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Having spent the past forty years of my life studying the philosophical infrastructure of the Christian faith, I have come to the conclusion that Christianity (as understood by Christian fundamentalists) is not a rational system of thought, that the primary axioms upon which the faith is based are inherently flawed, internally inconsistent, to the point that such can no longer be considered to be an ontologically valid theory of life. However, for the purpose of this discussion, it is absolutely essential that the reader understand that the pedagogy of Jesus is something quite different from that of the Christian faith, that the moral and ethical teachings of Jesus (the exhortation that we love God, our neighbor, and our enemy) are discernibly different from that of the dogma associated with such a highly politicized and humanly fallible institution known as that of Christianity.

The fundamental propositions on which the Christian faith is based are as follows:

First, there is the unrelenting belief in an omnipresent (immanent), omnipotent (all-powerful), as well as omniscient (all knowing) God.

Second, that this God (although ostensibly stern and judgmental) is yet a loving God (1 John 4:8).

Third, that all human beings have been created by, and in the image of, God as the one and only creator of the universe.

Fourth, that human beings had no choice in that of their creation…… that no human being had the opportunity to choose to be, or not to be, a human being.

Fifth, that the vast majority of human beings is not saved (Matthew 7:14), and will therefore end up going to Hell.

Sixth, that salvation, according to the “inerrant scriptures” of the Holy Bible, is a function of having consciously accepted Jesus Christ as one’s own personal savior without regard to how good a life one may have lived…… that salvation is a matter of “faith” rather than “works.”

Seventh, that a relative inopportunity to accept Christ as one’s own personal savior cannot be considered to be a justifiable reason for which to avoid punishment in Hell.

Coincidentally, a couple of years ago, on the web site for the International Mission Board, an official entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, I ran across something referred to as the “Map of Lostness (http://going.imb.org/step_one.asp). It represents the percent of people in various areas around the world that are considered to be lost, that is, unsaved, and therefore destined to end up in Hell. Taking notice of the document, I located a web site that gave the most recent population figures for folks living in the different areas of the world represented on the “Map of Lostness.” After a few rather simple mathematical calculations, I discovered that, according to that document belonging to the Southern Baptist Convention, ninety-four percent of all people living on the Earth today are likely, upon death, to end up in Hell.

Now, given the foregoing presuppositions on which the Christian faith is based, allow me to illustrate, via a set of logical-deductive questions, the irrationality, and therefore the invalidity, of the Christian faith as understood by Christian fundamentalists.

Logical-Deductive Question #1-- Why would an essentially loving God, one in absolute control of all things, always there to help us out, while paradoxically realizing that the vast majority (ninety-four percent), none of whom had any choice whatsoever in choosing to become a human being, would, for whatever reason, end up being sent (by God himself) to the eternally burning fires of Hell?

Logical-Deductive Question #2-- Analogously (considering the parent-child relationship to be somewhat similar to that of God’s relationship with us as human beings) would it be reasonable for parents to have children knowing full well that they would end up with little choice but to place them in the kitchen oven, slowly roasting each to death? If parents were in fact to do such a thing (which, relatively speaking, is absolutely minimal compared to the eternality of God’s punishment) either would be declared to be insane or else so terribly evil that they would each be indicted for first-degree murder and therefore given the death penalty. However, as irrational as such a scenario might seem, God, apparently having done the same thing, is looked upon by the fundamentalist religious community as being an incredibly loving God!

Logical-Deductive Question #3-- Regarding an individual who had lived an essentially selfless life of love and compassion (an individual having spent the entirety of his/her life caring for the mentally ill, physically deformed, and indigent poor), but for whatever reason (raised as a Moslem in the Middle East or perchance having lived in China during the 1st century A.D. before word of Christ had spread to that particular area of the world) had little opportunity to accept Christ as his/her own personal savior, would it be reasonable for a God of love to send such an individual to Hell? For most folks (at least those capable of rational thought and a willingness to be honest) there would be a resounding “No, of course not!” However, for those of the fundamentalist community, there seems to be no problem, no problem whatsoever, no problem at all with an apparently loving God having decided to send an innocent person to the burning fires of Hell!

These are no doubt good questions, so good in fact that fundamentalist Christians refuse to consider them. For if such folks were to take the time to think through such issues, the mental conflict (the ontological dilemma) would be so great that they would have little choice but to abandon their faith in God. It is little wonder that in order to avoid such peril, the vast majority of Christians isolate themselves, make every possible effort to avoid contact with those who do not share their beliefs. That, of course, is the primary reason why so many of them do not want their children to attend public schools, why they are so likely to either home-school their children or to send them to schools run by that of their own particular church denomination. And for those who may eventually, and all eventually are, confronted with such issues, they are left with little choice but to defend themselves by insisting that such questions are illegitimate in that no one has the right to question “the truth of God.”

Given the need to protect their own rather flimsily structured cosmology of life, it is no wonder that such folks are unwilling to engage in an open-minded examination of their beliefs. For if they, in fact, did such a thing and were found wanting (realized that the “rock-solid foundation of their belief in God” had been shaken), they would have little choice but to question the fact of their own salvation; if, as a result of having asked such questions, they might well be on their way to Hell.

It should now be rather easy to understand why those of the fundamentalist community become so terribly upset when “unbelievers” challenge their beliefs. To give in, to admit that another’s logic just might possibly make a bit of sense, would mean that they may well have entered the realm of the unbeliever, the realm of the damned, and, of course, that is something no God-fearing fundamentalist Christian would dare to do! Indeed it would be rather admirable if such folks were willing to explore such issues with a degree of openness and objectivity. However, after having spent forty years discussing such matters with literally hundreds of fundamentalist believers, such an outcome is essentially out of the question, since, at least based upon my own experience, I have yet to find one fundamentalist willing to engage in an honest examination of his/her own religious beliefs.

Who knows, perhaps I was a bit threatening, or perhaps they were simply scared, scared to death, frightened that if they were to have taken the time to listen to me, their chances of going to Heaven would have been diminished, that listening to a bit of logic might have paved the way to Hell!

