Thursday, August 04, 2005

I am Distressed

Yes, I am distressed. And upset. I refer you to a previous post I made a while back when I listed 101 trivial facts about me:

17) I have a need for everyone to like me.

That is not to say this person doesn't like me. But when I get critiqued, this personality trait explains why I get upset.

I recieved an E-mail from a friend who shall remain nameless. (If my friend wanted to be known, my friend would have posted the comment on my blog, so I will respect my friends anomynity) This is what my friend told me:

I saw this on your blog. It saddens me that this is all new to you. You really do need to read some actual history, my friend. For the most part, it can't be found on the Internet, unless you really go looking for it and know how; it won't be on the best-seller lists, usually; and the fact is, it's not that easy to read. But for anyone who likes to espouse an opinion, a good grounding in history -- especially political and economic history -- is essential.

And history still comes only in one main source: Books. Big, thick books. You should read some.

If I am impatient with you at times, it's because, from where I sit, you seem to take people's self-interested rantings at face value if you happen to agree with them, and you seem to dismiss them outright if you happen to disagree with them. And you paint with too broad of a brush, when life, especially politics and history, is much more nuanced than that.

I'm not really upset about what my friend said. I'm upset because my friend is mostly right.

Let me take this a point at a time. First point: "I saw this on your blog. It saddens me that this is all new to you."

My friend was referring to my last post. The one about the history of the Republican party. Let me answer that by paraphrasing a great American, Will Rogers:

All I know is what I see on the daily newscasts. And hear on the radio. And yes, even on occassion, what I read in the papers. This was actually my whole point. We "uneducated" Americans have been taught political history by the Media, for the most part. There is a small percentage of people who have gone to the trouble of actually studying history, but for the majority of Americans, we get it from the media. One only has to watch Jay Leno's "Jaywalk" segments on The Tonight Show" to prove my point. And the media has exploited our ignorance by feeding us lies.

"You really do need to read some actual history, my friend."

I agree. One can never know too much history. Obviously, I don't know enough, but I have said more than once, that I am uneducated. This does not mean I am not intelligent. Intelligence and education are not always synonymous. I do know quite a lot of history, actually. I just don't know a lot of political and economical history. I know events.

"And history still comes only in one main source: Books. Big, thick books. You should read some."

I do read. Not as much as I used to, but I do read. Unfortunately, it's usually fiction. The last "Big, thick book" I read that wasn't fiction was "The Reformation of Conservatism in the Southern Baptist Convention" A pastor I once had lent it to me, along with the words, "This should interest you." It didn't. Well, maybe a little. I read the whole thing, which was excrutiatingly boring and dry, as far as I'm concerned, because I thought I might see a reference in it to my oldest brother, Wayne, who was once a president of the Arkansas Southern Baptist Association, and the business manager for the Southern Baptist Phillipine missions. He wasn't mentioned, but some people I knew were.

"But for anyone who likes to espouse an opinion, a good grounding in history -- especially political and economic history -- is essential."

This is also true. To a point. It is true that if I want to espouse an opinion on political and economic history, I should know some. No argument there. However, there are many subjects for which having an opinion does not require a knowledge of those things.

And I might add that an opinion is just that. Opinion. My father used to say, "Your opinion is no better or worse than anyone else's." And he also used to say, "This might surprise you, but there may be many people who don't care about your opinion."

I have a right to my opinion, even if it comes from an uneducated mind. Sometimes even those opinions have some merit. As I often say, everyone has the right to their opinion. They also have the right to be stupid. Even me.

"you seem to take people's self-interested rantings at face value if you happen to agree with them, and you seem to dismiss them outright if you happen to disagree with them. And you paint with too broad of a brush, when life, especially politics and history, is much more nuanced than that."

You are absolutely right on that point. Except the part about dismissing what I disagree with. I will admit that I do that on first reaction. But, if it is a valid point, I will think about it, and sometimes, I end up agreeing.

Let me let you in on a little secret: I don't really give my posts a lot of thought. Usually, I just dash something off based on something I've just heard or read. I stated that in my very first post when I created this blog. I'll try to do better.

