A Possible Gospel And New Testament

More Fun Than Fundamentalism.

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For further information, email Darius at possiblegospel@yahoo.com.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Possible Topic??


OK, I haven’t really been on blogging vacation. I have this other blog that’s totally wacky. Percy Bysshe Shelley was a leading Romantic era English poet. I love nineteenth century lit, and can even sort of write that way a little.

So I invented this character named Percy Bysshe Silly. It was just to poke fun about a few things concerning writing, romance, and the sexes – for example, the way that poetry, especially if it isn’t “gritty” or “hard edged,” is equated with effeminacy in the minds of many Americans. Percy ends up being this overly pugnacious, flirtatious, and yet loquacious character, all at the same time.

A Big Mistake?

Lately I’ve been running here and there into quite a lot of anti-Islam, anti-Muslim blogging. I made what may have been the big mistake of trying to discuss the topic of bigotry with people who appear to have bigoted attitudes toward Muslims.

A number of things have bothered me about this:

1. A lot of the anti-Muslim sentiment is coming from Christians.

2. Trying to converse with people who are anti-Muslim is difficult. What seems to happen in discussion threads is that I reply to them point by point. They usually respond by ignoring most or all of my responses; and just give more “evidence” for how rotten they think Muslims are.

3. When they do respond to my points, it’s often by misrepresenting them.

4. The responses are often laced with personal attack.

5. With one person, the response has been pure hate. I’ve become included in the apparently quite expansive category of people that this particular individual loves to hate. As a “Muslim sympathizer,” I suppose.

Please Post Here, There, or Bothwheres...

I’ve just done one more post on bigotry on my formerly fun blog:

  • Romantic

  • What do you think? Is it useless, or even counterproductive to discuss bigotry with someone who has bigoted attitudes? Despite its irrationality, is it impossible for someone to reason their way out of prejudice?

    If that’s the case, is there any way that non-Muslims can constructively take a stand against anti-Islamic bigotry?

    1. To leave a “meta-comment” – a comment about the usefulness or uselessness of trying to discuss the subject of bigotry – please leave your comment here on this blog.

    2. To become embroiled in actual discussion of the topic, please post to the "Romantic" link above.


    At 7:54 PM, Blogger Lady Wordsmith said...

    I knew your other face was PBS, and watched in silent amazement as you flitted there and lectured here. Now my only wonder is why the wide open reveal now?

    At 9:09 PM, Blogger jim said...

    PBS is good. Bigotry is not. What's to debate.

    I am opposed to, vociferously, religious oppression in any dress, extreme muslim militarism is one, but Islam is not a problem overall. Combine anything with violence, short of self defence from the same, and you have something to criticize.

    Just my thoughts overall.

    At 11:51 PM, Blogger Lee said...

    Well done for atleast trying to broach the subject. I have watched the bits and pieces unfold at other sites, where people doggedly defend their positions, without stepping into the fray. Is this cowardice? Probably.

    On one of my posts I quoted Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." I genuinely believe that to be true.

    But to step into the fray is to wear a personal attack. In all such emotional subjects the die-hards will not debate, not in the pure sense of arguing to explore a topic, but assume attack positions and play the man rather than the ball.

    Humans are very prone to stereotype and generalise. Never more so than with religion. It is cognitive laziness, no different to saying all Scotmen are mean and all women are bad drivers. It saves having to think. But causes wars.

    All religions should put more effort into getting their own house in order rather than criticising others. Looking for elements of commonality rather than differences would be a big step forward, too.

    Well done for trying.

    At 2:53 AM, Blogger ThursdayNext said...

    I never put the two together...but I read this and then, indeed, I saw the connection.

    Sir, you are a gentleman, a scholar, and a wonderful human being.

    I am glad that you at least have an email address here so I can write to you now.

    As for recent discussions and the hateful blogging of late, I admire you for doing the hardest joh in the world: teaching.

    At 4:41 AM, Blogger Pauline said...

    You asked: "What do you think? Is it useless, or even counterproductive to discuss bigotry with someone who has bigoted attitudes? Despite its irrationality, is it impossible for someone to reason their way out of prejudice?"

    If those bigoted attitudes are entrenched in fear, or as Lee suggests, in cognitive laziness then yes, I think it's useless to try to reason. One who has such opinions is not open to discussion, only argument. Arguments occur between people who do not have enough information, leaving only defense or attack as possible positions. Discussions, on the other hand, seek to enlighten. If one does not feel the need for enlightenment, one resorts to argument.

    "If that’s the case, is there any way that non-Muslims can constructively take a stand against anti-Islamic bigotry?"

    One can DO rather than say. Of course, that path leads to stoning, or imprisonment, or crucifiction. We can, as Ghandi urges, be the change we want to see in the world, but that is a one-step-at-a-time solution and so many people seem to want to simply wipe away what frightens them. (Of course, that doesn't work either - something else scary always crops up.)

    Is there a solution? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever it is, it has to be individual before it can be collective.

    At 6:04 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

    You mean I've been missing out on your other blog!? Ack!

    I don't think it's useless to try and reason with bigotry, but I think you have to do it very simply, using very small words.

    At 7:08 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

    OK! I've posted my response, not on your blog, but on his, and not to that post, but to his next post.

