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This Is Your Advice Columnist On Drugs

November 7, 2012

DEAR READERS: I'm writing this week's column in a drug-induced coma. Well, not quite a coma, but close. I was fighting a cold for two weeks, and the cold won: It morphed into an insanely painful sinus infection—you know it's bad when your doctor urges you to err on the side of too much Vicodin, not too little. So a warning to everyone whose letter appears in this week's column: My reliably sucky advice is probably going to be suckier than usual.

This probably falls into the category of a so-what's-the-problem problem: I'm a bearish 44-year-old who can't get a hot Latin 18-year-old guy to stop sucking my dick. Craigslist was involved initially. But now he comes by for weekly sessions of mutual head and leaves immediately afterward. His round trip on the subway lasts longer than his stays at my place. He's a sweet kid but deeply closeted; given what little I know of his Dominican family and group of friends, he's years away from coming out. I'm under no illusion that I'm what he's looking for, but I am an available sexual outlet. The trouble for me is he won't kiss and won't do anything social with me, and the novelty of getting naked with an 18-year-old has worn off. I could stop seeing him, I guess, but saying, "You give great head, but you bore me" is rude. I'm mindful of your rule about treating younger partners like campsites: Leave them in better shape than you found them. I'm doing that, by treating him respectfully and showing him that it's possible to be openly gay and have support from family and friends, but I don't know where to go next.

Not Wild About The Boy

Don't sell yourself short, NWATB: It's possible that this 18-year-old is into you. He could be one of those younger guys who prefer older men, and bearish older guys could be his type. But the eat-and-run routine makes it somewhat likelier that you're not, in fact, what he's looking for, but all he feels he can safely get. You're far enough away geographically, and far enough removed socially, that there's no risk of exposure. He's not going to run into you on the street when he's walking around with his friends, and the odds that you know someone in common are nonexistent.

Anyway, here's what you do: Tell him that he's hot, tell him that he's a good little cocksucker, but that's not enough for you to sustain your interest. You're not asking to meet his friends or family—you're not asking him to risk exposure—but if he wants to keep blowing you, well, there's going to be some getting to know you. He'll have to risk a conversation now and then, maybe even watching a movie together sometime at your apartment. Tell him you can't be friends-with-benefits with someone who isn't a friend.

A lot of desperate-to-stay-closeted cases convince themselves that they won't ever have to come out if they can get their sexual needs met in one place and their emotional needs met in another. By showing him that a healthy gay person successfully integrates his sexual and emotional needs—which you'll have done whether he keeps coming over or not—you'll be honoring the campsite rule.


I'm a man who just got out of a two-year relationship with a great girl. She was always a little controlling, and I felt like I had to tiptoe around her all the time, so I'm glad to be out of the relationship. But I was still providing her with a lot of emotional support. This was fine until she started bothering me for advice on what to do about her rebound relationship. This seemed beyond the call of duty, and I suggested to her that we needed to reevaluate our boundaries. She flipped out and has threatened to force all our mutual friends to pick her over me. I'm also worried that she will tell everyone we know about my pegging kink. I'm comfortable with that aspect of myself, but other people don't need to know. Do I stick up for kinks or deny it and blame a vengeful ex?

Kink-outing Is Not Kind

Denying it won't work if your vengeful ex has photos or video that she's willing to deploy. So if there's documentary evidence, KINK, prepare yourself to own your kink and laugh it off. Assholes and vengeful exes can only use the details of your turn-ons against you if you're ashamed of them. If you don't care who knows, KINK, or you can fake it, the people who know won't care that they know, you know? Shrug off the reveal, laugh along with any good-natured ribbing, and look on the bright side: You could have mutual female friends who are interested in pegging and, after they hear the news, interested in you.


I know you were raised Catholic but are now an atheist. I'm curious if you might still believe in God if you took the time to expose yourself to other faith traditions that are more accepting of gay people. Have you looked at Buddhism or Hinduism? There is a great deal of evidence for reincarnation, and what better way to say "it gets better" than by saying you get to do it again and again until you get it right?

Born Again And Again

The Catholic Church's stance on homosexuality gave me a big sad when I was an adolescent, it's true, but I didn't come to the conclusion that there is no God based solely on that big sad. My sexuality prompted me to question not just the faith in which I was raised, BAAA, but all faiths. And none, in my semi-informed opinion, stood up to scrutiny. I simply don't know how any reasonable person can look at all world religions, living and dead, and come to the conclusion that one particular tribe or prophet or science-fiction writer got it right and every other tribe, prophet, and science-fiction writer got it wrong.

But if I was gonna pick a faith based on gayness alone, I would go with Antinous. He was the big gay lover of the big gay second-century Roman emperor Hadrian, the dude who built the wall that kept Mary Queen of Scots from sneaking into Roman Britain and stealing the scones of stones or something. Hadrian, a bearish guy in his 40s, was hopelessly in love with Antinous, a Bithynian teenager. Hadrian's Bithynian, like the NWATB's Dominican, must have given amazing head, because after Antinous died—he drowned while swimming in the Nile—Hadrian had him declared a god. Take it away, Wikipedia: "The grief of the emperor knew no bounds, causing the most extravagant veneration to be paid to Antinous' memory. Cities were founded in his name, medals struck with his likeness, and cities throughout the east commissioned godlike images of the dead youth for their shrines and sanctuaries... As a result, Antinous is one of the best-preserved faces from the ancient world."

My husband Terry looks like Antinous—it's true—so, yeah, I'd hit and/or worship that.

As for reincarnation, well, have you seen The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? I wouldn't mind coming back as that magical pair of pants—only, instead of being passed between best friends Lena, Tibby, Bridget, and Carmen, I'd like to be passed between Broadway stars Cheyenne, Andrew, Nick, and Kyle. And instead of being a pair of magical blue jeans, I'd like to be a magical dance belt. If there's a religion that could make that happen for me, BAAA, sign my ass up.


Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.

mail@savagelove.net

@fakedansavage on Twitter

 

Comments (178) RSS

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1
Love it
Posted by Jackel on November 6, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
2
Weird progression from "great girl" to "a little controlling" to "flipped out" to "tell everyone we know about my pegging kink." Feels like sliding down some slippery slope towards seeing abuse as normal. If you really think she might tell people about your sexual kinks, then she's batshit crazy, and people who listen to her are equally crazy, and you should be glad you escaped from the whole gang of them.

Feel better soon, Dan -- hopefully the election results will help a bit tonight! (And your response to NWATB was perfect, by the way.)
Posted by EricaP on November 6, 2012 at 3:01 PM · Report this
3
Hadrian also built a beautiful villa for his love
Posted by Mememem on November 6, 2012 at 3:07 PM · Report this
4
The only people I've ever known who believed in reincarnation were too lazy or stupid to actually do something worthwhile with the one life they have.
Posted by Ricardo on November 6, 2012 at 4:31 PM · Report this
5
Heard this somewhere:

I want to be reincarnated as a bike seat in Milan.
Posted by Tor on November 6, 2012 at 5:00 PM · Report this
6
BAAA needs to read Christopher Hitchens "God is not Great".
Posted by crone on November 6, 2012 at 5:38 PM · Report this
7
Dearest Dan (sorry about your cold and sinus infection--no fun!--I hope you feel better soon),

Here is one of your biggest fans on election day feeling she's on drugs! After all the numbingly senseless mudslinging, I desperately need a Buddy break, and therefore I am, fully equipped with plenty of comfort food and alcohol, succumbing to my DVD player for another much needed viewing of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". There's something oddly therapeutic about Ethel Merman being carted off in a gurney kicking and screaming, and somewhere in heaven Buddy Hackett is still laughing his ass off.

My reasons for this 3-hour Gilligan's Island "Big W" tour, complete with Thurston Howell III as a bourbon-intoxicated pilot, are thus: if the election results are less than favorable, I still have something to laugh at. If the election turns out all for the better for the majority of us--not just the richest 1%----all the more to celebrate!

Anyway, I hope you feel better soon.
Drugged or not, you ROCK!!!
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 6, 2012 at 5:41 PM · Report this
mtnlion 8
The claim that there is a great deal of evidence for reincarnation needs to be expanded on, I think.

I also think Dan did a pretty good job for being high on Vicodin. Way to go!
Posted by mtnlion http://radicalish.wordpress.com on November 6, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
saxfanatic 9
KINK didn't say that his "great" ex-girlfriend threatened to out him. It's just his fear. Frankly, she sounds too passive-aggressive to want to be known as a strap-on queen. He should relax.
Posted by saxfanatic on November 6, 2012 at 6:20 PM · Report this
Sandiai 10
Yeah, you should write while drugged more often.

I want to ask about the book, but maybe when you feel better.
Posted by Sandiai on November 6, 2012 at 6:34 PM · Report this
11
Yeah, leaving the church was not only about the gay thing. For me, it was the race thing and the misogyny thing and the emotional coercion thing and the anti-science thing ... As time went by, I had the emotional distance to reflect on all the ideas I took in during the church years, and it became ever clearer to me how toxic it all was. So, no, while gay men, like other kinds of men, have one-track minds, we're not single-issue.
Posted by ravished on November 6, 2012 at 7:39 PM · Report this
12
When Dan writes to tell hot Latin dude he's "a good little cocksucker" it reminds me of those dumb Dr. Phil scripts, but, oh God (or hell, oh Antinous) soooo much better.

ps tonight just realizing I got an excessive amount of election coverage via the Savage Twitter feed.

jill
http://www.inbedwithmarriedwomen.com
Posted by inbed http://inbedwithmarriedwomen.blogspot.com on November 6, 2012 at 8:18 PM · Report this
13
Feel better because Washington, Maryland, and Maine just legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote for the first time in the history of our country! (Along with three states legalizing recreational pot too, so a great win for us all). And as a raised-Catholic atheist bisexual girl, there is no reason for us to believe in any supernatural forces out there. It is far more logical to think that we just don't understand it yet through science than to just say "God did it" with no evidence at all. And I still have my grandma's rosary collection after her death of all the Polish rosaries she had bought during her life and left them to me in inheritance, I still treasure them because they were left to me by her but not because I give them any superstitious meaning, it really must be a Catholic thing.
Posted by darlwingduckie7@gmail.com on November 6, 2012 at 10:20 PM · Report this
14
@8 - I concur
Posted by cornflake on November 6, 2012 at 10:21 PM · Report this
15
You should feel better knowing that Washington, Maine, and Maryland are the first states ever to vote for same-sex marriage in the history of our country. (Also, three states voted in some awesome recreational marijuana use laws too). Additionally, as a raised very Polish Catholic atheist bisexual girl, I commend you for your position as an atheist not believing in the supernatural even in a place where the science is lacking evidence at this point. And I inherited a collection of Polish (and some blessed by the departed Polish pope) rosaries from my grandmother at her passing. This really must be a Catholic thing...
Posted by darlwingduckie7@gmail.com on November 6, 2012 at 10:31 PM · Report this
16
8, The evidence for reincarnation is actually very good. look up Dr. Ian Stevenson. On the subject of religion, what matters is how it holds its beliefs. There are esoteric (good) and exoteric(bad) sides to Buddhism, Christianity, etc. The problem is not which religion you go to, it's its relationship to truth.
Posted by textthatappearsbelow on November 6, 2012 at 10:32 PM · Report this
17
@16 You consider Ian Stevenson's research to constitute 'very good evidence' for reincarnation?

Ahem. I think a more even-handed assessment would be to consider his research "mildly suggestive, and perhaps worthy of further investigation, but certainly controversial."

I personally would lump Stevenson into the category of 'pseudo-scientific bullshit', but then I'm rather firmly ensconced on the skeptical side of the spectrum.
Posted by Functional Atheist on November 6, 2012 at 11:10 PM · Report this
18
Fantastic explanation of how you became atheist. SImilar for me: sex abuse scandal caused me to question all religious authority. Turns out none of it stood up to scrutiny. Once you stop believing in the supernatural, if you do so for good reason, it is almost impossible to start up again. As an illustration, try to spend tomorrow believing in unicorns. Bet you can't do it, because you know its nonsense. That's what atheism is like.
Posted by wxPDX on November 6, 2012 at 11:48 PM · Report this
19
Excellent column with or without Vicodin. The only slip I saw was: "a healthy gay person successfully integrates his sexual and emotional needs." That should be "a healthy person ...." Separating the sex life from the love life is unhealthy for straights too.
As for religion, let me plug the Unitarian Universalist church. The one I attend is radically inclusive and doesn't give a damn what you think about God as long as you're polite about it.
Posted by jmkelly on November 6, 2012 at 11:55 PM · Report this
sissoucat 20
@7 Hey, Auntie Grizelda - you won.

