Whoever this guy is…

August 20, 2016

…his stage name should be Justim Tebowlake.

-Baggervais

We need our enemies.

October 30, 2015

So love them.

Imagine a world without enemies. With no political parties. No religion, John Lennon. No race differences. No gender. No police. No immigrants. No parents. Maybe even no laws of nature.

We would all go crazy with despair. Because: no hope.

With enemies, we can convince ourselves we’re right. We can stay in defensive denial. We can take solace in the limits to our power.

Without enemies, everything we cling to would deconstruct. We would have no beliefs (except in doom). No identity. No one else to kill.

Without enemies, without democracy, in a world where we get our way, we would all have no choice but to admit our part—at least by ignorance, let alone by evil—in the way things are. We’d have to admit that we don’t have all the answers. We’d be left with no one to blame. We’re the enemy. The cry for blood turns suicidal.

Of course, this whole thesis hinges on two (though maybe really one, causally) assumptions: that there will always be problems; and that none of us has absolute wisdom regarding everything (and therefore that there would be no such person who, in the absence of any opposition, could set everything right—but as I keep alluding to, if wisdom is scarce for everyone, then it is in fact a blessing that we all should face enemy opposition to ensure that our power is also scarce). I think most of us accept those assumptions as likely.

So in a world such as we have, enemies seem essential for our sanity and survival. They perform the vital function of keeping us from getting our way. They give us a reason to hope that things could be better, if only we could eliminate or overcome our enemies.

And thus the struggle for hope (as innocent and noble as such a phrase sounds) becomes the very thing that drives power struggle.

What makes political divisions so heated? That problems exist and that if we didn’t have someone to blame them on, then we’d be forced into despair.

What causes religious conflict? Racial tension? Gender wars? I’m not ready to say that it’s exclusively caused by the struggle for hope. But in a world free of egoism, and even one in which good things such as honor and the survival instinct were the chief motivators, then the struggle for hope would yet remain as perhaps the noblest and most basic factor perpetuating conflict and creating the psychological need for enemies.

But, you object, what reason is there to assume that there will always be problems? I object that there you go again struggling to have hope. And also, I reference my second assumption: none of us has absolute wisdom. Scarcity of wisdom means problems are likely to persist even if we start getting our way. However, if you insist on it, I will grant you the possibility that wisdom might not be distributed evenly among us, and that we may at least be able to reduce our problems were power to be distributed more correctly. That much may well be true. But in insisting on that possibility you are still struggling to have hope, and you are entering the realm of thought that leads one to eliminate or overcome one’s enemies, which is the combination we have already found to be the root of conflict and of the increase of our problems.

And so we must cling to our enemies (and maybe, similarly, to our God, Who in Christianity has said of all of us that we are His enemies at one time or another, and Who often functions for His believers as the perfect scapegoat on Whom to deflect blame/anger for our problems so we can acquit both our neighbors and ourselves whenever circumstances don’t match our entitled expectations) in self-contradictory struggle, or else *submit to them (and our God, Who in Christianity has absolute wisdom, absolute power, and has submitted Himself to us as the perfect scapegoat on Whom to deflect our blame and His anger for our self-inflicted problems).

In all this, keep your beliefs, race, and gender. But do so in a chastened way. As we’ve seen, your enemies need you, and you them. Each of us, by existing, at once taxes and benefits others. Though your enemies have caused you harm, you would be worse off without them. So why not **love your enemies? There’s no reasonable alternative. Pray for them. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Submission (the least fearful and most optimistic of responses to enemies, as it is made possible by an unshakeable hope in the resurrection once we’ve died to self) is the undoing of conflict, and of enmity.

Until His Kingdom come, when we are all submitted one way or another to the One Who in absolute wisdom overcame His enemies by submitting to us of His own power, and so won our obedient affection, and left us with no enemies, and no problems, and satisfied the cry for blood.

