Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gay hating vs. Troop hating

I remember an episode of the Colbert Report where Tim Robbins, and actor and anti-war activist who has produced an anti-war play, arrived to be interviewed. Stephen Colbert says to Robbins, "I have a two part question…What is the most favorite move you’ve acted in and why do you hate the troops?" Tim Robbins laughed. It was a ridiculous example of an accusation wrapped in an un-answerable question wherein you must attack the premise in order to answer it.

Now in regard to the Iraq war, it made me cringe when those on the right accused those who opposed the war of "hating the troops". It is true that opposing a war may have some negative consequences for those troops in the midst of the war in the form of propaganda for the other side, less money and support for the effort on the home front etc… But that's a very far cry from "hating the troops", which indicates that one has a malignant intent to inflict harm and difficulty on the troops or harbors a willful and cavalier disregard for their well being.

Some people have a conscience that believes that confronting a problem of leadership in the war is worth some of the secondary negative consequences for the war effort that may result from being vocal. Some people believe that these consequences are to be avoided during the midst of a war. These are both rational position of conscience and it is important for either side to recognize the other as a valid position of conscience, even if there are substrata of worldviews at work in each party that are profoundly alien to the other.

I remember John Stewart in his interview with John McCain who appropriately called the charge of troop hating a "cudgel" to suppress a dialogue that our nation needed to have. The charge of "troop hating" does not allow for a nuanced position that allows for an individual citizen in a democratic society to voice a concern that says, "I think that there is a problem with the war and the way it is being prosecuted." I've often thought that the charge of "troop hating" was an attempt to allow incompetent war bureaucrats to hide their incompetence behind combat boots. Dealing with the rhetorical and philosophical dimensions of society and war is a huge topic that I will deal with more in depth later.

Suffice to say for now that the charge of "troop hating" is leveled by those who have a peculiar worldview that says that any vocal opposition to a war in the midst of a war is fundamentally immoral and twisted. For one who harbors this worldview to ask another person who vocally opposes the war "Do you hate the troops? The answer is "Yes. -- if your worldview conflates war opposition with troop hating." Here, "Do you hate the troops?" is not actually a question in search of an answer but a self-referential worldview disguised as a question seeking confirmation for its own existence.

The same problem that characterized the right in regard to the troops is now the characterizing the left in regard to gay marriage. If I support Prop 8 do I hate gay people? The answer is Yes – if your worldview conflates Prop 8 support with gay hatred. Nuanced positions on the topic need not apply.

The accusation of "hate" seeks to utterly obliterate any speck of validity of any position of conscience of the other side. The accusation of "hate" is toxic to dialogue and has benefit only in the short term as the rhetorical equivalent of a rhetorical spear thrust in the phalanx war. The charge of "hate" may win a battle temporarily in a climate where people are too afraid to be labeled as "haters", but it will not ultimately win hearts and minds. When people resort to throwing "slogan bricks" at each other, they have eschewed dialogue and are scarcely worthy of being afforded with a civic matrix that supports dialogue, which is what a democracy is.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Morality, Law and the Gay Marriage debate

I care about the quality of the debate on gay marriage. I value more the words of a thoughtful person who disagrees than a thoughtless person who agrees. I support the limitation of the word "marriage" to one male - one female unions, so I do support some form of a ban on "gay marriage" though not on civilly recognized gay unions. I am intellectually honest enough to admit that I am imposing my moral view on others. I am also convinced that those who support it are imposing their moral view on me.

That said, I don't think that the gay marriage movement as a whole has achieved the full measure of intellectual honesty as to what it wants. The gay marriage advocates say that hetero-only marriage advocates are imposing their morality on others while the gay marriage crowd is not imposing a morality but simply acknowledging a fundamental human right. I'm not saying that the gay marriage movement is being intentionally dishonest in this regard, rather that the gay marriage movement needs to admit that it is imposing a moral view on society.

A morality is, at its core, based on a view of human design. The moral precepts of what is right and wrong then flow from this basic assumption of our design. As for the law and morality, there is more complex relationship between the two that many people acknowledge. The law enforces that aspect of morality that is considered necessary and fundamental for people to co-exist. Most people agree on the fundamentals and may quibble over the legal details. For example, most people believe that theft is fundamentally wrong and may disagree over how the law should be applied or how other competing fundamental ideas should be negotiated in regard to the laws against theft.

It is in a dispute over what is and what isn’t "fundamental" that puts the law in the center of a fundamental moral debate. When there is dispute as to what is fundamental, the law that must choose one moral vision over another. Those who have a view of what is fundamental on the wrong side of the law will feel that the law imposing a moral system. If there is enough of a chasm of disagreement some form of conflict or even war is inevitable. If you have a moral system that believes in the fundamental need to sacrifice young children on an altar, the American system of law will gladly and forcibly impose a moral system on you, with the force of the military if necessary.

In regard to gay marriage, I’m not saying that gay marriage will cause armed conflict, but that the issue of gay marriage is such a moral pivot point in the law that one party will feel that a morality is being imposed on them. The gay marriage advocates do not admit they are legally imposing a moral view on the grounds that what they are proposing is fundamental. The problem is that the question of what is fundamental is being debated. In this context, declaring that their view is "fundamental" is a way of claiming victory in a moral debate without fully admitting that they are in a moral debate. This elision from A) not admitting that they are promoting a moral view to B) declaring victory in the moral debate is a consequence of sloganeering, trying to condense a moral debate that they have not fully acknowledged that they are having into sound bites.

The overt rhetoric of the gay marriage movement is that marriage between any two willing parties is a fundamental right, but that is only the "bright side of the moon" of their moral view. The full moon is this: the gay marriage advocates have a fundamental moral view that there are no consequential differences between a gay marriage and a hetero marriage. From this flows the moral imperative that each must be seen as equal in every meaningful way. Gay marriage is a right of design and to believe otherwise to have an "un-fundamental" and "idiosyncratic" belief that must be sealed away from its intrusion into society where "fundamental" beliefs must have the day.

This was the moral vision of the black civil rights movement that there are no consequential racial differences. Since the vast majority of us agree with the black civil rights movement, it can be hard to see the force of the legal pivot that was created to wrench people out of their racial bigotry and/or their ability to practice it. For those people, the law was very much a force that was imposing a moral system on them.

It is in the comparison to the black civil rights movement that the gay marriage moral vision is available to be plainly seen even if it is not always stated as boldly as it needs to be by the gay marriage advocates. The gay marriage movement wants the law to catch up to and validate its moral vision so that the when the law enforces certain aspects of morality, which it does, it will enforce the moral vision of the gay marriage movement and not the moral vision of the anti-gay marriage movement. The law will, to a certain extent, enforce moral thought.

If I may digress. In regard to the question of what is and isn't fundamental, I have wrested with the question of how and where law and morality do and do not overlap. Even though I consider believing in Jesus fundamental to my moral system, I do not consider it fundamental for a person to believe in Jesus to be able to function in civil society and therefore do not make it law to believe in Jesus. Rather, I join a self selected group known as a church who have their own ways of rewarding Jesus-belief with a certain hierarchy of preference and privilege.

My belief in Jesus is an "idiosyncratic" belief that must be, in a certain sense, kept in a sphere separate from public discourse, even as my belief in Jesus may have a great gravitational force of influence on my public discourse. In a similar manner I allow people to drink legally in a wider society though I don't condone it in my self-selected circle. Society can only make laws on alcohol to protect people when there is certain degree of verifiable harm caused to themselves and others.

Is the belief in hetero-marriage exclusivity aka “man-woman exceptionalism” a religious belief that belongs in the compartment of creeds, away from all civil society, wherein its claims to harm are too unprovable as to require laws to protect people from that harm? Or is it something that has claims on civil society? I have begun to explore these issues in other writings here and here. For this writing I'm simply trying to focus on the issue of imposing morality. I do think that there are realms of law and morality that need to be kept separate when it is possible for the law to be neutral in an area of thought, which is the case for many aspects of religious belief. There are certain aspects of differences between people and that the law must be blind to and other aspects of difference that the law is not blind to.

