You might be an evangelical …

In addition to our unexpected hospital adventure this week we’ve also been puppy-sitting for my brother-in-law’s 6-month-old poodle (energetic, mischievous, adorable). Whenever there’s a quiet moment around here it seems that means someone is probably eating something that isn’t food.

My brother-and-law and his family are on vacation in Costa Rica. I was initially confused when told where they were going because, as an evangelical, I instinctively got fixated on the idea that this must be a mission trip, leading me to ask some awkward questions about what they would be building down there.

So let’s add that to the list of evangelical Jeff Foxworthy jokes: If your idea of a trip to the Caribbean involves building new outhouses for a missionary school, then you might be an evangelical.

Say whatever else you will about Foxworthy, but the man deserves credit for introducing an elegant joke structure that offers almost limitless possibilities. The guy has since made a fortune and I say he deserves it. I only wish that the anonymous genius who first uttered the immortal phrase, “Your momma is so ugly …” had also been able to cash in on that ground-breaking comedic innovation for the wealth and fame he or she also deserves.

Foxworthy’s “you might be a …” joke structure works for any cultural or subcultural group. You might be a tech geek … You might be a Mormon … You might be a tea partier … You might be a progressive … You might be a hipster … (For that last one: If Jeff Foxworthy jokes make you roll your eyes in condescension, then you might be a hipster.)

The jokes practically write themselves. Just articulate some observation about the group in question and toss away the standard kicker at the end. Start listing a few and it becomes hard to stop:

If you feel guilty for not keeping up with your quiet time, then you might be an evangelical.

If you have strong opinions about when, precisely, Amy Grant “sold out,” then you might be an evangelical.

If the first time you saw your uncle’s shot-glass collection, you wondered where he got all those fancy communion cups, then …

If you’ve never been skiing without rededicating your life to Christ at a bonfire afterwards, then …

If you’ve lost track of the number of “re-s” you need to add before “re-re-rededicate your life to Christ,” then …

If your favorite painters are Thomas Kinkade and Warner Sallman, then …

If you’ve ever forgotten to set your clock back at the end of Daylight Savings Time and your first thought at seeing the empty church parking lot was, “Oh no, I’ve missed the Rapture,” then …

If you never watched “Highway to Heaven,” not because it was too preachy, but because it aired on Wednesday nights, then …

If you knew that “Wednesday nights” in the previous joke was a reference to prayer meeting, then …

If you’ve ever tried to calculate the size of a tip in a restaurant based on how it would influence the waitress’s receptivity to the gospel tract you left with it, then …

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” If you just shouted, “Where?” then …

If you’ve ever seriously discussed whether using tabs constitutes cheating at Sword Drills, then …

If your answer to the question “What Would Jesus Do?” is “He would wear a T-shirt that says, ‘WWJD?'” then …

If you’ve ever been to a pot-luck dinner featuring more than three varieties of Jell-o salad with shaved carrots and mini-marshmallows, then …

If you’ve ever played the tambourine while wearing a tie, then …

If your gaydar is so bad that you think your choir director just needs to meet the right godly woman, then …

If you can’t look at Kente cloth without thinking what those colors stand for in The Wordless Book, then …

If you’ve ever informed someone you’ve just met that they deserve to suffer in Hell for eternity, and you said this without a trace of anger, then …

If the last rock concert you went to included an altar call, then …

If you own any clothing or accessories that you regard as “a witnessing tool,” then …

If you think the phrase “a witnessing tool” refers to something that’s good to have rather than someone it’s bad to be, then …

If praying in public makes you talk like a 17th-century Quaker, then …

If two acoustic guitars and a Yamaha DX7 keyboard are your idea of a “rock band,” then …

If the only High Church figure you don’t regard with suspicion is Bishop Ussher, then …

If you think that there’s nothing supernatural about the bread and wine during communion, but that there is something supernatural about a Ouija board made by Parker Brothers, then …

If your idea of communion wine is made by Welch’s, then …

If you know what burning vinyl smells like, then …

If your boss tells you you’re going to have to go on furlough and your first thought is that you’ll need to prepare a slideshow for the Sunday evening service, then …

If a sentence beginning “Lord, we just, Lord, want to thank you Lord, for just, Lord, just …” doesn’t strike you as either atrocious grammar or a speech impediment, then …

If you’ve ever thought of TMZ as kind of like a prayer list for Hollywood starlets, then …

If the words “submissive” and “head” make you think of gender, but not of sex, then …

If you think saying grace loudly is a good way to witness at The Olive Garden, then …

If you’ve ever discussed whether The Flintstones was set before or after Noah’s flood, then …

If your fantasy football team was selected based on the personal testimony of the players, then …

OK, I’ll stop there.

Plenty more where those came from, but that’s all the royalties I can afford to pay Foxworthy, Inc.

I realize that despite his popular success — and partly because of it — Jeff Foxworthy has never been highly regarded by critics and he’s never spoken of as “a comic’s comic.” The knock is that he pulls his punches and sands down the rough edges. You could put a disclaimer at the end of his act that says, “No rednecks were offended in the telling of these redneck jokes.” He can be a bit soft and safe, nerfing his punchlines and avoiding controversy.

So for those of us who like our comedy a bit darker and more transgressive, Foxworthy seems kind of tame. He seems like he might be able to do a gig in Tehran without rankling the authorities. Or maybe even a White House Correspondents Dinner.

But I don’t want to be a comedy snob. There’s plenty of room for Foxworthy’s gentle, genial approach even if it’s not my favorite flavor. Just because I take my coffee black doesn’t mean I think Starbuck’s should ban sugar. (Although it would be nice if those of us who are just trying to get a lousy cup of coffee didn’t have to wait in line behind 30 people ordering elaborate, syrupy milkshakes that take 20 minutes to frappé.) And just because I think Bill Hicks was a genius doesn’t mean I can’t think that Bill Cosby is one too.

Still, though, I think Foxworthy’s ingenius “you might be …” structure also remains an untapped mother lode for those who like sharper-edged material. Those jokes practically write themselves, too.

“If you’re seething with barely suppressed rage over the economic exploitation you’ve suffered every day of your life, yet you’ve been duped into redirecting that rage toward black people and Mexicans, then you might be a redneck.”

That sort of thing.

Or take the gently Foxworthy-esque, all-in-good-fun tone of Jon Acuff’s very funny “Stuff Christians Like” blog and dial up the honesty while dialing down the cautious tactfulness.

Stuff Christians Like No. 1070: Slut-Shaming.

Stuff Christians Like No. 1071: Anti-Semitism.

Seems like those jokes are just sitting there waiting to be told.

But since telling most of them would likely require both trigger-warnings and the sorts of NSFW language I try to avoid here, we’ll let those pass. For now.

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  • FangsFirst

    Chris Doggett:

    If you’re an ardent supporter of Campus Crusaders for Christ, but break out in a cold sweat at the world “jihad”…

    While I knew I could not be alone, it’s refreshing to be CERTAIN I am
    not the only one who went, “Wait, CRUSADERS? Is that REALLY the
    association you want to make?!”

    Jen K and Tom S:

    If your gut response to “May the force be with you” is
    “And also with you” you might be Episopalian.

    My Catholic girlfriend does that.

