229 stories

Comment on Tolerating Uncertainty by Shauna

1 Comment and 2 Shares

I did! I love that essay:

“When human beings in Shakespeare’s plays reach irritably after fact and reason in their dealings with one another, they break, or break the world. Certain truths and chains of logic bind souls, and drive people mad. There is no room for slack or play within them. Hamlet’s hunger for certainty drives him to the edge of suicide; Lear’s demand that his daughters prove their love undoes his kingdom. The isolated mind uses all its tools and power to protect and justify itself—but so long as its judgment is driven by suspicion and fear, it will never be able to diagnose its own flaws.”

And later:

But as a man of systems and facts, once he was infected with distrust he could not convince himself to trust again. Every use of logic justified the wound in his heart. The world became a conspiracy against him.

if you require perfect certainty to live in harmony with others then you will always be at odds with the world. We have to be willing to be wrong about each other in order to occasionally be right. I saw on Twitter there was a woman who had a goal of getting 100 rejection letters, because it meant she was taking risks with her writing. Perhaps I should have a goal of feeling disappointed with 100 people, as a sign I am taking risks with my trust.

Read the whole story
3 days ago
This is very interesting. Logic doesn't lead us to truth. Logic simply leads us to the ends our assumptions imply. I think this is how smart (sometimes genius) people often end up with absurd beliefs.

When we are open to others and their ideas, they push the small boat of our beliefs in different directions. Even when we reject those directions, they help keep those mental waters from stagnating.

If I isolate myself from others, if I stop learning because I believe I have found truth, it doesn't matter how logical I am. I will slowly drift in the direction that the stagnant currents take me. There will be no correction, no vitality. Step by step I will move deeper into absurdity, the logic and intelligence will simply build in that same direction. Until one day I wake up and look around and I have drifted off into absurdityville and believe something I would have scoffed at in my earlier days when I still looked for new things to learn in the world.

Of course, it can be even worse when I surround myself by people who all have the same direction of drift as I do. At that point, we not only drift but are actively assisted into the absurd by those around me.
Share this story

Hey David: It Wasn’t “We” Who Screwed the Working Class

1 Comment and 2 Shares

I get so tired sometimes. Here is David Brooks today:

Working-class voters tried to send a message in 2016, and they are still trying to send it. The crucial question is whether America’s leaders will listen and respond.

One way to start doing that is to read Oren Cass’s absolutely brilliant new book, “The Once and Future Worker.” The first part of the book is about how we in the educated class have screwed up labor markets in ways that devalued work and made it harder for people in the working class to find a satisfying job.

Part of the problem is misplaced priorities. For the last several decades, American economic policy has been pinioned on one goal: expanding G.D.P. We measure G.D.P. We talk incessantly about economic growth. Between 1975 and 2015, American G.D.P. increased threefold. But what good is that growth if it means that a thick slice of America is discarded for efficiency reasons?

No. It was not “working-class voters” who sent a message in 2016. It was white working-class voters.

It was not the “educated class” that screwed up the labor market for the non-rich. It was the Reagan/Gingrich/GOP establishment.

It was not “we” who decided that GDP was the only thing that mattered and low incomes at the bottom didn’t. It was right-wing Republicans.

So, so tired. I get so very tired of conservatives or centrists or bobos—or whatever it is that David Brooks calls himself these days—refusing to acknowledge this stuff. Progressives have been fighting all along for the working class; for equitable labor markets; for higher wages; for labor unions; for taxing the rich; for job training; for workplace regulations; for universal medical care; for equal treatment regardless of race or sex; and a million other things. Have we accomplished much? Not nearly as much as we should. Brooks is sure right about that.

But it’s not because of some amorphous “we.” It’s because Republicans have spent the past four decades fighting all these things hammer and tongs and then telling working class whites to vote for them because Democrats won’t let them tell ethnic jokes anymore.

Fuck me.

