1. Hmmm . . .
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    23 Mar '07 19:031 edit
    Kierkegaard said something like, “As soon as you try to label me, you diminish me.”

    Someone on here recently asked—once again—who were the Christians in this forum. Well, even the self-defined Christians can’t agree about who the “true Christians” (TM) are.

    Someone tells me they are a Christian. What then do I know about them? Very little. I don’t know if they’re honest or dishonest, or dangerous. I don’t even know, without further questioning, what they are saying about themselves when they claim that label. If someone narrows it down and says, “I’m a Catholic,” all I really know is that they find their religious expression somehow within the broad parameters of that religion.

    The same for other religious labels as well.

    An old friend, that I had not seen in some years, recently died. The other day I read through the obituary and a newspaper article about this person. I thought, “Do these facts and labels sum up who this person was?” In fact, did I even really know the person as who they were when they died—or did I just know the memories that I had of an earlier person?

    Some people become so attached to yesterday’s memory of who someone was (or who they thought they were) that they become quite upset if the other person changes, or grows.

    Martin Buber said that we can have two different kinds of relationships with people: I-Thou or I-It, and sometimes perhaps a little of both; each is perhaps valid in its own way and according to circumstances. If you relate to my labels only, that is an It. An I-Thou relationship takes time and trust and risk—and the willingness to follow the changes in the other person, to allow them the human process of becoming. Mostly we can’t do that one here.

    Sometimes people take on the identity of a label for themselves, and then try desperately to live within its confines, no matter what. That kind of consistency is no longer my particular hobgoblin.

    Whatever I say in terms of religious self-description—such as being a non-dualist—should be taken as nothing more than my understanding of things at the present time. As for any more particular labels, I don’t care for them. Label me whatever—I will not diminish myself by either accepting or rejecting it. I’ll just say what I think about whatever. I am not yet reduced to a list of obituary facts.

    How well do you wear your labels?
  2. Joined
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    23 Mar '07 21:411 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Sometimes people take on the identity of a label for themselves, and then try desperately to live within its confines, no matter what. That kind of consistency is no longer my particular hobgoblin.
    The reference to Emerson is apropos since the "foolish consistency" belongs to "little minds"; and since working with labels is often intellectually confining. It's sort of hard to avoid labels on a forum such as this; worse, it's sort of hard to avoid improperly or incompletely specified labels on a forum such as this.

    If someone is going to formulate a label, it may either be descriptively applicable to my person or not (or maybe there will be degrees of applicability); but this will of course depend on the implied propositional content of the label, if any discernable content exists. So formally, a necessary condition for my accepting a label is that there exists some clear mutual understanding of the propositional content involved. You're right to say that a label in a vacuum; a label that carries no clear mutual understanding; is worse than just uninformative -- it's potentially misinformative.
  3. Hmmm . . .
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    24 Mar '07 01:07
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    The reference to Emerson is apropos since the "foolish consistency" belongs to "little minds"; and since working with labels is often intellectually confining. It's sort of hard to avoid labels on a forum such as this; worse, it's sort of hard to avoid improperly or incompletely specified labels on a forum such as this.

    If someone is going to ...[text shortened]... tual understanding; is worse than just uninformative -- it's potentially misinformative.
    So formally, a necessary condition for my accepting a label is that there exists some clear mutual understanding of the propositional content involved.

    Agreed. But then that has to be sorted out in the conversation, as it so seldom seems to be on here... You are likely right, though, about the likelihood of that happening on these forums (although I think it does from time to time).

    Let’s just take a label that you and I have some familiarity with—are you a Sufi? Am I? Does it matter if some of my thinking fits that model? What about the rest of my thinking?

    My acceptance of a label, in the case of clear mutual understanding, may only be vis-à-vis that person! It may not apply with regard to someone else who happens to be reading our exchange...
  4. Standard memberKellyJay
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    24 Mar '07 07:14
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]So formally, a necessary condition for my accepting a label is that there exists some clear mutual understanding of the propositional content involved.

    Agreed. But then that has to be sorted out in the conversation, as it so seldom seems to be on here... You are likely right, though, about the likelihood of that happening on these forums (althoug ...[text shortened]... person! It may not apply with regard to someone else who happens to be reading our exchange...[/b]
    Father, brother, chess player, reader, sports fan, debater, manager, program writer, poet, Bible study leader, student, teacher, middle age, soft spoken, loud, cut up, serous, artist, Sprit filled Christian, softball player, card player, completive, generous, greedy, and an old fart.
    Kelly
    😵
  5. Joined
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    24 Mar '07 10:02
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]So formally, a necessary condition for my accepting a label is that there exists some clear mutual understanding of the propositional content involved.

