‘Sup? Major! Major!

Yet another failed quest for a Ms Universe title elicits a few reflections on the supposed shallowness of Filipino mores and culture.

Twice the favorite and twice spurned: in the dating world, such a disappointing result as that suffered by the Philippines’ past two contestants in successive rounds of the Ms Universe pageant would elicit some deep questioning of the self. “What’s wrong with me?” would be the burning question. And it is.

For the second year in a row, many commentators believe that the Philippine contestant missed out on being crowned Ms Universe due to less than satisfactory answers in the Q&A round. The first attempt went under when Venus Raj answered the question, “what is one big mistake you have made in your life?” with something like there had been no “major, major” stuff ups in her life so far (questioning the premise that she would even commit one) thanks to her parents’ influence and social upbringing.

That answer led many to surmise that the Q&A segment was not the Philippines’ strong suit. This year that point was made all the more clear by the simple fact that our contestant, Shamcey Supsup, having graduated at the top of her class at a leading university, should have had all the mental faculties to grapple with the question posed to her, and yet she still failed to impress.

For the benefit of those who haven’t followed events so far, the question was, “would you change your religious beliefs to marry the person you loved?” And the answer given by Ms Supsup was, “If I had to change my religious beliefs, I would not marry the person that I love. Because the first person that I love is God, who created me, and I have my faith and principles, and this is what makes me who I am. If that person loves me, he should love my God, too.

Now as one column opined, Supsup was “robbed” of the crown for providing a “Christian” answer. Certainly, if that were the case, then most Filipinos would agree with the premise that the question was loaded and that the judges were biased. But was that really the case?

The question posed to Ms Supsup did not make religious conversion a requirement for matrimony. It wasn’t prefaced with, “If you had to change your religious views…” as Shamcey’s answer was. It left room for her to still maintain her religious beliefs while entering an interfaith marriage. The question was about whether she would (voluntarily, if at all) change her religious affiliation to please her spouse and presumably fit in within his religious community.

The answer given by Shamcey was not necessarily of the wrong kind (“No, I will not change my views”), but rather it was simply couched in the wrong terms. It probably should have been along the lines of her maintaining independence (which was what the judges were most likely looking for) while being married (“I cherish my views and expect my future spouse to respect them, just as I would his.”).

American Bias

We have to acknowledge here that a certain amount of cultural bias was embedded in the question. For one, in America (where the Ms Universe franchise is based), the predominance of Protestantism has been eroded to a bare majority (of 51% of Americans as revealed by a Pew Survey back in 2008). Protestants are splintered into many denominations broadly characterised as Evangelical (26.3%), Mainline Protestant (18.1%) and historically black churches (6.9%). The more unified Catholics comprise the next biggest group (23.9%).

Given the fragmentation of denominations in the US (somewhat like a marketplace of religious ideas), it is no wonder that many do change their religious affiliation whether for marital or other reasons as 44% of adults surveyed have done at one point in their lives. The largest rising group is of those unaffiliated with any formal religion (16.1%), a large chunk of which (nearly half) still maintains a certain kind of spiritual belief or practice (freedom of religion is alive and well in America).

Rather than resisting the need to change her religious views out of a sense of independence, Ms Supsup’s reply seemed to imply a certain intolerance towards those who didn’t share in, and an expectation that they conform to, her beliefs. A majority of Americans by contrast (the same Pew Survey showed) agreed with the following statements that “many religions can lead to eternal life” (70%) and that “there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion” (68%).

Even among ‘born again’ Evangelicals, those who have held a very literal fundamentalist view of the Bible, the affirmative responses were 66% and 64% respectively. Among Catholics it was 79% and 77%. On the one hand, the monotheistic religions to which most Americans subscribe teach that there is but one absolute deity and consequently one absolute truth. On the other hand, a sizable majority of their adherents are willing to entertain a more pluralist and tolerant world view. What could have caused them to hold somewhat inconsistent views (a kind of Relative Absolutism as framed by one author)?

One visiting scholar from the US who came to Australia (and whose radio interview I cannot quite find the link to right now) claims that it has been the growing prevalence of interfaith marriage that has acted as a conduit for greater religious acceptance and tolerance in American society at large.

