Monday, November 15, 2004

Religion, Part 1

The Meat of the Matter will now change from politics to that other taboo topic: religion. Until I was 33, I was a fundamentalist, born-again, Pentecostal Christian. Now I’m not. Still, some of my more progressive Christian friends have remained my friends, and I occasionally hang out with them and have a beer. I got an e-mail from one of these friends, which was a light-hearted bash against Kerry. I think it linked to a wave file of various snippets of Kerry saying completely opposite things. OK, fine. I wondered if perhaps the sender may have thought that I was a Bush supporter like all of his other friends. So, I replied to all with this: Yep, that was funny. Almost as funny as G. W. Bush's response to Kerry after Kerry chided him for the hundreds of tons of "lost" munitions in Iraq: "A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief." Amen, my forgetful Commander-In-Chief, Amen! Jumped Conclusion #1: Iraq has WMDs. Jumped Conclusion #2: Iraq has ties to Al Quaeda. Therefore, based on Bush's own advice, none of us should vote for him. (hehheh ... all in good fun. Hi everyone!) -Jim Well, one of the people who was CC’d on the e-mail (I will call him “Bert”) is an old friend of mine. At one time we were very close, but I’d seen him just a few months ago when he invited me to his new home for a get-together. I was the only non-Christian there, but it was all good, nice conversations, etc. Here is the reply I got from Bert: I guess that means the entire senate intelligence committee won't be getting any votes either. Kerry is even on record stating Iraq had wmd's, along with Bill Clinton, and a host of others. Jim you you seem to lap up those kind of poorly reasoned arguments for some reason? Ok, so … what should I have done here? I’m being told I’ve used poor reasoning by someone who is using *severely* poor reasoning, as well as being insulting. OK, so here is my response: Well Bert, since you decided to condescend to me by saying I "lapped up a poorly reasoned argument," let me correct you in a few ways. First, I didn't "lap up" the argument. I came up with it myself. If you've read my criticism elsewhere, it's because other clear-thinking individuals found it equally hilarious for GWB to say such a thing. Neither is it poorly reasoned. You claim that since many other people believed WMDs were in Iraq, it must therefore okay that Bush was wrong. That is a fallacy called "Argumentum ad populum" which actually IS poor reasoning. Of all the people who were WRONG about WMDs being in Iraq, George Bush is the ONLY one who decided to criticize someone else for "jumping to conclusions before knowing the facts." Whether or not everyone else was mislead by bad intelligence or not, GWB DID jump to conclusions before knowing the facts. Bert’s reply: (not edited to correct spelling) I am glad you made something up youself, but the actual argument I was refering to is the argument that Bush jumped to a hastey conclusion. Ummm, okay. Even though there were three misspelled words, I’m not above a typo or two so I let those go. I feel a little bad about smacking him down, so I attempted to lighten it up a little bit. Let's see ... faulty premise ... 14,000 people dead. I'd call that hasty. But GWB is standing by his guns. In contrast, when JFK made the same mistake (jumping to a wrong conclusion at the Bay of Pigs based on faulty intelligence), he went before the nation and held himself accountable, and called it what it was: a mistake. If GWB had done the same, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I didn't come up with the JFK comparison ... John Kerry did. Heheh.) Bert’s reply: (Spell-check was used by Bert this time. I left the aberrations intact.) The fact that people die in war, or that people have died in this war, or a specific amount of people have died in this war, relate to the decision to go to war as being hasty in what way? If JFK would have been as successful in the Bay of Pigs, there would have been no apology made, weather appropriate or not. I know you know better than to compare these incidents,(bay of pigs, war in Iraq) for myriad reasons. Are you sure you should remain a member of "Clear thinkers for Kerry" in your present condition? So here we have a “good old friend” who is bent on attacking and insulting me, and using completely non-linear-in-fact-pretzel-shaped logic to do so. I realize at this point that dialog with this person is futile. Plus, I’m just pissed off. Bert either didn’t know what happened at the Bay of Pigs, or didn't care. My reply: I'm not interested in continuing this conversation with you. If your goal was to influence me, you did not succeed. If your goal was to offend me, you did succeed. If your goal was to impress me, you failed miserably. I'm sure you'll count this as some sort of victory. You go right ahead. So Bert simply replied with "Boo hoo!" That was all the e-mail said. I sat back and realized I had just lost a friend. Granted, a narrow-minded, possibly insane, wacko, pseudo-intellectual friend, but still a friend! To quote a great line I read from "Granta" in the early 90’s: "Any idiot can throw a bomb, but it takes a genius to diffuse one." I had not been a genius with Bert. I had been an idiot. But the vast chasm between how I think and how a large number of Americans think is becoming apparent. Stay tuned for Part II.


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