Smart people saying smart things

Kelly Nikondeha: “Jubilee is everywhere”

We tend to think the good news is salvation, a spiritual rescue that protects us from earthly tribulation or seals us for heaven. But jubilee is a concrete economic practice to release people from the real economic crises of life. We ought to be celebrating the good news that breaks the cycles of our perpetual indebtedness, allowing us to engage in a better kind of life here on earth. I think jubilary economics push us to see salvation as more earth-bound, less ethereal. I find that to be better news.

Daniel Fincke: “Why Atheists Resent Being Told We Are Going to Hell”

Imagine being offered that you can live forever if you go to the mansion of a sadistic torturer. He will provide you with endless amusements and happiness. He will also be endlessly torturing in the basement people who refuse his request. Would you go? Would you do so willingly? Would you go happily? Would you suck up to him and tell him he’s awesome and work yourself up into loving him? Would you make excuses for him and tell yourself he just must have his reasons? Would you get defensive on his behalf? Would you convince yourself he is the epitome of justice itself? Would you blame the people he tortures for using their free will to refuse him when they could have just loved him? To a lot of atheists the fervent desire of Christians and Muslims not only to accept such an invitation to such a mansion but also to believe in such a mansion and to eagerly defend the morality of such an arrangement is twisted.

Mary E. Hunt: “Pope Francis and the American Sisters”

Take, for example, the washing of two women’s feet at the Holy Thursday celebration. Granted, one of them was Muslim, and granted, the current pope may not be one for grand gestures (in which case they all would have been women in retribution), but is the liturgical act of washing two women out of twelve in 2000 years really the sign of the “feministization” of the Roman Catholic Church? Not by my lights.

Rather than washing feet, I suggest looking Catholic women in the eye and saying, “You are my sister, equal in every way to me,” and then changing structures accordingly. To atone for centuries of discrimination against women will take more than four clean female feet. I despair of those who say, “It is a start,” to which I respond, “Obviously, but how pitifully inadequate.”

Rick Pearlstein: “On Our Politics of Fear”

It’s easy to forget, in our oh-so-American narcissism, enveloped in the wall-to-wall coverage that makes our present catastrophe feel like the most important events in the universe, how safe and secure Americans truly are by any rational standard. Terror shatters us here precisely because ours is not a terrifying place compared to so much of the rest of the world. And also not really an objectively terrifying time, compared to other periods in the American past: for instance, Christmastime, 1975, when an explosion equivalent to twenty-five sticks of dynamite exploded in a baggage claim area, leaving severed heads and other body parts scattered among some two dozen corpses; no one ever claimed responsibility; no one ever was caught; but, pretty much, the event was forgotten, life went on and no one anywhere said “everything changed.”

Harold Pollack: “Want to fight terrorism? Learn first aid”

We need to take care of each other. At the highest level of social policy, this web of mutual obligation provides a basic argument for social insurance. At the level of everyday life, these same obligations take more elemental forms. We should immunize ourselves and our kids. We should sign our organ donor cards. We should learn what to do if a sibling falls into a diabetic emergency or if a bicyclist goes down and suffers a head injury.

The American Red Cross offers first aid courses in classrooms and on the Web. It offers pretty impressive smartphone apps, which include instructions and videos on topics from allergies to seizures and stroke. These apps can call 911 while providing useful instruction.

… Roughly four million people take these courses every year. That’s a good start. But it’s not nearly enough in a nation of 313 million people. If you are watching TV footage of Boston’s tragedy and wondering how you could help, here’s one thing to do: Sign up for one of these courses.

 

  • aunursa

    We should sign our organ donor cards.

    After my brother died, he saved the lives of eight total strangers.

  • aunursa

    “Why Atheists Resent Being Told We Are Going to Hell”

    One of the more disgusting statements made by Christian fundamentalists is the that God doesn’t send anyone to hell. Non-Christians choose to go to hell when we reject Him.

  • Baby_Raptor

    But, hey. Free will, right? At least we got to choose! /sarcasm

  • Baby_Raptor

    Another reason why Atheists might get upset over being told they’re going to eternal torture: Its a trigger.

    Some of us grew up in fundie households, or in other ways suffered religious abuse. And hearing someone tell us we’re going to hell is a quick ticket back to those situations.

  • aunursa

    To a lot of atheists the fervent desire of Christians and Muslims not only to
    accept such an invitation to such a mansion but also to believe in such a
    mansion and to eagerly defend the morality of such an arrangement is
    twisted.

