Fear of Generosity

If you speak to someone about something controversial, like abortion or war, in intimate and full confidence, you will usually hear a vastly different story from the one we routinely hear and see in public, no matter what the opinion is or what side is taken. This is understandable. There are real liabilities to being open and honest. Anyone who has told the unvarnished truth many times in public has been punished for it.

Liabilities aside, there is still a serious problem: in place of sincere, but measured, conversation and dialogue, we get defensive postures mostly intended to hold one’s ground. Sometimes this gains ground, almost unwittingly, but the gains and losses come and go, the former are celebrated and the latter ignored, and soon a fear of generosity becomes the more significant outcome.

I’ve heard it said so many times: “I would be willing to consider X view, contrary to my own, and I think it has some merit, but the other side is using this to find an opening and muscle their way in.” The slippery slope fallacy abounds not so much for logical reasons, but for temperamental ones. People seem to fear the possibility of granting ground or goodwill to their opposition.

I am sure that I suffer from this, too, in some way I am presently blind to, but I can also attest to the unpopular fact that I personally know communists who joke about how much they love to play golf, Republicans who work at the food kitchen every week, Democrats who patiently care for foster children who treat them like shit, atheists who love the religious arts, theists who don’t go to church, and more. From direct and extended contact with real radical feminists who are prepared to fight to protect legal abortion and real Christian fundamentalists prepared to fight to abolish it, I can say, with no reservations, that each person holds a real portion of the truth.

In fact, there are very few subjects of real controversy where I suspect that any side, no matter how crazy sounding, is operating out of malice or bad intentions. Sure, false consciousness plagues us all, and blind spots are always lurking, but when it comes to what people intend, I am not so sure that good intentions can’t win the day.

Of course, as Ivan Illich reminds us, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

But conversation relies on generosity, the ability to offer your interlocutor the assumption that they are not speaking in bad faith in advance, the assumption of good will and, yes, even good intentions. If we cannot be generous, then we simply cannot communicate. There is no conversation between ungenerous combatants. We can’t even fight — and we don’t, we just repeat the same, tired refrains to people who already agree with us and give angry gotcha replies to the one’s who venture into our territory.

The same is true in other forms of combat: find a great competitor in war or sport and you will find someone who has respect for the most contemptible of opponents.

Hatred, in its purest form, can be a form of reverence.

Nowadays, we don’t know how to hate. We hate like kindergarteners. We call people names and convince ourselves that they are really, really, REALLY bad and naughty. We don’t really take the time or effort to be generous and hate properly.

This may because there is a great deal of money and attention to be made by casting things in these polemical binaries. They are mutually beneficial. To have a healthy rivalry, you need to create mirror opposites, with points and counter-points, a stable caricature of each side. There is no room for “perhaps,” “it depends,” “maybe,” “it seems,” and “could you give me an example of what you’re talking about?”

Some contend that this is a failure in argument and discourse. I disagree. I think we are scared to be otherwise, to be taken advantage of or misinterpreted, to have our words abused and our intentions distorted. So we’ve created fortresses and castles to guard against generosity.

To be generous is to risk. To risk being hurt or, even worse, being wrong to some degree.

But there is another risk in generosity, in the offering that precedes the gift: the risk of being in love.

This is what the fear of being generous conceals, I think: the greater despair that desires love so much, that it avoids and runs from it at all costs.

What we need is healing, and that won’t come easy or fast and I don’t know where to begin. Generosity begins in trust and all the hallmark cliches.

Perhaps, we might begin by considering the predicament and dwelling in its shadow before we run at the next plastic solution. I think we often seek solutions before fully understanding the scope of the catastrophe. But maybe another approach is to try to be more generous in a risky and real way. This will require courage and light.

  • Ken

    Great post. I was guilty of this on one of your earlier postings. A lot of times when we act like this we are reducing our “opponent” to an enemy or a really bad person so we don’t feel so bad when we freely attack them. It’s really a sin. We are reducing the dignity of the person we are disagreeing with to make us feel better about ourselves or to tear into them.

    I see this on both sides in politics. It’s a lot easier to tear into the caricature of the other person rather than what the person is which is a creation of God. I’m conservative but my parents are really liberal. When I hear people attacking liberals I often think that they are attacking my family who they know nothing about. Pope Francis recently said to be careful about how we engage people on the internet. It’s good advice.

