I was recently asked to do an interview that ended up not being used by the requestor. It was a rather odd experience, as it turns out that the person is some kind of reverend, although not in the usual sense, I suspect. I went to the website he claimed to be affiliated with and found it strange to say the least. Not wanting the small amount of time I put into doing it go to waste, I figured I’d post it here. While the interview itself isn’t too bad, it was the emails I had surrounding it that I think some of you might find interesting…
Hi Skip & Doug,I’m a big Heinlein fan, too! Can we do a 5 question online interview with one or both of you, mostly on Islam?
Skip is travelling this weekend. Depending on when you want to do it, I guess I’m it. I’m happy to do it for you. Er, what group are you with?
Just the website, Doug. No group. Great, I’ll create an interview and email it to you.
Er, which website, again?
The site your interview will appear on: www.thechurchatparonomasia.com
Which I found to be somewhat strange to say the least.
Here is the interview. I took several days and he seemed quite eager to get my responses:
1) What do you think Robert Heinlein would have said about the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and the West’s confused reaction to this? What would he have had us grok?
Doug: He would have opposed it as he did communism. Being against the mix of religion and politics, and given the nature that Islam IS the political law wherever it is dominant, he would have most likely favored an aggressive response. The ongoing ‘grok’ would be whether to adopt the Ann Coulter maxim of conversion to Christianity, or how to encourage and ignite a reformation movement much like Christianity faced long ago.
2) It seems like the best weapon against fundamentalist Islam, Christianity and Judaism is bold, irreverent comedy, but, while it’s true that one can ridicule and even "blaspheme" Christianity and Judaism without serious threat of reprisal, to do so in the case of Islam is to risk death, and therefore lampoonists, satirists, etc. remain fearfully reticent. Does this type of religious terror ultimately translate into global Jihadist success and thus the death of Lady Liberty? What has happened to the West’s ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ gene?
Doug: First of all, it demonstrates the inherent difference between the reformed Christian and Judeo religions and the barbarism of fundamentalist Islam. We are witnessing the death of “Lady Liberty”—at least in Europe and perhaps in Canada as well. Good examples are the cartoon jihad’s chilling impact on the free press and the more recent “Fitna” movie—Dutch politician Geert Willder’s film about the Qu’ran. As to the “West” having a “give me liberty or give me death” attitude, I don’t think it exists in Europe (has it ever?). The US will be a different story when push comes to shove. You’d think 9/11 would have been enough. I think with the slightest incident here in the States, all bets are off.
3) Do you belief that there are New World Order cells operative in the world today which commit heinous acts of violence which are then blamed on jihadists? If so, would you say the intention is to induce World War Three now rather than wait till a later, perhaps less convenient time?
Doug: No way. This is crazy talk. A Reichstag Fire redux? Hah!
4) The Qu’ran is hardly unique in its (unwitting) presentation of a violent bipolar masculine god architype and its Cyborg Beast lust for power, glory and supreme authority, the Bible qualifying for this dubious distinction as well. So, let me ask you, Doug: how can the post- patriarchal, pro- equality peoples in the world today best encourage "the faithful’s" earnest abrogation of the numerous offending passages in the Bible and the Qu’ran?
Doug: Those who read and follow the Bible need not frighten us. Most of what might be considered offending or violent passages are contained in the Old Testament. Jesus came and taught a New Covenant that replaced the old. The Bible teaches love and respect of all individuals. Modernity has brought much reform in the Judeo Christain world. Those who follow the Qu’ran teach complete submission, with the individual having little right to expression or choice. A cleansing needs to occur within the Islamic world, and the dangerous strains must somehow become subdued by those who do practice a moderate form. The Wahhabists must be especially identified and basically be pushed back from wherever they have spread.
5) What would you say is the kindest, most positive thing we can collectively do as human beings to help assure a less dangerous, more benign planetary future?
Doug: Communication. The more people can communicate and exchange ideas, the more they will partake in that, as opposed to warfare. Why do you suppose that bad, oppressive regimes ban unfettered Internet access for their citizens? Think China, Iran, North Korea, and now Saudi Arabia. All of the dictatorial rulers know that knowledge and information in the hands of ordinary people equals power. I also believe that if we had more practicing Christians, most particularly Catholics, the world would be much better off. As a practicing Catholic, the message of respect and consideration for others is “pounded” into me week after week. How could that be a bad thing if more people were subjected to the same?
He asked for a brief bio which I included:
Doug Lambert owns and operates a manufacturing plant in Northern New England. In addition, he is heavily involved in local politics and has written a weekly column in a local daily newspaper for nearly ten years. He blogs at GraniteGrok.com and co-hosts a weekly talk radio program. Mr. Lambert has long been known “to have an opinion on everything.”
A Catholic Groker?
Of course my answer was
Yep. Proud of it, with due respect to Heinlein!
