Politics and the English Language

Where does the real battle lie? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Several decades ago, George Orwell wrote a brilliant essay on politics and the English language. In the essay, he talked about how language is altered in order to mask deeper realities. Today, this still goes on. Any battle that we are facing today usually starts with the words and the language that is used.

Throughout last year, we saw several events taking place across America. Some people called them riots. Others called them protests which were “mostly peaceful.” Part of the debate relied on what you called them. Few people would want to say they supported rioting. Few would want to say that they opposed protest.

When the events of January 6th took place, that was immediately labeled an insurrection. The other side said it was not an insurrection and was at worst, a riot. There was a question of if it was hijacked by a group like Antifa and you can still see people debating that today, but again, part of the debate is a debate over language.

Consider also a subject like abortion. One side calls themselves pro-life. Who would want to be opposed to life? The other side calls themselves pro-choice. Who would want to be opposed to choice? The right uses the term baby definitely because we do think that is what is in the womb and we want to bring that home. The left tends to use terms like fetus, which while it does mean baby in Latin, most people don’t think in those terms and if you say baby, you lose.

There’s an interesting scene in the third season of House where Dr. House has to operate and it involves a pregnant woman who doesn’t want to lose her baby. In the operation, House sees a tiny hand reach out and touch him. The team asks him if he’s okay when he freezes and he says “I just realized I forgot to TiVo Alien.” When he talks to the lady after the successful operation, she notes that it is the first time he used the term “baby.”

What about marriage? Nowadays, many people like to talk about gay marriage, but let’s stop and ask. What is marriage? If marriage is a union between a man and woman that is not just a friendship but necessarily sexual in nature, then by definition there can be no such thing as a gay marriage. After all, you don’t modify a term by introducing a contradiction to that term.

This does not mean the homosexual lobby can be banned from using terms like “Civil Unions.” However, the taking of marriage is to treat the relationships as identical when they are not. One side normally is capable of producing children on its own and the other isn’t. We would also have to ask why the government should have any interest in endorsing homosexual relationships when it has an interest in endorsing marital relationships for the good of the family and the upbringing of children.

I have also written about how in the religious sphere, you can see debates over natural or supernatural. I never use the term supernatural save for writing like this to explain myself, which I have done further here. If we use the term natural, natural is often used as this self-standing existence that needs no explanation for its being and the supernatural is this extra part that you have to demonstrate.

But why should I think nature can stand on its own? Does nature contain within itself the principle of its own existing? What if nature is what is dependent? If nature refers to what is material, what about goodness or numbers or triangularity or even existence itself? Are these “supernatural?”

In our interactions, it is also easy to throw out terms like hate and bigot and once the label is thrown out, most people are automatically put on the defensive. Hate is a notorious one today. We treat all hate as if it is something evil and I have seen even some of my fellow conservatives do this. Hate is too vague. I always want to know what is hated.

Some people could be shocked that I am defending hate and I absolutely am. For example, I hate sex trafficking and pornography. That doesn’t mean that I hate the people involved in those practices that I think are doing something wrong, but it means I hate the practice. I would even say if you don’t hate sex trafficking, there is something wrong with you.

We also have to ask what a bigot is. Someone who disagrees with you is not necessarily a bigot, but if you can call them that, then you automatically have a leg up, yet in the past it referred to someone who could not possibly conceive of their being wrong. In that light, it’s interesting that those who use the term are most likely personifying the term.

Now some people say words change meaning over time, and in a sense this is true, but we should always ask why the change is taking place. Is it because of some new discovery, or is it to change the thought on a topic? After all, Orwell said euphemisms were a great example of this.

This is also why a dictionary is not the best place to go to to define terms academically. A dictionary will give the popular usage of a term and not necessarily an academic one. This is what Orwell would call newspeak in 1984. I have been in debates where I have pointed to scholars on the subject under question and gone to academic works to define a term only to be told that a dictionary was the trump card.

Part of this is going on because we don’t think enough about what we’re talking about. In Parmenides, a dialogue of Plato and the only one where you could say Socrates loses, Parmenides says to do philosophy listen to what the common people say. Listen to the sentences around you and see what people could be saying.

Usually, we start with just ourselves and not with reality. Want to know if something is good or evil? Look at how you feel about it. Don’t look at the action itself. This is also a problem I have constantly when I see people use think and feel like synonyms and thoughts and feelings like synonyms. They are not.

