But if you look twice …

But if you look twice … May 2, 2012

“From now on all generations will call me blessed — I’m the one that’s cool.”

“The Amish man’s name was Umry, or at least that’s what we called him. At some point in his life he had developed an affinity for the Browns.”

Thank you for affirming my preconceived notions on that subject.” (Also.)

“I think we should all fight hard for what we believe in, but I’d like to put in a request for some general slack-cutting.”

“Theodicy has always been the root problem of Christian theology, orthodox or heterodox. There’s no getting around that.”

“We probably won’t be able to change the national discourse on taxes, infrastructure, education, government investment, technology policy, transportation, welfare, or our future prospects as a country until we can effectively convince the country of the monumental wrongness of this one core point.”

“Many Americans — in particular those who are white and middle-aged or older — remember growing up in a far more homogeneous place than the present. The sense of mourning for — and the desire to restore — that world is powerful, as is the fear of what is to come in the new, far more diverse America.” (via AZspot)

“I have it on very good authority that the Heritage Foundation wants you to die.”

“In the first two years after ‘Obamacare’ was signed, Medicare reforms in the law saved seniors a total of $3.4 billion in prescription drug costs by bridging a coverage gap, according to official figures.”

“I think of Mr. Knight and how he helped so many kids navigate through high school and the horror that is being a teenager.”

“A prominent thread running through the narratives of my gay brothers and sisters is a church that no longer values them.”

“Harris, that wasn’t a born again experience you had way back when, it was your soul withering away to nothing shortly after you took your conscience around behind the barn and shot it.”

John Shore’s petition for Christians affirming the goodness of same-sex relationships now has more than 2,000 signatures.

(Happy 27th birthday to Lily Allen.)


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  • caryjamesbond

    In re: the daily show article.
    I’ve always wondered why it is that we claim that race, gender, sexuality, disability, age and religion don’t matter and we shouldn’t use those to judge people, but as soon as someone disagrees with us about gun control, or the PATRIOT act, or closing GITMO, or Bush’s presidency, or  they’re the seventh son of the seventh son of Satan. 

  • Antigone10

    Yeah, I’m the one with family and friends who hold the exact opposite beliefs of mine and are still good, decent people.  Either they have real problems with cognitive dissonance, or I do.

  • WingedBeast

    I love my father.  I consider him to be an intelligent man.  But, when I told him I was reading “What happened” by Scott Mclellan, he asked if he was that “bitter” man… because that was the single talking point everybody on Fox News had been using to describe him.

    Somewhere along the line, there is a point where we’re all more willing to accept certain statements than others.  Everybody is more willing to believe statements that are supposed to be true than those that aren’t.  This doesn’t make us bad people.  It does, however, mark a difference in cultures when you find a group, almost as a whole, finds researching your claims to be a failing.

    By the way, on the Theodicy issue, it may be my atheism speaking.  But, does the book of Genesis truly paint God as the good guy?  The article said that the origin of evil was the serpent.  But, he’s the one that told the truth “You will become as God, knowing good and evil.”  God is the one who said they would die that very day and then, after they ate the apple, set a flaming sword around the tree of life to make sure they would eventually die.  If anybody’s sticking up for the right of the little guy to live the richer life of knowledge, it was the serpent.  If anybody was being a cruel and manipulative overlord, it was God.

  • aunursa

    “I would hope that we could set up a system that allows those who can go through their employer to access a federal system or a state pool of some sort. But I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out or 15 years out or 20 years out where we’ve got a much more portable system.”
    — Senator Barack Obama, March 2007

    “Let me be exactly clear about what health care reform means to you. First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.  Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”  
    — President Barack Obama, July 2009

    “And there are a lot of very deceiving headlines out there right now, such as this one … ‘Obama Explains How His Health Care Plan Will Eliminate PRIVATE Insurance.’ Well, nothing can be farther [sic] from the truth. So what happens is that … they take a phrase here and there — they simply cherry-pick and put it together, and make it sound like he’s saying something that he didn’t really say.”
    Linda Douglass, Director of Communications for the White House Office of Health Reform, August 2009