Read the whole story
29 days ago
I am a 'centrist' or 'bobos', so I suppose the author of the article would not care for my opinion on this matter. And the author is right that there is some inherent skeeziness in using the 'we' to distribute blame instead of 'I' if you are talking about policies that you yourself supported and now question. And it is also fundamentally bullshit to try to make the summation of inconsistent ideas (voting) into a coherent singular narrative (working class people want this or white people want that).

However, this article twigs something I have been thinking about quite a bit. Which is that there is a larger trend over the past several decades which 'both sides' are part of. And that trend is the hunt for purity, for excluding those that don't measure up on whatever scale.

Here, the author is explicit about it. The author themselves is a paragon of virtuous purity who has never compromised on the clearly and obviously correct policy positions. They therefore are exempt from the 'we' that has to reflect on whether there needs to be a course correction. Because the author already knew the right answer all along and the only course correction that needs to happen is for people who were wrong to correct course to follow the author.

This puts the author on a wonderful pure pedestal from which to survey the political landscape. And being this pure with such clear villains must be a psychological comfort to go along with their weariness.

But aside from psychological comfort, does this purity actually bring anything useful to the table? And what perils does it bring?

(1) Certainty and purity will hamper any possible change of ideas or actions. It is almost certain that I am dead wrong about some things I believe, and even things that I am right about are probably various shades of wrong as well when you get into the details. And even if I'm right about the ends, it is clear by the fact that I have not succeeded in getting to those ends that I need to think carefully about how to achieve those ends and if my current strategy is successful or if I should switch strategies. All of these things are aided by a sense of doubt and a sense of personally being in the mud with everyone else.

(2) Inclusiveness, seeing yourself as part of a 'we' helps more clearly see the burden. It helps you see problems as truly common. And I think there is an important distinction between 'That shithole President isn't my President because I didn't vote for him' vs. 'That shithole President is our President because we as a country voted for him (regardless of my personal vote) and we need to work on the problem'. It is also true that we as a country and a world have an unclean legacy. Not just 'we in the West', but 'we as humanity'. I don't like the idea that my tax money is going to pay for the debts that the shithole president is accumulating, for example, but they are my debts too even if they are not chosen personally by me. We share the burden of our unclean legacy whether or not we were personally involved in the making of it.

(3) There is no sure way to be persuasive and to get people on your side. But making somebody into the 'other' is anti-persuasive. In order to achieve any agenda at all, you need a broad coalition. Most people in the coalition will only care slightly or not at all about what you want to achieve. But you are compromising on some things you want in order to get them on board. And that means compromising on your purity. You cannot succeed with just the 'purest' or with just the ones with the most zeal. Dealing with and catering to 'allies' is a long and thankless task. Lots of people have complained about how useless they feel like 'allies' are. But the truth is that you are catering to them and buttering them up to try to get them to care about your issue and at the same time they are doing the same to you to get you to care about their issue. Maybe we can accept that this is the long and slow process of building coalitions to get things done and this is just how living in a large diverse society works.

(4) At the end of the day, we need to build a country that is by and for everyone. The only way this works is if we all see each other as 'one of us'. This would not be the case if any one side got all their own way. If a large group of people, rightly or wrongly, wants things a certain way, even if they want a shithole President, our society is set up to give them their way some of the time. And our society must be set up that way to continue functioning. Political change is about changing institutions but only at the same rate that we change the populace. That is why change and improvement can be so hard in a democracy. But that is also why a democracy is our best option. Because as long as we have a democracy, we are still a 'we'. And we decide together, even if sometimes we get things wrong or it takes a long time to get them right.

I'm still thinking about how much 'inclusiveness' is proper and the ways in which 'exclusiveness' and 'purity' are important. But it is very worrying that we seem to have less inclusiveness and more purity all the time. We are certainly less inclusive than is proper as a society.
Share this story

Diablo developers “totally understand” where the Diablo Immortal hate is coming from


Diablo Immortal was announced at BlizzCon this year, and, to put it gently, the community have not responded well to the news.

