A quote for the day

by Kim on February 16, 2011

I have come to the conclusion, not least from personal experience, that prayer is a way for Christians to be narcissistic with both a good conscience and public approval.

{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }


Wood 02.16.11 at 12:26 pm

…but it shouldn’t be and doesn’t have to be.

That is an important addendum.


Kim 02.16.11 at 1:04 pm

It’s an aphorism, Wood. Aphorisms don’t have addenda.


Mendip Nomad 02.16.11 at 1:54 pm

Kim, given the title, does this particular aphorism come from somewhere, or is it your own? And is it the truth as you see it, or a deliberate attempt at advocacy for the devil?
While I disagree with the statement I can fully understand how someone might come to that opinion, even someone who is fully immersed and active within the Christian faith.


Tony Buglass 02.16.11 at 2:25 pm

“Aphorisms don’t have addenda.”

Oooh - genre criticism! Or is it form criticism? Anyway - what’s to stop someone from developing an aphorism in a way which makes it self-critical and even self-negating? I bet it happens all the time…


Doug 02.16.11 at 3:57 pm

What is the point of aphorisms if one doesn’t believe it? and even if one doesn’t believe then really isn’t being disengenuous? I dislike aphorisms. I’m with Mendip on this one but disagree with him on understanding how someone can come to that opinion.


Wood 02.16.11 at 4:24 pm

“What is the point of aphorisms if one doesn’t believe it?”

That’s 50% the point of aphorisms.


Kim 02.16.11 at 4:56 pm

An aphorism is like a joke: you either get it and think it’s canny/funny, or you don’t. When it’s doing its job, an aphorism is a flash of light, but it’s never a full day’s sunshine. It’s cognitively compact (as Nassim Taleb puts it), not comprehensive. When Aesop says, “Slow and steady wins the race”, only a nerd would reply, “Well, actually, I can think of examples where the fast and headlong are victorious.” To ask for an explanation for an aphorism is to misunderstand its nature. But for Mendip I will make an exception - but just this once!

As I confessed in a recent thread, my anthropology is thoroughly Augustinian, and “It is a constant and deep theme in Augustine’s work … that we are opaque to ourselves, internally conflicted, unreliable guides to our own condition and motivation, very much not transparent to introspection” (Paul Griffiths). For Augustine, “‘Sincerity’ … gives way to the despairing candour which recognises that we do not know whether we are honest or not: there is too much in the psyche that is obscure for us ever to be confident of seeing or telling the truth about ourselves” (Rowan Williams). So you could say that my aphorism is an Augustinian take on the practice of prayer, a heads-up to the false assumption that we are always doing a good, selfless, and holy thing when we pray, that only a Pharisee could ever think such a thing, that, in fact, our prayers are inevitably compromised by self-interest which, if unrecognised, is compounded by self-deceit. This is, of course, a descriptive analysis, not a normative one. And in terms of spiritual direction, it is hardly original. If your own actual experience of prayer does not confirm it, I would direct you to the wisdom of the desert fathers.


Doug 02.16.11 at 5:21 pm

I see your point Kim. I would however mention the passage “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” It appears even though we pray at sometimes “amiss” God still desires us to pray. Do we always have the proper attitude when we pray? no but Scripture tells us to pray to have the proper attitude to pray. “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” God tells us to pray “Pray without ceasing.”


Mendip Nomad 02.16.11 at 5:30 pm

Thank you, Kim, most helpful - and fear not, I do understand about aphorisms, I just guess I wasn’t clear whether it was being posted with an added layer of knowingness. And yes, my anthropology is not so Augustinian as yours! However, I fully see the point of the aphorism, and got it when I first read it.


Doug 02.16.11 at 5:35 pm

Kim, I’m Augustinian and I didn’t get it. Oh well. We don’t always get everything we read. :)


Tim 02.16.11 at 6:16 pm

An Augustinian posting regularly on a Wesleyan site - now that’s a testimony to Christian unity!!!


Doug 02.16.11 at 8:16 pm

Well, how is that a testiment to that? Aren’t there foundational things where they agree? Help me understand the differences. I’m very interested. Are there differences between them on the nature of God, Salvation, etc., etc.? Just wondering.

On a humor note: When it says “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has risen from the dead you shall be saved.” Is there any “Augustinian or Wesleyan in there? :)


Pam 02.16.11 at 9:32 pm

Jesus said “go into your room and pray” - the true narcissist would preen even there. But I don’t think there are too many true narcissists, so it’s good advice. It’s easier to come clean when you’re not vying for public approval.


