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April 15, 2011

Who am I to blow against the wind?
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 07:39 PM *

All lies and jest,
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest.

It’s often tempting, when so many people are wrong on the internet, to think that no one listens to counter-arguments or contrary views. Everyone seems to be trapped in epistemic closure, clinging to their tribal beliefs.

But then, despair often is tempting. And yet people do read and learn from posts they disagree with. Words do change minds. For instance, Louis Marinelli, who created and moderated a number of web properties for the National Organization for Marriage* and drove the bus in their 2010 “Summer for Marriage” tour, resigned from the organization this spring. Why?

Cathy, I’m lost, I said, though I knew she was sleeping.
I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike,
And they’ve all come to look for America.

It turns out that dealing with gay and lesbian protesters on the tour and corresponding with marriage equality advocates online made him see them as real people. Then looking at the tone of the NOM pages, which he describes as “hateful”, and doing a bit more thinking about the difference between civil and religious definitions of marriage finished his transformation from opponent to supporter. He has since issued a comprehensive apology and retraction, and now supports full civil marriage equality.

Nice to see. And good to find someone with the guts to apologize online. Lots of people on many sides of many issues could use to learn that one.

He looks around, around—
He sees angels in the architecture,
Spinning in infinity,
He says, Amen! and Hallelujah!

I was wondering what writing, precisely, persuaded Marinelli. I read the blog entry that turned his views around, expecting it to be pretty amazing. But it’s not. I mean, it’s clear and well set-out, but it doesn’t say anything that marriage equality advocates haven’t been saying for ages. The difference was that someone was ready to hear it.

He’s a one trick pony
He either fails or he succeeds
He gives his testimony
Then he relaxes in the weeds.

We never know, when we write online, who in our audience is at one of those tipping points. Nine out of ten passionate posts on important topics, or ninety-nine out of a hundred, might as well be writ on water. But all it takes is once; one time pays for all.

I’ve reason to believe
We all will be received in Graceland.

* See, Jim, there is a place for Wikipedia links.

Comments on Who am I to blow against the wind?:
#1 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 08:59 PM:

This is so encouraging. So often I feel as if I'm preaching to the converted (on Making Light) or crying in the wilderness (most other places).

#2 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 09:14 PM:

What is the point of this story? What information pertains?

The thought that life could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts...

...and our brains.

#3 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 09:16 PM:

Niall: you missed it. Read it again.

#4 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 09:26 PM:

I hope this will be true for my parents; that having seen that my daughter is the same beautiful person they knew before she came out, that they will be able to move from discomfort past avoidance to total acceptance and even advocacy.

#5 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 09:31 PM:

abi @0: ninety-nine out of a hundred, might as well be writ on water. But all it takes is once; one time pays for all.

Well, now, I don't know about that ninety-nine. I think that's necessary too. That prepares the ground. That last straw isn't a special, extra-heavy straw. It would have no effect, without the rest of the bale that went before it.

#6 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 09:36 PM:

A man walks down the street. It's a street in a strange world. Maybe it's the Third World. Maybe it's his first time around.

He doesn't speak the language. He holds no currency. He is a foreign man. He is surrounded by the sound, the sound of cattle in the marketplace, of scatterlings and orphanages.

He looks around, around: he sees angels in the architecture spinning in infinity. He says Amen and Hallelujah!

#7 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 09:45 PM:

Xopher @ 3: I'm just guessing, because I don't actually recognize either text, but I think Niall is running with the "quoting Paul Simon" thing.

#8 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 10:46 PM:

*forehead smack*

Sorry, Niall.

#9 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 10:47 PM:

Tim @ 7: Correct. A Google search on "what information pertains" leads you to lyrics from "Train in the Distance" by our man Paul Simon.

Continuing in Niall's estimable tradition:

just slip out the back, Jack
make a new plan, Stan
don't need to be coy, Roy
just get yourself free
hop on the bus, Gus
don't need to discuss much
just drop off the key, Lee
and get yourself free....


