Gay-hatin’ Gospel (pt. 4)

According to research by the Barna Group:

The most common perception is that present-day Christianity is “anti-homosexual.” Overall, 91 percent of young non-Christians and 80 percent of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a “bigger sin” than anything else.

How did such a strange thing come to pass?

Theory No. 4: The Exegetical Panic Defense

In American popular culture, the most accurate and affectionate portrayal of an evangelical Christian is Ned Flanders. Seriously. He’s overly earnest and myopically naive, but overall he is, like the majority of our evangelical Christian neighbors and relatives, a Very Nice Person. Barna’s survey results above thus present us with an odd conundrum: What is it about homosexuals in particular that turns these otherwise Very Nice People into viciously negative people characterized by their “excessive contempt”?

Part of the answer, I think, has little to do with homosexuals or homosexuality per se. It has to do, rather, with epistemology — with the need for certainty and the panicked hostility that surfaces when that certainty is threatened.

“We see through a glass, darkly,” St. Paul said, warning against the temptation to chase the will-o’-the-wisp of certainty. But American evangelicalism is largely based on the idea that certainty is not only possible, but necessary. Mandatory, even. This certainty can be achieved thanks to the one-legged stool of the Evangelical Unilateral.

That’s a made-up term, but it describes something real. It’s a play on the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral” — an approach to theological thinking that relies on the four foundations of scripture, tradition/community, reason and experience.

The evangelical approach to theological thinking is exactly like this Wesleyan method, except it doesn’t include tradition or community. Or reason. Or experience. All of those things are viewed, instead, as potentially corrosive threats to the pure certainty offered by scripture alone — by the unambiguous and self-evident, prima facie “literal” meaning of scripture. Such an approach requires not only that the text itself be pure,* accessible, infallible, inerrant and impervious to misinterpretation but also that the reader of the text be pure, insightful, infallible, inerrant and incapable of misinterpretation. It requires that the reader be some kind of Platonic ideal, a blank slate uninfluenced by culture, language, intellect or life experience. That is, of course, impossible. The point here, however, is not to evaluate or criticize this evangelical epistemology, or to point out all the ways in which it does not and cannot work, but rather to acknowledge descriptively that this is how American evangelical Christians attempt to view the world.

When faced with apparent contradictions amongst scripture, tradition, reason and experience, a Christian applying something like the Wesleyan Quadrilateral will attempt to reconcile them. A Christian applying the Evangelical Unilateral will, instead, determine that they don’t need to be reconciled and that any apparent contradictions between scripture and reason, or between scripture and tradition (i.e., how others have interpreted that same text), or even between scripture and their own life experience must be settled by embracing the apparent meaning of the former and rejecting the apparent meaning of the latter.

A rather vivid example of this is provided by our old friend Marshall Hall, proprietor of the Web site FixedEarth.com. Hall believes the Bible tells us that the earth is “fixed” — that it does not rotate or revolve, but sits unmoving at the center of the universe. Reason and experience explicitly contradict this belief, and tradition suggests that Hall is misinterpreting the passages he cites as proof of his fixed-earth theory, but he doesn’t care about any of those things. Sola scriptura! The Bible says it, he believes it, that settles it.**

Young Earth Creationism is another infamous example of this Unilateralist epistemology at work. The starting point for adherents of this belief is that the Bible teaches that the world is only 6,000 or so years old. If science claims otherwise, then science must be rejected.

That’s actually relatively easy to manage if you’re not yourself a scientist. Those of us who are non-scientists rely on the conclusions of expert others, supported by the assurances of their peers. This is all very authoritative and seemingly trustworthy, and rejecting it is no small feat, but it is still somewhat abstract, somewhat removed from our own direct experience. Rejecting science due to its apparent contradiction with scripture is still far easier than rejecting one’s own experience. That hits much closer to home and involves grappling with a far more difficult level of cognitive dissonance.

