dialogue about dialogue

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by bananabrain, Jun 7, 2007.

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  1. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    there's been a lot of discussion recently about who should be banned and why and whether the forum rules are fair or not, as well as yet another attempt from a self-proclaimed prophet to use CR to promote his "revelation", to go with the regular round of triumphalism, low-level prejudice, snide remarks, whinging and complaints to (and by) the moderators.

    now, personally, i'm not dismayed by any of this especially, particularly given that i am perfectly happy with CR's sometimes robust cut-and-thrust. though i say so myself, i think brian and the rest of us have created a really great community here where people aren't afraid to say what they think and most of the more controversial posters can eventually find a way to become productive long-term members.

    i guess what i would like to discuss is this: if we are here to engage in inter-religious dialogue and discussions about religion (my assumption) then firstly, is there a difference? secondly, how does that work? can there be red lines for the community or should we expect individuals to represent their own? do rules help? what is dialogue for? what is compatible with dialogue and what is incompatible? can there be productive dialogue between people where one or both think secretly (or not so secretly) that they are correct, or saved and that the other is going to hell, or is deluded, or whatever? can there be productive discussion when party A tells party B that s/he holds opinions about party B's beliefs that party B cannot accept?

    i'd really like to hear your opinions.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    I think that's a key point - dialogue - the ability to engage and reply to points made by others. It doesn't matter whether someone has a very entrenched position - the purpose of the forums isn't to change minds, simply engage them equitably.

    As to inter-religious discussion vs discussion about religion - I think there's a lot of grey area here. Many people have some degree of bias or interested slant, even when speaking outside of a particular faith, but discussion of religion allows these viewpoints to come together, consider, and maybe even come away learning something - not necessarily because someone made Point A, and Point A was true - but because point A stimulated someone else into reviewing their own opinions and beliefs on the subject.

    I used to belong to a very active Christian discussion forum, and though I may not have agreed to many of the points made, it helped me better explore not simply Christianity or attitudes to Christianity, but where those attitudes derived from and why, why in itself was often a learning experience.

    2c.
     
  3. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    Just a brief post before I rush off out of work into freedom.....

    I think rules are a MUST.... But, not to the point where you are restricted from having freedom of speech, as this is a beautiful thing, be it to promote bad or good.... It is your rite to have a say.... And you learn as you go on, and others learn from you also.... To tolerate, shows alot about a person/websites character.... Meh, that's all I got..... HOME TIME!
     
  4. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    This is especially evident among the Abrahamic religions. No so much with Judaism as with Christianity and Islam, since Judaism promotes a cautioned provision for the Noahdic peoples.

    There is a difference between belief and accusation. One can believe that if someone doesn't believe a certain way or have a certain relationship with God that they are in danger of Hell. But it is quite a different matter when there is a direct charge at someone (or some group) specifically. That sort of behavior is inexcusable. God is the One to judge anyway. Nor is it proper to directly prostylised one's particular beliefs onto people. You can say why YOU believe (and have the full understanding and expectation and tolerance to know that there will be those who disagree with you, hopefully amiacably so). But beyond this, you delve into an area in which this board is not intended. Hence the name Comparative Religion.

    As far as lone wolfers, I don't mind if they come here proclaiming themselves the Prophet to end all prophets. I don't even mind if they share their prophesies as long as they have the understanding that whatever they say will be scrutinized and they should expect that others will investigate their claims and state their opinions and/or provide evidence to the contrary. Th response of the OP would be to provide any counterclaims without direct attack to those who oppose their views. That is called dialogue.

    As I said before in several posts, coming here to the CR forum has changed many of my fundamentalist views. Actually, the reason for coming here is because I've already started to modify some of my beliefs (from the testamony of a 12 year old Muslim girl, no doubt). And in discussion with various people, I have gain a richer understanding of not only my own religious persuasion, but of that of other's affiliations, particularly in regard to Christianity's relationship to Judaism. In conversations with bb and dauer, primarily, there have been many misconceptions with Judaism that were previously biased in my mind that I no longer hold. In fact, it is in discovering Judaism that my understanding of Christianity has been enlightened, for in order to properly understand Christianity I'm convinced that one must understand the conditions surrounding 1st century Palestine and the undertones involved in relgious thought among the Jewish leaders and peoples at that time. And it has convinced me that the Jewish people are not as "lost" as I once surmised. :)
     
  5. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    i guess that this is one of the most important reasons i do this. it is a lot harder to hold unpleasant opinions about a group if you are actually familiar with them - most people, you see, aren't that bad! there are obviously exceptions to this rule, religions you like less once you find out more about them, but even with these you can separate between a religion and some arsebiscuit that happens to be a member of it. for me a lot of it is about keeping me on my toes, externally focused and preventing sloppy thinking, generalisations and stereotypes. it is a lot harder to engage in group labelling and demonisation when you are listening to a discussion around your own table, for example and hear something that makes you say "well, hang on, what about bananabrain, he's jewish and he says that's not right", or if i hear somebody going on about "oh, all those muslims, they want to kill us" and i say, "well, hang on, i don't think muslimwoman wants to kill anyone" - it is about expanding your personal experience in order to enable you to question that sort of thing.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  6. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    Exactly, bb.
     
