The perils and potential of N.A.L.T. (Not All Like That)

Columnist Dan Savage has a message for “liberal Christians”:

YouTube Preview Image

In this video, Savage says:

Sometimes I forget to qualify “Christian” with “fundamentalist evangelical right-wing bats–t Christian.” And I’ll write something taking “Christians” to task for their abuse of queer people. And I’ll get emails and I’ll get calls from liberal Christians, whispering in my ear, “We’re not all like that. Psst, we’re not all like that.” I call them NALTs now, for Not All Like That Christians. NALT Christians.

When possible, I try to avoid that kind of phrase — “We’re not all like that,” or “Yes, I’m a Christian, but not that kind of Christian.” I don’t like the idea of defining or identifying myself based on what I’m not — or based on what I’m against.

Plus that just seems like setting the bar way too low. There’s more to following Jesus than simply not being a right-wing batsh–t loudmouth or not abusing others. That’s a minimal threshold of human decency, not the pinnacle of discipleship.

Dan Savage wants Christians who aren’t anti-gay to stop telling him we’re Not All Like That — and to start saying it to our fellow Christians who are like that.

Also, “I’m a Christian, but not that kind of Christian” seems like the sort of thing that has to be shown rather than just said. If I put myself in a situation in which it is unclear whether or not I am an abusive loudmouth, then it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to clarify things at that point just by asserting that I’m not.

Having said all of that, “Christian” remains a vast and immensely diverse category. There are some 2.3 billion Christians in this world and there’s a great deal that we do not all agree on. Belonging to a group that large and that diverse makes it inevitable that every Christian will, at some point, need to say “We’re not all like that” about something. We may need to say it in response to inaccurate stereotypes or to broad generalizations based on someone’s limited experience with only one particular kind of Christian.

If I meet someone whose only idea of Christianity comes from seeing televangelists, it may be necessary to relieve their fears by reassuring them, “Don’t worry, we’re not all like that.” And if I meet someone whose only idea of Christianity comes from reading the Gospels or a biography of Martin Luther King Jr., it may be necessary to disappoint them by saying, “Alas, we’re not all like that.”

But there’s yet another context in which saying, “We’re not all like that” can be more than just a useful clarification. There’s a context in which Not All Like That can be a powerful tool for transformation.

When those words are said to others — to those standing outside of Christianity and looking in — then they seem at best merely practical and at worst disingenuous. But when those words are spoken within Christianity — by Christians addressing other Christians — they can be a source of hope, relief and liberation.

When spoken to other Christians, those words can be a revelation — the delightful news that there are choices, options and possibilities they may not have realized (or been allowed to realize) existed.

Dan Savage seems to understand this. He addresses his NALT Christian friends:

But the reason so many of us have the impression that you are all indeed like that, and why Christian has become synonymous with anti-gay, is because of these loud voices on the Christian right. And they’ve hijacked Christianity, with your complicit silence enabling their hijacking of it.

And you know what? Liberal Christians, you need to do something about it. You need to tell them you’re not all like that. We know — liberals, lefties, progressives, queers — we know that not all Christians are like that. The religious right: They don’t know. Tell them.

… If you’re a NALT, stand up for your beliefs, stand up for liberal Jesus. Start a dialogue with your chapels and churches. … Figure out ways you can make your place of worship, your church, a more welcoming and tolerant place.

So stop writing me and telling me that you’re Not All Like That, and start doing something about it. Start telling them you’re Not All Like That.

 

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  • Darkrose

    I really, really dislike Dan Savage. But in this, he’s dead on.

  • LL

    Yes,  Christians who aren’t hateful assholes should definitely start saying these things to the ones who are. And you might want to see what you can do about getting people to represent Christianity on TV who aren’t Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen or that  jerk whose name I can’t remember who talks about how men need to be manly and women need to be submissive. 

    Those assholes are giving you all a very bad name. They’re the go-to talking heads for all the liberal elitist media. You should do something to change that. Maybe bombard them with angry calls every time you see one of those jerks on TV “representing” you. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I get a bit uncomfortable saying “The ‘good’ christians need to police their own and take responsibility for calling the hateful ones out,” because, like, if I said “The good atheists need to police their own and take responsibility for calling the hateful ones out.” it would be a fucking flamewar in here.

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

     I get a bit uncomfortable saying “The ‘good’ christians need to police
    their own and take responsibility for calling the hateful ones out,”
    because, like, if I said “The good atheists need to police their own and
    take responsibility for calling the hateful ones out.” it would be a
    fucking flamewar in here.

    Depends.  There are two basic responses to this:

    1.  Right about the time atheists actually get enough political power to deny rights to people because they don’t like ’em, we’ll talk about the need for atheists to police their own.

    2.  By the same token, I’m an atheist but I don’t generally self-identify as an atheist because, holy shit, there are a lot of annoying atheists out there.

    But that gets back to point number one.  There’s a huge different between, say, PZ Myers, who increasingly pissed me off until I stopped reading his blog and Pat Robertson.  One of them has his own TV network and is part of a group that holds an entire political party under its sway.

    The fact is, though, that I can’t do anything about PZ Myers or Pat Robertson.  Assholes gonna be assholes, I suppose.  So, really, Dan Savage’s entire point becomes a fool’s errand.  What needs to happen is that Pat Robertson needs to be put at a point where his religious belief has exactly the same political power as PZ Myers’ lack of religious belief.

  • stardreamer42

     Well… there has been some noticeable pushback against Dawkins for being a misogynist prick. I’d say that counts toward “atheists policing their own”.

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

      Well… there has been some noticeable pushback against Dawkins for
    being a misogynist prick. I’d say that counts toward “atheists policing
    their own”.

    Oh, I totally agree with you.  I think the atheists do police their own to a certain extent.  It’s just that I also don’t think it matters much.

    When I was still a Christian I bought into the whole “Richard Dawkins is a fire-breathing asshole” thing that got leveled against him.  Then I stopped being a Christian and realized that Dawkins, at least when he’s talking about atheism and religion as a whole, is a complete and total gentleman.  After Elevatorgate I found out that he’s a misogynistic asshole, but that doesn’t take away from my impression that he’s an English gentleman, but an English gentleman who has a spectacular blindspot towards issues of gender.

    That’s why I brought PZed into it, though.  I used to like PZed quite a bit.  I agreed with him on most things.  I think he was completely and totally on the right side of things with Rebecca Watson and Elevatorgate and one of the most important voices calling out the misogynistic assholes for being, well, misogynistic assholes.

    Shortly after that, however, came Atheism+.  I agree with Atheism+’s aims and methodology.  I do not agree with the way certain people, as exemplified by PZ Myers, pushed for Atheism+.  They basically said, “Either you agree with me or I don’t want to associate with you.”  He’d been saying a lot of other things that pissed me off in the lead-up to that, so this wasn’t just something in a vacuum for me.

    I grew up in Evangelical Christianity.  I grew up with pastors who said, “If you don’t agree with me than you’re an enemy of god.”  I left Evangelical Christianity and then I left Christianity because I thought that was bullshit.

    I am an atheist because I don’t think there’s a compelling argument or a valid proof for the existence of god.  I came to that conclusion without needing Richard Dawkins or PZ Myers.  So to have them tell me that I have to agree with them in order to be accepted in their club is not a compelling argument for me.  I say, “Fuck ’em.”  I don’t need anyone like that in my life anymore.

    But, again, that’s kind of my point.  I agree with PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins on a lot of stuff.  I also don’t really give a flying crap about what they say and if they reversed their opinions on things tomorrow it would have zero impact on my beliefs and opinions.  So someone who hears “atheist” and thinks “PZ Myers” will get a NALT from me.  But that doesn’t really mean much of anything.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I do not agree with the way certain people, as exemplified by PZ Myers, pushed for Atheism+. They basically said, “Either you agree with me or I don’t want to associate with you.”

    I don’t know anything about what PZ Myers has said about Atheism+, but…one of the raisons d’etre of A+ is social justice, with particular attention to various axes of privilege. Either you agree with me that gender qua gender shouldn’t matter (that is, shouldn’t grant one privilege or subject one to discrimination), gender vis-a-vis sex-assigned-at-birth shouldn’t matter, sexual orientation shouldn’t matter, race and ethnicity shouldn’t matter, etc etc etc, and we should all work together for a world in which none of those things matter, either all that or no I do not want to associate with you.

    Because if you think any of those privileges are a good thing that we should hold on to, then there is a group of people whom you consider more equal than everyone else and another group that you consider less equal.
    I belong to some of those less equal groups. I know people in some of those less equal groups that I do not belong to. We are all people, the same as everyone in the more equal groups, and we all have the same rights and should all be treated alike by society. Saying we do not all have the same rights or we should not all be treated alike by society, that hurts me, that hurts my people, and I do not want to associate with someone who does that sort of hurt.

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

     I don’t know anything about what PZ Myers has said about Atheism+,
    but…one of the raisons d’etre of A+ is social justice, with particular
    attention to various axes of privilege. Either you agree with me that
    gender qua gender shouldn’t matter (that is, shouldn’t grant one
    privilege or subject one to discrimination), gender vis-a-vis
    sex-assigned-at-birth shouldn’t matter, sexual orientation shouldn’t
    matter, race and ethnicity shouldn’t matter, etc etc etc, and we should
    all work together for a world in which none of those things matter,
    either all that or no I do not want to associate with you.

    Yeah.  There’s a subtle nuance about the whole thing and there’s a reason I keep using PZ Myers for stuff like this.  It’s precisely because I tend to agree with his stances on things, but am well past sick and tired of his zero-sum approach to atheism within atheism and in relation to religion.

    He is basically a fundamentalist preacher of atheism.  Whenever that gets mentioned the response tends to be, “But they can’t be fundamentalists because they don’t have a holy book!”  That’s a stupid argument that totally misses the forest for the trees.  I say that he’s a fundamentalist atheist preacher because he behaves in a manner that indicates that you can agree with him or be treated as a lesser being and a lesser intellect.

    That’s one thing when he’s picking on a misogynistic asshole or a homophobe or whatever.  Someone like Vox Day isn’t going to change because people are nice to him.  He’s gonna be a misogynistic asshole because that’s what gets him off and his only response to people is to treat them as inferiors or piss them off and make them yell at him because he’s a tiny man who has to feel like a bigshot.  What’re ya gonna do?

    My whole thing with PZed, though, is that I’m the exact definition of the sort of person he needs to win over to his side.  I hang out at the fringes of the atheist movement because I’m vaguely interested in the whole thing.  I still have absolutely no idea what’s wrong with the people who tried to call out Rebecca Watson after the Elevatorgate thing because to me it’s self-evident that you don’t go and creep on women in elevators in the middle of the night and it’s also self-evident that women should be allowed to stand up in public and say, “Hey, so, this thing happened and it’s creepy, just so you know.”

    However, the way Atheism+ started out looked to me, as an interested observer who, and I cannot stress this enough, agreed completely with its position on everything I was aware of was pretty much enough to turn me from a fringe observer of the atheist movement into someone who said, “Y’know what?  Fuck this.  I don’t want to be associated with any of ’em.”  I don’t want to have anything to do with the misogynistic MRA pricks.  I also don’t want to have anything to do with the holier-than-thou Atheism+ folks, precisely because they sold it in exactly the same way that the people who once left the church I grew up in and went to start another church.  I had enough of that attitude within religion, I don’t need it with non-atheism.

    Quite frankly, I’ve never really seen the point of a semi-organized atheist movement.  I’m an atheist because I stopped believing in god and that’s enough for me.  So now that atheism is beginning to behave like religion, I really don’t care.  I think the problem goes back to that old Nietzsche quote: be careful when fighting monsters lest you become one.  Organized atheism grew specifically to counter right-wing Christianity.  As far as I can tell it’s gradually morphing into the monster it intends to fight.  I’m simply not a fan.

  • xytl

    As I understood it, it was less for ‘being a misogynist prick’ and more for saying that the atheist community should be much more concerned with abuses that are (a) far more severe and (b) perpetrated on religious grounds, and for considering the cause celebre du jour as an overblown storm in a coffee cup.

    Also, in my experience most of the people complaining about Dawkins for that whole thing take a dim view of gendered insults, too.

  • stardreamer42

    And saying that it’s no big deal if women feel unwelcome at major atheist conventions, that they should just take one for the team and keep working toward the elimination of REAL abuses, and she’s just a hysterical bitch anyhow, doesn’t make him a misogynist prick?

