The blog where I rant about things that should be obvious to everyone

As a man with a 4 year degree in computer science, and a mediocre job doing web development I'm not really qualified to comment on politics, religion, or anything else, but I'll be damned if that stops me.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Because Culture

Inevitably when bringing up what the Bible says about gender roles, whether in regards to the church or to marriage, some one will say that due to differences in the culture at the time the New Testament was written and now we can ignore what the Bible teaches.

And of course comment #3 on the last post made just that case.
This is similar to the argument slave owners in America had. The Bible condones slavery and even has teachings on how slaves should obey their masters. I am assuming you don't slavery. It seems to me you are skipping any cultural and historical context. If you are following the Bible literally, please explain how we are to pick and choose which teachings to follow. Why not have slaves? Is it too uncomfortable for you? Or do you value a person's life as a child of God? 6 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare[a] of their slavesOh and that scripture is also from Timothy, 1 Timothy 6:1-2

So the arguemnt is that
1. Everyone knows slavery is wrong.
2. 1 Timothy 6:1-2 supports slavery.
3. There must be some sort of difference in the institution of slavery in the culture of Rome during Paul's time and our time, so it's not the same thing.
4. Gender roles are not the same thing! I can be a feminist!

Of course the main problem with this argument is that 1 Timothy 6:1-2 most certainly does not endorse slavery, out of context reading or otherwise. On the contrary 1 Timothy 1:10 out right decries the act of enslaving anyone, listing it as a sin on par with fornication, homosexuality, lying, and perjury.

Instead 1 Timothy 6:1-2 is not aimed at those who own slaves, but at the slaves themselves, telling them to respect the worldly authority that they find themselves under in the tradition of David under King Saul, which one would assume was as true in America when slavery was legal as it was in the days of St. Paul. David's deference to King Saul did not mean that King Saul was a good king, nor does the admonishment of slaves to respect their masters mean that slavery is a good institution.

The real alarming thing about Jessica's way of viewing how the Bible handles slavery is that it means that from a Biblical standpoint that there is nothing inherently wrong with slavery. If we were to return as a culture to the times of Rome, one could dabble in slavery without fear of sinning.

But whether it’s slavery or some other passage, the point isn’t to gain the best and most honest understanding of the Bible, it’s to develop a tool for dismissing the parts of the Bible that they disagree with.

The Bible’s views homosexuality?  Doesn’t apply today because culture.
The Bible’s views on premarital sex?  Doesn’t apply today because culture.
The Bible’s views on abortion?  Doesn’t apply today because culture.
The Bible’s views on gender roles?  Doesn’t apply today because culture.

Inevitably people who do this resort to bait and switch tactics because the cultural case things like tattoos and head coverings is actually somewhat strong.  But you don’t often see the cultural case made for the items listed above, with the exception of perhaps aspie atheists spouting one liners, for the very good reason that the direct cultural cases are absurd.  They simply don’t fit what’s in the text.  Jessica accused me of leaving out context, yet if you look at the passages that I quoted, you’ll note that I always included multiple verses. I didn't stop with the verses that made my point, but also included verses that had the rationale behind the point.  And the rational is not culture.

The doctrine of “because culture” is a prime example of churchianity: a doctrine that does not come from the Bible and is used to avoid conflict with modern culture.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Churchianity at its finest

Definition of churchianity: when a Christian body creates a set of beliefs or doctrines that do not come from the Bible, but rather from a desire to avoid conflict with modern culture.

I recently was sent a link to a local pastors endorsement of a feminist blog post.

It'd be best if you read the whole thing, but the crux of it is this: 
i don’t think much about the fact that i’m a woman.i just think of myself as a person.
This is of course is in the middle of an article that anyone with any sort of red pill knowledge could easily identify as being written by a woman based purely on tone and structure. The way that the article is void of abstract logic or evidence, but instead is a flowing narrative about how she feels about herself, and is personally outraged at any thought that is not in line with how she feels about herself, is a fine example of how men and women think differently.
But of course the fact that men and women clearly have very different thought patterns (which is not even part of Christian theology, it's well documented and easily observable to those who don't slavishly adhere to the worldly doctrine of equality) is aside from the point. She doesn't think of herself as a women. She thinks of herself as a person.
To further demonstrate this point that she's not a woman but a person, who does not filter her thoughts through her gender, she goes on to share this story.
i remember a man once saying to me:"zena, you’re really funny. no. really. you’re actually funny.”and what i think he meant was that i was smart. i think he meant that i could call events into question and have thoughtful, reasoned positions and even share them in an articulate, humorous way.shocking, i know.i was confused by his “compliment.” and then i remembered. oh right. i have boobs.
Conspicuously lacking from this post is any reference to the Bible. With good reason. The Word of God stands in direct opposition to her view.
1 Timothy 2:12-14: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
maybe that makes me odd. no, it probably does. it’s definitely made for some awkward that one where i openly questioned a pastor about his preaching technique.awkward.
1 Corinthians 14:34-35: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
or the one where i spoke my mind in opposition to my husband at a church outing.awkward.
1 Peter 3:1-4Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
the point is, i didn’t stop to think about it because i consider myself a human being. a person with a mind and opinions that I can share if I so choose.radical.
But of course the entity of what the Bible has to say on gender roles doesn't actually matter, because she doesn't think of herself as a woman. She thinks of herself as a person.
Now I understand that some of the verses above might make some readers uncomfortable. In fact, trying to live and openly teach said verses could reasonably be expected to make you hated by a significant portion of our society. It's not at all in tune with the idea that all people groups, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, are pretty much equally suited for all things.

