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  1. isn’t this guy the douche who had the flu and spit on like repub orgs doorknobs? and got arrested cos iowa has harsh intentional disease transmission laws? cant renmember and too sronk to gooogle. problaly shouldn’t comnemt. did itanyways lol

    Comment by BrianReno — April 28, 2012 @ 3:20 am - April 28, 2012

  2. Dan, only Fox is reporting it because BEFORE this, only Focus on the Family was reporting it. The facts are very much in question.

    That said, I will echo what Thers said on the subject a few minutes ago:

    “But then, to keep perspective.

    Name the teenager who commited suicide because of a profound shame at being, deep down, a Christian.

    Go ahead.”

    It’s one thing to “respect a person’s Christianity,” but another thing entirely to “respect their bigotry, which they hide behind their Christianity.”

    Here is Thers’s post: http://whiskeyfire.typepad.com/whiskey_fire/2012/04/strictly-comedy.html

    Comment by Evan Hurst — April 28, 2012 @ 3:34 am - April 28, 2012

  3. Brian, Savage WAS the guy who said he had licked doorknobs and joined Gary Bauer’s campaign in the Iowa caucuses to pass the flu on to Bauer and his staff, but he was actually arrested for fraudulently voting in the caucus.

    Savage is also the guy who has set out to make “Santorum” a very dirty sexual term (then demanded Santorum give $5M to a gay marriage organization); he pitched a fit about pastor Rick Warren’s support of Prop 8, and took the name of his church – Saddleback Church – and coined the term “saddlebacking” as yet another dirty sexual term.

    He also said that he wished a Green Party candidate in Pennsylvania would be “dragged behind a truck by a rope until there’s nothing left but the rope.” AND, he went on Bill Maher’s show (color me shocked) and said that he wished “the Republicans were all [bleeping] dead.”

    For a man who claims his mission is to put a stop to bullying, he sure is pretty damn mean to people who are different from him.

    Comment by Mel Maguire — April 28, 2012 @ 3:43 am - April 28, 2012

  4. I’m sure it gets better when you stop considering yourself a victim and let go of your hatred. I’m sure that is why people like Dan Savage seem unhappy; he seems to think of himself as a victim of Christians and their inherent homophobia or something, and he hates them for their imaginary (in some cases) homophobia.

    At some recent point in my life, I sort of change into a different person in a way. I discovered that taking responsibility for your actions and not blaming them on other people (or things) gives you self-respect. Before then, I was always trying to justify my misdeeds and it left me in depression. It is empowering to be able to genuinely respect yourself, and I’ve been much happier since then. In other words, I believe that ingenuine victims have only themselves to blame for most of their problems (and everyone faces adversity, so there aren’t very many excuses).

    I wrote a post on my blog about public nudity, which I’ll just say was potically incorrect, and I subsequently had a discussion with a nudist. It was interesting, and, for the most part, civil, and while I didn’t abandon my opposition to nudism, I ended up regretting some of the things I said (or, more accurately, the way I said them, which was quite inflammatory for me). It is pretty hard to compare my anecdote to this incident (actually, extremely hard), but my point is that I feel better upon divorcing my prejudice/opposition (which may be rational in some ways) from hatred/ridicule (or the general idea of superiority with no empirical basis). If Dan Savage can use this incident as a means by which to grow personally, I predict he will be less bitter upon doing so.

    Finally, I think the “It Gets Better” campaign is ill-conceived. I would say that it gives people an easy way out of their problems (i.e. just riding them out), and one that will ultimately leave them unsolved, when they could be more proactive about overcoming them (for good). In addition, I believe suicide of gay teens (and other things) might not be such a problem if children’s self-esteem wasn’t given so much importance by their parents and teachers. If your self-worth is based more upon other things, bullying probably wouldn’t have such a profound effect. That is my hypothesis, anyway.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — April 28, 2012 @ 4:03 am - April 28, 2012

  5. But, of course, I’m giving Savage too much credit. Way too much. His mind is in the sewer (or maybe up (someone’s something), given his apparent obsession with sex).

    Comment by Rattlesnake — April 28, 2012 @ 4:08 am - April 28, 2012

  6. “Name the teenager who commited suicide because of a profound shame at being, deep down, a Christian.”

    This is because Christianity and Christian beliefs are something learned, not inherited genetically.

    But if you must:
    Dad links son’s suicide to ‘The God Delusion’
    http://www.wnd.com/2008/11/81459/

    Comment by Tim in MT — April 28, 2012 @ 4:08 am - April 28, 2012

  7. #2 Evan, if the report is accurate, and Dan Savage did engage in this little tantrum, he had no way of knowing if ANY of those kids in the audience (who were there for a freaking journalism convention, not a revival) were Christian at all, or if they were the kind of Christians that he feels cause kids to commit suicide, so as far as he knew no one there was guilty of any bigotry at all.

    He was there to discuss his anti-bullying campaign in the context of it’s impact via social media but instead (according to the report) he went on a rant about the Bible and started doing to his audience, exactly what he claims he’s trying to stop- Bullying. I’m a big supporter of gay rights & I think the “It Gets Better” videos have been a great thing for gay youth, but from his past behavior, I can totally believe he’d go off on a room full of kids to make himself feel righteous. Because, ultimately, Dan Savage is a self-important douche bag who thinks that because he’s gay he should get a pass on being a jerk.

    And, the issue is not whether or not any kids ever killed themselves because they were ashamed of being Christian, the issue is that bullying is wrong no matter who is on the receiving end of it. Just because we haven’t had a bunch of Christian kids committing suicide, does that then make it’s ok to mock their faith, call them ugly names and humiliate them? Is it ok to bully Christian kids because, hey, we all know they don’t have any problems in their lives, right? What about Christian kids who deeply love their faith but are also gay? Do they just get bullied on Sunday? And, in case you were wondering, no, I’m not a Christian.

    Comment by Kristie — April 28, 2012 @ 4:28 am - April 28, 2012

  8. Evan

    Maybe I’m missing the point of being opposed to bullying, but isn’t bullying bad no matter what the consequences are? I mean I know it wasn’t a big deal for Savage when bullying was just making the lives of social misfits miserable and it wasn’t a big deal for Savage when it drove ridiculed students to go on shooting rampages at school and he only became concerned when the suicides of gay kids started becoming a popular news story, but I sort of come at this from the point of view that bullying is bad whether it results in suicide or not and whether it is against a gay kid or not.

    Are there many Christians contemplating suicide because they are ridiculed for their faith? Probably not. Did that make it ok for Savage to say what he did? Was it ok to accuse all Christians of being bad people, to vilify their faith and then, when some high school students had had enough of his bigoted rant, to attack them with profane taunts as they walk away?

    This behavior is completely indefensible and the fact that the 47 year old founder of the “it gets better” project is the one hurling homophobic taunts at a bunch of teenagers is just the height of hypocrisy.

    The guy is filled with venom. I hope he has found some happiness in his private life because he seems like a very unpleasant, angry man in public.

    Comment by Jimmy — April 28, 2012 @ 8:22 am - April 28, 2012

  9. Thanks, Dan (Blatt), for this post. The event is getting scant media coverage.

    Dan Savage is a vainglorious, self-promoting, anti-Christian bully who needs to find himself on the “bottom” end of a curb stomp.

    The whole “It Gets Better” series is nothing but empty feel-goodism meant to make liberals seem high and mighty in their caring. All it really does, though, is tell gay kids to wait for some day in the future when people stop being mean to them. Sorry little ‘mos, but that’ll never happen until you make it happen.

    May I suggest a “Man Up, You Twinkle-toes Little Sissy” project that encourages bullied gay kids to knock their bully in the nose (with a fist, not a slap). THAT might effect some change.

    Comment by Brendan Kissam — April 28, 2012 @ 9:08 am - April 28, 2012

  10. It was completely inappropriate to put Dan Savage in front of a crowd of high school students. Savage is someone you can have students read about, but to put him in front of a young group not knowing what he might say was a mistake. He has a clear history that should have easily removed him from the list of possibilities as a speaker. He is nothing more than a bully himself – immature, unable to communicate to people that are different than himself, and an obvious bigot. He holds a B.A. in theatre. He is not a journalist. He is simply a big-mouthed queer.

    Comment by Scott Lassiter — April 28, 2012 @ 9:29 am - April 28, 2012

  11. Dan Savage are like all Leftists: Unhappy turds with chips on their shoulders. Nothing makes them happy because they are not happy within.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — April 28, 2012 @ 9:41 am - April 28, 2012

  12. The really sad part is that this incident will only raise Savage’s stock with the Christian-hating media and gay left; as he is well aware.

    Comment by V the K — April 28, 2012 @ 10:05 am - April 28, 2012

  13. I looked around the various blogs and internet. Articles listed the scene with a group of students not a hundred. And there are reports that most of the participants loved the keynote.

    It was also reported that Savage aoologized.

    Comment by rusty — April 28, 2012 @ 10:06 am - April 28, 2012

  14. #7
    ***
    if the report is accurate, and Dan Savage did engage in this little tantrum, he had no way of knowing if ANY of those kids in the audience (who were there for a freaking journalism convention, not a revival) were Christian at all, or…
    ***

    So, hurling homophobic insults at a crowd of people is okay as long as you are not sure any of the people in the crowd are homosexual? Is saying most rape victims asked for okay as long as you don’t know if any of the people in the crowd are rape victims? How does not knowing the personal circumstances of you your audience make these types of rants okay?

    Comment by tnnsne1 — April 28, 2012 @ 10:14 am - April 28, 2012

  15. I have always seen the “It Gets Better” videos as another exercise in liberal self-indulgence; a supposedly charitable activity in which the participant makes no sacrifice, takes no risk, and receives nothing but ego stroking about how brave and compassionate they are.

    These activists so concerned about teen suicide and reparative therapy seem curiously uninterested in another phenomenon that takes the lives of young people; Islamist honor killings. .Of course, showing concern about that would mark you as a “bigot” and possibly get you killed. It’s so much safer to bash Christians, knowing your lefty pals will high-five and the worst Christians will do is pray for you.

    There is no video movement telling young Muslim girls “it gets better,” because as long as Christian-hating liberals are in charge, it probably won’t.

    Comment by V the K — April 28, 2012 @ 10:22 am - April 28, 2012

  16. Gina Miller cetainly has a lovely retort over at Renew America
    http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/miller/120425

    Comment by rusty — April 28, 2012 @ 10:27 am - April 28, 2012

  17. Free speech is a wonderful thing.

    Give someone enough rope, and all that.

    Comment by sonicfrog — April 28, 2012 @ 10:30 am - April 28, 2012

  18. Heh. Standard leftist defensive tactic #12. Focus on irrelevant details to detract from the focus of the story. In this case, dispute details over the description of the crowd size and response in order to distract attention from Savage’s obnoxious, hate-filled remarks.

    Comment by V the K — April 28, 2012 @ 10:31 am - April 28, 2012

  19. Just one more example of how this “It Gets Better” project is Savage’s own personal excuse to bully those he hates. He is no better than the those bullying gay kids.

    Comment by Robert — April 28, 2012 @ 10:31 am - April 28, 2012

  20. Comment by tnnsne1 — April 28, 2012 @ 10:14 am – April 28, 2012

    —–

    Good catch, Tnnsne1, and kudos on your refutation. We note the left has been caught doing this quite a bit, lately; telling audiences they presume to be friendly things they would not say to a broader audience. I wonder how many “Kill Whitey” speeches have been made at Black Panther meetings before the Trayvon Martin incident made them slip up and say it in public.

    Comment by V the K — April 28, 2012 @ 10:36 am - April 28, 2012

  21. Comment by Robert — April 28, 2012 @ 10:31 am – April 28, 2012

    ———————

    I’d say Savage is worse, since he is cynically exploiting teenage suicide to advance his own career.

    Comment by V the K — April 28, 2012 @ 10:37 am - April 28, 2012

  22. because Dan Savage is a bitter, angry Professional Homosexual. He would have no job if life for gays improves. He is dependent on victimization.

    Comment by Church Mouse Republican — April 28, 2012 @ 10:43 am - April 28, 2012

  23. Savage has said some immature, sexist things about his disgust with the female anatomy that would get him raked over the coals if it came from a right-winger…at the very least, it should disqualify him from giving advice about sexual issues (on top of the fact that he isn’t an M.D. or a psychatrist).

    Comment by Barry — April 28, 2012 @ 10:50 am - April 28, 2012

  24. Here’s the video :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao0k9qDsOvs&feature=player_embedded

    Comment by Geena — April 28, 2012 @ 11:44 am - April 28, 2012

  25. Evan & Savage are partners in the business of villifying people of faith. He should have disclosed that in his comment. Shame on you Evan.

    Comment by Bruce (GayPatriot) — April 28, 2012 @ 11:49 am - April 28, 2012

  26. “10.Dan Savage are like all Leftists: Unhappy turds with chips on their shoulders. Nothing makes them happy because they are not happy within.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw ”

    That’s exactly right Sebastian. The flesh is NEVER satisfied, it can NEVER be pleased, it is insatiable and most importantly God (that is the one true God – Jesus Christ) CANNOT please the flesh either.

    Dan Savage as all lost people (and some saved) get in an emotional panic over the Bible. All liberals and evolutionists get in an emotional panic over facts. Lastly, sex perverts are NOT normal. They do NOT reproduce. They recruit. This is not anyone’s opinion or religion. It is scientific observable phenomena.

    Comment by jtb02381 — April 28, 2012 @ 11:53 am - April 28, 2012

  27. Vilifying people of faith is quite a lucrative business; it made Sam Harris a millionaire. Consider also the fact that there is, on a major television network, called ‘Good Christian B1tch3s,’ whose entire focus is ridiculing Christians through the use of broad, offensive stereotypes. Can you imagine a similar show that ridiculed gays by portraying them as paedophiles, FSF public exhibitionists, Folsom Street fetish queens, and butch phys ed teachers? (Well, I mean, apart from ‘Family Guy’ which is allowed to ridicule gays because they ridicule Christians and Republicans even worse.)

    Dan Savage knows that the people who can advance his career hate Christians as much as he does, and so insulting Christians is a resume builder for him.

    Comment by V the K — April 28, 2012 @ 11:55 am - April 28, 2012

  28. I think we have answered the question from the threadline; Dan Savage is a bitter, Christian-hating gay man because that’s what the left expects him to be and rewards him for being.

    Comment by V the K — April 28, 2012 @ 12:05 pm - April 28, 2012

  29. Had the students glitter-bombed Dan Savage would Gayists-bullies applaud?

    Comment by syn — April 28, 2012 @ 12:05 pm - April 28, 2012

  30. Waitaminit, Evan…so you’re saying that because Christian kids don’t commit suicide as much because their faith prohibits such acts means that they are less vulnerable somehow and it’s acceptable to bully them? You should be ashamed of yourself.

    Comment by Mel Maguire — April 28, 2012 @ 12:08 pm - April 28, 2012

  31. The strange irony lost on Gayist-bullies is that when America follows Europe’s path towards Sharia Law, Christians will be the first people to whom Gayist-bullies will seek refuge, security and defense.

    And Christians will lose their blood defending Gayist-bullies from the tryanny of Sharia Law.

    Comment by syn — April 28, 2012 @ 12:15 pm - April 28, 2012

  32. I haven’t read any of this man’s publications or watched any of his videos. When an individual “professes” to be “anti” anything and them demonstrates in public the very behavior he opposes, it reveals his troubled core. Mr. Savage is a professional victim who victimizes in the very manner he so seemingly and rabidly works to stamp out. His personal victimhood makes it impossible for correction to come from society – as every attempt is just another “attack” on him from the “bully.” In this case, the cat jumped out of the bag – the apology was just a formality.

    Comment by killiteten - Native Intelligence — April 28, 2012 @ 12:21 pm - April 28, 2012

  33. The main religious bullies in the world today are Muslims, not Christians.

    It appears that, as bitter leftist bullies often do, Savage went with the safe target: the target that he be 100% sure will NOT hit him with a lawsuit, an assassination attempt or a fatwa. “Bravo.”