  • xytl

    Dawkins said all those things? He called someone a hysterical bitch, did he? News to me.

    He certainly indicated that he thought it no problem if people leaving a hotel bar at 4am were invited for coffee by a stranger who took ‘no’ for an answer without any fuss. In doing so he also drew attention to very serious problems faced by women in many countries, with the implication that we ought to be doing something about that.

    I don’t recall him opining at all on the larger question of whether women were comfortable at major conferences, only on one incident involving one woman. I’d check the original thread, but I think PZ has deleted all the old comments now.

    But feel free to denounce Dawkins as a misogynist. And add a gendered insult too if you like.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

     

    Dawkins said all those things? He called someone a hysterical bitch, did he? News to me.

    He certainly indicated that he thought it no problem if people
    leaving a hotel bar at 4am were invited for coffee by a stranger who
    took ‘no’ for an answer without any fuss. In doing so he also drew
    attention to very serious problems faced by women in many countries,
    with the implication that we ought to be doing something about that.

    *sigh*

    For those not familiar with ElevatorGate, xytl is leaving out two very important details. Three very important details.

    1) Rebecca Watson had just that evening given a talk on “fellow atheists, this is how to make women feel more accepted in your community.” I do believe her points covered things like not treating women as there for men’s sexual pleasure, interacting in ways other than sexualized ways, and not treating women in ways that women would find threatening, i.e. backing them up against walls while delivering pick-up lines.

    2) She left the bar in the wee hours telling friends that she was tired out and just wanted to go to sleep.

    3) The guy who propositioned her didn’t just do it in the bar. He followed her out of the bar into the elevator she was taking to her room and propositioned her in the elevator. Following a woman “home” after a late night in the bar and propositioning her in an enclosed space with no exit? That’s threatening damn behavior.

    In short,

    A) After a day in which she gave a public lecture and then had a long conversation in a bar both of which touched on the subject of “Guys, don’t do that,” a guy who had heard her say all these things did exactly “that.”

    B) It’s called “ElevatorGate” for a reason; taking “cornered her in an elevator on her way to her hotel room in the wee hours to proposition her for sex, but took ‘no’ for an answer, which is a good damn thing considering the high incidence of men turning violent when women turn them down and also considering Watson couldn’t have gotten away from him until she got to her floor, at which point he could have followed her down the hall, found out what room she was staying in, and even forced his way into her room after her, which is something rapists have actually done at hotel conventions” …and whittling that down to “propositioned her for sex and took ‘no’ for an answer” is dishonest.

    And that’s not even going into Dawkins’s response being clearly intended not as a neutral “drawing attention to very serious problems” but to shut Watson up in a textbook silencing maneuver.

    xytl, you posted either in ignorance or dishonesty. Now you are no longer ignorant; it’s your choice whether to be dishonest.

    My apologies to those for whom this situation and its nuances are old news; clearly to some it is not.

  • xytl

    I do hate to prolong this offtopic rehash of an old flamewar, but it might just be coming back on-topic… 

    So, The Man in the Elevator had certainly heard her say all that? We know this now? Because in the version I heard, he was just some guy hanging around the edge of the group who separated off when he saw Ms. Watson leaving. Has it now been firmly established that he was in fact at her talk, many hours previously? Or just when it was that he joined the group at the bar, and what parts of the conversation he was in? I didn’t think we even knew who he was, nor even had even the slightest description of the man. So I don’t see that we can be at all sure that he’d heard any of the backstory.

    What we’re left with is a question of etiquette. Some women argue, as you do, that getting a woman alone in this way could be read as threatening behaviour, and it’s better done in public. Others I’ve heard from say that putting a woman on the spot in front of everybody puts her under extra social pressures not to cause a scene or spoil the fun, and so it’s better done in private.

    This dispute about good manners and proper comportment somehow blew up into a monster flamewar. Dawkins said that in a world full of the most appalling abuses, it was absurd that the community was making _this_ into its big human rights issue. For that, he is now being denounced here, over a year later, as a ‘misogynist prick’ and accused of calling somebody a ‘hysterical bitch’. None of which is true.

    But what is true is that in the course of the ongoing flamewar plenty of misogynists _did_ drop out of the woodwork. Dawkins never, to my knowledge, called anybody anything of the sort, but others did, and I seem to recall The Amazing Atheist said a lot worse in his spectacular meltdown. Perhaps Dawkins is being conflated with those? Are people assuming that _all_ who disagree on this issue are Like That?

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Are people assuming that _all_ who disagree on this issue are Like That?

    Plenty of people do.

    It’s also interesting to note where discussions of Elevatorgate crop up in mixed company.  Is the issue raised by non-atheists who want to make the world, and the atheist community in particular, safer and more welcoming for women?  Maybe, sometimes.

    But far more often, I see Elevatorgate used as a cudgel for one or both of the following “points”:

    1.  Atheists are assholes.

    2.  Richard Dawkins is the worst human on the planet.

    Take this thread.  The OP is about criticism of liberal Christianity for not speaking out against their hateful, homophobic, RTC fellow believers.  But atheists are jerks tooooo!

    As to the second point, Dawkins didn’t exactly want for haters before Elevatorgate.  But now that people who didn’t give a damn about the health of the atheist movement before have discovered Elevatorgate, well…see point 1.

  • Mira

    I’ve heard it mainly in terms of “man, misogynists are assholes/awkward guys should want to dissociate from misogynists even if they might accidentally act inappropriately once in a while.” But I’ve mainly heard about it from atheists.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’d like to note that this issue is very similar to the case of the woman who actually managed to get through to a guy who propositioned her from the street in his car. She explained to him that what he’d done could be seen as threatening and he actually stopped and thought about it.

    But it was the first time he’d ever realized it!

    That’s the same knd of situation as the man in the elevator. Some men (perhaps many) haven’t been taught, because Western culture doesn’t teach it routinely, that things they do which seem entirely natural and ordinary to them actually can be interpreted as threatening behavior by women.

    So it may have been absolutely unintentional on the man’s part, but it doesn’t change the fact that you don’t wait until someone is essentially unable to physically withdraw from a conversation before you ask them out on a date.

    So what the man did is a textbook example of what not to do, and it’s clear that if he WAS at the seminar, he took none of it to heart.

    Dawkins’s main problem is that he doesn’t seem to try to put himself in her shoes: that were he in an elevator and some fundie started getting in his face, he would be extremely displeased with being unable to exit the situation.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I suspect that Dawkins already does liken the situation to if he were stuck in an elevator with an angry fundie. He wouldn’t feel threatened, just annoyed, and would have something interesting to complain about later.

    The actual issue is that Dawkins being stuck in an elevator with an argumentative fundamentalist isn’t actually very much like a woman stuck in an elevator with an agressive suitor, unless Dawkins lived in a world where one in three atheists had been shivved by a fundamentalist and then told by the police that he had it coming for being out unescorted dressed “like that”.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I didn’t say the analogy was perfect.

  • Wednesday

     There’s also an important difference between PZ Myers and Pat Robertson in their stances on social justice issues and inclusion of voices other than white straight men in their movements, and in participation in public life in general.

    It’s probably better to compare Pat Robertson to one of the MRA atheists who are calling Atheism+ a feminazi takover.

  • xytl

    TIL: Abbie Smith is a white straight man. So is Harriet Hall.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    You don’t think it’s at all different when we’re talking about the (by far) most privileged religious group in North America (and many other places on the planet, lest I get flamed for inclusion/exclusion of other nations)?  You don’t think it’s at all different when we’re talking about a group with an almost unbelievable level of power and influence, the “norm” for so much of society, versus a minority?

  • j_anson

    Oh no! Now you’ve said it! :)

  • Ben English

     On the other hand, I think it would be a good deal easier for them to resist the hateful ones, considering atheism doesn’t have two millenia of dogma and tradition, or the fundamentalist brainwashing apparatus that any progressive Christians will run smack dab into when confronting hateful believers.

  • LL

    Most atheists (people claiming to be atheists, anyway) probably ARE assholes, and I don’t have a problem with people pointing that out. 

    When an atheist gets enough political power to give their particular irrational prejudices the force of law, I’ll feel more obligated to make public my denunciations of them. But the only people I see very publicly doing their best to deprive other citizens of basic rights using the power of the government are religious people (or those claiming that motivation). 

    I think that’s why it seems more important to most people to do something about them, rather than the pathetic, powerless atheist assholes. 

    I can’t think of a single publicly atheist U.S. Senator (or representative). And as far as we know, we haven’t had an atheist president (in this century, anyway). 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Most atheists (people claiming to be atheists, anyway) probably ARE
    assholes, and I don’t have a problem with people pointing that out.

    *Ahem.*

  • LL

    If that’s a shot at me, fine, whatever. You’re entitled to your opinion.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I rather take exception to your “atheists are assholes” statement, yes.

    Addendum to all:

    What the FRAK is it with Christmastime every year in this here Slacktivist making people more snipe-y and snarly? I remember last year people having a go at each other for pretty specious reasons around December as well.

  • Carstonio

    That’s almost as ugly as J’s Christian-bashing. My theory is that we’re dealing with a personality type that transcends ideas about religion or ideology. The vocal members of any group tend to be the most extreme ones, and vice versa. These are people who go out of their way to tell you their affiliation and give you grief over your own. John Stossel and David Horowitz went from being smugly self-righteous lefties to smugly self-righteous righties, but that doesn’t say anything about the typical person in either ideology.

  • LL

    It’s based on my opinion that most people in general are assholes. But I’m not a big fan of people in general. You can think that’s mean or wrong if you want. I certainly don’t expect most people to agree with it.

  • Carstonio

    I suppose it’s possible to believe that without also believing that the human race deserves extinction or eternal damnation or a Mayan end of the world. Or at least without wishing suffering on most of the people next to you in the subway. Not mean or wrong necessarily, but certainly hateful.

  • cosmicdancer

    We probably have. they just didn’t make a public point about it .  Every day you are meeting atheists, they just didn’t tell you they were.   even people seen in church every week can be atheists at heart, they’re just not angry about it.  all atheism is, is a lack of belief in gods,  there’s no other required behavior. some people can’t deal with both participating in religious activities and not really believing  their underlying premises,  and some people can. 

    anyway, one problem with confronting fundamentlists is that they.don’t.listen. you tell them you disagree,  and they tell you that your argument is invalid and you must not be a real christian after all.   and they’re *dirty* fighters who will stoop to any insane tactic they can to win  so appeals to facts and logic simply don’t work. 

  • LL

    I doubt I meet atheists every day. I’d like it if there were more of them, but I don’t think they exist in large numbers, yet. I think most people are essentially agnostic. They think there’s some “higher power” out there, but they don’t feel strongly about it, don’t want to go to church, they’re basically passive non-church people. 

    And the bottom line is, I don’t really care whether someone is an atheist or not, I mostly care how they treat other people. If you’re not a giant dick to people, you’re cool by me. Regardless of your religious beliefs, or lack thereof. 

    Savage was just making the statement that he didn’t see a lot of Christians acting on their supposed gay friendly beliefs. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I can’t think of a single publicly atheist U.S. Senator (or representative).

    There was one. Pete Stark came out atheist a couple years ago, and then he got redistricted and he lost his primary. Kyrsten Sinema, who just got elected, we don’t know. She said she was atheist while campaigning, but now she says she’s not.

  • Tricksterson

    Up until next year there’s Pete Stark from California.  He lost this year to another Democrat.

  • Ben English

    Part of the problem is that the media itself, liberal and conservative alike, has narrowly defined Christianity in the public discourse. It’s not just the ‘issues’ like abortion and gay marriage: Christianity in the popular consciousness is all about not having sex, using drugs, or boozing it up. It’s about pretending you don’t even thinking about sex unless it’s strictly with your heterosexual spouse, about setting yourself apart from the world by watching terrible alternative movies and avoiding Harry Potter and Twilight and all sort of other ‘DON’T DO THIS’ bullshit. And about getting sweaty and loud for Jesus and crossing yourself and saying ‘ave Maria’ but not ever, ever, challenging the status quo.

    Meanwhile the mainline Christians look, to those inside the Evangelical bubble, like pretenders and fakes. After all, they don’t adhere to the tribal markers!

