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In matters of faith and cheesecake...

...I think I scared Carolyn today.

We argue a lot. Not real arguing, more like hashing-out arguing. Arguing about conflicting points of religion. I'm (for the most part) Wiccan. She's Catholic. Really, really Catholic. (Except; she went to a Catholic high school in Ottawa. Which I think makes her a "special" Catholic. ;) You know, not a raving lunatic Catholic. Just really... sorta... well, anyway...)

We have these arguments - she calls it "God-wrestling", which is kinda cute, actually - but just when I feel I'm making a point, she gets all worried-looking and sputtery, like she's running out of arguments and is really distressed about it. This is usually, in most discussions of the type, the moment where she'd come up with something else or change the topic. Which usually, is what happens. Because Carolyn, faithful as she thinks she is, doesn't really, I think, define most of what she believes by anything completely definite inside herself. Which I find kinda sad, but that's largely the way it works on that side, and I guess I can't pass judgements.

Sometimes, though, at that point, I actually get to *make* my point. Sometimes she even agrees with me. I admit, most of my argumentative victories over Carolyn are theoretical ones; more along the lines of "accept the possibility, not just consider it". And I like that, I like to win, because I feel a little like I'm helping to expand her horizons. Her high school did a lot of visiting other-denominational churches and studying other religions - but what I think she doesn't understand is that of course, a Catholic school would have taught these things through a Catholic eyeglass.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Except that Carolyn thinks she's open-minded about other religions, and she's really not. Not... not really. She says she's open-minded, I think (I don't *know*, mind you) because it's *right*, by her definitions (also, politically correct, since she lived in Ottawa for four years) to *say* that, it's *right* to be that way, at least to try. She's very firmly-engrained, and takes her dogma seriously even if she doesn't take it literally. (*That's* good, I'll give her.) She can argue for her point of view, but only to a point, within certain parameters. (I, on the other hand, tend to argue past the point of insanity. ;) And, most importantly (and what I despair of finding a way to explain to her without sounding like a self-righteous bitch) is that just because she studied it in high school does not make her an *expert*. That just because she studied other religions, other cultures, does not mean that she *understands* them. I know she knows what ethnocentrism is - we did it for two weeks in the same Sociology class - but she doesn't really *understand* it on a deep-down level, because she's been learning how to mentally solidify her own ethnocentrism in terms of her religion for her entire life.

It wouldn't be so bad if she could just *admit* it.

(I wasn't raised in *any* specific religion. *Any*. That gives me either a skewed or slightly less biased - I'm not really sure which - point of view as far as religion is concerned. I think. I *chose* the one I sort of follow, and I see it more as a philosophy than a religion. Religion is political. My beliefs aren't. My beliefs are based on what I see as reason, and some big chunks of instinct.)

I keep trying to get her to accept the concept of non-culture. The idea that before you can fully understand other cultures, other religions, you have to drop all pre-conceptions, all of the perceptions of your own culture. And I won't deny that that's a horribly difficult thing to do, especially if you've been raised Catholic. It's highly dogmatic, very structured. But traditionally it makes it difficult to see anything from a different point of view. (I'm quoting Durkheim. Gods help me.) Ideally, in order to prove yourself right, you have to accept not only the possibility, but the probability, that everything you believe is wrong. Completely. The only way, in my opinion, to affirm your faith is to constantly question it. That's why when she shoots back at me that I'm being hypocritical for not accepting Catholicism as the theoretical "one, true way" I say that I can accept the possibility, not the probability. Because there being no absolute truths, it can't be impossible that she's right. But I don't believe it's likely. Improbable. Not impossible.

At lunch today we had one of our more rousing arguments - except Keltie and some guy from her floor (whose name, I'm afraid, I can't remember, even though he was a good debater and seemed, somehow, to be on my side, sort of) were there too, and every time I started to reach one of the points where with just Carolyn and I, we would simply go to a new level. But at those points, the ones where you have to throw Carolyn a curve ball to get her to take the next step in consideration, take that little leap people usually need to take in order to really understand something (even just a *theoretical argument, damnit...*) Keltie would scold me for being narrow-minded. Which is just the exact *opposite* of what I was doing.

I get that from a lot of people. I wonder if that means something. o.O

Carolyn likes to toss about moral absolutes like they're absolute to everyone. The challenge is to get her to see the possibility that she's mistaken.

I mean, sure, as far as this particular reality goes, there are some things that can be *considered* absolutes. Like, for example, you shouldn't kill people for no reason. But there's really always a reason, whether that reason is because the person is a serial killer, because the victim "deserved it", or because someone just thinks killing is *fun*. But there's always extenuating circumstances. I admit there are some things where I wouldn't stop to even *consider* the extenuating circumstances involved, because of personal inclination. Some things are just... well, just wrong. But still, that's *my* absolute. A personal one. And personal beliefs are... well... personal. Belief is just that. Not really an absolute. I...

...I have gone off on a twisty, spirally tangent. Yikes. Back to it...

I try not to make absolute statements. And if I did, I did it by accident. But nowhere did I say that I was right and she was wrong. The entire PREMISE of the ENTIRE FREAKING ARGUMENT was THEORETICAL. Ergo, no absolutes. Sigh. I hate it when people sit on the edge of conversations for the express purpose of picking at the flaws in someone's argument.

I know how paranoid it is to think that once I left them after lunch they were talking about me - in an unflattering light. Really, I *know* that.

Possibility and probability. Sigh.

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Chandri MacLeod
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