Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Special Sort of Troll

Hier stehe Ich, like "Luther Before the Diet of Worms"
Photogravure Based on Painting by Anton von Werner (1843–1915)
(Image from Wikipedia)

Some weeks past, a special sort of troll graced this blog: 'Harvard Man', a sock puppet for 'Silly Sally'. I prefer to this person as 'Silly Sally' and conventionally use the feminine pronoun.

Silly Sally -- whom I've encountered in comments on other people's blogs -- is amusing, brilliant, and caustic. Her comments are psychologically perceptive attacks on the personal character of those with whom she disagrees. By "psychologically perceptive," I mean that she is extraordinarily gifted with a sense of where a person can best be hurt.

For an earlier encounter with Silly Sally (aka Harvard Man), see the comments to my blog entry of April 24, 2007: "Morning Alarm...."

She returned again yesterday to respond to my blog entry on "Koons Swimming the Tiber." I'm again impressed by her brilliance. I quoted a passage on "alien righteousness" in the online paper (pdf) by Robert Koons:
The crucial issue is this: is the righteousness by which the justified are justified an alien righteousness, the righteousness of Christ entirely outside of us (extra nos) and apart from regeneration and the new kind of life that results?
After various caustic remarks about Catholicism and Koons, she turned to my character:

Gypsy's "alien" and even "domestic" justification and righteousness before God is in exact proportion to the life and strength of his faith and his deadness to the world's charm.
I want you to appreciate this statement. It is not an off-the-cuff remark. It has depth. It is, of course, a personal attack, but it's so subtle and interesting that I'll let it stand. Yet, I won't engage it other than intellectually. I'm not interested in defending myself against personal attacks, for whom -- other than Silly Sally -- would I be trying to convince?

But I am interested in understanding the sense of things, so I wrote to her:

[P]erhaps you could explain this:

Gypsy's "alien" and even "domestic" justification and righteousness before God is in exact proportion to the life and strength of his faith and his deadness to the world's charm.
It sounds like a rather neat dichotomy, and admirably expressed, but I'm not sure that I've understood.

It's not a chiasm, is it?

Do you mean that an alien justification (and righteousness) means strong faith (and 'strong' deadness to the world), whereas a domestic justification (and righteousness) means a weak faith (and 'weak' deadness to the world)?

Or are you linking justification to faith and righteousness to deadness to the world?
I'm curious as to what Silly Sally meant this to say. Intellectually curious, I mean. As for the personal and spiritual dimensions to its meaning as these concern my character, I have no interest in discussing them with Silly Sally. Why not? Because I don't trust her. Nor do I trust all of the hundreds of people who visit my blog daily.

I know that Silly Sally's remarks about Catholicism (and other matters) will be offensive to many, but I urge you to let them pass. I won't allow my blog to descend into vitriolic polemics, and if comments become ad hominem attacks, I'll block the comments function and delete the ad hominem.

Take that as a friendly caution.

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At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the Harvard man... Ok, maybe I am just a silly girl being pretentious.

Horace, my comment is not just another tedious diatribe against religious war. You know that. Why misdirect? If you tease me, I am going to runaway like a flighty girl. The key point is for our Catholic readers to understand Catholicism's duplicitous ecumenism. Same for you baboons who get suckered back to Rome. Don't even flirt with Jezebel. Koon is one more lost soul sucked into the abyss -- now blithely shitting Christ's literal digested body parts into the toilet along with the rest of the Mary "venerators". Catholics worship Mary, the way fabulous gaymen hyper-dulia Cher. That should be your cautionary message with this topic. Where is the spiritual guidance in your comments? You have impressionable souls reading, mind you. Some may even be adults. Don't make Koon appear an interfaith hero. He's just a lonely Baptist boy.

Now lets clear this - justified by faith - matter up for you. This will be a tough one since the natural man cannot comprehend things of the spirit.

I will palaver.

"Alien" righteousness is justification imputed to man by faith alone -- the standard transcends human values and cannot be obtained by human behavior. It's a by-product of Christ's atoning death satisfying God's nature toward human sin.

"Domestic" righteousness contains human acts that trigger "alien" grace imputed to the saints. Eg. confession, repentance, mortification of the worldly nature freeing one to follow the dictates of Christ's teachings.

These "domestic" acts trigger to effectuate, but do not "achieve" Christ's righteousness.

Thus, as St. Paul declares: "Nothing here to boast about ... move along".

The intent of the Gospel is to neutralize human narcissism enabling one to be agents of God's love and will.

