Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Liar part 2 - Different Angles Different Languages

Yael did a great post this week on how we interpret what each other says. 1+1=2 is true, so long as you are in a base 10 number system. Someone in a base 2 would see an error; to someone in base 2 the answer is 10. This can lead to all kinds of communication difficulties, particularly if we feel there is only one base to start from.

Joe has written a blog response to "and I am the liar!?" where he takes me to task. I am going to paste it here and put my responses within in red (and italics for Brook). Perhaps we simply work out our math in different bases; perhaps there is more to it than that. You decide. :)

So I never knew that disagreeing with someone was the cardinal sin. Well, that's not true, I did. I just didn't expect it from this guy. You may remember the Santa Claus discussion. Well, apparently because we didn't agree with Mr. Hackman's Musings we're uptight enough that a "piece of coal up our butt would lead to a diamond in two weeks." I think he's calling me a liar, too because I didn't agree with him. He says,

"What always amazes me about these kind of folks is THIS is the kind of issue they focus? It's friggin Santa for cryin out loud. Not world hunger or inner city gang violence! To me, it so petty. Not that they do not want to do Santa, but that they want to argue about it!" I am not sure where I call him a liar here, but I guess it is fair to say that I do that overall.

Now, is that an honest representation of this blog? 522 blog posts last year and one on Santa. But I'm focusing on "THIS." That's intellectual dishonesty at its finest. I don't think I ever implied that I was commenting on previous postings on his blog. I think it was clear that I was focusing on this topic and that my statement referred to anyone who made Santa a big issue (in fact I feel a little silly that I am still in an argument about Santa Claus) Nothing shows his true colors more than this:

Next, I am being accused of lying to my daughter and holding back from her the true meaning of Christmas... blah, blah, blah. (Emphasis Mine)

I asked him how he would deal with my five year old's question. What is dishonest here? I answered your daughter's question, but that was not good enough for you. You came back with :"There's an obvious difference between the Fiction and actively telling your kids an untruth. I agree that it's not my job to tell your kids or anyone else for that matter. My problem is that you are purposely hiding part of the Christmas story from your children in that you are telling them that Santa--not God-- has provided for them." In addition, I provided the entire discussion for context. I think my "true colors" there was completely fair.

Then he gives this beauty:

Mike- As I look back over the conversation, and some of their subsequent comments, I realize some of the core problem. They were not content to see it their way, while I saw it mine. They wanted me to talk them into my way of thinking, confident that I could not. That was never my point, I did not want them to see it my way; I wanted them to see that "I" saw it my way.

I've got to say I think that is a lie there. I never cared if he saw it my way. I never cared if he could "prove" his way to me, I was asking questions about his way and I thought he could ask questions about my way. Evidently, unless we all agree with Mr. Hackman we're just wrong. Unless we're all in with him, then we're all out with anything that is right in the world. Unless, I agree that Santa is A-OK for my kids too, then I can't be doing anything about world hunger or anything else. Perhaps this is an example of speaking different math, but I do not see any point in the conversation that I am implying that he NEEDS to do Santa with his kids. However, he and others kept coming back in the conversation trying to get me to see all of the problems with the way I do Christmas with my kids (eg. you are purposely hiding... etc)

What I appreciate most about this exchange with Mr. Hackman and the subsequent post at his site where he questions my honesty proves that fighten' fundy mind set is on both sides of all issues. Unless, I saw this issue his way, I was attacking him and his views. I was being dishonest and wanting to punch sinners in the nose. I don't feel that the way I used that phrase was saying you want to punch sinners in the nose. I was making a comparison to your apparent vacillation between wanting to put-down what someone practices and calling them a liar, while couching it in polite and gracious sounding phrases. To me that is "like" someone who uses the hate the sin but love the sinner phrase. You are not saying what you feel. I think you are doing it in this response. I was guilty of double speak. All I needed to do was agree with him and I would be absolved of all these sins. Again, I in NO WAY thinks he needs to give up his no Santa stance. Perhaps someone can show me otherwise, but this seems to be the focus of his contention, yet I don't feel I ever did it. I stated in a later comment that I was fine with a no-Santa policy, I just couldn't understand a need to argue the point.

So here it is: Mr. Hackman, you can feel free to tell your children that Santa, the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Ferry, and any other fictitious character is real. I honestly do not care. (I disagree, and you may not concur, but I think you do care. I think you care a fair amount about this issue.) I have real life friends that I respect that do all of that. I cannot agree with all of your conclusions but I do respect your right to hold them. If you find that to be double speak, I'm sorry about that. I really am. If your children and my children were ever to meet I would instruct my children to not mention Santa being fake. I am sorry that you believe that because I do not have a love for Santa that I do love poetry, music, or daydreams. I do love warm cocoa and a blazing fire and snuggling. (Where do I make this implication?)

I would ask the next time you call me a liar, at least have the decency to tell me you're saying that about me. (I think it is fair to say that I should have let you know about the post, and for that I apologize.)