  • LL

    Don’t get me started on the media. They’re a bunch of assholes, too. I understand (I really, really do) how hard it is for reasonable people to get on TV when the batshit crazy ones are always ready and willing to go on TV and say stupid shit just to get attention. Batshit crazy is apparently what you have to be now to be considered compelling or interesting or newsworthy. It’s disgusting. I have a degree in journalism. We’re supposed to have standards about what goes on the news. But I guess those don’t matter anymore. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    When possible, I try to avoid that kind of phrase — “We’re not all like that,” or “Yes, I’m a Christian, but not that kind of Christian.” I don’t like the idea of defining or identifying myself based on what I’m not — or based on what I’m against.

    This reminds me of all the Communists who keep trying to insist that the Soviet Union was “deformed state capitalist”.

    Sure, the USSR wasn’t what Karl Marx intended, and to a great extent Stalin’s influence can be seen in why Communism gets a bad rap, but the fact that the political-ecomomic doctrine lent itself so well to that kind of abuse is something that can’t be ignored.

    There is a lesson for the “NALT” Christians there.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Sure, the USSR wasn’t what Karl Marx intended, and to a great extent Stalin’s influence can be seen in why Communism gets a bad rap, but the fact that the political-economic doctrine lent itself so well to that kind of abuse is something that can’t be ignored.
    There is a lesson for the “NALT” Christians there.

    Which is…?

  • Kryptozoon

    The way I read it, the lesson is that one should not think Christianity is an innocent victim of being turned into a doctrine of hate from the outside, but that such an outcome is to some extent inherent in the system.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The doctrinal material Marx and Lenin created turned out to be easily appropriated to justify authoritarian power structures.

    The doctrinal material Christians have for themselves contains passages and phrases which can be easily appropriated to justify reinforcing social and economic privilege of one group against many others. Among them, QUILTBAG people.

    As I have noted so many times over my life, the same people who handwave away slapping a ham and cheese sandwich together happily haul out “A man shall not lie with a man as a man lies with a woman, for it is an abomination and both shall be put to death.”

  • xytl

    Is ‘appropriated’ the right word here? Lenin’s writings weren’t appropriated to justify authoritarian power structures – they were written to justify an authoritarian power structure. The man was a dictator himself!

  • fraser

     In much the same way, libertarians fantasize about how all the problems in the economic system would be weeded out if we got a totally free market and the rising tide of the free market will lift all boats.

  • Tricksterson

    No, it wasn’t what Marx intended. Maybe.  The problem is that Marx was very vague about how to get from capitalism to the Promised Land of the proletarian paradise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    It’s either “deformed workers’ state” (not communist, but needs defending against capitalism) or “state capitalism”. Careful with sorting your commies out.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Part of the problem is that right-wing arsehats seem to be the mainstream media’s definition of Christianity – covering every word that oozes out of Pat Robertson’s mouth, for instance. Part of it may be because quoting hateful arsehats garners ratings where quoting peaceful live-and-let-live types does not; part of it may be that a lot of hateful arsehats have money and celebrity status.

    How do liberal Christians wrest the megaphone back from rich right-wing arsehats purporting to represent Christianity with their publicity teams and their mainstream media magnetism? How does someone like Fred go up against the celebrities like Pat Robertson – other than by doing what he’s already doing, which is being a constant voice on the internet doing exactly what Dan Savage wants to take him to task for not doing? How can he do it more effectively without cooperation from pundits, media moguls, etc.?

    I’m not making excuses with this, but I am trying to highlight a problem with Dan Savage’s criticism: in many cases, liberal Christians are already doing exactly what he claims they aren’t; and the extent to which they aren’t able to do it LOUDER and IN FRONT OF MILLIONS with THE BACKING OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS is something I’m stumped as to how to correct.

  • Daughter

     The same criticism is often lodged at moderate Muslims for not challenging the extremists. But many of them do; their voices just aren’t heard.

  • Pseudonym

    Daughter, you are so right about that. Every week we hear about another rocket attack, or terrorist incident, or some unfortunate young woman in the wrong place at the wrong time being sentenced by a provincial judge to some horriffic punishment, in the Middle East. But we never hear about the significant nonviolent resistance movements there.

    The problem with Dan Savage’s suggestion is manyfold, but the main one is that “they” don’t listen to “us”, either, and moreover, “they” are taught not to listen to us because we’re evil deceivers or something. We’re all up for some interfaith dialogue, because that actually works if everyone wants it to work. “They” don’t want to be in on it.

    Of course, it doesn’t help that we’ve got our own programming which stops us from doing this at times. Those of us on the Christian left tend to shun the whole “us” and “them” dichotomy, after all. Moreover, we get very nervous of engaging in anything which could potentially result in sectarian conflict.

    I know my history. Most of us here do. Christians fighting Christians never ends well. We’d rather not repeat that.

  • stardreamer42

    Unfortunately, it only takes 1 side to make a fight — and an awful lot of the hate-based Christians have no qualms at all about taking on those they see as “not Christian enough“. If they ever do come to the secular power they covet, being Christian will not save you.

  • j_anson

    Yeah, I love Dan Savage, but when he says this stuff I find it super-frustrating. My church, the US Episcopal Church, has been courting schism with the broader Anglican Communion for a while now largely BECAUSE we are vocally defending gays; it’s certainly caused a lot of upheaval within the US church because some of our members didn’t like hearing that, but we were saying it anyway.

    The frank fact is, there ARE a lot of liberal Christians who ARE making a point of speaking out about this. But when you’re going for sheer volume of response, screaming spittle-flecked bigotry just has a natural advantage over reasoned, compassionate, inclusive messages. It’s easier to hear. It’s more memorable. And it gets more news coverage.

    I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with encouraging more liberal Christians to try harder – that is always a good thing, of course. But I find it frustrating that Dan Savage divides Christians into 1) the bad ones, and 2) the ones that don’t do anything.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    The frank fact is, there ARE a lot of liberal Christians who ARE making a point of speaking out about this. But when you’re going for sheer volume of response, screaming spittle-flecked bigotry just has a natural advantage over reasoned, compassionate, inclusive messages. It’s easier to hear. It’s more memorable. And it gets more news coverage.

    I was a member of the United Methodist church before I became UU and there’s also a large pro-gay movement in the UMC as well.  Unfortunately they have so far been unsucessful, but there are people in the church actively trying to change things.

    So when Savage writes, “So stop writing me and telling me that you’re Not All Like That, and start doing something about it. Start telling them you’re Not All Like That,” my response is… people ARE telling them.  People ARE doing something about it.

    However, unless the pro-gay Christians start “doing something about it” by killing people or beating people or driving people to suicide, they’re not going to be anywhere near as visible as the anti-gay folks, because “Minister gives excellent sermon on why they think homosexuality is NOT inconsistent with Christian teaching” or “Minister counsels gay youth that God loves him and there’s nothing wrong with being gay” doesn’t make for exciting headline news.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong.  One of the reasons I don’t see myself ever going back to the UMC is that I’ve decided that if your church wouldn’t let an openly gay minister marry a gay couple, I don’t want to swear to uphold it with “my prayers, my presence, my gifts, and my service”.   The fact that so little headway is being made is a bad thing.  But it’s not because there are no liberal Christians fighting for acceptance of gays.

     Should there be more?  Sure.  Do people keep their mouths shut because they’re afraid of being shunned by their congregation when I wish they would speak out anyway?  Yeah.  But there ARE Christians who are doing something, and a non-trivial number of them, too.

  • James Probis

     You know what the news tends to cover? _Disagreement_.

    I can guarantee that if a bunch of Christians were to muster the sort of self-righteous haranguing you direct at people like Dan Savage the news would cover it. If a denomination were to proclaim from the pulpit that Pat Robertson is wrong and that he is harming people and that such harm is something that must be opposed- that would get news coverage.

    There is a hell of a lot of middle ground between nodding along with a pro-equality sermon and driving conservative Christians to suicide.

    There are groups like Soulforce who actually _do_ something about equality. Imagine if every Christian who self-righteously goes off on a rant because some gay person somewhere got a bit upset were a member of Soulforce. Imagine if a rant like this were directed against every single anti-gay Christian.

    Don’t tell me you’re better than the bigots because you don’t get angry. Your reaction to people who have a problem with religiously motivated homophobia demonstrates you are perfectly capable of anger. You just choose to direct that anger at people like Dan Savage rather than at the bigots who destroy lives.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    I can guarantee … If a denomination were to proclaim from the pulpit that Pat Robertson is wrong and that he is harming people and that such harm is something that must be opposed- that would get news coverage.

    Has happened in several congregations, actually. Didn’t hear about it? That’s because it didn’t get news coverage.

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

    Should there be more?  Sure.  Do people keep their mouths shut because they’re afraid of being shunned by their congregation when I wish they would speak out anyway?  Yeah.  But there ARE Christians who are doing something, and a non-trivial number of them, too.

    Absolutely, and more power to them.
    I know many, and they are deserving of praise.
    And, yes, there should be more.
    And, yes, people do keep their mouths shut, and that silence causes suffering.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     I also think part of the problem is that people don’t really know what they can or should do.

    Like I said, I used to be United Methodist, and despite their being a large pro-gay movement in the UMC the organization as a whole is definitely NOT one of the good guys when it comes to acceptance of homosexuality in mainline Protestant churches.

    Now, this is my personal experience and may very well not be representative, but as a straight person I have to say the number of times I’ve heard someone express an anti-gay sentiment in a UMC church (let alone from a position of authority) is exactly never.  (In fact my general experience is that the sermons, etc in the UMC tend to shy away from any topic that might create any sort of controversy whatsoever, but YMMV.)

    Now I expect that my experience would have been totally different had I been gay, but I’m assuming the suggestion that pro-gay liberal Christians need to do something isn’t directed primarily at gay Christians.  So the question is, as a pro-gay straight Christian in an organization that I know is anti-gay, but never hears the issue actually addressed in church because that might upset someone and half the worship committee is already mad of the other half over whether the “contemporary” service is too contemporary so goodness knows we don’t want to make any more trouble… what should I do?

    I mean, personally I left (and the UMC’s anti-gay stance was one reason, though not the only one) but for someone who’s not prepared to leave… then what?

    Giving people suggestions about WHAT to do will get a lot more people doing things than just telling them they should “do something” will.  (And of course “what to do” is probably not going to be a one-size-fits-all-Christians thing, but will vary by denomination.)

    I’m afraid I personally don’t have clever suggestions along these lines.  (I never really understood how the power structure in the UMC worked except that I didn’t have any.)

  • James Probis

     There are groups like Soulforce who actually take action to promote equality. When anti-gay churches shell out millions of dollars to promote discriminatory laws I don’t think a few sermons counteracts that.

    I just get the feeling a _lot_ of the Christians who get all bent out of shape whenever someone like Dan Savage speaks up really don’t comprehend that we are talking about injustice being done in the name of their faith. They seem to think a few pretty words counteract the real world action anti-gay Christians take to cause harm to people.

    Anti-gay Christians buy ad time to promote their hate. The few Christian groups promoting equality have their ads rejected by supposedly liberal Christian magazines like Sojourners. And really that is the perfect example of what I’m talking about: supposedly liberal Christian magazine Sojourners rejected pro-equality advertisements because they didn’t want to upset their readership.

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

     

    Giving people suggestions about WHAT to do will get a lot more people
    doing things than just telling them they should “do something” will. 

    True.

    Mostly I think the most useful thing we can do in cases like this is take opportunities to let the people around us know that we are safe people to trust.

    There’s a million ways to communicate that.

    Sometimes it’s as simple as being inclusive in language and presumption… not assuming that all partners and spouses are opposite-gendered, for example, or making a point of using different kinds of people and different kinds of families in examples anecdotes… and politely correcting others when they fail to be.

    Sometimes it’s as messy as suggesting the church do outreach to a local Pride parade, or invite a GLBT speaker to do a presentation for interested parishioners, or devote some time during the children’s program to a discussion of different types of families. (Which, yes, that suggestion will almost undoubtedly get rejected. But people see us suggesting it, and that lets people know we’re safe to approach.)

  • Darkrose

    I think some of it is that the liberal Christians hold themselves to ethical standards, while many of the extremist are willing to bully and scream and lie until theirs are the only voices anyone can hear.

  • Pseudonym

    That last point is very important. If we had millions of dollars to spend, pretty much none of us would waste it on buying cable TV channels. We’d fix the leak in the manse’s roof and spend the rest on the poor, homeless and hungry.