    I’m read various articles, chapters, and entire books by Christian apologists attempting to rationalize the morality of an eternal hell. This is the most difficult question for Christians to answer, and sometimes probing the implications is the most effective way for me to explain the irrationality of fundamentist theology.

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

    There were dozens of people who were helped in some fashion by my dad’s donated tissue, including two people who regained their sight thanks to his corneas.

    Unfortunately, due to the location and the inability to accurately predict when he would pass after being taken off of support, they weren’t able to scramble a crew to harvest his organs, otherwise even more people would have benefited.

  • aunursa

    “On Our Politics of Fear”

    It’s perfectly okay to appeal to our deepest fears when we’re trying to pass gun control legislation (i.e. If you don’t support this bill, you are responsible for the dead children!) Just not when it comes to security and border enforcement.

  • Lori

    Do you actually not see the difference between these two things, or are you simply pretending not to see it in order to be provocative and/or display loyalty to your poltical tribe?

  • Eric the Red

    Smarter people saying smarter things:

    Heartiste: “Chicks Dig Jerks: When Quantity Is Its Own Quality Edition”

    There’s really nothing to learn from this story [of four female corrections officers impregnated by one inmate] beyond that which we already know:
    1. Chicks love dominant men.
    2. Women in love with assholes will rationalize anything.
    3. A core concept of game is asserting your dominance over women by displaying higher status and/or undermining a woman’s relative status.
    4. A charming, violent inmate will leave more descendants to suckle on the state teat than a diligent, law-abiding beta male will leave to contribute to the state teat.

  • Eric the Red

    Smarter people saying smarter things:

    Heartiste: “Chicks Dig Jerks: When Quantity Is Its Own Quality Edition”

    There’s really nothing to learn from this story [of four female corrections officers impregnated by one inmate] beyond that which we already know:
    1. Chicks love dominant men.
    2. Women in love with assholes will rationalize anything.
    3. A core concept of game is asserting your dominance over women by displaying higher status and/or undermining a woman’s relative status.
    4. A charming, violent inmate will leave more descendants to suckle on the state teat than a diligent, law-abiding beta male will leave to contribute to the state teat.

  • Carstonio

    “To eagerly defend the morality of such an arrangement” is exactly the issue. The claim that they’re just trying to prevent others from suffering a horrible fate is dripping with ingenuousness. They give every indication that they believe such a fate to be justified. If they want to convince others of their sincerity, they should ask their god to do away with the punishment of eternal suffering after death as grossly unjust.

  • Carstonio

    The folks opposing background checks for gun buyers are the same ones pushing these checks for immigration, as a reaction to the Boston bombing. And they talk about the gun issue as “law-abiding citizens” needing protection from “criminals,” ignoring the huge percentage of shootings in suicides and domestic arguments. As if Adam Lanza was no different from someone using violence to get money. Obviously they see both issues as about people like them versus people not like them.

  • P J Evans

    Have you ever heard people talk about national security and border enforcement? It’s all about appealing to fear: ‘We’ are the good guys, inside the border; outside there are lots of people we’re supposed to fear. Only, in reality, it isn’t that simple.

  • LL

    I was completely unaware of that 1975 bombing (to be fair, I was only 9 years old at the time and not living anywhere near NY) until I read about it a few days ago (linked by another site).

    The sad truth is, there really isn’t any unprecedented attack anywhere, until someone figures out how to unleash nanowhatevers and begins the violence cycle on that particular technology.

    All ways of attacking civilians that exist today have already been done. What happened in Boston isn’t in any way new. Not even in the U.S.

  • aunursa

    Please educate me. What is the difference between appealing to fear to promote gun control legislation and appealing to fear to promote border enforcement and national security measures?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ask the people who appeal to fear of brown people to oppose gun control and who appeal to fear of brown people to lock down the borders.

  • aunursa

    I’ve seen several commments by politicians and media commentators who support gun-control, as well as blog and Facebook posts condemning the senators who voted against background checks over the photos of the 20 children who were killed at Sandy Hook. However sensible background checks are (and there are very good reasons for them), they would not have saved the life of any of those children. The entire appeal is emotional to play on our fears.

  • aunursa

    Absolutely! And it’s wrong for them to play on our fears. It’s only okay to appeal to emotion when it’s about gun control. Or when we oppose immigration enforcement. (Shame on you Evil Republicans for wanting to tear apart families who’ve lived in the U.S. for years! Why do you want to take parents away from their children?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    Nonsense. Appeals to emotion are all equally wrong, because playing on all emotions is entirely equivalent. Motivating someone by an appeal to fear, for example, is just like motivating them by an appeal to compassion. This is obvious on the face of it.