For this reason, Paul writes: "I am crucified with Christ– nevertheless I live;
yet not I, but Christ lives in me–
and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

"God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Galatians 6:14

This inward crucifixion of the worldly spirit, of the natural "I," enslaved to narcissism inwardly kills -- nuetralizes -- the believer to the world. Only belief in God, Christ's work, and hope of eternal life inspires one to reluctantly commit this agonizing crucifixion. Do you not find this in your own experience? I didn't think so. If you did, the world without would little attract, influence, or ensnare your mind, unless you had an inward worldly nature enthralled to it. As long as the worldly spirit lives in you un-subdued, un-mortified, un-crucified, your religion is but skin deep. And, so it is with you. Trust me. You are a poser.

A thin coat of religious profession may film the surface of your heart, hiding the inside from view; but the whole spirit of ungodliness is alive beneath. You are in union with the world as a Korean male with StarCraft. But, on the contrary, if the world within be crucified by the power of Christ's cross, the world without will have little charm. And this will be in exact proportion to the life and strength of your faith and the reality of your crucifixion.

The world is ever the same; one huge mass of sin and ungodliness. Consider Korea... it cannot be changed; godless Asia can never die... until its appointed time. It must be you who are changed; it must be you who die to it. Now, is it not true that it is the meeting of the two worlds in one embrace, which gives the [outside] world all its power to ensnare and entangle your feet? You know ... that embarassing preoccupation with Harisu. Let the worldly spirit be but crucified in your breast, then you shall be like the dying man who has no sympathy with the living world. You will be transformed:transcendent orientated.

You will gladly seek pie in the sky.

Now, Catholics teach their cult captives that such spiritual grace is a highly-refined material substance that may be magically infused into water, wafers, and relics by priests. It's why they find inspiration with Mary appearing on a potato chip or the side of a barn. This superstition spares them the pain of inner crucifixion required; rather than experiencing the inward crucifixion, Catholics fool themselves with absurd doctrine, itchy hairshirts, flagellation, obsessive compulsive eucharist observance, and all the other proud religious achievements. Even sleeping on a bed of nails while thumbing a rosary, is easier than inner crucifixion. That is why Catholics, remain Catholics. It's the lazy man's religion. Koon is simply a religious wetback crossing the Tiber River.

Now Horace (What were your parents thinking when they gave you that lovely name?) Horace, you rightly should not "trust" the motley creatures that lurk cyber-space. Christ said: "Do not cast your pearls before swine ..." But, you DO have someone to prove yourself to: not Silly Sally nor God. But, to yourself. You need to crucify pride that refuses to let a silly little girl like me prod you onto sober self-inventory. St. Paul instructs you to take sincere self-inventory, and "soberly" self-evaluate oneself. Why? the very soul is at stake. You believe in soul ... don't you?

I just want to be loved, ... is that so wrong? --- Silly Sally

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Silly Sally, thank you for the long, very interesting message. I knew that you had it in you.

Your explanation of the content of your earlier statement was as I had thought, though you clarified the details.

It is substantive, albeit mixed with rancor -- or perhaps ersatz rancor, for I know that you really like me (as you once whispered), and you're the only troll that I care about.

Alas, I do not have to prove myself to you, you say . . . not that I would try. Nor will I try to prove myself to God, who knows me better than I know myself (thus what is there to prove? and to try is to fail), but as for proving me to myself . . . aye, there's the rub.

My self-inventory is what you seek for me? How kind of you. Sincerely. I am touched. But I have little to enter into the books of accounting. Proud? Probably. Should I be? Not spiritually. Flawed? Definitely. A poser? Nah . . . but maybe a poseur, in a Gallic sort of way.

I know my flaws, Silly Sally. I know them well. I'll keep them between myself and God.

What I am willing to discuss in these blog entries (when I'm not joking) is ideas. I seek to clarify things for myself. The essay by Koons (not "Koon," by the way) is part of that process. Of course, I have my intellectual limitations -- many of them -- and suspect that you are rather more acute intellectually than I am. That doesn't bother me, for I'm not competing. I'm simply trying to learn, and if I can learn from you, all the better.

Enough for now. Take care, Silly Sally.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You are in union with the world as a Korean male with StarCraft."

Worth reading for gems like that.

At 9:30 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, Richardson, Silly Sally is one of a kind, the only troll worth having under one's bridge to those ever-beckoning greener fields . . . but if I attempt to clatter across that bridge, I might find myself devoured.

Put another way, Silly Sally is a mystery, one who will remain hidden until we have faces.

Meanwhile, I will settle back like Eugene Scott, that wired but now deceased televangelical, God's angry man, and calm myself with a pipeful of C.S. Lewis tobacco.

Snuff said.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 12:18 AM, Blogger Dave said...

You have such interesting trolls here.

At 4:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dave, I allow only the best trolling on my blog.

...though I do wish Silly Sally wouldn't use the cut-and-paste method, recycling 'her' previously written materials (though they're good stuff anyway).

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For whoever wants to save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." Matthew 16:25

I'm surprised you overlooked this passage, Silly Sally. It came to my mind immediately while reading your comments.

