad?" "Oh, shut up." Luckily she's one of my closest friends and I can tease her like that. Biggrin

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

And I get teased, too. I enjoy it. Any attention is good attention, well-meant even more so! Smile

Laureril's picture

Supplicant

If you apply the Kosher laws to the time when they were meant for (Mind you, this is from a Christian perspective, so I don't keep kosher, since God gave Paul the 'all clear'.) then they make more sense. Food preservation in the desert is hard without refrigeration... Why else would salt be SO important in the ancient world?

Example: Don't eat pig.
Pigs are capable of carrying a nice variety of diseases and parasites that transfer to humans. Prior to more careful preservation and cooking methods, these could be pretty dangerous, if not fatal.

Example: Separate milk and meat
Milk and eggs can harbor a variety of nasty bacteria and go bad pretty quickly without careful preservation. Even today, drinking raw milk can be iffy (and here I know Mei will protest, so I'll add that it's OK if you know its coming from a safe, carefully-monitored, nearby source and properly transported... etc.) IMO, maybe God was just trying to prevent cross-contamination.

Example: No Shellfish
Again, even today, they can be difficult to keep from going bad.

Maybe God just didn't want his chosen people dying of food poisoning?

Edit: Gah! Davik beat me to it. T_T Point still stands.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I do my own variation of kosher - variation from what most Jews who are Kosher do - well for one, I do eat rabbit, so I knowingly violate THAT. I also interpret the Torah literally. That means I'll consume cow's dairy + cow's meat in the same meal, but not directly together if I can help it. That means no cheeseburgers (I didn't start eating beef till after I converted so I essentially don't know what I'm missing), steak in butter sauces, etc. HOWEVER, I consider it okay to combined dairy from one animal with meat from another. So I could have a lamb-burger with cow's millk cheese, or a beef-burger with goat's milk cheese, and I combine any sort of dairy with chicken.

Pigs are very smart. They are smarter than cats or dogs, for example.

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

Buffalo Cheeseburgers are ok then? Could do that.

fairnymph's picture
Capriox's picture

Embodiment

I know that pigs are smarter than their sty-born reputation. However, I'm going to challenge your statement that pigs are smarter than dogs. Got proof? I know you can usually come up with study or three to link to for your other facts...

Cats.... are very good at being cats, and not at much else. Fortunately, I love 'em just the way they are Wink

Davik's picture

Embodiment

Despite my general philosophy that anything that can't get away or fight back is dinner, I think I'd have a hard time eating a cat. Cats are just too cute and I've always had cats around. Goats on the other hand... After making goat curry I've gotta say that all of you should either go find a goat farmer or send Capriox some money for a shipment of goat. In fact, I may have to go heat up another bowl and roll out another piece of naan....

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Aw man, now you're making me hungry again even though I just ate dinner. I wish I could cook 'em as well as I raise 'em. *sighs* (It's a special occasion for me if I use any appliance beyond a microwave or toaster oven in my cooking. Okay, and maybe a fry pan).

Davik's picture

Embodiment

The recipe I used the goat in isn't terribly complicated as far as technique:
http://www.meilinmiranda.com/node/1014
I imagine you could really just toss the stuff in a crock pot and let it go, and just eat it with rice instead of making naan (or some stores actually sell frozen pre-made naan that's acceptable). The only thing you might run in to is that cardamom is a little hard to find without paying an arm and a leg outside of asian/indian groceries.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Y'know, when a dear friend of mine got married, I gave her and her husband a delicious-meals-made-simple type cookbook and a "starter" set of spices. I just flipped through the cookbook and looked for what spices came up in those particular recipes. It might be fun to do that kind of gift again, though, and it occurs to me that you'd have a better idea of what spices a foodie would really appreciate, especially if it's pricey enough that they don't want to buy it themselves all the time. Any suggestions?

Davik's picture

Embodiment

A lot of it would depend on what type of food they were in to, but assuming they were something of a pan-ethnic foodie like myself ::goes and digs through the spice cabinet::

Saffron
Real cinnamon in sticks (not the cassia that is sold as cinnamon)
Green and brown cardamom pods (not really expensive if you hunt down an Indian grocery)
Decorticated cardamom (I don't use it as much as the whole pods, but it's lovely in coffee)
Vanilla beans
Truffle Oil (not a spice, but still useful)
Green and red pepper
Sumac (if you want something that may make them scratch their heads for awhile)
Celery seed (this one is fairly common, but it really adds to mashed potatoes and potato soup)
Epazote (used in Mexican bean dishes among other things)

That's about all that I'm coming up with off the top of my head, without getting in to the weirder stuff like asafoetida and aralia root (the latter I don't even have in my kitchen).

Davik's picture

Embodiment

Eating closely related species is generally a bad idea, as diseases are far more likely to hop among closely related species as they share common protein structures, immune systems, etc. Other than that, dinner is served as far as I'm concerned Smile

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I always wonder how many diseases humans have picked up from eating primates. And I wonder how much of my revulsion at eating them is some sort of built-in evolutionary defence.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

May have come from that very deal (might also have been a primate bite), I gather. Hypotheses vary...

Warning: my last training or instruction or anysuch in teh secks ed. is a few years old now.

Biestygirl's picture

Petitioner

AMEN! unless it's Canadian bacon, that's just blasphemy!

Wraith's picture

Petitioner

I actually saw a couple of people skirting around it, but the core of my spirituality (or lack thereof, depending on how you look at it) is a belief that no one person or group has exclusive access to the whole truth. My mom raised both me and my sister in the Catholic church, but she also encouraged us to have open minds and didn't stop either of us when we decided we wanted out (at approximately 14-15ish for both of us). I currently don't know what to believe beyond that, although there have been a number of theories I like, mostly because they're highly amusing. I kinda want to see some of your reactions to these:

1. This one is a blend of Christian and Hindu beliefs, and the basis is this is Hell. You live your life on this earth and if you don't live a good enough life, repeat. This one was developed by someone who was going through a rough time in her life, and fighting genetic chronic depression at the same time, so that probably explains the slightly fatalistic way of looking at it.

