The Nutty Professor

Seeing as how the religious debate was descending into something of a debacle over at shit-stirrer Indy's, I've dragged part of a comment I made over there to my blog to air it in front of a less hostile (and no doubt much larger) crowd.

I was at a dinner party recently where a very religious (American Christian) guy was another dining guest (friend of a friend). Now he was a marketing guy, but he had in the past studied for a degree in divinity from some prestigious(sic) university in USA and yes, he had studied "the historical Jesus" including Crossan's views and all the other guys I mentioned variously around - see my Anobii books tagged for Religion. He believed that the Bible was in essence correct VERBATIM.

I didn't get stuck into him about this as a) he would have invariably won because he could keep his cool whereas I know I wouldn't and would end up throwing him off the balcony in a most un-open-minded way and b) there is no b). Ah yes, b) I was at someone else's place for dinner and it wouldn't be polite.

We chatted instead about writing, about Dan Brown's execrable book and how his plot-driven, cliche-ridden thriller style hardly counts as serious writing. What started the conversation was how I particularly despised The DaVinci Code because I felt it trivialized the whole "Jesus was a human not the Son of God" debate. We also talked about St Paul and I wondered why if Christianity was meant to be the true path of the Judeo-Christian historical steam-roller, he had never been prophesied in the Old Testament, being so crucial, being the lynch-pin, to the one of original branches of Christianity surviving and developing into the dominant Roman Church (Catholicism, Protestantism, Lutheranism, etc...), beyond Eastern Orthodoxy and the Coptics, while the actual "I knew Jesus" Jerusalem Church was wiped out in 72 AD in the Jewish Wars as documented by Josephus.

We let it pass uncomfortably for a second, aggreed to disagree, chinked wine glasses and moved back to writing style.

His wife, it seems, is also a published author (everywhere I look someone has written a book these days!) and she writes a lot of baseball stories, character driven ones, if that is not a contradiction. So we DID agree passionately about what constitutes good writing, good style, good reading. We are both book snobs it seems.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He told us as we sat down to the meal that he had an allergy to nuts. All types of nuts. We all discussed his symptoms (severe anaphylactic shock it seems - histamine blastosis! puffiness, pulmonary odema, tracheostomy, bring it on!) and agreed that it was a pain in the arse to have an allergy to such a delicious staple food item.

The amah had prepared a Thai-style prawn dish, stir fired, that was sprinkled with caramelised fried garlic and onions crustings on top. Not nuts. We checked. He still thought they looked like nuts and was reluctant to eat the dish. The amah came out and confirmed that she had put no nuts whatsoever in the dish, in any of the dishes. I told him that I couldn't find any nuts or taste any nuts in the dish. The hostess said she had asked for no nuts to be used in cooking for any of the dishes, including peanut oil.

The onion and garlic crusting might LOOK a bit like nuts, but they were definitely not nuts.

Yet he was of the opinion, despite all evidence and first hand testimony, that there *were* nuts in the dish. So he pushed it aside and refused to eat that part of the meal.

Basically, he said we were all liers. Afterwards I found this offensive, and I am sure the hostess did as well, though we were too polite to comment at the time. We just decided to let him have it his way for the sake of a quiet life. If he chose to beleive that there were nuts and that we were all mendacious sinners, let him live on in his delusion, it doesn't affect us. Let him go back to his Bible-belt home and tell how he was rescued from an Asian den of iniquity where a bunch of rampant atheists tried to poison him with oily indehiscent kernels...

And get this: he believes in creationism. Something that he has only read about happening in a book, written 3000 years ago. Stories that were used to explain things to unsophisticated thinkers all those years ago, and which now all the scientific evidence and the rational and experiential opinion of most educated people (i.e. those who agree with me) would confirm is absolute rubbish...

This he believes in.

But that there were no nuts in the prawn dish, despite having the dish in front of him to look at closely, the cook saying there are NO nuts, everyone tasting it saying there are NO nuts...

This he does not believe in!

Let me tell you about nuts! This ill-mannered man is FUCKING NUTS!

E@L

MORE...


Posted by: expat@large on Oct 23, 06 | 1:23 pm | Profile


OTHER MONKEYS SAID



Dawkins: Lunging, flailing, mispunching
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/eagl01_.html


Posted by: paul on Oct 23, 06 | 2:07 pm

Terry Eagleton: spouting meaningless platitudes, sermonising, raving like a looney in a cave or a priest in a pulpit on a Joycean retreat.

That's what I get from the same link.

"He is what sustains all things in being by his love; and this would still be the case even if the universe had no beginning."

