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[P]
The Shockwaves of Sumatra

By adimovk5 in Op-Ed
Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 05:52:10 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

The Indian Ocean earthquake of December 2004 produced a shockwave that created tsunamis all across the Indian Ocean. The tsunamis hammered nearby Indonesia and struck as far as the coast of East Africa. The death toll has climbed over 100,000 and continues to grow.

It also created social shockwaves.


Why doesn't the Indian Ocean have a tsunami warning system?

Accusations abound that a warning system would have saved lives.

Prior to the December 2004 tsunamis there wasn't a pressing need for one. The deadliest tsunami on the Indian Ocean was one that killed 1,543 on the Arabian Sea in 1819. More recently tsunamis had struck India in 1988 and 1998 killing 3 and 2, respectively. Defending the costs of deploying a system before December 2004 would have been difficult. In the Pacific, tsunamis are frequent and many lives were lost in many incidents before the tsunami warning system was established. Tsunami hazards also exist in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Black Seas but no systems have been developed there either.

While the loss of lives is tragic it must be remembered that tsunamigenic earthquakes are rare in the Indian Ocean. Now an Indian Ocean system will probably be deployed, but it will probably be decades before the next major Indian Ocean tsunami. With the gaps between disasters, people will grow complacent and begin to ignore drills and warnings. The population will be even higher and denser and a similar earthquake will yield a death toll that will dwarf this one. Indonesia would have been caught by surprise even with a warning system in this case since the hypocenter was so close. However, the local governments could have reacted faster and the surrounded countries such as India and Sri Lanka would have ample warning.

The most effective improvement would be from communication changes. The existing warning and alert systems are not connected. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii knew about the earthquake almost immediately and issued a safety bulletin to its 26 member countries, but there was confusion about who to contact beyond the organization. Alerts such as this should go out laterally and vertically.

  1. All members of the network.
  2. All members of related networks. (e.g. other tsunami centers)
  3. All national disaster centers.
  4. All national governments.
  5. All international aid organizations.
Within minutes evacuations could begin and aid could begin flowing to disaster locations. There doesn't need to be a single all encompassing organization. Independent organizations would evolve faster and react quicker. Rapid communication is the key to abating disasters.

Why is the United States so stingy?

The Norwegian UN Undersecretary in charge of UN emergency relief coordination, Jan Egeland, ignited a firestorm when he accused the world's richest nations of being too stingy. "If a country donates 0.1 or 0.2 percent of GDP in foreign aid, I don't think that is particularly generous." The reaction of President George Bush was to attack Egeland's claim and declare that the US figures were only initial donations. The New York Times agreed with Egeland in an editorial that compared US donations to US expenditures in other areas.

There are different ways to measure the generosity of a country. If you measure the absolute amount of donations the United States has given, the United States has given more and more often than any other nation in the world. Since World War II, the US has been a major contributor to the recovery of almost every major disaster in the world. If you measure in terms of percentage of GNP, the apparent generosity of the US falls dramatically. As a percentage, several Western countries surpass the United States. As nations vie to be the top donor, the amount the US sends in terms of GNP will continue to pale by comparison.

No one is asking why predominately Muslim Indonesia isn't receiving billions of dollars from the oil rich Muslim governments of the Middle East. So far only a few of the governments have collectively pledged $22 million.

Those measures count only the amounts donated by governments. Most countries expect their government to worry about crisis around the world. Americans don't. They expect their government to use their tax dollars for Americans. American citizens donate to charities through which they channel funds to world causes. Reacting to the news of the disaster, Americans immediately began forming specific charities for the relief effort and developing new ways to donate to existing charities. Other Americans began filling those charities with donations. Existing charities also began sending relief to stricken areas. Corporations began providing goods.

If all the charity contributed by private citizens and corporations is added, American generosity dwarfs that of the government. Unfortunately, no tracking system exists that captures every donation that Americans make. Tracking the donations of government and large charities is easier, but leaves out efforts in small towns and organizations across the US.

Instead of racing to match donations, the government of the United States should limit its contributions to logistics, transportation, and infrastructure. No other nation is able to move goods and services to disaster areas like the United States can. No other nation has the capability to rebuild quickly in distant lands like the US. These contributions are often overlooked though they enable the contributions of other countries to get to their intended targets. Americans provide search-and-rescue units, airlift and sealift. They provide vehicles, power generators, fresh water, and water purifiers. US troops also provide protection when local law enforcement needs assistance. Others might contribute some of these things but not on the scale or breadth of the US.

Financial aid given by the government of the United States should only be loans that support the long term interests of the United States. A government that can't pass a balanced budget and is trillions of dollars in debt shouldn't be giving gifts of millions of dollars to anyone. The US government should leave financial charity to its citizens.

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Poll
Who should give?
o Government only 0%
o Mainly government plus private 47%
o Mainly private plus government 33%
o Private only 19%

Votes: 63
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Indian Ocean earthquake of December 2004
o deadliest tsunami
o tsunami warning system
o tsunamigen ic
o hypocenter
o Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
o "If a country donates 0.1 or 0.2 percent of GDP in foreign aid, I don't think that is particularly generous."
o nations vie to be the top donor
o a few of the governments
o developing new ways to donate
o filling those charities with donations
o Corporatio ns
o private citizens and corporations
o No other nation
o search-and -rescue
o airlift
o sealift
o leave financial charity to its citizens
o Also by adimovk5


Display: Sort:
The Shockwaves of Sumatra | 227 comments (202 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
I find it very interesting (2.76 / 13) (#3)
by mcc on Sat Jan 01, 2005 at 03:14:37 PM EST

That both in the general media and in the "blogosphere", I have heard several orders of magnitude more noise about the appropriateness of the level of U.S. contributions to the disaster from the people attacking the idea the U.S. should donate more money than I have from the people claiming the U.S. should donate more money.

What does this say?

interesting (2.81 / 11) (#16)
by adimovk5 on Sat Jan 01, 2005 at 09:34:55 PM EST

I have a problem with the US government directly donating money. How much is enough? And how does the government decide? I have no problem with Americans donating every penny in their pockets as long as its from their own pockets. Each person can easily decide for himself how much to give. If that amount falls short of what someone else thinks is enough, so what?

I think taxpayer money should support government operations not charity work. Look at the outpouring of charity following 9/11. People will give if the government gets out of the way. The government should limit itself to doing those things that it does more efficently than individuals - such as getting the donations to the right spot in a timely manner.

[ Parent ]

it says ... (1.42 / 7) (#19)
by forgotten on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 03:50:46 AM EST

... don't use the word "blogosphere". it just brings you down to their level.

--

[ Parent ]

actually, kuro5hin is the bottom of the barrel. (1.18 / 11) (#27)
by the ghost of rmg on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 11:22:08 AM EST

there is nothing worse on the internet right now. not livejournal, not fark, not slashdot. this, right here, is as low as it goes -- precisely because of people like yourself, no less.

blogs are fountains of enlightenment and decorum compared to this sorry place. kuro5hin is nothing but an oozing abscess in the internet.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]

IAWTPnt (1.66 / 3) (#45)
by forgotten on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 07:13:22 PM EST


--

[ Parent ]

Now ask yourself honestly. (1.83 / 6) (#33)
by mcc on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 02:39:37 PM EST

What other name does it deserve?

[ Parent ]
oh thats easy (1.14 / 7) (#36)
by Your Moms Cock on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 03:10:18 PM EST

bit-bucket, garbage pail. i have 0'd you.


--
Mountain Dew cans. Cat hair. Comic book posters. Living with the folks. Are these our future leaders, our intellectual supermen?

[ Parent ]
Well now. (1.66 / 3) (#38)
by mcc on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 04:03:11 PM EST

That isn't a nice thing to say about other people, is it?

[ Parent ]
not sure really (2.00 / 4) (#46)
by forgotten on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 07:16:35 PM EST

i'm thinking on it. "wank-o-sphere", whilst accurate, probably won't be widely picked up.

--

[ Parent ]

what is it (1.00 / 2) (#80)
by mpalczew on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 03:02:50 PM EST

Well since it is an imaginary construct. . .

You could just call it blogs.
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]

No shit (2.40 / 5) (#29)
by ucblockhead on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 12:05:55 PM EST

Note how the story in the queue containing a donation link dropped like a stone.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
does anyone else hate that word too? (1.66 / 3) (#59)
by Mindcrym on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 01:37:23 AM EST

Blogosphere sounds like something Bush would spew forth in a misguided attempt to sound tech savvy.  Perhaps all blogs could be placed on one of the internets so that they wouldn't clutter the rest of the webosphere.

 -Mindcrym

[ Parent ]

yeah, RTOCBPYFR (1.50 / 4) (#64)
by NaCh0 on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 04:12:43 AM EST

Read the other comments before posting you fucking retard.

--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
[ Parent ]
Cultivated whining (2.50 / 2) (#106)
by Confusion on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 04:29:58 AM EST

Of course it was fairly predictable that numerous people would start whining about the use of the word 'blogosphere'. Usually it's the same people that I've first seen using the word, but that develop a sudden dislike when it becomes a popular notion. The word was coined and spread by people like you and me. Elitist as we are, we started to dislike it as its meaning slightly altered through popularisation. I can perfectly understand your dislike of the word, but the original meaning is still there as well. The exact meaning depends on who is using it and when it is you or me, whining about the downfall of the word is inappropriate.
--
Any resemblance between the above and reality is purely coincidental.
[ Parent ]
wow, you really hate muslims don't yah, cracker? (1.08 / 12) (#14)
by DominantParadigm on Sat Jan 01, 2005 at 09:11:46 PM EST

claim predominantely Muslim countries donated nothing, then when your incorrect view is corrected, bitch that they didn't donate enough! Hello Hypocriticus, thyne name is teh adimovk5!

Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


Nice try (2.00 / 2) (#15)
by adimovk5 on Sat Jan 01, 2005 at 09:24:41 PM EST

It was a typo. It would be easy for the OPEC nations to contribute millions. I meant to say billions. I was pointing out that a very Muslim country was being aided by non-Muslim nations which refutes the argument that the US and its allies are waging war against all Muslims. If that were the case, the US would ignore the plight of Indonesia. I thought it was clear when I emphasized Muslim oil rich and not just oil rich. Nowhere do I suggest that Muslim countries should not receive aid. Muslims are just as human as Americans.

[ Parent ]
Some of them? (2.33 / 3) (#40)
by levesque on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 06:13:20 PM EST

It would be easy for the OPEC nations to contribute millions.

I don't think they (Non elected authority) have any money to give unless they can refinance the country's debt.

[ Parent ]

Generosity (2.00 / 12) (#17)
by b1t r0t on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 02:07:59 AM EST

Most countries expect their government to worry about crisis around the world. Americans don't. They expect their government to use their tax dollars for Americans.

Do you want to know why? Think for a moment about how many other governments helped us out during any of the three Florida hurricanes this year. So the rest of the world says gimme gimme gimme, but when things are the other way around, they're nowhere to be seen?

-- Indymedia: the fanfiction.net of journalism.

Fair point on the hurricanes (2.25 / 4) (#18)
by monkeymind on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 02:46:23 AM EST

But one question, did the US ask for aid? Not that I remember.

I believe in Karma. That means I can do bad things to people and assume the deserve it.
[ Parent ]

Sigh (1.00 / 3) (#77)
by flippy on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 12:06:09 PM EST

Way to miss the point stupid.

Flippy

[ Parent ]

So please (none / 0) (#185)
by monkeymind on Fri Jan 07, 2005 at 06:41:18 AM EST

Tell what the point is?

I believe in Karma. That means I can do bad things to people and assume the deserve it.
[ Parent ]

You do realize that... (2.50 / 4) (#65)
by taste on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 04:30:00 AM EST

the US was pretty much prepared for the whole hurricane event, and casualty was at a bare minimum.

These countries on the other hand are mostly third world and barely have enough money to provide comfort living for the citizens, much less invest in a high tech alert system to watch out for a quake that has never happened in several decades.

[ Parent ]

U.S.. policy is to refuse foreign aid (2.50 / 2) (#88)
by massivefubar on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 05:35:55 PM EST

It comes with strings attached, you know. Cuba regularly offers foreign aid to the U.S. I know that we were offered aid for the West Nile Virus that hit here in 2002. The U.S. just as regularly refuses.

India is refusing U.S. aid for the tsunami disaster and is itself sending aid to Sri Lanka. Wealthy countries who consider themselves major players on the world stage want to be in the position of power rather than in the position of the beggar.

Many nations would have been happy to help out in Florida if only for the publicity value. Would you honestly prefer that the United States be indebted to foreign powers?

[ Parent ]

Nothing to do with the strings (1.40 / 5) (#93)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 06:59:59 PM EST

The US refuses foreign aid offers because they are made as PR stunts, not honest offers to help.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]
all aid is PR stunt or geopolitical power play (2.50 / 2) (#98)
by massivefubar on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 09:20:37 PM EST

India and the U.S. are having it out right now over our role in this matter and our "intrusion" into India's sphere of influence: US-India struggle for control in disaster zone

An earlier story told how aid from Israel has been rejected by some areas involved in the disaster.

Where nations can afford to reject aid, they will; even when they can't afford to reject the aid, they often resent being in the position of beggar.

Aid is given not because nations and politicians are benevolent entities, but so that nations and politicians can score points off each other and enhance their own power. We hope to gain a propaganda victory by promising lots of aid and possibly even delivering some of it, although it is highly unlikely that all of these pledges will be honored.

I don't see how anyone who remembers the 911 aid scandals can believe that aid is about honestly wanting to help anyone. It is about buying influence and about giving one's cronies an opportunity to skim. If anyone is helped, it is pretty close to coincidental.

[ Parent ]

oh, please. (2.50 / 2) (#99)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 09:33:59 PM EST

Where nations can afford to reject aid, they will; even when they can't afford to reject the aid, they often resent being in the position of beggar.

This is true.

Aid is given not because nations and politicians are benevolent entities, but so that nations and politicians can score points off each other and enhance their own power.

This is not. While that may have something to do with why Cuba offers aid to the US, or why the UN requires $75,000 toyotas to roll around in, it does not explain why Americans have donated over 12 million to the ARC in the past 2 weeks to help with the crisis. Nor was it France that Bush was worried about when he upped his aid package to 350 million - it was US voters.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

You're both right (none / 0) (#116)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 11:57:42 AM EST

The US government is like any other government; it has its own reasons for giving that have little to do with generousity. However, the American people are quite willing to give to people in need, with no strings attached.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
agreed NT (none / 0) (#123)
by massivefubar on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 02:12:37 PM EST

.

[ Parent ]
me, too. (NT) (none / 0) (#124)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 02:15:52 PM EST



Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]
You may one good point (2.40 / 10) (#20)
by forgotten on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 03:59:26 AM EST

i agree with your argument about infrastructure.

Prediction: you will see over the next weeks many articles about food being stolen, food being undelivered, food going bad on docks, food unable to be shipped where it is needed.

huge dollar amounts sound good, and make good headlines, but trucks, airplanes, and most importantly, operational experience, counts for a lot in disaster areas. thats where the us govt needs to take the leading role.

--

What goes around, comes around (2.29 / 17) (#21)
by Wiggy on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 08:34:38 AM EST

I believe in karma. I really do.

Not only does the Indian Ocean not have a Tsunami warning system, but neither does the Atlantic.

And that is going to be a big problem one day. It's not like this is a big secret or anything.

A 1km-high wave is going to speed towards the US and completely obliterate the entire Eastern seaboard. In the same way that the US is being stingy to the victims of the current catastrophe, I wonder how many will race to the US' aid when the whole of New York, Washington, Florida, the whole Eastern Seaboard no longer exists.

This is not a theory. It's going to happen. It could happen tomorrow. It might be worth USians asking their politicians what they plan to do about it.

Mini-me

Yes, yes. (2.75 / 4) (#22)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 08:58:20 AM EST

Tsunamis, asteroids, plagues, one of them is bound to happen. In the meantime we waste our tax dollars on welfare and social security. How foolish can we be?

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]
If by 'welfare and social security' (2.50 / 12) (#25)
by JohnnyCannuk on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 10:27:03 AM EST

...you mean the military and the military corporate welfare bums supporting the useless missle defense plans, than I completely agree with you.

Otherwise, you don't know what your talking about...


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Perhaps you should check (2.40 / 5) (#34)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 02:43:12 PM EST

on where the money actually goes in most country's budgets - and I include the US in this.

Admittedly, in the US they play games with using "off budget emergency spending" that make the military budget seem smaller than it really is - but paying the debt is still the biggest item by far, followed by social security, medicare and medicaid and then comes the military.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

Perhaps YOU should check.... (2.60 / 5) (#56)
by felixrayman on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 12:39:27 AM EST

You are lying again. Interest on the debt was 153 billion in 2004 (according to whitehouse.gov). Defense spending was 388 billion. I hate to have to spell things out for you, but according to past experience, I do, so:

388 billion is a much larger number than 153 billion.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]

Interesting accusation. (2.33 / 3) (#61)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 02:01:00 AM EST

From the 2004 budget (table S-12):
  • On budget deficit: 536 billion.
  • Social Security: 470 billion.
  • Medicare & Medicaid: 411 billion.
  • Defense Spending: 388 billion.
"Net Interest:" 153 billion.

Is that the number you were referring to? I suppose we could argue whether "net interest" is the only relevant part of this.

Okay, so I'll concede that paying the debt is (by your definition) only 153 billion per year. That still makes Defense the only the 3rd largest category on the budget, not the largest - which still proves my point, doesn't it?


Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

Nope (1.80 / 5) (#63)
by felixrayman on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 02:56:34 AM EST

No, you are being dishonest with your groupings. Both Medicare and Medicaid are smaller items than defense but you have chosen to group them together. Using similar logic, I could prove anything I wanted by grouping things in a certain way.

The point remains, you are a liar. Nothing you say can be trusted without independent verification.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]

Net Interest (2.75 / 4) (#70)
by wiredog on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 09:14:54 AM EST

When I'm paying off a debt, interest is only a part of it. There's also principal.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
It seems to be very important to felix (3.00 / 3) (#73)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 09:32:13 AM EST

that I be lying. I guess the idea that defense is the largest item in the budget is central to his faith or something.

I'm waiting for the next comment where he insists that it was dishonest to count social security at all, because that's a "trust fund".

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

trust fund (2.60 / 5) (#75)
by wiredog on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 10:17:46 AM EST

Wherein we trust our children to fund it, on the grounds that the alternative is us moving in with them.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
I'll be fair (none / 1) (#101)
by godix on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 12:25:37 AM EST

the alternative is us moving in with them.

Kids should give their parents what they recieved. Parents get 18 years of living in their home, after that they're on the street and if they don't have a job or home well tough, maybe they'll learn what it's like to live in the real world.

"Yeah, we rocked the vote all right. Those little bastards betrayed us again."
- Hunter S. Thompson on the 2004 election.
[ Parent ]
Don't be a weasel (2.00 / 3) (#90)
by felixrayman on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 05:50:52 PM EST

I guess the idea that defense is the largest item in the budget is central to his faith or something

This is a red herring. I made no such assertion. I also made no claims about Social Security. I won't let you move the goalposts. You claimed that, "paying the debt is still the biggest item by far".

