Thursday, October 22, 2015

The End of A Philosophical Outhouse

I started this blog in 2010 as a way to inform family and friends all over the world about the nature of moral truths, and the horror that was law school. 

Now, law school is over.  And there are no moral truths.  That is a lie.  (and for the rhyme) Moral truths never die (discuss).

But this blog does. 

The time has, come, for me to bid a sweet farewell to what was quite literally, when the hours are  all put together, at least two days of my life (maybe less).

Why (no one will ask)?  Well, the honest truth is that writers really shouldn't blog.  It's a waste of creative energy, I've discovered.  Unless your creative endeavor is to blog.  In which case, full sails ahead.  Alas, that is not my endeavor.  And so, while I've enjoyed my on and off again musings, I do now give a fond 'so long' to this non-existent space that claims residence somewhere in the internet void.

In the words of Bilbo Baggins, "I am leaving NOW.  GOODBYE!"

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Note on the Nature of Feminism


I subscribe to feminism.   

I would go so far as to call myself a feminist.  Perhaps even a devout feminist.  My mother would probably call herself a feminist as well – and well she should, as she was among the pioneering women to engage in graduate level education in the sciences, specifically the emerging field of public health, in the 1970’s and remains active in that profession today, saving the world, one pandemic scare at a time.   

But radical feminism, that’s another cup of tea entirely.   

It hits it's stride with the Freudian philosopher Luce Irigaray, who holds to the position that men have so oppressed women for so many years, enforcing their phallic singular logic (her thoughts), that women cannot communicate with them, as our brand of logic is rather of the multiple variety (think that women can have multiple orgasms, multiple erogenous zones – Sorry, mum, but we have to just say these things – or, as I like to think of it, a gross generalization of the category of ‘womenness’ often involves a discussion revolving around women as the more relational of the sexes) – thus we cannot effectively communicate with men.   

If we think we are communicating with men, according to my friend (and here I am playing it fast and loose with the word friend) Luce (who I have never met, but who I think would be a rather interesting character to choose for that one game ‘who would you sit down and have a cup of coffee with, dead or alive’… and as a side note, to the side note, it’s hard to say whether she is dead or alive – she’s very, very, very old.  It’s a kind of Schrodinger’s Cat paradox.)  we are gravely mistaken.  I find this to be a rather patronizing kind of b.s. (Sorry, mum – but let’s be honest, you completely agree with me (if there were any time to use the wink-face emoticon, now would be the time).  

 What kind of woman person tells another kind of woman person that they cannot communicate – she goes so far as to say we cannot understand – men?  What kind of woman person tells another kind of woman person that the logic they have known and loved their whole life, and, dare I say it, put to good use, is actually an illusion (and that all heterosexual sex is rape, and that all woman must become lesbians and live on their own separate island together until we are finally able to form our own logic – at which point we will not be able to rejoin the menfolk, because we will then be completely bared from communication, each to his own – and then I suppose we’ll have somehow managed to create a gigantic sperm bank, where we will genetically alter each sperm to only have the xx, save for one every hundred years where we will then get more sperm, thus effectively ending our communication with men… (full disclosure, at the end there I may have taken liberties with Luce’s position, but only from the ‘gigantic sperm bank’ part)?  What kind of woman person, I ask you?  (And what about the women who can’t have multiple orgasms, and only have one strong erogenous zone?  Have you thought of them Luce?  No, I didn’t think so.)  And this is what I call radical feminism…  

 End of radical feminism rant.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

More Moral Musings...

Outside I hear the sound of children's laughter, chimes blowing in the wind, and I have just finished eating a stick of chocolate and almond covered coconut ice cream.  I believe that is what they mean by, 'the good life.'

The start of this essay sounds an awful lot like a blog post on some 'Mom' blog site.  You know, the ones where they talk about how lovely it is to have children, even though they suck the life right out of you, its totally worth it, and then go on to grab a few minutes solitude every few weeks to blog when the snot-covered little ones are finally, all at once, asleep together, and in that solitude they blog and eat coconut ice cream that they made themselves by milking the coconut cow themselves.  No judgment here.  Milking a coconut is impressive.  And machetes are dangerous.  (These women are hardcore.)