Notes:

*Jesus submitted to the point of death. I’m not sure that there’s any greater extent to which one can submit. However, I think death, maybe because it is inevitable and common to all, has lost some of its horror in the public eye. To hypothetically extend the injunction to submit to our enemies to cases involving a rapist enemy might be the more shocking scenario in this day and age, especially to women. Surely it’s not right to allow a rapist to have free reign. So I want to attempt to clarify some things. Jesus didn’t submit in vain. He died not intending to leave us in our sin, but to free us from both its guilt and power. It was the loving thing to do for us, and the only thing to do besides consuming us. In letting a rapist run wild, it is beneficial neither for him nor you. And that applies to any kind of sinner, not just a rapist. But can you love your enemy when he is a rapist? Can you desire more than only punishment for him, but healing? As hard as it has to be, I hope so, or else you do not really believe in loving your enemies. There’s no guarantee that kindness will change him. But honest reflection would lead you to conclude that you would be no better than he is if not for the love of countless others who gambled themselves on your outcome. So let love guide your submission. Maybe submission will have to take the form of denying yourself when you cry for the blood of your enemy. Maybe it involves seeing yourself in him. Forgiving him, so you can be forgiven too.  Wanting the best for him, though he doesn’t deserve it. After all, that’s the best we could ever want for ourselves.

**As this essay has unfolded, if my ideas have been true to reality, then I have realized but not yet clearly expressed a dichotomous understanding regarding enemies: one part that is ***non-Christian (but also represented by false Christianity, which every Christian finds himself at times practicing), and another that is truly Christian. The title of this piece belongs to the non-Christian, because at the outset I tried to show without use of Christian vocabulary or logic that enemies must not be dispensed with no matter what your beliefs. Hence, even the non-Christian understanding should lead you to choose the option of at least clinging to your enemies because they are necessary. But that is not yet love; it is utilitarian tolerance. The point at which it becomes love is when you say “I don’t just want things from you (or need you), I want a right relationship with you.” I think it is only the Christian then who has the capacity to truly love (his enemies and in general), and, oddly enough, only the Christian to whom much of this essay does not even apply (though of course it does apply because we Christians are so prone to forgetting Christianity, instead resorting to worldly principles to get by on until we are set straight again). For the Christian, who should already recognize that he had doomed himself, but who also should have confidence that things as they are will pass away and yield to things as they should be, enemies are no longer a psychological necessity (and though the enemy still performs the function of keeping the Christian from getting his way, if that Christian is properly submitted to God, then the function is performed needlessly). So the Christian alone, with nothing to gain from his enemies, has open to him the logical possibility of loving them. Even so, I did conclude the essay with the broad suggestion, to non-Christians and Christians alike, that we love our enemies. This is because I believe that side by side, the Christian view is preferable to utilitarian tolerance. And also, as I have put it, clinging to enemies may turn out to be a “self-contradictory struggle.” I am not sure how much it actually makes sense to value someone because you can blame your problems on them. Or how logically consistent it is to keep people around who—in your mind at least—make things worse, just because it allows you to hope things could be better if they weren’t around. So I say there is no reasonable alternative to loving your enemies.

***It is doubtful, in lumping together the diverse and divergent set of beliefs that make up everything non-Christian, that I have represented the very best they have to offer. It is doubtless that they do not appreciate the lumping and see little association with each other. I have made no effort to express their specific objections, which I’m sure is offensive and could appear sloppy. But I suspect that the offense was probably minor if anything before I began to set Christianity apart from the rest. So if my points seemed true at first for particular beliefs, they don’t become false for those beliefs just because I tried to demonstrate an alternative (in this case, Christianity), even if the alternative is false. But obviously, as a Christian, I do believe Christianity is special, and I have given some reasons. As for the offense, all I can say is that I view the Christian as no less culpable than his “enemies” for the way things are, and that Christendom has shown the same potential for killing enemies rather than lovingly submitting. So for many who call themselves Christian, there really is no difference between Christian and non-Christian. And really, for all who call themselves Christian, there are plenty of times when there is no difference in practice. But when it comes to proper Christianity, made possible for us in glimpses by the power of God, the difference to me is radical.

