Beauty and the Eyes of The Beholder 

Beauty 2/24/00

Beauty they say,                                         Is in the eye of the beholder, Something only skin deep.                   But why do those who lack it,           Hold their eyes and weep?
Sympathy passes on,                             into the life of the pained,               Lifting its head from the few who pass, Without knowing gain,                         But why do those who get it,             Wish to the skies for more?                 Life is filled with everything,             And everything is beautiful,               Life is dealt without sympathy,           And sympathy is alone,             Wondering,                                       Through black streets,                           And dark roads,                                   Lying in lonely disarray,                   While beauty is admired.

Is “beauty in the eye of the beholder” as the common phrase says?  Or is beauty objective and determined by fixed rules? 

When I hear someone say there are objective standards for beauty I often get the impression that what they really mean is “everyone should agree with my subjective opinion about what is beautiful.”  When pressed about these objective standards, most people who claim an objectivity about beauty will point to some cultural standard or some past expression of beauty that they personally find timeless and standard. These are obviously just subjective opinions held by the majority, not a truly objective set of standards. 

Is there an objective standard of beauty? Sure: God Himself. 

God is the only objective measure of all things. Since nothing is beautiful compared to the perfect God, it can be argued that nothing is truly beautiful. If this is true it can be argued that mankind is incapable of producing anything objectively beautiful. We merely produce ugly things and insist that they be called beautiful. 

That view is too pessimistic in my opinion.

God gave mankind a cognizance of beauty, therefore we can find beauty in nature. We know there is beauty because we know that a beautiful God created the universe and imparted beauty to it. Not only can we recognize beauty, we are part of that beauty, because we are made in His image.

If God made all things, does this make all things beautiful? In a sense everything God has made is beautiful. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” There isn’t anything ugly which God has made. So where does ugliness come from? 

The simple answer is this: sin. 

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” – Isaiah 52:7

Good news is beautiful, the Gospel is beautiful, and news of happiness is beautiful.  In a sense beauty is truth: that which corresponds to reality. 

Sin both corrupts the beauty of God’s creation and distorts our ability to see it correctly. Sin distorts our mind’s interpretation of reality and therefore our ability to comprehend beauty is corrupt as well. The corruption of our souls often leads us to miss true beauty. Often we instead perceive true ugliness (sin) as beauty.

Does sin destroy our ability to see beauty at all? Some might say that we cannot truly see beauty because of our sin. I think we are capable of seeing beauty, but our minds corrupt and darken the beauty we see (see Romans 1).

So what is the objective standard, if any, for beauty?  I can only define beauty by what it is not. Anything which violates the Holy will of the Holy God is NOT beauty. Sin is not beautiful. Violence, lying, theft, illicit sex, idolatry, covetousness, and blasphemy are not beauty. Anything which is untrue is not beauty.

Objectively speaking then, anything which is not sinful can be considered beautiful. 

But what about subjectivity? Is beauty inherent in things or is it “in the eye of the beholder?”

To those with natural senses there are at least two things that I would say are universally considered beautiful: sunrises and stars. No one looks at either and says “that’s ugly!”  Other natural wonders could be added to this list, but every other one I can think of may be tainted by cultural perspectives, i.e. the ocean may be beautiful to islanders, but to inland folk it could be considered mysterious and terrifying. Perhaps even these cultural perspectives are tainted by sin (fear). 

The common thread through all of these beautiful things, whether they be natural things or Gospel things, is that they all point us to God. So if I was to answer the question “What is the objective standard for beauty?” I would say “That which is truth and that which points to God.”

And to me, that can take many forms. 

