I Can Haz Response? Part I: lainiefig, Yossarian, Snuggiepants the Deathbringer, Andrew, dg, Marcus, Patty O’Green, & nigguh bob

Right, so, I promised I’d respond to the comments on my recent Pajiba Review, but I realized that there’s just too much on there to respond to everything in one comment. But I thought there were a lot of insightful and thought-provoking comments, and so I thought I’d single out some of my faves to respond to.

And then I started responding to my chosen comments and realized that there were even too many of those, so now I’m splitting my responses into two posts. Not that anyone besides me is even reading that thread anymore.

And I want to thank Nicole Fuscia and Dustin Rowles for putting the review on Pajiba in the first place. I think it really speaks to Pajiba’s integrity that the site’s policy of open-mindedness applies to Christians as well as atheists and Scientologists and Marxists.

Now, I do feel the need to address the lack of… well, reviewing in my review. I really honestly didn’t think that review was eligible for CBR. That’s why I marked the original post as a “Regular Read” and didn’t count it towards my CBR count.

And since I was only writing it to satisfy my own obsessive need to review every last book I read, I thought to myself that the only people who would ever read it were maybe Nicole and my three regular readers, who attend my church. I know that those girls are familiar with the contents of these so-called “pink books” (the covers of books for Christian women are so often pink and/or purple), so I didn’t feel the need to get into the details of what the book was teaching.

It was lazy and I’ll admit it. Yossarian, amongst others, was absolutely right when he pointed out that the review was heavy on the opinion and light on the review. BTW, Yoss, I really appreciate your willingness to defend my right to freely believe as I choose, even if you don’t agree with those beliefs. I would absolutely do the same for you, buddy.

I just don’t want you guys to think that I’m normally that lazy when reviewing a book.

But, now: the comments.

Natural 20 and Neodiogenes: Thanks for the book recs; I’ll defs check ’em out.

lainiefig: Madd propz to you. Being a full-time mom has to be the most difficult, but most rewarding job on earth. And thank you for your warm wishes. When I grow up, I wanna be just like lainiefig.

Yossarian: Once again, your assessment of my review was totally fair. I can appreciate that you’re (constructively) criticizing my review and not my beliefs. I really didn’t do a very good job of explaining what the actual book was about.

For clarification’s sake, the book’s stand on biblical womanhood is that women should be excellent workers in the home. This doesn’t mean that they can’t also be excellent workers outside the home, but it does mean that their priority ought to be in the home. So if a woman is the number one salesperson at her sales job, but her husband feels neglected and her children are out of control, then she’s remiss in her spiritual duties to her family.

I know that this might seem like “housewife s***” (as Brenton so eloquently put it). But, as lainiefig can probably tell you, it’s so much more than that. It’s not just keeping things clean and bringing your husband a beer while he watches the game with his friends. It’s being the rock around which the home is built. It’s training up one’s children in righteousness. It’s building a haven for family and friends, a place that exudes love and comfort.

Being this woman requires crazy organizational skills, diligence and discipline, as much intelligence as she can muster (because not even stupid people want their kids to grow up stupid), superhuman patience, a sharp instinct and intuition for understanding her children and her husband (not just to anticipate their every want, but also to sense when getting what they want is bad for them), a hero’s courage (because, as lainiefig can probably also tell you, it can be really, really discouraging and disheartening sometimes) — I could go on and on.

But what I will say is that, according to the Bible, all this hard work is not without reward. Proverbs 31 (that’s right, Snuggiepants’ theme song) says that “her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates” (verses 28-31).

Yossarian also wanted to know: I would be interested to know specific things that you found helpful.

There were a few practical things I found helpful. For example, they provided a table to help the reader organize her finances. They also suggested that the reader prioritize daily time to spend in reading the Bible and praying. With all of the things that a godly woman has to get done in a day, it’s easy to let personal time with God fall to the wayside. They suggest that the reader find an older, mature woman to mentor her and give her advice and simply listen to her when she needs a shoulder to cry on.

Was there anything that you disagreed with?

Actually, the reason that I didn’t this book very much was that there were so many tips that it was a little overwhelming, and, after a while, I couldn’t remember why I thought I ought to practice these things — I was too busy feeling guilty about all the things I wasn’t doing that this book was telling me I should do.

