Witnessing tools and resentment

In a post last week — “You might be an evangelical …” — I touched on some of the esoterica of the evangelical subculture. Much of that post was inside-baseball, jargon and references some readers (maybe the luckier ones) found a bit bewildering. Such as this, for example:

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 you might be an evangelical.

“What is a ‘witnessing tool’?” I am asked.

Well, it’s a tool for witnessing. OK, see, we evangelicals learn from a very young age that we have a duty to evangelize — to share the gospel of salvation with everyone we know and everyone we meet. Everyone. All the time. “Be a missionary ev’ry day,” we sang in Sunday school. “Tell the world that Jesus is the way …” This is what we call “witnessing.”

Maybe you’ve witnessed witnessing from the other side, when some acquaintance or stranger, friend or relative has asked you what would happen if you were to walk outside this very day and get hit by the Hypothetical Bus. Would you go to Heaven or would you go to Hell?

The Hypothetical Bus features prominently not just in witnessing, but in sermons reinforcing the solemn duty to witness to everyone we meet. What if that stranger next to you in line at the supermarket walks out to her car and is killed by the Hypothetical Bus right there in the parking lot? (The driver of the HB is a reckless menace who should have lost his license years ago.) You could have told her about Jesus, but now it’s too late and she’s suffering in Hell for eternity and it’s your fault.

That duty can be a heavy burden hard to bear. If you hear that sermon week after week for years, you’ll feel the weight of that urgent and never-ending responsibility to try to rescue these strangers, co-workers, friends, relatives, etc.

But that urgency doesn’t make the task itself any easier. Witnessing, as we’re taught and urged to do it seems awkward and unnatural and never seems to go as planned. For all of the emphasis on the constant duty to witness, most evangelicals remain ill-prepared to do it. They don’t know how to start such a conversation or to steer a conversation in that direction. They’ve got a vague outline of a formula or script for how this is supposed to work, but every time they try to follow it, the person they’re talking to takes some turn that the script didn’t anticipate and they find themselves lost and unable to improv the scene from there.

And so, out of desperation, they may turn to “witnessing tools” for help. A witnessing tool is any gimmick, usually something visual, that might help to start a conversation with strangers or to steer others into talking about Jesus.

It could be something like the buttons and billboards of the “I Found It” campaign, a massive effort organized by Campus Crusade — or “Cru,” as it’s now called — in the 1970s. But usually it’s less formal — a T-shirt with some famous corporate logo reworked into a logo for Jesus, or an eye-catching piece of sectarian jewelry, or a tattoo — anything that might conceivably spur a conversation that might provide the chance to rescue some poor soul from God. I mean, that is, to rescue them from God’s wrath and punishment in Hell (which is somehow different, I’m told).

The largest witnessing tool I ever saw was a 9-foot-tall wooden cross being carried by a guy on the shoulder of the highway. This was what he did. It was, apparently, all he did — wandering the highways of America as a mendicant evangelist.

I had lunch with the guy at a truck stop and came away both impressed by his quixotic devotion and worried about him, out there on his own without a faithful Sancho Panza to protect him. He was earnest and guileless — a holy fool, and to this day I’m not sure which of those words deserves the greater emphasis.

But what ever else was true of him, he had found a witnessing tool that worked. When you met that guy, even for five minutes, you couldn’t not talk about his giant cross. Everyone knew where that conversation was bound to go, but even those who would’ve preferred not to find themselves being witnessed to/at couldn’t help it. Even though you already know what his answer will be, when you meet a guy carrying a heavy, 9-foot-tall wooden cross, “What’s with the giant cross?” becomes an inescapable, irresistible question.

Please don’t take this as my advising you to take to the highways with a giant wooden cross. I think that gimmicky witnessing tools are a bad idea. I believe Christians are called to be witnesses and to bear witness, rather than doing the kind of witness-ing we’re often taught. But for those who are intent on employing a witnessing tool, then I recommend a giant wooden cross. As gimmicks go, that’s a much more effective conversation-starter than a “Jesus Christ: He’s the Real Thing” T-shirt.

But even those awful T-shirts are more plausible as witnessing tools than the ever-popular car fish. The ichthys, or “Christian fish,” has long been a Christian symbol — although it originally may have been a fertility symbol, set vertically (with the resemblance to a fish being an ancient dirty joke). Today it can be found on the cars of millions of Christians as a way of telling the traffic behind them that the driver of the car they’re following is a Christian. (Or, as Stephen Colbert joked, “I like Jesus, but can’t spell.”)

Many of the people affixing Jesus-fish to their cars tell themselves that this, too, is a witnessing tool. I don’t understand how that’s supposed to work. I can’t imagine any likely scenario in which a car-fish could function as a witnessing tool. A fish or an evangelistic bumper sticker can’t serve as a conversation-starter with the driver of the car behind you because neither of you is really in a position to chat. You can communicate only via the crude semaphore of the highway — the horn, the high-beams, the wave, the hand, the finger — and that lacks an adequate vocabulary for communicating the gospel.

I’m opposed to car-fish and Christian bumper stickers in principle. As a general rule, any one of us is more likely to create a negative impression than a positive one for the driver behind us. The light turns yellow and we have to decide, very quickly, whether to accelerate or brake. Either way, we risk annoying the person behind us. Race through the intersection with a Jesus-fish on your car and the driver behind you might think, “Oh, look, the Christian runs red lights.” Come to a stop and they might think, “Oh, great, I could’ve got through the light if I weren’t stuck behind this slowpoke Christian.” We’re all subject to moments of inattention behind the wheel and it seems wrong for Jesus to have the share the blame for our driving.

Mainly, though, car-fish aren’t really intended for witnessing. They’re not witnessing tools, they are tribal symbols. The Jesus-fish on a car is not an invitation, but a declaration of tribal allegiance. It’s a signal that the driver of this car is an “Us” rather than a “Them.” And that Us-Them symbolism has far more to do with conflict than with any attempt at conversion.

This is true as well of many of the other things we tell ourselves are “witnessing tools.” One one level, they may be intended as conversation-starters, but on another level they’re also intended as conversation-stoppers — as attempts to win some implied argument. They’re not really designed for evangelism. They’re just the graffiti and propaganda of the culture wars.

That plays into the political battles of those culture wars and the whole take-back-America-for-Jesus notion of Christian hegemony that has Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry fighting over the evangelical voting bloc. But at its root, I think it’s a response to the pervasive and inescapable guilt from all those years of sermons about the necessity to constantly be “witnessing.”

All those people are going to Hell and it’s your fault because you’re not witnessing enough. You can never witness enough. You can never escape this relentless obligation and thus you can never escape this ever-present guilt.

Such insatiable guilt is bound to fester into resentment. One expression of that resentment is our culture-war politics. Another is the popularity of books like the Left Behind series, with its gleeful delight in the abominable fancy and its celebration of the destruction of the “unsaved.”