-Baggervais

Here’s a little song I wrought.

April 20, 2015

The lyrics are contained in the video, but I thought I’d include them here in a more bio-available form:

I love you not
I love you not the way I should
Truth is I love you not
I love you not ’cause you are good
I love you not because you’re wise
Knowing wrong from right

I never love you so
Never so much as you deserve
You never get the love
Never get the love that you earn
You don’t reap the seed you sow
I never love you so

So I called you enemy
So I held you close to me
Love is not something you take
Love is something you receive
Or it will not set you free

O you who pay a price
You in the field who labor long
To you who bear a burden
To you whose work is never done
I love you not because you strive
Not because you’re strong

Don’t you know what my love has cost me
So I could show you I love you dearly
Since love is not something you take
So it’s given freely
Come reap the seed I’ve sown

There you have it 🙂

-Baggervais

Songs of Innocence

September 21, 2014

U2 released an album, and well, if I don’t review it, the rocks and trees might. To me, it’s what the last two albums hoped to be. It rocks, it grooves, it’s dynamic, and it sounds natural and original doing so. It doesn’t sound like a band trying to sound like something—they sound like themselves. As Happy Feet would put it, they found their heart-song (again, after some 10 years or so of searching). I think this is where How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb and No Line On The Horizon went wrong. Those weren’t without merit, but they didn’t make you crave another listen the way this one does. When the past two albums rocked, sometimes it worked, and sometimes it sounded like the guys were doing their best to stay relevant. And when they set out to create unique and interesting sounds, more often than not the results just seemed strange (see Fez, Boots). But in Songs of Innocence, whether they’re rocking, grooving, lamenting, or leading you back to their mossy Irish faeryland childhoods (melded with concrete, urban, industrial Dublin), it sounds fitting every time. Not at first mind you—the only songs that don’t require several chances to prove themselves are Every Breaking Wave and The Troubles—but if you come back to the album several times you’ll discover that every note, every half-beat, every subtle vocal phrasing had to have been carefully thought out and inspected before finding its place in a song. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, let me use the song California as an example. My initial impression was that the echos of ‘Santa Barbara’ at its beginning are an awkward, requisite reference to the Beach Boys ruined forever by U2’s Irish accents, and also that the tune for the first verse is formless and forced upon a lyric that likely existed before the music to which it was set. But over time I’ve come to appreciate how the ‘Santa Barbara’ echos create a sense of waves coming in (reinforced by the song Every Breaking Wave immediately before, and by similar na-na-na-nas and surf guitars in Volcano a few songs later) and reappear almost undetected in the song’s bridge, and how the formlessness of the first verse meanders its way into the chorus without giving itself away (not unlike a drive over the coastal ranges westward to the ocean). This kind of increasing returns is why I crave the album listen after listen, and it makes me see that it’s to the band’s credit as artists that these songs aren’t grabby immediately. It means they managed the difficult task of anticipating what would eventually grow on us after multiple exposures (although really it’s the listener who grows, not the music: art can grow us, but we won’t grow in any direction—the artist’s job is to find the direction we’re ready for, we can handle, we need). Creativity then is not making the obvious asthetic decision, but venturing into just the right parts of the unfamiliar that will expand the listener’s understanding of what beauty can be. This album is a beautiful creative flourish from an all-time favorite band of mine who (due to how long they put off the release, and the most recent albums previous) I had feared may have lost their inspiration some time ago. Musically and lyrically, with Songs of Innocence U2 is once again living up to their unavoidable hype, and I see why they were so proud of it that they would want to give it away to the whole of Creation. So I say if it downloaded to your iTunes, take my advice and go listen to it, 70 times 7 times (or more depending on your musical hardness of heart :)), before complaining that you got it for free and you’re a pawn in Bono’s conspiracy to make his enemies a footstool before him. Why is it so hard to accept a gift, completely free, that we did not earn?

