So, to be honest with everyone, I’ve been a little frustrated by Anonymous’ comments. Fortunately I had a great IM conversation with somebody of similar political views. It taught me that there really is the possiblity of dialogue between two people of differing views.
The text below is our conversation on IM (edited a little for clarity). It’s not over, but sort of gives some idea of where he was coming from and me having the opportunity to probe a little bit to gain some understanding.
I’ll post my thoughts or reactions later, hopefully in another conversation, but maybe just another blog post. Enjoy.
[Initial comments are addressing cabc29’s buddy icon “Give War a Chance”]
cabc29: to survive
bfine107: why do you want to survive?
bfine107: and how?
cabc29: why? that ought to be self evident
bfine107: not as a christian I don’t think it is
bfine107: I mean people want to survive for lots of reasons
cabc29: I’m sure they do
bfine107: that’s why I asked
cabc29: well, virture requires that you be alive
cabc29: wouldn’t you say
cabc29: honestly, I’d prefer not to
cabc29: the message
cabc29: “give war a chance”
cabc29: isn’t really, in my mind, pro war
cabc29: as if war is a good thing
cabc29: it’s in a specific context
cabc29: our context
cabc29: it’s meant to move the framework of debate in a direction
cabc29: it doesn’t provide an ideal
bfine107: I see
cabc29: you want an ideal, but that’s not what I’m trying to get at with “give war a chance”
bfine107: Oh, I’m not going for an ideal
bfine107: just trying to see what makes you tick
bfine107: why you want to survive
bfine107: that’s all
cabc29: I’m a Straussian
cabc29: that ought to give you a clue
bfine107: If only I knew what that meant
bfine107: you’ll have to dumb things down for me a bit
cabc29: one word: google
bfine107: I’ll give it a shot
bfine107: Sorry, I was just curious
bfine107: I started blogging recently
cabc29: no, it’s fine that you asked
cabc29: oh did you?
bfine107: and I got this anonymous responder
cabc29: that can be so annoying
bfine107: who is just tearing everything I say to shreds
cabc29: don’t let it get to you
cabc29: or at least try not to
bfine107: anyways, I feel the person is intellectually kind of coming from some of the same political points as you
bfine107: and so I was curious what you thought
bfine107: I’m sure he is right on a lot of this stuff.
bfine107: It’d just be great to get him dialoging instead of ripping on what I write
bfine107: (or she, if it’s a she)
cabc29: one time I asked some guy who did basically the same thing to actually engage in a dialog
cabc29: he declined
bfine107: I’m really interested in learning from folks who know a ton about politics
cabc29: it’s much easier to just stop by and tear down
bfine107: well, I’ll try to go with it a little more
bfine107: but I’ll probably take your advice
bfine107: and block him eventually
cabc29: I guess the reason I blocked PK, whoever that was, is because even when I would try to discuss things with him in the comments section
cabc29: he wouldn’t ever be impacted by anything I said
cabc29: it was like talking to a wall
bfine107: Mindy doesn’t like IM and forums for that reason
bfine107: when we aren’t eye to eye with people we tend to be a little (or a lot) more cruel
bfine107: we can just rant when we want and leave other things unfinished
cabc29: I don’t even care that much about insults
bfine107: yeah, I hear you
cabc29: if you can’t actually engage in dialog, and instead just rant and assert and ad hominem
cabc29: what’s the point of allowing that on your blog?
bfine107: yeah that’s true
bfine107: I guess the reason I’m leaving it for now
bfine107: is because others who come and read the post and comments can judge for themselves
cabc29: it seems like the commenter is responding with actual content, but also with a snide tone
bfine107: Maybe a third party can show me my wrong ways politely and also point out where I’m on the right track.
cabc29: you really should read Machiavelli
bfine107: read the prince once
bfine107: for Political Philosophy
cabc29: as did I
cabc29: but I’ve read it again since then, and commentary about it
cabc29: but go on
bfine107: hard reading, and i didn’t have enough time to digest
bfine107: would that be your recommendation?
bfine107: or another writing by him?
