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Old 04-08-2006, 01:56 AM   #121
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Okay, now the real test. Does culture, as opposed to just genetics, have an effect on the way people look? The following men are all of Jewish descent, but one of them is French, one American, and one Israeli.

http://www.rushkoff.com/profiles/jew...files/doug.gif
http://www.pulp.net/images/08/etgar-keret.jpg
http://www.american-buddha.com/valenciasinger8.jpg

 
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Old 04-08-2006, 09:25 AM   #122
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Well, possibly many Germans do feel suspicious of their own genetics, but I think it's pretty silly to focus on there being an actual genetic “flaw” in Germans that makes them predisposed to the kind of behavior that contributed to the Holocaust. Not even to wonder, but just to focus and internalize. I realize you're just saying this is something people talk about, and I can definitely understand how that would be a particular obsession, but I think it's up to individual people to overcome that sort of pressure and live their lives regardless. I think putting that kind of concern and extra effort into guilt and worry is just the flip side of self-victimization and revenge, and they all lead to the same place.




I don't know where they intersect, but people are obviously more than culture. It's not just that one family is only a small part of history, it's than people in themselves transcend culture by not fitting into the big picture in an obvious way. Of course looking at things altogether it has to add up somewhere, but looking at history is looking at a summary of events in historical terms, not human ones. So I guess I don't draw an actual line there. I'm interested in historical events because I'm interested in history and humanity, and I'm interested in how people my family reacted to or came out of those events because those things had an indirect effect on me. I have to re-interpret history through the lives of people who have affected me to apply it practically. I don't internalize the stuff directly.




That's just it. I think being human and yourself is the most important thing, and I think people lose that very quickly through giving up parts of their identification to other things. I don't think that identifying yourself through politics, marriage, religion, etc., is an inherently bad thing at all. For some people those things are really positive. I just think it's important for a person to make those things work for them instead of vice versa. The minute that the needs of your party, country, family, church, etc., transcend your own needs as a human being, and you are no longer using those things for your own benefit but they are controlling you without question, there is potential for a lot of bad shit to go down. I honestly think that people cannot be truly destructive to the world and people around them without first being self-destructive.

As for what things I personally attach myself to, it's varied my entire life. As precious as it may sound, I identify mostly as a person who is curious and hungry to see the world from as many perspectives as possible and then attempt to preserve and create something from that. In other words, I identify with writers and artists of various kinds I admire, and with people who like to play things in different contexts, or people who have been forced to define their own surroundings, way more than I do with people who share my genetics, culture, political views, “background,” etc. Basically I think people mainly identify with those who are in a similar situation to them, and it just so happens that I wasn't raised to have a particular solidarity with anything simply defined the way a lot of people are, so I end up more identifying with other people who didn't have that either. That might sound pretentious as hell but it's the only way I know how to put it.




Well, yeah, they do define me, but in a way that “green” defines a tree. You can say I'm Korean, and that's true. You can also say I'm Irish, but I'm like less than 10% Irish, so at that point it gets kind of silly, and where do you draw the line? It's like the one-drop rule. It's like e-prime. I don't think people should actually talk like that, saying “a characteristic of that tree is greenness” but at the same time you have to be aware that the only truly closed, balanced statement you can make about yourself is “I am me.” Everything else is open to speculation and its own definition. I'm not just a sum of my parts, I'm more importantly defined by how I react to those parts, and that element of reaction and that kind of ability to self-define is a purely human characteristic which I think too often gets lost among larger causes. What people are actively is much more important than what they are passively, and yet, those passive elements ARE important and significant because they are opportunities for active definition to present themselves, and how you use them is entirely up to you. “Korean” or “from the Midwest” or “female” are sort of launching pads for me rather than pure stationary elements.

Like I sometimes wonder if my being largely Korean and German has anything to do with me being kind of an anxious and obsessive person. And I can say that and make fun of myself and talk about it all while really wondering if it's genetic or something. And I know that I'm genetically prone to cavities but I can either brush and floss and have beautiful teeth or neglect that and end up with a rotting stinking mouth full of puss and blood like the British and eating soft foods, but really it's the end result that matters, so while I may be inclined to obsess, I can obsess over the results rather than the predisposition (WHICH DOESN'T MAKE IT ANY LESS INTERESTING, BUT YOU GET MY POINT, I MEAN THAT IS MY POINT.)




HA, I would imagine.



Actually my grandfather (who by the way is a full-blooded German but from a family that has been in the United States since the days the original Protestants set up camp) did that (shortly before he began having symptoms of Alzheimer's, if that says anything). There is in a way something sick about it but I always enjoyed looking at it because it's actually pretty interesting.

So really I think developing an interest or curiosity regarding history and race and culture even to the point of minor obsession and offensiveness to other people (like Julio) can be fine, but it's not okay to internalize it directly or expect other people to do the same. Whew, that was long.

ok i didnt mean flaw like they have some "holocaust gene" because its more than just any one thing, but id imagine if i were german id be left wondering just why it happened so, why it was germans that did it. i mean it really is soemthing entirely unprecedented, its so much more notable than the other millions of massacres in history by other peoples, and such a monumental event cant really be just ignored or have its causes relegated to some indiscriminate social or political force or another. its because its so extraordinary that this kind of thinking is partly justified. but at the same time, ok, its a bit of shaky example because the vast majority of the public had no idea it even existed let alone participated in it, the camps were run by very few (a disproportionate percentage of the staff there were austrain actually (as was hitler), so id be more worried if i were austrian), and the widespread persecution of jews that coloured that whole period was hardly something unique to germans or unique at all. but still, i think theres this idea that this event, or any significant event from some peoples history, kind of functions as evidence of yourself and your nature. that can only hold so much weight and its clearly dangerous to put too much emphasis on some perceived character or disposition thats related to a peoples, but its not totally irrelevant in itself. whether its useful for thought is another question.

but, holy shit holy shit, again, look at italy. i mean theyve been consistently pathetic in everything theyve done since the renaissance. look at this: during WWII the italian army was the most miserable force on the planet (they only beat the ethiopians by using illegal chemical weapons) as im sure you know. a huge reason for this was this: practically every single general or official or even lowly bureaucrat puffed up their chests and exaggerated if not outright lied left and right about everything possible. the general would, because of this ego and vainglory and despite having a terribly insubstantial force, refuse to ask for more reserves and tell mussolini in flowering terms how he'll crush the enemy in the upcoming battle. i mean that IS italian. generalization or not, that kind of behaviour is so, so typically italian, and it is so widespread and severe and consistent across generations that its impossible to not take it as evidence (so to speak) as to what it means to be italian, as to who "italians" are (i dont think something like that can ever adequately be explained by culture). again, sure, its a slippery slope taking up this kind of thought but thats kind of apart from the question now, which is just if its right in principle


i think a good way of posing this issue is like this: then why do people take offense when you talk about something bad from their race's history? why are so many japanese so reticent to acknowledge their own crimes during WWII? maybe thats a bad example, because there would have to be ethnic japanese that live outside the country that also feel that way for it to work, but lets assume those people exist. im just trying to illustrate that feelings of relatedness exist often in spite of what you consciously think or know about it. what if i talked about how easily the koreans were bowled over by the japanese and what lousy comfort women they provided (broke down to mush after only 3 rapes!) and whatever offensive comments about koreans, would you take any offense whatsoever? on any level? if so, thats evidence of some kind of connection i think, and that connection works both ways


but could they ever fully transcend?
yeah but theyre related. whether its in historical terms or not, it still has the ability to speak to human element of it, and i think it generally does


ok. this kind of has shifted to the other question, which is not if its right in principle but if its at all something useful, productive, healthy, or just otherwise right to consciously think about and place emphasis on. with that question i fully agree that its not, and youre right to say that this touches on broader problems with identification. youre right to have that kind of pragmatic, utilitarian viewpoint of it. i do think in an ideal world everyone would identify most with just being human. or at least not let other identifications ever take that over or infringe on it
ill ignore the libertarian subtext to that "control" comment and just move on

ive thought about it and i dont know precisely what you mean when you say they have to first be self destructive. what do you precisely mean?


yeah thats a good point and i agree. i always used to pretty much totally ignore race and fully identify myself with certain ideas or practical philosophies or people (artists or otherwise) who i felt in some way similar to. yes, you only can identify with something when theres something common, some kind of shared ground, and i emphatically agree that its so much more healthy to do that towards individuals as opposed to this obscured, abstract notion of "race"


