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W. Mark Felt = Deep Throat

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that Woodward and Bernstein are confirming that W. Mark Felt is “Deep Throat.”

Wow! The former Number Two man at the FBI during the Nixon Administration, Felt confirmed for Vanity Fair magazine that he was “Deep Throat.” As loyal minions no doubt know, “Deep Throat” was the annonymous source who fed Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward information that helped the reporters unravel the connections of the Watergate Scandal.

No doubt there will be much made of this admission and confirmation over the next few days.

Your Maximum Leader will make one prediction now. Felt is making this admission now, when he is aged and infirm, to allow his kids to make some money off the admission.

Carry on.

And Speaking of Skippy

Since it appears that our humble little shop at Nakedvillainy is his prime referrer, shouldn’t he be sending us stuff from our Amazon lists?

Speaking of Ally

Many of my favorite bloggers tend to post in inverse proportion to their current level of happiness. I think that we can all agree that a thwarted, frustrated and bitter Skippy is a boon to the blogosphere. The posting frequency of others (including the Maximum Leader, the Minister of Propaganda, and myself) tends to be tied to the intensity level of their work week.

I hope that Ally’s lack of recent posts over the last couple of weeks is tied to both variables. She has said that she is finishing up on her degree - go thee hence and congratulate her! She has also had other good news as of late, what with moving, new job, etc. I miss her witty insights. I, truth be told, also miss the occasional hammering she gives me.

So I hope altruistically that she is happily existing in the real world outside the blogosphere. And I hope narcissistically that my recent freedom from spanking is not because I have grown boring.

I recently took my post-exam AP US history class on a tour of a state college.

I had lunch with the director of admissions and we talked about the quality of various institutions. During our discussion, he blew me away with a fact. As a scientific thinker who tries to eschew magical thinking, that fact forced me to reconsider and revisit a debate I had with Ally.

Long-time readers will remember my highly controversial post about community colleges. Ally teed off on my hide (as did Minion Molly and Powerfmn). I did back away a bit from my previous incendiary stand, but the shift was a retrenchment rather than a retraction.

But the director of admissions hit me with this fact: Students who transfer to this particular state college with a 3.25 GPA in a community college do as well as upperclassmen as their peers who began their college careers at JMU. This lends serious support to Ally’s position and I’m man enough to admit it.

Of course, as our conversation continued, the director of admissions related this anecdote: His son, once attending that institution and now transferred to William and Mary, Virginia’s finest state college*, had this observation: The professors were more snooty at William and Mary, but he enjoyed college more because, unlike the other state institution, the students at William and Mary continued to talk about class subjects after the end of class. The intellectual curiosity of his peers is much higher at William and Mary.

Heh. So I guess I’m still retrenching rather than retracting. Perhaps I could a corrolary to my previous position that “Excellent students can get a good education despite the average quality of students and professors at their institution.”

Living in the Present

34 year-old Smallholder’s reaction to the Minister of Propaganda’s Full Disclosure in 2004:

Man, just reading about what Rob has to think about makes me tired. I’m glad I’m married*.

* Perhaps, a la Ally, “smugly” married.

Time Machine

16 Year Old Smallholder’s response to the Minister of Propaganda’s Full Disclosure, circa 1987:

“Rob is my hero!”

Smallholder on Religion: Ad Nauseum

Since I seem to be on the topic of religion lately, I will continue the trend.

A religion is, by definition, something that is held without a reasonable basis. A leap of faith, as you will.

Faith is something you believe, despite the lack of evidence. Faith is not something that can be proven true or false.

Science is something that can be measured and used to make testable predictions. If the measurements and test results run contrary to the theory, than the theory must be set aside and a new one, based on those inconvenient measurements and test results, must be developed.

In a previous post, I condemned Christians who made the poor choice of placing their faith in opposition to science.

People of faith once challenged Pi. But Pi is measurable, testable, and the “theory” of Pi’s nature can be used to make predictions of the circumference of circles. When faith ventured into the realm of science, trying to muscle it aside, it failed. I doubt many of you were taught the biblical measure of Pi to be 3. Most of us learned it was 3.14? to however many decimal places your geekishness demanded.

People of faith once challenged heliocentrism. But, unfortunately for those confused about the interrelationship of faith and science, orbital patterns are measurable, testable, and can be used to make testable predictions. I doubt many of you learned the geocentric theory of the Universe in school. You geekishness level probably predicts whether or not you can talk about orbital eccentricity and elliptical foci, but I’d be willing to bet that you learned that the earth orbits the sun.

People of faith now challenge evolution. Unfortunately for them, and the perception of Christianity as a whole as people generalize from the specific to our entire religion, evolution is measurable, testable, and makes testable predictions. So Kansas or no Kansas, our grandchildren won’t be learning Intelligent Design.

Tuesday Post: Full Disclosre

In gracious company, we here at Naked Villainy are blessed to join the Demystifying Divas and the Men’s Club in their weekly Tuesday posts. This week, the responsibility falls to me, and the topic is the when, where, and how of full sexual disclosure.

As a single man (please make note, ladies), I tend to follow two hard and fast rules: first, never lie. It might seem easier at the time, but lying is only going to get you in trouble. It is always better to plead the fifth than to lie: a woman might or might not stop seeing you because of what she imagines you’re doing with other people or have done in the past, but if she finds out you’ve lied about it, she’ll not only stop seeing you but be justified in trashing your name before her friends.

Second, protect yourself and future partners from the lying of others. Protection, protection, protection! Do you trust all of your lover’s ex-lovers? Do you expect all of your future partners to trust your current girlfriend? Look out for your own health and well-being, and be considerate of anyone else you’re might sleep with in the future. It can be tough in a moment of passion, but it’s important you mentally rehearse this rule until even drunkeness cannot obscure it. Additionally, your health care practioner is going to make you feel stupid if you show up every three months and request the same tests.

If you follow these two rules, then sexual disclosure is essentially a non-issue. You can discuss it theoretically, and you can discuss it with the hope of gaining greater trust in a relationship, but disclosure itself is not a necessity.

Nonetheless, the act of disclosure can itself be a positive and relationship-building experience under certain circumstances. However, it’s important that you think about the specifics of what you want to share, and when. Some general guidelines that I follow, for better or worse:

When I Meet a Potential Partner For the First Time, In a Bar Or At a Party
Do Share: I’m a Gemini
Don’t Share: Anything else

When I Sleep With Someone For the First Time, Immediately After Meeting In a Bar Or Following a Date Soon After
Do Share: I’m a Gemini
Don’t Share: Anything else (don’t forget about protection!)

Before I Sleep With Someone For the Second Time
Do Share: I’m seeing other people (not technically required unless asked — again, don’t lie! — but, in the long run, I’m always glad I said it up front)
Don’t Share: Specific details of whom I’m sleeping with

When My Partner Shares Details of Whom She’s Slept With In the Past Or Whom She’s Sleeping With Now
Do Share: The fact that I’ve slept with more people
Don’t Share: Exact numbers or the actual percentage of one-night stands

When Sleeping Together Becomes A Regular Thing
Do Share: What I like and don’t like (and I request the same information in return)
Don’t Share: Which ex-girlfriend ‘educated’ me as to my likes, and which ex-girlfriend did it best

When A Partner Expresses An Interest In, You Know, Something ‘New’

Do Share: “Well, that’s something that I’ve tried before . . . but it’s important that we focus on what you’re comfortable with”
Don’t Share: References

When A Partner Says She’d Like to Invite A Cute Friend For a Threesome
Do Share: Reluctant agreement: careful! This might be a trap
Don’t Share: The fact that it wouldn’t be the first time, and never suggest names

When We Make a Serious and Exclusive Commitment
Do Share: How long it’s been since I last made a serious commitment
Don’t Share: How that commitment ended, or how many people I’ve slept with since that last commitment

When We’re Considering Having Sex Without Protection
Do Share: Any risky behavior, intentional or accidental, I’ve engaged in since my last test (and expect the same information in return)
Don’t Share: Specific details
When I Realize I’m Sleeping With Someone That I Want to Be With For the Rest of My Life (theoretical)

Do Share: Everything. Everything, everything, everything.

Oh, and never share the fact that you blog about your sex life. If you do admit that you blog about your sex life, never reveal the actual URL. If you do, you’ll be editing yourself forever.

Believe.

For more Men’s Club posts check out: Phin and the Wizard. And soon we’ll hear from Puffy.