#10 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 10:51 PM:

Totally coincidentally, yesterday I scored the Paul Simon bio at Border's for 80% off. They're getting stuck with a lot of the S**** P**** book.

Are there no copy-editors at Wiley?

#11 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 10:58 PM:

The rage of love turns inward
To prayers of devotion.
And these prayers are the constant road across the wilderness,
These prayers are, these prayers are the memory of God,
The memory of God.

. . .

. . . for the mother's restless son
Who is witness to, who is a warrior,
Who denies his urge to break and run.
Who says "Hard times? I'm used to them.
The speeding planet burns, I'm used to that.
My life's so common it disappears,
And sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears."

#12 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 11:11 PM:

I prefer boysenberry more than any ordinary jam.

#13 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 11:23 PM:

When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school,
It's a wonder
I can think at all.

#14 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 11:34 PM:

Is anyone else listening to his new album?

#15 ::: Merav ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 12:08 AM:

On that theme, by the same author.

Reach in the darkness
A reach in the dark
To overcome an obstacle or an enemy

#16 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 12:24 AM:

This is the age of miracles and wonders.

#17 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 12:46 AM:

Rainflame @ 16

And don't cry, baby
Don't cry, don't cry....

#18 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 12:51 AM:


#19 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 01:03 AM:

Graceland is one of the albums I grew up with, like my mom's Beatles albums.

And I see that Rainflame@14 has beaten me to the line from that album most appropriate to the news that an American religious conservative has actually changed his mind, publicly. Age of miracles and wonder indeed.

Of course, he still has some convoluted mumbo-jumbo about some difference between civil marriage and church-blesséd marriage, but it's a definite, positive first step towards rationality.

My favourite reply over on the ex-omNOMnomer's post has to be the matter of fact, "So do you want a cookie or something?"

#20 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 01:16 AM:

There was a vaguely similar sort of thing, though in a different medium, a few years back; the Boston Globe had an article about a bunch of anti-abortion activists got together with a bunch of pro-choice activists.

The world didn't go into fireworks, but they had dialogue, and friendship. And (I heard later, though can't confirm) that one of the anti-abortion activists later dropped out of activism.

Communication. It ain't just for breakfast.

#21 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 01:22 AM:

...and Rhthym of the Saints has just thrown up a highly appropriate Simon lyric,

"I can't run, but I can walk much faster than this..."

Louis Marinelli has at least started to walk in the right direction. Too bad he ran so far the other way first. (or possibly drove a bus there...)

#22 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 01:25 AM:

Werelizard: He deserves more than cookie. He could have just changed his mind and stopped fighting against same sex marrraige: Dayenu.

He didn't. He said, in public; because he had been acting against it, in public, that he had changed his mind, because he had realised he was wrong.

That is the courage of his convictions. abi started with a Simon and Garfunkel song which I really identify with, for the last verse:

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev'ry glove that layed him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
"I am leaving, I am leaving"

That's what happened to Louis Marinelli. To his credit, and the country's benefit, "the fighter still remains."

#23 ::: Doug Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 01:37 AM:

One of the characters in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, Mr Dappa, fights slavery by collecting and publishing stories of slaves. He seeks the one perfect story which will persuade everyone of his cause, but cannot find it.

The System Of The World, p. 289 - 295 (William Heinemann trade paperback) contains part of the story, but it's spread through most of the trilogy.

#24 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 01:50 AM:

Wirelizard, #19: I don't care whether he still thinks there's a religious difference between a church and a civil marriage; I'm not interested in forcing churches to marry gay couples. What matters is that there is no legal difference between the two. I'll be perfectly happy when my gay friends can walk into the JP's office and come out married, just as my partner and I could.

It was good for Marinelli
To get up there on the telly
And proclaim he's now an ally*,
And that's good enough for me!

* Yeah, you try finding a third perfect rhyme that fits the context!

#25 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 01:52 AM:

Unfortunately, they did take my Kodachrome away from me.

#26 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 01:53 AM:

abi: To bring it back to the conversation about Zen in "Spoilers", anything can be the moment which causes enlightenment.

It's uplifting that he's still chopping wood, and carrying water.

