2 November 2004
Submitted by eve on Tue, 11/02/2004 - 2:41pm. News
You probably don't need me to remind you, but...


Voting! It's so hip, and yet so worthwhile. You can find out where at this site, or at this site if the first one is overloaded.
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Posted by Mike on Thu, 09/08/2005 - 9:31am.
So much to cover I can't even begin...

I find this insanely funny for reasons I can't fully explain. It's the look on Mike Myers' face I guess. I wonder if he had a flashback?

By the time I got wind of that, though, it had already been topped! Ah, what a country.
Posted by Saint on Thu, 09/08/2005 - 1:04pm.
Yikes. "Working out very well for them"? I always liked Barbara Bush, but that's just...ehh. She must be getting dotty in her old age.

Let's get back to basics, people. Cthulhu for President!

Cthulhu is Your Fate in 2008!

Okay, so it doesn't have the same ring as Cthulhu and You in '92!, but what do you expect, it's off the cuff.

-Can't stop, the weasels are closing in!
Tip of the iceberg
Posted by Mike on Fri, 09/09/2005 - 12:57pm.
Amazing quotes aplenty these days.

Strange sights too.
Fallout and confusion
Posted by Mike on Tue, 09/13/2005 - 9:37am.
One of these days I'll get time enough to do more than post random placeholding links here. I feel some sort of general complaing bubbling up.

Not today though.
Don't mind me
Posted by Mike on Thu, 06/09/2005 - 12:48pm.
Just linking this Slashdot dealie and this Naomi Klein article I hadn't seen before.
More debate
Posted by marinerd on Thu, 05/26/2005 - 10:09am.
Hypocricy, anyone? How's this for a fine example of it:


New comment
Posted by marinerd on Wed, 05/11/2005 - 8:48am.
Just when you think this thread is dead, it rises again.

So, I absolutely loved the quote of the day:

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers. -Thomas Pynchon, writer (1937- )

Does that remind anyone of current U.S. government officials? I know it's not exclusive to them, but they seem to rely on this tried and true system more than anyone else right now.

Posted by Mike on Wed, 05/11/2005 - 2:54pm.
Why, what could we possibly talk about? Heh.
Posted by peegee on Thu, 05/12/2005 - 12:08am.
You're not seriously worried about such a trivial matter, right ? I mean you have a government that may read your mail, tap your phone and put you under surveillance just based on the suspicion that this may aid an ongoing investigation and they can make it illegal for anyone to tell you about it. They can put you in prison, solitary confinement, defying you the right to see a lawyer, never formally charging you with a crime, never putting you before a judge and perhaps keeping you forever, and again their legally entitled to keep that secret. Every foreigner visiting your country has his mugshot and his fingerprints taken and soon even planes not landing only flying over the US need to hand over passenger lists to the government. And then you're worried about a national ID ?
That's ridiculuous and from my perspective: Denmark has had a national ID for ages and it ties together everything: identity, address, bank accounts, employment, health insurance etc. The people who complain about such measures are usually those who have something to hide. And it is these people's freedom you want to protect ?
Posted by Saint on Thu, 05/12/2005 - 9:00am.
The identity theft problem worries me more than the govt spying. Just having a felon use my social security number caused me enough of a hassle; if he'd had all my information to go with that number, how much worse might it have been?

Having to put your physical address out there for anyone to see bothers me quite a bit, too. A friend of mine was once followed most of the way home by a grocery store clerk who was later convicted of breaking into another woman's home and raping her; how wonderful would it be for guys like that to be able to find your address out in advance so they don't have to follow you and you therefore have no chance of losing them?

-Can't stop, the weasels are closing in!
Posted by peegee on Thu, 05/12/2005 - 3:37pm.
Ok, I should clarify this point: that there is one ID (in fact, crucially one 10 digit number, Denmark is small) that ties together name, address, bank accounts, health insurance, etc. does not mean that all this information is publicly available, it is available to the state only and well guarded. And knowing someone's ID, doesn't give you access to someone's bank account aso. Also, the way I understood it, identity theft in the US is easy, because there are few means to check that an alleged identity is valid or easy to forge documents suffice to convince people that you are someone else.
I know it works for you guys, but...
Posted by Saint on Fri, 05/13/2005 - 10:32am.
Yes, identity theft in the US is easy, which is why I'm concerned about our helpful govt making it easier. Here's what Mike's link had to say about the stolen identity problem:

'Our new IDs will have to make their data available through a "common machine-readable technology". That will make it easy for anybody in private industry to snap up the data on these IDs. Bars swiping licenses to collect personal data on customers will be just the tip of the iceberg as every convenience store learns to grab that data and sell it to Big Data for a nickel. It won't matter whether the states and federal government protect the data - it will be harvested by the private sector, which will keep it in a parallel database not subject even to the limited privacy rules in effect for the government.'