cabc29: yeah the prince is what you should read of course
cabc29: the reason is just
cabc29: you may be caught up with a desire to use certain means, but those aren’t going to accomplish the ends you want
cabc29: which could be illustrated by the prince
cabc29: I digress
bfine107: No it’s a good point
cabc29: like do you want anonymous to stop posting? it’s going to take a, and b, and so on
bfine107: I feel you
bfine107: like I’m caught up with pacifism
bfine107: but the prince might show
bfine107: that pacifism won’t accomplish world peace the way I think it might
bfine107: that war is necessary to accomplish that end
bfine107: or something else
cabc29: or just a reality check–like hello, the entire world order is predicated upon the threat of violence
bfine107: yeah for sure
bfine107: You ever read The Powers That Be?
bfine107: by Walter Wink
bfine107: interesting book
bfine107: nothing along the lines of the prince or other political stuff
bfine107: more just talking about power struggles
bfine107: and what Jesus said related to that
bfine107: and some of his thoughts on how we might live in light of the words of Jesus
bfine107: Maybe this is too much for this conversation,
bfine107: but I would love to hear someday
bfine107: how your faith plays into your political system
bfine107: and what your thoughts are on some of the things Jesus says
bfine107: Maybe another time
bfine107: or I’d be thrilled to read anything you’ve written previously on that or other things
cabc29: I honestly don’t think the Bible is all that specific on government
bfine107: I’m not so much talking about government
bfine107: But you personally
bfine107: and thus how you shape your politics
cabc29: well obviously a Christian must rely on the Bible as his guide for living, correct?
bfine107: I tend to think so
cabc29: well then, if a Christian is to think about politics, he might look to the Bible to see what it has to say
cabc29: and, in my opinion, it says quite little
bfine107: about government
bfine107: so that means it’s free game?
bfine107: anything goes?
cabc29: well no
cabc29: it’s just that it’s not so simple as saying, well, jesus said take care of the poor, so let’s use the government!
bfine107: OH, I absolutely agree
bfine107: I think we should take action ourselves
bfine107: apart from the government
bfine107: but shouldn’t our society reflect the value of it’s citizens?
bfine107: I use bestwebbuys all the time!
bfine107: sorry, random, (I’m looking for it at the library though)
cabc29: btw wheaton prof pj hill is on the back of that book with a reccomendation
bfine107: cool, I’m a fan of PJ
cabc29: whatever the State does, it does with the implicit threat of violence
cabc29: if you don’t pay your taxes, men with guns physically force you to sit in a cage
cabc29: so how exactly is it moral for the state to take one person’s money, under that threat of violence, and give it to a poor person?
cabc29: it seems to me that virtue ought to be voluntary or it isn’t virtue
cabc29: but then again
bfine107: that makes sense
cabc29: there are a host of factors that make “voluntary” actions less than purely volunatary
cabc29: I like to think of it as a scale
cabc29: with absolute coercion at one end
cabc29: purely voluntary (whatever that means) at the other
cabc29: I don’t think purely voluntary can even be reached
cabc29: I guess what I’m trying to say, is that, like you, I struggle with the morality of various means, such that using the government for things isn’t a very viable solution in my eyes
cabc29: and so
cabc29: when Christians like Jim Wallis invoke the name of Jesus so that they can use the State to “help the poor” I get kind of cynical
cabc29: and start reading Machiavelli instead
cabc29: if that makes sens
bfine107: so your thought is, the government’s
bfine107: role is more or less to
cabc29: I can’t tell you exactly where I stand
bfine107: sorry, I don’t want to put words in your mouth
cabc29: but I find the State to be highly problematic
cabc29: and I’d like to see it’s role greatly reduced
bfine107: basically you think using the state to care out virtue isn’t appropriate
cabc29: kind of
bfine107: The reduction being
bfine107: it’s main role it to protect?
bfine107: like, I think you support having military troops
cabc29: but then when it comes to things like the war on terror….
cabc29: the thing about war and defense is this
cabc29: you and I can’t pay for different levels of national defense
cabc29: it doesn’t really get solved by the market
cabc29: what to do?
cabc29: if we don’t defend the homeland, we’re all going to die
TO BE CONTINUED…