Writers should be Cultural Appropriating all the Awesome Stuff

So “Cultural Appropriation” for writers has been in the news again lately.

First there was this dim bulb having a freak out because the keynote speaker at a writing conference dared talk about how silly the concept of Cultural Appropriation is. This is an incredibly boring and long winded freak out. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/10/as-lionel-shriver-made-light-of-identity-i-had-no-choice-but-to-walk-out-on-her

(the best part is how she got up and walked away from this dangerous offensive badthink talk AND ALL EYES WERE UPON HER JUDGING HER BY THEIR CULTURAL NORMS! When in reality most folks probably just thought she needed to use the toilet or something)

And here is the actual keynote speech which caused all that outrage: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/13/lionel-shrivers-full-speech-i-hope-the-concept-of-cultural-appropriation-is-a-passing-fad

You should read this. She makes some excellent points. This is coming from the Literati side of the writing world, but it is just as bad over in the exploding space ships and magic elves section of the book store.

I’ve talked about Cultural Appropriation before, and why it is one of the most appallingly stupid ideas every foisted on the gullible in general, and even worse when used as a bludgeon against fiction authors.

First off, what is “Cultural Appropriation”?  From the linked talk:

The author of Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law, Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University who for the record is white, defines cultural appropriation as “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorised use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”

The part that got left out of that definition is that engaging in Cultural Appropriation is a grievous mortal sin that self-righteous busy bodies can then use to shame anyone they don’t like.

Look at that definition. Basically anything you use that comes from another culture is stealing. That is so patently absurd right out the gate that it is laughable. Anybody who has two working brain cells to rub together, who hasn’t been fully indoctrinated in the cult of social justice immediately realizes that sounds like utter bullshit.

If you know anything about the history of the world, you would know that it has been one long session of borrowing and stealing ideas from other people, going back to the dawn of civilization. Man, that cuneiform thing is pretty sweet. I’m going to steal writing. NOT OKAY! CULTURAL APPROPRIATION!

Everything was invented by somebody, and if it was awesome, it got used by somebody else. At some point in time thousands of years ago some sharp dude got sick of girding up his loins and invented pants. We’re all stealing from that guy. Damn you racists and your slacks.

This is especially silly when white guilt liberals try to enforce it on Americans, the ultimate crossroads of the world, melting pot country where hundreds of cultures have been smooshed together for a couple hundred years, using each other’s cool stuff and making it better.

This weekend I painted miniatures for a war game from Spain, played a video game from Belarus, listened to rap music from a white guy from Detroit, watched a cop show from Britain, had Thai food for lunch, and snacked on tikki masala potato chips, while one daughter streamed K dramas, another read manga, and my sons played with Legos invented in Denmark.

A life without Cultural Appropriation would be so incredibly boring.

And most of you missed the really insidious part of that that academic, all-consuming definition. Without Permission… Think about that. So how does that work exactly? Who do you ask? Sure, these new Lays Tikki Masala chips are delicious, but are they problematic? Who is the head Indian I’m supposed to get permission from? Did you guys like appoint somebody, or is it an elected position, or what? Or should I just assume that Lays talked to that guy already for me? Or can any regular person from India be offended on behalf of a billon people?

This is all very confusing.

But hang on… India owes me. That’s right. Because vindaloo is a popular Indian dish, but wait! It was actually Culturally Appropriated from the Portuguese hundreds of years ago. I’m Portuguese! I didn’t give them permission to steal the food of my people!

So we will call it even on these chips.

And don’t get me started on Thai food, because the Portuguese introduced the chili pepper to Thailand. YOU ARE WELCOME, WORLD!

Some angry SJW recently assaulted a white kid with dreadlocks for Cultural Appropriation. Sure, he looks like a hippy doofus, but dozens of cultures, including a bunch from Europe have worn dreads. There are only so many ways you can grow hair. So half the time the when the Cultural Appropriation police freak out about something, they’re just being ignorant anyway.

SJWs got up in arms about white people wearing kimonos. That’s racist! But apparently they didn’t check to see if the Chief Japanese Guy had given permission first, because all of the Japanese kimono makers were like “Whoa, hold on there! These are just clothes. We like selling them to people. That’s how we live.” They tried the same thing with tacos, because eating tacos was racist. Which came as shock to all the Mexicans who sell tacos for a living (because tacos are proof God loves us and wants us to be happy) but shut up, actual people with skin in the game, SJWs are speaking for you now!

I think those misunderstandings illustrate the importance of a culture appointing one particular person for us to ask permission from, because otherwise you could have a culture with millions of people in it, and anything is bound to offend somebody… Tread carefully, or I’ll demand vindaloo back.

But how does this relate to writing fiction?

Basically there are a group self-appointed thought police who are just looking for a reason to bitch at authors, and scaring people into falling in line makes them feel important. They use Cultural Appropriation like a hammer to bash authors. In reality these people are basically useless, and can be ignored (or better, mocked) but many authors don’t realize that or they don’t like confrontation. So they self-censor and stifle their creativity to avoid giving offense.

Except you can’t avoid offending the perpetually offended.

Check out that first link if you want to get a good look into the culture warriors’ mindset. They’ve got this weird belief that if you tell a story about Person X, then you are robbing a real life Person X of their ability to tell that story. Like if a white guy tells a story about a teenage Nigerian girl, then a teenage Nigerian girl can no longer tell her story. Okay… Is there like a secret checklist at publishing houses I don’t know about? Sorry, Abegunde, this story is awesome, but we’ve already reached our quota on Nigerian YA for the year.

(Luckily for her, Abegunde can just go indy now!)

In the world of fiction, the SJW is constantly perched, like a falcon, ready to swoop in and shriek Cultural Appropriation at any author who dares transgress. So if you write about another culture you don’t belong to, and they don’t like you for some reason, they’re going to flip out. They’ll probably write mean reviews, form an angry twitter mob of rainbow haired Trigglypuffs, and call you names.

Ignore them. Or better, if you have the mindset and a career capable of withstanding their slander, mock them for their bullying stupidity. Bullies hate being laughed at.

If writers were limited to writing about people just like themselves, fiction would be incredibly boring. We are professional liars. Our job is to make up entertaining stuff. If we were that limited fiction would get really lame, really fast, because most authors are actually pretty dull. Sure, we write about heroic people in interesting situations, but most of us spend our days sitting in a chair in front of a keyboard, eating chips, and that’s boring as shit to read about.

Now, if you’re going to write about another culture, then you need to do your homework and try to make that as real and interesting as possible. But screwing that up doesn’t make you racist. It just makes you a bad writer. Get good, scrub. This doesn’t just apply to writing real cultures either. It is a question of basic world building. If you build an interesting culture that makes sense to the reader and feels real, score. You did your job.

Characters are the same. Liven your characters up. Give them likes and dislikes, give them traits, give them opinions, beliefs, hobbies, whatever. Make them people.  Make them interesting. That’s what really matters.

This whole bullshit about how an author has to “respect” a character if they’re a different culture… Bullshit. That character works for me. That character is going to fill whatever roll in the story I created that character to fill. Every culture has heroes, villains, victims, geniuses, morons, saints, and clowns.

If you’re not part of the cool kids crowd, and you write about a member of a “marginalized group” then they expect you to treat that character like an absolute saint, because otherwise the SJWs will swoop in to screech at you. This is why if you write a female character who is flawed somehow, somebody is going to accuse you of misogyny. Get used to it. The other option is perfect characters, and perfect characters are boring.

The key is writing good characters, period. Getting hung up on an artificial checklist is just bullshit. Make your characters interesting and give them an interesting story, entertain your readers, then laugh at the inevitable haters who are too hung up on minutia and agonizing over rules to create any art themselves.

Notice that this Cultural Appropriation thing only ever goes one way. Take for example a prog author who has never touched a gun, but apparently it is okay for them to write the gun culture. Usually as illiterate redneck Bubbas out murdering school children. Totally legit. Or take a goodthink peacenik author who has never served a day in the military, and they can write their blood thirsty, ticking time bombs of PTSD addled murder rage, and that’s perfectly cool. Christians? All up in your literature, as long as they are bad guys.

We don’t hate characters like that because they are appropriating our culture. We hate them because they are lame, boring stereotypes written out of obvious lazy ignorance. Quit sucking and you’ll sell more books.

Look, if you’re an aspiring author and this Cultural Appropriation nonsense has scared you away from writing what you want to write, you’ve bought into their con. Screw that. Write what you want to write. Because here is the ugly secret, no matter what you do, if they don’t like you or they get a bug up their ass about you, they’re going to attack you somehow anyway.

So you don’t write about any other cultures other than the one you come from because you are scared you’ll be committing Cultural Appropriation?  Okay. But then they can attack you for your lack of “diversity”. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

See? It’s a con game. The only way to win is to not play at all. Write what you want. Write what you think is awesome. Don’t let bullies scare you.

The sad truth is that what you actually put in the book is for the most part irrelevant to these people, because they’re just going to make up bullshit about it anyway. They don’t actually read much. See the talk above where the Fat Advocates were yelling at the skinny author and refusing to read her books, even though she was on their side. It came as a surprise to me and my readers when we were informed all my books were Manly White Men Having Manly White Adventure.

These critics don’t actually give a shit about anyone they claim to speak for. They’re not defending any underdogs. It is just a perpetual game of gotcha. They’re looking for reasons to be offended, because their culture equates being offended with being good. It’s all virtue signaling and posturing. And half the time they’re so damned ignorant they’re not even fluffing their feathers in the right direction.

For example, I wrote Son of the Black Sword. It is set in a fantasy world where the culture is based in large part on India and southeast Asia. I got one review from a culture warrior (on GoodReads obviously) where I was attacked because of my horrific stereotypes of Asians, and how I was so lazy that I didn’t even bother to do any research at all about different Asian cultures, because at the beginning I had some of the characters eating rice balls! And rice balls aren’t even Indian food!

Hmmm…. https://www.google.com/search?q=indian+rice+balls&biw=1366&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj6pbChnY3PAhXBOj4KHUgJANcQ_AUIBigB

Disregarding that rather delicious looking Google image search, and the fact that in real life everybody who can grow rice figured out some way to squish it into a convenient clump, who is to say that the people of Lok didn’t culturally appropriate rice balls from somebody else before the rain of demons? It is after all, an imaginary place.

If I listened to these mopes, I never would have been able to write about Iron Guard Toru wearing samurai power armor bashing ninjas with a tetsubo, and that would make the world a much sadder place.

Cultural Appropriation is stupid when applied to the real world, and it becomes even dumber when they try to apply it to made-up worlds. If SJWs had their way we wouldn’t be able to write about somebody who looks slightly different than we do, how the hell do they expect us to write from the perspective of space aliens?

Cultural Appropriation is the stupidest argument ever.


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350 thoughts on “Writers should be Cultural Appropriating all the Awesome Stuff”

    1. It’s certainly the reason so many protagonists in literary fiction are middle-aged academics who cheat on their wives.

        1. But it is why they found it so easy to declare the rules. Having no ability to go beyond their present setting, it’s not a restriction on them.

  1. Don’t forget the catch 22, Larry–if you don’t write a sufficiently diverse and representative cast in the story, you’re also Hitler.

    1. He did mention that, about half way down the article, in the paragraph starting with “So you don’t write about […]”.

  2. Second point:

    “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorised use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”

    Who, exactly, has the authority to grant this permission? Who speaks for an entire culture, as if they’re a monolithic bloc who all hold the same opinions based on their backgrounds and ethnicity?

    That presumption is incredibly racist, yet it’s how the left sees the world sometimes: not as individuals, but as groups, who have attributes assigned to them based on their group identity.

    I guess you should have consulted the Speaker For the Roma, the one individual chosen by the Romany peoples to speak for them, before creating Lorenzo. Damn it, Larry.

    1. Since my ancestors came out of Africa a hundred thousand years or so ago, damned near everyone on the planet is a relation of mine to some tiny extent.

      I give everyone permission to use my cultures to create interesting things.

      Except SJWs. They are appropriating my culture whenever they use any form of writing to communicate, and I require them to stop. They may bark incoherently, if they wish. I’ll allow that.

    2. That’s the deeply depressing part of the whole thing. The assumption, as far as I can tell, isn’t that there is one person to speak for an entire culture. It’s far worse.

      The working idea is that if ANYONE with a claim to that culture is or would be upset by whatever you’ve said or done, then you’ve transgressed.

      Doubly helpful because all you have to do is imagine a person who would be offended, and you don’t even have to check with anyone!

    3. Maybe there should be a movement to enforce a total non-cultural appropriation life style on those who whine about cultural appropriation.

      A reserve could be established where they can spend the remainder of their lives trying to chase down their food and kill it with a rock or pointy stick, live in mud huts and cloth themselves in whatever skins they can tug off of dead critters.

      I’m sure anthropologists and various branches of the psycho industry would appreciate such a situation for them to study, long term.

    4. Okay, I give you guys the permission to use a sauna, dive naked into freezing water in winter when you get out of said sauna (remember to cut the hole in ice first, diving head first into ice is not recommended) or roll in snow if swimming does not interest you, drink Koskenkorva, use a puukko and swear in Finnish. Since I am a certified Finn, birth certificate, passport and all, I can undoubtedly do that. 🙂

  3. I think it’s funny to see you and Moshe Feder (who’s clearly liberal) making similar points. You’re both right that the good parts of any culture should be appropriated by any other culture that wants! I think the universally acknowledged problem is that there are certainly people who depict a culture poorly and deserve to be mocked for it.

    I also think that everyone, including the SJWs, should be allowed to express that mockery. If you don’t like something, by all means write or talk or make signs about how you don’t like it. Or, even better, write a culture in a way you perceive as more accurate. The better we can learn about each other’s cultures (even fictional ones) the more opportunity we all have to pick up the best bits and stick them in our own personal traditions.

    1. Moshe is mostly wrong, but occasionally gets something right. But don’t worry. One of social justice authors will be along shorty to browbeat him back into submission.

      1. Well, it’s just one more proof that there are decent human beings anywhere. And I’ve been pretty impressed with his commitment to free speech, despite some pretty heated responses from his fellow liberals.

        1. Anyone arguing against free speech isn’t liberal. There’s just no stretching that word that far. I’m not sure what they are, other than, you know, the “f” word, but that tends to be taken poorly if you use it.

          1. True. It’s just a question of where it’s appropriate. Are you obligated to allow perfectly free speech within your home? Your business? The comments of your own Facebook posts? The point Moshe seems to make is that a place like Worldcon is closer to a public venue than private since it represents a collection of fans, so more freedom should be allowed. His opponents argue that it’s a private entity with the responsibility to restrict speech to maximize the number of people who can attend without encountering undue offense.

            Personally, I think Moshe is right on that one, but it’s worth noting that they’re disagreeing despite sharing a political philosophy. He has impressed me with his willingness to publicly step away from his usual companions on this issue.

          2. My favorite part of that “discussion” was when the rich white suburbanite girl explained to two Jewish men and a Samoan woman how she is the speaker for the “marginalized”. 🙂

          3. The maximum number of people with the least undue offense, however, is solved by simple appeal to good manners and restricting a very narrow range of subjects, none of which are “science” or “fiction”.

            Don’t be a dick to people of faith… *any* faith.

            Don’t bring up current politics.

            Neither rule is bothered with by the language police who are desperate that no one discuss differences of opinion about what makes for a vibrant and “dangerous” literary field.

          4. No they are Progressive and we need to remember that the Progressive movement in America at the beginning of the 20th Century was the US version of Fascism

          5. By “US version of Fascism” you mean the American “progressives” and the European “fascists” traded love-letters and ideas.

        2. I think Moshe is Old Liberal, who needed and wanted free speech in order to spread thier subversion. The New Leftists are Morlocks, post human, and hate free speech, because it allows their foes, the free men, to answer insolently.
          Moshe is behind the times by 3 decades. He does not realize that the Left has been consumed by the Alt Left.

          1. I’m behind the times by at least a century on some subjects, and I’m fine with that. “New” is not the same as “improved” after all. I only ask that we don’t enforce double standards.

          2. JCW wrote, “Moshe is behind the times by 3 decades. ”

            He’s 3 decades behind but you’re labeling opponents with a word from a novel published 121 years ago? Fascinating.

          3. “He’s 3 decades behind but you’re labeling opponents with a word from a novel published 121 years ago? Fascinating.”

            And just about every word you used to write that was coined somewhere between 250 and 750 years ago. So what?

          4. How the hell is that “fascinating”? A word came from somewhere a long time ago? No kidding. So did every other thing you typed there. Sarcasm fail.

          5. The original free speech was only in regards to citizens voicing issues to and/or about the gov.

            As proof, I offer the fact that duels fought over verbal insults after the Bill of Rights was passed but before the progs put the kank on the practice.

          6. As proof, I offer the fact that duels fought over verbal insults

            “Congress shall make no law…” Freedom of speech is about preventing government from restricting your speech. It has never been about the claim that private individuals might take exception to what was said.

          7. @TheWriterInBlack:

            Exactly. But, it’s been morphed into what it is said to mean today and that wasn’t at all on accident.