Concluding, let it be clear that my intention has not been to intimidate anyone who might consider himself/herself to be a Christian, but rather to simply clarify the imperfections, the logical-deductive shortcomings, of the Christian faith as a system of thought……. as an all inclusive theory of man.




------
G. Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D.


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Comments

The following comments are for "Untying the Gordian Knot of The Christian Faith"
by dougsoderstrom

Your baiting again, Doug
Christianity is infallible, Doug. Christians are not, never were, never will be (infallible) in this life. Simple logic tells me that I need help, divine help, to overcome my sin. I have no, I emphasize, no, problem debating you about my faith. But what is your point? You "hate" certain Christians, others you look down upon. It is difficult for me to "believe" you were ever a Christian given your stated views over and over again. It seems that your premise is that "Man" is Good. Man will redeem himself. If that's what you believe, fine by me. You work out your own salvation, with fear and trembling, I'll work out mine. All of us will work out their own. It seems you have a problem with proselizing. You don't want someone telling you, asking you begging you, or forcing you to intake their particular brand of religion. But it seems from my side that you are trying to snatch away people who do believe, and poisen others who might believe, or destroy any chance for those who are even mildly curious about what Christ might want for their lives. I'll let you in on a little secret, I fear nothing. Not you, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Benny Hin, Bob Schuler, Bozo the Clown,(No offense meant,Viper.) I certainly don't fear debate, and I'll bet some of the other Fundamentalists you've run across didn't fear you either. And assuming you are truthful in your assertation that no one will debate you on the "merits" of your thesis, the easy answer is "Cast not your pearls before swine." That works both ways here, especially at Lit. You have a few people here who agree with you, bully, bully. But I must say, most people I have met in life, Christian and non-Christian alike, are searching for truth, redemption, and love that will not fail, especially when the chips are down. I'll let you in on another little secret of mine, I believe when I leave this earth, this body, that I'll go to Heaven to be with Christ Jesus. I believe it with all my heart. But I won't "REALLY" "KNOW" where I'll be until that day. I'll just have to find out like the rest of the billions who went before me. I think that's where the rub is with you Doug, Those of us(fundamentalists or no) who believe, are putting our souls on the line for a Man who lived without sin, was murdered, and miraculously rose from the grave after tasting Hell,Death, whatever you want to call it.

You have given no good, sane, logical alternative in which to believe. Why believe anything you say? I think you are very mixed up, my friend.

For what it is worth, Maybe Hell is a place only for those who try to make their neighbor stumble.

If you truly wanted debate on a level playing field, you would not come to the table with a premise as flimsy as the one you postulate above. You want everyone to be open-minded- as long as they believe like you. That is no belief at all.

No offense intended.
williamhill

( Posted by: williamhill [Member] On: July 2, 2006 )

williamhill
Stick to the postulates of my article...... logically debate them, if you can. In fact I dare you to do such a thing.

In the meantime, I will stack my chips along with the one in whom I believe.... Jesus Christ, a man who put his life on the line for the principle of love (Love thy God with all thy heart, thy mind, and thy strength, and likewise love thy neighbor as thyself..... as well as that of thine enemy.

Love and peace,
Doug Soderstrom

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 3, 2006 )

You're an idiot again, Charlie
If it isn't Charlie the class moron of fundamentalist "logic"? Give it up Charlie, no one is listening to you. Your religious "logic" according to the Gospel of Charlie's Manifesto makes you sound like the consummate fundamentalist fool that you are. Stop embarrassing yourself. Stick to your poetry and stay out of the adult big boy world of logical knowledgeable debates.

( Posted by: MythosFocku [Member] On: July 3, 2006 )

You ask too of him, Doug
Charlie (williamhill) isn't capable of sticking to the postulates of your article. Charlie isn't capable of logical debate. He runs away and hides when it gets to tough for him. His friend Andy will have to step in again and clean up (cover-up) Charlie's idiocies.

No offense Charlie.

( Posted by: MythosFocku [Member] On: July 3, 2006 )

One comment
In williamhill's defense...... Allow me to say one thing. Having been a Christian fundamentalist during my that of childhood, I believed very much like williamhill. Since that point in time I went on and eventually got a Ph.D. degree in the field of psychology, and no doubt as a result I began to look at God in a very different way..... As a part of that process, I began to ask a lot of very hard (and no doubt very painful) questions of my own faith in God. As a result I became what I now refer to as a Christian Humanist (one who believes that the message of Jesus is one of love, not necessarily that one must consciouusly or even vocally express the name of Jesus by "going forward" in a church).

However, it is certainly possible that I could be wrong. I admit that possibility. And yes, I do so with fear and trembling. But given who I am, who I have become as a human being over the years, I do not believe that I could be anywhere but where I now am. I may end up in Hell someday, and I surely hope that I will not. But I can say one thing for sure, I have searced as honestly as I know how for the truth of God. And although I certainly do freighten myself at times, I am satisfied with where I have arrived at this time in my life.

So williamhill, we can debate as I certainly do believe that we each have the right to our own opinion. There is room for each of us in the world.

Doug

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 3, 2006 )

Newbie
Doug, I already owe Soos an opinion over the Gay Marriage Amendment, So I promised to respond to him first. However, I do accept your debate proposal, not to change you, or others who believe like you, but hopefully to reassure those Christians who are out there who like me, don't attend church, don't go to Sunday school, don't make a big deal in public of their beliefs, and to reassure those Christian believers who have been screwed over by Fun/non-fun Fathers that Jesus keeps His promises, keeps His word.

Question, what shall we use as authority, KJV,NIV,Living Bible, Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew,the Dead Sea Scrolls, The writings of Josephus? Darwin? Hawking? What parameters would you like to corral this debate in? String theory, Emotive theory/reasoning,existentialism,humanism,Eastern mysticism? Let's set the ground rules. If we agree on terms, I will be happy and eager to debate you.You may PM me anytime. I look in a couple of times a week, sometimes.

I am so pleased we have another New member at Lit. to say that no one is listening, again.

