Murmurs and Antagonisms

Orthodoxy via Heresy

Category: Grumpy

A Waste of Life

I’ve been listening to a lot of grunge/female fronted bands who do a genre of noise rock. I’ve managed in the past two days to devote somewhere near five hours of time listening to music that probably annoys people on the whole. Partly because it’s the best music for me to study to and partly because the genre piqued my interest. What’s this got to do with anything?

Well, a lot. Or a little, at least. As I write this I’m listening to a song called American Society by L7 and thinking about why the hell I study what I do at my school. These thoughts have been going through my mind the past few weeks spurred by the re-prioritization my school is undergoing, a process that I will see throughout my time at Calvin. And whether or not one thinks its good or bad it’s caused me some anxiety about why am I majoring in German and Philosophy.


Weirdly this song by L7 has been helping me make sense of this whole situation. I think my answer to the question, “What do you plan to do with a philosophy degree,” will no longer be: No idea. Rather, my new answer will: I’m trying to not drown in American society. I’m trying to find ways to come to terms with the fact that “…there is no escape from the world, no transitivity, no transcendent something.” There’s no escape from capital and the influence it exerts on my education, on the world we inhabit. There’s no escape from this and instead of trying to just play along and be drowned and be a “twentieth century [or 21st] casualty” I’ll just try to make life.

What would being a casualty look like? Just numbingly going along with the flow. But note, this isn’t resistance, this isn’t a delusional attempt to change anything. In fact, I think philosophy in many ways is fundamentally useless towards productive action or world-changing, especially geared towards a transitivity. Instead, this is me making life within what is, tyring to find ways to exist without becoming a casualty or drowning within this society.

So, why do I study what I do? Because it’s the only way I know how to make sense of the lived-life I am. Maybe it is a waste of my life (thank you Tapji for this post by the way) but in one sense it’s only a waste if life is something that can be achieved. And if that life is the typical weird American dream I’m not sure why me trying to avoid that drowning would be a waste of my life?

And maybe it is a waste but it’s a waste of an excess, an inability to live with the present conditions.

Study to make life-becomings possible, I suppose.

Notes on the Self and Art

You are not your self. I am not my self.

We’re not vacuum forming selves. And we’re not original. We write, make, create art and things that masquerade as art in the hopes of reaching an audience. We create and recreate and vomit on the pages and screens boring and increasingly inane “art”. This isn’t some punt to a transcendent deity to explain why we aren’t autonomous self-creating selves (well, white people probably aren’t at least). We are formed by what we throw up and what is thrown up on us. The people that are thrown into (onto?) our lives shape and make us. Because that’s all writing is, a rereading of previously reread ideas spat on pages and screens…

I’m not sure what the point of this post is, if there is one. It’s more just an endless ramble, notes on a subject that’s been bugging me – namely, me. It might also be my attempt to get free from the b.s. that is significance and meaningfulness. I don’t write because I think I want something new to say, or that I’m good at it, I write because I have an urge to, an urge that makes me sick and angry and somewhat content all at once. I write what I’ve read, in the hopes of dredging up something from the muck of the many things I’ve gorged myself on. No. That’s wrong. The many things that’ve allowed me to become an I by gorging on them. We’re all parasites. We form by being formed by taking in as much as we can. Taking as much as one can without ceasing. Selfish? Maybe but is there really a way to be charitable in consumption? Isn’t consumption inherently uncharitable?

So, I don’t know why I write and I don’t know if I ever will. I don’t know that I am an I. In all likelihood I am a they, and so are you. Individuality seems excessively off putting. I’ll just let Nietzsche say what I think “I” might be getting at:

“The fundamental false observation is that I believe it is who do something, suffer something, ‘have’ something, ‘have’ a quality.”

Against Apologetics (Sort Of)

I got involved in philosophy through apologetics. And now I’ve got a deep aversion to apologetics. As Craig defines it in Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics apologetics is giving an answer, a two-pronged answer. One side is offensive, a positive case, and the other is a negative, a reactionary defense. Ignoring for a moment the issue with this weird two pronged approach I think I’ve realized some of my problems with apologetics.

I get this weird sense that it functions poorly, if it functions at all. It seems distant, separate. In fact, I think it requires a separation from existence, from language. It uses language to separate from language. Apologetics gives a language which is absent from the experiences of day to day life, of liturgical practices, of the moment. Which, oddly, seems to cause a self-refutation of sorts. Apologetics has this notion of not “checking your brain at the door of the church” or in your Christian life but it seems to do just that by using language and arguments that are separate any functional purpose beyond arguing and masturbatory praise regarding our evidences.

None of this is to say that apologetics is bad. These are just thoughts on the topic.