            The current version of “freedom of speech” is meant only and solely to quash any and all attempts to fight back against the domestic enemy by means other than direct violence. This is because the idiots believe they have the only cadre capable and willing to do that violence.

            It’s been twisted and abused in its meaning in much the same way that militant atheists have twisted and abused the concept of “separation of church and state” and for exactly the same destructionist reasons.

          8. Some thing this “free speech” thing is like a game show buzzer. The first one to speak shuts out everyone else.

            That’s not how it works. You can speak your mind. And so can I, even if I disagree. And if I decide not to give you my money (for whatever product and service you are offering) because I just cannot abide the position you espouse? Well, that, too, is my right. And vice versa.

            People keep forgetting that rights work both, indeed all, ways.

      2. That happened about 12 hours ago. The writers conference went into pearl clutching mode after the speech. Post supplied by one of Moshes followers.

    2. Yeah, Moshe has been making sense lately. I know that doesn’t excuse what he said about us, but maybe he’s starting to see things differently.

      1. My impression is that he’s simply a complex human like most of us. Just because he agrees with the left on so many issues doesn’t mean he is in lockstep with them.

        I don’t think he sees things differently than he used to so much as he’s not afraid to express his difference from them on the issue of the day. It’s a rather refreshing difference from so many on all sides who simply spout the rhetoric generated by a few leaders.

        1. I’m going to disagree with both of you. I think the Truesdale incident caused him to realize that some of the people on his side were, to put it mildly, delusional.
          He probably has all of the same basic philosophical beliefs, but I think he’s twigged to the fact that his “side” may not be as clean as he’d like.

          1. That’s quite possible; I don’t know him personally, so I don’t know what he’s thinking beyond his posts on Facebook. In any case, I think it’s admirable that he’s maintained his position despite disagreeing vocally with lots of his own side. He certainly hasn’t been browbeaten into submission.

        1. “I didn’t get a HARRUMPH! outta that guy!”
          “Give the Publisher HARRUMPH!”
          “You watch your ass…!”

        2. Yeah, I find it fascinating that we’ve ceded them the right to decide if we’re allowed to work for a living by using the government legal system against private companies.

          I find it even more fascinating that people don’t seem to realize that that makes what private companies are forced / choose to do by that government legal system’s penalties / incentives suitable First Amendment fodder.

  4. “Trigglypuff” – Whiny Pokémon evolved after midnight in the shadow of a special studies building cast by the full moon. Has a high-pitched shriek attack but is generally useless for fighting. Found mostly in Ivy League colleges and New York City publishing houses.

  5. Look up Bre Fauchex on Twitter, maybe give her some likes and a follow. She came under attack from the SJW thought police recently for posting a video about “diversity” in fictional characters.

    It’s the flip side of cultural appropriation, of course. Don’t write what you know, because that’s racist and erases colorful people, but you also can’t write about anyone outside your own culture, because that is cultural appropriation and also racist to colorful people.

    1. Your use of “colorful people” just made me think of something. The SJWs love to talk about “people of color” and how much better than whites they are. Except it’s kind of weird that color is only important to them when it’s skin and only in shades of brown. Because (short of highly unusual genetics) actual *color* in hair and eyes–colors other than brown/black, that is–is nearly exclusively a trait of white people. That’s why they think it’s so racist to show blonde or red hair or blue or green eyes as more beautiful (in any circumstance, when comparing any people) than brown/black hair and brown eyes.

      In other words, they should stop using “color” when referencing the kind of ethnic “diversity” that they think is good, since the ethnicity with the most color diversity is us sub-human, hatemongering whiteys.

        1. Many years ago I reduced a proto-SJ Activist to total confusion by arguing that if she was a Person of Color, then I was a Person of Pinkness. Or a Native American. Logic is such a wonderful thing. 🙂

  6. I have conflicting thoughts on this. 95% of me agrees whole heartedly, but the other 5% thinks there is a small point to be made, and that point hinges on sacred beliefs. Taking something sacred and respected from one culture and turning it into a crackerjack prize is not cool, and, really, the only leg “cultural appropriation” has to stand on. However, I think this might better fall under the “don’t be a scrub” point Larry made early on. Still, it’s a grey area where I think the rule of thumb to obey is, “Don’t be a jerky douchebag when handling the sacred beliefs of others.”

    Of course, this is the one aspect of cultural appropriation that many liberals have no problem with. Believing in made-up hoodoo? No respect needed. Ripe for the picking! That is, unless the believers are either (1) sanctified minority of the week, or (2) proficient at making bombs and not afraid to use them.

    Changing tracks, the cult of anti-appropriation is insidious and subtle, invading modern culture from the inception of formal education (Pre-K!), but then again, most liberal causes get thrown at our youngsters from the getgo. This one is especially difficult to combat, however, because it gets merged with the golden rule and common courtesy.

    1. I don’t disagree at all. I’d say this falls under the don’t be a scrub. 🙂

      For example, if you’re going to write about a religious character, you need to know enough about that character’s religion to not screw it up. Because otherwise when they’re reading that book, every reader of that religion is going to get kicked right out of the story the second you mess it up. It’ll ruin their immersion. And that’s bad writing.

        1. Oh, yes. Totally. Characters are going to get stuff wrong all the time. As the writer you just need to make sure it makes sense in character.

      1. Larry, that is so true. Some of my favorite authors have made tiny errors with Hebrew or Jewish terms and bounced right back to reality. Conversely, others, like you, have got it right and added a layer that many of your readers might not notice.

        As for “cultural appropriation ” every Christian and moslem who ever lived is guilty of it.

      2. Yeah, I completely agree in theory; but you’ve got to cut authors some slack in practice. If you write about some religion and screw it up, it doesn’t mean that you’re an evil whatever-phobic demon-person, it just means you made a mistake.

        Also, speaking as an atheist, I’d like to put forth the notion that devaluing the entire concept of “sanctity” may not be such a bad idea after all. This way, when someone draws an unflattering picture of your favorite religious figure, your response is more likely to be along the lines of “oh come on, that’s a dick move”, and less likely to be along the lines of “DIE INFIDEL DIE !”

        1. Former atheist (the non-loony, non-Bible hating kind). I believed then, and do now that the concepts of sacred and sanctity are a necessary part of (some) faiths. But sanctity in the sense of revered, holy, respected, a well of deep meaning to those who believe and hold to that faith.

          Others *will* mock that faith. Humanity is just that way, there’s always assholes somewhere. The internet just brings them closer together. A person of faith needs tough mental armor and guts to lay out their beliefs, because they will eventually be attacked for it.

          A proper response to mocking Christianity isn’t “Die, athiest, Die!” anymore than a proper response to doodling some crazy old Arab dude is “Die infidel, Die!” They might *believe* it’s proper, but we generally call those kind of folks “nutcases” and their “religions” cults.

          1. So this means that I can’t just kill people because they offend me, because I’m then culturally appropriating Muslims and Marxists?

            Darn it! There goes all my plans I had this evening!

            Come to think of it, the only cultural appropriation that would be worse than murdering people because they offend me, would be to write a fictional story from the eyes of a member of ISIS who is murdering people because they offend me. The first is merely appropriating culture, while the latter is taking the story from the person who should be telling it, and we can’t have that!

          2. Proper response by a Christian who is being mocked is to tell the individual “I’ll pray for you.” Its both what a Christian should do (along with forgiving minor slights) as well as driving the jerk crazy.

            A religious twofer.

          3. @airboy:
            I’ve always interpreted “I’ll pray for you” as the Christian version of “go fuck yourself”, since Christians are discouraged from swearing. Which is fine, IMO; this is the correct response to anyone who is proselytizing at you, be he Christian or atheist or Raelian or whatever.

          4. Thing is, “Lord, let him get his head out of his ass” is still a prayer, so take all the help you can get, I say…

          5. I’ve always believed that if your beliefs are so “sacred” that you’re not allowed to give them a good hard analysis, then you probably don’t *really* believe them. Or someone stuck them in your head and they’re so laughable that they won’t stand a stiff wind, let alone a careful analysis. If you find yourself believing two things that are incompatible, then something has got to give. You don’t have to figure it out immediately, but flag it and keep your eyes open for the answer.

            Believing incompatible things doesn’t make you “spiritual” and “virtuous,” it makes you a doublethinking patsy for whatever manipulative bastard comes along. Or as old Pappy Stalin used to call ’em, “Useful Idiots.”

            Of course, this habit of careful analysis is not taught in schools. If they did that, they wouldn’t be able to turn those promising young minds into acquiescent, pliable, good little liberal drones who will think what they are told and recoil in horror from all the Badthink out there, retreating into their safe spaces where the Bad Thoughts can’t touch them inappropriately, wallowing in willful ignorance and doubleplus goodthink for ever and ever under the beneficent gaze of Big Brother.

            Teach them HOW to think. Teach them to do it as often as they can. I’ve got no idea what they’ll ultimately decide, but I know will never be easily controlled.

          6. That’s one of the things that eventually drew me back into the faith, Tomy. Christians are curious about the world. We want to know all about creation, how it works, and wonder at the the intricacy and complexity of it. Yes, there are Christians who aren’t that curious, but by and large, I think most of us are.

            A faith that’s tested becomes stronger. If it’s never questioned, never examined, and only ever explored shallowly, it will eventually fade. That’s what makes this outsized response to scribblings and mockery, crazy. Knowing what really p*sses them off means smart folks say “ah ha. Levers.”

          7. @Dan Lane:

            Christians are curious about the world. We want to know all about creation, how it works, and wonder at the the intricacy and complexity of it.

            This is pretty much off-topic for the thread, so feel free to reply with just “STFU”, but still.

            I’m super curious: how do you reconcile that (IMO entirely reasonable) stance with things like Young-Earth Creationism, or its more modern cousin Intelligent Design, or the notion that rock music/D&D/Harry Potter/whatever are personally authored by Satan, etc. ? I am not claiming that you personally believe any of these things; however, many Christians do, and they are very fervent in their faith.

          8. The ‘rock music/D&D/etc’ is the blame of Satan is a phenomenon that I would argue isn’t limited to Christianity, but a flaw in group thinking that leads to scapegoating. Indeed, the very practice of scapegoating is what we should link that back to (though this was ancient Jewish practice).

            Scapegoating is easily observable in modern examples: GamerGate being to blame for Sad Puppies/Dragon Award wins; the ‘Right/Alt-Right’ being to blame for (insert latest crazy thing spouted by the media); the popular atheist meme that religion produces nothing good and is to blame for all the world’s ills, and of course, ‘The Patriarchy is to blame for EVERYTHING’ bullshit spouted by feminists. Heck, the whole “waaah cultural appropriation bad” is another one, really.

            It’s a weak mind’s attempt to ‘identify’ the ’cause’ of the complaint to something the person in question feels they can ‘take on and destroy’ versus actually addressing the real problems and causes, which may be much bigger and ‘not so easily solvable.’ Modern day tilting at windmills.

            The other one really doesn’t make sense to me. For my parents, when I asked them that question, they replied that the ancients may not have been very good keeping time. Also, a ‘day’ for God may not translate to ‘day’ in human perspective, and trying to envision or conceive of geologic time is really too difficult for us so we go ‘long long time ago’ and leave it at that. (Also, not supposed to take Genesis literally.)

            Heck, just look at how SJZs and a lot of people like to pretend that ‘things like writing black characters’ to use an example, ‘didn’t happen’ until THEY did it (kinda ignoring people like Mark Twain, for example) because for them, they cannot conceive of ‘the past’ – I kind of lump them together – SJZs, SCIENCE IS SETTLED-ers, Intelligent Design/Young Earth people, in terms of magic thinking.

          9. Shadowdancer: Way behind on this thread, but on the “God may not measure time the same” argument – Einstein answered that. A) If you’re an outside observer looking into the universe, how does time pass? B) If your new creation is expanding at just shy of the speed of light, how much time (relatively) does that take?

          10. “How do you reconcile [list of things associated with some Christians]?”

            Niven’s law: There is no cause so right that it won’t attract fuggheads.

            I just try to remind myself that God is far more forgiving of human frailty and error than any of us deserve.

          11. Shadowdancer has already talked about the “that music/book/whatever is of the devil!” phenomenon, so I’ll talk about the Young-Earth Creation movement.

            Most of the Young-Earth Creationists that I’ve met have the same approach that global-warming skeptics have: the more they hear someone say “The science is settled! Your beliefs are like flat-earthism!”, the more they respond, “Yeah, right. I can see this flaw, and that flaw, and that other flaw with your “settled” science. And nobody wants to actually debate me and show me the evidence, which tells me that they’re scared to debate it because their position isn’t defensible.”

            I know that there are some people who don’t call Young-Earth Creationists anti-scientific flat-earthers, but would be willing to debate them — but it’s darn few. And the more a Young-Earth believer hears insults instead of arguments, the less likely he’ll be to listen to the next guy (who might have actually had arguments).

            If you want to persuade people away from a position, you MUST stop screaming “The science is settled!” at them, and instead show them the evidence.

          12. *hand waggle* most of the young earth creationists I’ve run into (with the exception of the one I married, and an aunt who is simply the ‘I can’t get my brain around that so I’m sticking with this but I’m not getting angry about it’ category) don’t care about the evidence. They’re more like the ‘science is settled’ crowd. It’s bad enough that I watched many of their children’s faiths shatter when they hit college and were presented with actual evidence of an old earth. I spent nearly 5 years arguing with a pile of them both theologically and geologically. It seems to devolve, for them, to being too inflexible to be able to accept that THEY can be wrong about the Bible without the Bible being wrong. They think if they are wrong about the Bible, the Bible MUST be wrong and that terrifies them. It’s also rather arrogant. Fortunately they’re a minority.

            How I explain them. Every group has it’s gradiations. Most Christians are highly curious about how God did what he did. We know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, therefore we CAN figure out what he did because he’s not going to be arbitrarily changing things. There’s also the notion that the more we learn about the creation, the more we can learn about the Creator and most of us want to know more about the Creator. On the other hand, human experience and ability is varied. Some people have real issues wrapping their minds around concepts like geological time and astronomical distances. Their personal limitations will affect how they view their faith. Others are just so rigidly locked into their ways they won’t change them without direct divine intervention. Others don’t WANT to think about it because that takes effort and may beget responsibility. Christians are not immune to the desire for simple answers to complex problems.

          13. How do I reconcile that a group with billions of distinct, individual humans in it, and which has produced some of the most brilliant minds in history, also has some people who believe stupid shit? Wow. Did you just actually seriously ask that as a sincere question? 😀

          14. @Robin Munn, correia45, wyrdbard, et al:
            Again, I completely agree with the emphasis on evidence and mental flexibility… which might worry you a little bit, seeing as I’m a godless atheist 🙂 However, since we mostly agree, let me push one step further.

            How do you reconcile this curiosity about the natural world (or, if you prefer, God’s creation), and the evidence-based approach to discovery of its inner workings, with religious faith ? For example, wyrdbard brings up several ways that we can use to reconcile biology and geology with the Bible; but does that not mean that you are putting your own judgement, and the judgement of your fellow humans, above this sacred text ?

            Sure, you can call YEC’s “fuggheads” and “people who believe stupid shit”, but they think that it is you who is the fugghead, because your faith in God is so weak that it can be broken with little more than a shovel and a mass spectrometer. You might say this sounds strawmannish, but I’ve actually met people who think that, in real life; and their faith is at least as sincere as yours (as far as I can tell, anyway).

            Or, to put it in a more atheistic way: If your faith will always give way to evidence, what’s the point of faith ?

          15. Faith does not give way to evidence. Faith and evidence support one another. Science and Faith have provenance over two different areas. There are things I doubt we will ever have the tools to measure. And frankly if we do, I expect approximately 1/4 of the planet to promptly suffer fatal heart attacks from sheer terror, but that’s a side note. Perhaps a little logical exercise will help explain it.

            Premise: Humans are fallible.
            Premise: The Bible was authored by God.
            Premise: God is not insane nor a liar nor a trickster. He is honest and truthful and consistent.
            Premise: The World was authored by God.

            Conclusion: Any conflict between the Bible and the physical evidence means that the error is in the Human element. Usually in our comprehension of either the Bible or in our understanding of the evidence.

            It is premise number three that allows science, and all the evidence it provides, to exist at all. A constant, honest, God who does not mess with people for the fun of means it is possible to study the world in a consistent manner and not fear that tomorrow the rules will be different than today because someone pissed him off.

            Finally, Science and evidence govern very specific and limited things: How the world works. It addresses nothing of why. Why the world works one way and not another. It addresses nothing beyond mechanics.

          16. @wyrdbard:
            I have to admit, I find it difficult to understand your mindset — probably because I myself have never been religious, so I don’t know what that’s like.

            I totally get the parts about evidence; but you say, “any conflict between the Bible and the physical evidence means that the error is in the Human element”. But then, what is it exactly that you have faith in ? It can’t be the Bible, because it was written and interpreted by fallible humans (I totally agree on that point, BTW). It probably isn’t your pastor or archbishop or whatever, either (not sure how your denomination works), for the same reason. So, short of direct divine visitation, how do you know what to have faith in ?

