Hollowing Out the Habits of Attention (Part 5 )

To read earlier posts in this series, click here.

One morning, on a brisk autumnal day in 2015, I drove myself to the hospital in Spokane Washington. My destination was the office of an expert psychiatrist, Dr. Zimmermann.

After parking my car and finding the appropriate building, I took a long elevator ride to the top of the hospital building where my psychiatrist evaluation would commence.

I had been told that Dr. Zimmermann might be able to help with some mental, emotional and physical problems I had developed earlier in the year. Still, I was a little nervous. I liked psychologists and professional counselors—warm-hearted people who listened to your problems with infinite patience. But I was nervous about psychiatrists, who I envisioned walking around in white coats dispensing prescription drugs that merely masked over people’s real problems. Did Dr. Zimmermann fit the stereotype? I would find out in a few minutes.

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Fear is Fine…except when it drives us away from what is just and right

From my post “Clarifying My Position on Trump“:

There are times when Christians ought to be afraid. I will be the first to admit that we have good reason to be afraid of Hillary, and perhaps even more reason to fear a Clinton presidency than a Trump presidency, especially with the future of the Supreme Court hanging in the balance. But when fear drives Christians to perform actions that deviate from what is just and right, as when Trump supporters say we shouldn’t even raise questions about the way so many are attempting to shut-down critical evaluation, or the way they use neo-fascist tactics to abuse the families of Trump’s dissenters (see French’s piece in the National Review), we are right to be concerned, and it is part of the Church’s witness to speak out against this. Perhaps that will mean a more cautious, qualified and discerning posture towards our support of Trump. I’m fine with that. But what I am NOT fine with is this naive ask-no-questions approach that has an uncanny similarity to the way Christians in Germany supported Hitler, which I discussed in Chapter 15 of my book Saints and Scoundrels.

Pokémon Go and the Unbundling of Reality

(This post is a condensed and re-organized version of two earlier blog posts.)

“Technology tends to see reality as heaps, as a conglomeration of fragments that somehow are put together by someone in order to obtain something . . . that don’t have any inner order or interiority that is resistant to human manipulation.”

—Antonio López 

apple-watchWhen Apple unveiled its new Apple Watch Series 2 at this year’s long-anticipated launch, news of the new smart-watch was overshadowed by reactions to the iPhone 7. Yet the underpublicized news that the Apple Watch is soon to be equipped with Pokémon Go is perhaps of greater significance than the annoying fact that Apple has decided to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone.

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Clarifying My Position on Trump

clinton_trump_splitSince publishing my earlier post ‘Donald Trump and Family Values‘ on October 8, I received a lot of pushback on my personal Facebook wall as well as my author page. This forced me to clarifying exactly what I was trying to say and exactly what I was not trying to say. For those who haven’t seen those discussions, I wanted to share some of what I wrote here since many readers of this blog may have had similar questions.

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Christ and the Systems of Man

As Erick Erickson and his wife face the reality of dying and leaving their children orphaned, he makes some moving observations about the ways in which Christ disrupts the present order of things. The following words are from his post “If I Die Before You Wake…“:

Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

When Christ draws near, the systems of man and nature collapse. When faith grows strong, it conflicts more and more with politics and polite society. In Matthew 27, the very people who had cheered on Jesus as a king on Palm Sunday were suddenly yelling “crucify him.” He told them what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear and how quickly the crowd turn on him. The crowd always turns quickly.

Then before Pontius Pilate, Jesus is before the Roman legal system. That system is a system much of the Western world is still modeled on. But it collapsed as Christ drew near. The innocent man was handed over to death by a governor who knew he was innocent, but washed his hands of it. Even Pilate’s wife’s dreams collapsed into nightmare as Christ drew near and into mind.

Into the hands of the greatest, most disciplined military force the Christ was delivered only to see that discipline break down. They mocked him and tortured him. They ridiculed him. They divided up his clothes.

On the cross, the religious order broke down. The priests and rabbis mocked him. They showed no sympathy for a dying man. Then nature itself collapsed. The sun went dark. The ground tore apart. The graves came open and the dead walked out. The innocent man on the cross became the greatest sinner to have ever lived. The sins of the world, past, present, and future were piled on him so much so that the sun itself could not shine upon him and God himself turned his back. But Christ conquered death and set us free.