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — April 28, 2012 @ 12:45 pm - April 28, 2012

  34. this frustrates me beyond belief..my 60yo “old school” mom and I have had many many heated debates…ive made so much progress trying to make her understand its not a choice..she finally gets it..when stuff like this happens or the glitter bombers she just tunes out…It doesnt help the cause..turns people off…its sad really..very sad…

    Comment by mooshakins — April 28, 2012 @ 1:19 pm - April 28, 2012

  35. Dan asks

    Gay organizations, especially GLAAD, should condemn Mr. Savage for his mean-spirited rhetoric and make clear that he does not speak for gay people.

    Um… He pretty much does speak for them, at least those who are of like minded ideologies. Discrimination as far as GLAAD is concerned only goes one way.

    Comment by sonicfrog — April 28, 2012 @ 1:25 pm - April 28, 2012

  36. I wonder if the manchild has the heart or the brains (doubtful) to apologize for his hatred and his hypocrisy. Not to mention that his hate was directed towards children at a school. No school should allow such a vulgar person to speak against bullying.

    Comment by Kyle Raccio — April 28, 2012 @ 1:46 pm - April 28, 2012

  37. Why is Dan Savage so nasty?

    Here are a couple possibilities:

    He grew up among liberals on the North Side of Chicago, so he absorbed Chicago-style politics from an early age: Anything, no matter how vile, is okay as long as it advances the political agenda, and destroying all who disagree is normal.

    He was a science-fiction fan, at a time when anti-Christian bigotry in fandom was common, open, unashamed, and gratuitously expressed. Most fans are at least a bit socially handicapped, so that makes two ways that fandom could have taught him his sociopathic habits.

    Comment by pst314 — April 28, 2012 @ 1:46 pm - April 28, 2012

  38. When you belong to an Official Sacred Victim Group, there are no limits on how you may express your Outrage. You have Absolute Moral Authority. That rule’s been in place a long time.

    Comment by EssEm — April 28, 2012 @ 1:47 pm - April 28, 2012

  39. Bullying isn’t a “gay issue.” Do liberal bullying activists not give a damn about anyone else who is bullied in high school and middle school–most of whom aren’t gay? Gay kids might be bullied at a high rate. So are “counterculture” kids, kids who dress “weird” or who are socially awkward. Liberals usually don’t give a damn about any of the issues they bring up. Whether it be bullying, birth control, wars on women, racism, or anything else, they only bring it up to try to elect Democrats.

    Comment by John — April 28, 2012 @ 2:00 pm - April 28, 2012

  40. [...] DANIEL BLATT: If It Gets Better, Then Why Is Dan Savage So Bitter? [...]

    Pingback by Instapundit » Blog Archive » DANIEL BLATT: If It Gets Better, Then Why Is Dan Savage So Bitter? Related: Anti-bullying hero … — April 28, 2012 @ 2:09 pm - April 28, 2012

  41. Dan Savage is to gays what Al Sharpton is to blacks.

    Comment by Dave — April 28, 2012 @ 2:27 pm - April 28, 2012

  42. [...] If “it gets better,” why is Dan Savage so bitter? [...]

    Pingback by Transterrestrial Musings - They Really Lack A Sense Of Irony — April 28, 2012 @ 2:35 pm - April 28, 2012

  43. [...] DANIEL BLATT: If It Gets Better, Then Why Is Dan Savage So Bitter? [...]

    Pingback by DANIEL BLATT: If It Gets Better, Then Why Is Dan Savage So Bitter? Related: Anti-bullying hero … | rip and reader — April 28, 2012 @ 2:47 pm - April 28, 2012

  44. I’ve read Savage’s column off and on for years, and have respected the way he can give heterodox advice when just pandering would be the comfortable thing to do. I will say, however, he tends to rip people unnecessarily when they flinch at odd sexual requests from their partners.

    That said, Savage’s world begins and ends with his genitalia. It’s why he writes the column he does, and not one devoted to small engine repair, chess or financial planning. It’s all about sex, as raw and as deviant as it can get.

    So I think the real culprits here are those whose minds were taken over by some alien force which caused them to invite a guy like this to address a bunch of high schoolers. WTF were they thinking? What did they expect?

    Comment by Jeffersonian — April 28, 2012 @ 2:55 pm - April 28, 2012

  45. John, agreed. Bullying isn’t just a gay issue. It is wrong for gay children to be bullied, as well Christian children, fat children, etc. Unfortunately, it does appear that some activists only care about the bullied kids that fits their agenda. For example, some will only speak out when Christians are bullied, and not when gays are bullied. And as you indicated, it also happens the other way around.

    I think that gay teens are more vulnerable to bullying, because besides getting attacked at schools, many also get attacked from their own family and churches. Fortunately, that is not the case with most Christian (straight) teens. They won’t get attacked for their Christianity at home or their churches. However, that does not excuse what Dan Savage did. I applaud his efforts on It Gets Better, but his anti-Christian tirade in front of high school kids was inexcusable.

    Comment by Pat — April 28, 2012 @ 3:00 pm - April 28, 2012

  46. Evan asked this question:

    “Name the teenager who commited suicide because of a profound shame at being, deep down, a Christian.”

    Tim at # 6 responded:

    This is because Christianity and Christian beliefs are something learned, not inherited genetically.

    But if you must:
    Dad links son’s suicide to ‘The God Delusion’
    http://www.wnd.com/2008/11/81459/

    The young man who committed suicide was Jesse Kilgore. His Dad had linked it to being forced to read “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. The problem is, Jeese had a blog on MySpace, and he wrote about things in his life. His writing indicate someone who is at home as a religious person, but not afraid to question tenants at times. He writes as a man who has a firm grounding in his religious core. His writings remind me a little of Dan actually. He wasn’t afraid to challenge his Christian orthodoxy, as seen on this post about the inevitability of same sex marriage, and he seemed to love science, as shown in this post about the Large Hadron Collider.

    Here’s the deal. He wrote about the very same Dawkins book the year before. Here is what he wrote:

    I am fully aware of the atrocities that mankind has committed in the name of the deity. They are well documented and presented throughout history. I do not deny any of it. Even so, I still fully believe from the bottom of my heart… that man kind overall is better off with religion.

    It is overtly evident to any observer when atrocities committed in the name of the deity occur. The World Trade Center attack on 9/11, or Manifest Destiny, the expansion of colonial North America, all in the name of God. Clearly these are examples of atrocities conducted by men and justified in their minds by God. It is rationally understandable to perceive that these events would not occur if these men were atheists.

    So why do I still believe men kind is better off with religion. Because of the evidence that is less overtly observable. Out of all the billions of men and women who claim a belief in the deity. How many of them, out of numerous reasons, have bettered themselves because of it. The qualitative amount of charity and love expressed through them, who did so out of faith. We can never accurately measure the positive amount of good that has come out of faith. That is why I still believe man kind is better.

    It is too harsh of a reality for men to accept on their psyches, the belief there is no God. No more prayers will be answered or herd. Loved ones who die will never be seen again. You are all alone. You are an accident. You are chance. There is no purpose. Some men may be able to live with this realization, but many will refuse it. Out of desperateness, they will reach out for religion or create their own. If these tender hearted men can not fill their hearts with faith for the existence of a deity, they will not survive. They will either go insane or commit suicide. Causing men to believe in nothing, will cause them to believe in anything.

    Atheism will backlash. Until they are able to empirically prove there is no God, man kind will seek him. Even if it were possible to prove God’s inexistence, I believe it better to not do so. Rather let men dream and settle their hearts in what is not there then to destroy their only hope. Religion will have its negative consequences, but overall I believe we are better off. Atheism is a hard sell

    He doesn’t say he’s read the book, but it certainly doesn’t sound as if he’s some fragile flower who had no idea a book of this nature was out there and that he was not prepared to read it contemplate it, and challenge it.

    We’ll never know why Jesse committed suicide, but the scenario put out by WND doesn’t seem to sound accurate. A few here will accuse me of calling the father a liar. No, I’m not. I can’t imagine the grief of losing a son in this fashion, and since there was no note (as far as we know) this might seem the only reasonable explanation for the father. But by his own hand, Jesse did not seem to show much questioning or doubt of his own convictions.

    Comment by sonicfrog — April 28, 2012 @ 3:14 pm - April 28, 2012

  47. So I think the real culprits here are those whose minds were taken over by some alien force which caused them to invite a guy like this to address a bunch of high schoolers. WTF were they thinking? What did they expect?

    BINGO!

    Frog to Scorpion: “Why did you sting me”????

    Scorpion to Frog: “It’s in my nature”!

    Comment by sonicfrog — April 28, 2012 @ 3:17 pm - April 28, 2012

  48. I am more concerned about Christians being slaughtered by Muslims than Christians committing suicide; which is proscribed by the Christian faith anyway. A Christian subjected to bullying would find strength in his faith and remember the example of Christ as he was scourged and reviled by the Romans prior to the Crucifixion.

    It’s a BS comparison.

    Comment by V the K — April 28, 2012 @ 3:17 pm - April 28, 2012

  49. “But then, to keep perspective.

    Name the teenager who commited suicide because of a profound shame at being, deep down, a Christian.

    Go ahead.”

    Comment by Evan Hurst

    What kind of sick, sad, dirty rotten sonofabitch would “echo” that?

    Comment by TGC — April 28, 2012 @ 3:23 pm - April 28, 2012

  50. Finally, I think the “It Gets Better” campaign is ill-conceived. I would say that it gives people an easy way out of their problems (i.e. just riding them out), and one that will ultimately leave them unsolved, when they could be more proactive about overcoming them (for good). In addition, I believe suicide of gay teens (and other things) might not be such a problem if children’s self-esteem wasn’t given so much importance by their parents and teachers. If your self-worth is based more upon other things, bullying probably wouldn’t have such a profound effect. That is my hypothesis, anyway.

    Rattlesnake, if the teen is at least 18 years, I agree pretty much with what you say. But it’s different when you are younger. Being proactive may not be the way to go at that age, especially if you make the choices that make things worse. But if you can stick it out until you are an adult, then you can be proactive about solving the problems once and for all.

    I don’t think it’s so much the parents and teachers putting so much importance on self-esteem, but rather the child/teen himself. In fact, one reason for bullying is to build one’s self-esteem at the great expense of another’s. Further, it’s a hard to pill to swallow for any kid when they see his siblings, peers, etc., have their self-esteem strengthened by parents, etc., while theirs is being shredded to pieces. By the time you are 18-21, it is time to develop your own self-worth that does not depend on approval, acceptance from parents, clergy, teachers, etc. And by the time one is 21, it is legitimate advice to tell one to get over it. I don’t know the stats, but it does seem that fewer gay people commit suicide when they are 21, or even 18 or older than teens. It Gets Better could be that bridge for some to get to adulthood alive.

    Comment by Pat — April 28, 2012 @ 3:25 pm - April 28, 2012

  51. Savage just never ceases to amaze me with his vulgar vitriol. I also condemn the organizers of this event for young journalists. As one who attended them as a young person, I am appalled that the insults and vulgar language were allowed to continue once they started.

    Comment by jaliranchr — April 28, 2012 @ 3:25 pm - April 28, 2012

  52. A couple more things.

    I wouldn’t classify this as a tirade, which is generally something done out of anger and spur of the moment. This is very methodical, very planned out and deliberate.

    I watched the thing. If it were on a college campus, I’d have no problem with it, free speech and all. But this ain’t high school material.

    And speaking of high school. I fond it ironic that they bring in a guest speaker that is allowed to say the things Savage did. But, for those of you who have spent some time teaching in a high school class-room, anytime religion comes up in any conversation during an open discussion with students… MAN! You really have to walk on egg-shells!

    Comment by sonicfrog — April 28, 2012 @ 3:27 pm - April 28, 2012

  53. +1 for V the K’s comment. Dan Savage is what he is, he’s just doing what he always does, it’s his career, that’s what he gets paid for. I would have been surprised if he hadn’t behaved the way he did, and the people who paid him his fee would have been disappointed.

    Comment by Exurban — April 28, 2012 @ 3:27 pm - April 28, 2012

  54. Having just watched the video on YouTube, I think this is being overblown. He crossed the line with his “pansy-assed” comment, without question. And his use of the word “bulls**t” was not appropriate to the age group. But prior to that he made some very valid points about selective application of Bible passages and the bigotry facilitated thereby. His observations about the Bible’s support for slavery, while not exactly original, were spot on and especially illustrative. Shame he had to draw attention away from his own point with his poor behavior.

    Comment by Ron Moses — April 28, 2012 @ 3:30 pm - April 28, 2012

  55. I went to a small rural school. My best friend was gay. He was bullied not because the bullies read all about gays in the bible, but because he was different. That’s what most bullying is about. Kids hone in on another kids weakness be it gay, are shy, have a lot of acne or whatever. It has nothing to do with someones religion. Kids are horrible rotten little people who perhaps shouldn’t be locked in a building together. I always laugh at the concerns of the anti-home schoolers that kids won’t be ‘socialized’. Yeah, scary!! Kids won’t constantly be judged by other kids over their clothes, their hair style and fill in the blank.

    Comment by Kelly — April 28, 2012 @ 3:30 pm - April 28, 2012

  56. [...] not even attempting to try and understand their meaning, seek to create contradiction. Even the Gay Patriot is wondering why Savage is so bitter. I do not think Savage really wants a discussion about the [...]

    Pingback by Dan Savage Defending Himself On Twitter Of Bullying Of Christian Students; Issues Non-Apology Apology — April 28, 2012 @ 3:48 pm - April 28, 2012

  57. Makes me think that the so-called anti-bullying movement is just another way of enforcing conformity with certain social values, kind of like, bullying.

    Comment by Peej — April 28, 2012 @ 3:48 pm - April 28, 2012

  58. Entertainment becomes life. How long until Mr. Savage is down jacking it in San Diego?

    Comment by Ray — April 28, 2012 @ 3:54 pm - April 28, 2012

  59. Sonicfrog, I was one (the only one?) who called this a tirade. I agree that this was most likely planned and deliberate.

    Comment by Pat — April 28, 2012 @ 3:58 pm - April 28, 2012

  60. Admittedly, I don’t watch all the gay debates, etc., but I’ve noticed in the last few years that there is a resurgence of the assertion that being gay has a genetic cause. That would be interesting if it were true, so I used to follow that debate and nowhere has it ever been proven that there is a genetic basis for being gay, that I’m aware of. How does that old trope stay alive? Sure there are a few people that I think have some sort of genetic predisposition to being gay, but from every study I’ve ever read, ‘homosexuality’ is broken down by most psychiatrists into ‘homosexuality’ and ‘homosexual behavior’. And most of my gay acquaintances seem to agree with that.

    So Tim in #6 might want to check his sources and let me know if there’s some study out there that has definitively shown that being gay has a genetic basis. If there is no such datum, then someone committing suicide because of a genetic basis is unsupported. And no, I’m not interested in anything but the science behind such a statement.

    Comment by MnemonicMike — April 28, 2012 @ 3:59 pm - April 28, 2012

  61. Kelly, well said. I don’t even think most bullies are Christian. Christians are not taught to bully others; quite the opposite, in fact.

    Comment by V the K — April 28, 2012 @ 4:00 pm - April 28, 2012

  62. And sadly Dan is wrong. Some of his commentators do support it. It reminds me of a black guy I know who goes on and on about racism but then calls President Obama half-black….

    Liberals – nothing too low, too immoral, too trashy for them. It’s all power per Mao’s teaching…

    Comment by Kevin — April 28, 2012 @ 4:09 pm - April 28, 2012

  63. I’ll second the observation that the critical mistake here was in putting DS in front of an audience of teenagers, regardless of their religious affiliations. His past remarks, on a range of subjects, establish that he’s an intemperate and vindictive individual. He could have as easily gone off on Republicans, prudish housewives, lesbians, or any of the other groups that he has issues with. His criticisms of the bible were very pat, and honestly seem like something that one of the kids in the audience would have come up with. I suspect that the only thing that he’s really accomplished here is to have damaged his sponsors.

    Memo to the organizers: if you’re looking for thoughtful speakers on bullying, avoid people whose sole expertise is in ‘ass play’.

    Comment by eddy — April 28, 2012 @ 4:16 pm - April 28, 2012

  64. Pat, and it’s having the desired effect. Everyone is talking about him. You can say a lot of things about Savage, but he certainly has figured out the Madonna Method of getting publicity!