Welcome, Mythosfocku. I can't wait for your first post.

williamhill

( Posted by: williamhill [Member] On: July 3, 2006 )

Bite Me, Charlie.
You wear your ass crown well Sir Majesty Williamhill Charlie Southerland.

( Posted by: MythosFocku [Member] On: July 4, 2006 )

MythosFocku & william hill
I certainly do appreciate each of your thoughtful remarks.

And in regards to a debate concerning my article....... the only ground rule is that of logic, nothing more and nothing less..... A simple debate regarding to the propositions on which Christianity is based.

Doug

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 4, 2006 )

Usurping Charlie's God....


Yep-pers Doug, stop trying to usurp Williamhill's God. According to Williamhill he is the final authority on what "his God" is about...and low are they who dare to question it. Williamhill is all about "logic", don't you know that Doug? Stop trying to sway good Christians away from the true interpretation of WilliamHill's logic. Damn it Doug, you're all mixed up and going to hell boy! So sayeth WilliamHill.

Can't you follow Williamhill's logic?

Hey, come to think of it, I can't follow his logic either? What is his logic? Does anybody know? Does anybody know Williamhill? Does anybody know Charlie Southerland? Who is Charlie Southerland? Who is Williamhill? Who are the Christians he claims to speak for? Who are these pillars of Christian purity that are laying down their very lives and putting it all on the line for Jesus?

He cannot discuss it, Doug. It is all pearls before swine. That is how Charlie gets out of *it (*logic). Get a clue.

Good luck debating against Williamhill's infallible logic, Doug.

I look forward to following and reading this debate challenge between DougSoderstrom and WilliamHill.

( Posted by: MythosFocku [Member] On: July 4, 2006 )

MythosFocku
Yes, do keep in touch and we will see how such a debate turns out.

Doug

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 4, 2006 )

Doug
Dear Doug

Looks like the truly operative words here are "The Gordian Knot" . However unlike in the case of Alexander, this particular knot clearly has to be far too complex either to be unraveled or slashed through.

Going by everything this seems to be the clash of two belief -systems. The religious one has been belaboured beyond belief , and one has really very little to say - beyond all that has been said. The belief system at the opposite end of the scale is the one that is far more intriguing and possibly more presumptuous : that the ultimate mysteries of universe, matter and life can be cracked via reasoning and logic-in short by application of the scientific method .

It may well be that all these ulimate 'scientific " questions , and those on morality ,free will, pre-destination are infinitely more complex and therefore far beyond the reach of the best human minds -working with all the tools ,including all the erudition ,at their disposal.

In which case ,all our very best attempts in this regard ,could well prove little better than the ludicrous attempts of theologians during the "Dark Ages" attempting to quantify the precise number of angels that could sit on the tip of a needle.

( Posted by: RJKT [Member] On: July 5, 2006 )

Credibility Factor & Good Pillar Examples
Who is Williamhill/Charlie Southerland? Hmmm? So much for any credibility factor or good pillar examples...swoosh swish...out the window with the wash!



( Posted by: unseenwriterx [Member] On: July 5, 2006 )

Jessicanm
Hi...... and thanks for dropping in to see me.

Doug

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 5, 2006 )

RJKT
Yes, you certainly do have a good point...... calculating the precise number of angels capable of sitting on the tip of a needle..... is a rather awesome task! Well said!

Doug

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 5, 2006 )

unseenwriterx
Charlie Southerland............... ?

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 5, 2006 )

HUGGY BEAR LIBERALS AND JACKASS COWARD BS CHRISTIANS
Glazing eyed liberal huggy Doug bears that run around giving everyone flowers make me want to puke! But what pisses me off the most are jackass Will cowards that call themselves Christians that don't have the guts to back up their own shit. Willaim Hill get your wimpy ass out here or to hell with you.

( Posted by: TINKER [Member] On: July 8, 2006 )

NOT touching this!
My lord! This is exciting but I wouldn't dare give my opinion. It looks as if the gauntlet has been thrown by knight player A, picked up by knight player B, but then knight player B disappears? The audience grows listless as rage fills the gathering crowd!

( Posted by: castanedalupe [Member] On: July 8, 2006 )

Doug, you're wrong
I'm going to do this in two comments. First is, "Doug you're wrong," because your logical arguments aren't, from the point of view of many Christians, fundamentalist or otherwise, logical or persuasive. I'll explain why. Then I'll come back for the, "Doug, you're right" portion of the program.

1. (paraphrasing) "Why would an essentially loving God send almost all of his children to Hell?" This falls under the "Job's Lament" or "Wisdom of Man vs. Wisdom of God" clauses of some types of Christian belief, and can be explained two ways, neither of which are satisfactory to many non-believers of this type, but neither of which are illogical or counter-deductive. A) God's love starts on earth, but the eternal part requires submission to Christ for access to Heaven. Heaven is a place inhabited by pure-God-stuff, and to be with Him in that way, you need to be part of Him. The only way to do this, is through acceptance of God made flesh (again, born again Christianity) of His Son; i.e., to get to the Spiritual Kingdom of God, you need to become part of the flesh of God that was here on earth. It's not necessarily that Hell is punishment for sinners, it's just that it's not possible for non-believers. It's like driving a car. Not being allowed to drive isn't a punishment for those who don't have a license, it's just not allowed. B) We don't understand God's wisdom/love in terms of man's love. To compare the two is like comparing the understanding of children with adults. Children don't understand, many times, why they must do some things and not others. God is above us as we are above animals, plants and most breakfast cereals. Saying, "It's not fair," about God's love, heaven and hell is like a child complaining when she can't eat candy for breakfast. Our lives were a gift from God. He can do with them as He wills. To complain that it is not the way you like it, even if ALL OF US were sent to Hell after a life of utter misery is, fankly, whiny in the extreme. You paid nothing for your life, you did not create yourself. We have no concept of what God did to purpose the universe. To compain that "It's not fair," when we have a point of the picture the size of a grain of sand is ridiculous. This is God we're talking about here, not Walter Cronkite or Santa. God. Creator of the Universe. To question Him is to question Gravity, matter, energy, causality, fun, music, ice cream, love, The Beatles, and, yes... all the bad stuff, too. I can think of 17 bulls**t sci-fi scenarios that involve our exact situation, and that require exactly our kind of suffering in order to bring about a logical (from a mankind standpoint) "higher good." But they'd be crap sci-fi hoo-hah, and I'm not God, and I have no idea, and I'm fine with that.

