Saturday, July 29, 2006
Do you support men taking enough responsibility to equally empower women to pursue equally fulfilling lives outside of child rearing? This power issue lies at the heart of the feminism to which I ascribe.
It depends. Christians are called to give ten percent of their earnings--a tithe--to their church as well as charities which are either explicitly Christian or espouse the values taught by Christ. At least for Catholics, some of the money could go to a group of nuns; and what are nuns but women pursuing "fulfilling lives outside of child rearing"? I think this isn't what you had in mind, but it does show evidence that even the most patriarchal of Christian men are not opposed to women doing something besides raising children.
However, a Christian man should not work to allow a woman to leave the home except in special circumstances. The role of a mother or a father is to raise good children. This cannot easily be done if both parents spend forty plus hours a week outside of the home. The woman does not have to stay home--the man is also capable--but if it is in anyway possible to avoid a situation in which both parents will be absent from the home for hours at a time, we--Christians--are called to make this a reality, even if it requires sacrifice, which it most assuredly will.
Sure enough,the Church is exactly the type of commune/community/village which provides an alternative model to the nuclear family.
Which is perhaps why I love her so.
While your mother may have been fulfilled with her child raising role and whatever other activities she pursued, i believe it is acknowledged empirically that this was not the general case and that race and class issues were also contingent factors.
I agree, but only because I see the world as fallen. Most human beings are unfulfilled, and without Christ one can do nothing. A fallen soul will have little luck finding fulfillment either in the home or in the corporate world. This is a bit unpleasant. Direct all complaints to God.
Women are not so much "being told" they can't find happiness being a mother as much as they are discovering the power issues on their own and rising up. All big questions witha great deal of depth, don't you think?
I disagree. Young women are told that being only a housewife is less worthy than working in the 9-5 world. As feminism is supposed to be about choice, I find this abhorrent. I have no qualms with a woman who wishes to forgo raising a family so that she can have a career; one of my friends is doing this exact thing. I do not know whether or not this decision is right for her; she is a very sharp bio-chemist, and may indeed find her research more fulfilling than a life with a husband and a horde of childen. But she should not be told that one is automatically better than the other. If we wish women to be free to make a choice, we cannot tell them which choice they must make.
It may seem I have contradicted myself, but I haven't. If a woman wants a career she can do so. This country remains somewhat free. But if she chooses to have a family, either her career will suffer or she will be remiss in the raising of her children. The simple application of the principle of scarcity has fascinating ramifications.
As for "sanctioning the capitalist status quo", it is hardly a socialist protest to stay home and not work, socialists want women to share equally in all phases of building a just society, in work, the cultural sphere ,the political etc. so men have to concede a little space.
I find that by entering the work force, women are making the concessions. My mother has had a tremendous impact on my life; were she to have been a career woman, her power would have diminished substantially--all so she could fight the patriarchy by answering phone calls or creating power point presentations.
Few of us have a significant impact in the corporate world, as we are, most of us, interchangeable cogs in the wheels of the capitalistic machine. It makes precious little sense to give up the power to form one's children so as to become a pretty cog.
You take exception to the women who are "compelled" to work, who are "victims" of social pressure.Big Bogeyman I think, invented by traditionalists who like their patriarchy just as it is.
I find it interesting that you are so apathetic toward the manipulation of women by the capitalistic system. Wouldn't it be desirous to have fewer of us dwelling in cubes? Wouldn't staying home "stick it to the man"? From an economic perspective, feminism does not seem to fit with your larger philosophy as it is aiding the system which you so rightfully loathe. Am I wrong?
I believe Little Houses is also a myth, the reality being dysfunction and repression.
Yet Little Houses did exist. It wasn't utopic, but it was good enough that one did not often hear of women buring their little houses down, or drowning their babies in the bathtub. Having a healthy hatred of manual labor, I would not have liked to live in a Little House; nor would I have thrived in such an environment. But I don't know that this was dysfunctional and repressive. The government seemed to leave people well enough alone; women were taken care of by men, who ran the house as they saw fit--always under the observant eye of his better half. Since women will always be weaker than men, they will always be prone to being repressed thereby. It seems to me, romantic that I am, that the Little House era had some things right. Men protected the women, and having not been liberated by bizarre feminist theory, the women were generally grateful. It beat having to fight off bears on one's own.
I find it more than a little ironic that Christians disavow utopianism. If Love Your Enemy and Do Unto Others are not utopian sentiments I'll quit fishing forever.
Christians believe that man is fallen. We can, by the grace of God, hope to live a perfect life, but we always fail. The only utopia is the New Jersualem. Still, we work for the Kingdom on Earth. Faith, hope, and charity are strange things, are they not? And please don't quit fishing. Something would then be wrong with the universe.
In the meantime, I need to correct for a rather sweeping generalization I made about how the left isn't harboring racists of our own. I should have known better than to be so simple about it; god knows I’ve seen enough liberals making racist and sexist and homophobic jokes that one can’t just dismiss it out of hand. Nonetheless, I think my basic point stands. If you are an honest-to-god hateful racist who uses politics as a way to beat up on other people for being different, you know what political party is yours—the Republicans. If you’re firmly committed to eradicating prejudice, you’re going to be pulling the lever for the Democrats. Conservative criticisms of racism and sexism are disingenous 99.9% of the time—if you find a right winger complaining about racism or sexism, generally speaking you don’t have to dig far to find that they have ulterior motives, generally to shut up their opponents. Echidne wrote the classic post on this subject when she pointed out that Ann Althouse seemed to think that feminists only exist to police the ranks of the left for sexist jokes, even though Althouse is perfectly happy to support right wingers who openly advocate for oppressing women and stripping us of our rights.
Being an irrascable chap with a penchant for diving headlong into debates, I posted a comment following her post. Being an open-minded feminist, she refused to allow my comment to be posted. Lest the reader think I resorted to cheap ad hominen attacks, I will provide the comment, which was too incendiary--or perhaps simply too rational--for the Pandagon crowd.
You fail to define racism, and your excellent observation that you have made a "rather sweeping generalization" does not prevent you from making another, just as egregious: "Conservative criticisms of racism and sexism are disingenous 99.9% of the time—if you find a right winger complaining about racism or sexism, generally speaking you don’t have to dig far to find that they have ulterior motives, generally to shut up their opponents."
I'm certain you can find evidence of a sophomoric jab from an intellectual dwarf of the token right, but this does not prove the validity of your generalization. I am not certain that proof exists, but a few points on the matter would be greatly appreciated.
Also, the democratic party supports affirmative action. In my mind, this policy is racist. If blacks and whites are truly equal, as I believe, neither side should receive an artificial boost so as to help them compete. Demanding that blacks meet a lower standard than whites do is condescending and demeaning. If your readers allowed you to make gratuitous grammatical mistakes and consistently masquerade fallacies as facts because you were a woman, you would be quick, I think, to point out that they were sexist, and rightfully so. It is my contention that the support of affirmative action is likewise racist, leaving your point about the nobility of democrats in regards to race relations, rather a debatable one.
Is it any wonder people have a hard time taking feminists seriously? Though she insists on being treated as equal to men, she cannot answer a simple and straightforward question; nor does she see fit to allow her like-minded minions to rise to the occasion. Surely they could combine their massive brain power to formulate a semi-coherent response.
(As an aside, I have no qualms with treating men and women as equals; they are; however, I believe they are different, and as such, reverence should be paid to the weaker, fairer sex. )
Instead, Amanda prefers that I remain silent. Beware of those who refuse to answer questions about their idealogy. Stuck in a mind rut, many feminists, like our paragon of brilliance, prefer to ignore any possible evidence that they could, in fact, be wrong.