    Comment by sonicfrog — April 28, 2012 @ 4:45 pm - April 28, 2012

  65. This episode marks my belief that Dan Savage is becoming the Al Sharpton of the LGBT community…sadly.

    Comment by James Richardson — April 28, 2012 @ 5:03 pm - April 28, 2012

  66. I don’t think it’s so much the parents and teachers putting so much importance on self-esteem, but rather the child/teen himself.

    I would. People, especially the left, are hellbent on making boys into complete pussies. Letting boys be boys is shunned and the emasculation of men is a good comedic prop.

    Comment by TGC — April 28, 2012 @ 5:07 pm - April 28, 2012

  67. [...] Gay Patriot & [...]

    Pingback by Moe Lane » Hey, Dan Savage? This anti-bullying thing? You’re doing it wrong. — April 28, 2012 @ 5:10 pm - April 28, 2012

  68. Savage wrote an article demeaning African Americans who supported Prop 8 in California. The backlash against him from the liberal left forced him back on the leftist plantation. He’ll never do that again!

    Comment by Emerson — April 28, 2012 @ 5:17 pm - April 28, 2012

  69. I totally agree with #55 James Richardson: Savage has quiekly become the Al Sharpton of the LGBT community. I live in San Francisco, and our local equivalent has always been Tom Ammiano, a Democrat (naturally, it’s SF) who keeps bouncing from office to office over the years. After llistening to all of Ammiamo’s pleas about diversity and acceptance, I was particularly appalled over his participation in a similar incident. When one of the fundamentalist Christian youth groups was meeting here in San Francisco, he ws lamblasting their ‘message of hate’ claiming they had no right to be here in a city named for Saint Francis, a patron of peace and love. The left never seems to grasp that one converts another via love, understanding, and showing a better example. Instead, they rely on insults and harsh rhetoric at every opportunity, whic ultimately only ‘damages’ their views.

    Comment by Mart Martin — April 28, 2012 @ 5:48 pm - April 28, 2012

  70. TGC, I’m not sure I understand your point. Does “letting boys be boys” include bullying? As V the K states, and I agree with, Christianity teaching this type of “letting boys be boys” is unacceptable. Do you disagree?

    In any case, I think most parents would want their boys to be able to defend themselves, but not be the cause of having another boy trying to defend themselves, regardless of whether the other boy is a “pussy” or not.

    Comment by Pat — April 28, 2012 @ 5:49 pm - April 28, 2012

  71. TO: All
    RE: Why So Bitter

    If it gets better, why is Dan Savage so bitter? — B. Daniel Blatt

    Because, deep in his soul he KNOWS he’s in deep kimchee and he lashes out—even in such a bizarre schitzie subject matter jump—at those he hates because of his angst.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [Happy atheist is a contradiction in terms.]

    Comment by Chuck Pelto — April 28, 2012 @ 5:50 pm - April 28, 2012

  72. Kelly, let me chime in to agree with you. While the purpose of this post by Gay Patriot is to denounce Dan Savage, the accusation that it’s people’s Christian faith causes them to “bully” gays is somehow accepted. It’s utter bullshit. Kids bully each other because they see a characteristic that makes them look like victims. It could be excessive feminine behavior in boys, it could be that a kid is small or frail and looks like he can be picked on without fear of fighting back, it could be wearing the “wrong” clothes, a speech impediment, being overweight or clumsy, looking like a nerd. There are all sorts of reasons why people get picked on by bullies, but the idea that teen agers pick on their peers for theological reasons is so absurd that only Liberals can believe it. The Savage attack is part of the Liberal attack on Christianity, by demonizing them. It’s time to call it what it is and not allow this blood libel to pass.

    Comment by Moneyrunner — April 28, 2012 @ 5:56 pm - April 28, 2012

  73. But it’s different when you are younger. Being proactive may not be the way to go at that age, especially if you make the choices that make things worse.

    If values such as self-reliance are tought at an early age, I don’t think being proactive (i.e. standing up to the bully and being assertive) would make things worse, necessarily.

    I don’t think it’s so much the parents and teachers putting so much importance on self-esteem

    I beg to differ. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t imagine the level of coddling that exists now in the 50′s. Parents are so afraid of their children getting hurt, that they don’t ever get hurt and they are much worse for it. They never learn how tough life really is, and they can’t cope once they reach adulthood. I believe that that is the overall problem that emphasis on the importance of self-esteem is a symptom of.

    It Gets Better could be that bridge for some to get to adulthood alive.

    Maybe it is, but I can’t see how it would be very beneficial coming from a complete stranger in such an impersonal way, when what would be more valuable would be to hear that from someone whose opinion you actually value. Perhaps I am just different, but I always knew that there were people who accepted homosexuality. But that didn’t mitigate my anxiety over my homosexuality. My dad was the person whose opinion I valued most, and I was convinced he would reject me if he knew I was gay. The only reason I told him was that I was prepared to convince him that it was not a big deal and had no bearing on the person that I am (but it didn’t come to that). I think that the best way to address the problems that the “It Gets Better” campaign is attempting to address is to make homosexuality as irrelevant as possible, and I would do that by condemning the idea that homosexuality is an “identity.”

    Comment by Rattlesnake — April 28, 2012 @ 6:04 pm - April 28, 2012

  74. Perhaps it’s being around all those youngsters and realizing society isn’t yet advanced enough to allow adult/child sexual contact. Yet.

    Comment by Ed — April 28, 2012 @ 6:05 pm - April 28, 2012

  75. Rattlesnake: you and I think a LOT alike. Being gay IS irrelevant.

    Comment by Bastiat Fan — April 28, 2012 @ 6:23 pm - April 28, 2012

  76. TGC @ 56 commented on this quote:

    I don’t think it’s so much the parents and teachers putting so much importance on self-esteem, but rather the child/teen himself.

    ..

    You have NO IDEA! Going back to school to get my teaching credentials here in California a few years ago was quite an eye opener. The entire education system revolves around various theories and studies that come in and out of the system, often adopted in “magic bullet” fashion to try and fix the broken education system. In the late 90′s, a couple of studies came out that showed students with higher self esteem tended to produce better scores and get higher grades… Suddenly, raising self esteem became the top priority, and it was off to the stupid policy races!.

    Example:

    Schools were discouraged from creating classes based on achievement levels. Struggling students HAD TO be in classes with the brightest students. Because they could learn more from the higher achievers??? No. Because if lower achieving students were all grouped together, it would hurt their self esteem because they were in a class full of lower achievers! So now, teachers have to design lessons that cater to both the highest achievers and the lowest ones, making it difficult to really concentrate on either. Sometimes it can be done. But more often than not, you , the teacher, are put in an impossible situation, and the days lesson ends up muddled. You end up bringing the brightest down while not being able to reach the lower achievers.

    At one school i went to during my training, the principal flat out stated that teachers were highly discouraged from ever failing a student! That would hurt their self esteem.

    You are discouraged from using red ink to grade papers… Why??? Because red ink might hurt their feelings. I kid you not! You have to use “kinder” colors.

    They are trying to do things that “give” students self esteem. They have it backwards. you don’t create self esteem out of thin air. It is built into the students by achieving things. I know, because I was one of those students who for most of my high school and even college career, didn’t have any. I didn’t get mine until later, when I looked back, and realized “Hey, I did some pretty good stuff!”.

    Comment by sonicfrog — April 28, 2012 @ 6:26 pm - April 28, 2012

  77. I’m not going to give him the credit of being sick – he is evil. Many people have suffered much worse than him and have gone on to live productive positive lives – even gay people.

    Comment by Leah — April 28, 2012 @ 6:28 pm - April 28, 2012

  78. I watched the Savage video and found nothing bullying or objectionable whatsoever. I suggest you address Savages arguments, that the bible was wrong about shellfish and slavery and therefore is wrong about homosexuality, not condem his delivery.

    Comment by Kowboy — April 28, 2012 @ 6:29 pm - April 28, 2012

  79. TO: sonicfrog
    RE: [OT] Giving Students Self-Esteem

    You’re right about that.

    The outcome is horrific.

    Have you noticed the sky-rocketing rate of suicides in the Army?

    These young adults come out of a creche into the REAL world where people really do ‘hate’ them, enough to want to kill them. And many of them can’t cope.

    Regards,

    Chuck
    [Life is tough. It's tougher if you're stupid.]

    P.S. My working definition of ‘stupid’ is….

    Ignorant and proud.

    Comment by Chuck Pelto — April 28, 2012 @ 6:32 pm - April 28, 2012

  80. “If it gets better, why is Dan Savage so bitter? ”

    Perhaps because he has always been a FOS propagandist for the Gay Cult and it actually DOESN’T get better.

    Or maybe it just didn’t “Get Better” for Dan Savage.

    I could see where that would make him especially bitter and twisted.

    Does he LOOK like someone for whom it “got better”?

    http://gabbonesso.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/6-dan-savage-by-rex-wockner1s600x600.jpg

    Comment by Bilgeman — April 28, 2012 @ 6:58 pm - April 28, 2012

  81. Chuck… Not sure you can blame that on the schools. The young men and women who go into the military are usually the ones who are better at coping in the first place. I would suspect their is more suicide because they don’t feel like they are risking their lives for anything anymore. Unwinnable War and all that.

    Comment by sonicfrog — April 28, 2012 @ 7:20 pm - April 28, 2012

  82. So Dan Savage tramps all the way back two thousand years to try and make his case. It was the contemporary British Christians in the 18th century who began the abolition movement and it was the Christian churches who fought to end slavery in America.

    I agree, Savage was a bully in the video who hid behind the lectern and a microphone to make a point by waving “red meat” to the crowd. I’m certain he felt “proud” of his efforts. His apology was a sarcastic slap at the group who did leave the tirade. He’s a queer bully and I guess that makes him righteous.

    Comment by Bob K. — April 28, 2012 @ 9:06 pm - April 28, 2012

  83. This is America where the majority of people are Christian. It is absurd for Savage to claim he didn’t know there were Christians in the crowd. I want Savage to go into Dearborn Michigan and lecture to that crowd there, call the Koran BS. He won’t for two reasons. The first is that they’d kill him. The second is that Islam is friendly to homosexuality even as Muslims kill homosexuals. Homosexuality and pedophilia are inherent in Islam.

    I am Christian. I believe those texts in the Bible which speak out against homosexuality, so I stand against homosexuality. Then what? I deal with homosexuals as I do with heterosexuals, as I deal with myself. Concerning the matter of sin, God is judge and will judge everyone’s sin. My civic responsibility is to live peaceably with my neighbor, to help him, to love him as myself, to tell him the good news of Christ who died for and to save us from all our sins so that we may be reconciled with our Father God and be at peace in and with Him.

    I also believe there are three types of homosexuals: 1. born, because of the Fall people are all born with sin and thus broken. In some of us, the brokenness is more obvious, blind, missing limbs, homosexual, deaf; in others, we find out on acquaintance about liars, thieves, adulterers, and so on. 2. Made that way by rape or seduction through hero worship, and then continuing in homosexuality to punish self (especially with ref to rape) cuz the victim of rape thinks he must have done something wrong to be raped. 3. Self-made, some people want to experience everything or have done so much that the only thing they have not done is the perverse.

    In all of us, whether we believe in Him or not, God speaks and condemns our wrong, drawing us to Him by the Word which we may have heard at some point. Some people reject that Voice and call and hate the one who calls because He condemns their sin in the flesh. Then, their problem is with Him, with God. That is Dan Savage, IMO. he can’t fight God, (who can?) so he takes out his rage at being wrong (either by fault of birth, rape, mor choice) on those who stand as symbols of Whom he hates.

    In others, a war is raging inside of us. It is the battle between what we know we should not do and what we do. That may be the most difficult battle of all because we hate ourselves for our weakness and blame ourselves for it. If only we could do what is right all the time; we do right for a bit, and then we back slide, and the tension between should not and should rages again and we are miserable all over again.

    Some people hear the call and think they can’t come as they are, filthy with sin. But, that is what all of us are, without Christ in our lives: filthy with sin.

    So, then, where does that leave us? Struggling every second of every day in our lives. Hate me? Hate my Christianity? All I can do is shrug. Hate you because you are homosexual? Why? God will judge us all. In Christ, as long as we live baptism life of daily repentance, we’re ok. Outside of Christ, hating God, not so okay. Whatever we are, heterosexual or homosexual, our struggle with sin goes on until we die and God sorts us out.

    Comment by apodoca — April 28, 2012 @ 10:30 pm - April 28, 2012

  84. The anti-bullying movement is just another way to get “gay rights” activism into our schools…

    Which begs the question, If it gets better, why is Dan Savage so bitter?…

    Trackback by WyBlog - The anti-bullying movement is just another way to get "gay rights" activism into our schools — April 28, 2012 @ 11:02 pm - April 28, 2012

  85. I would be interested in hearing one Left gay say that they are more scared of (or even just more ticked off at) islam than they are Christianity. You know, the theocracy that demands homosexuals be killed by crushing them to death by toppling a wall on them.
    But then again, that would take courage and intellectual honesty. It takes neither to complain about Christians who simply hold that homosexuality is wrong, not a death sentence.

    Comment by Diggs — April 28, 2012 @ 11:24 pm - April 28, 2012

  86. Diggs – don’t hold your breath. As well all know, bullies don’t pick on the people that hit back. Bullies are cowards who make themselves feel important by picking on targets they believe to be safe.

    Comment by Becky — April 29, 2012 @ 12:11 am - April 29, 2012

  87. Rattlesnake and Sonicfrog, you both made excellent points in response to my previous post. I won’t be able to respond fully until sometime tomorrow afternoon.

    Comment by Pat — April 29, 2012 @ 12:59 am - April 29, 2012

  88. Diggs, you won’t have to hold your breath that long. This is one left gay who is more scared and ticked off from Islam than Christianity.

    Comment by Pat — April 29, 2012 @ 1:02 am - April 29, 2012

  89. @ #7, Kristie: you didn’t have to tell us, at leas not me, because I had a hunch you weren’t by the way you responded in just the first couple of sentences in your post. You’re confession just proves that hunch right.

    Comment by John — April 29, 2012 @ 3:23 am - April 29, 2012

  90. I used to enjoy Savage several years ago but he’s gotten hard to read, in the same way that libertarians who are constantly attacking conservatives (and less pure libertarians of all stripes) are hard to read. The freedom to be yourself and do your own thing only exists as long as there’s limited government and a sense of general self-restraint. The big government folks, sooner or later, get around to controlling every aspect of everybody’s lives, even if they’re into leaving gays or the straight sexual libertines that Savage is fond of alone for now.

    Comment by joeblonski — April 29, 2012 @ 12:41 pm - April 29, 2012

  91. In Chicago, due to gang violence, there are schools that have to have multiple police squad cars at the end of the day to ensure no gang violence. Of course, it often doesn’t work. This whining about “bullying” when something like the above occurs in every city in the US is ridiculous.

    Comment by Ed — April 29, 2012 @ 1:52 pm - April 29, 2012

  92. If values such as self-reliance are tought at an early age, I don’t think being proactive (i.e. standing up to the bully and being assertive) would make things worse, necessarily.

    Rattlesnake, I think we are almost saying the same thing here. Self-reliance is a good thing to be taught at an early age. This is a good thing to counter possible bullying. But a kid needs to be taught that, in many cases, fighting back physically may not work, that other ways may be more effective. With bullying, doing nothing may not be an option. But, in terms of It Gets Better, I’m also thinking about how to deal with anti-gay parents. If you have a parent that, in one breath reinforces self-reliance, then in the next breath states how he would reject any homosexual child, how they will burn in hell, etc., being proactive may not work while the child is still a dependent.

    I beg to differ. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t imagine the level of coddling that exists now in the 50′s. Parents are so afraid of their children getting hurt, that they don’t ever get hurt and they are much worse for it. They never learn how tough life really is, and they can’t cope once they reach adulthood. I believe that that is the overall problem that emphasis on the importance of self-esteem is a symptom of.

    You are probably right about kids being coddled today than in the 50s, or even the 70s for that matter. And in terms of schooling, I certainly don’t advocate teachers saying things like, “Billy, you didn’t hand in your homework three times this week, that’s okay, I know you are trying your best” or “Tommy, you only bullied two children today, a gold star for you.” Regardless, self-esteem for a child was just as important today as it is was then. Self-esteem in one form or another is going to be developed by a child regardless of what importance placed by parents and/or teachers.