For for the Demystifying Divas check out: Sadie, Kathy, Christina, and Silk.

The Morality of Torture

Check out this excellent essay by quandro (via Volokh).

The prisoners in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, and Gitmo are NOT covered by the Geneva Convention. Red-letter law excludes illegal combatants from the Geneva protections.

Nonetheless, widespread torture, abuse, and “accidental” deaths are immoral and counterproductive.

Read the article for a highly supported argument. I find the solution of offering summary tribunals, sentencing the illegal combatants to death (as is international law proscribes), and then offering a commutation of the sentence in return for information. If no information is forthcoming, the sentence can be carried out if full accordance with international law. If information is forthcoming, we get what we want without engaging in torture.

Also scroll down and read the comments. The moral relativism of many commentators - and of many of our blogosphere friends, is astounding. “Well, the terrorists are worse, so whatever we did is okay.” The terrorists are worse. But that does not absolve us of the responsibility of acting ethically. It reminds me of some of my Baltimore City students who, having been weaned on the mother’s milk of anti-Americanism, refused to see the moral dimenstion of World War Two - “America is no better than Nazi Germany because we had concentration camps too…” It frustrated me that they could not see gradations of wrongfulness. The Japanese Internment was a wrongful violation of the rights of American citizens. It ought to be condemned. But to place it in the same moral ballpark as Dachau is abhorrent.

The right side of the political spectrum rightly (pun intended) condemns moral relativism. But the same folks who condemn the “there are no savage and civilizaed societies, only different cultures” claptrap engage in the same intellectual laziness when confronted with examples of American wrong doing.

Sadie and This Minister, Sittin’ In a Tree . . .

Sadie and I are flirting over at Cake Eater Chronicles, so go check it out.

Believe.

All Manner Of Bloggy Goodness. - Updated

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader figures he’ll spend a little time today giving you all one big link-dump post to keep you going over the long weekend. (Long weekend at least for his American readers. Apologies to the Big Hominid and Col. Blimp.)

But before he does his link dumping, allow him to note that he will not be posting much or at all over the weekend (as is more or less normal). Lots of stuff going on over the weekend. He is going to see Tosca on Saturday. And he will see the Washington Nationals take on the Atlanta Braves on Monday.

Excursus to Opera Loving DC area minions: Your Maximum Leader might have one extra ticket to the matinee performance of Tosca tomorrow. Center Orchestra. Row “R.” If you are interested write your Maximum Leader. Use e-mail on the left side nav bar.

The Nationals v. Braves contest will be a hard one for him. As mentioned before, your Maximum Leader is a baseball fan. And he has pulled for the Braves for a very very long time. But now, he feels there is some civic duty requiring him to root (root, root) for the home team. But he can’t just give up on the Braves after so long. Baseball is playing the role of cruel mistress right now…

Anyway… If you are at the Nats/Braves game on Monday, you’ll likely see your Maximum Leader in a Braves Cap and Hank Aaron jersey. He and Mrs. Villain and the Villainettes will be sitting about three rows off the field down the third base line.

Well, let us move along…

You ought to go over and read some of Brian’s thoughts on his Grandfather and Father on Memorial Day. It is a fine post. Also very good is the post immediately preceeding the Memorial Day post. The one in which Brian comments on a recent report that UK doctors recommend removing sharp pointy knives from kitchens to reduce the number of stabbing deaths. Of course this would also make it difficult to prepare food, thereby requiring Britons to buy processed foods only. Processed foods are also a great boon for the nation. As they can more easily be reheated in a microwave there would be no need for Britons to own ovens. The removal of ovens from British households would reduce both the number of household burns suffered by Britons cooking AND suicides by inhaling gas. Your Maximum Leader can see where this is going…

Although it is a little late (considering the post is a few weeks old) you ought to go and read over the Demosophist’s post about a recent NCTC report on terrorist activity around the globe. The post is much to serious and thought provoking to have your Maximum Leader give some sort of pithy comment here and move along. He hopes to give this item more thought and comment later.

You all should read Skippy’s post on the outcome of the “Nuclear Option” non-event. It is, as is so often the case with Skippy’s poss on politics, very well done. Although your Maximum Leader isn’t too sure about House Republicans paying for supporting the President’s economic policy. The economic forecast seems good. (And growing tax revenues are continuing to prove that we are likely to the right of the “T” point on the Laffer Curve.)

