My conversation with Jamie M on 11/17/11

The question had been posted on Facebook as to whether we believed in angels.  You can imagine my response.  Following is my conversation with Jamie M, who does believe in angels.  I’m in italics.  Jamie’s in bold.  Comments at the end.

Jamie M Yes, emphatically. I was pregnant with my first child, I KNEW it was a girl, I reached a crisis of faith, prayed and cried and that night dreamt an Angel sat by my bedside drawing in clay on my belly (don’t know what he was writing) he said “If you don’t believe, I’ll prove God to you, your baby is a boy” I woke up laughing…2 days later it was confirmed a boy, then I had a 2nd boy, then I had a 3rd boy. I’m certain my womb is sealed for boys and that God has shown himself to me.

Anton Hill ‎@Jamie Are you saying that correctly guessing the gender of your child, something which you had a 50/50 chance of getting right, is evidence of the supernatural? It’s fascinating that an omnipotent god “reveals” a perfectlly normal, objectively verified facet of human biology.

Jamie M Anton, I’m saying I needed something inside to “prove” it to me and three boys in a row…that made me think. The point wasn’t the “biology” it was the man, sitting beside my bed, oozing comfort, light, love, and a message made just for me. What I needed was something to boost my faith and I found it in a dream provided specifically to me in a way I could understand and believe, what you need may be more empirical, and that is also personal. Jeff asked do YOU believe Angels exist…my personal answer is yes, I believe they exist for many reasons, this was just one personal reason which my “Omnipotant God” knew I would feel and respond to. I don’t remember attacking your personal beliefs…there is a thread of truth in everything, even in the doubts you express, this is simply my personal truth.

Anton Hill ‎@Jamie What you consider “proof” of the supernatural are the facts that 1. you had a dream in which a guy told you that you’d have a boy and 2. that you had three boys in a row? Do you consider the facts that my grandmother had three girls in a row and my mother had two boys in a row “proof” of the supernatural? For irrefutable evidence of the supernatural check out venganza.org. I wasn’t attacking your personal beliefs either. I was asking about the claims you made of reality. I agree that there is truth in everything–that which can be hypothesized and objectively verified.

Jamie M
LOL…amusing. I never said my dream should prove or disprove anything to anyone else but myself and with that your whole argument kind of goes down the drain. It was a PERSONAL experience that I needed to help myself through something. I was sharing that experience with someone who understood it. It was not a comment meant for you, to persuade you, nor for you to comment on. I never said everyone should believe because of my dream, i never said that dream was the absolute only reason I believe….And you turning something that meant so much to me into a shallow debate and turning my words around to claim that I am basing an entire belief system on a dream is very disconcerting and muddles a memory I have held very special for 13 years. It is a very sad thing that you’re choosing to take a memory of a dream which led me to feelings of faith and hope and stomp on them to make yourself feel smarter and stronger. While I hope it worked and you’re enjoying the whole superman complex you seem to have, Anton my reality is MINE your reality is YOURS…my reality is absolute to me, and yours is absolute to you…enjoy yours but please stay out of mine from now on…I’d really appreciate it.

Hey Jamie,

Thanks for writing. 🙂 You say, “I never said my dream should prove or disprove anything to anyone else but myself…” You said, “…he said ‘If you don’t believe, I’ll prove God to you, your baby is a boy’ I woke up laughing…2 days later it was confirmed a boy… I’m certain… that God has shown himself to me.”

There either are gods or there aren’t. There either are angels or there aren’t. There either are angelic visits through prophetic dreams or there aren’t. Thus, claiming that an angel visited you in a dream, correctly predicted the gender of your child, and that this was proof of God are two claims and one conclusion about the fundamental nature of reality. Whether it’s proof to you vs. anyone else and whether it’s personal are irrelevant because reality isn’t subjective. If you and I both drop balls out of our hands, both balls will fall. Every single time. Yours won’t sometimes float in the air while mine drops.

You claim that you were sharing an experience that wasn’t intended for comment and yet you voluntarily shared it in a public comments section. If you’d intended it to be a private exchange between you and Jeff, you could just as easily have sent him a private message. Like you did with me.

True, you never said everyone should believe, nor that your dream was the only reason you did, but you did say that your dream convinced you of your claims of reality.

I asked you questions. You were under no obligation to respond. No one forced you to. Yet you chose to. Thus, it’s dishonest to claim that I was the one who turned it into a “shallow debate.” It’s also dishonest to claim that I said you based your entire belief system on a dream since I never said that. And it’s dishonest to claim that asking questions about your dream is the equivalent of “stomping” on your memory of your dream. Moreover, it’s presumptive to claim that I allegedly did such a thing to feel “smarter” and “stronger.”

To claim that reality is personal is false. It’s a socially acceptable excuse to justify irrational beliefs. If you don’t want your irrational beliefs challenged, then I suggest you move your family onto some kind of religious compound where there’s no contact with the outside world. Otherwise, you will always run the risk of people challenging your beliefs.

I didn’t write to you. You wrote to me. That’s the only reason I’m in your reality.

Best,

Anton.

Jamie M
he showed himself to ME me being the operative word
btw i’m actually not “religious” and a compound would piss me off probably more then you. I have a personal belief that i choose to base my own morality off of but i haven’t been to church since the married youth leader hit on my sister when I was 17. So…you know, it was truely an experience i was sharing with Jeff. He asked a question, I answered it to him. Anyway you are right though…i wrote to you so i won’t do it again. I apologize if I offended you.

Hey Jamie,

You’re awesome. 🙂 And I mean that sincerely. Before I say anything else, I’d like you to know there’s absolutely no need to apologize. More on that at the bottom.

You’re making a claim about reality. “Me being the operative word” is irrelevant. If you were to replace “he” with “Thor”, “Zeus”, or “invisible, flying, pink unicorns”, you’d see what I mean. All of those concepts require evidence. As with everything else.

Fair enough, you’re not “religious.” At some point, though, if you’re to be honest, you’ll admit that we’re splitting hairs. A belief in a god, angels, prophetic dreams, and the like, which you’ve admitted to, is considered religious, so it wasn’t unreasonable for me to use that term.

If you’re one of those people who believes that “religious” means specifically going into a building, listening to a guy in a robe, standing up when prompted, etc., then maybe you’re not religious. But you, like “those people” make absolute claims about a supernatural aspect to realty. There’s only one reason you do. Someone taught it to you. Maybe it was a preacher when you were six. Maybe it was your parent when you were eight. Maybe it was a friend when you were 20. The fact remains that you weren’t born believing these concepts, and so who taught them to you ultimately doesn’t matter. Thus, the label of “religious”, in my opinion, doesn’t matter. If that label is too specific, we could go for “theistic.”

I’m very glad to read that a compound would piss you off. People who are into those are really creepy. I’ve known a few.

I find it fascinating that you say that you base your morality off of your personal belief. I’d argue that you base your morality off of a compassionate sense of community with your fellow humans. Do you think that in order for one to have morality, one must believe in the supernatural? If so, I’m living proof that that’s false. So is my fiancee. So is my best friend and his wife. The list goes on.

Wow, married youth leaders hitting on your sister. 😦 I’m sorry to read that, though, honestly, I’m not surprised. I imagine that must’ve been a pretty awkward, uncomfortable experience for her.

I really do sympathize with your desire to share an experience with Jeff. I’ve shared at least a couple extremely painful experiences with him myself. That’s why I find it strange that you chose to do so in a public forum. Maybe it was a simple mistake, no big deal.

Like I said above, there’s no need to apologize. I wasn’t offended. I simply saw no validity in your request that I stay out of your reality when you were the one who’d entered mine. But no sweat. 🙂

Feel free to write back. 😀

Best,

Anton.

One of my bigger pet peeves of the ’80s and on is this notion that reality is subjective.  A number of people, including my mom and brother, and several friends, have all made the claim/suggestion “maybe it’s real to them.”  My brother once claimed that there are tribes of people in the world who believe the world to be flat (there are).  His claim was essentially that reality is that which we observe and believe… or something like that.  I believe his point was that since these tribes had not experienced modern science, reality, from their point of view, held that the world was flat.  I get what he was saying.  Basically that if I have no experience with, say, general relativity and that time is relative, from my practical standpoint, it might as well not be true.

Except that it is.

The bit that annoys me about the above attitude, especially the specific flavor of “maybe it’s real to them” is that, as I pointed out to Jamie M, the attitude is socially acceptable justification of irrational belief.  There’s nothing stopping someone from believing anything about anything as long as it’s “real to them.”  Obviously, there are certain social controls in place.  People don’t tend to en masse believe in invisible, pink unicorns, but the problem with the all-beliefs-are-equally-valid bullshit is that within that perspective, there’s nothing stopping an en masse belief in invisible, pink unicorns.

In addition to the above, I found it really amusing that Jamie M kept crying foul when, yes, the only reason we were even having a conversation was that she chose to have one.  In my observation, this is a very common technique among the religious.  When anyone questions, not criticizes, but questions your belief, play victim.  Hey, worked for Belinda.

Jamie’s since written me in addition to the above posted.  I’ll get around to that when I can.

2 Responses to “My conversation with Jamie M on 11/17/11”

  1. Nice post. The “real for me/them” stuff has always puzzled me. Its also quite surprising how common it is. I used to just look quizzically at the offending party but have taken to questioning it of late. (Of course “of late” is some number of years)

  2. Anton A. Hill Says:

    Hey Guy,

    I’m beyond puzzled at this point. It just pisses me off. The notion sort of expects a polite “Oh, okay.” When I don’t react that way and suggest that “real to them” isn’t enough, the asserter of the notion invariably has to defend his belief… which of course pisses him off.

    I suggest, though I don’t know how I’d prove this, that with the PC movement of the late ’80s and ’90s, when it became socially unacceptable to offend anyone and everything became offensive, I think this whole “real to them” slipped in.

    I’m with you on the number of years. And in almost all cases, I’m met with ire. Though I expect that’s a sign I’m doing something right.

    Best,

    Anton.

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