  • stardreamer42

    This has always puzzled me, because another thing that’s guaranteed to get ratings is controversy. Wouldn’t showing the disagreement between left-wing and right-wing Christianity be good for that? Especially if the left-wingers were specifically saying, “We’re not all like that, and this guy does not represent either us or mainstream Christian thought”?

  • http://snarkthebold.blogspot.com/ Edo

    Wouldn’t showing the disagreement between left-wing and right-wing
    Christianity be good for that?

    No.

    You’re assuming that our dissent would be both perceived and portrayed as legitimate and representative of an alternate vision of Christianity. No such thing would occur: the portrayal would be of an opinion as fringe and sectarian as snake-fondling or Old Order Amish dress codes.

    It would then be immediately followed up by the rightists dogpiling whatever poor bastard did most of the speaking in that disagreement (which would get reported), and the poor bastard’s own denomination being forced to either purge them or tear themselves apart as their own tame rightists break away (which would also get reported.)

    And then, just to salt the wounds, Ross Douthat and his ilk would write a bunch of patronizing homilies to the tune of “LOL, f*cking liberal churches aren’t Biblical and [deserve to] die because of it,” and those would also get published.

    In the same way the official story of the 2012 election was a horse race with Romney at least neck-and-neck with Obama, the official story of American Christendom is that liberal churches are dying, and more importantly, ought to die.

  • fraser

     The media have a definite sense of which views are inside Overton’s Window and which ones are, as you say “fringe” (FAIR has noted several times how reporters and political analysts will label a position they approve of as “not ideological”). In 2006-8, when the Iraq War was wildly unpopular, pundits routinely dismissed opposition to the war as a fringe leftist position.
    Same here. Nobody in the mainstream media bats an eye at Republicans pushing legislation sponsored by the religious right but if Obama were seen as supporting policy endorsed and pushed by left-wing religious groups, the media would be tut-tutting about how he needs to stand up and prove to the country that he’s not the puppet of left-wing extremists.
    None of which excuses us not speaking out of course.

  • ReverendRef

     Well, one place to look is at All Saints in Pasadena, CA who is allowing the Muslim Public Affairs Council to meet in their building.

    Article here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/us/pasadena-church-criticized-for-hosting-muslim-convention.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121214&_r=0

    The christian luv spewing from the right is typical. 

    Part of the problem, I think, is that our faith isn’t set to “attack mode,” so we don’t work to raise funds to fight the popular bogey man of the day.

  • James Probis

     “Part of the problem, I think, is that our faith isn’t set to “attack
    mode,” so we don’t work to raise funds to fight the popular bogey man of
    the day.”

    The visible effect of that is that you aren’t raising funds to defend those being attacked in the name of your religion. You aren’t campaigning in favor of equality in anything even remotely approaching the numbers the religious right gather to demand more discrimination.

    Liberal Christianity is Sojourners magazine refusing to run ads from pro-equality groups in deference to the supposed “debate” over the basic humanity of a group of people.

    “Liberal” Christians will tell us all how they have to respect their brothers and sisters in Christ, and can’t get angry at them, then turn around and angrily denounce gay people for being upset at being discriminated against. I just want to see some of the bile I see directed at gays and atheists in this very discussion directed at the religious right.

    If Christians can bitch about “internet atheists” they don’t get to brag about how above it all you are in not angrily denouncing religious right bigotry.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Racism, racism, racism, heterosexism, anti-Islam–I don’t have my card on me. Is that bingo?

  • esmerelda_ogg

     Starve the troll. Okay?

  • Tricksterson

    Ah but when a witty reply to a stupid screed pops into your head sometimes you just have to use it or it goes stir crazy and takes you with it.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Fascinating – on my browser, the trollish posts had disappeared hours ago and so had my comment that you’re replying to. Not that the vanished comments are any loss.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yesterday’s 9:14 pm screed is still here, but the youtube spam is gone.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     All I see is a one-line insult from around 10 last night (Eastern time; I’m not sure where you are, so maybe we’re talking about the same post).

  • EllieMurasaki

     http://i243.photobucket.com/albums/ff111/chibicallisto/Untitled-3.png –Winston Blake’s 9:14 goes up a couple screen heights, and there’s a 9:13 above it, but those seem to be his only remaining comments on the thread.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Wait, no, one 9:26 this morning.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Duh, I fail timekeeping. I think that’s the one I’m seeing. Well, as long as he’s gone.

  • Tricksterson

    Its still all visible to me.  And yeesh he couldnt even spell “faggot” right.

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

    FWIW, if someone were to assert that Haredim were typical of Judaism and therefore judged me on the basis of their actions, I would consider that person simply mistaken, and I would not feel compelled to contact the Haredim at that point to let them know they don’t represent me as a Jew.

    If ten people were to assert that, the same is true. Ditto for a hundred.

    It’s not clear to me how many people have to believe that Haredim represent Judaism before it becomes my job, not to explain to them that they’re wrong, but to accept their judgment and concentrate my attention on changing how the Haredim behave.

    Or, for that matter, why there should be some threshold number of people that has that property in the first place.

  • Morilore

    It’s not clear to me how many people have to believe that Haredim represent Judaism before it becomes my job, not to explain to them that they’re wrong, but to accept their judgment and concentrate my attention on changing how the Haredim behave.

    It’s not about the number of people, it’s about the power relationship.  If one is part of a hegemonic group in a given society, the responsibility to make sure that group doesn’t hurt others outweighs the responsibility to protect it from others, because it endangers others more than others endanger it.

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

    Agreed.

  • Darkrose

    Imagine you were a white person in Tennessee in the 1960’s. You, personally, haven’t lynched anyone, you’re not in the Klan, and you’ve actually used “Mr.” or “Mrs.” when talking to a black person. You genuinely believe that Jim Crow is not a good thing. But when you have a chance to stand with the Freedom Riders publically, you choose to stay quiet other than to say “Hey, now, all white Southerners aren’t like that!”

    That’s kind of what I feel like sometimes. Of course all Christians aren’t Fred Phelps. But just saying that isn’t enough. If you want to actually show solidarity, then you have to make it clear what you stand for other than “Not as bad as those guys over there.” 

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

    I understand your feeling that way, or at least I think I do.

    And I agree that making it clear what I stand for as a non-extremist Jew is an important part of dealing with extremist elements within Judaism.

    That said, I think the way I do that is by talking about what I think Judaism is, and about what I value, and by living my life visibly as a Jew.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I have to wonder if his point isn’t “Get out there and prove your existence,” but “Stop telling us already. We know you exist, and we know you don’t like being lumped in together with them. But that’s how you’re viewed by the outside, so that’s how you’re going to be addressed. Stop telling us you don’t like it and go tell THEM.” 

    Because complaining that the Right doesn’t represent everyone doesn’t really do anything except let the complainer get offense of their chest. But if that person were to use that energy to add to the effort of getting the NALTs heard, eventually it’ll be too big to ignore. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I think this is a more general problem, though: it isn’t limited to Christianity, religion, or conservatism.  The most extreme people in a group tend to be the loudest, and the loudest people tend to get heard more often.  Hence there’s a tendency for people with more extreme views than the group as a whole to nonetheless tend to become the public face of the group.

  • Worthless Beast

    I’ve found a lot of NALT moments in my life – and not always about religion.

    One of these that was: I was visiting some of my fiance’s realitives and an evening conversation cropped up about politics and theocrats – most members of this family are a mix of agnostic, Pagan and Buddhist.  I wound up speaking up that I “followed Christ” but wasn’t into church and pretty much had the same thoughts on the theocrats as they did.  This is not something that would have come up unless there had been a conversation specifically about it already going on, complete with eding toward stertopes.  My fiancee had a NALT-moment then, too, when he said “Um, I’m a Republican.”  (To be fair, I don’t think he’s actually *voted* Republican in a long time, he’s really more Independant/equal opprotunity critic of politics in spirit)…

    I sometimes feel like screaming “NAAAAAAALT!” to the world whenever I see the news handle a mass murder tragedy because it seems like they play a game of “Was the gunman gregarious with loads of friends? – Ooooh! How could this even happen?” / “Was the gunman a shy loner?  Oh, that’s just typical troubled loner behavior!”  — Posting junk on blogs on the Interent is about as social as I get most days.  I am an introvert, some might even say slightly misanthropic – No, world, I do not stockpile guns or plan the downfall of my neighborhood.  I stockpile books and movies. This is another kind of sterotype… but… no, Not All Loners Are Like That.

    Let’s talk about mental illness.  I have one.  One of the “still can function at least somewhat” ones – bipolar disorder.  Again, I do not stockpile guns.  I understand the difference between dream and reality even if I’m a tad emotional.  I will not hurt you unless you try to hurt me first. Also, you do not need to condesend to me and speak to me like I am a child.  Not All Like That.  

  • Aliciabrighton

    You could also get active politically. There is a definite tendency in US society at least to essentially surrender terms like “morals” and “values” and “faith” to extremely conservative / reactionary types. It’s reached the point where it’s almost too easy to assume that identifying as an “evangelical Christian” means that you also oppose the estate tax, support lowering the top marginal tax rates, support increased spending on the military, oppose EPA regulations on carbon emissions, back the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, oppose federal spending on high-speed rail initiatives, and want to repeal the PPACA. Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with these positions from a Biblical perspective, but it’s disturbing that the media can comfortably portray all of these things are being more or less directly from the Bible, as if Ronald Reagan was allowed to publish a new apocrypha while no one was looking.

    It would be very helpful if we could decouple  conservatism and right-wing politics from Christianity; if non- right-wing Christians would get involved visibly in the political arena, it might help out that image. It would make it easier to show people that, yes, you can be Christian and left-wing or Christian and centrist or Christian and feminist or Christian an environmentalist, just like how you can be Christian and right-wing or Christian and libertarian or Christian and fundamentalist — you’re free to choose and there isn’t that bizarre inextricable link between a certain set of purely secular political positions and a dominant religion.

  • Storiteller

    There are loads of left wingish and centrist Christians in politics, but because they don’t scream about their faith and use it like a weapon, the mainstream media forgets about their faith. And when they do talk about their faith, they get accused of “not really being Christian” by the right-wing. Look at what happened to Obama when Reverend Wright came up. He obviously didn’t meet the right wing’s mold of “Christian” and so the coverage got so bad that Obama threw him under the bus. Similarly, there are lots of Catholic politicians who are pro-choice and for marriage equality, but their faith only gets covered when the Bishop denies them communion for holding those stances. It’s not just that they aren’t Christian, and it’s not even like they are hiding it. But they act as it’s not the most important thing about them as a politician and I’d have to agree.

  • Dana

    Kudos to Dan Savage here.

    In his position, it’d be really easy to be prejudiced against religious people generally. I see a lot of people who want to insist that Christianity intrinsically = whatever the worst possible expressions of so-called Christianity show up in our society, and scoffing at liberal Christians who suggest otherwise. I can even sympathize with that response, to an extent, given that it’s coming from people who have been wronged by Christians and aren’t seeing much or any of its good forms in the world around them.

    Dan’s willingness to take people at their word that they’re both (genuinely) pro-equality and (genuinely) Christian is much appreciated.

    That said, I think he might overestimate how much a liberal Christian might be able to do. If we try to speak up and say “that’s not Christianity” to conservative Christians, those conservative Christians are not going to be interested in what we have to say.

    When scores of mainstream churches, representing a large percentage of America’s churchgoing population, get together and sign off on a document supporting marriage equality, this barely gets a mention in the media. But the folks speaking against gay marriage get lots of air time. So even when liberal Christians are trying to speak out and are doing so in massive numbers, the message that the country as a whole is getting is that “Christians are opposed to gay marriage.” When the narrative is already set and the media marginalizes attempts to change that narrative, it’s hard to see how those liberal Christians are at fault, because despite their best efforts their voices aren’t given the same attention as the anti-gay crowd’s.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    I think he might overestimate how much a liberal Christian might be able to do.

    Well, yeah. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across right-wing Christians casually remarking that of course Episcopalians aren’t real Christians, generally because we don’t marginalize LGBT people. So the likelihood that Pat Robertson and company would pay the least attention to anything we say? Does. Not. Exist.

    Trying to get the point across in the mainstream media has a slightly better chance of working, though as others have noted the media usually prefers to report the most outrageous and offensive positions they can find; drama sells.

