Curiosity: A Missing Evangelical Trait

curiosity

Why is it that so many Evangelicals have no desire to be curious? (and I know many are) Every day, I get emails or a blog comment from an Evangelical Christian wanting to “help” me find my way to Jesus. They are certain that they possess the requisite knowledge and skill to win me to Jesus. They are certain that if they just befriend me, quote the right verses, soothe my hurts, or understand my pain, I will fall on my knees and call on the name of Jesus.

I was in the Christian church for 50 years. I was a pastor for 25 of those years. I have a Bible college education. Surely, they understand that I am not an atheist out of ignorance? Of course not, and here is where their lack of curiosity gets them in trouble. They don’t know anything about me or this blog. Why? Because they did a Google/Bing/Yahoo search for a _________________ and their search brought them to a blog post of mine. They read the post and immediately decided that I am a poor wayfaring waif in need of Jesus.

When I get comments like this, I go to the logs and see what pages they read. Usually, they have read only the page the search brought them to. Their lack of curiosity (or laziness) leads them to make wild judgments about me and come to rash, ill-informed conclusions. If they would just read the About page or the My Journey page, they would be better informed about me and this blog.

Curiosity may kill the cat, but trust me Evangelicals, it won’t kill you.

Comments (33)

  1. NeverAgainV

    My guess is that they are not curious about you, because you see, they already KNOW all things that pertain to “life and godliness” according to their holy book. So…they have the answers in advance & have no need to try to understand you or anyone else who thinks differently than they do.

    One thing that got me out of that small way of thinking is looking around at the world and realizing that things that are ALIVE, usually grow. Things that are alive will often change….Growing and changing was not something that happened much in the church I had been in. The doctrine could never change. It was the same regurgitated sermons over and over…the pastor would even say “this is from a sermon i did in 1995, but you need to hear this again!!” Nothing original…nothing new…no curiosity. It got too oppressive for me as I had begun to think outside of their limited & small box. Like you. We were curious and we began to ask questions, which I think is the first step to freeing your mind. Fear stops people from really asking REAL questions. Probably deep down, people aren’t curious or don’t ask also because of fear….the fear that they could actually be wrong, so they don’t dare open that can of worms.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Same here. I remember Thomas Merton saying in one of his books that what he believed today he might not believe tomorrow. He recognized that people who seriously consider life and its questions will often change their beliefs. Static, unchanging beliefs are a sign of closed-minded fundamentalism. (Of which many people are proud of)

      Reply
      1. NeverAgainV

        Totally Bruce. I shake my head because you are right that there are people who are actually proud that their beliefs have never ever changed. *sigh* Kinda reminds me of the story of The Zax, by Dr. Seuss. LOL People are really like that!

        Reply
  2. August

    It seems to me as though evangelicals tend to be intellectually lazy. Rather than going out and learning something, they wait for someone they trust to pour words they agree with into their ears.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Sadly, I pastored a lot of people like this. They believed whatever I believed. They never studied the Bible, often only opening it on Sunday. These same people rarely read anything, religious or not. People who don’t read rarely have a good understanding of the world. They rely on the opinions of others to define their beliefs.

      Reply
  3. Lynn

    Yep. Lack of reading. Lack of curiosity. Lack of respect. No desire to LEARN!

    Reply
  4. kittybrat

    Whenever I was curious in the fundyland, I would be reminded to “…lean not unto thine own understanding… in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) So, in plain English, it’s a no-no to to be curious and try to understand other things. It’s all about praying and trusting that God will direct you.
    ICK!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      So true. I warned church members about the vain philosophies and deceits of the world. ( translation:anything that disagrees with what I preach)

      Reply
  5. ami

    Curiosity isn’t healthy in a church.

    They can’t have their sheeple actually thinking, because thinking leads to intellectual freedom and the ability to call bullshit.

    I won’t be praying for you, Bruce.

    Reply
  6. Connie

    Curiosity may have killed the cat
    But satisfaction brought it back!

    :)

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Very true. :)

      Reply
  7. Ahab

    Curiosity leads to learning new things, and that new information could challenge one’s deeply held assumptions. Fundamentalists understand this on some level, and thus they dampen their curiosity so as to protect their fragile beliefs.

