Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Belief Media

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  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Sacha,

    like Parliament

    Quite.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to andin,

    He's a hypocrite

    Oh do tell....

    He complains about how theists preach loudly and make derogatory claims and statements about those who do not believe, and then very publicly breaks out the derogatory statements about theists.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    He complains about how theists preach loudly and make derogatory claims and statements about those who do not believe, and then very publicly breaks out the derogatory statements about theists.

    Is he complaining about theists or about theism? His struggle is surely ideological, not personal.

    The guy gets massive amounts of personal abuse and hate mail and also death threats. I’d be complaining about that! But I’ve never seen him lapse into angry responses, or be anything but calm and polite and continuing to speak to the issues.

    Perhaps we could follow suit: talk about the issues, not the person.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report Reply

  • Will de Cleene, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Even the most benign group in some sense defines itself by the people it excludes, that's what makes it a group.

    Hear hear. Everything has an opportunity cost. Hence the problem with the 1950's Kiwi Nirvana. It was OK if you're a straight white male who enjoys mowing the lawns on the weekend, but for anyone outside this Rugby Racing Beer mentality, it was (and is) stifling.

    If only the pokie trusts and lottery boards spent more of their great gobs of cash on health and welfare and less on sports and interior decorating.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Lilith __,

    many of the people who complain that Dawkins is offensive seem very free with their insults when describing him.

    If you think he’s wrong, fine, but is the personal abuse helpful? Would it be more constructive to say why you disagree with him, or what your own position is?

    +1 Goes right back to the two sorts of respect. Hard to tease them apart, but that's no excuse :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Emma Hart,

    how about popping along to a Promise Keepers meeting and thinking about how that communal activity hurts women?

    Sorry I wasnt thinking of that as a communal activity. Even tho religious assemblies think of their get togethers as community based I dont.
    I’ll carefully define what I mean in the future.

    And +1 to Lilith & Rob

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Will de Cleene,

    Hear hear. Everything has an opportunity cost. Hence the problem with the 1950’s Kiwi Nirvana. It was OK if you’re a straight white male who enjoys mowing the lawns on the weekend, but for anyone outside this Rugby Racing Beer mentality, it was (and is) stifling.

    There was a whole lot more wrong with the national psyche than that in the 1950s, though. We were punishingly conformist in any number of ways.

    If only the pokie trusts and lottery boards spent more of their great gobs of cash on health and welfare and less on sports and interior decorating.

    I have deep misgivings about the way community organisations have become addicted to crumbs from the gambling table, but that money specifically isn't for "health and welfare". In theory, that's what we have taxes for.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    I must say, I was a bit shocked to find out the other day that pokie money contributes two-and-a-half times as much to rugby as to the entirety of "the arts".

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Will de Cleene,

    On the other hand, it didn't hurt you or me that other people did this thing.

    Call me contrary, but I beg to differ. Oliver Stone's W. demonstrated the falseness of that security, when more time is spent on appealing to faith than evidence.

    Category error. A group of believers sending positive vibes to a Christian media operation is just not the same thing as the mass sanctification (and thus justification) of the actions of a deeply compromised executive.

    I honestly can't see how a group of people praying for a media organisation of which they generally approve harms me, if only because it has nothing whatsoever to do with me.

    OTOH, I agree very strongly with Emma about the actual and potential harm of assembling a group of men and feeding them Promise Keepers mumbo-jumbo.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to andin,

    Even tho religious assemblies think of their get togethers as community based I dont.

    I find the community basis of religious organisations and how they operate really fascinating, in a sick kind of way. It seems particularly stark in the US, with their aversion to "socialism". So the Southern Baptist church my friend Jen and her husband Jeff belong to has a really strong sense of community. It's how they do all their socialising. And also, when a member of that church is in difficulty, all the others will absolutely rally round and do all they can to help. If you're in financial trouble, they'll bring food, and clothing. They'll help mind your kids, and help out with medical care.

    The price for that is that you will conform to the community's expectations. You'll go to Promise Keepers, and learn how to behave as the head of a family. You'll go on Christian Women's Retreats, and learn how to STFU and do what you're told. You'll be straight. You'll stay married no matter what. Your daughters will virginity-pledge. And in return, you'll have a sense of community, you'll be cared for. It's the up-side that allows for the down-side.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Lilith __,

    many of the people who complain that Dawkins is offensive seem very free with their insults when describing him.

    He describes us, broadly, as unintelligent non-believers in the scientific method, to pick one strand of his dismissals of theism. Are you surprised people throw the insults out when they are first insulted?
    Seriously, listen to what Dawkins says about theists as people and imagine that he's talking about you. "Brights". Need I say more?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    That wasn't me, Matthew! I know nothing of Dawkins.....

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lilith __,

    Perhaps we could follow suit: talk about the issues, not the person.

    You know something, Lilith, and someone who is living with a real mental illness which has fuck-all-nothing to do with my religious faith, I’d just like courtesy repaid by Dawkins. Seriously. Perhaps the conversation about using the rhetoric of mental illness to shame and exclude is for another time and place, but I’ll be damned if he’s getting a pass because he’s a fashionable media figure around these parts.

    OTOH, I agree very strongly with Emma about the actual and potential harm of assembling a group of men and feeding them Promise Keepers mumbo-jumbo.

    Sure, but the other side of that is that some of the most open-hearted and humbling people I came across when coming out were... well, in church. Plenty of douchebags, and nobody even think about trying school me about the profound institutional homophobia in the Catholic Church. You've nothing to teach on that subject.

