Wow, That Was Some Vacation!

No, not really, I just had to think of a title. Where’ve I been? Well, I’ve been addicted to Twitter, but don’t want to inflict my inane Twittering on you folks, so no widget in the sidebar for me. Nosiree.聽 I’ve been around though. Trying to read more, trying to get my shit together as they say. I’ve kind of gotten fed up with the internet sometimes because the political climate is not conducive to good debate. All I can hear is screaming from both sides and it annoys me. So, I’ve stayed out of it.

On another front, I’ve tried to keep up with wonderful blogs like Kittywampus (now on WordPress) and Figleaf, who’re both excellent sources of thoughtful thorough posts about gender issues. I’ve been thinking a lot about these things and finding some new sources through Twitter. But just today, I got a whopper of a comment to one of my posts about patriarchy over at De-conversion blog.聽 Somebody didn’t get their cave man Wheaties this morning! Check out EK’s comment here. He’s comment #15. I had taken a break from the internet precisely because there were Neanderthals out there just waiting to pounce. Now, I know that I don’t do my research as thoroughly as the aforementioned blogs because I’m not a professional academic, but I do have an opinion and I express my opinion whenever I have a strong one. And I usually think I’m pretty respectful of another’s opinion if they are making attempts to be fair and listen. However, this guy’s (and I assume it’s a guy with the reference to women as objects, i.e. “accompaniment” as he puts it) comments were so way out of line that I wondered if perhaps he wasn’t one of those who like to drive by and stir the pot a bit just to make people angry. Still, I’ve come to expect this type of thing.聽 It’s not a surprise. The level of hatred is sometimes a surprise, but the sentiment he expresses is not. It proves just what my point is in the post.

So, I realize that there will always be people out there who hate your viewpoint. There will always be people who refuse to grow up, refuse to take responsibility for their words and actions, and who refuse to be civil. They aren’t my problem. And this type of behavior isn’t just for so-called “right wingers.” I’ve seen the same hate spewing from the left and the middle and from anyone who claims to be speaking from a “cause” they feel deeply wedded to. Such anger and hatred though is not worthy of any cause. No one should be so associated with a cause that attacks on it will shred their self esteem.聽 I think I’ve finally come to the realization that there will always be jerks out there like EK and that we can do nothing about it. We can politely inform, we can plitely give our opinions (as EK does and has every right to do), and we can politely respond. We should expect responses from the “drive by commenters” because there are always those who won’t do the hard work of research, reading, and thinking for themselves. Like children, they are just mad because someone took their playthings (women?) away. They throw tantrums and get angry and even threaten violence, because that’s what it usually comes to with the self absorbed.

So, hopefully, freshly invigorated from lightly ‘wraslin’ a snake such as EK, I can steer you to some great posts like this, and this, and this. If the commenters can’t play nicely, then I’m sure they can find a hole to crawl back into somewhere. All this thinking surely must hurt their brains. (and don’t call me Shirley) 馃榾

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New Perspective on “Old” Temptations

Explorefaith.org has always been one of my favorite Christian web sites. Produced by the Episcopal Church and those in ecumenical communion with them, Explore faith has been one of the few places that has ever challenged my faith in new ways. Their gentle spirit is evident and best of all, on their About Us page, they do not list the bible as their chief idol (unlike some christian churches, web sites, domains, etc.) I like that, mainly because the one turnoff of the fundamentalism I left behind was the insistence that God only works in the world through this one set of writings. This extremely limiting belief keeps millions from fully understanding the love of God, whatever that is or wherever that may be manifested in the world.

Michelangelo Eve detail

Michelangelo Eve detail

This view of scriptures has kept me from acknowledging a merciful and loving Deity precisely because belief in this prohibitive doctrine is so insidious to an individual’s thought processes. Again, mine were damaged I think by the incessant drilling into it of dogma and doctrine聽 insupportable from the evidence offered outside of a few lines of ancient text. Sure, there are great things in the Hebrew and Christian texts that, together, comprise the “bible.” However, there are great things in all the world’s spiritual texts, each of which display a facet of human understanding about this thing most call “God.” However, when we elevate what others have said about God and ascribe qualities to this written body of experiential knowledge; qualities that should only be ascribed to Deity, we tread on dangerous territory I think. When is it good to part company with established dogma when it runs counter to what we know to be true from experience? Our growth is stunted and eventually spirituality dies out if we constantly deny and repress true experience. One’s spiritual, mental, and physical life cannot be circumscribed to such a degree and remain any kind of life at all.

