7 things @ 9 o’clock (9.2)

1. Hey, remember that Japanese nuclear plant that was leaking radiation after the earthquake and tsunami back in 2011? That was big news, but then other stuff happened and, well, it was all fixed or something, right? Not so much: “Fukushima radiation levels ’18 times higher’ than thought,” the BBC reports.

2. Katie Mulligan of Inside-Outed posts the sermon she preached on Sunday. Perhaps “sermon” doesn’t sound enticing to you, but it’s really good — with Martin Luther King Jr. and Wendell Berry and one of my favorite Jesus stories. I’m linking to it because it’s quite good, and because it’s an excuse to share the quote from James Baldwin she uses at the beginning: “I would like us to do something unprecedented: to create ourselves without finding it necessary to create an enemy.”

3. AZSpot points us to this 1989 speech by Bill Watterson on “The Cheapening of the Comics.” Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, foresees the shrinking future of the newspaper biz and, even before the rise of the Web, presciently points out that comics are one thing newspapers have that TV and other competing mediums couldn’t imitate. But instead of exploiting this advantage, newspapers were cutting and squeezing their comics sections to cut costs.

In the years since then, this same squandering of advantage has slowly been destroying everything else that newspapers used to be good at. Yes, the rise of cable TV and the Web were a challenge to the newspaper business. But it is not dying because of cable TV and the Web. It is dying because it is run by money-grubbing idiots who don’t know or care what it used to be good for.

Speaking of Bill Watterson, Gavin Aun Than’s illustration of Watterson’s advice to college graduates is good and beautiful and true.

4. Don’t miss this one-two punch from Christena Cleveland: “Everything I Know About Racism I Learned in the Church” and “Everything I Know About Reconciliation I Learned in the Church.”

5. The Cleveland chapter of the National Right to Life Committee has been “disaffiliated” by the national organization for saying it will oppose Ohio Sen. Rob Portman due to his support for marriage equality.

It’s an interesting dispute over the connection between these two conservative culture-warrior agenda items. What’s the link between being anti-abortion and being anti-gay? Is it intersectional and wholistic? Or is it a matter of knee-jerk partisanship?

6. Here’s ASAP Science’s brief, cheerful explainer on “The Poop Cycle.” This is one reason I have more respect for “off-the-grid” libertarian types than I do for people who enjoy Big Civilization while rejecting the “big” government that makes it possible.

7. Robin Parry writes about “The Dangers of Apologetics” — or, really, about the problems with “apologetics” in concept and in practice, which render it useless for anything except an elaborate way of jamming one’s fingers in one’s ears and shouting “LalalalaLA!” to drown out the shouts of one’s own doubts. Most of what passes for Christian “apologetics” these days, in other words, is a way of creating ourselves by creating an enemy.

Parry’s conclusion is dead on: “The key apologetic for Christianity … is love.” And that highlights the other main function of the “Christian apologetics” cottage industry: Distracting ourselves from the obligation to love.

Here’s the first of his five points, for a taste, but go read the rest:

First, there is a danger of deciding the questions we feel people ought to be asking rather than looking at those they are asking. For instance, one student mission I was involved with was based around a set of evangelistic meetings that focused on issues such as, “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” and “Are the Gospels reliable?” Now these are important questions that require sensible answers but they were not burning issues for most of the students.

The opposite side of this coin is avoiding the questions that people actually are asking about the faith (e.g., why do you treat gay people badly? Why has Christianity inspired so much violence in its history?), perhaps because they are harder to answer in such a way that Christians come out looking good.

 

Stay in touch with the Slacktivist on Facebook:
  • Flying Squid with Goggles

    Just checking, when you say “wholistic” that’s “holistic”, right?

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

    Yeah. I’ve seen that rendition of the word.

  • Turcano

    I used to be really heavily into apologetics; I was kind of pushed in that direction at a fairly early age due to my academic talents. Then I discovered that apologetics is more about validating one’s beliefs than defending or examining them.

