Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On Keeping Faith Alive: The Intellect Doesn't Slump

You never know what will attract your attention. While idly shambling around the internet a couple of evenings ago, I found a link on Hugh Hewitt's site to a fellow named William Lobdell, a journalist who covered religion for the dreaded L.A. Times for eight years. However, in so doing, he found a cure for his misplaced faith, and has now published a book called Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America -- and Found Unexpected Peace. I'm sure the book itself is of no intrinsic value, except perhaps as a bad example from which we may derive something useful. Let us try.

Since he is now a bonehead atheist, it is odd that Lobdell still writes about "religion," being that there can be no such thing for an atheist. True, there is a phenomenon that goes by the name of religion, but it can only be a comforting self-delusion at best, a pernicious pathology at worst. Lobdell can have no genuine interior knowledge of the subject, being that there is no interior knowledge to be had. It is equivalent to saying that he blogs about his own ignorance, which hardly makes him unique.

One wonders which one it was for Lobdell, fantasy or sickness? And naturally, the psychologist in me wants to know what it is in him that is prone to pathological fantasies. The reason I say this is because these kinds of mind parasites endure, especially if one has no insight into them. You don't just wake up one morning and say "hallelujah, I'm healed of my delusion!" But that is exactly what Lobdell would have us believe. For 15 years or so he was a self-deluded religious nut. But now, all of a sudden, he has been healed of religion, and has something useful to tell us about God. But it's the same presumptuousness in a different garb. One would think a little humility would be in order from one so easily deceived.

In reality, there must be an underlying psychological continuity, religion or no religion. Whether writing about God or godlessness, he's really writing about himself. While he has every right to continue doing so, I wouldn't recommend it, because he will just dig himself into a deeper hole, while proudly elevating himself above that of which he admittedly possesses no genuine knowledge.

There is a baseball adage that speed doesn't slump. For those of you who are not baseball fans, it means that every hitter, no matter how good, will go into the occasional slump in which he just can't hit the ball. Baseball is a very difficult sport. It's not easy to hit a ball traveling 90 miles per hour, thrown from 60 feet away. But if you possess foot speed, you can always try to bunt for a base hit, or run out a routine grounder, or get a walk and steal a base, or be a pinch runner in a tight ballgame, etc. Plus, your speed can always help your fielding. The point is, there are all kinds of little ways a speedy player can help the team.

We could say that there is a parallel adage in religion to the effect that the intellect doesn't slump. Like baseball, religion is a very difficult sport; it is a long season, with lots of ups and downs. If you are more of an emotional than intellectual person (i.e, a bhakti vs. jnani), it's generally going to be more difficult, unless you possess an unusual degree of equanimity and emotional consistency. Otherwise, there will be times that your faith "goes dry," along with your emotions. In such a case, your faith will have to carry you through the rough patches. In a way, such a practice actually uses the emotions to cure them of their inherent fickleness. Sort of like marriage, in which one can elevate one's emotions by binding them to a single person.

Now, I'm oversimplifying here, being that there can be no gnosis in the absence of subtle emotions, just as a genuine, purified heartfelt faith is surely a kind advanced gnosis. Nevertheless, I imagine that Lobdell's story is not altogether uncommon. For one thing, if one possesses a modicum of intelligence, it will be very difficult to remain religious to the extent that one is only exposed to stupid religion, or if one has only a stupid and childlike understanding of it.

In such a case, any self-respecting intellect will reject religion, and properly so, being that there is no privilege higher than truth. By its nature, the intellect (because it is good) will assent to that which it believes to be true (truth is to the intellect what virtue is to the will). The problem is, for such a person, the intellect itself must be convicted and converted, otherwise it will continue to be one's biggest stumbling block, when in reality, it can be used as the key to the whole existentialada if properly developed.

Again, for the emotional person, his emotions can be either the barrier or the means to faith; likewise, for the intellectually gifted person, his intelligence can be either a wall or a door. Most atheists are of mediocre intelligence, but for those with superior intelligence, something has obviously gone dreadfully wrong (and I'm hardly excusing religion for often presenting itself in such a vulgar and stupid way, although the media plays a big role in this, and makes it easy for otherwise intelligent people to reject it.)

I was listening to Dennis Prager on the way to work yesterday, and he was talking about how the intrinsic stupidity of the left helps to keep his religious faith alive. I fully agree that when you see the absence of light and wisdom in the left, it makes you appreciate even more the timeless wisdom embodied in religion. As Prager was saying -- and I agree with him 100% -- good religion is an inoculation against all kinds of philosophical and political stupidity (and evil). In turn, this realization always prompts a kind of heartfelt gratitude for the light I have been given by so many God-inspired intellects. Not only did I receive nothing during the course of my liberal indoctrination, I was contaminated. Only exposure to the real Truth can undo this worldy contamination. And who wouldn't be grateful for that?

Lobdell has published the story of how he lost his "faith" here. Let's see how many errors we can chronicle in this cautionary tale, in the hope that some other poor sap doesn't fall into them and end up cashing in truth for atheistic sophistries.

Lobdell says that "when the Times editors assigned me to the religion beat, I believed God had answered my prayers. As a serious Christian, I had cringed at some of the coverage in the mainstream media. Faith frequently was treated like a circus, even a freak show. I wanted to report objectively and respectfully about how belief shapes people’s lives. Along the way, I believed, my own faith would grow deeper and sturdier."

Now, Lobdell's first big mistake was presuming to write about religion so soon after he himself had come to it. A more modest person would have given it, oh, I don't know, a good two or three decades before even picking up the pen. Otherwise, there is an overwhelming likelihood that you will only be capable of transmitting error, or superficially blathering about weakly grasped principles. Look at it this way: truly understanding religion takes much more time and commitment than, say, obtaining a PhD in physics, being that the subject is infinite. But what kind of person would presume to write about physics shortly after an emotional experience of "hallelujah, physics exists!"

One can also be sure that if the L.A. Times offers you a job writing about religion, something's wrong. That's like Pravda offering you a job writing about capitalism. Only certain people will be "qualified," if that is the right word.

So that's mistake number one: a kind of hubris that conceals the fact that something very central has eluded his grasp. But even prior to that, there were some red flags. Lobdell says that he came to religion in 1989, when "I was 28 and my first son was less than a year old. I had managed to nearly ruin my marriage (the second one) and didn’t think I’d do much better as a father. I was profoundly lost." A friend suggested that he needed God in his life, and recommended that he attend one of those "mega-churches" that are devoid of either intelligence or barakah, but which rake in millions by fleecing their flocks.

Now, if this were the only kind of religion that existed, I can assure you that I would be an atheist, probably a militant one. Again, the intellect can only assent to what it believes to be true, and for mine to assent to Paul and Jan Crouch, or Bennie Hinn, or Joel Osteen, or Tammie Faye Baker, I would have to be brain damaged (and I don't intend to give the brain-damaged a bad name). I don't even consider these people religious per se, any more than I consider most of what calls itself art to have any right to the name. Yes, some religiosity inevitably gets tossed into the mix, and I am quite sure that many decent people get involved in this kind of thing, but their decency -- or God's mercy -- protects them from becoming completely lost and deceived. I place these people in same category as Deepak Chopra and his ilk. Just two sides of the same coin mint.

Along these lines, a friend of mine at work is turning 40. Since graduating medical school, he has worked hard at becoming successful and obtaining some degree of financial security. Now he wants to focus on his spiritual development, and was asking for advice. It is somewhat difficult to give advice to an absolute beginner, especially someone who will likely have to overcome a kind of scientistic hyper-rationalism that often results from medical school (which selects such types to begin with).

I'm still thinking about the question, but in general, the one piece of advice I might offer is to always look for intelligence and barakah, or light and grace. If you do this, you won't go wrong, because this is what your intellect and heart are hungering for, a kind of light-filled intellectual certitude, plus a grace-filled warmth where your soul finds its home. In short, you are looking for a sanctuary for the heart-mind.

Back to Lobdell's anti-spiritual autobiography. He says that the pastor of the mega-church "had a knack for making Scripture accessible and relevant. For someone who hadn’t studied the Bible much, these talks fed a hunger in my soul. The secrets to living well had been there all along –- in 'Life’s Instruction Manual,' as some Christians nicknamed the Bible."