Why I Am [Not] A Conservative [Anymore] Part 2

​Here’s the second part of “Why I Am a Conservative”, if you missed the first part you can find it here:

“Universal health care: what shall I say? It is a falsehood, anyone who lives in a socialist country, even our neighbors to the north, can tell you: universal health care is never universal. Yes, you may be guaranteed a spot on the list for a heart transplant, but you can also be guaranteed that your wealthy neighbor is more equal than you and is higher on that list. Socialism has never worked in the way liberals claim it does, there will always be elites, there will always be upper classes, there will always be powerful people; that is the way things work. The only way socialist governments have been able to assure complete equality is to assure that everyone is equally poor (except the leaders, they need more food, bigger houses, and fatter wallets to be able to rule). [conservatives are actually pretty good at keeping artificial wealth differences in place as well, though they are a bit more discreet about it] The best way to fix health care is to get the lawsuits out of the courts [actually no, people should have the right to sue negligent companies, judges should be sorting out the nonsense from the legitimate cases] , allow drug companies to develop their medicines without harsh outcries from the wacked out liberal animal cruelty people (hey, sewer rats have a far worse life) [here’s an idea, why not let companies make products that people want or need and let people decide on their own whether the benefits of said products outweigh the risks?] and let people have more of their hard earned money so they can afford to go to the doctor. [I. e. “taxation is theft”] 
I have no idea what they mean by “comprehensive family support policy” so I won’t touch that except to say that I believe the church is the best support for any family. [second best, behind extended family] Let the church do its job to help the needy and to help families stay together. Do not devalue marriage by placing “progressive” ideas such as homosexual marriage upon it. [actually, do not devalue marriage by allowing government to define it] Do not disrupt the family by allowing divorce to run rampant because the couple just couldn’t get along. Marriage is a binding contract, one that should not be taken lightly, it should not be as easy as it is to get out of it. [again, we let government define the terms of the marriage contract, why are we surprised that they can so loosely allow the breaking of the contract?] 

As for the inherent dignity and worth of every human being, I had to chuckle at this one. Liberals always want to keep the appearance of being the “dignity and worth” philosophy, and they are pretty good at securing rights for women and minorities, but they take these rights too far. Not to sound libertarian [LOL, oh old self, so worried], but I think liberals have violated the rule of “my rights extend as far as your nose”. Liberals have managed to beat bloody the rights of the unborn with their fight for women’s “rights.” Liberals have blackened the eyes of many well qualified whites when they decided that we should give extra value to a person’s skin color (but only if they are a minority). Liberals have broken far too many noses on their fight for “freedom.” I believe every human life is sacred and every human has immense worth and dignity (even my liberal adversaries), that is why I believe in protecting the right to life of the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled. When liberals stop supporting the killing of unborn children and the euthanization of people who are “not living a full life” they can talk to me about this subject, until then I am not going to believe that they think human life is worth something. [I actually still agree with all of that, but I was sounding libertarian LOL] 

Why am I a conservative? I am a conservative because I believe that values and morals do not change [yep], no matter how unpopular they are with the minority of people; I believe people need to work for their food [yep]; I believe health care is the responsibility of doctors, not big government [yep], and that frivolous lawsuits and the resulting insurance bills drive medical practitioners to set their fees sky high [nope, it’s actually the whole “insurance as third party payer” system that makes health care costs so high]; I believe that the family is the most basic unit of human existence and that we shouldn’t tamper with an institution which has worked out fine for thousands of years [yep] without “progressive” tampering (more on this subject later [don’t know what “later meant, I wasn’t blogging then]); and lastly I believe that every human being has worth and dignity and that we need to protect the fundamental right of every individual to be born and to live without fear of being extinguished for a perceived “suffering” or lack of contribution to society [Meh, I agree still, but how often are liberals actually executing people for not contributing? Hyperbole helps no cause.]. This is why I am a conservative, and whether or not the liberals win the courts [which wouldn’t matter in Ancapistan] and win over the Democratic party, I will always be a conservative [LOL] because my values and ideas don’t change with the passing of a breeze, my morals are not thrown out with my belief in equal freedom for all, and my God doesn’t change his mind when society tells Him to. [Preachy much, old self? My values haven’t changed, but I have since dug deeper into their logical conclusions and changed a great many of my views on social and political matters. Having picked apart many of those values I discovered many instances where my morality was not matching up with those values. Consistency is important in the realm of values and morals, and when the two are at odds or are even slightly off-kilter it is important that we act quickly and decisively to bring the two into harmony.]”