    Then again, she was once on the phone with me and–during a fit of
    disturbingly unusual non-work, as usually she drives herself into the
    ground with “responsibility” at all times–taking a quiz about Star Wars
    and said, “Darth…vah-durr? What’s that?”

    on the same note, Amaryllis:

    And one more: if you’ve ever sat in your Methodist spouse’s church and
    boggled at the idea that they really were going to sing all ten verses
    of that hymn, you’re definitely a Catholic.

    said girlfriend was more disturbed to find that communion did not occur
    in every Methodist service. She never took issue with the hymn-singing
    (and every Mass I’ve been to, they did sing ’em all).*

    Then again, I grew up in Methodist churches that happily left off later
    verses (the bulletins would *specify* which verses were to be sung, with
    the odd person accidentally going on. Once EVERYONE went on and my
    mother–the pastor–only commented afterward).

    I started to hate any time they would sing every verse, looking through bulletins to be quietly petulant about having to sit through *ALL* the verses.

    *She also likes to tell “You might be Catholic if…” jokes.
    One of her favourites is
    “If you open a box of cornflakes and wonder where all the crosses are, you might be Catholic.”

    I can’t remember the rest of them, as I had enough trouble even understanding that one. She definitely had to explain it to me.

  • Anonymous

    “*She also likes to tell ‘You might be a Catholic if…’ jokes.
    One of her favourites is ‘If you open a box of cornflakes and wonder where all the crosses are, you might be Catholic.'”

    If you eat potato chips by laying them on your tongue the way that the Priest lays the wafer on it during communion, then you might be a Catholic. (Something that I, in turn, picked up from my cousin when we were young.)

  • FangsFirst

    Chris Doggett:

    If you’re an ardent supporter of Campus Crusaders for Christ, but break out in a cold sweat at the world “jihad”…

    While I knew I could not be alone, it’s refreshing to be CERTAIN I am
    not the only one who went, “Wait, CRUSADERS? Is that REALLY the
    association you want to make?!”

    Jen K and Tom S:

    If your gut response to “May the force be with you” is
    “And also with you” you might be Episopalian.

    My Catholic girlfriend does that.

    Then again, she was once on the phone with me and–during a fit of
    disturbingly unusual non-work, as usually she drives herself into the
    ground with “responsibility” at all times–taking a quiz about Star Wars
    and said, “Darth…vah-durr? What’s that?”

    on the same note, Amaryllis:

    And one more: if you’ve ever sat in your Methodist spouse’s church and
    boggled at the idea that they really were going to sing all ten verses
    of that hymn, you’re definitely a Catholic.

    said girlfriend was more disturbed to find that communion did not occur
    in every Methodist service. She never took issue with the hymn-singing
    (and every Mass I’ve been to, they did sing ’em all).*

    Then again, I grew up in Methodist churches that happily left off later
    verses (the bulletins would *specify* which verses were to be sung, with
    the odd person accidentally going on. Once EVERYONE went on and my
    mother–the pastor–only commented afterward).

    I started to hate any time they would sing every verse, looking through bulletins to be quietly petulant about having to sit through *ALL* the verses.

    *She also likes to tell “You might be Catholic if…” jokes.
    One of her favourites is
    “If you open a box of cornflakes and wonder where all the crosses are, you might be Catholic.”

    I can’t remember the rest of them, as I had enough trouble even understanding that one. She definitely had to explain it to me.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    If you know what burning vinyl smells like, then …

    you might be a Texan. (Car seats, that is, though it’s not the seats so much as the driver that burns :) )

  • Lori

     Then again, I grew up in Methodist churches that happily left off later 
    verses (the bulletins would *specify* which verses were to be sung, with
    the odd person accidentally going on. Once EVERYONE went on and my 
    mother–the pastor–only commented afterward).

    I started to hate any time they would sing every verse, looking through bulletins to be quietly petulant about having to sit through *ALL* the verses.  

    Man, you Methodists are organized. I think the song leaders in churches of christ often pick the songs they’re going to lead that day while not paying attention during Sunday school. If they were expected to turn in a list, with verses noted, far enough in advance to be in the bulletin there would be a revolt. 

    As for which verses are sung, some songs have only 3 verses and we virtually always sing all of them. If there are more than 3 verses then 99% of the time we sing 1st, 2nd & last. That’s true even for songs that have a through line or sort of tell a story and don’t really make sense if you skip verses. 

    I get so sick of verses 1, 2 & 5 that at some services I just want to yell, “Let’s go hog wild and sing just verses 3 & 4”. 

  • FangsFirst

    Man, you Methodists are organized.

    Eh, depends on the church. They are intensely varied.
    And actually…I think that was mostly in the years my mom was typing the bulletins herself. And printing them. This is where I learned what “Kinko’s” was.

    I think once they skipped verses on the only hymn I like which severely irritated me (“Here I Am Lord,” which I feel just identifies my taste in music, considering the age of that one. Though I did also always like “On Eagle’s Wings” which just…really…further condemns me)

    Incidentally, not that it concerns me much–but I can’t *really* lay claim to your bill, as I am really an agnostic atheist anyway. She just felt that as a Christian parent it was her responsibility to keep me in church until I was reasonably “independent” to make sure I had a chance to get in on the believing. (she drew the line at 14).

    That said, she never took issue with my bringing books into church and reading them through the service. Including her sermons.
    Which I realize is disrespectful, but finding out what happened to Aahz and Skeeve was way more important to me personally.

    Amaryllis:

    Er…actually, I don’t get that one either…

    She said it was a reference to communion wafers.
    Most of the ones she told were pretty obscure, only her Catholic friends got them. I think even some of them didn’t get some, so don’t feel bad! (not that you were, I hope)

  • Amaryllis

    @ChrisDoggett:disqus : If you’re an ardent supporter of Campus Crusaders for Christ, but break out in a cold sweat at the world “jihad”…
    They’re weaselling out on that one: they’ve changed their name to “Cru.”

    Really. Cru.

    Because that totally doesn’t sound like crusader, I suppose. Officially, because they evangelize in more places than college campuses. (Actually, “Cru” sounds to me like wine; I wonder if they thought of that?)

    —-

    @FangsFirst: said girlfriend was more disturbed to find that communion did not occur
    in every Methodist service.

    Well, yes, that always struck me as odd, too; it’s like, where’s the rest of the service? But different ideas about communion are just one of those things that it’s better not to argue about.

    “If you open a box of cornflakes and wonder where all the crosses are, you might be Catholic.”
    Er…actually, I don’t get that one either…

    —-
    If you’re never at a loss or stumbling over a “just” when asked to say grace, because everyone says the same one for everything (“BlessusohLordandthesethygifts”), you might be a Catholic.

  • Lori

     They’re weaselling out on that one: they’ve changed their name to “Cru.”

    Really. Cru.  

    I assume the same PR genius came up with that as suggest that Blackwater change its name to Xe. Because no one will connect Xe to civilian deaths or mistreatment of employees or suspicious over-charges on contracts. 

  • 2-D Man

    If you think worship consists of singing seven different words eleven times, then….

  • FangsFirst

    I keep forgetting on the subject of “polite” comedians that Brian Regan is by far my favourite and deserves more acknowledgment than he seems to get.

  • Lunch Meat

    A few more:

    If you know that you’re allowed to say anything about anybody as long as you punctuate it with “Bless hir heart”, then you might be a southern US evangelical (or just a southerner).
    If your teacher or mentor has ever given you an inspirational book or study guide, but has ripped out pages that zie disagreed with doctrinally, then you might be an evangelical.

