The two kinds of romantic love

8096547973_367546a4eb_zOne kind of romantic love leads to life–to marriage, fruitful sexuality, children, family, virtue.  The other kind of romantic love leads to death–to sin, sterile sexuality, abortion, family destruction, ruin.

These two kinds of romantic love are explored in one of the most morally illuminating books of literary criticism I have ever read:  Love in the Western World by the Swiss Christian scholar Denis de Rougement.

A romance novel will often set up a triangle in which a woman has to choose between two suitors:  One is a good guy who cares for her, whom her parents like, and who would make a good husband.  The other is nearly a villain, an “anti-hero” who sometimes mistreats her, is a social outcast from her circles, and who even seems dangerous.  Young adults novels are often built around the same pattern,  with the choice between an all-American popular boy and a troubled, misunderstood, passionate “bad boy.”  Many literary novels have been about a happily married man who is lured away from his angelic wife by an exotic, sensual, forbidden beauty.

Sometimes the characters make the right choice in committing themselves to the good person.  But, more often than not, they choose the one who is bad “in society’s eyes,” but who offers them excitement, passion, and the thrill of transgression.  Romance and young adult novels often stop when the choice is made, imposing a “happily ever after ending.”  But honest works of literature, like Anna Karenina, show what happens next, with the forbidden love resulting in ruin, despair, and even death.

More importantly, the pattern keeps asserting itself in real life.   [Read more…]

And now multigender

625px-Whitehead-link-alternative-sexuality-symbol.svgHow many genders are there?  Jenny Crofton says an infinite number.  And that each person has a unique gender.  (That doesn’t add up to infinity, but let that pass.)  She goes on to describe the phenomenon of “multigender.”  She says that individuals can have change their genders, inhabit more than one gender at the same time, switch genders according to one’s company, and on and on.  She lists 12 specific types of multigender.

You can be any combination of genders you want and change them at will.  BUT, she says, you must NOT commit the sin of cultural appropriation.  You can’t be a “two-spirit” gender, as in some native American cultures, because only native Americans can be that.

Also, if you are multigender, as I guess everyone is, you are to be considered “trans.”  And you are oppressed and should be on the lookout for microaggressions.  Crofton goes on to give the answers to 10 questions you may have. [Read more…]

Why millennials are having less sex

2314507559_f0b038bfb8_zMillennials are having less sex than their peers in previous generations.  But it isn’t, for the most part, because they are embracing Christian sexual morality.  Rather, it is largely because their sexual desires (especially for men) are being slaked by pornography.  And because their main relationships are often online rather than in the flesh.

Lutheran pastor Hans Fiene, of Lutheran Satire fame, has a provocative article on this phenomenon in The Federalist.  He makes the case that pornography and virtual relationships are uniquely crippling emotionally and morally.  Whereas the sexual desire that leads to a relationship with a real person and then to marriage creates a whole range of virtues.
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“The crowd is untruth”

Soren_KierkegaardIn our discussion of yesterday’s post The Problem with Crowds, Stefan Stackhouse linked to an essay by Søren Kierkegaard, The Crowd is Untruth.  That essay is shockingly profound,, with great resonance for today.

The Danish Lutheran/proto-existentialist takes a theological, as well as ethical, view of crowds.  He points out that the Bible says, “Love thy neighbor”; not “love the crowd.”  He deals with “the daily press” and its creation of an abstract “public” that assumes an authority over what we are supposed to consider true.  He critiques those whose profession it is to lead a crowd and how they often ignore an individual in need because of their obsession with big numbers.   He addresses preaching.  (Yes, one can legitimately preach to a hundred thousand, as well as to ten.  But don’t let the desire to attract a hundred thousand determine what you are going to preach.)  He warns against the “numerical”–attending to numbers as your main criterion.

Pastors of big churches and of small churches should read this essay, excerpted after the jump.  So should church growth consultants, who often give the direct contrary advice.  (Large congregations don’t have to be “crowds” in this sense.  And small congregations should be appreciated, though they too can turn into smaller “crowds.”)

You don’t have to agree with Kierkegaard on everything to appreciate the force of his argument here.  But let me raise a question:  How can we avoid the danger of the crowd being untruth while acknowledging the corporate nature of the Christian faith?  Some Christians do have a completely individualistic understanding of Christianity–as in Tom T. Hall’s song “Me and Jesus”–with no need, as in that song, for the Church.

I suspect Kierkegaard’s answer would be in terms of how Christianity is for “the one,” yet “everyone can become that one.”  And in what he says about the love of neighbor.  Does this solve the dilemma, or is he taking individualism too far?

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The problem with crowds

512px-Flickr_-_moses_namkung_-_The_Crowd_For_DMB_1In a column in which he explains why he didn’t go to the Inauguration, Jonah Goldberg says that it wasn’t because he is a conservative never-Trumper.  He says that also doesn’t like to go to sporting events or arena concerts.  He just doesn’t like crowds.  But from there he raises some bigger points:  Crowds can become mobs.  The unit of American politics is the individual, not the crowd.  The experience of being in a crowd is losing one’s individuality in a bigger corporate unity.  And then he quotes Christian writer Eugene Peterson on how some people seek religious transcendence through the “ecstasy of the crowd.”

Read what the excerpt says after the jump.  How might this apply, say, to megachurches?  Isn’t it true that some–not all, I hasten to say–have worship services that try to stir up the “ecstasy of the crowd”? [Read more…]

Fear of the working class

616px-AlfredPalmerRamagosaThe editor of a liberal website has written about a plumber he had called to fix his drain.  The plumber acted professionally and did the job.  But he spoke with a Southern accent!  He didn’t seem upset about the election!  He might even have voted for Trump!  The editor described his fear at having a possible Trump voter in his home.

All this fear talk about Trump has me confused.  I can see a generalized fear about the future of the country, but this is far more visceral.  Gay people say how afraid they are–but Trump is all for gay marriage, transgender rights, and the LGBT cause!   Jews are afraid–but Trump’s son-in-law and main advisor is an Orthodox Jew, he has appointed a hard-core Zionist to be ambassador to Israel, and his foreign policy is going to be far more pro-Israel than Obama’s.

These irrational fears seem to be phobias.  Reynolds, who reported the plumber story and a number of similar examples in a USA Today article excerpted after the jump, calls it oikophobia, fear of one’s countrymen.  C. R. Wiley, whose post alerted me to this article and whose comments are worth reading in themselves, says it is androphobia, the fear of masculine men.

Those syndromes may be factors, but I see this problem as a pathological form of classism–bigotry against people of a lower social class than yourself.  Classism used to be a taboo like racism, with which it has lots of similarities, but no more.

The working class used to be the base of the American left and the Democratic party.  Ironically, this phobia or classism of today’s liberals against the working class was arguably what elected Donald Trump, as Democrats wrote off industrial states like Wisconsin in order to pursue millennials, techies, and other cool people.

The left has come a long way from “workers of the world unite!” to the fear of plumbers.  At least there is little danger today of a Communist revolution.  Today’s left has become far too bourgeois. [Read more…]