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Author Topic: rude 'n' ridiculous rants + polite but painfully-slow prattle with passers-by  (Read 19730 times)

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Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #75 on: July 23, 2012, 09:40:37 PM »
The time will come when I abandon this blog altogether, I suppose ... I expect that eventually the few (beloved!) commenters will disappear or cease commenting, and then this blog will feel like a completely solitary endeavor, and then I'll lose interest, as anyone else might.  Such is life. 

Haven't reached that stage yet, though.  :)  I'm glad!

Here's another post that is apropos of nothing.  Do you ever feel so good that you honestly doubt that anyone else has ever felt quite so good in quite that way?  I do that sometimes.  Of course, I suppose, the first times in my life that I imagined I was feeling something totally unique and not 100% the same as anything any other person had ever felt in the history of humankind -- those were times when I felt extraordinarily bad, rather than good.

It's nice to feel remarkably good rather than bad.  Good feelings are gifts from the great beyond, and nothing to take for granted. 

Sharing these moments with you is another thing I don't take for granted.  :)

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #76 on: July 23, 2012, 09:50:52 PM »
Take your time, amigo. No rush.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #77 on: July 24, 2012, 07:12:28 AM »
inchoate speculations and ruminations ...
... on the ethical ramifications of the Colorado shootings, or more specifically, of the possible mindset of the alleged shooter; in what kind of society can such a tragedy occur?, etc.

First, importantly:  recognize the inadvisability of extrapolating grand theories or making sweeping generalizations about society based upon a single instance of grossly-aberrant behavior by a lone individual who is probably mentally deranged.

Second:  recognize that nothing happens in a vacuum; art and entertainment and social mores and the political climate can have wide and often-unrecognized or difficult-to-pin-down consequences on individuals in a society, especially those who are particularly vulnerable or unusually susceptible to delusional thinking or detrimental external influences.

We live in a society in which a growing number of adults and males in particular prefer to entertain themselves by telling each other children's stories that reflect childish values and a childish understanding of society.

Children's stories are designed to entertain children while simultaneously teaching them about the nature and values of society.  The nature and values of society depicted in children's stories are heavily oversimplified in order to appeal to the sensibility and maturity level of children.  Moral complexities are left out altogether.  The way that adults are distinguished from children in society is by developing a mature sense of morality or right and wrong:  adults understand the necessity of having proper priorities in life and the necessity of having civil interactions with other adults; children, on the other hand, have immature priorities and immature interactions with each other.

What are the childish values in these children's stories?  1) Women are limited to roles in which their sexuality is either carefully concealed from view or else paraded about in the dumbest and most crass manner possible.  2) Differences between people are ignored or downplayed, while commonalities are given an exaggerated prominence, in order to teach children the most basic rules of morality and civilized behavior.  3) Solutions to problems are oversimplified in order teach children basic morality and civil behavior.

Adults in our society and male adults in particular are increasingly losing their ability to distinguish between a childish view of reality and that of a mature adult.  A childish perspective of reality is far less complex and therefore much easier for any person to grasp; the trade-off is that society's complexities are flattened or distorted into unrecognizability.  Adults who depend exclusively or predominantly upon children's narratives for their entertainment develop a stunted set of morals and a warped perspective of reality that can have dangerous and detrimental effects on society as a whole.

Superhero stories are children's narratives, originally created for children and intended exclusively for children, and suitable only as children's entertainment.  Adults who glut themselves on such childish pap start to lose their sense of adult reality and adopt childish attitudes towards women and about what kinds of behaviors are appropriate between adults within a given society and among separate civilized societies.

the Colorado shootings = an anomalous but predictable consequence of a society increasingly populated with morally-stunted and developmentally-retarded, overgrown man-children?

Superheroes dress up like children enacting playtime fantasies and solve all problems using violence ... and, nowadays at least, superhero stories openly and unapologetically exclude all roles of women in society other than that of completely unrealistic fantasy sex objects.

Civil society needs art that tells truths about itself and about reality, not art that functions exclusively as escapism and/or the narrative equivalent of junk food.

Increasingly, adult males in our society dress in ways indistinguishable from their own children, eat rich and un-nutritious food suitable only as treats for children, and amuse one another by telling each other stories fit only for children -- stories in which violent solutions to problems are gleefully applauded, moral complexities simply do not exist (negotiated compromises among equal competing parties are completely unnecessary), and women are nothing but brainless fuckmeat.

Careless extrapolations and unjustified, over-extended speculation?  Yes, some, but maybe not all ... (?)
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 07:22:15 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #78 on: July 24, 2012, 07:33:29 PM »
@ Starlequin

Thanks again for being so cool about the slowness of my respondings.  :)

I plan to post a detailed response soon that addresses most of the individual issues you raised, just giving you my thoughts about them.  First though, and much to my surprise, frankly, I feel compelled to write this, in response to your question about why I'm so convinced of my religious beliefs and my interpretation of Christianity.

Underneath everything else, I think there's one thing about Christianity that I've found to be the ultimate decisive factor for me personally.  This is something I only realized a few years ago, although I've been a Christian for a couple decades and change -- since puberty, basically, and I'm 36 now.

I see horrors in the world that are too horrible for me to bear.  Lots of them in fact.  I see horrors that in my opinion are so horrible that no one anywhere should bear them, in my opinion.  None of us should stand for it.  Not for one minute longer.

In my own life, I've experienced nothing more than an iota, a miniscule sliver of the horror that so many others have known in their lives ... And still, frankly, on many occasions, I have abhorred my life enough to wish it was over, or to wish I could escape it altogether or end it completely.  From just my little personal sliver of suffering, I've gotten that low.  (FYI, I'm not capable of suicide, never have been, never tried, never will, guaranteed.  That hasn't stopped me from wanting it very much many times.)

The only sensible response I can find to the horrors in the world around us is for all of us to off ourselves.  I'm not saying I would ever want certain people to die, no, never certain people, but I find it profoundly and unremittingly unacceptable that some people experience the horrors they do in this life, while others ... do not.  They simply do not. 

One of us gets a life of living hell; another doesn't. 

There have been many times when I felt I couldn't stand -- didn't want to stand -- the life I have.  Really, my life isn't bad at all, frankly; I've got it easy, I'm spoiled silly; but I can't stand the notion that other people have the lives they have.  Can you stand it?  How can you stand it?  Someone please tell me how, for God's fucking sake tell me how.  Answer me please.  The worst-off among us; the absolute worst; there are so many.  Many such people.  Many, many, many.  What do we do?  What will we do?  Isn't there anything anyone can do, goddammit?!!

So, there's how black the inside of my head is.  :)  *exhales*  Now.

Christianity tells me this:  the truth is that all of that is a lie.  All of it, every last goddamn motherfucking bit of it is a lie.  All the horror you see, all the horror I see, all the horror I've felt, all of it.  Motherfucking goddamn cocksucking bullshit LIE.

All I do is choose to believe the truth, and I get to see that all of that horror is a lie.  It is.  I see it.  You don't?  You can; you should.  It's true. 

If you can see what I see ... if you could see what's really there, you would want to; you would want everyone to.  It's okay; really okay; all of it.

That is the world I live in; and that is the only world I ever want to live in.  It's the only fucking world I will stand for.  Otherwise, I'd much rather die.  I don't understand how anyone feels differently, anyone with eyes.

The good news is that it isn't up to me.  And I'm not making it up.  And it doesn't matter at all what I think or what you think.  Everything is okay; it's what's really there, whether you and I see it or believe it or not.  It's real, and it's the only thing that's real, the only way things are.  Believe whatever, it doesn't matter.  It still is exactly what it is.  I consider that very good news.

Very good indeed.

I get to choose; I choose the truth; and the truth I choose is this:  God is real.  Life is fair.  Everything matters, everything counts, every fucking goddamn hair on my head is counted, and so is yours, and same for every one of us, every last goddamn motherfucking one of us, no matter how awful it gets, no matter how awful it is for some of us.  It's fair. 

Someone knows; someone cares; someone's keeping track of every single tear and every single hurt, every last motherfucking one. 

And it's already been paid for.  The account has already been settled, and you know what?  The good guys won.  The bad guys lost.  It's all okay, for everyone.  There is no evil greater than good; there isn't even an evil that can touch the good, the real good; "darkness is just a speck in the light."  I believe.  I know.

I get to choose to believe the wonderful goddamn motherfucking Truth, and it is good, and I will choose that choice every moment of every day for as long as I am able.  I will endure, because it's just a matter of waiting, really, at this point; all the work is done.  Jesus did it all, and it's finished.

It's only a matter of time before the veil falls and the light shines and all of us, every one, sees the truth of everything, and every knee bows, and every tongue confesses in unison.  I can wait for it.  I will wait for it.  That's why I believe.

I don't know the other people's reasons, other Christians.  They sound like strangers to me, and I'm sure I sound like a damn unpleasant weirdo to them.  You may have or may find your own reason.  In the end, the reason you have won't matter at all, not a'tall.

Apologies for the emotionalism.  I cry as I write these things.  Yes, literally, this time I mean, not usually.  I don't want to edit anything out.  Thanks for reading.

