Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What's Up With the Constant Criticism?

Praying Statue
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Yesterday, a Bush CIA flunky was criticizing Obama's handling of foreign affairs. Today, it's Cheney himself...

(CNN) “I guess I’ve been concerned the way that we’ve been presented overseas,” Cheney told Fox News host Sean Hannity Monday night. Cheney said he found it “disturbing” that the new president had gone overseas and seemingly apologized for past actions of the United States.

“I think you have to be very careful. The world outside there — both our friends and our foes –will be quick to advantage of a situation if they think they’re dealing with a weak president or one who’s not going to stand up and aggressively defend America’s interests.

“The United States provides much of the leadership in the world. We have for a long time. I don’t think we’ve got much to apologize for.”

First off, what's up with this constant sniping and whining of the once powerful Right? We're still in this administration's first 100 days and he has been criticized from day one. And it's over the relatively smallest of things. An apology, in this case!

Secondly, Mr. Cheney, Obama was hired to bring change. Yes, we fully understand that you believe America can do no wrong. Yes, we fully understand that apologies represent weakness to you.

We respectfully disagree.

The US HAS, in fact, made horrible errors in our past. And it is a VERY GOOD thing to apologize for errors. This is something I taught my children from a young age. You're not too late to learn from children, Mr. Cheney.

We disagree with the whole, "America, right or wrong," mindset and the notion that apologies make a nation weak. That's grade school thinking and we, as a nation, are ready to grow up and start acting like an actual leader and responsible member of the global community, not a playground bully.


Bubba said...

I don't see where Cheney said America can do literally no wrong, nor do I see where Cheney said that apologizing for America's mistakes is inherently a sign of weakness.

I don't believe Cheney believes either, but I also agree with Cheney that weakness is dangerous.

Chavez tore our country down right before the President's face, and Obama didn't criticize the thug: he thanked him for not blaming Obama personally.

(As with Jeremiah Wright, it appears that the only time Obama will throw a person under the bus is if he insults Obama: one can say the worst possible things about Obama's country, and that hardly phases him.)

His address to Iran -- repeatedly calling it the "Islamic Republic," conceding the legitimacy of the oppressive regime -- was a clear break from Bush's speeches that expressed solidarity with the people there who want a freer government. And his embarrassing attempt to undermine our European allies to make nice with Moscow was made public by a Russian government that apparently doesn't hold him in the same sort of esteem that you do.

(Indeed, "Obama was hired to bring change." Who knew that the change would involve embracing our despotic enemies and undermining small-d democrats? Oh, that's right, the "whining" conservatives, who wouldn't have complained so vocally if Obama hadn't come out of the gate acting so irresponsibly.)

You don't think the rest of the world is noticing that, under Obama, America is quickly becoming treacherous as an ally and harmless as an enemy?

You don't think that has consequences?

And you have the gall to lecture us about growing up and acting responsibly?

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I think the world is happier with Obama than Bush! The one that ticked me off, Dan, was Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is supposed to be a historian, yet he complains that Obama is THE FIRST PRESIDENT to shake hands and smile with and adversarial leader: Hmm. Eisenhower with Kruschev, JFK with Kruschev, Nixon with Brezhnev and the Chinese, Reagan with Gorbachev.

Then Gingrich criticizes Obama for bowing before the Saudi King--but how was that different than Bush II kissing him on both cheeks!!

Diplomacy is not weakness. Bubba is weakness. (Refusing to use your real name and refusing to link to his own blog or an email address is simply cowardice.)

Bubba wasn't there so he doesn't know everything said to Chavez. There are pictures of Obama dragging him aside with a stern face and finger wagging as well as the smile pictures.

The truth is twofold: 1) The history of American involvement in Latin America IS horrendous. Dan and I have been to Nicaragua and can give you chapter and verse for much of this. 2) Unlike some of the other left-leaning LatAm leaders, Chavez is an opportunist and an oldfashioned strongman. He began by doing much for the poor, but he has also centralized power and clearly wants to be president for life. He is a rabble rouser seeking regional influence by America bashing.

But he is also no real threat. He owns Citgo and has been very careful never to cut off oil from the U.S. Will Obama handle him well? Who knows? I won't judge based on a few internet pictures from one meeting.

Acknowledging the official name of Iran is simple courtesy. Yes, the current govt. is repressive. So was the previous one that we loved--and helped depose Iran's only true democracy. (The Shah's secret police were notorious.) If using the official name is heretical, Bubba surely hated it when Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II all used "People's Republic of China" in speaking of that tyrannical regime in official memos and communiques or "Democratic Republic of Congo" which is neither Democratic or a Republic.

These are simple common diplomatic courtesies and do not negate tough talk when necessary, but Cheney and Bubba only undertand sabre rattling.

I have friends from around the world. They are still wary of America, but they definitely like Obama better than Bush/Cheney.

John said...

Leaving aside the specific issues to address the question that you raise in the title of your post....

I think that it is too easy for people to confusing opponents and enemies. Dan Trabue is, often, my political opponent. He is not my enemy. His desire is not for my destruction, nor mine for his. My desire, often (but not always), to see his policy proposals thrawted, not him personally and individually.

In our political culture, people can succumb to tribalism: I am a conservative, I am a Republican, I am a progressive, etc. This is my tribe, this is my people, to whom I am loyal. Loyalty is not ideas, but to the tribe, animosity is not to ideas, but to other tribes.

Hence Bush is blamed for evils not in antithesis to liberal ideals, and Obama is blamed for evils not in antithesis to conservative ideals.

Last week, the Navy freed a US hostage off the Somali coast. Jonah Goldberg cheered the Navy SEALs for their military excellence and Obama for his prudent executive decisions during the standoff. For this, Goldberg was raked over the coals by his fellow tribe members. It was sad because it revealed yet more more degree of this childish approach to political debate inappropriate for a self-governing people.

Alan said...

I think the telling thing is how we respond to criticism.

Do we call anyone who criticizes us, or President Obama, a terrorist? No. Do we demand that they leave "our" country? No.

I'd say that's a significant shift from the last 8 years.

Yeah, we laugh at them for getting their knickers in a twist about using the actual name of a country, while ignoring hundreds of instances of torture that were revealed this week. The little things, the minutia are all they can wrap their brains around. So laugh away.

Someone has to be the adult around here, and it's never going to be Bubba and the rest of the folks at Limbaugh Inc.

So let them criticize. It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile.

Feodor said...

Michael mentions Reagan's relationship with Gorbachev.

Much more incriminating is Reagan's support for the congenial policy (written by Jeane Kirkpatrick) toward Haiti's Baby Doc Duvalier, the Phillipines' Ferdinand Marcos, Chile's Augusto Pinochet, and South Africa's P.W. Botha.

This is the criminal stuff.

Far from bowing and shaking hands, Reagan supported dictatorships under whom hundreds of thousands of persons disappeared or were murdered outright.

Bubba said...

Do we call anyone who criticizes us, or President Obama, a terrorist? No.Someone tell the Department of Homeland Security that.

It's no longer the case that dissent is being applauded by the left as the highest form of patriotism.

Craig said...

Oh, to go back to the constant criticism free Bush presidency.

Alan said...

"It's no longer the case that dissent is being applauded by the left as the highest form of patriotism."

Because we don't fawn over people who waste everyone's time getting their panties in a twist over whether or not someone wears a flag pin?

Guilty as charged.

Yeah, I'm happy to make fun of people like that, but I'm not sure I'd go so far as to dignify their whining with the term "dissent."

Bubba said...

Even if I were to concede that the flag pin issue was frivolous -- and, oh, isn't it obvious now that Barack Obama just adores our country and its values? -- it's neither rational nor fair to suggest that, because this one issue was frivolous, political conservatives have no substance in their criticism of Obama.

Alan, if you want any credibility in your claim to be the adult in this discussion, you should stop making comments that embarass actual adults.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Bubba, it should be obvious that a man who worked as hard as Barack Obama did to become President of the United States loves his country.

Except to someone as imbecilic as you are.

Please, stop. The right-wing makes my head hurt.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks all, for the thoughts.

Bubba said:

Chavez tore our country down right before the President's face, and Obama didn't criticize the thugI'm wondering what you heard Chavez said that was "tearing down our country"? I see where Chavez said:

"I think it was a good moment," Chavez said about their initial encounter. "I think President Obama is an intelligent man, compared to the previous U.S. president."But that is a comment about Bush, not our country, so I don't think that's what you're talking about - unless you this Bush = America. Or, are you thinking of what Ortega said in his criticisms of US foreign policies in Latin America. But there again, one ought to be damned sure not to equate our latin american policies under Reagan with the US in general. Those years and policies were amongst the LEAST American acts ever.

So, I'm wondering what specific comments you think Obama should have addressed?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba also said:

You don't think the rest of the world is noticing that, under Obama, America is quickly becoming treacherous as an ally and harmless as an enemy?I think your premise is ridiculous and unsupported. Under Obama, we have begun to humble ourselves a bit and let the world know that we have no intentions of being a rogue regime anymore. This makes us strong as an ally and an enemy.

Rogue nations are treacherous insofar as they will do whatever they think is in THEIR perceived interests (supporting thuggish regimes like Saddam or Pinochet, supporting terrorists like bin Laden and the Contras, trying to overthrow countries who are not a threat to us!) with no regard to laws or decency.

This is not following in the best ideals of the US and we're glad for that change and I think the rest of the world will be, too.

Dan Trabue said...

And you have the gall to lecture us about growing up and acting responsibly?Yes, I do. As do many of my beloved friends and the greater progressive community. I will ALWAYS lecture that torture has no place in the halls of US policies as such is immoral and irresponsible. I will ALWAYS lecture that propping up thuggish dictators is immoral and irresponsible. I will ALWAYS lecture that supporting terrorism, assassinations and illegal coups is immoral and irresponsible.

I'm sure if you are reasonable, you could agree with me on these points.

Dan Trabue said...

Here's what I can find of the Ortega speech (some quotes and some biased reporting on the speech):

Ortega, meanwhile, droned on about the offenses of the past, dredging up U.S. support of the Somoza regime and the "illegal" war against the Sandinista regime he once led by U.S.-backed Contra rebels in the 1980s. Ortega was a member of the revolutionary junta that drove Anastasio Somoza from power in 1979 and was elected president in 1985. He was defeated in 1990 by Violeta Chamorro and ran unsuccessfully twice for the presidency before winning in 2006.

