Talk:Thealogy/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Archive 1 Archive 2

Older talk (Jan 2002)

This is a great, meaty article, such that my first reaction was to look on Google to see if it had been swiped from somewhere.

The problem with it is that it is decidedly not neutral point of view. Can we, please, (at least lightly) rewrite it with that in mind? --LMS


Hi Lawrence, that was quick - feedback within minutes! I will assume your first comment is a compliment since it is not my habit to plagiarise other scholars. You refer to it as great and meaty - I did not think I was limited to brief definitions only. If so I will do that from now on. My usual habit for encyclopaedia articles is to put a short opening section which will satisfy superficial or moderate interest so a reader can opt not to continue if their interest does not go further.

The neutral point of view is oh dear highly problematic and I note the justifiably lengthy exploration of it as I followed your link. I did not see any coverage there of the rigorous discipline expected of post-modern and feminist scholars (such as myself) although I admit I only skimmed about 3/4 of it.

I belong to the school of thought that tries to be honest about one's partiality rather than trying to present an impossible and misleading neutrality. If a writer's bias (which is inevitable) is clearly shown, readers can take account of it and adjust their reception to suit their own bias, thus enabled to take control of the text as receivers. Neutral style gives a spurious authority that intimidates the reader.

In fact I have found already in deleting all first person grammar from my writing so far in submission to Wikipedia I sadly watch my text become far more authoritarian in tone than is my wish and I can't say I like that. Owning what is personal observation as such is so much gentler and more democratic than "It can be said... " or "Some people comment that ..." which sounds like a claim to authority. I'm genuinely unsure how to handle this but willing to learn.

But surely the Wikipedia process itself will produce alterations and additions and deletions by those not in sympathy with my standpoint. This will pull my text more towards what you want won't it? I have only submitted this in the clear understanding that it's a collaborative draft.

Shan Jayran, University of London


Yes, in my idiolect, "great" and "meaty" are good qualities for articles to have.  :-) We most certainly do want more than just definitions, and the reason I like this article is that it goes into some depth into a subject that we hadn't yet heard much about. It could, of course, go into even more depth, by giving more details about the arguments (for instance).

I would like to ask you, gently, please to reconsider the neutral point of view. It is our policy and has been from the beginning, first of all; but it's also not something that you need find any objection to. I sincerely believe that no one has yet given a serious criticism of it, on philosophical grounds, that did not evince a basic misunderstanding of what the policy is. Post-modern feminist scholars should not disagree with it on grounds that it asserts the possibility of objectivity--because it does not. (If you think it does, I would be very curious to see your arguments!) In fact, one might just as well think that it is founded on the view that there is no objective truth and therefore only perspectives, which out of politeness if nothing else we should try to express sympathetically. A few different firm believers in objective truth have strong misgivings about Wikipedia's nonbias policy, in fact, precisely because it doesn't assert as objective truth what they believe to be objective truth!

It seems to me that the only people who disagree with the policy are those who think--for whatever reason (and it certainly needn't be a philosophical reason)--that it is very important that we make Wikipedia express some definite point of view on some controversial issues. The problem is, Wikipedia is an international and collaborative endeavor. We don't own articles here. Despite your great work, you do not really "own" your thealogy article: you've donated it to the project and thus to the world at large. You've given your consent that other people can work on it freely. Accordingly, many of us working on Wikipedia take at least some small personal responsibility for what appears here.

So, when you say, "I belong to the school of thought that tries to be honest about one's partiality rather than trying to present an impossible and misleading neutrality," while I respect and admire the sentiment, it's a bit irrelevant here. It describes, perhaps, a fine approach to writing signed journal articles, but we aren't writing signed journal articles--we're writing unsigned, internationally collaborative, encyclopedia articles. We aren't "owning" articles here, and partiality is contrary to the policy that makes it possible for us to work together and arrive at consensus. And, by the way, be careful about what the consensus is about: it's not an impossible (!) consensus about controversial matters, but a consensus about how different views are expressed, on the assumption that all of them must be stated fairly and sympathetically.