I don't want you to stop critiquing me when you see me being stupid. I will get upset, sometimes angry, but that's my problem, not yours. It is through critique that we learn. Sometimes, due to my stubborness, it's the only way I learn. I apologize for offending you, if indeed I did.

Maybe on my next post I'll regale you with what I know about Southern Baptists.


Anonymous said...

good post... thanks.

my site: net iq

Poison Pero said...

No need to be distressed, Mark.....Unless you have "FINISHED" learning and writing. --> Which I know you haven't.

Sure you can learn from books, but life’s best lessons are learned by living and watching, then digesting, planning and applying what you have taken in.

Most of what you see has happened before, and will happen again. --> How you react to it from time to time shows your ability to adapt and apply what you learn.

There are many people who are incredibly learned from books, and have wonderful letters behind their names (PhD, MS, MA, BA, BS, more BS, and incredibly, more BS)......But this doesn't mean they have a clue about the application of their learned knowledge. --> And heaven forbid they have to put a little common sense or moral reasoning with such knowledge.

Book learning is fantastic, and I recommend it greatly, but I can tell you I've learned much more as a soldier, husband and father than I ever learned in a university or a professional classroom.

You stated: “I don't really give my posts a lot of thought. Usually, I just dash something off based on something I've just heard or read”

That is bullshit!!! You are taking the time to put your thoughts down……Something most people wouldn’t even think about doing. Could you do more? Of course you could, but this goes for every thinker who’s ever lived.

“Writing is the mirror of the mind” – Dennis Prager

Never short yourself, Mark., and always remember knowledge is an awesome tool, but it can also be a path towards becoming a fool……………Feel free to quote me on that one, too.

Mark said...

Not this time pero, this person is someone i have a lot of respect for, and very intelligent.

tugboatcapn said...

Mark, I have no way of knowing who this person is who has you doubting yourself, but I will tell you that you are a hero of mine.
You and I agree on so much that I cannot imagine that you are wrong on very many things.;-)
Don't let random E-mails get you down.
I look forward to corresponding with you every evening when I get home.
I really don't have very much time to look up a lot of random historical facts every night, but I know what I know, and I know when something makes sense and when it doesn't.
I know what my opinions are based in, and I trust my instincts.
You should as well...

Poison Pero said...

It doesn't matter who it is Mark.......What I said is the truth.

Erudite Redneck said...

One of the things I admire about you, Mark, is that you DO, after an initial rant, indicate that you think things through -- which is more than I can say for righty bloggers.

Myself, I try not to be so stubborn in my own opinions that I can't be made to change my mind, given more information and more evidence. I think you're the same way. And to me, that is a sign of intelligence, which may or may not be reflected in fancy-ass letters behind one's name!

(Notice that over at my place, there is more "B.S." than "M.A." behind mine.) :-)

Erudite Redneck said...

Dang it, I meant "most" righty bloggers!

Lordy, I would not want to start a flame war by suggesting that you weren't a proud righty blogger! :-)

Oh, and I'd love to hear what you know about the Southern Baptist Convention. And, I'd actually like to read that book. Because I started to become estranged from the SBC in '79, when the biblical literalists and other righties took it over.

Mark said...

Thanks to all for the kind words. I feel better, now.

Durn it ER, You would have to ask.

I don't have the book anymore. (it was loaned to me, and I always pay back loans, eventually) I don't even know if that is the actual name if it. It's something like that. but I'll try to remember some of it.

Southern Baptists have long endured a reputation for being too conservative, for example, there was a joke going around way back when about it, "Why don't Southern Baptists make love standing up? They're afraid it will lead to dancing."

In the late 60's to early 70's The various seminaries began to install Presidents and Deans who were singuarly liberal, in that they didn't believe in the inerrancy of the scriptures, among other lesser issues.

There were one or two seminaries that ascribed to the literal interpretation of the Bible, and from them the next generation of theologist began to attain influencial positions in the heirarchy of the SBC.