Feminists make me laugh.
Friday, July 28, 2006
I've recently concluded that voting is futile, which leaves me in a precarious situation. On the surface, it would seem that if one cannot effect a change in the political system, one must remove oneself therefrom. Yet this assumes that the system of governance is the most important factor in determining how a person lives. While this is true for totalitarian societies, so long as a semblance of freedom remains, philsophy trumps politics. The state may determine whether or not abortion and gay marriage are allowed; but only the particular philosophies of the people therein determine which "freedoms" they will exercise as selected from the options which the government allows them.
This is somewhat encouraging to one who is caught in a state of political despair. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will increase the list of options which avail themselves to the public. Perhaps the Democrats will grant gays the right to marry, and keep abortion legal, but I rather doubt they will desist spying upon American citizens or keep the IRS out of our pocketbooks. Viewed as a whole, if present conditions are indicative of what awaits us, it is absurd to expect liberty to do anything but dwindle. Hope lies only with third party candidates--who cannot win.
Yet so long as a bastion of freedom remains, it is theoretically possible to instill within the public a philosophy which is conducive to the increase of liberty and the betterment of society at large. Unfortunately, there are problems with this noble proposition. First, this being a democracy--technically republic, bastardized at that--the philosophy of the people can be gleaned from a survey of the government. As liberty ever dwindles, it is obvious that if the people place a premium upon freedom, they are insufficiently intelligent to elect those who agree with them. More likely, the people presently do not want freedom, and instead prefer "bread and circuses" in the immortal words of Juvenal.
Now, as liberty is dwindling, and has been for some time, we can safely assume that in a previous period in American history, the citizens esteemed liberty more highly. The growth of government has been sanctioned by the people, who have seen a likewise degredation in personal philosophy--judged from the standpoint that a better philosophy is one in which freedom is preferred to slavery. If those who lived in freer times were not content to remain at such a state, and instead sacrificed sacred liberty for the facade of safety, can it be assumed that those who have less of a grasp on liberty would value it more? It is possible, but there seems to be no evidence of this. Notes Fred:
Finally, people do not want freedom. They want comfort, two hundred channels on the cable, sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, an easy job and an SUV. No country with really elaborate home-theater has ever risen in revolt. An awful lot of people secretly like being told what to do. We would probably be happier with a king.
Libertarians remain a bizarre group of malcontents, drawn to the conspiratorial and often filled with contempt for the rest of society which is viewed as clueless. The liberals who believe that humans should be free to do as they choose are the first ones to impose speech codes on those insufficiently enlightened; meanwhile they suffocate business by creating all kinds of fancy rules which are neither conducive to liberty, nor to decent Americans who only wish to run a simple business. Strangely this has had no ill effect upon the plutocracy. Conservatives are likewise inconsistent. They generally believe that business should be able to do what it wishes, but will hand over all kinds of freedoms to the government so we can stop the terrorists. So long as the dear leader is a Republican, he can govern like a Democrat.
All this has me thinking about expatriating. A bit rash, perhaps, but I'm not of the temperment that believes things often get better if left well enough alone. I could be--and hope that I am--dead wrong about our rush into "inevitable decline", but I frankly doubt it.
I have two years left of this college nonsense before I can get out and work on paying off my loans. I think a couple of years in a cube is all I'll be able to stomach, whereupon I might try to find a new home.
It might be nice to live somewhere else for awhile. All I need is a country. I've got a couple of years to think on it.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Anyway, the first paradox involves the issue of war. As before, there are two half-truths which can only be containted by a contradiction. War is at once abhorrent, but there are also times in which war is the only answer. As a personal aside, it should be noted that the main reason I initially made the foolish mistake of supporting the Iraq War was that I did not yet understand the importance of paradox. I knew, as all even vaguely religious men must, that life should be cherished and not squandered. If death was not a wholly bad thing, it was surely not something to be brought casually upon another.
At the same time, I could not understand how someone could be so naive as to believe that War Was Never The Answer. There were countless examples from human history in which war did manage to present itself as an answer. Certainly some of these problems flared up again, but it is idiotic to suggest that the best thing the Poles could have done was roll over for the Nazis. Someone had evidently forgotten to mention to the aggressive parties that war was not the answer, as these were really the only groups who needed the reminder.
My instinctual gut reaction to those who failed to recognize the effectivness of war led me to support the other heretical half-truth. There was no doubt that there were times in which war was the only answer. It is always a regretable answer; it should always be the last option. A call to arms can only be glorious when the reason for the call is the enemy's literal presence in one's backyard.
There was no doubt that Saddam was, plainly speaking, not a very nice fellow. If his mother had taught him to share with the other children, he had not retained the lesson, and gruesome habits had taken root where the proddings of his mother evidently had not, including a penchant for murder. Yet, for all his atrocities, Saddam had not attacked the United States or the citizens thereof. That he may have done so is irrelevant. For, as Chesterton succinctly notes, "The only defensible war is a war of defense." If Saddam had marched his army up through Mexico and captured El Paso, having refused to give it back, there wouldn't be any defense for opposing a war to remove him from power.
El Paso remains, like the rest of the union, safely within American hands. (I'm not certain if D.C. is considered occupied territory. My stance on violent revolution has not been thought out as yet. Stay tuned.) The War in Iraq is an immoral war because we were the aggressors. I do not profess a grasp of the state of mind of those who led us to war, but as one who was a follower, I can vouch that most of my fellow foolish supporters had the noblest of intentions. We were going to dethrone a tyrant, strike a blow against terror, lessen the threat to America, free a people and give them democracy to boot. But though our intention was good, our action was not. We have supplanted a tyrant for a democracy that is unstable at best. We have killed millions of citizens--citizens who have done us no harm, and the vast majority of whom would never had done so--in order to save the lives of our own citizens. I do not deny that a government ought to show preference to its people, but it seems strange to murder the citizens of other lands so that we no longer have to worry about showing a preference.
There are as yet some who refuse to see the light, and ultimately believe that a war with Iraq was just. The more honest apologists simply confess a preference for the lesser of two evils. It will be interesting to see if the loyal Republicans are misguided interventionists or simply shallow partisans as a Hillary presidency may give us a Democratic war. I can respect a heretic more than I can respect a liar.
As for the rest, it is not enough that we know that the War in Iraq was immoral; it is imperative that we recognize why this is so. If we take the pacifistic approach, that all war is evil and must never be fought, we will be forced to accept the rule of Might, something the character dubbed King Arthur wisely attempted to avoid. It is also possible that we do not learn at all from Iraq, and instead believe that the only problem with the war was one of feasibility and not of morals. This is equally repugnant. The truth of the matter can only be contained in the aforementioned paradox, and it is only the Catholic Church which professes to guard this truth: that war can and must be fought as a last resort, but in no other case may it be so waged.
As it became obvious that we would soon be going to war, the partisan divide became equally apparent. Democrats opposed intervention because a Republican was in charge, just as they had opposed the wars of Democratic Presidents--that's a joke, by the way, though it's not very funny. Republicans supported it for that same reason: George was their cowboy. The pacifists marched in opposition, as they always do, and the neo-cons cheered for war as they are likewise wont to do.
Amidst the empty shouting from the leaders bereft of principle--but not party--and the small groups whose only principles were not complete, a lone American cried out; a voice in the political wilderness broke the standstill, if only for a moment. Pat Buchanan stated his opposition to the War with Iraq as he had done during the Persian Gulf War; this despite his conservative idealogy, or, properly understood, because of it. For Mr. Buchanan is a fellow citizen, not only of America, but also of Rome, a man who I am honored to call my brother in Christ. Buchanan looked to a Church which had seen a great many wars in her storied history, and she shone forth upon the truth of the matter, as both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI emphatically denounced the occupation of Iraq.