            With evidence, it’s a lot easier — you just collect as much data as you can, do some math, and organize it into a framework that predicts future data correctly. You know you’ll never get it 100% right, but you also don’t need 100% certainty, so you’re good.

            Or, to push the point further: you say that science “addresses nothing beyond mechanics”; but how do you know that there is anything out there that is “beyond mechanics” ?

          17. *Long post warning*

            Bugs, when I was an atheist, my credo on that was simple: I lacked faith in any god or gods. It wasn’t that I *disbelieved,* it was that there was no faith in me that I could find for, for lack of a better term, “the supernatural.” This kind of atheist is the rarest of the rare. If you’ve read folks like Dawkins et. al., you know how there are militant atheists who really do hate religion, and especially Christian religion… with oddly religious passion.

            What does one have faith *in*? That’s getting into personal territory. Each person of faith comes to that point in their own way. Faith is not reason, or let’s say, science. Science gives no shits about what you believe. Only facts. The basics of the scientific method are create a hypothesis, then try your damnedest to tear it apart. If you can’t, you get other people to try. Does it fit with what actually occurs? Is it, in other words, *useful*? Science exists on evidence and cannot exist on faith. You don’t believe in science. You might believe other humans who are scientists who say they did the work, tested, and researched, but science itself has to have it’s roots firmly in hard, repeatable, *well tested* fact. That’s not to say hypotheses aren’t useful (quantum mechanics and so on), but until we uncover evidence, they can’t really be used for much.

            Faith isn’t like that. Faith demands trust. It is absolutely, positively essential. Not trust-but-verify. Trust. That trust is between you and God. If you believe in God, you may work through fallible intermediaries: other humans. Priests, preachers, rabbis, and so on. Other people of faith. But ultimately, faith works because you believe. Either you believe or you don’t, in my opinion. That’s one of the reasons I called myself an atheist- it would have been dishonest to call myself a Christian when I did not have faith. If God *did* exist, lying to him would have been foolish in the extreme. He’d know. Even if no one else did He would, and so would I at that point.

            Could this or that translation from Aramaic be wrong? Gotten the wrong point across? Emphasized the wrong thing? Yup. But a lot of folks like me have been believers for a long, long time. There have been many who had a lot to say about their faith. Why they believed. What made belief inescapable and the only option for them.

            But what it comes down to for me is, do you have faith? If that faith is in you, why? Who put it there? If it’s not there, it’s not there. I believe that faith is a good thing (I’m rather partial to my kind of faith). Sometimes the whole “and that’s why I believe,” current in religion (nearly all religions) rings false to me. Faith did not come to me because of anything I can tell- except God. Religion and faith are so common in human beings, I believe that is how we were intended to be all along (that’s part of my faith talking, too). From there, curiosity about creation comes. All creation, from the very stuff of life itself to mathematics, to art, even.

            Faith isn’t about *knowing,* though knowledge of creation is a wonderful thing. It’s about believing. It’s confusing because there’s a lot of talk about “knowing God,” but you can’t completely conceive of God (all those omni- words. That’s simply too much for any human to know!). Faith and belief almost require you to have no physical evidence. If you met Himself on the street and said “prove it!” and he performed a few miracles for you, you wouldn’t have *faith.* You’d know. Faith’s a completely different beast.

            Other folks will come to… “know God” in different ways. *grin* That’s fine with me. There’s dozens, if not hundreds, of official enough for government flavors of Christianity- and a few more that acknowledge God, but don’t put as much emphasis on Jesus. Most Christians will get along with most other Christians, Jews, and so on. Being Christian, I’m even fine with the (non hating) atheists. There’s no way for *me* to compel belief in anyone else.

            Sure, they might say they believe at the point of the sword. But God would know the lie. And judge both the ones holding the blade and the ones under threat accordingly. I tend to believe Himself would have a little more mercy for the folks facing the sharp end than those purporting to be spreading the gospel in His name.

          18. @Dan Lane:
            You’ve presented a good overview of what having faith feels like, and I appreciate it, but my question was actually a little more basic: what exactly do you have faith in, and what do you do when evidence appears to contradict your faith ?

            For example, imagine that you were a YEC, e.g. because you’ve never taken a science class (such people do exist). You have faith in God, and you believe that God created humans ex nihilo (or from clay or dust, perhaps), by divine fiat. Now, you decide to take a science class, and you are presented with mountains of evidence that the Earth is billions of years old an all life evolved from a common ancestor.

            What process do you use to reconcile this with your faith (*) ? I can see a few different options:
            1). You reject the evidence, and hold true to your faith.
            2). You reject those aspects of your faith that appear to contradict the evidence (young Earth, special creation), but keep others (existence of God).
            3). You try to avoid situations where you’d be exposed to such evidence in the first place.

            From what I’ve seen, many people pick (1) or (3). If you heard atheists express their dislike for the very concept of faith, this is the reason.

            If you pick (2), then you end up in a “god of the gaps” situation, where your faith keeps shrinking as you gather more evidence. There’s nothing morally or intellectually wrong with that, but then, what’s the point of having faith to begin with, if it’s just destined to shrink away into almost nothing as humanity’s knowledge grows ?

            That’s partially why I asked you what exactly it is that you have faith in. Do you just believe that some sort of a creator god exists ? Or rather, do you also believe that this god cares about humans and intervenes in our affairs ? Do you believe that he created a human avatar named Jesus who was later sacrificed in a sort of redemption ritual ? Do you believe that various specific details about Jesus’s life (and perhaps the lives of the prophets who preceded him) are historically accurate ? Do you believe that the creation story in the Old Testament is literally true ? It seems like the more evidence you gather, the more vague your faith becomes; so how do you decide where to draw the line ?

            (*) I realize that you’re not a YEC in real life, I’m just using YEC as an example.

          19. Ah, I see. The question, “what exactly do you have faith in, and what do you do when evidence appears to contradict your faith ?” has two parts. The first part involves defining God, which you will get a *lot* of different answers to. Some people will say He is the First Cause (he started everything, by extension creating everything, God was the Big Bang). Others will break it down into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And so on… unless you want *my* personal understanding of God- but that won’t help much. Everyone comes to God in different ways, so it’s like enough that everyone is going to have an idea of Him in their heads that’s slightly different.

            The latter is one that people of faith run into all the time. I can take the easy way out and say “Faith is not evidence. Faith is the absence of evidence,” but let’s break that down.

            For the YEC, they come with the handicap that they are trying to inject fact into faith. If the Bible is literal, word-for-word fact, which Bible? The King James? The Vulgate? The original gospels in their original language? Even the process of language itself is tricky- evidence trying to convince your S/O that you *weren’t* out drinking last night, you were DDing a friend and he sloshed beer on you. Or any other close personal relationship convo. Being really understood is something folks crave in a relationship. This includes their relationship with their faith, by the by.

            But say we ignore that, and the Earth is literally, what, 5,000 years old or so. Years being 365.25 days long, days being one complete sunup to sunup. That’s a belief. The problem is that belief strays into scientific territory because it can be disproven. Let me say that again, there can be evidence that proves it pretty darn likely that your belief is 100% wrong. I could believe I was an Appalachian black bear, or that I was really a girl but born with boy parts, but disproving me would be pretty easy.

            So say we ignore *that* too. Yup, there’s a lot of ignoring going on. Down to brass tacks, you have in one column articles of faith, in the other, evidence, facts, science, and suchlike.

            Faith and science can coexist beautifully, but science can’t have anything to say about faith (or it’s no longer faith, it’s knowledge), and faith can’t have anything to say about what is science fact and what is not. Your faith would have to say “I believe this, that the Earth is Young, and has only been around as long as my personal Bible says it was.” Your science would have to say “I know this, that through scientific testing, these rocks, this dirt, these ice cores, those bones, are all x,y,z years old. Older than my faith believes.”

            Reconciling those two columns ain’t going to be easy. You know this, I know this.

            Some people do separate their lives into those two columns and never let them talk to each other. Similarly, some Proggies hold both the belief that you can take lots of money from the “rich,” and they won’t pass this cost along by lowering wages, not hiring, not producing, or hiding their money somehow (in other words, there will be no consequences from belief #1), thereby making everybody the poorer for it. Or that all white people are irredeemably racist and all “African Americans” can’t be racist…

            Most Christians don’t try and make their faith into science. We know that God created Man in his image, but how did he do that? Well, evolution is as good a method as any for purposes of faith. And it has the added bonus of being backed by a lot of hard nosed scientists that tried their damnedest to disprove it, too. If you believe, you can’t know, if you know, you can’t believe (because one cancels the other). Learning about that belief is what religion and theology is all about, I believe.

            YEC is actually too easy on one hand. To look at another, how could you disprove a belief?

            Can you disprove God? Lots of philosophers attacked this problem over the years, and seem to have reasoned themselves into a sort of faith. I believe the faith was there, they were just looking for excuses. The thing about faith is it has to be outside the realm of proof and falsehood. A scientific hypotheses is, by definition, falsifiable. You could prove the theory of gravity wrong by floating around without any means of flight or electromagnetic repulsion (or floating on water). Once again, a scientific hypothesis, or fact, *must* have conditions wherein it can be proven false.

            The YEC issue fails because it incorporates beliefs that tread too closely on science. Can the existence of a soul be disproven? What does a soul weigh? Is it quantifiable? If it is, it is no longer a belief, but a scientific fact. Once you have facts, your belief is on very shaky ground.

            Articles of faith, generally, are as strong as the belief within a person. The strength of that belief can lead to acts which *are* scientifically quantifiable, but the acts are not the belief, even though they are inspired by that belief. Belief happens inside a person’s soul- or in their brain if you believe that faith has no supernatural (spiritual) component. But there’s a belief *there* too.

            If you believe there is no soul, you can neither prove nor disprove this (souls are not quantifiable). So the strength of that belief is what drives whatever acts result from it. Faith is not quantifiable, either. It just is. This leads to your latter question, that being what’s the point of faith anyway, if facts destroy faith?

            Faith is there because it is there. You can say that faith therefore has no point- but faith involves that point within it. If you believe, then what do you believe? In God? Who’s this God fellow, and what does he want with *me*? Therein lies the first steps, where you look for what your faith is. Do you believe in purple people eaters? A Young Earth? That Surtr will cover the Earth in fire, causing the world to burn?

            The point of faith might be being honest with yourself (at least a part of it). If you believe, there are consequences. If you do not believe, same. Facts only destroy things which might be called faith, might be very strongly believed in, but which are articles which strayed from faith (which is in the soul- or the brain, again), and into the world. Faith at this point is like love, hate, courage, cowardice, determination, and fecklessness. You can quantify the chemical reactions in the brain, but those chemical reactions and neuron firings cause acts in the world that we can see. Faith is therefore both something inside (within the soul) and outside- the outer manifestations of faith are called by the same word, but are not definitively what exists within.

            So your YEC has some pretty severe handicaps, trying to bring his faith (inside) into the world (outside), when the latter contradicts with things that are quantifiable. Yet his faith (inside) isn’t something we can quantify. Just the effects in the outside world. Put it another way, faith is as real as you are- but that “you” is the concept you alone know and feel in the privacy of your own head.

            That may not answer the question as you might wish it, but it is the best this fallible human can come up with at the moment. There are wiser minds than mine out there. You may get greater understanding from them than I can provide.

          20. @Dan Lane:
            I like the way you put it:

            Facts only destroy things which might be called faith, might be very strongly believed in, but which are articles which strayed from faith…

            The problem is that we don’t always have all the facts. For example, at some point in the past, Young Earth Creationism wasn’t as outlandish as it is today. We simply didn’t have any reliable data on the age of the Earth, and we certainly didn’t know how evolution worked (until a certain monk took a few steps on that path, at least). At that time, believing that God created humans ex nihilo would’ve been a reasonable position.

            Issac Newton discovered gravitation, but even for him, the formation of stars and planets was a matter of faith; today, we have made great strides in understanding how those mechanisms truly function.

            So, could there be any aspects of your faith as it exists today, which will give way before facts in the future ? Statistically speaking, the answer is probably “yes”, given science’s track record so far. Hence my YEC example — obviously, you’re not a YEC, but you are likely to be in a similar position, philosophically speaking. If your faith is destined to always give way before facts, then what’s the point ?

            One alternative that many people (though possibly not you) choose to take is to declare that certain things — the specific items depend on their individual beliefs — are just unknowable and beyound human understanding. I believe that doing so is harmful in the long term, and I’ll address it in my next post.

          21. Bugmaster –

            Caution: this post is LONG: about 2,000 words.

            You asked “What do you have faith IN? How do you know?” As Dan said, the answer will be subtly different for each Christian (though coming to the same answer in the end via different paths), because everyone is different. But I can tell you my path.

            I started out, as just about every child does, just believing what my parents told me about the world. They said that rainbows come from sunlight being refracted in rain, so that’s what I believed. If they had said that rainbows exist because leprechauns create them as a way to remember where they hid their gold, I would have believed that, too. But around the time I went to college, I started questioning why I believed things. It’s not enough to believe in something just because my parents told me it was true, I realized. I know my parents’ character, so I know they would not have lied to me — but they could be sincerely mistaken. So do I really believe in the teachings of Christianity? Can I really rely on the Bible? Did Jesus Christ really rise from the dead?

            I looked into the evidence for those questions, especially the last two. First, the Bible: I hadn’t studied textual analysis, but the Bible professors at my school had (I went to Wheaton College, which is a Christian college). They were quite happy to explain the evidence to me (analysis of ancient manuscripts, and so on), and I understood enough to know that yes, the Bible as we have it now is pretty much the way the original authors wrote it down, give or take the occasional disputed word. (Hebrew was written without vowels, so there are some places where the footnotes say “An alternate reading of this line could be ______.”) They also explained the evidence that the dates generally attributed to the text were pretty much accurate — e.g., the Gospels that tell about the life of Jesus were written around 60-65 A.D., about thirty years after Jesus’ death. And again, I understood enough of the evidence to be able to accept it as valid proof. All that doesn’t prove that the Bible is the Word of God, of course, but it does prove that I can rely on the Bible text to accurately communicate what the original authors intended it to communicate. So okay, that means I can read the Bible and draw my own conclusions — but when it reports historical events (like, say, Jesus’ death) I can be pretty safe in assuming that they’re correct. It’s only the miraculous parts that I need to doubt in order to not argue in a circle (e.g., if I’m trying to find evidence that Jesus rose from the dead, I shouldn’t start by assuming that the Bible accurately describes his rising from the dead, otherwise I’ve begged the question.)

            So then I looked at whether Jesus rose from the dead. I started with the following five premises, which are not in dispute among most honest people:

            1) There was a historical man named Jesus of Nazareth, who did live when and where people say that he lived.
            2) He preached radical new ideas and gathered many followers.
            3) The religious authorities of his day didn’t like him or his ideas, and in order to try to suppress those ideas they got the Romans to execute him.
            4) A short time after that happened, his followers started claiming that he had risen from the dead, and was actually God Himself in the form of a man.
            5) Despite continued attempts at suppressing this idea (e.g., Nero’s killing of Christians by the thousands, and so on), the idea spread widely and is still held to this day by millions (bordering on billions) of people.

            From there, I followed the following logic (I’ll try to compress it, because this will be too long if I don’t, but if I make it too compressed and leave something out, please ask me and I’ll try to explain the thing that I accidentally left out).

            A. The religious authorities and the Roman government knew where Jesus’ body had been buried. His was a public execution, not a random mugging in an alley. The Bible mentions that the Jewish authorities had guards posted on the tomb because they didn’t want Jesus’ disciples to steal the body and claim that Jesus had been resurrected. But even if you find that passage suspiciously self-serving, it still makes sense that the Jewish and Roman authorities would know where such a noteworthy man had been buried, given their specific interest in his being known to be dead.

            B. The disciples claimed that Jesus had risen from the dead, and LOTS of people believed them. If Jesus’ body was still in the tomb, the easiest way in the world to disprove the disciples’ claims would have been to go get the body; if that had happened, a few people would still have believed (“it’s a conspiracy! They got a different body and are passing it off as Jesus’ body!”) but there certainly wouldn’t have been the widespread acceptance of the idea: most people aren’t going to believe you when you say “My friend rose from the dead! Ignore his dead body over there, he really did rise from the dead!” Since lots of people believed in the resurrection message, we have to conclude that the authorities never presented Jesus’ body as counter-evidence.

            C. The authorities knew where Jesus’ body was to be found, yet they never went to the tomb and opened it up to disprove this story that they really wanted to disprove. Conclusion: Jesus’ body was no longer in the tomb. And now we have a mystery: The Case of the Missing Body.

