Friday, June 24, 2016

Yes, It Should be Rewarded

Back before a Mussulman shot up a gay bar in the worst attack on American citizens since 9/11, the talk of the week was the white privileged swimmer who got six months in jail for sexually assaulting a young woman. The position the MSM was pushing was that this was too light. Which is hilarious for the party of let everyone out of jail, don't obey laws, give everyone a million chances - especially violent illegal immigrants... oh, but they are not white. Sr. Helen Prejean.

So in that controversy, there were a few missteps by the defense, in a case that was - from what I could tell anyway - far from open-and-shut (for instance, the victim had no memory of what happened). One of these missteps was to imply that he had not raped anyone before. That is a dumb thing to say, but does it proceed from a completely illogical place? I have been haunted by the point and am compelled to say that its out right rejection reveals a massive problem with our present-day moral sensibilities.

One of my favorite passages in the OT - 2 Kings 2:23-24.
How I view you people. 
Just before I get started, this is not a blog about that case. I don't care about the guy who was charged. I'm not sympathetic to him. But if you think I am, go screw yourself. I don't care what you think. Sorry for the uncustomary use of harsh language, but if there is one thing I cannot stand it is our apology culture. I hate everyone and want you to know that. Being clear about this is the only foothold of assurance I have that I won't go to hell. I should be hated as much as Jesus, not loved as much as Pope Francis. So go screw yourself, you lily-livered *%$&*. I don't want to seem nice, kind or sympathetic. I hate all of you. And, no, I haven't had anything to drink tonight.

So, to begin. This is my central contention. It is a two-pointer:

1) We should be judged by what we have done and by what we have not done.
2) Other bases of judgement detract from what should be centrally considered, i.e., (1).

No, only raping once doesn't mean you should get away with one free-bee. However, a Christian man who has been pretty chaste should be commended. A woman has no idea about this, because if she felt a fraction of what he does every day, she would crumble into lascivious pieces. Contrarily, a woman who can act bravely in situations that are no problem for men, should be praised. Is walking down the street in the dark a good example?

(2) means morality is not about heroics and it is not about your position of social issues, so get that out of your heads right now. What a poor excuse for morality! You know, the only kind the left recognizes. Sham.

(1) means that morality is about normal, every day conduct. How you live your every day life is the sum-total of your morality. It is not about what you would do were an extraordinary circumstance to arise. That's how we think about ourselves, though, isn't it? "I would speak up for the underdog, I would tell Hitler no, I would..."

(1) also means that people should be commended for their responsibility, their stability, their perseverance, their diligence, their follow-through, their patience. These are not Hollywood virtues. But they are Christian virtues, and they are the ones that Paul wrote about in the letters he sent to the Churches when he was doing the heroic things, like sitting in prison. He did not say that Christian life only consists in those rare moments when you are being eaten by a lion, not even that it does especially. As I tried to make clear in my editorial for the Winter 2015 issue of the Catholic Review of Books, much of the spiritual life is about time, and much of Christian heroism consists in the bravery of waiting, of being brave enough to live.

So, a husband should be commended for one, two, twenty, forty years of fidelity to his wife. A wife should be commended for one week, twenty years of crappy suppers prepared with great effort and served with tons of sheer will-power, the sheer will-power of not slamming the plate over her husband's head. I think we, yes we, can miss this even while we celebrate milestones. Why do we note that a couple has been married for fifty years? Not because they did not just happen to not die. Not because here were two people who could not be bothered to have affairs, get a divorce, move out, etc. No, we are not - or should not be, anyway - just making a polite nod to people we might otherwise dismiss as ordinary. Come on, isn't the flip-side of our excusing of the breakdown of marriage nothing other than the marginalization of 'stable' people as boring, or less passionate than those exciting people who could not keep their marriage going? I think there is a part of this at play.
my favorite elders.

I think we tend to think of old people, for instance, as simply having lived through an easier time. They weren't buffeted by the forces that we are, we think. We see them - at best - as cute. Frankly, when we say that grandma and grandpa were truly in love, we are saying that it was therefore easier for them to stay married. F-off. It was not! Man is libidinous no matter when he walked the earth. Making due sexually with old Gertie was as hard for him as it is for any man. And, yeah, grandpa seems like an inert entity at 80, but I bet he was just as full of fire in his youth as we younger men are today - and Gertie had to endure him all those years!

Old people are not cute. They are seasoned warriors and they deserve our respect, not our coddles. Babies have done nothing and we love them; they are cute. Old people have fought long and hard. They made lots of mistakes and yet they earned a great number of honorable battle scars.

I deserve respect for what I have done and for what I chose not to do. I chose it. I could have done it (and I did do it here and there!), but generally I did not do it.

Every day that a man chooses not to get drunk, fornicate, detract, swear, be gluttonous, he did something good, something praiseworthy. Unlike us today, pre-modern people knew this and that is why their default setting was to honour age. They assumed that to arrive at 50, 60 or 70 a person had to endure a great deal: he had to participate in dozens and dozens of planting and harvests, sicknesses, losses of loved ones, embarrassments, bouts of hunger, cuts and bruises, sleepless nights, passion, cold. Maybe the old person in question was being honored for something he did not actually deserve, like, for instance, his life was especially easy, he never had to work for a thing, and did not actually ever resist his evil passions... maybe that was so, but people in the past never assumed that this would be so.

The problem is, we forget all of this today. We think being moral is not thinking a particular sexual practice is immoral. A thought - we think morality is about a thought!

No hate, we say. A feeling. We think morality is about having the right feelings and not the wrong ones. We think that moral excellence is something we can adopt in an afternoon of listening to some dimwit feminist.

Friends of mine down the road just had a baby. People congratulate them. On the baby's first birthday people will celebrate. But who will say to the parents: Hey, you did this for a whole year! Bloody good job! 

I went to my daughter's graduation from elementary school last night. When I was young I thought ceremonies like this were the dumbest things ever. It was not hard to get my diplomas. Yea, sure, I had some trouble with French and Math here and there, but I did not give everything I had in me in order to graduate. And so I took no pride in the 'accomplishment.' I was wrong not to. But I felt the same way about my two undergraduate degrees and my master's. I didn't have to work hard at them. What's more, I enjoyed the work, therefore it wasn't an accomplishment. I was wrong to think that way. My PhD was long and involved. It was a marathon. I think even if I were to run a marathon poorly I would see it as an accomplishment. That would be hard for even an idiot like me to miss. I feel my PhD as an accomplishment and I do 'celebrate' it in my heart. All my schooling was work, even if it was not as hard as it might have been and I did not suffer as I might have, I worked. My daughter is really smart. Lucky her. She is naturally smart, but she also had to get up for school (practically) every day and get dressed and talk to people every day. That is work, that required effort, that is, therefore, an accomplishment.

We are wrong not to honour milestones that are the accumulation of a million, small every day efforts.

A young person who faithfully shows up for their summer job.
A kid who has excellent attendance at school.
A family that always shows up for mass, their dentists appointments, and supper at grandmas on time.
A co-worker who practically never calls in sick.
A person who always says 'hello,' every morning, when they walk passed you. (They are as tired and as grumpy as you, BTW.)
A man who has had to live in his man body, and has every day had to chose not to flirt, take a second look at the waitress, etc., etc.
A woman who has made the bed, every day, and has cleaned up after her brood.
A man who has not serially dated, serially fornicated, visited prostitutes, watched pornography.
A man who chose to stay at home and watched the hockey game on 'the little TV' rather than gone to the sports bar and gotten wasted so he could be available to his family should they need him.
A man who continues to pray to the God who never listens to him.
A woman who mainly refuses to take advantages of all the breaks and excuses that society affords her today, just because she is a woman.

All of these things make the 40-, 60- or 80-year-old worthy of our respect.

I often think back to a rather innocuous moment in my life at sixteen. I may have even mentioned it here before. I had a job at a bingo. Some of my peers would steal small amounts of money or bingo cards. I would not. Once or twice my 'till' proved short $20. People knew I did not steal. That reputation was all I had. It served me well there. And this is the thing: I have gone many, many days, years, without stealing anything. Every day involved a choice, at some level anyway, not to do that. Who is the one who remembers these things, the things I chose not to do?

Catholicism believes in virtue-based morality. Good people are good because they have practiced good deeds. Bad people have not. It's that simple. I am a non-stealer when I have not - and only insofar as I have not - stolen things. It takes time and effort to become good, in other words. Older people, therefore, tend to be more virtuous than younger people. Has that occurred to you?

