September 24, 2009

Do we want a wall of separation between religion and news?

Amazing video of a little girl not getting hit by a car:

Via Boing Boing, where the commenters express revulsion at the newscaster's reference to a "guardian angel."

Do we want a wall of separation between religion and news?

89 comments:

peter hoh said...

I want a wall of separation between some commenters and the internet.

Triangle Man said...

Incredible. An incredible story and an incredibly stupid thing to complain about. The news caster says "..the benefit of luck, timing, and perhaps a guardian angel". I'd say that covers the bases.

madawaskan said...

Commenters at Boing Boing all wee-wee'd up.

Pathetic.

Bissage said...

First Townsperson: Who was that guardian angel?

Second Townsperson: And we never got a chance to thank him.

rhhardin said...

Guardian angels aren't interested unless you're drunk.

campy said...

I'm pretty sure I heard a bell ring ...

Dark Eden said...

I think it comes down to bigotry against Christians. There's a word for hating Jews, Muslims, Gays, Blacks, etc etc, but there isn't even a word for being bigoted against Christians. Even the idea sounds strange.

South Park helped show this in their Mohammed episode. You can't even show an image of Mohammed, that was edited out by the censors. But 12 seconds later you could show Jesus getting crapped on, and that was just fine and dandy.

To some bigots, any expression of Christianity is too much. And its totally fine, there is NO hesitation with expressing this type of bigotry in our society at all. Its really quite disgusting frankly. Especially because the very people who are so rabidly bigoted against Christians tend to be the ones that see racism against Obama in even the mildest criticism of him.

EDH said...

Notice, upon the return to the anchor desk, Meredith Vieira does a double-correct "No, definitely a guardian angel... [wince]... or perhaps."

Does reflect an overt consciousness of the prohibition in that newsroom.

MadisonMan said...

I want a wall between unscientific explanations of coincidence, reporters who love to hear the sound of their own voice, and the credulous public. Or something.

This story wouldn't have been reported nationally if a 6-yo girl walking on the wrong side of the posts had been crushed by an out-of-control car. Because in that case, the Guardian Angel was really falling down on the job.

madawaskan said...

The only acceptable religions-

Obamanity & Global Warming.

m00se said...

Militant Atheism (yes, it exists) is not the disbelief in God, but an antagonism to God or the concept of God. People who traffic in this sort of Atheism see religion, at best, as a bad habit on the level of smoking or voting Republican, and who feel that children should not be exposed to it before the age of 30.

Sort of like the brand of Catholicism that Sully practices...

Richard Dolan said...

"Do we want a wall of separation between religion and news?"

What would be the argument for it? The only thing that comes to mind is some version of the 'opiate of the losers' argument - the news should disseminate the truth, and religious notions are all fictions. There are already many news outlets that have internalized that notion.

But I don't see anything to recommend it. Religion provides a frame of reference through which many view the world. A wall of separation between religion and the news makes no more sense than a wall that would preclude putting a story about an event into a larger frame of reference of whatever nature.

miller said...

Were the Boing-Boinger clutching their pearls when they reacted to this? Because it seems obvious that this statement was completely over-the-top out-of-line. Imagine! Referring to a common, beloved meme in this way!

Much better to say "the path of the car missed the girl, which was all according to the laws of physic." That would really make it a better story. Plus they could even say "a metallic object approached but missed an organic object. Film at 11."

downtownlad said...

Christians are the bigots. Every single one of them.

I have zero tolerance for intolerant bigots.

traditionalguy said...

The wall they demand is a false claim based on the earlier unchallenged false claim that there is a wall between Church and State in the First Amendment that says no such thing. The tacit acceptance of that false claim has been imposed to outlaw God talk in a State owned place or in a State owned school. Once we went along with that, it is a short step to outlawing god talk in a State owned broadcast media.

blake said...

Irony is...
Christians are the bigots. Every single one of them.

I have zero tolerance for intolerant bigots.

blake said...