    I have always thought bullying is a problem. And IMO, it’s good to see that something is being done about it. Unfortunately, like many things that we try to fix, we appear to be going to the opposite extreme, such as kids getting punished for bullying when there is little or no evidence of such. Perhaps if schools tried to nip this in the bud by appropriately punishing chronic bullies, instead of making believe they can’t root them out, the pendulum wouldn’t have swung the other way.

    Regardless, kids should still be taught how to cope with bullies, and of course, to not be a bully. But kids should not have to have their coping skills tested with chronic bullying. If we really think being subjected to bullying is good learning skill, then perhaps we should subject all kids to bullying.

    Maybe it is, but I can’t see how it would be very beneficial coming from a complete stranger in such an impersonal way, when what would be more valuable would be to hear that from someone whose opinion you actually value. Perhaps I am just different, but I always knew that there were people who accepted homosexuality. But that didn’t mitigate my anxiety over my homosexuality.

    First of all, it would be better coming from someone one would trust and whose opinion you value. Some don’t have or perceive they have that luxury. And knowing you would still have anxiety even though you had some support, you could imagine how anxious one would be without any such support.

    Comment by Pat — April 29, 2012 @ 2:45 pm - April 29, 2012

  93. I have an honest question, which, given the intellectual climate of our day, I am nearly afraid to ask. I risk asking because I really want a well-considered answer, and I ask it here only because I cannot imagine any forum presenting a better intersection of the sets “places where it is relevant to ask the question” and “places where one won’t get immediately pilloried for asking the question.”

    Suppose a person coming more-or-less without prior baggage comes to the question of what conclusions to draw about this fellow Jesus of Nazareth.

    Suppose after some time and consideration of all the relevant arguments, he comes to the conclusion that the Matthew/Mark/Luke/John narratives are reliable accounts of what Jesus did.

    Suppose on the basis of that conclusion, this person decides that, however odd it may seem, Jesus really got killed good-n-dead, and really rose from the grave, and really was and is God (not in some Greek or Norse or pantheist sense, but in the Yahweh sense: the self-existent will that created the universe, from whom all existence is derivative in everything else…all that).

    Supposing on the basis of *that*, this person thinks, “Okay, so Jesus is who he claimed; now what do I do about it?” …and becomes a Christian, but casts about for a bit to figure out what *kind* of Christian, since there’s so much disagreement.

    Suppose that this person then concludes that when Jesus did that whole “binding/loosing” and that whole “keys of the kingdom” thing it indicated he was appointing the first occupants of leadership offices in his new kingdom, and that when the guy with the keys (Peter/Simon) filled a vacated office (Judas replaced by Matthias) he demonstrated that these offices where perpetual, with successors.

    Suppose that this person goes looking for the current occupants of those offices in modern times, and finds that they’re in the Catholic and various Orthodox churches, and concludes that he has to become Catholic. So he does.

    Okay, all this has happened without a thought of being mean to his gay friends. (After all, why would I? Aw, hell, so much for the third-person thing, not that it wasn’t obvious I was being autobiographical.)

    Anyhow, now I have this problem: I’m in a Christian tradition that isn’t going to change on this point. And I didn’t get there by being a homophobe; I got there by chasing down what I think is true: What’s really factual, historical…all that.

    But that means I’m going to accept the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage (a sacrament intended to be open to the creation of new life) and Natural Law and all that. It’s not because I’m bigoted…at least, I sure never was *before* and I don’t have any sense of hatred *now*. But it’s a logical conclusion from what I already think true. If Jesus was God and his apostles were the first of a set of stewards in his kingdom and so on, then apparently — even if I don’t necessarily get why — it’s not okay for two people to experience sexual pleasure with one another except when they’re male and female and doing nothing intended to prevent the possibility of a baby. (There’s this whole attitude about not treating babies as a disease to be avoided but as a blessing and a new eternal soul and so on.)

    So.

    Does being a Christian, acknowledging for the sake of logical consistency that there’s legitimate moral reasoning that gay sex is wrong, make one a bigot and worthy of scorn and derision?

    I mean, I accept that not everyone *gets* the moral reasoning. I can sorta see the argument of God having made people with a design and that when part of that design involves bringing into existence new ETERNAL souls, it’s gotta be a pretty important thing. So I can see God having rules for how it’s used.

    So. GayPatriot, whomever else: Accept my premises for the moment as rational ones (I do). Given that, isn’t it right to say that a person can hold the opinion that gay sexual relations are objectively immoral (and contraceptive use, too, by the way), not so much because of one’s opinions about gay people but on the basis of argument from (true, correct) authority…can one hold that opinion, however uncomfortably, WITHOUT being immediately labeled a “bigot” and a “hater” and whatnot?

    I mean, I know LEFTISTS will call me all that.

    But what about you?

    Comment by Questioner — April 29, 2012 @ 3:23 pm - April 29, 2012

  94. What the Gay Left doesn’t get is the State is the ultimate bully.

    Comment by Bilwick — April 29, 2012 @ 3:26 pm - April 29, 2012

  95. Sonicfrog @ 76, I agree with much of what you say. First of all, we don’t have to overdue it with the self-esteem. With most kids, if you simply don’t sh&t all over them with unnecessary and unwarranted criticism, they’ll be okay.

    I get the students after you, in college. So I didn’t have to go through the certifications, self-esteem stuff, the effects of toilet training, etc. But I have heard of some of the things you mention, such as not using red ink (which I still use, but I’ll use purple pens if I’m supplied them, whatever).

    It does seem that students’ preparation is getting worse. I have to deal with students who get anxious about things that they should have mastered in fourth grade. For example, when I teach a topic that involves adding fractions, I have to tell students upfront that I am not going to take five minutes to explain why 2/5 + 1/3 – 2/15 = 3/5, and if necessary, say tough luck to those who don’t like it. Funny thing, when I do offer to explain it after class or during office hours, I hardly get any takers.

    Coddling is not a good way to build self-esteem, as you suggest. Telling students it’s okay they can’t learn their times tables is not going to build their self-esteem in any positive way. Achievement will do this for kids. I wouldn’t object to any of the methods you described if they really did produce acheivement, but it doesn’t appear that it does.

    Comment by Pat — April 29, 2012 @ 3:37 pm - April 29, 2012

  96. Pat, if “It Gets Better” has helped people, I apologize. I never meant to say that it didn’t or even that I am opposed to it, it is just that I am skeptical of its efficacy and I would approach the problem of bullying a different way.

    If I were giving advice to a victim of bullying, I would advocate violence only when it is necessary for self-defense. Otherwise, I would tell them to stand up for themselves (verbally).

    If you have a parent that, in one breath reinforces self-reliance, then in the next breath states how he would reject any homosexual child, how they will burn in hell, etc., being proactive may not work while the child is still a dependent.

    Maybe not.

    I certainly don’t advocate teachers saying things like, “Billy, you didn’t hand in your homework three times this week, that’s okay, I know you are trying your best” or “Tommy, you only bullied two children today, a gold star for you.”

    Maybe those examples are a bit ridiculous, but that is sort of what I see happening. And Sonicfrog provided several examples of it. Another one would be “helicopter parenting.” These kinds of things cannot be healthy, and it looks like, to me, they are causing children to be overly sensitive.

    I have always thought bullying is a problem. And IMO, it’s good to see that something is being done about it. Unfortunately, like many things that we try to fix, we appear to be going to the opposite extreme, such as kids getting punished for bullying when there is little or no evidence of such.

    Agreed; some of the things being done to try to combat bullying don’t seem to make very much sense. I agree that it is a problem, but it is also a part of life that I don’t think will ever go away (and, in some cases, the solutions might be worse than the problem).

    If we really think being subjected to bullying is good learning skill

    Did I say it was? I don’t think I did.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — April 29, 2012 @ 5:50 pm - April 29, 2012

  97. 93. Bilwick “What the Gay Left doesn’t get is the State is the ultimate bully.”

    No, they get it. Oh boy do they get it. It’s what they aspire to. It’s what their wettest dreams are made of.

    Comment by pst314 — April 29, 2012 @ 6:24 pm - April 29, 2012

  98. 23. Barry: “Savage has said some immature, sexist things about his disgust with the female anatomy”

    [citation needed] :-)

    Seriously, I’m not familiar with this; have only heard allusions, no quotes or links.

    Comment by pst314 — April 29, 2012 @ 6:42 pm - April 29, 2012

  99. Rattlesnake, it seems we somewhat in agreement. No, I don’t recall you saying that being bullied is a good thing, and shouldn’t have implied that you did. My apologies.

    Comment by Pat — April 29, 2012 @ 7:14 pm - April 29, 2012

  100. Questioner:

    How many times do you have to get the sun-revolves-around-the-earth thing wrong? What about burning witches at the stake? Then there’s the slavery thing. How many mistakes do you allow your theology until you go “Hmmmm…. they missed the heliocentircity thing, witches, and slavery, but by damn, I don’t know if they’ve gotten this homosexuality thing right.”?

    Comment by Kowboy — April 29, 2012 @ 9:05 pm - April 29, 2012

  101. [...] look at this article in a GAY site. And particularly telling are some of the posts from readers. http://www.gaypatriot.net/2012/04/28…age-so-bitter/ IF, IT GETS BETTER, why is Savage so hate filled and angry? RIP: Judson "Warpig" [...]

    Pingback by Anti-Bullying Speaker Curses Christian Teens - Page 11 — April 29, 2012 @ 10:58 pm - April 29, 2012

  102. @Kowboy:

    I was hoping for the question to be seriously engaged. You don’t have your history right. You might try the entirely non-theological C.S.Lewis work “The Discarded Image” to fill in some gaps in knowing the history of Western Civilization.

    Heliocentrism and its associated epicycles were a provisional model of the universe doing what such a model properly should do: It was sufficient to “save the appearances”; that is, to explain the thus-far observed phenomena with the fewest assumptions…and you have to account for the clerkly character of the Middle Ages, and the desire to be able to reference an auctor for any proposed idea, which caused them to try to merge their later observations with the nested-spheres model they inherited from the Greeks.

    But that has nothing to do with Christian propositions of faith or moral doctrine, as observed by the fact that Copernicus, proposing heliocentrism earlier, barely raised an eyebrow. Galileo likewise would have barely raised an eyebrow had he not made a point of raising a political stink at the same time. Not that a person ought to be jailed for making political enemies, either!

    And of course the vast size of the universe — which was well-known at the time, courtesy of the Almagest and Aristarchus and others — was often used by moralists as a way of undercutting human self-conceit. We can’t even read an anthropocentric view into the fact that they put the Earth at the center, because, as Dante explained, they saw the material/terrestrial order as a sort of mirror-image of the heavenly one: That which was central in position was peripheral in importance and vice-versa. Thus this position in the center was something they conceived as rather like being in a forgotten mouse-hole in the middle of a large house. Earth, in this view, was the benighted rural “boondocks” of the universe; the overlooked dregs of creation. By looking up at the stars man conceived of himself as a poor beggar outside the castle walls, looking in from afar at the brilliant lights and banquets and dress balls held within.

    Popular commentary on these topics by non-classicists nearly always gets all of this completely wrong, because (a.) in relating what our distant ancestors thought, they never bother to read anything our ancestors wrote about what they thought; and, (b.) they get a kick out of feeling superior to folk who lived in earlier ages. Historicism of this kind is a kind of bigotry.

    We don’t jail or execute witches any more because we don’t think there are any — at least, not of the type that the commoners then thought might exist: Folks who in exchange for powers and pleasures were serving demons by causing death and illness amongst their neighbors. The rough equivalent now would be something like an Iranian sleeper agent with a bioweapon: Cause enough for extreme force if the perpetrator is located. But of course mobs are as apt now as then to blame unpopular folk (or, driven by a different sentiment, popular folk) for anything and everything. The basis might be imaginary (e.g. witches who can actually cause effective harm), or it might be nothing at all, like that trucker who was bashed with cement block in the L.A. riots twenty years ago. Or like that famous “black” “white” “latino,” George Zimmerman, more recently. In the Middle Ages you generally had a better chance in a Church court than if you were tried by your volatile neighbors, which is why it was commonplace in various kinds of trials to intentionally say something blasphemous (but not so bad it couldn’t later be recanted) in hopes of getting a change of venue.

    As for slavery! One hardly knows where to begin…but I think I actually won’t bother. If you’re interested you can find out the score; if you aren’t your original response gives me little confidence you’ll listen.

    At any rate, the question was: Presuming a person to be simply an orthodox Christian for intellectually honest reasons unrelated to discomfort around gays, who accepts Christian moral teaching about gay sex acts along with the teaching about contraception and masturbation as coming from an authority that teaches correctly on moral and theological matters…presuming that, is even a conservative-leaning site going to avoid calling him a bigot?

    Or is that a lost cause? Is everyone who is not a Christian on this topic necessarily going to take Dan Savage’s view?

    Comment by Questioner — April 30, 2012 @ 2:00 am - April 30, 2012

  103. Questioner: Your reply was thoughtful and intelligent; probably too deep for the anti-Christians, though, I’m afraid.

    Comment by V the K — April 30, 2012 @ 6:02 am - April 30, 2012

  104. Questioner, since you are questioning the moral dictates of the Bible, why is it that you have no problem with persons eating cheeseburgers, shellfish, and pork (or are you morally opposed to this), but you maintain the abominations of homosexuality, contraception, and masturbation? Maybe that’s where we need to start?

    Comment by Pat — April 30, 2012 @ 6:57 am - April 30, 2012

  105. At any rate, the question was: Presuming a person to be simply an orthodox Christian for intellectually honest reasons unrelated to discomfort around gays, who accepts Christian moral teaching about gay sex acts along with the teaching about contraception and masturbation as coming from an authority that teaches correctly on moral and theological matters…presuming that, is even a conservative-leaning site going to avoid calling him a bigot?

    It’s bigotry regardless of how you rationalize it. I could argue that black people were inherently immoral and conjure up some theology to justify it, would that excuse me?

    Comment by Levi — April 30, 2012 @ 7:20 am - April 30, 2012

  106. Given Levi’s record of hatred of women, I find his calling others bigots amusing at best.

    Now hush Levi, adults are talking.

    Comment by The Livewire — April 30, 2012 @ 8:03 am - April 30, 2012

  107. Questioner (may I call you Vic) thank you for that complete demolishing of Cowboy.

    Comment by The Livewire — April 30, 2012 @ 8:09 am - April 30, 2012

  108. [...] Here’s the poop: [...]

    Pingback by third world county » Dan Savage Source Material — April 30, 2012 @ 9:34 am - April 30, 2012

  109. “I want Savage to go into Dearborn Michigan and lecture to that crowd there, call the Koran BS.”

    If I were rich, I’d publicly challenge Savage to glitterbomb Louis Farrakhan in exchange for $1 million to the charity of his choice. At the very least, you know it’d be worth it for the uncharacteristic, yet inevitable, mealy-mouthed response. Best case scenario: you’d get one helluva show if he went through with it.

    Comment by Armando — April 30, 2012 @ 9:41 am - April 30, 2012

  110. Well, “The Livewire” told you to just hush, Levi, presumably because he knows more about you from prior experience. But I don’t; so I’ll answer you up to a point.

    First, you don’t seem to have addressed the question. We’re not talking about a person who didn’t get along with gays; we’re talking about a person who did and does and becomes a Christian and then realizes that certain moral conclusions follow inextricably from an honest embrace of Christianity (specifically Catholic Christianity).

    Given that scenario, there is no “rationalizing” of existing bigotry. Quite the contrary: There is discomfort at being forced to reconsider the earlier “whatever floats your boat” attitude but the emotional discomfort is not the same as a rational reason that disproves Christianity, and so the rational embrace of Christianity is held and the uncomfortable moral implications (y’think giving up the use of contraceptives is easy?) are adapted to. “Rationalizing” — that is, trying to cover up an unreasoned decision with an after-the-fact attempt to provide a reason for it — is what would happen if one were to use the issue as a reason why Christianity weren’t true.

