What You Think

I think this is good advice. But my thinking about consciousness and metaphysics—especially epistemology—makes me believe that better advice would be, “Don’t Believe Anything You Think.”

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I just hope that this driver is constantly thinking that he should have bought a Honda. No, no! A ford. No… I know! Damn!

Male Knitting

Gender RolesI just read a really interesting, thought provoking, and humane article An Open Letter to My Fat Father, From His Fat, Trans Son: Or, Fatherhood, Fatness, and Family. It is about coming to accept ones weight. But there is a wrinkle: it is by a transgender man.

On one level, I identify with the transgender community. I don’t feel comfortable in my own body—I never have. I wish that there were such an easy solution to my problem as changing my sex. The fact that the very idea seems ridiculous to me makes me think that this is not the primary issue that transgender people face.

All my life, I have battled gender identities. This was not an internal struggle. I’ve never felt particular gender bound. I’m very comfortable with my natural desires which are hardly typically male. On the other hand, although most men see me as effeminate, gay, or nonexistent, in an anthropological sense, I am very male. In fact, when I get manly men alone, I am often shocked by their girly underside. It seems that I am different only in lacking any respect for gender roles. I am a real man because I am a real man.

I would go further. I tend to find manly men pathetic. As I’ve gotten older, I can see very clearly how cowardly they are. Unlike me, they aren’t sure that they are “real” men. They’re like closeted gays, afraid that their friends will think less of them because they like soap operas or knitting. And that’s no way to live.

How is it to feel so completely wrong that you go under the knife? I have no idea. I won’t go to the doctor until my blood pressure is down to 60 over 40. So I’ve got to believe that transgender people are very serious about this. They deserve whatever can be done to feel normal (and not, as is stated in the article, just those who can afford it).

Regardless of this, I can’t but believe that the cultural norms that teach men that they can’t knit are the also partly to blame for people who feel they are the wrong gender. But if only for the male knitting fans, we need to get past our gender restrictions as much as we do our fat hatred.

Jesus’ Wife

Jesus in Jerusalem - Take my wife... Please!

You’ve probably heard that Jesus had a wife. Okay, he didn’t really have a wife. There is a text fragment about the size of a business card that reads, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife is so fat, when she sits around the house, she sits around the house. Good night Jerusalem!'” I’m kidding, of course; he was in Bethany.

The actual quote is, “Jesus said to them my wife.” It is a 4th century Coptic translation of a 2nd century Greek text containing just 33 words. So it could mean anything. Before I get into the weeds here, let me explain something akin to Platonic ideals.

In The Historical Jesus: Five Views, Robert Price writes a chapter called “Jesus at the Vanishing Point.” In it, he argues that any discussion of the historical Jesus is meaningless, because the actual man has been so soiled by myth as to no longer exist. What I take away from this is that the argument as to whether Jesus the man actually existed doesn’t matter because when people talk about Jesus they aren’t talking about him. Instead, they are talking about the guy in the Bible.

And given this, I tend to side with the Catholics over the Protestants. Jesus is what the religious traditions say he is not what this or that upstart claims he is—because there is no him to uncover apart from the church traditions.

Thus, when another apocryphal text shows up, I’m of two minds: “So” and “Interesting.” The “So” part relates to how it ought to affect modern Christians: not at all. The “Interesting” part relates to what it says about the evolution of the church. I know that this is explicitly uninteresting to most modern day Christians, because they want (Need?) to believe that as the word of God, the religion was born fully formed. The truth is far more interesting with various factions fighting over what the new religion would mean. For example, I find the Gnostics and their mystical beliefs far more compelling than modern Christianity.

What is interesting about these apocryphal gospels is not what they tell us about Jesus but what they tell us about Christianity. Early Christian thought was so diverse that I would not be shocked to learn of a text that read, “Jesus said to them I am a woman.” Clearly, such a text would not mean that Jesus was a woman—only that some Christians thought so.

In the end, this calls the question of what religions are good for. I believe that religions are good for helping people search for Truth. But they mostly fail miserably at this because they too often claim to know Truth. And that is as silly as Jesus saying, “Take my wife… Please!”

Leon Wieseltier on the Far Right

Leon Wieseltier“The far right combines the pity of the minority with the power of the majority.” —Leon Wieseltier

This is according to Ari Melber on an internet-only bit from The Last Word, who I think may have the wording wrong. Perhaps that should be “self-pity”?

Update (22 September 2012 9:43 am)

I guess I was wrong about the “self-pity” change. I just found a more exact quote from—Surprise!—Ari Melber in Bill O’Reilly Raps: NYT Discovers Talk Radio-Hip Hop Nexus in The Nation:

That may sound odd coming from the party of business elites and racial majorities, yet as the critic Leon Wieseltier once observed, American conservatives, and especially the Christian Right, delight in combining “the power of a majority with the pity of a minority.”

That would make the quote more accurately, “The far right combines the power of a majority with the pity of a minority.” That does sound better. The right article makes all the difference in the world.

The Most Corrupt Attorney General

I’m not sure if I agree with Lawrence O’Donnell here, but this is powerful and insightful. There are many things to recommend it. For one, there is some Nixon administration history, and I love Nixon stuff. I really want to go to his library! And there is more about the now infamous Romney 47% video, where the real story seems to be the audience who make me despair of their class and for our society. My concern about accepting his argument is that I think the treatment of the Obama administration by the Republicans is the same as it was of the Clinton administration. All the talk of socialism and tyranny were the same then. I’m sure race is a factor, I just don’t think it is the primary one.

Watch this. It’s good: