Thursday, April 28, 2016

Conform so as to Reform

I am still under the weather. A different bug now, I think. The former one was a cold; this one a flu. It's not terrible, but it has sapped me of strength. The strength, evidently, to change my clothes. I have been wearing the same shirt all weak.

Now, I was just talking to a friend about the tendency of young minds to think in polarities: good/bad, free/oppressive, etc., and how we have to bear that in mind when raising our children in the Faith.

But what I want to talk about is polarity in pedagogy, for I have been confronted in virutally the same moment by a  passage from Coleridge which I very much like,

There are indeed modes of teaching which have produced, and are producing, youths of a very different stamp; modes of teaching, in comparison with which we have been called on to despise our great public schools, and universities,
                     in whose halls are hung
    Armoury of the invincible knights of old—
modes, by which children are to be metamorphosed into prodigies. And prodigies with a vengeance have I known thus produced; prodigies of self-conceit, shallowness, arrogance, and infidelity! Instead of storing the memory, during the period when the memory is the predominant faculty, with facts for the after exercise of the judgment; and instead of awakening by the noblest models the fond and unmixed love and admiration, which is the natural and graceful temper of early youth; these nurslings of improved pedagogy are taught to dispute and decide; to suspect all but their own and their lecturer's wisdom; and to hold nothing sacred from their contempt, but their own contemptible arrogance; boy-graduates in all the technicals, and in all the dirty passions and impudence of anonymous criticism... (Biographia Literaria, 1)

and a passage from the indomitable Nietzsche which I very much like which contradicts it:

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

There is truth in both of these, I maintain, but how can there be truth in both sides of a contradiction?

The subject of these quotes, I will say, sits right at the heart of the crisis in education we know today.

But the matter isn't one of either/or. Only young minds need to think in terms of polarities. 

Coleridge is speaking about the discipline of learning. We can only learn well by learning the things that have come before us, by disciplining the mind by means of the hard work of memorization, imitation, and analysis. Nietzsche is criticizing people who stop at that point. Coleridge's point is that 'kids today' try to build the roof before the supports are in place. Both of their points are relevant to us today.

Why do all (mostly all) university students believe in left-wingism? It is because they have not been taught how to think, but what to think. As such, they have not been taken through the hard work of understanding the other side. 

For as much as one can balk at the old pedagogy of learning Latin inside-out, memorizing poems and speeches ad nauseum, these are exercises for strengthening the brain, to get it used to seeing connections, etc. When you think of the new weird approach to teaching math our kids are being subjected to today, we see that it is meant well but terribly executed. The problem is they are aiming this kind of thinking at the wrong age of kid. Just teach them the times tables. In time lead them to see the 'truth' behind it. You can't teach math with estimations. Teach them the laws first and then they will become flexible enough in mind in order to estimate. Law school teaches the law. Judges are the result of years of working with that clay. Coleridge is saying the you can't judge until you know that rules inside out. Nietzsche is (or should be) saying that the whole point is to get the point where you can see the whole and then raise some fundamental questions about it, not just take it for what it is.

I have a deep passion for learning. It pains me sometimes. I dearly wish to learn everything. I don't know why. Plato would say because I am a human being inescapably drawn to the forms of truth, beauty, and goodness. Aristotle said that all people by nature desire to know. I want to be like God - that wasn't wrong of Adam and Eve. I want to learn math so passionately, and chemistry, ancient dead languages, and literature...

I don't mind doing the work. I just wish I had the means to do so.

Which brings me back to the 'controversy' that has erupted on my SCCB site. Without getting into it, I just want to say that perspective is important. Ideologues have little perspective. They tend to see everything in black and white. Personality-wise, extreme left-wingers and extreme right-wingers are the same. This is why it didn't surprise me at all that Michael Voris had the kind of background he did. It doesn't matter. God forgives him. But it's the extremism that is so interesting. Remember Fr. Corapi? How do you go from drug addict, to hard line Catholic, to drug addict? That's called persistent instability, my friends. The great mystics always understood the spiritual life as a matter of attaining to a sort of peace, of stability, they called apatheia. You can't get there by never restraining yourself, including your anger towards evil.

Education is personal formation, no different from the life of prayer. All formation requires discipline, self-restraint, exercise. 

