Monthly Archives: February 2015

Can Mental Illness Be Cured?

I’ve written about mental illness twice now.   (Here and here.)

How could I possibly have more to say on the subject?

Well, Friends, I was directed to this man’s testimony about a week ago, and I can’t get it out of my head…

Please don’t be intimidated by the length.  Just watch until he gets to: “My dad was my only relative within a few hundred miles, so he obviously needed to die–and I had a ball peen hammer that would do the trick.”

I suspect you’ll be fairly curious about his spiral down after that…

Did you watch all the way to the end?

So, we’re on the same page then? Everybody understands that a man who once beat is father with a hammer, just to prove he was “really free,”  now claims to have found true freedom is in Christ?

I couldn’t resist looking up David Wood after such an amazing story–and though I didn’t find much–I learned he’s now married with kids. He has a couple of masters degrees and a PhD.

And he hasn’t seen the inside of a prison or a mental hospital since his conversion…

I can’t figure out exactly why I like this video so much.  But I think it has something to do with having struggled with the exact same questions.

Er–not whether I could talk to cats. But all that stuff about right/wrong and the pointlessness of everything in an evolutionary world?  Yeah. If that’s mental illness, I readily admit, I have it, too…

The idea that we shouldn’t have to play by society’s rules is a perfectly legitimate conclusion, in a world of chance and chaos. 

Some of my favorite quotes of David are these:

-“I noticed that people didn’t share my amazing insights into reality… I started wondering if maybe something might be wrong with me.  After pondering this for several months, I realized why I was different.  I had evolved to a higher stage of humanity…”

-“I understand that most of you Atheists out there live perfectly normal lives. But I could never understand why you would want to. Think about it: we’ve got this massive universe. And over here is this tiny little crumb of a galaxy…  and, crawling all over the Earth are these feeble, selfish, self-destructive lumps of cells constantly deluding themselves into thinking that what they do is so important.

“The Universe couldn’t conceivably care less whether you loved your neighbor as yourself or you tortured him just for fun…so you might as well do whatever you feel like doing with the little bit of time you’ve got…”

It’s not hard to dismiss David as some type of psycho, who’s simply lucky he hasn’t had a big meltdown in 20 years.  It’s easy to argue we should just ignore him, except to send a doctor or police officer to monitor and make sure he doesn’t snap again…

But, does he sound crazy NOW?

And, you’ve got to admit, if we’re just happy cosmic accidents, we have a very hard time explaining to people why they shouldn’t commit murder.

We basically just have to hope they don’t feel like–and lock them up if they do.

How can we answer WHY humans keep trying to pretend things are meaningful? And–if we’re just products of evolution–aren’t the ones who obsess about chemicals like “love” and “empathy” the truly crazy ones? 

—-

There are millions of people in the U.S. trying to fix a psychiatric “problem” of one kind or another with drugs and other therapy. They’re trying to become more “normal.”

But, how do we know anger and fear and torture aren’t just the next stage of Human Evolution?

I know what I believe, but I want somebody to talk with me about this…

Talk to me about this man who was certifiably insane, and now he lives like you and me…

Someone explain what “normal” is…

Your Friends May Be Multi-Colored, but That Does NOT Make You “Diverse”

If you belong to a church or another organization which is proud of its own “diversity,” I’m calling you out.  I’m not sure you’re as “diverse” as you think you are.

Sure, you may have your Arab friend and your Jewish friend and your gay and blind and 10-foot friend.   But, I argue none of you are really THAT different, if you have the exact same views on sacred “diversity.”

Does everyone in the group nod at the word “tolerance?”

Does the topic of “compassion” come up a lot?

What about the term “social justice?”

Yeah, see, I’m willing to bet you don’t have a friend like me anywhere in your close circle.  And if you used to know someone with my views, you probably grew apart because he/she was too arrogant.

(I can’t count how many times someone has told me, “I have LOTS of Christian friends. But they’re not judgmental like you!”)

Do you believe life is too short to spend with religious zealots and dogmatic Bible-thumpers?

That’s fine. But your friends aren’t diverse.

—–

First, let’s examine the story of a church-like organization in California that calls itself “Glide.”

“In 1967, Cecil ordered the cross removed from the sanctuary, exhorting the congregation instead to celebrate life and living. ‘We must all be the cross,’ he explained. …As the conservative members of the original congregation left, they were replaced by San Francisco’s diverse communities of hippies, addicts, gays, the poor, and the marginalized. By 1968, the energetic, jazz-filled Celebrations were packed with people from all classes, hues, and lifestyles.

Uh. Except Conservatives, remember? They left.  But let’s keep going…

…GLIDE is a place where old, destructive ways of being are thrown out and new ones created… [A] simple call goes out to all races, classes, genders, ages, and sexual orientations: It’s recovery time. It’s time to love unconditionally.”

Ugh, really???

Do I really need to explain what’s wrong with this?  Isn’t it obvious that this “church” isn’t hugely, vastly diverse–just because the members come from different races and religions?   They all have the exact same beliefs!  

