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Friday, February 16, 2018

In which I am forced out of the closet

This blog has been my closet for two years now.  That is, I mostly don't talk about religion anywhere but here.  I didn't want to make a big statement and offend half my friends, so I have shared my theological questions and opinions here, in the safety of obscurity.  This blog isn't private, but it's read by maybe twenty people and, so far as I know, you're all nice, so I've felt pretty safe being open on here.  It's like having a private conversation in a busy restaurant.  There are other people there, but they don't care about you enough to listen in.

And it's possible to dig through my facebook account enough to find one's way to this blog and then read back through for several months and get posts that mention my beliefs.  I didn't worry about that too much, because I figured nobody cares about me enough to do that kind of digging unless they really like me.

Well, I was wrong.  Somebody did care that much.  Someone, probably ticked off about my criticism of Christendom's treatment of rape victims, found their way here.  He immediately messaged me saying that I owed it to everyone to be public, for fear someone might listen to me or trust me because they thought I was Catholic.  Not that I've claimed to be, but people consider it the default because I went to Christendom, so not making my private views public, in his view, amounted to lying.

And because of all that, he gave me a deadline.  Make an announcement in a group we're both part of, or he'd do it for me.

It got me really upset.  I've had a lot of reasons for keeping my religious beliefs mostly to myself.  I don't want it to be a big thing.  I don't want to make people think badly of my kids or my husband because of me.  I also know that many people take the view that having private opinions is one thing, but making a public statement is formal apostasy and gives scandal.  I never wanted to make that kind of gesture.  It only upsets people, and who am I to "give people a faith crisis," as my words have been accused of doing?  I've warned people off this blog a few times for that reason.  If you find I'm scandalizing you, don't read.  It's fine.  I just didn't want to be accused of throwing my opinions in people's faces.

At the same time, the closet is a smothery place and I've complained about it a bit.  Even just being able to talk about stuff here, and nowhere else, is still pretty isolating.  I comment a lot on Catholic stuff, and while I never claim to be Catholic, people assume and it's hard to walk the line of saying only things a Catholic would believe, without saying things I don't believe.  It's a mental burden to be doing that all the time.  I've been looking forward to maybe being a little braver someday.

But it's different to have that forced on me.  It's sickening to have someone else have that kind of power over me, to decide what I am allowed to keep private and what I am not.  I felt ill about it for a day or so, went back and forth with the guy trying to talk him out of it, but his mind was made up.  So I went ahead and posted to the group, while making clear that I was being forced to do it.  I don't want to now be punished because I insisted on being public about this.  At the same time, I had no interest in stalling for time.  The unpleasantness of people's negative responses would be a lot better than the stress of knowing a person who dislikes me was holding that over my head.

I got a lot of supportive messages over it, so that was nice.  I know most people aren't that cruel.  They might be sad not to share a faith with me anymore, but they also want to condemn that sort of behavior.  They agree it was my right to tell or not tell who I wanted.

But of course, there's plenty of negative feedback as well.  I commented on a friend's post about gun control today and someone, a stranger to me and not a member of the group I posted in, said that no one should believe me because I "publicly" apostasized.  Not that there is a Catholic teaching about gun control, or that I had claimed anything about Catholic teaching, but simply that I existed while not being Catholic.  It bothers me that the information is spreading so much.  I wonder if my blog is going to get a whole bunch of hits all of a sudden, people eager to pick apart my beliefs and condemn me.  To gawk at photos of my kids, sneer at Marko's autism, judge my parenting.  I feel like I'm naked in the middle of my college Commons. 

Anyway, it's hard to write this post now because I feel I'm no longer just talking to you, my online friends, some of whom I've been interacting with for a decade or more.  I'm talking also to enemies, who may or not be reading.  But again, I feel that avoiding talking on here just gives those people more power than they deserve.  I'm not letting them kill my blog.  I'm not the one who has done something to be ashamed of.

Could I get some supportive comments today?  I'd like a reminder that people are reading who like me, or who like what I write, and aren't just here to judge me.  Even the people who are Catholic aren't the Inquisition.  You guys are good people and you're not here to stare .... right?

50 comments:

Sugar Coater said...

I find it appalling that someone you know/knew would do that to you. I think your "closet" is the same as my "closet" - my blog where I can say WHATEVER I want. Your opinions and feelings about Christendom and their NON handling of sexual assaults are yours - but not yours alone. Obviously someone is protesting too much. Anyway, I enjoy reading your blog, whether it's about a Catholic thing, Marko and your kids, cooking, knitting, or anything. It's a nice escape for me. And yours as well. So let the naysayers keep saying what they will. As I usually say, "If you don't like what you read here, read something else. Go find a cereal box or something." WRITE ON.

MrRoivas said...

Fuck the would be inquisitor who started this.

Keep on being you. It seems a worthwhile project.

Andrea said...

Hey there! I think we’re pretty opposite in terms of how we think, but I must say that was a really rotten thing for that guy to do. And if he is a Catholic, it was honestly a super un-Catholic gesture. Just plain malicious.

I see you as a woman and a mother who is trying to navigate the very difficult task of raising her family while feeling like a whole person herself. I don’t necessarily agree with how you go about it at times, but I respect you as a person who shouldn’t be placed in a box.

Heather J. Chin said...

He fkg threatened and blackmailed you into outing yourself?! The immoral, selfish, self-righteous, abuse-apologist, hypocritical, abuser himself. Defending rapists and rape enablers by then stalking and violating other women and advocates is not brave, not righteous, not good, not godly, not brave, not anything decent in this world or any world, no matter how much he claims it is. If he believes in God, then he should know that **he will be judged.**

I am so sorry you were forced to go through this, Sheila. I've been following your blog and wondering whether any of your friends have turned on you, but didn't see any signs of it, so didn't worry too much, but then I saw John's post and had that gut dread that this was it.
As you wrote, this is not your fault, you did nothing wrong, simply existing is not a sin, your faith in whatever form it exists is not a lie, you and your family have nothing to be ashamed of. You are braver than many in this world and in your communities. Some people will never grow and mature and evolve enough into the wisdom you have already accrued through hardship and hard work and sheer willpower and natural talent and love.

Vengeful me says shame him back (did you share with the group who the jerk was who stalkedand blackmailed you?), but I guess we must not become the monsters we fight. . . However, know that I and others are willing to be the army at your back if you need. Because I have no compunction or Catholic reputation/expectation to uphold, although that usually means I get ignored immediately. In any case, know thst you are not alone -- your community simply got larger and more inclusive, with people from across other cliques and categories, who defy the boxes others place on them.

**HUGS AND LOVE**

Heather J. Chin said...

Also, speaking of boxes meant to mold us, and knowing our culture's penchant for catchy phrases and memes: **you are not a chia pet!!** (or that hoax video about square shaped kittens)

Heather J. Chin said...

Also, I read somewhere about solidarity being a Catholic teaching... I think it was Kalynn on John's post defending his town council statements and newspaper coverage of it. Solidarity with your fellow human beings, your neighbors and friends, your Catholic sisters, is not something to be maligned or shamed. The so-called man who chose to wear the mantle of inquisitor and judge is doing so at full risk of emulating the same people who condemned and condescended to his presumed persecuted heroes.

Anyway, in solidarity, sister.

