Forum manners in an ideal world

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Butters | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 7:21 AM

Thanks so much for all the thoughtful responses. I really like this place and hope I come across as respectful; for that is certainly how I regard all of you.  I’d like to respond (indirectly) to a few comments and to clarify a few points.

1. I agree that the purpose of this forum is obviously not to debate; and yet, why was this thread inaugurated at all except to explore and suggest the terms upon which debate is acceptable?  Excepting Butters, we’re all adults here; most of us are probably committed to our religious convictions, which permeate virtually everything really; obviously some debate is going to happen, which I’m sure is fine as long as we keep it within reasonable bounds.

2. I have never suggested and do not believe that anyone should be unkind while debating a point; quite the opposite in fact. However, I do object to “kindness” meaning that you cannot rigorously demolish a person’s argument.  Similarly to “love the sinner, hate the sin,” there is a clear difference between a person and their argument.

I’ve often sensed that the people who have scolded me for engaging in “phallic” discourse were unable to distinguish between themselves and their own arguments.  That is to say, they so identify with their arguments that any criticism of their arguments are perceived as criticism directed at them.

I do not, however, believe that one should allow outright lies or illogical or unsupportable assertions to proliferate just because one wishes to avoid offending a person, merely because that person identifies so intimately with their position.  Rigorously pulling apart a person’s argument is fair game; and politeness ought to be part of that.  However, as I have suggested, perceptions of “politeness” and “impoliteness” are often mediated by considerations other than the actual “politeness” or “impoliteness” of the “discourse.”

3. I often get the sense that when people use the word “love” in the context of Christ and Christianity, that they mean a kind of vague and sentimental, subjective feeling. That to “love” means to refrain from making judgements (I can hear the quotations churning already - I do NOT mean judging a person’s soul or their relationship with God or anything of the sort); that “love” is indeed a sort of cloying miasmic atmosphere around which we enclose (suffocate? lol? Stick out tongue) the beloved.

But that isn’t theological or scriptural or philosophical or commonsensical.  To love a person, as St. Augustine said so well, is not to adopt a passive and indifferent relativism veiled by a vague and sentimental feeling, but to “will the good of the other.” And, of course, we are commanded to love.

4. I don’t know where anyone got the idea that I have suggested that feminine = polite v. masculine = impolite.  Indeed, that was my very point: that debating a point rigorously, even though perfectly politely, is often perceived impolite simply because one isn’t used to rigorous debate, or because one disagrees with the content of the opposition’s argument.

5. Also, there’s been a confusion of terms here.  Think of “masculine” and “feminine” as being akin to grammatical gender. Men can easily be “feminine” and women can easily be “masculine.”  When I say “feminized,” for example, I am not talking about “womanly” postures or attitudes, at least not necessarily.  Nor was Ms. Gilligan.

6. One would have to be so extremely selective in reading and quoting Paul to elicit a non-combative, milquetoast image of a Christian that one would have to practically edit most of his words into utter oblivion.

7. I found Super Tramp’s example of “passive aggressive” depressingly familiar.  I could tell scores and scores of similar stories about that sort of verbal arsonry - which is frankly dishonest, underhanded and without foundation.

For example, for no other reason than that a person disagreed with my position on, say, gay marriage, and was unable to engage with it much less refute it (a position I hold and can defend theologically, scripturally, legally and philosophically), I have thereby been accused of engaging in “hate speech.”  I have actually been dragged before a committee to decide whether or not I “belong” at a school.  Now, unless I am actually engaging in “hate speech,” (and I do not), when someone argues that I am, what it more often than not really means is this: “I disagree with you but either won’t or can’t argue the point, so I shall pejoratively characterize you in such a way that resonates with a sort of collective group think, and thereby brand you and your words as illegitimate.”

In short, that sort of passive aggression is often merely a way of shutting down certain points of view. There is something truly skin crawling about it.

Now, the question is, why do they find my words so upsetting? I think it’s because they have an emotional commitment to something they cannot really defend because they do not understand their own position, much less mine.