  • Worthless Beast

    As someone who used to believe in a Hell and who knew many good people who did… I feel the need raise a (tiny) defense of them. They aren’t all moral monsters who “agree to go live with a torturer” (though that analogy is a good way to get people to think about their beliefs). Personally, I see it as much more complicated than that.
    First of all, it’s like the Jenga tower talked about in other posts here. Take away one thing for some people and you take away all – take away the bad, take away the good – sacrfice Hell and you sacrifice Heaven. I’m not saying it’s a healthy way to think, just that it is “just how the univere works” for a lot of people. Things get painted in black and white for a lot of minds. Frankly, “everyone dies and goes to oblivion” strikes a lot of people as unfair, too – so unfair that they’d be willing to believe in a Hell if it comes with a Heaven. Even many unblievers would wish there to be a Hell for Hitler (although one atheist I met on a fandom message board said they couldn’t imagine even Hilter tortued for eternity as being fair, which made me think). However, the fact is that most Hell-believers (at least those I’ve known) tend not to think that “good” people, or people they care about really go there… They tend to hope for some kind of chance for them, last glimmer of life repentence and whatnot.
    I read one of the Catholic blogs on Patheos going on about that very thing in regards to the currently dead Boston bomber brother… (I forget the blog, but the guy was upset about people cheering for him going to Hell even though he was a murderer when it’s the better “christian” thing to do to hope that Hell is empty).

    Personally, my mulling over the whole thing has lead me to take on a personal theology whereby I hope (don’t know for sure, but hope) that everyone’s invited to the party at the mansion, that the host really is a nice guy and all those “torture screams” that are rumored to be coming from the basment is just J.C.’s rattly old washing machine struggling with his dirty socks.

  • Lori

    There are a number of things, I’ll stick with the two that I think are most relevant.

    -One fear is a great deal more realistic than the other. We have a pretty serious problem with gun violence and almost no problem with terrorism. There’s a difference between highlighting an actual problem and blowing a problem out of all proportion.

    -The fear being appealed to is not the same. The gun control debate appeals mainly, although sadly not exclusively**, to fear of violent death. The (supposed) border enforcement and national security measures debate appeals mainly to fear of the Other. You can tell because of couple of things. First, how well it works on the folks living in places that are never going to be the target of Muslim terrorists***. Second, the way it focuses on Muslim terrorists and conveniently ignores the Right wing terrorism that’s actually more prevelent in the US.

    *I say supposedly, because I see no evidence that they’re actually concerned about those things and not just using them to achieve other ends.

    **It also appeals to fear of people who are different, especially the mentally ill. That’s a huge problem and I don’t condone that in any way.

    ***Those people do have reason to be concerned about gun violence and about dying as the result of their boss’ willful neglect of workplace safety, but they aren’t all up in arms about that beause Freedom!

  • Worthless Beast

    I have Organ Donor on my driver’s license and it is well-known that it is my wish to be one should I suffer a fatal accident. However, I don’t know if my organs are even viable. I take a medication that might screw them up for that.
    As for CPR… I took courses years ago… vaugely remember it. I remember the ABC proceedure, rescue-breathing. I’ve never been in a situation where it was needed as yet.

  • aunursa

    Organ Donor FAQs
    If I have a previous medical condition, can I still donate?
    Yes! Transplant professionals will evaluate the condition of your organs at the time of your death and determine if your organs are suitable for donation. You should consider yourself a potential organ and tissue donor, indicate your intent to donate on your driver’s license, donor card, or state donor registry, and discuss your decision with family members.

  • aunursa

    Touché.

  • Worthless Beast

    Ah, good. I thought having Lithum in my system might bar the safety of my tissues, but figured they might have a way of flushing it out if need be. Not that I want to die anytime soon (I’m in one of my better moods today). I know my liscene is up for renewall, so I can always ask then, too.

  • aunursa

    and almost no problem with terrorism

    I don’t share that assertion. We have a huge problem with terrorism, but for the most part, attacks are thwarted by the use of intelligence and security measures, many of which are highly controversial.

    One fear is a great deal more realistic than the other. We have a pretty serious problem with gun violence and almost no problem with terrorism. There’s a difference between highlighting an actual problem and blowing a problem out of all proportion.

    But a relevant question is whether the proposed solutions will mitigate the problem of gun violence. Rather than address that valid question, we simply appeal to fears: “If you don’t support this gun-control measure, you don’t care about the victims of gun violence!”