-Baggervais

Paris by the numbers.

April 29, 2014

Tomorrow is the last day of my work contract with my school. I’ve reached the stage where everywhere I go I’m saying my au revoirs to the people I’ve spent the last few months with. Sunday was my last “culte” with my French church. Tonight’s my last pizza night with the young adults at the American church. I took a shower this morning, and truly I say to you, I will not shower again until that day when I shower anew in the kingdom of Obama.

I’ll write some other posts in which I process my time here in Paris, but first I wanted to offer a big-picture sketch of what it’s been like by breaking down numerically my life in Paris.

7-the number of months I’ve been here.

7-maybe the number of meters squared of my studio, which is a generous estimate and is illegal. The legal minimum is 9. I didn’t know about that law when I found the place, so it doesn’t bother my conscience none, and it’s the propriétaire who would be at fault anyways (in case I need to defend myself before you). I was just stoked to have found somewhere to crash in a convenient location. Still very thankful for it.

280-my rent in Euros. Price was going to be the determining factor for where I lived, and I was willing to settle for a dump if necessary. But God is generous and for that price I got way more than I needed. The room came with a table, two chairs, a bean-bag chair/futon to sleep on, a burner for cooking, some dishes, a heater, fridge, and sink. Internet was 20 Euros a month. To cut costs I never once plugged the fridge in, so with electricity, I was paying about 400 USD to live in the center of one of the most expensive cities anywhere. 🙂

0-the number of showers or bathrooms in my studio. There’s a toilet at the end of the hall for me and my next-door neighbor to share. I took showers for free at the bains-douches municipaux which are scattered here and there around Paris.

1-the average number of showers I took per week, for a total of around 30. I was here for the cold months, French people are reputed to be dirty, and showers are overrated anyways (in case I need to defend myself before you again; btw, I’m going to publish a post soon to convince you to stop judging me so much all the time). Between water usage, electricity, and transportation, this was easily the most eco-friendly my existence has ever been (so there).

25-the estimated number of times I took the metro. Notice that this is fewer than the number of times I showered. The metro is an unavoidable part of Parisien life which I just about avoided. Most of those 25 times were because I was going somewhere with other people (so I’m exonerated).

7-the average mileage I would walk each day since I didn’t take the metro. That comes to a little over 2 hours of walking.

2-how many fights I got to participate in breaking up while walking home late at night

2-the number of times I got solicited by prostitutes on the street. Both times happened on my second night in Paris, and I just thought girls here were being really forward before I realized what was going on.

3-the arrondissement I lived in, which enabled my pedestrian lifestyle.

5-the total number of times I did laundry, just as soon I get around to doing it for the last time.

1-the number of bars of soap, bottles of shampoo, and tubes of toothpaste I’ve used, each. Oh, and the same 1 pair of contacts (meant to last 2 weeks).

3-sticks of deodorant, supplemented by 2 things of roll-on French deodorant that smell nice but don’t do a thing to keep you from sweating.

300-what I budgeted for food each month. I managed to stay under that and still get my recommended daily value of kebab and pain au chocolat.

4 or 5-kebab a week.

12-the number of classes a language assistant teaches each week. This is part-time work, so our pay is proportionately meager, but sufficient if you can find some other work on the side or if you score a living situation like mine.

8-the number of times I went beyond the Boulevard Périphérique, the road that encircles Paris proper.

6-the number of consecutive weeks I would work at a time before getting 2 weeks of vacation. It was like this for all teachers in the Paris region. Not only was I working part-time, but every 2 months I got 2 weeks off. Felt like a sabbatical compared to my most recent job in America at which I got about 1 week of vacation all year and was at work 120 hours/week.