At what lengths will the law go to enforce "marriage blindness"? Can I have a private belief in man-woman exceptionalism as part of a church that chooses not to endorse homo marriages, while accepting a wider society that is "marriage blind"? Perhaps. But in regard to gay marriage I’m convinced that I’ve been given a choice to have my moral vision imposed on others or have a moral vision imposed on me by the force of the law.

When the law imposes a moral vision in regard to the gay marriage issue, the opposing moral vision will be the wrong end of many forms of law that interact with the public far beyond the reach of any two individuals bedroom including hate speech laws, harassment laws, textbooks, tax dollars. In the black civil rights movement when the law pivoted in favor the moral vision of Martin Luther King, Jr., the apparatus of the law and government pivoted to enforce it.

The schools were a major battle ground for enforcing the moral vision of the black civil rights movement. Of course the issue of schools was directly involved in the Civil rights legislation and is not directly involved in the Prop 8 gay marriage debate. Nevertheless, it is valid for the anti-gay marriage movement to raise the topic of schools. For the anti-Prop 8 people to say that the laws to legalizing gay marriage do not mention schools is merely a technicality to the issue.

All children, by law, must attend some sort of school, all pay tax dollars to support public schools, and not all parents have the resources to send their children somewhere other than a public school. It would take another long essay (or set of essays) to get into this in depth, but public schools are heavily invested in promoting a politically correct moral system. That imposition may not be obvious if you fully agree with it, but it's there and it's obvious if you don't agree.

Many schools have become heavy handed "zero tolerance" zones where judiciousness for common sense and age-appropriate punishment can suffer. For example, I care greatly about schools dealing with bully behavior including those who would bully a gay person, but zero tolerance one-size-fits all sledge-hammer on-a-gnat policies are scary and often lopsided in their application. In this Alice and Wonderland, schools have been capable of trying to remove the title of “winner” and “loser” from sporting games, prosecuting young boys with age adult sex offender laws for harassing girls, suspending a child for drawing a gun on a piece of paper, and changing their name to remove Thomas Jefferson from the name of their school by being so concerned that Jefferson owned slaves that they do not recognize the value of what he did contribute to U.S. history. It would not surprise me when various zero-tolerance policies come into effect to expunge all that is not agreeable to the moral vision of the gay marriage advocates in schools.

A consequence of not admitting that they intend to impose a moral vision has meant that the gay marriage movement has been eliding between two elements of it’s rhetoric: A) that it simply wants to expand a limited legal freedom that will impose nothing on outsiders (how is Adam and Steve's getting married going to affect your marriage?) and B) that it sees itself in the tradition of the black civil rights movement wherein the law was completely re-arranged to enforce the black civil rights fundamental moral vision via a whole suite of laws including affirmative action, hate laws, discrimination laws, etc...

The goal to impose a moral vision is also indicated by those who have the gay marriage moral vision who consider it "hate" to not have that vision. This ups the ante beyond saying "I disagree with your belief that man-woman exceptionalism has any legal claim structure of society". The accusation of "hate" is another way of declaring victory in a moral debate without fully admitting that one is in a moral debate . You don’t have to acknowledge the debate if you simply dismiss those who disagree as being haters, like mere barking dogs or mere lunatics being frightened by phantasms. It is the charge of "hate" that most strongly betrays a goal not merely to allow for a moral salad bowl where gay marriage is simply legal, but to force the idea of man-woman exceptionalism out of the public sphere as much as possible with the force of law.

For the gay marriage advocates to fully present their opinions out in the open the need do the following:

A) As Martin Luther King, Jr. unequivocal stated (with a different choice of words, of course) that there were no consequential racial differences, the gay marriage advocates need to declare unequivocally, "This is my moral vision. There are absolutely no consequential/important differences between a homo marriage and a hetero marriage"

B) Instead of accusing the anti-gay marriage as being the only party imposing a morality, the gay marriage movement needs to say "I believe that my moral vision is the correct moral vision to be considered as "fundamental" and want the law to impose my moral vision because I think that my moral vision is right and yours is wrong. I want the apparatus of the law to use every means at its disposal to enforce this moral vision as the law does for every other moral vision that is within the law".

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Here is a letter to the editor of The Atlantic that I sent in back in April 2008 in response to this article in about Britney Spears and her Paparazzi.

--Re: The Britney Show

If Britney can be described as a moth in the night headed toward death by the big bright bug zapper, the paparazzi can be described as helping to drive the moth to the zapper and then making a fine art out of capturing the flames at just the right camera angle.

Britney’s bubble-gum girl next store slut image is perhaps a product of needing of father she never had and of willing to accept any sort of male attention even if it is really bad and exploitative. Like an addict to this attention, she has developed a craving for this nasty and destructive attention, even if she must “Eat it!, Lick it, Snort it! F*ck it!” to get it. As an addict, Brittany simultaneously loathes and craves the exploitative attention of the paparazzi and of the online chat room fans who cluck over her every insane act and who love to see her stardom toppled.

Here, the paparazzi are more than just the vehicles of this miserable attention. The paparazzi are directly contributing to Britney’s insanity as direct actors on the stage of Britney’s drama. They are so violative of the sort of aloneness and privacy that she would need to even begin to sort herself out. When this need asserts itself in her, she rages at what has become a miserable existence and breathes "like a bull” out of fury desperation to be left alone. Of course, as Brittany rages out, she is only ever more fascinating to the paparazzi, who want to capture the next crazy antic.

Instead of dwelling on the macabre idea of profit off of the combustible flames of her self-destruction that they have had a role in creating, the razzi have dwelt on the “art” of this exploitation and speak in almost hushed tones about the sublimity of the art of their craft. If Britney "fulfills her apparent and dies in a fiery car crash”, they will revel in the camera angle and the lighting that they photograph her corpse and may not spend a moment meditating on their role in it all.

If that happens there should be a "righteous outcry against the paparazzi and those who publish their pictures". There should be also be a moment of introspection at our culture that has allowed the paparazzi to become profitable. At this level of patent exploitation, merely saying that "paparazzi exist for the same reason that the stars exist: we want to see their pictures" and being glad when "we are confirmed in our belief that it is better, after all, not to be one of them" is no excuse and no good. Those who revel in seeing Britney in her current condition courtesy of the paparazzi are living out their own complicit form of sickness.
--

I’ve become more and more convinced that celebrity obsession is one of the “axis of rot” in our culture along with “fleeting indecency”, slut fashion, and a host of other things.

TMZ, in particular, is a hugely successful paparazzi company with a TV show that makes money off of harassing celebrities. It adds nothing of value to the culture, and only services the voyeurism of people who need the “tear’em down so that I can feel better about my miserable life” aspect of celebrity obsession.

The end of celebrity obsession needs to start with Christians. To the extent that we Christians participate in the culture of celebrity worship, we need to repent of admiration/envy of celebrities as an idolatry that uses humans to medicate holes in the soul that only God can heal.

Let’s take an indefinite fast from media celebrity voyeurism. For those who can’t imagine a complete break with products of the paparazzi, how about starting with a fast from celebrities for lent.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

letter to the FCC

Here is an e-mail I sent to the Kevin J. Miller, Chairman of the FCC

-- I’m writing this to encourage the FCC not to back down on the Supreme Court battle regarding "fleeting" cusswords or nudity. Either the indecency is harmful or it isn't. To split hairs between the "fleeting" and the “not fleeting" is to put the concern for indecency on a slope to irrelevance.

The logic that allows for "fleeting indecency" is based on the idea that a little surprise indecency is harmless and that only a long/endless stream of profanity is a problem. By this logic saying “F*ck” once is only 1/10 as damaging as saying it ten times in a row.

Fleeting indecency does not operate as a “step function”. Part of the power of fleeting indecency is that it is sudden and un-expected. Its power lies in the first instant the indecency violates the boundary, which is as harmful or more than any subsequent stream of indecency that may follow from that instant. The instant that the indecency is brought into the world, the toothpaste is out of the tube and it is already too late to change the channel.