FUCK i finished writing this whole thing from this point on that addressed everything else in this post and firefox just crashed. when im making long posts i save everything periodically to notepad so i still have everythign above this. ugh. now im in a horrible position. im stuck between manually trying to repeat what i think i said, which always leads to shit results, or i can reapproach it all, which is tiresome after already just having done so. ill do bit of both i think, excuse me if i fail



fuck i feel like a tool just repeating things i said spontaneously. i dont know how to do this. i made fun of you for being from the midwest at one point but how would i ever manage to include that in this post in a similar way? i couldnt do it. this is hell

oh look at that, i just did include it. meta

with regards to those last two big paragraphs i basically said that i agree with it all. i started off saying that i still think those things can define you, but only in specific ways and to a specific degree. and something about how people tend to be unable to handle such an idea end up placing an amount of significance and weight on that that is not at all commensurate with its actual value. oh, and that i agree that its always more important to define yourself rather than be defined. and i agreed with your launching pad analogy. i said something like "my pad is certainly distinct from yours but neither of us are shackled to t**** or something purple like that. basically i agreed with everything. i would say that what you said just nicely matched what i believe but it would be more accurate to say that it kind of peeled away some layers and helped me see what i believe, if you get what im saying. i agreed with it but it also actively accomplished something instead of just totally reflecting. new information

fuck this im out

 
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Old 04-08-2006, 09:33 AM   #123
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The question that this whole thing begs is if it's more offensive to imply that a broader group of people all look alike or that when broken down into their ethnicities THOSE people all look alike. Like if you say "all Asians look alike," but you can't tell the difference between Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, doesn't that really just say that they DON'T all look alike since their characteristics are individual enough that they can't be identified by their ethnic groups? Or is it more of an insult if you can tell them apart because so-and-so is OBVIOUSLY Japanese?
all i know is that all of our failures to actually tell these people apart is very revealing. i really dont know which is more insulting though. i would lean towards not being able to tell them apart. if you could imagine it from their perspective, some ethnic and national japanese would probably take huge offense if you said he was korean and would maybe think of the differences between the two, that are lost on you (no rhyme intended), as being obvious, the same way some irish person would (evidently) take offense to being called english. i mean the differences are heightened at that level and i think individual ethnic groups might even take a bit of pride in being differentiated from their neighbours, who they might have all kinds of complexes and hates towards and resent being put into the same category as.

 
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Old 04-08-2006, 09:34 AM   #124
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Okay, now the real test. Does culture, as opposed to just genetics, have an effect on the way people look? The following men are all of Jewish descent, but one of them is French, one American, and one Israeli.

i think it does have an effect in principle but jews arent the best example i think. thats a really wacky batch to test on

but i would say

american
israeli
french

 
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Old 04-09-2006, 02:31 AM   #125
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ok. this kind of has shifted to the other question, which is not if its right in principle but if its at all something useful, productive, healthy, or just otherwise right to consciously think about and place emphasis on. with that question i fully agree that its not, and youre right to say that this touches on broader problems with identification. youre right to have that kind of pragmatic, utilitarian viewpoint of it. i do think in an ideal world everyone would identify most with just being human. or at least not let other identifications ever take that over or infringe on it
ill ignore the libertarian subtext to that "control" comment and just move on

ive thought about it and i dont know precisely what you mean when you say they have to first be self destructive. what do you precisely mean?
I mean that I think a tendency to be destructive toward other people or the world in general (even if it's in a passive way) can't really exist without the element of self-destruction. It's impossible to really hate someone without hating yourself. That sounds really cliche but it's true. I'm not talking about annoyance or "I hate peas" or "that guy has bad breath" kind of stuff, obviously, but actual, honest-to-god hate that reaches above and beyond simple anger. Obviously you're going to be pissed off if someone robs you, or kills your family, etc., in a more immediate sense, but the kind of historical, theoretical hate that is actually justified in a person's mind is, above all, an element of self-destruction because that can't exist without you first in some sense leaving your own self behind.

I think people often use politics or groups or labels (on themselves or on other people, and I'll in turn ignore your comment about libertarian subtext, haha) in order to escape dealing with their own personal problems. You see elements of what is obviously personal anger work its way into more theoretical arguments. I think most people are guilty of that at one time or another, myself *******d, but hopefully you get over it. Some people never get over it, or get so sucked into a world where they honestly believe, for instance, that all of their problems are tied up with a particular race or group of people, and if those people have a significant amount of power or influence, we're all potentially in trouble.

In response to other things, I think that a willingness to explore and be curious about and make fun of things like race and culture and reasoning like that is really a good thing, because in a way thinking about it and talking about it in a removed sense stops you from internalizing it. And I think people become more willing to explore those elements and not be offended by questions of race and culture if they've dealt with or are dealing with their own personal shit. So really exploring, for example, Korea in my case is not really about identity, but it is about something, you're right. I mean, I didn't really become interested in learning more about it until I was somewhat more comfortable with my identity in the first place. In a way I wouldn't have felt safe absorbing all that culture until I had more of a sense of being an adult. I think I sort of instinctively knew that to get too involved in learning about my "roots" as a teenager would have been too much, because I was still impressionable and may have taken it too seriously, but now I feel okay about it. You're right that there is a connection in the way that people will get offended if you talk about their nation's history, but I think people get offended for different reasons. If someone says something directly to me about American history, I'm willing to talk about it, because it feels like something more to do with me, but at the same time I'm not going to talk to someone who obviously equates me with my nationality and is just sneering at me, so it has a lot to do with who's asking. On the other hand, if someone made mention of something in Korean history, I would honestly feel like it had very little to do with me. Or at least, that I wouldn't be in a position to talk about it, even though I might be interested in what they had to say.

 
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Old 04-09-2006, 02:32 AM   #126
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i think it does have an effect in principle but jews arent the best example i think. thats a really wacky batch to test on

but i would say

american
israeli
french
Absolutely right. The last guy is so obviously French it's not even funny.

 
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Old 04-11-2006, 07:49 AM   #127
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I mean that I think a tendency to be destructive toward other people or the world in general (even if it's in a passive way) can't really exist without the element of self-destruction. It's impossible to really hate someone without hating yourself. That sounds really cliche but it's true. I'm not talking about annoyance or "I hate peas" or "that guy has bad breath" kind of stuff, obviously, but actual, honest-to-god hate that reaches above and beyond simple anger. Obviously you're going to be pissed off if someone robs you, or kills your family, etc., in a more immediate sense, but the kind of historical, theoretical hate that is actually justified in a person's mind is, above all, an element of self-destruction because that can't exist without you first in some sense leaving your own self behind.

I think people often use politics or groups or labels (on themselves or on other people, and I'll in turn ignore your comment about libertarian subtext, haha) in order to escape dealing with their own personal problems. You see elements of what is obviously personal anger work its way into more theoretical arguments. I think most people are guilty of that at one time or another, myself *******d, but hopefully you get over it. Some people never get over it, or get so sucked into a world where they honestly believe, for instance, that all of their problems are tied up with a particular race or group of people, and if those people have a significant amount of power or influence, we're all potentially in trouble.

In response to other things, I think that a willingness to explore and be curious about and make fun of things like race and culture and reasoning like that is really a good thing, because in a way thinking about it and talking about it in a removed sense stops you from internalizing it. And I think people become more willing to explore those elements and not be offended by questions of race and culture if they've dealt with or are dealing with their own personal shit. So really exploring, for example, Korea in my case is not really about identity, but it is about something, you're right. I mean, I didn't really become interested in learning more about it until I was somewhat more comfortable with my identity in the first place. In a way I wouldn't have felt safe absorbing all that culture until I had more of a sense of being an adult. I think I sort of instinctively knew that to get too involved in learning about my "roots" as a teenager would have been too much, because I was still impressionable and may have taken it too seriously, but now I feel okay about it. You're right that there is a connection in the way that people will get offended if you talk about their nation's history, but I think people get offended for different reasons. If someone says something directly to me about American history, I'm willing to talk about it, because it feels like something more to do with me, but at the same time I'm not going to talk to someone who obviously equates me with my nationality and is just sneering at me, so it has a lot to do with who's asking. On the other hand, if someone made mention of something in Korean history, I would honestly feel like it had very little to do with me. Or at least, that I wouldn't be in a position to talk about it, even though I might be interested in what they had to say.
ok, i thought you were maybe referring to that and i fully agree. that principle stands up to any test i think


i dont know what you mean about escaping personal problems exactly. thats a fairly broad way to put it and, insofar as its broad enough to capture what i think on that, i agree. theres a more specific answer to that question though, i think. i can say that, overall, almost by definition, it takes a pretty deficient mind to identify fully with near anything. its really not right. you could talk all day about what root it stems from, but i usually think of it as coming from this fundamental phobia of accepting uncertainty. its not even really a demand for certainty or absolutes, but more a refusal to accept uncertainty in those realms i think. such absolutes dont really exist, so its easy to just find or create them i think. its why the most pacific, stable times or places produce (for lack of a better word) humanism, and why, you know, "there are no atheists in fox holes" or whatever. this is a pretty tired, prosaic conclusion, i know, but its certainly not less true because of that

