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July 30, 2005

Mass a-peel

Q: What do you get when you combine The New York Daily News, Hoboken, and a slow summer news cycle?

A: The cheesiest "miracle" in recent memory...

Rope0730_1

Scores of faithful Christians converged on Hoboken, N.J., yesterday to get a firsthand glimpse of a plaster statue of Jesus that enraptured witnesses say opened one of its eyes. "It's an absolute miracle," said Peggy Dyer, 41, a traffic attendant, as she gazed into the 2-foot statue's brilliantly blue right eye.

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» Public service announcement from Pandagon
Dear Christians of America, (Usual disclaimer--this does not apply to anyone that god granted the sense of a peanut.) Let's be clear about this. Your savior, Jesus H. Christ, was not born in Dublin. He was not born in Berlin.... [Read More]

» The 14-year-old gets it from Respectful Insolence
...I see that Majikthise is also on the case, but she used a report from the New York Daily News as her source. The great thing about the article she found is that is shows that kids seem to be the most rational about this whole "miracle... [Read More]

» mouths of babes from Malice Aforethought
Majikthise reports on "the cheesiest miracle in recent memory"; news stories here and here. Scores of faithful Christians converged on Hoboken, N.J., yesterday to get a firsthand glimpse of a plaster statue of Jesus that enraptured witnesses say opened... [Read More]

» Peekaboo! Jesus sees you! from Infidels of Every Denomination
Found this via Pandagon, traced back to Majikthise, and had me a good giggle: Jesus Statue in Hoboken Opens Right (Blue) Eye My favorite quote from the article:Anthony Purvis, 11, silently stared at the statue for about 90 seconds and [Read More]

Comments

Is Christ flirting with me?

Somebody sneak in there and swap that blue eye for a brown one.

Heh. He looks like Buddy Christ.

Halleluiah, a 14-year old has more sense than the rest of them when she said "Someone just scraped the eyelid off".

It does give me some hope...slim hope, but some hope.

Hey! What happened to my forehead? And my hair? Ever hear of maintenance? That's it, everyone in Jersey is going to hell.

It does give me some hope...slim hope, but some hope

Hope for what, exactly? That another kid in an urban dystopia will grow up as jaded, cynical and spirtually barren as everyone else?

At the end of the day, who gives a rat's ass if these people say the Christ statue winked them. Personally, I couldn't care less if they said the thing came to life and danced the Tarentella...

The quantifiable "reality" of the event is not the important thing here. If some folks take away a sense of comfort or spiritual peace from what they perceive as a numinous event, then fine, why do you have to deny them that?

Because your an athiest? Well, if you are, then fine. Again, whatever blows yer skirts up. What gets me (and I realize I may be singling you out unfairly, and I am sorry for that) is how many athiests people feel almost a sense duty to mock people who have deeply held spiritual beliefs.

The only things I know for certain is that 1. I don't know everything and 2. neither does anyone else (and yes I know there's a contradiction there, let it go, I'm just trying to illustrate a point). That said, then I can't afford to dismiss the experience of others out of hand, even if it doesn't conform to my normative notions of how the world works.

There is a certain streak of gleeful malice in certain flavors of atheism, that bears an uncomfortable resemblence to the intolerance of far right wing Christianity. Why is that? Is it a sense of superiority? A kind of intellectual schadenfreude to reassure yourself of how much better and smarter you are?

At the end of the day, fundamentalists of all stripes just get up my nose.

Sorry if this is bugging y'all...this was just kind of an impulsive emotional response, fueled by a long-ass work-week and my second Guiness of the evening. I don't really mean to be harshing anyone. (That's what my regular blog is for.)

Yeah, someone probably did just "scrape the eyelid off." So what. If it brings these people closer to a little peace or maybe just to their neighbors, then fine, it's no skin off my nose...

mojo sends

Hope for what, exactly? That another kid in an urban dystopia will grow up as jaded, cynical and spirtually barren as everyone else?

Hell, if it was good enough for me....

Caveat: I wasn't from urban dystopia, but I certainly grew up jaded, cynical and spirtually barren, and proud of it.

I wouldn't be nearly as happy if I'd grown up as pious and credulous as my peer group! Not worrying about an afterlife is a one-way ticket to peace of mind, IMO.

Always, always with the blue eyes!

