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» AnimationNation   » SideTopics   » The FEAR of TRUTH

   
Author Topic: The FEAR of TRUTH
Shane Glines
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Gary continues to post the most interesting topics, news stories and commentary on this board, and is the reason I keep checking in. I think he comes across much more tolerant and respectful than those who keep chastising and warning him as if he was a problem child.
Now threads are being locked preemptively out of fear that Gary might reply? Come on.
S.

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Charles
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With all due respect, Shane. We've been more than tolerant over the years of my good friend Gary Clair's posts that continually ridicule religion. This isn't what the forums are about, this isn't what Side Topics was intended for, this forum was never intended to be used this way, and if it had been anyone else, they would've lost their posting privileges on AN when this abuse of the forums first started.

Animation, people, animation. Animation related topics. That's the focus of AN, not one person's religion ridicule.

People have had their accounts closed for much less, and it's unfair that because we know Gary and what a good man he is, that he gets to do what others would've never had a chance at doing without being booted.

We created the Side Topics Forum a long time ago to have a place for the subjects that didn't have to do with animation that were popping up in General Discussion. At the time when we're about to launch a new forum format and retire this one, we're dealing with the very thing we always wanted to avoid because of one's person's obsession with something that really doesn't have anything to do with why AN is here in the first place.

I think that the AN crew more than deserves some credit for putting up with this for way too long. Why not respect the tolerance that we've shown by simply complying with our simple requests to stop abusing Side Topics in this way. That makes alot more sense doesn't it?

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Shane Glines
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Well, I can understand not wanting trouble on the forums, and having run boards myself I know what a thankless task it is, but I never see any meanness or malice in Gary's commentary, and the only people that seem to seriously object to or are offended by his posts are the admins here. I think the rest of us appreciate the alternate views that Gary posts- but maybe are afraid to comment because they will also be labeled troublemakers.
I actually find Gary to be one of the most moral and kind-hearted people posting on the internet, so I get confused as to why he continues to be singled out as a problem. And he isn't paying me to say so
[Smile]
S.

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Charles
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I've known Gary for at least 15 years, I've worked with him, hung out with him, he's one of the founding students of my school, volunteered his time for a long time helping out with students in character design at the Academy although I haven't seen him in a while. I can't say enough good things about Gary Clair. He's a great friend not just to me but to everyone that knows him. He's one of the most genuine human beings you'll ever meet.

But we have editorial guidelines on AN that have been consistently compromised when it comes to his posts on religion in particular. A scholarly based discussion is one thing. Openly making fun of religious beliefs is something quite different.

We've always been sensitive to our members and want them to be able to utilize AN, but sometimes, one person will drive many people away. That's why most forums don't permit discussions about politics or religion because it gets too pesonal, and that's what Gary does. He makes it personal with his ridicule which is ceaseless, as is his obsession with putting down religion in general.

This isn't a matter of the fear of truth. Of all places, AN is a truth seeker's paradise, but one person's opinion is not necessarily the truth. It may be for them, it may be their truth, a truth for them, but not necessarily a universal truth.

All I'm asking, as well as the rest of the AN staff and many of our readers and members as well, is to utilize the forums responsibley. That is not the case when you come here to mock religion and even the notion of God. This is not the place for it. This is not the place for ridiculing religious beliefs.

We don't want to be forced to choose between dropping theological, spiritual, philosophical discussions altogether because of one person. Objectively speaking, it would be much more efficient simply to close that account or to block them from the use of Side Topics, which the new forum may allow us to do. AN's core purpose is to empower artists in the industry, not to engage in ridiculous, belittling, no win conversations about something as sensitive as one's personal spiritual beliefs.

Please keep that in mind everyone, and thanks in advance for your consideration.

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SNAKEBITE
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I for one like diverse topics. I like it when things get controversial. I'm not a religious man and I have the same feelings about crooks as he does. but to me, as a appreciator of Gary and his topics I feel like he focuses way to much on making fun of religious people. Which doesn't represent the sweet compassionate man I know. If you don't think thats a problem, thats cool. But it is true. It seems 90 percent of his topics are about making fun of people who believe in god.

His topic was closed, but not deleted. So his message was made but A.N. steered clear of the smear campaign.

Using bad religious people as a way of smearing all religious people seems counter productive to me in regards to the issue. the problem isn't gods word, its mans. I have studied religion, rejected it, went into philosophy, shamanism, mysticism which lead me to science and physics which has led me back to ancient symbolism including the bible.

Gary is a sweet man. I know this to be true. But I see little compassion when he obvious has a personal beef with religion. I think he has tunnel vision for what ever reason.

