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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

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[Please see May 20 post first.]
Daniel said...

I think Lan is missing the point. I don't think being "open-minded" to an activity implies you are going to, or even want to do it. Many men are "open-minded" to homosexuals, but have no desire to have a penis inserted into their ass.
Does the whole debate depend on the definition?
Let me recast the situation so that I'm sure we're talking about the same thing.

The issue I struggle with is that within an ideology that seeks openness--and indeed says that it "doesn't claim to have the answers"--there are still rules that set it apart from other ideologies. Without those rules, we'd all be eating big piles of shit before you know it.

Here's another example: Say I'm the kind of person who considers himself open to lots of different ideas. If a certain group made its goal to--hypothetically--kill all the Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals, I would probably feel like that's the kind of group that I wouldn't want to be open to. Before I know it, I've set up a rule that says something like "I'm open to all ideas except the ones that systematically kill people based on their religion, gypsy status, or sexual orientation." Good idea or not, it's still a rule I'd want to follow pretty rigidly. And that's just the beginning. And what makes that rule better than a rule that says "Join my religion or you're going to Hell"? By what authority?

As a very non-liberal friend said recently:
That side of the spectrum often seems to think that it doesn't have it's own dogmas, doctrines, and excommunicatable offenses. They seem to have a view of themselves as being open to all opinion, but very often they are only open on their own terms. [This is an important idea, I think.] They absolutely believe that there are no absolutes--this creates a really tilted playing-field in dialogue with them, in that they don't or can't recognize their own absolutism.
To address Daniel's comment: If you're "open-minded" to all things, having a penis inserted into your ass is on that list. To say that you have no desire to have a penis inserted into your ass isn't just a preference that most of those guys you're talking about could take or leave. They'd say that they absolutely would not do it. That's a rule--and it's comparable with the issue at hand. A non-credal church, such as my own, does in fact have rules.

My general feeling is that the issue is simply spectral. Traditional religion is on one side, stating that God has handed down rules that tell us how to live, and the details are in the manual. On the other side, more liberal movements--like UU--say that, yes, there are principles and beliefs that one must respect if you want to be a part of our group. But we don't claim them to be the Truth with a capital T. Like most spectrums, there are very few groups who exist in the absolutes on either end. Nihilism is obviously not a religion--what religion is there that believes in nothing?--but it probably lives in the far left corner. Similarly, another non-religion, Communist authoritarianism (or some freakish abstract most closely represented by theocratic North Korea), would probably inhabit the farthest corner of the right. What Daniel seems to advocate is a position not all the way to the left--the downsides of which is pretty much what the shit-eating example was pointing out--but a few steps closer to the center. There are inherent problems with each corner, and the problems grow fewer as you migrate toward the center.
Madge said...
1)There are better arguments against being completely open-minded and 2)Being open-minded to others finding shit-eating to be enriching is not the same as endorsing shit-eating. It's like Voltaire said about freedom: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Freedom, dude. Freedom to let others eat shit.
(1) What better arguments are there against being completely open-minded other than the fact that it leaves you open to accepting absolutely anything? To me, that's the natural consequence of that decision, and ultimately, its fatal flaw. (2) It's true. Being open-minded to others who find shit-eating enriching is not the same as endorsing the practice of chowing down on a big pile of shit. That's where the spectrum comes in. Saluting a guy grubbing on some dookie is pretty far left, I think, but it's a whole different ballgame if you're the one doing the eating.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Madge said...

I must say, I was surprised to find that you've decided to stick with UUism. I always figured you were "too cool" for UU. Next you'll be wearing acid-wash jeans and snorting loudly at people who accept Jesus as thier personal saviour.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Madge said...

their.
Just so's you can't correct me yourself.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel mildly compelled to comment, mainly because I chimed in on the May 20 post.
Being old gives one a certain perspective, along with being a part of the UU most of my adult life.
All religions are exclusive by nature. That's why there are so many. The exclusion or inclusion is mainly practiced by the people who attend or refuse to attend any given church.
Saying "I have discovered a truth" is way different than saying " I have discovered The Truth". But inferring that (in our inclusion of others) that we accept anything is far from the small t truth.
Dad

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