Of the 19th and 20th centuries, Ortega said: "Nicaragua central America, we haven't been shaken since the past century by what have been the expansionist policies, war policies, that even led us in the 1850s, 1855, 1856 to bring Central American people together. We united, with Costa Ricans, with people from Honduras, the people from Guatemala, El Salvador.

We all got together, united so we could defeat the expansionist policy of the United States. And after that, after interventions that extended since 1912, all the way up to 1932 and that left, as a result the imposition of that tyranny of the Samoas. Armed, funded, defended by the American leaders."
* The US DID prop up the Somoza regime.

* The Somoza regime WAS deadly and oppressive.

* The Nicaraguan people had a right to overthrow an oppressive dictator.

* The Nicaraguan people had a right to elect Ortega and to make their economy more socialistic. We may not agree with it, but here's a clue: IT'S NOT OUR COUNTRY, WE DON'T GET A VOTE ON WHO THEY ELECT OR HOW THEY RUN THEIR ECONOMY!

* We DID prop up the terrorist Contras, doing so illegally by SELLING weapons illegally to Iran while we were supporting yet another oppressive tyrant in Iraq - you recall a fella named Saddam?

What exactly is it that Ortega said that you think Obama should have taken exception to? It's time to admit our wrongs and start a new approach. If Obama does not do so, then we'll vote him out and look for someone else to do the job, but we're not going back to the heavy-handed days of Reagan.

Edwin Drood said...

Bush site:paynehollow.blogspot.com

What I think is Dan believes in Obama in the same way Catholics believe in the the pope.

Dan Trabue said...

And apparently Drood believes in his own words and that they mean something in the real world. Unfortunately, at least in this case, they don't mean a thing except that he's good at exposing his own ignorance.

Bubba said...

Dan, I mispoke and confused Chavez's past attacks on the United States and Ortega's current attack in Obama's presence.

Hugo Chavez has said that the U.S. is "the most savage, cruel and murderous empire that has existed in the history of the world." He has compared Bush UNFAVORABLY to Adolph Hitler, who he said is an infant in comparison. And he has, at various times, called our country, its leaders, and its free market "the devil."

Because of Chavez' history of anti-American speech, I mispoke when I meant to criticize Obama for saying nothing about ORTEGA's speech -- nothing, except to thank Ortega for not blaming Obama for things like the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Clearly, Dan, you largely agree with Ortega's assessment of the evils our country has done.

While berating me for a "ridiculous and unsupported" premise, you even go so far as to make absolutely clear your belief that the United States has been a "rogue regime."

I don't think it's necessary to argue (AGAIN) over the propriety and morality of American foreign policy in Latin America -- except, perhaps, to note very briefly that, as usual, you ignore the Soviet elephant in the room, acting as if Moscow wasn't attempting to create de facto satellite states in the region -- to note this:

If a person has to believe that the United States is (or was) a rogue state in order to find Chavez and Ortega's rhetoric uncontroversial, then reasonable Americans can have grounds to disagree with that premise and object to Obama's tepid response to that rhetoric.

Bubba said...


"Bubba, it should be obvious that a man who worked as hard as Barack Obama did to become President of the United States loves his country."

Such a claim isn't obvious, even in the general case, and it's not "imbecilic" to question such a naive claim.

A deep and abiding love for his own country might very well motivate a man to work very hard in a long (and often ridiculous) campaign for its highest office.

But it's not remotely obvious that that's the only reason a man might work so hard for such a goal.

IN THE GENERAL CASE, there are other possible motivations that aren't nearly as benign.

There is narcissism, love of one's self and self-aggrandizement that wants the position for the individual's prestige rather than the country's best interest. There is the naked desire for political power, the authority to tell people how to live and to spend their money for them. And there is contempt for the government and the people it represents -- the desire to reach the highest office, not to represent the people's will and interests, but to mitigate and insulate those things from affecting others.

(Of these three, the second is an instinct that is contrary to the principles of individual liberty on which this country is built, and the third entails working against the current interests of the country.)

I think there are at least plausible arguments that other facts about Obama's life suggests less than pure motives for his political ambition.

The most salient evidence against his deep and abiding love for country is his lifelong association with anti-American radicals.

A man who truly loves his country might clench his teeth and put up with a lunatic uncle who apparently makes a living slandering his country from the pulpit: he would tolerate him as a family member but otherwise have little to do with him. Barack Obama found just such a lunatic who wasn't a blood relative and went out of his way to form a close and lasting relationship with him, making the hate-monger his mentor and pastor for twenty years, giving literally tens of thousands of dollars to the man's work, having him baptize his children and perform his wedding -- to a woman, it must be remembered, who would tell the public that her husband's nomination is the FIRST TIME in her adult life that she felt proud of her country.

There are ways to reconcile his decades of truly radical associations with the ambition required to run a successful presidential campaign, but few of those ways indicate a patriotic spirit.

Frankly, I doubt that any Christian who believes in man's fallen, sinful nature would presume to believe that any successful campaign to win high office is ipso facto proof of that policitian's love for the country which that office serves.

To give politicians in general that sort of benefit of the doubt is naive and dangerous, contrary not only to the Bible's teaching of man's depravity, but also to the Founders' understanding of the need for checks and balances.

To extend that benefit of the doubt, not to all politicians, but to one politician in particular is even worse, as it's indulging in a cult of personality that has rarely (if ever) ended well.

Alan said...

"Even if I were to concede that the flag pin issue was frivolous..."

And with that, I shall give your comments about being an adult all the consideration they deserve, "Bubba".

Bubba said...

Alan, I don't understand the scare-quotes around my name, and I don't believe it's immature of me to not to immediately dismiss as wholly frivolous the issue of Obama's wearing or not wearing an American flag lapel pin.

After explaining why he stopped where a flag pin, Obama denied ever having made the comment and then started wearing a flag pin around the time his nomination became a near fait accompli.

That's a minor thing, yes, but noting it is not entirely frivolous, particular when some have implied that the pin or any invocation of the flag is inherently fascist and jingoistic -- at least, before Obama wrapped himself in the flag to demonstrate his centrism.

Alan, if you really believe that clear distinctions between the serious and frivolous is an important sign of maturity, you would berate the media for dismissing truly disconcerting stories -- such as the North Korean missle test -- as mere "distractions" for the current administration.

You would also berate the media for the childish antics around the word "teabagging," instead of indulging in similar behavior yourself.

Alan said...

"oh, isn't it obvious now that Barack Obama just adores our country and its values?"

BTW, what's hilarious about this statement, "Bubba", (because I'm sure the irony is lost on you) is that is precisely the sort of pathetic nonsense I was writing against: disagree with "Bubba" and you hate America.

Again, I'll restate that how we respond to criticism is just one of the many differences between what we're seeing now and what we've seen over the last 8 years, and that statement from "Bubba" is Exhibit A that proves my point.

Alan said...

You can keep dancing "Bubba" (that isn't really your name, is it? I understood it to be a pseudonym) but the stupid flag pin was not just frivolous, but stupid. The fact you can't see that, even worse, the fact that you continue to try to rationalize it, demonstrates all I need to know about your ability to discern important issues and tabloid gossip.

As for the North Korean missile, every news source I read/listen to/watch covered it significantly and certainly and clearly discussed its significance both to the US and internationally. Now maybe FOX Noise didn't cover it, because they were too busy talking about tea-bagging.

And yes, I made fun of the teabaggers. Happy to do it. Intentionally stupid people deserve to be mocked.

The teabagging set piece is an excellent example of the difference between now and the last 8 years. You take a completely stupid non-issue like a flag pin and elevate it to the level of determining whether or not Obama is treasonous. We take a completely stupid, disorganized, poorly planned, agenda-less partisan rant, the teabagging, a complete non-issue, and make fun of it as a complete non-issue.

Mocking intentional stupidity is the best way to deal with it. Hence my treatment of your comments.

Bubba said...

Alan, a Reuters story had the following headline and subhead:

Pirates pose annoying distraction for Obama

First North Korea, Iran -- now Somali pirates

The media appears to obsessed with characterizing inconvenient events as distractions to Obama.

Be that as it may, I did not and do not elevate the flag pin issue "to the level of determining whether or not Obama is treasonous." I do not believe that disagreeing with me is ipso facto proof that a person hates America.

It appears that you have no interest in being accurate or even charitable in characterizing what I believe, and I think it's obvious that how you respond to criticism is not nearly as mature as you would like people to believe.

Alan said...

FOX Noise called Alberto Gonzales a "distraction" for the White House, regarding the firing of 8 US Attorneys. Remember, these were firings, without cause, for purely political reasons. That was just a "distraction", according to FOX Noise.

And as your own article points out, there were plenty of folks characterizing all sorts of things as "distractions" for President Bush. (One can hardly be too surprised. I imagine bright shiny objects topped the list.)

Now you're ticked off because you've been told by someone that you're supposed to be ticked off about a headline and how it characterizes the pirate situation? What? Was the flag-pin guy on vacation this week? You couldn't manufacture something even dumber to get ticked off about?

When it comes to characterizing distractions, I'm *glad* that we have a president who appears competent enough to be only distracted by these events as he remains focused on the economy and building back our prestige abroad. That's much better, in my opinion, than having a president like Bush who continually *manufactured* distractions so we wouldn't know he was torturing people and sending American soldiers to die for oil. Remember the Saddam Hussein distraction and how he was responsible for 9/11? Remember the immigration distraction that went no where? How about his social security distraction that went no where? How about his plan to go to Mars that went no where? (Frankly I'd gladly chip in some money for that last one, if Cheney would volunteer to be his co-pilot.)

Dealing with distractions seems much preferable to manufacturing them.

Alan said...

"even charitable in characterizing what I believe,"

Why would I? I'm tired of rolling over for pests like you. You have never once been charitable in characterizing what anyone believes if they disagree with you. For example, care to reconsider this beauty from your own keyboard there, buddy? "It's clear that you [Dan] loathe individual economic freedom in practice, and you despise the prosperity that it brings."

You reap what you sow. Stop complaining about it.

Bubba said...

After that comment, Dan Trabue wrote that he believes the free market is "based on greed," which is an inaccurate and fairly slanderous statement that reinforces my belief that he loathes individual economic freedom.