Working out with 20 lbs dumbbells is boring. But you can't get to the 40s or 50s without them. Everyone wants to be the rebel philosopher. But you have to learn your Venn Diagrams first. Plato said you had to learn math before you could go on to philosophy. Hearing that was a real downer to Justin Martyr. Justin learned discipline, just in another way. The point is, you can't escape it so you might as well just dive in. Whether it's math, chemistry, computers or theology. Most just want to assume the mantle without putting in the work.

* Incidentally, I had to re-title this post. I hated the one I gave it, but my sick, muddled brain could not think of a better one.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Post to McPike

Seeing that I am under the weather today, which immunizes me against the accusatory - "Why aren't you looking for a job?!" and the "Why aren't you cleaning the house?!" - I will take the opportunity to offer a few comments on an article posted by sage philosopher, Dr. David McPike.

McPike in his study.
The article can be found at the First Things site, and is entitled, "Scientific Regress," and was written by a William A. Wilson. I am not only including McPike's name in this post because he was the one who brought it to my attention. I am also doing so because he - much more than me - grasps all the implications of the article.

In a nutshell the article is about all the errors that creep into scientific publications. There is a bias towards 'false positives,' for instance, and the author blames both the self-interest of researchers (i.e., their interest in grant money) and the cult of science for this regress. And the problem is significant: in a few recent investigations, roughly 2/3 of the accepted studies could not be repeated. The article is extremely good, and my crude summary does it ill justice.

Here I want expand on William's observations, especially with respect to humanity in general and to the Church in particular.

The first things I thought of were the "Global warming consensus" and the homosexuality issue (now also transgenderism). Let me put it plainly: if people at their best (i.e., trained researchers in their labs) are producing more error than truth, which is what 2/3 is) usually get things wrong (or at least accept as true what they have not actually established as true (or at least not false, since science is more about dis-confirmation rather than confirmation)), how reliable, then, is science at the popular level?

Of course, not reliable at all. In fact, it stands to reason that whatever "science says" at the popular level is more likely to be false than true.

We should always ask about our personal stake in the matter: Why do we need global warming to be true? Why do we need gender theory to be true?

Black Lives people need an innocent black guy shot by police. Gay people need Matthew Shepard. Liberals need people fleeing from injustice. Conservatives need Muslim rampagers and Mexican drug lords. Who is right? To get a reliable answer,  I would not ask too many people in the media. (As for the media consider this. It is nice to see that some people are noticing the new infringements in places like Germany.)

The fact is - as Williams makes abundantly obvious - finding statistical links is rather difficult and involves very subtle reasoning and analysis. A matter as complex as human sexuality cannot be adequately addressed with slogans and political pressure.

Over the past few months I have enjoyed listening to an old show called "Love Line," which starred Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew Pinsky. Carroll is the comedian and Pinsky the psychologist who specializes in addiction medicine. Both have since appeared on many shows, and, I believe, the Adam Carolla Show is still active, although I could be wrong. Anyway, as regards Pinsky, I have found much of his analysis good to the point of being politically incorrect at certain times. And yet he would always let homosexuals off the hook, so to speak. If a girl phoned in who was sexually promiscuous they would instantly nail her as having been abused in some capacity - and I cannot think of a single instance when they were proven wrong. But they never really inquired into the past of the gay person. Why?

There is a well-known case when the great (in my opinion) conservative, Ben Shapiro, appearing on the Dr. Drew Show, during which he was threatened with physical violence by a transvestite (is this the right term? I neither know nor care). Watch it here with Shapiro's commentary. Now, the only reason I bring this up is to point out Drew's handling of the issue of transgenderism. He never says it is 'normal,' 'good' or anything like that. But neither does he actually dispute many of Shapiro's assertions. Indeed, a psychologist does not primarily act as a 'truth-seeker,' as if he were in a laboratory; psychologists primarily act as 'life coaches.' Like a priest in a confessional, rather than like a priest in the pulpit - although this analogy is rather weak, admittedly. Dr. Drew is in a precarious position, unlike the majority of his lib-tard guests. He cannot actually say that a tranny has the sort of genetic structure they claim to have, because, after all, as a doctor, he is a man of science. But neither can he say that it is bad or unhealthy to be tranny. But as someone who has listened to Carolla and Drew for hundreds of hours, I know that Drew thinks it is a mental problem at its heart and that surgery is a bad course of action. Drew has changed his tune somewhat since the late 90s when the Love Line show premiered, and this is because of the new heat on the issue (witness the North Carolina bathroom crisis, which would have been unimaginable twenty years ago.) He changes his tune by never making any one feel bad. Of course, people interpret this as agreement with regnant gender theory.

