"What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism." - G.K. Chesterton

Friday, January 25, 2008

Some divisions are more important than others

I don't know if you get Terry Pratchett's 'Discworld' over in the US. It's a series of satirical fantasy novels (set on a flat disc of a world, travelling through space on the back of giant turtle) for those of you who don't know.

This quote is from one of the more recent ones, 'Monstrous Regime':

"The enemy wasn't men, or women, or the old, or even the dead. It was just bleedin' stupid people, who came in all varieties."

It's this sentiment that comes to mind when reading stuff like this:

These are the same people who picket the funerals of those they disagree with – shouting insults at the friends and families of the deceased.

There's a line, running through all beliefs, between those who have compassion and respect for others and those who don't.

The fights I believe to be the most important aren't about religion, or atheism, or anything like that... it's about taking a stand against stupidity, bigotry and hatred – wherever and in whoever we find them.

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Blogger Liz said...

It makes me sad that they can call themselves a baptist church. Surely there is some sort of baptist movement that could throw them out?

These sort of people must make God cry, for Jesus had respect and compassion for everyone - but said that some of those who claimed to be acting for God wouldn't find a place in heaven.

10:35 AM

Blogger Rev. Dr. Incitatus said...

Nobody pays any mind to the nuts, in fairness. The Scientologists can claim to be more mainstream than Fred Phelps and his merry crew. Hell, those kooks can't be that far from the Kool-Aid stage of their wild little fantasy, IMHO.

And they are not recognised by anybody, let alone any of the conventional baptist churches.

11:52 AM

Blogger Matt M said...

Nobody pays any mind to the nuts, in fairness.

Except, of course, the people at the funeral, who really have little choice in the matter.

I'm sure that most people see groups such as these for what they are - bigots who use a particular ideology as a spring-board for their hatred. (I seriously doubt that anyone came to their "cause" through rational argument).

But there will be some who use this as a stick to beat religious people with (the mirror of the "Stalin killed people because he was an atheist" brigade).

12:40 PM

Blogger Alex said...

Hey Matt,
I echo your outrage over this hateful group, but I'm going to have to dissent from the quote: "The enemy wasn't men, or women, or the old, or even the dead. It was just bleedin' stupid people, who came in all varieties."

If we were to accept the above quote it gives us license to toss the label "enemy" onto anyone we feel is acting in a chronically stupid fashion. (The insult wielding dude over on Rhoblogy might be an easy target) What then do we do with the fact that a large percentage of the folks involved in the above stupidity are likely there because they are emotionally wounded people? People don't grow up in a healthy social situation then become involved with sick groups like that. Do they?

Because of this I prefer Ephesians 6:12
"because our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against principalities, against authorities, against the universal lords of this darkness, against spiritual power of wickedness in the heavenlies."

It is for this reason that Jesus commanded us to love those who we would consider our enemies. There is hope for them, but the only power strong enough to rescue them from their destructive path is that of love.

8:50 AM

Blogger Matt M said...


That's a really good point.

I think the quote could be modified:

"The enemy wasn't men, or women, or the old, or even the dead. It was just stupidity, which came in all varieties."

Which would bring it closer in spirit to a comment made by Colin McGinn (who featured in the Atheism Tapes) on 'Point of Inquiry' recently: That, in a liberal democracy, it's important to respect people, even if we don't respect their ideas.

10:14 AM

Blogger Rev. Dr. Incitatus said...

You know, what really undermines this screed is the choice of font. With the possible exception of Comic Sans, that font is about as inappropriate as you can get.

3:25 PM


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