And, I would suggest that you check your whole analogy as it seems you've made some pretty broad assumptions about my wife and me based on the fact that we don't agree with you about Santa. I think there are people who are overall digital or analog. But you are right, a more complete analogy would be to say that people may be issue specific as well. There may be areas of your life where you are analog, but on this one you are digital. I understand that. I just don't believe you are as ok with me having a Santa as I am with you not having a Santa. You have said that I feel you are wrong because you do not believe in accordance with my stance. I don't think I ever said any such thing. My contention has been how you respond to people who do not share your stance. You should have just told me that you didn't want to discuss it, that all you wanted was someone to say, "Well Gee, Andrew OK. Thanks." There are some people that email me or respond to things here and that is all I say. I thought you wanted to be part of a discussion. A discussion doesn't mean we agree, it just means we don't attack each other over disagreeing. We don't write blog posts where we call each other "those people."
Yes, I'll be sending this in an email to you as well.
Happy New Year.

See, this is what going off on a rant can bring ya. I now know not to discuss religion, politics,.... and Santa Claus! :)


Joe Martino said...

Well, I'll be the first to post. We (you and I) have a difference of opinion about what a conversation is I think. I honestly don't give a rip what you teach your kids about Santa. I'd go back through and answer each question but the baseline here is that I think we disagree on what a good conversation is.
I tend to ask questions and poke at ideas to see how they flesh out. I find this medium can be very inadequate and perhaps we would see more eye to eye on this (the conversation issue) if we were in person.

Joe Martino said...

I would like to ask one question that I'd appreciate you answering. What makes you special? Why do I care about what you teach your kids when I have real life friends that do it and I've got no problem with that. I've even talked to their kids about what Santa brought them. I've never met you, I've never met your kids. The truth is, for all I know you're making up the fact that you have kids and you're just out to grind an axe. Despite my saying I don't care, why do you insist I do? Despite my saying that you can teach your kids what you want, you insist that isn't true. Do I have to have my friends post the veracity of my claims?

Andrew said...


Have you explained your thoughts to your friend's stance the way you did here?

"There's an obvious difference between the Fiction and actively telling your kids an untruth. I agree that it's not my job to tell your kids or anyone else for that matter. My problem is that you are purposely hiding part of the Christmas story from your children in that you are telling them that Santa--not God-- has provided for them."

What was their response? How did they react to your declaration that they were godly, but actively lying to their children. Was it greeted warmly?

If you did put it that way, perhaps they did not want to escalate it and left well enough alone. Perhaps the fact that I don't know you allows me to be a little more forthright.

"Despite my saying that you can teach your kids what you want, you insist that isn't true."

I think that if it did not matter to you, after I answered your daughter's question, that should have been enough. I explained that I understand that you see it as a lie and that I do not and that is why we have our different approaches. End of point.

Instead you come back at me saying that I am telling my kids an untruth, withholding the story of Christmas,etc (see above).

You seem to think that if you state that you respect my views, you can then follow it with disrespect safely. It reminds me of Caddyshack when Rodney Dangerfield insults the look of the hat in the pro-shop with various put-downs, then sees the judge wearing the same one. "oh, but it looks good on you", he says as he rolls his eyes.

I may be guilty of lumping you in with every other condescending person I have heard on this issue. However, your reaction just tells me that my first impression was spot on.

We disagree on this... and there we can agree.

Joe Martino said...

We can agree that we disagree yes. I've said much stronger things to my friends. What amazes me is that many of your complaints about me I see in you. I'm sure that's a vice versa thing. What's most interesting to me is that you seem to be saying that a person cannot believe what I believe and be nice. That's sad.

Joe Martino said...

Sorry, I forgot to answer the first part of your question. I found your whole fictional reference to be insulting. It seemed to me you were lumping me in with some guy who wouldn't read fiction. I was pointing out that I thought that the two did not have to go to together (not teaching Santa and not reading fiction).
Your statement that maybe you can be more forthright is stunning. Truly stunning. Now, you know the depth of my friendships? You seem to be saying that if I disagree with you that is disrespect. Let me use something else to illustrate my point. I have a friend that is KJV preferred and another that is KJV only. I've told them both that I don't see how you can be an honest student of history and come to that conclusion. I've even said that I think the KJV only view borders on idol worship. But I believe in individuals being able to stand on their own two feet between them and God. If they don't feel that way, that's there prerogative. It is also mine to be able to express my own views, especially on my own blog without being labeled as some sort of moralistic Santa killer.
My frustration is not about the Santa thing, but on how you decried me and others on my blog for "attacking your beliefs" by attacking me.

Andrew said...

"I found your whole fictional reference to be insulting. It seemed to me you were lumping me in with some guy who wouldn't read fiction. I was pointing out that I thought that the two did not have to go to together (not teaching Santa and not reading fiction)."

