Bad Arguments

When I was younger, I attended a Reformed church which had some very strong ideas about what we should and should not do on a Sunday. They called Sunday the sabbath, treated it like the sabbath, and had a whole series of dos and don’ts. I got caught up in a lot of these arguments (they were, and still are, interesting to me), like “is it acceptable to purchase something from a vending machine on a Sunday/the sabbath, since no-one’s actually doing any labour there?”

The answer was generally probably not; you don’t want to get too close to the line.

These skirmishes around what is and is not acceptable on the sabbath are a bit of pharisaical fun, but they tended to obscure the real question: Why are we treating Sunday like the Sabbath?

After all, sabbath is pretty clearly supposed to be Saturday, and Sunday isn’t Saturday, so what gives?

Now, I’m not particularly interested in litigating that stuff again (I’m sure I’ve written almost this exact post, up to this point, before), even if I do find it interesting in a sort of abstract, academic, looking-at-the-giraffes-at-the-zoo sort of way. And my current answer, that the Christian tradition decided sabbath rules no longer apply at some point and that the Christian tradition gets to change those sorts of things, isn’t going to be satisfying to certain sola scriptura types. But then no answer will be, because you can’t just sola the scriptura harder to find justification for traditions that simply don’t appear in its pages.

I very distinctly remember one of the answers: “Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath”.

To be clear, this is a terrible answer, one that anyone with any theological education whatsoever should be embarrassed to give. It’s uniquely unconvincing because it just doesn’t connect any dots. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath therefore we observe the Sabbath on a Sunday is, plainly, nonsense. Look at the amount of work “therefore” is doing in that sentence!

This is a Bad Argument. You can try to make it a Good Argument but you’ll have to make it a Different Argument to do that.

So why would anyone use it? Well… I can think of a few reasons.

  • They’re not very bright
  • They’ve never had to think about this before and they chose the first thing that came to mind
  • They find that argument convincing, so they think that you should too
  • They meant to make a different argument, or thought they were answering a different question
  • I’m remembering the situation wrong and they actually did make a different argument

I think the most charitable interpretation, to all sides, is that they found this argument convincing. Keeping in mind that I’ve had many versions of this logic thrown at me over the years (Do not be conformed to this world… therefore… you shouldn’t wear pants with flames on them), each version seemingly convincing to whoever said it.

And why not? Imagine a world where you’re generally non-evangelistic, non-ecumenical, where even your seminaries are hermetically sealed off from the broader Christian world: who’s going to tell you that your arguments suck? Other than, I guess, some annoying, rebellious teenager?

Anyways, the larger point is this: a lot of arguments have rhetorical utility outside being good arguments. We might use them to convince ourselves and folks who agree with us of something. These bad arguments might have the rhetorical function of a firewall, that is to say, not to convince you that the argument is a good argument for proposition x, but that arguments simply exist in support of proposition x. Which might just be enough. Not to know that you have good arguments, but that you know that there are arguments.

That is to say, a flimsy justification is better than no justification at all. I know, for me, that I use flimsy justifications all the time. How often have you decided to do something you knew was harmful using the absolute barest of pretexts to justify your actions?

That’s a uniquely human experience, I think.


A brief footnote: Trying to parse out the rhetorical goals of an argument isn’t taking the argument seriously. I get that response. But I think in cases where an argument is prima facie absurd, it’s the only way to give a little grace to the person making it. Otherwise you really do have to consider whether person you’re talking to is, after all, an idiot.


Another one, sorry, I guess we’re going to keep doing this: Let’s say that the church I was attending at the time had decided to ditch the whole “everything we do must 100% be justified from the very word of God” and gone with a more “this is how we’ve decided to do things in our tradition, based on our extrapolation of these principles that we feel best interpolates God’s intentions”. Would this have been much better for me as that annoying, rebellious teenager? I suspect, based on what I remember myself being like in those days, probably not. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a better approach, or at least one that fits the actual data better. At the very least it’s a more honest approach; if you’re going to have traditions, don’t pretend like you don’t.