So I guess I disagreed with the insinuation that a godly woman ought to live by tables and flash cards with Bible verses written on them and schedules. I think those things are very helpful, and Lord knows I could use some more structure in my life. But I thought the direction of the book was a little rigid.

In trying to help women be more pleasing to God, I thought they actually obscured Him with all of these practical tips. Let’s not forget the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42).

Martha invited Jesus over and was getting ready for his visit. She was doing all the things a good hostess does, I’m sure. But, when He arrived, the Bible tells us that “Martha was distracted with much serving” (verse 40). When she complained that she was doing all the work while Mary just sat and listened to Him talk, Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (verses 41-42).

Jesus was saying that it’s more important to cultivate a relationship with Him than to get all the housekeeping done. And I did feel like this book actually cultivated more of Martha’s heart in me than Mary’s. That might be because I’m more prone to be like Martha than like Mary, but, then again, so are most people. I wish the authors had taken that into consideration a bit more.

If anyone has a problem with you making your own choices and living your own life as you choose we’ll smack them down for you.

I love you, Yoss. And not just because of that comment, either. You always have valuable insights to contribute to various threads all over Pajiba. Not to mention hilarious jabs galore — congrats on making EE this week, btw.

Snuggiepants said: I mean, actually living your life exactly according to Jesus’ teachings is NOT easy. No. Absolutely not. Radical, radical stuff, that is.

But having a relationship with God? Not difficult in the least. I don’t think it’s meant to be. So I haven’t found any sort of instructional materials (besides, again, the teachings of Jesus) to be necessary.

Amen to that. I mean, books are a nice shortcut, sometimes, and there are lots of books that have helped me to grow in my understanding of the Bible, but the Bible says that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (1 Peter 1:3). Ultimately, we’ll find all we need to please Him in the pages of Scripture.

Snuggie to Yossarian: The man may be the head, but the woman is the neck. And the neck can TURN the head.
–My Big Fat Greek Wedding

HA!! But so true. The woman is the ultimate influence in her family. There are so many examples in the Bible of women who influence their husbands for good (like Abigail) or also for evil (like Jezebel).

Andrew: I’m not trying to attack or deconvert you, but why would you worship a god who thinks that you are inferior? … Now, if you heard this from any other source, how would you respond? Would you say, “Yep, exactly right,” or would you call him out as a misogynist?

Andrew, I want to thank you for even throwing your hat in the ring. I thought your comments were clear and pointed without being disrespectful or disparaging. I know that these sorts of conversations can quickly veer from calm discussion into angry ranting, so I applaud you for having the courage to wade in and ask your honest questions. It requires courage to take a stand on either side of the discussion.

And, to answer your question, I don’t believe that God asks the woman to submit because He thinks she is inferior. In fact, Jesus Himself submitted to the Father, even though He is God (Philippians 2:5-8). God didn’t think Jesus was inferior. And He doesn’t think I’m inferior. In fact, because Jesus submitted to His Father in this, God highly exalted Him (Philippians 2:9).

According to the Bible, He had to create her because man couldn’t cut it by himself (Genesis 2:18). He needed her, not t’other way around.

Now, about what you said from 1 Corinthians 11, that talks about women submitting to their husbands (“the woman” and “the man” — not all women and all men. Women are only to submit to their own husbands (Ephesians 5:22)). I don’t take that as an insult to me or to my intelligence because God doesn’t mean it as an insult.

Back in those days, women were second-class citizens. They couldn’t inherit anything; everything they had was tied to their husbands. They couldn’t have an identity apart from their husbands. But, in the Bible, God calls women co-heirs. That was a pretty big deal for women back then. Their inheritance in heaven wasn’t tied to their husbands. It was only tied to their own personal, individual faith in Jesus.

God values women, and He doesn’t see them as second-class citizens any more than He sees His own Son as a second-class citizen. God elevated Jesus through His submission, and He elevates women through theirs — first to God, and then to their husbands.

1 Peter 3:15

You’re absolutely right. We are to be ready with an answer for our hope. This doesn’t mean, however, that we’ll be able to answer every single question that anyone has. The answer for my hope isn’t something like, “I know God is real because of all of these evidences.”