When he says that the pastor had a knack for making scripture "accessible," I'm going to take a wild guess and say that he probably had an even bigger talent for vulgarizing it. After all, truth is truth, and if he had been conveying anything deep and useful, Lobdell would still believe it. It would have "stuck."

And when he says that these talks "fed a hunger in my soul," that is surely true, just as Twinkies will feed a hunger in your belly. But just because Twinkies are devoid of nutrition, that hardly means that the stomach doesn't exist or that it doesn't have real needs.

That's another point I would emphasize to my friend at work: you may have difficulty with the idea of God, but that can be overcome if you focus on the other end of the line, the human spirit that is a "divine spark" of God. By locating, identifying, articulating, and expanding this "part" of oneself -- what Aurobindo calls the "psychic being," but which every tradition recognizes -- you will have your own "proof of God." That is, as this part of you develops, God naturally comes more into view. In fact, there can be no stable spiritual practice in the absence of this soul development; it is simultaneously means and end.

Lobdell's next big mistake was confusing (!?) with (¶), or transient states with enduring traits. As he writes, he attended a three-day religious retreat. I guess like any other cult, these are "designed to grind down your defenses and leave you emotionally raw -- an easier state in which to connect with God. After 36 hours of prayer, singing, Bible study, intimate sharing and little sleep, I felt filled with the Holy Spirit."

Hmm. Being that he is now an atheist, he doesn't say what he believes actually happened to him. Presumably it was just some sort of altered state brought about by the unleashing of repressed energy. I'm guessing that this kind of experience isn't too difficult to obtain under such circumstances. Isn't that what the '60s was all about?

Well, running short on time.... The End.

129 Comments:

Blogger Warren said...

One of God's greatest mercies is to deprive people of bogus faith. Lobdell now might have a chance at real faith - which, unfortunately for him, will probably require Divine Shock Treatment. Or maybe he will just remain a bonehead.

8/06/2008 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, the fact that he still wants to write about religion indicates that the link and the hunger are still there.

8/06/2008 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

"...emotions can be either the barrier or the means to faith; likewise, for the intellectually gifted person, his intelligence can be either a wall or a door.

BIG awakening when you separate a little from your own habitual feelings, and your own "mentality" as well -- long enough or often enough to suspect that there are other possibilities for them. I am only beginning to "see" the extent of this!

"...always look for intelligence and barakah, or light and grace. If you do this, you won't go wrong, because this is what your intellect and heart are hungering for, a kind of light-filled intellectual certitude, plus a grace-filled warmth where your soul finds its home..."

Yes!

8/06/2008 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous dloye said...

Christian education, christian education... what is that and how is it done? So much of what is fed to children are Twinkies of the soul. Bob is doing Christian education or as the Unitarians would have it, religious education, (as nothing should remind of Christian roots.) IIRC last time this came up, the consensus was just tell the stories, and let the depth charges do their work. Still, it seems like there should be a good alternative to public school. It seems to me that a good Christian education might be the antidote for the religious thought that is a mile wide and half an inch deep. Sorry, just thinking out loud here.

8/06/2008 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In the postmodern age, it is difficult for the depth charges to do their work, since the ego is so hardened or dispersed, in both cases defending against spiritual depth as such. Today, "intelligence" works directly against the Intellect. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

8/06/2008 09:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Tex Taylor said...

A little bit off subject but I couldn't help but snicker at this statement as to our new atheist's value of objectivity. Consider this published point for leaving the L.A. Times:

For a news operation filled with journalists with a mostly liberal bent, few people embrace the kind of progressive change necessary to save, or at least delay the fall of, the franchise.

You mean Mr. Lobdell like a new perspective about what is the real problem? You're not going to find that when the editor's room is full of lefty clones.

Ironically, my favorite Bible verses concerning atheists is that God doesn't believe in them either:

Romans 1:19-20

Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

8/06/2008 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I could learn more about Truth from Bob's commentary on baseball than from the so-called religious training available in the mega-churches.

8/06/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very good post today. Ordinarily I attack, but this post I can't bear to mar. It is a beautiful artifact of soulful writing.

8/06/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Tex Taylor said...

Bob,

Today, "intelligence" works directly against the Intellect.

And the reason God tells us to seek wisdom...rather than intellect.

8/06/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Niggardly Phil said...

Look at what you want your end product to be to define the process.

So what is the goal of Christian education?

Someone who knows about Christianity, or a saint?

That would give you two totally different "schools". And since being a saint is a 24/7 occupation, you'll need that kind of school.

8/06/2008 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I feel kind of sorry for the guy. He's stepped in so many pseudoreligious land mines in his life, a few of which I've skirted a time or two myself. I guess my feet were quick enough to keep me from being blown all to smithereens, though.

I thought this, toward the end, was telling:

"Tears spilled from his eyes. Packy's faith, though severely tested, had survived.

I looked at him with envy. Where he found comfort, I was finding emptiness."

The hunger still churns, but without the right sustenance it can never be satisfied; all the more maddening when you don't even know, really, what it is that you must eat.

Another thing that I'm surprised never occurred to him is the fact that, as a journalist, of course he's going to spend his time chasing down the worst-case scenarios, no matter how positively he wanted to portray religion at the start. The Good tends to be boring to read about, unless there are miracles involved. It doesn't bring in readers. Like the jaded detective who sees shifty criminals under every sweet facade, spending time learning about the all-too-humanly-flawed practitioners of various faiths could not but leave him thinking that every believer is either a dupe or a shyster.

Poor guy - I hope he manages to stumble across the right Bread some day, and that when he does he is still able to metabolize it.

8/06/2008 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Niggardly Phil said...

He never answered this:
I understood that I was witnessing the failure of humans, not God. But in a way, that was the point. I didn’t see these institutions drenched in God’s spirit. Shouldn’t religious organizations, if they were God-inspired and -driven, reflect higher standards than government, corporations and other groups in society?


Matt 13:19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.

8/06/2008 09:25:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Look at how we operate around here. Can you imagine Bob holding a "three day intensive retreat" to try to covert people to Coondom? That's crazy. Instead, It's drip-drip-drip with each post, like a slowly unfolding process of Chinese water torture on the ego.... I still don't know what the hell he's talking about, so I mostly just observe his behavior.

8/06/2008 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, if you want to see "darkness visible," or a complete absence of intellect and grace, check out some of the comments to Lobdell's piece on the Dawkins website. These are the kinds of barbarous morons he's now in league with.

8/06/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Tex Taylor said...

Bob,

check out some of the comments to Lobdell's piece on the Dawkins website. These are the kinds of barbarous morons he's now in league with.

Like our wise mothers taught us early, "you're known by the company you keep."

Right Obama?

8/06/2008 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Phil, I believe that is called a line drive base hit. Probably got an RBI or two.

Right on, Dupree. I blame Billy Graham.

Obviously, Brother Graham is a very good, sincere person. If he doesn't get to heaven I don't know who will. Still, I think the whole crusade mentality leads into the TBN/mega-church mentality where Christianity is an event, where the conversion body count and the offerings are what really matter.

Americans are results-oriented and they are drawn to celebrity (obamanation, anyone?) and circus-circus. Buzz about the number of alleged salvations or -- among my people, the pentecostals and charismatics -- "manifestations" will bring in the crowds.

We have too many Christians who believe in magic. I would almost be willing to bet that is what Lobdell really believed in. Jesus ain't no f'n magician, and God ain't no genie neither.

One of the perks of getting old is that people expect you to repeat yourself, so I say again, many Christians are little better than witches seeking to obligate God and manipulate Him. If it doesn't work the tendency will be to dismiss "religion" instead of realizing I was on the wrong track.

8/06/2008 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm picturing the three-day coon retreat: lots of beer and grog, an ample supply of water balloons, probably more than a few dogs running around, maybe an impromptu punk band jam session, and people wandering off down random paths (because getting us to all do the same thing at the same time would probably be trickier than herding cats, which is also why I'll be very surprised if it ever comes about, no matter how much we like the idea)...

Grinding down defenses? Well, that might happen if a ball game picks up, but otherwise I'd hope not. Sounds remarkably unpleasant, and the whole point of a coonfest would (I hope) be to have some fun and maybe a guffahaw or two.

***
As to the drip effect, sure, if the drip in question is big enough to fill a good sized bucket. Very bracing.

8/06/2008 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger erasmus said...