And I'm so happy for you, and for all other nice commenters I got to know here !
Posted by sissoucat on November 6, 2012 at 11:59 PM · Report this
seandr 21
@EricaP: Yes.

And don't sweat too much over her threat to make all your friends pick her over you. That's just bluster, and if she followed through with it, it would backfire, unless all of your friends are as mean and crazy as her.

Also, you can draw boundaries without telling her so. Avoid her, don't answer her calls, respond to questions with "Gosh I don't know", if she corners you at a party tell her you have to use the bathroom, etc.
Posted by seandr on November 7, 2012 at 12:15 AM · Report this
sissoucat 22
@13 Catholicism has its many faults but it has, on the whole, been recently kinder to science and education than most other religions - perhaps thanks to its Jesuits who were awesome teachers and who were not afraid of critical thinking.

For instance Georges Lemaître, both a Catholic priest and a college-level physics teacher, who proposed the Big Bang theory (God being understood as the Big Bang maker). And Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and a geologist and a human paleontologist.

Both were scientists in their own right, and they would not have disguised their findings even when it went against their own religion. They bended their religion to make way for facts, not the contrary ; they were able to stay Catholics all the same.

Catholic religion is very bendable ; of course like all religions it can appeal to fanatics but here in Europe most Catholics I know consider the Bible as something akin to a poetical testimony and not to be taken litteraly. The present Pope is a conservative - the last conclave could have elected an Obama but they chose their McCain instead. He won't bend on outdated stupidities like gay and women bashing. His loss.

When one gets out of a bendable religion to become atheist, there's really no much point in shopping around for other gods.
Posted by sissoucat on November 7, 2012 at 12:40 AM · Report this
23
Dan, I love you. On Vicodin or not, you give awesome advice <3 I've recommended your podcast and column to SO many people over the years I've lost count--and all love it, because, SERIOUSLY, you're awesome.
Posted by darkbluecaravan on November 7, 2012 at 12:49 AM · Report this
24 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
AFinch 25
@2 is spot on, at least according to my personal experience, and by all means let her try to 'smear' you - if there is evidence she's sharing, then own it and de-fang it by having no shame. If there is no evidence (and honestly, why people think it's a good idea to film something is beyond me), then just don't respond at all...after a while people will know which of you is the nutjob and which is credible. Truly, living well is the best revenge.
Posted by AFinch on November 7, 2012 at 5:09 AM · Report this
mydriasis 26
Before I say anything, I just want to say this.

HA-HA!! SUCK IT REPUBLICANS!
Posted by mydriasis on November 7, 2012 at 5:21 AM · Report this
mydriasis 27
@seandr

Does that come before or after removing his balls?
Posted by mydriasis on November 7, 2012 at 5:35 AM · Report this
28
KoINK-- Even if your crazy ex did follow through on her threat to "force" all your mutual friends to pick her over you, how would she go about it? Would anyone worth knowing fall for her manipulation?

If she did follow through on her threat to out your pegging kink, do this: When you think someone has heard her gossip or seems to be judging you based on something she said or even confronts you asking if it's true, you look hurt, surprised, and, in a puzzled tone, ask why she would say something like that. If pressed, you say that you don't want to talk about it or her. Leave it ambiguous as to whether you like pegging. Leave it clear that you can't understand why anyone would go around talking about private sexual matters in public. Be sure to leave the acquaintances certain that anyone who would bring up such things is unstable.

Maybe I'm a ridiculous optimist, but I really can't imagine that anything you describe in your scenario could go well for her. I'm putting myself in the position of your mutual friends and asking myself how I'd react if one half of a broken up couple started telling me anything negative-- or even not so negative-- about the ex. That's whether they liked pegging or just didn't throw dirty socks in the hamper. Things like that only ever make me more sympathetic with the maligned.

And that brings me to my last piece of advice: Resist temptation! You've got plenty of ammunition to do to her what she's hoping to do to you. She's controlling. You had to tiptoe around her. She requires emotional support. She needs rebound advice. She doesn't respect boundaries. And now she's talking like a vindictive bitch. Take the high road, and keep all this to yourself.

Posted by Crinoline on November 7, 2012 at 5:50 AM · Report this
29
As Dan, and others above, have said, KINK, the best solution is indeed to stand by your ground and let the girl do whatever she will do, with full knowledge that, if she outs you, she is the one who is doing the wrong thing, not you. After all, what would you prefer: to have the threat of kind-outing dangling above you like Damocles' proverbial (actually fabulistic) sword, so you could be coerced into doing other things you don't want to do?

After all, there's always the possibility that she won't tell anyone. You didn't make it clear that she would, and maybe she won't. Who knows? She might not be as bad as you think.

And, if she does, not only is she wrong, but anyone who treats you badly because of what she might say to them is equally wrong. If they freak out, that's a point against them, not against you, in your friendship diary.

In other words: you're in a good position, KINK. As they say in my native Portuguese, your face is fine. In the worst case scenario, you'll get to find out something about your friends that may impact your willingness to retain them as friends.
Posted by ankylosaur on November 7, 2012 at 6:23 AM · Report this
30
Dan, if you love Antinous,you should read the "Memoirs of Hadrian" by Marguerite Yourcenar. It's one of the best books ever written!
Posted by DinaBerlin on November 7, 2012 at 7:01 AM · Report this
31
The guy with the hot Latino cocksucker constantly at his door needs to relax and just enjoy it, for God's sake! Or tell him to come over to my place.
Posted by Michael63 on November 7, 2012 at 7:11 AM · Report this
32
@BAAA The word evidence doesn't mean what you think it means.
Posted by katynels on November 7, 2012 at 7:33 AM · Report this
33
@BAAA The word 'evidence' doesn't mean what you think it means.
Posted by katynels on November 7, 2012 at 7:35 AM · Report this
34
Well put to NWATB, who sounds like quite a decent person. The status quo, as he realizes, is the wrong thing to model.

It was encouraging to see a good night overall for women (most notably Ms Baldwin); 7-4 (discounting CA and NY, which were both F/F) with a slight lead in uncalled ND. (I wonder if Nevada would have been different had there been no NOTA option, but I am so envious of that that I couldn't wish it undone.) It consoles me a little for the distressing realization yesterday that, as far as I can recall, Mrs McMahon is the first woman against whom I have ever voted twice. (Mrs M and the retiring Mr Lieberman are the only two people who have ever run in my state during my lifetime for whom I could never force myself to vote regardless of party or issue.)
Posted by vennominon on November 7, 2012 at 7:47 AM · Report this
35
@KINK - Said "mutual friends" may be less than thrilled at being blackmailed into dropping you as a friend as the price to pay for staying friends with "vengeful ex". That's junior-high bullshit. When a partner does it, it's called isolating and is a form of abuse.

I certainly would not appreciate a friend telling me who else I could or could not be friends with. The few times it's happened to me as an adult, I told the so-called friend to go to hell and figured they were good riddance.
Posted by hazmat on November 7, 2012 at 7:50 AM · Report this
36
Just FYI - I'm pagan, and we generally DON'T believe that every other tribe, prophet, and science-fiction writer got it wrong. There are so many different kinds of pagan who worship so many different gods/beings/ideas and very few of us would ever be so arrogant as to assume that ours is the One True Faith. There are many paths to the Water of Life, but every path that leads there is the right one.
Posted by Dragonrose36 on November 7, 2012 at 7:59 AM · Report this
37
It's not inconsistent for BAAA to say something stupid like "there is a great deal of evidence for reincarnation" since the whole purpose of the letter is to disrespectfully get Dan to change his mind about religion. Fortunately Dan put a humorous spin on it; not much else you can do with self-indulgent moralists.
Posted by wayne on November 7, 2012 at 8:01 AM · Report this
38
I'm gay and a Buddhist (I follow the Pure Land school, to be specific), and I think BAAA's comments require a slight correction.

Buddhism does NOT require belief in the Judeo-Christian God. While Buddhism does include a number of supernatural elements, including reincarnation and beings like bodhisattvas, one can choose to believe or not believe in gods, whether pagan deities or the God of Abraham.

Also, Buddhism isn't about being right or wrong, and while it may have a lot of disagreements between sects and with other religions, it doesn't say that if you're not Buddhist, you'll come back as a garden slug. It's actually incorporated ideas and beliefs from other religions. For example, Chinese temples often portray Guanyin, a.k.a. the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, in a form similar to the Virgin Mary, complete with a child - that's because Buddhists in China saw the Virgin Mary as a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara when they first saw Catholics carrying statues of her.
Posted by AJD on November 7, 2012 at 8:14 AM · Report this
39
@36, what about those of us who don't give a shit about the "Water of Life" and don't need it to lead productive, compassionate and fulfilling lives? Is our path wrong?
Posted by chicago girl on November 7, 2012 at 8:28 AM · Report this
40
I was raised Hindu its just as batshit controlling as Christianity in most cases worse and anyone who tells you different is a moron.

P.S. evidence of reincarnation my ass
Posted by DrJgowda on November 7, 2012 at 9:09 AM · Report this
41
@39, no, your path is not wrong. The productive, compassionate and fulfilling life is the point; whatever that means to you or to anybody else.
Posted by Dragonrose36 on November 7, 2012 at 9:18 AM · Report this
42
I was raised Hindu. And I can personal state it's as immoral and sick as any other religion if not worse. It's funny seeing people who think its better because they don't understand it

Evidence for reincarnation my ass
Posted by DrJgowda on November 7, 2012 at 9:20 AM · Report this
43
I'm inclined to believe that the problem is not with any particular religion, but rather with the people who interpret it. ANY religion, ANY creed, can be selectively interpreted and twisted around to justify whatever horrible proclivities some people possess.
Posted by Dragonrose36 on November 7, 2012 at 9:24 AM · Report this
44
@39: No. Just don't say ours is if you can't come up with a lick of evidence for why that's so beyond "ridiculous". I think actions and voting habits can be ridiculous, but not stuff that goes on in peoples' brainmeats.
Posted by Mini Lo on November 7, 2012 at 9:37 AM · Report this
Bonefish 45
Some people have really loose standards for what qualifies as "evidence."
Posted by Bonefish http://5bmisc.blogspot.com/ on November 7, 2012 at 9:44 AM · Report this
46
Sorry BAAA, but Buddhism is a non-theistic religion. When Buddhists talk about a deity, that's just a representation of a mind state, not a reference to a supernatural being.
Posted by shambhaladawa on November 7, 2012 at 9:44 AM · Report this
47
@25, AFinch

So much of pegging is visual, and yet the view isn't always the best, if you know what I mean, that recording is way too tempting. Also, people often wind up separated from their partners for varying periods of time. It's like a porno where you don't have to pretend that the guy is you.
Posted by Howlin' Jed on November 7, 2012 at 9:56 AM · Report this
48
Hi Dan!

Good luck with your sinus infection. Sinus infections can be so painful and hard to kick... However, I just wanted to let you know that they are one of the few conditions with a famously effective natural remedy available as treatment.

Once you're out of the dangerzone with this one... if comes back, consider treating it with apple cider vinegar, instead of returning to immune-compromising antibiotics.

Apple cider vinegar has natural antiseptic, antibiotic properties, is high in artery-cleansing potassium and thins mucus almost instantly, which is the key element in beating a sinus infection.

You can take a tablespoon in a glass of water, in capsule form, gargle it--- and it really works!

Feel better!!

Cath in Montreal
Posted by nomnryn on November 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM · Report this
Bonefish 49
42: Thank you. A lot of white Americans have a really condescending, imperialist faux-admiration for the Eastern Hemisphere. The "exotic Orient" stereotypes make (dated) eastern cultures seem magical and more enlightened than (dated) western cultures to them.