  • katieokeefe

    Sam, this is wonderful, and so very true. Thank you for a well-timed post.

  • http://theramblingsofacrazyface.wordpress.com/ Leticia Ochoa Adams

    This is one of the best posts ever.

  • $51060174

    Vatican 2 did so much damage.

    • Mike

      The “spirit” of V2 is alive! ;)

      • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

        It’s like V1 never died.

    • Andy

      How does Vatican 2 intersect with what Sam is talking about – being generous with others – assuming that they are speaking from a good place, not always one we agree with and the like?

  • $51060174

    Vatican 2 did so much damage.

    • Mike

      The “spirit” of V2 is alive! ;)

      • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

        It’s like V1 never died.

    • Andy

      How does Vatican 2 intersect with what Sam is talking about – being generous with others – assuming that they are speaking from a good place, not always one we agree with and the like?

  • Mike

    People seem to fear the possibility of granting ground or goodwill to their opposition.

    YES YES YES!

    Diagnosis: check

    Prognosis: probably more of the same :(.

  • Mike

    People seem to fear the possibility of granting ground or goodwill to their opposition.

    YES YES YES!

    Diagnosis: check

    Prognosis: probably more of the same :(.

  • Mike

    One more point: isn’t this exactly what God did when he created the world with creatures with free-will; didn’t he risk rejection and didn’t we, the human family, reject him? And didn’t he risk his only son to save us? Didn’t he risk rejection, misinterpretation, inconsistency, contradiction, etc. etc. etc.? That’s what he did it seems to me; it’s what every parent risks who has a child, that they will reject them, but is willing to risk it all for the possibility of real love.

  • Mike

    One more point: isn’t this exactly what God did when he created the world with creatures with free-will; didn’t he risk rejection and didn’t we, the human family, reject him? And didn’t he risk his only son to save us? Didn’t he risk rejection, misinterpretation, inconsistency, contradiction, etc. etc. etc.? That’s what he did it seems to me; it’s what every parent risks who has a child, that they will reject them, but is willing to risk it all for the possibility of real love.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    “The slippery slope fallacy abounds not so much for logical reasons, but for temperamental ones.”

    For me the slippery slope isn’t a fallacy, but rather established historical fact. Yesterday, conservatives in my state lost the culture war, had their votes overturned by a federal judge who would not permit dissent in his courtroom, and basically were turned into second class citizens, having to watch quietly while gay marriage was celebrated. But the seeds of this started more than 80 years ago with the eugenics of Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood, and we’re not even close to the end game yet, we are NOT at the bottom of the slope yet.

    So no, the slippery slope isn’t a fallacy. It’s established fact that can’t be denied, and *it has already occurred*, far too late to stop. Christ is crucified again.

    I can no longer be generous. I can only be silent.

    • Stacey (the kids’ Aunt Tasty)

      Please know that I hear your heartbreak. I do.

      In this comment, you indicate that you were basically “turned into second class citizen…” No one took your right to marry away; they granted a civil (meaning non-religious) right to someone who isn’t exactly like you.

      Christ is crucified, Christ is buried, Christ is RISEN, even when we give civil rights to people we don’t agree with. Christ was crucified for those people, as well.

      These thoughts were shared with genuine love for you and compassion for your pain with the decision of the courts.

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        He took away my right to vote, he took away my free speech, he took away my voice, they turned my church into a ghetto of bigots fit only to be burnt to the ground and legitimized all of the last 10 years of vandalism, obscenity, and violence by gays it took to get to this point.

        The so called “right to marry” was invented wholesale by the courts, and does not exist in either the federal nor state constitution- still doesn’t. We don’t grant marital privileges (and they are a privilege, not a right) to the hundreds of other non-standard family groupings out there- only to monogamous heterosexuals and monogamous homosexuals.

        The gays lied to those of us who worked so hard to get civil unions in Oregon- and who continued to work for many years to extend civil unions to everybody (yes, heterosexuals included) and get government out of the churches.

        Christ was crucified again in this decision- it wasn’t about civil rights for gays, it was about punishing heteros in a heterophobic bid to change the world by judicial dictatorship.

        No different than Pontius Pilate, near as I can tell. The intent of failing to be compassionate to those with gender confusion and instead indulge their fantasy life is to destroy civilization.

        • Stacey (the kids’ Aunt Tasty)

          I read this.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    “The slippery slope fallacy abounds not so much for logical reasons, but for temperamental ones.”