BTW, Carolla has a little bit more integrity because he doesn't mind hurting people's feelings.

Okay, so we know the world is not that scientific or rational. That's hardly news.

In the Church

Yes, Catholics get confused about stuff too. If there is one type of Facebook friend I cannot bear it is the kind who gets all tripped-up over the gay stuff. De-friending - that's my favour to you. Unlike Dr. Drew Pinsky, I have a duty to cure you of your idiocy. And one way I can do that is to tell you that you are not fit for me to talk to.

But this is not how I want to apply "Scientific Regress" to the Church. I want to talk a bit about the errors the Church makes in evangelization/education.

Wait, wait! You will no doubt be saying at this point. What does one have to do with the other???

A few things. For one, results. Do we read the results such as they are or such as we would like them to be?

1. Let me give an example that has annoyed me a lot over the last few years: the idea that girls are more innocent than boys, are always the aggrieved party, whatever. This is pretty universal in Catholic educational circles. It is the white knight syndrome. It is based upon a few unsubstantiated premises, which can be summed up as the result of (a) feminism, (b) wish-fulfillment in Catholic men that there are "pure virgins" out there, whom I can save.

But how is this about evangelization? When you alienate boys in Catholic institutions because, in your mind, they are the enemy, you destroy the future of the Church.

What else?

That is but one example of how we superimpose our ideas onto our actual experience and end up warping our understanding of it.

2. Another bias to false positives. Careers. Like careers in science, careers in the Church are, first of all, sadly, self-serving, that is, about self-preservation. And, as in science, much of this is somewhere below the radar of the consciousness. But some of it is not. Whether you are talking about teaching in schools, working in parishes, in chanceries, universities, or charities, keeping the job is more important than following Christ (and one's conscience). Accordingly, you will analyze data according to the metric of what is accepted, political, and all that. You cannot imagine that Christ would actually require you to stick your neck out. And so you don't imagine it.

Church work is no place for thoughtful people. But again, neither is anywhere else.

All of human life is about conforming to the status quo so as to get your slice of the pie. Thoughtful people are too distracted by the clouds to bear that continually in mind.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Dumber or Smarter

One of the most interesting things that I have noticed about the cultural wars is a specific part of the disagreement between lefties and righties. Lefties believe that people are getting smarter, righties dumber. As to the first, consider this. As to the second position, consider this.

Both cannot be correct, obviously. But as with most things, the truth is not so simple. From what I have concluded, both are a little bit right, but the righties are more right.

IQs went up during WWI because governments started adding iodine to salt. Yes, that is evidently true. The problem is, progressives are still riding on that wave. This is why they always go back to 1914 or somewhere around then to talk about increasing IQ. But that was a one-shot deal. Since then, or I should actually say, since the invention of the TV, radio and internet, IQs have shot down as quickly as water down the Niagara, as viewed by a short 6-second clip on your iPhone.

I have always said that I am a genius only because no one else reads. I decided to know more than anyone else at about 15-years-of-age and have never looked back. I have read as many books as an eighty-year-old has and I am only forty-one. A century ago I would be worthy of little more than shoveling coal or delivering big blocks of ice to housewives to stick in their ice boxes, because, a century ago everyone could write in Alexandrines, read Greek, Latin and French, could tell you all about the history of England, France, Persia and the Etruscans, and pin-point lower-upper-eastern New Guinea on a map.

But progressives are obviously interested in proving that progress has progressed. And they point to things like math. "We might not know Latin, but we know calculus," they say, "and that's way more important!"

First of all, we don't know calculus. Second of all, it is not more important.

How is it more important that a bunch of bank tellers, shoe salesmen, secretaries and elementary school teachers know calculus than that they know Latin?

Objectively speaking, math is more important, they say, picking up on Francis Bacon's materialistic reasoning.

And yet I continue, no it's not, picking up on John Henry Newman's liberal reasoning.

I am not a Latin-aholic. I would say exactly what I am arguing but slip in Greek, Hebrew, French, Mandarin. I would also slip in philosophy and poetry.

What disciplines develop the mind better than others? Math taught to pass a test but that is not really understood would be low on the list.

I am not against math. I find it extremely interesting. In fact, more of my mental muscle has been exercised on math this year than on just about anything else (other than on In Design, perhaps). I enjoy math. One of my wishes is to do a math degree. I doubt I will ever get the chance, alas. But if I win the lottery...