Yes, my current lunch hours sounds all nice and lovely, but really this is after watering the billions of plants I have, vacuuming everything in my home to get rid of dust, in the middle of doing laundry, and following several other chores on my list for today that are now complete.  When I finally decided that I needed to stop and eat some lunch, I thought, 'what can I have for lunch?... Ah, yes.  Ice cream.'  Now, done with all chores except that laundry which is currently taking tumble after tumble in the spinning vortex that leads to the land of Mysterious Lost Socks...

But enough about my perfect day (yes, I am one of those strange people who both enjoys chore day, and is able to get them all done in less than two hours time - shout out to minimalism and simple living).  I am here today to discuss with you (and by you I mean my dear mum, if she has yet again stooped to reading my slightly profane - though rarely- and delightful reminiscences on, mainly, things I feel guilty about.  Hi mum) the nature of morality.  What is it?  How do we look for it?  Where do we find it?  How does it work?

All very good questions.  To the first, hmmm, interesting.  What is the nature of morality?  I really can barely speculate (a sentence that if I have every said it, I have never meant it).  I think it is something that you can touch... wait for it... with your mind.  Like a thought that just exists right outside the place where we think our grand thoughts - thoughts about dragons, and castles, and tiny little things that resemble bigger things.  Its that place that says, "Aha!" right after we see what is, but while we are trying to figure out what it is we... waffle?  Waver?  Become increasingly confused.  No particularly helpful.  Is it what we can judge others for?  Probably not.  Because we're not supposed to do that.  That's bad. 

Ah, but how is it bad? 

Again, another very good question. 

This brings me to the second question: how do we look for the nature of morality?  Well, my first guess, and the product of years of academic study obviously necessary to answer this question is: books.  But then, books say many things.  And many of them are contradictory.  Even within the same genre, origin, theory, species, they are quite different.  Kant says we ought to do things from an objective sense of duty.  So is by reading Kant how we find the nature of morality?  Well, if it is, that sucks for most people.  Translated German is, how do I put this... in the words of Miranda Hart's first episode of her amazing sitcom: a hellish journey.  For those who appreciate English-speaking people who think they can do things better than Kant, neo-kantianism - the Kant for our times - says that we do things from a rather subjective (though there may be an objective component here, but then the books do differ) sense of duty.  I find this to be greatly unhelpful.  And thus, as the authority figure of this paragraph, we change directions.  Perhaps how we find the nature of morality is not to look at books at all.  Perhaps we ought to observe.  Observe the world around us.  Observe the purest of the pure.  Observe babies?  Well... to be honest, that seems rather dull (unless it's your kid... apparently...).  They do nothing but eat, breathe, and sneeze... adorably.  And I can't for the life of my sneeze adorably, despite efforts.  Thus, that can't be how we find it.  A level up then?  What about observing children?  Ah, yes.  Children.  Pure and innocent.  The little ones who throw mud in each others eyes for fun, scream to the point where only dogs can hear them, and whose first word learned when asked to do something for the benefit of others is so clearly, strongly, and perfectly formed: 'No!'  That can't be right.  So... no.  Probably not children... 

Maybe, then, its not a question of the 'how' of it at all.  Rather, perhaps, we simply move on to 'where.'  Where, I ask?  After a graduate degree in ethics, and a year teaching ethics to college students, this question I believe I can answer with some certainty.  My conclusion is that the nature of morality can be found somewhere just below the navel.

And lastly, we ask the question: how does the nature of morality work?  Well, thinking through this quite deeply and clearly in the brief moments I sit to key this out, it seems to be a matter, once again, of much debate.  Many people discuss this.  And to be honest, I think this is stupid.  The answer is simple.  What causes us to do the right thing?  What makes us feel bad about the wrong thing?...  The Catholic Church once again delivers.  Guilt!  Obviously.  Pure and simple.  Guilt.  It comes from that feeling we get just below the navel.  It forces us to choose between right and wrong.  We ignore it to our peril.  Our peril, I tell you!