    We'll see if he takes the bait!

    The Bait

    At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Marissa said...

    I think it's worthwhile to have a discussion with someone who is open to new ideas and is looking to be a better person, but this gentleman (Althusius?) definitely is not of the open-minded type, as proven by his "Christianity is the one true religion" stance. It's just not worth trying to reason with people like that. He's made up his mind and anything you say he will just take as a personal attack. These are beliefs he's probably been brought up with since birth and close-mindedness about the whole thing is seen as a virtue to people like him. It's unfortunate that he can't get his head out of... the ground. :D

    At 8:07 AM, Blogger mistipurple said...

    i think it is difficult to discuss anything with anyone who is not ready to have an open mind first.

    At 10:32 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

    Darius...sounds like an interesting adventure you've had on the anti-prejudice issue.

    It's sad to see this. I hear it too. Not just anti-Islam but anti-Americanism from some people I hear from around the world.

    All this saddens me, but says we must all show greater understanding and work to get beyond the TV news stories.


    At 11:36 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

    Yeah, I think it's very worthwhile and constructive to debate most things. Basically, by debating and discussing an issue you're saying that each of your opinions and right to an opinion is important and has some value. Then by discussing you also imply that a person can change one's viewpoint and doesn't have to neccesarily remain attached to their current viewpoint.

    I think this reverts to that logic where it's a better situation, you have more in common and are less likely to respond in an extremist manner when you are talking. When talk breaks down, then there are problems. It's good to talk.

    At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hope all is well for you upthere I liked what Lee said "All religions should put more effort into getting their own house in order rather than criticising others.". In Islam as I understand it clearly as a Muslim you should respect other religion but once you loose this aspect problems arise.

    I think we need to allow to understand eachother's culture. At times certain ways it takes time for other who are from different culture, religion to comprehend. For instance a simple eating habits for muslims to eat with their hands seems unciviliazed in other culture.


    At 12:33 PM, Blogger kevin beck said...

    I don't think you can reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into in the first place.

    The best anti-bigot commentary I've ever seen was on Dave Chappelle's Show, where Chappelle plays a blind black man who thins he is white and he is a KKK leader Clayton Bigsby.

    At 1:11 PM, Blogger goatman said...

    I think it odd that few of us would know what "islam" is and the Arabs would continue to ride their camels as nomads in the desert were it not for oil.
    Almost sounds like a master plan to place us on this planet, give us free will to develop as we might, and then watch the fun ensue. Personally I am enjoying the show!
    Peace, if you dare.

    At 3:10 PM, Blogger Yves said...

    I'm pro-Muslim because I live in a town which is 15% Pakistani and I know how much the kindness, openness and pragmatic humanity of muslims in their everyday dealings have enhanced life in Britain. In this same town, several alleged terrorists were rounded up the other day following the big air travel security alert. As I have described in this blog the consequences upon our community have been----nothing at all! The Irish Republican Army were/are Catholics. No one but a crazed bigot would suggest that terrorism is a feature of the Catholic religion, even though some priests used to protect IRA members from facing the law.

    Bigotry is especially ugly when it comes from those who should know better, like heads of state, or those who hide behind a religion and thus claim to be inspired by divine wisdom.

    Being pro-Muslim does not mean being against their opponents. This is not like supporting a team. If they involve themselves in war or atrocities, I don't support that.

    At 4:50 PM, Blogger Darius said...

    LADY WORDSMITH: Because it was no big deal and half of you had it figured out anyway - !

    The two blogs had nothing in common thematically - that's why I separated them. I may end up letting RD go but would continue to post to people who were commenting there. For a totally wacky blog, it got comments from a number of really bright, thoughtful people.

    JIM: I couldn't agree more. Maybe one way to think of it is that irrational hatred and massive overgeneralization and sterotyping is, like music, a universal language, only it sounds a hell of a lot worse.

    LEE: Thanks Lee, you make so many good points. To pick up on one, I think that's exactly right:

    On the one hand, people can view conversation primarily as a way to explore a topic. On the other, they can start with the assumption that they are necessarily 100% correct, can't possibly have anything to learn from the other person - who is viewed as having fundamentally bad motives for holding his/her views; and make the conversation a kind of verbal war where, as you say, the other person is attacked right along with their ideas.

    THURSDAYNEXT: Thanks, and look forward to hearing more from you.

    PAULINE, MARISSA, BENJAMIN, MISTIPURPLE: All of you directly address whether it's a good idea to speak out against bigotry, and imo you all make good points both for and against, which I guess is why I'm conflicted.

    For myself, a long time ago I decided it was useless and even counterproductive to talk religion with fundamentalists. And while fundmentalists certainly aren't necessarily bigoted, I think there are what might be termed "cognitive style" similarities between religious fundamentalism and prejudice.

    Religious fundamentalists "know" they're absolutely right about religious matters and therefore that others are absolutely wrong. As with prejudice, opinion is taken for fact; rigidifies; and, in the face of challenging ideas or evidence, typically undergoes little to no modification and may just become further entrenched.

    So I learned it was just as well not to talk privately about religion with fundamentalists. I could never see that it did any good.

    But now, what with the rise of religious fundamentalism to political prominence, and lately the phenomenon of seeing anti-Islamic stuff out on the blogs, which are also kind of a public domain, it's made me rethink whether it's best to be quiet. Having the public conversation be one sided doesn't seem right.