The site indicates the ID card, with all the info on it, will be used in all the same circumstances a driver's license is used now--buying cigarettes or alcohol, proving you're the cat whose name is on the check you just used, etc. That's not even taking into account the hackers that will break into the system for fun and profit. I can't speak for anyone else, but one of the main reasons I distrust our govt is because there seems to be a certain level of half-assedness and incompetency associated with everything it does....

-Can't stop, the weasels are closing in!
Posted by Jon on Mon, 05/16/2005 - 8:02am.

A hypothetical question for you:
If the ID administration were done by a trustworthy source (not government), would you feel it enables the benefits without unnecessarily endangering privacy?

I'm not sure what kind of trustworthy source would work... a private foundation with some kind of oversight, perhaps? That's why it's still a hypothetical scenario.

Just trying out the idea for size.

- My mind is in the gutter, but it keeps out the bad weather.
Posted by Saint on Mon, 05/16/2005 - 9:56am.
If, as Mike's link indicates, the cards will be on-the-spot readable, then it doesn't matter who's administering it--you'd have to rely on every single person who has occasion to read it (or has clapped together equipment to read it when he has no business doing so) to be trustworthy.

Anyway, I'm unclear what the benefits would be. Terrorists never seem to have much trouble getting fake IDs now, I'm not sure how hard it would be to fake (or buy, or steal) one of the new ones. All these millions that have been spent on Homeland Security, from the TSA to forcing truckers hauling hazmat stuff (including nail polish and the like) to have background checks, don't seem to have made the country one whit safer, yet. I'm doubting the new ID will be much different--a whole lot of noise and bustle, and not a whole hell of a lot of results.

-Can't stop, the weasels are closing in!
Unshrug me here
Posted by Jon on Mon, 05/23/2005 - 6:47am.
I was hoping to talk about ways it could work, but if it's so hopeless, I guess I'll give up too.
(I'm going to agree to disagree with the 'not one whit safer' part.)

- My mind is in the gutter, but it keeps out the bad weather.
Land snark
Posted by Saint on Mon, 05/23/2005 - 8:37pm.
Tell me ways it could work, then. Don't go expecting the cynic to think of these things for you. *g*

I realize I failed to answer your initial question, and for that, I'm sorry; I didn't mean to duck it, I just sidetracked myself. If the information could be guaranteed to be govt-accesible only, and if it could somehow further be guaranteed to be only properly used by the govt agents looking at it, then I don't have a problem with the ID. Every bit of info on it could be found out by the govt anyway, if they cared to investigate. I'm just not sure how to reconcile the two goals of ease-of-use and need-to-know security. Maybe someone with some tech savvy could ease my mind on that?

Here's what I mean about not being safer: the TSA itself says its equipment is woefully behind the tech curve, yet blows hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating an office instead of buying new stuff; since the hazmat background checks have begun, only two drivers have been denied licenses, and neither was for anything involving terrorist ties or backgrounds; not one single terrorist has been brought to justice because of the broad information-gathering powers of the Patriot Act, unless the govt is keeping it secret, which I doubt they'd be inclined to do since it would be easier for them to make said powers permanent if they could hold up some results. I'm sorry, I don't feel safer. As you say, I guess we'll agree to disagree, as we usually must do. :)

I know it's immature, but leave it to Bush just amuses me.

-Can't stop, the weasels are closing in!
Open Secret
Posted by Somnambulist on Mon, 05/16/2005 - 3:25pm.
"--a whole lot of noise and bustle, and not a whole hell of a lot of results."

But... that's how the government deals with difficult situations!

"When in trouble or in doubt,
run in circles, scream and shout."
Morality origins
Posted by Jon on Fri, 04/22/2005 - 9:54am.