in fact, ive been thinking more and more of (another tired conclusion) politics as religion. this couldnt be more true. for instance, in terms of the psychology behind it, communism was very, very much a religion back in the early 20th century, way more than it was even a political ideology for a lot of people. i cant stress this enough. i dont really even take seriously it as an political theory anymore, its a religion through and through. and i hate to be crude and take a shot at your buddy now, but jczeroman is truly the embodiment of this pathology. the whole christian thing was just embarrassingly fitting

this is a bit off topic but i just found it really interesting and its kind of within the theme that is developing now. i read this op-ed that discussed this idea that atheists, being people who dont believe in a god, are more prone to violence or just any amoral act. the piece was basically arguing the opposite, that its atheists who dont have the luxury of excuses and have to answer to themselves, while religion allows oeople to break that thin but incredibly, incredibly important barrier, alleviating people of responsibility for their acts. this is so true, i think, and its a great topic that gets soiled too much with stupid bickering ("crusades and inquisitions!" says one. "oh yeah?! stalin and mao!" says the other). its on that psychological level that this is most interesting. i heard this story recently that some photojournalist who made his way into the insurgency in iraq after months of building trust recounted: he said at one point the americans were baring down on them and one of the insurgents knew he would have to fight (and invariably die) and he started talking to the journalist about his wife and kid and started crying, only to them say "no, no, these tears are the devils way of controlling me." then he went out and got killed.
ok identifying with some political ideology maybe isnt that sick but, hey, its pretty close

ive always attributed that extra layer of emotion to the simple act of identification to begin with. it turns something abstract or alien into something domestic and personal, and a threat to it becomes, in a way, a threat to you and thats why all this emotion swells up there. its possible to be emotional or angry without having it spring from that, but just speaking generally




i agree, any exploration like that, if its innocent, is right and fine. even the worst taboo can be trampled on if its done in good faith and with taste and honesty. i hate this idea that anything is out of bounds. but at the same time i do see what mayfucks saying (actually i dont even think hes totally saying this but its the only ground one could possibly be standing on when making accusations like his for something like this), which is that there are consequences to acts outside of your intent or awareness. this is kind of silly because, past a certain point, its like then telling all butterflies (the ones that starts a hurricane!) to stop flapping their wings, if you get what im saying, but there is still some ground to it. all i know is that people use this "what? its just innocent discussion!" argument to disguise a lot of patently non innocent intent
on the topic of asian/american identity, i read this article recently on adopted girls from china. china has that one child policy as you know, guys are much more desirable than girls, and its illegal (if i recall correctly) for a doctor to tell a woman the sex of her baby before birth (to stop back alley abortions). anyways, theyre asian girls who have, like, jewish parents. the article looked at like 10 girls, a lot of whom all were friends, and a few of them had parents who sent them to chinese dance lessons or stuff like that, which is a disgusting thing to do i think. just saying
people get offended for different reasons, sure, but they also get offended in different ways. i mean im starting to become pretty proud of canada and i think i would take some offense if someone talked badly about some failure in canadas recent history, but not in the same way that i would take some offense to somone talking badly about armenians or something. neither would provoke huge responses, but they would provoke responses on different levels i thinkk


sorry this post was totally subpar. i just have no time this week and weighed between posting something weak now in this window of time, or something better in like a week, but at which point it would just be passe

Last edited by sleeper : 04-11-2006 at 07:59 AM.

 
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Old 04-11-2006, 07:49 AM   #128
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Absolutely right. The last guy is so obviously French it's not even funny.

im pretty proud of myself, actually. it might have been on the easier side, i dont know, but i feel good about this.

 
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Old 04-12-2006, 06:20 PM   #129
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ok, i thought you were maybe referring to that and i fully agree. that principle stands up to any test i think


i dont know what you mean about escaping personal problems exactly. thats a fairly broad way to put it and, insofar as its broad enough to capture what i think on that, i agree. theres a more specific answer to that question though, i think. i can say that, overall, almost by definition, it takes a pretty deficient mind to identify fully with near anything. its really not right. you could talk all day about what root it stems from, but i usually think of it as coming from this fundamental phobia of accepting uncertainty. its not even really a demand for certainty or absolutes, but more a refusal to accept uncertainty in those realms i think. such absolutes dont really exist, so its easy to just find or create them i think. its why the most pacific, stable times or places produce (for lack of a better word) humanism, and why, you know, "there are no atheists in fox holes" or whatever. this is a pretty tired, prosaic conclusion, i know, but its certainly not less true because of that

in fact, ive been thinking more and more of (another tired conclusion) politics as religion. this couldnt be more true. for instance, in terms of the psychology behind it, communism was very, very much a religion back in the early 20th century, way more than it was even a political ideology for a lot of people. i cant stress this enough. i dont really even take seriously it as an political theory anymore, its a religion through and through. and i hate to be crude and take a shot at your buddy now, but jczeroman is truly the embodiment of this pathology. the whole christian thing was just embarrassingly fitting

this is a bit off topic but i just found it really interesting and its kind of within the theme that is developing now. i read this op-ed that discussed this idea that atheists, being people who dont believe in a god, are more prone to violence or just any amoral act. the piece was basically arguing the opposite, that its atheists who dont have the luxury of excuses and have to answer to themselves, while religion allows oeople to break that thin but incredibly, incredibly important barrier, alleviating people of responsibility for their acts. this is so true, i think, and its a great topic that gets soiled too much with stupid bickering ("crusades and inquisitions!" says one. "oh yeah?! stalin and mao!" says the other). its on that psychological level that this is most interesting. i heard this story recently that some photojournalist who made his way into the insurgency in iraq after months of building trust recounted: he said at one point the americans were baring down on them and one of the insurgents knew he would have to fight (and invariably die) and he started talking to the journalist about his wife and kid and started crying, only to them say "no, no, these tears are the devils way of controlling me." then he went out and got killed.
ok identifying with some political ideology maybe isnt that sick but, hey, its pretty close
Well, I think you brought up a good point. As far as I'm concerned religion is fine, and so is political ideology, but it's the combination of the two that's dangerous: when politics become a religion or religion becomes political. And this can't be battled by something as simple as separation of church and state, because as you pointed out when you mentioned communism, things besides religion can still take on a religious nature. Religion is only the opiate of the masses if it HAS been politicized.

One of the downsides to modern democracy is that almost anything can be made a political or religious subject, even if that thing naturally has nothing to do with either. It's a very rich environment for group identification to sell. In the midst of consumerist culture, identity has a whole new value. It's not just about who you are, it's about what groups can appeal to you the most and therefore win you over to their side.

As far as personal beliefs go, I think it's easy to presume what a person's own religion OR lack thereof really means, but the truth is that you're not going to get a clear picture of that unless you talk to them in depth and they are honest with you. I don't see the point in criticizing people beyond what they bring to the table. If a person's religion drives them to commit harmful acts against other people, then obviously their association with that particular facet of their life is a problem. Or if someone rattles on about certain delusional things that they attribute to their religion, then it's obviously a cover for some deeper problem, the same as it would be if they had a drug or alcohol problem. By the same token, if a person's belief that there is no god and therefore no consequences drives them to the same behavior, well, we've still got a problem, and theological identification is the least of it.

 
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Old 04-12-2006, 10:37 PM   #130
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i see exactly what youre saying. weve already sort of covered the idea of politics as religion, but i get what youre saying with religions as poltics. a religious belief is fine if it is contained on a personal level, and politics is never personal. i

but then again maybe religion is always beyond the personal and takes on broader, quasi-political currents. i mean that its, by definition, institutional and deals with things, metaphysical or physical, that are outside of oneself. beliefs (about god or otherwise) can be personal, but maybe not religious beliefs. this is just semantic though. i dont know, im just trying to weasal out the difference between a belief and a religious belief. i mean if only one person idiosyncratically believes something, it cant be "religious." its just a "belief", am i wrong. i dont know. i just dont see religion and belief as being interchangable, i just cant figure out why


yeah i agree that theres much more value or need attached to identity in this age. or it seems that way at least, ive only been around for 20 years so i cant really say with any definitiveness. but i find this whole idea of identity in our time really interesting. theres certainly no shortage of material to work with on this notion given the kind of 3 ring circus we have going on outsider of our doors all hours of the day. i feel kind of cheesy or silly openly displaying this interest because of how much this topic has become the subject of grandiloquent eulogizing by all these bloggers and other douchebags and everthing (from my experiences, at least), but its still endlessly ponderable and will only become more so


we kind of talked about this last thing before as i remember. of course there are a panoply of different beliefs and values within religions and its always risky indiscriminately lumping things together in one supposedly representative category, i agree, but there is, as i think i said, a common denominator with all of them, theyre not all 100% unique in and of themselves, and that denominator is significant. i mean if were talking about "religion", its not wrong to say that they all, being religions, share something in common beyond name. i dont really want to get into what i perceive that to be (unless you want me to) because i can see myself coming off as pretty chauvinistic or whatever. i think you maybe have a kind of exaggerated perception of where im coming from on this. i joke about it this way a lot so i cant blame you, but its not like i think anyone is who checks the "religion" box, so to speak, is automatically the scourge of mankind or a horrible person, i just believe that it, alone, means something. something really important, actually. they really cant just be tagged "belief" and afforded these kind of all inclusive protections. thats kind of what im challenging here

