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Old 16th May 2017, 08:28 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
In my youth I studied at a senior technical college and at an end of year assembly the following was sung:

These things shall be: a loftier race
Than e'er the world hath known shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls
And light of knowledge in their eyes.

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


I was sitting next to my born again brother in the assembly who was writhing in his seat with discomfort on hearing the words.

My brother believed man is in essence sinful and unworthy, (sound familiar?), and will only achieve salvation by acknowledging this and accepting Jesus died for us. He could not entertain the idea that man would rise to a higher level on his own.

It seems to me Christians who believe as my brother did must have low self esteem.

I have to admit a bit of discomfort of my own with those words. Not because I believe man is in essence sinful and unworthy, but because I believe man is in essence human. Knowledge, wealth, and freedom are all wonderful and desirable things. But equating their possession to loftiness seems to be a perpetual mistake.
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Old 16th May 2017, 10:03 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
I have to admit a bit of discomfort of my own with those words. Not because I believe man is in essence sinful and unworthy, but because I believe man is in essence human. Knowledge, wealth, and freedom are all wonderful and desirable things. But equating their possession to loftiness seems to be a perpetual mistake.
Oh ye of little faith.
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Old 17th May 2017, 12:10 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Well to me the lack of logic in the idea just screams at me.

Amazing Grace was a very popular number for a good while so it seems to me that it must have resonated with many.

Maybe you can see something I can't because you have been in the bubble. For me from the outside looking in it makes little sense.
It's making little sense to you because you seem to have already decided what your opinion about it is. You have - appear to have - unilaterally decided that all of Christianity follows Calvin's doctrine of Total Depravity, despite the actual facts of the matter.

But the point that you're missing is that even in Calvinism, the point is to rise above that depravity, and to take and experience joy in doing so. In the happy-clappy church I have experience in, even the existence of depravity isn't something that is taken as a negative thing. On the contrary, it gives us the opportunity to be better than Adam and Eve were. That's, like, the entire point of Jesus. It's the point of baptism and the Baptist religions.

It doesn't make sense to you because you seem to be focused on the depravity, rather than on the salvation from depravity, which is where most churches put the emphasis.

Except for Calvinism, that is.
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Old 17th May 2017, 05:29 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
even in Calvinism, the point is to rise above that depravity... It doesn't make sense to you because you seem to be focused on the depravity, rather than on the salvation from depravity
It can easily look from the outside like the emphasis isn't where insiders think it is. But I think that's because of the nature of the drama of juxtapositions. Even positive scenes in TV & movies seem to be the most powerful when they're also reminders or reflections of negative ones from before. Showing a guy get a new job for more money is nice, but doesn't become a really big deal emotionally unless the rest of the movie until then in horribly deep poverty and homelessness, with a kid to take care of, alone after his wife left him over his financial problems. An army arriving at their neighbors' castle to break the siege and save them is nice, but is greatly enhanced if they just went through a similar war in their own country, where they could have stayed and focused on trying to recover (and the music when they begin their charge is a reminder of that), but which they left behind to be here helping their neighbors instead. A couple of siblings reuniting after not seeing each other for a few years is nice, but becomes a lot more if you also know that, since the last time they saw each other, most of their family has been killed, the survivors have scattered and don't know where each other are or that they're alive at all, their home and their neighbors' homes have been stolen or burned, and they've been imprisoned and abused, but they're both finally in the process of separately improving their own lives again. Watching someone with a magic power do his most impressive feat so far is nice, but becomes a totally different kind of scene if the way he does it is also tied to his psychological state, his process of healing from an abusive past, and his discovery that his power works better in his new mindset than it did in the old one so this feat he's doing now demonstrates how far he's come emotionally.

If you try to describe that kind of scene that's happy because of the sadness, it seems like most of the time & effort in the description must fall on the sad side, even though the sadness's only relevance is its magnification of the happy side.

Interestingly, though, all of the examples I can think of that have work for me in drama have been about how good or bad the characters' circumstances were, not how good or bad they themselves were... which could bust the whole analogy.
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Old 17th May 2017, 02:42 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It's making little sense to you because you seem to have already decided what your opinion about it is. You have - appear to have - unilaterally decided that all of Christianity follows Calvin's doctrine of Total Depravity, despite the actual facts of the matter.
Huh?

What I originally wrote was:

Quote:
originally Posted by Thor 2
Sorry but I still have difficulty with the concept of accepting that you are not worthy on your own right, but can only get salvation as a result of another forgiving you for being unworthy, and somehow feeling good about the whole thing.
Then you wrote:

Quote:
Precisely what is giving you trouble with that idea?
What I wrote is, as I understand it, is the very essence of Christianity as I know it.

We were created perfect but sinned and so were unworthy of salvation. God sacrificed his own son for our sins, so he could bring himself to forgive us if we believed in his son.

Did I get that right?

And you cannot see why I have trouble with the idea I posted originally?


Quote:

---- snip

It doesn't make sense to you because you seem to be focused on the depravity, rather than on the salvation from depravity, which is where most churches put the emphasis.

Except for Calvinism, that is.
It doesn't matter how happy-clappy your church is or was you can't get away from the original premise - the cornerstone of Christianity. Sure some churches do and have pushed the wailing and self deploring more than others but the fundamental message is the same.
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Old 17th May 2017, 02:50 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It's making little sense to you because you seem to have already decided what your opinion about it is. You have - appear to have - unilaterally decided that all of Christianity follows Calvin's doctrine of Total Depravity, despite the actual facts of the matter.