10-the number of songs I recorded on my little French computer. This, as well as lots of time with friends, was how I spent the better part of the time that wasn’t spent working (in case I need to justify my existence to you).

I hope that gives you, and future-me, a rough idea of what my life be like here. I leave in 2 days to return to my go-to home in America, Colorado. The plan is to camp out all summer there and be a raft guide like I was 2 years ago. As you can see from this post, I’m spoiled rotten.

-Baggervais

Currently…

March 23, 2014

in Denver…

63°F
FEELS LIKE 63°
28° LOW
Much warmer than yesterday.
Past 24-hr Precip:
0 in
 

and in Colorado Springs…

39°F
FEELS LIKE 33°
29° LOW
Past 24-hr Precip:
0.15 in (est.)
Past 24 Hours Snow:
2.0 in (est.)

I love checking weather.com to see what’s up in Colorado. Colorado Springs and Denver aren’t that far from each other on the plains. The Palmer Divide separates them, but it basically just seems like a slightly more elevated part of the plains. Crazy how different the weather can be.

-Baggervais

Trump cards.

March 5, 2014

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.’

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (NASB, ’cause that’s what popped up first on Google)

When I say the word ‘Christianity,’ do you have some idea that comes to mind of what that word means? Then you probably are familiar enough with either the Bible or Christianity to know that there are some mental blocks one must overcome before accepting everything it teaches. I often find myself on either the side of the Jews or the Greeks mentioned above as I struggle with a hard teaching. That struggle, while necessary and something I’m grateful for, is probably a sign that I’ve been living with a misconception because I’ve been evaluating truth according to the wisdom of the world. Lately I’ve been realizing there are a couple of painfully obvious (if you’ve grown up in the church) Christian trump cards I often miss which can help to clear up a lot of those misconceptions. They are the Holy Spirit, and God’s glory.

How’s this work? Let me give you one misconception I saw no way around until recently. I felt like me sinning was necessary in order for me to be reminded of my need for the Savior. This was both borne out of and helped to perpetuate a pattern I get caught in where I may string together a few “good” days in which I’m being productive and not “sinning,” but I start to get an inflated view of myself (mixed with anxiety because I wonder how long it’ll last), and any sense of intimacy with God is counterfeit and forced. Then my sinful desire rears its ugly head (as it must when I’m not experiencing authentic satisfaction in the Lord to replace it) and gone is any hope that I’m a halfway decent human. But at least I was humiliated to the point of (re)turning to Jesus as my all-sufficiency, which is when I’m actually right with God, right? I still think that all too often that is what it takes to get to me, and God isn’t scared of my sins and will use them to His glory. But does that sound like an amazing life to you? It’s like, so glad to be a Christian so I can either be nervously distrustful of myself, or guilty. Why then would I share my faith with anybody? The love of my morality constrains me? That pattern doesn’t smack of the kind of perfection the designs of the Lord bear. That pattern is symptomatic of ultimately relying on myself, and “worshipping” either my moral uprightness or my cravings for the things of the world. There’s got to be a better way.

This is where the glory of the Lord becomes a corrective trump card. You know the Old Testament? Have you read about how people reacted when faced with God, before having Jesus to take the blow? The Israelites asked Moses to speak to them instead of God because they were afraid they’d die otherwise. Isaiah’s reaction before the Lord: “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Surely, if I’m meeting with the true God of the Bible in my quiet times, it will not take additional sin to convince me that I need Jesus! But what incredible love that I’ve been given Jesus! And why would I be so smitten with the world after an encounter with God? When you read your Bible or pray, do you seek to know the glory of God? Or do you look for how to have a more holy life, as if God will be impressed? I’ve been in desperate need of the corrective of God’s glory. Without it, I don’t live a holy life, good days or bad. And what merit is there in a holy life, if not for it being the glad response of someone who knows God’s holiness and love? That’s when it pleases God.