It now appears that Mr. Buchanan and the popes were right. Perhaps one day he will get the credit he so deserves. More importantly, perhaps the world will acknowledge the Church for, yet again, getting the matter exactly correct. One frankly doubts it; for they do not know us because they do not know the Man who so founded her.
It is not a coincidence that Chesterton's thought still lives. Buchanan could have lifted his entire
defense from that giant Brit, and it would have sufficed rather nicely. The Church is steadfast and yet she is also timeless. She is "beauty ever ancient, ever new" in the immortal words of St. Augustine. His words ring true.
But I have grown tired, and that, like my second paradox, is another matter for another day.
"Americans are earning less while the costs of a middle-class life have soared," Clinton told the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, a group that aided her husband Bill Clinton's rise to the presidency in 1992 but has clashed in recent years with the party's more liberal wing.
"A lot of Americans can't work any harder, borrow any more or save any less," she said in unveiling the group's "American Dream Initiative," a package of proposals to make college and home ownership more affordable, help small businesses, improve retirement savings and expand health insurance coverage.
Clinton said President George W. Bush and Republicans had "made a mess out of the country's finances." Rewriting her husband's famous 1992 campaign slogan, "It's the economy, stupid," she declared: "It's the American dream, stupid."
Snide comments aside, Americans are, in fact, earning less; but I do not think Mrs. Clinton would be overly enthusiastic with my solution to reverse this trend. A return of illegal immigrants to their port of origin, and an increase in the number of middle class women who remain at home would ensure scarcity within the job market. As per the golden rule of economics, an decrease in supply warrants an increase in demand; ergo, wages will also increase. You're welcome.
It is interesting to note that the solution to the trouble created by King George as to be implemented by the fair Queen is, in point of fact, identical to the source of the trouble itself. Goverment spending has gotten us into this mess as sure as the nose on my face; but we are to believe that if only the government were run by Democrats, the spending would produce beneficient results. It is as if a change in the foreman, would now see a factory producing twinkies, wherein the labor of twenty minutes prior resulted in naught but toy cars. As a Catholic, I do believe in miracles; but I do not make a habit of expecting them upon command.
Again we must discuss the rule of supply and demand. If an apple costs twenty-five cents as dictated by both the producers and consumers in the, admittedly theoretical, free market, Mother Government will step in so that poor people can afford apples. It is too much, I suppose, to return to a feudal system in which they would simply grow their own apples so as to feed themselves; but anyway, the poor people must have apples, and, lacking sufficient faith in people and having far too much of the same within themselves, those that represent us will subsidize apples so that the poor can, at long last, eat.
The effects are twofold: first, those that can already afford the apples will be forced to pay for apples which they will not be able to consume; second, the price of apples will increase. As more money is introduced to the market place the price of apples increases as per the aforementioned law of economics. If corporations were able to price apples reasonably, we would never be tempted to coerce them to do so; and while I would hardly suggest that corporations should be allowed to gouge on apples, it is interesting to note that all the regulation in the world has been unable to force men to act rightly. Instead, we find that once enough money is taken from those who could afford the apples, coupled with the increase in the price thereof, a whole new group of people must be issued subsidizes so that those who were once able to afford to eat, must now be ever so mercifully saved from starvation. Troutsky will probably think it unkind, but this is my understanding of applied socialism; it is also why I do not consider myself a socialist.
Now the Chesterton applies to what I consider to be an application of socialism, and what the good Troutsky would profess to be a bastardization thereof. He is probably right, but I am not particularily concerned by the particular brand name we use to refer to slavery. Any system in which men are not free to do as they please, so long as it does not directly cause harm to another, will be opposed by those who love liberty. I fancy that there are, perhaps, several dozen of us, and I am guilty of pride by even suggesting that I belong within their noble ranks. Anyway, the quotation applies to a great many things, and it is for precisely this reason that it merits mentioning.
A battle, like every human work, is at once designed in its beginning and doubtful in its end. Now the Comrades of the Dawn already annoyed me; because their revolution was widely undesigned in its beginning, but had no doubt about its end. Just like Imperialism; and the South African War.
This may not seem like the best of quotes because it visits upon issues which appear to be quite irrelevant to the reader. Yet Imperialism is still with us. It answers to different names, many of them ironic, some contradictory; but it takes the form of various wars to force people to govern themselves in the manner they wish so long as it the way we choose--or is it the other way around? The neo-conservative crusade--if we may insult such a glorious, if misunderstood thing by attaching its name to such an ignoble idealogy--was firmly convicted of its victorious end; but as we all know, we were not greeted as liberators, and what was once so sure appears shaky. The problem with inevitable things is that they so often fail.
This application can be made in reference to many things. I hardly need bring Hillary into the mix again, because the connection is so obvious. During my short lifetime, I've not had the privilege to hear a politician explain how on earth we will get out of the mess that his predecessor created; but I have heard any number of exclamations that the problem will be solved. We need not worry, though we are not to be given specifics. Kerry would bring peace to the Middle East, though we know not how; Hillary would have no trouble ushering in era of exuberant wealth, if only she may gain the throne.
Nixon wasn't the only one with a secret plan.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
I fully support men taking a greater role in the raising of children. Father's are immensely important. Wee see this in the rate of poverty and crime among children in single mothers, and the single biggest indicator of whether or not a child will attend church is whether or not his father does so. If my ramblings were construed as to mitigate the responsibility of the father I must correct you.
How about communal raising of children and sharing of resposibilities?
I am not a parent, and perhaps this failure makes me a poor judge upon this subject; though I hestitate to note that most parents are not competent to give advice either. A parentss number one responsibility is to one's children. I do not subscribe to Hillary's theory--really Plato's--that "it takes a village". Christians view this world as fallen, and though it is repugnant to do so, must see much of the population of the world is damned. St. Paul reminds us not to be equally yoked with unbelievers. As such, the only acceptable commune would be one comprised of like-minded Christians, but if this is your meaning, I wholly applaud your idea so long as ultimate control resides with the individual parents.
I hate to break it to you but June Cleaver was a mythological creature. In reality, because her life of doing dishes and scrubbing toilets was so unfulfilling, she took to Prozac, affairs and martinis.
I have a mother who does not have affairs, does not take Prozac and does not drink martinis--though she has been known to have a half glass of wine on Thanksgiving, when prodded. Women have been told that they cannot find happiness as a mother, which is odd considering that this may be the most important role in all of mankind. We have all of us, I think, sprung forth from some womb, the owner of which often played a prominent role in influencing us. But happiness is found elsewhere I suppose--in drugs, other men and alcohol of course. Conversely, women may become happy by spurning their calling to becomes mothers and instead opting to enter the corporate workforce. I find it curious that you are, unintentionally I believe, sanctioning the capitalist status quo. Ask the plutocrats whether they wish women to work or stay at home. The answer will be telling.
Provide statistical evidence please that financial considerations do not drive working class citizens into two-earner situations.
I cannot provide such evidence because to suggest such a thing would be idiotic. Many couples are forced into two-earner situations, and families that are not ought to be supremely thankful. My point was not that such things do not exist, but that this situation is not an ideal, and it should be avoided if it is possible to do so. Further, feminism contributes to two-earner situations by compelling women who do not need to work to do so. This also contributes to consumerism, and we observe another curious coincidence in which the feminists have aligned themselves with the patriarchal plutocracy which they are supposed to loathe. Then again, feminists have never been terribly good about adding two and two to make four.
