It’s a very busy week/weekend at school, but hopefully next week will be less crazy.
It’s a very busy week/weekend at school, but hopefully next week will be less crazy.
Ahhhhhh this is adorable. I could have been teaching Pig and Fred so many tricks!
I’ve now witnessed it: My older guinea pig is literally long in the tooth, and has to go to the vets to get her lower teeth clipped (ugh, shivers down the spine) because they’re wearing her upper teeth into nonexistence.
In conclusion, most idioms should not happen in real life.
[other stuff I said]
To this I’d make one addition: If you’re publishing for an audience which isn’t ”your” audience — followers who have gotten to know you over the years and are willing to assume the best even if they disagree with a particular post — feel free to skip the latter half of #4. It will take some willpower, but just don’t read the comments section. I promise it’s the best choice.
LTMC: I concur with the addition. If you try to respond to every negative critique of things that you’ve written, you’ll drive yourself crazy. You’ll also get nothing done. I’ve definitely had the experience of sitting down to write a lengthy response to someone’s critique of my ideas, and then an hour later, I think, “what the hell am I doing?” And I close the computer and walked out into the sunshine.
Basically, anyone who gets a decent size readership on the internet is gonna occasionally catch flak for what they write. Sometimes you just have to be confident that your take is more persuasive and give yourself a break. Being judicious about when to respond to criticism is definitely a very important skill for people who write. Sometimes it’s worth the effort. Other times, simply letting it be and moving on is usually better for your mental health and productivity.
People sometimes get angry with me because I ignored their response to something I posted. They also sometimes demand (bizarrely) that I supply them with additional information, charts, or data. It’s never the responsibility of a blogger to engage every critic nor is it their job to educate everyone who has never heard of Google. Thoughtful, evidence-based responses are great. Responses along the lines of “AMERICA HAS GREATEST MILITARY FORCE ON EARTH….WE MUST HAVE SUPERIOR STRENGTH TO DEFEAT CHINESE AND RUSSIA!!” are not so great.
Frankly, some people have no idea what the hell they’re talking about and it’s OK to ignore them, just like it’s OK to ignore your crazy old uncle who still can’t believe they let Jackie Robinson play baseball.
^^ Reblogging for more internet wisdom from letterstomycountry and prettayprettaygood.
Q. I am currently reading The Religion Virus. Great book. It got me thinking… If Humanism is criticized so heavily by Christians who generally believe in original sin… And anarchy typically relies on the idea that people aren’t as awful as the state and church want us to believe… Do you think anarchy and Christianity can survive together? — Anonymous, originally writing to Megan at The Free Lioness, who tagged me for an additional response.
A. First, a few preliminary comments and disclaimers:
Now, to address the original question section by section:
If Humanism is criticized so heavily by Christians…
Let’s start here. Humanism as most of us in the western world know it began in Europe in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. It was developed at the height of Christendom, primarily by Christians like the humanist philosopher — and devout Catholic — Erasmus. Humanism can even claim several Renaissance-era popes among its numbers.
Now, humanism grew out of the philosophical climate of its time. The Middle Ages had seen a new interest in the works of Aristotle, which were previously comparatively unknown in the west. The new influence of Aristotle launched what would become modern science. It also set up a major philosophical debate: Do we know truth according to our inherent reason (rationalism) or by observation of the world around us (empiricism)?
Christians landed on both sides of the argument (e.g. Descartes, a rationalist, and John Locke, an empiricist). Humanism, more than taking a side in this debate, was simply a renewed emphasis on broad learning. “Humanism was not an ideological programme but a body of literary knowledge and linguistic skill based on the ‘revival of good letters,’ which was a revival of a late-antique philology and grammar.” It was about educating people so they could live and choose well.
Now, while some modern humanism tends to be far more secular and even anti-faith in focus (and some Christians do critique it), there is no conflict between these fundamentals of humanism and Christianity.
…who generally believe in original sin…
At its most basic, original sin is the idea that in falling away from God, humans — who were originally made in God’s image, and thus were inherently good — gained in some way a tendency to choose to do evil things. (By the way, acceptance of a literal Adam and Eve and the snake story isn’t necessary for this view.)
From that super generic basis, though, the doctrine is interpreted in a variety of ways, each with its own implications. It sounds to me as if you might have in mind a very Calvinist view of original sin. (“Calvinist” refers mainly to Presbyterian and Reformed churches.)
In this perspective, the tendency to sin is actually something called “total depravity,” which is pretty much what it sounds like. Here, people who aren’t Christians are incapable of doing anything but sinning. They can’t even wantto do right. With that sort of mindset, yes, anarchy seems like it wouldn’t get much support…but I do personally know staunch Calvinists who are equally staunch anarchists — so go figure. Suffice it to say I don’t fall into that camp.
But that’s not the only way to understand original sin and still be well within the range of Christian belief. In the Catholic Church, for instance, the result of original sin is that “human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin.” There’s a balance of humanity’s goodness because we’re made to be like God andour tendency to do wrong. For both Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Church, we humans are fallen, but we still have free will.
Other types of Christians have different perspectives still. Anabaptists — the peace churches — hardly talk about “original sin” at all, in part because the phrase is never found in the Bible. Southern Baptists, likewise, do not tend to affirm original sin in the Calvinist sense, preferring to talk about wrongs individuals choose to do.
So, all that to say: Original sin is a much more diverse and less universal doctrine in Christianity than many suppose. And even for those who hold to its most extreme, Calvinist variants, support for anarchy is still an option.