    Secondly, about “arguing black people were inherently immoral.” I agree, that’d be bigotry. But surely you see the difference? Being gay — that is, being sexually attracted to persons of the same gender — isn’t immoral in Catholic teaching. And of course the Catholic catechism says a lot about ensuring that people with this kind of attraction receive all the same respect and human rights as anyone with different attractions does. (E.g. people who are sexually attracted to persons not their spouse, people who are sexually turned on by pornography, et cetera; not to mention people whose temptations are utterly non-sexual.)

    It’s doing the thing (whether premarital sex, or adultery, or gay sex, or masturbation) that is held to be immoral, and in this case I think “immoral” should not be taken as a sort of stern frown and waggling finger, but rather as concerns (a.) for the person’s best interests, and (b.) for God’s design and intention for human sexuality…which is to say: for the way he lets us mere human beings (!) participate (!!) with him (!!!) in the creation of new souls (!!!!) who, for good or ill, will outlive the universe (!!!!!). Which, if you think about it, has got to be a pretty important thing. As I understand the character of the teaching, it’s not so much “don’t do that thing” as it is somewhere between “please don’t walk off that cliff, you’ll hurt yourself” and “don’t use the Mona Lisa for your front-door-mat, it’s too special to be used that way.”

    In fact, it seems to me that the Catholic teaching views gay attraction as being more like the disorder called pica, where people have a desire to eat things that aren’t food: Nothing blameworthy about having that disorder; others have before; but eating sheetrock isn’t good for you, and pairing off with someone else to eat sheetrock mutually isn’t, either; and while it makes sense to avoid unhealthy shame for desires you can’t help having (what’s there to be ashamed about, about something you can’t help?), to go to the opposite extreme and celebrate it and rewrite one’s identity around it seems like overkill.

    So to return to your example of black people being “inherently immoral”: You’d have to come up with an act that could be argued to be inherently immoral for some other reason, and then have black people be born with an unusually high frequency of inherent inclination towards that act, to make the example match. And then I guess the answer would be: Nothing wrong with being black; nothing wrong with being tempted; just don’t do the immoral thing, whether you’re black or white or Latino or Zimmermanesque (all three).

    But here I feel like I have to add emotional context to the moral prohibition: Orgasms are addictive, especially when combined with adrenaline as is typically the case in risky or transgressive sex acts. And human friendship and affection are a positive good, and we can’t do without them. So the injunction “just don’t do it” makes a lot more sense before the first few times than after, just as it does with crack cocaine. After that, it feels (to the person) like you’re telling him not to do something he just can’t not do; and he’ll be giving up a lover or maybe a whole set of them and who wants to volunteer for being alone?

    I get all that and have experienced it in a different context.

    Anyhow, it seems to me that Christians in general (who reverence the Bible too much to adopt implausible interpretations of it so they can bend the rules on this issue) and Catholics in particular (who have an authoritative interpretation that they can’t invent for themselves and which can’t, by definition, ever reverse itself) are stuck. The more honest they are, the less they’re willing to pretend Christ isn’t who he said he is, or that the moral prohibitions that follow from it aren’t what they are. They are, and it’s pure fantasy to say otherwise. But at the same time, they don’t want to make their friends feel bad if the friend is gay. They aren’t bigoted, and they didn’t stop being a friend just because they became a Christian.

    So: They hold the moral view, and then they try to focus on moral self-correction. (I don’t know many heterosexual Christian men who don’t need to be in better control of their own temptations to masturbation or porn or adultery or pre-marital sex first, long before they criticize their gay friends).

    Comment by Questioner — April 30, 2012 @ 1:35 pm - April 30, 2012

  111. Activist gheys profess to loathe Christians as ignorant, mindless barbarians. Yet, at the same time, they claim that approval from Christians is so necessary to their well-being that they will bully Christians into accepting them if they have to.

    There’s some really unhealthy psychology going on there.

    Comment by V the K — April 30, 2012 @ 1:46 pm - April 30, 2012

  112. 100.Questioner:

    How many times do you have to get the sun-revolves-around-the-earth thing wrong? What about burning witches at the stake? Then there’s the slavery thing. How many mistakes do you allow your theology until you go “Hmmmm…. they missed the heliocentircity thing, witches, and slavery, but by damn, I don’t know if they’ve gotten this homosexuality thing right.”?

    Comment by Kowboy — April 29, 2012 @ 9:05 pm – April 29, 2012/blockquote>

    Sure, Kowboy.

    We’ll apply that right after you and Bareback Dan Savage explain to us the virtue of your promiscuity and irresponsibility theology that has managed to push US HIV infection rates among teens and young adults to twice that of sub-Saharan Africa.

    You and Bareback Dan Savage preach a gospel of promiscuity and irresponsibility that sickens, maims, and kills literally thousands of teens and young adults annually right now, and then you have the unmitigated gall to turn around and scream how Christian teenagers should be publicly mocked and bullied because of things that took place hundreds, sometimes thousands of years ago? You, Bareback Dan, and Evan Hurst are killing people RIGHT NOW, and you’re invoking the Inquisition as an excuse for why CHRISTIANS need to shut up?

    Heliotrope summed you and your friends up beautifully here:

    This is not about debate, the public square, the combat of ideas, the evolution of society. No. This is about raw power and seizing the moment and the tyranny of regulation and the real use of fear. This is the reign of terror moment, complete with the tricoteuse knitting away as the atavistic crones cheer “The National Razor” of destructive regulation that deals “justice” to those suspected of “crimes against liberty.”

    Comment by heliotrope — April 30, 2012 @ 10:30 am – April 30, 2012

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — April 30, 2012 @ 2:22 pm - April 30, 2012

  113. @Pat (April 30):

    You asked, “Questioner, since you are questioning the moral dictates of the Bible, why is it that you have no problem with persons eating cheeseburgers, shellfish, and pork (or are you morally opposed to this), but you maintain the abominations of homosexuality, contraception, and masturbation? Maybe that’s where we need to start?”

    I think that’s a perfectly fair question.

    First, I think a lot of non-Christian people take the Bible more literally than even the most hick backwoods fundamentalists do, taking the thing about shellfish and putting it up against the thing against sleeping with your mother and saying, “they’re both prohibitions; therefore if one is eternal, so is the other.” I don’t think I ever met a fundamentalist who was that unsophisticated about Scripture reading. They, or at least their seminary professors and better pastors, tend to get that it’s an old book with lots of different kinds of writing and that if it says that “it’s raining cats and dogs” you shouldn’t expect to be able to run outdoors and catch a household pet.

    I mean, just as one example: In one place it says Lot and Abraham are “brothers” and in another that Lot is Abraham’s brother’s kid. Which is it? Well, both: The Hebrews were tribal, and like all tribal societies, for them “brother” meant anyone from what we’d call “brother” to what we’d call “third cousin by marriage twice removed.” It could even mean simply “someone who grew up in the same village as me” or “fellow Israelite,” since there was obviously a lot of overlap between that and the “cousins” thing. So you can’t just read the thing like a 21st century American and say, “Well, obviously….”

    And likewise the dietary laws, and the laws against mixed-fiber clothes, and so on, kept the recently-enslaved Hebrews functionally separate from other groups, which helped maintain monotheism against the undertow of pagan syncretism, all while the moral laws (“don’t sleep with your mom, Oedipus”) kept things from going hinky in moral ways. It stands to reason that the first group changes as soon as the mission changes from “isolation from the nations” to “evangelism among the nations.” The second group wouldn’t change until either God’s nature, or human nature, or both, change.

    But you may question that logic, which leads to a deeper question: What is Christianity? What moral teachings are, and aren’t a part of it? And for that matter, what theological teachings are, and aren’t a part of it?

    And, how do we know, and know that we know, what Christianity requires and prohibits?

    I get how a person looking in from the outside sees the Catholics, who have this pope dude and what’s that all about? And then there are the Eastern Orthodox who are similar and have bishops and uber-bishops called Metropolitans or Patriarchs or whatever, and how’s that different from the pope? And then there are Protestants, broken into several hundred big other groups that retain some definite structure, and about another ten thousand independent groups with more or less ad-hoc structures.

    So that’s confusing. If one of these groups says “X is forbidden” and another says “X is permissible,” which one is right? Which one “is” Christianity? What does God want from us?

    The usual approach on this in America, which was largely started by Protestants, is “you go to the Bible and look it up.” This has to do with a notion called sola scriptura. But it doesn’t work for me because, as you rightly point out, what about distinctions between the dietary laws of the Jews, which are apparently temporary…or were they? …and moral laws which are apparently forever…or are they? Which are which? Are you a good enough scholar of ancient languages to make that distinction? Does everyone have to be a scholar to be sure they’re being a good Christian?

    And there are other problems with this approach, too: It assumes something about the Bible that there’s no reason to think is true; namely, that the Bible was written intending to be a Catechism: An exhaustive list of everything you needed to know to about Christianity. But it was never written to be that: It even says it’s leaving out a bunch of stuff. (Look at the end of the gospel of John, and places in Paul where he says he’s skipping over topics that the reader ought to already know.) And of course it’s a compendium of a bunch of separately-written texts, none of which claimed to be a Catechism.

    Even if it had been written originally as a single book, the promise that every important doctrine can be found somewhere in that book, stated non-ambiguously, is a promise not found anywhere in the book. The closest thing is a comment Paul makes to Timothy saying that, given that he (Paul) had already taught the fundamentals of Christianity to Timothy, Timothy should now go on to add to this the study of the Scriptures so as to make his training complete. In saying this Paul notes that Greek-speaking Timothy already had been taught a lot about the Scriptures by his mom and grandmother, which tells us that Paul was thinking of the Septuagint: The Old Testament in Greek. (The New Testament wasn’t yet written when Paul was saying this.) So the best you can get from that comment by Paul is: If a person already learned all the fundamentals (from an apostle!), they can complete their training by learning the Old Testament really well, too. Oh, and since God inspired the Old Testament, what they learn if they interpret it correctly will be inerrant, because God makes no mistakes.

    But as for learning all the required fundamentals, that gets one ready for the study of the Old Testament? Yeah, the Bible never says it can deliver that. And as for ensuring that you won’t misinterpret it? Yeah, the Bible never says it can deliver that, either.

    And it obviously can’t. If it could, there wouldn’t be so many topics on which the Bible says so little, leaving one group to answer it one way and another to answer it a different way. I reiterate: There are thousands of competing interpretations. Who’s right?

    I mean, I guess I could just adopt whichever competing interpretation catered most to my own inclinations. But that’s pretty cheesy, isn’t it? It only makes sense if I think my own inclinations are infallible…and I know THAT’S not true!

    But the Bible doesn’t seem to contemplate all this chaos, anyway. It says if there’s a dispute between you and “your brother” (read: co-religionist), talk it over with one other, then a couple of other folks, and if it remains unresolved, “take it to the Church.” There’s no conception of asking “which Church?” Apparently we’re supposed to already know.

    And then there’s the whole stewards/viziers/ministers thing. Apparently in ancient kingdoms the king was too busy leading the army or enjoying the harem to do every little piddling matter of state, so he picked stewards (in the U.K. they’d say “ministers” and in Arabian kingdoms they called them “viziers”) to administer different departments or regions. These weren’t one-person offices like giving someone a medal; they were offices with successors, and as the kingdom added provinces or governance of it got more complicated, new offices were created.

    Now if the king was out-of-town there’d typically be a chief steward (or prime minister, or grand vizier) who’d make decisions on his behalf: The King’s Chief Flunky. Joseph wound up being this for Pharaoh in Egypt; Mordecai was an important vizier in the Esther story after the earlier guy, Haman, got hanged. Daniel got to be an important vizier for a day or two (not that he cared) until the Medes took over Babylon in the whole “writing on the wall” incident.

    The Davidic kings had it too: In Isaiah 22 it talks about a bad grand vizier named Shebna. He’s using kingdom money to build monuments to himself and crap like that, so God gives him the boot and makes a new guy (Eliakim) the new chief steward, and gives him all the hallmarks of that office, which are: a robe of office, a seat of authority, the authority to override the decisions of the other viziers with a final veto (“what he looses, none shall bind, and what he binds, none shall loose”), and the “keys” of the House of David. (That is, of the kingdom and dynasty of David. It’s not like David had a summer house; David was hundreds of years in the grave by then. This was under his great-great-etcetera grandson, Hezekiah.)

    So here’s the deal: Along comes Jesus. He’s the descendant of David, heir to throne, all that. He’s also God, and his whole plan is to transform the Davidic dynasty into a new Kingdom of Heaven. But he’s going to be out of town for however many thousand years. So before he leaves, he tells his apostles, “I’m making you the first occupants of the newly-reinstituted steward offices.” And he tells one of them, Simon the Rock, “I’m making you the chief steward, with the hallmark Keys of the Kingdom. And I’m going to give you guys a special gift: What you bind on earth will have already been bound in Heaven, what you loose on earth will have already been loosed in Heaven. If you bind and loose, it’s only because God already did.”

    Also, it’s clear that these offices have successors, because in Acts 1, Simon the Rock (“Simon Peter,” or “Cephas”) says, ‘Hey guys, Judas is dead and good riddance, but his office is vacant. Let’s pick a successor.” And Matthias replaces Judas. (“Here’s your office, your door-nameplate, the bathroom key…and please, try to do better than the last guy, m’kay?”) Later as evangelizing Gentiles becomes a central issue, Jesus Himself pops in long enough to bring Saul/Paul on board, so apparently as the kingdom grows we’re not limited to 12 stewards.

    So once you get all that down, things start to clear up:

    Where are the successors of the apostles, who hold those offices of leadership, today? And where is the guy who holds the current Grand Vizier/Chief Steward office, whose decisions can veto even the decisions of other stewards? Who, today, holds the authority to render decisions on behalf of the King, with an assurance that what he binds on earth has already been bound in Heaven?

    Once I asked that question, I basically said, “Aw, crap.” I didn’t, y’know, want to become Catholic. Everybody says they’re too leftist bleeding-heart, and too ceremonial, they’re too traditional and hidebound, and too irrational, and too full of Scholasticism, and too everything else.

    But, there it is. This is the Church Jesus set up. This is the way doctrinal disputes were to be resolved. These are the promises associated with it.

    And, incidentally, people who believed all that Catholic stuff, like Augustine and Athanasius and Damasus…these were the guys that gave all Christians their authoritative included/not-included list of the New Testament books, back in the late 4th century. So if I’m gonna bother using the New Testament, I’m already relying on the judgment of guys who were all into sacramental confession and the Real Presence in the Eucharist and all that.

    Pat, that’s certainly far more than you wanted to know.

    But I think, at least, that your question is answered. I think there are good reasons to make the distinction between the laws against homosexual sex, et cetera, and those against shellfish, on a purely text-analysis basis. But if I were uncertain, then…I think there are better reasons to be confident that the Catholic insistence that gay persons are to be respected but gay sex is to be treated as “intrinsically disordered” and a misuse of the human sexual faculty is the correct interpretation of the Bible. Not because I judge it to be — and who’m I, anyhow? — but because Jesus promised it would be, right when he was saying the gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against the church he started.

    Comment by Questioner — April 30, 2012 @ 3:02 pm - April 30, 2012

  114. The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love heterosexuals. It’s just that they need more supervision. Lynn Lavner

    Comment by rusty — April 30, 2012 @ 3:36 pm - April 30, 2012

  115. By the way, I just realized:

    I just used the phrase “hick backwoods fundamentalists.” Please understand: I had to say “hick backwoods” in that phrase, because “fundamentalists,” by itself, does not imply “hick” or “backwoods.” It doesn’t always mean anything negative; I’ve known decent people who self-describe as “fundamentalist,” meaning by it that they do their best to adhere to the fundamentals of the Christian faith. (Some of these folk, recognizing how the term has become associated with Islamism in recent years, have taken to calling themselves “evangelicals” instead, but I feel that there’s a certain pietism and separatism in fundamentalism which doesn’t exist so strongly among evangelicals. The two groups overlap, but I don’t think they’re quite the same.)

    Anyhow, I disagree on some matters of faith with those congregationalist Christians who call themselves “fundamentalists” although I think they and I agree on a lot more than we disagree on. And of all those who call themselves fundamentalists, I do not think they’re all ignorant, benighted, et cetera.