Historically, many systems of morality have been generated from religions, or in response to them. The 'rational' system, in a large part, was formed once church doctrine incorporated the values found in rediscovered Greek texts (Aristotle being an important influence).

- My mind is in the gutter, but it keeps out the bad weather.
Posted by Saint on Fri, 04/22/2005 - 5:58pm.
See, if you don't believe in a god to hand out the rules, it becomes really hard to believe that people who previously had no notion of morals got together and said, just for the hell of it, that they would curtail their behavior. Sexual mores, sure, those likely come from religion. An aversion to killing, raping, or stealing even when you're pretty sure you won't get caught? Not so much. That sort of morals comes from empathy for your fellow man, not from the pulpit. If religious people honestly have no reason not to do all those things without someone screaming "Hellfire!" from the pulpit, then that doesn't exactly raise my opinions of the religion and its followers. As shown in the example I quoted from Martin, I think morality is in place first, then the religion lines itself out accordingly. When slavery, multiple wives, executing all the men in conquered tribes, etc, were normal occurances in society, they were hunky dory with God, too.

-Can't stop, the weasels are closing in!
Where else
Posted by Jon on Mon, 04/25/2005 - 9:04am.
Maybe I'm dense with this cold I've had the last few days, but I'm still missing something here.
Morality was in place before people existed, and then people discovered it? Like discovering that 'objects in motion tend to stay in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force'?

I honestly do think that 'people who previously had no notion of morals got together and said, just for the hell of it, that they would curtail their behavior'.
At the same time, they were constructing stories, that contained lessons for why morals were good ideas. Cultures that did not have modern media methods used vocal communication to propogate ideas, and some even used artwork.
These ideas were both moral and religious in nature.

I have no proof of what pre-historical humanity did or believed, but I think that deduction from early history is a good start. I am not aware of any early historical cultures that developed a morality system before its religion. If you know of any, I would like to hear about them, as that would change my perspective greatly.

- My mind is in the gutter, but it keeps out the bad weather.
We'll have to agree to disagree.
Posted by Saint on Mon, 04/25/2005 - 10:27am.
I'm not going off history. You're into ancient histories, I know--don't you find that story-telling often came before fact, especially if the events related happened before written history?. These accounts are good for knowing, in general, what was going on and how the historian felt about it, not much more. And since the priesthood is most often also the keeper of histories before the written word (and even after it; who were the only people reading and writing in the Middle Ages of Europe?), ancient history becomes particularly unreliable on the question of seperating morals from religion.

No, what I'm going off of is human nature. Fear of god or community disapproval isn't the reason I don't kick annoying children at work; neither is fear of prosecution. Instead, it's the recognition that the kid, however annoying, is a living and (in theory) thinking being who doesn't deserve to be treated badly because my day isn't going well. There's no real religious objection to harming animals (just ask the scape-goat), but all the same, most people feel it's wrong to hurt them without any reason (granted, that reason may be as flimsy as wanting to turn their fur into a jacket collar, but it still isn't torture for torture's sake).

And no, I'm not saying that morals mystically existed before people. That's what the religious argument is. What I'm saying is that morals developed through empathy and necessity. Empathy, being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes, not only stops you from victimizing them but can cause you to reach out a helping hand when something else bad happens to them. And necessity: societies where people do reach out that helping hand to each other are far more likely to survive disaster than societies in which you have to worry about your neighbor killing you in your sleep on a whim. Also, I think some of what's considered moral is primate instinct. Humans, like most other primates, are wired to be social: it's their evolutionary advantage against bigger and meaner animals, which can easily kill them individually but can't take on the whole group. You'll note that most primates, despite an apparent lack of religion, work together fairly well, and don't typically commit random violence on their fellows.

Somewhat related, I was browsing through a National Geographic at the dentist's office and saw an article about an ancient volcanic eruption so severe that scientists believe it probably caused a fairly massive die-back; in excavating sites that are dated from after that event, archeologists find more out-of-place artifacts--gifts or trade from other societies--than at comparable sites dated from before the event. Though this is hardly solid proof, it led the writer to wonder if tribes that practiced gift-giving and reciprocity might not have survived better than more insular ones. (If someone else saw the article, could you tell me the date of the NG, so I can read it thoroughly instead of just skimming it? It's the one with the cover photo of the old man with his head connected to dozens of white wires.)

