The Phelps
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05-11-2011, 06:55 PM
RE: The Phelps
(05-11-2011 02:41 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Jakel.

Absolutely. Your point is well taken. That being said, the claim is that the Phelps clan follows the single most strict interpretation of the Bible; more so than any other Christian sect. If that's the case, then there must be a Bible passage that clearly states that God hates fags. Which there isn't. Meaning they follow an interpretation of the Bible. Furthermore, the suggestion that the Bible itself preaches hatred of fags is baseless.

The Phelps are guilty of a lot of things and I doubt I'd piss on them to put out a fire, but they are certainly not the personification of the Bible.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

Well. If God thinks that homosexual people should burn in hell for all eternity, I would say that God hates them. You don't do that to someone you mildly dislike or feel annoyed about. Looking at: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/hate and looking at the bottom half from Collins English Dictionary it says "intense dislike" and so on. I would say that you intensely dislike someone if you think they should be tormented forever!
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05-11-2011, 07:08 PM
RE: The Phelps
Hey, Cufflink.

I want to be clear about a couple of things. 1 - I don't think the Bible is the word of God, nor do I think the vast majority of Christians do. So this whole argument only makes sense within the context of Biblical literalists. 2 - I'm not about to say that the Bible doesn’t have its bloodthirsty bits. It does.

That being said, in the same chapter, Leviticus says that adulterers, adulteresses, cursers of parents, givers of their seed unto Molech, mother fuckers, fucked mothers, men who fuck their daughter in law, women who fuck their father in law, animal fuckers (men and women), fucked animals, men and women with familiar spirits and wizards shall be put to death too.

Now I must admit, I'd never heard the Leviticus passage you offered before. When I read it, I was like, “Daaaaaamn, if that ain’t a slam dunk.” The way the argument had always been presented to me, homosexuality was singled out. But reading the passage in context, no special attention is paid to homosexuals whatsoever. Now I'm not saying that the Bible is not saying put homosexuals to death, because clearly it seems so. But I'm questioning the idea that there is somehow an exceptional hatred of homosexuals in the Bible, well, at least in Leviticus.

Anyhoo, I realised that I got roped into an argument that I want no part of. Some people say that the Bible has a single objective message (because it's the word of God) and if Christians don't adhere to that message in its entirety then they're hypocrites and not Christians. I don't believe that for many reasons, not the least of which is that very few Christians are Biblical literalists and because simple observation tells us that a number of Christians utilise theologies that devalue the more bloodthirsty parts of the Bible. Not a single minister I know (and I know a ton) would ever in a million years preach the execution of anyone.

So I think I'll leave my argument at this. The Bible says some bullshit about homosexuals. That bullshit doesn't seem to be exclusive. Biblical literalists need to account for the bloodthirsty bits of the Bible. The Phelps clan are some hate mongering douchebags. They do not represent all of Christianity and in fact, the WBC barely even qualifies as a drop in the ocean of Christianity. Other Christians have the right to take a flying shit on their heads.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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05-11-2011, 08:46 PM (This post was last modified: 05-11-2011 08:50 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: The Phelps
(05-11-2011 07:08 PM)Ghost Wrote:  That being said, in the same chapter, Leviticus says that ... animal fuckers (men and women) ...

"Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion." - Leviticus 18:23 (KJV)

I find the additional restriction for women as providing a possible loophole for what a man does with his livestock. "Hey, I was drinking and just got a little 'confused'." I mean why qualify the first clause further except to provide a potential legal loophole.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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06-11-2011, 01:47 PM
RE: The Phelps
(05-11-2011 07:08 PM)Ghost Wrote:  I want to be clear about a couple of things. 1 - I don't think the Bible is the word of God, nor do I think the vast majority of Christians do. So this whole argument only makes sense within the context of Biblical literalists. 2 - I'm not about to say that the Bible doesn’t have its bloodthirsty bits. It does.

That being said, in the same chapter, Leviticus says that adulterers, adulteresses, cursers of parents, givers of their seed unto Molech, mother fuckers, fucked mothers, men who fuck their daughter in law, women who fuck their father in law, animal fuckers (men and women), fucked animals, men and women with familiar spirits and wizards shall be put to death too.

Now I must admit, I'd never heard the Leviticus passage you offered before. When I read it, I was like, “Daaaaaamn, if that ain’t a slam dunk.” The way the argument had always been presented to me, homosexuality was singled out. But reading the passage in context, no special attention is paid to homosexuals whatsoever. Now I'm not saying that the Bible is not saying put homosexuals to death, because clearly it seems so. But I'm questioning the idea that there is somehow an exceptional hatred of homosexuals in the Bible, well, at least in Leviticus.

Anyhoo, I realised that I got roped into an argument that I want no part of. Some people say that the Bible has a single objective message (because it's the word of God) and if Christians don't adhere to that message in its entirety then they're hypocrites and not Christians. I don't believe that for many reasons, not the least of which is that very few Christians are Biblical literalists and because simple observation tells us that a number of Christians utilise theologies that devalue the more bloodthirsty parts of the Bible. Not a single minister I know (and I know a ton) would ever in a million years preach the execution of anyone.