Stupidity is thinking this needs to be interpreted literally.

PoNyman said...

I like one of the comments after the fact.

"How many times have I banged into one of those poles and thought, boy, what a nuisance."

In all my years of driving I've never come close to hitting one of those poles.

I'd say in the newscasters case he should be glad they are there. Hilarious. Sometimes I get a kick out of post news filler commentary.

raf said...

If we did get a wall of separation betwen religion and news, they couldn't really report on Obama any more.

Robert Cook said...

As an atheist, I'm not offended by a news reader referring to a "guardian angel" on religious grounds; this is just the personal reaction of the news reader.

I do object, however, to the whole practice--decades-in-the-making and now irremovably entrenched--of news readers behaving and speaking extemporaneously, interacting with each other as if they're pals having a coffee klatch, giggling one moment at a silly human interest story, then the next moment assuming a pretense at gravity as they report some terrible event. Such personal remarks are part and parcel of that. It were better if the news readers behaved as they did when I was a kid: sober, unsmiling, reading the news as written, then moving on the the next story. NO PERSONAL COMMENTS OR REACTIONS OF ANY KIND ON ANY SUBJECT.

The very practice of such faux-spontaneity, or even real spontaneity when it flares up, serves as editorializing. By their behavior, tone of voice, facial expression and general demeanor the news readers communicate their own--or their editorial directors'--apparent feelings about the stories, intended to influence how we feel about the stories. Their behavior dramatizes the story to an intended result, just as does the music in films.

It's a pernicious practice, and is as aspect of the overall rottenness of tv news reporting.

Comrade X said...

Christians are the bigots. Every single one of them.

I have zero tolerance for intolerant bigots.



Norman, coordinate.

jag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oligonicella said...

blake --

"Stupidity is thinking this needs to be interpreted literally."

Agreed. Unfortunately, any side of any issue has its morons.

Big Mike said...

I have zero tolerance for intolerant bigots.

How do you live with yourself?

phosphorious said...

I never realized how fragile christians were: a comment on a blogpost is proof that there is a uniquely pernicious anti-christian bigotry in this country.

We don't even have a word for it!!!!

My god, man the barricades because they are comin to take away your bibles!!!

What brittle titty-babies you are.

Big Mike said...

There's a saying I stumbled across a long time ago: "Live your life so you are never unworthy of your guardian angel."

Whether one believes in Christianity or not (I'm an atheist) or believes in guardian angels or not (and I doubt whether most Christians do), that's not a bad way to live.

Henry said...

"parking pole"?

It's called a bollard.

The girl is very lucky to escape unharmed. On the other hand, she was very unlucky to be in the path of an out-of-control car. How often does that happen?

She must have one of those absent-minded guardian angels.

At least she doesn't have a squeamish one like Warren Beatty's in Heaven Can Wait. Then she'd really be in trouble.

Alex said...

My god, man the barricades because they are comin to take away your bibles!!!

What brittle titty-babies you are.


You know I'm an atheist and don't like Christianity in general. But I like you even less.

Flexo said...

there isn't even a word for being bigoted against Christians. Even the idea sounds strange.

Sure there is. It's called persecution.

And the idea does not sound strange. Indeed, it has been promised to Christians:
"Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them. . . . You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” Mk 13:9-13
"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” Jn 15:18-20

The one who said that was subsequently seized, tortured, and killed by crucifixion. All but one of his closest followers were likewise killed, some by crucifixion, and one by being flayed alive.

The earliest Christians were frequently subjected to arrests, beatings, and killings by the governing authorities. A few were put to the sword, but many were simply made sport of, being fed to wild beasts while others looked on or being turned into human torches - stuck on poles and burned alive - to provide light for the entertainment.

Such persecution has continued to the modern day, with the 20th Century being one of the periods of the greatest persecution.

The idea of anti-Christian bigotry doesn't sound strange. It sounds normal and to be expected. If they crucified Jesus, and he is the Christ, what do you expect they will do to little insignificant you?