The answer for my hope is that I measured myself against the standard of God’s holiness and despaired because I couldn’t measure up. But God, through the Bible gave me this good news: the punishment for my sin was laid on Him and the reward for His perfect life was laid on me. And all I needed to do to make this promise mine was to believe that it was true.

And that was the answer I needed. And that’s why I am confident that, when I die, I will be in heaven, where I will see Jesus face-to-face for the first time.

So, I don’t think it’s meant to be an answer for every argument. According to the Bible, only God knows everything. It’s only meant to be an answer for the faith that we have. “Why do you believe what you believe?” I believe it because the Bible tells me so, and I see it proven true every day in my life.

Could atheists say the same? Absolutely. So why do I think I’m right and atheists are wrong? Because what I believe isn’t based on something I’ve deduced with my own reasoning. I’m a human, and nobody’s perfect, which means that I make mistakes. But God is perfect, and the Bible tells us that He doesn’t make mistakes.

That’s not meant to be a “I’m right because God is with me” sort of statement. Anyone who tries to manipulate the Bible to say what they want it to say is distorting the truth. I shouldn’t change the Bible to make it fit my pre-existing worldview. Instead, I should let the Bible form my worldview.

Sorry, I feel like I’m going on a lot of tangents, here. I’ll move on.

Throwing out clearly immoral concepts is fine with me.

But what constitutes a “clearly” immoral concept? Who defines what’s clearly immoral and what’s not? Society? Whose society? Is there really a clearly outline set of concepts that every human being in the world agrees is immoral?

If so, why? Because humanity is hard-wired to a certain level of morality? I believe it is. I believe that God created people with consciences. But consciences can be seared or dulled — my conscience was never meant to be my only measure of morality. The Bible says that this is why He gave us the Law (the Torah, to those of a Hebrew persuasion out there). The Law is meant to show us our shortcomings.

It is not, however, meant to save us. If we could be saved by the Law, then we’d essentially be able to save ourselves. This would mean that we’re capable of living perfectly, but the Bible (and experience) show us that this isn’t possible (Romans 3:10, 23).

So what kind of messed-up God gives His people a Law that’s impossible to follow? Well, He didn’t just leave them with the Law and say, “Good luck with that, suckas!!”

He gave them faith. Every person in the Old Testament who obeyed God did so out of faith and love, not out of fear and duty. Hebrews 11 says that Abraham believed God, and THAT’S what was counted to him as righteousness.

Sorry, another rabbit hole. All that just to say that, if you believe in absolute truth, you believe in absolute truth. And if you don’t believe in absolute truth, then you still believe in absolute truth because that statement is itself an absolute statement (hope that didn’t sound flippant. I just don’t have the time or space to get into all that right now. Maybe in another post).

Imagine a world where every Christian was happy and did good works and fed the poor and saved puppies while all atheists were depressed cynics who only cared about themselves. Even if that were true, it still would say nothing as to the existence of a god. A false belief (or one for which there is no evidence that it’s true) can still inspire people to do good things.

Andrew, seriously, I appreciate the way you think. These are great arguments and I hope my responses do them some sort of justice.

It’s absolutely true that the ends don’t speak to the truth of the means. If that were the case, then Christianity sucks because there are so many people who claim to be Christians whose lives totally fly in the face of everything the Bible teaches. That would be proof that Christianity is not true.

That said, I don’t think that the absence of this world of happy Christians and depressed atheists disproves the existence of God, either.

I agree with almost everything you say here. My only objection is that we should not respect people’s beliefs. We should respect their right to hold those beliefs and we should defend their right to have them, but the beliefs themselves do not automatically get respect just because people have them.

I actually agree with you here, too. One of the greatest things about America is the freedom to believe whatever ridiculous thing you want. That said, some of the things people believe are ridiculous. I mean, believing that you have little aliens living in you and you can pay your way to a higher plane of enlightenment? *eye roll*

(No disrespect to any Scientologists out there. But it does sound pretty far-fetched to me. And I believe that a man rose from the dead and is waiting to reward me in heaven after I die!)