The T-shirt designs above are taken from this site and this one. Look through their online catalogues and you’ll find many that are — however tasteless, awkward or counter-productive — innocently intended to serve as “witnessing tools.” But you’ll also find some that only make sense as tribal symbols. And you’ll find many more that can’t in any way be explained by a desire to reach the unreached or to save the unsaved — T-shirts expressing a triumphalist mockery that can only be described as attacks on those unsaved and unreached reprobates, as volleys fired in the war of Us vs. Them.

The witnessing tool T-shirts were intended as an expression of concern for the unsaved. The tribal and culture-war T-shirts are an expression of resentful contempt for them.

That resentment and contempt, I think, is in part a curdled form of what initially began as a kind of love. Love led to guilt and guilt led to resentment and resentment flowered into vicious contempt.

I think that downward cycle, which feeds on itself, becoming stronger over time, can help us to understand a great deal about the nasty tone of what many American evangelicals still strangely regard as “witnessing.” And I think it can also explain a great deal about our current politics and our increasingly stratified economy.

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  • Anonymous

    I want a car fixture with a GEFILTE fish swallowing a TRUTH fish.

  • R_darkhill

    To be fair, the only design from c28 was the “Enjoy Jesus” shirt, and that’s a mostly inoffensive little joke. I’ve bought some shirts from c28, as they actually seem to care about good design, and they *mostly* avoid tribalism and politicking. Their shirts have care and attention given to the designs, and it seems unfair to lump them in with the Jesus fish people.

  • Shadsie

    After skimming/reading – 

    My very favorite fish I’ve seen on a car was on the car belonging to the sister of a co-worker.  It had crossed chopstics above it and read “Sushi.”  

    The meaning implied being “The driver of this car likes sushi.”  I wonder where she got it – I’d like to be a witness to the good news of Japanese food, too.

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

    Mmm… sushi.  Except eel.  Eel is the Satan of the sushi religion. >.>  (At least imo.)

  • Lori

    Mmm… sushi.  Except eel.  Eel is the Satan of the sushi religion. >.>  (At least imo.) 

    I miss sushi, including eel, which is wonderful and tasty. It can also be a good as part of an introductory sushi selection because its cooked. Eel. How I miss the tasty eel.

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

    And thus the Holy Church of the One Sushi schismed along Pro and Anti Eel lines.

    <_<

  • Anonymous

    oh god, eel. I miss it too. If I could find just one place that used tamari instead of soy sauce… Gluten-intolerance sucks sometimes.

  • Anonymous

    oh god, eel. I miss it too. If I could find just one place that used tamari instead of soy sauce… Gluten-intolerance sucks sometimes.

  • Anonymous

    My very favorite fish I’ve seen on a car was on the car belonging to the
    sister of a co-worker.  It had crossed chopstics above it and read
    “Sushi.”  

    The meaning implied being “The driver of this car
    likes sushi.”  I wonder where she got it – I’d like to be a witness to
    the good news of Japanese food, too.

    It’s number 2466 in Northern Sun’s catalog. *pokes at Northern Sun’s website* Hopefully this link works: http://www.northernsun.com/scan/MM=26cdbab185c718aeb65ac06646badace:15:29:15.html?mv_more_ip=1&mv_nextpage=results&mv_arg= If not, go to northernsun.com, click Car Emblems on the left, click Car Emblems at the top, and it’s at the bottom of page two.

  • Anonymous

    And their burgers are reputed to be delicious.

    In ‘n’ Out Burgers is one of the top two things I miss since getting more kosher. The burgers are very very good.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The driver of the HB is a reckless menace who should have lost his license years ago

    ROFL!

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’m opposed to car-fish and Christian bumper stickers in principle.

    I agree in principle. However, before my old car died it had a bumper sticker that read “”What would Jesus bomb?” Apparently it was fun to see it parked outside the church each week (so I’m told). Certainly started a conversation or two with fellow congregants.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know, a cartoon of John Calvin whizzing on something could be fun in an extreme esoteric in-joke kind of way, but how do you depict ‘free agency’ in a way that it can be whizzed on?

    Anyway, I dislike the Calvin peeing toons mostly because the creator of Calvin and Hobbes never authorized that sort of thing; and besides, Calvin, for all his foibles, was never mean enough to do that sort of thing, IMHO.

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

    Is it wrong I now want to figure out a John Calvin-Peeing-on-free-will sticker?  Because after writing the disclaimer on the first post, and now reading this… I really want to.  (And I totally agree about Calvin (and Hobbes)) – he’s just not meant for that kind of thing imo.

  • Anonymous

    WTF I am a proud christian but there is no way in hell you can do something like that in the place I live.

  • Anonymous

    WTF I am a proud christian but there is no way in hell you can do something like that in the place I live

    I wouldn’t have figured you could do it here, either. He did have a legitimate reason for pulling her over, but then he slipped in the Biblical advice.

    We, her friends, wanted her to report it, but she sort of shrugged it off.

  • Anonymous

    This whole discussion reminded me why you shouldn’t use the Lord’s name in vain

  • Anonymous

    This whole discussion reminded me why you shouldn’t use the Lord’s name in vain

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of Chick Tracts, I’m not sure I mentioned this here….

    We’re all mostly familiar with the big tracts, the well-publicised ones.  I’m sure a lot of folks here remember ‘Dark Dungeons.’

    Lately there’s been a few re-releases of old D&D rules sets.  Goblinoid Games basically took the basic/expert/companion sets, re-released them, then found a way to integrate them with the old AD&D rules and re-wrote those and released them as well.  The system is called Labyrinth Lord and is released under the OGL.

    Then someone got the idea of reverse-engineering and then re-releasing 2nd Edition AD&D, after cleaning it up a bit.  Sort of like how Pathfinder cleaned up 3.5, and LabLord cleaned up and released 1st edition D&D.  So they had a workable, marketable, playable clone of 2nd edition D&D.  But what to call it?

    You can see where this is going, can’t you? ^_^

  • Thor Lawrence

    No

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of Chick Tracts, I’m not sure I mentioned this here….

    We’re all mostly familiar with the big tracts, the well-publicised ones.  I’m sure a lot of folks here remember ‘Dark Dungeons.’

    Lately there’s been a few re-releases of old D&D rules sets.  Goblinoid Games basically took the basic/expert/companion sets, re-released them, then found a way to integrate them with the old AD&D rules and re-wrote those and released them as well.  The system is called Labyrinth Lord and is released under the OGL.

    Then someone got the idea of reverse-engineering and then re-releasing 2nd Edition AD&D, after cleaning it up a bit.  Sort of like how Pathfinder cleaned up 3.5, and LabLord cleaned up and released 1st edition D&D.  So they had a workable, marketable, playable clone of 2nd edition D&D.  But what to call it?

    You can see where this is going, can’t you? ^_^

  • Anonymous

    My brother has a bunch of shirts like those that he likes.  I think most of those are kind of dumb, but some are neat.  There’s one in particular with the Pac-Man ghosts and “Love thy enemies” underneath that I like.  So far it has failed to convert me.

  • Persephone

    My most memorable fuckings from small businesses have always been accompanied by the admonition that “this is a Christian business with good Christian values,” delivered after I have had the nerve to point out something blatantly dishonest they have done to me. Now when I see the fish, I steer the hell clear. If I must deal with them, they pay cash and I document everything.

