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Jennifer E. Thomas
...... .:::.:.:

It's almost like there are these periods where our relationship is smooth and steady, and then there are times when it's like standing on the edge of this gorgeous, wonderful waterfall and just letting yourself drop, knowing that there's a safe pool of water ready to catch you at bottom. You take the plunge and you're in wayyyy over your head, but oh man, it's exhilarating, it's breathtaking, it's just incredible and you feel better than you ever have before and the water is cool and refreshing and exactly what you needed.

Sam is my waterfall.

- LJ entry from 8/2005


Every Human Has Rights

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Jennifer E. Thomas [userpic]
Falling out

I've had a falling out with an old friend over the fact that I took offense to Christians once again being made fun of.

I'm so tired of double standards. It's okay to make fun of Christians, but not pagans. It's okay to make fun of straight folks, but not the GLTB community. It's okay to X but not to Y. It's okay to label Christians as stupid and gullible, when you are talking to a "friend" whom you are well aware is a Christian, therefore you must consider that "friend" to be stupid and gullible.. so why on EARTH do you have the temerity to call them your "friend"?

And heaven forbid you call them on it.

People who scream YOU MUST BE TOLERANT OF MY BELIEFS AND MY OPINIONS should damn well be just as tolerant of things THEY do not believe or agree with. Otherwise, they are what they claim the Christians to be.

Lying hypocrites.

Borderline symptom of the day: angryextremely angry

I agree completely. I think that a good deal of animosity towards Christians stems from a version of what you're saying here with "gullible and stupid". Many Pagans assume that all Christians believe that Pagans will burn in hell, and yet see the Christians as continuing to worship a being that would torture all Pagans for eternity.

The big mistake here is in lumping people into groups. Not only is it not right to make fun of various Ethno-social groups but it's also wrong to think the groups are uniform enough among members that the jokes even really work in the first place.

So instead I like to just ask people questions if I have them. It seems so much better, and I'm sorry that your friend doesn't see that.

Edited at 2008-08-22 03:05 am (UTC)

I hear ya, Vrax. :)

Matthew 5:38-44

38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Love for Enemies
43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you,

Thought I would paste that in for folks not wanting to open another browser tab.

But I'll add this citation:

Matthew 10:12-17

12As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

17"Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues.

I have seen it over and over. And I'm tired of being flogged in the temple of "Tolerance Above All Else". So I shake the dust from my feet. And I guard my cheek, because it has enough bruises already.

I can understand how frustrating it can be. Christians are supposed to be tolerant and forgiving of Others, but they sometimes seem to work overtime being nasty to us. Granted, there are many among those Others who are loving and caring and forgiving, but as is so often the case, the loud mouthed few give them all a bad name.

I will say I often find that many of the "Fundimental* Evangelical Christians" to be a much bigger pain in the a** than any of the Pagans and Others I have run across.

* Yep, I really did intend that spelling. They usually want money and they are very often "mental" (as in batsh*t crazy).

there was a brilliant article, which i've sadly lost, that pointed out how fundamentalist christianity was a branch of fundamentalism rather than a branch of christianity, and that fundamentalism could be viewed as a religion in its own right, its branches being fundy christian, fundy muslim, etc

I have views on this one...

There's a cultural meme that I think may well shed some light on this subject. It's one that you probably don't agree with...though if you haven't previously considered it, it might at least soften the blow that inspired this LJ entry.

It goes like this: it's socially acceptable to make fun of the majority because they hold all the power; oppressing minorities is not okay, but those whom the minority cannot harm--those who hold all the power--are fair game. It's not discrimination if you don't have the clout to back it up.

Is that fair? In objective terms, no; absolutely not. But subjectively...well, let's just say that I get it. If a minority spends enough time being oppressed, I can understand wanting to have their turn at bat; otherwise it can feel as if the no-longer-oppressing majority just gets a free pass, a total pardon for past wrongdoing, and that can stick in a person's craw.
Now, I can understand how someone might say, "Hey, I was never doing that shit; don't judge ME by the assholes affiliated with my group!" Differentiating between individuals and the group they're a part of--that is to say, not generalizing--is, frankly, a minefield. Maybe an avoidable one, but nonetheless...

Now, on the more general subject of tolerance, I will tolerate anything, so long as those participating in whatever it is keep it from negatively impacting anybody else. As soon as it starts intruding upon my world in an unwelcome way, you'll find me quite intolerant of it...and I think that's perfectly reasonable, and works both ways.

The issue of respect is stickier. For me, if it cannot be shown to be empirically true, or at least reasonably plausible in empirical terms, I'm simply not going to respect that belief. If the belief comes with an admitted grain of salt, I'll show some measure of respect; skepticism--however slight or small--is something I'll always respect. If belief is actually withheld until there is so much evidence that believing anything contrary would be quite foolish, you'll find a lot of respect coming from me. I'm just not built to respect the kind of faith that can be described as "belief without evidence". Unfortunately, that describes pretty much every spirituality besides deism or pantheism.
And this is a case where there actually must be a double standard, because we are not on equal footing. I'm not asking anyone to respect my beliefs; in fact, I'm saying that it's belief itself which is a Bad Thing™. I don't want anyone to take my word for anything, or the word of an authority figure; I want the evidence to speak for itself, for the facts to dictate our worldview, as opposed to beliefs. This means that something I greatly dislike or disagree with could be true, and I would have no choice but to accept it, even if it goes against my worldview; indeed, there are a great many things about the world that I wish were otherwise. But where most people put belief, I do my best to put established, proven fact, which is why there has to be a double standard: because there are two different things.

