Disability Article

Great comment by phil on a NYTimes disability article:

Every person begins in a state of total dependence and most end life in some level of the same. one day I will be disabled.
I think the real problem is the wretched idea that the most human among us should be independent. I refuse to dehumanize another because their level of dependence on others is greater than mine. There would be no need for a pride movement among the more dependent if we started accepting our interdependence and if we humanized people, not based on their abilities, but based on their innate humanity.

 

The Insidious Ableism of the Therapeutic Industrial Complex

Therapists demonize neediness and dependence.  Somehow we are all supposed to live in a world where we can live a self contained hyperindividualistic existence.  Unfortunately economic reality dictates that many of us can’t and certainly most of us with disabilities can’t.  What we can’t help being is what we’re not supposed to be.  If that isn’t ableism I don’t know what is.  It’s even worse than religion.  At least with religion if you submit to their tenants and perform their rituals they usually treat you as someone you’re supposed to be.

And why is dependence a bad thing?  Calling someone dependent on others is almost a slur.  If the capability to be autonomous wasn’t out of reach for a large portion of our generation then maybe you could make the case for it.  But it’s not.  It’s just another way to kick us while we’re already down.  That’s what our culture is good at, kicking us when we’re down.  Those on top are loved and lifted up.  Everyone else can go die in a fire.

Why I Reject Forgiveness Culture

STIR article that says what I feel way better than I could:

When I say that I am against forgiveness, I am not judging individuals who choose to forgive. If doing so helps you, then by all means, forgive. What I abhor is a culture that places demands on victims and survivors, insisting that we are not whole until we forgive. Forgiveness culture implies that betrayers and abusers can expect to be forgiven — they can hurt and harm and rage — and should their targets decline to forgive, they can rest smug in the assurance that the refusal reflects a flaw in their victims, not in themselves.

Yes You Hate Me

Article on Christians’ reaction to the Orlando Shooting:

Believing that I don’t have the right to exist exactly as I am is hatred. Fighting against my civil rights is hatred. Believing that Romans 1 applies to me and that I’m therefore “worthy of death” is hatred. Referring to my existence as an abomination— which has happened to me multiple times over the last few days– is hatred. One man on my public facebook page told me I was abomination, that my existence was just as evil the eyes of God as mass murder, but then two comments later said that he “loved” me and “mourned the deaths in Orlando”!

Three Poisonous Vestiges of Christian Implementation That Live On

Here are three poisonous vestiges of Christian implementation* that people who are no longer in the faith still often exhibit:

The protestant reward ethic.  There was nothing wrong with the protestant work ethic initially, especially when one had a guaranteed way to be a gainful member of society.  When there was a farm there were avenues to be productive by default.  In industrialization where there were jobs as well.  But as time went on implied reward for hard work became part of this ethic.  Eventually the rewards were seen as more important than the work.  A person who is working a tough retail job will be looked down upon in church while a person who got an easy better paying job through connections won’t be (little wonder working class people have been leaving the church).  If you can’t find a job you’ll be treated very bad in the church, particularly if you’re male.

Intolerance.  The intolerance and pettiness of Christian implementation is alive and well in those that have left the faith.  Now these people are just directing their intolerance different places.  Take the flak the moderators of the anti porn subreddit are getting.  Or how shallow and vapid our celebrity culture is and how gleeful we all are to pounce on anyone who offers an opinion that differs from our subculture’s dominant narrative.  The punk live-and-let-live ethos was never a part of Christian implementation (at least in America where people were Christian by default) and unsurprisingly is not part of post-Christian culture either.

Loaded metanarratives.  Most stories are not neutral spaces, particularly the important stories in our lives.  They are are loaded.  There is a right side and a wrong side to them and you’d better expend all your effort making sure you get and stay on the right side of them.  The most obvious of these is the Christian story which presents you with the right side (heaven) and the wrong side (hell), and a choice.  What happened in the late 1800’s is evangelists had sons who went into advertising.  Now the stories involved always being the bridesmaid and never the bride, just for not using the advertised mouthwash.  Because of the massive amount of money to be made, the best of art and science got poured into advertising and it became so good that rebellion became commodified.  Consumer culture may be even more pernicious than religion because by design it doesn’t allow doubt, but does so by making you think you’re thinking for yourself.  The shame and rejection once characterized by hell is mediated through peers channeled from the mass media.