Complications

Just a quick note.

One of Fundamentalist Christianity’s strengths is that is appears simple. It is, of course, not simple (nothing is simple). But it claims to be, and can appear to be.

Take the doctrine of inerrancy. It’s a very easy thing to say. The fact that it’s incredibly difficult to follow, or in other words, it’s difficult to reconcile the available biblical data with this notion, is entirely beside the point. It’s simple, it’s uncomplicated, and if you’re choosing doctrines with Occam’s razor (and you absolutely should not be) it might seem obvious.

Once you understand, though, that the inerrantist position developed in opposition to scientific propositions like evolution, you can start to see one of the ways it can be attractive, and that’s as a bulwark against complexity.

It’s obviously possible to reconcile science and the Bible: even the Catholic church has managed to do it. So why would you not do that?

The inerrantist pushes back against the scientific proposition of evolution because it is data that complicates their dogma. They go so far as to form an entire pseudoscientific community around attempting to provide inerrantist alternative solutions to scientific challenges to their dogma. The fact that these explanations are (from the outside at least) ludicrous, isn’t the least bit worrying to them, because all they need to do is assert that there are alternative solutions, not prove that these solutions are actually better in terms of actual science. They’re already better because they support the inerrantist approach.

The whole point of developing all this intellectual scaffolding is to support the inerrantist interpretive framework. To keep things simple. But, well, actually, it’s not so simple after all.

Why bother? Why do all this work when you can simply… not do it? Yes, switching dogmas is tough, but people do it all the time. The reality is, this is the big one that fundamentalism simply can’t move on from without becoming non-fundamentalist. The inerrantist approach (or something like it) undergirds the entire Reformation project, which switcherooed the Big Question of Christianity from “is your belief in God sincere” to “are your propositions true”.

And you simply can’t tell if your propositions are in capital-t True in the modernist sense unless you’re basing them off something that is also capital-t True. Ergo inerrancy. This is the fundamental in fundamentalism. The rest is icing.

Of course the fact that Christianity thrived for a good 1500 years without needing these sort of propositional, capital-t Truth claims is probably a good indication that when we’ve finally come back round to Jesus’s refinement of the law and prophets (love God, love others), we’ll probably be just fine.

On Ecumenicism

I listened to a podcast this weekend talking about the demands on apologetics past and future. The gist being that the apologetic project has been largely concerned with rational epistemology for a very long time, echoing the modernist milieu it was operating within. The spirits of the age, if you will.

That is to say, apologetics (think, The Case For Christ) wanted to prove that yes, this stuff actually happened, so you have a sound reason to believe that it did, and (after connecting a few dots) therefore Christian belief is warranted.

But the winds have changed. Suddenly the primary apologetic question is no longer “Is the Christian faith true?“, but “Is the Christian faith good?“.

It’s a wholly different question. And answering it with the apologetics of yesterday entirely misses the point.

Now, that’s a can of worms I’m not qualified to talk about. But it did send the ole brain a-wandering.

Because the winds haven’t just changed for apologetics. They’ve changed for doctrine too.

Right now, especially in the west, there’s a doctrinal realignment afoot. If we break down Christian belief into tranches of belief, there’s bunch of stuff we consider core to Orthodoxy (and the reason why Mormons, for instance, are broadly considered a different religion, not just a Christian sect among others), and then there’s some secondary stuff, and some tertiary stuff, and then stuff beyond even that, where we can all agree that no one should really be making a fuss about it.

Yet this isn’t what laypeople are concerned about at all.

We can set primary, core doctrines aside and assume all Christian churches agree on that stuff for the sake of brevity. It’s the secondary and tertiary stuff where things get interesting.

I see people moving between churches with pretty different secondary beliefs (adult vs infant baptist, and so forth) without much problem. A lot of this has happened in my extended family as the exit the Dutch Reformed tradition for Baptist Reformedish traditions. My feeling is that if you will move easily between two different church traditions without much issue, you probably consider at least those individual church as having some sort of broadly ecumenical overlap.

