cultural absurdity, from the best-ofs files, Uncategorized

The “Christian” heritage of first wave feminism.

Posted in 2011, brought back to memory by a dialog with Robyn over at The Reading Room.

I thought we might shed a bit of light on the so-called first wave of feminists, whom Christian feminists (is that an oxymoron?) often hold up as God-fearing, Bible believing women who simply wanted to end female oppression. Whether or not these women had legitimate arguments on one or two points is not something I want to debate, though I will if the reader insists.

Aside from being anti-abortion, however, the philosophy of most of these women was very similar to that of the more “radical” feminists of the 1960′s, whom most all Christians agree have done a great deal of damage to family life, and by extension to society at large. Allow me to introduce to those who may not know, a few members of the first wave.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), who refused to allow the word “obey’ to be a part of her marriage vows:

“The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion.”

“The Bible teaches that woman brought sin and death into the world, that she precipitated the fall of the race, that she was arraigned before the judgment seat of Heaven, tried, condemned and sentenced. Marriage for her was to be a condition of bondage, maternity a period of suffering and anguish, and in silence and subjection, she was to play the role of a dependent on man’s bounty for all her material wants, and for all the information she might desire…. Here is the Bible position of woman briefly summed up.”-

Introduction to The Women’s Bible, which Stanton authored.

Those are just two of the quotes I found from Mrs. Stanton, never mind that the second is total misrepresentation of what the Bible teaches. She is recorded as having felt like a caged bird bound to the domestic drudgery of her home.

Lucy Stone (1818-1893), first American woman recorded to have kept her own name after marrying. In fact, she was very much in step with today’s thinking, as she was 37  and well educated before she tied the knot. She was arrested for refusing to pay property taxes when she wasn’t allowed to vote. I actually agree with her in principle on that one. My problem is that we are often told that  no women were allowed to own property before these women fought the good fight on our behalf.

Susan  B. Anthony(1820-1906). I have a bit more regard for her since she was at least never married and therefore never had a family to treat as a stumbling block to all she might be without them. Still, the view of  the white woman  as being oppressed on the level of the African slave is something that I will never be able to agree to. A couple of quotes from Ms. Anthony, as I’m sure she would be called today:

“I beg you to speak of Woman as you do of the Negro, speak of her as a human being, as a citizen of the United States, as a half of the people in whose hands lies the destiny of this Nation.”

“I do not consider divorce an evil by any means. It is just as much a refuge for women married to brutal men as Canada was to the slaves of brutal masters.”

(I do not believe women should be subject to a husband’s brutality either, but how many divorces can honestly be blamed on that?)

“Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women! There is so much yet to be done.”-

I, too, wonder what Ms. Anthony would think if she could see today’s empowered woman.

Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927), the first woman to run for president in 1872. Married 3 times, and a fierce proponent of the idea of “free love”, she is quoted as saying:

“To woman, by nature, belongs the right of sexual determination. When the instinct is aroused in her, then and then only should commerce follow. When woman rises from sexual slavery to sexual freedom, into the ownership and control of her sexual organs, and man is obliged to respect this freedom, then will this instinct become pure and holy; then will woman be raised from the iniquity and morbidness in which she now wallows for existence, and the intensity and glory of her creative functions be increased a hundred-fold …”

So much for the oh-so-holy first wave of feminists.

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Common sense, cultural absurdity, from the best-ofs files, Uncategorized

Treasures Hidden Away from This Generation

This post was originally posted in 2012. It’s still one of my favorites.

multigenerational

In this corner of the ‘net people lament that the baby boomer generation sped up the rate of cultural decline in America. Bloggers and commenters alike express skepticism when I extol the wisdom of those who have gone before. The objections initially left me incredulous as I was raised to respect the experience and knowledge of those who have gone where I have yet to tread. The more I observe however, I see why young people are growing wary of advice from today’s emerging elders.