Bob says:

"The problem is, for such a person, the intellect itself must be convicted and converted, otherwise it will continue to be one's biggest stumbling block, when in reality, it can be used as the key to the whole existentialada if properly developed."

I think I witnessed this "conviction and conversion" of the intellect happen when I was in college.

The end result was the guy who lived across the hall from me in the dorms packed himslef off to a Benedictine monastary (after graduating). He's now a Catholic priest and an assistant professor in Computing and Information Science.

No religion in him at all when I first met him, as far as I could tell. Lots of philosophy, though.

8/06/2008 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Ew - the comments there are just creepy. They are the anti-coons.

8/06/2008 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

One interesting thing about the comments, though - they are all very much in favor of conversion to atheism.

8/06/2008 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Niggardly Phil said...

'shroom - agreed on the magic aspect. It is idolatry and a form of controlling the divine.

There was a priest who once told me, a lot of people look at prayer and they think it's like a Coke machine - I put my money in, and I get a coke out. It's actually the opposite - you're the Coke machine, and he's gonna put his quarters in. Will he get Coke out? or something else?

I think that was based on the parable of the fig tree. Loosely.

8/06/2008 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Kepler Sings said...

Just got layed-off today from the Job from Hell. Who says there is no God?

Contrast how people are "converted," today as to what took place in the early days of the Church. Now on the day of Pentecost, here is Peter preaching to a mob that many, if not most, just fifty days before were yelling for Jesus to be Crucified and Barabbas to be given to them as one person could be pardoned on that particular day.

Of course the mob was provoked and manipulated by the Religious authorities, but still they were guilty for not knowing the difference. Then Peter says, "You men with wicked hands, took and slew the Lord of Glory." And they were cut to the quick and cried out, "What must we do to be saved?"

Obviously the difference is Peter just had an infilling of the Holy Spirit. Words are just boxcars, they can contain, nothing, garbage, lies, deceit, or truth and power. Interesting that the modus operandi of both the Left and false religions (including Christian based falsehoods) is to destroy the meaning of words.

Want to institute multiculturalism? Want to destroy the culture of America? Allow unfettered immigration (invasion) and when you have stories of murder and mayhem by the same, just mention they are "immigrants." Not "illegal immigrants."

Too many examples of this to list, like the media always emphasizing the word "gentlemen," when it is referencing some scumbag that just murdered a family or raped a little kid...etc. So that the scripture comes true that a time would come when men would openly call evil good, and good evil. Once again God is going to, is bringing, prophetic utterance to the earth, that I believe some people will drop dead when they hear it, and others will drop their mind parasites and openly embrace the truth.

8/06/2008 10:26:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Anybody else see the truly creepy avatars chosen by the commenters over at Dawkin's site?

8/06/2008 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Anybody else see the truly creepy avatars chosen by the commenters over at Dawkin's site?

8/06/2008 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

If you feel that strongly about it, Ximeze, I guess I'd better go look ;)

8/06/2008 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Niggardly Phil said...

yes, graves and skulls and black. It's like thirteen-year-old fest. Bitchin'!

I looked at it and thought, abyssus abyssum vocat from Psalm 41. David did his share of wandering in the desert too.

8/06/2008 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Whaaaaaat(?!)


(via PA system)
GB: Blogger spills on aisles 24 & 25, please contact the clean-up crew.

8/06/2008 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I don't think that was your fault, Ximeze. I think it was an echo from dawkins' pit.

8/06/2008 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"I'm picturing the three-day coon retreat: lots of beer and grog,..."

Maybe, but I hear there's nothing more dangerous and destructive than a sh**-faced Anonymous.

8/06/2008 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

The Dawkins site is full of the same usual well worn atheist hobby-horses.

I would weep, but I believe in economy of expression.

I've heard the key to keeping something, of truly owning it, is to set it free. For one there is the way to properly do this, but secondly there is that most people who 'lose' their faith set it free in a moment of terror and find they never had it at all.

8/06/2008 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Maineman, I don't think anonys would be invited; they must de-cloak, or no party coordinates for them!

8/06/2008 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Though if necessary, there can probably be a grog-free zone provided. Beverage specialty will instead be Walt's Frothy Teas.

8/06/2008 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Reading some of the comments, it seems that in a 'crisis', and in particular 9/11, many people 'woke up' - to what or who they truly were.

When men find the mountain is cold, they often turn and flee for the plains. This is because the mountain is hard and destroys men. Those who pursue it too quickly will be overcome with fear. But the man who walks with leisure in the upward path will find he is exactly where he needs to be.

This, to me, is the meaning of slack, or sabbath.

8/06/2008 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Mushroom, you must be right. Those avatar-bots likely hitched a ride back here on the bottoms of my shoes, then did a Linda Blair #.

'Splains plenty

8/06/2008 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

River, do you mean they turned atheist after 9/11?

8/06/2008 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

I seem to recall sh**-faced Anonymous can be mighty tasty if prepared correctly.

8/06/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

You don't just wake up one morning and say "hallelujah, I'm healed of my delusion!" But that is exactly what Lobdell would have us believe.

From the article: "My soul, for lack of a better term, had lost faith long ago — probably around the time I stopped going to church. My brain, which had been in denial, had finally caught up."

I don't see any indication it was an instantaneous process. Quite the opposite, in fact.

8/06/2008 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

maineman: some are claiming so, yes. They are like the soldiers who all drop their weapons and flake when the enemy comes in like a wave. Like Bob suggested, it is because they're too green. Our mind 'buries' things because when they happen we are too 'green' to handle them (ideally) just like the Founding Fathers 'buried' the slave issue when the nation was too green to survive resolving it. Some throw themselves at trauma or difficulty in their religious or spiritual life when they are too 'green' to handle it. Instead of properly 'setting aside the hard things' they are like a man who throws new seedlings out into a snow-covered field. He is then dismayed that they die? Or did the Spartans not throw their own seedlings into the cold wilderness to kill them?

8/06/2008 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

"Beverage specialty will instead be Walt's Frothy Teas™."

I recommend the Contemplative Wanderer™, and Skully's favorite, Hair o' th' Dawg™!

But the thought of anons de-cloaking -- this goes too far . . .

8/06/2008 01:09:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Ray:

Being that he has no soul, the distinction is meaningless. Besides, as usual you've missed the point, that being the question of why he was deluded and why he now imagines he isn't.

8/06/2008 01:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was in fact a raccoon klatch which took place on the Merced river in Yosemite Park '07. Did anyone go to that one? The one that the Park Rangers had to break up?

I know Bob wasn't there but nonetheless a think tank/discussion group was present one afternoon there and used One Cosmos as its basic text.

As I recall a young hippyish couple from Los Altos, representing trolls I guess, "converted" to coondom under the confluence of the coon horde. They actually renounce atheism on the spot.

I know Bob doesn't go in for that sort of thing, but nonetheless there's not much harm in it, I say.

8/06/2008 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

I must be wired very strangely. (Why else would I be on this site, right?) I have read so many stories of Christians, or people who really thought that they were Christians (like Lobdell), losing their faith over the problem of evil and suffering. Whereas in my case, it was largely an awakening to the reality of evil and suffering that finally drop-kicked me out of the warm and fuzzy pantheistic haze I'd been floating in since adolescence and made me into the ultra-right-wing, crazed (but lovable) Catholic bigot that you see today.

I get the impression that a LOT of Christians are, from a theological standpoint, really pseudo-Muslims in disguise, and have little or no understanding of what the Christian tradition actually teaches about evil and suffering, free will, the nature of God, original sin, etc. Mega-church, "Jesus Barn" Christianity is widespread for the same reason that Islam is widespread - it offers simple (and heretical) ideas about God that many people find it easy and natural to relate to. Christian orthodoxy, on the other hand, is highly paradoxical, confusing, subtle, mysterious - too weird and creepy for many good people. (Lobdell shows no signs at all of ever having been exposed to genuine Christian doctrine - not surprising, really, considering the state of the American Catholic Church.)

8/06/2008 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger erasmus said...

Cousin Dupree says:

"Besides, as usual you've missed the point, that being the question of why he was deluded and why he now imagines he isn't."

Ray's here to argue. It's fun for him. Keeps his mind sharp and his rhetorical skills alive. Of course, an unintended side-effect from Ray's point of view is that he may accidentially absorb some of Bob's metaphysic, but that would be a sub-optimal outcome from Ray's point of view.