For me, the only really interesting part of this book was the various battles waged between the liberal and the conservative factions with in the convention. It got downright nasty at times.

Anyway, the shift back to conservatim occurred when the more conservative of these leaders, (one was Adrian Rogers, I can't recall many of the principles involved although many of them were familiar names to me)became presidents and vice presidents of the convention, and in turn, began to replace the ever increasing numbers of seminary presidents who were resigning their positions over the difference in ideologies. Thus the SBC returned to it's more conservative roots, but it's still not as conservative as it once was. We don't believe folks are going to Hell for dancing anymore, for instance.

My oldest brother, who is now a director of missions for a 3 county association in northwestern Missouri, is a graduate, with honors, from Midwestern Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Kansas City Mo., is a liberal, in that he doesn't necessarily believe in the inerrancy of the scriptures.

My next oldest brother, David, graduated with honors from Southwestern in Fort Worth, Texas, and is a conservative. He is a professor of music at a Baptist college in Pennsylvania.

Both graduated in the early 70's.

I didn't finish college, and I believe the Bible is word for word accurate.

My position is this: God, who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, wouldn't stand for His Word being changed, and in fact He said Himself, not one jot or tittle shall be changed. He simply doesn't make mistakes.

Also, If some parts of it are wrong, how could one trust any part of it? If one word is wrong, then the entire work is compromised and you can't believe any of it. And how do you decide what is right and what isn't? And who is qualified to make that decision?

But as I say, lots of much more educated men than me say otherwise. Including my brother and I won't dare argue with him.

I Wish I could remember more about the book.

Mark said...

Wait! What am I saying? My next oldest brother may believe in the inerrancy of scrupture, I really don't know. But he is not a political conservative.

He voted for Kerry!

I still don't get that. I suppose just because he is a genius in music it doesn't mean he's smart in everything.

Erudite Redneck said...

Check out Mainstream Baptists' inerrancy test:

Lone Ranger said...

What your friend failed to mention is that most of the FACTS on my blog don't appear in big, fat history books, because leftist revisionists have been cleansing history one atrocity at a time. The reason you thought Republicans were racists and Democrats weren't is because that is exactly what Democrats WANT you to think. Every date on that blog is true, although you'll be hard-pressed to verify them in a library. I'm thinkng of doing another blog on the Democrat Party's love fest with the Communists.

Don't believe everything you read, but don't be intimidated into abandoning your beliefs either.

Mark said...

Thank you, Ranger, that was exactly my point, but you stated it better. I only know what I have been allowed to know, without researching the facts, which is what the majority of Americans do. So, I am a typical American. So sue me.

Xena76 said...

You are right, opinions are just that and everyone has a right to them. I have the right to be stupid if I want to. History, however wonderful a tool, is not the ONLY tool we have. While learning history may be important, it is not the only basis by which we should develop our opinions and comments.

I would say that I am somewhat educated, but that doesn't mean anything in the context of a blog, not really. The most valuable things on your blog, or anyone's in my opinion, are the comments and opinions about what is happening right now. That way everyone has an opportunity to "hash out" what they really think and believe.

Erudite Redneck said...

Lone Ranger! What a string of disconnected rantlets! That revisionist thing is BS -- although there is, in fact, a Marxist school of history, which has pretty much been discredited by the history discipline at large. And if you're not talking about academic historians, actually researching and writing history, you're not talking about serious history. What Dems, or Repubs, say ain't fricking "history."

Poison Pero said...

17) I have a need for everyone to like me.

We all want to be loved, but you really need to work on this Mark.

It'll make you nuts striving for such an impossibility.

Daffy76 said...

ER--I never fail to be amazed at your ability to ignore even the possibility of bias. It is so obvious that you work for the media.

Written history is subject to political slant no matter who is writing it or how much they have researched. It doesn't matter if it comes from a big thick book or from someone's blog. All written material has the capacity for bias, even the Sears & Roebuck Catalog. People are prone to slant things to their opinion simply because they are people. Revisionist history is a reality, whether or not you want to believe it.