To illustrate the point, it’s like saying that it’s OK for a child to get a fleeting glimpse of a man flashing himself in the park on account of the idea that if he only flashes for a 1/5 of second, it’s only 1/5 as damaging as a full second. To say that one can “change the channel” is like saying that the child can simply close his eyes when presented with the flasher. Fleeting images have power, which is why it is not allowed for commercials to have subliminal messages that are flashed for a fraction of a second on the screen.

It is dishonest for a station to argue that “fleeting indecency” is too hard to catch. Stations have the power to deal with “fleeting indecency” if they are held accountable to do it.

If the debate is over whether decency matters, which is what I’m convinced that it is, then a deeper “worldview surgery” is needed. Despite those intellectuals who would argue that kids only moved by biology or by what their peers are doing, kids are actually affected greatly for better or for worse by the environment that adults uphold around them. Kids benefit from an environment where a certain “moral arithmetic” is upheld.

One needs to be grounded in a certain moral simplicity before one can enter a realm of moral complexity and “creative violence”. Kids who mimic the profanity of adults are not wise, they are only clever, and are not able to comprehend the moral complexity of using profanity as an act of “creative violence”. If one has not arrived at a sense of moral complexity after one has been fully apprenticed in moral simplicity, one’s use of profanity is simply an expression of nihilism not creative violence.

Adults have a collective responsibility to uphold certain pockets of time and space where a certain “moral simplicity” upheld for the benefit of kids and for benefit of people’s moral development with a value for a bedrock of moral simplicity. All adults have this responsibility to uphold these pockets of time and space and all adults are in some way role models. Saying “I’m not a role model” is not an option. This is part of what it means that “it takes a village to raise a child”. It is not OK for adults to have unlimited license to “piss in the pool we swim in” -- to act like jerks in our society where kids may be present and then simply punt responsibility to the parents.

Yes, there need to be pockets of time and space for adults to have full license to be “creatively violent” and have permission to use profanity. But this space is not unlimited. It is also true that parents to have a great responsibility. However, requiring parents to monitor what their children watch and listen to in a day and age that doesn’t care about public decency is to require that parents go to extreme lengths to cloister their kids. No man, nor home, is an island and no home can vacuum seal out the indecency of the culture. To not care about “fleeting indecency” is to help advance what Gil Reevil, the author of Smut, calls an “unchangeable channel”. And the herculean effort required to try to shield one’s kids from the flood of indecency has its own consequences, leaving kids with less room to explore and play in the world.

To address those who would make the comparison of a child hearing profanity on the radio/TV vs. to a child walking in on Mommy and Daddy having sex, this is a disingenuous comparison. It is very different for a child to accidentally bump into the adult world than to have the adult world intrude where kids are because the adults don’t care to begin with. In the former scenario, a boundary is valued and in the latter scenario the boundary is not valued.

As for the First Amendment, the First Amendment clarified a pre-existing moral reality, it did not grant a new right with the authority of the pen. It acknowledged the right that a free people have to speak when they are entrusted with the responsibility to care for the common good. Those who want to argue that it’s their “First Amendment right” to unlimited expression of profanity are using the parchment of the First Amendment as a shield to protect their actions which have no interest in the common good.

It is a reasonable exercise of the common good -- which includes the common good of children -- that the public airwaves have a pocket of time and space from 0600 to 2200 hrs where the value for a certain degree of moral simplicity is required. It is reasonable exercise of the common good to require that outright profanity be prohibited during that time while allowing adult topics to be discussed in a responsible way. --

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Instinct Underdogs

In my exploration of the issue of gay marriage, I want to examine one of the salvos in the debate over gay marriage from those who oppose it: that to expand the definition from being one man one woman to being two people of any gender sets a precedent for further definition expanding later.

Those who defend gay marriage say, as KFI radio talk show host Bill Handel says, "Society draws a line!" For those who defend gay marriage, the concern that expanding the definition of marriage will set a precedent for further definition expanding later is "alarmist" aka absurd/paranoid/kooky. Here at this website with arguments in favor of gay marriage, the author posts this argument,

"Same-sex marriage would start us down a "slippery slope" towards legalized incest, bestial marriage, polygamy and all kinds of other horrible consequences."

And then rebuts it by saying this,

"A classic example of the reductio ad absurdum fallacy, it is calculated to create fear in the mind of anyone hearing the argument. It is, of course, absolutely without any merit based on experience. If the argument were true, wouldn't that have already happened in countries where forms of legalized gay marriage already exist? Wouldn't they have 'slid' towards legalized incest and bestial marriage? The reality is that a form of gay marriage has been legal in Scandinavian countries for over many years, and no such legalization has happened, nor has there been a clamor for it. It's a classic scare tactic - making the end scenario so scary and so horrible that the first step should never be taken. Such are the tactics of the fear and hatemongers.

If concern over the "slippery slope" were the real motive behind this argument, the advocate of this line of reasoning would be equally vocal about the fact that today, even as you read this, convicted murderers, child molesters, known pedophiles, drug pushers, pimps, black market arms dealers, etc., are quite free to marry, and are doing so. Where's the outrage? Of course there isn't any, and that lack of outrage betrays their real motives. This is an anti-gay issue and not a pro marriage issue."

As for this person's argument about child molesters, drug pushers and murderers, our law recognizes a distinction between A) the person who is no longer practicing crime and has paid his debt to society and B) the person who is still committing crime. A person with an established "criminal orientation" belongs in extended or even permanent custody. Perhaps there should be prohibitions against marrying while in jail, but that's something to explore for a different day.

You may believe that expanding the definition of marriage may very well set a precedent for future definition expanding, and that it's OK if it does. What I'm interested in is merely this question. Is it being kooky and unnecessarily paranoid to believe that it will? The paranoid man isn’t always wrong. There are consequences of a having a worldview that appeals to moral intuition and the “emerging consensus” as so many advocates of gay marriage do.

The “emergent consensus” is the collectivized expression of an idea that moral truth is located in our instincts. Atheist thinkers like Sam Harris call this the natural endowment of “moral intuition”. Even for those advocates of gay marriage who are not atheists, the critical force of the movement comes from a worldview that assigns moral weight to a phenomenon of human opinion emergence.

Moral intuition works as a moral “calculus of instinct”: a certain confluence of altruistic instinct, sexual instinct, survival instinct, etc… that rises to the surface at any one time in the life of a person as a “way that makes sense”. This “calculus of instinct" is a “bottom up” moral system that looks to nature as its ultimate author, as nature expresses itself rising up from the well of our instincts.

Those who look to “moral intuition” do not completely trust the instinct calculus of any one particular person -- as the street postmodernist says “Who’s to say?” What they do trust is that cross of section of “a way that makes sense” that is believed by a critical mass of people at any one snap shot of time. It is the emergent consensus expressed as a snap shot of collectivized moral intuition that is esteemed as “times” – the manifest instinct wisdom of the day. With this comes a certain narrative of progress: that the unfolding wisdom of nature is the process of hitherto repressed instincts coming out from under repression. As hidden instincts come out from under repression, humans are lead into the wisdom of their accidental creation.

In order to facilitate this unfolding of hitherto repressed instincts, instincts that repress instincts must be repressed. Instincts are thus divided into A) the instincts that are seen as being able to co-exist in the realm of other instincts B) those instincts that will result in a less maximized diversity of instinct experiences. Those who value the narrative of ever unfolding instinct experience see it as an act of spreading diversity to maximize instinct experience by suppressing the “bad instincts”.

Since there are certain thoughts, expressions and behaviors that are seen as being linked to the “bad instincts”, suppressing these expressions and behaviors with the force of law and taboo is seen as necessary to promote diversity. The desire to express oneself sexually in any manner is generally considered a “good instinct”. Believing in a transcendent moral order in regard to sexuality is considered to be a belief that emanates from bad and regressive, fear based instinct.

The “times” represent a particular increment of progress in the realm of instinct expression over “times previous”, and any opinion on instinct expression that is not considered to be up with the “times” is considered regressive. Social evolution is the advancement of “good” instinct experience and the receding of “bad” instinct experience. Emergent instincts are treated with special priority as they are expressed by new trends, new artists, and youth. By the force of taboo, and by the force of law when possible, these “instinct underdogs” are given “expression privileges” against the “dominant” system.

