Monthly Archives: June 2007

Man Hugs

Surfing through the 50 or so blogs I track at Bloglines, I recently viewed an entertaining four-minute video.  Besides being funny, watching it is roughly analogous to an archeologist realizing that the cuneiform text he’s struggling to translate makes perfect sense on the assumption that it’s reporting the chemical properties of the last nine elements of the actinide series (elements 95 through 103), including the Hittite equivalent transliteration of their names:  americium, curium, berkelium, californium, einsteinium, fermium, mendelevium, nobelium, and lawrencium. 

But, this video has nothing to do with Hittite cuneiform or the actinide series from the periodic table of elements.  As the title to this blog indicates, the video has to do with man hugs.  To be precise, the title  is “How to Give A Great Man to Man Hug.”

Men who know how to give a great man-to-man hug

The video edifies on two levels.  First of all, it is funny.  It is cast well, and the actors are flamboyantly hammy.  Among the fun parts is a demonstration of what happens when a man-to-man hug is incompetently executed, resulting in a bashing together of foreheads and noses:

Men who don’t know the first thing about man-to-man hugs

So, without further ado, be thou entertained by clicking the link below.  After your entertainment, come back here, and I’ll set you to looking for the second way this video is edifying.

View “How to Give A Great Man-to-Man Hug” by clicking here

For those of you who are used to seeing a video player embedded in other blogs and wonder why I didn’t do it here, it’s because WordPress does not permit this feature at their site for security reasons.

Now, the video edifies for another reason, because it inspires this question:  Why is the subject of this video funny?  I think I’ll leave it at that for a few days to see what others suggest. 

Inaccurate answers will be “hammy acting” or “slapstick humor.”  Yes, the video has both, and they contribute to the humor.  But, that’s not what I’m asking about.  Beyond the humorous elements (slapstick, hammy acting), the subject itself  and how it is expounded in the video make us ask “Why is this funny?”

Whaddaya think?

My thoughts on this later …

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A Person With Breasts

Peggy Noonan trains her sights on Hillary Clinton in this entry  of the Wall Street Journal‘s online Opinion Journal:

Hillary Clinton doesn’t have to prove she’s a man. She has to prove she’s a woman.

A person with breasts, and also with bicepsShe doesn’t have to prove to people that she’s tough enough or aggressive enough to be commander in chief. She doesn’t have to show she could and would wage a war. She has to prove she has normal human warmth, a normal amount of give, of good nature, that she is not, at bottom, grimly combative and rather dark.

This is the woman credited with starting and naming the War Room. Her staff has nicknamed her “The Warrior.” Get in her way and she’d squish you like a bug. This has been her reputation for 20 years. And it is her big problem. People want a president to be strong but not hard.

A longtime supporter of Mrs. Clinton’s spoke with candor some months back of her friend’s predicament. “We’re back where we were in ’92–likability. Nothing has changed.”

Back then, when the Clintons were newly famous, their consultants were alarmed to find the American people did not believe Hillary was a mother. They thought she was a person with breasts in a suit. She had a briefcase and a latte and was late for the meeting, but no way she did she have a child.

The gender-undertones here are fascinating to contemplate. 

On one hand, Noonan understands one of the fundamental planks of regnant feminism:  sexual differnces are merely and exclusively biological.  Individuals are “persons,” some of whom have breasts (the women) while the rest have differently configured tender bits (the men). 

On the other hand, Noonan’s trenchant analysis of Hillary’s campaign shows us that the electorate finds sex to involve more than a candidate’s sexual plumbing.  Evidently the electorate still thinks that sex has non-biological dimensions well.  Somehow notions of war and warriors and waging war and squishing bugs and aggression and being commander-in-chief are tied to masculinity, while femininity is still associated with human warmth, good nature, motherliness, and Celine Dion’s music.  Hillary isn’t feminine, and people notice. 

What a conundrum!  Hillary’s campaign must not break faith with that monstrous regiment of persons with breasts who give continual trumpet blasts against The Patriarchy.  And, yet, it appears Hillary’s campaign is waking up to this inconvenient fact:  they must secure the support of sexual neanderthals who still think that women ought to be and to act in classical patterns of femininity, all of which are scorned by those whose fundamental identity is “person with breasts.” 

Here’s the larger issue Noonan doesn’t even begin to engage:  when women wield great political power in the public arena, particularly the executive power, it trips the sexual identity alarms in those who behold it. As much as I admire Lady Margaret Thatcher’s achievements in temporarily reversing Great Britain’s slide into socialist mediocrity, I would never want her for a grandmother. 

Public executive power invariably masculinizes the women who wield that power, to greater or lesser extent that depends on the woman’s determination to retain some semblance of her femininity. 