Thanks again, Andrew, for your comments. I wish I could give more time to them, but I’ve already been working on this blog post for two days and I have to move on to everyone else eventually. But if you live in LA, I’d love to get together and chat more about it.

dg: is this book suggesting that all women are called to this role? Can men be called to this role?

The book doesn’t say that all women are called to this role — thanks for asking for that clarification, dg. Pat Ennis is actually single, as am I. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have homes or families. I live at home with my parents. My parents want me to live with them, so I submit to them by doing so. I help clean and cook, but since it’s really my mom’s house, I can attend to this duty and still hold down a full-time job (and spend plenty of time on Pajiba, to boot).

But if they wanted me to get out and live on my own, I’d happily do that, too. I’d take care of my own little home (or apartment, since I live in SoCal and there’s NO WAY I’d be able to afford a house), but since I don’t have a husband or kids, I’d probably have plenty of time to keep holdin’ down that (boring, low-paying) steady job.

As for men, the Bible is clear that their calling is to be the breadwinner in the home and to lead the family. The Bible says that a husband will have to answer to God for the way in which he led his wife and children. Yikes. I’d personally rather not have that responsibility. I’d rather blame our family’s shortcomings on El Hubbo. πŸ˜‰

And, dg, about your responses to jen, Patty, and Andrew — I couldn’t have said it better myself. But I had to try, right? πŸ˜‰

Marcus: Ummm, people, hate to piss on your god parade, but this is Pajiba, “Scathing Reviews, B*tchy People”, and you’ve just read the first review of 2010, hardly scathing, and hardly b*tchy, in fact, quite bible-womanly, which is to say, out of site and earshot, cleaning the home. So, now that you’ve been informed once again that you’re reading Pajiba, don’t you think you’ve been had? ;-P

Fair enough, Marcus; fair enough. That’s my latest New Year’s Resolution: to write a review of which even Marcus would approve.

Did I mention that I never meant for that review to make the site?

Patty O’Green: I have always been taught (conservative upbringing) that if the Bible says it, it is true – no debating.

Sadly, that’s how a lot of conservative upbringings go. Let’s be clear that “conservative” doesn’t always mean “Christian”. I was raised in pretty much the same way as you, Patty, but it’s certainly not how I plan to raise my kids (should I ever have them).

I’m planning to teach them that if the Bible says it, it is true. Now, debate away!

I agree to a point with what Patty said about there being no faith without doubt. We all have doubts; to deny that is pointless. But stuffing them deep down doesn’t get rid of them. Unless one works through those doubts, then they still exist and that faith isn’t anchored in truth, but in tradition.

However, I don’t think the genuineness of one’s faith is proven by overcoming past doubts or disproved by never having been tested. Theoretically, it’s possible to get it right the first time. If someone tells me and my friend a fact and she believes him, but I don’t and have to research the fact for myself to come to the same conclusion, does that mean that I believe the fact more? No, we believe the fact the same; I just took a little longer to come around.

I think, though, that the point is to work through one’s doubts and not around them. God created humans with intellect. It pleases Him when they use it.

nigguh bob: i have a question. if the bible is obviously skewed due to the social context of when it was written, then why was this book written as an interpretation for the purpose of teaching women (a societal roll which changes throughout history) about how to act “right?” Do the authors want women to act how they were told to act in the bible?

I wouldn’t say that it’s skewed because of the social and cultural context. The principles still hold. For example, back in the day, men would greet each other with a kiss on the cheek — something that they still do in some countries. But you generally don’t see that here in SoCal. So when the Bible says to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (Romans 16:16), Christians don’t take that literally. It just means that they’re to greet one another with affection — however that manifests in their culture. In Kazakhstan, that’s cheek-kissing. Here in SoCal, it’s fist bumps and bro-hugs (that’s what I call it when guys go in for the handshake and then turn it into a one-armed hug).

But I digress. The authors never say that they’re trying to teach women how to act “right” in those words, but they do teach the principles behind the verses in the Bible about women. Some of those principles include nurturing one’s relationship with God, prioritizing the family (husband first and then children), and managing the home with excellence.

My biggest problem with the book was that it was awfully specific — in a way that the Bible really isn’t. I know that their intent is to give their readers ways to cultivate good habits and stuff, but giving a girl like me a list of things to do is a surefire way to make sure that I lose focus on the God I’m supposed to be pleasing and instead focus on checking tasks off that list.

***

Okay, that’s all I’ve got so far. alon said some really interesting things, too, and I’m still muddling through how to address them. But I promise I’m working on getting there, and whether it matters to anyone but me and God, I do want to get there.

Thanks for reading, Pajibans. You people are too cool. πŸ™‚

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23 Comments »

  1. cathiehong Said:

    hi jeena! i read your review & skimmed through people’s comments. i don’t know how you’re writing all these responses–i was overwhelmed just reading the comments! two thumbs up to you & your gracious but true words to everyone on pajiba :]

  2. Don Said:

    I like your point about how, without discerning answers fom scripture, “faith isn’t anchored in truth, but in tradition.” I’ve seen that most clearly in my life and can see how others can fall into the same trap of semi-blind obedience to what reflects the acceptable (church) culture rather than what’s true/biblical. You read so much!! I am envious of your exposure to books and am now encouraged to read more. Cheers.

  3. Sue Said:

    Jeena…you are cah-ray-zee!!! Loved your responses and loved how your sincere faith in God’s grace bleeds thru everything you said.

  4. replica Said:

    Hi there Jelinas, you don’t know me except maybe from Pajiba, and I just followed over from a Micheal Cera thread of all things. I read what you wrote in response to a book review I missed out on, and yet I wanted to tell you this:

    You just reminded me of all I love about the Christian people I grew up with. Well done.
    πŸ™‚

  5. Andrew Said:

    Thanks for responding. I was kind of disappointed after the original thread seemed to die after just one day. There’s a lot to read here, and unfortunately I’m busy this afternoon, so I won’t be able to give my replies until tonight.

    But I’ll be back.

  6. Thanks to everyone for commenting. Replica, I find it hilarious that you found me through the Michael Cera thread, haha!! And Andrew, I really appreciate that you want to continue the dialog. I was disappointed when it petered out early, too, especially since I was so late to the party! Looking forward to your comments.

    And Don, Cathie, and Sue — I love you guys. You’re so nice to me. πŸ™‚ I’m so thankful for friends like you, the wisdom of others who wrestled with these questions long before I was even born, and, especially, for the perfect Word of God.

  7. Andrew Said:

    Time for the religion discussion comment creep, where every successive response becomes longer and longer than the one before. I wonder if there’s a law that describes it, like Moore’s Law or Poe’s Law…

    Anyway, I’ll take things in order. First, submission. You say that Jesus submitted to the Father. Weren’t Jesus and God the Father the same entity? Are you an Arian? This question is more curiosity than anything else, and I want to know where you are coming from. As for the submission itself, you say that he submitted and that’s fine by me as far as the argument goes.

    My question then is “why would you want to submit?” For the praise at how good you are submitting? Yeah, thanks God, that makes this subservience worth it. I’ll talk more about this below when I discuss the distinction between belief in a god and worship of a god.

    As far as Genesis and the creation of women, Gen. 2.19 has God creating all the other animals first, then parading them past Adam until he found one he was happy with. He wasn’t, so then God created Eve. (Imagine if he had found one he was pleased with. Eww…)

    You say that Corinthians instructs wives to submit to their husbands, not all women to all men. This seems like hair-splitting to me, and it misses the point. Women shouldn’t have to submit to anyone, including their husbands. Marriage should be a partnership based on equality, not subservience.

    I know that it wasn’t really written by Paul, but how about 1 Timothy 2:11-15 “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing.”?

    While Galatians 3:28 does say all are one in Jesus Christ, there are a lot more places in the Bible that say the opposite, eg, 1 Corinthians 11:3 and 14:34-36, Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18, 1 Tim (as above), 1 Peter 3:1. I know a lot of these are about husband/wife relationships, but they do contradict the Galatians passage.

    “God elevates people through their submission.” I don’t understand this concept, could you please explain it some more.

    Second: 1 Peter 3:15. I think this passage is more to do with explaining to non-Christians why you are a Christian, less with being able to answer all questions. I admit this wasn’t what I was asking at the time, but I think it is important to be aware of your own reasons for believing something even if just to yourself, and especially if you are going out and talking to people about it.