    But to drag this a few inches back to the original post, is coverage of religion in the media affected and distorted by a more basic structural issue. If it bleeds it leads; and if it can't be summed up in a picture and a handful of soundbites, who cares? Anyone remember the shit-storm over that episode of South Park -- there were plenty of outraged soundbites from the usual rentaquotes, but a rather depressing disinclination on the part of the lamestream media to think too hard about questions like "What do we really mean when we throw around words like 'blasphemy'?", what's the cultural and social context?, is there a possibility that "Christians" have a range of views on this?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    a Promise Keepers meeting

    what do they actually do there?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    On the other hand, it didn’t hurt you or me that other people did this thing.

    Let's repeat a previous line:

    “Science is not going to change its commitment to the truth. We can only hope religion will change its commitment to nonsense.”

    It could be said of any nonsense the community (people) allege works: Homoeopathy, new age medicine, colour therapy etc etc. If these people pray, yes, it doesn't hurt me. But I can't help think that we have a moral obligation to assist in the education of these people to try and appeal to their sense of (il)logic and and persuade them they are wasting their time and resources. It goes two ways. If someone knows someone is praying for them then, again, I can't help but suggest their fellows could and should try and inform them they too are wasting their time and resources.

    Why on earth perpetuate such myths?

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Sacha,

    what do they actually do there?

    Did you see that footage of the Destiny Church ring ceremony? Very much the same sort of vibe.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ross Mason,

    your certainty about the world is less appealing than you think

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Chris, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I disagree that there aren’t some sort of ‘general’ ethics. There are multiple strands in the development of ethics and various ways of looking at it all.

    Not sure if these two statements are compatible. If ethical systems evolve as you imply with your second sentence then there cannot be a general code of ethics, only a relative one. (reflective of the structure of the society that happens to construct it)

    Not to mention the gulf between the stated aims of any given society and the outcomes that that society actually produces. (the systemic effect as opposed to the moral aspiration)

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to andin,

    Most communal activities rarely hurt others

    And then there's Rugby, are you a Unionist or are you with the League?

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    'sell your soul' sort of thing?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    But to drag this a few inches back to the original post, is coverage of religion in the media affected and distorted by a more basic structural issue.

    Which has got me thinking about some modest proposals for lamestream media touching on matters religious.

    1) There is no such thing as a “Christian”. Seriously, folks, it’s been 495 years since Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses so you’ve had plenty of time to get to grips with the idea that the Christian Church hasn’t been a unitary body of beliefs under one hierarchical authority for a very long time. That’s not only true for Christianity. Sunni and Shia are not the parents of Chaz Bono; it’s a profoundly non-trivial distinction you need to have clear when talking about Islam.

    2) Covering religion is like any other round. It’s easy to fill your speed dial with reliably attention-grabbing rent-a-quotes and re-work press releases. Developing expertise and a wide-range of contacts is Journalism 101, bitches.

    3) Context and Nuance Matters. Should speak for itself.

    4) Authority does not come from having the loudest voice and the slickest PR operation. Ditto.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Ross Mason,

    But I can’t help think that we have a moral obligation to assist in the education of these people to try and appeal to their sense of (il)logic and and persuade them they are wasting their time and resources. It goes two ways.

    Well, they, in many cases, believe they have a strong moral obligation to save you from eternal damnation. It goes, as you say, two ways. Unless someone specifically wants to have that conversation or there is a very specific harm being done, it's better for everyone if it doesn't go at all.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Are you surprised people throw the insults out when they are first insulted?

    Well as I said, (a), there’s a difference between someone criticising your belief system and attacking you personally.
    and (b), I really don’t think your perceived “but he started it” tit-for-tat is even slightly helpful.

    Craig, I understand you feel insulted. For me, Dawkins’ work has been helpful and liberating, and I think it’s very important that we have public figures giving secular points of view. That doesn’t mean he’s a saint, or that any given atheist will agree with everything, or anything, he says.

    He’s just a person. I’d really rather talk about the issues than about an individual’s personality or modes of expression.

    Surely we need a diversity of voices in this sort of discussion. I’ve told you my feelings about religion, why don’t you tell me yours?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    persuade them they are wasting their time and resources.

    You’re welcome to try, Ross, just be fairly warned I don't treat unsolicited envangelism with an excess of Christian grace and charity.

    (For the record, I’m a Catholic -- not a church with a tradition of lay evangelism so it really doesn’t go both ways. Promise. Any potential convert who wants that kind of spiritual counseling would get my parish priest’s phone number and best wishes. Anything beyond that is waaay above my pay grade.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Will de Cleene, in reply to Russell Brown,

    We were punishingly conformist in any number of ways.

    The first half of that century wasn't that much better. At least in the 1950's, it was no longer compulsory for men to wear hats. But yeah, it's all part of a larger psyche issue with NZ, one which still lurks with its viciously vanilla conformity.

    I have deep misgivings about the way community organisations have become addicted to crumbs from the gambling table, but that money specifically isn't for "health and welfare". In theory, that's what we have taxes for.

    The slots racket is a festering pustule which seriously needs a reboot. Like any corporate fund-raising, most of the cash is siphoned off in overheads. Community orgs have lived off the leftovers for years, mainly ordained sports clubs getting bail-outs and kick-backs (when they're not getting ratepayer funded indoor stadia).

    One year of Sky City's shiny new pokies could, for example, easily pay for TVNZ 7's annual budget.

    Perhaps Health, Wellbeing and Community Involvement is a better parsing. There are more flavours to community participation than the comfortable conformity of team sports. Arts, culture, events, public spaces and the vast range of volunteer services that could do with a hand, for example. There's no need to step on the government's toes of welfare.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 107 posts Report Reply

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