Coming Out of the Idolization Closet

I’m already sort of breaking my “no more posts until the book is done” rule already, but this was too delicious to pass up: “The Case for Idolatry: Why Evangelical Christians Can Worship Idols”.

Secondly, and even more significantly, we need to read the whole Bible with reference to the approach of Jesus. To be a Christian is to be a Jesus-person: one whose life is based on his priorities, not on the priorities of subsequent theologians. And when we look at Jesus, we notice that he welcomed everyone who came to him, including those people that the (one-God worshipping) religious leaders rejected – and that Jesus said absolutely nothing about idols in any of the four Gospels. Conservative theologians, many of whom are friends of mine, often miss this point in the cut-and-thrust of debate, but for those who love Jesus, it should be at the very heart of the discussion.

Positivism meets sola scriptura OCD dorkdom.

And my favorite comment:

Andrew, my cousin came out as an idolater a few weeks ago. Until then, I had made comments and remarks in my blog and to others that would be taken as hurtful and demeaning towards idolaters. I’ve come to realize, based on his testimony to me, that I’ve been wrong about idolatry. I’m glad that you’ve taken the first steps towards a great understanding of the love that Jesus has for us all, idolaters or no.

Taking A Short Break

Not that I am particularly prolific on here, but I’m going to be taking a shortish break from posting while I finish up the first few drafts of Retardo Montalbán. There will be more drafts while Jill does her editing thing but that writing won’t be as rigorous or demanding…unless the bean bang completely misses the board (a cornhole analogy for you). Until I’m finished or I have a nuclear blast of inspiration, things will be quiet on here.

Bored in the Breakroom Print Paperback Is Out

You can buy it on Amazon.

Here’s a list of things you can do with the paperback that you can’t do with the electronic version:

  1. Read 17 more stories
  2. Hold it
  3. Throw it
  4. Hide it from your babysitter
  5. Hide it from any babysitter
  6. Steal it*
  7. Steal it from Kevin Bacon**
  8. Bite it
  9. Do nothing with it
  10. Read it***

* This requires you to buy it first, since no one you know will have it.
** This requires you to buy the book for Kevin Bacon first.
*** This can be done with the e-book version as well.

Salvaging Some Knowledge

Immanuel Kant

Good thoughts from Ed’s latest post:

One of the biggest problems I run into is this knee-jerk reaction that our cultural substrate is the human default. It seems nobody wants to understand that what we have today is an anomaly, an intellectual tradition more radically different from all others than any of the rest are from each other. With this faulty assumption comes a typical Western Christian attitude that the Scripture canon is the compendium of all there is to know about the things it addresses. It was never meant to be that. It was the narrative of one particular nation and reflected what they had to know for their own covenant with God. Some of that narrative trumps all others, but not every bit of it.

So while I have a big objection to introducing Lilith into the Eden narrative because it changes the entire meaning of the story completely, that doesn’t mean every item of external mythology is relentlessly evil. You shall know them by their moral fruit, not so much by their words. Labels are fungible; the moral character of God is not. Our Western heritage has elevated the meaning of “truth” to some self-existent deity equal to our Creator. We tend to think language is objective, too. The folks who gave us the Bible would snicker at such nonsense.

One thing I may clarify about what I think he’s talking about here—and he may not agree with me—is the relevance of objective vs. subjective truth(s). I would argue that though God is an objective truth (and I would argue the only objective truth), and we as humans can only apprehend God subjectively, i.e., we can only experience Him, not “know” Him in the same manner we know our own name.

The only person who knows the objective truth about God is God. And this reflexively makes categorical sense: God, as perfect being, would necessarily have perfect knowledge of Himself, and as the only perfect being in existence He would also be the only one with the ability to apprehend Himself as an object, as a noumena proper. The fact that God is an object is really irrelevant in a practical sense, then, except for the bit of knowledge we can glean that He is ultimately unknowable, which also means He’s infinitely experienceable: there is no end to our experience of Him.

I’d be better at this in some respects if I knew my Kant a little more thoroughly—who does, though? The man probably had a brain tumor. Words are going to fail at the end if we’re talking about a thing so abstract and barely conceivable. I’m just doing the best I can with the tools I have.