    Fortune 100 Survey: Employers could save $422 billion by dropping workers from health plans, report says
    –May 2012

    A new report “sheds light on how Obamacare incentivizes employers to dump their workers onto the new law’s subsidized exchanges…” 

  • caryjamesbond

    As my grandfather would say…

    And what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

  • Lori

     I’m not going to defend painting people as entirely evil, because most aren’t. I do think it’s often easier to like someone who holds and advocates for mean-spirited, harmful ideas when you don’t have to spend much time with them and when you are with them you always have the upper hand. For example because you’re a field producer for a national TV show filming for a few hours at most.

    If you met my family you’d probably like most of  them because they’re mostly very nice people. That is, you’d like them until you spent enough time with them to run afoul of one of the (sadly numerous) areas where they are decidedly not nice.

  • A propos of the health insurance debate, note the date on the article.

    The USA has been having a go at this insurance fixing thing now for something like 40 years and the plain fact is that the private-insurance industry has enough financial muscle to delay, defang and bog down any meaningful attempt at wholesale changes.

    Even Cigna admits it.

  • Wait. You really don’t see how race/gender/etc. are different from political positions?

    Which set of items do people choose for themselves?

  • Speaking of “self-made men”? Ross Perot got rich, in part, through access to lucrative government contracts back in the 1970s.

  • Because the people who go absolutely frothing batshit over gun control are usually the ones who associate control and security with owning a lethal weapon rather than over safer and less dangerous forms of obtaining self-confidence.

    It is probably also because of the never-quite-sure-if-disproven urban legend regarding penis substitutes for displaying manhood.

  • What you wrote made no sense.


    What you wrote seems to be this:

    “We claim people shouldn’t judge other people by race, gender, sexuality, disability, age or religion. But if somone holds different political views then we do, then we do judge them.”

    To which I can only reply “Well, yes. That because (partially excluding religion) all of the first list of things are not choices, and most of those things are irrelevant factors in judging personality or character. Knowing someone is female, or of Asian descent, does not tell us anything about their values.”

    Gender is not a reliable indicator of personality or values or character. Wanting to detain persons indefinitely without trial or due process and subject them to torture on the barest of suspiciouns is a pretty good indicator of values.

    If I want to judge if a person would appreciate my flirting or romantic attentions, sexuality is one valid criteria for that judgement. If I want to judge if a person on anything non-sexual, it’s inappropriate to consider their sexuality. I wouldn’t think this to be that hard, but obviously, it is because people have stereotypes tied to race, gender, sexuality, disability, and age that are unrelated to those traits.

    On the other hand, if someone says “I think G.W. Bush’s presidency was good for the U.S.”, that’s a value statement. If someone says “I think the U.S. should be allowed to detain people without due process and ‘violently interrogage’ them without any public accountability”, that too is a value statement.  Remarks like that are an insight into the content of their character and should be used to make judgements about their persons.

    What I’m hoping the lesson is: People are complex and can hold different views and still be moral actors

    …they can still be moral actors in some areas, but that doesn’t negate those arenas where they are in the wrong. It doesn’t matter how much you donate to charity, or that you dress up as Santa in the Christmas parade if your homophobia and bigotry contribute to the suicide or murder of a gay teen. I don’t care how nice you are to cats & dogs & babies if you have a crawlspace packed with dead bodies.

  • Tricksterson

    On the second article, just want to say that if you’ve never watched The Guild, I highly reccomend it.

  • Absolutely this Chris.

    Here’s the difference summed up real quick:

    Being gay does not hurt anyone.  Being black does not hurt anyone.  Being female does not hurt anyone.  So on and so forth.  Existing as a human being on this planet does not hurt anyone in and of itself.

    Trying to deny rights to LGTB people?  FUCKING HURTS PEOPLE.

    Racial profiling?  FUCKING HURTS PEOPLE.

    Gender discrimination? FUCKING HURTS PEOPLE.

    Not giving a shit about people’s healthcare or well-being?  FUCKING HURTS PEOPLE.