Francis Lynn said...

There is a cliche that says history is written by the victor. To a point, that is correct. Big fat books an education does not make. Curiosity does it. You need not the details of Rourke's Drift to understand the Zulu war. The internet is awash in information, without the need for fat books. Little known facts about lesser known things, though entertaining, is not necessary to understand a subject fully. Be curious.

Erudite Redneck said...

I don't ignore the possibility of bias. Of course, journalists and historians are biased. They just not are all biased in the way you -- and every other righty I EVER hear or read -- thinks. I accept that there is no "vast right wing conspiracy." Guess what? There's no damn "left wing conspiracy" either, either in the media, or in the the academic discipline of history. There's a liberal slant in both. Why? Because more liberal-thinking people go into those fields. Has always been thus. Here's how to fix it: Encourage more children of conservatives to go to school to learn how to do history and jourmalism!

Poison Pero said...

I agree, Press, that there is no vast Right or Left Wing Conspiracy......

That said, there are fringe elements of both that are very powerfull.....Very.

I don't see how you could say the publishing companies aren't one of those on the Left that is part of this group. --> I think most of them would happily admit it.

That said, I like reading books and articles by Lefties......and then trying to find similar ones by Righties.

I admit to hangin out on the Right, but do go out of my way to at least get a feel for the other side.

I often wonder how many Lefties do this?

Lores Rizkalla said...

Mark,I've got to agree with Pero on this. You may exhibit emotion in your posts (as we all do) but it is obvious that you have absolutely been thinking through the issues.

I do believe that when criticism comes, there are two issues to consider: 1) the source and 2) the actual criticism. It sounds like you have done this.

With those things in mind, change what you feel you need to change. But, don't apologize for what you think and for who you are. No one is doing any favors here. We all keep comin' back here cuz' we love it.

Mary said...

Hi, Mark!

As a newcomer to your blog, I'm viewing this without the baggage of past exchanges on here. I'm not familiar with any of the posters' histories or their relationships with each other.

That's both a help and a hindrance when examining the e-mail from your friend; but I have a few thoughts. (I won't pull any punches. I apologize in advance if I offend.)

It saddens me that this is all new to you. You really do need to read some actual history, my friend.

I think this is quite condescending. If this friend is truly saddened by your supposed historical unawareness, the person should offer some specific thoughts about remedying your state. Maybe some titles of big, thick books.

I would like to interject here that some of the wisest people I've ever known didn't have degrees or get their knowledge from books. My grandfather never went to high school, but he was a brilliant man. My grandmother was proud that she attended high school, though she was forced to drop out before graduating since she needed to work to help support the family.

I treasure their opinions and value their wisdom, even though their thoughts weren't grounded in history found in big, thick books.

And history still comes only in one main source: Books. Big, thick books.

With all due respect to your friend, that's wrong.

Ask ANY historian if history comes in one main source.

It does not come from one source and it is not found only in big, thick books.

Your friend has an incredibly simplistic view of history.

"But for anyone who likes to espouse an opinion, a good grounding in history -- especially political and economic history -- is essential."

Mark, you have the right to say whatever you want. Like all of us, you get to express your opinion whether it's grounded in history or oatmeal.

I think it's unfortunate that your friend has decided to pass judgment on the value of your opinion. Your friend shouldn't be attempting to invalidate your thoughts.

As far as painting things with too broad a brush, I'm sure I give that impression as well. If I qualified every opinion I made and accounted for all the possible nuances, I'd be writing a book each time I posted. (This post seems to be going in that direction:)

The way I see it, you don't owe your friend an apology.

In my opinion, your friend should consider giving you one.

Erudite Redneck said...

It does sound a little condescending. I'll bet the writer didn't mean to come across that way. He wasn't ranting or raving or being overtly mean or anything.

Sounds to me like someone who actually has studied history, systematically. That usually makes people experts in certain fields -- but, of course, not on everything.

