Thoughts on aggressive proselytization

Just a few things running through my head, inspired by an earlier conversation:

Any argument that begins with “it says in the Bible” is faulty, since making an argument in biblical terms requires the arguee to concede the Bible’s authority at the outset. Anyone viewing Christianity from a neutral standpoint is not predisposed to take the proselytizers (or the Bible's) words at face value. For a person with no religious experience, confronted with a choice of religions, the Bible is no more valid than the holy texts of any other belief system. If I lead a virtuous life, by the standards of society and even most religions, and my only shortcoming is a lack of faith in a particular deity, then in my estimation my soul is safe. The only way I could conceivably ever be Christian is if I believed in a kind, loving, just, and merciful God who didn’t spitefully send good people to Hell on a technicality. However, if that were the case, then it wouldn’t make a difference what faith I belonged to, so long as I continued to live virtuously. The promise of ultimate forgiveness is not a free pass on earthly behavior, and is no excuse for lax morality, deplorable behavior, or a disregard on the part of Christians for the rights and personal beliefs of others. First Amendment rights do not apply solely to practicing Christians, and while they may believe they are performing a public service it is, in fact, viewed as somewhat rude or in poor taste by people of other faiths (or lack thereof) who have the decency to not aggressively evangelize to Christians in turn. Even the most patient Christian would become annoyed after the thirtieth time hearing "Have you heard the word of Vishnu?"

I totally just read "orthofox" there

So I'm currently researching to do a paper for my Chinese literature class, at least half of which is about fox spirits. There's lots of interesting material about this. Since I know Shawna will like this, I will leave with this quote from my materials:

"Man and beast are distinct; foxes are between man and beast. The paths of light and dark are distinct; foxes are between light and dark. Immortals and demons take different paths; foxes are between immortals and demons. Thus one can say that meeting with a fox is extraordinary; yet one can also say meeting a fox is ordinary."

~Ji Yun, fox theorist

Inspiring Taoist stuff

In looking at the people, we might see
that in the space twixt birth and death,
one third follow life, and one third death,
and those who merely pass from birth to death,
are also one third of those we see.
He who lives by the way of the Tao,
travels without fear of ferocious beasts,
and will not be pierced in an affray,
for he offers no resistance.
The universe is the centre of his world,
so in the inner world
of he who lives within the Tao,
there is no place
where death can enter in.

- Laozi, Tao Te Ching

Update time once again

Well, it's been a while since the last update. I've been pretty busy since I started school in September. Last week I finished my first quarter at Western with a gpa of 3.6, which I am very proud of, since I believe it's my second-highest gpa ever. I actually managed an A in chinese, which is also one of my highest grades for any language class I've taken. More importantly, since I'm back in school I get to partake in the occasional vacation, such as the current winter break. This is the longest stretch of vacation time I've had in about 3 years, and I am enjoying it immensely.

One aspect of it that isn't so great is the fact that I'm recovering from surgery. Last Friday I had the majority of my teeth removed, and in several more weeks I'll be getting dentures. Not very attractive, I know, but it's the best possible solution. It's been more than five years since I've been able to eat everything I wanted, without pain or worrying about which teeth were going to break apart next. It's much better this way. My mouth is still a little sore though. Mostly hurts if I smile too much. And of course I'm mostly consuming liquids. Haven't had any pepsi or alcohol in over a week. I've been happily reacquainted with things like chocolate pudding, yogurt, creamed corn, and miso soup. God, I love miso. I am, however, compiling a list of every solid food that I get a craving for, so that when I get teeth again I can enjoy it.

Other than that, my vacation is going pretty well. I sleep a lot (the vicodin helps with that), I read books, I play video games, I plan for D&D games. I sit inside, nice and toasty, while outside there is snow and 15-degree air. Nothing better in the winter time than to sit inside drinking tea and reading a book. A fireplace would be nice, and a cat in my lap.

