Saturday, April 19, 2014

hobble and limp

A few minutes ago, I deleted a response to an earlier post entitled "team player." I deleted it, as much as anything because it seemed to be little more than a springboard for someone calling himself "Steve Finnell" to promote his blog.

It wasn't a malevolent post and generally I am inclined to let responses slide as long as they don't segue into some passive-aggressive self-aggrandizement.

But the response triggered in me a growing recognition that at the same time I am willing to honor the (wo)man who makes an argument, I am increasingly disinclined to honor an argument that relies for its lifeblood on the words of others.

"Steve Finnell's" remarks began with a capitalized title, "INCLUSIVE SALVATION." Snippets that I believe fairly represent the direction and tenor of the complete remarks included:
Who are those who are included in salvation?...
What did Peter preach?
1. Peter preached that Jesus was a miracle worker. (Acts 2:22)
2. Peter preached that Jesus was resurrected from the dead by God the Father.(Acts 2:24-35)
3. Peter preached that Jesus was both Lord and Christ.(Acts 2:36)
When the three thousand believe Peter, they asked "What shall we do?"(Acts 2:37)
4. Peter told them to repent and be baptized in order to have their sins forgiven.(Acts 2:38)
I do not doubt for a minute that Steve Finnell wholeheartedly believes in the argument he is making. I've heard Buddhists run similarly-based disquisitions... that the text proves my point... and by extension, I am a broad-minded and loving person. It is as if the person making the argument has so little faith in his own argument that he needs a supporting chorus and that without that chorus he might be dead in the water.

Lately, my response to this crutch-supported direction is increasingly, "Tough titty! Grow a pair! It may be that no one in the world will agree with you or give a shit what you say. Big deal! Just be honest about what you believe (eg. the Bible) and tell me what YOU think. I may agree or disagree. I may think you are more full of shit than a Christmas turkey. I may be bored stiff. ... and the same is true of you when I tell you something I think or believe."

But let's cut the crap. Expounding The Truth is just expounding Your Truth .. and that's fine. Maybe true, maybe false ... but in any case fine. Just stop 'proving' it: No one can 'prove' what is already proven -- i.e. you are just you or I am just me. (Buddhists, please put a no-abiding-self sock in it at this point.)

Once upon a time, the Vedanta Hindu Ramakrishna (1836-1886), who was called by some an avatar, instructed a student to place a holy text in a particular room. He instructed that all the doors and windows should be locked. Two days later, he instructed the student to return, unlock the room, and see if anything had changed.

I have considerable sympathy for the Steve Finnell approach to this life. Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. And God knows I have reached for similar life preservers. But just because you or I need a helping hand is no reason to be so ill-mannered as to lay that need off on someone else or to assume that because a particular text or way of thinking is glorious in my mind, it must, for some reason, be glorious in yours as well. Finnell's argument, for example, rests on the premise that because he credits the Bible, I will too. That's pretty damned presumptuous from where I sit. Even if I agreed with him, it would still be presumptuous. I am willing to credit Steve Finnell. What he thinks and believes is another matter.

OK ... enough growling.

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