    If you identify as female, but can sing in complete sincerity and without batting an eye, “Good Christian men, rejoice,” “Rise up oh men of God,” “Thou my true Father and I thy true son,” and “Here I am, knowing I’m a sinful man,” then…

    If you have ever been discouraged from becoming a preacher, song-leader or public pray-er by someone telling you, “Oh, but women are the true leaders! Women lead from behind the scenes! They talk and gossip with each other and make decisions informally, influence their husbands, and get to teach the next generation!” then…

    (If you later wondered why it is that no one teaches classes on talking and gossiping or influencing one’s husband like they do for preaching and song-leading, then you are probably no longer an evangelical.)

  • Lori

     If you later wondered why it is that no one teaches classes on talking and gossiping or influencing one’s husband like they do for preaching and song-leading, then you are probably no longer an evangelical.  

     

    So true. So painfully true. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    If you’ve got a complete collection of AWANA awards and citations going from Cubby to JV…

    If you spent your childhood attending Autumn Harvest Festivals in the fellowship hall or church gym rather than trick-or-treating…

    If your parents ever warned you to beware the temptations of Bible Camp…

    If, on entering a Church of Christ sanctuary you feel a deep-seated unease you don’t understand until you consciously realize that not only is there not a piano on one side of the stage and an organ on the other, the room has been designed so there is no place for those instruments…

    If you can still hum the books-of-the-Bible song…

    If your parents hesitated about letting you see Jurassic Park because of the evolution, not the man-eating dinosaurs…

    If you still have fond memories of Adventures In Odyssey

    If it came as a stunning revelation to you when you realized that smoking, drinking, dancing and believing in evolution aren’t actually prohibited by the Bible…

    If the college you attended had “Social Clubs” with names made up of Greek letters, who sometimes held “foot functions” on Friday nights…

    If you know what a “foot function” is…

    If playing D&D was an act of youthful rebellion…

    If you believed Mike Warnke’s stories…

    If it shocked you to hear your Dad say “darn it!” in anger…

    If it blew your mind when you finally realized capitalism wasn’t a Biblical commandment…

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Speaking of “Joy, Joy, Joy”, did anyone else sing “I’ve got that opposition to conscription down in my heart”?

  • SeniorMom

    Ah, the Wordless Book.  Green cover, but you started with the last page which was gold.  Gold for heaven (streets of), but you couldn’t get there unless you went to the beginning of the book and the black page (sin) and worked through the red page (blood of Christ) to the white page (heart washed clean of sin).  Only then (after you said the magic words, of course) were you eligible to walk the streets of gold.  Oh…the green cover stood for growth.  Anyone remember the song “Read your Bible, pray every day, pray every day …and you’ll grow, grow, grow?”

  • Dan W

    I was not raised evangelical, so I’ve had to look up a few phrases I read here. I’ve learned a lot about evangelical Christian culture from both this site and Stuff Christians Like. Now if only I could think of some good “you might be an atheist if…” jokes. Problem is there’s little more to being an atheist than not believing in god(s). Oh well.

  • Dan Audy

    Atheism jokes work as well as Evangelical ones provided everyone hearing the joke is a member of (or at least well aware of the internal behaviours) that subgroup of atheists.  Unfortunately atheists have consistently resisted labeling of their various subgroups so you can’t effectively tell a ‘you might be a Dawkinian’ joke because no one would know what you were talking about.

  • FangsFirst

    the other atheists I know, alongside myself, don’t have much in common as relates to our atheism. I think you would *have* to split it by “Dawkins-readers” or something to get any kind of workable “You might be an atheist if…” jokes. Even then I think it would probably stretch a lot even to cover those.
    (Most I’m trying to think of end up “…you just might be an asshole” as they tend to start, “If you know the ‘pink unicorn’ analogy and use it more than once a year…”
    as a side note: I have used this because I simply cannot think of an analogy that isn’t condescending. Usually I say, “So…imagine a pink unicorn, but pretend that isn’t condescending, because I really don’t mean it to be, I just cannot think of something that is simply not part of your world the way deities are not a part of mine…” If anyone has good suggestions, I am so very open to them.)

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    FangsFirst – If I’m understanding what you are seeking an analogy for, then I think I use a line I got from Sam Harris for a similar purpose: I have with respect to all religions’ gods more or less the same attitude that a religious believer has with respect to all-but-one of them. Which doesn’t feel condescending to me, at least.

  • Lunch Meat

    Dave–that makes sense to me, but it really doesn’t apply to religious people who are not monotheists.

  • Lonespark

    Right.  That’s my problem with it.  It totally doesn’t apply to most religious people I know, including the Christians.

  • Anonymous

    Doesn’t apply to all atheists either. I’m a hundred percent confident we don’t live in a monotheistic world. Only ninety percent that we don’t live in a polytheistic world; it might just be that none of the gods are interested in talking to me.

    Also, Lonespark, I PMed you on Dreamwidth, I don’t know if you saw…

  • FangsFirst

    FangsFirst – If I’m understanding what you are seeking an analogy for,
    then I think I use a line I got from Sam Harris for a similar purpose: I
    have with respect to all religions’ gods more or less the same attitude
    that a religious believer has with respect to all-but-one of them.
    Which doesn’t feel condescending to me, at least.

    No, that’s actually good with that phrasing. When specified, it always came off as insulting to Hellenic Reconstructionists (though I still have difficulty figuring out how that works, in all honesty, I have no *desire* to be knowingly condescending over such things), but saying “The same way you think of other gods,” is perfectly reasonable, as it basically works for any believer of any kind as an explanation.
    Other than the people who say “eh, all manifestations of the same thing viewed through different lenses.”

    ako:

    (Although it helps to not push it on people who aren’t
    expressing an interest, and avoid having a “Well, obviously you’ve never
    anything like my mind-blowing wisdom before!  Hear and be deconverted!”
    attitude.)

    Yep. I mostly was trying to explain it to my mom (who is very good at giving me the space for my own beliefs, but not very good at understanding them) and couldn’t ever figure out the right way.

    (hilariously, the Catholic girlfriend gets it better. We’re talking one of the only (if not THE only one) ones wearing a mantilla to Mass, insistent that missing Mass is a mortal sin, loves finding people to do Rosaries with–serious, serious Catholic)

    Of course, that made trying to explain how I was failing with my mother to her worse–she has actual respect for how I (don’t) believe, so making a lame analogy with her is an extra crappy thing to do. And doubly condescending since she already gets it (which was a new thing to me–I’ve had a variety of positive to negative responses, but never before *understanding*)

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    Ah, the one god further thing. I imagine that works fine until you meet a henotheist or a hard polytheist. Heck even a soft polytheist would probably look at you oddly.

    (Personally I am a monotheist but every time I hear that used I think atheists have been around monotheists too long).

    The primary problem I have with the pink unicorn analogy is why do they have to be pink? Also it contributes to the Holywood Atheist stereotype, which isn’t helpful. 

     

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I think the pink is honestly subconscious sexism.  Hear me out because it sounds a bit strange just hearing it blurted out like that, but basically the way I see it, the (unconscious) mental process is:

    “I think belief is silly.  Belief in unicorns is something most people would consider silly.  For extra mockery let’s make it pink, because pink is a silly color.”

    And of course the reason someone would think pink = silly is that pink is traditionally a feminine* color, and women and girls have long been considered frivolous and unserious and… well, silly.

    I know that might sound like a bit of a stretch; but that’s the only line of thought I can think of that makes sense for the choice of pink.  (I don’t think it was random for that reason as well – I mean just think about it from a cultural standpoint for a second – does “Red Unicorn” or “Blue Unicorn” or “Orange Unicorn” bring up the same connotation in your head?  I’m guessing probably not for most people.

