Monday, October 6, 2008

The Kind of Face You SLASH!!: Day 5 - The Torpid, the Loathsome, the Soddenly Vicious

Russell Kirk's background is an unusual one for a horror writer. He was a Burkean Conservative whose 1953 book The Conservative Mind led to a renewed interest in Edmund Burke, and helped to shape modern Conservatism (though he would part ways with them on several key points in the 1980s). He was also a literary critic known for, among other things, his book Eliot and His Age: T. S. Eliot's Moral Imagination in the Twentieth Century. Kirk was also a devout Catholic, a fact which may not have been so unusual among horror writers in his day -- his fiction was published from the 1960s through the early 1980s -- but from what I can tell would have to be considered something of an anomaly today.

His fiction was in the classic tradition of M. R. James, Oliver Onions and J. Sheridan Le Fanu; in other words, he wrote classic ghost stories. In the afterword to his first collection of short fiction, The Surly Sullen Bell, Kirk says:

To most modern men having ceased to recognize their own souls, the spectral tale is out of fashion, especially in America. As Manning said, all differences of opinion at bottom are theological; and this fact has its bearing upon literary tastes. Because -- even though they may be church-goers -- the majority of Americans do not really hunger after personal immortality; they cannot shiver at someone else's fictitious spirit.
Again, I don't know about how this applies to his day, but I would say that now that statement is pretty much completely untrue. People enjoy, for whatever reason, being scared, whether or not they believe in an afterlife. Kirk is doing what a lot of fiction writers do, which is to express why they write what they write in terms that imply that this is the only reason why aynone would not only write, but read such fiction.

A bit indirectly, this quote also puts me in mind of a claim made by Stanley Kubrick about his film version of The Shining. Kubrick said that his film -- one of the bleakest and coldest horror films ever made -- was essentially optimistic, because anything that hinted at an afterlife must be considered hopeful. Well, okay. I'm not an atheist myself, but I don't want to exist in an afterlife populated by Kubrick's ghosts. Still, I take his point (sort of). I also (sort of) take Kirk's point, in the sense that supernatural horror fiction -- specifically ghost stories, but vampires, among other creatures, fit into this point as well -- if done seriously and well must grapple with theological questions. If you're serious about the genre, but you have no particular interest in spiritual questions, then why the hell did you put a ghost in your story? How serious can you be about what you write if you don't at least have an ongoing, internal discussion with yourself about it?

The title story from The Surly Sullen Bell concerns itself with a man namd Loring, a former university professor whose current job takes him back to his old stomping grounds of St. Louis every year, for a few days. You get the sense, reading this, that Loring could do without these trips:

As a traveller for a publishing firm, he could not keep away altogether from dingy St. Louis, with its vast stupid "civic center" and its decaying heart; but until this evening he had held the Gomorrah of a city at arm's length, sticking chifly to his hotel room in the gradiose late-Victorian railway station. Tonight, though, the past had claimed him.

That past comes in the form of Godfrey Schumacher, a professor of Spanish and former colleague of Loring's. More to the point, Schumacher is also married to Nancy, Loring's former lover. She would be his current lover, as well, if he'd had his way, but as Nancy says when they meet again, he never fought for her. Their break-up is referred to throughout the story as "the Great Fact".

These two are reunited through the ministrations of Schumacher, who initially indicates to Loring, when they run into each other at a coffee shop, that Nancy has been pushing him to find Loring and invite him to dinner. When Loring unhappily accepts the invitation and at one point in the evening fins himself alone with Nancy, he finds that this isn't true. They eventually decide there must have been some sort of misunderstanding, and since they're both happy to see each other, they decide to let it go. It should be noted, however, that Loring hates Schumacher, and soon the reader will most likely hate him, as well.

It's important that I tell you that Nancy is very sick. She spends all day either sleeping or reading in her sickroom, surrounded by her husband's collection of paintings depicting Hell, done by the likes of Breughel and Bosch. Schumacher says that none of the doctors they've consulted know what's wrong with her, but he doesn't think much of that, as he doesn't trust MDs. Schumacher believes her problems run deeper and are more mysterious than their weak science can understand. This distrust of medical science is just part of Schumacher's unusual and quite unappealing belief system. Schumacher does believe in the soul, but not an afterlife. So what is Schumacher's End?