I hope you have enjoyed this little exercise as much as I have, go back and read the first part if you missed it. 

Why I Am [Not] A Conservative [Anymore] Part 1

The original article made Ron Paul’s skin crawl…

I was looking through some old writings of mine the other day and ran across this little gem written around 2004 or so. If it wasn’t so polemic it would crack me up. Actually it kinda does. I wrote this awhile before I began my “descent” into anarcho-capitalism and it’s neat to see where I was at the time. I’m sure in another ten years or so I will be just as amused at this blog as I am at this little rough draft. For ease of reading I am breaking it up into two parts. I will give my current day responses in brackets.“Why I am a conservative

Recently I have seen conservatives compared to Fascists and Nazis [this is still quite common]. The comparisons made are between our staunch nationalism and our commitment to tradition and the authority of government [when the shoe fits]. That’s where the real comparisons ended. The rest of the comparisons seemed to be a bit on the misinformed, conspiracy-theory-driven side. Big former CEO’s were put in government offices, therefore we have a government which is tightly bound to corporations (which we all know are corrupt and evil). [oh wait, the government is in bed with corporations, hence lawmaking that is clearly biased towards certain companies and industries] The current administration has put people in place who have lied and cheated their way to the top (repeatedly pointed out by liberals but never proven), we have tried to place “bigoted” judges into federal court, we have tainted the government with religious rightism and hatred [yep, yep, yep and this is every administration]. And all of this from the New York Times.
To top it off I find an article describing the “superiority of liberalism” which includes a list of what liberals are: people who believe values and ideas evolve, that the government needs to help the underprivileged, that universal health care is long overdue, that the nation should have a “comprehensive family support policy”, and people who believe in the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. [this is actually a pretty good definition of modern “liberalism” though they don’t actually believe in human dignity, government supersedes all human dignity] The article went on to describe how America was founded upon liberalism and how George Washington was a liberal [this is true, but not that kind of “liberal “] and how liberals have been victorious in every battle they have ever fought. 

Now while that list is impressive, and while I would agree to some extent that our forefathers were pretty liberal for their day, I would like to point out the great failures of the liberals and list a few reasons why I do not consider myself one of them:

Values and ideas evolve: Yes, they do, but not always in the right direction. Rather, ideas change, values do not. The values of this nation, regardless of what they in the left want you to believe, are based on Judeo-Christian principles. Our founding fathers, those rabble-rousing revolutionary liberals that they were, were for the majority a devoutly religious crowd [well, more devout than most “liberals “ today anyway]. They did not fight against the values they were raised with, but because of their values. While God was not specifically mentioned in the Constitution you only have to read the journals and prayers of [some of] the signers to know that they felt it unnecessary to put God in there. Everyone would understand the law of the land to be based in these principles [at least in part].

The government needs to help the underprivileged: yes, the government is here to help protect its citizens and give them the freedom and the rights they were endowed with to get ahead in life, but it’s not here to give handouts to those who deem themselves “less fortunate.” [actually no, the government does not “give” rights, and it should definitely not be giving out handouts to anyone]. I believe we [not government, “we” is a general term for parents, churches, well meaning older folks Etc] need to educate those who are behind in life, we need to give the young urban blacks a better message than “you are oppressed, you will never make it anywhere without government help” or worse “go smack up some hoes, do drugs, join a gang, kill cops, and be bigger than everybody.” [I didn’t stereotype much back in the day did I?] Handouts can only go so far. Education, while not as quick to show results, results in permanent change [especially government sponsored education, how else can you create permanent statists?] . The liberals believe we can help the needy by legalizing drugs (decriminalizing the poor drug dealers) [actually this would help a lot of people and make the drug industry less profitable and improve a lot of neighborhoods], giving jobs to less qualified minorities because of past oppression and primarily because of the color of their skin (which puts them into jobs they are not able to handle) [the government doesn’t “give” anyone a private sector job and definitely should not be in the business of telling private industry what to do], and by giving out food and health care to everyone including the illegal immigrant who doesn’t have protection under our constitution [yep, that piece of paper is what gives us rights and human dignity, if you aren’t in the club, we are perfectly within our rights to strip you of both #Sarcasm] . Now, that may sound cruel, but I guarantee you will see results if you educated the poor instead of giving them a blanket to cover their symptoms [this I still agree with]. As for minorities, I believe this country will be color blind once it stops using color as a leg up, once we take the race box off of college and career applications, and once we finally stop discussing racism as if every white person is a KKK member ready to go out and hang every black, Mexican, or Asian that lives within our borders. Racism is a self perpetuating problem, ignore the few insignificant instances of it and you will prevent the large scale retaliations of scores of white people just trying to say “hey, get off our backs!” [it might help white people a bit if they would stop eyeballing with suspicion every brown person with a Spanish accent and begging for a wall]. “