  • J_Enigma32

    This is where I get too sound bitter, and, contrary to what might be popular belief, I *hate* sounding bitter. It’s not good for my health.

    Watterson’s advice, while well drawn and touching, is bullshit, just like most advice of that type.

    American Hypercapitalism does not afford you the advantage to do things you like. You’re damn lucky if you get a job doing something you like. Really damn lucky. Otherwise, in accordance with the values of hypercapitalism, you will waste your life, till the moment you die, doing something you don’t want to do.

    Why?

    Because if you don’t you’ll die sooner, and so will your family.

    If you don’t take that shitty job with those shitty hours you’ll die of starvation and so will your kids.You may never see your kids grow up because you’re to busy ensuring that your family has money to afford what little luxury you’ve got, so rich assholes/Republicans can scream at you for complaining and say “you’re not poor, you’ve got X” where X could be any small luxury ranging from a TV to a goddamn cellphone.

    If you don’t sacrifice your life, your health, and your dignity, on Mammaon’s altar of the Almighty Dollar, then you’ll die homeless, bouncing from shelter to shelter. Especially today, when you have to take any job you can get. This country hates you. It hates everything about you. If you’re poor you’re probably going to stay poor. If you’re rich you can count on staying rich, and getting richer. Hypercapitalism, the toxic fuel that drives our engine, doesn’t give one single fuck if you ever see your children. It doesn’t give one single fuck if you ever live the life you want, because you are not important. Not in 21st century America, where you can die of starvation on the street because legislatures made a law that declared it illegal to feed you when you couldn’t feed yourself.

    My advice to college/high school grads? Get the pitchforks and torches, kids, we’re going on an adventure.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    Well…Watterson followed his own advice. He gave up the steady job to go off on his own and do what his passion told him, going broke in the process. And what’s more, once he became a success, he resisted the lure of easy money and ended his own greatest creation at the peak of its success so he could pursue his passions once again.

    But you can go on with what you’re doing. Keep throwing out those same tired, quasi-anarchist cliches. Keep fantasizing about a revolution that you kinow damn well you’ll never participate in. Maybe one day the sheeple will wake up to the truth to power you’ve been speaking and all that.

    Or, you could go out and actually do something of merit. But that takes effort, doesn’t it? Whining about how everything is hopeless is so much easier.

  • Lori

    -When Watterson followed his own advice the economy was a very different thing than it is now. Things weren’t good for the not-rich, but they weren’t as bad as they are now. He voluntarily gave up a steady job to do what his passion told him. He had control of that and was able to plan for it, unlike people who are laid off. When he quit he didn’t have to factor in the very real possibility of never being able to get another decent job if he wasn’t able to make his passion pay. When he went broke he had an at least somewhat functional social safety net to fall back on.

    -Watterson possessed a rare talent.

    Hopelessness is not productive, but neither are bootstrap narratives.

    ETA: I think the present value of Watterson’s advice is mainly in presenting the possibility of a definition of success that isn’t based on money & corporate climbing.

  • J_Enigma32

    Which would be worthwhile advice, were not that exactly what you need in order to survive in the country today.

    I’m not anti-capitalism. I’m probably one of the strongest supporters of capitalism you’ll ever find, which is why I call myself a socialist. But increasingly, I find myself becoming anti-capitalist.

  • Lori

    I think you’re mixing up two discussions—survival and success. You also seem to be over-generalizing a bit. Things are bad (clearly I’m aware of that), but it’s not true that no one but the ultra wealthy have any choices. Perceiving that nearly everyone is trapped, with no hope and no choices is not a road to giving a greater number of people hope and choices.

    It is possible to live a life that does not make accumulating as much money as possible its main goal. It is still possible to define success for oneself as something other than getting promoted as many times as possible. That doesn’t mean that one can ignore the need to make money, and I did not in any way suggest that you can or should.

    There’s a quote from Milton Friedman’s book Capitalism and Freedom that served as one of the defining ideas of Neoconservatives in the years between the Bush presidencies.

