Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year! I'll be back to blogging soon.

The Birth of Jesus
Luke 2:1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. The Shepherds and the Angels And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Rantings of a Single Male Part III: Rant C

The part of this rant that I am going to discuss is essentially about equality.

This section was pretty difficult to write. Not necessarily because the material is difficult, but because sometimes I just don't want to wade through the hyperbole. But, there are some things I want to say, so I may as well get on with it.

Ellis makes an interesting observation when he states “Women think it is men who insist on being recognized as superior. Using male oppression as justification, feminists have counterattacked with an unending salvo of female supremacy. Women are emotionally and morally superior. Women are more caring, sensitive, and nurturing. Women are not ruled by their hormones like men. Women have superior verbal skills….In spite of all the female supremacy propaganda thrown at them, women still require men to be superior to themselves as a condition of acceptance and respect and for consideration as sex partners. Women still demand men who are superior to themselves and strength, knowledge, skill, height, success, determination, aggression, and just about everything. ” (p.20)

While I appreciate the juxtaposition of the ideas Ellis puts forth, supposed female supremacy versus women desiring men who are superior to them, as a woman it seems natural to me to think that there are some things that men are better at than me. And that also there may be some things that I am better at than a man. This does not seem illogical to me, but rather the nature of things. So, I'm not quite sure I understand the point he is trying to make here. Skills and characteristics such as sensitivity, nurturing, and verbal ability are seen as stereotypically feminine, whereas skills such as determination, aggression and strength are seen as stereotypically male. Simple observation will tell you that some qualities and abilities are more prevalent in one gender than another. Some obvious examples include physiological differences such as height and physical strength. The average man is taller than the average woman and the average man is stronger than the average woman. That is not to say that there are no individual women taller than any individual man or that there are no individual women who may be physically stronger than an individual man. There are always exceptions, but there are also some general trends. Perhaps, Ellis’s disagreement is with the stereotypical nature of these characteristics. On that count, I must agree with him. A great deal of the time, I think it makes more sense to judge people's abilities on an individual basis rather than on the basis of their gender. Or perhaps, it's about the whole "anything you can, do, I can do better” competition that feminism appears to engender.

The author further clarifies his point of view stating “even though women seek out men they perceive as superior, they've been conditioned to demand the appearance of equality." (p. 21) On this point, I definitely agree. Feminism does attempt to condition women to the idea that they can do anything as well as men and there are many cases in which this is not true. One time, I went to visit a friend of mine in Michigan and she and her roommate were moving into a new apartment. Her roommate was a self-proclaimed “Christian feminist”. My friend’s roommate was highly insulted when a male friend offered to help her move the couch that she was struggling with because she felt that this meant he thought she was incapable. This completely baffled me. After all when I'm in the grocery store attempting to stretch to reach an item on the top shelf I'm not insulted if a taller individual offers to help me. It's a simple anatomical fact, I am only so tall... it doesn't make me less of a person. It's also a simple anatomical fact that I can't lift the couch (though I will admit to being more of a wimp than the average woman). So why should I be insulted if someone, man or woman, offers to help me? When did life become a competition?

Ellis goes on to discuss the concept of “different equalities".

“Women are now a confused mutation of old and new privilege. Old privilege is that of previous generations. Ladies first. Men are supposed to support women. Men are held responsible for the happiness of their wives. Men must risk of their own safety to protect women. Men have to pay. Women don't have to register for the draft. Old privilege is females getting whatever they want because they're so damned cute. New privilege is affirmative action. It is hundreds of women's commissions promoting women's causes and expanding female entitlements. New privilege is an express lane to success for women. New privilege is women getting credit, but no blame. New privilege is making it hazardous to your job to openly disagree with gender politics that favor women. Women want all the old and new privileges and to call it equality." (p. 22)

I'm not sure that the "old privileges" were actually due to the fact that women are "so damned cute". I think it more likely that they were due to a different understanding of the roles of men and women. An understanding that was closer to a Biblical model that was patriarchal in nature. If feminism wants to do away with this understanding then I think it is completely fair to question the equality of maintaining the privileges that came from that understanding. I believe this is one of the ways that feminism has hurt women far more than it has helped them. Personally, I think the concept of "equality" between men and women is a fallacy. While I believe that all humans are equal in basic value we are not the same in terms of our abilities, aptitudes, and God-given roles, so why pretend that we are?