Sheila said...

Thanks for the kind words!

I did name the person who did this, but unfortunately it seemed about as many people were on his side as on mine. Even though there is a clear church teaching on "detraction", which is spreading true things about someone that would damage their reputation, if you don't have a good reason to share them. I don't actually agree that this is wrong in most cases, but this guy emphatically does because we *argued* about it just the other day! He said it was detraction to talk about what the college is doing. And there are sadly plenty of other people care more about defending the college, and about protecting Catholics from my pernicious opinions, than about human beings.

Most disappointing were the people who didn't want to take any sides and just said there should be more charity and we should have worked this out in private. Too risky, I guess, to defend me and thus be associated with me.

I haven't lost any friends over this still. But my larger circle, the people I know who previously just sort of assumed I was an okay person, has partly turned on me. I keep reminding myself that only the opinions of my friends really matter, but my subconscious thinks that angry acquaintances are dangerous, and it makes me anxious even though there isn't really anything to worry about.

Belfry Bat said...

What a person Really Believes is what they do. It's true that some of what a person does goes on in their head first, so there is an intellectual component to Faith, but it's not alone anymore than your proper thoughts are alone or separated from the Active and Embodied You thinking them; anyways, so far as I can tell, you really are looking for goodness and working at being good; and the only point we might fundamentally disagree on is the event of the Appearing of Goodness Within History.

So, courage to you! and ... let's hope something prompts the bully to a change of heart, because at best he's already making himself miserable.

Tiffany said...

Sheila, I'm sorry you were put in that terrible position, that was quite unfair. You've always been honest and thought provoking on this blog, and I've always enjoyed reading it. <3

Heather J. Chin said...

It's outrageous. Being Catholic does not equal being right, or being moral. Non-believers are not illegitimate, which is the core of what the hypocritical, arguably evil, jerk and those who think like him are saying. That is the height of hubris and isn't pride a sin? Maybe I'm mixing my religious teachings there.
Personally, I think malicious acquaintances are more dangerous than angry ones... anger can pass, while malice is sewn deep into the soul.
If anyone turns on you directly again, remind them that your stance on anything is not made more legitimate if you we're Catholic, and that their opinions are not more right or good based on their religious faith. Their arrogance and absolutism and blindness render them less faithful and reliable than anyone. It seems to me that you're actually more in line with the goodness of religious teachings now that you don't consider yourself Catholic than they are while trying to judge and beancount themselves and others.

Sheila said...

Bat, the intellect and the will make a terrible tangle. I told the person that I don't feel my beliefs are a choice, that I can't help but believe what seems to me to be the truth. But he said, there's always a choice, and the right thing to do is continue to follow the church even when it doesn't seem to be true. But to me this means silencing the intellect altogether.

We all do what we think is right, or we try to. But we don't all agree on what the right thing is. I wish it were easier to tell.

Thanks, Tiffany -- I've always liked your blog too! I should go catch up on it!

Unfortunately, Heather, the sort of Catholicism that these people espouse is very much focused on being Catholic more than on charitable action. One of these types actually told me once that it doesn't matter how much you work for the poor or for justice, if you aren't Catholic, you still go to hell. Whereas he himself, though he didn't do all that stuff, at least went to church and therefore had a hope of heaven. When people's morality is as twisted as this, there's not a lot you can say. If their version of God would torture me for all eternity for thinking the wrong things, they think they're being *merciful* when they do anything even slightly less.

Belfry Bat said...

Yes, a terrible, a very human tangle. We have to comb ourselves out and then pick a braiding that makes sense...

... hm, do we all do what we think is right? This Is a Tricky Question. Surely some do. I can think of times I've done what I knew I shouldn't, e.g. for the sake of being agreeable --- or, to put it another way, occasions when I found my beliefs contradicting each other. But I will agree with: we all find a way to rationalize what we do. (I think maybe the time is coming when I shall have to read Solzhenitsyn).

...

One well might want to say to some of these folk you allude to, "brother, take the plank out of thine own eye, before you try to take the speck from mine". Particularly in that the attitude you describe having found, in that last paragraph, it doesn't sound Catholic. That sounds Lutheran, much too much "Glauben allein". Wherever do you find such heretics? The heretics around here are of a Much Different Sort.

The Sojourner said...

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Melissa said...

Hi Sheila. Fellow (currently) closeted apostate here. Just want to be supportive. I read you blog and love it because it's cool to see you working through the things I am familiar with having problems with. And I LOVE your approach to Marko's autism and it's been healing for me to read because you are making choices I wish my parents had been able to make for my brother.
I'm really sorry that guy is being so nasty. I have a sneaking suspicion that I might know who it is, or at least...I got in a pretty big argument with someone who sounds similar, and he was so unpleasant to other people that I unfriended him. And I didn't even go to CC and he doesn't even know I'm not Catholic! So...sympathy.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for years, and I always comment anonymously because I used to be part of the Christendom College community. I left that group of people behind because I found them to be narrow-minded, judgemental, and rather unchristian in their words and deeds.

Please do not stop blogging. I don't know you personally, but I've come to care about you and your wonderful family. I am so proud of all you have accomplished.

To the judgemental prick who dared make Sheila feel like she has no right to exist because she doesn't live in a narrow, stifling Catholic box anymore: I am laughing my head off at you right now. All you've done is given her courage to speak louder.

Sheila said...

Melissa, unfortunately my description of the dude doesn't even narrow it down among Christendom guys. But I don't mind naming him. His name is KC DuFrain. Anyway, I'm glad to "meet" you and glad you like my blog. <3

Anon, I love your last paragraph. Yes, I feel I have been given more courage. I was really scared for people to know, but now that they do, what else is there to be afraid of? So far I haven't had the level of negative reactions I've expected.

anna said...

Hi Sheila,
I'm a Catholic and I appreciate your intellectual honesty. I came across your blog a long time ago via Seraphic Singles and somehow kept checking back. At the time I was a little provoked by your apparent certainty about some issues (e. g. providentialism). I feel as though we would be more likely to hit it off in person now if we ever met than we would have been then, although I was sorry to hear that you were no longer Catholic.

C. S. Lewis somewhere wrote (I paraphrase) that a young man who tells his family that he can no longer worship with them because in all honesty he has lost his faith might be closer to God than ever.

Sheila said...

Haha, I am a little embarrassed by some of my ideas back then -- and even more embarrassed by how I used to dictate them to everyone with such confidence! I try to have a more humble attitude to my opinions these days, since I've been wrong so many times. Nothing sillier than a lady with one kid solemnly pronouncing that she's going to have ten, when she's never even tried having two before.

Anyway, glad you stuck around.

Cristina said...

Congratulations on "coming out"! I hope that you at least feel better. I "came out" in a small way myself last December, and was surprised to see that I had been living a double life for over a year. Who knew that letting people think what they want to think, while you know the truth, would be such a burden?

Mr. DuFrain had no right to play you like that. If he were really against "deception," then he would have made the announcement himself. I'm not saying that he should have done it, but that his giving you a deadline was about nothing but wielding power over another person. He may not have liked that you were "lying" to other people, but he certainly doesn't mind lying to himself.

