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[personal] An apology - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-04-19 22:00
Subject: [personal] An apology
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:regretful
Music:not much
Tags:personal
This morning I asked a question in my link salad post which was intended to be a fairly simple question. I did not express myself well, and as a result have a created a great deal of upset and offense for some of my readers.

Regardless of my intentions, that outcome is not acceptable to me. I place a high value on civility in discourse, and I breached that value.

I apologize for the distress I have caused.
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gvdub: food
User: gvdub
Date: 2008-04-20 05:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:food
I didn't think that you were asking anything other than a simple question. However, I've noticed in your writings about religion and faith on this journal a tendency to assign the character of your particular childhood exposure to fire and brimstone fundamentalism rather indiscriminately to pretty much all expressions of religious faith. I think the variety of religious experience and faith is far wider and much more varied than you give it credit for. Think of it as sushi – just because you got food poisoning at a bad sushi place doesn't mean that sushi isn't full of aquatic goodness.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-04-20 15:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As it happens, your metaphor is highly appropriate. I had a very bad experience with seafood at age seven, and will not eat any sort of fish today.

You're right that my own experience often colors my rhetoric, consciously or otherwise. At the same time, I do see the magnificent tapestry of faith, quite clearly. As I've said elsewhere, I'm not a mission to challenge the mysteries of anyone's religion. Even though I'm a raging atheist, I've taken a great deal of care of offer my daughter a spiritual tradition, simply so I don't practice the same arrogance of spiritual certainty I rail against in others.

I get bound up, very hard and fast, when religion comes out of the church door and the living room and enters the schoolhouse, the statehouse, the courthouse. That's where the real arguments lie, for me and for society.
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calendula_witch: Elmo
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2008-04-20 05:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Elmo
Well, you know what they say about religion and politics... :-)
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J.K.Richárd: ONOZ!
User: neutronjockey
Date: 2008-04-20 05:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:ONOZ!
shhhh I'm 2/3rds of the way through Dune, don't make me wax all Herbet on your ass. ;)
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daveraines
User: daveraines
Date: 2008-04-20 06:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>> I apologize for the distress I have caused.

I'd gladly accept your apology, except I'm not feeling any distress myself. I admit I did get an adrenaline rush when I read your question, enough to get me blogging! But I see you performing a public service (at some risk to yourself) by getting these things started. That's why I "rise to the bait," which I mean in the nicest possible way.

FWIW, I'm really sorry hellfire-and-damnation caused you pain, and started you on your path away from the church. I have no authority to apologize, but I will anyway.
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Josh English
User: joshenglish
Date: 2008-04-20 16:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm with Dave. I didn't feel offense. I haven't seen the offended parties' posts yet either, so I'm out of touch, but I wanted to add that no offense was taken, as it didn't seem given.
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Rose Fox: religion
User: rosefox
Date: 2008-04-20 07:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:religion
I've been trying to figure out how that question could be worded in a way that isn't offensive, and I'm failing. Can you explain what this fairly simple, well-expressed, non-offensive phrasing would be?

I don't really understand why you phrase any of this as questions anyway. Your view of religion appears entirely immune to external input; in fact, you seem to have hit your limit there a long time ago. All your discussions of religious topics follow a predictable path: you say something that paints all religions as a) the same and b) dangerous terrible things, other people get upset, you apologize for upsetting them but don't do a thing to address the underlying attitude that causes you to keep upsetting your friends. Until you fix the part where your blanket general attitude to religion overrides your specific knowledge that there are religious people you respect and care for, this is going to keep happening and no one's going to get anything from it except yet another example of an atheist who apparently doesn't grasp how to have a genuinely respectful conversation about religion with anyone religious.

Your expression isn't the issue. It's what you're expressing.
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User: ex_chrisbil
Date: 2008-04-20 08:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:snow!
That illustrates just what a difficult discussion this is to have, as it so depends on personal experiences. I for one find Jay's questions fair and, to be honest, normally pointed down the right path, but I think this is because our personal experiences are similar (judging from a comment further up, which was the first I knew of Jay's earlier experiences with religion).