"Spiritual triumph...I don't subscribe in the least to the Hebrew-Christian myth, you understand: I mean actuality, the exultation of battles won in the most dangerous of fields, the spirit plane. In the spirit realm there's no time; the fight goes on forever; you must be always on guard; and you trample down the beaten. That what all this" -- sweeping a hand toward St. Louis, outside in the dark -- "is for, and all that," motioning toward the Breughels and Bosches. "They're both veils for the real plane of being. And in that hard reality you survive and progress by conquest. Oh, you can't comprehend my meaning till you've reached that plane. You need to dominate, to crush..."

This is a particularly odd story. It is extremely bleak, intelligent and subtle, its supernatural elements, if such they are, remain mysterious to the end. Needless to say, Nancy's health worsens, and Schumacher is given a lot of space to explain his philosophy, and all the while Loring is being driven almost mad with desire for the love of his life, who seems to be dying...

And Kirk, as I think I've indicated, really means it. What "it" is, specifically, may remain elusive to you, after finishing the story, as was the case with my reading of it, but that's fine by me. Kirk's erudition and poetic, blackly funny prose are both rare and welcome in this genre.

The other, much shorter story I read from this collection is called "Off the Sand Road". Maybe even more mysterious than "The Surly Sullen Bell", it involves a doctor from the city picking berries with two country children. The doctor is visiting their family, though his relation to them is never made clear. Again, as in Kirk's descriptions of St. Louis in the previous story, the landscape is described in words that evoke waste and rot. Eventually, the come across a small house, which the doctor notes is in better shape, even though it's deserted, than many of that inhabited homes he's seen on his trip.

This house, the children inform him, used to belong to Mr. Clatry, who rented it from a rich landowner. Clatry, now deceased, lived their with his wife and her several children -- none of them Mr. Clatry's -- whom she abused. She abused her husband, as well. Exploring the house, the children find a pile of letters written by and to Mrs. Clatry, and through them we get a picture of a woman beset by religious mania and sloth. Despite this, the voice in the letters seems far friendlier than the woman the children describe, who terrorized her family with violence and frightened her neighbors. By the end, we know more about what happened in this house, but we certainly don't know the full story. We know, for instance, that Mrs. Clatry had an obsession with material goods, and would buy whatever she wanted regardless of her family's financial situation. But what does that knowledge really explain? What precisely was going on in this woman's mind?

Both of these stories revolve around moral horror, the kind of horror that can come with the most extreme kind of solipsism. Schumacher sees the world, and the people in it, as things that need to be defeated and driven down; Mrs. Clatry is a woman who practically demands charity, and will make her loved ones pay if she doesn't get it. Kirk carved out for himself in the horror genre an area where he could explore the havoc wrought by people who don't simply care too little, but rather not at all.


Jonathan Lapper Voorhees said...

I'm with you on the quote. I don't see how believing or not believing in a supernatural being would affect your enjoyment of ghost stories. By that logic, I should not be interested in vampires or werewolves either since I clearly do not believe they actually exist. I found his attempt to link faith and horror a bit of a stretch.

But he sounds like a very interesting guy. I really wasn't aware of the horror stuff until now. I was doing a lot of reading up on Edmund Burke a few years ago and remember him and his book being mentioned but I never investigated him further.

bill r. said...

You being you, and me being me, I found my way to Kirk in the exact opposite way, in that I knew Kirk was a horror writer before I knew anything else about him.

I'm a little concerned that I made it seem like I loved these stories, when in fact I really just found them to be very solid. I guess because he took this stuff seriously and wasn't just a dabbler in the genre, AND because he could genuinely write, I sounded more enthusiastic than I really am. Although I am looking forward to reading more of his fiction. I could grow to love it.

Jonathan Lapper Voorhees said...

I'd like to read The Conservative Mind myself. I read bits and pieces about it when reading about Burke and then it left my radar. Now that you've put it back on it I may have to see if I can find in one of my second hand bookshops. If not I suppose I could break down and buy it from Amazon, but I really hate paying full price on books when there are so many great ones I can get for a quarter.

bill r. said...

You can get it used on Amazon, too. Not for a quarter, but cheaper than full price.

Rick Olson said...

The link between theological and spiritual has always been there. I would ask that if you don't believe deep down in a spiritual ... something (and there are a lot of ways of believing in the spiritual without believing in "God"), why are you scared by ghost stories (or vampires, or etc)?