He's an extreme case, but I think that people in general tend to lay a kind of burden of proof on others who are doing things they disapprove of. "Prove to me you're not as bad as you seem to be." And if we very much want to be liked and to keep the peace, we either bust our butts doing it . . . or feel ashamed that we can't. When someone heard I was hearing Mass at an SSPX chapel, he asked me if I had a "plan" for fixing their irregular status, implying that if I didn't, I was a bad Catholic for going there. Only after a year of guilt and shame did I realize that he had no right to obligate me to do something like that. The Pope and the Superior General themselves don't seem to have a plan, but he expected me to come up withone??? How is that in any way realistic?

But as I've said, this doesn't seem to be something we're conscious of. If we were, we wouldn't do it to the people we care about. I've likely done it myself in the past without fully realizing it.

Finally, a few years ago, when I had my own troll, what she didn't like was that I was being "anonymous." So she started writing about me using my real name in the comments of my own blog, but not also actually addressing me. My real name had never been a big secret, so I didn't understand why I felt so violated. Comparing it to your situation with Mr. DuFrain, it's much clearer. She wanted me to regulate my online life on her terms. And when I didn't, she made it appear that I was being a hypocrite when I was actually aboveboard. (Much more so than she, who truly hid her own name! But there were still a lot of people who said she "had a point." And I'm sure there are lots who'd say the same of Mr. DuFrain.) I think your own reasons for keeping some things hidden were, well, reasonable. They just put that awful double life burden on you. So as I've said, I hope you at least feel better. And braver.

saeculustra said...

I was really sad and angry to hear this happened. I hope you're doing better now. (And I was planning to say so before reading where you said you were looking for positive comments, fwiw.)

Sheila said...

Yes, that is exactly it, Cristina! *doublechecks that I'm using the right name* I felt like what he really wanted was for me to beg him not to reveal my secret, to try to prove I wasn't a problem, and most of all, to quit arguing with him online for fear he'd out me at any moment. And that was what other people who were trying to "peacemake" said ... that maybe if I called him and explained all my reasoning and reassured him that he was allowed to monitor my online postings forever, he'd agree to keep my secret. But no way. It's enough of a psychic burden to keep a secret. I'm not begging another person to keep it, and letting them hold it over my head forever.

He had no right to make himself the authority on this. And playing along would be like agreeing that he did. The only solution I could see was to take away the secrecy, and then he had nothing he could have done.

He's been telling people now that he has some regrets. I certainly hope he does. But he hasn't apologized *to me* so I suspect he doesn't regret it all that much.

And yeah, I do feel better.

Thanks, saeculustra. <3

Anonymous said...

Hello Sheila,

First, I want to say thank you for writing all of your blog posts.

I'm a Christendom alumnus (class of 2002) who also reached the point of no longer being able to believe in Catholic authority, and was forced to re-think my whole life.

The larger Christendom community probably does not know, but I'm out to my close friends and family. When considering telling others, I reasoned to myself that my real friends would still like me. I would rather be rejected for what I am than accepted for something I'm not.

In your blog, you've put a voice to something that many of us (apparently) have been thinking. I've found it very exciting and cathartic to find your blog, because until I now I didn't know anyone else from Christendom who had taken this path.

To me it was like in The Man who Was Thursday when Syme first finds out that one of the other supposed anarchists is also a policeman in disguise. Instead of feeling I must be crazy because everyone else disagrees with me, I feel less like that because other people see the things I did.

Please continue, and know that although there might be strangers judging you or shunning you, there will also be others who are inspired by your honesty and clarity of thought.

Paul Tillotson

Sheila said...

It is very much like that book!

I know quite a few Christendom ex-Catholics, actually. Most of us don't spread that info around the Christendom community because it makes people so angry, but the result of that is that everyone thinks there ARE no Christendom ex-Catholics. Tom McFadden's promotional material for the school often boasts about how few apostates they have ... but his numbers are way off. Maybe I should call him up and say so.

saeculustra said...

I think you (better, y'all) definitely should call Tom McFadden and blow his mind..glad you're doing better <3

Cristina said...

One thing I regret about the last two years is that I didn't blog about it. What I had wanted most was to find other people in the same boat as I was -- Catholics discovering a deeper Tradition and falling in love with it, but having to deal with opposition from friends and family. But a very good friend recommended that I keep things close to my chest online. Though he himself is a "Trad," he had tangled with enough other "Trads" on the Internet to worry that people would attack me for "Tradding the wrong way." He was probably right that I risked a reaction like that, but keeping quiet added to the sense of shame I felt about what I was doing. I should have just dived in. Am I not an experienced surfer of the hate wave?

Funnily enough, around the same time, my office hired an American Evangelical. I mentioned this to my friend, who promptly joked that, through me, the new guy would discover Tradition and convert. I said that it would be a very difficult conversion, because he was super religious, his entire family was also Evangelical, and he had even been to one of their seminaries with a view to becoming a pastor one day. My friend said, "You couldn't ask for a better crucible." Well, the guy didn't convert (though he tried to convert me -- surprise, surprise), but I now know exactly what my friend meant about crucibles. I had been sitting in mine that whole year.

But even this purgation stage needs a kind of "graduation day." Just the other day, I read a quote on Twitter that went along the lines of: "An opinion is just BS until you're willing to take a risk on it." This seems to speak to what we have gone through. The time in the crucible is wasted if you can't also declare yourself to the world.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sheila, I am a most occasional reader of your blog, but I say, if your are a seeker of truth, Catholic online jerks should have nothing to fear.

Anna Hatke said...

I think you SHOULD tell Christendom about your crisis with Catholicism!!!!! I am proud of you for speaking the truth. If more people confronted this ideology it would stop the best people from alienating themselves from the very communities that need them.

Christendom should be made aware of how many people they turn away from Catholicism. There is a vicious Protestant Jansenist strian of Catholicism that runs there. Harvard professor, Jordon peterson describes ideology as a fragmented mythology which acts as a parasite on religion. Christendom's harping on authority is appealing because it is a part truth--but it breeds an ideology which is in no way representative of Christianity or Catholicism which is a far more ancient and broader reality.
You may enjoy listening to his lectures as they explained for me what was happening at Christendom. You can look for his podcast at www.jordonpeterson.com. He is secular non-catholic and an absolutely fascinating thinker.

I personally find that there is a sacred ancient reality in the church that transcends its worst manifestations but I can in no way judge you for feeling the way you do regarding this community. I share much of your frustration and anger. May you find healing and strength!

etteloc said...

I've read here on and off for a couple of years -- it must have been awhile, because I didn't realize you weren't identifying as Catholic anymore. (Or however you want to put it. I tend to call myself an apostate because it riles the feathers of people who's business it isn't.)

There are plenty of us out here and always have been. You're among friends.

Sheila said...

Anna, thanks for your kind comment. Personally, my problems with Catholicism go a lot deeper than the Christendom version. I mean, you can abandon Thomism and stay Catholic, but they do tend to expect you to believe in God, you know?

I think it would be great if certain Catholics weren't such enormous jerks. But I disagree a bit when I'm used as a poster child for that argument, because my problem isn't that I've been hurt by Catholics -- it's almost entirely intellectual. If it weren't for the actual teachings, I could put up with being hurt by the church for years to come; I feel most Catholics do.

Anonymous said...