It might not have occurred to you if you, like most people today, tend to think of morality as a matter of having the right opinion about social issues.

You shall stand up in the presence of the gray-headed and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.
(Lev 19:32)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I'm Just Going to Tell Them

Sorry, guys, but I'm tired of being the heavy. I'm tired of telling the ladies what I think (which is nine times out of 10 also what you think) and getting blamed for it. It's not the being blamed for it that bugs me so much as it's the being singled out by women as the rudest, crudest person ever because of your silence. I wasn't raised to be quiet or to enable people's self-delusion. Sure, most guys aren't quite as opinionated as me, but most have opinions, and they are not always what they seem to be...

So, guys, you drove me to it:

I am sure that much of this will come as a surprise to you. I am sure that many of you will simply think that this is Colin, once again, going too far, blowing things out of proportion. Thus, many of you will continue on much as you have, believing that you are just as smart as you have always thought you were.

One thing that will keep you in your self-delusion is the fact that:

In other words, as a woman ages, people see her differently, although they seem to be treating her more or less the same. She is probably at her most physically "powerful" at around twenty, I guess. But our education system being what it is, she is probable as empty-headed as she ever was. But why do men hang on her every word? I can tell you, it more than likely ain't because she has anything wise to say. It takes time to become wise. As she grows in know-how, she also grows in power. Some people simply respect her because of her age (which they should) or because she is a mom (again, it is good that this is respected). Age and motherhood are actual achievements, I believe. But she might also have achievements in other fields - she is the only one in the office who knows how to do X, Y, or Z and therefore she is a valuable commodity. Of course, at fifty she isn't sending shivers down men's spines, at least perhaps to the degree she was at twenty.

I think this inverse graphs indicates that women can be humored their whole life long. Of course, even in the case of a woman who is truly wise, if a man is not wise, he can still humour her, believing he is right and she is wrong, but not telling her so...

The fact is, men and women do not naturally agree as much as men agree with men and women agree with women. If you do not buy this, it is simply because you are an idiot and there is nothing I can do for you. Well, I suppose I can distract you with a happy picture, while the adults read on:

So, as I was saying, men and women see the world differently. They should, because they are different and it would be weird if they didn't. I get suspicious when they don't. "What are you trying to pull?" I think, usually about the guy. To answer this question, return to the Venn Diagram at the top. One of the ways women are different from men, is that women feel more and differently than men. That's good, because, it keeps babies from getting eaten by lions and their diapers clean. Men feel less, and that keep men from trying to negotiate with criminals intent on killing, raping, etc., them and their families. These two complementary strategies have proven enormously effective, seeing that humanity is now entering into its, what, 150,000 year as a species?

Nevertheless, men do not view seat belts, children going out of the house without shoes or jackets, Johnny sixteen-year-old cracking open a cold one, etc., etc., the same way women do. We can't get excited about a woman becoming president, or even head janitor. We don't care one way or the other. A few blogs ago I talk about men and women coming at the modesty question from different angles, but perhaps even seeming to agree about it - that is a coincidence, like how we agree about lions and the evil of poor nutrition. Men want our sons to be healthy, yes, but we also want them to be able to kick some a**, if need be, and so we include this in our thinking about why Johnny should eat his vegetables. When we think about lions, our first thought is, "Can I kick its a**?" This thought never enters a woman's head.

I think men are great. I think women are great. I think children are great. I prefer men. I want to be like a man. I want to continue to think like a man, and do things in a man-way. I don't like when women try to be like men, nor when men try to be like women. I don't like them converging into a hybrid middle state. Homosexuality is an impoverishment; transsexualism is a travesty. But so too is this thing that used to be called metrosexual-ity, which is now often called being a mangina.

In sum, ladies, men are survivors. If they think they need to agree with you to get ahead and stay ahead, they will. Unfortunately, being honest, having integrity, is considered by both men and women of today (and always) as less important than material advantages. Everyone is simply not equipped to be a Socrates.

And, by the way, ladies, do you think men talk with each other the way they talk when you are around? Ninety percent of men are two-faced, spineless cowards. Five percent are manginas. The remaining five percent are either too stupid or too wise to be either.

