Friday, 7 September 2012

That's not my house!

One day, when I was in kindergarten, we were all asked to draw pictures of our houses. And so we picked up our crayons and got to work. After a while, as my crude representation was beginning to take shape (I took great pains to get the chimney placement just right, struggling with how a vertical chimney could still be perpendicular to a sloped roof), the kid sitting next to me looked over and said indignantly, "That's not my house!"

Okay, so it was a French immersion kindergarten, and maybe the kid was still trying to sort out how pronouns worked, and thought the assignment for everyone was to draw his house. Kind of a cute mistake in a kindergarten kid, but it's somewhat more frustrating when this kind of subjectivity takes over in adults. Lately I've encountered it in two examples I'd like to discuss.

The first was in the context of a Facebook status thread argument about abortion, in which I reprised a little bit of my argument from this posting. Mainly I wanted to make the point that it may not always be a good thing to view the fetus as a person from the moment of conception, because while that may be a great way to behave as an expectant parent, forming a healthy social bond with the person-to-be, it also can create a great deal of unnecessary suffering in the case of a miscarriage. Miscarriages being rather common, after all, is it really better to think of oneself as the grieving parent of a dead child, or a (temporarily) disappointed would-be parent?

This comment drew considerable ire from one commenter who inferred immediately that I must not know what I'm talking about, or I could never say anything so heartless. Obviously I'd never been through a miscarriage myself. Obviously I wasn't a parent. Well.... as it happens, I have a fifteen year old son whom I love dearly, and my wife and I have been through somewhere between 4 and 6 miscarriages after he was born. (It's hard to know the exact number, because in at least one instance it was never fully established that she was actually pregnant. She sure had all the symptoms, but it's uncertain if anything remotely viable was actually starting to develop in there.)

Now, we were deeply disappointed each time, because we really did want a sibling for our son and another son or daughter for ourselves. We also had started to develop hopes for and bonds with the potentiality that was starting to grow, and it was sad to lose them. But did we feel like parents who had lost an actual child? No, no indeed. Our first pregnancy produced a healthy son, and now that he was born, the disappointment of losing a pregnancy was utterly inconsequential compared to the absolute horror with which we thought of losing him. We are the proud parents of a wonderful son; we are not at all the grieving parents of 4-6 dead children and one survivor.

My point here is not the commenter on that thread was wrong to think of a fetus as a person. I don't think she is wrong to think that way, or at least, not very  wrong; on a personal level I think it's quite desirable for individuals to bond with their unborn children that way because it is a part of good parenting. But I think she was wrong to think everyone must think that way, and to assume that her experience of pregnancy and miscarriage was privileged over any other experience that doesn't mesh with it. We are not wrong to be merely disappointed by miscarriage, either. The error she made, and the error I'm musing about in this post, is in thinking that her experience was the experience. Just as my kindergarten classmate mistook his house for the house we were all supposed to draw.

The other example that's been weighing on my mind lately is that of a frequent anonymous commenter to this very blog. He or she regularly exhorts me to accept a particular religious view, assuring me that if I just ask God to reveal Himself to me, I'll come to know Him and cease with all these silly doubts and philosophizing. Now, I don't doubt that I'll feel that way if I just swallow the blue pill (or is it the red one), that I'll be thoroughly and comfortably convinced of my place in the universe and my relation to the divine. But I can't get past the concern that feeling that way won't make it true.

Now, looking at it from the perspective of the commenter, I can certainly see his or her subjective position. I know that believing one has a personal knowledge of the divine feels exactly like knowing, and more, it feels like a private kind of knowing that no one else can truly understand if they don't feel it too. I understand how privileged that sense of knowledge can feel. I feel it too, but I recognize that it really only applies to things that I, by definition, must know, such as how I feel, how I perceive something, how sincerely I am open to God's revealing Himself to me. I know these things better than anyone else can, but I recognize that my subjective privilege doesn't go beyond the borders of my skull. It's not for me to know, better than you do, how you relate to God, whether or not you love your children, what your house looks like.

What I want to assert to my commenter here is that it's not for you to know, better than I do, how I relate to God, how much I love my son, or whether or not I'm drawing an accurate picture of my own house. It's not supposed to be your house.