If you stare into it's eye..does it hypnotize you into quitting smoking?

It must be Creepy Day in the blogosphere. After reading Amanda's missive on how to have an-ex-gay-happily-married-hetero-life (shudder) and now this...I've a full on case of the icks.

My first thought was, Oh, crap, Jesus got a facial, in the porno sense - we can expect weeks of recriminations about this. Only then did I notice him giving me an eye. Now I feel all dirty.

Man, if He hadn't been such a hippy, lots of people's lives on the left and the right would be so much simpler.

"At the end of the day, who gives a rat's ass if these people say the Christ statue winked them... The quantifiable "reality" of the event is not the important thing here."

Vanmojo, where do you suggest we draw the line for publicly accessible religious discourse? If we are not allowed to question/explore the validity of religious experiences of this kind, what permits us to engage in discussions about the suicide-bomber's promise of a virgin-rich paradise? Or a mother's assertion that God instructed her to murder her children?

One person's "comfort" is another's nightmare. All modes of inquiry and experience (including those characterized as religious) should be open to careful analysis.

I wasn't from urban dystopia, but I certainly grew up jaded, cynical and spirtually barren, and proud of it.

I wouldn't be nearly as happy if I'd grown up as pious and credulous as my peer group!

Then rock on! But if someone else is getting comfort from it, why does that seem to bug you so much? (And I have to cop to some hypocrisy, because I have been a mocker as well and gotten some good laughs from other people's spiritual practices...)

I'm just saying that that it just strikes me as a tad mean, is all and for no real reason or overarching purpose other than to simply harsh someone else's buzz simply because you can...

mojo sensd

Vanmojo, where do you suggest we draw the line for publicly accessible religious discourse? If we are not allowed to question/explore the validity of religious experiences of this kind, what permits us to engage in discussions about the suicide-bomber's promise of a virgin-rich paradise? Or a mother's assertion that God instructed her to murder her children?

I said nothing about "not questioning." I am simply saying that if someone genuinely experiences something that I am not privy to, I don't necessarily feel the need dismiss them out of hand.

And are you really going with the "well, if I can't mock anyone I choose, then the terrorists win..."

Are you genunienly making a moral equivalency argument between the guy who sees a vision of the BVM in slice of toast to people who for some fairly intractable reasons want to blow themselves up in the name of God?

mojo sends

In a more direct response to the previous question. I think the point is well taken, and when there is a serious discussion of the issue of the numinous and spirtual experience, then I would like to join that.

However, it strikes me that what goes on, most of time, is folks who draw a sense of (unwarranted, IMO) superiority from a lack of any spiritual conviction whatsoever, and instead of honestly discussing or thinking about what these issues mean to people, they would simply get a good laugh at what they see as someone else's gullability.

Bullies of all stripes piss me off...Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Atheist...any of 'em...

mojo sends

"And are you really going with the "well, if I can't mock anyone I choose, then the terrorists win...""

Clearly not. And I am not here to defend mocking of any kind. I am saying that it is perfectly acceptable for us to question the validity of the winking Jesus. Just as it is acceptable to remain skeptical of other claims to God issuing specific instructions to specially-chosen persons to act in certain ways. Sometimes, these actions happen to hurt others, other times, they are harmless.

...I am not here to defend mocking of any kind. I am saying that it is perfectly acceptable for us to question the validity of the winking Jesus. Just as it is acceptable to remain skeptical of other claims to God issuing specific instructions to specially-chosen persons to act in certain ways.

And I am in complete agreement on that. As a Christian, I think one of the most important components of my faith is to never stop questioning. Sometimes the answers are there, sometimes, they are not...but I never stop looking.

And as I said before, if it weren't for being strung out from a really intense week at work, and a couple of beers afterward, I probably would've shrugged and laughed...

mojo sends

Now that my towering Jesus-based rage has subsided (everyone, smile, that was supposed to be a joke), I think my initial point was that objective reality of the Winking-Flirting-Jesus statue was not-relevant from a spiritual point of view.

I think a lot of people get hung up (especially a lot of my fellow God-club members) on that. That's the road to the whole "Follow the Shoe! No, No, Follow the Gourd" kind of religion that I think is an easy way out. For me, at least, the path lies inwards, not externally.