  • Anonymous

    Did you told them that what they are doing is not a good way to spread the gospel?

  • Brad

    Speaking of those Calvin decals…

    http://www.gocomics.com/barneyandclyde/2011/06/15

  • Brad

    Speaking of those Calvin decals…

    http://www.gocomics.com/barneyandclyde/2011/06/15

  • http://inquisitiveravn.livejournal.com/ Inquisitive Raven

    That’s another one from Evolvefish.

  • http://inquisitiveravn.livejournal.com/ Inquisitive Raven

    That’s another one from Evolvefish.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mariposakitten Kristy Griffin

    “Maybe you’ve witnessed witnessing from the other side, when some acquaintance or stranger, friend or relative has asked you what would happen if you were to walk outside this very day and get hit by the Hypothetical Bus. Would you go to Heaven or would you go to Hell?”
    My answer was always “Mu – your question is wrong.”

    I’ve met at least one of those “holy fools” Fred speaks of.  The guy in question was riding the same bus as me one morning; despite my obvious attempts to nap on the way to work, he singled me out as a likely candidate for conversion.  (Possibly because I look wholesome and non-threatening, and therefore “Christian.”)  The hour that followed was incredibly frustrating for both of us, as he tried to save me from my godless atheistic ways, and I patiently tried to explain that I was Pagan, not atheist, and therefore was not godless either (having instead a plethora of gods), but that I simply did not accept the Bible as inerrant truth, and therefore he would have to come up with non-Biblical arguments if he wanted to convince me.

    I don’t like tearing down other people’s religions, and I don’t have issues with Christians in general, but this guy was pushing me past my limits (remember, I was short on sleep, on a bus, and missing my nap), and I was about ready to go on the attack.  And then the guy started talking about his own life.  About how he was homeless and desperate, didn’t have anywhere to turn, and then the church found him.  How he’d found new purpose in God and now moved from city to city, living in mission housing (look, I didn’t ask), trying to bring the truth to everyone he met.  How he knew all the pain he’d been through was worth it, because it had brought him to the truth and joy and peace he felt in serving God and witnessing.

    Man, you might as well ask me to kick a kitten.  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t be nasty with him, couldn’t get into an in-depth discussion of all the problems (both moral and logistical) I have with Christianity.  Because, gods, what if I won?  What if I convinced him?  Not that I thought it was likely – he seemed pretty certain – but you don’t enter an argument unless you want to win, and winning in this case would mean kicking out all the supports this man had built in his life.  That’s no good.

    So… I can’t help but hope this guy does okay.  I hope the world doesn’t treat him too badly.  I hope he finds enough responses to let him feel satisfied in his work.  I hope he doesn’t do much harm along the way.  He wasn’t a bad guy; there was an earnest innocence about him, like he honestly didn’t realize he might be offensive or pushy.  I hope he doesn’t lose that innocence.

    (But, good lord, I also kinda hope he learns to let sleep-deprived people nap instead of making them defend their religion all morning…)

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

    You are a nice person. Seriously.  A lot of folks are not nearly that considerate, especially when someone’s been a pest.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mariposakitten Kristy Griffin

     I wonder where she got it – I’d like to be a witness to the good news of Japanese food, too.

    PREACH.

    In other, related comments… 

    1) honestly, when approached by those trying to convert me, I’ve had success treating it at face value – as if the person honestly wants to have a discussion about religion and beliefs. If I’m open about my faith, one of two things will happen.  Either they’ll get flustered and go away, or we’ll wind up having an actual conversation, where we both go away with greater understanding and respect for each other’s beliefs than we had before. (Hey, it’s happened before – with Jehovah’s Witnesses, no less.  No one converted anyone, but we managed to convince each other that we were not stupid and not evil, and I think that’s a good start.)

    Either way, I count it as a win.

    2) I’ve always had qualms with “tribal” religious symbols, both as a Christian kid and as a Pagan adult, and I’ve never been sure why.  I’ve even felt a little guilty about my unwillingness to openly display the symbols of my faith – am I ashamed of what I believe?  (for example, the cashier at my grocery store has a pentacle necklace that I covet, yet I’ve never bought one even though I know a store that sells them.)  I think I may have an inkling why now.

    Symbols like that seem to say “I follow [religion X], therefore I am a good person.”  Which, a) seems a little self-serving, and b) to my mind, misses the point.  To me, it ought to be, “I am a good person (or at least want to be,) therefore I follow [religion X].”  After all, with all the myriad religions in the world, how on earth can you choose which to follow, except by determining which one helps you the most in becoming the good person you want to be?  (And if your religion doesn’t help you become a good person, why follow it?)  

    Am I wrong in thinking this way?  Is it ok to think your morality should inform your choice in religion, rather than the other way around?  This is kinda a new thought to me, so I’d welcome insight.

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

    I think some of it may even just be that symbols mean differently to different people.

    For instance – I see a religious symbol on someone’s car, or worn on their neck or what have you, and I don’t think much of it one way or the other – it just says to me “I am X and I’m happy with that.”*  However they may mean for that to go a lot further than I allow it too – it could, for instance, mean as you say ‘and thus I’m good’ or even ‘and thus I am better than you who are not.’

    But then again they may not mean for it to be that way.  That’s the funny thing with symbols sans-explanation, there’s a lot of interpretation and I think really you have to ask yourself:  What do I mean by displaying my faith prominently?  What does it mean to me to do that?  And is that a good thing?

    Obviously I can’t speak to whether there’s shame involved, though I will say from my experience as a bisexual man brought up fundamentalist, I unfortunately have some latent homophobia** issues.  Let me explain because it’s relevant, I think –

    I am attracted to both genders – I am also not as comfortable as I’d
    like to be with my attraction toward men.  The attraction is absolutely
    there, but so is that old bullshit that is hard to shake.  This is relevant because it could be that even though you believe what you believe genuinely – there could be that lingering back-of-the-head ‘you’re not supposed to think like that’ stuff.

    You don’t even have to have been brought up fundamentalist to have that either – it’s just a general culture thing.  Our culture expects people to be straight, white, Christian, and male and the further you deviate from those categories the less comfortable you’re likely to be with yourself.

    At least that’s my working theory,  I’ve been known to be wrong.

    (Hope that helps – I apologize if it’s excessively ‘me’ focused, that’s just kind of how I express myself is comparing other people’s situations to the most closely relevant to my own and then going from that.  Sometimes I feel it comes out kind of obnoxious and >.< I dunno.  So yeah I hope that's OK.)

    *Context of course is important – a Jesus fish next to a 'pro life' (I use the term loosely) bumper sticker changes the meaning drastically for me.

    **You know how people like Ted Haggard wind up in their position?  IE: Closet case at the top of queerbash mountain?  Like that except I don't deny either the attraction or my discomfort with it due to the way I was raised.  And as always at Slacktivist: It's more complicated than even that.

