Wakey Wakey.
reveille precedes revelation

How do I know if I suck?

Seriously. You may feel insecure most of the time, or you might feel confident most of the time. Maybe you’re great. Maybe you’re not. How do you know?

Lawmar should be happy because I am only asking ONE QUESTION. Yes, there are two interrogatory sentences, but both sentences ask THE SAME THING.



20 Responses to “How do I know if I suck?”

  1. Why is no one answering this question? I think it’s AWESOME. Although, I have no idea what the answer is.

    I think I’ve spent most of my life feeling like on some level I suck. Suddenly, I don’t feel that way so much anymore. (Oddly enough, I think this is in large part to do with the fact that I no longer allow myself to make puns out of my last name . . . but that may be meaningless to most people here.) Does it mean I suddenly am much cooler . . . or that I’m just realising it for the first time . . . or that I’m becoming arrogant, and therefore less worthy than ever?

    Where’s the fine line between confidence and arrogance, and why is one so appealing and the other so repugnant?

    AND, does it really matter if I’m one or the other or totally hate myself? Is my value in what I think of myself or what others think of myself, or is it innate? And if it’s the last one, why is it innate? Where does innateness come from anyway?

    There. ‘Cause Dave only asked one question.

  2. …ask for a raise. Or, if you’re brave enough, quit your job and apply for your old position.

  3. This is a potentially very interesting subject, but can we have a hint why this topic came up and/or the link it has to the theology we normally discuss?

    Jenn, Dave, I vote that you don’t suck. Maybe we should do a poll?

  4. Thanks for the vote, gduck. Um, I don’t think polls are necessary, though.

    As for the link, I posit that *a* link may be my question of innateness. If we’re innately valuable, it seems like there still be a reason for it. So . . . might the reason be God? Or something else?

  5. You can’t equate “innate value” with not sucking. No matter how much I suck I would be innately valuable to my mom, and probably my kids as well. A lot of kids value a relationship with their absentee dads despite the fact that their dads suck.

  6. Oh, great! I’m just now getting time to get into this group and THIS is what I start with!? he-he.

    I find this more of psychological question than a philosophical one.

    But, ok, how about this: Sucking has a quality. We are assuming it’s a negative quality as we make it relative to a (probably) social standard. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s useful.

    I really suck at killing living things, so in this metro-sexual society, I can get by pretty well as a nice person. But in some places, not killing would make me a terrible provider for my family.

    Theologically, we would have to look-see if we are where we are meant to be. Maybe we are in the wrong place and that’s why we suck.

    One’s value can hardly come from what one thinks of oneself. I find self-loathing and self-pity as repugnant as I find arrogance. (recall Aristotle… the means between the extremes?)

    Of course, if you are Kant doing what you’re suppose to be doing and OTHERS think you suck….what they think doesn’t count either.

    Right now, I’m not doing what I’m suppose to be doing…and that sucks.

  7. Theologically, it is impossible to know if we are where we are “meant” to be (from a supposed, objective and supremely divine perspective) unless we are measuring that answer against a particular theological framework and worldview. Unfortunately, there are as many of those both within general religious categories (Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, etc…) as well as the myriad and ever shifting and mutating “denominations”, schisms, doctrinal systems, and perspectives *within* those general world religions. The theological take on this question is no more helpful, and perhaps only more confusing, than a purely socio-cultural-psychological secular answer. In fact, I believe human beings can recognize value in our species (and other things in our world) without invoking a god or gods. Indeed, morals and ethics have notably improved over the centuries, no thanks to ancient religious texts such as the Bible or Koran. Things are by no means perfect, but at least we recognize that slavery and genocide are deplorable acts (as opposed to biblical views on these subjects which were used for centuries to declare that some people did indeed “suck” and were able to be dominated or destroyed, at god’s command and allowance).

  8. Could we define ‘suck’ a bit more precisely? Is it a statement of one’s lack of intrinsic value? Lack of general usefulness? Lack of specific capacities? Does it refer to the sexual activity from which the idiom is derived, or sucking on something like hard candy?