Tim 02.16.11 at 11:35 pm


Joking, Doug.


Pam 02.16.11 at 11:49 pm

I made the statement on Pam BG’s blog fairly recently about Connexions being “a bastion of white male supremacy”. And the reply “Isn’t that a bit below the belt”. Reading this thread and “Why Egypt is a Problem for Christian Zionists” only reinforces my opinion.


Paul F. 02.17.11 at 9:17 am

Pam, could you please explain why you’ve reached that opinion? It seems quite presumptuous on your part to say that. Please show me where we are being dismissive or contemptuous of the perspective of minorities and women — in a thread about the perils of prayer!


Kim 02.17.11 at 9:47 am

Yes, I presume it’s not because most of the bloggers here are male, because that’s the case on most male theoblogs. Perhaps it’s because the threads can sometimes get quite polemical, aggressive? But then isn’t that gender stereotyping? In any case, I am truly sorry if you don’t feel at home here, Pam. Personally, I’ve already come to think of you as part of the family.

BTW, it’s interesting that it’s Pelagius, not Augustine, who has little room in his theology for - love. Pelagius is a moralist, full of common sense but lacking in passion, confident that with focus and work you can get, existentially, from A to Z. Augustine is aware of how brittle and broken human beings are, and as sensitive as a scab to the outward social forces and inner undercurrents that condition and shape our lives, how (as he puts it) most people sin not willingly but kicking and screaming, how life is such a goddamn struggle, how with all our distorted desires we so long for communion. He is the doctor gratiae.


Pam 02.17.11 at 9:59 am

Paul F. speaks to me. I’ve reached that opinion because this is the first time you’ve deigned to speak to me. On any subject.


Beth 02.17.11 at 10:28 am

Don’t worry guys, it’s clearly Pam’s time of the month.


Pam 02.17.11 at 10:31 am

Also Paul F.
You all debate with Doug the same old, same old crap just about every thread. What is it - he’s going to change his mind and come around to your way of thinking? Or you’re going to change to his way of thinking. Really interesting reading. Truly. Always exciting. You all get to show how much you know about the “gospel”. About love.


Pam 02.17.11 at 10:32 am

Dr. Beth strikes again.. Defending Uncle Kim. You’re all grown up now Beth, or are you?


PamBG 02.17.11 at 11:13 am

@Pam - I don’t really understand what it is about this blog that upsets you so much. As I said, I’m happy to have a private conversation if that helps, although I understand if you don’t trust me either. (PamBG1 at gmail dot com).

@Beth - Real intelligent, helpful comment. We need you to be our arbiter of common sense and good behaviour here.


Tim 02.17.11 at 11:21 am

BTW, it’s interesting that it’s Pelagius, not Augustine, who has little room in his theology for - love.

Given that very little of Pelagius’ written work has survived and that most of what we think we know about him comes from his enemies, I’m rather surprised that you would make this sort of categorical statement, Kim.

We do, however, know a great deal about Augustine, including the fact that at the Council of Carthage he defended the ideas that infants needed to be baptised in order to be cleansed from original sin and that infants who were not baptised were excluded from eternal life. And let’s not forget his championing of the just war and his defence of state-sponsored persecution of heretics - all to defend the doctrine of grace, of course!


Wood 02.17.11 at 12:57 pm

And there’s his views on sex too.

Of course, just because Augustine is wrong about a lot of things doesn’t make him wrong on everything.


Tony Buglass 02.17.11 at 1:21 pm

Pam: “You all debate with Doug the same old, same old crap just about every thread.”

I’m reading from this that you think we debate with Doug because he’s a man, and don’t debate with you because you’re a woman. It’s probably more because he spouts the sort of crap which needs dealing with, and you don’t. If I don’t respond, it’s pretty likely that I don’t have a response to make; I probably agree with what you’ve written.

As far as gender is concerned, to be honest, blogs like this seem to em to be gender-blind. It really makes no difference to me whether the writer is male or female - there is no face there, there is very little evidence of voice, other than the personal mannerisms we notice (ie Kim always quotes somebody heavy, and may use words I wouldn’t use, and Doug usually manages to mangle his syntax). I’m sorry if you feel boxed out by insensitive men. It really isn’t what is going on here. Or does that just make me an insensitive man?


Kim 02.17.11 at 2:20 pm

On Augustine - what Wood said, Tim. And while the surviving writings of Pelagius are few, there is enough in them, not to mention in the writings of his followers, to know the essence of his thought.