So I think I'll leave my argument at this. The Bible says some bullshit about homosexuals. That bullshit doesn't seem to be exclusive. Biblical literalists need to account for the bloodthirsty bits of the Bible. The Phelps clan are some hate mongering douchebags. They do not represent all of Christianity and in fact, the WBC barely even qualifies as a drop in the ocean of Christianity. Other Christians have the right to take a flying shit on their heads.

Matt,

I agree with most of what you've said. The Bible metes out the death penalty not only for homosexual activity but also for all the things you mentioned. I'd add to the list disobedient children (Deut. 21:18-21), women found not be virgins on their wedding night (Deut. 22:13-22), and people who pick up sticks on the sabbath (Num. 15:32-36). This comprehensive list of capital crimes in the first five books of the Bible is instructive.

I also agree that there's a wide range of Christian thought regarding Biblical literalism. I too know loving Christians who are accepting of non-standard sexuality and would be horrified at the thought of putting gay people to death.

What I'm not so sure about is that "very few Christians are Biblical literalists." In the States it's not unusual to see bumper stickers like, "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it." More than a quarter of Americans self-identify as Evangelical Protestants, and while not all Evangelicals are fundamentalists, it seems a large proportion are.

That said, there is a movement within Christianity called Christian Reconstructionism that seeks to return to Biblical law, including putting into practice all the penalties that are "on the books." From the article:

Quote:While many Christians believe that biblical law is a guide to morality and public ethics, when interpreted in faith, Reconstructionism is unique in advocating that civil law should be derived from and limited by biblical law. For example, they support the recriminalization of acts of abortion and homosexuality . . . [P]rominent advocates of Christian Reconstructionism have written that according to their understanding, God's law approves of the death penalty not only for murder, but also for propagators of idolatry,[4][5][6] active homosexuals,[7] adulterers, practitioners of witchcraft, and blasphemers,[8] and perhaps even recalcitrant youths.

I don't know how strong this movement is, however.

The Bible is a huge compendium of attitudes and ideas that sometimes conflict with each other. Depending on what you focus on and what you choose to ignore, you can get pretty much whatever you want out of it. It's like a Rorschach test: what you see in it says a lot about who you are. Are you anti-slavery? Well, there's Lev. 25:10: "[P]roclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Are you pro-slavery? You've got Ephesians 6:5: "Slaves, obey your masters . . ." Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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06-11-2011, 02:07 PM
RE: The Phelps
Which is why I think the people sayin that the more relaxed Christians are in some way responsible for the more extreme variant. Simply because the bible can be interpreted any way you want depending on which part you run a highlighter through so by giving any credence to one passage you are in part saying all parts can be given credence and not just the nice ones.
I'm not saying I agree with that sentiment I can just see where someone would get the idea from.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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06-11-2011, 06:43 PM
RE: The Phelps
(06-11-2011 01:47 PM)cufflink Wrote:  The Bible is a huge compendium of attitudes and ideas that sometimes conflict with each other. Depending on what you focus on and what you choose to ignore, you can get pretty much whatever you want out of it. It's like a Rorschach test: what you see in it says a lot about who you are. Are you anti-slavery? Well, there's Lev. 25:10: "[P]roclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Are you pro-slavery? You've got Ephesians 6:5: "Slaves, obey your masters . . ." Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice.

Too true. I always worry when I attend a barbecue that someone is gonna fire it up the wrong way:

Leviticus 10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.

Leviticus 10:2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

"To think of what the world has suffered from superstition, from religion, from the worship of beast and stone and god, is
almost enough to make one insane."

Robert G. Ingersoll
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06-11-2011, 10:15 PM
RE: The Phelps
Hey, Cufflink.

To be perfectly honest, I don't actually know the exact population of Christians that are Biblical literalists. What I do know is that Biblical literalism is an extreme position, not a moderate position; therefore, the likelihood of it being the majority is pretty small. Also, there are always people swept up in the stream of the extreme view; those who feign allegiance in order to maintain their social position. What I cannot believe is that of 1 billion Christians that over 500 million are Biblical literalists. And even if that's true, we all know that it is one particular brand of Biblical literalism that sticks in our craws; the ultra-right wing American Evangelical movement (not to be confused with Evangelicalism as a whole). All of that is to say, I cannot help but surmise that the majority of Christians are not Biblical literalists. But that is, nonetheless, an assumption on my part.

We must always be careful not to confuse anecdotal evidence with hard empirical data. I'm not saying that those bumper stickers aren't prevalent where you live, but that it isn't acceptable evidence of a trend (that's more nit-picky of me, I just have the idea of anecdotal evidence on my mind and I wanted to advocate a position).

Quote:I don't know how strong this movement is, however.

I do.

Not in the empirical sense, but in the predictive sense. I believe in certain mechanical realities that explain this sort of thing handily.

