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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2013-05-15 05:10
Subject: [religion] In which we discover that I may be a Wheatonist
Security: Public
Tags:funny, personal, radiantlisa, religion
Yesterday, Lisa Costello and I were talking about religion, as we are sometimes wont to do. I am somewhat infamously an atheist, from a Calvinist background. She is a serious Shambhala Buddhist, also from a Protestant background.

What prompted the conversation was this comment on my blog, from Stevo Darkly, partially excerpted here:
I suspect Jay is as “saved” as he needs to be. The Catholic theologian Karl Rahner posits the concept of the “anonymous” Christian. Horrible label, but basically it means if a person lives as Christ would like, they are effectively a Christian. [...] Certainly Jay lives a life as loving and tolerant and kind as any sort if Christ or God could want. Better than most self-claimed Christians.

I felt both complimented and amused by Stevo's remarks, and took them in what I am fairly confident was the spirit intended. As it happens, Lisa and I have an ongoing dispute about whether I'm a good Buddhist or a bad Buddhist. Which is also pretty amusing, given my active commitment to atheism. The serious underpinnings of that dispute parallel the comment above, to the effect that Lisa claims I live my life much the way I would if I were trying to be a good Buddhist.

I observed that in simplistic terms, most constructive religious commandments boil down to Wheaton's Law: "Don't be a dick." I'm not talking about the religious commandments about not eating shrimp, or avoiding cheeseburgers, or hating on gay people, or wearing magic underwear, or whatever. Those are tribal in-group signifiers, not moral guidance. I'm talking about the whole not bearing false witness thing, not coveting your neighbor's ass in a non-consensual fashion, do as you would be done by, an it harm none, and so forth. Those are affirmative statements of social principle. (Some of which may of course also be tribal in-group signifiers.)

So I suppose if I were to subscribe to a religion, I'd be a Wheatonist. My religion would have one commandment: "Don't be a dick." That's about it. Seems to cover almost everything what needs covering. Living as a Wheatonist, I could be mistaken for an anonymous Christian or a good Buddhist either one.

I think Wil is on to something bigger than he realizes.

Or maybe he already knows it...

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threeoutside
User: threeoutside
Date: 2013-05-15 16:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think the confusion arises because all them religions try to appropriate to themselves those thoughts and deeds that are thought and done by any good human being trying to make the world a better place.
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daveraines
User: daveraines
Date: 2013-05-15 16:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The word "religion" is famously difficult to define, but certainly it includes more than morality. For instance, practices: Buddhists meditate, Christians pray, etc. So I'm wondering what the practices of a Wheatonist are. Perhaps a nightly devotional viewing of _Star Trek: The Next Generation_ ? And of course you must put the symbol of the church on your bumper: a "no" symbol (red circle with slash) superimposed on a famous Dick (Dick Nixon, perhaps: I assume that's the origin of the phrase "don't be a dick"...).
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daveraines
User: daveraines
Date: 2013-05-15 19:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think you might not fit in at Wheaton College, though.
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When life gives you lemmings...
User: danjite
Date: 2013-05-15 16:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"Where there is Wil, there's the way..."
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russ: zen
User: goulo
Date: 2013-05-15 16:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:zen
With all due respect to Wil Wheaton, I'm pretty sure he wasn't the first person to come up with that idea. :)
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Karen
User: klwilliams
Date: 2013-05-15 17:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wil Wheaton is going to get rich by founding his own religion.
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2013-05-15 17:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Living as a Wheatonist,

so being gluten free would be ....
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Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation: Showtime!
User: johno
Date: 2013-05-15 18:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Showtime!
Bill & Ted beat him to it: Be excellent to each other.

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Bob
User: yourbob
Date: 2013-05-16 02:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
But that's different than simply not being a dick. IMHO anyway.
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russ: zen
User: goulo
Date: 2013-05-16 12:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:zen
I also thought of the Bill & Ted quote, and also decided it was a somewhat different "religion". More actively benevolent.
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David Wilford
User: David Wilford
Date: 2013-05-15 18:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Here's a Wheatonist billboard located in North Dakota:

http://becomingmidwestern.areavoices.com/files/2012/10/tumblr_m9lj0m1ZXp1qztjo9o1_r1_1280.jpeg

The backstory is that a sign company has to put something on unused billboards, so they opted for "Be kind" "Smile" and other such North Dakotan koans. Be Grateful.
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Max Kaehn: MAX ZEN
User: slothman
Date: 2013-05-15 19:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:MAX ZEN
When you boil down the Eightfold Path and the Ten Precepts, they pretty much come down to “don’t be a dick”, anyway. (As I see it, the rule is “be mindful of cause and effect” and the Eightfold Path and the Ten Precepts, both of which violate the constraints on working memory, are just quality assurance checklists for testing your mindfulness.)
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Laura Anne Gilman
User: suricattus
Date: 2013-05-15 20:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You are a kinder person than I, because being told I was a "good Christian" would certainly irritate the hell out of me. But there's a history of forced conversions there, so I may be hyper-aware.


My only problem with "don't be a dick" is that it's genderist.

"Don't be an asshole" works just as well, and covers the full spectrum (since anyone who claims not to have an asshole is surely full of shit...)
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Tom
User: voidampersand
Date: 2013-05-15 21:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wil Wheaton is wise and "Don't be a dick" is a good philosophy. But that doesn't make it a religion, at least not yet. Maybe if it accumulates followers and they develop practices that help them not be dicks.
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Msconduct
User: msconduct
Date: 2013-05-15 22:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I know nothing about theology, but I'm surprised at Karl Rahner's concept. From discussions with Christian friends (I'm no expert on the Bible either), I've come away with the idea that the Bible says your deeds (ie living as Christ would like) are irrelevant: accepting Jesus is the only thing that matters. SO you can live your entire life doing good works and refraining from ass-coveting and you will still go to hell if you haven't acknowledged your belief in Jesus. This makes no sense to me and is one of the many things I find impossible to swallow about Christianity.

Having said that, I don't like Rahner's idea either, from the point of view that Jesus doesn't get to claim you just because you happen to have the same moral code. I don't require any help from the Bible in deciding for myself what is right and wrong, and so Jesus doesn't get to claim any of the credit.
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User: lindadee
Date: 2013-05-15 23:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Don't even try to understand the concept of the "elect." I had to study that as part of the Puritan establishment in the U.S. when I was a history major.
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LiveJournal: pingback_bot
User: livejournal
Date: 2013-05-16 01:18 (UTC)
Subject: going Into Darkness
Keyword:pingback_bot
User kradical referenced to your post from going Into Darkness saying: [...] being rather firmly agnostic, but if I had to pick an "ist" to go with, I'd follow Jay Lake's lead [...]
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Lethran: Angel
User: gwyd
Date: 2013-05-16 08:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Angel
When I was teaching middle School, kids would periodically come up and ask me what denomination of Christian I was. (I am a Buddhist from an Episcopalian background, but I had a strict ethical stance about not discussing my personal religious or political beliefs with the students. Proselytizing for either was right out). I would ask why they were asking, and the response was generally along the lines of they thought I was really ethical and they wanted to know what religion made that. I would explain to them that people could be atheist, agnostic, or non-monotheists and still be good ethical people and that being a member of any particular denomination or religion did not guarantee that someone would be a good person. I would then explain my ethical reasons for not disclosing my own affiliation if any.

This would generally blow their minds. It was a whole new idea they'd never encountered before. This still makes me sad that so many people so seldom are exposed to that idea.

I think a Wheatonist is a good thing to be and "Don't Be a Dick" is an excellent rule for living.
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