You can tell Ray that he misses the point, but I only recommend that if you want to argue with him. You could view it as an exercise in argument if you want to look at it that way.

Ray will thorougly read a post or article and then find a point with which he can disagree. Ideally, it will arguably contradict Bob's post.

If making an argument requres that Ray "misses the point" then Ray will miss the point.

Perhaps that is a better slogan...

"Missing the Point"

In other news, if you want to talk to Ray about something else, other than "Missing the Point", you could always discuss his metaphysic of "non-zero-sumness" with him.

8/06/2008 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Well, he states his 'faith' in terms of 'well-being'. It is a monist's Christianity, which only deals with the problem of illness, and does not deal with the problem of 'the wrong kind of wellness'. If your faith is based on your state of well-being - you need to read the stories of the desert fathers and the tradition of the holy elders.

Any faith that is based on well-being will die when crisis comes (since God in his love knows when to knock us down so we can get up, and because there is a life beyond this one we are being prepared for.) Any faith based, on the other hand, on crisis only will flounder in times of well being (since we are made to transform ourselves, our bodies and the cosmos. The kingdom is at hand...)

This is why, As Warren suggested aptly, that the real faith is too subtle and strange (doesn't 'αγιοσ' mean separate or totally different?) for a consumer / entertainment approach.

Many of our holy Fathers hurt themselves in their asceticism (Big John C got a kidney condition from it) but this is not considered a proof of 'unsaintliness' that is, sickness is not proof of sin. But also, we are not required to injure ourselves in ascetic practice. We will end up giving everything, anyway.

8/06/2008 02:03:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Anon 1:23,

Did you hook up with any "accolytes" at that event?

8/06/2008 02:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, there probably is an element of willful self collusion (some would say delusion) in believing in God.

When life is easy, it is the easier path not to believe. Belief requieres some effort and committment. If you believe in God, you probably need God in your life to function/cope. Your life has become problematic.

This palliative, soothing aspect to belief (it dials down the fear of death or the ego's fear of isolation or annhilation)cannot be ignored. It IS an opiate of sorts, undeniably.

Can delusions about God arise even in the sophisticated God-Lover? I maintain they can and they do enter into the spiritual life of even the most surrendered, unified, and sincere Bhakti/Jnana/Christian yogin sage wise humble wo/man.

Total spiritual sincerity demands that we admit the same "want to believe" force that infects the UFO contact afficionados and other yahoos, can enter into the spiritual life. A very hard self-editing is a prerequisite for true purification.

So all, look within--how much opiate/delusion are you clinging too in you spiritual walk? How much ritual/rite/fuss/floss and manuscript can you peel away and yet still leave on an even keel as you kneel naked before the Master?

That is the question.

8/06/2008 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger erasmus said...

Warren says:

"I must be wired very strangely. (Why else would I be on this site, right?) I have read so many stories of Christians, or people who really thought that they were Christians (like Lobdell), losing their faith over the problem of evil and suffering."

While you are on the subject of evil, allow me to quote from Ray on the subject of Natural Disasters...

Ray says:

"Natural disasters
When a fetus is gestating in the womb, its blood supply travels back and forth down the umbilical cord, in and out of the placenta. In the placenta, blood vessels from the mother and the child intermingle and touch. Note that they are not actually connected - they're just very close and tangled together. Think of two intermingled balls of yarn - the strings don't ever actually splice together.

This close intermingling allows oxygen and nutrients to pass into the child's blood, and CO2 and wastes to travel out to the mother's blood to be disposed of. Unfortunately, sometimes other things cross this barrier, like disease-causing viruses. German Measles and HIV are two examples of viral agents that are able to cross this barrier, with devastating consequences.

Why would God allow HIV to cross into the fetus? It has, by definition, done nothing that could possibly warrant such a death sentence. Blocking this transfer would give the child a vastly improved chance at a normal lifespan. Even if HIV is some kind of divine retribution, babies in the womb cannot be guilty of whatever offense brought it upon the world.

I've heard the idea that God cursed the world after Adam and Eve sinned, and now it raineth upon the just as well as the unjust, etc. etc. That never held much water with me. I'm not impressed with a God that either gets so angry that It can't aim straight, or doesn't feel like tailoring It's punishments to only those guilty of offense.

If God's in charge of the universe, then It's responsible for what happens in it, at least the non-sentient parts thereof. A volcano doesn't have free will to bruise; if a lava flow runs over an orphanage and horribly burns a bunch of children, then it's God's fault, pure and simple."

8/06/2008 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Hey Hoarhy:

Regarding the "acolytes" of which you speak: I didn't see any. Er, what are they?

As far as hooking up, there was a lot of that going on and not too well concealed, either. Tent walls are thin...

I did get "some" as it were. It was a very satisfying event in that respect.

8/06/2008 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Sounds as if those at the gathering probably listened to Bob's WIE interview, bought the book but sure as hell never made it to the blog.

8/06/2008 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"That's another point I would emphasize to my friend at work: you may have difficulty with the idea of God, but that can be overcome if you focus on the other end of the line, the human spirit that is a "divine spark" of God. By locating, identifying, articulating, and expanding this "part" of oneself -- what Aurobindo calls the "psychic being," but which every tradition recognizes -- you will have your own "proof of God." That is, as this part of you develops, God naturally comes more into view. In fact, there can be no stable spiritual practice in the absence of this soul development; it is simultaneously means and end. "

One of those rarity of rarities - good advice.

Did Oneders for me.

8/06/2008 02:26:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

I thought you may have been the Anon who gave his acolytes what they "expected" with regards to a little extracurricular spiritual activity.

8/06/2008 02:32:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

I think the problem with Lobdell's thesis, that he was deluded until the scales fell from his eyes, lies with his first principle. (This is also a possible problem with Anon 2:12's post.)

Delusions, by their nature, conflict with reality and therefore cannot be useful. The data are clear and overwhelming, that good religion is useful,and Christianity has proven itself to be particularly so. Christianity may be many things, but it can't, by definition, be a delusion. (We, on the other hand, as Anon points out, are all subject to delusion.) This is most evident when it is stacked up against the religion of secular-humanism, which is apparently Lobdell's current faith.

From what I've read here, it seems more like he was deluded at the outset and, at some point, embraced the delusion that he was a Christian. Being a delusion, it conflicted with reality and didn't work FOR HIM, so now he has embraced an alternative delusion, which will also not be useful to him. (He probably won't even make that much on the book, since he's such a Johnny-come-lately to the atheist lit as a path to riches thing.)

But there's hope for him (and Ray) still. He/they may really be searching, and to return to baseball as the essential template for all that is holy, it's important not to call the game in the 3rd inning.

8/06/2008 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

One point that I had intended to expand upon but left implicit was, whatever happened to the fact that "I had managed to nearly ruin my marriage (the second one) and didn’t think I’d do much better as a father. I was profoundly lost."

What was that all about? Was it a psychiatric disorder of some kind that he was trying to use religion to eradicate?

8/06/2008 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I don't know enough about him, but it certainly appears that he was conflating the psychic and spiritual dimensions, and then confusing ecstatic psychic experiences with something of enduring spiritual worth, like a drug-taking hippie or some weekend drum-banging metrosexual.

8/06/2008 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger erasmus said...

Van quoting Bob said:

""That's another point I would emphasize to my friend at work: you may have difficulty with the idea of God, but that can be overcome if you focus on the other end of the line, the human spirit that is a "divine spark" of God. By locating, identifying, articulating, and expanding this "part" of oneself -- what Aurobindo calls the "psychic being," but which every tradition recognizes -- you will have your own "proof of God.""

Anyone have any useful explanations for the sociopaths/psychopaths/serial murder type of non-people out there in the world?

8/06/2008 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"What was that all about? Was it a psychiatric disorder of some kind that he was trying to use religion to eradicate?"

Self-medicating with religion instead of drugs or alcohol, in other words? I bet - actually, come to think of it I know - there are quite a lot of people who use religion that way, which means it's easily abused just like drugs or alcohol.

8/06/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"like a drug-taking hippie or some weekend drum-banging metrosexual."

HEY!

8/06/2008 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

FYI -- "Barakah" is a word that Schuon uses. I guess I just like the way it sounds. It means "a spiritual influence or energy originally from God, but often attached to sacred objects and spiritual persons."