Despite my deep relaxation, I realized yesterday that I hadn't left the house in a week, and I was feeling kinda cooped up. I woke up unnaturally early, saw how clear and sunny the day was, and decided to go out walking. It was about 15 degrees outside, but there wasn't any wind, so it wasn't too bad. I walked to the top of Sehome hill to enjoy the view. I took some pictures, and even made some videos on the way, accompanied by my monologuing. Then I decided to meet Diana at work, bringing her some hot chai. After that, it was back home to resume the laziness, after shoveling a bit of snow. I did get around to finally installing the webcam that Diana's mom sent us. Went to bed early last night, about 6pm, I think. That's the only reason I'm awake now, at 9:30am. For the past week I've been sleeping in until late evening. Well, I think that's about it for an update. I can't think of anything else important enough to write.

Didn't want to waste this on just a comment

So far, in all the years I've had this journal I've never made a serious effort to relate my views on the whole gay-marriage debate. Mostly because I'm afraid I'll do a poor job of expressing such passionate opinions and also because...I just don't understand it.

Deep down, I simply do not understand how you can claim that one person, or type of person, is better than another simply on the basis of inborn characteristics. I've never understood racism, or sexism, or any kind of religious hatred. I have always believed that people, if they are to be judged at all, it should be on the basis of their actions. Of course, there are people who are not racist, yet they oppose the very idea of being considered the equal of any homosexual. Many make the claim that, unlike race, sexual preference is a choice, a deviant behavior that is ungodly and socially damaging.

First of all, I have seen no evidence to date that homosexuality is in any way ever going to contribute to the downfall of our society to the extent that people like, say, Britney Spears have. As far as I can tell, the "danger to society" argument is circular logic: "it's not ok to tolerate gay people because they will damage our society by teaching our children that it's ok to be gay." Huh? You've made clear your prejudice and you're doing a poor job of justifying it. Next point: ungodly? Who gives a damn if one god opposes it? That one god does not rule America, whatever Pat Robertson tells you. If you live in this country it's with the understanding that no religion is better than another in the eyes of our Constitution, and that to force your own religions views and the accompanying moral standards on unwilling people is a violation of their rights. Under the separation of church and state "because God said so" is NOT a valid argument and WILL NOT hold up in court.

The following is a comment from someone else's journal and my reply to it. That's pretty much what touched off this rant.

"I have no problems with gay people having the same rights as married people. However, I do take issue with calling it marriage... Marriage is a union that exists between a man and a woman. Marriage is also a church institution... The only thing that the government dictates is the need to sign a marriage license. Also I'm really tired of people griping at the church. California passed a marriage ban. they are the most liberal state in the union, so I highly doubt it was a bunch of right wing conservatives doing the voting!"

So, you're ok with them technically having all the same rights, as long as it's clear that it's not officially considered the same thing? Reminds me of something called "separate but equal." There are religions other than "the church" that will happily marry two gays, and there are government institutions that give legal recognition and all of the rights to them, all that's being fought over is one bloody word: marriage. That's the last concession. If you give gay people that, then you're saying that they are just as good as the rest of us, and you're not willing to do that, because that superiority complex is still there. Because homosexuality makes you uncomfortable, or you're content to justify your prejudices with religion and force them on the rest of the world, or you just couldn't bring yourself to have sex with your significant other because your marriage would somehow be devalued, as if the quality of the love between two people were somehow subject to and dependent upon the approval of, yes, right-wing conservatives who somehow believe they have a mandate and a divine right to insert themselves in people's private lives trying to tell them what they can and can't do. Like the saying goes, if you don't like gay marriage, then don't get one! Just learn to let people live their own lives and be happy.

Bottom line is, if gay people marrying one another causes any damage at all to society, it would at most be equal to and in reality far less than the damage caused by families that see drug addiction, spousal abuse, mental illness or criminal activity. I personally don't see how it can cause any harm. Accordingly, I see no reason not to allow it. The overall effect on society would be minimal, and they certainly wouldn't be hurting anyone. They are people too. They are Americans. They have as much a right to happiness as any other American. People need to learn courtesy. More Christians need to remember the golden rule. And more people need to respect the rights and dignity of my friends, or they can get the fuck out of my country.

I love this

This is the trailer for the new "Prince of Persia" game. The combination of the imagery with the music is very moving.
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