This is a plainly a lie. The size of the deficit is not the relevant number in determining the cost of paying the debt. The cost of paying the debt is the relevant number in determining the cost of the debt. This is so obvious that you can not be accused of mere errors of fact. The proper term for your claim is "lies".

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]

net interest (2.00 / 2) (#89)
by felixrayman on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 05:36:07 PM EST

You are misinterpreting "net interest". By net interest, the government means (slightly simplified), "interest on Treasury debt securities (gross), minus the interest received by on-budget and off-budget trust funds". If one entity of the federal government pays interest to another entity of the federal government, this interest is not included in "net interest".

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
No, I'm not being dishonest. (2.33 / 3) (#72)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 09:30:44 AM EST

Medicare and Medicaid are both health programs and they are generally treated as a single common program - one is health care for the elderly and one is health care for the poor. Not to mention that it's hard to be dishonest when I said, in my original post, "medicare and medicaid". It's not my fault you can't read.

Please grasp your straw somewhere else.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#164)
by Eccles on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 10:25:55 PM EST

Social Security/Medicare has its own, separate tax, which is a percentage of income up to a fairly low limit. So really, those programs are more like enforced savings programs than taxes and expenditures. (And indeed, Bush wants to make tht more explicit with his SS savings plan, which would just serve to boost stock prices for the currently wealthy.) The largest wealth transfer from taxes comes from defense spending, interest payment on the national debt, and agricultural subsidies.

[ Parent ]
'problem one day' (2.00 / 2) (#23)
by jongleur on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 09:09:29 AM EST

The probability of a giant tsunami being generated in any one century, therefore, is estimated by Dr Day at 5%.

The above is from your first link. Like the science show I saw on it said, it's likely centuries away, so it's a geological curiosity, hardly something to wave around as karma, in an argument.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]

"Do"? (2.50 / 8) (#35)
by Peahippo on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 02:51:44 PM EST

Do they look like "do" people? "Doers"? Are they "did" people? Are they "didders"?

Conanisms aside, no one wants to prepare for a coastline-erasing event. This is because the ONLY way to really prepare is to simply not build anything there.

The next best thing is to install some piddly "watch" network and give insufficient warning when the event finally happens. When the wave is surging across the Atlantic at 500MPH, people will simply be clogging the highways ... and then the wave will simply kill thousands as they are smashed and drowned in their cars.

We WANT things this way. It's just playing the odds while the moment-by-moment benefits flow to the elite. The losers will primarily be the poorer set. Hell, they were just born to serve and die, so who really cares? Even THEY don't care.

Didja hear the rumor about asteroids hitting the Earth? Laughable, eh? I mean, really, to even deter or recover from such a disaster, some sort of Human presense in space is needed. But that costs money, and that means less money in the pockets of some latte-sipping White guy in an American city. We can't possibly take away his right to sip another $7 cup of beverage. What would we be, savages? We just have to take the gamble of another 5-mile-diameter rock striking the Earth and producing about 12 hours of a heat pulse which will kill about 99% of the Human race. But only the latte-guy will have the resources we wisely lavished on him to survive by buying and stocking an underground location to weather the heat pulse, as well as 2+ years of essentially no sunlight.

Somehow people want things this way ... because as soon as anyone proposes using the public treasury to alleviate a projected doom, people rise up in great numbers and scream about the waste of resources. Then they turn around and give some billionaire an even bigger grant, tax break, or gift.

It's nuts. The Human race is begging for extinction.


[ Parent ]
+1FP (1.66 / 3) (#42)
by Torka on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 06:24:06 PM EST



[ Parent ]
you are correct (2.66 / 3) (#49)
by forgotten on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 09:21:10 PM EST

you can't take away my right to a $7 latte.

--

[ Parent ]

You live a sheltered life (2.20 / 5) (#52)
by QuickFox on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 10:42:01 PM EST

Clearly you don't realize the importance of latte.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]
0: Happy that indian programmers are dead. n/t (1.06 / 16) (#26)
by communistpoet on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 10:48:37 AM EST



We must become better men to make a better world.
i totally baked brownies in my shorts (1.28 / 7) (#31)
by Your Moms Cock on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 02:23:28 PM EST




--
Mountain Dew cans. Cat hair. Comic book posters. Living with the folks. Are these our future leaders, our intellectual supermen?

[ Parent ]
lol what (1.00 / 10) (#37)
by Your Moms Cock on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 03:41:18 PM EST




--
Mountain Dew cans. Cat hair. Comic book posters. Living with the folks. Are these our future leaders, our intellectual supermen?

[ Parent ]
get the government out of the charity business! (1.71 / 21) (#28)
by the ghost of rmg on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 11:36:23 AM EST

i have to agree with the last sentence. the united states should not be giving out beach umbrellas and travellers checks to these countries. they are poor for a reason, after all. if their people were more industrious and resourceful, they'd be doing just fine and they'd have their own warning system just like the rest of the civilized world -- that is to say, the united states.

it's a lose-lose scenario. either the united states doesn't give enough, in which case we look bad, or we give in to the impossible standards of the rest the eurowhiners set and end up having to rescind the tax cuts. there's just no right way to do it.

we should just get the government out of the charity business. it had no business there anyway. the united states is the home of some of the greatest philanthropists of our time. men like bill gates, john rockefeller, and david carnegie. these are the people who will guide the huddled masses through dark times like these.

statist, tax-based solutions are simply no longer the answer. this is the twenty first century, after all. the modern state has evolved. technology means we don't need a robin hood state. what we need is personal responsibility -- the kind that goes out, gets a job, and invests in its own disaster relief fund.


rmg: comments better than yours.

Employment ... (2.50 / 2) (#30)
by canwaf on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 12:14:29 PM EST

So, by your logic, the corporate body is just itching to get into Shri Lanka to employ those ruined peoples, and that's how things will be fixed? Hah! Corporations are required by law to do what is best for the bottom line. There's no way in hell it'd be a sound business move to move all the "best starter/restarter jobs" like burger flipper and latte frother to Shri Lanka. Besides, the corporate body can make more money having the government dole out contracts for supplies and the like, they don't need to step up to bat directly.

[ Parent ]
I've Heard This Bullshit Before (1.80 / 5) (#32)
by Peahippo on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 02:25:20 PM EST

what we need is personal responsibility

Does this glowing recommendation of personal responsibility extend to the behavior of corporations? Just askin'.


[ Parent ]
get a brain, genious. (1.00 / 4) (#39)
by the ghost of rmg on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 05:49:56 PM EST

corporations aren't people, dumbass. how can something that's not a person have personal responsibility?


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]
Tell it to the courts ... (1.57 / 7) (#41)
by Peahippo on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 06:19:15 PM EST

... since they are busily giving corporations even more rights than people have. You DO recall that corporations are defined as "persons", legally, right? How can that not be PERSONal, Ace?

But that's alright. You implicitly answered my question. You exclude corporations from the list of the entities who have to be responsible. Why am I not fucking surprised?: You're just another fucking yuppie worshipping the same basis of wealth that is working to put your ass into poverty for good. The trouble is, it's taking so long for this Darwinian process to put you 6FT under, that you refuse to acknowledge that you're even sinking.


[ Parent ]
as an investor, (1.50 / 4) (#43)
by the ghost of rmg on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 06:53:34 PM EST

that basis of wealth is the basis of my own. if others lack the talent to make their way by carefully moving their capital from one venture to the next, that is no concern of mine. it's called an ownership society. get used to it, commie.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]
Too bad ... (2.00 / 9) (#48)
by Peahippo on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 07:56:12 PM EST

... that an "ownership society" is a contradiction in terms if there are no commons. Ownership without social responsibility only works for short periods in violent cultural upheavals. Are you armed, monkey boy? No Nirvana for you if not.

BTW, isn't it time you skipped out of aping the phrases tumbling from the mouth of that Fascist asshole Bush? A vicious liar's mouth is a poor source of any philosophical validation.

And you still haven't directly answered the question about personal responsibility. Aren't corporations equally responsible? After all, if I have to see to my future security and avoid hurting people, don't corporations have to do the same? As I pointed out (and it was a point that you ducked) the American courts specifically consider corporations to have the same legal status as people (note that I said they have MORE rights even so, since they cannot in practice be imprisoned or executed for their crimes). The American courts specifically agree with me. What do you say about that, Sport?

Time for you to squirt some tears, I think. Unbridled viciousness works for a while, and then the backlash is just ... awesome. It's kind of like the same backlash after you run around murdering people in the streets, and then the police show up to gun your sociopathic ass down. Ever heard of the "lead dance"? There's one a-comin' roun' the bend for America's corporations.

P.S. Sir, the trigger word "Commie" is no longer authorized in public forums. The new trigger word for turning off people's critical-thinking apparatus is "Terrorist". Thank you. You may go back to your sad, pathetic little life now.


[ Parent ]
what the hell are you doing? (1.00 / 6) (#50)
by the ghost of rmg on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 09:41:50 PM EST

are you out of your fucking mind?


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]
Just answer the question: (2.00 / 10) (#51)
by Peahippo on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 10:21:15 PM EST

Are corporations held responsible for themselves like we are, or not? After all, you want to keep "your" stuff. So should corporations. But when you run a little girl over in your SUV, you are put in jail for it. So what about when a corporation kills someone? Shouldn't we put their corporate charter in jail for a similar term? Fair's fair, right? Or are you talking about something else -- a manifestly unfair world, where the rich stay rich and the poor ... get washed away in tsumanis, I guess?

There's a reason why WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE when homes are destroyed in America from flooding. The reason is we have arranged society so that the poor are pushed into flood zones. Hence we must at least help when a disaster happens. And to some extent, that extends to all Humans on Earth.

But that's silly, right? There's no fucking "society" in your mind. Just a bunch of independent "economic entities".

When the time comes that your sociopathic behavior finally molds a highly disconnected culture, and while you're at work your fucking house burns down (remember, a fire department is just more "goddamned socialism" {spit}, and a Real Man rips that "commie shit" out the local budget, making room for more grants and subsidies for local corporations), please just stand there in front of your burned wreckage and remember this conversation. Remember how I warned you that we are all connected as people, as Humans, and how injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere. Remember this as you sadly reflect that perhaps, just maybe, being a completely selfish asshole is NOT THE WAY TO GO THROUGH LIFE.

That's what the fuck I'm talking about, dirtbag. THE BIG PICTURE. Real Human compassion, fairness and justice: All the stuff you weren't taught at Complete Total Dickhead School.


[ Parent ]
Fucking terrific rant. +++ (2.00 / 2) (#54)
by Nosf3ratu on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 12:28:34 AM EST




Woo!
[ Parent ]
Who was trolling whom? /nt (none / 0) (#193)
by skyknight on Sat Jan 08, 2005 at 08:56:14 PM EST



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
YHBT hard (1.50 / 2) (#55)
by Polverone on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 12:28:54 AM EST

and it wasn't even very subtle.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]
Corporations get sued all the time (1.50 / 2) (#57)
by NaCh0 on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 12:51:38 AM EST

Haven't you heard of IBM getting sued by SCO? This shit happens all the time. If a corporation does you wrong there will be 1000 lawyers ready to kick in your door to get a piece of the action.

People have free will to listen to the word of the corporation or not. Your whole tirade against corporations is a strawman waiting for the winds from the land of Oz.

--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
[ Parent ]

bah! (2.00 / 3) (#66)
by bankind on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 04:44:10 AM EST

The sole proprietorship? The limited partnership? Do you think either of these entities can manage the capital required for modern society?

the rise of managerial capitalism is the most significant, positive change in the management of society to ever occur in human history. The division of responsibility. The distribution of ownership. Management answering to the owners. This is humanity at its finest. This is how the pie gets bigger, he who gets the biggest slice is the one who claims it.

And you think you are the one to cause its downfall? You think you can match the will of the shareholders? Where the smartest collective wins. <p. Everything else is aesthetics and culture is for the tustifarians. The dirtbags lost. <p> Where were you in the 90's?

I was cashing win tickets.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

Take care (none / 0) (#117)
by buzh on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 11:59:45 AM EST

I'd like to advise you to take those winning tickets of yours and exchange them for gold, diamonds or maybe even euros. It'll come in handy after the deflation, when Big Macs are $999.99 and it's cheaper to burn dollar bills than buy wood for heating.
--
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -Niels Bohr
[ Parent ]
ROR as if you had to ask (1.50 / 2) (#53)
by Dr Gonzo on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 10:48:50 PM EST


"I felt the warmth spread across my lap as her bladder let loose." - MichaelCrawford
[ Parent ]

Evolution and emergent systems (2.33 / 3) (#79)
by MoebiusStreet on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 01:22:50 PM EST

Economist F.A.Hayek explained why some societies flourish and others fail. For whatever reasons -- they don't specifically matter -- something about the traditions, laws, values, etc. about some societies make them more fit, in a Darwinian sense, than others. Over time a conquering society would impress many attributes onto the vanquished, creating a new combination that itself might succeed or fail on its merits.

The whole process happens, whether you like it or not, even if you find it ruthless and unfair. And it happens regardless of whether anyone -- participants or analysts -- actually understand what elements of the respective societies may have led to the outcome.

Hayek called the belief that anyone could intentionally engineer a society as robust as our own "socialism's fatal conceit".

The system is just too complex to understand in its totality. Any change will have effects that can't be completely predicted. And such a system is beyond the ability of any entity to engineer from whole cloth -- imagine trying to design an entire human being from DNA. In many ways the myriad elements of our society and their uncountable interactions are even more complex than the human organism.

[ Parent ]

Now that's just plain racist (2.80 / 5) (#108)
by buzh on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 07:52:20 AM EST

the united states should not be giving out beach umbrellas and travellers checks to these countries. they are poor for a reason, after all. if their people were more industrious and resourceful, they'd be doing just fine and they'd have their own warning system just like the rest of the civilized world -- that is to say, the united states.

I hear this sort of thing from USAnians all the time; for some reason a lot of them seem to think that poor people and poor states are just stupid and/or lazy. Having seen what the peoples of various 3rd world countries are willing to do to sustain their lives, I'd say that such statements are pretty fscking racist and narrow-minded. Just because you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth doesn't mean everyone else was too (but subsequently pawned it for crack).

If you know what's up, you help out with what you can when disaster strikes. The next time, it may just as well be you who needs the help.


--
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -Niels Bohr
[ Parent ]
No, you're egocentric (none / 0) (#110)
by MoebiusStreet on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 09:20:05 AM EST

There's a huge difference between saying

the US Government should not give all this aid
and saying
no one in the US should give aid"

Let's stipulate that the people in SE Asia need and deserve the money, and that it really is our responsibility to help them. Why do you believe that US Government should be the one doing it on our behalf?

Each one of us here in America has our own conscience, and we've been taught that it's our own responsibility to act as good, upstanding people. For example, we have freedom of speech, but we should not be libertine in using that freedom to put pr0n on every wall. Moreover, we each have a right to the fruits of our labors; who has the authority to decide that other uses for our property are more important than our own, and take the property from us to give to others? The only ones with that authority are each of us individually for ourselves. Read, for example, the takings clause at the end of the 5th Amendment for this specific issue:

nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation

So are we monsters if we object to the government taking our property without any recompense, nor any consideration of our individual needs?

Do you believe that all of your neighbors are monsters and that YOU are the only one that can see what's right, and so the priorities that work for you must be impressed on all of your neighbors?

[ Parent ]

Wah? (none / 1) (#111)
by buzh on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 09:57:19 AM EST

Let's stipulate that the people in SE Asia need and deserve the money, and that it really is our responsibility to help them. Why do you believe that US Government should be the one doing it on our behalf? You're pretty much missing my point completely: I'm not saying anything about who should give or why or how.
What I'm saying is that "They're poor because they're dumb and lazy, if they were smart and willing to work they would have made contingency plans already" is an uninformed and racist thing to say or think, and sadly the notion seems common in the US amongst people who have never lacked a thing in their life on account of their middle-class or above wealth. Sadly because it makes it all to easy to rationalize a behaviour of "fuck it, they have themselves to blaim" towards the majority of the worlds population, who after all are forced to live their lives without any realistic chance of improving them to our western standards as the kilowatts of energy needed for their economical growth is pissed away to provide the consumer hothouses of Europe and North America. Sure, it's very enjoyable for the select few of us who are able to maintain a middle class or above lifestyle, but we must realize that others are indirectly paying for that lifestyle.

Whether your conscience allows you to be fine with that or not, I don't care. I'm just saying that advocating not helping out fellow humans because you don't think they deserve it can't be right.
--
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -Niels Bohr
[ Parent ]
Still have the blinders on (none / 0) (#113)
by MoebiusStreet on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 10:57:10 AM EST

I don't see that the original post that you responded to said anything like "people in the US should not donate" -- but that seems to be the statement to which you're objecting.

That post said that the US as a single entity, viz. our government, should not donate.

[ Parent ]

Donate or not (3.00 / 2) (#114)
by buzh on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 11:36:00 AM EST

.. you're still a twat if you think 3rd world people and countries are poor because they're dumb and/or lazy. Which was really the only point I was trying to make.
--
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -Niels Bohr
[ Parent ]
The source of American Wealth (none / 1) (#127)
by rodentboy on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 02:45:23 PM EST

Your rant is like one of those mutual fund commercials where an old white guy is telling the viewer, from the deck of a million dollar yacht that he 'earned' his wealth.

I have this little theory of how the us earned it's wealth: they took over an essentially free continent.

The american dream is based on the fact that you got a totally free continent. A free continent that was free of history.

In europe people's rights have to be balanced and negotiated within a tangle of ancient customs and compromises between various groups. Europeans think of others rights because they have to.

The american dream, that anyone can become rich if they just work hard enough, however is based on the fact that you had a relatively infinite amount of space. How hard is it to be a rugged individualist when if anything goes wrong you can just move farther west, and start all over again?

Now the us is saturated, but the basic founding ideology still persists that anyone can be rich if they work hard enough, and because people don't understand logic, this implies the converse that anyone who is not rich is necessarily lazy.

Hey, why aren't you rich yet? You must be lazy!

Canada was in a similar situation geopolitically, and we were no less ruthless with our infestation of natives. The interesting question is what each country did with this free lunch? How did we 'spend' it?

Because of lingering ties with the mother country Canada proceeded more cautiously, forcing a more european approach. The us enshrined individualism and pursuit of happiness and these are admirable goals that are still worth pursuing but how long can they continue to work?

So enough with the rugged individuality ayn rand bullshit. It's anachronisitc. The circumstances that allowed that attitude to work no longer exist now that the us us is out of space.



[ Parent ]
I disagree. (1.54 / 22) (#47)
by jd on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 07:40:12 PM EST

First off, there is a pressing need for comprehensive emergency systems in ALL placs, because you really don't know where the next disaster is going to be. If you did, it would probably not be one.

Second, the US has given less than half that of Japan, in this latest crisis. The US is vastly wealthier, but cannot bring itself to do as much.

(For any Christians on K5, I'd also urge you to remember the story of the rich person and the poor person, in the Bible, where the rich tithed only what they absolutely had to, and the poor gave all they had. The rich gave more, in sheer quantity, yet that is not what the story considered important.)

Finally, the US generally doesn't move as much as other folks. In terms of charitable actions, Live Aid used their own transport, and carried far more throughout Africa than America has ever done. (Excluding American weapons, drugs, etc.)

