Monday, January 12, 2015

Dear Walter, I Write Because...

I appreciate your input, and would like to respond to it.  It's clear to me that you are always looking out for me.  As I wrote, "Maybe he could have elaborated on that."  He did not, so I'm glad you did.

Your first charge is that I need to be careful, "ascribing feelings to others, as doing so frequently reveals more about the speaker than the others."

I was not trying to ascribe feelings; I was trying to discern belief.  That having been said, I'm not worried about revealing myself in this situation.  I grapple with these questions everyday, and would like to share my thoughts and conclusions with any who care to listen.  I'm also not worried about revealing myself to be wrong, even if that is the case, because someone like you might be nice enough to correct me.  I am worried about offending the bereaved, which I dearly hope is not the case.

Next you charge that, "You are calling the grieving friends and family members callous?"

"How callous is that?" was not directed at the actual mourners.  What I was trying to say is that it would be callous to be concerned primarily with yourself in a situation that is bad for you, and extremely good for someone you care about.  Imagine a coworker you enjoy chatting with at work tells you he's quitting because he won the lottery, and your response to him is, "Well, that's too bad."  That would be callous to ignore his good fortune, and focus on how it affects you.  To be clear, I don't think they are being callous by ignoring their loved one's good fortune.  I believe that deep down they recognize that their loved one's death is not good fortune.

Next you charge that I've created a false dichotomy of 'happy for you', or 'sad for me'.

The way you feel emotion is clearly different than the way I feel emotion.  I do feel mixed emotions about an event with mixed results, but to say that the good has no affect on the bad is not true for me.  I would not feel as bad about an event that had primarily good results.  I grant that it is possible, or even likely, that I am the exception.  Even so, I didn't see mixed emotions at the funeral.  I didn't see anything except grief.

I'm not sure what to make of this next statement.  "I wonder if you truly have as little understanding of this as your post suggests."

It sound like you're saying that, not only do I appear to have a low understanding of theology, but it appears to be so low that you suspect me of faking a lack of understanding.  I don't think it's fair to conclude that my understanding is low just because you disagree with me.  I spend a lot of time thinking about theology; I believe more that most.  I'd like to think that has given me some understanding of the subject.  On the other hand, I wouldn't continue to spend my time thinking about it if I didn't believe I have more to learn.

Next you charge that titling my posts "Theological Skepticism" suggests that I believe myself to have a "superior view".

If truth is the goal, than a skeptical view of reality is demonstrably superior to one of blind acceptance.  The truth doesn't always fall into our lap.  Even when it does, we can't know it's the truth until we've questioned, and verified it.  The advancements made in all areas of study since the enlightenment began have demonstrated this.  This does not mean that I think that seeking the truth as it pertains to theology makes me an expert on theology, but I'm positive I'm on the right path.

Your final charge is that I don't feel grief, and don't want others to feel grief for me.

If I've given you that impression, I've completely failed to express my point.  I believe death is a loss, and losses should be grieved.  I was only commenting on whether or not people really believe that death is good for the person dying.  Surely Andrea Yates, who drown her five children while they were still innocent so they could go to heaven, really did believe this, but I think she's in the minority.

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