    I would say with a degree of certainty that all humans have some intrinsic value, though the arguments are not beyond question. I would also say, with equal certainty, that I suck at basketball, for which I think I could provide unquestionable evidence.

  9. Agnosticus said:

    Indeed, morals and ethics have notably improved over the centuries, no thanks to ancient religious texts such as the Bible or Koran.

    Is that a fact?

  10. AaronC–not sure which part of Agnosticus’ statement you’re questioning the factuality of, but I echo the question mark.


  11. Jenn,

    While it is yet to be proven that ethics have improved over the centuries (and by what standard?), I would generally agree with the premise, within western culture at least (though many would not, methinks).

    However, being that the Bible is probably the cornerstone upon which popular western ethics are based. Certainly, it is excluded in the more prominent contemporary ethical systems, but by and large popular ethics are not defined by these systems, but rather by tradition. In the west, that is mostly classic interpretations of the New Testament (which may or may not be accurate).

    Let it suffice to say this: the cultures and countries that have been build on Christian principles are the best places to live (with the possible exceptions of Japan and portions of Latin America). As for the cultures that have been built on principles or Islam, they may speak for themselves.

    There is a reason that people immigrate from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East into Europe, America, Australia, etc.

    I’m not saying that everything is perfect in the west (or horrid in the east), or that horrific atrocities haven’t been committed in the name of Christ. I’m just saying that in a general and very observable way, it appears that the Bible has had a profoundly positive influence on ethics, in spite of isolated bits of evidence used to demonstrate otherwise.

    Of course, this is getting away from the point of the discussion.


    PS. I’m the guy Dave invited to the group when he saw walking down the street he was driving on, after I had met his wife a week earlier at the bus stop. At least I think it was Dave.

  12. Aaron, I tend to agree with your analysis.

    Interesting “How I Found out about Grey’s Theology” story–which I don’t remember Dave telling me about . . .

  13. Sorry I have not seen these most recent posts. I will answer your points by the weekend. Thanks! 🙂


  14. Oh, man, back in the old days, when Jenn and gduckett and everyone else was posting…man that was so cool. They made me laugh and cry and think and then… I didn’t write anything.

    OK, so here I am. Jenn, those are awesome questions, thank you for developing my thought. Please move to Madison and come to Gray’s.

    gduckett, that is a great idea. But maybe I don’t want to find out quite *that* badly.

    tere– Yay! You’re here online, even if you’re also watching TV on Thursday nights (booo… 🙂 )! Yes, it *can* be a psychological question, but it depends on how you approach it philosophically–if you think that human value is entirely based on subjective opinions. Perhaps it is, but it’s debatable. As you say,

    One’s value can hardly come from what one thinks of oneself. I find self-loathing and self-pity as repugnant as I find arrogance. (recall Aristotle… the means between the extremes?) Of course, if you are Kant doing what you’re suppose to be doing and OTHERS think you suck….what they think doesn’t count either.

    I think Kant is on to something…so the question–How do I know if I suck?

    So difficult!

    AaronC–Thanks for visiting my humble blog. I’m glad we ran into you. Yeah, this conversation is difficult because of my ill defined question. I like it because I think it speaks to a certain adolescent inside all of us who is very insecure (and perhaps should speak to a certain accomplished adult inside of us, who is perhaps more secure than he or she should be), but it is hard to talk about. Thanks for doing so despite the difficulty. You said,

    I would say with a degree of certainty that all humans have some intrinsic value, though the arguments are not beyond question.

    Yeah, I agree. I think most of us agree, but it is tough to talk about. Also: you are hilarious.