    So no, I’m not going to cut a goddamn bit of slack just because some horrid person happens to have a charming personality.

    *edit* I’d intended this to be *brief* so I cut out some of my unnecessary ranting.

  • Jenny Islander

    Here’s how I see it:

    The First People, who regularly walk and talk with the Creator, are told not to partake of two qualities they do not yet have: knowledge of good and evil and eternal life.  The Tempter gets them to acquire knowledge of good and evil, at which point their first conclusion with their shiny new faculty is: Holy crap, we’re naked!

    Why naked?  To people who do not appear in public unclothed, nakedness means vulnerability.  So the first consequence of knowledge of good and evil is the awareness of vulnerability.  The second consequence arises from the first: the First People hide from the being with whom they had formerly walked and talked; their fear swamps their experience of the Creator.  The third is that suffering is now possible.  It has been observed that animals, and humans with certain brain injuries or malformations, can feel pain and sadness, but they cannot suffer as neurotypical humans do because their minds do not anticipate what may or must come next.  So First Man has to grub and sweat and break his back just to survive, and he knows it, and First Woman gives birth “in sorrow,” because she can anticipate all of the bad possibilities now.  The fourth consequence, whose expanding ripples are chronicled in the following chapters of Genesis, is the inescapable tendency for human beings to either use one another in an attempt to fend off their fears or identify one another as obstacles to assorted plans to achieve security. 

    So did they become like gods, as the Tempter promised?  Yes, they gained a greater consciousness, but they also became inescapably conscious of how puny and weak human beings are in the presence of the powers of the cosmos.  And if they had eaten from the second tree as well?  The obvious next step is to invoke Godwin’s Law, but I am willing to be that everyone reading here knows an ordinary person who did horrible things all hir life until zie either died suddenly or grew less and less capable of enacting hir will and then died.  What if that person had never died, never even aged?  And zie was not some other species; zie was just expressing the range of human possibilities.

    To paraphrase Churchill, senescence leading to death is the absolute worst thing that could happen to humanity in this mortal world–except for eternal vigor.

  • friendly reader

    It’s up to 2220 with me; for some reason the petition wants my postal code even though I live overseas, and my water bill arrived yesterday to remind me what it even was. (They’re longer than the ones I used in the states)

    I considered putting the petition on FB directly, but I don’t have enough friends who are both Christian and fully LGBT-supporting  to make it much more than a self-aggrandizing tribal gesture; I’ll send it around in email to those who do fit in that overlap, though.

  • WingedBeast

    What you have there is a *lot* of additions you, the reader, are making to the story in order so that the interpretation of the story comes out right.

    And, in terms of interpreting stories, it’s worth noting that the serpent is only a symbol of evil in the Abrahamic tradition, and not necessarily all of that.  Other cultures of the same area and timeframe held tradition of the serpent as a symbol of learning and wisdom, the serpent being a teacher.

    Even ignoring cultural context and ignoring the fact that one is most often expected to have a specific interpretation in mind before even starting to read the bible (that God is morally perfect or even that his actions are morally acceptable) one doesn’t necessarily come to the conclusion that the serpent is a lieing temptor.

    The story goes that God tells mankind “Do not partake of the fruit or you will die that very day.”  The serpent tells mankind “if you partake of the fruit, you will not die that very day, but will become like God knowing good and evil.”  God finds out and does not say “behold man has died for a metaphorical value of death that isn’t identified in the story but mankind *totally* understood.”  No, God says “Man has become like us, knowing good and evil.”

    What’s more, according to the story the suffering mankind and the suffering of womankind and the mortality… none of this is incidental.  God specifically acts in order to make suffering happen.  He curses mankind, curses womankind, and then commands them to multiply more cursed children.

    You not only have to add to the story in order to make it come out the way you want it, you also have to subract.

    If you look at the story of Adam and Eve without the prior requirement that the story come out with God as the good guy, you have to wonder whether God or the serpent was acting rightly.  All you really know about the story is that the one in power wanted Adam and Eve to remain ignorant.  The one who taught them and told them the truth was punished.

