Judging A Book

Oh no, it’s that long haired hippie freak and his beard again…

What does your style say about you? Can someone really tell much just by what you wear or what you listen to? What do the various decorations you put on say to the world around you?

I walked into a country western store the other day. Everything in there was country, from the boots to the hats to jeans and the accessories. They even had redneck wine glasses. There was a guy in there with his son and they were both dressed to the hilt with rodeo garb. Needless to say my sandals, t-shirt, and long hair didn’t exactly fit in.

My wife works with a guy covered in tatoos. If you didn’t know him you would probably make an assumption that he has spent a bit of time in prison. Nothing could be further from the truth. He’s a hard worker who loves his kids.

I crossed paths with two guys in Wal-Mart who could have been drug dealers, but the well put together type. They were nothing but cordial when one of them almost ran into me. Definitely not the kind of reaction I would have expected if I had been judging them by their looks.

Even in church you meet some wiley looking characters. I grew up in a fairly well-to-do area where people dress up for church, and our church at “home” is filled with good-looking, tan, well dressed folks. It was a bit of a culture shock attending a mountain church. Mountain people live in a rough area, and they look the part. People come to church in jeans and graphic tees. They have mullets and scruffy unshaven faces. Some of them even smoke (gasp) in the parking lot. Yet they worship with sincerity and love God with all their hearts.

I love all these folks, from the tatooed characters in Wal-Mart to the well dressed folks in my home church. I may feel very conspicuous around many of them, and they may not always know how to talk to me, but every one of them is a person, created in the image of God, and worthy of love.

When we start judging people or expecting people to be just like us we risk alienating those who most need love. Christians stop spreading the Gospel. Imagine if Christ had avoided some of the people we do.

Now, this doesn’t mean we embrace sin. We shouldn’t be “inclusive” for the sake of political correctness or trying to make our church bankrolls bigger. Outright unrepentant sin should not be accepted by any true church.

But judging people by how they look and by their style is something no one should do.

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On Being Boyish Or Girlish

Someone tell my daughter she’s too brave…

Brave, strong, energetic, fierce. What do you picture when you read those words? Rather, who do you picture? I dare say the person in your mind’s eye is a male.

Why?

Likely you have many reasons. Fairy tales, action movies, perhaps you even read the book “Wild At Heart”. We assume men naturally have these characteristics. And that these are positive traits. Men that lack them seem like less of men.

But girls that have them? Do they become less girly? No, quite the contrary: they are well recieved.

We actually value these traditional “male” traits more than traditional “female” traits like humility, quietness, meekness, and delicateness. Characteristics that can be considered “weak” are looked down upon in our “only the strong survive” culture.

We have so over-emphasized self-reliance that any trait that seems dependant on another person, like empathy or compassion, has become a flaw. Femininity, or rather what we have chosen to define as femininity, is weak. To be feminine is to be demure and vain.

Therefore, we are more than willing to accept a “boyish” girl. She is strong and self-reliant. She will not be a burden on our individualistic society. She will contribute to it by being in the workforce and producing independent, strong children (who she will give to the State to educate and raise, but I digress).

We can accept girls who don’t exhibit those traits. After all, they are girls. We can’t expect all but the most exceptional of them to act strong and independent. Girls who aren’t “boyish” are okay. They make good wives to the more “manly” (read: brutish) men out there.

What about boys who don’t exhibit those traits? What about ones who actually exhibit those feminine traits?

We have gotten to the point where it is just assumed they are probably gay. We have actually gone back in history and labeled many historical figures as such. Men who expressed deep love for other men and wrote passionate letters to them (not sexual, just passionate) must have been homosexual. I’ve even read theories that Jesus and John were a couple.

Apparently straight men are incapable of anything other than brutish vulgarity and everything they think, say, or do is basically sexual. If he is brutish and aggressive the man is straight, if he is gentle and passionate (yet restrained) he must be gay. Or at best asexual.

And gay, like feminine, is weak.

Why can girls be “boyish” but boys can’t be “girlish”? Because we are phobic of “weakness”, that’s why.

Boyish and Girlish

Oh look, a butterfly, so girly!

My wife sent me a link last week knowing that I would just have to comment. I have written at least three posts about the subject after all. I didn’t ask this exact question though: Why is it that girls can be “boyish” but boys can’t be “girlish”?

Perhaps that is the wrong question. The more pertinent question is: How do we define what is “boyish” or “girlish”?

The article in question discussed several points like clothing preferences (colors and sparkles) and personality traits like compassionate or caring vs agressive and aloof.

To the first: preferences like these are almost completely cultural. What one culture considers feminine may very well be masculine in another culture. Pink and blue are not inherently gendered. A flashy man is not a less masculine man. There just happens to have been a movement towards dull drab colors on men in our culture over the past 120 years or so. If your son likes rainbows and flash he is not less of a boy for it, he just likes something less boring than the current culture would like him to.

To the second: what makes character traits feminine or masculine? Sure, there are definite hormonal and physical differences between males and females that result in slightly different personalities, but these are hardly universal. And they aren’t even that big of differences when we really look at them. My sons are definitely different from my daughters, but the differences are so subtle I couldn’t tell you if it was gender or simply their personalities.

Why this cultural push to make gentleness and compassion a strictly “female” trait? Why assume that a gentle man is effeminate? Why assume a woman who is strong and courageous is “acting like a man”?

Personally I think we are a culture much too obsessed with sexuality and gender. Since when are people narrowly defined by who they want to have sex with? Since when does gender dictate every character trait and personality quirk?

It’s gotten to the point where people even worry about their sexuality in church. Someone was complaining that worship songs in their church sounded “gay” because they call God “beautiful” or express a sentiment of wanting to be with Jesus. While I could agree that the theology of these types of songs is usually lacking and they are usually set to fru fru tunes it is ignorant just to lay them out as “gay”. Are those sentiments incorrect? Was it “gay” when Jesus washed His disciples feet or when we are told to greet one another with a holy kiss? What is it about expressing love in a gentle fashion that is “gay” or even “unmanly”?

Back to the first question though: Why is it that girls can be “boyish” but boys can’t be “girlish”? For that answer you’ll have to wait for next week.

Hang-Ups

How do you handle your hang-ups?

Kids and hangups? Ha!

What is your biggest hang-up?

For some it’s their body, for others it’s social interaction. Maybe you have bedroom hang-ups, or food hang-ups. I’m sure we are all aware of something that we just can’t quite get over.

But what about unconscious ones?

What hang-ups are lurking in your sub-conscious mind?

I took medications for years for a painful back. Very rarely did they help, and they came with the unpleasant need for blood work every six months or so just to make sure my liver was handling the stress. These days it’s difficult to take even herbal remedies (which I have found to actually work) because somewhere in my mind I am expecting nothing.

Like many people, marriage led to weight gain. I gained over 35 lbs after tying the knot. Diet, lack of exercise, stress, parenthood, there were so many factors it was hard to fix them all. It wasn’t until I switched careers to one that made me work out that I began to see a downward movement in my weight. Even then it took a drastic change in diet to get back to what I was on our wedding day.

Well, guess what my new hang-up became?

Carbs.

I got so good at counting them that I became almost phobic. And when you cut back on carbs you start eating less in general. Which leads to losing more weight than you really wanted to. In the month I have been on this mountain I have lost ten lbs. I am way more active than I am at home and I am sitting at 9,000 ft. My basal metabolism is higher, my activity level is higher, but my calorie intake is lower. I have gone too far.

It is really hard to tell yourself “eat more” when you remember what that extra 35 lbs felt like.

Hang-ups are trained into us. For years my wife suffered debilitating depression, and I adapted my behaviors around hers. I changed my personality, my habits, and my speech. My thought patterns were molded by how I expected her to respond. My very being was changed.

College psychology class was full of boring lectures and seemingly crack-pot ideas about how humans behave. But from what I have observed, people really do react and adapt to stimuli in sometimes bizarre ways.

Now that she is not depressed my brain is having a fit retraining itself to respond properly to her new and different stimuli. I expect her to be one way and act accordingly, but she is so different now my predictions hardly land correct.

There is so much I avoid doing or saying around her, all because of the training my brain endured for eight years. These hang-ups are hardly ever conscious. Like Pavlov’s famous puppies my body and behaviors have simply learned to respond according to what my mind expects.

What do I do with these hang-ups?

Well, the first step is realizing that I have them. As so many of them are subconscious it usually takes a secondary factor (like ten lbs of weight loss) to realize they are there.

Then it takes discipline and concious effort to change the behavior that results from the hang-up. Eat more, eat carbs, eat when you aren’t hungry but know you should. Talk to your wife, tell her what you like about her, pinch her butt, kiss her in public because you want to, ask her to do things you need. Take your medicine, even if you aren’t sure it will work, don’t stop taking it when you discover it does actually work (this will make it stop working, dummy).

You won’t necessarily be able to get rid of the hang-up. It may still lurk somewhere back there, whispering lies, trying to keep you locked up in it. But by changing your behavior, conciously and consistently, you will break it of its power.

How do you handle your hang-ups?

Take Your Compliments and Shove ‘Em

IMG_20170114_170752_269
Just an average picture of an average guy.

Compliments, what do we do with them? How constructively do we take criticism? What do we do when faced with cricket chirps at our hard work?

As I mentioned last time, I’m slowly learning to like, indeed, love myself. Part of this process is learning to accept compliments, second is learning to accept criticism without magnifying it out of proportion. Third and probably the most difficult is learning how to properly interpret silence.