And that — the dissonance that comes from questioning one’s own conscience and experience — is what underlies what I’m calling here the Exegetical Panic Defense. This is what happens when an evangelical who has been taught to believe in the Big Gay Evil finally gets to know a flesh-and-blood homosexual human being and starts to think that, actually, this person doesn’t really seem like they are evil or a threat or righteously miserable due to their sordid “alternative lifestyle.”

For some other Christian, someone relying on something like the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, this can be an instructive experience. Those kinds of Christians are allowed, and even required, to learn from their experience, from their reason and conscience.*** For such people, this new friend (or old friend coming out with new information) will serve as a tonic against the idea that Christians ought to be characterized by an “excessive contempt” for homosexuals. (For a real-world example of just such a case, see this agonized and agonizing e-mail recently received by Andrew Sullivan.)

But for an evangelical relying on the Unilateral, weighing your own experience against the purportedly crystal clear teachings of scripture is verboten. Something’s gotta give and that something, in this case, is their own experience, conscience and instincts. That’s when the panic-inducing cognitive dissonance kicks in and fight-or-flight takes over. And then anything could happen.

The stakes here are higher than you may appreciate — their faith, and thus also their sense of identity, is on the line. The Unilateral requires a faith that is so inflexible it becomes brittle — it can never bend, only break. The crisis occurring for them is much like the one that happened to my college friend in Jericho — the young-earth creationist who was confronted with the ruins of a neolithic wall thousands of years older than his God. But in addition to the disturbing sense that the certainty they’d been promised is slipping through their fingers, these evangelicals are also forced to cope with the deeply unsettling thought that their own mercy may exceed that of God.

That kind of crisis can result in someone chucking their faith entirely. Or they may try to reassert that certainty even more forcefully. That effort — fearful, desperate, defensive, hostile, a bit too white-knuckled and wide-eyed, and vindictively proclaiming the rightness of withholding mercy from the undeserving — manifests itself as something that looks very much like “excessive contempt.” These Christians may not like the idea of lashing out against their new friend, but it’s less terrifying than the slippery, bewildering landscape of a world in which they can no longer say, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

This dynamic doesn’t account for the larger causes of the phenomenon described by the Barna survey above. It doesn’t explain how it came to be that an excessive contempt for homosexuals is the “most common perception” of American Christianity, for Christians and non-Christians alike. But while it doesn’t explain where this perception and this emphatically anti-homosexual teaching comes from, I think it does help to explain why it resonates and persists among evangelical Christians in particular. So I don’t see this theory as a broader explanation, but as yet another contributing factor.

We looked earlier at the case of other Christians who seem to begin with a visceral antipathy toward homosexuals and then seek a theological justification for it. This is almost the opposite of that — Christians who seem, against their own inclinations and their own better judgment — to adopt this antipathy on the basis of theological teaching they don’t seem wholly comfortable with. I’m really not sure which is worse, but this latter case seems almost poignantly tragic for all involved.

OK, next up, Theory No. 5: It’s the Politics, Stupid.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* “Pure” here meaning not only reliable and untainted, but also unitary and wholly without internal conflict, tension, contradiction or paradox. This approach requires that revelation must never contradict or seem to contradict itself. Any such contradictions, real or apparent, would have to be resolved arbitrarily, since this approach provides for — and allows for — no principle or mechanism that would enable us to reconcile or decide between competing revelatory trump cards.

** It bears repeating here that Marshall Hall’s claim of the pre-eminence of scripture is bogus. He claims, as all Unilateralists do, that he is treating the Bible with great respect as the final arbiter of all things. But this is not what he is really doing. What he is really doing is making his interpretation of the Bible the final arbiter of all things. Therefore what he is ultimately arguing is that he, Marshall Hall, is the final arbiter of all things. His assertion, in other words, is not really that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, but that he is. The ability to make such a claim about oneself without bursting out laughing requires about six different kinds of denial plus a heavy dose of duplicity.