I also reject this idea of the fear of truth. Gary has not proven that his theories on the bible and after life are truth. Maybe his truth, but not universal truth. His science is not truth, its just as dogmatic as the next persons feelings.

I find irony here since no one holds the monopoly on truth. If you show me truth I would not fear it, I would embrace it. Show me a man who says he has the truth and I'll show you someone who lives in fear that he is wrong.

Mocking people's spiritual belief is not compassion. Not to say one can't point out injustices, but make sure you're not confusing the deity for the man who's guilty.

"Compassion is a human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy, the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering. It is often, though not inevitably, the key component in what manifests in the social context as altruism. In ethical terms, the various expressions down the ages of the so-called Golden Rule embody by implication the principle of compassion: Do to others what you would have them do to you."


HA! it even ends using religious like terms...more irony.

and I'm not getting paid to say any of this...nor am I getting paid to maintain this site and deal with people who think they know truth while making fun of people's spiritual beliefs. With all due respect. I don't even have an in studio job that pays me while I write on message boards.

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Metsys
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Regarding the comment about only the admins appearing to have a problem with it, remember that silence is a form of dissent.

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Skynet
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I believe this topic should be called "The Fear of Perspective" because to be fair to everyone, at this present time the concept of "Truth" in absolute terms on the widest scale are only individual actualized fictions. Your truth may be absolutely true for you but it is not true for everyone and I believe that has to be respected in all directions. It doesn't matter what camp you're temporarily stationed at while we are attempting to remember what or who we are. Your "truth" is your own, so no one knows a truth except for the individual who perceives it. At the same time imagine that there may be countless truths believed by countless beings throughout this vastly unrecognized existence that we are unwittingly participating in.

I guess I should say I'm not on anyone's side because there is no side. Side is irrelevant or fictional as well, at least ultimately. Although, I would have to agree that ridiculing others beliefs is not an honorable position to continuously put yourself in. For me, simply not believing in others beliefs is quite enough. There's no need to advertise it all the time. Better yet, I think it's more rational and positive to discuss what you believe and not what you don't believe. I don't mean to not post any kind of news or events in the world that bother you, but it should be in a way where you are spreading awareness and not making fun of something for no apparent reason.... but that's just my opinion.

BTW: Good point Metsys.

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Skynet
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I guess I should mention that I also enjoy most of Gary's posts. I don't even know Gary and never met him but I like him and think he's great to have around. I haven't been around here that long but it was easy to see how he brings a lot to A.N. It just seems to be the religious topics that I don't get into. If it's something very wrong that specific people are doing, that's ok because those people are simply wrong...

As I've probably said before, for me whatever "religion" I would be observing would only exist in my own mind because the entirety of what it encompassed would only be experienced by me and I don't see any purpose in debating religion verses another religion or non religion, as long as no one is getting physically hurt. We don't need to go into what how much killing has been perpetrated by humans for the sake of some religions, but non-religious situations kill people just as much or more. That's a different conversation.

I think we have to always keep in mind that we are all in the same boat together no matter how you slice it and we are all going to perceive and believe different visions and concepts of reality. It is impossible to force your beliefs on anyone even if they agree with you, probably because of the barriers we still have that make pure communication an illusion. If we ever get to the point where we could choose to communicate directly from one mind to another mind we will probably become something very different and we wouldn't be having this discussion. If that point or level is ever a reality for us I believe we'd begin to understand all absolute truth inside out. A complete saturating mental communication of a "light" of absolute truth, not necessarily in any religious sense, would most likely wipe out all that is not truth.

Anyway, back to what we are now...as we all know it is pointless at this time to argue what absolute truth is because we are all dogs barking at the same mysterious wall... or maybe I'm totally wrong. Dogs may be able to sense something that we can't.

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Skynet
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You want truth? Here's some...

I'm not directing this at anyone, just throwing it out here... but from what I've observed in many situations, it seems all the problems that we have with other people are actually our own problems. We make them our problems. When someone does something that creates a powerful negative emotion inside you, they are triggering something internally within you so the problem is technically yours now. You're owning it. If, on the other hand, no emotion is created than the problem doesn't exist within you and it's not yours.

I don't know if anyone read or remembers when I was talking about this in another topic...how if something negative happened to you, what if you stopped yourself for a moment and realized that it wasn't happening to you, or if nothing was happening, or that there is no "you" that something was happening to, however you want to phrase it. The point is, the situation would either dissolve, never exist, or your opposite positive reaction would create a totally different situation for you and everyone else involved. You could change the outcome entirely. Emotions are infectious and powerful so whatever you send out may be exactly what you receive back depending on who you're dealing with. The questions is where does it stop and who can stop it.