 
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Old 04-12-2006, 10:41 PM   #131
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im really declaring myself pathetic by reviving this but i just kind of had a new flash of interest in it.

ok so heres like the world cup event, its the finals.

http://sqd.ru/img/Andersson_Harriet.gif
http://www.spotlightcd.com/hallfame/...june_brown.jpg
http://delegation.olympic.cn/photo/0...25_0_55_54.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...Misaki_Ito.jpg
http://www.gormenghastcastle.co.uk/graphics/fuchsia.jpg
http://img2.brokore.com/imx/movieboa...20Tae-yeon.jpg

it contains asians, scandinavians, and british islers all in one

 
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Old 04-14-2006, 12:50 AM   #132
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i see exactly what youre saying. weve already sort of covered the idea of politics as religion, but i get what youre saying with religions as poltics. a religious belief is fine if it is contained on a personal level, and politics is never personal. i

but then again maybe religion is always beyond the personal and takes on broader, quasi-political currents. i mean that its, by definition, institutional and deals with things, metaphysical or physical, that are outside of oneself. beliefs (about god or otherwise) can be personal, but maybe not religious beliefs. this is just semantic though. i dont know, im just trying to weasal out the difference between a belief and a religious belief. i mean if only one person idiosyncratically believes something, it cant be "religious." its just a "belief", am i wrong. i dont know. i just dont see religion and belief as being interchangable, i just cant figure out why


yeah i agree that theres much more value or need attached to identity in this age. or it seems that way at least, ive only been around for 20 years so i cant really say with any definitiveness. but i find this whole idea of identity in our time really interesting. theres certainly no shortage of material to work with on this notion given the kind of 3 ring circus we have going on outsider of our doors all hours of the day. i feel kind of cheesy or silly openly displaying this interest because of how much this topic has become the subject of grandiloquent eulogizing by all these bloggers and other douchebags and everthing (from my experiences, at least), but its still endlessly ponderable and will only become more so


we kind of talked about this last thing before as i remember. of course there are a panoply of different beliefs and values within religions and its always risky indiscriminately lumping things together in one supposedly representative category, i agree, but there is, as i think i said, a common denominator with all of them, theyre not all 100% unique in and of themselves, and that denominator is significant. i mean if were talking about "religion", its not wrong to say that they all, being religions, share something in common beyond name. i dont really want to get into what i perceive that to be (unless you want me to) because i can see myself coming off as pretty chauvinistic or whatever. i think you maybe have a kind of exaggerated perception of where im coming from on this. i joke about it this way a lot so i cant blame you, but its not like i think anyone is who checks the "religion" box, so to speak, is automatically the scourge of mankind or a horrible person, i just believe that it, alone, means something. something really important, actually. they really cant just be tagged "belief" and afforded these kind of all inclusive protections. thats kind of what im challenging here
Okay, well, let me put it like this: organized religion, is, by nature, something that requires a certain amount of mental and social suppression. If this is close to what you're getting at or implying, I would agree. But the wild card is that beliefs, even within an organized religion, can never truly be controlled or suppressed, at least not without a person's consent. When it is with a person's consent, well, honestly I think we all, at some time or another, use something or other to suppress certain thoughts, information, eventualities, etc. If people ever succeed in somehow being 100% unique in and of themselves (and it's sort of mind-boggling to even think about what that means), well, it's not just because they chose to drop religion.

But the bottom line is that I think to remove that element of natural self-suppression totally almost speaks of acseticism and therefore brings us full circle back into the realm of perfecting a self to the point of dogmatizing. I think I've known enough people of various religions and been through enough of that kind of thing myself to conclude that religion doesn't hold any kind of definite (spiritual) power over people. There is a certain type of "religious" person that tends to annoy me, or a philosophy of religion, if you will, that I think people use like a spiritual drug, or a tool of denial and coping, etc., but I think that a) in certain doses or circumstances, this is not always a bad thing, and b) this is not something that is defined by the act of "belonging" to an actual religion. I've met declared atheists who have displayed this same trait, so when people rail on against "religion" in general it often sounds incredibly inconsiderate and ignorant to me.

It's also true that other factors may hold as much sway over a culture as religion or religious beliefs. For example, there's the ever-popular worn-out hokey comparison of television in the American world to being synonymous with religion. In a sense, that's true, or at least that kind of cultural phenomenon shows how religion can work on a social or political level. But in spite of this kind of manipulation, or the use of physical force, for example, in the Muslim world to enforce laws that are essentially dictated by religious doctrine, you can't really get into peoples' minds and find out what it is they really think or really believe. Even if you put two people in separate rooms and read the same parts of the Bible to them and they both appear to absorb the information directly and "believe," you can bet that there are probably two different things going on in their minds, perhaps not in terms of spiritual brain process, but in terms of what mental faculties are and are not employed or abandoned. I think you tend to realize and find these things out when you start asking people in detail about their beliefs. People interpret everything differently, and from a totally scientific standpoint, I think some people might not be able to "handle" religion the way that some people just can't "handle" alcohol, whereas for other people it may be beneficial (I realize I'm stretching it here, but whatever).

So, like you, I probably would categorize a certain group of people who are "religious" and therefore share this common denominator, but I think it has less to do with actual religion than some people might think. Religion often means all different kinds of things to different people. Sometimes the act of going to church is simply something sacrficed for family relations. I'm not saying that I personally find that sort of act very admirable, but I can imagine certain circumstances under which it would certainly be no big deal. I will readily admit that if I'm talking to someone and they mention something very serious about themselves being religious, I have a natural "oh shit" reaction, but that's more on the level of "what can I say to this person, what can I not say, what kind of conversation can we have here." I actually think a lot of people in the U.S. are religious in a sort of a back-of-the-mind kind of way, which in some circumstances make it more annoying, in other cases less so.

With all of that said, I will also admit that I am aware of the real-life monotony of the way actual religion is conducted, that people who are religious rarely seem to care about the intricacies of their own beliefs, and that it's one of the easiest ways to put on the blinkers and just drift through life. But I prefer to see people as seperate from their religious associations (even though I am interested in the way they act in relation to religion) and see what they do and think and act like because of that, and I have seen some incredible anomalies. I can't imagine not thinking of it like that – it almost seems to forfeit any criticism of the way people themselves act as well as an opportunity to observe how people act IN RELATION to their religions. To put as much weight on the idea of religion and make it synonymous with so many different things would almost seem to challenge the definition of my own uniqueness (you're not the only one who feels cheesy right now). I mean, it sounds cheesy, but it's true.

I also do have a sort of mental funny bone that tends to be triggered by people attacking or blaming religion for things that people themselves are very clearly reponsible for, or displaying a certain amount of (perceived or real) typically liberal shallowness that involves harping on other peoples' personal beliefs as a method of argument in itself, which I see as being about as shallow and irrelevant as any argument that religion + disciple could ever achieve. It's just a sort of very obvious hypocrisy that bothers me.

 
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Old 04-14-2006, 12:53 AM   #133
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And I'll try that whole thing later, I'm not in the mood for guessing right now. I need to get to bed and there was a barrage of hail here a while ago and something is clicking outside my window.

 
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Old 04-14-2006, 12:56 AM   #134
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I want this thread to live forever. It will be like a huge hardened constipated turd hanging from the buttcrack of Netphoria while everyone else strains and pushes to expel it.

 
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Old 04-14-2006, 11:09 AM   #135
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Okay, well, let me put it like this: organized religion, is, by nature, something that requires a certain amount of mental and social suppression. If this is close to what you're getting at or implying, I would agree. But the wild card is that beliefs, even within an organized religion, can never truly be controlled or suppressed, at least not without a person's consent. When it is with a person's consent, well, honestly I think we all, at some time or another, use something or other to suppress certain thoughts, information, eventualities, etc. If people ever succeed in somehow being 100% unique in and of themselves (and it's sort of mind-boggling to even think about what that means), well, it's not just because they chose to drop religion.

But the bottom line is that I think to remove that element of natural self-suppression totally almost speaks of acseticism and therefore brings us full circle back into the realm of perfecting a self to the point of dogmatizing. I think I've known enough people of various religions and been through enough of that kind of thing myself to conclude that religion doesn't hold any kind of definite (spiritual) power over people. There is a certain type of "religious" person that tends to annoy me, or a philosophy of religion, if you will, that I think people use like a spiritual drug, or a tool of denial and coping, etc., but I think that a) in certain doses or circumstances, this is not always a bad thing, and b) this is not something that is defined by the act of "belonging" to an actual religion. I've met declared atheists who have displayed this same trait, so when people rail on against "religion" in general it often sounds incredibly inconsiderate and ignorant to me.

