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David Bokovoy

Communal Sin in the Bible

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David Bokovoy    394

One of the sub-topics explored in a recent thread was the issue of communal sin in the Bible. I wanted to draw attention to this important issue by recommending to those interested an important article published a few years ago in the Ensign.

In biblical thought, the community is very much a living entity capable of accumulating collective guilt. Hence, both salvation and morality were very much a communal affair. This fact is clearly apparent in the Psalms of Communal Lament where Israel accepts communal responsibility for sin and petitions God to forgive the community as a whole. Examples of these psalms include Psalms 44, 74, 80, 83, and, to a lesser degree, Psalms 58, 106, and 125.

"O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old" (Psalm 74:1-2).

Both the community and the individuals within its sphere could commit sin. One of the great texts illustrating the biblical view of communal and individual responsibility in maintaining holiness is Isaiah 6:5:

"Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips."

Isaiah's unworthiness to look upon the Lord of Hosts was due to the fact that his own lips were unclean, and that he was part of a group of people whose "communal" lips were unclean.

As illustrated by this passage, the responsibility to be clean and pure according to biblical conceptions was both an individual and a communal issue. Indeed, one of the easiest ways to begin to comprehend the Bible

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Mola Ram Suda Ram    1,395

The fact that the Bible carefully distinguishes between the two types of sins illustrates the important biblical conception of communal responsibility, guilt, punishment, and salvation.

It's a wonderful thing!

Didn't President Kimball say that the church as a whole was under condemntation for not reading the BoM? This thought kept going through my mind as I was reading the other thread. This thought seems more pertinant to this thread.

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Didn't President Kimball say that the church as a whole was under condemntation for not reading the BoM? This thought kept going through my mind as I was reading the other thread. This thought seems more pertinant to this thread.

Pres. Benson stated the church was still under condemnation for treating lightly the Book of Mormon- a condemnation the Lord put the church under back in the 1830's.

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David Bokovoy    394

Didn't President Kimball say that the church as a whole was under condemntation for not reading the BoM? This thought kept going through my mind as I was reading the other thread. This thought seems more pertinant to this thread.

That's an outstanding example! I hadn't thought of that one. Thanks so much:

"And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written." (D&C 84:56-57)

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stemelbow    4,144

That's an outstanding example! I hadn't thought of that one. Thanks so much:

"And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written." (D&C 84:56-57)

I think this thread/idea and this passage shows us how far we are from really getting God. In this sense it makes it hard for me to understand our, well my, role in spreading the gospel, and being a part of the Kingdom of God. we need to maintain humility enough to not come off as self-righteous or specially enlightened, it seems, but we also must be able to stand nobly in defense of truth. I fear I'm too middle-ground and am nothing but adding to this condemnation.

I hate to take this thread somewhere unintended...feel free to ignore all.

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zerinus    301

One of the sub-topics explored in a recent thread was the issue of communal sin in the Bible. I wanted to draw attention to this important issue by recommending to those interested an important article published a few years ago in the Ensign.

In biblical thought, the community is very much a living entity capable of accumulating collective guilt. Hence, both salvation and morality were very much a communal affair. This fact is clearly apparent in the Psalms of Communal Lament where Israel accepts communal responsibility for sin and petitions God to forgive the community as a whole. Examples of these psalms include Psalms 44, 74, 80, 83, and, to a lesser degree, Psalms 58, 106, and 125.

"O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old" (Psalm 74:1-2).

Both the community and the individuals within its sphere could commit sin. One of the great texts illustrating the biblical view of communal and individual responsibility in maintaining holiness is Isaiah 6:5:

"Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips."

Isaiah's unworthiness to look upon the Lord of Hosts was due to the fact that his own lips were unclean, and that he was part of a group of people whose "communal" lips were unclean.