8/06/2008 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ironically, I'm guessing that "Barack" and "Brak" come from the same word....

8/06/2008 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

I know that you can come from spiritual death (natural state) to spiritual life (supernatural state?) by realizing and knowing very little at the time (thankfully). Spiritual evolution, however, requires regular healthy meals, exercise, and ample slack – all of which require discipline and don’t come easy (although I’m pretty disciplined as far as slack goes). For me, it was all in my heart, all in a moment, that I KNEW God IS and that He cares for me – in spite of my complete and abject sinfulness. By that time, my anti-theism had nearly arrived at its logical conclusion – empty, meaningless, void. You might say I was convicted by Reality and no longer had the strength or will to fight it. The certainty of the Love that overflowed this emptied vessel – well, it created a new man (like it or not, “born again” is as apt a description as I’ve ever heard). Acceptance of Reality was a tremendously emotional jolt. Long story short, after the jolt “wore off”, what was left was a compulsion to learn everything I could about this Loving Father. That learning process has wandered through various sources over the years, each one having been of some value - even the megachurch environment. In the end, though, like the personal relationship it involves, spiritual growth comes from spending quality time together.

8/06/2008 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Mushroom said "... Still, I think the whole crusade mentality leads into the TBN/mega-church mentality where Christianity is an event, where the conversion body count and the offerings are what really matter..."

Yep, Neil Postman had some worthwhile ideas on this in "Amusing Ourselves to Death", though more about TV medium itself, I think it still applies 'outside of the box'.

8/06/2008 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"Ironically, I'm guessing that "Barack" and "Brak" come from the same word...."

Maybe taking out the extra syllables drastically alters the meaning.

8/06/2008 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Wiki sez:

Barakah is also the origin of U.S. politician Barack Obama's first name via Swahili which has been heavily influenced by Arabic.

But Schuon's/your usage is the primary meaning given to the term.

8/06/2008 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Kepler said "...Interesting that the modus operandi of both the Left and false religions (including Christian based falsehoods) is to destroy the meaning of words... "

Definitely.

I havn't ref'd this in a while, Richard Mitchell's "Less than words can say"

"The Gift of Fire" and "Less Than Words Can Say" both by Richard Mitchell, and free to read online or download, as well as his Newsletters as "The Underground Grammarian" and other books; all are seriously satisfying Raccoon food, delivering up quality neural nutrition, and served up with a wickedly-funny rapier slice on each bite.

8/06/2008 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Dupree - Did Bob have to misrepresent the article to raise that point?

8/06/2008 04:45:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

No. As always, you had to misunderstand it to make yours.

8/06/2008 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

To playgiarize the quote from Vanderleun's comment section,

It is impossible for Bob to speak in such a way that Ray cannot misunderstand.

8/06/2008 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Yes, Rayn Man, Yes! Why fight you on anything? Yes. You've guessed it! Everything Bob does here is to fool YOU. He wants your SOUL! He wants you to agree with HIM. He will say anything, do anything, put up with anything just to have you succumb to his way of thinking.

And he won't stop there! He'll want you to imagine intangibles, see possibilities (easier to do after a few beers, too!); he'll want you to play baseball, make silly puns, and learn to interpret jazz in a way that is pure and mathematical and yet free from the constraints of vector and axes and plots. Off the charts, dudd! He'll want you to improvise your thoughts and free-will associate. You'll see, Ray. You'll see. It'll be just horrible!

Mwuahahahaha!

(And your little dog, too.)

8/06/2008 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"I looked at him with envy. Where he found comfort, I was finding emptiness."

Envy creates a barrier to conviction which is necessary for grace to work.

Outstanding post, Bob!
Thanks!

8/06/2008 05:48:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Joan, you are en fuego.

8/06/2008 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Anon 2:17

You were had by a rabble of poseurs, my dear & your accounts confirm it.

Coongirls DO NOT 'hook up', as you so inelegantly put it - that's a dead giveaway.

You'd have come to Bob to whine about being run out of the coonvention under well-targeted water balloon fire by really, really pissed-off she-kits. Scatter would also have taken a large chunk out of your ass to go along with the grog-bottle welts you got while running away.

8/06/2008 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ximeze, perhaps Anony's "convention" was overrun with hobots.

8/06/2008 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Ray - Have you ever considered this truism: Although Raccoons fully understand your position (which amounts to zero), while you have zero understanding of ours (which is eternal).

Dude - you are buck nekkid before the 'coons with nary a fig leaf to cover up. Run and hide, or join us.

8/06/2008 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous slim pickens said...

The world accordin' to Ray: If God's in charge of the universe, then It's responsible for what happens in it, at least the non-sentient parts thereof. A volcano doesn't have free will to bruise; if a lava flow runs over an orphanage and horribly burns a bunch of children, then it's God's fault, pure and simple

Hell's bells, if I was a'gonna blame God fer anything, I'd blame Him fer Ray.

8/06/2008 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

Cuz, Joan's setting Rayn Man up for the estocada.

Nice tauromaquia Joan.

8/06/2008 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

A ver si me gano las dos orejas!

:o)

8/06/2008 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Warren said, "I get the impression that a LOT of Christians are, from a theological standpoint, really pseudo-Muslims in disguise, and have little or no understanding of what the Christian tradition actually teaches about evil and suffering, free will, the nature of God, original sin, etc."

Sad but true.

By the way, I did not mean to imply that Big-Box Christianity is totally devoid of value. As Nomo stated so well above, discipleship and Christian growth are more about the seeker's attitude than anything else.

8/06/2008 08:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say that your entire blog is one continous advertisement for not wanting having anything to do with what is usually called "religion" by "right"-thinking "true-beleivers".

8/06/2008 09:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Kepler Sings said...

Ray said:

Why would God allow HIV to cross into the fetus? It has, by definition, done nothing that could possibly warrant such a death sentence. Blocking this transfer would give the child a vastly improved chance at a normal lifespan. Even if HIV is some kind of divine retribution, babies in the womb cannot be guilty of whatever offense brought it upon the world.

I've heard the idea that God cursed the world after Adam and Eve sinned, and now it raineth upon the just as well as the unjust, etc. etc. That never held much water with me. I'm not impressed with a God that either gets so angry that It can't aim straight, or doesn't feel like tailoring It's punishments to only those guilty of offense.


God does not own the rights to the earth, we do. Adam had legal right and ownership of the earth, he lost it at the fall. Christ took legal ownership back. Now the ownership remains with Christ and to any that accept him.

Satan can do nothing in the earth unless he steals the remnant of authority in some line either Jewish, or Christian that God has blessed. If you look at most, if not all, the evil doctrines in the earth they came from some line of humanity that had authority from God.

Marx = apostate Jew: Darwin = apostate Christian: Holocaust = Martin Luther's hatred for Jews: You would be shocked by the list. Islam = descendant of Ishmael etc.

All unbelievers have a naive, nearly stupid idea of God. On the one hand they understand the necessity of free will, on the other hand they are peeved when the actions of men bring upon us disease, evil, pain, death, unfairness, and liberals.

And then they demand God work things out in a phony capricious intervention...by whose demand of what is good or evil? You? Maybe that mother that got AIDS via sin will eventually look at the dying pain ridden child she brought into the world and repent and turn to God, maybe it was/is the only thing that would do the trick?

Maybe she got it in a transfusion, and is a good woman, and has to come to the highest spiritual plane and maturity as she watches her son or daughter die, along with herself, and reaches up into God Himself to have his forgiveness fused into her being!

Who the hell are you O man to demand of God a perfection that is an exercise of a fallen human intellect? If it worked the way you wanted, or I wanted, how many souls would be lost forever because we could not bear the thought of the innocent suffering?

And yes it is that important, obviously, since God did not spare His own son...some actual part of Himself the most agonizing death imaginable....for us the LOST. I am sick of this childish pout about God from so many. Go meditate upon some things, drop your books, your overinflated estimation of your intellect and just for once in your life admit you do NOT know, there are certainly other humans smarter than you, how far a stretch is it to imagine a Divine being that has a mind greater than you, than you do of a gnat? And to accuse God of cruelty what folly is that? The author of beauty would also be cruel?

Does your mind not rebel at such a possibility? Down deep you know it is not true. Then you must then know your protest is phony, is a fig leaf to hide you from the utter intensity and commitment of God for us, and for us to live in eternity.

