Be Not Afraid

Accusations have been made — recently and in the past — that I hold the social views that I do out of fear and hate. “Why do you fear sex?” “Why do you hate homosexuals?” “Why are you afraid of progress?”
If not for the realization that these are clichés that have more to do with the speaker than with the object, I’d find such question perplexing, the personal experience of being myself having been what it’s been. I was much more fearful back when I was an atheist with all of the proper opinions — pro-choice, fully tolerantTM, and so on.
To be sure, a large contributor to my unease was the underlying sense that there was something flawed in the opinions I felt obliged to have, and that the results were dangerous and harmful, not the least to those who were supposed to benefit by them. What if I was ostracized? What if agreeing with the wrong crowd diminished my potential for accomplishing those goals on which I’d set my sights? What if I one day proved to have been backwards and culpably incorrect?
With faith came courage.
With more to the world than material accomplishments, things that I knew to be wrong could be decried on their lack of merit. Our God became human, going so far as to allow His begotten Son, with whom He is one, to doubt Him, and for His lesson to humanity, He allowed us to torture and kill him for speaking the truth. Of what should we, then, be afraid, except perhaps cowardice and complacency?
Men and women of good will disagree about the specific requirements of religion, as a matter of worship, of intellect, and of action, but to suppose that those whose conclusions and consciences run contrary to the temper of the times speak against that fever out of fear is to misunderstand faith. It is, I would suggest, to misunderstand the significance of our celebrations this week: God’s gifts to us are manifold, but justifications for courage and for hope rise high among them.
Christmas is a merry time, indeed.

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rhody
rhody
13 years ago

It’s not always about hate. It’s about fearing what you don’t understand.
Once you understand that gays are no threat to your existence, you’ll feel differently. The God I believe in does not fear them, and I think we believe in the same God.
Believe me, there are much bigger threats to our existence (and our relationships with God).

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Not good enough, Rhody.
Since you are claiming more insight into my motivations than I myself have (inasmuch as I assert the opposite), you must make the argument. What special facts do you know about me that lead you to such surety that I’m afraid of the socially unknown? Heck, what facts lead you to conclude that it is “unknown” for me?

chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

Justin,
If I may be so bold. I would ignore those criticisms if I were you. The genealogy of your ideas is irrelevant to their validity. For example, Milton Friedman (or Karl Marx) is either right or wrong. If he adopted his views because of how his mother treated him or whatever, it should be of interest only to biographers, but not to economists.
If your ideas are based on demonstrable facts and rational arguments, they will stand on their own. If they are based on an unprovable metaphysic, there is no point in you arguing that you’re right, or anyone else arguing that you’re wrong. You just believe it, and that’s that.
You used to be a pro-choice athiest? Wow.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

Perversion like sodomy and adultery has always been there. It should be legally tolerated but kept where it belongs-in the gutter, not on a pedestal with indoctrinaion lessons in the “public” schools.
The result is an obviously pathetic, mincing, lisping freak who couldn’t survive a middle school gym class without debasement being made mayor of the “Capital City” by misguided PC when he should be nothing but an object of pity.
Now you see why over a billion Muslims hate “American Values” and the forcible speading of them. You know what? They are RIGHT to want us out of their lands. We spread filth and disease-physical and spiritual.
Anyone over 18 can go to xtube.com and see the neurotic things these creatures do -which turn the stomach of any sane person. “Sane person” of course is not phrase oft used for the “progressives”.

chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

I wonder if Mike is aware that the definition of “sodomy”, the one used by ALL of the states until the 1970s to define an act punishable by long prison terms, includes ANY oral or anal sex between ANY persons, straight or gay, single or married.
So, MIke, if you have had oral or anal sex with ANYONE, you have committed sodomy. It was a crime in RI until 1993, so if you did it before then, you are a felon as well.

Pragmatist
Pragmatist
13 years ago

Justin, your defense of traditionalism is by its nature an opposition to societal change. I have no idea if it is grounded in actual “fear” or not. Who cares on that point? It’s when you say things like “things that I knew to be wrong could be decried on their lack of merit” that I pay attention. Since you “know” the demerits of these things through your faith, you become impossible to debate in civil society.
Chalkdust, judging by Mike’s general demeanor and the tenor of his comments, my guess is that he hasn’t had many sodomy offers in his day, whatever of the flavor.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

As a libertarian I was against sodomy laws before any college-age “progressives” were born.
Legal tolerance is different from social approval.
If you’re average schoolboy were shown what these sad creatures really do, the approval rating for “gays” would plummet.
Anyone over 18 can go to xtube.com and see the fisting, felching, rimming, double penetrations, “water” sports, scat, snowballing and sadism that form the raison d’etre of the “gays”. I would descibe some of this pathetic behavior but I would probably be censored. See for yourself if you are over 18.
If the truth were really known we would have that corrupt, mincing pathic as mayor of the “Capital City”.
It should be legal-but kept in the gutter (just as I feel about dope). These diseased minds should be pitied but not glorified and elected to high office.

michael
michael
13 years ago

I finally realized I don’t care in the least what Mike has to say about anything.

michael
michael
13 years ago

One more thing….Merry Christmas!