#27 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 01:56 AM:

Dave Bell: yes, they did. We can fake it these days, but they don't make it.

#28 ::: MichaelC ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 02:16 AM:

Janetl @14: Yes, I am. Well, not at this very second, but I got it the day it came out and have listened to it several times. I like it.

#29 ::: Kathryn Allen ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 03:09 AM:

Can't believe there's no quote from this one yet...

"The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence"

I think I better admire the man who can change his opinion because he has listened to the views of others, and says so though it will cost him dearly -- than one who follows the herd because it is safer to do so, is self-righteous in opinions he can't promote without resorting to bullying and abuse, and who forsakes mercy and compassion because he gains personal pleasure from crushing into the dust any he views as an enemy of the cause.

#30 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 04:53 AM:

The quote I wanted to use but couldn't fit in:

Work 'em out.

Wirelizard @19:
Of course, he still has some convoluted mumbo-jumbo about some difference between civil marriage and church-blesséd marriage, but it's a definite, positive first step towards rationality.

I see it as the seed of his next aha: the value of real separation between church and state.

I don't think the guy wants a cookie, by the way. He said he was sorry loudly because he was sorry about loud things he'd done. He doesn't seem to be hanging around looking for everyone to praise him. For instance, he didn't turn up in the comment thread of the apology post (that I could see—I didn't read the whole thing). And he's not wallowing in it on his blog, either.

Instead, he's just going on with his political-blogging life, being wrong about some things and right about others.

#31 ::: Omega ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 06:41 AM:

I've now got The Boxer as an earworm dammit. Time to get out the Alice Cooper.

#32 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 11:19 AM:

Omega @ #31

Presumably that's rather louder than a Mini Cooper and therefore good for driving away earworms?

...actually, I think I'll go and have a listen to that popular beat combo: Mr Vincent Furnier and his Orchestra.

I may be some time.

#33 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 11:33 AM:

Terry Karney @ 22: "Dayenu" - Seder on the brain?

#34 ::: adelheid_p ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 11:45 AM:

Slow down, you move to fast!
You've got to make the MORNING last!
Just kickin' down the cobblestones
lookin' for fun and
Feelin' groovy!

#35 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 11:45 AM:

I was impressed and surprised by Marinelli's deconversion. It takes a great deal to see people whose lives you have been dedicated to destroying as human.

I am reminded of the case of Milton Kleim who was a neo-Nazi activist on Usenet, and who came to repudiate his racism.

#36 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 12:02 PM:

I was always partial to:

Elvis is a watermelon

#37 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 12:32 PM:

Xopher (1): So often I feel as if I'm preaching to the converted (on Making Light)

Some years ago, it was your posts here on Making Light that made me realize why civil unions are not enough and converted me to whole-hearted support of gay marriage. So your efforts are not wasted.
I'm still stuck on "all lies and jest". I always heard that line as "all lies in jest", with 'lies' as a verb, not a noun.

#38 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 01:10 PM:

dcb: It's the time of year for it, but no. The idea of "dayenu" is with me all the year.

Mary Aileen: I hear it that way too, sort of, but the verb is "jest", so that the mumbles such are promises are papered over with the idea of jokes/hidden in jokes.

#39 ::: joel hanes ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 02:27 PM:

I've been Ayn Rand-ed, nearly branded
Communist, 'cause I'm left-haneded
"That's the hand they use .."

oh, never mind

#40 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 02:32 PM:

Terry Karney (38): I can't make 'jest' be a verb, although I can see it as an adjective(?) modifying 'lies'.

I'm probably just totally misunderstanding you.

#41 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 02:38 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 40: I can't make 'jest' be a verb

Surely you jest.

#42 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 02:55 PM:

Well, good news that rational persuasion still works. I hope we get out of the High Drama stage of gay politics real soon, and to a place where nobody cares anymore who's marrying whom.

In a couple of days they come and take me away
But the press let the story leak
And when the radical priest
Come to get me released
We was all on the cover of Newsweek
And I'm on my way
I don't know where I'm going
I'm on my way

#43 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 03:36 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 40: I can't make 'jest' be a verb

Try jest a little bit harder.

