Tag Archives: Culture

Not Once In A Century

Bill Whittle at PJTV on the real enemies of American exceptionalism and our failure to really progress in the last several decades.

I would add that there has been great progress in the last decades, but it hasn’t been progress of all of humanity, it has been the progress of the individual.

Our progress has turned internal, how do we extend our lives, how do we gain more pleasure, how do we work less.

The problem with this selfish progress is that while it benefits us physically it harms us emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Because modern science denies what it cannot touch, it cannot believe in a non-chemical or non-physical aspect of a person. What it cannot believe in, it will not work to protect.

Our culture worships hedonism and this will be our undoing as a culture.

And yet, time still remains for action, for duty, for brave acts countermanding the inevitable decline of American and Western civilization.

While the hour is late, individual lives can be changed. And individual lives change other lives, until the culture itself is righted in a correctly normative state of community interdependence and moral backbone.

Manly Men & Womenly Women

A manly man and his womanly wife
A manly man and his womanly wife

I enjoy comfortable clothes as much as or possibly more so than the next guy, but comfortable jeans just weren’t my style for the longest time. I liked dockers and other casual pants much more than I liked jeans for most of my teenage years and into my young adulthood.

Not that I had much fashion sense much of that time. I wore dark socks with leather sandals a few times. And white socks with dark shoes. And stripes with patterns. And numerous other faux pas.

Partly is was for comfort. But mostly it was because I cared both for being comfortable and for being classy. Eventually I learned enough to stop mostly succeeding at the former while mostly failing at the latter.

Apparently that goal of the good look isn’t my unique trait.

Thank heavens for that. I really didn’t need another way to be unique.

The New York Times has an article about how young males are once again discovering the benefits of sharp dressing. Personally, I gain self-confidence from knowing I can hold my own, stylistically, against any comers. While the NY Times article doesn’t so much delve into the why, it explores the cultural icons which are leading the charge and the reactions and possible paths this change will take.

“I think it’s a reaction against the homogeneity of casual wear,” said Gordon Henderson, the design director of Topman. “There’s nowhere to go with that in terms of personality, whereas a suit sets you apart. And now there are suits that are cut for young people. There’s never been that before, so it’s new to them.”

In a twist, neckties are being sold at the very place that did more than any other to usher in casual Friday: Gap. Not to be outdone, American Apparel now sells bow ties.

The NY Times article mentions that this current shift seems primarily found among young men, and is not currently influencing young ladies. A college professor sees this divide in his classrooms:

(T)he younger generation is looking at getting dressed up and making their mark,” Mr. Cohen continued. “It’s a real generation gap here. I teach at three different colleges, and I am amazed how dressed up some of the students are. Girls still come in their hoodies and pajamas, but boys come in their suits.”

In our culture today the man is the boor, the pig, the neanderthal. As a man I resent that perception of incompetence and brutishness. Many women in our culture are quick to disparage (thankfully my wife is not such a woman) and denigrate the men in the culture, reinforcing stereotypes and typecasts which do nothing but discourage those men who do try.

If I’m supposed to be such a boor, why be anything else. After all, it’s what people expect of me.

The Art of Manliness, a blog I heartily recommend to all men, and women, digs deeper into this perceived disparity and the changes which are percolating through the culture.

Asking what manly men can expect from women, the Art of Manliness posted marital rating scales from the 1930’s. The men’s rating scale is not far from what is expected of men today:

  • Doesn’t ogle other women
  • Compliments his wife frequently
  • Takes his wife on regular dates
  • Is neat and clean
  • Does not compare his wife with other women

Any woman would claim to be happy were they married to a man meeting those criteria.

But if you were to expect any kind of reciprocal effort from the wife and woman, you’re immediately labeled a sexist. And to be labeled sexist is to have your life ruined, so deeply has this disparity influenced our culture.

And don’t begin with the “We women have been working hard for you men already, we don’t need to improve” or the “You’ve got so far to catch up to us, we needn’t make any effort.”

Both people in a relationship have personal work, which supports the ability of the individuals to continue in the relationship, and relational work, which supports and builds the relationship itself.

Expectations for men were lowered at the same time expectations for women were shifted into what was previously the men’s responsibility. Not their privilege, their responsibility. Now men are raising their own achievements back to where they’ve been classically, women need to allow men to be men and cease this snark and this constant tearing down.