Sigivald said...

I'm with Mr. Cook, mostly.

I'd prefer dignified newsreaders, if we even need a talking head to say news-words at us.

But on the other hand, I suppose there might be a certain benefit in their familiarity and engagement, in that it would seem to reduce the appearance of impartiality.

Because they're not going to be impartial (or the writer whose words they read won't be) in any case, even if they try to be; why maintain the illusion?

I prefer an openly side-taking press to one that pretends not to do so.

Shanna said...

I want a wall between unscientific explanations of coincidence, reporters who love to hear the sound of their own voice, and the credulous public.

I would be happy if they just stopped talking about celebrities.

Wandering Geologist said...

I object to the newscaster attributing her survival to "luck." Haven't we, as a country of rational people, moved beyond the need to explain such things with "luck" and "chance" that can be explained with science instead? These superstitious newscasters need to take their belief system somewhere else.

/sarcasm

Robert Cook said...

"I prefer an openly side-taking press to one that pretends not to do so."

I agree.

However, such "happy talk" behavior as I describe and decry does not serve to announce the partiality of the news organ, but merely to trivialize the news, replacing hard news to great degree with human interest stories and celebrity gossip, making "the news" palatable for the "consumers," all the while disguising the very real partiality of the reporting. (Of course, how tv news is partial is open to debate; right wingers see the mainstream media as a whole as poisoned by so-called "liberal bias," while reasonable people agree that the mainstream media, to the not inconsiderable degree it is biased, is biased toward a corporatist point of view, which is to say, a right leaning point of view.)

edutcher said...

Simply put, I don't mind the happy talk (much) or attributions to God.

I do mind being lied to by these twits.

WV "guesphee" What Obama ought to be charged every time he names a dollar saving in health care

Paddy O. said...

Dignified newscasters might be nice, but no one would watch.

Having personality helps build a connection, and people respond to others who show genuine human emotion and convey this emotion in approachable, recognizable terms.

Boing Boing is pretty ant-religion in general, mostly in the sad ways that a lot (certainly not all) of atheism is these days. Ignorance breeds hate--which can be even more potent if the ignorance is hidden by a veneer of supposed knowledge. The same sort of thing that gets religious people attacked when opining on science.

I used to visit Boing Boing more frequently, but it just got too frustrating. More Dan Brown than open-minded.

Guardian angels are more popular, cultural religion than anything else. It's an innocent phrase that sounds more open to the mystical than "coincidence". And, honestly, is probably as equally a good explanation if one only limits assertion of fact to verifiable conclusions. Dismissing "guardian angels" is just a non-rational dismissal of a reality not encompassed by human perception--a reality which may or may not exist.

Plus, there certainly enough anger in some militant atheism that if they had the power there certainly would be persecution of the religious. Speaking out against this, a increasingly culturally accepted bias, helps to make sure it does not ever become a fact in this country as it has in a whole lot of countries around the world.

Ultra-sensitivity to innocuous phrases may not be particularly troubling, but it's not a good habit to entirely ignore with silence. They are silly to be so alarmed by someone with a human personality using a broadly understood culturally religious sentiment and should be told so.

William said...

By way of fair and balanced coverage, next time there is a story about a younbg child hit by a car, I would like the anchors to comment on how incompetent her guardian angel must have been.

Dark Eden said...

Blogger phosphorious said...

I never realized how fragile christians were: a comment on a blogpost is proof that there is a uniquely pernicious anti-christian bigotry in this country.

We don't even have a word for it!!!!

My god, man the barricades because they are comin to take away your bibles!!!

What brittle titty-babies you are.


>>>> Actually I'm a Pagan and I have more reason to hate Christians that most, I suspect. I've known some real scumbags who are Christians, but some of my best friends are also Christian and its hard to ignore the growing mainstreaming of anti Christian bigotry. Even your assumption that only a Christian would complain about anti Christian bigotry is a symptom of how mainstream it is!