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #79 on: July 24, 2012, 08:44:19 PM »
@Rick:

No worries, mate. But if you don't mind, I'm going to throw out a little response to this one real quick before the waitresses decide to throw me out of here and I trundle on back home for the night.

The reason I've been so hesitant to post any comments in this blog of yours will probably sound ridiculously arrogant to anyone reading it, but here it is: I'm aware (well, I have an inkling, at least) of how important your faith is to you. And I really, really don't want to break it. I'm sure you think there's no way I could do something like that; you probably think it would be like the wind shattering a mountain. But I've broken the beliefs of a few people before (including a pastor at the church I was raised in), and I know that it's both possible, and not pretty.

But from what you've written, I'm left with one of two conclusions: Either nothing I can say will ever get through to you and I'll never change your mind or even put a dent in your faith, or you really, really need someone to break you out of it. I don't mean to attack you personally; in my experience the only reason conversations like these get heated like they sometimes do is because both parties genuinely care about each other. But I can't help but feel, perhaps as you did, that this post deserves a response.

Here is mine.

I've seen the horrors you've mentioned. We all have. Crime. Poverty. Genocide. Torture. Abuse. Neglect. Cruelty. And you're right, no one anywhere should ever have to suffer these things. And no one should be able to stand by and allow it to continue. But there's so much of it, and it's everywhere. Trying to take it all on would be like trying to sweep up a desert.

And I've felt some of these horrors firsthand. I grew up with siblings that tried more than a few times to end my life, and a father who viewed me as nothing but a free chip in his game of emotional blackmail and abuse against my mother. And I too have reached the point from time to time that the gun in my closet, or that bottle of sleeping pills in the cabinet has looked real tempting. But those are temptations I can withstand. I've pushed them away before, and if I have to, I'll keep pushing until the very thought is out of my head for good. Because again, like you, my life is peaches and cream compared to what's out there. I'm a Caucasian, closeted bisexual atheist living in the United States of America (Bible Belt, but you can't have everything, lol). Compared to many, I live like a fucking king. And yeah, some people have it better, and I'm juuust petty enough to feel a tinge of jealousy or envy when I see some entitled douche driving around in a brand new car with a gorgeous woman at his side, acting like he hasn't got a problem in the world. (Of course, I know he does, even if he isn't aware of them.)

Now here is where we diverge. You say that you're angry when you look at all that, that it fills you with rage that there's so much apparent injustice in the world, and it makes you want to turn away and die.

Frankly, pal, if it makes you want to quit -- you're not fucking angry enough.

I feel that rage too, Rick. But it doesn't make me want to quit. It makes me want to fucking hit back.

You say your belief lets you call all that horror and unfairness a lie, that it doesn't matter because God is going to come down one day and make everything better. Goood for you.

But it's not a lie, amigo. To the child that just starved to death in a cold wet ditch while I was typing this sentence, it was as real as it fucking gets. To the mother who just watched her daughter lose her battle against an incurable cancer, it was reality dialed to godsdamned 11. To the man who just found out his wife was raped and left to die in an alley and doesn't even know if she'll make it to morning, it doesn't get more real than this. You can still call it all a lie, and hell, you might even turn out to be right. But the pain that that lie causes is still real. That's the truth.

The good news is, it is up to you, and me, and everyone else on the planet. I don't have to make that up. And it does matter what you and I think. Everything is not okay, but it can be. One day. When enough of us find the strength to rise up and say, "No. I will not let another person feel this kind of pain anymore. I will not let any more children suffer. I will protect. I will uplift. I will trust. I will heal," you'll see your heaven. Right here.

I don't get to choose, because the truth is not a democracy. Life is real. There's no such thing as 'fair' until we make it. Nothing matters except to us, so we all have the responsibility to matter to each other. No matter how awful it gets, we have the power to make things as right as they can be made.

I know. You know. We care. But we aren't keeping score of every last hurt, because we have a future to build. Every last fucking one of us.

And it hasn't been paid for, not yet. Downpayments have been made, but this fight is still going on. We can still lose; the bad guys can still win. And that means we don't get to sit back and watch the pretty fireworks or wait for the credits to roll. That means we have to get off our asses and keep fighting. We are the lights in the darkness, and we can't let ourselves burn out because there are still people counting on us.

I do what I can. It's not much, I admit. For now. But if everyone does what they can, even if it's not much...if we can learn to work together...we can sweep away the desert.

So grab a fucking broom.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #80 on: July 24, 2012, 09:55:56 PM »
Wowza.  :)  There's plenty more there that I would love to respond to, and I haven't even gotten around to responding to everything from the previous post. 

I hope I haven't given you the sense that any of my anger or negativity was directed at you, Star.  I think it's appropriate and healthy to get emotionally stirred up when discussing issues that are important enough or personal enough.  In almost any other context, I would not let others see (read) about such personal emotional responses; I would even consider it inappropriate in certain places.  But, this blog is kind of my place to experiment with letting everything show for a change, including emotional stuff.  You shouldn't get the impression that it's an unintentional display of emotions, because it's much the opposite; and I have nothing but appreciation and high regard and friendly feelings towards you personally, Star.

I'll have more to say later, but there was one other thing ...

If you believe or think that I have wrong or mistaken views about anything, especially about anything important, I would like to hear as much about that as you're willing to tell me.  You know so, so much that I don't know.  Don't hold back -- it's for my own benefit.  I am wrong about things sometimes, plenty of times, even important things. 

If I believe in a religion that is untruthful, then in my opinion, you would be doing me a very great service by helping me to see that.  No joke.  People get fooled all the time, and I'm not immune, nor would I ever want to be too proud or too stubborn to ignore frank criticisms from well-intentioned people. 

It's likely that we'll come away from our dialog with many points of disagreement, Star, but that's to be expected any time that people go into a discussion starting out from different perspectives.  I still want to hear anything and everything you have to say, and you never know when a comment will sink in later on, even after the conversation has ended.  Many times that's the most that people with strong disagreements can hope for, to have some gradual effect upon one another's perspective.

Getting perspectives from other readers is just as welcome.  I can listen and learn; I'm interested, I want to know; and I don't expect people to necessarily agree with me, before or after the conversation.

Did I say that right?  Hope so.  :)  Back again before long.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 10:00:16 PM by rick957 »

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #81 on: July 24, 2012, 11:13:09 PM »
Again, no worries, pod. I understand. The anonymity of the 'net does wonders for emotional catharsis, lol. Sometimes you just need to let it out, or it'll kill you. I know your anger isn't directed at anyone on here, and that's cool; neither is mine.

As for me knowing things you don't...I doubt it, lol. But as long as you don't want me to hold back, I do have one more question to toss your way, and then I'll shut up and let you start working on your response.

If the god that you worship is so ultimately good, perfectly loving, all-powerful and omnibenevolent (I'm presuming here, since these attributes are most commonly ascribed to the Judeo-Christian God)...then why did he need/want/choose something as vicious and barbaric as human sacrifice as the *only way* to offer us salvation and forgiveness? It would have been effortlessly simple to make literally anything else the way to salvation. A ritualized dance, pilgrimage to sacred locations, sacrificial totems, magic springs of genuine living water placed conveniently around the world, a fucking cookie recipe, anything would be better than demanding a payment of blood and pain and death in exchange for human beings being human. That just doesn't sound like the idea of a supposedly perfect, all-knowing being that wants to 'save' humanity. It sounds like the idea of primitive, barely civilized men who wanted to control their fellow tribesmen.

Shutting up nao! :P
~Starlequin

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #82 on: July 25, 2012, 02:18:42 PM »
Glad we're able to discuss these issues without hating each other or trying to stomp on each other.  That's nothing to be taken for granted, IMO.  :)

Alright, there's a lot of stuff you said, Star, that I think deserves some response, so this will be a long long post; don't feel obligated to read all of it closely or respond to any particular thing.



First ... by now I've read enough of your opinions on these religious/philosophical/ethical/existential issues to sense that you have a very well-thought-out and closely-held perspective.  I respect and admire that; I would hope that any adult would give these issues similar serious consideration until they reached some conclusions they felt they could live with and stand by.  I fret over the propensity in our modern day and age for people to be so busy throughout their lives that simple relaxation is a scarce opportunity, and time for serious reflection on larger issues is rare indeed, almost a luxury for the idle or the obsessed (I am both). 

What we're talking about here are important issues that have huge consequences for how people live their lives ... Yet so many of us put off thinking about such things until much or all of their lives have already passed.  I see it happening to peers and parents and grandparents.  Each person has to decide how much time to set aside for philosophical speculation, I guess, but it seems like a hopeless task and therefore a waste of valuable time to many people.

I think if you're able to articulate your positions and questions as clearly as you have here, then you've almost certainly done the necessary thinking to arrive at a mature and legitimate personal perspective.  No one can consider every philosophical alternative, but you've obviously considered several before getting to where you are now.

All that to say that I'm really not sure that I can add much of value to your thinking about these topics.  We both realize that you and I have arrived at very different places philosophically, but that's how it goes, and probably how it's supposed to go, many times.  I don't think I could change your mind about much no matter how hard I tried, and I don't think I should really try to do that anyway.