A few months back I talked about how my anxiety has robbed me of contentment for many years. It has also given me a large sentiment of cynicism. I don’t trust people when they compliment me. I assume that they can’t really mean it. I’m not that great, am I? I’m certainly not worthy of the love of others.

I am though.

If an infinite and holy God can love me, then certainly other, not-so-holy, created beings can love me too. By virtue of being an image-bearer I am lovable. And I can accept compliments about my person, my actions, and my creations, without cynicism or disbelief. Sometimes, I really do good work. I should accept that, and love it about myself.

Also by virtue of being an image bearer can I accept criticism without believing that I am a worthless piece of rubbish. Yes, I am a sinner, and I am fallible, and nothing I can do is perfect, but that doesn’t make me worthless. By the Grace of God, I am not a piece of garbage. Critique should drive me towards better work, and make me strive after perfection, not run from it.

But what about silence? What about the times when no one seems to notice?

I put in effort, I strove for perfection, I did my best.

*Crickets*

That one is a bit more difficult for me. I think silence drives most creators mad. They want recognition, even bad attention is better than no attention.

I have to tell myself that sometimes silence is merely a sign that I am doing just fine. There is no need for critique, but I am not to the level of deserving a compliment. Average-ness is properly met with silence. And average is perfectly acceptable, if one is progressing smoothly within their level of experience. If I paint an average painting, or write an average prose, or take an average picture, or sing an average song, are they not still acceptable?

If I want accolades I should strive for better than average. I should work on jumping out of my level and into the next. And I shouldn’t take silence as critique.

If I am below average I should expect to be corrected; average, an approving silence; above average, resounding praise.

All should be equally acceptable to me.

Collectivism is Cancer

“Both ‘sides’ sucked.” – Caryn Ann Harlos

There is a cancer that is quite common to man. This cancer has plagued mankind since very shortly after we were removed from the Garden (or crawled out of the cesspool if you so prefer). This cancer goes by many names: communism, racism, nationalism, socialism, culturalism, tribalism, and so on. This cancer is collectivism. 

Google defines collectivism as: “the practice or principle of giving a group priority over each individual in it.” The nonsense going down in Charlottesville shows us two sides of the same collectivist coin. Both sides insist that their side is superior to the other side. Both sides are willing to resort to violence (aggression) against the other to gain dominance in the debate. 

“Us vs them” is a common theme in collectivism. “We” are superior to “them”, whatever or whomever “they” may be. Collectivists define themselves by their group’s characteristics, whether it be skin color, political ideology, religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation, or any number of easily or not-so-easily identifiable characteristics. 

Here’s a newsflash for all you Collectivists out there: your value as an individual is not determined by your outward or inward characteristics. Your value is not determined by your ideology or your sexuality, your color,  or your political party affiliation. Nothing you control determines your value. 

Collectivism (and its associated -isms) is a plague on this planet. We have forsaken the ideal that man is valuable because of his position in Creation. We have thrown off the concept of individual man made in God’s image and exchanged it with the belief that humanity is nothing more than an evolved super sludge from which some of “us” evolved more fully. 

Your value, dear Collectivists, comes from the One whose image you bear. Until you realize this, you will forever be fighting a pathetic battle against others who bear this same image. 

Of course, what gives the Collectivists most of their power is the belief that some people should have the monopoly of authority over others. The belief that aggression is the best way to keep people ordered and productive is vital to collectivism. The fact that we cling to things like democracy or oligarchy make the “Us” that we belong to very important. If we belong to the wrong collective we may end up on the wrong side of the gun. If an individual fails to identify with the right group (i.e. the one in power) he may find himself rounded up and thrown in prison, or worse. 

How does this relate to Charlottesville? Both sides suck. Both sides need to stop trying to get the upper hand on the other. Both sides need to stop valuing worthless characteristics and start seeing themselves and others as valuable individuals, worthy of dignity, respect, and rights. Both sides need to drop the “us vs them” tribal mentality that is keeping them locked into violent tendencies. 

End the cancer of collectivism. Start treating people like the individuals they are, respect them and love them. See them for what they are: individuals made in the image of God. 

TBH, Daddy-Daughter Dates Have Nothing To Do With “The Patriarchy” 

By taking daughters out and treating them kindly you are teaching them to expect men to love, honor, and cherish them. You are teaching them to expect respect from men. This is anti-patriarchy. 

This RC Sproul quote was my first thought when I read the blog post in question.

Since today is Valentine’s Day,  and this story came across my feed recently, this seems an apt topic.  

Sunday morning I was greeted first thing with a blog about daddy-daughter dates. The author of this post has decided that treating your daughter with common decency is symptomatic  of “the patriarchy”. She contends that it is “creepy” to take your daughter out and treat her special. Somehow, in her mind, inspiring your daughter to expect respect from men is encouraging “rape culture”. 

