Bryan Fischer is very brave when confronting imaginary monsters

Like many small children, when I was a little kid I was worried that there might be … something in my bedroom closet — something that lurked there, hidden, waiting until after dark to creep out and do me harm.

My dad was pretty terrific about that. I don’t remember many things from when I was that young, but I remember when he came in with a flashlight and we searched all through the closet to see that nothing was there.

And all the while he was telling me about when he was a little kid and he was worried that there was a monster in the crawlspace under their house until his dad took him under there with a flashlight. So I wound up not scared of either the imaginary monster in the closet or of the fear that I was weird for being afraid of the imaginary monster in the closet.

That’s what being a good dad looks like.

Religious right spokesman Bryan Fischer offers an alternative response to childhood fears:

YouTube Preview Image

“I would ask them if they’d experienced any demonic presences in their room,” Fischer says. And then, when the children respond to this encouragement by saying yes, yes they have “experienced demonic presences in their room,” Fischer touts this as evidence of his finely honed spiritual discernment.

“Once we dealt with the demonic spirits, and took authority over them,” Fischer says, “then that problem was resolved and it went away.”

That’s just terrible parenting. It reminds me of this bit of advice from Mister Rogers:

Some families give their children a spray bottles with water as “monster spray,” or put a sign on the door “No monsters allowed.”  That may seem to work in the short term because children are so trusting of us adults and so willing to believe the fantasy — but what it could say to them is that their parents, too, think that monsters are real, and that the monsters might actually be there.  In the long term, we want them to know that monsters aren’t real and they really are not there.

That describes exactly what Fischer is doing with/to these children. He’s giving them imaginary “monster spray” that doesn’t really do anything except confirm in their minds that “monsters are real, and that the monsters might actually be there.”

Fischer doesn’t mind that he’s teaching children that monsters are real because he believes that monsters are real himself. Gay monsters. Feminist monsters. Baby-killing monsters. Muslim, atheist and liberal monsters.

And also actual monster monsters. Like from scary movies. Exactly like from scary movies because that is where Fischer’s ideas about such monsters comes from, even though he’s convinced himself that he got his ideas about them from the Bible.

Witchfinder General Bryan Fischer really believes in the witches he is hunting:

There are covens. These are clusters of witches that meet. They’ll start meeting at midnight, they’ll break up a 2:00, 3:00 in the morning, and they will send demonic spirits out on assignments against their chosen targets. One night, 2:00 in the morning, I’m awakened by something grabbing my ankle. … Something grabbed my ankle and was trying to pull me out of the bed.

Fortunately, Fischer says, he knew the counter-spell. He said “Jesus” and “it went away.”

This calls to mind something else Fred Rogers said about the fears of small children:

Fears might also grow out of children’s struggles with their own angry feelings at their parents for making rules and setting limits, paying more attention to a new baby than to them, or for not giving them something they really want. Children can be afraid of getting too angry at their parents because they wonder if maybe their anger could result in losing their parent’s love, and that would be devastating. They sometimes project those angry feelings onto some outside thing — a dog, a tiger, a vacuum cleaner or a toilet drain — and then they fear that the very angry thing may just destroy them.

I think what Mister Rogers says there explains a great deal about Bryan Fischer and his followers.

But on the other hand, it’s possible I’m getting things backwards. It may be that Bryan Fischer isn’t frightening small children by helping to convince them that monsters are real. It may be that the child in his story was frightening Bryan Fischer by helping to convince him of that.

“What brought me into the conversation,” with the children he talks about, Fischer says, is that these kids “were very disobedient, very rebellious to their parents.”

Consider for a moment the kind of church and the kind of family in which it makes sense to the parents to invite someone like Bryan Fischer into their home to speak to their children about proper discipline. The threshold for what such parents regard as “very disobedient, very rebellious” is probably not very high.

So these kids are in trouble with mom and dad — big trouble, so big that their parents have called in the Witchfinder General to talk to them. But with his very first question, he provides them with an escape hatch: “I would ask them if they’d experienced any demonic presences in their room.” There’s no need to take the blame themselves — Fischer is practically pleading with them to pull a Flip Wilson and say the devil made them do it.

So they tell Fischer what he wants to hear:

These demonic presences would tell them, “Look, if you don’t disobey your parents, I’m gonna hurt them. If you don’t disobey your parents, I’m gonna kill them.” And so the girl was frightened then, out of her love for her parents, wanted to protect them, frightened into disobeying them.

And he swallowed it. No getting grounded or spanked or forced to copy pages out of 2 Chronicles longhand or whatever else passes for punishment in such households. All the kid has to do is nod earnestly as Fischer prays for her, then he goes off to tell their parents that the kid was just acting out of love for them because they’d been threatened by the scary monster under her bed.

If that’s what happened here, then I’m impressed with this kid. And I hope that is what happened, because the other possibility is too depressing to contemplate.

Either way, though, thanks to Bryan Fischer’s hard work it’s 10-to-1 odds that this kid will be an atheist by age 19.

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  • Omnicrom

    This seems to be a common evangelical depressingly enough. They’re always on guard for imaginary monsters: The demons in the closet or the gays who want to take over their churches and have orgy weddings or the feminists who want to castrate all men and kill all babies or the creeping horde of brown skinned foreigners trying to establish Sharia law.

