Jesus said some good things

Chris Stedman is bizarrely indignant that some people disagree with him. Apparently if he writes an article for the Huffington Post, it’s somehow wrong and out of line to write a blog post that disputes it. Why would that be the case? What rule says that Chris Stedman’s articles on the Huffington Post are off-limits to disagreement? I thought it was pretty well known by now that if you write something that gets posted on the internet, there’s always a chance that someone will disagree with it.

Chris did three updates at Facebook to express this “you disagree with me! you really disagree with me!” outrage, along with a good few comments on same. The first, on my post, says

Hmm. Some of the comments on this… Well, I’m glad my “personality flaws” are diagnosable over the internet! Who needs therapy? Hey, at least I’m a master in jedi mind tricks? Okay, but seriously: I’d respond, but I’m about to give a talk at Carnegie Mellon. Perhaps some people who actually know me have some thoughts they’d like to share? Or, you know, perhaps this is best left alone. #dontfeedthetrolls

The second says

Um, woah. Came back from giving a speech / having dinner with the awesome folks at Carnegie Mellon Aha!: Atheists, Humanist, Agnostics to find myself at the center of SIGNIFICANT DISAGREEMENTS all over the atheist blogosphere.

The third (as I mentioned in a comment) says

Who knew that calling people to the ideals of love and compassionate action could ignite controversy?! Oh yeah, Jesus. Lulz. Oh internet, let’s move on to more important things now, shall we? (Like, you know, acting in love and compassion…)

That last is a funny question. “Who knew that calling people to the ideals of love and compassionate action could ignite controversy?!” Think about it.

Ok I’ll bite; I knew. I can explain why, too - one reason is the implied claim that the speaker is good and the recipient of the message is not; that the speaker is loving and compassionate and the recipient is something else. There are others: the suggestion to stop doing one thing and do another instead; the backround campaign of vilification of gnu atheists which makes this kind of positioning seem at least suspect; the fact that that kind of pious advice has more than a whiff of churchy missionary sanctimonious versions of “compassion” that not everyone admires; and so on.

Here’s a blunt statement to motivate Chris to make more outraged updates: not everybody wants “love and compassion” from strangers. As a matter of fact I think most people don’t want that. Love and compassion from strangers is intrusive and presumptuous; it’s too much; it’s not what’s needed or wanted. Chris probably knows that, actually, at some level – I don’t suppose he approaches people saying “I bring love and compassion!” But he doesn’t seem to know that talking about it in the way he does is too close to doing exactly that. There’s a vanity and self-display to it that is really not all that admirable. Check out Matthew 6:3 if you don’t believe me.

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