The question becomes… okay. If you would consider moving between churches that agree on primary doctrine but disagree pretty radically on these secondary doctrines, what are you concerned about? It can’t just be the primary stuff, because there’s certainly a bunch of other churches that you wouldn’t consider moving to, even though they agree on the primaries, right?

Again, the times have changed. People used to kill eachother over these secondary doctrines. Catholics, Reformers, Baptists… entire wars have been waged with these doctrines as at least their raison d’ĂȘtre. And yet here we are, 500 year later, with folks just deciding to up and become Baptists. What gives?

I think the answer is that the church is no longer arranged, at least in the layperson’s mind, along these traditional doctrinal lines. The stuff that really matters is Culture War stuff. Tertiary and beyond. Anything that you can put the word “rights” behind.

I think this reorganization is producing a broad ecumenicism across radically differing Christian traditions, based on the perception of the conservative church as a shrinking, oppressed minority (whether or not that is the case). So you see weird things that just wouldn’t have happened 50 or 100 years ago. Conservative Catholics and conservative Protestants feel more kinship with eachother than, say, mainline Baptists vs Southern Baptists. And, I might add, this isn’t just a conservative thing. Liberals and progressives do it too.

There’s a big push for this outside the church as well. Conservative news outlets have been trying to advance the idea that Russia is a western ally, at least since Trump. And how do we know they’re an ally? Because they agree on culture war issues. Don’t mind Russia’s slide into dictatorship and oligarchy. They hate The Gays, and that’s all we need to know.

It makes me wonder how long it’s going to be before conservative Christians find less to agree on with their liberal fellow Christian than with outsider groups like the Taliban. After all, on culture war issues, the Taliban gets pretty solid marks.

That might always be a bridge too far. But still…

On Deconstruction

Upfront: I don’t like the word “deconstruction”. Unless you’re an academic, this isn’t a familiar term, so it’s easy for bad-faith actors to try to scare you. It’s a foreign word. So I’m not going to use it.

I’d rather say Reformation. Or perhaps Exodus. These are familiar concepts in Protestant thinking, and handy metaphors for what’s happening here. I’ll try to explain why:

Once you open your eyes to the spirits of the age that evangelicalism is in thrall to, you can’t unsee it. And to be very clear and not to mince words, evangelicalism in general and American evangelical in particular is in thrall to demonic powers. To antichrists. All in service of blunting the church’s witness, providing a form of godliness that denies the gospel’s liberative power. You find the church more concerned with money and power and empire and this ism and that ism and you ask… is this right? Is this good? Is this true?

Again, when you see what evil the church will not simply tolerate but celebrate in pursuit of its goals, you can’t unsee it. So you have some choices to make.

You can live with that friction for the rest of your life. You can even try to transform the church from the inside out.

Or you can abandon faith altogether. A lot of folks are going this direction.

Or you can take your faith, nail your 95 theses to the door, and attempt to strip it down, like a dog with fleas. You can confront Pharaoh and empire. You can confront the Pope and the Vatican.

This is surgery. An attempt to strip away cancer so the body can survive.

And it’s how all Reformations start. The Luthers and Zwinglis and Calvins of this world aren’t some federated force until the histories are written. (And it’s fascinating that the Reformation arose after the printing press, while our current moment is after the internet; maybe a co-incidence, but an interesting thought.)

The evangelical church with its commitment to following the political and ideological ways of the world and its spirit of fear might never go away, much like the Roman church hasn’t gone away.

But we might be able to make something different and new. We might be able to find some kind of promised land as we try to escape our individual Egypts.

As ever: ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda.

(And let all the theobros say: “Not like that.”)

On Gradients (via On Language)

Language changes. This is a fact, and not a difficult one to verify. Try reading some Shakespeare. (I’m going to elide the difference between spoken and written language here. I am not a professional linguist. If you are, feel free to be properly horrified.)

