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View Diary: "No True Scotsman" and Jesus: UPDATE (89 comments)

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  •  I'm not a Christian (2+ / 0-)
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    Loge, Wee Mama

    I'm not even religious, but I would suggest that when you have a group that encompasses roughly 2 billion people, it's probably going to be legit if a member of that group says they shouldn't have to answer for the most extreme members of that group.

    Seems to me in a group that large, you are going to have a few folks who say/do/believe some crazy things.

    I'd also say there is not a "worldly institution" doing the things you are saying. Christianity has more cracks in it then a dried up lake. I can't count how many sects it has.

    Even Catholicism has a wide range of beliefs and positions (e.g. American Catholics are much more liberal than Catholics in many other countries both theologically and politically).

    •  As I've argued elsewhere on DK, that's (6+ / 0-)

      a variant of the "white reaction" syndrome.  It works like this.  Black person X talks about problems of racism in the white community.  White male responds "we're not all like that!" and tries to make the discussion about him rather than racism.  This is a way of derailing addressing the problem and exactly the same thing happens among Christians.  If you're not a part of the problem then you shouldn't see yourself as being painted by this brush.  Rather, you should be like the white person that sides against racism without qualification, the male that sides against sexism without qualification, the heterosexual that sides against homophobia without qualification.  You are not the target until you make this sort of argument and thereby make it more difficult to fight these things.  It's not about you.

      •  that's having your cake and eating it to (2+ / 0-)
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        Nowhere Man, HeyMikey

        it's fine to say one isn't the target until one makes it about oneself, but that absolves you from the responsibility of being precise with your language.  If you don't want to talk about all but a subset of Christians, then identify the ones you have a problem with, or the particular belief structures you object to, by name.  Don't say "Christians," or even "white people" and act surprised if people don't take it the way you want.  Your position is that if you take a stand against racism or homophobia, you should have a free pass to say it however recklessly you want to.  This particular comment seems to suggest that insisting on greater clarity is somehow minimizing the problems, when it's instead proposing a more constructive way to engage with members of those particular groups.  I find it interesting that you can say it's not about "you," when your argument is structured so that any tactical disagreement is somehow indicative of lesser morality and delegitimized.

        The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

        by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:07:30 AM PDT

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        •  Loge, what you're advocating (5+ / 0-)
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          BPARTR, stormicats, blueoasis, pot, KathleenM1

          is no different than the white male responding to the feminist and getting all worked up and saying "but not all men are like that!"  The feminist knows this, but is trying to respond to the problem that is there.  That man just derails the discussion making it harder to fight sexism.  You're doing the same here with religion.  You'll show the true nature of your religion not by making the discussion about you, but by actually fighting beside the marginalized and oppressed to overturn these injustices.

          •  thank you for the words in my mouth, (2+ / 0-)
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            Nowhere Man, HeyMikey

            it's interesting that you would do so exactly after I explained that's what you're doing.  

            Your example conspicuously leaves out what it is the feminist says, just what she knows.  In these discussions, the person playing the role of the feminist says things like "Catholics are sexist," blah blah blah.  Who's derailed the discussion then?  If the "all men aren't like that" is called for by the comment, the discussion is already on the wrong foot.  If not, then you're making a strawman.  

            I don't have a religion, fwiw.  But I think telling people that they can't defend frontal attacks on theirs has already derailed the discussion from social justice to the religion itself.  If you want to make the case that it's a necessary step, then you wouldn't be alone.  However, you don't then get to say that it's tangential.

            The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

            by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:23:46 AM PDT

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            •  There isn't real sexism in (1+ / 0-)
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              pot

              the Catholic church?  I'm not putting words in your mouth but discussing how such rejoinders functionally derail fights against oppression.  All of this has been explained repeatedly in diaries discussing sexism and racism here at dailykos.  The same points apply in the religious discussions.

              •  there is, (1+ / 0-)
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                HeyMikey

                what's your point.  I don't think bolding words makes the case better.  Do you have any new allies in the Catholic church for your troubles?  Or have you actually reinforced their false oppression narrative.  Speaking of "functional" effects.  

                The NTS argument is not the only way, or even the most common way, to point out that you simply have no idea how one can or should engage with religious people on matters of common concern.  

