What about other Others?

Voting for the Christian round of the Turing Test is ongoing!   Get thee there if you haven't weighed in yet.  So, back to some of my undisguised opinions for a bit, as we wait for the survey results.  There's been a lot of commenting on the Natural vs Normative thread about homosexuality.  Benjamin Baxter of Prodigal No More just brought up a common philosophical argument against homosexuality that I want to take a minute to address.  He wrote: Stripping the procreative, only lea … [Read more...]

Let’s Talk About Privilege

The Turing Test is ongoing (two more entries going up today, and more through the week), but I want to interrupt that for a second to try to talk about privilege and sexism one more time. In the two posts about Rebecca Watson’s experience at an atheist conference, some discussions about whether women are being ‘oversensitive’ when we talk about privilege got tangled up in disputes over the way Rebecca had called out the people she disagreed with. Let me give a different example (that hasn’t been … [Read more...]

False Neutrality and Anorexia Mirabilis

In the wake of New York’s legalization of gay marriage (Excelsior!) and the Pride marches happening around the country, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at the article in last week’s New York Times Magazine about therapists who help gay Christians stay in the closet. Here’s how one therapist approached the problem: "Throckmorton’s approach was, first of all, not to argue. “If we try to subtly or directly advocate for our personal loyalties, then we’ve stopped doing the kind of th … [Read more...]

Update on Church Vandalism Fundraising

Hermant Mehta of Friendly Atheist has ended his atheist fundraiser to help two churches that were defaced by Flying Spaghetti Monster graffiti.  Both churches were able to do cleanup with their usual maintenance staffs, so Mehta donated the money raised, as promised, to the Foundation Beyond Belief.  I donated to his fund, and posted his fundraising widget on the blog, to allow other atheists to donate, but I was a little uncomfortable making a donation to a religious group; I never contribute to … [Read more...]

Trying to Love My Enemies

Just a cautionary note: trying to figure out how to love your enemies is something that can be totally appropriate to do from a long ways away.  If you are ever in severe physical or emotional danger from a person or community, your first priority should be escape.  Self-reflection can wait til you're safe.I'm not calling anyone to martyr themselves by enduring abuse for the sake of converting their tormentors or retaining a sense of righteousness or for almost any other reason.  Without the … [Read more...]

Call him Voldemort!

"Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things.  Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself"  -- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  I was dumbfounded by a "On the Square" feature at First Things this week.  Christopher Kaczor gave advice to Christian parents who aren't sure whether to have their children vaccinated against HPV and adopted the tone of someone teetering at the edge of a precipice.  After considering several approaches, Kac … [Read more...]

Sam Harris, Psychopaths, and Moral Culpability

Sam Harris is blogging about morality and free will, and one of his examples puts me in mind of our discussion about culpability, hate, and radical forgiveness.  Harris doesn't think free will is a coherent concept, but he doesn't see that fact as precluding any discussion of culpability.  I want to focus more on the example he provides than his explanation, but, for the sake of completeness, here's what he has to say: What does it really mean to take responsibility for an action? For instance, … [Read more...]