I'm going to try to respond to the issues you raised by simply sharing (with as much humility as I can muster) what little I've learned about these topics.  I will almost certainly be reiterating perspectives you have considered previously and already discarded, perhaps using very sophisticated counter-arguments, and that's okay with me.  If I'm lucky, I'll say just one or two things in all this sea of words that you hadn't considered before, and if that happens, I'll be happy.  :)  You've already said a whole shitload of things that I had either not considered before or not considered carefully enough, and for that I am more grateful than I could possibly say.  (Same goes for a handful of other Elliquians whom I've had the privilege of discussing these kinds of topics with; I come away from the discussions often disagreeing but having benefited richly from the dialogs.  It's great.)



Yesterday or the day before I posted an unexpectedly emotional post about why I believe the things I believe.  Afterwards I realized that I unintentionally misrepresented one important factor, and I'd like to correct that quickly before continuing.

As reasons for my beliefs, I pointed to both the unfair suffering in my own personal life and the unfair suffering that I perceive in the world around me.  I think I put too much emphasis on the latter and not enough on the former.  Both types of suffering have had big effects on the formation of my current perspective, but if I am honest, it's the personal and immediate stuff that has affected me more -- much, much more.  Like anyone else might, I have worked all my adult life to build a happy and fulfilling life for myself, and along the way, I have hit gigantic roadblocks of various kinds.  It's in dealing with those roadblocks that my perspective was most profoundly and decisively shaped.  Although I have many altruistic and humanitarian impulses, those pale next to the desires I have that are focused on myself, that are "selfish," but not necessarily in a bad or unhealthy way.

I fear my post before made me out to be far more of a selfless humanitarian than I actually am.  :)  I'm self-centered, usually in unhealthy ways, but in some ways too that are just normal and unavoidable and even healthy.  I shouldn't pretend otherwise.


 

On to Star's messages; replying to them out of chronological order, for the sake of convenience.

Quote
I've seen the horrors you've mentioned. We all have. Crime. Poverty. Genocide. Torture. Abuse. Neglect. Cruelty. And you're right, no one anywhere should ever have to suffer these things. And no one should be able to stand by and allow it to continue. But there's so much of it, and it's everywhere. Trying to take it all on would be like trying to sweep up a desert.

And I've felt some of these horrors firsthand. I grew up with siblings that tried more than a few times to end my life, and a father who viewed me as nothing but a free chip in his game of emotional blackmail and abuse against my mother. And I too have reached the point from time to time that the gun in my closet, or that bottle of sleeping pills in the cabinet has looked real tempting. But those are temptations I can withstand. I've pushed them away before, and if I have to, I'll keep pushing until the very thought is out of my head for good. Because again, like you, my life is peaches and cream compared to what's out there. I'm a Caucasian, closeted bisexual atheist living in the United States of America (Bible Belt, but you can't have everything, lol). Compared to many, I live like a fucking king. And yeah, some people have it better, and I'm juuust petty enough to feel a tinge of jealousy or envy when I see some entitled douche driving around in a brand new car with a gorgeous woman at his side, acting like he hasn't got a problem in the world. (Of course, I know he does, even if he isn't aware of them.)

Now here is where we diverge. You say that you're angry when you look at all that, that it fills you with rage that there's so much apparent injustice in the world, and it makes you want to turn away and die.

Frankly, pal, if it makes you want to quit -- you're not fucking angry enough.

I feel that rage too, Rick. But it doesn't make me want to quit. It makes me want to fucking hit back.

You say your belief lets you call all that horror and unfairness a lie, that it doesn't matter because God is going to come down one day and make everything better. Goood for you.

But it's not a lie, amigo. To the child that just starved to death in a cold wet ditch while I was typing this sentence, it was as real as it fucking gets. To the mother who just watched her daughter lose her battle against an incurable cancer, it was reality dialed to godsdamned 11. To the man who just found out his wife was raped and left to die in an alley and doesn't even know if she'll make it to morning, it doesn't get more real than this. You can still call it all a lie, and hell, you might even turn out to be right. But the pain that that lie causes is still real. That's the truth.

The good news is, it is up to you, and me, and everyone else on the planet. I don't have to make that up. And it does matter what you and I think. Everything is not okay, but it can be. One day. When enough of us find the strength to rise up and say, "No. I will not let another person feel this kind of pain anymore. I will not let any more children suffer. I will protect. I will uplift. I will trust. I will heal," you'll see your heaven. Right here.

I don't get to choose, because the truth is not a democracy. Life is real. There's no such thing as 'fair' until we make it. Nothing matters except to us, so we all have the responsibility to matter to each other. No matter how awful it gets, we have the power to make things as right as they can be made.

I know. You know. We care. But we aren't keeping score of every last hurt, because we have a future to build. Every last fucking one of us.

And it hasn't been paid for, not yet. Downpayments have been made, but this fight is still going on. We can still lose; the bad guys can still win. And that means we don't get to sit back and watch the pretty fireworks or wait for the credits to roll. That means we have to get off our asses and keep fighting. We are the lights in the darkness, and we can't let ourselves burn out because there are still people counting on us.

I do what I can. It's not much, I admit. For now. But if everyone does what they can, even if it's not much...if we can learn to work together...we can sweep away the desert.

So grab a fucking broom.

It's humbling and quite moving to hear you talk about these subjects, even if you're disagreeing with things I've said.  I can't help but admire your stance; I imagine that it's very close to the stances taken by a great many of my personal heroes -- historical figures, certain public speakers, many pop musicians, writers, other kinds of artists, etc. etc. etc.  Very few of my personal heroes and people I look up to share my philosophical/religious perspective.  Most of them would probably approve of yours.

I think you already know that I strongly disagree with your perspective, and it's not the intentions or goals that I would quibble with; your intentions and goals are an inspiration to me.  It's the philosophical underpinnings of your viewpoint that I can't accept.  I believe what Christianity has taught me, that people are flawed and cannot fix themselves or their world, no matter how hard they try.  That doesn't always mean they shouldn't try.  People who take responsibility for their lives and their world and put in the sweat and toil to make it better -- I revere those people; I aspire to have their tenacity, their strength of will, their patience, their optimism, their caring.  Many of these people who are non-Christians (almost certainly including you, Star) are "better" in a moral sense than me or most of the Christians I've encountered.

But as I tried to explain a while back in response to something Oniya said, morality is not the point of Christianity, and it can even be a distraction from the real point.

If morality isn't the point of Christianity, then what is the point?  Well, if you really want to know that, I sincerely hope you'll put the question to someone more knowledgeable than I am about Christianity, because I am a poor representative and a weak advocate indeed.  I will mislead you, no matter how hard I try not to.  If you want to know the real deal, talk to a clergy-person or someone else you consider trustworthy who believes in Christianity -- pleaseThey can lead you right and show you the truth.  I can only flail in the general direction of the truth and hope not to fuck things up too badly.  :)

Here's what I think Christianity is about:  total submission of each individual to God's plan (in Jesus); total transformation of each individual by God; total blessing of each individual by God.  (The submission part is where the faith, the belief, comes in.)  It's not about fixing the world; the world is not and will not be fixed by any people, no matter how hard they try, no matter how well-intentioned.  People will continue to make big mistakes.  People will continue to hurt each other, no matter how hard they try not to.

The fantasy of a world in which people rise up and better themselves and bring about a utopian society with fairness and equity and prosperity for all?  That's exactly what it is:  a fantasy.  It may be a fantasy that has inspired many great people to give their whole lives over to doing immeasurably-valuable and important service that has benefitted all of humanity, but it's still a fantasy.  A fantasy is a kind of lie.  I'm after the truth.

One more thing.  If anyone really wants to improve their lives or their world, the best thing they can possibly do is not to steel themselves and work for it; that effort, however well-intentioned and morally admirable, will not fix either the individual or the world.  The best thing they can do is turn to the truth of Christianity, submit to it, and let themselves be transformed and blessed by it.  Then and only then can they begin to make themselves and their world truly better.

It's a huge and important and fundamental disagreement.  It's somewhat ironic, however, and perhaps even unfortunate in a weird way, that the people who agree with you, Star, are living lives that Christians should admire and seek to emulate.  People with your perspective are probably most of the ones doing the real work to make the world better, and Christians would do well to learn from them and follow their example ... except the underlying philosophy, which is false.  IMO; YMMV.

I intended to talk in detail about many other things, but this is already so long that I'm going to stop here and post it.  Anyone (including you, Star!) is welcome to respond to any of this, but whether others respond or not, I plan to respond later to other things in Star's posts.  Sorry for the higgledy-piggledy disorganization and endless delays; I'm doing the best I can!  :)  And enjoying the process.  Thanks!


« Last Edit: July 25, 2012, 03:04:51 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #83 on: July 25, 2012, 10:42:47 PM »
Fucking fuck fuck.  :(

I just learned about this person whom I barely know who's literally begging people for money on eBay because he's about to get evicted and can't earn enough from his two jobs to prevent it.  I bought some stupid comic book stuff off this guy a while back.