I believe thinking and speaking are by themselves magical acts. Each time we speak our thoughts we invoke a multitude of images and associated emotions within ourselves and within those who hear us. If our words are active, positive, and generous we open up ourselves and others to unlimited possibilities. Simultaneously, by focusing on the positive aspects of a given situation, no matter how despairing or hopeless it might appear, we can find a resolution that is in harmony with our inner growth.

Our words are our expression of our degree of inner "light" or knowledge and with them we can create new realities for ourselves.

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Charles
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What is truth?

For some people, certainly most of us, the truth hurts. It's painful so we refuse to look at it or we create our own truths which are comfortable and reassuring and validating. But it may not be the truth.

Once we face the truth, especially about ourselves individually, the truth will set you free. Deal with the pain of the truth, embrace it, and it will set you free.

How many people are willing to do that? To embrace the truth about themselves? To look in a proverbial mirror and see themselves for who they really are. The ugliness and falsehoods and illusions and self deceptions about ourselves that we refuse to see and acknowledge. The mistakes we're responsible for but refuse to accept. The blame we place on others when the fault lies just as much if not more with us. The transgressions we refuse to forgive. The pain we've caused others but refuse to see. The selfishness we have. The baggage we refuse to let go of. The judgements that we make about others when we should be judging ourselves first.

If you're going to be searching for the truth, the journey starts with the individual. Facing the truth about ourselves as individuals.

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Skynet
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Exactly and I wonder how many people seriously do this. Who turns their eyes on the inside and looks very closely at themselves? I mean completely to the core... Now we've made our way back to the process it seems society in general avoids: Know Thyself

When I talk about doing things like pretending or realizing that something bad or negative isn't happening to you, it is a form of knowing yourself. If you stop your uncontrolled reaction and observe it as it is happening, you may have the chance to know it for what it is and then it becomes something else. You can transform the energy into something else. After you do this once you start to know who you are. It's not so easy though and can take a lot of energy. Unfortunately most of us are already too exhausted to attempt this kind of learning.

I've always thought that as I interact with other people I should be watching my actions first before I watch others actions. I want to make sure that I am being who I want to be and not becoming a machine that repeats the energy that it receives. When someone comes at me with a weird or negative action they are most likely expecting the same back from me. If I am successful in the ultimate sense, any negative energy "passes by" unnoticed and I respond as who I intend to be.

It's interesting how staying calm can be so complicated for all of us. I am guilty of succumbing to many frustrations myself but I use those situations to learn as much as I can about myself. I believe that's exactly what those situations are there for. Learning is an obvious function of the universe and I choose to take advantage of it in whatever way I can. At this point in time, knowing ourselves is the only path to truth that we have already available to us.

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SNAKEBITE
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Find your center, Know Thyself, then live your truth. But know your truth belongs to you, not someone else.

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SNAKEBITE
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Can I be so bold and ask what specific truth we're suppose to be afraid of?

I mean anyone can come on here and say "Hey, they're afraid of truth"..but what I wanna know is what truth is that?

And make sure its true and not opinion.

this thread should really be titled
"Fear of adhering to Forum Policies."
or if you insist making about us then it should read
"Fear of wasting time with people who don't WANT to follow Forum Policies"

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Shane Glines
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I guess the fear of Gary creating controversy or offending some of the more delicate readers, who may send complaining email or that he will derail topics.

From what I've read, Gary is angry about pedophile priests, religious hypocrisy, and deceitful politicians.

In contrast, you guys seem to be angry with Gary for criticizing or making fun of religion when it intrudes on his rights, Cartoon Brew for some comments Amid made here years ago as well as his some character design panel in Portland, at animation professionals who don't draw, and at Asifa for removing a link to AN.

I can get behind Gary's anger.

Best wishes,
S.

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Charles
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Okay Shane, let's go over what you just accussed us of. From the bottom up. Maybe this will sink in, maybe it won't, but I'll give it a try.

Our link on ASIFA-Hollywood disappeared from their site around 2004 when the Animation Archive took over. This after ASIFA-Hollywood announced the formation of the Animation Archive at an annual AN meeting on April 1. Also, after I had contributed $1000 to ASIFA when they were hurting for cash at the end of the year 2000. Some gratitude, right?

Shane, in addition to being a misoginist, you're a racist! But that's okay Shane because it's CartoonBrew and they can get away with anything but we're scrutinized with an electron microscope by you guys. If we don't dot an "i" the right way you get bent out of shape. Besides, you can talk till you're blue in the face and you won't convince me that Amid has any idea what he's talking about when it comes to character design. Were you there at his presentation in Portland? Did you see the presentation? So it's okay for this guy to critique anything he wants to in anyway he wants, but when I critique a public presentation he made, it's unacceptable to you.