When carefully formed with thought and experience, opinions can become immune to external input. I stopped taking advice from a lot of people on a lot of things. Y'know why? A lot of people are wrong, or stupid (note that I'm not implying either about you - more thinking of the Daily Mail's circulation figures in the UK, which are my evidence there!!) and if I spent my life being dragged from pillar to post by everyone's advice, no matter how vague, I'd never become anything, let alone my own person.

I hope you don't think I'm trying to argue, just explain another point of view. I have a similar take on Jay's, and I talk very bluntly to many religious people (in the same way they do to me, and if you've ever tried to have a logical discussion with a twitchy evangelical, you'll know that logic need not always apply), but it is because I adore them, and I don't want them to walk blindly into anything without me making an attempt to show them how to be open minded.
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User: ellameena
Date: 2008-04-20 12:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Actually, I had very bad early experiences with religion, myself. My mother is a paranoid schizophrenic, and her delusions center around God and religion. I was very rarely exposed to her at times when she was having psychotic episodes and speaking in "god's" voice, but those times made a deep impression. Even more damaging was extended exposure to her twisted ideas of faith and salvation at times when she was not actively psychotic. Her God is a cruel and capricious God that persecutes her and issues impossible-to-meet ultimata. One defining experience in my mother's life was involvment with a charismatic prayer group which taught faith healing and direct revelation through "prophets" in the group--really very manipulative people who were interested in dominating and controlling others.

I was raised in an agnostic household by my father, and had glancing exposure to various protestant churches growing up. I developed a very jaundiced view of religion and religious belief. Not only did I not have "evidence" regarding God, but I had this tremendous subtext of very negative associations with words and ideas connected with faith. It took me a long time to get over it, but I finally decided I wanted to investigate the religion of my ancestors. I remember being at one of the inquirers meetings and feeling deeply uncomfortable when people spoke of "the Lord" or when the meeting opened with prayer, etc. In time, remarkably fast, in fact, my eyes were opened to the good and wonderful aspects of religious faith--the love and support and encouragement that good people of faith have to offer, the wise and true teachings of the bible, and a way to channel the questions and fears I had deep inside about who and what I am in this world. I also learned that one of the things that set me off so greatly in combination with my mother's illness is the american evangelical doctrine of instant salvation through "accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior." This doctrine is unbiblical and also in a way cruel, twisting a story of wonderful no-stings-attached redemption into a "blame-the-victim" situation where you might not get saved and it's all your own fault.

I'm telling you all of this because I understand exactly where you are coming from, and it is okay with me if you continue to ask these questions in your LJ, or if you want to write to me, that's all right, too. It would be great if you could open your heart a bit more to the possibility that there is something you might learn, but I do understand that at times religion can be a damaging force, both personally and socially. It's only by bringing it out into the open that the damage can be averted or mitigated. For my part, I TRY not to get snippy.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2008-04-20 16:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Catherine, I love the way that you pinpoint "the American Evangelical doctrine of instant salvation." I had similar issues, and it was only after I converted to Catholicism and tried to explain what the "altar call" was to cradle Catholics that I realized just how unbiblical the entire notion is.

For the record, most cradle Catholics in my experience who were raised in the church prior to Vatican II haven't the faintest clue about the meaning of that instant salvation doctrine. They have a hard time wrapping their minds around it. It was a fascinating experience to explain this (as well as the perspective of Hal Lindsey and the Late Great Planet Earth cult) to them, and see their reactions.
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User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2008-04-20 13:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
These two values are fundamentally incompatible, and you're accepting your opponents' framing of the debate.

In stressing civility so strongly, you're actively harming the minority position-- perhaps every minority position.

If you really want to avoid saying anything that is seen as uncivil, you're better off just not talking on this topic and returning to the closet. I'm not going to waste another week in an unwelcome effort to expand the arena of acceptable discourse.
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daveraines
User: daveraines
Date: 2008-04-20 15:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The ongoing discussion is illuminating to me, but isn't anyone else going to accept Jay's apology? "I'm sorry" - "I forgive you"?

One of the definitions of "grace" I like is "You screwed up, but I love you anyway."
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Rose Fox
User: rosefox
Date: 2008-04-20 15:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Interesting. Do you see accepting an apology as connoting forgiveness? For that matter, how do you define forgiveness?