If what I have said sounds right to you, take these trump cards and use them to evaluate your functional beliefs: that you cannot get the job done, but Jesus did; that apart from the Holy Spirit giving you life, you’re spiritually dead and everything you do is a dead work; and that the reason anything makes sense is in the way it relates to God’s glory (a glory that God has unselfishly created us to share in, which is an impossible calling to live up to when we try to do it on our own–hence, it’s sin to try, for sin keeps us from the glory of God). Pray that God will help you see beyond the confines of the wisdom of the world. Then see if your seeming obstacles to believing the Bible remain. That’s not to be anti-intellectual. But if your concern is that I’m not giving human achievement its due, it’s probably because you know nothing of the glory of the Lord.

To close, let me offer a word of encouragement to the Christian who agrees with all of this (it’s pretty foundational stuff for being a Christian, so I hope you do) but questions knowing the glory of the Lord: you do, but you don’t. When you turn to Jesus, 2 Corinthians 3 says the veil that shelters you from the glory of God (so it’s a merciful veil to the unbeliever) is lifted, and you now see the glory (when you read the word and when you see other believers) and reflect it (don’t forget the source of the light, though). But at the same time, take comfort in Romans 8, particularly verses 23-25, which speak of us Christians as having received the first-fruits of the Spirit (I think that means just the tip of the iceberg?), giving us a hope for that which we don’t quite see yet, but will. If you want to be a Jew and ask for a sign (like an unmistakeable vision of God via the Holy Spirit), it ain’t likely to happen. But neither is it necessary.

And let me actually close with this song. I thought about compiling a list of the kinds of misconceptions these trump cards can set straight,  but Derek Webb does such an exceedingly beautiful job of it, why bother?

-Baggervais

While hovering over the void expanse of my mind, I stumbled upon an idea, and I’m putting it down in writing so I can’t so easily forget it.

March 3, 2014

Did you know I like to record music? Well I do. I don’t mention it very often because I’m not an actual musician, but it’s a hobby, and if I was a drug addict, it would be my anti-drug. I make dinky little recordings on my dinky little computer.

True confessions: the main reason I studied English was actually because I suddenly became obsessed with music my senior year of high school. Not knowing the first thing about music, English was the closest I could get to studying something remotely related, because there was no way someone was going to let me be a music major. I figured instead I could develop my sensibilities about words and lyrics and artful communication, in hopes that it might someday lend itself to some kind of involvement with songwriting. This is how an 18 year-old raised in an unprofessional family chooses a career.

It’s 10 years later though, and while I haven’t given up on songwriting, I don’t do anything to hone the skills. Other than record songs that already exist (which does help a bit). But without further ado, here’s the idea that came to me: write and record a collection of songs tracing the work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life, from the point of view of the Christian. It wouldn’t overtly be the telling of a single person’s story, and neither would the point of view be overt. The main point would be to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting , quickening, and transforming a man’s spirit, in building the church, and in glorifying God. But told in song from the human point of view, there’s such a wealth of emotionally and philosophically intriguing subject matter that I think would be easy enough to relate to for anybody. But to the redeemed person in whom the Holy Spirit is at work, the meaning will be clear and encouraging and convicting and inspiring. As the line goes in a favorite French movie of mine, “ça c’est de l’art, man.”

Here’s the rough outline I would want to stick to, start to finish:

Worldliness

  • Living indulgently, idol to idol
  • Realizing vanity, guilt
  • Living morally

Salvation

  • Realizing neediness, inability to be moral
  • Repentance/Dependence on Christ as substitution
  • “Sanctified” attraction to the world, celebration of Creation

Sanctification

  • Continuing to sin, repent, and sin again
  • Realizing self/world is still the idol, God the means
  • Asking God to change the heart’s treasure
  • Beginning to Love God for His Holiness
  • Repenting because of a knowledge of His Love and His Holiness
  • Christians loving others

Glorification

  • Wedding Feast of the Lamb/presentation of the bride to the Groom
  • Awe in the presence of God
  • Tending to the new Heavens and new Earth

There’s an album’s worth of songs in there. Since I’ll never make any kind of living off my music, I’m in no hurry to complete this project. But I’m excited to reflect on the work of the Holy Spirit as I try to write these songs, and hopefully I can stay motivated.

