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Who's really crazy?

Media Findiesen Christian Passengers Airplane

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#1 Drew

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 04:56 PM

There's now some question about whether the pilot was calling the non-Christian passengers crazy, or the Christians.

The Advocate, of all places, has an exclusive interview.

Quote

As the plane sat immobile, waiting for its slot to take off, Findiesen asked Christian passengers to raise their hands and said that "everyone else on board" might want to "make good use" of the flight. The implication was that non-Christians should learn about the Christian faith from the passengers who had raised their hands.

Passenger Amanda Nelligan told WCBS-TV of New York that the pilot called non-Christians "crazy" and that his comments "felt like a threat," although other passengers remember the word "crazy" having been playfully applied to the Christians on board. Nelligan said she and several others aboard were so worried they tried to call relatives on their cell phones before flight attendants assured them they were safe and that people on the ground had been notified about the pilot's comments.

Findiesen's identity has been shielded by American Airlines, but the pilot spoke candidly to The Advocate and Advocate.com editor in chief Bruce C. Steele, who identified himself to the captain at the end of the flight. Findiesen then confirmed to Steele his identity, the spelling of his name, and that his home base is Washington, D.C. At no time did Findiesen mention homosexuality or say anything antigay. During the three- to five-minute interview, he was positive and upbeat and interested only in explaining the importance of witnessing about his faith.

What Findiesen said, as best the stunned passengers could recall once they were able to move about the cabin and confer after Flight 34 took off, was this: "I just got back from a mission," Findiesen said after making a routine announcement about the plane being second in line for takeoff. "You know, they say about half of Americans are Christians. I'd just like the Christians on board to raise their hands."

In the suddenly hushed coach section of the airplane, a few nervous passengers raised one hand, most no higher than shoulder level, none above tops of the seats.

"I want everyone else on board to look around at how crazy these people are," the pilot continued, with an intonation suggesting he was using the word "crazy" in a positive, even admiring manner. Evidently addressing the non-Christian passengers, he concluded that they could "make good use of [the flight], or you can read your paper and watch the movie."

So, given this, it sure appears that "crazy" was referring to the Christians who were raising their hands.

Quote

"I just wanted to give Christians a chance to talk about why they're Christians," he said, standing in the forward galley at the end of the flight as the final passengers departed. "I obviously couldn't go back there and address everyone directly, so I used the P.A.

"I just got back from a mission in Costa Rica," said Findiesen, a tall white man with neatly trimmed thick white hair and a mustache, both lightly peppered with black. "I felt that God was telling me to say something." He went on to explain that he felt God wanted him to witness to the passengers on his first flight upon returning to work for American Airlines after his mission. Despite this feeling, he said, he had decided not to say anything--but then he got another sign from God.

A minor problem with the plane's braking system had developed during final checks before takeoff, he said, a problem that might have grounded the aircraft, on which every seat was taken, in part because another American flight from Los Angeles to New York had been canceled that morning. But after a simple maneuver involving a power source, the braking problem inexplicably "disappeared," Findiesen said, and the plane was cleared for departure, and that's when he knew he had to use the P.A. system to talk about his Christian faith.

Flight attendants were inundated with questions and complaints, and the pilot came back on to the P.A. system a couple of hours into the flight to apologize: Not to the paying passengers, but to the flight attendants. "I'd just like to apologize to the flight attendants" for the remarks he had made before takeoff, he said over the P.A. He said he had heard the crew had "taken a little heat" for his witnessing and that he would be available at the end of the flight to answer any questions or hear any complaints himself.

He then apologized again to the flight attendants and ended his announcement.

Asked by Advocate.com whether he felt he should also have apologized to his passengers, Findiesen paused. "I felt bad for the flight attendants," he said. As for the passengers, he said that he felt making himself available to talk to them as they deplaned was sufficient.

So, not exactly the story we were originally led to believe. And no surprise either.

Edited by Drew, 10 February 2004 - 04:57 PM.

"Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested."

#2 G1223

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 05:47 PM

Well it was a bit over the top but it's up to his employer to do something about it. while silly and stupid to do on his part he did not sound as  dangerous as was being protrayed by other sources.

#3 Drew

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 05:54 PM

G1223, on Feb 10 2004, 04:45 PM, said:

Well it was a bit over the top but it's up to his employer to do something about it. while silly and stupid to do on his part he did not sound as  dangerous as was being protrayed by other sources.
I never expect the media to present a fair image of Christians. However, I have to hand it to "The Advocate" for actually talking to the pilot instead of just passing along lazy half-truths like the rest of the media.
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#4 Rov Judicata

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 07:28 PM

Well, okay, let's say for the moment that this account of the story is true, rather than the other one.

Does it matter? The pilot was still out of line. Either way, he should be dealt with. IMO.
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#5 Drew

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 09:53 PM

Javert Rovinski, on Feb 10 2004, 06:26 PM, said:

Does it matter? The pilot was still out of line. Either way, he should be dealt with. IMO.
I won't argue that. I just find it interesting how quickly the media passed along the first version of the story, never bothering to verify the accuracy.
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#6 the 'Hawk

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 09:55 PM

^ As Rov is so keen on pointing out, first reports are never particularly accurate.

It honestly comes as no surprise that the media assumed the worst end, sold the story to that end, and printed a clarification with new facts later on.

That whole thing in Iraq seems to operate on the same principle.

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#7 Rhea

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 10:15 PM

Javert Rovinski, on Feb 10 2004, 05:26 PM, said:

Well, okay, let's say for the moment that this account of the story is true, rather than the other one.

Does it matter? The pilot was still out of line. Either way, he should be dealt with. IMO.
I agree. It's completely inappropriate to proselytize in the workplace - and especially when you have a captive audience!

At least when someone comes to your door you can say "sorry, not interested." But on an airline's time? I think not.
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#8 Cardie

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 10:33 PM

Drew, on Feb 10 2004, 09:51 PM, said:

I won't argue that. I just find it interesting how quickly the media passed along the first version of the story, never bothering to verify the accuracy.
Several passengers went on interview shows and claimed that was what he said, that people who weren't Christians were crazy.  When you get into "He said . . . She said" situations, it's hard to "verify" things absolutely.  It could be a case of the stunned passengers not hearing properly, or the pilot having come up with this alternate version to minimize his error.  

I hardly think that a version by the guilty party should be accepted unquestioningly as truth anymore than the assumption that the media always distort stories should be absolutely accepted as truth.  Some guilty parties fess up and others prevaricate.  Some reporters don't check facts, some go on facts that are presented to them by several sources, even if those sources later prove to have been in error.

I'd sure be spooked to be piloted by a guy who thinks mechanical problems and their solutions are examples of God sending him signs to witness his faith over the intercom.

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#9 Zoxesyr

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 10:45 PM

The cockpit recorder records all voice transmission from the pilot.  So the airline would only have to play the recording to see if what he said was true or not.  

This sounds like Alaska Airline...
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#10 Drew

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 10:56 PM

Rhea, on Feb 10 2004, 09:13 PM, said:

I agree. It's completely inappropriate to proselytize in the workplace - and especially when you have a captive audience!
Well, now there's a good question here. Did he proselytize? He asked the Christians to raise their hands. He asked everyone else to take a look at those "crazy people" (the Christians) and then he suggested that the non-Christians could use this trip to talk to the Christians about faith issues. That's about the bulk of it. He didn't actually preach anything, and he didn't (as was originally claimed) call the non-Christians "crazy," or say they were all going to hell or something stupid like that. And then he said he would be available for questions at the end of the flight. Does that fit the definition of proselytizing? I don't think so. (I still don't think it was wise for him to make this announcement, but I don't think it's nearly as bad as we were first led to believe.)
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#11 the 'Hawk

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 11:06 PM

Drew, on Feb 10 2004, 04:54 PM, said:

"I want everyone else on board to look around at how crazy these people are," the pilot continued, with an intonation suggesting he was using the word "crazy" in a positive, even admiring manner. Evidently addressing the non-Christian passengers, he concluded that they could "make good use of [the flight], or you can read your paper and watch the movie."
You want to know how I read "make good use of [the flight]", Drew?

That he meant either you can try to hijack it, and be taken down by the Christian majority on the flight, or you can sit back and shut up.

It's open to interpretation. That's one possible way I interpreted it. As a challenge to those aboard of a "crazy" persuasion to do their worst.

And there's the rub. Words like that don't exactly inspire confidence in a pilot. Maybe I'm reading things into his words--- in fact, I know I am.

But all it takes is one person on that plane, at the time, to read what I did into his statements, and make a phone call to the AP wire desk.

Doesn't matter what the agenda of the caller is-- it's that the agenda of the pilot was voiced in an inappropriate forum.

I mean, I'm all for missionary work in other countries, but just serve me the damn peanuts with a Coke, show the damn movie, and do your job.

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#12 DWF

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 11:11 PM

Quote

I mean, I'm all for missionary work in other countries, but just serve me the damn peanuts with a Coke, show the damn movie, and do your job.

You had better hope the movie isn't called, Left Behind II or worse still Airplane! :lol:
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#13 Kevin Street

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 11:39 PM

^ Airport 1975, perhaps? ;)

Seriously, I agree with Hawk and everybody else. This pilot was in a position of authority where he quite literally held the lives of his passengers in his hands - it was no time to "witness them" or deliver any kind of advertisement at all.

He should be disiplined at the very least, if not fired.
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#14 Cardie

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 11:47 PM

Not to mention that asking people to identify themselves by religious persuasion is a huge violation of privacy.  If all the Christians had indeed raised their hands, that would effectively identify the non-Christians as well.  Thus non-Christians would not even have the option of keeping their relationship to Christianity to themselves.  Moreover, following Hawk's line of reasoning, I might also fear that a Muslim hijacker was impersonating the captain and wanted to target Christians for punitive action.

I don't see how you can try to minimize what his guy did, Drew.  He used remarkably poor judgment for a man in his position.  Even with the most charitable interpretation of his actions and motives, he demonstrates why so many non-Christians find evangelicals arrogant and intimidating.

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#15 Norville

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 12:04 AM

Quote

This sounds like Alaska Airline...

Alaska Airlines used to be good... in the early 1990s. Apparently not any longer, from what I've been hearing. Shame.

Okay, so we've got a new spin on what this guy said. Fine. It was still inappropriate for a work environment, especially when one's work involves having the lives of other people in your hands.

Quote

Moreover, following Hawk's line of reasoning, I might also fear that a Muslim hijacker was impersonating the captain and wanted to target Christians for punitive action.

Good point.
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#16 Delvo

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 01:14 AM

Drew, on Feb 10 2004, 03:54 PM, said:

There's now some question about whether the pilot was calling the non-Christian passengers crazy, or the Christians... So, given this, it sure appears that "crazy" was referring to the Christians who were raising their hands.
In terms of the direct sentence structure, yes. But the article's reference to his sarcastic intonation gives away what was really going on. Christianity began as a cult of the persecuted, and remains persecution-minded to this day. Its evangelists have to invent things to act persecuted about, and they've been whining about the supposed anti-Christian campaign in this country for years. A common method of doing this is to describe themselves or their religion or all other Christians, with sarcasm, the way they claim non-Christians see them, as if quoting their own opponents. Apparently, from the looks on their faces when they do this and the reactions they get from their audiences, this is supposed to be humorous, because saying the opposite of what you mean supposedly exposes how true the opposite is: imitating the crazy supposedly calling the sane crazy, for example, highlights how crazy they really are and how sane those whom they supposedly call crazy really are.

If you have religious cable channels or religious shows at certain times on TV where you are, flip through several of them sometime. You're bound to find at least one of those speeches that starts with "Oh, I know what you're all thinking..." and then goes on to "quote" what the non-Christian world around them supposedly thinks, to the applause of their Christian audiences who are in on the whole act and apparently think they see their non-Christian neighbors reflected in the imitation: "That guy believes in Jesus; what's wrong with his head? That guy takes care of his family; doesn't he know how much more fun he could have if he'd ditch them? That guy goes to church; what a waste of time! That guy's always so nice to everybody; he must be trying to look superior to everyone else, to make the rest of us look bad! That guy always acts so happy and peaceful; what's he hiding?"

So, no, even if the sentence structrue called the Christians crazy, the meaning was still that the non-Christians are crazy, as shown by the "fact" that must think the inherently superior Christians are crazy.

Edited by Delvo, 11 February 2004 - 03:56 AM.


#17 Drew

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 11:03 AM

Delvo, on Feb 11 2004, 12:12 AM, said:

Christianity began as a cult of the persecuted, and remains persecution-minded to this day. Its evangelists have to invent things to act persecuted about, and they've been whining about the supposed anti-Christian campaign in this country for years. A common method of doing this is to describe themselves or their religion or all other Christians, with sarcasm, the way they claim non-Christians see them, as if quoting their own opponents. Apparently, from the looks on their faces when they do this and the reactions they get from their audiences, this is supposed to be humorous, because saying the opposite of what you mean supposedly exposes how true the opposite is: imitating the crazy supposedly calling the sane crazy, for example, highlights how crazy they really are and how sane those whom they supposedly call crazy really are.

If you have religious cable channels or religious shows at certain times on TV where you are, flip through several of them sometime. You're bound to find at least one of those speeches that starts with "Oh, I know what you're all thinking..." and then goes on to "quote" what the non-Christian world around them supposedly thinks, to the applause of their Christian audiences who are in on the whole act and apparently think they see their non-Christian neighbors reflected in the imitation: "That guy believes in Jesus; what's wrong with his head? That guy takes care of his family; doesn't he know how much more fun he could have if he'd ditch them? That guy goes to church; what a waste of time! That guy's always so nice to everybody; he must be trying to look superior to everyone else, to make the rest of us look bad! That guy always acts so happy and peaceful; what's he hiding?"
So, if I hear what you're saying, Christians are just plain "crazy," eh?
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#18 Consubstantial

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 11:29 AM

The article I read made no refence to "sarcastic intonation" Delvo.  Since the author wasn't on board the flight, the author can hardly testify as to the pilot's tone.  Any comments regarding tone from passengers (I didn't see any in the article.) should be received with caution as hearsay and conjecture.  While one person might read that tone as sarcastic another individual might see it as sincere.
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#19 the 'Hawk

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 11:44 AM

Delvo, on Feb 11 2004, 01:12 AM, said:

the article's reference to his sarcastic intonation gives away what was really going on. Christianity began as a cult of the persecuted, and remains persecution-minded to this day. Its evangelists have to invent things to act persecuted about, and they've been whining about the supposed anti-Christian campaign in this country for years. A common method of doing this is to describe themselves or their religion or all other Christians, with sarcasm, the way they claim non-Christians see them, as if quoting their own opponents. Apparently, from the looks on their faces when they do this and the reactions they get from their audiences, this is supposed to be humorous, because saying the opposite of what you mean supposedly exposes how true the opposite is: imitating the crazy supposedly calling the sane crazy, for example, highlights how crazy they really are and how sane those whom they supposedly call crazy really are.
Well, that explains the war on Iraq. :lol:

Of course, maybe that's just me being a "crazy" Catholic. We're like the totally beyond-hope, certifiably insane, baaaaaaadasssssssss mofo's of Christianity. We've got the Popes to prove it!

But, of course, thank you for informing me of my martyr complex, Delvo. I thought that sort of thing only happened among Republicans. I stand corrected. ;)

And, of course, all of the above was sarcasm! C'mon, can't you take a joke?  

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#20 Lover of Purple

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 11:53 AM

Actually, my wife was watching MSNBC last night and one of the passengers came on (I wish I had caught his name, but I was at the computer and only heard it). Anyway, he said that the pilots tone regarding "crazy" was very much a humor approach. He also said that he wasn't afraid when the pilot spoke but did feel it was inappropriate. He aslo did talk with some of the other passengers who were afraid.

Darn, I wish I had looked. He was an editor for a magazine or something.

And Delvo why do you feel the need to be so negative towards Christians? You have generalized us by lumping us under one banner of "whiners". Before you assume that the evangelists "make things up to whine about", walk a mile in a Christian's shoes. I will say that SOME do such nonsense, but it is never fair to lump all together. However, that is just the way I feel about your remarks, others may agree. It is your right to say it, though all I ask is that you look deeper before you generalize. :)



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