It does, however, make people especially defensive. Take myself, for instance. I am a journalist. That means a couple of things. I am an expert in the media. I also have certain blind spots because I'm so close to the subject. But, like anyone, I am a little touchy when people start ranting and raving about "the media" when they haven't walked in my media shoes. Just because you read a paper, or watch TV, or blog, or however you get your news doesn't make you qualified to have an informed opinion -- an opinion, sure, but not an informed one -- about the inner workings of the media.

This friend sound like he has a certain expertise in history, particularly political history, and is a little defensive when he sees people going off on subjects about which they have opinions, but little substantive information, other than casual observation, upon which to base those opinions.

If he wanted to be a jerk, looks like he'd have posted the e-mail as a comment here. But he didn't.

Lone Ranger said...

What I neglected to mention earlier is to be leery of "friends" who use their status to try to manipulate you into changing your beliefs. If you have friends with agendas, you don't need enemies. My blogs are not set up to change people's minds, it's one of the reasons I switched off comments -- the other being that I was tired of getting profane, hate-filled, stupid and downright demonic responses. What you are getting from your friend is a mild version of what I got when I had my comments turned on -- except more manipulitive. My blogs are just places for me to go to vent. I don't care if anyone reads them. It doesn't matter to me whether anyone adopts my reasoning. My friends, coworkers and family don't even know I have blogs. In fact, I am distressed that I seem to be accumulating fans who visit my blogs daily. It puts responsibilities on me that I don't want. I feel compelled to post regularly to satisfy them, when this exercise just started out as me talking to myself.

FrenziedFeline said...

Cheers to Pero and Mary, jeers to ER.

Your "friend," regardless of intelligence, is rude. First of all, your opinion is obviously different than his, and he disagrees with yours, so he assumes you to be the "uneducated" one. Give me a break. I can't stand it when someone thinks, just because they might have some expertise in a particular field, that they're the end-all-be-all.

ER, jeers to you. That's flat out baloney that I can't have an informed opinion on the media just because I haven't worked in the field. I'm a consumer of media, which is probably less biased than someone IN the media would be.

For example, an orange grower is going to think his oranges are the best, but if I don't like them, and I've tried oranges from other growers, I'm informed. Same with the media. I've tried a lot of them, and for the most part, they have a liberal slant.

I don't have to walk in your media shoes to be qualified to have any kind of an opinion, anyway. I've never been a lot of things, but that doesn't disqualify me.

That'd be like you saying Mormonism is a cult when you've never walked in a Mormon's shoes. Heck, you admit you don't walk in your own Baptist shoes much.


Erudite Redneck said...

OK, when even my so-called bloggy buddies turn on me, I give up.

After this:

I didn't say s--- about anyone's ability to make an informed opinion on the content of news.

Here's what i said. Pay particular attention to the "inner workings" part.

"Just because you read a paper, or watch TV, or blog, or however you get your news doesn't make you qualified to have an informed opinion -- an opinion, sure, but not an informed one -- about the inner workings of the media."

So when people start suggesting that the media is purposefully biased for, or against, this or that, I say: BS. Some in the media are, but not most, I guarantee ya.

So, you've eaten a lot of oranges. What do you know about growing them? Thinning them? Fertilizing them? Harvesting them? Marketing them? Nothing, if all you've done is eat the things.

Jeers to me? Jeers back atcha, Frenzied. I swear, y'all are the meanest bunch!

That last thing, that Baptist dig, was an outright insult, and I will not take it. I have never said anything like that to you, and I wouldn't.

Mark, if I don't darken this door for awhile, it ain't you, buddy. It's the unthinking, mean-spirited blog thugs who hang out here.

Sheila said...

Hi Mark,

Just read both posts involved and I wanted to add.
Even I have to stretch my own opinions and try to see history on the objective sometimes. A few points about that narrow minded slant of Republican history.

Never take a slant on the history of both parties and compare them with today.

We are making our own history right now and what happened in the past is really intersting but not relevant to us. Both Parties have been so DIFFERANT in the past. Changing skins many times over.

In the end both parties have contributed to civil rights, personal rights, and some pretty major freedoms in the last 100 years.
Examples. Just a couple to shorten.

