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Anatomy of a reply / Can you hear me now? 6

sentence418Last time I described an exchange I had on Facebook. A friend asked what I considered to be the negatives of church community. I answered, and the friend who had asked the question expressed real appreciation for the reply — despite the fact that it includes actual direct critique.

A fellow secular humanist asked how I’d brought an exchange like that to such a satisfying conclusion. Here’s an anatomy of my reply, with key “defusers” in bold to keep the ears open.

Notice that the question asked what I see as the negatives. So I start by acknowledging that

For some people there are no negatives. For others, there are no positives. I can only speak for myself.

Religious folks often think I just haven’t experienced as much as they have, when in fact I’ve usually experienced a helluva lot more. So I need to establish my bona fides and my evenhandedness:

I went to church for 25 years in nine denominations and studied religions in tremendous depth. I have talked at length with ministers, theologians, and believers across the spectrum. I have cared profoundly about the answers. I am now a secular humanist, but I find some religious expressions very appealing: liberal Quakerism and Jainism, to name two.

Then I start with basics, always from my own perspective:

The negatives of theistic churches for me start quite simply with the idea of a god. If I don’t believe such a thing is real, it’s beneath my humanity to pretend otherwise.

I explain why that’s a problem and encourage them to feel empathy for my situation, even if they don’t share my opinion:

To then watch what I believe is a false idea lend unchallengeable authority to bad ideas along with the good is very, very painful.

“Painful” encourages empathy, whereas something like “Pisses me off” would bring up defenses. And I always circle back to include the presence of “good ideas” — there are some, you know, and that’s often all they see, so you’d better mention it. If I only harp on the bad, they’ll think me mad and tune out. I elaborate on what I think is bad, always including qualifiers like “often” and “sometimes” and “much of the time” to avoid doing a leg-sweep (and because it’s true):

Honest questioning is too often disallowed, the word “values” often turned on its head.

I could have said this:

God isn’t real, and it’s beneath my humanity to pretend otherwise. To watch something false lend unchallengeable authority to bad ideas just pisses me off. Honest questioning is not allowed, and the word “values” is turned on its head.

About a ten-word difference, but the other person can’t hear this one. Too busy planning a reply like, “You can ask honest questions in my church!” (as Andrea essentially said to Wendy). Their church is allllllways the exception. And we’d still be going back and forth in escalating, pointless spirals. They cannot as easily deny that it is too often disallowed. I get to make my point AND have my lunch.

Finally the common ground, and a reminder that I’m not trying to take away what they have. I couldn’t even if I wanted to — they can only do that themselves. But this way, they know it isn’t even my goal:

Ethical Societies provide community, mutual care, meaning, inspiration, life landmarks, and other positives of religious experience without the negatives that come reliably — though in different degrees — with supernaturalism. Those who find theistic churches attractive can and should find community there. The rest of us are looking for alternatives.

So what was accomplished here? Is this really nothing more than “making nice,” a case of accommodating any and every religious belief and action?

Hell no. “Making nice” is ever so much easier. I could handle that in a single 50-word post. You just switch off your cortex and say, “Hey, to each his own. Whatever floats your boat. Live and let live. We’re all pursuing our own truths.” That’s vacuous bullshit. I’m not just looking for “co-existence.” I want engaged co-existence.

My reply offered an actual critique. It went to the very heart of what made me finally give up on churchgoing: An idea I see as false lends unchallengeable authority to bad ideas. Honest questioning is often disallowed. Values are too often turned on their heads. But by acknowledging something that’s true — that there are exceptions — I gave the listener a little breathing room, which lets them hear rather than merely ducking.

By the end, I’ve made it possible at every step for the other person to agree with me. It’s a Socratic thing, and it’s really effective. All that remains is to get them off their butts to help me do something about the negative uses of religion. As a bonus, Andrea and Bob might just be hyper-aware the next time they are in church. Not to mention more than a hundred other churchgoers among my Facebook friends who might be listening in the wings.

Was that worth ten minutes of my time? You decide. As for me, ten years of watching (and participating in) shouted exchanges that achieve nothing, or emptyheaded refusals to engage at all, was enough for me. I’m still saying what I want to say, but now, at last, someone’s actually listening.

So what do you think? Is this productive, or just a game of manners? Are we fiddling with qualifiers while Rome burns? Or have you felt the same difference in your own ability to listen depending on how someone says what they have to say?