Think about the forces which sustain capitalism (consumerism, constant expansion, growth)and then read some "utopian" socialist projections of family life in a collectivist world.Little House on the Prarie is not really an option anymore despite the Pope, or Dobson or Paglias best efforts.
You note that Little House is not an option while calling for a socialist utopia. The former has a distinct advantage over the latter in that while the utopia has yet to be realized anywhere on the globe at any time in history, Little Houses have actually graced this planet. Chesteron comes to mind, "Men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back." I am unaware of what has changed to disallow a "regression" but I have never been sufficiently progressive as to believe in progress.
You know by now that I do not believe in utopia, but I am, in my better moments, a respectful fellow. I challenge you to offer a better solution for the role of father's and mother's in a modern society. Take your time of course, and should you choose to accept, thank you in advance.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D- Mass., who was in town Sunday to help Gov. Jennifer Granholm campaign for her re-election bid, took time to take a jab at the Bush administration for its lack of leadership in the Israeli-Lebanon conflict.
"If I was president, this wouldn't have happened," said Kerry during a noon stop at Honest John's bar and grill in Detroit's Cass Corridor.
Bush has been so concentrated on the war in Iraq that other Middle East tension arose as a result, he said.
"The president has been so absent on diplomacy when it comes to issues affecting the Middle East," Kerry said. "We're going to have a lot of ground to make up (in 2008) because of it."
How can anyone take this man seriously? I'm not a fan of Bush, but anyone who would willfully state something so idiotic couldn't be much better at being president. The reason that there is conflict in the Middle East has nothing to do with whoever runs the plutocracy.
"This is about American security and Bush has failed. He has made it so much worse because of his lack of reality in going into Iraq.…We have to destroy Hezbollah," he said.
I think this is fairly important. First, Kerry is catering to the base by mentioning that the Iraq War was a mistake. Since this Yalie is loaded, he has a shot at gaining the nomination in '08. Unfortunately for him, he's a fool. Destorying Hezbollah, like destorying Al-Qaeda will not mollify the situation in the Middle East. One does not treat a disease by removing the symtoms but by removing the causes.
Further, and most importantly, destroying Hezbollah will require an interventionist policy. Next time a good little Democrat tells you that their party wouldn't have gone to Iraq, mention WWI,WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo--I'm missing some--and then bring up Kerry's little slip. After all, they voted for the dolt.
All of this is much ado about nothing so long as one realizes that there are no significant idealogical differences between the ostensible right and left. I'm half-hoping the dems give Kerry the nod; sure I will have been wrong--big surpise, that--about Hillary, but it will be entertaining.
The way things stand, I'm pretty much in it for the laughs.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
The itemized donations were made public Wednesday, with the paperwork for April through June more than 4,000 pages. In that period, [Hillary] Clinton raised almost $5.7 million, bringing her total for her re-election effort to $43 million to date. She had more than $22 million cash on hand.
Remember, we live in a plutocracy. The number of people who think and vote in this country is statistically insignificant. Those that do not vote do not matter, and those that do not think, can be bought.
So what did Clinton spend her millions on? In this election cycle, the senator has spent more than $21.7 million even though she has yet to run a single television ad. Her two woefully underfunded would-be GOP opponents have spent more time trashing each other.
Clinton has spent millions on direct mailings to prospective donors. In the most recent three-month period, she spent more than $200,000 on postage alone. The campaign paid nearly $650,000 to a company that handles direct mail business.Raise money to spend money to raise more money to spend more money to raise even more money to become Queen. Seems mighty circuitous, but it also seems to work.
The records also provided a tantalizing clue for would-be Clinton sleuths that she's serious about a White House run: two bills for unidentified campaign worker travel at the Hampton Inn in Des Moines, Iowa, the state with the first caucus in the presidential nomination process.
One bill for $182.25, was dated April 17; a second, for $145.77, was dated April 26.Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said the receipts were nothing more than a clerical error, and that the amounts reflected hotel bills for trips to Albany, N.Y., and Austin, Texas. He said the paperwork would be corrected.
Across the pond we go, to the United Kingdom, for further evidence of inevitable decline--patent pending on the expression by the way.
A typical working parent spends just 19 minutes a day looking after their children, official figures revealed yesterday.
Observation seems superfluous. Of course,It is impossible to substantially influence a child's life when one's time is confined to a shorter period than that of a sit-com. When the power of the home wanes, something must subsitute for it; it's not as if children are self-sufficient creatures, rendering care and education luxuries. If parents will not deign to raise their own children, the state and the media will do so. Although, curiously, our survey here seems to suggest that Big Bird and Snuffleupagus are actually better at parenting than your average working Brit. Still, I'm loathe to trust giant pigeons. Then again, I'm a traditionalist.
The findings come at a time when record numbers of women are working as huge mortgages and soaring household bills force them to earn a living.
Official figures show that 12.6million women have a job, compared to just 8.5million in the 1970s.More signs of progress. 'Twas a time when more women folk stayed home. I realize that feminist thought hinges upon the belief that the home is confining, almost like a prison--as opposed to a cube, which is... smaller. Anyway, I reckon the little rugrats used to get more than twenty minutes worth of attention from mum, which seems to be a good thing.
Now, another feminist fallacy is that women have been forced to work due to economic conditions. This is fallacious because 1) not all women need to work and 2) the economic conditions responsible for forcing women into the workplace are largely due to application of feminist thought, namely the idea that women should work rather than stay at home, irrespective of her necessity to become a wage-earner.
Expounding on point the first: some portion of the female population has always been "forced" to work. In agrarian times, certainly, women did a great deal of work, in and about the house as well as the fields. Throughout history, women have always done some type of work when the wage earned by the husband has been insufficient to meet the family budget. It should be noted that sometimes this compulsion is only due to consumerist enchantment, in which case a more modest definition of one's "needs" would allow for the woman to avoid the corporate rat race. Yet some women will still be forced to work.
This leads handily into an explanation of point the second: by touting the working world to the detriment of home, many women who have not need to work have yet done so. Notes Vox Day:
And few indeed are the women who understand that their present need to work is inextricably tied to the societal expectation that they will do so. When women began to enter the work force en masse in the latter half of the 20th century, the overall supply of labor increased, obviously. As per the iron law of supply and demand, over the last 60 years, this increase in supply has somewhat outstripped the growth in the economy and the attendant demand for labor, which is why real wages are still lower in 2005 than in 1973. Combined with the ever-increasing tax burden, this decline in real wages is why both husband and wife must now work when previously the husband's labor alone would have sufficed.
It is interesting, though perhaps not suprising that feminism has been disatrous for women. Not only are more women being compelled to work, further mitigating the power to choose which feminism was supposed to bring, but little girls are receiving little of the love and care they need to be healthy and reasonably happy human beings. If feminists hadn't already given up on such a bizarre concept, I would urge them to rethink their little revolution. Some of them are:
Maire Fahey, editor of Prima, said: "In the 1980s, we thought we could have it all and aspired to high-flying careers and happy families.
"But the cracks are starting to show. Family life is suffering and something has got to give."It's good to see that someone besides Camille Paglia--and various unfairly maligned commentators such as Mr. Day--realizes that the law of scarcity does in fact apply to women.
Lastly, the article notes:
A woman will spend 8.3 hours asleep, 2.4 hours watching television, DVDs or videos and 2.2 hours working.
A man will spend eight hours alseep, 2.8 hours watching television, DVDs or videos and 3.5 hours working.
