Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mark Driscoll Sucks

When I was younger I quit going to church because I was mad at God. I didn't like Christ's teachings, but I liked Christians and I identified as one because I wanted to love God again. Eventually I found a church/a church found me and I got back in.

Good thing I didn't know about Mark Driscoll then. If I did I wouldn't have bothered. He's a crazy nutjob preacher who combines the worst parts of fundamentalism with the worst parts of modern culture. He's controlling, sexist, and misunderstands grace like fundamentalism does. He's crass, obscene, and anti-morality like modern culture is. Of course, most evangelicals think he's awesome.

Driscoll claims the church is full of girls and guys who act like girls, and we need Real Men (assholes) in the church. Why do you think the church skews so female? Masculinity is more evil than femininity. Masculine sins include pride, anger, and lust. Think of your image of a Real Man. Is it some hulking, brutal, alpha male who cares about himself only? It is for me. Some sins are more "feminine", like vanity. However, most women have stronger morals because most morals are feminine traits. Likewise, women are more religious than men. Most secular women are tomboys.

Mark Driscoll promotes strict gender roles. He has a narrow view of masculinity. If you're not a Real Man he hates you. He gives people sex tips in his sermons. Why the hell is that in a sermon? He swears in his sermons. I swear too, but there's a time and a place for it. As much as I swear in this blog, if I preached a sermon I would never swear in it. He bashes men who don't drink alcohol. I don't drink because I have a family history of alcoholism, so I choose not to drink. "Holier than thou" people are annoying enough. "Unholier than thou" people are even worse. I don't want to hear a preacher who makes me feel like I'm too good to be a Christian. I'll take a fundamentalist preaching about the evils of the NIV or rock music any day. At least I can laugh at that. Driscoll hates gay people. Not just "love the sinner, hate the sin". Real hate. And if you hate a group you bring as many people into it as possible. So, "effeminate" worship leaders are gay. Anyone who's "gooder" than Driscoll is gay. It's hardly about sexual attraction any more.

Jesus was not a wimp. He was a carpenter and carpenters have to be strong. He spoke boldly. He was homeless. There is nothing wrong with most of masculinity. However, Jesus's teachings appeal more to women and non-alpha males. "Love your enemies" ain't a tough guy thing. Putting others before you ain't a tough guy thing. If Jesus came back today, Mark Driscoll would call Him a pussy.

People say he's a reaction against legalism. I say he's even worse. Legalism is the belief that we need extra works in addition to God's grace. The opposite, antinomianism, is the belief that you can do whatever you want when you're saved. This of course is a load of crap. I'm far from a good Christian but at least I don't defend my sins. It's easy to slip into both of them.

Driscoll's bullshit is especially dangerous because of his theology: he's within orthodox Christian teaching. Most dangerous cults have weird theology. Driscoll's a Calvinist. Fundamentalists are also in orthodox Christian teaching, but the danger's more obvious. Their culture doesn't allow non-KJV Bibles, dancing, beer, rock music, swearing, etc. They rebel against modern culture. Driscoll would call most fundamentalist men "gay" because they rebel against mainstream culture. Driscoll embraces mainstream culture. He thinks you're a wimp if you're a man and you're not a Real Man. This creepy cult leader sneaks by everyone's radar because his theology's fine. There's more to a "cult" than heretical theology. Mormons are heretics but they don't have creeps as famous preachers - and I bet Mark Driscoll thinks they're all gay too.

The worst part is almost nobody complains about him. Some feminists do because he's sexist. A lot of ex-Christians say he makes them glad they left Christianity. I see their point. In at least one case, someone left Christianity altogether because of Driscoll and his near-universal acceptance. Most evangelicals defend him. He's bad for Christianity and he needs to quit being such an asshole. He turns people off Christianity when they were interested before. I sure don't want to be part of his religion, but I am.