As illustrated by this passage, the responsibility to be clean and pure according to biblical conceptions was both an individual and a communal issue. Indeed, one of the easiest ways to begin to comprehend the Bible

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Mola Ram Suda Ram    1,395

That's an outstanding example! I hadn't thought of that one. Thanks so much:

"And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written." (D&C 84:56-57)

Ha, there you go.

Pres. Benson stated the church was still under condemnation for treating lightly the Book of Mormon- a condemnation the Lord put the church under back in the 1830's.

Ok so I remebered some of the details wrong. But you both have got it exactly right.

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Doctor Steuss    313

Ok so I remebered some of the details wrong. But you both have got it exactly right.

You got more details right than I usually get when shooting from memory.

Here's President Benson's talk wherein he mentions the D&C passage, etc., for anyone interested.

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The Nehor    13,872

While true I would not want to make this my 'daily bread' with God.

While acknowledging that there is communal sin and guilt a fixation on it is spiritually unhealthy. It involves repenting (and therefore first condemning) the actions of our neighbors as well as ourselves. A fixation on those kinds of sins could lead me to forget that there are sins that have nothing to do the with the politics or society of the United States or the sins of my ward or anything of that nature. My individual contributions to the communal sins are of course fair game.

The condemnation we are under regarding the Book of Mormon is communal and my individual repentance is not enough to change that but my repentance is all I can give. I may suffer because of that condemnation even if I repent (to avoid any arrogance I should point out this is hypothetical) until the community as a whole is willing to chuck it off.

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J Green    325

Thanks for the great OP, David. My two cents:

Because the western tradition was to a large extent founded on individual rights, I believe we comfortably identify with the individual stewardship aspects of the gospel but have a harder time understanding the communal and collective tribal kinsman responsibilities that attend those who are today literally members in an actual tribe of Israel. Aside from the chattat sacrifice (Lev 4), the Day of Atonement ritual (Lev 16) atoned for the sanctuary, which is a big deal. Sin -- regardless of whether it was collective or individual -- had the result of the Divine Presence leaving the sanctuary, which punished everyone, regardless of whether or not they had sinned individually. And the message was that the land must be kept holy because if it wasn't then then the sword would inevitably follow and that other nations would carry them off as a collective into exile. It was a very clear chain reaction. Sin, defiled land, warfare, famine, exile. If this sounds like Lehi's message in 2 Nephi 1, that's because it's one of the main themes in the BoM.

I like the way Abraham Joshua Heschel put it:

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David Bokovoy    394

Thanks for the great OP, David. My two cents:

Because the western tradition was to a large extent founded on individual rights, I believe we comfortably identify with the individual stewardship aspects of the gospel but have a harder time understanding the communal and collective tribal kinsman responsibilities that attend those who are today literally members in an actual tribe of Israel. Aside from the chattat sacrifice (Lev 4), the Day of Atonement ritual (Lev 16) atoned for the sanctuary, which is a big deal. Sin -- regardless of whether it was collective or individual -- had the result of the Divine Presence leaving the sanctuary, which punished everyone, regardless of whether or not they had sinned individually. And the message was that the land must be kept holy because if it wasn't then then the sword would inevitably follow and that other nations would carry them off as a collective into exile. It was a very clear chain reaction. Sin, defiled land, warfare, famine, exile. If this sounds like Lehi's message in 2 Nephi 1, that's because it's one of the main themes in the BoM.

I like the way Abraham Joshua Heschel put it:

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Deborah    2,001

Wouldn't this be related to this commandment in Mosiah 18:21

And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.

In order to keep this commandment all have to strive to be pure. If anyone is failing then it affects the whole community and we can't be one. Over and over we have times when the Lord chastised a whole people until they would be humble enough to be unified and follow the commandments. So what does that say about our state today given the contention seen just on this forum.

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Mola Ram Suda Ram    1,395

Wouldn't this be related to this commandment in Mosiah 18:21

And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.