You know, no matter who you are, you have problems that seem real to you and that bother you.  And no matter who you are, there's a person out there who has problems that make your problems look like nothing at all by comparison.  And no matter who you are, there's a person out there whose worst problems ever would seem like nothing at all compared to your problems.

If you looked at all the people who ever lived in the history of the world, and you compared all the problems faced by all those people, I and my problems would be nothing compared to 99.9% of those people, easy.  No doubt.  If you did the same thing just for the people who are alive at this moment?  95% or better.  Easy.  Maybe as high as 99.9%, even for the currently alive people.  My life is fucking pie, fucking boardwalk baby, easy street, whatever.

How are you supposed to feel about this?  I just don't know.  How do you get to where you feel okay not feeling bad about your own privileges and good fortune?

*goes for teh vodka*

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #84 on: July 26, 2012, 02:53:16 PM »
Don't forget to tip your waitress or bartender, folks.  :) 

What's a "tip"?  A tip is a quick post to this blog from you, a reader.  The post looks just like this:

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$1

Easy, right?  You can use your own currency if you like. 

The nice thing about tips for me, the blog writer, is that I know a real live human being stopped by and read some part of the blog. 

The nice thing about tips for you, the reader, is that you don't have to say anything else in your post, and leaving a tip does not mean anything in particular except that you read something here. 

It doesn't mean you loved what you read, or hated what you read, or that you necessarily plan to read more or not read more.  You can tell me any of that stuff if you want, by simply posting a comment -- I love those too -- but that's not what the tips are for.

Leaving a tip just means you were here today. 

If you visit frequently, you don't need to leave a tip every time; once in a while would be great though.  :) 

In other words, this is my latest scheme to figure out if any humans visit the blog or if it's all searchbots.  Why do I care one way or the other?  Oh, I dunno; it's just a natural point of curiosity, to me.  I don't understand why some bloggers would not care whether their blogs get read or not.  Meh, no big deal of course.

So, if you stop by ... don't forget to leave a tip.  :)  Thanks!
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 02:55:09 PM by rick957 »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #85 on: July 26, 2012, 02:57:28 PM »
Tip:  Don't tug on Superman's cape.  Don't spit into the wind.  Don't pull the mask off that ol' Lone Ranger.  Don't mess around with Jim.





;-)

Offline Oreo

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #86 on: July 26, 2012, 03:07:12 PM »
Tip: Most people tend to look down while they are walking. Don't forget to look up.

Thanks for the Blog Rick.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #87 on: July 26, 2012, 04:04:44 PM »
Kind and wise tips, or even silly ones, are just as welcome as the cash kind.  :)  People at Elliquiy are so creative and pleasantly unpredictable.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #88 on: July 26, 2012, 04:36:34 PM »
Here's something that will sound negative to some people but really isn't.  I've done more crying in the past decade of my life than in any other since the first.  Not just about awfully awful things, but about awfully wonderful things, too.  It's an ability that I've always admired in others and sought to emulate.

Some people think that men shouldn't cry, or adults shouldn't cry, or adult men shouldn't cry.  Nothing against people who feel that way; to each his own; but as for me?  I say phooey to all that nonsense.  ;)  In my opinion, the world has a great many things in it that deserve to be cried about, that ought to be cried about.  There are so many terrible things that no one wants to think about, and when one hears about one of those things, and one feels inclined to cry, I think it's very healthy to do so.  Then there are all these things in life that are so wonderful that they're completely overwhelming; one feels awe and wonder to behold such things; one feels humbled to be in the presence of such things, to receive the gift of witnessing such things.  Acts of kindness, selflessness, charity, bravery.  Moments of happiness so sublime that all one can do is tear up and feel thankful for them.

In the space of two hours today, I shed exactly three tears:  two over something unspeakably awful, a piece of news reportage on NPR; and one over something unspeakably wonderful, a selfless act of charity on the part of one of my family members.  I'm glad I can cry over these things; it feels like a privilege.  And the cathartic emotional release is unbeatable. 

It doesn't make me anything special or impressive, but I think it means that I'm open to my feelings and unashamed to let them simply be whatever they are.  Or at least, I'm getting more that way, and I'm glad.  YMMV.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #89 on: July 26, 2012, 05:10:49 PM »
I commented just recently on a YouTube video - an audio-with-slideshow of the Scorpions' 'Wind of Change' - about how the video showing their performance at the site of the Berlin Wall always makes me well up.  Some emotions are just too powerful to be expressed any other way.  May you have more happy tears than sad ones.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #90 on: July 27, 2012, 08:28:04 PM »
A nice concise factoid to support my theory of the end of the popular music era in the U.S.:

"It's been a tough decade for the music industry. Revenues have tumbled from more than $14 billion in 1999 down to $7 billion last year" (source).

I'd say it's more than a theory except I haven't heard it talked about that way yet in popular media; to me, that's a dumb and even suspicious oversight.  (I'm not usually big on conspiracy theories, but in the age of mega-merged-mega-business, all the remaining major record labels are owned by the same conglomerates that own all the major media outlets.  I don't have sources for that claim, but I think it would be easy to find them.)

Music isn't a popular medium anymore, not in the way it was since the beginning of rock in the Fifties, and probably before that too -- since the beginning of widely-distributed recorded music in the Twenties.  The real decline started only in the past 15 years or so, and in my opinion, it's been underreported and widely misunderstood. 

Losing half your business that quickly isn't shrinkage, it's death throes.  I often see people unfamiliar with the numbers and facts who seem to believe that pop music still reaches a large swath of the public; it doesn't.

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #91 on: July 27, 2012, 08:55:17 PM »
A sad thought, if true. But have you taken into account the new distribution models allowed by the Internet regarding your theory? I'd wager one of the main reasons for the decline of label profits is the rise of direct distribution, cutting out the middlemen of brick and mortar stores and physical media and allowing musicians to wield finer control over the production and sale of their work. Maybe I'll sound  a little naive, but I can't believe something as primal and free as music will ever become an 'unpopular' medium of expression.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #92 on: July 27, 2012, 10:26:31 PM »
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A sad thought, if true. But have you taken into account the new distribution models allowed by the Internet regarding your theory?

Yes, yes! 

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I'd wager one of the main reasons for the decline of label profits is the rise of direct distribution, cutting out the middlemen of brick and mortar stores and physical media and allowing musicians to wield finer control over the production and sale of their work.

No, no!  :)  So far, this is just wishful thinking and hype disseminated and propagated by the same major media news outlets that in my opinion have failed to adequately cover the dramatic decline of the music industry overall.  Those outlets do a great job of covering new technology developments that may one day revolutionize and democratize music distribution.  But by failing to put any of those stories into proper perspective, they give everyone the impression that the industry is already benefiting from those technologies in a big way, and that is so not true. 

It intrigues me not only because I'm a music freak but because the truth of the situation is the exact opposite of what's widely believed and reported.  Those kinds of situations fascinate me to no end.

Here's a bit of support for my claims, from the same article referenced above; emphasis added by me:

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David Balto, an antitrust attorney who consults for Universal ... believes no single record label can dominate the current market when artists can reach their fans directly through a variety of online distributors from Bandcamp to CD Baby to iTunes and Spotfy.

"The record labels are no longer the kinds of gatekeepers they were a decade ago," Balto says. "That's because the Internet has led to a dynamic explosion of competitive alternatives here. And it's those competitive alternatives that really control the market."
 
Gigi Sohn, president of the consumer rights group Public Knowledge, says that's just not true. "If you look at the Billboard Top 100 for 2011, every single one of that hundred is a musician that has a contract with a major label," she says, either directly or they have contracts with the major labels to distribute their music.

In other words, all the money in the industry still flows through the old companies; as soon as you put the hype into proper perspective, there are no internet-only success stories.  I suspected that already, but even I with all my cynicism was shocked that not even one artist in the Top 100 last year reached the public using only the internet or other new means of distribution.

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Maybe I'll sound  a little naive, but I can't believe something as primal and free as music will ever become an 'unpopular' medium of expression.

I agree there -- my opinion is that people are still listening to shitloads of music and will continue to do so.  What they aren't doing anymore and may never do again is listen in large numbers to the same, new music.  It's a fantastic irony:  there's more new stuff available than ever before, and it's reaching fewer people in aggregate than ever before.  That's a news story I'd like to see coverage on. 

Ending on an optimistic note:  I think the tide is going to turn dramatically on all those downward trends in the music industry, and it'll happen soon ... but exactly when and how is a complete mystery.  IMO.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 10:36:43 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #93 on: July 28, 2012, 02:03:46 AM »
*frowns at the tip jar ... gets caught doing it by some patron ... starts whistling to self and pretends he was wiping off the counter instead*  ;)


@ Starlequin

(Gah!  Believe it or not, this post was shortened a bit from its first draft.  :(  Sorry dude!  It's a curse, my loquaciousness.)