Nothing matters to them, except new, open-minded, lovely, unconditional acceptance…

…which means there’s no way someone like me would find acceptance at all.

I’d be a project.  🙂

The same inconsistency goes with the Unitarian Universalist Association. (These quotes are taken from the page Are my beliefs welcome?)

“In Unitarian Universalism, you can bring your whole self: your full identity, your questioning mind, your expansive heart.

We are creating a force more powerful than one person or one religion. By welcoming people who identify with Atheism and Agnosticism, Buddhism,Christianity, Humanism, Judaism, Earth-Centered Traditions, Hinduism, Islam, and more, we are embodying a vision ‘beyond belief: a vision of peace, love, and understanding.

We are building an action-oriented community, bridging races, religions, and creeds…”

Right.

Which means that your new “creed” trumps all the old ones.  People who once considered themselves Atheist or Buddhist or Christian can come to the Unitarian Universalist Church when they’re ready to let go of specifics.

“[Our] Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist religious communities.”

So, if you tend to crave doctrine, you’re a little too “diverse” for this group.

Finally, I found this “About the Pastor” section for a church in my home state called “The Church Within.”

“[All] Religions have offered us maps, one after another, to find our way to some sublime experience that someone, at some time, found so life-altering they wanted to invite us along with them….I believe that every path, when really explored and engaged, has at its core the same hope – that we should all realize that there are many paths and that they all lead to the same place. And, why wouldn’t we want to walk together with our brothers and sisters?”

The Reverend seems to have missed that one of those religious leaders claimed to be the ONLY way–and that looking in other places ultimately would NOT be fulfilling.

He also may need to be careful with phrases like, “we should all realize…”

That almost sounds like doctrine!

Continuing:

“…Walking all of this forward into being pastor, it’s my hope that ‘The Church Within’ will continue to grow in its ability to create the abundance needed to do the outreach that has meaning for those being served and that engages growth for those being of service. I truly believe that there are available to each of us ways of being that open doors to peace for us and for all. Living well means focusing our attention on finding and expressing these ways of being as consistently as possible.”

If you need to re-read that a few times to wrap your mind around all the prepositional phrases, go ahead. But, personally, I think it just sounds more like gibberish the harder you try to make sense of it.

SO, let’s just come back to my point.

ALL of these hip, new age, all-inclusive organizations are excited about how diverse they are.   They’re quick to tell you that anyone is welcome because they’re a progressive, multicultural group.

But, in reality, the members aren’t REALLY that different from each other because Diversity is the one thing all of them worship above anything else. Any other belief you may have is just personal, opinion-driven, and (in other words) not really that important.

Which means people like ME get pushed out the back door.

Where are the members of these supposedly-diverse groups who are demanding answers instead of feelings?

Where are the people pointing out that sometimes being unwilling to take a stand is taking the biggest stand of all. 

Pretty soon, your celebration of unity and agreement-at-all-costs and diversity becomes (gasp!) …doctrine.

Yeah, I’m calling you out, “churches” and “charities” and other nonprofits  claiming your certain mission is more important than religion.   I’m calling you out, because that statement IS a religious one, in our culture.

It tells me a lot about your values, when you won’t list any besides Cooperation and Justice.

It tells me you probably don’t have many friends like me.

—-

Side note:  If you find yourself in the market for a close-minded and judgmental “friend” to round out the group diversity a little, go ahead and get a hold of me!  😉

@Mrs_Mcmommy

mandysblogs@gmail.com

Why Mental Illness Isn’t Like a Broken Bone

We can see how the brain acts, when people move different body parts or concentrate on something, but experts still can’t rationally explain where “feelings” come from.

In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest the brain doesn’t “make” feelings at all…not the same way your bones make marrow.

“Thoughts” are not physical, like blood or urine or even the gases we release. Thoughts aren’t really “things,” in that sense.

For this reason, even the most brilliant scientists have a hard time describing a thought. They struggle to explain: what is awareness? What separates animals from plants–when physical things are all made of the same elements?

How can we say our brains are like computers…when, for some reason, we have knowledge and feelings beyond a machine’s ability?

This kind of stuff can’t be answered by the best neurologists in the world. So, please, be skeptical any time somebody tells you “mental illness is just like diabetes, cancer, or a broken bone.”

No. It isn’t.

This blogger say, “It’s time we acknowledge that a disease in the brain is just as physical as a disease in the heart, lungs, or liver.”  But what does she mean by that?  “Physical” how?

We can physically see when someone is depressed or angry or amused on a brain scan, but that doesn’t mean those feelings COME from their brain.

It doesn’t mean someone with depression or anxiety has a problem that a cast or pills will fix.

Many friends and family members want to reassure folks with “mood disorders” because they mean well...but they just don’t know how complicated the truth can be.

A problem with your mood/thoughts is NOT just like a problem with a bone.

Perhaps a better theory comes from Dr. Gerald Schroeder, in his book God According to God.