While talking about House Republicans… Your Maximum Leader commends to you a wonderful peice by Alan Abramowitz at Professor Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball site. The article describes how redistricting is not responsible, in Prof. Abramowitz’s opinion, for uncompetitive House races. It was very enlightening.

Thanks to INDC Bill your Maximum Leader sees that Vladimir Putin is not yet privy to the vast conspiracy to keep the world ignorant of alien lifeforms being kept in a freezer by the US Air Force. Of course, it is also disturbing to learn that Vladimir doesn’t partake of “strong drink.” Really now, can you be a Russian and not have a shot or two of vodka every now and again? Your Maximum Leader certainly doesn’t want a man with nuclear launch codes going around in a vodka induced stupor. But not touching the vodka seems very un-Russian. You gotta keep and eye on that Vladimir.

Your Maximum Leader hopes you all didn’t miss the absolutely wonderful essay by Mr. P on Patum Peperium about Jane Austin and the Duke of Wellington. You really ought to go and read it. And while you are over there on Patum Peperium, check out this post from Lord Nelson about Britain he fought to defend 200 years after giving his life at Trafalgar.

Which makes your Maximum Leader wonder if the official celebration of the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar going to be that bad? Well yes it seems it will be THAT bad. Rest assured your Maximum Leader will not be all PC about it.

Did you catch Buckethead’s post over at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy about the Freedom Tower kerfluffle? No? Well here it is. Your Maximum Leader would certainly like to see one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s mega-buildings erected on the World Trade Center site. At first your Maximum Leader wasn’t sure if he fell on the Geeklethal or Buckethead side of their comment thread discussion. Your Maximum Leader, upon reflection, is more in the “we must rebuild bigger and better than before, phallic subtexts be damned” side of the argument. And as an added benefit, we should build a 1 km tall Wright designed building. Assure it was the tallest freestanding structure in the world, then put the world on notice… We’ll bomb out of existance any attempt to build something bigger… Okay. Perhaps that is a bit much… But we could do it…

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know why, but he really really liked (and even found some humour in) the Velociman’s post on Sulfur.

Did you see the latest from the Beef Council? Your Maximum Leader can only agree with Gordon and nod approvingly. You just don’t know what cooties you could catch from Paris. Probably some very nasty ones.

As always there is plenty of bloggy goodness over at Dr. Rusty’s site. It was the first place where your Maximum Leader read that terrorists in Iraq are now using dogs as suicide bombers. Your Maximum Leader feels sorry for the dogs. He also thinks it probably does show that the number of volunteers for suicide bombings is declining. One hopes this is because of therecent moves by US and Iraqi forces throughout Iraq to crack down on terrorist activity.

Speaking of animals… Did you notice this post over at the Hatemonger’s Quarterly? Your Maximum Leader is sure that the Smallholder will tune into British television with much more regularity now that “Animal Passions” is okay for broadcast.

Your Maximum Leader really liked this post of fiesty Christina’s. One day your Maximum Leader needs to borrow his sainted parents’ condo in New Orleans and go to visit the fiesty one.

Dearest Sadie… Your Maximum Leader’s one unfulfilled wish at the moment involves Jennifer Love Hewitt, Giada De Laurentiis, garlic bread, mounds of pasta with alfredo sauce, and chocolate eclairs with custard filling. PS to Sadie - He sees you’ve put the M of P’s quote on the masthead… Smallholder will be jealous.

That is about it for now. If your Maximum Leader gets a chance, he’ll post his thoughts on “Revenge of the Sith” before too long.

Carry on.

Lunchtime Observations

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader joined some friends and acquaintances for lunch today. Here are some random observations of the whole excursion.

While driving to lunch, your Maximum Leader was being tailgated by a rather cute young woman in a white Chevy pickup. One could tell from her driving that she seemed to be in a rush. You Maximum Leader manoevered around to let her pass. She waved as she passed. After she had passed your Maximum Leader saw that the back of her truck was filled with Confederate flag bumper stickers and other stickers exhorting readers to know that real girls drive trucks and so forth…

She wasn’t quite as cute anymore.

At lunch your Maximum Leader got a Delmonico steak with sides of broccoli and garlic mashed potatoes. Normally he would get a New York strip. But damn that Delmonico was tasty. If given the chance he would eat another right now.