Feel free to steal my ideal if you’re excited to do the same. Knowing me, I don’t see myself having a finished product anytime inside of the next 10 years.

-Baggervais

I won’t go so far as to say devilish forces are at work…

January 17, 2014

…but dang, makes you think maybe there’s an art to being a psychic. Everyone on FB has been sharing that buzzfeed thing that tells you what city you should live in, so after enough reputable friends shared it, I decided I would fall for it. I got Cape Town, which has never really crossed my mind before. But what’s remarkable is how after answering a handful of questions about coffee, alcohol consumption, music tastes, and exercise habits they were able to produce this description of me:

You have never been able to sit still a single day in your life. An avid adventurer you are always looking for the most unconventional way to do things. You love city life, but couldn’t imagine life without getting out into nature every once in a while. Cape Town is calling.

You mean I’m a type? While it feels slightly disappointing to be so predictable, everything they said is absolutely correct. We must be careful to keep their technology out of the hands of marketers or face a future of ads that are perfectly and irresistibly tailored for us. Probably not so unlike how devilish forces can place temptations along our path.

-Baggervais

Feminemesism.

January 13, 2014

So feminism has been a bit of a pet topic of mine lately in case you couldn’t tell. I feel like I should address that.

Why do I hate girls so much? Well it’s actually because the feminist Jews in the media are trying to take over the world and only a few of us are on to them. I therefore think we should throw any Hebrew women born after the 1950’s into the Nile in case they’re feminists to see if they float. Also I resent how women are now empowered and employable and it means I have to try harder 1) to get a job and 2) to get a wife, because a woman’s sole means and purpose in life isn’t serving man like the good ol’ days. Also I’m just insecure and I hate having my privilege threatened. Also I’m looking for someone to blame my problems on.

Now that I’ve confirmed all your suspicions and you’ve stopped reading, let me actually begin by saying that it doesn’t matter if I address why I like opposing feminism. The fact is, I’m just some person on the Internet. Furthermore, you don’t even read my blog. Nobody does. If I publish a blog post in the forest, nobody reads it and it doesn’t make a noise. When I said you stopped reading after having all your suspicions confirmed I was lying, because you never started reading in the first place, and your suspicions were confirmed to your own satisfaction a long time ago about why anybody opposes feminism.

I know you’re not interested in why I hold to my criticisms, and I don’t know why you would be. I write this post mainly to explore how I feel about it for myself, because sometimes I do feel like I dwell way too much on feminism and should just let it be, while other times it seems like a worthy cause (in some of its forms) to oppose.