2. This one appeals to the sci-fi geek in me: There is an omnipresent, nigh-omnipotent force, but who knows if it's sentient or not (think the Force from Star Wars). I find this one kind of amusing because it allows for a lot more randomness and chance than many others.

3. There is a God, but he/she/it doesn't take much of an active hand in events, if at all. I like this because I see it as God being a kid with a science set. "I'll set this up, nudge here and see what happens *Big Bang*" I always thought it would be hilarious if nearly everyone was wrong and God doesn't have a plan, he/she/it's discovering things just like we are.

I'm sure there are more, but I kinda want to see where this goes.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I think most religions are simply different paths to the same fundamental truth. We vary in personality and so many other things, why wouldn't we vary in how we approach spirituality?

I also think all 3 of those theories have elements that are very well true. Though I don't think I'd say that life is Hell (though Matt Groening would!).

The Which's picture

Embodiment

I read a story in high school about Earth as a science project. The story takes place at the final grading of god's planet (it got a C). I did a bit of googling to see if I could find it, but no luck so far. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

The Vixen's picture

Devotee

1. This one is a blend of Christian and Hindu beliefs, and the basis is this is Hell. You live your life on this earth and if you don't live a good enough life, repeat. This one was developed by someone who was going through a rough time in her life, and fighting genetic chronic depression at the same time, so that probably explains the slightly fatalistic way of looking at it.

2. This one appeals to the sci-fi geek in me: There is an omnipresent, nigh-omnipotent force, but who knows if it's sentient or not (think the Force from Star Wars). I find this one kind of amusing because it allows for a lot more randomness and chance than many others.[/quote]

Oh wow! That's really close to what I believe too!

In fact, the second one is similar to a discussion that my Rebitzin and a friend of mine were discussing, except we do believe that the Force is sentient.

LaurenF's picture

Petitioner

I'm the daughter of a roman catholic mother who abandoned the church when she saw blatant corruption, and a father who was raised in an apathetic jewish family, who I have never seen step foot near a synagogue. I grew up in a small town where most of the families went to church every Sunday, and in grade school their children went to CCD (some sort of girl scouts for god sort of thing). I was insanely jealous at the time, because I thought the CCD meetings were all fun and games, but apparently they learned about Jesus all the time, so I didn't miss out on too much cause I went on a wonderful path of self discovery!

Bringing me to where I am now. After extensive research, discussions, and epiphanies, I realized there has to be a Higher Power. I'm not saying it's a slue of incestuous greek gods or a grandfatherly figure who watches down on us all day every day, but there are too many times in my life where things could have gone wrong, should have gone worse, or got by the skin of my nose for me to think that my quick uttered "oh please god let me live through this" went unnoticed by something. I'm not saying that my entire life is planned out, not at all. I think that every human being makes choices that impact what happens in their life. For every action, there must be a reaction. However, some things in my life, personally, just cannot be explained, and are written off as miracles. (Don't even get me started on the big bang- I am highly scientific, but come ON)

Basically, be a good person. If you are good to yourself, to your family, to others, good things happen to you. Every religious text is centered around the core idea of what gets you into the eternal glorious afterlife- be good. Everything else after you die will either happen or it won't, but you have today, and today might be all you have, so live it up Smile

And that's all she wrote

IEGeth's picture

I'm a Christian, of the Reformed denominations. However, some people consider me to be a heretic, which makes me proud. I'm not one of the rabid, in your face types, otherwise I wouldn't be here, or a Theater Major. I believe in God because of some of the difficulties that have happened in my life have led me to a sense that there is something bigger than me out there.

I don't try to force my faith on anyone, because I understand that people have to come to change- you can't force them. I believe that I shouldn't dodge culture or avoid understanding difficult questions -as opposed to some people at my school. I believe that sexuality should be celebrated as a beautiful part of God's creation, which is why I read and enjoy MeLin's work.

Requiem's picture

Petitioner

What are reformed denominations? And what type of heresy? Or is not being uptight a heresy now?

IEGeth's picture

Basically the reformed denominations split off from the Lutherans under John Calvin. And you guessed it, I'm not uptight enough, and I'm will to admit it, so thaa makes me a heretic. Smile

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Can I just say that for the gazillionith time? I'm sick of people from BOTH sides of the debate assuming otherwise.

I am a scientist. I love logic. I also love the supernatural, that which cannot be explained by logic. To me, it's one of the many amazing paradoxes that make life so interesting.

I grew up with a Capitalist mother and an intensely spiritual but non-denominational father (who left home when my parents divorced at 3). I was naturally spiritual as a child as well as fascinated by all things religious, which grew into a wondering agnosticism in my early teens. My senior year of high school, I went through a period of intense spiritual self-examination, which culminated in my realisation that I *did* believe in God in some form, and that I *did* want the structure and community of religion.

Just a few months later I began my conversion to Judaism. It makes me very happy.

Shade's picture

Supplicant

I so agree that they're not mutually exclusive - I'm a Lutheran and getting a PharmD and PhD.

I also emphatically agree with the logic/supernatural thing. I read Susan Cooper when I was fairly young and because of her, I still believe in magic <. i="" can="" help="" it.="">

I've had kind of a weird coming into my faith thing though - when I was around 8 or 9, my mother told me that God wasn't real, Heaven wasn't real, and nothing happens when you die - but kept making me to go church and volunteer for them. Elementary school children having existential crisis are not a pleasant thing :P. I finally figured it out in a way that works for me during my senior year of high school.

The thing I really enjoy about being a Lutheran (and this may not speak for the entire subset of people, this is just the way my specific church and the others in the area sort of approach the whole thing) is that in our Sunday School classes and as adults, we are always encouraged to question and test our faith. During our confirmation year, they wanted us to figure out what we really thought about faith and the Lutheran way of looking at things - if certain kids decided they didn't agree, there wasn't any shunning or criticism, as long as they were respectful about it. It was nice.

