Finding Godportunity in Tragedy
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02-06-2017, 09:43 PM
Finding Godportunity in Tragedy
Okay, I'm fuming a bit, and it's probably over nothing, but I'm still fuming.

I live in Portland where, if you follow the news, you may know that last week a white supremacist became abusive to two women on the train and then murdered two (almost three) people who tried to step in. (Allegedly. Because apparently we have to say crap like that.) All three of them are being regarded as heroes.

At my school (public community college) we had butcher paper up on the wall and pens for writing messages that would eventually be delivered to the surviving man who stepped in, as well as the families of the two who died.

Two students (out of something like a dozen) had taken the opportunity to leave messages telling these people about God. One was a pithy "Do your best and God will do the rest". The other was some "God working through you" business. There's probably more that's gone up since then.

I stood there for at least ten minutes, debating whether to write something that was both supportive of the people who stepped in while ALSO countering the religious stuff. Something snarky about good people who were present while God was absent.

On the one hand, I think the students who wrote it were genuine in their messages. I don't think they realized that they were stealing credit from heroes to give it to their imaginations. I don't think the realized the depths of their disrespect. And, odds are, at least one or two of the recipients ARE of the Abrahamic-religion persuasion. They might well derive some comfort or happiness from those messages.

But on the second hand, this is PORTLAND. It's one of the most irreligious cities in the country. Odds are that some of the people these messages will be delivered to AREN'T believers.

CONGRATULATIONS! You just had what is easily one of the top five WORST DAYS IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE! And the next few weeks are going to be SUPER DUPER SUCKY AS WELL! This sounds like the perfect time for LOTS AND LOTS OF PEOPLE to suddenly start SHARING the GOOD NEWS! Already sick of a lifetime of hearing it? Realy really really don't have the patience for it right now? TOUGH NOOGIES!

As most of you probably know, there's something called a Godportunity, meaning an opportunity to bring someone to God. Just ended up on a team sport with an atheist? Godportunity! Are you a manager with a Muslim on your roster? Godportunity! Fire up that proselytizing fire in your belly and win another one for Jesus! Someone depressed, or down on their luck, or going through a bad breakup? PERFECT TIME TO TALK ABOUT GOD!

Oh, and when someone's in the depths of their grief because a loved one has been violently and unexpectedly taken from them? When their defenses are down and their emotions are raw and their worlds have been upended and they're at their most utterly vulnerable? TRIPLE-WORD-SCORE GODPORTUITY!

.... it's remotely possible to infer from the above that I do not approve of this practice.

In fact, I compare the tragedy-equals-godportunity crowd to circling vultures waiting until a person is too weak to resist them, except vultures have less offensive motives.

On the third* hand, the students who wrote those messages godportunity-people? I'd guess not. There have to be some, less-obnoxiously-visible Christians out there who would see the practice with loathing as I do. I'd guess a lot of them, especially in a diverse place like my school. Some people might just express support like that without realizing the potential faux-pas. I'm sure they're out there. They're just not... well, VISIBLE in the same way as the asshats.

But on the fourth* hand, isn't it worth it to put up a diverse opinion? Something to appeal to the likely non-believers among the recipients? Balance out one view with another?

And on the fifth* hand, wouldn't counterattacking start a faith-war on what was meant to be a genuine gesture of outreach and support?

On the sixth* hand, if I counterattacked, wouldn't that mean I wasn't the one who started it?

So I'm opening up the floor here. What would you have done?

* I'm half-Jewish, so I get to have more than two hands.
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03-06-2017, 02:10 AM (This post was last modified: 03-06-2017 02:16 AM by Robvalue.)
RE: Finding Godportunity in Tragedy
I totally agree. Inserting your religious babble into tragedies is disgusting.

However, as you alluded to, I don't think they necessarily fully realize what they are doing. Religious people are sometimes programmed to not only believe all this stuff but to shove it in people's faces every chance they get. That's what life is to them. It's a game of Jesus points. It takes a strong mind to break out of such indoctrination, especially when you're surrounded by people all doing the same thing while growing up.

I wouldn't have tried to comment on their messages, personally. I'd then be somewhat guilty of doing the same thing: using the tragedy to try to push back at religion. Of course it's fine to criticise what they have said, as you have done here, but doing so in the communication to this survivor would not be the proper place. What any of you say in these messages is unlikely to bring him either to or from religion. The point is to show him you care, and they were probably doing that in their misguided way.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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03-06-2017, 02:15 AM
RE: Finding Godportunity in Tragedy
PS: If any action was to be taken, it would be to talk to those other guys themselves who wrote the God stuff to try and get them to see how inappropriate it can be, for the future.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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03-06-2017, 04:29 AM (This post was last modified: 03-06-2017 04:48 AM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: Finding Godportunity in Tragedy
(02-06-2017 09:43 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  What would you have done?

Just be honest without being manipulative. People have their own filters.
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03-06-2017, 04:57 AM
RE: Finding Godportunity in Tragedy
show respect to those lost their lives and that's it.. I wouldn't go with any snarky messages, that just detracts from what you're showing respect for

Oh no. He's here - God
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03-06-2017, 04:59 AM
RE: Finding Godportunity in Tragedy
The kids learn this from their elders, of course. Taking credit for other people's deeds and pushing God into a situation where it's not needed is how the churches gained the control they have today. The church produces nothing, and sells that nothing relentlessly.
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03-06-2017, 06:50 AM
RE: Finding Godportunity in Tragedy
This sickens me to the depth of my non-existent soul, regardless of whether it was on purpose or not, or whether they meant to sink this low. And that's the problem with most religious people - they seem incapable of grasping that their vile fairy-tale may *not* be comforting or even appropriate for everyone. Because grasping this would require at least some - honest - thought and most religious people are allergic and/or incapable of that.