    But I do think that there is a sub-type of fundamentalist that I call the “hick backwoods” kind of fundamentalists who often practices a rather unsophisticated kind of Bible reading…and my point was to say that those attacking the Bible are sometimes rather more unsophisticated even than the “hick backwoods” fundamentalists. That is, they sometimes neglect to do their due diligence in understanding why Text ABC is of a different kind than Text XYZ, and why it’s natural in Christianity to treat them differently without having to call one of them a mistake. Even the “hick backwoods” kind of fundamentalist, with the preacher who got “a call” right out of high-school, went to a two-year Bible college, and went right back to the foothills to help people handle snakes…even that guy shows more basic text awareness than some part-time scoffers with an axe to grind I’ve run across.

    Anyhow, since my words could have been mis-read as an attack on other Christians, or on fundamentalists, I thought I should clarify. I became Catholic (to my surprise); but just as I respect my gay friends as human beings, despite disagreeing with the moral propriety of giving in to a particular category of sexual desire; likewise, I certainly respect other Christians, including fundamentalists, as human beings and as people who seek God.

    Comment by Questioner — April 30, 2012 @ 3:58 pm - April 30, 2012

  116. Questioner, thanks for your response. It does help explain the beliefs of you and others. If it’s okay, I do have a couple of additional questions to help clarify things.

    If I understand what you are saying, that there is no reason to expect that all it is written in the Bible is not to be taken literally, and that it is impossible for the Bible to be complete in terms of what is morally correct. If that is the case, we are certainly in agreement there.

    But then, there needs to be some way to determine which passages should be taken literally (and which shouldn’t), and how to address issues that are not brought up in the Bible. You deem yourself unqualified to determine this for fear that the decisions could be made in self-interest and for other reasons. Thus, you rely on the successor of Jesus (and/or his apostles) to make that determination. And in the Roman Catholic Church, this would be the pope.

    I know this is hypothetical, but permit me if you would. What if a pope (most likely not the current one, but one of his successors) makes a determination (say, via a vision or message from God or whatever), that somehow, we were all wrong (and a good reason that it took 2000 years for this determination), that homosexuality (or use of contraceptives, or masturbation) is not the evil we made it out to be. Would this mean you would feel bound to accept this doctrinal change?

    Pat, that’s certainly far more than you wanted to know.

    Not really. The historical perspective was interesting. Thanks again for your answer.

    Comment by Pat — April 30, 2012 @ 4:04 pm - April 30, 2012

  117. So. GayPatriot, whomever else: Accept my premises for the moment as rational ones (I do). Given that, isn’t it right to say that a person can hold the opinion that gay sexual relations are objectively immoral (and contraceptive use, too, by the way), not so much because of one’s opinions about gay people but on the basis of argument from (true, correct) authority…can one hold that opinion, however uncomfortably, WITHOUT being immediately labeled a “bigot” and a “hater” and whatnot?

    Absolutely, and I would say anyone who would call you a “bigot” or “hater” for believing that is themselves a bigot and a hater.

    I view it like this: I know a lot of people who behave in ways that I disagree with (for example, smoking). I don’t hate them just because they smoke. And I have no reason to believe opposition to homosexual behaviour is based upon bigotry (in general), and it isn’t radically different from my opposition to smoking (although, there is no religious reason for my opposition, but it does violate my moral system), so I see no reason to label as bigots people who view homosexual behaviour as immoral unless I have a reason to.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — April 30, 2012 @ 6:49 pm - April 30, 2012

  118. Well, “The Livewire” told you to just hush, Levi, presumably because he knows more about you from prior experience. But I don’t; so I’ll answer you up to a point.

    First, you don’t seem to have addressed the question. We’re not talking about a person who didn’t get along with gays; we’re talking about a person who did and does and becomes a Christian and then realizes that certain moral conclusions follow inextricably from an honest embrace of Christianity (specifically Catholic Christianity).

    Given that scenario, there is no “rationalizing” of existing bigotry. Quite the contrary: There is discomfort at being forced to reconsider the earlier “whatever floats your boat” attitude but the emotional discomfort is not the same as a rational reason that disproves Christianity, and so the rational embrace of Christianity is held and the uncomfortable moral implications (y’think giving up the use of contraceptives is easy?) are adapted to. “Rationalizing” — that is, trying to cover up an unreasoned decision with an after-the-fact attempt to provide a reason for it — is what would happen if one were to use the issue as a reason why Christianity weren’t true.

    You may be right, but I don’t think what you’re doing is any better. You’re discarding your initial instincts that there isn’t anything immoral about homosexuality or contraception to join a club that says there is, based on specious reasoning at best. Your Catholic church argued until extremely recently that condoms were contributing to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. That kind of moral judgment would scare me off, personally, I don’t care how convinced I was by historical or theological arguments.

    Homosexuality is completely harmless, and there’s few inventions in modern history that have done more to alleviate poverty and empower women than contraception. I don’t presume to know the mind of God, but I can’t imagine a cosmic justification for prohibiting these things. Now, if you view religion as the man-made institution it is, the prohibitions make perfect sense.

    Secondly, about “arguing black people were inherently immoral.” I agree, that’d be bigotry. But surely you see the difference? Being gay — that is, being sexually attracted to persons of the same gender — isn’t immoral in Catholic teaching. And of course the Catholic catechism says a lot about ensuring that people with this kind of attraction receive all the same respect and human rights as anyone with different attractions does. (E.g. people who are sexually attracted to persons not their spouse, people who are sexually turned on by pornography, et cetera; not to mention people whose temptations are utterly non-sexual.)

    It’s doing the thing (whether premarital sex, or adultery, or gay sex, or masturbation) that is held to be immoral, and in this case I think “immoral” should not be taken as a sort of stern frown and waggling finger, but rather as concerns (a.) for the person’s best interests, and (b.) for God’s design and intention for human sexuality…which is to say: for the way he lets us mere human beings (!) participate (!!) with him (!!!) in the creation of new souls (!!!!) who, for good or ill, will outlive the universe (!!!!!). Which, if you think about it, has got to be a pretty important thing. As I understand the character of the teaching, it’s not so much “don’t do that thing” as it is somewhere between “please don’t walk off that cliff, you’ll hurt yourself” and “don’t use the Mona Lisa for your front-door-mat, it’s too special to be used that way.”

    (a.) I think most people would agree that it’s in a person’s best interests to find a monogamous companion. For a gay person, that’s another gay person. What is your alternative? A lifetime of celibate loneliness? Pretending that you like members of the opposite sex and living a lie for your entire life? How do these things support a person’s best interest?

    (b.) From where are you divining ‘God’s design and intention for human sexuality?’ Is there any biblical support for your argument that gay sex is bad because it doesn’t result in children? From what I’ve seen of the Bible, God seems to think gay sex is icky. It’s an abomination, remember that bit? Not because it doesn’t result in new souls. Your reasoning about these organs and activities being ‘too special to be used that way’ also makes recreational heterosexual sex immoral, doesn’t it?

    In fact, it seems to me that the Catholic teaching views gay attraction as being more like the disorder called pica, where people have a desire to eat things that aren’t food: Nothing blameworthy about having that disorder; others have before; but eating sheetrock isn’t good for you, and pairing off with someone else to eat sheetrock mutually isn’t, either; and while it makes sense to avoid unhealthy shame for desires you can’t help having (what’s there to be ashamed about, about something you can’t help?), to go to the opposite extreme and celebrate it and rewrite one’s identity around it seems like overkill.

    Celebrating homosexuality as an identity is a direct result of centuries of homophobia infecting global cultures, usually for religious reasons. You know what I think? Thank God (heh) we live in a time where religion (at least in this country) has been marginalized to the point where people are free to define themselves however they want and not fear retribution or complete social ostracization. Of course, rehabilitating homosexuality in the eyes of a free society is a further embarrassment to a religion that is primarily concerned with maintaining the number of its adherents, and that’s why yours is such a common refrain. Why do these gay people have to be so in my face about their gayness? It’s as much of an intimidation tactic as telling them they’re going to burn in hell for eternity. When you can’t present a reasonable argument against homosexuality, intimidation is most of what you have left.

    So to return to your example of black people being “inherently immoral”: You’d have to come up with an act that could be argued to be inherently immoral for some other reason, and then have black people be born with an unusually high frequency of inherent inclination towards that act, to make the example match. And then I guess the answer would be: Nothing wrong with being black; nothing wrong with being tempted; just don’t do the immoral thing, whether you’re black or white or Latino or Zimmermanesque (all three).

    But here I feel like I have to add emotional context to the moral prohibition: Orgasms are addictive, especially when combined with adrenaline as is typically the case in risky or transgressive sex acts. And human friendship and affection are a positive good, and we can’t do without them. So the injunction “just don’t do it” makes a lot more sense before the first few times than after, just as it does with crack cocaine. After that, it feels (to the person) like you’re telling him not to do something he just can’t not do; and he’ll be giving up a lover or maybe a whole set of them and who wants to volunteer for being alone?

    I get all that and have experienced it in a different context.

    Well, it’s nice that this has occurred to you. This supposedly loving God creates 5 or 10 or 15 percent of the population gay, but then says they can never act on their natural urges or else. That doesn’t sound like a loving God to me, it sounds like a sadist. How people feel about other people is a huge part of an individual’s identity, and for our supposed creator to be selectively testing the gays by granting the desire and prohibiting the act is downright evil. How much needless suffering has this inflicted upon our brothers and sisters? Consider the guilt and anguish that Christians in the closet have felt?

    Why are the gays put to a more difficult test than the rest of us? Do they get a bigger mansion in heaven if they succeed? Is there where you wave your hands and tell me that God works in mysterious ways?

    Anyhow, it seems to me that Christians in general (who reverence the Bible too much to adopt implausible interpretations of it so they can bend the rules on this issue) and Catholics in particular (who have an authoritative interpretation that they can’t invent for themselves and which can’t, by definition, ever reverse itself) are stuck. The more honest they are, the less they’re willing to pretend Christ isn’t who he said he is, or that the moral prohibitions that follow from it aren’t what they are. They are, and it’s pure fantasy to say otherwise. But at the same time, they don’t want to make their friends feel bad if the friend is gay. They aren’t bigoted, and they didn’t stop being a friend just because they became a Christian.

    So: They hold the moral view, and then they try to focus on moral self-correction. (I don’t know many heterosexual Christian men who don’t need to be in better control of their own temptations to masturbation or porn or adultery or pre-marital sex first, long before they criticize their gay friends).

    Needless to say, I don’t think there is a God. Christianity is a conglomeration of the hundreds of desert religions and bits of folklore and iconography that was popular during Constantine’s reign, who saw an opportunity to consolidate power by founding a religion. It’s all man-made, and the sometimes silly, sometimes destructive rules against stuff like homosexuality and contraception is much more easily understood when viewed in that context. Like I said earlier, your earlier instincts were correct – why should gay sex be thought of as such a bad thing? Can you do anything more than give me a ‘because my religion says so’?

    Comment by Levi — May 1, 2012 @ 12:02 am - May 1, 2012

  119. Pat:

    Thanks for your response. I’ll address your questions in order:

    You say: “If I understand what you are saying, that there is no reason to expect that all it is written in the Bible is not to be taken literally…”

    Mmm, there’s something a bit askew in the grammar or structure of that sentence, I think. But I think I get the gist, and I answer as follows:

    Different parts of the Bible were intended by their original (human, albeit divinely inspired) authors to be interpreted in different ways, and we, as latter-day interpreters disconnected from the original authors by two-to-four thousand years (and, for oral traditions later written down, who knows how many thousand years) must be very careful to be attentive to genre of writing and culture and language usage lest we read a parable as if it were a newspaper article…or, on the other hand, a first-hand eyewitness account as a mere fanciful fable with a moral or theological point to make.

    It’s easy to see this if we consider how someone a thousand years from now might be confused if they ran across The Hunt for Red October, a few pages from the Congressional Quarterly, the script for Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, T.S.Eliots Four Quartets, and a transcript from a Fox News broadcast. Would they get that Jack Ryan’s a fictional character but that Ohio-class missile submarines are not fictional? Would they get that Shakespeare’s dialogue was fictional but related real events about real people? Would they have any clue what Eliot was trying to convey at all?

    You might say, well, yes, because from other sources they’d know about the different kinds of literature and the idioms in use…and that’s right, and that’s how the sections of the Bible are viewed. Attentive folks will note that Job features a scene in the throne-room of Heaven, which was presumably not being transcribed by a court-reporter for our benefit, so we know we’re dealing with artistic liberties there. (And nobody but an Ayn Rand hero speaks in such ponderous soliloquies as Job’s friends!) So if Job ever lived, what we have is a treatment of his tragedy comparable to Shakespeare’s artistic representation of Julius Caesar. If he didn’t, then no big deal; the meaning, with all its traditional teaching significance in Judaism and Christianity (that ill-fortune is not to be construed by observers as a sign of sin or divine disfavor, nor good fortune of the opposite) remains intact.

    But a very different kind of thing is found in the court histories of the Davidic kings (1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles) which are probably as reliable as objective (and sometimes dull!) records of real events as the court history of Louis XIV. The worst you can say about them is that they have a decidedly pro-Yahweh editorial slant.

    Then you get to the New Testament, and suddenly you have four eyewitness testimonies in which the only concession to style is to adopt the “vibe” and structures of certain kinds of writing. Matthew is written to a Jewish audience (and was probably translated into Greek from an Aramaic original) and is structured to have an intro, a conclusion, and five main parts, probably in imitation of either the book of Genesis or the Jewish Pentateuch overall. Mark probably targets a Roman audience and thus dispenses with items primarily of interest to Jews but uses a then-common writing structure common for portraying political figures or military leaders in a heroic aspect. Luke was apparently a Gentile and a doctor, and approaches the whole with a historian’s eye for interviewing eyewitnesses and getting backstory and relating physical detail; you get some of Mary’s family history and the flow of blood and water at the crucifixion (fluid accumulating in the pericardial sac apparently causes this). And John, writing as late as 90 AD, seems both interested in emphasizing doctrinally important teachings of Jesus that the other guys skimped on for insufficient action (e.g. the John 6 Bread of Life discourse) and on selecting moments from Jesus’ life with no regard for chronology but rather for painting a picture. John’s style is about 50% of the way between normal writing and the lyrics to a 70′s Yes song…and like Jon Anderson, John seems to have been about love and light and life and mystical union in a big way. (We’re pretty sure the same “John” wrote the three letters bearing the name John towards the end of the New Testament, and also the Revelation/Apocalypse; accounting for sometimes using a secretary, the style fits.) Acts, by the way, is “Book II, What Happened Next” for the gospel of Luke, so you get more of Luke’s perspective, gathered from eyewitness reports for the first half, and then his own testimony from the second half onward, after he met Paul and entered the story himself.

    I describe all that to indicate that, while there’s some style going on in there and the artistic voice of each author is present, it’s just silly to take the events related therein as myth. These documents were written within the lifetimes of most of the folk described in them; and either Matthew or Mark (there’s debate about which came first) within 15-20 years of the Resurrection. The earliest of Paul’s letters was probably earlier than that, and some items mentioned (scraps of early hymns and creeds which are quoted) clearly originated within the first 3-5 years. Legends grow over stretches of centuries; these documents are no more to be read as legendary than a scrap of CNN Headline News.

    So, to do adequate respect to the text, you read it as the original author intended it to be read. Jesus’ parables are parables; but Jesus’ miracles are some guy saying “holy crap, did you see THAT?” but with the benefit of 20 years’ hindsight, writing his memoirs.

    You add,

    “…and that it is impossible for the Bible to be complete in terms of what is morally correct. If that is the case, we are certainly in agreement there. ”

    Well, I would stipulate that it is impossible for the Bible to be materially and unambiguously complete. Whether it is formally complete is another matter; many folk argue that it is. This may be a distinction you’re unfamiliar with.

    It was not intended as a Catechism. So when Paul wrote his letters to “The Church in City XYZ,” he’d often say, “Hey, let’s skip over the basics about baptism and ordination and repentance from dead works and all that, and let me deal with the problems you’re having now.” You hear his approach to the problems early Christians are having; you don’t hear much about what they’re doing right. So if you ask, “Is it possible to know exactly what Jesus and the Apostles said was right and wrong, about any conceivable moral topic, from gay sex to lying to protect hidden Jews from the Nazis,” from the Bible alone, without plausible alternative interpretations, the answer is, “No.” Some topics will not be directly mentioned; of those that are, it may be such a glancing or opaque treatment that several interpretations are possible.