    Only a crisis—-actual or perceived—produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”

    I don’t agree with most things Friedman believed, but this idea has merit. The Neocons clearly used it for evil, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used for good. I think that even if, in this moment, we have limited ability to produce change we need to keep alternatives to the present system alive. We need to make sure that people hear about them and remain aware of them so that when the moment comes that change is possible that change can be in a positive direction. I think Watterson’s advice is one of the things that can serve that function and as such I’m not going to criticize someone for talking about it and putting it out there.

  • J_Enigma32

    I may be overgeneralizing, that’s very much a possibility (I have to constantly guard against my tendency to split the world into black and white, and sometimes even then I’m not successful – I also see now that I am mixing up two conversations and apologize for any confusion it caused).

    However, I don’t feel things are hopeless and I don’t believe only the ultrawealthy have freedom of choice. They have *more* freedom of choice than anyone else does, it’s true, and things are stacked against people who aren’t, but I’m relatively privileged in that I’m well off. I have a home, I have a family, I have access to a lot of things and I’m in the position to perhaps move up with my life (my mantra has always been “it could be worse”). I’m certainly in no position to be hopeless for myself, nor am I hopeless for others – what I am is angry. I’m furious. And I’m sick of it all (no, I live with people who are hopeless and defeatist; I know what that looks like – there’s no good in anything, nothing useful can be done, just burn it all down and start over again – it’s toxic).

    I reacted like I did to Watterson’s advice as a kneejerk more than anything, and the reason I did that is because his advice is my dream world. A world where everyone is recognized for having talents, and everyone can use those talents to improve their standing, but nobody has to risk their life or well-being on it. I wish that were true. And there are places where it’s closer to being true than others. I just wish the United States were one of those places, and I think the majority of Americans agree with me.

  • Lori

    I don’t think we’ll ever live in an entirely talent-focused world. We certainly won’t until we figure out a way to eliminate scut work. I do think we can and should develop a less work-focused view of life. For example, the fact that it’s considered completely normal for some people to be simply expected to work 60 or more hours a week in order to be considered productive, especially while others are held to less than 40 hours a week of work in order to be kept from receiving benefits, is completely appalling.

  • Lori

    Speaking of keeping an alternative view out there, Elizabeth Warren’s Labor Day message:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS6hDQJdpM0

  • Jon Maki

    -Watterson possessed a rare talent.

    It’s true, and it draws (heh) attention to something that rarely gets brought up when people are giving the “do what you love”-type advice: just because you love doing something doesn’t mean you’re actually any good at it.

  • Lori

    Two words—Ed. Wood.

  • Jon Maki

    Heh. And yeah, while he pursued doing what he loved with an incredible amount of zeal, ultimately it didn’t work out all that well for him, materially.
    This topic – doing what you love – is of particular interest to me today, as I’m in the midst of doing something that I love doing, and I’m even doing it for someone I love, and while it’s going better than expected (though not fast enough, even without taking a break to post this), it’s making it even more clear than it ever was that I could never survive if this is what I did for a living.
    Hell, I wouldn’t even be able to afford to buy the supplies I need to do it.
    Anyway, when people do bring up the whole talent/luck issue when giving the “do what you love” advice, the response is typically to find something you can do well that’s at least related to the thing you love.
    I’m not sure that’s really all that helpful. I mean, I love comic books, and there’s nothing I’d love more than to write/draw them (or so I thought before the past couple of days…), but I don’t have the wherewithal* to do that. I am good at what I actually do for a living, and, in theory, I could do similar work for a comic book company, but I really don’t see that as much of an improvement, because at the end of the day, regardless of who I’m doing the work for, I don’t derive much satisfaction from the work itself.
    Okay, just needed to throw that out there. Back to the (literal) drawing board.

    *Let’s just take that as a given, as it would take too long to explain why I believe this.

  • hidden_urchin

    Yeah, the “do what you love” thing has problems along with the “find something you do well related to what you love.”