You also write:

In fact I have found already in deleting all first person grammar from my writing so far in submission to Wikipedia I sadly watch my text become far more authoritarian in tone than is my wish and I can't say I like that. Owning what is personal observation as such is so much gentler and more democratic than "It can be said... " or "Some people comment that ..." which sounds like a claim to authority. I'm genuinely unsure how to handle this but willing to learn.

I understand, and writing in a neutral fashion is certainly a learned skill. We have long had a rule (or policy) against first person writing precisely because it implies that the writing is the speech of just one person--which, on Wikipedia, it isn't. I sincerely believe that, in the context of an encyclopedia, it is rather more authoritarian for someone to say "I believe that such-and-such," as if the person's opinion were--in the grand scheme of things--particularly important for the readers of a general encyclopedia article to know about. Why not think that that is rather authoritarian (in this context)? On the other hand, if we say such things as "a majority of 'thealogists' would say that..." then we are just being given a report about what a majority of thealogists would say; we aren't being cajoled into agreeing with them. We are left free to make up our minds for ourselves.

Best regards,
Larry Sanger

- - - - -

Larry, thank you for a cordial and considered response. I imagine this issue needs repetitive attention. Hope you don't mind but I want to reply by splicing your text like an email, because I want to grasp this. (defense: others might find this dialogue helpful and I don't know where else to do it) So I leave your text above, copy in, & comment. Hope that's an OK Wiki style.

Apart from the main issue -

Larry: ....the reason I like this article is that it goes into some depth into a subject that we hadn't yet heard much about. It could, of course, go into even more depth, by giving more details about the arguments (for instance).

  • Shan: I think that'll need more thealogians discovering this to round it out. Unless I do a serious research effort I havent got any more to say atm and no time right now to do another paper with fresh research material.


.........COPY Larry: I would like to ask you, gently, please to reconsider the neutral point of view. It is our policy and has been from the beginning, first of all;

  • Shan: Sure, of course I will. Firstly this is your turf not mine and you make the rules - however open and collaborative you are also trying to be. I'm happiest being clear on that.

Larry: ... I sincerely believe that no one has yet given a serious criticism of it, on philosophical grounds, that did not evince a basic misunderstanding of what the policy is. Post-modern feminist scholars should not disagree with it on grounds that it asserts the possibility of objectivity--because it does not.

  • Shan: Not completely convinced, but reassuring even so.

Larry: In fact, one might just as well think that it is founded on the view that there is no objective truth and therefore only perspectives, which out of politeness if nothing else we should try to express sympathetically. A few different firm believers in objective truth have strong misgivings about Wikipedia's nonbias policy, in fact, precisely because it doesn't assert as objective truth what they believe to be objective truth!

  • Shan: I'm pretty post-modern so relativism is largely OK. I don't think aside from utterly abstract philosopher fantasy of complete illusionary reality, or the religious concept of maya, that there's no objective truth though. The dominance of the means of production in shaping society come to mind, the existence of dominance is another. But that may not be helpful. I certainly don't want Wikipedia to assert any objective truth - even if there is any! It's better used as a collection of perspectives, and it is that that interests me here.

Larry: It seems to me that the only people who disagree with the policy are those who think--for whatever reason (and it certainly needn't be a philosophical reason)--that it is very important that we make Wikipedia express some definite point of view on some controversial issues.

  • Shan: I don't think Wikipedia should express any particular view, as above, it's not my turf. Even if it were 'my project', that would mean I'd have committed to its collective ethos by now so I still wouldn't want that (unless I did so unaware and the wiki process would wiki that out I think!). I would though, like it to include some points of view I find important. So far that seems likely. If it doesnt fit they'll go in my own TWiki so no harm done. Plenty of space for all on the Net.

Larry: The problem is, Wikipedia is an international and collaborative endeavor. We don't own articles here. Despite your great work, you do not really "own" your thealogy article: you've donated it to the project and thus to the world at large. You've given your consent that other people can work on it freely. Accordingly, many of us working on Wikipedia take at least some small personal responsibility for what appears here.

  • Shan: Darling I love the ref to 'great work.' Truly I don't own any of my writing really, as copyright is hard to enforce (esp on the Net) and I'm not possessive about mental stuff anyway. Less idealistically it helps belonging to a minority field as the gossip net would quickly put right any lack of credit I felt I was owed- distinctive style helps.