8/06/2008 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I read about this fellow--maybe it was at Patterico's or the Get Religion blog.

I don't trust anybody with "progressive" sympathies (i.e., anybody reporting for the LA Times) to have truly plumbed the theological depths of the Christian faith. Left-wing ideology is rife with emotional "thinking," which is subject to the winds and waves and has no internal consistency, having abandoned all guiding principles. That's why I have so little respect for it.

Scripture's pretty clear that there are lots of people sitting in pews (or those comfy-cushy chairs, as the case may be) all across America, in big-box, small-town, or you-name-it churches, who will be told "Depart from Me; I never knew you."

Alternatively, that declaration may as easily be applied to scholars who spend all their being cerebral about God rather than communing with him. I "coonfess" to having a tendency toward the latter category (although I'm not an intellectual/scholar--just a beneficiary of their insights).

You captured the balance really well in your post, Bob.

A rational faith is satisfying on the mind-level, I must admit. No alternative explanation for the human condition has ever come close to making sense, in my mind. "Problem of evil" included. Life's still brimming with mysteries, but as an overall explanation for Reality, redemptive history "hits the spot." Nothing thrown into the mental pool, in college or beyond, has shattered its calm. My faith isn't easily shaken precept-wise. Those little philosophical duckies are all in a neat row.

But my *walk* has been known to be-ahem-inconsistent with what I hold intellectually. I'll never doubt the reality of it (not having had that unconditional love wash over me), but I might not *live* the truth of it as authentically as I could. E.g., Visible evidence of the indwelling Spirit of Christ: "Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control, faith..." Sigh. I know there are ways in which even a busy mama can sit at His feet rather than be fretting all the time. Still puzzling on that here.

A coonvention sounds like fun--but you wanna talk about being overrun by kits! I think a couple of mine were born instinctively knowing what to do with a water balloon. Cf. "6yo with water hose" on blog.

8/06/2008 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Really, I do think it is to some extent a matter of practicing spiritual disciplines--or, put another way, positioning oneself for the optimal reception of grace. It's a question of thirst--how bad do you want it? The truly thirsty have been promised living water flowing from their inner being...but they have to "come to the waters."

I like Neil Anderson's approach--the "truth encounter." Rather than seeking some hype inflated by ginned up emotion, the subject simply confesses truths in line with scripture, "agreeing with God," as it were, and allowing God free reign to womp on those mind parasites.

8/06/2008 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Our favorite mad cow has been unmasked by The Mystery Key which unlocks the true identity of the Invisible Ray!

As the finest handmade Uraysian pin tumblers fall into logical position, Ray is revealed to be none other than (drum roll, please...) Douglas Fairbanks!, which rearranged is:

"Absurd again, folks".

It was just a matter of time, DF.

8/06/2008 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

qp & Joan,

On the topic of orejas, I'm submitting that a fitting honorific for Obambi would be 'El Orejon'

So, wadiya think?

8/07/2008 12:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, to rebut Ray and to correct the ever twisted Kepler S-

"Bad" stuff gets its spin from the incarnated small mind that doesn't grasp why things should be as they are.

When a fetus gets HIV in utero, for expample a number of natural forces are at play. However, bear in mind we are after only the FINAL reduction- the reason why after which no reasons why need be asked again.

That answer is: we can't really know. Sorry. 'Tis a bitch, no?

A guess which I think comes closest to explaining why God allows what It allows is: God wants the experience. If IT wants to experience being infected with HIV in utero, then IT will have that experience. IT experiences in totality everything that "we" experience in detail through our lives.

Ray and Kepler share a fragmented view of the Cosmos which doesn't really grasp the final reduction: The cosmos, and ourselves incuded, is God playing with Himself.
And He digs it all; even that which we call bad.

And that, sirrahs, is why any amount of Sh#$ happens. Deal.

8/07/2008 12:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I reread Kepler Sings com ment, and I don't think he's deluded anymore. No, he grasps it. He just says it in this graphic, sinister way that led me to think he was off the mark. Actually, he's on it pretty solid.

8/07/2008 12:46:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Lookit what Atlas Shrugs posted 7/31/08:

"Apparently, this is a glitch in the ‘Blogger’ system which until Google manually inspects the site to confirm it’s a legitimate blog and not automated spam. Unfortunately, Obama supporters have been abusing this method which was designed to filter out real net spammers, and have been systematically flagging high profile “anti-Obama” blogs on the vast ‘Blogger’ system as “spam” in order to shut down debate."

UPDATE: Blog Shutdowns: Spam Attack from IPs Assigned to barackobama.com (by NancyA at No Quarter)

The other day Sitemeter attacked Internet Explorer and shut down quite a few sites. Anyone with a sitemeter, in other words, all of us

Today, there is another report on Blog Shutdowns from Death By A 1000 Papercuts. Here is what they had to say:

“At least one of the attacks in the latest wave of blog shutdowns this past week came from IPs assigned to barackobama.com.”

This leaves us with an unanswered question. Who or what caused the “malfunction” in Sitemeter?

***********************

"allows anyone on the net to “flag” any Blogger site as a spam site. With enough “flags” they can shut down a site"

Are we taking bets as to whether it was the PO'd Queeglings or PO'd Obamabots that flagged OC & Co?

8/07/2008 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Well said, Keplar!
Many atheists would have us believe that they have a better sense of justice than God does.

Which is, at a cursory glance, ludicrous, because atheists don't, nor can they believe in Absolute Truth and Goodness, therefore their sense of justice would be anything but True Justice.

Even if an atheist says they believe in Absolutes through some Quantum whatever formula, they still wouldn't have God's perfect judgement, because they aren't absolutely Good.

That's merely one of many excuses that atheist use (whether they are aware of that or not) to justify their own disbelief.
And some even use that twisted logic in an attempt to make Christians and Jews feel guilty, never pondering why they feel that need to do so.
Perhaps so they can feel less guilty?

That's like the person that isn't "happy" unless everyone else is as miserable as they are. And I'm not just talkin' about atheists.
Envy is a mean little bastard!

8/07/2008 01:47:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Er, sorry...Kepler! I'll try not to missplell your name next time. :^)

8/07/2008 01:49:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

And speaking of justice, Lobdell is tryin' to justify his conversion to atheism, as well as convert others, much like Dawkins, Hitchens, etc..

Now, atheists that do this can never honestly say why they feel compelled to do so.

Afterall, as Bob has said many times, a true atheist wouldn't have a second thought about religion, let alone try to convert others to believe (or not believe) like they do.

Nor would religious symbols bother them, or holidays like Christmas, the Ten Commandments or the pledge of allegience.
It simply wouldn't matter to the true atheist.

In fact, a true atheist may very well be more comfortable with regious folks around him than militant, hostile and vile atheists like Dawkins or Al Van Hilten.

I wonder if Berlinski falls in this category, Bob?
Although I believe he claims to be agnostic.

Funny how the LGF wrecking crew can't explain Berlinski's presence at the DI, nor do they address his book.
I guess their too busy screaming SHILL! at the top of their lungs and banning decent folk from their blog to pay any attention to what he has to say.

8/07/2008 02:00:00 AM  
Blogger Aloysius said...

In my experience withdrawal from religion is usually driven by sin and very frequently sexual sin. God demands of us integrity in our relationships and when we can no longer offer that integrity we withdraw from God.

8/07/2008 03:07:00 AM  
OpenID kaffepaus said...

I could never go to a "mega church".

For me the OC is like that small, tight, smoke filled, jazz club with a real intimate swing and joy. Everybody is invited of course, but not everybody gets the groove, so they leave at the door. It’s not an easy listening, but at least people “know your name in the bar”, and you can get a few drinks on credit. This I’m much thankful for.

8/07/2008 03:19:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Religion is about as "comforting" as waking up in a burning house.

Or I don't know what kind of religion you're talking about.

8/07/2008 03:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Niggardly Phil said...

well said Magnus. On the one hand, religion is a security blanket according to anon, and on the other, it's full of guilt and masochism (abnegation and discipline required to walk the path).

8/07/2008 05:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Capt Fezziwig said...

Sorry for the length. But I only offer it if helpful to anyone. It was to me at 5am this morning when it popped in, or maybe it was yesterday morning. Doesn’t matter, these things tend to burn slowly over several nights, if not all of them.