-Can't stop, the weasels are closing in!
March 2005
Posted by brian65401 on Tue, 04/26/2005 - 6:23am.
That sounds like the March 2005 edition, but I've yet to find that story. I'll go through the dead tree edition again.

That's the one.
Posted by Saint on Tue, 04/26/2005 - 10:00am.

-Can't stop, the weasels are closing in!
Posted by brian65401 on Sat, 04/23/2005 - 6:17pm.

An interesting piece that should give us even MORE to discuss.
Hmmmmm indeed.
Posted by paul on Tue, 04/26/2005 - 8:55am.
"Religion, broadly speaking, means the voluntary subjection of oneself to God."

"In every form of religion is implied the conviction that the mysterious, supernatural Being (or beings) has control over the lives and destinies of men. Especially in lower grades of culture, where the nature and utilization of physical laws is but feebly understood, man feels in many ways his helplessness in the presence of the forces of nature: it is the Divine Being that controls them; He it is that can direct them for man's weal or woe. There thus arises in the natural order a sense of dependence on the Deity, deeply felt need of Divine help. This lies at the basis of religion."

Well, these statements I can agree with, at least. But there's a lot of stuff in there I don't agree with. For instance:

"The error of mistaking many nature-deities for the one true God vitiates, but does not destroy, religion. But religion ceases to exist where, as in Pantheism, the deity is pronounced to be devoid of all consciousness."

I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that the nature deities are without consciousness- in fact, quite the reverse. The idea of sacrificing stuff to various gods implies that that god is aware of us and has a personality, hence the giving of gifts to it. They didn't sacrifice virgins to the volcano because they thought that the volcano was unaware...

Interesting stuff, especially farther down in the article where it talks about the civilizing efects of religion. I will have to read it in detail later when I have time...
Let's see
Posted by Saint on Tue, 04/26/2005 - 9:57am.
Pantheism: n. A doctrine identifying the deity with the universe (according to the American Heritage Dictionary). So pantheists wouldn't be the ones worshipping nature deities, they would be the ones who believe that god is everything, and everything is part of god. I'm god, so are you, so is my cat, so is the tree in the yard, so is the gravel in the driveway. I'm not sure that means there's no ultimate consciousness, though, or that there's no religion involved. I just don't know enough about that one.

The civilizing effects of religion, I will buy. Knights were rapacious murdering thieves until the clergy convinced them they were noble defenders of the faith. Of course, then many of them were rapacious murdering thieves nobly defending the faith. *shrug*

[edit]I've been waiting for Jon to leap in and say "Ah-ha! You do believe religion affects morality." I'll save him the effort by putting up my response now: Refocusing the cniht's violent attentions on other people, while a good step forward for local civilization, wasn't much of a moral victory. Crusaders committed all the same old atrocities, just on different victims.

-Can't stop, the weasels are closing in!
Keep waiting *g*
Posted by Jon on Wed, 05/04/2005 - 9:20am.
I stepped away from this thread because I was getting too emotional. I'll be lurking through periodically to see what ideas are discussed.

- My mind is in the gutter, but it keeps out the bad weather.
Apropo of nothing
Posted by marinerd on Thu, 04/21/2005 - 1:52pm.
I saw this interesting quote, saw it might fit in here nicely. However, don't blame the oddly worded last paragraph on me. It came that way!

Computers and Religion

The Italian philosopher, Umberto Eco, once wrote, tongue only partly in cheek, that Macintosh is Catholic while Microsoft computers are Protestant.

Macs, Umberto Eco opined, were "cheerful, friendly, conciliatory," traits he associated with Catholicism. More to the point, though, their way of operating was different from Microsoft's, giving more guidance to users.

Macs would, as Umberto Eco put it, "tell the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach - if not the Kingdom of Heaven - the moment in which their document is printed".

He saw that as like Catholicism, in contrast to the Protestant faith which he thought, like Microsoft computers, would "allow free interpretation of scripture, demand difficult personal decisions... And take for granted that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself".
Hmm, contrast...
Posted by peegee on Mon, 04/11/2005 - 4:53am.
This is sort of off-topic, well, it has vague connections to the "sex is sin" discussion. As far as I know, certain liberal elements in the US are rather unhappy with certain aspects of the "abstinence only"-programs for educating teenagers about sex. Just today, I came across a program which is used at Danish schools in the ninth and tenth grades, so roughly ages 15-16. The (very popular) program is titled: "Having sex is healthy, if you know how to do it".
Posted by paul on Wed, 04/06/2005 - 12:40am.
Three thirty in the morning, sitting at my desk at work, is a hell of a time to find a discussion on theology. As if my head wasn't already spinning enough!