To be sure, Augustine said many regrettable things, and was not entirely consistent in his theology of the amor Dei. On his doctrine of predestination, Gerald Bonner writes: “Its weaknesses are plain to see: a rigorous logic which, working from arbitrary premises, emphasizes the power of God and neglects the quality of Love … Why Augustine, who so often and so eloquently dwells upon the quality of Love, should have so narrowly applied it when he wrote about God’s dealings with His creation is a mystery which may well provoke the reader to echo Augustine’s own cry O Altitudo!.”

On the other hand, we know that the Pelagians placed a great emphasis on the fear of punishment as a way of whipping Christians into moral shape. Indeed Peter Brown observes that “There is a cold streak in the mentality of the whole Pelagian movement … [and that] It is Pelagius, not Augustine, who harps on the terrors of the Last Judgement.”

In one of his sermons against the Pelagians, Augustine says: “Give me a man in love: he knows what I mean. Give me one who yearns; give me one who is hungry; give me one … who is thirsty and sighs for the spring of the Eternal Country. Give me that sort of man: he knows what I mean. But if I speak to a cold man, he just does not know what I am talking about.”

BTW, while what you say about Augustine on infant baptism is true, Augustine was actually fascinated by babies and spoke tenderly about their helplessness and dependency. In fact, for Augustine infants were role models for our relationship with God. The Pelagians, however, viewed babies with disgust and contempt.

Oh - and the greatest living Augustinian theologian I know - I mean one whose own theology is influenced by Augustine above all others - is - Rowan Williams. And there is one holy, tender, and loving pastor, that’s for sure.


Pam 02.17.11 at 3:13 pm

@ Tony: I’ve been so upset by this I can’t sleep (something I usually have no trouble doing). Yes, you all do seem to have to deal with Doug ad infinitum. Why?
I find when I do make a response on a thread I’m sometimes ignored. See Doug #12 and Tim #14 for an example. I think “dealing with Doug” is a macho thing and some of you (not all) can show off your biblical knowledge, theology, etc. If it was a truly “loving” blog, gender wouldn’t be a problem but it is for me, and instead of another woman (Beth) making obnoxious and idiotic remarks about “the time of the month” it would be nice to have some support. You can all see that it’s a problem for me and the best Kim can do is “Personally I’ve come to see you as part of the family” and then goes on about Augustine.


Kim 02.17.11 at 4:42 pm

the best Kim can do is “Personally I’ve come to see you as part of the family” and then goes on about Augustine.

Uh, Pam, because Augustine was in the thread.

Seriously, Pam, you sound like a child demanding attention. I think you’ve got a very different understanding of blogging from most, if not all of us here - and not only here. Speaking personally, when I leave a comment, or even post a post, if someone responds, fine; if they don’t, that’s cool too. Even if I direct something at someone in particular, it’s up to them whether to reply or not - and there may be all sorts of reasons why they may choose not too. I would never assume that they are just intentionally ignoring, let alone rebuffing me, and get pissed off about it.

I don’t know what else to say. Who can tell what might set you off? Even a “Sincerely yours”.


Tim 02.17.11 at 4:48 pm

Pam, if you feel I have discriminated against you because you’re a woman, I apologise, but I assure you I had no such intent. Where I do deserve your rebuke, however, is on the issue of arguing too much with Doug and Earl. In fact, I waste far too much time arguing on blogs in general. I am now going back to work.


Doug 02.17.11 at 4:48 pm

Pam, how can I help in this situation? I know I disagree and not afraid to say that and how I disagree. I’m always interested in having a discussion with anyone on any subject. I would love to have a discussion with you. If ever I have got in the past a discussion with you where I have “shut you out” I’m sorry. Lets move forward on this and have some good discussion. You are so important to this blog as anyone else and may God bless you and all on this blog.


Tony Buglass 02.17.11 at 5:49 pm

“I think “dealing with Doug” is a macho thing and some of you (not all) can show off your biblical knowledge, theology, etc.”

For me, it’s a truth thing, rather than a macho thing. I deal with the issues raised by Doug’s comments because they’re important to me, and I am aware of an audience of surfers who might dip into any internet conversation and get the wrong handle on what we believe. If that’s a male attitude to truth, well, fair enough - I’m a hairy bearded bloke, and I can’t change that. But I’m not trying to be macho, and I’m not trying to show off my knowledge; I’m trying to use it.

“If it was a truly “loving” blog, gender wouldn’t be a problem but it is for me, and instead of another woman (Beth) making obnoxious and idiotic remarks about “the time of the month” it would be nice to have some support.”