*** It occurs to me here that this discussion inevitably leads us to the story of “Highway 61 Revisited” and to Abraham’s sacrifice on Mt. Moriah. Here we have the ultimate example of revelation in conflict with reason, experience and tradition (not to mention in conflict with conscience, sanity and every other example of revelation). I can’t find the Kierkegaard just now, so we’ll have to save that topic for a future post.

  • Jeff

    (testing to make sure I turned my tags off)
    I think I love you (in a totally non-creepy way)!

  • http://doctorscience.blogspot.com Doctor Science

    I don’t know if Exegetical Panic explains why homosexuality gets so much *more* panic than most of the many other things that contradict a simplistic reading of the Bible. But I do think that the risk for a fundamentalist of Exegetical Panic is going up all the time, so it becomes a constant source of stress.
    A lot of this is due IMO to the greatest philosophical achievement of 20th-century science: realizing that the quest for capital-T Truth means you have to give up capital-C Certainty. It took a while, but I’d say most scientists are now content with the idea that there are things that are in principle uncertain, that one way to learn is to get proved wrong, and that your ideas about the world are going to change. That’s why scientists can face situations like oops, we seem to have misplaced 80% of the universe — AGAIN without getting terribly bent out of shape about it — not that it wouldn’t be nice to have some answers we all agree about, but it’s not a horrible ontological trauma.
    But I think I think living in a world like this *is* an trauma for a lot of people. Perhaps 20 years ago I remember reading an article in Biblical Archaeology Review, in which the author was expressing irritation at historical-critical analysis of the Bible, because “what kind of real knowledge changes every generation?” Well, that would be scientific knowledge, actually, where even if new knowledge doesn’t sweep the old away, it changes it so it becomes gradually unrecognizable.
    For a lot of people the result will be Future Shock. I think this is what a lot of the “culture wars” are about: people who’ve been trained not to expect the shock of the new, being hit with it wave by wave.

  • Alexis

    @Frank: I think it’s a fallacy of a very high order to think that God, if such a being exists/ed, would be capable of using human language to create a text without ambiguities, requiring no interpretation and being entirely transparent to everyone.
    Human language is constructed by humans, so it’s necessarily loaded with all kinds of human baggage. It essentially only has meaning as it’s related to our world and the phenomena we experience, so experience is required to construct a meaning from language. Experience differs; therefore, people’s extracted meanings of language differ. Therefore, it’s not logically possible, let alone necessary to demonstrate ‘worthiness’, for God to create a human-language set of scriptures that can be uniformly clear and transparent and identical in meaning to everyone.
    Why God probably couldn’t manage it in any other way either: human fallibility.

  • Ember Keelty

    I think it’s a fallacy of a very high order to think that God, if such a being exists/ed, would be capable of using human language to create a text without ambiguities, requiring no interpretation and being entirely transparent to everyone.
    An omnipotent God, by definition, would be capable of anything. Could we conclude that either a.) No known scripture was authored by God, b.) Whatever god or gods exist is not (or are not) omnipotent, or c.) God (or the gods) for some reason doesn’t (or don’t) want everyone to be convinced of its (or their) existence?

  • Anonymous

    mcc said: What can one even say?
    mcc, one could try this!
    From the gospel (Luke 13):
    “1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
    I think the idea is fairly clear: you can’t use “acts of God” as a barometer for measuring the worth of their victims. Even in the Hebrew bible, when God did explicitly punish nations for their sins, he sent a prophet to inform them that he was doing so, so that there could be no confusion, no ambiguity. Is Hartline a prophet? Does he know any prophets? If he thinks it’s “obvious,” does that mean his intuition is better than that of the people in the story? Is he sure? Couldn’t that be pride? And so on and so on. Even if you can’t break his armor, you’ll surely plant the seeds of doubt in his audience.
    I mean, the real answer is likely to be that people like Hartline want to live in a perfectly-ordered world, where God punishes the wicked and rewards the good. But this is a profoundly antiscriptural position. Both Ecclesiastes and the book of Job soundly trounce this idea, and Hartline ought to know better than to promote it.