Now some might being asking themselves, why does such a self-professed Christian Catholic write in this way? Aren't Christians supposed to be kind and always up-building? My answer: it is better to be unkind than it is to deny the truth, than it is to be two-faced. Lies and error have no place in the Kingdom of God. The most tragic thing is that we now have a culture that prizes kindness over truth. But error cannot help us.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Wisdom of the Cave

I have, of course, long thought about this. I am sure every believer who has advanced education, especially in theology, philosophy and history, and an interest in apologetics and education has. Some have perhaps even come face-to-face with the questions - is it possible, is it worthwhile to engage with others so as to spread real love of wisdom? When you seriously entertain these questions it has to bring about a kind of crisis, a vocational or professional one.

Socrates from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (aka So-crates).
Some aspects of the tradition argue against the possibility. Plato did not seek to educate mankind at large. He clearly understood that only certain people were capable of the kind of advanced education he had in mind which would make the state a better place. Aquinas realized this too. It's in the very first question of the Summa Theologica.

Nor, we have to point out, is this merely a question of choosing the smartest - although in fact every one is smart! No, they did not believe that everyone is smart enough. Marxist style criticism has done a disservice here in making us want to view the matter as one of privilege: only the rich could afford education, but if everyone had the opportunity, they could do it too! Plato and Aristotle didn't believe that by a long-shot.

Another democratizing tactic to make everyone feel better is to make a distinction between wisdom and plain-old knowledge. Everyone is capable of what really matters - wisdom. No, again, they would not agree with that. The negative consequence of this thought-pattern is the devaluation of knowledge, the role it has always been considered to have within wisdom.

Take a look in this case at Augustine. Yes, he makes the standard Christian distinction between virtue and knowledge. Virtue is what gets us in to heaven, not knowledge. But if this were true in and of itself with no further qualification required, then it would, in fact, be sinful to devote one's time to learning. Quite the contrary, says the Christian tradition. Augustine said that the best thing we can do is think about God. Think. Why would he say such a thing? Because we are thinking beings by nature and thinking about God makes Him present, and since God made all things, to think about all things makes God better known. When we think about things, those things become clearer to us, they begin to impact us - our minds and bodies, they inspire us, they preoccupy us, they work on our feelings and imagination. Aquinas (in the Summa Contra Gentiles) said that knowledge creates a desire for likeness (not just a desire for likeness, but likeness itself!). If we think about God, we will come to know Him better, and we will be transformed into His likeness. Nor do we need to take Aquinas' word for it: I spent my whole childhood trying to become a Jedi. Why do ladies watch period dramas? What are the effects of watching them? We want to be like what we see.

Knowledge and holiness are correlated. They are not proportional or identical, but correlated.

Now, all of this is just a beginning. On a topic like this, when you attempt to characterize knowledge as a whole, you are attempting to ask what it would be like to swallow a whole whale. Nevertheless, the beginning we have made is sufficient to characterize the attitude we should have when undertaking the task: what are the virtues, attitudes or techniques we should apply in undertaking it?

I think the two most general ones are humility and industry. Humility is an attitude that appreciates the greatness of things, and that recognizes one's small place in the whole. Industry is choosing to do the hard work required to scale that great height. Humility is the attitude required and industry is the energy that makes the action possible. (I recognize that 'industry' does not appear in Augustine or Aquinas. But I think it is a good word to encapsulate things like perseverance, patience, fortitude, etc.)

But let's be honest, these are rare commodities. In their place people stick a lot of things: passion and pride being the most obvious. Pride replaces humility; passion replaces industry. The internet is a showcase of this. The way people insinuate, rush to conclusions in a blind and often herd-like manner, take and give offence, simplify, twist, try to convince (often with gas lighting intensity!), manipulate data, and are often only able to think in terms of stereotypes and memes.

Sure, we can blame Marxists for this, but they did not invent the blocks to wisdom, they only exploited them. They consciously turned dialogue into a device for political gain; everyone before them just did it with shame and often unconsciously. Marxists turned it into a virtue.

One of the conclusions I am compelled to make at this point is that the maxim(s) we tend to take for granted today "everyone's opinion is valid" or "everyone should have a voice" is/are not completely correct. It is as false as it is true; perhaps more false than true. It is itself based upon several philosophical premises that have not been universally endorsed, but are, in fact, of a more recent vintage and still disputed. And it is/they are, moreover, very easily misconstrued. (Misconstruing is what we do best!)