Well, yes. I was surprised at Beth’s comments, but I really don’t want to get into a slagging-off match with her or anyone about that. I’m concerned that you feel you need support, as well as the fact that you feel we’ve somehow ganged up on you or ignored you until you shout. The prior question is really what this blog is for. I might be wrong, but I see it as primarily a forum for debate and discussion. Out of that can come friendship and fellowship, and I’d hope a measure of support would come along with that, but I don’t see that as a primary aim. Perhaps Richard will say more about that - it’s his place, after all.

I just tried a link to see if it fed through to your email or a blog, but it doesn’t. I don’t want to get too personal in a semi-public forum, but if you want to contact me away from here, you can get my details at the Calderdale Circuit website at http://www.calderdalemethodists.org.uk/


Paul F. 02.17.11 at 8:16 pm

I’m not sure how to respond, either. I feel like I should apologize, but I can’t think of a reason why I need to. What did I say or not say that offended?

“I’ve reached that opinion because this is the first time you’ve deigned to speak to me. On any subject.”

This is the first time, I believe, you’ve spoken to me as well. So we’re even. If anyone deserves to have their feelings hurt, it’s all the men who comment on here. (For the record, mine aren’t. I’m okay.) It’s quite a leap — and a potentially offensive one — from “no one is responding to me” to “that’s because they’re white male supremacists.”

I’ll admit the tone can be aggressive, and we tend to beat up on Doug. I would mention that I recently suggested we refrain from hurling insults at “D & E” because it’s a flagrantly un-Christian thing to do so. This may be one of the side effects of holding to Christian pacifism: you fill up with anger and don’t know what to do with it!


Pam 02.17.11 at 8:50 pm

@ Kim “Seriously Pam you sound like a child demanding attention”.
& “Most of the bloggers here are male”. Augustine was in the thread because you introduced Augustine into the thread.
What is this blog for? Do you look at the name above the comment?
Of course, you can choose not to answer a particular comment I might make. I try to respond to anyone who directs a question to me, even if it is sometime later (being on Aussie time!). What I think is happening here is that Doug is being privileged because his mangled, misspelt musings fit into the type of thing you like to respond to, it allows you to spread the benefit of your wisdom. Making remarks like “Personally I feel you’re part of the family Pam” and then treating me as someone you either respond to or not as you feel like makes life a little confusing for me. If I admire you, praise you I’m sure Id get more attention. If I disagree with you, or belittle you, on comes the sarcasm. Do you call that loving, I don’t.


fat prophet 02.17.11 at 8:54 pm

I have watched the comments on this post for the last two days and have to say that in some ways I understand Pam’s issues.
1. We do spend a lot of time debating/discussing with Doug (aka) dh and I tend now either to not comment as it often just winds me up or I comment and then withdraw from the particular topic.
2. I often comment on blogs and seem to put the kiss of death on the comments. I realise that may just be because others don’t really have any comment to make or the thread has run its course. I certainly wouldn’t have any sleepless nights over it.
3. Pam is right about the debates with Doug - it does seem to revolve round the same topics whatever the original post was about and while I appreciate he is entitled to hold the views he does we sometimes make it worse by continuing to debate with him when we know that he will not be swayed however good our arguments are.
4. In respect of this being a bastion of white male supremacy I am not sure that we can say that for definite - it was not very long ago that somebody challenged the use of aliases - I am not sure whether the names we read on here are always a particular gender - Kim could be either as could dh and we sometimes make the assumption I think that people are of a particular gender.
5. There is a degree of defensiveness of other commenter’s and sometimes I think it does seem to be a little harsh but it doesn’t only happen on this blog.
6. If I haven’t responded to a comment it is often because I have nothing further to say - if someone hasn’t responded to me I just take no notice because it doesn’t mean they don’t like me (I hope)
7. You could always pop across and have a look at my blog if you haven’t already - I don’t think anyone has ever got upset there but then again some of the folk who visit this blog don’t visit mine and I ten not to be too controversial with my posts. http://www.fatprophet.blogspot.com and if you do check out the blog in mention in a recent post its called ‘ sense of tumour’ and is a fascinating read.


fat prophet 02.17.11 at 8:56 pm

Sorry last line made no sense! should have said ‘if you do check out the blog I mention’


fat prophet 02.17.11 at 9:28 pm

Pam - I had not seen your last comment when I wrote mine in fact I think I was typing mine as you typed yours.


Doug 02.17.11 at 9:39 pm

Paul F., thanks for the support. I will say that I’m sorry that my comments “fill you up with anger”. That is not the point.