The way I like to describe it... I have a problem with Christianity, you have a problem with Christians.

Revenant said...

"Guardian angel" is an English figure of speech. It doesn't automatically convey religious meaning, even though some Christians believe in literal guardian angels.

There's nothing wrong with newscasters using it. Of course, given that newscasters work in the private sector there wouldn't be anything wrong with saying "Our savior Jesus Christ personally intervened to save that little girl", except inasmuch as it wouldn't be true. The private sector can be as religious (or non-) as it wants.

Will said...

Oh, fiddlesticks, Phosphorous. There was not "one comment" the clear majority were anti-religious, and mostly in the boring old religion=stupidity line.
Take, for instance, this gem:
"We fear for your ignorance, America. Please come back to the world of science.
/the world"

Because a few fruit-loops try and argue for a simplistic literal interpretation of the creation story in Genesis, all religious believers are ignorant knuckledraggers who believe the world was created a week ago Thursday.
Similarly an anodyne comment about a guardian angel protecting this child somehow means that any other child that is hurt either doesn't have a guardian angel or God hates that child.

I'm inclined to agree with Paddy O., while this isn't in the same league as throwing Christians to the lions, or burning martyrs at the stake, the angry knee-jerk response is troubling. You'd think that Lee Cowan had gotten down on his knees and thanked Jesus for hip-checking the car out of the way.

traditionalguy said...

I sense that the athiests are getting restless. The economic disaster of the last year has nearly ruined many good people's lives and hopes, with the result that many are turning back to faith in a Good God to rescue them. In other words the hip attitude of independence from God, or faith in God, is not as fashionable this year. Let's pray that the athiests don't lose it and riot.

Henry said...

You'd think that Lee Cowan had gotten down on his knees and thanked Jesus for hip-checking the car out of the way.

That sounds like a job for Chip Ahoy.

Henry said...

Traditionalguy, you can count on me. I'm not rioting.

Seven Machos said...

I was in my mother's hometown not long ago and I was struck by the frequency with which people mentioned the existence and active intervention of guardian angels. It reminded me, for whatever reasons, of a visit to Saigon (or, if you like, Ho Chi Minh City) where I saw completely fixed plates of food sitting outside the homes of regular people. These plates of food, I was told, were for the spirits of the dead. The spirits would eat the spirit of food at night, rendering it tasteless.

I don't know what the secular Vietnamese authorities thought of this practice but I suspect they didn't love it, for the same reason that overly secular Americans don't like all this talk of guardian angels. Anything that spirits of the dead can give you or guardian angels can give you is something that the State cannot provide. This rankles, because the State is the supreme power and benefactor in their eyes.

Revenant said...

The economic disaster of the last year has nearly ruined many good people's lives and hopes, with the result that many are turning back to faith in a Good God to rescue them. In other words the hip attitude of independence from God, or faith in God, is not as fashionable this year.

The economic disaster of the last year has nearly ruined many good people's lives and hopes, with the result that many are turning to the Democratic Party. The hip attitude of independence from government control, of free markets, is not fashionable this year.

I'm just sayin'. :)

Robert Cook said...

"I sense that the athiests are getting restless. The economic disaster of the last year has nearly ruined many good people's lives and hopes, with the result that many are turning back to faith in a Good God to rescue them. In other words the hip attitude of independence from God, or faith in God, is not as fashionable this year. Let's pray that the athiests don't lose it and riot."

I don't think God ever promised to "rescue" anyone from misfortune...heck, misfortune is another word for "living" for more people than not, historically and presently. He serves, for those who believe, not as protection against misfortune, but as a bulwark against despair in the face of misfortune; those who believe "know" that whatever travails they may suffer, they will ultimately reside in glorious paradise with God. A parent cannot guarantee his child will be saved from bruises and scrapes, but he can comfort his child when life is scrapy and bruisy.

Seven Machos said...

I don't think God ever promised to "rescue" anyone from misfortune

More in a long line of evidence that Robert Cook has no idea what nor has read a single one of the books he despises.