----- Snip

Can't let this go.

I thought we were having a civil conversation here and I am genuinely interested in the topic. You then come back at me with the above attack - why?
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Old 17th May 2017, 10:48 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
What I wrote is, as I understand it, is the very essence of Christianity as I know it.

We were created perfect but sinned and so were unworthy of salvation. God sacrificed his own son for our sins, so he could bring himself to forgive us if we believed in his son.

Did I get that right?
No.

Well... no.

Let me elaborate.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
And you cannot see why I have trouble with the idea I posted originally?
I can see that you are having trouble with it. I cannot see why you are having trouble with it, when I have already pointed out that your idea about what the "very essence of Christianity" is, is wrong. And this is what is frustrating me about our exchange.

The two-sentence "essence" that you have outlined is correct, in an extremely naive and simplistic sense. But you have avoided acknowledging - in fact, you have explicitly denied - that there can possibly be any kind of nuance. Especially since, as I have pointed out, you seem to be focussing entirely on the Calvinistic idea of Total Depravity - which is not a mainstream doctrine in any other denomination. Why not? Well, because there's lots of different kinds of Christianity. Some of them do indeed put a lot of emphasis on the idea of being unworthy - and I would point out that Amazing Grace is a Scottish hymn, and what is one of the more common sects in Scotland? That's right, Calvinism. That hymn contains close to the entire TULIP. And yet people still see it as uplifting and empowering. Can you think why?

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
It doesn't matter how happy-clappy your church is or was you can't get away from the original premise - the cornerstone of Christianity. Sure some churches do and have pushed the wailing and self deploring more than others but the fundamental message is the same.
No, the fundamental message is not the same, and I am giving - trying to give - you a counterexample from direct lived experience.

I'll give it another go.

In my experience - in the experience that I personally had as a congregant of a pentecostal church - there was very little said at any time about unworthiness. Sure, if you pressed the issue, it was there. You had to have something to be saved from. But the idea that this was a central issue or a fundamental message of the type of religion that this particular church practiced is just plain wrong. Therefore there is at least one church for which this is not the very essence.

Your assertion that regardless of the church you can't get away from this "very essence" of Calvinistic depravity is therefore disproved.
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Old 17th May 2017, 10:51 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Can't let this go.

I thought we were having a civil conversation here and I am genuinely interested in the topic. You then come back at me with the above attack - why?
I apologise if it seems like an attack. Like I said, I am finding this exchange quite frustrating.

You have made a claim. I have explained to you why your claim is wrong, using examples drawn from my direct personal lived experience. Yet you cling to your claim and are not acknowledging that I have any kind of point. You are basically telling me that my personal lived experience has no value to you and will not change what to me seems an uninformed opinion.

Do you understand why I might have a problem with that?
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Old 18th May 2017, 03:24 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I apologise if it seems like an attack. Like I said, I am finding this exchange quite frustrating.

You have made a claim. I have explained to you why your claim is wrong, using examples drawn from my direct personal lived experience. Yet you cling to your claim and are not acknowledging that I have any kind of point. You are basically telling me that my personal lived experience has no value to you and will not change what to me seems an uninformed opinion.

Do you understand why I might have a problem with that?

To say I made a claim is a bit heavy. What I said in the OP was:

Quote:
It seems to me Christians who believe as my brother did must have low self esteem.
It is more of a suggestion than a claim and note that I said - "Christians who believe as my brother did" - not all Christians.

Sure there may be groups such as you former "happy clappy" church who do not dwell on the being a wretched miserable sinner so much, but underneath it all I maintain, you cannot get away from the universal message of Christianity.

I did not tell you that your "personal lived experience has no value". In fact I welcomed and thanked you for your input.

Now if we can get back to the discussion, (and if I may digress a little), you
mention that having the baptism by fire thing, gave the baptized the ability to speak in and understand talking in tongues, (if I recall correctly).

Did you experience this? If so please tell us about it.
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Old 18th May 2017, 04:06 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
It is more of a suggestion than a claim and note that I said - "Christians who believe as my brother did" - not all Christians.
What you said was

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
It doesn't matter how happy-clappy your church is or was you can't get away from the original premise - the cornerstone of Christianity. Sure some churches do and have pushed the wailing and self deploring more than others but the fundamental message is the same.
(highlighting mine) which means that ALL churches can't get away from the original premise. You said - you are saying:

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Sure there may be groups such as you former "happy clappy" church who do not dwell on the being a wretched miserable sinner so much, but underneath it all I maintain, you cannot get away from the universal message of Christianity.
It doesn't matter what church you're in - they're all the same. You cannot get away from the "universal message" of Christianity, which is Calvinistic Total Depravity.

I gave you an example of a church that gets away from that.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I did not tell you that your "personal lived experience has no value". In fact I welcomed and thanked you for your input.
You did, and then you ignored and dismissed that input, and are continuing to do so. Forgive me if it seems like your welcome and thanks was insincere.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Now if we can get back to the discussion,
Love to.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
(and if I may digress a little), you
mention that having the baptism by fire thing, gave the baptized the ability to speak in and understand talking in tongues, (if I recall correctly).

Did you experience this? If so please tell us about it.
Yes I did. I came up from the water speaking in tongues. It was quite an odd experience, and I don't know if I can describe it such that someone who has never experienced that sort of thing can really understand it. Let me try an analogy and see how well it fits.