The author then goes on to ask the question "Should women be able to pick and choose what they want to be equal with men about?" This is a good question. True equality would mean that women are subject to the same responsibilities as men. Ladies, do you want to register for the draft?

Ellis goes on to discuss a quote from suffragette Susan B. Anthony. "Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less." This, from a woman, who is purported to be a champion of equality? I had never heard this quote from Anthony before but it certainly does back up Ellis' claim that the agenda of the women's movement “has always been about winning rights as well as special privileges for women.” (p. 23) He goes on to say "I'm not questioning the right of women to vote. I'm saying that because women can vote on issues involving war and are also exempt from ever being forced to participate in actual combat, they have equal rights with fewer responsibilities than men.” You know what? That's true.

Ellis goes on to outline the idea that if women want to be considered equal, then they should go out and acquire the skills that men have. I agree with this to a point. If a woman wants to be considered “equal” or the same as a man then yes, she should compete with him based on skill.

Humorously (to me anyway) Mr. Ellis chooses to use the example of accomplished musical ability, particularly the ability to play electric guitar to illustrate his point that women don't compete on a skill level because they don't feel they have to because they can rely on sex appeal. Ellis postulates that women feel they don't need to become proficient musicians because they are able to get what they want through the use of their appearance, stating “wearing a short skirt is a lot easier than practicing. That's certainly why adult women never take up instruments.” (p. 26)

Okay, I have to be honest here and say that when I read this I thought “what?” and laughed. I do know women who have taken up musical instruments as adults (harp, piano, cello). However, they pursued those instruments not to "get what they want" but rather for the enjoyment that musical expression brings them. Also, I think it's entirely possible that there are other reasons why you don't see a lot of women striving to become the best at playing electric guitar. Maybe they prefer other interests? My female friends pursue excellence in creative skill acquisition and coordination in areas such as quilting, ballroom dancing, jewelry making, soldering leaded glass, and writing etc. Or perhaps it's because some women place less value in skill acquisition than they do in other things such as their relationships to others. Now, I realize that is not true for all women, but I do think it's true for lots of women I know. Just for fun I did an informal poll of eight women on the subject. Five of these women were believers and three unbelievers ranging in age from 22 to 46. I asked them, "Why don't you play the electric guitar?" After they finished laughing, most of their answers went something like this: either “I guess I just was never interested in it” or “that sounds like fun, but I've got my hands full with “X” (my family or school)”.

Ellis furthers his thesis with the idea that women don't pursue skill acquisition because they don’t see the need to since they "see men as easily controllable." (p. 27) When I read statements like this I am often puzzled. I believe the author that some women think this way, but I wonder how many. Ok readers, I want to know what you think about this. I know you are lurking out there reading and not commenting….well here’s your chance! (I know you were holding your breath waiting for an opportunity, weren’t you?) If you are a man: do you think women see you as easily controllable? If you are a woman: do you see men as easily controllable? You can leave your comment anonymously or even make up a fun name for yourself like Spanky or Betty Boop…won’t that be fun! :)

Feel free to comment on anything else you desire too…like why my blog background is sooooo boring…or why that safety from the Steelers can’t keep his mouth shut about the Patriots….or where did the word “yule” come from anyway?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Rantings of a Single Male: Part II

Rant B

This rant begins by introducing an individual by the name of Petra who will be referred to throughout the book. When the author was 21 years old and traveling in Europe he met a young German woman by the name of Petra. The author then carried on a two-week affair with Petra while traveling through parts of Europe though they were unable to speak to each other because of the language barrier. At the end of the two weeks there was a pregnancy scare. In response to this Mr. Ellis states, "On the trip she had just ‘hoped’ she couldn't get pregnant while leaving it for fate to decide. From this experience I learned that you cannot that trust women to take responsibility for their own bodies. They prefer to wait until responsibility is thrust upon them." (P. 12)

Several weeks after Mr. Ellis returned to the United States, Petra came to live with relatives in Connecticut. Plans were made for Petra to come and live with Mr. Ellis in Ohio during the summer. When she arrived with greatly improved English Mr. Ellis discovered that Petra was actually a radical feminist. Petra made it her mission to indoctrinate the author in radical feminism. The affair disintegrated when Petra refused to engage in sex with the author when he disagreed with her feminist ideas. Ellis states, “A the time I didn't understand that her opinions were emotionally grounded, and I tried apply my male logic to her ideological assertions. I wanted to teach her how to analyze and reason. She would have none of it. I never told her what to think or believe, I just challenged her. That only infuriated her.”(p.13)

Some of the issues Petra demanded the author’s agreement with included:
-Women should be granted jobs in fields where they are underrepresented, even if they were not qualified.
-Women should make at least as much of men in all lines of work even when men are more qualified or more experienced.
-Alleged rapists this should be sent to prison on the word of the alleged victim alone.
-It is wrong to use words such as chairman or freshman or to refer to females as girls and not women.