See? Told you they weren't satisfying. But the basic answers of, "You need to know God to see God," and "You aren't God, so shut up" answer Point 1.

2. (again, paraphrasing) "Why does God create us if there's little hope of salvation?" This is mostly the same question as above, but reversed, isn't it? But let's add the following. Why have kids on earth if they're only going to die? Why get married when 50%+ of marriages end in divorce? Why do anything? Even by human logic, the "Don't take a risk if it will probably fail" isn't a valid argument. And, again, (B) above is the usual answer to this... We don't know God's Big Plan. The alternative to 94% of His children going to Hell and 6% being saved might be 100% going to an even worse hell. It might be no life at all for anyone. There may be an end-game we can't even put into our wee haids in this dimension that comes "after hell" for those 94% (oops! did one of the sci-fi bits... sorry). We just can't know.

3. (more paraphrasing) "Good non-Christians going to Hell." See above: "Hell is just the place where God ain't there." The other problem with this, from a logical standpoint, is you end up with a wonderfully big ball of moral relativism. OK. Let's look at your "good" 1st Century A.D. Asian or South American (wow... that's an anachronism). Were they "good" by the standards of their culture and their time? Or ours? Wife beating OK with you? Slavery? Witch burning? Human sacrifice? What's your compass? If you are going to have a morally absolute location (heaven), it is not inconsistent to have a morally absolute key; Christianity.

Lots of people with lots of beliefs don't bother to examine them. As a Yankee liberal, for example, I have plenty of nice, atheist/agnostic liberal friends who haven't in any way carefully examined their atheism. They believe in the non-existence of God... having done nothing but kinda sortta not spent much time kinda sortta belittling a bunch of red-neck Southern yay-hoos. They've never spent time with Christians of deep faith. They've never been to tent meetings or youth camp and seen people healed of physical, emotional and spiritual hurts. They've never heard people speak and sing in tongues. They've never felt the Spirit move in a gathering as friends sing hymns. Not in televised mega-churches where they sell books and tapes during the commercials. In little churches in Massachusetts and Vermont and North Carolina and New York. Smart people. Vigorously minded people. People with PhDs and MDs. Talking and singing and praying with and for each other and for others all over the world.

Yes, there is a lot of "ism" out there that gets a bad rep. But just because someone believes something strongly, and believes somthing that is not pleasant to you or fun or inclusive... you've got to try harder to understand it if you want to argue against it. These are not simple people as you suggest. Many of them are deeply learned theologians. They think about this crap all day long. You come at them with these old arguments... and they'll take you apart.

( Posted by: andyhavens [Member] On: July 8, 2006 )

Doug, you're right
Now... having gotten that out of the way...

I disagree with much of what is held out as modern Christian dogma, too, Doug. But I don't think you can come at it quite as directly as you do, or with instruments quite as blunt. Here's my take on fundamentalit Christianity and where it falls short.

First, I see many parallels between modern Fundamentalism and the Jewish Pharisees, Sadducees and other ruling Jewish factions that were in charge during Christ's time. For example, the general reading of much of the Jewish prophecies of salvation was taken very literally. They wanted a messiah who would deliver them bodily, if not militarily, from the Romans. They wanted "The Lion of Juddah." Much of the Old Testament is filled with references that, upon modern Christian reflection, are said to be artful, physical allegories for the eventual spiritual leadership that Christ came to provide.

OK... well, my answer to much of the bluser of modern, straigh-forward Fundamentalism, then, is... why are you so literal? If you can say that "The Lion of Juddah" is a metaphor for Christ, why can't "the fire of Hell" mean "an uncomfortable place for people to figure out that love is better than hate?" And if "Forty days an forty nights" in Noah's ark isn't literal time in the rain, then why can't "eternity in hell," mean "as long as it takes to figure out that love is better than hate?" There's all kinds of ways you could read the New Testament and go, "Hmmmm.... there's room for interpretation there that makes God's absolute love through Christ accessible to more people than just... er... me."

For example, we've got three interesting statements of Jesus in the Bible:

1. I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

and...

2. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

Now, in the 2nd verse he is speaking directly to the disciples... but still. What does that mean? "Many rooms?" Could that mean that there's "room" for non-believers? Jesus also says:

3. Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

OK... So there is "no way to the Father but through Jesus." But there are "many rooms," and the kingdom of God "belongs to such as these," children who could not have made a conscious decision to have followed a particular theological faith... hmmmm...

Maybe what we have is some confusion as to what "hell" is? Maybe we've been mixing up various hell myths and Dante and a bunch of medieval crap and, frankly, Old Testament theology with Christ's message of mercy, love, forgiveness and grace?

Ya think?

Here's my big thing: I don't think we get to say what "hell" is, other than the fact that it probably isn't "seeing God" or "being with God" in some more profound sense than we understand.

Paul says, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." There's a freaky parallelism there, similar to the part in the "Lord's Prayer" where it says, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

"I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Does this mean that we get the heaven or hell that we make for ourselves? That the one of "many rooms" in God's house waiting for us is dependent on the rooms we furnish in our souls here in earth?

Let me ask you a question... Is a Celine Dionne concert heavenly or hellish? It all depends, right? For me, it would be torture. Pure torture. For good friends of mine... bliss. If the afterlife is a place where you must be totally open and honest about everything you've ever done, said and thought, where you must forgive all and be forgiven all, where you are required to spend eternity in "one-ness" with everyone else...

Is that heaven? Or is it hell? Or would it depend on how you have prepared yourself in life for such an event.

I don't think that the "Good 1st Century Chinaman" goes to a place of flames and pitchforks and lava and acid and Celine Dionne tunes. Why? Because I don't believe in such. Period. I find it silly and childish and inconsistent with scripture.