Values Paradigms

Even those who are “instinct followers” have a hierarchy of instincts that results in them suppressing certain instincts. A heavy dose of instinct suppression is characteristic of any moral system. That which separates the instincts we value and those we don't is our “values paradigm". Unless we are very conscious in the personal construction of our own values paradigms and meta-values paradigms, we will absorb the values paradigm of the culture around us as a certain cultural hypnosis, allowing certain instincts to be expressed and suppressing other instincts without fully knowing it. When the culture’s value paradigm changes we will change with it, and will not remember completely what it was like to have operated in a different paradigm.

There are those in 2008 who, like Bill Handel, are certain that society will always draw the line separating marriages of two people from more than two. Operating with a moral distinction between two person marriages and marriages among more than two people is values paradigm that makes sense to many people who appeal to the emergent consensus and “moral intuition” as a reason to make gay marriage legal. They are convinced that a particular values paradigm of 2008 is a self evident conclusion of moral intuition that will last the ages, and that it is alarmist to suggest that expanding the definition will set a precedent for future definition expanding.

The problem is that the worldview that makes gay marriage OK now is largely based on a “meta” values paradigm of instinct following and instinct progress. While many may hold that there is a line between two person marriage and more-than-two-person marriage as a particular values paradigm, they hold a meta values paradigm that allows for the constant tectonic shift of values paradigms. It is a meta-paradigm that has and will continue to facilitate values paradigm shifts along the vector of “progress” to bring more instinct expression into the fold of normalcy.

To say that societies in 2008 that current have legalized gay marriage do not also have legalized multi-person marriage is to simply say that there is not a critical mass of people ready to give way to a new instinct expression. When enough people are ready to normalize a greater palette of instinct experience with the force of law, broadening the definition of marriage will be the new emerging consensus.

I think that expanding the definition to include polygamy and polyandry and increased normalizing and expression of gay and bisexual behavior is ahead “ahead of what comes next”. From the perspective of those who hold to instincts as the key to moral wisdom, my opinion is a regressive opinion rising from the stinky swamp of bad, backward and bigoted instincts. But my opinion is drawn from the observing the “envelope pushing” of our sexual culture already fully underway in 2008 that is occurring as an expression of a worldview that holds that any sexual distinction that puts one expression in a hierarchy of meaning or value above another is fundamentally bigoted. This worldview has a narrative that society needs to evolve incrementally towards “superflat” sexual expression as the expungement of any significant moral distinction between one sexual behavior over another. It is from this goal of having superflat sexual expression that a society is measured according to its progress, with societies with more flattened sexual hierarchies being farther along.

Here is a link to Brad Hightower's 21st Century Reformation where I comment on Adam and Eve and the "sin before the sin"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The issue of gay marriage is newer ground for me to explore and codify ideas.

Here a couple of links to well reasoned arguments

Pro and Against

Monday, July 21, 2008

In the fray

I have inserted myself here into a debate about modesty in church on Facebook.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

An Examination of Gay Marriage

This represents my current thinking on the incredibly controversial topic of gay marriage.


Those who are in favor of gay marriage are intensely concerned about people operating out of knee-jerk hatred and bigotry toward homosexuals. There is the knee-jerk fear/hatred of gay people to be concerned about. There is also a subtler bigotry in believing that all people who have an opinion in favor of limiting marriage to man-woman are bigots. There is a concern that an argument in favor of limiting marriage will encourage bigotry for the sheer fact that it is an argument of the same conclusion as those with bigoted tendencies. I am convinced that the bigotry or lack thereof of an argument on this loaded topic of gay marriage needs to be evaluated more as a consequence of the substance than the conclusion. It is for this reason that both sides of the fence on this topic need to present arguments that are as thorough and honest as they can be.


There are many deaf people want to believe that they are "differently-abled" and not handicapped. This is a very human tendency, to want to make the best of things, to see things in the most positive light. This tendency, as understandable as it is, cannot be allowed to do injustice to the truth; there is something lacking in being deaf. Even as there is a richness to life one can experience despite ones deafness and maybe even somewhat because of one’s deafness, being deaf is at the end of the day a handicap.


There is an aspect of human experience that is only available across the experience of male and female. There is something experience of the otherness of the other sex that cannot be duplicated. Male to male and female to female will not do even if it is "butch to femme". At the end of the day it is a sexual handicap. As Dennis Prager has said, there is an element of lack, of loss of tragedy to a homosexual relationship, and parents who learn that their child is gay have a right to process a certain sadness.


Those who feel like a woman in a man's body's and vice versa have a disorder, that by definition is not the best expression of nature. Being gay is sometimes a result of having a full blown version of this disorder or it is a result of having a lesser version of a gender disorder. Gay men have a more a female orientation to their brains than straight men and lesbian women have a more masculine orientation of their brains than straight women.


Those who are gay/gender disordered have a balance of tendencies that is out of sinc with their bodies and the experiences that the body is best designed for. Penises are designed to fit into vaginas and it is a tragedy when they don't. A baby is best brought into the world from the womb of a woman who is married to a committed man. From the perspective of the best and most naturally ideal expression of sexuality, a gay union is a tragedy of nature and a tragedy of choices, even as a gay committed monogamous union can be fulfilling and be better than gay promiscuity, and may be the best choice that a gay person can make with his/her life.


There is an aspect of being heterosexual that is a mere gift of nature that endows one with the ability to be horny around the opposite sex. Being heterosexual does not make one a responsible husband or wife. A person needs to consummate his/her sexuality with good choices. It is this dimension of choice that gives sexuality a fluid aspect to it that can be affected by society and/traumatic circumstances.


Sexuality in men and women can be understood as an apportionment of lesser and dominant tendencies. Men have masculinity as a dominant tendency and femininity as a lesser tendency. Men bond with women as a way to live out a part of their humanity (what is described as an anime) vicariously through the women that they are attracted to. The reverse is true for women.


The full and healthy expression of one’s tendencies, dominant and lesser, is found in a committed monogamous covenanted relationship with the opposite sex. There is natural raw material for this, but the natural raw material for this is not enough; it must be consummated by choices. The marriage ceremony is a ceremony of ones choices, as are other ceremonies that indicate rites of passage.


Under particular stresses, traumas and/or cultural pressures, men and women can turn away from a wholesome expression of their dominant tendencies and even turn from the dominant tendencies themselves. There are gay people who have felt gay and/or gender disoriented from as early as they can remember. There are people who act out in homosexual ways as a result of trauma. I have met both.


Those who do not recognize any dimension of choice to one's sexuality are of the philosophical bent that there is no real "free will" to begin with, that we are conduits of much larger natural forces. This thinking is the basis for promiscuous and adulterous behavior by people who say "it happened" and not "I chose to act". This thinking undermines the integrity of any marriage, whether gay or hetero.


There is a value to the ideal, to recognizing a hierarchy that places one human expression above another. To honor the ideal is not merely to honor the natural gift of having hetero tendencies; it is to also honor a particular set of choices within the dimension of choice that is a component of sexuality. Honoring the ideal by giving a special significance to a male-female union is not by any means a complete bulwark against any particular person’s choices to the contrary. Nevertheless, it is an important component of a society’s expression of a value system toward the goal that men and women bond in covenanted monogamous relationships.


And yes, there are hetero unions that do not bear children, that must adopt or use science to assist in becoming pregnant. One could argue that these unions are no more or less ideal than a gay couple adopting. This line of thinking is making a false equality that is based on a failure to recognize any ideal. Hetero unions with obstacles in having and/or bearing children are closer to an ideal that is expressed both in biology and choice. Of course it is true that a particular gay couple may have more to offer in certain areas than a particular a straight couple. The ideal is based though on this generality: a man and woman experience a unique richness in each other's otherness and so too does a child benefit from this richness, regardless of how "naturally" the child came to be in the relationship. Honoring the ideal is something that needs to be done by paying a cost.