Among Catholics, 22% are in an interfaith marriage. Among Evangelical Protestants, that ratio is 32%. Among Jews, it is 31%. And among mainline Protestants, it is 46%. These figures lend some credence to the scholar’s view. To quote a line from Star Wars, “only a Sith (of the dark side) deals in Absolutes.

So going back to the matter at hand, within the American cultural context, Shamcey’s views would generally be regarded as tending towards religious intolerance by a majority of its people. In closed societies in fact, that sort of reasoning would support a caste system where intermarriage would lead to social stigma which makes it strange, given the humble socio-economic status of the contestants’ families.

The answers supplied by both Venus and Shamcey would be seen either as a product of ignorance or a sign of personal or cultural arrogance. An unwillingness to admit that one has ever made any sort of mistake in one’s life is similar in nature to maintaining a view that only one set of faith-based beliefs are true. It is no wonder, given the sort of monolithic Catholicism practised in the Philippines, why it remains one of the few places in the world where public debate over reproductive health and responsible parenthood or divorce for that matter still rages on.

The Shallows

This cultural and religious monotheism pops up in many areas in Philippine society. I have previously highlighted our response to the World Values Survey in which churches emerged as the one single institution that garnered almost universal trust and confidence (placing us in the same league as Iran, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Morocco). Our country may not be called Philippinestan; and, our people may not be required to wear veils over their heads, but in a cultural sense, they in fact do.

It was not for lack of beauty or brains that our contestants failed to secure the Ms Universe crown. It was perhaps due to a lack of independent thinking or a broadened worldview. In other words, Filipinos tend to take a very dogmatic approach in developing their thoughts and ideas, adopting the official world view handed to them in a sort of unthinking or mindless way.

As F. Sionil Jose asserted recently, there just seems to be an intellectual and cultural malaise of shallowness afflicting the Filipino. Now before I get bunched together with the anti-Pinoy (and for that matter anti-Christian) crowd, let me qualify Jose’s assertion by saying that to some extent this is partly to do with modern technology and isn’t confined to Filipinos alone.

As in the book, The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, one could mount an argument that in a world where the word google is a verb, where e-books show us the feedback from other people before forming our own thoughts regarding the author’s thesis or narrative, and where cloud computing enables us to select friends, music and reading material based on what we are currently viewing, our ability to pay focused attention in reflectively forming a considered view has been seriously undermined if not impaired.

But even before the digital revolution converted us all into a bunch of twitterers (enunciating our views before ruminating), reading culture among Filipinos has been sorely missed (“why read and form our own views when we have other people to do that for us?”). Jose’s prognostications are echoed in the pop scene by music guru Toti Dalmacion who has lamented over the years about the narrow scope of the average Pinoy’s listening palette (although he recently acknowledges that this is slowly changing).

Both Jose and Dalmacion represent opposite ends of the cultural spectrum between high and low art (although Toti might contest the characterization of what he does as art). Both are considered mavericks in their field, yet recognized for their accomplishments. It is not that they want to see everyone subscribing to their particular sensibilities (Sionil’s independent bookstore Solidaridad and Dalmacion’s now defunct Groove Nation record bar attest to their high standards). Those with an astute sense of literary or musical awareness after all revel in the exclusive nature of their proclivities (for them the kind of material one reads, watches or listens to matters because they define the “you”-ness of you). It is more a question of why aren’t there MORE Filipinos who engage in similar pursuits.

In other words, why do the vast majority of our countrymen simply shut themselves out from cultural exposure? Why do they subscribe to the orthodoxies that they have been fed with by the “shallow” media sources or their church? Why do they fail to dig deeper, explore or venture out on their own (as if doing so would spell mental or social suicide)?

This is more than just an intellectual wank by a bunch of grumpy elitists. The same thing can be applied to governance–to the way our leaders manage economic policy in particular. Successive governments (the current one included) have been quite happy to apply the orthodoxy of Washington’s economic high priests in determining the course of development for the country, as I have previously pointed out. The result is an economy that has been described as being too “narrow, shallow and hollow” by the same experts who ironically espouse the same official world view.