I do believe, though, that God is a certain way, and that His way was described and modeled by Christ. And that there are requirements to living that way, and those were taught by Christ. And if you want to live forever in a nicer place -- starting right now -- you gotta get on the stick and start acting right and believing in the Big JC. As a child or a 1st century Amazonian, do you get a chance after death to look at the pieces and go, "Yeah. This is consistent with my lifelong practices," ? I'd like to think so. And I think my reading of scripture and my examination of Christ's teachings aren't inconsistent with that.

But... at some point, you have to admit that there are people who simply... reject... love. Who do not forgive, who put themselves first, who will not listen to others, who do not care for children, who show no mercy, who take rather than give.

And sharing a spiritual place with people like that forever...

What would you call that, Doug?

( Posted by: andyhavens [Member] On: July 8, 2006 )

Andy rescues William...
Doug,
Mythosfucku pegged williamhill spot on. Despite what I've heard about williamhill, still, I would have thought the man had more balls than what he has shown here. I must admit that it did make me laugh when I read the comment by williamhill claiming to only looks in on lit.org a couple of week. Really? I don't know about you Doug, but I find that one hard to swallow.

Concerning the subject of your article, it is well written. I do not agree with some of what you say. I do not agree with much of what Andy has to say, but that is a whole other matter. I do not wish to debate you or Andy.

( Posted by: unseenwriterx [Member] On: July 8, 2006 )

Substantiation of claims
Dougsoderstrom --- I don't have too much to say about your article, except that I think you are a good writer and you've obviously given the subject of God and Jesus a lot of thought. I don't understand how logic has anything to do with belief in a God, but that's just my opinion. I don't really get involved in these kind philosophical questions. I like to keep my writing light fun oriented and that's already gotten me into some trouble.
I do have something to say about your debate with williamhill. I recall having recently read opinions written by williamhill. My impression is that he is highly opinionated with very little education or substance. I have to agree with the opinion of the other writers who have already expressed their lack of respect for him. I recall an article he wrote in which he accused another writer of slander yet he was not able to substantiate his accusations nor did he have any legal grounds on which to base his accusations. I found his demeanor unpleasant and hostile. I noticed he did not respond on his own behalf to any questions asking him to explain his position. I've noticed that the same thing has happened here as well. I doubt you will get a debate from williamhill. If I were you I would go ahead and have a debate with Andyhavens.


( Posted by: Legs [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

Comment spum
I like writing. I come here mostly to write poetry, read poetry and comment on poetry. The topic or substance of an article/essay is not so interesting to me, for the most part, as the "craft" of the writing. This site is a writing site, not a political site, not a religious site, not a medical, musical, drama, personality site. We're supposed to be writing, reading and commenting on such.

To that extent, it is legit to post an essay and ask, "How can my argument be made more strongly?" That's a *writing* question. How is it logical/illogical? If you want to write better essays, asking folks to judge what you write based on on logical performance is fine.

But we get a lot of discussing here on the topics of what is written -- probably more than on the merrits of and improvements to our craft. And then we get comments on the comments and commentors.

It makes me tired.

If you look back on my comment record here, you'll notice that the two types of conversations I'll wade into besides those of writing craft are:

a) Christianity
b) Humanity

though I recently commented about smoking, because, well... I really wanted a nail, and writing about smoking is the next best thing.

So I'm not saying, "This is bad. Stop." Clearly, I enjoy the discussion. But I do not understand the attitude that jumps into a new thread and begins, on a fresh page, belittling another site contibutor.

Doug posted his thoughts on a subject. WH responded with some elloquence. Jumping in and saying nothing more than "I think WH is an ass," is, frankly, bad manners.

I don't agree with WH on everything, and he and I have different styles. We're both Christians, and believe many of the same fundamental (stop it...) things about Christ, but practice our faiths differently, I assume.

Here's the thing that most impresses me about WH, though, as far as the context of this site goes: he writes a ton, he comments a ton, he's a good writer, he's consistent, and he provides helpful comments on craft and style as well as just blazing away on issues of belief.

So... that gives him high-level cred in my book. Lots of other people here have that, too. People I disagree with (too) and have other, different styles (too). You won't ever see me bashing any of them (either) because I respect the space.

May I, therefore, respectfully suggest that, as much as possible; we not call names, make an assumption that unless direct, unmitigated offense is clearly given, none was intended, and get on with it.

And yes... A little, this applies to my good friend WH, who gets riled easy. But there is a clear difference between WH saying:

"I think you are very mixed up, my friend."

and Mythosfocku calling WH an idiot, moron and fool and making references to "ass crown," WTH that is. And then making references/questions about identity. In virtual land... that's just rude. You are your avatar, here. If you want to put up links to your real life, Mythos, fine. If not, not. Stand down. Contribute to the discussion nicely, or take your ass crown and leave, please.

And, frankly, comments about writers' comments on other stuff... what's the point? This post is this post. Debate it or not, enjoy it or not. Stick to the subject.

I'm starting to feel like a teacher, and it's the weekend, so that makes me itch. Sorry for the lecture.

Jesus rocks! I'm outtie.


He and I are in a "vocal Christian minority," here, at Lit I believe. I do see other overtly

( Posted by: andyhavens [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

Tinker
I do wish that you were not so mean to me. I don't like what you said about me, It wasn't nice at all, and not at all substantive. And I do forgive you, but I will not come down to your level and grovel in the dirt.

Have a nice day,
Doug

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

Castanedalupe
I agree!

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

andyhavens
You raise a lot of specific points, and if I took the time to deal with each one specifically, it would take me many hours of time which I do not have. For that I do apologize.

However, to me your whole argument, I believe could have been summed up by simply saying:

The Mind of God is much beyond us, and we as human beings have not the capacity to understand the Mind of God, so there is no sense in even trying to do such a thing. Therefore, if what one believes about God does not seem logical (does not seem to make any sense)from our puny human point of view, such a thing simply doesn't matter , and it would be better (much safer from an eternal point of view) to just give up stop trying!

Isn't that about what you said...... andyhavens?