Just kidding.  But not about the 'just below the navel' bit.  That's definitely where the nature of morality is found.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Thought of Children...

There are days when the thought of having a child sends terrifying coils into my bowels.  Metaphorically.  I know, I know what you're thinking; you're thinking I'm pregnant.  Well, sorry to disappoint (mum).  I'm not pregnant.  I'm not even trying to get pregnant (I should say that my husband and I are not trying to get pregnant - I am aware that it takes two... usually). 

But the very thought of having a child... Someone so massively, incredibly, entirely dependent on you for their very being.  Literally.  (And I mean literally in the traditional sense of the word, that is to say, meaning: literally; as opposed to its current meaning which means both literally and figuratively - you'll see in a second the nature of the 'literally' I am using.  I am nothing if not an nature-revealer (and that, of course, is not a word at all)).  Children die from lack of touch.  Skin on skin contact.  That's the new 'hot phrase' for the newborn.  It is frightening - the responsibility of it all.

And what is our moral responsibility toward our children?  Or to our not yet conceived babies?  Do we have a duty not to smoke?  Not to drink too much?  Not to put our bodies through toxic chemical products so that we have the healthiest eggs, if, say, we are planning to have a child eventually?  Do we start being bad parents before our kids are even born?  Probably.  Luckily, grace, though, right?  (We have to forgive ourselves for drinking out of plastic cups (see mum, I'm not so harsh - forgive, not punish, for plastic cup use).  I used to have this fear that I would bring my unborn, unconvinced (although at the point of bringing it, it will have been both born and conceived...) child over to my parent's place, and my mother would teach the kid to not drink out of plastic cups.  And then my kids would come home, and daddy would be drinking out of a plastic cup, and then the kid would knock the cup out of his hands.  Milk would spill everywhere.  It would be... annoying.  And now, I have a moral dilemma with using plastic.  Who would have thought it?  Between my mum and me, I'm the nutter). 

If there's a moral duty to right our bodies for parenthood, perhaps we also have a duty to right our mental framework - work on the attitude that is stress-dependent, ban that temper that escalates to punching walls, cease the frustration with the man in front of you who is SLOW AT EVERYTHING (apologies, husband.  You're great), etc...  And we should probably emulate the circumstances of having a child so that we know what we are getting into (don't laugh at the non-parent, parents... let me practice.  I know deep down all the plans will go to #$%& later; deep, deep, un-realizingly deep down).  There will be little sleep... good to practice managing a temper now on little sleep.  Lovely evenings of wine and vodkas will be out of the question - best to quit that now before damaging the liver (after all, what if your kid grows up to need a liver transplant - you'll want yours to be alive and ready for severing...).  And of course sex is off the table - won't be having that when you're a parent... Although... I suppose that last one... well, its just the practicality of it... Sort of necessary in the end, isn't it? 

All that to say, thinking of having a kid makes my mind turn in circles I didn't even know were there.  I'm finding that its better to keep my mind away from the thought and focus on the things that really matter.  You know, drinking, sleeping, and... hmmm....

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Perks of the Bitterless...

"She wasn't bitter.  She was sad, though.  But it was a hopeful kind of sad.  The kind of sad that just takes time."
                                                                              - Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Sometimes I feel like...  someone is sitting on my chest.  Like I can't breathe.  Like the weight of the world is slowly collapsing right on my lungs.  It hurts.

I guess some people call that a panic attack.

But it doesn't feel panicky. 

It comes in many different forms; many different appearances  for the weight to take.  The unfortunate confidence of a friend, the feeling of being despised by those who... are jealous?, tasks to finish that aren't, dug up memories - unfriendly, stifling, a friendship collapsing, a family collapsing... and those memories keep tugging... It's all weight.  It weighs a lot, pressing down.

All of these are stress, and hard, and weighty.  

There are some that could leave me bitter... harms done, pain purposefully designed to instill suffering.

But I guess that's not how I think about them.  

They feel sad.  

The kind of sad that just takes time.