  1. Thank you. I think there would be a lot more tolerance in the world if we could all realize that empathy, or compassion, does not require perfect agreement.

  2. What? You mean the entirety of human experience isn't universal! You non-universalist fiend!

    As always, a good article. I've really noticed this with best practices recently. I'm right handed, so a right handed tool is ideal - but recommending that same tool to somebody left handed is not only incorrect but can be quite dangerous. That's kind of obvious, and yet people insist their subordinates do things the way that works best for them without any regard for differences in physiology and experience. In most cases, this just costs productivity, but on occasion it costs lives.

  3. Tom, You seem to take seriously a "Matrix" world-and-life view, but it makes you look less intelligent than you are. Jonathan Edwards is recognized as the greatest mind Ameica has produced. He was a serious Bible-believer and a born-again Christian. He describes many aspects of true spiritual life, often juxtaposed with the spurious. It is compelling reading that ought to be treated with respect. I have presented nothing to you that has not been better presented by Edwards. When you treat it with such disdain it says nothng about Christ, but a great deal about you. You are going to need to repent, but if you come to Crist you will find in Him what you have been looking for in the wrong place. Love, Anonymous

  4. Right there, Anonymous, you show exactly what I mean. You substitute your own subjective view (which perhaps seems more objective because you surround yourself with others who think the same way) for objective reality, and then criticize my view as wrong not for any specific flaws distinct to my view, but simply because it is not the same as your view. You say that Jonathan Edwards "is recognized" as if that makes it significant, but by whom? Who recognizes Edwards as "the greatest mind America has produced"? Not to disparage Edwards, because what little I've read suggests he had some very useful insights into the problem of free will, but who says he's the greatest? And what would it mean, even if he were?

    I've said before, I don't care how intelligent I appear. I don't care if I seem to you a disappointment compared to the likes of Jonathan Edwards. You revere Edwards, at least in part, because he agrees with you. I appear less intelligent because I do not. All of this comes down to your judgment of which of us is wise, and that is YOUR judgment. You may be a very wise person, but I really have no way of knowing that if you do not provide reasoned arguments for me to consider. All you do, however, is ignore everything I have to say (except perhaps to seize upon some keyword for rhetorical tie-in, like identifying the Matrix allusion) and just continue to assert that I'm wrong, I'm on the wrong path, I need Christ. HOW DO YOU KNOW? How do you know I don't have exactly the relationship with God that He wants for me?

    Your house is not my house. I may be drawing my house poorly, but if you are going to criticize my drawing, criticize it on its own flaws, not on the basis that it doesn't resemble your house.

  5. Tom, Wikipedia summarizes the wide perspective that Jonathan Edwards was one of Americas's greatest intellectuals. Nevertheless, he was a born-again Christian who accepted the Bible as the authoritative word of God. He had experienced the same relationship with the living God that I am challengng you to seek. It is not fantasy or delusion. We are not all in our own world. We have entered the relationship with the living God that God designed for man to have. It cannot be discovered with the intellectual method you insist on maintaining. Turning from our sin and accepting Jesus for what He claimed Himself to be is the only way. He said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me." You are amazingly determined that you will find your own way, but it cannot be.

  6. The "Anonymous" commentator who presents the unexamined Christian perspective has reached a point of self-absorption that is starting to look pathological. Even after you explicitly but politely point out the flaws in his or her approach, he or she persists in making arguments that are mere statements of belief or appeals to an authority selected only for his agreement with the arguments in question. Why should we accept the word of "one of America's greatest intellectuals" over one of America's other great intellectuals? Why should we privilege them over one of China's great intellectuals, or India's great intellectuals, or the great intellectuals of the Moslem world?

  7. The chief flaw in the approach is that it is not an APPROACH. He or she does not approach me, but rather stands way over there shouting "Come here! The view is much better than it is over there!" Which MIGHT be true, but I have no reason to take it seriously if they don't know what it looks like from here.

  8. Wow. While I've been occupied with other things for the past several months, "Anonymous" has gone beyond pathological.