    For me the slippery slope isn’t a fallacy, but rather established historical fact. Yesterday, conservatives in my state lost the culture war, had their votes overturned by a federal judge who would not permit dissent in his courtroom, and basically were turned into second class citizens, having to watch quietly while gay marriage was celebrated. But the seeds of this started more than 80 years ago with the eugenics of Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood, and we’re not even close to the end game yet, we are NOT at the bottom of the slope yet.

    So no, the slippery slope isn’t a fallacy. It’s established fact that can’t be denied, and *it has already occurred*, far too late to stop. Christ is crucified again.

    I can no longer be generous. I can only be silent.

    • Stacey (the kids’ Aunt Tasty)

      Please know that I hear your heartbreak. I do.

      In this comment, you indicate that you were basically “turned into second class citizen…” No one took your right to marry away; they granted a civil (meaning non-religious) right to someone who isn’t exactly like you.

      Christ is crucified, Christ is buried, Christ is RISEN, even when we give civil rights to people we don’t agree with. Christ was crucified for those people, as well.

      These thoughts were shared with genuine love for you and compassion for your pain with the decision of the courts.

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        He took away my right to vote, he took away my free speech, he took away my voice, they turned my church into a ghetto of bigots fit only to be burnt to the ground and legitimized all of the last 10 years of vandalism, obscenity, and violence by gays it took to get to this point.

        The so called “right to marry” was invented wholesale by the courts, and does not exist in either the federal nor state constitution- still doesn’t. We don’t grant marital privileges (and they are a privilege, not a right) to the hundreds of other non-standard family groupings out there- only to monogamous heterosexuals and monogamous homosexuals.

        The gays lied to those of us who worked so hard to get civil unions in Oregon- and who continued to work for many years to extend civil unions to everybody (yes, heterosexuals included) and get government out of the churches.

        Christ was crucified again in this decision- it wasn’t about civil rights for gays, it was about punishing heteros in a heterophobic bid to change the world by judicial dictatorship.

        No different than Pontius Pilate, near as I can tell. The intent of failing to be compassionate to those with gender confusion and instead indulge their fantasy life is to destroy civilization.

        • Stacey (the kids’ Aunt Tasty)

          I read this.

  • ModerateMom17

    This is a great read. Thank you. I have been recently thinking about the defensive posture of so many Catholics online these days, and you have really nailed the underlying issue. Would you say that a lack of willingness be vulnerable could be a co occurring disorder to this lack of generosity? I keep coming back to the issue of vulnerability in my mind. For example, so many are up in arms over Pope Francis not using bullet proof glass when he visits the Holy Land. I was struck by his willingness to be vulnerable. He seems to really get, in a very profound way, that he has to be vulnerable in order to be generous in giving himself even to those who hate him. Yet, so many of us can’t even be vulnerable in com boxes. How can we get anywhere if we can’t put down our weapons and armor?

    • SamRocha

      I actually mentioned this point about Francis in the follow-up post. I agree that it is a striking gesture.

  • ModerateMom17

    This is a great read. Thank you. I have been recently thinking about the defensive posture of so many Catholics online these days, and you have really nailed the underlying issue. Would you say that a lack of willingness be vulnerable could be a co occurring disorder to this lack of generosity? I keep coming back to the issue of vulnerability in my mind. For example, so many are up in arms over Pope Francis not using bullet proof glass when he visits the Holy Land. I was struck by his willingness to be vulnerable. He seems to really get, in a very profound way, that he has to be vulnerable in order to be generous in giving himself even to those who hate him. Yet, so many of us can’t even be vulnerable in com boxes. How can we get anywhere if we can’t put down our weapons and armor?

    • SamRocha

      I actually mentioned this point about Francis in the follow-up post. I agree that it is a striking gesture.

  • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

    So… how can I grant someone good will when conservative Christians advocate that I should be murdered for not being straight– as numerous influential and non-controversial (at least, according to magazines like Christianity Today and Charisma) groups like the American Family Association or Family Research Council have done? Or suggest that I should be raped because being raped would in their mind “turn me straight” (in their own words)– or as the RCC does, suggest that the only reason I’m not is because I was raped.

    These aren’t the Fred Phelps of society, mocked and derided for what they do until they die a lonely death hated by their own family, these people actually get MORE donors when they say things like “we should exile gay people from the USA” and constantly mention that being gay or lesbian should be punished by being murdered in the name of God, all the while talking about how there is some kind of “gay gestapo” going to put people in the “gaylag archipelago” for being hateful bigots.

