Monday, January 25, 2016


At peace, sunset over the Pacific
I'm normally a sanguine fellow, especially for someone who's job it is to herd cats for a living.  In part, I attempt to remain grounded in my faith, which encourages one to abide in peace and view the world as a place far different than the Kingdom; in part, this is because I admire the "serene resignation" of the Stoic school of philosophy.  I more or less expect things to go awry and can be pleasantly surprised when they don't.

However, as our culture coarsens and makes gods of nonsense, from "reality" TV characters to ill-informed science, I'm finding myself in need of some catharsis, as these are things that damage my serenity.  Hence, today's list.  See if you don't agree.

Beef #1:  People on Twitter who demonstrate that American education, an institution that used to range from adequate to exemplary, and served as the gateway for the working class into "white-collar" employment, is now beyond repair.

How so, you ask?  Mainly through the staggering number of "Tweets" [infantile term, by the way] and online comments that reveal that American adults have no grasp of spelling [despite that their computers/phones will correct their spelling for them], punctuation, subject-verb agreement, or other points of grammar that permit the successful construction of a sentence.  No one on Twitter is writing an essay, as the format only allows 140 characters, yet even this brevity permits gross crimes against common communication.  For heaven's sake, at least spell your vulgarities correctly, will you?

As language disintegrates, so does the logical thinking that is mated to it.

Beef #2:  Colleagues who repeat exactly what they heard that morning on MSNBC, NPR, or read in the New York Times, and present it as that beyond common discussion.

This isn't to say that the information that they are repeating is incorrect [sometimes it is specious], but opinions presented by the media are just that, and all opinions are worth a challenge, or at least a hearty examination.  There is an old saying among reporters that seems to have been forgotten: "If your mother says she loves you, check the facts."

What exacerbates this issue is that a colleague will make an ideologically sweeping statement and expect it to remain un-challenged and that all present will implicitly agree.  There is no room in their imagination for an alternative perspective.  Not only does this erase any sort of discussion, but it seems contrary to Biblical teaching, especially as those who don't agree are regarded as less morally and intellectually evolved.  It was this attitude on the part of our leadership that broke the greater church and has placed us in a position of suspension and schism.  "Respecting the dignity of every human being" means doing so not just with those with whom you agree.

I promise, with the next colleague who utters the fatuous expression, "If one does X, that's just what ISIS wants", I will fight the urge to regard them as having the intellect of livestock and strive to respect their dignity, if not their knowledge of the world.

Beef #3:  Millionaires who create opportunities to give awards to one another.  Repeatedly.

Ordinarily, I'm able to ignore such events, but when one group of millionaires is aggrieved that the other group of millionaires hasn't presented them with any awards, and it suddenly means that the entire nation and all of its people are guilty of the onerous practice labeled "racism",  I have a problem.

This is especially true as I will now have to be conversant with the issue, and even know the names of the aggrieved and why they are thought to be essential to our general society, and will be urged to "dialogue" about it with my congregation.  [By the way, it's "have a dialogue" or "engage in dialogue", rather than just "dialogue".  Another indication of the disintegration of our language.]  What an odious chore that is.

Just to be fair, allow me to add that almost 1% of the U.S. population is American Indian, or "Native American", and no tribal actor has ever won an acting award.  [Chief Dan George was nominated for "Little Big Man" in 1970, and Graham Green for "Dances With Wolves" in 1991 and "The Green Mile" in 1999.]  Since we use math these days to determine eligibility for all variety of honors, that would mean that there should be 3.5 nominees over the 88 years of the Academy Awards, and we are .5 short.  I'm not sure nominating the same guy twice counts, either.  Also, why no winners, huh?  That's it, I'm boycotting.

Beef #4:  Cleveland sports.  Why did the Cavs, who have a winning record and are leading in their division and are on track to win sixty games this season and finished second in the league championship last year, have to fire their coach in the middle of the season?  No coach has ever been fired for having a winning record before.

Okay, I feel better now.  Thanks.