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Good Christian Music: Nina Simone

April 15, 2012

Is anything more beautiful than this?

Politicians are Slaves to their Ambitions

April 13, 2012

Listen to (or read) the This American Life episode on money in politics, and weep for American democracy.

What stands out to me is how far seemingly powerful politicians will demean themselves in their fund-raising efforts. Yes, they bully and blackmail (and so brazenly!), but they also spend an astonishing amount of time courting lobbyists, begging from strangers, and even exploiting their own friendships. Here’s ex-congressman Walt Minnick:

You essentially wear out your friends and you wear out the people who are your natural supporters, because if someone writes you one check or comes to a fundraiser, they get on a list. And three or four months later you call them back again. And the best thing about being an ex-congressman is my friends now return my phone calls.

 I’m usually inclined to think that Rousseau was too cynical about the state of civilized man (I’m a naive and optimistic person), but I can’t help but admit that he was onto something in saying that ambition and enslavement are connected:
Individuals only allow themselves to be oppressed so far as they are hurried on by blind ambition, and, looking rather below than above them, come to love authority more than independence, and submit to slavery, that they may in turn enslave others.

Good Christian Music: Sufjan Stevens

April 8, 2012

Having Game vs Being Masculine

April 5, 2012

[IBF readers expecting something by Bill Powell: the post you want is here.]

At Complementarian Loners, 7man posted a old and delightfully humourous duet between Rose Lee and Joe Maphis (YT). Then he added this strange comment:

The amount of Game truth shown in this video always make me smile. And Rose Lee appears to be a woman worth taming and her shit tests are endearing.

Manosphere writers are always describing any kind of positive male-female interaction in terms of ‘game.’ This is confused, and also a slander against the many such interactions which are natural and uncalculated.

Conceptually, game is a like a skill or a technique. Skills and techniques are things people can learn and train at. They are essentially different from character traits. As Aristotle pointed out, techniques can be abused, but virtues can’t. In other words, once you learn a skill you can, on the whole, use it for different purposes or even choose not to use it at all. Character traits aren’t like that. So game may allow a man to mimic appealing masculine traits, but it isn’t the same thing as possessing those traits. Various teachers of game implicitly acknowledge this by saying that they are offering tools that can be used for quite different purposes—for example, either for picking up women at clubs, or alternatively for maintaining a marriage.

A man who must employ techniques for manliness is, by definition, a man who lacks those traits. Game is about manipulation, the way all techniques are about manipulation (of something or other). But manliness is a state of character. So don’t say that people are using game unless you mean to say that they *lack* the masculine virtues in question.

Note for clarification: this is a conceptual point. It’s not a criticism of game, though it is a criticism of some of the claims made for game.

Did the Jews Reject Jesus?

April 3, 2012

Skarphedin put up a lengthy skeptical examination of the New Testament over the weekend. It’s refreshing at a time when so many atheists seem happy to rest their case with “religion is stupid!” I intend to work through them one or two at a time over the next month or so.

Today: the Jewish reception of Jesus.

Message poorly prepared. Why was it that God was supposed to have spent all this time preparing Jews and the world for Jesus coming, and yet when he came, the disciples had to twist Jewish scriptures to fit their view of Jesus. God somehow spectacularly failed to clearly prepare his coming, so that Jews still don’t understand how Christians twisted the OT into alignment with their new revelation.

Not being a Christian is a major element of identity for contemporary Jews—and presumably for Jews living at any point after a few centuries from Christ. But did ‘the Jews’ really reject Jesus? Well, religions spread through social networks, and for early Christians, that meant the Jewish diaspora. There were a lot of Jews in the Roman Empire, and many of them did in fact become Christians. Conversion seems to have followed the path of the diaspora, and conversion of Jews continued for four or five centuries.

For all we know, contemporary Jews are basically a hard-core rump of Judaism. Here’s Rodney Stark (Cities of God,chapter 5):

Population data lend further support to the assumption of a very large number of Jewish converts. As noted, the Diasporan Jews constituted at least 10 percent of the total population of the empire, and perhaps as much as 15 percent. Medieval historians estimate that Jews made up only 1 percent of the population of Latin Europe in about the tenth century. Granted, some of that percentage decline was caused by the Islamic conquest of areas having substantial Jewish populations. Nevertheless, the figures also suggest a considerable decline in the Diasporan population during that millennium, which is consistent with there having been a substantial rate of conversion. Nor was the survival of strong synagogues inconsistent with that supposition. Indeed, by peeling away all of the tepid, Hellenized Jews, conversion to Christianity would have left an increasingly orthodox, highly committed Jewish community, a community ideally constituted to sustain obdurate resistance to Christianization.

Now I should say that even if the vast majority of Jews did in fact reject Jesus, I wouldn’t really be bothered by that. One of the major themes of the OT is Israel’s constant faithlessness. If many were called but only a few chosen, that would almost be more consistent with the OT than otherwise. At this point the question could only be: why does God not reveal himself more openly to more people/everyone? Which is a fair question, but a different one.