And ironically, it is PRECISELY because they have not had to engage in “spirited debate” - they have effectively insulated themselves from it - that has kept them so vulnerable and so unable to understand what they apparently believe in; and, moreover, they are so un-tutored in any sort of genuine opposing argument (as opposed to a silly caricature) that they are shocked and tongue-tied when actually confronted by a persuasive, logical clear opposition argument.

And in my opinion, given the general drift of the world, we as Christians really need to root ourselves in truth and learn how to argue effectively, politely, rigorously, fearlessly. And I’m afraid it will be perceived as “impolite” by those who disagree with you, no matter how far you bend over backwards to be polite. John 15:18-25 comes to mind.

JRS mentioned contra mundum - which is funny because I've been reading St. Athanasius, and in particular De Incarnatione Verbi Dei.  I sometimes think he ought to be a patron saint for our age; or at least, as a "Mad Bad Trad", that he ought to be mine.  

~Butters Smile

“To love means loving the unlovable.  To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable.  Faith means believing the unbelievable.  Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” ~Chesterton

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Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 7:42 AM

Peace, Butters!                  *smile*                       Thank you for your words!   Indeed!

                          I appreciate your being part of these Logos Forums! 

Philippians 4:  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand..........

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 7:53 AM

Butters, thank you for taking time to clarify your thoughts through your last thoughtful post. I think you make a lot of great points.

It is so easy to misread someone when we have the luxury of interacting with them face to face but that challenge goes up exponentially when we try to communicate on a computer forum like this. That is why it is probably better for each of us to take a few more moments to think about how a post might be interpreted before pressing the "post" icon.

Using adventure and community to challenge young people to continually say "yes" to God

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 8:19 AM

Bruce Dunning:

Butters, thank you for taking time to clarify your thoughts through your last thoughtful post. I think you make a lot of great points.

It is so easy to misread someone when we have the luxury of interacting with them face to face but that challenge goes up exponentially when we try to communicate on a computer forum like this. That is why it is probably better for each of us to take a few more moments to think about how a post might be interpreted before pressing the "post" icon.

To illustrate:  I went to the grocery yesterday morning.  When I pulled into a parking space and walked toward the store one person was looking rather strangely at me and said "You shouldn't be on the road."  I was offended since I thought he was being critical of my driving (which is pretty darn good).  Later when I finished and returned to my mini-van to load the groceries I noticed that the temporary tags had expired so he wasn't commenting on my driving but on my expired tags.  Smile  (I borrowed another vehicle and went to the dealer to get an extension on the tags until the new plates arrived).

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 8:35 AM

Thanks for your thoughtful post, Butters.

My only problem continues to be with your classification of masculine vs feminine. You apparently have something clearly in mind by those terms, but I still don't know what you mean. Perhaps speaking of the same phenomena with other terms could be helpful.

 Help links: WIKI;  Logos 6 FAQ. (Phil. 2:14, NIV)

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 8:48 AM

I suspect the feminine discouse concept may link to my going down to the garage, after letting my nail polish dry. Sharpening up my tongue with the 18v Ryobi is especially painful, when getting the two points even.


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Sleiman | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 8:52 AM

Yes Butters I also enjoy reading your posts. No boring stuff! So keep on posting.

Bruce Dunning:
That is why it is probably better for each of us to take a few more moments to think about how a post might be interpreted before pressing the "post" icon.
Yes 

On another thread (a recent long one with many tributaries), I was the one to ask refrain from expressing opinions on certain matters (referring to this post). I did so mainly because I was trying to stop myself from engaging in a debate that has no place on these forums. Since I am not very effective at restraining myself (I can resist anything but temptation Wink), I tried to stop the temptation from evolving; and in the process, I disguised my weakness and subtly pointed it at others, and for that I apologize and ask forgiveness.

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Butters | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 9:06 AM

Richard DeRuiter:

Thanks for your thoughtful post, Butters.

My only problem continues to be with your classification of masculine vs feminine. You apparently have something clearly in mind by those terms, but I still don't know what you mean. Perhaps speaking of the same phenomena with other terms could be helpful.

