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Posts Tagged ‘logic’

Tennessee Intolerance

Posted by dystressed on July 31, 2008

About four days ago, I was in a hotel room out of town when the news came on television about a church shooting in Knoxville, Tennessee.

To be perfectly honest, my first thought was that I was glad I was so far away. My next thoughts drifted back to the families of the victims and what could have possibly been going on in the mind of the shooter. I have been kind of lax in my recent posts, so I decided I would take this opportunity to dissect the news and analyze what was going on in the shooter’s mind.

Unlike most of the recent tragic shootings in the U.S., the shooter is alive and well. We actually know why he did it. By his own admission, he wants to kill liberals and put an end to the liberal movement. Now before I get too political, I must warn readers that I am a liberal, so I couldn’t help but take this man’s actions a bit personally.

Jim David Adkisson wrote a letter explaining his actions, and he left his home wide open for police to search because he actually believed he would die in the shooting. As circumstances unfolded, however, he is alive and two good people are dead. Seven others are injured.

Adkisson has no ideology as he was not himself a churchgoer. Rather, he was caught up in the rhetoric of right-wing pundits who blame all of society’s ills on the liberal movement. Since he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement, he chose to target those who voted them into office. The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was targeted particularly because it preached tolerance.

Tolerance, in Adkisson’s perception, was the worst thing about liberals. Tolerance allowed gays to marry… and so on. Adkisson likely envisioned himself as a sort of avenging angel for the wrongs against America, so he bought a shotgun at a pawn shop, packed it into a guitar case, carried it into a church, and started firing at people during a children’s musical.

Knoxville News Sentinel image

Knoxville News Sentinel image

Killing innocent people is absolutely the wrong way of trying to win a culture “war.”

There is a lot of hot air blown by all sides, but the term culture war is a red herring. The culture war itself is nothing more than the eternal battle between divergent points of view. Society does not progress without disussion, debate, reasoning, and most importantly, compromise.

In fundamentalist circles, compromise is known as the tool of the devil. But in reality, compromise is what makes America great. Compromise gave us the tri-lateral, co-equal branches of government, the Bill of Rights, and a bicameral legislature (a congress with two houses, with representatives apportioned by population and Senators apportioned by the number of states). Compromise also got us some negative things, such as the three-fifths compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell. But by and large, compromise works for altruistic ends. Compromise is necessity. Compromise is a tool of democracy, a tool of freedom.

As important as compromise is, it cannot function without tolerance. Tolerance is defined as “the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.

As we rage on in this culture war, with our emotional attachments to our own opinions, we must respect the fact that we do not know everything on our own, nor does some divine power (or right-wing writer) give us all of the answers. It’s just a shame that people don’t think things through before they go off half-cocked.

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Posted in Events, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Thanks, John, For A Great Meeting

Posted by mikebftw on May 16, 2008

I have to admit I was reluctant to even attend John W. Loftus’ presentation last Wednesday, especially after the unexpected press we received. (I had someone in my office – whom I would never expect to have heard about us – ask “Did you hear there’s a former preacher that’s gonna teach people how to be atheists at the library?”) As of about 5:30 Wednesday evening, I still wasn’t sure. I’m very glad I decided to go.

We owe some thanks to everyone – and I do mean everyone – who showed up Wednesday night. Most of the people who disagreed with John’s presentation were very polite – especially the respectful younger guys in the front row. However, we also need to thank the “attorney,” who showed up halfway through the presentation, immediately spent the next 15-20 minutes on his laptop visiting the Drudge Report (Where to begin?), left, came back, and launched a weak and pathetic attempt at grandstanding on a point that, had he been there at the beginning, would have already been explained more-than-sufficiently by John. We need to thank him because his presence demonstrated that not only does being a Christian not automatically make you a good person, it also doesn’t automatically save you from being an ill-behaved mannerless bag of douche.

But I digress.

When I first walked into the meeting room, I saw a number of faces I didn’t recognize. I braced for the worst – but was relieved to find that most of the attendees were not opponents, but freethinkers we hadn’t yet met. I hope these new folks make their way to the blog and the message board. As one of the (I presume) Christians at the meeting pointed out, it’s easier to critique or tear down than to create or build up. I couldn’t agree more. We are building a great organization, not of opposition, but of promotion – of science, reason, and logic. All of these contribute fundamentally to the betterment of humanity. While our first real speaker might be perceived as “anti-Christian” rather than “pro-science/reason/logic” due to the title of his book, I hope everyone in attendance realized that we are thoughtful, compassionate people that have much to offer this city.

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Posted in Events, Religion | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »