Thursday, October 17, 2013

C. S. Lewis on How to Avoid God

Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health and (above all) on your own grievances. Keep the radio on. Live in a crowd. Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them very carefully. But you'd be safer to stick to the papers. You'll find the advertisements helpful; especially those with a sexy or a snobbish appeal.

 "The Seeing Eye" in Christian Reflections (Eeerdmans, 1967), pp. 168-167:

Bill Vallicella has some other ways in which we can avoid God. 

38 comments:

Mark Frank said...

So it looks like the way to get in contact with God is avoid people - particularly if it involves sex. Make sure you don't know what is going in the world (radio, newspapers), and above all don't enjoy life. :-)

Crude said...

particularly if it involves sex.

How is "particularly if it involves sex" showing up, since it was mentioned alongside money, status, health and your own grievances?

Make sure you don't know what is going in the world

Not said at all.

This is a little like watching a theist interpret an atheist's advice of "enjoy a healthy sexual appetite, don't feel ashamed at having sexual desires" as "enjoy child, beast, and snuff porn."

Steven Carr said...

The best way to meet god is to become a hermit.

Avoid reality as much as you can, and you will find a god.

In fact, Christians used to whip themselves to produce religious experiences.

With their chronological snobbery modern day Christians have turned their backs on the idea of flagellation as being a way to meet God.

But Lewis knew better!

Crude said...

The sad thing is, it's hard to tell when a Cult of Gnu monk is making a joke, or when he actually believes what he's saying. I'm hoping it's the former, but man, the latter seems plausible.

All you need is a Christian to say 'Cleanliness is a virtue' and you'll find some atheists screaming about Christians having cleaning OCD and how the best thing about walking away from fanaticism is how they can be coprophiles without any of that irrational guilt their mothers imparted to them when they were kids.

Papalinton said...

'Knowing god' is a euphemism for personal privation; psychological, emotional, mental and physical privation. Born in sin. Not really a good start to one's life knowing you're a piece of s#%t from the moment one is born and on the say-so of "the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

C S Lewis was onto something here. How to avoid god seems to be pretty good advice.



Crude said...

the most unpleasant character in all fiction

What does Dawkins know about God? He's not even a scientist anymore. ;)

Ape in a Cape said...

Linton,

I get the feeling that you might actually be writing your diatribes prior to any articles appearing on this site, randomizing them on your file system, and then just arbitrarily plonking any section you happen to find into your responses. These unseemly and fulminating tirades of yours are akin to an unmediated game of vulgar scrabble – the longer the invective, the higher the score. Honestly, I'm now not even sure why you're here, as the content of your material just seems to be getting angrier, more detached and less substantive as time goes by.

If this place isn't giving you enough airtime, then it might be a good idea for you to get back to flying model airplanes instead.

Ape.

mattghg said...

I get the feeling that you might actually be writing your diatribes prior to any articles appearing on this site, randomizing them on your file system, and then just arbitrarily plonking any section you happen to find into your responses.

Yes!

Papalinton said...

Ape
"These unseemly and fulminating tirades of yours are akin to an unmediated game of vulgar scrabble ..."

It must seem like that to one who's life is centred around what can only be arguably described as one of many primitive hero-worship mythoi extant. No believer in supernatural superstition takes kindly to their stripe of belief being robustly interrogated and indeed challenged from outside the apologetical framework that they have so assiduously worked towards to fashion it a semblance of reality or normality. It is of course very much about bringing to front and centre that the highly stylized, custom-fit, narrow-banded narrative Christians now extrapolate from that mythos to match current mores and conventions of contemporary society is simply a reflection of what today's community expects from its members. It has nothing to do with or about what God likes or dislikes, what he wants or frowns upon or any other condition that is jejunely couched under the platitude, 'the mind of God'. For example, now that homosexuality and gay marriage seems to have crossed the threshold of acceptability today, decades from now apologists will be lauding how Christians were at the forefront of instituting that change, revising and expunging from the historical record all Christian opposition to it. Apologetics will write it up as a great Christian victory against narrow-minded people in society. They will conveniently forget the crudes and others that so vehemently railed against homosexual marriage, and the acceptance of homosexual relationships in society.