Thank you for your question Richard!  I really wish we could discuss this in my living room or study with a Drinks in hand.  

Well, I am not a nominalist; indeed, I consider nominalism to be one of the most destructive ideologies of our time, and one that has its roots in every impulse that is contrary to truth, not to mention Christianity.  

I hold that words (including beauty, truth and goodness, et cetera) are fully meaningful, and that they refer to something real.  Every great philosopher and theologian did so as well.  And to be sure, Christ was no nominalist.  

The postmodernist project, in a highly sophisticated and subtle and even intellectually seductive manner, has long held language and words in it's crosshairs, with the object of de-racinating words.  It is so insidious, I even discover people adopting nominalist positions without having ever assented to it; somehow it's absorbed by people unwittingly via a kind of cultural osmosis.     

Nominalism has many disguises; however, one disguise it currently goes by is "deconstructionism."  

You can tell you're talking to deconstructionist/nominalist when he or she employes air quotes used around almost every significant word, such as "feminine."  Because, you see:  they argue that the meaning of words is "socially constructed" and so the word's meaning refers to nothing real; therefore the meaning of words is arbitrary.  Their arguments are easily refutable if you want advice on how to go about doing so; I have a lot of practice doing so.  

So, I hope you don't mind that I personally refuse to adapt my use of words in order to account for an implicit nominalism.  In any case, I think it's highly probable that you know very well what "masculine" and "feminine" mean.  After all, they aren't new words and are standard English.  

I could provide many definitions; however, here's a particularly nice C.S. Lewis passage on the topic: 

_________

"Both bodies were naked, and both were free from any sexual characteristics, either primary or secondary. That, one would have expected. But whence came this curious difference between them? He found that he could point to no single feature wherein the difference resided, yet it was impossible to ignore. One could try – Ransom has tried a hundred times – to put it into words. He has said that Malacandra was like rhythm and Perelandra like melody. He has said that Malacandra affected him like a quantitative, Perelandra like an accentual, metre. He thinks that the first held in his hand something like a spear, but the hands of the other were open, with palms toward him.

But I don’t know that any of these attempts has helped be much. At all events what Ransom saw at that moment was the real meaning of gender. Everyone must sometimes have wondered why in nearly all tongues certain inanimate objects are masculine and other feminine. What is masculine about a mountain or feminine about certain trees? Ransom has cured me of believing that this is a purely morphological phenomenon, depending on the form of the word. Still less is gender an imaginative extension of sex.

Our ancestors did not make mountains masculine because they projected male characteristics into them. The real process is the reverse. Gender is a reality, and a more fundamental reality than sex. Sex is, in fact, merely the adaptation to organic life of a fundamental polarity which divides all created beings. Female sex is simply one of the things that have feminine gender; there are many others, and Masculine and Feminine meet us planes of reality where male and female would be simply meaningless.

Masculine is not attenuated male, not feminine attenuated female. On the contrary, the male and female of organic creatures are rather faint and blurred reflections of masculine and feminine. Their reproductive functions, their differences in strength and size, partly exhibit, but partly also confuse and misrepresent, the real polarity…

Malacandra seemed to him to have the look of one standing armed, at the ramparts of his own remote archaic world, in ceaseless vigilance, his eyes ever roaming the earth-ward horizon whence his danger came long ago. “A sailor’s look,” Ransom once said to me; “you know… eyes that are impregnated with distance.” But the eyes of Perelandra opened, as it were, inward, as if they were the curtained gateway to a world of waves and murmurings and wandering airs, of life that rocked in winds and splashed on mossy stones and descended as the dew and arose sunward in thin-spun delicacy of mist." 

_________

I'm always willing to discuss further.  And please know that you have an open invitation to drop by for a Drinks with Butters.  

~Butters Smile

“To love means loving the unlovable.  To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable.  Faith means believing the unbelievable.  Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” ~Chesterton

Posts 466
Butters | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 9:28 AM

Michael:
After reading this thread, I got the theme song for "Gilligan's Island" stuck in my head, so much so that I had to change it to "Logos Island".  The following is meant only for humorous and entertainment purposes.  :)

Michael, I've been meaning to mention that your adaptation of that song was very, very clever.  I got a huge laugh out of it.  And Butters has a crush on Ginger so he doesn't mind at all being identified with her.  