Larry: So, when you say, "I belong to the school of thought that tries to be honest about one's partiality rather than trying to present an impossible and misleading neutrality," while I respect and admire the sentiment, it's a bit irrelevant here. It describes, perhaps, a fine approach to writing signed journal articles, but we aren't writing signed journal articles--we're writing unsigned, internationally collaborative, encyclopedia articles. We aren't "owning" articles here, and partiality is contrary to the policy that makes it possible for us to work together and arrive at consensus.

  • Shan: Hm. unsigned, collaborative, yes. But "...partiality is contrary to the policy that makes it possible for us to work together and arrive at consensus" - I don't see how it can be in the sense I use it. To be partial is inevitable. Since I am not the Goddess but only a little goddess, my view on anything is partial. Or, in less subcultural vocab, none of us has a "god's eye view." So collaboration is generated from partiality, as in partial contributions.

Larry: And, by the way, be careful about what the consensus is about: it's ... that all of them must be stated fairly and sympathetically.

  • Shan: Definitely, but definitely. But it is unavoidable for any one writer not to write their own chosen passion without nuancing it with greater sympathy. So rather than try and suppress that completely (which we can't) I prefer to accept it, and ask writers to be clear where they are writing from. To quote loosely from one of my field's leading researchers (sorry to be a bit lazy) "When you speak to me I want to know not only what you say, but where you're standing as you say it, and why you are standing there." One thing I notice for example is that I write from a UK worldview, and much of Wikipedia is written from a USA worldview. Nowt wrong with either, but I need to make that clear in some places otherwise a reader will be confused or misled on terms like 'generally' 'most people' etc which don't need qualifying to a national readership. I don't see the USA perspective being specifically labelled as such yet. And however we may hope for multiplicity, the tech cost means that few contributors will appear from other continents. If they did the current Wikipedia would look very skewed.

Larry: (cut) We have long had a rule (or policy) against first person writing precisely because it implies that the writing is the speech of just one person--which, on Wikipedia, it isn't.

  • Shan: Now that is beaufully simple and helpful. Big letters please in intro data.

Larry: I sincerely believe that, in the context of an encyclopedia, it is rather more authoritarian for someone to say "I believe that such-and-such," as if the person's opinion were--in the grand scheme of things--particularly important for the readers of a general encyclopedia article to know about.

  • Shan: But I do think that the individual opinion is important for readers of any media to know about. The sacredness of the person and their views matters / help? how to put that in secular form? ?tradition of individual dignity and cooperation on which Wikipedia is based?
    • In terms of Wikipedia practicality, what is put in first as an individual point of view, and with wiki magic can be strengthened or critiqued, may go in like that at first out of personal diffidence - many people feel reluctant to claim any more even if they know quite well their comment is more general.
    • Next, a lot of people with good things to say haven't the training or research knowledge to say them and support them with evidence (particularly outside the USA which has an exceptionally high level of college educated citizens). Americans are typically (gross!) highly assertive about speaking out, partly because they are well educated and partly because they have a tradition of free speech. People less well equipped by their situation can still offer good stuff as a stimulus which others more equipped can elaborate.
    • Finally, scholars like me (only not me!) will be inhibited from contributing; feminist scholars particularly, to whom "personal experience" is a powerful shibboleth/ established strategy of style, according to taste. Perhaps more importantly, a large (moderate) feminist scholarship would say that the way a woman views a great many topics differs from how a man views it, and such differences should not be ignored or suppressed. The "rational observer" or "ordinary person" is a virtually nonexistent construct, which until very recently indeed would have been described instructively as the "rational man." Such a person is under a thin veneer, a male, white, educated Westerner, usually actively fit and relatively childfree. Certainly I much prefer to know the type of person behind a text, then this enriches my understanding of it.

Also I see a lot of statements here put in a general form that are clearly personal comments, reworked into house style. I find them quite silly, because they sound like wild unfounded generalisations in the form 'Many people... ' or 'generally, it is ...' when as personal commentary they'd be interesting and respectable statements. They could be commented upon, and worked into a fuller text with other material that compares them with other situations to produce a more general view in sum.