"Because the universe is God’s, it shares in his life, which is the life of freedom. "

"Like the unconscious, he is closer to us than we are to ourselves. He is the source of our self-determination, not the erasure of it. To be dependent on him, as to be dependent on our friends, is a matter of freedom and fulfilment." Also to be dependent upon alcohol. Or opiates.

etc...

choke gag vomit

Isn't this the opiatic predigested "stop whingeing and forget all your objections by joining the mob and singing along with Jesus" type of abnegation of moral/ethical responsibility, isn't it the bullshit I had stuffed down my throat for nearly half my life, and I just can't see its relevance.

E@L


Posted by: expat@large on Oct 23, 06 | 8:19 pm

St Paul doesn't feature in prophecy because the prophets were one note crooners, their minds filled with the Incarnation, the coming of the Messiah. He gets the only billing as the summit of all Creation (or Evolution if you prefer). St Paul is important to the creation, organistaion and doctrine of the Church. This was not something the prophets were concerned with,


Posted by: paul on Oct 23, 06 | 10:23 pm

How about these cookies? St Paul doesn't figure in the OT because Jesus was not the messiah at all. Because there was no messiah. Because there is no god.

Or are we saying that god made a mistake and changed his mind about the chosen people at the last minute? And then again for the muslims?

Religion 1: We are the chosen people!

Religion 2: You WERE the chosen people, but God UNchose you, and now WE are the chosen people, because someone who never met our prophet said that our prophet is actually not just a prophet but a/the God.

Religion 3: You're both wrong! WE are the chosen people because OUR prophet is better than YOUR prophet, even though he doesn't claim to be a/the God!