I recently had the occasion to speak at length with a woman whom I’ve only exchanged pleasantries with in passing. She’s in her 60s. For reasons I still cannot fathom, she proceeded to share with me that she thought her life might have been better if she’d left her late husband, who’d died within the past year.  She said that when she was a young woman, divorce was less accepted, so she did what was expected and stayed. He drank, he cursed, he worked all the time, and he wasn’t as nice to her as she deserved.

We lived across the street from this couple for 8 years before the man died. He seemed pleasant enough. We never heard shouting or saw her look unhappy or abused in any way. No cop cars frequenting the residence to break up fights. I think he even won “yard of the month” once. Still, she felt like she’d deserved more from marriage. She also thought her son-in-law was less than her daughter deserved, even though she admitted that he treats her daughter well.

I tried to be an encouragement while being respectful as I don’t feel it’s appropriate to offer unsolicited advice to an elderly woman. I told her that her daughter was fortunate to have a husband who treats her well. However, I came away with a profound sense of sadness on behalf of the generation of men and women coming after me. There really is a dearth of godly, elderly wisdom because this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this kind of talk from an older woman.

One of the things you encounter online quite regularly are blogs authored by young people (male and female alike), that purport to offer profound knowledge to readers based on their years of accumulated wisdom. This is not limited to the Internet.  I have been lambasted and accused of being prideful when I have expressed reservations in the face of wisdom offered by those who have far less experience in life, marriage, or parenthood than I have. If I suggest that women a little younger might be wise to consider that women a bit older and more experienced may have something to offer, the response is tepid at best.

I’m beginning to understand their reluctance even as I cling to the belief that there is much to be gained from those who are nearer to the ends of their lives than to the beginning. There is still a remnant of godly older women who can teach the younger. Thankfully there are also some young wives and mothers making the effort to live out godly principles in their lives and families. This gives me hope.

I also recognize that there are young people who have experienced trial and pain far beyond what their youth would indicate. I was one of those people when I was younger, but I can also attest that the years have offered a sense of perspective that I simply did not possess 20 years ago. There is a reason the Bible reminds us:

“You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” Lev. 19:32

“Wisdom is with aged men, With long life is understanding.” Job 12:12

While the modern lack of regard for the wisdom and experiences of those who have gone before wasn’t cultivated in a vacuum and is not without merit,  it hasn’t always been this way.  I was blessed to glean wisdom and direction that has helped me in my years as a wife, mother, and Christian from godly older people who went before me and shared their wisdom with me. However, every single one of them is over the age of 80. My aunt, 81. My uncle, 90. My father, 80. The most instrumental of all is my grandmother-in-law, 87.

What did these godly, grace-filled older people instill into me? The principles of duty, selflessness, modesty, and delayed gratification. They taught me that no one owes me anything, but that I owe every person I meet the courtesy of respect and treating them the way I want to be treated. My grandmother-in-law, who mentored me like Titus 2 admonishes in every way, taught me to be a woman and a wife indeed; not because I feel the warm fuzzies for my husband every day, but because it’s what I vowed to do.

She shared many practical homemaking things with me but mostly exemplified contented, dignified womanhood. She never hid the struggles that came with her 50+ years of marriage. She also never hinted even once, that she ever considered throwing in the towel. Despite the suggestions of many, she has never cut her waist length hair. Her husband loved her hair and that increased her attachment to it despite his being gone over two decades.

After the chat  with my neighbor it occurred to me how often I have heard other women around her age, baby boomers, with a very different philosophy of life and marriage than the one I received from my aunt, grandmother-in-law, father, and uncle. How often I’ve heard these women encourage us to be ball-busting, take no prisoner types. To essentially be like a man in a skirt, because putting your faith in a man is a bad idea. Refuse to settle for anything less than your bliss. Discard anything and anyone that gives you more than a limited amount of discomfort. Don’t set yourself up for a life filled with regrets for what you could have done and didn’t.

Now I know why young people who are looking for something deeper than fun times and material comfort keep coming up empty. I also see why young people who have no more wisdom than can fit into a thimble think they have life figured out. It’s because more and more of our elders are failing us by teaching us that the way we feel should take precedence over everything. The ones among us who have something of worth to impart have been locked away in the nearest assisted living institution, age-segregated where there are no young people to guide and instruct in common sense and timeless godly wisdom.