Come back in a couple of days to see the next section, it’s more fun in my opinion. 

Doubt and the Clouds of Doom

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:4-8

Doubt is destructive. It makes a person unstable and indecisive. It can lock you into a cycle of depression and feelings of inability. Doubt is anti-faith. Just like it’s ugly cousin anxiety, doubt can keep you chained up and numb to the good things you have been blessed with. 

On a recent trip to the “big city” (everything is big compared to Cloudcroft) my sinful tendency to doubt was thrown right in my face. The transmission on our truck began to act up and lights on the dash began flashing. Immediately my mind went to the worst possible scenarios. To my mind, there was no way the situation was going to work out well. What had been a fine day quickly became grumpiness and gloom. 

Indecisiveness is deadly. A few weeks back a rabbit darted in the road in front of us, made it across our lane, and changed its mind halfway through the other. It turned just in time to catch our rear dual. If that bunny had just committed to its choice to cross the road, rather than doubting its chances, we would not have been checking the dual for bunny that afternoon. 

We can all find ourselves like that bunny. If you find yourself running around indecisive and wishy-washy, you might want to ask yourself if you are doubting God’s Providence. 

God will not leave us lacking in anything, if we ask in faith. He won’t give us all of our wants but He promises to provide His child with all of their needs. Doubting this promise can lead us to stop asking Him for our needs altogether. And when we stop asking, we tend to go adrift. 

Don’t be a dead bunny, kill the doubt in your life before it kills you. 

My Wife Is Fat, Therefore I Look at Other Women

Come on, dude, she’s probably not even THAT big….

Recently I came across a discussion on Facebook that boiled down to this: “How does a woman respond submissively to her husband when he expects her to stay thin during pregnancy and is bothered by her weight gain from 3 kids in 4 years?” 
The question then went on to describe his concern that he might fall into lust because he no longer found her attractive. He argued that men are hardwired to find thin and young looking women attractive and cited this article as a source material for his way of thinking.

Now, of course this post rightfully incited a riot. There are several disturbing things going on with this question. 

First off, his main concern is not that his wife is a glutton, eating herself to death, and in sin. Even the blog post he cites is mainly addressing gluttony (though it’s focus is a bit off). His main concern is that she is losing her physical appeal to his appetite. 

Second, is this really a matter of submission? Is a woman required to keep herself attractive for her husband? Is she required to submit herself to whatever physical standard he deems attractive in the moment? 

Third, did he really marry his wife for merely her physical appearance? Is his love dependent on externals? 

If he was concerned with her eating habits and not just her baby weight, he may have a case. But he would be wise to approach the subject delicately. The last approach he should consider is the “You’re not attractive” route. Perhaps he should even consider leaving it up to her doctor to discuss it with her. Or offer to cook healthy foods for her (and eat them with her). Or exercise with her. I don’t care how ugly you think your wife is, you don’t have to tell her. 