    You say a lot about believing in Jesus and his “sacrifice” because of the Bible and what it says, but what makes you think that the Bible is true or accurate? Personally I would need some independent verification before I accept anything.

    You say that you think you’re right and atheists are wrong because “what [you] believe isn’t based on something I’ve deduced with my own reasoning.” Whaa? This seems to me like you’re saying that your position is inherently unreasonable. Are there any other aspects of your life in which you don’t use reason? What food to eat? Is it still fresh? Do the breaks work in my car?

    Third: the moral argument for God.

    You say that God gave the Hebrews the Law to “show us our shortcomings”. What shortcoming does Exodus 21:15,17 (a child who hits their parents should be killed) deal with? Or Exodus 21:2-6 which talks about how long you can keep a Hebrew slave and how to trick him into serving you for the rest of his life? If me thinking that’s horrible is a shortcoming then I don’t want to be right.

    I do think that morals come from the society that you live in (which is why you think that keeping slaves is wrong but a white plantation owner in Georgia thought that it was great). The morals have changed, which is a pretty clear indication that they are not coming from some unchanging authority. We’re the ones who have made the world a better place, because we wanted to, not because we were told to.

    Now you could say, “why don’t people get together and form a society which is full of murder and thievery? Wouldn’t it be ‘moral’ because that’s what the society decided on?” I suppose some people could, but who would want to? I mean really. Who? And even if they did, how long do you think that society would last? Maybe one generation at most, and then the kids would get together and say “It sure sucks getting murdered!” and form a more “moral” society. Not, “God told us not to murder because we’re too dumb to figure that out for ourselves.” Morals are simply a strategy for coexisting with other people. They’re “good” because they foster a stable, secure civilization.

    “I don’t think that the absence of this world of happy Christians and depressed atheists disproves the existence of God, either.”

    I agree. This wasn’t some sort of stealth conclusion I was hinting at. My only point was to highlight the argument from consequences (which is present in both forms of the argument, pro and con). That is why evidence is what is need to determine whether something is true or not.

    Fourth (or was it fifth): I agree with you agreeing with me about free speech, etc (I’d better agree). America is pretty cool. That doesn’t mean we can’t improve things. Free speech isn’t the only thing which makes this country great (although I think it is one of the few things we do better than anyone else). There is also our drive to improve ourselves and our country; to make things better then they were before.

    Finally I just want to talk a little bit about where I’m coming from so you can understand me better.

    I am an atheist. My definition of atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in any gods or goddesses. This is different from believing that no gods or goddesses exist. That is something that I would call “strong atheism”. The first statement would be “default atheism” (so called because it is the default position that all atheists agree on. Not all atheists would agree with the “strong atheism” position). I am a strong atheist when it comes to most gods and goddesses because: one, there is no compelling evidence for their existence, two, attributes that are assigned to them or stories that are told about them are either impossible or clearly wrong (eg, we know that lightning is caused by charged particles racing between the ground and the air, not Zeus), and three, prior probability and the current state of the universe would make there existence statistically unlikely.

    This of course doesn’t cover all gods. It is possible to invent some amorphous being who is impossible to detect and has no interaction with the universe, yet created it. Okay, I couldn’t be a strong atheist about that particular god, but I would definitely revert to default atheism and wonder how anyone could claim to know such a being existed if it has no observable effects.

    However, I admit that I could be wrong. But it would require compelling evidence (and a lot of it) to convince me. Personal witnessing doesn’t cut it. It can only apply to the person it happened to. What if I went around telling people how I had a monumental experience where I realized that God didn’t exist. Would that make it true? Of course not. There’s no reason for you to accept my story. Just as a personal anecdote about how you experienced God doesn’t make him real either.

    Preaching also doesn’t convince me. You spend several paragraphs talking about how the Bible talks about Jesus and his “sacrifice” and going to heaven.

    Okay. That’s nice.

