Something Rotten in the Dominion

Ever since I moved to Canada permanently, my first response to the question of “How do you like Canada?” has been “I hate it.” This position has been difficult to defend and articulate . . . until now.

I learned something yesterday I didn’t know before: in the latest Western Standard, in an excellent essay about the emasculation of men in today’s “progressive” societies, we read that during the Montreal Massacre of 1989, the gunman entered a classroom containing 10 women and 50 men. He “forced the men to leave at gunpoint” and mowed down the women.

In my humble opinion, any society where among 50 — count ’em: 50 — men there are none who would risk their lives defending women against a lone assailant is sick, sick, sick.

For some reason this incident has been inducted into the feminist hagiography as exemplifying the problem of violence against women in society. But if those non-patriarchal guys in that classroom had been brought up with a bit more chivalry and a bit less “women’s studies,” they would have stopped the violence against their female classmates right there.

This is the triumph of idealism over realism: violence is an evil, so it is better to pretend that good people must never be violent (and thus have no defense against the lone nutcase) than to realize that A: lone nutcases will always be with us, and B: men are good at and prone to violence. But: normal men have an instinctual drive to protect women and children. Like fire or table knives, male violence is both dangerous and useful, and should be acknowledged and controlled rather than suppressed.

The Western Standard writer makes an interesting observation (not backed up with statistics, but reasonable-seeming to me — always dangerous, I know) that the prevalent zero-tolerance attitude towards male violence in schools tends to increase the severity of violence when it does happen. It used to be that a playground scuffle (between equally-matched opponents; bullying is another matter, but ironically the best response to bullying is physical violence, since bullies are usually insecure and cowards) was no big deal.

Boys were taught to “fight fair” — using the instinctual primate techinques of shoving and punching to the chest and head, which don’t usually result in much damage. Biting, scratching and hitting below the belt were out of line — in fact, these were seen as “girly.” And two guys can turn out to be best friends an hour after a fight. (This is something girls never understand. Female conflict tends to be much more long-lasting and intensely felt than male violence.)

But now we live in the age of the drive-by shooting and playground stabbing. Without the possibility of the middle ground of the playground scuffle, conflicts quickly escalate into deadly violence. I’m reminded of the proverbial story of the Chinese peasants living under an Emperor who only had one penalty: death. When they found themselves starving, they asked themselves: “What is the penalty for stealing rice? Death. And what is the penalty for revolting against the Emperor? Death.” So they had nothing to lose by revolting. So in today’s schools, if one will be expelled for taking a swing at someone, might as well shoot them in the head.

Great Expectations

I was browsing the listings on Blogs 4 God today, and some thoughts came together with a conversation I had with some friends last weekend. The vast majority of the personal blogs were self-described epic journeys of faith, lives of saints, chronicles of trials and tribulations. My friends and I — thirty-something now — were talking about how our life goals were turning out. The buddy whose ambition was sainthood is an English prof, and the theology student is a drywaller, and they both seemed faintly bitter. I must admit I got a little mad. “Maybe God thinks you’re a good influence on those college kids,” I said. “And maybe God thinks that smiling at your wife today when you got home all covered in plaster dust was an act as full as merit as any sermon ever preached.”

Why is it that Evangelicals must all be Saints, mystics and paladins? Notice the capital letters — I know we’re all ἁγιοι, but in the circles I grew up in, and mostly still hang around (that’s a story for another day :-) the expectation is that one must be “on fire for the Lord,” that one’s purpose in life is to “do great things for the Kingdom.” If you’re not involved in some kind of formal ministry — “you could at least teach Sunday School” — you’re a second-class citizen.

Why is it that we are all expected to become heroes of the faith? Is my faith still legitimate if it’s a quiet pool rather than a bonfire? Are there degrees of good works? If I go to work every day, am courteous and willing to listen to my colleagues, if I have a few good friends I call regularly to say “Hello, how are things?,” if I am (someday, perhaps) a loving husband and father, this makes me less of a Christian than if I don’t spend another twenty hours a week saving souls.

I suspect it’s because it is Type A personalities who go into positions of public ministry and teaching, and they think that everyone has their level of passion and drive. But quite frankly, I don’t have the energy. I read my Bible and say my prayers every day, and it gives me satisfaction and insight, but because I’m not immediately transported to the third heaven I’m somehow missing out.

We read the Acts of the Apostles to be inspired by the heroes, but we ignore the fact that for every apostle there were hundreds, nay, thousands of ordinary folk who in their quiet and unrecorded lives went to work, loved their spouses and kids, baked cookies for after church, helped repair a neighbor’s garden shed, gave cheerfully at collection time, put up the wandering missionary or baked a casserole for those who did, hugged a crying friend or helped change an oil filter.

Why are they less worthy?

And Then is Heard No More

I think this will be the last post here for a long while, if ever. One of the main reasons I started this blog was to remedy what certain people said was a flaw in my character: a lack of communication. Therefore I began communicating. But the response has been underwhelming, to say the least. And it seems that my opinions here have in fact cost me friends, or at least potential pen-pals. To the three people who’ve ever commented here with any frequency (you know who you are): thank you. To anyone else: don’t ever talk to me about communication or openness or honesty. If two years of shouting into the void on this site is going to get me net negative relationships, then screw it: I’ll be better off dissembling or simply saying nothing at all.

Augustine and Genesis

Came across an article about a new translation of St. Augustine’s Interpretation of Genesis. In which the Church Father proposes various ways of interpreting Genesis 1-3 which don’t much resemble the modern fundamentalist view. Proving that the fundamentalist view is by no means in the main stream of orthodoxy.

I’ve used this example many a time in arguments with young-earth special creationists. I like very much what Augustine says:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men…. Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by these who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.

I have been caught in between several times as Christian friends of mine are debating non-Christians who bring up Creation. I find myself arguing the evolutionist side, which doesn’t do any good on either side — the non-Christians are just amused at the confusion, and the Christians are resentful for the lack of support.