Also, I really like the history behind the Lutheran church, and they have what seems to me a decent way of looking at things. None of the pastors I've listened to have claimed to have a monopoly on the truth; and while it's true that I am probably a bit more liberal regarding other philosophies than most Lutherans, I haven't heard anything hostile coming from leaders of my church. (Evangelical Lutheran, btw, not Missouri Synod. We like having women pastors :P). My congregation sees Lutheranism as an expression of faith that works for us and that we as a community can explore, but it's not the only right answer to the big questions.

This is turning into an off-topic response, sorry <. but="" i="" got="" one="" more="" thing="" like="" to="" say.="" grew="" up="" in="" a="" very="" heavy="" lds="" area="" and="" have="" been="" discriminated="" against="" for="" being="" openly="" non-mormon="" most="" of="" my="" childhood="" now="" adult="" life.="" it="" really="" tainted="" views="" on="" that="" church="" teachers="" ignore="" you="" getting="" beaten="" at="" recess="" because="" wearing="" cross="" know="" something="" wrong="" :p="" different="" challenged="" taught="" me="" not="" be="" ashamed="" what="" believe="" in.="">

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I love all the Martin Luthers. Destined to be awesome with that name, really. Biggrin One of my favourite things in European History was the Protestant Reformation, and I love Luther's most basic idea that you don't need an interpreter to commune with God, that each person has the power to do so individually. Luther brought an element of individuality, of intimacy to Christianity and his approach was so clean. I don't know many Lutherans, but it makes sense to me that today you would continue to be very reflective - that would be true to Luther himself. That's what I love about Judaism, too - nothing is above question, and analysis is encouraged.

I didn't know that Lutherans were so open-minded about other faiths, but that's very heartening (as proselytisation is really my only issue with most Christian sects in general).

What an amazing spiritual transformation you went through, wow! I think that's fantastic, and I'm glad you were able to find something that worked for you without blindly rebelling against religion generally as so many do. Smile

ETA: And I worked in Pharm for a bit. I liked that work; very interesting and plenty stimulating.

Shade's picture

Supplicant

Martin Luther is a historical figure I truly admire for his devotion to what he believed was true and right. The book Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther is *amazing*.

Every time I read Luther's speech to the leaders of the Catholic church - especially the "I cannot. . I will not recant. Here I stand." - it just gives me shivers, haha. Such firm belief in himself and in what he thought to be true that he would openly stand against one of the biggest political powers of the age, even though that wasn't his original intent.

I also really admire the fact that he translated the Bible into German so everyone could read it and see for themselves what it said :D.

Yeah, the fact that the adults and leaders of the youth were so supportive in helping me see the way I could approach religion and faith played a major factor in my finally realizing what I do believe. Blindly rebelling wasn't an option, lmao. Had I tried to act out in some way against it, my parents would have dragged me to church anyway.

If you don't mind my asking, what drew you to Judaism? I'm not sure I've seen an explanation (and if I've just managed to miss it somehow in this thread or the other one on belief, just let me know, haha) and I'm curious, partially because I don't personally know any Jewish people.

I really like the pharmacy work I've done, though I definitely prefer working in hospitals as opposed to retail, and my ultimate goal is research. Drugs are so fascinating . . . the way even the tiniest thing can completely change the physiology of the body, it's just so exciting XD.

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

The thing about Luther and his reformation is that he was not the first to attempt this. There were several others over the preceeding hundred years that tried but were unsuccessful. The advantage Luther had, and why he was successful, is that the printing press was widely available so he was able to spread his work.

Also, it helped to have the support of German Nobles that were tired of sending their money to Rome and not seeing a tangile return.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Excellent point. Still doesn't retract from Luther's greatness; it merely adds to all those who tried before him.

Success is always about luck (or if you will, fate) to some extent. The circumstances have to be right. Damn, I miss those days when I loved history!

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

I didn't mean it to say that it detracted from him. However, as Shade pointed out, what he started took on a life of it's own with the popular movement and I question if the outcome is what he intended. Props to Luther for standing up for his views, but I think part of what he was persecuted for was the movement that, while he was the impetus for, wasn't his intention or under his control

Shade's picture

Supplicant

The thing, I think, that sets Luther apart from others who tried for reformation before him is that it wasn't his original intent in the slightest. He initially just wanted to point out to the Catholic church that a lot of what they were doing (indulgences, mostly) was not really in line with what the Bible said, and wouldn't it be really better for everyone if they tried to follow that directly, rather than Papal traditions? I most admire the fact that he stood behind his ideals, even under the threat of punishment.

Then, as you said, the printing press took hold of his works and spread them - which then led to the peasants seeing that as permission to revolt and doing so. Reading his letters to the German princes begging them to control their people is quite interesting, as he clearly never intended for a new church to split off. He just wanted to slightly amend the practices of the current church. Of course, as you also said, the princes were pretty happy to be keeping most of their money :P.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Thanks for that recommendation - added to my wishlist! I'm rarely into biographies, but I think I'd really enjoy a good accounting of Luther's life in more detail.

I just adore statements like that which resonate with some deep truth within. I know exactly what you mean about the shivers. It's rather like time, the universe, normal reality - everything ceases for a minute and crystallises, comes into perfect focus.

So your parents still hold their own views, I take it...but they were fine with you exploring, within limits? Interesting. Do you resent that rejecting religion entirely wasn't/isn't an option? You obviously seem very happy in your beliefs now, but I'm wondering if there was ever a point at which you felt entirely at odds with religion.

When I worked in Pharm it was only retail, but colleagues who worked in hospital settings say it's they're like night and day. Retail is a fuckton of INSURANCE, and of course involves all sorts of difficult customers, but I sort of liked those challenges. Either way, I agree - drugs are fascinating! I love them! That sounds bad, but I truly love them intellectually. They are very powerful as you say, and they are also, in my opinion, very informative. So much can be learned about physiology by drug effects. Hell, even more esoteric physiology like psychiatry.