There are understandable benefits that two committed people of the same sex can gain by acquiring the legal priveleges that now included in the legal package of a man-woman "marriage". However, our society needs a place to be able to acknowledge that there is a hierarchy of value the places a man-woman union at the top. It is true that a loving gay couple will be better parents than an abusive/neglectful hetero couple and may be better than a lot of non-ideal family-raising environments. Nevertheless, adoption agencies should have the right to give preference to man-woman unions. Our society needs to be legally protected from those who would advance the charge of "discrimination" for those who would use the legal equality of a gay marriage to demand that a gay marriage be treated as %100 equal in every dimension. Protecting those who would honor the hierarchy of value from the charge of discrimination requires that a man-woman marriage be given some sort of legal distinction from a gay marriage, even if it is a very slight legal distinction.


The problem with suggesting this is that the gay movement sees itself as a civil rights movement that sees itself in the tradition of black civil rights, where the legality of gay marriage is merely the legal wing of a moral, cultural and philosophical agenda. For much of the current movement to legalize gay marriage, the goal is not merely a legal triumph. It is an attempt to advance a moral system that understands it as being bigoted not to regard gay marriage as being every inch as ideal as a hetero marriage, only different. In other words, the force of opinion that is striving to make gay marriage legally equal to hetero marriage is the same force that is striving to make it 100% morally equal. -- and therefore morally repugnant to believe that there is a hierarchy of value placing a hetero marriage above a homo marriage.


Dennis Prager has also discussed a larger "meta-civil rights" agenda at work to deconstruct the very idea of gender, to thoroughly divorce gender from biological sexuality (“meta-civil-rights” is my term). Not all, but many of those who are interested in gay marriage are not interested so much in "marriage" as they are interested in advancing all forms of poly-gender expression, and gay marriage is merely the cause that has incremental practical value for the moment. Later on, the "times" will change and a new envelope of progress will be pushed.


It is this force of the gay marriage movement's deeper moral agenda that will operate as a cultural force to push that margin of flexibility that exists in human sexuality to in the direction of increased homosexual and bisexual expression. That is why I think it is misleading to say that studies have shown that kids do not have a greater tendency to be gay when they are raised by gay parents. In this day and age our society is not yet dominated with gayness. Straight kids raised by a gay couple in 2008 will still have a society to cross-reference their sexuality with that is still dominated by hetero-sexuality (even if it is promiscuous). With enough culture force, it is possible for societies to be dominated with normative gay behavior and pederasty "above the surface", such as the ancient Greeks and Celts. It is also possible for societies to have a lot of normative gayness and pederasty "on the down low".

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Some Visual Aids

I was asked to create a Cartesian diagram of my three axis of a worldview that I described in my last post, so here it is.



As I explained in my last post, a worldview/belief system operates in three inter-related axis in three dimensions. The Y axis is the belief's relationship to what is ultimately true in the universe. The Z axis represents the manner in which a belief takes what is ultimately true and uses it to organize past present and future into a meta-narrative. The X axis is the ethical system, the one-human-to-another code of behavior that results from the Y and Z axis.

As I was thinking of more visuals, I thought of my examination of the philosophical archetypes of Male and Female that I have referred to my most recent post and in my “but it’s natural” post. I referred to the idea of the Female as that which represents mystery, liminality and fecundity; and the Male as that which represents truth, order and the attempt to reify truth and order. These ideas of Male and Female pop up in Western philosophy and feminist criticism. Male and Female are not limited in their expression exclusively to actual men and women respectively, but the philosophical archetypes are not totally unrelated to certain qualities/tendencies of men and women.

The Chinese philosophical archetypes of Male and Female are conceived of within the idea of Yin and Yang forces/realities, where Yang is the Male aggressive force and Yin is the Female attractive force. Like the “Western” Male/Female dichotomy, Yin and Yang are not limited to the exclusive province of actual women and men, respectively. Nevertheless there is some relationship of Yin and Yang to actual men and women, as a generalization of certain sex qualities/tendencies.

It occurred to me that the Western Male Female philosophical archetypes should have their own special symbol as does the Yin/Yang symbol. Here is the beautiful Yin and Yang beautiful symbol that everyone has seen:




And here is a symbol for the Western Male Female philosophical archetype that I came up with. It is, admittedly, not nearly as cool as the Asian one, but it gets the point across.

The white space and the circle shape is the mystery, liminality and fecundity of the Female. Of course the Red is the truth, order and reification of the Male. The Male still retains some of its circular shape since it originated in the Female. Both complete each other. The Male is advancing into the Female but never completely overcomes it.

(Hey, If you can come up with a better symbol for the Western Male/Female philosophical archetypes, go for it.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Popular Science, Evolutionary Nihilism and Gender Feminist PC


The Problem of Popular Science


When one is presenting a series of facts about humans, especially about human sexuality and gender, one cannot avoid also presenting a system of beliefs and values about the topic. Of all scientific topics, the topic of human sexuality is one where having a bias toward a particular value system is impossible to avoid. It does not mean that there are not facts. The bias lies in which facts are presented, which aren't and how the whole presentation of the facts is "editorialized" into conclusions.

In the same way, a newspaper cannot fully hide its editorial opinion; it is evident in the news it chooses to cover and not cover and the angle and perspective with which it covers the news. As with any "news" facts, scientific facts are pixels on the screen that together end up being used to construct someones over-arching view of life. This is especially true when the facts are "editorialized" into conclusions. Popular science is the editorializing of scientific facts into conclusions and speculations for mass consumption. Popular science is popular precisely because it invites lay people to place themselves in the realm of science by bringing science alongside their lives and imaginations.

A popular science book invariably paints pictures of values and beliefs from the facts presented. The more editorialized the popular science is the more this is true. A newspapers/magazine article about a popular science conclusion from a book all the more clearly displays the values and beliefs about that popular science conclusion. This is a consequence of condensing the facts and conclusions from a book into the space of an article, wherein magazines and newspapers must primarily highlight the conclusion while touching on the facts. And when a magazine, like The Week, is summarizing another magazine/newspaper in a tabloid style, the raw display of the values and beliefs of the popular science in question is even more enhanced and can even be distorted.

In the realm of popular science, especially where popular science conclusions about human sexuality and gender are summarized in book conclusions and in newspaper and magazine articles, one can no more avoid presenting a value system when presenting scientific facts about human sexuality than Charles Barkley can avoid being a role model. Many scientists who are quoted in the press and who write books for mass consumption like to present themselves as merely offering the "facts". The are not. They are "fact artists" who allow their beliefs and values to shape how they view the facts and how they present the facts. When they begin to draw conclusions about the facts, they are "opinion artists". Being a "fact artist"/"opinion artist" is not a bad thing, since every writer is one. The problem lies in not admitting that one is neck deep in presenting a value system.

The problem of Atheism

With that in mind, allow me to discuss atheism. The best summation of atheism was stated by Simon Winchester, a popular author, whom I heard in passing while watching TV and that I can't now find in the Internet so I must paraphrase it (ARRRG!). He said something to the effect that life though ultimately meaningless, is a richly rewarding journey. Atheism is, by definition, a belief in a certain ultimate nihilism about the ultimate purpose of life. Atheists like to believe that they can nevertheless construct a sense of meaning for themselves. The problem is that the ultimate nihilism that an atheist has sits atop his optimistic atheist's belief like stagnant rain water sits on a tin roof – it finds a way to leak in.

Here is how it leaks in. Beliefs exist in three dimensions, along three axis. The vertical axis of a belief system is that aspect of a belief which is rooted in what is ultimately true and real about the universe. The Longitudinal axis of a belief is the teleological aspect that interprets reality through time. The Horizontal axis of a belief is that axis which interprets the vertical and longitudinal axis for the purpose of operating ethically from one to another in the here-and-now.

The ultimate nihilism of atheism on the vertical axis finds its way into the life of an atheist and into the lives of those he influences by way of the longitudinal axis. Specifically, an atheist's nihilism about life's ultimate purpose becomes an atheist's nihilism about our origins and about where we have developed from those origins. This atheistic nihilism is presented in its clearest and rawest form in the popular science narratives regarding human evolution. The evolutionary nihilism that derives from the ultimate nihilism of atheism is the belief that humans are ultimately the product of accidental and amoral raw natural forces colliding into each other – the need to reproduce being one of them – with consequences beautiful, fun and tragic and ridiculous.

It is in a narrative of history that the ultimate nihilism of atheism is editorialized into this conclusion: we are the beautiful and tragic confluence of colliding natural forces far beyond our control – forces that were there before us and will continue after we're gone and over which we have little or no mastery. For an evolutionary nihilist, there is no facet of human reality that cannot be fully explained by these raw confluence of impersonal, amoral natural forces.

Evolutionary nihilism and PC/Gender Feminism

From this evolutionary nihilism, an ethical system arises as a horizontal axis: we humans are bound to contain and the harness the natural forces that operate through us and within us for our maximum peace and harmony. The Id, especially the intuitive, artistic and sexual id that manifests itself individually and collectively is the seat of maximum wisdom and harmony, and this Id needs to be experienced with minimum inhibition.

The greatest threat to this containment, harmony and equilibrium is male aggression, especially male aggression in the realm of moral violence. From the perspective of a nihilist evolution, there is no place to contain a transcendent idea of what is "right" that justifies any such violence/aggression/assertion. A man who thinks that he is right is merely projecting his raw sexual id and inflating it into a means to subjugate others.

It is the Gender Feminists who wish to advance women by deconstructing manhood. For PC/Gender Feminist belief, the history of evolution contains an ethical lesson that humans must acquiesce to the Female – the wisdom of the Id and to the fluidity of what is "correct" where in the collective id continually recalibrates the calculus of ethical harmony ("times change"). The collective id is the wisdom of evolution in motion through the generations.

The Proctologists view of reality

Dennis Prager describes the "proctologists view of reality" when someone is only seeing the worst aspect of something to the exclusion of seeing the whole. It is OK to take a protologists view when A) one is fully conscious that one is excluding other aspects of reality and B) when one has a particular, limited need to exclude those aspects of reality from the analysis and C) when one up front with one's readers about this. For one to take a proctologists view and to fail at A), B) and C) is to present a jaundiced and nihilistic view.

The June 27, 2008 Issue of The Week

With all of that said, there are two editorialized presentations of popular science that came out in this weeks The Week magazine – two tabloid caffeinated powershots of evolutionary nihilism – wherein the worldview begs to be exposed and deconstructed. The proctologists view of reality is also apparent if you have the worldview to see it.

First there was the article on page 22 entitled "How to make fools of men" about Belgian researchers who discussed men's responses to seeing women in bikinis. The Week magazine's article was based on this livescience.com article

Here is The Week magazines's article:

"Just seeing a woman in a bikini so discombobulates men that their judgement is impaired, leading them to make foolish decisions…"

"so when men are sexually stimulated but not rewarded with sex, researchers said, men crave an alternative reward. The findings explain why so many advertisers use photos of sexy women…".

Of course there is a serious kernel of truth to this article. It is a bit comical that it takes a "scientific findings" to verify this. The problem is that the article does not make a distinction between what men have the potential for and what many men actually do. Men have the potential to see that they are being manipulated and operate with a certain mastery over what they are being presented with. It is this consciousness potential that makes a male human a man. This article though, is imbued with an evolutionary nihilism that makes no distinction between that aspect of a man that is animal and that aspect of a man that transcends what is animal.

So the article is true about men when looked at from a primal facet of men's nature. And since many men don't transcend their base nature, many men are predictably discombobulated by bikinis.

The evolutionary nihilism lies in not acknowledging the other facets of a man's nature. This animalistic determinism leads to a second moral problem with the article. The article is very matter of fact in stating that advertisers use sexy women to draw men to seek an alternative reward by buy their products. Many sexy women, of course, use their sex appeal to get men to find an "alternative reward" by doing something the women want. From the perspective of an evolutionary nihilist, harnessing this primal aspect of men's nature is allowed in a moral paradigm that seeks the containment of natural forces. Men get a certain pleasure from being "discombobulated", women get a certain pleasure from the power to discombobulate and advertisers get to sell their products. From an evolutionary nihilist perspective, all parties involved are getting their basic desires so the cost benefit outweighs any concerns about men's judgement being discombobulated.

It is only in believing that male human animals are summoned to being men – in a way that transcends being an animal – that the willful effort to manipulate their base nature to "discombobulate" them is a moral problem.

Then there is the "Author of the week" article on page 25 about Faye Flam's book The Score which was reviewed here in Salon.com

"… Men, Flam says, "are more likely to get completely frozen out of reproduction" so they "chase after sex" more frantically and feel "more evolutionary pressure than women to stand out from the crowd." That explains why women exhibit "a little more common sense" when it comes to drinking, driving, weapons use, and other high risk activities."

The article then discusses how Flam believes that hunting was less important in ancient tribal societies than previously thought and how women weren't dependent on men for survival and how the pickiness of women has a long history. From there the article discusses how Flam believes that "men shouldn't curse their fate" because animal species capable of choosing their sex choose to be male to avoid parenting responsibilities since "everyone wants to do less work...it's a universal laziness".

Again, from an evolutionary nihilists perspective on male nature, the only purpose and drive for being male is to reproduce. In this article and in Flam's world, men are not recognized as having identity needs that transcend these base desires in any way. Male aggression is reduced to the expression of mere sexual anxiety, which makes men prone to bad judgement like imbalanced tires are prone to tread problems. Flam does not recognize men has having any meaningful “work” other than to copulate and live out their sexual anxieties.

The women, lacking this anxiety are endowed with the greater ballast of common sense. It is the women and their child bearing who are given “more work”. With the consolation that everyone is inclined to laziness, Flam believes that women are, in fact, less lazy on account of their being busier with naturally endowed duties. She stands on her analysis to counsel modern men, who might otherwise feel slighted by her analysis that they should be simply glad that they have less work.

Of course, If anyone were to take this seriously it would also grant “guilt trip” rights to women, “See you men have it easy! You should be grateful that we, the more even keeled sex endowed with more natural responsibilities are here to pick up the slack.” Giving herself the privilege to apply her science into the world of modern gender, Flam confers on women the status of being more productive creatures who have been compelled by nature out of their laziness into what is a more noble existence than men.

All this is fine if you are an evolutionary nihilist who doesn't believe that that is any essence or substance to being human than being merely human animals. If men have a primal laziness, is that the sum total of manhood vis-à-vis women? Aggression for the sake of a moral, intellectual and artistic reality beyond sexual anxiety does not factor into this analysis because the evolutionary nihilism of this article does not recognize that these realities exist. If these realities are allowed to exist, men's aggression -- taken as a whole reality and not merely as a primal reality-- may actually make them less lazy in the pursuit of these realities. Even the primal laziness of men itself may actually make them ultimately more productive in certain ways, seeking to invent easier ways to do things.

There is nothing in Flam that even hints at anything that is uniquely noble in men. This fits hand in glove with a “gender feminism” that, for a political agenda, is disinclined to acknowledge any gender differences unless the discussion frames women as being better. As I have discussed in other writings, my drawing attention to this lack is not for the purpose of giving men big heads. Rather it is for the purpose of confronting women to deal with men as they actually are. As I’ve said before, male bashing is relationship bashing, even when the male bashing is subtle and backhanded.

Flam owes it to modern men and women to be more aware of the feminism that bridges the gap between her narrow scientific analysis of the past and her pontificating on the now. Until then, the evolutionary nihilism of popular science that has been condensed into these glance-able articles helps to reinforce a proctologists view of male nature that serves the interests of Gender Feminists and their PC fellow travelers.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More aphorisms

Here are some more of my aphorisms. Some of them are "thesis embryos" that I want to develop later.


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Democracy is a civic matrix for dialogue

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Intellectual freedom requires the permission to be certain and uncertain simultaneously


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If believing an idea will make you a better person, then for you it is true.

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If you lend a friend money, treat it as though you were giving him a gift. If he pays you back, be pleasantly surprised.

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The one who is alone in his beliefs is not always wrong.