 

UPDATED: An Open Letter To Carroll High School

[Due to frequent misreading and complaints I am removing three sentences that appeared here originally. This is a generic post and reading it as anything other is a misrepresentation of my intent here. This is not about a specific incident, but about general experiences I have had and that have been relayed to me.]

I’m ashamed to be a Patriot.

No, this isn’t about America (that’s an entirely different issue).

I’m ashamed to have been a member, if only for a year, of the Carroll community. I graduated from Carroll High School at the end of the 2013-14 school year. There’s no way I can deny that I received an excellent education. In fact, my English teacher is arguably the best teacher I’ve had from a purely academic standpoint. And I know that the teachers I had have good hearts. From my government teacher, to the gym teacher, to the prayer teacher and many more I never had the privilege to sit under. But I’m ashamed.

I’m pissed off.

When I attended Carroll I was stupid with my Twitter account. But, regardless, rumors had started before then. And after my Twitter account I was called into the administration’s office to talk to the Dean of Students. He was concerned about my safety. That’s all fine and good. But at no time were the students starting the rumors talked to. At no time were students talked to for harassment within earshot of a teacher. And I know this has happened. In fact, daily I saw men touching women without that woman’s consent. In a classroom, too. This can be a hug, playing with hair, anything, but guys have no right to do that. Were they dealt with? How does this make the community safe for women?

And now that I’m in college I’ve found out rumors have started about me again and my younger brothers are taking heat for it. Carroll, I expect more from you. But my experiences, as minor as they are, lead me to speak of something more serious that has come to my attention and a trend related to this.

This is a trend of victim punishment in numerous situation and letting the person commiting the abuse remain a student. This is about lack of pro-activity. This is about stigma. These are my suggestions, based on my experiences, the experiences of friends, and what I know of Carroll. These are not slanderous or defaming anyone. This is generic as can be.

I have a few things to say related to this to the administration and to the Carroll community, current and alumni/alumna.

1). To the administration: Expel the students who distributed the images. Start actually being proactive in dealing with harassment and bullying. Start taking it seriously and dealing with it swiftly. Don’t wait to just hear from a student. Be involved, don’t sit aloof. But most importantly please, please do not punish the victim for anything. Start teaching people that victim’s are never at fault. Catholicism has a history of siding with the oppressed, from Oscar Romero to Mother Theresa. Embrace that side of the faith you hold in such high regard. And start having mandatory sexual assault courses. Start teaching people about consent. Stop shaming people for their choices. And finally, love mercy and seek justice for victims, I say again.

2). To the students: stop circulating images of minors. Stop circulating images, stories or anything without express consent (this happens more often than not). Even then, don’t spread images which are revealing or harmful to the victim. Stop bullying. Stop being assholes. Start taking seriously the simple idea of: love other people. This means don’t start rumors. This means stop acting high and mighty because you went to PATS. This means stop using slurs. This means stop mocking mental health. This means not objectifying people. This means listening to others. This means remembering you’re in high school. This means what you do now could harm you and others for a life time. Start being decent. Have some respect. Respect the people around you. Respect yourself. And to the boys (I don’t even want to call you men) at Carroll, stop thinking with your genitals, stop using women for your gain. No means no. Alcohol means no. Start seeing women as human, too.

3). To fellow alumni/alumna: please hold your alma mater accountable. Demand justice. Demand that your community protect victims of sexual harassment and violence. Demand that mental health not be a stigma. Demand that sexual orientation, gender identity, personality, age, ability, religion, or appearance not be shamed. Demand that your alma mater become more proactive. Demand that those who bully/oppress/harass are punished and removed from the community. Make Carroll a safe place. Make it safer.

I think Carroll has potential. But if it isn’t a safe place then I have no reason to ever claim the greatness of it. As long as victims are hurt, as long as teachers remain aloof in the lunch room and in the locker rooms, as long as teachers see students as only educational objects and not humans on equal footing deserving of respect, as long as platitudes are spread, as long as the administration tries to soften truths and patronizes students, well, frankly, nothing is going to change anytime soon.

Seeking justice,

Jonas Weaver

Better the Dead

I think about death a lot. Too much probably.

I think about how death relates to my existence. What it means for meaning. I think about how death is said to have no sting, no power post-Resurrected Jesus. But I wonder how true these statements of comfort are. Like the statement, “God had your birth and [God] has your death in mind. And when it’s time to die you can’t avoid it,” the sentiments seem inane.

Death has no sting, but people mourn for weeks, months, sometimes years after the fact. Death is still stabbing itself into the skin of the families and friends of the dead.