  7. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Yep. I very much agree. It is why I joined CR in the first place. I needed a place to come to where I could speak (and listen) one-on-one with people everywhere who are in everyday life confronted by and often mistakenly identified with the religious-political views and turmoil of their respective locales and other sociological factors. (i.e., "she's a Christian from Bible Belt Texas, so she must blindly believe such-and-such and vote a certain way and belong to certain movements and thinks she's got all the answers, etc.) I came here not only to connect with others around the world, but to engage in meaningful dialogue and contribute to better understanding. I have learned so much here.

    I guess that is why I do get irritated when what I consider an open and tolerant "classroom" is extremely disrupted by the incessant ongoing unchecked rantings of any one particular contributor who continues ignoring the rules that I try to abide by. I know we all stretch them a little from time to time. But sometimes we do it inadvertently, sometimes we just get fed up, but most of the time it is because the rules here are not so rigid that we cannot participate as human beings with faults. I appreciate that.

    Just thought it was a good opportunity to say so.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  8. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    I know of other forums that are much, much less disorganized and allow rampants raving of just about anyone who pokes their head in. I also know forums that are so strict that if you stray one step too far to the left, you will get reprimanded. I find that CR provides a pleasant balance between the two.
     
  9. Prober

    Prober Give Us This Day...

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    What's discouraging is being attacked or disparaged in your own religion's forum by someone of another religion for offering your religion's opinion.
     
  10. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    Oh, yeah, there ought to be "house" rules concerning posting in each respective religion's forum. You should consider yourself a guest when you post in such forums if you are not of that religion's persuation and have the common courtesy that you would expect someone to have if they visited your forum. Your attitude should be to learn from people who are "at home" there, asking questions and making observations without making the residents there feel like they are being attacked.

    There are forums that are "open house" like the Belief and Spirituality and Comparative Studies, but even there, mutual respect should be exercised.
     
  11. ardenz

    ardenz New Member

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    I am only here a short time and have already learned a lot. Yes, I may at first have strayed into a forum and made some comments - I apologise if I offended anyone - having just left a forum which was called "atheism vs Christianity" - (it was/is quite volatile), I may have over reacted.

    Also, as someone who was brought up in a particular faith (Catholicism) and has had issues with it, which I am only now trying to reconcile, this may explain my attitude. I've done the therapy, now its time to not be so angry anymore. This is also part of the reason I am here - to put things in perspective - and learn to accept things as they are, people as they are, even if I disagree. Also I have my perspective to offer. I also realise that I am not an Atheist.

    I even like visiting churches and holy places, shrines, wells, etc....and like religious iconography and art from various cultures.

    Its also important to be light

    thanks
     
  12. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Yeah I've been to some forums that are just terrible free-for-alls. Generally anyone could come to the Judaism board for example and post missionary tracts or promote stereotypes. The muslim board got attacked a lot too there. And atheists were constantly at the Christian board ridiculing the religion and posting their own tracts. The language could get a bit foul too. Not my cup of tea. But if I left there wouldn't be any particularly engaged Jews there and the statements of missionaries and those who view Judaism based on stereotype would only be left unanswered. Luckily it's been pretty quiet lately and some of the dialogue has been more sincere.

    Dauer
     
  13. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Hi,

    My two penneth…

    I think one important reason, aside from the site’s rules and structure, for CR being a good place to be, is the number of regular posters at any one time. This might sound a bit clinical but isn’t meant to be. And it’s not to downplay any particular person’s contribution, just that the site seems to keep bubbling along with about the right number, with folk dropping in and out over time. If a site has too may posters, a victim of it’s own success, you can feel like you’re in the middle of an enormous city and find it difficult to establish contacts and dialogues (I knew I’d get to the OP eventually) or you post something and look next day and find it’s moved on six pages (better than nowt I suppose!). On the other hand, if there are too few, it’s like being stuck in a lift with just a couple of other folk; hard to keep it going…

    Of course it goes without saying what a great bunch of people there are on here, but I’d better mention it anyway!!

    From a “representation” point of view, I think it would be nice if there were more faiths and perspectives represented by active posters (e.g. Sikh, Hindu, humanist, whatever, etc) but who knows who’ll be signing up tomorrow…

    s.
     
  14. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    I always been of the opinion that you dont fix what aint broke. CR runs really well with a degree of mutual respect being observed that I have found unique to this forum alone. The punches still fly but very rarely do we see one below the belt.

    That said since I returned I have seen Niranjan and PaganProphet banned. I feel that Niranjan had much to contribute, I do believe he was a teenager...and hot-blooded. I feel responsibility for my part in his banning and that he had much to learn from the people of this forum on how to deport himself. However much I felt he deserved it at the time I played my part in poking at him and making his behaviour worse. Perhaps in cases like this where someone gets a bit hot-headed a time out option should exist. Niranjan needed friends here but never found any. I think this sad and makes me feel guilt.

    As for what Dondi calls the "lone wolves", let them howl at the moon. I think the intellects of the people here good enough to draw their own conclusions about anyone. I can see it could become a problem if they became prolific c&p'rs across mulitiple boards. So maybe they should be confined to a new "others" section in the New Religions board? An idea, a piece of wisdom can come from the most unlikely sources. And failing that we can all have a good laugh :)

    Personally I am not at all sure where I fit in here. Having no religion with a name. But not an atheist either. I make a concious effort to keep off the 'dedicated' boards where my views might offend. Though I read them often. This is the key... intent. Tolerance must be weighed against intent.

    The great diversity here as others have pointed out above is of great inspiration to me. Stereotypes are indeed shattered. Fountains of knowledge bubble everywhere. Anyone that appears to have no interest in genuine dialogue probably wont fit in here. Those that do find a warm welcome. I know I have.

    TE
     
  15. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Namaste BB; et al,

    err....great dialogue about dialogue!

    Let us not forget Silas and MagnetMan....now I know the issues and see the point...but another point and not to be to soupy...they need our love too. These are exactly the people that if kicked out here...with us tolerant, interfaith acceptable folks, where will they go and what will they do.

    Timothy McVey was the individual that set my mind into realizing that capitol punishment was unacceptable. I believe he was a wayward soul who didn't get the acceptance and love he needed when he reached out, and went the wrong way... And the above folks make it plain to me that I've got a lot of work to do in the dialogue department and that if not us, who...and where will they go...and what will they do?
     
  16. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant New Member

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    great post tao_equus and I totally agree
     
  17. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    Why was Niranjan banned by the way? Thought he had some good point of views he was just a bit rough round the edges. His posts were extreme but he countered opposing extreme thought the way it should. I say good on him, I don't think he's as nieve as you may think and I don't think he had a ounce of violent intent eiether.
     
  18. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    we have this - it's called "moderated mode". basically it requires posts made by the poster to be approved by a moderator before being posted. it's quite a lot of work, but i dare say we should use it more. perhaps it might be something we might consider if other posters are getting fed up with a possible troll and want to give him a "time out". but then again, we'd really have to use our judgement about who and when is calling for other people to be timed out. i suppose complaints about other posters is probably how.

    i think i'd respond, as brian has, by saying we're not running a kindergarten here. we expect people to accept the rules. if you don't like the rules, fine, you're free to go somewhere else. if you want to challenge the rules in a productive way, i'd say first build up some social capital. one of the problems with some of the keyboard warriors is that they post first and then think about what they've posted later, when what they really need to do is consider whether the rest of us really need to hear what they have to say. people tend to mellow over time, which is good, but i would suggest it might be better if they started off with humility and then started pushing the envelope once they had become established and well-liked members of the community. without that, we're not losing anything by banning them. silas, for example, was not so much personally liked, but did perform a very useful function imho because he was good at getting discussions going.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  19. ardenz

    ardenz New Member

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    I only arrived when there as PaganProphet was gathering momentum. He may have been someone who had some mental issues which were turning into a kind of psychosis with religious mania, or perhaps was someone who was just promoting himself and his ideas and was fully aware of what he was doing.

    Obviously he had been here before, as We've been told.

    What this brings up, as Wil, in the above post mentions, is what going on in this persons mind? can we help? writing off someone as on the lunatic fringe discounts what they may actually be going through.

    Perhaps we can have a mental health section, psychology, links to other sites. Maybe a notice board section to point to if we see someone coming in like that so that we don't just react.

    Is there a relationship between Religious mania and madness? (idea for a topic)

    thanks,

    Ardenza
     
  20. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    Unnecessary. Let's not turn this into a mental clinic. Look, this is a discussion site. I don't think we ought to get into the social service business. If you want to help out and try to reach a person personally, then do so in PMs. We can direct a persons misunderstanding of scripture or suggest alternate ways of interpretation, but we are reaching another realm if we turn this forum into a therapy workshop. For one thing, we are not qualified. Just MHO.
     
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