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An idea must be allowed to be before it can be constructively deconstructed.

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Any philosopher who claims to have the key to how ultimate knowledge is either known or not known is a high priest and prophet of his own religion.

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It is possible to use Scripture to spin godless, empty god-talk

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It is often better to be alone imagining the company of good people than to be in the actual company of bad people


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Being precise is a large part of being sensitive


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“Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words only when necessary” – St. Francis

“Speak the Scripture at all times, quote it verbatim only when necessary” – Greg Wertime

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If you’re presenting an idea at a meeting, you must do at least one of these three things to avoid criticism from me: 1) express gratitude for what is already being done 2) present an idea that has been thought through 3) be willing to do it yourself

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Loving others and doing what is right: these are things that are both simple in essence yet complex in execution.

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There is a pleasurable side to seriousness and a serious side to pleasure

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The common idea of efficiency is a method that results in a task being completed more quickly. My idea of efficiency is a method that allows me to perform a task in a way that is peaceful and friendly to my inner life.

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There are leaders and there are blusterers. The problem is that those who are sheep can’t tell the difference.

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Overly optimistic people are as much an enemy of true joy as overly pessimistic people

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People who believe that there is no purpose, ultimately, to life, will nevertheless construct a sense of purpose out of the purposelessness and hold to that sense of purpose fiercely.

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People whose strength of will is not matched by a strength of competence are a burden to work with

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Social boundaries contain an element of folly and an element of wisdom

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It is more intellectually difficult to defend the wisdom of a social boundary than it is to intellectually attack the folly of a social boundary.

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Those who are twisted enough to claim that the Holocaust did not happen are twisted enough to be glad deep down that it did happen

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He who says, “What can you do?” will probably do nothing and encourage others to do the same.

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He who says, “Who’s to say?” as a rhetorical question is attempting to pass off his ignorance and lack of curiosity as enlightenment

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Though I may use the ideas of quantum physics and relativity to philosophically deconstruct the “is-ness” of matter, I must still attend to the bruise on my shin when I bang it on the coffee table.

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Much knowledge is gathered like wheat for wheat silos. It is the skill of a great teacher to make a biscuit out of it to be digested and enjoyed.

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It is a teacher’s duty to try to make the material being taught as interesting and as relevant as possible. It is the students’ duty to persevere during the times when making the material stimulating is not possible.

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Sexual expression is barbaric when lacking warmth, thought, artfulness and restraint.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Love your neighbor with all your heart soul mind and strength

In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus teaches us,

(NIV) "37 … 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

This has sometimes been called the "Shamah".

From time to time, I like to discuss religion and other related topics with a hard-core atheist beatnik named Michael who likes to prowl Old Town Pasadena. One day we were discussing the Shamah, and Michael said that he thought that the verse concerning loving one's neighbor as oneself allowed for a narcissistic interpretation. He asked about the child molester who interprets the verse as a license to pleasure a child as he pleasures himself.

Michael's critique is ridiculous, but it raises interesting questions about the verse that I want to explore. The passage is based on the premise that we all, on some level, pursue our own self-interest with all of our heart soul mind and strength, and we all know it. Since the passage begins with the command to love God, I want to examine the command to love God from the perspective of our self-interest, which will bring light to what the passage means when it commands us to love ones neighbor as oneself. As I will attempt to explain, there are many facets of what it means to operate with the force of “all our heart, soul, mind and strength”.

We are to operate in an enlightened self-interest with respect to God, pursing God with all of heart, soul, mind and strength. It is casting our full self-interest onto God, giving him final authority, that we succeed in loving God and placing faith in him. We naturally pursue our own self-interest as we perceive it with a forceful investment of heart, soul, mind, cunning and strength. It takes an exceedingly extra application of our resources to consciously redirect those onto God in a relationship with Him, and it is this conscious redirection of our self-interest away from our attempts at Godless self-management that will take all of our heart soul mind and strength. It is when we succeed in connecting to God that we will actually operate in what is truly our self interest in the long run – thereby advancing our enlightened self-interest.

Now, in examining “Love your neighbor as yourself”. There is an aspect of this that is patently obvious – we all pursue our self interest with great force, whether we are doing it in a Godly way or not. The verse is intended to help us call attention to what we all know that we do and is calling us to invest the exceedingly greater investment of our resources to pursue the self-interest of others with the same degree of force that we apply to the advancement of our own self-interest. It is intended to jar us out of our self-evident selfishness.

Now if you only read the second verse and did not place it hierarchically under the first and did properly contextualize it with the rest of Scripture, you could twist it into pursing the ungodly self-interest of others with the same force as you pursue it for yourself. If you were really perverted, you could twist it even further into conflating pleasure with self-interest and therefore should please others as you do yourself. And if you were really, really perverted, you could twist it even further into the idea that you were being called to give other’s pleasure in the same manner that you give yourself pleasure – and on your terms. Needless to say, you would need to twist the verse quite a bit to use it to justify child molestation.

So lets untwist the verse to what it really means, placing it properly in hierarchy under the first – it means to pursue the Godly self-interest of others with the same force that you pursue your own Godly self-interest, employing all of your heart, soul, mind and strength in the endeavor. Now there is another pitfall in understanding the Shamah – far more subtle that the molester ---- one that Christians are more prone to fall into. It is the idea that the particular thread of God’s ministry to oneself is necessarily the exact same thread of ministry that God has intended for another person.

With this fallacy, one interprets the second half of the Shamah that we are to pursue the Godly self-interest of others employing the same ministry strategies, ideas, vocabulary, timing that were successful in our own discipleship. In fact, there is a great gap that we must cross to get from advancing our own Godly self-interest to advancing the Godly self-interest of another person with the same force and effectiveness. We must come out from the poverty in our understanding of another person, understanding that particular person's unique background, experiences and needs – and seeking to unravel the mystery of what God’s doing in that person – and in the culture/cultures that they belong to. It is overcoming this poverty of understanding that the Shamah places an often overlooked claim on our resources --- we are to love our neighbor with all of our heart soul mind and strength. Specifically, we are to employ the full force of our resources to understand and participate in God’s unique thread of ministry to that person and to the environment that person is operating in.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

But it's natural

This past week, I’ve been composing another response to an objection to my call to modesty that I make in A Crisis of Modesty in the Evangelical Church , which is organized around a long series of objections that have come from fellow Christians. Soon, I am going to post an updated version of a Crisis of Modesty in the Evangelical Church with this response added along with a couple of other things added.

“But sexual desire is natural”

The battle for “natural” is a thread that runs through this whole discussion on modesty.

For someone to state that a person’s behavior is “natural” is for that person to offer their moral philosophy without admitting it. In the realm of human behavior, “natural” is a word that people use to assign an idea of good to something but they don’t want to admit their complicity in making a statement of faith or value. Instead, one calls it “natural” in order to give the idea that something else outside of his/her own value judgment, has imbued it with goodness, inevitability and necessary for instantiation. If something is “natural” it is therefore immoral and/or impossible not to have, and not having it violates our innate human design, producing unhappiness and conflict.

Depending on ones metaphysical understanding, “natural” can mean a vast array of things. Depending on how one looks at “natural”, even technology can be natural outworking of humanity. If one is saying, “Sexual desire is natural” as an objection to this criticism of public sexual tease and titillation, the idea of “natural” being defended is that lust is good or at least thoroughly inevitable human reality. Here, A) the desire on the part of men to look is natural and B) the desire of women to show is “natural” and that any outworking of A) and B) in fashion trends is therefore a natural as a good and/or inevitable and unstoppable thing.

As I mentioned earlier in this pamphlet, street postmodernists do not believe that we have an eternal self that is accountable to God’s claims on our sexuality. Rather, they have a Freudian idea that our authentic self is the Id that needs to come out from under the attempts to suppress and repress it. This Freudian idea operates in what can be described as a street postmodernist “reduction sauce” that has reduced many 20th century philosophies – ranging from Freud to Positivism to Deconstruction to Feminism to Marxism and Critical Theory— to a fundamental worship of nature, as nature expresses itself through the id, individually and collectively.