* I say Christian implementation because people defending the faith seem to think that Christianity was pure and got corrupted and thus the corrupted element (including Christians’ behavior) doesn’t count for anything when ascertaining the value of the faith

 

Romanticizing Suffering Part 2

Suffering’s fallout hits men hard.  It’s easier for women to have romantic views of suffering than it is for men.  This is because, while suffering is horrible for either gender, the fallout of suffering hits men particularly bad.  This is because suffering often makes a man a less vocationally successful member of society and there is a lot more stigma for being an unsuccessful man than there is for being an unsuccessful woman.  Men are also expected to be strong and suffering saps strength and often engenders behaviors that in women would be rewarded but in men are seen as weak.  Not that suffering doesn’t hit women hard, it does but in ways that I wouldn’t understand because I’m not a woman.

Suffering hits Christianity at its weakest line of defense.  The problem of evil might not be the biggest problem religious people have to grapple with but it is one of the most existential and a problem everyone has grappled with.  People running the faith made a calculation and decided the best defense is a good offense.  So they turned the tables and called pain good.  This works because generally the people who experience the least pain hold the most power.  And those people drive the narrative.

See: Romanticizing Suffering

 

Consumerist Shaming

Little disgusts me more than consumerist shaming.  Looking down on people for valuing wealth and material things.  This is so hypocritical because we all need to have a certain level of material success to be accepted in this society (especially as you get into your 30’s).  You get all these articles saying how consumeristic people are using material things to fill some hole in their soul that could be filled with “love” or whatever the new vague in vogue trope is.  Let’s face it, in American money is the state religion.  People who are unabashedly consumeristic make us well aware of this fact and so we like to denigrate them because we want to feel better than them even though we would be the exact same way were we given more money.

Why Therapists Should Talk Politics

Great NYTimes article on people always blaming themselves for toxic situations:

When people can’t live up to the increasingly taxing demands of the economy, they often blame themselves and then struggle to live with the guilt. You see this same tendency, of course, in a variety of contexts, from children of divorce who feel responsible for their parents’ separation to the “survivor guilt” of those who live through disasters. In situations that may seem impossible or unacceptable, guilt becomes a shield for the anger you otherwise would feel: The child may be angry with her parents for divorcing, the survivor may be angry with those who perished.

 

And a great comment by James H:

Sometimes people are depressed because the world is dying. Those who read the science of climate change and the politics of multinational corporations are trying to come to grips with the impending end of civilization and environmental diversity as we have known them since the beginning of human consciousness. How we approach those large possibilities should spawn a new entire new therapeutic focus that tries to help humans deal with their own extinction.

 

Trump really resonates

There is a fascinating Reddit post on Trump’s appeal to the working class.  I think the conventional thinking of Republican strategists was that the rich white people would call the shots and the poor white people would fall in line voting against their economic interests as long as the conservative media played up culture war issues.  Trump shows that logic no longer works.  Poor white people want what all people want, jobs.  Trade deals, immigration, and offshoring have gutted the kinds of jobs these people could get.  And Trump is the only candidate that promises to fight against these things.  As a web developer who has to price their work to compete with companies in India (where the cost of living is magnitudes cheaper), Trump’s message really resonates with me.  His antics have pushed me away from ever voting for him but I can understand why someone would give him their vote.

It’s just funny to me the Republican elites wringing their hands over losing a block of voters they never gave a rip about in the first place.  The poor cohort of the Republican party has decided to abandon the rich cohort.