            D. The most likely suspect is, of course, Jesus’ disciples themselves. But here’s the thing. ALL of them were killed for their beliefs, usually under torture — with the sole exception of John, who was merely exiled and died of old age. If Jesus’ disciples had stoled his body, wouldn’t at least one of them have ‘fessed up at some point, to save themselves torture? At that point they would have had nothing to gain. People often break under torture, and those who don’t break usually don’t break because they have something to gain from not breaking, even if what they gain is only protecting their fellow resistance-cell members from capture. And while many people are quite willing to die for their beliefs, how many people are willing to die for something that they KNOW to be a lie? That last runs completely counter to human nature. And if the disciples had confessed to stealing the body, do you the Roman government, that was trying SO hard to suppress Christianity (at the time; this was a couple hundred years before Constantine) wouldn’t have spread the word far and wide? And even if a lot of Christians might have refused to take the Roman government’s word for it, the fact that someone had recanted would have been known: historians hostile to Christianity would certainly have mentioned it. Nobody did; therefore, we can conclude that no disciples ever admitted to having stolen Jesus’ body, even when they were would have been released from torture for such an admission. Therefore, we can safely conclude that the disciples didn’t steal the body.

            E. So if the disciples didn’t steal the body, who did? Clearly not the Jewish and Roman authorities — if they had removed Jesus’ body from the tomb (presumably as an attempt to prevent the disciples from stealing it — you can’t steal something if you don’t know where to find it), then they would have just presented the body as evidence, as I mentioned in point B. This set of suspects is easy to dismiss.

            F. Could some random grave-robber have stolen it? Now we’re getting into real conspiracy-theory ground here; I can’t believe that. For one thing, WHY? In those days, some people did rob graves for loot (gold or jewels buried with a rich man or a king, or even just fancy clothing), but nobody stole bodies. (Body-stealing didn’t come along until medicine started wanting to dissect dead people to learn about anatomy, and that wasn’t the case in the 1st century AD). And even if someone wanted to steal a body for some bizarre reason, THAT body wasn’t a safe target. He had many disciples, and any thief would have to know that those disciples would be making visits to the tomb to say their good-byes, and later that it would become a religious pilgrimage. (It did, too — lots of people go visit the empty tomb that is believed to have been the tomb where Jesus was buried). So no thief is going to want to risk stealing THIS body when there’s going to be lots of people around to witness the theft — and these would all be people who would be seriously pissed-off with someone trying to steal the body of their beloved Teacher. No, we can rule out random grave-robbing too.

            G. So we’ve concluded that the body was not in the tomb, but the disciples didn’t steal it, the religious authorities didn’t steal it, and nobody else stole it either. So what are we left with? The only possibility that’s left, as improbable as it seems on its face, must be the truth — that Jesus’ body was missing because he actually rose from the dead and walked out of that tomb on his own two feet.

            H. While Jesus was alive, he made two claims, both of which seem to be ridiculous at face value. He claimed to be God, and he claimed that he would be killed and then rise again. But the latter claim, as ridiculous as it sounds, actually happened. So now we have to take a real hard look at the former claim as well.

            So there you go. When I was questioning my faith in college, I worked through the logic chain above and came to the conclusion that there is only one reasonable answer: that Jesus really did rise from the dead. And no human being can accomplish that on their own, so I have to also believe His claim to be God. (Notice that now I’ve started capitalizing pronouns that refer to Jesus, because I’ve accepted the idea that He is indeed God). The rest of the teachings of Christianity, I might have some questions about (indeed, there is at least one minor point where I’ve come to the opposite conclusion from what my parents believe, but I won’t get into that now). But the central core claim of Christianity — that Jesus was raised from the dead and that He is God — I now accepted as fact, based on the available evidence.

            And therefore, my faith should really be described as “trust” rather than “faith”. For most people, the word “faith” conjures up a vague, cloudy image of believing in… something not very well specified. But for me, it’s trust, in a specific person. Just like if my best friend tells me something, I believe him because I know he wouldn’t lie to me, if Jesus tells me something, I believe Him because I know He wouldn’t lie to me. (And, unlike my best friend, He also wouldn’t be mistaken.) How I took that cornerstone and rebuilt my faith on top of it would be another LONG post, and this one is long enough already, so I’ll leave it at that.

            So to answer your question, Bugmaster: my faith is in the person of Jesus Christ, and I can believe in Him because I have figured out (from logic and evidence) that He really did rise from the dead, and therefore I can reach no other conclusion than that He was telling the truth when He claimed to be God.

          22. @Dan Lane:
            I should add, I’m definitely one of those hostile atheists that you dislike so much 🙂 More specifically, when I see what religions are doing in the name of their faith — like, for example, murdering gay people in Uganda, or mandating Creationism in schools, or whatever — I get pretty hostile. And don’t even get me started on Muslims. I fully understand that not all Christians (or Muslims or whatever) are like that, and I don’t hate individual theists just for being religious. However, I do think that the concept of faith makes those kinds of abuses a lot easier to perpetrate, while slowing down the scientific and technological development of humanity as a whole.

            That is not to say that religions are only responsible for the bad stuff — far from it ! — I just think that, over a very long timespan, the bad stuff outweighs the good.

          23. That’s hard to quantify, the bad outweighing the good. Take religious wars. Is every man-jack of them going and putting the other guy to the sword because God said so, or because he’s getting paid for it? If it’s that one guy at the top believes, and hired all the other guys to do the stabbing, those other guys don’t count as because religion, they’re mercenaries. You have socialists with millions and billions of deaths at their feet- religious wars over a thousand year period might get close, but starvation and plague partnered with industrial murdering are probably going to edge ’em out over the short bit less than two hundred year span they’ve been around is my guess.

            And there’s the millions of lives saved through charity, which nobody can quantify because it’s so bloody pervasive. Christians are just about everywhere (North Korea would be a toughie to get a Christian missionary into, but there’s probably folks working on it or trying to do it as we speak). Christian values of hard work, ethical dealings, and fellowship have more than likely (ask a historian) kept wars from *happening,* too.

            Even if it were an option, outlawing faith just won’t work. Again, belief is nearly universal. It might as well be the default position- believe *something.* Over a very long timespan, religion was the popular excuse* for war, but less often the reason.

            Did Rome steamroll Carthage because the latter were godless heathens? It’s more likely they did because Carthage was a serious maritime competitor (they saw this in their cooperative campaigns against piracy), and stamping them out let Rome rule the seas. How about the Eighty Years War, or the even the Crusades? Look beyond the excuses, you’ll find much more pragmatic reasons abound.

          24. @Dan Lane:
            Oh, I should mention one thing (in light of my previous reply): I am 100% against “outlawing faith”. I would be 200% against it if I could. I firmly believe that bad ideas — that is to say, ideas that I personally consider to be detrimental — must be debated and discredited, not suppressed.

            This is why I could never be an SJW, and this is why I am a strong supporter of religious freedom — with the caveat that one does not get to push one’s religion on anyone else. To use a crude example, if your religion tells you that gay people can’t be married or that drawing the Prophet Muhammed is a sin, that’s fine; and you are entitled to that belief… but that doesn’t mean that you can stop gay people from marrying, or stop artists from drawing your Prophet, should they choose to do so.

            Oh, and when I say “discredited”, I don’t mean “made socially unfashionable”, but rather, “demonstrated to be false”. In fact, this applies to all ideas, good or bad, including my own. If I believe in things that I false, I want to know that so I can change my beliefs; and I can’t do that when all dissent is suppressed by the morality police.

          25. Bugmaster, though Dan already addressed it, I (an agnostic, borderline atheist) bristle at the proposition that “religions” are responsible for more bad than good. This tends to lump all religions together, which misrepresents large numbers of people and ignores readily available historical data.

            Christianity’s inherent pacifism (not to mention the Eastern religions) stands in stark contrast to Islam’s inherent aggression. Tally up the dead from so-called Christian wars and they’re only a small fraction of those from secular conflicts and internal massacres of the 20th century alone.

            Head downtown to almost every major and midsized city in the US and compare how many atheist versus Christian hospitals there are. Do you think atheists are competitive in charitable work and donations?

            I’m honestly curious as to what metric you’re using to arrive at your conclusion that religions are a societal negative on the whole.

          26. Bugs, if you’re going to lay the blame of body counts and abuses on religious folk, kindly take responsibility for Marxism and Communism and it’s atheist ability to murder a hundreds of millions. Also, take responsibility for a philosophy to bring about the same kind of abuses and slowdown of human development in science/tech – on a much larger scale and in a shorter period of time.

            gmmay has already pointed out the rest.

            But you’re pretty much bashing your head up against the ‘but you’re a group therefore, you suck’ false moral high ground that a lot of atheists get stuck on, complete while ignoring your own hypocrisy and feet of clay.

            Pointing out the inconsistency, my friend.

            (Interestingly, I’ve had some atheists say that ‘Marxism/Communism isn’t atheist.’ Hahahahahahahahaha. Yeah, no.)

          27. Well, I failed to mention Christian schools.

            This attitude of religion having an overall negative impact on society is rubbished by the plain fact that if you took away religiously affiliated hospitals and schools, then tens of millions would be without access to basic healthcare and education – two pillars of society that even the Left acknowledges are a necessity (though, Fen’s law may apply here).

            Of course, the Left is agitating for removal of tax exemptions for religiously based organizations, because Human Rights (or something). So it’s ok, sometimes, those villages just need to be destroyed to save them from themselves.

            Consequences – how DO they work?

          28. First, quibble: See premise two. The Bible was authored by God. Humans try to accurately understand what is contained therein with varying degrees of accuracy.

            Hebrews 11:1 explains faith more succinctly than I could. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

            What do I have faith in? That premises 2-4 are the truth. That some of those “unseen things” which are Evil will loose, indeed, have already lost but have not yet ceased to fight. That the unseen things which I have percieved, both good and ill are bound by the laws of the Creator not simply allowed to run amok. I have faith that the conclusion drawn above is accurate.

            Off line in my everyday job, I am a Geologist. I have very little trouble reconciling my faith with my work or any other science.

          29. Oh, look. Self-righteous atheist thread drift time! Yay!

            I was offline most of the weekend. Looks like a bunch of other people already wrote a book in response.

            I’m not going get all theological. All I’m going to say is that as an auditor, if you think religious folks have caused more harm than good, your bias is showing and your analysis sucks. 🙂

          30. @correia45, Shadowdancer, et al:
            Honestly, I think you are doing me a disservice by labeling me as some sort of a self-righteous fanatic; but a). that is obviously your right, and b). I understand why you might jump to that conclusion. That said though, let me clarify.

            My previous post is awaiting moderation, but my main point in there was that it’s difficult to reconcile faith and evidence. What happens when new evidence contradicts your faith ? This has happened countless times in our history, and thus it’s not an idle question. Sure, it’s easy for us (well… some of us) today to say, “YECs are just being willfully ignorant”; but before modern advances in geology and radiometric dating, there was really nothing wrong (theologically speaking) with having faith in a special creation and a young Earth. Statistically speaking, most of the things people have faith in today will likewise be contradicted by new evidence at some point in the future — so what do you do when that happens ?

            This is where the harm comes in. As far as I can tell, the very point of faith is to believe in propositions either in the total absence of evidence, or even despite contradictory evidence. This places certain aspects of the world above all scrutiny (the specific aspects depend on the specifics of the faith in question). But this creates a problem, because one’s chances of making a correct decision are heavily dependent on having an accurate model of the world. Obviously, we humans cannot ever be 100% accurate about everything; but that’s not the same thing as saying “everything is unknowable” or “reality is a social construct” (as the SJWs are wont to do).

            By preventing us from studying the world — either implicitly (by declaring parts of it to be unknowable), or explicitly (by actively rejecting new evidence) — faith reduces the rate at which we can improve the accuracy of our models, and thus makes us more likely (in the long run) to make poor decisions.

            This is absolutely not the same thing as saying, “religions are responsible for all the bloodshed in the world”, which — if you’ll forgive me for saying so — is a common anti-atheist strawman. That said, any philosophy that discourages people from questioning the statements of its leaders — be it conventional faith, or belief in the Glorious Leader, or the evils of the Patriarchy — is likely to lead to conflict. To put it crudely, it’s easy to justify violence when no one is allowed to question whether your enemy du jour are actually demonic agents of the Evil One or not. Even if we take violence off the table, declaring that the human body (or life in general) is a divine miracle is not nearly as helpful as discovering penicillin.

          31. ” As far as I can tell, the very point of faith is to believe in propositions either in the total absence of evidence, or even despite contradictory evidence.”

            Then you’re not very familiar with the concept of religious faith, or the words that people are directing to you here. The explanatory aspect of faith is but one small part or the entire concept in almost every major (and minor) religion on the planet. “The point” of faith also depends on the particular faith.

            It’s odd how you rightfully decry one common anti-theist strawman, yet offer another – that religions discourage the questioning of authority figures. That’s an easily refuted generalization. See: The New Testament.

            The irony in your response is that your criterion for judging religions to be a societal negative is based on how you feel about it, despite the substantial amount of empirical and doctrinal evidence to the contrary.

          32. faith reduces the rate at which we can improve the accuracy of our models, and thus makes us more likely (in the long run) to make poor decisions.

            This is an interesting hypothesis. However, it fails on examination.

            First, full disclosure. I am not a “person of faith”. I self-describe as an “Asatru leaning agnostic” or perhaps a “practitioner of, but not a believer in, Asatru”. If there are any gods in the Universe they have not seen fit to make themselves known to me in unequivocal terms.

            That said, religious faith has been one of the big motivators of science. Especially the Christian family of religions (again, not a believer, but credit where credit’s due). Consider, for instance Francis Bacon, who gave us the scientific method.

            Now, people like to use the example of Galileo to claim that religion was holding back scientific progress but that doesn’t hold up. It wasn’t that Galileo discovered things that violated Church doctrine that got him in trouble. It was the double whammy of making claims that exceeded his data and deliberate insult aimed at the Pope. Now, with the benefit of hindsight we know that the claims were more true th an not. And today it’s practically routine to mock religious figures and nobody thinks twice about it, but not then.

            When considering the case of Galileo, one is well advised to remember that he was a contemporary of Johannes Kepler and Francis Bacon and Tycho Brahe did his main work just a bit earlier. Brahe’s work is instructive in that while still wedded to “perfect circles” for the movement of heavenly bodies it was within a coordinate transform of matching Copernicus’s system (read an interesting bio of Copernicus once. Apparently he abandoned his solocentric model because it still required epicycles and ended up being _more_ complicated than the Ptolemaic system). Kepler was out there making the detailed quantitative measurements that revealed that planets didn’t move in circles, but in ellipses and thus put the geocentric model permanently to bed.

            It was these giants on whose shoulders Sir Isaac Newton, trained at “College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity within the Town and University of Cambridge of King Henry the Eighth’s foundation”, stood when he combined Galileo’s laws of falling bodies and Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion and discovered that they were specific instances of the same basic principle–Newton’s “Law of Universal Gravitation” and “Three Laws of Motion.”

            While there have been hiccups along the way, people of faith who interfered with scientific and engineering progress, you’ve also got the flip side–the example of Lamarkianism in the old Soviet Union.

            And, in the end, science itself is based on faith. For what else is the belief that the Universe operates on laws that at some level are consistent and immutable? Sure, it’s worked that way so far (mostly–we keep finding new realms where the old “laws” don’t work the way we thought they would). But the idea that they will continue to do so, just because they have before, is itself a matter of faith. It’s not proven. It can’t be proven. Any proof would necessarily have to include “since it did before then…” which is circular and therefore fallacious.

            Is this “faith” the same extent as believing in an Invisible Sky Father who place-kicked the Universe into existence? Probably not, but at that point we’re just haggling over price (for those who get the reference).

          33. @TheWriterInBlack:
            I disagree, obviously.

            Firstly, I think you may be conflating the statements, “a famous scientist was religious”, and “religion directly influenced that person to become a scientist”. Certainly, this was exactly the case for some scientists, but not all. I realize that the further back in history you go, the more often you can find references to things like “God’s creation”; but this does not necessarily mean that the scientist viewed his work as an act of faith or worship; some people (such as Einstein, famously) simply used that phrase to mean the same thing we mean by “Universe” today. They were driven by curiosity about the natural world, and they believed that the natural world was created by some sort of a god — but that’s as far as their theological motivation went. Of course, there were also people who did treat naturalism as an act of worship (e.g. Tycho Brahe, probably); humans are a varied lot.

            Secondly, I think you may have demonstrated exactly the very problem I was talking about. I agree with you on Galileo — he basically trolled the crap out of the Pope, and his scientific theories were just a pretext the Pope used to ban him from Twitter… I mean, the Church (and thus society at large). However, consider the bigger picture: why was it that the Pope was able to do that ? It’s because the religious climate at the time created a very strong chilling effect against coming up with conclusions that appeared to contradict the Bible; the Pope just rode that wave. That said, the pope who ordered Giordano Bruno burned at the stake doesn’t have that excuse.

            You bring up epicycles, but the motivation for messing with them for as long as people did (including Copernicus) was explicitly religious in nature: people just couldn’t let go of the idea that the gods (or God) would create planets that moved in imperfect ellipses instead of perfect circles. Newton discovered the laws of gravity, but gave up on trying to go further (as I mentioned in my previous post, still in moderation), for religious reasons. He was also very much into alchemy, which is kind of a shame, because instead of doing that he could’ve been doing anything else and thus achieve something useful. And, of course, much of the opposition to Darwin’s evolutionary theory initially came from religious people (ironically, he was also wrong on a bunch of factual stuff, though he did get the core principle right).