    MATTHEW: But when you think about it, the biggest thing you missed out on (imo) was an ode to french fries with shake.

    That cartoon on your link is great! Did you do that? That one on your blog was good too...

    It illustrates the mind-numbing oversimplification of what passes today for public "discourse."

    DON I: Yes - the anti Americanism is for sure on the rise. I remember hearing some poll maybe a month ago about how for the first time a lot of people around the world are not just anti US government, but anti-American people. As I recall, this followed Bush's reelection; so that it seems the American people have become moreidentified with supporting his policies, even though, of course, half of America voted against him.

    NASRA: Yes, the lack of cross cultural understanding really hurts. I was amazed, after the US went into Iraq and Afghanistan, to hear how limited the US is even in terms of people who speak the languages.

    KEVIN: That's my feeling too - that bigotry is so irrational that reason alone is seldom if ever enough to change the person's mind. There are plenty of perfectly intelligent people with bigoted attitudes.

    Thanks for the link, I'll take a look -

    GOATMAN: Not quite following... Have to say that for myself, I've never enjoyed the show less at any time of my life. I think I could probably only enjoy it if I were an apocalyptic Christian because I'd be convinced that if we mess things up badly enough, it will bring Christ coming on the clouds right after we totally screw ourselves.

    But if that happens, I think all there will be is a whole lot of misery. Or even if somebody does come on the clouds, I imagine another fundamentalist holy war will break out because Muslim fundamentalists will say it's Mohammed, Christian fundamentalists will say it's Jesus, and Jewish fundamentalists will say it's the real Messiah they've been waiting for.

    I think there's a joke in there somewhere, or at least should be...

    YVES: Great points, thanks for the link. Another good bit of history to point to there with the IRA - for those who like to think all the "bad guys" are Muslims.

    Really like your "team" analogy, which showcases how laughable bigotry would be if it didn't have such consequences. The notion that our ethnic group, religion, or nationality is a "team" each of us should "fight" for could be entertaining if only we were shooting hoops instead of missiles.

    And the stark reality, staring us all in the face, is that the real world consists of a finite sphere that we have to share peacefully or face consequences that end up reverberating negatively for generations to come.

    At 5:27 PM, Blogger Lillie said...

    I quite agree with Lee on the whole issue, but I wonder if you could have chosen your audience better or continued your discussion somewhere besides the PBS site. I suspect that, aside from the issue you bring up here, you side-swiped a lot of people who were expecting the silly guy and so they were doubly offended to be dressed down--by pugnacious, flirtatious and yet loquacious Percy, no less!
    Certainly even the silliest people can make a stand against bigotry, but perhaps taking your readers expectations, and disappointment, into consideration would have helped.
    Nice to see you come out, PBS. Will Darius do so too?

    At 6:10 PM, Blogger boneman said...

    Alas, a hoard of folks who dare t'believe what you said is true.
    Well, shoot! Of course! Truth is much easier t'do.
    But danged if I din't go "bad"
    and wander over t'the bigot's "pad"
    and give him what for just like matthew.

    Now, I realize that this puts me
    at odds with the good man, Lee.
    There is NO triumph of evil
    only mankind's upheavel
    for t'battle evil that's what we have t'be.

    I can't pretend t'have all the answers
    as many of the neo-christian dancers.
    they turn phrases t'match
    their whatever patch
    then they pull out their spears and become holy lancers.

    We must each of us follow our own calling.
    To do otherwise and we'de be falling
    into worshipping lies
    and thus praising the flies
    that eat the flesh of the enemy we're maulling.

    Perhaps just go our own way?
    But, surely the evil won't be stayed.
    Probably come for us one day in the future, eh?

    Of course, if I believe that
    I'de have t'put on my humble pie hat
    and go over t'athusius and remove
    the comment showing my reprove
    there, it's done! Like a good shat!


    However, in that case I think
    y'can't make good another's bad stink
    each has t'clean their own life.
    And, they've a lifetime t'do it
    not for us t'approve it,
    t'cut the evil clean away with a knife.

    And, what of the bigotry, then?
    Is there an answerin'?
    Or are we stuck with ignorin' their prattle?
    Heck, that's what I try t'do.
    And, t'be sure, that's mine, not neccessarily fer you,
    Just leave the babies to their rattles.

    At 6:43 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

    ** Is it useless, or even counterproductive to discuss bigotry with someone who has bigoted attitudes?

    We should be able to discuss it with anyone and get across the message. Thats what matters. No point discussing matters with ppl who always agree. Isnt it :)


    At 6:57 PM, Blogger Darius said...

    LILLIE: I was posting to people from the RD blog as usual. Then I ran into some anti Islamic commentary on a few of those blogs and I responded.

    Bigotry is an issue I feel strongly about. Disagree doesn't equal "dressing down," imo.

    I don't follow the rest of your comment so you'd need to elaborate.

    BONEMAN: You do realize you've become compulsive about writing things in the style of silly poetry, right, lol?!

    Please - tell me my other blog is not reponsible for this!

    But I think your bottom line makes a lot of sense, which, if my "literary analysis" here is correct, means that you think that people with prejudiced attitudes basically have to see the light for themselves or it ain't gonna happen.