The Art of Manliness is careful to note that men are not trying to man up in order to be please women or to seek their approval. That is not strength but weakness.

Men are manning up because it is the right and honorable and worthwhile thing to do.

But these days a new double standard has emerged where it’s okay to celebrate men manning up, but telling women they need to recover some of their femininity is offensive. To wit:A woman telling a man to stop looking like a slob and dress up. Awesome!
A man telling a woman to stop looking like a slob and take care of herself. Sexist!
Saying that men should stop hooking up with women. Awesome!
Saying that women should stop sleeping around. Sexist!
Saying that men should get off the couch and go to work. Awesome!
Saying that a woman should be nurturing with kids. Sexist!
Saying that men should take the initiative in relationships. Awesome!
Saying that a woman should let the man lead (ever!). Sexist!

There is more there, and it is a good and though provoking read.

There really are consequences to every idea, and something as culture changing as women’s liberation has some incredible consequences which deserve to be thought through thoroughly.

More Important Things: Christmas Greetings

A Holiday Tree?
A Holiday Tree?

It’s Christmas time, or the holidays are upon us, again. And predictably, Christians and traditionalists are duking it out with many in the broader culture regarding whether or not the correct greeting is “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”.

Technically, in common usage a holiday is any day free of regular work or school. Labor Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving are all holidays. So to use “Happy Holidays” only for Christmas and New Years could be said to apply an undeserved exclusivity to the greeting.

“Merry Christmas” does more accurately convey any season-specific good wishes with this particular season. Due to cultural norms, to say “Merry Christmas” is not necessarily to admit an obeisance to and acceptance of the Christ, the historic and real reason for the season.

But is it an issue big enough to build a stink over?

I would argue it is not.

In the same way as Christians we can see our culture building itself into the biggest frenzy every Christmas as a tacit recognition of the primacy the event of Christmas is to our world, we can see the use of the term “Holiday” as a tacit recognition of nature of the day as a Holy Day.

This is, admittedly, an “I’ll take what I can get” perspective. However, I would balance that with a question: Can we expect the masses of non-Christians to act in a Christian way or recognize Christian position beyond what is habitual and cultural in their life?

Culture changes. It just happens. That is an amoral principle of the world and human existence. It is not inherently evil that change occurs. Sometimes change is good, and sometimes it is bad.

We live in a post-Christian culture in America and in much of the rest of western civilization. We are surrounded by remnants of Christian influence but for the broader culture, these trappings are tradition, and either do not have religious significance or are thought less of because of their religious roots.

The fact that Christmas is still celebrated with such gusto, even if much of it is driven by cynical and selfish pursuits, should be heartwarming to all Christians.

There are bigger and more important things than that Walmart or Target allow the Salvation Army bell ringers outside their doors or greet you with “Merry Christmas”.

A person can enter heaven without once having uttered the word “Christmas” or having rung the bell or put spare and paltry change into the red pots.

A person cannot enter heaven without having accepted the Christ’s sacrifice as a human and God to pay the just penalty for their sins.

Christmas is an option. A good option. But it is not essential to salvation, nor even to evangelism.

I fear that by arguing over non-essentials, we Christians marginalize ourselves in the eyes of the surrounding culture. If the culture wearies of our crying over small things, when we cry over something big, they’ll disregard it. Yes, the boy who cried “wolf!” is a parable applicable to evangelism and salvation.

One final argument is taken from Jesus’ own words that Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. The person and their intent and action is more important than the name we use for a given holiday.

Respond to “Happy Holidays” with “And I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too”, showing by your genuine love and care that you are a person with their best interest at heart. Only you will know deep inside your heart that their best interest through the river of the blood of the baby born so long ago whose birth we celebrate globally today in the biggest, most amazingly awesome birthday party, who walked this earth teaching and who gave up His own life willingly, dying so the rest of us can live in His righteousness.

Don’t send someone else to hell because you are quibbling over how they recognize a holiday.

Priorities Of Preservation

There is a push today to limit human suffering, to prevent any pain from occurring at all. This cringing drive is so rabid that a father sues his daughters’ school when she is stung by a bee on the school yard. There are schools refusing to allow recess, there are schools sanitizing their play equipment, removing anything which may remotely cause any risk. The schools don’t have a choice, the parents will sue them out of existence if their children encounter the slightest discomfort.