The solution to this is to think about words a lot more. It’s why in so many debates I start with defining terms and if people don’t want to go that route, it tells me plenty. Those of us who are writers need to watch what we are writing about and make sure we are not begging the question. We also need to watch what we are told by major authorities in politics and religion and other areas like that and examine claims better.

It’s not easy, but being good thinkers requires it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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SNL and God’s Not Gay

What do I think of SNL’s parody? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We live in a society today that wants to talk about being kind and generous to everyone. We don’t want to offend anyone. We want to uphold the basic rights of every person that is out there. We want to celebrate our diversity and be tolerant towards everyone.

Except for those Christians. Yeah. We can mark them off.

You see, SNL has decided it’s time to have some fun at the expense of Christians and show just that they must be ridiculous because they oppose redefining marriage. Thus, they have made a little parody video called “God’s Not Gay” although it ends being called “God is a Boob Man.” It’s this idea that all Christians are doing nowadays is arguing against basic rights for homosexuals. It never seems to occur to people that we talk about this for the same reason a lot of people talk about Donald Trump. That’s the issue being talked about right now.

The premise starts off with a baker who refuses to bake a cake for a homosexual couple. Well, you know, it’s kind of good to see that there’s complaints about people refusing to do business with those who have views they disagree with. Naturally, this means that we can expect to soon see an SNL parody of the stance of Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Cirque Du Soleil, a porn site that blocked traffic to NC, and of course, Michael Moore who is withholding his latest film from NC. (Experts predict that he could have a loss of two tickets being sold.)

MichaelMooreBurned

Now here’s the thing. I happen to think that freedom is a wonderful thing and if these people don’t want to do business in NC, that’s their right. In fact, you could say that what they did is in fact a greater violation than what bakers are doing because these people made a contract that they agreed to and then backed out of it. Sure, people’s money for tickets will be reimbursed to them, but what about travel costs, arranging trips, making hotel stays, etc.? Still, no one has a right to the goods and services of these people. They are not obligated to perform for anyone. That’s freedom.

Most of us just want bakers and florists and photographers to get the same basic right. They produce a good or a service and they have the right to do what they want with that good and service. If they find it morally objectionable for them to do something involving a homosexual ceremony, that is their right. There are numerous other bakers and florists and photographers who will do this. Of course, as I say this, I realize that this is where the great virtue of tolerance we heard so much about goes right out the window.

“Well what if this baker wanted to deny making cases to people who are over 6 feet tall? What would you say then?”

I’d say it’s her business and she can do that if she wants. Do I think that would be a foolish decision? Yep. Do I think it would cost her the business? Sure do. Still, it is her business and she can do that if she wants. If she wants to serve only homosexuals and deny cakes for heterosexual couples, that is also her right. It doesn’t make any sense to say we celebrate freedom of everyone but if you disagree with what we want you to do, we will force the law on you.

In the parody, the lady refuses to do this and instead of having it be about an issue, such as what is the thought of God on homosexual practice, it becomes “Is God gay?” Yes. I understand they want to make a parody, but it’s one that doesn’t even make sense. Of course, SNL will never raise those deeper metaphysical questions and sadly, neither will a lot of people and that includes people on both sides of the debate. Some people will just go with “The Bible says X. I believe it. That settles it.” The other side will just be proclaiming love and tolerance (Until you disagree with them) and automatically paint their side as the positive. (Marriage equality. After all, who wants to oppose equality, although it is never asked if the relationships are really equal or not)

There is a scene also with discussion about problems facing our country including obesity and then this baker comes in and says she wants to deny basic rights to gay people. The man in charge says that that is the #1 priority. Again, the reason Christians are talking about this issue is because this is the issue being talked about. We could just as well ask that if these other causes are so much more important, why is everyone else so caught up in debates over homosexuality?

The film ends with a proclamation from the woman that “God is a boob man.” Yeah. This really makes sense. It’s as if God opposes homosexuality because God is a really big man in the sky who likes the ladies. This is not held to seriously by any Christian theologian but hey, why bother interacting with what your opposition thinks when you can get a laugh instead?

Now if SNL really wants to proclaim themselves as champions of equality and tolerance, I hope they keep going. I really do. After all, there are viewpoints out there that take a far tougher stance on homosexual practice than Christians do. I look forward to SNL making parodies about them. Therefore, I look forward to seeing them do a parody called Allah’s Not Gay or Allah Is A Boob Man. After all, in Muslim countries being a practicing homosexual can get you killed. We are sure that SNL will want to speak out against that intolerance and bigotry soon.

Or is it only Christians who you speak out against because you know Christians will not drop walls on you? Christians will actually give you the freedom to disagree. Do note this. I think SNL’s parody is highly offensive, but I do not think it’s right to go to the law and censor them for it. They have the right to make any parody that they want. I also have the right to respond to it and to do so with what I think is a reasoned argument. Now you can think my argument is a bad argument all you want, but it is an argument still.

In fact, I have not taken a hard line here to say homosexual practice is wrong. You can search on my blog here for other writings I’ve done on homosexual practice. I’m simply wanting to say that I see an inconsistency with Christians being called intolerant for not wanting to give the goods and services they own to someone else while Springsteen, Starr, and others get to do exactly that and they get celebrated as heroes.

Christians are often accused of being hypocrites. No doubt we are to some extent, but those who want to go after hypocrisy need to watch their own. Freedom is a wonderful thing and it works both ways.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What is Tolerance?

If you say you are a tolerant person, do you practice what you preach? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve had some time to think about the notion of tolerance lately after an event on my wife’s Facebook page over the week. She posted something about the transgenderism issue going on that I and many others found humorous. The first comment however referred to her as a judgmental, well, I don’t speak that way. Naturally as a husband, I don’t stand by and let my wife undergo a severe insult like this. Had it been something milder, we would have a discussion about it, but not in this case.

What strikes me when something like this happens however is that the people who complain the most tend to be the ones who are the champions of tolerance the most. Ironically, the ones that I find who want to champion tolerance the most turn out to be the least tolerant, and this is because our culture really doesn’t know what tolerance is any more. We have confused tolerance of persons with tolerance of ideas. We have also confused tolerance with acceptance.

For instance, I think Islam is really a very wicked system. I do. At the same time, I know there are many Muslims who just want to live peaceful lives and do not support what goes on with ISIS or anything like that. Now I will be glad to debate these Muslims on the nature of Jesus and the reality of the resurrection any time. I think their belief system is wrong and the evidence shows that. Despite that, if some want to build a mosque in my city, I think they have every right to build a mosque and I will defend that. That’s what freedom of religion means in America. As long as they’re observing the law peacefully, they have the right to worship as they see fit. I would also support them if they were being forced to sell pork to someone or even if a Muslim bakery was asked to make a cake for a homosexual wedding since they disagree with that as well. That’s their right.

Note I will tolerate the people and I will accept them as people, even if I think their belief system ultimately is a source of great evil today. I will not accept their belief system. I cannot see it as entirely true or as the way of God, but the people are still people.

I have many friends who are atheists. Will I be able to put up a meme about what I see as poor argumentation on the part of many atheists? Sure will. Don’t have a problem with it. Humor and satire are a powerful tool. Many of my friends who are atheists will either ignore it saying this is a difference they accept because they know who I am, or some of them will say “I know what kinds of atheists he’s talking about and I’m not one of those.” At the same time, this doesn’t mean that if an internet atheist type went into cardiac arrest in front of me that I would ignore them. I recently had a dialogue with an atheist who was posting things and saying he had a hard time posting while driving. I told him to please wait. The debate can go on later. A dialogue with me is not worth him risking his life. I really meant it. I would mean it for anyone like that.

Where tolerance exists, there must first exist a real point of disagreement. There is something you do not like. Yesterday, my wife wanted to get some peanut butter cookie mix at the store. Why? She doesn’t like peanut butter, but she knows her husband loves it. That is not something I tolerate. That is something I celebrate. Tonight, after a couples’ connection meeting, we are going with a couple to the Cheesecake Factory to discuss our upcoming fifth wedding anniversary. Now the last time I was there, with my finicky eating, I did not care for the menu too much and I was surrounded by people and everything was really loud. I honestly thought this must be some idea of what Hell is like. So tonight, I will instead be tolerating that. I would much rather go elsewhere, but I know Allie really likes the Cheesecake Factory. I can tolerate it for her sake.