    Bryan Fischer is telling the news to those people who stand their ground against imaginary monsters. But there are REAL monsters in the world: Serious income inequality, environmental degradation, the erosion of privacy, sexism, racism, xenophobia, a broken Justice system, and a whole host of other problems that are actively making life worse across America and the world. That’s what’s absolutely most sad and even disgusting about all those people out there fighting against those imaginary monsters: When they get in the voting booth they throw their vote to let the real monsters keep on ravaging the world and then feel smug because their vote holds the line against the monsters in their own little world.

  • themunck

    But it’s so much more heroic to be a good christian by banishing demons and fighting witches then by being kind or giving to the poor! Not to mention far more easy, as well.

  • Vermic

    Who has time to waste helping the poor when there are LITERAL DEMONS to banish? As long as there’s even one left, they clearly take top priority! We can start focusing on basic human kindness once all the demons and Satanists are defeated. (also we mysteriously never run out of demons and satanists, go figure)

  • MaryKaye

    I think you can quite legitimately need more drama in your life than being kind or giving to the poor. But it’s still no excuse. You could take a job in Search and Rescue. You could join one of Occupy’s projects where they invest a house that’s going to be foreclosed and try to make it impossible. There are ways to get drama in your life if you need it AND be doing actual good. Of course then the danger is real, too.

    Speaking as someone who has spent some time worrying about demons, it’s a reassuring fear in a way because hardly anyone believes fully in demons *all* the time. You can believe in them sometimes and disbelieve at other times, when it gets too intense. This helps avoid the psychological damage of being really afraid all the time. It lets you go about your life. Being afraid of a fully real danger allows no respite short of self-denial, and it’s a lot more unpleasant. I’m not surprised that imaginary fears are more popular.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    At the very least, just play some Dungeons & Dragons or roll a new Dark Souls character. Maybe re-read Lord of the Rings or watch the movies. There are ways to get demons and monsters in your life without having to pretend they’re real.

  • Hawker40

    With MMO’s, you no longer even need to invite them into your home!

  • Jessica_R

    Or watch Hellboy, a demon who fights monsters, a twofer!

  • themunck

    Honestly, I think a title for Brian Fisher like we have for the Liar Tony Perkins. And Witchfinder-general just might work. Thoughts?

  • Omnicrom

    Too dignified. “Wannabe Witch Hunter” sounds better.

  • Nequam
  • themunck

    Perfect! Witchsmeller Bryan Fisher it is.

  • Launcifer

    The American title for the film Witchfinder General was The Conqueror Worm, which I find oddly appealing – although I’d reject it on the grounds that I have no wish to link Fischer with either Edgar Allan Poe or a word like “conquest”, just in case…

  • Nequam

    Trivial note: AIP retitled the film so they could pass it off as one of their Poe films, since the Roger Corman-directed films had done pretty well for them. They even adapted an HP Lovecraft story (“The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”) and gave the film a Poe title (“The Haunted Palace).

  • arcseconds

    Maybe follow Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman and go for Witchfinder Private or something?

  • themunck

    Hell no. Newton deserves better than sharing the rank of Witchsmeller Bryan Fisher. (I know using that title for him doesn’t make much sense when we’re discussing titles, but I want to get into the habit of using it)

  • LL

    How about Cowardly Bryan Fischer? Seems apropos.

  • Matri

    How about Gullible Bryan Fischer?

    And he swallowed it. No getting grounded or spanked or forced to copy pages out of 2 Chronicles longhand or whatever else passes for punishment in such households. All the kid has to do is nod earnestly as Fischer prays for her, then he goes off to tell their parents that the kid was just acting out of love for them because they’d been threatened
    by the scary monster under her bed.

  • ScorpioUndone

    I know what I’m doing with my coven next time we all gather at midnight and do… whatever it is we witches do until 2 or 3 in the morning.

  • themunck

    Dance naked around a fire? Play Vampire the Masquerade?

  • ScorpioUndone

    one or the other. Or both.

  • themunck

    …At the risk of sounding perverted (even though I am), I would pay money to see that.
    “You all meet up, strip and light the fire. Rötschreck check. You all fail and flee as fast as you can”

  • ScorpioUndone

    Well, put that way, that could be fun. And hilarious. “Oh shit, he countered our spell by saying “Jesus”! Now what do we do?!”

    Panic.

  • VMink

    “Sorry, Reverend Fisher, but I made my Will save.”

  • themunck

    Plus we’re all assuming he has the True Faith trait. And I Can’t help but think he’d rather but those points in Status* or Resources :/
    —–
    * Fine, mortals can’t take Status. Reputation, then.

  • Omnicrom

    Assuming Bryan Fischer has True Faith is definitely a stretch. Considering how antiquated his morals are I have no such difficultly seeing him playing Old World of Darkness (True Faith isn’t in nWoD)

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    College first.

  • A K M Adam

    I believe the title you’re looking for is “Witchsmeller Pursuivant.”

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    BLACKADDER!

  • Wednesday

    I find it interesting that Mister Rogers’ recommendation for dealing with childhood monster fears is the polar opposite of Granny Weatherwax and Susan Sto Helit’s approach. (Of course, Discworld being what it is, the monsters really _are_ there some of the time, so what makes for responsible parenting in such a world is probably going to be occasionally different.)

  • themunck

    Let’s also keep in mind that Granny is a cranky old woman with little time for the education of fools, Susan is the granddaughter of Death himself, and that the Discworlders are rather more…literal minded…than us Roundworlders are.

  • mattmcirvin

    Terry Pratchett has always been a bit more tolerant of lies-to-children than is my tendency.