These issues are writ large in something like Hillary’s campaign to become America’s first female president.  But, the same issues are alive and active in the workplaces, churches, families, and marriages of America’s Christians.  Noonan is like the boy who says “The Emporer has no clothes.”  Hillary has as much femininity as the Emporer had clothing.  What’s comical and dismaying at the same time is the plight of America’s Evangelicals — the egalitarians, overtly, and the squishy complementarians, implicitly — who are still mired in the feminist fantasy of the Seventies, when the cry of persons with breasts was “We can do anything a man can do.” 

Another person with breasts and manly accesorizingThat was never in doubt, of course.  The question was this:  may a woman do anything a man can do and still be a woman?  If “woman” means “person with breasts,” the answer is yes.  If “woman” means something more than biological factors, then Hillary’s campaign shows us the answer is no.  Hillary and her campaign managers, bless their hearts, are nearer the Kingdom than most American evangelicals.

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Dangerous Boys

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Woodlief and son Among the blessings of the Internet, one often stumbles across people you wish you had known about long before.  Another blessing is the ease by which to pass along these gems. Here’s one for you:  Tony Woodlief’s blog Sand in the Gears.   I stumbled across him via Opinion Journal ,  The Wall Street Journal’s online editorial portal, when Woodlief wrote a piece about fathers  for Father’s Day.  That led me to his blog, and from it I pass along another gem, his blog entitled “Snips and Snails and Puppy-Dog Tails” , which begins like this:

Cathy Young, whose writing I sometimes enjoy, suggests in her Reason Magazine essay  that the wildly popular Dangerous Book for Boys  is dangerous indeed, because it reinforces traditional sex roles. Why couldn’t it have been titled “The Dangerous Book for Kids”? In service to this question, Young quotes a female friend to great effect: “‘Where is the book for girls who did stuff like make their own chain mail as kids, or cracked rocks with sledgehammers in the driveway both to see what was inside them and to see if you could get sparks?'”

Woodlief proceeds to give an answer to this question, and it’s definitely fun to read. 

While you’re at it, take a look at Young’s essay  .  In it, she reports that “On blogs and Internet forums, readers complaining about the book’s exclusionary message have been dismissed as angry feminist whiners …”  Am I the only one who finds this sentence to capture the essence of feminist whining? 

Is this a whining feminist? Here are more things Young finds in The Dangerous Book for Boys to complain about:
 
“Yet the gender-specific nature of the message, which includes a chapter on how to deal with the alien creatures known as girls, is quite deliberate. Indeed, The Dangerous Book… is being treated as something of a political manifesto—a repudiation of the idea that boys and girls are basically alike.”

And,  this:

“While it encourages respect for girls, it does seem to treat them more as ‘the weaker sex’ than as equals. In one grating passage, boys are encouraged to carry a handkerchief, among other things, for ‘offering one to a girl when she cries.’ ”

And, also this:

“The trouble with The Dangerous Book for Boys is not that it seeks to restore the old-fashioned charms of adventurous boyhood but that it’s being treated as a restoration of old-fashioned wisdom about boys and girls.”

Woodlief provides a helpful analysis of Young’s pique.  Read it.  For now, I wish to comment on this observation by Woodlief:

Part of the problem here is the mistaken notion, perhaps due to an overactive sense of grievance, that the title of the book means that the knowledge therein is exclusively for boys. A more generous reading reveals that the authors, Conn and Hal Iggulden, simply wanted to include the stories, games, and skills that a great many boys (and men) want to know. Does that mean no girls should want to know these things? Of course not.

By men, for boys from eight to eightyI wouldn’t fault Woodlief too much here, but I think he has blasted right past the Real Affront that The Dangerous Book for Boys delivers to feminist feelings:  the book is addressed to boys only.  The back cover text includes this outrageous statement:  “The perfect book for every boy from eight to eighty.”  This, I submit, is what riles feminist sensibilities – that someone (especially males) would have something to say to other males, and expressly to ignore females in the bargain.

There are two books in the Bible which are written by men and for men.  Christians with an orthodox view of the Bible must confess that God wrote a couple of dangerous books for men and placed them in the canon.   The woman’s perspective is entirely missing in these books.  Though women are mentioned in these books, it is always from the perspective of men.  In these books you find information and opinion about women (though women are far from being the central subject of either tome) conveyed to men by other men.  

Do you know the name of these books of the Bible?  I’ll blog about them later.

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Happy Father’s Day

father-and-child.jpgOn this Father’s Day in 2007, I say “Happy Father’s Day” to all fathers, and commend to you this essay by Kevin McCullough entitled “Why Feminists Hate Fathers.”  It’s not entirely evident what McCullough’s religious commitments are from the essay, but he most certainly falls into the Judeo-Christian spectrum.  His explicit points are that men are designed by God to do two things:  to provide for and to protect a family.  He also has some things to say about God as the ultimate Father which sound very much like what Paul refers to in Ephesians 3:15, viz. that God the Father is the one from whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth takes its name.

 If you’ve got a stomach for the dismal, here you can read Al Mohler’s commentary on what results when boys don’t have fathers.

On the other hand, for a healthy perspective on imperfect men becoming good fathers, read this.

And, if you need Biblical grounds for the necessity of fathers and some good modeling of fatherhood, read here.

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Welcome to the Madhouse

An inhabitant of the future egalitarian madhouseA current inhabitant of the Anglican madhouse.

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This summer the worldwide Anglican communion is coming apart at an accelerating rate .  The “presenting issue” was Gene Robinson’s consecration to the office of Bishop in the autumn of 2003.  You see, Robinson divorced his wife and took up “married” life with another man.  The negative reaction of the rest of the Anglican communion – mostly concentrated in the Southern hemisphere – and the Episcopal church’s repudiation of their objections are combining to fracture the Anglican communion as I write these words. 

But, Gene Robinson’s consecration was merely the presenting issue.  The real madness is  much deeper.  Here is how one Anglican described it recently.  Read Peter’s parable first, and then I’ll connect a dot or two for you:

OK, so here it is. We as a church have had a wasps nest of heresy and apostasy on our porch and, rather than doing the painful but necessary thing (which, by the way is mentioned as both necessary and painful in the Bible – y’know that book that…oh never mind) we have decided to ignore and tolerate it.

So, what happened? Well, funnily enough that wasp’s nest, over the course of the summer, grew, expanded beyond the confines of the box and suddenly, rather than a tiny little wasps nest we have a great big wasps nest – on our porch, stopping us getting in and out, getting the kids stung and generally making daily life difficult.

We tolerated it, and look what we became: the spectre of Catholic bishops tolerating ‘Catholic’ politicians supporting abortion and other innovations of the zeitgeist.

Simply put, you don’t tolerate wasps, you don’t tolerate sin, because if you do it just grows.

But wait a moment, where do Anglicans fit into all this, you may ask? Well, for the record I am not a good Anglican. If I was a good Anglican I would have taken that wasp’s nest inside and placed it at the centre of the mantelpiece. I would have watched it grow with pride, congratulating myself on my diversity and tolerance, glad that I had found it in my heart to be so inclusive. I would have been stung, and watched my children being stung and have rejoiced in this new relationship that the spirit was working within us.

Welcome, friends, to our world. Welcome to the Anglican Madhouse.

A madhouse indeed, with the inmates in charge.  Evangelicals have been running the same sorts of institutions for 20 or 30 years now.  And, they all started out with exactly the same conviction that the Anglicans embraced when they first ordained women back in the Seventies, namely, the egalitarian premise that sex has nothing to do with church order, church offices, church ministry, or the ordering of marriage.  It’s the feminist premise baptized and installed in the evangelical magisterium (i.e. seminaries, publishing houses, and mission boards). 

Looks normal, right?Now, what’s wonderful about religious madhouses is this:  they usually appear utterly normal.  All the psychic (or, theological) horrors are well hidden behind the visible veneer of civility, piety, and bible-babble.  Stained glass, well-polished and padded pews, tasteful colors and the soft rustle of choir robes or clerical vestments render it all so … well, staid.  If a stranger to the Episcopal madness were to wander into Gene Robinson’s Prayer Book Eucharist and didn’t pay very close attention to what was said outside Prayer Book texts and responses, he’d likely have no idea that he was worshiping in an Episcopal madhouse. 

No doubt, the scene was also quite staid, civil, and effused with somber joy where this happened:

This also looks normal, right?Synod 2007 made a historic decision last night, voting to remove the word “male” as a requirement for holding ecclesiastical office in the Christian Reformed Church.  This opens the way for any CRC congregation to ordain women as ministers, elders, deacons or ministry associates.

Today, synod will take up two remaining proposals that include opening the way for women to serve as delegates to synod.

The decision last night also reflected synod’s desire to maintain unity in the church by respecting the convictions of those who believe the Bible prohibits women serving as office bearers. It allows classes to set restrictions on women serving as delegates to classis meetings.

The pastoral psychosis embedded in this event is a tad easier to see in the remarks of two supporters of the change, reported in the Kalamazoo Gazette :

The Rev. Joel Boot prayed that God help the CRC’s “disagreeing and sometimes disagreeable people to be one.”