Now, is not one of the reasons that the Book of Job is included in the Bible but to let us know that Ray (and countless others, if not everyone) will be along at some point and we will want to understand him? And of course that we may become Job ourselves at some point. There are at least three “versions” of Job in that book and I’m referring to the middle one; the “God-blamer”. This is where the story of Ray begins, as pointed out by the people living beneath the volcano imaginary scenario he paints. At least Job was related to the volcano people. Ray seems to be in the corollary position where the “blaming” surely leads to “unbeliever”; where Ray’s strange but unoriginal logic tells him, “I can’t believe in a God who would do this, therefore, I only believe in an evil God.”

I freely admit that I know practically nothing about this book compared to others here. So, please, correct me if I’m wrong. I’m just pointing out what I see happening “play out” here as being remarkably similar to what played-out in Job. The way friends tried to “speak” to Job to snap him out of it. Mr. Kepler more than once now sounds like Elihu to me. But who is the one who finally makes the connection to Job? In the end, God chews-out everyone in that story, including Job of course, except for Elihu, interesting enough. But even Elihu who “has it right” couldn’t do it.

This is not to say that that is all there is to learn from Job. Many here have way more knowledge of that book. I plan on spending way more time there. In Job’s story, the first part, where his entire “house burns down” which is to say his “world” and World view, as in a sense suggested by Magnus, must be as large a tragedy as there can be in order to apply or contain all the other personal tragedies that will certainly “come again” and then seeking understanding. But the part we are supposed to not forget is that another, twice-better house will surely grow in its place. I pray I don’t forget it. And as Schuon asks, essentially, whose work is it that rejects (forgets) a mountain for a fissure? I pray I don’t forget it.

8/07/2008 05:48:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

"The cosmos, and ourselves incuded, is God playing with Himself."

Now THERE'S an image to chew on.

Maybe the best definition of monism I've ever come across.

8/07/2008 05:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Niggardly Phil said...

@ Susannah

Purity of intention is the heart of the contemplation.

8/07/2008 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I think maybe I'm too simple-minded. I just don't see a "problem of evil" as regards the Deity. I mean, evil's a problem, whoa yes. But it's not God's problem, it's ours. Right?

(Well, yeah, He made it His problem when He took the entirety of it on His shoulders.)

The fact that humanity's sin has altered nature, and our personal sins affect those "innocent" of it (although we are all born into sin) only illuminates to me *why* God hates it so much, and must judge it somehow or another. It's so "other" to His being that it must be destroyed by his radiant goodness. There is no other way. He's just provided a merciful way for us.

It seems self-evident to me, but that's because I accept the truth of revelation, I suppose.

It also seems the height of ridiculousness for a finite human being to attempt to place an omnipotent being "in the dock." I mean, even if God *were* capricious and enjoyed experiencing evil, the mere fact that he exists means you are HIS PROPERTY and really have no right to question him, owing him your existence and all that.

It's loosely analogous to people calling Bush fascist, not realizing that the mere fact of their doing so proves the opposite. That you can call God evil, proves his mercy.

"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."

8/07/2008 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

"I just don't see a "problem of evil" as regards the Deity. I mean, evil's a problem, whoa yes. But it's not God's problem, it's ours. Right?"

Right. And my point earlier was that MANY Christians do not understand this basic teaching. When bad things happen, they tend to take the non-Christian view that it's God's fault. The underlying assumption seems to be that God, being omnipotent, is simply responsible for everything that happens. This is also the view that most atheists are reacting against. But this is not actually Christianity, it's Islam.

8/07/2008 07:37:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Susannah,

Simple minded? Not at all, my dear - clear as a bell, more like.


I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.

Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592)

8/07/2008 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Another way to look at the problem of evil (or rather, why bad things are allowed to happen) is that it is a necessary side effect of the gift of free will. And what is the purpose of free will? So that we, of our own volition, may come to know and love God; the flipside of this is that God takes the risk that we may reject Him. Obviously, many people do.

If life were only dangerous for bad people, then there could be no free will. Furthermore, if bad things only happened to bad people, we would all most likely strive to be good (to avoid unpleasantness), but we might also be rather sheeplike and dull; most people would be only as good as they needed to be to avoid harm, and no better. There would be no need for warriors and heroes, and no reason for people to try and surpass themselves.

8/07/2008 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

All evil is rebellion of the created against the Creator. The ultimate absurdity, but there you are. By allowing us free will, God allows evil. He certainly doesn't cause it.

How's that for simple?

8/07/2008 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Oops. Julie beat me to the punch (as usual).

8/07/2008 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

You're right Warren. Indeed we truly are without excuse.

I remember having a discussion with my sister once, in which she pointed out the connection between cussing out & waving the finger at one's "neighbor" in traffic, and say, the Holocaust.

Sometimes it seems that people put Hitler et al. in a wholly different category, separated from the rest of humanity, when really we are all in the same boat and have the same "unneighborly" urges (to put it mildly). In one sense, Hitler isn't something that "happened to" humanity. The enemy is us.

Jesus said it was a matter of the heart. From the perspective of the heart, hating your fellow man is really no different from murdering him.

"Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."

So when athiests and agnostics whine about the "problem of evil," I see it more as an attempt to categorize and trivialize our sins against God (for sinning against each other is sinning against the Maker). No one can claim to be without sin. Whatever wrongs you believe God to have committed would pale in comparison to the wrongs you have committed against Him. What a total lack of gratitude it shows for God's mercy and kindness.

Sorry, dashed off with infant in arms.

8/07/2008 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

kepler: It is said that Satan himself rebelled because he did not understand God. Some of the Fathers say that he thought that God just had been around very, very long and thus was wiser, more powerful and far more subtle than anyone else. He thought he would become God, and thus he tempts people by thinking they also can become self-existent.

Ray: The concept of blaming itself is the problem. The idea that if there is something wrong it must be someone's 'fault' is the source of judgmentalism, and its other side, 'nonjudgmentalism'. If, however, the world is fallen then it is like a great machine going haywire. We're the ones who got it going like that, and if God does not stop it in its tracks, then he is using even this trouble for our good. Because that's how he rolls. I think part of it is he is giving us a chance to take responsibility for our part of it and also engage in kenosis, self-emptying love, to deal with and heal something we DIDN'T cause, and thus do a truly virtuous deed, indeed. For to love one's friends is right, but to love one's enemies is truly good.

8/07/2008 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Dupree, Julie - How should I read the passage I quoted? Bob directly states that Lobdell claims his 'deconversion' was "all of a sudden", when the whole article describes a process ranging from 1998 to 2005. That's not "just wak[ing] up one morning". It's the kind of misrepresentation that politicians (like, say, Obama) are rightfully called out on... at least, when they're on the opposing side.

Then there're passages like ...it is odd that Lobdell still writes about "religion," being that there can be no such thing for an atheist. Is it stranger than, say, someone who used to be fervent believer in UFOs writing about the "UFO believer" phenomenon? The phenomenon of belief is real, even if the little green men aren't.

8/07/2008 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Ray, are you seriously down in the gravel nit-picking again, instead of looking sky-ward?

8/07/2008 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

"So when athiests and agnostics whine about the "problem of evil," I see it more as an attempt to categorize and trivialize our sins against God"

Yes, the entire athiest project is really just an attempt to trivialize the idea of sin - especially sexual sin - so that they can shtup whomever they want without feeling guilt. All their fine philosophical rhetoric, scientific doctrines, etc, are in service to that end. (Some atheists are even aware of this.)

It's the little head trying to do the job of the big head.

8/07/2008 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

The reason both you (and he) cannot stop writing about God is because you are made in His image.

Deep calls out to deep.

8/07/2008 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Warren, LOL! I think you nailed it (uhhh, heh).

8/07/2008 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Kepler & Anon 12:39 - Let's quote something else from my website:

Do you really want to assert that God is totally beyond human conception? That means you can't be sure of anything about it - anything at all.

What if there is some kind of God (or gods), and It's exactly like a shepherd... down to the shearing and slaughter, too? (I'm sure sheep feel comforted by the presence of the shepherd... until the knife comes down.) If a God is totally beyond anything we can understand, there's no way to disprove this. By definition, It's perfectly capable of fooling us perfectly. There's no way to tell.

If you try to claim that you have evidence that a god is trustworthy and benevolent... hey, wait, I thought evidence wasn't appropriate here? If you want to appeal to evidence, then you can't claim that evidence is totally irrelevant. You have to deal with all the evidence.