    For myself, my dream was to be a professional mariner. I had all of the qualifications except for one. My eyesight wasn’t good enough. So I couldn’t do what I loved but there isn’t anything else like it in the world so I can’t even find something related to it that I love.

    Now I don’t know quite what to do.

    It’s been over two years. You’d think I’d be over it by now but it still hurts.

  • Lori

    I swear to FSM this is not a criticism or an attempt to talk down to you or minimize your difficulty or anything like that.

    there isn’t anything else like it in the world so I can’t even find something related to it that I love.

    What is it that attracted you to the idea of being a professional mariner? What were the aspects of it as a career that most interested you? What skills do you have that made you think you’d be a good professional mariner? Are you totally sure that there are no other jobs that include those things or use those skills?

    I ask because truly unique occupations are pretty rare. Sometimes finding the commonalities is a matter of flipping how you look at things. If you want to talk about that it’s possible that someone here has experience or information that you don’t, or might be able to see something simply because s/he isn’t as close to the situation.

    If this is not at all helpful, feel free to ignore it.

  • hidden_urchin

    The general skills translate well into any field. What I lost was the environment and that’s what I loved.

    I was a good navigator too.

  • Lori

    I’m sorry. That’s really hard.

  • Albanaeon

    If you don’t mind me asking, would corrective vision surgery helped?

  • hidden_urchin

    One would think so. Unfortunately, one’s pre-surgery vision can’t fall outside of a certain range. That’s what got me.

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

    Wait, what?! But post-surgery vision…! That makes no bloody sense and smacks of an outdated distrust in medical science.

    (Someone I know just had LASIK and her vision is 20/15, which is better than mine, and I don’t actually wear glasses most of the time…)

  • Carstonio

    Do you mean that your nearsightedness/farsightedness/astigmatism was too severe for Lasik to correct?

  • hidden_urchin

    Nope. My vision is perfectly correctable. I suspect it’s a holdover from when surgery was less advanced. It’s possible the range correlates with a probability of future problems, but I’m just guessing. I remember ten or fifteen years ago a relative was advised not to get surgery because of the state of the tech.

  • John Alexander Harman

    Yeah. What I thought of was the godawful Dungeons and Dragons movie that came out thirteen years ago. That steaming pile of fewmets wasn’t just the result of a studio making a cheap, slapdash project to cash in on a trademark — it was an absolute labor of love by a tragically untalented writer/director who worked his heart out for seven years to get it made.

  • Jenny Islander

    Indeed. I love to write stories set in intricate imaginary worlds. It just plain feels good to create them. It’s my refuge and my comfort. But in 35 years of doing this, I have never finished a story longer than a couple of pages, and I doubt I ever will. And I understood long ago that my chances of ever making a penny at this are about as good as my chances of winning the lottery.

    I did sell a non-fiction article and a poem once. Made almost $100. My point still stands.

  • AnonaMiss

    Also, Watterson never had kids.

    It’s one thing to take a risk and live on a shoestring following the dream when no one is depending on you. It’s quite another when people are.

    Our parenting model is broken beyond repair.

  • FearlessSon

    Aye, I had myself sterilized in part because I wanted to be able to operate and plan without having someone dependent on me, such that I could take the risks I might have to.

    Hell, subsidization of family planning and child care services would probably go a long way toward making our economy more effective due to less financial disruption or time out of the workplace.

  • J_Enigma32

    *slow clap*

    Beautiful ad hominem.

    Now show me where I’m wrong. For every one successful person who made it you can show me, I can show you hundreds who didn’t. When your odds are 1 to a 100+, they’re not very good, now are they?

  • LoneWolf343

    That wasn’t an ad hominem. Hasty generalization, maybe, but not an ad hominem.

  • J_Enigma32

    Fair enough. I bit on “quasi-anarchist” and ran with it.

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

    Your spleening at J_Enigma does you no credit, considering that Watterson isn’t wrong about the way society pushespushespushesPUSHES people to run the treadmill of hoping they’ll make the magic leap to that wonderful and rare specimen of total job security with lots of money.