Because of this, you get a lot of white Americans latching onto a whitewashed, idealized version of eastern religions because they believe this makes them look more open-minded. It's racist when you get down to it, because in the end it's based on idealized caricatures of eastern culture.

As a result, they fail to see how Hinduism has as flawed a history as Christianity, and they think they're being oh-so-enlightened when they offer Hinduism (for instance) as a superior alternative to the hateful small-mindedness of boring ol' "western" Christianity. They're never able to explain what's so enlightened and loving about the caste system, however.

People without this racist attitude are more likely to put eastern religions to the same scrutiny as western ones, and tend to reject them all.
Posted by Bonefish http://5bmisc.blogspot.com/ on November 7, 2012 at 10:05 AM · Report this
50
For what it's worth the Antinous cult is still alive - I've been at a few rituals they have presented at an annual pagan conference. Google " Ekklesía Antínoou" and then have lots of fun singing his praises!
Posted by CharlieLondon on November 7, 2012 at 10:09 AM · Report this
Lose-Lose 51
Now some advice for you, Dan: if you have a cold, GET SOME ACUPUNCTURE! It'll cure you quick and not leave any nasty consequences (like sinus infections, vicodin addiction, etc). And it's not just the acupuncture that cures, if you think you're needle-phobic (which you shouldn't be), the traditional Chinese herbs (which many acupuncturists also use) kick colds dead!

I used to be a substitute teacher, and every fall would be thrown into a kindergarten class, where I'd invariably catch some nasty cold. They I started going to an acupuncturist, and this cold would be gone within a day or so.

Just sayin'...
Posted by Lose-Lose on November 7, 2012 at 10:11 AM · Report this
52
And last note in defense of wacky little religions. I couldn't agree more with the statement "I simply don't know how any reasonable person can look at all world religions, living and dead, and come to the conclusion that one particular tribe or prophet or science-fiction writer got it right and every other tribe, prophet, and science-fiction writer got it wrong."

All religions are too nutty to be the one truth faith - but when seen as all of our myriad ways of communicating with the divine two great things happen:

1. You don't need to kill anyone for believing differently.
2. You don't need to look into anyone else's backyard to bring them to the one true faith.

Just wanted to add that in defense of all the sex-positive pagans, Unitarian Universalists,and other folks out there who think religion should inform your own choices and no one elses.
Posted by CharlieLondon on November 7, 2012 at 10:14 AM · Report this
53
and now Terry is your HUSBAND in America as well as Canada. Congrats Dan, and to all LGBT folk everywhere.
Posted by RJTvedt on November 7, 2012 at 10:16 AM · Report this
54
@44 Um, did I say anything at all about anyone's faith being ridiculous? I was a bit flippant about the water of life thing, but that's because I think the term itself sounds kind of new age-y and slightly silly--however, since I have no definition for the term apart from my own guess, I'm not in a position to judge the principle itself, although I imagine it's a nurturing one. I don't have anything against believing in god or religion per se, but I get slightly annoyed when people like BAAA (I erroneously interpreted dragonrose's comment, I'm glad to say) imply that a life without religion is by definition incomplete; are you sure you tried all of them? The idea that people need god to have morals is unfortunately still fairly popular, and I admit that I'm touchy on the subject. The election season rhetoric has not helped this--too many people use religion (or lack thereof) as one more way to drive people apart, and I've come to expect conflict rather than acceptance.
Posted by chicago girl on November 7, 2012 at 10:22 AM · Report this
55
My daughter and ex-husbands are atheists and it works for them. I think something may be out there, but I can't think of any reason why a being that created the entire universe would care about me over anyone else, or my cat or my dog. As far as the afterlife goes, no idea if it exists or not, but Heaven sounds boring, Hell seems like if a human parent inflicted it on a child they would be convicted of child abuse and something I would never ever do to any child of mine. Since I can't imagine God being a worse parent than I am, Hell is completely out of the picture. If there is an afterlife reincarnation makes the most sense because you get to live in the world your choices created, but even then that's only fair if I come back into a world where Al Gore and John Kerry won the election. So spiritual, but not religious and don't care that much. I try to be kind to other people and do unto others as I would want them to do unto me and I don't expect to be rewarded for behaving in what I consider a moral way.

Sorry Dan, I know you don't care, but I babbled on anyway.
Posted by percysowner on November 7, 2012 at 10:30 AM · Report this
Fortunate 56
When it comes to religion I'm just like Dan. Being raised Catholic and being gay that prompted me to question Catholicism, and eventually leave it, but that isn't the reason I don't believe in religions.

In fact I spent many years trying to find a religion that made sense. I tried the Episcopal church, UU, Paganism and Buddhism. The problem is that none of them really made any sense.

I came to the conclusion that religion was, in addition to being a mechanism for controlling populations and a means of amassing wealth and power for the elite of the religion, just an attempt to fill in our lack of understanding with something that makes us feel comfortable.

The more our knowledge and understanding of the universe increases the smaller the space for religion shrinks.

Religion doesn't answer anything, it just makes us feel good. I decided I would rather strive for understanding than warm fuzzie feelings.

And really, some religions may be better on gay issues than others, and some denominations may sweep the anti gay stuff under the rug and pretend it isn't there, but almost all religions have some anti gay BS in them, from all forms of Christianity, to Wicca, to Buddhism (which has lots of sexism historically embedded in it).

It's nice that practitioners in the more liberal denominations of these religions don't like the anti gay stuff in them, but it is still there.
Posted by Fortunate on November 7, 2012 at 10:53 AM · Report this
AFinch 57
@47 - fine, but just don't record your face! Seriously: never put in writing or worse, in photograph/film, anything you don't want on the front page of the paper with your name under it. I have learned this the hard way, even posting stuff with a pseudonym (and that was written stuff!).

But yeah, anyone who is going to try to get other people to reject you for sexual hijinks they voluntarily engaged in with you is more likely to look like a fool. I'm sure this guy is (reasonably) terrified of losing his man card, and he just might, if their circle includes <25 women. Even so, the ex will wind up looking like the manipulative crazy person: don't act guilty and you will have no problems; any friends you do lose over it really aren't very good friends.

@26 - AMEN! Suck it Repubes!
Posted by AFinch on November 7, 2012 at 11:02 AM · Report this
58
@53: I second it!!! Congratulations, Dan & Terry and family, and all the very best to you!!!!!! Amen!!

@26 mydriasis: along with @57 AFinch (re; @26): It's always a pleasure to agree with you!! Suck it and choke on it, Repigs!!!!
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 7, 2012 at 11:28 AM · Report this
59
Quantum physics has done more to advance my belief in "God" than any religion ever could.
Posted by eatin_meat on November 7, 2012 at 11:37 AM · Report this
seandr 60
@mydriasis @27: Ha ha!

When dealing with crazy people (I'd guess borderline personality disorder in this case), I'm gonna say the smart move is to cut your losses and bow out of the game altogether.

As for his balls, this woman took them away as soon as he fell for her. If he tries to fight for them back, she'll just take whatever manhood he has remaining and march it around on a pike.
Posted by seandr on November 7, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
61
Please don't rule the relationship route out (until you know for sure), I have always looved men who are 20 years or so my senior. We exist (and sometimes we are inordinately shy.)
Posted by subwlf on November 7, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this
62
I also believe in reincarnation. There is a cute movie on this theme: Caótica Ana.
Posted by AnonEva on November 7, 2012 at 12:24 PM · Report this
seandr 63
Holy shit, I can't believe this isn't on SLOG yet.

Well done, Mr. Savage, well done.
Posted by seandr on November 7, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Report this
64
Reincarnation is a far better metaphor than possible reality. Especially if you scale it down from lifetimes to say, a day.

-Each day we rise and then at the end of the day disappear into sleep for a little while. Each day we act out habits that we've cultivated for days and days prior (or weeks and weeks, or years and years).

-Each day we have an opportunity to observe our habits and decide if acting them out helps or hinders.

I like the story Buddhism offers for this reason--or at least the interpretations I've bought into.

Then again, I like "The Campsite Rule" is almost the same thing.

-The campsite rule demands we look at our relationships/situations and evaluate whether our actions are making those relationships/situations better or worse. It asks us to do the thing that will make them better.

So I'm a big fan of "Campsiteruleism" as well.
Posted by ProfessorEww on November 7, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this
65
Reincarnation is a far better metaphor than possible reality. Especially if you scale it down from lifetimes to say, a day.

-Each day we rise and then at the end of the day disappear into sleep for a little while. Each day we act out habits that we've cultivated for days and days prior (or weeks and weeks, or years and years).

-Each day we have an opportunity to observe our habits and decide if acting them out helps or hinders.

I like the story Buddhism offers for this reason--or at least the interpretations I've bought into.

Then again, I like "The Campsite Rule" is almost the same thing.

-The campsite rule demands we look at our relationships/situations and evaluate whether our actions are making those relationships/situations better or worse. It asks us to do the thing that will make them better.

So I'm a big fan of "CampSiteRuleism" as well.
Posted by ProfessorEww on November 7, 2012 at 2:20 PM · Report this
66
Anyone know of any statistics on being gay and rejecting the religion in which one was raised? The way I look at it (based on no reading or knowledge of the subject whatsoever), it doesn't make sense for a gay teenager to continue believing in a god that thinks being gay is immoral or punishable. It makes sense to me that gay teens would reach the age of awareness and become atheists. And yet I know that some number of gay people remain in fundamentalist religions or continue believing in a god; they just change to a religion that embraces gay people.

Similarly, there are plenty of straight people who have nothing in their sexuality or lifestyles that would put them at odds with the religion their parents reared them in who think about it and become atheists anyway-- because all that god stuff just doesn't make sense.

Which leads to my question: How does being gay or being straight, how does being brought up in a fundamentalist religion, a liberal theist religion, or in a community of atheists, how does all that affect one's beliefs when people start looking around them and choosing what they believe as adults?
Posted by Crinoline on November 7, 2012 at 2:22 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 67
the dude who built the wall that kept Mary Queen of Scots from sneaking into Roman Britain and stealing the scones of stones or something.


Maybe you should write drugged more often. As a historian, that's one hysterical sentence.

Only one thing, there's a big difference between religion & spirituality. Your thoughts about reincarnation and magic dance belts is your spirituality. Once you write about it incessantly, gather followers & enforce their beliefs, then it's become a religion.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on November 7, 2012 at 4:06 PM · Report this
68
I'm much too lazy for reincarnation.

Posted by judybrowni on November 7, 2012 at 7:14 PM · Report this
Holmes 69
Re: reincarnation

Why does everyone who claims to have had previous lives (or channels someone) claim to have been Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc or a 5000 year old Egyptian prince? Statistically, we should be seeing a lot more peasants, who were born into,lived and died unremarkable lives.
Posted by Holmes on November 7, 2012 at 8:12 PM · Report this
70
@54: I used "ridiculous" cause that quite sums up all the myriad words I've seen used in reference to religion, not saying you said that specifically. And yeah, I get you on the frustration brought about by the religiously-inspired election rhetoric. If I have to hear "almighty God" uttered by a politician one more freakin time...

It's the choice of language used by atheists like, say, #56 that bug me just as much as the shit evangelists say. HAH, as if "understanding" and "feel good" are diametrically opposed. Man, talk about a narrow view of life.
Posted by Mini Lo on November 7, 2012 at 8:24 PM · Report this
71
Thank you 59!
And Dan, I've been a weekly reader since...puberty in the late 80's, and this vicodin addled column is one of your best in a long time.

Posted by blackwinterbyrd on November 7, 2012 at 8:48 PM · Report this
72
KINK

I echo what Seandr@60 said: Borderline Personality Disorder. Google it.

The things that tipped me off: Controlling. Tip toe. Flipping out. Threats.
You need to turn around and run for the hills. Unless you're cool with emotional manipulations, threats and coercion. Do not respond. Block her calls, emails, etc.

Here's the thing with men and their asses: they all want them touched (by tongues, fingers or objects de jour), but most are too afraid to ask.

