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Peter H. Gilmore - Science and Satanism
Posted: 16 August 2007 11:50 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Premise of conversation:
Because the popular thread “Satanism and CFI” was started initially by the poster “OhioDoc” as a vehicle to have the show removed from PoI and to campaign for the future disassociation by CFI/PoI to “anything having to do with Satanism”, this thread was started to discuss the points brought up on the “Peter H. Gilmore - Science and Satanism” podcast and in general about Satanism, the Church of Satan, and it’s intellectual position in the world apart from and relating to those of the forum and of PoI and CFI.
I initiated the thread after suggesting it to a modorator in the “Satanism and CFI thread”.

Suggested resources:

1 - The podcast. If you haven’t listened to it, I don’t know why you’re posting here.
2 - The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey, The Satanic Scriptures by Peter H. Gilmore or http://www.churchofsatan.com for authentic documents pertaining to Satanism as a modern religion.

My role in the thread,as I see it:
I will do my best to clarify any points discussed about Satanism, to clarify the position of the Church of Satan, and possibly discuss aspects in detail. I will state here at the beginning that if I see a line of argument being one that is fruitless to discuss (the benefits of communism over capitalism as an example), I will decline commenting because I don’t have the time or interest. Also, it is not my intention to convert anyone to Satanism (as this is antithetical the the religion), nor am I keen on an “I’m right your wrong” conversation, unless we are discussing strictly empirical evidence and it doesn’t lapse into speculation of political/historical significance.
Occasionally I may neglect to separate statements that are solely mine from those of the Church of Satan. I am a representative of the organization, but I am also human and some of the ideas I hold aren’t the same as other members of the Church of Satan when it comes to topics that lay outside the official stated positions of the Church of Satan (i.e. the CoS has no official political position, the membership ranged from communism to fascism, though from my experience, a significant number self-identify as libertarian). Also my interest in some positions is not as great as other positions, and I may not be able to fully articulate the position of the Church on certain minutiae.  I’m a graphic designer and book publisher by vocation and do not claim to be an expert in any science. Also, there are folks who self-identify as Satanists that are either ignorant, stupid, misinformed, or use a definition of “Satanism” or “Satanist” that does not reflect the religion of Satanism. I do not speak for them, and they sure as hell don’t speak for me or the Church of Satan.

How’s that for a basis of conversation? Anyone want to modify the premise from the outset? My wording might not be perfect, this is off the top of my head.
Obviously, I’m not a moderator and cannot stop anyone from discussing anything that they want. Since I’m starting the threat, I thought it would be constructive to define it from the start.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Excellent premise, so no changes to suggest (though I’m hoping

Since I’m starting the threat…

is just a typo wink). Thanks for making the effort.Lots of interesting stuff on the website, but I only have limited time to read through it so I’m sure I’m missing some nuances. Let’s start with a few questions:

1) Vengeance and the “eye-for-an-eye” thing seems to be very important, and shows up in the “dos and don’t list” on the COS website several times. Obviously, there are lots of timeworn arguments about the usefulness of this as a principle for maintaining social order. Bloodfeuds and honor killings didn’t seem like such a great thing for the European nobility or for the Middle East today, yet they seem based on the same premise. I already mentioned why I thought your use of this strategy was counterproductive to your stated goal of clarifying COS ideas in the other thread. How would you argue that such a principle is more effective than a forgiveness principle? Try, if possible, to avoid strawmen (complete pacifism is NOT what I am suggesting, so you needn’t bother to argue against that).

2) Stupidity as a “sin.” Who decides what’s stupid? Anything you personally disagree with? Seems like this just gives you leave to label and dismiss anything you don’t like and ignore criticism, which would lead to the excessive pride that is also listed as sinful.

3) Is Doug’s characterization of COS as basically objectivism/Rayndianism with a satanic set of aesthetics and metaphors accurate?

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Posted: 16 August 2007 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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mckenzievmd - 16 August 2007 01:23 PM

Excellent premise, so no changes to suggest (though I’m hoping

Since I’m starting the threat…

is just a typo wink). Thanks for making the effort.Lots of interesting stuff on the website, but I only have limited time to read through it so I’m sure I’m missing some nuances. Let’s start with a few questions:

As an aside, to the first point - I used to run a mail order company selling books and such (being the nerdy bookish type) and I had a reputation for speedy turnaround, though not without it’s cost. One Scandinavian customer got the response “Thanks for the order, I’ll shit it to you tomorrow”. I can only hope that he understood it was a typo.