It changes, often slowly, but sometimes quickly. It changes in its syntax, its grammar, its pronunciation, its spelling. And we can trace at least some of that by examining the writings of whatever period we’re looking at.

All of this to say that language is produced by and embedded in societies. It’s “in here”. It’s “out there”. You can try to pretend there’s some perfect language standard written on tablets in the sky or whatever, and try to command the tide of language change to stop by gesturing in the direction of that perfect standard.

You can try. But it won’t work. And you’ll be super-annoying while you’re at it.

Language is what we say it is. You can still have your pet peeves (goodness knows I’ve got lots), but your peeves aren’t going to make a lick of difference.

I’ve said all this and more before. I won’t belabour the point.

One problem that we have with this, is that language changes slowly. At least relative to human lifespans. So you may notice some change during your lifetime, but probably not a whole lot. You’re not going to have a whole lot of trouble broadly understanding your grandchildren, should you have any.

But if you read Chaucer? That stuff’s basically gibberish to us.

So we break things into categories. Old English, Middle English, Modern English, for example. And don’t forget that categories are made up too!

But when does Middle English start? When does it end?

It’s nearly impossible to say. If you were to time travel to 500 years ago, you’d have a pretty hard time understanding what they were saying. So you’d be pretty confident in saying that 500 years ago folks spoke a very different language. Maybe you call it Middle English.

But start picking other points. It becomes really hard to say. Is this Middle English? Modern English? Middle/Modern English?

This is because slowly changing things change on a gradient. And a gradient is a great metaphor that you can just intuitively understand if you’ve ever seen a sunset. Where does the blue of the sky end and the, say, pink of the sunset begin? Very hard to say. Almost impossible, really. But if you pick any spot on in the sky, you can suddenly very easily identify the colour.

The same with slowly changing things. Overlaying our concepts of categorization on a gradient is artifice. It fits our mental and professional need to put things into boxes, but it doesn’t fully reflect reality.

Categories are models. All models are simplifications. All simplifications are, in some sense, wrong. Not to suggest these models aren’t useful, but they are, again, in some sense, wrong.

You can see this in the idea of speciation. We have this persistent and mistaken cultural belief that “species” is somehow a thing that exists “out there” in some kind of Platonic way. I’m not sure if we’re teaching it wrong, or if this is just one of those things about human brains, but there’s no such thing as a species, apart from the fact that we find it useful to say that in some sense this thing is a different thing than that thing.

A wolf is a different species from a dog. But dogs are just domesticated wolves. So when did the wolf become a dog? Again, a gradient. We can see, now, in retrospect, that a wolf and a dog are different things based on some criteria we’ve decided are useful, but the overall change through the course of history is a gradient. (Look at the Russian fox experiment if you want a more recent example; it’s absolutely fascinating to imagine how long it might take for those semidomesticated fox to be considered a completely different species.)

The fun thing here is once you start seeing gradients of change, you can’t stop seeing them.

Look at yourself adult self now and your adult self, say, 20 years ago. You may be remarkably different.

Yet the question “when did I change?” isn’t really meaningful, in general. The fact is you did, bit by bit. You’re not who you where. You’re who you are.

When did you become who you are? Well… never. And always.

On Believing

Beliefs have directionality.

That is to say, they point somewhere. They go places. Otherwise, why bother having them?

Another way to say is that beliefs have effects. I suppose it’s possible to conceive of a belief that has no effects, but I don’t think anyone would actually care to have those.

For the sake of argument, let’s take something incredibly stupid, like believing the earth is flat. At first glance, it doesn’t appear that this belief has much real-world impact. Flat-earthers do all the same stuff that everyone else does, except they happen to disagree with the scientific consensus that the earth is an oblate spheroid and they reinterpret the reams and reams of physical evidence for that fact to support their theory.

Even if the material effects of the belief are small, even if the people who hold this belief behave exactly like everyone else, there’s still at least one effect that springs to mind immediately.

If you think the earth is flat, you have to believe you are being lied to, intentionally and continually, by an absolutely massive number of people, from NASA to boat captains.