The failure of our nation to rapidly catch-up with the early- and late-industrializing nations of Continental Europe and East Asia despite our rich natural endowments of beauty and resources including a skilled and well-educated workforce has long been the topic of conversation within the development community. Yet anyone who dares question the establishment’s formula gets labelled a radical or heretic and then treated as a pariah.

It seems it doesn’t matter whether we are competing in a pageant of beauty and brains or a marketplace for ideas, goods and services. When it comes to answering some of the most basic of questions, Filipinos tend to rely on a purely formulaic and dogmatic approach. Unfortunately, in the diverse and pluralist world that we live in, that sort of mindset will simply land us among the runner-ups instead of the world’s best.

Doy Santos aka The Cusp

Doy Santos is an international development consultant who shuttles between Australia and the Philippines. He maintains a blog called The Cusp: A discussion of new thinking, new schools of thought and fresh ideas on public policy (www.thecusponline.org) and tweets as @thecusponline. He holds a Master in Development Economics from the University of the Philippines and an MS in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

  • I agree, if she answered in a more neutral manner (not being biased to one religion ei. christianity ) she would have scored more and would have probably taken the crown.

  • presidio bacalso

    hoy mga hunghang umayos kayo..masyado nyo pinagdedebatehan ang beauty pungent . eh luto nman ang miss universe kase ang panalo lage nasa earth.

  • Anonymous

    Or maybe it was a more casual style (jeans,  less make-up)  that’s reason why Miss Angola won.  OR… maybe it is, as Miss France surmises… Portuguese:
    ——————–

    But when Leila Lopes won she(Miss France) said, “the win surprised her (actually she said all the contestants were surprised) and noted that Miss Angola hardly ever wore makeup and she often wore jeans.”
    Lopes was a very reserved kind of person and she also lacked in personality, Thilleman said.
    “Oh, and the fact that the contest was held in Brazil also played a big role — the implication being that Angola is a former Portuguese colony like Brazil. (If that’s the case then why didn’t they just elect Miss Brazil?),” Thilleman told the magazine.
    Miss France’s quotes, as translated by The Washington Post: “She was the only girl I didn’t know very well. We didn’t see her much; she was very discreet. She was often in jeans and not wearing makeup. We were all surprised by her win. Many girls made efforts that were not rewarded. I don’t know, something is missing in her temperament. The fact that the competition was held in Brazil surely played a role.”

    • GabbyD

      sigh. did they wear jeans during the pageant?

  • GabbyD

    your analogy is that filipinos are closeminded, as evidenced by the answer and the result of the pageant. 

    later, you extend it to development policy, which is a true headscratcher. in the extended analogy, the majority is “shamcey” and the dissenters are the “west”. thats weird coz in the ms u situation, the “west” had power, while “shamcey” was the one rejected and without power.

    which leads me to the point. can we say that the judges/”the west” are the intolerant ones?

    • I wasn’t making an analogy; I was making observations or citing several cases that prove the point, drawing a conclusion based on those observations, GabbyD.

      • GabbyD

        examples? several cases — as in plural? i count only one — shamcey. you compared shamcey to the filipino people at large, and then to the development majority. 

  • Joe America

    The notion that somehow excuses and blames are needed if Miss Philippines was not number 1 is weird. Where is the satisfaction that the Phillipine rep has done well 2 years running? Such overboard angst reflects undernourished egos.

  • Manuelbuencamino

    I would change my religion …no…actually I will find religion…oh shamcy…oh well next year it’s going to be someone else…but I just saw the pictures…and Miss Angola and Miss China are faith changers too

  • GabbyD

    so cusp, if shamcey didnt include that last sentence, she wouldve done better?

  • Nik

    Curious essay.

    A simple personal answer to a question some how becomes a referendum on the ills of Philippine culture; a favored whipping boy for the West and their ilk. As it has been for decades. At the root of this, as much that I have read, is the basic assumption that the Philippines will be fine if they become more Western.

    I have no problem with her answer; just as I would if an American said that love surpasses all. Or a Frenchwoman answered that faith does not enter the equation. Predicating cultural superiority on matters of faith and perceived differences is a time-honored tradition to substantiate certain external policies.

    As I said, curious, but interesting at least.

  • Trex705

    Younhave to get your facts straight Mr. Santos. What is the point of your analysis if the basis is alll twisted.