Of course this is existentialism and it is Rousseauian 'naturalism,' for lack of a better word. (It also has vestiges of Gnosticism, when you really think about it.) No classical philosopher has ever wanted to level the playing field like this, as we have seen above. Why? Because they were astute observers of people. We have to ask about the people who contradict these philosophers, then. Why are they doing it? Why do they tell us that everyone's opinion counts? Take the drive to get young people to vote, for example. Do members of the left wing parties really care about their opinions? Of course not. They tell them that they are valuable because they know they will tend to vote left. If they tended to vote right they would not urge them to vote. One should always be skeptical of people who tell them how great they are - they are usually trying to sell them something, or otherwise exploit them. We call this demagoguery in politics. It is sadly quite effective.

If you are still reading, you might be rather hot by now. Why? Because I have told you something that violates the law of niceness to which we have been accustomed since our childhoods. Nor do I mean to be simply dismissive or whimsical. Let's think about it. For most of time hard-and-fast meritocracy ruled intellectual culture, from architecture to poetry, philosophy, etc. No democratic principle of existentialism existed to give everybody a say. Art, they said, was ruled by absolute laws of aesthetics, even if it was hard to articulate what these are. People could be born altogether unsuited to mastering any given art, and there was nothing they could do to change this and no one felt the need to erase this fact from people's consciousnesses. Nor is this self-serving. I would love to be a great poet. If I devoted every (and was free to devote every) spare moment to studying and practicing that art, I would never be able to attain what my heroes, Keats and Tennyson, achieved in their mid-twenties. How I wish I could - what beauty, what power, what unction! Yes, my achievements in theology and philosophy are far beyond the average person's; far beyond what most people would ever be able to achieve. But I have not put into my whole self what Aquinas and Augustine have fit into their little pinkies; it will never be otherwise. I might even be an infant compared to those who typically fill the hallowed halls of the world's great schools today. I don't know. Does it matter? It does if I want gainly employment. And it does matter somewhat if I would seek true union with God.

Let me offer this now: not all intellectuals are holy, but most, perhaps all, holy people have activated intellects.

So what is the conclusion of this elaboration? It would be trite to offer the rather obvious conclusion that not all people are suited to debate, to dialogue, what have you. It is better yet to say, not all debate is good. Some of it is futile and leads rather to blindness rather than to greater sight.

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tm 2:23-6)

It is better yet to ask about the responsibilities the intellectual has (I mean someone operating in the Catholic intellectual tradition) to his lay-fellow. I have been taking my cue from the great, yes, great, IMHO, Catholic intellectual, Janet Smith, on Facebook. Examine how she conducts herself amid all the pitfalls of dealing with 'non-professionals' I have discussed above. Note how carefully she directs people back to the points at hand, how she steers people away from errors of sloppy thinking. My question for her, though, is why? Clearly, she sees it as a part of her teaching ministry. Clear thinking is always of benefit to the human being. She wishes to teach this to others, to teach the virtues of good thinking, because good thinking is a Christian virtue. It helps us toward God.

Not all of us are good thinkers. Not all of us can become good thinkers. Probably all of us can become better thinking than we are now, and that is of universal benefit.

Most people are unable to reason well. In most cases this is because they do not know what it is and why it is beneficial. It is more beneficial than simply having your presuppositions agreed with. It is more beneficial than the false benefit of not having to be subject to angering contradiction. Winning an argument is like winning a flip of the coin: it signifies nothing about your personal worth. Learning to reason well so as to arrive at more truth is like having learned to fish, but to fish for soul food.

Yes, sometimes I wonder if it is worth it in the end. Such animus for so little gain. I won't talk to certain kinds of people any more about theoretical points. I won't abandon the matter altogether though, but I have been really slow in sloughing off my democratic errors.

What have I been expecting from people? That by means of my efforts at apologetics they would become philosophers? Yes. That I would turn them from worldliness to the pursuit of holiness? Yes. That I would educate them into Catholic orthodoxy? Not really.

Can I be bothered to communicate with others when, or if, I truly recognize that they will never care about 'truth' the way I do? My enthusiasm dies a little bit more every day. I am not a catechist. Spreading knowledge of the creed is not a goal I have ever set for myself. I would not have studied all these years if it were. If it were, I would just try to do the good work so many Sunday school teachers do. Knowing the creed does not interest me. It's about being driven to the truth toward which the creed points. This drive is the thing that obsesses me and it is not something widely embraced.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Update for my Benefactors

I was just thinking of one of my previous benefactors, and offering a brief prayer for him and his family, when I thought I should say something about how my life has been going, how I have put people's generosity to good use (or not), and what my plans are.