The more I thought about tolerance, the more I thought how ironically, true tolerance really does deliver everything false tolerance claims to give. The false tolerance is this idea that you must accept everything and if not, you are being intolerant and we will shut you down for your intolerance. True tolerance says you have a right to what you think and we can discuss it, which is what I always prefer. While I do believe in a firm hand for many, my far better conversations always are with those who I think are honestly open to false ideas. There were many people who disagreed with Allie’s meme she put up. That’s fine. I expect that. We talk about it then. I have no problem with that. Believe it or not, that’s the kind of dialogue I do prefer.

Our false tolerance today says you’re not even allowed to have a dissenting opinion. If you dissent from the group, we will label you as intolerant, a bigot, hate-filled, etc. I hardly enter any debates I see today on the homosexual issue because I see the words of homophobe and all of the others above thrown around. I always get amazed to see that when a group comes out saying they support traditional marriage any more, that you can just go to their Facebook page and see the vitriol being spilled out. It’s amazing that at the same time, the people doing this are talking about how hateful the other side is and how intolerant they are.

While those who champion tolerance say they value diversity, it is those who allow dissenting opinions who are the true valuers of diversity. While I do not consider myself a part of the ID movement, I have had people say before “Well if you wanted ID taught in the classrooms, do you want all other creation accounts taught?” My response to this was always “Why not?” You see, if someone comes from a Muslim or Hindu culture or any other people group and wants to stand up and share why they think their account of creation is true, let them. Just let them be ready to answer questions about it as well. Why do I care about counter ideas being presented? I’m convinced Christianity can win in the marketplace of ideas, so bring forward the competitors!

True tolerance also values open-mindedness. Now this is not the same as saying you can’t have a strong opinion or be sure that you’re right. If we are arguing for a position, then we will be sure that we are right. Of course, there are ideas you hold with a greater degree of certainty based on the evidence. If every belief you hold is a hill you’re ready to die on, you’re going to have a hard time. This is a problem I see with modern fundamentalism for instance. On the Christian side, you have inerrancy, young-earth creationism, and any other belief being one that we have to stand on this hill and not let it go because if this hill goes, the whole thing goes! On the atheist side, you have this idea that you can’t admit there could be anything whatsoever historical about the Bible or that anyone could be justified in believing God exists. This is one reason I think Christ mythicism is so popular.

Of course, there are some positions on both sides that if they are shown to be false, the position will crumble. If you show that God does exist, then yes, atheism is dead. If you show that Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christianity is dead. However, you can be absolutely certain of your position on these issues and still say “But I am willing to hear what argument you have on the other side.” The problem with too many people is that there cannot be an argument. If you’re a Christian, well you’re just a mindless fool who is irrational and anti-science. If you’re an atheist, well you’re just sold to sin and your eyes are blinded by the devil and you hate God.

True tolerance is also the most loving to people. It admits we have differences between us. These are significant differences. We can even think the position that the other person holds is remarkably ignorant in some ways, but at the same time we still value the person. In fact, there is unlikely to be anyone on the planet that we will agree with 100% on everything. My own wife and I disagree on some issues. She knows that my eyes roll with the futurist position which she holds. It’s okay. We can have discussions on that and we can disagree. (Actually, for some reason, she likes to see me debate with futurists.)

If you reject a friend because they do not disagree with you on a particular topic, one has to ask what kind of friendship you really have. Unfortunately, I have seen this kind of thing happen. Generally, if someone gets a block from me on Facebook, they have to do something really severe, or they just have to be the kind of person in the debate arena who is a time drainer and that if I keep interacting with them, I will be wasting my time on them. Yes. There are actually some Christians on that list of mine because they are too much of a time drainer when they get on their own soapboxes.

What many of us see with the modern tolerance movement is that they are not tolerant at all. No dissent and questioning will be allowed. You are not to oppose the tolerati! For all the time that we’ve heard the good news of this Gospel of tolerance, one would think the proclaimers of it would practice it.

True tolerance is to be valued. We can value the person always and care for them, but we are not to tolerate true evil that is done. I am convinced that the shooter from Charleston in the recent news needs to get at least jail for life for what he did, at least that much. That is an evil we cannot accept in our society. At the same time, I with many others hopes that he will get the Gospel in prison and find forgiveness and that we can pray for him. I would also be willing to admit that prayer is something I need to work on anyway, hence I could soon write a blog series on it as that is often the best way I teach myself as well.

Disagree by all means, but if you want to proclaim yourself a champion of tolerance, be sure to practice what you preach.

In Christ,
Nick Peters