This is a forum for animation related topics. It's more than that. AnimationNation is a movement. Where do you guys get the idea that we're here for politics, religion, what have you, simply because we offer the Side Topics Forum as a courtesy for these discussions when they're handled in a responsible manner. Why can't Gary post his thoughts on his blog and come here and announce... hey guys, I'm bashing the catholic church and mormons and god and everyone except atheists, so join the science party... Instead, he comes here and abuses the forums and gets away with it because of the friendship we have with him.

Read what the Side Topic Forum policies are in the post that tops the forum subjects...

"This area of AnimationNation.com was created to relieve the traffic on the General Discussion Forum by providing a place that can accomodate the many varied casual, conversational subjects that are published on AN by its members.

If you have thoughts or opinions on topics of interest to the community, this is the place to post them. Some off topic subjects are permitted in this forum as well. Please keep in mind that subjects handled in the manner of the following example are not appropriate for this or any other forum on AN."

And then this thread from years ago, posted anonymously, is used as an example of what not to do...

http://www.animationnation.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=8;t=000004

How much clearer can we make it for you or Gary or anyone else?

Do this on your own site or blog, don't do it here. It's not what AN is about. It's been driven into the ground and worn out and we're tired of dealing with it.

Maybe it's more about annoyance than anything else Shane. Maybe it's a fear of annoyance on our part, or just a sincere desire to get past the misuse of AN. But the truth of the matter is that it is not now nor has it ever been okay for Gary to use Side Topics the way he has. He got away with it cuz we love him, and now we have this mess we're dealing with.

Doesn't matter cuz it won't be going on when we make the switch. Enough is enough, and that's the truth.

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SNAKEBITE
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I'm still trying to figure out what is considered truth here.

All that other stuff Shane mentioned is lost on me.
I don't know what point he's trying to make. He doesn't agree with our opinions about stuff, or he looks as Gary's opinion as truths for everyone to believe or if he thinks we're afraid...I just don't know.

It's all blurred and I can't even respond because I have no idea what I'm responding to.

Good Luck! Warm Regards. Cheers.

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Skynet
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Hmmm, you know... This is getting confusing. I mean, I'm am not really able to join in on the conversation other than using the topic title to throw out thoughts on "truth" but I seriously doubt highly that there is anyone here on AN that would not be angry with pedophiles, religious hypocrisy, or deceitful politicians.

And it is strange how something like this could be used to show AN as acting "wrong" when at the same time it is something that AN agrees with.

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Charles
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The problem with this thread and topic is that it's simply not truthful to begin with, and is indicative of what we've experienced with the forums from just about the very beginning as far as some members putting us on the defensive for all the wrong reasons.

Shane jumped to a conclusion, passed judgement on us, and here we are spending all of this time trying to convince him, to what avail I don't know, why we're doing what we're doing concerning Gary's recurring posts by which be repeatedly attacks religion.

That's the price we pay for hosting an open forum. Look at the attention this got in the short period of time it's been up. It's the #2 topic for the week and with everything we have to do not just with AN but with our own personal and professional lives, we're here instead trying to explain ourselves to people who for whatever reason, simply cannot accept the fact that all we want to do is get beyond the ongoing editorial abuse of Side Topics.

If Shane participated in General Discussion more, engaged the community creatively on a regular basis or just stopped by to say hello every once in a while, it would probably be a different story. If Gary spent a little more time and energy engaging the community creatively and leaving his religious issues at the door, I'm confident we wouldn't be dealing with this at all.

But it's okay, cuz it's helped. It's helped us come to the conclusion that it really is time for a New Beginning here on AnimationNation.

We've taken this message board as far as we could and for the most part it's been positive. I'm looking forward to a fresh start and developing a new AN that is more focused and directed towards what the site was originally intended to be, which wasn't a forum by the way.

The truth is that my original concept for AN was one that featured creative content. I had no intention of making it what it became as far as a forum goes. I did it in response to what was happening in the industry in 1999, in an effort to help empower artists at a difficult time for the animation business. It's many years later and things have changed, so let's change accordingly.

I hope that once we make the transition, that you guys will appreciate the good things about the site that gave everyone an opportunity to do what you're doing here.

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GaryClair
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Wow.. I go away for a few days and come back to a love fest. Thanks for the compliments about my character guys! Aw shucks! Big hugs and butt grabs. ha! [Big Grin]

But please don't mention the part about me being a nice guy around the ladies.. it's hard enough to get them to smell my chloroform soaked rags as it is...

