A Fear of Whales

A Fear of Whales

The Majority Of Scholars

posted by rgaffney

There is a phrase I have been hearing a lot, which I have come to detest. “The majority of scholars agree that…” It is raised in bar rooms and classrooms, it comes up in discussions about every subject, at seemingly every level. It is a useless thing to say.

scholarsI understand why a person would be inclined to say this sort of thing. You are talking to someone who makes some claim about a academic discipline with which you have some familiarity, and you think they will benefit to know that when you studied it you were convinced of a particular view, and what’s more, you were wholly unimpressed with the view opposing it. You think the view is virtually unanimous among reasonable people.

And if you said THAT, it would be a fair thing to say, you think a thing is true, and you are informing your discussion partner of your opinion. But if instead you say “The majority of scholars agree with me” you are making several indefensible claims instead.

In order for that phrase to have meaning You would have to know a number of things you cannot possibly know. First you need a comprehensive list of scholars. You need to know who is a scholar and who is a pretender. You also need to know what each and every one of those scholars believe about the issue in question, or at least 51% if there is unanimous consensus. Finally, since you are presenting this to someone who apparently disagrees, you need to know how you are going to prove it.

You can’t possibly. I don’t care what issue you are discussing, scholars disagree with one another for a living. That’s what a scholar is, that’s how you get published. There is serious scholarly dissent about the existence of numbers, about the definition of the word “good” and about the nature of truth itself. How can you possibly claim a representative sample of them who agree that it’s true that a number of things are good?

“London is in England” would be a terribly complicated thing to claim scholarly consensus on. Which London?, which England? What is the nature of location? Should we be talking to Geographers or Political Scientists? What does “is” mean?

And by the time you have uttered this phrase, you are already facing an opposing claim, which means you are not trying to establish scholarly consensus on a phrase like “London is in England” but on a controversial phrase. And how does a phrase get to be controversial? Through controversy of course! Your discussion partner did not synthesize their unpopular idea out of thin air, no matter how dumb it sounds, they heard it somewhere. Chances are they heard it from someone who heard it from some “scholar”.

So you tip your hand to your own ignorance when you respond to controversy in this way. What you are really communicating when you say “The majority of scholars agree” is that the sample of scholars with which you are familiar seem to agree on a controversial issue, and you take that sample to be representative. The phrase comes to mean “I am biased in my reading and have only read scholars who believe this, but I expect you to believe that my perspective is the only one”

The only correct response is “No, thank you”

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear About “Troublesome Lesbians”

posted by rgaffney

There is an article Here (I hesitate to link it lest I help propagate the popularity of the article) it is titled “When Two Lesbians Walk Into a Church Seeking Trouble” and features the story of a wonderfully loving and accepting church and how their Christian nonjudgementalism softened the heart of Amy the lesbian.

178932_10200091980326672_1937373783_nTo hear their Pastor tell it, This church is called Gateway in Austin TX, and their motto is “Come as you are” and they mean it! they even let lesbians come even though they admit they were trying to be shocking on purpose!

I’ll bet you would like a church like that. Maybe if you were in Austin you would like to visit.

Well I am, and before their article went viral I did… Or at least I tried to. I was not allowed.

I guess I’m not troublesome enough. I’m just a heterosexual white pastor’s kid, but at Gateway, you are not permitted to join a Bible Study until you have joined their church, and that is no easy task. I’ve spoken to others who have been asked to leave the Gateway community because they “didn’t fit in” or they “made people uncomfortable” both descriptions that sound very much like Jesus to me. I was only turned away at the door, where I didn’t give it another thought. I’m thankful I’m not like those who were invited in to the toxic community to be chewed up and spit out.

And I’m thankful that the pastor apparently sees the value in things like love and acceptance, and that the people who have taken this article viral, apparently do so for the same reasons… But while the pastor toots his own horn, he seems to fail to realize that his church has massive problems with acceptance, and they are visible even in his own article if you read carefully.

Guess what: If the fullness of our love is the capacity to not be shocked by girls who like girls, then our love is not full enough. GLBT people have hopes and dreams and personalities. They need much more than for you to be unaffected by what you perceive to be their troublesome antics.

And as we in the church pat our own backs by spreading this article. saying “Yes, I am a champion of allowing lesbians to come to church where they will learn to stop being lesbians, look how accepting I am” we need to turn out gaze back on ourselves. I’m not

Not “Look how loving I am”.

