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The Animist side of Christianity


“In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.”
“Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.” – C.S. Lewis -the voyage of the Dawn Treader

dawn treaderRecently I encountered an article on Facebook from ‘the week’, a to me unknown publication, which argued that Paganism might be making a comeback in the US. Now while a compelling case could be made for this idea, I must say that with this specific article even my Pagan FB friends didn’t seem to take the article very seriously. I could also remark that the word ‘come-back’ is a bit weird since ancient European or Mid-Eastern Paganism has never been present on North-American soil as a majority religion. Not even in the pre-Columbian  Viking settlement, since Leif Erikson was  actually an Orthodox Christian, but that’s besides the point

Although no-one seemed to have been particularly impressed by the article in the the interesting and quite respectful Facebook conversation it created on my wall, and I’m not going into all the issues here (write your own blogpost about Paganism and scapegoating if you feel inclined to do so, I will surely read it and probably even share it!), there was one thing that caught my eyes because I’ve been meaning to write about for a while now. And that ‘thing’ is the first difference given in the text between a ‘Christian’ worldview and a Pagan one: in Paganism, according to the text, we have a ‘world full of agencies’, as they call it:

“As seen in the ancient Greek, Celtic, and Norse traditions, the pagan idea most alien to the modern worldview is probably the belief that the entire cosmos is animated by agencies.”

I must confess that the word ‘agencies’ sounded for a second like they were talking about dull bureaucratic entities, but since those are never very animating in any sense of the world that can’t be what they meant. What they do mean something like a world animated with spirits, or a world full of persons, some of which are humans. In other words, basically they’re talking about an Animist worldview.

And here comes my main point: while some people might not like the idea of an Animist worldview (some of which are connected to Modernism, others probably to fear of the unknown), this is not at all something that needs to be opposed to Christianity. But indeed i’s rather something antithetical to modernism and its philosophical forefathers, and thus also partly to the forms of Christianity that either helped forming modernity or in a secondary move also those that have been shaped by it.
It probably starErasmus 2ted with Erasmus or even Scotus and was very prevalent in the Renaissance tendency to get rid of everything viewed as ‘superstition’. And so in Christian modernism (which includes a lot of protestant traditions) we find a fear and adversity to any even remotely animist idea. A commenter on the first post of the series on ‘faerie’ on Dr. Richard Becks  experimental theology blog gives us a nice example of this resistance to ascribing any animist dimension to this Reality we live in:

When we re-enchant the World, what are we doing? Part of the Reformation’s emphasis was to strip the world of fantasy, not of spiritual. Peasants no longer had to fear that an irate saint of the local bridge would drown them if they did not drop a florin in the toll-box. Of course, the agents of the so-called Enlightenment took the critique without their source. There were no such things as spirits, devils, angels, gods etc. nothing that man’s “ever-watchful eye” could not prove.

(Note that the guy is going way too far for a pure reformation or actually any small ‘o orthodox Christian’ worldview. Luther himself would be quite shocked to hear that there are no devils for example…)

The main fear here, apart from a modernist control issue and a humanist ‘man conquers nature’ ideology, is probably that of idolatry: that the ‘agencies’ if we acknowledge them will become too important, and that they might take the place God only deserves. This is a valid concern, and people who do acknowledge those realities do sometimes fall into this trap indeed. But an argument out of fear of consequences is never a good way to accept the reality of something.
I will also add here that strangely enough the same concerns are never uttered towards human power, systems, and Winkian Powers like Mammon, while those are recognised and their claims to legitimacy are sometimes uncontested. No matter if they are seen as personal or not, their influence stays the same, and keeps us from God and from seeking first the kingdom and Hid righteousness all the same…

So it might go completely against the grain of a lot of modernist Christianity, buDyingDryadt it certainly is my intuition that recognising this ‘Animist dimension’ of the created world is not really a heterodox oddity of some ‘progressive’ green modern thinker, lost in basckwards synchretism and making up stuff that has no basis in either the bible or Christian tradition or something else fringe and new. I’d rather say that it is just a part of Christianity, even though it might be hidden for eyes that cannot see it. It is very clearly present in the bible, and moreover has been often voiced by the Christian tradition.

And I’m not only thinking about angels in heavely realms here… (I do believe that Charismatic Christianity and Pentecostalism were among other things part of a movement of the Spirit to bring this and other spiritual dimensions back into modernist Christianity, lest it be rendered completely impotent as a dead muggle religion, that often has been moved only in the private space altogether.)