As far as truth vs. perspective.. I don't talk out of my butt.. The first hour of my day is reading the news from various news sources..
I often get told here "You're wrong" or "You don't know what you're talking about!" But never "THIS is HOW you're wrong.."

I usually post my sources or have them readily available of how I come to the opinions I have.
Tho' I'm sure anyone could get sources to call me 'wrong' or 'poo poo head' too. They just never post them here.

And if religion commands respect.. I command ridicule. That's the trade off. I don't respect religion.. so they don't have to take my ridicule.

You can't ridicule something if it isn't ridiculous.

If someone came up to me and said "Gary Clair! You're a Drunken retarded Racist who brushes his teeth with horse manure!!" I'd shrug and think the person mentally ill because none of it pertains to me.
If they Shouted "Your art sucks! Your not funny! You're a cracker Honkey White Bread!" It would sting cause it's personal-- nah.. i'd shrug that off too.. and chuckle about being called a Honkey... The point i'm trying to make.. someone can't offend you if it isn't true. or the old phrase "The truth hurts."

IMO, Religion carries too much weight for an invisible feather. If I have to suffer a death sentence for calling Muhammad a diaper head or the L.Ron Hubbard of his day.. then they have to suffer my ridicule.
Respect is earned. Not demanded upon. No matter how many Jihads one threatens. I'll never respect a religion that puts someone to death for any reason...

And I remember I jumped on the catholic child abuse story early on when it was 1,300 cases.. and was told 'How dare you.. those are isolated incidents.. the good outweighs the bad, bah..bah.. bah.."
Even though 1,300, in my book, is an astonishing and unforgivable number... and if it were any other organization.. I would think that there would be pitchforks and torches at their doorstep.

Then that number grew to 5,000... 8,000 and then over 12,000 cases domestic and just as many across Europe. The 'isolated incidents' argument and apologists do not have a leg to stand on.
Do I think every catholic priest is a pedophile? Hell no. Would I let one near MY kid? HELLS to the no.

This is my point about blind faith.. I made it about the republicans... people pick a team and they stick with it regardless of what that team does or who they put in charge. Exhibit A: George W. Bush. I'm convince republicans woulda backed up Hitler if some scientist Jurassic Parked his *ss into existence.

This is my problem with blind faith.. if I go to a carnival House of Fun.. and it's a dark room and they poke me in the eye as soon as I walk in, and punch me in the stomach half way in.. and kick me in the *ss on the way out it CEASES TO BE A HOUSE OF FUN!!

I just speak what I think is right.
And Today, I have the luxury of knowing the Pope thinks i'm right too..
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100511/ap_on_re_eu/eu_portugal_pope

"The greatest persecution of the church doesn't come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sins within the church,"

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GaryClair
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BTW... anyone who doesn't believe in conspiracies or agencies able to keep things on the down low... take note at how quiet this whole issue has been/will be.

Compare to Tiger Woods and OJ press.

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Charles
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Gary, don't take this the wrong way but, so what? Again, I don't mean anything by this against you personally and I'm sure you know that, but here you are indulging in what... a personal manifesto about how you feel about blind faith? This doesn't have anything to do with anything man. It's just more of the same that we get from you that's taken Side Topics off a slippery slope and turned into into a mess.

You don't even address the fact that this topic was started with an accusation against us by Shane that the staff of AN is afraid of the truth. You've taken this personal non-belief stuff of yours and driven it into the ground.

That's all your truth, man. It's just your truth and that's all it is.

On the one hand, you contribute a great deal to AN. On the other, you make it more trouble than it's worth by airing this stuff of yours that's better suited for your blog.

Okay, here's another truth. There's a form of atheism that's arisen that people are so fed up with, even atheists are distancing themslves from it. It's so intellectually embarrasing to them that it's dragging rational atheism, if there's such a thing, down with it.

It's called New Atheism and it's so full of, I don't know, rhetorical garbage I'd say, that people are actually giving it back to them in spades. It's the equivalent of what Neo-Cons have done to the Republican Party.

This commentary was published in the LA Times no less, just about a year ago on May 17, 2009, and it pretty much sums up perfectly how I personally feel about the activity that we've had to tolerate here.

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Atheists: No God, no reason, just whining

Superstar atheists are motivated by anger -- and boohoo victimhood.

May 17, 2009 | Charlotte Allen, Charlotte Allen is the author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus" and a contributing editor to the Minding the Campus website of the Manhattan Institute.

I can't stand atheists -- but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores.

Read the rest here...