This link explains more. I doubt the author would like this blog, but I don't go around trashing women or swearing in sermons.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gender Roles and Feminism

I believe gender roles are real. Gender is not a social construct. There are exceptions but most people fit the rule. We shouldn't force people to fit gender roles they don't fit, but they exist for good reason. Both my parents act very "masculine" and I don't have any sisters. I grew up around rednecks, where men are MEN and women are ALSO MEN. I wasn't around femininity much growing up, but I'm attracted to very feminine women. I like when women are sweet and girly. I'm not interested in tough girls. Some feminists are against all femininity. Some are normal people who realize not all women are the same. Too bad most outspoken feminists are jerks. That's true of all groups, but feminists don't do themselves any favors when they sound like selfish jerks. It's not sexist for me to say this - I hate when guys act like that too. I'm sick of macho men and we don't need macho women too. Some crazy feminists hate me because I'm interested in feminine women. Again, we shouldn't hurt people who don't fit gender roles. But I grew up without normal femininity and I'm attracted to it.

However, I don't look down on women. Women deserve all the same rights as men. They can vote, own property, etc. thanks to feminism. They can do anything men can do unless there's a physical limitation. Even then some women can do it. There is nothing inferior about women. We'll have a female president someday - lots of other countries have. And they do face a lot of prejudice. If feminism is the idea that women are people, then I'm a feminist. But I don't fit into feminism at all.

For one thing, I believe women are morally superior to men. It's my personal experience. Women don't kill people as much as men. They don't cheat on their SOs as much as men. They care about other people more than men. A few feminists say "Don't hold us back! WE can be as evil as the guys!" Why the hell do you want to be? Traditional gender roles have one jerk gender and one nice gender. Thanks to feminism, we have two jerk genders and one nice gender.

Also, I'm sick of the word "patriarchy". Sometimes they have a point. If men have all the power, then it is a patriarchy. Too bad some people call anything they don't like a patriarchy. "WHAT?!?! YOU'RE OUT OF KETCHUP?!?! YOUR RESTAURANT IS A PATRIARCHY!!!!"

Overall, I like most of feminism's political goals. I'm split on social goals. I don't want to hurt women, but the movement attracts a lot of jerk women! Most really nice women are not feminists for the same reason most jerk women are - the ME ME ME ME ME factor. People forget other people aren't like them. It's hard for me to support someone when they piss me off.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Alphabets and culture

There's a strong connection between language and culture. Everybody knows that. That's why so many countries look down on minority languages. It used to be illegal to speak Sardinian in Italy. Some countries encourage them, like modern Spain. In the US there have been many movements to get rid of foreign languages, but Spanish still holds strong. One reason some people in Québec want to split from Canada is they speak French and the rest of Canada speaks English... except New Brunswick is bilingual English/French and Nunavut speaks Inuktitut.

There's also a strong connection between alphabets and culture. Alphabets correlate with religion a lot. Greek, Latin, and Cyrillic (Russian) alphabets are Christian alphabets. Orthodox Christians used the Cyrillic and Greek alphabets while Catholics and Protestants used the Latin alphabet. All three alphabets share a capital A, E, M, O, and T. Jews used the Hebrew alphabet and Muslims used the Arabic alphabet. Yiddish uses the Hebrew alphabet but it's related to German, not to Hebrew. I don't know enough about any other religions to know other connections.

In modern times alphabets can represent political alliances. During the Cold War the Cyrillic alphabet represented Communism and the Latin alphabet represented the free world. It's not cut and dry in practice - most of Eastern Europe still used Latin. The USSR didn't ban minority languages but they required them to use Cyrillic. The alphabet of the Orthodox Church became the alphabet of oppression.

Writing systems don't mean two languages are related. Chinese and Japanese are not related, but Japanese borrowed a lot of Chinese symbols and added two sets of syllable-signs. English, Greek, Russian, Armenian, Persian, and Hindi are related, but they all use different alphabets. English, Finnish, Turkish, Swahili, Tagalog, and Quechua are not related and they use the same alphabet.

In fact, Turkish used the Arabic alphabet for centuries. They were a Muslim country. The Arabic alphabet doesn't suit Turkish well. Then Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the secular republic of Turkey in the early 20th century. He wanted to promote literacy and shift Turkey's cultural alliances toward Europe. So he and his linguist buddies switched to the Latin alphabet, which fits Turkish very well. Click here to compare the two alphabets.