It's a harsh assessment, I'll admit, but one that's far more rooted in reality than your strawmen where, if I don't dismiss the lapel pin issue as completely frivolous, you claim that I think it's sufficient to determine "whether or not Obama is treasonous."

I do try to remain honest and accurate about what others believe, even when I disagree with them. I'm not perfect in this regard, but I do try, in part because it accomplishes nothing of any real substance to criticize a figment of someone's imagination. I'm not always diplomatic, but I strive to be able to back up my most contentious claims with evidence; often, I can quote verbatim what a person wrote that justifies my claim.

If you strive to be honest, Alan, you don't leave much evidence of it.

Alan said...

"If you strive to be honest, Alan, you don't leave much evidence of it."

Blah, blah, blah. As you've repeatedly said about me and everyone else. And as I've repeatedly said to you, I'll give your critiques all the consideration they deserve.

Bubba said...

I backed up my claim that Dan loathes individual economic freedom with an actual quote, where he claims that the free market that presumes such freedom is really built on greed.

If you can justify your comment about the flag pin issue being used to accuse Obama of treason, I think you should do so.

If you won't -- and you can't, because it's not an honest comment -- then your comparison between my comment and yours falls apart.

John said...

The free market is based on greed. Or, perhaps more accurately, on self-interest. As Adam Smith once said, we don't eat our dinner because of the charity of the baker, the butcher, or the brewer, but through the self-interest of each. Each is motivated to provide a product or service to sell in order to buy products or services of their own individual choice. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Self-interest works.

Alan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Alan said...

LOL. And like a dog with a juicy bone, you can't let go of the flag pin BS. I have to ask, are you a writer for The Onion? Because trying to convince anyone that you believe this whole issue is even somewhat "frivolous" is sorta hurt by the fact that you're making such a big, fat, hairy deal out of it, isn't it?

BTW, that would be Karl Rove who criticized Obama, saying that, :to lots of people, putting on a flag pin equates to "true" patriotism."

No flag pin? Well then you must hate America.

Of course, Rove was not wearing a flag pin at the time.

How about you, Bubba? Wearing that flag pin of yours? I mean, given how much you obviously obsess over the issue, you must be wearing one right now, right?

Alan said...

LOL BTW, John. Love the Quark picture on your comment about greed. Nicely played. :)

Don't forget Rule of Acquisition #10: Greed is eternal.

Bubba said...

John, I wouldn't equate self-interest and greed, since the former can be benign -- we're commanded to love our neighbors as we already love ourselves -- but the latter is a deadly sin.

The fact is, people can AND DO thrive in a free market while living very selfless lives: they provide good pay for their workers, good products for their customers, and then give large portions of the fortune they amassed to help others.

The essential quality of the free market isn't greed: it's freedom.

It's just that the market mechanisms -- and safegaurds like the rule of law, prohibiting fraud and threft -- channel self-interest and EVEN its metastasized variant of greed, so that individuals work to better their own condition by meeting the needs and wants of others, to provide goods or services for which they're willing to trade part of their own wealth.

John said...

It sure is. And I remember another Rule of Acquisition thaat says "Deep down, everyone is a Ferengi."

Alan said...

How true that is.

My favorite is "Blood is thicker than water, but harder to sell."

Turns out they're right about that one too. :)

Bubba said...

John, it's Rule #284, I believe.

As someone who thinks DS9 was the best Trek series, I like the Ferengi -- mostly Armin Shimerman's Quark, just as Leonard Nimoy and Mark Lenard were such good Vulcans that they pretty much ruined the species for all other actors. They were much, much better as secondary characters than they were driving the main A-plot, and I wish they weren't often such cliched stereotypes.

I've actually read some complain that the Ferengi played into pretty much every major anti-Semitic stereotype, including physical appearance. I don't think there's a whole lot to the complaint, but still...

I think the first Rule has bearing on modern American politics and government taxation:

"Once you have their money, you never give it back."

I'm reminded of Reagan's line about a government program being the closest thing we have in this world to eternal life.

I happen to think Rule #48 also has some bearing...

"The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife."

Bubba said...

Dan, if I may, I would like to point out one more thing about your comments, where you suggested that Ortega's criticism of the U.S. is justified because we are/were a "rogue regime."

You write, "one ought to be damned sure not to equate our latin american policies under Reagan with the US in general. Those years and policies were amongst the LEAST American acts ever."

By your own accounts, Ortega did just that, criticizing our foreign policies of the 1850s, 1910s, and 1930s.

You apparently agree with the criticism, writing, "The US DID prop up the Somoza regime," which you describe as "deadly and oppressive."

Since the regime was overthrown in 1979, it's hard to see how the US support of the regime can be blamed on Reagan's presidency.

Instead, it looks like you're not quite as "damned sure" to differentiate between Reagan and every other American administration.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Bubba, you are absolutely right. I hate the United States. I hate the fact that I live in the freest country in the world. That I live in a country where you and I both live under the protection of a Constitution that allows our very different ways of viewing the world to coexist without devolving in to murderous civil war. I voted for Barack Obama because I was hoping that the looming Islamo-Fascist New World Order would come to our shores. My United Methodist Minister wife can't wait for her burqa, and I'm already learning Arabic on the sly so I can read the Holy Q'uran.

Look, dude, we can discuss things seriously, or we can pretend your delusions have some basis in reality. We can't do both. Since I don't play pretend except with my younger daughter on occasion, my preference is to deal with things as they actually are.

My problem with the American Right right now isn't that it is "conservative". It isn't. It is delusional. You folks are almost constantly making stuff up, acting on false premises, insisting that if you repeat this BS often enough it actually becomes true. The President is secure enough to simply dismiss this kind of non-opposition for what it is.

I see no reason in the world why we liberals, lefties, progressives and Democrats on the internet should do anything different.

I have been keeping an eye on you and Marshall and Mark and Neil on occasion. To a person, you are so far out in la-la land when it comes to what is actually happening in the world, who our President is, what he is doing that any connection with the real world was lost a long time ago. Discussions like this are fruitless. One can not like Chavez or Ortega or Morales and still say that the countries that elected them had every right to do so, and the US has a certain obligation to deal with them as leaders. What other countries do is their own business. I think America has enough to worry about without being the bully-boss of the neighborhood.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I love the way that Bubba and his rightwing friends have suddenly discovered civil liberties. The DHS report doesn't demonize dissent. It worries about the fringe elements that are fomenting violence. There's a huge difference.

I am a strong environmentalist but this doesn't keep me from worrying about eco-terrorists like EarthFirst! which "spike" trees in ways that could maim or kill loggers.

Being unable to tell the difference between legitimate dissent (from left or right) and dangerous extremists shows some real blinders, Bubba.

John, you may be interested in knowing that the liberal Keith Olbermann praised Goldberg for his statement on the pirates that got him blasted by his tribe.

John is right that we all get caught up in such tribalism. I try to fight against it. Though disagreed with 99% of G.W. Bush's policies, I always give him credit for the Pepfar program that fought AIDS in Africa and for his attempt (thwarted by his tribe) at comprehensive immigration reform. Unlike McCain, Bush didn't flip-flop on immigration to a Tancredo-style pseudo-Minutemen idiocy when it became politically expedient.

I always say that the Earned Income Tax Credit was the best idea that Ronald Reagan ever had. I give him credit for trying to negotiate nuclear disarmament with Gorbachev--although his idolatry to "Star Wars" missile defense caused him to walk away from a chance that could have made the world a much safer place decades ago.

(Whoever gave the criticism of Reagan's chumminess with several dictators was also right.)

Criticism of leaders is important. We do not elect infallible people. I think Obama's escalation of Afghanistan is unwise--a quagmire. I think his economic policies, while MUCH better than anything the GOP is proposing, are too timid. I think he should stop with half-measures and champion single-payer universal healthcare. I am HUGELY upset with his "I don't want to prosecute" attitude toward Bushie torturers (and hope that AG Holder, unlike Ashcroft, Gonzalez, or Mukasey, has enough independence from the WH to appoint a special prosecutor).

But these criticisms are criticisms of Obama's policies--not of his choice of dog, his handshake with Chavez, his going without tie in the Oval office, etc. These kind of absurd criticisms from the Right do nothing but make the Right seem even more foolish and more out of touch than previously.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said:

I would like to point out one more thing about your comments, where you suggested that Ortega's criticism of the U.S. is justified because we are/were a "rogue regime."

Bubba, I think the problem that some of us have with some on the edgier Right is a matter of perspective.

If someone looks at all the damage done by the prevalence of the personal auto and makes the case that, yes, there IS a great deal of harm caused by the personal auto, but there is also a lot of good that comes from it - so much good that it vastly outweighs the great and horrible costs of the personal auto... if someone makes that argument, we can talk reasonably and perhaps find areas of agreement and areas where we just disagree. But we CAN talk.

But if someone says flat out, "there is no 'great and terrible' cost to the prevalence of the personal auto," then I'm not sure how we have a conversation. Yes, factually and in the real world, there is a TREMENDOUS cost associated with the prevalence of the personal auto. Anyone who says otherwise has a problem with reconciling their views with reality.

IF someone says, "While we were perhaps mistaken in our support for terrorists and thugs in Latin America and around the world when we've done so, I don't see how we could have done otherwise at the time because... [insert reasoning]" well, I can have a conversation with that person. We may disagree on points and agree on others, but we can have a conversation.

But when someone says, "We've done nothing to apologize for," despite our support for terrorists, despite our use of torture, despite our support for thugs like Saddam and Pinoceht, well again, we don't know how to have a conversation with that person. Their reality is so skewed that it's almost like we're speaking a different language.

And that's why sometimes we give up on our conversations with folk like you when they go in that direction. Now, this is coming from someone who REALLY believes in the need to have conversations with our political opponents, that we NEED to hear one another and understand where each other is coming from. But at some point, their grasp of the English language and their perception of reality seems so skewed that it becomes difficult.

Perhaps you can understand my point here.

Dan Trabue said...

By the way, when you can remember to do so, if you put a break tag (a "br" surrounded by brackets like these < > - I don't think I can actually spell it out here) after you quote someone else, you'll have your space between a quote and your text.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said:

Your positions are so extreme that, at a minimum, you are in no position to dictate what premises are realistic.

You are, of course, free to think so. I think your more radical positions are not at all reasonable. Feel free to think the same of me.

Given the increasing isolation and marginalization of the views of the more radical right, I'd suggest you are losing your argument.