All good questions!

I WILL answer #1, but I think the second and third should be pretty easy so I want to address those first. Plus, I’m trying to watch “Enemies of Reason” and maybe get some actual work done as well. I will come back to #1 at a later time.

2) Stupidity as a “sin.” Who decides what’s stupid? Anything you personally disagree with? Seems like this just gives you leave to label and dismiss anything you don’t like and ignore criticism, which would lead to the excessive pride that is also listed as sinful.

For those playing on computers where they don’t want sites like “churchofsatan.com” to be listed in a history of surfed websites, mckenziemd is making reference to the first rule in the Nine Satanic Sins by Anton LaVey (c) 1986. To give context, I’ll quote from Peter Gilmore’s Essay “Satanism: The Feared Religion” the first essay in The Satanic Scriptures:

Since we have been issuing statements of what we are seeking, it was considered time to make a list of behaviors that we wish to see avoided in the Satanic community. Satanists acknowledge that we are human and work towards perfection, but can sometimes fall into negative patterns of action. Thus was born the list of The “Nine Satanic Sins”, guidelines for what Satanists consider to be non-productive behavior to be recognized and eliminated from one’s daily existence.

That first “sin” in full is:

1. Stupidity—The top of the list for Satanic Sins. The Cardinal Sin of Satanism. It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful. Ignorance is one thing, but our society thrives increasingly on stupidity. It depends on people going along with whatever they are told. The media promotes a cultivated stupidity as a posture that is not only acceptable but laudable. Satanists must learn to see through the tricks and cannot afford to be stupid.

I always thought that the “9 Satanic Sins” were pretty self-evident, as with the “Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth” and the “Nine Satanic Statements”. If we go with the definition “Stupidity is the quality or condition of being stupid, or lacking intelligence, as opposed to being merely ignorant or uneducated,” then it would reason (as you have) that calling “(a)nything you personally disagree with” stupid would be counterproductive. It dovetails nicely into the next few sins “Pretentiousness” and “Solipsism”. We see it referenced literally in the description for the Satanic sin of “Pretentiousness”:

Empty posturing can be most irritating and isn’t applying the cardinal rules of Lesser Magic. On equal footing with stupidity for what keeps the money in circulation these days. Everyone’s made to feel like a big shot, whether they can come up with the goods or not.

If one rejects a notion because it is contrary to a falsified “truth” than that’s pretentiousness. How one figures out what is “stupid” versus what is “intelligent” is the struggle we both probably share in life, as with most thinking people. I know I’ve held some stupid ideas in the past, and I take every reasonable effort to do away with them. Right now I’m reading “The Nurture Assumption” by Judith Rich Harris. At 3 chapters in I’m still reeling trying to figure out how, if her hypothesis is correct, it impacts my view of the world.

3) Is Doug’s characterization of COS as basically objectivism/Rayndianism with a satanic set of aesthetics and metaphors accurate?

Satanism is Satanism. There are meme’s that it shares with other philosophies, and it diverges with those same ideas at points as well. I’ll quote one Wikipedia editor here, who seems to have taken great offence to the mention of Objectivism on the Satanism entry:

I’m not certain that the comparison with Ayn Rand is deserved or welcome. Ayn Rand disapproved of violence in all forms, and would have despised Anton LaVey: she opposed mysticism and mystical practices, even in jest, and she would not have appreciated the idea of ‘ghettoising’ the country - no uninitated force. ‘Selfishness’, to an Objectivist, is more than material gain and physical enjoyment: it is creation, enlightenment, understanding, and contentedness with oneself. Additionally, Rand and Objectivists believe that all wealth should be earned: $100 tithings are out.

This must have been written before membership went up to a one time fee of $200.

Now this is one opinion from one anonymous Wiki editor, I don’t cite them as a definitive answer, but I wanted to get someone who found the association disagreeable before I posted something from a Satanist.