In order to keep this commandment all have to strive to be pure. If anyone is failing then it affects the whole community and we can't be one. Over and over we have times when the Lord chastised a whole people until they would be humble enough to be unified and follow the commandments. So what does that say about our state today given the contention seen just on this forum.

I was thinking of this very verse of scripture. Interesting.

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WalkerW    317

The Lord elsewhere stated that He was "well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually" (D&C 1:30).

In one of my blog posts on 1 Cor. 3:16-17 and 1 Cor. 6:19-20, I explain Paul first describes the church as the "temple of God" and later uses the same analogy for individuals:

1 Cor. 3:16-17: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." This set of verses has absolutely nothing to do with our individual physical bodies. Nothing at all. The first clue is that "ye" in vs. 16 is plural in Greek. This is a reference to the Church as a whole. Paul has been condemning the divisions within the Church. Unity is his message. Paul attempts to unify the divided Corinthians with the message of Christ's atonement. They are God's field (vs. 5-9) [3]. This draws on the metaphor of Israel as God's vineyard (e.g. Isaiah 5:1-7). The imagery of the Corinthians as "God's field" then shifts to "God's building" (vs. 9). Paul fulfills the role as a "master builder," laying the foundation of Jesus Christ. Those who build upon it with "gold, silver, and precious stones" (which were used to build the temple: see 1 Chronicles 22:14, 16; 29:2) will be rewarded. Those whose works do not withstand the fiery cleansing (which is similar to Malachi 4:1-2) will "suffer loss" (or "punishment"), but will be saved "yet so as by fire" (vs. 15) [4].

This brings us to vs. 15-16. Given the fact that the Corinthian Church has been compared to a field and a building, it makes no sense whatsoever to assume that Paul has suddenly shifted from a collective address to one about individuals (let alone the physical bodies of the individuals). Paul is describing the Corinthian Church as the place where God's Spirit dwells. They are the recipients of the Spirit and its gifts. They are to be a spiritual people. Paul in similar fashion compared the Ephesian Church to the "household of God" (Eph. 2:20), "an holy temple in the Lord" (vs. 21), "an habitation of God through the Spirit" (vs. 22). Even Peter declares the saints to be built up unto a "spiritual house" (1 Pet. 2:5).

This understanding, in my view, makes the connection to 1 Cor. 6:19-20 much deeper and more significant by bringing a communal context to our actions:

Previously, Paul had used the "temple" (naos) metaphor of the Corinthians as a body corporate (3:16-17); now he uses it of the Corinthian bodies individually. What is true of the Corinthians together is true of them individually also: their bodies are holy because they have become places where the Holy Spirit is present. But some of the Corinthians act as if this is not so, and in doing so they are polluting and destroying the whole. So, says Paul, [1 Cor. 6:19b-20]. This is the language of slavery...to remind them to who they belong and therefore who they really are...And since God has bought them at the cost of his Son in death, they are under obligation to render God his due: [6:20b]. Here is the basis for a sexual morality (and therefore a social morality) which neither denigrates the body nor exalts the body as the only worthwhile thing but in which bodily relations are ordered toward their true end: the glory of the God who raised Christ bodily and will raise our bodies also "by his power" [5].

3. Slightly off topic: I think it is worth pointing out that Paul describes himself and Apollos as "one" (Greek hen) in vs. 8. The very same description is given by Christ in reference to Him and His Father (see John 10:30).