To all. If ever I have said something in a hostile tone, harsh, etc. I’m sorry. I never want anyone to be “angry or upset”. We may very strongly disagree but it should never go to that level.

“What I think is happening here is that Doug is being privileged because his mangled, misspelt musings..”

What are you talking about. I know is misspell but we all make mistakes. Privileged? While I respect Richard all totally, I don’t feel “privileged” but I think on a personal level there is some admiration even though there may be strong disagreement.


Pam 02.17.11 at 9:46 pm

Thanks fat prophet. I will check out your blog. I also comment on Ben’s blog (Faith & Theology) and also on Jason Goroncy’s. Both are a different format to this though as you comment and sometimes there’s interaction, sometimes not. Ben and Jason don’t always offer a comment on every post. I like that.
I am unnerved by the aggressiveness and left this blog a short time ago but came back to give it another try. I’m not suited to it that’s clear and I can take my share of the responsibility for that.
Like anybody else I’ve had my share of “damaging” situations in my life and my faith is very important to me.
So I’ll check you out fat prophet - hopefully you can put up with me.


Beth 02.17.11 at 10:43 pm

To anyone who was surprised, upset, or otherwise disomfited by my comment: I really have a hard time with women who cry “sexism” when things are not going their way. If people are aggressive with Pam or sometimes don’t respond to what she says, it’s not because she’s a woman, it’s because they maybe haven’t read all the posts or they’re busy or they’re annoyed at something or whatever. But, like a lot of women, Pam seems determined to see sexism in any action of any man. This does a disservice to women who suffer real persecution and discrimination. To my mind, the only response to such behaviour is to mock it. I certainly feel no duty to support it. Feminism means being able to tell another woman she’s being an asshat, not jumping onto the bandwagon with your sistahs (wrong or right) because you share a common anatomy.


fat prophet 02.17.11 at 11:03 pm

Well Beth I think you have made your position very clear! I really do think that is is a pity you have to resort to mockery to endeavour to get your point across as it is more likely to antagonise others than get them on side, and is likely in my opinion to cause people to ignore what you say altogether in case they should dare to comment and then be mocked for doing so.
I have probably taken a risk in making this comment and I suspect you will either ignore me or respond and tell me I am being an asshat whatever one of those is, but hey that’s a risk I am prepared to take.


Bob Gilston 02.17.11 at 11:13 pm

Many years ago in another life I worked in an engineering environment which was very much male dominated. I had a message to telephone a Piping Engineer in Aberdeen by the name of Alex. I was quite nonplussed when the voice at the other end of the phone turned out to belong to a woman. I just wasn’t expecting it and it threw me for a bit. At the same time a female colleague who was a QA Engineer was approached by someone and asked if she would word process a document for him, the assumption obviously being that she was a woman and so must have been a typist.

Yet, as a Methodist, I have never thought it remotely strange that women have had an equal role as ministers or lay preachers. It’s just been part of what I knew and had experienced.

Like Pam, I am new to blogging and it has taken me a little while to get used to the etiquette (if there is an etiquette) to blogging. However, because Richard’s blog is a Christian blog it never occured to me that anyone posting was being sexist.

I hope Pam that like me you will stick with the blog. I often feel out of my depth with some of the obviously well read people who post here but I have to say that I have learned a lot about my own faith by reading what has been posted.


Tim 02.17.11 at 11:40 pm

Wwwwwrenching the thread back to the original post…

You’re not a Christian hedonist, then, Kim?


Tony Buglass 02.18.11 at 12:23 am

“But, like a lot of women, Pam seems determined to see sexism in any action of any man. This does a disservice to women who suffer real persecution and discrimination.”

I wasn’t going to go any further with this, but I can’t let this go.

Sorry, Beth, but you’re talking crap. I don’t read Pam as seeing sexism in every man. I don’t know what has hurt her, I hope she might be able to discuss it with me - but probably not in this forum. But for you to dismiss her comments as due to her time of the month was unforgiveable. If I, as a man, had said that, I would have deserved every ton of opprobrium which would have descended upon my poor head. The fact that you are a woman, and probably have your own time of the month, makes no difference - it was ad hominem, and I usually reckon that whoever resorts to ad hominem has thereby telegraphed that they have either lost it or just can’t cope with the argument. I didn’t give a stuff why you felt it necessary - it wasn’t necessary, it didn’t help, it didn’t make you look good, and it didn’t help the conversation. I’m deeply sorry that I have had to say this, but I’m even more deeply sorry that you felt it necessary to say what you did.


