Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Resisting the politically correct line on Protests

In my last article I dealt with the confusion developed by the misuse of the term “moral equivalency”. Here is a quick example from the news recently. Robert Spencer, noted Alt-Right creator and racist. By the way he is not trying to say he is not a racist that is one of the differences between real racists and people who are simply accused to be racists by political opponents. In the video we see Spencer during an interview hit sidelong by a guy coming at him from the side. As the recent news program said this incident lead to internet discussion of whether it was even a crime to attack someone who is a racist.  To many people moral equivalence means that both sides in an argument have the same moral authority or the onlooker can say no, one has the moral high ground so there is no moral equivalence. That is not the meaning of the fallacy of Moral Equivalence! (short meaning; Moral Equivalence: This fallacy compares minor misdeeds with major atrocities.)

The second point of the article was that demonstrations and counter demonstrations, protests and counter protests, marches and counter marches etc. are all about symbols. They are groups getting together to declare their belief in something and the group represents a symbol of the many who hold similar views. In simple terms if a racist group was holding a demonstration or march they are going to give speeches about their beliefs, they are not going to actually enslave others or take away someone’s job or work. The same goes for the counter protester. In the above example they are stating they disagree with the racist but they are not freeing slaves or giving jobs and housing to someone that the racist has taken away. It is all symbolic, either in the symbol of a group or the symbol of the words.

Numerous people who have argued point on internet discussion forums or often just people on Facebook have learned that even with written arguments it is extremely rare for someone to change their belief on something. Having been on discussion forums for years since the late 1990’s I can say that it is pretty rare to know that someone was actually talked out of a specific view. I think I have seen it happen, though it was maybe 10 years later, so perhaps a seed was planted somewhere but it is pretty difficult to know if it was from something that was said in the discussion forum years ago. If that is such a rarity where people are trying to communicate with reasonable arguments what are the chances that some counter protest or demonstration will change anyone of the people being counter protested?
Here are a few chants from the website
Who can you trust, not the police
How do you spell Racist? NYPD
Hands up don’t shoot

Recently in Seattle we heard this chant. “Cops and Klan, Hand in hand. Then there are all the hey hey ho ho chants and the numbers such as 1, 2, 3, 4 We don’t want your f******g war 2, 4, 6, 8 stop the violence stop the hate.
It does seem that in the world of protests we are not dealing with well thought out arguments. We have slogans which again are symbols for the positions that the protesters wish to identify. They often don’t even make sense as the how do you spell racist covers a whole lot of Police men and women of color and no doubt many of them have felt like they are the subjects of racism in their lives and most certainly would not claim the title of racists.
This is where we come up against the politically correct worldview. The politically correct view is that the protesters are standing up for some moral cause. But the reality is that they are not standing up against anything beyond the symbol of their disagreement of belief. They most certainly are not standing up as counter protesters against other protesters by yelling, chanting or spitting or hitting or throwing things. They are not going to change anyone’s views by those kinds of activities. If it is difficult to change someone’s opinion with a reasoned dialog what chance is there for someone yelling a in a scrum at a protest! Or even worse what chance is there when some Antifa member with their head swaddled so they can’t be identified to going to make in changing someone’s opinion?  Zero is the number I would say.
This upheaval in society is not an attempt to stand up against other’s beliefs it is an attempt to divide and belittle. It is not standing up to oppression or racism or Nazi’s or communists or anarchists. It is emotion without reason; it fires up people on either side of the issues and digs the ruts in the road that each side is on deeper. We could remove most of the emotion by simply having the demonstrations without the counter demonstrations. They could have a counter demonstration at a different date or time, the symbols will be the same but there will no longer be the conflict.
If your churches/denominations/organizations have fallen into this fallacy of symbol over substance you must point the way to reason and dialog as the only way to address the issues. We are blessed to live in a Republic where we have representative government and we can call for a redress of concerns. Let us use our well laid laws and Constitutional Foundation to avoid the emotional and irrational abuses that we see in so many protests and counter protests today in America.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

confusion of symbol over substance

Sadly I found another example of poor reasoning on Adventist Today Website in a strangely titled article which felt the need to conflate White supremacy groups with White Privilege. The article titled #Charlottesville& #Whiteprivilege. In the main the article could have come from any number of MSNBC commentators. I will only deal with one paragraph however as it shows so much about the common media’s thinking on where they tend to assign wonderful intentions to Progressive/Leftists and then use that assignation in all their subsequent views.