Dr. Schroeder makes an example out of radio waves. You can’t see or even hear radio waves with your physical body. But they are all around, bouncing off walls and waiting to be decoded.  If you have the right physical tool (a radio), you’ll be able to listen to the broadcast which has been surrounding you all along.

What if our bodies work something like that?

What if much of reality is unseen and not physical?

What if “consciousness”  (or our “spirit” or Who We Really Are) somehow exists outside of our bodies–and we simply use the flesh and bone to tune in, like radios? (For now.)

—-

I’ve been reading another book recently. It’s called The God-Shaped Brain–in which the author explains that prayer and intentional meditation on a loving God changes the shape of the brain.

This is scientific fact, you guys.

The brain has the ability to fix itself–to rewire and produce more positive, hopeful, joyful fruit–if it focuses on a God of Truth and Light instead of soaking in lies.   Do you have any idea how significant that is???

Most importantly, do you know how damaging it could be, to tell somebody their brain is broken, if it’s actually just tuned in to the wrong “channel”?!

Can you understand, at least a little bit, why I raise my eyebrows when more than half of all Americans get diagnosed with a “mental illness” at some point in their life?

We feel perfectly comfortable recommending medical doctors to family and friends who need help–but we won’t even consider that the problem might be anything other than a purely physical flaw.

“Their hormones just need balanced, like a diabetic’s blood sugar, ” we say.

I say there’s no way it’s that simple…

—-

I’m all about bringing “awareness” to mental illness–but I wonder why it’s sooooo important to leave God out of that conversation?  And I wonder at what point we’ll realize there’s an awful LOT of people dealing with something supposedly “abnormal.”

Maybe it makes sense that some of us would be stuck in deep, dark places–for months or even years at a time–because we’re wrestling with hugely important questions that have real, metaphysical consequences?

And maybe many of us never get the chance to address those deeper issues, because pop-culture says we need to take care of our chemical problem.

To suggest that psyche drugs aren’t the answer (or that they’re basically placebos) is viewed the same as “withholding insulin from a diabetic.”

We WANT scientists to find a physical cure for us. We WANT to take our pills, like a cracker for a sugar-crash.

We WANT to believe our minds are just a clump of electricity and chemicals, and that the right expert can balance us with a prescription, when our brains don’t behave the way we want.

But it’s just not that simple.

Maybe we should consider that slapping the top of the radio isn’t the ONLY way to get a better sound…

Felton and Marcotte: Two Women so Selfish they Went Crazy

Have you ever heard of Rebecca Latimer Felton?   Probably not. But her Wiki is fascinating…

Mrs. Felton was an outspoken feminist in the early 20th century, and the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. (She was 94 when she died in 1930.)

But–the more she developed her pro-woman platform, the more she became a raging racist.

Mrs. Felton owned slaves before the Civil War, so she had a personal stake in the issue.

She viewed blacks (especially black men) as obstacles to her noble feminist cause. So, she made symbols of them…which meant dehumanizing them…and regularly saying truly horrifying things, with apparently no shame:

Felton considered “young blacks” who sought equal treatment “half-civilized gorillas,” with a “brutal lust” for white women. …she [opposed] voting rights for blacks, arguing that it led directly to the rape of white women.

In 1899, a massive crowd of white Georgians tortured, mutilated, and burned a black man, Sam Hose… The crowd divided and sold his physical remains as souvenirs. [Instead of being horrified] Felton said that any “true-hearted husband or father” would have killed “the beast,” and that Hose was due less sympathy than a rabid dog.

Felton also advocated more lynchings of black men, saying that such was “elysian” compared to the rape of white women. On at least one occasion, she stated that white Southerners should “lynch a thousand a week if it becomes necessary” to “protect woman’s dearest possession.”

Pretty crazy, right?

How could a woman grow so cold that she seriously believed an entire race was worth less than she was?  How could she have declared proudly that, when made to choose between a black man and a white woman, she would automatically support the woman every time? 

We read Mrs. Felton’s quotes, almost 100 years after they were written, and we sort of want to laugh.

“This chick is INSANE!”

Someone should have taken away her pen before Progress embarrassed her this much…

But it’s hard to be amused when you understand she was a real person who truly, wholeheartedly believed white people mattered more than black ones.  Tragic.

So tragic, in fact, it reminds me of today’s raging feminists…

Most have disowned Rebecca Felton (despite her many accomplishments in Women’s Suffrage), because her obsession with the need to lynch black men is just too similar to their own obsession with the “need” for abortion.  

Please marvel with me at the similarities between the Anti-Black Mrs. Felton and Anti-Fetus Amanda Marcotte (from Ms. Marcotte’s article, “The Debate isn’t About Life, but What We Expect of Women.”):

[Pro-Lifers] are still pooping out the same old crap argument they’ve been using for the past forty years—that an embryo or even fertilized egg [with] no brain has more human rights than the woman who has been drafted into growing it against her will…

[Even if] a woman does want children [it] doesn’t mean she wants them now. Maybe she’s still got some fun-having to do. Or maybe she has a couple already and…feels done with having them. Either way, what she wants trumps the non-existent desires of a mindless pre-person…

Again, she says the debate isn’t about life. (It doesn’t make a difference to her whether the fetus is living.)  The fact is, either way, Ms. Marcotte believes a life in her womb wouldn’t be worth as much as hers.