I do see that my preference would need a convention to allow personal statements to be included in a collaborative text. But we already have the quote conventions so perhaps they could be used with a tag (thinking of my own TWiki, now) to self quote. I also see the danger of encouraging rant, but I find empty generalisation equally wasteful.

Larry: Why not think that that is rather authoritarian (in this context)? On the other hand, if we say such things as "a majority of 'thealogists' would say that..." then we are just being given a report about what a majority of thealogists would say; we aren't being cajoled into agreeing with them. We are left free to make up our minds for ourselves.

  • Shan: If I simply say what I think no one is being pressured to agree with me either, but a generalised statement " a majority of experts say that" is very pressuring. Generalised speech carries a lot of pressure because it originated in the European scholarly rationalist elite that has been used to dominate the majority who are excluded from it.
    • Also I don't think limiting ourselves to the majority voice on a topic makes for well rounded interesting articles. (Could suggest a dubious politic?) Let's have plenty of majority summings up certainly, to outline a field or topic, but the minority voice matters too. Sometimes it's vital as a corrective. Even one voice, giving a good logical point is important even if s/he doesn't form part of a school or movement. Maverick scholars are very fruitful. For example I had trouble with including a point in another article that I have made verbally in colloquia. I can't ref it as a paper, it isn't published. Nor do I know anyone else who has ever said it so I can't hide neatly behind a source quote. So it seems that as a contributor my voice is disadvantaged compared to those I quote! I did want to include it as a reasonably important point of theory, though I'm not trying to impose it as the 'right' way to look at the theme. But I also can't say honestly 'Some people think ..." - they might actually, human variety being what it is. But if they do I don't know about it. Even "Some people might think ..." "It could be said .." rather fudges that some people don't, to my knowledge, and oh it just gets so elaborate when it's just a human opinion, which is VALUABLE.

Doing my best, respectfully Shan Jayran



Shan, I don't know if you're still around, but it would be nice if this essay could have some more of Larry's suggestions applied to it. Opinions are certainly important, but they need to be attributed to something/someone. Having different voices in the same article doesn't really last, as subsequent edits by others are often on the word or comma level. :-) Anyone else interested in working on this? Wesley 15:00 Sep 3, 2002 (PDT)


Article seriously needs to have a few NPOV issues addressed. 14 OCT 2003

Do stop fussing, granny

At first glance I found the last paragraph somewhat offensive with remarks like "Do stop fussing, granny".

Going to the discussion about the page (which in gneral I greatly liked), I realised that it was written by Shan Jayran, who is actually thinking about herself in the future. And I was then happy with that paragraph.

Possibly the structure of the Wikipedia means that this paragraph is best removed. Certainly its wording needs to be changed to make it clear that it is coming from an insider's view of herself and not from the outside

I deleted it. The problem is that this is an essay, not an encyclopaedia entry. Probably the best thing to do would be simply delete every single non-NPOV passage (and they're quite separable), and perhaps this might give space for others to contribute. Much like pruning a tree, really. Ashley Y 2003-11-10

NPOV still in dispute?

The NPOV header was added 11 May 2003, but not a whole lot has been done since then - either on the article itself, or here in talk. Is there still a dispute going on, or has the matter been forgotten by all concerned? If it's been forgotten, I'd like to propose removing the dispute header. If POV issues remain, perhaps a participant could summarize the problems so they can finally be addressed. Bryan 01:45, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The neutrality of this page is lacking. And there doesn't seem to be much dispute about that...
The problem is that it's an essay, not an encyclopaedia article, and structurally POV. And balancing the POV is a lot of work — I did a lot of that for Goddess and I still have issues with it. Both articles need to be rewritten.
Maybe we could switch the header to mention the lack of neutrality, while not referring to dispute, or something? —Ashley Y 11:20, Apr 17, 2004 (UTC)
I think that would be a bad idea. The goal is to make Wikipedia NPOV, not merely ensure that POV articles are clearly labelled. If the current article can't be made NPOV, then the only alternative I can see is to have it deleted entirely; the NPOV dispute header is intended as a purely temporary measure. I don't know anything about thealogy, I found this page while browsing what-links-here at the NPOV dispute page, so I'm open to opinions on which is the better course for this article. I suppose I could try my hand at slashing it up a bit but there no guarantees on how well I'll do. :) Bryan 20:56, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Are you seriously proposing putting the article up for deletion if no-one works on it? —Ashley Y 09:42, Apr 19, 2004 (UTC)
Well, no, because I plan to try my hand at working on it myself if absolutely nobody else will. I was hoping someone else would because I know nothing about the subject so my efforts will likely be less than ideal. But if an article exists in Wikipedia that literally cannot be NPOVed for some reason, then yes, I would propose that article be deleted. One way or the other, we can't have POV articles remain indefinitely in Wikipedia. Bryan 14:57, 19 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Been about a month now, and a full year since the NPOV warning went up in the first place, and still nothing's been done. I'm going to give the page a workover and remove the NPOV header myself. Bryan 00:18, 5 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Probably the best thing for it... —Ashley Y 22:03, 2004 Jun 5 (UTC)
Hope my hatchet job didn't remove too much in the way of valid information. Or that it didn't leave in too much POV. I take it you've got no major objections to what I did, which I take as a good sign. :) Bryan 22:10, 5 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I put the npov header back on this page. What is this article doing here? I have no idea what Thealogy is or why it is significant, even after reading the article. The article seems to be nothing more than a recap of the views of a couple of obscure writers, under the pretext of defining a term. What is the social, historical, or philosophical context of "Thealogy". Is there going to be an article in the Wikipedia for any "-gy" or "-ism" that anybody in the world cares to invent? - Briam
Yes, there is indeed going to be an article in the Wikipedia for all topics that people consider significant -- and if you disagree with them, take it up to Votes for deletion. I strongly urge you to stop having your first contributions in Wikipedia be those of maniacal deletions. If you think an article shouldn't exist at all the appropriate thing to do is to put it at Votes for deletion -- not to add speedy-delete notices as you did in GAMPAC, not turn them into dictionary definition as you did for Invisible Pink Unicorn, not put irrelevant npov headers. NPOV headers are *not* meant to indicate your disagreement about an article's entire existence. Once again go through the standard due process for your proposed deletions. Aris Katsaris 13:02, 18 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Tahirih Thealogy

I'm not quite sure what should be done with the recently added paragraphs concerning "Tahirih Thealogy"... —Ashley Y 02:52, 2005 Jan 17 (UTC)

Attention

I have marked this for attention.

  • The entire article needs to be rewritten to conform to a neutral point-of-view. There is no specific ongoing dispute, however.
  • It's not clear if "Tahirih Thealogy" should really be included.
  • Of course it should be included. The work is ground breaking and based on true facts of the life Tahirih-Qurratu'l-Ayn, the Woman who tore off her veil for the full emancipation of women in the 1844 period. She can be considered as a modern Goddess who was known as the return of Fatima and the Point of Divine Knowledge.

Ashley Y 03:49, 2005 Mar 8 (UTC)

Last year I NPOVed the article and removed the NPOV tag and you didn't have any objections then. The only major changes to the article since then have been the addition of the Tahirih Theaology section and the addition of a paragraph on "The Druid Chronicles (Evolved)" that looks pretty factual and NPOV to me. What's still POV about this article? Please be specific, since I obviously don't see any major problems myself. A little expansion on reasons why you don't think the Tahirih Theaology section should be included would be nice too, I know nothing about any of this except what's already in the article. Bryan 16:47, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The article is fundamentally POV with some NPOV additions and corrections. It needs to be overhauled. —Ashley Y 08:15, 2005 Mar 9 (UTC)
That doesn't really clarify much, though. Why is it "fundamentally POV"? If you don't point out any specific problems I don't see how anyone can provide any specific solutions. Bryan 16:15, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)
It's the entire tone of the article. Just read it through, and you'll see. It's not more specific than that. —Ashley Y 00:30, 2005 Mar 10 (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't see, and without a more specific description of the problem I'm not sure if the article should have the "pages needing attention" header. What's the point in calling for people to fix problems in an article if you can't describe what the problem is? I'm not trying to be adversarial here, just suggesting that it might be a good idea to be a little more verbose. Bryan 02:56, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Specific Problems

  • Unorganized; somewhat incoherent when taken as a whole
  • Not entirely written from a neutral point of view
  • First sentence is ambiguous; definition should not be a direct quote from someone, lest they be the neologist known to have coined the word.