Few things sicken me more than using the suffering of others for your own purposes, be this to score brownie points with sky daddy, to garner sympathy for *yourself* or to show the world (a.k.a. social media) what an amazing person you are (have had a "friend" use the failed coup in Turkey - while it was happening and people were probably being killed - to get a few more likes on her profile photo and give the impression she was a modern-day Martin Luther King. The thought of it still makes me want to puke)

And that's *before* we even get started on the whole - so you do *your* best and god does what exactly?

The amount of insensitivity xtians in particular show in the face of the suffering and loss of others is staggeringly revolting. A boy who volunteered at the same animal sanctuary I did some years ago, died recently, in his early twenties. His father had already lost his other child and their mother. And what did someone leave on that boy's facebook? That god need him in heaven to take care of the animals. I. Am. Not. Kidding.

I always say that people are mostly neither good nor bad, but selfish. And that's exactly what this is - an utter inability to put yourself in the other person's shoes, to at least *try* and see how they might be seeing the whole situation, to realise it is NOT about you, your bronze age security blankets or other insecurity, it is about them.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderĂ²."
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03-06-2017, 07:09 AM
RE: Finding Godportunity in Tragedy
(02-06-2017 09:43 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  Okay, I'm fuming a bit, and it's probably over nothing, but I'm still fuming.

I live in Portland where, if you follow the news, you may know that last week a white supremacist became abusive to two women on the train and then murdered two (almost three) people who tried to step in. (Allegedly. Because apparently we have to say crap like that.) All three of them are being regarded as heroes.

At my school (public community college) we had butcher paper up on the wall and pens for writing messages that would eventually be delivered to the surviving man who stepped in, as well as the families of the two who died.

Two students (out of something like a dozen) had taken the opportunity to leave messages telling these people about God. One was a pithy "Do your best and God will do the rest". The other was some "God working through you" business. There's probably more that's gone up since then.

I stood there for at least ten minutes, debating whether to write something that was both supportive of the people who stepped in while ALSO countering the religious stuff. Something snarky about good people who were present while God was absent.

On the one hand, I think the students who wrote it were genuine in their messages. I don't think they realized that they were stealing credit from heroes to give it to their imaginations. I don't think the realized the depths of their disrespect. And, odds are, at least one or two of the recipients ARE of the Abrahamic-religion persuasion. They might well derive some comfort or happiness from those messages.

But on the second hand, this is PORTLAND. It's one of the most irreligious cities in the country. Odds are that some of the people these messages will be delivered to AREN'T believers.

CONGRATULATIONS! You just had what is easily one of the top five WORST DAYS IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE! And the next few weeks are going to be SUPER DUPER SUCKY AS WELL! This sounds like the perfect time for LOTS AND LOTS OF PEOPLE to suddenly start SHARING the GOOD NEWS! Already sick of a lifetime of hearing it? Realy really really don't have the patience for it right now? TOUGH NOOGIES!

As most of you probably know, there's something called a Godportunity, meaning an opportunity to bring someone to God. Just ended up on a team sport with an atheist? Godportunity! Are you a manager with a Muslim on your roster? Godportunity! Fire up that proselytizing fire in your belly and win another one for Jesus! Someone depressed, or down on their luck, or going through a bad breakup? PERFECT TIME TO TALK ABOUT GOD!

Oh, and when someone's in the depths of their grief because a loved one has been violently and unexpectedly taken from them? When their defenses are down and their emotions are raw and their worlds have been upended and they're at their most utterly vulnerable? TRIPLE-WORD-SCORE GODPORTUITY!

.... it's remotely possible to infer from the above that I do not approve of this practice.

In fact, I compare the tragedy-equals-godportunity crowd to circling vultures waiting until a person is too weak to resist them, except vultures have less offensive motives.

On the third* hand, the students who wrote those messages godportunity-people? I'd guess not. There have to be some, less-obnoxiously-visible Christians out there who would see the practice with loathing as I do. I'd guess a lot of them, especially in a diverse place like my school. Some people might just express support like that without realizing the potential faux-pas. I'm sure they're out there. They're just not... well, VISIBLE in the same way as the asshats.

But on the fourth* hand, isn't it worth it to put up a diverse opinion? Something to appeal to the likely non-believers among the recipients? Balance out one view with another?

And on the fifth* hand, wouldn't counterattacking start a faith-war on what was meant to be a genuine gesture of outreach and support?

On the sixth* hand, if I counterattacked, wouldn't that mean I wasn't the one who started it?

So I'm opening up the floor here. What would you have done?

* I'm half-Jewish, so I get to have more than two hands.

for me, I don't do god so the word is meaningless to me. if the meme is "goodness" then the meme works through proteins. humans

The rules of a healthy society are based on the sacrifices of good people. The rules are working because of them. through them. again I am ok with that.

number two, the placebo effect, it real, its measurable, so no need to whine about it. I am ok with people needing hope. My atheism offers nothing but placebo"The Now" or the placebo "enlightenment" I use them myself, but when we process this kind of tragedy I understand what works for me may not work for them. Where I grew up we often said "when the shit hits the fan there are no cowards, There are those that run and those that don't. Just don't leave a friend behind."

in this case, I will help the godder the best way I could with what they understand. I would state that I don't believe in their (every time they say the word god) but I understand what they mean.

I don't know one rule written by their god or men that doesn't have exceptions. I just don't let exceptions set precedent.
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