As for Governments, the Russian transport helicopters have vastly greater lifting power than their American rivals. Sorry, but the Americans just don't cut it. Even third-rate collapsed empires have greater hauling capacity.

Let's face it, far too many Americans are santimonious, smug, arrogant and utterly incapable of charitable acts. Mind you, you can't blame them too much - most of them can't even find Africa on a map, let alone send aid there.

I see this all the time... (2.84 / 13) (#68)
by danro on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 06:11:56 AM EST

If all the charity contributed by private citizens and corporations is added, American generosity dwarfs that of the government. Unfortunately, no tracking system exists that captures every donation that Americans make. Tracking the donations of government and large charities is easier, but leaves out efforts in small towns and organizations across the US.
I see this assertion all the time from various US bloggers. (Usually with the addition that US citizens give way more per capita than the citizens of any other country.)

But, if there is no way of tracking how much private entities in the US really donate to charity, how do you know it's more than the official aid?
How do you know it is more than private entities in other contries?

I'm not saying it's not true, I'm just saying it annoys me that this is treated like some self-evident truth that don't need to be supported in any way.

why, it's faith-based! (nt) (2.33 / 6) (#69)
by vivelame on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 08:55:02 AM EST



--
Jonathan Simon: "When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death."
[ Parent ]
I've been having a hard time running it down. (2.83 / 6) (#74)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 09:44:40 AM EST

The answer seems to be it's hard to tell.

Here's a rather unflattering article about Canada when compared to the U.S.

One thing that can make it even more complex is that Americans give a large proportion through churches. While some might claim that this tends to end up in the pockets of ministers, the truth is that a lot also ends up in everything from the Heifer Project to simply providing a space for community activities (english-as-2nd-language classes, etc..)

It's also important to recognize that, despite how people talk about Christians on this forum, their religion is one of the reasons they give so much to charity - a behaviour they inherited from the Jews, I might add.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

Christian Giving (3.00 / 6) (#81)
by minerboy on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 03:16:10 PM EST

Interestingly, part of the christian ethic behind charity (and I think in other religions as well) is to give anonymously. Difficult in these days when charity is a tax break, but still, the point is to give what you can to help, not to use your giving to impress the neighbors. Further, it is un-christian to question the amount of someone's giving, since its not up to you to judge

What the U.N is saying is very different. They imply that the third world is morally entitled to a certain percentage of the developed countries wealth, distributed as the U.N. sees fit. Let's get over this "Charity" thing, because its simply a rhetorical tool used to justify U.N. taxation of developed countries.



[ Parent ]
Not a christian/judean/whatever thing (2.66 / 3) (#105)
by buzh on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 04:07:09 AM EST

It's also important to recognize that, despite how people talk about Christians on this forum, their religion is one of the reasons they give so much to charity - a behaviour they inherited from the Jews, I might add.

It's important to recognize that charity is a virtue in almost any religion or philosophy. Trying to make it out to be a particularily christian or jewish or whatever thing is pretty damn shortsighted. I'm not accusing porkchop of doing this, but it seems whenever I hear religious types talking about charity, they act like everyone stole the idea from them in the first place.

I would go as far as saying that helping others in need, even to the point of self-sacrifice, is one of the basic human traits. Surely, the ability to see that there's something bigger than one self and to want to stop others from suffering despite having a price, are traits that human beings rely on for surviving as a species.


--
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -Niels Bohr
[ Parent ]
Not my intent (none / 1) (#109)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 09:04:20 AM EST

Sorry - I'm not trying to exclude other religions, rather I was remarking on the usual "christians are hateful superstitious bigots" meme that dominates k5.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]
Christian charity (none / 0) (#138)
by arthur on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 08:55:04 PM EST

I can't help myself, but I think giving through Christian charity does more harm then good, because they can often not separate from help and bible waving.
Esp. the fundamentalist churches from the left side of the Atlantic.
That is not helping is missionary work, something that should be forbidden. If someone knocks at your door tell him what you believe, but just when you have been asked.

[ Parent ]
So, you don't believe in free speech, then? (none / 0) (#141)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 12:45:11 AM EST

"Excuse me, but when I want your opinion, I'll ask for it."

Yeah - that works real well in so many ways.

Please re-examine your biases. Replace the word "Christian" with the word "gay" and "evangelist" for "ACT-UP".

How do you feel now?


Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

I belive in free speech... (none / 0) (#151)
by arthur on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 07:55:01 AM EST

But if you want to come to help don't mix it with missionary work. There are enough secular charity organizations. The people need food, no bibles.

The thing with the gays; I think you mixed the meaning of charity and political movement.
And I never heard of a gay saying that I am damned if I don't sleep with men.

[ Parent ]

What a hypocrite! (none / 0) (#152)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 08:40:16 AM EST

But if you want to come to help don't mix it with missionary work.

Excuse me? So planned parenthood isn't doing missionary work? PETA isn't evangelizing the public?

Wow. Bigoted and completely un-selfaware. Great combination.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

Planned Parenthood is a religion? (none / 0) (#157)
by DominantParadigm on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 09:48:35 AM EST

You are teh l00n

Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
What a way to miss the point. (none / 0) (#159)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 12:48:33 PM EST

Speech is speech and it isn't for you to decide whose speech should be free or not. Saying missionaries should be restricted is no different from saying speech about abortion should be restricted.

Oh, and learn how to use complete sentences, genius.


Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

you say i'm missing the point (none / 0) (#160)
by DominantParadigm on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 01:26:39 PM EST

and then you claim that this entire discussion from the parent on down was about free speech. Very entertaining, clown.

Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
I think... (none / 0) (#184)
by issachar on Fri Jan 07, 2005 at 12:28:19 AM EST

He might have been suggesting that it was unfair to tell Christians they had to shut up about the most important thing in their lives when they see people in dire straights. Whether Planned Parenthood is a religion or not is not the point. The point is that people should have the right to tell people about their faith. Freedom of religion means that we can practice and share our faith with other people. Either you believe in that concept or you don't. I'm not trying to troll here, but many people don't. They agree with the practicing but not with the sharing and I think that's fundamentally wrong.

Now I can anticipate a complaint that Christians might be taking advantage of people in a vulnerable time by telling them about Jesus as they hand out food, clean water etc., but the argument is spurious. People are quite capable of rejecting ideas if they want and aid recipients are no exception. Third parties coming and saying "don't tell that person about Jesus because they're physically vulnerable right now" is absolute arrogance. If you don't like how Christians hand out aid, then please hand out more of your own. I'm quite serious. More charity can only do good. Feel free to tell them (or not) about your beliefs as you do so.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Right.. (none / 0) (#200)
by JohnnyCannuk on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 01:09:05 PM EST

"People are quite capable of rejecting ideas if they want and aid recipients are no exception. Third parties coming and saying "don't tell that person about Jesus because they're physically vulnerable right now" is absolute arrogance."

No, these people are also emotionally and mentally vulnerable right now. There is not a level playing field here. When people or groups in North America take advantage of vulnerable people in order to convert them or make them join their group, we call it brainwashing and we call those groups cults. If you are so sure of your message, why can't you wait until things are better are try your conversion when people are less vulnerable? The message will not have changed and those people that convert will have converted because the genuinely wish to become Christians because the hear the message, rather than being sucked in because they are looking for anything to get food, shelter and mental comfort. Why not let them find mental comfort in their current religion and culture? You can spread the "good news" when things cool down. Its not like they are not going to notice who gave them their food or built their new house...

Why do you need to "spread the good news"? Because Jesus told you? Because you think you have the "truth" and all those people who are of other religions and cultures don't?

Lets get down to the brass tacks - Evangelicals feel the need to do this stuff not because they are proud of their religion but because they feel the need to "save" everyone that does not believe as they do (including some other Christians) because they are convinced they are right and everyone else is wrong. Any they will do this by any means nescesary.

Well, except by letting people come to them of their own accord rather than the otherway around.

Given the contradictions and errors that fill the Bible and the fact that there is not one iota of historical evidence that a person named Jesus even existed, what makes you so sure you are right and they are wrong?

What if you are wrong?


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

well... (none / 0) (#205)
by issachar on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 04:55:54 PM EST

We're already talking about this in this thread, but you bring up a new point.

Yes, Christians evangelize because we believe that people are lost without Jesus. We also do aid work because Jesus told us to. Quite apart from saving souls. We are motivated by both. We do not use "any means" necessary, because force actually change hearts & minds. "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still". Don't know the source, but it sums up the sentiment. Jesus was God. He could have forced every one to bow to him, but he didn't. Christians must follow Christ's example. If they don't they're not really Christians are they? (i.e. follower of Christ).

Incidentally, do you really believe that Jesus didn't actually exist? It's true we don't have a lots of contemporary non-Christian references to him, but that's a function of history and time. I believe that it's generally accepted by historians who study that period that Jesus was an actual person although obviously not all of them believe he was God.

I'm going to plagerize from R.T. France's argument here for a moment.

The explanation for this lack of evidence is to be found in the nature and scale of the early Christian movement. From the point of view of Roman history of the first century, Jesus was a nobody. A man of no social standing, who achieved brief local notice in a remote and little-loved province as a preacher and miracle-worker, and who was duly executed by order of a minor provincial governor, could hardly be expected to achieve mention in the Roman head-lines. [...] If Jesus was to be noticed it would more likely be through the success of the movement which he founded.
I think that you're stretching to say that Jesus never existed.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Yes I actually believe that.. (none / 0) (#209)
by JohnnyCannuk on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 09:37:11 PM EST

It's not a matter of having little extra-biblical, contemporaneous evidence the existance of Jesus, there is NO evidence. The Bible itself is not even contemporary to the life of Jesus. Not a single word in it was written by anyone that knew a historical Jesus or was even alive at the same time as him. Even Philo, who was a contemporary and should have known (20 BCE to 50 CE), did not write of Jesus (ironic that his ideas of Logos were later used by the early church). The only references to Jesus were in the writings of Josephus some 40 years later, which many experts are quite sure were actually placed there by the early apologist Eusebius in the first century.

There are at least 43 well known Pagan and Jewish writers who lived at the time Jesus was supposed to have, but make no mention of him or any of the other incidents that took place in the Gospels. Some of these writers were actually historians, so it was their raison-d'etre to record these events. They should have noticed the Romans putting to death a man that could gather hundreds of thousands of followers in Judea or that the sun went black for 3 hours one Friday afternoon.

I may grant that a person named Jesus may have existed, but he probably didn't do any of the miracles attrributed to him and perhaps he was not even killed by Pilate. He may have been a rebel Jewish Rabbi, but that's it.

Besides, the burden of proof is on you, not me. Claiming you follow someone that was the Son of God (bardalaha in Aramaic, properly translated means "God like") that rose from the dead, could heal the sick and walk on water is an extrodinary claim. Extrodinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

I think your stretching it to say Jesus did exist, based on the evidence.

Now, of course, that Jesus didn't exist doesn't mean "Love thy nieghbour as they self" has any less power or meaning...


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

it is a circular argument... (none / 0) (#221)
by issachar on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 08:56:57 PM EST

well there's plenty of extra-biblical references to Jesus, but I assume you meant non-Christian ones. Many Christian writings didn't make the Canon as you know.

Although we're duplicating threads, so just refer to the other one.

One thing I didn't mention there is that there was also a ruling religious class that saw Jesus and his followers as a threat (and blasphemous to boot), so they were actively surpressing them. Combine this with the points in the linked thread and it makes a fair bit of sense.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Oh, and if you haven't heard gays saying (none / 0) (#153)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 08:40:57 AM EST

you're damned, you haven't listened to ACT-UP bitch about people who don't like gays.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]
So you believe in free speech? (none / 0) (#181)
by issachar on Fri Jan 07, 2005 at 12:12:11 AM EST

but you think that people doing charity work shouldn't share their faith with someone... That just doesn't sound like free speech to me.

And if you think that Christian aid organizations are just handing out Bibles, then you don't know what you're talking about. They go to help people's physical needs because Jesus told them to. Christian aid organizations never make aid dependant on accepting Christian teaching. Claims to the contrary are FUD.

As part of their lives Christians share the good news about Jesus with people they meet. And you think they should just shut up? If you had good news wouldn't you share it with other people? If people don't want to follow Jesus, then they don't have to. They can take the free help and good has still been done in the world.

On a sidenote, I would have agreed with your comment about there being enough secular organizations until last year. I had a friend of mine looking to to aid work in Africa. She's a evangelistic secular humanist for want of a better description, and she had a tough time finding a non-Christian group to work with. Maybe she was looking in the wrong places, but that's what she told me.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

wait... (none / 0) (#182)
by issachar on Fri Jan 07, 2005 at 12:15:37 AM EST

You think that the world would be a better place with World Vision, et al didn't exist? That's just foolishness.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Update... (2.33 / 3) (#87)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 04:26:37 PM EST

I can't find the matching figures for other countries, but according to this site, Americans gave over $240 billion to charity in 2003.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]
Warning System (2.00 / 3) (#76)
by dharma on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 11:32:01 AM EST

The cost of creating a warning system for the Indian Ocean is approximately $30 - $40 million and probably only a few hundred thousand per year for maintenance (sorry I do not have a link for these numbers since I read them offline). At such a low cost, it is ridiculous that there isn't a warning system in every ocean. Even if such an event only happens once every 100 years, the 'return' on the investment is extremely high.

Granted a warning system will not save property (whose loss will be measured in the billions) but it would save your nation's citizens (well not every single one since the proximity of this quake to Indonesia sealed their fate).

And its not like no one had thought of this before. An Indian scientist had been warning the government for years about the threat of a tsunami in the Indian Ocean but no one in the government listened.

Now with respect to US aid. I am sick and tired of people complaining about the US. We defend Western Europe, Japan and South Korea for free. Do you know how much money that costs? Several hundred billion every year. When other nations start covering the cost of their defense, the US will be free to spend those billions on itself (i.e. social programs) and will be able to afford giving out more aid during international disasters.

A monitoring system is trivial. (2.50 / 4) (#83)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 03:39:32 PM EST

It's the public-address infrastructure that's daunting. Remember, while the built-up tourist areas are fairly modern, some of these villages don't even have electricity.

How much time and energy would have to be spent maintaining a disaster-warning system? At the very least, the villagers would have to have radios running all the time.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

Not necessarily true (2.00 / 2) (#84)
by dharma on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 03:48:06 PM EST

I imagine a single guy in a given neighborhood listening to the radio would run out the street yelling at everyone to get to higher ground. That would start a chain reaction. Of course, you'd also require some level of citizenship education so they know to take the warning seriously.

I do not think the time or energy is significant at all. The devices utilized for detecting a tsunami are neither exotic or expensive. And the entire proceedure can be automated so you do not need humans constantly monitoring the system.

[ Parent ]

How many radios do you envision in a village? (2.00 / 2) (#86)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 04:25:17 PM EST

Especially a village with no electricity?

I might be wrong about this - it could be that those crank radios have become ubiquitous in the developing world - but my understanding was that radios were fairly rare in large swaths of the world.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

Other Possibilities (none / 0) (#125)
by virg on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 02:20:24 PM EST

There are many ways a warning system such as this could be implemented. Sure, having a radio would be a problem, but signalling lights, foghorns, and even guided signal rockets can cover a lot of ground. Even the most remote coastlines, far away from any sound or visible signals, could be reached by a relatively cheap signal rocket in 20 minutes. Maybe the villagers won't be listening to their radio all the time, but a warning rocket going by (plus the training to react to it) doesn't require anything more than someone to be able to see it. Planned properly, it could fly down the coastline, alerting everyone on its route to turn on that radio or otherwise take cover.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Tain't that hard (none / 0) (#189)
by Eccles on Fri Jan 07, 2005 at 04:09:01 PM EST

You could have solar-powered devices that simply "listen" for a broadcast warning signal, and don't make any noise except when the warning is being transmitted.

[ Parent ]
Bad comparison (2.85 / 7) (#91)
by felixrayman on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 05:55:34 PM EST

We defend Western Europe, Japan and South Korea for free. Do you know how much money that costs?

Don't like paying for an empire? Then don't fucking build one.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]

No surprise there (2.00 / 2) (#103)
by QuickFox on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 12:41:46 AM EST

An Indian scientist had been warning the government for years about the threat of a tsunami in the Indian Ocean but no one in the government listened.

But of course. Why should anyone expect anything else?

Scientists all over the world are warning massively about a threat that is far more dangerous, with a far greater certainty of occurring: Climate warming due to the greenhouse effect. So many scientists with so much worldwide publicity, and yet, so very little effect...

In that perspective, a single scientist getting shrugged off is in no way surprising.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Would it actually safe lives? (none / 1) (#107)
by Confusion on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 04:36:29 AM EST

Even in closely populated areas like the one where I live, national warning signals do not reach every area. Furthermore, people don't react to it as they should. They should close their doors and windows and turn to a national radio station for information. What they actually do is walk out on the street and wonder why there is such a ruckace. Now suppose they would hear that a tsunami is coming. Where would they go? Roads would be jammed in no-time. Every sufficiently high building would be stuffed with people. There would be panic, people trampling each-other to reach safe places, riots and plunder. I sincerely doubt it would safe lives.
--
Any resemblance between the above and reality is purely coincidental.
[ Parent ]
It did in Kenya. (3.00 / 2) (#146)
by Russell Dovey on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 03:47:10 AM EST

The Kenyan authorities heard about the tsunami and got all their own drunken, rowdy Boxing Day beach partygoers off the beach before the tsunami came, with riot police. A warning system does actually save lives.

And in Thailand, very few animals died. Apparently, they all ran inland before the wave hit, saving themselves.

How the fuck did they know?

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

You defend those countries (none / 0) (#144)
by D Jade on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 01:17:54 AM EST

To protect your own interests...

People aren't complaining about US aid, they were merely pointing out the fact that many countries have proportionally dontated more. It is the US government that is complaining about their aid... Quite frankly, we don't care, we've got more important things to worry about than how much your country provided.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

Diplomadic update (2.36 / 11) (#82)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 03:36:44 PM EST

The Diplomad - a blog run (allegedly) by U.S. State Department employees has been having a fit over the UN's "contributions" to the aid process. I have to point out that these posts claim to be eyewitness reports so they do not refer to referencable news sources. Caveat Blogger.

Here's a recent post:

UPDATE: More on "The UNcredibles": WFP (World Food Program) has "arrived" in the capital with an "assessment and coordination team." The following is no joke; no Diplomad attempt to be funny or clever: The team has spent the day and will likely spend a few more setting up their "coordination and opcenter" at a local five-star hotel. And their number one concern, even before phones, fax and copy machines? Arranging for the hotel to provide 24hr catering service. USAID folks already are cracking jokes about "The UN Sheraton." Meanwhile, our military and civilians, working with the super Aussies, continue to keep the C-130 air bridge of supplies flowing and the choppers flying, and keep on saving lives -- and without 24hr catering services from any five-star hotel . . . . The contrast grows more stark every minute.


Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...

0, Blogs (2.00 / 3) (#95)
by Dr Gonzo on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 07:08:12 PM EST


"I felt the warmth spread across my lap as her bladder let loose." - MichaelCrawford
[ Parent ]

So, several days later, the MSM reports the same (none / 0) (#145)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 01:24:07 AM EST

feel better now?