First of all, I am very happy to say that I will be doing some teaching, but not until January. It will be a part-time gig and requires that I be quite far away from my family. It's not ideal, but it is a great step.

Secondly, I have not earned a dime since January. You can imagine what that means. Actually, I did work for one week about a month ago. So, in other words, we are not in a good position.

Thirdly, I have been writing like a son-of-a-gun. As you will probably remember, I sent a book off to a publisher around December, but haven't heard back yet. I am nearing completion of another one. I am very happy with it, but it will take some time to finish - how much time depends upon several factors. After that I will have a few more books coming out in the next year or two. The third won't be too long in coming, and might even be finished before 2017.

Fourthly, the Catholic Review of Books is progressing at a snail's pace, but it is moving forward. It's profile continues to grow, albeit very slowly. I am trying to get someone to work at promoting it on a commission basis. If you are interested, please let me know. I am getting quite good at the lay-out. I wish I had web-design skills too. Perhaps I will gain them in time. The Review is more or less breaking even. I wish I had a nest-egg to rely on for printing and advertising... if you think you can help with that, I would be so grateful. You can donate to its support via PayPal or by cheque very easily! The Review can be, and is on a small scale already, serving an important purpose. 

 “Faith must become culture... Faith that does not become culture is not wholly embraced, fully thought, or faithfully lived," said John Paul II. This is the idea behind my work with the Review and my books. He also said, "greater knowledge of truth" makes our lives "ever more human." (Fides et Ratio, 3)

Of course, it's easier when you have a cushy academic job to pay for your cultural ministry. I don't. I have not had much money coming in at all. I have tended to get down and lose hope, but it doesn't matter. I don't need security. I find desperation is a kind of inspiration. I am fascinated by a thought of Aristotle's that I had recently encountered: he suggests that luck is not luck at all, because it can actually lead us away from the hard work of becoming virtuous. So, it is with this kind of resignation that I reach out to you, my benefactors, to let you know what has been going on, what my plans are and my needs. 
Please, remember me, as I remember you, for, 

" I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers." (2 Tm 1:3)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Summer and Modesty

I'm not a big clothes guy, other than for the fact I wear big clothes.

I don't care for clothes. I like to see people who are nicely attired, like I like to see yummy desserts and beautiful sunsets. But I'm not paying for any of them.

I hardly notice what women wear.

I did, however, notice what one woman was wearing today. I was in Ottawa and, in a business area, I noticed a woman wearing something like this:

That's not exactly right, but close enough to make my point. What is my point? This dress summarizes my views on beauty and modesty. How so?

1. Most men don't care what women wear. Yes, you can make an impression with alluring clothes, but these do not last and always have a negative side too. Men don't notice. They remember that you 'looked good' at a certain time, but they would not be able to say what you were wearing to make that so. If the good look included immodesty, that feeling the man has obviously has a blatant sexual component and will, thus, have something to do with how sexual a man happens to be feeling at any given moment. In other words, his view of your immodest clothing will depend on whether he is feeling lusty or not. If he is not, he will look down on your immodesty as in some way out of place. He will abstract desire out of the equation and draw more heavily on his more elevated moral sensibility, the one that tells him that there is a time and a place for sex and this is not it. So, your immodest dress which 'benefited' you at one point is at another time a liability. You can't depend on men's feelings to gauge effectiveness, in other words. I have a feeling women don't generally understand this.

2. Women care what women wear, and it's not how some think. Women are competition for women, just like men are for men. We don't like when a man with bigger muscles than us wears a tank top. We don't hate him for it, but we don't like it either. So there are two possibilities for a woman: either she looks better than her friend and her friend doesn't like her for it, or she does not and her friend feels comfortable with her. If she is being blatantly immodest her 'competitors' will be especially off-put by this, since it will be that much more obvious to them that they are in competition (and probably losing - or so they think!).

3. Because (1) and (2) are facts, dressing immodestly is not advantageous for a woman in any sense of the word. I am not talking about spirituality here. I don't need to.