#44 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 03:56 PM:

Tim (41)/John (43): So you're sug-jesting that I don't know 'jest' can be a verb in other contexts? :)

(My humor parser sometimes sticks on 'literal'. Sorry.)

#45 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 04:05 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 40

No, I had a similar reaction. I mean, yes, "jest" can be a verb, but in that sentence, I'm not sure the verb isn't actually the implied "are" between "lies" and "in."

I jest wasn't going to say anything, because I try to avoid being unhelpfully pedantic.

#46 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 04:08 PM:

Bruce #42:

I expect there will be long-term resistance to it, though I also think we'll see it become legally accepted in most or all of the country in the next 10-20 years. Racism has stuck around, despite the fact that all the widely-held belief systems in the US tend to oppose it. (I mean, people tried, but it's quite hard to find anything in the New Testament to support treating people badly for being black. Cf discussions about Samaritans and who your neighbor is.)

By contrast, a lot more of the core teachings of Christianity (and Judaism, I think) include some pretty specific prohibitions of homosexuality. Not every church reads things that way, but many do, and they're not likely to shift their teachings because the laws change. (Nor, in general, should a church change its moral teachings based on political consensus or polling numbers, though in this case, I'm not thrilled with the likely results.)

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 04:31 PM:

albatross @46:

But the prohibitions against divorce are more explicitly and more authoritatively stated than those against gays. Paul talked about homosexuality, but Jesus preached on divorce.

And yet American Christians have learned to live with it. Even quite conservative ones.

#48 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 05:07 PM:

#13 : Avram
"When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school,
It's a wonder
I can think at all."

In retrospect (hey, I didn't like highschool -- I was an adolescent then, okay?) I was incredibly fortunate in attending Herbert Hoover High School, in Glendale, CA, during the mid-'40s (when, e.g., Glendale had two Black families, grandfathered-in, and a Sunset Law... with the police politely offering a ride to the nice (albeit Bible-reading) lady next to me on the streetcar-bench to the next-town stop so she'd be there before they would have been required to arrest her).

But my highschool teachers were quite strong on "Ask questions, and carefully scrutinize the answers". That hasn't made my later life easy, but I'm sure it has made it better.

#49 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 05:17 PM:

abi @ 47: Except for the American Christians who haven't and are working to make it much more difficult, as a first step in doing away with it altogether. Bills are appearing, with other anti-women measures, in a number of states.

#50 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 05:22 PM:

Re "all lies and jest", I'm with abi -- and so is every song-lyrics site on the first page of a Google search, although one of them does say "jests" instead, which might be more grammatically correct but isn't the way I hear the line. The Wikipedia article on the song mentions a "missing verse" which was never recorded until one of their later tours; I think I'm going to have to get that version, because it adds another layer of interest.

abi, #47: It occurred to me recently that pointing out that Jesus didn't have anything to say against homosexuality, and that he did say that his teaching was intended to supersede Mosaic law, might be a useful push-back. As in, "It's in the Old Testament, and it's in Paul, but Jesus didn't say anything against it; you're a Christian, aren't you supposed to be paying attention to what Jesus taught?"

#51 ::: RJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 05:32 PM:

Thanks for the post and backlink. You're right: When I wrote the post to Louis Marinelli, I was writing only a response to the items he listed (and since apologized for and recanted). There is nothing special about my post to him.

Instead, it's just a run of the mill "Please please please leave us alone" thread that is worn too thin in the last decade or so.

Still, I'll keep writing what I do. There's no reason to stop even though it has all been said before. There's not really anything astounding for us to say in this debate - the request is too simple to allow for massively inspiring content.


#52 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 05:32 PM:

Lee @50, the version on the recording of the Concert in Central Park has the additional verse, so it's readily available.

#53 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 05:44 PM:

Lee (50): I'm sure abi is quoting "all lies and jest" correctly, I was just surprised that I've been hearing it wrong all these years.

#54 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 05:49 PM:

Omega: I've now got The Boxer as an earworm dammit. Time to get out the Alice Cooper.