Math is the logic of quantities. I have studied logic and it has put me in a position where I was not before I had studied logic/philosophy. I could never have progressed in math before I did my degree in philosophy. Now everything seems, well, if not exactly easy, then possible and matter-of-fact. Let me put it this way: studying a new language involves much more work than studying math. There is much more to learn in the former. Technique and logic have much less to do with learning a language than learning math. Languages, after all, admit of myriad exceptions to rules, math not a one.

Now utility. Math, they say, is useful. Indeed, it is. I use basic math not only every day, but every hour. Basic math. Calculus. Let me see, other than not being qualified to teach advanced math, my ignorance of calculus seems not to have effected my life all that much. Not being bilingual has effected me, but Brazilian Colin would not need to know French, nor even American Colin. Spanish would be far more valuable in the US for a typical person than knowledge of calculus; French more valuable in Canada than calculus.

All subjects - even feminist theory and queer studies - develop the mind. It all depends on how they are studied. Math is a definite mind-expander, but I cannot see how it is so more than history, comparative religion, etc. Even morally beneficial. I believe all disciplines are morally beneficial too. My problem with 'queer studies' is not the subject, but the approach; feminism too. Women and homosexuality are fascinating topics, but I do not study to learn to adhere to an orthodoxy, but to learn the academic lay of the land: the theories, the stats., etc. There is nothing immoral about psychology, or about the chemistry of explosives, about nuclear physics or cancer research. You can't get cancer by studying it.

I will offer this: anyone who posits that we should study math must by the same logic posit the studying of poetry.

But as for progress or regress, what are the politics here? Why would one maintain either one? Because they are advancing an ideology. Star Trek: if you want a future with no disease or poverty, you must give up religion and adopt a doctrine of complete authoritarianism aimed at social engineering, i.e., what the United Nations, the European Union and other lefties are all up to.

Lefties tell us that the past was bad so that we will do the opposite. The past was Christian therefore let's not have any of that. They point to slavery and implicate Christianity in that; they epitomize the Church's relationship with science in terms of the Galileo affair. This would be the equivalent of saying all gays are evil because Rohm was gay (head of the Nazi SA, like the SS). Such insinuations are slanderous, of course, except when they are used against Christians.

Righties are pro-family and pro-Christianity, are therefore tend to idealize the past: they idealize the American Founders, etc., beyond their dessert; lefties villainize American history beyond its dessert.

But it doesn't take much looking to realize that the West is in trouble, if our subject is IQ, that is. People don't read. Kids don't read. People always have their stupid phones in their faces. This is a generation of idiots. Therefore, in this regard, the left is wrong. What a surprise!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Walls to Keep Idiots in, Please

The latest statement of Pope Francis does not err in fact, but in prudence. If you are going to start singling out non-Christian policies and politicians, you have to single all of them out. And he has not.

Walls. Pope Francis is not incorrect that not sharing is not Christian, but he is incorrect not to distinguish between the duty of the US government and the duty of the individuals who make it up. IBM does not have a moral duty to share its profits with Cambodia. The people who work for it might. The US has no duty to share its wealth with Mexico, Guatemala, etc., the American people might, though. IBM has no moral duty to ensure its employees spend their money wisely, practice good dental hygiene, etc. Indeed, one might argue that the company has a moral duty not to interfere in such matters.

A pope must constantly talk about the moral duty of individuals to share. But he cannot very well insist that walls, armies, etc., are unChristian per se. The Catechism teaches us that we have a right to private property and that we have a right to defend ourselves and to live in communities of our own choosing. No one has a right to move into my house without my say-so. He has Swiss Guards, the White House has Secret Service, and good ol' Mark Zuckerberg likely has security far beyond what I have. No one has the right to come into my house, despite the fact that I have some floor space for them to sleep on and some black beans in the cupboard that I won't likely eat this week.

I have a theoretical duty to share everything that I have in excess. But what is excess and who gets to decide? I do. I might decide to share with the people in Somalia rather than the random poor dude who shows up at my house tonight and wants Doritos because he is hammered and hungry. I might decide to invest my money (all 35 cents of it) so that I can share more (i.e. $5) later.

It is one thing to say that we need to share. It is quite another to dictate the strategy that the American people must adopt in their sharing. It is not the pope's right to say that 307,000,000 Americans must share with the Mexicans and Guatemalans who show up at the border. A specific citizen may want to share his excess with those who haven't the means to even arrive at the southern border, i.e., those in Somalia.