I feel profoundly blessed to have been born in time to benefit from the lives of those born before and during the Depression. And that they were still around to guide me. I feel for the younger people who are stuck with the “wisdom” of the ME generation, masquerading as profundity. I can’t stress enough how much you can gain from seeking out older, godly people to get some sense of what life is really all about.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Knowing how much we don’t know is probably a close second.

American identity, cultural absurdity, Uncategorized

On “Sexual Misconduct”

Am I the only one who sees the irony in liberal media types running around accusing any and every human with penis and a modicum of power of “sexual misconduct”? I didn’t think so. There has been a lot written and said about this, but I finally ran across a piece of honest writing from a woman on the subject, via Rod Dreher, so I’ll post a few sinppets of it here. Go there to read the whole thing.

Berlinski then goes on to talk about how in real life — the place where human beings, not automatons or ideologues, live — relations between men and women are complicated and fraught with a sexual tension that can be delicious:

Courtship is not a phenomenon so minor to our behavioral repertoire that we can readily expunge it from the workplace. It is central to human life. Men and women are attracted to each other; the human race could not perpetuate itself otherwise; and anyone who imagines they will cease to be attracted to each other—or act as if they were not—in the workplace, or any other place, is delusional. Anyone who imagines it is easy for a man to figure out whether a woman might like to be kissed is insane. The difficulty of ascertaining whether one’s passions are reciprocated is the theme of 90 percent of human literature and every romantic comedy or pop song ever written.

Romance involves the most complex of human emotions, desire the most powerful of human drives. It is so easy to read the signals wrong. Every honest man will tell you that at times he has misread these signals, and so will every honest woman. The insistence that an unwanted kiss is always about power, not courtship, simply isn’t a serious theory of the case—not when the punishment for this crime is so grave. Men, too, are entitled to the benefit of the doubt, and even to a presumption of innocence.

Berlinski is scandalized by the way accused men are accepting blame. It reminds her of Communist show trials:

They are all confessing in the same dazed, rote, mechanical way. It’s always the same statement: “I have come to realize that it does not matter that, at the time, I may have perceived my words as playful. It does not matter that, at the time, I may have felt that we were flirting. It does not matter that, at the time, I may have felt what I said was okay. The only thing that matters is how I made these three women feel,” said Representative Steve Lebsock. Now that is a remarkable thing to say. Why doesn’t it matter what he thought what was happening? Why would we accept as remotely rational the idea that the only thing that matters is how the women felt? The confession continues in the same vein: “It is hard for me to express how shocked I am to realize the depth of the pain I have caused and my journey now is to come to terms with my demons and I’ve brought on a team of therapists and I will be entering counselling and reflecting carefully on issues of gender inequality, power, and privilege in our society and—”

For God’s sake, why are these men all humiliating themselves? It’s not like confessing will bring forgiveness. They must all know, like Bukharin, that no matter what they say, the ritual of confession will be followed by the ritual of liquidation. If they said, “You’ve all lost your f*cking minds, stop sniffing my underwear and leave me the f*ck alone,” they’d meet exactly the same fate. Why didn’t Bukharin say, “To hell with you. You may kill me, but you will not make me grovel?” I used to wonder, but now I see. Am I the only one who finds these canned, rote, mechanical, brainwashed apologies deeply creepy? Isn’t anyone else put in mind of the Cultural Revolution’s Struggle Sessions, where the accused were dragged before crowds to condemn themselves and plead for forgiveness? This very form of ritual public humiliation, aimed at eliminating all traces of reactionary thinking, now awaits anyone accused of providing an unwanted backrub.

This Berlinski essay really brings home what readers and friends who grew up under Communism have been trying to tell me about the way Western culture is changing for the worst.

Here’s the world we have created for ourselves, says Berlinski:

Given the events of recent weeks, we can be certain of this: From now on, men with any instinct for self-preservation will cease to speak of anything personal, anything sexual, in our presence. They will make no bawdy jokes when we are listening. They will adopt in our presence great deference to our exquisite sensitivity and frailty. Many women seem positively joyful at this prospect. The Revolution has at last been achieved! But how could this be the world we want? Isn’t this the world we escaped?