This issue here is contained in the fundamental difference in perspective cause by a proper understanding of mans inherent value before a creator God. A humanist will not

Compare this to the lifestyle lived by many Christians seeking to save the soul and the mind. In God’s design the body is temporary, it dies, but the soul is immortal, it is freed from the body by death and lives forever. To a Christian, more important than the body is the soul. A Christian may be called to give up their life, literally or figuratively, to save peoples’ souls. A Christian does not discount the value of a body. You find Christians at the forefront of most of the humanitarian efforts around the world, seeking to protect the bodies of millions of human lives, regardless of whether or not those being protected are Christian or not. The Christian seeks to preserve the body because under God we are all equally valuable, and because the body is the corporeal home of a soul which either needs saving or has a life to live and purposes yet to accomplish.

The world seeks to preserve the body, while summarily dismissing the mind, allowing anything whatsoever to creep its way into the receptive, untrained recesses. And even then they desire to allow anything we want to be used on our body, so long as we do the choosing. We can choose abortion, we can choose drugs, we can choose tattoos, just so long as we do the choosing. It is a matter of control. God is God, He holds choice in His hands. He allows us to choose all the time, but there are many times He chooses for us,for His glory, for our good. Mankind does not want God to choose for us. All of nature are God’s tools, and He wields Nature for the furthering of His plans. As we seek to limit the influence of God over our lives we will find Nature rising up and thwarting our plans, exerting His control over us.

I love butterflies. I have lots of experience with butterflies. I worked over the course of 2 or 3 consecutive summers for a local butterfly farm in my home town. We bred and raised monarch butterflies and sold them for weddings funerals, graduations, research, etc… There is a crucial stage of every butterflies development when the caterpillar has grown to the right maturity level it crawls to the underside of the leaf in the wild or our special rearing containers in the lab and in a weird jerking dance encloses itself in a chrysalis. The caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis, a fundamental change in it’s very nature and emerges and beautiful and brilliant butterfly. The escape from the chrysalis is one of the most important passages in its brief life. Without this struggle the butterfly will die. With the metamorphosis complete the chrysalis turns transparent and the orange and black wings are scrunched against the body in the little space left by the bulging abdomen of the butterfly. The butterfly braces itself against the chrysalis wall and pushes until the skin of the chrysalis breaks at the butterflies shoulders. The butterfly pulls itself with great difficulty out of the chrysalis shell and hangs from it, pumping its wings slowly it pushes the fluids from it’s distended abdomen into its wings, inflating them slowly until they are stiff and straight.

If the butterfly were to fall too easily out of the chrysalis, it would not have the strength to pump its wings full of the fluid. The stunted wings would hang limply in a bundle at the doomed insects side and it will die. There is not an option here. The butterfly either engages in an intense and painful struggle or it dies.

We as humans need pain and need struggles to grow many times. Pain and discomfort serve many purposes and there is no way I can explore all of them here. Pain can mean we’re human and we live in a physical world. It is a sensation, a feeling. A bee sting means that we offended a bee and he is willing to give his life in order to offend us a little. Pain can be a warning. A hot stove burns us and we are careful not to put out hands there again. Pain can be growth. The aches and pains of childhood as our bodies stretch to new and unfamiliar heights are not bad, but merely a sign that we’ll not be looking quite so far up at the rest of the world very much longer. Pain is not bad, it is an indicator, a sign.

And yet, in spite of the necessity and normalcy, the elite of our culture push for protection of the body. Control.

The Christian perspective is different. The soul and the mind are more important because they exist eternally. The body is just a temporary home.

Dead Sexy

In a previous article, Priorities Of Preservation, I discussed the importance Christianity puts on the entirety of an person: body, mind, and spirit.

While the world, in a misguided and myopic view constrained by sin, only really cares for the preservation of the body. And through ignorance, loses the whole person.

In a report released last week which most have already heard of or commented on, it was noted that 1/4 of the US Teenage Female population is infected with one of several Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

The immediate cry was that Abstinence Education must be completely abandoned and further explanation of the ins and outs of safe sex be taught to every child.

I find those making that argument to be their own worst enemies, and I am determined to sit and watch them tear themselves apart trying to make sense of what they’ve said.

Better have a good belt to hold these sides in. The problem is, this is no laughing matter: peoples lives are at stake.
At the blog dbTechno (“Providing Science And Technology News Since 1996”) under the headline “Teens Having Sex, Getting STD’s Due To Lack Of Knowledge” (strongly caution) there is a small picture of three bikini-clad young women shaking their derrières before the camera. This was the picture Google had selected on it’s news aggregator to highlight the several articles on this topic this morning.