    Kevin, it sounds like you agree this question is hard too: there are multiple religious answers, and there’s the complex socio-cultural-psychological secular answers. I’m not sure who you’re arguing with, though. I mean, yeah, I do try to base my self-worth on what I understand the Bible to be saying about who I am as a human being. But I also realize many people don’t do this the way I do, but base their self-worth on something else. I’m quite aware that non-theists can be moral people who understand human value. I think we all understand it in a limited way, though. So… how are you trying to respond to my question again? It seems like you might be trying to answer some ghost apologetics person not appearing on this blog. 🙂 Also, there is this respect rule on this site, and your last comment about biblical views–well let’s say that comment didn’t exactly communicate respect. I think your opinion can be communicated without this kind of condescension.

    Back to AaronC – I’d add that I wouldn’t want to minimize the damage that has been done in Christ’s name, or the good things that have come out of non-Judeo-Christian philosophical and/or religious traditions. But in the case of the former, one can argue that things would have been better if the antagonists had been more faithful to aspects of that tradition, not less. And I agree, we shouldn’t make the same mistake in the other direction–minimizing the positive impact that the judeo-christian moral tradition has had in our society, despite the deep systemic problems we continue to face in areas where Christianity has made it’s mark. So yeah, I think there are reasons that biblical ethical ideas shouldn’t be so easily dismissed, even by non-theists. We are indeed off topic here, though.

  15. Dave. I wasn’t necessarily arguing with anyone (“ghost” or otherwise); rather, I was merely offering my thoughts on the matter. I thought we were free to do that. I was also, however, responding to what tere said: “Theologically, we would have to look-see *if we are where we are meant to be*.” The whole Christian take on the “meaning and purpose of life” is a very popular one today and I felt my statement was relevant in general in that way.

    But, if my viewpoint is not acceptable on this blog, then perhaps I should stop posting? As for my last statement, I’m not sure why I received a “warning” for it? I simply stated a fact about the Bible and what it contains. I never said that Christians on this blog would kill, subjugate or enslave people. The Bible does indeed promote slavery and genocide…it’s right there in the Old Testament (and even a little in the New.) It was a product of the culture in which it was written, but it’s still in there. Consequently, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Witch Burning went on for centuries and the Bible was used very plainly to support them by the church and society. If I am wrong, show me where I’m wrong, but don’t accuse me of being disrespectful when all I’m doing is stating obvious facts.


  16. Kevin–

    Thanks for connecting your comments to tere’s for me. Gotcha. Rub it in all you want, I missed it. 🙂

    Atheist/agnostic views are welcome on this blog and they are often enthusiastically expressed on Thursday nights (for some reason, you’re the only one who shows up online right now with your approach to life). You may not view it this way, but it seems to me (and apparently others) that you’re picking fights that send us spinning off topic, which makes it hard to have a conversation. You are free to view the Bible as a bloodthirsty, immoral book. You are free to say so. I do feel like the tone of your contributions, however, does not encourage the kind of conversation I’m going for. Over the weekend, I will do some thinking about how to clarify the aims of this blog and perhaps introduce some additional structure to keep the train running on the tracks. Perhaps we’ll both sleep better if you take a break until then. 🙂 Once those statements are up, maybe you’ll find this blog is a place for you to call home, but with a new approach. Or perhaps you’ll find that there are other places on the internet to scratch the itch that you have for the kind of conversation you’re looking for.

  17. I see. Essentially, it is because I have a strong opinion…not so much that I am “picking fights” as you seem to be characterizing me. In reading over what I have written and what others have written, I certainly do not see any more “spiraling” off topic from myself than others (since people vary widely in their opinions and responses). The problem, again, is that my opinion simply contrasts with most others on this blog and so is giving the appearance you are suggesting. The references to “picking fights” and needing to “scratch the itch” I have are not altogether fair as they caricature me unnecessarily and incorrectly. If having an opinion that contrasts too much with others on this blog is against the rules, then there is no need to “rewrite the rules” for me. I will leave. What I find most interesting, however, is that instead of responding to my points, I am being accused of being a troublemaker. You struck me as one who welcomes a wide array of opinions, but perhaps I was wrong, since you are saying I can share my thoughts but that I need to keep my “tone” in check. What tone are you speaking of? I think you (and others) are probably reading the tone into many of my remarks simply due to their directness, not due to any hateful intent on my part. I could try to be less direct, but then that would water down what I’m trying to say. Nonetheless… *sigh*