    To go “explaining” this story always involve changing it, in some how.

  • Münchner Kindl

    About the Daily Show article: I have no problem declaring people who advocate hurtful politics – either directly or indirectly by supporting certain parties and pundits – as hateful and not-nice, even if they are very nice to their (white, straight) neighbours.

    Fred just had an article about how calling for “civil discourse” while advocating discrimination was wrong, not because civil discourse is wrong, but because it’s necessary to call a spade a spade and a hateful bigot a bigot.

    About the new book: this is just preaching to the choir. Anybody who knows life is different away from the suburbs or read more than an Ayn Rand book knows the role infrastructure etc. plays to make people succeed. But you can’t argue a person out of a position they haven’t argued themselves into in the first place. Right-wingers believe the self-made myth not because the facts support it (they don’t) but because it fits their own narrative to be a self-made person obliged to nobody, and that one day they, too, can become millionaires if they want to (and work hard enough). And that the poor deserve it fits into just world fallacy – people want to believe it, because it’s to scary to live in an unjust world where decent people can become poor in a heart blink though no fault of their own.

  • * A strong regulatory environment that protected their businesses from being undercut by competitors willing to cut corners, and ensured that their manufacturing inputs are of consistently high quality. Glynn Lloyd of Boston’s City Fresh Foods points out that nobody in the food business can get by without reliable sources of clean water; and that the USDA inspection process is an important piece of his quality control.

    I don’t get why more people don’t realize that clean water is not magically clean just because, but is clean and reliable from a tap because that evil government spent a lot of money making it that way, often local governments using grants from state or federal governments to help make it happen.

    * Enforceable copyright and intellectual property laws that enabled them to protect good ideas. Abigail Disney recalls that her father, Roy Disney, and her Uncle Walt made and lost one great cartoon character — Oswald the Rabbit — because they didn’t have copyright protection. They didn’t repeat that mistake when Mickey Mouse was born three years later, launching the Disney empire.

    Yes, they didn’t repeat that mistake so well that Disney has been one of the driving forces behind longer and longer copyrights. (>_>)

    One could argue that a human problem is to overcompensate for a mistake made in the past and not realizing new mistakes can be made in the process. People always complain about OMG regulations stifling everything in the 1960s and 1970s, and assume liberals never learned from that.

    It can basically be argued that regulation, while a necessary force to
    try and get the US economy moving in the 1930s and a war won in the
    1940s, needed to adapt and change for a peacetime economy and this
    wasn’t fully understood until it was too late and Reagan came along with
    his silly homilies and simplistic tax rhetoric and his Cold Warrior
    attitude and now everybody thinks it’s just baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.

    That, however, is not really true: at least some liberals did learn how to better regulate industry and commerces.

    Regulations work better when they focus on getting results and not the process of getting them. An example is how CAFE works. Instead of specifying exactly how cars shall get good mileage, CAFE simply sets overall average standards for the auto industry and leaves it up to them how they shall achieve that goal.

    Incidentally, CAFE was invented in the 1970s, so even some of those nasty regulation-lovin’ librulls even back then knew the better regulation methods tended to involve asking for results achievable rather than on process.

  •  Not to mention, there’s all that stuff about the second tree, the Tree of Life, and God’s fear that if mankind stretched forth its hand a second time and ate of the second tree, mankind would be as powerful as the gods.

  • Tonio

    How did the originators of the story view the morality of the god’s and serpent’s actions? I don’t necessarily mean how modern Jewish scholars interpret it. Cultures past and present have assumptions that those living in them take for granted, things that may not be obvious to people from other cultures. Without knowing those assumptions, we may be like the hapless archeologists of “Motel of the Mysteries,” simply guessing at the original interpretation.

  • MaryKaye

    I have twice seen Pagan groups do rituals in which participants accepted and participated in Eve’s choice, seeing it as a part of our species’ growing up process.  (It was Eve specifically both times, perhaps because many strands of Paganism are fairly female-centric, or just because Eve makes the initial decision.)  So it’s certainly possible to interpret the myth that way and find value in it.