  • Trex705

    Get your facts straight Mr. Santos ! What is the point of this analysis if the facts are all twisted ?

  • Trex705

    Get your facts straight Mr. Santos ! What is the point of this analysis if the facts are all twisted ?

  • I didn’t see anything wrong with her answer, and at the same time, you people are blowing this Miss Universe thing out of proportion. SO WHAT if she didn’t win? Would all of the problems of the Philippines suddenly vanish once a Pinay Miss Universe puts on her crown? The fact that people are making such a big fuss over this so-called “failed attempt” is probably indicative of an even bigger problem – a desperation-fueled cultural inferiority complex. I certainly don’t hear Ukrainians cussing about how they blew their chance. Grow up, people.

    • Bert

      And Miss Ghana winning the crown would not make Ghana’s citizens culturally superior.

      • Or Miss Angola for that matter.

    • You are right that these contests are meaningless. In all reality, win or lose, what does it really matter for the country or the person?

      Calling it “Miss Universe” cracks me up, too. I don’t recall any contestants from the moon or Mars. It’s not unlike America calling it’s one-country baseball championship the “World” Series (oops. sorry, Canada)

    • It wasn’t about winning or losing, Elson. I think you might be missing the point. You can win without deserving to win. You can also lose but still be a winner. In Supsup’s case, in all honesty, we would have to conclude that she didn’t deserve to win. 
      Many will agree with your point, particularly those from the feminist camp, that beauty contests are lame. But one part that is credible which is its redeeming quality is the humanitarian duties the winner performs. 
      And in that regard, I believe the judges were looking for an ambassador who could promote peace and harmony across different ethnic groups. That’s why such questions though some might find lame are worth asking.

  • GabbyD

    i think i get cup’s premise. shamcey’s answer ends with: “If that person loves me, he should love my God, too.”

    now presumably, “my god” is xtian. the statistics for changing religious affiliation from xtian to non-xtian is less than 44%, its in the 20ish something percent. 1 in 5.

    • GabbyD

      if its only 22%, this CANNOT be right:

      “So going back to the matter at hand, within the American cultural context, Shamcey’s views would generally be regarded as tending towards religious intolerance by a majority of its people.”

  • Like GabbyD, I’m confused, too. The question was indeed, “If you had to change your religious views,” (albeit worded as: “Would you change your religious beliefs.”) I don’t see the difference.

    All the statistics don’t really matter, since they asked her as an individual, whether she would be willing to change religious views in order to marry someone she loved. She answered according to her own conscience, and I think she answered well. Her answer was gracious and articulate, and gave her reasons without any negativity.

    If her relationship with God is important to her, and she considers God the have the highest place in her life (pretty much a definition of “God,” anyway), what is wrong with her being honest about it? Why should she pretend to be willing to be a part of an interfaith relationship? What she really said was that the basis of the kind of relationship she wants to be in would be shared values, starting at the very core of who she is.

    But in the modern world where tolerance is the highest value and is too often redefined as wishy-washiness, it’s no surprise that her answer, which indicated a strong personal faith, would not be well-accepted. Sincere religious belief is not an add-on; it’s a worldview, and not lightly discarded or compromised.

    I’m sure she is disappointed for losing the contest. Most of the contestants will do whatever it takes to win. But Shamcey chose not to live with guilt over compromise in order to win. I applaud her for that.

    My question to those judging the contest would be, “Would you be willing to tolerate a contestant’s religious views and allow her to win, if her views differed from yours?”

    • All I can say is what an insecure god she must have (from your description) if even the notion of an interfaith marriage would be unacceptable to him. How feeble he would be if he could not withstand the competition from other gods, so much so that he would have to forbid his followers from being “yolked to unbelievers” to shelter their potential offspring from being “contaminated” by exposure to other belief systems.

      By the way, Bill, that’s a very literal translation of the question that you’ve applied. No wonder you came to that conclusion.

    • All I can say is what an insecure god she must have (from your description) if even the notion of an interfaith marriage would be unacceptable to him. How feeble he would be if he could not withstand the competition from other gods, so much so that he would have to forbid his followers from being “yolked to unbelievers” to shelter their potential offspring from being “contaminated” by exposure to other belief systems.

      By the way, Bill, that’s a very literal translation of the question that you’ve applied. No wonder you came to that conclusion.