  18. Sigh indeed. 🙂

    Clarification, though–I’m not rewriting the rules over the weekend just because of this conversation. I’m reclarifying this blog’s purpose this weekend because of this conversation, *and* the conversation we had with that Christian at Gray’s awhile back (referred to in another post), *and* the time that other poster who didn’t seem to know you told you *you* were a dishonest person and I called him on it (in this conversation). Etc. On the other hand, we have another kind of problem where some folks here don’t feel safe to voice opinions. I’d love to hear some strong opinions on this site, but within a proper context. We have problems on both sides of that coin–need strong opinions, need to present them in a framework of safety. I accept responsibility for both these problems, I’m not a perfect moderator. And my job this weekend is to try and push this group towards constructive behavior on both sides.

    This site is very experimental and we’re trying to do a difficult thing–get people for very different backgrounds and belief systems to talk about big questions together. I don’t want to have that conversation in the same way traditional internet discussion groups have those discussions. I’m trying to design this site differently. It’s normal to add structure as a new thing grows, and I think now is a good time to do that. So, feel free to take it personally, but don’t take it all personally. 🙂

  19. Thanks for working so hard at this, Dave. I’m sensing (and sort of “getting”) the frustration from all sides, but I laud your desire for this to be a safe place to air strong opinions.

    Meanwhile, how ’bout a safe place to air really lame humour? ‘Cause I SO want to make a pun about AaronC’s moniker and “inerrancy;” I just haven’t come up with a good one yet . . .

  20. OMGOMGOMG…this sucks!

    Yes, I WAS going to go to bed….but I skimmed for that “problem” you [Dave] mentioned and found out that I MIGHT have been the catalyst for Kevin’s conflict…. not that I will take any blame for it!

    But….I hope I’m not too late to stop Kevin from leaving…. He’s NOT the only one of his kind here! I wanted him to know that… Although I’m not an agnostic…I’m more of an atheist. But I’ve been a (20+ year) Christian, and I have my “subjective expert” master’s degree in religion!

    I think my mention of the Theological perspective of “sucking” just sparked Kevin’s passion and interest. And maybe he did presume I was some Christian apologetic that got his ire up. His bad.

    But hey…. I do have to say, man, who’s not seeking to “be understanding” first, huh? Actually, I caught that Kevin’s reference was to my comments right away. I think some are being a little too sensitive. If anyone should have been offended first…it should be me! (I just kind of forgot to come back to read more, b/c I’ve been busy trying to find a job.)

    And, no, Kevin can’t prove that “Indeed, morals and ethics have notably improved over the centuries” – it’s good someone called him on that one! And in all fairness I will have to point out he made a logical argumentation taboo, called generalization: (“as opposed to biblical views on these subjects which were used for centuries to declare that some people did indeed “suck” and were able to be dominated or destroyed, at god’s command and allowance), because not EVERYONE used that interpretation of the Bible (ex., during our American civil war era) and so, no, Kevin it’s not “a fact.” And perhaps Kevin doesn’t see ANY good in slavery in any era, because he has a modern definition (perhaps based also on our American civil war era) of what slavery is.

    However, my greater interest is that Kevin did not seem to assume or associate a theological influence on a “purely socio-cultural-psychological secular answer.” I can’t seem to make any theological arguments without social, cultural, or psychological aspects coming into play. I would challenge Kevin to try to argue his cases here WITHOUT referencing any theological influence!

    And my last interest in keeping Kevin here is because I need him here! I need someone who has a least a similar belief as I do. And I need someone who can give strong opinions (but you need strong arguments to back them up), because I have a strong skepticism about everything. And Kevin seems like the kind of guy I don’t have to tippy-toe around.

    Strong metal needs a hard stone… or is that hard metal needs a strong stone… anyway, you know what I mean… to put a sharp edge on it.

    Get Kevin back here!

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