With that in mind, I have had to restructure my faith in such a Deity and simultaneously re-examine my relationship to that particular book, which, for many, many years, became almost a talisman for me. I’ve been half afraid to pick it up again and read it because of the ingrained processes that fundamentalism implants into the unsuspecting brains of those of us who were too open and eager and hungry for spiritual food to be very discerning. Yet I didn’t want to dispense with the wisdom in it altogether. I knew that Progressive Christians such as the Quakers and others gain much insight and wisdom when they put scriptures in their proper context. I needed to recognize that the trigger for me was trying to absorb everything within the bible’s pages as absolute and unequivocal truth, unprocessed through human thinking; in other words, seeing the bible as straight unfiltered God-talk. When in fact, it’s not God-talk but Human-talk with a God-tinge.聽 There is truth contained it it, but it’s spiritual truth and not necessarily factual truth; something the individual soul must discern for herself.

With that caveat, I’ve been wanting, during this Lenten season, to re-examine my beliefs because frankly, I miss them (and truth be told, I miss examining them, which is what this blog started out to do). Explorefaith has wonderfully pragmatic resources for processing Lent, one of which is to journal your way through it. This isn’t a new practice, but they do ask good questions. This Sunday was the 4th Sunday in Lent and the journaling prompt was this:

Week Four: TEMPTATION
All that we desire in life is not beneficial to us. We often are pulled away from what is helpful and healthy because we feel a lack of excitement, energy and enthusiasm in our life as it is. The seed of temptation begins to grow subtly within us, and we begin to find ourselves moving in a direction we had not planned, a direction we know is risky, a direction that promises more than it will ever deliver. Dealing with temptation is as much about rediscovering the wonder of our current life as it is about avoiding that which is alluring and seductive. Lent invites us to turn from temptation by turning toward what is helpful and healthy for us and finding there again what is life-giving. Take time this week to return to what feeds your life and captures the best part of your passion and soul.

journaling questions:
What in my life has become so familiar that I am tempted to find something new, and how can that familiarity be revived so that its previous exhilaration is restored?
* In my family?
* In my work?
* In my community?
* In my soul?

I have some problems with some of the assumptions in this meditation. First, how do we know that moving in a new direction “promises more than it will ever deliver?” Second, why is temptation always described as harmful? Now it’s clear that when people think of temptation they think of two words: sex and food. Nobody ever says that they are tempted by too much reading or excessive writing practices. The visceral reality of sex and food make those the chief targets of what I think can be called temptation politics in the church. We are considered lustful or gluttonous most times and our inclinations are always toward satisfying these two things we are told. Or are they?

I am a pessimist by temperament, which is why fundamentalism appeals to me.聽 I can easily believe that humans will do the worst thing in all circumstances. However, if I’m honest with myself, I have to concede that there is equal evidence to the contrary; that humans more often than not do the generous thing and it’s been proven to me over and over (thank you Pelagius). Yet, temptation from the pessimists view stems directly from the Augustinian approach to Genesis and to that doctrinal bugaboo called “Original Sin.”聽 It’s always fascinating to me that in the Adam and Eve myth in Genesis 1 and 2, God put into a mythical Garden a man and then what does he (sic) put in next? No, not the animals, even though they did go in next. No, God puts in Eve and a tree to eat from (e.g.聽 sex and food). (foot note 1) And yet…. and yet, God puts in another tree and says, Don’t Eat This. Now really, was that necessary? I ask you.

I would argue that God knew exactly what he was doing by introducing all the things necessary for a good and reasonable and happy life in that Garden. You know what Adam was probably thinking, “SWEET! Two things that any man could want; sex and food” objectifying both of course.聽 Both sex and food seem to me to be necessary processes to life in general and necessary to help us learn and grow. God knew full well that life in the Garden would have its limits and that his “children” would be unhappy. Like an obedient child Adam took the instructions God gave him literally, but Eve, bless her, decided she was going to trust that this God knew what was good for both of them and gave her the tools necessary to bring it about; in other words, the implications were more important than the outright commands. She was probably thinking, “Food and sex are great, but really, what’s it all for?” Besides that, God didn’t tell her not to touch the tree, he only told Adam, who always had to have things spelled out for him and probably was a little scrupulous to boot. So Eve took it upon herself to find out what that other tree was all about and voila! The model for modern sexual relationships was born, well at least the heterosexual ones anyway, and knowledge of good and evil fell into the world in one stroke. Pandora’s box in Hebrew form. Hmmm, yes. This story does sound suspiciously like one of those etiological myths that attempt to explain how things came about after the fact. A biblical “Just-so” story if you will. Interesting. The Hebrews were probably working up to something here and had to cover all the bases when they were recreating their religion from scratch. (see footnote 2)