    This is something I’ve heard call the “Captain Kirk” fallacy. Just because the Bible says something doesn’t make it true. It’s like some Star Trek fan who lives his life by the deeds and saying of Captain Kirk. He even goes around to other people telling them how Captain Kirk did this and that in this one episode and on and on… It doesn’t mean anything to the other people because they may not be Star Trek fans and even if they were, just because Captain Kirk does something does mean that it’s necessarily the best thing in the world to do. It only means that it is something Captain Kirk did.

    The same goes for quoting scripture. I agree with you that that’s what it says about Jesus or whatever, but that’s all I agree on. It holds none of the importance to me that it does to you. It’s as convincing and compelling as saying “Captain Kirk did so-and-so in episode nine of the third season…”

    Finally (yes finally) I want to talk about the difference between belief and worship. Should some compelling evidence that the God of the Bible exists be presented (and it was enough to convince me) then I would of course agree that He exists and would stop being an atheist.

    But that doesn’t mean that I would worship Him. The Bible records him doing far too many vile things for me to ever consider him to be “good”. That also says nothing as to the general setup of the universe. I don’t want to live under some cosmic dictator who wants me to submit to him, or go to hell. I’m a free human being. My life is my own. I think that substitutional atonement is flawed morally and judicially. I think that eternal punishment for finite crimes is immoral. My point is, even if I were to stop being an atheist, that doesn’t mean I would automatically convert.

    PS I don’t live in LA, sorry. I’m freezing up in Wisconsin right now. Still, it’s nice to talk (write) with you.

    • Hey, Andrew, I know I promised you an answer by tonight, but I’ve just spent the bulk of the evening reading and re-reading your comments, and there is just so much to choose from. You’re absolutely right — for the sake of our own sanity, we’ve gotta pick one topic to stick with.

      After re-reading and thinking, I want to suggest that we start with the authority and veracity of the Bible.

      By the way: I was very (very) impressed with your knowledge of the Bible — this is obviously a topic you take very seriously. I think it shows a lot of humility, too, that you are willing to meet a Christian on his (or in my case, her) home turf, even though you don’t believe it’s true.

      Anyway, since my belief and faith are entirely grounded in the Bible and what it tells us about God, it might make sense to start with the root and then work our way out to the branches.

      After looking at the length of our conversation thus far, I don’t want you to feel like you have to discuss this with me, but you seem to be as interested in this topic as I am, and I’d be a fool not to take this opportunity to hear the other side of the argument — an opportunity that only rarely comes my way.

      If you’re busy, please feel free to take as long as you like to reply. Or if you’re just tired of talking about it, that’s fine, too. I don’t want you (or anyone stalking our conversation on teh interwebs) to think I’m trying to force you into this conversation.

      I’m often pretty busy myself (going away this weekend, for example), so I apologize in advance for not always being able to get back to you right away. But I will do my best to get back to you in a timely manner.

      But if you’re as interested as I am, and you’re down… then let’s do this! πŸ™‚

      Thanks for your willingness to participate in this conversation! It’s actually very helpful to me — every point you make causes me to think more deeply about my beliefs. Listening to differing opinions encourages me to really consider why I believe that God is real and the Bible is true. Thus far, I have always come out of these sorts of conversations with a faith that sees a little more, as opposed to just being blind.

      That said, I’m going to have to call it a night — it’s nearly midnight and I’ve got to haul myself to work in the morning. My considerable bulk always feels so much more considerable in the morning. πŸ˜›

      But I’ll have a response to what you said about the Captain Kirk fallacy sometime next week, if that’s okay. πŸ™‚

      You know, it’s funny, but I’ve been on Pajiba for years, and I’m only just now feeling like I’m really making friends on the site. Hope that’s not too presumptuous of me. πŸ™‚

      If it’s not, come visit me in Cali sometimes. As we’ve already established, our winters are much more bearable. πŸ™‚

      • Andrew Said:

        That sounds fine to me.

        Two questions: what format do you have in mind. I don’t want to tell you how to manage your blog, but I think that a separate post would be better and easier to read than a long list of nested comments. But however you want.

        Second, what do you mean by the truth and authority of the Bible? Is it completely truth? Is it only authoritative about Jesus? Anything else? Everything else? Cause it’s clearly not completely true (Bats aren’t birds; Lev. 11:13, 19).

        Anyway, I’ll let you set the discussion and check back again after the weekend. See you then.