    *Don’t ask me why we gender our colors.  I’m an artist (not a good one, but still an artist), and the idea of colors having genders is baffling to me at times.  I mean I get it on a cultural level, but when I’m actually coloring an image it’s like “… the frak are you smoking?”   Maybe I’m weird like that though, I dunno.

  • https://profiles.google.com/ravanan101 Ravanan

    The pink definitely has an edge of sexism to it, but I’d say that the unicorn part does too. Looking both at the unicorn myth, and, both as its own memetic mutation and as a result of that mythos, how it is culturally perceived, the unicorn itself is a very “girly” thing.

    Unicorns, at least according to some myths, were said to serve (not sure if serve is the right word but oh well) young maidens. Add in their fantastic and magical nature, and you have a recipe for the dire, half-dragon form of the stereotypical pony obsession of young girls.

    The pink is just the crowning punch.

    I advocate we start using Optimus Prime instead of pink unicorns.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Fair point.  I suppose being a fantasy nerd unicorn doesn’t carry the same connotations to me as it does to the general populace at large >.> (Am I weird for thinking “Unicorn = Badass Mount”? <.< … course the requirements are fairly steep.)

  • Anonymous

    Mercedes Lackey had the thought that unicorns are badass mounts. She mentions late in the first Five Hundred Kingdoms book that now that a handful of unicorns have acquired the idea that war is…not ‘fun’. Noble, maybe? Anyway, they need to be paired off with warriors, and “how we’re to keep those boys virgins I don’t know”.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Gah, diqus may have eaten my reply >< (you may or may not get this doubled, depending) –

    I think the answer to that last question though is:  "Does it count if… _>

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    that pink is traditionally a feminine

    that’s relatively recent – 1950s, perhaps? Pink used to be the colour associated with young men, on the grounds that it was a dilute red, and red is a strong, bold, masculine colour. Baby blue was the feminine colour, because blue was the calm, cool, colour of Mary. I’m not sure when or why the shift took place.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I know, but regardless of the recentness of it, it’s still the current weirdness we’re living with.

    (Gendered colors… who the frack comes up with this stuff!?)

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux
  • Tonio

    I think the pink is honestly subconscious sexism.

    There may be something to that – I’ve run into a few male atheists who believe that women tend to be more religious.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Would surprise me not at all.  It’s a freaking shame, but unfortunately a lot of guys who are otherwise progressive are still sexist as all hell.

  • Anonymous

    Ugh, don’t get me started on sexism among progressive men!  The absolute worst is when some dude comes onto a feminist blog and says stuff like “I always preferred tomboys” or “Real woman have curves” or “Too much make-up just looks bad”, and has no idea why those are not feminist statements.  It’s still all about what his dick wants.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Yep.

    I think some of it is a lack of education – and that can be remedied – but said people have to want to understand… most don’t seem all that interested since they have a fairly sweet gig as it is.  A lot of it is just plain old privileged jackassery.

    Blergh.

  • https://profiles.google.com/ravanan101 Ravanan

    But banancat! I’m a feminist! Really really feminist! And the only reason I can’t get a girlfriend is that I’m a nice guy and women are only interested in good-looking, insensitive jackasses! And I don’t buy into that whole thing that women have to meet this one standard of beauty, they just have to appeal to my tastes!

    And if I go any further on this track I suspect I will have to strangle myself using my own tongue. The thing I find truly embarrassing is that there was one point in my life when I could have said most of that with faaaar too little irony (most of which would be in the last sentence). What’s truly baffling to me about my nice-guyism is that somehow I simultaneously thought that women were only interested in good-looking assholes (nice-guyism at its “finest”) and yet I still didn’t blame the girls I asked out about rejecting me or think they were just going for someone better looking irrespective of personality. Maybe the signs that there was hope for me yet?

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    This is where I had weird luck… I asked out a total of two girls ever – and both accepted without hesitation.  This… doesn’t make a damn bit of sense to me.

    Worst part?  Looking back, I was the good looking insensitive jackass.  (x.x)  (Both broke up with me for it.  Sadly it took me awhile to understand what had actually happened.)

    I admit some of it was just how I was raised but I still facepalm at myself every time I think about it.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Becka – Most of the polytheists I’ve met can still generate a huge list of deities described by religious traditions in the world that they personally do not believe exist, and even a few faith in which they consider actively bad mental hygiene, so the analogy still tends to make sense to them.

    But I do know a few self-described pantheists who adopt the attitude you seem to be talking about — the idea that all gods exist — and you’re right, this analogy doesn’t work very well for them.

    (Personally I don’t know what deities exist in the world, but I find it extremely likely that I’m atypical in that respect only in that I’m aware of my ignorance.)

  • Anonymous

    That “just like you feel about the gods you don’t believe in” sounds pretty good to me. I didn’t arrive at monotheism by subtraction, though; my thought process was/is more like “I am definitely a theist; now which of the competing alternatives makes the most sense to me?”

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Robyrt – Just to be clear, I don’t think the “just like you feel about the gods you don’t believe in” thing works as an argument against religious belief. Which is OK with me, as I don’t find such arguments especially worthwhile.

  • hapax

    That “just like you feel about the gods you don’t believe in” sounds pretty good to me.

    I have people who have tried that one on me and it just baffles me.

    I don’t disbelieve in ANY gods — or dragons or unicorns, for that matter — I just haven’t met them, save the One I worship.

    But when I try to convey that understanding to the people who use the analogy, it’s pretty clear that that isn’t what they meant, no, not at all.

  • ako

    I have the same problem with the pink unicorn analogy.  It describes certain features very well (from my perspective there doesn’t appear to be any significant evidence, many religions seem to have weirdly self-contradictory descriptions of the deity, and the whole thing doesn’t sound to me any more true, logical, or necessary than unicorns – and actually, being a die-hard fantasy reader from an early age, I’m more emotionally drawn to the idea of the universe containing dragons, fairies, and unicorns than it containing any sort of deity).  But in practice, it doesn’t go over at all well.

    I don’t know of a good way to convey the same point.  There’s a big gap in perception, and for an atheist who’s not particularly longing to be turned into a believer, it’s hard to describe without sounding really insulting.  (Although it helps to not push it on people who aren’t expressing an interest, and avoid having a “Well, obviously you’ve never anything like my mind-blowing wisdom before!  Hear and be deconverted!” attitude.)

  • Anonymous

    This is one of my favorite things about Slacktivist, and Slacktivist comment threads. Respectful atheists who understand that trying to ‘deconvert’ the theists is exactly as annoying as the theists trying to convert them. In another community I hang out in, we’ve a fellow who said, in front of a Baptist, a Catholic, a Christian/Shamanist, and a Unitarian Universalist, that one part of his definition for “very religious” was irrational and incapable of deeper thought. And then couldn’t understand why everyone was raising an eyebrow at him (almost everyone. The Catholic girl wasn’t so much raising an eyebrow as ranting furiously).

    It’s really, really, really awesome to be able to have a conversation about the differences between religions, to joke affectionately about the idiosyncrasies of our own and each other’s religions, to discuss atheism and religion alike without trying to push either side on the other.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Agreed totally.  I’m able to be myself without worry.  Heck, nobody even seems to find it weird that I at once don’t believe and yet happily (and vigorously) defend other people’s right to do so. 

    And I particularly love threads like this where I can share goofy stuff from my past and see others doing the same.  I know it’s a bit cliche to say it but… it’s great knowing I’m far from alone.  It’s just kind of isolating sometimes.

