Discourse in the Garden of Eden

“An Apple” by deviantART user Nazegoreng

When I was a teenager, I heard a preacher whose name I’ve forgotten say that Eve fell prey to the Serpent because she tried to reason with him. The preacher’s point was that Eve shouldn’t have relied on foolish things like logical discourse, and should’ve shut the Serpent down the second he dared to debate God’s command at all. Silly women, trying to be all rational and stuff.

While I am still a Christian, I hope it goes without saying that this “check your brains at the door” approach to religion or any other aspect of life goes against everything I now believe. I believe it’s vital to apply critical thinking to everything, even things that come from the people we trust most. Even things we understand to come from God. I believe “Hath God really said…?” is a question theists should ask themselves daily in a sincere search for truth.

But I’ve been thinking back to this long-forgotten sermon a lot lately, and realizing there was a good seed buried beneath the piles of fertilizer. Eve would’ve done well to shut down the Serpent’s discourse from the start, just not for the reasons that preacher stated.

See, the “discourse” between the Serpent and Eve wasn’t really a discourse at all. It’s the tale of humanity’s first bad faith argument. The Serpent didn’t really approach Eve in a desire to verify what God said. His whole purpose in engaging her was to get into her head, get her to question whether she could trust her own sense of reality, and get her to do what he wanted. And it worked. Not because Eve was weak or foolish or amoral, but because she accepted a bad faith argument in good faith. She engaged the Serpent rationally, philosophically, treating his questions like a sincere search for truth when they were really a premeditated attempt to get her to accept a lie.

It gets more interesting when you consider how often Jesus was faced with the same situation, and how he responded to it. There are many times in the Gospels when religious leaders came to Jesus the same way the Serpent came to Eve. They presented a seemingly philosophical question deliberately designed to trick him into revealing himself as a blasphemer, traitor, or fraud. Jesus would respond by exposing them with a counter question, telling a story that he admitted he didn’t expect them to understand, or blatantly calling them out. In any case, Jesus never treated a bad faith argument like a good faith discourse. 

The moral I’m seeing here isn’t one of faith vs. skepticism. I don’t even see this as an issue that specifically applies to people of faith. What I’m seeing is that, if you have every reason to believe someone is only asking you questions to get into your head, gaslight you, trick you into betraying your own principles, or even just troll you for their twisted idea of what constitutes lulz, you are under no obligation to give them a rational answer as though they were asking for a sincere exchange of ideas.

Let’s try this weekly recap thing

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging as much these days. Or maybe you haven’t noticed because you’re one of the many people who doesn’t read blogs that much anymore. Which is no big deal. Internet culture changes fast, and it’s an internet creator’s job to keep up with it.

So that’s why most of my posts have been on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. lately. I’ll write up original content as a Facebook post and literally get ten times the views I would have if I’d written the same content as a blog post and shared the link on the same Facebook page. It makes sense to put my writing where the most people are going to see it.

But on the other hand, I don’t want people to stumble upon this website and find a bunch of tumbleweeds, so I’m trying something new. I want to do weekly recap blog posts where I link to my favorite things that I’ve shared on other platforms throughout the week. Might be original stuff, might be other people’s stuff that I’ve linked to. Here goes.

Oh Look, Someone Else Has Porphyria

I have a rare disease. Like, it’s been featured on House and I’m usually surprised to find that real-life doctors have heard of it. I’m even more surprised to find that someone on YouTube has come out with a porphyria-related vlog that’s informative, accessible, and entertaining. I really hope this vlogger is able to finish the series, and that his condition doesn’t get in the way of his work too much.

 

So, Yeah, Brexit Is A Thing

The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last weekend. President Obama addressed it by saying “One thing that will not change is the special relationship between the US and the UK.” To which I had this to say:

 

Do You Like Piña Colada (Wraps)?

I threw stuff in a pan and put it on flatbread and it was really good. I call it a piña colada wrap.

#AmethystForPrez – All About My Base

Last month, I formally declared that I am running for president in 2020. (I won’t be old enough to run in 2016, but hey, everyone else is announcing that they’re running in a year that is not this year.) In that announcement post, I said that my platform would be “platform shoes.” Now, obviously, I can’t run an entire campaign on platform shoes alone. I can’t run very far at all in platform shoes.

So, what is the full platform of the TROLL party, alias Thalia’s Representatives Of Liberty & Lulz? Like any politically savvy presidential candidate, I’ll tell you once I find out what our voter base wants.

What srs bsns do YOU want to see on my platform? Let me know here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in a YouTube comment!

poll results

Is “Princess” a Career?

Last week I blogged about my take on princess culture and why I don’t hate it. Apparently Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor saw my post and thought, “Hey, this sounds like a timely topic! I think I’ll go on national television and address the nation about it.” (A blogger can dream, right?)

Judge Sotomayor comes to Sesame Street to explain the word “career.” She describes “career” as “a job that you train for and prepare for and plan on doing for a long time.” Muppet child Abby Cadabby immediately says she wants a career as a princess. Judge Sotomayor gently breaks it to Abby that “pretending to be a princess is fun, but it is definitely not a career.” She tells Abby that real careers that a girl like Abby can train for in real life include “a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, and even a scientist.” In the end, Abby decides that when she grows up, she wants to follow Judge Sotomayor’s footsteps and earn a career as a judge.

So, what did a self-described lover of all things pink and purple and princessy think of this little PSA?

I loved it.

I loved the fact that Judge Sotomayor did affirm that pretending to be a princess is fun. It is fun (if you like that kind of thing), and it is just pretend. That’s why I don’t think it’s all that big of a deal for little girls to play princess any more than it is to play knights or dragons or zombies or space aliens or whatever. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not that hard for kids to learn the difference between make-believe and reality. You can encourage imaginative play and still make sure children understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

Which is and isn’t what Judge Sotomayor did on Sesame Street. How many little girls or little boys are really going to grow up to become Supreme Court justices? You can only have nine at any given time,  and one of them has to die or voluntarily resign for a spot to open up. So, in a way, Judge Sotomayor just replaced Abby’s completely unattainable fantasy with an almost completely unattainable fantasy.

And I love that.

A kid who’s capable of imagining herself as a fairy tale princess, something that’s not even real, is also a kid who’s capable of imagining herself as an engineer, a scientist, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, or a judge. Sure, her imaginings are probably as close to the real thing as her princess fantasies are to the life of The Lady Louise Windsor. But maybe as she grows up and she learns more things about the realities of those careers, she’ll keep the ability to imagine herself in them. The vision will change, but the power to believe it won’t.

When I was young enough for Sesame Street, I loved imagining I was a princess. And a dinosaur. And an alien. And a cowgirl. And a mermaid. And a fairy. And a Bedouin warrior. And a centaur. And an officer on the USS Enterprise. And Laura Ingalls Wilder. And Sacajawea. But most of all, I loved imagining that when I grew up, I’d be able to take all of my imaginings and show them to the world.

Hey, what do you know? Playing pretend did turn into a career.