When Christ draws near, the systems we put in place collapse because they are the systems of sinners exposed by perfection. I want my children to know this. I want them to remember it. Because as they go through this fallen world there will be so much pressure on them, as there is on their parents, to conform to the world. And they must not be afraid to stand for the collapse of all things so that the one thing that truly matters stands tall.

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Donald Trumps and Family Values

trumpBy now it’s starting to feel like a broken record. I keep hearing that Trump, for all his faults, at least has this going for him: with Trump what you see is what you get; he’s not afraid to tell it like it is.

The facts speak against this naive portrayal of Trump, as I pointed out earlier in the year. So why does this myth of Trump-the-straight-talker have so much traction? Part of the answer is that Trumps’ in-your-face-bombastic-politically-incorrect manner gives the impression that he’s more concerned with “telling it as it is” then with what anyone may think of him. His unpolished redneck style of rhetoric oozes a type of authenticity that contrasts sharply with Clinton, who feels untrustworthy (and no doubt is).

The book of Proverbs warns us not to be deceived by surface appearances. When we look at the facts we find that Trump is just as shifty, manipulative and duplicitous as Clinton. Maybe we should vote for him as the lesser of two evils (I am not going to), but if so, surely we should do so without any of these naive notions about him being a straight-talker.

The recent revelations about Trump’s hatred of women simply underscore my point. Last month Trump boasted to the Family Research Council about being pro-family values, yet in the recording uncovered by the Washington Post he complains about his failure to seduce a married woman and brags to Billy Bush about his methods for groping women. If this is a person with “family values”, it’s a very strange sort of family values.

There’s no reason to suppose that Trump’s tendency to objectify women was limited to that one conversation: in 1994 his quickness to objectify women with his oversexed outlook manifested itself even in the way he talked about his baby daughter.

Okay, those things happened a long time ago. And today Trump apologized, right? Yes he did apologize, but at the same time he dismissed the recent revelations as “a distraction.” Just to put this into perspective, a video has surfaced in which a presidential candidate effectively confessed to committing, or wanting to commit, the crime of sexual assault, and he tells those who might be concerned about this that it is a distraction! 

For those who have been following Donald Trump misogyny, the recent news does not come as a shock. After all, Trump’s former wife has accused him of raping her, and a former business associate has told of how Trump forced himself on her, groping all over her body.

I know, we’re not electing a Sunday School teacher, and corruption runs deep in almost any presidential candidate. But what we’re talking here about criminal actions. If any ordinary person did these things, he would be put on the sex offender list.

“Okay,” someone might reply, “but surely what really matters is where Trump stands on the actual issues, right?” Indeed, so let’s take a look at Trump’s “family values” on the issues. During the primaries ChristianNewsWire released the following run-down on Trump’s positions:

  • He wants a new federal law punishing private business owners who won’t hire homosexuals or transsexuals
  • He is for open homosexuality and transsexuality in the U.S. military
  • He supports pro-“LGBT” “hate crime” laws
  • He opposes a constitutional amendment protecting marriage for only a man and a woman
  • He supports making every state perform homosexual “weddings”
  • He enjoyed attending a same-sex “marriage” ceremony.

Family values? I don’t think so.

Further Reading

What Does a Kiss and a Slap Have in Common? Answer: “gender colonialism”

38phillipsThose who subscribe to Salvo Magazine should be expecting Salvo 38 (Fall 2016) to be arriving in your mailboxes any day. (Those who do not yet subscribe to Salvo can fix that by clicking here.)

In this issue I’ve contributed a short article about feminism. In my article, which is available to read for free HERE, I’ve explored the latest development in the topsy-turvy world of feminist theory: the notion that when men act gentlemanly towards women, or when men have too much warm-hearted affection towards a wife or girlfriend, such men are actually perpetuating the same system of “gender colonialism” that includes rape and wife-beating. The article is a continuation of a theme I started exploring in Winter 2013 with my article ‘The Massacre of Valentine’s Day‘, in which I observed that hostility to positive man-woman relationships runs like a golden thread throughout much third-wave feminist literature.