  • themunck

    To be fair, he does make a good defence of them in the Science of Discworld :/. Explaining things like science or math is easier when you can simplify the tangentally related concepts, even if you do so to a degree that makes them factually wrong.
    If I had to explain, say, why ethanol is called CH3CH2OH rather than C2H6O, it helps if I can just draw a model without going into sigma, pi and phi bindings.

  • mattmcirvin

    I had to make some use of them as a teaching assistant in physics, but it never sat entirely well with me; I tried to at least mention that some oversimplification was going on.

  • Cythraul

    There’s nothing wrong with mentioning that there’s oversimplification going on. Near as I can tell, science education involves starting with a drastically oversimplified model when students are young, and gradually replacing it with less and less oversimplified ones.

  • Jamoche

    I had an easier time in Calculus 1 than my classmates because I didn’t try to make sense of it. I took the engineering approach: it works, use it.

    Then in Calc 2 suddenly Calc 1 made sense – but Calc 2 didn’t. And the same thing happened with Calc 3.

    Lies-to-children are steps to make things possible when the learning curve slope for the real thing has a divide-by-zero error.

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

    To be fair, chemistry in particular is kind of like a series of ever-more-complex successive approximations wherein each approximation is primarily a pedagogical tool to get students used to some strange ideas (like the notion of discrete energy levels for electrons, or the finite shell occupancies, and so on), because really, at a very early stage you’re actually learning quantum mechanics.

  • Guest

    Not everything in a Discworld novel is true or right simply by virtue of being in a Discworld novel. Giving people who believe in imaginary monsters a stick and encouraging them to go after said monsters (as Granny Weatherwax does is Maskerade) is a terrible thing to do, and Witchsmeller Bryan Fischer is one of the many reasons [i]why[/i].

  • Turcano

    Everything is true, for a given value of true.

  • Wednesday

    Oh, sure, if I had to choose between taking parenting advice from Fred Rogers or from two fictional characters living in a world where imaginary monsters _are_ real, I’m going with Fred Rogers.

    That said, in the case of Granny and giving the (adult) man who is afraid of nonexistent monsters a stick and a chair to stand on… that is a bit different from Fischer. Fischer says God keeps you safe from demons. Granny says here, you kill your own demons.

  • ako

    I’d say it’s a perfectly sensible thing to do in Discworld, given given how often things that are believed in turn out to be true, or become true. But in reality, it’s better to encourage someone to see the truth.

  • GDwarf

    Yes and no. Those children were already told from a young age that monsters exist and that they should be terrified of them. Attempts to get rid of these fears generally treated them as if they were foolish for ever having them. Giving them a weapon and having them face their fears, in that situation, is better than the other things that had been tried, even if it’s not ideal.

    Further, the main thing Pratchett’s characters do, which both the Freds seem to advocate, is not just dismissing childhood fears out of hand. You look for the monster while telling the child that you had the same fears, too, but that there really is no monster. Pratchett’s characters do the first part, and then the Discworld steps in and makes the second part not actually true.

  • revenge

    for the FAKE ANGLO-SAXON MONARCHY

    isgodimaginary.com/forum/index.php/topic,54144.0.html

    .,,.,.,

  • VMink

    Dennis? Is that you?

  • SisterCoyote

    I dunno. I’ve just about had it with the Anglo-Saxon Monarchy these days as well. Neil deGrasse Tyson had a good point on it: A curious tradition — to look at a newborn baby and say to yourself, “Because of your DNA, one day you will rule over me.”

    I wouldn’t mind so much if every media outlet in the country hadn’t apparently stopped paying attention to everything else to focus entirely on the birth of that one kid.

    (I have no idea who the commenter is, though. *shrug* Weird art and all-caps one-liner rants could be a lot of people; Markuze seems to have slightly more focus.)

  • Lori

    Eh, Little George isn’t actually going to rule over anyone. He will live a life awash in unearned privilege and he’ll have virtually no privacy, but he isn’t going to rule anyone.

  • SisterCoyote

    This is true. IMHO, it’s still a very, very strange concept – that by virtue of being born, you are immediately the center of a media frenzy, and will grow up to hold even the symbolic power that monarchs do. Has a royal family ever adopted a kid, I wonder?

    (Why do I have songs from the Lion King suddenly stuck in my head? That wasn’t that reminiscent!)

  • Lori

    I figure that in 21 years George and Blue Ivy Carter can get together for a drink and compare notes.

    As for royals adopting I seem to recall that someone from one of the not-British royal families in Europe adopted at least one of their children, but darned if I can remember which one. It seems like the information was part of some fairly recent royals coverage by the Fug Girls, but that doesn’t narrow it down all that much. Also, I could be totally delusional about the whole thing. My memory is like a sieve.

  • christopher_y

    I had to google Blue Ivy Carter, because I’m not much for celeb. news, and I found a site which excitedly announced the George and BIC are 23rd cousins twice removed. But isn’t everybody?

  • Lori

    I’m kind of surprised that the connection isn’t closer than 23rd cousins twice removed, because that’s not much. I’ve never been very good at parsing the whole “twice removed” thing, but I think you’re correct that vast swathes of the human population are at least that closely related to the future king.

  • christopher_y

    I expect it is much closer than that but the celebrity watchers who posted it couldn’t do the research to find out. 23rd cousins means that two of your ancestors 24 generations back were siblings. Allow 25-30 years for a generation and they could have fought at Agincourt, conquered Delhi in the armies of Tamerlane or sailed with Zheng He. We’re looking a long way back here.