    There is, however, a school of opinion which says that if the Bible is read in the context of a sufficient critical mass of Church tradition and authoritative teaching, all the necessary allusions can be reliably interpreted and the opaque passages sufficiently understood to give all the core doctrines of Christianity, or at least to allow you to know which Church you should go to to get those core doctrines taught to you. This is called “formal sufficiency” as opposed to “material sufficiency.”

    But that there are terms for such concepts should clarify at least that no-one can be expected to just pick up a translation of the Bible for the first time, without prior preparation and find any question answered to their satisfaction, without room for misinterpretation. You can learn a lot, of course…and people have suddenly become Christians and gone on to lead very saintly lives after such a random experience of Scripture…but that’s not, I think, the norm. I think that kind of thing is just God being unexpectedly generous for his own reasons, and a person responding in a wholehearted way.

    But one final thing: Saying you can’t get every question answered to a comfortable certainty doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty you can get answered. Read 1 Corinthians 5 and try to come away from it with any uncertainty about whether it’s okay to have sex with your stepmother!

    You add,

    “But then, there needs to be some way to determine which passages should be taken literally (and which shouldn’t), and how to address issues that are not brought up in the Bible.”

    Yes. It’s not so much about the literal/not-literal thing. Once you know about styles of writing, that stuff is usually pretty easily distinguished. But take the story of Onan in Genesis: They guy’s brother dies; he has an obligation to marry the widow and sire sons for his brother to carry on his brother’s name (“levirate marriage,” a cultural thing back then); he marries her but pulls out rather than impregnate her because he doesn’t want kids that aren’t his, and “God slew him”; he dies. Obviously there’s moral disapproval of what Onan did here, but of which part? Failing to give his brother a family line? Coitus interruptus? Using his brother’s widow for sex? Failing to provide her with sons to support her in her old age? The text offers clues, but your average non-expert is unaware that (a.) when the Bible describes a licit sex act, it tends to “pan to the fireplace” and describe it in vague or poetic terms (“he knew his wife”) but when it indicates disapproval, the language gets blunt and graphic; and (b.) the punishment for refusing one’s levirate obligation was public shaming rather than death. Also often overlooked is the fact that Onan was potentially interrupting the genealogy of Jesus by doing it. So it’s those kinds of questions, more than the “literal/non-literal” thing, that get hairy.

    You say,
    “Thus, you rely on the successor of Jesus (and/or his apostles) to make that determination. And in the Roman Catholic Church, this would be the pope.”

    Yes. Or, more precisely, the “Magisterium”; that is, the normal teaching authority by which the Holy Spirit (which is to say, God) guides the teaching authorities of the Church to teach without error sufficiently well to allow the truth to remain uncorrupted over centuries without thereby squelching any human’s free will to disobey it if he chooses.

    This teaching authority (see Matthew 16 and 18, and Acts 1 and 15) is found normally through the bishops. Those were the offices of whom Jesus said that what they bound on earth was already bound in Heaven. That’s a simultaneous reference to three conceptions of “binding and loosing” common among Jews in second temple Judaism: That associated with priestly forgiveness and declaring clean, that associated with the stewards’ offices under the Davidic kingdom, and that associated with rabbinical schools like those of Hillel and Shammai. Jesus was making his apostles, and their successors, stewards in his kingdom, rabbis to authoritatively teach his flock, and priests who could declare people’s sins officially forgiven (see John 20).

    Now that’s the Catholic view. The Eastern Orthodox view is almost identical except that they hedge a bit on the chief steward role of the pope, saying that his superiority is one of preeminence but not a divinely-guaranteed veto; there are a lot of political reasons why there isn’t full communion with Catholics, exacerbated by historical mutual grievances.

    Protestants take a very different view…but as it was part of my “spiritual journey” that I firmly decided against the two battle-cries of Luther and Calvin (sola scriptura and sola fide), I wouldn’t be able to provide a fair defense except to say that in the 16th century Luther really did raise some serious valid complaints against failures of Catholics to live up to what Catholicism said they should be, but his own scrupulosity and tendency to bombast and overkill got the better of him. After that it all turned very political and commercial and Henry VIII converted all the monasteries into summer homes for his political favorites, and lots of people died in land-grabs. Very nasty, and as much a blight on those Christians as that whole golden calf thing was on the Hebrews.

    Anyhow, Protestants reject the idea that Jesus left His Church with a reliable teaching authority, and argue instead that the Holy Spirit allows folk to understand as much as God needs them to understand purely from the Bible alone. Having said all I’ve said, you know I disagree with that. But in defense of Protestants (including a lot of my family) I’ll say that God does really cool things among them too, because so many of them are sincerely wishing to follow God. I can’t say the lack of reliable, certain doctrinal interpretation doesn’t sometimes bite them on the arse, but miracles and changed lives happen nonetheless. God’s always generous to the humble of heart.

    Now to your hypothetical:

    “What if a pope (most likely not the current one, but one of his successors) makes a determination (say, via a vision or message from God or whatever), that somehow, we were all wrong (and a good reason that it took 2000 years for this determination), that homosexuality (or use of contraceptives, or masturbation) is not the evil we made it out to be. Would this mean you would feel bound to accept this doctrinal change?”

    Yes. I would.

    But there’s a big caveat there…and the guy who can explain it to you best is a guy named John Henry Newman in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, if you can put up with the 19th century prose style.

    In brief, though: The job of the bishop of Rome (the pope) and the other bishops is primarily to deliver the “apostolic deposit of faith”, the “faith once for all delivered to the apostles” reliably from generation to generation. Now that makes it sound as if nothing new is ever added. How then, is Christianity supposed to deal with new questions that arise that no-one in the 1st century thought to ask?

    The answer is that when you have True Fact X and True Fact Y, and in combination they necessarily imply True Fact Z, then in a sense by declaring Z, you aren’t saying anything new: It was already there implicit in X and Y. But knowing that Z is necessarily implied and that some alternative Q isn’t equally possible, is the trick.

    The idea with the Magisterium (the pope’s encyclicals, the pronouncements of ecumenical councils, the day-in-day-out settled teaching of the Christian faith) is that for two thousand years, it’s been declaring Z, and after some new Z’s get declared, sometimes two of them become the new X and Y on which a new Z gets declared. But it’s still all rooted in the “apostolic faith.”

    One consequence of this is a principle of non-contradiction. It’s one thing to say, “X and Y, therefore Z.” That’s fine. But you can’t say, “X and Y, therefore Not-X.” You can’t develop a conclusion out of premises if that conclusion contradicts a fixed earlier premise.

    So if you understand that, and if you understand that the Magisterium’s job according to itself is not to make up new stuff but just go on exhibiting implications of the old stuff, then…you see the problem with your hypothetical.

    It’d be one thing if the ordinary Magisterial teaching of the Church didn’t have, quite apart from the very clear passages of Scripture and the witness of Jewish and Christian history, a firm teaching of rejecting gay sex as morally illicit. If that didn’t exist, then a new Z saying it was okay wouldn’t be in contradiction with some previous X or Y.

    But the record is unambiguous. Sexual morality is always a big topic among humans (go figure) so it’s endlessly discussed. Also, Jesus said something pretty astonishing, nearly unbelievable, about God’s design for marriage, producing Christianity as the only religion in history to suggest that marriage was to be monogamous and sacramental and divorce impossible for spiritual reasons and a reflection of the Eucharist and of the Church’s mystical marriage to Christ. Marital sex is for marriage what the Eucharist is for Church membership…and remember that for Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, that bread and wine somehow mystically IS GOD.

    People think Christians, and Catholics in particular, look down on sex, simply because they reserve it for marriage, and some of them never marry. But it’s quite the contrary: They put sex on such a level of importance and beauty and mystical significance that they’d sooner use a Ferrari to pull an off-road log-cart than suggest sex is okay for anything less than emulating God’s eternal, faithful, and life-giving love for humanity.

    So I don’t think you could ever see a papal or Magisterial pronouncement of the kind you suggest. It would be to conclude Not-X from a whole heckuva lot of X. It would be obvious error. It would, if taught officially as a dogma of faith or morals, prove the Magisterial notion wrong, and thus the promise of Jesus in the Bible false, and thus falsify Christianity.

    Despite all their sinfulness, no pope has ever done that before, in 2,000 years. (Indeed, the Borgia popes were too busy sinning to bother teaching anything doctrinally.) The men themselves are sinful, but the teaching is as stable as…well, as stable as a Rock, which is probably part of what Jesus meant when he gave the title “Rock” to the first of his chief stewards, Simon, renaming him to “Peter” (which means “rock.”)

    The prophecy in Daniel of the four kingdoms similarly suggests that the kingdom of the “Son of Man” (the last of the five kingdoms in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue, following Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, see Daniel 2 and Daniel’s parallel vision in Daniel 7) would have this rock-like quality to it.

    So I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a sudden on-a-dime reversal of an earlier moral doctrine. Even if you don’t think God is the sustaining power behind this oldest of all continuous human institutions, you still have to realize that a flat contradiction of an earlier doctrine simply falsifies the whole religion for them. It is, to put it mildly, an unlikely event.

    Comment by Questioner — May 1, 2012 @ 12:19 am - May 1, 2012

  120. there needs to be some way to determine which passages should be taken literally (and which shouldn’t), and how to address issues that are not brought up in the Bible.

    There is. It’s called ‘prayer.’

    Comment by V the K — May 1, 2012 @ 5:43 am - May 1, 2012

  121. Irreligious people have a badly mistaken notion about the role of the Bible. Yes, it is a respository of Eternal and Unchanging Truth, but most Christians use scripture as guide, and it takes considerable study, prayer, analysis and real-world experience to properly understand it.

    To make an analogy, your car’s owner’s manual contains a lot of essential information, but memorizing it isn’t enough to make you a good driver.

    And part of what is obnoxiously hypocritical about Dan Savage and his ilk is they accuse their opponents of “cherry-picking” from the Bible in order to oppose homosexuality; then he turns around and cherry picks from the Bible in order to attack his opponents.

    Comment by V the K — May 1, 2012 @ 9:05 am - May 1, 2012

  122. There is. It’s called ‘prayer.’

    V the K, that is certainly one way, and probably what most do regarding matters of faith and moral issues. I was asking more in context of Questioner’s argument, which appeared to be something instead of, or in addition to, prayer.

    Comment by Pat — May 1, 2012 @ 10:16 am - May 1, 2012

  123. Irreligious people have a badly mistaken notion about the role of the Bible.

    This is because irreligious people can not commit their bodies and souls to the concept of faith and fidelity in the expectation that they can be an ever better human being.

    When the irreligious have an epiphany moment like “the audacity of hope and change”, they jump on it as the latest fad freeway to Utopia and they sneer at all the others who are plodding along trying to be and do good and fighting their innate and ever-present impulse to do a little evil.

    To the irreligious, the religious are peasants consumed with ghosts and goalies and things that go bump in the night.

    Levi @ #117:

    How much needless suffering has this inflicted upon our brothers and sisters? Consider the guilt and anguish that Christians in the closet have felt?

    Levi the “secular humanist” jumps to the defense of gays, but omits the “suffering inflicted upon our brothers and sisters who are arsonists, cannibals, pedophiles, lovers of zoophilia, sadists, masochists, misogynists, man-haters, misanthropes, necrophiliacs, necrophoedipals, etc.

    Levi can not “reason” out why he opposes pedophilia and not homosexual acts. He is stuck with resorting to the Rule of Common Sense as Laid Down By Levi. He is very comfortable there. But not really. He is deeply disturbed by people of religion. How do I know? Because he will throw himself in here at the least opportunity to denigrate religion. It gnaws at him. He hallucinates about it ruining his life and the life of others. It is his favorite bête noire and his bigotry toward it knows no bounds and he is so smug and comfortable in his bigotry that attacking religion is his cause célèbre.

    The conversion of Levi to faith and understanding would be a true miracle. At least God has given him Jon Stewart and Bill Maher to shield and comfort him in his need for affirmation.

    Levi would ask, of course, why God did not make man perfect and give him Utopia and everlasting peace. That is the sum total of Levi’s insight into religion.

    Comment by heliotrope — May 1, 2012 @ 10:42 am - May 1, 2012

  124. Questioner, thanks for your response. I recently found out that I have a distant cousin (a second cousin of my grandmother) who was appointed by the pope to be the Eparch/Bishop of the U.S. Eparchy of the Melkite Catholic Church. So I did some research of the history of the Church, and its connection with the Roman Catholic Church. Apparently, they share many of the doctrines of the RC Church, but there are some differences. For example, Bishop Samra is pushing to allow married men to become ordained priests (although I think if you become a priest first, you may still not be able to get married after).

    Your basis for your beliefs is very thorough, and I do understand how you came to belief system, and I am glad you shared them. However, I do disagree. It does involve some premises that you assume to be true. And it does look like the belief system is like a house of cards that can easily fall IMHO. In fact, various Christian groups believes that is the case as you acknowledge.

    A lot of people have given thought to, and have conducted much research regarding, matters of faith and morals as you have. Some spend their entire life doing so, such as clergy or other theologians. And people have come to different conclusions. Enough so, that Christianity split from Judaism (with today’s four main branches), and Christian groups, such as several Orthodox, many Protestant, Episcopal, Mormon, and others split from the Catholic Church or from the previous groups mentioned.

    I get that much of this comes from faith, and having to accept things that cannot be proved. That’s fine. But that is why we do have different belief systems, even with Catholics, let alone Christianity and other religions.

    I have come to the conclusion that homosexuality (and acting on it in a responsible manner) is not immoral. Sure, you can easily argue that I do so as a matter of convenience. Perhaps so. But there are other aspects of my life that can and should be improved, and attempt to do so, as opposed to just accepting those things as a matter of convenience. You could also argue that I really haven’t given the same deep and thorough thought and consideration and/or not religious enough to make that determination. Also a fair point. But there are people on this site, and elsewhere, gay and straight, who are religious, have put their time in, and have made a determination similar to mine regarding homosexuality. I realize this doesn’t make me right, or I could be right for the wrong reasons.

    So I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a sudden on-a-dime reversal of an earlier moral doctrine. Even if you don’t think God is the sustaining power behind this oldest of all continuous human institutions, you still have to realize that a flat contradiction of an earlier doctrine simply falsifies the whole religion for them. It is, to put it mildly, an unlikely event.

    I wouldn’t be holding my breath as you suggest. I do appreciate you answering the hypothetical, even though you have determined that such an occurrence would be extremely unlikely.

    But what happens sometimes in logic, as you probably know, is you start with a premise X, which leads to Y, which leads to Z, etc. And what can happen is that not Y or not Z, can end up occurring. The conclusion from this is that the premise not X was really true. Or, as Godel proved, in some cases, X, even with omniscience, cannot be proved to be true or proved to be false. My thinking is the existence of God may fall within that realm. Who knows?

    Comment by Pat — May 1, 2012 @ 10:54 am - May 1, 2012

  125. Pat,

    I have met only a few people who could write with the clarity and understanding that “Questioner” has brought to this thread. It is the gift of a true intellectual in the Society of Jesus who has read widely and understood the works and has developed the talent and skill to synthesize in a profoundly articulate manner.

    Your curiosity addressed to “Questioner” is evidence of you willingness to understand and to address your own belief system. I applaud your honesty.

    You will not, however, find the way to get homosexual acts removed from the list of sins. What you will find is the pathway, if you will take it. That is not the choice of men and women of faith. It is your choice alone.

    But at no time are you denied the love of God in your life. That is what usually confounds and confuses the irreligious or those who go religion shopping in hopes of finding the church fashioned to look the other way in some particular areas. I would suggest that the modern Church of England, The Wandering and Feeling Its Way Toward Pop Culture Branch, is open to sin elimination in exchange for increased membership.

    Comment by heliotrope — May 1, 2012 @ 10:55 am - May 1, 2012

  126. So true. . .I have met only a few people who could write with the clarity and understanding that “Questioner” has brought to this thread. It is the gift of a true intellectual in the Society of Jesus who has read widely and understood the works and has developed the talent and skill to synthesize in a profoundly articulate manner.