And I also understand that many get into that kind of rubric looking for physical or external mircales, signs, or whatever, instead of seeking God within. But, that said, if someone experiences something external -- real or not -- I am not necessarily in a position to question the validity of their experience...at least as long as they are not attempting to blow me up or burn a cross on my lawn in the process. At that point I think I have a few valid questions to ask.

I think it boils down to one of favorite Zen Koans:

One day after much meditating, the disciple came to the master and said, "Master, I understand it, now; everything is an illusion." And the Master hit the disciple in the head with a rock and said "was that an illusion?"

And oddly enough, Lindsay, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about an afterlife, either...

mojo sends

I'm all for figuring out the best way to turn Christians on to the scientific worldview. I think that when it's taken far enough, science as a philosophy of life does exclude religious faith. I don't think it's hostile to it, and I don't think atheists should be hostile to religion in every manifestation. But the question before us is whether athiests should refrain from mocking this particular display of religiously fueled ignorance. I, for one, think that this sort of thing should be treated as a sign of mental illness. A belief in miracles of this level shows a level of vacuum-minded credulity that is quite dangerous to society when fed the right ideology. It's the same lack of critical thinking that gets us suicide bombers. And besides that, it gets us hoards and hoards of people willing to endorse any political candidate that can simply pull the right moral strings with a certain skill. Should it be mocked? Sadly, no. We should instead try to help these people as best we can out of their regrettable plight. I believe that even vanmojo's presumably much more reasoned approach to his faith contains the same kernel of error, though I wouldn't say it rises to the level of pathology, as it does in the people from the article. But eventually, the same approach that cures these people of their silly, and (yes) laughable delusions will serve to eventually render Christianity meaningless and outdated in the first world, if this approach is applied consistently and with respect to these people's humanity. It's wrong to make religous people Them, just as it's wrong to make any group Them, if they are at all redeemable.

Us vs. Them is a very dangerous thing. It's a human psychological foible that allows the incredible heights of xenophobic fever we've seen rise up again and again through history. We should strongly avoid taking this attitude toward any group. Even conservatives. Especially conservatives, as a whole.

But when a particular group itself has fallen completely to this Us vs. Them error, they're beyond reasonable hope of redeeming, as a person must include the peorson making the arguments convincing them to change in the Us group before the arguments can ever be accepted. In these cases, it probably isn't harmful, and it's certainly cathartic, to ridicule. We can safely ridicule the most extreme of fundamentalist Christians, as they generally have a really huge Us vs Them complex, where Them is pretty much every single person with even slightly different beliefs.

Do the people who believe in this sort of "miracle" have that attitude? They do, as most of us do, (admit it or not,) but the Them is a small group, including just some mythical "liberal elite", people they rarely have any contact with. The problem with mocking them is that this alienates them from the mocker, where they were not previously alienated. It identifies the mocker as a member of the "liberal elite", where they were not previously so identified (as that isn't the default assumption for most people). It not only engenders the Us vs Them attitude in the people mocking, but also in the people being mocked. So it is wrong.

Huh. I should really get a blog.

What they don't mention in the story is that he also danced a little jig, and did this funny trick with a piece of string and his stigmata.

Vanmojo,

When people stop telling me that I'm going to suffer eternal damnation for not believing in their invisible sky fairy, then I'll stop mocking ISF. Until then, ISF is fair game.

But if someone else is getting comfort from it, why does that seem to bug you so much?

Because I have to share a democracy with these people, and I resent, and to some degree fear, their excessive credulity and inability/unwillingness to apply their (arguably god-given) capacity to reason.

“He who can make you believe an absurdity can make you commit an atrocity.” -Voltaire

The correct way to cure athiest cynicism is to eat psychedelics. Most people will continue to be athiest cynics, but they will have a much better understanding of the motivations of religious thought.

In exploring religious experience this way, it's important to question yout experiences with the same degree of detached skepticism that you treat others religious experiences. But having them will improve your ability to dialogue with relgious people. It's important to realize that the sorts of people that think jesus has nothing better to do then wink at them from a statue are super pathetic losers who really need compassion and release from the psychological issues that make them cling to such pathetic things.

Lindsay Beyerstein:

I certainly grew up jaded, cynical

Grew up jaded? You don't seem jaded or cynical now. What happened?
Not worrying about an afterlife is a one-way ticket to peace of mind
No, that would be not worrying about death.

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