  • Leo

    Reminds me more of “The Truman Show”

  • themunck

    They have. Margrete I, queen of Denmark and architect of the Kalmar Union, had a son who died at age 19 or so, and eventually adopted a distant relative so he could be king of all the Scandinavian kingdoms.

  • Michael Pullmann

    The Roman emperors used to adopt heirs if they were childless. Most of the competent emperors were adopted, in fact.

  • themunck

    Western Roman, Eastern Roman or Roman Roman?

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

    This plot device was used to get Ben-Hur into a powerful Roman family and make him quite wealthy after being a galley slave.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Why is “Because of your DNA, one day you will rule over me.” any stranger than “Because of your choice of parents, you will be financially secure for the rest of your life no matter how stupid a thing you do” or “Because of your phenotype, store detectives are never going to follow you around the way they do me”?

  • SisterCoyote

    Well, they’re all pretty awful, but ruling over someone, directly having the power to change or strike or enact laws, is a pretty huge deal. Monarchs now may not, but when you think about someone’s DNA giving them the keys to control an entire country and start wars, grant landed titles, etc, it’s a little more scary, I think.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Pragmatically, I suspect you’ll find that your average american Extremely Wealthy Person has more power over the lives of your average american than a member of the british royal family has over the lives of their subjects (In fact, though the british royal family are themselves extremely rich, I’d suggest they have even less practical power than an equally wealthy private citizen.

  • SisterCoyote

    Oh God, don’t I know it. My contemplation is more on the theory of hereditary monarchy – which I am aware is more or less nonexistant/obsolete in this age – than the system of hereditary wealth (and the fact that wealth correlates so directly to power). But you are right, in this day and age we’ve got a system that’s even more fucked up, somehow.

    (Once again, I can only advocate Kim Stanley Robinson’s Martian theories. Because they are awesome.)

  • myeck waters

    No idea. I do find it amusing that their post here was basically a non-sequitur, and the post it linked to was also apropos of nothing and contained links that had nothing to do with the post title.

  • Lori

    That’s what makes people think it’s Dennis again.

  • myeck waters

    I dunno, didn’t seem violent enough. No mention of heads rollin’ or nuthin’.

  • Lori

    I think the picture sort of implies that. It could be that Dennis has learned a tiny bit about not making direct threats.

  • phantomreader42

    What makes me think it’s him is it’s the same incoherence and same picture as the last time, which was under the name “ops angel”, and “ops archangel” is one of his known aliases. Sounds like he got demoted due to general incompetence.

  • MarkTemporis

    Awww…if it’s the infamous troll, he’s got some awesome taste in art. That Assassin’s Creed Angel painting is BADASS.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Is that Assassin’s Creed? I was thinking Diablo…

  • themunck

    So was I, but the wings are wrong. Diablo angels have those awesome wings that look like strings of light.

  • Touchdown_Al

    Made me think of Magic: The Gathering

  • MarkTemporis

    You’re probably right, because AC is more super-science than magic, and winged flying guys aren’t super-science, but the cowled outfit looks very Assassin’s Creed.

  • GDwarf

    I’m vaguely curious as to what a real Anglo-Saxon monarchy would be, if not what the UK has now.

    I mean, I’m no fan of the monarchy, but it’s not fake, there are actual monarchs and everything. Or is this some sort of Icke-ian “The royals are really alien lizards” thing?

  • The_L1985
  • arcseconds

    Perhaps it’s because they’re not really Anglo-Saxons, and haven’t been since 1066 when a Norman took the throne?

  • christopher_y

    They’re descended from the West Saxon Cerding dynasty, though, in various ways. I could explain how, being a nerd when it comes to lists, but the site would explode.

  • Cathy W

    I suspect through the Hanovers, yes? I do recall hearing that at one point Queen Victoria asked a genealogist to determine her actual surname and got back “Wettin”, a name reading the 1632 series has trained me to associate with the rulers of various Saxe-Something-Somethingelses.

    Way more German descent than Norman at this point in the British royals, definitely, at any rate.

  • christopher_y

    They probably are descended from the Saxons through the Hanoverians, but I was thinking of the Normans.

    William the Conqueror’s queen, Matilda, was a direct descendant of Alfred the Great, and their son Henry Beauclerc married Eadgifu/Matilda – she changed her name to placate the Norman barons – great grand-daughter of Edmond Ironside, whose mother, Saint Margaret, was Queen of Scotland. All subsequent kings and queens of England are descended from her, and most subsequent kings and queens of Scots are descended from Margaret, giving them a good Saxon ancestry too.

  • alfgifu

    I suppose this comes under the ‘so is everyone’ heading for descendants from distant royalty.

    I wrestled for a few seconds with different ways of putting this, because it could come over as being very self-important, but… I’m a direct descendant of the same set of people. I can trace my family tree back to them (all up the maternal line) in more than one way, but the easiest one goes via Mary Boleyn (aka the other Boleyn girl). I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other Slacktivists who can do the same, and I’m utterly certain that there are other Slacktivists who have same ancestry without being able to demonstrate it.

    Royal Anglo-Saxon ancestry: more common than you’d think.

  • christopher_y

    Hee! Hence your handle, I suppose. I think I’m more likely to be descended from King Cnut than the Saxons, but I’m sure we’re all traceable to some chieftain or other of that era (as well as Chingiz Khan, of course.)