      • I’ll just say I don’t believe it’s a matter of “insecurity” and leave it at that. It’s a matter of worldview, and I don’t think this is the proper forum for me to answer that. I’m a guest here and don’t want to have the appearance of having come in with the intention of arguing about this kind of topic =)

        • If not insecurity, then what motivation would be behind it? Distrust? Fear? Animosity? Anger? Hatred? These qualities are incongruous with a loving, just god, which is perhaps why a sizable majority of Evangelicals don’t subscribe to this view.

      • GabbyD

        ok. think about it this way:

        some relationships require fidelity. marriage is one. now, if u dont believe in an open marriage, would i accusse you of being “insecure”? whats sex here and there if we LOVE each other, right?

        same with faith. 

        • Yes, GabbyD, that’s more like how I would explain it. You’ve given me opportunity here, perhaps, to explain what I said earlier I was not going to write. I did not want to seem argumentative. But I want to explain the underlying values, as I see them, as it’s hard to get inside another value system’s head, so to speak…

          Shamcey was not asked (not did she say) she was intolerant or that she would require someone ELSE to change their beliefs. She only said that she valued her commitment to God and would remain true to it and would want her spouse to share that deep value with her. She even said that she “loved” God, so why change beliefs “for love” if love is the basis for her beliefs in the first place? Anyway, if the question was intended to test her qualification as an “ambassador,” they should have asked how she felt about allowing religious pluralism, mixed with secularism, to exist in the world. So the question may have been flawed.

          It’s a worldview question at the core. If you don’t believe in God, it’s easy to ignore God altogether. To you, God is make-believe or just an idea that helps people to cope, or to live nicer lives. Or if you believe in many equal gods (or that all “gods” are really the same pereson with different names, and all roads reach the same end), then that will inform your understanding of how (or whether) to show loyalty to one God. There’s no problem with spiritual flexibility.

          But if God is a person (rather than merely a concept), then God would have values and opinions, etc. Those would not be for us to decide (we can’t say, “I can’t believe in a God who _____ “, because then we have slipped back into creating God in our own image.) It’s somewhat like dating someone. You find out with they like and do that, you don’t say, “Oh, she will love any movie I take her to.” And if your worldview includes a wide range of spiritual reality (some good some evil, i.e. false gods), you would not accept all beliefs as equally valid or beneficial.

          GabbyD, fidelity in a marriage is a very good example. Love is a two-way commitment. And no one is expected to shower goodness back on someone who does not love them back (but God does, if you believe that our very life and breath come from God whether we believe or worship or not). So there is utang na loob, which is another analogy that Filipinos should understand. If God created us and everything else, and gives us breath, we certainly owe a lot. To thank another “god” or to show lack of gratitude to the one who gave us life would be uncool (oops… I think “uncool” is not really a theological term, but it works *smile*) There are political/kingdom analogies, but I won’t go there.

          In our world today we are very shy of anything that smacks of fundamentalism or intolerance. And rightly so. And it’s not just “that other religion” which seems to be guilty of this. Christianity, or something which claims to be, has been brutally intolerant through the ages, too. The same goes for many so-called “pagan” religions. But there have been some pretty horrifying greed, abuse and genocide committed by those with no religion at all. So I think it’s more a symptom of the human heart than of any religion in particular. But we need to be careful not to judge the whole by the acts of some, or to judge each individual wrongly because of the sins of others.

          So I believe we need to distinguish between graciously articulated faith, faithfulness and fidelity, and arrogant intolerance. They are not the same thing at all.

          Again, to clarify, I’m not telling anyone to change their beliefs here, either. I’m just explaining the worldview behind statements like Shamcey’s, since I think there is a lot of misunderstanding.

          Enjoy the discussion and am very honored to hang out with you here!

          peace

          • GabbyD

            bill, pls be argumentative if u must. this is what a comment section is for. just dont be a d-bag 🙂

            also, her last sentence does point to/hint at wanting the partner to change his religion and instead “love her god”. 

          • Ha ha at “please be argumentative” =) Thanks, Gabby.

            We’d have to ask her, but I’m not sure that she was saying that a partner would have to change, or if “loving her God” was simple a prerequisite or qualification she was looking for in a partner. A “preexisting condition,” so to speak.

            Okay, back to work. That pesky real-life day job calls…

        • So based on your definition of fidelity, anyone who enters into an interfaith marriage is an “infidel”, GabbyD, is that what you are trying to say?

          • GabbyD

            people who decide NOT to enter interfaith marriage consider it AKIN to infidelity. 

            people who decide to enter interfaith marriage OBVIOUSLY don’t.

          • Actually, GabbyD, many who enter into interfaith marriages still face a lot of personal doubt, isolation, shame and anguish because they feel as though they have violated their faith and because of those in their faith-based community who treat them like infidels as well.

          • GabbyD

            absolutely! all decisions involve some kind of cost, if only some opportunity cost. (i.e if i do X i’d lose Y!).

            regret is always gonna be there. 

            but the fact is, they decided to get married. so ultimately, they dont think its as important to them as other’s of the same faith. 

            i will say this — some  of it is societal pressure. ex: the jews., see “keep the faith”. notice what ben stiller’s apology was about. it wasnt betrayal of God, it was betrayal of social expectations. he apologized for not being truthful, and if this was a dealbreaker, they can vote him out as rabbi. 

          • Isn’t it enough that people face social isolation and ostracism (even physical abuse in extreme cases) for their choices of spouse. Should they be threatened with divine retribution as well (as in the case of some religious teachings)? That’s just another form of psychological abuse or mind control in my opinion.

          • GabbyD

            you know whats funny. ur committing a logic error that i thought economists were immune after years of training- there are costs AND benefits.

            so far i see only costs, and its clear to see why (i.e. u focus on costs when u ignore the benefits because u want to downplay the benefits).

            seeing costs AND benefits is the biggest, most important tool economists bring to the table. i’m surprised you forgot that. 

          • There is nothing illogical about this. Being threatened with divine retribution by a god of love and compassion. That’s the illogical argument.

            To be faced with divine retribution is like facing an infinitely inelastic cost curve. But unlike the purely rational interpretation of neoclassical economists, the behavioral view allows agents to have inconsistent time preferences. But that is beside the point.

            Physical, social, psychological and spiritual abuse are things that decent and humane societies try to prevent from happening to their members, particularly the vulnerable and less powerful.

          • GabbyD

            i pointed out the error. but i see you are doubling down 🙂 sige. go!

            if you are ever TRULLY interested, you can go and seek answers to those questions yourself. if u have heard the best answers and still reject it; its fine.

            but thats largely beside the point. people do have benefits, and they view the costs differently from you. 

            once you understand that, that is the beginnings of  TRUE TOLERANCE.

          • never said they didn’t weigh the benefits. perhaps you shouldn’t put words in people’s mouths.

          • GabbyD

            ok. you said you included the benefits…

            now you say they weigh the benefits. so whats the story — they weight the benefits and costs of  interfaith marriage, and…? now its more confusing.

            all i’ve been reading from you are the costs (of interfaith marriage). had you AT LEAST mentioned benefits, it wouldve been ok.

          • no amount of temporal benefits can outweigh divine or eternal costs, GabbyD, hence the allusion to spiritual abuse.
            a purely rational individual would forego temporary happiness for an eternity of bliss. however, the fact that a large number do make a decision that violates their beliefs shows that there is intertemporal inconsistency of preferences.
            it shows that people are not purely rational. and that’s where i believe many economic policies fail too by the way, since they make assumptions about the rationality of individuals contrary to the evidence.

          • That’s the point. It’s a matter of worldview. If a religion is just something people make up, and they impose rules on others and threatened with make-belief consequences in order to control them, that would be wrong. And to submit to that would be foolish. If, however, it is a revelation of God, that’s a different matter.

            To put it into everyday terms, say a guy is dating a girl. If someone tells him, out of ulterior motives, “Hey, you better take her out for Mexican food every week, but don’t every mention marriage,” our hero should ignore the untrue and unhelpful advice. But what if he has a letter from the girl herself saying, “I love Filipino food and I’m looking for a man who wants to commit to a lifelong marriage.” To ignore the letter (or someone who reminds him what the letter said) is not going to help his courtship.