It's my humble opinion that anyone who is spooked by a ghost story, who looks around corners for them after they read them, and etc. may not believe on a conscious level in the spiritual, but there are a lot of levels of belief. In our rational age, which we call the age of enlightenment, many people claim to not believe on a rational level, but you scratch them very deeply and find the old fears still there. They believe in the spiritual on some much more fundamental level, and that's the level at which they're scared by tales of the supernatural. Is it superior or inferior to a "rational" belief? I don't know ...

I would disagree with Kirk that a disbelief in their own souls has led modern "men" (thank heavens it hasn't happened to women!) to not appreciate ghost stories. I think it has more to do with folks being jaded or something.

bill r. said...

Rick, I would love it if more people writing in this genre wrote from the point of view you've expressed -- when was the last time a horror film matched the complexity of The Exorcist? -- but I don't think a hidden belief in God, however you wish to define that, is behind every person's interest in ghost stories. As I said, I'm not an atheist myself, but I sure don't believe in ghosts, yet that doesn't keep me from thinking The Changeling is a really, really creepy movie.

Rick Olson said...

Well, thanks, my friend ... but I very carefully didn't say "god" for a reason. I think that a person may not say they believe in werewolves or the like, but if they're scared at the thought of them, then on some level they believe in something spiritual. You certainly don't have to believe in a supreme being to believe in spirits or the spiritual.

And I truly do think that there are beliefs that go deeper than the rational, that a person can't name and doesn't even know exists within them, yet still come into play from time to time. Freud, out-of-style guy though he is, called this level "the subconscious."

There's an old saying that comes into play whenever some artist claims not to be aware of themes within their own art: "Trust the art, not the artist." When it comes to beliefs--stated or not -- it is "trust the reaction, not what they say." If a person reacts to something, like getting spooked at a ghost story, deep down, there's something there.

bill r. said...

Well, maybe, though I think Freud was a loon. I was going to counter with some foolishness about about movies about aliens, but then I realized that a person can, deep down, believe there is life elsewhere in the universe, and not believe -- as I don't -- that any of them have landed on Earth.

Still, isn't there something to be said for simply buying into the reality of a fiction for the course of a film, novel, or short story, and let it go at that? The whole "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" thing?

Fox said...

Wow... you just kinda blew my mind. I've always wanted to take on The Conservative Mind, (that, and The Roots of American Order), but I've yet to step up. This was what I knew about himm, little did I know he wrote fiction like The Surly Sullen Bell.

See, Bill, you didn't think it, but you've already got me making a little booklist for my breast pocket!

Jonathan Lapper Voorhees said...

I was going to counter with some foolishness about about movies about aliens, but then I realized that a person can, deep down, believe there is life elsewhere in the universe, and not believe -- as I don't -- that any of them have landed on Earth.

Here's the case I have against what Rick says but at the same time in support of what Rick says. I'll explain that in a second.

Most people don't understand the speed of light and its limits. I'm no physics major but I have studied it on my own since childhood and can recite passages from Einstein's General Theory of Relativity by heart. Now then, in describing the speed of light and its limits the laws of physics dictate that "any object of non-zero mass increases in density as it increases in speed. At 99.9 percent the speed of light, the energy necessary to overcome the inertia is infinite."

What does this mean? It means that anything with mass, even the smallest thing (an atom or a quark within an atom), gets heavier as it goes faster. At 99.9 percent the speed of light it is so heavy that all of the energy in the entire universe(!) would not be enough to make it go any faster. If it has any mass whatsoever, it is impossible. Not a guess, not a hypothesis, but a law of physics.

In surveying our galaxy's closest stars (Alpha Proximi, Alpha Centauri) no planets have been found. Plenty have been found elsewhere as we have inferred their existence through gravitational tugs on the home stars. Even so, the best we can do to determine if any life exists on them is to use spectography where by analyzing the light emitted from them (technically light reflected off of them) we can determine their atmospheric make-up. We cannot, nor will we ever be able to "see" them up close. It's not a matter of technology but a matter of light diffusion over the distance of light years. We cannot construct a telescope that can now or ever be able to inspect the far away planet to determine if it has satellites or intelligent life of any kind.

The galaxy has over 300 billion stars and if we take the average of four major planets per star then you have 1.2 trillion planets. Travelling at the speed of light you could arrive at another planet in about 25 years, if it were in fact 25 light years away, about the average distance from yellow star to yellow star. Of course travelling at the speed of light you would experience time dilation which would make your journey conclude thousands of years after it started with the civilization you are supposed to be bringing answers back to long dead. So 80 percent the speed of light is more probable. Time dilation does not become noticably jarring until you're closing in on the 90+ percent C.