  • lawrence090469

    I used to be an Episcopalian, a Sunday school teacher, a vestry member, a Republican. I am none of those things now. I learned, from Evid3nce on Youtube, that I have been an atheist by technicality since I decided God does not answer prayers. I have a decent speech about why I think that. Sam Harris gives a much better one, in that one clip where he is using William Lane Craig for a punching bag. As an Episcopalian Deist, my real deconversion started in Bush 43’s first term. It started with my raw revulsion of the Religious right, and my anger with Christian moderates for letting them frame Christianity uncontested. And I don’t believe for a minute that if the leaders of the Episcopal and Methodist denominations held a press conference where they declared that the Cardinal of Rome is a criminal, James Dobson a heretic and a fiend and the fundraising arm of the vile Dominionist movement, that the press would refuse to tell the story. It would be huge news. There are many reasons why this does not happen. One is that there is always a few crabby old fossils in every congregation who are still bitching about using the “new” book of common prayer, and who reject modernity generally but are culturally attached to their denomination. And they put money in the plate every Sunday. More than young parents can spare. 

  • James Probis

    I think the real issue Dan has is that the overwhelming majority of those who _claim_ to be “liberal” Christians only ever say that when they are yet again bitching at a gay person who showed just the slightest bit of anger at being treated like shit. People always manage to stand up and self-righteously proclaim how strongly they support gay rights when it comes to yet again shutting some uppity faggot up, but they never seem to bring up their supposed support of equality at any other time.

    To hear Christians tell it every church in the country must be open and accepting, and Christians can barely walk down the street without tripping over all their gay friends.

    If every Christian who self-righteously tries to silence gay people whenever we speak up were a member of Soulforce, we wouldn’t have a problem with the religious right in this country. The problem is that the vast, vast majority of those Christians who proclaim how much they support gay rights never, ever _do_ anything about it. Hell, I _know_ people who proclaim themselves to be pro-gay Christians who have sat silently in the pews while gay people are demeaned from the pulpit. That doesn’t seem very pro-gay to me.

  • stardreamer42

     One of my gay friends, who is out to his family and has found them quite supportive and loving, once told me about his sister mentioning that the pastor in her church had given a pretty strongly anti-gay sermon… but “we just didn’t say anything”.

    He was pissed. I was livid on his behalf. If that doesn’t count as betrayal, what the hell does?

  • James Probis

    And for all those Christians congratulating yourselves for being so reasonable and refusing to show the slightest bit of anger towards bigots: where does that reasonableness go when you’re talking about people like Dan Savage? I have seen _plenty_ of spittle flecked rage directed at him from Christians who claim they aren’t anti-gay.

  • Ben English

    Are you addressing anyone in particular on this blog? Because anger against bigots is a pretty common theme here.

  • James Probis

    I’m addressing the idea that somehow Every single Christian is a special snowflake. I’m addressing the idea that gay people are never, ever allowed to show the slightest bit of anger at being spit on by bigots without a million Christians crawling out of the woodwork to berate them and declare “were not all like that!”

    I would just like to see supposedly moderate Christians show the slightest bit of the irrational rage they show whenever people like Dan Savage speak up directed against the bigots who are destroying families and lives. I would like for “were not all like that” to be something more than a self-congratulatory deflection of legitimate complaints.

  • Ben English

    I agree with you. It’s just… nobody here is saying the things your railing against. Hence the confusion.

  • LL

    That we know of. People tend to be “braver” online than they are in real life. We really only know what people claim. We don’t usually get verification of it, we have to take their word for it. 

  • James Probis

    Maybe nobody _here_  is saying that, it sure as hell happens a lot though. And I was explaining _why_ Savage made the statement he did. This is essentially a rephrasing of what he said in response to being endlessly smeared by supposedly moderate Christians in response to a group of Christian students making a huge show of marching out of a speech he gave.

  • j_anson

    So first off, I think it sucks that you’ve been crapped on by Christians, and as a Christian, if it helps at all, I’m sorry. You have every right not to be crapped on, and you have every right to be angry when people do. Full stop.

    Second, as one of the people (I suspect) that you’re addressing here, I should say that I’m not actually angry at Dan for saying this stuff (I’m frustrated by it, but that’s not the same thing). I do get where it’s coming from (as much as anyone can get something they haven’t experienced directly).

    But what we’re saying is not, “Dan has no right to ask us for this.” What we’re saying is, “This stuff Dan is asking us to do, that is precisely what we are doing!” So it’s frustrating to hear him talk about it as if it isn’t happening. Like I say, my church is currently being facing the possibility of being torn apart over an argument about precisely this issue, about precisely the fact that some of us are saying to some of the others, nope, we can’t stand for this, it has to change. I actually came to the Episcopal Church late in life, so I’m not as attached as many are to that broader community. But I know for many it would be very sad if the church were to schism. That isn’t stopping folks from pushing the issue, though.

    As a gay man who’s been crapped on, Dan has every right to be angry and every right to say any darn thing he wants to, frankly. But Dan’s also a guy with a pretty wide audience, whose voice reaches pretty far. To speak as if no Christians are putting their money where their mouths are, when in fact there are Christians who do so, I think tends to reinforce the dichotomy between Christians and liberals, at the very time that he’s asking us to break it down. He’s asking us to do something, and undermining that in the same breath.

    So I don’t think it’s productive. But I still think he has a right to say it if he wants to. I just find it frustrating.

  • Keromaru5

    To be honest, I’ve gotten frustrated in the Episcopal Church, partly because my old parish has become “NALT” to a big degree.  Actually, not just “Not all like that,” but “Thank God we’re not like that,” which I find incredibly arrogant and condescending.  That was the tone of the last sermon I heard there, about how great it was that they get to read skeptical authors like Spong.  It’s also what I felt at another service, when a nave full of middle-aged and elderly white people sang a negro spiritual.  Yes, let’s pat ourselves on the back for how progressive we are!  We’re not like those people.

    It’s a risky spiritual road to tread.  It’s almost literally the prayer of the Pharisee: “The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: ‘God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector….  But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

  • Keromaru5

    And of course, I screw up the boldface.  Phooey.  

  • Keromaru5

    “Wouldn’t showing the disagreement between left-wing and right-wing Christianity be good for that?”See, I’m not convinced it’s really all that newsworthy.  Just look at how much disagreement there is in Christianity already.  Protestants disagree with Catholics on the authority of the Pope.  The Pope disagrees with everyone not in the Magisterium.  Pat Robertson certainly isn’t going to care what Episcopalians or Lutherans or Methodists think.  And the Orthodox regularly criticize Catholics and Protestants alike for their respective heterodoxies.  It’s not that remarkable.Just take the Episcopal Church: it has ordained gay bishops and a woman as Presiding Bishop, and thrown the rest of the Anglican Communion into an existential crisis.  At this last General Convention, it approved rites for same sex blessings and canons for transgender priests.  Now the diocese of South Carolina has broken away from TEC.  How much coverage has this gotten?  It may get headlines for a day or two, but what else, beyond that?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     Exactly.  Entire denominations are breaking up over this very issue, with minimal news coverage.

    Why no news coverage?  I don’t know.  Just like I don’t know why we get news coverage of the latest celebrity pregnancy instead of news coverage of famine or genocide or civil unrest in other parts of the world.  And just like I don’t  know why we got news coverage of the latest candidate “gaffe” instead of actual substantial coverage of the issues at stake in the election.  And.. well, I could go on, but that’s another discussion altogether (and one I suspect I’d be preaching to the choir about here).

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Start?

  • guest

    I realised a few years ago that what Fred is calling NALT is an expression of privilege.  Privileged people expect to be treated as individuals, and are extremely uncomfortable being put in the position of being viewed as part of a group.  Those of us who grew up as members of othered groups are used to being judged individually by our group’s behaviour, having our individual behaviour being used to judge the group, being asked for the group’s opinion or view, being the token member of that group in a ‘diverse’ environment, etc.  Which is not to say these things don’t make us uncomfortable, but we understand what’s happening.  Privileged people don’t have this experience on a regular basis, and when they are suddenly faced with it it can frighten and anger them.  Think about how we react to statements starting ‘Americans’ or ‘white people’ or ‘men’ or ‘straight people’, compared to those starting ‘Egyptians’ or ‘Hispanics’ or ‘women’ or ‘lesbians’, to help appreciate the difference–in a sense, we perceive the latter as more ‘legitimate’ group nouns than the former.

    I realised this when I happened to be reading the autobiographies of a Middle-Eastern woman and a white American middle-class man (neither people very notable, but the latter grew up in a similar culture to mine, so I was interested in seeing what he brought away from it).  As I wrote at the time, after looking at the reviews of the woman’s autobiography,

    ‘I suspect that whatever criticism [white man’s book] received it was unlikely to have taken the form ‘[white man] culpably misled his readers by not including perspectives other than his own’ about gender relations, ethnic conflict, the political situation or whatever else the reviewer considered significant, or ‘there was another middle class white boy who grew up in the same place and time and had an entirely different experience, so [white man’s] book is wrong, or at least deficient’, or ‘[white man] plays up to/contradicts/ignores his readers’ preconceptions about what someone like him is like’. As a non-othered person he has the inherent right to his own personal story; he is not obliged to serve as the mouthpiece or model of a particular demographic group or criticised when someone else considers that he performs this service inadequately.’Also, there’s a great story in Michael Kimmel’s funny and enlightening talk on ‘Mars and Venus’, where he talks about a woman saying to another woman ‘when I look into the mirror, I see a black woman, you see a woman,’ and Michael Kimmel thinking ‘oh, when I look into the mirror I see a human being.’

  • fraser

     Much truth. I have a friend who can shriek with outrage about dismissive group statements about “all Southerners—” but has no qualms making group statements about Muslims.

  • Steele

    We already have people saying that Pat Robertson and his ilk are morons. UCC says that Pat Robertson and his ilk are morons. The Episcopalian Church says that they’re morons. We ARE telling that to them. We are telling them a LOT that not all Christians are like that, that Christianity doesn’t have to be like that. And no-one’s listening. We have Fred Clarkes here. We have people here who are TRYING to tell their fellow Christians that we’re not all like that.

    Our fellow Christians don’t listen to us. We try to tell the media, but someone here said “I bet if a whole denomination denounced Pat Robertson…” as if there AREN’T whole denominations doing it.

    As a Christian, I want to know what I’m expected to do. Because as a gay man, I think it’d be really helpful! I volunteer, I donate, and I don’t hide I’m Christian when I do it. I try to tell my fellow Christians that we don’t need to be like that.

    But none of them ever LISTEN to me. I work my ass off trying to get them to listen to me! I want them to listen to me! Someone please listen to me! I’m trying, I really am, but all these people who tell me we need to be doing something else, please. Tell me what solution you have.

  • Steele

    Honestly, I want to know… As a gay man, if there’s anything I could be doing to help myself, and people like me, I want to do it. But no-one’s given me any suggestions we haven’t tried already. And we keep getting told we’re not doing it.

  • LL

    When a prominent TV show, radio show, publication, website has Pat Robertson (for example) on to give the “Christian” point of view, get a bunch of people to bombard that organization with complaints about putting Robertson on. Demand that they stop giving the most hateful examples of Christianity face time and attention. In the age of the internet and smart phones, it doesn’t seem like it would be terribly hard to get something like this going. 

    Leverage the supposedly vast majority of liberal, elitist, atheist-leaning news weasels and tell them that they’re enabling the hateful assholes by giving them the opportunity to spread their hatefulness. 

  • Storiteller

    I’ve signed a number of petitions for cable news networks not to go to those folks for commentary through Faithful America. So far, I’ve seen no response.

  • LL

    Sorry. It’s possible that they actually don’t read online petitions, because there are so many of those things flying around the intertubes now, they can’t read them all or have time to judge which ones are legit and which ones come from a tiny group of cranky weirdos like those idiots at the “Parents Television Council.” 

    They might be more apt to pay attention to large numbers of emails/phone calls from individual viewers. It demonstrates that the viewer cares enough about something to: a) look up the email address/phone number and b) write an individually worded, personal message, as opposed to just clicking “send” on a canned response. 

    And, unfortunately, it’s not like there are a tremendous number of TV news organizations (or print ones) to contact. Most are owned by a handful of large entities. Viacom owns CBS, Disney owns ABC, GE owns NBCUniversal, Fox owns Fox News, etc. 