Robert Cook said...

"More in a long line of evidence that Robert Cook has no idea what nor has read a single one of the books he despises."

And what books would those be?

c3 said...

I'll avoid the believer/non-believer discussion and say:

I saw this on the news last night and wondered how many times monitors have caught horrific incidents (i.e. this same event but without the concrete poles to protect the child)that don't make the national news (because they are too horrific)

Seven Machos said...

Let's see, Robert.

Psalms.
Job.
Samuel I and II.
Genesis.

Just to name a few.

God's rescuing people and people seeking to be rescued by God happen repeatedly in those books.

Do you have to make it so easy?

Seven Machos said...

...Moreover, God specifically makes promises to David and Moses to rescue them from trouble.

Revenant said...

Psalms. Job. Samuel I and II. Genesis.

Regarding Job, can you really call someone a "rescuer" when he caused the misfortune he's "rescuing" you from? If a guy shot me and then took me to the hospital, "thanks for saving me" would not be the first words out of my mouth. :)

God's rescuing people and people seeking to be rescued by God happen repeatedly in those books.

Certainly there are countless examples in the Bible of God rescuing people. But what Robert said was this:

I don't think God ever promised to "rescue" anyone from misfortune

Robert is mistaken about that never happening, but it IS relatively rare, and becomes basically nonexistent as of the New Testament. Jesus, for example, promises the poor that they will be rewarded in Heaven, but he doesn't even hint that God will help them escape from poverty. He promises salvation in the afterlife, not in the mortal realm.

Seven Machos said...

God promised to rescue all of the Jews into perpetuity. That's why He "remembered" them when they got enslaved in Egypt. This is just one example.

I'm not defending the morality in the books. I'm not saying the stuff happened. I'm merely pointing out that it's crazy for someone who has never read the Bible to suggest that God never said He'd rescue people when, in fact, it was common practice.

Moreover, the Psalms are filled with pleas to rescue. Your position is that God is a fiction. If that is true, and if people plea for God to rescue them, it can only be that one of God's attributes is that He rescues people. Why else want it?

Thus, again, are atheists hoisted on their own petard.

Revenant said...

God promised to rescue all of the Jews into perpetuity.

I think you're misreading the passage in question. Could you cite the specific verses? I would also observe that events of the last few thousand years prove that either God didn't really promise that, or he lied. :)

That's why He "remembered" them when they got enslaved in Egypt. This is just one example.

Lot of good that did the Jews who lived their whole lives and died as slaves before God got around to remembering they were there. I think the source of your confusion is that you're conflating God's promise to preserve the Jewish people with a promise to save individual Jews. There is no such promise from God in the Bible.

Moreover, the Psalms are filled with pleas to rescue.

Did Robert say "nobody ever pleaded for God to rescue them" and I just missed it? I'm not sure why else you would think the pleas are relevant.

If that is true, and if people plea for God to rescue them, it can only be that one of God's attributes is that He rescues people. Why else want it?

Like I noted above, nobody said "God never rescues people". If you're in trouble, you pray. If you get out of trouble, God saved you; if not, well the god(s) are inscrutable. A trait of most god(s), the Judeo-Christian one included, is that sometimes they save you and sometimes they don't, but there's no telling which it will be.

Shanna said...

right wingers see the mainstream media as a whole as poisoned by so-called "liberal bias," while reasonable people agree that the mainstream media, to the not inconsiderable degree it is biased, is biased toward a corporatist point of view, which is to say, a right leaning point of view.

Reasonable people = Me, Unreasonable people = everyone who disagrees with me! Just more of that open minded liberal though mentioned on another thread.

The way I like to describe it... I have a problem with Christianity, you have a problem with Christians.

Excellent explanation.

Job.

God's rescuing people and people seeking to be rescued by God happen repeatedly in those books.