As one of my Facebook-commenters said: “I might be simple-minded, but, how could you read the Psalms and not be basically OK with animism?”. There are lots of verses in the psalms that seem to ascribe agency and the capacity of worshipping God to animals, trees and the elements of nature. When I was a kid one of my favourite songs was about trees that clap their hands for God.

We do take this as pure metaphor as moderns. I don’t know if that’s the best way of viewing it though. There is a rather animist worldview in the background of most of the bible that we just dismiss as moderns. The problem for Christianity is not that the world isn’t full of living beings, but that the are not to be seen or treated as divine in themselves. This is the danger of animism.

zone50But I would say that it’s quite clear most moderns outside of the New Age and Neo-Pagan niche are not at all in danger of divinizing nature, thus and giving so much respect to creation that it diminishes our respect for the Creator. Au contraire mes amis, most of us can need a healthy dose of realisation that Nature is Alive. That we humans are not everything. And also that God Himself is Present and Neo-Paganism (as well as New Age, but also the rise of Charismatic Christianity on the other side) is indeed an answer to this reductionist modernist desacralisation and disenchantment. Smashing the mystery out of Christianity (something that goes back at least to the reformation), is a good way to sterilise religion and in the end kill it from within. Too much Bultmann-manouvres and Christianity dissolves completely…

I’m not saying anything new here. The pre-modern church has always believed in intelligent non-human agents in the cosmos and in nature. Even the Pope seems to agree with that, which can be read through the lines in his ecological encyclical Laudaro Si (read it here Did you ever think of a time when we would read Papal encyclicals on the internet?). The title alone is a strong reference to the Animist dimension, as it is a quote from Saint Francis’ canticle of the sun.

The canticle (just as psalm 148 for example) is a perfect place to see how the Animist dimension is fitted into a Christian worldview. The elements and the creatures (yes, even death) are seen as persons, fellow creatures that all are made by the same Creator, and that all worship the same Creator. And while it starts very certainly with an affirmation of a very Monotheist God-centered Christianity, all the other things are fitted neatly in there too. So let’s meditate on this text and psalm 148 for a while to close our thinking about the Animist dimension of Christianity… (This translation comes from wikipedia. )zonnelied

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.
To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.
Amen

So what do you think?

peace

Bram

Monotheism or monopolytheism?


Today we’ll talk about the funny word in the title. ‘Mono-polytDBH experienceheism’ is a word used by David Bentley Hart in his rather heavy philosophical tome ‘the experience of God’, a book that tries to explain what the word ‘God’ God means in the monotheistic traditions . The word mono-polytheosm describes the idea that God is a being more like the gods of polytheism, but still the only one in his species. That’s the way in which I will use it anyway.  (Hart also uses it more or less as a synonym for ‘theistic personalism’, but that’s a term and discussion that I feel no connection with at all and will leave for others. Philosophy, theoretical theology and a multitude of deep words can be very important one one hand to really say something meaningful about Reality, but on the other hand one can easily drift off to get lost in conceptual words too that have not much relevance, or even reality behind them in any way at all…)

To start I offer a quote from Hart for a definition of the term:

“a view of God not conspicuously different from the polytheistic picture of the gods as merely very powerful discrete entities who possess a variety of distinct attributes that lesser entities also possess, if in smaller measure; it differs from polytheism, as far as I can tell, solely in that it posits the existence of only one such being. It is a way of thinking that suggest that God, since he is only a particular instantiation of various concepts and properties, is logically dependent on some more comprehensive reality embracing both him and other beings.” (DBH, the experience of God, p 127-128):

To be honest, Hart might always require slow reading and re-reading. One of my FB friends recently assured me that she needs a dictionary too when reading him, and unlike me she has English as her first language and is quite intelligent.