I am not going to go off on a rant about how screwy I find Christianity to be. I will say that the thing that finally turned me away from it for good was all the contradictions I found in the Bible, not to mention the things that just plain make no sense (why the hell would God get so angry with people who "pisseth against the wall"?). But past that I will not go.

I will only repeat a point made by Jack Vance in one of his books- "Servants of the Wankh", I think. A group of people were discussing their religions and one man stated that he found that in general a man and his religion are the same. All of us are confronted with the Void; the religious man feels the need to put a more or less human face on it, usually his own. Thus a religious zealot will become agitated when defending his religion because he is in essence defending himself.

In other words: God is basically just a bigger and better version of ourselves. Everyone has his own views of God and no two will be alike because no two people are alike.

Feh. I think I need to go read some P.G. Wodehouse or something just to wash this out of my brain.
Er, yikes?
Posted by Jon on Tue, 03/29/2005 - 6:47am.
Remind me not to get on your bad sides, people...

- My mind is in the gutter, but it keeps out the bad weather.
Posted by Mike on Thu, 02/24/2005 - 11:32am.
It's kinda long, and sags a bit in the middle, but I found this link interesting. There's a whole, long, all-encompassing complaint post I'm just dying to make, but it seems that I never have the time. Oh well.
Just a peasant
Posted by marinerd on Tue, 03/01/2005 - 11:48am.
Interesting article!

One more post from Eve and this thread will lose its front page privileges. I guess it will die then. It's not like the old days--I think people are just worn out.
Well, it has been four months.
Posted by Mike on Wed, 03/02/2005 - 9:52am.
Maybe people are just reconciled to it or something. I dunno, I guess I could try and ignore the partial resurrection of the sillier aspects of the Dark Ages-- Crusades, Inquisitions, and the general revolt against knowledge-- and the recapitulation of previous U.S. political excesses (a nod to Teapot Dome here, a shout-out to Watergate there, a sneaky suspension of habeus corpus for old time's sake, the raging revenge of the military-industrial complex). Looks to work pretty well for some. It'll be tough though.

By the way, to go back to the topic of religion: I'm not very religious personally, but I don't see why that has to necessarily put me at odds with those people who are. There's a deep and abiding split between the religious and non-religious in my own immediate family, but it's not like we're planning to take up arms against one another or anything.

I'm not opposed to Bush because of his religious leanings; I'm annoyed by what seems to me to be a very cynical and manipulative expression of those religious leanings that strikes me as hypocritical on his part. I thought Christianity was more about helping the poor and being a peacemaker, but apparently he knows better. And I'm not too fond of the recent "governor who personally oversees an execution" Presidential track I've noticed over the last dozen years, but I guess not everyone shares my outlook on the utility of the death penalty. Not even Jesus? Well damn.

By the way, here in Georgia there's been a recent uproar over the newly majority-Republican state legislature, which has been trying to pass the most interesting laws recently, much to the surprise and consternation of the public at large. Politicians going back on their promises and revealing themselves to be imperious frauds? Oh my gosh, who could have forseen such a thing? (*massive eyeroll*) Ow, my retinas!

So, in conclusion, life will continue to suck. Oh well.
Posted by peegee on Wed, 03/02/2005 - 1:26am.
There are people who check the "recent posts" more frequently than they scroll down the entire frontpage. I certainly do. But you're probably right anyway. As long as this thread is still there I might as well post one of my persoanl favourites, an
article on Tibet, China's occupation of it, the good old times when Buddhism ruled and the fact that there are no easy answers in real life. Truly illuminating.
Posted by Mike on Wed, 03/02/2005 - 9:58am.
And yeah, I had seen a similar article about how Tibet was pretty repressive of its own people until China stepped in and they shifted into the victim role. Yeah, nobody's perfect. One of the biggest problems with religion (IMHO) is the way some people (not all, mind you, but definitely some) tend to overassociate with whichever deity they follow, coming to believe that they themselves can do no wrong. This frequently leads to colossal blundering, ridiculous hubris and absurd callousness.