    Reply
  8. Stephanie

    Sometimes even when you can prove they are wrong on something they will still deny it! Like one person that I know was convinced that federal money goes toward elective abortions. This is not true in the U.S. because of the Hyde Amendment. Wouldn’t make any difference; they have a belief and stick to it. Same with evolution, sexual orientation, etc. I really need to just leave people be when it comes to some things because there is nothing I can do.

    And let me add whenever people in power want to control the masses they restrict their access to education. They didn’t want slaves and women to read/learn for a reason.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Great point about education. I dealt with this a bit in a post today. http://brucegerencser.net/2014/02/the-anatomy-of-an-unaccredited-christian-school/

      Reply
  9. gimpi

    I see this in the refusal to even honestly look at the facts regarding the development of the universe, the age of the earth and the evolution of life. The people deep into the Evangelical sub-culture appear to read only things that will support what they already believe and refuse to even consider that they might not know the facts.

    To be curious, you have to accept that you don’t already know everything, and that some of what you think you know might be wrong. You can’t be deeply afraid of being wrong and curious at the same time. You have to be willing to doubt what you currently think to be curious. Certainty kills curiosity.

    To those of us in the “world,” curiosity, doubt and learning new things are valuable. It appears, in Evangelical sub-culture, they are considered dangerous.

    Reply
  10. Harold

    Dear Friends, I was born the 6th of 7 sons ( one son died when 4 years old ). My father went to the 3rd grade, my mother to the 8th. We were raised in a fundamental Baptist Church. My oldest brother went to a 2 room school house in Kentucky with 1 teacher. She taught grades 1-6 in one room and grades 7-8 in another. We left Kentucky and moved to Indiana ( in the 50′s) so my oldest brother could attend high school, the nearest one being miles away and no bus. After service in the Air Force he went to Purdue and became an aeronautical engineer and retired from Pratt&Whitney after a number of years of service. One brother has a Masters in International Business and owns a company in Shanghai China. I have a Masters in Public Health. One brother has a degree in Theology and was a missionary in Japan for years and reads/writes fluent Japanese. Another brother attended college for 2 and 1/2 years never graduated but was an English major and extremely knowledgeable in the Classics. The other brother never attended college. Poverty and the fundamental Baptist Church never once stunted our curiosity. When I think of all the great minds that were Christian e.g. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Robert E. Lee ( Siegfried and Christ ), and countless others it makes me wonder if you so prejudice against Evangelicals that you can see no good. Granted you meet ignorant people everywhere including church and including evangelical churches. Read Proverbs and you will know how to deal with ignorant people. Jesus had to deal with ignorant people, shall we not share in His sufferings?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      The fundamentalism of your youth is very different from the Evangelical fundamentalism of today. I am assuming you are older.

      No one here would say ALL Evangelicals. Sure there are curious Evangelicals, BUT their commitment to certain beliefs about the Bible limits or distorts that curiosity. Many of us consider Evangelicalism to be inherently harmful emotionally and mentally. Yes, there are exceptions, but these exceptions just prove the rule.

      Reply
      1. ... Zoe ~

        Well I know where this former evangelical’s curiosity got them. :-)

        Reply
  11. Harold

    Bruce, just a couple of thoughts, to my knowledge I have no commitment to certain beliefs about the Bible that limits or distorts that curiosity. Could you please give example(s). Also, I had a math class that dealt with one chapter on probability theory, and don’t remember much about it. But if you or one of the readers could figure out the probability ( if it can be done ) of Jesus cleansing the temple once at the beginning of his ministry and then at the end of his ministry. Remember it is the same temple, same people ( Jesus and moneychangers ) same righteous anger, same animals, ( sheep, doves, etc ). Only difference is a 3 year time span. What probability is that event happening twice and what probability happening twice within a 3 year time span. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Your commitment to the Bible requires you to dismiss any knowledge that does not fit your interpretive grid. I listened to the Ham on Nye debate tonight, and Ken Ham, the creationist, rejected any knowledge that did not fit his interpretation of the Bible. Evolution is wrong, the Big Bang is wrong, the dates used in astronomy are wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Why? The Bible says__________________. In the beginning God created, add up the genealogies, answer? The earth is about 6,014 years old. This kind of thinking denies most everything we know about the universe.

      The cleansing of the temple. There is no way to know it happened the first time let alone the second. This would have been a HUGE story, yet it is mentioned nowhere but the Bible. If I accept this story is actual history, and I don’t, the second cleansing was added by mistake. They are too much alike to be different stories.