So let's say on average, an advanced civilization could make the journey in 40 years.

Now, this means, if we have ever been visited by extraterrestrials, they looked at 300 billion stars and in an ASTOUNDING, ASTONISHING, MIRACULOUS stroke of luck, chose one, ours, that had a planet with life on it. Then, operating on this incredible hunch, they travelled for 40 years through interstellar space to reach us.

They are advanced enough for interstellar travel and yet base their most massive and expensive exploratory missions on pure guesswork.

Why did I just go into all of that? Because most people who believe when they see an unidentified flying object (and many things are unidentified) and assume it is an alien spacecraft it is because they do not understand the impossiblity of such an event.

I do understand it. Fully. I know that wormholes do not exist as they do in science fiction but according to theoretical work performed by Dr. Stephen Hawking are roughly the sizes of protons, peppered around unstable gravitional regions, like black holes.

Warp drive, which essentially creates an artificial wormhole, does not exist and to exist would require massive gravitational manipulation. That is, a ship that could do this would have to be larger than our solar system. And spin at roughly the speed of light.

There is no doubt in my mind that we have NEVER been visited by extraterrestrials. None.

And yet, I love science fiction. Love it. But according to Rick there must be some deep part of me that does believe in extraterrestrial visitation. I assure you Rick, there is not. I love science fiction because I love engaging my imagination. I love werewolves and vampires for the same reason. Not because there is some small part of me that believes in them.

However, I do agree with Rick that there are primal fears within all of us that are hard to shake and deeply rooted in our genetic code. This however, is not the same as believing in some small part. It is instinct. And instinct is not belief.

Fox said...


I don't know if you have a good Half Price Books near you, but I generally find all of my political books there. Not only b/c it's cheap, but because it seems to be a dumping ground for college students when they are done with this kind of stuff.

Jonathan Lapper Voorhees said...

I should make it clear that I do assume life exists elsewhere in the universe given the probability of, conservatively speaking, 360 octillion planets in the universe. But I have no doubts that no being from any of them have ever visited Earth.

bill r. said...

That's what I was saying, Jonathan -- the idea that we're it, life-wise, in the entire universe is tough to swallow, but I don't buy for a second that space aliens have decided to fly very low over our planet's surface, occasionally dispatch a few sentries to scare people in their bedrooms and/or molest them, and then leave.

But just to play Rick's Advocate for a second, he's not saying that an enjoyment of vampire stories means that you literally believe in vampires, but rather that, in the same way you believe there is some other kind of life in the universe besides ourselves that has NOT ever visited Earth, an emotional reaction to such stories means that deep down you believe in SOMETHING beyond this life. Nothing more specific than that.

And while I agree that instinct isn't the same as belief, how would you explain the presence of instinct in this context? What does it mean, why is it there?

bill r. said...

Oh, and Fox, I'm glad all of this is making you curious to check out some of these writers. When all is said and done, I'm probably going to do a lazy post that will consist of a list of all the writers/stories/novels I read this month.

Rick Olson said...

What Bill said about not believing explicitly in vampires.

Among other things, I've been in the past a research scientist for the good old federal government, and I well understand the difference between "physical laws" and "theories" and etc. I also understand how laws, in physics especially, are often subsumed by bigger and better laws, more generally ... general ones. When quantum mechanics came along, Einstein -- the author of those Immutable Laws of General Relativity -- didn't buy it for a second, because he said "God doesn't play dice with the universe." Oops.

Science, which many in our modern age worship as much as any religion, is messy that way. There are competing theories, laws, and etc., and who ya gonna believe?

I can also say that many physicists -- the good, atheistic kind -- don't buy into what Hawking says about a lot of things, including peppered worm-holes. But who you gonna believe? I certainly don't have the physics cred to be able to read the original research and do the horrendous math that is their real language to be able to distinguish who's right and who's wrong (even though I was in a former life a mathematical modeler)? I don't KNOW that there are peppered worm-holes because Dr. Stephen Hawking told me so (or because his mathematics that I cannot read leads him to believe it) even though I think they are an entertaining notion (kind of like vampires).

But to get back to the nature of belief -- which was what I was trying to get at -- I can tell you right now that human physiologists -- and I can read THAT original literature -- can't pinpoint the physiological locus of an "instinct" or a "fear" any more than they can a "belief." Undoubtedly, all have to do with how our brains are wired, but nobody has any idea in what way.