Myers-Briggs Test Results: INTJ – The Conceited, Nit-Picking Sociopath

ron_swanson_intjNo one can be accurately fit into one of sixteen personality types, but whenever I take a Myers-Briggs assessment now and then I usually get INTJ, strong on the I and J. Instead of titling it with a positive slant, it’s more precise to label it as most people would assess it—externally, in others. Becuase, honestly, interacting with humanity can pretty taxing, but that may be my I talking.

Arrogant – INTJs are perfectly capable of carrying their confidence too far, falsely believing that they’ve resolved all the pertinent issues of a matter and closing themselves off to the opinions of those they believe to be intellectually inferior. Combined with their irreverence for social conventions, INTJs can be brutally insensitive in making their opinions of others all too clear.

Judgmental – INTJs tend to have complete confidence in their thought process, because rational arguments are almost by definition correct – at least in theory. In practice, emotional considerations and history are hugely influential, and a weak point for INTJs is that they brand these factors and those who embrace them as illogical, dismissing them and considering their proponents to be stuck in some baser mode of thought, making it all but impossible to be heard.

Overly analytical – A recurring theme with INTJs is their analytical prowess, but this strength can fall painfully short where logic doesn’t rule – such as with human relationships. When their critical minds and sometimes neurotic level of perfectionism (often the case with Turbulent INTJs) are applied to other people, all but the steadiest of friends will likely need to make some distance, too often permanently.

Loathe highly structured environments – Blindly following precedents and rules without understanding them is distasteful to INTJs, and they disdain even more authority figures who blindly uphold those laws and rules without understanding their intent. Anyone who prefers the status quo for its own sake, or who values stability and safety over self-determination, is likely to clash with INTJ personality types. Whether it’s the law of the land or simple social convention, this aversion applies equally, often making life more difficult than it needs to be.

Clueless in romance – This antipathy to rules and tendency to over-analyze and be judgmental, even arrogant, all adds up to a personality type that is often clueless in dating. Having a new relationship last long enough for INTJs to apply the full force of their analysis on their potential partner’s thought processes and behaviors can be challenging. Trying harder in the ways that INTJs know best can only make things worse, and it’s unfortunately common for them to simply give up the search. Ironically, this is when they’re at their best, and most likely to attract a partner.

A Stupid Poll About Writing

I received an email asking to promote the results of a poll, as seen in this post from the Daily Beast. Even though I’m actually doing what was requested by linking to it in this post, I responded to the email and declined because I’m not into charities I’m not personally involved with, and because the ham-handed interpretation of the poll was ludicrous.

Here’s my email response:

Thanks for reaching out to me, semi-personally, but the poll results are garbage. Not that it’s necessarily Grammarly’s fault, since polls are a wildly inaccurate at quantifying a complex series of attributes that comprise an intuitive-knowledge sort of area like language or writing. But it also presumes a standard of what “better writing” could be that not everyone may agree with. Yet, since it fits conveniently with TDB’s leftoid, feminine-primary readership, it works out in your favor.

Good luck, and I hope Grammarly sells the appropriate number of subscriptions this month.

An important contextual note on the “feminine-primary” phrase. There’s nothing wrong that I can see, by definition, about women (or men) getting together by themselves, separate from the other sex. Societies around the world have been doing that since time immemorial because there is benefit to it. Whether that could be called “x-primary” organization in the modern sense matters little. This isn’t a technical, academic paper.

But the wholesale “gathering together” of one sex has been met with more politicized/socialized approval for a good many decades, to the detriment of the other sex. An artificial and “forced”, as opposed to naturally-occurring and self-organizing, favoring of one over the other will always cause an imbalance in a binary system. The subject was already on the docket given the nature of the poll and the title of the post so it’s not an untoward gesture to give it a mention.

An Update on the Works In Progress

I am currently on the first draft stage of Retardo Montalbán, and I have onboarded Jill Domschot as the semi-formal editor of the project. We have a verbal agreement for services and payment, where I will remite payment at the end of her editing duties. So this public post carries with it the accountability factor—mostly on my end—to uphold my part of the bargain in good faith.

Before I go deep-diving into Retardo I’m going to finish the dead tree version of Bored in the Breakroom. The ebook version is still free and I don’t foresee it ever being not free, but the print version will have bonus stories and will obviously carry a cost. But that cost is heavily in your favor after the dolphin apocalypse arrives and there is no electronic grid to speak of.