Okay, this is a "catch up" post, going back and trying to cover all the points in Starlequin's posts that I wanted to cover, and doing it as quickly as I am able, without fussing over the quality of the writing too too much, as I often do.  What I said in my last long post is probably much more important than what I'm going to say here, so if you only have time to read one post or the other, read that one, please.  :)

Star:  you sent me a PM or two long ago that I intended to reply to and never did.  Sorry about that!  I enjoy PMing, but other things like this blog have monopolized my Elliquiy time lately.  I hope our conversation here has been enjoyable for you instead.  By now, you've probably heard far more from me than you ever wanted to, right?  ;)

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For several days, I've contemplated whether or not I should leave a reply or a comment in this blog. I know you've asked for feedback repeatedly, and I've been glad to see that you've received it from others, but until now I haven't felt as if I've had anything of value to contribute. Of course, that may still be the case; that judgement will be made by the readers.

As it happens, I too have recently begun examining my own beliefs with a more critical eye than I've ever brought to bear on the matter. In fact, I suppose I was encouraged or inspired by some of the same discussions in the P&R thread that probably motivated you to start this blog. But whereas you appear to have taken the path of strengthening or bolstering your faith, I have begun to systematically dismantle mine.

So glad you decided to post here, and glad you've put critical thought into such important topics that many people never get around to.

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After an unpleasant childhood upbringing in the Baptist church and the obligatory teenage occult interest, I grew up and spent about ten years as what many would term an 'apatheist', which is to say I didn't know whether a god existed, and I really didn't care anymore if it did or not. I had reached the conclusion that any superior being that could exist in such a state as to be completely undetectable to an inquiring mind would almost certainly be absolutely  incomprehensible to that mind, and so it mattered to me about as much as thermonuclear physics matters to a penguin. God exists, god doesn't exist, just shut the hell up and pour the friggin' Cheerios.

Heh.  This isn't an unreasonable position.  The Christian response as far as I know would be to say that the Bible and Jesus's incarnation were both huge efforts by God to connect with people, to make himself detectable and known.  I'm sure you knew about that claim already.

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Perhaps two years ago, I discovered the idea of pandeism, the concept that the whole of existence is the result of God (for lack of a better term) 'self-destructing', blowing himself to smithereens and creating what we've come to know as space, time, matter and energy as a result. (Which is supposedly the cause of the Big Bang.) I'm sure smarter people than I can pinpoint other flaws in this theory, but for me, the fatal flaw in this model of reality is that it's ultimately useless. To say that God is the universe is tantamount to saying the universe is the universe, which is saying the same thing, which is redundant. :P

This theory is totally new to me and strikes me as hugely funny.  :)  No offense to anyone who takes it seriously; I'm sure there's a way to do that, and hey, to each his own.

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Now, after several weeks of consideration, deliberation, aggravation, meditation, investigation, condensation and relaxation by masturbation, I've begun to approach a new conclusion: atheism. I've spent hours upon hours (uponhoursuponhoursuponhours) poring over philosophy, evolutionary biology, geological history and astrophysics, and although I'll admit I've had to take the word of several ladies and gentlemen with disgustingly long strings of impressive and respectable letters after their names, I've become more and more convinced that there simply is no need for any supernatural 'First Cause', or 'Creator'. To stare into the face of the evidence that has been collected so far (and that is currently being gathered), nearly every piece of which has a natural, physical explanation (or will soon), and still say 'Nope, uh-uh, God dun it' is to claim that either every scientist who has ever tackled the mysteries of origin has been a liar or wrong, or that God is just the ultimate champion of Hide and Seek -- and he's cheating.

As a Christian, I believe that God created everything that there is, but I have no qualms whatsoever with evolution or any other major part of science, nor am I comfortable at all with religious people who dispute established science based on crappy pseudo-science.  Also, more importantly, I can't think of anything about the origins of the universe that amounts to a key, central claim of Christianity, so anyone who asserts otherwise is getting sidetracked by unimportant stuff, in my opinion. 

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And now let's talk about the Abrahamic faith, from which your beliefs appear to spring. If we take the Bible as the perfect, complete, incorruptible and infallible Word of God, then we must reject not only our own sense of reason and logic, but centuries of conflicting accounts and evidence. It seems pretty widely accepted that most of the books of the Bible weren't even written by their supposed authors, or during their supposed time frames. There are so many contradictions in this book, so many falsehoods and errors that I won't even attempt to catalog them; instead, here. Skeptic's Annotated Bible. Knock yourselves out.

So if the Bible is so rife with mistakes and contradictions, how can it be perfect? If it's not perfect, why cling so tightly to it?

I don't see the historical scholarship about the Bible's authors and origins as an important factor at all with regard to those key claims of Christianity ... No matter who wrote the Bible or how messed-up the Bible got over the years or how many contradictions it contains, it still includes a few key propositions about reality and about Jesus that each person needs to decide either to believe or disbelieve.  Those are the parts that really matter to me.  I care about all of it, somewhat, but in terms of relative importance -- the key claims are the ocean; the rest is just a drop.

If the key claims are false, then anything else about Jesus or the Bible isn't all that important to me, except as historical curiosities.  If the key claims are true, then I feel that I have to make Christianity the focus of my existence; that's what I've attempted to do.

It occurs to me that I really should specify the key claims I'm referring to.  I'm going to write up the key claims soon for a post here, just so I can refer to it in the future.  I'm starting to think there's just too much confusion in the general public (even in the USA, and even among Christians) over which claims are key and which aren't, and obviously, that distinction is extremely important to me.

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My next points will deal with Jesus directly. Leaving aside the debate over whether the character of Jesus Christ even really existed (there is a surprisingly large community of biblical and historical scholars that believe he didn't), why are you so certain your interpretation of his teachings and actions are accurate?

This to me is the most crucial question you asked, which is why I did a couple posts before trying to address this question at length.

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Among those who accept his existence, some suspect that his teachings had nothing to do with God and Heaven, but instead were concerned with freeing the Jewish people from the Roman Empire. The character of Jesus was and is widely regarded as a political radical; it's entirely possible that's because he was just a leader of an all-too-earthly Jewish resistance against Roman rule and occupation.

Again, only the key claims really matter; if they're false, then the rest becomes academic and uninteresting to me.

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And that's not even mentioning the point that if you accept the evidence of evolution, then there was in fact no Adam and Eve to eat the apple, no fall from grace, no original sin, and therefore why send Jesus to die for it?

I don't see evolution as being at odds with the idea that people are fundamentally tainted with sin.  Whether the Adam and Eve story is historical or allegorical or just a fairy tale, the point of the story is to show the background for that flaw in humanity.  I think you could throw out that story altogether and still accept the idea that people are all sinners (tainted/flawed), so the details of the Adam and Eve story are -- once again -- something of a side issue, in my view.

Now, whether or not humans are sinful/flawed is a key issue, and I accept the claim that they are; partly I accept it based on faith alone, but partly I've seen in my own life supporting evidence of that inescapable, basic flaw:  no matter how hard I try, I fail at many things and hurt others or hurt myself, and no amount of effort stops that from happening for very long.

I don't think it's dishonest or unreasonable for other people to imagine that humanity is fundamentally good or at least has the potential for good; I just think that isn't the way things really are.  There are well-known arguments on both sides that anyone can find and consider, and I'm not half as smart as some of the people who put forth those arguments.  At the end of the day, based on my limited knowledge and personal experience and observation, I choose to believe the Christian claim of human sinfulness.  Others don't.

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And then, there's the concept of heaven and hell, and celestial judgement. Sooo much wrong with this, where to begin. I'll start with the point you raised, that God's sense of moral right and wrong is so superior to ours that it makes ours seem broken by comparison. This really sounds like moving the goalpost, changing the definitions of right and wrong until it fits your idea, but I'll accept it for now. So the question now is, if there was no literal fall from grace and no original sin, how did we get 'broken'?

Christianity claims that we're each born with a sinful nature that we inherited, but it also claims that even if we didn't inherit that, we would each make the same wrong choice and end up sinful anyway.  Sounds like a bit of a whopper, I know; hard to prove, damn hard.  I accept it, with some reservations.

I find it pretty easy to believe that I'm not perfect ... whatever that means; and it doesn't matter much to me what word is used for that human imperfection (you could say people are sinful, or flawed, broken, incomplete, tainted, etc.).  The idea sounds right and feels right to me; it makes some deep sense.  Whether I'm an "evil" person or not is much easier for me to question or doubt; but whether I'm perfect or not?  Nah, that I ain't.  I accept that God is perfect as a simple matter of faith; Christianity says he's real and he's perfect.  No proof at hand that you could touch or see, not direct proof, at least.

These are not simple or easy or unimportant questions.  People smarter than you or I have disagreed over the answers; people have literally killed each other over the answers.  You know that of course, but it's worth mentioning. 

Honestly and frankly, I want to know why reality is set up the way it is; even though I accept Christianity's claims about reality, I do not pretend to understand why things had to be that way.  I've heard pro and con arguments and found all of them sorely wanting.  It does matter to me; I care about it, a lot; but for me, not having every answer is not a good enough reason to reject the answers we do have -- the key propositions about reality given to all of us in Christianity.

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Were we just created like that? If we're created 'broken', then how can we be justly punished? And if we're created 'broken', why not provide an easier or simpler method of repairing ourselves? If we're dealing with an almighty and omnipotent being (which is another contradiction that couldn't logically exist -- omnipotence is the limitless set of all powers, limiting the scope of power is considered a power, omnipotence includes the ability to limit itself which therefore precludes limitless omnipotence, you can see how it basically eats itself), then the idea of having to follow some grand plan is ludicrous.