So, back to temptation. Rather than look at temptation as something that makes us stray from the tried and true and even worse as a command to never question our situations, why not look at temptation as a way to further personal growth? Temptation could merely be opportunities to see things in a new way and perhaps change course because of them. Now I’m not saying giving into drug abuse as a temptation is an opportunity to growth. Discernment in this area is needed. But isn’t that the key to everything? Discernment? Why must biblical myths always be interpreted as dire warnings about impulses God knew very well we would have and even built them into the “Garden” to prove it? We are all born with drives common to the majority of us. The trick is to separate the trivial temptations from the ones that inspire growth. Can we possibly distinguish between the two? And this is where individual conscience and discernment come in. Much like how I’ve had to teach myself to read the bible with a critical eye, I’ve also had to learn which things are “temptations” and which things are true nudges to move in a new direction.

In that case, I would ask my own questions for journaling:

  • Where is the balance between being satisfied with the familiar and stretching our horizons?
  • Where’s the balance between self-justification and rationalization of “sin” and knowing what’s good for our lives and acting on it?
  • How can we move beyond mere proscription and into a mature decision-making mindset?
  • When is it good to part company with established dogma when it runs counter to what we know to be true from experience?
  • How does the fundamentalist wash cycle of “sin, repent, rinse, and repeat” defeat the purpose of living life in a loving, purposeful, and fulfilling manner?
  • And finally, where in all this does the role of individual conscience begin and where does adherence to ancient “principles” end if the ancient principle no longer fit into modern society?

Discuss…. or better yet…. Journal!

—————————————-

Footnote 1:

We won’t get into the feminist issues of the bible’s claim that Eve was created “for” Adam and not as an active agent in her own right. It’s obvious the biblical myth makes Eve simply a biological tool for Adam’s libido to act upon and a “foil” for what comes next. This interpretation is a necessary dogma of fundamentalism and every fundamentalist religion reinforces this idea; women are made for men’s USE. Period. That’s what it boils down to when you toss aside all the “yes, buts” they offer in rejoinder. Women are to produce men’s offspring and take care of all men’s needs.聽 That’s it.

Footnote 2:

Here’s one very good reason the bible cannot be taken literally as written and especially Genesis, nor can we see it as any way chronologically set down by God. Notice the injunction inserted into Genesis 2:24 which says that a “man shall leave father and mother, etc.” Uh, forgive the obvious, but there were no parents at this point, only Adam and Eve, right? Who’s speaking here? Who’s father and mother? And if Adam’s is not meant, who’s? There aren’t even any children to lecture at this point.

Can we be rationalists in fact?

After a recent post of mine on here called Where Does The Buck Stop?, someone who reads this blog suggested that I might think about removing my own final comment on it. 聽This comment was made at a time of turbulence, and the suggestion was that I had exposed my evident disturbance too much to public scrutiny. Since I am a contributor to this blog, I can delete my own posts and comments. 聽I’m grateful to this person, who had my best interests at heart, but the fact that I have decided not to delete that comment started me thinking about the internal forces which influence our actions, and what governs our choices.

That un-deleted comment shows that we are often not as in control of ourselves as we would like to be. 聽My internal demons could prompt me to fly in the face of my own advice, and start blaming anyone else but me for something going wrong in my life. 聽However, the hopeful part is that it’s clear that I knew that, and said so. I’m definitely not trying to present myself as being some kind of self-aware authority, but simply to say that, as well as plunging us into despair, our internal dialogue can drag us back from the abyss as well as prompting us to hurl ourselves into it. 聽We have choices, and making the right choice can be redemptive and re-invigorating.