  • Anonymous

    Am I wrong in thinking this way? Is it ok to think your morality should inform your choice in religion, rather than the other way around? This is kinda a new thought to me, so I’d welcome insight.

    I think it’s OK, sure. Why not? It’s a somewhat strange thought to me, since my religion is, literally tribal, but I can’t see why it would be a wrong thing.

  • Nyder

    My uncle, a Church of England minister, has a religious sticker on his car– not, he informs me, as a witnessing tool, but as an anti-theft device. It seems to work too– despite the fact that he lived in Greater London when property crime was at an all-time high, his car was never broken into. Whether thieves just assume that someone who’s that religiously demonstrative is too poor to have anything of value in the car, or whether it pricks their conscience, I don’t know.

  • Nyder

    My uncle, a Church of England minister, has a religious sticker on his car– not, he informs me, as a witnessing tool, but as an anti-theft device. It seems to work too– despite the fact that he lived in Greater London when property crime was at an all-time high, his car was never broken into. Whether thieves just assume that someone who’s that religiously demonstrative is too poor to have anything of value in the car, or whether it pricks their conscience, I don’t know.

  • Amaryllis

    Jim Daniel: I recognize most of the “witnessing tools” discussed here, but one I have no clue about.  Just what is the ‘Roman Road’?

    Allow me to present The Roman Road.

    Personally, I’d rather read Fred’s “Sunday Morning” selection for today, Romans 12:19-21. If we could manage to live like that, now that would be an effective witness.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Just read “The Roman Road”, which I hadn’t come across before (not an evangelical). Thanks, Amaryllis.

    I was surprised to see that it missed Romans 8, specifically the bit that says nothing nothing nothing NOTHING can separate me you us anyone from the love of God. Not where you come from, not who you vote for, not who you’re attracted to, not what statements of doctrine you accept, nothing. Getting that is pretty important step on the road, IMHO.

  • Anonymous

    You know I always liked the carfish because it was subtle (and I always found it funny when somebody placed a shark after it, you know guilty pleasure)

    But when I read the stories here I would never bought them if I lived in the US.

  • Izzy

    I have a few friends who would make me want to think about Christianity if it wasn’t somewhat incompatible with my lifestyle. Some are on here; some are in  RL; none of them have ever tried to “save” me.

    Actually, not many people have. I’ve gotten a lot of random leaflets, but I’m under the impression that the leaflet people hand them out to everyone. Otherwise…I dunno. Maybe I give off some kind of “hopeless case” aura.

    When I did convenience store work, we used to get a lot of the t-shirts with “No Fear” and a crucifix, but that was in the early part of the century, and I was in a very surfing-and-skateboarding area of CA.

    I tend to avoid people with those kind of t-shirts, even the less-hostile kind–honestly, I tend to avoid people with the pagan/Hot Topic/fandom equivalent. Not because they’re bad people, but because most people whose sense of humor is “let’s make a bad pun/in joke based on pop culture” are not that fun to be around. I do not need an evening devoted to showing how much of “Holy Grail” you can recite from memory; I do not think Weird Al is the best musician ever, and sometimes–most of the time, in fact–I want to hear the original version of the damn song; I may be a geek, but I draw the line at being a *dork*.

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

    But I can recite Life of Bryan too… parts anyway…

  • Anonymous

    When I did convenience store work, we used to get a lot of the t-shirts
    with “No Fear” and a crucifix, but that was in the early part of the
    century, and I was in a very surfing-and-skateboarding area of CA.

    Wait…”No Fear” was supposed to be a Christian thing?  I always assumed it was another generic “macho posturing” thing.

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

    There are actually several different things No Fear can  mean.

    There’s the No Fear brand – which is clothing and energy drinks.  Having just looked it up on Wikipedia it seems they just went bankrupt in February.

    There also is (or was, I think they got sued by the above) a N.O.F.E.A.R. racist organization.  I forget exactly the meaning but it was a “European American Rights” group.

    The Christian variant is new to me, but I wouldn’t be surprised.  I’d assume it’s part of the whole persecution complex thing.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I may be a geek, but I draw the line at being a *dork*.

    For the record Izzy, wheat’s your position on nerds?

  • Izzy

    Nerds are cool by me. As I understand it, I’m not one–squishy English major, very loose grasp of math or science, couldn’t factor anything if my life depended on it–but they’re not the group that shuns social skills, so. 

  • Tonio

    The Jesus-fish on a car is not an invitation, but a declaration of tribal allegiance.

    Excellent entry. I had the exact same thought about the fish emblems. I’m waiting for a T-shirt that reads, “We’re going to heaven and you’re going to hell – eat it up, suckers!”

  • Bificommander

    Hmm, from the ones I found, I like/hate this one the most: http://www.christianshirts.net/buy256prolifeenvironmentalismshirts.php
    Apart from giving another justification to destroying the planet, it’s meaningless. When someone is called ‘an enviromentalist’, it’s because he is working to save the environment. If he was an anti-abortion activist, we would call him that. Or a fundie.

    I’d seen Fred mention the Roman Road, glad to know what it actually is. Though it sounds rather Chick-tracty to hope that you can shove this under a sinner’s nose and he’ll convert. It didn’t do it for me at least.

    BTW, it makes the earlier mentioned shirt with ‘people’ crossed out and replaced with ‘sinners’ much more clear. Since the Bible says people=sinners, the replacement becomes meaningless.

    And I had to laugh about the driver of the Hypothetical Bus. Thanks for that one Fred.

  • Tonio

    Since the Bible says people=sinners, the replacement becomes meaningless.

    Not to people outside the religion. Some Christians talk as if sinners = non-Christians, or at least sinners = people who commit sins.

  • Tonio

    That T-shirt is the same type of resentment that Fred is condemning. It’s like the people who wear the shirt are misinterpreting environmentalists as caring more about animals and plants than people, and then taking this this personally.

  • Lori

    Hmm, from the ones I found, I like/hate this one the most: http://www.christianshirts.net
    Apart
    from giving another justification to destroying the planet, it’s
    meaningless. When someone is called ‘an enviromentalist’, it’s because
    he is working to save the environment. If he was an anti-abortion
    activist, we would call him that. Or a fundie. 

    If the environment goes to crap where are all the babies those folks are supposedly saving going to live? Also, dirty air and contaminated water? Not so good for babies.

    Asshats.

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

    “Oh dear, is he missing?”

    “It wasn’t my turn to watch him.”

  • Donalbain

    Most of the witnessing that I’ve been subjected to, besides the door-to-door kind, has been the “Have you found Jesus?” random conversation on the bus.

    “Oh dear, is he missing?”

    Have you looked down the sofa? That is where I generally find things..

  • piny

    But that doesn’t sound as bad to me as the pro-lifer who recently told
    me that very few women would choose abortion if it were solely up to
    them. This guy insisted that almost all abortions were the result of
    pressure from selfish boyfriends, who allegedly threaten to withhold
    their love if the woman doesn’t abort.

    Yes, because the best possible reason to bear a child is so that boys will like you. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GVT7C7S6IP2OC44PFUZGAJ4OBM JohnK

    I think his argument is the reverse of that — the best possible reason to have an abortion is so that boys will like you.