It's also true that other factors may hold as much sway over a culture as religion or religious beliefs. For example, there's the ever-popular worn-out hokey comparison of television in the American world to being synonymous with religion. In a sense, that's true, or at least that kind of cultural phenomenon shows how religion can work on a social or political level. But in spite of this kind of manipulation, or the use of physical force, for example, in the Muslim world to enforce laws that are essentially dictated by religious doctrine, you can't really get into peoples' minds and find out what it is they really think or really believe. Even if you put two people in separate rooms and read the same parts of the Bible to them and they both appear to absorb the information directly and "believe," you can bet that there are probably two different things going on in their minds, perhaps not in terms of spiritual brain process, but in terms of what mental faculties are and are not employed or abandoned. I think you tend to realize and find these things out when you start asking people in detail about their beliefs. People interpret everything differently, and from a totally scientific standpoint, I think some people might not be able to "handle" religion the way that some people just can't "handle" alcohol, whereas for other people it may be beneficial (I realize I'm stretching it here, but whatever).

So, like you, I probably would categorize a certain group of people who are "religious" and therefore share this common denominator, but I think it has less to do with actual religion than some people might think. Religion often means all different kinds of things to different people. Sometimes the act of going to church is simply something sacrificed for family relations. I'm not saying that I personally find that sort of act very admirable, but I can imagine certain circumstances under which it would certainly be no big deal. I will readily admit that if I'm talking to someone and they mention something very serious about themselves being religious, I have a natural "oh shit" reaction, but that's more on the level of "what can I say to this person, what can I not say, what kind of conversation can we have here." I actually think a lot of people in the U.S. are religious in a sort of a back-of-the-mind kind of way, which in some circumstances make it more annoying, in other cases less so.

With all of that said, I will also admit that I am aware of the real-life monotony of the way actual religion is conducted, that people who are religious rarely seem to care about the intricacies of their own beliefs, and that it's one of the easiest ways to put on the blinkers and just drift through life. But I prefer to see people as separate from their religious associations (even though I am interested in the way they act in relation to religion) and see what they do and think and act like because of that, and I have seen some incredible anomalies. I can't imagine not thinking of it like that – it almost seems to forfeit any criticism of the way people themselves act as well as an opportunity to observe how people act IN RELATION to their religions. To put as much weight on the idea of religion and make it synonymous with so many different things would almost seem to challenge the definition of my own uniqueness (you're not the only one who feels cheesy right now). I mean, it sounds cheesy, but it's true.

I also do have a sort of mental funny bone that tends to be triggered by people attacking or blaming religion for things that people themselves are very clearly reponsible for, or displaying a certain amount of (perceived or real) typically liberal shallowness that involves harping on other peoples' personal beliefs as a method of argument in itself, which I see as being about as shallow and irrelevant as any argument that religion + disciple could ever achieve. It's just a sort of very obvious hypocrisy that bothers me.
i wasnt implying that, after saying religious people are not all 100% unique, that therefore non religious people are. i just brought up this idea to undercut what it seemed you were putting forward, which was that its wrong to treat or talk about people of different religions as one (in whatever way, to whatever extent), and that theyre (this is my inference here) all fundamentally different -- or different enough. they are in a sense, but they are also similar -- similar enough -- to allow them to be referred to as a whole. carefully, sure, but still justly referred to

spiritual drug is a good, interesting way of wording it

a) thats pretty fishy i think. i mean, define bad? it might be good as in its productive or just convenient and, insofar as these things help one in life, then, sure, its good. but to me the question (here and in general) isnt really good or bad, but rather right or wrong. there are all kinds of things that are wrong but good (they work or have some personal or social value or purpose) and vice versa, but that isnt so much the question i think ( to be fair i do advocate this thinking. i do think its fine to, in principle, do whats wrong for the good and whats right for ill, depending on circumstance (the former has much more stringent criteria involved i think. have you ever seen the film or read "a man for all seasons"? i assume so because youre into, you know, books and shit but i saw the film again recently and it did present a realy strong arguments for exclusively and perpetually doing whats right, no excpetions. i found it very persuasive ))
b) i see what youre saying and i have no problem shifting ths over to ******* that (i thnk id have to to continue on with this), but, to be clear, we were talking about religion. the atheist that displays religious tendencies still isnt truly "religious" in the sense we meant it a few posts ago, which was, like, capital 'R' "Religion". on this same strand, the sports fan that deifies his team and is unquestionably loyal and whatever would be religious (which is true in a sense, but only in a sense).


well that seems pretty silly. i mean, yes, i cant really know if some religious person standing infront of me is actually truly devout and earnest in his belief, but i cant make those kind of speculations. if he says hes religious than, for our intents and purposes, hes religious

see but now youre trying to co-opt all these things that are not at all unique to religion (like belief) and use it to make it seem like religion is so universal a phenomenon that one couldnt honestly make a distinction between the religious and non religious. this is kind of the point here: i do think there is a distinction to make between belief and religion.

look, let me just put everythng on the table in an effort to maintain clarity in this: when i think of a religious person i think of someone who is willingly putting themelves within some preexisting belief system that has to do with the supernatural. there are other things intrinsic to it, like worship, but thats enough to separate this from other just "beliefs." its that adopting, en masse, of an entire worldview and value set that i find to be, in and of itself, pretty lamentable. its dishonest and weak and it does reflect on the character of the person who adopted it. i mean, to me, the whole logical core of this view is like this: lets talk about "serial killers." there can be all kinds of serial killers, all different people with different histories and different views on life and so on, but, by definition, they are people who have murdered prolifically. that is inseparable from who they are and it does, in its own way, reflect on the person. where you get me wrong is that you think (i think you think) that i am taking one choice (to serial kill or not to serial kill) as some kind of litmus test for the person as a whole, and that they are instantly condemned in my mind if they take the wrong choice. rather, i think that someone being a serial killer means something significant, but what exactly it means can be partly dictated by the individual (they are indeed not wholly defined by one thing). but the point is that they can only ever dictate who they are apart from that to a point, and they will never dictate that in such a way as to ever truly diminish or mitigate the fact that they are a serial killer. there are incontrovertible aspects to people. they can be framed nicer and put in some better light, but the fact remains. to avoid such abstraction and just tie this in: i cant, and no amount of indepth discussion with a person will allow me to, truly escape or ignore the fact that a religous person has adopted this phony, catch all, absolutist solution to life. there are a million different ways people do that, but thats the hard core of it that links them all. (just to preempt some confusion, i dont think ive defined, not only religion, but my conception of it too well. these things ("preexisting belief system...") are just kind of placeholders because to go any deeper would mean i have to sit here and ponder for like an hour and im in no mood for that)



but you do bring up, of course, an interesting point in saying that it doesnt really have to do with religion per se -- that there are explicitly non religious people who are share the same "religious" disposition that im criticisizing. but: the question was from the beginning if its fair to criticize Religious people as a whole. that question can be answered definitively apart from this other question. two, i still dont think the two are actually identical or interchangable-- or identical enough. like i said before, a non religious person with a seemingly identical "religious" disposition is still not really religious. not only nominally, but on a more substantial level too. the similarities that are shared are about as bad with one as the other and both can be condemned, but theres still a broader difference here. three, i do condemn (take that term with a grain of salt) those non-religious "religious" people (dogmatic communists (or, better yet, dogmatic libertarians), for instance) a great deal as well, so its not like im picking only the "religious" and ignoring those who are non religious but highly similar with regards to the fundamental character of their belief and whatever.


haha i do the same thing, it get a flash of "oh shit" whenever i hear that. especially if they like look you in the eye and say it with supreme confidence, as if its nothing at all. that really terrifies me. my main concern at that point is just to hide my subtle digust, the same way i would have to if someone told me "yeah i love nickleback" or something and i wanted to be polite. id be paralyzed with "what do normal people say in this circumstance?!" and then end up saying something moronic like "oh yeah?...sure.. neat.." i reminded of that scene in fear and loathing in las vegas where raoul is stopped by the highway cop and is reacting really skittishly to his questioning. haha, "might i steal a kiss?"

the pig had done him

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Old 04-14-2006, 11:11 AM   #136
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I want this thread to live forever. It will be like a huge hardened constipated turd hanging from the buttcrack of Netphoria while everyone else strains and pushes to expel it.

thats weird because i got the impression you were trying to beat a path out of here and run away, like everyone usually does. i forget where i got this impression from but i really thought you were going to abandon me

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Old 04-14-2006, 11:11 AM   #137
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Old 04-22-2006, 02:06 AM   #138
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Dude. We were out of town last weekend visiting my grandpa and then some bad shit went down and I've been mentally temporarily out of order. I haven't abandoned you.

Okay, so to reply in summary to your last group of comments, I can't really see the serial killer analogy so much, and I'll tell you why. Well, first of all it's a pretty extreme example with an immediately negative connotation so it's a bit blurry to begin with, but then you're looking at the act of killing someone, which is a very definite, significant act that has an obvious effect on society, and you're comparing it to something (religion) which in itself has no definite or immediate effects on other people or even the person themselves which you as an outsider can definitely reasonably discern. I realize that the analogy was probably not intended to stretch that far, but it begs these comparisons because the significance or similarity factor is, I think, way off.