In response to this attempted indoctrination Mr. Ellis stated, “But I don't think a man's role in a relationship is to simply validate the views of a woman. Why does it always come to that?" (p. 15)

At the end of the summer Petra returned to her relatives in Connecticut. The author stated "... our whole relationship was based on a big misunderstanding. But then, I suppose that's nothing unusual" (p. 15) The author reports that even though it was a difficult summer he didn't think it was a complete waste. "Had it not been for her endless stream of irritating drivel, I would still have only a vague awareness of feminism. I had just been presented with the vision of the future insanity of women. Little did I know Petra’s irritating drivel here would turn out to be prophecy." (p. 15)

The author has many good points regarding the feminist ideas that Petra expected the author to agree with. The ideas Petra attempted to convince the author of which I detailed in this entry are illogical. Part of the deficit in logic is due to the broad generalizations that some of these feminist ideas put forth. Generalizations such as the idea that women have been oppressed by men for thousands of years and so are now deserving of preferential treatment above men. But then, broad generalizations are often illogical.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ellis repeats the mistake of many feminists by using broad generalizations as well. For example, “ From this experience I learned that you cannot trust women to take responsibility for their own bodies. They prefer to wait until responsibility is thrust upon them." (P. 12) I suppose this is true in some cases, however, it certainly is not true for all women. Mr. Ellis, however, is correct in thinking that all adults should be responsible for their own bodies.

Or “But I don't think a man's role in a relationship is to simply validate the views of a woman. Why does it always come to that?" I wonder though, does it really always come to that? If a woman was looking for a "yes man" Mr. Ellis is right, that would not lead to a healthy relationship. I think one of the good things men and women have to offer each other are our differing perspectives on issues.

As I've mentioned previously, hyperbole is often used when discussing a subject that one is passionate about. I suppose any expression described as a "rant" could likely contain some hyperbole as well. When hyperbole is used to express ideas there are dangers on both sides of discussion. Many women who read this may react to the hyperbole thinking, "But I am responsible for my own body, this guy is full of it." which is not going to predispose her to listening to his other ideas. A man who reads this may develop the opinion that, indeed, most women are untrustworthy, and only want a "yes man" which can lead to the inappropriate judgment of the feminine gender as a whole.

Nonetheless, as a woman, when I read a broad generalization in this book I am trying to consider if, in fact, I too am guilty of the sorts of things Mr. Ellis tends to accuse women of. I think it is a good idea to ask myself, “Do I tend to only associate with people who agree with me?” Or "Am I willing to listen to others' ideas without mentally planning how I will refute them?" Hopefully I can learn from this and share what I learn with you.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Politics and Eternity

The end of the semester is a very busy time so I apologise for not posting often. I will get back to writing about "The Rantings of a Single Male" soon but tonight I wanted to post about something different I have been thinking about recently.

I don't really like politics but I feel that it is my responsibility to make informed decisions when I exercise the privilege of voting. So, as we get closer to the presidential primaries I have been examining the positions of some of the presidential candidates. The candidate I am most impressed with at this point is Ron Paul. His positions on taxes, border security and immigration, personal liberty, abortion and national sovereignty make a lot of sense. But, I am having a tougher time accepting his position on the war in Iraq and foreign policy.

From the Ron Paul Website :

"Too often we give foreign aid and intervene on behalf of governments that are despised. Then, we become despised. Too often we have supported those who turn on us, like the Kosovars who aid Islamic terrorists, or the Afghan jihadists themselves, and their friend Osama bin Laden. We armed and trained them, and now we’re paying the price."

I see the truth in what Ron Paul says on the subject and understand that things we have done in the past may have contributed to Islamic terrorism. But, I am not sure that if we withdraw from Iraq that Islamic terrorists will simply leave us alone. Is the cat already out of the bag? Is it too late for that? I just don't know...

In church recently my pastor was talking about the fact that the most important aspect about any individual is their relationship with God through Jesus. Not their gender, race, nationality, marital status, or political affiliation, but their relationship with God. Because our relationship with God is what is eternal. Eternal.

And you know what? God has eternity in HIS hands.

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.