          • You have just laid down the argument for religious persecution and intolerance, by saying that if religion were just make believe it wouldn’t be right to control people, but if it were divinely revealed, then it would be justified.

            If God indeed wanted to reveal himself, he would do so without relying on intimidation, persecution, ostracism by his followers. What a feeble god that would be if he needed such forms of maltreatment to get his message across. Tsk tsk.

          • You misunderstood me, Doy!

            I was not saying that others force are justified in forcing anything on someone else. You are reading that into my comment, but it’s not there. I was speaking of the believer’s own voluntary response to what they feel is God’s revelation. In my example, the man has the letter; he wants to have a relationship. He wants the courtship to succeed. He heeds the letter or a friend reminds him of what he knows about the girl. There was nothing there about someone intimidating, persecuting or ostracizing him.

            The whole (perhaps overly-extended) discussion here is about whether or not Shamcey has the right to base a personal decision upon the importance of her own faith.

          • I was just bringing your point home to its logical conclusion, Bill. As for Shamcey, we need to broaden the discussion here. She misinterpreted the question and it led to an answer that was ill-informed.
            Does she have the right to hold her views? Of course. But the larger issue here is what form of religious teaching requires such strict devotion? And what sort of divinity is that teaching based? And what sort of interfaith (and interracial, because the two are intertwined) conflict would it lead to in the broader society if push came to shove.

          • Well, that’s not the logical conclusion of what I said. It’s the point you want to make.  Tama na.

          • My point is to show you the logical conclusion of your argument. Before we call it quits, you should first explain what you meant by your statement:

            “If a religion is just something people make up, and they impose rules on others and threatened with make-belief consequences in order to control them, that would be wrong. And to submit to that would be foolish. If, however, it is a revelation of God, that’s a different matter.”

            You are saying being coerced into submission would be foolish if religion were just man-made, but it wouldn’t be if it were divinely inspired. It follows that the coercion is justified.

          • No that’s not what I was saying. And thanks for asking again =)

            I can see I was unclear there.. Sorry about that. So the ellipsis is being filled in, but not with anything I would have said, had I taken the time to be more explicit.  I think that lack of clarity came from writing these comments in free moments during work, not thinking it out and proofreading it as I would a blog, etc. It seems to be mixing up the individual response with coercion from a group. Here are the underlying points I was attempting to make, teased apart so (hopefully) it’s more clear:

            1) it’s wrong to coerce others

            2) it’s foolish to follow any religion if you believe it is only man-made ideas, and therefore optional, and you simply pick and choose what sounds good to you; if it’s not true, why bother?

            3) it is foolish (and wrong) to claim that you acknowledge a body of teaching to be a revelation from God, but to ignore it as though it were merely man-made ideas; if it’s true, why ignore it?

            Bottom line: if you claim to believe in God (or a particular God), then let God be God and obey what you believe God has revealed.

            For those who feel they have found the truth, it is not right for them to force this on others. But it is equally wrong who those who feel there are “many paths” (or no path, or simply a parking lot) to judge those who follow their own conscience and faith as being narrow or to assume they are evil or coercive just because others are.

            All I was really saying is that Shamcey has the right to say that she only wants to marry someone who shares her Christian faith, and that she loves her God enough to choose him over a human love. She didn’t say she would force that on anyone. And if that kind of graciously-expressed inner conviction makes her a poor ambassador to the universe (whatever the heck that means!), then fine. They can pick someone else.

            Mas claro na sana.

          • Claro na, but it sounds very wishy-washy to me. If you believe there is but one path and you see others on the wrong path, it behooves you to try and prevent them from treading that path through any means available. That’s the natural progression of that belief.

            It’s very easy to say it’s wrong to use coercion, but that’s what actually happens both externally and internally to people who have been raised to believe in this and have followed their hearts.

          • We have to stop because our column will be one word wide, bro =)

            I did not say one should not share the truth out of love. Everyone does that, whatever the true and whoever they love. I was only countering your statement that I was condoning coercion, when I was not. Not wish-washy either.