And while I'm not sure there's much point in rehashing more of this, I'll take on a bit more. Bubba said:

Your comment didn't actually explain how you really see Reagan's two terms as exceptional in American history.

I did not say this. We have a long history of supporting oppressive dictators and other thugs that extends beyond Reagan.

What I said was it would be a mistake to confuse those actions with American values. Those were perversions of American ideals. They have come too often in our history, but they are not representative of our ideals.

We do not support torture (and we DO think that waterboarding is torture, it's why Nazis were prosecuted for doing it. It was wrong then, it's wrong now.) We do not - in our laws or best ideals - support terrorists. We do not - in our laws or best ideals - support dictators or overthrowing nations.

That such things HAVE happened in our history are a sad reality. For this, we have much to apology for.

You are free to disagree. I think you are on the wrong side of history if you're defending torture, war crimes, terrorism and dictators. I don't find the opposition to such behavior to be extreme at all. That you do says more about you than me.

Bubba also said:

I do wonder to what degree the Left really balks at American support for thugs when so many on the Left are quite vocal apologists for Castro; when you don't seem to have much of a problem with an increasingly oppressive Chavez

Michael, in this very comments section, has criticized Chavez. As have I, in the past. As I have criticized Castro. As I have criticized Ortega.

They are not perfect leaders and they take actions that are plain wrong, at times. I would not vote for any of them as president of this nation.

But then, they didn't run for office here. They ran for office in their own nations. And won (well, not in Castro's case...).

I merely respect the rights of the people of Venezuela and Nicaragua to manage their own affairs without the US deciding to support terrorism, dictators or coups.

The difference between the Left and the Right is not that we love the Ortegas, Chavezes or Castros of the world, but rather that we respect the autonomy of these nations to run themselves without interference from the US.

(and yes, yes, of course there are some reactionaries who will praise a Chavez or a Castro beyond reason, but they tend to be young and/or ill-informed and reacting to heavy-handed Rightist slander by overcompensating with praise.)

Dan Trabue said...

One last thing, where you said:

For the record, we on the right do not support torture

I'm glad to hear it. I'm just sad to hear that you don't think nearly drowning people is torture.

Does that mean you support removing the war crime convictions of Nazis who were convicted of torture who used these sorts of methods?

As to your note that "we've done waterboarding to ourselves, therefore it can't be torture..." argument: I was just listening to a news segment the other day where psychologists were pointing out that there's a difference in voluntarily taking part in a waterboarding exercise (which you can end at any point in time - ie, YOU have the power) and having waterboarding forced upon you.

It seems like a logical and self-apparent point to make but one that appears to be lost on folk like you.

Boxing (punching, fighting), after all, is not damaging (within reason). Does that mean you support having someone "box" your loved ones against their will? Or, do you recognize that such actions would be torture?

The fact that some people willingly submit themselves to abuse is not the same thing as saying that behavior is not torture.

Again, this seems self-evident, I believe, to most of us.

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, one more (and I know I'm wandering off topic here - my blog...)

Bubba said:

you believe that some of its passages attribute literal atrocities to God's will and that it's nearly "blasphemous" to accept the authority of these passages.

I'm not sure what you're arguing here. IF taken literally, some of the Bible's stories DO attribute atrocities to God's Will. "GOD SAID, 'kill 'em all, including their children."

It is the literalists who are attributing God with committing atrocities. A position which I find unreasonable. I find it much more reasonable to say, "No, even if the Bible has a line that says, 'God ordered the slaughter of children,' God does not do such things..."

So, it is the literalists, not the more progressive Bible readers, who attribute atrocities to God.

What was your point there? (and don't dwell on it, please, as it is off topic - I am just not sure of your point, your sentence seems to undermine your own point of who is being reasonable and who isn't.)

John said...

Bubba wrote:

I don't think we as a country have literally nothing to apologize for, but I do think it's very little compared both to the great things we have done (often at a very high price) and to the horrible things that our enemies have done and often continue to do.

Indeed. I can think of no other single country in the world that has done more good for the world than the United States.

Dan Trabue said...

Indeed, we are a great and generous people with great ideals.

I just am amongst the many who think that a great people can afford easily to apologize when they have failed to live up to their ideals.

The very wonder of our ideals and vastness of our wealth makes it all the more appalling when we support terrorists, thugs, torture, greed, lack of generosity or other un-American ways.

Dan Trabue said...

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.

"Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me Therefore I removed them when I saw it."

~Ezekiel 16

There is something about the very nature of having much (in terms of enlightenment AND in terms of wealth) and failing to make good use of it - and this is true in the pages of the Bible and in any time or source throughout history, I'd suggest - that makes it all the more grossly appalling when the "rich and powerful" stoop to such atrocities as terrorism, supporting oppression, dictators and thugs, as well as small-mindedness and greed.

Seems to me.

Bubba said...

Dan, briefly, I don't think conservatism is losing the argument, considering how frequently the Left obscures their own views and mischaracterizes ours. Obama veered (hard) to the center to portray himself as a moderate because -- even against a candidate as uninspiring as McCain, in the middle of a collapsing economy and in the context of a contentious war -- he would not have won if he ran on his voting record and his radical history. This move to obscure his past worked only because the media largely refused to vet the candidate.

You write:

"Your comment didn't actually explain how you really see Reagan's two terms as exceptional in American history."

I did not say this. We have a long history of supporting oppressive dictators and other thugs that extends beyond Reagan.

What I said was it would be a mistake to confuse those actions with American values. Those were perversions of American ideals. They have come too often in our history, but they are not representative of our ideals.
That is NOT what you said. What you said -- and what I was referencing -- was that, "one ought to be damned sure not to equate our latin american policies under Reagan with the US in general. Those years and policies were amongst the LEAST American acts ever."

It's worth noting that, though you once suggested that Reagan's policies were such an aberration that we should be "damned sure" not to equate them with US policy in general, you continue to act as if our foreign policy in Latin America tended to be wrong as a matter of course.

About the Bible, my point is only to highlight your extremism.

In affirming the Bible's inerrant authority, we theologically conservative Christians DO NOT assert that God commanded atrocities. You use that term, not us, and we object to its use.

I've said this before, but the problem is not with "literalists" because you have never offered (and I believe that you CANNOT offer) a non-literalist -- i.e., a figurative -- interpretation of the passage that keeps intact the passage's divine inspiration and authority. Instead, you have speculated that the passages are "revenge fantasies" inserted by Israelites after the exile.

Your problem isn't with literalism, where you have a figurative alternative interpretation. It has always been with the text's inerrant authority, because you deny that the passage really is an inspired and authoritative revelation from God.

This is an extreme position AT LEAST for someone who claims to love the Bible and is quite defensive at anyone who expresses skepticism at the claim.

You claim to love the Bible, but you believe it attributes atrocities (your word, not ours) to God Almighty.

This is an extreme, radical position that is a clean break from the consensus view of Christianity throughout history, even if it happens to still land within the minimal requirements of small-o orthodoxy.

You believe America is/was a rogue state, that the free market is built on greed, and the Bible teaches that God commanded atrocities.

These are all very radical positions that makes it difficult to accept your claim that those who reject your often contentious premises don't have a firm grasp on reality.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said:

You claim to love the Bible, but you believe it attributes atrocities (your word, not ours) to God Almighty.

Once again (and for the final time, since it's off topic here): I DO NOT BELIEVE GOD commands atrocities. However, the Bible shows God saying, "Kill children. Wipe 'em out."

For humans to mass slaughter children IS an atrocity, by any rational definition. Once again for clarity's sake:


It is the Biblical literalists who would, therefore, believe in an atrocity-commanding God, not me.

One can love the Bible's teachings and yet not accept every teaching as representative of God's Will. It just is a reality that this can happen. I DO love the Bible, but I DON'T accept that every line is a perfect representation of God's Will.

If you can't deal with the fact - the reality in the real world - that some people love the Bible and yet don't accept each line as literal, that's your problem, not ours. In the real world, I DO love the Bible. Fact.

And once again, if you ask me, the extreme position is one that says God sometimes has commanded atrocities (ie, the mass slaughter of children). You are free to have a different opinion.

No real need for you to continue to state something that is not a fact and that you can't prove to be not a fact, okay?

John said...

Michael wrote:

I am HUGELY upset with his "I don't want to prosecute" attitude toward Bushie torturers (and hope that AG Holder, unlike Ashcroft, Gonzalez, or Mukasey, has enough independence from the WH to appoint a special prosecutor).

Well, Obama certainly isn't going to put Bush administration officials on trial for issuing and following procedures that major Democratic leaders were aware of early on. That would only prove very embarrasing to his own party.

Anyway, it would be unhealthy in any republic for an administration to simply prosecute its predacessors. And I'm sure that Obama doesn't want to face similar threats when he leaves office. Stability in a republic requires that electoral losers feel that it's safe to leave office.

But if I were Bush, I'd never set foot outside of the U.S. for the next 3-7 years. If a foreign court were to arrest him, I'm not sure that Obama would step in with force.

Dan Trabue said...

If you're gone, Bubba, that's fine. If you're still around, I have a favor to ask. Allow me to sum up your position on the Bible along these lines (correct me if I'm wrong):

The bible teaches us that god HATES sin and that god is a god of Love and Justice. The bible tells us that this god of Love and Justice hates sin SO MUCH that sometimes in the bible, god commands people to slaughter whole nations of sinners, including their children! (Although sometimes god spared the virgin girls so the captors could take them home to be their wives).

Now, this is not an atrocity (the killing of innocent children) but rather a demonstration of how much my god HATES SIN. god hates sin, injustice and oppression SO much, that sometimes god has commanded that people kill innocent children to demonstrate that god hates sin (because, after all, their parents were horrible sinners and they were just getting what they deserve).

Now, my god does not do that sort of thing anymore (telling people to slaughter children). It happened in my bible so we know it's true, but then my god changed his approach. Still, all of us are sinners and therefore subject to my god's wrath towards our sin. Do you want god to forgive you of your sins so you don't have to face this angry god's wrath?

1. Is that (at least roughly) your position?

2. If so, can you say that out loud, preferably to another person, without laughing in embarrassment or crying in shame? Seriously, can you speak the above words out loud and not find them to be a radical and crazy position?

Would you say such words to a beloved friend or family member whom you were trying to convert to Christianity?