I can say that I never meant that the way you took it. I was just giving an example of someone who takes that argument much further out than you or I would. Yet still, he was a friend, I had my line and he had his. Your comeback and sarcasm were refuting a motive I never intended.

"Your statement that maybe you can be more forthright is stunning. Truly stunning. Now, you know the depth of my friendships?"

Joe, you really are misreading a lot of what I say. You had asked me WHY the difference with your friends. I gave a possible solution. If you go back and look I use "if" and "perhaps" so as not to presume I know anything about what is going on in your relationships. We have all seen friends of an opinionated friend just smile and nod so as not to start an argument. Since you asked why, I said PERHAPS that is the reason for the discontinuity.

"What's most interesting to me is that you seem to be saying that a person cannot believe what I believe and be nice."

Not in the least, I just felt your comeback (I wont paste it again) showed that my view was not acceptable. I gave you my explanation for Santa and then a clarification of why I did not take it as a lie. You wanted me to keep defending my position. To me, that contradicts your assertions that you are really fine with what other parents choose to do.

Joe Martino said...

Fair enough. One of things I often lament about in regards to the internet is how easy it is to misread what is being written. I really do hope you had a good day and a good '08.
My company has clients in Utah, maybe I'll get out there someday and buy you a beer. If you don't drink beer I'll buy you something else to drink and we discuss something other than Santa.

Andrew said...

A good day to you and an 08' as well.

Yes, the upside of internet communication, writing in general, is that you have time to sit and articulate in a way that one does not get to in live conversation.

However, as you indicate, honest misinterpretations are easy to make - both by the reader and writer.

I do an English lesson with my class each year on this. I put the sentence "I did not say you broke my yellow pencil" on the board and then ask the students to think about what is being said. Then I ask them to try to come up with a meaning other than the one initially assumed. Depending on where one puts the emphasis within a sentence, there are at least 8 things possibly being said (eg. I never said it I am just thinking it- or - you broke my RED pencil).

A beer would be great! I agree with Franklin that "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy".

Vaya con Dios!

iggy said...


Love both you guys and Christmas is over... let Santa rest till next year...

Now, shake hands and say sorry and lets all move on...

I do think that you both are a lot a like and that may be the issue...

Lets not be like them other guys OK?

Be blessed!

Andrew said...

Nice to see ya Iggy!

I think Joe and I have found a peaceful place on this one now. :)

What you said though has made me think about the WHY of this issue. As I looked over the posts, I did have to ask myself: what set this issue apart more strongly? Usually, I think, I can be a little more detached; even over issues where I sit 180 from the other person.

I don't want to speak for Joe on this, but my guess is that this went a little higher than perhaps either of us intended because it involved our daughters in a roundabout way. It wasn't just a theological issue, but rather it spoke to how we approach our roles as Fathers.

Anyway, you comment made me think about that, and there is my working thesis for the moment. :)

By the way, are you going to see Mclaren in Boise in Feb?

iggy said...


I did not know Mclaren was going ot be in Boise... I most probably wont, but it might be fun to do so... I will be a bit busy in mid Jan doing a finance class and possibly another class on grace from then until about the next 13 weeks.

My wife and I went back and forth about Santa... we just decided that it was fun... and to teach that giving is what it is about and the greatest gift ever given was Jesus.

They love Santa, they love penguins and polar bears and the movie "The Polar Express"... I view Santa as fantasy mixed with teaching opportunities.

As far as a lie, I think my kids know me better than that even at 2 and 3 (almost 4) years old...

Be blessed,

Creative said...

Sheesh, I was just perusing your blog to see what was new with you and speed up the clock until 5:00 and figured I'd click on "Santa Claus" in keeping with the xmas spirit but didn't know it would be such a lively post! ha. People feel pretty strongly about that subject I guess! ha.:) My Dad never let me believe in Santa but it sounds like I was missing out. I've always said I would not do the "santa" thing with my future kids just because I didn't know how to explain why so many poor children "didn't get visited by Santa." I try to think of how this conversation would go say, if I took them to a soup kitchen on xmas and tried to explain why some kids didn't get any toys. .and it eventually gives me a headache so I've decided not to bother with it. But I happily spent a small fortune and a great deal of spirit glue dressing up as Santa for my niece Ellie one year. .padding, beard, fake nose, glasses, the works. . we planned it all out so she would hear a noise and come down and see me ("Santa") leaving presents under the tree. hee I wouldn't do the Santa thing personally, but I'm happy to help out with anyone who feels like bothering with all the complicated explanations.ha! :) :) Anyway! "Christmas" is a religious holiday combined with a pagan holiday invented by Constantine to unite his empire. So not sure what the "true" spirit of xmas is. It's whatever you want to make of it I guess. I watched "Santa Claus is coming to Town" for the first time ever with my niece wednesday (did I mention my Dad didn't let me believe in Santa and therefore never watched those shows?). The movie seemed like a lovely dream. . . .I played along with my niece, telling her how Santa would come down chimney. . .made me a little sorry I missed out on all that. . .:)

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