Next time: The Joy of Giving Up

[Complete series]

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This was written on Friday, 30. October 2009 at 11:01 and was filed under action, belief and believers, Can You Hear Me Now?, critical thinking, diversity, fear, Kerfuffles, nonbelief and nonbelievers, values. You can keep up with the comments to this article by using the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Dale – please write a book called The Atheists Guide For Communicating and Co-Existing with Theists.

    You had to have already started – you’re just giving us a teaser, right?

    Comment: BrianE – 30. October 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  2. You mention establishing your bona fides. What are your thoughts about those of us who were never religious, and/or who were raised in UUism, liberal Quakerism, secular Judaism, etc.? If we haven’t been to nine different churches over the course of 25 years, do you think is there any hope for us to appear “evenhanded”?

    One thing I like to point out (as a lifelong atheist who attended a UU “church” as a kid) is that my Sunday school experience was basically comparative religions class. I sometimes point out that I have read the Bible out of curiosity and interest, and read a lot about theology and philosophy and the points where they blend together. Sometimes I think this is effective (if the person I am talking to respects my academic credentials, usually they attribute more weight to the fact that I have “read a lot about” something) but other times I think it just sounds patronizing and silly. At the same time, “I’m subscribed to a ton of atheist blogs!” is never going to help, so I don’t know what more I could say.

    Comment: thoughtcounts-Z – 30. October 2009 @ 1:39 pm

  3. @thoughtcounts-Z: A very good question. My own “path” has been unusually intensive.

    Because UU Sunday school (along with Ethical Societies and very, very few others) is indeed a course in comparative religion, you will tend to have a much broader exposure and experience than someone who has gone to church for 20 years in a single denomination. It DEFINITELY counts as bona fides.

    Most of the secular humanists I know are far more religiously literate than most of the religious believers I know, in part because we spent so much time checking our work as we wiggled our way out of belief. Anyone who does not have that broad exposure needs to get it. I recommend starting with the Prothero book.

    Comment: Dale – 30. October 2009 @ 1:50 pm

  4. “By the end, I’ve made it possible at every step for the other person to agree with me.”

    I think that’s really the key here, and why Dale’s writing (blogs, books, etc.) is so effective and transformative for people who are exposed to it. As mentioned before in this blog, I think that he strives for perfection and clarity in all of his writing, and I imagine him sitting at the laptop striking out words and finding just the right tone for everything he posts or publishes. I would imagine that Dale can also easily do this in one-on-one conversations that are not text-based, because of the repetitious nature of some of the themes he deals with, and because of all the practice he gets refining his arguments in a written form.

    Feels like a taller order from a mere mortal like myself to 1) suppress the annoyance/anger/impatience I feel when trying to engage a theist in conversation, 2) properly use the Socratic method, and 3) use just the most appropriate language to make my point. But I do think it’s a worthy and effective goal, and one that I will strive for! 🙂

    Comment: mother of one – 30. October 2009 @ 2:13 pm

  5. I’ve often wondered about what credentials would be required for one to be considered serious about the religion conversation. I’d like to believe that the amount of reading that I’ve done (and continue to do) qualifies me. But what I think we’re all trying to get a grip on in this series is that it’s not what you say so much as how you say it that matters. I need to work on this all the time.

    Comment: codysmom – 30. October 2009 @ 5:53 pm

  6. I think it’s brilliant. Whenever I have the brain power, I spend my time learning how to communicate effectively with my own children. This is the exact same thing. How can I get them to hear me, and how I can stop and actually hear them. I don’t get into too many religious conversations, but I spend all day with my kids. It’s not just fiddling with words. It makes a real difference, I can see it every day in my own home.

    Comment: Sarah – 30. October 2009 @ 10:55 pm

  7. I’ve often wondered about what credentials would be required for one to be considered serious about the religion conversation.

    It varies with the audience. Most reasonable people will be satisfied if you can show a genuine attempt to make yourself better informed.

    But not everyone. A few months ago I gave a talk on religious literacy and had a gentleman in the audience ask, “Have you read the Koran?” I replied that I have read perhaps 1/4 of the Koran over time, but not the entire book. He made a sour face and gave a dismissive wave. “Then you have no basis for rejecting Islam.”

    I asked if he had read the Bhagavad Gita. When he said that he had not, I suggested that by his reasoning, he had no basis for rejecting Hinduism, not to mention a hundred other texts and religions.

    The key is to make an effort that satisfies you and reasonable others. Ignore the rest.