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Pragmatist: I don’t see where I defended traditionalism qua traditionalism. I think traditions deserve quite a bit of extra weight as we manipulate the clay of society, but I don’t consider it to be a conversation ender. Relatedly, this is where you go astray, and where those who hold your general views tend toward tyranny: It’s when you say things like “things that I knew to be wrong could be decried on their lack of merit” that I pay attention. Since you “know” the demerits of these things through your faith, you become impossible to debate in civil society. Note that I said “decried on their lack of merit”; I didn’t go into how I “know” each thing to be wrong, because that knowledge will vary from issue to issue. The lack of merit can and should still be described. The point is that when one is overly concerned with holding the proper opinion, the opinion of the age, the opinion that seeks to anticipate the dispositions of future generations, one is not free to decry positions even though they lack merit. Holding them is dictated by social considerations. My assertion in this post is that God — at least the God in whom I believe — frees us to be courageous against that temper. The tyranny comes in where you — having come to believe (to know as a matter of faith) that religious bases ought to disqualify socio-political arguments — disclaim the ability of our two sides from engaging in civil debate. You do so, I surmise, because you think the political trends are in your direction, so you believe disengaging our discussion will ultimately default to your preferences (i.e., it becomes a power play, and you think your side’s power is on the ebb). But your premise… Read more »

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Justin, Justin, Justin.
I do not pretend to know what’s going on in your head, any more than you know what’s going on in mine.
Homosexuality is no threat to me. If you have a problem with that, in the spirit of Jesus’ birthday, I offer you a thousand pardons.

Pragamatist
Pragamatist
13 years ago

Justin,
If your political arguments are based in your faith, that is fine. But when you enter the social arena, you can’t use your faith to make the case. You need to use language and arguments that can be debated. You in the past have been quick to judge the direction in which the souls of some of your opponents are headed. That is the kind of argument that leads nowhere and engenders a tremendous amount of hostility.
As for the “courage” that your faith allows you, I could suggest that what you interpret as courage might be better described as something less noble, but alas it is the season when I should pass over such opportunities. Perhaps my soul will register an indulgence for that.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

You need to use language and arguments that can be debated.

I do. But you and others are so quick to assume that the policy arguments are mere smoke to hide the religion (in order to dismiss them) that I find it hard to believe you truly think there’s a distinction.

You in the past have been quick to judge the direction in which the souls of some of your opponents are headed.

That’s a lie. I’ve looked at certain approaches to problems (in particular a reluctance to reconsider policies) and mused that such approaches struck me as possible examples of a hellbound mentality. I passed no judgment on the individuals or on people who hold their general views.
See, as with above, I don’t believe that you truly allow the distinction between making a policy argument and thinking about how our behavior affects the disposition of our souls.

Pragmatist
Pragmatist
13 years ago

Well, you said this:
“Topping a list that ultimately includes every person alive and yet to be born are those whose economic, emotional, and (yes) spiritual wellbeing is threatened by their own inclinations away from stable, monogamous marital relationships and those who are born to such people.”
Forgive me if I misinterpret this to mean that you believe that the souls of all of humanity are threatened by your opponents’ position. Yes, indeed, that makes for rational debate.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Well said, Prag.
Unless St. Peter was felled by scandal and Justin’s replacing him as keeper of the Pearly Gates. Then, we may have a problem.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

First of all, note that in your quotation (and by your initial language, I thought you were referring to another), I said “spiritual wellbeing.” I don’t know how much you bother with spiritual/religious thought, but this phrase is quite a bit broader than judging “the direction in which the souls of some of [my] opponents are headed.”
More significantly, if rational debate ends there, it is because you choose to end it. The line that you quote is a perfect example: you could rationally state I am incorrect about the spiritual wellbeing part and/or that the religious component isn’t a valid basis for public policy. Either way, I’d cede the point and move on.
That is why I conclude that you’d prefer to end the discussion from the get-go and force your side through power plays. Suppose I’d left the “spiritual wellbeing” part off my list of harms. You’d have assumed that it was there tacitly and, moreover, that the rest was just filler to make up for my inability to state it as part of my argument. What you’d really be saying, in that case, is that no argument that accords with a religious view (specifically, a conservative Christian view) is applicable — unless, I suppose, the speaker is willing to belittle the religious argument beforehand.
That may be pragmatic, in your view, but it’s not very honest, nor very democratic. As I said: this is where those who hold your general views tend toward tyranny.

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