            It’s not just religion that can be coerced, or lived in a wishy-washy manner. Any belief system (even a supposed system of non-belief) can do that. So the challenge is on both sides, how to share without coercion, and how to listen/hear without feeling threatened when no threat exists.

            ciao

      • GabbyD

        to bring it back…

        the question of this thread is: should god be “ok” with interfaith marriage, assuming all the usual qualities we associate with him (good, merciful, etc).

        cusp says YES.

        i say NOT necessarily. some relationships need fidelity. this is an example of a relationship where, SOME POEPLE believe fidelity is a fitting response. 

        and these PEOPLE arent systematically deluding themselves, or are wrong. they just believe in something different. 

        its that simple. 

        • Your summation of the argument is not accurate, GabbyD. It’s not for us to determine what god’s response to interfaith marriage should or shouldn’t be. That is already established by people’s belief systems.

          My point was that there seems to be a logical inconsistency in a belief system that posits a loving and kind god who relies on intimidation and eternal punishment in order to espouse fidelity to him which leaves no room for interfaith dialogue. There is also an inconsistency in your argument. How can people volunteer their fidelity if they are being coerced through some divine retribution system even if they say they do it out of love for their god.

          The fact is most Filipinos probably agree with Shamcey’s position. In societies with a predominant religion (think Iran, Indonesia, Nigeria, Tanzania), that sort of mindset is the norm. I don’t expect everyone to take my position. My sense of despair comes from asking why don’t more people actually take a contrary view.

        • Your summation of the argument is not accurate, GabbyD. It’s not for us to determine what god’s response to interfaith marriage should or shouldn’t be. That is already established by people’s belief systems.My point was that there seems to be a logical inconsistency in a belief system that posits a loving and kind god who relies on intimidation and eternal punishment in order to espouse fidelity to him which leaves no room for interfaith dialogue. There is also an inconsistency in your argument. How can people volunteer their fidelity if they are being coerced through some divine retribution system even if they say they do it out of love for their god.The fact is most Filipinos probably agree with Shamcey’s position. In societies with a predominant religion (think Iran, Indonesia, Nigeria, Tanzania), that sort of mindset is the norm. I don’t expect everyone to take my position. My sense of despair comes from asking why don’t more people actually take a contrary view.

        • GabbyD

          oh i c!

          i’m confused again. leading this thread, you said: “How feeble he would be if he could not withstand the competition from other gods, so much so that he would have to forbid his followers from being “yolked to unbelievers”…” implying this is a conversation about God’s view’s/attitude of interfaith marriage!

          ah, but no matter. by saying ” It’s not for us to determine what god’s response to interfaith marriage should or shouldn’t be. That is already established by people’s belief systems” we can agree that “people’s beliefs” determine what the attitude to interfaith marriage can be.

          all i have been saying is that “people’s beliefs” vary widely, even conditional on being xtian! (see for ex. you US evidence). all are valid — including shamcey’s view. so being open (OR NOT) to interfaith marriage are valid responses to a relationship with God.

          great! we all agree…

          now, as to your other point, i’ve said elsewhere:

          you can believe what you want about god and his relationship with man. clearly that fine. 

          but i can tell u with 100% certainty that others disagree with you. why? because they appriciate the BENEFITS and COSTS differently. obviously, from your language, the COSTS loom large (punishment, coercion, etc)

          i can tell you with 100% certainty, for others, thats not the key feature of the relationship. sigurado!

  • GabbyD

    sorry, i’m lost cusp.

    the question wasnt: are you willing to marry someone of a different faith. 

    the question is: are you willing to change your religious affiliation. 

    so whats the point?

  • My God trumps all others…. So suck on that…. At a time of great turmoil where religion is being used as a basis for all out warfare by some nut-jobs you have a beauty contest where a finalist mouths an all inclusive version of religion. 

    For secularists it is not acceptable. Supsup would have a good future with Fox News. 

    Damn good post Mr. Santos. 

    • Ms. Supsup did not say that, here’s what she said, 

       “If I had to change my religious beliefs, I would not marry the person that I love. Because the first person that I love is God, who created me, and I have my faith and principles, and this is what makes me who I am. If that person loves me, he should love my God, too.”

      Where’s the part that says “My God trumps others…”? Wala, ‘di ba? I think that she would even say yes to marrying the guy of different religion if she’s not asked to change her religious belief and if the guy ‘can love her God’, too. She’s not even asking the person to shift to her religion, so what’s your goat?