    Comment: Dale – 31. October 2009 @ 8:23 am

  8. Dale, aren’t you simply (!) advocating the use of rational discourse (or Communicative Rationality a la Habermas), sprinkled with a bit of good manners, humour and humanity?

    I am very excited about the prospects for the culture of the public sphere (Öffentlichkeit) in an online, connected world, just like the growth in newspapers, journals, reading clubs, Masonic lodges and coffee-houses did in 18th century Europe. The only risk is alienating the more conservative parts of society, but it will be very hard for them to completely insulate themselves from modern culture, and the ones who do are destined to fade away in small enclaves on the fringes of society.

    Comment: Theo – 01. November 2009 @ 1:29 am

  9. I think Dale’s point with the “Silos” post was that it’s now possible to insulate oneself within the larger modern culture, thanks to the ability to network with like minded people through technology.

    Comment: codysmom – 01. November 2009 @ 7:45 am

  10. It is a productive game of manners. OR it could be. But doesn’t it get a little lost if Bob or Andrea come here and read your blog and are faced with “Religious folks often think I just haven’t experienced as much as they have, when in fact I’ve usually experienced a helluva lot more” or “Their church is allllllways the exception” and “All that remains is to get them off their butts to help me do something about the negative uses of religion”? Behaving one way in front of them and another way in front of your non-believing crowd doesn’t really give you points with either.

    Comment: Song – 01. November 2009 @ 9:34 pm

  11. Wow. Sanctimony doesn’t score well either.

    Comment: JJ Ross – 01. November 2009 @ 9:39 pm

  12. @Song: Possibly proof of my own constant need for improvement. OR…that assessment might change when you realize that this series is not siloed, NOT just “in front of [my] non-believing crowd.” Bob and Andrea are almost certainly reading this. I’m counting on it, since the feed posts to my FB page.

    It’s easy to assume I’m talking about treating religious friends like children, shielding them from my every cross thought and challenge. That’s not the case. I’m talking about avoiding the specific kind of treatment that brings up my own defenses when it’s done to me. Looking someone in the eye and saying “Get off your butt and help me do something about this thing we both oppose” will not draw the same defensive reaction as calling them brainwashed homophobes. I know because I’ve done both and seen the reaction.

    Please feel free to draw the lines where you see fit. What I’m writing here is exactly the mix of respectful care and direct honesty that works for me. And allllllways a work in progress.

    Comment: Dale – 02. November 2009 @ 6:29 am

  13. Thanks for the illuminating post. I always find the approach of illustrating your points with anecdotes (both on this blog and in your books) very helpful.

    @Theo, I think that Dale IS simply advocating rational discourse mixed with good manners and humility. But it’s something that probably doesn’t come easy to most of us. It’s something I have to (and usually try to) focus on when communicating with my kids, but not something I’d necessarily bother to make the effort with when discoursing with others “who are clearly wrong” :-).

    Dale, you write that you “went to church for 25 years in nine denominations”. Could you elaborate on your history of this? Do you mean to say that you actually “tried on” 9 denominations, or simply that you’ve been to that many different services (the latter would apply to me, by virtue of attending weddings and such). If it’s the former, I’d really be interested to hear about your spiritual path during that time and where you spend the most/least time and why.

    Comment: nonplus – 02. November 2009 @ 10:17 am

  14. Thanks, JJ. I think the sanctimony pit I apparently stumbled into is right next to the ad hominem one you found. Now we can only wave from our pits and hope someone will drag us out, LOL. 🙂

    Dale, I do realize that it is accessible to your FB crowd (and anyone else who wants to read it,) but the blog is unmistakably your “home turf” and the your team is one of nonbelief, as it were. You’re making an example of people on the other team. I am really interested in how your believer acquaintances react to this blog entry. I hope Bob and Andrea will share their thoughts.

    I tried imagining the shoe being on the other foot, and couldn’t square it. The whole thing made me queezy. Switch it around: You had a satisfying experience reading a religious friend’s facebook reply to you, and now you’re reading that religious friend’s blog and you find, “Microevolution is allllllllways the exception” and “Atheist folks often think I just haven’t studied science as much as they have, when in fact I’ve usually studied a helluva lot more” and “All that remains is to get them off their butts to help me do something about the negativity and moral bankruptcy of atheism”–Would it somewhat diminish the generosity of the facebook response? Does it open your ears or close them?

    Comment: Song – 02. November 2009 @ 11:13 am

  15. @Song
    You are closing ears right now and inter5fering with the very clear purpose here. Why? Who are you and what is your real purpose here?