I've never really been to many concerts or raves, but it seems to me that there's a vibe that people get into where they're all really into the music and the mood. Everyone's dancing, everyone's feeling the music and it seems like everyone is in some sense on the same level - feeling the same thing. You're not consciously deciding just to go along with what everyone else is doing, but everyone's doing the thing and you're one of them. And there's this shared vibe that everyone's into.

I think it might be a bit like that.

In the church it was described by saying "The holy spirit has come upon the congregation". There's absolutely a feeling - a vibe - and everyone's suddenly on the same level and feeling the same thing. I want to be very clear that there really is something going on. It's not just people faking it for effect.

I remain convinced that it's a form of self- or group-hypnosis where what you're doing is not entirely under your conscious control. After all, the alternative explanation is that there really is a "holy spirit" of some kind descending on the congregation.

As you say, it's a bit of a digression from the original issue though.
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Old 19th May 2017, 03:16 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
What you said was



(highlighting mine) which means that ALL churches can't get away from the original premise. You said - you are saying:

It doesn't matter what church you're in - they're all the same. You cannot get away from the "universal message" of Christianity, which is Calvinistic Total Depravity.

I gave you an example of a church that gets away from that.

You did, and then you ignored and dismissed that input, and are continuing to do so. Forgive me if it seems like your welcome and thanks was insincere.

Love to.

Yes I did. I came up from the water speaking in tongues. It was quite an odd experience, and I don't know if I can describe it such that someone who has never experienced that sort of thing can really understand it. Let me try an analogy and see how well it fits.

I've never really been to many concerts or raves, but it seems to me that there's a vibe that people get into where they're all really into the music and the mood. Everyone's dancing, everyone's feeling the music and it seems like everyone is in some sense on the same level - feeling the same thing. You're not consciously deciding just to go along with what everyone else is doing, but everyone's doing the thing and you're one of them. And there's this shared vibe that everyone's into.

I think it might be a bit like that.

In the church it was described by saying "The holy spirit has come upon the congregation". There's absolutely a feeling - a vibe - and everyone's suddenly on the same level and feeling the same thing. I want to be very clear that there really is something going on. It's not just people faking it for effect.

I remain convinced that it's a form of self- or group-hypnosis where what you're doing is not entirely under your conscious control. After all, the alternative explanation is that there really is a "holy spirit" of some kind descending on the congregation.

As you say, it's a bit of a digression from the original issue though.

Sorry if you got the impression I was dismissing your input, it was not my intention. At the risk of labouring the point I was just pointing out, (as I said), that the original premise of Christianity, (in all its colours), is the same.

That to one side however, thanks for your input into the talking in tongues phenomenon.

I was wondering when you are doing it if you have an idea what you are saying in this alternative language, and can you decipher what others are saying when they are thus possessed, so to speak?

So you really thought you were experiencing something real when the holy spirit came upon the congregation and everybody felt it? There was nobody who said afterwards - "Hey what were you guys up to?"

I went to a Billy Graham meeting many years ago where he, and his helpers, really got the mob going. At the end of the performance quite a few went down the front and got anointed or whatever else they did to them. I suppose those felt some "holy spirit" thing that motivated them, but the majority did not - certainly not my friends and I. We came to scoff but didn't stay to pray.

What I am drawing attention to here is there was no blanket, universal, experience by all the group, as distinct from your observation of your congregation.

The format of the meeting was some kind of standard approach I think as I have seen it done since a number of times. All the woes of the World are laid out in detail so there just seems to be no hope - then Jesus is introduced as the answer. Hallelujah!
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Old 19th May 2017, 04:51 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Sorry if you got the impression I was dismissing your input, it was not my intention.
I accept your apology and happily move on from this unfortunate incident.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
That to one side however, thanks for your input into the talking in tongues phenomenon.

I was wondering when you are doing it if you have an idea what you are saying in this alternative language, and can you decipher what others are saying when they are thus possessed, so to speak?
Nope. the idea is that you are speaking in the language of the angels or something. Interpretation of tongues is a separate gift - 1 Corinthians 12:10 and 12:30. Actually most of 1 Corinthians 12 is about this idea. There are lots of different kinds of gift - wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, healing, speaking tongues, interpreting tongues, etc. But they're all from the same Holy Spirit.

Allow me to recount an anecdote that I have a pretty good memory of. It was during a worship service, and "the Holy Spirit had descended on the congregation". Hopefully you know what I mean by that now. At one point a guy stood up and shouted "BALLABALLAAHSHALALLABBLBLLAAALALAAA!!!!" (it's always Ls, Bs and SHs, for some reason). There was a silence for a moment, and the pastor asked "Uh, does anyone have an interpretation?" There was a bit of an uncomfortable shuffling, and then someone said "For uhh.. God love the world so he... uhh... gave us his son?"

I think that was the first moment I started to experience genuine doubt.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
So you really thought you were experiencing something real when the holy spirit came upon the congregation and everybody felt it? There was nobody who said afterwards - "Hey what were you guys up to?"
Nope. Well... not to me, anyway. Anybody who was baptised in the holy spirit was a part of it, and those who weren't were hoping to be. I can't guarantee that there was no-one up the back wondering what the hell was going on, but I didn't encounter anyone like that.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I went to a Billy Graham meeting many years ago where he, and his helpers, really got the mob going. At the end of the performance quite a few went down the front and got anointed or whatever else they did to them. I suppose those felt some "holy spirit" thing that motivated them, but the majority did not - certainly not my friends and I. We came to scoff but didn't stay to pray.
Well obviously. You weren't there as part of the service, you were there to scoff. Why were you there to scoff, by the way? Why was that an intended goal? Did you hope to actually speak to anyone, or was it just for the lulz? Laughing at all the idiots doing stupid things? Why would you do that?