    Agreed. But then that has to be sorted out in the conversation, as it so seldom seems to be on here... You are likely right, though, about the likelihood of that happening on these forums (althoug ...[text shortened]... person! It may not apply with regard to someone else who happens to be reading our exchange...[/b]
    I understand exactly your point, and I agree it's difficult because labels are prone to idiosyncratic identification (pertaining to the discussion at hand and sometimes only to certain subsets of participants in the discussion at hand). Ideally, the discussion will be grounded on clear definitions and concepts, but that requires some effort on everyone's part.

    'Sufi' is a good example: I certainly wouldn't consider myself a member of some sect of Islamic mysticism or something; at the same time, I'm certainly a junkie (at least at some aesthetic level) for expressive Sufi poetry and writings (Hafiz and the like). But I'm not really sure what purpose a label serves there: I tend to take such works as streams of volitional expression, lacking in clearly defined propositional content. And I'm just not sure how I am supposed to systematically label noncognitive "stuff". I tend to view that as a major source of confusion concerning religious labels: even if view X and view Y posit the same set of truth-apt claims, they could differ wildly in the emotive baggage.
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    24 Mar '07 10:03
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    Father, brother, chess player, reader, sports fan, debater, manager, program writer, poet, Bible study leader, student, teacher, middle age, soft spoken, loud, cut up, serous, artist, Sprit filled Christian, softball player, card player, completive, generous, greedy, and an old fart.
    Kelly
    😵
    That's a pretty good list. I like how you listed 'father' first.
  7. Standard memberPalynka
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    24 Mar '07 10:14
    Labels exists for the sake of brevity.

    I think it's easier to describe myself as an atheist and then work out any possible misunderstandings than to avoid the labels like the plague and then having to explain in detail all of my positions on theology. Even if those positions are not static over time.

    So, yes, I wear my labels quite well but that is different than saying that I'm equal to the sum of them.
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    24 Mar '07 14:581 edit
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    Father, brother, chess player, reader, sports fan, debater, manager, program writer, poet, Bible study leader, student, teacher, middle age, soft spoken, loud, cut up, serous, artist, Sprit filled Christian, softball player, card player, completive, generous, greedy, and an old fart.
    Kelly
    😵
    Names of God in the Old Testament
    Eternal God (Gen 21:33), Everlasting God (Genesis 21:33), God of Glory (Plsams 29:1-4), Consuming Fire (Deut 4:24), Jealous God (Deut 4:24), God in Heavan (Plsalms 115:3-6), Living God (2 Kings 19:15,16), King (Plsalms 47:6-8), Anceint of Days (Daniel 7:9), Creator and Maker (Plsalms 95:6), Sovereign Lord (Isaiah 40:28), God of Hosts, El, Eloah, Elohim (Genesis 1), Yahweh (Exodus 3-4), Jehova, I am that I am (Numbers 3:14).

    Names of God in the New Testament
    Abba (Romans 8:13), Creator (Romans 1), Father of Glory (Ephesians 1:17), Father of Mercies 2 Corinthians 1:3), Father of Lights (James 1:17), Father of Spirits (Hebrews 12:9), God of all Grace (1 Peter 5:10), God of All Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3), God of love and peace (2 Cor 13:11), God Our Savior (1 Timothy 1:1), Holy One (1 John 2:20), Lawgiver (James 4:12), Light (John 8:12), Lord God Almighty (2 Cor 6:18), He Who Is and Who Was and Who is to Come (Rev 1:4), Lord God Omnipotent (Rev 19:6)

    Names of Christ in the Old Testament
    Annointed One (Messiah) (Daniel 9), Branch (Isaiah 11:1), Child Born (Isaiah 9:6), Emmanuael (Isaiah 7:14), Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6), God's Servant (Isaiah 42, 43, 49, 50-51, 52-53), Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6-7), Prince of Peace Isaiah 9:6-7), Son Given (Isaiah 9:6-7), Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6-7), Holy One (Psalms 16:10), Prince of Princes (Daniel 8:25), Reproach of Men (Psalms 22:6-8), Root of Jesse (Psalms 22:6-8), Ruler (Micah 5:2), Seed (Genesis 3:15), Star our of Jacob (Numbers 24:17), Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), King of Glory (Psalms 24), Desire of All Nations (Haggai 2:7), Covenant of the People (Isaiah 42:6), Banner (Isaiah 11:10)