    First, how well it works on the folks living in places that are never going to be the target of Muslim terrorists

    I don’t understand this point. Most folks who live in low-value targets are likely at some point to use airlines to travel, and to visit high-value targets. Most folks who live in low-value targets have relatives and/or friends they care about who live or work in high value targets. Mosts folks, regardless of where they live, are concerned about terrorism that is considered as not just an attack on New York or Boston, but an attack on the entire country.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001098371002 Michael E. Bowen

    Actually Calvinism says you don’t get to choose. Which makes Calvinism all the more twisted and evil, in my humble opinion.

  • Lori

    I don’t share that assertion. We have a huge problem with terrorism, but for the most part, attacks are thwarted by the use of intelligence and security measures, many of which are highly controversial.

    This is the assertion and it’s not backed up by available facts. The vast majority of the plots foiled by the FBI were in some way the product of FBI action. That doesn’t really count as thwarting. It’s cetainly not a reason to use measure which are “highly controversial” (for values of “highly controversally” equal to “both illegal and immoral, but supported by Very Serious People”).

    But a relevant question is whether the proposed solutions will mitigate the problem of gun violence.

    This is also the relevant question about proposed solutions to terrorism. Background checks and limits on magazine size will do more to prevent gun violence than unconstitutional descrimination against brown people and Muslims will do to prevent terrorism.

    Most folks who live in low-value targets have relatives and/or friends they care about who live or work in high value targets. Mosts folks, regardless of where they live, are concerned about terrorism that is considered as not just an attack on New York or Boston, but an attack on the entire country.

    The odds that people living in non-targeted areas are going to be at a targeted place at the moment that an extremely rare event happens are vanishingly small. The idea that that’s the reason they’re all hyped up about a small threat is ridiculous.

    Most folks, regardless of where they live, have people they care about who are at risk of gun violence and workplace death, and yet this is not considered a reason to do anything meaningful aobut gun violence or workplace safety. So yeah, no.

    Funny how we’re all New Yorkers or Bostonians when there’s a terrorist attack, but the other 99+% of the time those cities are filled with Liberal elites who worship the devil and are destroying our way of life and we must take our country back from them. So yeah, no again.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Did you see the quote excerpt posted in a previous thread from a Calvinist? He was justifying the reprobate as being created for the express purpose of proving how awesome God is by temporarily not torturing them for eternity, and how that should be quite satisfactory to any member of the reprobate.

    I have no qualms about saying that Calvinists disgust me.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    At least those of the elect/reprobate camp. There may be other variations of Calvinism which don’t entail theology this poisonous which I’m simply unaware of.

  • Eric the Red
  • stardreamer42

    I agree that we have a huge problem with terrorism, but not with terrorism from outside America. We have an immense, and largely unrecognized, problem with domestic terrorism, most of which comes wrapped in sheets of “religion” and/or “patriotism”.

  • stardreamer42

    “Why Atheists Resent Being Told We’re Going to Hell”

    Related: Kissing Hank’s Ass. Makes much the same point by use of satire.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    When I look at some of the people who believe that any attempt to curb gun violence, by any means, will mean that they lose their second amendment freedoms, followed by all their other constitutional freedoms, I see fear. I see people holding onto their guns like safety blankets. I want to ask, “What are you so afraid of that you need to grip such a weapon so close to your heart to keep it at bay? Is the world really that scary a place to you?”

    I find it a rather strange fear to have. The ability to shoot back will not prevent someone from being shot, if the killer does not fear their own death.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The sad truth is, there really isn’t any unprecedented attack anywhere, until someone figures out how to unleash nanowhatevers and begins the violence cycle on that particular technology.

    Yeah, that could be bad.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Even many unblievers would wish there to be a Hell for Hitler (although one atheist I met on a fandom message board said they couldn’t imagine even Hilter tortued for eternity as being fair, which made me think).

    I remember a book, I cannot recall which one, in which several boys are talking about what kind of tortures they would inflict on Hitler if they caught him. One of the boys, who had been quiet until that point, said what he would do to Hitler if he caught him was to make him into a good man.

    Because then he would have to live as a good man, living with what he has done, for the rest of his natural life.

    All the other tortures seemed merciful next to that.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I just wish that the EMTs I know (these are friends and family, not “A friend of a friend”) would stop telling me that it’s unwritten policy to not try very hard to save the lives of organ donors.

  • Worthlesss Beast

    If there is a “Hell” state when one dies, that’s actually what I imagine it would be in regards to justice… a kind of self-awareness that’s so stark and true that for “those that truly deserve Hell” – no Hell of human imagination could be worse. And it could be something you could come out the other side of. When you think about it, the simple state of empathy can be Heaven… or Hell.
    I like that. I’d like to make Hitler a good man, too. It seems fitting.