    So you wouldn’t have to send emails to 100 different entities. I’m guessing all of them have a contact page, where you can easily send an email to them. And I believe individual TV shows (like the Anderson Cooper one, Good Morning America, etc.) have their own pages and contact info. 

    Just a suggestion. Online petitions are generally not terribly effective. You hear about the ones that get attention because they are the exception, not the rule. 

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

     I think a lot individual emails get filtered out too because that’s actually how most online petitions work.  You’re not necessarily sending a petition – you’re sending a letter to an email.  Looking at the past emails, that’s exactly how the ones that Faithful American sends works – it’s sending an email with your name, address, etc., not just signing a petition.  I regard them the same way because they tend to be treated the same way.

    I think a lot of the misconceptions come because a lot of the work the Christian left does isn’t through a religious filter.  I bet at least some of the contributions to marriage equality groups are liberal Christians, and a lot of the non-financial advocacy (like social media, and in some ways, voting) is too, but because they do it through secular organizations, it’s not considered “Christian.”  I know if I’m going to give money to marriage equality, it will probably be to the Equal Rights Campaign because I know they’re effective, not through some religious group just because they’re religious.  Whereas conservative Christians usually won’t give money to anything unless it has “Christian” painted all over it. 

    I personally don’t do a lot of activism on marriage equality because I have a lot of issues I care about and a limited amount of time, but we run into some of the same issues with my big area, climate change.  In the U.S., most of the activism is secular because “good Christians believe climate change isn’t real.”  When Christians are involved, they tend to be through secular organizations, like Sierra Club or 350.org.  (There are exceptions, like Interfaith Power and Light.) Internationally – particularly in the U.K. because I know their activist culture the best – there are a number of Christian groups who speak out on climate change, namely Christian Aid and Operation Noah.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I think a lot of the misconceptions come because a lot of the work the Christian left does isn’t through a religious filter.  I bet at least some of the contributions to marriage equality groups are liberal Christians, and a lot of the non-financial advocacy (like social media, and in some ways, voting) is too, but because they do it through secular organizations, it’s not considered “Christian.”

    That’s a good point… I’m guessing a fair number of the people fighting for issues like marriage equality or anti-bullying identify themselves as Christians based just on statistics: Most Americans identify as Christians, so any large secular group is liable to have Christians in it.  They may Christians and their actions may even be based on their Christian beliefs, but they’re not necessarily being seen as “Christians” who are doing something.

    I guess the question is whether these Christians should make more of a public issue of their Christianity and if so, how.

  • LL

    Sure, all good points. 

  • http://www.mymusingcorner.wordpress.com/ Lana

    No, not all Christians are like that, but its enough that most churches in the US I’ve attended have depressed me more than uplifted me. 

  • Carstonio

    Scripture itself may be a large part of the problem. Sam Harris showed himself in The End of Faith to be no less ignorant of Islam than any right-wing culture warrior, quoting passage after passage from the Qu’ran to “prove” that the religion is bloodthirsty. But he was coming to the text with an agenda.

    Someone coming to the Bible cold can’t tell from Leviticus that most Christians don’t see themselves as being bound by those barbaric laws – one finds that out only much later, in the New Testament. And it’s even less obvious to an outsider why Jews don’t execute gays. The difference is that Christianity and Islam are proselytizing religions and Judaism isn’t. I would think that any religion interested in attracting new members would want its most popular book to reflect the religion’s doctrines as accurately as possible. Or at least include a hefty introduction and concordance with these books, instead of leaving new readers adrift like the Gideons do.

    These religions arose well before easy access to books and common literacy – for centuries, most believers probably knew the text only when they heard it quoted or recited during services. It’s been suggested here that scripture isn’t something that a new reader should browse unaided. But in our age, most outsiders’ first exposure to Christianity is going to be either the book itself, or the hatemongers on TV who pass themselves off as religious leaders. If Christianity is far more than the Bible, wouldn’t it make sense to make the rest of the religion as readily available as the scripture itself, rather than risk potential members being misled about the nature of the religion?

  • xytl

    I don’t know much of Harris’s politics, beyond his notorious comments on the ethics of torture, but it’s entirely possible that he _is_ a right wing culture warrior. To be an outspoken campaigner for secularism _is_ to be a culture warrior, after all, and there’s no reason that atheists must necessarily lean left!

  • Carstonio

     My definition of “culture warrior” is limited to folks seeking to perpetuate straight white male Christian privilege in the culture. They’re fighting against demographic and other changes that have been reducing that privilege. I don’t use the term for people who want to do away with the privilege, such as Mikey Weinstein. Saying that privilege opponents are culture warriors is like saying that abolitionists were slavery warriors.

    It would be very reasonable to label an atheist as a rightist if he or she favors privilege for rich white men but leaves out the Christian component. We’ve already seen how some atheists can be sexist assholes just as much as the fundamentalists they condemn, and Harris may very well oppose measures that reduce inequality, such as single-payer health care, access to contraception and regulation of Wall Street. His defense of torture may be simply rightist xenophobia.

  • stardreamer42

    Saying that privilege opponents are culture warriors is like saying that abolitionists were slavery warriors.

    Yes. Furthermore, it’s exactly the same kind of funhouse redefinition that labels anti-religious-discrimination laws as “persecution of Christians”.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    If Christianity is far more than the Bible, wouldn’t it make sense to
    make the rest of the religion as readily available as the scripture
    itself,

    Well. In my pretty ordinary town, within an area of about eight blocks you can find a Presbyterian church, an Episcopal church, a Baptist church, a Roman Catholic church, a Lutheran church, and a Methodist church. Anybody is free to walk into them any Sunday morning and listen and observe. For no charge. Yes, there are more aggressive ways to reach out, but it’s not like we’re copying the ancient mystery religions here – if you’re curious, investigate!

  • Carstonio

    Thanks. My own interest is not in joining any particular religion, but becoming more knowledgeable about the particular religion that is still predominant in US culture.

  • Jenny Islander

    In some ways Christianity resembles Dungeons & Dragons: to really get what it’s about, show up and participate, or at least watch the group do its thing.  Talking about it doesn’t give the whole picture.

    Also keep in mind that Christianity is as various as chili.  Taste frequently and widely.

  • Carstonio

    How much is an anti-theist who falsely assumes that James Dobson is typical of Christianity like a fundamentalist who assumes that D&D and Harry Potter are gateways to Satan-worship?

  • Jenny Islander

    As has been said, there are churches everywhere and their doors are wide open on Sunday (with possible outliers where strangers get the side-eye, although I’ve never seen one).  The religion is freely available.  The prevalence of fundamentalist and Jesus-wants-you-to-get-rich types on TV is a separate issue, having much to do with what sells on TV.  

    For example, an ordinary Lutheran or Episcopalian service is some untrained people singing, reciting or chanting pretty much the same words every week except for the hymns, Psalms and appointed prayers, settling down to hear lay readers (i.e. not polished orators) read Bible passages, listening to a fairly brief and calmly presented sermon with possibly a cute and very brief children’s sermon preceding, breaking off to shake hands indiscriminately in the aisle, then more singing, reciting, and chanting with perhaps a choral solo, and then everybody lines up at the altar rail for a bite and a sup and there are a couple more prayers and perhaps some announcements that are only of interest if you are a regular at that church and another song and everybody files out to the coffee room shaking hands with the pastor/priest along the way.  Decoration and costumes are fairly minimal and uninteresting unless you can get a close-up on the minister’s scapular.Compare this with the productions put on by TV preachers and you begin to see the problem.  Most of us dull mainstream types don’t want to participate in that kind of performance because it gets in the way of what we go to church to experience: something that IME and IMO is much less flashy, but more profound.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    I suppose the question that comes to mind for me on this issue is  If you’re not all like that, how did anti-gay marriage referendums keep getting passed so often (until 2012, at least)?
    Clearly a lot of you are like that.  It sucks to be lumped in with bad guys, but there you are.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It sucks to have to lump people together into one group and condemn the lot, but there you are.

    Except, wait, no one has to do that.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    Way to not address the central point, Sarge.

  • J-

    Well perhaps the comparison of the Internet to a Series of Tubes is incorrect. But more plausibly, it can be seen as an enormous conference center. In the center are a million little break-out rooms with whiteboard walls. And in each little room are 15-20 people. After sufficient accumulated weight of thread-speech, each of these groups of 15-20 people eventually convinces themselves that They Are a Movement.

    There are like 1,800 liberal Christians from Arctic to Antarctic on this planet. And this is like a historical peak (well, down slightly from ~2,000 around 2004 when Jim Wallis was riding high, telling us if we all buckled down, climbed into the laps of conservative Christians and purred REAL hard, that maybe we could keep annual cuts to Food Stamps at 15% instead of 20%).

    Face it liberal Christians: There aren’t many of you. And there never were. And there really never will be. And your religion? Not actually as unstupid as you believe. The engrafting of women’s and gays’ and individuals’ rights onto the person of Jesus is a profound revision of history. The glasses through which you see your own ‘savior’ darkly are the Enlightenment and the Rennaissance (which, yes, I’m sure you tediously would like to lecture me were either horrible or just didn’t happen).

    If you’re a liberal, then you should be worshipping Condorcet and Jefferson, not Moses or Jesus.

     

  • EllieMurasaki

    [citation needed]

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    There are like 1,800 liberal Christians from Arctic to Antarctic on this planet.

    In Australia, there’s this group called Christians for Marriage Equality. There are more than 1,800 Australian Christians who have joined it.

    In other words, your “facts” are not.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Clearly there are a handful of Christians in Australia with hundreds of aliases apiece. Or possibly marriage equality is a conservative issue–look at GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    True, the liberal hippy Jesus is a revision, but so is the conservative one. The Ebionites were, probably, the closest to Jesus’ actual message. Pity they don’t exist anymore!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    J does sort of have a point. There’s been a spate of historical revisionism suggesting that the “Dark Ages” from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance in circa 1500 AD was Somehow Not Really That Bad.

    However I’m sure there are more than ~2000 liberal Christians, and while I’m sure some of them thought appealing to the humanity of Republican politicians (who don’t even match up to slime molds in usefulness*) would stave off worse cuts than the ones they were planning, the majority are probably quite clear in refusing to try and be collaborators in a fundamentally unjust brand of politics.

    * as elucidated on another thread when I compared Republican politicians to slime molds. :P

  • Michael Pullmann

     As I understand it, most of the “historical revisionism” surrounding the so-called Dark Ages points out that, while white, Western Europe may have undergone a regressive period, the Eastern Empire, the Muslim world, and points elsewhere were doing just fine, and were in fact leading the way in social and intellectual advancement.

    And, y’know, there was science going on in Europe during that period, or at least in the Late Medieval Period. Mostly piggybacking off of the above-mentioned achievements, but still, the church was hardly burning anyone and everyone who dared use empirical methods of investigation.

    Speaking from a view of social justice, the period sucked, but so did the Roman Empire, and so did the Enlightenment and the Renaissance.

    But hey, if the Science!-as-Autobots/Religion-as-Decepticons framework works for you, rock on.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking from a view of social justice, the period sucked, but so did
    the Roman Empire, and so did the Enlightenment and the Renaissance.

    Are you denying that the manorial/feudal structures which came into being after the Roman Empire were relatively worse for the poor compared to Roman or Enlightenment Times?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    Yes. The Roman Empire used slavery on a very large scale, and started to evolve to something like manorialism by itself. And “Enlightenment Times” is sort of meaningless category here.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Health outcomes and life expectancy were generally higher in the Roman Empire than in the era that followed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    Maybe in 600-900’ies, though even that is dubious. Certainly not in 1000-1500’ies.

    BTW, according to your classification, Chaucer, Boccaccio and Petrarch are all medieval.

  • EllieMurasaki

    BTW, according to your classification, Chaucer, Boccaccio and Petrarch are all medieval.

    Okay, so not my field, but…aren’t they?

  • Tricksterson

    Depends on if you think there is such a thing as a solid cut off point between eras.  Myself I consider them all to be transitional figures.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And that’ll teach me to run my mouth without checking my facts. I knew Chaucer and Boccaccio were 1300s, didn’t recognize Plutarch, and the phrasing implied they were all three contemporaries.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    Petrarch, not Plutarch.

