There’s no accounting for where tolerance might appear

I didn’t know she read my blog until she happened to mention it today. Thats the problem with giving your blog address to people and then assuming that they don’t read it based upon the fact that they never tell you they read it. You keep on getting more and more direct in the expression of your opinions, and two years later you learn that someone has been reading stuff—by you—that might have sent them up through the roof of their house, down through the roof of your house, and directly onto your skull. In this case, the speaker was a Glen Beck conservative and, since I know she’s also a Christian, I assume that she’s an old school literalist as well. Yet, she said she enjoys my writing. My first thought was that she was just having herself a little fun before pulling out her .45 and blowing me away. Then came gratitude and, after I had thought more about what she had said, a lump in my throat. All else being equal, I value a reader like her over a reader who agrees with me. This is why I sometimes share my blog with people who have given me no inkling that they will enjoy it. I’ve gotten a lot of practice in handling rejection that way.

In the reverse direction, two of you have asked how I put with Rhymes (aka Bob), a devoted reader from Georgia, USA, who is also a devoted Methodist. I could have answered the question by saying, “Put up with him?! I’m crazy about him. There are damn few people whose religion you can criticize unsparingly and them still want to hang out with you, and I’m certainly not going to make it more difficult for him than necessary by taking anything he says personally. So what if he gets exasperated? I get exasperated too sometimes. Given his point of view, I marvel that he doesn’t get more exasperated. If anything, I think hes ahead of me in this, and it makes me want to show him that I can build just as good a bridge across a chasm as he can. No fundamentalist Christian Republican is going to outdo me for tolerance, no sirree. Tolerance comes from wisdom, and wisdom can jump any religious or political boundary. This is why I’m forever trying to increase my allotment of it. Its also why I sometimes find it where I least expect it, and sometimes dont find it where I most expect it.

Rhymes is actually so tenacious in reading my blog that I sometimes wonder if he thinks that God gave me to him as a special project. In this fantasy, he has saved more souls than anyone else in the whole state of Georgia, including John and Charles Wesley. He has, as it were, gone through decades of preparation for me at Trinity University for Laudatory Improvement and Personal Salvation (TULIPS for short) where he has a 4.0 grade average, and Im his post-post-post doctoral project. So, here he is, grimacing and sweating while pulling my soul from one direction, and here Satan is, grimacing and sweating while pulling from the opposite direction, and here I am doing my best to help Satan kick Rhymes in the teeth so he will let go of my arm. Meanwhile, all the angels are looking down, and they’re cheering Rhymes on; and all the demons are looking up, and they’re cheering me on; and all of you are thinking, “I don’t know how much more of these two I can stand.” 

The artist took such outrageous liberties that the illustration isn’t a good likeness of me, but I couldn’t get him to redo it.


Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, if God was handing out "you" as a special project there'd surely be wailing and gnashing of teeth. :)

rhymeswithplague said...

Well, I'm honored, even though some of your other readers are probably gnashing their teeth at this point. I don't know that I'm a "devoted Methodist" though -- I was with the Methodists from age 7 to age 20 or thereabouts, then I was elsewhere for nearly 50 years. For the last couple of years I've been back with John Wesley and company. Not that I agree 100% with everything there (nor did I in any other church I was ever a part of).

Our friendship is very Biblical, you know. Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

While I'm quoting things, here's something from John Wesley himself: "The distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not his opinions of any sort. His assenting to this or that scheme of Religion, his embracing any particular set of notions, his espousing the judgment of one man or of another, are all quite wide of the point. Whosoever therefore imagines, that a Methodist is a man of such or such an opinion, is grossly ignorant of the whole affair; he mistakes the truth totally. We believe indeed, that all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and herein we are distinguished from Jews, Turks, and Infidels. We believe the written word of God to be the only and sufficient rule, both of Christian faith and practice; and herein we are fundamentally distinguished from those of the Romish church. We believe Christ to be the eternal, supreme God; and herein we are distinguished from the Socinians and Arians. But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think. So that whatsoever they are, whether right or wrong, they are no distinguishing marks of a Methodist."

The foregoing is from "The Character of a Methodist" (1739); in The Works of the Rev. John Wesley in Ten Volumes (1826), Volume IV, p. 407. A portion of this is commonly quoted as "Think and let think.".

And as far as TULIPS is concerned, you got me mixed up with the Calvinists and Presbyterians. (I realize you were being humorous.)

lotta joy said...

Thank gawd neither side is fighting over you Snow. You'd be ripped asunder with both sides walking away saying "I didn't want him anyway."

Back in my "I will follow you because you believe you're smarter than I" days, I was a Methodist. Then Lutheran, Catholic, and non-denominational.

Coming full circle, I'm back in a methodist church due to circumstances beyond my control.

The main difference I have detected between Methodist versus ALL other denominations is this:

They don't roll their eyes to heaven (while in the presence of other methodists)and intone thanks and praise to Jesus for finding the perfect color of drapes.

They stand outside prior to, and after, service - chatting amicably, without the royal stick up their butts.

There's no push to prove which one is more holy than the other.