I tend to use "Chuck Berry's Golden Decade" myself. Only time it didn't work Teresa was able to suggest singing "Excelsior" to the Underdog theme, which took care of the problem.

#55 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 06:00 PM:

RJ @51:

Thanks for coming by. Welcome to Making Light; feel free to poke around and make yourself at home.

By the way, I really don't want you to think, from what I said, that I didn't like your post. I did. My point was simply that it was not magic. It was achievably good, manageably persuasive. It was the sort of thing that many people can say. I hope the people from this community, like Xopher, keep saying it.

Perseverance matters. Patience matters.

(Since you probably have no idea where I'm coming from on this issue: I'm straight, but I care very much about marriage equality. I think the community of the married would be immeasurably enriched by the inclusion of same-sex couples. And I have a number of LGBT friends and relatives who would like to get married one day, an ambition I support them in. So you can count me as an ally.)

#56 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 06:09 PM:

albatross @ 46: In Judaism, Leviticus forbids "man lying with man as if with woman" twice, if I recall correctly. Alongside lots of other things, such as adultery, and self-mutilation (such as tattooing), and mixing wool and linen in the same garment. Adultery of course is one of the big no-nos (10 Commandments, alongside murder) so might be thought to be more important - but many of the people so against homosexuality (which harms nobody) have affairs (which commonly harms one to several people)...

In the New Testament, again IIRC, Jesus never mentions homosexuality; it's all Paul's words. I have been known to muse that Christianity would be better off if Jesus' teachings were followed more, and Paul's less.

#57 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 06:41 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 44: I failed my saving throw against "straight line," is all.

WRT the original issue, I have a strong (if forty-year-old) recollection that my dad's copy of BOTW had a lyric sheet, which would be almost dispositive (strangely enough, sometimes lyric sheets are created by having some intern transcribe the record, rather than by consulting an ur-text).

I do requests/just the ones that have three chords in/and I disregard the rest (Fred Wedlock, "The Folker," from an almost equally old memory, and tying into the open thread)

#58 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 07:18 PM:

I've long had a sneaking suspicion that Paul was trying to destroy Christianity, not save it; that the revelation that struck him down on the road to Damascus was that he could undermine Jesus' teachings most effectively from within the Christian community.

The evidence that suggests this basically amounts to this: Jesus was looking for a radical overthrow of society as it then was, and Paul turned right around and supported it. "Slaves, stay with your masters" is only the tip of that iceberg.

#59 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 07:24 PM:

Tim @ #57, I still have my vinyl BOTW (along with all the other S&G albums -- I also have the entire boxed set of their Collected Works on both cassette and CD. I am perversely glad the music industry kept up with the new platforms, since the turntable I originally played the vinyl on died long ago). My copy has no separate lyric sheet as such. The lyrics are printed on the back of the album cover.

#60 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 09:36 PM:

Wirelizard @19: Graceland is one of the albums I grew up with, like my mom's Beatles albums.

I want to say, I grow old, I grow old/ I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled, but Paul Simon is here to remind me that We're not old; God is old.

(And Don Fitch @48, remembering a Sunset Law, makes me feel thankful to be young.)

#61 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 10:10 PM:

Linkmeister @ 59: So... what's the official line on the line?

I just bought a turntable from a coworker (I still have about 1500 LPs), but I haven't got around to fixing the left channel (I'm pretty sure it just needs a bit of soldering).

#62 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 10:19 PM:

Or that joining them was a much easier way to have a good living than was persecuting them.
I try to be mindful of the fact that Paul was a Romanized Jew (and a Roman citizen - was that so common in that area?), and thus more likely to be a status-quo patriarchal something-or-other.

#63 ::: The AstroDyke ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 10:30 PM:

One fewer person telling gay kids they're evil.

Never been lonely/ never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear/ nothing denied to
Born at the instant/ the churchbells chime
Whole world whispering: you're born at the right time.