            Furthermore, the Arabic world used to enjoy a period of massive scientific and cultural progress (as evidenced even today by the concepts of al-gebra, al-gorithm, and many others)… Until a popular cleric (I forget his name) rose to power and declared that the natural world was sinful, and people should study the Koran instead. This is why all the modern algorithms are written in English instead of Arabic.

            Does this mean that all religion is uniformly antithetical to scientific progress ? No, of course not ! It just means that, on average, it slows down the rate at which our understanding of the world improves. In the short term, this is not nearly as bad as physically going out and killing a bunch of people; but in the long term, the losses truly do add up.

          34. Firstly, I think you may be conflating the statements, “a famous scientist was religious”, and “religion directly influenced that person to become a scientist”.

            That great ripping sound you hear is the goalposts being torn out of the ground and carried hurtling down the field. Your claim was that faith was a barrier to progress. That has been rebutted. So now you are attaching the further claim that the faith must be an active promoter of science or that, as you state a bit later, “this does not necessarily mean that the scientist viewed his work as an act of faith or worship.” Neither of those is necessary to rebut your original thesis.

            It’s because the religious climate at the time created a very strong chilling effect against coming up with conclusions that appeared to contradict the Bible

            And you demonstrate that you do not understand the issue. It had nothing to do with contradicting the Bible. Hell, the Ptolemaic system originated in Pagan _Greece_ and had nothing to do with the Bible at all. You apparently missed the point that Kepler was developing his Laws of Planetary Motion, took away the Earth’s central position but took away the perfect circles as well. Brahe, working earlier (he was one of Kepler’s teachers in fact) still kept the Earth at the center, with the sun going around it, but with the planets going around the Sun instead of the Earth. A rather complicated (for the day) little cosmology but one that actually reduces to the solocentric model given the right coordinate system.

            It wasn’t Galileo’s “science” that got him in trouble. It was his politics, and the fact that he was just an asshole. The Pope, in addition to being a religious leader was also a politician, a prince of considerable secular power. Galileo challenged that power and undermined that authority. Through most of history Lese Majeste has been a capital crime. He got off easy.

            It had nothing to do with his science and everything to do with his politics. Other scientists. Kepler and Brahe as named above, had no problems with it.

            And, of course, much of the opposition to Darwin’s evolutionary theory initially came from religious people

            And much of the support also came from religious people. Since most people in the Western world back in the day were religious to at least some extent, most people on either side of the issue would be religious. You’re cherry picking. And I already gave the example of Lamarkianism which was a non-religiously based crackpot theory that set back decades the biology in the countries that had it secularly imposed by secular authorities.

            It just means that, on average, it slows down the rate at which our understanding of the world improves.

            That statement does not become any more true from repetition. You have presented the claim. Not a shred of evidence to support it. Clearly, it’s your article of faith.

            To be blunt, it looks very much like you are engaging in projection. It is an article of your faith that religion is bad and that faith interferes with science and progress. And that faith of your interferes with your ability to recognize evidence that it just isn’t so as a general rule.

          35. It is an article of your faith that religion is bad and that faith interferes with science and progress. And that faith of your interferes with your ability to recognize evidence that it just isn’t so as a general rule.

            I couldn’t remember the details, so I looked up Gregor Mendel. Scientist and Augstinian friar.

            Just to hammer home how clearly your point is made.

          36. And on Galileo. The Pope wasn’t just ‘a powerful involved noble’. He was Galileo’s patron. And he wasn’t even asked to stop discussing his ideas, just teaching them until they could get the evidence to support them. Galileo then insulted him. (Though I’ve seen reasonable arguments that that might have been a blind spot rather than intentionally calling his boss an idiot. He had italianized one of the classic Greek characters unfortunately without apparently thinking about what the name meant in Italian.) You don’t call your Boss a moron. Especially when he’s the only one who can save your career. Doubly especially when, at the time, your evidence is rather shaky.

          37. God created man to worship Him with all of our heart, strength, and *mind*.

            God created a universe with rules and gave us a mind to understand those rules. To not learn about God’s creation when He has given us a mind to do so would be to waste God’s gift and would dishonor Him.

            Science is the tool that we use so to put our mind to understanding those rules. The existence of those rules do not disprove the existence of God as no one has claimed that God only exists if the rules don’t. God is not “the explainer of the unexplained”.

          38. I love where you cheerfully ignore that the reasons for ‘Arabic scientific advancement’ was entirely centered on reasons of religion – in order to better be able to calculate when to say their prayers, exactly. Also, that they merely transmitted mathematical concepts to the West, from India, which they had subjugated.

            Your atheistic biases are showing, Buggy m’boy.

          39. @correia45, Shadowdancer, et al:
            Honestly, I think you are doing me a disservice by labeling me as some sort of a self-righteous fanatic; but a). that is obviously your right, and b). I understand why you might jump to that conclusion.

            The problem is you’re asking a bunch of Christians of different denominations to answer for the beliefs of a different group – YEC and such, that the ones you’re asking don’t adhere to, and using the YEC as a beating stick for your ‘but Christianity is irrational’ horse. Also, you yourself absolutely made the statement that ‘religion causes the ills of the world’ – the strawman you hauled out yourself. So you can’t pin that one on us; because if you’re basically pushing ‘religion=did humanity bad’ – you’re going to get people to no longer take you seriously; and we have been, despite your rather insulting approach of doing so. (See: trying to lump all of us into a single group, and have us answer to your satisfaction for the flaws in thinking of a completely different group.)

            You’re also approaching the whole ‘science = disproves God’ thing rather wrongly. For a number of people, each new discovery is seen as a wonderful thing, a new example of the many mysterious ways of God; proof of their faith. You have the flaw in thinking that science disproves religion – I for one, do not think that either cancels the other.

            Another atheist once asked me ‘how can someone as intelligent and rational as you be religious?’ He is a good friend, and I did not take the question as an insult and knew he was genuinely curious. The answer I gave him had him accept my reasons for my beliefs as valid, because my approach to faith was ‘reasoned and scientific’ though it was something he himself would have problems reconciling. The short version of that long conversation: I was an agnostic until I encountered too much phenomena, experiences that were not mine alone and shared with different individuals, where to deny the existence of the supernatural, and God, was frankly, the irrational thing to do.

          40. @Shadowdancer:
            Firstly, I explicitly said that I’m using YECs as a convenient example — since they are, presumably, the kind of people that all of us here disagree with.

            Secondly, I never said that ‘religion causes the ills of the world’; in fact, I explicitly denied it. If you disagree with me, that’s fine, but please address my actual arguments; I can’t defend statements that I didn’t make.

            Finally, I never said that “science disproves God”; that’s the whole point of faith — it is something that cannot be disproven, by definition. However, I challenged one person’s (Dan Lane’s) specific approach to his faith, and, FWIW, I think his answers have been quite illuminating. I obviously don’t agree with him, but I think I have a better insight into his beliefs now. I count that as a positive thing, even though his beliefs are obviously his own, and not 100% representative of every Christian.

            So far, I can’t say the same for you, since you have not engaged with my actual points.

          41. You certainly may think you’re being cute, but considering I’m not the only person who had the same reaction to your ‘religions are responsible for more bad than good’ I’d say we’re doing well in seeing your actual stance. Also, I did address your points before, but as thewriterinblack points out you are shifting your goalpoints to support your biases and arguments, while ignoring the refutations and examples where non-religious thinking hampered scientific progress. You’ve also decided to grant obeisance to the myth of the golden age of Arabic/Islamic ‘scientific progress’; while cheerfully beating on the Church as being anti-science. But I think you’ve done well in revealing that despite your original discussion, through throwing up more strawmen and moving goalposts, as well as illustrating, despite your protestations, that we Christians are the main cause of the ills you so decry. So, I think we may as well stick a fork in it.

            I have to say, I am quite geniunely disappointed in your showing in that regard. I mean, the mere reality that there are different denominations and sects of Christianity (heck, Catholicism!) didn’t give your atheist mind a clue towards the ‘we approach the questions and answers of our religion differently?’ But no, we thought you were asking questions honestly, and …dealt with your queries in good faith. Rather a shame that it went down the same usual paths I tend to see when an atheist asks questions of faith to religious folk.

          42. This one has gone on just about long enough, and I’m not going to thrash a dead horse anymore. While it’s been interesting to me personally, I can imagine some folks reading this thread are looking for spoons to dig their eyeballs out with by now. *grin*

            I just spent the day seeing the family I haven’t seen in a year and a half now, and that was time *much* better spent. Y’all take care, and be good to each other. I think I can go another few years or ten before stinking up Larry’s place with another religious debate now. *chuckle*

          43. Fanatic? I don’t know. Who came into an entirely unrelated comment thread to spend several days and thousands of words arguing a completely off topic subject?

          44. Further, you make the mistake of dealing with Christianity as if it were Islam – Christianity sprang from Judaism, and Judaism has a vast tradition of arguing about the faith – and with God (Israel – wrestles with God).
            The monsters you seek to defeat are in Islam, and in Communism. They’re not here.

          45. But then Judaism and Christianity aren’t likely to behead him or send him to the mine uranium in Siberia so it’s safer to confront them whilst pretending to make a stand against Bad Things.

          46. People far more eloquent than I have addressed this at length, so I’m going to weigh in with one of my favorite quotes, a brief comment, and leave it at that.

            The quote: “Faith and Reason are the shoes on your feet. You can travel further with both than you can with just one.”

            The comment: You’re trying to travel with just the shoe of Reason. The YEC people you are going on about are trying to travel with just the shoe of Faith. Most of the rest of us (including the eloquent discourse-writers in this conversation) are using both.

          47. Yes. It’s almost like expecting simply because we’re not white, we should be racist against whites, because GROUPTHIIIINK.

            But I’m sorta letting it slide because I think Bugs is actually trying to understand, versus being insulting. I’m willing to let it go as ‘badly phrased.’

          48. Bugs, looks like Shadowdancer, TheWriterInBlack, Robin Munn, Wyrdbard, and our host have weighed in already with pretty much what I’d have said and thought (but better and more fleshed out). My take is farther down, and not as concise, but it’s mine. *chuckle*

          49. Although this thread has already burned down to embers, there’s a thought I wanted to bring up that I think would have been germane to this discussion.

            “Considering that religion is faith in something that cannot be proven to be true, mathematics is the only religion that has proven itself to be so.”

            (This thought is brought to you by the fantastic work of G”odel, who ensured that we can never completely replace faith with reason…at some point, we just have to take something on faith!)

          50. @Tomyironmane:
            FWIW, I was taught the fundamentals of critical thinking at my school (well, community college, but still). One of the classes was literally called, “Critical Thinking”. It’s possible that I’m an outlier, of course.

    2. 95% of me agrees whole heartedly, but the other 5% thinks there is a small point to be made…

      I agree with you about sacred beliefs, but I won’t talk about that right now. I quoted this specific part of your sentence to make a different point. Whenever you find yourself saying or thinking something like this (I think there’s a small point to be made), be on the lookout for motte & bailey arguments. For example, you can start talking about how the whole cultural appropriation idea is stupid, and the SJW you’re arguing with will say, “So you’d be okay with someone taking the most sacred symbol of your religion and treating it like it was meaningless?” And when you acknowledge that yes, okay, maybe there’s a part of the cultural appropriation idea that has some merit (the motte), they’re going to act as if you had acknowledged the bailey, and say, “See? That’s why authors shouldn’t write cultures they’re not from.”

      It’s a form of equivocation: using the same word for two different concepts. The idea of, say, putting a crucifix in a jar of urine and calling it “art” (and whether or not you should do that) is a completely different idea from whether you should be “allowed” to have your evil government have a caste system. But by calling both of these things “cultural appropriation”, the SJWs muddy the issue — and it’s usually deliberate.

      Motte-and-bailey arguing is one of the most subtle, and therefore hard-to-spot, forms of lying. But that feeling you got right there? That’s a clue, so pay attention to it. When you say, “Well, they might have a bit of a point…”, that’s PRECISELY when you’re about to encounter some nasty motte-and-bailey equivocation. And once you’re forewarned about it, you can spot it more easily.

    3. “Don’t be a jerky douchebag when handling the sacred beliefs of others.” — Unless, of course, those others are conservative Christians. In which case, jerky douchebaggery is the order of the day.

      1. A rule against treating sacred beliefs carefully and respectfully only exists as a rule if it applies to your own culture as well as all the other ones.

        But even that comes down to bad writing, doesn’t it? If the characters are individuals and real the rest follows relatively effortlessly. If the character is a shadow of their label, if they’re a hollow Shinto priest described lovingly or a hollow Catholic priest described hatefully, it’s equally bad writing if they have no actual identity.

        Shrivers mentions in her speech things that aren’t “identities”, and then lists the various things we call identities. The point she was making was that you can’t write a character who is a homosexual or Chinese or etc., etc., and be done with it at that level of description because that’s not writing the identity of a person, it misses *who they are*.

    4. I generally just go by “If it’s not a religion or a uniform, it’s fair game.”

      Which even then, most religions would be perfectly happy if everyone else adopted their stuff. That’s the whole point of missionaries.

      1. I am told that many Japanese stories use Christian symbols much the same way that American girls get tattoos of the Chinese character for “Soup”: It’s exotic and that makes it cool.

        I’m perfectly fine with this. Some one, at some time, will be curious and look up what the symbols stand for. The more common it becomes, the more the Message will spread. Those who don’t bother to learn, wouldn’t have bothered anyway.

          1. About 35 years ago (when I was a horny teen, and my collection of porn were mostly cast-offs from relatives magazines from ca. 1980 – remembered mainly from Khomeni winning Asshole of the year in one of the Hustlers), a PLAYBOY author wrote an article about the bizarre Japanese tendency to do this, including encountering an almost stereotypical shrunken up Japanese elderly woman wearing a T-shirt that had “HOT MILK” written across what should have been the breast area. This was, BTW, written during the period BEFORE when MHM: Grunge was set (the time period when Chad would have been in HS). He then proceeded into a list of things he encountered there that made that made this classic (http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-a-portuguese-to-english-phrasebook-became-a-cult-comedy-sensation?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=bbcculture) seem like Shakespeare by comparison.

          2. I do wonder about that… When I taught English in Japan, one of the students – a sweet, polite, conservative looking sort of gal – wore, on a couple of occasions, a Tshirt with horrifically obscene English on it.

          3. I really want that “Precise Dwarf Bravery” shirt. If I ever go to Japan, I’ll have to shop at one of these places.

    5. One of the rules for Indian dances performed at Scouting events–which I’m pretty sure still happens–was that you weren’t allowed to do religious dances.
      This struck me as being an eminently sensible proposition.

      1. How would the non-Indian scouts know the difference? A lot of Indian dances are religious, and a lot of others (of hope for hunting luck, of gratitude or just celebration of a great event) could be construed as having a religious aspect.
        I see it differently. If I wanted to do a religious dance of my people, fuck anybody who doesn’t like it. It’s be boring anyway. I’m about 10% Indian, but Dad was Southern Baptist & Mom was Church of Christ. Reeeaally boring dance, but not tiring at all. I could stand there for a long time.

        1. “How would the non-Indian scouts know the difference?”
          You ask?
          I get what you’re saying, but given that 90+% of Scouts aren’t Indian, and a higher percentage of aren’t animists, it’s not a bad rule of thumb.

  7. I don’t mind cultural appropriation. I just don’t like when a writer based their material on a cultural they haven’t had a clue about. Gun culture is an obvious starting point.

    1. I actually get this way with fanfic culture. There’s been a few books like “Fangirl” which are about fanfic writers, and I’ve hated them. Same with most video game books I read which don’t seem to understand gaming culture at all. The weird part is that in both of these cases, the authors usually claim to be (and for all I know, really are) part of these cultures. Which just means that their stories don’t ring as realistic to me based on my experiences with fanfic/gaming culture, whereas they apparently ring true to other people who have had different experiences in fanfic/gaming cuture. Because both fanfic and gaming are big enough cultures for individuals to have had vastly different experiences. (Though I do think I was right in the case of at least some of these books that they just wrote these things poorly.)

      1. I’ve started books like that but stopped when I see that the author seems to be making fun of the group. It’s not a joke as one of the group, but against the group.

      2. I’ve actualy read “Fangirl” and I found it pretty true to certain subset of fandom. it also happens to be a subset of fandom I have chosen not to engage in a long time after relatively short brush, but it IS a very large subset of fandom, comparatively speaking (and it exists not just for Harry Potter). (the accusation of plagiarism rang particularly true, because I have encountered it more than once as an attitude towards fan-fiction)

        so you are right about having different experiences coloring how one might describe them. I would be curious to read the gaming book you have mentioned. because fandoms I do participate in tend to overlap with gaming community 90% of the time, so I’m curious if my experiences (or those of my acquaintances) match those of the writers.