First off, I contend that fathers should treat their daughters special just because their daughters are their daughters. This is a little person who loves you and needs your love in return. You’ve been entrusted with her care and with teaching her to be a decent human being in a big ugly world. Treat her special because she is special. 

Secondly, it’s not wrong or “creepy”  to treat your children with common respect. The author’s contention that pulling your child’s chair out for them,  picking out their outfit,  and basically treating them with kindness and love somehow promotes “rape culture” is ridiculous.

Please, stop insisting that a man holding the door for you is “rape”. You’ve destroyed all the meaning of that word and have disrespected every woman who has actually been raped. Rape culture is promoted mostly by teaching little girls that all men are creeps. Set their standards low and they will settle for any sleeze that tells them he loves them. After all, if all men are creeps, why waste time trying to get a good one?  

When a father takes his daughter out and treats her with respect, he’s not teaching her that she is unequal to men. He is teaching her what real love looks like from a man. Real love respects others and treats them not just as equals but, in many respects,  as superiors. Shouldn’t this be desired by modern feminists? Shouldn’t they want this?  

Why do modern feminists insist that equality is a zero-sum game and that we can’t treat people with kindness and also see them as equals? Not only do I open doors for women, I also open doors for men. Is it because I think they are weak, or below me, or not equal? No, it is because I respect them and I like to treat other people with kindness and love. 

Do these women think that men treat other men like dirt and therefore the only way to be equal with men is to be treated like dirt?  Instead of teaching men to stop treating their daughters with special love and care shouldn’t we instead call men to treat other men (and women) with respect?

Must men treat women like dirt in order to be considered up to date with modern feminist equality standards?

She also says that mother son dates aren’t a thing. Personally,  I hope women do take their sons out on dates. Parenting requires one-on-one time with your child. When you have 5 kids like we do it’s darn near impossible to get one-on-one time with each one. Being intentional about getting that time is to be commended. 

Thanks to Freud and the sexual Revolution, our culture is convinced that our sexuality is what defines us as people. Therefore, according to our culture, even showing affection to your kids is somehow sexual. This is just plain stupid. It is not sexual to show affection to your children. If it is every good parent should be in jail. (And if it does in fact become sexual, you deserve worse than jail.) 

It is perverted to suggest that somehow taking your daughter out for dinner, pulling her chair out, opening doors for her,  and calling her beautiful and a princess is somehow sexual. To claim such doesn’t just betray the insecurities of the author, it strongly condemns modern culture with its ridiculous sexual mores. 

Purity balls….

I’ll  give her that purity balls are a little creepy and weird.  Those actually do create a weird sexual tension between fathers and daughters. Yes, you should abstain from sexual activity until you are married, but pledging your purity to your father is a little awkward and kind of creepy. 

But taking your child out one-on-one for special time together is healthy, natural, and should be normal. 

Should we take our daughters out one on on? Yes. Should we also take our sons out one on one? Yes. Should we treat them with dignity and kindness and do kind things for them? Yes. This is teaching them common courtesy and how to treat others like human beings.  It is not teaching them to lay down and accept demeaning treatment.

It has been shown that girls often marry men like their fathers. They learn how men should treat women from how their father treats them and more importantly, their mother. Girls who are abused or watch their mothers be abused often pursue men who abuse. Is this what we want our daughters to do? 
Why do modern feminists want men to continue to marry jerks? Is it because they want to validate their idea that all men are jerks and that all men are part of “the patriarchy”? 

I’m not saying it’s patriarchy, but it’s patriarchy. Actually it isn’t…

Daddy-daughter dating is not patriarchy. Patriarchy is insisting that your daughter or your wife is less than you and that she does not deserve your respect. Patriarchy says that because of her sex she does not deserve honor. As a woman, she deserves nothing but to be under you as a slave or servant. 

Patriarchy views females as less than males. It does not honor them by opening doors, calling them wonderful names, or treating them with respect and dignity. Patriarchy puts women under men’s thumbs. By taking daughters out and treating them kindly, you are teaching them to expect men to love, honor, and cherish them. You are teaching them to expect respect from men. This is anti-patriarchy. 

I suggest to these feminists that if they want to end “the patriarchy” they should call on men to start treating their daughters with kindness and honor. They should encourage them to put their daughters on a pedestal and treat them as individuals worthy of great respect. This will teach their daughters to expect their husbands and all men to respect them and treat them with dignity. 

If daughters are treated like dirt by their father they will learn to accept that treatment by all men. They will continue to support the patriarchy by giving themselves to patriarchal jerk men. Let’s instead encourage them to expect more from men. 

End the patriarchy, and while we are at it, end third and fourth-wave feminism.