Pam 02.18.11 at 12:33 am

Thanks fat prophet and Tony. I too think what Beth said was unforgiveable.
I have three daughters and a son and my daughters have, thankfully, been given equal opportunities in education and choice of career as my son. I have a husband who supports all of us in every way possible. So there is no way in the world I see sexism in any action of any man. This isn’t about sexism, it’s about privileging an individual who happens to be a man on a blog where the great majority of people who comment are male.
Beth, I’d actually like to leave you alone in a room with a feminist I greatly admire, Germaine Greer, she’s scorch your superior little butt.
I will not be responding to any further diatribe from yourself.


Beth 02.18.11 at 8:46 am

Dear FP,

No, I don’t think you’re being an asshat (which is a comic and toned-down version of “assh*le”, like “shucks” is a comic and toned-down version of “sh*t”). I understand where you’re coming from and I’m glad to have your opinion. I hope that I don’t usually resort to mockery, though please correct me if I’m wrong about that. On this occasion, I felt that Pam was being utterly ridiculous, so I responded in kind. The charge that Connexions is a bastion of white male privilege both amuses and angers me, for the reasons that I stated: it gives feminism a bad name when “I don’t like these people and I think they’re mean to me” turns into “I don’t like these people, they’re mean to me, and therefore I’m facing sexual discrimination.” I don’t think I’ve evet felt belittled as a woman on this blog. I’ve never felt that people are ignoring me or beign aggressive towards me because I’m a woman. I understand that Pam feels differently, but I reserve the right to think that she is not only wrong, but maliciously so.

All best,



Beth 02.18.11 at 8:47 am

Dear Tony,

“But for you to dismiss her comments as due to her time of the month was unforgiveable.”

Can you not see that I was being facetious? I would never, for one second, seriously suggest such a thing. I was doing the equivalent of one Jew saying to another “it’s all about money with you guys, isn’t it?” It’s self-referential sarcasm. I was making the point that, if this were really a bastion of male privilege, those are the comments we might expect. Whereas, as far as I can see, people do try to engage with Pam, and with me, and with other women who write on here, without this kind of sexism (which is absolutely alive and well in so many other contexts we come across in our lives).



Beth 02.18.11 at 8:49 am

Dear Pam,

I understand you don’t want to engage with me any more, but I hope you’ll at least read this. I’ve tried, in my notes to FP and Tony above, to explain why I said what I did. I’m pretty certain that my explanation will cut no ice with you, but I hope I can at least be exonerated of the charge of having made that comment in any kind of seriousness. I was, and am, exasperated with the way in which you often seem to take offence at what other people treat as robust debate. I was, and am, even more exasperated that you want to ascribe this to male hegemony. If patriarchy really is the problem, why do you seem to have as much problem with me as you do with Kim? If there are offenders here, it’s clear from the comments on this thread that I’m one of the worst, so why do you see gender as being the issue?

As regards Prof. Greer, bring it on! I can promise you that I’ve been sat in a room with uglier opponents than her and survived, but I’d be more than delighted to have a good debate with such an influential and interesting thinker.



Kim 02.18.11 at 9:23 am

Tim asked if I was a “Christian hedonist”. Let me answer with another quote from Augustine: “Is sex dirty? It is if you’re doing it right.” Or was that Woody Allen? ;)


Tim 02.18.11 at 10:43 am

Kim: ‘I have come to the conclusion, not least from personal experience, that prayer is a way for Christians to be narcissistic with both a good conscience and public approval.’

In that respect (and I also speak partly from personal experience) it is very much like blogging and commenting on blogs!


Tony Buglass 02.18.11 at 10:52 am

Beth: “Can you not see that I was being facetious? I would never, for one second, seriously suggest such a thing.”

One of two things could be happening here. One is the situation of someone making some kind of insult, and finding no support from the audience, says “C’mon, folks, I was only joking…” The second is of someone who seriously was trying to make a joke out of a situation, but finds it wasn’t heard like that. I prefer to think it was the second.

Emails and blog comments are notoriously difficult places to register humour. That’s why someone invented emoticons, and why Doug can be so happy offering everyone lots of smileys (yes, Doug, that was joke, just a friendly elbow in the ribs to show we know you love to sprinkle smileys everywhere). Pam certainly didn’t see the joke, because she was actually hurting. I took a deep breath when I saw it, and preferred to let it go in the hope that it was just misguided, but then felt I had to respond to your later comments.

Sorry - I’m not the policeman here, and it isn’t for me to tell you how to do blog comments. But I do have to say how I heard your comment - if I’ve misread you, I apologise, but that is how it came across to me.


Pam 02.18.11 at 10:59 am

I think you’re attempting to make as much of an apology as you’re capable of giving. I was deeply hurt by what you said, as most reasonable people would be. Passing if off as a joke may help your conscience I guess.
I most certainly don’t like your idea of robust debate either. But what good is it being a Christian if I can’t at least reply to you.


PamBG 02.18.11 at 2:00 pm

Beth, I have to say that your remark didn’t sound facetious to me. It seemed like a pretty clear case of attacking the person instead of addressing the issue.

Equally, you seem to find Pam’s perspective that “Everyone should respond to someone when they are spoken to”[1] to be “malicious”. Which, frankly, I don’t understand either. Although I am in solidarity with Pam that I don’t like the way you seem to define “robust debate” as evidenced by your approach here.

But could it simply be that different people have different perspectives on what is and what is not socially acceptable? And that part of being a group is understanding these different perspectives and then becoming clear on how the different individuals in the group are or not willing to compromise?

[1] A perspective that I don’t personally agree with, just in case it needs saying.


Tim 02.18.11 at 4:34 pm

It’s time for some perspective here.

At 8.16 p.m. on Wednesday, UK time, Doug responded to a comment I had made, taking seriously something I had made as a joke.

At 9.32 p.m. Pam made a comment about Kim’s original post. Please note that this is 2.32 in the afternoon Canadian time, I am a pastor, and I was out visiting people for the afternoon and thus away form my computer. I do not have (or want) a smart phone.

At about 11.30 p.m. (i.e. 4.35 in the afternoon) I logged on again and read the comments. I agreed with Pam’s comment but was in a bit of a hurry so chose not to respond, and anyway I don’t feel compelled to comment on every comment on every post I comment on, on a blog that is not my blog. I did, however, take a moment to point out to Doug that I had been joking, sending this comment at 11.35 p.m. (4.35 in the afternoon my time). I then finished up a few other things at my desk and before going home for supper (my office is not in my house, unlike in many churches in the UK, but a four-mile drive away, at the church).

At 11.49 (4.49 my time, Pam posted a comment choosing to take offence that I had responded to Doug and not to her. At least, that’s what I think she meant by saying that the thread so far had reinforced her view that this blog is a ‘bastion of male supremacy’, and she explicitly pointed to this exchange in her clarifying comment #27.

You know, I like to think that I am a very patient man, but I could be tempted to lose patience over this.


Richard 02.18.11 at 6:38 pm

Good Lord! You have been having fun without me…

It’s impossible to respond in detail to a thread I’ve only been able to skim through, but I concur with Tim: we need to keep some perspective here. There’s no point in getting upset if no one responds to a comment: life is surely too short for that. There are all sorts of reasons why people leave comments (or not). Let’s try not to assume the worst of each other. Likewise, when comments are left that make our hackles rise there’s wisdom in not always jumping immediately down their throats. (I know, I should heed my own advice) We can’t know what else is going on in someone’s life: a willingness to bear with one another makes this blogging business much more fun.


fat prophet 02.18.11 at 7:24 pm

Richard I love the picture on your comment - it looks like a cheer-leading Methodist Minister doing a little bit of dancing. I hope it’s not a self portrait!!


Doug 02.18.11 at 7:55 pm

FT, that funny. My impression of the image was of a dancing French Catholic nun clown. :)

BTW, FT, we may need to proceede with caution on this one. It is possible that one of his daughters may have made that picture and Richard uploaded it as his picture. Richard, if that is the case we apologize in advance. :)

Love all ya bro’es and sis’es in the Lord. :)


Richard 02.18.11 at 7:56 pm

My daughter drew it when she was 4 or 5. She’s almost 14 now — I haven’t told her that I’ve started using it again.


Doug 02.18.11 at 8:48 pm

“BTW, FT, we may need to proceede with caution on this one. It is possible that one of his daughters may have made that picture and Richard uploaded it as his picture. Richard, if that is the case we apologize in advance.”

Richard and FP, how’s that for intuition? :)

Richard, sounds like your girl is the “apple of your eye” and from Scripture she is in God’s eyes too. :) I like the picture. Keep using it, Richard.


Pam 02.18.11 at 9:02 pm

Reading all the above comments, I like Pam BG’s and Tony’s. From my perspective, of course! I like both of them very much - just as engaging with Doug is something others like to do! Ad infinitum and ad nauseum. That’s what I got irritated about yes. But look, a big positive has come out of this and that’s - I have checked out fat prophet’s blog and will again!!