Like I said, you can go read the whole thing at Dreher’s. It is pretty easy to see Claire Berlinski’s piece through a negative lens at first glance, but she’s just telling a truth that western culture has worked hard to bury. Namely this: women love attention from men until it’s somehow in their interest to pretend that they don’t.

cultural absurdity, family life, healthy living, Homemaking stuff, wife stuff

What is the point of our work?

Has God indeed said that we are to “work hard”?

I read this and it pierced me, because I can be so possessed with efficiency and fulfilling lists that I regularly find myself out of steam.

I set ambitious goals for all the *stuff* I want to accomplish, frustrating myself when I inevitably fail to get it all done. This striving continues for several days, and then crash and revert to doing the bare minimum. Usually on Mondays. I just need to try harder, I tell myself. Be more organized. Eat better and get more sleep so I will have more energy. Pray for more focus and concentration so I can get more done. The Protestant work ethic gone sour. Joshua Gibbs questions these notions for homeschoolers, but his ideas are easily transferable to the life of the home in general:

The idea of finishing a certain task in “a more timely fashion” was meaningless, for Adam and Eve had no expectation they would ever run out of time. Efficiency places value on time as a limited commodity, but for deathless beings, time is endless. Adam replies to his wife that man was made delight, for the love of God and the service of God’s friends, and that work exists that man might love God in his work. Work has no value in and of itself.

Granted, we do not live in such a world anymore. We do not have unlimited resources of time at our disposal, and it is possible for a man to run out of time without accomplishing all he needs to do. However, the imposition of time on our lives does not change the fact we were made for delight in God, not for work. Work is not the point of work. When a man obscures the love of God with his commitment to work, he becomes a slave. A slave lives in fear, as St. Paul suggests in Romans, for the slave is commanded from above with coercive threats. If a man neglects the knowledge of God in his work, he has been reduced to a chattel, for he regards himself as purely physical object.

My husband, ironically, is always encouraging me that I am doing fine, that I don’t need to be stressing this stuff all the time even as I insist that I am just trying to be a good wife to him. He says I am already a good wife; excellent even.

This begs the question: If God doesn’t want me to work purely for the sake of working, and my husband is happy and more concerned with his family’s overall quality of life than a perfectly executed checklist, where does this pressure I put on myself come from?

 

American identity, cultural absurdity, Uncategorized

Exaggerations

One of the wonderful things about interacting with lots of different people -alongside the juxtaposition of virtual interactions- is that you get a sense of reality that is refreshingly distant from the narratives of media and online memes. Our daughter shared something with me last night that she heard somewhere else. Namely this:

‘The Internet is an exaggeration.”

I would add to this that the media is also a bastion of exaggeration. I often say this, and it’s true: There is no money to be made from happy, anxiety-free people.

That occurred to me this morning as I scanned the articles in my reader. It’s not as if I didn’t already know this, but there is clearly an antagonism and earnestness online over minutiae that one rarely encounters in the flesh. That is of course, unless the minutiae at hand is in important to someone.  In which case, it isn’t really minutiae, but you get my meaning.

This is where the media gets in on it, by finding the one child in 10,000 who died from some rare disorder and producing a 10-minute feature segment on it which tugs at the heart strings. To raise awareness. And anxiety, based on an exaggerated fear.

Another daughter noted that Richard Spencer will be in our neck of the woods very soon and that the governor has declared a state of emergency in the city where he will be speaking. This news gave me a sense of how easy it is for the self-proclaimed awake among us to usher the exaggerations from the airwaves and digital superhighway into stark reality.

Thankfully, for all the consternation from those on both the left and the right about the ignorant masses (I’ve been guilty of this myself), I couldn’t help but be somewhat thankful that the majority of Americans are too occupied with Facebook, Game of Thrones and daily life to really care much about these things. The reason American news is so filled with fluff and infotainment is precisely because most Americans have pretty much tuned them out.  They are trying desperately and unsuccessfully to draw the people back in but the people are occupied with other amusements and their own daily existence.

This is not without its drawbacks, but it’s not without its virtues either. Not being consumed with or even attentive to all of this fear baiting means taking the people that they encounter from day to day at face value, embracing or dismissing them on the merits of their interactions, and individual knowledge of their characters. It isn’t so much that we don’t know we’re divided, what divides us, or that trust levels are at an all-time low.

It’s just that the extroversion which characterizes the majority of human personalities -making Facebook, It, and the latest NFL kerfuffle more worthy of attention- also inherently appreciates the commonality of the human experience.

They’re leaving the debates, paranoia and arguing over minutiae to us introverts in the minority, who fancy ourselves awake, standing guard on the walls of Western Civilization as if we can save it from its just desserts, so that it escapes the fate of every other decadent and perverse empire in history. The 50 or so people who read here are pretty sharp, but for those who don’t know it: God is not mocked.

So be aware, but also look for, enjoy, and embrace the beauty in life; in all the ways and people through whom God expresses it.

 

Common sense, cultural absurdity, healthy living, real living in a virtual world, spirit led living, things that make me go hmm....

Saturday Stream of Consciousness

Mountain stream

Some thoughts rolling around in the streams of my mind while my beloved works and our firstborn has commandeered our kitchen for business purposes. With some time between loads of laundry, I came here to ramble before I start reading The Children’s Homer  and putting some effort into making a skirt.

~Boring testimonies?  One of my kids shared with me this article from Christianity Today. Because I know intimately some of her struggles, all of my girls’ in fact, I was glad she ran across this piece as she was looking for something else.

I was on my way to having a similar testimony but my inner rebel reared her ugly head in a spectacular way just before I turned 21 making it easier for me to identify a need for repentace. Even still, it was years later before I understood the depth of my depravity apart from Christ and that it was so from the moment I was born into the world. I was totally gripped by ” But I’m a good person” syndrome for a good long time.

~Exercise lethargy: Missing workouts for just 10 days has made me feel like I am back at the exercise starting gate. I know I’m not, but it just feels like it. I’m getting back into the swing of it however. Making proper sleep and tending to the needs of someone else the priority over my early morning workouts was absolutely the right move, but I am glad to be getting back into some semblance of a normal routine. 

It’s kind of eerie really, how the rest of the world keeps moving when ours stops, and how they (gasp!) expect us to somehow get it together and start moving again too.

~Couple dynamics: Spending some time with my stepmom last night highlighted for me how powerful couple dynamics are. It has always been pretty obvious that my dad was the more socially active, community minded of the two of them (even though he was more than 20 years older than her). However, his presence made the dynamic less apparent while his absence has made it almost palpable. It made me think about our couple dynamic. I am much more social than my mom, but my husband is the relational guru of this duo, and it would be a struggle for me to keep our connections alive and relevant without him.

~The prosperity gospel is about more than just wealth and health: There is an unspoken but nearly ubiquitous belief among American Christians. Namely, that if you do everything *right* then you deserve good things to happen to you. Conversely, if you’ve ever been a rank sinner in your life (which supposes that there is anyone alive who never was), then you don’t deserve for good things to happen to you.

It’s another form of the prosperity gospel, which is no gospel at all. Matthew 5:45 springs to mind, but more than that, where does any one of us get off declaring evil those whom God has called among His redeemed? This is why I echo what David said: Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” Which brings me to my final thoughts:

~Making the perfect the enemy of the good: My e-friend Scott has been thinking, which may or may not be dangerous. His is one of the few sites I bother to dialogue at anymore, even though he espouses a few ideas with which I disagree. His latest post made me think, and not just about the topic at hand, even though I agree with his thoughts there.

Specifically, I was thinking about how most people, in various areas of life, are pragmatic and appreciate that reality will do, even as we strive for the ideal. It’s not like I don’t understand why this tendency breaks down when the subject is our most intimate relationships, but I wonder how many more marriages, families, and children would be spared to later thrive in something closer to the ideal if we weren’t being conditioned to believe that we all are fabulously unique and specail creatures wh only deserve the very best all the time. Actually, that wasn’t my final thought.

~ Musings from the stats page: I sometimes  look back at an old post when I see on my insights page that someone recently read it. I’m not much one for looking back, or even remembering, the details of what I wrote 3 months ago, let alone more than 6 months ago, so it’s kind of neat to re-read some of those posts on occasion. After reading some of the things I wrote this spring and summer, I noted how closely my thoughts were dovetailing with a verse of Scripture I read this morning in 1 Thessolonians about people being busybodies, minding others’ matters.

Being really big on the idea of “live and let live”, I find anyone’s fixation with things which are really none of their concern equal parts fascinating and grating. I suspect it’s probably just part and parcel of being a denizen of an Internet “community” which is hihgly concerned with orthopraxy as well as orthodoxy, but it really does grate on my nerves when someone teaches a wife to do things that are actually her husband’s business, or mind what someone else should read, write, or comment on. Additionally, there is a lot of Romans 2 on display, which is an excellent reminder for me to stick with discussing issues, and never people. I’ll close this stream of consciousness with one of my daily prayers, which seems apt:

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my Strength, and My Redeemer.

You can find that one in Psalm 19 for anyone interested.

 

 

 

American identity, Beauty, cultural absurdity, healthy living, real living in a virtual world, spirit led living

Happiness is boring to postmoderns.

‘Tis a statement of fact that postmodern people -including Christians- have been effectively de-normed. We do not know how to appreciate simplicity, to be content, to be happy,  to rejoice with those who rejoice, or to mourn with those who mourn, or even define bedrock terms from a Biblical framework.

All most of us know how to do today is gawk, gossip, and gripe. It’s a sad truth, but it is a truth nonetheless. This was a hard pill for me to swallow a few years ago when I first committed a more positive thought and conversational life. That’s not to say that I fully achieved this. It was hard then, and it sometimes still is, but it’s easier now that I accept being mostly on my own looking for the joy in the dailyless of life, and being thankful for it.

Every now and again, however, I run across a fellow traveler who is quick to offer a response of heartfelt joy to someone else’s good news, good fortune, or acts of Christian kindness. Someone who offers exuberant, unsolicited praise for their husband, gratitude for their church, and just seems to be looking for the good in a world awash with bad news. It encourages me, as did this piece I stumbled upon via Rod Dreher:

Boy oh boy, is Felix Miller ever right:

Contemporary young people on the right may be described in many ways: Transgressive. Ostracized. Principled. Unpopular. Free-thinking. Reactionary. Traditional. However accurate—and perhaps damning — one thinks these are, there is one label that greatly worries me: Joyless.

He’s not talking about being funny, in a smart-alecky way. He’s talking about something rooted in love. More:

Many on the right, especially those who identify as “Alt-Right,” spend massive amounts of time rejoicing in the pain of those with whom they disagree. The fact that videos about “libtard meltdowns” and “Butt-Hurt Crying Hillary Voters Compilation” have far more views than videos about Shakespeare, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Dante’s Commedia, should tell us something. Young conservatives and reactionaries, much as they flail their hands at the death of Western civilization and the loss of wisdom, do very little in the way of actually preserving the beauty and truth underlying this great tradition. If joy is truly a result of love, man must be very careful to develop the right affections in his breast. Right now many on the right seem hellbent on cultivating affection for dank memes rather than for truth, goodness, and beauty.

Miller says that G.K. Chesterton ought to be our model. We can’t simply say what we’re against. We have to say what we’re for, and not only that, but we have to live it out. If we really believe what we say, then “we must show our countrymen that there is a better way.” Miller suggests eating, drinking, and making all kinds of traddish merry. More:

This may seem abstruse, but in fact it is one of the most practical realizations a young traditionalist can make. Simply change your habits to help bring friends and family into rituals and ways of life that affirm reality. Host a formal dinner! Go to an art museum! Have a picnic in which you read classic poetry aloud! This is how we can create a sustainable traditionalism in the West.

What I am advocating here is not aestheticism, but communally gathering around all that is true, good, and beautiful. Politics is ordered toward promotion of the common good, thus in order to engage in politics we all must first have a love for the good. We cannot base the rejuvenation of our dying civilization upon a shared animosity, for as Chesterton reminds us, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

True, this. Is it any wonder the world is in the mess that it’s in, and the church along with it? Why do so few seem to ask whose interests are served by our perpetual state of discontent, blaming, criticizing, finger pointing, and fighting?

Sadly, I think I know the answer to the questions. It’s because our natures, deep down, love darkness rather than light. Not only that, we’re mentally lazy and cognitive misers. That may be redundant, but it’s worth a double emphasis.

Joyful living and appreciation of others demand that we subdue our sinful tendency toward selfisness and criticism. Put simply, poking sticks and complaining is just more fun, if only because there’s much more company on the crowded road.

The news of the day is grim, and there is lots to criticize, murmur and complain about. Make a choice to choose life over death, blessing over cursing, joy over discontentment. Really, how much can any one of us do to stem the tide of evil perpetually reported for the express purpose of instiling fear and squelching whatever peace we have? Not much, so why volunteer to be terrified and agitated?

As for us and our house, we are making efforts, real efforts, to embrace beauty, family, community, and Ultimate Truth.

 

 

cultural absurdity, healthy living, real living in a virtual world

The Great American Mind Hack.

Irma’s gone -we’re all fine- and wreaked a bit of havoc on some of our extended family farther north. Except for the loss of power and few trees down, they are all fine as well. Floridians south and west of us took much harder hits, so keep them in your prayers and donate money (or not) to whatever charities you will. I wouldn’t however, suggest large doses of media coverage about this storm’s aftermath. I felt the same way about Harvey and was less much anxious about Irma as a result.

All of this brings me to the point of this post: the great American mind hack. It’s real, it’s relentless, and our only defense is awareness and diligence to maintain a firewall against the hackers. This friends, is not easy. At least it isn’t for me. I have been going into overdrive with this one of late, and I still find myself needing to continuously update my firewall.

I don’t have much to add except for a few excellent links I’ve recently encountered on the subject. The first is an article in which Zuckerberg and company pretty much admit they are all about taking away your privacy AND your anonymity as these are vices which allow you to harbor and express your deepest thoughts uncontested and unmolested. Here’s an teaser from How Sillion Valley is erasing your individuality:

To take another grand theory, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has exclaimed his desire to liberate humanity from phoniness, to end the dishonesty of secrets. “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” he has said. “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” Of course, that’s both an expression of idealism and an elaborate justification for Facebook’s business model.

In a sphere of anonymous (or at least semi-anonymous) bloggers, that should make you shudder regardless of your ideology. Eponymity for everyone! Which is one of the hundreds of reasons we don’t like Facebook.

In that same vein, this interview with Franklin Foer,  the writer of the first piece, where we see a theme begin to emerge:

And you think we’re being manipulated into giving up our privacy? The book mentions that Silicon Valley libertarianism gets all the attention, but you say that the “collapse of the individual” is actually the guiding ethos. How did you come to that?

To be clear, “Silicon Valley” is a fairly glib and imprecise term, so when I use it, I am referring to its elites, and to its thought leaders, not to the average engineer.

I started just watching every YouTube video I could get of a town hall meeting featuring Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, and so on. I started listening to what they were saying and it wasn’t a lot of screeds against government or celebrations of the heroic individual. What I found was this love of all things social. The network is the most fetishized concept in the valley, and as I listened, I began to think the real danger was the collectivism. They were so obsessed with achieving some sort of new global consciousness, and I found them to be completely immune to all reasonable anxieties about the state of the individual.

If supposed libertarianism is getting too much attention, which attitude do you think we’re not looking at enough?

Monopoly. When you listen to most people in Silicon Valley talk about the network they talk about it as a winner-take-all system. The idea of the network is that you make a bet on the right company and they capture the network and all the other market players disappear. I think that’s a very common way of thinking.