During conversation your Maximum Leader was the only one who found it ironic that Viagra could make you blind. None of the others (men - for there were no women in the group) at the table got my original quip. So your Maximum Leader even did a follow-on by saying “Next thing you know Enzyte will cause hair to grow on your palms.”

Still no one got it. The next thought your Maximum Leader had was, “What if your Maximum Leader is the only man at this table with enough sexual puissance to not require Viagra?” Gadzooks! It could be.

Upon leaving lunch, your Maximum Leader got back into the Villainmobile and was driving around when he thought to himself, “Humm… Does Giada De Laurentiis have a cannoli recipe?” (Your Maximum Leader can’t find one, but she does have a fruit salad with cannoli cream recipe floating out there. Which he seems to remember having seen the lovely Giada make on “Everyday Italian.”) Then your Maximum Leader’s mind turned to just Giada De Laurentiis and cannoli cream… With fresh berries. Giada De Laurentiis with berries and cannoli cream… Yum.

Your Maximum Leader heard on the radio that King Fahd was in the hospital. He wonders what the line will be on how soon the King might “pass.”

Also on the radio was an update about a local murder trial that is concluding today and will go to the jury on Tuesday. A local woman was murdered nearly two years ago. Under her fingernails was found tissue and blood containing measurable amounts of human DNA. The police investigation corralled a suspect who, much later, was determined to be a DNA match to the tissue and blood found under the victim’s fingernails.

The prosecution in this case brought in many experts on DNA to testify. In closing arguments, the lead defence attorney said the prosecution hadn’t proved the DNA match. And why wasn’t the DNA evidence proved (according to the defence)? Because there was a one in six billion chance that someone else in the general population would also be a DNA match.
1 in 6,000,000,000!

Lets see… The odds of winning a multi-state lottery are 1 in 140,000,000. The odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 570,000. The odds of being killed by a lightning strike are 1 in 2,230,000. The odds of being killed by a dog bite are 1 in 700,000. And the odds of being audited by the IRS are about 1 in 175.

But this guy ought to be let off because there is a 1 in 6 billion chance that someone else with identical DNA murdered the victim.

Yeah. Great defence.

Carry on.

Left bias in PBS

I am having a great time following the lastest with Ken Tomlinson, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and his remarks about a balanced PBS.

The Armed Forces Network radio carries about 70% of PBS programing and, as its about the only English Speaking news I can get in my car, I listen to it A LOT.

My friends on the left will decry that there is no bias at all, but as someone fom the other side of the aisle, I am a little more in tune to the bias, just like they are with Fox News.

It might not be an overt bias, but I would imagine that 90% of the people that work for PBS pulled the leaver for Kerry last November (hey, they are in show business afterall) and I can’t believe it doesn’t work its way into their material, choices, and delivery.

Right after the November election, Science Friday had an entire show about dealing with post election depression and was essentially a 30 minute “I hate Bush” call in show.

SCIENCE FRIDAY?

back to the trenches

i guess we are both chumps then

Interesting post M of A. I do have to say, “you have come a long way baby!”

I agree with a lot of what you said… and what I did not agree with, we should discuss in the wee hours of the morning during Jackfest this summer.

Don’t worry about the M of P too much as he is finding his way still, and will be an excellent addition to the chump club one day.

*sniff* *sniff*
I love you guys.

Smallholder: Chump

During a (no longer) recent slew o’ posts, my good friend Rob has called me a chump. If you are too lazy to scroll down the page,his post can be found here.

Brian B. Has already pointed out the incongruity of calling Christians chumps whilst decrying religious intolerance.

I would like proclaim to the blogsopshere that my childhood chum was simply being incendiary.

Unfortunately, I think not.

When I found my faith again (fatherhood and farming will do that to a fella), Rob was flummoxed and passionately opposed to my belief. I think he felt that his “enlightened” friend had betrayed rationality and gone back to the dark side. His vehemence surprised me, but it is not something that comes between us (fear not, o Minister of Propaganda!) - our friendship is a wide, deep, and long lasting one which transcends major philosophical differences, as readers of this blog well know.