The paragraph reads as follows:

“I’ve been hearing a lot about “both sides” in the online discourse I’ve seen on this issue. I find it both fascinating and horrifying that a moral equivalence has been drawn between those fighting to oppress people, and those fighting to stop the oppression of people. They are not the same. Let’s please just all agree that there is no comparing the two. I repeat: white supremacy is evil. Nothing the “other side” has done is even close to as morally repugnant as that. It’s not even in the same ballpark. It’s not even in the same universe. It’s a logical fallacy. Never forget that when you draw those comparisons you are defending white supremacists. Think about that for a second. And stop it.”

First of all, there is no moral equivalency involved when saying that multiple groups behaved violently. First the definition of Moral Equivalence:

Moral equivalence is a form of equivocation and a fallacy of relevance often used in political debates. It seeks to draw comparisons between different, often unrelated things, to make a point that one is just as bad as the other or just as good as the other. It may be used to draw attention to an unrelated issue by comparing it to a well-known bad event, in an attempt to say one is as bad as the other. Or, it may be used in an attempt to claim one isn't as bad as the other by comparison. Drawing a moral equivalence in this way is a logical fallacy.”

When you have two or three or more groups on the street fighting each other you are not dealing with comparisons between different often unrelated things. Very likely the writer of the article Lindsey Painter probably heard the term in the media and did not bother to look up the meaning. The author is assuming that the beliefs of people made their actions somehow different, even though they all may be yelling hitting and using boards as weapons. It is this assumption that I find most disturbing.

A huge problem in the media and Progressive/leftists is that they embrace symbol over substance. In this case the author says one group is oppressing people and the other is fighting oppression. That however is far from the case as these are demonstrations. One group gets a permit to hold their rally and it is granted. Now what happens at a rally? Will they hold a slave auction, perhaps gather some blacks and Hispanics and deny them jobs or housing? No they will gather as a group and listen to some speakers. They will talk and listen; it is very much a free speech event. Now it does not matter what the speech is if it does not cause violence, it is protected by the Constitution and the Constitutional Amendment which encompasses freedom of speech was not intended to cover speech that everyone agrees with but with speech that people may not agree with.  So group one is not oppressing anyone, you may not like what they say at their gathering but they are abiding by the laws of the city and state. Now the second group comes to offer their counter protest against group one. What are they doing? Are they freeing slaves, bringing jobs or housing to minority races? No they are protesting the thoughts of the other group. They if they were acting peaceable would be declaring with their speech their views. They are not ending any oppression; they are not stopping hate or showing love.  

The symbols of each group is the rally or gathering to express their views. The counter protesting group could perform their symbolism just as well on any other day, and if they abided by the laws they would also get their permit to assemble and have their speeches. So the only difference between the groups is in their beliefs. But the problem here is not the beliefs it is the violence. There is no doubt that there was violence from several groups.

If the article had just been about the evil of White Supremacy or even against the horrible beliefs of the Anifa (often violent anarchists and communists) or Black Lives Matter leadership beliefs (Marxism) there would be no need to respond to the article. Statements of emotional fantasy where if you defend the idea that multiple sides were involved in violence means you are supporting White supremacy is foolish, especially when she adds that such things are a logical fallacy, when she does not even use the moral equivalency term correctly.