I have to tell you (and you are always free to disagree with me) that I find your position incredibly more radical, dangerous and crazy than saying, "I DO love the Bible, but I DON'T accept that every line is a perfect representation of God's Will."

Really? You can say that out loud and not be embarrassed?

Dan Trabue said...

To answer your question: I'm not embarrassed by the Bible. I'm embarrassed by some who'd try to suggest we need to take each line literally when clearly some lines can't be taken literally if we wish to retain our humanity or our Godliness.

What guides me is God, as best I understand God, not the Bible, even though the Bible gives me good insight into God's nature. What certainly does NOT guide me is your or Billy Graham's or some other fella's leaden interpretation of the Bible that would have God commanding the slaughter of children.

Dan Trabue said...

And evidence that it's NOT my politics that guide me is found in the fact that I've adapted my politics as I've tried to better understand God, not the other way around.

I was a more militaristic young man but had to change that political position when I felt that this was not the Path of God.

I was a more materialistic young man but had to change that political position when I felt that it was not the Path of God.

I was opposed to gay marriage but had to change that political position when I felt that this was not the Path of God.

You get the point. Factually, I have not changed my faith system to match what my politics were, I've done the opposite.


Bubba said...

For crying out loud, Dan, it's not a question of taking the passage "literally" because you have never offered a figurative interpretation of the problematic passages, much less one that's actually plausible.

Your problem is quite clearly not with people who interpret these passages "literally" but with people who accept these passages as authoritative.

"I DO love the Bible, but I DON'T accept that every line is a perfect representation of God's Will."

You're dismissing some passages of the Bible as imperfect representations (a vast understatement, given your comments) of God's will.

If your problem was with literalism rather than a belief in the Bible's inerrant authority, you would INSTEAD say something like this: "I believe this passage REALLY IS a perfect representation of God's will, but it must be interpreted figuratively, and here's what I think is its figurative meaning..."

You don't do that. Instead you dismiss the passage as an imperfect revelation, speculate that it was inserted as a "revenge fantasy" of Jews in exile, and accuse those who affirm the passage's authority of near blasphemy.

You're misusing the word "literal." As many times as I've made this point, you've never actually refuted it with anything resembling an argument, you just make the mistake again at a later point as if no one has ever objected to it before. This is particularly frustrating as frequently as you appeal to strict dictionary definitions in other contexts.

You have a problem with my "leaden interpretation"?

Offer an alternative interpretation that is plausible and that -- in obedience to what Christ taught about Scripture -- affirms the passage's authority as divine revelation.

You've never done that, and you've never seen the need to. I don't think you're going to do so anytime soon (or probably ever) so quit pretending that the issue is over interpretation.

It's not over the meaning of the passage, but its authority as revelation.

Bubba said...

About your implication -- and it IS only an implication -- that your reading the Bible informed your politics, all that I need to ask is in reference to this implausible claim:

I was opposed to gay marriage but had to change that political position when I felt that this was not the Path of God.What passage of Scripture, specifically, convinced you that "gay marriage" is Biblically permissible?

I've asked the question before, and you've never answered it. I don't think you can answer it because no such passage exists: every passage that mentions homosexual behavior condemns it, and -- more importantly -- Jesus Christ affirmed the teaching in Genesis 2 that we were made for marriage that is explicitly heterosexual. As you have now acknowledged, God made us male and female so that a man "will leave his parents - to be married with a woman."

As I wrote earlier, you invoked the argument from outrage at the Bible's supposed atrocities to undermine its authority regarding homosexuality. Let's also remember what you wrote about Paul:

A straightforward read [of I Timothy] makes it appear that Paul was a sexist, insensitive, homophobic, condescending, patriarchal pig.

And, given the culture in which he sprung, doubtless some of that is true.
[emphasis mine]

We discussed this comment at length, and I don't think you ever retracted it as a misstatement.

You believe it is "doubtless" that Paul was sexist, homophobic, and/or condescending.

These are not the sort of statements anyone would expect from a person whose trust in the Bible informs his politics. Instead, these are the comments of a man who uses his gender-neutral, nearly androgynous politics to filter what he accepts from the Bible.

As I said earlier, it's only an implication that your reading the Bible lead to your leftist politics.

"Factually, I have not changed my faith system to match what my politics were, I've done the opposite."

It's clear that your "faith system" isn't grounded in the Bible. No faith that is based on the Bible would dismiss the Bible's own teachings about its own authority; no faith that is based on the Bible would dismiss passages as imperfect revelation.

If your faith system isn't based on your political philosophy, it sure isn't obvious what IS its foundation, because it's evidently not the Bible.

And -- again -- you don't even attempt to present a plausible alternative interpretation of difficult passages; you dismiss those passages as "imperfect," as flawed and erroneous, possibly mere "revenge fantasies" of exilic Jews. You're not embarassed by your politics, but you are clearly embarassed by much of what the Bible clearly teaches.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba misstated:

What passage of Scripture, specifically, convinced you that "gay marriage" is Biblically permissible?

I've asked the question before, and you've never answered it.

Actually, I have answered it repeatedly. (gay marriage is never mentioned negatively or positively in the Bible, so anyone who opposes it or supports it does so based on logic, reasoning and seeking the best moral answers they can outside the Bible). What you mean to say, I'm sure, is that I've never answered it in a way that satisfies you.

But you ought not mistake that I have not answered such questions in a way that satisfies Bubba to mean that I have not answered them in my heart seeking God's will the best I can. Fair enough?

Put another way: I need to please God, not Bubba.

Bubba also misstated (along the same lines):

It's clear that your "faith system" isn't grounded in the Bible. No faith that is based on the Bible would dismiss the Bible's own teachings about its own authority

Again, what you mean here is that it's clear TO YOU that my faith isn't grounded in the Bible as Bubba understands it, but that ought not be confused for the case that my faith is not grounded upon biblical teaching. Solidly.

And again, I need to please God, not Bubba. I'm sorry you don't read the Bible as I do, or understand where I'm coming from, but it isn't from a lack of my trying to explain myself. Ultimately, though, I answer to God, not Bubba.

On the topic we've been discussing, it is Bubba's understanding that his god sometimes has ordered people in the past (although his god would no longer do so, because his god changed his mind apparently) to slaughter children wholesale. Bubba finds that reasonable and not a radically awful presentation of his god.

I, on the other hand, understand that God would never order the slaughter of children. It would be wrong to do so.

You apparently feel comfortable with your take on that god. I feel more comfortable (and grounded Biblically as well as ethically and logically) with my understanding of God.

You can go believe as you wish. I shall strive to follow God as best I can on my own without your help on at least this point.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm sorry. I've explained my position as much as I care to. Your failure to understand my positions is not to support the notion that I can't possibly honestly hold my positions. Clearly, I do.

You are obliged to follow God as best you know how and so am I. I am not convinced by your arguments nor you mine.

All of your arguments above DO serve to relate to my original point of this post: Some on the Right thrive on outrage and petty criticisms of the smallest things and are mean-spririted and wrong-headed and, I believe, due to all of this, you are losing your arguments. You attack the people, not the positions and your attacks of positions, when you try to make them, tend towards the petty and ridiculous.

Good luck with that. May God's will be done.

Dan Trabue said...

Then again, if you really want to put forth an even moderately convincing argument that your beliefs regarding biblical atrocities are "biblically grounded," I'm not sure why you don't argue from, you know, the actual text of the Bible.

Bubba, I have done this before, but probably not too often. I am of the school of thought that it is self-evident that killing innocent people and especially children is evil and wrong.

Are you saying you want me to make a biblical case that killing innocent people is wrong? Really?

If you'd like, I will do so again right now, in case you have missed it.

You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you...

~Deut 19

Accept this atonement for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, O LORD, and do not hold your people guilty of the blood of an innocent man." And the bloodshed will be atoned for.

~Deut 21

"How much more—when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed—should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!"

~2 Sam 4

[Describing evil King Manasseh...] because they have done evil in my eyes and have provoked me to anger from the day their forefathers came out of Egypt until this day. Moreover, Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end...

~2 Kings 21 [and again in 2 Kings 24]

Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood.

Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways.

~Isa 59 [describing evil people]

...if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place...

~Jer 7 [describing right living]

Other similar passages can be found here.

But honestly, I'm sure you will agree with me that it is abundantly clear in the Bible and logically that killing innocent people - especially children - is inherently wrong. That is the first leg in my case and, since it is obviously clear that it is always wrong to slaughter innocent children then it follows logically that a perfect loving God does not tell people to do what is inherently evil.

It is a tautology. God is good. Killing innocent children is evil. Therefore, God does not tell people to kill innocent children. It's self evident.

Your case, on the other hand, tries to jump through some twisted logic that, SINCE god is god and god can do no evil, then if god tells you to kill innocents or rape puppies or any other atrocity, it can't be wrong. After all, your argument goes, life is god's to give or take and if god says to commit this evil action, then it must be for a good reason and therefore, not evil.

It's not a biblical case, but rather a backwards case one makes when one presumes that each line in the Bible must be literal and, if the bible says god said, "kill babies," then I have to find SOME argument to justify that.

"I'll take a baby-killing god," your argument goes, "in order to maintain a literal bible."

That's not a biblical argument and it's not a logical argument. It's just a huge bit ridiculous and pardon me for not spending more time discussing a ridiculous argument.

Alan said...

"With little else left to say..."

Oh if only that were true.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, where you say:

First, you continue to misuse literalism, criticizing the presumption "that each line in the Bible must be literal."

I respond, once again, with the definition of the word...


literal: being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy

merriam webster:

b: adhering to fact or to the ordinary construction or primary meaning of a term or expression : actual c: free from exaggeration or embellishment d: characterized by a concern mainly with fact

I do not believe the passages where God commands Israel to kill children are a literal (in the sense of the above definitions - actual, free from exaggeration, characterized by a concern mainly with the fact) representation of God. I need not, by definition, provide a figurative explanation for it. It's just not a literal representation of facts, just like a six day creation is not a literal representation of facts. I need not explain a figurative alternative explanation of a six day creation myth to believe it is not literal.

I'd say it's time we move on past that point, it's a non-starter.

You are correct, though, that I do not believe that passage taken literally to be an accurate, factual representation of God's will. You do, apparently. You are correct that I object to the extrabiblical belief in an inerrant Bible. I don't think "inerrant" is a word that applies to the Bible, any more than I believe "inerrant" applies to Aesop's fables. They're both primarily books of Truths, not facts.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said:

If the Bible doesn't teach that -- in the passages where God commanded wars of annihilation -- the enemies were innocent, just where in the world do you get the idea that they WERE innocent?

