For people in the secular-o-sphere, you would have to be living under a rock not to have seen the massive implosion surrounding Ophelia Benson’s gender politics that’s been going on for the past week and a half. Heather McNamara, Heina Dadabhoy, and Jason Thibeault (among many others, I’m sure) have all provided great analyses.
I would be remiss not to mention that long before these events, Alex Gabriel wrote with nuance about Ophelia’s dogwhistle remarks, and this piece sets important background for what has been transpiring. I’m adding a brief commentary of my own, as some people are still expressing a ton of confusion over what went wrong here. Granted, if the great writers I just linked can’t convince you of the problems at hand, I’m sure I also can’t, but as a person who pays a lot of attention to how people express themselves, and what they say or don’t say, I feel compelled to weigh in.
It all began with this post about Free Pride Glasgow banning drag.
Now, I’m the kind of person who encourages nuance and complexity. I think there are many ways of approaching drag and the conversation on drag. Writers as diverse as Judith Butler and Matt Baume have written on the subversive potential of drag. There have also been discussions of the misogyny and transmisogyny in drag performances and the insensitivity of some drag performers to trans women (and this discussion is far from over). My point here is that this discussion has been had, but ...more
Recently I went to subscribe to YouTube user LogicRollsTheDice and one video that detailed a litany of thought experiments on normative ethics gained my interests. For those of my readers who do not know what normative ethics is, what will first be detailed is a distinction between normative ethics and meta-ethics. Meta-ethics is usually the topic of choice around these here blogs. The purpose of meta-ethics is about discovering what the natures (or meanings and intentions) of what moral propositions are meant to convey; for example, what does it mean to say “it is wrong to kill purely for fun”? Is it a self-evident statement like mathematics? Is it identical to a natural property like causing pain or pleasure? Is it purely emotional with no emotion? Are they the commands of God? For more on that and various positions therein, check out the article on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Normative ethics comes after the meta-ethic has been established. Once the meaning of ethical statements has been established, we can then build on which actions we ought to take and model our lives after. There are deontological based ethics, which revolve around following rules which we are obliged to keep. There are virtue based ethics, which revolve around building proper human character. The main focus of this article will be on consequentialist ethics. These are ethics based on the outcome or result of a particular action. There are many subsets on this form of ethical thought (including, but not limited to utilitarianism, egoism and ...more
As a skeptic, I see a lot of discussions about what constitutes good atheism or bad atheism. I also see discussions about where or how it's considered rude to express your disbelief. Perhaps most relevantly, I see discussions about where or how it becomes rude to express your disbelief in someone else's belief.
I feel like the bulk of atheists I personally know tend to take a pretty hands-off approach to discussing religious beliefs, focusing more on the social side of religions. That's understandable for many reasons, and I think the lousy actions we associate with individuals such as Famous Atheists Who Are Kinda Dicks probably have contributed to an atmosphere where most of us endeavor not to be that dick.
On the other hand, where do we draw the line? And where does that line become about secular respectability politics?
I'm remembering this conversation I saw a few years ago.
I used to belong to a private IRC chatroom where about ~20 people would come in and out regularly. There mostly wasn't a set topic or theme. A couple of people in the chat were Unitarian Universalists. There were also some progressive Christians. And, of course, there were atheists, some of whom were outspoken skeptics and some of whom were more passive in their secularism.
One day, one UU and an atheist, one who I deemed to be more in the passive camp, had a pretty awful argument.
It started like this.
They were discussing some belief -- I honestly can't even remember what -- but ...more
I first learned to knit in high school. I forget who taught me, but I learned English style throwing. It sucked. I didn't stick with it.
In college I would get stressed out and watch TV with my roommate who would knit the whole time. I wanted to learn something that I could do during down time like that but wasn't so finicky about being put down in the middle of a row so she taught me to crochet. I never looked back.
I may have gone a little overboard with my first project but I completed it, and I learned a lot.
I crocheted constantly throughout college for 6 years before I picked up knitting again - this time Continental style, much easier. One of my first knitting projects was this:
I finished in summer and said "screw it" to sleeves.
Since then, I've gone kind of nuts and now I also spin my own yarn on my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel:
My love - my Ashford Traditional wheel.
Here is only some of the yarn I've spun so far... click the image to see details.
Handspun Yarn - click through to see details via Ravelry
If you are also a yarnie, you can keep up with me on Ravelry, add me here. Otherwise I will update here semi-regularly when fun new stuff is happening.
If you don't know half of what I even said in this post, stick around, I'll cover the basics in the future.
Thanks for reading! If you like what I write, ...more
Sometimes, my relationship with critical analysis of media and fiction can feel complicated.
For years now, I guess for most of my life, I’ve seen all kinds of analyses of media which scrutinize any given piece according to its portrayals of women (tons of essays), PoC, LGBT issues (usually to lament the total absence thereof), ability, and other issues of representation.
Debates like the following occur: Is this feminist? Is that feminist? Is it feminist from one angle but not another angle? Strong female characters. Diverse female characters. Huge debates about whether a particular female character is for the male gaze or a feminist icon or whether she’s for the male gaze but can be viewed as a feminist icon anyway. (I’m using the example of feminist analysis because it’s, in a generalized sense, by far what I’ve seen the most of, but I’ve seen versions of this discussion or debate with all other categories of representation as well.)