I don't think I've explained why I chose Judiasm. I tend to put people off by saying 'it's a long story', and it's a subject on which I'm inclined to be even more long-winded than usual. I'll try to condense. Biggrin

I was pan-religious as a child, essentially, and to an extent I still am. Religions have always fascinated me. Holy places and houses of worship have always enthralled me. Through my father, my own reading and a great deal of travel, I learned about Christianity, Hinduism, & Buddhism and in my later teens, Islam. My best friend growing up was Catholic, as well, and I would attend church with her when allowed by my custodial mother. When I entered adolescence, I was loosely Pagan/Wiccan for a while and gravitated towards particular Goddesses. While attending my very intellectual high school, I became agnostic, though for the most part I didn't think very much about spiritual matters during this period, at least not consciously. I think that on a deep level, I was actually processing everything I'd learned and waiting for fate to strike.

My senior year of high school was pivotal spiritually; a time of many factors coinciding in just the right way. Spiritual and mystical matters, the nature of the universe, of God, of my own purpose, were perpetually on my mind. A constant stream of thought devoted to these topics ran underneath my more conscious mundane thoughts, and much of what I read in school and on my own seem to only increase the force of that stream. This led to more explicit examination via self-reflection and discussion with others, further feeding the stream.

Over many months, culminating in January of that school year, I slowly absorbed the wisdom of Robert Powell's Dialogues on Reality - part philosophy, part Buddhism, all mind-blowing. I would say that at this point, spirituality began to dominate my conscious thoughts. I hadn't previously known many Jewish people, but my high school had a fair number of Jews, and most of my closest friends were Jews by senior year. (It is interesting to note that since mid-high school, I seem to almost psychically gravitate towards Jews in great numbers - very eerie.) None of them were particularly devout, though Jews typically have the cultural thing going on no matter what, and most of them had some religious background.

As I began talking to them, asking them what they believed and why, and learning about their rituals (Passover, still my favourite holiday, stands out), I realised very quickly that virtually all of my own beliefs, which I had come to via other religious teachings and my own examination, aligned with Jewish beliefs. It was on every scale, too, from the small things to the great. Everything made sense, everything resonated. During this period, I also read a book that completely convinced me that I believed in God (especially, and ironically, a very depressing passage - the book was The Brothers Karamazov, the passage The Grand Inquisitor). I also knew that I loved religion generally, ritual, structure, history, and community enough that I wanted to join something, and Judaism seemed by far the best fit.

So as soon as I got to college a few months later, I went to a service at the Hillel (local Jewish resource/temple). I had never been to a Jewish service of any type. At this point in the story I always fear being cheesy, so forgive me, but there's no other way I can describe my experience that first Shabbat. I still remember it down to very precise details, like the scent of air in the courtyard, how we were all seated, and the sound of individual voices singing. I had never heard the prayers, or the melodies to which they were sung, or any Hebrew at all. But somehow, I had. Talk about shivers! It was like the strongest sense of deja vu ever; my soul knew and recognised. As crazy as that sounds, it's the only explanation that makes any sense. It was literally an instant transformative mystical experience. I KNEW on every level right then. There was no choice or hesitation; it just was. I had always been Jewish, I just hadn't been aware of my Jewishness (and as yet another example of Jewish belief so perfectly fitting my own, that IS the view on Jews-by-choice - the soul is Jewish innately or it is not, only awareness changes).

I attended services for a year before I approached the rabbi to begin conversion (a difficult and lengthy process in Judaism, which is exclusive rather than proselytising; there are stories about rabbis rejecting people 3 times before consenting to work with them). And it will be 10 years this fall since my first Shabbat, so that's that. Smile

Shinjinarenai's picture

Postulant

That's a lovely story, Fairnymph, and that's so nice that it *fit* for you like that. I'm still not entirely sure what I am. I think I spoke in the last spiritual forum, but I've become even less grounded since then. The idea that somewhere out there there is a set of beliefs that 'fits' is very appealing.

I am one of those Jews with a religious background and upbringing, but am much more culturally Jewish than spiritually. I wonder if I'm spiritually dead... My boyfriend is a true Christian, and while he's never attempted to convert me to anything, it makes him sad that I'm not sure whether I believe in G-d or not. Personally, I admire his faith, like I admire anyone with a faith in something.

I've been thinking about this recently, since starting work on 'Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train' for the Theatre dept., and I'm certainly going to think about it more. But I'm off topic; thanks for relating the experience, Fairnymph!

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I am so very lucky that I found such a...destiny, for lack of a better word. That said, each person must follow his own path. I'm sure you are doing what you were meant to/need to do.

I don't know very many spiritual Jews, either; it's funny how often other Jews tell me I'm more religious than they are! But, I love the sense of culture and community that all Jews, religious or not, share. And you'll always have that no matter what. Smile

Shade's picture

Supplicant

That's really an amazing experience - thank you for sharing it with us. I'm glad you found something that fit you so perfectly :D. It's wonderful to hear how different people come to their respective faiths.

As for my parents - my dad has always been religious, and I'm fairly certain he didn't know my mother told me that God wasn't real (I never told him, at any rate). I turned to him at one point (whilst in the midst of existential crisis :P) and asked how he could possibly believe in God, and his explanation was really meaningful. I'm not sure if my mother has since changed her mind on the matter or not - but she still goes to church every Sunday and volunteers.

I don't regret that it wasn't an option - because in a way for me, it still would have been. I mean, I would have had to continue going to church, but I could have sat there aggressively thinking about what a load of crap it all was and refused to participate in communion, etc. I think my forms of rebellion have always been more along the lines of thoughts and words rather than acting out, so no, I don't feel that I would have been completely unable to reject religion had I wanted to.

I've also never felt totally at odds with it. For a long time it was something I couldn't see how to believe in without just lying about what I really thought and my confusion, but I never felt hostile toward the idea (if anything, I resented my mother for shattering my elementary school world-view of everything is going to be okay). I spent most of junior high obsessing about the fact that I was going to be put in a box and stuck in the ground and left there, and that no one would care in three years. That is also when I developed OCD, and having cyclic thought patterns that feel unbreakable and focus only on death is not really the most pleasant way to live.