Even the idea that children are inherently innocent seems superficially reasonable -- and is certainly a good guide for secular law enforcement -- but where does the Bible teach it?

1. The notion that children are innocent is a common (although not universal) teaching in Christian theology, at least in evangelical circles. Baptists, I know, believe that children are innocent of sin up to the "age of accountability."

2. The Baptists are able to come to this conclusion NOT because there is a line in the Bible that says "children are innocent until the age of accountability," but rather, using common logic.

2a. IF a child is 2 minutes old, CLEARLY in any reasonable set of circumstances, they are innocent of absolutely any sin. They have not sinned. They have not planned to sin. They have not killed, nor lied, nor cheated, nor thought to do any of the above. Clearly, babies are innocent of sin, beyond any reasonable doubt.

2b. Now, we can disagree at what point children become aware enough to decide to choose to sin (ie, age of accountability, in Baptist terminology), but no reasonable person can conclude that babies and children up to some age are, in every sense of the word, innocent.

2c. In this regard (and on an unrelated note), the Baptist position on the age of accountability is like the progressive position in support of gay marriage. It is not explicitly suggested in the Bible, but rather, we use basic moral logic to reach this conclusion.

Do you disagree? Do you think 2 minute old infants are guilty of some sin? Or is it that you think that the sins of the parents are passed on to this infant?

I'd love to see you try to make either of those cases.

Dan Trabue said...

So your examples, Bubba, (of god choosing to wipe out innocents even though Noah pleaded that god not do so) offer a perfect example of what to do with conflicting teachings.

1. Clearly, children are innocent.

2. Clearly, killing innocent people is unjust and wrong.

3. Clearly, a good and holy God would not do wrong, and certainly would not command people to commit the most evil of deeds.

4. Clearly, the Bible has passages where god commands killing innocent children.

5. Therefore, we have a conundrum. What do we do with these passages?

You suggest that the primary thing to do is by all means, take that passage to be a literally exact representation of god's will. In order to do that, you must hold the position that god sometimes has commanded the killing of innocents - a horrible atrocity.

Now, there is no biblical nor logical reason that says we ought to take that passage to be a perfect reflection of God's Will. But because you are not comfortable with the notion of saying, "sometimes, the Bible describes things that don't perfectly reflect God's will," you choose to embrace the notion that god sometimes commands the killing of innocents.

For my part, having no logical nor biblical reason to assume that such passages ought to be considered a literally accurate representation of God's Will - AND, knowing that such actions are atrocious - I reconcile it by saying simply, "this passage does not represent a perfect description of God's will."

Problem solved.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba asked:

1) Do you have any biblical reason for believing that those who God commanded to be wiped out were actually innocent?

No. Do I need one?

Now I want to know:

Do you you have any logical reason for believing that babies are NOT innocent?

Bubba asked:

2) Do you have any biblical reason to believe that children are inherently innocent?

The bible repeatedly (as I've noted) makes charges against those who spill innocent blood. I would maintain that if there is a charge against certain people for spilling innocent blood, then the blood spilled must have been from an innocent person.

And again, I want to know:

Do you you have any logical reason for believing that babies are NOT innocent?

Bubba asked:

Do you believe that Exodus 20:13 and 21:12 are contradictory and therefore irreconcilable? If not, why not?

"You shall not kill." ~ex 20:13

"Whoever strikes a man a mortal blow must be put to death." ~ex 21:12

I would believe that, in context, 20:13 is talking about not killing innocent people (and I reckon your argument is that there are NO innocent people, so the rule means virtually nothing?). The 21:12 passage is describing a capital punishment law.

I don't think they're contradictory, but rather, are talking about two sets of circumstances.

Why do you ask?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said:

You insist that a good and holy God would not kill children, yet both the Bible and the world around us tell us emphatically that even children die all the time. One must either believe in an unbiblically impotent deity or check your glib assumptions at the door.

Well, we certainly have a severe parting of the ways on this point.

1. Death is a natural part of this world. There is no evil intent in death. It happens. It's part of life and can be a blessed, if sad, thing.

2. One need not believe in an impotent God if one believes that God created a world that functions in a natural way and that death is a part of the natural world. It simply is the way it is.

3. Your argument seems to be that God causes each death. I reject that as unbiblical and illogical.

Yes, the Bible uses metaphorical language (God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust) to suggest a more hands on God, but it is not good exegesis nor theology, I'd posit, to suggest that God is in the business of micromanaging the natural creation.

Am I correct that you believe in the micromanaging God - That nothing happens that God doesn't cause? Or what is your position? (Surely you don't believe God caused Hitler to commit genocide??)

Dan Trabue said...

And I know (I know, I know) that I'm off my own topic, but 1. It's my blog and 2. I think this conversation with Bubba IS on the greater topic of, "What's up with the constant criticism?"

And so, continuing to address Bubba's comments, he said:

Anyway, any person who compares the Bible to Aesop's Fables probably doesn't hold the Bible in very high esteem...

Says you. I disagree. Aesop's fables are stories of profound truth and so, a comparison of the Bible to another book of profound truths is in no way insulting. In fact, I find the Bible to be more profound than Aesop's, but still, the comparison is not in any significant manner an insult.

You are free to disagree. I would expect those who tend towards more literal views of biblical exegesis to find the use of the word "fable" or "myth" in any close connection with the Bible to be insulting, but that's more a shortcoming on their part than any actual denigration of the Bible.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba also said:

When you write, in a gross understatement, that you believe that the passage in question is not a perfect representation of God's will, it's clear that you believe the passage contains imperfections. There is a name for imperfections that deviate from the truth: it's called falsehood.

That might be one name. Another name would be, "Interpretation," and yet another would be "Perspective."

As in:

"It was the writer's perspective that God was telling Israel to kill children. Clearly, we know that God does not do this. Sometimes in the Bible, you have a powerless people who have been oppressed and it is completely natural for them to want to see a God that would take revenge for them, or allow them to take revenge. It's a natural human response to oppression and we ought not judge it too harshly, especially we who have never known oppression. Still, neither should we mistake it for an endorsement of the practice of killing children..."

That kind of thing. It's the writer's perspective. The writer, one can suppose, had no intention of lying, but rather, merely spoke to his deep and troubling feelings that were quite real and honest and that's okay.

Bubba also said:

Infants don't commit murder, certainly, but they aren't born altruistic. They are very selfish and self-centered alimentary canals who must be TAUGHT virtuous regard for the welfare of others.

Really? An infant who is hungry is being selfish to want sustenance? Is that your position?

No. Children are, in fact, innocent. At the very least, newborns are. There is not a single logical, rational, reality-based case that can be made to support the notion that infants are NOT innocent or that they are selfish.

Nothing personal, but it is a ridiculous argument. And if you would make that argument - against evidence, against reason, against basic humanity - just in order to make it fit your understanding of the Bible, I'd suggest it's time to question your understanding of the Bible.

Alan said...


Does anyone know of a mainline theology that supports Bubba's interpretation?

Those of us in the Reformed camp have always stated that children are innocent enough to be saved even if they've never been baptized, made a profession of faith, etc. My understanding is that Baptist and Wesleyan theologies have also traditionally believed that, though no one is innocent due to original sin, babies are still spared from hell.

But the notion that these selfish little whelps are asking for it? Is there any theology that would support Bubba's conclusions? Or is he, as usual, out on a limb all on his own? It looks like, as usual, those who claim the title "orthodox" are usually the least orthodox in their theology.

Dan Trabue said...

Yeah, I'm not sure that this is Bubba's position, but it sure sounds like it. Perhaps he can clarify.

Bubba sort of sums up his position on this point by saying:

the Bible teaches that we are all condemned because of our ultimately being Adam's biological descendents. In I Corinthians 15:22, Paul writes that "all die in Adam," which he elaborates in Romans 5:18-19, where "one man's trespass led to condemnation for all," and "by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners."

In short, Bubba SEEMS to be taking the doctrine of original sin, which says that, "When Adam sinned, human nature was corrupted, so that now all people are born with a sinful nature," and presuming that it means that we're all guilty of sin from day one.

But in the Ezekiel, we are told flatly, "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." As one traditional-sounding preacher I found online noted, "It is not the sin of Adam that I inherited, but his fallen, separated-from-God, nature which leads me to commit my own sin."

I believe the doctrine of original sin would teach that, being human, we tend towards sin. We have a "sin nature," a proclivity to sin. That we all do, in fact, sin at some point.

But this is not the same as saying that infants sin. One has to be aware of a wrong in order to commit it. What one does in innocence can hardly be held against you.

The same aforementioned pastor notes:

Numbers 14:29-31

29 In this desert your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected.

Notice, God did not judge the children. In fact, in these verses, God did not judge anyone under the age of 20! Check out the next verse and notice how God describes these children in the book of Deuteronomy:

Deuteronomy 1:39

39 And the little ones that you said would be taken captive,

your children who do not yet know good from bad

—they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it.

1. It says they did not yet know “good from bad”
2. Those “children” were 20 years old and younger.

And once again, I KNOW this is off-topic. I find the conversation intriguing nonetheless.

Perhaps Bubba would like to clarify his position?

Bubba said...

Dan, I've been busy this week (far more than most), and there is much, much more to respond to right now than I have time. I hope to have changed that by the end of the weekend and respond quite throroughly to your many comments.

I will say, very briefly, that I do not reject the idea of an age of accountability before which children who die are not damned: their salvation may be more a reflection of God's mercy rather than their innocence, but I don't reject the idea.

What I reject is the notion of using that idea as a bludgeon against the Bible. What's particularly galling is when someone who undermines the Bible's authority still clings very implausibly to the position that his belief system is biblically grounded.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said:

What I reject is the notion of using that idea as a bludgeon against the Bible. What's particularly galling is when someone who undermines the Bible's authority still clings very implausibly to the position that his belief system is biblically grounded.

And this gets us down closer to some of the "what's up with the constant criticism?" theme, seems to me.

You read what I write and find that I am using my understanding of right living as a bludgeon against the Bible, while I do not. You can not understand how someone can believe as I do and yet love the Bible or believe myself to be a serious student of the Bible, and yet that is the case.

But, since you can't understand it, you repeatedly assert that it must not be true.