It got interesting from that point forward (meanwhile, I waited for the interview to post). The emails continued:
Paul: Do you believe in the authority of the Pope and the whole nine yards?
Me: Yep. And about 8-3/4 yards. I do believe, however, that there have been wicked Popes, who weren’t themselves infallible.
Paul: So, some Popes ARE infallible?
Me: Yep. [Not] the bad ones, [though.]
Me: Has this [interview] been posted anyplace? I find the website you told me it was to appear on rather strange and difficult to navigate. I am going to place the interview with my answers on GraniteGrok, and would link to your site too, if possible.
Paul: Doug, I’ve been gone for two days, but just got your email. No idea why my I.T. guy didn’t load your interview.I’ll find out. Please tell me how and why the site (strange or not) is difficult to navigate so that I can improve it.
Me: It’s not like most blogs I’ve seen- especially with the pages that appear in between linking (the mirror, for example). It does not really explain what the mission or purpose is that clearly. Maybe it’s just because I’m not that familiar with the bulletin board format and it’s me, but I was confused when done. Also, who are the people that run it? For example, I tried to find more about you "Reverend Paul Schmidt"- but only found an interview you did a while back and nothing else. BTW– what church has reverends with views such as yours?
Please send a link when you post the interview. Thanks.
Paul: Hi Doug, There’s a link in the upper right corner that says, "Explore the Whole Website" or something like it. Hope that helps. [As to my request of a link when the interview published, Paul answered:] Sure, I’ll let you know.
As far as the views of our religious storefront, feel free to challenge them in the Forum. But, frankly, I think our views are probably much closer to Heinlein’s t
han yours on religion, sexuality and politics. Heinlein once said (comically) that Richard Nixon was his hero because Nixon taught him by example how to mistrust politicians. (:
Me: Honestly, I don’t know much of Heinlein– my blog partner Skip is more familiar. I picked the name because I found the word "grok" and thought it was somehow fitting for what we had in mind.
Oh, you didn’t answer my "reverend" question. 🙂
Paul: I’ve actually been ordained three times, but in fringe organizations, relative, for example, to mainstream Christianity. The Church at Paronomasia is organized as a religious storefront, not a church, and is therefore not tax exempt. I don’t believe in Churches being tax exempt. I haven’t had to pay taxes yet (as a religious storefront) because no one buys the little we have that’s for sale in the cyber storefront, and that’s okay. I’m here to learn and to teach, not to profit.
‘Grok’ is a powerful word. Nothing to screw around with. The ‘God Peeing’ homepage is NOT meant to blaspheme God, but to expose the idiocy of twisted anthropomorphic projection.
Me: ‘Grok- agreed. As I said, Skip read Heinlein. I read CS Lewis, Tolkien, Pournelle, Dixon, etc. I think the meaning of the word, as I understand it, fits well with what we set out to do on the blog. It describes the relationship we wish to attain with the readers.
Paul: I do love C, S, Lewis, a Christian who understood and embraced the term ‘Tao’, but I think, both inside and outside of the coming debate in the Paronomasian Forum, you’ve already got yourself in hot water by your asking people to grok highly improbable things- like the trustworthiness of Catholic teaching and the infallibility of certain Popes. Anyhow, we’ll see what happens.
Two days goes by, and then I got an email from "Reverend" Paul:
Paul: Doug, We contacted you out of a case of mistaken identity, so the interview is not being loaded. We thought you were a Heinlein guy, even though now you acknowledge that you aren’t. Thanks.
I couldn’t resist answering, as I was by now somewhat miffed that I had even bothered wasting my time. You can almost detect the snark:
Me: Sorry to disappoint. Please define what a "Heinlein guy" is so I may direct him to you should I meet him.
Paul: Someone who ‘groks’ that Catholicism and its Popes are anything but infallible.
This really grated me, as I hadn’t insulted his religion– if that’s what it’s called. And now, after HE approached me to do the interview, this is what I’m getting. I held my cool, though, figuring if nothing else, this would make an interesting post.
Me: You should tell people about your litmus test before asking them to put time into an interview that won’t be used. Generally, it is good practice to do research about a subject BEFORE getting to the interview stage.
Paul: Hi Doug, You’re right in a way. Of course, the word "grok" is so powerful, and you were, after all, criticizing Islam, so I erroneously assumed you were in a different place than you are. As far as litmus tests go, I think you’ll find that the websites Interviews represent a rainbow spectrum of ideas. Anyhow, thanks for the feedback. I’m continually learning. Best To You.
Apparently his "rainbow spectrum of ideas" had no room for mine, as the interview never published. Oh well. I guess "Reverend" Paul, if I can read between the mumbo jumbo worships space aliens or something… and loves Islam, too. As usual, only MY religion- Christianity– is subject to criticism and complaint. Everything else is too "sacred" to be questioned.