You may inhabit the world much like a normal folks. Your day-to-day may resemble the average person’s day-to-day. But the world that you inhabit is fundamentally a very different place. The noosphere is polluted. You can’t trust people, because you don’t know who’s in on the scam. And if they’re willing to keep something as fundamental as the shape of the earth from you, what else might they lying about?

This is the direction of this belief. I think of it as a vector.

The thing is, once you believe something like this, it’s really easy to accumulate additional beliefs that share a similar vector.

Why are so many flat-earthers also antivaxxers? Why do so many creationists fall for q-anon scams? Why are so many racists also patriarchists? Why are so many scientismists also atheists? And so forth and so forth.

Once you have accepted the vector of a certain belief, it’s incredibly difficult to explain why you should not also believe other things that share that direction.

If you’ve already accepted that there are natural hierarchies based on intrinsic characteristics that entail one group of people to subjugate another, it’s very hard to explain why you should have a patriarchy but not have apartheid.

If you’ve already accepted that the world is explained by scientific observation such that anything outside scientific observation is not knowledge, it’s incredibly difficult to explain why you shouldn’t be, at the very least, agnostic.

If you think that the entire scientific community is (at best) deceived by the devil or (at worst) purposefully lying about the origin of life on earth, why would you let those same scientists inject your darling baby with vaccines?

This is why it’s incredibly important to think about what you believe and why you believe it. There are actors in this world (politicians, marketers, scam artists, etc) who will actively exploit the directionality of your beliefs. There’s money and power to be had by appealing to you along these lines. Or even, in the most extreme examples, pure chaos.

There are actors in this world purposefully crafting “sticky” messaging that actively exploits the way you already think. Memes that inhabit the same vector.

And suddenly, you’re radicalized, and you don’t know how it happened.

On Knowing

I’m no longer a huge fan of making a distinction between thinking and feeling. That’s a change for me. It’s not been a very long time since I considered–like I think we’re all socialised to–rational thought as some higher, purer mode of thinking, and emotional thought as a kind of untrustable reactionary force.

Emotions, in other words, were something that got in the way of thought.

But that’s clearly not the case. It’s certainly not how our brains work. If it were the case, that brand of clear-headed, rational thought would tend more toward some kind of truth. At least in theory.

Of course, it doesn’t. Unless you’re very, very invested in doing ruminative metacognition (that is to say, if you want to think about how you think a lot), you’re probably finding and making arguments that reinforce your preexisting commitments.

To put it another way, your rational thought is a collection of stories you tell to confirm the beliefs you already feel good about.

This is why, to give just one example, it’s so hard to argue committed antivaxxers or flatearthers out of their (obviously, to you) insane positions. They seek arguments as much as you do. They seek arguments that confirm their preconceptions, as much as you do. Their arguments feel true to them, just like your arguments feel true to you.

That’s not to say there isn’t a sort of formal logic that tends toward truth. There is. It’s just that almost nobody uses it. It’s too much work. And I don’t mean that in the traditional Puritan mode of “too much work”; you’re not lazy because you don’t spend all day engaging in formally proving all your positions. You can’t. Your brain just doesn’t work that way. It works on shortcuts and heuristics, because the amount of data it receives is massive, but its processing power, though immense, is not unlimited.

And, because your brain exists to help you survive. If you wish to survive a tiger springing out of the bush, to trot out a particularly threadbare example, you survive by reacting, not by formally proving that there is, indeed, a tiger. The heuristic is to assume there is a tiger and act accordingly.

The stakes are not always so high in our day-to-day, but we just tend to operate that way regardless.

Not to mention that we are creatures of memory. Our perceptions, our conclusions, all our thought that we care to hang on to, is recorded and saved for later. But not perfectly. We remember memories of memories. Memories can be twisted, manufactured, corrupted, and completely forgotten in that process.

Take something that you know. Something simple, something foundational, something we all learn very early in school:

1 + 1 = 2

Is this true? Of course. But here’s thing thing: How do you know? Have you ever proved it? Do you have access to that proof right now?