Back to Mono/polytheism. The main question is what I am talking about when I as a Christian and Monotheist use the word ‘God’. In a classical monotheist definition as used in Abrahamic faiths, and according to Hart also in other tradition like certain forms of philosophical Hinduism, this is something completely different from what is meant with the ‘gods’ in a polytheist fashion. Really ‘God’ has no plural and can’t have one either. God is the Creator, the Source and Ground of Being. The One, both transcendent an immanent in all of the multiverse. If the creation story is true in any way, as well as the rest of the bible, God is Universal (quite probably multiversal even, I’d add). Surely while I believe that Christians have special revelation of God in the person of Christ, other people have concepts of Him too. Not only the Abrahamic names of Yahweh, Allah but also the Manitou or Great Spirit of the original Americans, or the Hinduist Brahman or Ọlọ́run in Yoruba are ways to describe this Multiversal Creator. Yes, some things will differ, some pictures will be better than others, but there is One God behind all of existence. And all our talk of this Ultimate Reality is just primitive babytalk anyway, even in the most refined theological schools.

Some philosophers or theologians, for example in Christian Orthodoxy,  go as far as saying that God does not ‘exist’ because His mode of being is completely different, as he is the Source of Being, and maybe even Existence and Being itself. But all of these words are just mere fingerscratches on the surface of something bigger than the sun…

The problem is that not all people define God in this way. In certain views, which are those I would see as ‘monopolytheism’ we do have a “God” that is not completely the source of all Being, and depending on other things, and subject to certain natural laws (or ‘higher magic’?) that maybe even preceded it and that it can’t go against. Which means that our “God” still has a Higher Reality to depend on and answer too somehow…

This certainly seems to be an existing picture of God that I sometimes encounter in several schools of theology, especially in certain schools of modernist ‘liberal’ theology, probably including process theology, but similar sentiments can be uttered by ‘conservative’ Christians too sometimes. It also seems related to -though probably incompatible with- a form of deism in which God made the laws of nature and afterwards isn’t able to break them even if He wanted. (The lengths some people go to combine abstract philosophic notions of God with cramped modernist assertions against miracles can be quite amusing…) demiurgeThe problem is that we end up with something that is more like a demiurge than the Creator. (And if there’s a demiurge, maybe there’s a Higher God in the background that’s more important…)

It’s also often the picture atheists paint of the “God” they reject. Well, no disagreement with them, since I reject it too, but that seems very hard to explain sometimes… It is this “God” too that is rejected in the simplistic ‘only atheists of one god more’ argument that sound not very logical if you really think about what God is and what Gods are.
(Sorry Brian McLaren,I once again go with David Bentley Hart here )

Let me also be clear here that I do not per se have to reject polytheism here, even if being a more than convinced monotheist. I actually happen to have no problem at all with the existence of the gods, but just want the clear that whatever they are, they are not God and not in the same league at all. If they exist they are powers of nature or higher beings inside the word, or maybe entities on (fallen) archangel-level, or in some cases even thoughtform-entities (Hey Fotamecus, did you beat old Chronos already?) or just anthropomorphic personifications of actually rather impersonal forces inside this world. (WATCH OUT WITH WHAT YOU SAY HERE, I KEEP MY EYES ON YOU!)

It might even be that in a soft polytheistic vein what is called ‘gods’ are only personifications of the One, the Divine, which is thus just a way to describe aspects of God. Certain schools of Hinduism and some African religions seem to think that way. If I understand Yoruba well the orishas might function in such a way for example.

Still I as a Christian believe that I have access to a much clearer view on and path to the Multiversal Creator, wich is found in Christ as the most fully revelation of God. Yes, the most scandalous claim of Christianity is not the trinity which mostly leads to more philosophical discussions, long words and misunderstanding of these words, but rather the Incarnation, the idea that in the person of a human Jesus the Creator stepped into His Creation and even shared in our suffering -well, got tortured to death eventually even-, and in partaking in death conquered death, sin and evil, But that’s another thing. Let’s note also that the Living Word (Logos) is something completely different from all our human formulations.

So like the title says, I don’t care for thing mono-polytheism (and even less for any form of monopoly-theism, in that matter). If God is not the Absolute, the One, the Creator it makes no sense being a monotheist at all. We end up with a conceptual demiurge at best, and a self-created illusion or even God-replacing egregore at worst… Conceptual idolatry is always a danger for those who want to define God instead of just letting God be God while acknowledging that no theology will hqdefaultever fully describe the One. (Except for the Living Word, Christ, but here we have the same problem that we need Christ to just be Christ, and not try to trap him in our formulations and description like a dried butterfly in a museum collection.)

So for anyone who wants to discuss God and theology with me, please accept that the classical monotheist definition of God as the Creator of the universe (from which everything originates, including the regularities that we call ‘laws of nature’), not some being inside the universe bound by the ‘laws of nature’ is crucial for me. You can deny the existence of this God, but arguing about the existence of merely a one-of-its-kind god in this world is not something I want to defend and something I’m completely not interested in at all.