But if that is just too much, well you're free to stop thinking of men and women as men and women, and simply think of them as people. It might not be Biblical, but I bet it makes you a lot more comfortable.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kaufman Game

For those of you who don't know, Andy Kaufman was a comedian who was famous for doing comedy that he found funny, often at the expense of his audience. This included such things as tricking his audience into thinking that their TV was broken during his show by broadcasting static, or during his stand up telling audiences that he was going to read them The Great Gatsby, followed by him actually doing it until many audience members had left. While this is not all he did, and it certainly was not his intent, the behaviour translates pretty well to game.

I was over at Ishmael's house, when he showed me a text that he had received from a girl he was gaming at work.  She had sent him the following image.

He asked for what a good game response would be and what resulted (with both of us collaborating) is the following text exchange (to the best of my memory).

Him: Aww, don't feel bad [presuming that the cat statement applies to her and not him]. I'll tell you what. Come into work tomorrow and I'll roll you in pancakes.

Her: huh...

Her: was that text meant for me?

Him: Yes. About the cats.

Her: Ishmael you're not making any sense.

Her: What's roll you in pancakes mean?

Him: If I'm not making sense it's only because of kung fu lazers and starvation.

Her: hahaha... huh.

Her: I still don't get what your saying. Are you going to feed me pancakes?

Him: Kate! This is serious business. They make you take an animal wife!

Her: What?

Her: Are you trying to tell me that you married your cat?

Him: No. I rolled her in pancakes.


It went on ending with some more normal conversation such as “how was work?” At the time I was not sure of how well it had gone. I admit that I had largely given texting ideas that I found funny more so then what I found gamish. None of it had seemed overtly beta, but it was hardly optimised either. And some basic texting rules had been broken, such as the 3:2 ratio. But the next day report was glowing. At work she had been all over him asking “What does 'roll you in pancakes' mean?” And by denying her that bit of information he was making her pursue him.

So the end verdict is that though Kaufman game might not be the most optimised form of game, it's still effective. It also has the benefit of wrapping up a bunch of game concepts into one simple rule: do I find this funny or do I see this making for a funny story to be told to those not involved. If the answer is yes and you have the courage to then act on your impulse, then off the top of my head you're:
  • Making yourself stand out.
  • Outcome independent (if your action's don't incite attraction, well it's still going to be kind of funny).
  • Exhibiting bemused mastery.
For another example of Kaufman game: accidental alpha.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Why Bullying is Good

One of the interesting things about studying game is finding where the principles apply elsewhere. And one of these areas is in understanding bullying.

First off, there are multiple things that fall under the category of bullying, and while some of them are bad, some of them are genuinely good as well. The most obviously harmful kind is a gratuitous exercise of power, such as a stronger person beating up a weaker person. But not all bullying is entirely ill willed.

There was an episode of The Dog Whisperer where a woman had two German Shepherds, one of which was regularly attacking the other. It turns out that the dog with the problem was not the dog doing the attacking, but the dog getting attacked. The dog getting attacked, was acting in eradicate ways that in dog psychology was totally inappropriate. The dog doing the attacking was just trying to help their owner by keeping the other dog in line.

While some bullying might not be the most optimized way of effecting a change in behavior, it often is highly effective. In my school experience, bullying stopped one kid from wearing sweatpants to school every day, and another from touching himself under his desk all the time (it finally got back to him why everyone was calling him “Jack”).

