Bullet Points for a Friday Lunch

  • That wearing masks has become a political issue is absolutely infuriating. Any time medicine drifts into politics, it’s a shitshow. And more and more stuff is being politicised recently. You kind of have to wonder who has a vested interest in driving stakes between people.
  • Think about the way the Bible talks about principalities and powers. Whether you think they’re spiritual beings or a way of talking about emergent phenomena, it’s hard to look at the church and not see these powers at work. Especially in the merging of country, party, and faith. Critically, the call is coming from inside the house. Christian leaders are complicit here. They’re trading in currency of power; and power always corrupts. The evangelical wing of Christendom especially is in trouble these days; it’s hard to look at their enthusiastic embrace of a crooked and depraved wannabe despot and think otherwise.
  • The phone call to talk about the email could have just been an email.
  • It’s interesting that the “spirit of fear” response to mask wearing follows the same template as Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. If you are a Christian, don’t wear a mask, “for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. The response is, of course “Do not put the Lord your God to the test”.
  • The spirit of fear quote is also wildly decontextualised and repurposed; you could literally say that about anything! Don’t look both ways before crossing the street, for God has not given us a spirit of fear! Don’t wear a seatbelt, for God has not given us a spirit of fear! It’s absolute nonsense. You don’t get to just pick some words out the Bible and use them however you like.
  • Prosperity gospel is a sort of magical thinking. It links cause and effect where cause and effect either don’t exist, or where they’re opaque. It’s an easy view to adopt. Everything suddenly has a reason (though, unfortunately, the reason is you, which kind of sucks). But it’s not just in Christian circles; I’ve seen the same sort of thinking around stuff like epigenetics. There’s a powerful thing in the human brain that wants to draw a line from point [a] to point [b]. And it’s easy to make the mistake that if something explains something it must explain everything.
  • Overly causal thinking is also another way to generate guilt. If I don’t have enough faith / eat the right food / do the right whatever, it’s my fault that me and my family suffer in some way. This is too much burden to bear, especially unnecessarily.
  • It’s fun to break things down by their function instead of by their theoretical whatever. For instance, functionally, the preordained plan of God, decided before the foundation of the world, is functionally the same as random action. How could you tell the difference? Or, being anti-abortion is functionally about locking you into voting for a particular political party. Handy way to start explaining why some stuff is the way it is.
  • You need to allow for luck. Or providence (again, functionally identical), or whatever you want to call it. But critically, you don’t get to decide that other folks are lucky and you earned it. You’re lucky too. For instance, a lot of people want to say that poor folk are poor for a reason. Conveniently, the flip side of that is that you’re not poor for a reason. However true that may be (not very, imho), it’s immensely self-serving.
  • I know a lot of folks who went to school for like $10, bought a house with a bag full of old nickels, and worked in a stable career with a pension for 40+ years acting like they somehow earned 100% of that. What? Nah, you lucky. Lots of folks work hard and get nowhere. You worked hard (you claim!) and got somewhere. What’s the difference? Are you magic? Blessed? A better kind of person? Or maybe, just maybe, you’re lucky.
  • Also if you earned it, you don’t have to be grateful, you don’t have to give back, you don’t have to see yourself embedded in the social graph. You earned yours. Convenient!
  • This is a really easy way to think if you live in a suburb.
  • Don’t apply the general to the specific. Average IQ is 100, individual IQ varies. Stop thinking about “the gays”. Think about your relative or your neighbour. Stop making people feel bad that they didn’t recover from their surgery in the average time or whatever. People are not the conceptual group they’re in.
  • At the same time, stop expecting the average. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and you’ll almost certainly be different.
  • Empathy is a powerful thing. It’s hard to nurture. It’s becoming a dirty word in some circles, coincidentally the same circles that will try and strip you of it so they can sell you their politics of the antichrist.

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