Surely, you can, as an educated skeptic understand there is a significantly closer fits within the far broader sociological, psychological, anthropological and scientific findings than the singularly narrower, weaker and unsubstantiated explanatory power of theology and apologetics. It also explains why and how there are so many different gods, so many different origin stories of humankind, each fervently claimed as 'THE one true belief' to the exclusion of all other belief systems. Religious belief screams its cultural origins and heritage not a 'message from God'.

B. Prokop said...

"So it looks like the way to get in contact with God is avoid people."

Oh, no. Quite the reverse. In fact, Matthew 25 spells it out explicitly that we encounter God primarily through our interactions with other people, especially with those in need of our help. The more you engage in such activity, the more you will become convinced of the reality of God's presence.

All the philosophical comments on this and every other blog about the existence/non-existence of God weighed together are but dust on the scales against a single act of charity. There is no faster way for someone "seeking God" to find Him.

Take a good look at the guy standing on the street corner asking for a few bucks from passing motorists stopped at the light - he's the Image of Christ made visible for you. And as John says "He who has seen [Christ], has seen the Father." It's that simple.

...and that Real.

Lapa Pinton said...

Ape, you clearly approach my writings from an mischievous apologetical standpoint, and consequently do not deserve to be listened to in any depth by those freed from the mammoth memeplex of such alchemical endeavours. You mentioned Scrabble but, as the OP intimates, Scrabble is fun and THEREFORE EVIL

You see, Ape, state by state, region by region, inch by inch, mile by mile, hateful apologetical efforts to oppose same-sex marriage ultimately supervene on the decaying and increasingly callow memeplex that is the superstitious supernaturalistic mythoi.

Feserite scholasticism and the like is being progressively somatificated [into supernaturalism] by the mischievous increases of scientific knowledge and replaced by scientifically-informed philosophy (SIP) If you can stand the cognitive dissonance consult this brief overview of science:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science

[for further reference see Roget et al.]

BenYachov said...


Bill Vallicella wrote:
>If these dogmas are revealed by God, where can we find them in the Bible?

Where in the the Bible does it say all dogma is to only be found in the Bible?

Scripture tells us to follow Scripture 2 Tim 3:16 but it also tells us to follow Tradition 2 Thes 2:15 & 3:6. Also is the Bible the pillar and foundation of the Truth or is the Church? 1 Tim 3:15?

I love a lot of what Bill writes on philosophy & natural theology but he doesn't understand religious theology any better then your average Gnu.

Plus he has a kneejerk anti-Catholic streak like any other leftist that doesn't do him any credit.

Ah well then.

Cale B.T. said...

Huh? William Vallicella is a leftist?

BenYachov said...

We avoid God by doing everything we can to choose lesser good at the expense of greater good.


We don't avoid God by getting to know people but by merely socialising with them to be seen.

To have at least one true friend helps you find God vs dozens of friends you really don't know or care about but you are "seen" with them because you think that means you matter.

BenYachov said...

>Huh? William Vallicella is a leftist?



HELLZ NO!!!!

Merely he has the kneejerk anti-Catholicism I've seen in leftists.

Ilíon said...

fideism-in-action: "Take a good look at the guy standing on the street corner asking for a few bucks from passing motorists stopped at the light - he's the Image of Christ made visible for you."

Actually, in this day and age, in this society (and for that matter, in most previous ages and societies), he's far more likely to be the spitting image of the Other Fellow.

Go up to that fellow on the street-corner with his heart-rending "Will work for food" sign (notice, if you will, that you haven't seen that specific sign for a while, have you, for fashions in the professional derelict community have shifted) and try to offer him an actual job for actual money (which he could spend on more than just food), and he'll have any number of reasons that he can't accept your offer.

Much as my neighbor (whom I've indirectly spoken of on my blog) didn't want actual help from me in earning any of the income on which he lives, nor in spending it more wisely, but rather had tried to turn any help I had offered into "enabling", so too, that fellow on the street-corner doesn't want you help, he just wants your money.

And Christ as Judge-of-the-World won't give a damn about any self-righteous holier-than-God justifications for your anti-charity of throwing money at the "poor" fellow on the street-corner, thus encouraging him in his sin, rather than actually helping someone.

Ilíon said...

Poor, poor, Son-of-Confusion.

Vallicella is a Catholic ... which, is, of course, part of his problem. Though, as with most of us, most of his problem is himself, irrespective of his religion (as witness, Son-of-Confusion and/or 'I-pretned-to-rationalist').

Ilíon said...

Son-of-Confusion: "Also is the Bible the pillar and foundation of the Truth or is the Church?"

An *actual* Christian would have understood that the Truth is "the pillar and foundation of" Christ's Synagogue. An *actual* Christian would have understood that "the Church" no more defines what the Truth *is* than that every single person in all of time and space agreeing that 2+2=5 makes it so. An *actual* Christian would have understood that as the Bible is the record of God's Self-Revelation -- and is thus an instance of God-made-Flesh -- it is superior, in all ways, to "the Church".

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

"Go up to that fellow on the street-corner"

I have, Ilion - many, many times. I talk to them. I know the fakes from the genuine cases, and believe me the honest-to-God genuine poor outnumber the fakes many times over. (Perhaps you don't live in/near a big city? I don't know.). I always give something to all of them (even to a few of the "fakes" - on Tuesday I gave 5 bucks to a guy I know perfectly well was conning me).

And please believe me, I'm not boasting here. Just stating facts. I don't "throw money" at people (well, actually I have quite literally done that a couple of times, but that's a different story) - I routinely give half my income away to other people. Only two days age I bought 300 dollars of groceries and paid next month's rent for a person I know who just lost his job and has no idea where his next dime is coming from.

I know you and I disagree 180 degrees about this. But I'll repeat myself here, at the risk of being labeled a Fideist (Or perhaps you meant to write "Fidelist"?). Look into the face of a meth-addled, abusive to his/her family, self-destructive loser asking for "gas money" at the filling station, and see the Face of Christ, in the flesh, standing in front of you.

But I'm most sorry you think of me as "self-righteous" - that hurts. I know my own many faults too intimately to ever fall into that trap.

Crude said...

Bob,

Only two days age I bought 300 dollars of groceries and paid next month's rent for a person I know who just lost his job and has no idea where his next dime is coming from.

That's great. Seriously great.

I always give something to all of them (even to a few of the "fakes" - on Tuesday I gave 5 bucks to a guy I know perfectly well was conning me).

Why? Is it 'he was just too proud to ask for money directly and thought he needed to lie, but he really is pretty desperate'? Something else?

Look into the face of a meth-addled, abusive to his/her family, self-destructive loser asking for "gas money" at the filling station, and see the Face of Christ, in the flesh, standing in front of you.

Does Christ ever need anything other than money? And if He does, does He ever not want it, despite needing it?

B. Prokop said...

"Does Christ ever need anything other than money?"

Of course! (I'm assuming that was a rhetorical question.) Money is often way down on the priority list of things that desperate people need. But having some does allow a person to focus on more fundamental matters. It's hard to figure out "Why am I in this mess that I made for myself?" when you're starving, or begging on a street corner in a freezing rain.

And I just dare someone here to say that they're out there humiliating themselves in great discomfort by choice.

Crude said...

It's hard to figure out "Why am I in this mess that I made for myself?" when you're starving, or begging on a street corner in a freezing rain.

The problem is, if you give them money, no strings attached, that they fully intend to simply spend on alcohol or the like, you're not getting them any closer to figuring anything out.

But the general thrust of your response sounds reasonable, Bob. Laudable, in fact - it's exactly what I want to see more done of. I'd still like answers to my other questions if you're willing.

And I just dare someone here to say that they're out there humiliating themselves in great discomfort by choice.

Some? Sure. I won't even estimate how many that number is - the data is lacking. Could be small. Could be sizable. I doubt it's majority. I've seen people humiliate themselves and go through great discomfort for cigarettes, or other meager things.

Ilíon said...

More-Righteous-Than Godist: "And I just dare someone here to say that they're out there humiliating themselves in great discomfort by choice."

Most panhandlers are out there, "in great discomfort", by choice -- because, to their twisted minds, it is more humiliating to *work at producing wealth* than it is to live off stray scraps of the wealth of others' work.

=========
Furthermore, it is as wicked -- as immoral -- to act as the "enabler" for that sort of person as for the sort who bops little old ladies over the head.

Not *all* 'angels unawares' whom we may encounter are Christ's angels.

Ilíon said...

It-doesn't-matter-whether-my-'help'-actually,-you-know,-*helps*-those-I-help;-just-so-long-as-I-get-a-righteous-buzz-from-it: "... at the risk of being labeled a Fideist (Or perhaps you meant to write "Fidelist"?)."