I, of course, would argue that I haven’t betrayed the Enlightenment at all. After all, if one seeks first causes, one must, logically speaking, come to the same view as the Deists. Believing that the Universe arose from nothing is as great a, if not greater, leap of “faith” than accepting the existence of a First Cause.

The Maximum Leader once, during an alcohol-fueled metaphysical colloquium, applauded Rob’s atheism, proclaiming that agnosticism was simply moral cowardice: “subscribe to atheism and be done, man!” I heartily agreed with him at the time, but I have since reconsidered. It seems to me that agnosticism is entirely reasonable: “I can’t explain the universe, but find the evidence supporting particular faiths to be unconvincing.” Atheism and faith are both unprovable beliefs.**

I’ll confess that accepting the Christian conception of the First Cause is indeed a leap of faith, but I believe that I can somewhat justify my acceptance through reason, but am willing to concede that my childhood upbringing may have biased me in that direction.

My brain has been percolating on a long, probably interminable post about “Why Smallholder is a Christian.” This line of thought starts leading me down the path of an epic post, so let me just lay aside the exploration of my reasoning for a bit. The point is that I’m not a blind, magically-thinking fool. And I’m not alone.

I would argue that the vast Catholics and the vast majority of mainline Protestants do not believe that reason is the enemy of faith.

The virulence of the Minister of Propaganda’s abhorrence toward faith may be the result of the way our primate brains work.

We like to assign categories to everything. Socially, we are very perceptive about differences between ourselves and any other person with whom we interact. In Darwinian terms, this makes excellent sense. We have to make snap judgments about whether to assert our alpha malesness or social position over a newcomer or to rapidly accept beta dog status. Is this new person a potential ally or a rival?

Now that we have the ability to conceptually organize more complex concepts, this categorization tendency can get us into trouble. If someone cuts us off in traffic, we try to explain their poor driving skills. And we naturally focus on categorical differences. How often have men complained about “dem wimmin drivers?” Statistically speaking, this is an entirely specious belief. Men are much more likely to have car accidents than women. But many men really believe that women are worse drivers because of the way our brains work. If a man cuts me off, I rarely say “that man cut me off.” I’ll label him “old,” or “cell phone talker.” I don’t perceive his maleness. But if it’s a woman, I notice that she is different in gender-specific terms.

And then, because our little brains can only hold so many categories, we simplify things, generalizing from the specific to the larger category. One doesn’t often hear: “That woman was a bad driver.” We hear: “Women are bad drivers.”

Excursus: Everyone does this. Lest you think that I am picking on a one gender, let me call your attention to the fact thatwe rarely hear: “Bob treated me poorly in our relationship.” We do hear: “Men are scum.”

The tendency to generalize from the specific to the general places a great responsibility on Christians. When Christians act like asses, non-Christians will make judgments about the faith as a whole.

One of the central tenants of Christianity is that we ought, per the sermon on the mount, proselytize. If our actions turn people off to our faith, we have not acted wisely.

I clearly remember one of my Missouri Synod catechism teachers explaining that a good Christian would never have to tell anyone that he was a Christian. His behavior would be like a sign to those around him.

In fact, when anyone proclaims their faith too loudly, like the businessmen who assure you that you are getting a fair deal because they are a Christian, I have a tendency to count my fingers after shaking their hands. (Ever notice how many car salesmen begin their sentences with “I’m going to level with you/tell you the truth/be honest with you?”)

Christians have a responsibility to act appropriately so that we don’t trigger the “specific to general neurons” in the brains of onlookers.

In fact, I’ll confess that I ought to improve myself - perhaps some of our readers are alarmed by the (un?)healthy appreciation of Miss Pressly as expressed by a happily-married man. Perhaps they are saying: “Look, there goes that ’so-called’ Christian having lust in his heart! All Christians are just lustful little deviants!” Or perhaps they are appalled at any one my little quirks. Occasionally I’ll use harsh language. I’ll take political stands that some might find immoral. This is the reason that I don’t center many of my posts around my faith: in expressing my beliefs, I may be harming the greater cause.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think appreciating the acting skills of Miss Pressly is, in itself, immoral (and neither is Mrs. Smallholder’s appreciation of Viggo Mortenson or George Clooney). I also believe that four letter words, if used exceedingly rarely, can effectively communicate sentiment. And I think a person interested in justice will support equality for homosexuals. So I’m going to do these things when joking around with my old friends in the blogosphere.