4. So why then do they do it? Men don't generally dress immodestly, if for no other reason than that women don't want to see it. Basically ever. Women do it because they think it benefits them. As I have proven above, it does not. Would a woman who had characteristically dressed immodestly and yet who came to recognize that what I have said here is true change her ways? I don't know. I think her personal history would have more to say about it than my unassailable logic.


I have the conceit that I have the market on perfect fashion, which is funny since I put so little stock in it in my own life. Perfection is the middle ground that I think is represented by the picture above. (And yes, it is culturally relative and all that.) It resides halfway between frump and skank, pardon my French. Based upon my 40-plus years, the fact that I have always been most drawn to women in this middle ground, I am able to assert this apodictically.

And I will now further my point while taking a parting shot at what I would say is a dress that all men hate and yet that so many women feel the need to wear upon occasion. No men like this - none, although they will definitely say they do to you, because you bought it for the summer and want to wear it when you go to the cottage or wherever and are so excited and for some reason really want to think you are a Polynesian girl for a period of time.

Yes, I know that all my women friends have them and that they will never forgive me for this. And, yes, they will ask their husbands if they agree with me and those cowards will snort, "No, Colin's wrong. Your dress looks great, honey!" But we all know that your husbands are lying. Ladies, you don't look good in drapes.

Now, since all the ladies featured in this post are thin, here is a 'curvier' girl who looks sweet in this outfit, that is a totally winning ensemble,though not very summery:

Now I can go another few years without talking about clothes again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why Corporations Go Left

Because you do, and you are a wishful thinking idiot!

There is a very smart article explaining why corporations are siding with the tranny side in the bathroom controversy. Read it here. In a nutshell, the author says it is because corporations promote a globalizing ethic based on consumer choice, away from one with region-based values. You will have to read the article more carefully than I did to make sure I have interpreted it correctly.

I just want to offer a few thoughts on this phenomenon that interests me.

My take is this, and perhaps it operates as the broader umbrella in which that author's (Turley's) observations fit.

It is easier to say yes than no in the modern world.

No requires an objective claim to value.

Yes simply requires any argument to relativize a traditional claim.

It is far more difficult to say why a thing is objectively morally good or bad because one has to then lay out a coherent worldview, one that is strong enough to overcome any relativizing arguments.

Yes simply requires finding one case of a short-term unpleasant outcome.

For example, to argue that homosexuality is wrong one needs to define the purpose of sex, love, and marriage. To argue that it is good you need only point to one apparent case of love between homosexuals.

This is why we have gone from approving of aesthetically hygienic presentations of same-sex relationships by Hollywood, to where we are now with carefully manicured presentations of transgenderism (i.e. Bruce Jenner), to--soon--carefully manicured presentations of polygamy and pederasty.

But surely I exaggerate, say you.

Let me respond this way: we all know it was outlandish in 1980 to assume that in 2015 transgenderism would be treated as a normal expression of healthy sexuality. What argument was able to stem the tide over those 35 years? Answer: obviously none. So what argument will be offered to suggest that polygamy and pederasty are objectively wrong? None. All that is required are a few presentations of clinically hygienic polygamists and pederasts, couples that are wealthy, attractive, apparently happy and evidently in love. Picture a young boy like Justin Bieber when he was 12 and a thin, cool, twenty-five year old. You are now sold on pedophilia.

But why do we tend to find metaphysical arguments so vexing, rather than signs of wisdom, the Greeks, the Medievals and Early Moderns did?

Another way to ask this is why do we equate happiness with freedom of choice unbridled by custom rather than being a part of a culture or world view that has stood the test of time ('local customs,' in Turley's language)?

To answer this we need to say something about the every day life of modern people that cannot be said about the Greeks, Medieval and the Early Moderns. The answer is rather simple: to make money we do not need to be a part of a closely-knit culture, as they did. Imagine trying to run a business in the pre-industrialized world while publicly rejecting its accepted moral norms. Then you needed your neighbour to help you do everything. Today you do not. Take the example of the cake-baker. If a company does not want to bake a cake for a gay wedding, by market forces alone (baring activism) it would hurt perhaps 1% of their bottom-line. Imagine the same in a Medieval village. If you denied one of the central tenets of their world view you would simply not survive, literally. No one would help you take in your crops, sew the field, buy your product, inseminate your livestock with theirs, etc. I am reminded of a problem in Augustine's time when the dominant Donatist sect would not let Catholics use their ovens to bake their bread. Each village had one public oven for this.