Posted by albeit on November 7, 2012 at 9:21 PM · Report this
73
@7, Part II: Back from my Buddy break----GO, DEMS!!!!!
What a helluva party!!! Now the Repigs are as PISSED OFF
as I was 8 years ago!!!! And they're losing a lot of Tea Bag
puppets to boot!!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Bravo, Dan--especially on vicodin!!
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 7, 2012 at 10:48 PM · Report this
74
When they say there is evidence for reincarnation, I HOPE they mean reincarnation in the sense Buddha meant, and NOT the sense that Westerners usually interpret reincarnation. Westerners look at everything through Judeo-Christian eyes, they think reincarnation means your immortal soul moving from a dead body to a living body. Buddha taught that when you die, your energy becomes new life, but that new life is NOT the same person as the old life. In that sense, reincarnation is consistent with science. Molecules turn from one thing into another thing.

So yeah, Buddhism actually is compatible with an atheist and materialist worldview. So is Daoism, and probably a few other religions. The problem is, religion is work. I don't see the point of pressuring people to get into something that is a lot of work. It's like urging everybody to play football.
Posted by TheLastComment on November 8, 2012 at 4:47 AM · Report this
75
KINK,

Your ex has borderline personality disorder. I married into a family of them two decades ago. The reason for staying eventually becomes to protect your kids, and the fear that the false allegations will get much worse after you leave. Thank antinous or the flying spaghetti monster that you got out when you did and she can only torment you for a while.

Posted by redpill on November 8, 2012 at 6:17 AM · Report this
AFinch 76
Aheh...yes, @60, my bete noir was indeed bpd and yes, she did try very hard to completely destroy me, but then, she'd developed a rep. for that, and like the little boy who cries wolf too often, people get a clue.
Posted by AFinch on November 8, 2012 at 7:13 AM · Report this
77
@69, which makes General George Patton an interesting case, (whether you believe in reincarnation or not) since he believed that he had been reincarnated many times, and always as an ordinary soldier, never anyone famous.
Posted by Dragonrose36 on November 8, 2012 at 7:13 AM · Report this
78
KINK, next time you see your friends say "OMG you won't believe what she did. And now she is threatening to ruin my friendship with you guys"

Premimtive strike, they won't believe anything she tells them.
Posted by Texans on November 8, 2012 at 7:13 AM · Report this
hamish108 79
Just for the record, Buddhism does not believe in a supreme being or god, and it's view of reincarnation is much subtler and philosophically nuanced than the popular, new age 'new pair of shoes for the same feet' nonsense. One of the Buddha's primary teachings was the non-existence of any kind of inherently existing self, so what is it that reincarnates?

The main point of the Buddha was to teach people to clearly see reality, not swallow doctrine and belief systems unquestioned. And seeing reality sets you free. Yeah, maybe it's work, but leading a meaningful life is worth working for.
Posted by hamish108 on November 8, 2012 at 7:16 AM · Report this
nocutename 80
KINK's got two worries: that his ex will try to get all their mutual friends to "choose" her over him, and that she will tell everyone about his pegging interest, which will result in . . . what? Embarrassment, I guess.

So, one by one:
If she tries to get friends to "choose," some will inevitably choose her over you, especially if she uses lies to make her sound like a villain. All you can do is to try and maintain your own friendships. Some people will see what she's doing and refuse to go along; some will see what she's doing and feel that for some complicated reason (who they knew first, gender-loyalty, whatever) they have to be only her friend. As time goes by and the drama simmers down, either your friends will return or you will go on without them and make new friends.

Yup, people may know one of your preferred sexual acts. Most of them won't care. This only has the power to hurt you if you invest it with that power.

You've done more than enough for this ex. Now just move on with your life.
Posted by nocutename on November 8, 2012 at 7:30 AM · Report this
nocutename 81
Whoops: that should have read "make *you* sound like a villain," not make her sound like one!
Sorry.
Posted by nocutename on November 8, 2012 at 7:35 AM · Report this
82
There is absolutely no reason to believe in God in order to remain a thoughtful, compassionate person. None of the religions can ever get it more right than each individual's personal take on the matter. If there's a God, S/He has no preferences whatsoever about what you believe, or whether or not you believe in Him/Her at all.
Posted by jodyr on November 8, 2012 at 7:54 AM · Report this
83
I have no idea why people think that Buddhism or Hinduism are more tolerant toward homosexuality on a religious level. Is it the presence of Thai or Indian ladyboys? Their cultures might not have as much homophobia, but they are certainly heteronormative. Tibetan Buddhism is particularly intolerant toward homosexuality, in general. None of this means anything when one is talking about individual Buddhists (or Hindus).
And what's with this "Buddhism is..." crap? Mahayana? Theravada? Tibetan? Japanese? Jack Kerouac's psuedo-honky Buddhism? Every culture's version is different (and Mahayana Buddhists, by the way, tend to diefy the Buddha more than the others).
On heteronormativity in an Asian context, I'd recommend reading Tom Boellstorff's work (although much of his work is in Indonesia).
Posted by carnivorous chicken on November 8, 2012 at 8:27 AM · Report this
84
As a fellow atheist, I don't understand why people assume they know the reason why we became atheists. I'm queer, but like Dan, that really had little to do with my choice to give up Catholicism. It really is because supernatural beings seem really unlikely. As far as I know, that's the reason *most* people are atheists. People tend to assume we have some specific reason that we're "angry at god" and thus choose not to believe in him as a way of lashing out. Ridiculous.

BAAA sort of reminds me of those religious folks who want atheists to say that their religion isn't so bad. Greta Christina calls this the "Atheist Seal of Approval". I highly recommend her blog post about it: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2010/1…
Posted by DarthKelly on November 8, 2012 at 8:29 AM · Report this
85
@35- it's defiantly a jerk move but it's also definately not abuse. The unfortunate consequence of that word getting thrown around is that jerk behavior gets a seat at the table when genuine abuse is being discussed. Its just being a jk and it's obviously very different than someone isolating an individual to increase their control.
@63- that's a funny link, nice.

The drone attacks, murdering american citizens abroad and constant pandering to corporate America alone is enough to make me believe that this whole election deal is a dog and pony show, just me ?
Posted by Oxam on November 8, 2012 at 9:08 AM · Report this
86
@69 "Statistically, we should be seeing a lot more peasants, who were born into,lived and died unremarkable lives."

If there is reincarnation, how many distinct people are there? Did your answer account for a non-linear time-stream and the greatly increased world population?

Given your acknowledgement of the utter banality of most lives, why should anyone recall or remark upon those trips through life?

Really, if there is this type of reincarnation, I'd actually expect a lot more of these types of recollections.
Posted by Mind You, I Think It's Possible, But Most Likely Bullshit on November 8, 2012 at 9:43 AM · Report this
Bonefish 87
70: Nothing in post #56 suggests to me that he believes "understanding" and "feeling good" to be diametrically opposed. It's more like he's suggesting that they are also not mutually inclusive, and that religion doesn't accomplish both like it claims to: it only accomplishes the "feel good" part while claiming to also explain some of how the universe works.

I'd argue that religion (Christian, Pagan, or otherwise) is more guilty of the equally narrow converse viewpoint of "understanding in order to feel good." Scientific philosophy, if done honestly, looks at something we don't know and says, "gee; we honestly don't know how that works. Let's look into that and maybe someday we will know." Accepting that there are gaps in humanity's knowledge suggests a comfort with the world regardless of what we currently understand and what we don't.

Religion, organized or not, looks at those same gaps in knowledge and demands that they be filled with guesswork: man-made myths and assertions with no evidence to suggest that they're actually real and no method to rule out other possibilities. To me, this seems far more indicative of a need to understand in order to be happy than merely saying "we don't know, but maybe we will someday."

It's also more narrow-minded. When we don't know something, the possible explanations are endless. It could be "God's work." It could be "several goddess' work." It could be telekinesis, or chakra flow, or a hallucination, or some strange behavior of subatomic particles, or ghosts. It could be a hoax. It could be an optical illusion. It could be a placebo effect. It could be something that humanity hasn't even imagined and doesn't even have words for. But the second someone declares (for example), "Oh; you were healed because of this crystal's healing energy," they're ruling out all the other possibilities artificially. They're simply declaring them to be invalid, based on nothing more than their word and their own preconceived belief.

Demanding proof, on the other hand, sounds more narrow-minded but it isn't. When you demand proof, you're acknowledging that there are several possibilities, but that whatever is actually true will indicate itself to be true on its own, regardless of anyone's "authority" as a priest or a shaman or a yogi or a healer. A person's say-so doesn't count as proof (and it should be obvious to anyone why this is a good thing).

And if no proof for any one answer is provided, then no one answer should be given.
More...
Posted by Bonefish http://5bmisc.blogspot.com/ on November 8, 2012 at 9:47 AM · Report this
88
Well, look at that! I happen to *be* a gay man and a devotee of Antinous. Thank you for spreading awareness!

Just a couple observations: Antinous didn’t become a god because of Hadrian. Anyone who drowned in the Nile became a god, regardless of social standing. Now, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Emperor is your boyfriend to help get your cultus established, but it wasn’t the reason he was made a god. Also, Antinous is not just a gay god, or a god for gay people. Most of the people who participated in his cultus in the ancient world were not gay. Placing Antinous in a box labeled “gay” limits him unnecessarily, in my opinion. Part of what appeals to me is his homoerotic nature of his relationship with Hadrian, but it doesn’t define him as a god.

For those actually interested in participating in devotion to Antinous, some recources:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ekklesia_a…
and
http://www.facebook.com/wayofantinous

Blessings!
Posted by sisterkrissy on November 8, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this
89
Well, look at that! I happen to *be* a gay man and a devotee of Antinous. Thank you for spreading awareness!

Just a couple observations: Antinous didn’t become a god because of Hadrian. Anyone who drowned in the Nile became a god, regardless of social standing. Now, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Emperor is your boyfriend to help get your cultus established, but it wasn’t the reason he was made a god. Also, Antinous is not just a gay god, or a god for gay people. Most of the people who participated in his cultus in the ancient world were not gay. Placing Antinous in a box labeled “gay” limits him unnecessarily, in my opinion. Part of what appeals to me is his homoerotic nature of his relationship with Hadrian, but it doesn’t define him as a god.

For those actually interested in participating in devotion to Antinous, some recources:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ekklesia_a…
and
http://www.facebook.com/wayofantinous

Blessings!
Posted by sisterkrissy on November 8, 2012 at 9:57 AM · Report this
Holmes 90
@80: Good advice.

Expend no effort in either combat with the ex or trying to rescue her. If she continues with her negativity for more than a few months, it will become learned behavior. People like this feed off of tragedy, and she will generate it among her circle of friends should you or some subsequent target fail to provide her with it.

'Well adjusted' people will overlook negativity (and a bit of kink). That's the sort of people you want to associate with. So, in a way she is doing you a favor. Her forcing a choice is providing you with a litmus test for sanity among your mutual circle of acquaintances.

On the other hand, the 'tragedy club' tends to aggressively protect and expand its membership. If you play her game, you too will reinforce this behavior in yourself. And you will become trapped in a community of losers.
Posted by Holmes on November 8, 2012 at 10:08 AM · Report this
91
@84 - That's exactly what I get from my mom when I try to explain my atheism to her. "Oh, you're just mad at god." Dammit woman, how can I be mad at something that doesn't exist? I get pissed off at his followers, but that doesn't translate as anger at the invisible sky-father. It is so unbelievably frustrating to tell someone exactly how you think and feel, only to have them turn around and say, no, this is REALLY what you're feeling.
Posted by sanguisuga on November 8, 2012 at 10:15 AM · Report this
John Horstman 92
@8: Agreed; as far as I'm aware, the evidence for reincarnation is at a level somewhere between "zero" and "none", much like any religious claim (which can have no evidence - if there's actual evidence, your belief in it is definitionally not "faith", and what you're doing is no longer "religion").
Posted by John Horstman on November 8, 2012 at 10:22 AM · Report this
John Horstman 93
@84: Supernatural beings aren't just unlikely, they're fundamentally impossible. We, more or less, define "natural" as "real" in this context. Anything that impacts the natural world cannot be completely removed from it - if it was, it couldn't impact the natural world. "Supernatural" thus means that something cannot impact, exist in, etc. the natural (or "real") world, and therefore has the same definition as "imaginary" - unless the supernatural is necessarily defined as something that CAN impact the natural world, in which case it isn't' supernatural at all, but simply unexplained by present models of the natural world. There is plenty about how the natural world works that we don't know (or about which we might be wrong), but those things aren't "supernatural", we're just wrong or ignorant about them. If intelligent beings can violate physical laws by force of will, then the conclusion is that we're wrong about physical laws, as they are not, in fact, constant, not that something is "supernatural" ("imaginary"). Any argument about "realms of existence" or "states of being" can't circumvent the ontological paradox - if it's real and at all interacts with what we call the natural world, then it is not in fact separate from the natural world (and were it to be real, we'd need to revise our naturalistic models to account for the new evidence, as we do when we discover new evidence that contradicts old models).