But I need to be mindful (is this an appropriate use of the term, o Big Hominid?) that many people in my audience will disagree. Maybe I’m wrong - I’m willing to be convinced.

Unfortunately, many of my co-religionists will not admit the possibility that they might be wrong. And this is bad for Christianity.

Christians who believe that they have a monopoly on the truth are bad Christians.

(Oooo, you are thinking to yourself, the congenitally permissive Smallholder casts a stone! Yep.)

Believing that your particular interpretation of the Bible is the only possible one is arrogance that traipses into the territory of hubris. People have been claiming this throughout history. From a navel-gazing perspective, everyone else must be wrong. So why have faith that you have finally found the only sect in history to truly know God’s will? The Southerners who proclaimed that Jesus loved slavery are generally acknowledged to have been mistaken. The Millerites were a bit discredited when the world didn’t end as scheduled.

So, if Smallholder had his way, Christians would say: “I believe, based on my reading of the scripture, consideration of the central message of Jesus’ teaching, and reason, that X is a moral course of action - but am willing to discuss, respect, and possibly be persuaded by other viewpoints.”

And let me say this - I think those who dogmatically claim that “every jot and tittle” of the Bible is literally true are deluding themselves. They are taking Jesus’ claim out of historical context (the current books of the Bible were not finalized until well after Jesus’ time), they are willingly blind to contradictions contained in the Bible itself, are generally only focusing on the jots and tittles that support their own predispositions, ignore the issues involved in translatins, and are blind to the historical influences that operate on any product of man’s hand. If the literal word is absolutely true, and the meaning is so plain, why do you and I disagree on what we take from the reading? Is my belief that God knowing Thomas “in the womb” mean that God had a plan for Thomas life a willful misinterpretation of the passage in which you see a condemnation of abortion (God knew Thomas in the womb -> Thomas had a soul in the womb -> All fetuses have a soul -> Abortion is murder)?

Good people can disagree. When Christians deny this, people look at us and say “Those Christians are so harsh and condemnatory! They attribute evil motives to anyone who disagrees! All Christians are bad!”

And thus it becomes harder to bring people to the faith.

And outsiders focus on the negative impacts of “Christians” in the public sphere.

And generalize that Christianity leads to bad outcomes.

And announce that “Religion is for chumps.”

The same is true for the creationists. Willfuly blind to the overwhelming scientific evidence, they misrepresent the findings and play to the ignorance of their audience (”It’s just a theory! Irreducible complexity! Intelligent Design is Science!”)

Whenever Christians have set their particular interpretation of an infallible literalist Bible against science, science eventually wins. How many of our readers believe the earth is flat, that the universe is geocentric, or that pi’s value is three?

Aside from the incredible hubris of Luddite Christians who propose to limit the manner in which God has, or might have, designed the universe is the issue of the Sermon on the Mount.

When Christians are seen clinging to demonstratably false shibboleths, the public generalizes from the specific to the general.

Outsiders see the intelligent design people are both dishonest in their presentation and foolish in their scientific ignorance.

And generalize that Christians as a group are dishonest and stupid.

And announce that “religion is for chumps.”

Don’t just hammer my friend the Minister of Propaganda.

Let’s look at ourselves. Why have we done to make non-theists recoil from our faith?

**UPDATE FROM YOUR MAXIMUM LEADER: Not like it amounts to a hill of beans in this crazy world but… Your Maximum Leader seems to remember he didn’t accuse agnostics of being “moral” cowards but rather “intellectual” cowards. Agnostics, speaking generally, are just people who can’t make up their minds and really don’t try/want to. As you, dear minion, can see your Maximum Leader is not as charitable towards agnostics as is the good Smallholder.

Mother In Law

So lately my Mother in Law (MIL for short) has been giving my wife crap. We’re horrible parents, we feed our kids too much, not enough, dress them too warm, too cold, our house is a mess, our social life is too busy, we don’t go out enough blah blah blah.

When I tell my wife what I think of her mother, my wife’s response is “well, she does help us a lot.”

So does helping us buy her the right to be a bitch?

And don’t even get me started on the quality of her help. Leaving irons on, leaving the house open… not unlocked… OPEN, Forgetting to feed her the baby for an afternoon of babysitting and on and on….

    About Naked Villainy

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