  • piny

    That is–as someone who is pro-choice, I don’t deny that men can be horrible to their pregnant partner, and it doesn’t surprise me that some men react to a pregnancy with emotional abuse or attempts at coercion. 

    But that doesn’t mean the state should be able to legislate a woman’s options under those circumstances.  Forcing her to bear her abuser’s baby is not a solution. 

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

    Random OT –

    Very sorry to interrupt; just wanted to mention a couple things real fast before I disappear for a short while.

    I’m having a rather sudden onset depressive episode – I get these from time to time; sometimes they come out of nowhere, like this.  Normally not something I’d post about, I’d typically just take a few days away and then be back as usual. 

    Today however has been a day wherein I’ve wrestled with a few difficult topics here, and because they are difficult topics I am not confident about my handling thereof.  Point is:  I’m really anxious about them; but because I can’t put my finger on why I’m mostly chalking it up to the depression.*

    That said, I like this place, I like the people here – as I’ve said before, I feel listened to and valued here.  Because of this… disquiet… I’m having about my posts today, and an even greater discomfort at the idea of editing them** – I wanted to ask an unusual, difficult, and maybe stupid favor.

    If you think I’ve said anything really out of line A) Please let me know.  B)  Please read what I write in the context of what you know of me.  I know none of you know me in terms of RL, but I figure some of you have been around me in the comment threads enough to have a general idea of what I believe and who I am.

    I ask that because, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not but… I am frankly, always terrified of being misunderstood.  All those crazy footnotes I leave?  Those started as a means to supply necessary caveats to things I was thinking/saying to replace an even older system of caveats (wherein I’d use parentheticals that lead to near unreadable posts).

    I know it’s probably difficult, maybe impossible to understand where this is coming from; I guess I’m just asking you not to think too poorly of me if I’ve said anything stupid.  Let me know, I’ll fix it.  I’ll also apologize right now for the rather overdramatic sound of this post – I have nearly 28 years of experience with this disease, and I know that if I say nothing, if I just wander off into my quiet place for a few days like usual without saying something, then I’ll just worry and worry and worry more and it’ll gnaw at me terribly.

    So yes.  I’m going to take some time away and let this fade.  Usually these episodes are brief – a few days to a week*** most probably.  I could even be back as soon as tomorrow or Tuesday if it fades fast enough.

    Again, very sorry for interrupting this thread; I wanted to choose one that was further down the queue but still active enough that at least one person will see it (and can thus direct people if they so feel inclined).

    And yes, I am terribly, terribly paranoid of misunderstanding.

    Okay, shutting up now.  Will be back soon.  Sorry to be a nuisance.

    *Being able to pin it on this does not stop my worrying.  Sadly my depression is completely logic-immune.

    **In my present frame of mind I suspect I’d just remove them; which would be unhelpful no matter what I said; but doubly so since as I said, logically I don’t think I did anything wrong… it’s the non-logical part that’s a problem.

    ***I’ve learned my mind has 3 general stages – Normalcy, which is rare, general depression, which is common, and severe depression (like now).  The middle is my default state, while the heaviest end of the depression strikes in short bursts.  It’s more complicated than that but it’s the best way I can describe it.

  • Lori

    @JJohnson: Take care. I hope that this episode is over quickly and that you’re soon feeling better and able to rejoin us.

  • P J Evans

     Sever depression – like when ‘suicidal’ is an improvement?
    (I wish that was a joke. Been there, know how bad it gets, lots of sympathy. Only advice is, hang in there, because you are NOT alone.)

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

    Just caught this in my mailbox while setting up my wacom* – Just to be clear, I’m not suicidal.  Just don’t want anyone to worry or anything.  In times past yes, absolutely, but I’ve got enough good supports in my life (this place is one), and I have lived with this disease long enough that, thankfully that part of the game is beat.

    It’s more like being made of lead, rapidly sinking to the bottom of a sea made out of your own failures.  Easiest description I can give.

    Anyway, just wanted to assure people that, while this type of thing is unpleasant, there’s no reason to worry.  (I appreciate the concern greatly though)

    *Drawing is easily the most soothing activity out there when I’m like this.

  • P J Evans

    Oh, I do understand. As I said – been there, done that. (It actually runs in my father’s family. When five out of seven are bipolar/unipolar, it’s not a coincidence. When it goes into a second generation, it’s genes.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    Ooh, what kind of Wacom?
    A few years ago, flush with annual bonus and tax refund money, I picked up a Cintiq.  Greatest.  Thing.  Ever.
    (Prior to that I had an Intuos tablet.)
    Of course, I can’t say that I actually find drawing to be soothing, and sometimes I think I spend my time doing it out of habit more than any sort of actual enjoyment.
    In any case, take care, enjoy the drawing, and get well soon.

  • Anonymous

    A few years ago, flush with annual bonus and tax refund money, I picked up a Cintiq.  Greatest.  Thing.  Ever.

    I’m kind of considering upgrading to the larger one. I’ve had the small one for a few years, but after working with a large one at a full-time position, it’s hard to go back to the 12 while freelancing. I’m dubious if I can afford it; I just got my payout for being laid off (genuine thanks for my union here) and if I can find a buyer for my 12 inch, it will almost be a wash money wise. But still, that’s rent+food for a month.

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

    I’ve learned my mind has 3 general stages – Normalcy, which is rare, general depression, which is common, and severe depression (like now).  The middle is my default state, while the heaviest end of the depression strikes in short bursts.

    As someone who functions in roughly the same manner I wish you well and hope you are OK.

  • FangsFirst

    I ask that because, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or
    not but… I am frankly, always terrified of being misunderstood.  All
    those crazy footnotes I leave?  Those started as a means to supply
    necessary caveats to things I was thinking/saying to replace an even
    older system of caveats (wherein I’d use parentheticals that lead to
    near unreadable posts).

    My dealings with depression are consistently mild to moderate at most, but THIS, THIS I understand. Footnotes and parentheticals are not crazy, and you are not alone in (ab)using them. I think my rambling postings suggest this part at least…

    I don’t believe it. It’s feasible to induce birth after, what is it,
    twenty-four weeks? Twenty-two? Something like that, anyway. But then the
    baby is a preemie, and dealing with preemies is expensive as hell.
    Persuading the woman to hang in there a few more months costs much less
    money.

    That’s usually because I put it to her that, “Well, c’mon, why should a woman be unable to change her mind about how her body is used after a certain point?” (I argue this not because I NECESSARILY believe it, but because I’m trying to figure out what legitimate points there are either way, what makes sense to me and other people at that point)

    also:

    Thank you for feeling that way.

    Part of this also stems from a frank pragmatism. Do I want women getting safer abortions from licensed doctors (barring complications from any procedure and crappy doctors, of course, which apply to all medical procedures, but you know what…shit, see? parenthetical statements. I wasn’t even thinking about it…) or finding some illegal way with someone who may or may not be licensed (just the only option!) and putting their life at risk then possibly going to prison and in the process ruining the lives of, say, existing children and other family of said woman?