Supposedly death has no power. Usually what’s meant by this is the notion that death won’t have the final say. But who cares? It makes no sense, to my mind, to waste words on the things that we’ll never understand or be able to wrap our minds around. Especially if those ideas don’t help us live well on this all too often shitty earth.

And the whole notion that God is in control of your death? Sure, maybe in some weird, abstract way, but what’s it matter? I guess if comfort is the goal it makes sense. But to my mind materiality is all we’ve got and focusing on abstractions can be good, if they somehow impact living.

All this to say, death drive more important than life drive.

On Labels

This is going to be harsh.

But cisgendered, straight people like to tell LGBTQ people and society that if only we got rid of labels LGBTQ folks would be accepted more readily.

The argument goes as such: “If we didn’t have labels like “gay” then actualy gay folks would be accepted more readily. Like, I don’t have to come out as straight so why should they have to come out as something either? Like, I don’t get it.”

Problem: this works within a cis-heteronormative understanding of reality in which, of course, no labels need to exist. Because everyone is assumed to be cisgender or hetero labels are meaningless. If only those damn queers would use fewer labels then they’d be accepted.

But people don’t realize that saying this erases key differences and the necessity and power of self-definiton. It’s similar conceptually to colorblindness. Colorblindness functions as a seemingly poignant statement but fails by erasing difference. Additionally, by erasure it substitutes difference with a colorblind white washing. Same goes for LGBTQ people. Identities are straight and cis washed.

So, please, stop it.

 

Stop Being Nice

Kind words aren’t enough. They never are.

Being nice is not the answer. It never has been.

Wanting justice, demanding justice, demanding fairness, these are good and right. And I get that in some contexts peacefulness may be the better part of valor, but nothing significant has changed by being nice and saying kind words. Christianity is no different.

Christians, me included, are guilty of making the bible soft. And, no, I refuse to argue that we make the bible soft by cushioning its’ truths. We soften the bible’s demands for justice and love. We soften the God who has a preferential option for the marginalized. Christians are too nice.

We tell people they’re loved by God even though they’re gay.

We tell people all will be made well in the end and racism will die the death that death died.

We tell transgender/gender non-conforming folks that they are loved and we’ll pray for them to love their bodies.

We tell these marginalized groups in America all these nice, trite, gentle words. But we ignore the bible.

Let’s recap for a second what the bible states regarding the oppressed:

From Amos 5: “There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
    and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.”

From Acts 8 a gender minority says: “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

I need to listen to the voice of the prophets, demanding justice. I need to listen to a God who will cast down those in power because of God’s love for the oppressed. I need to listen to the God who sides with prostitutes, lepers, queers, ethnic minorities, and immigrants.

I need to listen for God’s voice in the cries of those the United States bombs.

I need to listen for God in the voice of trans women who are murdered for being women.

I need to listen for God in the voice of persons of colour who suffer violence against their bodies by the powers that be.

I need to listen.

And stop softening the bible.

If God loves trans folks: I need to  fight for them. Fight the misgendering, fight the violence, fight for their recognition.

If God loves ethnic minorities: I need to fight racism, fight the structures of racism in communities, in my church. And shut up.

If God loves those we bomb: I need to stop simply praying, do something. Write my senator. Protest. Change how I think, vote, if I vote at all.

If God loves gay people: I need to fight for their rights as citizens of a country. Fight for their acceptance.

I’m convinced heaven will be full of queers and persons of colour teaching us what grace and beauty looks like. Heaven isn’t just for white, straight, cisgender people. Remember this.

 

Flesh Sack

Just walking skins, sacks of flesh wandering the streets ignoring each other day in and out. This is who we unavoidably are. Spouting sentimental phrases – “You are a Soul, you have a Body” – mean little. In fact, I’d contend mean nothing whatsoever. Embodied flesh sacks that we are, we can only know what we feel/sense/experience/think but what then is a soul?

[Soul: a metaphor for our identity.]

I don’t think I want a soul to be anything more than a metaphor. At least I possess my own created body. And I can make my body better. I can’t make my soul better. Mainly since I have no clue in hell what a soul is or how I have one?

So, metaphor it is.

If “soul” just means my identity then I can add to my identity, subtract from it, an understand it better. Mostly since what makes me me – identity – can be found in body or thought form.

I can’t experience my soul. I can experience my thoughts. My identity can be experienced.

So, do I have a soul?

No.

Not in the way most folks think of souls, at least. I am walking flesh, a sack of skin and bones clattering along my merry way. I am not an embodied soul, as if I existed previously and my soul put on a dress. I am a body. I am flesh. I choose how I am being made and I shape my identity.

Flesh sack walking.

Bible vs. People: People Win

The bible is a book written by men and inspired by God.