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]
How is an opinion different from a weblog? (n/t) (none / 0) (#148)
by izogi on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 04:34:51 AM EST


- izogi


[ Parent ]
Dunno. (none / 0) (#150)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 06:32:42 AM EST

I thought maybe it would make him feel better that someone killed a tree to publish the opinion.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]
well (none / 0) (#180)
by issachar on Fri Jan 07, 2005 at 12:00:41 AM EST

Mark Steyn is slightly better known than Diplomad. And the Daily Telegraph has been known to do the occaisional bit of fact checking...


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Dude, (none / 0) (#139)
by JChen on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 09:46:54 PM EST

didn't you know that the UN, under UNATCO, is really just a front for covert Illuminati operations?

Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]
I wonder if anyone has the (2.00 / 4) (#94)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 07:01:20 PM EST

balls to call Americans "stingy" after GWB called both his daddy and Clinton to head a private fundraising campaign for the tsunami victims. We're talking about the #1 Democratic fundraiser and probably #2 Republican fundraiser (after GWB). But mark my words, it'll take only a few months/years until the Americans are once more called "stingy." Such is the curse.

--
"What's next, sigging a k5er quote about sigging someone on k5?"


The US is Stingy! (none / 1) (#143)
by D Jade on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 01:06:35 AM EST

It's a well documented fact. We're not calling you stingy because you haven't given financial aid. We're calling you stingy because you haven't really given that much on a per capita basis when compared to many smaller nations. This debate started because the more generous (per capita) nationals on this site have pointed this out and, as usual, yanks start whining about it.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died in this tragedy and so many of you are doing what you do are best known for: Whinging. What are you whinging about? Money... It's not even important.

Besides, who really fucking cares if you donated more or less than anyone else? The US is the only nation actually harping on about it - The rest of us don't give a shit, we're more concerned about the people affected by this calamity!

The fact is that us Westerners enjoy such good lives because those 200,000 people live in crappy little houses on crappy little islands and earn a few cents a day making your shoes, clothes, electronic devices, toys and so on. You think about that for a while before you gripe over who pays more.

The fact is that we should do whatever we can to ensure that survivors of this disaster get back some semblance of the life they had before. They ensure our quality of life everyday, it's the least we can do.

And please note, I don't think all USians are whingers... It's just that whingers are so loud that they tend to drown out the USians with brains. I think all you intelligent USians need to speak up more.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

Huh? (none / 0) (#158)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:19:55 AM EST

First of all, I'm European. The first half of your diatribe is already answered in other comments. But this:

"The fact is that us Westerners enjoy such good lives because those 200,000 people live in crappy little houses" blaahdiblaahblaah

So, are you saying that it is our fault they live in crappy little houses? Or did you mean to say that because we buy products they make they can live in crappy little houses instead of shitty tiny huts? Just because they make the things we like doesn't mean we owe these people anything.

--
"What's next, sigging a k5er quote about sigging someone on k5?"


[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#162)
by D Jade on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 06:15:45 PM EST

we buy products they make they can live in crappy little houses instead of shitty tiny huts

The fact of the matter is that there is no way us westerners would work and live in the conditions that many of these people face on a daily basis. We wouldn't let our friends or family live in such circumstances. We wouldn't let our dogs live like that! But we're happy to keep people we don't know in these conditions because it means those luxuries we enjoy are much cheaper. That's a fact. If they had the same conditions you and I had in life, your iPod be far more costly...

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

Explaination? (none / 0) (#166)
by bobbuck on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:43:18 PM EST

Exactly how do we keep them in such miserable conditions? I guess they all had Manhattan high-rise apartments furnished with cherry and silk before we shipped them overseas to make sneakers? What friggin' history book are you reading? Do you think they will always have such poor conditions?

[ Parent ]
Not really needed (none / 0) (#167)
by D Jade on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 01:25:42 AM EST

If you would be willing to work in a labour intensive job for less than a dollar a day then fair enough, you're right, we don't keep them in miserable conditions. However, the fact that you have a personal computer and an internet connection indicates that you would scoff at the thought. In fact, if someone asked you to work in such conditions you would be disgusted and outraged, that's a fact. I'm not talking about history, I'm talking about the present day condition. It is a fact that most shoes, clothes and electronics that you buy are so cheap because they do live in shitty conditions.

I find your sarcasm quite endearing though. I'd like to hear if you actually have any real points of value to demonstrate your convictions.

However, even though you were making a sarcastic comment, there is actually a valid argument to your point as it is quite likely that they did have silk before western influences came to prominence. Given that South-East Asia was one of the biggest silk trading areas in the region. The Chinese originally settled in Malaysia to allow them to protect their silk trade routes which were all centered round Malaysia and Thailand. The abundance of silk is well documented in any half decent history book on the region though I am not sure if this is also the case for cherry... Maybe, with your infinite wisdom, you can look into it and let me know.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

Now I see (none / 0) (#174)
by bobbuck on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 11:43:48 AM EST

The US is crushing them economically just by doing business with them, the same way we sent Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong spiralling into hopeless poverty. As far as Malaysia goes, do you realize that personal incomes have soared there because of international trade? Do you know they have people from Thailand sneaking over the border to get work?

Again, how does the West keep poor countries in miserable conditions? Just because we have a higher standard of living doesn't mean we put them into poverty.

It's people like you who would take away the rights of these people to participate in the international markets that keep people poor.

[ Parent ]

Re: Why is the United States so stingy? (2.85 / 7) (#96)
by Abacus on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 07:34:26 PM EST

No one is asking why predominately Muslim Indonesia isn't receiving billions of dollars from the oil rich Muslim governments of the Middle East. So far only a few of the governments have collectively pledged $22 million.

We, muslims, have a rule when it comes to charity. You may call that humility : We never say what we give to charity because it is not the important, the important is to help people not only pity them.

We also have a proverb that says "Al Af'aal Ablagh Minal Aqwal" meaning "Acts are better than words".

But the author is right Asian people deserve help because they contribute to enrich Western and Arab economies.

Christians have a similar rule (3.00 / 3) (#100)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 09:37:59 PM EST

At least, many do. The tradition is that if you give to charity and then brag about it then you have already received your reward.


Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]
And neither Christians neither muslims honours it (none / 1) (#130)
by svampa on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 04:11:05 PM EST

... neither budishist...

The comandment of "silent charity" is in every religion, and it's quite often forgotten by the followers of every religion.... the "silent" and even more the "charity"



[ Parent ]
Speak for yourself. (none / 0) (#142)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 12:48:24 AM EST

The only person who knows how much money my family gives to charity each year is my wife, because she's the one who collects all the receipts.


Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]
Yes.... (none / 1) (#147)
by ckaminski on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 04:27:19 AM EST

You, your wife, and the IRS.  

[ Parent ]
Tax deductible donations, done right. (none / 1) (#176)
by RadiantMatrix on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 05:23:59 PM EST

Personally, I think it's a great thing that the government says "hey, if you give to charity, you shouldn't have to pay tax on that money."

If you feel that telling the IRS how much you've given to charity violates the 'silent charity' principle, then don't do so.  Personally, I use the amount I get in refund for claiming my charitable donations as further charitable donations; and I hold that the good done by that outweighs the fact that someone else knows how much I give to charity.

--
I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

[ Parent ]

Could you expand? (none / 0) (#179)
by issachar on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 11:53:44 PM EST

seriously... are you suggesting that religious people are not charitable? Or less charitable than they should be? Or than they say they are? Or less charitable that the non-religious in the world? Are you just smearing people? What are you saying?


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Aid pledges from Middle Eastern states (2.85 / 7) (#97)
by Neil Rubin on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 09:16:28 PM EST

No one is asking why predominately Muslim Indonesia isn't receiving billions of dollars from the oil rich Muslim governments of the Middle East. So far only a few of the governments have collectively pledged $22 million.
I certainly have heard/read people making this argument. Your figures, however, are a bit out of date. As of Jan. 1, Reuters was reporting that the pledged aid from Middle East governments was at least $45 million, the majority coming from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. As that last link argues, these pledges are far greater than the U.S. pledges on a per-capita basis. Note also that the per capita income of "oil rich" Saudi Arabia is only one fourth of that of the United States. Does the fact that much of Saudi Arabia's far smaller income is based on stuff it pumps out of the ground means that it has a larger obligation to help disaster victims an ocean away?

I really don't know enough to say whether the U.S. aid pledges are stingy or generous in light of the need. I would want my government to spend whatever it could to rescue people in imminent danger, to feed people facing starvation, or to prevent epidemics of disease.

Regarding the point that Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, are you arguing that the U.S. and other governments should decide how much aid to give to disaster victims based upon the religion of the victims?

you may be misinterpreting him (none / 0) (#121)
by issachar on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 01:25:16 PM EST

I shouldn't be commenting on this, because the whole "my country is giving lots and your country is cheap" thing is a really really wretched discussion, but the author may not have meant to suggest giving out aid on the basis of religion.

He may have just been getting a little off-topic and trying to argue that the west is not anti-Muslim as some have suggested, as they are giving aid to a Muslim nation that appears to outstrip the richest Muslim nations.

While I applaud the effort to point out that the west is anti-Muslim it's really none of our business how much anyone else (including Saudi Arabia) gives. The point of giving is to help people, not to look good.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Here is what MY COUNTRY is doing to help.. (2.40 / 5) (#102)
by dxh on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 12:29:19 AM EST

Here is what MY COUNTRY is doing to help..
...whats yours doing??

Oh (1.00 / 8) (#104)
by ak1 on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 03:20:19 AM EST

They're shipping them to Guantanamo Bay, as you can clearly see on these pictures. Disgusting.

[ Parent ]
US contributions: $1.19 per capita (3.00 / 2) (#112)
by buzh on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 10:12:13 AM EST

According to this article on CNN my home country, Norway, has pledged contributions of $39.50 per capita, the US has so far pledged $1.19 per capita, excluding private and military aid.

--
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -Niels Bohr
[ Parent ]
Bah...there are more people in one US City. (1.00 / 11) (#115)
by dxh on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 11:41:00 AM EST

There are more people in one US city than the entire population of that littleass country.

And seeing as how the socialst goverment in that country owns everything with their huge anyway they should be giving something back to the public.

CALL ME WHEN the PEOPLE OF NORWAY and not your leftest government give as much as the PEOPLE of the US.

[ Parent ]

Reality check (3.00 / 3) (#119)
by buzh on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 01:10:16 PM EST

first, you're very right that norway has few people. So what? Because there's more of you, you might as well give less help?

second, the current norwegian administration is not socialist, but rather it is quite conservative. And they don't own shit, they're elected to manage it for us, the people. (For the record, I don't support the norwegian government or how the country is being run. Socialists in office or not.)

and lastly, while I can't find any numbers on what the US vs. Norwegian PEOPLE donate to charity, according to the Norwegian Red Cross they had raised 80 million NOK on dec 30th, ie about $3 per capita. $3 per norwegian man, woman and child, all privately funded, all checks cleared, after just over four days after the disaster.

So I'M CALLING YOU to tell you to check your fscking bearings before you start waving your flag in peoples faces just out of old habit.
--
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -Niels Bohr
[ Parent ]

Go USA! (2.66 / 3) (#118)
by jolly st nick on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 12:53:46 PM EST

First of all, let me applaud Mr. Egeland for lighting a well needed fire under our ass.

Second, let me point out that government aid is only one part of the spectrum of US response. Catholic Charities, for example, has pledged 25 million.

Third, let me point out as someone who has a little experience in government repsonses to emergencies -- yes much more money will be desperately needed, but not necessarily this week. It's over the long haul. When you dump money on a disaster, it ends up going to the wrong places. While this is inevitable, trying to speed it up makes the waste problem worse. Granted, some waste, even quite a bit of waste is Ok in an emergency, but IMO there is little difference between a pledge of 20 million and 100 million on day seven or eight of a disaster like this. What matters is how that aid is sustained and delivered over the next months. It is not the generosity of our instincts that I doubt, but sustainability of our attention span.

Right now, I think we're doing the right thing, which is delivering the kind of logistical support that the US military is uniquely capable of. Financially, the jury is out and we'll have to see. But I'm proud of the contribution our military is making to the relief effort.

Now, in conclusion, I think Mr. Bush's and Mr. Powell's public responses to Mr. Egeland's tounge lashing were ungracious at the very least. There is something embarassing about living in a country that is so rich and powerful, yet so sensitive to anything that smacks of criticism. I think most Americans are basically good, just as most people around the world. It's just that most of us seem to have a fondness for gauche displays of self-congratulation, and as for the the rest, they have their own narcissistic fondness for displays of self-flagellation.

But, in the end, this situation is not about us and our shortcomings. If having a warm fuzzy feeling helps us do more of the right thing, I say "Go USA!"

[ Parent ]

Logistics (none / 1) (#120)
by buzh on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 01:19:03 PM EST

Absolutely, what is most desperately needed now is not more cash but better logistics so that the help can start to reach it's destinations.

Too bad so much of the US military is tied up in Afghanistan and Iraq; imagine the awe and admiration the US could have reaped from the world if GWB could order his generals to drop whatever they're doing and start helping out those in need.
--
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -Niels Bohr
[ Parent ]

like this? (none / 1) (#126)
by issachar on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 02:28:30 PM EST

these pictures seem to show the US military helping out those in need. Thanks to dxh for the link, although his "my country is doing XYZ, how about yours" attitude is a little irritating. It's about helping people, not taking credit.

But seriously buzh, do you really think that anything the US does to help Tsunami people is going to get the anti-US types thinking... "Gee I guess the USA is a really amazing country. They seem compassionate and kind, not at all like people told me the US government was like." That's right, they're not going to say that. So it's pointless to try help people to get credit. Do it for it's own sake.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

I agree (3.00 / 2) (#128)
by buzh on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 03:08:39 PM EST

Completely. Do the help for it's own sake. And it is great to see the US (and others) put their military to work doing this.

I wanted to write a reply about us govt. relief aid vs. versus the cost of iraq-prescence per minute, but it would bring us nowhere. It's good that the US is contributing with whatever it can afford. I just wish they would spend more on humanitarian work as a whole and converting less into warbucks.
--
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -Niels Bohr
[ Parent ]

OR (none / 0) (#165)
by bobbuck on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:32:40 PM EST

Wouldn't it be better if Al-Qaeda and the terrorists quit? They're going to lose anyway, why not now?

[ Parent ]
Why exclude private and military aid? (none / 0) (#173)
by smithmc on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 10:44:10 AM EST


There are some private US citizens putting up a lot of money (like, a million bucks at a time). Why don't they count? Are any Norwegians doing that?

[ Parent ]
"Stingy" (2.80 / 5) (#129)
by jabber on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 03:33:25 PM EST

My view on this is that if the shoe fits, wear it. If the US as an entity, and it's citizens, gave in all sincerity, the word would not have evoked such a reaction. While the US is inarguably among "the world's richest nations", a slight is only a slight if you take offense.

Now... with all due consideration to the Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy... The US was pledging $35 million before the "insult" and has subsequently raised that pledge ten-fold - but not before Pfizer pledged $35 million all by itself.

Consequent statistical gymnastics to demonstrate how and why the US is not "stingy" serve only to expose America's guilty conscience, IMHO.

Whether the US should or ought be giving more is only the business of the US. It's not "charity" if you're goaded into it. But, the fact of the matter remains - the US is in a position of unique qualification - it can match the combined total pledged by the rest of the world. It could. It would take some doing, but it could.

Further, the US is in a very unique position politically. It could lead by example. It could see to a more peaceful world a generation from now, by applying a version of the Marshall Plan to the stricken areas today. Failing to do so may see us invading and fighting insurgents in Indonesia in a few decades.

It's not really charity after all. It's an investment.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Few points... (2.66 / 3) (#131)
by efexis on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 05:06:40 PM EST

American citizens donate to charities through which they channel funds to world

Do you think this isn't happening in other countries? I think it is you know! I don't think people check how much their government's donating before deciding how much to donate themselves. We give what we can, not what we think we should.

If all the charity contributed by private citizens and corporations is added, American generosity dwarfs that of the government

Yes but we also know that cororations like to write off things like that against their allowance of tax-deductable donations to charity. It's only a donation if they don't write it off.

No other nation is able to move goods and services to disaster areas like the United States can. No other nation has the capability to rebuild quickly in distant lands like the US

*cough* iraq *cough*

*laugh* (none / 1) (#136)
by aphrael on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 08:37:11 PM EST

There's a huge difference between using resources to rebuild in a country where the people want you there and trying to rebuild in a country where the people don't want you there. This is evident in the different success levels of rebuilding in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example.

[ Parent ]
guh! (none / 0) (#187)
by efexis on Fri Jan 07, 2005 at 03:33:10 PM EST

Oh come on, I wasn't seriously comparing iraq to the areas hit by the earthquake/tsunami!

[ Parent ]
So, how many... (none / 0) (#172)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 08:31:32 AM EST

nuclear powered water purification/desalinization plants is your country sending? How many hospitals?

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]
So, how many... (none / 0) (#188)
by efexis on Fri Jan 07, 2005 at 03:42:39 PM EST

That's a well thought argument you have there, my answer would be 'none I hope'. It would be far more efficient to help build the stuff over there, than to say, "send a hospital". But we all know how much america likes to show off.

[ Parent ]
bad social science. (2.50 / 4) (#134)
by aphrael on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 08:09:22 PM EST

How do we know that the total death toll for a tsunami in 1819 was 1543? Who collected the statistics?

Not to be a jerk or anything, but i'm extremely skeptical of these numbers: none of the governments of the area in that era seem likely to have been capable of counting such numbers accurately.

Criticism of arab stinginess (2.66 / 3) (#135)
by aphrael on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 08:35:45 PM EST

Such criticism has been set forth by newspapers in the Arab world itself, as noted in this International Herald Tribune report. See also Radio Free Europe.

one of the five pillars of Islam (none / 0) (#170)
by the sixth replicant on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 07:29:53 AM EST

is to give 5%(?) of your income to charity. most muslims give a lot more.

ciao

[ Parent ]

close... (none / 1) (#178)
by issachar on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 11:47:43 PM EST

You're thinking of the Fourth Pillar of Islam. It's referred to as the Zakat and it's a required payment of 2.5% of a Muslim's wealth, (not their income).

The percentage thing is the tithe which is Jewish & Christian. 10% of your income goes right back to God.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Dollar for Dollar (1.50 / 2) (#137)
by D Jade on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 08:48:41 PM EST

I agree Jan Egeland's assertion that the American Government should be providing more aid in proportion to their GDP. The fact is that as western countries we enjoy the prosperity and health that we have because of the exploitation of weaker economies such as those affected by the shockwaves. I'm no expert on the subject. But I'm sure some of the armchair experts here on K5 can provide some biassed perspective on this.

Apparently, Australians have donated $AU96 Million to date, this figure being $AU46 Million more than our government's initial donations for aid. This means that for every Australian has donated $AU 5.00.

What I think the governemnts should do in addition to their initial aid provisions is match their citizens dollar for dollar on further donations.

Personally, I think that no cost is too much to provide relief for the affected nations. We have never seen a disaster of this magnitude and probably won't for some time. I have been so moved to see the generosity of my fellow citizens here with some of the highest donations ever seen.