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

andyhavens
Concerning your second comment, I like the questions you asked.... very much in that it seems that you are implying that to have faith in God means to have faith that things will be worked out correctly (in a way that makes "complete divine sense!"). With that I agree 100%! For if such were not the case, nothing would ever make sense, and God would either be an absolute farce, or the "cruelest of all cruelty!"

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

Miss Manners Lecture, by andyhavens
Andyhavens,
I am beginning to think that either you are Charlie's on-site attorney-at-law, or that you and Charlie are a seriously committed couple in love. What the fuck is wrong with your memory Andy? If you are his attorney then you have failed to do your homework. Williamhill's overall writing and comment history IS relevant to this post. Williamhill has a long history of personal attacks against other writers on this site. He is the one in need of a manners lecture. Save it for the frothing spum bucket (Williamhill-Charlie Southerland) that you are so fiercely defending.

Where do you get off with your judgment call that because Williamhill has written a large volume of posts that it somehow gives him more validity as a credible persona on this site? Read the front page on Lit.Org. It is clearly stated that this site is for "readers and writers". All are free to comment or not. His internet identity and avatar persona holds no greater weight to creditability than anyone else here. This is an old seniority/volume argument that you have used before and that has been shot down before.

I knew (Doug also knew) that Williamhill would not be able to stand up to a direct challenge. We all knew you would step in and take over with your fifty pounds of thesis/dissertation of endless paragraphs.

I think Legs has a good point. Williamhill does not substantiate his claims. He is a loose canyon who has created unnecessary conflict and hostilities on this site, which has resulted in the loss of writers. He is one of the poorest examples of a good Christian I have ever encountered. I suggest you pray for him, Andy.

Doug,
I admire how you had the ability to define in one paragraph what it took Andyhavens 20 paragraphs to say. Have a good weekend. I'm signing out.

( Posted by: MythosFocku [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

Legs
Well let me first say that "I like your legs!" Now that I've gotten that off my chest, allow me to say that what you said makes a lot of sense to me.

So I ask, Where is AndyHavens anyway..... If you can AnyHavens, come back and give logical debate a try.... okay?

The best to you.... Legs!

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

Loose Cannon
Have a great weekend!

( Posted by: MythosFocku [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

andyhavens & mythosfocku
In that I would rather not take sides here...... Just let me say that I enjoy reading both of your posts...... as you each have a poit to make.

Have a good day each of you,
Doug

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

Why bother, when...
Doug: you don't have the time.

Mythos: you dont' like my volume, nor my defense of people whose attitudes I find less offensive than yours.

Doug, your short summation shortly sums up about 1/3 of my 1st reply. Go back and read it again, if you'd like, if you have time. If not, no big whoop. If we want to do it back-and-forth style, here's one quick "logical point" from the first portion (again, not my personal belief set, but the particular one that you were refuting) that you can then come back at.

We're not arguing about the beliefs themselves, remember, just the *logic* of them, right? So...

1. Assumption: morally good behavior will be rewarded in an afterlife.

2. Morally good behavior requires a fixed set of ethical limits, else nothing is truly forbidden.

3. A fixed set of moral limits assumes that one set of limits (i.e., rules) must be "the" correct set.

4. Whomever does not ascribe to "the" correct set of rules will be subject to punishment or at least lack-of-reward in the afterlife.

There. That's the logical, pretty quick way of putting the hole in the "it's not fair that 94$ of the people in history go to hell" argument. If you believe in moral absolutism, as defined above, which is not logically inconsistent in any way with much of Western philosophy... Hell for non-believers (of whatever sect) makes good sense. It's only in our most recent, pluralistic, "everybody gets to be OK differently" timeframe (again, that I tend to personally believe in) that moral relativism has been given much more sway.

So. If you are a moral relatavist, defend that stance logically, and tell me how it is consistent with a belief in ethical behavior per se.

( Posted by: andyhavens [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

andyhavens
Moral relativism is a reality of life, since (at least the way I see it)no one knows the Absolute Truth of God!" In the real world, the world in which we, as human beings, live our own individual perception is "our reality." And such a reality is based upon that which, according to the culture in which we have been raised, we have been taught. Now, that is not to say that what one believes to be true is true, that what one believes to be true is synonymous with The Truth of God, for I am sure that it is not. But that having been said, there is no way for us as human beings to escape the trap we are in. We can search for the truth (as I am sure that all of us on this site are doing), but what we find will certainly not be the truth of God, since each of us are trapped in the relativistic bind of having been bound by that of "our own past," the clouded lens which we look through in order to observe The Truth of God that is no doubt far beyond our ability to grasp.

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

Now we're getting somewhere, Doug
[WARNING: This is longish. Maybe it's because I type fast. Maybe it's because I have a big, fat mouth and it never shuts. Maybe it's because this is a writing site and I like to write. For those of you who don't like to read alot, skip to the abbreviated version surrounded by asterisks at the end.]

OK. So then you disagree with ANY religion or ethical belief set that makes morally absolute judgements, correct? It's not just Christianity? I understand that this particular post is about the application of this principle/argument to the modern (as you see it) Fundamentalist Christian viewpoint, specifically, but it sounds to me as if you base your judgement of that viewpoint on a rejection of moral absolutism.

If that is the case, we are not arguing logic, but opinion. Depending on the severity or mildness of difference between one culture's belief structure and another, we may be arguing that a particular action is a life-or-death moral issue, or a matter of taste. Some cultures, for example, have held the view that polygamy is no big deal. Others put you to death over it. Some say it's fine to charge any interest on a loan, some say "only a bit," some say none at all. Some cultures say it's OK to marry within "one degree of sangunity" (brother to sister), others say it must be at least three (2nd cousins). None of these decisions are inherently "logical." They are based, as you say, on the culture in which we are raised.

For moral relativists, canibalism is not a moral issue, but a matter of taste. (sorry...)

So. Are we left with culturally-based moral relativism then? Be carefull... Because;

1) Doesn't the culture of the Christian Fundamentalists "count?" If every culture's "way" has merrit, why doesn't theirs? Or is it only the people within the culture that are held "liable" to their moral code and the results thereof? Because, if so...