For example, were telekinesis real, it would not be "supernatural", but in fact an unexplained natural phenomenon, by definition. Clearly, our models of how matter and energy interact would need to be tweaked to account for people being able to generate energy in their brains in such a way that it can exert force on objects by means other than nerve impulses causing muscle contractions. The project of science is to create explanatory and predictive models for reality; anything real, therefore, is not somehow outside the 'realm' of science. People making that claim (or similar ones) either don't understand science, don't understand the (proposed) phenomenon they're discussing, or both.

Basically, any and all proposed gods have some impact on the real world (why else hypothesize them?); therefore, they are subject to the same evidentiary rules as any other real thing - we'd be able to see evidence of their impacts. We don't, so like anything else we can imagine but for which there is no evidence, we don't believe in them. This is the quick way to refute any supernatural claims, and the only way apologetics has to argue around it is equivocation. Force someone to stick to a single, explicit definition of a given word ("real", "natural", "god", etc.), and they can't get around the ontological paradox of the "supernatural".
More...
Posted by John Horstman on November 8, 2012 at 10:45 AM · Report this
shw3nn 94
@70 As an atheist, your special pleading annoys me as much as, if not more than, our word choice annoys you.

I think that I should be able to call ridiculous ideas ridiculous. I don't think any wild, crazy, unsupported, unverifiable claims should be treated with respect.

And that is pretty much how most people feel on every topic except religion. I can scoff at any silly claim unless it is about god or is woo-y, then I'm supposed to pretend that nonsense is worthy of consideration.

Absolutely not. Will not do that.
Posted by shw3nn on November 8, 2012 at 11:02 AM · Report this
95
So nice to see Terry referred to as "husband" instead of "HICBIW." Happy gay marriage, Washington!
Posted by Drunken Housewife http://www.drunkenhousewife.com on November 8, 2012 at 11:08 AM · Report this
Fortunate 96
@70 :"It's the choice of language used by atheists like, say, #56 that bug me just as much as the shit evangelists say. HAH, as if "understanding" and "feel good" are diametrically opposed. Man, talk about a narrow view of life."

Since I didn't say that I don't know what your problem is.

I never said that understanding and feeling good were somehow mutually exclusive.

Religion itself offers feeling good, but no understanding. In fact religion leads you away from understanding. Religion is a one trick pony.

The alternative, to seek understanding, can bring either feeling good or distress, depending on what it is you come to understand.

I am just saying that I'll take understanding, even when it comes with distress, over the hollow good feelings of religion any day.

When understanding comes with good feelings that's great, but even when it doesn't it's still a damn site better than the shallow good feelings of religion.

Religion is like a twinkie. It might taste good to many people, but it has no nutritional value. Better to eat a healthy meal than the twinkie, and if you can find an healthy meal that tastes good too then you have a double win.
Posted by Fortunate on November 8, 2012 at 11:47 AM · Report this
97
I just thought I'd mention, Dan--after, GREAT COLUMN!!-- that the majority of the world's religions, such as Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism--do NOT claim to have the "only truth". Even Jews believe their truth is for them only, and not you or me.

And for the guy who said reincarnationists are lazy: No, sir. We are VERY BUSY ENSURING WE DON'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS CRAP AGAIN. We do it by performing good works and trying to change the world for the better, like Dan does. So, in terms of reincarnationist belief, Dan is already "saved" (a misnomer, because souls CAN'T "give up") and he doesn't need to believe in or change a thing.
Posted by Paul in Mesa on November 8, 2012 at 12:00 PM · Report this
98
"She flipped out and has threatened to force all our mutual friends to pick her over me."

Seems like a great way to get rid of extraneous second-rate "friends".
Posted by something on November 8, 2012 at 2:45 PM · Report this
sissoucat 99
@94 - I'm with you in spirit, although not in words, because my experience of religious people is not as polarizing as yours. Most European religious people are pretty discreet on their religious beliefs and don't proselytize - while I gather many American religious people are a pain in the ass. Dubyah springs to mind.

I won't call some ridiculous ideas "ridiculous" when I see they mean so much to the people who hold them, as long as they don't try force me into sharing them.

Some people, including me sometimes, need some ridiculous ideas to help them stand day-to-day life. As long as those ideas do not foster acts or words that hurt others - why should we intervene ?

Prime example : Santa Claus. I let my kids believe in Santa if they want. I never tell them that he positively exists, and I often mention I never saw him myself. By the way I think the American NASA tracking of Santa Claus is way overboard - it's positively ridiculous. But hey, to each his own ; in Europe most people don't know your space agency tracks child tales, so everything's all right. The day one of my children told me Santa doesn't exist, I answered back, OK, you've found out that by yourself, good job, but don't spoil the fun for the younger ones. Let them enjoy it, then question it, at their own pace.

Ridiculous ideas are not always bad for one's health.
Posted by sissoucat on November 8, 2012 at 5:38 PM · Report this
100
I'm starting to think it's way more common than people realize for men to like being pegged.
Posted by hurrdahurr on November 8, 2012 at 5:59 PM · Report this
101
Myd,

No answer is a bad answer. The right answer is I remind you of your molestation by an older male relative. That's why you always attack me when I show appreciation for a younger woman.

Posted by Hunter78 on November 8, 2012 at 6:00 PM · Report this
102
I love me some Red Sea Pedestrians, and the last writer might enjoy listening with his ears open: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MIj5ilCK…
Posted by bmonteith on November 8, 2012 at 6:48 PM · Report this
shw3nn 103
@99 First of all, religion does foster acts and words that hurt others. Even Europeans see that happening. I don't think you can plead ignorance of this just because it isn't happening next to you on the bus.

Second, I think children are a special case.

I would be very interested in knowing some other example you can think of, non religious, of an adult having an ridiculous idea where you shouldn't point out that it is a ridiculous idea. Where you should pretend like the ridiculous idea is valid and as likely as not.

I am not claiming we should all be Lt. Cmdr. I actually have ridiculous ideas, myself. Data. But, if somebody points out that it's a ridiculous idea, I don't whinge.
Posted by shw3nn on November 8, 2012 at 8:17 PM · Report this
104
@103:
It is one thing to point out that organised religion has hurt and continues to hurt a lot of people. Most religious people I know wouldn't disagree with that.

But there are a lot of religious people who don't hurt anyone else by believing what they believe. You don't have to tell them every time you see them that believing in higher beings is ridiculous. That is a case for "live and let live".
Posted by migrationist on November 8, 2012 at 10:23 PM · Report this
105
To anyone wanting to donate to help the Ali Forney Center recover from Sandy, here is the address.
Ali Forney Center/ATTN: Andria Ottley,
224 West 35th St,
Suite 1500
NY,NY 10001
Helping homeless gay kids that have been tossed out on their ear by hate filled, homophobic parents would be a wonderful way to celebrate winning marriage equality in three more states.
Posted by deanoburger on November 8, 2012 at 11:36 PM · Report this
106
@104 No, not every time I see them. But if they bring it up in conversation, I see no reason to kowtow to the assumption that supernatural rationale deserves any respect. This need not be done rudely. For example, if my Christian friend remarks about how her belief in the Bible has influenced her life, I might say something about how I can empathize with her experience, but have had my own similar experiences without any supernatural force involved. Or if someone says they hold a political belief due to the Bible, I respectfully say, "I'm an atheist and so that doesn't convince me. The kinds of things that would convince me are ..." Religious people are still people, obviously, so you relate to them as to anyone. But if religion comes up, you can politely let them know that you don't believe in god so let's stick to secular reasoning. There is no need to pretend religious reasons (for faith, or policy) are either unique to the faithful (ie everyone has numinary experiences) or valid for constructing an argument. Simply asking for a secular discussion is pretty powerful over the long-run.
Posted by wxPDX on November 9, 2012 at 12:13 AM · Report this
107
@106:
I completely agree with you.
But I do not agree with #103´s reply to #99.
Posted by migrationist on November 9, 2012 at 2:13 AM · Report this
mydriasis 108
1. Wow, there sure are a lot of professional psychiatrists on here unethically diagnosing someone they've never met.

Oh, wait, it's just douchebags using a DSM diagnosis as a perjorative. Nevermind, carry on.

2. Re: religious people being in-your-face. I think that's largely an American phenom at this point in history. I know a few people who are religious and they keep that shit to themselves.
Posted by mydriasis on November 9, 2012 at 5:04 AM · Report this
shw3nn 109
@104 You think that is what I am proposing? If somebody believes in religion, you should tell them that religion is ridiculous every time you see them? That is what you understood my point to be?

Really?

Your are so off base, I wonder if it's intentional. Hell, why not go further? Why not claim that I'm advocating setting up an automated call system that calls believers every night after dinner to remind them that I think their beliefs are ridiculous?

Or we can be honest about the exact situation we're discussing, here.

If the subject of religion comes up on a column of a known atheist, other atheist get to express their thoughts about religion clearly and honestly in the comment section. We are going to say exactly what we think about religion.

You are welcome to disagree. You are welcome to tell us exactly why you think we are wrong about it. You are similarly welcome to just ignore us.

But we aren't going to censor ourselves to help others protect their seemingly delicate illusions about the universe. Please stop asking. No can do.
Posted by shw3nn on November 9, 2012 at 7:45 AM · Report this
shw3nn 110
@104 You think that is what I am proposing? If somebody believes in religion, you should tell them that religion is ridiculous every time you see them? That is what you understood my point to be?

Really?

You are so off base, I wonder if it's intentional. Hell, why not go further? Why not claim that I'm advocating setting up an automated call system that calls believers every night after dinner to remind them that I think their beliefs are ridiculous?

Or we can be honest about the exact situation we're discussing, here.

If the subject of religion comes up on a column of a known atheist, other atheist get to express their thoughts about religion clearly and honestly in the comment section. We are going to say exactly what we think about religion.

You are welcome to disagree. You are welcome to tell us exactly why you think we are wrong about it. You are similarly welcome to just ignore us.

But we aren't going to censor ourselves to help others protect their seemingly delicate illusions about the universe. Please stop asking. No can do.
Posted by shw3nn on November 9, 2012 at 7:46 AM · Report this
shw3nn 111
@101 "The right answer is I remind you of your molestation by an older male relative."

You like to find women who were sexually abused and bring it up, repeatedly. That is your thing. Sometimes, maybe because you get self-conscious about it, you put a lot of effort into justifying it. You'll explain why you find it a moral imperative to mention that the person you're talking to was raped. Sometimes you do it as a complete non-sequitur, like you're continuing a conversation you were having in your mind, like here.

It is super creepy, either way.

Posted by shw3nn on November 9, 2012 at 8:40 AM · Report this
112
@shw3nn:
If you are so sensitive to me disagreeing with your post, maybe you should post more clearly.