  • http://www.TheGoldenDance.com Michele

    Posted by: Jeff | Oct 26, 2007 at 07:15 PM :: I think I love you (in a totally non-creepy way)!
    LOL!

  • G-Do

    Damn it! Previous was me.
    @ember: this is just the old “If God is omnipotent, can he make a stone so heavy not even he can budge it?” type of paradox. If ambiguity is inherent in the definition of language (and indeed, some post-structuralists believed it was (William Empson was one, I believe, and Derrida was another)), then God can’t create an unambiguous text in any language. It would be like asking God to make water out of one oxygen and three hydrogens – he might be able to make that molecule, but it wouldn’t be water any more.

  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Goat

    [Tommy Lee Jones in "Men in Black"] A person is smart. People are stupid. [/Tommy Lee Jones in "Men in Black]
    These Fund’ists who are so virulently anti-gay also have an interpretation of the Bible that teaches that not only is Scripture inspired, but was directly word-for-word dictated. How they explain 1 Corinthians 1:14-16 in this light is beyond me.
    They are not just vehement in their anti-gaity, but in all of the beliefs that they cling to, no matter how untenable. Their answer to any evidence that what they believe is wrong, and maybe they need to rethink their interpretation of Scripture is to scream louder that their beliefs are right. Science finds that there may be a biological basis for same-sex attraction? Scream louder that homosexuals choose to be that way. Paleontoligists find a fossil of a dinosaur that lived 40million years ago? Scream louder that the Earth is 6k years old. Scholars find that the last book of the Bible was written in AD 100? Scream louder that it was written in 1611, in Elizabethan English (the language of the KJV was already archaic when it was put together, I guess the translators thought it sounded cooler in more old-fashioned language).
    Scream louder, maybe you will intimidate your critics into shutting up and going away, and you won’t have to consider the possibility that you may be wrong.
    Too bad my (ex) stepfather is gay. He would have made a great Fund’ist.

  • not someone else

    You get to look down on people and join in on punishing them, so you get that little sadistic thrill that comes from putting the big group smackdown on a helpless creature of god, but you don’t have to feel it makes you a bad person. Plus, you get a scapegoat to blame everything on. You can blame feminazis or homos for everything that goes wrong, and that makes you feel even more justified in ruthlessly punishing them.
    Religion really is quite a racket. I can think of few other things that allow you to indulge the basest of human instincts and feel good about it at the same time.

    You know, you’re right. In fact, you can take all hint of the supernatural and any pretense of religion out of that and still be right, and then you don’t have to worry about picky little issues like where the religion stops and the culture, sect, individual, and/or politics begins, or how eerily familiar and generic this behavior sounds if you’re looking at it from certain points of view.
    Ever figure people might just be jackasses? It’s a lot simpler solution than to say that there’s this one special category of idea that has managed to survive throughout history despite being both the very source of tribalist xenophobia and entirely divorcable from the general case of the human psyche.

  • jamoche

    I suspect it’s natural for people to desire certainty to some degree. What leads to some people having a seemingly desperate need for it?
    As Douglas Adams put it in the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”
    I carry an airbed with me.
    I had a friend who claimed the difference between a “biker” and a “motorcycle enthusiast” was whether you carried an airbed or just slept on the ground. By his definition he was the latter, but he rode with the former.
    I’ve wondered sometimes about the people who claim that anyone can interpret the Bible – what would they say if I told them that yes, I studied it just the way they said I should, and came to the conclusion that I still disagreed with them? What attracted me to being Catholic was the very very long tradition of studying and discussing what things really meant (yes, I know there are bad parts in our history, but on balance it’s pretty good – it’s not, despite what the fundamentalists I’d grown up in Texas claimed, a simple “the Pope says it, you must obey” thing).

