lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Scholar)
I got into a (very civil, actually) discussion on FB about this. The other person began with a CS Lewis quote about how "I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God" is a fundamentally ludicrous idea. I replied that, given what we know of both history and text, the notion of accepting the ethical 'love your neighbor, care for the sick and the poor' message of the historical teacher, while remaining skeptical of claims to divinity is quite reasonable.

She reasserted that it was not really logically possible to accept even an ethical dimension to Jesus without accepting the divine, because Bible. And also CS Lewis. *eyeroll* Essentially, the argument is this: 1) Jesus was a great moral teacher (bible says so). 2) Jesus said he was divine (bible says so). 3) If he said he was divine and was not, he lied. 4) Great moral teachers do not lie (I say so). 5) Therefore, either Jesus was not a moral teacher, or he is divine.

Oh, the fallacies just abound in that little bit of reasoning! So here is my response: (cut for length; I do get rolling!) )

I've probably come across as a bit more 'appreciative of the mythology' than I am, but one must pick one's battles. In all honesty, I find a few of the supposed teachings of Christ to be quite fine, if stunningly basic and unoriginal, and others to be every bit as archaic and (in contemporary terms) backwards as one would expect from a male member of a first century patriarchal sacrificial cult. I do appreciate the tenacity and creativity of Christianity as a movement in the first few centuries; as socio-political or cultural trends go, it is certainly a unique success story in terms of adaptation, integration into society and having a knack for surviving....
lunadelcorvo: (Xmas-Joy of the Season)
One rather unexpected benefit of teaching at a small, private, and—most pertinent to my point—Catholic university is that, unlike my large, public, state uni, they are free to put Christmas stuff absolutely everywhere! And I love it!

I'm really all for the whole separation of church and state, and I support 100% atheists and people of other faiths in their efforts to prevent Christian messages from being subsidized by government money, or presented with the weight of government behind them (After all, a manger on the court house lawn says nothing encouraging about justice for the non-Christian). I think "Happy Holidays" is a perfectly appropriate greeting, and I think the "War on Christmas" is hyperbolic, histrionic horse-$hit! However, I have always decorated with gusto for the holidays, and still do.

Though a child of wholly atheist parents, I grew up with the most Christmas-loving family you could ask for. Lights, tree, cookies and goodies; the works. I learned all the carols, secular and religious. Heck, my grandmother's two favorite carols were "O Holy Night" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," and she was the most aggressively non-religious woman I've ever known. We even had the three wisemen on our credenza, and a manger scene (hand-painted by my mom and grandma [oh how I wish I had that now!]) under our tree. And I never thought anything of it; it was no different than pumpkins on halloween, or bunnies on Easter. In fact, I was actually floored when my husband said our neighbors would assume we're Christian because of the lights on the porch! It's not like I have a manger on my lawn (as we do three houses down) - it's just lights and candy canes!

So I find myself, atheist as I am, very happy to be surrounded by lights and trees and holiday frou-frou at my uni. I can count no less than five lit and decorated (indoor) trees I see on my daily rounds of teaching and attending classes.
Granted, I might not be so tickled by this had my small, private, Catholic university ever prevented me from teaching as I saw fit. But my first classes were on the history of Christianity, whereupon I more or less threw the church (specifically Catholic pre-reformation, and in general terms thereafter) under a large, ideological bus. And, characteristically of academia, I know several of the faculty, from adjuncts to higher ups, who are also atheists, and have never had any difficulty for it. So I have to give them large kudos for that. And I get the happy benefit - an open teaching environment, and shiny holiday lights!
lunadelcorvo: (Keys)
Even if I DID believe...
Essay ©Tim Maroney, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Originally posted here, Dec 30 1983. (Reposted, with permission from author pending.)

I am not a Christian. In my discussions of this fact with Christians, I have repeatedly run into one major misunderstanding. The Christians assume that if I believed the Bible were true, I would become a Christian; that is, they believe that my reason for not being a Christian is that I don’t believe in their god. This is not the case.

One disclaimer: The thesis of this essay is that even if a God as described in the Bible does exist, he is not fit for worship due to his low moral standards. Consequently, I speak sometimes as if I did believe the Bible, when in fact I do not.

If I had undeniable proof of the existence of Yahweh, aka Jehovah, aka Adonai, aka El Shaddai, aka Yahweh Elohim, the father of Jesus and the ancient leader of the Semitic peoples, I still would not worship the bastard. If an angel appeared to me and removed my appendectomy scar so I could never deny the reality of divine power, I still would not be a Christian. My primary reason for not being a Christian or Jew has nothing to do with my lack of belief in their god. My primary reason is that the Bible is a disgusting book describing the behavior of a god without the morality of an average high school student.

The rest of the essay under the cut )
This essay thanks to the ever-erudite [ profile] doctoreon, who shared it in response to my last post. And I am sharing it because, alongside the applications of my logical and rational facilities which reject religious literalism of any stripe, lies a deep ethical abhorrence for so many aspects of the Judeo-Christian construct. This is one of those aspects, and the good Mr. Maroney has elucidated it better than I ever could.

And yes, it seems I am going public (in a limited fashion) again. I will be going back and re-opening a lot of my posts, though due to the recent blog-stalking unpleasantness, many will remain f-locked.



Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities



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