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Are We There Yet? Gavin McInnes Edition

Are We There Yet? is a series about changed minds.

I was walking through the Fox News building a while ago and a producer introduced me to a young black man by saying, “This is the engineer you’ll be working with tonight.” We shook hands and the engineer said, “I know who you are. Look, I want you to know, I don’t agree with all your beliefs but I respect you for speaking your mind.” I said “Thanks” because we were in a hurry but what I really wanted to say was, “What beliefs? I’m not a Scientologist. I don’t really have ‘beliefs.’ I have opinions based on the information provided. If you have data that contradicts that opinion, well, let’s get busy as a stump-tailed cow in fly time!”

I’d love to change my mind about something. That’s called learning. My views aren’t radical. They’re benign. I just want people to be happy and free and live full lives that are liberated from bullshit. […]

The only thing I refuse to believe is that anyone should be deprived of the right to have his own opinions. It took a lot of blood and guts to get us to this level of freedom, and shutting down discussions or having an unshakable belief system about politics is downright un-American. The facts don’t change. It’s the teams who change and today’s liberals look a lot like yesterday’s fascists. The villains we assume are out to get us are often just the ones who are brave enough to do what’s right even when it looks wrong. Sometimes good guys don’t wear white.

Read the rest.

Trevor Blake: To Be a Christian

The Alexamenos Graffito.

To be a Christian can be many things. To explain what it means to be a Christian it might be easier to begin by exclusion, casting out what is not Christianity and reducing the subject to a manageable size. For example… Jesus wasn’t an optical illusion. Jesus was not born a man who adopted God-hood when He was baptized. Jesus wasn’t a mindless ghost. Jesus wasn’t a special after-the-fact creation of God. Jesus did not come to Earth to overthrow the God who created the world and replace Him with a new God. None of these claims about Jesus are part of Christianity and they sound strange to us. It is true that these claims were every bit as believed and every bit as popular as any other claim about Jesus in the first few hundred years of the Common Era. But these are the claims of early Christians whose theology did not stand the test of time. Generally they did not stand the test of time because other Christians with other claims suppressed them. To be a Christian might be many things, but it is not these things.

The earliest Christians did not refer to themselves as Catholics, but what call Catholicism today has the earliest claims to Christianity. Among the Catholics are the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Catholics claim a lineage of authority from Jesus Christ to St. Peter and onward to the Popes (plural) of today. Having two (or more) heads to the one body of the Church might seem monstrous, but set that aside for now. Within the Roman Catholic Church alone there are any number of super-numerous anti-popes. Clement VII and Urban VI were both elected as Pope, both by the same college of Cardinals, and both served at the same time. Sometimes there was more than one Pope, and sometimes there was no pope at all. And then there’s that whole international clerical child rape ring business.  To be a Christian might be to be a Catholic, but the authority of that lineage is questionable.

Christianity doesn’t have the market cornered on Christ. Jesus Christ is considered a prophet in the rival religion Islam. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka The Mormons) have Jesus making an appearance in North America. Scientology honors Jesus as one of many good teachers. The Raelians describe Jesus as a UFO pilot who is still alive on His home planet. These, too, are ways to be a Christian.

In 1517 the Catholic theologian Martin Luther published Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum, a criticism of the Roman Catholic Church. While the Roman Catholics claimed divine authority through apostolic succession, Luther said that the Bible was the only divine authority. This brought about the Protestant revolution, and Protestantism is another way of being a Christian. It is not a valid form of argument to criticize a man’s position on one topic by criticizing his position on another topic… but it can be mean-spirited fun. In that spirit, a few words that may reveal something of the character of Luther: “What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? [Set] fire to their synagogues or schools and […] bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. […] I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. […] I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. Fourth, I advise that their Rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. […] I advise that safe conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews.” You get the idea. Martin Luther showed one way to be a Christian.

Jesus Christ did not leave any written records. The Catholic Churches rely on tradition and (ahem) “revelation” rather than the Bible. It is in Protestant theology that reliance on the Bible is the way to be a Christian. When I (and likely you) speak of the Bible, I do not mean the grab-bag of texts put together by Constantine in 322. Nor the pick-a-pack jumble of texts put together by Pope Damasus I in 382. Nor the hodge-podge of texts put together by the Council of Carthage in 418. And I don’t mean the dozens if not hundreds of accounts of Jesus Christ that were excluded from the Bible. No, I (and likely you) mean the canon Bible, the Protestant Bible, perhaps even the King James Only Bible. When divine authority is placed in a book from which nothing can be taken and to which nothing can be added, every jot and tittle has a meaning. All those earlier compilations of Christian texts were wrong, all those excluded Christian texts are wrong, but this time – this time! – just the right Christian texts have been compiled. To millions, following the Bible is the way to be a Christian.

