Saturday, May 23, 2015

Arguing with people who know they're right

I try not to be drawn into pointless Facebook arguments, and it is never a wise idea to argue with anyone about religion. 

Yet I have become enmeshed in an unfolding and probably never ending dialogue with people who are extremely faithful Christians. My role has become "doubting Thomas" but a worse version, more like "Don't you see that your faith keeps you trapped in a thoughtless vacuum bubble Thomas." 

For example, one of these people, whom I will not name, posted a photo of a surgical team in an unnamed hospital engaging in a prayer circle. Perhaps it was a stock photo or staged for some reason. 

I took the bait and posted that if I saw nurses and surgeons at a hospital in which I was a patient performing such a rite, I would drag myself to another hospital. And rhetorically, I posed the question, "If you were in a hospital in which the surgeons danced weirdly with a monkey skull before your surgery would you be as sanguine?"

The point being, a show of familiar faith is one thing; a show of an unfamiliar faith is something different, and perhaps disturbing. Ultimately the idea was, could you imagine yourself as a Christian in a foreign non-Christian nation, undergoing surgery, and how would you feel is a heathen rite was performed on your behalf?

The response was purposely (I assume) obtuse. Was I against freedom of prayer? Was I not aware that the group in the photo was praying to God, not a monkey skull.  No one addressed my questions but that should not have surprised me.

If you believe you know the truth based on a 2,000-year-old book, or a story passed down from 2,000 years ago that seems like many other myths, then no argument can sway you. 

These's something about that frame of mind that I find frightening. What's the difference between being certain of Christianity and being certain of Islam?  Or, for that matter, any other absolutist philosophy, including Nazism, or Communism?  

So I swore on a Facebook of electrons not to engage in any more useless arguments with these people, some of whom are sort of obnoxiously all-knowing in a restricted claustrophobic kind of way.

Freedom of speech, as I posted, also means freedom from speech, which is as easy as killing a Facebook account. And eliminating a Facebook account is about as easy as obtaining a tour of North Korea's nuclear weapons plant. 

So, there you have it. Would Jesus be on Facebook, assuming he ever existed?

Umm, like, you know, right?

I was listening to Connecticut Public Radio one recent morning, during the long process of waking up and I was very impressed -- negatively -- by what I heard.

The discussion was extremely interesting and, I think, important. But some participants kept saying "you know."

Those on the radio who were professional  broadcasters typically spoke in full sentences and hardly ever used filler phrases such as "you know," "like," and so on.

Other people on the program (Wheelhouse, I believe it was) were "ya know"ing so much it made my head hurt. I am not a public speaker nor do I ever speak on radio, which is good, because I umm and hmm and uh just like everyone else.

However, I do not think I say "you know" as an all-purpose noun, preposition, semi-colon, or whatever it's being used as. I'll admit to using "like" occasionally, but I'm usually saying it for rhetorical effect, as in, "So, like, then he says, why do you have horns? And I go, you know, I'm like the devil," etc.

I am not an overzealous grammarian or  a person who diagrams sentences
 and I am aware that English usage does change over time.  

How hard is it to change one's speech to avoid saying "you know" every fifth or sixth word? That's the question. If it were as difficult as learning Latin, then I would understand why people in the communication biz say "you know" with abandon.

Otherwise, why not train yourself to stop saying "you know" constantly? You would sound better and way less irritating, especially for people who are just waking up.