If you listen to the way that people like Larry Page talk about competition, they abhor the idea of competition. They think of it as something that’s almost beneath them. So rather than competing against Apple, or Uber, they would much rather focus on their moonshot ideas and doing something truly transformational, and this replicates language that we’ve heard throughout history.

The last link is a video that Hearth shared with me a few days ago, on which the title of this post is based.  The distinctions he makes betweem pleasure and  happiness, and the result of the conflation of the two and the aggressive marketing of plasure seeking onto the American populace is enlightening. I also appreciated his distinction between marketing and propaganda.

Yeah, yeah, I know none of this is news to most people who read here, but it’s worth a listen because we’ve evolved to the point where technology can provide that dopamine *hit* for many people. I am slightly hesitant to buy into this too much, but only because the word addiction makes me uncomfortable due to its ability to offer cover for people in situations where they really can just dig deep and learn to stop it.

Some food for thought I thought worth passing on.

 

 

American identity, cultural absurdity, healthy living, Uncategorized

Don’t watch the news.

I grew up in a house where watching the news to stay informed was considered a mature and reasonable thing for an adult to do. My dad read the paper faithfully every morning, watched the 6 PM news faithfully every evening, and rounded it out with Peter Jennings at 6:30. I am not as faithful about the news as he was, but I always had at least a side eye on what’s happening. However, American news outlets are a one way ticket to CrazyTown.

Abandon American national news media via television or radio. Check local weather online (we live in a hurricane zone and it’s peak season here for the next six weeks, so…). Only read national news twice a week, and world news from non-American sources. Yes, the BBC is a liberal outlet, but it’s still better than ABC/CBS/NBC/CNN/MSNBC, etc. And at least with them I can get news on what’s happening in Afghanistan, which I like to stay on top of for familial reasons. Other than that, it’s best to tune out.

Every person I know who seems sane and untouched by the crazy is a person who has no idea what’s happening in the news.

American identity, cultural absurdity

American stupidity is more like it.

This morning during the cool down after our run, our daughter told me about a  singer –Allen Stone– she recently encountered via Spotify. The lyrics to one of his songs follows:

American Privelege

Oh, it doesn’t seem right that I, I was born white
And my seven-stone fight told me they love me each night
I don’t lose sleep for kids sewing my sheets
Or the ones snitching my sneaks, as long as I can buy ’em both cheap

American privilege, is blurring my vision, inherited sickness
American privilege, is blurring my vision, inherited sickness

Everyday I piss money away, I’m the tip of your slave
Just tryna polish this ball and this chain
‘Cause I, I don’t think twice, just keep it out of my sight, oh
Bitch, don’t kill my vibe, no, bitch don’t kill my vibe

American privilege, keeps blurring my vision, inherited sickness
American privilege, keeps blurring my vision, inherited sickness

As long as I stay comfortable
(Cash that paycheck, spend it all)
(Build that house up big and tall)
Break the bank to build the wall
(Robbing Peter to pay Paul)
As long as I stay comfortable
(Robbing Peter to pay Paul)

American privilege, keeps blurring my vision, inherited sickness
American privilege, keeps blurring my vision, inherited sickness

 

She did some recon on this guy after encountering the song and…lo and behold! His dad is a pastor and his mom a nurse. In other words, with such parentage, he probably would’ve been fine no matter what color they were.

Her thoughts:

“I liked his music until this silly song played. He completely missed it when his privilege, as a straight white male, was revoked. Most of what he describes of his life is also my experience. The great life with the happily married parents is likely because he was raised in a Christian home rather than a white one. I’m as privileged -if not more- than he is. Only privileged white people left in America are white women, and that’s because they’re women. “

This current climate is easy to reduce to sound bites and sides but it really is complicated. 

I ran across this guy recently. Despite his misunderstanding of diversity and obvious affinity for BLM (Garvey’s Ghost echoes my thoughts on that movement) he is at least intellectually honest enough to acknowledge that white men are being demonized and denigrated by the liberal media as much as black men have been, even though the genesis and motivations are different.