What you said in post 103, replying to sissoucat @99, is not what you are saying @109/110.
Posted by migrationist on November 9, 2012 at 9:10 AM · Report this
113
Dan, I love you for reminding NWATB that his "Latin" boy might well be into him after all. If the kid loves sucking an older guy's cock as much as NWATB suggests, there might be another reason why he keeps running off as soon as he's finished eating: accepting that you're into dudes is one thing; accepting that you're into bearish types who are enough to resemble your father is more complicated. That NWATB's "is under no illusion" that he's what the kid is looking for reiterates the difficulty on another level. Digging on older guys is seen as abnormal even among gay men, which means the kid has to come out twice: once for being gay, and again for wanting to suck bear cock. Maybe that's why he's running away so quickly after sex? Maybe he's just not ready to swallow all of the ways that he isn't normal just yet.

(PS - White folks: please abandon the word "Latin" as a descriptor of brown people with Spanish surnames. Some of us are indeed spicy lovers, but using this word makes you sound like "chips and salZa" hicks from Seattle where sensitivity to racial difference cannot overcome a flavorless, yet deeply ingrained laundry list of demeaning clichés. "Oh-lay!")
Posted by Carlos Marx on November 9, 2012 at 9:33 AM · Report this
114
Dan, I love you for reminding NWATB that his "Latin" boy might well be into him after all. If the kid loves sucking an older guy's cock as much as NWATB suggests, there might be another reason why he keeps running off as soon as he's finished eating: accepting that you're into dudes is one thing; accepting that you're into bearish types who are enough to resemble your father is more complicated. That NWATB's "is under no illusion" that he's what the kid is looking for reiterates the difficulty on another level. Digging on older guys is seen as abnormal even among gay men, which means the kid has to come out twice: once for being gay, and again for wanting to suck bear cock. Maybe that's why he's running away so quickly after sex? Maybe he's just not ready to swallow all of the ways that he isn't normal just yet.

(PS - White folks: please abandon the word "Latin" as a descriptor of brown people with Spanish surnames. Some of us are indeed spicy lovers, but using this word makes you sound like "chips and salZa" hicks from Seattle where sensitivity to racial difference cannot overcome a flavorless, yet deeply ingrained laundry list of demeaning clichés. "Oh-lay!")
Posted by Carlos Marx on November 9, 2012 at 9:36 AM · Report this
AFinch 115
@108 - I did not say the LW's ex is bpd, I said I'd been with such a person, and yes, they are brutally, if completely unintentionally, emotionally abusive and destructive. It's not an "unfair" or unreasonable reaction to have negative feelings toward people who treat you the way BPD folks do. It's a weak/wastebasket diagnosis, but it might fit...or she just might be immature. Doesn't matter the reason for the emotional blackmail, the response is the same.

Proselytizers are quite annoying no matter what their cause.
Posted by AFinch on November 9, 2012 at 11:29 AM · Report this
Bonefish 116
112: It was pretty clear to me that he wasn't advocating for atheists to tap unassuming religious people on the shoulder and berate them at every opportunity. But when religious people bring up their beliefs, either in an argument or for validation or just to give us what they think is "food for thought," we shouldn't have to treat those beliefs with any more credibility than they've legitimately earned. Which isn't much.

This isn't picking on religious people; it's just refusing to cater to them.
Posted by Bonefish http://5bmisc.blogspot.com/ on November 9, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
sissoucat 117
@shw3nn "First of all, religion does foster acts and words that hurt others. Even Europeans see that happening."

I live in an European non-religious country (check my profile), so I can't talk for places like Ireland or Poland. But in my country, the only ones I've ever seen hurt by religious matters are the religious people themselves - who are pretty intense about it and who really hate seeing their chiefs disagree. Atheists have no care for religious people and their religious agenda (and religions are not tax-exempted, by the way). Sure some religious people did protest lately against same-sex marriage, but they're not using hate speech in their protests. Nor saying "it's unholy" or any other religious words that would cause the majority of the passers-by to shut their ears and walk faster, to avoid the weirdos.

Now if you're talking about fanatism and terrorism - it has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with power, violence and manipulation and pockets of deep poverty. Religion may be used by fanatists to promote murders, but in previous decades they used nihilism or a number of atheist philosophies. No established religion in Europe ever calls for violence nor uses hate speech. Including Islam.

"I would be very interested in knowing some other example you can think of, non religious, of an adult having an ridiculous idea where you shouldn't point out that it is a ridiculous idea."

Some years ago I was driven home by a colleague, after work. It was pretty hot and I opened my window a bit (the AC was not working). She asked me to close it, because she was afraid that pebbles would come inside the car, through the window, and hurt us. She told me it had happened to her. She was driving and getting tense. I closed my window.
More...
Posted by sissoucat on November 9, 2012 at 1:21 PM · Report this
sissoucat 118
@111

Hunter is one of our resident trolls. Mostly he's just too bored.
Posted by sissoucat on November 9, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
119
@18
I really enjoyed your comment and it hit the nail on the head for me. I reposted it on Facebook and credited you.
Posted by tobesthewonderdog on November 9, 2012 at 1:36 PM · Report this
120
Ms Sissou @99 - How on earth is it possible to stake out any Santa-neutral ground these days? Lucky you. Around here, not actively participating in the perpetuation of the myth is practically considered abusive. It seems that, as more of the flaws become obvious and the classism shows more clearly, there's almost a doubling down on Santa fanaticism.

I don't think it's the best example for your point, though. Indoctrination requires active and deliberate lies, and the victims generally lack the reasoning skills for there to be a reasonable expectation of a rational rejection. Or do you maintain that religious instruction is equally insincere, which would make your case more consistent?
Posted by vennominon on November 9, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
121
I'll have what Dan's having.
Posted by cockyballsup on November 10, 2012 at 9:35 AM · Report this
122
I'm a bit surprised at you, Dan. Nothing in the bear's account of his liaison suggests that his Dominican lad is necessarily a closeted gay person, or that he's in a process of coming out. You know better than most that there are lots of men out there who have sex with other men but absolutely do not consider themselves gay, aren't looking for emotional relationships with men, and may not even self-identify as bi. Let's not make assumptions; it's possible he just likes sucking cock!
Posted by garryo on November 10, 2012 at 10:34 AM · Report this
sissoucat 123
@120

I'm not sure I'm getting your meaning re : Santa Claus. I do give my kids Xmas presents that they find under the tree on Xmas morning. I call them "Oh, look what happened ! Presents !". They answer : "Santa came !"; I ask : "I didn't see him, did you ?" and they : "Sure, he came at school. Santa came ! I knew he would !" Is that what you would call Santa-neutral ? It's pretty easy, kids like to talk more than listen, and only hear what they want to hear.

Religious instruction for kids is equally insincere, sure.

I've never seen religious instructors for kids delve into the Christian history, nor into the mystery of Faith.

It's always "Poor baby Jesus, bad king Herod wanted him dead". The massacre of Béziers, with the abbot saying "Kill them all, God will know his own" should be discussed right after that, don't you think ? Babies were killed too there. But trust me, it's not.

It's always "Jesus believes in you, how could you not believe in him". It's never "Faith is based on Reason, Grace and Personal Will. For Grace and Personal Will, I can explain, but for Reason, huh. Thomas of Aquino did find 5 ways in which Reason leads to the existence of God, but science has voided them all since. Huh. So I never understood it myself, and I'm happy to believe Faith is based on Reason, because I've been told so, but I've never understood that myself and neither will you ever".
Posted by sissoucat on November 10, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
sissoucat 124
@120

I'm not sure I'm getting your meaning re : Santa Claus. I do give my kids Xmas presents that they find under the tree on Xmas morning. I call them "Oh, look what happened ! Presents !". They answer : "Santa came !"; I ask : "I didn't see him, did you ?" and they : "Sure, he came at school. Santa came ! I knew he would !" Is that what you would call Santa-neutral ? It's pretty easy, kids like to talk more than listen, and only hear what they want to hear.

Religious instruction for kids is equally insincere, sure. For example, I've never seen religious instructors for kids delve into Christian history, nor into the mystery of Faith.

It's always "Poor baby Jesus, bad king Herod wanted him dead". The massacre of Béziers, with the abbot saying "Kill them all, God will know his own" should be discussed right after that, don't you think ? Babies were killed too there. Not discussing Christian deliberate killings of babies for religious reasons, whenever Bad Herod is mentioned, is insincere.

It's always "Jesus believes in you, how could you not believe in him". It's never "Faith is based on Reason, Grace and Personal Will. For Grace and Personal Will, I can explain, but for Reason, huh. Thomas of Aquino did find 5 ways in which Reason leads to the existence of God, but science has voided them all since. Huh. So I never understood it myself, and I'm happy to believe Faith is based on Reason, because I've been told so, but I've never understood that myself and neither will you ever". Kids are manipulated by adults into faith - because it's "so much easier". That's insincere.
Posted by sissoucat on November 10, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
sissoucat 125
Oh shit, sorry for the double posting.
Posted by sissoucat on November 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
126
Ms Sissou - Well, you wouldn't be called abusive if you didn't give them the option. Around here, many parents are severely castigated for not actively advancing the lie instead of letting it be children-driven. How else do we get that ridiculous NASA tracking?

As for religious instruction, it may be ill-founded,
but I've assumed that at least some people genuinely believe, even if they tailor their instruction to delay the onset of skepticism. After all, one doesn't know any otherwise rational adults who suddenly start believing in Santa Claus.
Posted by vennominon on November 10, 2012 at 3:33 PM · Report this
127
My atheism comes from a profound disinterest in the subject. I just don't care. I don't believe, I never have believed - even when I was a little kid in Catholic school I didn't believe, and figured nobody else did either, really - and I have no desire to believe. It's never been anything to me but a nuisance, and once I became an adult and able to make my own religious choices, it went the way of other nuisances, like wearing a hat and gloves when I went downtown. Or pantyhose, or nail polish. Not interested, a little amazed that other people are, but it's none of my business until you start trying to push it on me.
Posted by agony on November 10, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
128
@20 sissoucat: Sorry I missed your post!
Yeah----isn't it a relief?
One, that the election and all its mudslinging is over, and
Two, that the Democrats beat all obstacles to defeat backwards
thinking Rethugs and their Tea Party puppets!!
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 10, 2012 at 10:17 PM · Report this
129
The non sequiturs are often refreshing. Too many threads here become stale, bloated, and polemic by the volume pumpers.

Posted by Hunter78 on November 11, 2012 at 6:35 AM · Report this
130
Myd,

I didn't look it up anywhere. I've just seen more life than you.
Posted by Hunter78 on November 11, 2012 at 6:59 AM · Report this
131
NWATB,

You like his cock-sucking. You don't like the lack of movement in the relationship. You're not going to get what you want there-- a bf. Try changing the direction. Explore the dominance game. Make him your sex slave. If he doesn't like it, he can opt out, and the campfire rule is not badly bruised. If he does like it, reassess.
Posted by Hunter78 on November 11, 2012 at 7:18 AM · Report this
132
It is interesting to me that in response to a previous letter some time ago on an 18 year old dating a 33 year old, there was a huge discussion regarding the age-inappropriateness of that relationship. (I was of the opinion that there was nothing wrong with it, but most posters were judgmental about it. That time Dan had responded that there must be something mentally off about a 33 year old wanting to be with an 18 year old.) Here nobody has brought it up in the context of the 44 y/o and the 18 y/o Latino guy. I wonder why? Is it because Dan set the tone of his response to be a non-judgmental one? Is it because Latinos are perceived differently?
Posted by cockyballsup on November 11, 2012 at 8:34 AM · Report this
133
132-- As I recall, the letter you refer to from some time ago was from the younger party and involved a question about the older party's desire for emotional relationships with younger. I'm uncertain of the details, but I believe the difference is there. It makes sense to me for sexual desire to be about sexual desire. I see nothing wrong with that. I suppose I do get a bit judgmental about someone older who's unable (unwilling?) to form stable relationships with someone their own age.
Posted by Crinoline on November 11, 2012 at 1:43 PM · Report this
mydriasis 134
@ cocky

I think there's a big difference between a serious relationship and fuck buddies.

A 40 year old who wants to fuck a 20 year old? That's nature. A 40 year old who wants a relationship with a 20 year old? That's a 40 year old who either doesn't care about the partner for anything but sex OR who is developmentally impaired.

Rough approximation, haters.
Posted by mydriasis on November 11, 2012 at 1:56 PM · Report this
135
I think Ms Crinoline comes a little closer to the manufacturer's suggested retail price without going over. But having done this one from both sides and peers as well, I suppose a recusal is in order.

