Thursday, November 03, 2011

If crucifixion is so bad for you

why did Christ do it?
blood on the tracks


Benjamin Ady said...

maybe it was that whole promised nearly instantaneous resurrection thing. Or maybe he just finally pissed off too many of the wrong people, and he didn't really have any choice

Martin said...

1. Yes of course He did piss off too many of the wrong people. No surprise there to anybody.
2. What do you mean by "really" in "didn't really have any choice." I think you mean He would have made a different choice if He could have. But what would be "in it" for Him, or, why?
3. Would resurrection "make up" for the crucifixion?

You are making up a slightly different story - no harm there.

My point, if I had one, could have been: it might not be so bad to die for a reason; as opposed to, I imagine, living for no reason.

Benjamin Ady said...

By "really", I meant the story that I was told was that he had a choice--that he had power available to him of such magnitude that he could have chosen not to be crucified, and that maybe that story isn't the real deal, and that the real deal is he didn't have such power, that he couldn't really have called 12 legions of angels to save his ass.

I think it would be easier to die for a cause, even die by torture, if you knew for sure you were going to be resurrected with super powers in a couple days. Of course the super powers thing he supposedly already had. They seem to have advanced a bit after the resurrection, somehow.

don't know if I buy the "better to die for a reason than live for no reason". I think I prefer "better to switch from living for no reason to living for a reason."

which is to say, in the popular story, in Cassie Bernall's position, I'd be looking for the answer that would keep me from getting shot, rather than an answer based on any conviction I held. I'm fairly happy to make believe anything, momentarily, to avoid death. Or crucifixion for that matter. That may be because I hold the perpetrator of the violence in a bit of contempt.

Martin said...

I looked up the "Cassie" reference. Sad.
I have no problem with lying to prevent murder. But living a lie is a waste of a perfectly good life.

Martin said...

You are saying that he may have regretted the crucifixion ... because of the pain involved? I assume he was used to ridicule. Where, in the story, would you place the turning point, or would it be a gradually increasing foreboding.

Benjamin Ady said...

That's a great question. It would be interesting to write a (nother?) fictional account of the events, with this question as central.

"regret" is an interesting way of putting it.

I'm operating on the assumption that he didn't rise from the dead, and "regret" doesn't really work for me. I would say rather "would have greatly preferred a less painful and less early death."

That does feel like a large tweaking of the story as told. Maybe he was just profoundly driven--like Steve Jobs?

Maybe you're right. Maybe crucifixion isn't necessarily bad for one. Maybe it's perfect. But if you posit the possibility that it's perfect, then I hold that you must then be willing to allow the possibility that everything is perfect, and hence there is no sin in the traditional sense.

Martin said...

I think you are "begging the question" in the old fashioned and only correct sense of begging the question. (Isn't that wonderful - to have a real life and in the wild example of begging the question?) Your argument is
1. Ok maybe crucifixion is perfect.
2. In that case, everything is perfect.
(3. Because [I imagine that you argue] isn't it obvious that crucifixion is so bad.)

I like all your angles, but just started here because of my interest in the phrase: "begging the question". The more recent, and incorrect, use of BTQ is as if it meant "raises the question": If we have global warming that begs the question: why was this winter so cold". In this usage, a question follows the phrase BTQ.

The original use was to identify a logical error in the argument over an issue (or a "question" to be debated) that went like this:
We know kings are bad because we have always had kings and they were so bad. Admit it. Come on you know its true, in your heart of hearts.

Martin said...

You say:
But if you posit the possibility that it's perfect, then I hold that you must then be willing to allow the possibility that everything is perfect, and hence [allow the possibility] there is no sin in the traditional sense.
I can allow the possibility that there is no sin in the traditional sense. One definition of sin is an offense against god. All one has to say is that god is not offended. It doesn't matter what we do because 1) we don't matter, or 2) what we do makes no difference.
But these are different stories, the nicest of which is "that nothing we do matters". I think that the French "absurd" school thought this, but recommended that we act well anyway, as if what we do does matter.

Martin said...

There is something less controversial at work here.People have always held it was great
1) to die for your country.
2) or for your faith - like
Joan of Arc, or Maxmillian Kolbe
or "on the installment plan" like
Mother Teresa or St Francis
Jesus, not Steven, was the first martyr.

Benjamin Ady said...

There's a big difference, in my mind, between Jesus and Stephen on the one hand, and Mother Theresa on the other. Only in that Mother Theresa didn't really seem to piss anyone off.

I don't think traditionally the peace churches would have held that it was great to die for your country.

Dying for your country in the commonly accepted sense is bullshit. I don't think you can intend to or actually kill for your country, and then legitimately claim that dying for your country is somehow noble or good.