  • Vo

    Zyzzyva, did you mean “sometimes Venus passes to one side, which is explainable by tilting the orbits” ?
    Because that’s not what caused astronomers a headache, nor what would surprise you from back garden observations. The problem is that sometimes Venus passes behind the sun and sometimes in front of it. Ptolemy doesn’t provide any method of knowing which happen, because this is impossible in his spheres model. That ought to be enough reason to start over, but actually atronomers who worried about this just decided that the inner planets orbit the sun, and everything else stays as before. Worse, the original Ptolemic model with the spheres remained popular, even though it now could not explain the observations of the Universe that had been made.
    It’s true that coming up with a heliocentric model that gives result as good as those of from 2000 year old geocentric ideas is actually pretty hard, the big challenge being the intuitive leap that the orbits are not circular. But you don’t even need a back garden to come up with that, just the right combination of insight and inspiration. Good luck!

  • Vo

    Jeff, I hadn’t considered the possibility that Christians reject thinking. If that’s what you claim then I suppose there is not much hope for such people. We will do our best to guide them away from sharp objects, sudden drops and other danger. For everybody who isn’t a Christian, simply observing the pendulum and thinking about it is sufficient to figure out that the unmoving Earth is probably an illusion.

  • Iorwerth Thomas

    An omnipotent God, by definition, would be capable of anything.
    Only in the case of absolute omnipotence, in which case God can break the laws of logic and therefore feed babies to Satan and still be good, even if the definition of ‘good’ is ‘does not under any circumstances feed babies to Satan.’ [1] This type of being is rather hard to talk about, hence philosophers and theologians generally prefer more limited concepts of omnipotence, such as ‘logical omnipotence’ [2] or ‘power omnipotence’ [3]. Mind you, it’s not clear whether God needs to omnipotent to be God, or merely just powerful enough to be ‘Almighty’. (Omnipotence is a sufficient condition for Almightiness, but probably not a necessary one; weaker models of God may well pass muster.)
    [1] Hence the philosopher Hilary Putnam’s answer to the paradox of the stone: ‘Yes.’
    [2] God can do anything that is logically possible. Note that communicating with humans without any ambiguity is most likely not something such a God could do, since the way human cognitive processes work makes pretty much everything ambiguous and context dependent by definition. He could communicate with the beings from X’Vgrrkx without ambiguity, since their cognitive processes don’t admit of it, but they haven’t done much lately, and despite His overwhelming love for them, He finds them rather dull and so doesn’t bother.
    [3] God is the most powerful being there is, not the most powerful conceivable being. Not strictly omnipotence as commonly construed, but then neither do gluons have colour as the commonly construed.

  • Ember Keelty

    Vo: Jeff, I hadn’t considered the possibility that Christians reject thinking.
    Some of them do. It’s really terrifying to watch. An example:
    Fundie: Yes, you are going to Hell. But Jesus loves you anyway.
    Me: If he loves me, why is he damning me to Hell?
    Fundie: He isn’t damning you. You’re damning yourself.
    Me: If he’s in charge, why doesn’t he keep me from going to Hell regardless of what I believe?
    Fundie: If you don’t believe in him, why do you deserve to go to Heaven?
    Me: If we’re talking deserving, why do I deserve to go to Hell? Does not believing in God make me evil?
    Fundie: No, but it means that your sins aren’t cleansed.
    Me: Couldn’t an omnipotent God cleanse my sins without my asking him to? Or come to me after death so that I can believe in him, and be cleansed then?
    Fundie: That isn’t the way it works.
    Me: Who decided how “it works”?
    Fundie: God did.
    Me: So couldn’t he change the way it works?
    Fundie: Why should he?
    Me: To save the people he claims to love from eternal suffering?
    Fundie: Why should he? He already works desperately to get people to believe in him in order to save them. If after all he’s done for you you still haven’t saved yourself, why do you deserve to go to Heaven?
    Me: If he hasn’t done everything he possibly could do to save me and others like me – up to and including changing the rules – isn’t it ultimately his decision that leads to some people being damned? And doesn’t that make him complicit in, if not responsible for, our damnation?
    Fundie: No, it’s still your responsibility. If you don’t believe in him, why do you deserve to go to Heaven?
    This is what I think of as the logical glass wall – something imperceptible is keeping her from thinking outside the doctrine box in a way that would allow her to answer my argument. Not that there’s much of an answer open to her, from what I can see. She could argue power omnipotence (thanks Iorwerth Thomas), but that would conflict with her concept of an all-powerful god. The only other possibility I can see is to concede that God does not love his people enough to do everything in his power to save them from the most horrific fate imaginable, or that God’s love is conditional on belief or righteousness.
    It’s even worse with young inexperienced fundies. Their arguments are also strictly limited to doctrine. The main difference is how little doctrine they actually know. Their arguments always come down to appeals to authority, like this one:
    Mini Fundie: It says so in the Bible, and the Bible is the infallible word of God.
    Me: How do you know that the Bible is the infallible word of God?
    Mini Fundie: My pastor says so.
    Me: Is your pastor always right about everything?
    Mini: Fundie: Yes.
    Me: And how is you pastor so knowledgable?
    Mini Fundie: He studied for a long time.
    Me: And what source did he study from, that was so authoritative as to give him such complete knowledge?
    Mini Fundie: The Bible.
    Me: And you don’t see a problem with that?
    Mini Fundie: No.
    Playing Socrates with these people can only end in headaches.