#64 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 11:07 PM:

Graceland is the only album that I've bought on tape, cd, and lp. (in that order, strangely enough)

#65 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 01:31 AM:

Abi--Can I just say that I found myself in the middle of a debate on Facebook (not on this subject but on another one just as vexed and hot-buttony) and reading this post gave me resolve to keep my own tone civil and reasonable, and to insist that those around me do so? I don't think any hearts and minds were changed, but nor was anyone forced back into the shelter of their own prejudices.

#66 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 01:46 AM:

Tim @ #61, Ha. Forgot the question altogether.

It's "all lies AND jest" on the lyrics printed on the cover, which I think makes "jest" a noun for Simon's purposes.

#67 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 01:46 AM:

RJ, #51: I just went and read all of your post, and I'd like to pull out one thing you say which I think has much wider applicability:

I want to see the complete abandon of the word "bullying" for the appropriate words "harassment" and "assault".

You said this in the context of LGBT teens being tormented by their peers. But that sort of treatment isn't limited to gay students, nor indeed to students in general. And it's obvious that, as a society, the behaviors we classify as "bullying" are by and large given a free pass. Whether it's "kids will be kids" or "just ignore him, everybody knows he's an asshole," we fail to label harassment and assault for what they are, and we fail (by and large) to discourage or punish them. Perhaps one step toward getting past that attitude is to reframe such behavior away from the get-out-of-jail-free card called "bullying".

#68 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 01:52 AM:

The only other version I've heard of "The Boxer" is by Emmylou Harris. It's on Roses in the Snow.

She slurs it just like Simon does in the original: "all lies n' jest" is the closest I can come.

#69 ::: eyelessgame ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 02:39 AM:

Wow, all this and no mention of this song...

Many's the time I've been mistaken
And many times confused...

#70 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 02:45 AM:

It's actually "all Heisenjest", a reference to the quantum joke that may or may not be funny depending on how it's observed. That's why "a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest."

#71 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 04:45 AM:

Xopher: re Paul, we disagree. May I commend "Paul among the people" to you?

My thinking on Paul has changed a lot over the years, and I think it possible he is the most misunderstood figure in the NT, of not the entire bible.

#72 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 05:48 AM:

Xopher @ 58

I don't agree with your take on Paul; but to the extent that 'slaves obey your masters' is the tip of the iceberg, Romans 13.1 'The powers that be are ordained of God; therefore he who resists against authority resists against God' is the whole iceberg.

(and comparing the bluntness of that with the subtlety of 'render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's' - which seems designed to make you ask the further question - to which no unambiguous answer is given - 'and what, exactly, is Caesar's?' seems to sum up much of the difference between Jesus and Paul.)

On the other hand: it looks to me as though without Paul, Christianity remains a strange antinomian Jewish sect, rather than a universalist religion.

I think that the problem is not so much Paul as what the church - or parts of it - has made of Paul: the treating of his works as revealed truth rather than the writings of a flawed and troubled man - with great organisational and expressive gifts - trying to come to terms with faith. (Even Mrs. Thatcher's beloved 'if a man will not work, neither shall he eat' makes sense to me when its understood as a bad=tempered outburst in a particular context rather than an attempt to enunciate a timeless truth about just distribution.)

(Wait, what? This isn't the 'ask an atheist' thread? OK then, sorry.)

#73 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 07:54 AM:

re 58/72: Well, there are at least one thing wrong with this line of analysis. Romans 13:1 is after all one verse in a longer explanation, not to mention any other passages where he talks about these subjects; the passage in that chapter alone runs at least to verse 7, and it's all part of a much larger discursus on how to live together. (The letter to Philemon, for instance, is a pretty craftily constructed argument against Christians holding other Christians as slaves.) Paul's program here ignores the possibility of being those powers, but in a democracy one could advance the argument that one has to think in different terms. It is also possible to argue that Constantine effectively corrupted Christianity in giving over imperial power to its bishops, though I personally think this position leads pretty much directly into the problem that it is trying to avoid.

Paul is useful to people who want to reject the authority of the church because Jesus doesn't spell out how to live in a Christian community, or for that matter whether living in community is how Christianity is to be accomplished at all. The fact that the apostles had to work all this out, and that they created a community as the means to do so, provides an opening to go back and argue that they got it all wrong.