Heh. Not that I'm thinking of any leaders in particular, mind you.
The right place
Posted by marinerd on Mon, 02/21/2005 - 12:22pm.
I guess a political thread is the best place to eulogize Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, gonzo journalist, one of my heroes. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that his life ended in such a violent and unexpected way. He'll be missed by many, and never forgotten.

If you're too young to know who he was, read his masterpiece, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", or at least see the movie. (Johnny Depp followed him around for quite a while to make sure he got him right.) But really, I think you had to live through the 60s to really appreciate him. Maybe not.

Rest in peace, Duke.
...which must mean I'm old.
Posted by peegee on Mon, 02/21/2005 - 12:37pm.
I remember a guy from California I met at university. Upon being confronted with my (temporary) obsession with all things Thomas Pynchon, he shoved a copy of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" in my hand and told me to read it. I read it in an afternoon and loved it. That was a couple of years before the movie, which is great too. And while we're at it, for another piece of psychedelic sixties California-set madness I recommend Richard Farina's "Been down so long it looks like up to me" (which predates the Doors song of the same name by a few years). Great fun.

Anyway, the Duke will be missed.
Just bored
Posted by Saint on Sun, 02/20/2005 - 10:55pm.
It's too late for this, not that it probably would have changed anyone's mind anyway, but here you go, Bush in 30 Seconds: the ads the Democrats should have run with.
Posted by marinerd on Tue, 02/08/2005 - 1:38pm.
I have to admit I just don't get it, but there's nothing I can say without sounding mean. Here's an article I just read that makes me feel even meaner.

There is no tomorrow

I read the news just this week and learned how the Environmental Protection Agency had planned to spend $9 million -- $2 million of it from the administration's friends at the American Chemistry Council -- to pay poor families to continue to use pesticides in their homes. These pesticides have been linked to neurological damage in children, but instead of ordering an end to their use, the government and the industry were going to offer the families $970 each, as well as a camcorder and children's clothing, to serve as guinea pigs for the study.

Better than sounding average
Posted by Kris the Girl on Tue, 02/08/2005 - 6:32pm.
I can't really think of anything you could say that would offend me, but it's alright that you don't believe what I believe. Differences are interesting, right? Who's with me? :)

And that article...wow. And not in a good way.
Posted by Saint on Thu, 02/03/2005 - 1:47am.
Okay, I've got kind of an odd question to the believers in here. A question that requires set-up. One of my wife's co-workers is a Bible-is-literally-true, Earth-is-six-thousand-years-old Christian. She has a long-time boyfriend and they do not, of course, have sex, because premarital sex is wrong. However...uh, I guess there is just no way to put it delicately...oral and manual stimulation apparently don't count. Tribadation (wait...does that word apply to hets or just lesbians? Hell with it, if the word is lesbian-specific, then substitute "the rubbing of the genitals together not involving penetration" for it, and then come up with a frickin word that means that, cause it's a mouthful) is also cool. (I want my wife to ask her if this means that, in her world, the big G doesn't have a problem with lesbians, since nothing two women can do together without a foreign object would be considered sex. But I digress.)

So. The odd question to believers, then, assuming any of them have read this far, is: is this woman's drawing of the line normal? How far does petting go before it becomes sex? And how do you know? Is there a class on it? Or does everyone just draw the line at their own personal comfort zone and assume they're right and hope God feels the same way?
Then I saw her face...
Posted by Kris the Girl on Thu, 02/03/2005 - 9:50pm.
Oh, where to start...
Being a Christian -- one who believes God sent Jesus as atonement for sin, and as such is the only way to heaven -- means trying to live your life in a way pleasing to God. The decisions and actions you make in your life should all be weighed with the question of "is what I'm doing glorifying God?"

So as for this woman and her long-time boyfriend: Do you think, given these parameters, that what they are doing is right? I don't. And I don't mean that in a hell-and-damnation judgement way--I do not doubt their faith, nor their salvation. I do think they're making the wrong choice in compromising each other's purity, though.