Relating to the comment from Anna and Sheila's response:

I've struggled a bit to explain why I'm "apostate", and I think there's two very different ways to look at it, emotional and intellectual.

One way--the emotional way--is looking at how I became uncomfortable with certain Catholic attitudes, which motivated me to seriously try to "test" Catholicism to find out whether there is an objective moral obligation to follow it. Attitudes which are common at Christendom contributed to this discomfort in me, but they didn't originate it.

There is also an intellectual way to look at it: the set of beliefs I now hold as the result of trying to "test" Catholicism. Having developed a moral and epistemological standard to evaluate a claim of religious authority, I can't see any way to modify the attitudes of the religious people that would make the religious belief itself credible to me.

Regardless of the hot-button issues which are embedded in Christendom religious identities, I now reject four ideas or beliefs which seem to be core to Christianity:
1. Original sin
2. Inherited guilt
3. Retributive justice
4. Transference of guilt or retribution: Although I think "retributive justice" is not justice in the first place, if it were, then I reject the belief that it can be satisfied by someone else, whether by God or man.

I respect and admire many believers (Hi Anna!), and even many of the beliefs of the believers, when they believe in religion for personal or experiential reasons. Especially when they are confident enough in their own beliefs and relationship with God that they know their special relationship with God is not something they can create in others through argumentation or coercion. Maybe God reveals himself to some people but does not do so to me. It would be small-minded to demand everyone else to view the world only according to the knowledge I have discovered so far.

I think that Anna has a very important point that many people at Christendom cannot effectively communicate God's love, compassion, and universality with the attitudes they currently hold. These people don't realize the effects they are causing. (In this paragraph I set aside the argument about whether God exists and has these qualities.)

However, adding to Sheila's point, someone who traveled the painful intellectual journey of questioning all the assumptions will more strongly object to the official system itself, than to the attitudes of the people in it. I was taught by my parents, and long believed, that although people in the Church are fallen and sinful, the Church is infallible and the doctrines and moral rules are true. The people who use this argument about the church are, paradoxically, using the bad behavior of Christians to distract from the attempt to evaluate Christianity itself.

I now oppose (and resent) that claim of truth for the doctrines and rules. First, because they're not actually true. And supposing that didn't matter somehow, I oppose them secondarily because they seem to be powerful enablers for exclusion and coercion to people who tend towards exclusion and coercion.

Paul Tillotson

Hmm, sorry for the length. I think I need to get my own blog. :)

Sheila said...

Yes, very much everything you said! If you do get a blog, share the link with me so I can read it. Though you're welcome to put your content here as much as you like.

I guess the dilemma I have is that of course I want Catholicism to be less controlling and harmful. I want all the bad attitudes I've experienced, from "never criticize other Catholics even if they probably abused kids" all the way to "the only reason we don't burn heretics is because we don't have the power of the state, and that's a real shame" to be abandoned. And yet, without those attitudes, there would be less reason for anyone to be uncomfortable and start asking questions, and I think those questions *should* be asked.

Still, I think religion does have a big role in people's lives, and it would be better if there were more ways people could participate that aren't so harmful.

I too had a huge issue with retributive justice. I don't believe in it, but once I realized I didn't, a lot of Catholic doctrine stopped making sense. If there's no retributive justice, what exactly was the whole point of the crucifixion? You could come up with other reasons, but you'd have to ignore a lot of what the Church has said about it in the past 1000 years or so. And beyond that, what about purgatory? If purgatory is recast into a simple time of preparing the soul to see God ... indulgences would not be possible. You can pay someone else's debts; you can't change their attitudes for them.

I wrote about this here, if you haven't seen it. As an extra bonus, there were some good comments from readers as well. http://agiftuniverse.blogspot.com/2014/11/just-punishment.html

But yeah, every time someone posts an article about "why Millennials are leaving the Church" I get kind of annoyed. They only want to know so they can stop us from doing it. And since the presupposition is that this trend *can* be stopped, they wind up focusing on "they were so hurt by the Church!" and ignoring the actual reasons. Then, of course, tons of people point out that *they* were hurt by the Church too, but *they* stay Catholic because it isn't about your experience, it's about whether or not it's true. For some reason nobody seems to want to talk about the actual reasons.

Anna Hatke said...


So I think its cool that you want the truth. That I think is a goal that most people who care about anything share. There are different kinds of truth though---for example there are scientific truths. Which can be extremely useful for some things but not for others. For example--they don't tell me how to fix my marriage--or find love. But then their are truths that are true because they enable you to act and to transform reality with your actions. Those are in a sense true on a different plain. So a lot depends on what kind of truth you are aiming at.

I think the way that retributive justice is discussed is problematic in our highly rationalized modern way of thinking. Its almost like we have to re-learn the highly symbolic way of thinking that characterized the world from ancient times.. . . Mythic realities are found at the root of ALL major religions and philosophies and I'm fine with you claiming that you somehow have knowledge that they don't but that's a BIG claim to make and requires a vastly greater degree of certitude i would say than being a member of any of those religions does.
That being said I think that its helpful to understand that the Bible --along with all its references to retributive justice were written a very long time ago.--the language was mythical/archetypal and encompassed psychological realities. One could claim that heaven and hell exist even now on this earth. For a moment, go back in time and spend a day in Auschwitz or the Gulag--that's hell--its real. Hell is a reality. Likewise heaven. Listen to the Brandenburg concerto on balmy afternoon in a Roman Palladian Villa with a fine bordouex in your hand. Both of those are heaven and hell in a real way and we participate in those realities by our choices. Thats essentially the wisdom the Bible harps on. Of course the revelatory part is theoretically that those choices continue onward in some sort of reality that is greater than this one after our death where heaven and hell continue to exist as manifest realities. Yes of course this is a matter of faith. And you don;t have to believe that! Because you are a free person who gets to make choices about those sort of things---- But whats interesting is that it engages reality in a dynamic way EVEN IF ONE ACTS as if its true. Incredibly, our choices seem to create heaven and hell beginning now, on earth. . . . . So there are many ways of something being true but truth than enables you to act is of a different sort than scientific truth. And one could make a pragmatic argument for it being more true because it enables action in the world.
(And yes people who use retributive justice to manipulate people are the very worst sort of person---(see the aforementioned note about creating hell now--winkwink). But that doesn't make it something that doesn't exist. You can trash the natural world only so much and then its going to beat the crap on you. Nature is retributive-- and for the ancients God and Nature were much more one and the same thing then they are now. (sorry, I'm a Libra and love to talk about justice --winkwink)
Okay shutting up!

Peace,
Anna

Sheila said...

Oh lord, we are NOT arguing about astrology again! It is very hard for me not to be snarky about it.

The thing is, in real life, when retribution happens, it doesn't happen to the person who deserves it. That is, PepsiCo can trash nature, and a bunch of Brazilian villagers are the ones whose wells run dry. In our world bad actions have bad consequences (in fact, I would argue that this is why they are bad) but those consequences may or may not land on the head of the bad person. We tell our kids "life isn't always fair," but the reality is that life is almost never fair. So I don't know where people get the expectation that the afterlife will be any different. Because *we* feel it should be fair? Why center our own priorities? Because if my gut feelings can be used as evidence, *my* gut says there shouldn't be a hell.