~Butters Smile 

“To love means loving the unlovable.  To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable.  Faith means believing the unbelievable.  Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” ~Chesterton

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Michael | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 9:32 AM

Butters:

 

Michael, I've been meaning to mention that your adaptation of that song was very, very clever.  I got a huge laugh out of it.  And Butters has a crush on Ginger so he doesn't mind at all being identified with her.  

~Butters Smile 

Thank you, you just made my day!  Big Smile

Posts 466
Butters | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 9:47 AM

Sleiman:
Yes Butters I also enjoy reading your posts. No boring stuff! So keep on posting.

Thanks and likewise Sleiman!  

Cheers,

~Butters Smile

“To love means loving the unlovable.  To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable.  Faith means believing the unbelievable.  Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” ~Chesterton

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 10:07 AM

Butters:
I'm always willing to discuss further.  And please know that you have an open invitation to drop by for a Drinks with Butters.

Don't care for Martini's but, there are other options perhaps. Smile

Butters:
C.S. Lewis...What is masculine about a mountain or feminine about certain trees?

In the Spanish language mountains are feminine (la montaña) and trees are masculine (el árbol). BTW, I admire C.S. Lewis' exploration of these and other concepts in his books, but just because it's him doesn't mean it's right, or in this case even particularly helpful. Even if I agree with Lewis that masculine and feminine are more than merely biological (I do, actually), we are no closer to understanding what that might mean, or if those terms can be properly applied to non-personal entities, like arguments (except by way of metaphor). His suggestions are interesting, but not compelling (IMHO).

Butters:
I think it's highly probable that you know very well what "masculine" and "feminine" mean.

I know what these words mean in the biological sense, and to a degree in the linguistic sense, but in the sense to which you seem to refer, I don't. That's why I asked.

I was a philosophy major at Calvin College when prof's like Alvin Pantinga, and Nick Wolterstorf were there. In an argument (or reasoned discourse), it's important that terms be both understood and used in the same way. These men (and others in the Philosophy department at the time: H. Evan Runner & Rich Mouw, e.g.) were very helpful in shaping my approach to reasoned discourse (which we seem to be having). I'm not a nominalist, but if a term refers to something, that something should be able to be described with more than one word.

So, while there are real (i.e. biological, psychological, and sociological) referents in speaking of masculine and feminine, to speak of arguments (which are non-personal entities) in those terms is to use them metaphorically, or to generalize from one's experience on what it means to be masculine or feminine. Or are you doing something else with these terms.

 Help links: WIKI;  Logos 6 FAQ. (Phil. 2:14, NIV)

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Erik | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 10:07 AM

Bruce Dunning:

What a great life lesson for us all to learn. I would add that even being factual without expressing care will also result in ineffectiveness. A person might win the argument but lose the relationship.

Very true, and I find myself guilty of this when I do not take the time and care to properly formulate a response.  I normally try to put my responses aside and re-read them again later to ensure that I’m not overtly offensive or lacking in grace.  I humbly admit that I did not exercise that practice and level of care this week in some of my responses.

However, I do also generally agree with Butters' thesis.  Many in society (many Christians included) have become almost maniacally concerned with not offending others and that can serve to stifle spirited debate. In my opinion, these restrictions on discourse contribute to the promulgation of both a cultural and spiritual relativism/universalism that causes me great alarm for the future.

The Gospel message itself is offensive to many in society, but surely Christians should not suggest that it be watered down for fear of eliciting outrage from those who might disagree.  I shudder to think that someone will be on the wrong side of eternity because I was more concerned with not aggrieving them than I was with the final dispensation of their soul.  In the future I will endeavor to be cognizant of framing my responses more congenially.  However, if someone makes a theological point that is simply untenable, my position is that the true loving response is one of correction and not avoidance. 

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David Ames | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 10:27 AM

Hopefully I don't step on your toes. Comments on two points.