    And I'm a Christian myself, but how anyone can let this person walk around on the streets is unimaginable.

    Among the other things the Bible teaches, is that no one can come to Jesus "unless the Father beckons."

    In lesser known letters there are also passages in Scripture that instruct not for Christians to even bother trying to convert using these kinds of machinations, but to approach with others with "gentleness and respect" and to to place more stock in converting by example than by preaching.

    I just started to catch up today, and didn't read all the commentary, but, one of the first and most major things that "Anonymous" is bound to fail by is that REPRESENTED BY HIS/HER BEHAVIOR

    "Anonymous" himself or herself DOES NOT QUALIFY as a Christian.

  9. I wanted to add to the comment, but was too far along and couldn't.

    Another command is "judge not lest ye be judged," and "Anonymous" has NO place dictating Tom's repentance or the lack thereof.

    From where I sit, "Anonymous" has a lot more need of repentance his or herself.

    S(he) she will get to answer for his/her idolatry in due course.

    Because making his/herself "the" authority is precisely that, and it is nothing more than that.

    "Anonymous" has decided that it isn't God who is God, but "Anonymous" who has become God.

    There is a reason why not having false Gods [including and perhaps especially oneself] is the very first Commandment.

    In many interpretations of Christianity, that is a far greater need for repentance than is sincere inability to believe.

  10. Sorry, Tom, but . . . one more thing, which I'm surprised no one else has mentioned unless someone has further back than I've gotten to review since I last had occasion to look at your blog.

    I find "Anonymous"'s habit of putting himself/herself on a "first name basis" in the responses beyond disrespectful and downright condescending.

    None of the other commentators do that, and I'm surprised a regular poster hasn't made that observation before.

    As a CHRISTIAN myself, that habit alone gives me the creeps [or the willies].

    It's a revoltingly, as Nikolai said, "self-absorbed" habit to come into space [physical or cyber space] that someone else has set up AS their space and take it upon oneself to put oneself on a first-name basis like that.

    There is NO excuse for conduct of that nature, and it serves in no way whatsoever to act towards God's glory.

  11. Thank you, Krista. I do feel obliged to come to Anonymous' defense a little, though. Not because I think (s)he is right, but because I think (s)he is at least motivated by a sincere benevolence, even if it is misguided. (Also, I don't think it's at all inappropriate to call me by my first name when the title of the blog itself is "A Blog of Tom"; I think that kind of implies permission for informality.)

    It's really a very tough issue to discuss frankly, however, in part due to some of what I was talking about in the "Stupid Stigmas" post. I really do not wish to be insulting here, but it seems to me possible that Anonymous really does have difficulty with a particular kind of abstraction that some of us tend to take for granted. I mean the ability to step outside of one's own circumstances (including one's beliefs) and charitably imagine what it must look like from someone else's perspective. This is actually a pretty difficult cognitive task at the best of times.

    However, it can be even harder when it requires one to suspend deeply held beliefs, particularly when those beliefs contain a moral component. If you believe that you are morally obliged to believe X, then a profound taboo can grow against even entertaining the possibility that X might be false, which makes it virtually impossible to imagine things from a non-X-believer's perspective. Anonymous literally cannot understand my point of view, because to do so would require him/her to pretend that his/her point of view is false, and even just to pretend that for a little while is something morally, viscerally horrifying. I do not blame Anonymous for shrinking from that. It's not at all an easy thing to do, and so much less so when it seems so completely unnecessary: (s)he "knows" the truth, so what is to be gained by all the pain and terror of contemplating falsehoods?

    Anonymous is just telling it as (s)he sees it, and I think that's commendable, and everyone should feel free to do so. I suspect Anonymous may feel frustrated that I don't just open my eyes and see The Truth, and that's why I take pains to try to explain my view; if (s)he truly wants to understand why I don't agree, I'm happy to help. I admit I also feel frustrated at the apparent unwillingness even to consider what I say, but I am not writing here for the benefit of any one reader. My hope is that my posts and the discussions that follow will be as useful to some random reader Out There as they are to me.

  12. I actually considered most of your points before hand, Tom, but really, "Anonymous's" kind of "cognitive dissonance" for real believers, has accounted for everything from Cain and Abel to Crusades to Jihad [including 9/11.]