Denial of self is not exclusive to Christianity. Reaching true nirvana does not require a belief in a Trinity or that a divine being was tortured, executed, and resurrected to give us eternal life.

It's amusing to see you mock Transubstantiation yet quote from a man derided by some non-Christians as a Jewish wannabe, the true founder of a fusion religion combining the Old Testament concept of a Messiah with Greek pagan beliefs and practices.

Smugly quoting scriptures that do not live in your heart, you are an even bigger poser, Silly Sally. Lay down the Cross and follow the Noble Eightfold Path.

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hmmm ... sounds like a Holy War is starting up...

Maybe I should just make like Marmot's Hole and simply leave an open thread, unmoderated, for this battle and leave it up to God (or The Buddha?) to sort out the saved (or enlightened) from among the countless casualties.

Or maybe not. Stay 'nice', everybody.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

What's nicer than Browning?

However, you're my man, you've seen the world
--The beauty and the wonder and the power,
The shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades,
Changes, surprises,--and God made it all!
--For what? Do you feel thankful, ay or no,
For this fair town's face, yonder river's line,
The mountain round it and the sky above,
Much more the figures of man, woman, child,
These are the frame to? What's it all about?
To be passed over, despised? or dwelt upon,
Wondered at? oh, this last of course!--you say.
But why not do as well as say,--paint these
Just as they are, careless what comes of it?
God's works--paint any one, and count it crime
To let a truth slip. Don't object, "His works
Are here already; nature is complete:
Suppose you reproduce her--(which you can't)
There's no advantage! you must beat her, then."
For, don't you mark? we're made so that we love
First when we see them painted, things we have passed
Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see;
And so they are better, painted--better to us,
Which is the same thing. Art was given for that;
God uses us to help each other so,
Lending our minds out. Have you noticed, now,
Your cullion's hanging face? A bit of chalk,
And trust me but you should, though! How much more,
If I drew higher things with the same truth!
That were to take the Prior's pulpit-place,
Interpret God to all of you! Oh, oh,
It makes me mad to see what men shall do
And we in our graves! This world's no blot for us,
Nor blank; it means intensely, and means good:
To find its meaning is my meat and drink.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

That's my way of saying -- at the risk giving Silly Sally more reason to class you ominously with us cannibalistic cult captives -- that to me you're a kind of Fra Lippo Lippi of the blogosphere, Jeffery.

And I mean that as a high compliment.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go finger my rosary beads and venerate Mary. Besides, my hair shirt is getting too comfortable. Better change to a fresh, and freshly moritifying, one.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, KM. "A man's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"

About those hair shirts:

"Besides, my hair shirt is getting too comfortable. Better change to a fresh, and freshly mortifying, one."

Make sure that it's a "fleshly mortifying one," as well.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You Buddha-bitch ex-Mormon niggard.

I did not over look Christ's admonition to deny self. You really know how to push my buttons! I just don't Bible verse my comments to death. Thank you, very much.

Every religion plays the ascetic game. There is only one religion, however, that will inspire Horace to crucify his special fascination for Harisu.

Special gnostic techniques to divine the higher-self, or tap into the cosmic indifference of Nirvana -- won't take his hand off that nasty gear-shift. Neither will the Eightfold Path. Humans are wired from birth to have faith in persons, not impersonal cosmic forces.

There is only one person who can break him of the counter-magic to life's angst -- you know, that queer habit.

That's Jesus Christ.

Voting for Ron Paul is the second best thing, mind you.

Silly Sally

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

This abusive use of the vocative case by Silly Sally is the sort of thing that I want to discourage:

"Sonagi, You Buddha-bitch ex-Mormon niggard."

I assume that this is part of Silly Sally's Saturday-Night-Live rhetorical overkill, and, very possibly, Sonagi isn't offended by it, but I don't want any more of it on my blog.

Silly Sally, you may be joking (or not), but those not in on the joke might not understand the irony (if that's what it is), and I'm not willing to see my blog descend into the cesspool.

No more of this.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My, my Auntie Horace.

Don't be a prig. Abusive?

Buddhists are just as bitchy as the rest of us, and ex-Mormons can be quite petty. The last I heard, there is no special immunity for Buddhists and Mormons, is there? Don't worry. The angel Moroni, and Buddhist indifference to suffering will protect Sonagi.

Oh, are you worried about the decor of your sublimed blog? Have no fear. Such qualities imputed to Sonagi are not gratuitous scatological descriptions that offend the nose, but sterile objective descriptions of human character.

I know ad hominem is your special word de jour acting as a charm to shoo away evil. But, remember ad hominem is the attack of a person's character to AVOID an issue. In this case Sonagi's previous snide snipe is part of the issue.