    Indeed, they’re medieval. So, the Medieval Ages were not the horrible period of misery and uncultured filth as some people inply.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …I need sleep.

    Still 1300s, though, so I reiterate: isn’t that medieval?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

     Indeed, they’re medieval. So, the Medieval Ages were not the horrible
    period of misery and uncultured filth as some people imply.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which, one, doesn’t have anything to do with what Neutrino was talking about at all, and two, those authors predate Gutenberg and mass literacy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    What does the printing press have to do with anything? The classical Roman Empire didn’t have neither the printing press, nor mass literacy, but that doesn’t stop the “1000-year dark ages post the fall of WRE ’till the Renaissance” conceptions.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So Chaucer and them wrote for public performance? News to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    Well, they certainly wrote them for the reading public of their times. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    We teach Shakespeare as English literature, but it’s really not. It’s English drama. Consuming Shakespeare the way Shakespeare meant it to be consumed is an audiovisual experience. Whether you can partake of that experience depends entirely on whether you can afford a ticket. The cheap seats in Shakespeare’s day were a penny, which was about a day’s pay for the average worker; it was difficult for the average worker to come by that much money when there were no financial needs more pressing than a few hours’ entertainment, but it wasn’t flat-out impossible. And whether you can read only matters to your consumption of Shakespeare if you’re watching a movie version with subtitles on.

    Chaucer actually is English lit. Consuming Chaucer the way Chaucer meant it to be consumed means sitting down with a stack of papers with words on. If you can’t read and you don’t know anyone who’s willing and able to read to you, then Chaucer is inaccessible to you.

    Your point about medieval culture seems to have considerable commonality with a point I keep seeing about the current US economy. It’s good for the rich, therefore it’s good for everyone. The first half of that statement is factual, but it’s not the only fact in play, and treating it as though it is the only fact in play results in the second half of the statement being woefully wrong.

  • xytl

    I’m not sure where you’re getting a penny a day from here. Figures vary greatly, but according to this chart a fairly skilled labourer around the year 1600 would make a bit under six shillings a week, which translates to something less than a shilling a day. 

    http://mbostock.github.com/protovis/ex/wheat.html

    So a bit less then a shilling means Shakespeare’s penny would have been, what… a tenth of a day’s pay? That sounds reasonable, given modern prices for similar services. This wasn’t exclusively for the rich elite, Shakespeare was cheap, popular entertainment for the London crowd. As a standard of comparison we have the replica of Shakespeare’s Globe on the South Bank, which charges £5 for a standing ticket, in an economy where minimum wage is about £40 a day. Cinemas are significantly more expensive, and the other theatres in town are more expensive still.

    Oh, and while we’re discussing prices in Shakespeare’s London, we should also note that sack, two gallons, would cost you five and eightpence. Not that anybody would ever drink that much.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Same place I got that a penny was the price of a nosebleed seat at the Globe: http://www.shakespeare-online.com/essays/shakespeareaudience.html

  • xytl

    I spent some time this morning looking into the question of ordinary workers’ wages in Shakespeare’s day, and it turns out that the City of London, by way of the livery companies, enforced wage controls at the time. This version comes from 1588.

    http://www.elizabethan.org/compendium/86.html

    Pay for a hired servant, rather than for a skilled tradesman, runs as low as fourpence a day (assuming that the rate for a servant of the Company of Watermen is a mistake – that can’t be a yearly rate!) So if fourpence is the low end of the London pay scale at the time, then comparing to today’s £40 minimum wage we make a groundling’s ticket at the Globe cost £10.

    The same at today’s Globe costs £5; a ticket to see _Les Miserables_ (on film) at a suburban Odeon costs £5.50 on ‘Bargain Tuesday’ or £9.80 at other times; a ticket to see _Les Miserables_ (on stage) at the Queen’s Theatre may cost anything from £10.50 for a restricted view way up in the Upper Circle, to £95 for the best seats in the stalls. So Shakespeare was charging much the same as the cinemas do.

    I tried to find the original source for that wage list, and it appears to be from the records of the Court of Common Council, as reproduced in a book called _Tudor Royal Proclamations_, vol. III, no. 702 – according to this reference, anyway:

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qGzoae4J55sC&pg=PA229

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which only reinforces my point that Shakespeare has always been culture that is accessible even to someone poor as fuck, while Chaucer, if you can’t read and you don’t know someone who’ll read to you, is not accessible to you at all.

  • xytl

    Oh, certainly. Shakespeare is widely thought of as incomprehensible highbrow culture for an elite group to appreciate, which is of course how his work has been treated for generations – but it’s nothing of the sort. Certainly he wanted to appeal to patronage from the London elite if he could, but he knew what mattered in that line of business. The common crowd, in their inexhaustible thousands! They’re the audience the plays were really for.

    But I’m not entirely convinced that Chaucer was quite such an inaccessible artist. Consider his framing device: stories told by travellers who meet in the pub. I’d guess that’s probably the setting in which most people heard his work. Some village bard with a fifth-hand copy of the Miller’s Tale, entertaining the party with a filthy story to earn a few pence and his drinks for the night.

  • xytl

    True in the West, I think, but Judaea was Byzantine territory, still part of the Empire long after Rome had fallen to the barbarians. Then after that, the Caliphate. It’s not a history I’m familiar with, but I don’t think Judaea experienced anything like the sort of collapse seen in remote Western provinces like Britannia. Not until the Mongols and the Crusaders came visiting, anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

     If anything, Britannia is the exception. Most of Gaul and Hispania, while damaged by the civil wars and the wars between new “Barbarian” states, didn’t exactly reach collapse levels, either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    Yeah, the whole “OMGDARKAGESTILL1500” spiel is ridiculous, thanks for mentioning it. 

  • j_anson

    Interestingly, my friend the (Jewish) medieval historian has told me that, objectively, the “Dark Ages” weren’t in fact as uniquely dark as they’ve been portrayed. Like, I think this is actually a subject of genuine scholarly revision of thinking, not just “revisionism”. Not to say bad stuff didn’t happen in that period; but then, bad stuff seems to happen in a lot of periods. (But maybe you’re referring to some other, more specific arguments that I’m not familiar with?)

    And now, I have exhausted the store of knowledge gained from “stuff my friend the professor said.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    It’s not “historical revisionism”. Proclaiming that the “Dark Ages” lasted ’till 16th century, however, is not just “revisionism”, it’s completely ridiculous.

    And if you think that most of the imperialist warmonger Democrat politicians (like Droneattack Obomba) are somehow more humane, then I’d suggest to take off the pink glasses.

  • Steele

    About 2,000?

    Where are you getting that number? That’s a very specific number. It has to come from somewhere.

  • MaryKaye

    There was an article linked from Slacktivist a week or so ago about a church that put a rainbow symbol on their church sign, and how significant that small act was to gay Christians in their community.  So there is a tangible thing that Christian readers could consider encouraging their churches to do.

    Here in Seattle some churches hung big banners advocating or celebrating marriage equality.  There’s another. 

    I think it’s more significant when an institution does this than when an individual does it (though don’t let that stop anyone from wearing rainbow pins or buttons)–institutions have a lot of power and believing they’re all on the other side is really discouraging.

  • Worthless Beast

    After reading through the comments… some thoughts: 

    I actually think Savage is wrong when he talks about the right wingers having “hijacked Christianity.”  I’m no “J” here… I’m actually still quasi-Christian, a somewhat agnostic believer who is ashamed, depending upon my mood, of alternately still believing and believing too little.  My current religion is Confusion, I think.  Still, my thoughts as someone who used to be in the conservative camp is that… THEY are the ones who actaully have tradition on their side. I’m not talking about the love of/basic message of Jesus, I’m talking about the centuries of church-dom that pegged “This and that are sin.”   Christianity, like any religion, philosophy, fandom, government or other institution, is made up of people.  As LL pointed out, most people are assholes.  And, if not assholes, I’m sure most people are just cowards.  I think the liberal Christian movement *is* the hijacking, but it’s more like “We want to take this plane to Disneyworld and give everyone free admission!”  than doing the usual things hijackers do.  

    The problem is, this is just such a crazy idea in the face of long tradition that the movement stuff is in its infancy and is only starting to gain power.  Also, again, most people are cowards:  I remember someone in the patriarchy topic talking about how in group-dynamics, if the boss has a stupid idea, people are more likely to shut up and go along with it than challenge it and risk being the nail sticking up, even if the majority of the group knows the idea is bad. We’re kind of wired to “go with the herd” and “follow the leader.”  In other words, this isn’t just people fighting against centuries of tradtion, it’s people being called upon to fight the entire history of hominid evolution. 

    People in the persecuted position, also, my even have their own psychology to fight – that is, I’m pretty well certain that if you’re a person who’s been abused and degraded your entire life by people belonging to a certain demographic, that something in the brain will just write off the whole demographic as monsters and have done with it.  It is understandable.  If you had a life filled with encounters with rabid dogs, the differences between a toy poodle and a bull mastiff probably don’t make much of a difference to you.  Even when you meet people who defy the sterotypes and even people of the demographic who share your demographic, and intellectually know the differences between them and rabid dogs, something in your brain goes “Bzzzzt!” and subconciously, you’re still on monster-alert and cannot entirely trust anyone who shares a single thing save human DNA and a planet with them.

    You can be the nicest drunk person in the world, but my life among alcholics guarantees my visceral fear of you.

    And if anyone asks me what I’m doing to better the world here?  I’ll tell you: Jack Squat. I’m not a part of a church currently, I haven’t been in a while.  I’m something of a hermit.  My experiences with people tells me that we’re all assholes in one way or another, so I’d rather deal with flesh and blood humans as little as possible.  I communicate better in writing and feel the distence and “safety” inherent in being behind a screen enough to post speil like this online, but… that’s really basically it. I don’t really have the self-confidence to try to change the world.  Complaining on the Internet is a poor substitute, but it’s all I’ve got.  I suck too hard for anything else.

  • AnonymousSam

    The statistics for the prevalence of atheism very wildly, with wikipedia citing everything from 1% to 20%, but even 1% of the population of the United States would be over three million people.

    Also, if the number of liberal Christians is such a tiny, tiny number, and with Christians making up ~78.6% of the U.S. population, I’m curious how these gay marriage bills got approved last month. There would be, what, 500 people voting in favor of them? Less? Were the polls on Sunday when all the orthodox Christians were busy? (Take that, Herman Cain, you asshat.)

  • Mira

     This is true. I try to support things like marriage equality, actual science, and anti-poverty efforts, but I almost never do it through *Christian* organizations because the largest or most effective organizations for each of those causes tend to be secular. Similarly, I try to argue for my voting choices in moral terms that are accessible to all my fellow citizens, because I think that’s how discourse in civil society should be, and I don’t think “this is the proper Christian moral position” is a valid argument within a secular public sphere.  That’s why I don’t make a big effort to drown out Christians who disagree with me – I hate that they’re trying to make Christianity and the legal system aligned even MORE than I hate the image they’re giving Christianity. It is religiously and politically offensive to me. But I think I have to talk about those things separately, not together, not in the same contexts, or I’d be violating my own principle of respect for a pluralistic civil society. 

    That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not there at marriage equality rallies, or signing petitions against teaching creationism, or donating money to food banks, it just means I’m not doing it with a “JESUS!” sign. I’m more concerned with supporting secular equality than with making sure Christianity has a good image, so I’m not trying to say “stop saying liberal Christians don’t do anything!”, just that sometimes there are reasons you don’t “see” us even if we’re there.

  • Keromaru5

    That’s kind of how it is for me. I strongly dislike Christianity being used for right-wing politics, and I don’t believe the answer is for it to become just as entwined with left-wing Christianity. Christ is neither right nor left–he transcends both.

  • Keromaru5

    Er, entwined with left-wing politics, that is.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Out of curiosity, can you name a single right-wing position you think Jesus would support and explain why you think he would support it?

  • Keromaru5

    I’m pretty sure he’d be iffy on promiscuity, based on the Sermon on the Mount and his stance on divorce.  We tend to focus on his stance on wealth these days, but the overall gist of Christ’s message is to avoid whatever distracts you from the pursuit of God.  Bodily pleasure can do that just as well as wealth and hatred can.