      About probabilities. Billions of rational people have lived and died. Billions of people have thought about the god question, yet Little ‘ole Harold knows that his God is the one, only, true living God and little ‘ole Harold is certain that his interpretation of an ancient text, written thousands of years ago mostly by unknown people, in languages Harold can’t read, is the right interpretation. What do you think the odds of that are? You can’t appeal to the historical record, because Christians have no unified beliefs. Everyone has their own version of God and what they think the Bible says. So there is one God, one truth, but 2,000 years into this thing called Christianity, Christians can’t even agree on what constitutes salvation.

      Reply
    2. sgl

      of the books matthew, mark, luke, and john…
      in one of the gospels, 3 wise men visit jesus at his birth, and the ruler orders all infants killed, so jesus flees into egypt to escape being killed. this gospel makes no mention of shepards being at the birth of jesus, or of a census. none of the other 3 gospels mention the 3 wise men or the flight into egypt.

      one of the other gospels, jesus visited by shepards at his birth (but no mention of wise men), and he’s in bethlehem due to a census. no mention is made of a flight into egypt, or a ruler ordering the murder of all children under the age of 2.

      so, what’s the probability of this being a made up story, where different people invented different plot devices for explaining away why jesus of nazareth was from nazareth when jews were expecting a messiah to be from king david’s home town of bethlehem?

      try to resolve the internal inconsistencies in the timeline of those different stories, and you’ll see that your “inerrant” is impossible.

      so if you’ve never heard of the above inconsistencies, and you don’t investigate them now after being told about them, then i’d say you do have a “commitment to certain beliefs about the Bible that limits or distorts that curiosity”.

      and the fact is that many former christians who are now atheists did research those inconsistencies, and realized that the “inerrancy” facade is exactly that — a facade with no substance behind it.

      Reply
    3. John Arthur

      Harold,

      Each gospel writer mentions the cleansing of the temple only ONCE. None of these authors mention two occurrences of this event. You presuppose that there are two occurrences because John has it early in Jesus’ ministry and the synoptic authors place it towards the end.

      Such an event could not have gone unnoticed, so if it occurred twice, you would think that one of the Gospel authors would have recorded two cleansings of the temple. Yet NO author does this. So isn’t it more likely that either John’s Gospel or the synoptics are mistaken about the timing of this event than that it occurred twice?

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
  12. Harold

    Mr. Nye said that scientist throw out things that can be falsified. Yet he holds dogmatically that the best reasonable date of the earth is 45 billion years old. Yet over 90% of the scientific test used for dating show the earth is less than a billion years old. Didn’t this man ever study probability theory? Why can’t he dogmatically hold to the belief that the earth is less than a billion years old. I’ll tell you Why!!! Because if he holds to that belief it will mean all his other hype is the imagination of fools and I don’t think Mr. Nye can admit that to himself or others. His commitment to his foolishness requires that he dismiss any knowledge that does not fit his interpretive grid. By your measuring stick poor Mr. Nye is a big a fool as Ken Ham ever thought about being. Also talking about billions of people, the Chinese have an old proverb ” when you go to get revenge on your enemy, dig two graves one for yourself and one for your enemy ” . My Bible says “Vengeance is my saith the Lord ” Seems like Gods Word trumps everything. I wonder how the Chinese learned that without ever being exposed to the Bible? Also, the Word says one of the reasons that God gave man the Law is because he could not tell right from wrong. The biggest psychological assault on a soldier in combat is not knowing right from wrong. Ghenghis Kahn was never exposed to the law except in his conscience which is easily blunted. I guess that is why he could say ( this is a paraphrase, it is a long quote but you can look it up if you want ) ” There is nothing I love more than slaughtering my enemies and taking their women”. Compare this to R.E. Lee who loved the Law and said ” I never failed to pray for my enemies daily.” Bruce you still gave me no examples of how my commitment to the Bible requires me to dismiss any knowledge that does not fit my interpretive grid. 90% of scientific test show the world is less than a billion years old. I don’t dismiss that but what other evidence is there that I want to consider? The Nazi’s had a lot of scientists and some of them were evil and all were committed to a evil cause. Look at the source, scientist are nothing more than fallible, sinful people who are wrong a lot and and are capable of great evil. I have nothing against science but I don’t put my faith in any man. Also, there is evidence for a young earth, do you dismiss it because of your grid? If I were not a Christian I still would not believe in evolution. Prime Minister Disrael ( I’m not sure if I spelled his name right ) of England was asked by the queen if he could prove the Bible was true. Yes, he replied , ” The Jew ” .The Jew is a lot of evidence to consider when trying to determine the truth or as you would have it ” facts and knowledge ” of the Bible.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      You are rambling, Harold, so I assume you are done commenting. I gave you an example, your rejection of evolution and your rejection of the age of the earth/universe. You must have read right over the top of what I wrote, yes?

