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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Clarifications on bullshit

As you have almost certainly surmised if you read Dan Savage's apology, it isn't an apology for much. It's more of a clarification-- an explanation of 1) how the distinction between how you act (pansy-assedly) and who you are (a pansy-ass) matters, but not as much as we sometimes like to pretend, and 2) the presumably uncontroversial-to-anyone-but-bible-literalists-and-people-who-want-to-portray-LBGT-advocates-as-bullies point that noting the existence of non-truths in a holy text is absolutely not the same as insulting the minds and practices of everyone who treats that text as holy.

Call me biased, but I wouldn't call Christianity "bullshit." That's because I know that Christianity is a lot more than a set of propositions that may or may not be true and practices that are demonstrably counter-productive-- unlike, say, the so-called Law of Attraction. But if the Law of Attraction inspired the practice of charity, the creation of beautiful and enduring art and architecture, the gathering of families across the world in a single silent night of appreciating each other's company, well...I wouldn't call that bullshit either. I have a Tim-Minchin-like regard for the celebration of Christmas with one's family, even if for us it almost never involves actually drinking white wine in the sun:


If that doesn't get you at least a little bit misty, I suggest that you might be a cyborg. Best to get that checked out.

Christianity is an identity, for some people a highly consuming one. It's kind of disconcerting to see atheists forget that, as if they have no recollection of why the process of deconversion was so arduous in the first place. Some of us took our faith very seriously, and it was that same seriousness that caused us to consider it and consider it and examine it closely with tweezers and microscopes and fine-toothed combs, and eventually after so much examination and analysis...cast it aside.

That's why I can't agree with commentaries like this one, and understand why Savage felt the need to elaborate on precisely what he was labeling "bullshit" and why. I still don't think any apology was necessary, but it's unfortunate to see so many complaints that the brush he was painting with just wasn't broad enough.

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