    Comment: JJ Ross – 02. November 2009 @ 12:48 pm

  16. @Song: You’ve rightly called me out on my last answer, which was incomplete. Let me try again, and please forgive the length.

    In the first installment I said, “My intended audience for this series is my fellow atheists etc. Any religious believers who drift in are more than welcome to read along and even comment, but know that even as I talk about how to talk across lines of difference, I’m not doing that now. This is an in-house meeting.” So the more complete answer to your earlier question is that I am explicitly talking to the choir, but am fully aware that others are listening at the door.

    You’re making an example of people on the other team.

    Please reread the post to spot an example made of our “team” (keyword: winced).

    “All that remains is to get them off their butts to help me do something about the negativity and moral bankruptcy of atheism”

    Oh dear, please don’t do that. Your critique is really making me think, which is great. False analogies diminish it.

    I said, “All that remains is to get them off their butts to help me do something about the negative uses of religion” – not “to do something about the moral bankruptcy of religion” generally. An equivalent would have been a religious friend saying

    All that remains is to get Dale off his butt to help me do something about the negativity uses of atheism

    …a statement that does not close my ears, since I do think my worldview (like any) can be and has been used negatively by some.

    What I’m doing here is damned hard. A crucial part is letting my nonreligious audience know that I get where they are coming from – that I feel the same way that many of them do, that I share many of their pains and frustrations. So I share my inner monologue, including things that don’t make it to the page out in that unsiloed world.

    But they have to make it to the page here – do you see why? If I descend be-winged with a simple message that all is well, that we should simply let go of our pain and frustration and talk nice, I’d be rightly laughed off the internet. The trick is to say, “Yes, I get where you are coming from, and I think we can do better than we do without denying that pain and frustration.”

    It’s an excruciatingly difficult wire to walk. If you can manage this trick better, I’ll eagerly learn from it. In the meantime, I’ll bumble forward.

    Comment: Dale – 02. November 2009 @ 12:51 pm

  17. @Theo:

    Dale, aren’t you simply (!) advocating the use of rational discourse (or Communicative Rationality a la Habermas), sprinkled with a bit of good manners, humour and humanity?

    The “simply (!)” says it all. A bit like saying to a cancer researcher, “Aren’t you simply trying to cure cancer?” The answer, I guess, is “Yes, but there are a few steps.”

    @nonplus:

    Dale, you write that you “went to church for 25 years in nine denominations”. Could you elaborate on your history of this?

    Sure. Let’s see:

    UCC: Age 4-10, every week, Sunday School and/or services.
    Mormon: Three times, in thrall of Mormon HS friend.
    UU: Age 15-18, most weeks.
    Methodist: Age 23, as assistant music minister.
    Presbyterian: Two years with girlfriend/fiancee (and Ronald and Nancy Reagan).
    Baptist: Four years, nearly every Sunday. Services + young married group.
    Catholic: 15 years on Catholic faculty, various services including regular masses, consecrations of this or that thing or person, funerals, weddings, etc.
    Episcopalian: A dozen or so services over the years with MIL.
    Lutheran: Multiple here-and-there this-and-that while in Minnesota.

    So some of it counts as searching, some job-related, some incidental but valuable. I can’t really call much of it a matter of “trying on” the faith, but almost always intensely engaged (after a certain age).

    Comment: Dale – 02. November 2009 @ 1:13 pm

  18. Dale, I have been reading these posts with keen interest, and just yesterday was thinking what a difficult line it is you are walking. Please keep “bumbling forward”… I daresay there are an awful lot of us who appreciate what you are doing and don’t consider it to be bumbling at all.

    Comment: canuck – 02. November 2009 @ 1:31 pm

  19. @song I think you’re making some good points, particularly the suggestion of slipping into another’s shoes before hitting the reply button. How would it sound if this was directed at me? It goes along with the “two ears, one mouth, use them proportionately” mantra I tell my kids. But, there’s something more, and maybe Dale can or is planning to address it, and that is tone.

    I’ll admit, I’m having a hard time qualifying your tone. My instinct, I think was the same as Dale’s, and that is one of aggression. I have re-read your posts a couple of times, and in spite of a couple of misquotes, I’m still a little unsure if you are MEANING to come off that way.

    We would do well to remind ourselves often that we are working in a limited medium that can never pick up the nuances of our voice or face no matter how many capitals, bolds, italics, and “llllllls” as in “alllllways” that we employ. Anonymity is often the mother of insolence.