Remember she implied that all religious roads lead to the same mountain top... and delivered this enlightened message with a bit of attitude. Yes indeed, Buddhist Eightfolders apparently bitch with
the best of us Jezebels. Shows just how mortified Sonagi really is.

Horace, we can't all be as sweet and lovely as Harisu. I don't want to break your fantasy life ... BUT PLEASE, have some tolerance for real women. We love a good cat fight.

I just want to be loved ... is that so wrong?

Silly Sally

At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No worries, Jeffery. I will use Right Speech. It seems that Brother Sally is suppressing his Buddha nature.

At 9:35 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, Silly Sally, you really were annoyed. I'm surprised. I was tilting toward irony on your part.


Game over, pinball wizard.

Now that I see that you can lose your cool, I'll keep tighter reins on your behavior.

You may have mortified the inner man, but I see that you expect grace to cover your willful acts. Sigh. What you would do, you do not; but that which you would not do, you do. Who shall rescue you from your body of death, poor Silly Sally.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:36 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Sonagi.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh! I heard the infamous Silly Sally was over on this site. Yep!I hate to break it to you Jeff. But, Silly Sally never loses her cool. If Sally feigns a loss of cool its to tease out, you guessed it, the mean streak of the blogger and his friends. You exposed your petty side a bit too easily. Looks like you were just waiting for a chance to get snippy with Sally's unique personality.

You lost the game. Believe me.

At 1:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't muzzle Silly Sally, Jeffery, for our words are a reflection of ourselves. Silly Sally is being true to herself, and her comments present an intellectually stimulating challenge to practice Right Speech.

At 4:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, aka Silly Sally, you missed the crucial wordplay and mistook the message. I tilted the game, intentionally. You break the rules, I'll stop the game.

Snippy? Me? Yeah, I'll snip at your sniping.

Mean streak? Sure, I have one, bear it with pride, and mean to use it. Don't break the rules.

I've left the reins loose and enjoyed your antics, but always with the implicit understanding that you not carry things too far.

You stepped over a line. Watch your step now.

Otherwise, expect some of those "Trees barking up the underdog."

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 4:21 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, Silly Sally's verbal antics are entertaining, and I recognize 'her' brilliance -- even 'her' intellectual depth.

Silly Sally's abusive words -- whether just teasing (as 'she' now claims) or genuinely spiteful (as I continue to believe) -- don't bother me, but I won't accept that manner of expression on my blog.

I've censored individuals for posting antisemitic rants, as you'll recall. When those same individuals then posted ad hominem attacks on my character, calling me a "coward" for deleting their words, I deleted those as well.

Some people require some assistance to attain the level of Right Speech.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the blogger who maintains the site and pays for the bandwidth, your word is sufficient. Perhaps Silly Sally might come out from under the bridge and join your blogroll.

At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I said, "...her comments present an intellectually stimulating challenge to practice Right Speech.," I meant that challenge was for me to practice Right Speech.

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, Blogspot is free, but I do maintain the blog.

Silly Sally is an interesting character, and I'm sincere in stating that I respect her intellect. She really is brilliant, even has intellectual depth.

...though her attempt at an anonymous sock puppet above was rather far beneath her usual level -- so far below that I'm tempted to believe that its poor quality is evidence that it really wasn't Silly Sally at all.

Or was writing beneath her level part of her game in pretending to be someone else?


Anyway, if Silly Sally were to start her own blog, I'd link to it. And she could say what she wants about me -- in whatever language she chooses.

I wouldn't care at all.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, I understood what you meant.

The problem is that not everyone will rise to the level of Right Speech, and the use of abusive Wrong Speech -- however intended -- by a certain Harvard Man will lower the level of this blog as others join in with their own Wrong Speech.

I've seen this happen too many times, so I'm prepared to be mean enough to put a stop to it.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh! Jeff, we don't buy it. Renaming your personal brand of political correctness to RIGHT SPEECH doesn't fool anyone. You are a prig using his own arbitrary standard as a hammer of malice against a unique personality. You can call your Procrustean bed simple blog propriety. But, to others it looks like mean spirited priggery. Discerning inspection reveals Sally to be quite proper. Maybe, there is a huge resevoir of ungodliness underneath that religious exterior. Or, maybe you are a bit dull. But, then you know your faults better than God. My two cents.

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, I guess that you're not Silly Sally, after all, for your manners are hardly charming and, moreover, totally without humor. She's better off without your support.

Here is the sort of speech that I object to:

"You Buddha-bitch ex-Mormon niggard." (Silly Sally, directed at Sonagi.)

"You are a prig... Or, maybe you are a bit dull." (You, directed at me.)

I'll leave your most recent comment up as an example of the sort of ad hominem that I find objectionable, but if you post another one like that, I'll delete it without bothering to comment.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


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