You're asking good questions; don't stop, and don't accept answers that you find unsatisfying or unacceptable in any way.  If the truth is the truth, and if the truth can be found, then none of us should hesitate to ask the hard questions or to hone our sense of reason and then apply it as rigorously and unsparingly as we possibly can.  That process can get you pretty far ... There are answers to your questions that other Christians have proposed, and you may find at least some of their answers plausible.

It's fairly certain, however, that you will not ever get an acceptable answer for every question.  You will inevitably be left with several unanswered questions and several answers that you can neither prove nor disprove.  Other people have walked this long path before you and I, and others will walk it after us.  At the end of the intellectual journey, each of us has to choose to believe or not to believe, and either choice will be a matter of faith.  I know that many of those who choose not to believe Christianity will fight tooth and nail to claim that there's no faith involved in that.  I think those people have an inadequate appreciation for the limits of human and scientific knowledge. 

Let me reiterate:  I know that you have heard Christianity's claims before and rejected them, and that's your right; I don't want to push you to change your mind.  You must do what you think is best, and I will respect your decision even if you choose differently than I did.  What I don't want, however, is for anyone to reject Christianity without looking into it for themselves and understanding what it is really about.  Many people turn away from Christianity because they get distracted by unimportant side issues, or because the people telling them about Christianity are jerks or hypocrites, and that's tragic.

Jumping to other posts ...

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The reason I've been so hesitant to post any comments in this blog of yours will probably sound ridiculously arrogant to anyone reading it, but here it is: I'm aware (well, I have an inkling, at least) of how important your faith is to you. And I really, really don't want to break it. I'm sure you think there's no way I could do something like that; you probably think it would be like the wind shattering a mountain. But I've broken the beliefs of a few people before (including a pastor at the church I was raised in), and I know that it's both possible, and not pretty.

But from what you've written, I'm left with one of two conclusions: Either nothing I can say will ever get through to you and I'll never change your mind or even put a dent in your faith, or you really, really need someone to break you out of it. I don't mean to attack you personally; in my experience the only reason conversations like these get heated like they sometimes do is because both parties genuinely care about each other. But I can't help but feel, perhaps as you did, that this post deserves a response.

Here is mine. ...

I do care about these issues and about you and about your views, and I appreciate and thank you for the care and concern you've shown by participating in this dialog, despite whatever hesitations you've had, and despite how much of your time and effort this must have eaten up.

My faith is strong, although it hasn't always been as strong as it is these days.  I've lived through a few experiences that felt worse than anything I would wish on any other person, and my faith survived and sustained me through that.  Very often it didn't feel that way at the time, but I can look back and see it now.  Now my life is a wonder and a blessing, every day.  (Sorry for the churchspeak; blech.  It's hard to always avoid.)  I still feel awful as fuck sometimes; but I also know that I'm happy, truly happy, and I think I know what that actually means.  It's a gift so great and valuable that I can't help but wish that everyone I know received the same gift, because it is freely available to everyone.  So, that's where I come from and where I'm at.

Let me touch on this:

Quote
As for me knowing things you don't...I doubt it, lol. But as long as you don't want me to hold back, I do have one more question to toss your way, and then I'll shut up and let you start working on your response.

If the god that you worship is so ultimately good, perfectly loving, all-powerful and omnibenevolent (I'm presuming here, since these attributes are most commonly ascribed to the Judeo-Christian God)...then why did he need/want/choose something as vicious and barbaric as human sacrifice as the *only way* to offer us salvation and forgiveness? It would have been effortlessly simple to make literally anything else the way to salvation. A ritualized dance, pilgrimage to sacred locations, sacrificial totems, magic springs of genuine living water placed conveniently around the world, a fucking cookie recipe, anything would be better than demanding a payment of blood and pain and death in exchange for human beings being human. That just doesn't sound like the idea of a supposedly perfect, all-knowing being that wants to 'save' humanity. It sounds like the idea of primitive, barely civilized men who wanted to control their fellow tribesmen.

Well, I don't disagree, really.  I think the image of the crucified savior on his cross is grotesque and disturbing.  It amazes me that very conservative, quaint, sweet, kind people will put up pictures in their houses of Jesus being tortured and murdered in the most ghastly fashion.  It strikes me funny many times.

(I've probably used this answer enough to make it sound like a total fucking dodge to you, but ...) I think this kind of question is not directly relevant to whether or not one accepts the key claims of Christianity.  The proposition that God is perfect (holy, perfectly good) is a proposition that ultimately must be accepted or rejected on faith.  That's not a satisfying answer, but there isn't a better one that I know of, and maybe that's how it's supposed to be. 

We will always have some unanswered questions like the ones you've posed; they're great questions, and if my answers struck you as bullshit, then keep asking until you get answers you can live with.  If you're honest with that process, and you still end up as a non-Christian, well ... No matter what I think, you have to be honest with yourself and seek the truth on your own.  If the truth is really the truth, and if the truth can be found, then you and I will each find it, if we each look hard enough.  I believe that as firmly as I believe anything.

Why do different people seem to arrive at different and mutually-exclusive "truths"?  That is pretty damn close to the top of my personal list of unanswered questions.  But, having that question hasn't stopped me from choosing to believe.  And honestly, I haven't had all my questions suddenly and miraculously answered just because I chose to become a Christian.  We've all been told as much as we need to know in order to believe and reconnect with the one living and real God. 

I believe he isn't some sicko sadist who amuses himself with stories about Jesus's gruesome death.  He is far wiser and more loving than I, and he does many, many things I do not understand.  Some day I expect to understand all of it, but not in this lifetime.

Why a blood sacrifice as the means of redemption?  I don't know, but maybe it has something to do with showing all of us just how much greater and more perfect God is compared to us.  The sin that stains humanity is not a trivial problem; it is extremely important.  We see its tragic consequences all around us; it is at the root of all the suffering in our lives.  It cuts us off from God in a profound way, a way so serious that only a blood sacrifice could fix it.  If God can do anything, why didn't he choose something else?  I honestly don't know; I too would like to know.  Am I smart enough to decide what God should or shouldn't do, about sin or anything else?  I'm not. 

He does a lot of things I think are fucking horrifying; namely, he allows all the horrors in this world to take place.  It upsets the hell out of me; why would, how could he do that?  I don't have that answer.  What I do have is his promise that he is wise and loving, so it's not random; he isn't being capricious or cruel, because that would go against his loving nature. 

You and I are children compared to God.  Picture a young child lecturing his father on proper parenting methods.  The wise, loving parent doesn't do whatever the kid thinks is best; he knows and does whatever is best for the kid, even when it seems all fucked up or unfair to the kid.  If the child is small enough, it is completely incapable of grasping the father's reasons; the child's intelligence is far too little compared to the parent's.

Here's another way of looking at it:  would you want a God to be so small that we humans could make total sense of him and fully grasp him, understand all his ways and motives and methods?  What sort of God would that be?  Similarly:  would you want the method of redeeming human sinfulness to be trivial and quaint compared to the sins themselves?  What sort of an act could redeem the atrocities committed in the Jewish Holocaust, or the suffering in each of our lives?  Those are just some of my thoughts.

Everything I've said here is almost certainly stuff you've heard elsewhere, and you may have already rejected these ideas.  I hope you'll keep telling me about your ideas sometimes, even when they're at odds with mine, because I know there's plenty more I can learn from you and others here who disagree with my beliefs. 

If you got through all that, or most of it, thanks for doing so, and sorry if it bored you or enlightened you in no way whatsoever.  If I failed to cover anything important, let me know.  Any responses you have, including negative or critical ones, would be of great interest to me, but there's no obligation to respond either.  Same goes for anyone else who read anything.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 02:23:07 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #94 on: July 29, 2012, 04:21:10 AM »
So, after a brief period of doubt, I'm back to thinking nobody reads this blog.  Except for two people whom I cherish dearly.  :)  But not in a creepy stalker way; in a distant, virtual, cheapo online-friendliness way.  I hope my two readers have a schedule worked out with each other so that they take turns and neither of them ends up reading every post.  Reading every post of this blog would induce not only eyestrain but also a rare kind of diffuse left hemispherical paralysis with unknown concomitant behavioral impairments.  At least that's my theory.  If any of you ignores my theory and tries to read everything, well, don't say I didn't warn you!  hehehe










I'm a big fan of pornography.  Does that seem squicky to you?  You might want to skip this section then.  I can be squicky, what can I say?  :)

Now you might imagine that in a blog where the author seems to have a crazed preoccupation with Christianity and religious topics, there's something at best hypocritical and at worst fucking bizarre about that person being a big lover of porn.  This is precisely wrong; the truth is the very opposite case.  We Christians are all porn lovers; believe it, it's true.  Those of us who deny it are the biggest porn freaks of all.  I'd lay odds that it was a Christian who invented porn; a Christian who consumes the most porn of any living individual; and a Christian responsible for the production of both the most creative and the most repulsive pornographic works ever produced.  They might be lapsed Christians, as I myself have been from time to time, but all religious types of one kind or another, I'd wager.