    If the cognitive disorder you mention is severe enough, perhaps s(he) will be exempted for his/her lack of authentic reason from accounting for idolatry. BUT, this should be dealt with in an appropriate manner.

    If the cognitive disorder you mention is LESS severe: well, it's still a cause for sin and repentance on "Anonymous's" part and precisely because s(he) claims to BE God, s(he) will repent for at the Pearly Gates if not before and find . . . to astonishment . . . that YOU will precede him/her into Heaven.

    "There are those who say to me, Lord, Lord, and I will say to them 'I never knew you.'"

    To keep this brief and in the spirit of your blog, let me say to "Anonymous," that "genuine" Christians [and there are Scripture passages that would include Christ himself in that assessment] do NOT desire "Anonymous" to represent US in terms of what we believe.

  13. I don't know if I'd call it a cognitive disorder exactly, because it's so widespread as to almost constitute "normal". Most of us have some trouble suspending our assumptions to see things from a different perspective. But combine it with a particularly dogmatic belief and it becomes pathological. A sort of memetic autoimmune condition.

    You are right that this is a bad thing, and that it underlies the violence of fanatics. I agree that it's something everyone should strive to avoid in their own thinking. I suppose we only disagree on the precise language we use to describe it, as well as our beliefs about the eternal consequences. I don't believe in an afterlife, but I think the punishment of just being so mistaken is plenty awful enough.

  14. Thanks, Tom. Okay, so now I've called you by your first name, too. The difference in tone between others of us and "Anonymous" is that the rest of us "end" our statements with the name.

    "Anonymous" starts his/hers, in a school-marmy tone. [I've read back further catching up and seen more comments over the past several days. Finally made it back to the last post I had seen
    before I became occupied elsewhere.]

    And I'm going to prevail on you with a very lengthy comment, perhaps two or three screenloads, because I feel it needs to be said. As the commentary will explain, in effect I feel that within the worldwide Church the gauntlet has been thrown, and needs appropriate response. Besides the hope I will express towards the end, it is also my hope that my commentary will give people the kind of "food for thought" foundation which is the purpose of your blog.

    As I re-read through the earlier comments in this thread, something I probably meant to mention in earlier comments and that slipped my mind involves a proverbial [and I don't mean than
    necessarily in the Scriptural Proverbs sense] wisdom.

    Which is: we tend, by nature, to be most bothered and likely to criticize as faults that in others which we do not like about ourselves.

    I see a great deal of that in "Anonymous's" responses.

    For example: "You are amazingly determined that you will find your own way,"

    Despite his/her belief in his/her image of what Christianity is, many Christians [including myself] would say that his/her interpretation doesn't qualify. Thus, "Anonymous's" perspective
    CANNOT be anything other than self-delusion and "finding his/her own way." Following the above-quoted statement, "Anonymous" says "It cannot be."

    Well, it ALSO cannot be that "Anonymous" claims a relationship with the living Jesus and behaves in this way, because Jesus would NOT behave in this way nor lead a follower to do so. The
    Scriptures are quite clear evidence of that fact.

    So, "it cannot be" applies in multiples to "Anonymous's" position.

    And, "amazingly" as determined by 'who else' besides "Anonymous"? Who, as stated before, has NOT in fact accepted Jesus, no matter how much s(he) believes s(he) has. Because IF s(he) did truly
    know Jesus in the way s(he) claims, s(he) would not be committing the idolatry of making his/herself into God. And to judge another in the way "Anonymous" judges you, Tom, is indeed
    making oneself INTO God. It presumes to know the mind of God. The Scriptures enjoin against that going back at least as far as the book of Job.

    There is no place for that in genuine Christianity.

    I notice "Anonymous" has fallen silent since I entered the discussion.