    KESHI, good point - which is why I'm still not sure what I think! Per my reply above to Pauline etc.

    At 9:17 PM, Blogger Ghost Particle said...

    //"As soon as we lose the moral basis, we cease to be religious. There is no such thing as religion over-riding morality. Man, for instance, cannot be untruthful, cruel or incontinent and claim to have God on his side."// - Ghandi

    At 1:33 AM, Blogger crystal said...

    I didn't realize you had another blog ... and I like PBS too. Have you seen the movie Rowing with the Wind, about Shelley and Byron?

    Most of the time when people argue issues, they are either preaching to the choir or their words are falling on deaf ears, or so it seems. But once in a while, someone will actually change their mind based on new info or old info presented in a new way ... and even if that never happens, I think it is a good thing to state what you believe to be true. - the world is what we make it.

    At 3:29 AM, Blogger christabelle said...

    I dont support bigotry at all, but I still dnt appreciate the violent part of Islam, someone once told me that there is a verse in the holy Quoran which says "pursue the heathens, cut off their heads" now I dnt know whether this is true but if it is then thats nt gospel to me at all.

    Darius, I still think the simple answer to all this is LOVE.

    At 5:19 AM, Blogger samuru999 said...

    Bigotry is wounding our soul...
    If only those of a nature of bigotry realized their attitudes are as damageing to themselves as
    to others!
    Love is the answer to all!

    At 6:05 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

    hee hee heeee. this is so much fun!

    At 6:06 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

    Darius -

    Oh, no! That is NOT my webcomic. I wish it were, but I had nothing to do with it.

    At 9:57 AM, Blogger Darius said...

    GHOST PARTICLE: Great quote. Frankly I think that much of Christian theology has done a disservice to its own heritage by minimizing the numerous scriptural verses relating to the importance of good works - which pretty much equals the "morality" of your quote - and claiming that pretty much all that really counts is believing the correct doctrine.

    To me, this sounds like a recipe for, if not intolerance, at least failure to appreciate the merits of other traditions.

    CHRISTABELLE: I agree about the centrality of love. And whether it's termed mercy, compassion, agape etc, if figures large in all major world religions.

    Without going into a lot of detail here, since I just did that on my last post to my other blog (it's referenced by this post) let me just say this:

    People who are unfamiliar with Islam - say who haven't read the Quran themselves - really need to take what they see online about Islam, especially in the current climate, with a grain of salt. Make that a shakerful!

    Any religion can easily be misrepresented by pointing to violent people who don't understand their own tradition and by picking out lines of scripture that are translated dubiously, or are taken out of context, or are simply not representative of the scripture as a whole - and then putting the worst possible interpretation on them. It's a game, and an ugly one.

    You could do that with the New Testament too - and I'd bet 100 to 1 that, just as intolerant Christians try to paint Islam black, there are intolerant Muslims misrepresenting Christianity with the same sort of tactics.

    CRYSTAL: No, I haven't - that's neat that they've done a movie on them.

    Sounds right to me - that probably 99% of the time you're preaching to the choir or it's falling on deaf ears, but once in a great while...

    SAMURU999: That's an important thought - that bigoted attitudes are harmful to the person holding them as well as others. Shrinks the soul, imo...

    MATTHEW: Your comic was good too. I hadn't known you could draw like that...

    At 11:53 AM, Blogger Lady Wordsmith said...

    Gentle and kind greetings to you, my brilliant and literary friend. (And hopes you won’t mind my not so shy requests.)

    I make presence known to you here, and now, with a humble plea for your help – if only you can take a moment away from your lessons and teachings…

    Please look here and see that I have called you out. ‘Tis for the favour of your talent and skill I call on to help make a wish -- wish #38 -- come true.
    (And if there be others, you wish to make so … to be sure, I shan’t say “No.”)

    With blessings and thanks, ever yours

    At 2:06 PM, Blogger boneman said...

    Yeah, sure, it's all yer fault....
    and J Cosmo and k9
    and anyone else I can entwine
    t'believe that this rhyming vault

    Was opened by others.
    Then again, I doubt it, but, it has been such fun!
    I be rhyming almost everywhere, and t'most everyone.

    And the competition I mentioned has fallen flat on its fanny, too.
    Unless you'de care t'try t'help?
    We could use a good sleuth like you.

    At 6:01 PM, Blogger Aidan said...

    Gee thanks darius... Annother blog to read:) your lucky i have nothing better to do with my life:)

    If there is only one nation of heaven then all passports are valid. - martel. "the life of pi"

    Its amazing how many people will criticise annother religion or race knowing nothing about it. I know quite a few muslim men and women most of which i had no idea about their religion until they told me.

    The more i grow and the more i see, the one thing that strikes me is this... people are people. Reguardless if you are muslim, christain, agnostic, hindu or anything else inbetween. People wake up and worry about the same stuff kids, jobs, and money. We just worship different things.

    But that is not what sells papers, we want to be scared we want an enemy, germans, terrorism, satan. We want to be victors even against an intangiable foe. Thats why our papers and news casts sensattionalise the world, because it sells and is "interesting" . the fine line between entertainment and war.

    This is the main reason why i dont watch television, i wqould rather think for myself.

