Music and arts Monday February 13 2017

It’s been a really busy week for me so this is going to be a bit short. 

This week’s musical recommendation is Chumbawamba’s English Rebel Songs 1381-1984. Back before they were known for Tubthumper they put out a full album of English folk/protest songs. I realize that an anarcho-capitalist like me shouldn’t be listening to anarcho-communist folk songs but I still like the tone of most of them. The musical quality is great, even if the lyrics are a bit propagandizing. If only there were an anarcho-capitalist folk group out there that could write as well as the Socialists. On day perhaps, but for now, check this one out. 

Tom Wesselmann – Country Bouquet with Blue 1991

I don’t have an art reco this week, except to point you at Gandalf’s Gallery over on Flickr. Most of my exposure to different art styles has come from there.  It’s a whole art museum you can view from the comfort of your own home!

 

Superficiality, Narcissism, Christianity, and the Internet 

We ought to be neighbors to sinners, on and off the Internet. This requires us to put away pride and anonymity and act like non-narcissistic adults. Calling people names you would never call them to their face or mocking their appearance is not just cruel, it’s childish. Calling people heretics over non-essentials just makes you look like a Pharisee.

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I’mma write this post, but first: a selfie.

Living on a mountain for six months can teach you some things. Namely the fact that much of what folks do in “the real world” is just superficial silliness designed to make their lives seem better than they are. That sounds like the beginning of something preachy, doesn’t it? Well, I hope this doesn’t come across as such.

We grew up in Northern Virginia, just outside of the Beltway, right in the seat of the country’s money and power. This area always has something new and flashy, and since my high school days the expansion of government has only brought more wealth and change to the area.

I actually never noticed how nice people dress here until I moved to Florida. I really didn’t notice it until I came back from out west.

Probably the most noticeable place where this clothing shows up is in church. People around here seem to dress up everywhere, but church is especially primped and proper. When we walk in with our rag tag bunch of hoodlums we feel like the conspicuous ones, despite the fact that we are actually quite drab.

All of this to say I don’t understand why women (and men for that matter) spend hours of their lives every day (especially Sundays) primping and decorating themselves. Do they do this to impress God? God’s not impressed with these displays. Do they do it strictly for themselves? Maybe. I honestly think they do it to impress others and draw attention to themselves, even (and especially) at church.

We are all narcissistic at heart. Every one of us wants our ego stroked. We will go to great lengths to entice a compliment out of someone. It’s not just in our physical worlds that we seek to feed this engorged ego, social media provides an excellent platform to do this. Not only can we enlarge our own status online, we can crush others mercilessly and hide behind anonymity at the keyboard.

Why do you think I blog? Yes, I do want to spread ideas and make people think. Yeah, I want a place to fully explore and write out my thoughts and maybe solicit ideas from others. But mostly, I just want stats. I want to know people agree with me and read what I write with regularity.

I doubt I am that alone in checking my Facebook notifications every ten minutes to see what new “likes” are on my posts (not many). It is actually somewhat shameful really. Sometimes I feel like a drug addict just trying to get my fix.

I try my hardest not to tear others down to build my own social media reputation. I can’t say the same about many of the Christians I see on Facebook. Much of what passes for “help” or “advice” on the pages I am in are really just veiled statements of judgement. If you feel differently from the majority you are quickly called “unwise” or worse, a heretic. If you actually agree with some of the points made by unnaproved people you are shamed into keeping silent by the mocking heaped on them by their enemies.

There seems to be no one one attacking ideas in the narcissistic mess called social media. There is only mocking people and reducing them to memes and caricatures. All feminists are evil. All homosexuals are crazed lunatics. All BLM folks are jerks. Everything they stand for is evil. Therefore we can mock them and belittle them as people.

This is hardly a Christ-like way of handling people. Christ did not mock every single sinner He dealt with. When He did mock it was often with pointed questions, not personal attacks. This is not to say we are ever wrong for calling people a brood of vipers when necessary, but more often than not our usage of strong words is intended to boost our own image, not to improve the lives and hearts of others.

We ought to be neighbors to sinners, on and off the Internet. This requires us to put away pride and anonymity and act like non-narcissistic adults. Calling people names you would never call them to their face or mocking their appearance is not just cruel, it’s childish. Calling people heretics over non-essentials just makes you look like a Pharisee.