And then of course there's the part where Jesus seemed to be radically against retributive justice. If someone slaps your cheek, you present the other. Why would God do differently than he asks us to do?

The third reason not to believe in retributive justice is that it serves no purpose. Punishments that are intended to encourage people to act differently are one thing, but after death no one can improve their behavior, so what's the point? Likewise, we engage in retribution to teach people that we aren't to be messed with (e.g. threatening nuclear counterattacks) but after death, there is no further harm we could do, so what's the point? And, of course, even these uses of retribution rarely serve the purpose they are intended to -- the person you punish often feels it was unjust and therefore they need to hurt you back, and so it goes.

So it just seems that a rational being who was good wouldn't want retributive justice. He'd be better than our vengeful selves. And he isn't constrained by some "well, that's just the way the universe is" thing, because he *made* the universe and can easily make it something else.

The stuff about mythic realities and other kinds of truth sounds like an answer, but when you're attempting to rely on it .... it lacks any reason to be confident in it. When I guide my behavior with reason and evidence, things tend to work out pretty well; I'm acting in accordance with reality and the consequences for that are mostly predictable. Reason and evidence guiding human behavior have resulted in all the advances in science and technology we've ever had. "Mythic realities," on the other hand, have led humanity far astray. People immolated their children by fire for mythic realities. It's one thing to come up with symbolic language to talk about how to fix your relationships ... for instance "boundaries" don't mean I throw up fences between me and my friends, but that I love them in a way that respects their agency. But to have something which, on the one hand, can't be demonstrated in any way, and on the other, we are supposed to treat as a sure guide to our actions .... seems a misuse of the whole idea. If you want to act in reality, you need to have access to literal truth, and the way we've found which best directs us to literal truth is evidence. Without evidence, you may have something very poetic, but that's no reason for me to actually make decisions based on it.

Belfry Bat said...

I'm counting at least four different things you seem to be calling "Retribution".

There are:
the immediate and naturally-foreseeable effects of our actions (agressively tapping aquifers dries up many wells.)
the far-removed natural effects of our actions (our neighbours die; the people causing it make themselves blind and stupid)
the organized threat of force (nuclear MAD)
the final Judgment

The first of these isn't Retributive Justice as such, but rather what Freedom and Responsibility are both made of: our actions in the world have Forseeable Outcomes. Those outcomes are, as you rightly say, a good part of what goes into whether the acts themselves are good or bad.

The second, because the world is complex, can be harder to foresee; but it is getting closer to a kind of Just Retribution in the Natural Order.

The third... you know, there are lesser threats of force available to consider, like the Police. I don't know how one expects to run a society with laws without Some Police; it's a Dominated Strategy, in that it only works as long as absolutely everyone agrees to it. There's more to say about MAD in particular, later.

In the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus counsels us active patience, he's not counseling Justice at all (harmony between neighbours) but being stronger and making another's discord louder! He doesn't say that it would be wrong to defend yourself (still less, wrong to defend someone weaker), but that there are Worse Punishments, even in this world, than strictly equal retribution! Each act counseled in the Sermon is calculated to embarass the oppressor! "Turn the other cheek", because a slap on the cheek isn't merely painful, but a rebuke out of pride meant to sting and humiliate; but if you can stand straight and keep your cool, the second strike won't be a slap anymore, but a punch: an escallation completely unprovoked.

After MAD, you repeat a ... a conviction you've often expressed before, which I still don't believe you've really thought through: that He could "easily" make This Universe Something else according to your particular gut feelings of what is and isn't fair (this, not long after declaring "I don't know where people get the expectation that the afterlife will be any different"). The trouble with this conviction of yours is: the Substance of our Responsibility is (as you've already implied) the fact that our actions have predictable consequences, together with the fact that we are Free to choose this or that, to do or to abstain; your particular gut feelings would seem to need removing either Responsibility (outcomes are not predictable, or they are only ever good no matter our intention) or Freedom ("no-one can think or wish wrongly").

And lastly, about hell. I don't like hell. Nobody is supposed to like it. It certainly refers to something Possible, but that doesn't mean it was part of God's Plan. I'm not sure it's even correct to say that Hell is a work of God's. It seems more a work of rebellion; like the World Wars and modern genocides, like MAD, I believe Hell is the work of devils and men. Jacob Marley links his own chains, people freely choose to be possessed by Bad Ideas and make a Hell for themselves. And the final Hell is to make oneself an Enemy of God, of Goodness, and be unable to escape Him.

"What's the point"? The point is we can tell now whether we are lovers or enemies of Goodness; the point is we can decide now to bear our own pains either with patience or with resentment (and teach our children by our example). We can't presume of ourselves that having decided once we'll remain firm in that decision (so: rely on all the outside help we can get!); but we can decide now, and again tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow...

Paul Tillotson said...

Belfry Bat has a good point which is that we may not all be using the same definition of "retributive justice."

When I first brought it up, I was intending this definition: I meant a punishment which a personal actor (God, man, government) imposes on a moral actor (a person) as a response to that person's bad moral choices, where the punishment is in addition to the natural consequences of the actions, and above and beyond any force that is required to prevent the bad moral actor from doing more harm to others.

This definition would exclude what Anna said about nature being retributive because by definition anything that happens through the laws of the natural world is not "retributive." I already agree with Anna that nature works this way, but this isn't the thing I was intending to call out as being immoral.

If you ask me "Should God punish people with retributive justice?" this is a question of right and wrong, not something we can learn from facts. There's no empirical or historical evidence that can be advanced for or against it because it's a statement about what should be, rather than what actually is.

Given a question of fundamental morality like this, there are two possible positions:

Group 1: We can directly know what is good, at least the most fundamental things in a basic way. Good is objective and it cannot be changed even by an omnipotent God.

Group 2: Inverting #1, we cannot directly know what is good. This means we can only know indirectly, such as from an authority, or perhaps the very idea of good is arbitrary because God can make it be whatever he wants to. We cannot call anything good or bad without having an authority which teaches which things are which.

I'm squarely in group #1, and I think I can know that retributive justice is bad, and therefore, to me, if any religion teaches retributive justice, this is direct evidence against the religion being true, full stop.

To give an example from "the other side", we all believe that indigenous religions in the Americas which practiced human sacrifice, such as the Aztec, are obviously false religions because of the badness of the human sacrifice. We did not need Christianity to tell us that human sacrifice is wrong in order to be able to see that Aztec religions are false. If I met a real life Aztec practicing his religion, I'm not going to try to seriously evaluate his religion.

So, coming back to the retributive justice and Christianity, I think I can know that retributive justice (strictly the definition I gave above) is wrong, just as I can know that human sacrifice is wrong, so I reject any religion that says that God acts according to retributive justice.

Anna seemed to make an argument that we should show deference to the morality and philosophy of ancient civilizations. Maybe, but we really have to pick and choose which ancient religion's moral principles we will accept. Otherwise, why do we reject Aztec religions out of hand? Do we do so out of pride or because we were able to evaluate their religion and prove intellectually that it's not actually divinely inspired?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sheila, I know of you from Christendom - we were there at the same time but not in the same class. I have read your blog for a long time after a mutual friend shared a post from it years ago (I believe it was your story about LC, which I was somewhat involved in in my youth and always had a weird vibe about and felt so pressured by them, so you sharing your experience made me revisit some of my past and realize my intuition was NOT wrong, but that’s another story). I think there is probably a lot we don’t agree on but I have always appreciated your honesty and how well you write and express yourself, and truly I’m just tired of reading blogs that are full of the same tired arguments about politics, morality, etc, on either “side”. I have always found your views really refreshing because you seem to really THINK about topics and not just parrot what others say, and your posts have made me rethink the way I approach certain topics.

I’m sorry you’ve been forced “out of the closet.” That was really unjust. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve appreciated your writing over the years, and sorry for being one of those silent blog readers who never comments!

Anna Hatke said...

Paul and Sheila,

Thank you for all your thoughts!

Sheila, I would love to know what you mean by literal truth. Do you mean scientifically provable truth? Or do you mean something else?
Second I want to clarify that. I conceive of Hell less as a punishment given because you were bad and more as the punishment you create with your badness or even apathetic lukewarmness. There were many people who felt intense guilt after Nazi Germany because they looked the other way and did nothing.

Paul,
I would define retributive justice as the reality that the moral actor, acting in freedom engenders and must be suffered/ or enjoyed depending on their choice. Its part of the nature of reality--you can call it God, or natural law, or the universe, but its basically the same thing. I think that when you make bad choices in this life people get hurt. sometimes its good people-- that's the price of freedom or, if you want, self-awareness/rationality. In my personal worldview God has made us vastly more powerful than either rationalists or American Christianity normally acknowledge. We bear the burden of existence on an incomparably different level than the animal world. We can create Auschwitz and we can perform Shakespearean theater! We can participate in a partial way in the realities of heaven and hell now and since we operate with freedom, it seems to me like the consequences of our actions are the price for our freedom. That is retributive justice. Thats the reason the church talks about sins of omission. Its probably the brave things we don't do every day that make hell--right now, in our own world.

As far as picking and choosing. I would say that Aztec human sacrifice was more of an ideology per se than a religion. Religion--gives men an ordered mythology in which to express reality and act in keeping with an aim that lifts them up and helps them attempt to be better than they would be wallowing in their own existence. Ideologies are fragmented mythologies that instead offer overly simplistic or comforting (but pricey) solutions often to social change and that usually require little or nothing of the freedom of the individual. .and that's why they are so alluring. As long as its not you being sacrificed on the alter (or deported to a concentration camp) its easier to just look the other way. The Aztec human sacrifice craze was most likely an ideology that had possessed that specific culture or religion at that time-- much as is happening right now with such movements as the ALT-right White Supremacists on the right or the identity politics people on the left. But would I argue that because of these movements that all modern politics is thus illegitimate hogwash and we should embrace anarchy---because these extreme ideologies exist? Of course not!
--ideology has always existed. . . It happened in Nazi germany in the 1940s. It happened in Salem with the Witch trials. The Spanish inquisition would be another example. It so easy to use all these examples and make religion the "big bad guy" --i have read Steven Pinker. . . . but the problem is religious people also do a tremendous amount of good often for religious reasons--and ideologies can also exist apart from religion such as in Nazi Germany--so the argument falls flat. Most modern psychologists would agree that there are people that have ideas and then there are ideas that have people. Thats a real observable pattern of behavior psychologist talk about. If that's what Sheila means by literal truth--there it is.

As a side note I have read some lovely Aztec myths--such as the story of the gods giving the gift of corn to the humanity that are quite lovely!
And I do enjoy astrology--(not the modern newspaper version) but I i totally understand it makes people uncomfortable or annoyed. I promise not to bring it up again, Sheila.

Peace,

Anna



Paul Tillotson said...

I'm going to try writing shorter and more focused posts...

Anna, you mentioned the beautiful Aztec myths. In fact, I don't object to something like that. I study other religions (Islam has some very beautiful traditions), mythologies (I especially like Egyptian mythology and Norse mythology), and cultures (especially the culture of India and Pakistan) as my time and circumstances allow. They have value, in fact, they have more value than most modern Americans realize.

I agree with you that many modern people are trying to do too much of a "clean slate" wipe and construct everything using reason. It's great for science, but probably not nearly so great for politics, especially since rational politics don't attract that many voters in a democracy. I wish we had deeper roots into the past, and more people could understand that human nature doesn't change in a day.

BUT, there is a big difference between valuing something, and setting something above your own moral judgment.

This could be informally thought of as the difference between a mentor and an authority.

(Incidentally being a parent changed me due to my awkward attempts to be an authority. I realized that as my children approached maturity, being a good mentor was the best I could hope for. Before I was a parent I had an idea that you could just make people do good using rewards and punishments.)

Paul Tillotson said...

Regarding astrology:

At least for me personally, I don't mind if someone mentions it or uses it in their life. Just like Catholic authority, I don't believe it either.

And by "don't believe them" I merely mean that I don't accept anything *on faith* from them.

The critical difference between astrology and Catholicism is that there's no social expectation among my peers that I would treat astrology as true and having authority over my life.

But unfortunately, a lot of my peers have exactly this belief about Catholicism.

Sheila said...

Oh, I'm not trying to *ban* any conversation about astrology here. We just have discussed it before so I'm not going to argue about it today. Basically I think it's bunk, but other commenters here believe in it and I don't like to be disrespectful.

Bat, I agree that all these uses of "retribution" are different. In fact in my post about retribution which I linked above, I gave them different names (consequences, discipline, and punishment, I think). So when Anna says divine retribution must be a thing, because consequences exist, she's talking about two different things. That's not proof of anything.

When Bat says i'm saying that God could create the world differently, and Anna says I could just say the universe instead of God, I'm sensing a distinction made between the laws of the universe and the lawgiver. So I think y'all have to clarify here: do the laws of the universe come from anywhere *other* than God? Does God choose whether all sin must be punished, or was that somehow decided for him? Because if it's the latter, I would like to know who decided it. It doesn't seem rationally required. Like the gravitational constant -- it could have been some other number, and that's one of the arguments for God -- that since it's arbitrary and not determined, it must have been decided by someone. Unless we have a clear sense of who's responsible for this "all sins must be punished" rule, we're not going to have a fruitful conversation.

I definitely agree with Paul here that we have to make up our minds whether gut feelings are admissible evidence or not. If I am not allowed to enter mine, which say this is all unjust, then nobody else is allowed to enter theirs, when they "feel" God is real or they "feel" it would be unfair for hell not to exist. Because either we have a reliable internal sense in these matters, or we don't. (I tend to think it's somewhat but not entirely reliable, and so we should back up our gut feelings with facts whenever possible.)

Another thing I feel people should come down clearly on one side or the other of: is hell a place of natural, self-chosen consequences (i.e. the only suffering we experience is that we choose for ourselves -- separation from God) or are there additional sufferings superadded beyond that? I've heard very convincing arguments that the Church's teaching is the latter, but feel free to argue otherwise. Because this really affects the kind of discussion that we can have here. We're discussing very different visions of hell depending on this detail.

Paul Tillotson said...

Anna:

We've been discussing a few specific points here obviously, but the retributive justice is just one issue of many.

I don't know if you feel comfortable talking about it on the internet with your own name attached, but I have a sincere question for you:

Given that you do accept Catholicism, do you have a method to tell apart the official parts from the unofficial parts, and how to tell which parts are required and which are optional?

