Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

Ideas and Their (mis)Uses

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villageThere is a critique often leveled at my seminary, which I find often has a lot to do with why I disagree with the community opinion about a given idea. That is to condemn the idea, on the basis of it’s historical use.

In other words, for many of us, if an evil person in the past has used an idea to accomplish something bad, then it’s a bad idea, or it is at least very suspect. I find this critique ridiculous.


  • Plain reading of the scriptures has been used to justify slavery
  • Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, has encouraged women to suffer under abusive spouses as a “sacrifice”
  • International Mission has been a vehicle of cultural destruction and colonialism

And it’s used on the right as well as the left.

  • Evolution was used by Hitler to justify ethnic cleansing
  • Columbine Shooters played violent videogames

Because it is used so commonly and explicitly here where I live, it has helped me become aware of how often this sort of thinking is used generally. How often have you heard a religion condemned on the basis of religious fanatics? Or seen a political idea made into an “-ism” with the implicit understanding that the -ism is bad because of how it was used before. How often have you seen any idea anyone held compared to Hitler? (Vegitariansm? For shame!)

Almost never is it considered whether the idea itself necessarily leads to these conditions, or if the idea is being misused. It is just condemned and (usually) rejected wholesale.

This whole thing falls apart as soon as you begin to pull examples from uncontroversial issues instead of emotional ones.freeparking-200x150

  • Knives have been historically used to stab people. Don’t have them in your house
  • Many musicians have turned to addictive drugs, keep your kids away!
  • Stargazing has been the inspiration for the Zodiac and Astrology. It’s both Unscientific, and Satanic

So clearly the position is not reasonable or consistent.

Let me not demonize the people who express this sort of thinking however. I suspect that while what they say may not be rational in the strictest sense, (or even true) it may yet be valid. Suppose what they actually mean to say is “I have felt hurt, either personally or empathetically, by people who hold this idea, and as such I dislike it on an emotional level”

Well that’s a fair thing to say!

I daresay if I met someone who had been stabbed over and over again, and I learned he kept no knives in his house I would respect his decision. I would just hope he doesn’t come to my house and judge me for my knives.


Written by RyanGaffney

February 8, 2016 at 8:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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