The word “submission” gets thrown around frequently in these sorts of discussions. I don’t believe Biblical submission gives a husband license to ask whatever he pleases of his wife. There are some things, especially appearance wise, that people just can’t change. If this were a question about hair length or body hair or whether or not she wears makeup or certain outfits he has some leeway. But how she gains or loses weight is not something she has much control over. 

There is give and take in marriage. There is no Biblical requirement to stay attractive to your spouse. It is definitely a kind thing to do what you can. If you know they have a preference do what you can to meet it. My wife enjoys my beard and hair, and I like to keep her happy, even if sometimes my face itches and my hair gets hot. But I don’t think you’re in sin if you just can’t meet their standards. 

Probably the second most disturbing part about all of this is the way these “Christians” are adopting the world’s idea of what is attractive or necessary in a spouse. The Bible warns against putting too much emphasis on physical appearance because youth and “beauty” fade. 

Christians should seek to find the inner beauty of their spouse attractive.

But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:4

Inner adornment should be far more important to a husband than his wife’s outward appearance. It’s his job to wash her with the Word and present her without blemish. 

Besides, the world has a stupid standard. The average woman will spend most of her life with a post partum body. Why does the world expect women to forever look pre-baby (or in some senses pre-pubescent) when the reality is that most of womanhood is spent with scars from child bearing and age? 

I sincerely hope that he married her for more than her looks. A man who concerns himself only with how his wife looks is not loving her, he’s merely lusting over a body or a pretty face. Further still, he’s probably basing his standards of beauty on worldly standards. 

The most disturbing part about this question is the fact that he is willing to shift the blame for his sinfulness onto his wife. He is trying to blame his problems with lust on his wife’s appearance. This is nothing new, Adam played the same game when asked about his decision to eat the Forbidden Fruit. 

Christians need to stop writing blog posts and books giving men ammo for their blameshifting. His sin is his own, even if his wife is hideous or withholding sex from him, his lust is his sin. She will answer for her sins, be they gluttony or withholding. He doesn’t get to blame her for his sin anymore than she’ll be able to blame him. 

I’m glad to see the response to that post was overwhelmingly against this guy’s way of thinking. But the fact that these conversations come up at all is still evidence that we have a long way to go. Stop lusting after women, and stop blaming them. 

And please, stop calling your wife fat. 

Hey! Checkout blog post on Steem https://steemit.com/life/@driptorchpress/my-wife-is-fat-therefore-i-look-at-other-women-2017524t72752861z

Why We Stopped Reading Marriage Books

Blogs are not a good place to get marriage advice.
Despite sometimes writing about marriage, I personally don’t read blogs about the subject unless it’s to pick them apart.

The Internet is a great source of horrific marriage advice. Instead of going there and being inundated with nonsense, I recommend that you get your marriage advice directly from your spouse, not some credentialed celebrity pastor, not some well known author or speaker, not some mommy-blogger with too much time on her hands. Those folks don’t know you or your spouse. They don’t know your needs or your spouses needs. They know only themselves and some generalities that have been spread around since the beginning of time. 

The assumption of so many blogs seems to be “my husband/wife enjoys this, so yours must too.” They will offer advice like “look good” for your husbands and get your wives flowers once a week. While the advice isn’t always the worst, it doesn’t always apply to everyone. My advice? Do not heed such general and reckless advice. 

It reminds me of those old magazine articles about what women should do for their husbands. Have drinks ready. Fluff his pillow. Get the children cleaned up. It’s not bad advice necessarily, but if you step out and suggest that it’s perhaps a bit stringent you must be a radical. You might even hate your husband.

So much of this bad advice comes from complementarian circles. I’m not anti-complentarian, I’m anti-bad advice. Honestly, I don’t want my wife to do all those things for me. That is just not the way I want to be served. Just because we are complentarian doesn’t mean that we should assume men and women are cookie-cutter and all marriages are going to look the same. 

There are many books out there as well that carry lopsided advice. One is called Love and Respect. The basic premise of this book as I understand it is that men need respect from their wives and women need love from their husbands. Now, again, this is not completely untrue. But it does seem a bit overly simplistic. Not all men want just respect and not all women just want love. Love and respect are not mutually exclusive things. Nor is the desire to have one or the other determined by gender.