To jump on the media bandwagon with their faulty reasoning does not make the faulty reasoning any better. It just means she can parrot the media’s nonsense.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Against the AToday Article Cultural Adventist are jerks

It has been a while since I posted material on my blog. I think I will have to start again as I am finding some very bad articles being published on the Spectrum and Adventist Today Websites.

Recently on Adventist Today Christopher Thompson posted an article entitled On Being Adventist and Not Being a Jerk.

Here are a couple of quotes:

" Cultural Adventists are jerks.

I’m not sure where I first heard the term Cultural Adventist, but I think it encapsulates the persona of the kinds of people who fit the bill here. Adventists are those who are awaiting the coming of the Christ. A Cultural Adventist on the other hand, has been encultured in the behaviors and lifestyle of Adventism, yet they lack the Spirit of Christ.

So here’s a qualifier. Christians aren’t jerks. But you do know that you can be a Cultural Adventist and not be a Christian..."

If they are fasting, you will know. If there’s an unacceptable TV program or movie, they’ll be sure to let you know that they haven’t seen it. They never fail to tell people what they never eat. They are professionals at letting you know all of the noble things they do and how careful they are to abstain from all things that are harmful. They are closely akin to the ancient Ascetics who believed pleasure to be evil. Cultural Adventists are pale-faced drones and they’re proud to tell you why God prefers pallor.

…We all know that our body is the temple of the living God and that living a healthy lifestyle is a sign of good stewardship. However, we can do without the incessant Sabbath dinner plate patrolling, with continual reminders of the evils of cheese and sugar…


First, is he using the term Cultural Adventists in a way that others have used it in the last 20 or so years? What kind of definition would include the statement that the defined lack the Spirit of Christ? Would that be an OK point to include in the definition of Progressive Adventist or Traditional Adventist? Why would anyone tolerate such a judgmental statement against a group of people as they lack the Spirit of Christ?

Next Christians aren't jerks, Paul confronted Peter to his face about his hypocrisy in the Bible, Hypocrisy seems a bit more dramatic then plate patrols are a potluck, so I would say by Thompson’s description Peter is a Jerk! Martin Luther started the whole Reformation and was a raging anti-Semite in our terminology. And he was also pretty rude and crude to some other sides and peoples during the reformation. But he was a mighty Christian. So it is pretty clear that Christians can be jerks!

Then he says you can be a Cultural Adventist and not be a Christian. But he has already said that Cultural Adventists lack the Spirit of Christ! So by his own definition they would not be Christian. As Christians define being a Christian by having the Spirit of Christ which allows one to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah.

in 2005 Clifford Goldstein in an article in the Review gave a pretty good definition of Cultural Adventist. "Recently I've become friendly with (and fond of) a "cultural Adventist," someone who, by his own admission, is an Adventist solely because he was raised and educated in the church but who, by his own admission, takes "exception to many of the church's theological beliefs and religious practices." In other words, he's a Seventh-day Adventist, not because of the church's teachings but despite them."

I have had conversations with Cliff on the internet and I would sometimes classify him as a jerk...So should I say that Traditional Adventists are jerks? Would not that be a logical fallacy of a generalization? So I would not do that, yet here this writer begins with a logical fallacy and compounds the errors line by line and judging by the comments and Shares on Facebook
people like it

For the sake of argument let us assume Cultural Adventist did not have a defined meaning. It is pretty clear he is referring to traditional Adventists. Those remarks about Cheese and sugar, unacceptable TV shows, telling people what they never eat, If you have fun on Sabbath you’re worldly, they love to reason together by using trite E.G. White quotes, and they “roll out whenever someone mentions drums”

In fact the article is trying to say that Traditional Adventists are Jerks, but he does not want to actually use the term so he has purloined the term Cultural Adventists as a subterfuge for what he really means.