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/may/17/opinion/oe-allen17

...................

How's that for some truth guys.

In fact, that commentary is so good, I think I'll post the entire text on the Side Topics Forum before we go move to the new system, so that if the link is ever lost, we'll have it here for posterity.

When we do move over to the new system, the stuff that's gone on here that's dragged down Side Topics will be a thing of the past.

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Charles
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Here's the LA Times commentary in its entirety so that we can refer to it in perpetuity in case the content is lost from the link above.

What the heck, let's post that link again.

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/may/17/opinion/oe-allen17

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Atheists: No God, no reason, just whining

Superstar atheists are motivated by anger -- and boohoo victimhood.

May 17, 2009 | Charlotte Allen, Charlotte Allen is the author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus" and a contributing editor to the Minding the Campus website of the Manhattan Institute.

I can't stand atheists -- but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores.

Other people, most recently the British cultural critic Terry Eagleton in his new book, "Faith, Reason, and Revolution," take to task such superstar nonbelievers as Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins ("The God Delusion") and political journalist Christopher Hitchens ("God Is Not Great") for indulging in a philosophically primitive opposition of faith and reason that assumes that if science can't prove something, it doesn't exist.

My problem with atheists is their tiresome -- and way old -- insistence that they are being oppressed and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity. What -- did their Sunday school teachers flog their behinds with a Bible when they were kids?


Read Dawkins, or Hitchens, or the works of fellow atheists Sam Harris ("The End of Faith") and Daniel Dennett ("Breaking the Spell"), or visit an atheist website or blog (there are zillions of them, bearing such titles as "God Is for Suckers," "God Is Imaginary" and "God Is Pretend"), and your eyes will glaze over as you peruse -- again and again -- the obsessively tiny range of topics around which atheists circle like water in a drain.

First off, there's atheist victimology: Boohoo, everybody hates us 'cuz we don't believe in God. Although a recent Pew Forum survey on religion found that 16% of Americans describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, only 1.6% call themselves atheists, with another 2.4% weighing in as agnostics (a group despised as wishy-washy by atheists). You or I might attribute the low numbers to atheists' failure to win converts to their unbelief, but atheists say the problem is persecution so relentless that it drives tens of millions of God-deniers into a closet of feigned faith, like gays before Stonewall.

In his online "Atheist Manifesto," Harris writes that "no person, whatever his or her qualifications, can seek public office in the United States without pretending to be certain that ... God exists." The evidence? Antique clauses in the constitutions of six -- count 'em -- states barring atheists from office.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled such provisions unenforceable nearly 50 years ago, but that doesn't stop atheists from bewailing that they have to hide their Godlessness from friends, relatives, employers and potential dates. One representative of the pity-poor-me school of atheism, Kathleen Goodman, writing in January for the Chronicle of Higher Education, went so far as to promote affirmative action for atheists on college campuses: specially designated, college-subsidized "safe spaces" for them to express their views.

Maybe atheists wouldn't be so unpopular if they stopped beating the drum until the hide splits on their second-favorite topic: How stupid people are who believe in God. This is a favorite Dawkins theme. In a recent interview with Trina Hoaks, the atheist blogger for the Examiner.com website, Dawkins described religious believers as follows: "They feel uneducated, which they are; often rather stupid, which they are; inferior, which they are; and paranoid about pointy-headed intellectuals from the East Coast looking down on them, which, with some justification, they do." Thanks, Richard!

Dennett likes to call atheists "the Brights," in contrast to everybody else, who obviously aren't so bright. In a 2006 essay describing his brush with death after a heart operation, Dennett wrote these thoughts about his religious friends who told him they were praying for his recovery: "Thanks, I appreciate it, but did you also sacrifice a goat?" With friends like Daniel Dennett, you don't need enemies.

Then there's P.Z. Myers, biology professor at the University of Minnesota's Morris campus, whose blog, Pharyngula, is supposedly about Myers' field, evolutionary biology, but is actually about his fanatical propensity to label religious believers as "idiots," "morons," "loony" or "imbecilic" in nearly every post. The university deactivated its link to Myers' blog in July after he posted a photo of a consecrated host from a Mass that he had pierced with a rusty nail and thrown into the garbage ("I hope Jesus' tetanus shots are up to date") in an effort to prove that Catholicism is bunk -- or something.

Myers' blog exemplifies atheists' frenzied fascination with Christianity and the Bible. Atheist website after atheist website insists that Jesus either didn't exist or "was a jerk" (in the words of one blogger) because he didn't eliminate smallpox or world poverty. At the American Atheists website, a writer complains that God "set up" Adam and Eve, knowing in advance that they would eat the forbidden fruit. A blogger on A Is for Atheist has been going through the Bible chapter by chapter and verse by verse in order to prove its "insanity" (he or she had gotten up to the Book of Joshua when I last looked).