    My point is, I see a risk in blending Christianity so closely with modern Western leftism that either it becomes its own orthodoxy where you’re in or out based on one or two issues that have nothing to do with faith in Christ, just like conservative Christianity, or it becomes basic liberal ideology with a cross on it.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’m pretty sure he’d be iffy on promiscuity, based on the Sermon on the Mount and his stance on divorce.

    How the hell is promiscuity a right wing issue? Or a left wing one, for that matter. I think you’re misusing your terms.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    The man would, likely, find both right- and “left-” wing politics to be completely alien. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    How so? Why would Jesus oppose programs to ensure that all the hungry are fed, all the homeless are housed, all the sick are cared for?

    How to pronounce your handle, please? I’m afraid I can’t parse Cyrillic characters.

    And why the sneer quotes on ‘left’?

  • xytl

    If Jesus were asked which we should do – either spend a great deal of money on feeding the hungry , housing the homeless, and caring for the sick, or else instead spend the lot on a massive jar of amazingly expensive perfume to use in an extravagant demonstration of how devoted we are to Jesus – what answer would he give?

    That’s the thing with Jesus. Whatever you want to do, you can probably find an example of his to justify it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The way you say that implies that the correct answer is not the obvious one (where by ‘obvious’ I mean ‘in keeping with everything else he had to say about the poor and about public displays of piety’), so I’ma ask for a citation.

  • xytl

    Matt 26:6-13. I’m sure there are apologetics explaining how this was really perfectly in keeping with the man’s previous teachings – in fact I think we had some discussion of the matter on this very blog a while back. Judas apparently thought this was a terrible thing, since he immediately went away to do a deal with the priests. My own opinion is that at this point Jesus had started believing his own publicity.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, that story. I’d forgotten.

    First few verses of the chapter indicate that they’re in the run-up to the crucifixion and he knew it, before the perfume incident, so I wonder how he would have reacted to the same incident if he wasn’t treating it as funeral preparations.

  • xytl

    Who knows, indeed. But even so: Jesus’s burial anointment could have fed many poor and hungry, and (to within the limitations of Roman-era medicine) cared for many sick.

    I’ve heard people say the idea was that it was about not condemning a good deed on the grounds that, in hindsight, it might have been made better still. That’s a good lesson, and it could have been the lesson here, but it doesn’t seem to me to be what Jesus is saying. He’s saying that his anointment and glorification in this act _really are_ more important than the charity that might otherwise have been done. “There’ll always be poor people, but you won’t always have me, so right now it’s all about me” – that’s what I read here.

    People change, I suppose, especially when they’re told by crowds day and night that they’re the Messiah. I can see why Judas was so disappointed in him. It must have been devastating.

  • EllieMurasaki

    “There’ll always be poor people, but you won’t always have me, so right now it’s all about me”

    Like I said, funeral preparations, and I wanna know what would have changed if the timing were such that that wasn’t how he took it. Though if you’re right that this was the incident that got him killed…

    I have two stories with deadlines in the next ten days I am not writing this.

  • xytl

    This event is actually one of the things that makes me believe there’s a real man behind the myth, which makes it so much more interesting. Jesus, the man who preached humility, who told people to sell all they owned and give it to the poor – now counts his own anointment at extraordinary expense as more important.

    That’s not something you expect of a perfect figure drawn up by an author of fiction. But it is something you expect of a man who really lived. What must it have been like to _be_ Jesus, I wonder? To have so many people follow you, believe you, hang their hopes on you to the extent of abandoning all their possessions and going with you? To have them call you Messiah, to have them call you Lord God? This, every day, all the time, so much so that sometimes we hear of Jesus sneaking away from the crowds deliberately just for some quiet time?

    If it was me? It would change me all right. How could you not come to believe it yourself? If you’re God, then yes: you really ARE more important than those people out there. If you’re God, then you have every right to assault the merchants in the Temple. If you’re God, you need not put any defence in court; you can summon a legion of angels whenever you like. And in the end you try doing just that… ‘Why have you forsaken me?’

    Seems to me there’s room here for a Life of Brian played straight. A good man changed by his own success, ending in tragedy.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Puts a whole new light on Judas the Great Betrayer, too. He did the right thing. Not the getting-Jesus-killed part, obviously, but the part where he was moving to limit the damage that the new improved Jesus could do to the cause of making it less difficult to be poor. Though considering Jesus’s notoriety at that point, it’s entirely possible there wasn’t any way to lock him up till he came to his senses.
    And the people who revile Judas for this are, I have a suspicion, mostly the same as the people who prosperity-gospel and who think the Church’s reputation is more important than the health and safety of past, present, and future victims of child-raping priests.

  • Mira

    That interpretation of Judas is brought to music in Jesus Christ Superstar!

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ooh, really? I’ll have to bump that up the watch list.

  • Tricksterson

    FWIW let me add my reccomendation to Miras.  YMMV but I prefer it both thematically and musically to the other great Jesus musical of the time,  Godspell

  • xytl

    That so? There’s a production on at the O2, I think – Tim Minchin as Judas. Might see if I can get tickets. That sounds interesting.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     Although there’s quite a bit of debate about what exactly Jesus actually believed or taught.  It’s not clear that he actually thought he was God (especially since the whole Jesus-is-God thing is really only big in John, which is the latest of the four Gospels), whether he thought he was the Messiah, or whether, if he did think he was the Messiah, if he taught that publicly or only to his disciples.  Nor is clear whether he really knew that he was going to die soon or not (although it’s pointed out that Jesus was rabble-rousing in Jerusalem at the time of year when the Romans most cracked down on rabble-rousing in Jerusalem — you wouldn’t have to be the son of God to realize that your days might be numbered).

    Clearly the early Church believed these things, but about Jesus we don’t know (and realistically probably never will).

    Not that I know what to make of the whole anointing thing — if indeed that was actually something that happened and not a legend that began after his death.   (I don’t recall how well attested that incident is.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Nikolai Krutikov.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    Jesus, most likely, thought that the Apocalypse was coming soon. No need for social programs if God himself will soon come and sort it out.

    I guess if you revive him and tell him everything that’s going on now, he’d approve of these programs, but he’ll warm you that they are nothing without devotion to God.

    Sneer quotes as to differentiate the social-democratic left from the revolutionary left. Revolutionary Left – The Only Proper Left ™.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I really don’t care about the motivation behind making sure the hungry are fed, the homeless housed, and the sick cared for, provided that that is in fact the primary goal and not a way in which to make oneself think well of oneself or look good to others. And Jesus had a few things to say about people who do things in order to look good to others.

    Sneer quotes as to differentiate the social-democratic left from the revolutionary left. Revolutionary Left – The Only Proper Left ™.
    Come again?

  • Carstonio

    Growing up, I was taught that it’s rude to ask about other people’s stances on religion, because that’s none of my business. So among the people I know, I could probably name the stances of only a dozen or so – either they’ve mentioned it or they’ve worn or displayed religious symbols.

    Several times I’ve met someone and then found out some time later that he or she was Jewish. It’s not necessarily that I assume people to be Christian unless stated otherwise. It’s more that I don’t perceive people as religious unless I can see or hear them being religious.

    That has also happened three or four times with acquaintances who I later learned were gay. It’s almost like I would have to be introduced to their same-sex spouses for them to seem gay to me, otherwise it’s just an abstraction. The same goes for straight people but in a different way – I don’t think of them has having relationships unless they mention lovers or spouses.

    So yes, unless people engaged in charitable or political activities of any type fly their sectarian flags, I usually don’t think of their involvement in religious terms, and I suspect this may be true for many others.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Willikers, who would’ve ever guessed that a thread about liberal Christianity would turn into yet another thread about how Richard Dawkins is the worst human being on Earth?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    A priest friend of mine based a homily on reading extracts from the play “The Laramie Project” (about the murder of Matthew Shepard). On Good Friday, the most solemn day in the liturgical calendar. It was very powerful, and left the congregation with no doubt about what worshipping a crucified Christ means. People who were there told their friends and families about it, but it didn’t get wider attention.

    Another priest friend gathered members of his community to go together to the local mosque the morning after a late night story broke about anti-Islamic pamphlets being distributed in the area as a political tactic. My friend and his companions asked the Muslims members of the community for forgiveness on behalf of the self-identifying Christians who abused them, and publicly denounced the local politician involved. The anti-Islamic pamphlets were huge national news. No one covered the response of the church community.

    This is by no means a complaint about especially poor treatment given to non-arsehole Christians (I won’t say “liberal Christians” because I think that’s a misleading term). Recently a small number of Muslims protested angrily in Sydney about the Californian dickhead’s YouTube movie; an even smaller number were violent. The media had a field day but weren’t interested in the many Muslim individuals and official groups speaking loudly against violence within their community.

    For God’s sake, it’s not even about religion. One elderly person is robbed by a teenager and it’s front page news, but teenagers regularly giving up their weekends to play Scrabble at the old folks home or give food to homeless people doesn’t get noticed even within the local area.

    Of course negativity gets disproportionate coverage. Of course it does. And if you’re looking for examples of people acting like arseholes, of course you’ll find them. But I have to wonder–how useful is it to keep looking for things that are shit? I think we’ve all got the message that there’s a hell of a lot of hypocrisy out there. Will dredging up more help anyone?

  • rupaul

    There is the Carolingian Renaissance, too (not sure of the dates, but early
    medieval.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I remember it being pointed out in my English class that the kinds of references in Shakespeare aren’t all high-flown: many are designed to be understood by the masses. A classic example is the headmaiden/maiden head punning in Romeo and Juliet.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Teaching Shakespeare has slowly become more progressive at secondary schools.  It wasn’t always this way: I don’t know what the most popular play to teach is today, but it used to be Julius Caesar, since it falls near the bottom of the list as far as sex and humour go.

    FWIW, when I was in high school (mid 90s), we did King Lear and The Tempest, which remain two of my favorites to this day.  And I seem to remember we did a watered-down version of Macbeth in middle school.  Kids love Macbeth, and it’s not hard to see why.

  • guest

    Ha–I’ve always wondered why schools taught Julius Caesar; it’s not that interesting a play (and only becomes interesting if you know the history).  I guess violence is A-OK, even if sex is not.

    When I taught English in central Africa I tried Macbeth out on my students, and they were able to cope–I thought they’d be interested in the witches, since where I was living witchcraft was very much on people’s mind, and the school had in fact just had a serious witchcraft incident.

  • Tricksterson

    magic, murder and political intrigue all have universal appeal, why wouldn’t they like it?

  • guest

    Because it’s so much work to understand word by word, particularly if English is your painfully-acquired second language?  I’ve heard people say Macbeth is probably the best ‘teaching Shakespeare’ because it’s short on complicated subplots.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    By the way, IN, I listened to Brink of Chaos recently.

    And wow. 

    Dude, you gotta check it out.

  • Amaryllis

    Anecdata from conversations with English teachers: the current favorites for high-school Shakespeare reading seem to be MacBeth, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Merchant of Venice.

    For whatever that combination tells us.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah. In my high school, we did Macbeth and Hamlet.

  • Launcifer

    Similar in England, too, or at least it was… ten to thirteen years ago. Then again, I’ve done Hamlet, MacBeth, Twelfth Night, Much Ado about Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, Othello and – well, it should have been Romeo and Juliet, but I point-blank refused and did Titus Andronicus instead.

    No, I have no idea why my educational establishments were so obsessed with Shakespeare either.

  • Kevin Charles

    I use the term Christian to refer to those who are not all like that and the term “Xtian” to represent the others because they take the Christ out of Christian. Just like they take the Christ out of Christmas every year.

  • Mike Jones

    John Shore, co-founder of the newly launched NALT project, (modeled off of Dan’s ideas of NALT individuals) chose to block the last 4 comments that I submitted to his blog site regarding the NALT project and John and Catherine Shore’s video on the project, posted on Sept. 9th, 2013. They had first welcomed me there as someone who would be represented by their project. I posted the comments that were withheld from being posted there, at my blog site post: http://ethnologystudy.blogspot.com/2013/09/comment-to-john-shores-article-on-nalt.html

    I took the time to work through each point that John and Catherine Shore were trying to make in their 12+ minute video on the project. John is a co-founder of the project. John’s blog site where his and Catherine’s video is posted blocked the remaining 4 comments that I posted there. At least various perspectives can be expressed here. You can read my full evaluation of their video here: http://ethnologystudy.blogspot.com/2013/09/reviewing-john-and-catherine-shores.html

  • The_L1985

    Yikes.


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