Basically, they seem about as normal as I do. LOL

kj said...

i like this, snow, maybe you and rhymes should figure out what the U.S congress should do to get things moving again. i'm abit serious: what a good exchange that would be, your efforts to reach fairness and consensus

"Tolerance comes from wisdom, and wisdom can jump any religious or political boundary"

you are a smart man, snow.


Snowbrush said...

"some of your other readers are probably gnashing their teeth at this point."

If so, at least it will be good news for a denturist or two. I rather think I am not so popular with some of your readers either. When I comment on your blog, I often wonder if this will be the occasion when one of them finally can't take it anymore and has to speak out about what a numskull I am.

"I'm back in a methodist church"

If it's a liberal Methodist Church, you could certainly do a lot worse because they at least try to be inclusive. I would expect their national body to eventually accept gays, at least, if only because the population as a whole is moving in that direction. However, only some Quaker Meetings and all of the Unitarian Societies (that I know of) accept atheists. Even the UCC doesn't want us around.

"maybe you and rhymes should figure out what the U.S congress should do to get things moving again."

I think you might have more faith in us than I do. Rhymes is still bummed about Obama not have been born in America (presumably), so he would probably want to start the session with an impeachment hearing. He's not any too sure about this biological evolution nonsense either, so I assume he would want to give class time to "intelligent design." I give these examples to illustrate that we might very well find more occasion for disagreement than for agreement.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

As long as there is a mutual respect, I enjoy folks with different ideas. You are always thought provoking.

Loved your comment on my blog today...mad me spew coffee on the keyboard!

The Elephant's Child said...

What's not to enjoy about your writing? It is elegant and polished prose. And frequently witty to boot. Of course I don't agree with you all of the time. I don't agree with anyone all of the time. Just the same your writing is still a treat.

rhymeswithplague said...

"Rhymes is still bummed about Obama not have [sic] been born in America"

I'm much more bummed about what he has done since becoming President.

I do not love it when you put words in my mouth. Still, you are probably right when you say we disagree more than we agree.

Snowbrush said...

"What's not to enjoy about your writing?"

Thank you kindly, ma'am.

"You are always thought provoking."

I thank you too, ma'am.

"I do not love it when you put words in my mouth."

But do you at least like it? Unless I dreamed it, you had a blog post on the subject of Obama's place of birth, so although you're no doubt more bummed about what he has done in office, you are still among those who doubt his citizenship.

lotta joy said...

Just out of curiosity, Snow, how did you and rhymeswithplague get together in the beginning?

I'm glad you enjoy the banter/confrontational conversations. You parry well and graciously.

I know it's more enjoyable to hear different points of view than to always hear agreement, but I can't see anything good natured about it on rhymes part.

I guess I'm just one who avoids ulcers and this would give me another one if I were in your position.

Deb said...

I have to agree with TEC -- I do enjoy your argument although we disagree on a variety of things, but yet I still learn from a lot you say. So thank you. Always a good read.

Snowbrush said...

"how did you and rhymeswithplague get together in the beginning?"

I've wondered that too. Maybe he can tell us both.

"I know it's more enjoyable to hear different points of view than to always hear agreement, but I can't see anything good natured about it on rhymes part."

Well, it's his religion that's being attacked, and those attacks are often anything but good-natured. I've made it abundantly clear in many posts over many years that I hold theism in general and Christianity in particular in extremely low regard, but I've also made it clear (I hope) that I'm attacking a belief-system rather than attacking individuals. If the shoe were on the other foot, and he was attacking atheism in ways that I didn't necessarily consider fair, would I do any better--or even as good? Would I keep reading his blog? I don't know, but pondering such questions certainly gives me the desire to exercise restraint and, as you say, to respond in a good-natured manner. I also try to remember that the criticisms I offer regarding his religion are criticisms that he probably doesn't hear from anyone else in his life, so they're going to appear more shocking due to their unfamiliarity. The things that I like about him are that he keeps coming back; I trust that, in the big picture, he's trying to dialogue in the best way he knows how; and I trust that he really cares about me. If he's not as warm and fuzzy as I would like, well, nobody's perfect, and I surely do make it hard for him in various ways. For example, he never knows what outrageous thing I'm going to come out with next--like the puppy-strangling post. I'll do several inoffensive posts, and then I'm back to hammering religion with renewed venom, and that just has to be hard. I know I've lost a lot of readers over it.

Deb, who responded right after you is another Christian--a lesbian one. She and I had a falling out, and now we're back to reading one another's blogs, and it's obvious to me that she wants to interact in a way that will nurture our friendship, as do I. KJ--who responded several responses before you--is yet another Christian who has been coming here for years--as have Marion, Kylie, and no doubt others who haven't responded to this post. Rhymes stands out because he's generally more outspoken and because he reads every post and every response. As for all of the people I've mentioned, I like them all, and I trust that they are all good people at heart.

Phoenix said...

I've met fundamentalist Christians, and I've met fundamentalist Atheists, and they are equally difficult to get along with. Fundamentalism - a by the book, no exceptions, zero tolerance for other ideas approach - doesn't seem to work in ANY aspect of life, least of all religion.