What do you think?

Peace

Bram

Now this is extreme Christian introvertphobia!


DSCF0083Introvertphobia, or extravertnormativity, the tendency to try to have an all-introvert environment, which might mean that the introversion of eventual introverts that are in the way of this grand vision might need to be erased, was one of the topics of one of my recent posts here, and might be explored more here in the future, since I need to tackle more angles of it, and not much people seem to ever have done such… Today I saw an example of it that I hope is representative of nothing  bigger than just one USAmerican churchplant, but even for that it’s a bit painful for me to see.

To sum up the difference between introverts and extroverts that are important for this this discussion I will quote a part from the earlier post:

To simplify things too much for those wondering what the introvert/extrovert business is actually about: an introvert gets his energy from being alone, an extrovert gets it from being around people. So I don’t like big groups and mass event. Too many people around me can drain my energy especially if I have to pay attention to them, and I might need lots of time alone to regain that energy… And oh, it’s not a lifestyle of choice, it’s an inborn personality type parameter. One can learn to not act on it and pretend to be extrovert in some cases, but that would be at the expense of a lot of energy and  a loss of identity.

So I was discussing the problem of the agressive extravertphobia inherent to certain forms of prescriptive male gender roles (a topic for a later post) on a  FB group earlier today, when someone gave me the following, which is taken from a Sunday school handbook from an American church plant. It’s about David Brainerd, who was a missionary to the native Americans:9marks introvertphobia It might be that some people don’t understand, but reading something like this triggers all my alarms, and makes me see every introversion-erasure I’ve met again before my eyes. But this time it’s cloaked in Christian condemnations too….
I suppose it has something to do with the influence of a very extroverted surrounding culture that isn’t very understanding towards others. I do have the idea that some American milieus are even worse than the working class environment that I described in my last post on this subject. I also fear that the words ‘an unhealthy preference for devotional solitude over sharpening friendships’ can be meant to have more control of the people. The more they are in the group the more they can be controlled.

All of this is all the stranger because it is the most normal thing in the world for spiritual people (of any religion) to take time alone for prayer and meditation, no matter how many friendships they do have.
Even Jesus did so, and spent a lot of time alone in nature to pray and be with His Father so thinking that there’s something wrong with needing time alone to ‘recharge’ (as an introvert) and reconnect with God (devotionally) would also exclude Christ Himself…

And it’s very new to me too. While extravertnormative behaviour can be prevalent on stage with group events and stuff like that, such a deep condemnation of the need to recharge alone to connect with God completely caught me off-guard.  Because for me it’s so atypical: All my life I’ve had evangelicals mostly defend ‘quiet time’ alone with bible and prayer and so. In other Christian traditions there’s even more contemplative practice.

I must say that I hope that this is a single example, and that these things are rare. Not that there isn’t a lot of Introvertphobia and extravertnormativity in much more subtle forms in certain Christian circles, but this is, as we say in Flemish, too stupid to knock dead. I don’t see how anyone can take this seriously…

But I suppose than in the end it’ll come to this:
“Being introverted is an orientation, not a choice…”
– “No it isn’t, repent you sinner and join our very social group every moment of your free time!!!”
-“AAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah”
(yes, to an introvert this sounds very much like hell!)

so what do you think?

peace

Bram

“Welcome to my Book of the Damned!”


You might have noticed some changes on the blog here. Apart from the background colour and the new picture there’s also that new subtitle. I’m still a stranger on this planet but the subtitle right now has become

‘Welcome to my Book of the Damned!’

This probably is a rather weird subtitle for a simple Christian bcharles Fortlogger, armchair philosopher and idea collector like yours truly…. But faithful readers of my writings, as well as connoisseurs in the field of anomalistics, should be able by now to get the reference to the masterpiece of Charles Fort. His ‘The book of the Damned’ is mostly seen as an outdated weird book on the paranormal, but it is much more than that. I’ve said earlier that Charles Fort, and not the supposed freethinking modern ‘sceptics’, might be the ultimate ‘free thinker’. It contains also some of the most overlooked interesting modern philosophical writings from the last centuries that never made the academic canon. (As well as a lot of endless lists of weird stuff that fell out of the sky and other things that are beyond unreadable, I admit readily!)