8/07/2008 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

As usual, it's interesting to read the varied theories about my motivations. Still haven't been "pierced to the heart", though. :->

8/07/2008 08:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Dorothy said...

Poor Tin Man!

I still don't want to live in your Kansas.

8/07/2008 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Ray, It is the Christian conviction that God is completely beyond our understanding entirely, unknowable. It however is also, paradoxically, the Christian conviction that Jesus Christ is the express image and likeness of that God, i.e. "When you see me, you see the Father."

This paradox is not resolvable, but you can have a hand at it if you wish. But the Creed establishes the rules for what statements you may not make about it in your attempt. Firstly you may not say that the immanent God is different than the transcendent God, and secondly you may not state that Christ is not God.

You can find the rules by looking up the Nicene Creed (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed)

If you want to argue with something, argue with that and stop biting defenseless sheep.

I must warn you, though, Michael's sword is sharp, and he's out of bubblegum.

8/07/2008 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Susannah - ...the mere fact that he exists means you are HIS PROPERTY and really have no right to question him...

Another quote from the website:

Second, by what authority is God declared to be owner of the universe? Because It created the universe? Well, on what authority does the principle that 'the creator of something owns it' rest? How is that justified? We're back to the Euthyphro Problem. If it's because God says so, we don't have any real authority at all beyond raw power, and God's just the biggest bully around.

On the other hand, if some things just are good, and God is supposed to perfectly conform to these things, then there's no conceivable way God could escape the traditional responsibilities that parents have. If God had created a universe with no sentient beings in it, then It would have the right to do whatever It wanted with that universe. But allegedly God created a universe with people in it, and that would mean God owes us Its care.

Re: the responsibilities of parents:

I took a very large part in the creation of my children (though obviously my wife did more of the work). That doesn't give me carte blanche to do with them as I like, though - indeed, it actually places significant obligations and responsibilities on me. I have to raise them, care for them, teach them, comfort them, discipline them, until they can care for themselves. I mostly enjoy these jobs because I love my children, but even if I didn't I'd still owe them my support.

Even if someone didn't voluntarily undertake the work of creating a child (e.g. a father who used a broken condom, or a mother who was raped) they still are obligated to support the child. At bare minimum, they must find someone else willing to care for them. (We find it understandable if a woman gives a child born of rape up for adoption, but even in that case abandoning a child in a dumpster is not acceptable.) And if the caretakers they select for the child prove to be unsuitable, most people would agree they have a responsibility to intervene. (Indeed, above I stated that anyone has a responsibility to intervene when they become aware of child abuse.)

Even the authority of disciplining children is not unlimited. I have spanked my older sons when they did something both (a) unsafe, and (b) that I have told them not to do. But I can't just spank my children every hour because I feel like it, and I can't morally hand out disproportionate punishments. Our youngest son is, at the moment, only a few months old and quite incapable of doing something worthy of punishment.

God allegedly chose to create sentient beings. That doesn't give It unlimited rights to do whatever It wants with them. It gives It substantial duties and responsibilities toward those beings. These responsibilities include passive duties (e.g. not dropping lava on orphanages) and active ones (e.g. preventing child abuse). I do not see a lot of evidence that any Gods are out there fulfilling these duties in any significant way.

And, elsewhere:

There are cases where one could argue that God needn't intervene - if someone's stupid enough to take dangerous drugs, when they should know better, perhaps. I might allow my children to break some of their toys to learn how to take proper care of things. But I won't knowingly allow one child to break another child's toys. I can see where God might permit a drunk driver to harm themselves, but in light of the above, why should God permit a drunk driver to kill innocent families?

8/07/2008 08:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Alex T said...

It's almost the top of the hour, Ray.

You don't wanna miss "Jeopardy", do you?

8/07/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Ray - And the more you harden your heart in your personal rebellion against your Creator, the less likely that may become. Take care.

8/07/2008 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Ray - Read Christ the Eternal Tao. Eastern Monks work the body, and Western the mind - Damascene gives you the full work out.

As for the quote, I can't argue against it because to argue against it would be to assume certain positions which are in and of themselves entirely false. The ownership of the universe itself is pointless as a legal matter.

Also take note of the similarity between their notion of 'God is the biggest bully..' to Satan's notion of God. They are the same. HINT ENOUGH FOR YOU?

8/07/2008 08:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Reminds me of how one goes bankrupt, either financially or spiritually:

"Very gradually, then all of a sudden."

8/07/2008 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Oh, and Maineman - Delusions, by their nature, conflict with reality and therefore cannot be useful.

Not true. Wilson (whose book I've mentioned before) makes the useful distinction between "factual realism" and "practical realism" here. (Go ahead, you'll like that article. It actually makes a point y'all like to make here.)

8/07/2008 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Ole! Petey!

8/07/2008 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

"I can see where God might permit a drunk driver to harm themselves, but in light of the above, why should God permit a drunk driver to kill innocent families?"

Er, Job? Oldest damn book in the scripture? Er, uh, oh, "I know that my redeemer liveth"?

This life ain't all there is, Buddy.

8/07/2008 08:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In reply to Ray:

God doesn't have any responsibilities, because It is beholden only to Itself. We are It, so there is no actual relationship between people and God. There is no code of conduct needed in the closed system which is God.

You, Ray Ingles, are a piece of God complaining about Itself. Why IT amuses itself this way is the enigma. Of course on some level we are already privy to the answer but just can't recall it at the moment. Freaky, eh?

8/07/2008 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger DCox said...

"I do not see a lot of evidence that any Gods are out there fulfilling these duties in any significant way."

Where do you suppose your concept of moral obligation and duty come from, Ray? Matter?

It's we who are obliged to Him, not the other way around. But we just don't like to admit that, do we? We made this mess, and we deserve to burn in hell for it. That He's made a way for us to be allowed right into his glory, rather than destroyed by it, is MERCY. Starkly put, I know, but it's the truth.

And BTW, who is it that builds orphanages in the shadow of volcanoes? God? Hello. Volcanoes do eventually erupt. Maybe Jonah Goldberg is prescient about that volcano-lancing technology, but until that time....

Jesus said to the disciples re: a disaster (Tower of Siloam): "Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

Of course, in order to repent, you have to recognize your need to do so. That's the real stumbling block here, I think.

8/07/2008 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Susannah said...

Oops, that's Susannah, not her Theology Guy. :) I'd never presume to speak for him.

8/07/2008 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Either:

There is a world I've created in my mind, and everything I read, experience and digest absolutely must conform to the world in my head. Even if I have to pivot and contort the whole Cosmos until it looks like the Obama campaign. The world must conform until it finds its rightful place in my mind.

or:

There is a Mind that has created my world: everything I see, read, and experience in the material. I must find out everything about that mind in order to understand my world and my place in it.

8/07/2008 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

"As usual, it's interesting to read the varied theories about my motivations."

Ray declares he finds it interesting to read about himself.

Big suprise to all no doubt.

Get over yourself Asshat, not everyone here is interested in you or your motivations.

8/07/2008 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray, hint: You can't take it with you. If you can't take it with you, it probably doesn't matter.

Like a kid playing monopoly, and 'winning' while being insufferable, pouty and even cheating, trying to gather up all his hotels, cards, money and piece (probably the top hat) after the game is over to take home and show them to Mom & Dad. It all stays with the game, and Mom & Dad wouldn't likely be too impressed with the worthless stuff anyway. They're not even gonna be too impressed that little Johnny wound up getting sent to jail without passing GO, over and over again, while Billy kept winning the community pot.

But they're gonna have a few things to say about how he played the game.

You don't take your stuff, you don't take your body, no matter the condition. You don't even take your skills, thrills or hopes. The only thing you take with you is the learning you got from the game. Note: not what you learned ('Don't add houses if coming up on 'Go to Jail', buy up property whenever possible'), but the learning that sinks to the soul - if any.

Win or lose - if you Value the wrong things, or learn the wrong lessons, you might as well have not played at all.

8/07/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ooh la la! The lady raccoons were cooking on this post!

8/07/2008 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Um, Ximeze, that's not what I said. The theories seem a lot more revealing about the theorizers than the theorized, that's all.

For now, y'all have beaten down with sheer numbers. I've got things to do, no more time to respond today. Enjoy the break!

8/07/2008 11:43:00 AM  

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