Perhaps the most common example of bullying that I come across has to do with state control. People with very low state control tend to invite others to wind them up. And there are two reasons to do so. First is that if someone is willing to give you the keys to their internal state, it is fun to take it out for a spin. The second reason is that low state control is not healthy and that hopefully by poking at it the person will start to gain more control of themselves. You can tell the difference between the primary motivators because someone who is more selfishly motivated will wind the person up with things that become more and more understandable when resulting in an out of control reaction (an extreme example would be teasing someone about a recent death in the family). Someone who is genuinely trying to achieve an improvement in the person will antagonize them with increasingly absurd things that should not bother them. A totally random example would be posting these pictures on facebook for a overly rabid Packers fan to see (done after claiming that the players on the team are all alcoholics).

Friday, October 19, 2012

The left's war on thought

Over at Patriactonary, Will S did a post about bullying. One of the points that he makes is that the term bullying is getting the rape treatment, which is to say that much like the word rape, it's being used to cover a broader and broader range of activities.

One of the interesting things about language is how one language is compared to another in worth. When I was in Greece, one of the natives told me that the Greek language has gone through several recorded fazes. Early on there was Homeric Greek, the language used in the Iliad and the Odyssey; then you had Koine Greek, the language the New Testament was written in; Medieval Greek; and lastly Modern Greek, which is what is spoken today. The interesting thing about the Greek language through history is that instead of advancing, the language has devolved, and is today more primitive than it was in the time of Homer. When I asked how one measured whether a language was superior or inferior, he said, among other things, that in Homeric Greek one could communicate a thought more precisely with fewer words.

The reason Will S's article made me reflect on this is that those who push for various PC causes, such as stopping bullying, are always trying to bring more and more things under their favorite buzz word categories. “You might not think it, but that's racism/bullying/sexism/harassment/etc. to.” The end result is to take away from the precision of the conversation, which then takes away from the precision of thought.

The desired end effect is to cut off people's ability to think about these issues, and instead have them simply react.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The lack of art

To graduate from the college I went to, every student had to take a course called “Senior Seminar”. Among other pointless busy work, one thing that was required of the class was for every student to do a presentation of some sort for the rest of the group.

One of the presentations from some art majors was about how the Christian Church today is not producing any art. The reason that they gave was that great art cannot come out of Christian culture when it is also aimed at Christian culture. I don't remember the reasoning they gave, I mostly remember pointing out during the Q and A that a good chuck of the greatest pieces of art in the history of the world flew in the face of their hypothesis. This was brushed off with the comment that “the times they are a different”.

Their conclusion still seems insane to me, but their premise about there not being much art coming out of the church lately is a little hard to deny. At the time I thought it was probably simply because there is not much in the way of high art coming out at all right now, Christian or no. But now I think that there might be more.

The way that I would define high art would be works that fall into one of two categories. The first is a work or body of work that paves the way for a new art form. For example, Cervantes' Don Quixote would be considered high art at least in part because it is considered the first modern European novel. If someone else wrote a book today similar in prose and store quality it would not turn any heads, and rightfully so, because the author today would have been beaten to it by 500 years.

The second category of high art is a work that communicates some truth or truths in a fashion other than direct articulation. These works bypass the inner dialogue and go straight to the heart with what they have to say. An example of this would be Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, which without ever directly expressing it contains a powerful message about the nature of man, and how easy it is to be quickly and strongly attracted to those who either have no depth of character, or worse, are evil, and how easy it is to overlook those who are our best and truest friends, who have the best character of all.

So why is the church not creating much in the way of high art? Because on the whole, the church's grasp of the truth is tenuous at best. And because the church has trouble accepting, let alone revealing in, those truths that both separate and alienate it from modern culture, the church is incapable of creating high art.

Take, for example, this little story that's made the rounds recently in certain evangelical circles.  There is some truth in The Parable of the Pencil. But mixed in, you have new age wisdom such as “The most important part of you will always be what's inside”, or “You will always be able to correct any mistakes you might make”. The first is directly contradicted by the Bible: Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”. And the second actually goes against one of the core tenets of Christianity, which is that no man is able to redeem his own sins. Our sins are black marks that we cannot wipe away, only by the blood of Christ can we be made clean again.

So this parable is a mixture of Christianity and a modern day form of paganism. This is an old problem for the church, going nearly back to the time of Christ himself. And these kinds of mushy half truths that seem so easy to accept, are antithetical to high art.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Nancy Pelosi admits to turning a blind eye

In an attempt to attack Republicans who have voted to hold Eric Holder in contempt of congress, Nancy Pelosi stated that she could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day.  This, of course, means that while she was in a position of oversight, Pelosi must have allowed for corruption of some sort to simply continue unhindered.  It seems doubtful as to whether anyone will question her about what she knew and when she knew it, or ask if she was complicit in the illegal activities, or whether she in any way profited from her crimes.  But regardless, when the former speaker of the house makes an abject admission of guilt, it's worth taking notice.