Time spent with good friends, with helping, with warm family...  Time spent with some exclusivity.  The great OKAY of just saying 'no.'  The joy of living into life without a bitter chip.  That is so much better.

Random Thought of the Day:  
 “When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time.  Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”
                                                                                                                                  – G.K. Chesterton   

Monday, September 22, 2014

On Gratitude...

Ah, Autumn.  The time of year when shaving one's legs becomes obsolete, pumpkin everything is a delight once more, and the world watches with political fervor as countries, factions, cells try and tear each other down.  (I seem to have discovered a phenomenon where by the vast majority of violence in the Northern Hemisphere begins sometime in late Spring, early Summer.  Something about those months must scream: Revolution!)

This Fall I plan to dedicate myself towards making a change.  And I announce it here, where my mum will know (if she is reading it again, then... uh... hi mum) that I have internetedly pledged myself toward virtue - a pledge that we all know is definitively binding.  One cannot change one's course after one has decided to be held virtually accountable (read that as you will).

But I am serious.

My life drastically needs a change.

It's not the simplicity - that I absolutely love.

It's not a health habit - I eat and run very well, thank you very much.

There are no toxic substances in my home, there is no waste that I contribute (save for the occasionally band-aid.  Damn the safety razor.  (I say, "damn the safety razor," but I do have to ask myself: do I want a poor, slightly innocent razor to burn eternally in the fiery pits of Hell?  Is that really fair?  Well, the little bugger has done some significant damage, including peeling my skin like my leg was a carrot.  I suppose, in the name of my new change, I will extend some mercy on the safety razor and express that I am not literally trying to damn it.))  We have one car, not often used.  A life full of friends and family who care for my (our) well-being.  The food I eat tastes amazing and is good for me.  I (we) am (are) financially stable.  God is good.  And it is the Autumn: my all-time favorite season.  (Full disclosure: I do say that about every season...)

But do I remember these things that make up my incredibly great life?

No.

Do I think to be grateful for them regularly?

Hardly.

Is my life constantly an attempt to make things 'better,' more acclaimed?

Regularly.

Gratitude.

Gratitude is something I seem to be missing.

Gratitude seems to be the key to an attitude (my attitude) that needs changing.

So often I find myself becoming restless in a need to make things better - to get rid of one more thing in my quest for simplicity, to make just one more healthy eating change, to add just one more yoga move to my exercise routine, to wake up just a little earlier to get the benefit of solitude.  The thing is (and here come the excuses...) I love change.  I do!  I love the feel of a new routine, a new habit - the idea that I can take on a challenge and succeed. 

But, man, to keep everything changing - to refuse to relish in the gifts I have right in front of me - that is absolutely no recipe for consistency, for real value, for contentment (in a good way), for sustainability.

(And, really, its just absurd to try and change actually good and healthy things.)

Eventually my ever-changing perceptions can boil down to a single source: ingratitude.

Change, in so many ways, is good.  Going after new things in faith is good.  But an inability to be grateful for the things in front of me: not good.  To be grateful each and everyday, appreciating good things that have always been there, and recognizing them for the new gifts they provide each day: very good, indeed.

Learning is good, adapting to new circumstances is good.  I want to never hold on to things I know to be bad, evil, a detriment.  I want only to hold onto the things that are life-giving and good.  And it seems to me that one of the most life-giving things of all - the change I desperately need to make - is the practice of gratitude.

So, for a start: thank you Emerson for inspiring me, Winnie-the-Pooh for teaching me, and God for blessing me all the time.  (Oh, and mum, if you are reading this, for... you know... life... liberty... the pursuit of toxic free-living... good hair... olive skin... etc.)

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”- Emerson

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever." 

Random Thought of the Day:  "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."  I take this as a great encouragement to continue my efforts in making my own toothpaste and deodorant...  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

And now for something completely different...