Doug 02.18.11 at 9:41 pm

Pam, was I the one that got you irritated? That celarly was not my intent and I truly want to know so that I can possibly refrain from it.

“just a friendly elbow in the ribs to show we know you love to sprinkle smileys everywhere).”

It is great that we can all “get along” with our various diverse opinions.
This seems (not being sarcastic) a very kumbyah momment. And for all of you who like my smilelys here goes, sorry Kim hate to leave you on a bad note on a Friday:



Doug 02.18.11 at 9:42 pm

Make that

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)


Pam 02.18.11 at 10:15 pm

You’re an engaging personality Doug.


PamBG 02.18.11 at 10:20 pm

Pam, if I can add a little more perspective. Where I live in the conservative part of the non-urban Midwest of the United States, views like Doug’s and Earl’s are actually pretty common. Their view of Christianity is pretty common. That’s why I personally engage with them from time to time and why I like to see other people engaging with them.

To me, they represent a voice in the US that might very well be growing louder and stronger.

For better or worse, the US is still a superpower. And, for better or worse, most of our citizens don’t have a flipping clue that “When the US sneezes, the rest of the world gets the ‘flu”. More than any other Western country, one of the central values of the US is selfishness - which is couched in the guise of “independence”.

That’s why I want to see their ideas addressed.


PamBG 02.18.11 at 10:22 pm

Lest anyone gets the idea that I’m idealizing the UK, I think that the value of “selfishness” is growing rapidly, especially as the post-War generation dies out. Which is simply another reason to address this world-view.


Pam 02.19.11 at 12:11 am

Glad I live in laid-back Australia, Pam. :)


PamBG 02.19.11 at 12:30 am

I hope to visit some-day. I had many Australian friends in London but have never visited.


Pam 02.19.11 at 8:36 am

You are very welcome to visit Milton, south coast NSW, Pam. I’m a one-eyed Aussie I admit but I’m in love with this place.


PamBG 02.19.11 at 1:16 pm

Thank you. Who knows?


Pam 02.19.11 at 11:32 pm

I think why I’m having a bit of trouble (amongst many reasons) with the over-engagement (as I see it) with Doug is that Australia is largely a secular country. Not always a bad thing. Many Australians never go near a church and organised religion.


Peter Banks 02.20.11 at 9:16 am

Blog traffic Jackpot!! Respect, Kim…


PamBG 02.20.11 at 11:50 am

Pam, I can understand that. The UK (where I lived and worked and ministered for 21 years) is also a largely secular country.

Back near my hometown here in the US for the first time since 1975, I see the “Tea Partyers” invoking Christ and this brand of political-relgio-Christianity in the social tumult that we (and the rest of the world) are experiencing. The quality of “religifying” politics (God wants us all to be conservatives) is startling, frighting, and - in my opinion - wrong.


Beth 02.21.11 at 11:59 am

Dear Pam,

You don’t like my idea of robust debate; I don’t like your idea of “reasonable people”, if such an evidently ridiculous comment coming from a member of the group it is meant to malign would be hurtful to anyone reasonable. I appreciate, though, that you don’t know me or my sense of humour, and therefore have no way of judging that I would never in all seriousness accuse someone of having PMT as an explanation for what they say. I really am very sorry that you were hurt by what was intended, certainly, as pointed and ironic, but not as a personal insult.


Pam 02.21.11 at 7:47 pm

Thank you for that.
Don’t underestimate the power of “opposites” attracting so maybe we would be friends. You’d have to start admiring Germaine Greer though (a little)!
Grace and peace


Doug 02.22.11 at 4:16 pm

“God wants us all to be conservatives”

Did I ever say that?

“When the US sneezes, the rest of the world gets the ‘flu”.
amd when the rest of the world sneezes the US has to clean up the mess and do the “dirty work” to help nations be what they desire to be aka South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, etc., even UK, France and Italy. The fact is America is NOT making the world get the flu. The fact is the flu has already been here long before America gets involved. It is that America is the only ones to have the guts to help nations get rid of the flu.


Doug 02.22.11 at 4:19 pm

What would have happened in nations if the Us would not have gotten involved in these nations? South Korea, Japan, UK, France, Italy, Taiwan, etc. Do you think these nations would have been able to prevent on their own the terrible regimes of Communism and Fascism from taken root?


Doug 02.22.11 at 4:30 pm


Doug 02.22.11 at 4:31 pm

Dinesh from the post above is a person who immigrated to America.

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