Like you, I spent a great deal of my time reading - a lot of books on religion and spirituality, Dawkins (who I've always found to be terribly condescending, even when he is making really apt points), etc. I just spent a great length of time confused and in mental anguish over the fact that I was living such a facade. Then I went on a mission trip to build a house for a family and finally realized that yes, I do believe in God. Building that house was the best thing I've ever done, and I'm eternally grateful to that family and my youth leader for showing me that I can find a relationship with God without having to feel like I'm lying to myself and people around me (the story is a little more involved than that, but I've rambled on long enough as it is:P).

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

Hey, did you miss the memo?

Long-ass posts are totally welcome here. Ask Kawaiikune or FairNymph.

Shade's picture

Supplicant

Hehehe. You'd think I've been around here long enough to know that :P.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I can't help it I girlcrush on kk and want to woo her with my wandering words! Biggrin

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

By our standards, this is one short ass-post. I think you have at least seven or eight more paragraphs of ramble before the locals start grumbling and looking for pitchforks and torches.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

and those tools would be to cheer for you! Wink

Davik's picture

Embodiment

to smite those on the other side of an argument on these subjects Smile

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

So dad is spiritual and religious, and mom is just sort of in it for traditional and community? Does that cause any friction between them, or is it simply ignored?

I actually think we're pretty alike in terms of background - spiritually wise dad, jaded mom, fair deal of time in religious settings - and maybe that has resulted in our reaching similar ends.

And um...I typed that before I read that you have OCD. Uh, wow. So do I; it developed for me in early puberty (9/10 or so). I'm not sure if you are aware, but OCD people are much more likely to be religious.

I like many of Dawkins' ideas, but he so often states things in such an obnoxious tone I want to beat the crap out of him. He's basically a brilliant, but somewhat foolish asshole.

Where did you go to build the house? And you can never ramble too much!

Shade's picture

Supplicant

I'm not actually sure if my father knows my mother felt/feels that way. She's obsessed with looking like the perfect person to everyone else, so a lot of what she does is to look good for others. She was *most* displeased when I started washing my hands multiple times, freaking out about my steps not averaging between cracks in sidewalks, and having panic attacks when I got touched - "Don't you realize how much you're embarrassing the family?!". As I said though, I'm not sure if she's changed her mind on the religion issue. She's a pretty harsh lady :P.

It's interesting how two people can end up in the same sorts of situations :O.

Yeah, I did a ton of reading on OCD when I got shipped off to the shrink - and I was disappointed that my stupid cyclic thoughts focused on something depressing instead of something uplifting :P. I'm not on any medications for it, largely because I don't trust mental meds (which is kind of ironic, seeing as that's most of what I'll be giving to people) and I can usually lead a mostly normal life with the OCD. Are you on any of the meds (if you don't mind me asking, of course, I'm just perennially curious about meds people are taking)? How does your OCD manifest?

My semesters with human anatomy involved lots of cracked and bleeding hands due to washing and constant wearing of latex gloves though . . . took forever to feel clean after having my hands in people. My biggest issue, though, is definitely touch. I don't like the feeling of skin on skin, and if I'm not expecting it I can continue to feel it for hours/days, depending on location and how much it freaked me out. I've gotten to the point where handshakes and high fives are usually okay, but if somebody comes up and puts their arm around me, or something, I have a tendency to start panicking. Swim team was *awful* because of that, haha - the feeling of wet skin on skin is even worse, all slippery and disgusting. Urgh. As a result, I'm pretty much asexual, haha.

The last makes having a boyfriend rather difficult :P. Neither of us is a really big fan of touching, but he likes it more than I do. We live in different countries (continents, even), and it's hard for me to become accustomed to the renewed hugs and such on the rare occasions we see each other. That's also a big part of why I don't want to have sex until I'm married - I think my brain would explode were I to let more than one person touch me like that :P.

We built the house in Tijuana, for a family with two little elementary school-age children. It was utterly amazing, doing something like that for other people, for no other reason than to help them. I think analyzing the reasons behind why we did it is what really made me understand my faith. It's not about me, it's not supposed to be. It's about doing the right thing for other people, regardless of the situation. (another reason I like being a Lutheran, haha. The summed up/slang-ized version of how we're supposed to express our faith: Don't be an asshole. If you can help somebody, just do it, and do it without needing or expecting or to be lauded for how wonderful you are.)

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

She took my OCD very personally - and refused to identify it as OCD for over a decade. If I also had (have) the dislike for touching others - unless I can be sure of their current state of cleanliness or am myself 'dirty' - and my mother handled that particular 'issue' very, very poorly.

I'm not currently medicated, but I've been on lots of SSRIs and some SNRIs and other experimental stuff. The SSRIs can work really well - I was on Prozac for years - but of course have the pesky sexual side effects (severe difficulty orgasming in my case). Otherwise I tolerate most of them pretty well. I'm thinking of going back on Prozac (what I've had the most luck with, though I love the energy I get from Effexor) because in addition to being great for my OCD, it really helps my BDD. Part of that is doubtless because I don't obsess over my body when I'm medicated, but I also FEEL less 'fat'. Hard to describe. I went off the Prozac due to sexual side effects and also, I was at a very high dose (120 mg) after a few years and it was maxing out, which happens with everything for me. I also developed a hand tremor, and I was teaching organic chem labs at the time...sort of a problem!

But, I've gone periods without medication (obviously) and I'm much better at handling my OCD now than I was before I was diagnosed and before I knew what it was like to BE free of OCD symptoms. I can act pretty normal off meds, but I end up internalising things. That is, I can publicly control my compulsions, but the obsessions are no better, and if anything worse because they have no outlet. My obsessions are - well, everything - but I specifically focus on cleanliness (dirty feet drive me INSANE!), the cleanliness is a REALLY big deal for me, my body image, and organising things. I don't have any counting stuff.