    A true war on terrorism would be a lot of soothing music and free masages for everyone, there would be no terror no stupid fear, just people relaxed and thinking clearly.

    At 7:56 AM, Blogger Darius said...

    LADY W: Will do...

    BONEMAN: Well that's one burden I can put down then, lol...

    Yeah, no one seems to have picked up on your nickel concept there... Maybe you'd need to flesh it out a bit?

    Would work better on your blog or my RD blog though, since most people who have been checking in on this blog haven't been into any of that; and at some point I'll be returning this blog to its normal subject matter, which is spirituality/religion.

    AIDAN: I think my RD posts are apt to slow down though... I'm in process of giving some attention to how to better do the sprituality/religion thing on the web... And RD is normally just wacky...

    "People are people" - I think so too. Yes there are cultural differences, different religious perspectives etc., but this doesn't make others Martians or something so terribly strange. I think the "differences" thing can be overstated. We are, after all, one species.

    And imo the "war on terrorism" has no end unless we do better at understanding why it's happening than just going, "Because they're evildoers who hate freedom, love, life, and light. They love darkness, death, and misery."

    I realize this is now how patriotic Americans are supposed to think under the insightful leadership of the Bush administration; but I'm just not seeing how it's getting us anywhere or getting the wider world anywhere. Maybe it's just me, but I don't feel the world's become a safer and more peaceful place in recent years.

    At 9:32 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...


    No, the world doesn't seem to have become a happier or safer place in recent years.

    I think this post is highly applicable to the usual discussions of religion/spirituality and highly relevant. The debate that you calmly preside over here, Darius, seems so intelligent and thoughtful that I kind of wish you would discuss these points more often.

    In the spirit of healthy debate that I advocated in my earlier comment, Darius, I have a question for you.

    As to the stated problematic difference of opinions between you and this other person, whose views do you think are the more valid or truthful?


    At 12:09 PM, Blogger pissed off patricia said...

    Seems to me some of them are just so pissed about something that they take out their anger on whatever comes along. Maybe the anger comes from being basically used by the administration and they can't admit it so they just lash out at everything.

    When I try discussing things with them they try to change the subject over and over. I think this happens when they think I'm making too much sense.

    At 1:23 PM, Blogger Darius said...

    BENJAMIN: That's true - anti Islamic or any form of prejudice relates to spirituality/religion. Also most or all of the "hot button" issues for religious conservatives - abortion, homosexuality, stem cell research, prayer in the schools...

    As far as prejudice goes, I'd need to be shown at least a semi-rational argument in favor of it in order to think it might be a matter of opinion and not fact. As far as I can tell, prejudice is not only morally wrong, but wrong in a factual sense.

    PO PATRICIA: Yes, there's certainly a lack of thoughtful discussion of serious issues in most segments of the media - including, I guess, the blogosphere. Polarized slogans, sound bites, and a total focus on "winning the debate" and employing whatever tactics will contribute to that end, makes for a large listening deficit. When people seldom hear each other unless they're talking to somebody who already thinks the same way, their views are seldom modified.

    At 2:45 PM, Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

    It depends. The anti-Muslim bigots are very tough--particularly the ones who see God on their side and blame the events of the news as proof, forgetting the Christian Crusades, the pograms against Jews, the pope's so-called holy war again Islam in Spain...I am a Christian who reads the Koran as well; I have Muslim friends who pray for me and I for them. I don't pray for them to come to Christ, nor do they pray for me to come to Allah. God is God. We reduce him through our simple paradigms of religion. I pray for their well-being and they for mine.

    I regret that Christians disgrace the love of Jesus with all this hate. Christ loved everyone--he spoke to the Samaritan woman when Jews were forbidden to have dealings with them. He was not prejudiced in any way, except against hypocrites. God knows the heart. A prayerful Muslim who is loving and kind is more favorable in his eyes than the judgmental hate-filled Christian. God knows who belongs with him and who doesn't. Some people need to remember that he is much bigger than anything we can comprehend.

    I haven't completely answered your question, but I think there are people that cannot discuss anything but their own hate. Sometimes it is best to leave them alone because only more anger is born.

    At 6:00 PM, Blogger Darius said...

    ENEMY OF THE R: An interesting thing about scripture is that it has such an assortment of material that I think which aspects and verses people choose to emphasize says a lot about where they're coming from themselves.

    At 6:29 PM, Blogger Angela said...

    No, I don't believe people can reason their way out of prejudices. In my opinion, all prejudices are based in fear and until the bigoted are able to consciously recognize the motivation for their prejudice they will not be able to make steps to change their point of view. Once the fear is brought to the forefront, the person may only then be able to rationalize why the fear is unrealistic or useless.

    At 7:32 PM, Anonymous SH said...

    It's not surprising that so many Americans are so paranoid about Muslims these days. One only has to watch mainstream media for a bit to learn who our "true enemies" are. It's almost impossible to argue the facts with people who are not willing to listen. In my experience, if you see that the opponent is not open to seriously considering a different point of view it is better to just walk away - saves you some time.

    At 6:20 AM, Blogger Darius said...

    ANGELA: I very much agree with you about fear as fundamental to bigotry. Fundamentally, for example, fundamentalists, whether Christian or Muslim, find each other deeply threatening. Each has a book that says, "Every word of this book is the Absolute Truth" - but the books don't say exactly the same things...