One imagines that less time in front of the lobotomy box and more time pondering various ideas explained in book form might help reverse the feminist inspired digression--sorry, progress. Goodness how I hate television. Maybe if the time spent in front of the t.v. was instead used for playing with our children--you know, flesh and blood as opposed to a box full of electronic equipment. I'm such a traditionalist.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Hillary Clinton is the clear front-runner among Democrats when voters are asked to choose which one candidate they would prefer for the Democratic nomination for president, but the current poll finds Democrats are about equally likely to rate Clinton, John Edwards, and Al Gore as acceptable nominees.
The far left doesn't like Clinton, or so I've been told, but since a Murtha/Feingold ticket only works in blogland--where money doesn't matter and everyone thinks like you--Clinton seems a likely favorite for the nomination. Remember, Hillary and John Kerry are the only two democrats who can raise enough money to merit the nomination for leader of the republic. John Kerry lost once, ergo, Queen Hillary.
Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain typically vie for the lead in Republican preference polls, but a greater percentage of Republicans say they would find Giuliani acceptable than say this about McCain (73% to 55%). Four in 10 Republicans say they would not find McCain to be an acceptable GOP presidential nominee. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is also widely considered by Republicans to be an acceptable nominee.
It will be interesting to see which faux-conservative gets the nod to be the sacrificial offering to the newly chosen Queen. Faux-conservative is probably not the right term; it is far too suggestive of conservatism, something these three obviously lack.
When the nominee is crowned, I will sit back and enjoy the spectacle of the conservative commentariat demanding that we elect a globalist, pro-choice, interventionist, spendaholic, lest Hillary win. While I do not hold the former first lady in high regard, and while her ascendence to the thrown will surely accelerate the death of the republic, it is laughable to suggest that someone who is cut from the same cloth will do anything to stop the inevitable demise of this once fair land.
If the Grand Old Party wishes for folks such as myself to find our political home therein, they need to stop with this nonsense. Some of us have bothered to think without the aid of Rush Limbaugh.
The Who comes to mind:
We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song
I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that's all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war
I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
I'll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
For I know that the hypnotized never lie
There's nothing in the street
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the party on the left
Is now the party on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight
I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss
Actually, we probably will. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
War rages in the Middle East, specifically, near as I can follow, between Israel and Lebanon. My understanding of the situation is abysmal, though, I fear, from atypical. I do not know which country is in the right, but I do, idyllically hope to a peaceful end to a tumultuous situation.
"It's clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week," a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.
Lest the conflict spin out of control, we will control it. Can anyone, save God, control war? Would it be wise to trust a man who could? Just who do we think we are? Goodness.
George Bush last night said that he suspected Syria was trying to reassert its influence in Lebanon. Speaking in Washington, he said: "It's in our interest for Syria to stay out of Lebanon and for this government in Lebanon to succeed and survive. The root cause of the problem is Hizbullah and that problem needs to be addressed."
I no longer trust a word our president says. I used to give him the benefit of the doubt, nice guy that I am. But I don't think he has a clue what the devil is going on, his advisors have demonstrated their ignorance of world affairs, and I can no longer gratuitously offer him the metaphorical olive branch when he attempts to explain a situation. Says Mencken, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." We got Bush, and Syria got Hizbullah...? I'm missing something.
Maybe Buchanan has it figured out. All the rest of the folks over at WorldNetDaily want to go to war. Of course, they don't want to go war all by themselves, but they do want to bomb the living tar--can tar live?--out of every Middle Eastern country. Because, you see, they are the terrorists.
And all of a sudden I'm taking Noam Chomsky seriously. I've traded Bush and Rush for an oddball at M.I.T. What the deuce?
Let it be said: Israel has a right to defend herself, a right to counter-attack against Hezbollah and Hamas, a right to clean out bases from which Katyusha or Qassam rockets are being fired and a right to occupy land from which attacks are mounted on her people.
But what Israel is doing is imposing deliberate suffering on civilians, collective punishment on innocent people, to force them to do something they are powerless to do: disarm the gunmen among them. Such a policy violates international law and comports neither with our values nor our interests. It is un-American and un-Christian.
But where are the Christians? Why is Pope Benedict virtually alone among Christian leaders to have spoken out against what is being done to Lebanese Christians and Muslims?
I guess the Pope wins a prize, too. Yay for sane people.
Already, Bush is ranting about Syria being behind the Hezbollah capture of the Israeli soldiers. But where is the proof?
Who is whispering in his ear? The same people who told him Iraq was maybe months away from an atom bomb, that an invasion would be a "cakewalk," that he would be Churchill, that U.S. troops would be greeted with candy and flowers, that democracy would break out across the region, that Palestinians and Israelis would then sit down and make peace? How much must America pay for the education of this man?
How much, indeed. I think I'll go lie down. The world seems remiss. Again.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
The Priest at Mass read this during the homily. It's called the Serenity Prayer, and I do enjoy it so.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
This is the typical form, but there is more:
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Bon nuit, mes amis.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
The topic of discussion was Chrisitian feminity. The speaker, whose name I have forgotten, is a professor of philosophy at St. Kate's. She knew her theology, and proved to be a very good speaker as well, weaving in quotes from various thinkers, Catholic and otherwise, who have left us some of their ideas throughout human history. Although she did not mention Chesterton--unlike the fellow from last week--she gets bonus points for two separate references to Flannery O'Connor.
Now a friend of mine has recently commented on the topics I choose to cover herein, and expressed interest in a slight change of temperment--if not view--on certain issues, particularily my contentious feelings toward feminism. Well, based on yesterday's talk, my opinion on the matter has not changed. I still view modern feminism to be disastrous, not just for traditional men such as myself, but for women as well as the whole of society.
The speaker was not, by modern feminist standards, a feminist. For she committed the two sins against those hellbent on destroying the remnants of the patriarchal establishment. First, being a Catholic, she expressed opposition "reproductive rights", not only by dismissing abortion as immoral, but saying similar things about birth control. She noted that "fertility is not a disease"; feminists evidently believe otherwise, as they take a pill to prevent fecundity from manifesting itself until they so choose. Second, she stated the well-known, if seldom pronounced fact that men and women are profoundly different, and not merely because of cultural pressures either.
She then discussed the complementarity of the sexes, and the important role that both men and women must play in the monumental endeavor that is raising a child. For a women cannot father and a man cannot mother; in her own words, "there is no such thing as parenting".
I have previously expressed herein, that I believe the family, and by extension, society, functions better when women play their role as mothers. This is emphatically true, for the family is the building block of society. It is the smallest level of government, no matter what the system of governance. Whether the regime is monarchic or republican, the mother and father's role in the household remains both constant and profound.
Yet in my haste to point out the obviously diminished role of woman in modern society--ironic, considering the ostensible goal of the feminists--I have missed something just as important. Recently I have been discussing paradox, and, perhaps more importantly, the issue of balancing the truth so that both sides are respected, rather than emphasizing a particular precept such that its compliment is forgotten. Thus, the family, and again, by extension, society, will flourish if women are beneficient mothers, but only if men are likewise good fathers.
Indeed, the very birth control of which feminists are so proud, has allowed men to become absent and irresponsible; consequently, illegitimacy rates have soared, and what was intended to give women greater freedom has instead heaped an impossible burden upon them. For women must now do what they were never intended to do, and indeed cannot do: father.
There are single women that do an admirable job, but while their behavior is often courageous, the result is seldom salutary from the child's perspective.
The solution to the mess of absent men who refuse to father and the women who choose to minimize the motherthing they must do, resides in restoring order to the home. Unfortunately, we live in a system that is not only capitalism, but corporate and pregnant with usury. The problem lies in the latter two, and an elimination thereof will do much to add stability to the presently cacophonic home.