(I recognize that this is a complete tangent, so feel free to ignore it. This particular apology wasn't directed at me, so I'm not in a position to accept it, reject it, or offer or withhold forgiveness; I'm just generally curious about these concepts and how people see them.)
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fjm
User: fjm
Date: 2008-04-20 16:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You didn't offend me at all. We all have our hot buttons.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: hkneale
Date: 2008-04-23 15:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's not just the girls who get a raw deal but some of the boys as well.

Because the FLDS[1] practice polygamy, that mean a large surplus of unmarried men.

Many of these men, as teens, get kicked out, often for the littlest of peccadillos. Suddenly they find themselves in a world they were taught to shun and fear, and have no coping skills, much less any way of becoming self-sufficient.

In the case of the FLDS, it's not simply a case of a practice that hurts women, but a practice that hurts men as well.




[1]Just for the record, because I've personally come across too many people recently who've confused the lot, FLDS are not Mormons.


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scarlettina: Are we there yet?
User: scarlettina
Date: 2008-04-20 17:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Are we there yet?
I accept the apology, Jay, for whatever that's worth. Any offense I may have taken I recognize as a knee-jerk reaction and not a carefully considered response, and you deserve far more the latter than the former, because I know that's how you try and intend to approach things. As I said in response to the original post: I put down the laptop and stepped away from the desk because it's one thing to let your gut respond and another to intellectually recognize your intention.
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biomekanic
User: biomekanic
Date: 2008-04-20 17:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's your LJ, and you're certainly free to post as you will, I wasn't distressed, just not able to articulate my own position, but others did a job of it that I thought better than what I can manage.

I do have this image though, of the hornet's nest of religion, and you with a pointy stick in hand...
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spiderweb888
User: spiderweb888
Date: 2008-04-20 18:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm going to assume that some of the more offensive posters are friends of yours and want you to become a "better" person (ha!). Because if not, then, they're way outa line.

I take *particular* exception to:

"Until you fix the part where your blanket general attitude to religion.. " blah blah blah

Good grief. You do NOT need to be fixed! She's being very disrespectful, not you. I can't believe you put up with that kind of crap on your blog.

(PS I don't know you, jut been reading your blog and, FWIW I find you pleasant, nice, & respectful. )
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: joycemocha
Date: 2008-04-20 19:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Where do you draw the line between faith and coercion?

That is a good, good question, and one that I think needs to be discussed further.

I come from a similar sort of background as you, except that I've found my way back to faith and still managed to keep my independence, my feminism, and my self-respect.

For me, the line is that faith should be able to stand up to questioning on an individual, personal basis. When someone tells me that I should stop questioning my beliefs and where I stand faith-wise and just take it on authority, that raises a huge red flag for me. Where I come from faith-wise, asking the questions isn't a bad thing. Saying "I don't know" or "I don't have the answer for that" is acceptable. Blind acceptance of doctrine, even in the Catholic Church, isn't condoned except among certain authoritarian subgroups (and, sadly, appears to be more prevalent among the younger generation who are practicing faith--eww).

And yeah, in the past I've been told that I was "possessed by a spirit of controversy--" by other women, not men.

Essentially, coercion is about power and control, not about faith. And the moment that your faith becomes a club by which you try to control another person's life and life choices, even your child's choices about their future, it's crossed the bounds of acceptability. Influence is one thing. Demanding control is another.

So far I've not needed to refuse Communion in my home parish because of a bishop or archbishop who has engaged in what I believe to be improperly coercive behavior, especially in the political arena. There are places where I travel where I will not receive Communion because I am not in agreement with the opinions stated by the bishop or archbishop. There are dioceses in this country which are, in my educated, lay, opinion, crossing the bounds of acceptability when it comes to the barriers of church and state.

(And yes, last time I looked, Denver is one of those places. That is, I think Archbishop Chapot is still there. So I'm not planning to go to church there during Worldcon--or at least, go through Communion there)
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AC
User: nymwae
Date: 2008-04-21 09:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay, I think it's amazing and good that you've taken so much time to respond to these lengthy comments. People care, and want to share their thoughts with you and others in *Your* forum. Be encouraged by that. :)
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