But, God pretty much let Satan kill Job’s whole family and sent boils and destroyed all his crops and whatever else happened in that book, before he came in to do any rescuing, right? Granted it's been a while since I read Job, but God let's a whole lot go down at first.

Seven Machos said...

As always, Rev, you are conflating the literal accuracy of the Bible with the literature that is the Bible.

Did God's promise to rescue/save (however you wish to translate the translation of the translation of the Hebrew) work out for the Jews? That's a tremendously good question. And what of the author who wrote it? Did the author also see the bitter irony? But you laugh it all off with historical accuracy issues.

Seven Machos said...

Shanna -- God rescued Job. He also allowed Job to get into his need to be rescued for no reason.

It's a fascinating story.

Shanna said...

Shanna -- God rescued Job. He also allowed Job to get into his need to be rescued for no reason.

Well, yeah, but after he had a big convo with Satan and told him he could do all kinds of stuff to Job. He didn't rescue Job's family, did he?

It is a fascinating story, but I guess it's obvious that some aspects bug me.

Seven Machos said...

Shanna -- Forget the bet between God and Satan. That's really just plot mechanism, as is the folkloric ending.

The guts of the story -- Job's yelling at God (he wants to put God on trial), the three friends spouting platitudes and Job mocking them, and God's eventual appearance and what He says -- is what makes the story incontestably fabulous.

Seven Machos said...

P.S.: Re the family: some people read it as God restoring the lives of the children. Others don't. It all turns on one word, and Hebrew and translations of translations of Hebrew are apparently quite tricky.

Salamandyr said...

Christians are the bigots. Every single one of them.

I have zero tolerance for intolerant bigots.


Could it be DTL is a bigger bullshitter than Titus? Because NOBODY can be that un-self-aware.

Revenant said...

The guts of the story [...] is what makes the story incontestably fabulous.

Which is odd, because Jewish and Christian theologists have been contesting the fabulousness of the story for thousands of years. But even if it is "fabulous", it is pretty obviously silly to cite it as an example of God rescusing someone. :)

Christopher said...

Just keep in mind that we're talking about BoingBoing commenters here. They're the annoying nerdy losers you knew in high school. And no, I don't mean the fun ones, the ones who were passionate about music or math or computers and marched to the beat of a different drum. I'm talking about the lazy, stupid, and cretinous ones who, despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary, insisted that they were smarter, better, and more well-informed than everyone else.

On that note, if you're whining about the anti-Christian bigotry on display at BoingBoing, you probably need to go punch some sides of beef and toughen up a little like Rocky or something.

Seven Machos said...

Rev -- No one says that Job isn't a fabulous story. Even people who don't like it admit that it's great poetry.

Revenant said...

Rev -- No one says that Job isn't a fabulous story. Even people who don't like it admit that it's great poetry.

It is funny that you would say "no one says that Job isn't a fabulous story" after slamming Robert for saying "I don't think God ever promised to 'rescue' anyone from misfortune". It would appear that BOTH of you are rather appallingly ignorant of opinions outside your own narrow areas of interest. The opinion that Job is great poetry is much like the claim that the Koran is great poetry. It is widely held by adherents of the religions in question, and widely disputed outside of them.

Ann Althouse said...

"Boing Boing is pretty ant-religion in general..."

Ant-religion? Is that like insect-politics?

Big Mike said...

The Book of Job is a morality play. Nothing more. Archibald MacLeish updated it (by a few millenia) and won a Pulitzer for it.

Seven Machos said...

Rev -- I think you'll be hard pressed to find anyone, anywhere who doesn't say that Job is among the greatest poetry. But good luck in your search.

Revenant said...

Rev -- I think you'll be hard pressed to find anyone, anywhere who doesn't say that Job is among the greatest poetry.

Amusingly, a Google search for the exact phrase "Job is among the greatest poetry" returns zero hits. While the opinion is held by some people (although certainly not, as Seven fantasizes, virtually everybody), the exact wording appears to be unique.

But good luck in your search.

I don't need to search for opinions I've been aware of for years, silly. You're the one who needs to get out more. :)

Paddy O. said...