Presently, in almost every home, at least one parent gets in a car, or other form of vehicular transportation, and sits through traffic on his way to make money in the corporate world. So long as a family has one able breadwinner, and so long as a family will be content with ample bread and the occasional circus, one parent can stay at home to raise and educate the children. Since women commonly possess wombs, as well as a nurturing character, and men often make more money than women, it makes a large amount of sense for the woman to be the one who remains at home.
But, last night, it finally occured to me why this was problematic. The desired end is obviously not where both mother and father work while the kids go to day care and/or school; the best end is for both parents to retain jobs which allow them to work from the home. In this way, the role of provider can fall to one, the other or both--it makes little difference--and the far more important parental obligations can be filled by both mother and father.
Moreover, this is the way things worked for much of human history. If we had followed Jefferson's advice and developed into an agrarian republic, we would perhaps not have gone so far wrong. While farming is no longer considered profitable by many, nor would it make sense for all to take up farming, there are many other occupations that can be performed from the home. In this manner, the child receives, not only the love and attention so necessary in laying the ground work for a good life, but also an education in his father's and/or mother's trade. Yesterday's speaker postulated that Jesus lived in a similar environment, learning carpentry no doubt from his earthly father Joseph.
I do not have all the kinks worked out as yet. But I see the ideal, and a plan to reach it can be concocted as I go along. I note, too, that this theory fits hand in hand with Chesterton's distributism, which reduces corporatism to a healthier capitalism, wherein people produce things and exchange them with others. If every person decides that in order to become a better parent, he will return to an occupation which allows him to work from home, corporatism will self destruct. (I realize I used the word parent, but the alternative construction was appalling.) If every man runs his own little shop, selling his own little wares, we'll no longer have to put up with, or worse, shop at, places like Wal-Mart.
That thought alone ought to bring a smile to everyone's face, but if that does not, remember that acheivement of this idyllic end will also result in stable homes. There may be some who really do enjoy purchasing garbage from the big box stores, but I am manifestly certain, that in all but the most extreme and unfortunate of circumstances, every former child is glad of the time his mother and father had spent with her. Would that we could make the time grow. Perhaps we can.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I have two more examples of paradox to add to my talk. Unfortunately, it is now late and my reading far from complete. Thank goodness for coffee and morning meetings. Nevertheless, here are the two topics, listed as much for myself--so that I do not forget--as for the readers of this here blog, as a sort of coming attraction.
1) The Church's stance on war, commonly referred to "The Just War Doctrine".
2) The Catholic position of being an optimist and a pessimist: loving this life enough to desire change it, yet realizing that the world is not our home, nor will it ever be.
I know I've left you tantalizing in anticipation. Don't lie and tell me otherwise.
EDIT: Irrefutable proof that I should sleep more and blog less: usage of the phrase "tantalizing in anticipation". I don't know what that means exactly, but your best guess is probably right.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
One hears often now that boys flounder in school, drop out, generally perform less well academically than girls, and don’t go to college. A certain amount of this commentary comes from women who seem quietly to enjoy the spectacle. Given that women control the schools, this might suggest that, if they are not actually causing the problem, neither are they in a hurry to do anything about it. Other people worry that the comparative superabundance of female college graduates will have no one to marry: While men will marry down, women won’t. Regarding all of which:
The cause is not that boys are stupid. Boys have higher average scores than do girls on standardized tests, for example, and at the high end are far ahead of the girls. Putting it straightforwardly, the very smart are predominantly male, particularly in mathematics, and the exceedingly smart, almost entirely so. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to think it fair. But it is a fact, and everybody in the field knows it.
Consider. The maximum score on each half of the SATs, both verbal and mathematical, is 800. You have to be, or had to be until the tests were recently dumbed down (“recentered,” I meant to say,“recentered.”), quite bright to score an 800. In 1999, when I checked because I was writing a column, 1611 girls in the country scored 800 on the math section; 4815 boys did. Verbal? Girls, 2828; boys, 3087. The male average on the math SATs was 531. The female was 495. That's not a trivial difference. Verbal scores? Males 509, females 502. The latter difference is slight and probably attributable the larger numbers of girls taking the test. The difference in math scores isn’t.I may be a fool, but Fred is not. When he backs me up, I can seemingly live up to my moniker by proxy.
Further, in the schools today we have feminization, feminization, feminization. Instead of treating girls like girls, and boys like boys, all are expected to be girls. It doesn’t work. Boys by their very nature like to roughhouse. They like contact sports. You don’t have to force them to play football. They are competitive. Women don’t understand this, and what they don’t understand, they outlaw. Today estrogenated school after estrogenated school bans dodge ball as too dangerous, outlaws tag (“They get too rough,” meaning too rough for Mrs. Teacher), and insists on “groups games led by a caring adult.”
It is hideous for boys. Everything they are, it isn’t. “Ohhhhh, let’s have a caring non-competitive game….” If he is really bright, with an IQ north of 150, he will decide that his teachers are idiots, which most of them are, and withdraw. There will be a price for this one day.
You want to end the “boy crisis”? Easy. Give boys male teachers who understand boys and care about them. Women do neither. Let them compete. It’s how they are. Encourage them to burn off energy in the gym. Reward achievement, not pretty projects. Turn them into men, not transvestites.
Somewhat to my surprise, I have found myself committed to giving this talk. The subject will be Paradoxes in Christianity, or something to that effect. I plan to draw heavily from my dear friend Mr. G.K. Chesterton, who has been affectionately dubbed “The Prince of Paradox”.
My slight obsession with Mr. GKC could be troublesome, especially as I plan on, or perhaps only aspire to, making a career out of this little hobby of mine, that is, writing. I am not certain that anyone could fill the shoes of a man who stood six foot four, weighed in at a considerable three hundred pounds and wrote some fifteen million words during his prolific career—all this despite an incredible propensity to miss his train to wherever it was he was supposed to be. Anyway, although I am certain that I am not man enough to fill his shoes, but I do know that the neglect of Chesterton is a serious crime on the part of humanity, and if my incessant proselytizing causes but one person to discover the wit and wisdom of that forgotten Brit I shall be moderately content and pronounce my obsession at least partially beneficent.
But before we get to Chesterton, and even before we get to paradox, we must hastily discuss a far more boring topic. Namely, myself. Actually, what follows is the delightful occasion of my introduction to Mr. GKC. It's a love story. But I think a greater appreciation of the whole affair can be gained if we can understand the frame of my tangled mind before it was delightedly untangled by paradoxes.
I am the eldest of eight children. From this we can safely glean that my family was stringently Catholic. Despite thirteen years of Catholic education, my understanding of the faith was nominal. More importantly, and tragically, the teachings of the Church were never taken fully to heart.
I fell. Sophomore year was a despicable display of pride and stupidity as I sunk lower and lower into depths I did not know existed. At last, by returning to the God I had rejected, I began to be pulled slowly out of the pit I had dug for myself. I returned home firmly intent on rediscovering my faith over the summer. My mom, who was at least theoretically unaware of my crisis of faith, or at least the depths thereof, gave me a book. It was Chesterton's masterpiece: The cover featured a giant of a man, cigar in hand, scattered papers on the desk at which he sat. His very presence made him seem out of place. A quote adorned the cover: "People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy."
I was taken aback. Chesterton is full of surprises, and he always seems to say the thing which is directly opposite of that which one is expecting to hear. Shockingly, and more importantly, after careful consideration, it turns out overwhelmingly that one's first impression was absolutely wrong and it is he that is in the right. Orthodoxy did sound boring, and I was fairly convinced that this bizarre man was a lightweight, making incendiary comments for the sake of being incendiary. But the philosopher in me won out and I tackled the book.