Its strange how I often sit here at my desk wondering if I am achieving my purpose in life, or whether this simple life that I have decided to live into is the best thing.  I live peacefully, for the most part, and yet sometimes I find myself longing for more... oomph?  pizazz?  I like my quiet times alone, researching or writing a paper, working on a new book, prepping a lecture.  And yet, I've found that I need to do more in a day - more hard physical labor - to get a good night's sleep (it seems I sleep best only when training for a marathon... that's desk work for you).  Maybe I need to get up earlier...

But I digress...

What strikes me as strange is the fact that while I sit here contemplating life, discerning life's importance, and even bemoaning my peaceful state, there are people being slaughtered all over the world in droves.  Specifically today, my focus found its way to this article: "Who Will Stand Up for the Christians" by Ronald S. Lauder in the New York Times.  There are Christian children whose heads are being slid onto pikes as I write.  Christian families and communities who are now dead, wiped out in droves in Northern Africa and the Middle East.

And it seems that very few people care. 

For either good or ill, what I find myself wondering is this: Are these people being killed because they are believers in Christ?  Are these killings the result of centuries-old conflicts that stem from cultural, social, or political differences?  Are they being killed because Christianity is supposedly the 'faith' of the West - and because the West acts so poorly to those all over the globe and portrays a bad image, they kill those who seemingly emulate Western Ideals by proclaiming Christianity? 

The answers to my thoughts determine my response.  In any of these situations, I am obliged to pray.  And I do so mostly willingly - although a cultural, social, or political feud is often difficult for me to align my sympathies due to the likelihood that the victim has at one time been the perpetrator, and switched back again with virtual timelessness for centuries.  (That is what they call 'full disclosure,' though I'll pray all the same.)

All three of these questions can be answered affirmatively in the case of Iraq and Syria, and two of the three in Africa.  But the affirmative answer that really matters to me is the third.  That I am part of a culture that has and does act in such a way as to inspire such violence against the people group with whom I most strongly identify, brings me to my knees.

Because, if this is the case - and there is little reason to doubt that it is - my actions matter.

My lifestyle, my words, my deeds, my attitude, need to show more strongly than ever before that I do not identify with the 'Western Ideals' of illegitimate war, violence, consumerism, materialistic greed, ridiculous politics, oppression, manipulation of justice, hegemonic superiority, or the abandonment of the values of decency and charity.

The perpetrators of these killings need to see Christians, particularly in the West, who are kind and loving, helpful and encouraging, and are NOT given to relishing privilege, lavishing themselves in luxuries, acting out of greed or selfish ambition, or desiring and/or ignoring the plights of those who are suffering.

What they see instead are a people group (the West) who claims to hold to Christian values, and yet lives in the lap of inconsistency.  It's strange.  Anyone who knows the mandates Christians are held to, ought to see that the West fits a very inconsistent picture with Christianity.  The definitive mandates of Christianity that cannot be ignored or argued around include separating from the culture of the world, living in a way that promotes generosity, kindness, love, peace, forgiveness, mercy - and in a way that abandons hypocrisy. 

It is my job, then, to look at my life and abandon the inconsistencies, both as a mandate and because such inconsistencies are hurting - killing - my brothers and sisters.  At all times, especially in the face of the lives of others, my life must act in accordance with biblical mandates.  Because when I don't, there is blood on my hands.

If people are dying because of the lavish and hypocritical lifestyles of those who live in what is portrayed Globally as the 'Christian West,' then when I participate in the hypocrisy, I have blood on my hands.

Simplicity and honesty.  These are consistent values.  With those, maybe Christianity can differ from the West.  With those, maybe less people will suffer at the hands of those who oppose the political, social, and cultural dynamics of Western powers.  Maybe my living a consistent life will make my hands less bloody.  Maybe I will be able to pray and act more purely.  And maybe, through a simple and honest life, I can love those who suffer more strongly - and that is the strongest motivation of all, because isn't love what can cure these horrible evils?  Pure and unselfish love?

Then again, the more simple, the more honest, the more loving a person is, the more the world tends to hate them... But the peace that comes from living consistently, rightly, with pure intention and love?  That... that seems worth it.

Random Thought of the Day:  I read about virtual therapists today... people tell all their problems to a robot... I'm concerned...