  • alfgifu

    Partly hence my handle… I read Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at university so I have a general interest in the period. I find Emma-Alfgifu (wife to Aethelraed and Cnut) particularly interesting for sheer achievement. :)

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

    I can’t be buggered to much care if I’m descended from kings or not. It’s probably far more likely my ancestors are a long line of farmers or fishers eking out a living in Britain and Scandinavia.

  • alfgifu

    I’ve heard that it’s probable, statistically, that most of the modern world is descended from ancient royalty. Whether you like it or not, if you’ve got a long line of British / Scandinavian ancestors, you’re probably descended from Charlemagne or someone (or perhaps Harald Hardrada?)

    And, as christopher_y says, we’re (probably) all descended from Chingiz Kahn.

  • Turcano

    Harold was a king once, but then he took an arrow to the eye.

    (I am so sorry for that.)

  • The_L1985

    Mabus, get off the computer.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Wow. What a waste of a good Tyrael picture.

  • JustoneK

    That can’t be Tyrael (of Diablo), he ain’t got no tentaclies.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Excuse me while I go find some paper towels. There is now water all over my desk because your wording is funny and awesome.

  • William Dhalgren

    Castiel is scarier and prettier.

  • themunck

    Each to their own. I’ve always preferred the visibly inhuman angels, like the ones from D&D 4e, or Diablo.

  • The_L1985

    I always preferred the Ezekiel-types. You know, wheels covered in eyes of flame and other wonderfully-surreal images.

    But then, I like the artwork in Tool albums, too. Maybe I just have a thing for stuff that looks/sounds like it was described on drugs.

  • atalex

    That’s why these maniacs want so badly to destroy public education. They want everyone else to be as ignorant and credulous as they are. Their vision for America is one in which 95% of the people are reduced to the status of 9th century peasants.

  • themunck

    Clearly you’re not giving them enough credit. Back in the 800s, there were still many pagan peasants, and Christianity wasn’t always a given. They want 13th century peasants.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    With themselves as the Aristocrats both Temporal and Spiritual, of course.

  • alfgifu

    Back in the 800s, there were still many pagan peasants, and Christianity wasn’t always a given.

    Do you have a C9th reference for this? My knowledge is fairly British-centric, but I don’t think I’ve seen any source that would support a confident assertion along these lines.

    Actually, thinking about it, if you count Scandinavian peasants, then there are definitely pagans still out there (eg Iceland didn’t even start claiming to be converted until CE 1000). It’s just in the British Isles, although there are plenty of signs that cultural customs hadn’t changed overnight (and there was some syncretism – witness a charm addressed to Eostre including the Pater Noster), I’m not sure I’d be confident of finding any purely pagan households by the C9th.

  • themunck

    Being Scandinavian and not British, I did indeed not mean the British Isles. Although I would be surprised* if there wasn’t at least some remaining in East Francia or something.
    —-
    * Translation: I have no studies nor figures to back up the following claim/thought

  • alfgifu

    Yeah, I also wouldn’t be surprised if there were some around – it’s just that (in the British Isles where my ethnocentric mind went first) we don’t have evidence of it at that date. Beg pardon for the misfiring pedantry!

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

    What is that notation, anyway?

  • alfgifu

    Sorry, I don’t follow the question – which notation did you mean?

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

    Cxxth for century number. I’ve only ever seen one other person use it.

  • alfgifu

    Oh, um, you know, I’m not sure. I picked it up in Sixth Form I think but don’t remember ever being taught it – probably copied another student. It was certainly the common usage at university. For context, the school was in West London and the university in East Anglia, so it’s definitely English, whether it’s found elsewhere or not.

  • SkyknightXi

    I don’t suppose the 95% is a reference to George Fitzhugh…?

  • Fusina

    I”ll never forget when my then three year old daughter stood across a room from me, stomped her little foot and said, “Mommy, I’m angry at you!”

    Totally threw her for a loop when I told her how happy I was that she felt comfortable telling me when she was angry with me. I will never forget the confused look on her face. Still makes me smile.

  • smrnda

    I worked with kids for a while. It seemed natural that they’d get angry at me sometimes because in the end, I was the person who had to tell them what to do. Even though I always tried to be diplomatic, to make requests instead of demands and reason with kids, eventually they just tell you to piss off if they really want to do something. I just think that’s a natural reaction to a severe power imbalance and a lack of control, and I think it’s something that shouldn’t be discouraged too much, since it’s an important skill in adulthood.

  • Fusina

    Partly that, partly because I was never allowed to be openly angry with my mum. Not that I didn’t get angry, but if I admitted I was angry with her, she collapsed in a puddle of incompetency–if I was angry with her she was a failure as a mother and a person, and obviously I didn’t like her because if you are angry with someone you don’t like them.

    Yeah, she did have a dysfunctional family. And grew up and started her own. I like to think that I have raised a slightly less dysfunctional family. That remains to be seen.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Story time! This one is a vaguely remembered telling of an anecdote from of all things my business ethics and systems theory class.

    Stock issue tribe of non-modern folks believe that illness is caused by “evil spirits”. Tribe calls for the shaman, who goes and visits the ill person to try and cast out the spirits. If the shaman visits the person and he gets better, the tribe pays the shaman because he drove out the evil spirit. If the shaman visits the person and they get worse or even die, the tribe pays the shaman, because the evil spirits were simply too strong for him to defeat.