I have never been made to think so much in so few pages. I have now read the book three times, and each visit conjures up new truths which had escaped my mind on the first several passes.
The key to understanding Chesterton, and with him Catholicism, is this notion of paradox. Chesterton calls paradox "truth standing on its head to gain attention". The dictionary's definition is far more solemn: A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true. The best way to explain paradox is simply by illustration. Fortunately, Christianity is packed with paradox, and while some of these truths are subtle and will require explanation, some of them are obvious, and have probably been taken for granted by the believer without his realization of the paradox therein.
The whole of Christianity hinges on one truth: Jesus Christ as true God and true Man. Apart from this stunning paradox, Christianity is not a way to salvation, but only another collection of sayings to help man stumble his way on his road to nowhere. It does little good to tell man how to walk if we cannot tell him where he came from—and why—and where on earth he is, or where he should be going.
But retain the paradox, and the path remains illuminated. We now know why we are here: God has made us, and we know where we can, by the Grace of God, hope to go. Christ Jesus has become man so as to die, yet remained God so as to conquer death and win for us Salvation. The solution to the mighty riddle of human existence is satisfied by that terrible moment on Calvary when God willfully sacrificed Himself to Himself as an expiation for the evils of mankind.
Now no one can understand how a Jesus could be both God and man. Aquinas does an admirable job, but even the brilliant mind of the Angelic Doctor can only get along so far on this dazzling intellectual ascent heavenward; at some point, the mystery, the paradox, must simply be accepted as true. Only an act of Faith will suffice. "The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man," notes Chesterton. Yet humans, rational creatures that we are, have trouble with simply accepting the paradox. We seek to chip away at it until it becomes rational. But in the process of making the thing rational, the truth becomes a fallacy. It erodes into a half-truth—a heresy.
Heresy is not a very popular word, but it is a good one, and it is the right one for what we must now discuss. Earlier, Chesterton informed us that orthodoxy was perilous, but also exciting. We are now about to see why. The tendency with paradox is to explain away the contradiction. Thus, the Incarnation: the second person of God becoming fully man, was reduced either to a very holy man who was not God or a God who did not become man but only took the appearance thereof. Both these statements can be more easily understood, but they no longer satisfy the riddle. There have been a great many sages who have lived and to whom we might turn for influence, but even the wisest of these have been unable to show the path to eternal salvation. Likewise, God's appearance as God—and God alone—on this earth would be remarkable, but it wouldn't be of much help in the long run. Death cannot be conquered if there was no one there to die. God's appearance in the burning bush didn't do away with the need for Christ to become flesh.
I have spent a fair amount of time dealing with what is, though mysterious, a fairly straight forward example, at least so far as paradoxes go. My reason for this is that I can never hope to contain even more than a few examples of paradoxes during this brief talk. I can, however, hope to give the general form so that you can begin to see paradoxes in other areas of Christian life. My hope is that the doctrine of Jesus Christ as true God and true Man is sufficiently understood as to render my task successful.
The point is, succinctly, this: there are certain mysteries—paradoxes—which cannot be fully fathomed by the human mind. Nonetheless, these paradoxes are true, and thus the Church finds herself at war with those who would simplify the truth in an effort to make it more understandable. In the Old Testament, God reminds the Israelites to stray neither to the right or the left; the same thing applies to Christians today. The Church must retain the paradox, and remind us of both sides of the truth lest we forget and slip, quite accidentally perhaps, right into heresy. This is the general outline.
To use another example, God is all-knowing, and yet He gives us free will. He allows us to make choices, yet is fully knowledgeable to the choices we are going to make. This truth is almost more terrifying than that of Christ as fully God and fully Man. And thus, many have tried to simplify the paradox. To one side we have the Calvinists who believe in predestination such that it mitigates free will. I will ignore the Scriptural arguments against Calvin due merely to time, for I think that common sense alone defeats Calvinism. If God ultimately predestines us to either heaven and hell, irrespective of our choices—which must also be predetermined—is there any doubt that this God would be cruel? It is entirely within reason that those who choose to sin merit eternal damnation; it is another matter entirely to suppose that those who were not free to choose must still pay the penalty which can only be incurred by those who, of their own volition, turn from God.
On the other side, we have a God who gives free will, but is ultimately unaware of all that will go on in the future. Are we to suppose that He who can number the hairs on our head is wholly ignorant of, for example, the next adjective I shall employ? This is absurd. Further, the Old Testament is chalk full of prophesies about Christ's coming in the New Testament. If God was unsure about the future, He could not have compelled the prophets to prophesize. Nor could he be sure that Mary would say yes to becoming the Mother of God, as if the omnipotent being would base His whole master plan on a series of possibilities. Thus, the difficult paradox remains, with the Church as her protector and guarder.
Next we have the three theological virtues, namely faith, hope and charity, which are all, interestingly enough, paradoxical virtues. Chesterton captures this brilliantly:
Charity is the power of defending that which we know to be indefensible. Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate. It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope. The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and, eclipse. It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor; but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice. It is the undeserving who require it, and the ideal either does not exist at all, or exists wholly for them. For practical purposes it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment. Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.
I do not know that I dare add anything on charity and hope. As for faith, the early Church father Tertulian capture it best, "I believe," he says, "because it is absurd." This is not to say that faith and reason are in contradiction; Aquinas for one would have none of that. God does not tell us to believe things which we know to be false, for example, that the grass is the color of the sky; instead, He asks us to take, on Faith, something which can neither be proved or disproved, but does have a ring of absurdity to it. There are those who have studied Christianity without becoming Christians, but no one who possesses any intellectual honesty can think it anything but a bit odd and certainly perplexing.
I feel as though I am rushing through all of this. My intention is to touch on as many subject as I can and still impress upon you the need for paradox, and, more importantly, the freedom it can bring. I shall use two more examples, both of which are extraordinarily pertinent for today.
In regards to sex, there are typically seen two schools of thought. The “progressives”—whatever that may mean—or the “liberals”—who dishonor a good name—believe that sexual restraint is, by and large, not a good thing. Condoms should be given to those who are, speaking in regards to maturity, mere children, for they will have sex anyway. Homosexuals should be allowed to get married because it is bigoted to say otherwise. Parenthetically, I wonder whether it is similarly bigoted to tell a drunk that he cannot have another beer. This road obviously leads to chaos. We see this in our world today, with teachers, and worse, priests, having sex with those under their protection. Even the most adamant of free lovers has to admit that some restraint is needed. Camille Paglia, one of the few intellectually honest liberals remaining, says as much of her generations failed revolution of the 1960's. If people are allowed to have sex whenever they want, with whomever they wish, society will no longer function. An argument can be made that it no longer does.
The other school of thought is called puritan. It is difficult to imagine, perhaps, a time when sex wasn't so pervasive, and was indeed, looked upon with shame. We may very well empathize with the puritan line of thinking, for the puritan response is but the natural reaction of anyone with common sense when the progressives have take things too far. This works in reverse as well, for the progressive reaction was a somewhat healthy response to the puritan ideal, which isn't right either. The solution, of course, lies in the perilous balance of the paradox.
C.S. Lewis had a bit to say on this topic in Mere Christianity:
You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act, that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theater by bringing a covered plate onto the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food?
I find it somewhat humorous, in a tragic sort of way, that he has to define strip tease, but the short answer to his question is yes, Mr. Lewis, we would think that their appetite is remiss. Sex is, as a gift of God, quite good. But like every good thing, it must be used properly. Beer is likewise a good thing, but that is no reason for a man to be drinking beer all the time. There is a time and a place for everything, and the Church is there to make sure we do not partake of something good at a wrong time; for that would be evil. Thus sex is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman. It must also satisfy the requirements of being unitive, drawing the couple together, and pro-creative, that is, the act must be open to God's gift of life. This truth is promulgated brilliantly, both in the encyclical Humanae Vitae, as well as during Pope John Paul II's talks on the Theology of the Body.
During an age in which we're a mess when it comes to understanding our sexuality, Christian thinkers have left a plethora of information to help us avoid the pitfalls we can so easily experience if we are not careful. Our society is swimming headlong into the tumultuous waters of sexual progression. It seems almost preposterous to suggest, but there will no doubt be a puritan backlash before our lives our over. All the while, the Church sits in the sensible middle, telling people the correct way to avoid madness. But people seldom listen.
Lastly, the Church has some very wise things to say about economic theory. About the turn of the twentieth century, socialism had begun to be taken very seriously by some intellectual-types over in Europe. Pope Leo XIII penned an absolutely marvelous encyclical entitled Rerum Novarum. Notes Pope Leo:
[S]ocialists... are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community.
Socialism has since proven itself a failure in all the countries it has hitherto been tried. The true followers of Marx note that nowhere has the system been implemented correctly, but as Leo notes that the system is, ipso facto, unjust, the point is wholly irrelevant. This would seem to suggest capitalism as the economic system to be preferred by Catholics. Not necessarily.
Leo goes on to explain the importance of justice within a capitalist system, serving to remind us that capitalism is not, of its nature, just. It is more just than socialism for having the possibility of bringing with it justice, but it can take on a form equal to and even more wretched than a socialist system. Employers must pay their employees a just wage; this is altogether different from the arbitrary and amoral conclusion that the market produces. If the market pronounces a fair wage of, say, seven dollars an hour for a janitor, but this is insufficient to feed his family, a Catholic employer is obligated to pay the janitor a sufficient wage for him to live on, so long as he is able to afford to pay these wages. The employer must also provide congenial circumstances with which to work, again, so far as possible considering the man's form of employment. The employees, then, must strive to give an honest day's work for the pay they are to receive.
It hardly needs noting that American style capitalism seldom meshes with Catholic social teaching. We are all called to implement a more charitable form of capitalism so far as we are able. Conversely, we may become, to hail back to Chesterton, distributists. This school of thought was first advocated, I believe, by Hilaire Belloc, a fellow Catholic and good friend of Chesterton. Unfortunately, distributism is still largely a theory, but it is important to note because it serves to emphasize the thesis regarding paradox.
Chesterton once said that a man is capable of one mistake, almost, but one thought. The Socialists have their theory, but they have precious little to say about other topics. Al Gore has his global warming issue, and seldom says anything else at all. Hugh Hefner's magazine was showing naked women fifty years ago; it is showing naked women today. He hasn't changed his mind in fifty years, and I cannot help but wonder if he wouldn't trade in one of his girlfriend's for another thought.
Catholics are, of course, religious people, and as such they are impugned for not being particularly good thinkers. This is a shallow criticism, as some of the greatest thinkers throughout time have been Catholics. There is fallacy that Catholics, and other religious types, do not believe in science, or we do not believe in reason, but that we only read the Bible, and that, in regards to those who adhere to Rome, we listen to the Pope. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I believe in science when it is good and reliable science; I also believe in reason especially as it concerns the Pope and the Bible.
But I know something else. If a man does not look to the past, he will only be able to go so far. Brilliant minds have gotten far indeed, but I think it important to note that Aristotle and Plato got along further than Socrates by using his teachings for guidance. Augustine and Aquinas, likewise, used pagan philosophers, as well as Holy Scripture, to travel to dazzling heights. Modern man seems to believe that those of us who listen to the wisdom of the Church are foolish and behind the times. We can only pray for those who will obstinately continue to make one, and usually only one, mistake, through the course of their entire lives. For they do not understand the paradox, and emphasize one half-truth at the expense of another until it becomes a heresy. But we Catholics have been blessed with a Church that sees the whole truth and dares to contain it. The institution we call home has been thinking about thinking for two thousand years. She protects the paradoxes; and we are the better for it.
Women work harder in school, Mr. Kohn believes. "The girls care more about their G.P.A. and the way they look on paper," he said.
A quarter-century after women became the majority on college campuses, men are trailing them in more than just enrollment.
Department of Education statistics show that men, whatever their race or socioeconomic group, are less likely than women to get bachelor's degrees — and among those who do, fewer complete their degrees in four or five years. Men also get worse grades than women.
I've noticed that, in my limited experience, this gives all appearances of being true. While grades do matter to an extent, stellar grades are a poor substitute for being able to actually do whatever job one's courses are preparing one for. Men--certainly the engineering types I mingle with--understand this. Women are far more serious about school and seem to believe that the next test is crucial in the context of one's academic and professional career, even if mastery of information for said test will in no way produce tangible benefit to one's future occupation. It seems to me that one ought to study for the joy of learning as well as preparation for a way to make money--so long as making money is neccessary for one to eat; I'm thinking of a way around this.
High school boys score higher than girls on the SAT, particularly on the math section. Experts say that is both because the timed multiple-choice questions play to boys' strengths and because more middling female students take the test. Boys also score slightly better on the math and science sections of national assessment tests. On the same assessments, 12th-grade boys, even those with college-educated parents, do far worse than girls on reading and writing.
Goodness I hate the "experts say" facade to hide a glaringly embarrassing interpretation of facts. The reason men score higher on math and science sections of the SAT is because men are better than women when it comes to math and sciences. Notice that the "experts" had nothing to say about women's scores in reading and writing. Such an egregious double standard is what now passes for journalism.
Ms. Smyers, also at American, said she recently ended a relationship with another student, in part out of frustration over his playing video games four hours a day.
"He said he was thinking of trying to cut back to 15 hours a week," she said. "I said, 'Fifteen hours is what I spend on my internship, and I get paid $1,300 a month.' That's my litmus test now: I won't date anyone who plays video games. It means they're choosing to do something that wastes their time and sucks the life out of them."Now this one is just funny. First, if she will take me up on my offer, I will gladly introduce Ms. Smyers to some of my academic compatriots who would opine that playing fifteen hours a week must have meant a very rigorous work week to allow so little time for gaming. Second, as almost every American man in her age bracket plays some amount of video games, she might be lacking in dates. It's a good thing she has an internship that allows her to make money, though I might add that economic success is not a surefire indicator of a life well lived.
I could go on, but I've other reading and writing to do. The modern American female is a peculiar creature indeed. I wish the best of luck to those that are intent on the course of partaking fully in the corporate rat race. Meanwhile, I'll be waiting for a charming lass that attaches the proper significance to an internship, and isn't so drunk on ambition as to mind staying home and raising our children.
Sometimes the wait seems like it might take a while.
Also, there is this.
I spent last semester on co-op, working for the man. Meanwhile, my good friend Chris took a passionate liking to the Catholic Church that serves the students of Michigan Tech, the school from whence we both hail. He has since, somewhat to my surprise, taken charge of organizing Friday Night Fireside Fellowship. More surprisingly, I have found myself committed to giving a talk next school year. The subject of my talk will be Paradoxes in Christianity, or something to that effect. I plan to draw heavily from my dear friend Mr. G.K. Chesterton, who has been affectionately dubbed “The Prince of Paradox”.
Although I am to give a talk, and plan on speaking extemporaneously, by habit I am a writer and not a speaker. Thus I am laying out my thoughts in essay form, to be published herein when completed. Until then...