Homosexuaity as a social construct

Michael W. Hannon reminds us that postmodernist philosopher Michel Foucault, himself a homosexual, has maintained that homosexuality is a social construct.  Until the late 19th century, there was the vice of sodomy, but no one assumed that those who committed it had any kind of special psychology, much less a particular defining identity.

Then again, Foucault believed that virtually everything is a social construct.  And even if homosexuality is a social construct, that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.  But I’m curious about Foucault’s postmodernist disciples, many of whom are champions of the gay cause.  Gay activists seem to take an esssentialist view of homosexuality, that same-sex desire inheres in a gay person’s very nature.  But postmodernists tend to deny essentialism in everything else, including the notion that a human being has any kind of fixed identity.  So when postmodernists make the arguments that they do, are they just employing rhetoric in the pursuit of power? [Read more…]

Democrats up the ante on default bill

It looked like Congress was close to an agreement on funding the government and avoiding default on Thursday, but negotiations fell apart yesterday.  And as Republicans abandoned their insistence on defunding Obamacare, Democrats made demands of their own, insisting that Republicans agree to end the sequester, the across-the-board cuts from last time we were about to go over the fiscal cliff that have actually worked to curb government spending. [Read more…]

Women’s hands & ancient art

Look at your hands.  If you are a man, chances are that your ring finger is longer than your index finger.  If you are a woman, your ring finger and your index finger are probably about the same length or your index finger is slightly longer.  Right?  This very minor difference between the sexes was used to determine that the hand-paintings in the caves of Spain–among the earliest art ever discovered–were mostly the work of women.

cave-hand-art

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“Evangelization” and “Evangelism”

Pope Francis has said that he is against “proselytizing.”  But he is also speaking on what his predecessor started, the “new evangelization.”  After the jump, some of his remarks on the subject.  He is advocating “dialogue with those who do not share our beliefs,” which he has been doing, and projecting “God’s mercy and tenderness.”  He’s been doing that too.  He is talking about “witnessing,” which we often think of as a Protestant term, depending on what is meant by that.

I’m curious if there is a difference between “evangelization” and “evangelism.”  And how a Roman Catholic, in particular, for whom church membership is critical, carries out “evangelizing” without “proselytizing.”  Can Christians who are not Roman Catholics join in these efforts as he describes them?  Also, is the “evangel”–the good news of Christ’s forgiveness won on the Cross–always clear, either in Catholic “evangelization” or Protestant “evangelism”?   [Read more…]

Punitive Liberalism

If you watch old movies, read books from the first half of the 20th century, and are old enough to remember the early 1960s, you will recall that New Deal liberalism was a cheerful, optimistic creed, pro-American and working for economic prosperity.  After all, liberals from Franklin Roosevelt through Hubert Humphrey were progressives, which gave them confidence that things were getting better and better.  But after a certain point, liberals began to be filled with gloom and doom.  America must be punished for its sins; our neglect of the environment will incur apocalyptic judgment; economic prosperity weakens our moral fiber.  Conservatives used to sound that way, and did, before the sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan.

George Will discusses the shift to a “punitive liberalism” in a discussion of a book that sees the tipping point as  the assassination of John F. Kennedy, even though Lee Harvey Oswald was a Communist.  (I think the tipping point was the Vietnam War, but still. . . .) [Read more…]

Hitting retirement age

When you are young, you want to get older, looking forward to milestone birthdays–16 (I can drive!); 18 (I can vote!); 21 (I can drink!). After that, you don’t particularly want to get older, and the milestones acquire a negative connotation–30 (hippies won’t trust me!); 40 (but what have I accomplished?); 50 (welcome to the middle ages); 60 (I’m old!). But then comes a short span of time in which you want to get older, with retirement-related milestones–62 (I could take early retirement!), 65 (I would qualify for free health insurance with Medicare!), 66 (I could take the full Social Security benefits!). After that, I suppose, is the milestone that we don’t know when it is coming, when we really get to rest from our labors.

So today I am technically old enough to retire! That gives me a strange sense of satisfaction. Not that I am going to retire. That’s not the point. It’s just that I could. After the jump, some retirement-related questions for general discussion. [Read more…]