Monday, January 30, 2023

on different types of "racism" and discrimination

Kudos to Van Jones for saying something outside the box and trying to get to something more nuanced. But in the end, his ideas don't satisfy for other reasons. 
I suspect the underlying problem is a.) using the same word (racism) to describe two dissimilar things: the universal, generally helpful, but potentially damaging/mistaken practice of stereotyping (in this case, by race) and a preference for/against people of a certain race (bigotry/animus or favoritism); or b.) assuming that bigotry toward someone who happens to be in group X is simply and mostly/completely explained by bigotry toward group X.

The possibility of "animus" against someone in my own group simply for being in my group is self-contradictory. Seeing it in five people at once is incoherent. (So, the five cops also hate each other?) And even if it's somehow true, then it ends up explaining everything and nothing. Instead, I gotta go with a more "nuanced" theory as per Jones: the list you provided above, stereotyping, or maybe closest to what Jones is trying to get at-- a more-focused bigotry toward miscreants who represent groups to which I belong (a cousin of the 3rd Commandment!), etc.
For those who are interested, links to my two most recent essays on stereotyping here and here...

Saturday, January 28, 2023

categories of selective perspectives on government as an ethical and practical means to various ends

I recently read a piece connecting the War in Iraq to the mRNA vaccines. It reminded me of the common inconsistencies we see in the average layperson's "political philosophy"-- as people think govt is unethical and impractical in one or more areas, but then they imagine it must be different in other realms (or it's ok as long as they control the power). Broadly speaking...

A Statist is one who through ignorance or religion imagines that the State is usually really good at wielding power.

A Conservative is one who thinks the State is generally terrible at wielding power, except in terms of social matters and probably foreign policy.

A Liberal is one who thinks the State is generally bad at wielding power in military and social matters, but fond of their efforts in the economy.

A Libertarian who thinks the state is generally bad on ethical and practical grounds in all of these areas, preferring a minimal state that lets people do what they want, as long as they don't do direct and significant harm to others.

There aren't many people in any of the above categories. Most folks are mere partisans, a moderate mush of policy positions, or apathetic-- since it's quite rational to spend so little time on public policy and a coherent political philosophy. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

violence, lies and their interdependence

Violence and lies. Dragon/lion and serpent. State power and cultural seduction. All key biblical themes that work their way throughout world history and everyday life-- independently but mostly together.

As Solzhenitsyn notes, violence is an attractive means to various (mostly ungodly) ends. But "violence ages swiftly, a few years pass—and it is no longer sure of itself. To prop itself up, to appear decent, it will without fail call forth its ally—Lies. For violence has nothing to cover itself with but lies, and lies can only persist through violence. And it is not every day and not on every shoulder that violence brings down its heavy hand: It demands of us only a submission to lies, a daily participation in deceit—and this suffices as our fealty.

And therein we find, neglected by us, the simplest, the most accessible key to our liberation: a personal nonparticipation in lies! Even if all is covered by lies, even if all is under their rule, let us resist in the smallest way: Let their rule hold not through me! And this is the way to break out of the imaginary encirclement of our inertness, the easiest way for us and the most devastating for the lies. For when people renounce lies, lies simply cease to exist. Like parasites, they can only survive when attached to a person."

Monday, January 16, 2023

MLK and flawed heroes

On MLK Jr. Day, I'm reflecting on "cancel culture" and its impact on interpreting our nation's heroes. We celebrate them not for the sins they've committed, but the great things they have done.

On the Right, it doesn't matter (enough) to cancel MLK for his philandering or ignorance on economics and political economy. For those on the Left, do you really want to cancel past heroes because of (big) mistakes? If so, have you jettisoned Darwin, Sanger, Wilson, etc.-- and are you willing to part with MLK or others in the future?

Related: it's fascinating that the Bible portrays its heroes with warts. Aside from Daniel and Joshua/Caleb (and of course, the God-Man Jesus), all of the significant players have significant flaws. Why? Ultimately, Judaism and Christianity are not about our flaws, but God's grace and redemption-- and our decision to repent and embrace the gift and to become involved with His works of redemption.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

MAYTAG is terrible

I plan to remind you daily how terrible MAYTAG is (and thus, WHIRLPOOL) until our Washer gets fixed. (And I look forward to working them into my textbook revision and using them as a classroom example for years to come.)

We bought a turd at LOWE's in February and I'd hope they could do better, but their hands seem mostly tied. Increasing trouble until useless in December. Contacted Maytag on 12/27, repair attempted by pros on 1/3; basic part ordered 1/5; now told that it may be 21 business days (early February). Along the way, long waits, incompetence and hassle from MAYTAG's customer service.

A complaint on FB generated some noise but no discernment movement. After a complaint to the BBB, things got rolling. We were given an extra year of warranty-- and the machine was finally fixed on February 14 (50 days from the start of this debacle). 

Feel free to share stories or wisdom below.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Father Stu, Sandman (Season 1, Episode 6), Stranger Things (S4, E4), and the Gospel

Father Stu is definitely a film to see, at least for believers. A compelling story in three acts, with solid acting of quirky characters by Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, and Jacki Weaver. Provocative on redemption, forgiveness, concerns about reputation vs. character, and the role of suffering in our walk with Christ. Wow.


I tried The Sandman, but it was somewhere between creepy and too-far-off-for-me-to-watch. (I forget exactly why it bugged me.) But I read a review that said Episode 6 was golden-- that it "ranks among the single most profound episodes of television produced in the streaming era". So, I gave that a shot-- and it was deeply moving (in the first half) and provocative (in the second half).

Bottom line: I agree with the reviewer and strongly recommend it. (You don't need to know the series to follow along. But in case it helps: Morpheus' sister is, quite obviously, Death. And then there's a cameo by Desire at the end.)

Finally working through Season 4 of Stranger Things. It's been good so far, but not nearly as good as I remember Seasons 1-3. Not sure if it's diminishing marginal returns or it's just not as good. BUT... Episode 4's focus on Max is golden. Staggering on what unrepentant sin does to us and how it distances us from others-- and the power of honesty/candor, repentance, and community.

The lyrics of ST's theme song used in the climactic scene point to Christ: "If I only could, I'd make a deal with God. And I'd get him to swap our places." He has offered to swap places with us! With recognition of sin and repentance, the offer of grace is there to take. If you're not already in the goodness of God's Kingdom, accept the swap of grace today and join robust biblical community (Acts 2:37-47). If you're in the Kingdom and fooling around with Vecna or wasting your time on distractions, join me in a fervent pursuit of discipleship with Jesus, understanding and living out God's word, through the Spirit.