To learn more about writing systems, visit Omniglot.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Emotion in Music

When I was a teenager I didn't think there was much emotion in music. A few songs stirred feelings in me, but I thought people exaggerated when they said music made them cry. People said some music was emotional, but I either hated "emotional" music or it left me cold. Some music made me feel something, but nobody called it emotional so I didn't see it as emotional.

Then I bought Yes's Close to the Edge, one of the best albums ever. Most people have to warm up to it because it's weird and complex – I loved it the first time. I discovered something new in music. Close to the Edge has a huge scope of emotion, but they don't do it in typical ways. Nothing sounds like power ballads or adult contemporary. The lyrics are weird but they fit the music well. The crazy thing is a lot of people, including some "Yes fans", think their music is all logic and no heart. If you say you're a fan and you don't get any feeling from their music, you're missing a lot. Getting into Yes helped me enjoy other music more.

What triggers my emotions is different from other people. I don't care much about lyrics. I pay attention to lyrics. They can change my opinion of a song. But they come second to the music. To many people songs are lyrics with music attached. Also, blues music leave me cold. It uses the most neutral chord structures. The blues scale sounds neat but it also sounds neutral. I can enjoy blues with my head, but not with my heart. I don't like the DIY punk ethic either. I hate the idea that if you sing well or play well, it makes your music "fake". Bad singing/playing keeps me from getting emotion from music.

What triggers feelings in me? Great songwriting. Beautiful melodies are one of the best ways to get to me, especially with complex/dissonant harmonies. Good arrangements are another way. I like weirdness, but I hate weirdness for the sake of weirdness – it has to be natural weirdness. Great playing can take a good song over the top. I usually like complexity, but not always – some simple music is just as good. Tension and release dynamics are awesome. So is unpredictability. A lot of my favorites are mellower than most of what I like. A lot of my favorites are heavier than most of what I like. I get something from some sad music, but also from happy music, angry music, scary music, energetic music, peaceful music, and a lot of music that's hard to pin down.

Artists who are good at emotion include Yes, King Crimson, Procol Harum, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, (early) Chicago, Stevie Wonder, Dream Theater, Muse, House of Heroes, Eisley, Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno... Good genres for me include progressive rock, some hard rock/metal, some mood music/ambient, and the more complex side of pop. Some classical music works well too, especially the Baroque and Romantic eras.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Racial Segregation

After college, there's two main ways to make friends: churches and bars. If you don't like religion or alcohol, you better like being alone. I'm a church person, so I don't know if bars are like this, but our churches have a huge racial segregation problem. Martin Luther King Jr. said "eleven o'clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour and Sunday school is still the most segregated school of the week." (source)

My church is almost all-white. We have a few Hispanics but we don't have any black members now. We used to but they moved. Since then we haven't had any new black members. Segregation extends to other things too. Most events I go to are all-white or almost all-white. There's no "whites only" sign on the doors but it turns out that way.

Why? There's a big culture difference. Race has little to do with heritage and lots to do with culture. A good example: My musical taste is very white. I like plenty of musicians of other races, but they all have lots of white fans. Different races go to different social events. They're involved in different clubs. Sometimes they have different hobbies.

That's one reason there aren't a lot of interracial relationships. The ones that work best are the ones with less culture gap. Either the partners are interested in each other's culture or one of them is part of the other race's culture. I'm all for interracial marriage, but sometimes I feel bad for kids who are pulled between two cultures and aren't "white" enough or "black" enough. It extends to other races here: a Samoan friend of mine faces the same issue. There's hardly any Samoans in Mississippi.

Beverly Daniel Tatum wrote a book called Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? It challenged my thoughts on race more than anything else I've read. Here's a summary of the book. It made me think a lot about race and racial identity. It explains a lot of why society's still so segregated. I don't like segregation but I see why it still exists. I don't know if I agree with everything she says but it's worth a read.

Still, it sucks that I never see most of my black Facebook friends any more. It's not like they're less like me than my white friends. They're part of a different culture.