AZspot

blue bits. red rocks.

But when one looks at the state of Republican public opinion (especially among the likely caucus and primary voters), at the consistent and persistent messages coming from the information sources they follow, and at the supine nature of congressional leaders and business leaders in countering extremism, it is not at all likely that what passes for mainstream, problem-solving conservatism will dominate the Republican Party anytime soon. The Existential Battle for the Soul of the GOP

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

Mr. Springsteen pointedly refers to himself as a “writer”—not a songwriter, mind you, but a writer. Recently he was caught on camera reading, pencil in hand, a book called Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche, a collection of short biographies of a dozen major philosophers. Though heart-warming to those of his fans who love the liberal arts, the photo was not shocking to devotees of Mr. Springsteen (a group that includes the author of this essay). Mr. Springsteen, who grew up in a house where the life of the mind was unimportant, and who only graduated high school, is an autodidact, whose has read more and more as he has grown older and whose interests have ranged from the fiction of John Steinbeck, Walker Percy, and Flannery O’Connor to works on American history and music. This reading, along with the experience that comes with age, has naturally brought him increased wisdom and added gravitas to his lyric-writing. Bruce Springsteen: American Gadfly

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. Socrates

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼
☼   ☼      ☼   ☼
☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

Even amongst We The People (me too), we have this “fuck the poor” attitude. We complain about how our taxes are supporting “welfare queens,” or “lazy” people on unemployment or disability. We play “blame the victim” with those who lost their houses due to the mortgage mess, or were downsized from a company through no fault of their own. We say, “had they been more careful” or “they should’ve been saving their money”. How quickly we forget that a catastrophic illness to us or a family member could wipe out our “wealth” in an instant. Fuck the Poor

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

What if the public speech on Facebook and Twitter is more akin to a conversation happening between two people at a restaurant? Or two people speaking quietly at home, albeit near a window that happens to be open to the street? And if more than a billion people are active on various social networking applications each week, are we saying that there are now a billion public figures? When did we agree to let media redefine everyone who uses social networks as fair game, with no recourse and no framework for consent? What Is Public?

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼
☼   ☼      ☼   ☼
☼   ☼      ☼   ☼
☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

[A]mong humans, the fact that no one ever feels they are the aggressor is because everything is always reciprocal. The slightest little difference, in one direction or another, can trigger the escalation to extremes. The aggressor has always already been attacked. Why are relations of rivalry never seen as symmetrical? Because people always have the impression that the other is the first to attack, that they are never the ones who begin, though in a way they are always the one. Individualism is a formidable lie. Rene Girard

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼
☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

But using cheap labor—and vulnerable labor—is a business practice that goes as far back as you can trace private enterprise, and unions emerged in response. In the universities, cheap, vulnerable labor means adjuncts and graduate students. Graduate students are even more vulnerable, for obvious reasons. The idea is to transfer instruction to precarious workers, which improves discipline and control but also enables the transfer of funds to other purposes apart from education. The costs, of course, are borne by the students and by the people who are being drawn into these vulnerable occupations. But it’s a standard feature of a business-run society to transfer costs to the people. In fact, economists tacitly cooperate in this. So, for example, suppose you find a mistake in your checking account and you call the bank to try to fix it. Well, you know what happens. You call them up, and you get a recorded message saying “We love you, here’s a menu.” Maybe the menu has what you’re looking for, maybe it doesn’t. If you happen to find the right option, you listen to some music, and every once and a while a voice comes in and says “Please stand by, we really appreciate your business,” and so on. Finally, after some period of time, you may get a human being, who you can ask a short question to. That’s what economists call “efficiency.” By economic measures, that system reduces labor costs to the bank; of course it imposes costs on you, and those costs are multiplied by the number of users, which can be enormous—but that’s not counted as a cost in economic calculation. And if you look over the way the society works, you find this everywhere. So the university imposes costs on students and on faculty who are not only untenured but are maintained on a path that guarantees that they will have no security. All of this is perfectly natural within corporate business models. It’s harmful to education, but education is not their goal. Chomsky: How America’s Great University System Is Getting Destroyed

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

It drives me bonkers when Baptists, Pentecostals, Anabaptists, and all sorts of other low church Protestants dismiss tradition, creeds, bishops, and the rest offhand as being “man-made.” This they contrast with the Bible. What?? This just in: The Bible is man-made, too. I have no idea how much of “the finger of God” in Exodus 31:18 is an anthropomorphism, but, even treating that as literally as possible that God carved Ancient Near Eastern characters in rock using lightning out of His phalanges, it’s the only place in Scripture where God independently crafted the message. God with a glowing beard didn’t sit down on an otherworldly chair at a supernatural desk with a heavenly ballpoint pen containing radiant ink and get busy writing on a spiritual scroll, then have the angelic Postmaster General de-transfigure the thing before delivering down to the earthlings. Nor does it mean the Holy Spirit put men in trances, then dictated a really “mannish” (thank you, Francis Schaeffer) sounding message complete with poor grammar in places. Yes, I absolutely affirm that the Bible is divinely-inspired, but we’ve got to be careful with that. Divine-inspiration doesn’t mean it’s any less the product of man nor that it overruled/overshadowed human thinking. As far as I’m concerned, both of those are blatant false dichotomies that have no business within the christian faith. The Bible is special revelation; the divinely-inspired holy Scriptures as communicated, i.e. written and edited, by human authors living in precise cultural-historical contexts. It’s both/and rather than either/or. An admittedly limited analogy is Jesus, the incarnate Word: simultaneously fully God and fully man. In the same way that orthodox Christology insists that His two natures are inconfused, unchangeable, indivisible, and inseparable (dirty Council of Chalcedon…), so I’m convinced Scripture’s two origins must be upheld. The Bible isn’t only man-made, but it most certainly is man-made. The Bible is “Man-Made”

A GNT creation ©2007–2014