    SH: Yes - walking away and saving time... I'm leaning in that direction, just as a practical matter. There's no point in spending further hours trying to communicate once you catch on to the idea that the other person views you as an opponent and doesn't really want to communicate about the issue.

    At 10:12 AM, Blogger FrenchExpat said...

    I am not in America, so I can't talk about this, but here in Britain, especially in Scotland and of course Northern Ireland, there is a big problem with bigotry.

    It's been addressed by the Scottish parliament several times and it's everywhere. One example: Glasgow or Edinburgh each have 2 soccer teams: One Catholic and one Protestant. What does religion have to do with soccer? Well, The Catholic team wear green, which is the colour of the Republic of Ireland, a Catholic nation that did not want to have anything to do with the UK and the Conservative government that ruled it for so long. Left-wing people who hate the Kindgom and what it stands for, mainly Catholic, support the team in green. On the other side, the Protestant team fans wave UK flags, sing "God Save the Queen" and believe the Catholics are the enemy within. Of course, the reality is not always so black and white, but you get a lot of that, and don't forget that soccer here is huge among the working-class.

    The division between Catholics and Protestants over here is multi-dimentional. It is about religion, but also aboput politics and history. You can talk about everything in the pubs, but don't ever talk about Catholics or Protestants, 'cause you could get into serious trouble!

    I sympathize with the Protestant cause, but I have friends on both sides. I have this friend who's a great guy despite being a bigot. He refuses to have any kind of discussion with "those Catholics" he hates with a passion! Because this hatred was so enthused in him by his family, his hometown and his minister, the topic is way too visceral and emotional. There is no room for the rational mind!

    The only way you can get through is certainly not by trying to show him he's wrong, even in the nicest way possible: It makes my friend feel like a wounded animal ready to bite. The only way is to give specific examples showing that there are some good people on the other side too, and that there are a few similarities that unite Catholics and Protestants. This is a good place to build on, but it's building on sand, so nothing heavy could ever stand on bigots' lands.

    When nothing works, instead of cursing up a storm, I think it's best walking away. Hopefully, they can learn of our example, the same way we all learn from others.

    At 11:15 AM, Blogger gautami tripathy said...

    Ha..I didn't know you were percival! That does not matter though,I like both the personalities..:)

    Coming back to the discussion....

    I too find something very disturbing. Here in India, the country which is considered secular, Hindus and Muslims have always lived in peace. I should say used to lived. Slowly its changing. The tolerant Hindus are slowly turning anti-muslim. Whenever I argue that not all muslims are terrorist, I am dubbed as anti-Hindu? Am I? My religion teaches me all religion are equal.

    And who are we to judge whats good or bad in any religion other than ours?

    At 12:30 PM, Blogger Darius said...

    FRENCHXPAT: You write, "The only way is to give specific examples showing that there are some good people on the other side too..."

    To my mind there's a great deal of truth to that. Along similar lines, in my own experience, I've seen the least bigotry in the most diverse neighborhoods. It's a lot harder to demonize somebody who answers your questions from behind the pharmacy counter or who you get to know because she teaches your kid...

    GAUTAMI: Thanks, but do let me hasten to add that Darius is the one who's the real me! "Percival" is just a character - except when it came to bigotry, at which point Darius seems to have taken over...

    That's a shame - about the increase of antagonism between Hindus and Muslims in India. Seems like the whole world is becoming less sane on many fronts.

    Sure do wish that Christianity also taught that all religions are equal. Although unfortunately this isn't a formal teaching in Christianity, and there are many scriptural passages that can even be used to claim that Christians should consider themselves "number one," there are plenty of Christians who reject this ridiculous notion.

    At 10:43 PM, Anonymous grumble said...

    Bigotry isn't an issue that will
    respond to topical treatment- there
    is no magic potion, pill, or pretty
    speech which can be applied from without to wonderously alleviate
    what may be an irrational custom.
    About all one can hope is that,
    in a saner moment, some part of reason will help the other guy to relieve whatever inner tensions that may lead to bigotry, in them-selves.
    Preachments are probably counter-productive and too aggressive to be
    of much use

    At 3:19 AM, Blogger Known Stranger said...

    leave it my dear brother. on anti muslim. if some one wants to change they will do it themselves. some time awarness is not the right method. if one has to know the pain of pregnancy only when she undergo it will be realised.
    only when headache comes the feel of headache will be felt is one saying in india.

    Fine - if some has the right to defend some has the right to offend.

    any way io am not anti muslim or any relgion but have regret on what christian missonary does in india but i am not having anti feeling.

    religion is someones faith he bestow with.

    if the humanity matures to understand what ever the faith - the ultimate is he is going to perish into the soil or with nature in one way or other.

    The whole concept comes from the issue which god is superior your or mine.. but my question is if there is a god - why does he come through differnt men to establish the concept of religion.

    do those god in where were they abode does the fight - as hindu gods have weapons of destruction .

    so does hindu god win the fight among gods if it is assumed there are different religion and respective god.

    if so hinduism has plenty of gods with various all kind of destructive equioment including like nuclear and more worse to give effect.. if that is the case hindu gods should win the fight.

    then hinduism should be the major religion followed across the world.

    just trying to make an imagination. - how funny it sounds.
    bull shit the religion.

    we are all humans. we have our own of living the life. let us be confined it to way of living than fundamentilsm to the faith we adher to live toward perishing with nature.