Churchofsatan.com features an article by a member of the hierarchy by the name of Nemo titled “Satanism and Objectivism” and it can be found here:

http://www.churchofsatan.com/Pages/SatObj.html

I was going to excerpt from it and comment on those, but I’ve run out of allowed characters on this post and want to get back to “Enemies of Reason”.

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“Our world was brutal, immoral, smug and conventional. We had unbounded contempt for all those who did not sin as we sinned.” Jim Tully Circus Parade

“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” - John Milton Aeropagitca

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Posted: 16 August 2007 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thoughtful answers. On the question of stupidity, I guess I differ mainly in that I think it is far harder to define objectively that you imply.  “Being stupid” is just defining it by itself, and “intelligence” is a term I suspect has far less real meaning than most of us give it (see [url=http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/1535/]HERE[/url} for some discussion of this topic) and that subjective definition is just labelling one’s own beliefs and behaviors “intelligence.” Of course, the primacy of the individual and his/her personal needs in your philosophy might make it seem justifiable to allow a puurely relative, subjective definition. I still don’t see how you protect yourself from irrational belief in the superiority of your own ideas if you are almost free to define others’ as stupid. That’s not to say you don’t challenge your own beliefes, since you gave an example of doing just that. But the principle seems to be prone to error.

Excellent clarification of the connection w/ Rand. I guess I am disturbed by the “brutal” aspect, the idea that you are free to impose your will on others. I suspect you may address this when responding to the question about vengeance, but to me it seems clear that ideologically and personally motivated violence are bad things, and while you claim COS doesn’t believe in evangelism or forcing your ideas on others, this principle seems to allow for exactly that as a virtue.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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KevinISlaughter - 16 August 2007 02:10 PM

I will come back to #1 at a later time.

Right. And Gilmore will discuss this only when he gets invited to another episode of PoI. Next time, later, too complex, not now, too busy, must watch The Enemies of Reason now,... :grin:

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Posted: 16 August 2007 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I want to add that Tit for Two Tats scored higher in the Prisoner’s Dilemma than Tit for Tat. “Eye for an eye” doesn’t seem to be the logical way to go.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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mckenzievmd - 16 August 2007 02:40 PM

Thoughtful answers. On the question of stupidity, I guess I differ mainly in that I think it is far harder to define objectively that you imply.  “Being stupid” is just defining it by itself, and “intelligence” is a term I suspect has far less real meaning than most of us give it (see HERE for some discussion of this topic) and that subjective definition is just labelling one’s own beliefs and behaviors “intelligence.” Of course, the primacy of the individual and his/her personal needs in your philosophy might make it seem justifiable to allow a puurely relative, subjective definition. I still don’t see how you protect yourself from irrational belief in the superiority of your own ideas if you are almost free to define others’ as stupid. That’s not to say you don’t challenge your own beliefes, since you gave an example of doing just that. But the principle seems to be prone to error.

Well, hrm… I’m trying to figure out a way to discuss this without digging up a bunch of references to how I interpret “intelligence”. It’s a sticky subject indeed, and I think if we were sitting in a room together listing off general things we find “stupid” there just may be a bit of overlap. “Stupid” isn’t a concrete, no, but at some point (though it’s hard to think about it) neither is “surface” as in “the surface of the water” (I keep making references to essays in “What is Your Dangerous Idea?” because it was one of the most recently read books).

I do think that “intelligence” can be measured, but not as easily as apples are counted. I think that measurement has reproducible results in real life situations. I’m sure that if we wanted to establish a measurement for “stupid”, as a sort of inverse of smart (i.e. “I have a Stupid of minus two and a half standard deviations, and I crapped myself”). Again with the crass jokes, that my nature, I think it’s funny.

I don’t know if it’s something we’ll necessarily hammer out here without digressing from the subject into minutiae.

How about this: It’s human to think you’re smarter than everyone else, you’re right and they’re wrong, we’ve just got it written down that we’re supposed to check on that. Ultimately people will believe what they want to, and we’ll die. Again, stupidity is thinking or doing something you’ve already learned was wrong or harmful to yourself and/or others you care about. From something as simple as sticking a fork into a light socket to the gradual effects of alcohol on the body. Even “stupider”, is relieving yourself of responsibility for those thoughts and/or actions. Some folks don’t know it’s “bad” to electrocute themselves, others know better but do it anyway. Being “smart” is the best protection, and not everyone has that genetic gift.