In the Bible, five equals eight and pi is a rational number. In the Bible there are unicorns and dragons that gambol across the surface of a flat earth. In the Bible we are allowed to keep slaves but forbidden to cook a goat in goat’s milk. The bibliodoxy of Protestant Christianity demands that to be a Christian one must believe in all this and more. These are not suggestions for a long-past age, but infallible and eternal commandments from an unerring God to be carried out today. We know these are infallible and eternal commandments because God told us this in the Old Testament (“For I am the Lord, I change not.” – Malachi 3:6) and Jesus told us this in the New Testament (“Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:18-19).

The Bible makes claims about what is good. If someone advocates a different religion, kill them. If you want to be happy, smash a baby’s head with a rock. If you know someone who is homosexual, kill him. If a woman doesn’t yell loud enough when raped, kill her. If you want to show God how much you love Him, kill your daughter. By one estimate there are between two and twenty-five million put to death by God’s hand or God’s orders in the Bible. God gives us statutes that are not good and judgments whereby we should not live. God hardens our hearts so that we cannot hark to the miracles God sends. God uses His powers of miracles to make it impossible for some of us to convert to Christianity. And when God doesn’t use a miracle, He uses delusions and lies to make sure some people will never worship Him. Why? Because Jesus wants some people to suffer eternal damnation.

Free Northerner is a Christian. Here is FN on what it means to be a Christian.

First, we must remember that God is good and God is good. Good is defined in relation to God, He is the absolute measure of good apart from which good becomes meaningless, so whatever God does or orders is good. To try and judge God or His works is arrogance, nothing more. To try to hold judgment over His commands is error. To try to explain away, minimize, or apologize for His works and His orders is to attack God’s righteousness. To think that God’s commands present a problem is not a problem of God, but rather a deficiency in your own understanding and own morality. – Genocidal Mercy.

The claim is not that murder is okay. The claim is (or in fairness, if this was a criticism of someone else, my claim is) and was specifically ‘Murder is unlawful killing and God’s law is the highest law. If God orders a killing, it is by definition lawful, and is therefore, by definition, not murder.’ […] If after a period of prayer, fasting, consultation with trusted Christian leaders, and testing the spirits I understood the spirits were those of the Lord I would obey. Depending on the ‘level of wrongness’ (for lack of a better term springing to mind), this period would be longer and more intense. I might also try to bargain with God as per Abraham. – Responses to Genocidal Mercy.

Through fire and sword he whispers His love and His desire for reconciliation. Through temporal discipline, he displays His eternal love for His own. […] Blessed be the Lord our God. – The Holocaust: God Loves the Jews.

Throughout this essay I have described what Christians have thought and said and done for hundreds of years. Some of this sounds strange to us because they were not the strains of Christianity that came to be dominant. Here then, in plain speech, are the mainstream claims of Christianity. Jesus Christ was the decedent of David, being both the 28th and the 43rd in his line. Three prophecies [one] [two] [three] demand that Jesus be a decedent of David to be the Son of God, although twice [one] [two] the mother of Jesus, Mary, is instead listed as a decedent of Levi. Twice the Bible says Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem at the birth of Christ [one] [two], twice the Bible says Mary and Joseph were in Nazareth [one] [two] twice the Bible says Mary and Joseph were in Galilee [one] [two]. Christ always followed the law, except regarding food, washing His hands, honoring the Sabbath, fasting, adultery, divorce, lying and stealing. Christ told His followers that He would be beheaded. Instead, Christ was crucified. When the women went to Jesus’ tomb it was open and it was closed. After Christ returned from the dead one could not touch Him and one could touch Him. The resurrected Christ stayed on Earth for only one day and also for only eight days and also for over forty days. After this, Christ rose to the Heavens from atop the Mount of Olives and also from Jerusalem and also from Bethany. To be a Christian one must be saved. Faith in Christ is what will save you. Except, of course, that it’s not faith but good works that will save you. Which is to say it’s not good works, it’s God’s grace that will save you. Wait a moment, what I really meant was all men are automatically saved. Strike that, we’re all predestined and nothing will save us. God is one person and also three. God is all-knowing and thus cannot be surprised, thus God does not know what it feels like to be surprised and thus God is not all-knowing. God is everywhere, thus God cannot move from one place to another. God is all-powerful, thus God can hold Himself back, thus God is not all-powerful. God is always just, punishing humanity exactly as humanity deserves, and God is always merciful, punishing humanity less than humanity deserves. And when you can’t find any historical precedent, when you can’t find a verse in the Bible, when you can’t cite tradition, you can always say you have a ‘personal relationship with Christ.’ These are the beliefs required of anyone who wants to be a Christian.