I'd say that porn depends on old-school Puritanical Christianity for its very existence; if it wasn't so squicky and wrong and utterly inappropriate and forbidden, it would suddenly become incredibly boring in many ways.  I can't claim credit for this insight; I stole it almost whole-cloth from the novelist Walker Percy, whose work I was a big fan of, back when I was still smart enuff to reed something other than comick books.  What's the connection?  It's about the appeal of the taboo.  All of us young males (sorry ladies, porn is for dudes, silly wabbits) that were subjected to too much forced Sunday School and prohibited from buying those tantalizing copies of Playboy behind the counter became obsessed with porn during puberty, and it's not an obsession one breaks easily, if one is trying, and all of us Christians have tried, mostly because it just makes the porn even more taboo and exciting when our self-control caves in and we dive guiltily into another multi-hour multi-orgasmic hyper-masturbatory porn binge.  Some of us aren't aware of the dynamic of the taboo thrill, at least not consciously aware, although many of us can recognize it in a heartbeat as soon as we hear it described. 

(Percy went much deeper than that, as I recall, and tied sexual excess into primal human impulses with profound existential ramifications, borrowing from even headier thinkers like Soren Kierkegaard, another fellow whose work I had a brief fondness for.  Seriously, I had some functioning brain cells for a while there ... it was before I learned to enjoy liquor.  ;)  )

It turns out that I don't usually consume porn in the typical ways that most others do.  This isn't because I have anything against those approaches, and I do go that route from time to time.  I'm just too old and too jaded to get much of a thrill out of the usual methods any more; I exhausted their appeal many years back, from over-indulgence, not from any exercise of virtue.  No, if I were more virtuous, I'd probably be able to enjoy porn much more than I do these days.

It's a human impulse as old and familiar as Adam and Eve, and it's the bread-and-butter of every teenage person alive:  give us something we aren't allowed to do, something that's supposed to be bad for us, and that's the very first thing we'll be dying to try as soon as we think no one's looking.  It works with lots of stuff besides porn.  Tell me you don't know what I'm talking about -- and I'll bet you're fibbing, you naughty devil, you ...  ;)

The only thing more ubiquitous than pornography in America is churches.  What, you thought that was a coincidence?  hehehe














Creative people try to be creative for all kinds of bad reasons.  You gotta do it for the right reasons.

Bad reason:  to show it to somebody.  Uh-uh.  Bad.  ;)  (Sit Ubu sit.)

Bad reason:  to get somebody to like you.  Uh-uh.  Nope.

Bad reason:  to impress people.  No. 

Now the harder ones.  Don't give me this obvious shit, give me the real problems.

Bad reason:  it's a gift you've been given, so you want to share it with others.  No no no.  Bad reason.  Not good enough.  That way lies destruction.

Bad reason:  it's the only thing you can do; it's all that you're good at; what else can you do, or do well?  Uh-uh.  Not good enough.

You've got no choice; it's inside you, you've got to get it out.  Still not good enough.

Good reason?  Good reason:  wonder; curiosity.  What would that sound like?  What's that sound?  What's next after that?  Where did that come from?  Where's it going?

Be like a curious child; be amused; amuse yourself.  Don't think about what anyone else will think of it; don't even think about anyone else seeing or hearing any of it; that doesn't matter.  Destruction, doom lies that way.  Never mind that others went that way before, and so successfully; they were wrong.  That's not for you.

Creative work.  Good reasons, bad reasons.  Right reasons.













One of the things that keeps me doing this blog (for the time being at least) in spite of my pessimistic assessment of the size of the readership (heh) is this:  as I push myself to express thoughts in writing, I learn what my thoughts are.  Sometimes I say things and then realize that I've really summed up something well that I have always felt but never put into words successfully until now.  Other times, to be perfectly honest, I say things and then realize afterwards that I really don't feel that way after all; I had to put the ideas into words and sort of feel them out in order to realize that the things I wrote don't match up with my true feelings. 

I've known about this benefit of writing for a very long time but haven't made this much use of it for many years.  I owe a debt to whoever is out there reading all this crap for the simple reason that your theoretical participation as audience has motivated me to do all this writing; it benefits me even if it benefits no one else (and I frequently suspect that it doesn't!, heh).

Big long preamble to ... my confession that I've already decided that a few things I said in response to Starlequin's posts were not representative of my true feelings.  I didn't realize that until after I'd written the posts and thought further about them.  I may try to explain that further later ... None of that self-discovery could have happened if Star hadn't posted here and gotten me thinking about all these issues that matter so much to me.  It's something I'm enormously grateful for.











Hey, lots of "nicer"-sounding stuff today than usual, right?  No major downers?  Don't forget that!  I can do positive posts; sometimes I can!  hehehe 

Of course that just means that I'll have to cook up something unbelievably cynical and extra-depressing for my next blog.  ;)

« Last Edit: July 29, 2012, 04:30:37 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #95 on: July 29, 2012, 04:54:29 AM »
My Police binge continues.  The Police ruled.  I've known this for a good 23 years.  I'm just now getting around to listening closely to all their music, which I've owned for years and years.  This is what happens to people who let their collecting impulse outpace their ability to actually consume the stuff they collect.  Don't even ask how many CDs and comics and DVDs and books and LPs and other shit I have collecting dust on shelves and in boxes that I've never gotten around to hearing/watching/reading etc. etc.

I'm a hoarder.  It's some personality thing.  I hit the grocery store today, and the cashier asked me, "Is this for a restaurant or something?"  That totally cracked me up.  See, I'm the kind of person who buys $200-plus worth of groceries at a time, and then waits two weeks or a full month before going back for more, because I effing hate buying groceries.  Instead I hoard.  Weird huh?

I've heard the Police's "Roxanne" exactly 1,214 times in my life -- everyone ought to -- and I just recently realized that it is sung in falsetto.  That irritates me.  Not the falsetto; that's fucking genius.  It's the fact that I didn't know it was falsetto; that bugs me.  I learned that from reading Allmusic.com's review.  Good site.  Did you know that Sting frequently employs falsetto?  I thought he was just singing high, like an alto or something.  Fucking Allmusic critics are even bigger music nerds than I am.  I hate not knowing everything.  :(  ;)









Often when I visit this blog, I see that somebody named "1 Guest" is viewing the thread.  Dear "1 Guest":  please identify yourself, or else go away.  No, don't go away; I'm happy to have you here.  I just wish I knew who the fuck you were.  If you're just a goddamn searchbot, then go away!  ;)  Effing searchbots.  If I Google stuff in this blog, will it come up?  Need to check that sometime.  I Googled stuff in an Elliquiy RP once, at least once, and it didn't come up, presumably because Elliquiy's RPs are mostly only viewable by members.  I'm glad about that.  It's so great that Vekseid and Trieste and all the mentors do that whole member-questionnaire-and-approval business.  It keeps out a lot of creepy people and ensures a higher level of commitment from those who take the trouble to apply and become "members."  (Not like it's hard to get in or anything; folks here are friendly and welcoming, most people who apply get in, although I don't know the actual percentage.  Anyway, apply; you'll like it here.  Elliquiy is amazing.)

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #96 on: July 29, 2012, 10:43:46 PM »
Here's the only question that matters:  what if God is real and wants to get to know you?

It's hard to even think about it because all the words are empty, drained of all meaning by abuse and overuse.

What if God is real and wants to get to know you?

The Evangelicals took the phrase from the Jesus Freaks of the Sixties and Seventies, and who knows where they got it from:  "personal relationship with God."  Blech, gack, ack, ugh, ptooie, phthew.  Makes it sound like God is the girl with braces and too much makeup who you're taking to the junior high school prom and hoping to score with afterwards, which just means getting under her blouse, you know.

What the hell else would matter, in all of the world, in all of your life?  Everything else is just noise and nonsense, man.  Fucking romance, fucking career, friendships, family, whatever.  Money?  Come on, really?  That's what life is about?  What?

The words go in one ear and out the other, so much hot air dissipating, rejoining the ozone and the rest of the atmosphere.

Not even your children.  Not even that.  Don't be fooled, don't let it fool you, because even if you've got cuddly newborns hanging off both arms and balanced on your head, who can give a fuck if -- if --

What if God etc.?

Do you believe that there is such a thing as truth?  Any of it, anywhere, at all, that any of us can know?  Do you?  Okay.  Good, if you got that far.  Some people don't.

Also:  who cares which hoops you have to jump through, if that's the prize that you're after?  Who cares how silly and strange all the language and procedures and rites are?  Who cares about any of that, it's just more noise and nonsense, don't get distracted; because -- because --

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #97 on: July 30, 2012, 03:59:41 AM »
In the beginning (the rough consensus is a little less than 14 billion years ago), there was the Singularity. The Big Bang. Whatever you want to call it, the event that preceded the instantaneous generation of time and space, matter and energy. Space likely came first in order to host the interchangeable matter and energy, and then time, which can only be measured by the movement of the previous two. (Saying which came first is largely a moot point, since the four came into existence probably within nanoseconds of each other.) With the formation of this continuum came the four forces: gravity, which controls the behavior of physical matter, electromagnetism, which defines the behavior of energy, weak nuclear, which describes the relationship between matter and energy on the micro scale, and strong nuclear, which describes the relationship between matter and energy on the macro scale. (This is admittedly a gross oversimplification, but this is about basic cosmology, not physics.)