    The Catholic church is little better than the conservative Protestants in this regard, calling me a broken “disordered” person and saying I’m not as good as straight people, telling its workers they cannot legally sympathize with me or be supportive of me in public even if they were my own mother or they’ll get fired. Ostracizing me and denying me rights as an equal human being on a regular basis, its priests even perform exorcisms to try to drive me out of their dominions.

    And for telling them that this is hateful and hurtful, I get told I’m “stepping on their religious freedoms” and then get told I’m not a REAL Christian because I disagree with them– and have my religious freedom denied because religious freedom apparently only applies if you agree with conservative evangelicalism/conservative Catholicism. Even in the comments section of your articles (including this one) we have this phenomenon; entitled old white guys claiming they’re oppressed because they got called out for maliciously acting to hurt other people.

    These aren’t exaggerations or caricatures, these are actual things that conservatives say to me on a day to day and week to week basis, both here on Patheos and even “in real life” So… how am I supposed to show “good will”? Perhaps by committing suicide, as people (including a Catholic who claimed “at least it’d be less of a sin than being gay”) have suggested in the past?

    Your post makes sense to me, theologically and philosophically. But emotionally, I don’t think anything good will come from trying to live it, here in conservative Texas.

    • SamRocha

      Without discounting or denying or trying to discredit your experience, melissia, one way to grant someone goodwill might be to be open to the fact that not all people are the same and that even the most hurtful and hateful ones have their stories and their fears and wounds.

      I don’t think generosity requires you or anyone to submit themselves to abuse, but I do think that it requires giving each individual person a chance to show love and be loved.

      • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

        That at least is a bit easier I suppose. But it’s still harder than you’d think, given how much people can still actively move to hurt me.

        For example, I can be fired for not being straight– I have no legal protection from this sort of vindictive firing, and Texas is a “Right to Work” state. If I open up, there’s a very good chance that I’ll lose my job.

        I’m safer, in that regard, assuming that they’re bigots until they show otherwise. ANd living in poverty woudl be hard enough on its own, never mind for someone who isn’t straight– it’s not a coincidence that non-straight people are vastly over-represented in the homeless population, with parents kicking their gay and lesbian children out on the streets and employers firing them for not being straight.

        And this is the world conservative Christianity _wants_ for America, based off of the laws that are continually pushed in to place.

        • SamRocha

          “I’m safer, in that regard, assuming that they’re bigots until they show otherwise.”

          This may be a matter of survival, but it also approximates the sort of anxiety I sense from the other side, too. Finding a place where we can begin to heal each other and ourselves will no doubt be terrifying, but that’s precisely the point, I think: we are terrified of love.

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            In order for that place to exist, as you and I both wish, conservatives will stop trying to actively hurt me. You can’t run a hospital when one better off group of patients is actively beating up on another, worse off group.

            The fear that conservatives feel is a fake, manufactured fear designed only to motivate them politically– it has no basis in reality. There is no “gay gestapo” looking to put people in the “gaylag archipelago”– things like this are nothing more than lies spread by conservative Christian preachers. The only “gay agenda” I have is “I’m going to go to the store and buy some food, then come home and make a good meal for my family, maybe catch a movie later”. Frightening, isn’t it?

            Am I supposed to lie and say that the conservative fear is real, just to make them feel better– instead of pointing out that they have no reason to be afraid to begin with?

            There is no religious oppression going on. No one is forcing pastors to perform gay marriages. No one is forcing religions to say “we approve”. Or even to say “we love you” and mean it. People aren’t being jailed for holding religious beliefs– if that was the case, Rev. Fred Phelps would have died in prison.

            Well, in some places there is I guess; in North Carolina, conservatives put in to law a punishment for performing gay marriages which would indeed put pastors in jail for doing it. But that’s not something the LGBTQ rights movement is pushing, that’s something the conservative movement is pushing. So I guess religious oppression is happening– it’s just that the ones doing it are the conservatives themselves.

            Am I supposed to lie and say that religious conservatives are being oppressed, just to make them feel better, instead of pointing out that they are the ones doing the religious oppression?

            I’m not certain that you make a convincing argument that I’m “terrified of love”. I just don’t see any love coming from conservatives to begin with, certainly not towards me. I’d be perfectly okay with a live and let live situation; I just don’t define “live and let live” as “conservatives wish to put their beliefs in to law and enforce them on me, making my life miserable.”