  • Zyzzyva

    The problem is that sometimes Venus passes behind the sun and sometimes in front of it.
    I defy you to see Venus passing behind the sun. See, the problem with venus (and mercury) is that, seen from earth, they never move more than some small number of degrees away from the sun. So you can only observe them shortly before dawn, or shortly after dusk. Hence Venus passing behind the sun is not a problem for Geocentricism, because it never happens -such an event can only be observed when the sun is below the horizon, in which case you can’t make observations, or when the sun is above the horizon, in which case you can’t see anything else anyway. It is impossible to see venus (or mercury, or any other planet for that matter) passing behind the sun.

  • http://d-84.livejournal.com cjmr’s husband

    It is impossible to see venus (or mercury, or any other planet for that matter) passing behind the sun.
    There’s some reason that seeing Venus pass in front of the Sun can happen during the day, but passing behind it can’t? Other than the Sun is in the way?

  • Zyzzyva

    No, no, you misunderstand. You can see Venus passing in front of the sun, because there’s a big black dot crossing the sun; you can’t see Venus passing behind the sun because there’s nothing to see.

  • http://d-84.livejournal.com cjmr’s husband

    Got it. The idea is that if one is sufficiently dedicated to geocentrism, then seeing Venus at one side of the sun, and then six hours later on the other side of the sun, is not sufficient evidence that Venus went *behind* the sun.
    (I apologize for thinking you knew sufficiently little about Astronomy to think that transits could not be seen; as penance, here’s the pictures of the last Venus transit I looked up in case they were needed:
    http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap040609.html

  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Goat

    Me: Couldn’t an omnipotent God cleanse my sins without my asking him to? Or come to me after death so that I can believe in him, and be cleansed then?
    One and a half more reasons why I’m Catholic. A Catholic would say that yes, God could cleanse your sins without your asking but He wouldn’t because He gave us the gift of free will so we could choose Him, and he will not violate our free will, and that we believe in final repentance, in which in that moment between when your cardiovascular and respiratory functions cease and your soul actually leaves your body, you are offered one final chance to repent of your sins and acknowledge Christ as Lord. Which is why Catholics believe that Jews, Muslims, Hindus and worshippers of the Invisible Pink Unicorn have a shot at getting into Heaven, and Fund’ists don’t. And why Fund’ists have the misconception that because Catholicism teaches the the aformentioned can go to Heaven, that means we don’t believe you need Jesus as your Savior.
    I’ve encountered Fund’ists who actually seem to gloat over the “fact” that everyone who isn’t a Fund’ist is damned to everlasting torment in the fires of a literal Fire and Brimstone Hell.