    Brings back my yearning to return to my Jesuit education back in the 80s. Was able to spend time with good Jesuit folk while in Portland over the weekend. Had a great post dinner conversation with some Jesuit folk, an atheist, a Buddhist, and we laughed &pondered with such joy and wonder.

    Comment by rusty — May 1, 2012 @ 12:00 pm - May 1, 2012

  127. [...] harangue against Leviticus where he reacted to some students who walked out on his speech by calling them “pansies”. The student walk-out was precipitated by Professor of Sexytime Studies Savage’s declaration [...]

    Pingback by It Gets Better But Not For You Pansies — May 1, 2012 @ 12:09 pm - May 1, 2012

  128. Heliotrope, I appreciate your comments, and agree regarding Questioner.

    I realize that I won’t be able to get homosexual acts off the list of sins. The way I see it, it’s either on God’s list or it’s not. We have no way of knowing for certain. All we can do is make our best guess. My best guess is that it isn’t. As such, I act accordingly. Like I alluded to above, I’m not perfect, and can certainly improve myself in many ways. But I sincerely do not believe that acting on my sexual orientation in a responsible fashion is sinful. If I thought it was, I would not have committed to my partner. I acknowledge that I may be wrong, and face and accept God’s judgment if and when it comes to that.

    Comment by Pat — May 1, 2012 @ 4:25 pm - May 1, 2012

  129. Pat:

    Your response is reasonable and understandable. (And, thanks, to you and Heliotrope, for your kind words.)

    I found your comment about your distant cousin especially interesting, since I also have a Melkite Catholic family member; she married my uncle. I attended their wedding liturgy, which was quite beautiful.

    I notice that you describe the Melkite Catholics in the following way: “they share many of the doctrines of the RC Church, but there are some differences. For example, Bishop Samra is pushing to allow married men to become ordained priests (although I think if you become a priest first, you may still not be able to get married after).”

    Not to be a noodge, but that isn’t quite right, although it’s very close. The Melkites share all the same dogma and doctrines with other Catholics, including the Latin Rite (or “Roman”) Catholics. But they have certain disciplines which are different, and are of a different “rite.”

    As I understand it, what a Catholic (whether their rite is Latin or Melkite or Coptic or Ethiopic or Maronite or Syro-Malankaran or Chaldean or Byzantine) is taught as they learn their faith is a combination of the Three D’s: dogma, doctrine, and discipline. Along with these, they tend also to absorb various devotional practices and opinions.

    Dogma refers to something infallibly declared by the Magisterium, either by the pope (in extraordinary cases) or more commonly in a doctrinal definition from a council, or merely because it’s what the Church has taught consistently forever.

    Doctrine isn’t quite dogma because it hasn’t been officially set in stone, but it’s pretty close because it involves things which are pretty unquestionably implied by those things which are set in stone as dogma. Typically there’s a general gist which is accepted by everyone, but there may be wiggle room for disagreement about particulars. For example, the Just War Doctrine articulates that for a war to be just, there is a high threshold of justification involving significant harms and legitimate authority and intent to avoid harm to innocents and whatnot. But how exactly all that should be applied is something on which persons can differ. So doctrine is quite important, and nobody’s going to reverse a doctrine by declaring the utter opposite (e.g., saying that war’s great fun and you should start one whenever the mood strikes), but it doesn’t always have the crisply defined lines of a formal dogma.

    Discipline is an interesting matter and bears on the difference you noted between Eastern Catholics (including the Melkites) and Latin-Rite or Western Catholics. One of the jobs of the shepherds of Christ’s flock is to coordinate and regularize practices and policies which will benefit the faithful, especially when some common standard is needed. No moral or doctrinal issue is at stake regarding what standard is adopted, but it’s either useful or necessary that there be a standard. (As with traffic laws: It’s no big deal whether a country allows folks to drive on the right or the left side of the road…but by golly somebody’d better set the standard!)

    Now the bishops of the Western Church have put in place such disciplines as (a.) priests normally may not be married, and (b.) folks should abstain from meat-eating on Fridays during Lent as a penitential discipline, exempting fish, and some days of special penitential significance the discipline is to take little or no food at all.

    But because there aren’t issues of moral or theological truth at stake with disciplines, exceptions are made: Many clergy converts who entered the Catholic priesthood after becoming Catholic were married before they were Catholic (I can think of several former Lutherans and Anglicans off the top of my head). They are now married Catholic priests, and it is all in good order. Likewise, penitential fasting and abstinence exempts those with medical conditions which make such practices unwise, and the elderly, and the very young.

    And disciplines change over time and sometimes from one diocese to another. The admonition “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” was originally, I think, from Saint Ambrose, advising the young not-yet-Saint Augustine who asked when he should do his fasting, seeing that the practice in Rome differed from that in Milan, and he spent time in both places. And Western Catholics formerly were under a discipline to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the whole year; now, that’s only in Lent and they’re more generally admonished to make some special penitential effort of prayer or good works on Fridays outside Lent.

    Anyway, all Catholics agree on Dogma or they wouldn’t be Catholic. And all Catholics agree on Doctrine except where those vague edges permit some variation, as on certain complex issues of predestination, free-will, grace, and works.

    But married priests (though not bishops) is the common Eastern practice from early Christianity. Non-married priests is the common practice from the West. There are commendable things about both disciplines, so the admonition (attributed uncertainly to St. Augustine) of “in essential things, unity; in non-essential things, liberty; in all things, charity” applies here: It is not essential that a discipline be the same in every place and time, so there is liberty for alteration there; but it is essential that there be certain orderly standards set, so that there be unity among Catholics in a given place and time. (And hopefully everyone’s being relatively charitable about it all.)

    Comment by Questioner — May 1, 2012 @ 7:07 pm - May 1, 2012

  130. Yup, Questioner can most definitely churn out some verbiage and clearly has a much greater understanding of his religion’s history than most. But people can write about Star Trek that much, too. At the end of the day, fiction is fiction, and if you think yours entitles you to admonish people for having gay sex, you’re still just as much of a dick as the people waving around the God Hates Fags banners. What a religion that concerns itself so obsessively with something so mundane and inconsequential when war, famine, and poverty are still rampaging through the developing world. Whether you’re a bigot or not, you religious types don’t seem to have your priorities in order.

    Comment by Levi — May 1, 2012 @ 10:50 pm - May 1, 2012

  131. What a religion that concerns itself so obsessively with something so mundane and inconsequential when war, famine, and poverty are still rampaging through the developing world.

    Spoken by a devotee of the dogma whose idea of high intellectual achievement is to smash and vandalize private property and whose attempts to build their own society turned into a public health hazard.

    I remain endlessly amused by people like Levi who declare the generations of architects, clerics, scholars, and artists who built the Catholic Church in all of its glories and whose contributions to Western civilization are virtually inestimable to all have been moronic, superstitious idiots — while Levi and his fellow super-geniuses huddle under torn canvases eating rotten food and wallowing in their own rat-infested filth.

    I would say, “Physician, heal thyself” — if Levi and his Obama Party ilk hadn’t already demonstrated that they are so ignorant that they need the government to tell them not to sleep in their own feces.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — May 1, 2012 @ 11:18 pm - May 1, 2012

  132. Questioner, thanks for clarifying the difference between doctrine and discipline. I do recall when reading about the history, there was a period when the Melkite Church was straying too far from the Roman Catholic disciplines (or perhaps considering a change of doctrine), but the powers that be worked through it.

    The part of my family (two great grandparents and their siblings, parents, cousins, etc.) that came from Turkish Syria (mostly Aleppo) in the early 1900s were Melkite Catholics. But when they came here some of them and/or their children became Roman Catholics while others and their children remained Melkite Catholics. My guess is your aunt’s parent(s) or grandparent(s) also came from Aleppo.

    Comment by Pat — May 1, 2012 @ 11:47 pm - May 1, 2012

  133. Pat:

    I’m not sure about the Aleppo thing. It’d be interesting to ask.

    I think the period in history you’re thinking of was a stretch during which the Melkites were either separated from full communion with the bishop of Rome (along the same lines as the Eastern Orthodox are now) or else were thought possibly to be separated but weren’t or shouldn’t have been. I just looked up a Wikipedia article on it and I’m still not sure I get what the Melkite status vis-a-vis Rome actually was from 1054, when the bishops of Rome and Constantinople told each other to “talk to the hand,” up until 1729. But in 1729 the pope settled it by recognizing the Melkites as being in full communion with the Catholic (specifically Roman) Church. Not that I knew any of that without Wikipedia.

    Comment by Questioner — May 2, 2012 @ 7:42 am - May 2, 2012

  134. Levi:

    I get where you’re coming from; I just don’t agree (any more; at one point I did).

    I think that God doesn’t just exist but that he is the self-existent source of all existence. And that raises all the usual questions about free will and human personhood and the problem of evil and everything else.

    But I also think Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, if only (initially) because the claim seemed less crazy than the alternative explanations of events. So that’s (at the very least) the kind of thermodynamic miracle (wildly improbable event) that begs some looking into. And if you read my earlier notes, you pretty much know my path from there.

    Look, you’re in your own place and on your own path and I don’t have any hatred for you for where you are on it. (How could I? It’d be like hating myself from years back. And while I wasn’t any more perfect then than I am now, I wasn’t someone who deserved hating.)

    I just popped up here to ask the question about whether even conservative folks who were pro-gay-marriage and whatever could deal with me and my views without lapsing into name-calling. Apparently a lot can, so: Asked, answered.

    And, yeah, in the last several years I did some serious reading both about (and in) the Bible and about history. I even read a bunch of the early Church fathers (and made a brief effort to learn how to read the Greek New Testament, which quickly went by the wayside). So, yeah, for a layperson I guess I became a bit of a history nerd.

    But I think Jesus rose from the dead. Star Trek and whatever else is fun (I like Firefly myself but I’m not nerd level in any of the fandoms), but if I (and the other Christians) are right about Jesus then learning all this stuff, if you have time, is not a crazy waste of time. It makes sense. If God exists there is no more important fandom, or indeed topic of serious consideration. And if he bothered to show up here, in drag as a human if you like, then that’s worth finding out about.

    So, sorry for the excess verbiage. Lots to say, I guess. But it seemed a good topic to learn about.

    Comment by Questioner — May 2, 2012 @ 7:55 am - May 2, 2012

  135. If God exists there is no more important fandom, or indeed topic of serious consideration. And if he bothered to show up here, in drag as a human if you like, then that’s worth finding out about.

    Beautifully put. And I would add that even if God did not exist (I believe He does, for the record), a person loses absolutely nothing in spending time studying and learning the great spiritual traditions of our species or participating in communities of faith. Religion serves as a wondrous repository of proven wisdom that has endured through centuries. One of the things that has always struck me reading the Bible is how little human nature has changed in 5,000 years; the struggles of the Old and New Testaments are very much with us today.

    Comment by V the K — May 2, 2012 @ 8:07 am - May 2, 2012

  136. Let us not forget that Levi, while demanding evidence of the Divine, has already expressed his belief in magic rocks and President Bush being culpable in 9/11. He also believes in AGW, no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary.

    This is why I always laugh when Levi feels he has to deride religion to make himself feel adequate.

    Comment by The Livewire — May 2, 2012 @ 8:23 am - May 2, 2012

  137. Livewire, Levi is a person who would definitely benefit from religion. He might learn to be less self-centered and more empathetic toward others, perhaps learn to analyse issues beyond a superficial level of cliches and talking points, he might learn that he’s not entitled to take from others just because he covets what they have, he might learn that freedom is a gift from God and desiring to drag people kicking and screaming into a world that has no freedom is a form of evil, he might learn to respect sexual congress and the creation as something more special than a recreational activity. Religion might actually give him depth and humanity.

    If he ever tried it.

    Comment by V the K — May 2, 2012 @ 11:04 am - May 2, 2012

  138. Levi:

    I get where you’re coming from; I just don’t agree (any more; at one point I did).

    I think that God doesn’t just exist but that he is the self-existent source of all existence. And that raises all the usual questions about free will and human personhood and the problem of evil and everything else.

    But I also think Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, if only (initially) because the claim seemed less crazy than the alternative explanations of events. So that’s (at the very least) the kind of thermodynamic miracle (wildly improbable event) that begs some looking into. And if you read my earlier notes, you pretty much know my path from there.

    If God exists and he wants me to believe in him, he knows where to find me. As hard as you try to persuade me that you were convinced for reasonable reasons that this wildly improbable, thermodynamic miracle took place, you and I both know it’s just as much an article of faith as belief in God itself. Surely you can recognize that in the 2000 years it has taken for this story to filter down to you, there have been many opportunities for ambitious and conniving people to manipulate this information to their own political and economic ends, can’t you?

    You get me in the room with your wildly improbably thermodynamic miracle and then we’ll talk. I think that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and to me, a story from the Bronze Age isn’t even close.

    Look, you’re in your own place and on your own path and I don’t have any hatred for you for where you are on it. (How could I? It’d be like hating myself from years back. And while I wasn’t any more perfect then than I am now, I wasn’t someone who deserved hating.)

    I just popped up here to ask the question about whether even conservative folks who were pro-gay-marriage and whatever could deal with me and my views without lapsing into name-calling. Apparently a lot can, so: Asked, answered.

    And, yeah, in the last several years I did some serious reading both about (and in) the Bible and about history. I even read a bunch of the early Church fathers (and made a brief effort to learn how to read the Greek New Testament, which quickly went by the wayside). So, yeah, for a layperson I guess I became a bit of a history nerd.

    But I think Jesus rose from the dead. Star Trek and whatever else is fun (I like Firefly myself but I’m not nerd level in any of the fandoms), but if I (and the other Christians) are right about Jesus then learning all this stuff, if you have time, is not a crazy waste of time. It makes sense. If God exists there is no more important fandom, or indeed topic of serious consideration. And if he bothered to show up here, in drag as a human if you like, then that’s worth finding out about.

    If God exists and he wants me to believe in him, he knows where to find me. As hard as you try to persuade me that you were convinced for reasonable reasons that this wildly improbable, thermodynamic miracle took place, you and I both know it’s just as much an article of faith as belief in God itself. Surely you can recognize that in the 2000 years it has taken for this story to filter down to you, there have been many opportunities for ambitious and conniving people to manipulate this information to their own political and economic ends, can’t you? Isn’t that a better alternative explanation?

    You get me in the room with your wildly improbably thermodynamic miracle and then we’ll talk. I think that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and to me, a story from the Bronze Age isn’t even close.

    So, sorry for the excess verbiage. Lots to say, I guess. But it seemed a good topic to learn about.

    No need to apologize. I enjoy talking about this stuff and I have a lot to say about it, too.

    Comment by Levi — May 3, 2012 @ 2:58 am - May 3, 2012

  139. Livewire, Levi is a person who would definitely benefit from religion. He might learn to be less self-centered and more empathetic toward others, perhaps learn to analyse issues beyond a superficial level of cliches and talking points, he might learn that he’s not entitled to take from others just because he covets what they have, he might learn that freedom is a gift from God and desiring to drag people kicking and screaming into a world that has no freedom is a form of evil, he might learn to respect sexual congress and the creation as something more special than a recreational activity. Religion might actually give him depth and humanity.

    If he ever tried it.

    I’m self-centered? Which of us thinks that God created the universe and filled it with billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars, all for him? You think you have the power to communicate with the creator of all space and time, and you’d call me self-centered?

    I don’t have depth or humanity? Wow, you are putting on an empathy clinic.

    I’d love to try V to the K, I just don’t know which one. There are thousands of religions. Would Scientology give me depth? Would Islam give me humanity? Why don’t you tell me what’s wrong with all of those thousands of religions and why yours is the only one that has it right?

    Comment by Levi — May 3, 2012 @ 3:12 am - May 3, 2012

  140. Levi,

    You are addicted to atheism. End of story.

    But not quite. You can’t keep it to yourself. You have to be pugnacious and obnoxious. You and Jon Stewart seem to be drawn to be bullies about religion. Understandably, this is because you feel bullied by religion. Apparently, you can not find happiness in atheism so long as what eats at you in religion is not properly “debunked” and erased.

    So, little buddy, what is the core of what eats at you. You may take all of the time on the couch you like. There is no charge for your catharsis, be it rambling, near coherent or just full of sweet revenge, release and reaffirmation.

    Comment by heliotrope — May 3, 2012 @ 7:08 pm - May 3, 2012

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