“I guess I am disturbed by the “brutal” aspect, the idea that you are free to impose your will on others.”

Well, we are all basically free to impose our will on others, and we all pretty much do on some level. From bar brawls to psychological coercion, the power of the state to the mother’s calming embrace on their child. We manipulate the world around us and are manipulated by it. Satanists respect the basic Social Contract, and are law-abiding. In the United States, legal vengeance is limited in a number of ways and the Satanist is prepared to face the consquences if he transgresses those legal limitations (though he may not be happy).  The Church of Satan advocates law and order, and many of our members are in law enforcement. We also know that there are many people who - through psychosis, apathy, unrestrained greed, desperation or inebriation (among others) are willing to disregard that premise of social order without hesitation. I do not feel we’ll ever be “crime free” as a country, though areas of the country vary greatly.
I want laws against murder to be enforced, because I want there to be a deterrent that does not consist of a “mob” to make decisions. Though democracy is akin to mob mentality, I appreciate the check-and-balance system that works pretty well that was instated from our founding fathers for just that reason.
Life itself is brutal, though we have been quite successful at either distancing the majority from it or disguising it. Through the day, on any random day your actions (and mine) are in some way connected with mass slaughter and deprivation.

I’m going to end it here, and I’m not satisfied with the answer I’ve typed so far on this second one, but I’m spending way too much time on it.

——————————

I refreshed a second tab that had the thread in it and see that “George” has made an **** comment.

I’ve made a good effort to be candid and personable in these responses, if that’s not appreciated then so be it. The first question is complex and if you have a problem with me taking time to consider a response before posting, well then **** You George.

Do you live in the prisoner’s dilemma? I live among an awful lot of ex-prisoners and future prisoners, and I don’t see them being shunned by the group.

edited for language mckenzievmd

[ Edited: 16 August 2007 04:29 PM by mckenzievmd ]
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“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” - John Milton Aeropagitca

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Posted: 16 August 2007 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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KevinISlaughter - 16 August 2007 03:46 PM

Do you live in the prisoner’s dilemma? I live among an awful lot of ex-prisoners and future prisoners, and I don’t see them being shunned by the group.

Is that it? Is that your answer to the “complex” ethics dilemma? Or is there more coming later on?

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Posted: 16 August 2007 04:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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George - 16 August 2007 04:09 PM
KevinISlaughter - 16 August 2007 03:46 PM

Do you live in the prisoner’s dilemma? I live among an awful lot of ex-prisoners and future prisoners, and I don’t see them being shunned by the group.

Is that it? Is that your answer to the “complex” ethics dilemma? Or is there more coming later on?

No, I think you’re stressing the wrong part of that response. When you made your snide remark, everything but the “f… you” was mere afterthought. No more on that coming.

[Edited for strong language—dougsmith]

[ Edited: 16 August 2007 04:24 PM by dougsmith ]
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“Our world was brutal, immoral, smug and conventional. We had unbounded contempt for all those who did not sin as we sinned.” Jim Tully Circus Parade

“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” - John Milton Aeropagitca

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Posted: 16 August 2007 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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KevinISlaughter - 16 August 2007 04:13 PM

No more on that coming.

Of course not.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Mckenzievmd - thank you for the questions, I think you may be the only one interested in really asking them and possibly the only one who is interested in hearing the answers (working on the assumption that your curiosity is sincere)

I don’t think I see a reason to invest more time in this. George can give you a game theory explanation I’m sure, and it might have some merit.

I’ll check back here after a while and if there are posts that I find have merit, I might stop an answer them.

I’m sure this post will give George the “ammunition” he seems to crave, though logically it doesn’t give evidence of my intent or lack of intent to respond to point #1.

I will state that the questions so far are more in line with arguing about where Satanism and Humanism part ways, and not about Satanism per say. We’ve established the differences, and going on and on about where we differ seems fruitless for my intention (however intellectually challenging).

[ Edited: 16 August 2007 04:29 PM by KevinISlaughter ]
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“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” - John Milton Aeropagitca

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Posted: 16 August 2007 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Kevin,
I am interested sicnerely, though I’ll be honest that I suspect we’d eventually end in agreeing to disagree on some pretty big things.