This is just a minor thing. This sentence seems turned around: "Many scholars find the term 'thealogy' exasperating, a linguistic twiddling, including some feminist theologians." I'm going to assume that the author(s) meant the following, and then I'll make the change in the article: "Many scholars, including some feminist theologians, find the term 'thealogy' exasperating, a linguistic twiddling." Athana 19:34, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Athana~ I found that particular passage far from neutral - it was completely offensive. I expanded it with another paragraph that gives the other side of the story. Morgaine Swann69.19.14.19 01:01, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Tahirih TheAlogy does not meet standards

Tahirih TheAlogy does not meet standards of inclusion. As opposed to the other works sourced which deal with analytical typologies of the neologism, this later work does not. To simply use a word as a title of a work does not simply make a work inclusive within a bibliographical corpus of standard literature on a given subject in the academy. Note the previous conversation that justified inclusion was with the author herself. Until such time this work is reviewed, referenced and cited in refereed academic journals, as the others have, I would caution against any inclusion (let alone mention) of this work in this section. Otherwise the author of every single vanity publication with a given word or neologism so used should be cited as well on any given subject. The author Starr Saffa is simply trying to use Wikepedia as a platform for promoting her book. This is clearly not in Wikepedia's ToS.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Curandero101 (talkcontribs) 18:55, 9 October 2006

Tahirih TheAlogy does meet the definitions of Thealogy (an expanding definition) and is inclusive of the Goddess platform with Tahirih being of Messianic status in Iran in 1844. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 59.100.163.191 (talk) 01:37, 7 December 2006

The preceding comment still has not given sufficient reason as to why Tahirih Thealogy should be included. Could they show an academic review of this work, perhaps, which would establish reasons for inclusion? Thanks Thamarih 04:50, 10 January 2007 (UTC)


HI - I've been a Priestess of the Goddess for 26 years, and I added the section on Goddess Cosmology. I've provided links for more information. Please keep in mind that it is explaining a point of view that defines the word, so naturally that may not seem neutral. It is, however, accurate.

Regarding Tahirih Thealogy - I've never heard that use of the word, but if there is work extant that uses the word and incorporates the Goddess into an existing world view, I feel it would be wrong not to include it. Please keep in mind that the Goddess sects are reawakening, and that if Wikipedia is going to be a source of information, it needs to include Goddess information. Paganism is one of the fastest growing religions in the country, and people will be coming here for definitions. 69.19.14.19 00:48, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

I did a little research on Tahirih Thealogy ~ it isn't what I'd call Thealogy, but there is a book listed on Amazon.com that uses the phrase. Perhaps is merits inclusion in order to differentiate between her use of the word, and the more accepted uses?69.19.14.19 00:54, 5 June 2007 (UTC)


I think it's just hilarious that three of the most important "thealogists" were named Christ, King, and Raphael. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.33.158.121 (talk) 18:39, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Needs a rewrite

This article is mostly WP:OR and completely ignores WP:NPOV. It's full of nonsensical statements and is written like a recruiting tool for thealogy rather than as an impartial, rational encyclopedia entry.

Words and phrases like "yearns", "half whimsical", "excitingly powerful", "extremely solid chunks", and "vibrant" are not proper diction for an encyclopedia.

The section Thealogy as Monotheasm or Goddess Cosmology is particularly appalling. It presents a completely impartial view of "the Goddess community" and makes unsubstantiated references to Newtonian and Quantum physics. It then turns into a vaguely misandristic rant that completely lacks citations.

The Criticism section is not critical at all and is consists mostly of misandristic straw persons. JCDenton2052 (talk) 07:43, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

Inappropriate past merger (Feminist spirituality)

It's very unfortunate that the previous article "Feminist spirituality" was merged into this one, since the term "Feminist spirituality" is much less problematic (and has much greater mainstream academic acceptance) than "Thealogy"... AnonMoos (talk) 21:34, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Archive 1 Archive 2