2) There are plenty of cultures that condemn all manner of folks within their own belief-system. If you were to go back through time and question the couple billion Roman Catholics who've ever lived, "Do you think there is a chance you'll end up in Hell?" don't you think some would answer, "Yes." ?

If that's the case, how is it that *they* don't get the "nice" benefits of your moral relativism, simply because they are "inside" the culture that heaped the dirty, bad, nasty hellish teachings on them? Why should the "Good Chinese Guy" get the plate of nirvanna, but the "Good Yet Really Feeling Guilty Because He Masturbated Alot 15th Century Spanish Catholic" go to Hell?

*******************************************

Short version of the logical-esque debate:

In a morally relativistic world, who decides what is actually moral and/or ethical?

*******************************************

( Posted by: andyhavens [Member] On: July 9, 2006 )

andyhavens
First, regarding my article, such can be debated in a logical manner (what follows from what etc.), but no one has yet attempted to do so up to this point.

Secondly, moral relativism is "a reality" of everyday life for two reasons:
..... Functional (psychological-perceptual) reality is humanly unavoidable. What we have been exposed to, in one way or another, is from where we must begin which will, in one way or another ultimately determine the outcome of our search for truth.
..... Absolute Truth (in the large philosophical sense/ Does God/Hell exist, etc.) is unattainable for in the process of searching for it, we necessarily (in terms of our own understanding) distort it.

Third, for such resasons then I must reject the "philosohical possibility" of Moral Absolutism. And yes, the question of where you draw the line concerning what is morally acceptable is a "slippery slope" problem, a true problem, but always gray and, likely never black and white, in which judgement (moral relativism) is always an unavoidable and certainly complicating factor.

REGARDING: "1) Doesn't the culture of the Christian Fundamentalists "count?" If every culture's "way" has merrit, why doesn't theirs? Or is it only the people within the culture that are held "liable" to their moral code and the results thereof? Because, if so..."

2) "There are plenty of cultures that condemn all manner of folks within their own belief-system. If you were to go back through time and question the couple billion Roman Catholics who've ever lived, "Do you think there is a chance you'll end up in Hell?" don't you think some would answer, "Yes." ?"


Every culture's conception of morality no doubt "counts," and has merit within the context of its own culture given their own cosmological assumptions which are no doubt debatable from the context of another culture. And yes each are (rightly or wrongly?) held accountable within that of their own culture, and sometimes even by other cultures if they happen to stray within the domain of "another culture" (i.e. the Nazis and that of the Nuremburg Trials or perhaps even the Bush-Cheney administration and that of The International Court of Justice at The Hague).

REGARDING: If that's the case, how is it that *they* don't get the "nice" benefits of your moral relativism, simply because they are "inside" the culture that heaped the dirty, bad, nasty hellish teachings on them? Why should the "Good Chinese Guy" get the plate of nirvanna, but the "Good Yet Really Feeling Guilty Because He Masturbated Alot 15th Century Spanish Catholic" go to Hell?

Given what we have been discussing "Eternal Problems".... questions of God, and Hell, since these are questions which deal with "Absolute Truth," something we can talk about but can never know "for sure" about..... the question of benefits (positive outcomes/Heaven) and punishment (negative outcomes/Hell) will simply remain an issue of contention, something that cannot, and will never be resolved in a manner in which all can agree, because there is simply no way for determining who or who does not have "in hand" the facts of The Absolute Truth of God.

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 10, 2006 )

Doug... you've disproven your origianl thesis
First of all, I have been attempting to debate you logically. To say that "no one has attempted to do so up to this point" is a little frustrating to me. I'll stop down going down this path if you like, if you find it "illogical," but I'm doing my best to at leat "attempt" logic within the bounds of a subject that, as you say, is non-proveable.

In your original essay, you state:

"Now, given the foregoing presuppositions on which the Christian faith is based, allow me to illustrate, via a set of logical-deductive questions, the irrationality, and therefore the invalidity, of the Christian faith as understood by Christian fundamentalists."

You state outright that the fundamentalist view of Christianity is irrational and invalid. I take "invalid" as a synonym for "patently false."

In your last comment, though, you say:

"the question of benefits (positive outcomes/Heaven) and punishment (negative outcomes/Hell) will simply remain an issue of contention, something that cannot, and will never be resolved in a manner in which all can agree, because there is simply no way for determining who or who does not have "in hand" the facts of The Absolute Truth of God."

If there is "no way" to determine this, then the fundamentalists could be right, yes?

It's one or the other. Either;

1) Moral relativism; all views are morally/ethically valid -- in which case the fundamentalist view has the same level of acceptability as yours and others, in which case your questioning of it is, of course, your right... but doesn't make you "right." Or:

2) Moral absolutism. one view, somewhere, is "the right view." In which case the fundamentalists *could* be right, or wrong. In which case it is, in the course of discussion/debate, up to you to both supply reasoning for why their belief system is invalid, and (if you want to really hit a home run), provide an alternative (as WilliamHill suggested, lo those many comments ago).

You've argued FOR position one; moral relativism, which actually defeats your argument that "they are wrong," because, under moral relativism, they CAN'T BE. And I've already given you several reasons why your initial arguments for #2 don't stand up logically.

Here's the thing -- I don't really like Christian fundamentalism either. Especially in it's "Onward Christian Soldiers" garb. I saw a bumper sticker once that read, "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" and I think that about sums it up. God incarnate died rather than save himself, and told us to do the same. Christians who advocate anything less peaceful as a moral, theological stance are being somewhat... er... inconsistent, I think.

But you can't come at this argument the way you're doing it. It's a frontal assault on an edifice with a really, really high wall and a gate guarded by 2000 years worth of theology and sophistry and emotion. All you do with the above "logic" is convince the singers in your own choir.

The short answer, from the fundamentalist point of view to your whole dilemna is: tough crap. God is a jealous God. A harsh God. His love is not the namby-pamby, hippy-dippy, flower-child, peace-train crap you got high over in the 60's. That's a crock. His love is that of a stern father who spares not the rod for the sake of the child. It is the love that turns the dross to steel and winnows away the wheat from the chaff. His love takes the very, very long view. What is the life, the suffering the soul of one or a thousand or ten billion mortals to compare with the mind of the Lord and His immortal plans?