#74 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 08:40 AM:

Huh. And all this time, I've been absolutely convinced that it was "... All I suggest, Still, a man hears what he wants to hear ...."

#75 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 10:05 AM:

Debbie (74): That works as a reading, too. Aren't mondegreens fun?

#76 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 01:29 PM:

It was many years before I could make out the Ayn Rand line in "A Simple Desultory Philippic", because in all that time I'd never seen it written down, and never heard 'Ayn Rand' pronounced. Likewise the opening line of "Graceland", where the fact that I'd only ever heard it obscured the all-important capital letter. The first time I encountered a National guitar, much suddenly became clear.

On a note related to this thread's other subject, I recently learned that a woman I've known for a few years and her girlfriend are planning to marry, and are considering alternatives if this country doesn't get with the program in a timely manner. I didn't even know she had a girlfriend, but then I'm generally terrible at noticing when people are in relationships.

#77 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 05:01 PM:


(via Fred Clark.)

#78 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2011, 10:22 AM:

Hello, lampost! Whatcha knowing?
I've come to watch your flowers growing --
Ain'tcha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-n-doot-doot, feeling groovy!

#79 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2011, 01:09 PM:

Debbie @ 74

I'm glad I'm not the only one who knows the correct lyrics!

Graceland wa the first albumn I ever bought, my previous musical purchases being the singles 'Convoy', by I don't know who and '99 Red Balloons', by Nina.

#80 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2011, 05:37 PM:

Braxis: Bill Fries (as C. W. McCall), wrote/performed Convoy.

#81 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2011, 09:57 PM:

Braxis: I suspect we are of similar age, since "Convoy" was also the first single I ever purchased (I wore it out).

#82 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 03:42 AM:

To link two themes in this thread, what were you and Julio doing down by the school yard?

#83 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 04:54 AM:

Braxis @79, I don't why 99 Red Balloon should stick, but I first heard it in a badly warped form, re-written as "99 Gay Raccoons".

It wasn't even funny once.

#84 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 05:16 AM:

Terry Karney @ 80
Thanks for that. Typing 'Convoy' into Spotify brought up so many versions I had no idea which was the one true original. I've just played it and still remember all the lyrics.

Lila @ 81
I came late to being interested in music, so may be a little older. I bought Graceland as soon as it came out; it got me through a long hard summer job, in a traditional Lancashire cotton mill, between my 'A'-level years.

Dave Bell @ 83
I think it's worse than you remember - the title is '69ing Gay Raccoons'. Probably not one to listen to at work.

#85 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 10:07 AM:

Talking Points Memo has an article about NOM threatening to sue Mr. Marinelli. The non-disclosure agreement (also posted at TPM) seems like it is aimed at preventing the pilfering of donor lists and such, not to gag a general "whoops, I was wrong" but it shows that Mr. Marinelli might have to fight some battles due to his reversal of position.

Kudos to the folks who came out to protest against NOM in Atlanta, and the folks who managed to be civil in engaging with Mr. Marinelli on the internet.

Xopher - I mostly lurk, but when I see your name (not just here...I also lurk on a few SF threads where I see you commenting) I read with interest. I'm in the choir on marriage equality but you still come up with things that make me say "wow, never thought of it that way." Allies might be on your side but not fully get it -- and hearing an argument formulated with style and direct from the heart gives your allies more linguistic ammo when we are having conversations of our own with others!

#86 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 02:28 PM:

Mea @ 85 just clarified one thing for me, because I have the SAME reaction, and yet I'd never thought of it that way. I'm definitely part of the choir, as she says. To me, it's just obvious that human beings of ALL kinds deserve to be treated as human beings.

So I wasn't as likely to try and formulate *arguments* for these positions. Reading people who've had to think these things through makes me think about it, revise my positions where I see unconsidered prejudices slip through. It gives me arguments to present to others, and reasons to speak up instead of just assuming silent support is ok.

