Nonsense Makes Things Difficult
I was watching a conversation unfold on Facebook about religion, dating, and traditional values in marriages — brought on by some reality tv star entering into some sort of courtship relationship. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that a return to these “old ways” was obviously good, but one participant was concerned about the age difference between the young man and the young woman:
it’s problematic to have a 20-year-old girl with an 18-year-old boy. I’d advise against it. In our increasingly feminized society, men need some age advantage to lead when young, I think.
Pretty much none of this made any sense to me and, when I intruded on the conversation to ask what in the world this all meant, I received no reply.
But a friend of mine directed me to the “Core Beliefs" of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which contains these points (among many others):
We have been moved in our purpose by the following contemporary developments which we observe with deep concern:
- The widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity;
- the tragic effects of this confusion in unraveling the fabric of marriage woven by God out of the beautiful and diverse strands of manhood and womanhood;
- the increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism with accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives;
- the widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood, vocational homemaking, and the many ministries historically performed by women;
- the growing claims of legitimacy for sexual relationships which have Biblically and historically been considered illicit or perverse, and the increase in pornographic portrayal of human sexuality….
So that’s what’s going on here.
It’s all about the virtues of inequality between men and women, and about the damage done to society by — let’s see — feminism, homosexuality, pornography, egalitarianism, and probably a whole bunch of other things too.
Having thought about it for just a few minutes, I have to say that what bothers me so much about this sort of thing isn’t just all the nonsense about inequality or sexuality. It’s also that it makes it so much more difficult to be a person of faith today because you constantly have to deal with the perception that you have a connection to or relationship with this kind of nonsense.
Over at Think Progress, my friend Zack Beauchamp hammers last night’s “True Detective” finale:
The biggest reveal at the end of “Form And Void” had nothing to do with Marty Hart, Rust Cohle, or the Yellow King. It was that True Detective was a failure.
Not that the show wasn’t brilliantly acted, beautifully directed, and pulse-poundingly tense. The finale was all of those things, in the last case literally (my viewing partner actually timed out his rapid heartbeat). Rather, “Form And Void” revealed True Detective to be a sham in the worst way: a show that pretended to be about ideas on everything ranging from the nature of evil to institutional misogyny didn’t have any.
I agree with the review, especially as I was never as much of a fan of the way the show was unfolding as Beauchamp seemed to be. Indeed, from the eighth episode of the show, I got exactly what I was expecting: Metaphysical mumbo jumbo from Rust Cohle; some sort of vindication for Marty; heroics for both as former cops; and an unsatisfying conclusion to the murder mystery.
As Beauchamp points out, the unresolved questions are piled one atop the next:
who was in on the conspiracy to cover up Errol Childress’ crimes? Was a U.S. Senator one of the five men whose rape and murder of young women was so violent that watching a tape of it reduced hardened cops to inchoate screaming? What, exactly, was the point of all of these ritual murders? If “Carcosa” was simply Errol’s name for his twisted playground, how did so many people know about it and The Yellow King? Was there life beyond death, as the elderly woman in episode 7 said, or were we living in Rust’s godless world?
Many critics were left unsatisfied because the finale failed to address questions of metaphysics or the role of women, or that it completely left behind the unreliable narrators of the previous episodes to focus only on resolving the present-day plot. I didn’t really expect that stuff to be on offer because creator Nic Pizzolatto said, explicitly, that he wasn’t trying to surprise or trick people with the plot of the show. But for an eight-episode crime drama anchored around a serial killer, I was hoping, at least, that it would be tightly constructed, that the major issues raised by Beauchamp above would see some sort of resolution (or at least discussion).
A number of fans responded to Beauchamp’s piece and claimed that he missed the point of the show, that it was about mood and tone or about two characters and their brokenness. I’m sympathetic to that argument, actually, but it doesn’t resolve the plot problems.
"True Detective" did an admirable job of highlighting the ways in which Hart and Cohle are both fundamentally broken men. Cohle’s last monologue, about his deceased family members, is particularly powerful in that regard. But the finale fell flat because, like the first episodes that bored me nearly to sleep, it skewed too much in one direction while ignoring anything else. Those first episodes were all about establishing mood and tone; it was a set up for the shocking revelation of Reggie Ledoux (about whom we’ve entirely forgotten by the eighth episode).
The first forty minutes of the finale were given over entirely to resolving (part of) the plot; the final fifteen minutes went entirely to the two heroes and their brokenness. This meant that the unresolved plot elements remained unresolved so we could return to focusing on the two characters at the center of the drama. But why does one necessarily need to be sacrificed for the other? Why couldn’t we get Cohle’s concluding monologue along with some sort of resolution to the murder mystery? Why does Hart need to be restored — in some sense, at least — to his family; what is achieve by it? Or, if you want to leave the final episode alone, why couldn’t parts of episodes six and seven deal thoughtfully with the cult/conspiracy or Hart’s wife and daughters or Errol’s motivations?
This is where I think the show ultimately fell down: Pizzolatto’s decision to resolve the central serial killer plot in just forty minutes of an eight hour story arc and to jettison a host of questions in favor of repeating the well-worn notion that these cops are the broken men we thought they were (but who, when all is said and done, also end up relatively unscatched and lauded as heroes).
thepoliticalbreakdown asked: Do you know how or why it is some articles get marked with a "special" blue politics tag? It's happened to my work a few times and when it does, they seem to get more visibility. I'm not sure how it works, though.