    For me, (and I would guess others too) one of the attractions to this discourse IS the dynamic that comes from “scoring” a snarky one-off. Your sanctimony/ad hominem pit analogy is a good example. Being challenged to a verbal dual, as it were, often brings out the best in us. =)

    Too polite can also become too boring, or too patronizing pretty quickly. So perhaps the goal is to push buttons, but with care enough so as not to short circuit the system.

    Comment: amrezen – 02. November 2009 @ 1:45 pm

  20. Good points.
    And pick our battles well, decide when to build or obstruct, interfere or collaborate, learn with fellows or preach from a pulpit — and then act on it and stand by it and up for it with integrity.

    If I just wanted to joust with this believer Song and dance after so many years of snark and separation, I sure know where to get it in the homeschooling community (the trick is finding anywhere to escape it!) So I wouldn’t be here trying to collaborate on meaningful ways to progress beyond it instead.

    And the way to challenge someone about having integrity, to help your fellow seeker avoid the error of pandering to different groups and being found insincere, is first to have integrity yourself in the challenging. Not to slip in and out of the shadows as a concern troll.

    Comment: JJ Ross – 02. November 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  21. @JJ I don’t really understand your last post there, but as to the one before, there isn’t any conspiracy, really. I’m a mom who is an atheist and also home schools. I read Parenting Beyond Belief, liked it, and found this blog a little later.

    @anrezen I’m not meaning to have a “tone.” I have assertively disagreed and I have given bits of text to try to back up what I am saying or explain why I am saying it.

    @Dale (I don’t know how to do the fancy color blocks, thus, old school stars…)

    ***Too busy planning a reply like, “You can ask honest questions in my church!” (as Andrea essentially said to Wendy). Their church is allllllways the exception.
    ***

    I think this makes an example of the other team (by that I meant your facebook faithful acquaintances.) Here’s how religious folk, like Andrea respond in the predictable way, saying, “Not my church….” (I actually think Wendy helped you out a lot there; the good cop/bad cop thing certainly didn’t hurt you.)

    Yes, I blew it with the “moral bankruptcy” thing. My brain switched to things I’ve read on Biblegateway and the like. But the part of it that I was more worried about was the “get off your butt” thing. To me, that played into the language that many atheists use about believers–that they’re too lazy to explore their faith, they just follow along like sheep. I guess you were going for being jokey and I was reading into it. But yes, it is way better than calling them brainwashed homophobes. However, now if they suspect you’re thinking it, does it matter what you actually say?

    Finally, this. “If you can manage this trick better, I’ll eagerly learn from it. ” Sigh. I’m blundering through like everyone else. Obviously.

    Comment: Song – 03. November 2009 @ 12:08 am

  22. @Dale #17: The cancer analogy is missing a means (rational discourse -> _____________ treatment methodology) to the end (consensus building / curing cancer), but I do get your point (and anticipated it with my exclamation mark!).

    What I’m really after is this: do you think rational discourse is possible with believers, or is there always a point (sooner or later) where the discussion simply breaks down? (“The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.”)

    Comment: Theo – 03. November 2009 @ 3:42 am

  23. Not the first time you’ve anticipated my next step, Theo! Quick answer is that I’m not after discourse so much as the sharing of views. The first is looking to change minds; the second is just about revealing ourselves to each other (including the occasional opinion) without seeking anything from the other person but a receipt confirmation.

    That said, one of the main points I think a productive exchange is possible with most believers and not with some (see next post), and that we should assume someone is in the former group until proven otherwise. Most of the believers I know would not say “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” Which is good, because that is indeed the death of hope for rational connection.

    As for the believers who do place themselves outside rational reach, I focus on opposing whatever negative actions flow from their beliefs. This is aided by building bridges with religious believers who share my concerns more than his.

    Comment: Dale – 03. November 2009 @ 7:30 am

  24. Dale,
    I’ve long admired what I’ve heard of you in interviews like those on Point of Inquiry and Apologia, and now I know I have even more to learn from you than I’d thought.

    In brief, after a period of having sworn off trying to discuss god beliefs with religious people, recently I’ve been trying anew to communicate with some thoughtful Christians – notably in the forum associated with the “A Christian and An Atheist” podcast. My results have been decidedly mixed, in considerable part because I haven’t always made as careful an effort as you’ve described in your blog post.

    Thanks for the help!