Not “let me teach you how to be an accepting Christian”

Not “even people who are muddy are allowed near me”

But “Lord have mercy”

“Lord, teach me to love more, to accept more”

”Lord thank you for allowing muddy people like me near you”

Ghosts

posted by rgaffney

Last year at this time I was sitting in Varsity Donuts trying to make sense of living in Rural Kansas while not actively working for InterVarsity (My term ended February 2013) Today I’m back in the same Donut shop to visit, a Seminarian, still making sense of my experiences here, many of which I was too busy, or too emotionally involved in to blog about at the time.

The town is full of Ghosts today. It is not the same community that I am returning to, the students I served, and friends I made have almost all moved on like I have, in their place is a new crop of NPCs. People I don’t know and will not build relationships with along with the land’s memory of what once was.

On that bench over there I met with the Moore group for the first time, the table over there housed a weekly bible study where someone came to faith. That’s the field where I fought with lightsabers, and across from it I helped students move. Each place abandoned, except by the imaginary silhouettes of significance I put there in my mind.

It’s a funny statement “there is no such thing as ghosts” I feel like I’m beginning to understand how a house where a child has died, or a violent battle has taken place can be considered haunted and therefore inhospitable. I guess it’s like Santa Clause in that way.

I’m going to try to meet the ghosts while I’m here and write about them. I want to engage in the memories before they fade. Some of that will be published in the coming days. Forgive me if some others show up in random places in the coming monthes

Looking Back

posted by rgaffney

As I begin my Lenten discipline of looking back, I’m most immediately reminded of Urbana 2012, one of my freshest memories from my IV life. It was there that Terry LeBlanc spoke about the discipline of remembrance telling a story about fishing with his grandfather, who told him how not to get lost in the woods “When you look back at the way you came, you will always be able to find your way home. Listen to his sermon for free here

When I sat there listening to Terry remember his elders, I knew that I was about to transition into a new stage of life, and I thought back to the experiences that had developed me. The Charismatics, The Evangelicals, The Lutherans, The Presbyterians, The Methodists, and finally The Missionals, paying particular attention to my time with them, which had not yet been reflected upon.

Now as I sit here remembering my remembering, I have the seminarians to add.

I’m not ready yet to write about the seminarians yet. As I was not ready then to write about the Missionals. My classmates read this blog, and what I would say if anything would be the sort of happy slappy drivel that wouldn’t be worth reading. If I am to authentically talk about both the strengths and weakness of a community, I have to do it in retrospect, so that is what I will endeavor to do here and now. Next week I’ll go to Kansas and reflect on my time there

Previous Posts

The Majority Of Scholars
There is a phrase I have been hearing a lot, which I have come to detest. “The majority of scholars agree that…” It is raised in bar rooms and classrooms, it comes up in discussions about every subject, at seemingly every level. It is a useless thing to say. I understand why a person would be

posted 10:55:15pm Feb. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear About “Troublesome Lesbians”
There is an article Here (I hesitate to link it lest I help propagate the popularity of the article) it is titled “When Two Lesbians Walk Into a Church Seeking Trouble” and features the story of a wonderfully loving and accepting church and how their Christian nonjudgementalism softened the hear

posted 12:19:45pm Mar. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Ghosts
Last year at this time I was sitting in Varsity Donuts trying to make sense of living in Rural Kansas while not actively working for InterVarsity (My term ended February 2013) Today I’m back in the same Donut shop to visit, a Seminarian, still making sense of my experiences here, many of which I w

posted 8:23:00pm Mar. 12, 2014 | read full post »

Looking Back
As I begin my Lenten discipline of looking back, I’m most immediately reminded of Urbana 2012, one of my freshest memories from my IV life. It was there that Terry LeBlanc spoke about the discipline of remembrance telling a story about fishing with his grandfather, who told him how not to get lost

posted 7:19:00pm Mar. 05, 2014 | read full post »

Eternal Influence
A little under 1000 years ago in Italy there lived a man named Giovanni de Bernadone, but his friends call him Francis.  Francis was a Christ follower, and if her were here today he would be the first to tell you that he didn’t understand completely what that means. But he lived his life in p

posted 2:42:42am Oct. 03, 2013 | read full post »


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