Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Susman and Myers on Personality and Culture

In the 19th century, character was key, but other key words related to the concept of character: citizenship, duty, democracy, work, building, golden deeds, outdoor life, conquest, honor, reputation, morals, manners, integrity, … and above all: manhood, virility.

Early 20th century, accompanying material change, we move from a production-oriented society to a consumption-oriented society, and character disappears and what becomes key is personality: personality used to mean the qualities that were universally shared by all persons – the things we had in common. Personality was then changed to describe the attributes or qualities that make you unique. So the advice is on how to build this sort of personality or image. Here are the new key words from advice manuals: fascinating, stunning, attractive, magnetic, glowing, masterful, creative, dominant, forceful. [these words were almost never used to described character – character is either good or bad, not glowing. The quality of being ‘Somebody’ is emphasized. We live constantly in a crowd [basically strangers who will never have time to know your character], how can we distinguish ourselves from others in the crowd? ‘Crowd’ is the most commonly used word. The new personality literature stressed items that could be best developed in leisure time and that represented in themselves an emphasis on consumption. The social role demanded of all in the new culture of personality was that of a performer. Every American was to become a performing self.

"Personality and the Making of Twentieth-Century Culture."

- Warren Susman

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Act of Cowardice

"By cowardice I do not mean fear. Cowardice is a label we reserve for something a man does. What passes through his mind is his own affair."

- Lord Moran, The Anatomy of Courage

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Greater Youth Ministry Hath No Man Than This ...

"Love provides answers to the demand for trendy relevance.
Some people say, 'If you really want to relate to the young people today, if you really want to keep the kids and reach the young people today, then you've got to ...' and then what follows the 'got to' almost never is 'really love them and lay down your life for them'.  No.  We want to mix it up and make it a little more trendy, contemporary.
Someone might say 'What is more terrible, what's more awful than a church full of dead people and organ music?  organ music and dead saints?'
I grant you that's pretty bad, but there are some things worse than that - a church full of dead, frozen chosen saints where the bass player's terrible and the drummer's worse.  That's really bad too!  In other words, where love's gone missing, that's the problem.  And you're not going to clean the carpet by rearranging the furniture."

- Doug Wilson, State of the Church Sermon 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

An Age of Disillusionment

“I would go so far as to say that never has there been a greater opportunity for preaching than there is today, because we are living in an age of disillusionment. The Victorian age, last century, was an age of optimism. People were carried away by the theory of evolution and development, and the poets sang about the coming of ‘the parliament of man and the federation of the world’. We would banish war and all would be well, and the world would be one great nation. They really believed that sort of thing. Nobody believes it by now apart from an odd representative here and there of the old ‘social gospel’ of the pre-1914 era. We have lived to see the fallacy of that old optimistic liberalism, and we are living in an age of disillusionment when men are desperate. That is why we are witnessing this student protest and every other kind of protest; that is why people are taking drugs. It is the end of all the optimism of the liberals. It was bound to lead to this because it was wrong in its basic conceptions, its origin, in its very thinking. We are seeing the end of all that. Is not this then the very time when the door is wide open for the preaching of the Gospel?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Death of Pretty ...

by Pat Archbold

Pretty is dying.

People will define pretty differently. For the purposes of this piece, I define pretty as a mutually enriching balanced combination of beauty and projected innocence.

Young women today do not seem to aspire to pretty, they prefer to be regarded as hot. Hotness is something altogether different.

Pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend. Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity. Its value is temporary and must be used. It is a consumable. A consumable that consumes as it is consumed but brings no warmth.

Most girls don’t want to be pretty anymore even if they understand what it is. It is ironic that 40 years of women’s liberation has succeeded only in turning women into a commodity. Something to be used up and thrown out.

Of course men play a role in this as well … But here is the real truth. Most men prefer pretty over hot.

Our problem is that society doesn’t value innocence anymore, real or imagined. Nobody aspires to innocence anymore. Nobody wants to be thought of as innocent, the good girl. They want to be hot, not pretty.

Girls, please, bring back the pretty.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Resolutions

They say it's not really a resolution until you've written it down, so here goes:

1. No library late fees all year.
2. One date activity with my wife per week.
3. Help w/ at least one load of laundry per week.
4. Memorize the book of Romans.
5. Memorize all of the words/definitions in Zondervan's New Testament Greek Vocab Guide
6. Finish digitizing old sermon tapes of my former professor and mentor, Colin Smith.
7. Read at least 2 books in each of the following areas:
        A. Heaven/Eschatology/Culture
        B. St Paul
        C. Leadership/Administration