Having been on vacation for the past few weeks, I am not really up-to-date with the goings on in the world. But I would hope that this generosity of charity is being seen throughout the western world.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive

BBC last night (none / 0) (#169)
by the sixth replicant on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 07:28:31 AM EST

had the Australian government giving 765 million USD (the highest giver so far). It has a coastline with the Indian Ocean so I think it will do wonders for it's so-and-so image in the area

Ciao

[ Parent ]

So, the naval fleet we sent (none / 0) (#171)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 08:19:08 AM EST

You know, the ships that are providing water purification, hospitals, stuff like that?

Apparently it costs 2.5 million per day to deploy those ships. So if they're there for another 30 months, that's another couple of hundred million the US has spent, on top of the aid pledges and private donations.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

That's great! (none / 1) (#207)
by D Jade on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 07:42:42 PM EST

But why is it that many Americans view the statement of an idea (ie: dollar for dollar) as an attack on the US government's spending?

My statement was not an attack on any government's spending. More that it was an idea. Since making the statement, our respective governments have eclipsed the donations made by the general public and that's fantastic.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

USA is doing fine... (none / 1) (#140)
by dxh on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 12:24:20 AM EST

From: http://www.techcentralstation.com/010405G.html

Has the US been stingy in its response to the tsunami disaster in Asia? Depends on whom you ask. Some people at the United Nations think so. Other people, like the Hudson Institute's Carol Adelman, writing in the New York Times, think government aid isn't the only barometer of a country's compassion. She says we should consider private donations as well.

At TCS, we'd like to propose consideration of another standard of compassion: Amazonian compassion.

Shortly after the disaster, Amazon.com made its websites available for individuals to give donations to help with tsunami relief. Below you'll find amounts given by the residents of several different nations (as of 10:30 a.m. EST, January 4) to that country's Red Cross as well as approximate per capita donations.

USA: http://www.amazon.com/
http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/ts/my-pay-page/PX3BEL97U9A4I/104-4679654-9766331
Total collected: $13,910,657.00
Number of donations: 171,710
Population of USA: 293,027,571
Approximate per capita donation to RC thru Amazon: $0.0475

Canada: http://www.amazon.ca/
http://s1.amazon.com/paypage/P1K4EVLBRBZ771/104-4679654-9766331
Total collected: $62,579.82
Number of donations: 1,023
Population of Canada: 32,507,874
Approximate per capita donation to RC thru Amazon: $0.0019

United Kingdom: http://www.amazon.co.uk/
http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/ts/my-pay-page/P3RDR40PV9HS5E/104-4679654-9766331
Total collected: $391,910.39
Number of donations: 7,611
Population of United Kingdom: 60,270,708
Approximate per capita donation to RC thru Amazon: $0.0065

Germany: http://www.amazon.de/
http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/ts/my-pay-page/P3USRMAJ8GVL0F/104-4679654-9766331
Total collected: $170,477.00
Number of donations: 3,427
Population of Germany: 82,424,609
Approximate per capita donation to RC thru Amazon: $0.0021

France: http://www.amazon.fr/
http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/ts/my-pay-page/PMS8ISE6626LD/104-4679654-9766331
Total collected: $29,161.50
Number of donations: 795
Population of France: 60,424,213
Approximate per capita donation to RC thru Amazon: $0.0005

Japan: http://www.amazon.co.jp/
http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/ts/my-pay-page/P3C9345RXUJQOM/104-4679654-9766331
Total collected: $87,818.00
Number of donations: 2,488
Population of Japan: 127,333,002
Approximate per capita donation to RC thru Amazon: $0.0007

Personally, I think its great what Amazon has done.  They were right on top of the issue from the start.

But.. (none / 0) (#154)
by buzh on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 09:08:04 AM EST

Amazon hasn't got nearly the turnover or market share in any of those countries compared to the US one, afaik..

Informational value would be better with numbers directly from the Red Cross of the various countries.
--
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -Niels Bohr
[ Parent ]

wow (none / 0) (#156)
by DominantParadigm on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 09:43:11 AM EST

teh techcentralstation is apparently populated by idiots without even rudamentary (sp?) statistics knowledge

Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
Really, really stupid (none / 1) (#161)
by Rk on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 02:05:05 PM EST

Yeah, and what percentage of, say, Germans do you think actually use Amazon, as opposed to, for example, German book stores? Perhaps it might have something to do with Amazon being an American company focussing on English-speaking customers?

[ Parent ]
A disservice to the US and the rest of the world (none / 0) (#183)
by Trepalium on Fri Jan 07, 2005 at 12:19:25 AM EST

Americans have donated far more than $0.0475 per capita. The private donations to the Red Cross alone total at least $100 million so far, plus the government pledge of $350 million, plus all the other charities that are collecting for this cause. Canadians have donated $34 million to Red Cross alone and another $13 million to other charities involved, which is supposed to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Canadian government. I would imagine other countries figures are similar, but I have not taken the time to look them up. Let's be honest. Most countries intial pledge was a little low as they gauged public reaction. When it became obvious that the public would support use of money in this way, the pledges increased. However, the fact remains, THIS IS NOT A CONTEST. No one wins if you're country is the biggest donater, but everyone loses if not enough is donated.

[ Parent ]
If I hear or see or read (1.42 / 7) (#149)
by bg on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 06:30:15 AM EST

Any more of this shit I'm going to send shockwaves through my local Indonesian restraunt.

So fucking over it.

- In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.

Sell your TV, go offline (none / 0) (#155)
by buzh on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 09:18:20 AM EST

Nothing short of that will stop this from being in your face for the next 6 months at least, it seems. Possibly even more, if the situation isn't handled properly right now.

Which is just as well, maybe it will put a lid on some of the nonsense media-fluff we've grown increasingly accustomed to over the last few years.

This is the biggest single disaster since the Hiroshima/Nagasaki nukings, and I'd rather face the overload of news from that than another fscking word about Janet Jackson's nipple or some other non-issue that the conservative media has proved themselves likely to broadcast when they have nothing else to say.
--
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -Niels Bohr
[ Parent ]

Serious? (none / 0) (#163)
by Uber Banker 2 on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 07:50:50 PM EST

This is the biggest single disaster since the Hiroshima/Nagasaki nukings

Errr, no. Not by a long shot. What about millions in Africa dying in mutual genocide. What about more than this dying from the effects of AIDS every month (note, if your are a Christian homophobic, note that more than half of this figire comes from devout Christians)

This tragic disaster is nicely encapsulable by mainstream media, advertisers are quite happy to fund this type of tradegy reporting. There are far far more tragic disasters happenning every month, which are not 'nice and easy' to justify to advertisers, hence you (apparantly) don't know of their existence, hence you don't care.

Of course Japan is nice as a reference as its clean, easy to understand, adaptable, non threatening.

[ Parent ]
You're talking about ongoing social issues (none / 0) (#168)
by D Jade on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 01:32:13 AM EST

This is not a social issue. This is not about welfare, disease or prejudice. This is about near (or is it more now?) than 200,000 people dying almost at once. I don't think you will find 200,000 AIDS victims all dying simultaneously, nor would you find 200,000 being killed in a matter of a few hours.

I understand your point of view though I disagree with it (for once). This is a tragedy that has affected the lives of so many people and has caused more devastation than AIDS (though the same could not be said of genocide, I'll grant you that). Not only is this about 200,000 dead people, it is also about the millions who now have no homes, jobs or any kind of stability to speak of. If you're over it, go watch MTV or some shit...

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

Private Donation (none / 0) (#175)
by projectpaperclip on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 11:53:09 AM EST

"If all the charity contributed by private citizens and corporations is added, American generosity dwarfs that of the government."

"no tracking system exists that captures every donation that Americans make."

How can these two statements follow each other? If there is no tracking system for private donations, there is no way of knowing if they "dwarf" government spending or not. You are asking us to just believe your word that private donations outpace government donations. The linked article certainly does not show private donations exceeding the $350 million already pledged by the US. That article is outdated, and refers to a previous amount of $35 million in government spending, so it really does not back up the point you're trying to make.

The problem with all of these arguments (online, offline) about western (not just US) stinginess, is not that people say the US isn't giving a great amount of money, but that it is NOT PROPORTIONAL to a) the resources it consumes, and b) the amount of money it has. As a country we take so much (25% of world resources, not in proportion to our population, landmass, or any other even our output/exports), and give so little back in comparison. The millions we spend look generous in absolute numbers, but it is no sacrifice for us, not a contribution we have to think about, because we already have so much. If we are doing so great now, think of how much better we could do. I'm sure most of the people who think we are doing so great already are the types who do not want to cut spending for other programs (military for example), even though such a trade off would (IMO) increase our security more than all of the failed programs we waste money on now (missile defense, intelligence blunders, "homeland" defense).

It doesn't matter ... (none / 0) (#190)
by cdguru on Fri Jan 07, 2005 at 06:29:39 PM EST

Why? Because it is pointless. All the possible aid in the world isn't going to help these people. Most of them are going to die. We can try to help them and make sure that every starving, disease-ridden one of them gets their 30 seconds on camera for the world to see or we can try to forget about the problem. There isn't much of a solution.

Gosh, all the hand-wringing folks just have to ask how this could possibly be. There must be a solution that can be offered to help these people. Right? Any thinking person would conclude this and we just have to give it try, don't we?

Well, let's for a moment consider the Berlin Airlift. It went on for over a year with 225 aircraft involved. The flights were short enough that with 225 aircraft they could have a plane landing every minute - nearly 1440 flights per day. This was to supply everything to a city of (guess) less than 5 million people - just West Berlin. Let's even be generous and say it was 8 million people, around 4 times the population affected by the tsunami. All the airfields used were intact and one additional one was constructed. The basic infrastructure of Berlin was intact - water, electricity, roads, bridges, etc. All of the people affected were within less than 50 miles of the airfields.

Now compare this to the situation where the tsunami struck:

  • No electricity, no water, and not likely to be any for some time in many areas.
  • No airfields within reach, or at least none functioning.
  • No existing infrastructure. The roads, bridges, etc. are gone, where there were roads.
  • The people are far from supplies - for a similar amount of supplies to be ferried, it would require far more aircraft, assuming there was somewhere to land them.

See, the problem is that this is going to have to go on until these people can grow crops again, until the roads are repaired, until they have boats to resume fishing again. We are looking at supporting around 2 million people by ferrying supplies to them - everything, food, water, clothing, what have you. And doing it for at least six months.

The answer is that is can't be done. Not in time to prevent many, many of these people from starving to death. Simply because we can't bring in enough over long distances to support them until the infrastructure is repaired.

[ Parent ]

what i'm really dreading (none / 0) (#177)
by wampswillion on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 08:35:29 PM EST

what i'm really dreading is the impending tsunam-aid concert. cause then i'll have to watch the footage from that for the next 50 years and have to hear how all the "artists" went about saving the world and all. that stuff really gags me. don't you guys know that the IMPORTANT thing here is that the rubberband man didn't die? so ok, seriously- i'm not always a very patriotic citizen really but i do have to say that i am glad to live in a country whose people have the ability and do respond to people in need at times. and i very much agree on someone's point about how the us government can be MOST helpful by utilizing their ability to mobilize and get the food and help to these people and it should not be wounded by anyone's criticism about the level of us giving. and i would hope that as we argue about whether or not the us government should be giving more or less and which nations give how much and whether muslims are more generous than christians etc. or how lacking the warning system was- that we do not lose sight of the fact that the tsunami victims probably do NOT care how help gets to them or who gives it- they just need it.

Re: Why is the United States so stingy? (none / 1) (#186)
by Abacus on Fri Jan 07, 2005 at 09:22:23 AM EST

Saudi Tsunami Fundraising Drive Raises over $30 million in First Day Saudi Arabia Television held a fundraising drive for the victims of the tsunami and raised a little over $30 million on the first day. Saudi Arabia's per capita income is about $8500 per year according to the Atlas method, and there are about 15 million Saudi citizens. The one-day donation total equals $2 per citizen in absolute terms. Given the difference in per capita income and population, it is as though private US donors gave over $3 billion in a single day. From http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/saudi-tsunami-fundraising-drive-raises.html

Thanks to everyone (none / 0) (#191)
by JohnnyCannuk on Sat Jan 08, 2005 at 12:30:41 PM EST

Rather than making this into a "pissing contest" as to who can help more or give more aid, I would like to say "thank you" to all countries, individuals and even corporations for their help. It is good to see that millions of us are willing to help our fellow humans for no other reason than they are human.

But even in this wonderful, worldwide outpouring of altruism, we must be on guard. As horrible as it sounds, there are unethical individuals and organizations that are ready to take advantage of this tragedy for their own agendas (some are already doing so).

Mostly I am talking about Evengelicals and Fundementalist Christians who are rubbing their hands with glee at the opportunity to try to gain converts in South Asia.

Samaritan's Purse is one such organization that already has people on the ground. They have been criticised, even by other Christians and aid groups, for caring more about conversion than for providing aid.

Similarly, last night on Larry King Live, Albert Mohler Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said:

"We are to do good things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that means we have to tell people we're doing this because God has sent his son who died on Calvary's cross and was raised by the power of God as the only way of bringing life out of death. And thus we take the good news of Christianity as we do these acts in Christ's name. Mr. King, as you look at this program today, you have two very different understandings of God. Christians don't believe that God is some cosmic principle. We believe that he is the triune personal God who has revealed himself in his word, he has told us who he is, and he has told us how we can come to have peace with him. And we act in Christ's name. Christians don't do this -- we're all united on this program in brokenhearted concern for the people of south Asia. But for the Christian, that concern is not only for this life, but even more urgently, for the life that is to come. That's what drives us in our concern."(Emphasis mine)

Essentially what Mohler is saying here is that Christians should go to South Asia and win converts because he is more concerned "for the life that is to come". His comments about the "cosmic principle" was a direct and thinly vieled attack on Bhante G., the Buddhist monk that had just spoken. He seemed throughout the show to be more concerned with converting the heathens to Chritianity than to giving them food and shelter. Mohler demonstrated the attitude that the disater should be taken advantage of in order to spread Christianity to the (mostly) Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist victims. Nothing like taking advantage of someone when they are down...

Luckily, Dr. Maher Hathout, the Muslim shcolar on the panel, brought the panel back to the task at hand when he said:

"I want to clarify a point which I think is very important in this panel. This is a magnitude of disaster that we -- unprecedented maybe. We cannot be exclusive here. I'm disturbed to say I offer the charity if it's only in the name of Jesus. And offer that. Because I can see down the road, some problematic tone to go to, for example, a Buddhist area, say I'm giving you that in the name of Jesus. Or to a Muslim area and say the same. I think this is the time now...It is time now to say, if you believe in God, serve his creatures. Express your devotion to God in whatever way you believe in God. But now to express that, it should be in helping those people."

We should help because they are humans. We should give what we can and what we want. But this tragedy is not an opportunity to make money, or to win converts to your religion, or to show how good your country is and how bad others are for not meetng your donation levels.

This is an opportunity to forget about religion and simply show compassion and caring for our fellow humans, and see what comes out of that...


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift

How very enlightened... (none / 1) (#192)
by issachar on Sat Jan 08, 2005 at 04:24:12 PM EST

Instead of this being a pissing contest between nations, you seem to see it as a way of just criticizing Christian aid groups. Christians are rubbing their hands with glee are they? They're happy this happened? Riiigghhtt... Your implication that Christians are giving assistance with strings attached only further demonstrates your ignorance.

Let's be clear. Christians do not give out aid dependent on people accepting Christ. Period. They give out aid because Jesus told them to. They're not there to convert people, they're there save lives. They share the news about Jesus because Christians always share the news about Jesus. It's what we do. We share our faith when we're at home, we share it when we're abroad. This is a good thing.

We are concerned about the welfare of people. Both spiritual and physical. Both are important to God, so they're both important to Christians. We don't do the physical aid to "get to the important stuff". They're both vital. Jesus was very clear on that. Your projection of your biases onto Christians doesn't change our motivations.

Nothing like taking advantage of someone when they are down...
I'm sorry, but isn't it just a tad arrogant to think that people in foreign lands need to be protected from Christians sharing their faith because they've been hit by a Tsunami? I think people are quite capable of thinking for themselves. Perhaps the problem is that if people see Christ's compassion in the actions of his followers they might not buy the "Christians are out to get you" myth.

Oh, and the implication at the end that Christians see this as an opportunity to make money? Just a tad crass & bigoted of you.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Please re-read my post (none / 0) (#194)
by JohnnyCannuk on Sat Jan 08, 2005 at 09:05:39 PM EST

I said there are SOME Chritian groups acting this way, most certianly not all of them. WorldVision and Save the Children are two highly respected Christian charities that are on the ground in South Asia and doing wonderful work. They deserve support. They certainly aren't tying aid to conversion.

Samaritan's Purse, on the other hand, has a history of connecting aid to conversion and they are of concern to other Christians as well. More disgustingly, they target children and try to convert these kids away from the religion of their home.

And I believe my direct quotes from Mohler himself indicate his intentions. The Catholic priest Father Michael Manning, who also appeared on Larry King, agreed with Dr. Hathout.

I have no problem with the majority of Christians that are helping. They are, as you say, there to save lives. But the examples I gave are not those kinds of Christians. I therefore warned about them and named them in order to remind everyone that there are unscroupulous, unethical individuals and groups doing these things. Just as you would expect to be warned of unethical contractors descending on Florida after a hurricane, you should be warned of unethical religious organizations decending on South Asia. Both are taking advantage of people in their hour of greatest need.

Also remember that many of these people already have a religion. They really would rather have food and shelter. They don't want to hear about Jesus, no matter how good you think the news is.

If there was an earthquake in California that killed 200 000 people and a Muslim oranization provided millions in aid, but also used to opportunity to try to convert those "Christians" (I know, big assumption but you get the idea), how would you feel?

Why can't we just help them and leave it at that?


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

well that's something... (none / 0) (#197)
by issachar on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 06:42:30 AM EST

I'm glad to hear you see the positive contribution by World Vision and others.

Having said that I read your two links and they don't seem to back up your original assertion. You implied that some Christians were making receipt of aid dependent on conversion. The link to VisionTV doesn't back that up. In fact it confirms my point that Christians are handing out aid and are sharing their faith at the same time. There's a big difference there. The first is having bread in your hand and making sure they listen to you before you hand out the food. The second is the natural sharing of your faith that comes from compassion. As I said, this is what Christians do, and it comes in addition to aid.

The Guardian article was also interesting. Quote: "Belief and action are ultimately inseparable." Exactly. Putney does seem to have some hangups about evangelicalism and the United States, but he provides nothing that suggests any kind of theory of how to separate the inseperable. I also find it a bit rich of him to quote a CAIR rep saying that Muslims have no problem with missionaries, just with missionaries who also do aid work... Riigghtt. That's why missionaries are routinely tossed out of Islamic countries, and why it's illegal to preach to Muslims and why it's illegal for Muslims to convert to Christianity. I'm sure Putney is aware of this, but the omission suggests that he's trying to distort the facts to make his arguments sound better.

I see a huge problem if someone is taking advantage of people in a down & out state. Saying "Get baptised and you can eat" is wrong. But giving people aid and sharing your faith as part of your life is not wrong. It's the difference between coercion and showing compassion while simulataneously respecting aid recipients as autonomous human beings.

