Jejudo, South Korea
You're not going to let me wiggle out of this one, are you? The 'but' in my compliment does not void the first clause (It's only that people tend to place more emphasis on any perceived negatives than they do positives. "Too many notes" as the emperor said to Mozart after praising him.).
You're not the only one who does this, but I don't understand it. Everytime I read "with a person of you're intellect" or "I'm not the smartest kid on the block" I'm always thinking, "What does that have to do with anything?"
I'm sure we both agree that the smartest person in the world can make mistakes (I think the record IQ is 226, from a person who has led a remarkably undistinguished life given that number -- or so we're led to believe and expect). I'm sure we also agree that we can learn many things from children and from those who are slow learners. We have an entire literary tradition of the fool/child/innocent as truth teller.
So why worry about it?
True, we have to make choices about what to read and who to listen to but reputation is based on more than intelligence. If you remember the anti-intellectualism thread, Tim made the excellent point that academics place too much emphasis on intelligence when choosing politicians. I agree but it does seem that not only academics, but everybody sees intelligence as some sort of determining factor with regards to respect (anti-intellectualism just means it determines you're disrespect).
If you've decided to read me or anybody, read the argument, the poem, or whatever. If I make a mistake, call me on it (not worried you won't, of course), if you disagree, tell me and give your reasons. But I simply see no point in extrapolating my IQ from whatever I say and then using that as a point to disagree with that specific argument. This goes as well for "I'm only of average intelligence". Why does this matter? If you have a point, make it, and let me try to decide its value without having to worry about YOUR IQ level.
Paradoxically, I see nothing wrong with claiming a lack of knowledge in any specific area. This is something you can change. As a result, you're essentially telling someone that you're in an inferior position and that you wouldn't mind learning more. At the same time, if you claim superior knowledge without proving it (the secret, my experience, after years of study, I know -- I was watching Fox news yesterday and Holbrook was doing this), you pretty much force me to say, "Prove it."
True, there are certain situations where this is necessary (national security, the promise of secrecy and so forth), but if you have to rely on the "I know" arguments to make your point in a free forum of ideas, it's probably best not to say anything at all.
See the distinctions?
Now obviously this isn't all meant for you, but you gave me the opportunity and I took it.
I agree with just about everything you say, and I don't think Allan meant all Christians either (and if he did, that's easily enough disproved). Auguste makes a distinction between fanatics and Christians and my own example is certainly that of the fanatic, but that's not quite the appropriate distinction for me.
I suppose the easiest way to understand this is to find an Indian Islamic newspaper in English and read it. Don't read it as if they were different from you, read it as if it were a newpaper in the United States and, I hope, you'll be able to glimpse the feeling that troubles me.
Officially, the United States is a secular nation; unofficially, it's hard to see it as anything but a Christian country -- a point lost on most Christians for some reason; perhaps they simply assume that their rituals, their thinking, their language is the natural one?
Aside: Auguste, I disagree, the liberal media do not bash Christians, they bash anything outside of their own (largely Christian inspired) views of what is natural.
Christians ARE the majority, the rest of us are in the minority.
Secularism is not really a religion; it is a tool of language and action to avoid confrontations that most of us neither have the time nor the patience to endure in our everyday (quotidian) lives. Religion, at its best, is a difficult subject, full of passion, energy, thought, and ideas that can literally change your life. A conversation such as this should not be taken into lightly. The Christians I refer to are the ones who break the rules of secularism and attempt to engage in conversation at the wrong time and in the wrong place.
If someone comes up to me and asks me on the street, while I'm walking to work, on a date with my wife, or discussing last night's soccer game with a friend, "Do you know Christ?" How am I supposed to respond? I do not want to enter into this conversation at this time, it should have been clear from the context that I am not interested in this particular conversation at this particular time. The rules of secularism do not hurt the freedom to believe or to speak, they channel them into the appropriate time.
I fail to see how their motivation should be seen as a reason for this break in what we can call, not misleadingly, a 'social contract'. I believe that it trivializes the importance of religion.
A long time ago, a question was posted in this forum (although it would be in the Lounge now): Who was the most important person of the last thousand years?
Inevitably, someone said Jesus Christ. Now, believe it or not, I think a case can be made for that answer but no case was made, it was assumed that it was the correct one -- no explanation needed. While the rest of us were stuck wondering if the question was simply misread, "Who was the most IMPORTANT . . . .", one can imagine the defensiveness of a person who takes the position that how the message is presented is nothing compared to the what of the message. If I got the question wrong, who cares, the only thing that matters is the message.
It is an argument by assertion, by authority, and by arrogance.
It is what I called an "I know" argument and, if you read my response to Interloper, you already know that I consider this to be superfluous, frivolous, and annoying.
Thus, you end up trivializing the very thing you want to promote.
PS Thanks for the compliment.