4. John T. Townsend compares this verse (along with 1 Corinthians 5:5) to Rosh ha-Shanah 16b-17a bar, which followed the Shammaite train of thought. The "in between" (i.e. those who are not "wholly good nor wholly bad") will "go down to Gehinnom, 'chirp' (cf. Isa. 29:4) and arise" (Townsend, "1 Corinthians 3:15 and the School of Shammai," Harvard Theological Review 61:3, July 1968: pg. 501). The biblical support for this interpretation was Zechariah 13:9. Townsend says, "A Shammaitic interpretation of 1 Cor. 3:15 implies a belief on the part of Paul that at the end of the age there would be a final opportunity for some to be saved even from the fires of Gehinnom" (pg. 503). Drawing on this background, Townsend finds that 1 Cor. 15:29 has "usually been understood to refer to some form of vicarious baptismal rite intended to benefit somehow those who have died. Such a rite would be meaningless if a man's fate had been fully determined in his lifetime; and in view of this difficulty some commentators have asserted that, although the Apostle tolerated the rite, he did not approve of it. Such a suggestion, however, appears somewhat forced, and a better explanation is that Paul had no reason to condemn the rite because he believed that the final opportunity for salvation would not precede the end of the age" (pg. 503). This is enlightening, particularly with the doctrine recorded in D&C 76 regarding the terrestrial and telestial inhabitants.

5. Stephen C. Barton, "1 Corinthians," in Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, eds. James D.G. Dunn, John W. Rogerson (Eerdmans, 2003): pg. 1327. I also used pgs. 1318-1320 for my analysis along with the NET Commentary: pgs. 2230-2233.

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Another thread, just started a couple of days ago, is entitled "Social Justice in the Bible." On that thread, after ignoring a very large quantity of argument, observation, and critique focused saliently and directly on David's ideas and assertions, David made the following statement:

This thread is an effort to discuss scholarly issues pertaining to Mormonism. Hence, it does not serve the same objective as a Gospel Doctrine class. Moreover, political discussions like those that interest Loran are a violation of forum rules,

Today, Brother Bokovoy has initiated a new thread entitled "Replying to communal sin in the Bible." Several months ago, Will and I both removed ourselves from participation in this forum because of David's continual use of, what are on the surface scholarly topics related certain specific aspects of Church doctrine (most usually the UO and LoC) as vehicles for the promulgation of his own iconoclastic doctrinal and philosophical views with the apparent consent of the board moderators, while a different standard was being applied to others lacking David's formal academic stature.

On the very same day Will and I left the board, David initiated not less than three more threads, all of which were variations of the very same theme that infuses much of his posting here: egalitarian communalism, "the poor" as a privileged status group within the gospel, equality of income distribution, and the claimed socialistic nature of Zion. All of these claims are alleged to be justified by a correct reading of the scriptures which only a PhD capable of understanding the texts in the original languages can comprehend such that the true picture of the original intent of the authors can be recovered. Weaknesses or inconsistencies with David's thesis found by critics of his exegesis in English translations of our scriptures are waved off as problems inherent in translation that create misleading perceptions or faulty emphasis.

Now, it is quite clear to me that, despite the board rules David has invoked more than once, most of his threads are, for all intents and purposes, attempts to import David's own particularistic beliefs, core aspects of which are clearly and unambiguously political and ideological, into gospel discourse by weaving them in a careful and sophisticated manner, into the fabric of a broader gospel topic, which could be understood as the vector of the ideological subtext he wishes to convey. Whether he is consciously aware of this or not, I don't know, but after a year or more of it, the nature of the beast, so to speak, is clear.

The purpose of this post is not to criticize the mods for a bit of a double standard. I'm actually happy that the posts are made. The problem is that if David's own standards were held constant, most of his posts, such as the concurrently running "social justice" thread, would never be allowed to see the light of day here. Posts such as this are rather thinly veiled carriers for David's personal philosophical preoccupations. The present thread less so, but still partaking of the same form and intent.

If I, or Vance, or Zerinius, or Will, or bc, or Mola, or Jeff K, or Selek, or anyone of similar views were to initiate a thread entitled tentatively: Free Market Capitalism and Private Property Rights in the Bible, or Leftism and the Great and Abominable Church, that thread, were it to make it past the first few responses, would be immediately doused in gasoline and set of fire by those here who support David's perception of things. A post such as that would be a flaming cauldron before the first page was out, with Glen Beck dragged in for a burning in effigy before the lock.