Posted by vennominon on November 11, 2012 at 5:47 PM · Report this
nocutename 136
@132 (cockyballsup): I think the difference is that in this case, the lw is admitting to several things the other one wasn't: he isn't interested in just sex, no matter how hot the 18-year-old is, and would rather call the whole thing off if he can't find a way to turn it into a more solid relationship (and though Dan addressed his point that he doubts that his age and body type are all that appealing to an attractive younger man, it's unclear whether he even wants any kind of relationship with this particular 19-year-old) and he is concerned that he does right somehow by this much younger man. He wants to see the younger man live a more open life.

I don't see anything in this letter that suggests that the lw or any of us view Latinos any differently than any one else.
Posted by nocutename on November 11, 2012 at 6:06 PM · Report this
seandr 137
@108: Are you reacting defensively?

It would be unethical, according to the relevant professional associations, for a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist to give a diagnosis in the SLOG comments, but I am neither, so I don't see how using clinical terminology is any more problematic than terms like "douchebag", "asshole", or "crazy".

As I said, it's just a guess, but everything the letter writer mentions is classic borderline behavior (this is definitely not just a case of immaturity). If LW Googles the phrase, I'll bet he'd come away with a clear and helpful understanding of the difficulties he experienced in this relationship, why he's having so much trouble extracting himself from it, and how to avoid getting enmeshed with women like her in the future.

On the plus side, all that borderline mind-fuckery usually comes with some intensely hot sex.
Posted by seandr on November 11, 2012 at 9:41 PM · Report this
seandr 138
@sissoucat, @vennominon:

I have a sister in-law from England who was fanatical in her belief that participating in the Santa myth was wrong because it was a lie(!) and it taught her children religious belief systems.

Based on my experience with our kids, I would argue the opposite - by refusing to participate in Santa, she had robbed her children of a wonderful lesson in skepticism.

The Santa progression - believing in something dearly, having one's belief questioned (usually by savvy peers), evaluating the evidence, and then ultimately rejecting the myth and joining the non-believers, is a perfect model of how liberal, scientific thought emerged, and how it operates. I can't think of a better way to initiate children into atheism and skepticism.

We played the whole Christmas thing up and everyone had a lot of fun with it. Neither of our kids believe in god.
Posted by seandr on November 11, 2012 at 10:35 PM · Report this
sissoucat 139
@seandr

Yep. Santa is a wonderful thinking oportunity :-)

I'm trying to give them the full of it. I took time before confirming its inexistence to the eldest. What I wrote @99 is inaccurate - I did confirm the very day he told me he was going to tell the youngest ones of his suspicions, but he had been probing around for months before that, with no better results than "I don't know, I never saw Santa myself, make your own opinion" and "Ah, Xmas presents are so mysterious...".

I also tell them from the start that Santa doesn't give presents to adults. Adults give presents to each other at Xmas, to remember how it was when they were kids.

Now only my six-year-old doesn't know. He's questionning the thing. He's also questionning the Tooth Fairy (in France it's the Little Mouse). He's not definite yet about either. I think he's balancing between being pretty interested in knowing the gifts' actual origin, and desiring to maintain the status quo, to get the gifts regardless. He's building his own moral sense, greed vs knowledge. It's fascinating.
Posted by sissoucat on November 12, 2012 at 2:03 AM · Report this
mydriasis 140
"so I don't see how using clinical terminology is any more problematic than terms like "douchebag", "asshole", or "crazy""

You don't?
You can't see the difference between using clinical termonolgy as a perjorative and using a perjorative as a perjorative? Do you think it's okay to call someone or something 'retarded'? What about using racial stereotypes as insults? Are those okay?
Posted by mydriasis on November 12, 2012 at 7:11 AM · Report this
141
What about geriatric?
Posted by Hunter78 on November 12, 2012 at 7:19 AM · Report this
seandr 142
@140: "You can't see the difference between using clinical termonolgy as a perjorative and using a perjorative as a perjorative?"

I'm using the term here as a descriptive, not a pejorative. I'm theorizing that this woman may actually have borderline personality disorder. How am I supposed to say she has borderline personality disorder without using that terminology? Why do you think I should be obliged to do so?

Do you think it's okay to call someone or something 'retarded'?

If we're talking about someone who meets the clinical criteria for mental retardation, or appears to, then yes, it's OK, and certainly better than referring to them as "idiot", "moron", etc.

What about using racial stereotypes as insults? Are those okay?

Huh? If you want an analogy involving race, essentially, you are arguing that I shouldn't use the terms "black" or "African American" to describe people who appear to be black or African American.
Posted by seandr on November 12, 2012 at 9:24 AM · Report this
mydriasis 143
@seandr

So look, either you're using it as a perjorative (which you seem to be tacitly agreeing is wrong) or you're using it as a descriptive (which you're not qualified to do).
Posted by mydriasis on November 12, 2012 at 10:03 AM · Report this
AFinch 144
@134 - I think you have the age issue framed perfectly.

@137 On the plus side, all that borderline mind-fuckery usually comes with some intensely hot sex.

...and that is how one gets lured in! DAHMIKIJK. In the end, it still isn't enough.
Posted by AFinch on November 12, 2012 at 11:03 AM · Report this
seandr 145
@mydriasis: "or you're using it as a descriptive (which you're not qualified to do)"

Anyone can use the DSM to make an educated guess about a person's mental health, just as they can read any of the thousands of publicly available medical resources and make an educated guess about whether someone has a broken leg or might have breast cancer.

People do this all the time, and that's a good thing - that's usually the first step towards seeking professional treatment.

I'm not a licensed psychotherapist, I haven't misrepresented myself as such, and I'm not giving a formal diagnosis. I'm just offering my opinion (carefully qualified as a "guess"), which is more or less what we commenters do in response to the variety of mental and physical maladies that are presented here in Savage Love. I like to think that LWs who read the comments occasionally find something helpful here.

If you think my opinion is wrong, feel free to dispute it. Nevertheless, I'm going to continue offering my opinions based on the limited information these letters provide, with or without the relevant professional certifications, like everyone else here (Dan included).
Posted by seandr on November 12, 2012 at 12:15 PM · Report this
146
Dr Sean - Having spent the day sorting through, among other things, a number of books that were given to my father as a child, I feel especially confident in saying that one need not look so far afield as S. Claus to find grounds for skepticism.

Normally, I could live and let live on the question, but people get way too obnoxious about it. My favourite nephew was probably five years old when he cross-examined the nonsense completely out of one of my most disliked relations, who'd been spouting non-stop for some time.

My best friend won't mind my relating that she was actually terrified of S.C. when she was a child. Her parents played up the Big Brother aspect.

The one good thing about Santa is that I finally agree with Church Lady and lift one eyebrow in wondering whether or not it's a coincidence that Santa is an anagram of... SATAN?!?
Posted by vennominon on November 12, 2012 at 3:54 PM · Report this
seandr 147
@vennominon:
LOL at the Church Lady reference.

We never much mentioned the whole "sees you when you're sleeping, knows when your awake" bit, given its obvious potential to traumatize.

There was just too much fun in all of it for us to pass up - bringing home the tree, the corny old Christmas specials, the lights (especially appreciated in the dark months of Seattle's winter), the decorations, the presents that magically appear, the remaining crumbs of the cookies left for Santa, the gnawed stubs of carrots left for the reindeer, the kids trying to roust me from bed so they could begin opening presents.

As it turns out, my oldest discovered the presents hidden in a closet one year, but she still played along with the ruse for a couple of years without letting on that she knew.
Posted by seandr on November 12, 2012 at 5:55 PM · Report this
Basileus 148
Interesting that you know of Antinous, and the cult Hadrian founded over him. From my research it lasted in Egypt (in a smaller form) right up until Egypt was taken over by Islam.

As for why Hadrian went so overboard, no one really knows what happened on that Nile cruise. It should be noted that Hadrian's wife was ALSO on that cruise. Murder, suicide or accident have all been posited. My guess is that Antinous was growing older and either Hadrian started losing interest, or more likely, he felt he couldn't continue that particular relationship with a full grown man, which was frowned upon in Roman Society. So I think Antinious killed himself.
Posted by Basileus on November 12, 2012 at 6:49 PM · Report this
mydriasis 149
@ seandr

Anyone can do whatever they want - doesn't make it a good idea.

"People do this all the time, and that's a good thing - that's usually the first step towards seeking professional treatment."

Agree to disagree. If you have evidence for that statement I'd love to see it, it certainly doesn't make any logical sense to my mind.

I think there's ways to hypothesize about someone's behaviour without pseudo-diagnosing them, especially when you're talking about a diagnosis like BPD. That's the single most stigmatizing clinical diagnosis that exists in the psych world.

So for example if someone says "I've been coughing and coughing lately" and I say "oh maybe you have some kind of infection - I'd go to the doctor if I were you." I think that's appropriate and may be helpful.

If instead I said "Oh wow, you know, my ex has the exact same symtoms and it turned out to be pneumocystis pneumonia*, that's probably what you have." I think that would be a pretty fucking irresponsible thing for me to say, even if that person knows I'm not a doctor.

*For anyone who isn't familiar and wants to know why I chose that specific diagnosis as an apt analogy, here's a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pneumocysti…
Posted by mydriasis on November 12, 2012 at 8:06 PM · Report this
seandr 150
@mydriasis: "BPD. That's the single most stigmatizing clinical diagnosis that exists in the psych world."

LOL. The most stigmatizing diagnosis is pedophilia by a mile (last I checked there is no public registry for borderlines, although perhaps there should be). Schizophrenia, mental retardation, autism, and antisocial personality disorder aren't so hot either.

In any case, I would never publicly label a person by name with BPD. LW's ex is anonymous, and I'm assuming she will remain anonymous, in which case, no individual has been stigmatized by my amateur speculation.

As for the stigma of BPD, it has been well earned. Sure, not every man or woman with the diagnosis is abusive - some are misdiagnosed, some respond to treatment, some are only on the spectrum. With BPD or any other psychopathology that tends to cause people to devastate other people, I can sympathize with the fact that abusers often can't necessarily help it (in many cases, they were abused themselves), but ultimately, my ethics place a priority on their current and potential victims. Just like non-offending pedophiles are advised to avoid being around kids, classic borderlines should probably be advised to stay out of romantic relationships, or short of that, inform potential partners about their disorder.

As for sharing medical tips, I guess we travel in different circles. I've been on the giving and receiving end of lots of medical insights and anecdotes with friends and acquaintances, and I see nothing irresponsible about that. Quite the opposite.

I also know of many people who have received horrible care from incompetent or negligent doctors, or from the many quasi-medical snake oil peddlers out there. If you have a serious and/or complex health issue going on, I think you'd be a fool to blindly trust a doctor you know nothing about who happens to be on your insurance panel without checking their advice against the wealth of medical information that is literally at your finger tips, or at least against the experience of others who have been through it, directly or indirectly.

I could talk your ear off about meniscus tears.
More...
Posted by seandr on November 12, 2012 at 10:13 PM · Report this
mydriasis 151
@seandr

You're right about pedophilia (although 9 times out of 10 that's a legal issue, not a psych one) and there's no registry for pedophiles (that I know of) there's a registry for sex offenders. Big difference (for better or worse).

It's documented that BPD is more stigmatized than schizophrenia, I can find you studies if you like. Ditto mental retardation and autism. Since antisocial is cluster B we're really talking about six of one half dozen of the other at that point.

We do run in different circles, for sure. The patients who I see who vet their doctors and sit there googling and self diagnosing usually just waste their and everyone else's time. Just last night I had to answer a neverending stream of irrelevent questions for someone who thinks the same way you do.

*shrug*
Posted by mydriasis on November 13, 2012 at 3:54 AM · Report this
152
Seandr, Mydriasis and others-- I hope you don't mind if I spin off on the borderline subject for a moment. I'd like your opinions.