    CEOs, unfortunately, made sure only they and their buddies on their interlocking directorships had that.

    And Watterson could’ve just as easily washed out with his comics as become a success. Luck is as much a factor as skill.

  • smrnda

    I’m agreeing that luck has a lot to do with this – doing what you love is a luxury open to few people, and even trying that is a privilege of the very few.

    I get to do what I want a lot of the time owing to a lot of pure luck on my part. Maybe I made some good choices, but I had good options at critical moments in life, so yet again, more luck.

  • The_L1985

    I personally believe that if “what you love” isn’t something you can do well enough or profitably enough to survive on, you should relegate “what you love” to a hobby–BUT that people must then be allowed the opportunity to make enough money, with sufficient free time, that they can enjoy the hobbies that they love. This is something our society has become very, very bad at because of all the CEOs fucking it up for everybody else.

  • Shay Guy

    Additionally, David Willis has opinions on the Zen Pencils comic.

  • Lori

    Considering that neither Watterson nor Zenpencils ever mentioned selling out or it being evil to get paid for your art it would seem that David Willis has a button, someone who is not Watterson or Gavin Aunag Than pushed it and Willis responded in a rather misplaced way.

  • Fusina

    As someone who chose to be a stay at home mom so that I could also do my embroidery and beadwork without a “real” job to get in the way (Hah! I defy anyone to do anything but keep their eyes on a two year old bent on destruction). On the other hand, once they were in school, and also during naptimes (I got two hours most every afternoon to do my stuff) I like the advice. And the suggestion that sometimes, even if other people think you are a failure for not living up to the prevailing standards, you are a great success. I needed that comment today, I was feeling a bit down.

  • Lori

    One thing that Willis seems to have ignored is the wife in the Zenpencils cartoon. The dad is able to stay home and work on art that an advertising agency isn’t willing to pay for because the mom has an outside job. Money is clearly not evil, it’s just not being earned by the dad.

    I don’t think Gavin Aunag Than grappled in any meaningful way with the mom’s role either, but the fact that the dad’s freedom is being paid for by her labor is a big topic for a short cartoon.

  • Fusina

    I do occasional paying jobs, nothing like what I would need to support myself, although I am hoping that once I get my jewelry up and running it will support itself. We’ll see. If nothing else, I have increased the amount of beauty in the world, and that is something.

  • Lori

    My comment wasn’t a criticism of your choices. My only point was that everyone involved with the cartoon under discussion left out some important aspects of reality.

  • Fusina

    That is, unfortunately, one of the flaws in the cartoon/sound bite world. My husband works, I get to do my own thing. On the other hand, he was lucky enough to get a job he likes, in a field he likes, that pays enough to let me stay home, so all in all we are very lucky. He is lucky that I both like to cook and am very very good at it, I am lucky that he is a good provider of the means to do my crafting and volunteer work.

    And no, all that luck does not help us win the lottery. Buying a ticket might…but I’m not that lucky…or, based on what happens to people when the win, that unlucky. ;-)

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

    I have to admit my retirement plan involves the lottery, and winning it. :P

  • VMink

    Considering the way retirement plans and funds are tied to the markets, that’s depressingly not too far from the truth.

  • Elizabeth Coleman

    I was thinking that one of the points the comic was making is that it’s okay for the traditional roles to be switched, but yes, we have to assume that she’s happy with her profession, too.

  • Hexep

    Has there ever, though, at any time in human history, been a system where people could generally get jobs doing what they liked? Is this a problem with the current system, or has this been the sum total of our entire inheritance?

  • J_Enigma32

    Nope, but there are places that have come close, and there are places that do come close. I think it’s possible. I really do. I think it’s something worth pushing for.

    Like I said below, my thoughts here are in anger; not at Watterson and not at the advice but ultimately at the fact that what he presents should be true, but aren’t. The fact that he’s presenting it as being possible now are what makes it BS, but just because it’s wrong now doesn’t mean it isn’t something to push for and want.

  • Lori

    Nope, but there are places that have come close, and there are places that do come close.