Do I believe that? Not in those words, no. I am more on your side, as I said in my 2nd message. But you can't fight dogma with catharsis. You need to frame the debate using something other than the arguments that haven't been working.

( Posted by: andyhavens [Member] On: July 11, 2006 )

andyhavens
GIVEN:
You state outright that the fundamentalist view of Christianity is irrational and invalid. I take "invalid" as a synonym for "patently false."

IN THE SENSE THAT THEIR BASIC PRPOSITIONS CONCERNING THE CHRISTIAN ARE LOGICALLY CONFLICTED (PLEASE RE-READ). ESSENTIALLY, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO ASSUME AT ONE AND THE SAME TIME THAT; GOD IS A LOVING GOD WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY ASSUMING THAT GOD WOULD CHOOSE TO PUNISH ETERNALLY 94% OF HIS CREATION IN THE EVERLASTING FIRES OF HELL.

NOW I SUPPOSE THAT GOD COULD (ACCORDING TO HUMAN STANDARDS OF LOGIC) BE ILLOGICAL. HOWEVER, IF THAT IS THE CASE THEN THIS ENTIRE DISCUSSION WOULD BE WORTHLESS IN THAT NOTHING WOULD MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL.


GIVEN:
In your last comment, though, you say:

"the question of benefits (positive outcomes/Heaven) and punishment (negative outcomes/Hell) will simply remain an issue of contention, something that cannot, and will never be resolved in a manner in which all can agree, because there is simply no way for determining who or who does not have "in hand" the facts of The Absolute Truth of God."

THIS IS NOT A MATTER OF LOGIC, BUT RATHER A PSYCHLOGICAL-PHILOSOPHICAL STATEMENT OF FACT. CONCERNING THE "ABSOLUTE TRUTH" IN REGARDS TO WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE AFTER THEY DIE (PROTESTANT HEAVEN/HELL, CATHOLIC PURGATORY/LIMBO, MORMON PRE-LIE/AFTER-LIFE, HINDU KARMA/REINCARNATION ETC.) AND HOW/WHY/ OR FOR WHAT REASONS PEOPLE END UP IN ANY OF THESE VARIOUS ETERNAL SITUATIONS. KNOW ONE HAS THE CAPACITY TO KNOW THE MIND OF GOD. SUCH A THING IS HUMANLY IMPOSSIBLE, OR EVEN IF SUCH WAS POSSIBLE, HOW WOULD PEOPLE GO ABOUT DECIDING WHICH VOICE IS THE ONE THAT IS TRUE VERSUS ALL THE OTHERES WHO ARE FALSE?

CONSEQUENTLY, I DO BELIEVE THAT MY CONCLUSIONS ARE LOGICAL.

GIVEN:
You've argued FOR position one; moral relativism, which actually defeats your argument that "they are wrong, because, under moral relativism, they CAN'T BE. "

NO, NOT THAT THEY ARE WRONG, NOT THAT WHAT THEY (THE FUNDAMENTALISTS) SAY IS UNTRUE (ONLY GOD CAN SAY SUCH A THING, THAT IS IF, IN FACT, GOD EXISTS)...... ONLY THAT THE FUNDAMENTALISTS ARE ILLOGICAL/THAT THEIR MAJOR PRESUPPOSITIONS ARE IN LOGICAL CONFLICT WITH ONE ANOTHER.


GIVEN:
But you can't come at this argument the way you're doing it. It's a frontal assault on an edifice with a really, really high wall and a gate guarded by 2000 years worth of theology and sophistry and emotion. All you do with the above "logic" is convince the singers in your own choir.

NO.......I HAVE EVERY RIGHT IN THE WORLD TO LOGICALLY QUESTION ANYTHING I CHOOSE. THE ONLY THING THAT I MUST BE SURE TO DO IS TO BE AS LOGICAL AS POSSIBLE IN THE THINGS I QUESTION. IF OTHERS (ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO DO NOT WISH TO LISTEN TO MY ARUMENTS) CHOOSE TO TURN A DEAF EAR, THAT IS THEIR PROBLEM.... NOY MINE. MY JOB IS TO DO WHAT I CAN AS WELL (AS LOGICALLY) AS I POSSIBLY CAN....... I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HOW OTHERS CHOOSE TO REPOND TO ME.

GIVEN:
"But you can't fight dogma with catharsis. You need to frame the debate using something other than the arguments that haven't been working."

SINCE IT IS NOT AT ALL POSSIBLE TO CALL GOD DOWN FROM THE HEAVENS IN ORDER FOR HIM TO DRCLARE WHO/WHAT IS OR IS NOT TRUE...... THE BEST THING LEFT IS FOR US AS HUMAN BEINGS TO UTILIZE SCIENCE AND THAT OF LOGICAL DISCUSSION! AS YOU SAY IT IS OF NO WORTH "TO FIGHT DOGMA WITH CATHARSIS." HOWEVER, WHAT ONE CAN DO IS TO QUESTION DOGMA VIA THE USE OF LOGICAL DEBATE.

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 11, 2006 )

Holy Frijoles!


Here's a thought from left field. Parenthood must have affected God profoundly, judging by the jealous wrathful Old Testament dude vs. New Testes lovey-dovey. Or maybe the Son was wiser than his Old Man.

I can't figure out how one can assume God is perfect yet his archangels led a revolution in heaven. He should have seen it coming, like the out-of-business palm reader.

s

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: July 11, 2006 )

drsoos
"Here's a thought from left field. Parenthood must have affected God profoundly, judging by the jealous wrathful Old Testament dude vs. New Testes lovey-dovey. Or maybe the Son was wiser than his Old Man. I can't figure out how one can assume God is perfect yet his archangels led a revolution in heaven."


VERY GOOD! VERY CLEVER, INDEED!


"He should have seen it coming, like the out-of-business palm reader."

Headlines read: MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY IN HEAVEN! PERFECTION IS OUT, FREEDOM TO CHOOSE IS IN!

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: July 11, 2006 )





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