Butters:

I do not, however, believe that one should allow outright lies or illogical or unsupportable assertions to proliferate

The problem is that what we see as divine truth is seen by others as deadly heresy. [Thanks to Logos I have sometimes been able to compare the augments that I have been taught with those of others and [sometimes] figured out where the first step of disagreement was. Other times I cannot see any error in either augment]

Butters:

For example, for no other reason than that a person disagreed with my position on, say, [Something or other], and was unable to engage with it much less refute it (a position I hold and can defend theologically, scripturally, legally and philosophically), I have thereby been accused of engaging in “hate speech.”
- <<changed the subject as what is under discussion is not important here>>

There are subjects [the Something or other] where if you are in place AA you get burned at the stake just for defending that stand but if you were in place ZZ you would be praised as a worthy leader.

What we might need to do in some of those cases [imho] is admit that Satan won on the street [and let the believers in the Something or other have their way in this world] but fight to keep their ideas out of OUR church. And not be accused of "hate speech" if all we are doing is keeping it out of OUR church. [maybe providing we deliberately state that we accept them on the street but not in OUR church - But too often both sides demand that it is all or nothing [not in OUR church and not on THEIR street] or [on the street and force it into the church] depending which side one is on] Maybe we need to convince THEM that as long as we are not stopping THEM we are not a threat - we just don't want it in OUR church.

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 10:42 AM

David Ames:
But too often both sides demand that it is all or nothing [not in OUR church and not on THEIR street] or [on the street and force it into the church] depending which side one is on]
Is this when we pull out the word "radical" and start branding everyone? I see the results in certain nations that will execute you and burn your churches..... (Crusades, Inquisition,witch trials, Conquistadors, Ayatollah..)

David Ames:
Maybe we need to convince THEM that as long as we are not stopping THEM we are not a threat - we just don't want it in OUR church.
If only "they" would do likewise.

Logos 7 Collectors Edition

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Butters | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 10:52 AM

I'm in the middle of writing and all that, but I just want to say quickly to David Ames:  I am very leery of the idea of the Church (broadly considered) forsaking the world and turning inward to focus on herself.  Yes we need to be a sanctuary; and we need to some extent shut out the world during Mass, et cetera.  But sooner or later the world is coming for us; it's already happening.  So we ignore developments "on the street" at our peril.  Moreover, it seems to me to be essentially Christian and good and true to be fully engaged with the world.  

“To love means loving the unlovable.  To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable.  Faith means believing the unbelievable.  Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” ~Chesterton

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 12:34 PM

Erik Vines:
Many in society (many Christians included) have become almost maniacally concerned with not offending others and that can serve to stifle spirited debate. In my opinion, these restrictions on discourse contribute to the promulgation of both a cultural and spiritual relativism/universalism that causes me great alarm for the future.

This is not my experience. When I hear concerns regarding offending others, it is usually in the context of name-calling, over-generalization, falsehoods and ignorance - contexts in which others are rightly offended. A second context where I hear the concern is from what are popularly called "fringe groups" in which the loyalty is to a charismatic leader not a serious search for truth. Rather than being alarmed by relativism (which I do not espouse), I am more alarmed by the willingness to argue from quarter-truths, (very) shallow knowledge and inattentive listening.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 12:38 PM

George Somsel:
MJ, are you trying to create "the best of all possible worlds"?  We'll be bored out of our gourd.  Big Smile

and here I thought it was practicing for heaven.Wink

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 12:47 PM

MJ. Smith:
, (very) shallow knowledge and inattentive listening.
The more I learn, the more I realize my knowledge is shallow.

Truth Is Still Truth Even if You Don't Believe It

Check the Wiki

Warning: Sarcasm is my love language. I may inadvertently express my love to you.

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Sleiman | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 12:59 PM

MJ. Smith:

George Somsel:
MJ, are you trying to create "the best of all possible worlds"?  We'll be bored out of our gourd.  Big Smile

and here I thought it was practicing for heaven.Wink

The Chairman of the Bored presiding over the winged babies with metal halos and harps over fluffy clouds might object to snarky comments like this. Wink

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