As the father of this family the pope has no right to tell me that I must share with the Cancer Society canvassers who show up at my door. It is not unChristian not to do so. I am the pope of my family and it is my duty to evaluate the best way to live out our vocation in our immediate circumstances. For a pope who is in to decentralization, this strikes me as inconsistent overreach. I cannot go to him and say that the Vatican has a duty to pay for my children's good Christian education. Sure, that's a good thing, but it not the only good thing that the Church can do with its limited resources.

The pope's muddled references to this and to the abortion/Zika thing are not incorrect, but they are incoherent. They are the words of someone with the right principles in mind, but they are jumbled together. It is one thing to write a coherent tract on ethics (which is what Benedict always did) it is quite another thing to listen to a seminarian home on Christmas vacation after his first semester in the seminary talk about the principle of double-effect, the universal destination of goods, of proportionality, etc. He said nothing incorrect about abortion (nor about the Paul VI thing, btw, contrary to Fr. Z's opinion). But he said it like a freshly minted theology professor, not a pope.

Friday, January 15, 2016

You Can't be a Real Catholic Without...

Friends just came back from a week-long retreat and have mentioned the post-retreat weirdness. I understand what they mean. It's the change of spiritual perspective, the fact of having spent so much time analyzing all the presuppositions of your life...

That and lots of other things has contributed to this. As some of you know, I just finished writing a book on the Catholic Spiritual Tradition. (Currently shopping publishers.) In it I talk about the general components of the view of the spiritual life according to the Catholic tradition. The book was all about perhaps correcting people's general ideas of what our tradition is. I never said this in the book, but let me say this here:

You are not a real Catholic unless:

1. You have worked really close with the destitute (poor, mentally, psychologically ill, etc.)

2. You have not journeyed with the dying.

3. You have not gone on a long, perhaps silent, retreat.

It is the absence of these three things that has led to the crazy mixed-up picture of Christianity that we have today as a social justice thing, as a community outreach centre, as a political party, as a fact of ethnicity, etc.

* It is also fascinating to consider how 1-3 are a basic part of the lives of the clergy, and so when crazy people like Pope Francis talk about mercy, they are operating not from the false ideas of Catholicism listed above, but from their experience of 1-3. If there is one thing I learned about priests (and bishops) living with them and being friends with them, it is that their lives are full of 1-3, and if your's is not, then you cannot assume that their words are not reflective of a deeper Christian reality than might be apparent.

* It is also worth remarking that I did not list things like having children, being celibate, working in the pro-life cause above. These are all good and, indeed, hugely valuable things. But not, obviously, for everyone: you can't both raise children and be celibate (despite what all wives would like! lol) Further, I think people take those things for granted as a part of Christian life. I think we miss how essential a part of discipleship 1-3 are.

Israel has one or two years of military service for all of its citizens. I think that would help us here in Canada. As Catholics, I think half a year serving the destitute and half a year the dying should be required for something... confirmation? (then we'd have to make confirmation at 18 years of age.)

Or, just no one think they are real Catholics who have not gone through this kind of training.

Yes, I just saw The Force Awakens.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Stalin is Not Dead

You might have noticed that I haven't blogged anywhere for a while, neither here, the SCCB site, nor the CRB. Why? I don't know. Busy? I guess, but also not interested in politics. Quite disdainful of the whole business, really. People are very disappointingly depraved.

Just read an article by a fine contributor to First Things. It was written a few years back. I was linked to it via a new article of his. The article in question was called "The Last of Stalin's Foot Soldiers," and addresses the basic fact that left wing scholars have not yet come to grips with Stalin's crimes. I never realized the scope of this problem, and the fact that socialism still dominates our politics makes this a particularly regrettable fact. Now, you might insist that there is a distinction between socialism and Marxism, but there is not. Indeed, given the constants of human nature, there is no distinction between Marxism and Stalinism. Totalitarianism in economics is totalitarianism in everything. That is why the benign-looking socialism of Sanders, the NDP, all, must be opposed always. That is why gun rights must always be defended. That is why all free speech must be defended - even that of Charlie. I might have lost some of you there, but no one has yet convinced me how barring any one thing from criticism does not lead to barring a great deal of things from criticism. Christ will forgive or avenge the insults directed toward Him; I am sure He has thicker skin that me, and mine is pretty thick.

Looking back, none of my teachers said anything about Stalin. They said a great deal about Hitler. Certainly, his crimes were better hidden, but the fact is, Hitler has few living reputable defenders; Stalin has scads.