    Which places?

  • J_Enigma32

    Scandinavia is the first thing that springs to mind (do pardon the pun). Paid vacation time, equal(ish) wages, universal healthcare, and other strong social nets to catch people if they attempt to try and make money doing something they want to but fail in the process are light years ahead of what the United States has.

    During the Spanish Civil War, the CNT-FAI, an anarchist/collectivist group, lead communes and collectivist syndicates that proved, in theory anyway, anarchism and anarcho-communism/libertarian socialism are things that are capable of functioning. If not for an extended period of time, anyway, because Franco happened to exist at around the same time…

  • guest

    I was just in Sweden last week at an academic conference, and was talking with one of the locals about why Scandinavia has such a high quality of life. ‘Welfare and equality,’ she flatly answered. But if you’ve been following the news you know Sweden’s been losing both–the socialist party was voted out of office, and since then although people’s taxes have been reduced every valued social indicator has dropped. Someone else said the Netherlands has been going in the same direction. I found this surprising, as I’d been led to believe it was only the English-speaking world that had fallen into the individualist/unregulated capitalist trap.

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

    The Swedes fell into it back in the ’90s as well, so I’m surprised they didn’t learn from history.

  • LoneWolf343

    It’s not so much that “they fell into it” so much as “a greedy minority wants their vice catered to, and are constantly pushing for it, no matter how obviously disastrous it is.”

  • mattmcirvin

    All of Europe seemingly fell for the “expansionary austerity” myth after the 2008 financial crisis. To a greater extent than the United States, believe it or not, though many of those countries had further to fall.

  • Lori

    During the Spanish Civil War, the CNT-FAI, an anarchist/collectivist
    group, lead communes and collectivist syndicates that proved, in theory
    anyway, anarchism and anarcho-communism/libertarian socialism are things
    that are capable of functioning.

    On a fairly small scale, for a short period of time. I’ve never seen anything that lead me to believe that anarchist/collectivism scales and I think it’s doubtful that it can last long-term on even a fairly small scale. I think that if we want to push back against the current dog-eat-dog version of capitalism we’re going to have to look to a different model.

    Sweden is more workable, but per guest’s post, even the Swedes aren’t currently successful at holding that.

  • J_Enigma32

    Well, yes. You’re right.

    I feel obliged to point out that Scandinavia is more than just Sweden, but if Sweden teaches us anything, it’s that getting there is hard but even harder than that is staying there and not falling back into old traps. Democracy (representative or direct) is notorious for that; it’s the worst form of government, except for every other forms of government.

    It depends on the scale you want as far as anarcho-collectivism goes; it existed in Catalonia and in the Ukraine as well, and the Free Territory was rather large. I’m not a supporter of anarchy by any means, but I do like the directing belief – “to each according to their need, from each according to their ability”, and think that should be what we the United States gear ourselves towards as far as a “work ethic” goes.

  • guest

    And the Nordic countries are more than Scandinavia–I was also in Finland last month, and although I didn’t chat much with the locals to ‘discover their secret’ Finland always gets top marks in quality of life league tables.

  • FearlessSon

    I think it is fair to say that some people did get to doing what they loved, and what they loved was amassing capital. Good for them, but unfortunately for everyone else the ones with the most capital get to define what “success”, and we are stuck competing in a system we never asked to be part of and are at the mercy of whether we enjoy it or not.

  • Antigone10

    I’m actually curious about the “Are the Gospels reliable” question, except I’d be more interested in the “Are the Gospels true?” Back when I was forced to be a Christian, I remember the apologics answer being something like “Only 4 original copies of the Iliad survive, but no one doubts that that was written by Homer, and no one doubts he’s the author*”. Although, that didn’t really answer my question because Homer was writing what we recognize to be a fictional story, or at least a heavily fictionalized version of events and you’re not supposed to be taking life lessons from it any more than any other book. The Bible is supposed to be True, capital “T”. I don’t care if Peter, Paul, John et all wrote it, I care if the events in actually happened and if the stuff is actually a good guide for living your life.