    I dunno.  It’s a good place, that’s the point really.

    And nobody has yet attacked me with a sheep, goat, or anything else of the sort.  (I do believe a badger was flung at some point but that may have been intended for another person and I was just in the way…)

  • Lori

     Heck, nobody even seems to find it weird that I at once don’t believe and yet happily (and vigorously) defend other people’s right to do so.  

    It would be hard for many people here to find that weird since we feel the same way. That’s actually one of my core beliefs, the old “I may not agree with what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

    As long as people aren’t trying to impose their religious beliefs on others I will go to the mat for their right to have those beliefs. I disagree with those beliefs. I find it hard to understand how people can hold some of them because to me they seem so obvious untrue. However, I’m well aware that people are entitled to their beliefs so I try to keep my stronger WTF? reactions to myself. 

  • http://jakobknits.blogspot.com Jake

    I agree that trying to deconvert religious people is obnoxious and shouldn’t be done, but to be honest, I gave up a couple years ago on trying to take part in any discussion on Slacktivist that might include atheism, because I found that simply not trying to deconvert others wasn’t nearly good enough for the local consensus. I stepped back from this community in large part because every time I expressed simple confusion about how religious belief works, or tried to describe my own experience of religious belief (or lack thereof), or express my understanding of the world without forcing them on anyone, I got a serious flaming for being disrespectful.  It made me feel like I really wasn’t welcome in this otherwise-wonderful community, which made me sad.

  • Lori

      I stepped back from this community in large part because every time I expressed simple confusion about how religious belief works, or tried to describe my own experience of religious belief (or lack thereof), or express my understanding of the world without forcing them on anyone, I got a serious flaming for being disrespectful.  It made me feel like I really wasn’t welcome in this otherwise-wonderful community, which made me sad.  

     

    I have no idea what your specific experiences were, so this isn’t directed at you (and all uses of “you” mean the general you , not the specific you). 

    I do think this is a convenient time to point out something I’ve seen more than once in the slacktiverse. Someone, often but not always an atheist, will question a particular religious belief by saying something like, “That doesn’t make any more sense than believing in Thor or Odin or some nutty crap like that.” 

    There are plenty of places in the world where that’s considered a perfect reasonable thing to say. This is not one of those places. It’s insulting to people who believe in Thor or Odin or whatever and there are people in the ‘verse that do, so the person who says it gets ripped for it. I’ve seen more than one of them react with great surprise and offense when that happens. 

    The same thing happens when we’re talking about sexuality and someone acts like being trans is obviously ridiculous or gross or both. We have people here who are trans. They’re not ridiculous or gross and they need to be treated with respect even if you don’t get it or don’t believe in it or whatever. 

    The same thing happens when we’re talking about kinks and someone says something along the lines of, “Well X isn’t that weird. Not like furries or something.”

    Same thing goes for other kin and a whole host of beliefs and ideas that are outside the mainstream. 

    This is a place where one needs to be very aware of using a set of beliefs or a group of people who are not actually hurting others as shorthand for stupid or ridiculous or disgusting. 

    People who are hurting others are fair game for mocking. Those who aren’t hurting others, aren’t no matter how weird or stupid you think they are. 

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Absofriggenlutely b An agreement, you has it.

  • Anonymous

    As a fellow atheist, maybe I can give you some insight.  First of all, the religious people in this community have likely explained their beliefs numerous times, even on this very board.  It could be simply that you need to LURK MOAR and make the effort to understand them, rather than asking them to make the effort to educate you.  Considering that the owner of this blog is religious, it’s not unreasonable to expect you to use Google or read old threads, rather than taking away from the conversation by asking people to rehash basic things that have likely explained many times already.

    Second, it’s very easy for genuine interest to come off as feigned ignorance when you’re online.  It’s also quite easy to make it sound like you really have no interest in actually understanding people’s though process and you only want to challenge them, or find out their arguments so you can try to poke holes in them.  And the “just asking questions” is a common way for concern trolls to maintain some kind of plausible deniability and pretend that they are innocent truth-seekers and the big meanies are just getting angry over nothing.

    Third, you have to consider how your questions are worried, especially when you are talking to people you disagree with if you are genuinely interested in understanding them and not trying to pick a fight with them.  Things that are taken for granted among other atheists will not be received in the same way among religious people.  Imagine if someone who is against abortion came to a feminist board and said “I just don’t understand how you can kill innocent babies.  Can you please explain it me?”  Of course that’s an extreme exaggeration, but it highlights how questions can be so loaded.  It could even be something like “How can you guys support abortion?  I just can’t understand why you would do something that would make me feel so guilty” and that would still be offensive.  The best thing to do would be to read comments and not expect everyone to rehash 101 stuff, but if that commenter insisted on asking the question, it could be something like “How did you come to be pro-choice?”

    Since this a religious blog, it’s up to you to word questions in a way that doesn’t sound like you are challenging their beliefs and that you really just want to know.  It’s also in your court to find things out for yourself and not expect others to educate you.

  • https://profiles.google.com/ravanan101 Ravanan

    If I’m gonna use something like the pink unicorn analogy, I usually make up a word. Like “Snarzlesplat” or “Yxylprynyc.” I throw in a couple of randomly chosen traits to this entity, and say I encounter yxylprynycs all the time. Obviously, the person I’m talking to has no conception of a yxylprynyc beyond the nebulous description I give.

  • Dan W

    Ah, I think I have one: If you have to think for a few minutes before you remember that it’s been years since you’ve been in a church, you might be an atheist.

  • Emcee, cubed

    If a pulpit, piano and even chairs are optional, but you’d seriously consider canceling Sunday service if the coffee urn is broken, you might be a UU.

    If someone brings up communion in conversation and you ask if they mean flower, water or animal, you might be a UU.

    If you’ve attended church committee meetings to discuss whether church activities are too religious, you might be a UU.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    If being a QUILTBAG individual is more or less a requirement to be the music director, you might be UU.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    If you know all the words to Spirit of Life by heart, and wish the music director would pick something else as the meditation music, you might be UU.

    If there’s a chalice on your hymnal, …

    If it bothers you that the chalice on the hymnal is aligned right instead of left …

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    Okay, Mike Timonin, you win EVERYTHING just for using the acronym QUILTBAG.

  • Lonespark

    If someone brings up communion in conversation and you ask if they mean flower, water or animal, you might be a UU.
    Oh, this is soo true, and funny.  

  • Daughter

    ‘If you know what a “foot function” is…”

    I don’t.  What is it?

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I don’t either, but I know it sounds kinky. >.> *badumptsh*

    … yeah I’m bad at humor.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    I don’t.  What is it?

    That’s what younger Southern Baptists who want to dance sometimes call dances to appease older Southern Baptists who still believe that Moses’ tablets would definitely have prohibited dancing if God had more room in the margins.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    That’s [Foot Functions] what younger Southern Baptists who want to dance sometimes call dances to appease older Southern Baptists who still believe that Moses’ tablets would definitely have prohibited dancing if God had more room in the margins.

    Oh! It’s Play Party Games! Gotcha.

  • Hawker40

    “That’s [Foot Functions] what younger Southern Baptists who want to dance sometimes call dances to appease older Southern Baptists who still believe that Moses’ tablets would definitely have prohibited dancing if God had more room in the margins.”
    “Oh! It’s Play Party Games! Gotcha.”

    Leading to the joke…
    Why don’t Southern Baptists have sex standing up?
    It might lead to… dancing!