But back to the former thing. I actually wasn't saying part 3.

That is, I think "perfect" and "bad" are arbitrary judgments that we attach to things for whatever reasons we choose. And I've decided to believe that people always choose these judgments for the best of motives.

I want to question the original implication that something is good because Jesus did it. Do you believe that things are necessarily good because Jesus did them? If so, why?

I like your explanation of begging the question. thank you.

Martin said...

Thanks for your comments. You seem to always manage a compliment in there.

I would like to find a better format than this for discussing topics. Something more like a mind-map. Have you seen those? Oh well, press on.

01. You didn't say what difference you were thinking about between Jesus and Mother Teresa, unless it was that she didn't upset people.

02. I agree, peace churches and others do not think it is good to join the military and "follow orders".

03. You say that you believe that people do things with the best of motives. Does this means that people believe that they are innocent, that they never did anything wrong. Or else if they did something a tiny bit wrong, it was for a good reason.
You seem to be saying "well maybe everyone is actually ok." I'm ok you're ok.

04. Yes I believe that everything fairy tale Jesus did was good, and if I could only be like Him, I would be happy. Unfortunately, so far it is not going so well, although I have everything going for me.

Martin said...

03.01 OOPS Re 03:
You actually said that the judgments of perfect or bad were made for the best of motives, not that everything we do is done for the best of motives. Looking for prior uses of "perfect" or "bad".

Benjamin Ady said...

I want to go back to the sin as offense against God, and whether what we do matters.

I think it's hard for us to discuss, 'cause I don't really believe in God. A god who's offendable seems less ideal to me than a god who's not offendable.

I don't think we need god or sin for what we do to matter. I would ask "matter to whom?". And I would answer "matter to me". That is, if what I do matters to me, then I'm not much bothered whether it matters to others, including God. And what I do does matter to me.

I like it that you said if you could only be like Jesus, you would be happy. Are you able to quantify that any further?

I mean, is there a foreseeable point when your likeness to Jesus will allow you to be happy? Is it quantifiable? Like a percentage? Like "Now I'm 47% like Jesus, and when I'm 87% like him, then I'll allow myself to be happy.". And do you have a system worked out for operationalizing that? Is it about actions? attitudes? I mean do you have a vision for what it would look like to be exactly like Jesus tomorrow, and thus have permission from yourself to be happy? Or is it a time based thing? "If I'm at least 90% like Jesus for at least 2 weeks, then I'll give myself permission to be happy?"

I'm so curious.

I think Thomas Jefferson agrees with you at some level--I think he called Jesus the ultimate paradigm of ethics, or something like that. I'm not such a fan myself. Jesus feels too far away in time and culture for me to wrap my head around the idea of him being a great paradigm of "good". If I were going to choose such paradigms, I'd choose closer ones that felt more approachable, in a practical sense.

I tried out the mind map thing a bit. I prefer this forum. But here

Martin said...

05 sin as offense against God:
Assuming God, and assuming God created man with free will, sin only means that God gave man the ability to do things that God would not do, or that He created a world in which error was possible, and sin are those errors.
It envisions a world in which man's choices can make a difference on a larger stage.
I think that we all accept that man's choices make a difference on the smaller stage of everyday life: that some things are bad and mankind has organized police departments to try to stop a fraction of those bad things from happening.

I suppose that the idea of sin is not to say that some things are wrong - humans accept that; it is to say that those wrong things have larger effects.

Martin said...

06. Happiness
Nope I don't see the path nor know where I am.

Jesus is one guess, as I can be happy in some spiritual settings. Best guess is counter=cultural, as it naturally creates community.

07 Crucifixion. Going back to the crucifixion thread, it might be a statement: I would rather die than be like you - possibly the ultimate in superiority and contempt, although not what we are told was His mind set.

Benjamin Ady said...

05. Sin as offense against God. (Ha. My computer thinks I should spell it "offence". Silly Brits and Aussies.)

Hmmmmm. "sin" as meaning it has effects in a larger sense. yes, that makes sense to me. Perhaps the efficacy of believing in that is for people who feel like victims to think they can be sure than someday, on some larger stage, things will be evened out somehow.

I like the idea that things will be fixed up and evened out someday. I just don't need the idea "sin" in order to believe that idea.

I'm okay with it in the sense of "we didn't reach the goal we had in mind". I just don't like it in the sense that "not reaching the goal we had in mind is a bad thing". I'd prefer to say "not reaching the goal we had in mind is perfect and rocks." I prefer the latter because I feel happier in response to it than I feel in response to the former.

I think the idea of sin in the former sense generates a lot of misery. Although I also think the misery itself is perfect and rocks. This latter idea makes me giggle with delight.