    *This is one of the most irritating thing about the pastors and preachers I had. They were wrong on the most random things on the planet. There is actually some debate on if Homer was a person, or a series of persons, or if the first Homer wrote the Iliad. It was just one of the many things that they were wrong about: evolution, other religion’s beliefs, infinity, et cetera. I don’t expect pastors to know everything, and in general people are going to make mistakes. But if you’re going to use some little factoid as a linchpin of your argument, at least make sure you’re right before you say it.

  • Steve Morrison

    I myself doubt the Iliad was written by Homer; I believe it was really written by someone else of the same name!

  • dpolicar

    > They were wrong on the most random things on the planet.

    This is unsurprising. If I start from the conclusion I want to support and choose arguments in defense of that conclusion based on how compelling they sound, I will typically find that actually doing research will uncover that my argument is completely wrong. This is true for any conclusion, because most statements are false.

    I generally have two choices at that point: give up reasoning backwards from my preferred conclusion or give up research. If I choose the latter, I will be wrong about a wide and arbitrary assortment of things.

  • Hexep

    Someone once got me to watch a Ravi Zacharias video, but I turned it off within 30 seconds when he told me how Rome conquered the Parthians, thus fulfilling the prophecy that an Empire would split into four parts before being re-united.

  • Turcano

    Oh, Ravi Zacharias. If you want a real headdesk experience, pick up The Lotus and the Cross sometime.

  • christopher_y

    Samuel Butler believed that the Odyssey was written by a woman who included the character of Penelope as a Mary Sue. I wish it was true, but I’m fairly sure it’s not.

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

    Back when I was forced to be a Christian, I remember the apologics
    answer being something like “Only 4 original copies of the Iliad
    survive, but no one doubts that that was written by Homer, and no one
    doubts he’s the author*”.

    Yeah, I remember getting that exact same bit of intellectual flotsam. I then went on to get my degree in history, wherein I learned that the first step in becoming a good historian is not trusting any single source. I developed a saying that if it wasn’t recorded it probably didn’t happen and if it was only recorded in one place it probably didn’t happen in that way.

    In the end, though, the comparing the Illiad to the Bible thing is a total red herring argument. It’s a pseudo-intellectual bit of balderdash that forces the people involved in the conversation to move off of something potentially uncomfortable for the apologist to something that the other person probably doesn’t have the knowledge or background information to refute.

    I would pick that argument apart in 10 second, but I’m trained. When I first heard it I was a high schooler who had never been taught to think critically about source material and was getting the argument from a trusted authority (my pastor) so I accepted it as a valid argument. Now I would hit back with the doubts about Homer’s existence above and then add in an additional argument that goes something like this:

    “So by that logic we’re supposed to believe any book that we have enough old copies of. Does this mean that since we can find first edition copies and, most likely, manuscript copies, of The Great Gatsby that we’re to believe that there was once a rich man who lived on Long Island and was shot by a man who mistakenly thought he was boinking the shooter’s wife and then killed her? The book is filled with accurate details of New York and the surrounding area at the time, so are we to believe that there actually is an East and West Egg and they’ve just been removed from the map or washed into Long Island Sound since then?”

    I’d assume the response would be something like, “But that’s a fictional book!” My response would be, “So’s the Illiad. What does that have to say about the Bible that that’s your point of reference?”

  • David_Evans

    The NRLC is being consistent – gay marriages seldom give rise to abortions.

  • Carstonio

    I vote for intersectional and wholistic. That’s based on the demagoguery that marriage equality “supports the break-up of the American family and supports the denial of a mother and father for children.” Both movements are fundamentally about enforcing a certain concept of gender roles.

  • banancat

    Yeah, that was my take on it. They both go against complementarian gender roles.