As a progressive (I hope) sort of person, I feel all this. I mean, it’s high time that video games, comics, books, and -- pretty much everything -- stopped being so sexist and showed more diversity. What kind of douchebag wouldn’t appreciate a sensitive and nuanced series like Avatar/LoK, where plenty of races and ethnic groups are represented, women do stuff, and disability is handled beautifully?
Here’s where the It’s Complicated begins:
Problematic. How the above discourse segues into problematic. How we discuss problematic.
Every so often, I see a version of “It’s Okay to Like Problematic ...more
There’s a story I want to tell. There’s something I’m trying to make sense of. I’ve held off on writing this post until now because I’m not sure of my ability to adequately synthesize my thoughts. I’m caught in a sort of Foucaultian conundrum about discourses. But yesterday, something catalyzed me.
I want you to understand the scenes within which I move through the world. My office building, a twenty-two story high-rise owned by a prominent newscasting organization, lies in the heart of Downtown, amid urban sprawl and ongoing construction work. An open-air mall sits behind the stone pavilion where my building gives way to the markers of the middle class, the Panera and Starbucks, where women in dress jackets and heels and men in suits congregate for their lunch breaks. This is the business district. Nearby, less than two streets away, are the totems of law and local government power: the courthouse, the social security office, the federal buildings. From my office window, I can sometimes see and hear protest marches in the street below. Mexican nationals in Aztec regalia, an anti-ISIS rally by the Kurdish community just down the street, people organizing around my building demanding that its owner organization give better coverage to the cause of Palestinian rights. And everywhere, you see the poor, the disabled, and the homeless.
Yesterday, I was on my final break of the afternoon. Sitting outside, reading articles on my phone, I overheard an argument:
“Do you know how much these cost?” a kid was ...more
I've decided to republish a paper I wrote for my seminary on the role of Predestination in the theology of Paul. I hope that it is enjoyed.
When Saint Paul was writing about concepts of predestination in his work The Book of Romans, he could not have conceived of the oncoming theological debates that were spawned from his work. From Saint Augustine and his theological clashes with the Pelagians, to the disputes between the Thomists and the Molinists, and culminating with the heavier emphasis placed on the notion by Calvinists and Jansenists, the doctrine of predestination had a huge role in the formation of Christian history. It stems from three places in the attributed Pauline corpus. These places are in Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 1:4-11, and 1 Corinthians 2:7. From these verses, I intend to establish that predestination is best understood as a divine reality, which gathers the church for a greater plan in God’s creation.
The first place in the Pauline corpus to analyze the term “predestine” is verse 1st Corinthians 2:7. Here, Paul is describing the nature of God’s wisdom. He says,
but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
In this chapter, Paul claims that he knows no superiority to any other Jesus follower, nor would he want any. Paul takes the emphasis of the epistle off of him, and directs it towards God. He then puts the focus on God and his authority; contrasting it with the authorities ...more
I was never a gamer growing up. My brother and I were not allowed to ever own a console. We would be allowed to rent a Nintendo 64 and two games for one week each if we had good grades at the end of a school year. Besides that, we had a limited selection of mainly educational 90's PC games and my brother would buy the various iterations of Game Boy controllers with his own money where I preferred to save my dollars. Still, we both had some interest in games and while he went towards first-person-shooters and RPGs, I gravitated towards simulation and adventure games. Although we both played the original Roller Coaster Tycoon on our parent's old Windows '98 desktop for at least ten years after the fact.
These days though, I'm beginning to find more fun and value in video games, but I find myself a bit stunted in the inherent knowledge of gaming many others (especially guys) in my generation seem to have. The barrier to entry seems to necessitate having had a childhood filled with gaming experience that I just never received. But with a lot of wiki-reading and getting lost in some forums and a considerable amount of help from my more savvy friends, I've found a way to enjoy some rather complicated games today.
Still, I hate to think of others wanting to give these games a try without the help I've had and it's inspired me to have the idea of creating gaming newb tutorials. Videos for ...more
I read the Bible.
The entire Bible. Cover to cover. At least, the Protestant version. There are other versions, other Gospels, many of them relegated to what we call apocrypha. I did it because I set a New Year’s resolution in December of 2014, and that resolution was to study the sacred texts of the world (or “sacred texts” -- I am after all an atheist). I set that resolution because what we as human beings have is our history, and the oldest writings which preserve history and myth do a great deal to inform much later writing.
Whether we like it or not, whether we’re believers or not, whether we want a secular world or not, art and literature throughout the planet and certainly the tradition we’ve inherited from the Renaissance and medieval times are imprinted with symbols from the stories of the Bible. Not to put too fine a point upon it, but history and literature are my life. I can’t imagine a life that’s not dedicated to a lot of backwards-gazing, a lot of thinking upon the struggles from one era to another.
Let me quote from Gregory Mobley (“The Return of the Chaos Monsters: and Other Backstories of the Bible”) --
“I am passionate about stories, and about the way that humans tell stories to themselves and each other in order to make sense of the chaos. There are stories that humans have been telling ever since they wandered off the savannas of the southern trough of the Great Rift ...more