Street postmodernists do not worship the Id/Nature as a traditional deity that provides a path to eternal life of the soul. However, they do elevate the Id/Nature as the path to maximum wisdom and happiness in this short life that we have on earth. The metaphysical idea behind this is that Nature was “impregnated” with the fortuitous accident of circumstances to produce human experience as a reality that operates thoroughly outside of any higher Divine law. Nature—as nature is expressed through the unfolding of human desire via our DNA— is the path to the wisdom of our accidental creation. The role of humans is to sublimate the inclinations of our ego and super-ego that would get in the way of the id’s wisdom.

In all that is mysterious, unknowable and fecund, the Female takes priority as the seat of ultimate wisdom, as the unchanging fulcrum on which all weak and transitory “phallic” ideas of truth perish. This fulcrum is what the deconstructionist philosopher Derrida referred to as the “Hymen” as a metaphor borrowed from female genitalia. This is part of the idea that the Female, as the pulsating motion of mystery and nature, operates beyond the realm of any higher law.

For street postmodernists, the Female is the source of wisdom, and the Id of actual females is understood as having special “priestess” power to channel wisdom of the Id. Maleness, as it is defined philosophically as the quest for truth and the reification of law, is seen as obtrusive to the wisdom of the Female and must be suppressed as a force in the collective consciousness to make way for the Id. Actual men must give up the Male find redemption as the dutiful servant of the Female. Men can organize their aggression not around the Male but around the worship of the Female via a machismo, a male aggression that is relegated to performance and spectacle and is denuded of moral authority.

As a topless pantheistic tribe has a more communal and less private experience of female sexuality to complement its theology of Nature/goddesses, so too does a street postmodernist society have a public, communal experience of female sexuality that compliments the street postmodernist metaphysical understanding of the Female. In street postmodernist society, the awe of the Female must over-ride the Male, so sexuality of females is harnessed subjugate and envelope the Maleness of men in a gauzy haze of disposable sexual thrill and pseudo-validation.

Complementing the visual subjugation of men, Street postmodernism is compelled to silence any assertion of the Male by saying “who’s to say” which means “who are you the lone individual to say?” Though it may seem counterintuitive, this is fruit from the same intellectual tree as women who declare “I’m always right!” as the basis of their relationships with men. Both assertions are appeals to the wisdom of the Id. It is these ideas of the Male as being anything but a source of gentle dominion that have characterized Feminism and have characterized the Politically Correct Street postmodernism that has applied feminism in the realm of social taboos and relationships.

In an effort to not be legalistic, which can be defined as a wooden and inept attempt to apply the Male, many Christians have syncretized Christianity with street postmodernism’s elevation of the Female. The problem with this approach to confronting legalism is that it Christians are actually syncretizing a form of Id-worshipping pantheism to their Christianity. It is this street postmodernist Id-worshipping pantheism that makes claims on what is “natural” that are in direct contradiction to what Scripture defines as natural.

It is “New Testament 101” to say that Paul discusses our old man and our new man, the former being our self that is in bondage to sin and the latter being are true authentic self in Christ (… it is not me but sin within me…). Encapsulated in this passage is Scriptures organization of “natural” into what is “archnatural”/unfallen and what is sinful/fallen.
For a Christian to employ a Street postmodernist idea of “natural” is to flatten the hierarchy of old man and new man, lowering the status of what Scripture says is archnatural and raising the status of what Scripture says is sin.

When Jesus says in John that we are to “worship in Spirit and in Truth” Jesus is recognizing that what we consider to be deeply and fundamentally true will be what we worship. Jesus’ call to “worship and Spirit and in Truth” is a claim that Jesus makes on our efforts to understand what is true, particularly in those realms of understanding that intersect with our feelings. To fulfill Jesus claim on our hearts and minds, we must take all of our feelings captive to see how we are justifying them, and examine those justifications carefully in the light of Scripture.

Dealing with the anatomy of Godly and ungodly sexual desire would take a much longer essay. Suffice to say that there is a form of sexual desire that is consistent with God’s claim on our hearts. It is the nature of the cut-to the core intensity of sexual desire as God has designed it that it is idolatrous if it is not submitted to God. No fleeting feeling of horniness is to escape our scrutiny because every feeling carries a justification with it, and with every justification comes a larger system of belief that the justification appeals to. Every feeling is connected to a larger thought system as mushrooms on the ground are connected to the rhizome underneath.

It is a pastor’s role to judiciously and carefully employ the Male, which in the context of Scripture is the truth of Scripture, as a shepherd uses the staff to guide sheep. It is street postmodernism that seeks to employ the idea of “natural” as it defines “natural” within its metaphysic to elevate the Female and emasculate the Male from the pastor. In regard to modesty, many Christians have allowed themselves to employ street postmodernist ideas to confront modesty legalism. The consequence of Christians defending women from modesty legalism in this manner is that they have also defended street postmodernism. In doing so, many Christians have defended the culture of disposable sexual experience and have introduced a doctrinal gangrene into their Christianity.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Porn Moralists

A porn sight found The Naked Smoke post and tried to mock it with a post-rational porn collage with my name thrown in. If you're the site you know who you are. Hi, it's me Greg.

In my post on Morality and Ethics, I defined a moral system as a belief system of values that flows from a particular metaphysical understanding. With that in mind, for the porn nihilists who want to label me a Christian moralist, it is important to remember that they too are trying to advance a moral system.

The porn nihilist says it's no big deal" to porn the way a drug addict says that his drug is "no big deal". Porn, like drugs to the junkie, is a very big deal and those who traffic in it need their porn fixes. They not only need it, they believe that the craving for it is "natural/primal", defending it as part of their innate design. Porn nihilists will use the language of "liberation" to defend their access to porn, thereby claiming porn as a right of design and a moral freedom.

If you notice what I wrote regarding Larry Flint, I am critical of any defense of porn that is not self-limiting to boundaries where it is out of public right of way. Being criticized for this position by porn nihilists is an indication that they want it to be given public right of way. To advance their metaphysic and the value system that flows out of it, porn nihilists want the right to harness the visual power sex to operate as a sort of "porn evangelism".

So what, exacly, are they evangelizing? As nihilists, they believe that there is no higher meaning to life than to experience "hedons" as they are defined as valueless units of pleasure. From this point of metaphysical understanding, they flatten all metaphysical and moral questions into a "superflat" realm (the term superflat was coined by Japanese philosopher Murakami to describe the flattening of high and low art hierarchies). Pop-culture is the theater of superflat moral, metaphysical spiritual reality, and porn is just one corner of it. In this realm, joy is not possible, since joy by definition is the union of pleasure and meaning. The only pleasure possible is what the French postmodernist Jean Baudrillard described as a nihilistic state of delirium.

The porn nihilist lives in a Beaudrillardian delirium of sex hedons, walking backward into the physical, emotional and spiritual costs of disposable sex, and only reckoning with those costs when forced to by tragic circumstance. Seeking maximum sex hedons is the porn nihilists' only purpose that is left standing after all other ideas of meaning have been rejected and deconstructed.

Enforcing their nihilistic metaphysic, the porn nihilist feeds his latent need for meaning and purpose by finding meaning in the forceful rejection of any claim to higher purpose, something I discussed in my very first post, My lust makes the world go 'round. As the latent need for meeting operates in him like a void, creating the spiritual suction that bonds his murky sense of honor to intellectually defending disposable pleasure. To suggest that there is a moral, intellectual, relational and/or spiritual poverty in this is to threaten the porn nihilist's purposeful purposelessness. It also threatens his jollies.

As I have discussed in other posts, sexual jollies and our need for meaning are intimately connected. That which pleases is us sexually is that which we find our validation in, since the pleasure is the pleasure of being validated, or in the case of porn and other disposable sexual encounters, being psuedo-validated. For this reason, we will bond our selves to the values that are held by those to whom we are sexually attracted, whoever they may be.

I would welcome a porn nihilist to engage in debate. But many a porn nihilists may not bother with words to defend his actions, being as he is a denizen of the super-flat post-rational realm, he'll often rely on post-rational slogans and images.