Does it ever happen that a patient walks into a psychologist or psychiatrist's office with a problem and gets diagnosed with narcissism or hysteria or some other borderline personality disorder? I ask because, in my experience, the diagnoses are always made on the person who's not there. The way it goes for me and a number of folks I know is that the identified patient goes in with symptoms of depression or some difficulty dealing with the people around him/her. It's a problem forming friendships or keeping a job or staying in a relationship. The professional listens carefully and does a workup which includes asking about upbringing, and early experiences and current ones, etc. After a time, the professional pronounces someone ELSE in the patient's life as having a borderline disorder. That could be that the patient's mother is a narcissist or that the wife is a hysteric. Maybe the boss sounds like a sociopath. (I'm haven't reviewed these terms so don't know if I'm getting them right.) Then the professional works on helping the identified patient deal with that circumstance. The wife or mother or boss is never seen by the professional.
Posted by Crinoline on November 13, 2012 at 4:15 AM · Report this
153
@134, so it is okay for an older guy and an 18 year old to use each other for sex only but it is an unacceptable sign of developmental impairment for the older guy to want something more intimate?

By the way, what is so terrible about someone being a little developmentally impaired in this context? We don't judge people for other impairments, but as soon as sex is involved, it pushes a lot of people's buttons. In age-discordant relationships, I'd say all that matters if the feelings are mutual.
Posted by cockyballsup on November 13, 2012 at 8:16 AM · Report this
154
Speaking as someone who actually DOES believe in reincarnation...there can be no "strong evidence" for it...at least, not from the point of view of the general public.

Here's how it works: say you and I knew each other in a past life. Say we both start to remember it, and remember specific events from that life. Say you start telling me about those events, and you tell me something very specific that I had already remembered but hadn't spoken aloud. Say I then do the same for you. Viola! Evidence! But as far as any third party to this is concerned, there's no compelling reason to believe that the two of us are telling the truth. So unless you've actually had this happen to you, there's no good reason to believe it. Sorry.
Posted by laurelgardner http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5877570 on November 13, 2012 at 8:25 AM · Report this
155
153 Cocky-- In my world, people run around judging others for their impairments right and left and whether those impairments have anything to do with sex. Have trouble staying awake in algebra class? Lost your job for mouthing off to the boss? Got drunk and stumbled over your host's priceless crystal punch bowl? Don't maintain a sparkling clean home? Prefer Desperate Housewives to Downton Abbey? Your hydrangea blooms aren't as good as the neighbors'? Judge. Judge. Judge. Happens all the time.

As for the disparate age relationships, there's a particular sort I'm willing to be judgmental about. That's the one where the more powerful is taking advantage of the less. It's the one where the older's impairment takes the form of only being capable of being in a relationship with someone who holds them in awe.
Posted by Crinoline on November 13, 2012 at 8:36 AM · Report this
seandr 156
@Crinoline: Being in a close relationship with a borderline can push a person into therapy, and some borderlines go through much of their life convinced they don't have a problem, so I'd guess the scenario you laid out isn't uncommon.

@mydriasis: I've been informed by my local expert (who actually is qualified to give the diagnosis) that I've gone too far by suggesting BPDs in general shouldn't be in relationships.
Posted by seandr on November 13, 2012 at 9:14 AM · Report this
157
@sissou: Your method of addressing the Santa Claus issue with your kids is really cute. I think I'll borrow it if I have any.
Posted by repete on November 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM · Report this
158
@Cockyballsup:
I don't find age-differences attractive at all. That makes it so much harder when older guys (like 10 to 20 years older) hit on me, and just don't understand that I am not interested.
I don't judge people who are happy in such relationships - unless a 38 year old guy tells me how his 18 year old girlfriend is really mature and thinks such profound thoughts- until I meet her and realise she is just repeating what he is saying.

@Crinoline:
Yes, when a friend of mine was hospitalised with severe depression, her therapist suggested her husband might have high-functioning Aspergers' explaining his complete lack of regard for her exhaustion due to a baby, a toddler and a full-time job. The therapist talked then to her and her husband giving them tips how to better discuss feelings etc. It worked - at least for a while.
Posted by migrationist on November 13, 2012 at 11:21 AM · Report this
AFinch 159
@152 & @156 - my experience with a "borderline" was exactly this. She persuaded me I was a narcissist, and I did exactly my myd is complaining about: I read the DSM and self-diagnosed, and immediately checked into a therapist's office. My therapist laughed, and let me know that act pretty much demonstrated I was not a narcissist. I could not, except under extreme duress, get my 'borderline' to get into joint therapy - one or two sessions and she did an exceptional job of snowing the therapist. My therapist declined to give an armchair diagnosis, but instead simply worked on getting me to a place where I was not inclined to be a victim of a borderline. I feel kinda bad for the next guy - she got pregnant immediately.
Posted by AFinch on November 13, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
160
@159:
Feel less sorry for the guy, and more sorry for the baby: it's no fun to be the child of a person with borderline syndrome.
Posted by migrationist on November 13, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
nocutename 161
@158 (migrationist): The question cockyballsup asked wasn't whether or not you yourself understand the appeal of a relationship that spans a lot of years. You are free to be attracted to whomever you want and to use whatever criteria you choose about who is a suitable partner for you. But he was asking why everyone gets judgmental when it comes to sexual realtionships with a big age discrepancy.

I think Crinoline, @ 155 hits it on the head: we typically presume that an older, more experienced person is somehow manipulating, taking advantage of, or using the younger one in such relationships. Certainly the potential exists for an older, more experienced partner to take advantage of the youth and naivete of the younger one, and clearly in cases of an unequal power-dynamic (employer/employee, teacher/student, spiritual adviser/member of the flock) it is either downright unethical or illegal, or at the least queasy and questionable for such relationships to occur. But there are also a lot of relationships in which the younger, cuter, sexier person is manipulating the older person.

And there are still plenty of honest, everyone's-eyes-wide-open, no one-manipulating-anyone-else pairings between partners with great age discrepancies.

What makes this letter stand out is that the lw doesn't appear to want to take advantage of the younger, more traditionally hot participant, and indeed, isn't finding the guy's youth and physical hotness alone compelling enough to continue this lopsided match. He doesn't want to use, and he isn't being used.

The fact that people are having a hard time believing that an older, bearish guy couldn't legitimately not be interested in quick, no-strings sex offered by a hot much younger guy is what is sad to me.
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Posted by nocutename on November 13, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
162
What's wrong with diagnosing BPD? Griz is a clear case.
Posted by Hunter78 on November 13, 2012 at 3:37 PM · Report this
mydriasis 163
Woo, lots of things.

1. Griz: " I ask because, in my experience, the diagnoses are always made on the person who's not there."

That hasn't been my experience.

2. cocky: "By the way, what is so terrible about someone being a little developmentally impaired in this context?"

The thing is, the 18 year old is likely developmentally on-point, so five, ten years later, she'll outstrip him. It happens constantly. It's not a value-judgement on him as a human being (although it is, in my book, a value-judgement on him as a partner, which is why I never date anyone significantly older).

3. Seandr: "I've been informed by my local expert (who actually is qualified to give the diagnosis) that I've gone too far by suggesting BPDs in general shouldn't be in relationships."

I'd agree :P

4. AFinch:

My highschool boyfriend had BPD. I have nothing but lovely feelings towards him today.

Posted by mydriasis on November 13, 2012 at 6:05 PM · Report this
164
163-My-- Could you tell me more about your experience with someone with a borderline disorder being diagnosed by a psychology professional and treated for it?

I want to believe that borderline personality disorder exists because I keep seeing people I want to diagnose as having it-- or accuse people of having it. But then I realize that they probably want to accuse me of having it, and what we've really got is an argument, not a serious psychological diagnosis. We've got 2 6 year olds squabbling, each yelling that the other is selfish because she wouldn't share her favorite toy. Each believes that "selfish" should be an objective medical term as opposed to a subjective value judgment. I've done the reading, and it makes sense to a degree, but then I wonder again if a personality disorder is just a personality.
Posted by Crinoline on November 13, 2012 at 6:47 PM · Report this
mydriasis 165
@ Crinoline

This comes back to my original point about the fact that BPD is often used a perjorative (this is a long time issue in psychiatry/medicine/etc).

BPD does certainly exist. But it doesn't exist for you to use it as an insult or a way to insult people you disagree with.
Posted by mydriasis on November 13, 2012 at 7:02 PM · Report this
166
@163 mydriasis: Okay....I'm lost here. What was the question about bipolar disorder and diagnoses? I missed something.
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 13, 2012 at 8:52 PM · Report this
mydriasis 167
@ Griz

Oops! That was Crinoline, not you! My mistake.
Posted by mydriasis on November 14, 2012 at 4:51 AM · Report this
AFinch 168
@160 - I tend to agree, and there is a family history which appears to have multi-generational aspects. My BPD was the badly abused child of a diagnosed bipolar, following which childhood she had been the victim of an extraodinarily violent crime (very nearly dead). That said, she had some remarkable survival skills. I suspect that she will break the cycle (and having seen her interactions with a nephew, I suspect she has).

@163 - while I'm quite happy for you that you've arrived at the point where you have "nothing but lovely feelings for him", I have nothing but lovely feelings that this person is no longer part of my daily life, which is not really the same thing, and they are quite as valid as your feelings. I genuinely wish her well and happiness, but any love or warmth is gone. I am grateful that the few people who knew us together were able to recognize that her trashing of me as some kind of evil abuser (pretty much the same story she gave me about her EX), was a load of manure. I'm quite certain she continued the pattern as some of the accusations were passed along, just so I'd know.
Posted by AFinch on November 14, 2012 at 7:30 AM · Report this
169
poor KINK. screw that dumb biatch and move on. you don't need that. friends will understand and if they are real friends they will stick around. pegging rules.
Posted by ribs on November 14, 2012 at 1:21 PM · Report this
mydriasis 170
@AFinch

I didn't "arrive" at that point, I've alway been there.
Posted by mydriasis on November 14, 2012 at 6:05 PM · Report this
171
My understanding is that people with personality disorders don't tend to have the self-awareness to know they need therapy or other mental help. The problem is ALWAYS someone else.
Posted by hurrdahurr on November 14, 2012 at 6:34 PM · Report this
172
@164/171

In my experience at a mental health rehab program, people with borderline personality disorder were diagnosed (directly) after a suicide attempt or after someone discovered self-mutilation or other problematic behavior and pushed them to seek help. It is also my experience that borderline personality manifests itself in the teenage/early adult years, allowing this to be the case that a family member or school employee will guide the young person towards a professional who will make the diagnosis.

I also object to tossing out psychiatric diagnoses on a message board because it perpetuates misunderstanding and misinformation about psychiatric disabilities. For the longest time, people used the term "schizophrenic" to refer to a person who was moody, because the lay public didn't know the difference between schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dissociative disorder (prev. known as multiple personalities), etc. Fortunately, more accurate language leads to better understanding, which leads to less stigma and less health care disparity for those with mental health isues.
Posted by Zarina S on November 15, 2012 at 1:52 PM · Report this
mydriasis 173
@172

Thanks for sharing :)
Posted by mydriasis on November 15, 2012 at 6:54 PM · Report this
174
Dan, I just want to say that how you handled the last letter was so great. That person was being extremely asinine and concern-trollish about your faith (or lack thereof), and you responded with excellent good humor and no anger. Kudos.
Posted by Mklein on November 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM · Report this
175
@4 Ever heard of Gandhi? He only liberated an entire nation from the clutches of a vast empire. Worthwhile enough for you?
Posted by Brie on November 17, 2012 at 5:04 PM · Report this
mydriasis 176
@175

Burn.
Posted by mydriasis on November 18, 2012 at 7:57 AM · Report this
177 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
178
I never believe in love spells until i experience Inelospelltemple, and after she cast a love spell for me, my boyfriend called me to apologize for the pain that he has caused me and till today we are living a happy family, and she brought joy to my relationship. once again thanks to Inelospellcaster for the wonderful works that she has done for me.And if you are experiencing any problem with your partner, i will advise that you contact inelospellcaster and i assure you that she will help you. Email: inelospelltemple@gmail.com
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am clone
Posted by SOIVEALLPROBLEMS on April 15, 2013 at 10:23 PM · Report this

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