And that’s what takes her selfishness to the level of Mrs. Felton.

When you understand that feminist Choicers always place a woman’s wishes above anything else, then it makes sense why Ms. Marcotte is bored with Pro-Life arguments. We would get the same reaction if we tried to convince our racist friend Mrs. Felton that blacks are living creatures…

“Who cares if blacks are living?” she would answer.  “So are rabid dogs! The important fact is: they’re far less valuable than me.”

Thus, just as Mrs. Felton excused the killing of black men by reducing them to dog-status, Ms. Marcotte also reduces the pre-born to objects:

I don’t particularly like babies. They are loud and smelly and, above all other things, demanding. No matter how much free day care you throw at women, babies are still time-sucking monsters with their constant neediness. No matter how flexible you make my work schedule, my entire life would be overturned by a baby. I like my life how it is, with my ability to do what I want when I want without having to arrange for a babysitter. I like being able to watch “True Detective” right now and not wait until the baby is in bed.

And don’t float “adoption” as an answer. Adoption? Fuck you, seriously. I am not turning my body over for nine months of gaining weight and puking and being tired and suffering and not being able to sleep on my side and going to the hospital for a bout of misery and pain so that some couple I don’t know and probably don’t even like can have a baby…

This is why, if my birth control fails, I am totally having an abortion. Given the choice between living my life how I please … and the fate of a lentil-sized, brainless embryo … I choose me.

Me, me, me, me.

How inspiring!

When you believe that yours is the most important perspective in any discussion, you will eventually allow some disturbing things to fall out of your mouth.

Oh, a black man was beaten and torn apart–and then his body was made into souvenirs?   Meh. Rabid dog.

Oh, an inch-long baby was sliced into pieces and scraped from the body of someone he/she would have loved?   Meh.  Smelly time-sucker.

In both cases, we’re supposed to just accept: the white woman deserves the sympathy here…

—-

Again, keep in mind that Rebecca Latimer Felton was a real-life activist.  She really walked the earth, and she really believed in White Supremacy.

It makes you wonder what she’d think of the United States today, where children of all colors play together, and “blacks” and “whites” regularly interact, go on dates, and get married…

What would Mrs. Felton think of the “half-civilized gorilla” we have for a President?

Anyway, even if she could somehow see our current society, I doubt she’d ever admit anything like, “people are people, no matter how dark.” She spent too much time writing about the inhumanity of blacks; too much time repeating that black men were worthless.

And, I’m afraid it’s the same for Amanda Marcotte.

You’ll never be able to cure her “Adult-Female Supremacy.”

Even if she could travel 100 years into the future, when abortion has been abolished and it’s basically common sense that people are people, no matter how small–she’d still be selfish and backward, with outdated ideas about who’s more important.

And all the high schoolers in the year 2115 will be baffled by Amanda Marcotte’s old-fashioned ignorance.

Someday, one of my great, great grandchildren may be reading whatever version of “Wikipedia” they’ll have, and he/she will come across a write-up.

Amanda Marcotte was a 21st-Century women’s rights activist. But she’s known mostly for her staunch anti-Abolition views. She once wrote, “what [a pregnant woman] wants trumps the non-existent desires of a mindless pre-person that is so small it can be removed in about two minutes during an outpatient procedure.”

And my grandchildren will almost want to laugh.

“Wow! I thought my teachers were exaggerating about how cold-hearted the Southern plantation owners were! I guess some mothers really DID think that being bigger made them better than their very young children.”

They’ll joke: “Maybe someone should have confiscated Ms. Marcotte’s computer before she embarrassed herself that much!”

Or simply:

“Man, that chick sounds CRAZY!”

Before My Child Marries Yours…

Several months ago, this blog post went viral on social media:  If My Child Marries Yours.

It’s a very sweet letter written by a mommy with young children to the mothers who may become in-laws in the future. (In other words, she’s imagining that her babies’ future husbands/wives are being rocked and bathed and taught lessons by their mothers right now-–and she’s writing to encourage those mommies.)

Excerpt:

“I’m praying that you will hug your boy tight when he’s sad or lonely or scared. Because someday, my girl – all grown [and] beautiful with babies of her own – will be sad or lonely or scared. And he’ll need to know how to hold her. Teach him.

And let your daughters hear you speak righteous words that bring life and hope. Because someday, my sons will be worn and weary, and the words you’re placing in your daughters’ minds today just might become the balm to my sons’ souls.”

See?  It’s nice, isn’t it?

It’s fun remembering that future members of your child’s family are out there somewhere, doing life in a similar fashion.  This letter is imaginative and uplifting and easy-to-share.