To be sure, a percentage of my motivations are good old fashioned battle-of-the-sexes type petty feelings. I grew up with 2 older sisters and giving womankind any edge meant giving up ground to my sisters. Then there were the horrible injustices I suffered as a kid: like there being a “take your daughter to work day” but no “take your son to work day” (we’re talking a free day away from school; heck, “show your son it’s okay for him to be a stay-at-home mom day” would have been even better); or there being a limit to the number of sanctioned men’s sports programs at my school because it had to match the number the girls had too (even though the amount of boys interested vastly outnumbered the girls). But even more forceful in my emotional reaction against feminism are later-onset feelings that if I’m not appreciated for any uniquely male qualities, what value do I have to any woman? If someone’s in competition with me for the same role in society/family, I can tell you they aren’t going to be glad when I fulfill that role. Hence, to some extent (and this is where I’m relieved nobody reads this, because I cringe a little at hearing myself say it) I’d rather women not try to excel in athletics, breadwinning, etc… I’m not about to tell them they can’t or shouldn’t if it’s their thing (and for some it is legitimately their thing and I can respect that) or they need to for some reason, but by and large I would like to reserve some sectors where I can contribute and be appreciated rather than be competed against. You might say I’m needlessly creating a gender dichotomy or something, and that rather than asking what male qualities I have to offer I should be asking which human qualities. That might be a good argument if I was bisexual, but I’m not and most people aren’t. I like women for some traits they have which men don’t have, and I guess I project that it would work similarly for women in their attraction to men. Men just aren’t pretty and can’t incubate babies; we need some way to show off. As base as it may seem, that’s potentially my best non-theological grounds for why I side with “complementarianism” (which I feel like isn’t at odds with equality, and therefore the term “egalitarianism” creates a straw man concept of complementarianism, which I propose can be avoided if we start referring to “egalitarianism” by the more apt name “competitionaryanraceism” (let’s see who’s so quick to jump on that bandwagon, hehe)). If there are indeed roles men are usually better suited for than women, then I don’t need to be worried that my role will be usurped–but my concern is more that I won’t be appreciated. Yes, boohoo, I know. But who doesn’t want the same?

Hold on a sec, let me interrupt the flow of this post to reconsider the scope of what I want to write about. Okay, so one of my favorite thinkers is Tim Keller, and he (maybe in citing someone else) talks about how most of our big opinions about life are based on three factors: emotional; social; intellectual. I’ve just given a pretty thorough treatment of the emotional impetus behind my position, and had planned on treating its social and intellectual framework as well. But in the interest of time and actually finishing a post I’ve begun, I’m going to limit myself to just the emotional for now. The rest can come some other day if you’re lucky.

Looking back on what I’ve written, it’s a shame this entry isn’t filled with a little more beauty and wonder. Mostly what I’ve hit on–in an effort to be honest about my motives–seems to be a bunch of grievances and reactions to feeling my masculinity attacked. But any exploration of my fondness for gender differences is incomplete without mentioning the things that make me fall in love with a girl. Some women just exude this tenderness that sends shivers up your spine, even if you’ve only interracted with them in the most casual, everyday kind of situation. The compassion girls have that allows them to immediately sympathize with and comfort someone who’s hurting is something my own cumbersome heart simply can’t come close to duplicating. Girls at their unselfish best can seem to know what you’re feeling and what you need before you do, and sometimes the way they care just breaks you of the masculine emotional fortitude you’re struggling to maintain and provides the salve you actually need. This delicate feminine softness is what I can’t help but admire most about women, much more than if they have a high powered career or have managed to prove themselves equal to men by “masculine” measures. Sure, maybe they can match guys, but I’d hate for it to come at the cost of those uniquely feminine qualities.

The last thing I have to say concerns the ‘s’ word: submission. I think it’s beautiful when a woman submits to her husband, not for no reason, but “out of reverence for Christ.” Outside of that context, I have no grounds to argue that women should submit. But when she desires to support her husband and love him so selflessly because she’s confident in everything she has in Christ and wants to help her man know that same love so much so that she’ll yield to him as her authority, it glorifies God. That takes more “strength” of character than competing with him. But again, it makes no sense to do that if Christ isn’t in the picture, so when I speak against certain aspects of feminism or egalitarianism, it’s to Christians as an appeal to their reverence for Christ. And really, in a general sense, that’s the primary reason I would make any kind of moral declaration (whether they apply to men, gays, gluttons, whoever), for otherwise everything is meaningless.

Let me conclude with a link to make this an official baggervais post. I present to you the greatest example of 21st Century sexual paradox there could ever be: a man venturing into a lesbian stronghold and making women swoon like they’re hopelessly in heat.

Also, I realize I wrote all this without defining feminism. Who could? But you know what I mean. If you don’t then oh well, you’re not reading this anyways, so why do I need to define it for you?

-Baggervais