                The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

                by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:16:41 AM PDT

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                •  I have admiration for (1+ / 0-)
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                  blueoasis

                  many Catholics and admire the work their doing.  Anyone with half a brain knows that when a feminist denounces sexism in the catholic church she's targeting the institution, not all Catholics.  Many Catholics will agree with her.  For example, my grandmother.  Getting bent out of shape about the statement "Catholicism is sexist" is an infantile response to a criticism whose target should be obvious.

                  •  As Emperor Claudius once said, (1+ / 0-)
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                    HeyMikey

                    it's the quality not the quantity of brains that count.  And a few people with half-wits still intact can discern that a lot of people on the left do not discuss religion in a particularly constructive or engaging or inviting way.  So, it's ambiguous whether one is only referring to sexist aspects or the whole shebang by a statement that is, itself infantile like Catholicism is sexist.  (Who knows, is the following statement going to be, "and you're sexist unless you quit?")  What's more, while there are many Catholics who believe this, you still need to get to 50% plus 1 to win an election.  

                    If you are as concerned about derailing discussion as you claim to be, why not limit the discussion to "sexism is sexist," and recognize that when people point out that forces within the Catholic or any other church that are against sexism are as legitimate if not more so than contrary forces -- even if in response to you -- they're doing a favor to the issues and people you purport to care about.

                    The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

                    by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:37:26 AM PDT

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          •  put another way, (0+ / 0-)

            please explain why "without qualification" excludes defending the particulars of one's own faith.  "Not all Christians are X" is not a statement that qualifies opposition to sexism unless you want it to be, which is a particularly mendacious strawman.  It can either be relevant or irrelevant to the discussion, and if it's irrelevant to the discussion, it would be fine to question motive.  That is, religion doesn't much belong in a discussion of contraception access, no matter what Timothy Cardinal Dolan says.  But it's very likely going to be relevant to a discussion of Rick Warren, himself, and insisting otherwise essentially says there's not only one permissible view of the man but only one permissible way to discuss him.  That's putting words in other people's mouths.  What's more, that being right on issues of gay rights and so forth somehow immunizes statements that are on their face attacks on other people's religious faith, even where there's not a personal conflict between faith and liberal moral conviction.  

            The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

            by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:43:26 AM PDT

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            •  Because it changes the subject (0+ / 0-)

              from fighting that sexism therefore reinforcing that sexism and giving it cover.

              •  i understand what point you want to make, (0+ / 0-)

                but there's a leap there that doesn't work.  changing the subject from fighting sexism is not actually giving cover to sexism in all cases -- it matters why, and in the example given, it's not really changing the subject if you're the one introducing religion in the first place.  You could make the case that considering the launching point was a discussion of Rick Warren's politics, you're doing the derailing.

                The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

                by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:13:03 AM PDT

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          •  so what you are advocating is (2+ / 0-)
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            Loge, HeyMikey

            that folks, like feminists or those upset with religion, have no obligation to be precise with their language and thus should be able to paint with a broad brush, because those getting the paint on them unfairly, should just know that they don't really mean all Christians, or all men.

            •  I think, by and large, that (2+ / 0-)
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              stormicats, gnbhull

              we are precise in our language and that a lot of emotion enters the picture from your side.  Additionally, we give leeway to oppressed minorities in these cases because we recognize that they have been truly wronged.  What I'm advocating is that you do the Christ-like thing and side with the oppressed group and make common struggle with them.  Rather than trying to correct their mistaken generalizations about Christians you instead simply say you're a Christian, making common cause with the oppressed in their struggle, and show them not all Christians are lime that?  Wouldn't that be closer to your own ethical philosophy and more constructive?

              •  from my side? (4+ / 0-)
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                Loge, bevenro, Wee Mama, HeyMikey

                I'm agnostic. I don't have a "side." I find theists and atheists two sides of the same coin.

                I don't have to do the "Christ-like thing" because I'm not a follower of his, although all-in-all, he seemed to have a few good ideas for his time, just like Buddha, and Confuscious.

                So, you're entire post proved my point. You assumed I was a Christian, even though my first post said I wasn't religious at all, and you then proceded from that to lecture me about how I should act as the Christian that I am not.

                I think you made my point dead-on, without realizing it.