      I believe it is through looking at the stars (astronomy) that we can come to an approximation of how old the universe is. I am theologically trained, not scientifically, and I doubt you are either. I trust those who are. I read their books in hope of better understanding the world I live in.Maybe scientists are wrong, and if they are they will correct themselves. Fundamentalists like you are certain you are right and no amount of contrary evidence will change your mind. There is nothing that can sway you from believing in creationism, right? So why continue to comment? You have no desire to understand because you already have THE truth.

      As far as Genghis Kahn. Sure ya want to go there? Let’s talk about your God ordering the slaughter of men, women, children, infants, and the unborn. How is your God any different than Kahn? God slaughtered the whole human race, save 8, according to the Bible. God is pro-life, right? God kills the unborn it is ok, a woman has an abortion, it is murder? Should we not expect God to live by the same moral standard that Christians demand everyone live by?

      Reply
  13. Harold

    Bruce, you only assume that I reject evolution because of my belief in the Bible. If someone could Prove to me evolution is true I would throw my Bible away as God says His creation was good. I have studied evolution and there is nothing good in it. By the way since you don’t reject evolution you must believe that the human species will be extinct someday, So why all this worry about education? And please don’t classify Ghenghis with God, God had those people killed because they were so evil. My next statement my sound vicious and I hope I don’t hurt your feelings but Ghenghis did the same just so he could rape your wife and daughter. Sure you want to go there? By the way those people were killing there own born in cruel ways and probably their own unborn also. It probably didn’t bother them a bit that those soldiers did it for them.They were probably evil enough to enjoy the whole thing.God gave the whole world enough time and warning to keep from drowning. They chose their destiny.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Not assuming. To accept evolution means rejecting your interpretation of the Bible, and you will never be willing to do that.

      Yes, according to what scientists tell us, our planet will someday be uninhabitable. But, it is likely we will do ourselves in a long time before that happens. Until then, we should attempt to make this world a better place. We should seek happiness and fulfillment in the one brief life we have. The future matters to me because I have children and grandchildren. I want a better tomorrow for them.

      You seem to think I have to accept your interpretation of the Bible and your definition of God as fact. I don’t. I treat the Bible as any other work of fictional literature. (Remember,I don’t believe there is a God) However if God exists, and he really is as he is presented in Bible, I want nothing to do with such a God. He is a mean, petty, psychopathic son of a bitch. This is the God who killed a man for touching the ark of the covenant. This is the God who killed people for living in the wrong place at the wrong time. Since God is in control of everything, the giver and taker if life, he is culpable for the death of those he slaughtered. The good news is, I don’t think your God exists.

      Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      BTW, did the unborn or the little children choose their own destiny when they died in the flood? Do those who have never heard the gospel “choose” their own destiny if they die and go to hell? Since most of the people ever born end up in hell, and billions of them never heard the gospel, how can you say they chose their own destiny? (And yes, I already know what Rom 1,2 says)

      Reply
  14. ... Zoe ~

    Not to worry Bruce. All those innocents probably enjoyed the whole thing. :roll: *sigh*

    Reply
  15. Harold

    Not to worry Zoe. All of those innocents are enjoying the whole thing in Heaven right now.!!!!!!!!!!!! Bruce, thanks for letting me know that I will always reject evolution because I will have to give up my interpretation of the Bible. Wow!! I thought it was because I studied a lot of evidence on both sides and came to my own conclusion. You are as good as God as judging the motives of a persons heart!! What else do you see in there? You can even stand in judgement of the heart of the non-existent God I believe in. And all this time I thought Baptist were judgmental!! O where can i go to escape???

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      We all make judgments, Harold. You came to this site and commented. The path away from here is the same way you got here. No one is forcing you to read anything, right?