Could we at least admit that David's biblical exegesis here is, in point of fact, highly iconoclastic, novel (within the Church at least) and idiosyncratic and that it does not harmonize well with what the Brethren have taught and now teach, as matters of official doctrine and counsel relative to temporal economic and social matters? Can we admit that, while David's teachings can be argued to be justified by certain readings of the OT and NT through a specific interpretational lens, at the same time, they also cannot be found where, for us as LDS, one would think it was of imperative importance they should be found, if they are correct, and that is in the Church?

Just my two capitalist cents (or, is that sense?)

Oh well, just two anyway.

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That, however, is an erroneous perception which arises from a misunderstanding of the scriptures. No one becomes automatically guilty because of the sins of someone else, or even of the

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Deborah    2,001

Just my two capitalist cents (or, is that sense?)

Oh well, just two anyway.

I don't always agree with David's interpretations or his politics but I do think we can discuss the issues without devolving to name calling and accusations. I do think it's possible to challenge issues without getting into political terms such as free markets and leftist ideas. It's the principles we need to discuss and challenge, not the politics.

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I don't always agree with David's interpretations or his politics but I do think we can discuss the issues without devolving to name calling and accusations. I do think it's possible to challenge issues without getting into political terms such as free markets and leftist ideas. It's the principles we need to discuss and challenge, not the politics.

Except Deborah, that there is no possible way to avoid the politics because that is inherent and intrinsic to David's entire body of belief in this area. The major evidence I would point to is that, indeed, this is always where these threads end up, before being locked, regardless of the pretext upon which they are inititated in the OP. Always. Every thread David has ever started within this area inexorably ends in deep division, polar dissention over fundamental gospel teachings that most LDS would consider settled and not open to negotiation, and especially to radical revision, and rancor.

I'm sorry to have sometimes been part of the rancor, the that is the nature of the beast that David keeps letting out of its cage.

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How about this: "Just my two gospel cents." I didn't after all, make the argument above as a "capitalist," but as a Latter Day Saint who disagrees very strongly with David's Biblical exegesis, not just his politics.

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The Nehor    13,872

If I, or Vance, or Zerinius, or Will, or bc, or Mola, or Jeff K, or Selek, or anyone of similar views were to initiate a thread entitled tentatively: Free Market Capitalism and Private Property Rights in the Bible, or Leftism and the Great and Abominable Church, that thread, were it to make it past the first few responses, would be immediately doused in gasoline and set of fire by those here who support David's perception of things. A post such as that would be a flaming cauldron before the first page was out, with Glen Beck dragged in for a burning in effigy before the lock.

I think this has more to do with the fact that you vilify your opponents in these debates. Having been the target of this vilification I feel I am eminently qualified to say this.

Could we at least admit that David's biblical exegesis here is, in point of fact, highly iconoclastic, novel (within the Church at least) and idiosyncratic and that it does not harmonize well with what the Brethren have taught and now teach, as matters of official doctrine and counsel relative to temporal economic and social matters? Can we admit that, while David's teachings can be argued to be justified by certain readings of the OT and NT through a specific interpretational lens, at the same time, they also cannot be found where, for us as LDS, one would think it was of imperative importance they should be found, if they are correct, and that is in the Church?

I don't think that has to be admitted. I don't think it's novel at all.

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I think this has more to do with the fact that you vilify your opponents in these debates. Having been the target of this vilification I feel I am eminently qualified to say this.

In my own defense, the truth of it is Nehor, that I don't resort to vilification, if that is the correct term, until I have exhausted my patience with philosophically oriented, critical argument that receives little more than the average responses typical of your posts. Failing any intellectually substantive engagement of serious, critical thought and adducing of logically cohesive argument, I can become feisty. You have done more than your share of vilification of me, both here and at the Trailerpark over the years, for nothing more than my defense of free markets, property rights, and unalienable individual rights as understood in the documents of the Founding, so let's not throw stones in crystal houses.