But…

I couldn’t help noticing all the idealistic thinking! I have to wonder… just how lucky would my kids have to be, to find in-laws with these amazing credentials?

Consider these lines:

-“I’m praying that you will take those children to church…”

-“I’m praying that your love for and commitment to your spouse will swell with each year…”

-“Someday we will sit on opposite sides of the aisle…  We’ll watch our silly, sticky, sweet babies somehow transform into brides and grooms and make the same promises to one another that we ourselves have kept… And we will watch these children create families of their own with the ingredients we have given them.”  (emphasis mine)

What if my child’s future in-laws haven’t used very good ingredients?

Isn’t it very possible that my child’s future in-laws aren’t even raising their kids–so much as letting the daycare/school-system do it?  Isn’t it muuuuch more likely that they have modeled divorce and remarriage, rather than “keeping vows?”

And what if one of my children decides to marry a person who didn’t go to church until later in life–and it turns out I don’t even have Christian values in common with his/her mother?   

I’m not saying it’s a deal-breaker.

I’m not saying we’d cut off that side of the family and refuse to interact.

But, I just worry ladies like the author of that letter may be setting themselves up for disappointment?

These are the practical questions that pop into my head, whenever I read the beautiful, idealistic daydreams, written by an Eternal Optimist.

Am I really going to find my BFF, when I meet my child’s mother-in-law? I mean REALLY?

Sure, it would be great if Luke and I discovered that the people who will share our grandchildren are kindred spirits of ours.  It’s lovely to assume all of us will raise our children with the same consistency and God-centeredness and commitment to our spouses.  (And I guess there’s nothing wrong with praying accordingly.)

But what if I don’t like the other woman–and I have to love her anyway?

—-

I guess letters like “If My Child Marries Yours” read more like feel-good fiction than “encouragement” for real-life problems, to a Chronic Cynic like myself…

I find it more useful to study about offering grace and learning to cooperate, despite disagreements, while I prepare for the worst.   🙂

Likewise, before our children get married, you probably should go through some of my blog posts and be prepared for disappointment, if you’d hoped to find me as flowery and considerate as the woman who wrote that letter!

Ladies–Own Your Stuff (an Open Letter from the Cranky Matron)

Okay, okay, I guess I’ll jump into the Yoga Pants debate.

If you’ve been in a coma and missed the news, let me break it to you. A Christian woman named Veronica Partridge decided to stop wearing leggings in the name of modesty, which ultimately broke the internet.

Again, if you missed it, things really picked up steam when feminist-leaning magazine, Huffington Post, completely missed the point and declared, “JESUS LOVES MY YOGA PANTS!”

…and the conversation just grew more divided and loud from there,  with most people believing either, “Veronica Partridge needs to run for President” OR “Veronica Partridge says rape is the woman’s fault.”  (I mean, really, how could you fall in-between?)

But, the vast majority of posts being “shared” in my social media newsfeeds are ones from the “Man’s Perspective.” (Like this. And this.)

Seriously, we just LOVE to hear what men have to say about a man’s responsibility to not lust…

…which wouldn’t necessarily be comment-worthy, except the vast majority of the people “sharing” and “liking” those posts are women.

Yes, we WOMEN want to offer our hearty “Amen” every time a man takes blame for something.

“That’s right!” we shriek. “Own your stuff!”  

And we feel vindication because–just as we suspected–we’ve done nothing wrong.  

Over time, the more we praise men for taking responsibility not to lust, the more we convince ourselves that ‘modesty’ is just an outdated, prudish word our grandmothers used during the era of Sexual Repression…

And that’s why I decided to let the Cranky Matron have a few words.

Just a couple days ago, I read this article on Brant Hansen’s blog, written by the Krusty Sage.  Please click that link right now, and read a couple of paragraphs.

I’ll wait…

Did you click it?…

(*sigh)  You guys never listen to me.

Anyway, the Krusty Sage takes over Brant’s blog from time to time, and most recently, he talked about Yoga Pants. Here’s what he says to the guys:

“Let’s talk to guys, only. Let’s have a little quiz:

When you lust after a woman who’s wearing yoga pants, whose fault is it?

A. It’s 100% her fault.

B. It’s mostly her fault, but some your fault.

C. It’s mostly your fault, but it’s her fault, too.

D. It’s 100% your fault.

Now, check your papers. If you didn’t say “D”…  you’re kidding yourself.

Yeah. Seriously. It’s your fault…

Should women dress more modestly? That’s a fair issue… for women. They can certainly talk about what maturity means, and encourage each other. But I’m not talking to women, here.

Guys, you are responsible for you…

Yes, this is incredibly difficult. Yes, it’s a universal problem for humans. I don’t know a man who hasn’t struggled with it. Yes, our culture worships sex. Right.

But let’s own our stuff. That’s all.”

So, the Krusty Sage hammered home for the men that they have certain social responsibilities. And that’s fine–because he’s a man.

But now I–the Cranky Matron–am going to pick up where he left off, in Titus 2:3 fashion, by saying:

“Ladies, own your stuff, too.”

Stop hijacking articles written to teach/encourage men and twisting them into an excuse to be as disrespectful and inconsiderate as you want. 

Stop pretending like you don’t know when you look good…and like you don’t enjoy it a little too much sometimes. 

Stop pretending like Lust is still an issue, but the need for Modesty isn’t.

Men in the church aren’t allowed to talk about this, because they’ll be shouted down by feminists screaming, “Rape isn’t a woman’s fault.”

But, we’re not talking about rape here.

And I’m not even talking about Yoga Pants.  Not really.

I–the Cranky Matron–am talking to you ladies about your heart, which is where real humility and modesty lie. 

You want to know something ironic?  You can tell a lot about a person’s heart judging solely by their reaction to the Yoga Pants Debate. On one hand, there are women who say, “Wow! I never thought about how my tight rear-end might draw the wrong kind of attention. I’ll keep that in mind!”

And, on the other hand, some women recoil with a sharp, “Don’t blame YOUR problems on ME, pervert!”

It would be as if a man and woman crashed into each other in the grocery store, and the man said, “I’m sorry! That was totally my fault!”  and the woman said, “You bet it was, Buddy!” before walking away.

Our culture has almost completely swallowed the lie that “Lust and Modesty” must be either 100% a man’s responsibility or 100% a woman’s…and if we need to pick one, then we’ll let the men “own it.”

Many women in the United States have gotten very good at seeing every cultural disagreement through the most narrow, self-centered lens possible.

It’s why I can’t stand most conversations about bikinis or leggings.

It’s why I close my computer or walk out of the room whenever a breastfeeding member of the Milk Mafia complains about having to cover in public.

Women actually, seriously, say things like, “If you don’t like it, don’t look!”

Or, “What I wear/do/say is none of your business.”

Or, “You should cover YOUR EYES instead of expecting me to cover MY BOOBS.”

And we seem completely unaware that those attitudes show off precisely the ugly, provocative, and immodest hearts a Christian is trying to learn how to cover up!

As I–the Cranky Matron–wind to a close, let me just clear up any confusion.  I have been talking to the ladies here.   If you are a man tempted to share this post as a way to passive-aggressively say “TOLD YA!” to a woman who you find slutty, then you’ve missed the point.

Scroll back up and read the Krusty Sage’s post, if you want a reminder of your own responsibility.

This letter is for YOU, Ladies.

Own YOUR stuff.

With Great Love and Affection,

-The Cranky Matron

Neither College nor a Cool Name Will Help You Drive a Train

In the movie “Freakanomics,” the writers asked the question, “How Much Does Your Name Matter?” by comparing the way different classes have named their children over time.

This part of the transcript is the important one:

“…one of the most predictable patterns when it comes to names is that almost every name that becomes popular starts out as a high-class name, or a high-education name. So in the California data we had, we could see the education level of the parents. And even the names that eventually become the quote “trashiest” kinds of names (so the Tiffanys and the Brittanys, and I’ll probably get myself in trouble…the Caitlyns and things like that) they start at the top of the income distribution, and over the course of 20, or 30, or 40 years they migrate their way down becoming more and more popular among the less-educated set. And as names become popular among the less-educated, the higher-educated parents absolutely abandon these names and don’t want anything to do with them.”

In other words, you can predict which names will be popular among middle or lower class individuals a few decades from now by looking at what the wealthy are naming their children TODAY.   It’s almost as if people believe, “I’ll make my child successful by naming him the way successful people do.”

When you look at the statistical data, you see the mimic-effect happen over and over again.  The Wealthy are setting the trends, and the middle-and-lower-classes are simply following, a generation or two behind.

You might say the Wealthy are driving the Baby-Name Train, while the rest of us are simply following along on the same track, several years behind.

So I started wondering…

What if that same pattern is happening in areas besides baby-Naming…

…like education choices, for example?

What if we’re being TOLD that we need to go to college, because that’s what “successful people do.” But, actually, we’re just mimicking what the Wealthy were doing several decades ago?

I think the obsession with college is just the middle-and-lower class families, arriving late to this trend, as usual.

If you don’t believe me, pay attention to what many successful, “train-driving” people are teaching their children RIGHT NOW.

Many are telling their highschoolers not to go to college.

The most out-of-the-box thinkers believe that a diploma is really just a piece of paper. (And one which is losing value every day, as the government hands out more and more of them like candy.)

You might as well give your kid a name-tag that says “Blue Ivy” to ensure he/she becomes a celebrity…

Meanwhile, the true Train-Drivers are telling their children to find a trade/specialty, preferably in a technological field, and learn to do it very, very well.

Drivers want their kids to be SELF-taught, so they can grow and adapt to shifting tracks for the rest of their lives.

And, finally, they want their kids to build networks and sharpen their interpersonal skills–which means that sleeping in a row of desks while a foreign professor mumbles very well could set their kids back, rather than providing something valuable and necessary.