      •  Your comparison doesn't work... (3+ / 0-)
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        Loge, Nowhere Man, Wee Mama

        ...because we see posts from people who are critical of Christianity go well beyond what we see from people of color who are critical of the white community.

        If a person of color were to write "all white people do or believe XXXXX" or "by not renouncing their whiteness, all white people are complicit in the racism of any white person"—or a woman were to write "all men do or believe XXXXX" or "by continuing to identify as male, all men are complicit in all acts of sexism"— that post would run up against significant criticism from virtually all parts of the spectrum, and rightly so.

        And yet such things are often written about Christians here—where non-Christians try to tell us liberal Christians what we really believe (as if we're unqualified to know) or tell us that simply by continuing to identify as Christian (or even theist), we are enabling the abusiveness of the Christian Right.

        To wit, while I don't disagree that there are at times some overreactions from Christians on this site, there exist plenty of posts here that really do say that all Christians believe XXXXX or do XXXXX or are complicit in the abuse of the Christian Right.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:20:20 AM PDT

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        •  I think you're projecting (2+ / 0-)
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          pot, gnbhull

          on what's actually said in those discussions.  And incidentally, in the racism, homophobia, and sexism diaries we do get the same phenomena of people interjecting "but not all x are like that."  this isn't Rome, you aren't being thrown to lions anymore, you dominate the Western world.  Just try to keep on the real issues.  You'll earn far more sympathy for progressive Christianity if you cease trying to make it about you.

          •  I don't think I'm projecting at all. (4+ / 0-)
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            JosephK74, Loge, Wee Mama, HeyMikey

            Look even through this thread, and you see non-Christians trying to tell Christians what we all believe or we all think—not saying "some" Christians believe that, but defining us by it, regardless of whether or not we choose their definition for ourselves.

            Look through the Easter message thread, where we had one person going to the mat trying to suggest that President Obama, simply by virtue of his stating his belief a literal resurrection, is a Fundamentalist—despite their being told on numerous occasions, with numerous page references to scholarly sources on the historical movement of Fundamentalism, that such a belief is not at all unique to the Fundamentalist branch of evangelical Christianity. That was another instance in which a non-believer felt it necessary to be not just descriptive, but to actively tell people what they really thought or believed, no matter whether or not they themselves identified as such.

            And there has been no shortage of rhetoric on this site in my 8 years here repeating Dawkins's claim that all Christians (or all theists) are, simply by virtue of continuing to identify themselves as such, reinforcing the idea that religion is acceptable and thus enabling the abuses of right-wing religionists.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:06:56 AM PDT

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            •  You make some good points (1+ / 0-)
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              HeyMikey

              here and I think that where the debate is explicitly metaphysical, it's absolutely appropriate to respond in the way you outline.  You will never get me to accept the supernatural of any form, but then so long as it isn't interfering with policy I could care less if someone else believes in the supernatural.  I think it's odd that someone like Obama believes in something like the resurrection and might get in a discussion about it should it come up, but it's not a discussion I go out of my way to have.  Apart from the supernatural, I do share the ethics outlined by thinkers like Jesus and Buddha.  This diary is referring to those cases where oppressive policy is being discussed and the NTSF appears derailing the discussion.

      •  er...you can't really do that. (2+ / 0-)
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        Loge, Nowhere Man

        You're trying to vaccinate yourself so that you're allowed to offer broad-brush criticism based on the actions of a minority--but then you turn around and say that the group you're attacking isn't allowed to defned itself?

        And in order to solidify your (erroneous) stance, you invoke something as charged as racism/white privelege, etc?

        Sorry--that really doesn't fly.  To be honest--it doesnt' fly in terms of racism, sexism, any ism at all.  If you're going to enter into the fray--well, you have to enter into the fray.  

        Otherwise, to be frankly honest...it's just cheating.

    •  I think there is a difference (1+ / 0-)
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      JosephK74

      between "Don't Judge Me by Him" and "Judge Me by My Actions".

      That is, if a member of a group speaks up or acts up about another member's behavior, or even better, if many members do so, that is a reason to have no blame. If they stay silent, and just say they did not do it, and the other person claims the group mantle, that is a weaker refutation.  

      "All things are not equally true. It is time to face reality." -Al Gore

      by Geek of all trades on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:55:28 AM PDT

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