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July 15, 2007



Wow. You're magnanimously stupid. Kinda reminds me of Jonah Goldberg.


Hitchens challenge to Gerson would be 'beside the point' if Gerson hadn't made an ass of himself by declaring that morality isn't possible with belief in an Invisible Friend. The only absurdity here is coming from Dr Poulus.


correction: "declaring that morality isn't possible withOUT belief in an ..."


ethical humanists, in Hitchens' words, tend by my lights to be among the most insufferably arrogant and loftily condescending people around...

Is this true of ethical humanists who are not celebrities? Isn't Bono's or Madonna's arrogance and condescension a product of their celebrity status, rather than their ethical humanism?

Look at it this way: back in 2003, there were millions of "ordinary" Americans who were opposed to invading Iraq, but the public face of the peace movement was Sean Penn. If you were irritated at Sean Penn's presumption that his celebrity status gave him some special expertise on matters of foreign policy, then ask yourself this question: why did CNN choose Sean Penn to be one of the few anti-war voices it was willing to broadcast, instead of Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, or Phyllis Bennis, or Medea Benjamin?

The fundamental problem here isn't the arrogance of celebrities, or of "ethical humanists", it's the media's refusal to report on an issue or give voice to dissent unlesss a celebrity is involved.

Bat Guano

Wow, can you say bloviating? I knew you could. That was a whole lot of effort that went to waste. I agree with Ted.

Righteous Bubba

But the moment we lose the ability, or the right, to tell them how and why they irritate is the moment that ethical humanism takes on the coercive character of which all its champions either publicly deny or in which privately they delight.

You must be in real danger posting such inflammatory material. Remember to wear a helmet: windmills don't give way when you bump into them.


Religion does not reduce to ethics, and whenever it does it stops being religion.

So what is religion? Ethics + superstition?


While my mother-in-law lies in a hospital bed after a bad car accident, her fellow choir-members/church-ladies/bridge-and-pinochle-players have pretty much figured out the schedule for the next two months of visitation/meal-cooking/wheeling-her-around-her-apartment-and-into-the-fresh-air. Beyond, of course, what my wife and I are in for.

They are Lutheran. They could have been anything. Or nothing, like myself. It just doesn't matter. This is humanity at its best.

I don't begrudge anyone their beliefs, but I sure as hell won't stand for the assumption that, because I have none, my capacity for empathy and compassion and morality are diminished. I don't need a book of fairy tales to tell me what's right. I don't need it to encourage the checks the wife and I write, or the man-hours we put in, for charity. I didn't need a book to tell me to go to my friend Bryce's house to build a wheel-chair ramp after he fell off a ladder and broke both legs. I didn't need one to go to another friends's to help after a pipe freeze-n-burst flooded half his house last winter. I don't need one to get my ass up at 5AM every Thanksgiving morning to go sell T-Shirts and coffee and hot chocolate at my town's Turkey Trot, to raise $2000 or so for Clothe-A-Child. I just do. Why? Well, I got roped in about 16 years ago, and I stayed. It's a major pain in the ass, let me tell you, because by the time I do that and then drive 2 hours down to the family, I'm already ready already for my Thanksgiving nap, and I haven't even had turkey yet! But I tell myself I just put 80-100 winter coats on kids that need them this winter, kids that don't have Mom's 255-acre farm to go to for Thanksgiving dinner. So I STFU, smile, and take two naps if I need to.

None of this is bragging, btw. It's just, unfortunately, a necessary self-defense against certain cock-knockers that would tell me I'm somehow less worthy than them because I don't bow to the same Being In The Sky.

Fuck that.


tend by my lights to be among the most insufferably arrogant and loftily condescending people around

But, alas, there is no condescencion higher than thinking you have The Path to the One True God and all who do not agree will burn in hell. So, getting a little haughty with the credulous from time to time can really be considered very minor payback.

Shawn Macomber

Wowsers, stirring up the hornet's nest, no, James?

I have no worthwhile comment to add except I like James and think he is vewy, vewy smart, not bloviating, absurd or magnaimously stupid--Christ, he's like the walking effing antithesis of those last three!


I agree. Please don't waste our time with obnoxious, nasty personal jibes at James. It only comes off as jealousy or ignorance on your part. James, I've never met you but if you were my brother or son I'd be enormously proud. (My own bro has a blog with gorgeous photos of his year working and traveling in New Zealand.)

As a mom with a special needs son, I see this in terms of need. I act to respond to his many needs and a lot of other concerns go out the window. I think the needs in Africa are great enough that it's neither here nor there why anyone is helping as long as they are. But you gotta blog about something!

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