In our sexified culture it is considered “emancipated” for a woman to be so “comfortable” with her sexuality that she feels willing to flaunt her body either scantily clothed or free of clothes before the whole world.

I don’t think that it is a sign of a healthy self-image that women are willing and even choose to clothe themselves that way.

I am not for arbitrary requirements in clothing, but it is saddening that, younger and younger, we are compelling out daughters and sisters to choose between frumpy and scandalous.

Removing their modesty with bits of lycra and spandex.

Revealing their bodies for the eyes of all the world.

And then we worry that too many of them are having sex.

I think a healthy self image will result in true self-worth, where the woman will not feel compelled to dress “sexy” to get the approval and acceptance of others.

When a woman is dressing revealingly they are revealing their insecurity, not their assuredness.

The Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board this morning published an article titled “Abstinence-Only Education Needs To Go” (no scandalous images here) in which they completely demolish their own claims, twice.

First, early in the article they lay claim to the moral high ground:

From here, it would be easy to play the blame game. But that would be unproductive. It doesn’t matter if you’re the pro-sex education or abstinence-only type, the statistics speak for themselves, and what matters most is that something be done to make our children more sexually responsible and safe.

And then, in the very next paragraph:

Let’s start with re-tooling the failed abstinence-only approach backed by the Bush administration. Let’s teach teenagers about contraceptives and other precautions that could help protect them if they are sexually active.

Yes, lets avoid the blame game, and lets look at the facts. The Bush Administration has indeed backed and supported an abstinence-only education approach, because no one who practices abstinence contracts an STD, no one. It make sense to back a winner. But how many education programs has the Bush Administrations policy actually affected? Good question.

I would be willing to bet that with state policy, and NEA policy, and DoE policy, there is precious little abstinence-only education going on in the public schools of America.

The article then goes on to make an astounding statement. I very nearly cheered, at work, when I read this:

Abstinence teaching has its merits. It not only promotes a sure-proof defense against STDs and unwanted pregnancies, but also the idea that sexual activity requires a high level of maturity and understanding. An adolescent who engages in “protected” sex prematurely may not run the risk of physical infections, but could be exposed to long-term emotional and psychological damage.

And then gets to the…

BOTTOM LINE: Place more emphasis on contraceptives and STDs in sex-education classes.

And they reached that how?

With this simple caveat they have attempted to justify their entire tortured argument, and by extension, rationalize their continued support for the torture of young minds and bodies with illness both physical and psychological:

Like it or not, half of the teenage girls in this country are already sexually active, according to the study. Something has to be done to make them wiser in their choices, or we soon could have an even bigger public health crisis on our hands.

Do they not see the cruel irony?

Because we’re a bunch hapless, helpless dolts who’ve bought the lie that children are capable of making their own informed decisions regarding sex and mature relationships.

Because we’re a bunch of laissez-faire non-present parental units who feel no particular responsibility to counter the culture’s claims that boys are animals and girls are meat.

Because we’re a bunch of lazy do-gooders who value intentions over actions and outcomes and are willing to allow our children to do whatever they please so long as it makes them feel good.

We will complete ignore what we already know to be true: that premature involvement in adult relationships, emotional and physical, will not only harm the body but will also damage the mind.

So long as we tell enough of them to use condoms, we are perfectly willing to let them hop into bed with any yahoo or floozy who comes along.

Yea, that’s advanced society and parental love for you.

See also:

The Condom Conspiracy: Sex, Lies, STIs and Teenage Girls – the evangelical outpost

While we have Planned Parenthood and sex educators claiming that condoms can “offer effective protection against most serious sexually transmitted infections” the report finds there’s no scientific basis for that claim.

STD Data Comes As No Surprise, Area Teenagers Say – Laura Sessions Stepp and Katherine Shaver in the Washington Post

The Marrow girls offered several reasons why teenagers have sex.

“It’s to fit in, peer pressure,” Christine said, noting that virgins are often mocked. Also, “sex sells on TV.”

Khadijah chimed in that some young girls found their inspiration in the popular R&B singer Rihanna, whose latest album is titled “Good Girl Gone Bad.”

But Christina suggested something closer to home. “Write this down,” she said. “Bad parenting.”