Another topic that atheists beat like the hammer on the anvil in the old Anacin commercials is Darwinism versus creationism. Maybe Darwin-o-mania stems from the fact that this year marks the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth in 1809, but haven't atheists heard that many religious people (including the late Pope John Paul II) don't have a problem with evolution but, rather, regard it as God's way of letting his living creation unfold? Furthermore, even if human nature as we know it is a matter of lucky adaptations, how exactly does that disprove the existence of God?

And then there's the question of why atheists are so intent on trying to prove that God not only doesn't exist but is evil to boot. Dawkins, writing in "The God Delusion," accuses the deity of being a "petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak" as well as a "misogynistic, homophobic, racist ... bully." If there is no God -- and you'd be way beyond stupid to think differently -- why does it matter whether he's good or evil?

The problem with atheists -- and what makes them such excruciating snoozes -- is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God's existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God's omniscience with free will or God's goodness with human suffering. Atheists seem to assume that the whole idea of God is a ridiculous absurdity, the "flying spaghetti monster" of atheists' typically lame jokes. They think that lobbing a few Gaza-style rockets accusing God of failing to create a world more to their liking ("If there's a God, why aren't I rich?" "If there's a God, why didn't he give me two heads so I could sleep with one head while I get some work done with the other?") will suffice to knock down the entire edifice of belief.

What primarily seems to motivate atheists isn't rationalism but anger -- anger that the world isn't perfect, that someone forced them to go to church as children, that the Bible contains apparent contradictions, that human beings can be hypocrites and commit crimes in the name of faith. The vitriol is extraordinary. Hitchens thinks that "religion spoils everything." Dawkins contends that raising one's offspring in one's religion constitutes child abuse. Harris argues that it "may be ethical to kill people" on the basis of their beliefs. The perennial atheist litigant Michael Newdow sued (unsuccessfully) to bar President Obama from uttering the words "so help me God" when he took his oath of office.

What atheists don't seem to realize is that even for believers, faith is never easy in this world of injustice, pain and delusion. Even for believers, God exists just beyond the scrim of the senses. So, atheists, how about losing the tired sarcasm and boring self-pity and engaging believers seriously?

...............

Or better yet, when it comes to AN, just leave it at the door.

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-FP-
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If I had more time these days, I'd have been up to my knees in this thread. But, I agree with much of the LA Times article. I have no religious beliefs and that's the end of it. I wasn't propagandized at the proper age, so the seed wasn't planted. I dodged that ugly little bullet. Beyond that, there's not a lot to say, and pointing out the hypocrisies and scandals of the devout can quickly become a full-time job with no payout. After a while it's not even fun. I do agree that indoctrinating a child with any religion is usually pretty miserable child abuse, but I have no kids. What parents do is their own sad business, as long as it's legal. A successful argument has been made that this particular discussion board might be a weird place to even talk about this topic anyway. I am looking forward with curiosity to what the "new AN" brings.
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Word. Me too.

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GaryClair
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The article is really weak.
Like here.. it's attack the messenger and not the message... must be a strong message.

Truth happens with or without me.. Whether I agree with it or not. It's not subjective. If I think something is true, and someone thinks it isn't.. either I'm misinformed, the other person is.. or we both are.

I can say .. this rock is hard.. pass it around.. everyone agrees this rock is hard. Court adjourned. Nothing to argue. The rock is hard regardless of whether or not if some weizenhiemer disagrees.

Faith is what everyone has their own version of it. You cannot find two people even of the same faith who agree about what it is...and apparently it doesn't matter. It seems to be pick and choose. But if you choose none of it.. you're an atheist.

Atheism.. is a term given to me because My religious beliefs are that one day.. when you die.. we'll all learn the truth.. everything else is speculation.
I chose Atheism of the bunch, because everything else requires and abandonment of reason.

And I disagree with the article.. modern atheism isn't whining. It's a 'push back' to the rise in Christianity... the mega churches.. the anti-abortionists.. jesus camp...prayer and creationism taught in public school.. the god hates fags.. Fox news. And Other religions (the 9/11 terrorists, Jonestown, Heaven's Gate)

Look at how conservatives branded themselves with being the 'Religious right.' That political party only serves the top 8% of this country.. yet they have you believe that if you're not conservative.. you hate apple pie, the 50's family model, religion and tradition. So if you're some religious but a little slow on the big'n words and thu' book learn'n.. you'll vote republican just because you think thats what people like you do.