    At 5:45 AM, Blogger Darius said...

    GRUMBLE: I see a consensus building toward your position here, and definitely have been experiencing the futility in the discussion with A.

    Guess I was hoping that the blatant stupidity of bigotry, on a rational level, was so obvious that, spelled out, even someone with a prejudice would have to recognize it. Usually it's discussed in moral terms, and of course it's wrong in that sense too. But it seems that pointing out that 2 + 2 is not 5 doesn't work either.

    And while taking a laid back position and figuring that people just have to see it for themselves appears to the most realistic thing, it's troubling that bigotry just seems to resurface generation after generation. So we go from irrational hatred of blacks, Jews, the Japanese, now the Muslims...

    If only people could get it that bigotry per se, as a vast and demonstrably unjustified negative overgeneralization, is wrong both intellectually and morally, maybe it could start disappearing - period.

    But maybe not. As the Beatles sang, "Nothing's gonna change my world." Of course John Lennon went on to sing, "Imagine." Of course then he was shot dead. Let me stop now before I confuse myself further...

    KNOWN STRANGER: Ha! Love it! Yes, it sounds like the Hindu gods should "win," they've got more powers! Although with Christians having that resurrection thing going, it might end up in a stalemate...

    I appreciate your silly approach to theological matters, which I very much share.

    Interesting, your thought about "perishing into nature" and sounding at peace with that. You seem to juxtapose it with faith.

    What if the two might be compatible and "perishing" only tells half the story?

    At 12:09 PM, Blogger White Forest said...

    hmm..ncie read agian !

    At 7:50 AM, Blogger boneman said...

    Boneman; I just gotta tell ya the truth. Talking poetry all the time sucks. OK, some people like it, but I don't, really. it's driving me frick'n crazy & not in a nice way.

    What a heartbreak t'see this.
    oh well, what the heck,
    reckon I knew some were bothered.
    But, meaning no harm
    and, even having more charm
    (ie; not much charm in m'response t'altusius...which, by the way, carries a name of a person who may also disagree with him...)

    but, alas, all the rhymes do have one negative result.
    And, though hard t'put yer finger on it, it's as infectious as a cult.
    Like a tune in yer head like it not or love it well
    just keeps playing over and over and over and over,....ok. We get it.

    But, sometimes with the poetry, others pick up[ the cause of rhyme.
    Find themselves spitting it out, though, maybe not all the time.

    Still, it slows y'down a bit. Makes ya use yer head.
    Instead of just using the words that we've heard, that others have said.

    So, can I assume after Sunday, your last bigotry publish at Romantic Dandy
    will bring this site back in line with it's original idea intact, and

    RD will continue its own course?
    Back to living better thru good rhymes
    While Darius returns to the questions he posed at this site's inception.
    Though it would seem they both cross, as it were, and many times.
    That figures when you consider just how much of our bible is a poetic invention.

    At 9:02 AM, Blogger Darius said...

    WHITE FOREST, thanks -

    BONEMAN: But at least your first paragraph is prose. That said, it does seem to be addressed to yourself, which isn't always a good sign, lol!

    At 7:24 PM, Blogger Rauf said...

    Hello Darius
    Shelly ? He couldn't love water. Poor chap, fear of water killed him. Perhaps Mary was more romantic, carried his heart in a jar where ever she went. For me Darius, Mary's life is more interesting, specially her background. Her father was a big influence on PS

    You can't shut them all Darius, please stop arguing. You'll end up ruining your day.

    At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

    I have read every comment here with great interest. Thank you all for your insights. In my opinion, you can't change bigotry and prejudice, which are both irrational, by rational means. What's needed is not a change in thinking but a change of heart. And this, as others have pointed out, can only occur through positive interaction with the demonized "other." Or perhaps by being cast into the role of the demonized "other" one's self in such a way that the heart opens in love instead of hardening into further hate.

    That doesn't mean people shouldn't attempt to discuss the issue, however, because, again as others have pointed out, our silence may be taken as consent. There often comes a time though when one reaches a point of negative return. I think that's because once the bigoted person's ego becomes involved in defending his/her viewpoint, that person is less likely to ever concede a point let alone be willing to walking a mile in someone else's shoes.

    And, yes, Darius, this discussion is quite appropriate to this blog. Glad you crossed the particle divide and posted it here.

    At 8:08 AM, Blogger boneman said...


    Just can't remember his name
    Though, I liked his paintings, just the same.

    Always the Honor shined,
    though occassionally in a clowning mood hede show someone's behind....

    anyway, looks t'be too early fer the RD post, eh?

    At 8:09 AM, Blogger Darius said...

    RAUF: What I most remember about Shelley was being blown away, pun intended, by "Ode to the West Wind" when I read it as a freshman in college.

    Yes, once you see that someone reacts to reasoned responses by not truly engaging with them, it's just arguing.

    While it hasn't ruined my day, it has become boring, so I'm done addressing A. as I've indicated on the other blog -except perhaps for a final post there that will be - well, more or less ridiculous, at least was fun to write, and will be followed by no further attempts at rational discourse!