…And anarchy typically relies on the idea that people aren’t as awful as the state and church want us to believe…
Here, again, I’d suggest there are some underlying problems in your assumptions.
The church does not want us to believe that people are awful. (Remember, humanism grew in Christian soil, and Christian humanism exists to this day.) In fact, the church has long been a champion of the worth, value, and rights of all individuals.
Has it screwed up along the way? Absolutely. Have people within the church devalued other humans, sometimes in truly horrific ways? Again, most definitely yes. I’m not interested in concealing, denying, or defending that behavior. It’s morally abhorrent; it’s outside the mission of the church; and, most importantly, it does not look like Jesus, which is our whole goal in terms of relating to other people.
But for all its many flaws, the church fundamentally values people, because each of us is made in God’s image. In fact, human rights as we now know them grew out of this very theology: Locke, the founder of classical liberalism, based his assertion that humans inherently have certain rights and freedom on the Bible. Since then, secular backings for the same rights have been conceived, of course, but Locke’s thought was groud-breaking and remains significant for anyone on the small government to anarchy spectrum.
This emphasis on humanity’s inherent value — not awfulness — has played out in innumerable practical efforts, from Quakers spearheading the abolition movement to missionaries developing game-changing literacy programs.
Indeed, the early church’s charity and civil society efforts played a major rolein the incredibly quick initial spread of Christianity: Within Christian communities as compared to the larger non-Christian Roman empire, voluntary interaction produced longer lifespans, better health, delayed marriages which allowed women more choice in whom (or whether!) they’d marry, and even health care during plagues, when every other group in society refused contact with the stricken for their own protection.
“The [Christians] support not only their poor,” complained the Roman Emperor Julian, “but ours as well.” And they did it because it is not a fundamental assertion of Christianity that people are awful, but that they are each made in God’s image and worthy of our love. As I John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
…Do you think anarchy and Christianity can survive together?
I do! Now, as I mentioned back at the beginning, I’m not an anarchist. But in this case I don’t think it matters, really, for my final point, which is: Despite the impression some American politicians try to give you, Christianity is not a political system, and it does not rely on the state to survive.
In fact, I’d argue that getting mixed up in government is among the worst things which can happen to the church. It was only after Christianity became first legalized and then made the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th Century that violence, opulence, and corrupt hierarchy crept into the church, marginalizing previous traditions of pacifism, simple living, and a mostly horizontal power structure emphasizing equality in Christ.
Finally, as a Christian anarchist, I’d argue that there’s nothing better for the church and society at large than to have a church which survives without involvement with a state:
Jesus did not come to give us a “new and improved” version of the kingdom of the world. He came to bring us a kingdom that “is not from this world” (Jn. 18:36). He came to bring us a kingdom that would transform the world through self-sacrificial love. But this is not a kingdom that fits anywhere [with the force of government].
Anonymous asked: I am currently reading The Religion Virus. Great book. It got me thinking... If Humanism is criticized so heavily by Christians who generally believe in original sin... And anarchy typically relies on the idea that people aren't as awful as the state and church want us to believe... Do you think anarchy and Christianity can survive together?
Remember, a religion’s doctrine can be interpreted and used differently by anyone. It is not so much the religion that poses a threat, but how people use it. Any other belief system can be just as dangerous to human freedom. Religious figures in government or churches that assert the role of a government are no different than non-religious figures or governments - they simply choose to use religion to justify their violence and control. You might be interested in Rothbard’s work in For A New Liberty which discusses the transition of the State using religion and religious figures to claim authority to other more modern means, like scientific and economic “experts.” As I mentioned before, religion is just one card in the deck that people use to assert their authority over others or justify their behavior. So in that sense it will always pose a danger - but so can any other person’s claim to authority.
But to answer your question: yes! Christian anarchism exists and I think there is a pretty good argument in support of it. Jesus himself was a figure who practiced anarchism in many ways. He opposed the institutionalized, corrupt, and hierarchical nature of government and state religions, and supported mutual aid, charity, and non-violence. He operated outside of the confines of the state (in free association with others) and even challenged it in many ways - and was persecuted and ultimately killed in part because he was seen as such a threat to the status quo.
As for original sin, I think historically this argument may have been used to control and suppress human freedom. (I’m really not well-read in this area, sorry!) However, Christian anarchists argue that God’s will and God’s kingdom, in fact, is human freedom and anarchy. So again, the religious message is open to interpretation and can be used to achieve different means. For a Christian anarchist, it would be wrong to control others or use the threat of force to instill what they think is right or convert people - instead they look to how Jesus shared his message, which is compatible with anarchism.
I think the main concern some anarchists or others would have with Christian anarchism is the idea that they do embrace an ultimate authority. But all anarchists embrace a doctrine to abide by - they all have determined what is right and wrong, and come to the conclusion that anarchism is the best and moral route. Whether someone is led there by their God or any other pursuit is of no concern to me, and is really none of my business.
Diversity and difference in beliefs and lifestyles are not threats to anarchism. In fact, one of the main reasons I support the ideas behind anarchism is because I think it is the only setting where our diversity can thrive peacefully, rather than force us into conflict and oppression.
I haven’t personally read that book, but I’m glad it got you thinking! Thanks for the great question. You might find it worthwhile to ask Bonnie (hipsterlibertarian) about this. I don’t think she is an anarchist, but I’m pretty sure she is a Christian and wound undoubtedly have more insight than I do.
Haha, I was feeling a response coming on before I even got to your last paragraph, Megan.
The formatting on this post is coming up real weird on my front page, though, so I’ve made a separate post with my answer here.
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