As someone who practices a Christian faith, but who is ridiculously liberal, I find myself embarrassed by most main-stream Christians who profess to love Jesus and then do the exact opposite of what he asked, so I end up siding with my Atheist and Agnostic friends in most philosophical arguments. Maybe it all does come down to tolerance - I don't need people to agree with me (few of my friends are religious), but it's nice to have people respect my wishes about how I live my life, and in turn I do the same to my friends. Live and let live.

The other thing it might come down to is ego. You can spot someone a mile away who has mixed their religious beliefs (or absence thereof) with their ego, so that come hell or high water, they will never admit they're wrong. If there's one thing I try to do every single day, it's separate my ego from my religious beliefs, so that if someone disagrees with me, it's not personal, and it's not a slap in the face, it's simply someone who has chosen different for their own life. And this daily murder of my ego has done my inner peace wonders.

I enjoy your blog quite a bit, and you make some excellent points and write some excellent posts about organized religion. I would be sad if we agreed on everything - dialogue and an exchange of ideas is where all the growth happens.

Hugs. - Phoenix

rhymeswithplague said...

Snowbrush and I did not get together in the beginning. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Some time after that, Snowbrush and I got together. I don't know how or when I discovered his blog, but possibly he had commented on someone else's blog and I clicked on his link. Blogger helped me find the first time Snowbrush left a comment on my blog, though. It was April 25, 2009, on this post.

The rest, as they say, is history. Since Snowbrush's posts are not dated, however, I cannot pinpoint when I first left a comment on his blog. Perhaps he will do the research on his end and let us/me know. Then again, perhaps not.

Kerry said...

One of the distinguishing features of this blog is that people disagree in the comment section. Opinions and beliefs are all over the place, and I really like to read the discussions.

Carolynn Anctil said...

I've had the same "oops!" moment, myself a couple of times when someone tells me they read my blog, but don't generally comment. I find myself doing a quick mental inventory of anything offensive I may have written in the past six years, knowing full well there has been a whole laundry basket full of dirt that I've aired. Ah well, I suppose that's part of my charm. *grin*

Good luck with Rhymes.

Snowbrush said...

"I've had the same "oops!" moment..."

If I felt restricted in what I could allow myself to say, I don't know how I could even have a blog. There are things that I will never share about myself, and there are probably things that I will never share about people who are still alive, but the rest is open. I'm just glad that I don't want to write about some things because if I did, doing so could get me into trouble, yet if I really, really felt a need to write about them, I probably would.

"One of the distinguishing features of this blog is that people disagree in the comment section."

I hate it when all of a persons's readers all of the time act like cheerleaders because it strikes me as unbearably superficial if not outright dishonest. If you're writing about your thimble collection, I can see it happening, but if you're writing about the nitty-gritty of life, I don't think so.

"I cannot pinpoint when I first left a comment on his blog. Perhaps he will do the research on his end and let us/me know. Then again, perhaps not."

A voice came to me in the night saying, "Riseth, riseth from thyeth bedeth, thoust laggardeth, and findeth that posteth, or verily, thoust willst noteth getteth backeth to sleepeth untileth thoueth doeseth for I am the Lordeth of the Listeth." Right away, I knew that I had either eaten too much marijuana cookie, or that you had been praying for me again. Try May 2, 2009.

lotta joy said...

LOL "Riseth, riseth from thyeth bedeth, thoust laggardeth"

I'd assume you either bit your tongue or are the first athiest to SPEAK in tongues.

Verily I sayeth: Goodeth, Snowetth.

Snowbrush said...

Oops, that should have been "Lordeth of the Lispeth." I wonder if it's true that word usage is the first thing to go....

Stafford Ray said...

The Bobs of this world are a godsend! ha!
They do you a service by challenging your premises and for me, as I am confident it does for you, it forces you to be thorough in your reappraisal.
By that I mean, their argument forces you to investigate your argument for flaws. Then you either change your mind, or you return with even more evidence to support your argument. Either way you win.


I remember a young baptist woman who figured she could bring me back to the fold. She eventually gave up!!
I do have "a few" conservative religious readers and they seem accepting of me, possibly due to the comfortable distance of virtual relationship, as opposed to me living next door... But I do enjoy the honesty of our exchanges.

If there is no god, why should there be a satan, just another god... no?!?

Evil is a human condition, not something plotting our downfall.

Snowbrush said...

"I remember a young baptist woman who figured she could bring me back to the fold. She eventually gave up!!"

It's not a case of simply having to defeat one objection to religion but of scores, maybe hundreds, of objections to, first theism, and then to whatever brand of theism the believer adheres to. My best friend in high school became a preacher, and he proposed to re-convert me, so I sent him a twenty item list as a starting place, and never heard back.


From my own experience, I can say I find women to be more persistent...

PhilipH said...

So you're in hiding now, eh Snowy?
Hope all is well with you. It is not with me! I am homesick for my cottage in the Borders and I hate where I am now, save for the fact that I'm nearer my daughter.
Regards, Phil.