    "Anonymous" does not have the courage of his/her convictions to do his/her own repenting for his/her own sins -- which, given "Anonymous's" behavior, I, as a member of the worldwide
    Christian community have a Biblically ordained right to call for -- several passages refer to the right of the members of the Church to both encourage and to "correct" brethren. Indeed, per
    those same Scriptures, one might interpret it that I have not only the right but indeed the DUTY to call upon "Anonymous" to examination of conscience and public confession and repentance of
    his/her sin of idolatry. It can be said based upon those Scriptural references, that having run across "Anonymous's" commentaries, I, as a member of the worldwide Christian community indeed do not have, as it were, "the right to remain silent."

    Au contraire: I have the duty to correct a brother/sister in the Faith in his/her errancy.

    Several passages exhort us to use ALL the gifts [including intellect] that God has given us.

  15. "Anonymous" defies a very command of Jesus Himself in attempting to order you not to use your

    intellect. The parable of the talents speaks to this very matter, in quite the opposite way of

    what "Anonymous" claims Christian belief to be. Therefore, whom s(he) "knows as a person" CANNOT

    be Jesus; and is likely Satan masquerading as Jesus. Hamlet has it "the devil hath power to

    assume a pleasing form . . . "

    Indeed, Jesus rejoiced in shows of intellect, especially in women, the outcasts of the time. We

    see this in the humor and good will displayed both in the banter with the Samaritan woman at the

    well and that with the woman who observed "even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the

    master's table."

    Since, if one believes the Trinitarian God, incorporating Jesus, created all things, one also

    believes Jesus had a hand in creating intellect, how can it be possible to perceive that He would

    not delight in the application of it? And Faith is a gift that He can choose to give or

    withhold. If a particular individual's life purpose is best served by withholding it, it is

    perfectly conceivable that God would do so. It is not for "Anonymous" [or any other what we used

    to call "Bible thumpers"] to decide God's best purpose in dispensing or withholding Faith from

    any particular person.

    "Anonymous" brings shame, not glory, upon the worldwide Christian community and upon Jesus

    Himself by his/her actions; and commits public idolatry by making his/herself enough an equal to

    God to know the mind of God.

    Despite the dogmatism, Tom, I see "Anonymous's" so-called faith as exceedingly weak. Strong

    faith withstands challenges: something of which "Anonymous" is clearly incapable. And, I have

    to use the term "so-called," in order not to be contradictory with other statements I have made

    that "Anonymous" cannot possibly have the relationship with Jesus as a person that s(he) claims,

    because it is not possible that someone who truly did would behave in this way: Jesus would

    neither do so nor lead a true follower to do so. The Scriptures clearly evidence that fact.

    Once again, that is clear and cogent public idolatry -- and the correct Christian response for

    "Anonymous" is public repentance, also.

    But "Anonymous," as reflected by the very fact that s(he) chooses to exhort dogmatic statements

    anonymously, is a coward in some ways.

    If I'm going to go on record on my views about the interpretations that should form the basis of

    belief about Christian principles, I'm going to make sure my name is on those statements, not

    snipe from shadows.


  16. And I think I've made very clear my view that I regard "Anonymous" not as a Christian at all, but as a narcisisst who in no way, shape or form worships Jesus [although s(he) believes he does;] but who worships his/herself in his/her mistaken image of Jesus.

    It has been said that while God made man in His own image, it is also true that the converse may
    become true: man makes God in man's own image, that is to say, perverts the true meaning of what God in Scripture has revealed Himself to be, and worships a self-image.

    It is a patently evident fact that this is what "Anonymous" has done and continues to do. I've

    said it I believe numerous times at this point and I will say it again: that is a sin of

    idolatry and a rejection of Christian faith, not a reflection of it.

    "Anonymous" clearly cannot take a dose of his/her own medicine, and as such, should not claim publicly to represent Christ or the Church.

    Especially, well, anonymously. Being a Christian calls for being willing to be known, as you said in one response, Tom, "in context," that is, traceable. By name.

    One of the reasons I'm being so stubborn in my responses, Tom, is: "Anonymous" has made this a
    very uncomfortable environment FOR AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANS, even more so than for atheists. I am sure you have readers who are who turn away from the blog because of "Anonymous's" behavior,
    which to people who really DO have a relationship with Jesus is frankly quite embarrassing.

    Nikolai refers to "Anonymous's" 'unexamined' perspective of Christianity. To help make this a more comfortable environment for more authentic believers, I'm standing up to be counted as a Christian who has a more examined/balanced view of the matter.