On the other hand, I object to what I see in many as using the Bible as a bludgeon against reason. If reason tells us one thing and the Bible tells us something different, then we must side with that flat interpretation of the Bible and reason, logic and evidence must be questioned as unreliable.

I don't check my brain at the door when I enter church. Logical consistency matters to me.

Dan Trabue said...

Which is not to say, Bubba (since it sorta sounds like I might be implying this), that I don't think you want to use your brains either. But unless I'm mistaken, you would own up to putting logic second to a fairly literal interpretation of passages like "God said, 'kill all the babies,'" am I right?

That is, you're starting from the position that if the Bible says, "God said, 'kill all the babies,'" then God must have said that and then you apply logic from there ("So, now that we know that God has said that, what do we do with it? Does that mean God STILL sometimes commands people to kill babies? What are the implications of this reality..."). On the other hand, I feel no such compunction to start with a given ("If the Bible says "God said, 'kill all the babies,'" then that must be a literal historic event...") but rather, would want to begin with looking at the whole of the Bible with my logic on hand to begin with.

If that makes sense.

Dan Trabue said...

One more:

The difference between us appears to be that you seem willing to downgrade the authority of passages of the Bible that you don't like if you cannot reconcile the passage to the rest of the text.

As I have noted elsewhere, it has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not "I don't like" a passage. It has to do with whether a specific passage makes internal sense biblically and makes just plain logical sense.

If a passage does not make sense within the greater context of the Bible, then we probably need to adapt our interpretation of that passage. This is what I've done.

It has nothing to do with liking or disliking.

Dan Trabue said...

A little clarification:

1. I am coming from the background similar to yours, Bubba, at least in the sense that I was raised to take the historic portions of the Bible as of necessity being literally accurate representations of history. If the Bible describes a man being swallowed by a great fish, it happened. If the Bible describes a six day creation, it happened. And, if the Bible describes God commanding Israel to slaughter babies, it happened just that way.

I understand the desire to take these passages literally. It felt somehow dishonest or that it took away from the Bible's "god-iness" to allow that each historic story MIGHT not have happened just as described.

2. Ultimately, I changed my opinion when, through Bible study, I could find no compelling reason to do this. There's nothing unbiblical or un-Godly about saying, "ya know, I don't see any reason to believe this happened just as it is penned here..." It's simply not in the Bible that this is wrong.

3. Rather, it is a human inclination, I think, to what our holy books to be Perfect and Beyond Question. But it's not a biblical or godly or logical position to hold, I ultimately came to believe. Can anyone offer a BIBLICAL reason as to why I should accept a story of a baby-slaughtering god as factual?

Bubba here makes the case that because Jesus affirmed "the scripture" to "the smallest penstroke," is to say that we ought to take historical stories as perfectly accurate. That seems a leap, to me. (And beyond that, this one line seems to be his entire case for doing so, perhaps I'm wrong).

3A. The passage Bubba speaks of is this:

“Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill. For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished.”

3B. From this, Bubba (and many others, myself included at one point) think this infers that Jesus spoke of the "authority" of scripture, which they further infer means that each historical record must be taken literally. Jesus here is talking about the "laws and prophets" of the OT, which is not to say that he was endorsing a literal reading of historical passages. One might make that guess, but it is not an automatically logical assumption.

For one thing, Jesus specifically (literally) said that "not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away FROM THE LAW," so if you are a literalist, this would not necessarily cause you to by necessity accept the historic stories en toto.

4. My biblical reason against such is that the Bible is clear (and again, this is affirmed by our own God-given logic and humanity) that killing innocents is wrong. Therefore, biblically and logically, it becomes impossible to accept a line that commands something otherwise so clearly atrocious.

5. Now in some cases (whether or not Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, Jesus' resurrection) we may indeed find our logic troubled by such propositions. However, neither of those two cases are BIBLICALLY opposed. On the other hand, slaughtering babies IS biblically (and logically) opposed. So it is a different matter. I have no problem accepting some mystery.

I DO believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Such a position may be doubted by science, but it is not refuted by Scripture. So here, too, you can see Bubba, that my reason for opposing the slaugter babies scenario is a biblical one. I'm showing you here I'm not entirely logic-/science-based and so that a biblical event defies logic is not to say that I'd automatically dismiss it. But if a biblical event DEFIES THE BIBLE, then that is where I would have a problem.

Bubba said...

To be clear, the next to last paragraph should read, "On the other hand, are circumstances where God commands man to shed ARGUABLY innocent blood on His behalf..."

The Bible does not assert that the Moabites, for instance, were innocent, and it has not been made clear that the Bible actually teaches that children are inherently innocent.

Whether the Moabites or the Moabite children are innocent or not, I believe my question is worth asking and deserves an answer.

Dan, I would like to know whether you still believe Numbers 16 contains a moral atrocity, and I would like to know whether you apply that belief to all cases where the Bible records that God ends the life of a children -- such as during the first Passover.

Marshall Art said...

After reading through all these comments, I am reminded of an interview of John Shelby Spong who said that he didn't think such stories of "atrocities" were very God-like, to which Dennis Prager said, "No. You just don't think it's very Spong-like." Many people, mainly non-Christians or Christians in name only, tend to judge God's actions in human terms, or by what they think God should be like. I think Dan does this often, but definitely on this issue. And Dan relies on Scriptural teachings for how WE'RE supposed to act as proof that such is how God acts. He confuses God's Will for us, His mandates for how we're to live, with God's nature.

Dan Trabue said...

Many people, mainly non-Christians or Christians in name only, tend to judge God's actions in human terms, or by what they think God should be like.

I'll go you one better, Marshall, and suggest we ALL judge God's actions in human terms. We're human, it's our point of reference.

We can't exactly judge God on God's terms, since we're not God, yes?

For my part, I judge such passages based on the rest of the Bible and based upon our God-given reasoning. As do you.

The only difference that I can see tween folk like you and Bubba and folk like me is that I start from the starting point that we have to prayerfully reason our way through the Bible based on criteria I just spelled out above and based upon our God-given reasoning, whereas you and Bubba et al BEGIN with the presumption that each historic line must be presumed to be factually correct and then you begin trying to reason your way through the Bible.

But you first set up a criteria that neither God, nor the Bible, nor our God-given reason puts in place: The presumption of historic perfection of the Bible. (I'll use some term like that to appease Bubba's concerns about my use of the word, "literal.")

How about it? You are reasoning your way through the Bible and judging God based upon your reasoning, yes? You don't have some straight line from God that we don't have, do you?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said:

You've never shown, for instance, where the Bible SPECIFICALLY condemned the earlier commands to wipe out the Moabites: you've never shown that, because the Bible never actually does that.

I'm not sure what you're talking about, Bubba.

Also, I'm still waiting for you to clarify (I think, you've written a lot, maybe I'm missing it) if you think infants are not innocent.

Marshall Art said...

Even based on your own criteria you fail. You say you judge passages based on the rest of the Bible. Well, as Bubba points out, there are quite a few instances where children are put to death along with entire peoples, such as the Flood, Sodom and Gommorah, the first Passover. Abraham is told to sacrifice Isaac. Unruly kids are to be put to death. Then, later in Acts, Ananias and Sapphira are put to death for merely holding back some of the money they received from the sale of their own property. Sounds kinda harsh for the God you present.

And you make the mistake of assuming that I judge God at all. Who am I to do so? I also don't judge as to whether the history of the Bible is imperfect or not just because what we've come to accept as accurate history. Who's really to say? Discrepancies between Biblical history and what we now view as accurate history might not be the fault of the Bible. Some, mostly on the left, are to ready, willing and able to suggest the authors of the various books were imperfect, but insist that everything else IS perfect (or closer to it). Apparently only the Biblical authors were capable of error. Well, that supports YOUR argument pretty nicely. But it also shows a decided lack of authority given to the Book to take that attitude. And it shows a problem of putting more faith in our own ability to reason than in the Book itself.

So I don't judge God's actions at all. I may question them, wonder what He's trying to do or teach. But I don't in any way judge Him. If He wants to wipe out from existence an entire culture, that's His business and I trust Him to have a good reason for it, or at least a good reason as far as He's concerned.

My use of reasoning is directed toward deciphering what He wants me to do, or what His Will is regarding human behavior. It is used to gather as much info as I can to determine His nature and these stories you reject reflect a side of His nature with which you simply can't deal. It scares you, as well it should, because it gives you a sense of the wrath from which we will be spared due to Christ's sacrifice. He is slow to anger but He has shown that He can get angry and these stories show how hot His anger can burn. That He can get that angry shows the level of His mercy that we can be forgiven and spared the wrath that we likely deserve.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said:

And you make the mistake of assuming that I judge God at all. Who am I to do so?

Yes, absolutely! We agree there, Marshall, I'm sorry if I was not clear. Neither you nor I are in a position to judge God (although I think God welcomes questions and I guess that's a sort of judging).

BUT, we are both in a position where we have to judge the words of the Bible. We have to weigh them against themselves, against the teachings of Jesus, against logic. We are absolutely obliged to do this, I'm sure you'd agree.

And when we see a passage that says, "God says, 'Slaughter the children!'" we have to weigh that against other passages where God condemns the shedding of innocent blood. Again, I'm sure we agree. We are obliged to judge for ourselves how one passage relates to the other.

Now, HERE is where you and I disagree, I believe: You think that we HAVE to accept the historic account of God commanding baby slaughter as historically accurate, that God did in fact do this. THEN, you say, "So, what do I do with this passage that condemns slaughtering babies??" and you try to make a loophole or find some excuse to say, "Well, MAYBE, if God tells you to do that which God has commanded you not to do, then it's okay..."

On the other hand, I don't make the presumption that the first passage has to be historically factual. I have no reason to presume that as a starting point. Or, at least not sufficient reason to presume such in the face of a God that would say, "Don't Do X! It is a crime!!" and then say, "Okay, NOW do X! It's all right!"

Judging God? No. Just judging the way you and I read the Bible. And that's all good.

Dan Trabue said...

But all of this -- ALL OF IT, Dan -- is a digression, because even if an infant is truly innocent, it does not logically follow that God cannot end the infant's life through natural or supernatural means, or even through human agency such as through the historically unique relationship God had with the nation of ancient Israel

Well, here would be one area where we are different. I don't think it is a digression at all. In the real world in every reasonable sense of the world, infants are innocent. Period.