The processes which bring us to these points are of course obscure because they are subjective. 聽We can only judge the outcome by results – by the “fruits” as Christians are wont to say. 聽That comment shows me feeling I’ve got myself into a bad place, desperately trying to claw my way back. 聽I now feel I have done that. 聽Whether I’m right or wrong is of course impossible to say for sure until the game’s over, if we know anything at that point. 聽So the woolly business of “feeling right” is about all that’s left to those of us who don’t run our lives on external absolutes gathered from the Bible, the Koran ETC. So how we account to ourselves for our actions, when faced with difficult choices, inhabits the same subjective world of experience in which any “faith” or “religious” experiences live. 聽Crucial choices may be made by standards which won’t be apparent to anyone outside ourselves; 聽actions which may appear plain crazy to others. At those times, like Martin Luther, we have nothing on which to stand but conviction.

In a recent post, MOI said: “I will say that faith is not the final answer to anything and that science can better explain the actual world of our senses far better than faith can, so trying to make societal rules from such an experiential medium is not a good idea.”聽 The other starting point for this post was a feeling that I needed to respond to that quote, without disagreeing with it. As MOI says, we can’t start telling others what to do on the basis of individual or group conviction. 聽As a side note however, having established that principle, I wonder how evils such as slavery might have been eradicated if left to the free market, were it not for the convictions of people like Wilberforce and Lincoln. But I do agree with MOI in principle about the dangers of applying our internal drivers to the choices of others.

To go back to our internal world, it’s clear to me from my own recent experience that we can’t look to rational quantification for answers. As someone who has lived much of his life in head mode, I have recently been driven to the realization that our inner feelings, what we describe as “heart”, will often be the arbiter of our actions and our sense of responsibility for them, as it is for faith as one possible determinant of the human conscience.

I wish U.S. readers a peaceful public holiday today, and the rest of us a productive Monday.

BritishReg

Time For a Repost: What is Reasonable Evidence?

There comes a time when some things have to be reiterated. Now is the time:

ev路i路dence: 1. A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment.

rea路son路a路ble: 2. Governed by or being in accordance with reason or sound thinking: a reasonable solution to the problem.

There is much talk about reasonable evidence for or against faith in the blogosphere. Many have gone to great lengths to outline what they believe is evidence. Others have gone to equally great lengths to refute such “evidence.” What difference does evidence make to things we believe anyway? Philosophers and theologians tell us that in order to engage in true debate, we must base our conclusions on sound evidence. But what is “sound” evidence? Reasonable evidence to some is hardly reasonable evidence to others. “Evidence” can also be manipulated. All you have to do is follow the debates here on the Internet to know that no one accepts another’s evidence unless they experience it for themselves, yet each will claim that they can convince others of the propositions they put their faith in. Hardly anyone is convinced by debate, so why do we engage in it?

In fact, more hurt feelings and vicious responses are generated by Christian/Christian and Christian/Atheist debate than any other discourse. (Atheist/Atheist debate is tame and reasonable by comparison) This hardly puts either camp in a good light. In fact, according to the bible, the Christian is supposed to avoid such useless debates because it leads to impiety:

2 Tim. 2: 14 Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. 16Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, 17and their talk will spread like gangrene.

So what is reasonable evidence exactly and how is it to be presented, if at all? Should we judge evidence by the consequences to the believer? Doesn’t this Kantian thinking presume that we KNOW what the consequences are before the debate actually begins? Christians think they are sure what the consequences are, as witnessed by the LeaderU article cited above and quoted below:

Some are tempted to apply the rule that “the more critical the decision, the clearer the evidence must be.” They demand that the evidence for Christianity must be extraordinarily and especially clear to win their allegiance. The problem with this standard is that it assumes that there are no consequences to the decision. If, however, there are cataclysmic consequences to the observer, he will have to settle for “sufficient evidence, or the most trustworthy evidence.”
The more appropriate rule is: “The more severe the consequences, the less we should take risks.” Therefore, even if biblical Christianity has a less than one-in-ten-million chance of being true, we should accept it because the possibility of an eternal Hell is such a great torment. If the available evidence shows that biblical Christianity is “the most trustworthy” of all religions, then we are on even firmer ground.

But this is presuming too much. How do Christians KNOW what these consequences are, except by their own interpretation of the bible? No unbeliever agrees to the premise that the bible is true or that it is an appropriate starting place for finding any kind of evidence for faith. The bible is only SECOND HAND revelation, if it’s revelation at all. No one has ever proved that the Christian bible comes from God anymore than Muslims have proved that the Koran comes from Allah. You can’t start there, sorry. It’s not evidence. If you do start there and assume it’s evidence, then why not believe the Koran’s version of consequences or the Rig Veda’s version of consequences? Why aren’t they evidence as well? You can’t pick and choose your supposed scriptural evidence without including all of them. How does the Christian know that God doesn’t speak through every religious scripture?