    Anonymous's behavior, to an authentic believer, is on a par with, as relates to another of your
    entries, public nudity.

  17. The other reason, for which I beg your forgiveness, Tom, is a time pressure on me. I am in a forced relocation situation in the next few weeks or so: one that potentially may result in no access to the Internet or a computer at least for awhile. Thus it is that "prudence" in this case means "expediency." In other circumstances, I might wait awhile and mull it over, and see

    if I thought better of it. In the current circumstances, the luxury of time to do that may not exist. Because of this, I have to lay my convictions on the line at this time.

    A priest in my childhood parish once indicated that "Patience is a virtue, fortitude is a virtue; prudence tells you when to use which." In this case, prudence calls for fortitude in my view; due to a confluence of circumstances.

    I am not saying, Tom, that "Anonymous" should be denied free speech. But one of the things that
    bothers me about "Anonymous's" comments is that "Anonymous" seems to have presumed to speak for
    the worldwide Christian community because s(he) assumes that his/her interpretation is THE

    And I respond in the way that Scripture calls for: that is an affront to those who truly do know Jesus, who Scripture clearly shows would NOT condone such a response or interpretation.

    Under "Anonymous's" own rules [Scripture], I have both a right and an obligation to confront the matter WITHIN a Christian context. While "Anonymous" has a right to free speech, "rights," as you well know with your legal background, Tom, come with obligations and duties. Within the Christian context, the right of free speech ABOUT Christian faith comes with the obligation and duty to stand corrected by brethren in errancy. And "Anonymous" must submit to that duty. To do otherwise is to ally oneself with the hypocritical Pharisees whom Jesus despised above all others on Earth. [Which I happen to believe "Anonymous" already has done, but that's another issue entirely.]

    It is my hope that my going on record that there is another perspective WITHIN a Christian
    context will make this a more comfortable Blog for other Christians to peruse.

    Tom, I beg your forgiveness for such a lengthy post to respond to, but I felt it necessary: all things considered, some of those considerations my personal circumstances which have nothing to do with you.

  18. I agree with most of what you say, except of course for the bits that are explicitly tied to your Christian doctrine. I certainly hope this blog doesn't come across as unwelcoming of Christian readers and commenters, but rather a place where all ideas will be given a fair hearing to stand or fall on their own merits.

    It is for that reason that I may seem to be defending Anonymous, although it's obvious I disagree more with him/her than I do with you. In particular, because I want debate here to focus on ideas rather than personalities, I insist on allowing people to post anonymously. There is a certain irony in this, of course, because while I'm arguing about abstract impersonal ideas here under my own name, Anonymous is anonymously urging me to seek a personal relationship with God and asking me to trust him/her personally that's the right way to go.

    But the point still stands. I argue here about Christian theology without claiming to be a Christian, and expect that people will consider my arguments on their own merits without reference to whether or not I've been baptized or ordained or otherwise qualified; if my ideas make sense then they make sense no matter who happens to speak them, and if they don't they can be dismissed on that basis even if I'm the Pope (or some other putative authority). Likewise, it does not matter if Anonymous wants to be anonymous, even though we might think a good Christian should be willing to put his/her name on the line. The question is not whether or not Anonymous is a good Christian, but whether or not what he/she's saying actually makes sense and is worth considering. To date, I've been unconvinced, but I'm unconvinced by the IDEAS, not by any personal lack of virtue of the messenger.

    (Incidentally, I should mention that Anonymous' reasons for being anonymous may be as much technical as personal. The "Comment as:" menu under this box gives several options, some of which may be confusing, and I know I'm wary of posting comments with my name on some sites for fear of being added to some obnoxious mailing list. But whatever the reasons for anonymity, I will respect them. I WOULD, however, be grateful if people could at least adopt a handle for these threads, because sometimes it's useful to be able to identify which positions need to be consistent over multiple comments of dialogue.)

  19. KristaWriter: I think we should be careful about telling people they do not belong to a category they self identify as belonging to. Often when we do so, we end up arguing about definitions rather than concepts, and the important ideas get obscured.