  • Madhabmatics

    You can tell a lot about a religion by what they don’t recognize. Jews don’t recognize Muhammed as a prophet, for instance. Muslims don’t recognize Jesus as God. And Baptists don’t recognize each other in the liquor store!

  • Shadsie

    I’ve seen the “Stamp Collecting” analogy and found it inoffensive – but that’s probably because it’s incomplete.  It compares religion/faith to the hobby of stamp collecting and atheists are basically “people who don’t share the hobby of collecting stamps.” 

    Personally, I cannot stand people who use the pink unicorn analogy.  Everyone I’ve ever seen using it has *meant* to be condescending, and, like you said, there’s just no way not to be – this is why I prefer people not use it at all.  It pretty much *will* kill a conversation with me since I have zero tolerance for being approached with condescension (apparently, even when people may be doing it on accident!)

  • eyelessgame

    If you routinely get confused by people going on for another couple of lines after the Lord’s Prayer is over, you might be a Catholic.

    If you’ve ever been confused by a Lutheran approvingly noticing that your new postmodern church front “doesn’t have Christ crucified on the cross anymore”, you might be a Catholic.

    If you think the ninth Commandment is also about coveting, you might be a Catholic.

  • eyelessgame

    One more  – if a girl in a knee-length plaid skirt and white blouse makes you feel reflexively guilty, you might be a Catholic.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

     if a girl in a knee-length plaid skirt and white blouse makes you feel reflexively guilty, you might be a Catholic.

    Doesn’t work, unless Catholics feel guilty about that in a way entirely different from non-Catholics…

  • Anonymous

    Clearly, the Flintstones were pre-Flood. The dinosaurs didn’t fit on the ark, and that’s why they all died! Doesn’t everybody know that?

    Sorry. Ok, now that I’ve stopped channeling my 20-years-ago-self, let me say that yes, for polytheists, that description of atheism is very odd in terms of the “all-but-one” phrase but perfectly understandable on the whole.

    Jake, I don’t know that I remember that, but in the spirit of the Paganism 101 that we just had over at the ‘verse, let me open myself up for questions, either here or by email.

  • http://jakobknits.blogspot.com Jake

    Thanks Literata. I don’t have an email address for you. Do you mind sending it to me? You can reach me at jakobknits AT (the mail service provided by google). I don’t check that one too often, so it might take me a little while to get back to you.

  • Amaryllis

    FangsFirst: She said it [cornflakes] was a reference to communion wafers.
    Oh, I see.

    Reynard61: you eat potato chips by laying them on your tongue the way that the Priest lays the wafer on it during communion

    See, in my youth we used Necco Wafers for that sort of thing. Because the Body of Christ would be much more interesting if it came in pink and green and orange.

    @Jake: I’m sorry to hear that, and I hope you’ll give us another chance.

  • Tonio

    My wife went to Catholic school, and recently I handed her a Necco wafer, and she asked if she should say “Amen.”

  • Anonymous

    in my youth we used Necco Wafers for that sort of thing. Because the Body of Christ would be much more interesting if it came in pink and green and orange.

    And, while it presumably wasn’t what you were thinking of at the time, the association of Jesus Christ with the rainbow flag doesn’t seem unreasonable at all.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Going back to the previous page, I noticed some talk about church songs; and this reminds me of something I figure this would be a good place to ask:

    There is a song, I cannot remember the name, that our church sang at the very end of every service.  Sadly Google is failing me on this one, and I think it *may* have been an our-church only thing.  But just to be sure I figure I’ll ask here.

    Does anyone know this song? (This is I believe the chorus) –

    “May you increase,
    with the increase of Jesus,
    and find grace,
    to meet all
    your needs…”

    A lot of that song as I recall it was that chorus sung over and over again… but it could be that I was just very, very bored by the time we got to that part.  (It didn’t help that we’d have to hold hands until the song was over, and I recall it going on as long as 20 minutes at times.)

    I dunno, anyone heard that one?  It’s just a curiosity on my part is all >_>

  • Izzy

    @887618ca76f4bdea0b59b769bb987e7f:disqus : I am the resident uber-bitchy Slacktivite, and will cheerfully make fun of Scientology and similar. For me, the problems I’ve had with some atheist commenters are more–

    –well, I have no problem with people not believing. But getting asked “well, why do you believe that” on a non-101 post can bug me, because it comes off as expecting me to justify my belief. I don’t ask atheists why they don’t believe, nor do I ask people of different religions why they believe what they do and not what I do, so getting the question can seem obnoxious at times.

    Likewise, when I say “I believe X because of Y” or “Well, we don’t see a conflict with X because of Y”, and someone continues with the but-but-but arguments, *as long as X isn’t hurting people*, it’s irritating. I have reached my current spiritual state after twenty-some years and a lot of reading and soul-searching, and these things do not boil down well to Internet arguments.

    And, of course, there have been some people who responded to a post of Fred’s or a discussion on religion with “but all of that is bullshit” or similar sentiments. Or the pink unicorn analogy–which I dislike, honestly, because I’ve met a lot of dysfunctional Jean Teasdale types who have Serious Unicorn Things, and object to the association–or the “well, you guys believe stuff without evidence” statements. (Which…no, at least not in my case. I may believe stuff without proof; I do think there is evidence;  the same evidence doesn’t convince everyone, and that’s fine.)

    By and large, “Hey, it sounds like this means a lot to you. Can you tell me more about XYZ aspect?” works fine. “Well, let me point out this logical flaw! How do you like *them* apples, huh?” does not.

  • http://jakobknits.blogspot.com Jake

    Lori, bananacat, thanks for your help but I just want to make sure you’re aware that I’ve been a member in good standing of this community for nigh on seven years, so I don’t need its norms explained to me. I don’t blame you for not recognizing me, since like I said I haven’t really been posting for the last couple years, but I wanted to clear up any misunderstanding about that.

    Izzy, bananacat, I’m going to think about what you said.

    Apologies if there are things  I’m failing to respond to. I’m in the middle of packing up my apartment so I’m only skimming at the moment.

  • Lori

     Lori, bananacat, thanks for your help but I just want to make sure you’re aware that I’ve been a member in good standing of this community for nigh on seven years, so I don’t need its norms explained to me. I don’t blame you for not recognizing me, since like I said I haven’t really been posting for the last couple years, but I wanted to clear up any misunderstanding about that.  

     

    I understand that. That’s why I very clearly stated that I wasn’t directing my post to you. If I had meant you I honestly would have said so. 

  • Shadsie

    There’s another analogy I’ve come up with that I think works well.  I’ve actually used it myself in regards to trying to explain to atheists (on a different site, one full of people who think belief in anything makes one Chaotic Stupid) – I think it sometimes gets through, sometimes doesn’t. I also think it can go both ways:
     
    As a somewhat agnostic-Christian, there are things that have happened in my life that I consider miracles, but I know perfectly well others will see as coincidence or luck.  It makes me happy to think I may have experienced a miracle or two, but I know that’s “just something for me.”  To the rest of all y’all, I just “got lucky” and that’s fine.  My analogy is that the things that I “feel” and “sense” and just the plain out “way I think” are a lot like the difference between being an artist and being “normal.”  What I mean is, if you were standing in front of me in meatspace, “normally” I’d see “there’s a human.”  If you were to ask me to draw your portrait, you would cease to become a human to me and instead become a series of shapes and shadows – that’s me in “artist mode.”  It is a different way of seeing/thinking about the world visually.  If I am trying to draw or paint an object, an animal, or a person, I view them differently than when I’m just easy-going looking at them. 
     