Besides the supposed a priori arguments mentioned above, there is no evidence from actual lived experience (a posteriori) that there are ANY consequences after death for what we BELIEVE in. Nor is there any evidence that there are consequences after death for any action whatsoever. It’s a matter of faith to presume this, not actual evidence. People assume a thing and then presume it backwards to cover all the areas they think they need evidence for. Some choose to accept all such “evidence: on faith. Some choose not to. The bible itself has to be accepted on faith. An individual chooses to make it binding for them. But, that individual cannot turn around and make it binding for anyone else; that’s not an option. Just because YOU believe it, does not mean everyone else has to believe it or is similarly bound by it without evidence of its veracity.

The opposite is also true. The atheist cannot convince the theist that God does not exist. Faith is an emotion after all, regardless of what some Christians claim. It is an emotional response first and foremost. The so-called “sinner’s prayer” is a “magic” formula designed for this very purpose, to elicit an emotional response of faith in the person saying or thinking the prayer. Coupled with the altar call, it’s a powerful thought binding and spiritual ceremony. It’s not supposed to be based on reason. No one is ever presented with reasoned arguments for faith and Christianity and are then offered the sinner’s prayer. Faith works IN SPITE of reason not because of it. This is why religionists indoctrinate children, because their reasoning faculties are not fully developed and they accept everything on faith.

Yet, in spite of these arguments we forget that the very first thing learned in science classes is that any evidence must be falsifiable to be considered evidence at all. Consider the definition of falsifiability:

Falsifiable does not mean false. For a proposition to be falsifiable, it must be possible, at least in principle, to make an observation that would show the proposition to fall short of being a tautology, even if that observation is not actually made. The logical precondition of being able to observe something of a given description is that something of that description exists.

For example, the proposition “all swans are white” would be falsified by observing a black swan, which would in turn depend on there being a black swan somewhere in existence. A falsifiable proposition or theory must define in some way what is, or will be, forbidden by that proposition or theory. For example, in this case the existence of a black swan is forbidden by the proposition in question. The possibility in principle of observing a black swan as a counterexample to the general proposition is sufficient to qualify the proposition as falsifiable.

In other words, if “evidence” is offered that is not at least falsifiable, then it falls short of true evidence because no one can prove the truth of it either way. Take Theism as an example of something that may not be falsifiable. Wikipedia offers this explanation:

Theism may not be falsifiable, if the existence of God is asserted without sufficient conditions to allow a falsifying observation. If God is an unobservable transcendental being then one cannot disprove his existence by observation. It remains quite consistent for a theist to agree that the existence of God is unfalsifiable, and even that the proposition ‘God exists’ is not scientific, but is a matter of faith alone. Theists may also claim to have presentable evidence that verifies the existence of God. This is, of course, a matter of interest for anyone who places stock in witnesses who claim to have seen God or ideas like natural theology鈥攖he argument from design and other a posteriori arguments for the existence of God. (See non-cognitivism.) However, arguments relating to alleged actions and eye-witness accounts, rather than to the existence of God, may be falsifiable.

Remember, others’ revelations of God are not falsifiable and cannot be used as evidence because there is no way to offer falsifying proof that the statement is false. And if we reject the claims of science and try to create our own framework for truth, as Christians and other religionists do, then all are free to create their own framework. You can’t have it both ways.

Why am I offering this exercise in philosophy? Because more often than not, debates about the existence of God, the claims of a Savior or Prophet, or the veracity of the bible usually end up in name-calling and hateful feelings all around. When debates become personal the one resorting to personality has lost the argument. There is no use for debate that seeks to prove its thesis by psychologizing the participants. Theists and Atheists alike are hell-bent on convincing the other side that their arguments are true and the others’ false. To what end? So that we all believe alike? Do you honestly think this will ever happen? Are theists basing their salvation or reward in heaven by how many non-believers they can convince to have faith? Will they get something special if they are successful? I can see the reward for atheists. Who doesn’t want a logically thinking and reasoned population? Working for the good of all humankind regardless of personal beliefs or reward is a sign of maturity and good sense. Helping others always benefits us as a society despite what we believe about deities. Why isn’t this enough of a motivation for action?