What moral views stand up in a trans-global marketplace? The values of yes. The values that are easy to comprehend and that reflect a simple sense-based kind of pleasure.

See, black people are nice, not scary! And all gays are happy and clean!
Corporations want to sell things. They know people are not prepared to give their products too much thought. Why do people choose Apple over PC, Japanese cars over American, etc., because they have really looked into it? Of course not. I hardly do more than glance at the insurance policies connected with my cars and mortgage. I do not know what the best 32 inch TV is. I could not tell you the difference between a plasma and an HD TV. I do not know what kind of toothpaste I should be buying for my family. But, if the corporation tells me that I am capable of bringing about my own happiness and wealth, I like to hear that. I do not want to hear that eating Subway subs does nevertheless require strenuous exercise if I am to loose the 30 lbs I want to loose.

With their advertisements the Bank of Montreal or whomever tells me that happiness and wealth is possible to everyone: black people, Chinese people, gay people. If it is within their grasp, then surely it is within my grasp. Target tells me that transgendered people are good, happy and healthy, so I don't have to focus on negative ideas, so I will continue to believe that happiness is within my reach, and it includes buying the things that Target sells.

But if you start to bog me down with metaphysical concepts than I loose my conviction that happiness is possible to me by means of my simple choices. Take the problem with Mexican immigration. If you tell me that the government can solve their poverty than I don't have to think about what I have to do about it. Of course, this is false, because the American debt is becoming unmanageable, and therefore the government should be spending less not more. But is an unpleasant solution because it involves me admitting to myself that my material good is more important to me than that of Mexicans. Therefore I have to believe that the 1% have enough money to pay for anyone who comes across the border without it effecting me at all.  How logically sound is that when I don't know how much spare money the 1% have and how many immigrants we are talking about? But I been accustomed to thinking that all solutions are possible and easy, and so why wouldn't this one be more of the same? It couldn't actually be the transgendered people are actually psychologically troubled, because that would require a difficult solution.

There is an amusing clip of Ezra Levant attending a global warming protest. See it here. It becomes quickly evident that the people there think the solution to global warming involves no sacrifice on their own behalf.

Therefore, if Target has to choose between bogging their customers down with subtle philosophical musings about the meaning of sexuality or the idea that there are no bad (sick) kinds of people, they will choose the more pleasant-sounding and easier side.

Choice = happiness. You can choose the kind of clothes you want here at Target just like you can choose your gender. If we show you enough pictures of apparently happy people you will not get bummed out and so continue to live on the superficial level of the consumer.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Everything New Becomes Old and then New and then.

I was in Ottawa this week for a few days, doing some intense research and writing at St. Paul's University. It has, by the way, a wonderful theology collection.

I spent a bit of time thumbing through the 1960s theological collosus', Karl Rahner's, works, especially his multi-volume Theological Investigations. Rahner is very smart, but very boring and, in my humble opinion, not all that orthodox. I said that throughout my students days and continue to say it, to the dismay of most of my teachers.

But a few thoughts.

1. Mode. Rahner writes as a fundamental theologian. All his writings address topics from that perspective. You need to bear that in mind.

2. The new. Everything seemed revolutionary in the 60s, like they were inventing the answer to all of mankind's problems. This is a problem. Why? Because people tend to vest too much faith in 'experts.' That is what happens when you get rid of tradition. So it was with Rahner: everything he said was considered not only the truth, but final. And yet Rahner was as much a product and a victim of his own time. Like all lefties, he liked to pontificate about the future, and say stuff like "things can never go back to the way they were." How does he know that? But that maxim became axiomatic for liberals. We can't go back in time, to before multiculturalism, ecumenism, Darwinism, therefore, tradition is obsolete.

3. Live by the sword... Read his essay on Humane Vitae. Now apply everything he said about that unpopular encyclical to everything Pope Francis writes. Not nice is it? Just as Humane Vitae did not qualify for Rahner as definitive teaching because of X, Y, and Z, by the same measure feel free to ignore everything Pope Francis writes.

I will still continue to read Rahner, because I read everything and he was a genius. But, oh what a spoonful of humility liberals need to take to offset their bad case of "the history of right now."