Your touch thing is interesting to me - that you're so tactile. I dislike being dirt by I LIKE touch. My issue is I dislike mixing 'different levels' of cleanliness. I think in an extremely heirarchical manner, so there are nearly infinite degrees of clean/dirty, but to give you an idea: the highest general level of clean is 'bed-clean' which stems from my bed. Nothing other than freshly washed items are bed-clean. So, I never touch my bed unless I'm freshly showered. I transfer all laundry (which is automatically bed-clean) with freshly washed hands (you can imagine how much laundromats stress me out!). Everything in my bed, the sheets and any pjs, are freshly washed and moved with freshly washed hands. The lowest level of dirty is probably the inside of a public toilet. But I have big issues with outside versus inside 'intermediate' degrees. I freak out when people sit on my couch with their outside clothes. I don't like to go out - even though I am very social - because it means that I have contaminate previously indoor-clean clothes. This is helped by jackets and a pile of 'outdoor' clothes, but it still leads to me being a hermit.

Lucky for me, I consider most bodily fluids (urine and feces aside) to be bed-clean. So I'm not bothered by sweat, semen, blood, saliva, etc and enjoy sex and such without worrying about them. And my mouth is sort of an exempt zone (in that, anything dirty can be put in it, I'll eat things that were on the ground or in the trash, or lick dirty things) and yet its default state is bed-clean, so it can be used to render things bed-clean by licking. Babies and cats are exempt objects, in that I consider them inherently bed-clean, provided they have only been inside my house. They don't have to wash before getting on the bed or being cuddled in bed-clean state.

I do understand how it could be, though - I can't do anal stuff for cleanliness reasons (I consider the anus permanently dirty), and I always wash my genitals before any sort of sexual activity. If I don't, I can't enjoy myself at all - I'm just stressing the entire time.

I like your house story. Smile I LOVE Habitat for Humanity and I should really volunteer here, as I haven't since I've moved. I also like your perspective - which is identical to the Jewish one, btw. So, the idea of tzedakah (righteous charity, although there's no real translation) is VERY important in Judiasm; it is a commandment, and obligation. And the highest form of giving in tzedakah is anonymous, though all forms are valued. A good story I've heard a rabbi (David Cooper, who is a Kabbalist) tell compares giving to a needy woman with a baby (without prompting), vs giving to a surly beggar (who solicited it). In the first scenario the donor felt altruistic, in the second the donor simply gave because it was the right thing to do. The latter is a higher form of tzedakah, because it is truly selfless and thus you act as a conduit for God (which is extremely holy) instead of imposing your own ego on the act. A very powerful teaching for me as I'm very self-centered by nature.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

First of all, I have a hard time with the over all concept of charity; I believe that the principle of Darwinism had a place in society. That said, there are cases where I will give money without any thought; when I was working in DC and someone was playing an instrument in the subway, if I enjoyed it, I would drop a buck in their collection. There was one guy who was playing Chinese violin (I hesitate to use that instrument name, because it was something else, but it's as close as I can get), who I donated to several times, and I really wish he'd been back again before I left because I really wanted to buy one of his CDs (which he had for sale every time I saw him). Similarly, I'm willing to throw down a buck or two to someone with a kid, because I'm not just giving them something, but I'm contributing to that small chance their child has. I know, statistically, that there really isn't much hope for the kid, but maybe by giving a dollar here or there I can help out (though I admit I'm not as giving now that I'm not making in excess of 25 bucks an hour, side effect of being poor again). As far as someone just sitting on the street corner (and in my experience from DC talking on a cell phone ignoring everyone else while expecting them to drop money in your bin), they don't have a reason to be begging on the street (as far as I can tell), they aren't offering a service, so why should I care if they starve? At least the rest of the people asking for money are either there with their kids making a concerted effort, or there displaying their talent.

Also, as a side note, I looked in to habitat for humanity my freshman year at college and learned that I (at least through the university) wouldn't be allowed to do anything other than fund raising. That was pretty much the end for me since I was an experienced carpenter (I admit to having a lot to learn, but my grandfather[and great grandfather] was a master carpenter and I knew how to use most of the tools he'd passed down, as well has having built a 24 foot bridge for my Eagle Scout project) and was looking to spend a few weekends actually building the houses.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I'm 'innately' like you in my approach to charity, but I realise it's very selfish of me, whatever I think. Of course, I'm placing my trust in God when I cease to 'choose' my recipients and instead give up that job to God. I think it's reasonable to consider giving as you do when you DON'T believe there is a higher power, because you believe you are helping more people by being selective. I also was a social Darwinist for MANY years and in ways I still am. I don't think it's WRONG to be that way, but I admire people who are charitable, so such selflessness is something to which I now personally aspire.

When I first heard that story, and thought 'charity to people in need is nice thing' - I was pretty shocked by the 'it's actually holier to give to the surly beggar'. Upon further explanation, it makes sense why and rings very true to me, resonates spiritually, so I believe it know to be right, but my initial reaction was not one of acceptance!

That's really sad about the HfH! I love the carpentry, which is one (selfish) reason I find it enjoyable. Very satisfying hands-on work. My dad is an amazing carpenter, and my father-in-law is too. I have such admiration for carpentry-skilled men! Smile

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

if you want to pull God out of the equation, you could change "holier" to "better for personal growth" or "character building" or "makes you a better person". I don't believe in God at all and I don't think some higher power chooses people to put in my path, but I think it's important to do things that are difficult for me, and that it's important to help whoever I can regardless of whether it makes me feel good about myself. I don't always succeed, but it's always in the back of my mind. It's like the idea of being nice to someone who is nice to you. It's much harder (and probably more admirable) to be nice to someone who treats you badly or who doesn't deserve your kindness, so that's the sort of thing I aspire to.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I know many atheists who aspire to such goals. I was just saying that in Davik's case, his approach seems logically consistent with his views.

Quote:
But I think it's important to do things that are difficult for me, and that it's important to help whoever I can regardless of whether it makes me feel good about myself.

'Feeling good about yourself' involves ego, though, which is what in the Jewish sense of tzedakah one should strive to avoid. You give because it's an obligation, not because it's morally satisfying. It DOES make you a better person, though. Your wording doesn't make it clear to me whether or not that is in line with your own beliefs, but I'm not saying that approach requires a belief in God.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

fairnymph wrote:
'Feeling good about yourself' involves ego, though, which is what in the Jewish sense of tzedakah one should strive to avoid. You give because it's an obligation, not because it's morally satisfying. It DOES make you a better person, though.