    “Nice racket,” you might think if you were a cynic, “you get paid no matter what happens.” But that’s missing the point. The shaman isn’t getting paid to make people healthy, he’s getting paid to do battle with evil spirits. He’s getting paid to “do something” in a situation where there is no other course of action.

    Human beings respond very poorly to feeling helpless. Situations that are beyond our control cause a disproportionate amount of negative stress on the human mind and body. A sense of control, or the illusion of control, can have a surprisingly strong effect on our mental and physical health. The shaman isn’t getting paid for results, he’s getting paid to provide a narrative where we’re not helpless.

    Witchsmeller Fischer is doing something very similar. A child previously sweet and kind starts acting rebellious; the parents are deeply uncomfortable that this small person might be changing in ways they do not want and cannot control, and they are equally uncomfortable that these negative changes might be because of their parenting. The Witchsmeller offers a third option that blames neither child nor parent, and follows up with a solution that creates the illusion of control.

  • arcseconds

    You had a class that combined systems theory with business ethics?
    Which also included material on shamanism?

    Sounds like a cool school.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Cool school? Not so much so, but an awesome adjunct professor with a great teaching style. The class reading was “The Lucifer Principle” and Nonzero, two books I would not normally pair together. The class used system theory and game theory to explore how a business entity could develop a system of ethics that wasn’t harmful to non-customers or to communities. The shaman story was from Lucifer Principle, which is an interesting read, but I’d recommend some skepticism in reading it, and take it in small doses, as it’s rather bleak.

  • arcseconds

    I did an anthropology course once where by far and away the most interesting section was the one on shamanism. The lecturer made a similar point as yours. In this case it was about spirits (which had a name like ‘saar’ or something, if memory serves) would commonly affect young wives (who leave their family home to their inlaws, where they are suddenly put under the thumb of their mother-in-law and have absolutely no status until they bear a child).

    These young women would sometimes become listless and withdrawn and lose vitality, and nothing would aid them. A shaman would be called in, who would diagnose saar-spirit possession, and go through an excorcism rite.

    Then the shaman would recommend sending the woman back to her parents for a bit, and when she comes back, treat her nicely, otherwise the spirit would return.

    Of course, in the West, we’d diagnose them with depression, which once you scratch the surface, is a category with a lot of similarities to spirit-possession, including the one you mention: it’s nobody’s fault.

  • Ben English

    Except with depression, you can rely on a verified, if imperfect, body of medial science and understanding and find a medication and therapy regimen that works.

    You get possessed by an evil spirit and you’d better hope the Cleric rolls high on his Religion check.

  • arcseconds

    I had a friend who wanted to teach a business ethics class, once he heard a mutual acquaintance had got such a job.

    His idea of a business ethics course was reading Plato’s Republic to them…

  • arcseconds

    I must admit, though, I am a little concerned that it sounds like customers are fair game…

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    In theory, (*theory*) doing harm to non-customers or to communities is a type of externality, a cost of doing business that neither the business itself, nor its actual business partners have to pay. (pollution from a Chinese factory making goods for America, for example) Externalities are bad because the normal economic levers (reduced demand, loss of business) don’t apply.

    Businesses don’t generally need reason to avoid harm to customers, because it affects demand. Harming vendors leads to less supply for your own needs, and both of those translate into direct hits to the company. (again, this is all *in theory*)

  • mattmcirvin

    There is a song on one of the “Veggie Tales” records called “God Is Bigger Than The Boogeyman.” It’s actually a very entertaining, funny song, and when my daughter got this CD one day as a premium at Chick-Fil-A (before we decided to never again eat at Chick-Fil-A) she insisted on listening to it repeatedly.

    But I hated it, and I think I would have been more offended if I actually believed in God. One of the animate vegetables is afraid of monsters in the closet, ghosts, Godzilla, etc., and his friend tells him he doesn’t have to do anything about these threats because God is capable of beating them all.

    It strikes me as the kind of thing bound to destroy a kid’s faith eventually, because real-world threats obviously don’t work that way: God won’t protect you from being run over if you play in traffic, and the reason God has the boogeyman threat covered so effectively is precisely that the boogeyman isn’t real. If anything, it’s an atheist anthem if you take it to its logical conclusion. (That’s not even getting into the disturbing power-worship aspect of the whole thing.)

    I wondered if the Veggie Tales folk had any qualms about framing their kiddie apologetics in this fundamentally dishonest way.

  • mattmcirvin

    …Anyway, this whole discussion is making me consider possibilities I hadn’t before, such as that the people who made the song actually do believe in the boogeyman.

    Or, at least, are using the boogeyman and Godzilla as child-appropriate stand-ins for actual demonic presences that God-belief will protect children against, and that that’s the reason why the song lyrics never make the slightest effort to stress that the threatening monsters aren’t real (which struck me, as it probably would have the devoutly Christian Fred Rogers, as the real malpractice).

    (Or that, whether they believe this stuff or not, they figure the parents in their target audience might, and are catering to them.)

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

    Well, if the Boogeyman was Satan…

  • phantomreader42

    When I see a christian using Pascal’s Wager, I take it as an admission that they know there is no good evidence for their beliefs, they just pretend to believe because they’re afraid of the boogeyman. And I tell them that directly. Of course, Pascal’s Wager is such a shitty excuse for an argument that anyone who mistakes it for something useful isn’t likely to be smart enough to understand that the boogeyman isn’t real anyway.

