The Uncharity of Ideological Containment


There's an unpleasant undertone to Terry Firma's vision of a kinder, humbler Christianity over at Friendly Atheist.  He reads through an essay from The New York Times about a Christian parent's discomfort when her daughter wants to put an evangelical sign on their lawn.  The author talks about her immediate flinch, and Firma thinks that's all to the good. Along with that gratitude, there’s a bit of embarrassment woven through Taylor’s account, and I think it becomes her. She knows that her belie … [Read more...]

Pulling Off Casual Proselytization

chatting nun

In this week's installment of the Pope Francis bookclub, the then-Archbishop talked about "missionary joy" that invites people in to learn the source.  I was reminded of a nun who recently gave a talk in D.C. on Spe Salvi.  In her talk. she mentioned being asked on the street, "What is the reason for your joy?"When people ask a habited nun this question, they've got a reasonable guess as to what kind of answer they're going to get.  I'm less sure what to do when I get a similar qu … [Read more...]

An Inheritance of Joy [Pope Francis bookclub]


In 2014, I'm reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio's Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I'll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you're welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.After the introductions, the prefaces, and the translator's notes, the first two words I read by Pope Francis were "Apostolic joy."His reflections on living the Christian faith begins with this sentence: Apostolic joy is nourished b … [Read more...]

Inviting Someone to Debate a Person, Not an Ideology

doonesbury double negative single

Scott of Slate Star Codex has a good essay up that was prompted by the whole Duck Dynasty fracas.  Phil Robertson's comments on homosexuality aren't a first amendment issue; it was A&E that might be firing him for his speech, not the government cracking down, but Scott points out that, for speech to flourish, we need protections beyond legal guarantees: Constitutional freedom-of-speech is a necessary but not sufficient condition to have a “marketplace of ideas” and avoid de facto cens … [Read more...]

What is your opponent trying to protect?

For context, click the image

Brendan Hodge of Darwin Catholic has shared his approach to judging and competing in this year’s Ideological Turing Test. He had planned to write a secularized version of himself in the atheist round, but revised his plans when he discovered that polyamory was a good deal more popular among libertarian atheists than he expected. So now I had a problem: It seemed like if I wanted to write a fairly mainstream atheist piece for the Turing Test, I needed to argue in favor of polyamory. However, I m … [Read more...]

One-Sided Turing Tests and Privilege

glass wall

Next week, the second half of this year's Ideological Turing Test opens, and, in the meantime, PEG has come up with an interesting connection between Ideological Turing Tests and what I like calling 'reverse dog whistles' (someone please help me come up with a better name).In rhetoric, a dog whistle is a way to say something that seems innoucuous to most of your audience, but carries a message to a core group of supporters.  Think of businesses that include a small Jesus fish in their ads, o … [Read more...]

Come Pick a Useful Fight with me in NYC

Oh, were we speaking of piercing rhetorical armor?  My mistake

This weekend, I'm in New York City for the alumni debate of my college group, and while I'm in town, I'll be giving a talk on productive ways to have arguments this Saturday (August 10th)  at an event cohosted by the NYC Less Wrong meetup group and Ergo (a rationalist group).Now, if by productive arguments, you mean quick and dirty ways to win, I think you may be a bit more interested in Words that Work or The Strategy of Conflict.  But when there's a difference of opinion, at least one of yo … [Read more...]