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            Also, I apologize for the constant edits. I’m trying to keep this coherent and polite, since you are doing the same :)

          • SamRocha

            No problem.

          • SamRocha

            I think the first problem is labeling. “Conservatives” is a poor moniker, just like gay or LGBTQ or anything else. I tend to find the fears on both sides verifiable in different ways, often against the logic of either side. For instance, it is remarkable that each “side” seems collectively sure that they are losing. This strikes me as rather odd. More than odd, I think it show this terror of love. But love can only be between persons who are willing to understand each other on their own terms. That these terms are not the whole truth is of course to be expected, but the motivations and stories of how those terms came to be the case, is the more real truth of it all.

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            I don’t agree with that. I have faith that that the arc of the moral universe, as the good Reverend King once said, bends towards justice– that “my side” (IE, the civil rights movement), is winning, and ultimately will win in the end.

            But that’s not a reason to stop worrying about the real people that are being hurt in the meanwhile. It is the people who are being hurt that Jesus asked us to worry about the most– the least fortunate of his brothers and sisters.

            And I haven’t seen a good argument yet that civil rights opponents are actually being hurt by this debate. I hope you understand that I am surrounded by conservatism, I understand it very well– well enough that people believe that I’m “in” the group, because it’s safer to hide who I am than to just be myself.

            No, feeling irrational, manufactured fear that has no basis in reality isn’t “being hurt”. The conservative culture of fear and oppression is self-induced; more comparable to the results of overindulging one’s gluttonous urges than being the victim of someone else’s wrath.

          • SamRocha

            My sense is that the moment when you think “your side” is God’s side, is precisely the moment when it is time to revise your view of things. But I may be wrong about that. I just posted a follow-up to this post, maybe you’ll find it more useful than this one.

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            Having faith in seeking justice and equality for all is not a bad thing, nor is it mutually exclusive with Christianity.

            I never said God was on my side, but rather that the morality of love and equality will, ultimately, be victorious over the morality of fear and exclusion.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            What if homosexuality is inherently unjust?

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            I have no intention of answering stupid questions like that.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            It isn’t a stupid question. What if homosexuality is denying a the positive good of procreation to the person you claim to love, simply by denying them the chance at finding a heterosexual partner? I would call that inherently unjust. It’s the entire reason the church claims that homosexuality is inherently disordered- because it removes from the beloved the ability to be the best human being that they can.

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            Procreation is not a positive good. It simply is. Just because someone procreates doesn’t mean they are doing something good, in fact, in many cases they are doing something bad, because they procreate with the intention of indoctrinating the child instead of educating them.

            Non-straight couples will actually provide a net benefit anyway, through adoption of children that are otherwise neglected by straight society. Or to put it more bluntly: Because straight people keep procreating irresponsibly, non-straight people need to try to clean up your mess.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            “Procreation is not a positive good. ”

            And with that, we have the basic problem isolated. You hate humanity and wish to see it extinct.

            You’re bigoted against humanity, and you wonder why humanity doesn’t celebrate that?

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      Move to Oregon, where a gay federal judge has basically said that all religion that suggest that gay is wrong, is bigoted and should be excluded from society.

  • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

    So… how can I grant someone good will when conservative Christians advocate that I should be murdered for not being straight– as numerous influential and non-controversial (at least, according to magazines like Christianity Today and Charisma) groups like the American Family Association or Family Research Council have done? Or suggest that I should be raped because being raped would in their mind “turn me straight” (in their own words)– or as the RCC does, suggest that the only reason I’m not is because I was raped.

    These aren’t the Fred Phelps of society, mocked and derided for what they do until they die a lonely death hated by their own family, these people actually get MORE donors when they say things like “we should exile gay people from the USA” and constantly mention that being gay or lesbian should be punished by being murdered in the name of God, all the while talking about how there is some kind of “gay gestapo” going to put people in the “gaylag archipelago” for being hateful bigots.

    The Catholic church is little better than the conservative Protestants in this regard, calling me a broken “disordered” person and saying I’m not as good as straight people, telling its workers they cannot legally sympathize with me or be supportive of me in public even if they were my own mother or they’ll get fired. Ostracizing me and denying me rights as an equal human being on a regular basis, its priests even perform exorcisms to try to drive me out of their dominions.