N.T. Wright on Christian Art

When you see a beautiful chalice, it has a double beauty. If it’s well made, it has beauty for what it is. But if you know what it is, it also has beauty because you know what it’s meant to be filled with. The present world is like a chalice. God has made it as a thing of extraordinary beauty. But…we know what it’s going to be filled with. We should therefore celebrate the present beauty of the world, not in the sentimental way that denies the presence of evil and chaos and horror and death…Christian art ought to be able to say that the world is a place of great beauty, and also a place of great pain; but to do so in the light of the fact that the world shall one day be full of the glory of the Lord.

Living In Taupeville

Once in a while, Relevant Magazine will post something not so completely drenched in Millenial Christian cheese sauce that it’s worth noting. Via Wintery Knight, “What If Having an Extraordinary Life Isn’t the Point?“:

Some have grown tired of the constant calls to radical change. They are less sure they want to jump on the next bandwagon or trail-blaze new paths. And yet, in a culture of revolutions and free choice, little trust and tradition have been preserved to give people the stability and community they desire. We have become caught between these two poles of desiring some kind of normalcy and yet desiring absolute freedom and autonomy.

The new redemption: salvation by fireworks. Someone should point out to SOMA-junkie Christians (I’ve known plenty) that 99% of all of Judeo-Christendom throughout history, by nature of what is ordinary versus extraordinary, have lived unremarkable lives. Unremarkable, that is, to the rest of humanity. No one cares or is affected by how awesome I thought the stars were last week, except maybe those who might read something I would post about them. But the affect on me was undeniable. Check the frame of reference: extraordinary to me, utterly pointless noise to the rest of the world.

C.S. Lewis’ idea that we live in the shadowlands was an accurate statement for his time, but in this Age of iPhone a new lens is needed. We live in a dun-colored small town—Taupeville&—where we live restless, comfortable lives of drab, monochrome unimportance, looking for the newest carnival of lights around the corner.

The Paradox of Obedience

Jill’s post about the simpy interpretation of this survey of the hierarchy of values among religious people gave me agita—not anything Jill said but the fact that a self-styled smartypants can’t process the inapplication of the simplicity of surveys*. This is a roundabout way of saying people and their belief systems are too complex for a set of numbers and single words. People are shifting latticeworks, not straight lines going up or down.

I made comments on her post but the agita still festered. I think I may know why. It has something to do with the idea that everyone, everywhere exhibits obedience to something. Saying that people are obedient is as helpful as saying people eat. The questions remains: what do people eat? Or in the survey’s case: to what are people obedient to, and to what degree, and within what context?

Then came this, and I don’t trust a damned survey to provide a proper context. Obedience, obviously towards God, should in reality probably be the highest ideal for Christians, if we are going to bother talking of ideals in this way. This is especially true if we’re being honest about the type of being God is illustrated in scripture: a being characterized as an eastern-styled monarch, something of a warrior-king. We in the west think of a king as a president with fancy clothes and an accent, when in actuality the tribal king was someone unto whom complete, unwavering, unquestioning devotion was rendered. Thy word is law. It was recognized as such a relationship—equally, symmetrically—on both sides, an important element missing in liberal ruled vs. ruler dichotomies. Both parties willfully entered into the covenant, none of this Rawlsian social contract garbage that people use to justify tyranny.

So with this in mind, if we’re viewing God properly, a paradox worthy of a Chestertonian phrasal turnabout emerges. Obedience necessarily involves disobedience, disobedience to other agents, powers, authorities, inclinations, paradigms, frameworks—even religious ones. The more absolute the obedience the greater the potential disobedience to everything else that could warrant such a similar devotion. The most singularly obedient person could be the most disobedient person one could know.

EDIT
Timeliness: the sermon at my church this past Sunday dealt with obedience. See the video here.

EDIT 2
More timeliness: Ed has additional relevant thoughts here. He even used the same Galatians 2 passage from the sermon video. Dig it, dig it.

*”Obedience, in many ways, goes against curiosity and creativity,” the article says. How in the world this is logically necessary is not explained, except by implication that “curiosity” and “creativity” are synonymous with disobedience, which is categorically false. I’m not surprised since modern atheism suffers from a crippling case of logical positivism than it can’t even get to any particular fallacies.