"Is that like insect-politics?"

Ha!

I suspect it probably has a lot to do with the ant people who will come from the salvation world that boing-boing readers hope to populate. They will convert to the ant-religion so as to score all the best ant-chicks.

Blissfully unaware that this is precisely what got the Israelites in trouble.

Seven Machos said...

I guess I am honored that you are now googling my exact phrasing, Rev.

Christopher said...

Seven Machos wrote:

"I guess I am honored that you are now googling my exact phrasing, Rev."

Yeah, what's up with that? If a Google search doesn't produce a hit with that exact phrasing, then you're wrong?

I'm missing something.

WV: Halog. A blog about angels, guardian or otherwise.

Methadras said...

Dark Eden said...

I think it comes down to bigotry against Christians. There's a word for hating Jews, Muslims, Gays, Blacks, etc etc, but there isn't even a word for being bigoted against Christians.


They are either known as Christohysterics or Christophobes. No, that is not a ding against Christopher, the commenter.

Revenant said...

Yeah, what's up with that? If a Google search doesn't produce a hit with that exact phrasing, then you're wrong? I'm missing something.

A sense of humor, apparently. Like I said, I thought it was amusing. It doesn't prove anything, and I didn't claim it did. I just thought it was funny that when I Googled the opinion Seven claimed was universally held, using his wording, I got no hits at all.

Disproving Seven's claim that nobody disagrees with his opinion of Job is easy, since the fact that I happen to disagree with it proves that people like me exist.

I would also observe that searching poetry sites for "best poems" lists reveals a curious lack of anything from the Bible on most of them. Which, again, is odd considering that apparently everyone (or at least almost everyone) thinks the Book of Job is some of the best poetry ever.

I have to wonder... what's supposed to be good about it? The characters aren't particularly interesting or likable, the problem it poses is one that doesn't even exist unless you believe in God, and while there may be aesthetically pleasing elements to the original Hebrew, the English translations are generally pretty stilted.

Beth said...


Do we want a wall of separation between religion and news?


The question doesn't flow from the comments section at BoingBoing. Nothing there proposes a wall of separation.

Seven Machos said...

Rev -- You know I like you.

You've got to take the black crepe paper off the Bible and look at it for what it is: one of the best anthologies of literature ever collected.

Most people don't think of the poetry in the Bible as poetry. They are the black crepe paper crowd, too, for their own reasons. Many are too pious. Many are too atheistic. Break free from those limitations.

Robert Alter is the place to start (though he has not done Job).

Christopher said...

Beth wrote:

"The question doesn't flow from the comments section at BoingBoing. Nothing there proposes a wall of separation."

You're a very literal-minded person, aren't you?

Christopher said...

Revenant,

I think that you're kind of missing Seven Machos's point. I mean, yeah, I guess it's possible to read his comments as saying that everyone everywhere just loves the Book of Job, but that read is really unfair. It's pretty clear that what he was saying was that there's a general consensus that it's an important literary work. (Correct me if I'm wrong, Seven Machos!)

That's a really uncontroversial statement to make, actually.

Seven Machos said...

Indeed, the general consensus among literati of all persuasions is that Job is one of the best poems ever written.

Thank you for that clarification.

Rev knows better, though. And he knows that I know that he knows better.

Beth said...

You're a very literal-minded person, aren't you?

No. Why do you ask?

This post is just silly. It's a silly question to take away from the comments at BB.

Christopher said...

Beth wrote:

"No. Why do you ask?"

Because the comments thread was full of assholes who were bitching and moaning in the most overwrought terms about people on a television show using the term "guardian angel".

If you can't see how those comments led to Ann's post without someone literally proposing a separation between television news and religion in that thread... well, that seems like an extremely literal-minded approach to me.

That's why I asked.

"This post is just silly. It's a silly question to take away from the comments at BB."

