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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.