  • Hth

    Yeah, key word “enforcing.” Both safe, legal abortion and the ability of non-heterosexual women to marry one another really and truly do create a society where women have meaningful options about how to organize their own lives for their own happiness. This is straight-up terrifying to a certain set of people who believe — correctly! — that the only model for women’s lives that they can bear (the one Fred rather fantastically refers to as “God loves you and has a horrible plan for your wife”) will not do well in a free-market type arrangement. They feel — again, I think 100% correctly — that very few women will volunteer for lifelong housebound helpmeet status at the age of 18 if they have a fair range of options from which to choose, so an awful lot of what these people spend their time doing is trying to make every other option even worse.

  • otrame

    Re: Apologetics.

    As I find myself doing frequently, I’d like to recommend Steve Shives on Youtube. He does a lot of videos, mostly comedic commentary (I love his “Riffing on Mailcall” series and his “Five Stupid Things About…” series), but his “An Atheist Reads….” series is a serious survey of popular apologetics books. He discusses each chapter in books like “A Case for Christ” or “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” or his current one “The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict”. He uses extensive quotes from the works in question and I think portrays their argument as honestly as he can, then gives his own views. I highly recommend them all, to atheists and also to Christians who are not afraid to really look at such–which is most of the people who read Fred on a regular basis as far as I can tell from reading comments.

  • Hexep

    With regards to number 7, I’d love to hear what answers Robin Parry was given to the problem of evil.

  • Gregory Peterson

    On the #5 point, that reminds me of when Albuquerque’s Legacy Megachurch and a couple of Catholic anti-legal abortion groups brought Scott Lively here as a speaker for their 2009 conference. And the internet says: “The Celebrate Life, Family & Marriage Conference Sponsored by Project Defending Life, Legacy Church, Catholic Coalition of New Mexico and the Center for New Mexico Policy.”

    From “Dewey’s Cup.”

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    “…Also featured at the conference was Dr. Scott Lively, founder of Defend the Family and Redemption Gate Mission Society. Dr. Lively is the author of Redeeming the Rainbow and the Pink Swastika. Dr. Lively is on the top five “Most Dangerous” list by national homosexual and lesbian organizations. The audience at the conference
    was shocked and surprised as Dr. Lively unfolded the history of German homosexuals who founded the Nazi Party prior to Adolf Hitler. The expose highlighted the homosexual roots of German Fascism with warnings to America of ever increasing influence of homosexuals in American government, educational and commercial domains. These German Fascists were the first to establish national homosexual organizations in the United States…”

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:gYYwmmN87NgJ:deweysdailycup.blogspot.com/2009_10_01_archive.html+%22scott+lively%22+Steve+Smothermon%22&cd=12&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

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

    ???

  • Lori

    It’s like an Abercrombie & Fitch ad.

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

    “We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town.”

  • Gregory Peterson

    Pastor Steve Smothermon of Legacy is an influential homophobe here in New Mexico. Considering that he wears his bigotry on his sleeve, it was disconcerting to me, but apparently to no one else, that he was on the Police Oversight Committee.

    However, his love affair with law enforcement personnel seems to be souring.

    http://www.abqjournal.com/252479/news/sheriff-legacy-church-reach-impasse-houston-leaves.html

  • Gregory Peterson

    Pastor Smothermon believes that born again Christians like himself are God’s privileged nobility.

    “A noble birth is not to be taken lightly. It places an individual above
    the common man and carries a distinction of honesty and integrity.”

    http://www.tonycooke.org/free_resources/articles_others/at-your-core.html

  • Matri
  • Gregory Peterson
  • TheBrett

    5. They’re probably the same group of people in Ohio: conservative religious fanatics.

  • Bombalurina

    Thanks for the link love!
    Katie Mulligan

  • Oswald Carnes

    From no. 5:

    “any politician, including Portman, who supports the break-up of the American family and supports the denial of a mother and father for children has forfeited the right of support and endorsement of the prolife movement.”
    This is a good one for the “they don’t really believe abortion kills a baby” file. Even assuming that two people of the same sex getting married denies a mother and father to a child or children, surely actually murdering a child or children is worse. If, that is, they really do believe abortion kills a child.
    Trying to keep up with the way these people think is exhausting.