  • Cathy W

    Pascal’s Wager always struck me as a good rationale to go God-shopping: find the one that will smite me the the hardest for non-worship and worship that one, plus as many other smiting-prone gods as I can fit in without angering one already on the list.
    …I can’t say that actually rules out TurboJesus.

  • Ben English

    There are already plenty of good reasons not to worship TurboJesus.

  • Turcano

    “This is very similar to the suggestion put forward by the Quirmian philosopher Ventre, who said, ‘Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it’s all true you’ll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn’t then you’ve lost nothing, right?’ When he died he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said, ‘We’re going to show you what we think of Mr. Clever Dick in these parts…'”

    – Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

  • Ben English

    Pascal’s Wager is a terrible argument for Christianity but that’s because it is spawned from a terrible understanding of Christianity. If you’d drop the internet smart guy act for a minute, please note that the terrible understanding of Christianity is taught and reinforced in much of the Evangelical subculture as the Real True Orthodoxy. Pascal’s Wager makes perfect sense when you practice the religion of hell avoidance.

  • Ben English

    Because fundamentalists are well known for teaching their children that Godzilla is actually real and out to get them!

    It’s not like Santa Claus for God’s sakes. They don’t try to convince kids that, yes, a fifty-story lizard with an atomic breath weapon actually did once rampage in Tokyo.

  • mattmcirvin

    Of course it’s not literally Godzilla. But when I was little I remember talking to friends who’d been freaked out by Sunday-school warnings into thinking of Satan as, essentially, a type of boogeyman, one that the adults definitely believed in.

    Now Veggie Tales doesn’t go for that approach, at least not directly, and it may not have been what they had in mind. But I was bothered by the way they were using natural little-kid fears to push their theology instead of assuaging them in the most direct way possible.

  • phantomreader42

    Apologetics is a fundamentally dishonest enterprise, so apologists who have any qualms about dishonesty don’t remain apologists.

  • Ben English

    Apologetics is a fundamentally dishonest enterprise? Painting a lot of people with a broad brush there.

  • Ben English

    As someone who grew up on Veggie Tales, I think you’re way off base there. Fundamentalist kids haven’t quite internalized the metaphor comprehension deficiencies of fundamentalist adults at that age. Veggie Tales is not encouraging kids to play in traffic.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Slack, Pennywise, everybody:
    Have you ever heard of the heresy “Attributing too much power to the Devil”? It’s what the Spanish Inquisition used to bring as actual charges when they rolled on Witchcraft cases (which wasn’t often; Inquisitors were on a fixed salary, not a cut of the take). It means thinking of (and acting on) the Devil being as powerful as God, kind of a Zoroastrian Dualism with two Gods of near-equal power levels.
    And a lot of these Spiritual Warriors and Witchsniffers Pursuviant are up to their eyebrows in it. They have made Satan so powerful that God would be defeated without the aid of Mighty SWs and WPs (guess who) and their Mighty Magick. Maybe that’s why such SWs & WPs are so loud and shrill — they have made the Devil so big and so powerful in their minds/theologiesl that deep down inside they are afraid they picked the losing side?

  • Abel Undercity

    Wasn’t that also a big part of the Manichean Heresy?

  • The_L1985

    That pretty much is the Manichean Heresy in a nutshell.

  • phantomreader42

    As I understand it, the Manichean Heresy is attributing EQUAL power to god and satan. Fundies tend to attribute MORE power to satan (and various other boogeymen).

  • The_L1985

    If the former is heresy, then the latter would be heresy++. One of the major beliefs of Christianity is that God is the most powerful being ever. For Satan to be stronger than God would automatically wreck huge amounts of widely-held doctrine that even the fundies follow.

  • phantomreader42

    Would still be heresy, but a DIFFERENT heresy. There are a whole lot of heresies. I heard someone mention the Voltron heresy, which I suspect is composed of a quintet of different-colored heresies combined together. :P

  • The_L1985

    Nope. The Voltron heresy is the idea that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate identities within one god.

  • phantomreader42

    I’m honestly not sure if that’s a joke or an actual thing now. Do they really call that the Voltron Heresy? Or does it just fit the combining mecha theme so well?

  • The_L1985

    It’s an unofficial name for it. See earlier Slacktivist post, or just go straight to the included YouTube video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQLfgaUoQCw

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Which however re-introduces the Paradox of Evil. If God is all-Good and all-Powerful (nothing stronger than God or even approaching His strength), why does Evil exist? Making Evil as strong as God (Dualism) is one attempt to resolve that paradox; placing God beyond Good and Evil (Predestination, Utter Sovereignty) is another.

  • The_L1985

    The one they don’t ever consider is a lack of omniscience; i.e., it’s very possible that God doesn’t know about evil that hasn’t happened yet.

  • Abel Undercity

    This reminds me of a Chick tract I once read (I was between books on a long bus ride) where the subject was psychics. I expected, naively, for something approaching a legitimate exposé: Hey, these guys are frauds and liars.

    NNNNNNOPE! Chick described them as having bona fide superpowers, all provided by Satan, of course. I guess frauds and con artists just aren’t impressive enough foes for the mighty Witchsmellers at Chick.

    (Love that term, by the way.)

  • mattmcirvin

    The first Chick publication I ever encountered was the full-length comic “Spellbound,” the one about the Satanic nature of rock music. That one says that listening to rock music will eventually get you demonically possessed just like the Druids who built Stonehenge, which will give you their amazing scary devil superpowers!