  8. This is another one of those YGTBSM speeches… sigh… And you’re right, as usual. So are we responsible to chase that ‘oriental’ character’s predecessors back to the dawn of mankind for ‘permission’? Or ask the Japanese if they got permission from Korea and China to ‘appropriate’ their cultures? Or ask the Maori and Zulu who took from who??? I’m going to write what I write. People can buy it or not… Sigh…

  9. Man, I am *so* dead if anybody finds out that I have an award-winning story in which the main character is a young black boy (!) who is a slave in Virginia (!!)– and I am neither of those things (!!!)
    Then again, the story isn’t about “the black experience,” but it’s about human experience.

  10. On the bright side of “cultural appropriation,” when some psychologically disturbed clown demands that I use his made-up pronouns for whatever imaginary gender, I can smile and say, “Oh, don’t worry; I would never do that. Adopting your pronouns in lieu of those standard American English pronouns of my culture would be to appropriate yours. I’m far too polite.”

    1. As a proud Zionist, I say we need to scream cultural appropriation when the BDS trots out the Israel/Nazi comparison canards.

  11. So, if cultural appropriation is bad, then what does that make the Chinese, who Sinicized the Xiongnu, or the Romans, who Romanized the Gauls? Does that make the conquered Xiongnu and Gauls bad guys for appropriating Chinese and Roman culture?

      1. Turkish baths? Inherited from the Byzantines, who got it from their predecessors the Romans. The Romans apparently got the habit from the Carthaginians.

        Bullfighting? Ever seen the Minoan paintings of “bull dancers”? The Carthaginians picked it up from their Phoenician forefathers, then carried it to Iberia, and the Spanish passed it along to the Mexicans.

        And gladiator fights were the Roman adaptation of Etruscan funeral games, so not all they got from the Etruscans was good.

        But the “cultural appropriation” ninnies would ignore the flow of human culture and leave us stagnant as little zoo exhibits rather than human beings.

  12. I just want to say that cultural appropriation is awesome. I can culturally appropriate sushi one day, burritos the next, then pizza, empanadas, kababs… Seriously, it’s the best thing ever!

  13. Unfortunately, your post is necessary. Lionel Shriver’s line puts it best: ” Membership of a larger group is not an identity. Being Asian is not an identity. Being gay is not an identity. Being deaf, blind, or wheelchair-bound is not an identity, nor is being economically deprived.”

    It can be a part of your identity, but a human being is more then the sum of his parts. Most characters I write about have different cultures and come from different countries–it’s fun to write about other people. If I were to write only about my ‘kind of people’–straight white males from Germany, I’d be accused of cis male misogyny and not being diverse enough.

    It’s sad to see the Western World drifting into close-minded, restrictive cultural shifts far away from the freedom of expression. That’s why it’s important that brave writers make their voice heard, no matter how Culturally Inappropriate.

  14. Any time anyone talks about “Cultural Appropriation” I am reminded of this scene from Fortune’s Stroke by Eric Flint and David Drake:

    Irene, as was her way, began with humor.
    “Consider these robes, men of India.” She plucked at a heavy sleeve. “Preposterous, are they not? A device for torture, almost, in this land of heat and swelter.”
    Many smiles appeared. Irene matched them with her own.
    “I was advised, once, to exchange them for a sari.” She sensed, though she did not look to see, a pair of twitching lips. “But I rejected the advice. Why? Because while the robes are preposterous, what they represent is not.”
    She scanned the crowd slowly. The smile faded. Her face grew stern.
    “What they represent is Rome itself. Rome—and its thousand years.”
    Silence. Again, slowly, she scanned the room.
    “A thousand years,” she repeated. “What dynasty of India can claim as much?”
    Silence. Scan back across the room.
    “The greatest empire in the history of India, the Maurya, could claim only a century and half. The Guptas, not more than two.” She nodded toward Shakuntala. “Andhra can claim more, in years if not in power, but even Andhra cannot claim more than half Rome’s fortune.”
    Her stern face softened, just slightly. Again, she nodded to the empress. The nod was almost a bow. “Although, God willing, Andhra will be able to match Rome’s accomplishment, as future centuries unfold.”
    Severity returned. “A thousand years. Consider that, noble men of India. And then ask yourself: how was it done?”
    Again, she smiled; and, again, plucked at a heavy sleeve.
    “It was done with these robes. These heavy, thick, preposterous, unsuitable robes. These robes contain the secret.”
    She paused, waited. She had their complete attention, now. She took the time, while she waited, to send another whimsical, mental message across the sea. Thanking a harsh, cold empress named Theodora, born in poverty on the streets of Alexandria, for training a Greek noblewoman in the true ways of majesty.
    “The secret is this. These are the robes of Rome, but they are not Roman. They are Hun robes, which we took for our own.”
    A murmur arose. Huns? Filthy, barbarous—Huns?
    “Yes. Hun robes. We took them, as we took Hun trousers, when our soldiers became cavalrymen. Just as we took, from the Aryans, the armor and the weapons and the tactics of Persia’s horsemen. Just as we took from the Carthaginians—eight hundred years ago—the secrets of war at sea. Just as we took, century after century, the wisdom of Greece, and made it our own. Just as we took the message of Christ from Palestine. Just as we have taken everything we needed—and discarded anything we must—so that Rome could endure.”
    She pointed her finger toward the north. “The Malwa call us mongrels, and boast of their own purity. So be it. Rome shrugs off the name, as an elephant shrugs off a fly. Or, perhaps—”
    She grinned. Or, perhaps, bared her teeth.
    “Say better, Rome swallows the name. Just as a huge, half-savage, shaggy, mastiff cur of the street wolfs down a well-groomed, purebred house pet.”

    That was referring to the surviving Roman Empire of the sixth century (referred to by historians today as the Byzantine Empire) but we in American have long followed the same concept, followed it and doubled down on it. In this aspect we out-Rome Rome.

    1. In the spirit of the passage, I’ll steal this and make it my own: “Just as we have taken everything we needed—and discarded anything we must—so that Fiction could endure.”

    2. ” but we in American have long followed the same concept, followed it and doubled down on it.”

      Yes, we do. If one looked into it deeply enough, you’d probably find out that is where the original Marxist behind the “cultural appropriation” crapola came up with it.

      Step 1: Find something that makes America (or Western Civilization in general) strong.
      Step 2: Invent some fucktarded rationale for why the thing in Step 1 is Bad, Bad, Bad.
      Step 3: Distribute the fucktarded theory in Step 2 to the SJW cult. It does not have to be a supportable theory. It does not have to be a plausible theory. It can even be an utterly nonsensical theory. As long as it makes the United States or Western Civilization look bad, the cult will accept it without question.

      1. Marxists have a glass jaw. They accuse other people of things but can’t take examination of their beliefs. Marxism isn’t science it’s a cult. If you judge a belief by what actions are associated with it, Marxism is a bloody thing with nothing positive in it.

    3. Reminds me of the thesis of “How the West was Won”: http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/07/25/how-the-west-was-won/

      “I am pretty sure there was, at one point, such a thing as western civilization. I think it involved things like dancing around maypoles and copying Latin manuscripts. At some point Thor might have been involved. That civilization is dead. It summoned an alien entity from beyond the void which devoured its summoner and is proceeding to eat the rest of the world.”

    4. Kipling put it pretty well:

      “When ‘Omer Smote ‘Is Bloomin’ Lyre”

      When ‘Omer smote ‘is bloomin’ lyre,
      He’d ‘eard men sing by land an’ sea;
      An’ what he thought ‘e might require,
      ‘E went an’ took — the same as me!

      The market-girls an’ fishermen,
      The shepherds an’ the sailors, too,
      They ‘eard old songs turn up again,
      But kep’ it quiet — same as you!

      They knew ‘e stole; ‘e knew they knowed.
      They didn’t tell, nor make a fuss,
      But winked at ‘Omer down the road,
      An’ ‘e winked back — the same as us!

  15. I spoted this on Farcebook earlier today, that is an excellent article.

    As a writer, I will damn well “appropriate” whatever I see fit. Otherwise known as “research” in civilized society. How else to incorporate the whole quiltbag when I’m only one cultural identity by myself?

    I’m more than happy to lock horns with anybody that tells me not to write Chinese characters, or Indian characters, or fricking Ancient Sumerian characters, because cultural appropriation. One does not accommodate people like that, one runs over them rough shot, then goes back and puts the boots to them. The very idea is anathema to a free society.

  16. Don’t forget the flipside: If you DON’T write about members of Class X, Y or Z (or more likely Class XYZ123§™) then you’re guilty of “erasure.” To enter the Theater of the Absurd that is all things SJW is always a lose-lose proposition.

  17. On a somewhat related note, one of the reviews I got for Big Blue complained that “one of the subplots randomly became almost an ad for Christianity” (I had a character who was a devout Christian, who found strength in prayer and in helping others, and who refused to give up that faith despite some really nasty stuff going on.) Apparently in a major disaster of worldwide scope everyone is supposed to take a “God is dead” attitude and abandon all faith. This has not been what I’ve found in people of deep and abiding faith. Some may react that way. Others not. My character was one of the “nots”.

    Some people just cannot comprehend anyone who doesn’t think like they do. They can’t so they project their inability onto others and assume that if we try we just have to be wrong.

    1. Some people are extremely intolerant of Christianity in fiction, especially when they’re not expecting it because it hasn’t been neatly shuffled off into the “Christian fiction” section where they can ignore it. I’ve seen reviews of books where just because the book has a Christian character who’s not evil and doesn’t abandon their faith, the reviewer has called the book “Christian propaganda”.

      1. Yeah. I recall when the director of PIXAR’s WALL*E (Andrew Stanton) admitted that his Christian beliefs at least partially inspired some of the elements of his animated movie about cute robots, suddenly a whole bunch of Leftwingers who previously lauded the film had a mass freak-out and started bashing it as Evil Disguised Christian Brainwashing. *rolleyes*

        1. Why am I reminded of the Bloom County strip where they found out playing Death Tongue’s records backwards resulted in them admonishing listeners to say their prayers, go to church, etc?

        2. The same thing happened with Pete Docter when they learned he was a Christian. There’s gotta be propaganda in those Pixar films! Give me a break.

  18. Yes.

    As an American, “Appropriation” *is* my culture.

    Hell, English doesn’t “borrow” words from other languages. It herds other languages into dark alleys, beats them up, and takes their words and tells them to keep their mouth shut about it.

    Also, as an American, I think *your* culture would benefit greatly if you appropriated more of ours. Americans are givers like that.

    1. “Also, as an American, I think *your* culture would benefit greatly if you appropriated more of ours.”

      We call it Western “Civilization” for a reason.

  19. This is “write what you know” taken to a ridiculous extreme – write *only* what you know.

    Why can’t you *learn* and thus *know* about other people and things?

    I know what it’s like to be a Navy enlisted man for 22 years from head-cleaner through senior NCO (Senior Chief) and it was often fun in real life; it was quite often boring – and that which was not personally boring would be boring and excessively esoteric to tell. There’s a *reason* most Navy stories focus on officers (The Sand Pebbles notwithstanding); they are the focus of action and drama. Enlisted folk are there to make sure their orders are executed.

  20. And McCreepy (Jim Hines) and Kowal jump on the whole bandwagon, with Hines trying to risk the speech you mentioned.

    1. Speaking of identities… if they didn’t jump on the bandwagon would they cease to exist entirely? *poof*

      Kowal in particular seems all about who has permission to speak at all.

      But Cultural Purifiers will Purify. Not much to do about that.

      1. It seems to be a case of: Those who can, do; Those who can’t, criticize, in hopes of immobilizing those who ca. It’s life lived as a crab bucket.

  21. Good to see The Guardian has actually learned something from their Tim Hunt clusterf**k, by printing the original speech in full rather than doubling down on the initial bullshit.

  22. “SJWs got up in arms about white people wearing kimonos.”

    I suggest they should avoid anime and comics conventions. They’d be awful for their blood pressure.

    Lets see here…
    Alexander McCall Smith – White guy. Most popular series is about an African female detective in Botswana.
    James Patterson – White guy. Most popular series is about an African-American detective.
    Michael Chabon – White guy. Writes novels with African-American protagonists.
    Isuna Hasekura – Japanese writer. Most popular series takes place in late medieval Europe and with primarily German, French, and Nordic characters.

    And these are just off the top of my head. Ms. Yassmin Abdel-Magied, you are full of crap.

    1. SJWs are doing their level best to -end- cosplay at conventions, witness the current pearl-clutching regarding cosplay weapons. It isn’t enough to peace-bond your plastic SAO Kirito sword, no no no. You cannot -have- a plastic sword at all, because running with scissors you know. Weapons are icky, can’t be allowed.

      One need only view the ravings at Mr. 27 Hugos swamp to recognize the deep and driving need they have to make sure nobody is having any fun.

      1. I try to avoid File 404 Sanity Not Found whenever possible. But honestly, the whole thing about weapons and cosplay has been going on for as long as I’ve been going to conventions (35+ years). It always seems to ebb and rebound in cycles, so much so that I’ve mostly stopped paying attention to it.

      2. The SJW playbook:

        1.) Identify something fun and popular.
        2.) Take it over completely.
        3.) Ruin it so that nobody enjoys it anymore.
        4.) Repeat step 1.

          1. I gather we are talking about the man-burka version rather than the David Lynch film version. *evil grin*

          1. How in the everliving fuck were they going to achieve that? By telling people ‘you’re not allowed to dress like that?’ In the US? really?

            I’d LOVE to see them try to take on reinactors.

          2. Okay, I just had an amusing thought of Civil War re-enactors being called cosplayers.

            Then I thought of cosplayers re-enacting battles from the works of fiction they’re portraying. Though I guess anything with giant mecha might be difficult to pull off. 😀

          3. Hmmm…. Now I could be wrong about this, but doesn’t cosplay tend to be a more female-dominated way of displaying one’s knowledge of and love for the characters of one’s preferred fandom?

            I’m shocked that NYCC would even consider a policy that suppresses the voices and self-expression of female fans in such a disproportionate manner.


    2. The kimono thing was an art install in Boston of a Monet painting with the chance to try on a kimono one day a week. Outrage ensued. Counter protests by Japanese ensued. The display was removed. Japanese in Japan found it all confusing and stupid.

    3. They also don’t realize the significance of just about anything. Kimonos are Japanese formal wear. It’s no more cultural appropriation for us to wear one of them than for someone from Japan to wear an evening gown or prom dress.

      1. Heck, Japanese hotel rooms give you a yukata (an informal wear kimono, kind of like PJ’s) for free.
        Don’t they know that they’re playing into their own cultural appropriation?

          1. *rolls SAN*


            *face melts like that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark*

          2. Demon Beast KIng: “I’m gonna need sake and keep it coming. Oh, and a blindfold. Earplugs…”

  23. Actually some people culturally appropriate trousers better than others. Head uptown and youy’ll notice many of them have neglected the cultural notions of belts or waist sizes…

  24. Me: a Canadian of Ukrainian-Polish-British extraction.

    My last three protagonists: Elderly Texan veteran, posthuman female entity, Hispanic female space pilot.

    I think my writing would be pretty dull if I only wrote about myself.

  25. 1. People complaining about appropriation are doing so from a perspective alien to historical English speakers. The complainers are engaging in appropriation, not okay, and need to find another language to bitch in. (It needs to be a conlang that they have clear title to.)
    2. This especially came up during Black Lives Matter. American policing was heavily influenced by 19th British policing, which was adapted from French policing. (British didn’t consider French practices appropriate for a free people.) Apparently this somehow is not culturally authentic for certain American demographics.

    Fortunately, if one goes back thousands of years, there are some commonalities to the means of force by which city populations are controlled. If we implement these for peoples without the correct ancestry for American, British, or even French customs, things will be all authentic and just, yo.

  26. No cultural appropriation? Okay. We go back to the 1950s. All women are hereby ordered to wear hats and gloves when out of the house. In the house is where they are required to spend most of their time. All food is to be boiled. No chocolate, tea or coffee allowed. Or OJ or refined sugar. Nicotine. (Native Americans.) Wait. No pants. Invented by the Huns, culturally appropriated by the Chinese and then by Westerners during the Renaissance. So 1950s but everyone in skirts. I’m good. Got kilts. Even suit kilts.

    1. Ya, I’ve noticed that those who whine loudest about cultural appropriation tend to practice it quite a bit.
      But, as is usual with SJW’s, It’s Not (bad thing) When They Do It!

    2. Something that goes right along with kilts and the food appropriations Larry mentioned is something I heard on the British show QI. Tikka Misala was invented by a Pakistani chef in Glasgow. Apparently a customer wanted some “sauce” for his chicken and the chef whipped some up and named it Tikka Misala.

  27. As they say, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

    We should add, “Those who can’t do either, join a SJW mob and whine about successful people’s ‘insensitivities’ to your just-as-useless-as-you friends.”

  28. Using SJW logic, my favorite comic book of all time, USAGI YOJIMBO, is the most evil, cultural appropriationist swill ever, because writer and illustrator Stan Sakai Hawaiian Japanese and freely took inspiration from the works of Evil Straight White Male American Cartoonists like Carl Barks and Walt Kelly along with Akira Kurosawa. Plus he’s not a humanoid rabbit from a fantastical alternate Earth’s variant of 16th century Japan!