Well, it is true, you are a "Fidelist" with respect to me and my life. Nevertheless, I meant 'fideist' -- the standard-issue fideist doesn't care to have rational reasons for what he believes ... which is to say, he doesn't really care about the *content* of his set of beliefs, only that he (currently) believes them, whatever they are. You have made it clear that you are a fideist with respect to "charity" ... you don't really give a damn whether your "help" *actually* helps ... you doubtless think it morally repulsive to make that enquiry ... just so long as the particular act of "charity" is one that *you* wish to engage in.

Ergo, *I* should be compelled, under threat of violent death, to "support" *your* "charities".

Ilíon said...

eeeevil-heartless-conservative: "Go up to that fellow on the street-corner"

I-could-teach-Christ-a-thing-or-two-about-loving-others: "I have, Ilion - many, many times. I talk to them. I know the fakes from the genuine cases, and believe me the honest-to-God genuine poor outnumber the fakes many times over. (Perhaps you don't live in/near a big city? I don't know.). I always give something to all of them (even to a few of the "fakes" - on Tuesday I gave 5 bucks to a guy I know perfectly well was conning me)."

My description of what happens when you offer actual work to the "Will work for food" sign-carriers comes from actual personal experience, back when that tactic first appeared. Now, it's true that my county has only 125K residents, and I suppose that they have a higher class of pan-handlers in the big cities.

Many years ago, when my nieces were little girls, I took them and my sister to Chicago to visit the museums. We were stopped at a busy intersection; there was a black man with a small child in tow, working the stopped cars, asking for "a little gas money to get to my pregnant wife in the hospital, 'cause I ran out of gas and you know what the cops are like around here". Now, by then I had wised up, and there was no way in Heaven or Hell that I was going to give him money. So, I offered to buy him the gas he "needed". Somehow, I convinced him to get into the van with the boy he was using. My sister hadn't driven even half a block, and he was in a panic ... I suppose lest someone else from the Amalgamated Helpless Stranded Motorists' union claim his intersection. He even dramatically took off his fake-leather coat to offer it as a "pledge" for whatever money I would give him.

Panhandlers -- almost every one of them -- are there, "humiliating" themselves because *that* is how they have choses to get money.

B. Prokop said...

Now the last thing in the world I wish is for this conversation to turn around me (mainly, because I'd lose that one big time - I'm way too flawed with way way too many skeletons in my closet). I'd kinda like to make it about Ilion, but I'll resist that temptation.

(And I think the specific issue of panhandlers is a distraction here, and really ought to be taken to a separate forum.)

The only reason I posted to this thread in the first place was because I wanted to be on the record against some of the things people had said prior to my first comment, to wit:

"So it looks like the way to get in contact with God is avoid people"

"The best way to meet God is to become a hermit."

"'Knowing God' is a euphemism for personal privation."

To the contrary, the very best way of "getting to know God" is to interact with others - and especially with those less fortunate than yourself. This has never been more clearly stated than in the Gospels themselves. Christ is on the Cross, in agony. People are walking by, taunting Him: "He saved others. Himself He cannot save." (Mark 15:31) What these passersby thought was mockery, an insult, the ultimate put-down, was in reality the most concise and accurate one-line statement on How We Must Live ever conceived.

For we cannot live for ourselves, and the harder we try to do so, the more we will fail. To do so is to row against the tide of the most fundamental nature of Reality Itself (Remember the Trinity?). We must rely on others for our well-being, and indeed for our very salvation. Likewise, they in turn must rely, and are depending on, us.

Charles Williams (friend of C.S. Lewis) put it beautifully:

This abides - that the everlasting house the soul discovers
is always another's; we must lose our own ends;
we must always live in the habitation of our lovers,
my friend's shelter for me, mine for him.

Crude said...

Now the last thing in the world I wish is for this conversation to turn around me (mainly, because I'd lose that one big time - I'm way too flawed with way way too many skeletons in my closet).

Unlike he-who-is-wearing-out-the-dash-sign-on-his-keyboard, I'm not interested in making this a conversation about you - at least not in the sense of some kind of referendum. I was simply asking about your thoughts on charity out of curiosity. I think what you do is laudable, really. But saying you give money to people you know are conning you was odd, and I was curious what you thought of the deeper problems with the impoverished.