At the time of writing, the cinematic trailer for Diablo Immortal has 419,000 dislikes to just 14,000 likes. The gameplay trailer has a similar ratio. We spoke to Wyatt Cheng, lead game designer on Diablo Immortal, as BlizzCon ended about how it’s been to see the reaction online.

“I think it’s totally understandable.

“We were talking earlier today about how a large group of the Diablo community are PC gamers, and they came to Blizzard through PC, and they love the PC platform, and we love it too. I think if you came to BlizzCon expecting and hoping for a PC announcement, and you don’t play mobile games at all, you’d be ‘oh, that’s not what I asked for, and this doesn’t do anything for me,’ I think it’s okay for people to be sceptical.

“I think scepticism is very healthy. I think intellectual curiosity is rooted in scepticism, but when we show people the game, and people get their hands on it, play it, many people who are sceptical kind of go ‘oh, well this is actually quite fun.’

“We hope to win over a lot of people over time, but I understand that, for people at home, people watching with the virtual ticket, who don’t get a chance to actually play it, that can be very difficult, and so I totally understand where they’d be coming from.”

To support that, the preview shown at BlizzCon was promising, showing off what could be a brilliant action RPG for mobiles. The reaction from those who have played it has been positive. Cheng, and presumably the rest of the Diablo Immortal team at Blizzard and Netease, seem confident that they can “win over a lot of people over time,” it’s just a shame that not everyone can give it a try just yet.

The post Diablo developers “totally understand” where the Diablo Immortal hate is coming from appeared first on VG247.

Read the whole story
34 days ago
I'm not exactly sure where either hate or skepticism is coming from. They aren't due to have another major series release until 2024 given their track record in any case. Was anyone really expecting Diablo 4 to arrive six years early?

Though, to be a little less snarky and a little more serious, it is clear that there is a big problem in games. The only reason a company might deserve vitriol like this is if they make a public announcement and then later violate the expectations set up by that announcement. We are now in a world where companies make announcements and are then excoriated because they are the 'wrong' announcement. At the end of the day, if you are a PC gamer and a company doesn't make a PC game, then you will not buy their game and it will be no problem. The only legitimate grievance is if the company deceives you into buying their product and it isn't what they say it will be. Companies that made stuff you liked in the past are under no obligation to make stuff you like in the future. There is so much being produced now that it is ridiculous to feel betrayed that any individual company doesn't cater to your tastes.
34 days ago
There's definitely room for a legitimate grievance despite what the pearl-clutching offendatrons of the gaming “press” would have people believe. Announcing this at an expensive, paid event geared towards the most hardcore, PC-playing, and loyal segment of their audience? Whoever though this was the event to announce a re-skinned game (I don't buy Blizzard's weak semi-denial) ought to be fired frankly. This was destined to be a blunder and I don't think the people that paid 300$ to go to an enthusiast event are wrong to be upset.
34 days ago
This is their official announcement. It is the beginning of the hype. I think it is silly to become angry that the pre-hype speculation didn't match the actual announcement. Last year, the enthusiasts also spent $300 to attend the convention and didn't get a Diablo 4 announcement. Same for the year before that. It doesn't strike me that this game is a 'cash grab' any more than any of their other games. They are a profitable company built on making games with mass appeal that sell to lots of people and thus every game they make is created with that standard in mind. Will the new game be one I play? Probably not. But the fact of them releasing it has no negative impact on me. I argue that it is improper to feel upset in this context. And I would further argue that the two reasons why one might feel upset are not compelling. The company doesn't 'owe' the community a sequel or any particular form of sequel. If they change what kind of product they make (suppose they stop making RTS games and spend a decade going for a cash-grab in the MMO market), then their community will simply change accordingly. Nor does the community have any kind of ownership over the world or characters or story. Sometimes a company will move the story in a direction that you don't like. If that is the case, then just don't buy the product involved. I rolled my eyes when the owners of the Fallout IP uprooted the lore and retconned Las Vegas away from the story from Wasteland. And so I didn't buy Fallout: New Vegas. There was no need to attack Bethesda or their subcontractor for this 'cash grab'. Devs will continue to make games in genres you don't like. There is nothing to 'learn' here. In the same way, devs will continue to make games in genres I dislike. If there is a lesson to be learned it is a lesson for us. That the 'gaming' world is too big now to encompass any single community. There is no need to worry about 'gamers' being villified because basically everybody in society has become a gamer to one degree or another. It is like worrying about whether soda-drinkers are being villified. It is a group that everybody is a part of unless they take special pains to avoid being there. The only way you can form a 'gamer' community now is by deliberately building walls. By claiming 'that right there' is not a real game or 'that person isn't a gamer because they don't play 'hardcore' games or they hold the controller wrong'.
34 days ago
I'd argue that it would have been a non-issue if nothing was announced. This mobile game was the only thing of substance announced in what was a really poor decision. Blizzard doesn't "owe" anyone a thing, but as someone that doesn't have a horse in this race it really seems foolish to piss off the core group that buys the games, participates in e-sports and the like. Another venue would have been wise to drop this game, because as you've said, many years pass without an announcement. This was a bet that paid off very poorly and traded on some spectacular good will Blizzard built up over the years. If this is the strategy so be it, but I can reference half a doze other game devs that pulled something similar and ended up shuttering after their core audience voted with their wallets. This isn't remotely similar to what happened to New Vegas and it is quite a shame you passed on an incredible experience- I say that as a fan of Wasteland and the OG Fallout. We'll see what happens, but blaming the core of one's audience almost never turns out well and if there is one nugget of truth here, it is that gamers are not a forgiving bunch, they remember and hold grudges. I'd take issue with everyone being a gamer but then again I see that take as largely meant to deplatform folks that hold contrarian or asshole views.
34 days ago
Blizzard may ore may not be pursuing a profitable strategy here. I don't really have a horse in this race either because while I played Diablo 1 and 2 to death, the 12 years between 2 and 3 meant that by the time 3 arrived, I had moved on and completely lost interest. But it is the 'pissed off' reaction that I think is at issue here. Again, their core audience will vote with their wallets in one way or another. And that is both necessary and sufficient punishment for Blizzard's actions. The fact that there is enough venom swirling around to make a mountain out of this molehill is perhaps a sign of our times and our society that is drunk on outrage as much as it is a reflection of the lack of thoughtfulness of those involved. And it is likely that half the outrage that spurred the news stories is just random bot-rage anyhow. I think that these gamers are also going to be basically forgiving as well. Like all modern outrage-storms it is ephemeral. And most of the outrage is probably down to a worry that their beloved franchise is moving away from them. When Diablo 4 is finally announced in a few years, all of those fears will dissipate. It has happened with a lot of other franchises that added a phone-app (or console) version. Once they are reassured that there will indeed be a conventional Diablo 4, they will have forgotten this entirely. You are right that my thoughts about everyone being a gamer are about how I've come to try to think of all the assholes and contrarians who think either that they represent me or that I am not a 'real gamer'. Going off the rails into whacko land usually involves the odd contradiction of both seeing yourself as a part of a tiny enlightened elite combined with seeing yourself as representing the hidden majority. That is why communist whackos saw themselves as the 'vanguard' of the 'proletariat'. They could be both elite and universal. People who claim to speak for all gamers tend to also follow that pattern, both building walls around what 'real gamers' are and also positioning themselves as being the voice of all. Radical inclusivity (if you game then you are a gamer) is one way to defuse that toxic dualism. And, of course, companies that sell games don't care who the buyers are. A dollar from a 'real gamer' is no better than a dollar from anyone else. So it is probably best to consider the actions of the largest companies in that light. If their only audience was 'real gamers', they would be building themselves a tiny niche.
Share this story
2 public comments
34 days ago
skepticism (or "scepticism") is not the same thing as hate.
35 days ago
Cary, NC

Social Media Is Making the World a Better Place. Quit Griping About It.

1 Comment and 2 Shares

Frank Bruni expresses today what I think is a common opinion:

Nora Ephron once wrote a brilliant essay about the trajectory of her and many other people’s infatuations with email, from the thrill of discovering this speedy new way of keeping in touch to the hell of not being able to turn it off. I’ve come to feel that way about the whole of the internet.

What a glittering dream of expanded knowledge and enhanced connection it was at the start. What a nightmare of manipulated biases and metastasized hate it has turned into. Before he allegedly began mailing pipe bombs to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others, Cesar Sayoc found encouragement online — maybe not in the form of explosives instructions, but in the sense that he could scream his resentments in a theater that did the opposite of repudiating them. It echoed them back. It validated and cultivated them. It took something dark and colored it darker still.

….I don’t know exactly how we square free speech and free expression — which are paramount — with a better policing of the internet, but I’m certain that we need to approach that challenge with more urgency than we have mustered so far. Democracy is at stake. So are lives.

I realize that this might not be the most opportune moment to persuade you otherwise, but I’d like to offer a far different take.

I once wrote that the internet makes smart people smarter and dumb people dumber. Likewise, it might very well make good people better and bad people worse. But on average, that doesn’t mean the world is a worse place. So why does it seem so much worse?

That’s pretty easy: the internet boasts an immediacy that allows it to pack a bigger punch than any previous medium. But this is hardly something new. Newspapers packed a bigger punch than the gossipmonger who appeared in your village every few weeks. Radio was more powerful than newspapers. TV was more powerful than radio. And social media is more powerful than TV.

Contrary to common opinion, however, this has little to do with the nature of these mediums. Sure, they’ve become more visceral over time: first words, then pictures, then voice, then moving images, and finally all of that packaged together and delivered with the power of gossip from a trusted friend. But what’s really different is how much time we spend on them—and by this I mean the time we spend on news, not crossword puzzles or Gilligan’s Island. We are addicted to our smartphones, and that means we spend far more time absorbing news than we used to with TV or radio. There’s the news we actively seek out. There’s the news we get after acccidentally clicking on something else. And then, just to make sure we don’t miss one single thing, there’s the news that’s forced on us because we’ve set up our smartphones to buzz and beep at us when something happens.

Does all this mean that there’s more news than ever before? Of course not. Does it mean that there seems to be more news than ever before? Oh my, yes.

And that brings me circuitously to my point: broadly speaking, the world is not worse than it used to be. We simply see far more of its dark corners than we used to, and we see them in the most visceral possible way: live, in color, and with caustic commentary. Human nature being what it is, it’s hardly surprising that we end up thinking the world is getting worse.

Instead, though, consider a different possibility: the world is roughly the same as it’s always been, but we see the bad parts more frequently and more intensely than ever before. What has that produced?

Well, sure, it helped produce Donald Trump. There’s a downside to everything. But what it’s also produced is far more awareness of all those dark corners of the world. And while that may be depressing as hell, that awareness in turn has produced #MeToo. It’s produced #BlackLivesMatter. It’s produced a rebellion among the young. It’s produced the #Resistance. It’s produced more awareness of extreme weather events. It’s produced an entire genre of journalism, the health care horror story, that in turn has produced a growing acceptance that we need something better.

I could go on, but the point I want to make is simple: if you want to make things better, you first have to convince people that something bad is happening. Social media does that. Hoo boy, does it do that. But this is a good thing, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Shining a light on the dark corners is the first step toward getting people to give a damn, and for all its faults social media is absolutely stellar at doing that.

And that’s what we’ve wanted all along. Right? It produces a huge amount of rage and depression and even violence along the way, but this has always been the price of social progress. You’ve always understood that, haven’t you? You never thought that progressives could get what they wanted just by singing kumbaya, did you? So quit complaining about all the rage and depression and violence that social media is supposedly responsible for. It’s not. These things are nothing more than an inevitable byproduct of forcing people to see what they don’t want to see, and that’s what we’ve wanted all along.


Read the whole story
38 days ago
Human progress comes in the form of incremental improvements. Little things that don't seem to matter individually but that combine into a radically changed world that is wealthier and more just.

Those moments of rage and depression and violence? Those are generally the times when lots of people die, wealth is destroyed, and the survivors spend their whole lives trying to regain what was lost. Even if the 'good side' wins (not a foreordained conclusion), the newfound power often leads to injustice just as great as when they lose.

It is worth being clear-eyed about our societies shortcomings. But our society is still worth defending even as we strive to make it better. The idea that somehow utopia is formed by making things worse is utterly bogus. And the idea that gossip networks that lead to a nationwide bot-led satanic panic every other week is the 'news' is also utterly bogus.

A well-argued defense of social media has to argue that social media is no more responsible for Trump than megaphones were responsible for Mussolini. If social media is simply the outrage machine that its detractors claim it to be, then there is no possible defense of it as it is now constituted. Even if you passionately agree with all the 'good' hashtags, they still doesn't counteract the damage Trump is doing to our democracy, our nation, and to our world.
Share this story

How Our Culture Justifies Its Sexual Freedom (the 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity #9) – Canon Fodder

1 Comment and 2 Shares

I continue to (slowly) work my way through my series on “The 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity.”  It’s an examination of 10 core tenets of progressive (or liberal) Christianity offered by Richard Rohr, but really based on the book by Philip Gulley.

Those keeping up with the numbers will notice that I skipped #7 and #8.  Well, that is because those chapters in Gulley’s book were decidedly not progressive.  Indeed, I agreed with many things in those chapters and found them helpful.

But, as we turn to the ninth commandment, the progressive emphasis returns with vigor: “We should care more about love and less about sex.”

Of all the postmodern cliches that abound, this one may be the most common.  And it’s quite effective, rhetorically speaking. After all, it tells people what they already want to hear.  They want to hear that they have all the sexual freedom they desire and, at the same time, that they are good people who are just about “love.”

It allows a person to keep their questionable behavior and congratulate themselves on their own moral superiority–at the same time.

Gulley’s book expands this cliche into a full-blown argument for sexual freedom.  And he does so by adopting an all-too-common strategy.  I will let out his strategy step by step.

Step #1: Tout the moral virtues of those in sexual sin

The first step in the playbook is to show that those people engaging in the disputed sexual behavior are genuinely nice, wonderful and all-around virtuous folks.  This is a move designed to make people second-guess whether the sexual sin is all that bad.  After all, if it’s so bad, then how could such wonderful people be doing it?

Our put another way, if wonderful people engage in a behavior I think is wrong, then maybe I ought to rethink whether it is wrong.

Gulley brilliantly executes this move.  His first example is of an elderly couple in their eighties who are sleeping together outside of marriage (157-159).  We are told that they were “kind,” they “warmly welcome” people into their “modest home,” and pictures of “grandchildren lined the walls” (158)

Thus, Gulley’s entire strategy is built on the premise that something is wrong only if they people doing it are mean-spirited jerks. In fact, Gully draws this conclusion directly: “The home they created was one of deep love and mutual respect. . . nothing about any of that felt like sin to me” (160).

But, this is not the way Christians think about morality.  Christians don’t claim something is wrong only if “really awful” people do it.  We argue something is bad if it conflicts with God’s character, which is reflected in his moral commandments.

Thus, Christians would argue it is very possible (and very common!) for very nice people with many other virtues to be engaged in behavior that is very wrong.

Of course, Gulley (and postmodern people in general) do not live out their premise consistently.  If being nice makes a behavior OK, then what happens when a very nice person turns out to be a child molester?  They certainly wouldn’t argue, in that instance, that we must accept such behavior.

Step #2:  Insist that God has bigger things to worry about

The next step in the strategy is to downplay God’s holiness.  He’s not concerned about sexual sin anyway.  It doesn’t really bother him.  He’s got bigger things to worry about.

Gulley states this plainly to the elderly couple, “You know, friends, I think God has bigger things to worry about. Let’s just be grateful you have each other” (158).

Of course, one is free to portray God in this manner. But, they cannot claim that this is the God of the Bible.  The God of the Bible is actually very holy, and talks a good bit about sexual activity and sexual sin.  And that’s not just because God is prudish and “old school,” but because sexual sin hits at the heart of our humanity.  It also hits against the way marriage reflects the union of Christ and his church.

Step #3: Show that the sexual behavior actually leads to good results

The third strategic step is no less brilliant. Gulley then shows how the sexual sin actually has good results.  Or, if not good results, then at least that sexual activity solves other problems.

Standing behind this argument is an unspoken premise, namely that something is good if it leads to something good.  Good results justify the behavior.

In terms of the elderly couple, Gulley notes that they were financially strapped and had to live together in order to make ends meet.  Also, they were just “lonely” and needed the companionship (158).

The reason this strategic move works so well, is that anyone who insists they should not be living together sounds like they are callous to their financial situation and care nothing of their loneliness.

But, that is not the biblical perspective.  One can still by very compassionate and sympathetic about their situation, and, at the same time, remind them they still need to follow God’s guidance for sexual activity.  The two are not mutually exclusive.

Moreover, we would want to challenge the idea that good results justify the behavior.  Again, postmodern folks don’t apply that to other areas.  My inability to pay rent on my house does not give me the right to rob a bank.

Step #4: Portray those against certain sexual behaviors as mean-spirited and cruel

Every good story has a foil–a nemesis you can cheer against.  In this story of the elderly couple, Gulley describes the church elder who first informed him of this couple’s situation.  Instead of the warm, positive description given to the elderly couple, this man gets the opposite.

He is portrayed a “critical,” “unduly upset,” one who “roundly condemned” others, and eager to enforce his “rather extensive sexual code” (v.159). Gulley even implies he is financially stingy, unwilling to help this poor elderly couple.

So, according to Gulley’s overly simplistic portrayal, it’s not the people engaging in sexual sin that are the problem, but it is the guy who points it out who is the problem!

This is the morality of postmodernity.  The tables are reversed.

Completely missing in this account is the idea that sin harms people and that perhaps this elder was genuinely concerned with the damage that sexual sin causes in peoples lives.  In other words, is it possible–this is a shocking idea in our postmodern world–that is actually loving to confront sin?

Step #5:  Insist Jesus is on your side

The final step in the justification of sexual sin is to enlist the help of Jesus. To do so, Gulley trots out the standard cliches about Jesus being more gracious to sinners than to the legalists. He even appeals (not surprisingly) to the story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman (166).

What Gulley leaves out, however, is that the woman came to Jesus not defiant in her sins but repentant of them!  Indeed, Jesus indicates that “her sins. . . are many” but that they “are forgiven” (Luke 7:47).   Yes, Jesus forgives sinners.  But we must acknowledge and admit we are sinners.

In sum, Gulley’s ninth commandment is a masterpiece of progressive Christianity.  It runs through the classic playbook of justifying sexual sin and, at first glance, can seem quite compelling.

But in the end it just doesn’t hold up.  We are not called to care about love instead of sex.  We are called to care about both.

Read the whole story
51 days ago
I think this article misunderstands the relationship between progressives (christian or not) and sex. Progressives feel very strongly about the wrong kind of sex just as conservatives do. The only difference is what is categorized as the wrong kind of sex. For conservatives, the wrong kind of sex is sex outside of (heterosexual) wedlock. For progressives, the wrong kind of sex is sex outside of consent.

This is why conservative christianity rings so hollow for those on the outside. The people who claim the mantle of caring most about sexual sin are on the whole silent when it comes to what outsiders perceive as mortal sins. And they declaim vigorously against what outsiders see as either sinless or minor sins. To an outsider, it is as if a preacher thundered apocalyptically against shoplifters while hemming and hawing about how sinful murder really is. If a conservative christian wishes to convince those outside their own circle, they need to account for this difference in perspective. The continuum isn't between people who think sin is important and those who don't. Everybody thinks that the things they categorize as sins are important. Instead it is a question of who considers what a sin.
Share this story

birdsbugsandbones: cookinguptales: A lot of people are really scared and angry because of the...

1 Comment and 2 Shares



A lot of people are really scared and angry because of the results of the newest climate change reports — as they should be. But I’m already seeing a lot of posts and news reports like “HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO TO FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING” and bizarrely enough, the answers are never like “weed out climate change deniers from your government, impose strict new rules for the corporations that are  creating most of the emissions, pour government resources into alternate forms of fuel, etc.” It’s always like “carpool to work!”

Look. Of course you should be working to reduce waste in your own life. But let’s not fucking pretend that consumers are the ones who made this mess. You know what another recent study found? Just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. If the rest of us stopped ALL WASTE and fucking ascended to a higher plane of existence that no longer requires consumption of any kind, the world would still be absolutely fucked if those 100 companies keep on as they do.

I hate this personal responsibility model when it comes to conservation. By ignoring the actual source of the problem and focusing on individuals instead, guess who gets targeted? The absolute most vulnerable individuals on the planet. When people advocate personal responsibility, somehow they’re never talking about billionaires and their private jets. They’re creating straw bans that will make life more dangerous for people with disabilities. They’re shaming women for using disposable menstrual products. They’re criticizing the poor and destitute for using “wasteful” products because they’re all they can afford. They’re making vaguely eugenic statements about getting people in “third world countries” to stop ~breeding~ so much. It’s monstrous.

Stop shaming consumers for the sins of corporations and their powerful investors. Stop placing the blame at the feet of the people who already have the hardest time getting through life. Do something, and by “do something” I mean buy a reusable coffee cup on the way to fucking vote. Go to a protest. Call a representative. Demand accountability from the people who got us into this mess.

All the individual effort in the world is worth naught without institutional change.

Read the whole story
58 days ago
There are two ways in which this article is incorrect.

First, while institutional change is often an important part of solving any problem, it only works alongside individual change. History is full of examples of well-meaning institutional change which failed because it was too out of step with the norms and habits of the citizens. So changing individual habits and our culture around them is an important part of enabling institutional change and making sure it succeeds when it happens. For example, a lot of our infrastructure and legal framework favors driving cars compared to other kinds of transit which causes a lot of pollution. If you want to change that institution, it isn't enough to vote every couple of years or call your representative. If you do that and still drive to work every day, you are working at cross purposes with yourself. If you actually use the bus or train or bike lane, then that by itself lends impetus to potential institutional changes that make these transit options more convenient and more usable for a wider swath of the population. The individual action works together with political action and not as a replacement for it.

Second, activism is a long and thankless task. You may find that in order to achieve some political end, you have to face failure and disappointment for decades before finally achieving your goal only at the cost of your soul. Even if the long and slow process of institutional change is worth it in the long term, you need something immediate to keep you from despair and ideally it is something that happens more frequently than every two years and doesn't involve being a crank with your reprsentative on speed-dial so you can call them up every two hours. You need a concrete action that makes the world a better place. A way to move forward in an individual way. Something that transcends anger at others or the institutions around us and something that doesn't involve the bullshit trade-off utopians make where they sacrifice the flawed now for the perfect later. And this is also where individual action comes into play. You want to do something *today* that will immediately improve the world. Only by spending time in the now rather than the hoped-for future can you maintain your morale and avoid being burned out by whatever passionate issue animates you. By making the world better day to day, you can avoid the self-defeating cynicism and anger which so often accompanies activism and which also leads people both to do counter-productive acts that make the world worse (extremism or 'heightening the contradictions'), or leads them to give up on their passions in disgust.

So individual action is extremely important. Not as a substitute for institutional change, but as an additional lever to attain it. And it is just as important to ensure that you can continue without burning out and giving up or flaming out by getting on the train to whacko-ville.
Share this story
Next Page of Stories