But apart from his ‘intermediatist’ philosophy, which is as much worth reading as a lot op people in the academic canon, the thing about his masterpiece that interests me is his goal: to collect the ‘damned’, the excluded, the things outside of the canon or Zeitgeist…

A procession of the damned.
By the damned, I mean the excluded.
We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded.
(Charles Fort, the Book of the Damned)

I don’t share Fort’s obsession with weird things, animals and fluids falling out of the sky at all, but I always felt attracted to the excluded, the silenced, the forgotten, the unseen, the uncanonised, etc… The questions no-one asks, the things that have no place in a worldview, etc…

(And those things sometimes seem to come at me to, I can’t help it…)

So although I never set out to, it seems like my blog has evolved into a ‘book of the Damned’ regularly. I’ve been blogging about egregores and thoughtform-entities as an evangelical Christian while trying to understand them more or lest scientifically, and connected C.S. Lewis to chaos magick in an exploration of the theory behind paradigm shifting. I‘ve coined the word ‘introverphobia’ (and also ‘extravertnormativity’) in my last post, as well as the term atheist gaslighting. I’ve tried to define logical fallacies that are unrecognised like what I called ‘package deal thinking‘ or ‘centrated thinking‘. I’ve linked our Western naivete with the supernatural to evolutionary biogeography,, and so on…

Except when I write meditations about Divine Love, I mostly end up somewhere about the box. I was going to add, ‘and when I promote my music, but even that seems to be quite far out to most… And I think I should embrace that as a calling, since I seem to not even be able to do otherwise… Yes, there’s a lot of things that are called ‘alternative’ or ‘out of the box’ that are firmly within their own canon and that still a quite big following, even though it’s technically minority. Think of the so-called alternative music of the nineties that was still extremely commercial and had quite a big following…. I never fitted in in those pseudo-alternative groups any more as I did in the mainstream I’m afraid.

I might’ve tried to fit in for years though. I started blogging in English at the end of the ’emerging  church dialog, and while I recognised some things and learned a lot, in the end it just ended up on the other side of the weird American conservative/liberal divide to merge with ‘progressive Christianity’ in some kind of theological liberalism that I as a non-modern can’t care about…
(A lot of emergers even seem to have emerged far from Christianity in places that are not interesting to me at all. Materialist modernism never was an option for me…) In the end, after having explored a lot of theology, science and philosophy throughout the years I had to explore the supernatural by myself (mostly theoretically), because outside of the Charismatic world a lot of people seemed to deny it completely.

(Notice also that by now I stopped bothering with trying to follow a certain ideological orthodoxy of ‘political correctness’, especially belonging a culture that I’m unable to understand anyway. Walking on invisible eggshells is unsustainable anyway…)

So I won’t bother anymore with fitting in. Charles Fort might disagree, but things are still real when ignored. and I seem to need to write about those things sometimes. Even when no-one else cares about them or believes in them or sees the need to.

So welcome to my Book of the Damned!

Bram

 

Boys who have to make the first move and the misandric introvertphobia of patriarchy…


puddleWelcome again at Brambonius’ blog in English. As you already guessed from the rather strange title filled with contemporary (pseudo)feminist lingo, today I’ll venture into new grounds again, places where I don’t have much reference material at all…

By lack of better words this post is  about the ‘misandric introvertphobia of patriarchy’ where ‘misandric introvertphobia’ can be taken both as one combined term, the discrimination against introverted men, as as the combination of both. (see also note at the end.)

Where do I start? If it wasn’t clear already: I’m an introverted man myself, so I’m offering some kind of insider perspective here. Even if you don’t agree with me at all, I hope you will still be able to read this as the account of a specimen giving an insider perspective…

To simplify things too much for those wondering what the introvert/extrovert business is actually about: an introvert gets his energy from being alone, an extrovert gets it from being around people. So I don’t like big groups and mass event. Too many people around me can drain my energy especially if I have to pay attention to them, and I might need lots of time alone to regain that energy… And oh, it’s not a lifestyle of choice, it’s an inborn personality type parameter. One can learn to not act on it and pretend to be ectravert in some cases, but that would be at the expense of a lot of energy and  a loss of identity.

