Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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Well, I think Tony is great personally. I heard him speak at a convention 20 years ago, and I can still remember lots of things he said. There aren't many people I can say that of.




I caught the tail-end of a speech he gave while I was in college in the late 90's. I was at a liberal school, but he was a very moving speaker. He spoke eloquently of men with HIV who felt cast out of the church but who loved their Bibles. He opposed same-sex marriage because of tradition; he didn't feel the Biblical evidence to be supportive enough. I also have browsed some stuff he has wrote. I remember him discussing how he met this guy on the plane who felt that there were many ways to heaven. But Tony, of course, denied it. Only one way.

So a real good guy but with your useful traditional creepy beliefs. Obviously, I need to get less hot-and-bothered about these issues, but I guess I think it is rather embarrasing for any grown person to believe that a good God would condemn people on the basis of their religion.

God's all powerful and wrote all the rules, so if the traditionalists are right, he wrote the rules such that if you don't believe in Jesus, no dice. Seems like a real twisted dude, if you ask me.

If Jesus paid my debt, then good. If he's covered all my debts I assume he's covered my irreverence and unbelief. So let's partay ;)


It can share shelf space with Letters to a Buddhist Jew!


Amba, like the night he bought a birthday cake for a hooker in a greasy spoon in Hawaii.

Or when he turned around in mid-sermon and gruffly asked the General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies, "You smoke, MacKnight?" (MacKnight generated loyalty in a manner similar to the Dalai Lama. He exuded an air of totally approachable saintliness, so this was hilarious by its sheer incongruity.)

Or the entire sermon of "It may be Friday, but Sunday is a-comin'". I still hear that quote occasionally.

His challenges to personal, radical, and social holiness...

Eusto, that is a perfectly bass ackwards understanding of Christianity, although an understandable one, I suppose. It gets bandied about a lot, generally by people who haven't grasped it.



I always liked this one:

"I know three things: One, 10,000 people will die today of starvation and treatable diseases. Two, most of you don't give a shit. Three, most of you are more upset that I just said "shit" in church than you are about fact number one."


[I'm gonna e-mail this to Walrus because I'm doubtful of my returning here soon, but I figured yous guys can excoriate me here if you wished ;) BTW, amba, I'm bad about checking back. If you ever want to give me a piece of your mind -- you know where to find me. Eusto, you miserable *&%#!]


First a disclaimer: Much of Christianity is truly noble and beautiful, with that part I have no beef. Second, the comment about partay was clearly semi-faceitious. But the rest was not.
Third, I have few problems with someone adopting Christianity as tentative mode of belief that is used pragmatically to commune with the divine (assuming the divine's existence, of course). I object rather to people taking these traditional claims at face value.

It seems to me unavoidable that the core doctrines of Christianity as traditionally understood are abhorent. I fully understand that the way I framed Christianty is not the way it normally would be. But I think the normal way obscures the deep injustice at work in the depths of Christian doctrine.

(1)As traditionally conceived, God demands appeasement in the form of slaughter for wrong doing. First, the blood of animals and then he had himself brutally tortured, so that "justice" could be fulfilled.
(2)All those who do not accept this "good news" will be condemned eternally.

God being perfect is not obliged to demand sacrifice. Rehabilitation perhaps, but brute blood for blood? If Jesus can forgive with ease, why not God? And if he's so angry at us for being sinners, well, look, he saw the future, he knew what was coming, he set the process in motion.

It just deeply concerns me that grown persons continue to rationalize beliefs that have such abhorrent consequents. According to tradition, the vast majority of the human race is lost. According to tradition, brutal torture of himself was necessary for God's plan. This disturbs me, and it disturbs me that people not only take such things at face value they also take it upon themselves to spread it through evangelizing.

Merely objecting to the way I have framed the issue is not sufficient to overturn my objections. You have to challenge the substance of the those assertions, not merely their verbal garments. Was anything I wrote above false?

I just don't think Christians ever step back from their system to ask it the most basic questions. Does this make sense? Am I really justified in believing this? And remember that faith is just another word for believing without sufficient evidence. I just don't think it's healthy to have faith in things which have consequences which so strongly are opposed by our innate moral radar, which I would imagine was placed there by God. If the moral radar rejects torture, rejects blood sacrifice, rejects judging people on the basis of their beliefs, then perhaps I should place my trust in that.

Now look, you can say, and have said, that Christianty is love and talk about the two commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets. Well stick with them, and drop the rest. I find it quite strange that these two central commandents upon which Christian doctrine is supposed to hang (according to Jesus!) do not contain or imply ANY of the traditional understandings of Christ. They make no reference to believing in Christ as one's savior. If it were so important one would hope that Christ would have stressed it rather than, at times, telling some people not to spread the word that he was the Messiah! Was he trying to get people damned, or what?

Besides, think of the notion of sending demons into swine which then run off a cliff. First off, do you really believe in demons as an explanation of mental illness? Second off, what is a messiah doing sending it into pigs who then have a bloody death?

Look, much of Christianity is deeply touching and moving. And it can serve as guide to life on this earth when understood with proper emphasis on the right parts. I am just making a straightforward claim, namely, traditional Christian doctrine is not literally true. Note, I am not even here disputing miracles and the divinity of Christ. You could agree with me and still accept those two things.

If you desire to respond, be careful about appealing to limits of human reason. Just because it's possible that Christianity is true doesn't make it likely. And be careful about assuming what is at issue. It's true that according to your system that God's ways are not our ways. But if you invoke that, you're already assuming what is at issue. Namely, that your system is true.

Perhaps all this is too strident, or more critically strategically unwise, but please note just how limited my claims here are. I'm not here even contesting the miracles or divinity of Christ, just the rather (imo) brutal doctrines of traditional understanding.

And please don't invoke the notion that I just don't "understand" faith. I was a very pious Christian child and even have "faith" today, but of a kind shorn of crazy consequences that are an affront to reason and ethics. (well, to mine anyways ;)) Hell, I still even enjoy religious Christmas carols -- I just interpret them in a more friendly light.

Again, if my reasoning sucks, Walrus, give me an e-mail. I wouldn't mind knowing where I blew it.

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