Wednesday, August 27, 2008

De Profundis [#2]

When I find myself in the cellars of affliction, I look about for the King's finest wine.

-Samuel Rutherford

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Buyin' Votes with Stolen Dough

Where does the Bible tell us not to steal from the rich? In the same place where it tells us not to steal period. That commandment is in the same place where we are told not to steal from Ford Motor Company, WalMart, your mother's purse, or any other place where the money you want might be found. The morality of the thing has nothing whatever to do with the moral condition of the victim, or with his extra resources.

Stealing is stealing whether or not the person involved would ever miss it, and envy is envy even if the wealthy are parading about in some unconscionable fashion. What is that to us? It is not our money. We must not want it, seek it, angle for it, manipulate for it, vote for it, or write prophetic jeremiads with one eye on the main chance. The only thing we may do to get some is by offering a lawful service, diligently performed. Surrounding the palace with ballots is no more acceptable that surrounding the palace with torches and pitchforks.

-D. Wilson [excerpt from his article: Envy Looks Uphill]

Thinking Clearly About Culture - P.S. [Part 4 of 3]

2 final thoughts regarding what I believe are common errors about culture -

What culture is not:

1. The adjective 'cultural' is not a synonym of the adjective 'relative'. A person shouldn't say, 'Music standards are just cultural' when he means to say, 'Music standards are just relative'.

How about a quick test? Does the phrase 'objective cultural standards' strike you as an oxymoron? If so, I believe you're thinking about culture improperly. It is contradictory to speak about something as 'objective and relative', but not 'objective and cultural'. Relativity varies between individual people; culture varies between thousands or millions.

So when St. Paul talked about 'being all things to all men', he affirmed a discernable objectivity existing within cultures [e.g. When I go to the Far East, I KNOW I SHOULD take my shoes off before entering ANYONE's home; when I go to the Middle East I KNOW NOT TO pass ANYONE's dinner platter w/ my left hand; etc.]

2. Culture should not be confused w/ my immediate community or context. When someone says, "Tatoos aren't a sign of rebellious individualism in our culture. My three best buddies all have tatoos and they don't see them as rebellious or vain," they're misusing the term.

Culture is something bigger than me, my three buddies, or my neighborhood.

If life were a forest, cultures would be oaks visible from airplane windows or the next ridge over through binoculars. They possess trunks too thick to wrap your arms around - they are not the seedlings hugging the forest floor.

Too often, Christians dismiss criticisms and admonitions by titling all standards of evaluation as being merely 'cultural'. As if this were a trump card, rendering any further conversation moot.

But if we actually mean to call something like aesthetic standards 'cultural', we have not just ended the conversation; we've just begun it - by inviting investigation from a whole new angle. [ex. If something truly is cultural, then how do we go about establishing what is actually a cultural norm versus a fad. What is cultural as opposed to universal and just rarely ackowledged?]

How often might our simple sloth and sloppiness keep us from seeing our spotted sacrifices and will-worship for what they really are.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Rites of Passage

"The typical, healthy play of boys is called rough-and-tumble play. There's a lot of sound effects, and mock fighting, and chasing. This is the healthy, happy play of little boys."
- Christina Hoff Sommers, Author of The War Against Boys
Pictured above - the radius and ulna of my oldest son as they appeared Tuesday night after a rousing sequence of healthy, happy play with his brother [... well, 'healthy' in the developmental sense].