Of course, it’s risky to neglect to get a diploma when the middle-and-lower class faithfully believe you need one.

But that’s what trend-setting, train-driving people are famous for.

Successful people take risks, and sometimes even get derailed. But they learn how to shift gears, adjust their speed, and keep on chugging…

…while others wait to see what works, and get pulled along behind.

I mean, sure, I might be wrong here.

Maybe the college-and-university type of education really is the difference between failure and success.  We’ll have to wait and see.

But, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if–a hundred years from now–everybody is naming their baby “Apple”…

…and only the poorest people end up in outdated places like college.

If Family Doesn’t End, Then Marriages Shouldn’t Either

If you need any more proof that Americans have no idea how marriage and family are supposed to work, look no further…

Our Marriage Ended.  But Our Family Did Not 

This is a New York Times blog post about a man and woman who “were toxic together” as a married couple.  But, apparently, they still make a fabulous parenting team.

“Of course we tried staying together for the sake of our son… [But eventually] I knew that staying together might be the worst thing we could do for him…

On the days it hurt to look at each other, our innocent child was passed from his father’s arms to mine without so much as a glance. We knew we couldn’t continue on like we were.

[Then, my ex] called me to say that our boy had come down with the flu and was asking for me. I didn’t remind him that we weren’t on speaking terms, but instead hung up and raced the 12 blocks between our homes.

…I quietly watched from the doorway as [my ex] softly stroked the little bald spot on the back of our son’s head. This was why I had chosen to have a child with this man. It was no longer important what kind of husband he’d been; that part was now past. As a father he was exactly the partner I needed: patient, present, committed in every way.”

So, there you have it.  Her ex was a lousy spouse. She couldn’t stand being married to him for another day.

But he’s a terrific Daddy.

If you don’t think about it too hard, that distinction almost sounds beautiful. You might even call these two “mature” or “wise” for being able to respect each other as parents, despite their ugly divorce.

But chew on that thought a little longer, and you can’t help wondering:  what sorts of qualities could possibly be bad enough to end a marriage–and NOT bad enough to make you a poor parent???

So, this man is patient and present, nurturing and consistent with his infant, but he CAN’T be that kind of spouse?  (Or, perhaps, she just wasn’t willing to stick around while he learned how to be that kind of husband?)

On the flip side, maybe he has anger issues, or problems keeping promises, or a hundred other things that make him really hard to live with. But, I guarantee he will lose his temper and disappoint that child many times in the next 18 years.

Should the child divorce him?

Or, can we agree that family sticks together, no matter what?

—-

See, the problem I have with this article is the way the author draws a line between “marriage”  and “family,” when they are supposed to be the same thing. She says, essentially, “Our marriage was temporary–but our family is forever.”

So I ask, “Why can’t you just apply the same commitment to your marriage?”

Over time, most marriages take on a brother-sister dynamic. You take each other for granted. Little, unimportant things start to annoy you. And, let’s face it, some brothers/sisters fight loudly and often.

But that doesn’t mean you stop being family.

The recognition that you will be together forever and work as a team (regardless of feelings) is precisely what BOTH marriage and family are all about.

When you make your wedding-day vows, you are saying, from this day forward, YOU and I will find a way to put our differences aside for the sake of unity. For the sake of the team.

You’re saying, “I do take you as part of my family.”

Even as the passion comes and goes, and you encounter more boring (or even bitter) days than happy or exciting ones, you find a way to work it out.

Because marriage is not just a tax benefit.

It’s not an elevated dating relationship.

It’s not a business transaction or a contract.

And it’s NOT a certain list of qualities you like or don’t like about each other.

Marriage is family–and family is forever.

Lord, help us. We’re so confused…

Dontcha Wish YOUR Culture Was This “Natural?”

I came across this interview with photographer Jimmy Nelson recently.  It’s such a great example of a non-violent war that I had to share…

In the article, Mr. Nelson says lots of pretty things about living simply and “naturally,” but I noticed some serious confusion in his worldview.

First, here are some of his quotes which probably appeal to many of us:

-“These tribes are some of the world’s last traditional cultures… If [they disappear] the world will go upside-down, because these tribes give us the balance of culture, of knowledge, and of the world’s last natural environments…”

– “[The children] are all fed by the breast. They feed them until they’re 4 or 5 years old… It builds their whole immune system. And there’s no structure to it. It’s just when they’re hungry, they eat. There’s none of this, “They should eat, they shouldn’t eat, it’s now bedtime, we’re going to have to wean them off.”  …they’re never left alone. If the parents are working, the other brothers and sisters carry the babies. They’re always sleeping between the parents, or the brothers and sisters, and from when the day begins, they’re attached to another human being.”

– “I think we dissociate ourselves too much from our children. In the tribes, there isn’t really a separation of child and adult, or old person, or teenager. The children are as important as the old people, but they have different strengths and weaknesses. Everybody works together as a community, as a unit, because you need each other to function and survive.” 