    And for telling them that this is hateful and hurtful, I get told I’m “stepping on their religious freedoms” and then get told I’m not a REAL Christian because I disagree with them– and have my religious freedom denied because religious freedom apparently only applies if you agree with conservative evangelicalism/conservative Catholicism. Even in the comments section of your articles (including this one) we have this phenomenon; entitled old white guys claiming they’re oppressed because they got called out for maliciously acting to hurt other people.

    These aren’t exaggerations or caricatures, these are actual things that conservatives say to me on a day to day and week to week basis, both here on Patheos and even “in real life” So… how am I supposed to show “good will”? Perhaps by committing suicide, as people (including a Catholic who claimed “at least it’d be less of a sin than being gay”) have suggested in the past?

    Your post makes sense to me, theologically and philosophically. But emotionally, I don’t think anything good will come from trying to live it, here in conservative Texas.

    • SamRocha

      Without discounting or denying or trying to discredit your experience, melissia, one way to grant someone goodwill might be to be open to the fact that not all people are the same and that even the most hurtful and hateful ones have their stories and their fears and wounds.

      I don’t think generosity requires you or anyone to submit themselves to abuse, but I do think that it requires giving each individual person a chance to show love and be loved.

      • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

        That at least is a bit easier I suppose. But it’s still harder than you’d think, given how much people can still actively move to hurt me.

        For example, I can be fired for not being straight– I have no legal protection from this sort of vindictive firing, and Texas is a “Right to Work” state. If I open up, there’s a very good chance that I’ll lose my job.

        I’m safer, in that regard, assuming that they’re bigots until they show otherwise. ANd living in poverty woudl be hard enough on its own, never mind for someone who isn’t straight– it’s not a coincidence that non-straight people are vastly over-represented in the homeless population, with parents kicking their gay and lesbian children out on the streets and employers firing them for not being straight.

        And this is the world conservative Christianity _wants_ for America, based off of the laws that are continually pushed in to place.

        • SamRocha

          “I’m safer, in that regard, assuming that they’re bigots until they show otherwise.”

          This may be a matter of survival, but it also approximates the sort of anxiety I sense from the other side, too. Finding a place where we can begin to heal each other and ourselves will no doubt be terrifying, but that’s precisely the point, I think: we are terrified of love.

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            In order for that place to exist, as you and I both wish, conservatives will stop trying to actively hurt me. You can’t run a hospital when one better off group of patients is actively beating up on another, worse off group.

            The fear that conservatives feel is a fake, manufactured fear designed only to motivate them politically– it has no basis in reality. There is no “gay gestapo” looking to put people in the “gaylag archipelago”– things like this are nothing more than lies spread by conservative Christian preachers. The only “gay agenda” I have is “I’m going to go to the store and buy some food, then come home and make a good meal for my family, maybe catch a movie later”. Frightening, isn’t it?

            Am I supposed to lie and say that the conservative fear is real, just to make them feel better– instead of pointing out that they have no reason to be afraid to begin with?

            There is no religious oppression going on. No one is forcing pastors to perform gay marriages. No one is forcing religions to say “we approve”. Or even to say “we love you” and mean it. People aren’t being jailed for holding religious beliefs– if that was the case, Rev. Fred Phelps would have died in prison.

            Well, in some places there is I guess; in North Carolina, conservatives put in to law a punishment for performing gay marriages which would indeed put pastors in jail for doing it. But that’s not something the LGBTQ rights movement is pushing, that’s something the conservative movement is pushing. So I guess religious oppression is happening– it’s just that the ones doing it are the conservatives themselves.

            Am I supposed to lie and say that religious conservatives are being oppressed, just to make them feel better, instead of pointing out that they are the ones doing the religious oppression?

            I’m not certain that you make a convincing argument that I’m “terrified of love”. I just don’t see any love coming from conservatives to begin with, certainly not towards me. I’d be perfectly okay with a live and let live situation; I just don’t define “live and let live” as “conservatives wish to put their beliefs in to law and enforce them on me, making my life miserable.”

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            Also, I apologize for the constant edits. I’m trying to keep this coherent and polite, since you are doing the same :)

          • SamRocha

            No problem.