Also remember that many of these people already have a religion. They really would rather have food and shelter. They don't want to hear about Jesus, no matter how good you think the news is.
And that's fine. They don't have to change religions. But it's a bit arrogant of you to decide that they don't want to hear about Jesus and what they would rather have. They're also not a homogenous group. They're people.

How would I feel if Muslims gave assistance to earthquake victims in California and told them about Islam? Just dandy. And it would be pretty arrogant of anyone to suggest that they should just hand out the food and shut up about their most deeply held beliefs.

This also doesn't address the smear job you did by saying that some Christians were "rubbing their hands with glee" post-Tsunami. That's just bigoted.


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Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Yes it does... (none / 0) (#198)
by JohnnyCannuk on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 10:30:27 AM EST

Again, you talk about Christians in general, I talked about specifics.

In the Vision article, which is about Samaritans Purse, it does talk about various other aid organizations (including Christian ones) that are concerned with their methods. They have been known to require people to listen to preaching in a revival tent before being allowed to get their aid, among other things, including upsetting the Catholic Church in Nicaragua.They also specifically target the must vulnerable in any society - children, rather than adults who can at least try to stand up to them. It was founded and run by Franklin Graham, who has been criticised for his anti-Muslim views. Do we really want these guys in a Muslim Country? Nope.

And that's fine. They don't have to change religions. But it's a bit arrogant of you to decide that they don't want to hear about Jesus and what they would rather have. They're also not a homogenous group. They're people.

I thinks its a bit arrogant of you to decide they do want to hear about Jesus. And I don't think its arrogant of me to suggest that people who have lost everything in a tsunami would want food and shelter rather than preaching and attempts to convert them. Its just common sense.

And it would be pretty arrogant of anyone to suggest that they should just hand out the food and shut up about their most deeply held beliefs.

Really? That's what most other aid organizations, including many of the Christian (and other religions) based ones, do every day around the world. That's the point of my original post - give them aid because they need it.

This also doesn't address the smear job you did by saying that some Christians were "rubbing their hands with glee" post-Tsunami. That's just bigoted.

Again, re-read the comments by Albert Mohler. I also had the opportunity to see him on Larry King. He was almost salivating at idea of being able to go to South Asia to get converts. His words that I quoted make it clear he is more interested in getting converts than anything else. How is presenting specific examples that actually show some Christians "rubbing their hands with glee" bigoted?

I have no problem with people and organizations discussing their faith in these situations if asked, but I think it is taking advantage of the situation to discuss your faith without being asked and to preach it out to desparate, vulnerable people. I also think its disrepectful of their current religion.


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Samaritans Purse... (none / 0) (#202)
by issachar on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 04:24:33 PM EST

Okay I just can't find what you're saying in the article having just re-read it. I did find this:
However, when youngsters receive the packages they are also handed separately a "picture booklet" called The Greatest Gift of All ("if a country allows it," the Samaritan's Purse Web site adds). This booklet is a Bible stories comic - Christian literature, in other words.
But that seems to reinforce the idea that they hand out aid and tell people about Jesus. That's not the problem. Requiring people to listen before you hand out aid is a problem.

Your link to Innovative Minds was more compelling. They claim that Samaritans Purse refused people entry to US AID provided homes until they listened to preaching. If true, this is very wrong. I say "if" because they don't link to their source in the footnote. I found the source on NYTimes, but it's not available online without purchase, so referencing it here does very little. I did find this though which states that they "held prayer sessions in several villages before showing residents how to build their metal and plastic shelters". That's a bit different from what Innovative Minds said when they said reciplients were required to attend evangelising prayer sessions, but still it's worrisome.

It's also difficult to see how you could ask Christians not to pray as they go about doing aid work. It's what we do. We pray. Now we should not require people to attend our prayer meetings or require them to pray but we should be allowed to pray. It seems from the linked article that Innovative Minds disagrees. That's also wrong.

It's disappointing that Innovative Minds condemns people for trying to bypass "local laws preventing missionary activity" while seemingly having no problem with those laws in the first place. Reading their article I find that they seem to have a problem with the idea of telling Muslims about Christianity at all. Well I'm sorry if they feel that way, but if that's the case then they're wrong.

I thinks its a bit arrogant of you to decide they do want to hear about Jesus.

I think that the least arrogant thing to do is to hand out aid and tell people why you're doing if you want to tell them. Let them decide to listen to you or not. Believe it or not some do. Some don't. Let them decide. I know people who work overseas providing relief work. Believe it or not they get asked questions like "Why would you come all this way to help me?".

Christian aid groups that hand out aid and never share their faith? Really? You mentioned World Vision earlier. They do great work, but I know for a fact that they share their faith in what they do. Although they never make receipt of aid dependent on listening to the gospel. Telling people about Jesus is not wrong. It's also a bit much to suggest that you should only share your faith if asked. Exactly how are people supposed to ask you about something they don't know about? I do hear people complaining that you're not respecting someone's religion if you share your faith with them, but that's just not a valid complaint. It's a territoriality that's hard to rationalize. "The people here are already Muslim, they're off limits". Is the implication and it's present in Innovative Minds' writings. That's just wrong. We are all people and compartmentalizing us is a bad idea.

"Rubbing their hands with glee" is a smear job because it implies that those Christians are glad the disaster occured. That's not fair. Finding something positive in a disaster you wish had never occured is not "rubbing your hands with glee".

I believe very strongly in the free exchange of ideas including spiritual ones. Have you noticed that Islam & Christianity both say that they are the only path to God? They cannot both be right. So (at least) one is a dillusion. Assume for sake of simplicity that those are the only two faiths in the world. How much sense would it make to just divide the world into two zones and have neither talk to the other about faith? If you did that, you guarantee one of the zones is living in dillusion. Now back to more than 2 faiths. The same principle applies. That's why I believe in the free exchange of ideas, and I strongly believe that in such an environment the truth will rise to the top.


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Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Wow we should start our own site ;) (none / 0) (#208)
by JohnnyCannuk on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 08:41:57 PM EST

See my other comments in the other thread.

I agree with everything you say about the free exchange of ideas. I just don't think an emergency situation during a catastrophe is the right place to do it. Give out aid. Talk about Jesus to them next summer (unless they ask you, of course).

I still maintain people under the duress of a tragedy of such magnitude cannot make informed decisions. That is why the Samaritans Purse story regarding the USAID tents is so despicable...does a homeless, hungry person in a disater zone really have the choice?

Now again, I restate that I did not intend to give the impression that all Christians were "rubbing their hands with glee". I did not even intend to state that the people who are "rubbing their hands with glee" are glad that the disaster happened. But they are opportunists, who take advantage of a tragedy for their own ends and with their own interests in mind - getting more converts - rather than the immediate needs and interests of the people they are supposed to help. I find that disgusting and unethical.

I also centred out Samaritan's Purse because, as I believe I have shown (I hate that NYT thing - it is there though) they have a history of acting unethical in these situations.

And I centred out Albert Mohler Jr. because I witnessed first hand (as did millions of people around the world) his disrespect and single-minded need to convert. It made Larry King and the other panel members visibly uncomfortable. I was warning against his ilk.

I have no problem with WorldVison (or the Aga Khan Foundation for that matter) because, athough they proselyse, they are at least ethical. They do not deny aid, or make aid conditional. Samaritans Purse does. Albert Mohler Jr., by his own words, would take advantage.

Let me put it this way:

You and I are neighbours. They house between us burns to the ground. You and I would rush out and give the family clothes, food, let them stay in our homes and help them clean up the mess. It wouldn't matter what their religion was. Perhaps they are Muslims. You and I would not start handing out Bibles or copies of the Dharmapada while they are still standing on their front lawn. We wouldn't do it even if they were in our living room getting warm. If they ask we would say " I do this because its my duty as a Christian to help" or "I do this because as a Buddhist I must try to reduce suffering in the world" or something similar. After their home is rebuilt, the family might think "you know, those Christians are pretty nice, generous people" or "gee I thought all Buddhists did was wear orange and chant, they are just like me". Heck they may even decide to come to your church or my temple. Or we may decide to go to their mosque ;). Whatever the result, we will all be friends and understand each other a bit better.

But now imagine another neighbour, across the street. She sees the family on their lawn and offers to help. But she insists that in order to get the food, they have to read her Christian comic book, or listen to a sermon. In order to enter her house for shelter they, they must have a prayer with her, or worse. She wants to help them but this is the perfect time to get them to convert, since they are not Christian and she considers them "lost" and bound to burn in hell if they don't. Now what is the family to do? If they want to eat of have shelter they don't have much choice (imagine for a moment you or I aren't home at the time). What might happen? Perhaps out of desparation some of the family decide to do it. Say that some even decide to become Christians. The others do not. The family is now divided, one side angry at their newly converted kin and angry and resentful at the nieghbour that divided their family, the other side, newly converted and trying to get the rest of their family to "join up" or hating them for remaining "heathens". Worse yet, perhaps some parts of the family choose not to seek the neighbour's assistance at all, because they love their current religion and decide that staying in the cold is preferable. Perhaps they die. Perhaps they get sick and end up spreading disease to other neighbours.

All in all not a pretty picture.

Now which scenario whould you rather see occur in my admittedly contrived example?

That nieghbour accross the street is Samaritan's Purse or opportunists like Mohler. You and I represnt WorldVision or the Red Cross or other, more ethical aid agencies. Do you see the danger I'm trying to avoid?

I realized my example is somewhat simplistic, but I think it demonstrates the point.


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Is it wrong? (none / 0) (#214)
by chris at redeeming us on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 03:10:10 PM EST

In Florida (and most tourist areas) there are these things called "timeshares".  Their primary form of advertising is kiosks and such that offer free tickets to places, cash, and other perks.

The catch is you have to listen to a presentation and look at their properties.

At the end of which they give you your reward whatever it is.

Is that wrong?  Should they simply give me the money or reward and have me leave never knowing why they are there?

I don't think so.

If I give money to a Christian charity then I expect that the people receiving the money on the other end should know *WHY* I gave something to them.  

It is entirely more important to me that they hear what motivated me to provide for them than it is for me to simply give them something.

To me it's a matter of life and death.  To not know Jesus as your personal lord and savior when we leave this world is death.  Others might say it's an eternity spent in hell.  Some might picture it as the fire and brimstone.  I just think it's being apart from God with the knowledge that you could have been with him.  Whatever the case though the Bible is very clear that we will be judged and their are two places that we can go.

To borrow from a friend of mine...If I knew that tsunamis were on their way to the beach I would have wanted to run up and down the beaches warning people to get back that disaster was coming.  

I bet some people would have thought I was crazy and would have ignored me...but maybe some would listen.

Well my faith that Jesus is the lord and savior, the only way that I can get to heaven compels me or agents of myself, through my donations, to run all over the world telling people that Jesus is the only way to avoid disaster when the time comes for each of us.  

For thousands of years Christians have been in a panicked rush to tell people about Jesus because we don't know when it will be judgment day.

A large part of the 150,000 people that are gone after the waves came didn't know Jesus.  Many of them probably never even had a chance to know him.  That is a failure for each of us Christians.  So don't think for a second that any Christian relishes the destruction as an evangelical tool but take note that when I give it will be with the direct hope that my money will bring people everlasting life...not simply temporary nourishment for this world.

It never ceases to amaze me the indignation that people want to place Christians in.  The attitude that when we feel compelled to give our money we are supposed to check our faith at the door is repulsive.  

That attitude lacks any form of tolerance for my very real beliefs.  What it says is "I think so little of your beliefs that you need to shut up and sit down."  How repulsive.

I would never say that and I would particularly never say that to someone that is offering me assistance that I really need.

It's like someone on welfare telling the government that they aren't going to fill out the paperwork but still demanding the money.

That is completely ridiculous.

[ Parent ]

+10k (none / 0) (#215)
by DominantParadigm on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 07:18:47 PM EST

equates goods and services essential to survival with a fucking time share

Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
not a legitimate comparison (none / 0) (#218)
by issachar on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 08:47:58 PM EST

Your comparison to time share presentations is not legitimate because they're a secular issue and not a command from God. I've linked to the reference already but I'll quote:
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'
Those who don't help the downtrodden get "Away with you, you cursed ones".

You're right to see the urgency of people's spiritual need, but it's still very wrong to force anyone to listen before you help them. Christ said to help them. He didn't say help with conditions. He also said to preach the gospel and we should, but there must never be any coercion involved. Christ could have used it, but he didn't. Therefore we should not.


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Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

I think we agree a bit... (none / 0) (#216)
by issachar on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 08:40:25 PM EST

although I'm not sure we'd agree where the "line" is. I'm glad to hear you're not implying what I thought you were, but it did sound as though you were. I'm glad to be corrected.

I did not see Albert Mohler Jr.'s statements and I'm not so foolish as to try and defend every action by every Christian. I would hope that every Christian is true to his faith and cares for both the body and the soul as Christ commanded.

As for the Samaritan's Purse - USAid thing... There issue hinges on the issue of coercion and force. Thing thing is that we do have a history of being maligned as using force to convert when we are doing no such thing. It's just that more people are becomming Christians than local religious authorities would like. As such I tend to be distrustful of sites like Innovative minds whose recounting of the NY Times article adds more than is readily apparent. (And if you think the NYTimes registration is bad, try the Globe & Mail).

In your example I definately see the danger you're trying to avoid. I have a vested interest in avoiding it because that scenario stains me as a Christian and brings the name of Jesus into disrepute. The only thing I would add is that I while I wouldn't stuff bibles into people's hands or force them to attend my Church before dinner, I would not keep my faith a secret. By that I mean that I would invite them to my Church as they're staying in my house. If they don't want to come that's fine and they're still welcome to stay, but I would invite them. I would also continue to pray at meals when they're sharing them with me. That's living my faith while living beside them. It's not force, but some people (not you) say it is. That's my frustration.

As for starting our own site, are you sure? This has to be the longest running religiously themed conversation that hasn't descended into trolling and insults. :P


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Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

about the SP Times article... (none / 0) (#203)
by issachar on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 04:31:35 PM EST

Sorry, missed this in my reply. Phillip Gailey may be frustrated that Christian evangelizing in Iraq is making secular efforts to rebuild Iraq difficult, but he's wrong in his solution.

Obviously there are Imams in Iraq who will get angry if some Muslims exercise their free will and become Christians. Doing so is against the Koran and former Muslims have been killed for doing it. But that's the Imam's problem. Complaining that people are leaving your religion is whining and it's not valid.

Quote from Mr. Gailey: "I hope Franklin Graham keeps doing God's work. But not in Iraq, not now.

I'm sorry Mr. Gailey, but sharing our faith is what we do. If you don't like it you might want to consider the implications your statement has for the free exercise of religious faith.


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Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Oh by the way... (none / 0) (#195)
by JohnnyCannuk on Sat Jan 08, 2005 at 09:11:58 PM EST

"They share the news about Jesus because Christians always share the news about Jesus. It's what we do. We share our faith when we're at home, we share it when we're abroad. This is a good thing.

Not all Christians, only Evangelicals. I won't paint the action of all Christian based on the actions of a few if you don't.


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

if you think that... (none / 0) (#196)
by issachar on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 06:04:53 AM EST

then you don't know Christians.

Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant. They all share their faith with people. It's one of those things Jesus told us to do. Christians share their faith.

I can see where you're coming from if by "Christians" you mean cultural christians, but these people aren't actually Christians. It's sort of like people who's parents are in a political party so everyone assumes they're part of the party as well. Christians are people who have a relationship with Christ and who follow the teachings of Christ. These people share their faith because that's part of the teachings of Jesus. Not just the evangelical denomination.


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Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Oh I know Christians.. (none / 0) (#199)
by JohnnyCannuk on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 10:58:26 AM EST

and that's why I am not one anymore.

So, what your saying is the millions of people who attend many mainstream churches but don't "share" their religion are not really Christians? That's a bit presumptious isn't it?

I suppose those Christians that don't think the Bible is literaly true and the inerrant word of God, but a book of stories and parables used to make a point, aren't really Christians.

In my experience, it isn't the Anglicans or the Catholics or the United Church that are comming to my door, hassling me in the street or calling me a heathen, its the fine members of the Alliance Church of Canada, an evangelical church.

Now, I am trying very hard to respect your choice of religion. I am not trying to disuade you from your religion to mine. Why do can't you do the same?

What do you mean by "sharing"? Would you take "No thanks" for an answer? By definition in order to "share", some one offers something and someone else accepts it. If the persons says "No thanks" it should end there. But my experience with Evangelicals is they don't...they pressure, pester and push. They don't take "no" for an answer. You are so convinced you are right and others are wrong, you won't respect their decision to say no.

This is disrepectful. As I said, I am trying very hard to respect your choice of religion, you should accept my choice. If you don't respect me, I may stop repecting you. Do you want that?


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

well... (none / 1) (#201)
by issachar on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 03:11:13 PM EST

I don't think I'm being terribly presumptious. I'm trying to be clear in what I mean. Isn't it reasonable to define a Christian as someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ? It's not something you're born into or get to be by attending a church every Sunday. (Actually "Attend Church" is remarkably absent from Christ's instructions). Being a Christian is an active choice.

If you thinks the Bible is "a book of stories and parables", then they don't believe the core of Jesus' teaching. The man claimed to be God! It's a rather bold claim. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, that means he's either a liar, a malicious jerk or he was telling the truth. Jesus as the gentle rabbi who was a good teacher and nothing more just doesn't wash with his actions and claims. Now I'm not actually intending to proselytize here, as you clerarly don't want that, but I want to suggest that if someone is "along for the ride" at a church without following Christ, then it's fair to say that they're not a Christian. Of course only God truly knows a man's soul, but based on what you can observe...

Now, having said that, I have to say that being a Christian most certainly does not imply that you need to stick your head in the sand and pretend that the KJV is the original Bible and that it was written for a post-Enlightenment western audience rather than an ancient Jewish one. It's not a western history text or court record, but you can't write the whole thing off as originally intended to be a collection of stories. That's not being intellectually honest about the text. Now as for what parts are parables and what parts are history? You have to read the text for that, and Enlish translations won't take you all the way because translations lose meaning.

Now this thread is way off topic, but I'm glad we went here because I think I understand your intentions a bit better. I used to think that people rejected Christianity because of the grand theories, but it seems that many toss it because they see hypocrisy in the self-professed Christians around them. I can't say I blame that anyone for that perspective. The hypocrisy is there. I see it myself, and I do see it in myself, although I try to rid myself of it when I do.

You asked if I would take no for answer if someone didn't want to listen to me. Of course I would. I suppose "share" might be a bad choice of word, but I use the word because "tell" doesn't imply that there will be give and take. I think sharing means you listen to people as well as talk. You form a relationship with them. I hope that someone would want to talk about faith issues with me, but if they don't that's fine. If they do talk about them, but they don't agree with me, that's also fine. I'm not interested in forcing people to agree with me. I invited a friend of mine to church last night, and he didn't want to go. That's fine. I'm not going to harang him until he agrees to come. But we talk about ideas, which means that topics don't just die. We don't kill spiritual discussion just because he doesn't agree with me. We need to have an atmosphere that allows for both which means we need to respect people as human beings. (And to me that means they're images of God and deserving of respect & love).