    …..guess he’ll have to give all his devoted fans a mea culpa and start writing about the time he used to letter the Sunday edition of the “Spider-Man” newspaper strip for Stan Lee’s brother-in-law. So much more exciting than an epic tale involving demonic swordsmen.

  29. White Guilt Complex is an ugly, debilitating affliction. Thank Gawd it is mostly contained and limited to liberals and idiots. Too bad it isn’t fatal (yet)….

  30. Hear, hear! Thank you, Larry! This definitely has to be the most addle-headed of all addle-headed ideas.

    So I have noticed, according to the progressives:
    You can’t write about white people. Too many stories about white people.
    You can’t write about people not from your culture.

    Huh… so, in other words, they want us to shut up. Won’t happen.

    The one that made me laugh the most was the article that accused J.K. Rowling of Culturally Appropriating American Indian lore (it said religion) and “Taking shelf space from people of color.”

    And I thought: which scenario sounds more likely. You write a story about your people, it gets shelf space….or, J K. Rowling writes a story about your people, her mass of readers get interested in the subject, and THEN your book gets picked up and read.


  31. To be fair, though:

    …Or take a goodthink peacenik author who has never served a day in the military, and they can write their blood thirsty, ticking time bombs of PTSD addled murder rage, and that’s perfectly cool. Christians? All up in your literature, as long as they are bad guys. We don’t hate characters like that because they are appropriating our culture. We hate them because they are lame, boring stereotypes written out of obvious lazy ignorance.

    As far as I understand, this is exactly how the SJWs feel when a white man writes a story about a black woman. They feel that he is inevitably going to make her into some sort of a caricature — just like that caricature of a backwards gun-toting hillbilly that you hate so much.

    If “cultural appropriation” is bullshit, as I believe it is, then we all need to grow a thicker skin. Yes, it’s irksome to see people like yourself being portrayed as a “goodnik peaceniks” just because you happen against excessive military spending; or as a gun-toting backward rednecks just because you happen to be a Christian; or as some sort of “magical negroes” just because you happen to be a black person from South Africa, or whatever. But the only viable solution is to write more books, not to stop other authors from writing theirs. Otherwise we’ll get stuck in this totalitarian dystopia the SJWs are building, where everyone is afraid to say anything that might possibly offend somebody.

    1. They might have grounds for that belief if everyone and their dog wrote, say, a standardized ‘welfare queen’ stock character for all of their female black characters. Especially with a stock subplot of “negligent parenting causes child’s death, blames others and kicks up a fuss demanding justice”.

      Porn is dull if you aren’t into it. A bunch of stories with the same stock characters leading to the same ‘surprises’ gets there.

      You could say that a female black character who doesn’t address the political topic of the day is necessarily a stock caricature to such a leftist.

      1. Well, as far as I understand, SJWs believe that black people are fundamentally different from white people due to all the historic oppression. Therefore, a white person cannot possibly understand the experience of being a black person well enough to write about it. Thus, if a white person does create a black character, there’s no way that character would ever be anything more than a distorted caricature.

        I personally think this viewpoint is, to put it politely, total nutballs; but as far as I can tell, at least some SJWs do sincerely believe it. Thus, they experience the same severely negative emotions as Christians do when they are portrayed as gun-toting hillbillies or whatever.

        1. Suppose I believe that drug users are inhuman. Does that mean I would have grounds to object whenever drug users are represented as other than corpses animated by demons?

          The useful narrative has been Christians, rednecks, et cetera really want to do things, so that the danger needs addressing with governmental force. Compare numbers of rednecks versus numbers of incidents. The most minority neighborhoods have burned has been incidents like Ferguson and Baltimore.

          There haven’t been enough massacres. Said narrative is pushed by people who can’t stand disagreement, and want to escalate. Repeating it is boring except for masturbators.

          1. Does that mean I would have grounds to object whenever drug users are represented as other than corpses animated by demons?

            Yes. More specifically, such a belief would be internally consistent within your (crazy) worldview, and I would be able to empathize with you.

            Empathy is not the same thing as agreement, however. Saying “I understand how you feel” is not the same as saying “because you feel this way, I must believe everything you say”. My whole point is that the people who disagree with you are not necessarily monsters, nor are they being disingenuous. They are sincere, despite being wrong. Demonizing them won’t help anyone.

          2. The people behind black face minstrel shows may have been sincere. I’ve not been compelled to study those enough to find out if they have any artistic or entertainment value. The segregationists had reasons for what they did, not all were graft.

            This doesn’t mean I must endorse the craft of their propagandist hacks who did not know they spoke falsehood.

            That someone repeats themselves for human reasons does not mean they aren’t boring. ‘Not demonizing them’ does not tell them how to entertain.

            Larry’s writing advice is for getting people’s beer money.

        2. Of course, even modern black people can’t really write about black people of another time because they themselves haven’t lived in that same era in that same environment under that same kind/variant and level of oppression as their forebears suffered because CULTURAL APPROPRIATION!

    2. It’s also worth noting that the “cultural appropriation” argument is fundamentally pre-emptive, while the “liberal authors tend to write things like Christians, gun culture, and the military terribly” argument that Larry is espousing here is fundamentally reactive, based upon actually reading a work and determining, in hindsight, upon critical analysis, that the writing was shit.

      If critics or authors of a social-justicey bent want to read a white author’s work, and later say “the way he portrayed [insert race here] was shit, and shows he obviously didn’t do enough research onto the culture,” it would be one thing. If an author of one political orientation made a real effort to portray their enemies fairly, I think almost anyone here would be glad to congratulate them on it. But that isn’t what the cultural appropriation argument is saying. It’s saying that a white author should NEVER try to portray a culture not their own, and that they are wrong for even trying to do so. Most of the people who make that argument won’t even read the work of the people they are complaining about, and even when they do, the argument is about whether or not it is right for the author to be portraying that culture in the first place, not about whether or not the portrayal was any good.

      Furthermore, even if they WERE making that argument, it wouldn’t be framed in terms of “cultural appropriation is wrong,” it would be framed in terms of, “this writing was bad.” That’s all Larry is trying to say here. If you want to complain about bad writing, then complain about bad writing, not about who the author is, or what they are allowed to write.

  32. How many of these culture cops are doing their righteous work wearing western fashions in western style houses speaking/writing in English over the western-developed Internet? Will they be giving THOSE things up any time soon?

  33. Just as Eskimos have a thousand words to describe snow, so liberals have a thousand (and counting) ways to tell people to shut up.

    *rolls eyes*

    Also, I have to take issue with the assertion “So half the time when the Cultural Appropriation police freak out about something, they’re just being ignorant anyway.” Because that statement strikes me as only half correct. (More like 90% of the time, in my experience. And one hundred percent of the time, they’re just being dicks. 😛 )

  34. They are missing the fact that the most successful Cultures are the ones that are the best at appropriating things from other cultures. That means someone has to develop the Cultural Appropriation Board game. Something similar to Civilization but where the Culture that acquires the most from the other players wins.

  35. This comment is completely unrelated to your actual post Larry, but I’m just wondering, you ever watch Stranger Things on Netflix? I love this scene, https://youtu.be/IupEochRcIQ It’s my favourite of the whole season because Nancy’s one-liner made me think of MHI

  36. Hmmm…… I’m creating whole new races, with each one’s language based on a different European language. Fey is based on Irish/Scottish Gaelic, Daeoni is based on Welsh (where vowels are optional) and Vaengi is based on German. And I’m wiping out entire civilizations (Godstones Books 1 and 2) and in my new crossover, I’m wiping out EVERYBODY and starting all over. Wonder how they’d see that.

    1. Probably better than my current project, which is based on the Raj, except on a planet where the natives are marsupials and their castes are based on who survived a legendary (?) cataclysm. They can tell at a glance the caste by coloration and size. And [sound of gasping and pearl clutching] the natives want the human colonizers to stay (Book 2) for Reasons (Book 3).

      1. My problem is that my stuff has something in it to offend EVERYONE. Got the weirdest review of my Imperial Entanglements novella. The reviewer was convinced that a socialist government was liberal in spite of the fact that it controlled it people to the point of choosing their spouses for them. She couldn’t understand how the “anti-liberal” culture was “sex positive” and the collectivist government could be anything but liberal.. Honestly, she was a moron and had no understanding of politics, economics or even current events.

  37. Seriously, there’s another end to appropriation shaming. SJW methods work are most effective offensively on someone of Christian heritage. Less effective if deep into Christian ‘ignore worldly pressures’. Must less effective if one wholly abandons Christian influence.
    1. An arbitrary excuse to attack.
    2. Standard Marxist divide and rule.
    3. A ruse to narrow thinking, and limit access to work arounds.

  38. Recently, I was told that the main character of an epic/heroic fantasy story I’m writing and posting online (I can provide a link should someone request it, but won’t now so as not to spam) should be aware of his “straight white male privilege.” This character, as a matter of fact, is straight and male, though I don’t understand how this person (a college student) thought he was white. He’s seven and a half feet tall, has a (mostly) human face (his nose is kind of snoutlike), and has horns. His entire body is covered in reddish-gold scales. He’s a human-dragon hybrid. And worse, his background is even more culturally appropriative.

    Ethnically, the human half of him (He’s not a hybrid in the traditional, mixed parentage sense; he merged with a dragon at the cellular level) is Eastern European; his ancestors were a disgraced noble family that came from the fantasy equivalent of Romania. He was born in a country inspired by a mix of Celtic and Danish culture (from Beowulf) that is similar to England as well. When he fused with the dragon (at age eight), the dragon took over, and he traveled, before settling down and regaining control of his body a half year later, in a country inspired by a mix of T’ang Dynasty China and Tibet. When he was sixteen or so, he left to travel, and so traveled through an empire inspired more by ancient China, then through one inspired by Persia, before being enslaved by a country vaguely inspired by a combination of Biblical pagan tribes and Arabian desert pagan nomads. He was freed, and now works for the country he was born in, Alberion, as a soldier in a program vaguely similar to the French Foreign Legion.

    And that’s just one character.

    I have another world for a different story. First story arcs take place in fantasy versions of Persia and South/Southwest Asia, Sub-Saharan and West Africa, and Mesoamerica/ the Amazon Rainforest. This same social justice nanny had this nasty look of fear on their face when I mentioned this story, as if worried some scorpion-man (girtablilu- I also appropriated Akkadian mythology) would get triggered by me writing about it.

    The only thing I worry about, though not much, is reception. I’ve seen many authors set their stories in specifically non-European cultures to make some sort of social statement. Me, I do it because I find Persia fascinating, among other things. But I worried my book would be lumped into the “message-fic-virtue-signalling” pile, though I try to avoid that and just tell a story. No matter what, though, I’m going to write it, and I’m going to write it how the story demands, not how SJWs demand.

    1. Dude, write what you wanna write. If the Japanese can do that, and come up with some seriously cool and awesome stories in the process, why should we let the whining of some random feminist or socjust retard stop it? Kaoru Mori is writing historical romantic slice of life set in the Silk Road and it’s a gorgeous story. She also draws some seriously beautiful art, and would probably give the average socjus person a heart attack with regard her loving detail to the female body.

      1. I love that series!

        I’ll admit that I read it on one of the scanlation sites. This particular site has discussion fora and this particular story has a persistently obtuse SJW who will not shut up about how sexist the story is and how it should be written to conform to modern socio-sexual mores (in the sense that the relationships are Oppressive to Women and Should Be Depicted as Such But Aren’t).

        Not even the explanation that people do things differently in different times and places affects this person’s monomania.

        1. Yeah, I adore Mori’s work; she’s a self-professed Anglophille, and her adoration of her subject matter shows through in her work. As for the SJW I don’t know why she’s bitching about ‘sexism’ in a freaking romance series instead of, well, going to read something s/he/it would enjoy, like maybe a yuri series. I wouldn’t be surprised if that particular person does so for a great number of shojo manga series.

          AND LOL LOL LOL – the first couple that is shown in Otoyomegatari is a very unequal pair – 12 year old husband and 20 year old bride. The only reason why this even happened is because the 12 year old is considered an adult in his culture and nobody seems to expect them to consummate the marriage yet – something that is actually a very serious plot point. I love Karluk! And I love that his and Amir’s marriage is considered ‘unusually happy’ even though they do have the occasional hiccup.

          Interestingly enough – Kaoru Mori’s work is actually published in a magazine aimed at the older male bracket – seinen. That ought to do the SJW’s head in a little.

          Mori’s approach to the young brides show that she has a very firm grasp of traditional feminine strengths. (I mean, a rich Persian man has to be persuaded by his wife to take on a second wife – he’s the reluctant one and openly says he never has the desire to take on another bride; and then frets about his first wife’s feelings when he does so solely to please her.)

  39. How economical can we make this disparity? SocialJusticeWhiners have learned enough algebra to know how to divide…but not to multiply.

  40. You’re just trying to cover up the fact that your unbelievably huge royalty checks are written using appropriated Arabic numerals.


    1. Not to mention his books are full of words stolen from German, Latin and French, written in letters the Greeks stole from the Phoenicians.

      There really is no end to his perfidy.

  41. “Cultural Appropriation is the stupidest argument ever.”

    A bold claim when considering the fertile ground of modern humanities.

  42. And then if you happen to be a male WASP (or anything even close…) in the USA and anything of your cultural gets appropriated, why that’s Cultural Imperialism. Feh.

    I await the time someone is offended some “grand” piece of their culture has NOT been appropriated because it is regarded as not worth bothering with. That would at least make some sense.

    And of course the fantasy writing would stop cold if folks listened to the SJW’s… Are you, yourself a unicorn? A dragon? A person of minotaurish-look? (Moo.) Heck, Black Beauty couldn’t exist, unless Anna Sewell was really a horse! How very silly.

  43. Here’s a piece that ends with a sort of “middle road”:


    The gist of the ending of the article is that if you’re a white guy who’s writing about a teenage Nigerian girl, you probably should do some research on what it’s like to be a teenage Nigerian girl. If your fiction is set in today’s world as it is, this makes sense to me. If you’re creating your own world/universe, you can do pretty much anything you want. If you’re writing historical fiction about, say, the French Revolution, then you need to do some homework on the French Revolution. The last author in the story is advocating for people to have enough respect for other cultures to do some research on them before writing about them. I don’t really have a problem with that viewpoint. If you’re claiming your novel accurately portrays the life of a modern day teenage Nigerian girl, then you should have made an effort to get it right. If you’re writing about a teenage Nigerian girl 500 years from now, then you’re pretty much free to tell whatever story you want to.

    1. The problem, of course, being that the people screeching loudest about cultural appropriation don’t believe in research.

    2. That’s a better, more balanced article than I generally expect from the guardian. Thanks for sharing it.

      That said, there’s the problem that most of those people don’t share your distinction limiting it to “when set in the real world”. Historical fiction should be reasonably accurate, yes, but any other kind of fiction merely needs to be within the scope of possibility.

      If at any point “representation” and “good story” conflict, the needs of “good story” take precedence. The world is full of terrible fiction. If the author isn’t failing forward than representation becomes irrelevant as no one will read the work anyway.

      1. I read this article without reading either the speech or the letter, mainly because I wanted to get a feel for the general reaction to the speech rather than both extremes.

        I agree that “good story” is more important than “representation”, but if you’re setting your story in the modern world, you presumably have some reason that you want your protagonist to be a Nigerian teenager. If it turns out that you’re way off, you should expect to catch flak if your story draws a significant audience. That doesn’t mean that you should burn every copy of the story or even rewrite it. It just means that you should be prepared for criticism if you don’t get the character right. The closer you’re trying to get to “the real world”, the more work you’re going to have to do to make sure you get it right.

        With fantasy, you really don’t have those constraints. Does it bother me that Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal have been cast in a movie about The Great Wall of China? Not really. Shouldn’t they have made an effort to cast Chinese actors in those roles? Well, if you’re doing a historically accurate description of The Great Wall of China, then they probably should have, but since this movie is about dragons, the casting is hardly the most unrepresentative thing about the film.

        1. And here’s a thing the SJW don’t realize about China and most far eastern countries. Rather like the Japanese’s are thrilled to have Scarlett Johansson as the lead in the live action Ghost in the Shell, I bet the Chinese in China are thrilled to have someone with the prestige and recognition of Brad Pitt. That will increase the prestige of the movie. That is a huge thing for those cultures, above accuracy.

          1. It’s all perspective. If the Japanese want to culturally appropriate Scarlett Johansson, more power to them.

        2. Do go back and read the speech. She didn’t do anything other than not bother to talk circles around her subject so that everyone’s feelings were soothed. And she did talk about writing well. But she also said, if someone *tries* but they do poorly, ought they not get credit for *trying*?

          And don’t people of every “identity” group, ethnicity, race and sex in the modern world run the entire gamut of human experience?

          I recall some time ago a very well known and successful author receiving the criticism that she hadn’t done multiple personality disorder correctly. Her response was, IIRC, something very like… she’d written the character based on direct observation *of that character*. And I felt that an excellent point. Characters are individuals or you’ve failed. But I bring it up now because there will always be someone who thinks you didn’t do it right. Always.