#87 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 02:37 PM:

Mea, thanks; it's good to know I have an impact. One caution: I'm not the only Xopher out there. I comment here, on Whatever, much less often on BoingBoing, and that's about it.

#88 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 06:00 PM:

Sometimes we're talking about Paul, and sometimes we're talking about Paul...

#89 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 10:27 PM:

Xopher @58: An online acquaintance of mine swears she has a friend, a divinity PhD, who wrote his doctorate on the thesis that Paul was actually the Antichrist. According to her, he was granted his degree on the condition that he never publish it.

I'm very happy that Marinelli is starting to come around. I am hoping that he will eventually move away from his still-extant views that homosexuals (who, by implication, are all male) are disease-carriers whose behavior is a public health threat. Baby steps, I guess.

#90 ::: Suzan ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2011, 03:49 PM:

You take two bodies and you twirl them into one
Their hearts and their bones
And they won't come undone
Hearts and bones

I always loved this sentiment.

Thanks for the uplift!


#91 ::: Meredith McLaughlin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 02:14 AM:

I'm glad to hear this and, while I do try to be thoughtful in all that I put out to the internets and elsewhere, I get the feeling that you're either preaching to the choir or spitting into the wind.

As far as the civil/religious thing goes, there IS certainly a difference. The Christian church did not recognize marriage as a sacrament until about 1000 a.d. You can thank Augustine for that one. It was a property arrangement, which, in the end, is all civil marriage is. The irony there is that I could find a dozen churches in Kansas City, Kansas or Missouri, that would perform a religious service, but neither state recognizes those or the civil one I had in Iowa. (Of course, apparently, neither does my wife, but that's a different story for another thread.)

Personally, I have zero use for organized religion of any kind, however, I DO feel strongly about the seperation of church & state and that's for the protection of BOTH church & state from one another. As says one of my favorite buttons from my youth, "The last time we mixed politics with religion, people got burned at the stake."

And so as to not completely stray from the theme...

"Let us be lovers we'll marry our fortunes together. I've got some real estate here in my bag."

#92 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 02:53 AM:

You know, I rather like "Elvis is a watermelon." It makes no less sense than what I remember reading in the lyric sheet ("Ever since the watermelon"), and it adds an extra visual image that's guaranteed to keep me giggling for hours.

Well it's not just me and it's not just you
This is all around the world

(How does Paul Simon manage to make lyrics that sound so cynical sound so uplifting? If I read the song's text, I perceive a point of view that's too worldweary to see people as individuals anymore. When I hear it sung, I feel relieved of a burden. "We're all the same, really, and that's why we're not all alone. Be glad." I still feel sorry for the tired talk show host, though. He sounds so sad and resigned.)

#93 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 01:04 PM:

Meredith: The Pauline teachings on marriage obligations between christians moved it from a merely civil contract (any Roman citizen could divorce, be they male or female; though the practical difference in status made it hard for any but well to do women able to do it. See Julius Caesar who sent a note to his wife divorcing her because it was rumored something improper might have happened near her).

What Augustine did was make it the case that only a marriage sanctified in the church was supposed to count. It took a bit for that to take root, but the pauline ideals on marriage were a dramatic change to the emotional landscape, and without it the odds of, "romantic" marriage as the ideal would probably not have taken root as the ideal, if at all as a broadly accepted cultural concept.

Many of the, "virgins" touted by the church as martyrs were women who refused to not marry because it was to a match that would fail the pauline rules of mutual respect/responsibility/obligation.

#94 ::: Laura Meehan ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2011, 07:07 PM:

I think we all feel lost at times and wonder "who am I?' You make some important points about who is listening on the internet.

#95 ::: Mary Aileen suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2011, 07:13 PM:

#94 is a non-sequitur, and the link looks suspicious. (I didn't follow it.)

#96 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2011, 08:52 PM:

I'm not 100% sure. So I just removed the link. Laura, if you're real, please drop by and chat with us.

#97 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2011, 06:20 AM:

And a late-added note, "morning is just a few hou-u-urs away.".

--Dave, It Gets Better, but slowly

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