Aside: If discussion in a public forum is too much, you can always tell over a glass of wine sometime when I am visiting you. :)

Part of the issue that I have is that many people I know try to define the official required parts very widely, which causes them to scoop up many things that I'm sure are wrong. I've tried a little bit to figure out whether it's possible to have a more flexible Catholicism, but I couldn't find a method of doing this that felt right to me.

For example, I tried to ask someone who is smarter than me "How do you tell whether a particular issue is a matter of faith or morals?"

After some discussion, he replied "If the Pope or the church uses the form of infallibility or defines it to be so, then it is."

What this person was essentially saying is "We cannot use our own judgment about what is a matter of faith or morals, so every statement from the pope or the magisterium which meets the other conditions for infallibility must be taken as infallible."

So, for example, if the Pope in the future says "As Pope, I solemnly define that recycling is a duty of all Catholics." then the person will have no standing to say that recycling is not a matter of faith and morals.

Applying this policy, he would just say, "Up til now we did not know that recycling is a matter of faith or morals, but now that the pope has spoken, we know that this is a matter of faith and morals." And so it would go for any other pronouncement made by the Pope, as long as it doesn't contract anything that's already official church teaching.

The point is that no one actually has a way to interpret what is "faith and morals" outside of what the Catholic authority teaches us, so at this point, the infallibility of the Pope doesn't actually have the limit on it that most people think it does relating to "only matters of faith or morals."

---------------

So restating my question, if you feel comfortable answering it here:

Do you have a method to tell apart the official parts of Catholicism from the unofficial parts, and how to tell which parts are required and which are optional?

Sheila said...

Anna, I think Paul has a very good point about the Aztecs. Of course you, from the perspective of not being an Aztec, can easily see how wrong their religion is. You can even claim it's not a religion at all! (I don't think it matters one way or another; I think a religion is an ideology that includes supernatural beliefs, but otherwise they operate quite similarly.) But if you *were* an Aztec, what means would you use to discover that your beliefs were wrong? Would you use reason and evidence, or would you use your gut and conscience? Both? My real question is, would the methods you're currently using to assess the reliability of your Catholic faith work at all to assess the reliablity of a faith that was both wrong and immoral?

What I mean by "literally" true is just, not symbolic. So for instance there are a lot of people who say "I believe the earth was created just as it says in Genesis," but when you dig into it, it turns out they do think life evolved ... they just also have a sort of poetic image of God creatig the earth in six days, which they find inspiring and useful. Or there are people who believe that Jesus rose from the dead in a symbolic way, that is, that he is alive now in heaven and that's all that was meant by the resurrection. But this isn't exactly actionable, or it shouldn't be. We should act based on the things we think are true, not the things we think are beautiful and inspiring but didn't actually happen.

So Paul is saying that he finds many myths beautiful and valuable, but that's different from saying they are true. So when you talk about myth and its usefulness, that's all great but I kind of want to talk about things that are believed in a more literal way. You're talking about things that are "true on a different plain" and I would like to know what you mean by that. For instance, you can say "hell is Auschwitz, heaven is the Brandenberg Concerto," but I understand that to be a metaphor ... you don't think that when we die, we get sent to the great concert hall in the sky to literally listen to Beethoven. You think we have some of the same feelings that we would feel while listening to Beethoven. It's important to be clear about which beliefs are believed literally, because if you just mean, "I think the story of Jesus is very inspiring," we would totally agree and have nothing to discuss. But if you mean, "I am sure enough that Jesus established the Church that I will follow all its moral judgments, even those which I would otherwise disagree with, and obey the hierarchy even when certain individuals are people I wouldn't otherwise trust," that's something that's more actionable and I would disagree. For the latter, I feel like you need evidence and not simply a feeling of being inspired. But others here have said differently; that they feel *called* to the Church and that's sufficient for them. What do you think?

Sheila said...

Oh and Anon, thanks for speaking up. It's very heartening. :)

Anna Hatke said...

Sheila,
If would need to research the beliefs of the Aztecs better to know how I would feel about being an Aztec. I simply don't know enough about hem to tell you at this juncture. I still hold the distinction between religion and ideology holds since you can find examples of ideologies that are not religious at all in nature such as Nazism and AntiIFa and KuKluxKlan. The difference between religion and ideology is that in ideology the goal inherent to it is the thing itself. The goal of communism is communism. The goal of Nazism is Nazism. The goal of Christianityy is not itself. The goal of Bhuddism is not Bhuddism. This is why also "traditionalists" within the church could be seen as ideology parasitically attached to religion--much like LGBTQ could be seen as an ideology the has attached itself to the Democratic Party--which is a valuable political party with many valuable goals that are more than simply "more Democrats"
By true on a different plain I would mean that its true for action and communication ---I would use as an example things that are very real but not literal. For example I could tell you "you are not living up to your potential" or, you could say that to me. Whichever one of us is on the receiving end would feel either outraged or mortified. We both would understand what is meant by "a person's potential.. But a person's "potential" does not exist in any literal way. Its a metaphorical reality that is no less real for being so. And what is more, positing that literal reality is more true than metaphorical reality would actually prohibit our ability to communicate.
Secondly, Hell as Aushwitz is not a metaphor. Particularly if you are experiencing it.

Thirdly, I belive in the faith both literally and metaphorically but I don't view one of those as trumping the other or in competition either.

Paul . You hit the nail on the head. I actually have not had a discussion like this online for over ten years and have for the first time in that ten years broken my radio silence online regarding sex, politics, or religion which i firmly believe are topic best discussed over wine in person--in order that the one does not risk depersonalized the opponent in friendly debate. I did so in the the spirit of knowing roughly your background and to a certain degree though lesser so, sheila's relatively well, and felt moved to comment. That being said I think I would love to discuss anything further with you over a glass of wine. Sheila, I know you hardly at all and I will simply say that I both find the story of Christ BOTh inspiring and true. I find sufficient evidence for Christianity in my own experience, my broad reading on the subject and the continuity of the human experience. I find that authority in the church if you actually read the Gospels is established as an act of servitude.. I fully acknowledge that there are flawed and sinful persons who misuse and corrupt the message of the Gospel, often within the hierarchy of the church but I feel like this obsession with the authority of the church is
the symptom of the general misunderstanding of the nature of authority in modern society. WE have so many rules of nature our society ignores and tries to break--usually to the detriment of our health, the earth, our communities. I fail to see how the spiritual order would differ.

David Jones, one of my favorite poets posited that technology divorces us from "signus" the ability to understand and communicate in symbolic language about reality. I think that that has really happened and as a consequence a malaise of rationalism has gripped our intellectual circles.

Anna Hatke said...