I may be beating a dead horse with this, but can we start debating ideas instead of superficial things like how someone looks or what “abnormal” things they may enjoy in their spare time? I dare say the Internet would be a much more productive place.

Modesty: An Unconventional Take

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Appearance can be accurate in its description, or it can be a lie. One of the most obvious and immediate aspects of our appearance is our clothing. What we wear or do not wear says a lot about us to those we meet. Clothing, makeup, and hygiene can accentuate one’s character, or they can grossly distort it.

In 1Timothy 2:9-10 Paul says,

“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”

There are innumerable blogs out there telling women what they can and cannot wear “biblically” . Nearly all of these blogs are concerned primarily with the sexual signals a woman’s clothing conveys. If she uncovers too much, or shows too much shape, or uncovers the wrong part, it is assumed she is giving notice to men about her sexual availability.

The dress-code writers often use the word “modest” to describe a woman “properly” covered up. However, “modesty” in these verses has little if anything to do with sexuality.

“Modesty” in these verses is concerned with the outward expression of the inward condition of the heart. That is a mouthful but it essentially means one can be modest wearing anything or nothing or anything in between. Despite what the Christian sub-culture in the West has decided to call “modest”, there is not a spelled out dress code in scripture. The closest we can find are explicit dress requirements given to OT priests, but those are commonly understood to be ceremonial in nature and applied to the priests, not necessarily to the lay people and most certainly not to those in the New Testament.

Christians should be willing to dress according to who we are reaching. Christians should be “all things to all people” meaning that we should dress down for the poor, dress up for the rich, and overall dress according to the culture one is preaching to. If we adopt the clothing (and manners for that matter) of the culture we are evangelizing, it projects a loving attitude towards those we are hoping to reach with the Gospel. If we choose to ignore their culture it can display to them a lack of charity and love. We should not change our character or violate our personal consciences or Scriptural commands, but we are allowed to conform to the acceptable outward appearance and customs of other cultures to reach them (Timothy and circumcision).

Modesty and decency differs according to culture, where nudity or near-nudity is the norm both are “modest”. In a culture where it would be considered improper to expose a head or a thigh, it would be immodest and indecent to do so.

Does that mean we go naked to reach the naked? Isaiah went naked to make his point. Other prophets did so as well. It would not necessarily be wrong to do so. Is it required or recommended? No. We should only expose what our conscience allows.

In a less dressed culture, one should be willing to dress down as far as they feel comfortable in their own conscience, and in a more dressed culture one should be willing to dress up as much as they need to in order to prevent offense. If the culture you are reaching insists on head coverings and long sleeves, we should have no reservations about adopting both, no matter what our personal liberty allows.

What about make-up, jewelry, and shaving for women? In the 1 Timothy passage above, Paul specifically mentions hair and jewelry and seems to imply that women should have none of it.

Right or wrong, our culture values the appearance of “put togetherness”. Many women shave and wear makeup to feel “put together”. Many women will not leave the house without doing either. Culture has convinced them that to neglect either one is at worst a sign of rebellion against the good order of society,  or at best an overt expression of slovenliness.

In our culture, when one neglects certain hygiene practices, such as shaving, it conveys a message of looseness and slobbishness. There is no doubt a double standard in this for males and females. Culture requires women to put a lot more thought into their appearance than men. I believe this has much to do with our over-sexualization of the (primarily female) body. Much of the “modesty” subculture actually increases the objectification of women by hyper-focusing on the sexual and nearly ignoring any other application of the word.

The male body is not nearly as critiqued as the female body. Men can get away with athletic wear or pajama pants where women are critiqued for it. Men can gain a beer belly and it is barely noticed. Men can also uncover more of their bodies and be socially acceptable.

Is it a lie for a woman to wear make-up or jewelry or to shave her body hair? Does it promote a false witness to others about who we really are? Again, as I said before, our outward appearance is an expression of the inward heart. If a woman feels beautiful inside I see nothing wrong with her expressing that beauty on the outside with the use of nice clothes, jewelry, or make up. The outward expression of her inward self can take many forms.

What does this say about the woman who does not do such things? It can tell us any number of things. Either she feels ugly and unkempt on the inside, or she feels that the normal cultural expressions of outward “beauty” are contrived and she can better demonstrate her inward condition through her smile or through her words or acts of kindness.