It's not about historical ignorance anymore. Stalin's archives have been well explored now. But where's the condemnation? People still wear Che Guevara t-shirts.

The left target Harper and ignore China (talk about 'straining a gnat'). Michael Moore praises Cuba because he is a socialist, not because he is an unbiased observer.

All socialism is creeping Stalinism. The deceptiveness of American left-wing politics as displayed by Obama and by Hillary Clinton's mentor, Alinsky, is a means-to-an-end strategy to bring about a socialist revolution in the US. First, disenfranchise Christians. Marginalize them as hateful extremists. Second take away guns. Third, get people dependent on government (with government jobs, with medical care, education, environmentalism, etc.) Fourth, bankrupt the economy with debt. (If you ever wondered how any politician can rationalize debt it is because the left wants debt! Realizing this was like the lights finally coming on for me.)

I don't feel like saying anything more. But if there is one take-away from all of this it is that all socialism is Marxism and must be opposed always.

This conversion of Russia nonsense. Does anyone understand that Russia was chosen by Our Lady because it was the heart of godless anti-Christianity? Was. Was. Now it is the left wing parties of the West.

So bear in mind: every government policy brings us one step closer to Marxism. Every 'free' this or that. None of it is good.

Thus, this rubric for interpreting the Church's social teaching: in themselves free this or that is good, but not in the context of actual creeping Marxism. The state must diminish. The Church should begin to teach this more clearly. The modern state is the enemy of Christ, because it is the enemy of free human choice.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Unforgiveness, etc.

I am reviewing a book for an ecclesial entity right now, you know, nihil obstat stuff. I have done it a few times now. It's always kind of fun.

Anyway, the book is on forgiveness. It's very good. I won't talk about it specifically, because that would not be fair to the author. But I am sitting here on Christmas eve and reading it is making me think of my approach to life in general.

The theme of unforgiveness is a popular one these days. I always find the forgiveness part of Christianity - as I have no doubt indicate here before - rather confusing. I just don't get what it is. Yes, I just wrote that. The author quotes a dictionary definition, and that helped me. One of the definitions the dictionary supplies is about cancelling money owed. That makes sense, so I can work outward from there. I owe someone a punch in the face for A, B and C. Okay, don't punch them; forget about what they did; work on willing good for them; do good for them. I get that.

But what I want to talk about here, rather briefly because I am supposed to be working on that book, is my attitude toward Christmas. I don't care for it. Yes, I wrote that. I only care about Christmas because my kids do. I feel like Dexter Morgan, title character of the show, Dexter, who, because he was a sociopath, went through life imitating the emotional reactions of others to things, because he didn't have them himself. I don't care about Christmas. I care about my kids and want them to have happy memories about it. Otherwise, I'd just go to mass and try and think about the manger and then go and drink eggnog by myself in a dark room.

I complained to Anne-Marie the other day that I have become a "glass half-empty person" and I hate it. My life has been hard, money-wise, as you know, and that effects a man on every level. But going through life only thinking about what is lacking is a horrible thing. I give my experience of Christmas as example. I don't celebrate it; I do it; I endure it; mostly, I can't wait until it is over so I can go back to existing and avoiding.

Why is this? Well, I refer you back to the unforgiveness book. Unforgiveness is one way we ruin our lives. Do I not like Christmas because I resent my parents? Because I had bad experiences with girls? Because I got the flu that one time? Or because... I don't like myself because I had asthma as a kid and thus did not do as well at sports as I would have liked?

How do you even begin to answer the question of why?

All I know is that I do not believe that one should go through life like I go through Christmas, and weekends, and parties, and vacations, and birthdays, and everything else. Why do some people get to enjoy life, to take it on its own, while I don't? I know a part of this is simply my depressive nature, and that is a chemical thing, but that's not all. I also know that we grew up with a sort of weird puritanism (Jansenism) under my father's influence, where we thought it was manly to not enjoy things and to spend money and to show affection and other effluent emotional displays.

Why was my dad like this? My mom says because his dad died when he was only 17. Maybe that is so; maybe it is only a partial explanation.

Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile.
I once met a young man from Sudan whose family was murdered and he had been tortured. He was as happy as anyone I had met. What the!?

The point is, I do not not like Christmas because there is something wrong with Christmas or being celebratory, or that it is too materialistic, etc. I don't enjoy it because there is something wrong with me.

Forgiveness? Well, why don't you pray for me that I will listen to God enough so that next year I will be as happy and gay as my children are on December 24/25.

Cynicism is not wisdom or temperance.