...highly suspect. Whyever should I do something, someone else tells me to do when it is neither strictly necessary nor does it jibe with my own morals, i.e. it is not morally satisfying? And how would not following my own morals make me a better person? What use would my morals then be?

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I'm very new to the concept myself, so I would refer you to rabbinical sources. Sorry I cannot explain better. I can see why you find it suspicious, but I don't know how else to clarify.

Shade's picture

Supplicant

I'm again surprised at the similarities, haha. My mother took it personally in that she just wanted me to stop doing the weird shit I was doing because it made her and the family look bad,

I do the same thing with my bed/clothing! I didn't think anybody else did, holy cow. And you explained it just perfectly.

"I can act pretty normal off meds, but I end up internalising things. That is, I can publicly control my compulsions, but the obsessions are no better, and if anything worse because they have no outlet. My obsessions are - well, everything - but I specifically focus on cleanliness (dirty feet drive me INSANE!), the cleanliness is a REALLY big deal for me, my body image, and organising things."

Oh, I do the same. I can usually control the compulsion when I'm in public (in a crowd of people, say) and have gotten quite good at not making physical contact with people if I'm trying to get through. There are times when I have to give in to the hand-washing, however. The latest problem has been my physiology lab - we use rat intestines to perform experiments on glucose transport and I helped the prof turn them inside out. Squeezing chyme out of an intestine and then flipping it over is, let's just say, not the cleanest thing. I spent a good 20 minutes washing my hands (because the number of times needs to be divisible by five and even) before I felt clean enough to touch any of my things. Touching dirt is a big issue for me, too. It's part of why I clean my apartment so often - the feeling of dust just makes me shudder.

Yeah, the body fluids thing is kind of a big problem for me, especially since I spend most of my time working with people who are leaking one or the other :P. I'm trying to work it out with ze boyfriend and he's wonderfully patient, but it's pretty difficult.

And yeah, building that house was amazing. We didn't go through Habitat for Humanity, though, because we wanted to do the actual building (it helps having a church filled with engineers, hehe). We went through a Lutheran mission in the town that hires local architects and one or two construction workers to help the adults/kids, and then we just built the house. The youth did a few other things around the town, too - we went and helped clean up a run-down orphanage and spent a few days with the kids, just talking and playing with them.

I had no idea about the tzedakah, that's really interesting.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Does your mom accept your OCD now? My mom 'believes' me now, but she still won't forgive me for when I was younger. Sad

I'm both sad and glad that you know exactly what I mean. Sad because I wouldn't anyone to have to feel the way I do, glad because I'm not so alone. Sort of offhand - does it annoy you when people claim to have OCD who really HAVE NO FUCKING idea? I.e. people who are just a little obsessive, but not actually impaired in daily life?

Haha, you should see me in crowds! I'm pretty good at avoiding public contact. I am hyperaware of the space around me and try to avoid people as much as possible, even in grocery stores. When people bump into me or THIS IS THE WORST! brush me with their handbags *shudder* - it really, really upsets me. One of the worst things about NYC was the fucking filthy handbags, everywhere (GIANT ones too)! And people would frequently not just BRUSH me with them, but actually HIT me with them. Wtf? How is it okay to touch someone with your bag? Whatever happened to common courtesy and respecting personal space? Handbags are sooo filthy, too. Sad

I understand the hand-washing thing, too, though I am usually able to keep it below cracked/bleeding hands. Does the wearing of gloves not help much in the lab, for you? I find gloves very soothing. I also HATE the feeling of dust/dirt, especially on my feet. I've gone through serious compulsive vacuuming phases.

As for HfH, I didn't mean to imply your church went that way, just that it's been my only personal experience with charitable carpentry. Biggrin

ETA: I have this fantasy of a jacket with 360 degrees of 3-foot metal spikes radiating from my midsection (perpendicular to my torso), with space for arms of course in between the spikes, which I call 'the crowd-parter' so people would GET AND STAY the fuck out of my way!

Shade's picture

Supplicant

I really doubt it - she never brings it up, and if I show any symptoms when she's around she gets really angry.

And yes, it drives me *insane* when people say "Oh, well I'm a little OCD too." or, "But I haven't *seen* you freak out, are you sure you've got it?" I couldn't freaking touch food with my bare hands for months, I'm pretty sure I've got it (not to mention that whole being professionally diagnosed thing :P). Wearing gloves helps while I'm doing things (like poking around in people, messing with rats/dogs/what have you), but when I take them off I still feel very unclean and need to make doubly sure that everything is fine. If I can put gloves on again after I'm done washing my hands, I feel better too.

Things with numbers and patterns reassure me though - hence the averaging my steps between cracks in the sidewalk and my love of number/word/logic puzzles.

Owh, that would be awful with the handbags X_X. I like bigger cities, but I hate crowds

On the HfH thing, I didn't know there *were* any other options to do something like that until my church did the trip, haha. I didn't know they didn't let you do the carpentry though, that kinda sucks.

Also, having a coat like that would be epic and amazing.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

when I make mine.

And maybe our moms can hang out while we troll the streets of major metropolitan areas together. Biggrin

I love number/word/logic puzzles, too. Definitely feel you on the love of patterns, though they aren't generally pathological for me.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

"the number of times needs to be divisible by five and even"

so, divisible by ten? Wink

Shade's picture

Supplicant

Yup. XD U r maths jeenius.

But I don't like the number 10, so I think of it in the different terms :P. Though, I probably should have been more specific - one round of hand-washing for me is five times, and if I'm just washing my hands before touching food, or routine washing, five is good enough. It's when I've been touching something I don't view as clean that I have to bump it up and make it even.

I do really like the numbers 21 and 42 though. Something about the fact that 3*7 = 21 just makes my brain relax.

I like prime numbers, too :).