          You get to decide how worried you’re going to be about that, and if it’s “not at all” that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

  44. “Cultural appropriation” is just a pejorative term for individual instances of the process of transculturation.

  45. Its like SJW have been reading 1984 and think its full of viable social lessons. They are the true faces of modern day fascism, think what we think write what we want you to write, worship only the movement, all else is hate and fear.

  46. As a Filipino, when I saw that you had a team take out an Aswang, I went ‘squee! Our monsters are represented!’ and hoped that you’d do a few more features of such.

    Culturally appropriate away, Larry!

  47. The whole point from the Gatekeeper perspective is that there is obviously nobody who can give permission to borrow cultural norms and traditions, and they leap at the chance to supply the deficit. A real job would have an occupant and a customer and a boss: three pesky obstacles to grabbing up the authority. It’s so much easier for them this way.

  48. Ah yes, Hyperoffended-Americans. The very same people who scream that authors are wrongfully culturally appropriating other people’s stuff are the ones who scream loudest about internationally-loved American movies, TV, books, etc. being a clear case of cultural hegemony. (Which is evil, naturally — because to Hyperoffended-Americans, America is dogmatically the Land of the Irredeemably Evil.)

    Then at the end of the day, these same mental midgets stalk off to Whole Foods to fill their carts with sushi, lamb korma, baba ghanoush and tiramisu.

    Personally, I find their depth and breadth of cognitive dissonance hilarious.

    1. “Then at the end of the day, these same mental midgets stalk off to Whole Foods to fill their carts with sushi, lamb korma, baba ghanoush and tiramisu.”

      And then complain that their isn’t enough on their EBT card to make it through the month.

      A lot of their anger seems to be frustration that they haven’t gotten the recognition they think they deserve. They fill their unoriginal works with boring, pedantic lectures and faux moral outrage, and then wonder why they can’t make a living as an “artist” because no one will buy their work. They can’t seem to grasp the notion that it might be something wrong with them, so they instead conclude that it can only mean someone else is “keeping them down” and preventing the world from acknowledging how brilliant they are. Thus, they resort to arguments based on nebulous, irresolvable concepts like “privilege”, “patriarchy”, and “cultural appropriation”, because they have nothing else to point to that explains the world to their skewed satisfaction. Much of SJW ideology is basically a huge conspiracy theory.

      The apex of human achievement according to the Left and most progressives, is to be an artist of some sort. Thus, the Left values actors, singers, musicians, writers, etc. far more than they value soldiers, first responders, business leaders, even ordinary blue-collar workers. “Cultural Appropriation” is just the latest brain dead idea they’ve weaponized to explain why the world continues to deny them the adulation they crave. It won’t be the last.

      1. Sojis must go to bed each night gnashing their teeth that Captain America is an international movie success…

  49. I notice that the SJW twit wrote her article in English. Being of English descent, I am offended by her, and any other non-English SJW’s, appropriating my culture.

    Please point that out to these idiots from now on.

  50. From a counseling perspective, this is the general problem I find with most social justice attitudes. The overt goals almost always appear to be controlling others. However, other people are exactly what you and I can never control. Unfortunately, SJWs cannot accept this. Illustrated by how viciously and publicly SJWs attack their own, Which shows everyone the cost of stepping out of line.

    Our triggered author describes the speech as “a poisoned package wrapped up in arrogance and delivered with condescension.” The heartbreaking thing about this quote is how an educated woman fails to realize that her own stance is the true poisoned package. It not only affects writing and entertainment but scientific matters are ignored.

    The dark ages were a time when science and human development all but stopped due to the control of the Catholic church. All science had to conform to Church doctrine and if someone strayed the Church tried to kill him. In the present the SJWs must universally agree to any and all discussions and conclusions otherwise you are shamed/shunned if you are lucky or lose your career if you are not. I know of too many areas of scientific exploration in psychology that are consciously ignored because to even suggest exploration is essentially career suicide. In this field, even for students, endorsing anything other than the political left results in punishment.

    I used “heartbreaking” earlier because she has insulated herself so much there is no friend brave and/or close enough to explain the overarching effects of her ideas to her.

    1. I was with you ’til your ignorant repetition of ” Renaissance” and ” Enlightenment” propaganda re: the level of intellectual darkness in the medieval era.

      1. Yeah. Wasn’t there recent discussion about how the loss of classic knowledge was caused by ongoing wars of attrition by the Muslims over long periods of time? (Looking at a book on my shelf titled Mohammad and Charlemagne Revisited.)

        1. (Warning. Long winded post. Apologies. You just hit upon one of my pet topics of interest!)

          In part. For all that the Islamic world did manage to save some of the great classical works, they destroyed far more over the course of their conquests, religious purges, jihads, and general disdain for anything that wasn’t the Q’uran. (“If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them.” — Caliph Omar). Even so, it appears quite a lot still managed to survive in Constantinople right up to 1421, when the city was sacked and burned by the Turks (we know, for instance, that scholars still had access to Euripides now-lost plays as late as the 1350s).

          But I should also mention that Islam was hardly the only culprit. Some Christians, in their zeal, also had entire libraries burned and destroyed (the Serapeum in 391 and Charlemagne’s library of “pagan tales” in 814 come immediately to mind). And then there is the fact that many pagan groups disdained writing and went especially out of their way to destroy books whenever they found them (Norse myth, for instance, cast the inventor of writing as a villain with the appellation “the destroyer of memory”) (when Lindesfarne Abbey was sacked in 691, the Vikings held a bonfire and made sure every book they could find was set alight).

          And then there is the fact that copies of works in general were small by todays standards. Since there was no printing press, all literature had to be copied by hand. A bestseller like The Iliad only had, at most, a couple thousand copies made throughout the entire Roman period. Since that would be considered a “best seller”, you can imagine how many copies of lesser works like the Cypriad or the Melampodia were made through out that time (most people read their books in libraries, usually the ones attached to the public baths, tho the rich certainly had their own private copies). I read somewhere that it was estimated only about 100 copies of Livy’s complete Roman History (142 volumes) were ever made. Added to this are the materials used — papyrus and later parchment. Papyrus is made from dried leaves and will disintegrate readily in wet climates, but it was cheap and plentiful. Parchment, on the other hand, was made from sheepskin, and processing it into a usable form was a time consuming (and therefore, expensive) process. You can therefore imagine which material most books were made from.

          So, you have an entire literary tradition recorded on cheap, easily destroyable material, with each work having at most only a handful of copies (most probably >100 each) available on the entire continent. Add in a thousand years of constant warfare, earthquakes, storms, entropy, general neglect (“No one reads this old crap anymore. Throw it away!”), and the odd religious fanatic, and its a wonder anything survived at all.

          1. Yep. It just irks me when the general opinion is ‘it’s all the Christians’ fault for burning books!’ When it’s not.

            Also, speaking of cultural appropriation, Gutenberg was Roman Catholic, and the printing press was an invention of Catholics. Why are non-Catholics culturally appropriating Catholic inventions? /s

          2. While the Christians did a share of the destruction, they also played a huge part in the preservation of what remained. Note that most of the Middle East repositories of books that survived – including many ones that Islamic scholars used – were primarily run and curated not by Islamic groups but by various Nestorian Christian monasteries, which were still allowed to operate right up until almost modern times. Christian scholars in Byzantium also held fast, and were primarily responsible for the re-transmission of Aristotle and Plato to Western Europe (tho arguably, neither were ever truly out of circulation there, even during the darkest eras. However, Byzantium did help in securing more complete copies of otherwise fragmentary works).

            Plus, for every Bishop Theophilus wanting to destroy old books. there were ten St. Patricks or Bedes who sought to not only preserve but to seek out whatever else they could so it too could be saved. To say nothing of the many monasteries all over Europe with dusty old libraries. On the whole, I’d say Christian institutions probably saved more than they destroyed.

            But even so, we are today probably left with >1% of the entirety of the Greaco-Roman output of literature. A small sliver, really.

          3. 1421? In my timeline it was 1453 when the Turks roasted Constantinople.

            Do I have to adjust the timing belt on the ParallelTimeLineMobile again?!

          4. *quick google search*
            You’re right. Got the year wrong. No adjustments necessary. I plead sleep deprivation.

            1453 makes it doubly annoying, because the printing press had already been invented by then. Had the Turks not torched the libraries, a good deal more might have been disseminated when printing became more widespread in the coming years. As it was, the sudden wave of fleeing scholars into Western Europe were instrumental in rekindling interest in the classics. Some of them carried what old books they could, but sadly the vast majority of the collection (an “unorganized, unkempt, decaying mess”, according to one eyewitness) was left behind and were consigned to the flames.

          5. And before anyone says anything, I got the date of the Lindisfarne raid wrong as well. 793 was when the Vikings came.

        2. I’d argue with Henri Pirenne that it was the Moslem blockade, the cutting off the Mediterranean and the constant raiding by sea and land caused the Europeans to fight for their survival until the 11th centurt

  51. As a person of Northern European descent, I wonder where all these social justice warriors got the permission to appropriate MY culture? Who gave them permission to use cars, mass produced goods, mass produced books, computers, the internet, and all the advanced mathematics that make such things possible…? Who gave them permission to live in a society where their cities are clean and orderly and they’re not wallowing in their own filth? Who gave them permission to own a flush toilet?

      1. Don’t you understand? It was all invented by Africans and other indigenous peoples, and later stolen by the eeeeeevvvvviiiiiilllllll white men, who claimed it as their own!

  52. So, challenge for amusement:

    Come up with comedic titles for books an author could write without risking accusations of cultural appropriation. I’ll start:

    “My new life alone in the wilderness: an amnesiac hermit’s memoir”

    “Writing letters to myself: A Solipsist’s fantasies about his fantasies”

    “Stories from my other selves: an anthology of multicultural fiction by a multiple personality author”

  53. Stop Cultural Appropriation! Ban Italian food!
    Really, don’t these idiots realize that tomatoes were native to the Americas and Italy only developed their most popular dishes centuries after Columbus.

  54. Incidentally, Neil Gaiman’s upcoming book is a retelling of the old Norse myths and is titled “Norse Mythology”. A small number of people are already complaining about it.

    1. They also complained last year because one of his books was sarcastically titled “Trigger Warnings”.

      I believe Gaimen laughed all the way to the bank on that one.

  55. Here’s a “legalistic” position just to augment the thorough fisking that’s already out there.

    When the US Constitution was developed, everyone agreed that Congress could secure to authors and inventors the exclusive rights to their creations for set periods of time if certain conditions were met. These turned out to be things like patents and copyrights, commonly known as “intellectual property.”

    In order to assure that society did not stagnate and ossify due to those rights being hoarded and kept secret, however, the knowledge was made public through public filings and, once the protection periods ended, the knowledge passed into the “public domain” where anyone could use it and society progressed. This is the foundation of a successful modern society: new techniques and processes become incorporated into the society so it can go on to create more useful things.

    Intellectual property protections do not, however, apply to ideas, concepts, and things in common usage. This is because there’s no particular thing to protect in those circumstances. They have to be reduced to a specific, determinable and reviewable implementation and then registered appropriately. One cannot just say “I thought of letting my hair grow unchecked and unwashed until it becomes all nappy therefore I own the idea and everyone who tries it has to pay me money.” Nobody owns ideas or raw concepts. Nobody owns processes or practices that have been known for hundreds of years. They’re all in the public domain.

    Now if someone came up with a new, innovative or different product to accelerate the process or create some new result of the process, then that might be subject to protection.

    Until then: welcome to the public domain. Get over it and move on.

  56. How does one “diversity” without “appropriating”??? They love to mop themselves into corners, don’t they?

    1. You have put more thought into it than they have.
      When they do it, it’s “diversity”, “being well rounded”, or “cosmopolitan”- especially when they get back from a two week trip to some foreign country.
      But when you do it, now it’s “cultural appropriation”. Even if you are both doing the exact same thing.

    2. No, they love to mop YOU into a corner. THEY are on the side of the Angels, so when THEY are doing it, it’s OK (because they do it with taste and decorum… and to help the unfortunate people (whether they are asked for such help or not)). Until, of course, they step over some invisible line, piss off the wrong person, or say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Then their fellow SJWs fall upon them with fang and knife (figuratively, of course) and they find themselves OTHERED. Just as there is no honor among thieves, there is also none to be found among the SocialBetterFolken.

  57. I’m going to go with noted cis-het white male and purveyor of unallowed words for this.

    Mark Twain:
    “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

    1. Then as an author you probably aren’t big on giving physical descriptions of any characters.

      Big whoop.

      Though why wouldn’t you describe a character as Asian? Or Black? It is the same as you’d describe them as having red hair, or being tall, or fat, or whatever other things you use to keep your characters from being bland card board cut outs.

      Failing to describe fundamentals about a character is fine if the character doesn’t matter that much. Otherwise it is isn’t brave, it is lazy.

  58. We appropriated Christianity from the middle east. (Considers Europe’s preChristian history). Do the really want us to go back to THOSE values but with tanks, cruise missiles and nukes?

  59. Man this is so weird. Especially if you think a bit longer about the fact that they include ‘traditional medicine’ in their list of cultural appropriation. So if I’m sick and there’s a traditional medicine that seems to be effective, I should stay sick because else I would be a racist? These people are borderline insane.

  60. What you really can’t help but to notice with this sort of thing is that no one ever complains about how people have used Irish culture as an excuse to get drunk for decades.

    It’s much like how Rowling’s been attacked for her use of Native American mythology. Bastardizing mythology has long been a staple of fantasy fiction. But let’s dogpile a British author who isn’t aware of American attitude for doing that exact same thing with a culture that’s deemed arbitrarily off-limits (if you’re not one of the cool kids, of course)!

    1. Most “alien” thing I saw in Europe was the display of skeletons from ancient graves. Here in the US, the land with no government imposed religion, by law we have to hand pre-Columbian remains over to the shamans of tribes who weren’t there when the people died, who may be the descendants of their direst enemies, and never, ever, ever display them where a white man might learn something.

      Between that and the way Islam is getting feted around the country, it’s like some people think the bar on government establishing a church only applies to some variant of Christianity.

  61. Hm. So I suppose one of the stories I’m working on that includes a group of Sikhs who have a reputation for killing evil Mages in a bad part of town would be cultural appropriation?

    Excellent! I must now keep writing!

    1. Absolutely! You are exploiting imaginary People of Magery and their make-believe culture! I must speak out for those who have no voice, because, um, they… don’t exist…

  62. Our greatest literature is cultural appropriation. Example: Shakespeare appropriated from Greek, Roman, Italian, Scandinavian and a score of other cultural traditions. SJWs are nothing but Vandals whose tradition of smashing what they were incapable of eating or screwing they have appropriated.

  63. My religion was appropriated into a mocking, hate-filled hit Broadway musical. How did my church react? By buying ad space in the programs. “You’ve seen the play, now read the book.” “The book is always better.” And with a public statement about freedom of expression.

  64. Are you firmly opposed to Cultural Appropriation? Yes?
    Were you born near the Nile, the Indus, or the Fertile Crescent? No?

    No rule of law for you.

    1. For the hard-Left wowser, this is not a bug but a feature. They don’t believe in the rule of law. Not only do they believe it doesn’t exist, they believe it can’t exist – that laws are merely a fig-leaf for raw oppression and exploitation. And they believe it shouldn’t exist – having inherited Marx’s daft idea that in the socialist Utopia, there is no law, only Plan.

      This also explains why they keep passing laws to command people to do things that cannot be done. They don’t view their edicts as laws, but as the compulsory directives of the almighty Plan, to which reality itself must bow.

      1. I live in Seattle, so… well aware of the inherent insanity. But this line allows many followups on a -personal- level.

        They become openly frothing when confronted with Catch-22s between their belief system and some concrete, immediate impediment.

        1. Ah, that proves that they have been insufficiently indoctrinated. The correct answer to ‘You use X! You’re guilty of cultural appropriation yourself!’ is: ‘The Man forced me to use X! It’s cultural imperialism! It’s his fault, not mine, and the world would be so bucolic and perfect if The Man hadn’t contaminated us all with his Evil Western Ways!’

          Once a mind has been properly trained in this particular method of doublethink, no information can ever gain admittance again to disturb the complacency of its prejudices.

  65. These sjws are like the old Puritans, branding the letter A in some ones forehead.
    Only stupider, with even less justification, other than the pomo delusion of critical theory…which comes down to “because I said so” (dub in ShriekingYaleGirl).

    Chasing imaginary Pokemon on a itty-bitty screen is a more valid intellectual exercise.
    Keep fighting the good fight, Mr Correia. I’m going to Amazon store now, by way of thank you. Oh, Sara Hoyt, too? Doubleplus good!


  66. With the Lionel Shiver controversy, I also had the question of how an SJW could call foul on an author for appropriation if ze/hir/zit wasn’t of the appropriated culture or race or whatever itself. Surely, that is the worst appropriation of all, championing another culture without “permission.”

  67. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I write children’s books and have felt like my hands were tied due to the constant bombardment of “you can’t write that.” So sick of it all.

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