    I choose the first option, and from there, I say it’s up to women (though I do, as noted, attempt to have conversations about it, and understand that I can’t ever have an accurate perspective as I am never physically attached to a fetus for good or ill–I neither have the emotional connection part nor the demands placed on me physically/mentally/hormonally/etc)

    And the Rent-a-Womb concept, even if were realistic, ignores the fact
    that earlier trimesters can also be hazardous to a woman’s health.
    Things such as gestational diabetes.

    Not sure if this is in response to something else (that someone else said) but if not, likely my fault for failing at antecedents, so let me rephrase explicitly:

    She thinks abortion should be legal up until the last trimester (or whatever the line is for “late term”), and at that point, honestly, her usual response is, “You seriously should have made up your mind by now,” with exceptions for health and the like. Her interest in biology is tied in here (reproduction is the point of all organisms) as well as a personal desire to be a good parent…and some bad personal stuff all wrapped up in all of that.

    Don’t get me wrong: it’s fucking amazing, if you will pardon the phrasing. I would not be surprised or blame her, considering what she has been through, if she just knee-jerk said “NO. ABORTION WRONG.” But she doesn’t. She even counseled someone else through an abortion. And hates that people at her churches form prayer groups outside Planned Parenthood.
    But it does leave me a little curious about whether the “You should have made up your mind,” is a reflection of her own scars, or a reasonable POV.

  • Anonymous

    Considering that the women who abort late-term are either women who wanted an abortion earlier but couldn’t have it or women who wanted a baby but couldn’t have it, it strikes me as a reasonable POV, provided early-term abortions are easily accomplished. Which in many places they’re not.

  • FangsFirst

    Considering that the women who abort late-term are either women who
    wanted an abortion earlier but couldn’t have it or women who wanted a
    baby but couldn’t have it, it strikes me as a reasonable POV, provided
    early-term abortions are easily accomplished. Which in many places
    they’re not.

    Yeah, in a perfect world, I feel like I do agree with her but was always worried there would be–well, the above, legitimate exceptions like availability of early term (due to Not-A-Perfect-World-Ism).
    I was partly curious to drop the opinions here, as it was in reading old, old slacktivist comment threads that I came to get the whole “it’s forcing a woman to use her body against her will” thing that always eluded me in part. Mostly that and realizing, “Yeah, okay, I can see how that could be an INTENSELY offensive thing for men to legislate as there is NO equivalent at all, and that kinda makes it none of our business, to a great extent, if not a complete one.”

    (I’m wary of explaining her opinions, as I know people have berated her for a lot of them, and we’re both kind of defensive about people attacking the other, even when the other does not care)

  • chris the cynic

    I know it’s probably difficult, maybe impossible to understand where this is coming from;

    I think that I do know where you’re coming from (everything you wrote is very familiar to me.)  I honestly don’t know if having someone else understand helps any, but if it does for you then be aware that I think I do understand.

    I hope you feel better soon.

    I look forward to your return both because I think you make valuable contributions and because it will mean you are doing better.

  • hapax

    I know it’s probably difficult, maybe impossible to understand where this is coming from

    Not at all.  I understand perfectly, and feel a great deal of sympathy.  Take care;  you will be missed.

    FWIW, I have found that learning to recognize the onset of an episode, and to be able to say to myself, “It’s not reality, it’s the depression talking” is a great asset in coping with and even shortening the most severe periods.

    Although you are quite correct, one can’t “logic” oneself out of depression, it does help to protect a portion of one’s mind from the Beast’s insidious claws.

    And, because I’m playing Helpful Stranger On The Internet Today, do you keep a food diary?  I started one because of migraines, but I’ve found definite correlations with certain foods and medicines and the onset of depression as well.

  • chris the cynic

    And, because I’m playing Helpful Stranger On The Internet Today, do you keep a food diary?  I started one because of migraines, but I’ve found definite correlations with certain foods and medicines and the onset of depression as well.

    Could you go into detail about this?  Were the correlations really close (e.g. I had tuna for lunch, by the end of the day I was slipping into depression) or more distant (e.g. it looks like if I have Hawaiian pizza I’ll probably have a depressive episode the next week)?

  • ako

    I’m sorry you have to deal with that.  I haven’t noticed anything unreasonable or out of line in your comments so far.  If I do see anything, I’ll keep everything you’ve said in mind.

    I’m glad you have support to help you get through this.  And if taking a short break, or adding in footnotes or parenthetical makes a depressive episode any easier to deal with, go for it.  I don’t mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    I understand where you are coming from, and my thoughts are with you. I too have been living with depression for years, along with anxiety that has become nearly crippling during the past year.

    Best of luck to you.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mariposakitten Kristy Griffin

    JJohnson – heh, so you mean I’m not the only one who obsessively re-reads her own posts before hitting the “Post” button, terrified of saying something wrong and being misunderstood and/or pissing someone off?

    FWIW, I only rarely get to play in the comments (the antiquated browser my work computer uses can’t even read the comments here, let alone allow me to post one), so I can’t say I “know” you, but the comments I’ve seen from you in this thread have all come across as clever, insightful, and kind-hearted.  I like your comments, and I like your footnotes.  (No, seriously.  Pratchett has brainwashed me; in my mind, footnotes always = WIN!)

    In regards to your post specifically directed at me… I dunno, maybe.  I know I have a few areas in my life where I have illogical, unnecessary shame (my polyamory, my penchant for nudity), but I never thought I had it about religion.  Even though I was raised Christian, I was never raised to dislike or distrust other religions – I frequented a Wiccan/New Age store as a teenager, and no one in my family ever tried to make me feel like it was wrong or even weird.  But I dunno; odd ideas can creep in from anywhere.  (Ask me about the time I accidentally brainwashed myself into being racist!  Heh, fun times…)  So it’s possible, but (I think) unlikely.

    (Part of my thoughts on the subject come from the fact that I’m sorta trying to convince myself to buy an obviously-Pagan piece of jewelry; part of me really, really wants one, and is meeting with stubborn resistance from another part of my brain.  So I’m trying to suss out why that resistance exists [and maybe overcome it?  Cuz, shinies are nice…])

  • chris the cynic

     so you mean I’m not the only one who obsessively re-reads her own posts before hitting the “Post” button, terrified of saying something wrong and being misunderstood and/or pissing someone off?

    I used to think I was the only one.

    Do you also get a feeling of dread when returning to a thread where you’ve said something and you’re wondering how, if at all, people have responded?

    @sandeagozu:disqus (Where some people footnote, I parenthesize.)

    I do both.  Why choose?

  • http://semperfiona.livejournal.com Semperfiona

    You’re neither of you the only ones.

    I usually end up not posting at all.

  • Madhabmatics

    I don’t get the first, but sometimes I get the second. I solve this by reiterating that I’m cool as heck and maybe tossing on some shades and shooting a thumbs-up at my monitor.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In regards to your post specifically directed at me… I dunno, maybe. I know I have a few areas in my life where I have illogical, unnecessary shame (my polyamory, my penchant for nudity), but I never thought I had it about religion.