Religion 4, 5, 6, 7 etc: Hey what about OUR Gods, why don't you guys ever take OUR Gods seriously? According to us, OUR gods made the universe too and WE are the chosen people.

~~~~~~~~~

Sigh. The accident of birth (into the brainwashing of childhood) determines which god is right.

Back to Christianity... Because without Paul, the message about Jesus being the messiah should never have got out. God, being omnipotent would have had this anticipated through the mumblings of some bearded old sage...

Question: how long after Saul's Road to Damascus epiphany did St Paul get around to going out and doing something (anything) about it?

It's all so far-fetched, random and experientially unnecessary. IMHO.


Posted by: expat@large on Oct 23, 06 | 10:40 pm

"Dawkins considers that all faith is blind faith, and that Christian and Muslim children are brought up to believe unquestioningly. Not even the dim-witted clerics who knocked me about at grammar school thought that. For mainstream Christianity, reason, argument and honest doubt have always played an integral role in belief."

Reading the article, this is the quote that jumped out at me, since it seems to me that many of Dawkins proponents seem to do this...create a narrow pigeon-hole to stereo-type and classify there opposition and then tar them with a brush that is as unrational as the arguement they are trying to defeat.

Even you my learned friend I hope can see that to assume those with faith is that of blind-faith is a conclusion that is by its very generalising...irrational.


Posted by: Indiana on Oct 23, 06 | 11:46 pm

histamine blastosis. See there is a God!

Anyone want to come to my place on Sun for wine food and a viewing of Saint Jack?

I have a balcony.


Posted by: Milos Sadik on Oct 24, 06 | 3:22 pm

Milos, that sounds like a plan...I just brought it too, and if I know we are all going to watch it, I will refrain from the viewing.


Posted by: Indiana on Oct 24, 06 | 10:07 pm

Expat, It is a scary, scary world ...

..so many believe completely the verbiage they were fed as kids (and are still being fed!) Logical thought will forever escape them.

...And that Dan Brown books actually sell..??

Alas ... is there any hope for the human race?


Posted by: markeast on Oct 25, 06 | 1:03 am

I can't believe yawl went through all that trouble to avoid nuts and nut derivatives in the cooking, and he still wouldn't eat it. I'm sure the food would've tasted better with ground peanuts in it too. Plick.

I'm seriously SICK TO DEATH of having to deal with other people's dietary restrictions. In my previous employment, we had a vegan in the team. In current employment, we have a very strict Muslim so when we have an office do, not only must the kitchen be certified halal, but also the restaurant. All we need now is someone who is allergic to halal food, to complete the circle.


Posted by: Hairydonut2 on Oct 25, 06 | 11:42 am

Milos: plan sound good

Indiana: OK an analogy. A fundamentalist believes ALL the universe, stars planets and moons are made of green cheese. A moderate believes only that the moon or some other arbitrary celestial object is made is made of green cheese while his honest doubt, reason and argument have made him realise that the rest of this unverse is as contemporary astro-physics does its best to explain.

Is it possible to really seperate the two in a cynic's eyes?

I KNOW that the all those centuries of reasoning and logical have been used to create difficult arguments which refute the objective nature of reasoning. Thomas Aquinas, St Ambrose, St Augustine, St Jerome... all used their rhetorical skills and reasoning for the purpose of countering the arguments of moderates and heretics, not to mention agnostics and atheists. Not to find holes in their OWN beliefs, but to plug them.

All of their arguments whoever are based on the premise that God exists... They cannot find a way to create a belief religion through argument/dialectic from a non-religious starting point because they canot NOT take it as axiomatic.

Mind you, I believe my football team will one day win the flag! I just hope I am alive to see it.

Mark: if was tempted to offer Dan Browns books as a burnt offering to the muses...

HD@: maybe there should be a special planet (made of green cheese) for people who are allergic to non-halal green cheese.

E@L: answer to your question about St Paul. About 17 years between the conversion on the road to Damascus and him doing anything about it.


Posted by: expat@large on Oct 25, 06 | 1:44 pm

And yet again your analogy does little to show that people of faith may indeed be making a conscious choice and not one that is "blind". Whether you think someone's choice to believe is irrational or not, if they have made their own choice, based on their own conclusions no matter how "ignorant" you find those reasons, even if based on something as intangible as faith does not make them "blind"...all it means is that they have made a choice to believe in something you have not...

But then you are not really on the side of creationist thought are you? Like Dawkins you believe religion should be erradicated? Or as the New Atheists would have it, all supernatural beliefs?

But I have to wonder, once people are allowed no god, no dragons, no fairy tales or stories of ghosts or little green men, will the NA then target dreams, or hopes, or wishes as also the irrational supernatural yearnings that defy logic and unlike scientific enquiry are of no real use to us?

And while I agree with evolution and do indeed find much of organised religion, epsecially the doctrinal interpretations of many churches to be based on the most common denominator of most human actions (greed) I do wonder, why did ancient peoples worship the sun? Why were dieties created in all cultures as far back as we can find? Was it to simply explain the unexplainable? Or is that an illogical step...why or maybe where did the need for such an irrational explanation come from? Is it the product of simple and un-educated minds or is it something else?

(And I ask this last not to cling to a losing arguement, but in real wondering...was diefication the result of a mind that didn't know better to explain something it couldn't? Or was it born from something else?)


Posted by: Indiana on Oct 26, 06 | 10:34 am

And I liked "The Da'vinci Code" it made an excellent holiday novel...in fact I think my copy still has sand between the pages where I dropped it everytime I decided to take a break from the fictional story and enjoy the perve of the passing bikini clad beauties. ~grin~

Do you remember a time when people read for enjoyment, and not to be enlightened or to be brain whased by the views of another, do you remember when words on the page was all about fun and not reason and explanation...what happened to that time?

But then what would I know I read Cussler? ~grin~


Posted by: Indiana on Oct 26, 06 | 10:38 am

Indy: I was physically ILL reading DaVC. It malrotated my intestines, thrombosed my mesentery and intussescepted my pylorus.

Some of the worst prose ever committed to paper by a multi-millionaire: "He was beginning to think it was going to be a long night" is my candidate for most cliched expression ever used in a best-selling airport pot-boiler...

I ALWAYS read for enjoyment and I usually only read book that I enjoy. But the better they written, as in prose style and character development and deep insight into human nature, the more I enjoy them. People who can't compose a proper English sentence at that level of public English composition display should be mending fences or being lawyers or plumbing the depths of sewers.

People who CHOOSE to write obscurely or artisitcally or poetically are in a different universe to those who CAN'T write at all.

Ah Indy we agree on so many things... Just can't think of any of them right now. OK here's one: a certain girl is a real babe.


Posted by: expat@large on Oct 26, 06 | 1:37 pm

That she is...I could suggest that you should see her in a g-string but I wouldn't want to send your already "dicky-ticker" into an elevated and irregular state.

I have only taken your philosophy to heart: It's not real writing unless you offend someone ~grin~

So if you are in town, up for a beer and some fang tomorrow night?


Posted by: Indiana on Oct 26, 06 | 3:07 pm

Flight delayed, stuck in BKK for an extra few hours.


Posted by: expat@large on Oct 27, 06 | 5:22 pm

"Ah Indy we agree on so many things… Just can’t think of any of them right now."

That really moved me Phil. (probably not Indy though). My father often used that phrase "I think you have many good points (or similar)... Just can't think of any of them right now."

I have so often used that term myself, before I discovered he used it, which I only found out after reading his past letters to Mum, who finally gave me permission. Heredity is an amazing thing.

Mariah


Posted by: Sister on Oct 31, 06 | 6:04 pm

No offence meant to anyone here - but American fundamentalist Christian religions are based on the Protestant side. They are 'breakaways' - good, well-meaning people no doubt, nonetheless.

Alternatively, the Catholic (Universal) Christian faith/religion holds to the ancient traditions and can be traced back directly to early historical Christianity - to Christ Himself.


Posted by: Sister on Oct 31, 06 | 6:34 pm


THIS MONKEY SAYS




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