06. Happiness. I love it that are sometimes happy in some spiritual settings. what is it about those settings that leads to you allowing yourself to be happy there?

I'm confused between 04. and 07 You said you believe everything fairy tale Jesus did was good, but then you said maybe his crucifixion was a statement he was making about how superior he was, combined with contempt.

So do you actually switch back and forth between believing everything he did was good, and not believing that?

He definitely doesn't seem to come across that way to me, with contempt and superiority. Quite the opposite.

Martin said...

re your 04 vs 07.
I said "not what we are told was His mind set." The gospels do not say that Jesus felt contempt for His killers, and I did not mean to raise that issue.
I meant that some unnamed people might allow themselves to be shot while feeling contempt for the people who ordered the firing squad; one might feel contempt while being killed, even while refusing to sign a confession.

Martin said...

You say: "And I've decided to believe that people always choose these judgments for the best of motives."
We know that people's judgement can be deformed through self-interest. What do you think about self-interest, know that it supported slavery, for one example.

Is "deciding to believe" another way of saying "I have jumped to the conclusion"?

Re 06- What is it: I will think about that.

Benjamin Ady said...

re: 06--glad you're thinking about it =).

Ah I see what you mean about contempt upon being killed. This makes me ask myself "For whom do I currently feel contempt?". The first answer to spring into my mind is "The church in which I grew up.". But when I further ask myself "So do I actually feel contempt for them?", I answer myself "Hmmmmmm. I seem to walk a fine line between feeling contempt, and simply wanting to challenge. It seems to me that I might feel a *generalized* contempt, but when it comes to specific interactions with specific people from that group, I'm better at doing non-judgmental curiosity rather than contempt."

I see I got a bit off topic there, somehow =)

re: judgments and motives and self-interest and slavery.

I believe everyone is always doing everything they do out of self interest, and that self interest is ultimately the most noble of motives. That is, I love you because I find that loving people is the best thing for me. I believe those who are the most loving, most enlightened, most giving, most open, most all the things I admire, are those who have perfected self-interest. They do all these things because they've decided that doing them is the way they feel happiest.

Slavery ultimately worked out to not be in the best interest of the slave owners, somehow, it seems to me. The old south is currently one of the worst areas in the U.S. to live in. However, I would posit that even the worst slave-owners were always doing the best the could inside their circumstances and set of beliefs. I think often people do much better when they are able to see as a legitimate option a different and better set of beliefs. But a lot of people never get a chance to have that presented to them in a way that they can embrace. I would say people's beliefs and judgments (and judgments are a powerful subset of beliefs) are deformed not by self-interest, but rather by lack of self-interest. They are never given, and never give themselves, the change to fully love themselves and thus to be fully able to love others.

You asked "Is "deciding to believe" another way of saying "I have jumped to the conclusion"? "

"conclusion" throws me off here. It's never a conclusion in the sense that I've permanently stopped there. it's more of a way-point. But the jumping part works for me. If I observe/notice a new possible belief which is more appealing to me than my current belief, I'm quite happy to jump to that new belief, if I want to.

Martin said...

03. Everyone is always acting out of self-interest.

03A Priorities: That is the word I use that seems most related to your idea of self-interest.
People have priorities and act according to their priorities.

Martin said...

You say: "I believe everyone is always doing everything they do out of self interest, and that self interest is ultimately the most noble of motives."

If it is the only motive, it is of necessity the most (any adjective here) motive: the most noble and also the most horrid.

Martin said...

Your slavery post is quite kind hearted.

(The slave owners felt free to be mean to their slaves, saying "If they would just do what they are told, I would not have to be so bossy.")

I think you mean that "people's judgements are deformed" by a deformed self-interest,
or, in my terms, by deformed priorities where concern for one's own peace and prosperity was more important that protecting those headed for slaughter.

I feel 06 coming over the horizon.

Benjamin Ady said...

03 and 03a. Yes this works for me.

thanks for pointing out the way my language works out so that any adjective fits in there.

When you speak of the way slave owners were mean to their slaves, it reminds me of the way I'm mean to my children, with that "If they would just do what they were told, I wouldn't have to be so bossy."

I find that I'm most able to change this behavior when I stop judging it so harshly. When I judge it harshly, that judgment drives me to more of the behavior. Maybe that's why I go for the kindness which you noticed---in the hope that such kindness will decrease the behavior.

Although this makes me think of Harriet Beecher Stowe, and makes me wonder if the best solution for unkind behavior is in many cases lots and lots of exposure, rather than mere kindness. Now I feel confused about this.

Oh--this: When I'm judging my "bad" behavior harshly, I'm less likely to expose it openly, and also less likely to change it to better behavior.