Church Detox

Emerging Grace’s blog has an interesting post about detoxing from church. Obviously she is writing for those who are still Christian. She writes:

The Penguins Formerly Known as the Waddle

I have news for you. Many of us are headed down a path where we will no longer fit in with church as usual.

There is a path of detox and deconstruction that leads to an understanding of the underlying problems in the system of church that Christianity has functioned in for many years. Most who follow this path still have an appreciation for the traditional church although they can no longer wholeheartedly embrace the packaged religious experience.

To be honest, I tire of the assumption that those who come to this place are simply bitter and critical. The reason that Bill’s post, The People Formerly Known as the Congregation, hit the blogosphere with such a splash is because there are so many people who sense the validity of the issues he addresses in his post…

Read the rest here.

Truth and the Clash of Civilizations

I read this article about the real problem inherent in philosophical discourse today. It’s not western vs. eastern world civilization nor political right vs. political left. No, the clash is between “pragmatic relativism and dogmatic certainty.” Julian Bagginni writes,

How did we get to this dismal Hobson’s choice? (link mine) The finger of blame has to be pointed largely at academics and intellectuals who have been so keen to debunk popular notions of truth that they have created a culture in which the middle ground between shoulder-shrugging relativism and dogmatic fundamentalism has been vacated…

Consider, for instance, how what passes for common sense about morality has been turned on its head. For millennia, most people believed that right was right and wrong was wrong, and that was all there was to it. Now, university lecturers report that their fresh-faced new students take it as obvious that there is no such thing as “the truth” and that morality is relative. In educated circles at least, only the naive believe in objectivity. What was shocking when Nietzsche first proclaimed it at the end of the 19th century became platitudinous by the start of the 21st…

Bagginni makes excellent points about how things are not always “relative” when it comes to truth, and that there can be “right” and “wrong” as a standard for everyone if we just relieve it of the language of certain schools of philosophy and place it back in the scientific camp. The problem is when those in academia redefined the term “truth” to mean whoever holds the power. While power IS a good indication that we should begin questioning the “truth” offered to us by those in power, it is not good to redefine those concrete things that we know for sure because of research, science, etc. simply because there is a power behind it. Bagginni writes,

Ironically, like many left-leaning intellectuals, Rorty thinks that denying objectivity and truth is politically important, as a way of liberating people from the ways of seeing the world promoted as the Truth by the powerful. However, it turns out that Rorty and his ilk seriously misjudged what happens if intellectuals deny truth stridently and frequently enough. Far from making liberal openness more attractive, such denials actually make it appear empty, repugnant and weak compared to the crystalline clarity and certainty of dogma.

And that, folks, is what most people want and are comfortable with; certainty in an uncertain world. I know that’s what I want. I believe this is why we turn to religious rituals and infallible scriptures and all powerful gods, because we feel so helpless in the face of events spiraling out of our control. However, we go down the wrong path when we dogmatize the undogmatizable and make “truth” out of something that was never intended to be absolute to begin with. We also go down the wrong path when we question the facts that science provides and then choose to mistrust those facts in the pursuit of faith. Faith has its place, it just hasn’t learned to stay in it.

Moral Bankruptcy of the Modern Left

Interesting article from the UK’s philosophy blog about the recent Iran hostage situation and the British soldiers. This man makes valid points about the “blame the West” crowd, those who see the West as the bad guy, and makes some cogent observations about the moral bankruptcy of the modern political left movement. Politically, I try to stay mum because I’m somewhat of a progressive with a son in the Army. I support simultaneous but not necessarily mutually exclusive causes sometimes. While I support a strong military for defense purposes, I don’t believe Americans should be the world’s police. I support my son and the Armed Forces 100 percent but believe it’s time to leave Iraq. So, I’m no hardliner either way. You know some movie director said in This Film is Not Yet Rated that pro-military war movies over the centuries have made Americans more warlike. I disagree. Being attacked by terrorists has made Americans more warlike. I don’t buy into the notion that people are morons, hopelessly affected by what they see on TV or in the movie theater. Violent people will see violent films and commit violent acts. Insisting otherwise is just classist bullshit at it’s worst. (This was an excellent movie, by the way, about the movie industry rating system). Anyway, check out the philosopher’s article. 馃檪

ps. I thoughtfully answered Suresh’s questions about blogging and found that I fell into the obsessive stat checking category.