The question asked a lot in seminars/premarital counseling/youth groups is where to draw the line, and the answer varies, to be honest. To me, there should be no line, because the mentality behind "I can go this far before I actually sin" is a faulty one, if weighed with "is what I'm doing pleasing to God?" Because, remember, God calls believers to love Him with all their MIND, body, soul, and strength.
The other thing about this that's often strange to people outside of the faith is that Christians are called to not only uphold and honor their OWN purity, but that of the people around them, as well. So girls shouldn't be wearing the tight, slinky, sexy clothes and guys shouldn't be whispering those sweet sweet words, because in doing so they dishonor other believers. So even if, say, the woman your wife works with feels that she is still pure, is she considering her boyfriend's purity?
And if she (they?) are such strong Christians, why aren't they married? God honors and loves marriage...what's the holdup?

This might sound crazy to a lot of people out there, and that's OK. I'm not passing judgement on these people, so much as their actions, but I won't back down from saying that I think they're in the wrong, from the standpoint of another Christian. We are called to rebuke each other with love when we see our fellow Christians stumble. And I've taken some pretty big stumbles m'self, to be sure. It's a whole different ballgame when dealing with God's idea of right and wrong, but Christians shouldn't have to "hope God feels the same way" about anything--this life is about pleasing Him, so we can just ask Him. I think this woman is trying to play in the world's game of moral relativity, rather than seeking God's will.
Posted by marinerd on Fri, 02/04/2005 - 3:53pm.
I really have long wondered this, but was afraid to ask. Why in the world would an omnipotent being, which created all time and space, care in the slightest if two of its creations want to have sex? Why would it create something that wonderful and then forbid it unless the people involved undergo a ceremony first. Why would the Creator care about human ceremonies like marriage at all?

Of course, I have my own opinions about it, and about religion in general, which are probably already apparent. But I'm asking not to start an argument, but because I genuinely don't understand the thinking behind this. I think I know how it actually started, but I'm interested in the Christian explanation.
Another christian POV
Posted by S_Kat on Sat, 02/05/2005 - 11:30pm.
Another christian POV which is probably heretical to other groups-

I think the marriage/sex thing is an error in order and that the social construct was created to demonstrate the importance of sexual relations. It's a case of God stepping in because we're a pack of screw-ups and need a lot of guidance.

We tend to confuse sex and love so "just sex" causes strife. In at least some sense, you are mated to anyone you share a sexual relationship with and will carry less emotional baggage the less times you sever those ties. I personally feel that many couples are emotionally married before they decide to have a wedding. Not only does sex = emotional ties but sex = babies (& future of the species). On the most practical level, babies need people who must take care of them; if everyone knows it's your kid you gotta take care of it. We all know breakups are hell esecially for those babies, so preventing all but the unavoidable ones is important: both prohibiting doomed marriages and solving problems inside marriages. Finally, if you create a family unit it should be recognized and protected--in the way-back-when, a man "took a wife" by public proclamation, not by ceremony and paperwork. Because we accept cohabiting couples, we have many "married" people without legal protections they would have had under common-law rules.

But like I said, we all mess up so I'm going to congratulate anyone who really belives in forever on their 3rd marriage.
One Christian's Explanation.
Posted by Kris the Girl on Sat, 02/05/2005 - 9:25am.
To answer this, I think I should back up and ask a different question first: Why did God create man?
The answer, as I understand it, is that God wanted to have a loving relationship with His creation. The natural things, the earth and sea, the plants and animals, all love and worship God simply by being--they are as he created them.
But He created man in His image. He also gave this new, different creature a soul--an eternal life-force that makes it more like God and less like another animal of creation. So man is cared for and loved by God as a unique and wholly different thing than anything else on this earth.

In the beginning, there was no sin. Adam and Eve (or the first peoples, if you will) lived in a Utopia, walking and communing with God. Now, the temptation of sin has always been around--the snake in the garden was known by God. He knew the threat. Adam and Eve let that temptation overwhelm them, and they ate the fruit from the one tree that God had said to leave alone.
I think it's worth pointing out here that the "sin" in this act was not actually the eating of the fruit, but in disobeying God.
In doing so, they allowed sin to enter the world, and all of creation--not just man, but the whole thing--fell from that utopian, perfect ideal that God had created. All of what we as Christians now call Sin stemmed from one act of disobedience.

So, now to your questions.
God cares what we do in all aspects of our lives, not just the ones our culture finds important. God created marriage first, before sex--my best guess would be to keep families together and give children two parents of different genders, and to satisfy what is truly the nature of humans, which is monogamous relationships. That's why he cares about ceremonies like marriage. He created sex for procreation, of course--but that doesn't explain why it's so enjoyable. I think it's also the approximation of expressing love that people have that comes closest to the full nature of the love of God, yet still falls far short.