In the Bible, we are told it is wrong to shed innocent blood. Period.

Other places in the Bible, we find it recorded that God commanded that which is wrong. Period.

So, what do we do with this inconsistency? Assume both are right and try to find some way to imagine they CAN both be correct (as in your way of saying, "Well, sometimes God might order an atrocity - the shedding of innocent blood - and in that case, it is no longer an atrocity.")

I don't buy that argument. It is not a logically nor biblically consistent argument.

AND besides which, we have no biblical nor logical reason to assume that such passages have to be taken as a perfect historic rendering of what happened.

As we have already gone over repeatedly. You are welcome to your approach of presuming historic passages must be taken as perfect and then make up some reason why such behavior is okay. I don't find it biblical or logical. Fair enough? If I do not find your position to be biblical or logical (or godly or Christian), I'm sure you can understand that I would not accept your position, yes?

Thank you.

Dan Trabue said...

Do you stand by your belief that Numbers 16 contains an atrocity?

Numbers 16 contains the story of a number of Israelites who had sinned being "swallowed" by the earth, along with their children and wives to punish them for their sin.

I don't know that it is an atrocity, it is a story of a bunch of people dying (whereas an atrocity is usually considered more of a man-made act of destruction).

As I noted with Marshall, I don't judge God, God is beyond me or my judgment. However, I am to judge/interpret the Bible. I don't find it biblically or logically consistent that God would kill innocent children for the sins of their fathers.

So, I would tend to think of this as another example of a place that we should not necessarily take it as being perfectly historically accurate.

Is it your opinion that the Bible teaches that sometimes God punishes children for their parent's sin? If so, I disagree.

You see, in Ezekiel, we read:

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

That would be an example of a Truth. A Principle.

I think the Bible is a book of Truths. Not facts.

And so, we have a story that reports the facts as being that god punished innocent children for the sins of the father.

On the other hand, we have a principle stating that this is not the way it should be. That "the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father."

I believe the Truths of the Bible outrank the facts. That might be another way of looking at the differences between my type of Bible reader and yours: I'm looking for the Truths and if a recorded fact appears to challenge the Big Truth, then I'm less concerned about the facts being reported.

You, on the other hand, say that the FACTS must be taken as perfectly historically accurate and then, if a fact seems to contradict a Truth, then you try to find a way to make the fact and truth reconciled, but in so doing, you change the Bigger Truth to mean something else.

Because I love the Bible and respect its teachings of Truth, I don't always accept the facts presented in the Bible at face value. There is no biblical nor logical reason to do so. On the other hand, there are biblical and logical reasons to set aside the "facts."

Seems to me. Feel free to have another opinion.

Dan Trabue said...

You're therefore appealing to a principle that has no apparent grounding in the Bible, in order to downgrade the authority of passages of the Bible.

When you do stuff like this, I do not see how you can plausibly claim that your faith is "solidly" rooted in the Bible.

You are free to have that opinion. You'd be wrong, but you are welcome to have your own hunches and opinions about what I think. I believe I'm in a better place to know what I think, though.

If you want that claim to appear credible, tell me where the Bible teaches what you presume as uncontestable. ("Period.") Or you could do what I think honesty requires and admit that your faith's foundation is not God's written word.

I think I've addressed this before, but if not, let me be clear: My faith's foundation is NOT upon the Bible, but upon God and God's grace. I'm not saved by the Bible, but by God's grace. I throw my trust and faith upon God alone.

Now, I base what I believe about God largely (but by no means solely) upon the Bible, as well as my God-given reasoning. Same as you, I'd guess.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba said:

A biblical belief system, by definition, accepts the Bible as authoritative: if the Bible said God commanded X, the biblical Christian believes it.

Says you.

I accept the Bible as an authoritative book of Truth. I do not accept it as an accurate science book nor as an accurate history book. It never makes that claim, except in your mind. But nowhere in the Bible's pages does it make that claim.

But let's talk about the Bible as a book of Truth (and Truths) and perhaps we can agree. It is a Great and Abiding Truth that we ought not shed innocent blood.

It is a Great and Abiding Truth that we ought to love our neighbors - love our ENEMIES, even!

It is a Great and Abiding Truth that we ought to love God and God's creation (including one another).

It is a Great and Abiding Truth that we are saved by God's Grace.

Do we disagree on these great and abiding Truths? I doubt it.

You are free to have a different opinion about the historical veracity of a six day creation or of a god that commands people to slaughter babies. I don't think those are historically accurate depictions of God.

Dan Trabue said...

On all your questions about what God may or may not have done, about the historical veracity of a Death Angel literally going around a city and killing innocent babes, of a flood designed by God to wipe out the earth, etc, I will say that I don't know everything God does. I can't judge God.

However, taken these stories as historically factual does not strike me as fitting with the descriptions of God throughout the Bible. Because of that, I tend to not think of them as historically accurate.

Feel free to disagree. I won't think you hate the Bible if you disagree with me or that you disrespect the Bible if you have another hunch as to the historical veracity of these stories. I will say that I think its poor exegesis, but then, none of us are perfect.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba noted:

That's not my "way of saying" it, and nowhere have I written anything that would justify that paraphrase. I STRONGLY disagree that God would command an atrocity

I apologize. My point was not that you would use the word "atrocity," I know you wouldn't - but rather that you would read the passage that suggests God would order the killing of innocent blood and try to find a way to make that NOT contradict the passages that condemn exactly that.

My apologies for appearing to misquote you, it was not my intent.

Bubba said...

Dan, you differentiate between the Bible's historical claims and its Great and Abiding Truths.

The problem is, its greatest truth IS a historical claim: the claim that Jesus rose from the dead.

In I Cor 15, Paul is not only clear that the Resurrection was historical, reciting an early creed about its many witnesses, he made clear that the Resurrection MUST be historical.

"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." - I Cor 15:17

I know that you believe in a historical Resurrection, but in another comment thread you claimed (but never explained) a position that believing in a historical Resurrection is optional.

I'm not saying the annihilation of the Moabites is a significant doctrine, but the Bible doesn't draw a clear line between Great and Abiding Truths and merely historical claims.

By drawing that line yourself, you take a very great risk in suggesting that the central claim of Christianity -- the Resurrection of Christ -- isn't vitally important.

I do appreciate your clear answer to my question. Obviously, you've taken your beliefs to their logical conclusion, but I don't think that position is even ARGUABLY biblical.

On all your questions about what God may or may not have done, about the historical veracity of a Death Angel literally going around a city and killing innocent babes, of a flood designed by God to wipe out the earth, etc, I will say that I don't know everything God does. I can't judge God.

However, taken [sic] these stories as historically factual does not strike me as fitting with the descriptions of God throughout the Bible. Because of that, I tend to not think of them as historically accurate."
[emphasis mine]

You don't think the account of the Passover and the tenth plague of Egypt is "historically factual" and "historically accurate."

You think the God of the Bible is NOT the God of a historical Passover.

This is absurd on its face. Whatever substance is offered in response, the position is not worthy of it.

The Passover is essential to Judaism and Christianity, the latter by both implication AND Christ's explicit ordination of the Lord's Supper.

It's essential to the practices of both faiths, and the Bible ROUTINELY argues for faithfulness on the part of believers by reminding them of God's faithfulness to them, going back to the Exodus. If God did not historically bring Israel out of Egypt, there's no sound reason to trust His promises now.

You write that a historical Passover "does not strike [you] as fitting with the descriptions of God throughout the Bible," but the historical reality of the Passover as a sign of God's wrath, mercy, and faithfulness is ABSOLUTELY presumed throughout the text.

Simply put, anybody who rejects the Bible's account of the Passover as historical and accurate, rejects the Bible. His conception of God may still meet some minimalist definition of Christianity by conforming to some creed, but it departs wildly and irrevocably from the God of the Bible.

You reject the Bible's account of the Passover as historical and accurate.

Dan, you have no business at all describing your faith as biblical.

Dan Trabue said...

You're welcome to your hunch. I disagree and don't find your position on some of these questions to biblical or logical.

Good luck with that.

Bubba said...

Dan, you apparently believe that the Bible is neither accurate nor factual in its account of the Passover, and yet you insist that your faith is solidly grounded on biblical teaching.

That tells me all I need to know about your ability to discern what's logical and biblical.

Finding out your position has been like pulling teeth. I've repeatedly mentioned the troubling implications that your position on Numbers 16 might have regarding the Passover -- by my count, five times in this thread alone, including a direct question restated three different times -- and only now do you address the implications in the most understated manner.

That might reveal quite a bit about what you think of the actual plausibility of what you believe.

If you really think that it's reasonable and even biblical to dismiss as inaccurate and ahistorical the Bible's account of the Passover, I can't imagine why you would be so evasive about it.

It's almost as if you're embarassed about the incongruity between your stated love for the Bible and your obvious contempt for much of its contents.

But there I go again with my hunches and megalomaniacal presumption.

If anyone ever questions the maturity of your Christian walk or your deep, abiding admiration for the Bible, you just go ahead and tell 'em exactly what you think of the Bible's account of the Passover.

That'll set him straight.

I'll see you around. If you ever do get to explaining your apparent position that belief in a physical and historical Resurrection is optional, that would be great.

But, either way, don't ever change.

If there's one thing we can learn from your enlightened understanding of Exodus, it's that God really doesn't react strongly to willful rebellion against Him, so you have nothing to lose in keepin' on, keepin' on.

Marshall Art said...


Y'know the one thing that stands out for me is this notion that the harsh stuff of God doesn't square with the rest of the Bible. One could turn that around and say that all the loving stuff doesn't square with the rest of what the Bible says about God, that he's a vengeful, wrathful God.

The problem is that if we eliminate either, we reduce our understanding of the nature of God as described in the entire Bible. And this flies in the face of your statements regarding the "Truths" of the Bible. You're erasing the truth about God's wrath and anger, which is the reason we need a savior in the first place. So exactly what do we need a savior for if not to save us from God's wrath? His wrath will mean hell for some. Is that more or less harsh than being drowned in a flood, made to die by an Angel of Death, or slaughtered by Israelites? If God's nature isn't such that his anger would result in the total destruction of a city, kids and all, then how could He possibly be capable of condemning anyone to eternal suffering, whatever that might mean? Your position plays games with the very idea of God's Justice and Mercy. This isn't a hunch. It's an accurate interpretation of your position.