Anyway, just because they didn't go down the front for a personal ministration doesn't mean that they weren't feeling it. In my experience (I attended only a couple of revivals like that, and none with anyone particularly famous outside the revival circuit. Remind me later to tell you that story too) the only people who actually go up for personal ministration are those who have a particular reason for doing so. They want a healing, for themselves or for a relative or friend, they want a special prayer for a particular purpose, or something else. It would only ever be a small number of people, because getting a personal ministration wasn't something that you did for no purpose. I did it once, and yes, I fell over.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
What I am drawing attention to here is there was no blanket, universal, experience by all the group, as distinct from your observation of your congregation.
Yep. This was pretty much my point earlier - that you can't say that Calvinistic depravity was a blanket, universal experience, any more than you can say that any other doctrine or practice was a blanket, universal experience.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
The format of the meeting was some kind of standard approach I think as I have seen it done since a number of times. All the woes of the World are laid out in detail so there just seems to be no hope - then Jesus is introduced as the answer. Hallelujah!
This was also the method of proselytisation that was taught to me. When you wanted to convert someone, you started by telling your own personal story about how you were into drugs and sex and rock-and-roll or whatever, and your life was ****, but then along came Jesus to make it all better. Like I said, you have to have something to be saved from. But the emphasis is on "life is great with Jesus" and not "life is awful without Jesus". You (and Calvin) emphasised the latter while my church emphasised the former.
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Old 20th May 2017, 02:56 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I accept your apology and happily move on from this unfortunate incident.

Nope. the idea is that you are speaking in the language of the angels or something. Interpretation of tongues is a separate gift - 1 Corinthians 12:10 and 12:30. Actually most of 1 Corinthians 12 is about this idea. There are lots of different kinds of gift - wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, healing, speaking tongues, interpreting tongues, etc. But they're all from the same Holy Spirit.

Allow me to recount an anecdote that I have a pretty good memory of. It was during a worship service, and "the Holy Spirit had descended on the congregation". Hopefully you know what I mean by that now. At one point a guy stood up and shouted "BALLABALLAAHSHALALLABBLBLLAAALALAAA!!!!" (it's always Ls, Bs and SHs, for some reason). There was a silence for a moment, and the pastor asked "Uh, does anyone have an interpretation?" There was a bit of an uncomfortable shuffling, and then someone said "For uhh.. God love the world so he... uhh... gave us his son?"

I think that was the first moment I started to experience genuine doubt.
Do you think the guy who gave that interpretation was really genuine?

Quote:
Well obviously. You weren't there as part of the service, you were there to scoff. Why were you there to scoff, by the way? Why was that an intended goal? Did you hope to actually speak to anyone, or was it just for the lulz? Laughing at all the idiots doing stupid things? Why would you do that?
Am surprised you asked this to be honest.

I was quite young at the time, (21 - 22), but had already come to the realization that religion caused a lot of harm. Apart from the broader issues having been discussed most extensively on this forum, I referred back to my own childhood and the pain I experienced before letting go of belief in God. Also I could see the problems my brothers faith was causing in my family. His religious convictions drove a wedge between him and our parents. So even back then I was anti-theism.

Going to see Billy Graham was to some extent just a bit of a lark I suppose, but I and my mates, were interested to see the performance, and see what made this guy so successful. We were infiltrating the enemy to find out his tricks.


Quote:
Anyway, just because they didn't go down the front for a personal ministration doesn't mean that they weren't feeling it. In my experience (I attended only a couple of revivals like that, and none with anyone particularly famous outside the revival circuit. Remind me later to tell you that story too) the only people who actually go up for personal ministration are those who have a particular reason for doing so. They want a healing, for themselves or for a relative or friend, they want a special prayer for a particular purpose, or something else. It would only ever be a small number of people, because getting a personal ministration wasn't something that you did for no purpose. I did it once, and yes, I fell over.
Please do.

So you actually fell over! Do you have and explanation for this and what did it feel like?

Quote:
Yep. This was pretty much my point earlier - that you can't say that Calvinistic depravity was a blanket, universal experience, any more than you can say that any other doctrine or practice was a blanket, universal experience.

This was also the method of proselytisation that was taught to me. When you wanted to convert someone, you started by telling your own personal story about how you were into drugs and sex and rock-and-roll or whatever, and your life was ****, but then along came Jesus to make it all better. Like I said, you have to have something to be saved from. But the emphasis is on "life is great with Jesus" and not "life is awful without Jesus". You (and Calvin) emphasised the latter while my church emphasised the former.

Lets not get into that again.
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Old 20th May 2017, 04:15 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Do you think the guy who gave that interpretation was really genuine?
I think that the person (a woman, from memory) who gave the interpretation believed that they were genuine.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Am surprised you asked this to be honest.
Why? Are you not aware that I am against mocking religion in general?

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I was quite young at the time, (21 - 22), but had already come to the realization that religion caused a lot of harm. Apart from the broader issues having been discussed most extensively on this forum, I referred back to my own childhood and the pain I experienced before letting go of belief in God. Also I could see the problems my brothers faith was causing in my family. His religious convictions drove a wedge between him and our parents. So even back then I was anti-theism.