    You and Anonymous Unexamined Christian obviously share a common belief in the truth of at least some key metaphysical premises. You both use the word "Christian" to describe your belief system, and you both have formed a part of your self-identity around using that word to describe yourself. Telling A.U.C. that (s)he is not an "authentic" Christian is probably no more productive than telling a trans-gendered woman that she is "really a man" because she has a penis. It simply misses the point. The two of you are using the words to represent two different concepts. So find some common vocabulary and move on.

    And speaking of gender identity, call me old fashioned, but I would really appreciate it if A.U.C. were to adopt a handle that implies a linguistic gender. It doesn't have to correspond to his/her actual gender identity. I just makes writing about him/her less awkward when we don't have to use portmanteau pronouns like "(s)he" and "h-im/er."

    If (s)he can't think of such a handle, then I suggest either ChristBoy, or Saving-My-Vagina-For-Jesus.


  20. (Technically, English has three linguistic genders, not two, so I also suggest SalvationRobot.)

  21. Nikolai and Tom:

    Actually, I am very slow to make such a stand. All the more reason I felt it appropriate here. And, as stated in my comments, the Bible itself calls for 'brethren' to correct those in error.

    I felt that guidance called me to fortitude on this occasion, and calling "Anonymous" out.

    Those of his/her particular stripe of Christianity are far more likely to do so.

    The New Testament came about BECAUSE of the influence of Christianity, not the other way around. It came about out of what were united at that time, but in the fifth century split into the first Christian schism of the Roman church and what eventually became the seven patriarchies of Orthodoxy. Churches that for 20 centuries have remained remarkably united in doctrine given their separations from each other. For the most part, the only difference today are Marian doctrines and two words in the Nicene Creed as to their beliefs.

    Yet, people who "present" as "Anonymous" does generally tend to deny the Christianity of the Roman church [and presumably if they knew practices, the Orthodox churches as well, who also practice Eucharist as Transubstantiation and Real Presence. Which "Bible based" believers and also "personal relationship with believers" forms of believers regard as completely incompatible. That's is not only wrong, but non-Scriptural. Scripture teaches the command of Jesus to celebrate in such a way.

    I have been told by such practitioners that I practice a demonic religion. I have been told many lies about the source of the Bible by these individuals.]

    I have never been able to figure out how it is possible for people who claim belief in the Bible to attack, in this particular way, the Roman Catholic church: the very Bible, in New Testament form on which they rely, would never have existed but for being codified by what eventually became the Roman church.

    So they disgard the source, and worship the Bible it created. And, again, as idolatry: they do not worship the GOD of the Bible, they worship the Bible itself.

    A Bible that IF the Roman church and the Orthodox church, who take literally Jesus command about the Body and the Blood had never existed, then nor would the New Testament which they worship over and above all: including that they worship the Bible itself first and foremost and above Jesus himself.

    But this very Bible would never exist, were it not for those very churches they disdain as demonic. They get around it by lies about the origin. They quote historians who never existed, and quote literature that is fictional, to justify their perspectives.

    What I saw in Anonymous is someone who is of the "personal relationship" stripe, but just might learn a lesson or two if challenged by another individual of faith. Which most of them are incapable of doing.

    So, I stepped up and followed the very teachings by which Anonymous claims to live.

    It is a challenge that bears putting out there.

    Judgment isn't something I tend to rush to, but the Bible itself [as I said in the prior posts] calls for it in certain cases. To me, this is clearly one of them, because I do feel "Anonymous-Unexplained" makes this a very uncomfortable place for people of a more traditional Christianity.

    [And I have friends in other traditional Christianities, such as Methodist, as well. One of the thing that throws my faith groups off balance is that I have so much knowledge about other variations of doctrines.]

    So, Nikolai, I am indeed "careful." But "careful" doesn't necessarily mean remaining silent, or not calling a Christian brother/sister to account [something, by the way, I very, very rarely do. I can think of a few cases of carelessness in my birth family, but quite honestly can't think of a single other occasion in my life [and I just turned 59]] that I have done so within the Christian community. That should give some perspective to the fact I have done so now.