    If you will allow me to quote author-avatar character Jubal Harshaw from Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land:

    Ben, the ethics of sex is a thorny problem. Each of us is forced to grope for a solution he can live with — in the face of a preposterous, unworkable, and evil code of so-called “morals.” Most of us know the code is wrong; almost everybody breaks it. But we pay Danegeld by feeling guilty and giving lip service. Willy-nilly, the code rides us, dead and stinking, an albatross around the neck.
    You, too, Ben. You fancy yourself a free soul — and break that evil code. But faced with a problem in sexual ethics new to you, you tested it against that same Judeo-Christian code … so automatically your stomach did flip-flops … and you think that proves you’re right and they’re wrong. Faugh! I’d as lief use trial by ordeal.

  • Tonio

    When I read Stranger in a Strange Land, I wondered if Heinlein aspired to be a philosophical version of Hugh Hefner. In many of his books, his avatars’ musings on free love almost sound like subterfuges aimed at seducing women.

    It’s been some years since I read this particular novel, so I don’t remember why Harshaw felt that Judeo-Christian sexual morality is not just preposterous and unworkable but also evil. Or why sexual ethics should be a thorny problem. That might make sense if one lived a world where dozens or hundreds of willing sex partners were readily available. Which, uh, pretty much describes most of Heinlein’s later novels.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It’s been some years since I read this particular novel, so I don’t remember why Harshaw felt that Judeo-Christian sexual morality is not just preposterous and unworkable but also evil. Or why sexual ethics should be a thorny problem. That might make sense if one lived a world where dozens or hundreds of willing sex partners were readily available. Which, uh, pretty much describes most of Heinlein’s later novels.

    It could also have been a holdover from an earlier edit.  Heinlein actually wrote Stranger in a Strange many, many years before it was published (or at least had the idea for the work for a long time before he ever seriously considered it publishable.)  When he originally conceived the story, he felt that society was not ready to be receptive to it.  Given the cultural mores of the time, that is unsurprising.  

    I get the impression that Harshaw was something of a counter-culturalist in his time, preferring to retreat to his estate and get away from the rest of the world.  He rejection of traditions of sexual morality might have been part of that.  Which I suppose is appropriate, considering how much of an influence Stranger in a Strange Land had on the counter-cultural movement of the sixties in real life.  

    Then again, despite his views on sexual morality, Harshaw himself was not a particularly sexual character.  Actually, the only sexual encounter he has in the book is one he is not looking for, one in fact politely declines, then has anyway when the woman who approached him cries and guilts him into it.  

    Somehow, I do not feel that is particularly moral of her.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It’s been some years since I read this particular novel, so I don’t remember why Harshaw felt that Judeo-Christian sexual morality is not just preposterous and unworkable but also evil. Or why sexual ethics should be a thorny problem. That might make sense if one lived a world where dozens or hundreds of willing sex partners were readily available. Which, uh, pretty much describes most of Heinlein’s later novels.

    It could also have been a holdover from an earlier edit.  Heinlein actually wrote Stranger in a Strange many, many years before it was published (or at least had the idea for the work for a long time before he ever seriously considered it publishable.)  When he originally conceived the story, he felt that society was not ready to be receptive to it.  Given the cultural mores of the time, that is unsurprising.  

    I get the impression that Harshaw was something of a counter-culturalist in his time, preferring to retreat to his estate and get away from the rest of the world.  He rejection of traditions of sexual morality might have been part of that.  Which I suppose is appropriate, considering how much of an influence Stranger in a Strange Land had on the counter-cultural movement of the sixties in real life.  

    Then again, despite his views on sexual morality, Harshaw himself was not a particularly sexual character.  Actually, the only sexual encounter he has in the book is one he is not looking for, one in fact politely declines, then has anyway when the woman who approached him cries and guilts him into it.  

    Somehow, I do not feel that is particularly moral of her.

  • ako

    Then again, despite his views on sexual morality, Harshaw himself
    was not a particularly sexual character.  Actually, the only sexual
    encounter he has in the book is one he is not looking for, one in fact
    politely declines, then has anyway when the woman who approached him
    cries and guilts him into it.  

    Somehow, I do not feel that is particularly moral of her.

    It’s one of the odd things in a lot of old books how often a woman’s bad behavior is trivialized because at the time, women weren’t taken seriously enough to be capable of that kind of harm.  I was reading a not-particularly-serious novel from the eighties, and a woman is shown to be behaving in ways that are undeniably abusive and it’s passed over really lightly as a relatively minor marital problem.  It’s one of the forms of sexism that always sticks out for me as particularly weird.

    (I don’t think guilting someone into sex they don’t want is on the same level as domestic violence, just that they’re both immoral behavior that has historically been taken less seriously when done to men by women.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    (I don’t think guilting someone into sex they don’t want is on the same level as domestic violence, just that they’re both immoral behavior that has historically been taken less seriously when done to men by women.)

    Agreed.  It is not rape, but it does strike me as emotional manipulation.  Her feelings seem sincere though, motivated less to get him in bed and more that she is sad he does not believe that she could be genuinely attracted to him (he first refuses on the basis that if she came to his bed it would be out of pity for an old man who has not had a sex life in years) but that is still manipulation, as he already made clear that he was uncomfortable with the situation.  

    I suspect if she just asked to snuggle with him (for that night at least,) he would have been more receptive to the idea.  

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    JJohnson, FWIW I certainly haven’t thought anything you’ve said was stupid or out of line. Take care.

  • Anonymous

    I usually flat out disappear when my depressive anxiety flares up like that. I admire your courage to keep posting.

  • Brad

    “Oh dear, is he missing?”

    Did he gnaw through the straps again?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I do not know if this has been mentioned yet (forgive me for not reading through all the posts yet) but I wanted to throw up these two Penny Arcade shirts:

    Jesus Is My Guild Leader

    Jesus Says “Don’t Be a Dick”

    I think that the second one pretty neatly encapsulates Jesus’ central philosophy.  Would that more Christians kept it in mind.

  • Amaryllis

    On quickly catching up with this thread:

    @JJohnson:disqus , if you’re still reading: I hope you’re feeling better soon. And what hapax said about being able to recognized the onset of an episode.

    Discursiveness and footnoting have never been a problem around here, so footnote away. I think most of us worry about being misunderstood or unintentionally saying something stupid. It’s the risk we take when we try to communicate at all, and I’ll stick with a group that tries to keep the stupid to a minimum.

    EllieMurasaki: And he’s Catholic. Contraception IS bad. That’s a premise, not a conclusion.
    No, it’s a conclusion. And not one that inevitably follows from “he’s Catholic.”

    Mind you, I disagree with the chain of reasoning that leads to the conclusion, I think it’s a conclusion built on a kind of idealism that doesn’t work with actual people’s actual lives, I think  that ir’s a conclusion that hurts women, I think your brother is being unreasonable in refusing to consider your point of view. (So is the entire Catholic hierarchy, for that matter.)

    (Where some people footnote, I parenthesize.)