Going to see Billy Graham was to some extent just a bit of a lark I suppose, but I and my mates, were interested to see the performance, and see what made this guy so successful. We were infiltrating the enemy to find out his tricks.
Well that's a little bit different from your previous stated purpose of going there in order to scoff.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Please do.
Maybe.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
So you actually fell over! Do you have and explanation for this and what did it feel like?
It's another manifestation of exactly the same thing. You don't consciously choose to do it in order to fit in. I've never been hyponotised, but I expect that it's essentially the same. You do the thing because it never occurs to you to not do the thing.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Lets not get into that again.
I agree, even though it is the stated topic of the thread. We've moved quite a long way away from "Christianity and Self Esteem" and more into "arthwollipot tells Thor about his religious experiences". It's been a while since anyone else even posted here. I'm more than willing to answer questions, but let's let someone else get a word in.
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Old 21st May 2017, 03:30 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I think that the person (a woman, from memory) who gave the interpretation believed that they were genuine.

Why? Are you not aware that I am against mocking religion in general?

Well that's a little bit different from your previous stated purpose of going there in order to scoff.
I was trying to introduce a touch of lightheartedness into the the exchange with the expression by one Oliver Goldsmith I believe:

Quote:
At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorn'd the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,
And fools, who came to scoff, remain'd to pray.
You tend to be somewhat out on a limb with your reluctance to mock religion here and elsewhere that atheists inhabit. Many, myself included, think drawing attention to the absurdity of some religious beliefs, is an effective weapon. Have you noticed how many comedians poke fun at religion?

Quote:
It's another manifestation of exactly the same thing. You don't consciously choose to do it in order to fit in. I've never been hyponotised, but I expect that it's essentially the same. You do the thing because it never occurs to you to not do the thing.
Interesting

Quote:
I agree, even though it is the stated topic of the thread. We've moved quite a long way away from "Christianity and Self Esteem" and more into "arthwollipot tells Thor about his religious experiences". It's been a while since anyone else even posted here. I'm more than willing to answer questions, but let's let someone else get a word in.
And I have found your input most informative.

Nothing stopping others from putting an oar in here and just steering this back away from arthwollipot's religious experiences, I wonder about the faith of the mega evangelists.

Daniel Dennett has had a lot to say about clergymen who've lost their faith and even created a site for them to meet in comfort. I've never heard of one of the big time evangelists coming out as a non believer however and wonder if anyone else here has.

It is my suspicion that many of these guys don't have any faith to begin with and are just in it for the money. Those prosperity guys who preach "God want's you to be rich and the way to get there is to give me money first", at the top of the pile.

If what I suspect is true I wonder what they think when they look at the guy in the mirror. High self esteem?
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Old 21st May 2017, 03:47 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I was trying to introduce a touch of lightheartedness into the the exchange with the expression by one Oliver Goldsmith I believe:
Fair enough - I did not recognise it as a quote.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
You tend to be somewhat out on a limb with your reluctance to mock religion here and elsewhere that atheists inhabit.
I am aware of that.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Many, myself included, think drawing attention to the absurdity of some religious beliefs, is an effective weapon.
First: there is a substantial difference between drawing attention to absurdity and mocking. Second, I note your use of the word "weapon" as though this is required to be some kind of violent conflict.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Have you noticed how many comedians poke fun at religion?
Yes. I'm not a fan of standup, and comedians like Gervais, Carlin and Izzard annoy the crap out of me, to the point where I will just avoid them completely. Colbert and Connolly do it well. A few others. Not very many. Religion is an easy target, and it seems to me that you can get a bunch of cheap laughs by pandering to atheists. But as I said I'm not a fan of standup. That's an entirely different subject.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
It is my suspicion that many of these guys don't have any faith to begin with and are just in it for the money. Those prosperity guys who preach "God want's you to be rich and the way to get there is to give me money first", at the top of the pile.
I am absolutely convinced that at least some of them are completely sincere in their beliefs. I'm sure there are some cynical manipulators, but I don't think it's logically defensible to claim that all of them are like that.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
If what I suspect is true I wonder what they think when they look at the guy in the mirror. High self esteem?
On the contrary, those who are sincere in their beliefs are pretty proud of the work that they do for God, and those who aren't are proud of their ability to pull one over on the marks. I think these are the people who have the highest self esteem. They are extremely successful at what they do.
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Old 21st May 2017, 09:20 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Fair enough - I did not recognise it as a quote.

I am aware of that.

First: there is a substantial difference between drawing attention to absurdity and mocking. Second, I note your use of the word "weapon" as though this is required to be some kind of violent conflict.
I don't see much difference to be honest and when you refer to expressions like "The pen is mightier than the sword" it sort of diffuses the idea of violent conflict.

Quote:
Yes. I'm not a fan of standup, and comedians like Gervais, Carlin and Izzard annoy the crap out of me, to the point where I will just avoid them completely. Colbert and Connolly do it well. A few others. Not very many. Religion is an easy target, and it seems to me that you can get a bunch of cheap laughs by pandering to atheists. But as I said I'm not a fan of standup. That's an entirely different subject.
I like them all. Religion is an easy target certainly because some of the beliefs are so ridiculous. From your previous posts I get the impression you think so too so can't see how you maintain this position.

Quote:
I am absolutely convinced that at least some of them are completely sincere in their beliefs. I'm sure there are some cynical manipulators, but I don't think it's logically defensible to claim that all of them are like that.