          • SamRocha

            I think the first problem is labeling. “Conservatives” is a poor moniker, just like gay or LGBTQ or anything else. I tend to find the fears on both sides verifiable in different ways, often against the logic of either side. For instance, it is remarkable that each “side” seems collectively sure that they are losing. This strikes me as rather odd. More than odd, I think it show this terror of love. But love can only be between persons who are willing to understand each other on their own terms. That these terms are not the whole truth is of course to be expected, but the motivations and stories of how those terms came to be the case, is the more real truth of it all.

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            I don’t agree with that. I have faith that that the arc of the moral universe, as the good Reverend King once said, bends towards justice– that “my side” (IE, the civil rights movement), is winning, and ultimately will win in the end.

            But that’s not a reason to stop worrying about the real people that are being hurt in the meanwhile. It is the people who are being hurt that Jesus asked us to worry about the most– the least fortunate of his brothers and sisters.

            And I haven’t seen a good argument yet that civil rights opponents are actually being hurt by this debate. I hope you understand that I am surrounded by conservatism, I understand it very well– well enough that people believe that I’m “in” the group, because it’s safer to hide who I am than to just be myself.

            No, feeling irrational, manufactured fear that has no basis in reality isn’t “being hurt”. The conservative culture of fear and oppression is self-induced; more comparable to the results of overindulging one’s gluttonous urges than being the victim of someone else’s wrath.

          • SamRocha

            My sense is that the moment when you think “your side” is God’s side, is precisely the moment when it is time to revise your view of things. But I may be wrong about that. I just posted a follow-up to this post, maybe you’ll find it more useful than this one.

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            Having faith in seeking justice and equality for all is not a bad thing, nor is it mutually exclusive with Christianity.

            I never said God was on my side, but rather that the morality of love and equality will, ultimately, be victorious over the morality of fear and exclusion.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            What if homosexuality is inherently unjust?

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            I have no intention of answering stupid questions like that.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            It isn’t a stupid question. What if homosexuality is denying a the positive good of procreation to the person you claim to love, simply by denying them the chance at finding a heterosexual partner? I would call that inherently unjust. It’s the entire reason the church claims that homosexuality is inherently disordered- because it removes from the beloved the ability to be the best human being that they can.

          • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

            Procreation is not a positive good. It simply is. Just because someone procreates doesn’t mean they are doing something good, in fact, in many cases they are doing something bad, because they procreate with the intention of indoctrinating the child instead of educating them.

            Non-straight couples will actually provide a net benefit anyway, through adoption of children that are otherwise neglected by straight society. Or to put it more bluntly: Because straight people keep procreating irresponsibly, non-straight people need to try to clean up your mess.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            “Procreation is not a positive good. ”

            And with that, we have the basic problem isolated. You hate humanity and wish to see it extinct.

            You’re bigoted against humanity, and you wonder why humanity doesn’t celebrate that?

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      Move to Oregon, where a gay federal judge has basically said that all religion that suggest that gay is wrong, is bigoted and should be excluded from society.

  • Stacey (the kids’ Aunt Tasty)

    This is brilliant! Lovelovelove.

  • Episteme

    To be fair, attempting generosity can have disquieting results. As a center-right conservative, I don’t generally debate controversial issues with those on the Left. However, when discussing matters with other conservatives (either online or with my family & friends), I’m famous for playing Devil’s Advocate and either offering a more generous explanation for a liberal position (in light of their perspectives, normally dealing with others not so training in social sciences) or else still disagreeing utterly but staking a position on the humanity and dignity of my ideological opponents (feeling that I can do no less from a position of humanity, much less virtue).

    ‘Liberal’ and ‘RINO’ are among the nicer things that I get called for doing so… ;)

    (I have a far-left friend who’s taken to often doing the same thing on her side after hearing my stories and now reports being yelled at for selling out the revolution!)

  • Episteme

    To be fair, attempting generosity can have disquieting results. As a center-right conservative, I don’t generally debate controversial issues with those on the Left. However, when discussing matters with other conservatives (either online or with my family & friends), I’m famous for playing Devil’s Advocate and either offering a more generous explanation for a liberal position (in light of their perspectives, normally dealing with others not so training in social sciences) or else still disagreeing utterly but staking a position on the humanity and dignity of my ideological opponents (feeling that I can do no less from a position of humanity, much less virtue).

    ‘Liberal’ and ‘RINO’ are among the nicer things that I get called for doing so… ;)

    (I have a far-left friend who’s taken to often doing the same thing on her side after hearing my stories and now reports being yelled at for selling out the revolution!)


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