I think an environment where spiritual issues are discussed is a positive one. The idea that freedom of religion means freedom from religion is a very destructive one. Freedom doesn't mean you purge the public discourse of anything spiritual. I see that as a very poisonous idea. I respect other peoples ideas, but I ideas are meant to be discussed. I don't see them as carved in stone. My ideas aren't.

I'm curious though. What part of Canada are you from? I'm in Coquitlam, BC.


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Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

I appreciate your viewpoint. (none / 0) (#204)
by JohnnyCannuk on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 04:45:21 PM EST

I am in Ottawa.

I'm glad to see you would take no for an answer, but from my experience, you are the exception, not the rule.

As for the people attending church not being Christians, well, they think they are. They follow Jesus's teachings, like "Turn the other cheek", "That which you do to the least of my brethren you do to me" etc. If I remember, being a Christian simply means accepting him as their saviour. Nothing more.

I still believe the Bible is a book of stories and parables. Jesus in fact claimed at least 28 times in the New Teastament that he was NOT God. Up until the Council of Nicea, he was considered a prophet and teacher. Only after 325 A.D did he become elevated to God-hood. Many of the stories of Jesus life, like the miracles, being born of a virgin, even the crucifiction, are found in earlier pagan religions, sometimes verbatim (Osiris, Kirshna, Dionysis etc). As for C.S Lewis, he creates a false "tricotomy"...he completely leaves out the possibilities that Jesus was misquoted or his words were purposely changed after his life for political reasons. He also leaves out the posibility that Jesus never existed.

The Bible as we know it was not written for an ancient Jewish audience, it was put together by a vote of 568 to 563 in 325 AD, while Constantine had Nicea surrounded by a Roman army. If a few more bishops hadn't dies on the way or been prevented from voting, the Bible and probably Christianity would be a very different thing right now. Some of the earliest Christian writings, Paul's letters (written only 20 years after Jesus was supposed to have lived), make no mention of any of the miracles, the virgin birth or the crucifiction. Now most Christians don't know that because its not exactly talked about in church or even in a Bible study.

To give you some insight as to my intentions, I rejected Christianity along time ago, partly because of the way Christians act, but mostly because I actually read the Bible and decided that it made no sense. Don't think I'm picking on Christianity. I am an atheist and I think that Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Wiccans, Pagans and all other Theistic religions are silly superstitions.

Now, even though I believe that, I am pragmatic and also think that people should be allowed to worship purple flying Zebras if they want, so long as its personal and they don't try to force it on others. Personal Freedom OF Religion but mutual respect and freedom FROM religion in society.

I have choosen to follow the human centred philosophy of Buddhism. I also appreciate Taoism. No need for a God, come to it through understanding not blind faith. Test it. if you don't like it, don't find it to be true, move on (I believe Jesus said the same thing in Timothy, no?).

I am married to a Christian (and Evangelical one at that!) and I have asked her many times and never gotten a satisfactory answer:

Jesus has many good messages and teaching, mostly dealing with peace, love, and compassion for our fellow humans. But many other religions also share this. Why is the person of Jeus so important? What if Jesus never existed (and there is a fair amount of historical evidence for this)? How does that change the message? Why should it matter if I got my message to share my wealth with those less fortuneate or to love my neighbour from Jesus, Buddha, the Godess or Mohammed? Isn't the result the same? Why is Christianity such a "cult of peronality" (Islam is the same)?

I think at a very basic level our outlooks on life are identical, save that one metaphysical element. If your ideas are truly not carved in stone, I would challenge you read Tom Harpur's new book "Pagan Christ" and see what you think.

I accept the possibility I am wrong. Do you?


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Christian.... (none / 0) (#206)
by issachar on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 05:21:27 PM EST

Well we've had different experiences because I don't think I'm the exception. Just so I'm clear. If we talked frequently, faith would continue to come up. If you want to talk about anything serious with me it comes up because Christianity is so influential on my thought. But I don't see this as contradicting "taking no for an answer" and I don't suppose you do either.

Being a Christian does mean accepting him as your saviour. I say that you follow Christs teaching, because it's a logical impossibility to accept Christ as your saviour and not follow his teaching. You can't fool God. Accepting him as your saviour means loving him and by consequence everyone else. It's not about "I think my best interest lies here, so I'll agree to let you save me". This is not to say that Christians are perfect followers to Christ. I wish. We're people and we're imperfect.

Jesus said he wasn't God? I think you might be missing the context. I can't help you with that if I don't know what you're referring to though.

The council of Nicea was where the canon was set, but it isn't where the Bible was written. The Old Testament for example was written long before Christ's birth at various times, and the New Testment was written for many different groups. Mostly Jewish. You seem to have had an unfortunate Church background. The Council of Nicea is well known at my Church and we openly talk about the process of canonization. It's part of the Alpha Course for example. It's not exactly a secret.

You are right that C.S. Lewis does leave out the possibility that Jesus never existed, or that he was lied about, although in fairness to Lewis he had addressed those earlier in the book. It is difficult to believe that Jesus never existed though, (I don't suppose you think that, but we were discussing that here). Similarly I find it difficult to buy the theory that he was lied about. He spoke to literally thousands of people. It's a bit difficult to tell big lies about someone if they've been talking to thousands of people openly. But to be fair both those possibilities should be included in Lewis' options, however unlikely they are.

While I respect your choice to reject Christianity I just can't agree that freedom of religion means expunging it from public discourse. "Personal Freedom OF Religion but mutual respect and freedom FROM religion in society." Freedom not to have a state religion jammed down your throat, absolutely. Freedom to be an atheist, absolutely. But you don't tell people they have to keep their beliefs private. I'm not sure if you're saying that, but I hear it a lot and I'm tired of it.

Yes, Jesus did say to test things and see if they were from God. A good idea.

Oh, and I do accept that it's possible that I'm wrong. Obviously I don't think I am, but it's always a possibility. I'll look for Harpur's book.

Why is the person of Jesus so important? Because he died and came back from death 3 days later. Without that Christianity is nothing but a collection of nice ideas. But that is exactly what makes Christianity unique and what makes Jesus so important.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Well.. (none / 0) (#211)
by JohnnyCannuk on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 10:06:01 PM EST

"Why is the person of Jesus so important? Because he died and came back from death 3 days later. Without that Christianity is nothing but a collection of nice ideas. But that is exactly what makes Christianity unique and what makes Jesus so important."

As I said in one of my other posts, claiming that Jesus died and came back from the dead 3 days later is an extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary evidence, other than the uncoroborated writings of a book with dubious historical accuracy.

But beyond that, what's wrong with being a collection of nice ideas? As long as the ideas are good, and provide comfort and alleviate suffering and make the world a better place, what's wrong with that? Why does the message have to be delivered by a diety? Why is the messanger more important than the message?

By the way, dying for the sins of the world, being dead for three days and returning to accend to heaven (and even being called the Son of God) is not unique - Osiris, Mithras, Krishna, Dionysis did them as well. These stories pre-date Christianity by hundreds, even thousands of years. Some, like Mithranism, were contemporary and competing religions to Christianity.

Food for thought...


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

a very extra-ordinary claim (none / 0) (#217)
by issachar on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 08:40:33 PM EST

Coming back from the dead 3 days after being crucified is indeed an extraordinary claim. I'm going to quote Rikk Watts for this one. "I'm not a Christian because I believe in resurections, I'm a Christian because I don't... but this one happened."

Thing thing about noting that there are no non-religious writings recording Jesus' resurection, is that it's a circular argument. (There are many non-Biblical sources, but they are of course texts written by religious people). The thing is that anyone writing on such an event would by definition become a Christian. Ergo their writings would be Christian writings. Look at it this way. If Jesus was crucified today and you saw him die, then saw him come back to life, I think your objections to Christianity would fall by the wayside and you would become a Christian. Thus everything you would write recording the event could later be classed as religious writings by your counterpart 2000 years from now.

It's also a little dubious to suggest that the only source you could trust that records a resurection would be one that said that it didn't happen. Those requirements pre-determine your result.

And what's wrong with it being a nice collection of stories? Well you'd be silly to centre your life around a nice collection of stories the way Christians are supposed to centre their lives around following Christ. That's why the central claim of Christianity of the resurection is so important.

Oh, and there's plenty in Christianity that's found in other faiths. This isn't terribly surprising and if you think about it, it'd be a little odd if there wasn't overlap. Given for the moment that everything Christ taught is the truth, wouldn't you be able to come up with some of it on your own? That's why most religions have a many things in common because they're actually really obvious. I'm not an expert on the religions you listed but let me suggest a different perspective. Does the fact that people seem to be expecting an event to occur mean that any such event is falsified? Of course not. It could be. It could not be. The relevant issue is the evidence of the resurrection itself. This comes down to people recording the event. As you say, the records of the event are religious. But then of course they would be as I said.

And for the generalized lack of records of Jesus outside his resurrection, I'm sure you read the other thread.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Its not records of the (none / 0) (#222)
by JohnnyCannuk on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:11:14 AM EST

ressurection that I don't trust, its that there are no contempotraneous records not only of the ressurection, but of any of the other things reported in the Bible to have been done by Jesus or of Jesus himself. It doesn't mater if they are religious or not. If even 1 Gospel was actually written at the time by an actual eyewitness, I could accept that. But, despite their names, none of the Gospels was written by anyone who was (or could have been) alive at the time.

That is, no record exists of someone, anyone, Christian or Pagan, who was alive at the time Jesus was supposed to have lived corroborating any of the events. No eyewitness accounts. All of the records we have of Jesus, Christian or otherwise, are from 40 or more years after the alleged event. Some have been clearly altered or outright forged by the early apologists (for example, Josephus is supposed to have 2 references to Jesus in his writings. But in earlier versions of the texts, from around 70 AD, the references are not there and in later versions, around 120 AD the references are there. Not to mention Josephus, a Jew, calling someone the Messiah. This is not something a devout Jew, as Josephus was, would do).

Now I'll grant you that the life of a man like Jesus may have gone un-noticed, but most certainly the events would not have. Over Christmas, there were many "documentaries" showing the scientific evidence for the Christmans star having really occured in 6 BC. It was witnessed by thousands and had an image minted on a coin. Many Christian neo-apologists claim that if science can prove this story, then there must have been a real birth, with wise men etc. But the events of the resurrection - the sun going black for 3 hours, the prophets rising from the tomb etc - would easily have been noticed by many people in the ancient world. But no computer models predict any eclipses and no other records of the event anywhere. So even using the standard for "proving" the story of the birth of Jesus, cannot prove his death.

And the ideas that Jesus spoke of are, of course, not original, but I'm not talking about the "truth" he speaks of. I am talking about miracles he performed and the crucial parts of his life that you have stated define you as a Christian - his birth and death. These are the things that are not original. Dionyusis turned water into wine. Mithras was born of a virgin, died by crucificion and rose again after 3 days to forgive the sins of the world. As did Osiris, as did Kirshna. Using Occams Razor, is it not more likely that the stories of Jesus were made up by ealy Christians in order to impress and convert their pagans neighbours many years after the event, using the pagans own myths as the basis, than that he actually did all this stuff, was a God, and that it was a coincidence that he did all the same stuff as the mythical gods. Oh and forgot to leave a record of his actual existance?

The earliest Christian writings are Paul's letters. Paul never mentions any of the achetypical Christian events. The story of his conversion on the road to Damasus is itself identical to a Greek play quite popular throughout the Roman empire at the time! (I'll find the reference for yuou if you like).

BTW, I'm quite enjoying our little exchanges here...hope you are too.


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

I think you may be applying an unfair standard... (none / 0) (#223)
by issachar on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 03:00:17 AM EST

It seems a little strange that you would say that there are no contemporaneous records of Jesus and then shortly thereafter say that there are records dating to 40 years after the events. 70 AD/CE is about right as I understand it.

When dealing with such ancient documents 40 years after the event is actually fairly contemporaneous. A fair comparison would be with the records we have to Caesar's Gallic Wars. The closest records we have on this hundreds of years later, but this is considered to be entirely acceptable by scholars. By contrast 40 years is a drop in the bucket. Keep in mind that documents decay. We don't have a single original document that the author actually held in his hand, but this is to be expected when dealing with such a long passage of time. And it is entirely accepted when dealing with other historical events.

Of course there is more than one issue here. The first is the historical existance of a Jewish man named Jesus who was executed by Romans. I think what I said fairly addresses that point. The existence of Jesus is fairly widely accepted.

Another issue you raised is the claim that the authors of the gospels are not who they are generally regarded by Christians to be. i.e. Matthew did not write the Gospel of Matthew. This seems to be quite the claim. You state it as though it were accepted scholarship. I'm aware that some recent scholarship has questioned the authorship of the Gospels, but this hardly qualifies as the accepted view even among non-Christian scholars. None of the Gospels were signed, but all of the early Church tradition is consistent with attributing authorship. I believe that a generally accepted history does count for something as it would take a lot to fool a lot of people. Nothing is as certain as videotape, but this is how 2000 year old history is studied. Nothing I've read on the subject leads me to believe that there is strong evidence to contradict the traditional authorship of the gospels. (i.e. that they are in fact eye-witness accounts). Your comments about Josephus are correct as I understand it, although as I said I'm scarcely an expert. It should be noted though that people adding material to some documents does not in fact discount other documents. The probable forging of Josephus' writing doesn't discount the Gospels, even if it does have a bad smell. People in power lying is hardly new.

An entirely different issue is whether or not Jesus ever claimed the things that are recorded in the Gospels. Assuming that Matthew & co. wrote the Gospels, they could have lied about the events. This claim is a more common one and although you didn't make it, I bring it up for the sake of completeness. I assume you didn't make it due to the obvious answer: If you were going to lie and create a religion wouldn't you create one that wouldn't get you tortured & killed? I see no benefit to the early Christians to lie. There are simpler ways to get yourself killed. Note that this isn't the same as the guy who forged Josephus. In 70 AD/CE the early Christians were hardly in positions of power.

Now the lack of records concerning Jesus' death. Rather than "no records" it would be more accurate to say "no non-Christian records". As addressed earlier, but the standards of the day, Jesus was a nobody. He wasn't important at the time so why would his death show up in a lot of official records? The romans executed a lot of people. We don't have records detailing all of the other executions either. Of course those that witnessed his resurrection would tend to become Christians thus their records are religious. (Perhaps they might be included in something that we now call the Bible?) oh, and the computer modelling. I've never really thought about this one. I suppose it's because I never assumed that an eclipse would be required. If I was God I suppose I could darken the day any way I chose. I'm not going to comment on the star thing. It's sort of like people who wonder about spontaneous appearance of a Y chromosome in an unfertilized egg to explain Jesus' birth. Sort of missing the point...

Occams razor... It seems that the simplest explanation of the facts in this case seems to be a matter of dispute. I would have thought the simplest explanation of the facts is that pagan religions had claims of X, Y & Z and that Jesus one upped them by showing it done. It's similar to Moses' confrontation with the Pharaoh's magicians. Both they & Moses threw their staffs on the ground where they turned into snakes, but Moses' snake ate the others. The message being that the competing religions of the day couldn't match the God of Israel. So the similarity to pagan religions of the time is consistent.

So what would pagans of the time have thought when Christians came to them with a story of God who became a man, died for their sins and then came back to life. Well, given your information, you'd think they would say "Hey, you clowns just stole those ideas from our religion, what a crock!". Seriously. Isn't that what you'd expect? I would. Yet it didn't happen that way. Why not? I suspect that it was that something was different about the story of Jesus' resurrection. For instance that it was true.

I'm really enjoying our exchanges here as well, and I hope I haven't been too late in posting this to get a reply. (Long day today)

On an entirely separate note, if you want to look into comparisons between pagan religions and Christianity, you might try looking at Genesis. Rikk Watts is the guy I heard this from, but the Genesis narrative is strikingly similar in form to contemporary pagan creation stories. According to Watts the form is neither allegory or history so the typical "7 literal days" vs. "creation allegory" argument off track. The pagan stories are about how the gods build a temple to themselves. What's the last thing you put in a temple? The idol, or the image of the god. What's the last thing that Yaweh puts in his temple? Us. Implication? Human beings are vitally important and therefore you can't treat them like garbage. You can't throw people out of work to make a quick buck. You can't exploit them for cheap labour. etc. etc. This article used to be on the web, but I can't find it on a googling. It's in a book, but you might have trouble finding it in a library. The Genesis thing is a sidenote to our discussion, but I thought it might show why I'm not surprised to see parallel's in pagan religion. Christ would want to challenge & answer other religions in his actions wouldn't he?


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

My reponses.. (none / 0) (#224)
by JohnnyCannuk on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 02:18:09 PM EST

Sorry for not having responded, I too have been busy. Anyway, here we go:

It seems a little strange that you would say that there are no contemporaneous records of Jesus and then shortly thereafter say that there are records dating to 40 years after the events. 70 AD/CE is about right as I understand it.

I guess when I say 'contemoraneous' I mean contemporary, eyewitness stories of people that were alive at the time of the events. For instance, records of the trial of Jesus from the Romans (or even of Barabas..), Greek or Roman records from the time talking of an inexplicable darkening. Even entries from Philo, who I mentioned, stating that "the sky went dark today" or "5000 people met outside the city to listen to a rabbi" (something that most certainly would have drawn attention - 5000 is a lot of people in the ancient world) etc. Another contemporary stating that that people who were previously dead were seen walking the streets of Jeruselem. Since most people even at the time did not believe in resurrection, they would certainly would have written this down somewhere.

If I write a story about WW2, and claim that during the war Churchill was shot and the only thing that saved him was the pocket NT, which stopped the bullet. This is an oral story that my Granfather told me. If my account of this survived, whould it be taken as fact? No other record of the event exists. I was not a witness. Would a future historian take this as true? Even if documents from WW2 (or from another person who wrote a letter claiming to be a first hand witness) do not mention it? I don't think so. This is a pretty common standard of proof for historical documents. But also remember we aren't trying to determine if a battle happened or a person said something, we are talking about a man who claimed to be able to violate the laws of physics and was raised from the dead. In this case the standard should be higher.

When dealing with such ancient documents 40 years after the event is actually fairly contemporaneous. A fair comparison would be with the records we have to Caesar's Gallic Wars. The closest records we have on this hundreds of years later, but this is considered to be entirely acceptable by scholars. By contrast 40 years is a drop in the bucket. Keep in mind that documents decay. We don't have a single original document that the author actually held in his hand, but this is to be expected when dealing with such a long passage of time. And it is entirely accepted when dealing with other historical events.

Again, like above, I am not solely basing this on the age of documents, but also the sources and quality. In your Gallic wars example, yes the doucments are over a hundred years after the event, but there are more than one, independant sources which corroborate the facts (and have been shown previously to be reliable). Even then, the "truth" of the event is based on the agreement of the contents. If two documents written independantly make a similar claim, it is reasonable to say they are true. If they appear to be copies of each other or report different things, then only those things that are similar can be reasonably be thought tobe true, but still suspect requiring further corroboration. The Gallic wars also have other archeological, physical evidence to back up the claim - potter shards dating from the correct time period, spear points, coins comemorating the event etc. The story of Jesus does not meet this standard - the only sources for the story are related documents from a "single" source. I would be happy to change my mind if new evidence appears.

Of course there is more than one issue here. The first is the historical existance of a Jewish man named Jesus who was executed by Romans. I think what I said fairly addresses that point. The existence of Jesus is fairly widely accepted.