On the contrary, those who are sincere in their beliefs are pretty proud of the work that they do for God, and those who aren't are proud of their ability to pull one over on the marks. I think these are the people who have the highest self esteem. They are extremely successful at what they do.
Interesting that you think that and wonder why you think they are so sincere. Do you extend that conviction to cover the Jimmy Swaggarts and Jimmy Bakers?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjvaisJ2eX0

I did not say, incidentally, that all of them are like that, but feel a strong conviction that some are, and given that conviction think they may not grade themselves very highly on a scale of morality.
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Old 21st May 2017, 10:03 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I don't see much difference to be honest and when you refer to expressions like "The pen is mightier than the sword" it sort of diffuses the idea of violent conflict.
Our language is filled with violent idioms - that doesn't mean that we have to use them. Your choice to refer to mockery as a "weapon" is quite interesting to me because it suggests that you naturally see religion as an enemy to be opposed, that you require weapons for the purposes of opposing.

Let me make my views clear: I do not believe that religion is the enemy. I believe that fanaticism is the enemy and while religion engenders one type of fanaticism, the fact that there are religious people who are not fanatics utterly destroys the idea that it is religion itself which must be opposed.

By all means take on the religious fanatics, if that is the kind of fanatic you choose to focus your attention on, and use whatever violent metaphors you wish in order to achieve your strategic goals in that area. Meanwhile I will continue to engage in actual dialogue with the non-fanatical religious people that you would brand as an enemy because of what is to me your misdirected animosity. Together we will do our best to temper the extremes of fanaticism, both in the religious and the political arenas.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I like them all. Religion is an easy target certainly because some of the beliefs are so ridiculous. From your previous posts I get the impression you think so too so can't see how you maintain this position.
I hope that what I have said above clears it up somewhat. My taste in comedy is a subject for another time.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Interesting that you think that and wonder why you think they are so sincere. Do you extend that conviction to cover the Jimmy Swaggarts and Jimmy Bakers?

I did not say, incidentally, that all of them are like that, but feel a strong conviction that some are, and given that conviction think they may not grade themselves very highly on a scale of morality.
Indeed, nor did I say that all of them are like that. In fact I went out of my way to not say that. But no villain ever thinks themselves to be immoral. Even those who engage in outright cons do so for reasons that they feel makes such behaviour appropriate. And those with genuine religious convictions are utterly convinced that their behaviour is moral in the sight of God.

This is the problem with morality, you see. Everyone believes their own behaviour to be moral and others' to be immoral. Even Hitler thought he was doing the right thing. That a majority of others disagreed did nothing to change his own inner sense of morality. Prosperity Gospel preachers are no different. Their own, personal, inner sense of morality supports what they do. We disagree, but that doesn't change how they see it.
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Old 22nd May 2017, 02:52 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Our language is filled with violent idioms - that doesn't mean that we have to use them. Your choice to refer to mockery as a "weapon" is quite interesting to me because it suggests that you naturally see religion as an enemy to be opposed, that you require weapons for the purposes of opposing.
What an odd thing to say. I am not suggesting you have to use these expressions but if I want to use them that's OK isn't it?

Quote:
Let me make my views clear: I do not believe that religion is the enemy. I believe that fanaticism is the enemy and while religion engenders one type of fanaticism, the fact that there are religious people who are not fanatics utterly destroys the idea that it is religion itself which must be opposed.
Religion is the engine that drives the most extreme fanaticism.

Quote:
By all means take on the religious fanatics, if that is the kind of fanatic you choose to focus your attention on, and use whatever violent metaphors you wish in order to achieve your strategic goals in that area. Meanwhile I will continue to engage in actual dialogue with the non-fanatical religious people that you would brand as an enemy because of what is to me your misdirected animosity. Together we will do our best to temper the extremes of fanaticism, both in the religious and the political arenas.
I have repeatedly made the comment that I am not an enemy of religious people, but see religion itself as the problem and the followers the main victims. You seem to go out of your way to pick a fight.

Quote:
Indeed, nor did I say that all of them are like that. In fact I went out of my way to not say that. But no villain ever thinks themselves to be immoral. Even those who engage in outright cons do so for reasons that they feel makes such behaviour appropriate. And those with genuine religious convictions are utterly convinced that their behaviour is moral in the sight of God.
I don't have your insight into the minds and motives of others.

Quote:
This is the problem with morality, you see. Everyone believes their own behaviour to be moral and others' to be immoral. Even Hitler thought he was doing the right thing. That a majority of others disagreed did nothing to change his own inner sense of morality. Prosperity Gospel preachers are no different. Their own, personal, inner sense of morality supports what they do. We disagree, but that doesn't change how they see it.
As above, I can't see how you can be sure of this.
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Old 22nd May 2017, 07:53 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Religion is the engine that drives the most extreme fanaticism.
I disagree, and once again as an example I will bring up Hitler, whose fanaticism was political and not religious.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I have repeatedly made the comment that I am not an enemy of religious people, but see religion itself as the problem and the followers the main victims. You seem to go out of your way to pick a fight.
And I have repeatedly made the comment that I believe that the distinction between the two is spurious. We've been through this before, you and I. After all, it takes two to fight.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I don't have your insight into the minds and motives of others.
Insight? You mean reading?

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
As above, I can't see how you can be sure of this.
Well, see, I read books. And in some of those books, fanatics explain the reasoning and motivation behind their fanaticism.
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Old 25th May 2017, 04:25 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Go to christianforums.com and read some of the threads in the "Christans only" sections. No lack of self-esteem there from some of the "Trump is the best thing to happen to America"-style posters. Nope, they're very, very sure that they're going to heaven and that anybody who disagrees with them about anything is an agent of the devil, bringing us to the end times, so that they can glory by God's side and watch everybody else burning in a lake of fire.