    Comment: Brad – 03. November 2009 @ 5:57 pm

  25. […] Beyond Belief also recently addressed the issue in more of a personal way, albeit in the context of a text exchange (on Facebook) rather than oral […]

    Pingback: Can we talk? « Atheist Etiquette – 04. November 2009 @ 4:05 pm

  26. Very challenging post, Dale, and good, thoughtful comments, everyone–not a frivolous one among them!

    Love the “checking my work” analogy!

    Most of the believers I know would not say “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” Which is good, because that is indeed the death of hope for rational connection.

    Few of my friends and family are that closed-minded, but it often feels like they aren’t far from it. Most of them are more or less fundamentalist Christians, because that’s my own background. So I’m very familiar with that tightrope you’re walking; I’m right there with you.

    I greatly appreciate the encouragement to keep working on being heard. With my credentials (a bit more conservative than yours) I see that as the most important thing I can do with my life.

    I’ll second BrianE’s request for a book on this subject.

    Comment: JoelJ – 07. November 2009 @ 9:34 am

  27. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by MemingOfLife: New post @ Meming of Life: Anatomy of a reply (Can You Hear Me Now 6) http://bit.ly/2jjyjA

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  28. […] It’s ever so compelling and irrefutable. Go shout your brilliance into a bucket. Better yet, go find Bob and Andrea. If you proceed thoughtfully, it’s possible to bring a conversation with those two, and most […]

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  29. I’m way late to the game here, but I thought I might have something of value to add, because it’s a fabulous discussion worth adding to, and I am, I admit it, hold your breaths . . . A CHRISTIAN!! EEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

    Okay, now I’ll establish my secular bona fides. ;-P

    I have a degree in evolutionary biology, I was an atheist for years after being raised Catholic, and I am currently a Quaker. I still believe in evolution (SHOCK)!

    To be frank, I think there’s a painful lack of respectful discourse sprinkled with good manners and humour (as one above poster put it) on BOTH sides of the debate. I really don’t see any moral superiority on either side . . . we’re all just awkwardly swimming along, trying to do our best- at least most of us are. And even for those who AREN’T (‘cuz they exist), I find that I can get pretty damn far by assuming that their motives are good. And if other folks, equally, give me the courtesy of assuming MY motives are good . . . we get even farther. (I’ve read a couple books on NVC and I get lots of mileage from that approach).

    Speaking to the flap up there in the comments about ‘their church is allllllways the exception’ . . . well, yeah, that and a few other comments here have raised my hackles a bit. And to that I say, so what? Given my commitment to the principles I just stated above, I looked at your motives, saw that they were clearly coming from a great place, and decided not to get offended. Again, BOTH sides have an obligation to do that.

    In general, I’d say that the statement “There are many believers who it is possible to have a rational conversation with” is almost as true as the statement “there are many non-believers who it is possible to have a rational conversation with.” I add “almost” because it would be disingenuous of me to try and say that there’s not an element of irrationality in my beliefs! 😉 But, on the same token, I don’t think us theists are infected with some terrible God-disease that turns off all logical brain cells.

    My religion, to me, isn’t like a textbook. It’s like a book of poetry. It’s not rational, but I look to it to find beauty and meaning in my mundane existence. I absolutely acknowledge that believing in God has no basis in fact. If it was provable, it wouldn’t be FAITH, now, would it? That doesn’t make it any less important to me.

    But I find meaning in all sorts of things, and in all sorts of beliefs and ways of living, and while, like you, I don’t subscribe to vacuous ‘you’re OK I’m OK we’re all OK’ thinking, I like making sure I keep getting exposed to beliefs different than mine so I can KEEP thinking and KEEP finding meaning, and that’s what brought me here . . .

    Sorry, that was long, but I wanted to say “nice work!” and to let you know that I may be following your blog and commenting from time to time, because it is so interesting and thoughtful. Hope no one minds!

    Comment: rosemary.zimmermann – 13. December 2009 @ 1:21 pm

  30. A pleasure to have you here, Rosemary, and thanks for the kudos. You join a large number of regular religious readers of this blog– and the Belief-o-Matic puts me at 96% Liberal Quaker anyhow, so we’re practically meeting-mates!

    My favorite comment in ages is your “So what?” re the raising of hackles. Always delighted to meet someone with that kind of sense and the ability to express it. So yes, please stay, and help yourself to the fridge.

    Comment: Dale – 13. December 2009 @ 2:28 pm

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