    My own theology says that without evil there would be nothing resembling humans–something else could exist, but we couldn’t.  One then has to ask, were humans worth having?  Are we valuable?  To the extent that I believe in a creative deity at all, I think that deity must reckon us valuable inherently, as we are; not valuable only for a perfection which we do not achieve and which in fact would remove our humanness.

    Which is not to say that we aren’t to struggle against evil.  Our identities as good humans are shaped by that struggle.  It’s more that the creative powers made the same choice I make whenever I write a story.  Something has to be wrong, or there is no story to tell.

    This is cruel, to be sure.  I think realistic views of deity have to include some degree of cruelty, because the world is cruel, and there’s no way a creator can shift the blame onto the creation for that.  (Really, I do not think T. rex used those teeth to crack coconuts!)

    If we are loved, I believe we are loved for *what we are*.  We are not failed attempts at something else.  Free will came with the package and I don’t think free will is even meaningful without the potential for doing wrong.  But people without free will would seem worse in a very fundamental way, even if their actions were always what we would consider virtuous.

    I don’t understand humanism as a philosophical movement very well, but perhaps this makes me a Pagan humanist.  I hold as an article of faith that humans have inherent value, and I won’t respect a god who doesn’t agree.

  • Tonio

     Sounds like a theological version of the broader idea that being human means having not just sentience but also the capability of moral choice. (Although it’s reasonable to suspect that dolphins and chimps might also have that capability.) 

    I find it confusing when some theologies postulate gods aas the opposite of humans, a perfection/imperfection dichotomy, or an binary choice of either “God” or “man.” It might have been Isaac Newton who suggested that this originated when humans first created fire and saw that celestial sources of light appeared to be perfect while earthly or human-created ones did not. Polytheistic theologies don’t seem to have this dichotomy, with gods with some degree of human fallibility.

  • christopher_young

    At what point in history did the serpent get to be identified with the devil/satan/whoever? Because there’s no suggestion in Genesis that the serpent is the [sententious music]Source of All Evil[/sententious music]. It’s arguably just a character in an animal story, but perhaps more plausibly a trickster like Coyote.

  • AnonymousSam

    First century BCE, in the Book of Wisdom (2:23-24).

    God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.

  • All you really know about the story is that the one in power wanted Adam and Eve to remain ignorant.  The one who taught them and told them the truth was punished.

    That’s a common theme found in many religions. Prometheus brought fire to humans, and was punished for it eternally because the gods were jealous and scared. In ancient religions, most gods were not good, and for that matter, most were not worshiped all that much. You just hoped the gods didn’t notice you and you worshiped your ancestors or hearth spirits or local earth goddess.  

  • Delurker

     Alright aunursa, man. We’ll talk to you later, ok?

  • MaryKaye

    The story about Mr. Knight made me cry.

    I had a great teacher in high school, teaching Economics–a subject I thought I would hate, but he made it interesting, forced me to think about it, pinned me to my naive young libertarian ideas.

    He was a black man, the only one in the school as far as I know–it was a very white neighborhood.

    He was accused of sexual harassment of some of his female students, and made to leave.  I can’t know whether the stories were true.  I never met anyone who said anything bad about him (except that his class was way too hard) but I wasn’t very social in high school.  And there are people who are predatory in some contexts and not in others.  But what I thought at the time was, he was black and he was demanding and political and made people think, and someone didn’t like that.  He gave the “in” people bad grades, and someone didn’t like that.

    I never saw him again.  I don’t remember his name–I am terrible at names–I wish I did.

    To the extent that I can think clearly about politics, I owe a lot of it to him.  He slapped down my knee-jerk first responses and made me really work on my views.  I wish I could thank him.

  • Raj1point618

    ZOMG, Fred is a fellow Lily Allen fan! Why am I not surprised?

    *happy dance*

    k, I’m going to read the article now, after listening to “LDN” just one more time.  Umm, actually, I think I need to listen to the entire “Alright, Still” album before taking further action.