No more, no less and too often we treat it as more. The bible is a book and like any book tells a story. That story isn’t about creationism, predestination, homosexuality, or any myriad of issues we want it to be about today. Heck, the bible is minimally about ethics as understood in the Western world. Ethics, biblically, are linked to Jesus. The book we too often idolize is the cradle which holds Jesus.

And I’m tired of everyone treating biblical faithfulness as the litmus test of salvation. Though, maybe not directly, far too often people imply that lack of biblical faithfulness (which usually means any disagreement with their specific interpretation) goes hand in hand with heresy or some other kind of idea that we’re not saved.

The bible is about Jesus and somehow we lose that. And Jesus tells me to love my neighbor, the least of these. And, frankly, that love has led me to support a less than traditional idea when it comes to lesbian and gay folks. When people have died, are dying, being subjected to injustice, that’s not God’s heart. I get Romans 1 leaves little room for some but I don’t know where I stand on that passage and, frankly, I really don’t care. If I’m ever asked if being gay or lesbian is a sin I’m gonna say no. Being “something” or “anything” (I know those words are stupid) cannot in and of itself be a sin. Orientation is not a sin. People are made in God’s image and because of our sinfulness we’re gonna mess up, we’re gonna over emphasize certain biblical ideas and interpretations. And I know I could be wrong. But I can’t hold a view that has been about silence and death.

Love your neighbor, admire the beauty within, see God in the Other because that’s where God is to be found. But never forget the bible is not deity, it’s special/beautiful/disturbing/all kinds of jacked up, but it is primarily, solely, about Jesus. And if what we believe does not love our neighbor (and letting kids die because we tell them they’re sinners, abominations, committing mutilations etc. isn’t loving) or help us better love then, sorry, I can’t hold it.

“I rest my faith on nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness…”

Jesus Doesn’t Care

I quit caring so much about gender, about sexuality, about providence, about creationism, about all the inane topics which come up regularly among (especially) homeschool kids because we’ve got no life (kidding).

Everyone wants to focus on whether or not the Church is being over run by the gays. Everyone cares so much about whether women dare to be pastors because, well, breasts cause men to lust. Everyone cares about how you express yourself whether it be by shutting you down or confining you to a societal gender role. Everyone cares too much about the age of the earth. And no one seems to care enough about what Jesus cared about.

And I’m one of those people.

(Parenthetical: I know that Jesus’ concerns relate directly to some of the forementioned topics but that’s not the point so shhh)

Jesus didn’t seem to give a rip if God created in six days or a million or if God used evolution or not. Seemed to be low on his radar. Which, thank God, is why we have Ken Ham, to help Jesus out and bring out his deep concern for the order of creation and mechanics thereof. I wonder how much a first century desert walker, despite being God, knew about science?

Jesus didn’t seem to care whether or not God ordained everything, or elected everyone. And of course we want to say, “But he says, ‘Those you have given me . . .'” and all  I can think is, Really? Really?

Look. Jesus didn’t seem to prioritize these things for the simple reason that (shocker here) they’re pretty boring. If Jesus had gone around talking about creationism half his audience wouldn’t have gotten it. Much less divine sovereignty and election, at least the current way we present it.

Jesus spoke to things which concerned the people at his time, and concern us now. But we’re too lazy to see the radical nature thereof.

Example 1: Jesus fought against the Empire. Rome ruled the world (as anyone with basic knowledge of history ought to know) at the time and Jesus comes in declaring himself deity, king, and lord. Pretty radical stuff at the time. His death, understood rightly, is a political death. He challenged the Jewish leaders and the Roman leaders at the time. The irony, though, is that unlike other revolutionaries who tried to revolt his was a subtle, silent, nonviolent one. As he told Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Jesus cared about nonviolence. Something American aren’t too fond of.

Example 2: Jesus cared more for the poor than we can ever grasp. It’s actually pretty fair to say that he gave priority consideration to the poor. He elevated them by equating those who are beaten down by systems of oppression (another key) with himself. Try telling that to American evangelicals.

Example 3: He cared about life. And no, I’m not about to rant on abortion. Jesus cared about all aspects of life (birth, creation, living, death, birds, bees, trees, etc.) and he even said he came so that “they might have life to the full.” Somehow that part got missed in evangelicalism crusade to tell people how to dress and be human.Guess what? Jesus wants people to live life to the full and, as Joel Osteen-y as this is gonna sound, that means Jesus wanted people to live in a way which makes sure that they can enjoy life. And telling people to not like who they want or dress how they like has led to too many young deaths, so sorry evangelicals, checkmated by Jesus.

My point in all this: Jesus had bigger concerns than the crap evangelicals seem to care about so much and want to worship and die on. I’m glad you want to defend dinosaurs but seriously? I think Jesus had bigger concerns.