Not as widely as you would think. Given the circumstantial evidence, it is possible, even probable, that an itnerant rabbi or teacher named Jesus or Yeshua lived in the time period in question. Since there is no direct evidence of his existance, we can imply his existance from the available evidence (gospels, Pauline letters). But ALL we can imply is that a person existed. We cannot imply the other aspects of his life, including what he said and what he did. The Jesus Seminar, using this methodology, believes a historical Jesus only actually said about 10-20% of the sayings attributed to him. Even they are only using the gospels, which, given their historiosity, are not as realiable as one would think.

Another issue you raised is the claim that the authors of the gospels are not who they are generally regarded by Christians to be. i.e. Matthew did not write the Gospel of Matthew. This seems to be quite the claim. You state it as though it were accepted scholarship. I'm aware that some recent scholarship has questioned the authorship of the Gospels, but this hardly qualifies as the accepted view even among non-Christian scholars. None of the Gospels were signed, but all of the early Church tradition is consistent with attributing authorship. I believe that a generally accepted history does count for something as it would take a lot to fool a lot of people. Nothing is as certain as videotape, but this is how 2000 year old history is studied. Nothing I've read on the subject leads me to believe that there is strong evidence to contradict the traditional authorship of the gospels. (i.e. that they are in fact eye-witness accounts). Your comments about Josephus are correct as I understand it, although as I said I'm scarcely an expert. It should be noted though that people adding material to some documents does not in fact discount other documents. The probable forging of Josephus' writing doesn't discount the Gospels, even if it does have a bad smell. People in power lying is hardly new.

The commonly accepted histoiocity of the gospels is like this:

    1. 27-30 AD: Death of Jesus.
    2. 30-60 AD: Oral tradition (story telling).
    3. 50-70 AD: Letters of Paul (first "Gospel").
    4. 60-70 AD: First edition of Thomas.
    5. 70 AD: Destruction of the temple (fall of Jerusalem).
    6. 70-80 AD: Mark.
    7. 85-90 AD: Matthew.
    8. 85-95 AD: Luke.
    9. 90-100 AD: John.

The average life expectancy at this time was 45 years. If the authors of the gospels were the Apostles, they would have been between 25 and 35 years old...peers of Jesus. Thus, in order to be authors of the gospels, they would have had to live to between 80 and 100 years old. That is a feat even today, let alone in first century Judea. It is possible, but not probable.There are other reasons to doubt that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses as well.

Look at the order. We can assume that earlier writings, closer to the events are more accurate. Paul's are the earliest yet they make no mention of the events of his life. Only later versions, starting with Mark add the "details". Matthew copies and "corrects" Mark as short time later. Luke copies and embelishes both. John changes things around again, at times contradicting the others (read the ressurection story in all 4 and see if you can reconcile them...especially the version in John). Or how about the Gospel of Thomas, which shares some facets with all of them but has many differences (which likely gott it banned from the Bible anyway...it didn't follow the orthodoxy). My reading is that a sect of Judaism, wishing to gain converts, did just as you have argued here..take the pagan god-man stories, set them in Judea, and win said converts with your very "see our God did all those things too, only better and more recently." From that simple desire grew all of Christianity as we know it.

An entirely different issue is whether or not Jesus ever claimed the things that are recorded in the Gospels. Assuming that Matthew & co. wrote the Gospels, they could have lied about the events. This claim is a more common one and although you didn't make it, I bring it up for the sake of completeness. I assume you didn't make it due to the obvious answer: If you were going to lie and create a religion wouldn't you create one that wouldn't get you tortured & killed? I see no benefit to the early Christians to lie. There are simpler ways to get yourself killed. Note that this isn't the same as the guy who forged Josephus. In 70 AD/CE the early Christians were hardly in positions of power.

Ironically, I would say all of the reasons you present are the foundation of why earlier Christians would lie - in order to prevent persecution and torture. The Roman Empire was polytheistic and quite tolerant of most religions. You could worship any god(s), so long as you were faithful to the Empire as well. Remember, it was the Romans that put Herod the Great on the throne as their puppet and let the Jews practice their religion. And up until 70 CE, the Christians were not a separate religion, but a sect of Judaism.

But that 70 CE is an important date. It is the historical date of the destruction of the second temple in Jeruselem. The first of the Gospels, Mark, appears very shortly after. Now the temple was destroyed because of the Jewish rebellion against the Roman occupation. Around and after 70 CE, the Romans were no longer tolerant of Jews and percecuted them mercilessly( Massada, for example). It was no longer a good idea to be Jewish. With the destruction of the temple there was a religous and cultural vaccum in Judea and the early Christians tried to fill it. The author of Mark goes to great lengths to distance the followers of Jesus from the other Jews and to ingraciate them to the Romans - so that they won't be percecuted along with the Jews. From that, we see a mythology slowly grow that incorporates or imitates the pagan religions (Mithranism, for example, a pagan parrallel to Christianity, was the religion of soldiers and the Legions) that were "acceptable" to Rome. This resulted in the improbable stories of Pilate. Pilate is a historical figure, who was known as a brutal, vicious prefect of Palestine. The story of him not finding fault with Jesus and washing his hand of him is completely out of character, as documented by many of his contemporaries (including Josephus and Pliny the Elder...yes the same Josephus whose work was altered later by Escibus). The story of the night-time trial by the Sanhedrin is also an example of this. It was clearly not written by a Jew (since the Sanhedrin would not meet after sun-down on the Sabbath, and certainly not at Passover). But these stories tell the Romans that "Hey, you guys were ok to us, Pilate was a nice guy, but those Jews you hate, there even worse. They didn't lsiten to you guys and wanted Jesus dead anyway...". This was done for revenge on the mainstream Jewish community that had rejected them, currying favour with the Romans so that they didn't persecute them so they could fill the vaccum created when the Jewish religious infrastructure was destroyed with the temple. All of the embelishment and lying served the purpose to ensure they survived. Ironically, these are the seeds of the anti-semitism which still haunts the world today.

Now the lack of records concerning Jesus' death. Rather than "no records" it would be more accurate to say "no non-Christian records". As addressed earlier, but the standards of the day, Jesus was a nobody. He wasn't important at the time so why would his death show up in a lot of official records? The romans executed a lot of people. We don't have records detailing all of the other executions either. Of course those that witnessed his resurrection would tend to become Christians thus their records are religious. (Perhaps they might be included in something that we now call the Bible?) oh, and the computer modelling. I've never really thought about this one. I suppose it's because I never assumed that an eclipse would be required. If I was God I suppose I could darken the day any way I chose. I'm not going to comment on the star thing. It's sort of like people who wonder about spontaneous appearance of a Y chromosome in an unfertilized egg to explain Jesus' birth. Sort of missing the point...

I don't really expect that there would a Roman record saying " 30 CE Crucified a guy name Jesus today for sedition" between the name of two guys killed for thievery. But I would expect there to be some mention somewhere of the other events, which should have been witnessed by by believers and non-believers alike and recorded - the sun going black, the dead saints rising and walking around Jeruselem, a man floating into the sky. Again, since ressurection of the dead was not a common belief, having it happen in the presence of so many witnesses would have been unusually enough that contemporary records would have at least recorded the rumor. But even without those, what of the other events? The ancients were voracious sky-watchers, recording the movement of the stars and comemorating even obscure celestial events. Most ancient astronomers\astrologers had the ability to predict celestial events, like solar and lunar eclipses. So, it the sun went black for 3 hours, some one, somewhere would have written it down because it was so unusual, since it was either an unexpected celestial event. I also don't think everyone who witnessed the ressurection would become a Christian. Some would refuse to believe it, clinging to there old religion, some would rationalize it away as a trick and other may see it as proof the person was in league with the devil, rather than the Messiah. So some of these witness would have recorded something, if only to refute or ridicule what they saw.

All of this, combined with the similarities with other god-man ressurection stories (and the internal contradictions between the Gospels on the story as well) make you wonder if it really happened at all. Some of the "similarities" are actually verbatim sequences of events, times and methods of death, the only differences being the name (replace Dionysus with Jesus and the story is the same).

Occams razor... It seems that the simplest explanation of the facts in this case seems to be a matter of dispute. I would have thought the simplest explanation of the facts is that pagan religions had claims of X, Y & Z and that Jesus one upped them by showing it done. It's similar to Moses' confrontation with the Pharaoh's magicians. Both they & Moses threw their staffs on the ground where they turned into snakes, but Moses' snake ate the others. The message being that the competing religions of the day couldn't match the God of Israel. So the similarity to pagan religions of the time is consistent.

As I stated earlier, there are other simpler explanations that explain the similarities. Is it more likely that an unprovable supernatural being imitated other religions to show them how powerful he was, or is it more likely that, through a series of historical events, the story grew to incorporate and imitate pre-existing religions in order to can converts and power?

So what would pagans of the time have thought when Christians came to them with a story of God who became a man, died for their sins and then came back to life. Well, given your information, you'd think they would say "Hey, you clowns just stole those ideas from our religion, what a crock!". Seriously. Isn't that what you'd expect? I would. Yet it didn't happen that way. Why not? I suspect that it was that something was different about the story of Jesus' resurrection. For instance that it was true.

That's exactly what they thought, for about 300 years after the appearance of Christianity. Christianity was Roman religion with few converts. Christianity only took off after Constantine "converted" (probably for political not spiritual reasons...early Christian hooligans were destabilizing the Empire). Christianity took off under Constantine because he outlawed and persecuted the pagan religions. You had no choice but to be a Christian. He even called the Council of Nicea which mad Jesus God, moved the CHristian Holy day to Sunday (from Saturday) to be in line with the Mithrians in the Roman legions, moved Christmas from April (when it probably really happened if that part of the Bible is true) to December 25, the Birthday of Mithras (and a bunch of other Pagan gods). Also, its still December 25 because even though Christianity was the top dog, they couldn't prevent people from celebrating their festivals. Christianity moved even closer to the pagans than the otherway around. I think that better explains the spread of Christianity than the possiblility that Jeus's life and resurrection are true.

I'm really enjoying our exchanges here as well, and I hope I haven't been too late in posting this to get a reply. (Long day today)

On an entirely separate note, if you want to look into comparisons between pagan religions and Christianity, you might try looking at Genesis. Rikk Watts is the guy I heard this from, but the Genesis narrative is strikingly similar in form to contemporary pagan creation stories. According to Watts the form is neither allegory or history so the typical "7 literal days" vs. "creation allegory" argument off track. The pagan stories are about how the gods build a temple to themselves. What's the last thing you put in a temple? The idol, or the image of the god. What's the last thing that Yaweh puts in his temple? Us. Implication? Human beings are vitally important and therefore you can't treat them like garbage. You can't throw people out of work to make a quick buck. You can't exploit them for cheap labour. etc. etc. This article used to be on the web, but I can't find it on a googling. It's in a book, but you might have trouble finding it in a library. The Genesis thing is a sidenote to our discussion, but I thought it might show why I'm not surprised to see parallel's in pagan religion. Christ would want to challenge & answer other religions in his actions wouldn't he?

Well, feel free to surf around some of the links I have provided. I am aware of their source, but you don't usually find the evidence and arguments on Christian sites ;)

A few final thoughts:

I don't think that the possibility that Jesus did not exist, or was merely a man whose name and time was borrowed for the continuation of a legend or myth detracts from Christianity at all. I agree with Tom Harpur, that it actually enriches the religion and give it more breadth and depth. Christianity is just the latest religion to promote some universal values that almost all religions, before and since, have espoused - the values of compassion, forgiveness, selflessness, kindness and love. Essentially "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, the rest is just commentary" (from an old Jewish folk tale)

I think we can all agree on the values. Our only differences would be on where these values came from. I say they are just the natural way of things and are part of evolution (they are the best long term survival strategy) and you would say they came from God. We aren't going to solve that debate until we are dead, so I won't bother.

But that hardly matters. So long as we follow the values, it doesn't matter where they came from.

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. --Galileo Galilei
Talk to you later...


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

maybe we do need a site... (none / 0) (#227)
by issachar on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 11:07:34 PM EST

for Canucks to talk religion, philosophy and faith... :P I won't be able to respond after this for a week as I'm taking a break from packing for a trip to New York. I'll be back in a week.

You keep coming back to having contemporaneous records of the events chronicled in the Gospels. We simply do not have that many historical records of any kind written in that period. We have a lot, but the ones recording "spiritual" events tend to be religious ones. Records of sales & contracts simply don't help us research something like this. And on a sidenote, just so I can't be accused of making this easy for me, I should say that 5000 people is a low-ball figure. I assume that you're referring to Jesus feeding the 5000 with a packed lunch but a likely number is somewhere around 10,000 as it was common practice at the time to count only the adult men.

Having said that, your point about the sky going dark is a good one. I certainly would prefer it if we had a bunch of Roman records recording an unexplained event like that and complaining that commerce ground to a halt as a result. (Or something). The thing is that you have to remember that we simply don't have perfect historical records. I'd like a time viewing machine to witness Jesus' teaching first hand too, but I don't have it. As a result I make do with a somewhat spotty historical record and I make my decisions on the weight of evidence.

And of course people would write down an event like a resurrection. Those that could write. The rest would tell other people who would then write it down if they believed it. I wouldn't necessarily take pains something I thought was the rantings of lunatics. This would result in a very few primary sources (eye-witness) and mostly secondary sources. Most of which would be lost with the passage of time. I don't have to tell you that the volume of recorded information was much less then so losing any would mean very little would be left. Back to the primary sources in a moment.

Your WW2 comparison is interesting, but slightly flawed I think. What if you had a diary that you said was written by your grandfather and that many other people said was written by your grandfather. That's what you've got in the Gospels. An account that many people said was written by eye-witnesses. Others say no. Unfortunately at this point the author is dead, so we can't ask him. Jumping to your "commonly accepted" timeline of the Gospels I'd say we have a problem. You date the writing of Matthew at 85-90 AD. However we have fragments of Matthew dated to 70AD. So the timeline's off. Of course it is true that oral telling predated written words. Jesus' disciples were busy preaching to people that Jesus was coming soon. They weren't sitting down and writing documents to start a religion. Again, this is highly predictable behaviour for men in their situation. But if we have fragments dated to 70AD, this means that the original was likely written before that date. What are the odds that we have the original or even the second, third etc. copy? So why would Matthew have to live to 100? It's a mistake to assume that the original was written at the date given by the earliest copy. That's the "not after" date. Not the "not before" date.

If Christians were lying to avoid persecution, they sucked at it. They got it from the Romans and the Jewish leaders. I say leaders because it's worth remembering that the first Christians were Jews. In fact there was some question initially as to whether or not to go convert gentiles. Anti-semitism is dark mark on the history of Christians. It also had a lot to do with European religious leaders wanting a good scapegoat for their problems.

Back to Occams razor, the problem is that your "simplest explanation that fits the facts" is based on your assumption of what is "simplest" I suspect that you find the idea of the supernatural to be an automatically "less simple" explanation unless the alternative is insanely complicated. Some people feel this way, some feel the other, but either way it's not evidence. It's just a manifestation of our own biases.

I'm actually running out of time on this as I really have to pack, so I'm going to respond to the rest of this when I get back. I should actually look up my info on the Gallic wars docs rather than pulling the info out of thin air. :P I hate leaving a discussion hanging part way through, but I'll be back...

Although it's not true that Constantine persectuted non-Christians after he converted. It's a common misperception, but that was two emperors later. Constantine just ended the persecution of Christians.
---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Late to the party but... (none / 0) (#226)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 11:20:23 PM EST

I wanted to avoid the flame wars, so I avoided this thread for a while, but I was bored and read it, so I feel compelled to answer your post:

I am married to a Christian (and Evangelical one at that!) and I have asked her many times and never gotten a satisfactory answer

Actually, being an evangelical protestant is probably directly connected to being unable to answer your questions. Don't look down on her for it - as someone who has been several flavors of Christian, I would suggest that evangelical protestantism's overwhelming emphasis on personal faith is fantastic from a moral point of view but leaves you stuck asking questions that people were talking to death 2000 years ago.

I'm not going to go over your post line by line, because in a large part I agree with you: many "christians" have a poor grasp of what Jesus expected of them and cling instead to simplified literal teaching at best or completely unbiblical teachings at worst. As for whether Jesus taught something new or not - he himself said that he did not bring anything new, but rather brought completion to the old. Everything he taught was already taught in Jewish congregations - only with a slightly different emphasis - and having actually attended classes on comparative religions I'm more than willing to dive into a comparison of Jesus' teachings versus Buddha's or others, if you really want to.

But I do disagree with you about evidence that Jesus never existed - the historical accuracy of the New Testement is fairly good and it's unreasonable to expect that the Romans would have made much note of one particular Jewish rebel who was suppressed without much fuss.

But to your core question: Why do you have to believe in Jesus to be saved? Frankly, I don't know. Christians have been arguing that question since the day they realized there was more to life than following a homeless guy around and mooching off the locals. Personally, I've decided to place my bet and trust that it will work out for the best.

The other decision that I made was that if the worst case was true, well, I find the idea of damnation preferable to some conceptions of God. If that's what happens, I'll try to accept it.

On the other hand, if I die and there's nothing, then who the hell cares? I'll have gained nothing, but I won't have lost anything either.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had one when I came in here...
[ Parent ]

Christians (none / 0) (#210)
by Gravity on Sun Jan 09, 2005 at 09:47:31 PM EST

What Americans don't seem to realize, being as how America is 80% Christian, is that 2/3 of humanity ARE NOT CHRISTIAN.

And saying 80% of America is Christian is charitable, since thats lumping together everybody from Jehovah's Witnesses, to Baptists, to Mormons to Catholics -- most of whom don't consider *each other* to be legitimate Christians even!

But anyways, 2/3rds of humanity are NOT Christian, Americans just don't seem to get it!

----------

"Religions change, beer and wine remain." - Harvey Allen

[ Parent ]

err... (none / 1) (#212)
by issachar on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 02:38:28 AM EST

I think American Christians are well aware that most of the world is not Christian. Christians wish the world was entirely Christian, but we're under no illusions that is. Hence the sending out missionaries. If they were Christian already why would we bother?

I'm not sure I get your point.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Two points (none / 0) (#213)
by Gravity on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 08:38:30 AM EST

Two points I suppose:

1. Is that our motivations and intentions can perhaps never be fully trusted or taken at face value when dealing with ''heathen'' people.

2. Americans are by and large a bunch of superstitious idiots.  :)

-------------------------------

Current favorite sticker:  Shows outlines of Dubya Bush and Bin Ladens faces - says "Welcome to the 2cd Dark Ages - When Superstition, Fear and Religion Rule the World!"

[ Parent ]

I see the trolls have emerged... (none / 0) (#219)
by issachar on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 08:50:14 PM EST

is there where I'm supposed to lose my cool and tell you you're going to burn? I think you need more practice.


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

Angry little ego boy? (none / 0) (#225)
by Gravity on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 05:33:56 PM EST

Sounds like quite an ego you are hauling around stud! Do you have to do special neck exercises to keep in shape for that? Good luck angry-boy.

[ Parent ]
wow, my grammar sucks... (none / 0) (#220)
by issachar on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 08:51:54 PM EST

I obviously suck at posting and need to use the preview button.. :P


---
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]

The Shockwaves of Sumatra | 227 comments (202 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
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