Money never trickles down. Urine does. Never money.

Tho' if I know anything about Jesus.. and I have to preface this by saying that I'm NOT claiming to know what Jesus would want or how he thinks.. I don't wan to be THAT guy. But based on what i've read, he'd be a hippie tree hugging liberal who wants to help poor people .. and would assume he would want people to have health insurance (when his superpowers are on the fritz.. I read comic books.. happens ALL the time) I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have anything to do with the repubican party or follow the Neo-Conservative agenda of invading Iraq.

And about the rise in atheism (you'll see the number climb soon) is due to the INFORMATION superhighway.. the internet. People are getting smarter. They have access to more information.

The younger generation knows that in order to evolve.. we're going to have to dismiss all this religious nonsense.

Truth IS important and not just my opinion. Beliefs are personal.. Truth is universal.

If we had a court case I could prove with the tools of common sense, truth, facts and evidence..
that:
1- People invent religions (l.ron hubbard,etc.)
2- People believe in anything (bigfoot, voodoo, etc.)
3- People lie
4- People cheat other people out of money
5- People want power
6- People will lie to cheat people out of money and/or power
6a- People will lie to get attention (Loch Ness Monster death bed admission)
7- People will use religion or invent religion to cheat people out of money and/or power (tv evangelists)
8- People have seen heard things that weren't. Hallucinations are common and well documented. People

This would pretty much be Religion's defense..

Uh.. Religion is truth because Some guys thousands of years talked to God and he wrote down what he said. For realZ! And they wouldn't lie about such a thing.

That's pretty much ALL the evidence Joseph Smith gave and look how many Mormons there are.

All of Christianity depends on Jesus once living.. walking around and having wicked kewl superpowers

You would think that Rome.. once seeing Jesus come back from the dead and ascend up to heaven would become a Christian nation THAT DAY and write nothing but That event.. It would be like Tiger Woods/OJ/Britney Spears x10 ..but they didn't.. a couple people did. How many hundreds of years before they became a Christian nation? It takes that long for people who believe in something to have kids.. impose their beliefs on them.. and for them to reproduce and impose their kids... about 378 years.

Lousy numbers seeing that Scientology gained 8 million followers in just 30 years. I think I need to be even more vocal to prevent America becoming a scientologist nation 378 years from now.

The bible has about as much historical evidence as Robin Hood.. If you find a bunch of bows and arrows from the early 15th century and a place that used to be called 'Sherwood Forest'.. it doesn't make the book a historical document.

And I also have the satisfaction of knowing that with our modern technology.. video cameras.. internet.. the world will most likely NEVER see a Jesus or Mohammad. We'll never see anyone heal the sick (or amputee'd) You'll never see anyone walk on water.. turn water to wine (David Blaine jokes aside)

If religion is just a belief.. it has no business being an authority on any topic. And even if i'm wrong.. it doesn't make religion right.

People should know the truth.

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Congratulations Frank, you proved the very point that the commentary was making. On the one hand, you agree with it, then you go on to lace your post with insults against religion, validating what the author is talking about. That's why fewer and fewer people take what atheists have to say seriously.

On the other hand, I agree with what what you have to say about not being an appropriate place to discuss religious issues, and it's not. It never was. I opened the Side Topics Forum to discussions about theology and philosphy as it pertains to theology and philosophy, not for people to come here and behave the way they have with religion bashing. It worked for a while, but it inevitabley fell apart because of the insult laced comments and meaningless jabber by which your yourself engaged when it comes to the subject.

On the other hand again, I must say I see the fun in it. I feel the joy in ridiculing what people don't believe, so maybe in the new forums, we'll have a special place to bash atheism again and again and again. Because of course, there's no such thing as a corrupt atheist. Or a child molesting atheist. Or a deceitful atheist politician. Or atheist indoctrination or atheist propaganda. They are pure vessels of the truth, whatever that truth may or may not be.

And on the other hand again, the new AN Forums will be far different from what's gone on here and we'll have the controls to block members from certain forums if they abuse them editorially as what we've experienced with religion bashing on the part of a very few people on AN. So I'm very very very confident that when the new forums get up and running, that'll be the end of it.

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Face it Gary. Atheists are and atheism is as vulnerable to the interpretation of "truth" as people who believe. And just as afraid of it I might add. Just cuz you've gotten a taste of your own medicine doesn't mean you have to continue with your wild punches.

That's it guys. This kind of stuff is over on AN. It won't be going on in the new forums, at least not this way, and it won't be going on any longer over here.

Thanks for the ride, but the road's come to an end.

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