If you don't want to talk about it, that's fine. But this wasn't building up to some kind of weird attack because you give out of pocket money to the poor and I somehow think that's terrible. In fact, I think that's the best form of charity in principle - direct help, person to person.

B. Prokop said...

"saying you give money to people you know are conning you was odd"

Crude, You've probably been hit up by the same type of two-bit scam artist. They walk up and give some plausible but ultimately unbelievable hard luck story, followed by a request for some "gas money" so they can get someplace (usually home). I can't count the times this has happened to me. Most of the time, unless I really don't like the look of the guy or if I get a really bad feeling about him, I let him know he isn't fooling me and hand him a few bucks for his efforts. But once I actually saw one fellow run into the gas station shop after I gave him 5 dollars, then go back out and start pumping gas into his car. He was telling me the truth!

They're not really "criminals" in my books. I mean, it's not like they're robbing me or anything. And yes, I have had long conversations with some of them. And you know what I've discovered? In 100% of the time, their actual life stories are far, far worse than the hard luck fantasies they make up in their efforts to elicit some money. I told one person he really ought to leave off making stuff up, and just tell people the truth - he'd probably get more sympathy.

And a lot of the time, they surprise me by being completely honest. Not that long ago (early this year), a panhandler I had come across repeatedly on my way to the Baltimore Symphony (I started to regard my "contributions" to his welfare as a sort of toll on the road to the symphony hall) told me that some s.o.b. had stolen his blanket earlier that day (he "lived" under an overpass along my route). I gave him 35 bucks - all I had in cash at the moment, telling him to buy a new one. Well... to my surprise, about three weeks later, stopped at the same red light, he ran over to me showing off his new blanket! (Almost made me cry.)

As to your question about the "deeper problems of the impoverished", I have no insight on that. I just figure some people get all the breaks, and others don't. That explanation works for me.

Crude said...

Bob,

But once I actually saw one fellow run into the gas station shop after I gave him 5 dollars, then go back out and start pumping gas into his car. He was telling me the truth!

Sure. Have you ever ran into someone who really needed money because they were desperate for food, or for gas, or anything else - and then an hour later you see them picking up cigarettes at the grocery store, or picking up some beer? I have.

Some people have absolutely been down on their luck too. But for a good chunk of them, "lack of money" wasn't really the source of their problems. In fact, it wasn't even the immediate problem, because giving them money just led to them blowing it on something they really shouldn't.

Have you ever given these people money to *do* something? Have you ever offered them 20 bucks to pick up trash? 25 to shovel a sidewalk in the winter? It doesn't even have to be at your home. Ask them to pick up trash in the park, or on the street. Give them a task, even if you overpay them. If you haven't tried this, well, consider giving it a shot. Let me know how it goes.

I have. At times, it works. Other times? You'd be surprised.

They're not really "criminals" in my books. I mean, it's not like they're robbing me or anything.

They're con artists, the ones you mention. It's just a low level con. You may as well say people who litter aren't breaking the law. They're not taking anything. Hell, they're giving away something for free.

As to your question about the "deeper problems of the impoverished", I have no insight on that. I just figure some people get all the breaks, and others don't. That explanation works for me.

You don't think that sometimes people have poor priorities, or low standards? They don't keep making the same mistakes, in part because they have a feeling it doesn't really matter and they'll just get by as they always have?

I'm not chastizing you. You're clearly generous and charitable in a direct way - that's great, and it's better than what most people do by far. I just think you should consider your standards and your methods. You may be able to do more good with a slightly different approach.

Syllabus said...

Most panhandlers are out there, "in great discomfort", by choice -- because, to their twisted minds, it is more humiliating to *work at producing wealth* than it is to live off stray scraps of the wealth of others' work.

Obviously this is true in at least some cases. But what information do you have which prompts you to be able to make that claim to that degree of generality (studies, polls, and so on)?

Ilíon said...

Syllabus: "But what information do you have which prompts you to be able to make that claim to that degree of generality (studies, polls, and so on)?"

Ah! The carion call of the intellectual hypocrite pretending merely to wish clarification.

What I said is true; you know it is true, everyone reading it knows it is true.

We are not talking about ancient Rome or medieval Islam, where the entire economy was based on slavery and the need for continuous war to replenish the slaves, and thus to work was socially-and-mentally akin to being a slave -- which, by the way, was the case precisely because sinful human nature would far prefer to live off the wealth that others produce, even at a lower standard of living, than to actually work so as to oneself produce that wealth.

