Monday, January 28, 2008

Chess players are people, too

Huh. Who knew a post about making FICS friends would give me reason to introspect and reflect.

Tom popped by to share his FICS handle and since I didn't recognize him (I now recall seeing him over at LEP) I popped over to his blog to have a look. Rather than chess, I was surprised to see a Christian blog.

I've had a tendency to skirt most personal details except as they relate to chess, directly and indirectly, on my blog, and then here I was saying to myself, "Woah...he's a Christian, and pretty devout as well (a Deacon, even!)...wonder if I should add him or not?"

I'm an Atheist.

I'm not gonna be burning any Bibles (I have two, actually, not counting my daughter's from her Christening), removing kids from devout parents (although I do agree with the sentiment that Richard Dawkins expressed that indoctrination is a form of child abuse) nor will I be waging war on xmas (well...not much- it has roots in pagan traditions pre-dating Christianity and blends with them, but don't quote me- I'm not the expert) or saying things like Satan Bless You when you sneeze (okay...maybe once in awhile :P).

I consider myself very open-minded and considerate of others views, no matter what I think of the views and beliefs themselves. I will challenge them in the appropriate venue (one forum I frequent and play games at has had several recent invigorating discussions of religion and morality with advocates of many creeds and religions and a good sense of camraderie). It shocked me that I would hesitate to add someone to a friend list based on their religon. I'm the minority at my workplace, by gender, race and religon (I'm not out at work), and here I was getting all xenophobic!

I wondered if I'd add Tom to a non-chess section of my blogroll that I've been contemplating (despite saying in the past that I wouldn't have a non-chess section), and how I'd respond if he hit me up for a game on FICS.

And really, there's nothing I should do but add Tom to my lists. Some people like me, some people don't. I can't change that and don't expect them to change my opinions of them. But at no point should I exclude people because of our differences...I'll be awfully lonely in short order if I do, and I'll be missing these opportunities to challenge my spirit of acceptance and openness.


  1. Wow, I am a bit surprised by your post but introspection and reflection are usually good things.

    Yes, I am very devout in my faith, in fact, most people would call me a fundamentalist. I know to many that is a derogatory label to I wear it with pride. I can't see how anyone can be a follower of Jesus and not be a fundamentalist.

    Having said that, let me be clear up front. I think you have made the wrong decision but it is not my job to "convert" you. That is up to God. Don't get me wrong, I feel strongly about sharing my faith but only at the correct time and under the right conditions. I am not pushy about it. I would not disrespect you by seeking to use your blog as a place where I would witness to you or anyone else. I am willing to answer any questions anyone has of me to the best of my ability.

    I guess according to Dawkins then, I am guilty of child abuse. I work very hard to teach my children (I have 3 daughters) to think as I do. I like to say that my goal is to create little versions of me (to which my wife always rolls her eyes). In addition to the adult sunday school class, I also teach our junior youth on sunday nights. My oldest is in that class and my goal is to build a foundation that all the children will have for the rest of their lives.

    On FICS there is a religious channel and I sometimes participate in discussions there. I used to do it much more often but I got tired of the "trolls" there. For those that don't know, a troll is someone just looking to start a fight and is not interested in a serious discussion.

    If you do not feel comfortable adding me to your notify list, I will not be offended. I don't take those things personally. If you ever have any questions of me, I will be happy to answer them.

    If we ever get a chance to play a game I don't know how how productive it would be for you. My ratings are usually in the low to mid 1500's (I have been in a slump lately and my ratings have slipped some). My main problem is that I am very inconsistent. I think my ratings would climb a bit if I could be more consistent.

  2. I totally added you to my notify list. I'm rated about the same as you, and suffer the same problems- inconsistency, so we'll have no problems relating chess-wise :)

    I'm very glad you responded and hope I didn't offend you by singling you out in such a way.

    I know the child abuse comment was provocative, and I'm sure your an excellent father given your interest in their future. I hope I didn't slight you there. A lack of interest would be even more damaging.

    It was really aimed at, what I feel, are more insidious traditions and teachings that prohibit medical treatments and the encouragement of mutilation or violence.

    I had no idea there's a religion channel on FICS. I would expect a good number of tools making trouble in there, and that's not the sort of people I like to be associated with.

    For any and all differences we may have, I'm sure we have more similarities: an interest in the well-being of our family, concern for the economy and how it'll affect our families, an interest in who's gonna be the next president and, of course, how to get better at chess :P

    We may disagree along the way, but with a little respect we'll have some fascinating discussions. My best friend, and best man at my wedding, reads the Bible and prays everyday, my wife is a deist (non-practicing Episcopalian) and many members of my family are regular church goers.

    In hindsight, I'm a little embarrassed to have even questioned adding a person based on their religon!

    Maybe I needed a little reminder of the differences we bridge everyday.

  3. I was not offended. I am never offended by someone identifying me because of my faith. It often gives me an opportunity to share my faith which I enjoy doing.

    The religious channel on FICS is channel 40. Sometimes there are very good discussions there but often there is nothing of substance going often deteriorates into non-christians attacking / demeaning weaker or less knowledgable Christians for the purpose of trying to destroy their faith.

    We do, indeed, have some common interests. Please don't be embarrassed. We are all a bit uncomfortable with people who are different from us...I am guilty too.

    I thought your rating was in the 1700's range but I may have confused you with someone else. I look forward to the opportunity to play a few games with you and maybe even have a discussion or two.

  4. Looks like we are scheduled to play next week. When is good for you? I am available most nights.