Unfortunately, when some of these suggestions are taken to their logical conclusion some people can get really damaged. If your husband doesn’t like make up or your wife is not the flower type, you can be left out to dry when truly trying to find help for your relationship.

Worse still is that some of the suggestions almost become rules. It’s not simply advice, it becomes law. And the authors will often find some obscure scripture (out of context) and say “see, the Bible agrees!”

Sometimes, they will take a verse not out of context, but apply it in a horrible way. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” becomes “confess all lustful thoughts you ever have to your wife.” This is a horrible thing to do, especially if you have a very sensitive wife. It becomes worse when  you’re expected to describe them in detail. This not only may horrify your wife, it makes you dwell on thoughts that you should probably just repent of and move on.

If I could narrow down most good marriage advice it’s this: treat each other with kindness. Be respectful, be loving, both of you. You should both be loving and respecting the other. Treat each other with common decency and humanity. Above all else, spouses should be learning as much as possible about each other. Find out what your spouse likes, asked detailed questions, then strive to do those things. Find out his or her love language. Seek to fulfill them in the way they request, not the way some book or blog tells you.

Learn about your spouse’s personality. Are they an introvert or an extrovert? Do they need time alone or do they unwind with people? Does he need to talk things out or does he need to be alone to figure out his problems? Maybe your wife likes gifts, maybe your husband likes for you to serve his plate. Maybe he likes to do things for himself and can’t stand to be waited upon. Maybe he does not want to burden you with superficial things like makeup. Does he really care? Don’t just assume that he does because a book or magazine told you he does, ask. Make him think about it. He is probably just going along with what other men have told him is attractive and has never really thought for himself about the subject.

It is a cliché, but communication is the key to good marriage. It’s important to communicate constantly so that you have an idea of your spouse’s desires and needs. Realize that they will change over time, but if the communication lines are open you will never miss those changes.

Marriage books will not prepare you for those changes. You read it, you accept it as law, and then you think your marriage will be static and perfect. But you grow and your spouse grows. In different seasons of life you two will always be changing and what was at one time indispensable is now completely unnecessary. Likewise, new needs will spring up and you will find yourself serving your spouse in ways you never imagined. You must communicate to know these seasonal changes.

Maybe I’m too hard on the books and blogs and other marriage related paraphernalia. Read them. Discuss them. Take them with a grain of salt. If something doesn’t sit right with you, make it known. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Music and Art Monday April 3rd, 2017

No new music and no new art, but I do have a book recommendation. 

I just finished reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It took me forever to finish because I got bored with it one third of the way through and quit reading it. How many times can she use the phrase “head thrown back”? Why is everything angles and light? Why are all of her characters so simplistic and one-dimensional? 

Almost a year after putting it down, I decided to plug through and finish it. I must say the rest of it was worth the effort. 

If you don’t want to read all of it, I at least recommend reading the third and final part. This is the real meat of the story, the summation of all the previous long and boring parts. This is the section where all of Rand’s philosophy shines through and makes you step back and contemplate life for awhile. 

When Roark delivers his final speech, it makes you want to create. When I finished it I immediately wanted to write. I didn’t care what everyone else felt about my writing, I just had to write.

It makes one step back and consider just how second-hand everything we do in life really is. How much do I produce, and how much do I simply borrow and steal from others? The conclusion is startling. 

Rand’s writing style is a bit romantic and over the top with gold and light, but when she pours out the philosophy it’s a pleasant punch to the gut that leaves you thinking “she’s right, she’s idealistic, but she’s right.” 

Every book of hers can be condensed and never lose the punch. Atlas Shrugged is her magnum opus and is oft recommended, but it too can be concentrated down to a few chapters and never reduce it’s meaning. 

So go pick The Fountainhead up, maybe it won’t take you an entire year to read. Or maybe I will, but only because you are savoring it.