A few years ago, Tumblr created a number of curated tags. Or, rather, they turned uncurated tags into curated ones and put people in charge of stocking them with featured posts. One of them is “Politics” and there are certain posts — usually at least ten each day, sometimes as many as fifty — that allow Tumblr users who follow the Politics tag to see a diversity of posts they might not ordinarily see; these tags are also a good way to find new blogs, by following the people whose posts are featured and by following the editors.
Some of the editors are employed in some way by Tumblr; some are volunteer editors who are asked by Tumblr to curate the tag. I’m one such volunteer. I’ve been doing it — shockingly — for two years now (which seems like a pretty long time, especially because I think I was asked to do it for six months or something like that). When I see an interesting post, I can click a button and “promote” the post to the Politics tag; this is how the post gets the highlighted blue Politics tag on it that people might see in their dashboard; it also sends the post over to the Politics tag and people who follow the tag might see a notification in their Search bar to let them know that there’s a new post to be seen at the tag’s page. That’s how the posts get more visibility.
Here’s a post I wrote back when I was first asked to be a volunteer editor; it’s about how I plan to use my powers for good and also some problems I have with the way the whole curated tag system works. I think it holds up pretty well.
Last week, former Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins was speaking at a Christian high school in Michigan and was asked about the possibility of sharing a locker room with an openly gay teammate.
So from a football standpoint, if the guy can help us win, come help us win. Now, there are a lot of teammates in my locker room right now who may not have a homosexual lifestyle, but they have sins, too. They’re not perfect. So I don’t say they can’t help us win. Nobody’s perfect.
To that degree, we’d welcome him into our locker room and say come help us win, and hopefully I can love him like Jesus and hopefully show him what it means to follow Jesus.
A lot of sports websites and blogs jumped on Cousins’ comments to highlight what seems to be obvious intolerance both within the NFL and from Christians.
But I wonder if there isn’t at least a little bit more going on here.
It’s well-known that Cousins is a football player who is outspoken about his Christianity, someone likely to want to proselytize at any opportunity. He’s speaking here to young men at a Christian high school.
The best thing he could say is that everyone is equal in his eyes and, if you can play, you’re welcome on the team. The worst thing he could say is that homosexuality is an abomination and he would never have anything to do with someone who is gay.
What he said, instead, was pretty much exactly what I’d expect: A little bit of the best possible thing he could say, something that sounds close to the worst thing he could say. Taken all together, it amounts to exactly what Cousins has heard thousands of times in the churches he frequents: "Love the sinner, hate the sin."
While this is certainly not what I think of as progressive, my guess is that many people in the crowds Cousins addresses would see it that way. He can do a whole lot better, clearly, but there’s a possibility for real improvement already contained in his statement. Rather than worrying quite so much about teaching his imperfect teammates about Jesus, he might work on his own imperfections and blind spots so that he’s actually living a more loving and less judgmental life himself.
The guy’s not going to stop being outspoken about his Christianity, but that doesn’t mean he’s always going to believe what he believes today about homosexuality being an “imperfection” like, say, adultery or cursing your parents. It might be that, rather than condemning Cousins for where he is today, we could find ways to work with him so as to speed him along toward the place we’d like for him to reach.
HT: Marcus Sanborn.
I participated in my first Pidyon Ha’Ben ceremony today.
For those who aren’t familiar with the whole concept of Pidyon Ha’Ben, here’s some info straight from Wikipedia:
According to the traditional rabbinic interpretation, in the early part of the Bible, as recorded in the Book of Genesis, the duties of a priest fell upon the eldest son of each family. The first-born was to be dedicated to God in order to perform this task.
Following the Israelite Exodus from Egypt, after the nation had sinned with the Golden Calf, the priesthood was taken away from the first-borns, and given to the tribe of Levites, specifically to the Kohanim, High PriestAaron, his children, and their descendants. At the same time it was instituted that the first born of each family should be redeemed; i.e. they would be ‘bought back’ from the dedication to God that would previously have been required of them.
The ceremony is relatively rare, so I was both honored and very pleased to be asked by good friends of ours here in Omaha who wished to redeem their first-born son by offering me some sheqalim in exchange for him. I was happy to oblige in making the trade and the cantor from our synagogue helped out to make the ceremony a really beautiful one:
The Shulkhan Arukh states that when a Jewish woman gives birth to a firstborn male by natural means, then the child must be “redeemed”. The father of the child must “redeem” the child from a known Kohen representing the original Temple priesthood, for the sum of five silver Shekels, or equivalent in country’s currency (if it has silver currency of the correct weight). The procedure does not apply when the father is a Kohen or Levite, and does not normally apply when the mother is the daughter of one.
As “a known Kohen,” my grandfather participated in these ceremonies with some frequency for many years; I felt a particular connection with him today in taking part in my first.
It seems my blog turned 5 years old today!
Here’s what I wrote in my very first post five years ago:
I really don’t have the time to start blogging, but I’m being pushed in that direction. I’m not sure if this site will make things easier, more difficult, or something in the middle. More on that soon enough…
I didn’t end up posting a whole lot until November 2009; in fact, I think there are about as many posts in November 2009 as in all the previous months of 2009 combined.
Looking back at the archived posts from those first few months of blogging is a good bit of fun. If you’re a relatively new reader, I highly recommend browsing the archive; there are, at this point, nearly 4,000 posts of varying quality for your enjoyment.