  • misanthropy_jones

    as someone who can see clearly thanks to a donated cornea, thank you to your father. his gift truly changed lives for the better.

  • misanthropy_jones

    i work in an e.r. and can tell you with absolute certainty that they are wrong. barring a living will or dnr, we work our asses off for every patient that comes through our doors. in fact, we don’t generally even know if a patient is a donor.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Not surprised an inmate turned out to make a great pick-up-artist. The technique appears to make you into a person exactly like some character in a ‘Faust’ story who sells his soul to Satan for success with women. It might work, but an inescapable part of the process is being transformed into a glib, shallow, sociopathic douchebag.

    Also note the criminal enterprise made a whole lot of cash, which is a lot more useful than NLP parlour tricks in getting people to do your bidding.

  • Wednesday

    At what stage are they saying this happens — on the scene of an accident, in the ER, or after being checked into a hospital?

    Since it’s EMTs saying it, I assume that means it’s on the scene of accidents, so I have to wonder how they know. Do EMTs routinely check wallets and purses for some legitimate that would also give them information about donor status?

  • WalterC

    My concern with background checks is that they’re often not as useful as people make them out to be.

    I know from my own work that, while a lot of corporate recruiters assume that background checks will screen out applicants likely to commit fraud, the reality is that the majority of people who are charged with fraud are on their first offense — a background check wouldn’t have caught them. (I think the rate of repeat offenders in cases like that are in the single digits, which means that even if the check process is itself infallible — which is rarely is — the chances of it helping you predict future crime is negligible at best, even though it’s costing you hundreds or thousands of dollars per applicant. I’m not sure about the stats on mass shooters but it doesn’t sound as if guys like Lanza or Holmes had past viewable criminal records. Would a conscientious gun seller have seen red flags when these guys walked into the store? Background checks may work in general but I’m not sure that they’ll deter mass shooters. I think background checks would be more useful if they were targeted against general crime levels, such as keeping guns out of the hands of people who are ineligible to have them, but I don’t see a meaningful impact on the mass shooters.

    You also have to deal with the fact (tying mostly to the immigration checks) that record-keeping isn’t necessarily very good. States here in the US often have a pretty hard time with secure records keeping.

    A lot of them are stored exclusively on paper, which can be destroyed by anything -from a leaky roof to a hurricane; months after Katrina, the New Orleans’ court system was still reeling from thousands upon thousands of records relating to criminal cases that were wiped out by the flood. Medical records for patients were also lost as a result of a failure to digitize them. It’s highly likely that many countries, especially in poorer regions, have many of the same issues. If you run a background check on an immigrant, even if such a thing would have yielded useful information, how do you know that the immigrant’s home country maintains accurate records (or keeps records at all)? When you hear back that the immigrant is “clean”, you can’t be sure if that means that he or she has no criminal background or it means that there is a record but it was destroyed in a monsoon in 2005. Because of this, you also run the risk of immigrants from poorer or developing countries having an additional disadvantage (through no fault of their own) because their “clean” results are less likely to be trusted than, say, one from Australia.

    Background checks may be useful in both arenas but they’re not magic bullets and they’ll have to be a multifaceted approach.

  • Abby Normal

    My mom was an EMT for several years, and I’ve worked with both EMTs and in ERs. No one checks organ donor status either before or during a trauma call. What Ross’ relatives have been saying is basically bullshit.

  • Abby Normal

    There is no magic bullet, but it’s a good sight better than doing nothing.

    I find it ironic that a bottle of penicillin has considerably less lethal capacity than a gun, yet I had to undergo both a background check AND 8 years of postgraduate training in order to dispense it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Is it odd of me that reading his comment, my take away is “That sounds like an argument to castrate all the douchebag ‘alpha’ men.”

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Something else you can do is tell your family that any organs that can’t be donated to a living patient can be used for medical science. That way your remains could still be used to save and improve people’s lives, just in a less direct fashion.

  • Carstonio

    Whether or not your characterization is correct, you’re ignoring the much more repulsive appeals to racial paranoia that that the NRA and ALEC have made for decades. Those group have perfected the Southern Strategy. Any comparison between this and any emotional content of the gun control appeals wrongly gives credence to the lie that the real goal is taking away everyone’s guns.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Paul pisses me off for many reasons, Stopped Clock.

  • aunursa

    My experience in my brother’s case is that the medical team that seeks to save the patient’s life is separate from the team that handles organ donations.


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