His formula of writing is apparently to state something as a fact and then later on make a hazy statement about how you can't do what he  just did and that makes it okay. More properly he should have said: "To be fair, Adventism is a complex and multifaceted system of belief and it’s unsafe to paint any one person or any group of people with such broad strokes, [Insert as I have done.] Though I still would have ripped his article apart because once you know you are painting with too broad strokes you should redo your article, and the editors should have noted those problems as well.

It is important to recognize when someone contradicts themselves? "So here’s a qualifier. Christians aren’t jerks" Then he says: "Now time for a transparent moment. I’m a bit of a jerk myself." What, Christians aren't jerks, he just told me that! Well I guess there is a difference there, he is just a bit of a jerk just a smidgen of a jerk...not like those Cultural Adventists which are full-fledged jerks who don’t get the modifier that he uses for himself.

So why do so many people on Facebook like and share this article? Two reasons, the first is a reaction to Traditional Adventists who are pretty firm in their beliefs. The second reason is my personal opinion that we train people with sermons to not really listen to what the person says. You are only supposed to listen to what you already agree with (news and social media and magazines now days seem to also do this). So when asked how was the sermon people say oh it was so good because they only heard what they wanted to hear. Anyone who is critical of false statements or poor logic is viewed as divisive  or sour or dwelling on the wrong if the listener is responsible for the errors of the speaker or writer

As it turns out this non critical view appears to be accepted today not just in sermons but in articles and the news media. I would rather think critically, it seems a better way to search for truth and relevancy. So I am returning to my critiques of some of the writings in Adventist Media. Though I will likely stay away from doctrinal things and concentrate on logic and fairness and consistency. I think that if Christianity cannot accommodate doctrinal differences it is doomed and that is true for Adventism as well. But we never grow and develop without the use of reason, logic and good arguments, and we really need to get back to that even if it has been beaten out of so many people of late.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sharpton Jesus was a refuge

I woke up this morning and saw that Fox News had a tease about something Al Sharpton Tweeted. His tweet was pretty innocuous:
Reverend Al Sharpton @TheRevAl
Before you head to church today, remember to thank God for his son, Jesus a refugee who fled to Egypt.

To this the Fox News reported this follow up tweet:

umm, his parents weren't refugees. They traveled to pay their taxes. Please Al

Is this a case of Alternative Facts? 

Well actually they are both right as the New Testament is not in agreement about this. The book of Matthew has Jesus' family fleeing to Egypt while the book of Luke has Jesus and family returning to Nazareth. I cover this in more depth in my article God with us, Allegory and Matthew.The fact then is that Luke says they went back to Nazareth and Matthew says they went to Egypt. The reality is that both can't be correct so there is only one actual fact but it requires interpretation to arrive at that fact. Interpretations can vary however

So Al Sharpton is right and those who say Jesus was not a refugee are right. Funny how that works isn't it! Here is a portion of the article God with us, Allegory and Matthew:

Maybe the lesson only means it is the Word of God where it records things about Jesus? In which case the book of Matthew gives an account that is contrary to the account of the book of Luke. Luke says Jesus’ family left for Nazareth after the ritual in Jerusalem (Luke2:39) this does not allow much wiggle room to have them go to Egypt after the Magi’s visit. The NIV study Bible notes says that the Magi probably arrived months after the Birth, but as per Luke the family would no longer be in Bethlehem. Luke has nothing about Jesus’ family going to Egypt in fact it says they went to Nazareth from Jerusalem. Luke has nothing of threatened children, the book uses none of the out of context verses which the book of Matthew does.

“where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." …"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." (Matt 2:15,18 NIV)

Here is where higher criticism comes in, what is the author trying to say and what are the techniques he uses to get his message across. We see that in the book of Matthew, at least in the first several chapters, an intentional literary device employed. The book tries to recapitulate the events of ancient Israel in the life of Jesus Christ. But there also seems to be a recurring theme if we look a little deeper at the verses that the author of Matthew uses. In the following verses the section used in Matthew are highlighted in bold.