I think there's some baby-with-the-bathwater thinking in this LJ entry. I've done more than a little research into religiosity thanks to my own pursuit of atheism, and one thing that has been noted many times is that people often compartmentalize their beliefs. There's more than a few scientists out there who behave on the job as if they were atheists, then go to church and behave as if they're fundamentalist creationists; the two worldviews are completely incompatible, yet they manage to hold them at the same time.
It's the same with religious friends; yes, I think religious belief is kinna wacko and hard to respect...but to go from that to assuming that I think of my religious/spiritual friends as 100% unrespectable would be fallacious; respect is as compartmentalized as belief. I don't respect the fandom of my friends who are Trekkies, either; doesn't make them not my friends or not respectable.

I'm trying to find a way to sum this up and largely failing. It's...complicated. Heh. Anyway, I hope this helps, illuminates another perspective, as opposed to angers; such is not my intent.

Re: I have views on this one...

It goes like this: it's socially acceptable to make fun of the majority because they hold all the power; oppressing minorities is not okay, but those whom the minority cannot harm--those who hold all the power--are fair game. It's not discrimination if you don't have the clout to back it up.

the problem with that thinking is that it diminishes and patronises the minority. it says either that they are touchy children who will have a tantrum if you make fun of them, or that their minorityhood is something to be really ashamed of/pitied, so you tiptoe around it, whereas the majority characteristics aren't *really* problems, so go ahead and make jokes at their expense.

the white/black dichotomy is a clear illustration of this - why is "black" considered derogatory by some, but not "white"?

Re: I have views on this one...

I don't think there's much light that needs shedding here. Jenn's gotten tired of this person saying around her and to her that all Christians are hateful, intolerant, gullible, evil people, though she's asked this person repeatedly not to say such things around her and to her. She's fed up with this person demanding tolerance from everyone else for this person's own beliefs without being willing to tolerate Jenn's beliefs in turn. This person's motivations are fairly clear to Jenn; indeed, they're fairly clear to anyone who reads much of what this person writes. It's not a matter of not understanding what this person feels or thinks. It's finally a matter of personal taste: Jenn's fed up and not taking it anymore.

You say:

Differentiating between individuals and the group they're a part of--that is to say, not generalizing--is, frankly, a minefield. Maybe an avoidable one, but nonetheless...
May I ask why it should be a minefield? It would seem to me that unless one deals with people in large groups, one would have good opportunity to pay attention to the particular character of individuals without much regard to group membership.

As to what it means to respect a belief: there is more (and less) to respecting a belief than to accept it as true, is there not? I can respect a fundamentalist-Christian belief to the extent that I don't idly mock or ridicule it, or those who hold it, simply out of civility. This doesn't mean that I consider any part of it true, or that I feel that "divine revelation" is a valid path to knowledge. It just means that I strive to practice good manners. I think that this is what most people mean when they say they respect a belief that they do not share.

It's this minimal level of respect that this person Jenn's talking about refuses to offer to Christians, including Jenn, yet insists on from the rest of the world. I suspect you offer it to your friends, despite the fact that you don't think much of their Trekkie fandom or of their religious beliefs. I'm guessing that you don't go on about how stupid or gullible Trekkies are to them regularly ...

Ah, but are they "making fun of" Christians in general or of things that some subset of Christians do?

Also, tolerating someones beliefs of opinions does not mean that you can't think they are silly or stupid. It means that you acknowledge that they have right to hold them.

I tolerate Flat-Earthers. Doesn't mean I can't say that I think they are stupid.

so unless these people are saying that people shouldn't be allowed to be Christians, they *aren't* being intolerant.

Tolerance <> respect.

There are two points here that are worth bringing out...you can't demand respect for your POV unless you're willing to give it. If you're going to demand tolerance, be willing to give it. And if you're going to demand respect, be willing to give it as well.

Secondly, a lot of people aren't really bashing Christianity, they are bashing a parody of Christianity, and even a parody of what they believe to be Fundamentalist Christianity. *Big* difference there. I've seen the terms "fundamentalist" and "evangelical" frequently used in cases that are clearly incorrect, but since it happens to further the parody that people need to believe exists...

We do this with Islam as well...in this country we really don't understand Islam as much as we have a straw-man parody of it, which allows us to further the us vs. them mentality.

May I ask what, specifically, prompted this? (I know who you're referring to, but others may not, so feel free to point it to me privately if you'd rather.)

Also, can I hope you and they will remain civil to each other in my journal (or in response to entries or comments I leave elsewhere)?

I would never shit in somebody else's sandbox, Pau. My intention is not to drag this into other arenas.

When that person comments, I'll just ignore it.

Wait - since when is it not okay to make fun of pagans? Making fun of pagans is one of my favorite pastimes. Say it ain't so!

Well, M-A, you're always exempt, you know that! Why? Because you hate everybody equally. :)