If there is no functional difference between the "fears" and "instincts" and what I've called deeply-held beliefs, and no hard evidence that there is, what is the difference?

bill r. said...

Man, Russell Kirk has brought out the best in us! Well, in Rick and Jonathan, anyway.

I can't really follow Rick's last comment, other than to say that I agree with him (you). I just have a hard time taking this to its logical conclusion, at least as far as it relates to my original post, which would seem to be that you're sitting next to a stranger in a movie theater, watching Jessica Alba's The Eye. This stranger jumps in his or her seat after some ghostly doing's occur on-screen. You then say to the stranger, "So, you believe in God, do you?"

Jonathan Lapper Voorhees said...

First, not that either of you missed my point, but maybe a little. I wasn't interpreting what Rick said to mean I had to have an actual belief in vampires but that there has to be something vague in there inside you, some nebulous belief in the spiritual. Thus, I presented my argument to be framed as I do not have even the tiniest quark of a sliver of belief that aliens have visited us, and yet I love alien movies. Based on my imagination, not belief.

As for Einstein, well there's this and this as well as more documentation that his secretary inserted "god" into letters and excised atheistic passages from others. So the "dice" line. Come on. You think I hopped on this train yesterday Rick? Reading my comment did you think, "Well he just pulled that out of his ass."

As for "buying in" to what a scientist says, people don't buy into theoretical models. There is none yet for wormholes. When there is a theoretical model no one buys into it because it's based on testable repeatable outcomes and observations. I don't buy that the sun is a star. I know it is, based on empirical data. So saying some scientists don't buy into a hypothesis is one thing, but to imply that a grounded theoretical model has to be bought into is baloney. Not that you were, but your words were dicey enough to make me think you were steering in that direction.

As for your last part on fears, instincts and beliefs and the inability to pinpoint or define a difference, I guess that's the point for both of us. I'm saying it's essentially an involuntary motor function, instinct, you're saying it's belief, which implies a choice. That choice being to believe or not. Instinct requires nor necessitates any choice. Thus, whether they can be accurately pinpointed with an MRI makes no difference. Semantically, the difference is clear: One is voluntary, the other is not. And that's a huge difference.

You should do more on this guy Bill. Then Rick and I can start our own "Point/CounterPoint" blog in response.

Now Rick, this is where you respond, "Oh I see. You're absolutely right Jonathan. My bad."

Rick Olson said...

"Oh I see. You're absolutely right Jonathan. My bad."

Yeah, some of my wording was dicey ... That's what I get for replying when I'm doing three or four other things at the orifice. (You seem to be better at replying coherently while doing other things. Or maybe I'm just out of practice).

I wasn't arguing that Einstein believed in God, just that he was wrong. I have no idea whether he believed in God or not. I was reacting to your statement about laws of physics (speed of light, etc.) as if they were immutable. True, they have more certainty than what scientists call theories, but the argument is more semantic than anything else. Nothing in science is certain. Nothing.

I don't think there can be certainty in anything, whether religion or science.

As far as belief goes, that might be a semantic question as well. I do not equate the term "belief" with choice. I cannot remember a time I didn't believe in a supreme being of some flavor or another. Whether it was upbringing, genetics or just brainwashing as Sam Harris would have it. But I know it wasn't my choice.

In fact, where I fall on the determinist/free-will continuum is much closer overall to the determinist end of things. Maybe it's my scientific background, I don't know.

This has been fun!

J. Anton Phibes Lapper said...

I suppose that pretty much wraps it up. From here on out I believe we're in an "agree to disagree" vortex of dialectical doom. Like you saying the belief wasn't your choice. You can choose to stop believing right now, so we disagree there. Or your statement that nothing is certain in science. Plenty is. A hydrogen atom contains a single positively-charged proton and a single negatively-charged electron. That's certain. Whether there are variations in isotopes like light hydrogen does not change the fact that the atom of the chemical element hydrogen has the construct listed above. If it doesn't, it's not hydrogen. So we disagree there as well.

Science may not be perfect but I'll take the rigorous testing and checking and peer review of the scientific method over superstition any day of the week.

And I'm not sure what you're referring to with Einstein being wrong. If it's the universal constant then surely you know his calculations were correct, but he changed it because he didn't want to believe in what they told him. So belief led him down the wrong road, much to his later embarrassment. Outside of that, from Arthur Eddington's first test conducted with the observation of bending light during the solar eclipse of 1919 to the measuring of the influence of gravitational waves on objects around them Relativity has passed its myriad of tests with flying colors each time.