Unexpected Evangelism Roadblocks

matchbox_out

People trying to get millennials into or back to the faith have their work cut out for them.  Sometimes for reasons they don’t expect:

Psychotropic medications have done a better job at giving us hope, strength, and peace than our experience of God has.  Anti anxiety drugs like Ativan and Xanax give us peace.  Antidepressants like Prozac give us strength and hope.  Antipsychotics like Zyprexa and Seroquel keep demons at bay.  Experience with mental illness and mental illness treatment instills a kind of kinetic materialism; for those of us inside of it it’s difficult to believe we are any more than our brain (keep in mind as many as one in four millennials have a mental illness).  Add to that a lot of us don’t trust our minds and are pretty metacognitive.  This allows us to see the “man behind the curtain” in our supposedly spiritual experiences.

Screen time and isolation have meant that social skills have atrophied.  The same social skills needed to interact with people are ones needed to interact with God.  People without social skills such as those on the autistic spectrum have much higher rates of non religiosity than the general population.  On a more practical level group cohesion is a prerequisite for spreading and nurturing religiosity and in populations with impaired social skills this is a more difficult thing to achieve.

We trust God the way we trust a person.  We keep a stiff upper lip and tell people we don’t need God but deeper down we need him too much.  We took God up on his promises of hope and sustenance because we didn’t have anything to hope for in this world (no career, no stable relationships, no house).  However, when nothing materialized we fell away, but it was because we were often so close to the edge we couldn’t afford to give cart blanch and unlimited second chances to those who didn’t come through.  Rejecting those who don’t come through is a sign of respect (for their word) and we’d expect the same if the situation was reversed and we didn’t come through for them.  This applies to all relationships including our relationship with God.

Meekness is seen as weakness and selected against, even in Christian circles.  We are steeped in culture where people do the most self serving thing and the only way to preempt this is to overpower them.  We’ll do things for nothing like working for free at an internship to get our foot in the door for jobs but we are well aware virtue is weakness.  Then you have women complaining Christian guys are “too nice” and people who care about the state of the world being denigrated as “social justice warriors”.  The only situations where one can be both virtuous and strong is when there are a critical mass of virtuous people around them.  For example at a job which is OK with and supportive of a person having a mental illness.  Or a church where people are actually helping each other.  It’s like the prisoner’s dilemma where if both parties cooperate, there is a good outcome, and if both parties defect, there is a good outcome, but the party who defects always has the upper hand so naturally everyone ends up defecting.

Our definition of truth is often reactionary; a reaction against the way we’ve been lied to.  How we are lied to has informed how we reckon truth.  We have been marketed to and fed B.S. basically from the cradle.  We push against this.  Some of us turn into empiricists, if something is put forth and the evidence says otherwise, then we trust what the evidence points to (when we were 3 we saw that McDonald’s burgers didn’t look like what they did in the commercials).  Others of us come to the conclusion that since we’ve been swimming in a sea of lies for so long, there mustn’t be any truth at all.  Some of us even want to be lied to because we no longer see the truth as a safe space.  What doesn’t usually end up happening is any of us seeing any beauty at all in truth.

Shame has supplanted guilt as the primary corrective force in society.  Religion is largely powered by guilt but modern culture is more powered by shame.  Boomers can’t fathom why a lot of us don’t feel guilt for sleeping around but get worked up over still having a flip phone.  The moral dynamic has changed under their noses.  Shame drives everything partly as an artifact of consumerism (you got shamed into buying things, not guilted into buying them).  Part of the culture’s power is it’s just so potent and pervasive that the shame of resisting it crowds out any guilt we might have felt over what we were going to do.  With guilt there is the possibility of absolution, with shame absolution is a farce.  This makes the gospel, largely a cycle of guilt and absolution, seem strange to us.  We don’t feel guilty and we know we will never be forgiven for the shameful things we do (that is part of what made the Bart Simpson permanent record folder joke so funny).

We often don’t have (and often don’t want) a car.  It’s true one can get rides initially for church functions but as people have become more atomized it’s gotten harder finding people who will give consistent rides places.  Public transportation runs the least on Sundays and even then many churches are in the nicer parts of the suburbs where there is none.

The thought of living forever (even in heaven) creeps a lot of us out.  We’ve been taught not to trust bliss.  Bliss could be bipolar mania or a trip on meth.  Either way there will be consequences.  Eventually the heat death of the universe will happen and there will be nothing again.  We are at peace with the prospect of eventually not existing.