I've already apologized once here, to volgadon, and I'm not going to let you drag me into yet another whining contest of who's had their feelings hurt more.

This subject matter is of critical importance, so let's get on with the discussion and debate.

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I don't think that has to be admitted. I don't think it's novel at all.

This I would term as a "drive by post." This is typical, and this is part of what results in personal ill will.

The best course of action, I do suppose, is simply to ignore things such as this, and engage with those who are really interested and willing to explore the depths of the subject at hand.

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David Bokovoy    394

I don't always agree with David's interpretations or his politics but I do think we can discuss the issues without devolving to name calling and accusations. I do think it's possible to challenge issues without getting into political terms such as free markets and leftist ideas. It's the principles we need to discuss and challenge, not the politics.

Sadly, I don't think it is possible. And to be quite frank, I'm tried of all of the bickering, name-calling, and especially judgmental religious arrogance manifested in this forum. If I share with people my background and the reason why I feel a bit sensitive at being told I don't understand my field, I'm accused of arrogance, and told publicly that people feel embarrassed for me. When friends like Volgadon share similar views to mine, they are exposed to all sorts of insults by those who disagree, yet cannot counter the argument.

The fact that this happens in the name of religious piety makes this situation 1000 times more deplorable than comparable actions performed by critics.

Since I don't hold the same political ideologies as people like Will and Loran, these "Saints' begin a pubic campaign to assassinate my character and belief. Still the fact that Mr. Schryver has recently begun the same campaign against Kevin Barney, a kindly soul who has written some of the most important pieces of LDS scholarship to date speaks volumes. How tragic that these individuals cannot successfully discuss their perspectives without resulting to personal attacks, sexual innuendos, swearing, name-calling, and public accusations of leading the Saints into dark and forbidden paths.

In my opinion, these people who act this way in a public forum and present themselves as "Mormons" are doing serious damage. I can not imagine outsiders looking in and thinking, "Wow, this person knows the truth about God, man, and the universe." "Perhaps this Mormonism concept has something that could enrich my life." I'm not going to be melodramatic and stomp off claiming I'm done, because, sadly, I have an addiction to online LDS discussion. But there are a lot more productive ways to spend one's time, and to be quite frank, the inability of a select few to engage topics without making them personal is beyond tiring.

In other words, if you guys really care about me, and you see me posting again on message boards, please do me a favor and someone come and steal my computer.

Honestly, do love you guys. Hope to see some of you at Education Week.

--DB

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The Nehor    13,872

In my own defense, the truth of it is Nehor, that I don't resort to vilification, if that is the correct term, until I have exhausted my patience with philosophically oriented, critical argument that receives little more than the average responses typical of your posts.

I guess I've been one of those who have exhausted your patience then. Sorry to hear that.

Failing any intellectually substantive engagement of serious, critical thought and adducing of logically cohesive argument, I can become feisty.

I admit it's hard to do when I am constantly labelled a 'socialist', 'leftist', 'communist', 'born-again Christians', etc. I never get a solid response that way.

You have done more than your share of vilification of me, both here and at the Trailerpark over the years, for nothing more than my defense of free markets, property rights, and unalienable individual rights as understood in the documents of the Founding, so let's not throw stones in crystal houses.

I have never vilified you. I have said you are wrong.

Oh, and crystal is tough. I'd be perfectly willing to chuck stones from a crystal house. I probably wouldn't change my clothes with the lights on though.

I've already apologized once here, to volgadon, and I'm not going to let you drag me into yet another whining contest of who's had their feelings hurt more.

Whoa.....my feelings aren't hurt.

This subject matter is of critical importance, so let's get on with the discussion and debate.

Will do, as can be seen only communistic socialistic leftist philosophies are endorsed by the gospel.

LOL!!

Okay, I'm sorry. I'll stop.

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