Thanks for the interaction Rick. But I do have a question for you, beyond this agreeing to disagree hole we're in: What science did you do? I'm curious because you use that old evangelical war-horse of "science is a religion too." If science had no scientific method and scientists just said things like, "I believe there is a star in the middle of the moon and Jupiter orbits the Earth" and no one ever checked it and ran tests and repeated the results and everyone just believed it on faith, then okay, I'd say science was a religion. But since it's based on testing and repeatable results, well, that places the whole "science is a religion too" statement somewhere in the range of just plain dumb to willfully ignorant. It just doesn't work except as rhetorical flame throwing. And to go further by using "scientists disagree with each other all the time" as a "gotcha" is a bit ridiculous. Scientists openly disagreeing with each other is one of the foundations of science. One of it's ultimate strengths. That's why they rely on testing rather than opinion to find out the answers when they disagree. To use it as a negative implies you're not familiar with how science works. But surely you are since you worked as a research scientist. Hence my question. Not that knowing what kind you did would erase the confusion I have over your statements I've discussed but it may illuminate matters to a degree. Thanks.

Rick Olson said...

Honestly, Jonathan, you declare the interaction over, then proceed to harangue me for another couple of hundred words or so.

I stand by my statement that nothing is certain in science. Science is a process, a way of arriving at knowledge, not the knowledge itself. So to cite a result of scientific inquiry -- the atom thing, for example -- as "proof" that there are certainties in science is a circular argument. And unless I've gotten a little rusty in the years I've been out of the game, that ain't scientific.

The process of science can be rigorous or not. I've seen it go both ways. A lot of stuff gets published in the primary literature, produced by "rigorous testing and checking and peer review," that is hogwash. But, like you, I respect that process ... I wouldn't have done it for so long otherwise.

I also stand by the statement that science is a religion to many folks. That's not an "evangelical warhorse" (I'm not now nor have I ever been an evangelical), but a statement based on observation.

And one set of data that I add to my base is your response, like a wounded cat, to my fairly innocuous statements about the nature of belief. Your reply with statements about "laws" and aliens and stuff seemed far out of proportion to what I was saying. It seemed to me the response of someone who's fundamental views of the world, that reside deep down where they live, has been questioned. This is a hallmark of religion, and it prompted my repetition of "the science as religion canard." (I admit it is a canard). I am not fond of zealotry (another hallmark of more extreme forms of religion) in any form or in any venue, science, faith or anywhere else. Of course, science is not the same as religion, but as a metaphor for some folks' response when it's questioned, it ain't bad.

Finally, on a personal note, I didn't call into question your qualifications for making the arguments you made, and I don't really appreciate your calling into question mine. I've always been of the impression that when folks discuss things, making it personal is not a good thing. It's also always been my impression that using words that are thinly-veiled insults ("superstition" and "stupid" come to mind) are not exactly signs of a cogent argument.

But, to answer, I was a senior Research Biologist for thirteen years with the feds, and a research fellow at Virginia Tech before that. My PhD is in Biosystems Engineering, and my Master's and Bachelors are in biology.

And now, brother blogger, peace.

The Awful Dr. Orlapper said...

I have clearly offended you. I take full responsibility for that and apologize. I did not intend to offend you Rick and consider your comments and interaction on both of our blogs to be a welcome thing. That being the case I won't argue this any further because I certainly don't want to dig a hole for myself with you personally that I can't get out of. You made excellent arguments throughout and I understand your defensiveness in your last reply. I certainly didn't mean any of those thinly veiled insults as you called them to be directed at you but at the general arguments. Of course, since the response was to you how could you have possibly taken it otherwise? A wrongheaded move on my part. Accept my apologies. Religion gets my ire up, always has. If I vented in your direction, I didn't mean to. Thanks.

Rick Olson said...

Hey, Jonathan, it's no sweat, really. I certainly understand how religion can get folks' dander up, I really do. Truly, it gets mine up from time to time as well. I see so much hypocrisy and wrong-headedness in so-called Christians, it makes me want to scream.

And sometimes, when I read stuff, I get defensive when I really shouldn't. I apologize for that, myself.

Now, let's hold hands and go to see "Religulous," shall we?

bill r. said...

You know, I was going to stay out of this, and let you two hash it out, but I have to add one thing:

Fuck Bill Maher.

The Awful Dr. Orlapper said...

Thanks Rick, and yeah, Bill Maher's a jerkwad.