Sadly, because of feminism, many Christians would try to label her as a rebel against God. They assume she’s trying to push back against gender norms and trying to be male.

Maybe she is just a rebel against a godless culture which objectifies and over-emphasizes youth and sexuality in the female appearance.

Am I saying that all women who do such things are objectifying and over-emphasizing youth and sexuality in the female appearance? Not at all. They just value and prefer the culture’s preference for “put-togetherness” and do not want to give a false impression to others who may think by their appearance that they are internally wretched. They are presenting themselves externally to the world according to what they believe they are internally.

Many of us cover and hide our natural appearance with clothing and our scent with deodorant or perfume. Is this a lie? Or is it simply deference to culture? The culture should hate us for the Gospel, not for what we do or do not wear.

In 1 Timothy,  Paul was writing to culture filled with pagan practice. Hairstyles and jewelry worn by the temple priestesses had no place in the Christian church. We ought to be careful to make sure our church clothing honors God and does not cause others to stumble back into their pagan roots. We ought also to project an appearance of humility in church. We do not want to offend the poor by showing off our wealth, nor do we want to draw attention to ourselves at the expense of the Worship of God.

We ought to be modest in more than simply clothing or adornment, we ought to be modest in our attitudes and treatment of others. Our clothing should reflect our inward person and project a love towards others that cannot be rightly opposed. Our appearance can be accurate in its description, or it can be a lie.

Be careful not to distort reality with your appearance.

Music and Art Monday: January 30

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After The Bath (Acrylic on Paper). My very first painting, and probably my best.

Welcome to “Music and Art Monday”, the posts where I distract myself from heavy and/or dull topics and write something actually interesting. 

In these posts I hope to focus on one band or painter a week and tell you a bit about what I like about them.

This week I’ll discuss a bit of my background with music and next week with art.

Music has always been playing in the background of my life. Growing up my parents always had music on in the car or at home. There was rock (Elvis to be precise), the Statler Brothers, New Orleans jazz, soul, 80’s country (Oak Ridge Boys etc), the Monkeys, Herman’s Hermits, and other oldies. The first concert I remember attending was a country concert though I could not tell you who.

When I got my first tiny transistor radio at five or six years of age I kept it tuned to the local oldies station every time I was in my bedroom. I gained a great love for Motown and Mersey Beat bands. Pretty much any pop song from the 50’s to the early 70’s could be heard in my room at that time. 

When I wasn’t listening to my own radio I was listening to whatever my siblings had on. 80’s hair bands like Def Leppard, Metallica, and Bon Jovi, pop stuff like New Kids on The Block, and early pop rap like M. C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice were always on.  All the 90’s music phases went through our house. This was back when MTV played actual music, and along with most of the songs I have a pretty clear memory of most of the videos. 

At some point in the decade, my sister got really into hippie music, with a huge emphasis on The Beatles, Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane. 

Around the age of 12, I got really philosophical and started listening to Jewel and Bob Dylan because: poetry. I bought my first two cds around that age, “Beatles For Sale” and Jewel’s “Pieces of You”. Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumper” was the third. I played each one until the laser burned holes in them (not really, but I am sure my parents had quite enough of “You Will Save Your Soul). 

I amassed quite a collection of vinyl in my early teen years. Cheap thrift store selections meant that nothing was off limits. Stemming from my love of Jewelry and Dylan, much of what I bought at the time was folk. My friend dragged me to a John Prine concert and afterwards I had to buy every album I could find of his. 

Around the time I discovered girls I was introduced to David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Alice Cooper. I’d listen to just about anything to impress girls, those three actually stuck. 

Most of high school was spent listening to Cake, Led Zeppelin, and David Bowie ad nauseum at my friend’s house. There are innumerable singles that also have a special place in my heart from that time. 

In college I discovered free sampler CDs at the local record store and just like my earlier experience with thrift store vinyl everything from rock to pop to rap and folk were blasting through my ears for those four years. 

Ever since then, my musical tastes are all over the place. From all of these roots I have not found a genre that I did not like at least something from. Thanks to Weird Al I can even add polka to that list. Hopefully this broad interest will keep me supplied with many posts in the future. Maybe I can even get some of you to listen to the more obscure bands that only I seem to listen to.

Then I won’t feel so weird.