Good Christian Music: Sam Phillips

April 1, 2012

Men Should Display Jealousy

March 31, 2012

Men hate it when their girlfriends or wives talk about, or communicate with, exes. But a lot of guys seem to think that showing jealousy will somehow betray insecurity (which is not particularly appealing to women), so that they should always play things cool and pretend to be unfazed. And of course people just generally tend to see jealousy as a ‘bad’ emotion, full of pettiness and resentment.

Well, tell that to God:

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20: 4–5)

This is a righteous jealousy, and the proper model for a man’s attitude towards his wife. A woman wants to offer this kind of devotion to her husband anyway, so why not expect it?

Of course you should be direct and firm about it rather than huffy and resentful. But the reason men get huffy and resentful about their jealousy is because they were afraid to say anything about it in the first place and finally couldn’t keep it from boiling over. The error lies in the fear and the lashing out, not in the jealousy itself.

Women shouldn’t feel bad about admitting jealousy either. Done right, it’s endearing.

Men and the Evangelical Church

March 30, 2012

Will S. of Patriactionary directed my attention to Bwana Simba, a fairly new blogger who’s documenting his experience of misandry in evangelical churches. This passage resonated with me:

It has gotten to the point where I no longer go to church, as I have yet to see one that draws in strong men.  I even hate going to my college Christian groups and typically skip the message and singing simply to get right to the social atmosphere as I believe nothing said is healthy.  I have seen strong and wild men filled with spirit go into churches and church groups and come out docile, nice, spiritually lifeless and filled with self-hatred.  Simply put, I do not believe God is in the church anymore.

I hate attending evangelical churches. I almost invariably find that the only thing of any value is the socializing. Sermons are emotive but lacking in content; the worship is even worse; and I find myself filled with contempt for the other men in the building for even putting up with it (though I admit that’s not a very Christian of me).

Start with the worship music. Here’s Blessed Be Your Name, chosen pretty much at random from the CCLI chart of the top worship songs.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

There’s plenty of emotive first- and second-person language here, but absolutely nothing here for the analytic (male) mind to latch onto. Perhaps a man can endure that. But he could not sing Tim Hughes’ Here I am to Worship without demeaning himself:

Light of the world, You step down into darkness.
Opened my eyes let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore you hope of a life spent with you.

And here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you’re my God,
You’re altogether lovely,
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me.

I hesitate even to allow that this is genuine worship. There is a difference between saying “I worship you” and actually worshipping. Compare, for example, the first stanza of How Great Thou Art:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder
Consider all The worlds Thy Hands hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout The universe displayed;

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

This classic begins by actually observing powerful demonstations of God’s glory, and not by merely saying “oh, you’re great.” Moderns worship music rarely does it this. It cultivates an entirely artificial emotional state through repetition and introspection, rather than by invoking a sense of wonder through concrete ideas. That’s not good for women either, but it’s plainly insulting to men. (Yes, ‘men’ wrote these songs, which just goes to show what everyone already knows: church guys are sissies.)

I’ll pass over sermons, because they’re pretty similar: lots of “here’s how any given passage is about your life this week“—which is sheer pandering to women.

But nothing reveals the sorry state of the evangelical male like is the pathetic state of a few popular recent attempts to reclaim masculinity. For example, there’s John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart.

Eldredge, Wild at Heart

It looks like a romance novel, and reads worse:

There is something else I am after, out here in the wild. I am searching for an even more elusive prey… something that can only be found through the help of wilderness.

I am looking for my heart.


Mark Driscoll’s church is supposed to be another beacon of manliness. But, as I’ve pointed out before, he’s also a sissy who tells men to treat their wives as gods.

Of course the whole highly feminized environment suits women, but even they know that something is wrong. Especially younger, single women, because they heavily outnumber the single men, and they aren’t much impressed by those men who are available anyway. They are very willing to hear you out on the points I’ve covered. Don’t shy away from it.

Values and the Racial Achievement Gap

March 29, 2012

The standard view about racial achievement gaps in education is that under-performing groups (blacks and Hispanics) under-perform because they don’t adequately value education (they don’t have enough books at home, their parents aren’t involved, etc.), while over-performing groups (Asians) are successful because they value it highly.

This explanation is typically seen as an alternative to the view that racial achievement gaps are a consequence of differing IQ levels between racial groups. But the two aren’t really alternatives.In general, of course, the contrast between culture and biology is easy to overplay. But the more direct point is that people like, and work hard at, and value, things that they understand and are good at. And they don’t like or value or work hard at things that they don’t understand or aren’t good at.

This is as true of groups as it is of individuals. If the Chinese value education, this is just evidence that the Chinese are smart.

Happolati’s Miscellany, One Week On

March 29, 2012

My new site has been up for a week, and has already surpassed this one in terms of traffic, thanks to my decision to post a picture of Jenna Talackova in a bikini.

While I’ve mostly been posting links, quotes, and pictures there, I’ve also posted some brief but substantive (or at least semi-substantive) items. For example, I’ve explained why Asian campus dominance is here to stay, and why Asian babies are so cute. I’m sure readers won’t want to miss out.