As an aside, I basically don't see the point or the value (totally aside from the question of legitimacy) in assigning any kind of responsibility to a person for being religious beyond "being religious" because I think it's almost entirely abstract.

Religion these days, or at least Christianity in most first-world countries, is more comparable to attending AA meetings, or being in chess club, than killing people. Everyone is there for their own reasons, even if many of those reasons bear similarities, some people were just dragged along, etc. In many cases there may be an element of weakness or herd mentality involved, but the same can be said of people who attend any kind of public gathering with a similar mindset. The same can be said for anyone who belongs to a major political party, or who goes to feminist rallies, or is a die-hard soccer fan. You can say, "But those things are just one part of a person's life, the kind of religious worldview I'm talking about is EVERYTHING!" and I see your point, but I still see it as that even among people who declare outright that their religion dictates their views on everything, that kind of devotion can only truly take place as a private contract in a person's own head, and any of those other things (soccer, feminism, etc.) can equally take a person over.

Understand that I'm not saying there's not significance in religion itself. I think I see what it is you're trying to say but all I'm trying to say is that I see no value whatsoever in placing a judgment on religious PEOPLE for being religious. Not even so much because it's stereotyping or not right or something like that as that it's a totally empty statement that is, practically speaking, worthless, and I think that makes it pretty much void of legitimacy as well.

In case we're still somehow misunderstanding each other let me try to clear up exactly how I feel. I have not ever been fond of the particular type of religious person who mentions their religion at the outset, or immediately ties it to something else, or shoves it in my face like that. Generally this type of person is one who I would prefer to stay away from. But let's say I meet someone and we talk about stuff that is non-related to religion, and we hang out, and we discuss things, etc., and then I happen to mention religion and outright ASK this person if they are religious and they say YES. I am aware that this is probably then something of some significance in their life and that they are therefore statistically more likely to feel certain ways about certain things, and I do automatically begin to consider this. But I'm aware of this fact that just because the window of this significance has been opened does not necessarily mean it will be filled, and even if it is, I don't necessarily know how. There are as many possibilities inside of a "religious" life as there are outside of one, because A) we are not theoretically considering what religion this is or what freedoms it may allow and B) both numbers of possibilities are essentially infinite, therefore I just see it as a statistical thing. It's like a "more likely to" Venn diagram kind of thing. There is still no definite connecting factor. I cannot think of one real, absolute guaranteed thing (I'm not talking about within the confines of language, like "this person believes in a god or gods", but in the reality of what all that means) that ties all of these people together and that is honestly how I see it. There are certain things you tend to count on just as there are certain things you count on with any group of people, but hell, religious people make up such a large group that it would probably be more practical to be racially focused to begin with and start coming up with similarities there.

 
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Old 04-22-2006, 02:19 AM   #139
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Let me just re-word that too and say that this is from my perspective as things stand now, meaning that if there is a definite mental similarity I don't see it, or believe it. Obviously in general people belonging to the same religion seem to believe that they all do believe the same thing as each other, maybe this is even something that various groups of people KNOW...but I sure as hell don't know that. And obviously you, as an outsider, also believe that religious people in general, or at least people of similar religion, share this thing, even if it's not belief per se.

But I don't. I don't NOT believe/think it either but I don't know which is why I have to choose to see things this way and it seems the logical way for an outsider, or former insider, to see things.

I realize that in my comments above I'm almost saying that religion doesn't exist, but the question that always sticks in my mind is concerning what religion even is and what it consists of, and how thoroughly that structure can be removed. I'm sure you can remember from the Christian thread I made that I have a lot of interest in the line between religious/belief, and maybe at some point I will figure that all out, but for now I'm pretty much only in a position to say I don't know which again seems pretty logical as we're talking about a system based on belief rather than knowledge. So I think that religion is by nature a construction that is often invisible to knowledge, which is really interesting in itself, meaning that it essentially doesn't exist in the context of people like you and me who are seeking knowledge. At least that's how I feel about it. If that clarifies anything.

 
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Old 04-22-2006, 02:25 AM   #140
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im really declaring myself pathetic by reviving this but i just kind of had a new flash of interest in it.

ok so heres like the world cup event, its the finals.

http://sqd.ru/img/Andersson_Harriet.gif
http://www.spotlightcd.com/hallfame/...june_brown.jpg
http://delegation.olympic.cn/photo/0...25_0_55_54.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...Misaki_Ito.jpg
http://www.gormenghastcastle.co.uk/graphics/fuchsia.jpg
http://img2.brokore.com/imx/movieboa...20Tae-yeon.jpg

it contains asians, scandinavians, and british islers all in one
Okay, I am totally going to fuck this up, and don't you dare express surprise or sympathy when I do.

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Old 04-22-2006, 02:29 AM   #141
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Okay, I am totally going to fuck this up, and don't you dare express surprise or sympathy when I do.

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I can't believe you called the Chinese a Korean when she's wearing a jacket with the Chinese flag.

 
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Old 04-22-2006, 02:34 AM   #142
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I think I'm just going to lie down and take a nap here.

*fetches sleeping bag*

 
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Old 04-22-2006, 02:36 AM   #143
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Originally Posted by Sammiches
I can't believe you called the Chinese a Korean when she's wearing a jacket with the Chinese flag.
Haha, it's small and I'm sitting kind of far back from the screen. All I saw was a red and white jacket.

 
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Old 04-22-2006, 02:37 AM   #144
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I'm sick of looking at Asians, anyway. They really are all starting to look even more similar.

 
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Old 04-22-2006, 06:37 PM   #145
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Originally Posted by Lie
Dude. We were out of town last weekend visiting my grandpa and then some bad shit went down and I've been mentally temporarily out of order. I haven't abandoned you.

Okay, so to reply in summary to your last group of comments, I can't really see the serial killer analogy so much, and I'll tell you why. Well, first of all it's a pretty extreme example with an immediately negative connotation so it's a bit blurry to begin with, but then you're looking at the act of killing someone, which is a very definite, significant act that has an obvious effect on society, and you're comparing it to something (religion) which in itself has no definite or immediate effects on other people or even the person themselves which you as an outsider can definitely reasonably discern. I realize that the analogy was probably not intended to stretch that far, but it begs these comparisons because the significance or similarity factor is, I think, way off.

As an aside, I basically don't see the point or the value (totally aside from the question of legitimacy) in assigning any kind of responsibility to a person for being religious beyond "being religious" because I think it's almost entirely abstract.

Religion these days, or at least Christianity in most first-world countries, is more comparable to attending AA meetings, or being in chess club, than killing people. Everyone is there for their own reasons, even if many of those reasons bear similarities, some people were just dragged along, etc. In many cases there may be an element of weakness or herd mentality involved, but the same can be said of people who attend any kind of public gathering with a similar mindset. The same can be said for anyone who belongs to a major political party, or who goes to feminist rallies, or is a die-hard soccer fan. You can say, "But those things are just one part of a person's life, the kind of religious worldview I'm talking about is EVERYTHING!" and I see your point, but I still see it as that even among people who declare outright that their religion dictates their views on everything, that kind of devotion can only truly take place as a private contract in a person's own head, and any of those other things (soccer, feminism, etc.) can equally take a person over.

Understand that I'm not saying there's not significance in religion itself. I think I see what it is you're trying to say but all I'm trying to say is that I see no value whatsoever in placing a judgment on religious PEOPLE for being religious. Not even so much because it's stereotyping or not right or something like that as that it's a totally empty statement that is, practically speaking, worthless, and I think that makes it pretty much void of legitimacy as well.

