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Dialogue with Revisionists is Impossible - Alice Linsley

Dialogue with Revisionists is Impossible

By Dr. Alice C. Linsley
Special to Virtueonline
www.virtueonline.org
January 26, 2011

I agree with the Anglican Primates who didn't go to Ireland. Their assessment of Revisionists is correct. There is no benefit in arguing with children.

Christians who profess the Apostolic Faith find it impossible to dialogue with those who hold revisionist views and adhere to revisionist practices, such as same-sex ceremonies in the Church.

For some time I thought the problem was that modernism, relativism and empiricism had eroded the foundations of Holy Tradition. I still think that is true, but the problem is deeper. These eviscerate the core of Christian belief and lead to disturbing practices, but the real problem is spiritual. Revisionists are those who sit in darkness, unwilling to behold a great Light. They prefer their darkness, their ambiguity, and their childishness.

Were modernist trends the cause of revisionism, dialogue would be possible on an intellectual level or on philosophical grounds. That discussion of issues is no longer possible suggests that the real cause of revisionism isn't philosophical, theological or even intellectual. It is love of ambiguity, and Rowan Williams is the perfect Pied Piper. Ken Lanning, a forensics expert on crimes against children, uses the term "Pied Piper effect" to describe the pedophile's "unique ability to identify with children."

An Experiment to Illustrate the Childishness of Revisionists

Some years ago, I conducted an experiment with Sewanee faculty and graduate students to test why dialogue with revisionists is impossible. Here is the experiment, involving 6 imperatives. It is limited in scope, but still illustrative.

Imagine a medium slightly curved yellow banana and a yellow Magic Marker. One end of the banana has been removed, revealing a circle of white fruit. The Magic Marker has a yellow cap and on the opposite end there is a round white bottom. In the experiment, I presented these objects to 5 men and 5 women and asked them to respond to 6 imperatives. The banana and marker were placed side by side on a table with the white ends toward the person interviewed. Each person was asked in private to do the following:

1. Pick up the yellow thing.

2. Pick up the long yellow thing.

3. Pick up the thing that is like the moon.

4. Pick up the thing that is like a sword.

5. Pick up the thing that is to be eaten.

6. Pick up the thing that is used to write.

The first two, though descriptive, are ambiguous. Of the 10 participants, only one person declined to act on the basis that she needed more information. Three people picked the banana, arguing ontologically that the banana is naturally yellow and therefore the true "yellow thing." One picked the highlighter because it is manufactured and therefore more of a "thing." Another picked the highlighter because it is always yellow whereas the banana changes from green to yellow to brown. One picked the banana on the basis of her interpolation of the suffix "er" and concluded that the banana was "a little bit longer" than the highlighter. Three people, not able to decide between the objects, picked up both.

Most enjoyed this experiment. Revisionists love ambiguity. Traditionalists call it "Anglican fudge."

Coming next to imperatives 3 and 4, we find associations. All ten participants selected the banana as being like the moon. When I asked how each came to this conclusion, eight answered that the banana's curve reminded them of a crescent moon. Two further noted the white circular end of the banana as being like a full moon. One also noted the white circular end of the Magic Marker and thought it looked like a full moon, but decided that the banana was still "more like the moon."

When asked to pick up the thing that is like a sword, eight selected the banana and two selected the marker. The eight that picked the banana said that it reminded them of a curved sword. One who selected the marker had imagined a straight sword. The student who selected the marker had associated it with a straight sword and the adage "the pen is mightier than the sword." (Give that students A+ for imagination.)

Revisionists enjoy the association game because it allows for a range of opinion based on subjective associations.

Imperative 5 is "Pick up what is to be eaten." Imperative 6 is "Pick up what is used to write."

With these, there was universal agreement. For all 10 participants the choice was unambiguous and the selection was made immediately.

God created humans with a male and female teleological distinction. It is obvious that God did not create gay and lesbian, as there is no language in Scripture and Tradition defining the purpose of gayness and lesbianism. In a fit of childish willfulness the revisionist is likely to insist that the banana is for writing and the marker is to be eaten. A typical revisionist's response to orthodox teaching is: "I see it differently," but this doesn't fly when everyone except the revisionist recognizes that the banana is food and the marker is an implement.

So it is that natural and intended purposes cannot be discussed intelligently with revisionists. Natural and intended purposes speak of order and precision, nothing ambiguous.

----Alice C. Linsley teaches Philosophy, Ethics and World Religions at Midway College in Kentucky

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