  • hagsrus

    offered one final chance to repent of your sins and acknowledge Christ as Lord.
    Suppose you found yourself in this situation and were being offered a last chance of salvation if you repent of your sins and acknowledge, say, Krishna or Ahura Mazdah or Quetzalcoatl as Lord?

  • Dahne

    I find it highly amusing that one of the Fundamentalist panic-words is “indoctrination.”

  • jamoche

    Suppose you found yourself in this situation and were being offered a last chance of salvation if you repent of your sins and acknowledge, say, Krishna or Ahura Mazdah or Quetzalcoatl as Lord?
    I suppose I’d feel like one of the characters in CS Lewis’s “The Last Battle” – the people who did good things in the name of the evil god Tash were accepted by Aslan; the people who did bad things in the name of Aslan were rejected. Assuming, of course, that it wasn’t actually Tash appearing at the last minute, but someone who said “all those good things you attributed to another god were really mine” :)

  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Goat

    Suppose you found yourself in this situation and were being offered a last chance of salvation if you repent of your sins and acknowledge, say, Krishna or Ahura Mazdah or Quetzalcoatl as Lord?
    Hmmmm…
    Well, Krishna or Ahura Mazdah, I could probably deal with- I actually used to pray to Vishnu, of whom I understand Krishna was an avatar.
    Quetzalcoatl, I don’t know about. I mean, didn’t the Aztecs, like, sacrifice humans to him? ‘Cause, like, demanding human sacrifice qualifies a deity as evil in my book.
    I’ve heard a story, probably apocryphal, that when the last Incan emperor, Atahualpe, was about to be executed a priest came to him and told him that if he would become a Christian, he would go to Heaven. Atahualpe, who had seen his people horribly mistreated at the hands of the Spaniards, asked him, “Will there be Spaniards in Heaven?” The priest answered, “Most certainly.” Atahualpe replied, “then I prefer to go to Hell.”

  • animus

    Jeff, I hadn’t considered the possibility that Christians reject thinking.
    It’s a classic mind-control technique. They are instilled with phobias about the horrible things that will happen to them if they question the group, and then taught “thought-stopping” as a way to prevent this from happening.

  • Bugmaster

    Well, it’s nice of Catholics to offer people that one last chance at salvation, but it still seems like their god is less good than Aslan. Aslan will let you into heaven if you did good things, regardless of whether you acknowledge Aslan as your savior.

  • http://jesurgislac.greatestjournal.com Jesurgislac

    And yet another current example of a Christian arguing that if he’s not allowed to be publicly homophobic, he’s not being properly Christian…

  • twig

    Quetzalcoatl, I don’t know about. I mean, didn’t the Aztecs, like, sacrifice humans to him?
    What I know about Mezoamerican gods you could put in a thimble with room to spare, but I think Quetzacoatl is pretty cool and I remember someone who knew a lot more about the Aztec pantheon telling me he wasn’t one of the ones that was often sacrificed to.
    Mmm wingy dragon god.

  • twig

    wind serpent. wev. too damn early.

  • http://quixote317.livejournal.com/ Quixote

    Jaguar-Paw, the Aztec philosopher, postulated that even though we can’t prove that Tezcatlipoca exists, you might as well sacrifice human hearts to him just in case he does.
    Found it in this Fark thread. Going back to lurking now.

  • hapax

    Suppose you found yourself in this situation and were being offered a last chance of salvation if you repent of your sins and acknowledge, say, Krishna or Ahura Mazdah or Quetzalcoatl as Lord?
    Personally, I’d be astonished if my shot at salvation depended on knowing the proper NAME to assign the Ground, Source, and Destination of All Being.
    I mean, what if the right name had those weird clicks in it? ‘Cause I can never get those right.

  • Jeff

    we believe in final repentance, in which in that moment between when your cardiovascular and respiratory functions cease and your soul actually leaves your body, you are offered one final chance to repent of your sins and acknowledge Christ as Lord.
    An old Jewish man has a heart attack on the sidewalk and is in grave danger. Mistakenly confusing him for one of his followers, a priest rushes over to administer Last Rites.
    “Do you believe in The Father, The Son and The Hoky Ghost?”
    “Oy! I’m laying here dying and he’s asking me riddles!”
    ==============================
    Quixote, since it also says: Still no cure for cancer, and that really, really sucks, I’d take the whole thing with a grain of salt the size of Cincinnati.