    Since that statement alone is about four or five outrageously false assertions all joined together, I remember my junior-high mind being infuriated in a very SOMEONE IS WRONG IN A COMIC BOOK way. But it also occurred to me that you’re probably not going to get your typical young heavy-metal fan to give it up by promising them that if they continue on this path they will get Satanic superpowers.

  • Fusina

    I suspect that is why they are so determined to believe in a physical hell. I remember being appalled when a minister I knew said something to the effect of people needing to be scared into heaven–eg, the fear of going to hell would cause them to embrace christianity. I had not yet evolved my current state of belief, but even then I knew that was all kinds of wrong.

  • redsixwing

    “Satanic Superpowers” would be an excellent album name.

    … Maybe for the Witchsmellers?

  • Michael Pullmann

    If the best Satan can do is Uri Gellar, then I don’t think we have much to worry about.

  • Abel Undercity
  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    NNNNNNOPE! Chick described them as having bona fide superpowers, all provided by Satan, of course. I guess frauds and con artists just aren’t impressive enough foes for the mighty Witchsmellers at Chick.

    This subject is going down over at Wartburg Watch today:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/07/24/tutorial-for-naive-christians-its-just-an-illusion/

    With one aside into the Petra classic “Witch Hunt”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGJqw2ENM6k

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

    Despite what Smith said, it is not inevitable.

    On the other hand, sometimes IT is freaky that way. http://i1.ytimg.com/i/Xg4tUTrHMTxxj_XBYF6_iw/mq1.jpg

  • MaryKaye

    It’s noteworthy that quite a few Fundamentalists are more convinced of Witches’ magic powers than actual Witches tend to be. I sometimes want to say: Hey! You’re a favored child of the Most High God! Have a little faith that He will look after you! You’re supposed to be able to handle serpents and drink deadly things without harm–you really think I’ve got enough power to hex you effectively, with a protector like that?

    O ye of little faith, as my mother liked to say.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    It’s noteworthy that quite a few Fundamentalists are more convinced of Witches’ magic powers than actual Witches tend to be.
    Witchsmellers Pursuviant always are. From the days when one of them wrote his demon-slash-witch sexual fantasies into the Malleus Malefacarium and kicked off The Burning Times.

  • smrnda

    I think what these people really fear is that other people will start to disbelieve in the imaginary monsters, and that would ruin their demon and monster hunting racket. On some level, I think Fischer acknowledges that people who don’t believe in ‘demonic presences’ don’t come looking to him for help and advice, and that if he doesn’t keep the fear factor high, he’ll lose money and influence. It also might be that he’s genuinely afraid, and he worries that he’ll look like the kid who still believes in Santa Claus unless he plants some seeds of credulity.

  • Carstonio

    While I don’t understand the fear that some people have of spiders and snakes, perhaps many people don’t understand the fear I have of other people getting angry or upset. For whatever reason, I equate it with danger. This often shows up as a fear of losing someone else’s love if the person gets angry, not if I get angry.

  • The_L1985

    I know that feeling all too well. *hugs*

  • JustinL

    So the kids didn’t OFFER that they felt demonic presences. Fischer is the one who introduced the idea of demons to a frightened, confused, susceptible child who can barely think critically yet. The same method is used with people who undergo hypnosis and are asked leading questions by the hypnotist to convince them they were abducted by aliens.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Or to obtain “Recovered Memories”/Spectral Evidence for court prosecutions in the Eighties. At least until someone recognized False Memory Syndrome.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    So the lesson here is that a white man who is able to dress himself in a ‘respectful’ manner can not only get away with being bugfuck insane in public but make a living at it?

    His claim that the witches covens break up at ‘2 or 3 in the morning’ was a weird touch. There are senior citizens at the Elks lodge who can party longer than two or three hours; seems pretty lame for a satanic orgy.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Witchfinders-General/Witchsmellers-Pursuviant made a pretty good living off the confiscated assets of burned witches. Wonder if they had any fights over dividing the swag?

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

    Said well-dressed bugfuck insane white man also has to drop enough Christian-themed buzzwords into the conversation. Otherwise, he’ll be accused of being a Communist-Atheist-Muslim-Liberal-Socialist-Facist-Misogynist-Racist.

  • Alix

    Just throwing this out there, five days late: 2/3 am was what I always heard was the “witching hour,” though people disagreed on which was the real witching hour and all agreed that witches did something at midnight, too. So to me it sounds like Fischer is stringing together various bits of half-remembered folklore.

  • Gordon Duffy

    I think the problem is that he really believes (i) there are demonic spirits and (ii) the “monster under the bed” could be one of them.

  • Ethics Gradient

    I think this needs to be posted:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9o-Z0swuls

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

    Some families give their children a spray bottles with water as “monster spray,” or put a sign on the door “No monsters allowed.” That may seem to work in the short term because children are so trusting of us adults and so willing to believe the fantasy — but what it could say to them is that their parents, too, think that monsters are real, and that the monsters might actually be there. In the long term, we want them to know that monsters aren’t real and they really are not there.

    And yet, I can’t help but think of the truth in this quote with which Neil Gaiman opens Coraline (attributed to G.K. Chesterton):

    Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.

    Perhaps the way to beat the monster in the closet is not simply to say “Monsters aren’t real,” but, as Fred’s example shows, to teach children to probe the shadows for themselves, to determine if anything is lurking there, and give them the tools to confront whatever they find there.


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