    Names and titles of Christ in the New Testament
    Almighty (Rev 1:8), Alpha and Omega (Rev 1:8), Amen (Rev 3:14), Blessed and Only Potentiate (1 Timothy 6:15), Bright and Morning Star (Rev 22:16), Brightness of Glory (Hebrews 1:3), Dayspring (Luke 1:78), Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23), Express Image (Hebrews 1:3), Faithful and True (Rev 19:11), Firstborn (Romans 9:29), Lord of Glory 1 Corinthians 2:8), God (Phillipians 2:6-10), Heir to All Things (Heb 1:2), Holy One of God (Mark 1:24), I Am (John 8:57,58), Lamb of God (17:14), King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 17:14)

    Names for the Holy Spirit
    Eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14), Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), Comforter (John 14:26), Spirit of Adoption (Ephesians 1:14), Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding (Isaiah 11:2), Spirit of Counsel and MIght (Isaiah 11:2), God (Acts 5:3-4), Lord (2 Corinthians 3:7-18), Power of the Highest (Luke 1:35), Spirit of Knowledge and Fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2), Spirit of Life in Jesus Christ (Romans 8), Spirit of Wisdom (Deut 34:9), Dove (Luke 3:22), Fire (Acts 2:1-4), Oil (Acts 10:38).

    This is by no means a comprehensive list but I thought you might enjoy it just the same. 😀
  9. Hmmm . . .
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    24 Mar '07 18:08
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Labels exists for the sake of brevity.

    I think it's easier to describe myself as an atheist and then work out any possible misunderstandings than to avoid the labels like the plague and then having to explain in detail all of my positions on theology. Even if those positions are not static over time.

    So, yes, I wear my labels quite well but that is different than saying that I'm equal to the sum of them.
    But I know of one self-described atheist (label) on here who is an Advaita Vedantist (another label); these are hardly incompatible, but his expression of atheism may be somewhat different from yours...

    Yes, I sometimes use labels too—as a short-cut; but I have come to think it’s a short-cut with lots of shortcomings.

    Your point about not being equal to the sum of them is perhaps Kierkegaard's main point, too.
  10. Hmmm . . .
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    24 Mar '07 18:09
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    Father, brother, chess player, reader, sports fan, debater, manager, program writer, poet, Bible study leader, student, teacher, middle age, soft spoken, loud, cut up, serous, artist, Sprit filled Christian, softball player, card player, completive, generous, greedy, and an old fart.
    Kelly
    😵
    😵
  11. Standard memberNemesio
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    24 Mar '07 20:42
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Labels exists for the sake of brevity.
    I want to dive into this thread, but no time.

    I will say: Labels exist, I think, primarily because that is how we tend
    to think. Things are stored, in no small part, in little boxes -- this
    object is a food, this object is a chair, this object is an electronic device,
    and so on -- with lots of web-like connections amongst them -- this
    object, which is a chair, can also be a stepstool for the high shelf in the
    kitchen.

    Communication would be thoroughly impossible if there weren't some
    sort of general consensus on the normative definitions of the labels
    used, and generally, communication breaks down when two people
    don't agree on what constitutes the normative definitions for words.

    Nemesio
  12. Territories Unknown
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    24 Mar '07 20:47
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Kierkegaard said something like, “As soon as you try to label me, you diminish me.”

    Someone on here recently asked—once again—who were the Christians in this forum. Well, even the self-defined Christians can’t agree about who the “true Christians” (TM) are.

    Someone tells me they are a Christian. What then do I know about them? Very little. I don’t ...[text shortened]... hatever. I am not yet reduced to a list of obituary facts.

    How well do you wear your labels?
    Sounds like someone's putting a label on labels!
  13. Hmmm . . .
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    24 Mar '07 22:08
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    Sounds like someone's putting a label on labels!
    Ouch! 🙂

    Partly, this whole inquiry comes out of the increasing discomfort I feel at giving someone a label pertaining to myself. It is, perhaps, unavoidable however.
  14. Standard memberKellyJay
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    25 Mar '07 07:442 edits
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Ouch! 🙂

    Partly, this whole inquiry comes out of the increasing discomfort I feel at giving someone a label pertaining to myself. It is, perhaps, unavoidable however.
    Labels are just applied when we have nothing else, as we grow to know
    each other we should always become more than just "X" whatever that
    "X" happens to be. To those that refuse to give up their labels but
    instead want to keep people in their little boxes, they are ... what is
    the label I'm looking for, .... 🙂
    Kelly
  15. Standard memberPalynka
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    25 Mar '07 09:07
    Originally posted by Nemesio
    I want to dive into this thread, but no time.

    I will say: Labels exist, I think, primarily because that is how we tend
    to think. Things are stored, in no small part, in little boxes -- this
    object is a food, this object is a chair, this object is an electronic device,
    and so on -- with lots of web-like connections amongst them -- this
    object, which ...[text shortened]... two people
    don't agree on what constitutes the normative definitions for words.

    Nemesio
    Very well put.
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