What does it mean to be a Christian? It means what the believer wants it to mean. It’s a self-serve cafeteria faith where the believer is at liberty to select from two thousand years of sometimes compulsory, sometimes forbidden but always contradictory and cruel dictates. Christianity is a Frankenstein’s monster assembled from a grave robber’s bounty. When you think you have absolute truth on your side, all things are justified. The invisible monster that lives in the sky will forgive all.

Trevor Blake and Free Northerner: To Be a Christian

A debate between Trevor Blake of OVO and Free Northerner.

Links:

Schedule:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Trevor Blake: Opening Statement (due within five days of Introduction).
  3. Free Northerner: Opening Statement (due within five days of phase two).
  4. Trevor Blake: Second Statement (due within five days of phase three).
  5. Free Northerner: Second Statement (due within five days of phase four).
  6. Trevor Blake: Closing Statement (due within five days of phase five).
  7. Free Northerner: Closing Statement (due within five days of phase six).
  8. Free Northerner, Trevor Blake and any reader inspired to do so donate to a charitable organization (due same day as Free Northerner’s Closing Statement).

Goal:
In September 2014 Free Northerner (FN) wrote he is trying to work on his rhetoric. Trevor Blake (TB) suggested a debate.

The debate “To Be a Christian” has three goals. First, the debate will improve the rhetorical skills of the participants. The debate itself will test the rhetorical skills of FN and TB. Second, the debate will raise funds for a charitable organization. Both FN and TB have donated to a charitable organization, so that at minimum some concrete good in the world has hopefully occurred because of the debate. Third, the debate may inspire the reading audience. If the reading audience is inspired to profitable reflection, or to likewise donate to a charitable organization, all the better. FN chose the charitable organization, TB chose the topic, and the debate was agreed upon.

The topic is “To Be a Christian.” This debate can include the following… What is required to be a Christian? What is forbidden? What is the result of being a Christian? What is the result of not being a Christian?

Format
The debate is designed to distinguish it from an online disagreement. By agreed-upon time limits and limits of content, FN and TB are spurred to thoughtfulness and boldness and discouraged from laziness or victory by attrition.

There is no word count limit to an individual post. There is no editing of a post is allowed once it has been made. There is no limits to links. There is no limit to consulting any source, including other people. Aside from quotes from the debate itself, the posts should be in our the words of FN and TB. FN and TB will post at their respective sites, each linking to the other as appropriate.

In the closing statements, FN and TB should comment on how the debate might have gone better (longer / shorter time periods, more / fewer quotations, etc.).

OVO Books Going Out of Print

By January 2015 the following titles will be removed from the OVO catalog.  If you have intended to buy them, now is the time.

ECCLESIASTÉS / ECCLESIASTES / DER PREDIGER.  $4.95.

Ernext Mann: I Was Robot. $4.95.

Dora Marsden: The Freewoman and the Egoist Volume One. $4.95.

Dora Marsden: The Freewoman and the Egoist Volume Two. $9.95.

I am a Horrible Monster. Kill Me Now… Or Later

I am a Horrible Monster

I am a Horrible Monster.  Kill Me Now… Or Later.  11 x 4 inches.   Circa 1995.  Paper and glue.

In the mid-1990s I lived in a building near a house occupied by animal rights activists.  It was easy to tell which house was theirs for three reasons.  First, they had animal rights posters in the windows of their house.  Second, they wore animal rights t-shirts as they went into and out of their house.  Third and most telling of all, there was a ring of animal rights posters on telephone poles within an afternoon’s walking distance around their house.  Draw a ring of where the posters on telephone poles were, find the center of that ring, and that’s where their house was.  Almost every other animal knows not to soil it’s own nest.

I am neither a believer in animal rights nor an advocate of animal cruelty.  Like art, I know it when I see it.  A delicious, fat-marbled contradictory and unsupportable moral stance but that’s where I’m at.  What is consistent is my distrust for true believers and bullies, and the bombastic posters of the animal rights house fit that bill.  They may have had moral ground to stand on in saying it is wrong to eat or experiment on animals.  But they went further, describing those who do as evil, and knowingly evil.  They presented carnivores and vivisectionists as, well, as animals.

My reply – agree and amplify.  Using an awful images from one of their posters, I made a poster as if I were the imaginary evil scientist they were railing against.  This poster isn’t what I believe. This posters is a re-statement of what these animal rights advocates believed about those who were not animal rights advocates.  They wanted someone to say terrible things about animals, and I gave them what they wanted.  You’re welcome!

My old neighborhood has upscaled since the mid-1990s.  You can usually tell what part of town is about ten years away from prosperity by where the anarchists / feminists / animal rights advocates set up shop.  Aside from the few dozen of these posters I put out anonymously at the time, it has never been published.

Bon Appétit!