...I went for a long drive in the country today, and took notice of a very
common sign outside of a church; It simply said 'GOD IS LOVE' ...I wondered
as I pondered it, where that would fit into our [typical] MOQ
discussions...I wonder what Pirsigs' stance on that statement would
I've just finished reading the MF threads and for some odd reason decided to
jump in here. I say odd because I don't really have any ideas to assert or
defend. In fact, I'm wondering if its even possible to discuss statements
like "God is love". It seems to me that this common sign expresses a certain
sentimental attitude and it announces the emotional inclinations of the
people who put up the sign and run the church, but intellectually that
statement has no meaning. It seems to me that trying to find a place for
this within the MOQ is a little bit like trying to discover the metaphysical
implications of a greeting card from Hallmark. Naturally, I would encourage
anyone who disagrees to provide an explanation as to the meaning of that
sign and otherwise show me the light on this point.
We can only guess how Pirsig would react, of course, but I have to tell you
that my first reaction to the question was to imagine the man rolling his
eyes and muttering "Sentimental Bullshit!" under his breath. But thats
probably just projection on my part.
On Feb 18, in the "onward and downward" thread, Kevin said:
When I began this conversation back in 12/20/2005 with the question, "Where
is theism in the MoQ?" I honestly didn't know where it would wind up. I
have since come to learn that the Metaphysics of Quality, according to
Pirsig's two books, does not provide a satisfactory response, for me, to
faith, hope and love. And because my expectation was that I would find it
in the MOQ I'm disappointed and a little frustrated.
I'll remind you that Pirsig says the MOQ is anti-theistic and views faith as
very low quality, as a willingness to believe unbelievable things. I'll also
remind you that its extremely difficult to figure out what you mean by the
word. You may recall my complaint that I've never heard an explanation that
made any sense to me. And if I don't know what you mean when you use the
word "faith", then it is quite impossible to locate that meaning within the
MOQ - or anywhere else for that matter. Love is slightly less confusing to
me simply because I know what love is from first hand experience. But then I
have to ask what kind of love? Since this word usually appears along with
its buddies, hope and faith, then I would have to guess that you're talking
about the kind of love that is equated with God. In that case, again, I have
no idea what you mean when you use the word. Naturally, I don't know what
you mean by the word "God" either. The only word that seems pretty clear to
me is "is". Otherwise, I have no idea what it means to say that "God is
love". I mean, how about Mars, the god of war? Surely, he's not to be
equated with love. If you had said that Eros is love or the Cupid is the
agent of love I could go along with that. But you're talking about the God
of the Bible, right? He's the jealous god who claims all revenge for himself
and who once got so pissed off at the world that he killed every living
thing on earth, except for one pair of each kind. That just doesn't strike
me as very loving creature at all. (Yes, my tongue is planted firmly in my
I sense that the reason the MOQ is silent in the areas of faith, hope and
love has something to do with the very personal nature of these things. To
speak about these things in the abstract will not, I fear, bring us close to
understanding what these things are really all about...
I think that's probably true.
The caveat is that, as a man who maintains a love relationship with Jesus, I
may use language that would tend to inflame other people's sensibilities.
If this becomes a problem then I'll have to bow out of the conversation.
As you may have noticed by now, we have different ideas about how these
conversations should be conducted. I don't think its very important to worry
about other people's sensibilities. I mean, my opinions are such that if I
worried about offending or inflaming anyone, I'd never say anything at all.
And I would urge you to never "bow out" or back off just because somebody
has a problem with the terms you use. Having said that, however, I will tell
you that I'm not exactly "inflamed" by your self description as "a man who
maintains a love relationship with Jesus", but I'm not very impressed
either. As with a great deal of what you're saying, I have no idea what that
is supposed to mean.
Ever heard of Sam Harris? He's written a book called "The End of Faith". I
don't quite agree with everything he says, of course, but I think he makes a
pretty good case. He explains what we all know, that there is a cultural
taboo against challenging people of faith. And he points out that people of
faith tend to reinforce this taboo in their explanations and descriptions of
that faith. Typically, a person of faith will describe their relationship
with religion in terms of the emotional satisfaction that it supplies.
They'll tell you that its about love and hope, that its a meaningful way for
them to spend time with their family, that its a great source of comfort in
times of trouble and that they have a personal, loving relationship with God
or with Jesus. You see, instead of making assertions about the truth or
validity of the claims made by the religion, the faithful tend to explain
these things in such an emotional way that any attack upon the religion or
the religious beliefs becomes a personal attack. With this in mind, Harris
makes a case against religious moderates, not just the militants,
fundamentalists or fanatics. The moderate might say something like, "Hey,
I'm not saying my way is the only way" or "It doesn't really matter if the
claims of my religion are true or not, the point is that it does me and my
family lots of good." And the moderate secularist might say, "Well, if it
makes you happy and helps to hold your family together, then good for you.
I'll just look the other way and let you believe whatever you like." Harris
points out that there is really no other area of life where people are
allowed to avoid scrutiny and its gotta stop.
Imagine if I told you that I'm "a man who maintains a love relationship with
Thor or Zeus"? Wouldn't you be tempted to ask me what that is supposed to
mean? What if I told you that I believe there is a giant diamond the size of
a refridgerator buried in my back yard, that every Sunday me and my family
go out into the yard to hold hands and sing songs over the spot where is
buried. What if I told you those lovely Sunday services worked to hold the
family togeather, that we all hope for the day when we're gonna dig it up
and have faith that then all our dreams will come true.
Is it kind and respectful to allow me to persist in these delusions simply
because I've told you how much I need them for my emotional well being? I
think not. I don't think anyone is served by believing unbelievable things.
I don't think we should disregard or disrespect intellectual validity just
because it might hurt somebody's feelings. I don't mean to be cruel, but if
reality hurts your feelings, then you've got a pretty serious problem. I
think that paying respect to the taboo against challenging religious beliefs
is a lot like giving smack to a junkie. He'll love you for it in the short
run, but you're not really doing the guy any favors. In fact, you're killing