    One can even rightly say that this “artist-sight” is something that’s been “indoctrinated” in me – it’s been taught to me by various teachers and carefully self-trained.  Even so, it’s not going away, nor do I want it to.  One can even argue that despite the training, I was a born artist as all little kids love to play with crayons before they even know what to do with them.  I also think that all of us are born with the potential to be artists, but not everyone wants to become one.  Trying to explain the mechanics of what I do and how I see to someone who is severely a non-artist (to the point of complaining they “can’t draw a straight line”) seems an impossible gulf.  I don’t have magic powers – I just know a skill and have an active “different way of thinking” about what I see. 
     
    As an artist sees the world differently than a non-artist, a believer will see the world differently than a non-believer and vice-versa.  Use whatever side of the analogy that works for you. It may sound condescending for a believer to say that they essentially have an “artist sight” to view things normally unnoticed, but an atheist can turn that around and say that they have the “artist sight” in that they “see past the magic.”  Either way, if you present it as neutral (both ways of seeing the world work for people), I think it could possibly work.
     
    If speaking with someone who thinks artists are special, magical creatures, however, pick something else – an athlete who “sees in spatial relationships” or a cook who “experiences their craft in tastes and smells” the average person may not normally think in.  What is obvious to one person is alien to another – it all varies from person to person.  

  • Tonio

    As an artist sees the world differently than a non-artist, a
    believer will see the world differently than a non-believer and
    vice-versa.

    From what I can see, one source of conflict is when a believer attributes “miracles” to a force or forces that cannot be detected with the senses. At that point, the issue transforms from being about how one sees the world to being about what actually exists in the world. And the conflict wouldn’t necessarily be between the believer and the non-believer. Probably more often it’s between two believers who attribute different motivations to such forces.

  • Anonymous

    If the minutes to the congregational business meeting were typed BEFORE the meeting, you might be Presbyterian.
    All things decently and in order….

    (I promise not to kill anyone with sheep – this is just my first post here.)

  • Shadsie

    If it becomes a conflict between two believers, perhaps one can throw up one’s hands and say “Hey, I like French Impressionism while you like Surrealism.”  

    I think the only true problems arise when people hurt each other over it – and that goes for ardent non-believers hurting believers, too.  If I like to think “Hey, maybe it was a miracle that I survived that,” I’m not hurting anybody, especially since I’m not asking anyone to see it my way. If I’m telling you “You must see the miracle or you’re a bad person!!!” – feel free to smack me.  

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I just wanted to say, one artist to another – thank you for saying that the way you did.  I know it wasn’t the point of the post by a long shot – but the whole quasi-mystification of the creative process is… obnoxious to me.

    I’m not particularly talented – I have worked my ass off for every ounce of skill I’ve managed to scrape together.  Am I good yet? No.  But I see constant improvement, and I know that if I keep practicing I *will* get there – because it’s not about having the right magic gene or being born under the right set of stars or whatever:  Being an artist requires two things:

    1) Interest

    2) Drive

    Everything else is just a question of practice and education.  (I had little formal art training so that’s slowed me down in a lot of ways – I regret the few lessons I had that I blew off too… ugh what a mistake.  Long story that.)

    Same thing is true of writing as well.  It’s part of why I adore Stephen King’s book “On Writing” – while he occasionally drops a few seemingly-out there metaphors on you, it really is an incredibly down to Earth book.  It treats writing as what it is:  A craft.  My favorite analogy (I forget precisely who said it) being that writing is like woodworking – any idiot can put four legs on a flat board and call it a chair, but it takes patience, skill, effort and practice to put them together in such a way that it’s both beautiful and functional.

    I bring up the writing since, as I do both, I see a lot of similarity in both processes, even though functionally they’re very different skills and very different methods of presenting information.

    I love art because it’s me translating my vision to paper for everyone to see.  (The key thing is translating that vision accurately… which is where the skill factor comes in.)

    I love writing because I get to weave a hazy image of my vision… then let the reader insert their own elements into as well.

    ….

    Sorry, I know that’s really not the point or anything; it’s just rare I see someone say that and then I get rambling and as anyone else can tell you, I just don’t shut up when I get rambling about something of interest to me. ><

  • Tonio

    If I’m telling you “You must see the miracle or you’re a bad person!!!” – feel free to smack me.

    The issue is much broader than that. Probably everyone at Slacktivist would condemn people like Pat Robertson for claiming that Haiti was divine punishment. His claim was essentially that it was a “miracle” that so many people in that nation perished in the earthquake. Suppose you had a loved one who died in that disaster. If you treat Robertson’s claim as factual, do you convert to Christianity out of fear and urge all other Haitians to do the same just to avoid losing other loved ones? And if Robertson can’t prove his claim, he’s causing millions of people needless emotional distress.

  • Tonio

    OT: I would like to know Fred’s thoughts on “The Response,” in terms of providing context to Rick Perry’s theocratic ramblings.

  • Shadsie

    I’m afraid I do not understand what you are trying to say.  Is it “It’s wrong for anyone to believe in miracles because some people who believe in them do so in a really crappy way?”  – Because that’s what I’m getting here, and I have to disagree.  Pat Robertson’s horrible ideas on “miracles” have no bearing on my being grateful for having survived something unlikely and wondering if there was something to it. 

    (And, as I said before, I’m somewhat agnostic so my entertaining the notion of a miracle is more of a function of my enjoying my imagination than hard-in aboslute surety about the existance of anything). 

    In any case, even if it’s somehow morally wrong, I’m not inclined to stop. 

    I’ll see your Hati case and raise… well, an article I remember reading about survivors of that very earthquake *gathering in the remains of their church* to comfort each other and to try to make sense of things. Some may not agree with the way they handled their grief – but I’m willing to guess that some of them probably thought it was a miracle that they survived. They could probably care less what Robertson thought, if they knew about it at all.  Again, his definition of “miracle” does not define theirs.  

     

  • Tonio

    Is it “It’s wrong for anyone to believe in miracles because some people
    who believe in them do so in a really crappy way?”  – Because that’s
    what I’m getting here, and I have to disagree.

    That’s not quite my point. I’m talking about whether things happen are actually miracles or have some explanation. By “miracle,” I mean any argument from incredulity, where one makes the leap to some type of supernatural explanation.

    It would be ridiculous to deem all such explanations as morally wrong. My objection is to offering such explanations for things that happen to others. Bluntly put, if Robertson can’t prove that the Haitians were being punished by a deity, he needs to shut his mouth or the Haitians should shut it for him. Part of the problem is that people like Robertson only claim divine actions when these benefit themselves.

  • Shadsie

    To JJohnson in case the replied-to tag doesn’t show up:

    I write, too – I’m not published in any significant way yet, but I’ve been trying.  I like to illustrate and make covers to my own work for fun.  That’s the advantage of doing art (and having some graphic design training) as well as writing.

    Indeed, I do not have magic powers – any more than a halfway decent cook has magical food-powers.  It’s pretty much interest and practice.  Sometimes it’s fun to act like I’m magic to people, but there’s a limit and people really ought to know the truth – that it’s pretty much sweat and feeling inadequate when seeing the work of superior artists.

    A bigger pet peeve of mine is how people want me to do art for them for free just because I can.  It’s like “Draw me this!” “Paint me that!” yet they don’t expect me to want to make a living off it and get offended if I ask for anything in return.