    On elective abortion: there was a sobering piece in the NY Times yesterday, on elective “twin reduction.” Logically, from the pro-choice side, there’s no argument to be made against it, but it made me very uneasy anyway.

  • Tonio

    think it’s a conclusion built on a kind of idealism that doesn’t work with actual people’s actual lives

    What kind of idealism does that entail? Whenever I read about Catholic teachings on sexuality, I wonder if one premise is that the human egg doesn’t exist, that men really plant babies in wombs.

    I think anyone who’s for legally prohibiting abortion should have to watch both Dirty Dancing and The Cider House Rules . The Is This Really What You Want? Marathon.

    Never read the latter novel. I know an ardent Catholic who started reading it and put it aside when he saw that Dr. Larch was an abortionist.

    Hmmm you can buy a “Would a just god really send sinners to hell?  YES!”
    top for your toddler.  Of all these things, that somehow seems to most
    disturbing.

    Just once, I would like to hear a hellfire-and-damnation believer plead with his god to rescind the practice of eternal damnation as a horrifically unjust punishment.

  • Anonymous

    No, it’s a conclusion. And not one that inevitably follows from “he’s Catholic.”

    Oh yeah, that’s right, “if you use contraception despite what the Pope says, you might be a post-Vatican-II Catholic” or however that went. Sorry. I’m fairly certain my brother’s thinking of ‘contraception bad’ as a premise, though.

    On elective abortion: there was a sobering piece in the NY Times
    yesterday, on elective “twin reduction.” Logically, from the pro-choice
    side, there’s no argument to be made against it, but it made me very
    uneasy anyway.

    *Googles* Yeah. Ugh.

  • John (not McCain)

    “The ichthys, or “Christian fish,” has long been a Christian symbol — although it originally may have been a fertility symbol”

    That explains its prominence on a billboard on the side of the largest porno store in western New York.  It’s not vertical, though.

  • Jim Lard

    Hmmm you can buy a “Would a just god really send sinners to hell?  YES!” top for your toddler.  Of all these things, that somehow seems to most disturbing.

  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    “You could have told her about Jesus, but now it’s too late and she’s suffering in Hell for eternity and it’s your fault.”

    I was a shy teenager and the thought of going around knocking on doors or “witnessing” to others tied my stomach up in knots.  And the others had no sympathy.  “Jesus was TORTURED for you, and you’re SHY?!!!  Get busy you wimp!”  The conflict gets too much… you love Jesus, but feel guilty because you’re not running around with a megaphone preaching at everyone you know.

    Then some non christians I knew died… and the above quote was the sentence that kept running through my head over and over.  How can you live with the guilt that because you were a chicken, your friend is suffering unbearable torment?  Forever.

    The conflict can rip your psyche apart.  That may explain why so many evangelicals seem to be mentally disturbed.  I’ve seen plays in my church where that scenario is played out… where unchristian and christian friends are killed in a car accident, and a person has to watch while his best friend is dropped into the Pit.

    “And when we ask ‘How much should we give?’ the only answer is More and More and More!”

  • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com Mark Baker-Wright

    Please forgive the shameless promotion, but whenever someone mentions car fish, I think about the Hitchhiker’s Guide parody I put together a few years ago (I call them bumper fish).

  • http://www.google.com Dragoness Eclectic

    I mean I’m not even saying a good thing – what process does one go through to arrive at a point where the concept of truck nuts becomes in any way logical at all? 

    Methinks it means “My truck is my riding stallion”, or possibly a riding bull. (Or rhino, but I play Runequest). Hippomorphizing your vehicle?

  • Anonymous

    Over at evolvefish.com, on the first page of “Stickers”, they’ve now got a bumper sticker showing the ichthys and reading “Remember when this wasn’t a warning label?”

  • Marshbabe

    I’m a non-believer. Just thought I should get that out of the way first. I have, in the past, taken great offence to people accosting me to discuss my religious beliefs – I was raised in a culture that taught me it was unforgivably rude to discuss religion with a stranger or to walk away from someone who was talking to you (you can see how this would cause problems when faced with ‘have you been saved?’). That said, your article gave me a new perspective on the evangelical mindset, and I am richer for that knowledge.

    Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    I have an FSM on my car, because my brother-in-law borrowed it for a year, and put both the FSM and the coexist sticker on it, with permission.

    I keep it on as a specifically anti-Creationist thing.

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

    ‘llo all >.< I am finally back.  Thank you all for being so supportive b was a very big help in an unpleasant time.  (Well and then I had a couple days of extreme business after my B-day.

    @hapax:disqus I hadn’t really thought about that honestly.  Not sure why, it just hadn’t occurred.  I kind of hope it’s unrelated though… I like so many foods and I’d hate to find out there’s one that brings these episodes on.  Still that may very well be worth my checking in to I suppose giving up tacos would be preferable to week-long “OH GODS I HATE ME” episodes >.<b (Please don't be tacos…)

    @facebook-1408065622:disqus  It’s an Intuos4 Medium.  It’s been really, really nice, albeit I’ve found the normal drawing tip… less than optimal on the pen.  I’ve been using the eraser side instead, which has worked a lot better. It’s really taken the frustration out of drawing for me in large part – with the exception of my mediocre abilities; but that’s why I practice to begin with.

    I also ended up giving that “John Calvin pees on Free Will” sticker thing a try… I’m not happy how it came out sadly.  I like Calvin’s face OK, but the rest just doesn’t mesh and after I thought about it I realized if I put it online and someone took offense, I’d never hear the end of it.  But yes, I did actually make the sticker lol, just in case anyone wondered if anything came of that.

    —-

    Anyway, once again thank you all for the support.  It’s been a real help.  I’ll probably be a little light on posting for a little bit yet, but mostly that’s because I’m pressed for time at the moment. (Cat just got back from being spayed >< poor thing is not happy at all.  Also have a mountain of dishes and laundry to attend. )

  • Anonymous

    I like your Grandfather’s way of thinking :)

  • Lulee

    It’s not awkward.  It’s just that most people don’t really care whether a driver is Christian or not.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    The thing I hate most about the stickers is that it’s not really
    Calvin. It;’s close enough that everyone knows that it’s Calvin, but it
    must be different enough to keep the company from getting sued out of
    existence.

    Bill Watterson has refused to license any Calvin & Hobbes merchandise. That means that the “Calvin pissing” stickers are not competing with legitimate C&H merchandise, because there isn’t any. That means he’s not losing money because of them. And that means he’d have difficulty finding grounds to sue.

    Yes, being strongly anti-merchandising just means that the merchandise that does exist is outside your control and blatantly offensive. It is that screwed up.

    Source: One of the special annotated editions of C&H my brother-in-law has.

    TRiG.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    That take on the “Intel Inside” badge: I have one of those. It says “Anthill Inside”, and has a small “Hex” in the corner. I don’t think I need to explain that to this crowd.

    TRiG.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    That take on the “Intel Inside” badge: I have one of those. It says “Anthill Inside”, and has a small “Hex” in the corner. I don’t think I need to explain that to this crowd.

    TRiG.


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