Actually, I know I am. I used to love discussing politics, but the subject has become so ugly of late, with so much bitterness on both sides, that I tend to shy away from that these. You can look back on some of my posts here from last year if you want to see how I felt about the election, or simply take my word that, for the first time in my life, I saw it as a true no-win scenario. But despite stepping away from that particular area, I still love taking any complex issue and going back and forth, point by point.
Religious debate is a favorite of mine. I am a Christian and make no bones about it, and I believe that the claims of Christianity have far more historical credibility than those of any other faith. I love engaging atheists and agnostics and discussing the historical evidence that underlies the Bible, especially the Gospels. I have studied the issue enough that I am able to counter a lot of their arguments and counterclaims, and I feel as if the whole process of engaging people who don't share my beliefs actually strengthens my faith rather than undermines it. And, every so often, I actually manage to change someone's mind. One of the proudest moments of my life was about seven years ago, when a longtime agnostic friend sent me this email: "You know, I've been thinking about it, and I have decided that the single best explanation for all those stories about Jesus rising from the dead is that He really did!" Walking that person into the path of belief remains one of my very proudest achievements.
I also like debating historical issues. I have very little patience for those who say the Civil War was not about slavery. This comes as a surprise to many, since I am a sixth generation Texan and a tenth generation Southerner. All my ancestors, on both sides of the family, fought for the Stars and Bars - but I do believe they were on the wrong side of history, and that the whole "State's Rights" argument was largely created after the war to enshrine the Lost Cause in something more noble than the auction block and the whip. A lot of people simply don't want to hear that, especially Southerners, but the historical facts are in my favor - and MOST people can discuss this one without getting too angry.
Presidents? Oh, I love discussing their merits and demerits, who is overrated (Jefferson, Kennedy) and who is underrated (Grant, Cleveland). I have read dozens of Presidential biographies, and I thoroughly enjoy discussing the lives of our nation's leaders in the past. I also recognize that it takes about twenty to thirty years to truly pass historical judgment on a Presidency; before that political passions are still too strong.
What else to I enjoy debating? Well, movies and such - although that is largely a matter of taste, I will still defend SUCKER PUNCH against all detractors, and insist that SAVING PRIVATE RYAN got totally ripped off for Best Picture in 1998. "Shakespeare in Love"??? Really? I l also love discussing what portrayals of well-known historical figures are best, and which are worst. I follow some sports, mainly Dallas Cowboys football, and I will go to my grave saying that Dez CAUGHT THAT DARNED BALL in the playoff game against Green Bay a couple years back.
I always try to be civil and friendly during these discussions. If someone cannot debate an issue without getting their feelings hurt or becoming abusive, I simply won't debate them. And one of the few things I will absolutely "unfriend" someone over on social media is if they are rude and ugly to other people in the discussion. I have many friends and family members whose political and religious beliefs are different from mine, and we bat stuff back and forth all the time. But if someone jumps into the discussion and starts being abusive and nasty, they are gone!
There are a few topics that I simply hate getting into, and both of them involve conspiracy theories. A few years back I tangled with a Holocaust denier. He wasn't a knuckle-dragging skinhead, but a man with some education and an array of websites and literature at his disposal. But there was a nasty undercurrent of anti-Semitism that pervaded his arguments. Once I commented that it was difficult for me to believe that the testimony of tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors was all a fabrication, and his response was a snarling: "They've gotten away with this for way too long!" I was kind of glad when the forum where this off and on conversation had gone on for over a year shut down, because that guy made me feel like I needed a hot shower after I read his posts.
The other thing that drives me nuts is the whole 9/11 "Truther" movement. I've had the privilege of being friends with several people, over the years, in the intelligence community. They are good, decent people, patriotic Americans all, who love this country and defend it at great cost. I find the idea that these same people, my friends and their co-workers, would willingly murder 3000 American citizens to achieve some sinister foreign policy goal, to be deeply offensive. Plus the whole idea is just plain silly. The stuff these nuts come up with - drone airplanes, crisis actors, tons and tons of high explosive somehow smuggled into one of the busiest workplaces in the whole world under the noses of 50,000 employees, it just staggers the imagination. Not to mention the whole concept of "the secret too big to keep" - it would have taken a minimum of a couple thousand people to carry off a conspiracy of that magnitude, and there is simply no way that it could have happened. A covert op with a dozen agents is incredibly difficult; a covert op involving several thousand operatives that STAYS covert - no way! But facts and logic never get in the way of conspiracy theorists, and any credible study or published report that contradicts their narrative is "part of the whitewash." I sometimes try to point out stuff like this, but honestly, these people are not worth the effort.
So there it is, the confession of a junkie. I am addicted to debate - point by point, hopefully polite and civil, you take your side and I take mine and may the best mind win.