    I remember an outright fight with my brother in law over his wanting me to paint a horse skull/jawbone for him (… I paint bones…) just because he found it.  Eventually, we settled on him doing automotive repairs for me in exchange for the paint job.  I can’t tell you how many times people just expected me to whip out a random drawing for them, though.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Oh yeah >.< I've seen that happen to better folks before too; well and had it once or twice myself but I suspect those folks were trolling me.*  Definitely annoying My art teacher for the few classes I took said somethign early on that made good sense to me:

    “Would you ask someone to fix your car for free?  Would you ask someone to paint your porch for free?  No, of course not.  So don’t expect an artist to do it either – it’s a job.”  (I’m probably mangling her quote a bit but that was the gist).

    I’m open to doing basic stuff free for friends – but my colors take so long that unless I really, really, really like the person for some reason it’s just not happening on that level.  (I’m about 20 hours in on my current piece**)

    ; Speaking of which I should probably quit hanging around on slacktivist…. my webcomic has been hanging for awhile and that’s what the piece is for lol (thank you for indulging me – it’s appreciated!)

    *There was a stretch where I pissed some folks off and they spent a couple months trolling my DA page.  Thank goodness for the block feature!

    **Some of that is just me having been stupid early on though.  I’m new to outright painting, so I keep forgetting to work back to front.  (x_X)  So much backtracking.  However as I figure out my layers in GIMP2.0 I think that may cease to be a problem eventually.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYIMSCWWLA5XTAYXL3FXNCJZ7I Kiba

    A bigger pet peeve of mine is how people want me to do art for them for free just because I can.  It’s like “Draw me this!” “Paint me that!” yet they don’t expect me to want to make a living off it and get offended if I ask for anything in return. 

    Ooooo that chaps my butt when people do that. As a starving artist myself if you want me to paint something for you the least you can do is supply me the paints I need (if I don’t currently have them) to do the job.

  • Anonymous

    As a starving artist myself if you want me to paint something for you
    the least you can do is supply me the paints I need (if I don’t
    currently have them) to do the job.

    SING IT SIBLING. I am delighted to do custom jewelry, and once I’m a bit more confident in soapmaking and candlemaking I’d love to do custom work there too, but I am by all that’s holy getting paid for it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYIMSCWWLA5XTAYXL3FXNCJZ7I Kiba

    Oh, if I was doing something like custom jewelry you can be damn sure they would be paying me for it. I think my problem is that most of the people that want free artwork from me see me giving it away at Christmas, birthdays, etc. and not realizing that I don’t have a lot of extra cash to spend on buying gifts for people so they get artwork instead. I think all that goes through their heads is “Oh, well he gives it away anyway so what’s the fuss?” 

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I do the same thing sometimes >< (I have literally no money, so IF people get presents from me, it's art.  I like to think the effort shows I do give a crap, even if I lack the funds to show it in the more traditional way.)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYIMSCWWLA5XTAYXL3FXNCJZ7I Kiba

    Yeah I’m perpetually broke. I quit work in 2006 to look after my grandmother full time so the only gifts I can give people are of the handmade variety. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYIMSCWWLA5XTAYXL3FXNCJZ7I Kiba

    Oh, if I was doing something like custom jewelry you can be damn sure they would be paying me for it. I think my problem is that most of the people that want free artwork from me see me giving it away at Christmas, birthdays, etc. and not realizing that I don’t have a lot of extra cash to spend on buying gifts for people so they get artwork instead. I think all that goes through their heads is “Oh, well he gives it away anyway so what’s the fuss?” 

  • MaryKaye

    I think the Pat Robertson thing is being exacerbated by the confusion in recent Christianity and in Western culture in general between “believe in” and “worship.”

    My response to Pat Robertson is that if he believes in a god who does such things, he is morally wrong to worship that god.  This is straightforward from where I stand, but it’s not straightforward for people who think that to believe in a god is to worship that god.

    So, the problem is not that he thinks the Haitian earthquake was a miracle; the problem is that he worships a god whom he thinks commits such evil, which is something a good person should not do.  It suggests either a truly warped system of values, or craven abandonment of personal morality in favor of avoiding punishment/gaining rewards.

  • Emcee, cubed

    And Baptists don’t recognize each other in the liquor store!

    To add on from a story mother told me (though it is outdated) – And Catholics don’t recognize their priests at the banned movies…

  • Lunch Meat

    Oh, if we’re just posting jokes now…

    Q: How many church of Christ elders does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: CHANGE?!?!?!?!11?

    Jesus turned water into wine…the church of Christ turned it back.

  • Anonymous

    This blog is interesting to me because I grew up with few or no Protestants in my area. We were all either Catholics (Irish, Polish, Italian) or Orthodox (Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Greek). So, the whole evangelical culture seems pretty foreign.

    So, to add my bit …

    If you know how to say “Christ is Risen” and the response “Indeed He is Risen” in a language that you otherwise do not speak or understand, you might be Orthodox.

    If your Easter service began at about 10pm and ended at 3am after a lengthy cold wait outside the church in your light spring coat for the priest to bless your end-of-fast foods, you might be Orthodox.

    If you have Cold War conflicts between wings of your church (because one bishop cooperated with the Soviets or other dictator and so another less tainted bishop was appointed but not universally accepted), you might be Orthodox.

    If you have to have your son baptized in a Methodist church because a doctrinally sound godfather could not be found, you might be Orthodox.

    Different, eh?

  • Münchner Kindl

    Don’t know where else to fit this, and still haven’t found a way to contact Fred directly by mail – but I thought this interesting and quite in line with Fred’s general attitude (And the purported aim of patheos more general)

    10 Things Christians and Atheists can agree on

    http://www.cracked.com/article_15759_10-things-christians-atheists-can-and-must-agree-on.html

  • Tonio

    I agreed with everything but Number 5. The offensiveness of the idea that mass murderers and kindly grandmas will face the same fate doesn’t begin to compare to the offensiveness of anyone deserving to suffer for eternity after death. I don’t know if the universe has inherent justice, I just know that we shouldn’t expect it, at the expense of working toward making our societies more just places for eveyrone.

  • http://twitter.com/machallboyd Matt Boyd

    I vaguely remember one of the jokes Foxworthy passed on for being too mean-spirited was “If your bedsheets have eyeholes…”

  • bitwise operator

    Fred mentioned a hypothetical version of “Stuff Christians Like” but with more honesty and less tact. Might I recommend http://www.stufffundieslike.com? Yes, it’s specifically about Fundamentalist Christianity, but many of the principles apply. And it’s interesting to read it through from the earliest archives through to the present and watch the posts get more elaborate and the topics more serious.

  • Joshua

    more than three varieties of Jell-o salad with shaved carrots and mini-marshmallows

    Please tell me people do not eat such things.

    Look, you do have good food in America. I’ve been there. Come on.

  • Brightie

     Sword Drills–children and youth in competitions involving reciting the books of the Bible in order, finding certain books and passages faster than anybody else, and memorizing/reciting popular and innocuous verses about such things as God being creator, Jesus saving, and praising God. Also known as Bible Drills among some Baptists, and Bible Quiz if you’re Assemblies of God Pentecostal and more serious about the memorizing.

    Kente cloth I don’t know, but “Wordless Book” refers to a set of color-coded bits of paper or felt meant to symbolize theological statements about human nature and salvation.

    No clue on burning vinyl or TMZ.

  • Brightie

     I think the idea is that you have trouble believing anyone could be gay and willingly in ministry in YOUR church. Either that, or homosexuals are an abstract concept, not real people in front of you.


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