If you chart a population, it doesn't matter what you're charting (politics, religious belief, favourite cheese slices), then you are going to wind up with a mean. That mean is going to be the position of the moderates (the average person). By the same token, when you chart a population, you cannot help but have an extreme position. If a million people charted at zero, then if one person charted at 1 then that person would be the extreme. It's irrelevant how far from the mean the extreme position is. That it is the furthest point from the mean is what makes it the extreme. So Harris' notion that the moderates are responsible for the extreme is ludicrous. Being a population makes the extreme an utterly unavoidable eventuality.

The moderates usually hold the power, through sheer numbers and also typically represent the status quo and also, and this is important, promote the slow loosening of restrictions. This is a huge dilemma for the extreme because the extreme desires rapid change and increased restrictions (typically, at least the totalitarian extreme does, the Raelians advocate near limitless sex soooooo buttons). So the extreme is always trying to recruit the moderates; they're like lions at the edge of a herd, always looking for the weak and sick to pick them off. Their most powerful tool is fear; the fear that the system that the majority relies on is failing them; the fear of the unknown. The panacea for fear is certainty and that is the extreme's speciality. In stable times, that weapon is rendered almost completely inert. In times of great uncertainty, it is like a nuclear weapon.

Daniel Quinn talks a lot about the idea of twins of the same birth; how two seemingly different, even antithetical groups actually spring from the same cultural ancestry. In that vein, the same mechanism that created Muslim extremists created Christian extremists created Richard Dawkins. All of the groups advocate a change in the way we live and in what we value and all of them advocate restrictions (and if Richard isn't far enough for you, you know there's men made of sterner stuff out there). The content of their message is not as important as the reaction that created them in the first place.

All these Christian Reconstructionists are saying is, "We have the answer." That's it. Now look at the States. Collapsing economy, rising crime, housing problems, foreign debt, unemployment... it's like a Petri dish; it's the perfect breeding ground for extremists. Not only are they picking off the sick and old, healthy ones are flocking to the pride shouting, "I don't wanna be prey anymore, sign me up to be a lion!"

The Phelps clan are extremist whack jobs. No debate. But they're a bunch of media savvy but otherwise disorganised idiots. They're a sneeze, the symptom of a larger issue.

The unfortunate part is that contrary to what Harris says, the moderates have very few options in the face of extremism. They can't change the severity of the instability and when they say, "it's complicated," the extremists say, "No it isn't and we have the answer!" Extremists don’t play the same game as moderates. The only way that things change, and this is one of the truly unfortunate realities of our system, is if the situation stabilises, if the moderates switch strategies and become extreme in order to combat the extreme, or if the extreme takes things too far and trigger a revolt (which they always do because the way they operate is a positive feedback system).

Quote:It's like a Rorschach test: what you see in it says a lot about who you are.

Amen, brother. Amen.

The only qualification that I'd add to this is, you don't know how you'll respond in a crisis until after you responded. Environmentally induced fear plays a huge role in how we interpret things.

For me, this is the most important part of this equation. The Bible is only a part of a larger system. Some people say that it dictates everything, but those who do simply don't understand how systems function. In systems theory we talk about complexity of detail and dynamic complexity: how many parts there are and how many different ways the parts interact with one another. We also talk about connections between the parts and that some parts in the system have more connections than others (a V-6 engine has more connections to the other parts of the car than the floor mat). "The more connections you have, the more possible influence. Networking brings influence." (O'Connor, McDermottt, "What is a System," page 15). So the Bible has more connections to other parts within Christianity, but it is certainly not the only part. We also talk about states. If the Bible has a single interpretation then it has a single state. Therefore, the way in which it interacts with the other parts doesn't change. But we know that there is not a single interpretation of the Bible, there are many. That means that for that single part, each and every differing interpretation is a different state which means that it interacts differently with all the parts it is connected to, meaning the number of different interactions skyrockets.

So I think regardless of whether or not their should be a single interpretation of the Bible or if there should be many interpretations, should is an irrelevant word. There are. That’s the only observation that’s important. The Phelps clan embrace one interpretion. A hate-filled one. Thank God there are other people that embrace different interpretations and still others that don’t embrace the Bible at all. As Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf once said:
Quote:…the battle front is not between Muslims and non-Muslims. The real battle front is between moderates on all sides of all the faith traditions and the radicals on all sides.

So while what you see in the Rorschach Bible tells us a lot about who you are, what you see is influenced by many forces external to you, not the least of which is your material reality, which in the States today is shit.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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10-11-2011, 09:50 AM
RE: The Phelps
I'm with Matt here. All the Christians I know are appalled at what WBC says and does. They see the bible as saying that homosexiality is wrong, but saying "god hates fags" is an extreme version of what the bible does say. If you read the bible, you'd just as easily come to the conclusion that god hates humanity as a whole (no group is spared the death penalty for something or another - besides the non-existing "blameless" people).

Better without God, and happier too.
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11-11-2011, 09:01 AM
RE: The Phelps
No group of Christians has the right to hold up the bible as a reference of authority! Not the homosexual hating Phelps or the most liberal bible interpreteurs. Every christian I have ever known has held the bible as their (and mine) book of some rules. Sorry folks, I don't dance to any part of the bible and the moral highground is mine!
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