Here we have the beginning of our universe. Mysterious, complicated, perhaps impossible to ever fully understand -- but offering no reason to suspect any manner of supernatural or divine origin. So, probably no guiding hand of God here.

Next, we have star formation. All that mass generated by the Big Bang (disorganized sub- and sub-sub-atomic particles), being under the control of gravity, began to clump together and accumulate more mass, forming the first atoms and molecules over millions of years. With miliions of years more, those gaseous atomic clouds began to swirl together in great cosmic storms to form stars. Due to gravity, the atoms began to group together with greater and greater density until the process of fusion ignited.

So now we have stars, billions upon billions of them, formed over billions of years. Forming from simple particles, their mass generates fusion, which results in the creation of astounding amounts of energy in the forms of heat and light and new atomic structures including helium, nitrogen, carbon, iron, and various other elements on the periodic table. When these stars ignite, they enter into a state of equilibrium, constantly generating energy to compensate for the loss of mass due to the fusion that occurs at their hearts. Once the balance shifts and the mass begins to run out, the stars start to expand as gravity loses its hold, or collapse as the energy output begins to fail. Collapse leads to the formation of black holes, while expansion leads to supernovae.

With supernovae, the colossal explosion of stars sends the elements created within scattering across space creating new debris, which is what provides the building blocks for the next celestial bodies: planets. Just as stars were formed by the gravity of simple particles packing atom clouds together, so are planets formed by the gravity of stars collecting the new debris in their orbits. Moons are formed the same way, on a smaller scale -- newly formed planets collect still more debris in their own orbital paths.

These simple processes, guided only by a few basic, mindless rules of behavior, take place over billions of years, and are still ongoing right now. Again, entirely natural explanations, no evidence for any supernatural activity. Likely no God here, either.

Now comes the generation of planetary atmosphere, and the requisite conditions for the formation of life. Millions more years here as well, and constant bombardment of the surface by the remains of yet more exploding stars and cosmic radiation provide the materials for forming atmo (all that helium and carbon and nitrogen and such I mentioned earlier) and eventually, life in the form of simple, single-celled organisms, which (millions more years later) evolve into slightly more complex, multi-celled organisms.

A livable environment, equipped with all the basic necessities for abiogenesis which leads us to the evolution of more and more complex creatures, a web of mutation, adaptation, extinction and survival of which homo sapiens are just a part. (The absolute coolest, most awesome, most utterly badass part {that we know of}, if I do say so myself, but still just a part.) Still only playing by the few basic rules here, dictating nothing more than how atomic and sub-atomic structures interact with each other according to the forces of G, EM, SNF and WNF. Still no evidence for any supernatural designer or operator.

And then, there's us. From the first mutated apes born with stronger legs and backs, weaker arms and larger heads (the better to walk upright, use tools and improve communication), to the various offshoots of neanderthals, austrelopithicus (sp?), homo erectus, etc., to finally -- us. Humanity. Hundreds of thousands of years here, barely a blink on the cosmic scale. That's how long we've been around.

And still no evidence of a mystical creator.

So, if all of the above is true -- and according to our absolute best minds and technology it is, and with no signs of being disproven anytime soon -- where did this 'sin' enter into the equation? How did this supposed stain come about? It's such a nebulous concept, this 'sin', and it falls apart the moment you look at it too deeply. Does it mean we aren't perfect? Well, why should we have to be? Does it mean we're separated from God? What god? If the above is how reality came to be, which is what all of our evidence, reason, and logic points to, then either no god being holds any authorship over existence, or it concealed itself so completely in its work that it's indistinguishable from a nonexistent entity.

To say that such a being only chose to reveal itself to humanity in a primitive, desert society which still relied as much on oral history as written records (while in other parts of the world more advanced civilizations thrived during the same time frame), in an attempt to form a 'relationship' with us and 'save' us from its own wrath, all while presumably knowing that its chosen method of contact would be impossible for a growingly skeptical and rational species such as ours to verify, is just...pitiful.

I'm going to stop now, but before I go I'm going to leave the titles to a few videos that I think can explain my points a lot better than I can. I'm not going to link them, because I'm still a lazy tosser, but they're easy enough to look up on Youtube. They're all by the same guy, philhellenes; I'm recommending them here because (IMO) they're very well made, they're far more eloquent and accurate than I could hope to be at 3AM, and I just found them to be exceptionally uplifting. As you've said yourself, Rick, YMMV.

'Science Saved My Soul'
'Dust That Sings'
'This Remarkable Thing'
'Atheism: The Stars Are On Our Side'
'The Dumbest Word In The Universe'

Aaaaaand I'm outtie.
~Starlequin

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #98 on: July 30, 2012, 05:38:54 AM »
Thank you very much for the remarkable post, Star.  It would have taken me a really really really long time to write that.  I would have had to do research also.

Question for you:

Quote
To say that such a being only chose to reveal itself to humanity in a primitive, desert society which still relied as much on oral history as written records (while in other parts of the world more advanced civilizations thrived during the same time frame), in an attempt to form a 'relationship' with us and 'save' us from its own wrath, all while presumably knowing that its chosen method of contact would be impossible for a growingly skeptical and rational species such as ours to verify, is just...pitiful.

I'm going to stop now, but before I go I'm going to leave the titles to a few videos that I think can explain my points a lot better than I can. I'm not going to link them, because I'm still a lazy tosser, but they're easy enough to look up on Youtube. They're all by the same guy, philhellenes; I'm recommending them here because (IMO) they're very well made, they're far more eloquent and accurate than I could hope to be at 3AM, and I just found them to be exceptionally uplifting. As you've said yourself, Rick, YMMV.

I don't know how much deliberation you put into choosing those two words, and it's fine if you didn't put a great deal of thought into them, or if you didn't intend for either word to convey anything other than their most obvious and straightforward meanings.  Regardless, I would appreciate hearing you elaborate in any way on those words or the statements that contain them.  Pitiful?  Why, in what way?  Uplifting?  Why, how so?

I'm not trying to insinuate anything by asking; those are genuine points of interest to me.  I'll try to give the post a thoughtful response before long, whether you say anything further or not -- don't feel any obligation to do so.  Thanks!

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Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #99 on: July 30, 2012, 10:02:33 AM »
My Police binge continues.  The Police ruled.  I've known this for a good 23 years.  I'm just now getting around to listening closely to all their music, which I've owned for years and years.  This is what happens to people who let their collecting impulse outpace their ability to actually consume the stuff they collect.  Don't even ask how many CDs and comics and DVDs and books and LPs and other shit I have collecting dust on shelves and in boxes that I've never gotten around to hearing/watching/reading etc. etc.

I'm a hoarder.  It's some personality thing.  I hit the grocery store today, and the cashier asked me, "Is this for a restaurant or something?"  That totally cracked me up.  See, I'm the kind of person who buys $200-plus worth of groceries at a time, and then waits two weeks or a full month before going back for more, because I effing hate buying groceries.  Instead I hoard.  Weird huh?

I've heard the Police's "Roxanne" exactly 1,214 times in my life -- everyone ought to -- and I just recently realized that it is sung in falsetto.  That irritates me.  Not the falsetto; that's fucking genius.  It's the fact that I didn't know it was falsetto; that bugs me.  I learned that from reading Allmusic.com's review.  Good site.  Did you know that Sting frequently employs falsetto?  I thought he was just singing high, like an alto or something.  Fucking Allmusic critics are even bigger music nerds than I am.  I hate not knowing everything.  :(  ;)









Often when I visit this blog, I see that somebody named "1 Guest" is viewing the thread.  Dear "1 Guest":  please identify yourself, or else go away.  No, don't go away; I'm happy to have you here.  I just wish I knew who the fuck you were.  If you're just a goddamn searchbot, then go away!  ;)  Effing searchbots.  If I Google stuff in this blog, will it come up?  Need to check that sometime.  I Googled stuff in an Elliquiy RP once, at least once, and it didn't come up, presumably because Elliquiy's RPs are mostly only viewable by members.  I'm glad about that.  It's so great that Vekseid and Trieste and all the mentors do that whole member-questionnaire-and-approval business.  It keeps out a lot of creepy people and ensures a higher level of commitment from those who take the trouble to apply and become "members."  (Not like it's hard to get in or anything; folks here are friendly and welcoming, most people who apply get in, although I don't know the actual percentage.  Anyway, apply; you'll like it here.  Elliquiy is amazing.)

(Just as a note, someone who shows up as 'Guest' is a non-searchbot who hasn't bothered to set up an account yet.  That's the nice-ish thing about the public area, and also the tricky bit about it.)

Regarding falsetto - This has absolutely no basis in musical theory, but I sort of hope that when a male singer hits notes that I can't hit, that he's using falsetto.  I'm in that weird range of mixed alto-soprano for women, but can typically hit most tenor notes.  I seriously hope that Geddy Lee uses falsetto, because otherwise I would worry for the existence of his children.  :o