  8. Andrew Said:

    One thing I forgot at the end.

    Since this discussion is getting longer and longer, would you like to restrict it to one topic? I’m happy to talk about whatever you like, I just don’t have an hour every night to type 5000 words into a comment field. And you’re probably busy too. Anyway, just a thought.

  9. Andrew Said:

    I don’t know how to embed stuff here (I’ll give it a try) but the New York Times has an opt-ed related to the original discussion:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/opinion/10kristof.html

    • Hey, Andrew, thanks for the link and BIG thanks for the response. It’s great to know that there are people on both sides of this issue willing to dialog, isn’t it? I know it’s been a real challenge (in a good way) for me to think through all of these issues, and while we may not change each other’s minds about the issue, I think we’ll both get a good look at the other side through our discussions. πŸ™‚

      I agree that we should stick to one topic — I still have to write the sequel to this post, and the thought of it is overwhelming me right now.

      It’s been a busy weekend, and it’ll be a busy week, so please forgive me for taking so long to get back to you. But I will get back to you — tomorrow night at the latest!

      Thanks again for your response — I’ve already read it and you said a LOT of interesting things.

  10. Alon Said:

    Looking forward to part II πŸ™‚ I may not agree with you, but you surely did take some time and effort to give thoughtful responses!

    • Alon, you’re #1 on my list of people to reply to in Part II! You brought up a lot of really good points and I want to make sure to do justice to them. It might take me a while because I’m swamped this week, but I will reply!! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my response — as I said in my reply to Andrew, I think it’s great that people on both sides of the issue are willing to dialog about the issue instead of ignoring it or plugging their ears and shouting, “I’m right, I’m right, LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!”

      I’ll post Part II soon! πŸ™‚

  11. welldressed Said:

    Hey Jelinas, this is off-topic but: A little while ago we were joking about kidnapping Prisco, and you mentioned we should meet up IRL. This was just after your review went wide on Pajiba, and so I was a little apprehensive, but your thoughtful comments have turned me around. Hit me up at welldressed@witty.com.

    (Actually it was you quoting The Simpsons that turned me around, but that’s neither here nor there.)

    • Hey, welldressed, I can totally understand your initial apprehension. I’m very relieved and happy that my responses built bridges and encouraged discussion as I intended instead of building walls and offending people, which I’ve also done on occasion, despite my best efforts. And I’m so honored that so many people would even take the time to read my crazy-long blog post. I really didn’t expect even one response because I was so late to the thread.

      Anyhoots, I’d love to hang out, watch movies, talk “Simpsons” (I was very gratified when you said that my quoting the show turned you around). I need a movie buddy — I have very few friends who are willing to watch indies with me, and even fewer who love to discuss them as obsessively as I do.

      I’ll be in touch!! Yay! I haz a fwend!! πŸ™‚

  12. […] kid, dog days, greg heffley, manny, pajiba, rodrick, rowley jefferson, summer vacation } After all the seriousness on Book Bloggy Blogg lately, I thought I’d lighten the mood with a nice kid’s book […]

  13. lainiefig Said:

    Hi Jelinas, thanks for the kind words! Love your long response to that massive thread. You are a brave soul and your faith is inspiring.

    • Thanks, lainie: I really do believe that full-time moms are the unsung heroes of society. They could never get enough credit for the great work that they do. Your kids really owe you for that. πŸ™‚

      BTW, I read your comment on the Worst. Jobs. Ever. You taught at a private school (private school kids are the WORST) and still decided to have kids and stayed home to raise them??

      *bows in awe* I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!

      • lainiefig Said:

        Yep, I figured I’d do better with my own kids than with other people’s kids. I was really surprised how awful it was in a private school. I guess many of them were very spoiled and coddled. I remember one telling me about how his maid bought him his cell phone (and this was in ’97, when few kids had cell phones of their own).

        My kids are much easier to handle, but then they aren’t teenagers yet–we’ll see how I do when we get to that point….

  14. Alon Said:

    I’m still waiting…….

    πŸ™‚

  15. […] you guys gave me a lot to think about. I actually needed to take a pretty hefty break after writing my last post on this topic because it took every iota of my mental capacity to write it […]


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