Please be… Part 2

So many homemaker blogs tell wives that their job is to make their husbands feel respected, loved, and like he is the master of the home. They urge wives not to make him uncomfortable or expect much out of him since his life at work is so hard and stressful. They push a wife to stroke her husband’s ego. They care more about his feelings than his soul or his performance as a husband or father. This is the stuff that bugs me.

(I am not a fan of the crassness of the original post, and the use in my first post was just to make a point,  so I will refrain from it in this post since the point has been made. For part one click here: 

https://driptorchpress.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/please-be-a-butthole-wife/

Before I get a bunch of husbands mad at me, I do not advocate anyone be a jerk to anyone. I do not advise wives to rudely nag their husbands or husbands to nitpick their wives about burning dinner or not taking care of the dishes. 

The point I was trying to make is this: submission does not equal silence for either the wife of the believer or the wife of the non-believer. 

The believers wife is primarily a tool of sanctification in her husband’s life. She is iron on iron for him. She is a sister in Christ and as such she is a loving voice of correction to her brother. She is to be a gracious lover and a patient partner. If her husband is sinning it is her task to help him see it and kill it. 

I am a finite creature. I am unable to see all the sins that play in my life, I need my wife to show me my blind spots. It would be tremendously unloving for her to let me continue in my sin. 

Yes, it will be painful for a wife to confront her husband in his sin. It might hurt his feelings. I don’t think it’s painless when the elders of the church come to someone and call them out either, but it is their duty as brothers in Christ to do so.  

A lot of articles talk about being Christ to our spouse. But these articles typically only focus on “Jesus meek and mild”. Jesus is not a one dimensional character. He knew when to be gentle and He knew when to flip a table or two. He used gentle rebukes and He called people vipers. Christ exhibited incredible wisdom and discernment for us. We should learn to be like Him. For the sake of our spouse’s soul we should learn how to properly and lovingly rebuke sin. 

The role of the non-believers wife is one of a quiet sign pointing to the Gospel. Notice I said “quiet”, not “silent”. The Gospel is not sweet unless the Law is bitter, the husband of a silent woman is not going to taste the sweetness of the Gospel unless he knows there are boundaries that he has crossed. 

If she never sets up boundaries or expectations (which is what a lot of Christian marriage sites imply) he will never know he has sinned against her. Picture this: the non-believer husband goes to work and all of his coworkers are talking about their nagging wives (yes. This does happen . Shocking,  I know. ) Will he think to himself “Wow, my wife is great. She graciously takes care of everything, there must be something to  that Jesus she follows” or will he think “wow, my wife is a pushover, I have it made. I am awesome, these guys are losers.”?  Knowing the men I do it’s typically the second. 

Now, assume she doesn’t silently pick up after him and let him get away with being a slob day in and day out. Assume she sets up boundaries and asks him graciously to help her manage the household by doing little things like putting his laundry in the hamper. He knows “the law” so to speak. 

When he violates this “law” , she graciously forgives him and picks up after him. Now, his response to his coworkers is going to be “Wow, my wife is great, she is not a nag. I fail all the time to meet her needs and do the right thing, but she graciously forgives me and never speaks to me in anger about my failures. I wonder if it has something to do with that gospel she is always talking about.”

I hate to say it but the seeker-sensitive church culture has infiltrated marriage. The seeker-sensitive church doesn’t bring up sin. It doesn’t call anyone to repentance. It never challenges a soul with the Law of God before presenting the Grace of the Gospel. The seeker-sensitive church says “God loves you and has a plan for your life” and leaves it at that. Now that may fill up cushioned chairs (seeker-sensitive churches are also buttock sensitive, no pews there) and it may fill up the church coffers, but it is not winning souls or making converts. No one repents when they feel good about themselves. 

So many homemaker blogs tell wives that their job is to make their husbands feel respected, loved, and like he is the master of the home. They urge wives not to make him uncomfortable or expect much out of him since his life at work is so hard and stressful. They push a wife to stroke her husband’s ego. They care more about his feelings than his soul or his performance as a husband or father. This is the stuff that bugs me. 

I’m not saying “be a b hole and nag your husband about every wrong thing he does.” I’m saying establish boundaries and expectations and then graciously love him when he fails. 

Wives of believers: Don’t be a silent wife, speak up when your husband sins. Approach him with respect but boldness, be discerning with your words. 

Wives of non-believers: Win your unbelieving husband with your gracious forgiveness and unconditional love. Speak the Gospel with your actions and manners. 