That already is happening, said elder Henry Baron. He said the 150th anniversary celebration Sunday gave delegates a motivating vision of a more-inclusive future.  “This is a wonderful, exhilarating step toward togetherness, reconciliation and healing,” Baron, a Synod clerk, said of the women’s decision.

Even those who oppose women clergy hope the CRC will benefit from moving beyond a decades-old conflict.

“Animosities should vanish and people should be liberated to freely move forward and live for Christ,” said the Rev. Joel Nederhood. “There’s no reason why conservative people can’t develop their full potential in this denomination.”

An inhabitant of the future egalitarian madhouseClearly, the disagreeable people Rev. Boot has in mind are those opposing women clergy who are, nevertheless, going to benefit from moving beyond a decades-old conflict.  Whether they like it or not, those conservative people WILL develop their full potential.

For a really well-developed look at what this potential becomes, revisit the modern Anglican madhouse.  They’re about 50 years down the road from the CRC and other evangelicals.  The future for today’s egalitarian-infatuated evangelicals appears to be no less deranged than what the Anglicans are already enjoying.  There are even pockets of this madness within Roman Catholicism, that ostensible bastion of male privilege and power. 

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Bluebonnets and Graduations

Texas glory

These are Texas’ glory, at least in the regions where they flourish, in which region I am privileged to live.  The Texas Department of Transportation has sown bluebonnet seed along the interstates, and when they come into bloom, you pass miles upon mile upon mile of blue fields, blue embankments, blue road ditches.

In our case, we enjoy them here:

Aunt Kathy's playpen

This is a view looking east from the high point of Aunt Kathy’s 127 acre playpen in the south of the county, a spot we refer to as “Lexa Lookout.”  The spot is named for my first daughter, Alexa.  In every direction you could see something like this during bluebonnet season this year.  From this spot, if you turn around 180 degrees, this is what you’d have seen …

Bluebonnet badlands

The view above is from Lexa Lookout looking west.  The moon-like terrain is what’s left after soil erosion has taken everything down the creek.  It is the haunt of three of Texas’ four poisonous snakes — the diamondback rattler, the copperhead, and the coral snake.  The fourth (cotton mouth, or water moccasin) lives in the creek nearby.  We have rarely seen any of these, though all have been encountered on the property.  Instead of feeling fearful about snakes we never see, we enjoy scenes like this …

Aunt Kathy’s farm, named The Francesca (after my third daughter and her niece, Francesca, mentioned in a blog last April), is home to a dozen or so head of cattle who chew their cud in luxury until it’s time for them to grace Texan’s tables with their steaks and burgers.  Besides a bed of bluebonnets, the farm affords them watering holes such as this:

Pond Roni

Pond Roni is one of two stock tanks that catch rainwater for the cattle.  The rock in the photo is actually engraved with the words “Pond Roni.” It’s not a photoshop trick.  A similar rock perches over the larger stock tank, but it is engraved “Lake Geneva.”  Roni is a nick-name for my fourth daughter Veronica.  Geneva is my second daughter.

From the blog last April, you will know that Cheska viewed all the above from her vantage point in heaven.  Down here on earth, her two older sisters were graduating from college.

Alexa graduates from UT Austin

Alexa graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, receiving a BA with honors, majoring in Latin and minoring in linguistics.  She will take her teacher’s certification exam this summer in Latin, and is seeking employment in the Austin area.  Meanwhile, across the state at my alma mater, Texas Tech University, …

Tech grads with Cowamungus

We attended the graduation of my second daughter Geneva and my son-in-law (Geneva’s husband) William.  Here they pose in their regalia before one of two bronze cows that grace the entrance to one of the buildings in the Agriculture College of Texas Tech.  Inside the building in the background is a restaurant named Cowamungus, which serves cuts of meat from the undergraduate butcher classes.  These cuts are also sold in Cowamungus’ butcher shop.  Perched on the statue in the background is Alexa and Veronica.

William received a BA with high honors in history.  He is Texas Tech’s first humanities graduate to be admitted to Cambridge University for graduate work.  As a member of Sidney-Sussex College, he will pursue a doctorate in Medieval canon law. 

 Geneva received a BS with highest honors  in chemistry.  She too will pursue graduate work at Cambridge University, assisted by a Gates-Cambridge fellowship.  As a member of Trinity College, she will work toward a doctorate in chemistry.

Geneva and William will not be the only married couple among the student body at Cambridge, but they are one of very few married couples who have entered Cambridge as “foreign” students, already married. 

The summer before us looks rich from this vantage point.  We’re going to be enjoying some of our last extended times as a family before the children scatter to their further educations and vocations.  Then our nest will have only one chickie left, to blast through her senior year in high school and off to who knows where.

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