But, like everything else in this world, sin has twisted something as holy and beautiful as sex, making it something people think they're entitled to or deserve because they want it. The idea that 'whatever feels right is right' is a fallacy. We get to deal with temptation and overcome it because we no longer inhabit a place called Perfect. Now it's acceptable in society to give in to your desires, to do whatever you want (as long as you aren't hurting anyone) and to simply seek after momentary fullfilment wherever you can.
God cares which two creations are having sex because any sex relationship outside of marriage is not as it was intended to be. It doesn't matter that it feels good, or right--sin wouldn't be tempting if it was boring--it's still outside of the will of God.

To add to what is already possibly the longest post ever, I'll say this: I also believe that all sins are equal. i don't think that babies born outside of marriage are cursed, or that people in relationships other than 'man+woman=married' are bad. People are just people, and as a Christian I am called not to judge them, but to love them. Am I an expert at this? Far from it--there are many people I have a hard time loving. Generally I struggle with loving selfish people. I have many gay friends, I know a lot of people who either live with someone else or have slept with their S/O's before...honestly, I don't care. I've comitted my own share of sexual sins, of sins in general. I don't want to commit more by laying down judgement on someone. That's not my job. I'm much more interested in knowing someone than judging them. I am sorry if anything I've said in this post has offended anyone, because that wasn't my intention--I just wanted to answer the question as fully and honestly as I know how.
Posted by Mori on Sat, 02/05/2005 - 9:58pm.
I love when I get to see a Christian explain their beliefs AND not be judgemental. I wish everyone who called themselves a follower of Christ could more often be true to their beliefs, but at the same time admit they aren't perfect and allow God to be the one to "judge". Yay!

Posted by Matt on Sun, 02/06/2005 - 12:37am.
I totally agree. And anyone who's been around here for a while knows how I feel about organized religion, regardless of the form it takes.

It's a bit extreme, but I still like the spirit behind the bumper sticker, "Jesus, please save me from your followers."

On the general subject of religion, here's something I find odd.
In Iran, the bigger the city is, the more... adamant, I suppose, the people tend to be about following the tenets of their (official) religion. When you get deep into the countryside, among the nomadic and semi-nomadic people, you'll find women who never cover their face and wear brightly-colored clothing and pray in the same tent as men, plus they feel free to make carpets that are more obviously iconographic than one might expect.

In the United States, it's the opposite. The bigger the city is, the less likely you are to find people who are adamant about the unofficial (yet dominant) religion of its people. I've met a lot of "recovering Catholics," atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and aspiring yogis, but very few passionately Christian people. The more one ventures into (for lack of a better word) the countryside, the more likely one is to find people who, for instance, believe the Earth is 6000 years old and there was no such thing as rain before a supreme creator brought 40 days and nights of it and flooded the entire Earth. (There are many people, including my maternal grandmother, who believe that, prior to The Great Flood, the Earth received all its moisture from a chronic, low-lying fog.)

I just find the polar contrast really interesting.
Low-lying fog?
Posted by Kris the Girl on Sun, 02/06/2005 - 6:24am.
I've never heard that before, weird! I wonder where they get that from. I'm no Biblical scholar, but I don't recall any mention of a fog in genesis, really before or after the flood. huh.
Posted by Kris the Girl on Sun, 02/06/2005 - 9:44am.
So I found the passage--Genesis 2:5 & 6 says "and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground..."

my footnote for the word "streams" says "or mist." Some translations use something more like Springs from the ground. This passage is in the middle of talking about how God made man, so it's just background--kind of like while the earth was formless, before the whole part about water teeming with creatures and the land producing livestock, there was no rain.
Which, why would there be, if there were no plants and animals yet to need it? But I'd never noticed that part. very interesting.
After that it talks about rivers watering the garden of Eden. I just looked really quick, but I don't think there's any mention of "No rain, ever, before that one time when the world flooded..." so that seems kind of arbitrary. Nowhere in the account of the flood does it say the rains fell "for the first time" so...huh. But like I said, I'm no scholar on the subject. I'd never heard that particular belief before, though.
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