We are not talking about some hypothetical future America, in which the "liberals", with their internal looting (the Romans, at least, had the sense to loot *other* peoples) of the "haves" so as to buy the votes of the "have-nots", have finally so destroyed the societal mental link between working/producing and having/consuming that the old human pattern of thinking "only slaves work" has become again the social norm.

Rather, we are talking about actually-existing modern America, a culture in which, thanks to Christianity in general, and Protestantism in particular, that old human mental/social habit of equating work with slavery does not hold.

In ancient Rome, to labor was the humiliation, to live off someone else's labor was thought noble; in America, it is the reverse -- which is why, in America, we need to pretend that using governmental force-and-violence to loot some voters for the benefit of other voters is just "basic fairness". Tell it to City Fathers of Carthage.

In America, there are only two classes of people who would be "out there", "in great discomfort", "humiliating" themselves by panhandling:
1) those for whom it really *is* a humiliation, but they are so desperate that they will finally do it;
2) those twisted souls who see working for they consume as the humiliation, and thus they would rather live fitfully on scraps than live more fully on their own labor;
AND, there is no one in modern America that desperate -- for, to be *that* desperate is to have bypassed all "private" charity (i.e. actual charity) and public "charity" (i.e. the looting of the "haves" so as to give to the "have-votes"), and to have gone straight to pan-handling. In America, for the not-fully-twisted soul, pan-handling would be even more humiliating than to live off charity or even off "charity".

The pan-handler pan-handles because there are too many strings attached even to public "charity" -- he isn't willing to make even the minimal effort required by a bureaucracy which has every incentive to give him the wealth produced by someone else's labor.

Tom Simon said...

Ah! The carion call of the intellectual hypocrite pretending merely to wish clarification.

What I said is true; you know it is true, everyone reading it knows it is true.


I don’t know it’s true. In these parts, the maximum amount payable in welfare to a single man under normal circumstances is less than the rent of a single room in the meanest flophouse. And that welfare payment is conditional upon having a fixed address and a correctly filled-out landlord’s report. In other words, if you haven’t got money of your own to top up your rent payment, you can’t get welfare – not as a single man.

I’m sure you didn’t know that. Judging by your manner on this subject, you probably thought you didn’t need to know. It’s so much more fun to blow off without troubling your pretty mind with facts, isn’t it?

Ilíon said...

Tom Simon, showing himself to be not-so-good at reading: "I don’t know it’s true. In these parts, ..."

Canada isn't the US.

Tom Simon, showing himself to be not-so-good at reading: "... the maximum amount payable in welfare to a single man under normal circumstances is less than the rent of a single room in the meanest flophouse. And that welfare payment is conditional upon having a fixed address and a correctly filled-out landlord’s report."

Ilíon, above: "The pan-handler pan-handles because there are too many strings attached even to public "charity" -- he isn't willing to make even the minimal effort required by a bureaucracy which has every incentive to give him the wealth produced by someone else's labor."

So, like so many who imagine they are going to dispute something I've said, you "dispute" it by re-wording it, by confirming it.

Wonderful! So, tell me, why should I give a damn about *anything* you say from now on?

Tom Simon, showing himself to be not-so-good at reasoning: "In other words, if you haven’t got money of your own to top up your rent payment, you can’t get welfare – not as a single man."

You live off public "charity", do you not, at least in significant part? But, even if I have misunderstood the *meaning* of what you tell your readers about your life, are you really so desperate that you are out on the public streets bothering -- or even threatening (as so many panhandlers) -- passersby by panhandling? Which do you see as more humiliating, collecting welfare -- and thus, as a prerequisite, meeting the minimal requirements that the bureaucracy-which-lives-by-passing-out-tax-monies places upon receipt of those monies -- or accosting strangers all day long for dribs of cash?

If you couldn't earn any money at all by your own efforts, and if none of your friends (I guess we'd have to call them so-called friends) would help you, and if not even the bureaucracy that justifies its existence by finding ever-more reasons to pass out confiscated tax monies to ever-more people who never paid the tax would help you survive, would you *really* on the street corners panhandling? Would you *really* be holding a "Will work for food" sign -- and then have a ready excuse if someone offered you a bit of work for actual money? Would you *really* be working a busy intersection, begging for "a few dollars for gas" -- and then take off when someone offers to actually buy you the gas you allegedly need?

