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January 04, 2008

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Brian,

I have to admit that I am addicted to this blog now. I read it literally three to five times a day. I consider myself both intellectually inclined, and drawn to spiritual ways of being, which can be a combination that some people (ehem my wife) feel makes me talk tirelessly, to her chagrin, about death, life after death, karma, etc. I am thinking of your post about thinking too much, or not, depending on how you look at it.
What I appreciate about your postings is your honesty and your willingness to process a lot of your doubts publicly. For me this can be at best healing, as it's always good to know I'm not alone in these thoughts, especially when our culture is so sad these days.

I disagree with Steve that people are not influenced or changed by comments and posts on this blog and others.

Sometimes someone writes something and I go, "Right on !". It has helped to clarify or add a new perspective to something for me. I may not comment, but the insight or information is appreciated.

I have actually been influenced in important ways by web posts and the writer never knew it.

I imagine others would say the same.

Brian,

Steve said: "As long as we're conversing, we're being civil, behaving and hopefully, learning. When conversation breaks down or degrades into shouting and name-calling, that's when problems arise."

-- I thought about all this for a day or so, and then I realized that I definitely don't agree with Steve's artificial moral imposition of (as he said) "being civil, behaving", or of not "shouting and name-calling", or that "that's when problems arise". I don't think those are "problems" at all. And I didn't come here to be Churched - ie: to be told what and HOW I should and shouldn't communicate. Sorry, but that kind of suppression and stifling is definitely not for me. And thats also why I tend not to dig phony christians like Steve. (The supposed) Jesus never said or imposed any sort of "being civil, behaving", or not to be "shouting and name-calling". If I wanted or needed to be told how to be "behaving", then I'd go to a church for the churchfull, not a "church of the churchless".

Brian you said: "Most visitors are pleasant and nice, but there's always a few jerks around."

-- But "jerks" come in ALL flavors. So I am of the opinion that its much better to be right up-front and nitty-gritty with folks, than it is to "behave" and to hide behind pseudo-niceites. If that means being a "jerk" and I'm a jerk, then so be it imo. If others can be jerks (and they most definitely have been), then I can be a jerk too. So I don't buy the attitude that some people (like Steve) have that others should or must "behave", or communicate in a certain way or a pleasant "civil" manner. I say "let it all hang out". But I guess you and your buddy Steve don't agree. This is your blog and thats your choice.

Anyway Brian, I got the over-all, or should I say underlying, message.

I would also like to mention that I have benefited in some ways by being here, but I don't necessarily agree with Steve that anyone need or should or must "change". That's more of an expectation that self-righteous religious folks seem to want to impose upon others. I myself think a forum like this is much more just about a SHARING (or debating) of different viewpoints, information, insights, and what not, rather than having to change someone else or of becoming "changed".

In closing, I would like to say that it was really good here (while it lasted) here at the Churchless.... that is until this last time around when it got just a little bit too churchy for me.

And now I will leave you all to have a 'nice pleasant civil and behaved' blog forum. Enjoy.

But that kind of thing rather nauseates me... ...So this will be my very last comment, and now I'll have to BRIGHTLY say.... Adios amigos!


tAo, I agree that sometimes it's good to speak plainly and bluntly. But here's the thing: anyone who espouses plainness and bluntness has to understand that this is a two-way street.

I mean, if you feel that you can say whatever you want to me, then you should also feel that I can say whatever I want to you.

If we can do that, then open communication occurs. But it has to be two-way. The messages have to be both given and received.

Steve shared his views with me. Personally, like him I prefer a fairly civil and restrained way of communicating on the Internet. However, I realize that some people prefer a different style. That's fine.

Those who want more openness, though, need to be open to other views. I'm a bit surprised that you reacted so strongly to this post. Steve expressed how he felt. I reacted to his message with how I felt.

Initially Steve didn't want to keep commenting on this blog. Then he changed his mind. He might change it again. I liked, though, that he recognized that keeping communicating is the key -- not shutting ideas down because they aren't agreed with.

I spend a lot of time in my car listening to conservative talk radio. I disagree with about everything I hear. But I like to expose myself to different views, in part to "know my enemy."

I hope you'll continue to express your own views here. In any way you want to. Just expect that others are able to express their views about your views, and how you state them.

Having written some books, I know what reviews are like. People criticize both what you say and how you say it. If I can't take that criticism, I shouldn't be writing for public consumption.

Blogs are much the same. Anyone who writes a post or a comment has to understand that criticism comes with the writing. That feedback is what it is: it can be agreed with or disagreed with.

But I don't believe that it should be ignored.

Tao,

I pretty much agree with what Brian said above, except for the part about conservative talk radio which I find myself agreeing with more often than not, depending on the host. Dennis Miller often makes sense although I'm not as well-versed in cultural and literary nuance as he is, so many of his subtle analogies and metaphors go over my head.

Personally, I enjoy the clarity of what you say. There is never any doubt about how you feel about an issue or what you are trying to say. Hopefully, you will continue to comment here. Some are offended by your style, but that's their problem and you shouldn't take it too much to heart, keeping in mind that if you dish it out you're going to have to take it sometimes too.

Reading and writing is more or less ''walking'' together now and then and that is nice.

Dear tAo,
It is difficult for me to imagine that Steve's words can be so important that you may opt to stay away from the blog. Only bitter pills of yours have helped me get rid of my many ailments. Whatever I have not liked in your comments I have always pointed out and in the next post you have always put the things straight.

I hope you will continue to add your comments and links in the blog.

with kindest regards,

tAo,
from the day I began visiting this blog, I have seen you rip into people over and over again, presumably with the notion that direct honesty and confrontation are more healthy in the long run than polite, placating, untruth. Fine. But now what you are doing is what children call "taking your toys and going home."
Why do you think that this post was directed at you? You say that "you get the underlying message." I think it has nothing to do with you and that this is an overpersonalized interpretation.
I have come to enjoy your comments, but if you're gonna dish it out, you got to be able to take it tAo, and this is a case where no one's even dishing it to you.

I have felt the way Steve has, reading the posts and comments and thinking, "this again?" wondering if things will change. (I'm looking at you, Edward.)

I can also identify with what tAo reports in this post: "if you don't like what I have to say, I can just as well say it somewhere else."

They just don't make soul-crushing self examination the way they used to...

Brian, and all of you Churchless visitors who disagreed with my initial thoughts: I stand corrected.

And, frankly, I'm glad. I would much rather know that these conversations actually are read, thought about and perhaps even change minds from time to time. The comments on this post changed mine. But no one drove home the point as demonstratively (and unexplicably) as tAo.

I'm assuming most of the readers of this post understood what I meant when I said 'being civil' and 'behaving'; but to be clear, I meant a loose set of conventions shared among those taking part in the conversation; mutual respect, if you will. Not any imposition of moral principles and certainly not anything specifically Christian. This is Brian's place, after all...

Brian has done a great job of posing fresh, provocative questions that people of various faiths (or no faith) can discuss and mutually mull over. It's an engaging and worthwhile enterprise.

Sita, thanks for your thoughtful (and thought provoking) comment.

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