You probably know a parent who shares these philosophies about “natural parenting.” So, I want to clarify, I don’t necessarily have a problem with the Attachment Style, per se.

I only want to point out that our use of terms like “roots” and “natural” aren’t really as clear-cut as we like to believe.  And, if we’re not careful, we could end up with a very big bias against our own culture–much like Jimmy Nelson has.

Despite Mr. Nelson’s claim that he just wants to preserve the beauty of tribal communities, there’s a downside to his hearty praise for everything the bushmen do. The more he talks, the more he reveals his hatred for what industrialized cultures represent.  (You know? The societies that invented his camera?)

Just read this fairly harsh jab at Western culture:

[Edward Curtis] spent 30 years traveling around America, photographing the last Indians. Everybody laughed at him. Everybody said, “This is a waste of time. These people are dirty. They’re covered in leather, and they’ve got feathers in their hair, and they sing silly songs. It’s far more important we get rid of them, or they get rid of their cultures, and we move on.” One hundred years later, look at America. In my opinion, it’s one of the most culturally impoverished and socially sick places on the planet. They all have the biggest cars, but also the biggest bellies and the biggest guns. That, I would argue, is because they’ve lost their cultural roots. Who am I? Where am I from?      

Really???

I think Mr. Nelson is taking advantage of the fact that American culture does NOT condone scalping people for saying untrue/offensive things. Since we believe in free speech and individuality, most Americans will allow him to be as misinformed about our history as he wants to be…

However, I find it pretty obnoxious that he can only see the beauty of the people in his pictures–at the expense of the people whose technology and education allows him to be a photographer in the first place.

Have the bushmen ever produced a generation of kids that gets to study other cultures?

Uh, no.

Do the bushmen even stand the chance of learning to read? Flying around the world? To participate in an interview or write a blog about how “impoverished” and “socially sick” the Americans are?

No, no, and nope.

In fact, Mr. Nelson admits, they won’t even survive unless they’re born “fit” enough.

It’s thanks to western progress–and, yes, wealth–that a sickly or disabled person in our country also has a reasonable opportunity to learn, travel, and contribute with us. Westerners get a shot at enjoying life with a loved one that tribal Africans would have to watch die.

Isn’t that something?!

Again, I don’t mean there’s nothing to learn from indigenous people.  I can appreciate the warnings against materialism and the goal of reconnecting with neighbors, etc. etc.

But all the talk about physical contact all day long–thinking of nothing except what to eat for dinner–and then sleeping in a big pile with friends and strangers alike, and I just can’t help thinking: “That’s because they don’t have any other options!!!!” 

I know I’m not supposed to say “our way of life is better,” but going out to a restaurant and then cuddling under an electric blanket certainly isn’t worse.

These tribes aren’t living “naturally” because they know these deep secrets we’ve since forgotten.  They hold their babies all day and eat/sleep/bathe together, because there’s nothing else to do!

And this becomes a problem when we believe we need to make our own culture look more like theirs.

See, what most liberally-educated people like Mr. Nelson mean by “natural” isn’t always clear and consistent… The word doesn’t strictly mean “the way things are done in nature,” because sometimes Nature does things we don’t like.

What Nelson means by “natural” is just another way to say “anything I find good,” which also usually means “the opposite of how we do it in the West.” 

Do you enjoy cars and sports and Twinkies?

That’s not natural.

Do you make use of all four bedrooms in your home by giving Baby her own?

Then you really need to try cuddling with Bob and Betty on a dirt floor.

Does your culture give structure to children–setting goals and delivering consequences when they cross the lines?

Then, you probably should let them sleep with their boy/girlfriend instead…    Oh, wait, if you didn’t read the original article, this is the quote I’m referencing:

now with three [teenaged] children, we all still sleep in the same bed. We’ve got two mattresses together. My two eldest daughters have boyfriends, so when the boyfriends visit, they go to their own room. If there are no girlfriends or boyfriends, we all sleep in the same bed…”

Yes, you read that correctly.  They have a separate bedroom for their teens to use only if they are having sex with their boyfriends.  The rest of the time, they sleep with Mom and Dad.

Of course, somebody like me wonders, “Why not sleep with your teenaged daughters and their boyfriends all together?”

Then, maybe someone from another country can come take pictures of the family orgy, to show that it’s “natural” and “beautiful?”

No?

Anyway, this type of moral confusion is precisely why we can’t compare different cultures based solely on “closeness to nature.”  We can’t decide whether a people group is doing things right/wrong on their amount of material possessions alone.

(And, despite what Mr. Nelson seems to believe, even if a child rides around on a parent’s back their entire lives, they’re still not having all of their needs met.)

There are pros and cons to all living styles, but every society needs the Gospel. 

Interestingly, there are a few areas that the Bible warns our “natural” instincts or tendencies are NOT good for us.  So, we have to be careful before praising everything that’s done by a tribal community, just because they don’t have “big bellies and big guns.”

We must, must have a standard for good, healthy living, other than subconsciously believing we need to do whatever people who live in huts are doing.