  • http://jesurgislac.greatestjournal.com Jesurgislac

    “Do you believe in The Father, The Son and The Hoky Ghost?”
    Yeah, the third one is pretty hoky… (or hoaky)

  • Jeff

    I mean, what if the right name had those weird clicks in it? ‘Cause I can never get those right.
    The Great Father Ah*na!oh^*ah!!!to condemns you to *!^ah*!to*.

  • Jeff

    Yeah, the third one is pretty hoky… (or hoaky)
    That’s what I get for posting before I’d really woken up.

  • http://jesurgislac.greatestjournal.com Jesurgislac

    It made the joke much funnier. In a “laugh at you not with you” kind of way.

  • http://quixote317.livejournal.com/ Quixote

    I wasn’t advocating the fark thread Jeff, just citing my source since I didn’t write the joke.

  • http://accidental-historian.blogspot.com/ Geds

    Ember:
    Re: sample conversations. Been there, done that. It’s a good part of the reason that I never really fit in with the fundies even when I thought I was one. It’s also why I tried to avoid having conversations with them as I was leaving my old church. On one level, I didn’t want to break anybody’s brain and I didn’t want to become an enemy/missions project. On another level, I just didn’t want to deal with it.
    animus:
    It’s a classic mind-control technique. They are instilled with phobias about the horrible things that will happen to them if they question the group, and then taught “thought-stopping” as a way to prevent this from happening.
    Dead on. When you hit a question you can’t answer, the appropriate response is, “I’ll just have faith.” It’s annoying, but it sounds appropriately pious and it’s common enough jargon that nobody bothers to question the implications.
    And that is one of the places where I run out of the ability to actually answer questions like the one posed by thread about homosexuality. I’ve met enough fundamentalists Christians who just don’t bother to think about why they believe what they do to believe that a lot of the questions we have can only be answered by saying, “Because that’s the way it is.” It’s an infinite chain. Bob thinks such and such is wrong because the pastor says it is. The pastor thinks it’s wrong because his seminary professor told him it is. The prof thinks it’s wrong because his mother thought so. And so on and so forth. Then you run in to the problem that in order to reach Bob, you have to convince him that the pastor isn’t perfect. If that pastor was Bob’s youth pastor who he really respects or something, you’re not just dealing with a misconception, you’re dealing with a misconception based on admiration. And maybe that pastor is a really, really good guy who happens to have one or two stupid ideas. You don’t necessarily want to run a full-on character assassination and you don’t want to risk having Bob say, “Hey, pastor was wrong about the whole homosexuality thing, so maybe he was wrong about the whole loving other people thing, too…”
    That, of course, assumes that you can get past Bob’s general feeling that the pastor’s opinion is worth more than yours, since he had a seminary education or is a much better known quantity. Confirmation bias is a problem in these sorts of cases…

  • DrGaellon

    Jesurgislac: “What does a lesbian bring on a second date?” – “A U-Haul.”
    That joke’s so old it’s on wikipedia

    You missed the flip side of the joke, though.
    “What does a gay man bring on a second date?”
    “What’s a second date?”
    Ian: So, when God’s demands seem to us to be immoral, we should demand an explanation from God.
    Or, at the very least, a mitigation of the immorality (cf Abraham’s argument with God over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jewish exegesis teaches that God RAN AWAY from Abraham because at the next logical step of the argument, Abraham was going to bring up “one righteous man”, and God would have had to spare both cities because of Lot.)

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    A comprehensive list of adult & red light areas in mumbai and other cities. Good information about gigolos and there where abouts. Visit:- http://mumbai-red-light.blogspot.com

  • Hula

    nigger nigger nigger

  • Hulabalooza

    nigger nigger nigger.


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