1) The Republicans were originally called liberals and the label was considered the fashion of the time. The label conveyed that the Republicans were the forward thinking party and "Conservative" (DEMS) was considered narrow minded.

2) Then our President Ronald Reagan flip flopped the labels in his first major campaign and said it was better to be conservative and in his opinion that was the Republican Party and that stuck. DEMS were then Liberal because the REPS decided that it was too slap happy with personal freedoms.

3) Yes, our Great President Lincoln was a Republican and his Vice President was a Democrat. He did this to unite the country during the war. A brilliant move. Yes, we will forever be grateful that he freed the slaves and his DEM Vice President had his back and supported his decision and made sure the congress couldn't get to him.
It angered everyone and the man was impeached after the assaination mainly because he was a Democrat.

4) President Kennedy and Johnson were both the ones that pushed civil rights and the right for African Americans to vote and go to any school in the US. During that time, Governor Wallace (REP) (outspoken), and many many Republican congressman disagreed heartily and so all of this was literally PUSHED through.

I don't hold bad feelings for the Republican Southern Congressmen. Nothing worse than fear of the unknown to bring out a fight. It took a long time, but even Governor Wallace conceded in his thoughts on African Americans.

The seeds of the southern strategy was born after that and then President Nixon went with the rest.

I really don't believe both parties can take credit for all of anything. At each time in history, it was a differant American culture and belief system.

As we evolve so do our parties and our beliefs.

In closing guys. You have got to allow all of us Democratic Christians some leway here. We are not a Godless party. There are no absolutes even now. It is a mighty political strategy that's saying Democrats are Godless. That's all it is.

Thanks for listening and may our country weather this bump in our history too.

And Mark, I think you jump the gun or "Hit and Run" but I think you just have a lot of passion. Try coming over for some good reasoned dialog again. I always go in with and open mind and try to walk in another's shoes before I reply to something.

However, your thoughts are your own and this is your Blog so your friend just didn't say it right if he was your friend. Even the most educated people can be unintentionally rude.

Sheila said...

Oh one more thing.

I adore History and political science and all that. Look if you want to gleen more depth while reading history there are some great books out there that don't read dry.
I jsut finished "The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin" by Gordon S. Wood. fantastic!
I have read recently, two David McCullough novels about John Adams and the most recent is "1776".

Now all of these were based on letters and diarys. So much more personal and very intriguing.

The book that led me to Lincoln was a book by Mathew Brady. the first combat photographer for the Civil war.

Don't read the dry stuff until you read something that drives you to want more!

Sheila said...

LOL Sheez. I was long winded on the fist one. Sorry and Good Night!

Mark said...

Thank you all for your input. It is appreciated. And be nice to my friend ER. He is good people.:)

FrenziedFeline said...

I apologized to ER over on his blog, but I owe you an apology, too, Mark. I hope ER realizes that his beef is with me and doesn't take it out on you by not visiting your blog anymore.

Feel free to exile me.

Lone Ranger said...

thepress, I've worked in the media for more than three decades. If you can't see the deeply entrenched leftist bias in the media, then you should examine yourself to see if yourself are biased. Furthermore, there is a time when people should abandon their opinions -- informed or not -- and adopt convictions. I've never heard anyone say you should have the courage of your opinons. Sounds kinda wishy-washy to me. But the courage of your convictions -- now you're becoming someone.

rich bachelor said...

Joke, circa 1980's-Opinions are like old Kiss records: everyone has them, and they're all stupid.
I mean, I don't really believe that-if we didn't have opinions, what would we be?-but the point stands; they all look pretty good to those who agree with us and dangerous lunacy to all others. I mean, there's some songs by Kiss that I do genuinely like, for example, and the opinion expressed by the joke is one I don't necessarily share, but can laugh with.
Everybody else, at various points above, has covered all the topics I wanted to hit, so I leave you here with just this: It's all worth studying, and I figure you know that already. Kind of like how I'm a student of all the world's religions, and an adherent of none of them. You take what you can use, discard the rest.