Of course not. This is an axiomatic mathematical expression. You can prove it, reasonably well, with some sticks or something (or, if you’re brave, from formal logic alone, though it will apparently take about 100 pages of proof to do so).

But you don’t do this. Unless you’re teaching it to someone who doesn’t know it, you’ll probably never do it.

And yet you are supremely confident that this claim is true. You realise, on some level, that if it isn’t true, your entire mental construction of the universe needs to be done. You’ve lived your life thus far labouring under the pretence that it’s true, and things have turned out fine so far.

When you access a truth claim, even a simple, axiomatic truth claim, you don’t have access to the truth of that claim in the moment, or even access to whether or not that truth claim is warranted. Instead, you’re accessing a memory of your own confidence about that truth claim. And what is confidence, in the end, but an emotion? You don’t know that 1 + 1 = 2. You feel that 1 + 1 = 2.

In this case, you’re correct. (Breathe a sigh of relief.) 1 plus 1 does indeed equal 2. But think about all the times you’ve had that same reaction of confidence in your opinion on something, or your confidence that something happened the way you remember it happening, or your confidence that that bit of knowledge you squirrelled away 20 years ago is still valid…

Confidence can absolutely be unwarranted. Memories are fragile. Things that seem axiomatic can be socialised conventions.

And knowing all of this doesn’t help you at all. You can do some metacognition stuff to inspect and attempt to correct your confidence, but this is the sort of ex post facto stuff that doesn’t really help you in the moment. It might help in some other moment. It’s also not guaranteed to make your life any easier; believing things that are capital-t True isn’t some secret shortcut to a fulfilling existence. Some True things are incredibly bothersome, even agonizing.

Anyways. You should interrogate your rationality the same way you interrogate your emotions. You don’t get to throw one away and keep the other. Thinking is thinking.

Bullet points for a Monday lunch hour

  • This is going to be short; I’m busy.
  • The tragedy of the commons is a terrible critique of socialism. It is, however, a fantastic critique of capitalism.
  • The western church, especially in America, and especially the evangelical church, could preach against white supremacy, but doesn’t. It could work to root out this idolatry within its midst, but doesn’t. I don’t think there’s “a reason” for this, but instead a few:
    • Because the evangelical church has been coopted by conservative ideology, there’s a feeling like-sees-like with white supremacists. This triggers a coalition-building impulse because they’re on “our side”, and this perception of allyship is a stronger signal (to conservatives) than the gospel.
    • The false perception that evangelicals are somehow a persecuted group also drives this; you find allies wherever you can when you feel under attack.
    • The white evangelical church has close historic ties with white supremacy and is fairly unwilling to acknowledge that legacy, and absolutely unwilling to do anything about it. Instead, evangelical leaders do the opposite, picking bogeymen such as critical race theory, treating them (fairly transparently) as strawmen when they feel any pressure to actually do anything. It’s not a coincidence that the Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination formed to safeguard the institution of slavery, is where a lot of anti-woke warriors come from.
    • And, frankly, rooting out idolatry is hard. Prophets get thrown down wells a lot. And the work of preaching should be exactly that: exercising the prophetic voice. Especially in places where we find it culturally uncomfortable.
    • Christian Nationalism sounds Christian but isn’t. And a lot of people don’t know the difference. But if you’re raised on, say, Pensacola Christian College materials and has a bit of a critical think about what you were being taught, it’s pretty easy to spot.
  • Sea shanties are in. Problem is there’s only about 1 good sea shanty.
  • I hope the cops who got mauled by the insurrectionist mob learn a bit of a lesson:
    • Your leadership doesn’t care about you. They’ll hang you out to dry for their own ideological purposes.
    • Blue Lives Matter folks don’t care about you. They only like cops when you’re on their side. If you’re not, they’ll kill you just as fast as they’ll kill anyone else.
    • White supremacist mobs are dangerous. If you knew anything about the history of white mobs, you’d know this. Just look at the history of terrorism in the US. (Hint: it’s mostly white men.)
  • Some notable blog posts:

Bullet Points, Saturday Morning Edition

  • Laura’s having a little sleep-in. The kids are watching TV and playing computer games. It’s cold outside. But it’s a good morning.
  • The last 4 years have been an inflection point for so, so many people I know. It feels like a trauma response, in a way. So many people are looking at their evangelical churches and thinking “I don’t fit in here anymore”, especially folks who can remember the Clinton years. I don’t think we can overestimate the damage to the witness and reputation of the evangelical church. We’re going to feel the ripples of this for years.
  • I failed my reading challenge for the year. I didn’t read anywhere close to the number of books I set out to read. The upside is I read way more books this year than I did last year, and some of the books I read were stellar. Some standouts:
    • Jesus And John Wayne – An absolutely astonishing exploration of “biblical manhood” in particular and evangelicalism in general.
    • Taking America Back For God – This might be one of the most important books I’ve ever read, tying together a lot of the loose ends of my youth as a fundamentalist. If you were schooled with A Beka materials (as I was), you need to read this. It explains a lot.
    • Dark Matter – Just a really great scifi novel.
    • Middlegame – Weird and delightful.
    • Uprooted – Good fantasy. Self-contained. No trilogy. Very different ending.
  • Bad coffee beans are a great reason to use some Bailey’s. Or even better, Forty Creek Cream.
  • I read an article (which I’ve lost, unfortunately) the other day that explored the connection between the ethos of evangelical Christianity and multi-level marketing companies (aka pyramid schemes). It pointed out that to engage in an MLM you need to be comfortable being extremely (and some might say annoyingly) evangelistic, using your friends and family to preach the gospel of whatever schlock you’re trying to get them to buy. It makes sense why evangelical moms get so wrapped up in these things: they already possess that skillset. You can take the comparison further, but that’s as far as I’ll go here.
  • Lockdown continues. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of our province’s lackluster response. I’m sick of the COVID enablers who continue to flout the rules. I’m sick of the antimaskers. I’m sick of vaccine deniers. I’m sick to death of all the people who think their opinion based on an Instagram post is somehow equivalent to the advice of a trained medical professional. I’m sick of people justifying their bad behaviour using the Bible. I’m sick of folks who say “don’t have a spirit of fear” when it comes to getting the disease but are afraid of getting the vaccine. I’m sick of the spirit of absolute selfishness these freeloaders have. I’m sick of the toxic individualism that riddles our nation. I’m just sick and tired and frustrated at all of this, of all these stupid fights about nothing with smoothbrains. It’s been a long, long year.
  • The kids are done with TV and computer games now, so I guess I gotta go, like, do stuff.

Stuff To Unlearn (Music Edition)

  • An artist writing their own songs is great. But that artist isn’t somehow more authentic or worthwhile than someone else who doesn’t.
  • A piece of music that stands the test of time hasn’t done anything except exist for a while. The test of time is no test at all.
  • Some music feels synthetic or manufactured. But all music is manufactured. Some music is manufactured to feel less manufactured than other music. Grunge is no less manufactured than hair metal. If it feels like it is, you’ve revealed your aesthetic preference.
  • There’s more to music than just Western music theory. It might be hard to see that sometimes, especially if you’re embedded in Western culture. I might say that the internet should allow you to more easily experience other cultures, but it also extends Western cultural hegemony, so maybe not.
  • Music isn’t harmony, it isn’t melody, it isn’t rhythm, it isn’t lyrics, it isn’t instruments. If a particular type of music is missing one of these things, it doesn’t make it less musical. If you feel like it does, you’ve revealed an aesthetic preference.
  • Aesthetic preferences are fine. But in the end they’re just preferences, a sort of lens that you use to look at music. Or, to put it another way, a perspective. That you have one perspective, or even that a whole bunch of folks share your preference, doesn’t make your perspective right, or normative, or inherently valuable.
  • You can’t tell what music ought to be by looking at what music is.