It's simultaneously amusing, depressing, and frightening.
That might be the order of emotions when the leftist meets him.
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Old 25th May 2017, 04:26 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
How believers feel about themselves is a complex question. One sees them with smiles seemingly welded to their faces, as they speak of the joy their faith gives them. From the outside looking in I sense a lack of sincerity and wonder how much is for show. I often wonder how secure the believers feel about personal salvation.

Consider the new age Christians who are told they must be "born again" to be saved. Being born again means having some special experience as I understand it, so our devotees must believe they have. What if they are not sure, but are surrounded by others all claiming to have experienced it. Wouldn't they fake it so they are accepted as part of the group, while at the same time feeling insecure about their salvation?
I think you read too much into it, you're obviously desperately seeking answers, why?
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Old 25th May 2017, 04:31 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
No, it's because of differences in doctrine.

In the Catholic church, for example, salvation is via the sacrements - specifically baptism and communion. So children get that very early. The Anglican church is basically a copy of Catholicism in that regard. The difference is in the newer evangelical churches, where a "personal relationship with God" is required. Catholics don't have that - the laity don't have a personal relationship with God; it's all mediated through the ecclesiastical heirarchy. You want to speak with God, you get a priest to do it for you. That's basically why saints exist. You can speak with saints, and they will speak with God on your behalf.

The evangelical Protestant emphasis on people having a direct relationship with God means that, essentially, you have to introduce yourself. Hi God, I'm arthwollipot. I accept Jesus Christ as my lord and saviour bla bla bla. You have to be an adult and capable of making your own decisions to do this. When you do, they baptise you (and no measly sprinkling either - they immerse you fully in water) and you start your new life.

That's why they call it being "born" again - because they disconnect you as much as they can from your previous sinful life. You're "reborn" into Christianity.

Catholicism (and Anglicanism) don't have this because the practice is to baptise infants and give them their first communion when they're children.

Again, this is speaking from my own experience only and other churches may do it differently.
Just to get this right, you don't have to be baptised to be saved. Its done once you are saved as an outward expression of your faith. The water is a symbol of the washing away of your old life.
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Old 25th May 2017, 04:32 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Getting back to my original theme I do find it hard to blend the idea of high self esteem with self abuse - be it verbal such as calling yourself a miserable wretch and sinner, or physical as practiced by the Opus Dei for example.
Its actually an understanding of the human condition, usually it brings humility which leads to many other great things.
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Old 25th May 2017, 04:35 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
I don't think so. I think they've just offloaded their self-esteem onto an imaginary construct of a god. It's all still happening within their own mind, though. Whether they're strong because they believe in themselves or they believe god gives them strength, I see no difference.

So long as they don't mistake their way of thinking for the only acceptable way of thinking, none of it bothers me.
Except that imaginary construct tends to lead us in very striking ways. Its very exciting experiencing what he does.
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Old 25th May 2017, 04:37 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
"God" is simply an alternative label they have for themselves.
Lol
Actually not, he changed my life!
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Old 25th May 2017, 04:42 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
I don't buy it. You have to keep in mind the teachings that have been drummed into Christians like your brother. They are taught that man is not worthy of God's love and what man has created is not because of man but what God allows us to know. All credit goes to almighty. It would be arrogant perhaps even blasphemous for us to believe man was responsible.

It's not that your brother doesn't believe in himself it's that he believes he is the product of God and is humbling himself before his Lord.

I grew up in a religious family but I can't say I ever was much of a believer. But you have no idea how many times I wished I was. It all just seemed to be a crock. I've said it hundreds of times to family members who want me back in the church. 'I can't believe in what I don't believe in'.
All of us have family members such as you, it doesn't bother me in the least. Even though I want to I can't give them faith, only God can open their eyes. I was once the same way, but I had someone praying for me that I didn't know they were, but I wasn't hostile to things of God. Someone is surely praying for you, what that will accomplish, no one can know.
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Old 25th May 2017, 04:45 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by Apathia View Post
In my Baptist childhood (before I became an Seventh-Day Adventist, which makes no difference to the matter), my grandmother would drag my sister and I up the sawdust trail every Sunday church service to ask forgiveness of our sins and so get back in good grace with God after a week of sin.

That was the way my Sunday School teacher said it worked. Repent, be forgiven, and go and sin no more, except everybody does, so you must come back and get rewashed by the blood of the Lamb.

So of course self esteem suffered, because God was always watching in Heaven and judging to condemnation the next time I did a naughty.

Then I became an SDA, which didn't help. There was more about God's Law and how we were being judged by it in the Investigative Judgement that began in 1844. Obey God's Law and Jesus will take you to him in his Second Advent. Disobey and you're toast.

Trouble was that I found that I really couldn't be up to standard in my obedience. The flesh was weak. Or rather the desires were strong. So I hit a crisis. I could only be toast.

I became depressed and dropped out of college.

I began looking for that fabled Christian secret of a sinless life, but found something else. In brief I discovered the Lutheran doctrine of Justification through Faith, alone. Something that Protestants are supposed to believe in, but for the most part remain in ignorance of. The Pauline epistles were very clear that in Faith one is not under the law but under grace. (Romans 6:14). I realized the Law was not hanging over my head, and the Gospel wasn't about obedience to the Ten Commandments but mercy, compassion, and unconditional Love.

That lifted all the self incrimination, guilt, and shame. I could Love myself, because God loved me, unconditionally and consistently.