Or, would you see that as a humiliation (for, that was the word bandied about) too far? Would you not, instead, steel yourself to a dignified (if drawn-out) death?

Ilíon said...

Tom Simon, showing himself to be not-so-good at reasoning: "In other words, if you haven’t got money of your own to top up your rent payment, you can’t get welfare - not as a single man."

The US is not Canada. The neighbor I'd mentioned above is an abled-bodied (single) man, living entirely off "disability income" and "food stamps", which is to say, public "charity" -- which supplies him enough to rent an apartment (*) and buy food at the super-inflated prices of the local "convenience" stores (**); he also has an expensive bicycle (perhaps his mother bought that for him). He's 31, and as far as I can tell, has never worked a day in his life. His "disability" is that took drugs when he was a teenager.

(*) I do not live in "the good part" of town.

(**) My first attempt at trying to help this fellow better his situation involved trying to take him to an actual grocery store, where they sell actual food at reasonable prices. I inadvertantly helped him blow $100 of the $300 his mother had wired him (he spent $65 on some stupid colone, for as he told me, "I felt rich when I bought that"), and the only "food" he bought was protein-drink powder.


Tom Simon, showing himself to be not-so-good at reasoning: "I’m sure you didn’t know that. Judging by your manner on this subject, you probably thought you didn’t need to know. It’s so much more fun to blow off without troubling your pretty mind with facts, isn’t it?"

I'm sure you didn't care about what I'd actually said. Judging by your manner on this subject, you probably thought you didn't need to take into account what I'd said, and that Canada isn't the US. It’s so much more fun to blow off without troubling your diseased little head with facts, isn’t it?

Ilíon said...

Unlike most of you, I was born and reared among the "working poor". And I have seen, up close and personal, with people I know and love, what giving into the siren-song of public "charity" does to a person.

I have seen what the "idle poor" do to a neighborhood ... I'm currently living through the third iteration of this I've experienced; I don't my property to ever again in my lifetime be worth what I have spent on it. Hell! one of those little bastards may even burn my house down ... or murder me ... just for the fun of it (both results have already been threatened by kids I've chased off my property).

Syllabus said...

Ah! The carion call of the intellectual hypocrite pretending merely to wish clarification.

Not clarification, merely explanation. And I prefer to actually act hypocritical before being called hypocritical. But I digress.

In America, there are only two classes of people who would be "out there", "in great discomfort", "humiliating" themselves by panhandling:
1) those for whom it really *is* a humiliation, but they are so desperate that they will finally do it;
2) those twisted souls who see working for they consume as the humiliation, and thus they would rather live fitfully on scraps than live more fully on their own labor;
AND, there is no one in modern America that desperate -- for, to be *that* desperate is to have bypassed all "private" charity (i.e. actual charity) and public "charity" (i.e. the looting of the "haves" so as to give to the "have-votes"), and to have gone straight to pan-handling. In America, for the not-fully-twisted soul, pan-handling would be even more humiliating than to live off charity or even off "charity".


So, by your premises, there is sufficient charity that people who are unemployed/homeless are so because they have intentionally bypassed all private and public charity (even thought I'm pretty sure that nobody before you brought up the 'public', but whatever). They also require that the individuals know about the charity available to them, a proposition which is equally dubious (I speak, in this case, from experience; my mother did charity/mission work for many years, and I'm relatively familiar with such things). Many poorer people are not aware that private charities exist - and if they are, they don't always have access to one, for a variety of reasons. Moreover, these charities only have a finite (read relatively small) amount of resources, which are seldom enough to provide anything like a decent standard of living to those people they serve. So it seems illegitimate to universalize a principle with such uncertain foundations.

The pan-handler pan-handles because there are too many strings attached even to public "charity" -- he isn't willing to make even the minimal effort required by a bureaucracy which has every incentive to give him the wealth produced by someone else's labor.

I realize I clearly don't have your skill at reasoning, but this seems somewhat far-fetched. Every person is like that? I won't deny that many - perhaps even a majority - have grown accustomed to such a lifestyle, but it seems to be an overreach to postulate that *all* such persons are merely lazy and morally decrepit.

B. Prokop said...

"Unlike most of you, I was born and reared among the "working poor"."

I have no idea what you mean by "most of you", but so was I.