In case we're still somehow misunderstanding each other let me try to clear up exactly how I feel. I have not ever been fond of the particular type of religious person who mentions their religion at the outset, or immediately ties it to something else, or shoves it in my face like that. Generally this type of person is one who I would prefer to stay away from. But let's say I meet someone and we talk about stuff that is non-related to religion, and we hang out, and we discuss things, etc., and then I happen to mention religion and outright ASK this person if they are religious and they say YES. I am aware that this is probably then something of some significance in their life and that they are therefore statistically more likely to feel certain ways about certain things, and I do automatically begin to consider this. But I'm aware of this fact that just because the window of this significance has been opened does not necessarily mean it will be filled, and even if it is, I don't necessarily know how. There are as many possibilities inside of a "religious" life as there are outside of one, because A) we are not theoretically considering what religion this is or what freedoms it may allow and B) both numbers of possibilities are essentially infinite, therefore I just see it as a statistical thing. It's like a "more likely to" Venn diagram kind of thing. There is still no definite connecting factor. I cannot think of one real, absolute guaranteed thing (I'm not talking about within the confines of language, like "this person believes in a god or gods", but in the reality of what all that means) that ties all of these people together and that is honestly how I see it. There are certain things you tend to count on just as there are certain things you count on with any group of people, but hell, religious people make up such a large group that it would probably be more practical to be racially focused to begin with and start coming up with similarities there.
i joking about the abandoning thing, that word was said tongue in cheek. the rest was from borat

i knew i was treading on thin ice with the serial killer analogy, just because of the connotations it obviously has which i didnt exactly intend, and evidently you got mislead by them. i wasnt implying the act of serial killing is at all akin to the act of choosing to have faith, but that here is just a hard, clear example of some aspect of someone (deeds and choices do always count towards a person) that cant ever be changed through discussion to the point that the fundamental point of it is erased. the analogy was hazy and the same ends couldve been serviced better with something else, but it still works for my point, which is that not all aspects to people are entirely malleable or user-defined (if you will) and that there are certain facts that are, while mutable to a degree, never really totally erasable. incontrovertible is the right word for it
and this was in response to the idea that you cant judge someone for being, say, a christian because not all christians are identical and their beliefs are always somehow idiosyncratic and personal or whatever. thats true, im accepting, but however idiosyncratic, they couldnt ever be enough to change that hard core of it (which is what im criticizing)

this is apart from this main strand to this talk, but i have to stop and object to this idea that being a christian and attending a church is at all comparably benign to something like AA or whatever. let me just, learning the lessons of your misunderstanding of my analogy (my fault for that, ok), and try and identify exactly what youre saying: the role or purpose these things serve when it comes down to it, on a practical, day to day basis, is similar to that of most other places people go for help or interaction or guidance or feelings of community or companionship or whatever. that its all pretty inconsequential and harmless, if not actively good for the person or society. right? well not only does religion, like you said, deal with everything of someones worldview, as opposed to what a chess club or something would do, and do so to a degree that i think is unique to religion, but it deals with much greater questions. i really dont like your equating religion-like things and religion, or behaviour that is religious-like to actually religious behaviour, or belief that is religious-like... and so on. there are such core differences that eliminate these comparisons, not least of which because of the point that comparison seems to be making within the context of your argument, which is that, basically, it is not right to specifically criticize religious people in such a way, when what youre criticizing also exists everywhere else. not so. for one, religion deals with the supernatural, which necessarily connotes faith. a radical feminist is still held within the bounds of reality (at least in way that a similarly radical religious person couldnt claim to be). any claims she would be making, or just the validity of anything she is doing or saying, pertain to the objective state of things, and they could be disproved or proved or whatever. religious belief, on the other hand, is totally unimpeachable. always and forever, no matter what. nothing at all can ever unseat it. with something like this involved, even the most devout and dogmatic of feminists or communists cant be compared. there are so many other levels to this, so many more things id like to bring up against this comparison, but ill mention this one more idea, just because i came across it recently and wouldnt mind sounding it off you, (maybe a tad presumptuous of me, pardon my poor manners). it was from this paragraph:

Quote:
Religion is only area of our discourse in which people are systematically protected from the demand to give evidence in defense of their strongly held beliefs. And yet these beliefs often determine what they live for, what they will die for, and - all too often - what they will kill for. This is a problem, because when the stakes are high, human beings have a simple choice between conversation and violence. Only a fundamental willingness to be reasonable - to have our beliefs about the world revised by new evidence and new arguments - can guarantee that we will keep talking to one another. Certainty without evidence is necessarily divisive and dehumanizing. While there is no guarantee that rational people will always agree, the irrational are certain to be divided by their dogmas.
i just like this idea that a wider personal effect to accepting religion exists, that making that choice (choosing to put faith above reason or reality (on some level at some point this is always done, i think)) has a kind of chilling effect throughout. it alters the nature of the debate within the person. their worldview is coloured by such a thing, the same way someone who vigorously held themselves accountable to reason and evidence and whatever would have their view of everything and anything effected. ok im having trouble expressing this idea. to just try with brute force to weasel this idea out of my head, let me put it one more way: it raises the stock of "faith" and lowers the stock of "reason" across the board.
i mean, let me ask you: who would you feel more comfortable around: a religious person or a fundamentally irreligious person? by comfortable i mean safe and i intentionally didnt specify a specifc religion. i bet anything youd pick the irreligious person. and why? i think this is good way to pose it



ok im reading as i reply and i see you say that you think there is significance in religion itself. im not going to erase everything i wrote though, even though a lot of it was founded on the assumption that you kind of felt the opposite

but i absolutely do think its right to place judgement on people for being religious. this idea is the whole focus of this discussion. if we first accept that we are able to (that it has some objective basis (which, it seems, we agree that it does) and that we, as humans, are, in general, capable of doing that) then its just about the right judgement. judging well. i wouldnt take any points off somone who is just innocent or naive, like, for instance, some kid that says he believes in father christ or some shit, so it clearly is not just about someone being "religious" and that automatically meaning xyz, it is of course more variable than that. but the example person in my mind was always someone mature, aware, and responsible, who knowingly and honestly makes that choice, which is why i ruled out that thing you said before about "how do you know if they actually believe?" we really can only assume my example person for this to work, i think


see but here it is again. A) whatever freedoms it allows or whatever its character, its still a Religion and, being a religion, has that hard core i was talking about that cant be reduced any further.

 
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Old 04-22-2006, 07:02 PM   #146
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Originally Posted by Lie
Let me just re-word that too and say that this is from my perspective as things stand now, meaning that if there is a definite mental similarity I don't see it, or believe it. Obviously in general people belonging to the same religion seem to believe that they all do believe the same thing as each other, maybe this is even something that various groups of people KNOW...but I sure as hell don't know that. And obviously you, as an outsider, also believe that religious people in general, or at least people of similar religion, share this thing, even if it's not belief per se.

But I don't. I don't NOT believe/think it either but I don't know which is why I have to choose to see things this way and it seems the logical way for an outsider, or former insider, to see things.

I realize that in my comments above I'm almost saying that religion doesn't exist, but the question that always sticks in my mind is concerning what religion even is and what it consists of, and how thoroughly that structure can be removed. I'm sure you can remember from the Christian thread I made that I have a lot of interest in the line between religious/belief, and maybe at some point I will figure that all out, but for now I'm pretty much only in a position to say I don't know which again seems pretty logical as we're talking about a system based on belief rather than knowledge. So I think that religion is by nature a construction that is often invisible to knowledge, which is really interesting in itself, meaning that it essentially doesn't exist in the context of people like you and me who are seeking knowledge. At least that's how I feel about it. If that clarifies anything.


the question of what religion actually is is, obviously, central to this and everything and yet remains kind of unresolved. i think it depends on the exact usage. when we talk back and forth about "religious people" that means one thing, and what just qualifies as "Religion" is another. the meshing of those two seems to have led to some confusion. but, honestly, i dont know absolutely what it is, but i do have a good idea of what it isnt and what elements of it are essential to it, if all together incomplete

but i agree with your characterization of it as being something outside of knowledge, and thats whats both most interesting and infuriating about it. passively having beliefs or hypothetical positions about things that lie outside of knowledge, like the question of god, is fine, its when people start using that as the basis for real world action or allow it to infringe upon objective knowledge or reality, a la intelligent designers refusing to accept evolution, in spite of whatever mountain of evidence, and choosing faith instead. that is absolutely, absolutely inexcusable i think and represents the worst of what religion, or just faith in general, is capable of. everyone, to some degree or another, places faith above reason for things at some point for whatever, but i think the degree needed to entirely ignore what reality is telling your for something like that is basically the exclusive province of religion
but, yeah, i think by definition faith is apart from proof or reality and its actually a really weird feeling letting that idea run around your head for a second. every so often i allow myself to think that way and i can definitely understand the psychology of it all, and why people who have such a faith are so entirely impervious to outside claims against their belief that use objective evidence as a foundation. it can never work. its what yelling is to the deaf. but, really, it is incredibly interesting.

this is going to sound ridiculously contradictory, but i actualyl consider myself a pretty (pardon the tonnes of cheese that this word carries as baggage) 'spiritual' guy. this comes, though, 100% through connection with reality. or, exists AS a connection with reality. it exists as reality does. it seems like i cant even continue one word further without just bathing in cheese here. i dont know what to do. i think i kind of had this awakening to it last summer when i was sitting outside on a really warm windy day. if you can imagine the scene, there were squirrels running about, back and forth, here and then gone and then here again, and just trees rocking in the wind. thats it, but if you kind of eliminate every barrier that youve constructed to your perception of things, especially nature, and allow yourself to see whatever is there, you can kind of see the "order" of things. this sounds like the boring ravings of some drug addict or soemthing but its hard to escape that. its all very, i guess, buddhist at best and (oh god, im going to barf even typing these words) "new age" at worst.actually it isnt, what the fuck am i saying. its hard to avoid giving that impression, sure, but its not without substance and isnt at all so throwaway and tritel. the point is that i dont accept this idea that is sometimes put forth, that, because these thigns are "inherently unknowable" (i dont exactly agree with that anyways) that the raising of these questions is irrelevant and futile, if not damaging. i dont like that idea. i thnk there are very valid questions there

on a related note, a few days ago i read britannicas article on "religious experience" and the opening was really hilarious and interesting. enough so, i thought, to share with you:

Quote:
specific experiences such as wonder at the infinity of the cosmos, the sense of awe and mystery in the presence of the holy, feelings of dependence on a divine power or an unseen order, the sense of guilt and anxiety accompanying belief in a divine judgment, and the feeling of peace that follows faith in divine forgiveness.
i always marvel at how words or ideas are defined words dictionaries and the like, i think its so interesting. i was obsessed before with looking up definitions for very common ideas, things that i knew perfectly well what their meaning was. its a real heady thing to do, i found. its weird

 
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Old 04-22-2006, 07:07 PM   #147
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Originally Posted by Lie
Okay, I am totally going to fuck this up, and don't you dare express surprise or sympathy when I do.