I generally agree with what you said about stupidity. I think it’s a fuzzy quality, and while someof the xamples you give are apt, it’s complex and I’m still concerned that it’s an easy out, a temptation to dismiss without due consideration of merits and context. Still, there is something that we mean and all know we mean by the concept, I just don’t think it’s objective enough to be a meaningful part of an ethical system.

I can see why you’re not happy with your response to the issue of brutality. It seems to be saying basically that “we mean what we do, not what we say.” I don’t mean that to be sarcastic, but it seems like since most satanists are commited to the rule of law, they ignore the theoretical right to be violent or brutal that their dogma enshrines. Sort of like liberal Christians ignore the bits in the Bible that don’t reflect how they really feel or act. I usually take such a disconnect as a signal that the bits being ignored could just as well be done away with without fundamentally altering the body of ideas. But perhaps Satanism is diverse, as is Christianity, and some are more committed to what I would call ethical behavior despite the theoretical right to act solely on the basis of one’s own desires and interests, while others actually think this theory is a sound basis for action. Or perhaps the disconnect is more just a matter of not being able to adequately explain your position. It isn’t always possible to thoroughly articulate what one believes in every detail.

I’m sorry you feel disinclined to continue the discussion due to what you see as a lack of respect. Given your prior experience with how people see your point of view, your own penchance for sarcasm, and your belief that there is an inherent brutality to the world (though it seems you, or maybe it was Mr. Obsidiann, said you see the world as neutral, which I think is more accurate), I’m suprised you are not more inclined to tough it out. I do think, given time, more folks might pick up on the thread interested in civil debate about your philosophy. I don’t say you will necessarily find a sympathetic hearing. I’m not especially sympathetic to your position as I currently understand it myself, but it is possible to be skeptical, even somewhat antagonistic, and still be polite and have productive discussion. Anyway, if you change your mind, the thread is open.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 05:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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KevinISlaughter - 16 August 2007 04:21 PM

I will state that the questions so far are more in line with arguing about where Satanism and Humanism part ways, and not about Satanism per say. We’ve established the differences, and going on and on about where we differ seems fruitless for my intention (however intellectually challenging).

on a personal note, I would say that humanism and satanism never parted ways because they were never on the same path.

but with that aside, what kind of fruit are you even looking for? what is it about “Satanism” that you are trying to sell? so you dont want to talk about “the differences.” okay, whatever. but, what is it about Satanism that You, representative of the Church of Satan, DO want to talk about? are you wanting to proselytize others? is that what it is? If so, can I proselytize you in return? I think the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesnt offer “fruit,” as much as it offers pasta and tomato sauce (or alfredo, if thats your thing).

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Posted: 16 August 2007 05:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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mckenzievmd - 16 August 2007 04:45 PM

Or perhaps the disconnect is more just a matter of not being able to adequately explain your position. It isn’t always possible to thoroughly articulate what one believes in every detail.

As you were writing this for the forum, the above was occurring in a PM about #1, and that was the intent of my statement about the second answer. These are far reaching topics and for a few of them I have no pat answer right at hand. Time and consideration are restraints on my responses. For instance, to compare or contrast something like “The Prisoners Dilemma” or the previously mentioned “The Nurture Assumption” directly to Satanism is not something I’ve done explicitly, even though I have done some consideration of the topic by itself.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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truthaddict - 16 August 2007 05:05 PM

blah blah, look at me, I’ve got nothing to contribute but I’m posting anyway

The one positive thing I’ve seen you post was a recommendation for the movie “Idiocracy”, I loved that movie.

Last response to “truthaddict”, ever.

[ Edited: 16 August 2007 05:21 PM by KevinISlaughter ]
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“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” - John Milton Aeropagitca

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Posted: 16 August 2007 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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kevin,

my heart just got warmer at that! we finally found something in common! we both think each other are pests; and Idiocracy was a great movie!

ok, so its not conversion. then what??????!!!!!!!!!

offer something, anything!

so far you have gotten questions (referring only to Brennens; im leaving mine - with the exception of this post - and Georges out because we are being intentionally antagonistic) and then said they are about differences, are fruitless and you will only respond to what YOU see has merit.

what questions or comments of “merit” are you looking for? help me/us out here.

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