I personally don’t see a problem with people being different from each other. So please, be extroverted all that you want and hang out with loud people all the time as much as you want, as long as you don’t expect me to do the same. And that’s the problem introverts sometimes face. We’re seen as asocial by some, and completely misunderstood and unknowingly erased by a lot of others. In certain circles this isn’t a problem (most computer programmers and certain subcultures of nerds for example will be quite introverted and might be scared from people that are too introverted) while in others it is.

I can remember that around age 12 or so I read a sentence in an interview, I can’t recall at all with whom, but he said something like ‘I something hear young people say that their hobbies are reading or listening to music, and then I always thing ‘that’s not true, youLarus are just bored most of the time’. I had no words to describe how I was shocked by that sentence, so much that I still remember it more than 20 years later. But it seemed a complete unwillingness to understand people who were like me, and unlike that guy himself…

Years later, in my young twenties I had a job among ‘working class people’ in the public green department of the city. Before that job I never realised how big class differences could be, and how much certain personality types were favoured over others in certain environments. I was also quite shocked by the openness in which people could say racist, sexist and homophobic stuff in a way that would be impossible in places that I could understand much more, for example the academic circles my wife was in at that moment. They probably would be a textbook example of everything ‘intersectional feminism’ is against, except that it would be quite classist to say so…

Unlike the usual and more canonical forms of institutionalised bigotry on basis of ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation (and class, I was already an outsider because I was of the more ‘intellectual middle class’ type, you know, I read books, and liked philosophy, and stuff like that. ) there also was an unspoken and unnamed aversion against introverted people too. I’ve been called asocial and excluded because of the moments when I wanted to be alone after being with those people who drained my energy. I was completely an outsider, and not part of the supposed ‘privileged’ mostly male group btw. (Not wanting to talk about women in a not-so-positive way might already have played a role in that too) Much less than the few women who had more affinity with the group culture and a more outgoing personality, who were much more able to fit in. (or the non-Belgians)

Unspoken and unnamed but still perceived real differences sometimes seem to be much more of a barrier than the classical areas of discrimination. At least those can be addressed, while I didn’t even have the word ‘introvert’ nor any explanation to explain how I was different at that time…

‘Patriarchy’ as a whole seems to be favouring ‘strong men’ who are ‘manly’, which often excludes more introvert men, who thus or have to adapt and change their personality (which is even more energy draining, and creates a lot of cognitive dissonance) or be ostracised and excluded. It’s not always being male that gives privilege in a patriarchal environment, but more often the amount of privilege is directly proportional to the way in which you fit a desired model of manlinness. Having a personality completely opposite to that model of manliness will not really be helpful here, while being a Marget Thatcher clone will surely make you ‘one of the boys’… At least in the ‘masulinlist’ environments that I’ve seen.

All of this is probably also part of the reason I’m allergic to a lot of Christian masculinity stuff. The dangerous extrovert leader with a lot of assertivity just isn’t me and can’t be me. Sorry Mark Driscoll, whatever your ideas about how to get men into your church, they’ll always scare me away and offend me! Another part of the reason is that their so-called Christian ‘manliness’ is often the opposite of the character laid out in Paul’s list of the fruits of the Spirit, so it fails to be ‘biblical’ on all acounts. If you claim to follow the book, do your best to take that book seriously…

So let’s now go to the boys who have to make the first move from the title. That seems to be a ‘rule’ in certain cultures: the male always takes the initiative. The first time I heard about that rule I thought it was something alien from barbaric backwards groups or weirdos living in a closed community after being left there after colonisation times for centuries without contact with the mainland culture, but it actually seems quite prevalent in certain American ‘conservative’ Christian circles for example. Some even defend it as a biblical concept for some reason.

I’ve never understood that kind of logic, but it is something that makes the world a lot harder for introvert boys while it favours the more outgoing men that are already favoured by this kind of culture and seen as more manly. Introversion in men is not exactly supported by that kind of gender standards, in ways that go far beyond this silly rule. Or as I posted on facebook earlier, in a text that was more written for shock value maybe:

“Wanting boys to always take the first step in romance and relationship ultimately just creates a Darwinian selection against introversion in men. But since it does select for introversion in women and I suppose that introversion isn’t that gender-dependent the net result is only that introvert boys in every generation need to or slaughter their personality or remain alone without procreation…”

Oh yes, I’m exaggerating here, and we introverts generally do often develop coping mechanisms to live in an extrovert-normative world, but living with coping mechanisms all the time will still be quite exhausting. And it feels fake to never be able to be yourself…
(I also do know that introIlikehugsverted is not always the same as shy, thank you…)

So, systems that are based on male domination are destructive for most introverted males, who might in certain situations need to or give up their personality or give up their chances on a place in the system.

And even without this whole story and incoherent rant, ‘the boy always has to take the initiative’ is a dumb rule that is sexist to both genders at the same time anyway…

What do you think?

Peace

Bram

Note at the end: I guess that only those words ‘the misandric introvertphobia of patriarchy’ already might be problematic to some… And not just because this kind of feminist-sounding lingo might make me unpopular by some people, since I’ve lost those kind of readers a long time ago anyway. Some other people more inclined to feminism might dislike my use of the word ‘misandry’, since the use of certain shibbolets  and a certain kind of logic that’s quite like the ‘guilt by association’ fallacy. Ironically that’s probably in part because its use by idiots who would themselves engage in the misandry described in this post though…
And then the other word I used, ‘introvertphobia’, is also not a canonical term in the catalogue of bigotry against minorities. I must say that I actually don’t really like the use of ‘-phobia’ for discrimination against a certain group, on grounds of etymological consistency among other reasons. Fear is not the same of discrimination or ‘bigotry’, and the whole X-phobic thing to me sounds a lot like Orwellian Newspeak sometimes… But the simplest way to be understood is to use this kind of terminology now I’m afraid, and thus my use of a -phobic neologism.
And then there’s the problem I have with the word ‘patriarchy’, which is often not defined at all and used as a container for all the sexist things in society one doesn’t like. Thus being one of the ‘thought packages’ I described in my last post that doesn’t have many meaning except for the establishing a strong we/them dichotomy.
Notice also that by now I stopped bothering with trying to follow a certain orthodoxy of ‘political correctness’ belonging a culture that I’m unable to understand anyway. Walking on invisible eggshells is unsustainable anyway…

On the logical fallacy of package-deal thinking


Hmm, I’m probably  back, moFoto0067re or less… This is a post that has been waiting to get finished for moths anyway, and it’s one  in which I try to pin down a problem that I see in this world without having a proper term to describe it (as far as I’m aware) so I can use my self-coined term later and link to this post. It’s a thought-error that I will call the logical fallacy of package-deal thinking by lack of a better name.

We like in a world ruled by semantics, and yet sometimes for most people nameless things are more important than the named things that we see with every 3 mouseclicks. So I write this because I have the idea that it’s very important for all of us to be able recognise and be conscious of this thought error which is also a potent tool for manipulation, lest we be lured into potentially dangerous ideologies because they have just one thing in common with us and with Truth or general common sense. The fact that there doesn’t even seem to be a commonly used term to describe what I’m writing about here today is beyond worrying actually. (I do actually hope that someone proves me wrong and gives me a term and tells me it’s a widely recognised problem. Please do!!!)

So what do I mean with the ‘logical fallacy of package-deal thinking’? I would suppose the name is quite clear but I’ll take some examples here to explain it further. Let’s use American culture as a source of examples today because it’s so pervasive in and beyond the English-speaking internet, and because a lot of my readers seem to be Americans for some reason.
So again, correct me if I’m wrong and inaccurately describe American culture, but as I perceive it a lot of people in the US seem to think for example that as a Christian one is ‘republican’, and thus naturally for unrestricted gun ownership, and for whatever goes under the name of capitalism today. The same goes with the idea that ‘pro-life’ (being against abortion) is related to being for the death penalty and pro whatever war America is waging overseas at the moment.

I do hope that I’m just rehashing faulty stereotypes here as an ignorant European who doesn’t understand American culture, because making these bundles of concepts is actually completely nonsense. There actually is a lot more reason to be anti-war and death penalty if one is ‘pro-life’ (especially if one wants that term to have any meaning beyond the Orwellian redefinitions of ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ in the US abortion debates) .

The only connection is a historical context.