    RACHEL: Thanks for a comment that really summarizes the thread and draws what strikes me as a sound conclusion.

    At 4:07 PM, Blogger Lady Lux said...

    everybody seemed so expressive....like...nothing I say would matter really...no point....everybody seemed to know what they were talking about...such cut throat words....

    And although I understand fully how so many feel about Islam or muslims...in my country...we so co exist harmoniously.

    I do not regard terrorists as truly muslim...I have had so many muslim friends....they are just like me...we laugh...we cry....I even chide my muslim girlfriends when they don't wear their veils...or abaya...

    see...my comments seem silly inadequate...

    well...Please relay to Mr. Percy how ruly admirable he is...I read everything with such a smile...seeing in my mind some valiant hero out to slash and slay the dragons of bigotry...

    Percy is as much a hero as those men fighting out there in the wormholes of Iraq. His country should be proud of him....

    reading Percy...reading this... made me a better person....

    made me think deeply...about my stand with regard to certain issues...
    truly mesmerized...

    At 6:29 PM, Blogger Darius said...

    LUX: I think your comment's eloquent and gets at the real thing: you can only hang onto prejudice if either A) you don't have any actual relationships with people belonging to a particular group, so you imagine whatever you want, or B) you've managed to close your mind to the point where even if you were surrounded every day by members of the "bad" group, you'd never be open to recognizing the fact of their humanity and never form any relationships with them.

    As you say, if you really interact with people and are in the least open to the experience, all you're going to find out is that they're human beings.

    At 6:39 PM, Blogger Hayden said...

    IMHO it is important to stand up and be counted, not to allow the haters to think that the world supports/endorses their view.

    But I don't think conversation changes bigotry.

    My guess is that hatred and bigotry are only cured by personal experience, direct or indirect.

    At 9:06 PM, Blogger Bird said...

    you have quite a talent mr. darius/percy....

    i'm enjoying both your blogs.

    At 8:47 AM, Blogger Darius said...

    HAYDEN: Good point - to not speak out is like tacitly endorsing it.

    Yes, about experience. I think of somebody in my extended family who's expressed racist attitudes - almost unconsciously, not in a vicious sort of way. But I'm also pretty sure he's never known an African American in his life! If he did, I think his own good nature would make him revise.

    BIRD, thank you -

    At 12:51 AM, Blogger Dale said...

    When I first was roaming the web I argued a lot. It seemed like, finally, I had the chance I'd always wanted to actually talk back to these people, refute them, make them see!

    But in all that arguing, I think maybe I modified a couple people's perception of a couple issues a little bit. And we're talking hundreds, possibly thousands of hours, and I think really I'm pretty eloquent.

    So now -- I don't think it's a complete waste of time, but I think that compared to talking with people who are in a receptive frame of mind, or rendering aid and comfort to those who are suffering, it's just not worth it.

    But there's another reason I don't do it any more, which is that I found that it plunged me into a very narrow angry state of mind. I could feel myself getting more stupid and more rigid and more belligerant with every argumentative sentence I wrote and every clever retort I thought up. I was training myself, in other words, to be a bigot. Searching every experience or report of the world for bits that supported my views, and filtering out whatever didn't. The one person I was definitely changing was myself, and not for the better.

    So I don't do it any more. Life is too short, and clarity of mind is too precious.

    At 7:58 AM, Blogger Darius said...

    DALE: I know exactly what you mean, and sometimes this sort of thing affects me the same way. But even though I've found I've been able to step back and proceed, I've found that going on with it is truly pointless and very boring once you realize the person you're trying to converse with assumes he's necessarily right and his game is always to "prove" this, one way or another. You could be Einstein and the Buddha all rolled into one but your points, under these conditions, would never be taken.

    Like you say, life's too short.

    At 7:32 PM, Blogger anonymous julie said...

    It really is useless to argue... I've come up against prejudice, and by them was accused of being prejudiced myself. So it goes...

    As a friend's aunt would say, "Ya gotta love 'em down, just love 'em down." The end to blind fear and hatred is understanding... and I think that's best found in a one-to-one connection with another human being, to break the stereotype - that some people fit that stereotype, but most are just people, just like us.

    At 8:14 PM, Blogger I_Wonder said...

    Thanks for your words of tolerance. I appreciate them.

    At 10:20 AM, Blogger Darius said...

    AJ: True - you can probably only have a chance to get through if you have a personal relationship to the individual.

    I_WONDER: Thanks for checking in. I've bookmarked your blog so when I'm able to get back to blogging I'll stop in. I'm afraid it's likely to be at least another 2 or 3 months, but "I shall return..."

    At 12:32 AM, Blogger jim said...

    It doesn't matter to me who you are, it is only what you say and do that is immediate.

    I prefer generalities because they are non-specific, non-ego, in spite of what may be thought, they do not evade the issue or turn have to necessarily turn into bigotry.

    Violence is violence, patience is patience, both can be measured by humans, animals have no sense of time, humans do. Animals do not compile data, humans do, it is time referenced. Generalities is time referenced, not animalistic 3D without the benefit of time understanding, the TOLL.

    There is a new gospel. But it came in way before Jesus, and since has been ignored and hated and refuted. But it exists and there is more to come, what?


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