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Sunday, January 05, 2014

Balaam Speaks

I had a discussion of religion over the holidays, and it was with a person who had many, many beliefs. They had an enormous belief system. It sort of reminded me of Howl's Moving Castle (2004 by Miyazaki; see below), tall, wide, clunky, creaky, leaking steam from the joints, dripping hydraulic fluid, and all kept together by fervently wishful thinking.

I told them about my lack of "belief systems".
I actually went further and critiqued the word "belief".
Of course, I was accused of making it all a matter of semantics, which was sort of a tautology, since we were, indeed, fencing not with dull wooden children's swords, but with the "meaning" of words; it was, indeed, all a matter of "meaning".

It was tedious. Since I do not drink alcohol, I have no idea why I was involved in this. It was the type of discussion one gets into at a bar when there are no good-looking dolls to flirt with.

Anyway, I ended it by saying that I was metaphorically Balaam.

My opponent looked at me oddly, and asked if I were admitting finally that I was a bad prophet of deviously evil advice (as they had already been sneakily thinking to themselves). 
They may not have heard the word "metaphorically", or they may have thought it was all semantics.

Nope, I said. There's another take on it. (I love the word "take" meaning "understanding" or "interpretation". I think the expression "hermeneutics" should be changed to "take speak" or something equally looney that is appropriate for the present age. I also like "on tap" heard so often on cable news, and meaning "scheduled to be presented". I like comparing world events to various beers.)

I resisted the urge to explain, something I could not have withstood 20 years ago.

Someday it will dawn on my friendly debate partner that I meant that I had been talking to an ass.



knutty knitter said...

More annoying are those peeps who go door to door dressed in fancy suits with little name tags and try to convert you when you are half way through dinner! (Usually well groomed Americans which tends to give a bad idea of that place to those of us who live elsewhere)

My high point was to quote the second half of what they said back at them and firmly close the door. This was a fluke as I'm not religious at all and am bad at remembering any sort of quote.

The spagetti monster must have been working in my favour that day.

viv in nz

Montag said...

Americans buttonhole you at the dinner hour, spouting scripture??!!

Hard to believe, really.

Our fellow Americans hardly ever bother us, telephoning for money at all hours, soliciting funds by mail, jibber-jabbering about their whimsical beliefs at the top of their voices.

Maybe they are Mormons. They tend to treat everyone else as needing missionary work like some nineteenth century notion of savage peoples.