      Like all Fundamentalists, you think you are this unbiased, objective seeker of truth. It is easy to prove you are not. Why are you a Christian? Shouldn’t you actively and completely investigate all the other religions in the world before choosing fundamentalist Christianity? Aren’t you just as atheistic as I am? After all, you think all the other gods are false gods, right? Yet, you haven’t exhaustively studied these religions, attended their services, listened to their leaders speak. Why not?

      I assume you support abortion. After all. If all the innocents go to heaven, wouldn’t it be better to abort every baby before they have the mental facility to reject God? Think of how many more people would be in heaven!!

      Reply
  16. Harold

    Wrong again Bruce, ( its eerie how you can see in my heart ) haven’t studied all religions but quite a few. Took a few courses in Chinese philosophy, Traditional East Asian Civilization, etc etc. have studied Communism, know a little about Islam. Nothing there for poor little ole Harold. Also, you have almost convinced me the world is going to become inhabitable ( I’m being facetious ) but where did you get such crazy old ideas about” we should attempt to make this a better place” got a lot of soldier in me Bruce went from a private to a Captain ( of Infantry ). The closer I get to you the closer I get to THE KAHN that man had some appealing ideas if the world is to become a inhabitable place. That quote sounds so appealing to the non-humanist mind ” There is nothing I love more than to slaughter my enemies and take their women.” (paraphrase) Have an open and unbiased mind there Bruce. Do you think all non-humanists ideas are false? Have you explored these ideas? Have you listened to THE KAHN? Why not? By the way, a great theological question about abortion. Wish I could give you a better answer than the following which I know will not suffice you. I am finite man and can’t understand a infinite God. I praise and thank God that all innocents go to Heaven. I know too that killing of men and innocents is wrong. My prayer is all men will go to Heaven. I accept these things by faith, so that is why my answer will not suffice you. I’m just a narrow-minded, biased, ignoramus. By the way Bruce we all make judgements and we have too, but too judge another persons motive is one of the cruelest forms of judgements. You have judged my motives. I’ll think I’ll show myself the way out. I’ll still be your friend but use that word in the sense that Jesus called Judas “friend “more like comrade. Not a lot of intimacy there.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I think most religions have some value. They give people comfort and a sense of purpose. Something doesn’t have to true for people to find value in it. I am sure you think Mormonism is a false religion, yet millions of people find great value in their Mormon beliefs. We both believe Mormonism is untrue, you wish they would come to Jesus, I am content to leave them as they are.

      Yes, I think all religions are untrue. Yes, I think humanism is the way forward for the human race and the future of our planet. At the end of this comment, I have posted the Humanist Manifesto for you to consider.

      We should make the world a better place because our comfort and happiness is the ultimate goal. Since we only live for a short time and then die, why not not have a comfortable, happy, meaningful life, as we march on our way to the grave.

      So no answer on the abortion question.

      I didn’t judge your motives. You declared them as soon as you started preaching and sermonizing. Let me declare my motive to you, Harold, this is my blog and I don’t let Evangelicals endlessly preach and sermonize without being challenged. I do this because I care about the people who read this blog, especially those who spent their lives being bullied and demeaned by Evangelicals armed with an inerrant Bible. I was actually more charitable to you than I usually am with fundamentalists. Usually they get one or two comments and then I cut them off. I gave you plenty of opportunity to show that you were anything other than an evangelizing fundamentalist. Instead of engaging in discussion, you preached your religion, certain that you are right. How did you expect me to respond? I put up with this kind of behavior every day. (for six years) Hundreds of Evangelicals have come before you, Harold, all feigning that I hurt their feelings, misunderstood them, attacked them, judged them, etc. Yet, they are the one come came to my blog and commented. Strange way of seeing things. My blog, my story, love it, like it, hate it.

      Harold I have no need of more friends, especially those who think I need to be saved, get right with God, and think I am going to burn in hell if I don’t. Life is too short to have faux friendships with people who can not accept people as they are. If you haven’t read http://brucegerencser.net/2014/01/why-ex-christians-dont-trust-evangelical-christians/ please do so.

      Anyway, I wish you well.

      Bruce

      Humanist Manifesto III

      Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

      The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

      This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

      Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

      Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

      Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

      Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

      Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

      Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

      Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

      Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

      Reply
  17. Harold

    Bruce , since you have been so charitable and gracious, I’ll let you have the last words. It is your site. Wish you the best also. p.s. no, I don’t support abortion for the reasons I gave above.

    Reply

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