Norwegian
Irish
Korean
Japanese
English
Chinese
i can safely say that i feel neither surprise or sympathy. a bit of disappointment, actually. again, i dont really know how difficult these actually are because i know the answers, but some of them really did seem obvious to me (i actually didnt even see that chinese flag either when i chose that image)

but the correct answers were

swedish
english
chinese
japanese
scottish (come on, this one was obvious)
korean

i almost get the impression that youre purposely throwing these for some reason. i cant understand why youre so wrong so often

 
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Old 04-22-2006, 07:08 PM   #148
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Originally Posted by Lie
I think I'm just going to lie down and take a nap here.

*fetches sleeping bag*

this place has really come to take the character of sanctuary in my mind now. i kind of shudder at the thought of going back out there. bad associations, fuck

 
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Old 04-22-2006, 09:26 PM   #149
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wow, this thread got real off topic.

 
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Old 04-23-2006, 09:19 PM   #150
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Originally Posted by sleeper
i joking about the abandoning thing, that word was said tongue in cheek. the rest was from borat

i knew i was treading on thin ice with the serial killer analogy, just because of the connotations it obviously has which i didnt exactly intend, and evidently you got mislead by them. i wasnt implying the act of serial killing is at all akin to the act of choosing to have faith, but that here is just a hard, clear example of some aspect of someone (deeds and choices do always count towards a person) that cant ever be changed through discussion to the point that the fundamental point of it is erased. the analogy was hazy and the same ends couldve been serviced better with something else, but it still works for my point, which is that not all aspects to people are entirely malleable or user-defined (if you will) and that there are certain facts that are, while mutable to a degree, never really totally erasable. incontrovertible is the right word for it

and this was in response to the idea that you cant judge someone for being, say, a christian because not all christians are identical and their beliefs are always somehow idiosyncratic and personal or whatever. thats true, im accepting, but however idiosyncratic, they couldnt ever be enough to change that hard core of it (which is what im criticizing)

this is apart from this main strand to this talk, but i have to stop and object to this idea that being a christian and attending a church is at all comparably benign to something like AA or whatever. let me just, learning the lessons of your misunderstanding of my analogy (my fault for that, ok), and try and identify exactly what youre saying: the role or purpose these things serve when it comes down to it, on a practical, day to day basis, is similar to that of most other places people go for help or interaction or guidance or feelings of community or companionship or whatever. that its all pretty inconsequential and harmless, if not actively good for the person or society. right? well not only does religion, like you said, deal with everything of someones worldview, as opposed to what a chess club or something would do, and do so to a degree that i think is unique to religion, but it deals with much greater questions. i really dont like your equating religion-like things and religion, or behaviour that is religious-like to actually religious behaviour, or belief that is religious-like... and so on. there are such core differences that eliminate these comparisons, not least of which because of the point that comparison seems to be making within the context of your argument, which is that, basically, it is not right to specifically criticize religious people in such a way, when what youre criticizing also exists everywhere else. not so. for one, religion deals with the supernatural, which necessarily connotes faith. a radical feminist is still held within the bounds of reality (at least in way that a similarly radical religious person couldnt claim to be). any claims she would be making, or just the validity of anything she is doing or saying, pertain to the objective state of things, and they could be disproved or proved or whatever. religious belief, on the other hand, is totally unimpeachable. always and forever, no matter what. nothing at all can ever unseat it. with something like this involved, even the most devout and dogmatic of feminists or communists cant be compared. there are so many other levels to this, so many more things id like to bring up against this comparison, but ill mention this one more idea, just because i came across it recently and wouldnt mind sounding it off you, (maybe a tad presumptuous of me, pardon my poor manners). it was from this paragraph:



i just like this idea that a wider personal effect to accepting religion exists, that making that choice (choosing to put faith above reason or reality (on some level at some point this is always done, i think)) has a kind of chilling effect throughout. it alters the nature of the debate within the person. their worldview is coloured by such a thing, the same way someone who vigorously held themselves accountable to reason and evidence and whatever would have their view of everything and anything effected. ok im having trouble expressing this idea. to just try with brute force to weasel this idea out of my head, let me put it one more way: it raises the stock of "faith" and lowers the stock of "reason" across the board.
i mean, let me ask you: who would you feel more comfortable around: a religious person or a fundamentally irreligious person? by comfortable i mean safe and i intentionally didnt specify a specifc religion. i bet anything youd pick the irreligious person. and why? i think this is good way to pose it

ok im reading as i reply and i see you say that you think there is significance in religion itself. im not going to erase everything i wrote though, even though a lot of it was founded on the assumption that you kind of felt the opposite

but i absolutely do think its right to place judgement on people for being religious. this idea is the whole focus of this discussion. if we first accept that we are able to (that it has some objective basis (which, it seems, we agree that it does) and that we, as humans, are, in general, capable of doing that) then its just about the right judgement. judging well. i wouldnt take any points off somone who is just innocent or naive, like, for instance, some kid that says he believes in father christ or some shit, so it clearly is not just about someone being "religious" and that automatically meaning xyz, it is of course more variable than that. but the example person in my mind was always someone mature, aware, and responsible, who knowingly and honestly makes that choice, which is why i ruled out that thing you said before about "how do you know if they actually believe?" we really can only assume my example person for this to work, i think


see but here it is again. A) whatever freedoms it allows or whatever its character, its still a Religion and, being a religion, has that hard core i was talking about that cant be reduced any further.
Okay, well I think you hit on what I was saying about halfway down, that I wasn't talking about Religion with a capital "R," but people who call themselves religious and the way they relate to it. I don't think this is something you can discount even if it's not your main point; I think it's absolutely relevant. I don't think that Religion is the same thing as a chess club or a feminist group and wasn't implying that it was, but the fact remains that there are plenty of religious people (varieties of Protestant especially) who treat it this way. I think another thing you're missing about what I'm saying is that religion isn't just something that people choose, it's something that people actively create and define...that's why we have like a million offshoots of Christianity and why there will always be faith groups tolerant enough for practically anyone. I'm not saying it's a good or a bad thing, I'm just saying that throughout history people have bent and added to the rules of various religions to suit their own interpretations and their own views, that religion is not this separate entity, it's something that people have had a large hand in maintaining. And sure religion has been used politically for manipulation and coercion of various kinds, but you can't on the one hand criticize people for taking the choice of being religious and on the other hand blame Religion for various problems in society...this phenomenon is a problem, no shit it is, and I would like to see it stop as much as you, I'm sure, but I think your way of looking at it muddies the actual problem.

As far as your question about feeling comfortable with a religious person or a fundamentally irreligious person, I would feel most comfortable with the person who was the least fundamentally disposed in actuality in whatever sense. I would feel safer with my Muslim friend who I've known since grade school or my Methodist friend from college who are very tolerant and pragmatic people, than I would with, say, a bloodthirsty racial nationalist who was of no religious persuasion whatsoever but had a problem with the way I looked. Statistically speaking, you're right, my chances of landing someone who hated me would probably be greater if I picked a religious person, but I don't think either of us is interested in discussing odds or chances while we're having a primarily theoretical discussion here.

I certainly don't see how it's "absolutely right" to place judgment on people for being religious. Maybe you could explain what you mean or why you feel this way because beyond logical discussion, I just don't feel it at all. I don't know what kind of a world you live in but I live in one where I can meet and talk to or work with someone for years and never know if they are religious because they never mention it. The most blatantly fundamentally irreligious person I know these days is a guy who is very bitter and angry about the world and makes HIS worldview that the human race is full of jackasses and therefore he has every right to be a jackass to everyone else. He has problems with gay people and black people and anyone who makes more money than he does and he voices this openly. I realize that this isn't exactly relevant to the discussion either, but it's just the give you an idea of where I'm coming from. In reality, the lines are blurred considerably, and I speak partially from personal experience.

Last edited by Lie : 04-23-2006 at 10:15 PM.

 
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