Or take the idea of ‘republicanism’. In Belgium a republican would be someone who is against the monarchy and in favour of a republic (like someone yelling ‘vive la republique’ at the coronation ceremony of the king  ). This is Jesus_gun-210x210not connected to anything else the ballast that the American Republican party has accumulated in the last decades, which would baffle an oldschool American republican too. So the thought-package connected to ‘republicanism’ (mostly the same things as go together with American ‘conservative’ ideology) is a very arbitrary box of unrelated stuff jumbled together by history and local culture.
In Northern Ireland a republican might be someone who is for the ‘Catholics’ (Irish nationalists) and against the Protestants and England.
So what’s the problem? It’s is very simple: Certain concepts that are actually unrelated are in peoples mind intrinsically tied to each other into packages, often under some umbrella term (which also changes meaning contextually, language isn’t fixed either and can be quiet fluid…) But except for that quite arbitrary thought-package in a certain context, there actually is no connection between the different things tied together at all.

Christianity has nothing to do with favouring ‘republicanism’ over a monarchy or even a direct democracy. Favouring a republic has nothing to do with capitalism or with Christianity at all, etc etc…

Most of these package deals are very contextual and have a very random historical origin of how they got lumped together.

But there’s more…
Most stereotypes are based on the same thing, and in these cases it’s often just generalisations that might be true for a majority of the group described. Assuming that I like cars, watching sports, enjoy violent films and have no respect for women just because I am a man would be a good example. (None of these applies to me btw. Sorry Mark Driscoll…)

To use more hip lingo, these idea-packages are somehow a subspecies of the in certain circles currently very popular ‘social constructs’. In fact they are are accidental (or in some cases manufactured) constructs of our culture, which are, like all constructs  actually very contextually defined, and often rather fluid and in most cases variable over time and space. But still in a given context they seem quite solid and it’s often very hard to go against them.

It also makes intercultural communication problematic. In the US something ‘conservative’ that is supposed to be connected to Christianity is obsessed with free market capitalism. In Belgium it’s the liberal party that has a similar ideology and is quite anti-religious…(well, no surprise, no matter what Americans call it is still neo-liberalism…) So our packages are completely incompatible. It’s liberalism and socialism that are on opposite sides over here…

And still we need the complete deconstruction of those packages if we want to do justice to reality and the people we encounter. Which is not always simple, and it can take a lot of energy to have to go against a certain ingrained package-deal that is taken for granted time after time after time. It can get very tiring, and needs understanding from the other side too (which won’t always come!).

And undeconstructed packages can actually make all meaningful conversation impossible…

It’s very hard to see through those package deals, and to not get tangled up in the guilt-by-association tactics that often flow from it. But it’s on everyones interest that we learn to see and avoid this logical fallacy.

Anyone with me?

peace

Bram

‘Contemporary Christian Muzak 2004​-​2007’ is finally here!


It might be 8 years too late, but here it is: Bram Cools presents ‘Contemporary Christian Muzak’ (2004-2007) is finally available as an album. (digital download only now, but if there is demand a CD-R edition might be produced too!)

So what is ‘Contemporary Christian Muzak’? It is not at all elevator music composed for use in megachurces as the name might suggest, but rather a weird lo-fi/indie project from Bram Cools with spiritually-minded songs for all audiences. The songs here are from the time when it had its live incarnation in the ‘Contemporary Christian Muzak’ collective (2004-2007). Since the band itself has not been recorded the versions here are the original demo-versions with Bram going in extreme multitrack mode sometimes, playing a whole noise-orchestra all by himself!

Weird things are going on indeed on this album. The opener ‘St-John opens’ will probably scare some people away already with its free-form impro, but don’t worry: the rest of the album will mostly contain actual songs and not just freaky soundscapes… The second song and  Bram Cools classic ‘father I am tired’ for example shows some of what can be expected: Bram in excessive multitrack with a lot of instruments, vocals and noise, and a psalm-like cry for help in this dark world. Throughout the rest of the songs we find a musical universe that is far from mainstream and will never be commercial, with very diverse arrangements, compositions to express the spiritual struggle and the search for a life centred on Love.

So give it a listen and if you like it you can download it free or at a chosen price, and share with people who might enjoy it.

peace

Bram

(And thank you for clicking!)

PS: Find more Bram Cools music for download at bandcamp.com. (All music is currently ‘choose your price’)

Traclist:

1. St-John opens 01:49
2. Father I’m tired 03:40
3. Elvis has left the building 05:10
4. Qualities 05:06
5. dead end streets 03:19
6. stones cry out 04:17
7. last words to the first Church 03:28
8. Feelings say nothing 05:22
9. the hippie song 04:40
10. Without You I’m nothing 03:46
11. not a tame lion 03:55
12. Yeshua 03:07