Don’t be a *jerk. 

Please, Be A Butthole Wife

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So close, yet so far away. And wow does that camera capture all the dirty spots…

I was going to write a second post about gender this week, but my wife sent this to me and it was just too much to not comment on: http://herviewfromhome.com/stop-being-a-butthole-wife/

While I understand her grief, and I even understand the sentiment about not being a nag, I just want to say: “Please, be a butthole wife.”

I say this as a husband who makes mistakes all the time, even ones he is completely unaware of. I say this as one very sinful man, living with an incredibly sanctifying and gracious woman. I say this as a man who often neglects to love his wife as he should: please, don’t let your husbands be big children. Be a butthole wife.

We are given spouses to sanctify us and shape us into the likeness of Christ, and we do that by being the iron to sharpen the iron of our spouse. Iron on iron. Not soft lead against cold steel. Not soft clay against a hard hand. We are to be one hard substance equal in strength and force to another.

Yes, there is grace, there are little battles and big battles. There are things we should just let slide for the sake of everyone’s sanity. But there are also times when we need to stand up and say “Hey, knock it off.”

If your husband is a slob, who after continually being asked (with politeness, not nagging) to please put his laundry in the hamper, continues to scrap it on the floor, he is not being Christ to you.

If he continuously ignores or downplays your needs in the bedroom and insists on getting sex whenever he wants, however he wants, he is not being Christ to you.

If your husband sits around after work and does nothing but drink beer and watch tv (or lock himself in his study to read theological tomes), he is not being Christ to you.

Your husband is a man, not a child, not a tender lump of flesh unable to withstand a little heat without charring. While he is not a child in age, he is still a sinner and a child of God. You are here to help him grow and become a better, more mature man. This means that he needs your reminders to love you in the ways you need love. If this means he needs to stop leaving his clothes all over the floor, by all means speak up.

Now, I’m not saying you take out a rolling pin and beat him about the head with it. I just get tired of reading books and blogs that insist that “submission” means rolling over and taking it. I get tired of reading so many blogs written for women (by women) telling them to let their husbands be lazy, narcissistic jerks, because “submission”.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 22-24 ESV)

Yes, wives are to submit. Yes, your husband is the head of the home. But he is not the center of the home. He is not the supreme king of the home. He is a delegated authority. He is given his own instructions:

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 25-33 ESV)

In Ephesians, God dedicates three (and a half) verses to telling wives to submit, yet He takes eight and a half to explain to husbands how they must treat their wives. The proportion of blogs written to wives on this subject is grossly disproportionate to the posts written to husbands.

1 Peter 3 has a bit more to the wives, instructing them again to be submissive and respectful:

1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 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. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:1-6 ESV)

The husband only gets this verse, but it is packed with depth:

7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

Your husband is called to love you as he loves himself, he’s called to love you as Christ loves the church, he’s called to live in an understanding way with you and honor you. If he does not follow these commands he is sinning.

Laundry is a small thing, dishes left out are a small thing, occasional acts of irresponsibility or forgetfulness are normal and should be given grace. But if a husband is asked multiple times to please be an adult and stop making a mess, I would argue these become big things. If a man cannot respect his wife in these little things, what big things is he missing?

Husbands, it is a small thing, you can do this, please, put your dirty underwear in the hamper. Put your dishes in the sink or wherever your wife asks. Better yet, learn how to do laundry and dishes. Honor and love and cherish your wife by not creating more work for her. Die to yourself and do hard things like putting the toilet seat down. Turn off the TV or put down the book and have a beer with your wife. Talk to her, listen to her, seek to understand every minute detail of her. Know her mind and heart intimately so that you can encourage and sanctify her with the Word and with your words and actions.

Wives, please, be butthole wives. Remind your husband with love and grace that he needs to love you in these small ways. Don’t let him get away with the sin of not loving you as Christ loves the church. Do your duty and be the iron of God in his life. Win him with your conduct, quiet, gentle, respectful, but still reminding him that he is under authority as well. Hide the remote occasionally. Hang a basketball net over the laundry basket (hey it worked for my mom and me). Take his hand during love making and help him explore you intimately. Remind him to do the little things as politely and sweetly as possible and let him be responsible for his ungracious eye-rolling.

Wives: don’t settle for a crap husband, be a butthole wife.

For part 2: https://driptorchpress.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/please-be-part-2/