Sheila,
If would need to research the beliefs of the Aztecs better to know how I would feel about being an Aztec. I simply don't know enough about hem to tell you at this juncture. I still hold the distinction between religion and ideology holds since you can find examples of ideologies that are not religious at all in nature such as Nazism and AntiIFa and KuKluxKlan. The difference between religion and ideology is that in ideology the goal inherent to it is the thing itself. The goal of communism is communism. The goal of Nazism is Nazism. The goal of Christianityy is not itself. The goal of Bhuddism is not Bhuddism. This is why also "traditionalists" within the church could be seen as ideology parasitically attached to religion--much like LGBTQ could be seen as an ideology the has attached itself to the Democratic Party--which is a valuable political party with many valuable goals that are more than simply "more Democrats"
By true on a different plain I would mean that its true for action and communication ---I would use as an example things that are very real but not literal. For example I could tell you "you are not living up to your potential" or, you could say that to me. Whichever one of us is on the receiving end would feel either outraged or mortified. We both would understand what is meant by "a person's potential.. But a person's "potential" does not exist in any literal way. Its a metaphorical reality that is no less real for being so. And what is more, positing that literal reality is more true than metaphorical reality would actually prohibit our ability to communicate.
Secondly, Hell as Aushwitz is not a metaphor. Particularly if you are experiencing it.

Thirdly, I belive in the faith both literally and metaphorically but I don't view one of those as trumping the other or in competition either.

(to be continued)

Anna Hatke said...

(continued)

Paul . You hit the nail on the head. I actually have not had a discussion like this online for over ten years and have for the first time in that ten years broken my radio silence online regarding sex, politics, or religion which i firmly believe are topic best discussed over wine in person--in order that the one does not risk depersonalized the opponent in friendly debate. I did so in the the spirit of knowing roughly your background and to a certain degree though lesser so, sheila's relatively well, and felt moved to comment. That being said I think I would love to discuss anything further with you over a glass of wine. Sheila, I know you hardly at all and I will simply say that I both find the story of Christ BOTh inspiring and true. I find sufficient evidence for Christianity in my own experience, my broad reading on the subject and the continuity of the human experience. I find that authority in the church if you actually read the Gospels is established as an act of servitude.. I fully acknowledge that there are flawed and sinful persons who misuse and corrupt the message of the Gospel, often within the hierarchy of the church but I feel like this obsession with the authority of the church is
the symptom of the general misunderstanding of the nature of authority in modern society. WE have so many rules of nature our society ignores and tries to break--usually to the detriment of our health, the earth, our communities. I fail to see how the spiritual order would differ.

David Jones, one of my favorite poets posited that technology divorces us from "signus" the ability to understand and communicate in symbolic language about reality. I think that that has really happened and as a consequence a malaise of rationalism has gripped our intellectual circles.
I repeat that I HIGHLY recommend listening to Dr. Jordon Peterson's podcast. His biblical lectures are particularly fascinating and he his credentials are impressive given he is a former Harvard university professor, and currently at University of Toronto. His understanding of the insufficiencies of the rationalist argument are compelling especially given his background as an evolutionary scientist. Google his website and listen to his podcast. Start at the beginning.
And with that I will leave any further discussion to wine-- or coffee at Happy creek. . . . . the discussion will be even better if you listen to Dr. Peterson first. I can be reached at annamariahatke@gmail.com and we can arrange to meet up at Happy Creek coffee or my house depending on schedules. .

And so happy discussion of Astrology is not banned. If any of us meet in person we will have to discuss rising signs. ;)

peace to you both,
Anna

Anna Hatke said...

Sheila,

I seem to be having trouble posting comments to hopefully this goes through.

I will try and answer all your questions to the best of my ability.

As to your question about being an Aztec, I would need to research the beliefs of the Aztecs better to know how I would feel about being an Aztec. I simply don't know enough about hem to tell you at this juncture.

I still hold the distinction between religion and ideology holds since you can find examples of ideologies that are not religious at all in nature such as Nazism and AntiFa and KuKluxKlan. The difference between religion and ideology I would argue is that in ideology the goal inherent to it is the thing itself. e.g.The goal of communism is communism. The goal of Nazism is Nazism. Whereas with religion there is a further aim of salvation—or enlightenment. The goal of Christianity is not itself. The goal of Bhudism is not Bhudism.

By true on a different plain I mean true for action and communication —There are many things that exist and are real but not literal. For example I could tell you "you are not living up to your potential" or, you could say that to me. Whichever one of us is on the receiving end would feel either outraged or mortified. We both would understand what is meant by "a person's potential.. But a person's "potential" does not exist in any literal way. Its a metaphorical reality that is no less real for being so. What is more, positing that literal reality is more true than metaphorical reality would actually prohibit our ability to communicate.

Hell as Aushwitz is not a metaphor. Particularly if you are experiencing it.

I believe in the faith both literally and metaphorically but I don't view one of those as trumping the other or in competition either.

Anna Hatke said...

Paul, You hit the nail on the head. I actually have not had a discussion like this online for quite a while and have for the first time in about ten years broken my radio silence online regarding sex, politics, or religion( which i firmly believe are topic best discussed over wine in person--in order that the one does not risk depersonalized the opponent in friendly debate. )I did so in the the spirit of knowing roughly your background and to a certain degree though lesser so, Sheila's relatively well, and felt moved to comment.

That being said I think I would love to discuss anything further with you over a glass of wine. Sheila, I know you hardly at all and I will simply say that I both find the story of Christ BOTh inspiring and true. I find sufficient evidence for Christianity in my own experience, my broad reading on the subject and the continuity of the human experience. I find that authority in the church if you actually read the Gospels is established as an act of servitude.. I fully acknowledge that there are flawed and sinful persons who misuse and corrupt the message of the Gospel, often within the hierarchy of the church but I feel like this obsession with finger pointing at the authority of the church is
the symptom of the general misunderstanding of the nature of authority in modern society.

David Jones, one of my favorite poets posited that technology divorces us from "signus" the ability to understand and communicate in symbolic language about reality. I think that that has really happened and as a consequence a malaise of rationalism has gripped our intellectual circles. A firm desire for only literal truth only puts one under a different and potentially totalitarian form of authority. Science is an incredible tool but makes a poor master. It has no desire to be an authority as it does not seek to prove anything —only posit to the best of its ability. If you desire literal truth-i suggest Math as a far better field of study and authority as it has proofs.
I repeat that I HIGHLY recommend listening to Dr. Jordon Peterson's podcast. His biblical lectures are particularly fascinating and he his credentials are impressive given he is a former Harvard university professor, and currently at University of Toronto. His understanding of the insufficiencies of the rationalist argument are compelling especially given his background as an evolutionary scientist. Google his website and listen to his podcast. Start at the beginning.
And with that I will leave any further discussion to wine-- or coffee at Happy creek. . . . . the discussion will be even better if you listen to Dr. Peterson first. I can be reached at annamariahatke@gmail.com and we can arrange to meet up at Happy Creek coffee or here depending on schedules. .

And so happy discussion of Astrology is not banned. If any of us meet in person we will have to discuss rising signs. ;)

My apologies Sheila if you get these comments twice. I just couldn’t tell if the comment box was working on my computer. Feel free to post the later one as I feel like I edited it to be more clear. Ha!

peace to you both,
Anna

Sheila said...

My apologies, Anna, that your comments didn't go through at first. All posts over a month old have comments automatically moderated. So feel free to keep posting, but they don't appear till I log in and check the boxes.

Actually responding your comments will take a bit longer, stand by!

Sheila said...

On second thought, I'm not sure you're really looking for an answer. I'm open to that coffee date ... someday, lol. I'm probably not going to listen to Jordan Peterson though. I'm one of those people who sees that somebody is a fad right now and resolves not to pay any attention to him till he's left the spotlight.

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