Of course as I came to understand grace for itself, I realized the religious middle man was more a prop than anything else and that grace was of the heart rather than religion.

In my maturity, I don't really make much of Self-Esteem, especially when it's just a pride based on accomplishments or the delusion of being a good person in contrast to "bad" people. In other words, any claim to superiority.
Instead I value self-compassion. I like to have mercy on myself and others.
Generally it goes: "I'm not OK, and You aren't OK, but that's OK!"
Excellent points!
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Old 25th May 2017, 04:48 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by Apathia View Post
As I understand it now, continuing to label oneself as a "miserable sinner" and writhing in self-loathing are not really Christian. So it doesn't necessarily follow that if a person is a Christian ze will suffer low self-esteem.

I will give the Apostle Paul, Soren Kierkegaard, Paul Tillich, and Martin Buber credit for writing things that resonated with my own heart. I've met "Christians" who vehemently resist this notion of Grace and insist that there must be consequences for breaking God's Law. I can only leave them to their misery.

I also give credit to the Buddhist authors I've read for expanding my sense of Compassion. But that would be a different thread.
Agreed.
Its called the "good news" and it was and is good news to me.
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Old 25th May 2017, 05:16 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by logger View Post
Just to get this right, you don't have to be baptised to be saved. Its done once you are saved as an outward expression of your faith. The water is a symbol of the washing away of your old life.
Thanks for the clarification. I was more referring to Baptism being one of the Catholic Sacraments (the others being Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order and Matrimony) and thus central to the lives and salvation of those of the Catholic faith.

Quote:
While the Church itself is the universal sacrament of salvation,[5][6] the sacraments of the Catholic Church in the strict sense[7] are seven sacraments that "touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith".[8] "The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation", although not all are necessary for every individual,[9] and has placed under anathema those who deny it: "If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not ineed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema."[10]
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Old 25th May 2017, 07:48 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by logger View Post
I think you read too much into it, you're obviously desperately seeking answers, why?

Hello again and welcome to this discussion logger. Good to have someone on the inside of Christianity giving their perspective.

No, I am not desperately seeking answers as you suggest, but am genuinely interested in the question. Arth has been good enough to give us his take on it and as you may glean from our exchange, we don't see eye to eye. I am not moved from my opinion that no matter how much you dress it up and how happy clappy your religious gatherings are you, as Christians, have this conviction hanging over your heads, that you are unworthy in your own right, and rely on the sacrifice of Jesus to get you there.
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Old 25th May 2017, 07:52 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by logger View Post
Its actually an understanding of the human condition, usually it brings humility which leads to many other great things.

humility
noun [ mass noun ]
the quality of having a modest or low view of one's importance.


Thanks for that logger .... so we are in agreement then.
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Old 25th May 2017, 08:10 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by logger View Post
Agreed.
Its called the "good news" and it was and is good news to me.
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Old 26th May 2017, 10:10 AM   #74
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
humility
noun [ mass noun ]
the quality of having a modest or low view of one's importance.


Thanks for that logger .... so we are in agreement then.
Lol

It also means freedom from pride or arrogance, the quality or state of being humble. Which shows maturity.
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Old 26th May 2017, 02:34 PM   #75
Thor 2
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Originally Posted by logger View Post
Lol

It also means freedom from pride or arrogance, the quality or state of being humble. Which shows maturity.

Interesting that a dictionary extract can encourage laughter logger. The extract did say:

....... having a modest or low view of one's importance.

That is the same as having low self esteem is it not?

A common tactic this one of posting expressions like:

Lol.
Oh my.
Mercy.
Sad.
..... etc.

I would classify these as making a comment when you have nothing to say.
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Old 26th May 2017, 03:17 PM   #76
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Here's an interesting article concerning humility:

"Leaders are more powerful when they’re humble, new research shows"

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...esearch-shows/
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Old 26th May 2017, 04:57 PM   #77
logger
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Interesting that a dictionary extract can encourage laughter logger. The extract did say:

....... having a modest or low view of one's importance.

That is the same as having low self esteem is it not?

A common tactic this one of posting expressions like:

Lol.
Oh my.
Mercy.
Sad.
..... etc.

I would classify these as making a comment when you have nothing to say.
Mine came from the Webster definition, yours came from google.
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Old 26th May 2017, 04:58 PM   #78
logger
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Originally Posted by Shepherd View Post
Here's an interesting article concerning humility:

"Leaders are more powerful when they’re humble, new research shows"

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...esearch-shows/
Thor you might want to take a look at this!

You'll learn humility as you get older.
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Old 26th May 2017, 05:11 PM   #79
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Interesting that a dictionary extract can encourage laughter logger. The extract did say:

....... having a modest or low view of one's importance.

That is the same as having low self esteem is it not?
It's actually kind of not.

Low self-esteem doesn't mean that you have a low view of your importance, it's having a low view of your worth. It doesn't mean that you acknowledge your small place in the greater reality, it means that you feel like you don't belong in the greater reality. It means that you feel like a fraud, that everyone's secretly laughing at you or pitying you. That you have nothing to contribute to society.

Speaking as someone who has struggled with low self-esteem all my life, I feel that it's quite different from humility.
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Old 26th May 2017, 05:27 PM   #80
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It is far from being a xtian exclusive conceit.

Every military branch in every nation has it's own blunt and simple version of it:

If you ain't Airborne (Marine, SEAL, Tanker, Medic etc.) you ain't ****."
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