Monthly Archives: January 2012
There exists in the Christian world a constant tendency, in moments of various historical catastrophes, to preach with great intensity an immersion in oneself, a withdrawal from life, a standing of the solitary human soul before God.
It seems to me that this state of mind is definitely a temptation, is definitely as terrible for each person as it is for the destiny of the Church of Christ, and I would like to rise against it with all my strength and call all people to each other, to stand together before God, to suffer sorrows together, to resist temptations together.
-St. Maria of Paris
For all you Francophiles out there.
I hate Religion, but love Jesus, and by religion I mean whatever it is you believe that I don’t like, and by Jesus I mean everything I believe. You see, I can feel really good about myself, and pretend I’m really deep and contemplative, if I call my belief system Jesus, instead of religion, and never really think about the fact that I just de-personed Christ, turning Him into some set of feel good beliefs.
I really enjoy dressing in expensive fashionable clothes, prancing around, while filmed by multiple cameras in front of impressive architecture, and spouting off my incredibly lame poetry in time to thematic music. I find this is a great medium for pointing out how you religious people are all about the externals, you hypocrites. You need “Jesus.”
Feeling holy by telling you my sins, I really, really need to make sure that you know I “was” a masturbator. Connecting with my Puritan roots, I preach my being freed of the evils of alcohol and soft drugs, while pointing out that you religious types called Jesus a drunkard. No, I don’t know what drunkard means and I’ve never quite understood the word “irony.”
“We’re not going to kill Big Bird, but Big Bird is going to have advertisements,” Romney said, while speaking at Homer’s Deli in Clinton, Iowa.
-Arts in Crisis
One of my earliest memories of our family home is coming over in the early morning with my dad, to “help” with some household repair or another for my grandparents. The house, dimly lit with morning light, smelt of steak, hash-browns and tobacco. From the kitchen emanated the barely discernible sound of K-“Mozart”, the last of the local privately owned classical radio stations, which fell to “market forces” some years ago.
The last holdout of Schubert, Bach and Chopin on the airwaves of the L.A. metro area is a public institution, precariously funded by philanthropy. This station has long been a fixture in my life, though my knowledge of the arts is woefully inadequate. Unfortunately, the playlist is not broad enough in my opinion, ignoring modern composers, but it provides access to art forms neglected by the free market. Back on the farm, my wife and I spent many a Saturday listening to the weak signal of the weekly Opera broadcast, sometimes while sitting on our garage couch, drinking Val’s jug wine, watching our children play in the garden dirt, whilst amusing ourselves with the obvious cultural contradictions of such a combination of acts. All of this is largely due to the memories of my grandfather, who had an appreciation for high culture, though his class and formal education were far from promoting such a penchant. He was the beneficiary of a time when interventionist economics and relatively undeveloped marketing science provided such opportunities.
One holiday morning, before my first son was born, I woke early to find my visiting niece watching Sponge Bob. It did not take long for me to discern that this sort of show cannot be good for the developing mind. So, with few exceptions, my children have only been allowed to enjoy the offerings of PBS – Caillou, Courious George, Kipper and Shawn the Sheep are their go to shows. My four year old will watch documentaries on machinery as long as we’ll allow, and can lecture an adult at length on the names and uses of construction equipment and trains. Our choice was reinforced when, in a moment of weakness, Val turned on Gabba Gabba for the kids, which I am quite sure made me stupider for the brief moments it lasted, before the children rose up in revolt and demanded Caillou. I now harbor an eternal enmity against the Aquabats, despite my high school love of “CD Repo-man”. So, it is all rather unsurprising that recent research is showing that the bulk of children’s television provided by the free market will rot their little brains, likely necessitating Ritalin lobotomization for them to have the slightest chance of clearing the low bar set by federal standardized tests, let alone think semi-critically.
The recent ongoing spat between Joe Carter of First Things and The Front Porch Republic reveals a good deal about a certain kind of Free Market radical conservatism, which whines consistently about the slow death of art, music, literature and traditional mores, yet cannot abide the thought of solutions that may infringe upon bourgeois property rights, ie, “economic liberty” or likely, plain ol’ “liberty”. It never seems to cross their minds that the reason things continue to get worse, despite their stacking the courts and political offices with their ideologues, is because their ideas are one of the greatest underlying sources of the problem. Indeed, The Front Porch Republic’s Agrarian Socialist is a greater friend to traditions than anyone over at FT, but they cannot even abide the Distributism of John Médaille.
Adding advertisements will without a doubt kill Big Bird. Not only will Romney see him dead, but so will the Dobsonites and the First Thingers, and they will all claim that it is the fault of America’s depraved culture in decline (and likely “Socialism”) but never their Free Market radicalism. They pine for the days when a man like my grandfather, a Gas Company meter reader, listened to and played compositional music, and read science and literature as a pastime, but those days were fleeting, perhaps transitional, and occurred while America was the closest she ever came to Social Democracy.
Many a night I sit at my workbench (pictured above), which serves more as a desk, where I smoke a pipe, using grandpa’s ashtray and contemplating his Van Gogh repo. For a little while, in anger against the loss of the farm, I became hostile towards localists, but I have once again grown to appreciate rootedness and tradition, and the fruits of a little “despotism”.
There was a time when I struggled with this song, and whether or not it is blasphemous to have the thought of forgiving God. In the Christian circles I usually run in, Orthodox and not, it is not uncommon to hear theologizing about the human condition that is influenced, I think, to one degree or another, by Reformed thought. It is out of this context that an acquaintance of mine argued that starving people should rejoice that God gave them mud to eat, for example. I think the whole “we deserve nothing” argument is morally bankrupt on some level, as in the way that my dog deserves nothing from me, yet it would be immoral for me to withhold food from him. In what way, then, would it be moral for God to allow my youngest child nearly starve to death, or allow his hospital roommate remain with a desert trash mother who so obviously neglected him, even if we were to argue that God owes neither of them anything?
In Book V of The City of God, St. Augustine argues that though sin comes only through the will of the sinner, we should still ascribe any suffering from the actions of others to the will of God, as it was God who gave the will to the sinner. The problem of evil has always a source of spiritual anguish for me, and it only became more so when my own life became such a struggle. Whichever line of thought I take, I think at some point or another I just have to trust there is some higher reason, greater purpose.
Sometimes it is necessary to forgive someone who did the right thing. Perhaps occasionally those of us who struggle do need to forgive God, for ourselves, and then maybe we can accept that He didn’t really need forgiving all along.