Suggestions for talking with…

I wonder if I might make a few suggestions for conversing with others about religion on a discussion board? I have had some experience with this, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve observed and learned.

The most important thing to know, I think, is that if you ever encounter me on a discussion forum I am always, always right. And if you disagree with me about this you are wrong.

Once we have established that basic and most fundamental of all facts, we can move on to other stuff:

Might I suggest that we never, ever, ever presume to know what other people think, feel, and believe just because they identify themselves as atheist, theist, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, pagan, Christian Scientist, or as a member of any other ideology.
Generalizations, stereotypes, and lumping whole groups of people together as one “type” are not helpful when trying to understand someone else’s perspective.
Don’t tell other people what they think. Let them tell you.
Although pomposity cracks me up, not everyone shares the same reaction as me to puffed-up know-it-allness. Humility is a beautiful thing. Let’s be willing to laugh at our own nonsense before we laugh at someone else’s.
Remember that we’re all human – we all have our own flaws and foibles – none of us is perfect here. Might I suggest that we correct our own flaws before we start trying to correct someone else’s?
Give each other grace.
Listen.
More specifically…

Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

We should remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills, opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves; that each person has a different history, constitution, culture, character, from all the rest; that human life is the work, the play, the ceaseless action and reaction upon each other of these different atoms. Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not wear upon our sensibilities…
– Mary Baker Eddy (Miscellaneous Writings)

I wonder if I might make a few suggestions for conversing with others about religion on a discussion board?   I have had some experience with this, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve observed and learned.

The…

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Answers to a Political Survey

A friend posted a link to a conservative political survey on Facebook. Here are some of the questions and my answers:

How would you rate the current direction of our economy?
Corporations are running our economy. I would like to see the power go back into the hands of the human citizens.

Which issue would you like to see prioritized more?
I would like to see our nation’s representatives fight for the middle and lower classes, rather than be in the pockets of the wealthy and corporations. I would like to have the people who represent us recognize that global warming is a real danger to us. I would like to see all the citizens of our country – including the poor and disenfranchised – have access to affordable health care. I would like our President to actually care about EVERYone he represents – and not just wealthy white males. I would like our President to realize he works for us, and that we don’t work for him. I would like women to have control over their own bodies.

Do you think immigration should be reduced until unemployment drops?
No. Immigration isn’t causing unemployment. Shipping jobs overseas is, however.

Do you think universities today indoctrinate rather than teach students?
No. Our students need to learn to question their own beliefs, assess information for accuracy and bias, and think critically. Students need to be taught the skills that will help them recognize that your question has built-in bias.

What else do you think the President needs to know about the real America? We’re listening.
No. You are not listening. If you were listening, you wouldn’t even be asking these questions. If you were listening you’d actually be trying to help all Americans have access to health care. If you were listening, you’d be lowering taxes for the poor and middle-class, and raising taxes for the rich – rather than the other way around. You are assuming that American citizens are ignorant, uneducated, and only out for themselves. You have become dinosaurs as the rest of the country has moved on. Catch up.

Freedom of the Press and The Christian Science Monitor

For me, the most important passage in the Constitution of the United States is this one:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
– First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

The citizens of the United States need to be informed to be able to carry out their duties and responsibilities. To stay informed we need a press that isn’t owned by corporations or politicians. To stay informed we need members of the press who have the courage to bring the truth to their audience. To stay informed we need a citizenry receptive to what the press has to share, and able to question, for themselves, what they hear, read, and see. 

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, was witness to the yellow journalism of of the late 1800s and, in 1908, at the age of 87,  created her own newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, in response. Eddy wrote that the mission of her paper was “To injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” She wrote:

“It is the pulpit and press, clerical robes and the prohibiting of free speech, that cradles and covers the sins of the world,—all unmitigated systems of crime; and it requires the enlightenment of these worthies, through civil and religious reform, to blot out all inhuman codes.  It was the Southern pulpit and press that influenced the people to wrench from man both human and divine rights, in order to subserve the interests of wealth, religious caste, civil and political power.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings

“When the press is gagged, liberty is besieged; but when the press assumes the liberty to lie, it discounts clemency, mocks morality, outrages humanity, breaks common law, gives impulse to violence, envy, and hate, and prolongs the reign of inordinate, unprincipled clans. At this period, 1888, those quill-drivers whose consciences are in their pockets hold high carnival. When news-dealers shout for class legislation, and decapitated reputations, headless trunks, and quivering hearts are held up before the rabble in exchange for money, place, and power, the vox populi is suffocated, individual rights are trodden under foot, and the car of the modern Inquisition rolls along the streets besmeared with blood.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings

The passages about the press that Mary Baker Eddy wrote 120 years ago seem timely today, too, don’t they?

A month ago I began a subscription to The Christian Science Monitor. According to the Quora website: “The Monitor has a solid reputation in the industry, especially in the field of international reporting. They hold 7 Pulitzer Prizes for their work in journalism.” And according to Allsides.com: “The Christian Science Monitor has maintained its reputation within the news industry as a well-run, high quality news organization with minimal bias.”

I suppose there are folks who might see the words “Christian Science” in the title of the newspaper and immediately assume the paper has a religious bias… which… actually shows a bias in the person assuming a bias. Right? 🙂

I have really come to appreciate this newspaper in the last month: It is unbiased and fair; It presents news without sensationalism; It presents at least one “feel good” story in each edition that helps give me hope for the world; and it presents me with the information I need to carry out my duties as a responsible citizen of the United States.

Mary Baker Eddy did a good thing when she started this newspaper.