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

I had meant my comment to be a laugh at the framework, not in any way to imply that you were bad at teh maths, by the way.
I'm amused that you wash your hands a number of times where that number bugs you.

Shade's picture

Supplicant

No worries :). I'm just so used to thinking "Okay, five more times, wait it ends in five and it's not even I can't split it ahhh."

The number five by itself is nice (prime! Dance 4 ). Five stuck on the end of other numbers is not so nice. It makes the numbers messy :P.

I really identify with Hannelore from Questionable Content :P.

fairnymph's picture
NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

What about the symmetry of triangles?

Odd number of points but symmetrical on as many axis.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I much prefer odds, especially 3's!

Laureril's picture

Supplicant

I'm so incredibly tempted to change my avatar to something geometric and symmetrical... except have one line missing.

>.>
Then again, it'd probably bother me too... My avatar already bothers me a little that it was taken at a slight angle. I keep meaning to rotate the original photo and recrop.

Andrea's picture

Supplicant

I like even numbers because you can split them down the middle, but I like odd numbers because there's one in the middle. Like, if you line up nine toothpicks then you can pick one that's in the middle, and both sides will be even. You can't do that with even numbers. Also, something about the discord that prime numbers and odd numbers have is appealing.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

I don't know whether it's in spite of or because of the fact that I'm an atheist, but Martin Luther is probably my favorite historical figure from that time period. Not only did he realize the problems and corruptions in the system, but he had the metaphorical balls to say what he did and stand by it.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

It's true. Alongside his theology, Luther was a castrato. }:)

Shade's picture

Supplicant

Which makes the 6 or so kids he had all the more impressive. }:)

Seriously, though, having the sheer confidence and belief to stand against the Catholic church at that time . . . the man was awesome.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

His wife was a slut. Wink

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

Does anyone else find it odd that Jews, Catholics, and Muslims (and all reformations, sects, orthodixies, etc included) all worship the same god? The primary differences are what they consider to be the final prohet, savior, or leadership.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Smile

(though perhaps not here.)

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

And I know I'm not alone. My born-again Xtian half-sister agrees.

Biestygirl's picture

Petitioner

I've never heard of Xtians *wiki's furiously*

Urban dictionary had my favourite results:

abbreviated form of Christian, often used as a derogatory term by Satanists, militant Atheists, etc. It is derived from the use of X as an abbreviation for Christ, as in Xmas. Strictly speaking, this rule dictates it be spelled "xian," but it is spelled "xtian" to avoid confusion with the city of Xian,China.

Followers of the creator of evil and darkness and the bringer of disaster (Isaiah 45:7), the murderer of pregnant women (Hosea 13:16) and children (Psalms 137:8-9) and the proponent of child sex slaves (Exodus 21:7-11).

OH wow.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I was eating cheese in my left hand so thus my abbreviating. Otherwise, I do normally type out Christian. I had no idea it was offensive!

Biestygirl's picture

Petitioner

it might be? i don't know. it's kinda of interesting to read some of the entries on urban dictionary.

seia's picture

Devotee

It sounds a lot like a certain Dutch play-on-pronunciation. It's basically replacing "christen" with "gristen" (I'm not sure how much sense this makes if you don't speak the language) and it's definitely used as an insult.

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

I wouldn't call it an insult. It's more demeaning in a sense. If you pronounce it like that and say something's very christian, it has more a look what those silly people do connotation. So in a way it's insulting, but not an insult. Or something. I suck at explaining anything other than science stuff.

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

oh and it's a Dutch g, a throaty one. If you want to know how that sounds, watch this:

http://www.spitsnieuws.nl/archives/raar/2009/03/eva_jinek_worstelt_met_b...

Ok, it isn't really a lot in the clip, but it's just such a nice clip.

magalicious's picture

Postulant

Christians, Jews and Muslims are all considered People of the Book; the basic roots of all three faiths are the same. Muslims consider themselves the descendants of Abraham, and (as I recall) accept Jesus as *a* prophet. Mohammed is their *final* prophet. You could consider all three as branches of the same tree.
Of course, don't tell my grandmother this. She'd whup ya good.

Andrea's picture

Supplicant

Wow, I was raised in a fairly conservative protestant church, and we were always taught that Jews, Muslims, Catholic Christians, Protestant Christians, and Mormons branched off of the same tree. They used it as a lesson that we should always 1) watch out for false prophets, and 2) listen to the real ones and be willing to dedicate our lives to them. They didn't have much practical advice on how to tell which prophets were real, though, except that we should never get any sort of identifying marks on our foreheads or right hands.

magalicious's picture

Postulant

... regularly says things like, "He can't be wrong! He's the Pope!"
I'm not a Catholic basher. I used to sing in the choir, went to CCD and Catholic school, all that jazz. It's just Grandma that sets me off. Wink

Andrea's picture

Supplicant

I didn't get the impression that you were a Catholic basher or anything; no worries :). People (possibly like your grandmother) who make absolute statements tend to strike me as strange, that's all. Then again, some churches seem to emphasize the whole "unquestioning faith" thing, so I can't really blame people for not realizing that Christianity has a lot in common with other religions. I was lucky to have been raised in a religion that was open-minded enough to talk about its roots.

Biestygirl's picture

Petitioner

I actually said that to a friend of mine (She's southern Baptist now I think, but she was brought up Evangelical?), and she got very offended, and vehemently swore up and down that her God, the Muslim God and the Jewish God were NOT the same.

She also didn't like when I said that if Jesus was a Jew, that in order for him to be heard and taken seriously by the Jewish community, that he would have had to be married, and Mary Magdalen was the best candidate for his wife.

Which is why I don't talk religion with people who I actually know. Aren't y'all lucky you're just internet figments?

magalicious's picture

Postulant

Aren't you the little heretic. Wink No, seriously, I agree with everything you pointed out. I was the one in catechism going, 'But Jesus wasn't a Catholic, he was a Jew!' Yeah, the nuns loved me.
I respect that some people are devout, and everyone is entitled to their beliefs, and I am most willing to discuss them. In fact, I'm a little jealous of people who have a very strong faith. It makes things a lot easier.

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