Friday, January 29, 2010

Dear Gregory

I'm writing this letter to you to let you know that we can have free discourse here at St. Cynic.

To start, there's no reason why my limited understandings on certain subjects are equivalent to "vitriol" or a misapprehension of certain claims. Similarly, there's no reason why a capacious understanding of certain subjects should render my position tiresome, or a 'waste' of your time, even if you disagree.

Next, I invite you to this site for debate because I get a thrill from butting heads with you. Sounds superficial, I know. However, "iron sharpens iron, just as one man sharpens another" seems especially apt to me when it comes to debating you: I learn from you, and I enjoy that. If you conclude that coming to my site is wasteful, frustrating, depressing, kicks in your cynicism reflex, or exasperates you at all, you are free to refuse my invitations. However, I would like to make it expressly clear that I am inviting you for a dual purpose:
  1. As stated above, to lock horns with you for the purpose of learning with you, and from you;
  2. To keep in contact with you.

Concerning number 2, it is not only geography that divides us. 6000 kms is quite a long way to go to shake hands and have a drink together -- and it would be well worth it! Nevertheless, my refusal of the Roman communion explicitly divides us, our respective philosophical moorings divide us, and our personalities stand in splendid difference to each other. While you have become more and more entrenched in Catholicism, I have become less and less enthusiastic about organised religion as a whole, and generally cannot abide the superficialities that come from all corners of the Christian marketplace. That last point in mind, however, there are a few people I really enjoy engaging, even to their frustration; you are first amongst them.

Your militant Catholicism is not offensive to me. I would ask that you extend the same levity toward my place in our conversations. What is offensive to me is some of the doctrines that go before you, and will probably continue on after you're a desaturated memory. A few of those doctrines are The Immaculate Conception, Mary's Assumption, Transubstantiation, Papal Infallibility, and a few others. Since these are doctrines you hold dear, any disagreement I extend toward them will necessarily spur you to defend them. Be that as it may, it would be a fair start to conversation if your first line of defense was not you just don't understand. While that may be true at times, it is not the case every time. I am not committed to Catholicism, so I am free to explore implications as they arise in my mind, even if they're heretical, off-beat, or seemingly disconnected in your mind. That does not render my efforts impotent.

So, in the spirit of Socratic dialogue (open, explorative converstion), let's chase our respective understandings with a respect that chases understanding of each other.

7 comments:

Gregory said...

Had a big long reply. Copied it in order to go hunt down a quote. Copied that quote, and lost my big long reply. Not the most tech-savvy fellow, here.

So anyway, here we go again: first of all, the accusation of vitriol came from Imogen, in the first place. She referred to her comments (if not yours by extension) as "vitriole", and I appropriated the term in my response. Since she decided to weigh in on our discussion, I assumed you two must be working as a unit, and the adjective applied on both sides. If not, I apologise. You may want to clear that up among yourselves, though.

As far as the rest of it, my problem is not that we disagree. Far from it. My closest friend is an atheist with whom I disagree about almost everything--yet we get along smashingly.

The problem is not opposite sides of a debate, but the frequency with which you have lately set up a belief, called it "Catholic" and then attempted to refute it, whether or not it accurately reflects the actual Catholic teaching. You then extend an invitation for me to respond, and so I do, see the error in the initial premise, and try to correct it. Perhaps you'd like me to deal with your actual arguments, but from where I sit, there is no point until the premise is corrected. With a correct premise, the subsequent arguments have no basis. So there's no point in my doing anything but saying, "Kane, you simply don't understand" and then trying to give a correction.

Which is fine, until you deny the correction, or that it makes a difference, or tell me that what I believe isn't really what I believe, or just flat out ignore it altogether and carry on with your original premise. At this point, I can only shake my head at the sophistry, or, in charity, try again to explain my position. But there are only so many times I can charitably reiterate myself before frustration sets in.

It's rather like our old debates with Jacob Allee.

And for myself, the frustration sets in all the sooner because you once had considered converting to Catholicism, until you found something or other you didn't like. Now, my assumption, and maybe it's an unfair one, but my assumption was that when you had considered converting in the first place, you had done the research into the actual teachings of the Church, as I had before I finally decided to convert, and as you seem to thoroughly do in every other aspect of your life before making a decision.

This assumption being in place, I am amazed continually that you would so readily demonstrate a lack of learning or study of a particular (and rather elementary) aspect of Church teaching so consistently. Again, feel free to disagree with it, but please, show me that what you're disagreeing with is what we actually believe.

If I have misjudged you--if you didn't research as thoroughly as I had supposed, please let me know. Otherwise I can do nothing but wonder why someone who should know better so very often misinterprets what he is condemning.

imogenskye said...

Gregory,

You wrote:
So anyway, here we go again: first of all, the accusation of vitriol came from Imogen, in the first place. She referred to her comments (if not yours by extension) as "vitriole", and I appropriated the term in my response. Since she decided to weigh in on our discussion, I assumed you two must be working as a unit, and the adjective applied on both sides. If not, I apologise. You may want to clear that up among yourselves, though.

I was going to respond to your response in the comments for The Never Erring Story part one, but having read this, I am now choosing not to do so.

My reason for this is not that I do not feel confident to assert my position or to oppose yours, but rather that here you have made such an ignorant and all-destroying assumption that to continue to correspond with you would be pointless, since Kane is writing to you from his perspective as it is. Why waste your time with mine, right? Especially when I don't even have one...

You think that I have been writing alongside him, that my expressions belong to him (and perhaps graciously as well as to me though that would now be an even greater assumption on your part since you don't know me, but only him), and your apology for the potential of your error is made void by your suggestion that I clear up your misunderstanding with him, as if that were relevant.

This does of course now shed some light on some of your responses to my posts; you have been assuming that you are writing to both of us and so figure you've got us both covered in any response you make, or so it would now seem and would make sense of seeming non sequiturs.

I cannot even imagine assuming the same about you and your partner in my communications. But perhaps I am too free a thinker, too liberal a woman, to fall into such an archaic and disrespectful sort of thought as a matter of course.

Perhaps this is an over-reaction, but I guess since you have made my place in this discussion obsolete in mind and response, then I feel better personally to not engage any further.

I'm very surprised at this revelation of your opinion of me though, even though we don't know one another; it seems a rather intimate conclusion to have come to without any intimate knowledge that I am aware of.

BUT this is what I get for trying to engage in discussion with people who are Kane's friends. Of course I am only a hand-puppet to his opinons and serve to make his ideas "redundant for emphasis" (a quote from him that seems sadly apt here).

I haven't written in here in a while, but thanks for the reminder of why I stopped.

:( This sucks. Bye.

Craig said...

You guys love this stuff, eh?

Kane Augustus said...

Craig,

"You guys love this stuff, eh?"

What stuff are you talking about?

Craig said...

The intense internet discussion....

Kane said...

Craig,

Yes, I enjoy intense discussion.

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