It's only a silly question if (again) you're very literal minded. The specific question was, "Do people really need to freak out like these idiots when the hosts of a morning television program use the term 'guardian angel'", but the broader question is whether or not religion should be completely driven from the public sphere.

Of course, as I said above, we're dealing with BoingBoing commenters, who are mostly idiots, so it's a kind of a non-issue, because most of them are looking for the flimsiest excuse to bitch and moan about how stupid their fellow Americans are.

Sofa King said...

Could it be DTL is a bigger bullshitter than Titus? Because NOBODY can be that un-self-aware.


"There are some people who do not love their fellow man, and I HATE people like that."

Beth said...

If you can't see how those comments led to Ann's post without someone literally proposing a separation between television news and religion in that thread... well, that seems like an extremely literal-minded approach to me.

I disagree. It's a judgment call; I find the leap a bit petty, and hence silly.

Beth said...

we're dealing with BoingBoing commenters, who are mostly idiots,

There you go - now you get it. Jumping from a few stupid comments about "guardian angels" to an complete overstatement of "do we REALLY want..." makes sense to you because that blog's commenters are "mostly idiots" - that's silly, and petty. And hysterically funny, considering how much idiocy appears in pretty much all blog comment sections, including this one.

Revenant said...

It's pretty clear that what he was saying was that there's a general consensus that it's an important literary work.

What he actually said was "you'll be hard pressed to find anyone, anywhere who doesn't say that Job is among the greatest poetry". That statement is false. His earlier statement, that "the story incontestably fabulous", is also false.

Now, it could certainly be the case that Seven was merely making the trite, banal, and utterly off-topic point that the Book of Job, like every book in the Bible, is an important literary work, and simply chose to do so using statements that meant something else entirely. That certainly sounds like something Seven might do.

But I try to confine myself to discussing what people have said, not what I imagine they might mean if they could form coherent thoughts. :)

kentuckyliz said...

Zuzu's Petals!

WV hotie
Yeah, I know. Thanks.

jimspice said...

I'd prefer my government, science AND news religion free, but I don't see THAT happening any time soon.

The more significant question here, if the guardian angel had been a bit less attentive, and the little girl were hit and required hospitalization, would you prefer turning her away if she were here illegally and had no insurance?

traditionalguy said...

One interesting aspect to the Scientific Materialists claim that there are no Spirits or Gods, much less a Hebrew God with a human son, is that it lies within the skeptic attitude of science. No problemo...that is a stance taken as a method of research to gain knowledge. The we wake up and find that the Spritual vacuum has been filled by cults galore, mostly re-runs from pre-christian pagan spirit worship. Now the attitude emerges that Christianity is an enemy force, which it is to the old gods who have returned from where they went when Christianity pushed them out. That is what's new. Atheism is fine, but anti-christianity is another force with another agenda.

Christopher said...

Beth,

"Jumping from a few stupid comments about 'guardian angels' to an complete overstatement of 'do we REALLY want...' makes sense to you because that blog's commenters are 'mostly idiots' - that's silly, and petty."

Go directly to Reading Rainbow and then actually read what I wrote instead of making stuff up, OK?

Seriously, when people express nausea and revulusion because a talk show host said the words "guardian angel", the implication there is that they want even nominally religious terminology out of the public sphere. I don't need one of them to literally advocate for separation between religion and news.

Seeing that implication has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not the commenters at Boing Boing are mostly idiots. They could be having a big ol' Mensa party over there, and I'd still be able to see that implication.

The idiocy of most of their commenters is relevant to the second point that I made, which is that it's no big deal. The commenters at Boing Boing are mostly idiots (the same goes for the bloggers there, actually), so nobody should get all worked up about what they have to say.

So, yeah. Go out, embark on your reading adventure, and then when you can read fairly simple English, we'll talk.

Christopher said...

Revenant wrote:

"But I try to confine myself to discussing what people have said, not what I imagine they might mean if they could form coherent thoughts. :)"

Got it. You're playing internets for fun. I'm down with that. Carry on.